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DILG-8 honors unsung heroes of Yolanda

Climate Walkers reach Albay Province, the “climate change capital” of the Philippines

Campaigners say “get the lead out for our children’s health” as Filipino children join worldwide action vs. lead poisoning

Bangon to grow vegetables for bigger market this month

40-day Climate Walk to Tacloban kicks off in Luneta

Yolanda-hit villages declared as first 'Zero Open Defecation' barangays in Leyte

Ailing political prisoner Benny Barid dies; rights groups demand justice

DSWD-8 awards winners of 4Ps model family







8ID troops encounters NPA in Samar, aids wounded rebel

November 16, 2014

CATBALOGAN CITY – Army troops operating in Samar Province encountered NPA members in a remote area of Barangay Bolao, Basey, Samar at noon of November 16, 2014.

Based on the initial report Lt Col Miguel E. Ceballos, Commanding Officer, 20th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, his troops were conducting security operations to check the presence of NPA members in the outskirts of the aforesaid barangay.

While approaching a forested portion in area, the troops chanced upon a makeshift hut in isolation which turned-out to be an enemy post occupied by more or less five heavily armed NPA rebels. Firefight ensued for approximately five minutes as the troops advanced toward the post after which the rebels immediately withdrew. Government troops immediately scoured the area and followed the withdrawal route which eventually led them to a wounded yet still armed NPA combatant who was intentionally left behind by his comrades due to his condition.

Recognizing the immediate need for medical assistance, the troops on the ground provided first aid to the wounded rebel and immediately requested for his immediate evacuation for further medical treatment. In response, 8th Infantry Division immediately dispatched two helicopters to airlift the wounded rebel from the encounter site to the Camp Lukban Station Hospital for his immediate medical treatment. The wounded NPA remain unidentified and being provided intensive medical assistance as of this time.

The encounter resulted to the recovery of one M16 armalite rifle, ammunitions and personal belongings. There was no casualty on the side of the government troops while one was determined on the enemy side.

Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, Commander of the 8th Infantry Division lauded the officers and men of 20IB for the successful result of the encounter against the NPAs operating in Basey, Samar. The 8ID chief further extended his appreciation to the troops for abiding to the rules of engagement particularly in situation warranting attendance to wounded enemy combatants. “…the actions of our troops on the ground bespeaks of our troops’ respect to the Rule of Law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law. It was only unfortunate that the rebels have to fire at the government troops which led to the wounding of one of them and worst, was left behind by his comrades.

These local NPA combatants are just victims themselves of communist leaders who take advantage of them just to pursue their personal motives. And in combat, even a wounded enemy deserves immediate medical care which was manifested by our troops despite of the volatile situation, when they provided immediate medical attention to the wounded combatant”, Velarmino added, however the wounded rebel have to face the law for the possession of war materiel.

Likewise, the Commander expressed his sincerest appreciation for the continued support of the communities in the quest for a lasting peace in Region 8. “Small as it maybe, your timely information significantly led to the success of our effort in addressing the NPA threat in this part of the region. Rest assured that your Army here in Eastern Visayas will remain and will always be by your side as we pursue genuine peace, nation-building and development in this region”, says Velarmino.





Sen. Pia brings Rizal shrine desecration case to int'l body

By Office of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano
November 11, 2014

PASAY CITY – Senator Pia S. Cayetano has elevated the issue of the desecration of the Rizal Monument before an international body tasked to identify and protect heritage sites around the world.

The senator is attending the 18th general assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) being held this week in Florence, Italy, together with ICOMOS Philippines president Architect Augusto Villalon to raise the issue of the ‘photo bombing’ of the sightline of the 101-year-old Rizal shrine by Torre de Manila, a 49-story commercial building being constructed across Rizal Park behind the historic monument.

Cayetano has been working with ICOMOS Philippines to protect the Rizal Monument. This led to the filing of a resolution against Torre de Manila which will be heard at the ICOMOS assembly.

“We hope to gather international support for our campaign to stop the Torre de Manila project and its developer, DM Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), from desecrating the sightline and integrity of the Rizal Monument,” said Cayetano, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

An advisory body to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, ICOMOS is composed of 9,500 heritage conservation experts from 100 national committees throughout the world. Part of the agency’s mandate is to nominate cultural and historical sites for inclusion in the World Heritage List. ICOMOS also provides expertise and support for threatened heritage sites brought to its attention.

