Hong Kong maintains
top spot in freedom index, United States drops to 23rd
November 29, 2016
TORONTO, ON – Hong
Kong is once again the freest jurisdiction in the world while the
United States continues its decline, dropping to 23rd in the
Human Freedom Index, released today
by the Fraser Institute and a network of international public policy
The index – which uses 76
indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms to rank 159
countries and jurisdictions around the world – includes rankings from
2008 to 2014, the most recent year of comparable data.
"The Human Freedom Index
measures civil liberties, economic freedom, the rule of law, freedom
of movement, women's rights and much more," said Fred McMahon, Dr.
Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser
Institute and editor of study.
Hong Kong again ranks number
one, followed by Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland and Denmark.
Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are tied for sixth. Other
notable countries include Germany (13), the U.S. (23), France (31),
Japan (32), Russia (115) and China (141).
Hong Kong's place atop the
list is largely because of its high scores in economic freedom.
"While the freedom index
doesn't measure democracy, democracy remains the best safeguard of
personal freedoms. If China encroaches on its one-country, two-system
relationship with Hong Kong, we can expect Hong Kong's ranking to
drop," McMahon said.
By region, the average
rankings on the index were highest for Western and Northern Europe,
followed by North America. And they were lowest for South Asia,
Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.
The complete index, a joint
project of Canada's Fraser Institute, the Cato Institute in the U.S.,
and the Liberales Institut of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for
Freedom in Germany, is available as a free PDF download at
McMahon is the project
editor. Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute, and Tanja Porcnik of the
Visio Institute in Slovenia are the co-authors.
The 10 freest jurisdictions
1. Hong Kong
3. New Zealand
6. United Kingdom
The 10 least free countries
151. Democratic Republic of
155. Central African
Gov’t accountable for
death of political detainee
SELDA to Duterte:
Release the 400 now!
November 28, 2016
QUEZON CITY – SELDA (Samahan
ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) demanded the Duterte
administration the immediate release of 400 political detainees
following the death of Bernabe Ocasla, Monday afternoon.
“The Duterte administration
is accountable for the death of Ocasla, who should have been released
along with more than a hundred ailing political detainees as soon as
it assumed office. This is the tragic result of the government’s
deliberate delays and excuses in the release of political prisoners,”
said Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA spokesperson.
Selda and other rights
groups have been calling for the release of Ocasla, 66, who went into
a coma after suffering a heart attack on Friday, November 25. He has
been languishing in jail for seven years, and was detained at the
Manila City Jail on trumped-up charges of 15 counts of multiple
murder. Calls for the immediate release of more than a hundred
political prisoners who are ailing and elderly on humanitarian grounds
is continuously denied by the government.
He is one of the co-accused
of NDFP peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Randall
Echanis, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and Adelberto Silva on
trumped up charges of multiple murder cases filed by the Armed Forces
of the Philippines pending before Manila Regional Trial Court Branch
“Ocasla just came from his
court hearing the day before he suffered a heart attack, optimistic
and hopeful for their freedom. He, however, is a ticking time bomb
since, with his hypertension and partial blindness. There are more
Bernabe Ocaslas who are suffering inside detention centers. Their
health conditions are rapidly deteriorating for lack of proper medical
attention and subhuman jail conditions. Most importantly, they should
not be in jail in the first place,” said Cabillas.
More than one-thirds of the
400 political prisoners are sick, a number of them are already old. In
previous years, political prisoners like Alison Alcantara, Benny Barid
and Eduardo Serrano died while under the custody of the state.
Serrano, who died last January, would have been one of the released
NDFP consultants this year, after formal peace talks between the GRP
and the NDFP resumed in July.
Office of the Presidential
Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza and GRP panel
chairman Secretary Silvestre Bello III have been announcing the
release of political prisoners since they assumed office.
“Sec. Dureza even has the
gall to say they’ve released 70 political prisoners while those with
life-threatening illnesses like Ocasla gamble with death. This is far
from truth. We don’t need their empty grandstanding, what we demand is
the release of all political prisoners, alive and granted amnesty.
Release the 400! Amnesty now!” said Cabillas.
industry should be developed not destroyed, labor group says
By Associated Labor Unions
November 27, 2016
QUEZON CITY – Big
labor group Associated Labor Unions (ALU) is calling for convergence
between local government units, national government agencies, industry
players and workers to developed the firecracker and pyrotechnic
manufacturing rather than shut the entire industry in the country.
“We are urging the
government not to destroy the entire industry. What the industry
workers and businesses needs now is help and support from the national
and local government for them to evolve, modernize and flourish. Life
and property destructions can be averted or greatly minimized if the
available new and safe technologies are infused into the industry,”
said Alan Tanjusay, ALU spokesperson.
