survivors march for justice, rights versus Aquino’s criminal neglect
By People Surge
January 26, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY – More
than 12,000 ‘Yolanda’ (Haiyan) survivors flooded the streets of
Tacloban City on Friday in an enormous display of discontent over the
Aquino administration’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in
delivering adequate relief and rehabilitation to the ‘Yolanda’
victims. The mobilization is the first biggest gathering of
demonstrators in more than a decade.
“This is a people surge – a
swelling of the people demanding justice for Yolanda victims and
asserting their right to food, housing, livelihood and social
services. The massive number of people is proof of their intense
discontent over Aquino’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in
looking after the welfare of its people. This is just the first of a
series of protests that will fill the streets of major cities across
the country in indignation of the Aquino administration,” said Sr.
Edita Eslopor, OSB, chairperson of People Surge (Alliance for the
victims of typhoon Yolanda).
The 12-000 strong rallyists
came from various municipalities of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar,
Samar, Western Samar and Leyte. They demand justice for the victims of
typhoon Yolanda and hold the Aquino administration responsible for the
massive deaths in the region because it failed to guarantee the safety
and welfare of the victims when supertyphoon Yolanda struck the
country on November 8, 2013.
“Countless lives have been
lost in Yolanda’s wake and damages to agriculture, public and private
properties cost billions of pesos. The devastation wrought by super
typhoon Yolanda may have been horrific, but more horrendous is the
Noynoy Aquino government’s ineptness in addressing the wellbeing of
its people,” said the alliance in its unity statement.
The alliance also assailed
the Aquino government for its slow delivery of immediate relief to the
victims even after two months, the corruption-riddled bunkhouses, and
the anti-people no-build policy imposed on residents within the
40-meter stretch from the shore. It also criticized NEDA’s
Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) or popularly known as
“Build Back Better” saying that “the hapless victims, not big
businesses, should be at the core of the relief, rehabilitation and
reconstruction efforts of the government.”
“The assembly of more than
12,000-strong protesters from various parts of the region, majority
from far flung villages, belies the recent SWS survey that rated the
Aquino government “very good” in delivering the relief and
rehabilitation for the typhoon victims,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, one
of the convenors of the said alliance.
Among the alliance’s
immediate demands are the P40,000 monetary aid per family of typhoon
victims, the scrapping of the no-build zone policy that effectively
evicts families in coastal communities from their homes and
livelihood, the immediate reconstruction of vital public
infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and the immediate
restoration of utilities such as power and water sources.
The rally was the
culmination of a two-day activity which began with a vigil-memorial
for the typhoon victims the previous night at the Eastern Visayas
State University in Tacloban City.
Meanwhile, at least 11
jeepneys carrying Yolanda victims and supporters from Western Samar
were stopped on January 24 in Pinabacdao and prevented by the
PNP-Regional Mobile Group from attending the vigil-memorial and
Rights group hit Imelda visit
“A macabre meeting of
plunderers and rights violators”
January 24, 2014
QUEZON CITY –
Ex-political detainees group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa
Detensyon at Aresto) called the visit of former First Lady Imelda
Marcos to former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a “macabre meeting of
plunderers and rights violators.”
“Adding twist to their
unremorseful plunder of the nation’s coffers was a prison visit by the
widow of the former martial law dictator president Ferdinand Marcos.
Peculiarly, in both cases, the public similarly tagged them as
conjugal partners of their respective husbands in raiding the wealth
of the nation,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
“What a morbid and macabre
twist of events,” she added, as she assailed the continuing soft
handling of the state on both accused plunderers. “They call the
supposed imprisonment of GMA unfair treatment, when in fact they are
actually both coddled by the state and the plunder cases against them
seem to go nowhere. While they remain untouched, victims of torture,
illegal arrest and detention, massacres and other atrocities of both
the Arroyo regime and Marcos dictatorial regime have not been given
any justice. Matial law victims are still suffering so much in their
advanced years, and dying one by one, as the purported law that seeks
to recognize the martial law victims’ sufferings is not being
implemented, “ Enriquez said.
Enriquez said both Imelda
and Arroyo enjoy freedom from accountability from their crimes of
plunder and human rights violations against the people.
“This certainly sends an
alarming message that impunity will go on, as what is happening now,”
“Martial Law victims are
waiting every single day for justice and recognition, while political
prisoners who struggle for their rights rot in dinghy, subhuman prison
cells, plunderers and human rights violators are being treated like
queens in the Palace,” said Enriquez.
On February 25, 28th
anniversary of the EDSA People Power I uprising, RA 10368 or the Human
Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 will be a year old after
Pres. BS Aquino signed it into law.
