Army troops return to
September 22, 2013
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City
Samar – One company of soldiers deployed for nine (9) months in Cebu
arrive in Catbalogan City via a Philippine Navy transport ship on
September 18, 2013 at Pier 2.
Captain Rex A. Carranzo, Commanding Officer of Bravo Company, 34th
Infantry Battalion, led his troops in disembarking from the Navy ship
and in marching off to the eagerly waiting families, friends and
comrades in a welcome ceremony held in their honor at Pier 2,
Catbalogan City, Samar.
The welcoming party was led by Brigadier General Virgilio M. Espineli,
Assistant Division Commander of 8th Infantry Division.
The said troops will initially undergo one (1) week of refresher
seminar anchored on human rights and Bayanihan team activity prior to
their redeployment to Northern Samar. This seminar will prepare them
in the community services that they will provide to the people of
Northern Samar upon redeployment.
BGen Espineli said, “I urge you to continue doing your share of tasks
and continue in rendering your services to the people of Northern
Samar once you will return to your battalion.”
Brigadier General Jet B. Velarmino AFP, Commander of 8th Infantry
Division in his message to the returning troops said, “I commend all
of you for your laudable accomplishments in helping maintain the peace
and sustain the growth and development in Cebu. Now that you have
returned, I expect the same dedication and commitment to service from
all of you to contribute to winning the peace and sustainable
development in Northern Samar where you will be redeployed to.”
partnership seen in EV
By RPCRD, Police Regional
September 17, 2013
CAMP SEC. KANGLEON, Palo,
Leyte – A stronger partnership between the military and the police
will benefit the people in Eastern Visayas and will usher prosperity
and progress, the region’s top police official said.
“The convergence of effort
between the Philippine National Police and our counterparts in the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the active support of
other stakeholders, will ensure a peaceful atmosphere and will drive
economic development,” said PCSupt. Elmer R. Soria, director of Police
Regional Office 8 (PRO8).
He added that he will
closely coordinate with Brig. Gen. Jet Velarmino, the newly installed
Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine
Army, in neutralizing the insurgency problem and maintaining the peace
and order in the region.
Soria and Velarmino belong
to the Philippine Military Academy “Sandigan” class of 1982.
“We will be working together
to crush terrorist and criminal activities which undermine peace and
stability in Eastern Visayas,” Soria disclosed.
The police official also
lauded the achievements of Maj. Gen. Gerardo T. Layug, Velarmino’s
predecessor, in addressing the insurgency problem during his 17-month
stint as the region’s top military official.
“We wish Sir Layug the best
on his retirement. With 37 years of dedicated service to our country
and the Filipino people, he certainly deserves a grand vacation and
relax with his family,” Soria added.
It was during Layug’s watch
that the province of Eastern Samar was declared as “Manageable
Conflict-Affected and Development Ready Province” on 25 March 2013.
Meanwhile, the litmus test
for the strengthened AFP-PNP partnership will be the barangay
elections next month wherein some 2.6 million voters will select their
“Just like in the May
midterm elections, we will be working closely with the military in
various security operations to ensure a peaceful barangay polls,” the
police official averred.
This joint effort include
the establishment of joint AFP-PNP checkpoints, the campaign against
loose firearms and neutralization of wanted persons, to include
members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The PRO8 and 8th ID PA have
also jointly conducted several internal peace and security operations
in the past that led to the neutralization of several NPA leaders,
including the arrests of Maricar Adlao alias Diwa/Apple, Political
Officer of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVPRC); Allie
Tafalla alias Macao, Secretary of Section Committee of Central Samar,
Samar Provincial Party Committee (SPPC); Juan Paolo Rodrigo Verzosa
alias Kokoy, Intelligence Officer of the SPPC and his wife Grace alias
Lenon, Staff of the Reproduction Bureau, EVRPC in Brgy Fortune,
Marikina City and Esther Belicario alias Edna Montes, Secretary of
Provincial White Area Committee in Eastern Samar.
Senate pork probe
should continue – Chiz
By Office of Senator Chiz
September 17, 2013
PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz
Escudero said Senate should continue with its investigation on the
priority development assistance fund (PDAF) rip off despite the filing
of plunder charges against some senators, congressmen and individuals
in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“We did the same in the case
of AFP General Carlos Garcia. His case was already before the
Sandiganbayan and it was already in the plea bargaining stage. We went
on with the Senate investigation.”
