In Catbalogan: Controversy on vacancy of
entire ABC posts settled; election deferred
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
October 3, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar – The
issue on whether it is legal or not vis-à-vis the resolution earlier passed
by the Catbalogan Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC) vacating the entire
seats and positions and setting the date for the election of new sets of
officer has been put to rest.
This after the Department of
Interior on Local Government (DILG) and the Liga ng mga Barangay national
headquarters in Pasig City issued guidelines and provisions not allowing the
ABC here to “reorganize” considering that they were still in position in a
Under the “hold-over
capacity,” a DILG insider said, an incumbent ABC official may hold his
office even after his position expire on the last day of November 2005,
until the winning successor be proclaimed on the next election.
Of this, the source said,
the supposed election on September 26 slated by the ABC through their 2-page
unnumbered resolution was deferred. They were advised to wait for the next
barangay election, which has been postponed to November 2006.
Meanwhile, the controversy
that shocked the populace and political observers here stemmed when the
Catbalogan ABC officers tendered their “mass resignation” and issued a
resolution declaring all their respective positions vacant and set for date
for the election of the new set of officers last week at the Cocina de
Cabral, this town.
The Catbalogan ABC officials
said in their resolution, “the term of office of (all) officers of this
Association expired on August 15, 2005 co-terminus with the term of office
of the Barangay Chairmen, and no new election has since been conducted to
elect a new set of officers of the Association, so as to hold a new set of
officials for the Association, as all Barangay Officials of this
Municipality are discharging their offices in a hold-over capacity, there is
legal necessity to declare that all said positions as vacant.”
They added, “(and because
of) this declaration of vacancy of all positions, there is need to set a
date for the election of a new set of officers of the Association.”
The resolution appointed
barangay chairmen Kenneth Abad as acting presiding officer, Felomino
Cabarriban, Claudio Del Monte and Juanito Basal as chairman and members
respectively of the election committee on the supposed September 26
Talks on the issue looms
when it was discovered that the date of approval of the resolution was
“erroneously” dated September 29 instead of “August 29.” The controversy
enthused further especially when it (resolution) was speculated, “designed”
to “terminate” the representation of provincial ABC federation president
Joseph Escober as an “ex-officio” member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
But, up to this writing, no
one of the 47 out of 57 village chairmen who signed and supported the said
resolution dared to admit or to point out as to who really “authored” the
resolution and “masterminded” the intent if true.
however, reported that majority of the ABC officers could have been
“influenced” allegedly by Catbalogan Mayor Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy. It was
learned Escober defeated Uy in their last election for the Catbalogan ABC
presidency despite the huge amount of money spent by Uy when he was still
the punong barangay in Catbalogan. Efforts by this writer to reach Uy for
his comments regarding the issue yielded negative.
On the other hand, the
Municipal Liga ng mga Barangay Vice-President who is now acting President
Calixtro H. Rosal, issued a “stern warning” to his colleagues to observe
proper procedure if they want to divest Escober of his authority and mandate
to represent the ABC in the Provincial Board to avoid “disciplinary
sanctions” in case there is illegal acts in signing the “erroneous”
“We all know that we were
elected through an election on July 15, 2002 and we assumed office on August
15, 2002 and our term (should only) end on November 30, 2005,” Rosal said in
his memorandum addressed to all ABC officers attaching all the letters and
guidelines sent by the national Liga and the DILG.
Meanwhile, Escober, who is
up to now silent to answer media queries, earlier wrote a letter dated
August 31, 2005 to the Liga ng mga Barangay national headquarters in Pasig
City asking for “clarifications” as to whether it is legal or not that the
present Liga can undertake “reorganization” by their own capacity.
Liga national president
James Marty L. Lim, in his reply to Escober letter, however said that
“reorganization per se is not favored within the context of the Liga” citing
some provisions of their Constitution and By-laws.
“We hope that these would
serve to amply settle your present concerns,” Lim said on his letter to
Escober copy furnishing the ABC association.
By this guidelines coming
from national offices of both Liga and DILG, it was reported that an
“agreements” has been made last week thereby made the issue finally settled.