“Sadly and infuriatingly,
however, it has yet to be implemented up to now. The law is gathering
dust by now, but we have not seen any light of day as to the formation
of the claims board. Meanwhile, Imelda and children are simply taking
strolls at the VMMC and Congress,” Enriquez said.
The Human Rights Victims
Claims Board, which shall be composed of nine members, will draw up
the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the reparation and
recognition of martial law victims.
Enriquez then blamed the
Aquino government “for letting these plunderers and rights violators
off the hook.”
“As long as the the martial
law victims reparation and rehabilitation law remain unimplemented,
the Aquino government is equally violating the rights of victims,” she
Opus Dei head who visited
Manila and Cebu to be beatified
January 23, 2014
Bishop Alvaro del Portillo was the first successor of Opus Dei founder
St Josemaria Escriva
CEBU CITY – In a letter addressed to the
Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, the Holy See confirmed
Pope Francis’ approval of the beatification of Alvaro del Portillo,
which will be held on September 27, 2014, in Madrid, del Portillo’s
hometown. Faithful from all over the world are expected to participate
in the ceremony, including many from the Philippines.
Bishop del Portillo was in
the Philippines on January 21 to February 1, 1987 for a pastoral visit
to the members and the different apostolic and social projects of Opus
Dei in the country.
Cardinal Sin hosted a dinner
for him at Villa San Miguel, during which the late Cardinal thanked
the Prelate for the work of Opus Dei in the Philippines, “spreading
the message of the universal call to holiness among the lay faithful
and bringing spirituality to the secular environments where the
priests and religious cannot reach,” the Cardinal said. Bishop del
Portillo also paid a courtesy call to then President Cory Aquino.
The prelate had a number of
general audiences at the Philippine International Convention Center in
Manila and at the Cebu Plaza Hotel. These were catechetical gatherings
where he answered personal questions on the spiritual life,
sanctification of work, family life, and social responsibility.
Bishop del Portillo is
remembered for his untiring service to the Church and his desire to
help others. In one of his general audiences, he made an observation
about Philippine society, “My daughters and my sons, I have seen
enormous wealth and enormous poverty.”
“I know that some among you
are already running personal undertakings that form people, provide
trades and skills, and make people capable of raising their status so
they can work better and earn more,” he said. The faithful of Opus Dei
in the Philippines were then running technical training schools for
those unable to afford a college education and were beginning a farm
school in Batangas for children of farmers of high school age.
Upon his return to Rome, he sent an Italian delegation to Cebu to help
set up a technical school similar to Centro ELIS, a successful social
project in an outlying district of Rome. That technical school is now
CITE (Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise) in Talamban,
which has graduated 3,000 industrial technicians from the Visayas and
Mindanao since it opened in 1991. It is recognized by the national
government and industry as one of the leading technical schools in the
President Corazon Aquino formally inaugurated CITE in February 1992.
She also inaugurated the Dagatan Family Farm School in Batangas in
August 1988, the first of its kind in Asia.
Other projects inspired by Bishop del Portillo in the Philippines
include the Banilad Center for Professional Development for girls in
Cebu and DAWV (Development Advocacy for Women Volunteerism).
Last July 5, Pope Francis signed the decree of the Congregation for
the Causes of Saints approving a miracle obtained through the
intercession of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, thus paving the way for
The miracle was the instantaneous healing of Chilean newborn baby,
Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson in 2003. The boy suffered a cardiac arrest
lasting more than 30 minutes and a massive hemorrhage. The medical
team considered the baby dead, when unexpectedly, his heart started to
beat again. His parents had been praying for his revival through the
intercession of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo. Ten years later Jose
Ignacio is living a normal life.
The late Msgr. Flavio Cappucci, postulator of Alvaro del Portillo’s
cause, said his office has received from all over the world 12,000
signed accounts of favors granted through the intercession of Bishop
Alvaro. They include “graces of all kinds, both material and
spiritual,” he said. “Clearly the most striking are the extraordinary
cures, of which there is a variety: from the disappearance of
melanomas with metastasis after praying to Alvaro del Portillo, to the
full recovery of a child who had drowned in a swimming pool.”
Bishop Alvaro del Portillo died in Rome on March 23, 1994 upon
returning from a pilgrimage of the Holy Land. He turned 80 two weeks
earlier on March 11, 1994. Pope John Paul II went to pray during his
wake and later spoke of "the example he always gave of fortitude and
of trust in divine providence and his fidelity to the See of Peter.”