Escudero, chairman of the
Senate committee on finance said, in sustaining its own investigation,
affords the public the venue to be informed with the facts of the case
through testimonies under oath.
“The Senate remains to be
the only venue where the citizens can very much acquaint themselves
with the goings-on of this case from the witnesses and key players
themselves. This has become equally important to the people because
they now become more vigilant to demand to know where and how the
government utilize the taxes they pay.”
The senator added that there
are still many facts to be had surrounding the siphoning of lawmakers
funds to bogus organizations.
“The uncovering of the
Napoles-NGO operandi does not close the issue, but of course this is
where we take off. Rather, it opened a whole wide door about other
NGOs, 82 as reported in the Commission on Audit report. There are only
8 Napoles-related NGOs; we’d like to find out how the remaining 74
operates. It follows the same operation and pattern as the Napoles
Group and the amount involved is more staggering than what is being
looked at now.”
Escudero, the principal
author who asked the Senate to probe the scandal had asked the
committee to call for Janet Lim Napoles, tagged as the mastermind of
the scam. Other whistleblowers and key personalities already mentioned
in Luy’s narration should also be called before the Senate, he said.
“I have asked the committee
to invite Napoles. I also spoke with Chairman TG Guingona about it.
The court has the jurisdiction over her. Whether it grants our request
or not is totally up to the court. But let it not be said that the
senate did not pursue it.”
During last week’s hearing,
Escudero requested for the appearance of the manager of Metrobank’s
Magdalena branch where Napoles was said to have made a onetime
withdrawal worth P75-M.
“A withdrawal this huge is a
cause for red flag from the bank to the AMLAC. The withdrawal may have
been reported to the AMLAC as an automatic procedure. But what we’d
like to know is if this withdrawal was reported by the bank under the
'know your client rule' by the BSP. Under the rule, the bank manager
must know Napoles personally and what she does for a living. The
sources of the big amounts she withdraw must be known to the manager.
The fund from the treasury goes to an NGO account and then moved to
Napoles’. There is an illegal and dubious pattern already that should
have raised the red lights.”
8ID Change of Command
By DPAO, 8ID PA
September 13, 2013
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City
– A Testimonial Review in honor of Major General Gerardo T Layug AFP
and Change of Command ceremony was held yesterday at the Headquarters
of the 8th Infantry Division. Brigadier General Jet B Velarmino AFP
took over the Command of the Division from Major General Gerardo T
Layug AFP who officially retired yesterday after serving the Armed
Forces of the Philippines for 37 years. Major General Samuel L
Narbuada AFP, Inspector General, Philippine Army represented
Lieutenant General Noel A Coballes AFP, the Commanding General,
Philippine Army as the Guest of Honor and Presiding Officer.
Distinguished guests and awardees from the public and the private
sectors namely: Hon. Jose L Ong, Governor of Northern Samar; Hon.
Conrado B Nicart Jr, Governor of Eastern Samar; Hon. Emil Ong,
Representative 2nd District, Northern Samar Hon. Harlin Abayon,
Representative 1st District Northern Samar; Most Reverends Isabelo C
Abarquez, Bishop Diocese of Calbayog and Emmanuel Trance, Bishop of
the Diocese of Catarman.
Other awardees sent their respective representatives to receive the
awards are the following: Hon Sharee Ann Tan, Governor of Samar
represented by Ms Hannia Tan, Tourism Officer; Hon Ben Evardone,
Representative Lone District, Eastern Samar represented by Hon Marcelo
Ferdinand Picardal; and Hon Mel Senen S Sarmiento Representative, 1st
District, Samar represented by Hon Charlie Cońejos, Board Member 1st
District of Samar.
And likewise the invited guests that also sent their representatives
were; Hon Leopoldo L Petilla, Governor of Leyte represented by Hon
Mesias Arevalo, Board Member 4th District of Leyte; Director Manolito
D Ragub, Regional Executive Director DENR, RO8 represented by Marciano
Talavera, Technical Director for Forestry; Director Jose Nick Mendros,
Regional Director COMELEC, RO8 represented by Atty Ma. Corazon
Montallana; Director Rolando A Asis, Regional Director, DPWH, RO8
represented by Engineer Efren Padilla; Director Rey M Gozon, Acting
Regional Director, OCD8 represented by Bhenlie Linde; Director Edgar A
Catarongan, MPA, Regional Director, LTO, RO8 represented by Mr Ruben
Mancol, OIC, LTO Catbalogan and Stephany Uy Tan the City Mayor of
Catbalogan represented by Hon Bembot Bermejo City Councilor.