He said the local government
units or the government agencies such as the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to call for a summit and
lead stakeholders in discussing ways toward modernizing.
The summit could also be a
forum for the introduction of more stringent and consistent
application of safety and health regulation in the manufacturing,
selling and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics.
The labor group made the
proposition amid a work stoppage order issued by the DOLE after a
factory blast happened in Sta. Maria, Bulacan Wednesday killing three
persons and left several others injured.
“If the government suppress
the industry, thousands of workers and their families will suffer.
Besides, if the industry is banned unsafe firecrackers and unregulated
pyrotechnics from foreign countries will be smuggled and proliferate
anyway. So rather than destroy, why not develop and make it thrive,”
He estimated there are
around 400,000 workers, employers, retailers and allied industry
workers are dependent in the industry.
Stakeholders Fellowship in Eastern Samar
By DPAO, 8ID PA
November 24, 2016
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan
City – The Army in Eastern Visayas joined in the Provincial Peace
and Order Council Meeting with the local chief executives and
stakeholders of the whole province of Eastern Samar with Lieut. Gen.
Raul L Del Rosario AFP, Commander Central Command, AFP held at Doña
Vicente Hotel, Borongan, Eastern Samar on November 22, 2016.
The activity aims to unite
the Local Chief Executives and stakeholders towards progression and
addressing the poverty problems of the province. Further, it also
advocates President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s thrust against illegal drugs
and other lawless violence that arises in the province. The meeting
was called to order by the PPOC Chairman, Hon. Marcelo Ferdinand A.
Picardal, Vice-Governor of Eastern Samar.
Present during the activity
are: Lieut Gen Raul L Del Rosario AFP, Commander Central Command; Brig
Gen Raul M Farnacio AFP, Commander 8ID; PSSupt Tranquilino A Araral,
PD, ESPPO; Mr Virgilio Capon, Provincial Administrator representing
Governor Conrado B Nicart Jr; Hon. Marcelino Ferdinand A Picardal,
Vice-Governor and mayors of 1 city and 19 municipalities of Eastern
Samar; Rev. Fr. Leroy Geli, Rector, College of Seminary, Our Lady of
Nativity; and members of Provincial Peace and Order Council of Eastern
During the activity, the
Local Chief Executives were given a time to present their actual
situation especially in the far flung areas. Accordingly, the CPP-NPA
movement affects the peace and order that hinders the progression of
their municipalities especially on the delivery of basic services.
Brig Gen Raul M Farnacio AFP
emphasized that through the assistance from the Local Chief Executives
in addressing the needs of the people is the key to win their trust.
“Kailangan nating magkaisa at ibigay kung ano ang kelangan ng ating
mga mahihirap na kababayan. Problema sa lupa at kahirapan ang hinaing
ng ating mga kababayan. Kaming mga kasundaluhan ay handing tumulong sa
inyo para puntahan ang mga malalayong barangay na mas nangangailan ng
inyong serbisyo”, Farnacio added.
Also, Lieut Gen Raul L Del
Rosario AFP said in his message, “Natutuwa ako at nag-open up ang
ating mga LGUs, you really presented the situation base on the
briefing or reactions and I believe we have identified some problem
areas. I hope that from CENTCOM view ay talagang pursigihin natin ito
hanggat hindi natin makamit yung lasting peace na talagang deserve
nating lahat para umunlad na ang ating Bansang Pilipinas,” Del Rosario
small scale businesses receive first-ever ‘Kapatid Awards’
November 24, 2016
TAGUIG CITY – DTI’s
shared service facilities (SSF) beneficiaries on coffee processing,
native bag making, and fiber marketing were the recipients of the
first-ever Kapatid Awards at PLDT’s MVP Bossing Awards 2016 on
SSFs on coffee processing
from Mountain Province, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), on
pandan and bariw bag making from Leyte, Region VIII and on fiber
marketing expansion from Agusan del Norte, CARAGA received awards for
exhibiting sustainable and inclusive growth models that contribute to
the improvement of the quality of lives in said communities.
Receiving the awards were
representatives from SSF cooperators Dangdang-ay di Ibila Cooperative
from CAR, Sto. Niño de Plaridel Parish Multi-Purpose Cooperative from
Region VIII and San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative
The SSF Project is a key
component of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)'s initiative
to capacitate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing
them appropriate machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and
knowledge under a shared system.
As backbone of the
Philippine economic growth, composed of 99.6% of locally registered
businesses, generating over one million job a year, MSMEs have become
the government’s current priority, with the DTI placing MSME
development at the forefront of regional development and at the front
and center of the trade agenda.
“Aside from keeping the
country moving towards a more strategic direction at the backdrop of
regional development, the government, through the DTI, vows to pursue
meaningful growth that is truly inclusive, the one that reaches the
bottom of the pyramid,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, who was also
one of the recipient of the MVP Bossing Awards in government service.
