Villar wants separate budget
allocation for bird flu
Press Release by
November 18, 2005
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance,
shares the alarm raised over the possible entry of the avian influenza virus
or the so-called ‘bird flu’ into the Philippines, thus he aims to transfer
some funds from the budget of the Department of Health (DoH) for bird flu
"No less than the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed alarm over
the fast increasing number of people in
who have been killed and infected by a strain of bird flu. And our Health
Department also said that ‘it’s only a matter of time’ before bird flu
reaches our country. So there is a clear and urgent need to allocate funds
for it," cites Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party.
Villar further cites, "We should not be caught off-guard about something
that is deadly. We should take all necessary precautions. I subscribe to the
belief that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. I would
discuss with health officials how much is needed for bird flu preparation
Members of the poultry industry have already estimated that around $20
million to $30 million would be needed to prepare for the possible entry or
outbreak of the bird flu virus in the country. Among member-countries of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, only three have so far
remained not affected by bird flu. These are the Philippines, Brunei and
"We are not being alarmists. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We should
ensure the protection of Filipinos from bird flu if and when it gets here.
We will make sure that there is an allocation in the budget for it. Right
now, under the proposed budget of DoH, there is nothing for bird flu," adds
Under the proposed P9.98-billion budget of DoH for next year, there are
earmarked funds for the prevention and control of diseases such as malaria,
tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, but nothing yet for bird flu.
"If there is a specified budget for the bird flu already, we can even
seriously consider locally producing possible anti-bird flu drug or
medications or perhaps subsidize its production. But first we need to
allocate funds for bird flu preparation," says Villar.
Rep. Figueroa files 6
education-related bills for House appropriations
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
November 17, 2005
CATBALOGAN, Samar –
Representative Catalino V. Figueroa of the second district of Samar has
submitted at least 6 education related bills that would benefited his
constituents if appropriations or funding be approved by the House of
Representatives, it was learned today.
These bills, he said, which
focused on the establishments or conversion of the national high schools as
well as that of repairs and or renovation of several school infrastructures
have already passed last week on the “scrutiny” of the House members,
particularly the Committee on Basic education and Culture.
According to Rep. Figueroa,
the bills which he submitted earlier have been referred now to the House
Committee on Appropriation for its “approval.”
“(The) establishment of
schools and renovations need corresponding budgets as specified in my bills,
hence, the need for the approval (of the latter committee),” Figueroa said
Rep. Figueroa, who was a
vice-chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, assured that his
bills will also pass the “deliberations” of his own committee to realize the
respective intentions of said bills in Samar second district.
It was learned that Rep.
Figueroa, having been a former teacher and an advocate of the good education
for the youth, has given priority (among other priority projects) to such
bills that will give the youths equal share of quality and efficient
To recall, Figueroa has made
representations in the Department of Education (DepEd) for a balanced and
additional allocation for the district's schools. Earlier, his constituents
in his district hailed him when he distributed a number of computers to
almost all schools here.
“I believe in the cliché
that the youth is the future and hope of our nation that is why I give
importance to good education as a tool in sealing the good fate of our
country for the generations to come,” the solon stressed.
Meanwhile, the house bills
that have already passed the Committee on Appropriations and their
respective committee reports are now being readied for the second and third
readings in the plenary are the following:
House Bill 2503 (Conversion
of the Osmeña National High School into Osmeña Agro-Industrial High School
in Marabut), House Bill 2506 (Conversion of the Calapi National High School
into Calapi National Agricultural High School in Motiong), House Bill 3151
(Establishment of the Catbalogan National Comprehensive High School), House
Bill 3153 (Conversion of the Magdawat Primary School into Magdawat
Elementary School in Pinabacdao), House Bill 3211 (Establishment of the
Silanga National High School in Catbalogan), and House Bill 3406
(Establishment of the Zumarraga National High School).
“As representative of the
second district of Samar, I will work very hard so that my local house
bills, particularly those regarding education, will be approved for the
benefit of our people,” the solon disclosed.
E-VAT: Devastating for growing number of hungry farmers - SAGUPA
Press Release by
November 16, 2005
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Our country is once again
facing another miserable plight of economic sabotage which contributes to
more people wallowing in poverty. The implementation of Expanded-Value Added
Tax (E-VAT) defies man-made rules and human dignity since it hits most the
poor herds of masses.
