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8ID joins the nation in commemorating the 116th Philippine Independence Day

Government’s failure leads to a pregnant woman being stoned to death

7 billion people have a Red Cross or Red Crescent story

19IB's retiring soldier recognized, urges colleagues to be good public servants

87IB hands over a Philippine hawk eagle to DENR

Roxas: P1.79 billion ready for Yolanda rehab

President Aquino urged to heed UN climate report

8ID celebrates Philippine Army Day

Catbalogan celebrates International Women’s Day

LBP farming program seen to fully benefit former rebels in Leyte


recovered war materials from NPA in Ormoc
The war materials recovered after the encounter in Brgy. Patag, Ormoc City on June 17, 2014.

Army encounters NPA rebels, seizes claymore mines and other war materials in hinterland village of Ormoc City

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
June 20, 2014

KANANGA, Leyte – Troops under Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion encountered New People’s Army rebels around 2:05 p.m. on June 17, 2014 at So. Nabunturan, Brgy. Patag, Ormoc City.

Lt. Col. Nedy C Espulgar, commanding officer of 19IB, said his troops were on to confirm reports previously tipped by civilians regarding presence of armed group roaming aforesaid hinterland village, when fired upon by undetermined number of NPA rebels.

The 30 minute firefight caused the rebels to withdraw from their position which was discovered to be an NPA encampment which can accommodate around 15 to 20 persons.

Recovered from the encounter site were three (3) unexploded claymore mines, magazines with ammunitions and back packs with personal belongings and subversive documents.

Espulgar furthered, his men were in advantage position during the firefight and managed to maneuver despite the difficult terrain. Withdrawing enemies were unable to inflict casualties against government forces. Rebels neither suffered casualties, but eye witnesses said that some of the fleeing rebels were severely wounded.

In an interview with Roberto Dejon of Leyteño Peryodiko, Espulgar said there will be no let-up in its support to the development programs it has introduced in the hinterland barangays of Ormoc, despite the Tuesday incident.

On the other hand, he is calling on the NPA rebels to surrender, take advantage of the government programs and return to the mainstream society.

“We will pursue with our development efforts, especially in our advocacy on Land Bank’s sustainable integrated natural and organic mini farm program. But our troops are always ready should similar eventuality arises”, Espulgar stressed.

It can be recalled that an NPA leader was apprehended by 19IB troops in the same village on January this year. According to Espulgar, 19IB and the Leyte Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) are now facilitating the necessary assistance entitled for the said former NPA rebel.





Typhoon Yolanda survivor, rights groups call on UN to probe Aquino govt’s slow, inefficient response

June 20, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland – Through an oral intervention delivered before member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last Thursday, typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda survivor Rev. Irma Balaba of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines strongly urged the Council to conduct investigations into the “slow, inefficient and inadequate response of the Philippine government to the plight of the millions of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda victims.”

In the said statement supported by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (CCIA-WCC), Balaba recounted that “thousands of desperate and traumatized residents fled the regions affected by the typhoon, as its impact on the affected communities exacerbated the poverty incidence and intensified the number of victims of displacement in the Philippines.”

“Up until now, the government does not have an alternative plan for the displaced communities that would ensure their long-term alternative livelihood, safe relocation areas, free housing and access to social services,“ she added.

Balaba also urged the Council to monitor and investigate how the assistance extended by the international community for relief and rehabilitation in the devastated areas, amid the massive pork barrel and corruption scandals under the Aquino administration.

Balaba is among the members of the delegation of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (EcuVoice).Balaba’s intervention during the General Debates of the 26th UN HRC sessions was delivered by Sr. Stella Matutina of the Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), who is also part of the Phil. delegation of human rights advocates participating in the UNHRC sessions.

The rights advocates also lamented that “instead of focusing on providing the long-overdue assistance for the typhoon victims, the Aquino administration trains its guns on aid workers who provide crucial, timely and relevant support for the victims.”

Five women relief workers of the Panay Center for Disaster Response (PCDR), a partner NGO of the international Catholic relief agency Caritas, were cuffed, gagged, and bound with packaging tape by three unidentified men in their office in Jaro, Iloilo at around 1 a.m. on June 19, 2014. The masked men seized two laptops, memory sticks, flash drives, mobile phones, logbooks, ledgers, cameras, and several pictures documenting the relief operations of PCDR throughout Panay.

The PDCR provides relief aid to typhoon Yolanda-struck communities in Northern Iloilo, Capiz, Antique, and Aklan. PCDR has served about 50,000 families in the region with relief and rehabilitation assistance – food, non-food, shelter, among others. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have however previously tagged aid workers of the PDCR as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in communities in Estancia, Iloilo.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, who headed the EcuVoice delegation at the UNHRC said, the pattern of the ransacking and robberies in offices of progressive organizations in Metro Manila in the past two years, when mostly data storage devices were seized by unidentified men, is very similar to what happened in the PDRC office.

