“Cata” Figueroa (Samar, 2nd-district) of the Nationalist Party who serially
announced his bid for re-election, also endorsed his wife, the incumbent
Zumarraga town mayor Neliptha M. Figueroa (Nationalist Party), who in turn
did not opposed, as the next governor come next year’s election.
Mayor Figueroa, it was
learned, was the incumbent president of the Samar Mayor’s League and
concurrently the regional president of the Mayor’s League of the Philippines
for Eastern Visayas, vice-president of the Lady Mayor’s League in the whole
Visayas, and the chairman in one of the committee’s – Committee on Trade and
Industry – of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. of the House of
In an interview, Rep.
Figueroa said he has with them to complete the lined-up incumbent
representative Dr. Reynaldo S. Uy (Samar–1st district), incumbent mayor Mel
Senen Sarmiento (Calbayog, the only city in this province), the “Solid Magic
Eight” mayors in the second district who, as of the moment, he refused to
divulged the names yet, and an “avalanche” of provincial board members, whom
he said, “bolted” from the provincial chief leadership.
“Feed-up over present poor governance”
Last March 4, while
addressing the more or less 300 community leaders of the different
organizations comprising the KALICAS (Katig-uban Han Mga Lideres Ug
Community Associations Han Samar) in the province that commemorated their
3rd year anniversary, both the Figueroa couple reiterated their (and their
party-member) dismay over the “poor governance” and “political priorities”
of Governor Milagrosa Tan.
“I challenge you all the
leaders to be more responsive to the calls for good governance,” Rep.
Figueroa in a high-pitched tone told the community leaders in a jammed
packed Conference Hall of the SSU-Mercedes Campus in Brgy. Mercedes, here.
He added: “You should be
more participative in the social issues especially in choosing government
officials to ensure that the basic needs of the people be effectively
The occasion, which also
served as “reunion” of the provincial leaders and community organizers,
became more hushed when the solon began exposing and lambasting the
“maladministration” of the present governor, which he said, making the lives
of the Samareños more “miserable and depressing.”
On the other hand, his wife
Neliptha narrated her achievements in her municipality which she said, she
can also do the same (infra developments) in the whole Samar province, the
reason why she was compelled to gave positive response to the “calling”- to
run as governor in next year’s election.
“I will not just walk or jog
either, but I will really run,” the lady mayor jokingly answered when asked
her plan on the possibility to run for a higher provincial seat in the 2007
It was noticeable that mayor
Neliptha, earlier, became more vocal on criticizing the kind Governor Tan
handled her administration and seemed to be ready to face Tan in the next
election’s hoping to win the support of the Mayor’s League and the general
public as voters.
Meanwhile, aside from
induction of the new set of officers and members of KALICAS, its political
arm – the KaPUSO was also launched in last March 4 anniversary celebration.
An open letter disseminated
by the KALICAS informed that KaPUSO will pursue its fight for a more
transparent political agenda, corrupt-free bureaucracy, clean and honest
elections and an empowered citizenry.
Hawaii’s Aloha medical
mission arrives in St. Bernard
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA8)
March 16, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – The St.
Bernard Tragedy continues to draw attention and concern of generous and
benevolent people from all over the world.
The 18-man Aloha Medical
Mission team from
Hawaii arrived on Wednesday (March 15) in order to show their
concern to the victims of the St. Bernard tragedy through a disaster relief
and medical mission.
In an interview with the
Philippine Over-all Coordinator, Dr. Robert Sy who is the deputy director of
the Chinese General Hospital in Manila, he said that the mission brought
$12,000 worth of medicines which will be used in the disaster relief and
medical mission at St. Bernard,
Southern Leyte from
March 15 to 22, 2006.
On their way to St. Bernard
this day, Dr. Sy said that they will drop by the Sogod District Hospital to
see the facilities and determine whether they can perform major surgery
there. He added that while in St. Bernard, the team will perform medical
mission in five barangays and perform minor surgery at the Rural Health Unit
in St. Bernard.
The team, he said is
composed of doctors, psychiatrists, priest, nurses, pharmacists and 4 laymen
volunteers who are Americans, Hawaiians and Filipinos. During their medical
mission, the team will stay in St. Bernard and be one with the people of St.
