urges concerned Filipinos to pressure DOJ for unsolved killings of militant
By RAY P. GASPAY
CATBALOGAN, Samar - The Asian Human Rights Commission
(AHRC) in Hong Kong in a circulated email of urgent appeal urges concerned
Filipinos worldwide for their intervention to pressure the Philippine
government, in particular the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission
on Human Rights (CHR) to seriously take immediate steps to address the
unsolved cases of killings of activist leaders in the Visayas.
They declared that the latest
attacks and violence against human rights activist in the Philippines,
particularly in Eastern Visayas demonstrate that the killings of activists
are continuing unabated with the government failing to arrest those
responsible and prevent further attacks and violence from reoccurring. The
impunity enjoyed by the alleged perpetrators is mainly a result of an
ineffective witness protection program by the government.
On the early morning of September
1, 2005, another human rights lawyer, Norman Bocar, 57, was shot dead by two
unidentified gunmen in Borongan, Eastern Samar. It was reported that Bocar
was coming out from a meeting when shot in the head by his attackers riding
on a motorcycle. He was the regional chairman of Bayan, a human rights
group, at the time of his death.
Bocar was the latest human rights
lawyer to be killed following the killing of Atty. Felidito Dacut on March
14 in Tacloban City. Bocar is a known progressive lawyer and local leader of
people's organizations. He was among the lawyers defending the human rights
of the poor and the oppressed.
Progressive groups in Eastern
Visayas blamed the military as responsible for the killing of Bocar which
they believed as part of the continuing attack against their members,
however, the military in this region constantly dismissed such accusation.
The AHRC added that since these
systematic attacks began, most of the alleged perpetrators have not been
identified, arrested or prosecuted. There are also strong suspicions that
they could in fact be military agents. Even where there have been potential
witnesses, such as in the case of Atty. Felidito Dacut
(link) and Rev. Edison Lapuz
no progress has been made because they refuse to cooperate. Likewise, the
families and relatives of the dead have also opted not cooperate for fear of
their life and safety.
“The absence of witnesses or their
refusal to cooperate is due in large part to the lack of an effective and
functional program to provide protection for witnesses. Although the
government is aware of this situation it has not done enough to address
this. In most cases, they have put the blame on the witnesses and families
of the dead instead of ensuring their safety and protection during trial.
The DOJ must evaluate and consider placing witnesses under a witness
protection program. It must also provide protection and afford
indemnification to the families of the dead,” the AHRC said.
Even though there have been claims
of concern by government agencies, in particular the Department of Justice
(DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to address this situation,
the reality suggests that the government has not done enough to seriously
resolve this problem, and to provide protection to witnesses.
In a related concern, the Samar
Island Council for Sustainable Development (SICSD), in its BOD meeting held
at the Bishop's Palace in Borongan, Eastern Samar on Monday, September 12,
issued a letter of sympathy and a plea for justice to the untimely death
Atty. Norman Bocar decrying such evil act of killing, and appealed to all
organizations for the preservation of justice.
Gen. Coloma neutralizes 26 EV’s drug
syndicates in 3-year stint
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
Samar -- The Philippine National Police Regional Office in
Eastern Visayas (PRO-8)
under the 3-year headship of Supt. Dionisio Coloma Jr. has neutralized,
among others, 26 local drug syndicates operating in the region.
In his three-years performance accomplishment report, Coloma
said the PRO-8 operatives pulled off raids and buy-bust operations in Leyte,
Samar, and Biliran provinces that resulted to the apprehension of several
pushers and ushers, filing of cases in court and hauled in considerable
amount worth of illegal drugs.
“With this, I am proud to say that we have neutralized the
big syndicates of drug dealers in the region,” General Coloma told the press
as he relinquished his post due to his compulsory retirement on Friday,
Sr. Supt. Conrado Calvario, deputy regional director for
administration, temporarily assumed the post vacated by Coloma, who served
the police force for over 35 years.
According to the report of Coloma, the police and the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have identified 16 drug syndicates
operating in the region in year 2003. Of these figure, Coloma notes, they
were able to neutralized eight drug groups, which considered by them as most
“notorious and elusive.”