The Supreme Court has
finally ended the temporary restraining order (TRO) of the Expanded-Value
Added Tax Law of 2005 (E-VAT Law) last October 18, 2005 paving the way for
its effectivity since November 1, 2005. Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
claimed that E-VAT is a progressive tax since this will create more jobs and
its implementation will help in the government’s budget deficit and will
outdo our debt crisis.
However, the militant
peasant group, Samahan han Gudti nga Parag- uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-
SB) thinks otherwise. “The implementation of additional tax measure will
affect more the end consumers especially the poor and the marginalized
peasants. They are the most affected and the most beaten sector and they
already have been in the tar pits of poverty. The EVAT will further
aggravate economic dislocation due to budget deficits. Their weeping in
budget shortfalls is bottomed at bearing the brunt of high cost of
production and farm inputs with the plummeting of agricultural outputs and
depressing farmgate prices. Their average daily income is just pegged at
about P23.80 which is impossible for them to obtain a decent human living
compared to the daily cost of living for a family of six which is at P594.00
(NSO). It is absurdity and just adding fuel to the fire to implement the
E-VAT”, lamented Lito R. Gacusana, Secretary General of SAGUPA-SB.
IBON Foundation, Inc., EVAT is expected to result in higher prices, since it
lifts VAT exemptions on a wide variety of products and services, including
oil, power, coal and natural gas, domestic air and transport services and
medical and legal services.
There will be 10% VAT for
oil and energy sectors including the air and sea transports. The price of
petroleum gas will increase up to P40.00/liter, P35.50/liter for unleaded
gasoline and P32.85/liter for crude oil. This means that there is
significant increase of P2.85/liter of ordinary gasoline, P3.40/liter of
unleaded and P0.90/kilo of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Similarly, the
Consumer and Oil Price Watch said that upon implementation of E-VAT, there
will be 8%-12% price increase in basic commodities and social services. The
constant price hikes are due to the transport cost in which the burden of
the regressive tax will be charged upon consumers regardless of income and
the capacity to pay taxes.
“E-VAT will also increase
records of corruption and abuse among government officials. For the time
being, this will also result to crisis in energy and economic bankruptcy
especially to the small business enterprise and among other sectors since it
will eventually result to passing on to them the burden of the
transportation costs. A wave of unabated upsurge of prices of basic
commodities and worsening social services will be more felt. The burden of
taxation will even more contribute to our endless sufferings and coming out
of the mire of poverty will be impossible to realize. We fall short of
decent living income as we face recent fiscal crisis”, Gacusana said.
Based on the data of
National Tax Center, P41.6 B per year has not been collected under VAT by
which the efficiency rate of the Philippines in tax collection has only
reached 38%, below par compared to other Asian countries. In addition, the
estimated collection amounting to P82 B per year is expected to be used for
the government’s heavy debt servicing estimated at P3.93 trillion as of July
2005. This means that for every P100 budget, P33.20 is allotted to paying
heavy public debts. Part of it end up at the government’s coffers and Mrs.
Arroyo was the one who has been allegedly plundered and used the money in
rigging 2004 election polls.
“The myriads of homeless
Filipino families can be seen in street corners and in potential spaces
where they can have their bodies rested. Some of them even missed meals and
nothing to fill in their empty stomachs. There is that outpouring of
millions of unemployed Filipinos, deluge of domestic workers and the
escalation of flesh trades. These seem to be the grievous signs of poverty
in which 80% are living below the poverty line. The poor will become poorer
and the weak will become weaker. After long arduous years of under
development, our economy is still struggling and unfortunately will remain
as it is. Poverty becomes worst. It is more impossible for these people to
trek back to a typical way of life. And we are not afraid to speak out our
minds. Nor are we afraid to reason out and to fight injustices and condemn
anti-people policies of this decadent and corruption-ridden government!”,
SAGUPA-SB strongly opposes
the lifting of Logging Moratorium in Samar island
Press Release by
November 7, 2005
TACLOBAN CITY - DENR
Secretary Michael Defensor has issued an order dated August 15, 2005,
lifting the moratorium order of the Timber License Agreement (TLA) of San
Jose Timber Corporation thereby allowing it to operate and resume logging
activities in Samar island particularly in the municipalities of Las Navas,
Paranas, San Jose de Buan, Maslog and Jipapad. Samahan han Gudti nga
Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) politically dissents the lifting
of the moratorium order.