The group came on Wednesday
morning without any fanfare bringing with them medicines and many boxes of
noodles and maong pants. The relief goods will be turned over to Mayor Maria
Lim of St. Bernard, Dr. Sy continues.
Furthermore, Dr. Sy said
this is not the first time that the group has conducted a medical mission,
they have done this many time in different places. This is their way of
sharing with the victims their talents, their time and their effort and a
way of expressing their gratitude for the many blessings that have come
The disaster relief and
medical mission is being conducted in cooperation with the Chiang Kai Shek
College Alumni Association, the Philippine Red Cross and the Manila Absolute
Lions club 301-A1.
Educational benefits to
soldiers, its dependents discussed
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
March 15, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – In its
mission of providing educational and scholarship benefits to the Filipino
soldiers and its dependents throughout the country, personnel of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO)
recently discussed this opportunity to the soldiers in
Capt. Francis Dela Fuente,
commanding officer of the 8th Civil Affairs Unit of the 8th Infantry
Division informed that some high-ranking military officials from the General
Headquarters had arrived in the Division and discussed the program to the
soldiers and the prospected benefactors in the region last March 1, 2006.
Capt. Dela Fuente identified
Major Gen. Christie B. Datu, AFPEBSO Chairman, Major Gen. Horacio B.
Tolentino, AFPEBSO vice-chairman, along with some 8ID officers arranged a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to be signed between the AFPEBSO and the
possible benefactors, mostly state colleges and universities, in Eastern
During the information drive
held inside the Training Unit Conference Hall, which were attended by more
or less 300 soldiers, AFPEBSO officials explained, among others, the
benefits and scholarship opportunities to the dependents of combat
casualties, their new enriched and integrated programs.
Lt. Colonel Rizaldo B.
Limoso, during the open forum said, scholarship shall be extended first “to
dependents of combat casualties, then to those non-combat casualties
followed by soldiers with disabilities sustained in combat, and finally to
dependents of personnel in the active service (who may wish to increase
their knowledge in their chosen fields).”
According to the army
official, scholars will enjoy a full-scholarship (all expenses paid) until
they graduate courtesy of the AFPEBSO donors and partner-schools nationwide
while those scholars who will not studying in partner-schools were paid out
of the AFP’s share of firearms license fees collected by the Philippine
“(All) scholars were
(likewise) given stipends to defray the incidental costs of education like
books, school requirements, meals, uniforms and transportation (allowance),”
Col. Limoso said.
Of this writing, a
Memorandum of Agreement between the AFPEBSO and the partner-schools in Leyte
and Samar provinces is being readied.
The military said any
inquiries regarding this program, one may write the AFPEBSO at Gen. Enrile
avenue corner Gen. Ramos Avenue, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City
1110 or call 02-912-6922 or open their site
The AFPEBSO, it was learned,
is currently providing assistance to more than 5,000 grantees all over the
country in various educational levels through its 24 programs – three of
which are mandated by law while the rest are in collaboration with other
organizations, foundations, educational institutions, government agencies
and private individuals.
5 solons ask international
human rights group for intervention
By RAY P. GASPAY
March 11, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Five
opposition congressmen who are currently remained hold up inside their
offices at the Batasan Pambansa building sent a letter of appeal to their
fellow parliamentarians and friends in the international community on
Wednesday (March 8) to help them assert their right against political
The five includes Rep. Satur
Ocampo of Bayan, Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Rep. Teodoro Casiño of
Bayan Muna, Rep. Liza Maza of Gabriela Women's Party, and Rep. Joel Virador
of Bayan Muna. They are aware that should they leave their offices they
would be arrested immediately as they have witnessed with several of their
colleagues, including Rep. Crispin Beltran of the Anakpawis.
Despite the House of
Representatives having unanimously approved House Resolution 1169 on
February 28, 2006, a bipartisan resolution reaffirming one's right to due
process and 'protective custody' in the absence of a judicially issued
warrant of arrest resulting from a preliminary investigation or indictment,
the Arroyo government, specifically the National Police, has disregarded
this very basic right and has declared that the congressmen will be arrested
upon leaving the Congress grounds.
In response, the Asian Human
Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based human rights defender
immediately forwarded their appeal thru its Urgent Appeals Programme to all
of its (AHRC) contacts worldwide via electronic mail seeking positive action
to the call.