But the issue on the
“intent” of the resolution and the alleged “maneuver” to take the place of
the current ABC federation president remained unresolved until no one comes
out to share a story.
Sacked farm workers in
Mindanao forced to eat poisonous frogs to survive
By AHRC PR
HONG KONG - Unfairly dismissed agricultural workers and families in Mindanao,
southern Philippines, are being forced to eat poisonous frogs and ground
corncobs to survive, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reported on
The workers in Alabel were
among a group sacked after protesting against the failure of the Sarangani
Agricultural Company to distribute land to them in accordance with a
government order. They have been living in hunger and abject poverty since
2003, the Hong Kong-based regional rights body said in an appeal.
If they have no other food,
the people collect Hawaiian frogs at the riverbanks and cook them, Leonilo
Baldecantos, 46, said.
"Even though they are aware
that Hawaiian frogs are poisonous if not prepared and cooked properly, they
are forced to eat them to fill their hungry stomachs," the AHRC said in its
Other victims said that they
have resorted to grinding up corncobs and cooking these as a substitute for
rice, the AHRC reported.
While the Department of
Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and provincial authorities are aware
of the case, they have not given any assistance, despite a provincial
campaign to eradicate poverty and hunger.
According to the hunger
victims, they had approached the DSWD and been interviewed in March and
April 2004, but did not qualify for assistance.
In letters to the DSWD and
Sarangani Governor Rene A Dominguez, the AHRC called for immediate action to
ensure that the affected persons could obtain sufficient nutritious food
until getting an alternative means of livelihood.
"It is the responsibility of
the governor to take steps to advance the interest of his constituents,
particularly where there is an urgency caused by the grave poverty
afflicting many of the persons affected by this land dispute [with the
Sarangani Agricultural Company]," Payal Rajpal, AHRC project coordinator,
Rajpal noted that under the
Social Reform and Poverty Act of the Philippines the authorities are obliged
to intervene in order to ensure that the victim's basic needs are met.
The AHRC has been issuing
hunger alerts since 2004 as a part of its urgent appeals programme, aiming
to highlight the connections between food shortages, starvation and other
fundamental human rights in Asia.
Congress endorses SINP bill to the Senate for
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
September 29, 2005
– After hearing the “unequivocal” and “conflicting” stands of both
mining enthusiasts and environmentalists regarding the enactment of the
Samar Island Natural Park bill, the House Committee on Natural Resources
finally endorsed the bill to the Senate Wednesday, September 21, this year.
Nicanor “Nick” Arjon,
advocacy officer of the Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP) based here
informed that the said bill has been forwarded from the lower House to the
Senate by Rep. Leovigildo B. Banaag, who chairs the Committee that “weight”
the arguments of the two opposing parties.
“If the Senate will pass
this bill as ease without any comments or altercation then this will be
carried out easily,” Arjon told this publication. He, however, quickly
explained that, “(but) if they have another version contrary to the bill
approved by the Lower House, a bicameral proceedings will take place.”
Congressman Banaag, who
represents the first district of Agusan del Sur, decided to carry out the
bill but with few remarks and recommendations. During the first hearing held
on May 25, 2005, Banaag urged the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) management to conduct a comprehensive study on the best
land use option in the contested area within the proclaimed Samar Island
In a series of committee
hearings, many civil society actors claimed the solon “favored” them when
the latter apparently heeded the clamor of the Samareños as they quoted him
saying, “the will of the Samareños must prevail.”
Rep. Banaag mediated in
between the “hottest season” discussions of the civil society groups led by
the Samar Island Biodiversity Foundation (SIBF) and the Samar Island Council
for Sustainable Development (SICSD) against the mining groups represented by
the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CMP) headed by certain Philip
Sangkay Incorporated, an
organization of Samareños residing in Metro Manila, Haribon Foundation,
Conservation International, Foundation for Philippine Environment, among
other church groups, supported the stand of the SIBF and SICSD.