"After my initial visits to UNESCO and the ICOMOS headquarters in Paris, I learned how around the world, governments, NGOs, businesses and communities have united to protect their heritage sites. And there are many examples of structures and buildings found to be obstructing these sites that were struck down."

“As we continue to fight for the Rizal Monument using different avenues within our country, we will leave no stone unturned and exert parallel efforts outside the country to ensure that our national monument is respected and safeguarded,” she stressed.

“The shrine built in honor of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, symbolizes not only the Filipinos’ historic struggle for independence from colonial rule at the turn of the century, but also the universal ideals of education, democracy, freedom, equality and nationalism that Rizal fought for.”

“I am also looking forward to the lectures that will showcase best practices in heritage preservation based on the experiences of other countries. In fact, I am excited about the presentation by our very own ICOMOS Philippines president who will present the case of Vigan as the best showcase of heritage site management practice in our country," she concluded.





8ID troops recover war materiel during an encounter with NPA

November 8, 2014

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar – Army operating troops in Samar Island recovered several war materiel after a brief encounter with a small group of NPA rebels in a remote area at Brgy Sto Niño, Motiong, Samar last November 6, 2014.

In a report from Lt Col Antonio Dulnuan Jr, Commanding Officer of the 87th Infantry (Hinirang) Battalion, his troops were conducting Peace and Security Operations in the outskirts of said barangay when they chanced upon a team of NPA rebels passing also in the area.

A brief exchange of firefight followed forcing the enemy to withdraw from their position leaving behind several war materiels at the encounter site. Among the items recovered were one bandoleer, five long magazines for M16 rifle, two short magazines for M16 rifle, eighty rounds live ammunitions for M16, two back packs with personal belongings, one hand grenade and high value subversive documents.

The rebels were unable to inflict casualties against government forces while casualties on the rebel side remained undetermined.

MGen. Jet B. Velarmino, 8ID commander, expressed his appreciation to the operating troops of the 87IB for their dedication and commitment in safeguarding the communities against the rebels.

Further, he reiterated the government’s call for non-violence, for the rebels to return to the mainstream society, and for them to take advantage of the government’s reconciliation programs.





DPWH allocates P50 million access road to Bangon falls

The Bangon Falls in Calbayog

November 6, 2014

CALBAYOG CITY – Samar First District Engineering programmed P50 Million for the construction of access road to one of the famous waterfalls in Calbayog City.

Cong. Mel Senen S. Sarmiento said that the amount will be used to construct a concrete access road going to Bangon Falls, one of the most well-known waterfalls of this city, but remain unexplored by tourists due to road difficulty. According to DE Eduarte, the construction of more than three kilometers access road is expected to start next year.

The development of access road to Bangon Falls is under the Eastern Visayas Tourism Roadmap of the Department of Tourism. Bangon Falls as one of the more than 20 waterfalls of Calbayog is located at Brgy. Tinaplacan which is three kilometers away from the highway which at present can be reached through a “habal-habal”.

Once the access road is implemented, tourist activities in the area will develop. The Tourism Roadmap envisions to heighten the competitiveness of the region as alternative tourist destination.





NYC commissioner Dingdong Dantes joins climate walk as it reaches Catbalogan on 35th day

climate walkers in catbalogan

By Climate Walk
November 4, 2014

CATBALOGAN, Samar – Climate advocates demand world leaders to “make actions, not words” on confronting the climate crisis as they near the end of the 1,000-KM, 40-day journey from KM zero of the Philippines to ‘Ground Zero’ of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

“We are facing one of the greatest challenges to humanity. The way we treat nature is a reflection of how we treat others. No more aimless talks. We need to start walking the talk,” stated by PH UN Climate Talks Negotiator and Climate Change Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño who initiated the 40-day Climate Walk.

Dubbed as the Climate Walk: A People’s Walk for Climate Justice, the march gathered various environmental groups, celebrities, government officials, faith groups, youth, and individuals during its launch last October 2 in Luneta, Manila, the International Day for Non-Violence, to take on a 40-day walk to reach Tacloban City on November 8, the first anniversary of the super typhoon’s historic land fall.