Coloma identified those groups as the Sacay Group operating
in Ormoc City; Kalag
Group operating in Southern Leyte; Fiel Group operating in Samar; Espina
Group operating in Sogod, Southern Leyte; Maymay Group operating in
Catbalogan, Samar; Segovia Group operating in Maasin City; Daza-Jasojaso
Group operating In Eastern Samar; and the Semblante Group operating in Ormoc
In 2004, the PRO-8 has again neutralized and disbanded 18
local drug groups out of the identified 32 active drug groups in
Eastern Visayas. Some of
these groups were identified by the police as Alegro Group operating in
Tacloban City; Cordaño Group operating in Dulag, Leyte; Bañez Group
operating in Guiuan, Eastern, Samar; Malic-Muslim Group operating in Ormoc
City; Dacallos Group operating in Tacloban City; Martin Drug Group operating
in Isabel, Leyte; Peñaranda Group operating in Tacloban City; Con-Ui Group
and Diu Group operating in Tacloban City; Callosa Drug Group operating in
Palo, Leyte; Kho Drug Group operating in MacArthur, Eastern Samar; the Roble
and Mirasol Drug Group, which operates in no permanent areas.
From January 2005 to this date, General Coloma reported that
another two drug groups, identified as Arcales Group operating in Catbalogan,
Samar and the Ballais
Group operating in Tacloban City were also neutralized.
All of these local drug groups were neutralized during the
period of August 22, 2002 to August 22, 2005” Coloma said adding that if the
group leader or majority of its members were arrested and or gunned down,
the group’s operation automatically cease and turned inactive.
The region’s former top police official said the EV police
force conducted a total of 461 drug operations that resulted in the arrest
of 657 drug pushers and ushers in various buy-bust, raids and searches; 461
cases were filed in court against the suspects and confiscated 1,137.85
grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and 3,158.71 grams of
marijuana, 284 sticks of marijuana cigarette, 731.1 pieces fully grown
All confiscated prohibited drugs has estimated market value
of P2,429,692.25, it was learned.
On the other hand, Coloma further reported that there were
8,379 crimes reported from August 2002 to July 2005, a decrease of 862 or
9.33% compared to last year’s 9,241 incidents. Of the total crime volume,
Coloma said, “there were 7,873 crimes solved through the support of his
dedicated men and women in the organization.”
Of the recorded total crime volume during the same period,
the police recorded a total of 5,090 index crimes; 3,959 were crimes against
persons and 1,131 crimes against property. The crimes against persons were
defined as murder, homicide, physical injuries, and rape while crimes
against property are cases involving robbery and theft.
“When the police and the community combine to fight against
criminality, the authors of crime cannot stand on the way,” General Coloma
stressed. He added, though, that these accomplishments would not have been
possible without the “support” of the community they pledged to serve.
When asked by the media about his secret weapon by achieving
these accomplishments, Coloma just smiled and say, “Good image follows
performance all the time.”
“As a police officer, we have only two main duties, which are
to prevent crime because he can and to solve it because he must. By this, we
have no reason not to win the battle in the streets,” Coloma disclosed.
NPA attacked SAMELCO personnel
By 8th Infantry Division PR
September 2, 2005
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan,
Samar - Undetermined number of fully armed communist terrorists (CTs)
attacked Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO II) personnel in
Barangay Libas, Catbalogan, Samar on September 1, 2005 at about
3:00 in the afternoon.
The barbaric act resulted to the killing of Engr. Dalmacio Cepeda of Sitio Litong-litong, Lipata, Paranas,
Samar; Ben Gabon of Buray, Paranas,
Samar; and Ryan Cabrigas of
According to the wounded engineer who
succumbed later while being treated at the Samar Provincial Hospital, they
were installing lines when suddenly three (3) shots erupted hitting him at
the right side of the body. Another two (2) shots fired where he saw the
head of one of his comrades fatally hit. After just a moment, two (2) CTs
appeared and shot the lying men at close range. He then heard one of them
said that “napagkamalan namon kamo” and disappeared.
The Command is condemning this murder of
unarmed civilians in the strongest possible terms. It is a blatant disregard
of human rights and dignity. The cowardly act perpetrated by the NPA to the
helpless civilians trying to do their job for better delivery of basic
services to the Catbaloganons should be condemned by all sectors of society
especially the Human Rights advocates.
Cadaver of missing Army sergeant found at
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
August 31, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar – A
composite team belonging to the Catbalogan PNP and the 8th Infantry Division
who conducted search operation recovered the cadaver of an Army sergeant
earlier reported missing by his relatives Thursday.
The dead body of the victim,
identified by the police as certain SSgt. Domingo Ebron Villanueva, 42,
married, and presently assigned at 8ID headquarter, Camp Lukban, Brgy.