This group of Samareños
believed that the island’s mineral resources is one of the richest in the
country, and that “it must be preserved.” But the mining enthusiasts say
otherwise. They concluded that these minerals should be “mined” in a
responsible way so that it can help the country’s economic disease.
And because of this opposing
belief, the SINP bill suffered several postponements at the Lower House but
now it has been moved one step higher, at the Upper House.
Meanwhile, SIBP Project
Manager Manolito Ragub said Samar Island is one of the richest in terms of
mineral resources in the country today and it has the only known bauxite
deposits in the Philippines with sufficient volume and high alumina content.
Ragub said, in one of his
publicly made report, the island was declared a mineral reserve in 1977 and
about 220, 000 hectares have been earmarked for such. “(And) that is one
reason why on-going conflict between those who favor extraction and those
who want to keep out mining from the forest because the 119, 200 hectares of
the reservation overlap with the SINP,” he said.
Peace rallyists brave the rain to oppose
By ELI C. DALUMPINES, PIA
September 22, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar - Despite heavy rains, some
700 peace rallyists composed of former members and supporters of the
communist New People's Army (NPA) in Pinabacdao town raised anti-Communist
slogans and reminded their townmates never to be fooled again by the godless
"Pag Mawara na an
Komyunista, Mauswag NA Kita"; "An CPP‑NPA Atuhan Ta" and "Bayan Muna,
Gabriela, Anak Pawis, Gutom na ba Kamo?" were some of the slogans the
protesters fervently raised to dramatize their protest. This was highlighted
with the burning of the communist flag which symbolized the breaking of the
yoke of communism which have burdened them for a long time already.
Enrico Gacusana, a
barangay official of an interior village of Calbiga who joined the rally,
said the people should never be afraid to express their disgust over the
Movement since they are on the side of truth.
He recounted how the
rebels dictated them on how to make justifications for the money they take
out of the barangay coffers for the honorarium of the barangay officials so
that it may appear legal when they submit liquidation reports to the
Commission on Audit (COA).
Likewise, he told his
fellow protesters how the NPA rebels butchered a stolen cow after several
leftists groups staged an anti‑government rally at Samar's capital a few
years back. "Sigurado ako nga waray pa kamo kahingalimot hito nga hitabo"
(I'm sure you haven't forgotten this incident yet) he reminded the crowd
in the vernacular.
A barangay captain in one
of Pinabacdao's interior barangay recalled how his family suffered when his
two children got seriously ill while he was in the mountains of Samar with
the rebels fighting with the government forces but he never got any
assistance from them.
"Ngan tungod hini, diri
ako kakapuyon pagpinanumat han mga tawo han panguwat ngan waray pulos nga
mga panaad han mga miyembro han Kagi‑usan"
(And because of this, I'll never get tired of telling the people on the
deceptions and empty promises of the communist rebels), he said.
Pinabacdao Mayor Mario
Quijano expressed his sympathy with the protesters citing their earnest
desire for change. He said that for more than 30 years they have been
exploited by the rebels without improvement in their living conditions are
but natural to get feed up with their promises.
He urged the barangay
officials and the military to "put our act together" so that development
will take place in this town.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen.
Bonifacio Ramos, commanding general of the army's 8th Infantry Division,
assured the people of Pinabacdao that the army will do its best to protect
the people from enemy incursions so that they will be able to live a
peaceful life without fear from the rebels.
Australia launches new education initiative
for Bohol and Northern Samar
By ROLANDO A. INCIONG, AusAID
PASIG CITY, Philippines -
The Australian Government will provide A$3.87 million in grant to a new
project that will assist the Department of Education (DepED) to improve the
quality of education leadership and management and provide basic education
and livelihood opportunities for out of-school youth and their families in
Bohol and Northern Samar.
DepED Officer-in-Charge Fe
Hidalgo and Australian Ambassador Tony Hely will sign today the agreement
for the implementation of Stage I of the Strengthening Implementation of
Visayas Education (STRIVE) Project from October 2005 to February 2007. The
signing ceremony will be held at the DedED Central Office and witnessed by
officials of DepED and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
In Bohol and Northern Samar,
Stage I of STRIVE will assist DepED in improving the quality of education
leadership and management leading to more efficient and effective resource
utilization, and assist the delivery of basic education programs to bring
out-of-school youth back to school and provide them and their parents with
functional literacy and livelihood opportunities.
