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Army inaugurates renovated camp in Leyte

PRO8 celebrates 113th police service anniversary

TUCP warns Petilla of “pimps and whisperers” on power crisis

Helping Yolanda-displaced indigenous people

Farms association in Leyte intensify production for bigger market

Militant labor group calls for the ouster of Aquino

Karapatan chairperson assails Human Rights Victims Claims Board

Jessica Minh Anh lights up New York atop One World Trade Center







ICRC President Peter Maurer in Giporlos, Eastern Samar
Giporlos, Eastern Samar. The ICRC and PRC’s rebuilding efforts, particularly the construction of shelters, are moving at a fast pace. As of 22 August 2014, more than 2,300 houses have been built out of the targeted 4,500 houses in Samar island. (©ICRC / H.S.Toeli)

ICRC president stresses need to resolve plight of Zamboanga displaced

August 27, 2014

MANILA – Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), concluded his first official visit to the Philippines today. During his three-day stay, Mr. Maurer met with the Philippine president, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, and other high-level officials to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country, notably the challenges faced by the thousands of people who remain displaced in Zamboanga City.

Mr. Maurer also visited Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors on Samar Island in the Visayas region, and assessed rebuilding efforts supported by the ICRC and the Philippine Red Cross.

"I left Samar impressed by the resilience of the people I met there. In the hardest-hit areas, some survivors still need help to rebuild their homes and incomes," he said. "During my meetings with government officials in Manila, I reiterated the need for a durable solution for displaced people in Zamboanga, who are still living in difficult conditions nearly a year after the fighting came to an end in the city. I also underlined the ICRC’s commitment to help communities in different parts of the country to recover and rebuild amid long-standing cycles of violence and poverty."

In the meetings, the ICRC president also discussed an initiative launched with the national authorities in 2007 to tackle overcrowding and improve health conditions in prisons. With overcrowding still a serious issue in many facilities, Mr. Maurer pledged ongoing ICRC support and urged officials to continue their efforts.

"The relationship we have built up with the authorities in the Philippines is very constructive and allows for frank exchange on the issues that matter, which is essential to our work," he said. "I am also convinced that the ICRC’s strong operational partnership with the Philippine Red Cross will continue to be indispensable to our efforts to respond promptly and efficiently to disasters, whether man-made or natural."

The ICRC provides a wide variety of humanitarian services in the Philippines, aiming for example to improve people's access to water, their livelihoods, and the health care available to them. In addition, ICRC delegates visit detainees across the country, particularly those held in connection with hostilities between the government and armed groups. The organization has carried out humanitarian activities in the Philippines since the Second World War and has had a permanent presence in the country since 1982.





Eiffel tower hosts global fashion phenomenon

Jessica Minh Anh to transform the symbol of the fashion capital into a catwalk

Press Release
August 25, 2014

Global fashion sensation Jessica Minh Anh is set to amaze the world yet again with the first ever fashion phenomenon atop the world famous Eiffel Tower on 31 October 2014. With a vision that goes beyond imagination, the model and entrepreneur will transform the first floor of the famous architectural wonder into a 150 metre long outdoor catwalk. Covering the panoramic view of the fashion capital, the highly anticipated J Autumn Fashion Show will present the most innovative collections from five continents and mark Jessica’s eighth history making catwalk around the world.

Visually pushing the envelope, Jessica Minh Anh has designed a multi-level catwalk, which will cover various angles of the symbolic tower and present Paris at its best. Over 150 haute couture and dynamic designs will be beautifully displayed and creatively captured using advanced filming techniques. Similar to Jessica’s previous iconic catwalks on London’s Tower Bridge, Grand Canyon Skywalk, and One World Trade Center, the high profile event will be a combination of art, culture, architecture, and fashion.

Jessica Minh Anh will reveal the list of participating designers from England, France, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Bahrain, Vietnam, South Africa, Japan, and the USA in September after the official pre-show photo shoot on the Eiffel Tower. The young director of J Model Management has previously worked with sought after designers such as British fashion leader Paul Costelloe, Japanese haute couture designer Yumi Katsura, Dutch celebrity designer Addy van den Krommnacker, and Taiwanese powerhouse Shiatzy Chen among many others.

J Autumn Fashion Show 2014 will welcome the most influential faces in various industries from ambassadors and members of government, to business and fashion leaders, as well as national and international press. The exclusive guests will enjoy the historic moment in style thanks to a uniquely designed VIP seating area.