“We appeal to you, our
fellow parliamentarians and friends in the international community. Help us
assert our right against political persecution, to perform our legislative
functions and our duty to check the abuse of executive power. Help us in our
fight against the return of martial rule in the Philippines”, the letter of
appeal signed by the five congressmen said.
“The government attacked us,
progressive parliamentarians and our parties, on the mere suspicion that we
connived with communist rebels and mutinous soldiers in trying to bring down
the Arroyo government”, the letter stressed.
“We have always been
critical of the human rights record of the military. The charge that we
consorted with a section of the military to launch a coup d'etat against
President Arroyo is a complete falsehood. In fact, the Arroyo government has
failed to prove not only our involvement in the supposed coup plot but the
existence of a coup attempt. The fact that Pres. Arroyo tried to arrest us
without judicially issued warrants of arrest shows the lack of evidence on
her part to prove such allegations”, it further asserted.
“Friends and colleagues,
this is martial law making a comeback in the Philippines. We, and many other
critics of Pres. Arroyo, are being subjected to political persecution and
physical attack because of our political beliefs that run contrary to those
held by Pres. Arroyo. Our leading participation in the impeachment process
and raising the question on the legitimacy of Pres. Arroyo's electoral
victory, our relentless fight against corruption and government abuse, and
our advocacy for civil liberties and human rights have made us ‘enemies of
the state’, as far as the Arroyo government is concerned”, the appeal
The appeal urges to
immediately raise the issue in other country’s parliament and government to
take action on the ongoing crackdown of progressive parliamentarians and
parties in the Philippines, and to raise the issue in international bodies
such as the UN, The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and other bodies
concerned with parliamentarians and human rights and urge the adoption of a
resolution expressing the strongest concern over this attack on the
legislature and human rights.
ADB lauds Samar LGU
beneficiaries of agrarian reform projects
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 10, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – The
Provincial Inspectorate Team for Asian Development Bank funded projects
implemented under the Department of Agrarian Reform’s Agrarian Reform
Community Project, lauded the local government unit beneficiaries in the
Province of Samar.
This was disclosed by DAR
Regional director Homer Tobias who said that the result of the monitoring
and evaluation conducted by the Team showed that six months after the four
foreign-assisted access road projects were turned over to the recipient
local government units in Samar, said projects were deemed to be in sound
and well maintained shape.
Director Tobias revealed
that these projects implemented in the agrarian reform communities to
support the activities of the agrarian reform beneficiaries are considered
grants from ADB. However, the recipient LGUs are required to look into the
maintenance of the projects for a period of ten years after the turn over.
Otherwise, these will be converted into loans as provided for in the
memorandum of agreement signed by the ADB and the concerned LGUs.
The Provincial Inspectorate
Team which is composed of representatives from DAR, ADB, concerned LGUs and
the Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee conducts monitoring
and evaluation activities twice a year or every six months, Dir. Tobias
Samar Provincial Agrarian
Reform Officer Antonio Tan, meanwhile, bared that the projects referred to
are the Natimonan-Casandig farm-to-market road worth P3.5 million in Gandara
town; the first phase of Cambatutay Bay ARC circumferential road worth P6.1
million in Tarangnan; the first phase of the rehabilitated
Casandig-Tutubigan-Salay road worth P7.6 million in Paranas; and the
corrected Tominamos-Maligaya farm-to-market road worth P20.6 million in Sta.
Aside from being praised for
the job well done, the recipient local government executives, Mayors
Antonieto Cabuenos of Gandara, Emily Olaje of Tarangnan, Elvira Babalcon of
Paranas and Beatriz Tiopez of Sta. Rita, were given some tips on how these
projects would endure the passing of time.
Victims of forest
destruction remembered in symbolic ceremony
By Greenpeace Southeast
March 9, 2006
MANILA, Philippines – On
the eve the East Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Process (FLEG
Process) meeting in Manila, Greenpeace called on the Philippine government,
current FLEG Task Force Chair, to immediately enforce serious measures to
stop forest destruction. The call was made during a solemn ceremony at the
Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City in remembrance of the thousands of
victims of destructive logging in the Philippines.