Ambassador Hely said the
implementation of STRIVE further confirms Australia’s commitment to its
continued strong support to the country’s basic education system through
Australia’s Development Cooperation Program with the Philippines. The
development cooperation program aims to reduce poverty and promote
sustainable and equitable development.
Manobos voluntarily flock
to San Jose de Buan
By Cpt CROMWELL I. DANGANAN, (INF) PA
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan,
Samar - The sleepy town of San Jose de Buan, Samar sprang back to life when
Manobo tribes, indigenous people thriving in one of the barangays of said
town, decided to seek temporary shelter in the town proper.
Contrary to some reports
coming out from militant sectors, the natives said that they voluntarily
left their places of residents to give way to the clearing operations being
done by the military to flush out insurgents seeking shelter in the area.
This is supported by a representative of the National Commission on
Indigenous People (NCIP) who interviewed them.
The Command is cautioning
the public to be vigilant as some of these issues are being used by the CPP/NPA/NDF
to malign the government particularly the men in uniform to advance their
The men and women of the
8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army is here for the eradication of
insurgency to achieve peace and ultimately, development. Cooperation and
unity by all agencies and sectors are needed for the future of Samar.
“KANGAY Summit” indorsed resolution creating
the Samar Island Tourism Council
By IMELDA C. BONIFACIO
September 19, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar - Participants from the local
government units and private sectors of the three provinces of Samar Island
finally indorsed the creation of the Samar Island Tourism Council in the
first-ever held tourism summit on September 5, 2005 at Breadmix Conference
Hall, Calbayog City. It was called “KANGAY”, a native dialect which means
solidarity or unity.
Assessed as a very
successful summit, this was initiated by the Hon. Mayor of Calbayog City who
has presented to the body the “One Island, One People, One Culture” concept.
It was intended to respond to the challenge of putting Samar Island in the
growing national and international tourism market. It is also the desire of
the said council to rebuild the island’s image and strengthen its
competitiveness in attracting foreign visitors, stimulating domestic tourism
and meeting the tourism industry’s development requirements.
“This can only be done by
protecting and preserving the environment, its socio-cultural heritage and
the welfare and rights of Samareños. It is therefore imperative that a
Tourism Council through the Department of Tourism be formally organized and
concerted efforts of all stakeholders be solicited,” Mayor Sarmiento of
Calbayog City further stressed.
In the said summit, the
respective governors of the three provinces were supposed to give a
situationer and explain details of their tourism programs and activities.
However, only representatives were sent eliciting questions as to the
willingness of these governors to really undertake the said project.
particularly from the City of
and Northern Samar were applauded. Samar SP Committee on Tourism chairman
Hon. Sonny B. Salurio, however, failed to deliver a power point
presentation. Mayor Sarmiento expressed optimism that this undertaking will
really push the province to more tourism opportunities. He expressed thanks
to the private sector for explicitly manifesting support to the project.
Meanwhile, Hon. Phineas A.
Alburo, Undersecretary of the Department of Tourism, who acted as the
keynote speaker, assured the Samar Officials of the Department of Tourism’s
support. He commented that Samar really abounds with natural attraction, but
has not come up with concrete and definite programs to attract tourists. He
called on all stakeholders to put their acts together in order to move
forward and develop its tourism industry. He encouraged everyone to think of
one product or a specific image to be locally and internationally
In related developments, Ms.
Karen Tiopes, Region VIII Tourism Director acknowledged the efforts of the
local officials in boosting
Samar’s tourism industry. She considers this undertaking as a
serious matter and fully recognized the role of tourism as a potent vehicle
towards a progressive island.