Considering Jessica Minh Anh’s excellent track record of globally acclaimed catwalks, it is no surprise that the Eiffel Tower’s management has chosen her to host the first fashion phenomenon. “I am truly honoured to be entrusted with such a magnificent location. The Eiffel Tower represents the magic of lights and inspires dreams. I cannot wait to turn those dreams into reality” said Jessica. This principle seems to be consistently reflected in Jessica Minh Anh’s many international catwalks as she continues to achieve the impossible. Besides America’s most iconic catwalk atop One World Trade Center and the world’s highest fashion show on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Jessica Minh Anh hosted fashion phenomena on London’s Tower Bridge, PETRONAS Twin Towers’ Skybridge, Singapore Gardens by the Bay’s Skyway, Costa Atlantica’s sundeck in Dubai and the Seine in Paris.

The official pre-show fashion spread and promotional video will be produced on 8 September 2014 on the Eiffel Tower. For more information about the show, please visit and






RAFI-WHA Yolanda village project
BUILDING A VILLAGE. (From left) HWA Project Manager Sussane Chylik, Maño Brgy. Captain Eleazar Mahinay, Honorary Consul to Austria Julie Vergara, HWA Managing Director Heide Burkhart, RAFI Integrated Development Unit Executive Director Margaret Ann Gravador, and San Remigio Mayor Mariano Martinez formally kickstarted work on the relocation site in Barangay Maño, San Remigio through a groundbreaking ceremony held last June 2. The project will provide permanent homes to 300 families affected by the enforced "no build zone" in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

RAFI, Austrian org begin work on Yolanda village

By Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
August 21, 2014

CEBU CITY – Some 100 families who were survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda will start helping build their homes at a relocation site in Barangay Maño provided by Hilfswerk Austria International (HWA), Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), and the local government of San Remigio, Cebu next month.

They will form the first batch of the 300 families identified as beneficiaries of the relocation program conceptualized following the November 8 super typhoon, which heavily damaged northern Cebu towns, including San Remigio.

The “Filipino-Austrian Village,” a pilot project of HWA in the country, is to be completed in December 2015, with the first 100 families expected to start living in the 2.9-hectare site in December this year. “At the end of August, we should know the first batch of families moving into their new houses, and also integrate them in the process of construction in September or October,” HWA Project Manager Sussane Chylik said.

“The site development is advancing fast despite the rocky soil. It is nearly finished for the first 100 houses, as well as the staking of the lots, which were enlarged to about 56 square meters per lot,” she added.

HWA is one of Austria's leading organizations for development cooperation and humanitarian aid. It is guided by the principles of sustainable development and universal human rights. Through its projects and programs, it aims to improve the lives and perspectives of beneficiaries.

“We are happy to work together with these two committed partners (RAFI and San Remigio town) for the benefit of the typhoon-hit families. Forming local partnerships is crucial for the sustainability and the beneficiaries’ approval of development assistance. Thus, HWA always tries to form close bonds with established organizations and to integrate our projects in already existing and functioning networks,” Chylik said.

Last March 27, RAFI, HWA, and the local government of San Remigio signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the construction of permanent homes for 300 families affected by the “no-build zone” strictly imposed in the aftermath of Yolanda.

Less than three months later, construction of the relocation site formally started with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 2, which was attended by Honorary Consul to Austria Julie Vergara, San Remigio Mayor Mariano Martinez, HWA Managing Director Heide Burkhart, and RAFI Integrated Development Unit Executive Director Margaret Ann Gravador.

The town, among other responsibilities stipulated in the agreement, provided the location for the houses. It will also provide professional training to 100 of the beneficiaries and offer them jobs at the construction site.

The town will also provide the heavy equipment and the plans in the construction of the houses and the development of infrastructure.

RAFI, for its part, acts as facilitator and evaluator of the program by monitoring the implementation, profiling the beneficiaries, and gathering baseline data. Aside from providing the funds for the construction of the houses, HWA will also provide technical supervision during the construction of houses, including the assignment of an overall project manager.

Once the first 100 families have been selected and informed, RAFI will closely work with them so they can take part in the construction of their homes. This way, the families will also develop early on a sense of ownership of their new homes. “This kind of ‘sweat equity’ is an important contribution by the beneficiaries to the project as they will feel responsible for their community and give a helping hand to the activities on site,” Chylik said.

This will also give an opportunity for HWA and RAFI to get to know the beneficiaries better to identify future leaders who can lead the new community.

To ensure sustainability, the design and construction of the permanent houses use the solid Interlocking Compressed Earth Block (ICEB) bricks pioneered by the University of San Carlos and RAFI, instead of non-durable materials like plywood. A roofed production site for the ICEB production has also been constructed on site to shield the beneficiaries from the elements while making the blocks.