In his farewell speech, Major General Layug acknowledged the
professionalism and commitment of the soldiers of the 8th Infantry
Division and the support and cooperation of the public and the private
sector partners who have worked with him to make Region 8 a better
place to live-in and made 8ID as one of the best Infantry Divisions of
the Philippine Army for Calendar Year 2012.
The newly designated 8ID Commander, Brigadier General Jet B Velarmino
called on the personnel of the Division and the partners in the
civilian sector to continue pursuing effort with the local officials
and community leaders as well as the citizenry . “I envision that
under my charge, the soldiers of 8ID will give the genuine spirit of
“Bayanihan” alive. I will definitely work by defining the framework of
the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan and the Army
Transformation Roadmap (ATR).
BPAT’s plays key
role in crime prevention - Soria
By RPCRD, Police Regional
September 13, 2013
CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte –
The Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPATs) have a key role to play
in crime prevention, according to the top official of the Philippine
National Police in Eastern Visayas.
Police Regional Office 8
(PRO8) director PCSupt. Elmer R. Soria said that the PNP, with its
myriad and diverse tasks and functions that are so huge have been slow
to respond due to its sheer weight and enormousness as compared to
crime and criminality that have become so dynamic, inadvertive and
“Time calls for the
“creative dismemberment” of such PNP tasks and functions, the
empowerment of the community to formulate and implement its unique
policing practices, projects, programs, procedures and priorities,”
“This creative dismemberment
of PNP dinosaur spawned small Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams which
are trained, equipped and are fast, agile and responsive to the needs
of the community and works at the ground level where crime operates,”
the police official added.
He informed that the BPATs
is based on the Barangay Peacekeeping Operations concept that is “a
comprehensive, and catch-all anti-crime strategy that seeks to empower
all stakeholders to share the responsibility of peacekeeping and order
maintenance towards self-policing.”
“They are an effective tool
in the effective prevention, control and suppression of crime and
efficient management of disasters and emergencies and are valuable
partners in the development of the community,” the region’s top cop
said during Wednesday culmination program of the 19th National Crime
Prevention Week at PRO8’s Matapat Hall.
The general concept of
Barangay Peacekeeping is to involve the barangay officials, tanods,
Civilian Volunteer Organizations, Barangay Auxiliaries, Non-Government
Organizations and other People's Organization in the task of crime
prevention, control and suppression in partnership with the PNP from
the Provincial down to the Community Precincts level and the Local
Government Executives and Heads of Concerned Agencies.
The BPATs, as the main
actors, conducts community-based activities and information campaign
in support of the PNP’s anti-criminality effort, internal security
operation, and disaster management and control program.
Soria informed that 4,118
out of 4,390 or almost 94 percent of barangays in the region have
organized BPATs wherein close to 30,000 participants were trained on
the concept of BPAT that include lectures on law enforcement, disaster
relief, conflict resolution and environmental protection.
“They are really of big help
as force multiplier in maintaining the tranquil peace and order
situation in the region,” the police official averred.
Child rights NGO
joins public clamor to abolish pork; says children are the worst
victims of corruption
By Save the Children
September 12, 2013
MANILA – Save the Children
expressed its disgust over reports that some P10 billion pesos of
legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) have been
allegedly channelled to fake non-government organizations (NGOs)
through businesswoman, Janet Lim Napoles.
Save the Children is an
international child rights organization that has been implementing
programs and services for children in the Philippines for more than
thirty years, directly and in partnership with non-government
“In a country where almost
half of the population lives on less than ninety pesos a day, where
young children continue to die from malnutrition and drop out of
school because of poverty, where basic services do not reach remote
communities and where people sometimes even have to pay extra to
access health and education services, reports of private persons and
politicians living ostentatiously and getting wealthier through public
funds is nothing short of scandalous,” says Anna Lindenfors, Save the
Children Country Director.
As the investigation into
the PDAF scam unfolds, it reveals the systemic and organized way in
which the corruption has been taking place involving the legislators’
pork barrel funds.