Maulong, Catbalogan, was found floating in the seawaters of Brgy. 9, Pier 1,
In a belated investigation
report released by the police, around 7:46 in the evening of August 24,
2005, a heated arguments ensued where the victim, who is apparently under
the influenced of intoxicating liquor, approached the security guard
detailed at the Kim-kim Pharmacy located at corner Del Rosario Street and
Curry Avenue, this town.
Sensing that the soldier may
draw his gun, the suspect identified as certain Alfredo Datuin y Luceriano,
47, married, and a resident of Brgy. Canlapwas, working as security guard of
the Alfa Security Agency wrestled the victim and likewise draw his 29-inches
double-bladed knife locally known as Balisong from his waistline and
stabbed the victim two times.
The suspect told the police
that right after he stabbed the victim, he draw his gun and fired a warning
shot which apparently prompted the victim to ran towards Pier 1 and was
The victim’s dead body,
found next day after the stabbing incident, was then brought by the rescuers
to the morgue of the Samar Provincial Hospital (SPH) for autopsy. The victim
suffered two fatal wounds on his lower breast and on his right arm.
Catbalogan PNP Chief
Inspector Gaudencio Vencio, and his men immediately proceeded to the crime
scene and arrested the suspect. The latter did not resist arrest.
Recovered from the
possession of the suspect were a 7-inch fan knife and his issued short
firearm with unknown caliber. The suspect is now at the PNP lock up cell
awaiting appropriate charges to be filed against him.
Samar Island to host Cultural Tourism
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
August 29, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Regional
Director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes of the Department of Tourism in Eastern
Visayas recently announced that the island of Samar will be celebrating the
4-day “Hadang 2005 Samar Island Cultural Tourism Festival” on September 5-8,
2005, hosted by the northern city of Calbayog.
In her one-page letter dated
August 11, 2005, sent to concerned municipal mayors, tourism officers and
other invited guests, she explained that the event aims to foster unity
among the people of Samar as they set off to undertake unified programs that
would boost the tourism potentials of the whole island.
This summit, Tiopes added,
is designed to engage the industry leaders to forge strong partnerships and
develop strategies that would somehow propel the growth of the industry. “At
the end of the summit, the participants will sign a draft resolution to
affirm their commitment to pursue unified and complementary tourism-related
programs and activities,” the DOT Director Tiopes said.
The DOT regional chief said
expected participants of this summit include the local chief executives,
tourism officers, industry stakeholders from private sector and relevant
government agencies of the provinces of
Samar, Eastern Samar and
Northern Samar and the City of
Meanwhile, Mayor Mel Senen
Sarmiento of the host city of
said that the major highlight of the festival is the conduct of one-day
island wide tourism summit showcasing the different tourism destinations,
history, culture and arts, and craft of the different municipalities in the
three provinces of Samar, including of the city of Calbayog.
Dubbed as “Kangay”
the summit which falls on September 5 carries the theme “Samar: One island,
One People, One Culture.”
On this day, Mayor Sarmiento
will present this theme or concept of focusing their resources and money on
the development and promotion of
Samar’s tourism potentials.
Sarmiento hinted that the
island of Samar may no longer be participating in the annual holding of WOW
Philippines in Intramuros saying that many of our municipalities had been
spending so much money in going to Manila but there were no return of
investments. “In this concept, we are not only going to promote our
beautiful spots here but, more importantly, sigurado naton an return of
investments kay di naman mag aalang an mga investors pag kanhi,” Sarmiento
Invited to grace the affair,
DOT secretary Ace Durano is expected to deliver a message and approve or
disapprove the final resolution institutionalizing the Samar: One island,
One People, One Culture program thru the establishment of the Samar Island
Cultural-Tourism Master Plan and the organization of the Samar Island
This master plan and
proposed programs in the island will be discussed by Tiopes while situation
reports on current tourism programs will be presented by the three governors
representing their respective provinces. Presentation of biodiversity in
Samar Island will also be presented by the Samar Island Biodiversity Project
(SIBP) based in Catbalogan.
Meanwhile, Jonas T. Lim, the
Hadang 2005 Festival Director reiterated to all participating towns to send
back their entry on the search for Miss Samar Island Tourism (Miss Anyag
2005), which will be held on the night of September 5; the number of
delegates/contingent, contact persons and its contact number to the Samar
Island Cultural-Tourism Summit (Sept. 5); Samar Island Tourism Expo (Sept.