“Our intention is to reduce the beneficiaries’ vulnerability against future disasters,” Chylik said.

The beneficiaries are chosen based on the following criteria:

• The house has been completely destroyed by the typhoon and is uninhabitable.

• The family does not receive adequate assistance for house repair/reconstruction.

• Current residence is within the “no build zone.”

• The family does not own the house they are currently living in.

• The family is willing to be relocated.

• The household is headed by a female.

• The family is taking care of an elderly (aged 60 or above).

• The family is taking care of people with disabilities (PWDs).

• The beneficiary is endorsed by the LGU.

Chylik said that the beneficiaries will also receive livelihood workshops and training “to avoid dependence upon external aid.” “It is not just relocating them but also leaving something behind for them (after we go)," added Ma. Elena Carnacer, RAFI’s coordinator for the relocation project.





Groups vow to fight Aquino’s bid for cha-cha and term extension to secure himself and his pork barrel beyond 2016

By Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino
August 20, 2014

QUEZON CITY – Citing President Noynoy Aquino’s innuendoes towards Cha-Cha and term extension, and his declaration of intent to clip the powers of the judiciary after the Supreme Court declared his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, progressive groups say this clearly reveals Aquino’s dictatorial tendencies.

In a press conference held in Quezon City, the groups Sanlakas, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) and allied peoples organizations vowed to take to the streets and mobilize to fight President Noynoy Aquino schemes to change the Charter in order to extend his term in office to secure himself in the face of recent Disbursement Acceleration program (DAP) controversy.

“If a sitting President flouts the Constitutional tenets on checks and balance by flagrantly attacking the judiciary, flaunts his control over the legislative branch, and pits this against the judiciary as well, does this not endanger the very delicate balance of power of existing constitutional democracy?” argued Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, national Secretary-General of Sanlakas.

Pedrosa said that Aquino’s recent moves against the judiciary, and calls for cha-cha and term extension reminds us of how President Ferdinand Marcos, who in 1972 was on his last year of his Constitutionally-mandated second term made similar innuendoes for term extension during the Constitutional Convention to amend the 1935 Constitution. “We all know what happened in September of 1972, Marcos usurped absolute power when he declared martial law and ruled as a dictator for the next 13 years”.

For his part, Leody de Guzman of BMP asserted that, “the bottom line of recent political tumult since parts of the DAP were declared unconstitutional by the SC is Aquino’s intent to protect himself and his partymates from the consequence of such a resolution, and to secure himself and his party of continued control over power beyond 2016.

The groups also decried the refusal of Congress to recognize an impeachment complaint they filed earlier against President Aquino on the grounds of “culpable violation of the constitution” and “betrayal of trust”.

Sonny Melencio of Partido Lakas ng Masa said, “Despite the general belief that impeachment in our political system is a numbers game, and that all impeachment complaints that are now filed and being deliberated in the House Committee on Justice are expected to be thrown out because of Noynoy’s and the ruling party coalition’s control over the very large majority of the House of Representative, it is still important and significant that we and all the groups who have done so, take a stand and file for impeachment of President Aquino, in the effort to expose the hypocrisy of this administration’s campaign against corruption, and the nature of their TRAPO rule.”

Melencio added, “the fact that we have a House of Representative that will do the behest of the Executive in order to preserve the pork barrel system and to protect their hold on power merely reveals the reality that what we have is a Congress of TRAPOs and elite politicians, not a Congress truly representative of the people, the large majority that is the toiling masses.”

The groups called on the public “not to rely and put their lives and welfare in the hands of the Congress of TRAPOs, but to secure the people’s welfare and interest by setting up a People’s Congress that is representative of the large majority, that is of the toiling masses.”

At their press conference, the groups announced that on August 25, they will launch a nationally-coordinated protest actions in major urban centers such as Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Cebu City, Bacolod City, and Tacloban City in the Visayas, Davao and Ozamis City in Mindanao.

In Metro Manila, they will march to Mendiola in the morning to raise their call, and in the afternoon they will join with various forces gathering in Luneta against the Pork Barrel System.

Thereafter they vowed to hold a series of protests in all urban centers nationwide in the coming weeks. The activists say that these mass actions shall serve as venues and spaces for ordinary folks to link arms and resist and fight the Aquino government’s track of preserving their pork barrel, Cha-Cha and Aquino’s term extension.





Once again, Chiz opposes cha-cha

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
August 19, 2014

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero once again expressed his opposition to amend the 1987 Constitution, particularly the plan to lift the six-year term that would give President Benigno Aquino III or any sitting president a fresh mandate.