The beatification ceremony in Madrid will be presided over by the
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal
hunger confront peasants in 'Yolanda'-stricken areas
By SAGUPA - SB
January 21, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY –
Peasant families in remote barangays in Samar may not have been
instantly killed by super typhoon Yolanda, but they will soon be
suffering from deeper poverty and hunger after ‘Yolanda’ ravaged their
food and cash crops.
“They have been suffering
from impoverishment and hunger even before the typhoon, but hunger
will be experienced sooner this time,” said Nestor Lebico, secretary
general of Samahanhan Gudti nga Parag-uma or SAGUPA-Sinirangan Bisayas,
a regional peasant organization.
He explained that families
in interior villages usually alternate root crops with rice, eating
rice only one to two times a day. But with root crops heavily damaged
by the typhoon, they are now consuming rice two to three times daily,
thus, rapidly diminishing their rice supply. Worse, they are forced to
sell their rice because their sources of cash crops have been damaged.
They badly need cash to repair their dwellings and buy fuel for their
lamps. “Before the typhoon, hunger sets-in in the months of July and
August. But now, it’s going to start in February,” added Lebico.
In selected municipalities
in Samar, damage to agriculture accounted for 91% of the total damages
while damage to houses and private belongings stood at 6% and public
infrastructure at 3 percent. Their principal cash crops are root
crops, coconut, bananas and vegetables.
The hardest hit are the
families who depend mainly on vegetable farming for cash crops and do
not plant rice for consumption. “Affected families need food and
monetary relief that will sustain them until the next harvest season,”
Barely a month after the
calamity struck the region, more and more farmers have fallen victims
to loan sharks. In Samar, for every loan of P1,000, they are made to
pay from their harvest one sack of un-husked brown organic rice which
is worth P2,200. In Leyte, loan payment for the same amount is
equivalent to three sacks of rice. Before the calamity, seasonal farm
workers receive only P100 for a day’s work. Out of desperation, they
get compensated lower than the usual rate now.
The little harvest that the
farmers got after the typhoon has not been of much help financially
because the traders took advantage of the calamity to buy the farmers’
products at a cheaper price.
“Farmers usually walk half a
day or longer to bring their farm products to the nearest market.
Farmers would rather sell their products are a very low price instead
of going home empty-handed,” added Lebico.
In the province of Leyte,
the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) estimated that losses to the
coconut industry reached P10 billion. Leyte accounts for the bulk of
damage in coconut which is estimated to be more than 13 million
coconut trees totally damaged in typhoon-hit areas. Coconut is the
primary source of income of peasants in the province of Leyte. The
coconut farmers project that it will take at least three years for the
industry to recover.
Meanwhile, according to PCA
administrator Atty. Euclides Forbes, the Aquino administration has
released P2.8 billion for the rehabilitation of coconut farms in all
affected areas. “Where are these funds? How are they going to ensure
that the funds will truly benefit the coconut farmers?” asked Lebico.
Food aid should be sustained
to areas gravely affected by the typhoon. Monetary relief is urgent in
the affected areas. “So far, in interior barrios, affected families
have been given food relief packs equivalent to one meal only. In some
areas, the relief packs are being repacked, if not being sold,”
According to Lebico, food
security in the region must be seriously addressed. The rehabilitation
of the agricultural sector should be fast-tracked, with priority given
to intercropping of quick-return food and cash crops. Meanwhile,
livestock and poultry can also enhance. The village residents need
basic farm tools to start with.
Cash is also urgently
needed. There should be monetary subsidies to peasants for their
much-needed cash, and not the micro-credit schemes as outlined in the
Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) or popularly known as
“Build Back Better. “How are we going to pay for that?” asserted the
peasant leader. “Loans will only bury the farmers deeper into the
quagmire of poverty,” added Lebico.
The United Nations has so
far raised $328 million to fund its Yolanda strategic response plan (SRP).
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is asking for $38
million for its project, of which $2 million would be intended for the
rehabilitation of upland, agro-forestry areas. This project aims to
benefit 18,000 households.
“This is good news for us.
But the farmers, not the private entities or big businesses, should be
the main beneficiary of these efforts,” ended Lebico.
NHA to provide 60K
homes, Pag-IBIG sets aside P5.5-B for Yolanda survivors – VP Binay
By OVP Media
January 16, 2014
MANILA – From 2014 to
2016, The National Housing Authority (NHA) will provide some 60,000
permanent housing units to the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in
six regions covering 14 provinces and 171 cities and municipalities,
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said today.
Binay, who heads the Housing
and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said
groundbreaking will be held in eight project sites in Leyte and
Eastern Samar this month.
“The houses to be
constructed by NHA will be permanent homes for the survivors and will
be built on permanent relocation sites. The bunkhouses being
constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are
temporary shelters,” the housing czar clarified.
