Your latest news happening from here at home and abroad
news 510


more news...

No major crimes in Yolanda-affected areas

Pacquiao arrives in Eastern Visayas, lifts spirits soldier and typhoon Yolanda victims

NHA to double housing assistance for Yolanda victims – VP Binay

PNP reaction team nabs four armed men in Leyte on barangay election eve

Father-and-son nabbed for “marijuana” cultivation in Leyte

23 violators arrested in 10 days of gunban in EV

Chiz challenges colleagues to open PDAF use to public scrutiny

Soria orders stepped-up security measures as 76 rookie cops beef-up police stations

PRO8 arrests 8 more drug suspects in Eastern Visayas



12,000-strong storm 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 indignation rally.





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,” she said.

“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 said.





Opus Dei head who visited Manila and Cebu to be beatified

Press Release
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 Philippines.

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 his beatification.

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 Angelo Amato.





Deeper poverty, hunger confront peasants in 'Yolanda'-stricken areas

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,” said Lebico.

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,” reported Lebico.

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 areas.

“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 areas.





Amidst slow, unreliable recovery program, Yolanda victims demand 40K monetary relief from govt

Press Release
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 evacuation centers.

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 electricity.

“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 regulatory perspective.

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 hits market

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 Commerce).

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 event spaces.

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."



◄◄home I next►►