AHRC urges for an impartial
investigation on the killing of 8 farmers in Leyte
By RAY P. GASPAY
November 23, 2005
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based regional human
rights organization, calls today in a globally circulated email of urgent
appeal to human rights defenders for an intervention in asking the
Philippine government, in particular the Ombudsman for Military and the
Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent and impartial
investigation without delay into the killings of 8 agrarian reform farmer
beneficiaries perpetrated by the elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion,
8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Brgy.
San Agustin, Palo, Leyte in the early morning of Monday, November 21, 2005.
It was reported that farmers
belonging to the San Agustin Farmer Beneficiaries Association (SAFBA)
together with some members of Bayan Muna Partylist were about to do their 'balik-uma'
or positioning on the land awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR) based on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), when
elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Adrian
Benedicto suddenly opened fire on the farmers at the place where at least 46
people were staying.
It that incident the farmers
were joined by members of the Bayan Muna, a party list organization. It was
the Bayan Muna members who had been helping the farmers in the follow up of
their papers in this particular land dispute until the land was awarded to
them, according to the account of some survivors.
Initial report said that 7
people died on the spot but one of the wounded died at the hospital while
being treated. Several wounded victims who suffered gunshot and shrapnel
wounds were admitted at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC)
in Tacloban City for medical treatment.
Seven of those killed were
identified as Bernabe Borra Jr. y Barbosa of Brgy. Teraza, Palo, Leyte; Eric
Nogal y Selada; Roel Obijas y Lacaba; Perlito Borra; Gerry Almerino of Brgy
Capirawan, Palo, Leyte; Eufemia Borra y Barbosa of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo,
Leyte; and Alma Bartoline. Bartoline was seven months pregnant at the time
of her death.
Eleven from the wounded
victims of the incident where identified as Ramy Cumpio (organizer of Bayan
Muna partylist), Mark Pansa/Monsa, Ferdinand Montanejos, Bernabe Borra Sr.,
Ranilo Orseda, Berlito Barbosa y Borra, Ismael Regato, Cora Bernabe, Richard
Cornesta y Margallo, Christopher Bayase, and Ariel Timbo Capatoy.
It was also reported that
eight persons have been arrested and detained by the military and police in
Palo, Leyte. They were identified as Marivic Macawile, secretary-general of
KADAMAY and organizer of Bayan Muna, a resident of Brgy. Utap, Tacloban
City; Joselito Tobe, secretary-general of Concerned Citizen's for Justice
and Peace (CCJP-Metro Tacloban) and Bayan Muna, a resident of Brgy. Cabuynan,
Tanauan, Leyte; Arnel
Dizon y Margallo; Mariel Obijas y Dizon, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin,
Palo, Leyte; Eulogio Pilapil, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo,
Leyte; Artemio Amante, a resident of Brgy. Capirawan, Palo,
Leyte; Baltazar Mardo, a
resident of Brgy. Salvacion, Alang-alang,
Leyte; and Bernardo Lantajo, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin,
Human rights organizations
in Eastern Visayas claimed that the incident was a pure massacre by the
military of innocent farmers occupying the area suspected to be members of
the New People’s Army.
The military however claimed
that the incident was an encounter. Military report said that it was a
legitimate operation by the elements of the 19th IB after they
received report from the civilian populace regarding the presence of armed
group conducting a meeting in Barangay San Agustin. Maj. Lope Dagoy,
commanding officer of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga,
Leyte immediately dispatched a platoon of soldiers to conduct operations in
the place where the armed group was located. The report said that the armed
group, upon sensing the presence of the soldiers, fired the first shot that
prompted the soldiers to fire back, which resulted to the killing of 8
persons believed to be members of the New People’s Army.
The military had in the past
accused the party list organization Bayan Muna and its members as being
sympathizers and combatants of the New Peoples Army. Gen. Jovito Palparan,
the former commander of the 8th Infantry Division, has labeled the
progressive party-list as a 'recruitment agency of the NPAs' during his term
as commanding general.