Other than the workshop
which enabled the group to identify possible tourism strategies, the summit
was further highlighted by the SIBP presentation on Samar Island’s
Bio-diversity. A very entertaining cultural presentation in songs and dances
from the Calbayog’s Sarakiki group was also performed with USec Alburo and
Director Karen Tiopes and more other guests enjoying the Kuratsa dance. Due
to its limited time, the open forum which was previously planned was
dispensed with. The Body finally moved for the approval of the resolution
indorsing the Samar Island Tourism Council. However, the election of the
council’s officers was reset until such time that the attendance of the
governors be assured.
Committee Hearing on SINP House Bill No. 2529
By NIC ARJON, SIBP
September 16, 2005
BORONGAN, SAMAR - Last
September 12, 2005 at Bishop’s residence the Board of Directors of the Samar
Island Council for Sustainable Development (SICSD) held their quarterly
meeting. The primary objective of the Council is to advocate the protection
and preservation of the remaining forest in
Samar Island and to
promote alternative conservation compatible livelihood.
During the meeting, the
final draft of the SICSD Constitution and By-Laws was finally approved and
is ready for registration at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The most pressing issue that the Council perceived during the meeting was
the National program opting to revitalized mining industry around the
country and that is to include Samar island whose bauxite reserved is the
only in the country. According to Don Mabulay, Co-Project Manager of SIBP,
there is a need to remind and make a last appeal to the Secretary of DENR
Michael Defensor regarding the cancellation of the two (2) MPSA’s inside
SINP before resorting to the last option that is to secure legal remedy in
However, the Lower House
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chaired by Hon. Leovigildo B.
Banaag has invited the SICSD President Dr. Jaime F. Sanico and the three (3)
bishops of Samar Island namely; Bishop Jose S. Palma of the Diocese of
Calbayog, Bishop Leonardo Medroso of the Diocese of Borongan and Bishop
Emeritus Angel Hobayan of the Diocese of Catarman to attend the committee
hearing for the SINP House Bill No. 2529 on September 21, 2005 at Ramon V.
Mitra Building, Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City. The three Bishops will be
joined by the SIBP Project Manager Manolito D. Ragub, Co-Project Manager
Jose A. Mabulay Jr., Legal Expert Erwin Ambal and Assistant Communication
Specialist Dixon Bernales to present SIBP/ SINP valuation results,
management plan and other livelihood conservation compatible alternatives
for various stakeholders inside and outside the protected area.
Villar lauds U.S. Court
decision for pedophile to pay restitution to Filipino victims
Philippine News Service
September 16, 2005
Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and
Illegal Drugs, lauds the recent decision of a district court in the United
States (US) to compel a convicted pedophile to pay restitution to his
victims in the Philippines.
decision of a US
court in favor of the Filipino victims of a pedophile based there is really
a welcome development and should be commended. I earlier expressed alarm
over widespread incidents of pedophilia in our country which often involved
foreigner or tourists most of whom were never apprehended and still manage
to come in and out of our country," says Villar, President of the
reported that earlier this week, US District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner
ruled that 61-year-old Edilberto Datan should pay $16,475 to the eight
Filipino teenagers whom he sexually abused while he was on vacation in the
also commends the international humanitarian organization World Vision
particularly its child sex tourism prevention project and the new federal
law in the US called ‘Protect Act’ which is aimed at fighting exploitation
of children abroad.
terrorism, the fight against child abuse and exploitation has gone global.
We should coordinate with international agencies and organizations all over
the world in dealing with pedophiles that victimize children of different
nationalities," cites Villar.
is actively supporting the strict enforcement of anti-pornography laws in
the country particularly Internet-based child pornography. Villar filed
Senate Resolution 297 recently directing the Committee on Youth, Women and
Family Relations to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into
the alarming level of Internet-based child pornography.
According to Villar, "More often than not, criminals who sexually abuse or
exploit children or minors are also engaged in pornography. These two go
hand in hand and should be dealt with together." The US pedophile who was
charged also pleaded guilty of producing child pornography materials outside
also filed Senate Resolution 303 that aims to assess the role and capability
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies
in addressing the alarming proliferation of cybersex in the country.
Villar’s committee, together with the Committee on Public Information and
Mass Media chaired by Senator Bong Revilla conducted a public hearing on the
issue of cybersex last month.