From March 2012 to February 2013, Karapatan and Bayan documented twelve (12) cases of break-ins of houses of activists and peace advocates, and offices of progressive organizations; robberies involving items such as laptops, USB/flash drives, video cameras, and the like; and surveillance of known personalities and members of such organizations and institutions.

“It appears that the intelligence operatives of the State are gathering more data on their perceived government critics and even aid organisations. These incidents are clearly systematic attacks against organizations and institutions, made to appear as cases of common crimes. It is only the military which would have the motive and means to carry out these attacks,” Palabay commented.

The other members of the EcuVoice delegation at the 26th sessions of the UN HRC are Atty. Edre Olalia, Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), Dr. Angie Gonzales, Atty. Mary Kristerie Baleva and Julie Palaganas of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.





Army in Eastern Visayas launches Project Shoe Box

June 19, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – The 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army launches the Project Shoebox in a simple turn-over ceremony conducted at its Headquarters in Catbalogan City on June 19, 2014.

Approximately 9,000 shoe boxes containing school supplies and personal care items were turned over by Mr. Boyet Singson, representing 2GO Group Incorporated to Dr. Eduardo G. Pabunan, representing the School Division Superintendent of Department of Education, Samar and MajGen. Jet B. Velarmino, the Commander of 8th Infantry Division Philippine Army.

2GO Incorporated shipped the items from Metro Manila for free.

Project Shoebox was first launched by the U.P. Sigma Alpha Sorority and the 4th Light Armor Battalion, Light Armor Division in Camp Nakar, Lucena City in February 2012. The project utilized a shoe box as a package, wherein basic school supplies and other personal care items were put into it and were distributed to selected Elementary schools. From then on, the Philippine Army and its subordinate units spearheaded the same project that helped tens of thousands of families who have hard time buying school supplies for their children.

As of 2013, recipient students were placed at 116,096 from 381 public elementary schools located in different parts of the Philippines namely: Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol region, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental.

In his comment, MajGen. Velarmino said, “This is a simple way of letting our elementary students feel that your Army here in Eastern Visayas and other stakeholders show our simple but genuine concern for their welfare.”

I therefore call on our nation’s stakeholders, especially those in the business community and those who have much in life to support this worthy endeavor. As we do this, we are strengthening the nation’s culture that places importance on giving something to alleviate others plight. In turn, we expect that the recipients will emulate the same action in the future.”





War vets rejects secretary Gazmin’s constitution and by-laws for VFP

Press Release
June 18, 2014

QUEZON CITY – War veterans rejected the changes being introduced by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to the constitution and by-laws governing the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP), the federation announced yesterday.

In the convention report manual of the first-ever national presidents’ convention of the VFP held in Taguig City on May 17 and 18, 2014 which was released yesterday, all 182 delegates rejected the changes made by Gazmin in the classification of organizations that may join the federation as an umbrella organization, membership requirements, the composition of the supreme council, committees and management including the financial system.

“All regional presidents, district presidents including presidents of charter and affiliate organizations of the VFP all over the Philippines have unanimously spoken and they do not want to tinker with the current VFP constitution and by-laws at this time. They particularly expressed disapproval of the changes in the by-laws being introduced by no less than Defense Secretary Gazmin,” the delegates’ statement after the two-day workshop said.

Delegates believed all these by-laws amendments proposed by Gazmin will diminish the core function of the current set up of officers, downgrade the roles of the veterans’ widows and children. They also share the fear the amendments will allow non-veterans to come in and take hold and control of all the assets of the VFP.

“The highest ruling body of the VFP has spoken at how thousands of Filipino veterans are best governed. We hope the voice of the people who fought for our freedom shall be respected,” the statement added.

The report was released Wednesday, June 18 coinciding with the 54th anniversary celebration of VFP held in Manila.

The VFP was created by Republic Act 2640, an act to create a public corporation to be known as the Veterans Federation of the Philippines. It was approved into law by the late Pres. Garcia in May 1960 precisely to uphold and defend the democratic way of life as envisioned in the Philippine constitution, represent and to defend the interest of all Filipino veterans, coordinate the efforts of all different veterans of the Philippines in behalf of the interests of respective members.

It was also mandated to promote mutual help among former comrades-in-arms, perpetuate their common experiences in war, undertake acts of charity and relief work, preserve peace and order, foster love of country and inculcate individual civic consciousness.






Matag-ob, Leyte  Freedom Park
The town’s Freedom Park was filled with hundreds of people who came to witness the declaration of Matag-ob, Leyte as insurgency free municipality on June 12, 2014.