“Children, as the biggest
segment of the population that access basic social services, are the
most affected by this kind of corruption. The ineffective spending of
public funds has been one of the major barriers to realizing
children’s rights and welfare. Money that allegedly went to the
pockets of Napoles should have gone to improving access to essential
services such as health, education and protection services for
children especially in areas where these are absolutely lacking. As a
signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Child, the government has
the obligation to use its resources to the maximum extent to deliver
these basic services in order to fulfill the rights of children
especially those who are marginalized,” adds Lindenfors.
Save the Children further
noted the lack of transparency and accountability throughout public
According to Minerva Cabiles,
Child Rights Governance Adviser of Save the Children, “Citizens,
including children, are hardly ever informed or consulted on how
government money should be spent. Children especially have no way of
finding out how public funds are actually spent. We have been
supporting the engagement of children’s organizations in the budgeting
process in their localities. Despite the challenges, these experiences
show that if given access to these processes, children can come up
with proposals and solutions based on data that they have gathered and
their own analysis of their situation.”
“We need to look beyond the
pork barrel scam and into addressing issues of transparency,
equitability, effectiveness and accountability in government spending.
While we would want more resources for children, there should also be
better spending that includes all children, especially the most
marginalized. Even if government invest more money in education or
social protection, for instance, if there is corruption, like a
leaking faucet, these investments will not be able to produce the
outcomes that we want for children,” Says Cabiles.
A 2011 study commissioned by
Save the Children showed the important role governance plays in
achieving outcomes in health and education, and the detrimental impact
of corruption on children’s rights to survival and development. Citing
a research on the impact of corruption in public health systems, the
study finds that, “while public spending has the capacity to reduce
under-five mortality, this can be achieved only where governance, as
measured by the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional
Assessment (CPIA) score, is sound (above 3.25). The study concludes
that more spending in medium and low CPIA countries would not be
expected to reduce child mortality.”
National statistics also
point to the relationship between education and health status and
governance. Figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board’s
Good Governance Index (which includes political governance, and health
and education indicators) shows that many provinces who ranked low in
the Good Governance Index are the same provinces considered as the
worst performers on the Child Development Index, a composite of
indicators covering education, health and quality of life for
Thus, Save the Children
joins and supports the clamor of the public and other civil society
organizations for the Government to:
- abolish the PDAF and all
other lump sum and discretionary funds within government;
- prosecute those within and
outside government, including those in the executive and the
legislative, who will be proven responsible for the gross misuse of
- channel these funds to
agencies that deliver basic social services, particularly the
Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health and
Department of Education;
mechanisms to ensure transparency, equitability and accountability in
government spending; and
- adopt systemic and
systematic solutions to curb corruption at all levels.
Adds Cabiles, “There may
have been beneficial projects funded through the PDAF, [but] in many
instances, the PDAF merely reinforces patronage and is used to win
people’s votes. Legislators do not own these funds; rather, these are
people’s money that has been entrusted to them in the belief that they
would use these to address the felt needs of their constituents. The
legislators are accountable to the people for how these funds are
used. The legislators’ primary function is to pass relevant laws that
will truly benefit and uplift the lives of Filipino people, and they
should focus on this primary duty. They should also carry out their
oversight function by assessing the effective implementation and
impact of the laws that they have passed. It is not in their mandate
to fund and implement projects.”
Save the Children further
calls on Congress to assume its key role of maintaining the balance of
power by supporting the public clamor to abolish the pork barrel and
reclaim its “power of the purse” by demanding that the details of all
discretionary funds be put under its scrutiny as part of the General
7 Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat (center) and RAFI
Micro-finance Executive Director Ma. Theresa Catipay
(rightmost), together with a representative from Venray
Construction (leftmost), sign the memorandum of agreement for a
program that would help poor communities through
inks partnership with DSWD
By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation
September 12, 2013
CEBU CITY – To provide
access to capital among Pantawid Pamilya Program (PPP) beneficiaries,
the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office
VII and Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Micro-finance inked a
memorandum of agreement for a livelihood program last July 30.
The partnership will
implement an area-based sustainable livelihood program that will
enable poor families to actively participate in the local economy as
“Both DSWD and RAFI would
like to see empowerment of disadvantaged individuals and their
families for an improved quality of life. We are here to provide
access to capital for a more sustainable micro-enterprise,” Ma.
Theressa Catipay, executive director of RAFI Micro-finance, said.
The program will initially
pilot in selected cities/municipalities in Cebu Province to be
identified by the parties within a period of one year.