As per records, San Jose
Timber Corporations (SJTC) was issued the logging concession TLA No. 118
covering 95,770 hectares in 1972 which was set to expire on June 30, 2007
but was extended for another 16 years to account for the period of the
moratorium. Prior to this, former DENR Secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr. has
issued a moratorium order dated February 8, 1989 which cited that there is a
need to re-assess and evaluate the existing forest resources and the rate of
forest denudation. A comprehensive study is necessary to conduct extensive
biophysical studies on the remaining forests and sustainable rate of forest
extraction. And now, the SJTC wants to take back their longed cravings as
for another wave of virtual turmoil to Samareños.
Based on the valuation made
by the Samar Island Biodiversity Study (SAMBIO), it is estimated that
Samar’s resources is valued at US$43.5 billion in 25 years with a net
present value of US$12.45 billion, of which a large part is included in
SJTC’s logging scope. About 90% of the upland residents are generally
dependent on its forest and biodiversity resources for their daily
sustenance. It is in this regard that Samareños have constantly voiced their
opposition towards any threat to their life support systems.
“We strongly denounce the
resumption of the logging operation of SJTC because this will affect both
upland and lowland peasant communities which solely depend their survival on
forest resources. In this truly impoverished region, the destruction of
forest resources and the unabated logging operations would only add insult
to injury. Majority of the populace are peasants, suffering from the
century- old problems of landlessness, usury, depressed prices of farm
produce, high cost of production, among others. Resources provided by the
forests not to mention the bounty of water sources provided by our trees are
the only life- support system that we have. Our fertile plains are irrigated
by the waters provided by our forests; non- timber forest resources like
rubber, rattan, orchids, etcetera provide additional livelihood sources.
Taking it all away would mean death for the Samareños”, commented Lito R.
Gacusana, Secretary General of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan
“Besides, aside from fearing
the loss of our livelihood support- systems and sources, we fear the
escalation once again of human rights violations. What is the ultimate
intention behind the strategically posting of the Reengineered Special
Operation Team (RSOT) in several towns covered by the logging operation like
Las Navas, Maslog and Paranas areas where there is intensified combat
operations? It is clearly shown that escalating militarization all the more
pave the way to provide greater access to conduct massive and large-scale
logging activities in the area. We have a history of resistance met by force
and some of the bruises and wounds we sustained in the wave of killings and
abductions in Samar are reminiscent of the state’s outright use of violence
to curb dissent and opposition to issues like logging,” added Gacusana.
According to the reports
gathered by SAGUPA-SB, the decline of the country’s forestland and its
resources has drastically reached its crucial stage. This is due to the
widespread legitimization of unabated logging activities and massive forest
extraction. These silently but apparently crept in to its own pace which
eventually contributed to the rapacious destruction of forest as the primary
causes of the countless catastrophic floods and landslides which are
consummated in the deaths and substantial loss of human lives and
Paranas residents rally against communism
By Cpt. CROMWELL I.
DANGANAN, (INF) PA
November 3, 2005
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan,
Samar – After decades of fear, threats, and manipulation by the CPP/NPA/NDF,
more or less 2,000 residents of Paranas, Samar enthusiastically supported
the government’s peace efforts and held a Peace Rally denouncing communism
in the locality.
The rally is the culminating
event of a Three-Day Peace and Development Forum which started last October
28, 2005 in Paranas, Samar which was attended by barangay chairmen, barangay
kagawads, barangay treasurer/secretary, Tanod chiefs, BHW, SK officials,
Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) Presidents and rebel returnees (RRs)
of the said municipality. Its objective is to unite the people and make them
realize that the problem of insurgency is everybody’s concern. This is a
result of the people’s resolve that genuine peace is needed to achieve
The participants have
undergone series of lectures like values formation, benefits of RRs, history
of communism, ills of communism and other related topics to better
understand the intricacies of insurgency. Workshop on Barangay Development
Plan as well as Barangay Defense System highlighted the said seminar.
Resource speakers from DOLE, DSWD, DILG, BIR and the Paranas Municipal
treasurer also imparted services of their respective shops as well as the
duties and responsibilities of every citizen.
Housing and logistics were
jointly provided by LGU-Paranas, concerned citizens and organizations and
the Philippine Army.
The Peace Rally was followed
by the Induction of Officers of Alliance of Concerned Students Against
Terrorism (ACSAT) and Bantay Bayan (BB) of Paranas, Samar on the nightcap
graced by BGen Roberto C. Ver, Commanding General of the 801st Infantry
Division, Philippines Army, the Guest of Honor and Speaker. It signified the
stronger ties between the government and the local populace in its fight
against the terrorism of the CPP/NPA/NDF.