Binay said that the NHA is
currently validating the number of partially and totally damaged
houses, checking the number of affected families to be relocated, and
identifying and evaluating potential resettlement sites.
"The current 60,000 estimate
is based on DPWH data and may change after NHA completes its
validation," Binay said.
“The NHA is also finalizing
the design and costing of the houses to be built, as well as
identifying build and no-build zones,” he added.
Moreover, the Vice President
said the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund) has set
aside P5.5 billion for housing development in 22 Yolanda-affected
“The program will be
implemented jointly with developers for the development of housing
units valued at P450,000 each. Of the P5.5 billion, P1.5 billion will
be used for development, while P4 billion is allocated as housing loan
for members for a maximum term of 30 years,” Binay said.
“No interest will be charged
for the first six months of the loan term and a four percent interest
rate per annum will be imposed only on the seventh month until the end
of the second year of the term,” he added.
Meanwhile, Binay said that
of the 11,047 housing units needed for victims of Typhoon Sendong,
8,624 units or 78 percent have been completed by NHA, while some 800
units or seven percent are currently being constructed.
“About 1,640 displaced
families in Cagayan de Oro also benefited from the seven land
acquisition projects worth P87.61 million under the Social Housing
Finance Corporation’s (SHFC) Community Mortgage Program (CMP) Express
Lane program,” he said.
Binay said the SHFC boosted
its CMP Express Lane facilities for Sendong victims to fast-track land
acquisition, in light of the rising prices of land in the affected
unreliable recovery program, Yolanda victims demand 40K monetary
relief from govt
January 14, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY – “It’s
been two months since typhoon Yolanda struck the country and the
victims have hardly coped with their everyday lives. We are homeless,
jobless, hungry and sick. Our children cannot go to school yet. We
know there are funds for the victims but we don’t know where the
government’s rehabilitation program is headed to,” said Patrick Escalona, one of the typhoon victims in Tacloban City.
Escalona is one of the
community leaders of the Alyansa han mga Biktima han Bagyo Yolanda ha
Tacloban or Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban (ABBAT).
The victims’ alliance initiated a petition to the Aquino government
demanding a P40,000 ‘immediate financial assistance’ for every
affected family to be released on or before February 14, 2014.
According to the
petitioners, the said monetary aid can only suffice for two months of
food and non-food items such as clothing, housing, transportation,
health, education, and others for a family of six. However, given the
lack of government control over prices, the prices of basic
commodities increased by as much as 50 to 100% in typhoon-hit areas
like Tacloban City. It means that the P40,000 immediate relief could
hardly compensate for the basic food and non-food needs of a
six-member family even for a month.
“We were told that the
Aquino government’s rehabilitation program will benefit the typhoon
victims, but we were consulted not even once. How will that really
work for us? We doubt it would,” added Escalona. He also criticized
the snail-paced and unsystematic delivery of food packs and shelter
relief kits considering the fact that two months have passed since the
super typhoon struck the region. Thousands of displaced families could
not return home because their houses have been either partially or
totally destroyed and they do not have materials nor money to buy
these materials. Worse, residents living along coastal villages cannot
go back because their communities have been declared off-limits by no
less than the Aquino government. Two months have passed and thousands
are still enduring the cold, swamp and cramped conditions in the
Since January 10, this year,
the victims’ alliance has already gathered more than ten thousand
signatures from Tacloban City and various typhoon-ravaged towns in the
Eastern Visayas region. The typhoon victims also call for the
immediate repair and reconstruction of public infrastructures such as
hospitals and schools as well as the prompt restoration of
“If the government can
easily allocate pork barrel funds for congressmen and the President,
there is no reason why the same government cannot provide immediate
monetary relief for us victims,” ended Escalona.
New study finds
toxic monsters lurking in children’s clothing
January 14, 2014
MANILA – Hazardous
chemicals have been found in children’s clothes and shoes made by
major brands including Disney, Burberry and adidas, according to a new
investigation released today by Greenpeace East Asia.
Testing has been completed
on products sold by 12 brands across the industry, including American
Apparel, GAP, Primark and Nike for the report “A Little Story About
the Monsters in Your Closet”. The findings showed little distinction
between the levels of hazardous chemicals in clothing made for
children – a group particularly vulnerable to the effects of these
chemicals when released into the environment – and adults when
compared to previous studies. The samples tested included products
sold in the Philippines.