DTI’s thrust towards MSME
development is anchored on President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point
socio-economic agenda to attain a quality of growth that will result
in shared prosperity among Filipinos, according to the trade chief.
As of October 2016, a total
of 2,099 SSFs have already been established across the country.
In partnership with Go
Negosyo and DTI, the Kapatid Awards is an offshoot of the Kapatid
Program, which has advocated MSME development through training and
partnering with big businesses to mainstream and integrate MSMEs and
their products and services into the bigger value chains.
“Across the country, there
are already successful micro, small and medium scale players who, even
in advance of the Government’s call, have created sustainable growth
models that bring employment to the sectors of society that need it,”
PLDT Vice President Mitch Locsin was quoted in a statement.
8ID Intensifies the
Bayanihan Team Activity
By DPAO, 8ID PA
November 23, 2016
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan
City – The Army in Eastern Visayas headed by Brig Gen Raul M
Farnacio AFP, intensifies its Internal Peace Security Plan “Bayanihan”
that encourages all the Government Agencies and Non-Government
Organizations in working together to end up the socio-economic
problems of this region.
One of these efforts was the
3-day Bayanihan activity from November 7-9, 2016 conducted by the 14th
Infantry (Avenger) Battalion in the barangays of Agsaman, Poblacion,
and Cagmanaba, all of Jipapad, Eastern Samar in partnership with the
AGAPE Rural Health Program, that delivers basic services such as
medical/dental assistance, free medicines, free hair-cuts, film
viewing and distribution of slippers, clothes, and reading glasses.
AGAPE is a Non-Government Organization composed of Christian
volunteers from Asia and US whose mission is to help the less
fortunate that cannot afford to sustain their medications and basic
As a result of the activity,
the people of Jipapad benefited from a total of 1,078 medical
check-ups with free medicines, 78 tooth-extractions, 30 hair-cuts, 330
reading glasses, and 340 pairs of slipper.
In ensuring the safety of
the volunteers of AGAPE, the Avenger Battalion served as their
security all throughout the activity. The security effort of the
troops was not made against the CPP-NPA but rather to prevent any
lawlessness violence that may arise in the area during the activity.
Brig Gen Farnacio says in
his message, “Your Army in Eastern Visayas have not committed any
violations against the observance of ceasefire. We only wanted to make
sure that these good Samaritans will be safe all throughout the
activity against lawlessness. Instead of criticizing and making false
story against the military troops, let the people receive such
services and stop preventing them away from the government. Moreover,
we are encouraging more kind and whole hearted people especially the
Local Government Units to support and help these people living in far
“This is the time to be
united in our desire of addressing the poverty problem of the region.
Let’s help together in building a peaceful and developed Eastern
Visayas“, Farnacio added.
Network Against Drug War
Killings urges probe, fears gov’t cover-up
NAKPhilippines says Duterte
has brought human rights crisis to new, more dangerous level
November 22, 2016
MANILA – The
Philippine government should hold accountable members of law
enforcement agencies implicated in the extrajudicial killings of
civilians in its “war on drugs,” the newly formed Network Against
Killings in the Philippines (NAKPhilippines) said today. At the same
time, the Duterte administration should thoroughly and credibly
investigate the thousands of summary killings attributed to
unidentified gunmen since June 30, 2016.
Since the start of Duterte’s
war on drugs, not a single law enforcer has been brought to court to
answer allegations of extrajudicial executions during so-called
“legitimate police operations.” “What the police and President Duterte
himself have done is to defend the actions of police officers involved
in these operations even though a credible investigation has yet to
take place. We fear not only a lack of accountability but possible
government cover-up for these crimes,” said Father Amado Picardal, one
of the group’s convenors who also serves as its spokesperson.
The government has likewise
failed to launch any meaningful investigation into the more than 3,000
so-called “death under investigation” killings, indicating a serious
failure to fulfill its responsibility and duty to investigate crimes –
particularly crimes of this brutal nature with no semblance of due
process – and bring the perpetrators to justice. “The Duterte
administration’s failure to investigate these summary killings is a
serious lapse in its human rights commitment but at the same time also
indicates complicity in these atrocities,” Father Picardal said.
Several human rights
advocates and civil society organizations, concerned about human
rights, civil liberties and rule of law in the Philippines, formed
NAKPhilippines early this month. “We organized ourselves because civil
society needs to take a firmer, stronger and principled stand against
extrajudicial killings and the continued erosion of universal human
rights in the Philippines,” the group said in its launching statement
released today. “Like the human rights advocates that have campaign
against death squad killings since 1999, we are outraged by these
violations and are committed to do what we can to stop the killings,
demand accountability from government, assert human rights for all,
and protect human rights defenders.”