8ID scores again in Leyte
By Cpt. CROMWELL I. DANGANAN, (INF) PA
CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan,
Samar – On November 21, 2005 at around 5:30 a.m. one (1) platoon from 19IB
under Maj. Lope Dagoy, responding on a report from the civilian populace
regarding the presence of an armed group in the area, encountered an
estimated 40 Communist Terrorists (CTs) at vicinity Brgy San Agustin, Palo,
Leyte. The encounter started when the troops were fired upon by the
suspected CTs which lasted 45 minutes and resulted to the recovery of one
M16 rifle with SN 394675, one Carbine rifle with SN 482456, two shotguns,
two Cal .38 revolvers, two Motorola handheld radios, one camera, two medical
kits, and subversive documents with high intelligence value. Ten CTs were
killed, nine were wounded and eight were captured including one minor. Also
recovered from the scene of the encounter were eight rounds empty shells for
M14, six rounds empty shells for M16 and 19 rounds empty shells for carbine
rifle. No government troops were injured.
Photo shows LtGen. Teodosio, Commander AFP Central Command, MajGen.
Ramos, 8ID Commanding General and Col. Fernando, 802nd Brigade
Commanding Officer, along with the recovered firearms and equipment.
The encounter is a result of
the reports made by the local residents thereat complaining about the
extortion and harassment acts of the CTs in their areas. These are also in
confirmation of the information volunteered by the NPA surrenderees who are
cooperating well with the government authorities as they are already fed up
of the broken promises of good life as promised by CPP/NPA leaders.
This information is a clear
manifestation that the Philippine Army has the support of the people
contrary to the claims of the CTs. With this development, the troops are now
closing in on the different havens of the CTs so they could not continue
with their extortion and terroristic acts.
There was no violation of
the Rules of Engagement as the troops arrived at the area at around 3:00
a.m. and immediately noticed armed elements among the group but hesitated to
fire due to the possible presence of civilians. At around 5:30 a.m., as the
troops were slowly creeping towards the location of the armed group, they
were fired upon by the latter causing the firefight which lasted 45 minutes.
After the firefight, the troops identified the wounded and immediately
rushed them to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Initially there
were nine fatalities but one of the wounded expired at the hospital.
Maj. Gen. Bonifacio B.
Ramos, the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division is expecting more
engagements with the CTs as he directed all subordinate units to conduct
continuous operations against the CPP/ NPA in order to protect the civilian
populace from their terroristic acts.
On the other hand, General
Ramos is calling all CPP/NPA members to bring down their firearms, return to
the folds of the law and live a peaceful life.
[see related news]
On the predicted collapse of local
healthcare system due to the exodus of medical professionals…
Villar: Let’s look for solutions
By Philippine News Service
Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, says that
since the problem brought about by the so-called ‘brain drain’ in the
medical profession has been brought to everyone’s attention long time back,
its time for concerned agencies or authorities put their heads together in
looking for a plausible solution once and for all.
“All of us have been talking about the problem of ‘brain drain’ not only in
the medical field, but in other profession as well. Talking endlessly about
the problem will not solve it. I think it’s high time for concerned
individuals or agencies to look for possible solutions to the forecasted
crisis in the medical sector,” says Villar, President of the Nacionalista
Both the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Alliance of Health
Workers have expressed alarm over the exodus of Filipino nurses and doctors.
So much so that the two groups predict that the country’s healthcare system
would collapse in the next few years.
Based on a study by former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan, some 100,000
nurses have left the
to work abroad since 1994, half of which left the country in the last five
Some 50,000 left in the last five years, but nursing schools, which have
mushroomed in recent years, have only managed to produce 33,370 nurses over
the same period. Moreover, the study pointed out the recent trend of doctors
working as nurses abroad. It cited that more than 3,500 doctors have left
the country as nurses since 2000 and around 4,000 doctors are enrolled in
nursing schools this year.
According to Villar, “More than the exodus of Filipino doctors and nurses,
what is alarming and sad is the fact that more and more doctors are opting
to work as nurses abroad. And nurses are also known to take up care-giving
jobs abroad. That is really a big cause for concern.”
Some of the reasons cited by the medical professionals in opting to work
abroad are low salaries, political instability, poor working environment and
in general to seek the proverbial greener pastures to improve the living
conditions of their children or family.
“At the end of the day, it all boils down to low salaries and we cannot
fault them for looking for better opportunities outside of our country. It’s
a fact that private and public hospitals cannot offer salaries at par or
even close to what hospitals abroad are offering our doctors and nurses. Its
good that in the proposed 2006 national budget, there is already a provision
to increase salaries of nurses,” cites Villar.
Villar filed Senate Resolution 1835 that seeks for an increase in the salary
of government doctors by raising the minimum basic pay of physicians to at
least Salary Grade 23 or a 30% pay increase. He also filed for a separate
bill proposing for the increase in salaries of barangay health workers.