Advocates taking on the Climate Walk empower local communities and help them become resilient in the impacts of disasters and climate change through the Climate Fairs, a series of events highlighting different issues of climate change affecting each area.

“Why are we walking? If we had taken the plane, we would not have met you. If we had taken the bus or our cars, we would have just passed by you and we wouldn't have known what you are going through. We offer this walk to everyone affected by climate change. We offer it to you,” said Saño during his speech in one of the Climate Fairs.

Local government units along the route of the Climate Walk have also committed to taking action against the climate crisis by committing to draft their own Local Climate Change Action Plans (LCCAP). Climate Advocates facilitates distribution of Climate and Disaster Resilience Toolkits in local municipalities and institutions which is a set of resources that can be used to enhance community planning for climate change and assist in the protection of communities from climate disaster risks.

In the Climate Fair held at the Samar State University, Commissioner Dingdong Dantes of the National Youth Commission, joined the Climate Walk. As he addressed the 3,000 students of Catbalogan, he said, “This walk is about marriage. This is the coming together of institutions and the Filipino people to fight climate change. In every disaster, the youth is one of the most vulnerable sectors. We can’t allow ourselves to be just victims. We have to be part of the solution.”

Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan welcomed the climate walk to her city and committed to implement their Local Climate Change Adaptation Plan (LCCAP) and to be resilient in the face of disasters. According to Mayor Tan, “Climate change is undebatable and we need to act together. Let us all be climate change warriors.”

Following the People’s Climate March last September 23 in New York, which mobilized about 400,000 people, Climate Walk encourages people deemed most vulnerable to climate change – farmers and fishers – as well as youth, faith groups, and the general public to support the Climate Walk even in their own little ways.

In ending, Saño said, “Climate change is a fight that we cannot afford to lose. Climate Walk is a call for unity. We cannot confront climate change and its dangers if we will act individually. We need collective action in facing this madness. We, as a developing nation and one of the most vulnerable to risks of disasters and effects of climate change, should stand up and demand for our survival.”

“Our destination is not only Tacloban. Our destination is the hearts and minds of the nation and the whole world, hearts and minds that can change the world,” Saño stated.

Now on its final week, Climate Walk already traversed parts of Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon, Sorsogon, and Albay with commitments from different local governments, and will traverse the remaining parts of Samar, and Leyte. On November 8, participants will cross the famous San Juanico Bridge towards Tacloban City.

climate pledge in catbalogan






Typhoon Yolanda survivors back in business

November 4, 2014

MANILA – One year after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ripped through the Philippines, tens of thousands of families whose livelihoods were devastated are returning to work with the support of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Yolanda facts and figuresAlmost 30,000 households have so far received cash grants of up to USD 220 as part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year USD 360 million recovery plan which will support 500,000 people across Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.

Pigs, goats, chickens and stock for convenience or ‘sari-sari’ stores are among the most popular items being bought by Haiyan survivors as part of the livelihoods programme.

Initial data shows farming, rearing livestock and setting up local convenience shops are the top three income-generators for those who have received Red Cross support.

“Kick-starting livelihoods is key to the long term recovery of disaster-hit communities and we have made this a priority in our work, as well as housing,” said Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard Gordon. “One year after Haiyan robbed so many families of their income, we are seeing people return to work and others setting up new businesses.”

Peanut butter production, candle making, and turning truck tyres into kitchen kit are also among the micro-enterprises that have been set up by entrepreneurs using the grants.

Six million workers saw their livelihoods either wiped out or damaged by the disaster – of which 2.6 million were living on or below the poverty line before the typhoon (UNOCHA/ILO

Vocational training such as sustainable farming techniques, hog rearing, book keeping, arithmetic and advice on how to diversify and grow businesses is also part of the Red Cross support package.

PRC Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang said: “Recovery is well under way but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground and we are working across 400 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Father-of-three and rice farmer Jessie Lape Jr, from Luca in Ajuy, Panay, said: “The typhoon wiped out our crops and we had nothing to harvest – it was a desperate time.But the livelihood support has changed everything - I had the money to buy seeds, repair tools and now I have crop insurance. I can sleep easier knowing we are in a better position when the next typhoon hits.”