NAKPhilippines said the
administration of President Duterte has not only made the human rights
situation in the Philippines worse – it has brought it to a whole new
and more dangerous level as the killings in its war on drugs continue.
“It is time for these killings to stop and for the killers to be
brought to justice,” it said.
administrations that have denied complicity in past extrajudicial
killings, the Duterte government “encourages these abuses and even
promises protection to the perpetrators, taking an already egregious
human rights situation to a whole new and more dangerous level,” it
In the first five months of
the Duterte administration, nearly 5,000 people have been killed in
its brutal war on drugs, with the police saying that more than 2,000
of that died in police operations while the rest were killed by
unidentified assailants, what the police calls “deaths under
investigations” that appear to be death squad killings. A number of
children were among those killed.
NAKPhilippines will hold its
launching activity on Nov. 23, which is also the 7th anniversary of
the Ampatuan Massacre. It will hold a “National Day of Prayer and
Solidarity for Victims of Extrajudicial Killings and Their Families”
through a Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Broderick Pabillo at 4:45 PM
at the Shrine of Mother Perpetual Help, Redemptorist Church in
Baclaran, Manila. Families of victims of the drug have been invited to
attend the Mass and the solidarity activities that will follow.
Convenors and supporters of NAKPhilippines will also be present. A
press conference by Bishop Pabillo and the group’s representatives
will also be held at the Sinirangan Café inside the church compound.
The group’s launching
statement is supported and endorsed by several groups from the
Philippines and abroad, among them the Asian Human Rights Commission (Hongkong),
Bahay Tuluyan (Philippines), Bawgbug Advocates for Peace and Human
Rights (Philippines), Coalition Against Summary Execution
(Philippines), Cross Cultural Foundation (Thailand), Human Rights
Watch (USA), Human Rights Office (Sri Lanka), Jagaran Media Center
(Nepal), Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese (Hong
Kong), Katilingbanong Pagtambayayong (Philippines), LBH Padang (Legal
Aid) (Indonesia), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (Philippines), Sentro
(Philippines), Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (Nepal),
Interfaith Cooperation Forum in Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Janasansadaya -
Panadura (Sri lanka), Conectas Human Rights (Brazil), Community
Development Foundation Pakistan (Pakistan), Centre for War Victims and
Human Rights (Canada), Odhikar (Bangladesh), and Sedane Labour
Resource Center (Indonesia). Dozens of individuals have also signed up
and the group expects more in the coming days.
Activity (BTA) send-off ceremony - first time in Catarman, LGU ready
43rd Infantry Battalion, 8ID PA
November 21, 2016
LOPE DE VEGA, Northern,
Samar – The Local Government Unit of Catarman, Northern Samar
together with the 43rd Infantry (We Search) Battalion, 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers)
Division, Philippine Army and other stakeholders conducted Send-Off
Ceremony of Bayanihan Team Activity (BTA) on November 18, 2016, 9:00
o’clock in the morning at the Municipal Gymnasium.
Some Guests from other
stakeholders such as the Philippine National Police, Department of
Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment
and Natural Resources and Department of Labor and Employment
participated and witnessed the send-off of the BTA operators.
Moreover, the two (2)
barangay captains from Brgy. Quezon and Brgy. McKinley, both of
Catarman, Northern Samar where the BTA Team will be deployed also
attended the send-off ceremony.
The activity was designed to
show to the people that the Bayanihan Team Activity is not a military
activity alone, but it is a convergence of effort from other agencies
of the government as stated in the IPSP “Bayanihan” wherein other
stakeholders are involved from planning, implementation and evaluation
Major Edgar A Gabia (INF)
PA, officer-in-charge, 43rd IB said: “This activity will remind
everyone that IPSP “Bayanihan” is a convergence of efforts to WIN the
PEACE from other stakeholders or line agencies of the government,
wherein the efforts are geared towards convincing the CPP-NPA-NDF to
abandon the armed struggle and engage in Peace Talks/negotiations.” He
also encouraged the other line agencies specially the LGUs to do their
share and give their whole hearted support for the successful conduct
of the Bayanihan Team Activity”.
Executive Assistant Arielyn
L. Fernandez also said that: “In the absence of Mayor Franciso
Rosales, I am representing on his behalf, pinapasabi ni Mayor na ang
LGU ay handang tumulong at sumuporta sa mga gagawin ng mga BTA
operators sa mga barangay na pupuntahan nila para maipaabot din ang
“Actually, this is the first
time na nagkaroon ng ganitong activity dito sa Catarman, on behalf of
the Office of the Mayor, we express our thanks to the 43rd IB who
exerted the effort to make this event become successful, and we hope
that through them, the people of Brgy. Quezon and McKinley will be
enlightened and stop their support and alliance with the NPA so that
the said barangays will become more progressive and well developed.”