Army, LGU declares first “Insurgency-free” town in Leyte

By 19th Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
June 15, 2014

MATAG-OB, Leyte – The first town ever in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran; Matag-ob was declared “insurgency-free” as Matag-obanons celebrate the 116th Philippine Independence Day on June 12, 2014.

The declaration which took place at the town’s Freedom Park was formalized with a signing of covenant between the AFP and the municipal government, reaffirming the respective roles and mandate to preserve, sustain the gains and prevent the resurgence of Local Terrorist Group (LTG) and to continually exert efforts, cooperate, support and assist each other, along with other government agencies in preserving the peace and order.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar, commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Battalion recapped that the town of Matag-ob was one of the municipalities covered by the operations of then Platoon Guerilla (Plaguer) of the Northern Leyte Front, New People’s Army on early 2000.

He added that, the New Peoples Army’s strength was downsized due to tactical offensives initiated by the government forces which resulted to the captivity and neutralization of top cadres from years 2005 to 2007.

In an SB Session on March this year, the 19th Infantry Battalion recommended that Matag-ob, Leyte be formally declared as insurgency-free, as it has satisfied and maintained for several years the requirements stipulated in the National Internal Security Plan (NISP).

The town’s Sangguniang Bayan chaired by Hon. Michael Torrevillas considered the military’s recommendation and subsequently enacted on April 7, 2014, Resolution No. 14-020 which authorized the Hon. Agustin Pedrano, Sr., the Municipal Mayor to sign the joint declaration of Matag-ob, Leyte as an “insurgency free” municipality.

Hon. Torrevillas said Matag-ob was already and have been insurgency-free for several years, citing the Matag-obanon’s love for peace and development though he concede that some land owners experienced resistance from the “Samahan sa mga Gagmay’ng Parag-uma” (SAGUPA) years ago.

On the other hand, Col. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the Army’s 802nd Brigade, who signed in behalf of the AFP, said the declaration may attract investors to establish their businesses which will later on improve the town’s economic status.

The ceremonial signing of the joint declaration of Matag-ob, Leyte as “insurgency-free” municipality was witnessed by Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar and P/Insp. Christopher Pangue before hundreds of Matag-obanons.





Report from local resident led to the capture of a rebel firearm

June 15, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – Report from a concerned local residents to an Army Unit in Eastern Visayas led to the recovery of a high-powered firearm allegedly owned by an active NPA member.

Lt. Col. William P. Peñafiel Jr., Commanding Officer of the 52nd Infantry (Cadre) Battalion based at So. Cantaba, Brgy. Caticugan, Sta Rita, Samar said his troops received an information from a local resident of Brgy. San Andres, Villareal, Samar that a NPA rebel personality hid a firearm in a forested area near a farm in their barangay. A recovery team was sent to the area and recovered one (1) Caliber .30 Carbine Rifle with one (1) magazine and eleven live ammunitions.

LtCol. Peñafiel attributed the successful recovery of the firearm to the peace-loving resident of Brgy San Andres who heeded the Army’s call to report NPA rebel activities. “The recovery of the rebel firearm will lessen the capability of the rebels to sow terror among our people. In this token, I encourage others to be proactive in peace-building and be not just onlookers of what is happening in our communities. Break away from the silent majority and speak out, so that rebels will get the message that we are tired of their 45 years of violent activities.”

“Emulate the act of the peace-loving local resident of Brgy. San Andres, report rebel activities so that we can build a peaceful environment for our families and communities, he added.”





Philippines to join America's most iconic catwalk

History making catwalk on top of America

Catwalk at One World Trade Center

Jessica Minh Anh to host the first fashion phenomenon at One World Trade Center

Press Release
June 15, 2014

MANILA – You are looking at the first ever fashion shot taken on the 63rd floor of the new One World Trade Center. The girl in the picture, who produces the most iconic catwalks on earth, is about to turn America’s tallest building into a fashion destination on June 25th, 2014. Overlooking New York’s famous skyline at sunset, Jessica Minh Anh’s multiculural Summer Fashion Show will celebrate the strength of the new generation.

The model turned entrepreneur will bring together an exquisite combination of Haute Couture, high end Ready-to-Wear, and active wear collections from different continents. Similar to her previous sky high catwalks, there will be a creative mix of simplicity and sophistication with a burst of colors, textures and dramatic flair. The current lineup includes Lebanese celebrity designer Ziad Nakad, Peruvian artist and public figure Norka Peralta, Spanish sensation Diego Cortizas of Chula, Indonesian lifestyle brand HAY UNITED, America’s very own accessory brand Cat Footwear, Russian talent Alina German, Brazilian jeweler Cristina Sabatini, and the Philippines’ pride Puey Quiñones. Each designer will premiere a special collection inspired by the symbolic location.