At a media forum today, Escudero assured the public that he will not support any move in the Senate that will change any provision in the Charter – a position he has maintained since he assumed public office.

“Hindi ko papahintulutang mangyari o maganap lalo na kung ang partikular na usapan ay term extension o pag-aalis ng term limit,” Escudero said.

According to Escudero, any talk of Charter change (Cha-cha) in order to pursue term extension should have been addressed from start of an administration in order to avoid speculation.

“Matagal ko nang posisyon yan, na ang Cha-cha ay dapat ginagawa yan sa simula ng termino ng sino mang pangulo para walang alinlangan, walang duda na ito’y para sa kapakanan ng lahat, ng pangkalahatan, at hindi lamang ng iilang pulitiko,” he said.

While Escudero believes that Cha-cha would not happen any time soon, he also emphasized that he will fight any move to amend the Constitution in order to weaken the Supreme Court.

“Hindi rin po ako sang-ayon doon dahil kung titingnan natin ang kasaysayan, pinalakas talaga ang Korte Suprema ng Saligang Batas bugso ng naging karanasan natin sa dating administrasyon ni Pangulong Marcos kung saan naging napakalakas, naging napakamapang-abuso ng pangulo.”

“Kung papahinain natin ang Korte Suprema, baka pag dumating ho iyong panahon na may mapang-abuso tayong pangulo – at hindi yun si Pangulong Aquino – e wala na ho tayong Korte Supremang matatakbuhan,” he added.

When asked why there was a lot of chatter about extending Aquino’s term which is ending in 2016, Escudero said it could be a “trial balloon” or an attempt to deflect criticisms portraying the Chief Executive as a “lame duck” President.

“Sa tingin ko ang rason at dahilan sa likod niyan ay para huwag muna siyang balewalain, para hindi muna siya maituring na lame duck dahil at least hindi man totoo, ay may usapan sa pagpapalawig ng termino,” he explained.

Knowing the President, Escudero said, he is already counting the days to leaving Malacañang and live a simple and normal life like everybody else.

“The President and his family have already given their share and more to the country. He deserves to get his own life back, and I think he is looking forward to that day to come in 2016.”





8 ARB organizations receive tools from FAO

ARB organizations

August 18, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – Eight agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) from five Samar and Leyte towns received farm tools from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on separate occasions since July 31 up to August 4 as part of the rehabilitation process in typhoon “Yolanda” affected areas.

A total of 188 sets of farm tools comprised of a shovel, a bolo and a hoe were distributed by Fidel Rodriguez, FAO Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, to the Caticugan Farmers Association, San Juan Farmers and Fishermen Association and the Pagsulhugon Irrigators Association, all within the San Juanico agrarian reform community (ARC) in the municipality of Sta. Rita in the morning of July 31, and the Legaspi Farmers and Fishermen Association and the Kauswagan han Canyoyo Consumers Cooperative, both within the Marabut ARC in Marabut town in the afternoon of the same day.

On August 1 he handed the tools to the Tulusahay Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Julita, Leyte; while on August 4 Rodriguez distributed the same to the St. Benedict Association for Sustainable Farming and the Jaro Agrarian Reform Cooperative of Tunga and Jaro, Leyte, respectively.

Sixty-eight sets of tools were distributed in Sta. Rita, 33 sets were distributed to the two ARBOs in Marabut, 12 sets were distributed in Julita, while 75 sets were distributed to the Tunga ang Jaro ARBOs.

FAO, according to Rodriguez, tied up with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to prioritize the ARBOs because the latter are more organized and active compared to other farmer organizations.

He emphasized that each set of tools is given to a group of five members who are going to share these farm inputs donated by the governments of Ireland and Belgium thru the United Nations.

Rodriguez was assisted by Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officers (MARPOs) Brenda Boller, Chito de la Torre and Norman Diaz during the distribution in Sta. Rita, Marabut and in the Leyte Municipalities, respectively.

Benderito Dacuno, 62, chairman of the Legaspi Farmers and Fishermen Association in thanking the donors said that these are what they need now because all their tools were swept away by “Yolanda”. At the moment, they are just borrowing tools from other villages, he added.

Earlier, FAO also distributed 2,486 bags (40 kilogram per bag) of certified rice seeds and equal number of urea (50 kilogram per bag) to rice farmers.

Meanwhile, Regional Director Sheila Enciso explained that FAO is among the foreign and local organizations who responded to DAR’s call to assist the agency in the rehabilitation of the ARCs particularly those in Leyte, Samar and Eastern Samar’s hardest hit areas.



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