The major activities include
the profiling of Pantawid Pamilya households in selected cities and
municipalities for partnership, orientation, and trainings in relation
to the cooperation project, and continuous business development for
the program's beneficiaries.
As part of the agreement,
DSWD will validate the eligibility of the PPP beneficiaries and
endorse the beneficiaries to RAFI Micro-Finance to be formed into
groups (a minimum of 20 members each).
It will also provide
technical assistance and continuing capability building support and
conduct social preparation and training workshops, Community Driven
Enterprise Development (CDED) sessions, and other interventions for
the beneficiaries that may be deemed necessary during the
implementation of the partnership.
On the other hand, RAFI
Micro-finance will screen the endorse applicants. When accepted to the
program, they will be clustered to groups of 10-20 or integrate them
to existing Pantawid Pamilya groups in their respective barangays.
RAFI Micro-finance will
provide access to additional capital for the micro-enterprises of
qualified beneficiaries and regular trainings and seminars, either as
center meeting interventions or group or individual business
An evaluation of the results
of the program will be the basis for expanding the program to other
areas to be identified by the parties as long as resources are
available to fund the program.
“Through our partnership
with the institution, we are able to increase our reach and extend our
services to more individuals and their families,” Catipay disclosed.
At present, more than 17,000
nanays from the 17 branches in Cebu, Leyte and, Bohol branches are
availing the loan, saving, and insurance services of RAFI
RAFI Micro-finance is a
program under the Micro-finance & Entrepreneurship focus area of RAFI,
providing financial resources and know-how to women
micro-entrepreneurs to nurture financial independence and
entrepreneurship. Other focus areas of RAFI are Integrated
Development, Culture & Heritage, Leadership & Citizenship, and
COA undermanned but
has 40% vacancy, Chiz says
By Office of Senator Chiz
September 10, 2013
PASAY CITY – The Commission
on Audit (COA) is undermanned and their staff is overworked but the
agency has a 42% unfilled position, the senate committee on finance
today found out.
At the agency’s budget
presentation today, Senator Chiz Escudero said the authorized COA
staffing is 15,219 but its filled rate is only 8,737. This leaves
6,482 unfilled positions for 2013.
Escudero, chairman of the
senate committee on finance said this wide margin of vacancy is a
cause for concern, which he said even COA itself is alarmed.
“The COA is doing its job.
In fact the government has saved up a lot by what the COA does in
terms of auditing services”.
With only 57% filled
position, the senator asked the commission if “it could have rendered
more auditing services and could have detected the misuse of funds” if
it has more people to do their mandate. Heidi Mendoza, COA
Commissioner who presented the agency budget said they could have used
more personnel to double their output than their current ones.
COA cited difficulty in
getting accountants to join the agency as the reason for vacant
positions remaining unfilled.
The agency has generated
almost P2 billion of savings from these unfilled positions. Having
been given a fiscal autonomy, the amount was already disbursed to
them. When asked how it utilizes this lump sum amount, COA said this
is being used to augment their maintenance and other operating
“Can you furnish us how this
amount augments your operations? Where else does this go?” Escudero
The senator also asked the
agency who audits them. “Forgive me if this maybe a unique question,
but who audits COA ma’am?"
“We have our own auditor and
as I mentioned a while ago, our own auditor issues audit observation
addressed to us” Mendoza replied.
Escudero said it is quite
awkward that the agency is being audited by one of its own where the
nature of check and balance might be put in question.
“But your auditor reports to
you too? I mean, they are under you, where is the check and balance?
Again this is no allegation, no accusation, just out of curiosity”.
Mendoza said the set up has
been that way since COA was established. She said the agency tries to
preserve the independence of its auditors “and in fact when they have
audit observations, we too conduct exit conference and discuss the
issues one by one, but we understand that reality”.
Escudero said if COA has
been self-auditing since its inception, it could look and adopt
international auditing practices and standards to apply not only to
themselves but to the government wide system as well.
“COA said they have been
rolling out international standards in auditing system. Be that as it
may, Congress may still find ways to improve their current system to
remove any doubts and fears and to also maintain the check and balance
between their auditor and themselves”.
The agency’s budget hearing
has been deferred by the committee because some senators who were not
present today manifested their intentions to ask questions regarding
COA’s budget. The hearing will be rescheduled second week of
September, Escudero said.