43rd Infantry (SEARCHERS)
Battalion scores! 16 firearms recovered, 6 NPAs captured, one killed
LORIELYN P. CASEM (SC) PA
SOGOD, Southern Leyte
All Soul’s day encounter between the Evelyn Dublin Command (EDC) and the
43rd Infantry Battalion (43IB) almost decimated the Communist Terrorist (CT)
group in the 5th District of Leyte.
LtC. Farnacio presented the recovered war materials during and after the
encounter with the rebel returnees/captured to MGen. Bonifacio B. Ramos
AFP, CG, 8ID, PA.
In his report to MGen.
Bonifacio B. Ramos (Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine
Army) and Col. Pedro D. Fernando (Commanding Officer of 802nd Infantry
Brigade, 8ID, PA), LtC. Raul M. Farnacio, Commanding Officer of the 43rd
Infantry Battalion, 8ID, PA, disclosed that at about 11:20 in the morning of
November 2, his troops encountered more or less twenty (20) fully armed CTs
at vicinity Bgy. Maslog, Baybay, Leyte. Firefight lasted for about 30
minutes inflicting undetermined casualties on the enemy side while one was
slightly wounded from the government troops.
The encounter yielded to the
recovery of one (1) claymore mine, one (1) US Cal .22 rifle, one (1) Cal .45
pistol, one (1) rifle grenade, two (2) ICOM radios, M16 magazines and
ammunitions, two (2) cellular phones, medical equipment and subversive
documents with high intelligence value. A day later, while in pursuit of the
enemy, government troops apprehended two (2) CT Members; one (1) believed to
be a squad leader of the CT armed group and simultaneously recovered two (2)
high powered M16 rifles, five (5) magazines and a sniper’s scope.
Three days after the
encounter, the government troops discovered seven (7) homemade shotguns
wrapped in a sack at the vicinity of the CTs’ temporary encampment. Then on
November 8, troops recovered a dead body that was identified as CT member
Maricris Lina alias Kaying who was reportedly wounded during the encounter.
It was learned that alias Kaying was left crying for help to her group but
they fled and ran for their lives. She was 14 years old when recruited and
17 when she died - a clear manifestation of the CPP/NPA’s recruitment of
minors which is a gross violation of Human Rights.
As the pursuit operations
continued, the troops recovered another three high powered M16 rifles and
two homemade shotguns near the vicinity where the encounter occurred. It was
believed that the recovered firearms were kept by the fleeing CTs during
their escape after the encounter.
In an interview with the
surrendered CTs, they revealed that the barangay populace no longer provides
them any support that most of the time they opt to steal root crops and ripe
bananas for survival. They added that there are now only 18 remaining
members left in their group that most of them are thinking of returning to
the government’s fold due to the broken promises made by their leaders.
With these new developments,
LtC. Farnacio encouraged the civilian populace to continue supporting the
Philippine Army in its fight to finally put an end to the CTs as evidenced
by the firefight on All Soul’s day that almost decimated the remaining
members of Evelyn Dublin Command (EDC). He said that the information given
by the civilian populace was an essential element in tracking down the CTs
anywhere they hide. He further urged the barangay folks to continue
rejecting the armed group and denying them of any support. These, he said,
will lead to the complete neutralization of the CPP/NPA members in a matter
MGen. Ramos has these to say
to the armed group, “Maricris died because of your recruitment, she could
have finished her studies and have a good future. The government offers you
a new life, your Army in
Southern Leyte and 5th District of Leyte welcomes you, lay down your arms
and surrender for good. Let us work together for unity and peace.”
Health authorities say
government is better prepared vs. Bird Flu
By ELI C. DALUMPINES,
Provincial health authorities discusses with the local media on the Bird
Flu phenomenon during a televised media forum held at Summer’s Pensionne
House in Catbalogan, Samar.
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Though the country may not
remain bird flu-free, health authorities here claimed that the government,
particularly the Department of Health (DOH), is better prepared this time to
take preventive measures against the much-dreaded avian influenza.
Provincial Health Officer (PHO)
Dulce Cernal said that if the health department was able to properly handle
the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak a few years back, much
more so now when it has in place well-organized plans and strategies to
prevent or contain the bird flu pandemic which hit neighboring countries in
Asia and is expected to enter Philippine territory.