In this message, Gen. Ver
lauded the officers of the two organizations for having the courage to unite
and help the government eliminate the insurgency problem in the area. He
encouraged the agencies present particularly Mayor Elvira Babalcon of
Paranas, Samar to support the programs of the two organizations as it will
open opportunities for the development of the entire community.
Inducted were officers of
ACSAT (Wright NHS Chapter, SSU-PC Chapter, Casandig NHS Cahpater, Lawaan NHS
Chapter and Paranas Chapter) and Paranasnon Laban sa Kriminalidad at
Terorismo (PALAKAT), a Bantay Bayan of Paranas, Samar Chapter which were
inducted by Vice Mayor Leovigildo Dasig, Mayor Elvira Babalcon and BGen
Roberto C. Ver, respectively.
Others who attended were
provincial and local officials, media personalities, local populace and
AHRC held discussions on
torture in Manila
By RAY P. GASPAY
November 1, 2005
Samar - A small group of
human rights defenders in the country discussed torture in a 3-day workshop
from October 26-28, 2005 held at the
UCCP Shalom Center
Basil Fernando, executive director of the
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based regional human
rights organization, was in
Manila together with his
staff and meet representatives from various human rights NGOs in the country
for the 3-day discussion on the human rights violation situation
particularly torture in the country.
Unknowingly, torture in the country mostly
committed by the agents of the government is widespread according to reports
by the human rights groups. The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
reported that in the Arroyo Administration 95 cases of torture involving 201
torture victims were documented by their office from January 2001 to August
2005 throughout the country, the Philippine Army being the highest
perpetrator. Of these, 123 victims of torture were recorded in
Mindanao, 50 victims in
Luzon and 28 in the Visayas.
In Eastern Visayas, the
Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR-EV) reported that 31 cases of
torture involving 32 individuals allegedly perpetrated by the military were
documented by their group from February 10, 2005 to August 4, 2005, the time
when MajGen. Jovito Palparan was Commanding General of the 8th Infantry
Division, Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas.
The AHRC in its concept
paper stated that “the Philippine government prohibits the use of torture as
stipulated in the 1987 constitution. It is also a state party to the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (CAT), but the government’s failure to criminalize the
practice of torture has virtually shielded the police, military and other
public officials from prosecution for ordering or torturing others, thus
creating an environment of impunity. Although the government’s law
enforcement agencies have denied the practice of torture by their ranks,
reality in the country suggests otherwise.”
The workshop seek to
criminalize torture in the country.
“There is no law yet against
torture in the Philippines. Torture can result to corruption,
impunity and a collapse of the rule of law thus should be urgently
addressed” stressed AHRC executive director Basil Fernando.
"Actually, the bill
against torture was first filed in congress since the 8th Congress and every
Congress thereafter, but unfortunately not a single bill was passed
into law,” says AKBAYAN Representative Mario Joyo Aguja. “We are now in the
13th Congress and the present administration is still reluctant in passing
anti-torture bill into law,” Aguja added.
House Bill 4307 known as
“Anti-Torture Act of 2005” introduced by AKBAYAN! party-list representatives
Loretta Rosales, Mario Joyo Aguja and Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel filed
on May 11, 2005 is still pending with the Committee on Justice in congress.
Senate Bill 350 entitled An
Act Penalizing the Commission of Acts of Torture and for Other Purposes
introduced by Senator Serge Osmeña filed on June 30, 2004 is also pending in
the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the Senate.
anti-torture bill, Senate Bill 2099 entitled An Act Penalizing the
Commission of Acts of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Treatment or Punishments, and Providing for a Rehabilitation Program for
Victims introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed on August 24,
2005 has also been referred and pending in the Committee on Justice and
Human Rights in the Senate.
“One argument put forward by
some law enforcement agencies and public officials regarding their concern
if torture is criminalized, is that the police and military and other
investigating agencies will have difficulty investigating cases. Forced
confessions obtained from suspects through the use of torture, instead of
investigations with the aid of scientific methods of gathering evidence,
remain the usual practice by law enforcers. The law enforcement agency’s
inability and lack of skills to perform an effective investigation is the
major factor that has led them to employ torture as a so-called means of
investigation,” the AHRC document further said.