Since Haiyan devastated the region, PRC together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been on the ground supporting hundreds of communities. Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies from around the world are also working across the country as part of the typhoon recovery effort.

More than 1.3million people were provided with emergency relief in the aftermath and one year on, the Red Cross’s long term recovery plan is targeting some of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors.

Building back safer shelters and community training on construction practices are a central part of the plan, which places resilience and risk-reduction at its heart. Courses for masons and carpenters are being held and more than 6,500 fishermen have been provided with cash to buy or repair damaged boats.

Almost 6,100 houses have been rebuilt and in the next 15 months, 40,000 families will have received safer homes. More than 23,000 households have also received roofing sheets to repair their homes. A total of 192 classrooms have been repaired or rebuilt so far and rural health facilities are also being restored.





Caglanipao Flood Control Structure completed

Caglanipao Flood Control project

November 3, 2014

CALBAYOG CITY – The inspectorate team of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) – Samar First District Engineering Office (SFDEO), Calbayog City led by Assistant District Engineer Alvin Ignacio conducted an ocular inspection on the newly completed project, Rehabilitation of the Caglanipao flood control structure located at Brgy. Caglanipao Sur, Calbayog City, Samar.

This project is under contract with CDU Construction and has an appropriation of P20 million under the DPWH 2014 Regular Infrastructure Fund. CDU Construction kicked off the construction activities on the 24th of February 2014. They were given 192 calendar days (until September 24, 2014) to complete the project and they were able to finish it earlier than expected.

Scope of works for the project comprises of structure excavation, installation of reinforcing steel, construction of structural concrete and grouted riprap.

This project is one of the Department’s adaptation programs aimed at combating the various effects of climate change that we are all experiencing. This will prevent flooding brought about by incessant heavy rains and high tide.





Plan International, European Union, and LGUs to sign MOU to promote Positive Child Discipline in Eastern Samar

November 3, 2014

BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar – This Thursday, Nov. 6, the local governments of Maydolong and Llorente will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Plan International and European Union to promote positive and non-violent discipline of children.

The MOU strengthens the commitment of the local government units (LGUs) to work with the global child rights organization, Plan International, in implementing the “Collective Action to Promote Non-Violent and Protective Society for Children,” a project funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population Development Foundation (PLCPD) and Lihok Pilipina Foundation.

The project, dubbed as the “Positive Discipline Project,” is a three-year initiative that aims to help families, teachers, barangay officials, and other members of the community to stop abusive child disciplining practices such as spanking, pinching, and humiliation. Instead, adults are encouraged to practice non-violent means of guiding children’s behavior such as reprimanding the children privately and explaining the difference between right and wrong.

“In the Philippines, corporal punishment is a prevalent practice in disciplining children, but it is a form of physical and psychological violence. Positive discipline is a parenting approach that guides the children while respecting their rights,” says Jayson Lozano, Project Manager of Plan International.

In a study commissioned by Plan International and European Union in 2011, 75% of the parents said that they use corporal punishment to discipline their children. However, corporal punishment lowers the children’s self-esteem, promotes violence, and weakens the bond between parents and children.

Corporal Punishment in Eastern Samar

Based on the baseline research of the project, almost 40% of the surveyed parents in Eastern Samar use physical means of disciplining their children. These include spanking the children’s bottom, hand, arms, or legs; hitting the children’s bottom with an object; and pinching.

At the moment, there is no officially reported case of corporal punishment in the area. Yet, there are reports of physical abuse, violence, or injury that may be cases of corporal punishment, especially if the motive was to discipline the child. This lack of data maybe attributed to the aggregation of corporal punishment cases to the child abuse reports. It may also be because the issue is viewed as a private matter.

The Positive Discipline Project in Eastern Samar

The project implementation began in Eastern Samar in September 2013. To date, the project accomplished the formation of the coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) that promote positive discipline, the reconvening of kids that belong to the Community-Based Monitoring and Advocacy Group, the formation of Parent-Support Groups, and the creation of Youth Peer Support group in schools and communities. Also, the project helped in strengthening the capacities of CSOs and kids by conducting trainings on positive discipline and child protection, as well as trainings on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the rights and responsibilities of the child.