“This is a nightmare for
parents everywhere who want their children to wear clothes that don't
contain hazardous chemicals,” said Abigail Aguilar, Toxics Campaigner
for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “These chemical ‘little monsters’ can
be found in everything – from exclusive luxury designs to budget
fashion. They are polluting waterways around the world. There are
alternatives available. For the sake of current and future generations
brands should stop using these monsters.”
Every brand tested was found
to have products containing hazardous chemicals. Among the results,
one adidas swimsuit contained higher levels of PFOAs than permitted in
their own Restricted Substance List, a Primark children’s t-shirt
contained 11% phthalates. Meanwhile, high levels of NPEs were found in
products made by Disney, American Apparel and Burberry.
The study provides a further
snapshot – across a diverse range of brands and of countries of
manufacture and sale – of what appears to be a more generic problem,
one that is not restricted to any particular country, product type or
brand, and one that deserves further investigation including from a
The issue is urgent and
needs addressing. It is not just the adults who are vulnerable to
toxic pollution in clothes – be it budget or luxury. Infants and
children are at risk because of a number of factors such as their
size, body weight, metabolism and behaviour. They have reduced and
slower metabolic capacities making them more vulnerable to chemicals
and unable to eliminate certain toxins in their livers and kidneys.
Greenpeace’s Detox campaign
calls for major clothing brands to commit to zero discharge of all
hazardous chemicals by 2020.Thanks to public pressure, 18 major brands
have already made landmark Detox commitments and many are making
significant progress towards their goals of supply chain transparency
and chemical elimination.
The Philippines is a
significant textile producer and chemicals consumer. Greenpeace is
calling on governments to help stop the use of hazardous chemicals in
the textile industry. It is critical they publish a chemical blacklist
to be acted upon immediately and that they urge factories to disclose
chemical information, in order to facilitate chemical elimination and
supply chain transparency.
“Parents, fashion fans and
local communities can help end this toxic nightmare by speaking out
against polluting brands,” said Aguilar. “Thanks to global people
power, some of the world’s biggest brands have committed to Detox and
many of them are already walking the talk towards supply chain
transparency and toxic chemical elimination. Let’s use our buying
power to influence the brands and our voice to influence our
governments to have a toxic-free generation. The generations of
tomorrow need heroes today.”
The largest house
in South Beach & site of One Direction's 'Best Song Ever' music video
Celebrity real estate brokerage Antigen Realty presents 'The Temple
House' for sale at $16.925M
January 13, 2014
MIAMI BEACH, FL -
Antigen Realty, the Miami-based celebrity luxury real estate
brokerage, announced today that it has exclusively listed for sale
world renowned 'The Temple House,' the largest house in Miami's South
Beach, a celebrity property where One Direction (one of the world's
hottest bands) recently filmed its music video for 'Best Song Ever,'
and the location where the Kardashian family shot its widely-seen 2012
holiday card portrait.
This historic 16,400
square-foot Art Deco icon, designed by legendary architect L. Murray
Dixon, has hosted more than 100 world famous celebrities including
Jennifer Lopez, Jay-Z, Michael Jordan, Ricky Martin, Sean 'Diddy'
Combs, U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Kim Kardashian, Magic Johnson,
Jamie Foxx, Tony Hawk, Venus Williams, Olivia Newton-John, Nicki Minaj,
Enrique and Julio Iglesias, and many more. In addition, The Temple
House has served as the location for 100-plus music videos, movies,
television shows, private celebrity events, corporate functions,
charity galas, and luxury weddings.
Located in the heart of
Miami's South Beach, just steps from one of the world's best beaches,
Ocean Drive, yacht marinas, fine dining, shopping, theatres,
nightclubs, and chic Lincoln Road Mall, The Temple House is an
architectural masterpiece which won the 'Most Spectacular Restoration
of a Residential Property' award in 2013 (Miami Beach Chamber of
This ultimate entertaining
property features five stylish bedrooms, an awe-inspiring twenty-three
foot vaulted ceiling in its grand living room, an alluring mezzanine,
and a breathtaking spacious private rooftop deck complete with an
infinity edge pool and waterfalls.
The Temple House offers a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own the largest house in South
Beach, Miami, one of the most famous homes in the world, while further
benefiting from its unique zoning and licensure that generate
significant revenue as one of the nation's most desirable private
Darren Weiner, Antigen
Realty's Managing Member, is the exclusive broker for this historical
trophy property. "The Temple House is one-of-a-kind, and offers
incredible residential and commercial possibilities," said Weiner.
"Taking into consideration that multiple condo units in the
neighborhood have sold recently for between $21 million and $34
million, without the size, privacy or substantial revenue generating
capabilities of The Temple House, this is a tremendous value for the
savvy end-use buyer or investor at $16.925 million."