“One World Trade Center is a global icon and is the perfect venue for a fashion show that celebrates designers from across the world.” said Jordan Barowitz, Director of External Affairs for The Durst Organization.

To complement Jessica Minh Anh's extraordinary vision, New York based sound and lighting specialist Bentley Meeker will utilize theatrical fixtures to evenly light the highly anticipated catwalk. The artistic set up will cast the models' reflections against the octagonal glass walls as well as onto the smooth and polished 63rd floor of the Tower.

Besides the flawless fashion demonstrations and high-tech setups, Jessica’s impressive hairstyle will be part of the attraction. Taking on the challenge is award winning Italian stylist Nunzio Saviano, who will complete Jessica’s signature look. Joining the creative process is American cosmetics brand Mehron equipped with their innovative line of celebrity favored products.

The red carpet event will welcome company directors and CEOs, country ambassadors and consulates, America’s influencers, international designers, and national and international press. To ensure a unique experience for the exclusive guests, Jessica Minh Anh has teamed up with French chef Sebastien Pourrat, owner of Cocotte SoHo to bring in the most exquisite cuisine and beverage collections. Sebastien will operate an open kitchen and create a special ambiance that matches the grandness of the event.

The official press conference will be held closer to the show at W New York - Downtown, where One World Trade Center can be seen at its best. “We are thrilled to be a part of this historic event” said Patrick Horstmann, General Manager. “W always offers insider access to what is new/next in fashion, and Jessica Minh Anh’s Summer Fashion Show definitely exemplifies that.” The event is also supported by Hollywood Banners and A76 Productions.

On her decision to select America’s newest landmark for her next history making showcase, Jessica Minh Anh said “One World Trade Center represents determination, innovation, and ambition, which are the qualities I stand for as a young entrepreneur. Similar to the Tower, I strongly believe you’ve got to dig deep to rise high.” This principle seems to be consistently reflected in Jessica Minh Anh’s many international catwalks as she continues to reach new heights and claim the sky. Prior to hosting the world’s highest fashion show on the Grand Canyon Skywalk at 4,000 feet above the Colorado River in 2013, Jessica Minh Anh has hosted previous fashion phenomena’s on London’s Tower Bridge PETRONAS Twin Towers’ Skybridge at 44 and 175 meter high meters respectively. For more information about the show, please visit and





PH rights violations continue to be pounded at UN body

Vicious attacks on PH indigenous peoples defending their lands bared before international rights community

June 14, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland – International human rights group Civicus and Philippine-based rights group Karapatan issued an appeal the other day to the 47 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to urge the Philippine government to stop the attacks against indigenous peoples and environmental activists in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and elsewhere in the country.

In an oral intervention delivered by Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay before the UNHRC and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 26th Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, she cited the forcible evacuation of indigenous Manobos in Talaingod, Mindanao caused by military operations and bombings.

Palabay indicated that the Manobos’ refusal to allow mining companies to encroach on their lands exposed them to threats and harassment. “They have become victims of the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, and they are tagged as members or supporters of the New People’s Army,” she stated, in her oral intervention during the interactive dialogue with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

“Mining companies, including Indophil Resources, have applications covering the land where the indigenous Manobos live, for gold, silver, copper, and other minerals. Their plight is akin to the situation of the indigenous communities where SMI Glencore/Xstrata has mining projects. Anti-mining activists, indigenous leaders and children were killed by military and paramilitary groups, and justice remains elusive for them,” Palabay added.

The rights groups appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to urge the Philippine government to recognize and respect the rights of communities and human rights defenders, who bear the full adverse impact of business, especially big mining, activities. They asked the Council to call on the Philippine government to adhere to international human rights standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Palabay also spoke on the issue in a side event on civil society space and protection of human rights defenders jointly organized by international organisations Article19, CIVICUS, ICNL, ECNL, the World Movement for Democracy and the Permanent Mission of Ireland. Mr. Maina Kiai, UN special rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, and Mr. Frank la Rue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, were also in the said panel.

Citing Karapatan’s documentation and reports of London-based NGO Global Witness, Palabay said that aside from extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples and activists, arrests based on false charges of environmental and anti-mining activists are on the rise. She cited the arrests and detention of physicist Kim Gargar and Tampakan anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera.

Palabay is among the members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights (EcuVoice) delegation of human rights defenders and church workers at the 26th sessions of the UN HRC. Joining her are Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), Rev. Irma Balaba, assistant programme secretary of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations programme of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Dr. Angie Gonzales, Atty. Mary Kristerie Baleva and Julie Palaganas of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.



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