5-8); and to the Hadang Streetdance Exhibition (Sept. 7).
Lim said participating
groups to the street dance will be given a hot cash of P20,000 as financial
reward. “This is no more a competition but a showcase of ritual
performance,” Lim told this publication.
“Our only city and towns in
the island has its own unique but distinct competitive advantage with
regards to tourism, cultural heritage, and natural wonders kaya kinahanglan
aton ine nga maging major source of income ngan maka generate hin revenues
pagsustenar han aton economic development programs ngan activities dinhe ha
Samar,” Mayor Sarmiento disclosed.
Reds in EV ‘quash’ in 196 days operations –
Army’s 8th Infantry division out-going Major General Jovito S. Palparan Jr.
today said, the government has neutralized and over-powered the Communist
Party of the Philippines’ armed wing New People’s Army in his one hundred
nine-six (196) days anti-insurgency campaign in Eastern Visayas.
In his message delivered
today during the change of command ceremony in Camp Lukban, Brgy. Maulong
here, the general said that the 8ID under his command neutralized at least
80 percent of insurgency problem particularly in Western Samar areas which
was earlier considered as the “hotbed” of the NPA guerillas.
On February 10, 2005, or
barely six months and thirteen days ago now, his Commander-in-Chief
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed Palparan solve and get rid the
insurgency problem in Samar Island, which he gladly accepted giving himself
a mandate to solve the problem in “six months to a year military combat
“As I hand over my post, I
am proud to report that from February 10, 2005 to date, we have neutralized,
at least, seventy-three (73) CPP-NPA’s and recovered twenty-eight (28)
high-powered and two hundred nineteen (219) low-powered firearms (in our
anti-insurgency campaign in the region),” Gen. Palparan revealed adding that
there were also big NPA camps destroyed and overrun by the army but failed
to give further details.
Aside from this, General
Palparan added, the Army has also neutralized hundreds of the NPA’s
intelligence network and support system members who voluntarily surrendered
and returned peacefully to the mainstream of society.
Palparan attributed these
accomplishments to the support and commitment offered to him by the
different sectors in the society, including the media. “I am grateful that
you have clearly understood my vision of having a truly and developed
region, and I thank you for your display of courage and perseverance,” the
Though saddened by his
reassignment to Fort Magsaysay, 7th Infantry Division in Nueva Ecija saying
he is now gaining grounds in his anti-insurgency campaign here, he expressed
gratitude to the Samareño people who are initially apprehensive due to the
“smear campaign or black propaganda” allegedly spread out by his enemies
about his credibility, but later on became supportive after experiencing the
good result of his deeds.
The general was obviously
referring “smear campaign or black propaganda” to the media criticisms,
series of human rights violations as alleged by some individuals and groups
such as the Interfaith Solidarity Mission (IFSM) and the International
Solidarity Mission (ISM) which composed of human rights advocates from eight
According to these groups,
cases of human rights violations reportedly perpetrated by the 8ID under the
leadership of General Palparan has reached to an alarming level and this was
supported by the statements released the Commission of Human Rights in
Region 8 based on their comparative analysis.
The Commission revealed that
human rights violations jacked up in the first and second quarter of 2005 in
Samar and Leyte areas which involved the harassments and attempted murder of
known militant group members and other progressive groups considered by the
AFP as fronts of CPP/NPA and civilians suspected by the military as NPA
In the previous days, cases
of mass evacuation were reported in the different municipalities in Samar as
a result of intensified combat operations of the 8ID. The operations, both
in urban and rural areas, sow fear to civilians and prompted them to leave
their farmlands, houses in the remote areas and seek refugee in the
poblacion. They blamed the military of their sorry flight.
However, several army
officials, including the controversial Gen. Palparan belies all these
reports saying that “only those affected of anti-insurgency campaign are
spreading the notion that we are behind of these human rights violations and
alleged killings,” Palparan once said in an interview.
Meanwhile, during the change
of command ceremony this morning, August 25, Palparan requested the public
to extend support to Major General Bonifacio Ramos who succeeded him as new
8ID Chief. “My last instruction before finally relinquishing my Command is
for the officers, men and women of the 8th Infantry Division… and the people
of Region 8 “to extend the same support and commitment to my successor.” The
general also thank God for the wisdom, the courage and the strength to
uphold his sworn duty of protecting the constitution and the rights of the