NDF-EV slams Aquino's Yolanda rehab master plan as yet another “pork barrel”

By NDF-Eastern Visayas
November 3, 2014

SAMAR - The P167.9 billion Yolanda rehab master plan signed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is nothing but “pork barrel” in disguise, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) said today. “The Aquino regime further inflames the Yolanda survivors by dumping on their heads what is essentially a “pork barrel” disguised as a rehabilitation master plan,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas. “The so-called Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) will not benefit the millions of people affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda. Instead, it is a package of political patronage for Aquino's big business cronies as well as his political allies who are gearing for the 2016 elections. It is part of the regime's election war chest.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson said the CRRP by itself is too little, too late and too corrupt. “The CRRP contradicts an earlier government estimate by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the total cost of damages by Yolanda pegged at P571.1 billion pesos. The NEDA also said earlier that P360.9 billion pesos would be needed for recovery and reconstruction, which is only 63% of the damage assessment. The CRRP signed by Aquino allocates even less government aid. Worse, whatever little the Aquino deigns to give will not be going to the poor, but for the entrenchment of the rich and powerful.”

Fr. Salas said the CRRP is a bonanza for the Aquino regime's big business cronies as well as politicians in Eastern Visayas and elsewhere in the “Yolanda corridor” who are close to to the regime. “The bulk of CRRP will go to resettlement projects worth P75.67 billion. These will benefit businesses in property development and real estate in two ways. First, they will build the resettlement projects for communities which are targeted for demolition, including 33 barangays in Tacloban City in Leyte alone. And second, the areas that have been demolished are being eyed as business enclaves for call centers, resorts, casinos, and the like. In Tacloban City and other areas, Manny Pangilinan and Enrique Razon already have vested interests, along with other wealthy families like Ayala, Sy, Gaisano, Aboitiz, among others.

“The other allotments in CRRP will benefit the Aquino regime's allies in the local government. The P35.1 billion for infrastructure, for example, is prone to corruption. Meanwhile, the P30.6 billion for livelihood and P26.4 billion for social services may be used for political patronage through sham social amelioration programs. For example, the Aquino government's “cash for work” and 4Ps program have long been used by local politicians to buy votes in their bailiwicks. Moreover, the Aquino government has not been transparent about the actual amount of foreign aid received and distributed, opening room for doubt that much of this went to corruption.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson also noted the CRRP does not offer anything for peasants who are the majority of those who suffered from Yolanda's onslaught last November 8, 2013. “According to reports by the Yolanda survivors themselves, the damage to agriculture and fisheries is pegged at P144 billion and that is in Eastern Visayas alone – almost equivalent to the government aid package for all Yolanda-affected regions. The production of coconut, a major crop, will take up to a decade to fully restore. Other crops for commercial and consumption purposes are just barely recovering after being almost totally wiped out, such as bananas, vegetables and root crops. The majority of Yolanda survivors are on the brink of starvation, but there is no government for them.”

Fr. Salas said the Aquino government's Yolanda rehabilitation master is another disaster that will lead to more suffering as well as fodder for the demand to oust the current administration. “The Yolanda survivors are further inflamed that the CRRP may be the last straw. The Aquino regime is heading for a showdown with the Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas. The people are fed up with the social injustice and corruption surrounding the Yolanda rehabilitation master plan. The Aquino regime is ripe for ouster for proving beyond doubt through its CRRP that it is hastening the rotting of the reactionary ruling system through its “pork barrel” patronage politics.

“The international community should demand accountability from the Aquino regime over the billions of aid that has remained unaccounted. They should support the struggle of the survivors for justice.

“It is a matter of justice that the people press on with their democratic demands for land, livelihood, financial aid and adequate shelter. The Yolanda survivors and others who survived other calamities can unite to strengthen their struggle for reparations the reactionary government and its US imperialist master owes them. In the final analysis, there can be genuine reconstruction only through winning the national democratic revolution. Only by waging and winning the national democratic revolution can there be a government that does not rely on the “pork barrel” but serves the interests of the people, ensures agrarian reform and national industrialization for national progress, and carry out policies for the protection of the people and the environment so another Yolanda will never wreak such havoc again.”



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