Dr. Cernal said the
provincial health office has already organized the Provincial Epidemiology
and Surveillance Unit (PESU) to monitor reported cases of bird flu infection
and to provide immediate response in case of an outbreak.
Among the preventive
measures the PHO will undertake, Cernal informed, is the conduct of
information campaigns to educate people how to detect birds infected with
avian influenza and to avoid contamination with the virus.
The provincial health chief
said she would be calling the agencies that will compose the Provincial
Avian Influenza Task Force (PAITF) so that plans will be laid out in the
conduct of the information campaign.
Executive Order No. 280
signed in February of last year, which was passed to provide response to the
raging bird flu pandemic that threatened Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand,
designated the health secretary as the over-all crisis manager. At the
provincial level, the provincial health officers are expected to take the
Dr. Sheila Tante underscored the importance of media in informing the public
about bird flu. She said since the mortality rate of those infected with the
AI virus is relatively high (mortality rate is as high as 58%), what media can
do is to promote public awareness so that contamination with AI virus could
Dr. Tante raised
apprehensions that the virus may have already entered the country through
migratory birds that pass through the archipelago from the Northern
Hemisphere at the onset of winter, although no cases have been detected yet.
In line with this, Dr. Tante
warned the public to be vigilant and report immediately to health
authorities cases of deaths of poultry fowls and not to touch their carcasses
to avoid contamination.
Reported death due to bird
flu since January of last year have already reached 62. The greatest number
of bird flu cases have been detected in Vietnam although there are also
cases of infection in
Cambodia and Indonesia.
2 Samar solons prioritizes
rehabilitation of Maharlika highways in Samar
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Tired of
the voluminous complaints from the commuters passing the bedraggled Maharlika Highways in this province, the two representatives of this battled
province has acted making the construction and renovation of this
“talk-of-the-town” road as their “most priority” among their projects.
In the second district, Rep.
Catalino “Cata” V. Figueroa (Nationalista Party) told reporters here on
Tuesday that budgets for this project undertaken by the Department of Public
Works and Highways (DPWH) has already been approved and that the bidding
will start soon this month.
After the “total”
rehabilitation of the San Juanico-Calbiga road section, his congressional
office is now prioritizing the Calbiga-Catbalogan road project under package
4. The budget for this project reached to P1.4 billion, it was learned.
“The scheduled bidding of
this project will be on November 23, this year,” Figueroa said assuring that
it cannot be postponed anymore due to the “immediateness” of the project.
Figueroa said, he and his
colleague Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Liberal Party) of the first district are doing
their best to repair these roads that have been causing headaches to
“These scenarios often
discouraged potential investors and tourists to visit our place because of
the dilapidated roads,” he said.
He said Congressman Uy has
scheduled the bidding of the Catbalogan-Calbayog (Package 3), and
Calbayog-Allen (package 2) on November 21, also this year.
“We are really doing our
best, uniting our minds though were came from different political parties
just to make sure that our constituents be satisfied with their decision of
electing us into office,” Figueroa said.
The solon also assailed the
provincial leadership of Gov. Milagrosa Tan for allegedly not doing “best”
in the interests of the Samareños. “As we all know, she has done nothing to
our province. She has even done nothing to our provincial hospital, and our
patients (reportedly) just dying there,” he said in his pitch voice.
Meanwhile, DPWH Samar
District Engineer Pablo Aragon informed that the on-going projects of the
DPWH as endorsed by Rep. Figueroa amounted to P26 million including the
constructions of several farm-to-market roads, covered courts, legislative
and government offices buildings, and other major infrastructures in the
Records obtained at the
congressional office of Figueroa revealed that the solon allotted some P1.5
million each in every covered court in the municipalities of Villarreal,
Daram, Catbalogan, San Sebastian, Jiabong, Zumarraga, Calbiga, Basey,
Paranas and Talalora.
The Samar solon also gave
budgets for the construction of legislative building in Motiong, executive
building in San Jose de Buan and government offices in Zumarraga towns. The
farm-to-markets roads Cambayan and Tinaugan in Basey; San Vicente and
Palanyugon, Catbalogan; and the construction and rehabilitation of New
Minarog-Maypangi-Candumacol-Bunga road section in Motiong were also given
“I included farm-to-markets
roads in my priority projects because I believe that with this roads, it
will be easy for our farmers to bring their farm products to the nearest
highways or poblacion to trade their products. That way, we can help the
poorest among the poor,” Figueroa disclosed.