League of Cities Environment Committee chair Mayor Edward Hagedorn,
Dingaluhan, Quezon Mayor Marilyn Marquez, community representatives from
Casiguran, Dingalan, and Baler towns also in Quezon, and representatives
from local NGOs, lit 1,500 candles laid out on the ground to form the shape
of a tree, and tied white ribbons around an acacia to symbolize their deep
commitment to help end destructive logging. Photos and footage of floods and
landslides were shown during the event and a solidarity statement opposing
all forms of forest destruction and supporting total commercial logging ban
“Tonight’s solemn ceremony
is intended to memorialize the people—the mothers, fathers, daughters, and
sons—all the precious lives that should not have perished in deadly
calamities caused by the senseless destruction of our forests,” said
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez.
“Their deaths should not be
meaningless. The government must honor their memory by stopping destructive
logging to ensure that no more lives will be lost in the same manner.”
The Philippines suffers from
constant floods and landslides, and environmental degradation, due to the
loss of forest cover which has resulted many times in tragic devastation
that has claimed thousands of precious lives. The latest incident last
February 17 in Southern Leyte, a province which carries a bitter legacy of
destructive logging, swallowed a whole town whose almost 2,000 residents are
now believed dead.
The Philippine government
constantly cites extreme rainfall as the cause of floods, and has cited
geological factors as the cause of the recent Leyte landslide, but it has
yet to acknowledge that the denuding of forests play a crucial role in
causing these tragedies.
however, is a primary cause of floods and landslides, and its disastrous
effects are exacerbated by heavy rains, and in some cases, even normal
precipitation. Continuous logging—both legal and illegal—severely
compromises the natural carrying capacity of the forests which act as
effective barriers against strong winds, rains, and landslides during
typhoons, to provide protection from natural calamities.
Experts estimate that close
to 97% of the original forest cover of the country has been logged, above
50% of which is believed to have been felled illegally. Today, less than 3%
of ancient forests remain in small, scattered patches. The Asian Development
Bank, in its Key Indicators for 2005 reports that among Asian countries, the
Philippines has the worst record of preserving its forests.
Greenpeace believes that the
catastrophes show that the country continues to pay dearly for its history
of deforestation, and stresses that the government must do far more to
prevent on-going destructive logging, as well as enforce rigorous measures
to curb illegal logging and illegal imports. At the same time, it must also
support the international community in dealing with the problem of massive
deforestation in the region.
The Philippines hosted the East Asia FLEG
Process meeting on Tuesday that gathered government
officials from around the world to promote greater protection and
sustainable management of the world’s remaining forests, and respond to the
urgent need for effective cooperation to address forestry problems
simultaneously at the international, national, and local levels.
“Countries in the region,
like Indonesia where illegal logging is rampant, should learn from the
tragic experiences of the Philippines,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Executive Director Emmy Hafild.
“Through this commemorative
event, we wish to also address the leaders of the East Asia FLEG Process,
and highlight the fact that destructive logging is not just an issue of
economic gain for the few, but an issue of survival for many. They must be
reminded of their moral, if not legal, obligation to fight for those who
have fallen victim to the consequences of destructive logging.”
Scrapping of PP 1017 is
March 8, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Lifting Proclamation 1017 is
just a palliative move. Its intent is to abate the furtherance of public
dissent, especially among the sectors who have long demanded for her
resignation. This was the reaction of the peasant sectors, voiced by Samahan
han Gudti nga Parag- uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB), to the
declaration by Mrs. Arroyo lifting the Proclamation 1017 last Friday, March
The declaration of
Proclamation 1017 gained criticisms, not only from the sections of
professionals including heads of the state and the armed forces, but also
among the peasant sector. The desperate measure of the embattled president
has largely divided the nation. Thus, SAGUPA-SB expressed that Arroyo’s
lifting of the proclamation was an expected move especially since her allies
also lobbied for the scrapping of PP 1017.
Lito Gacusana, Secretary
General of SAGUPA-SB, however, expressed that the move is similar to all the
government’s band-aid solutions to the growing problems, which would include
corruption, military discontent, poverty, among others.
“We must recall that Arroyo
once lied to the public when she declared she would not run for the May 2004
elections just so she could appease the mounting forces calling for her
removal from office. When the “Hello Garci” scandal heightened to press
Arroyo for election fraud, she was quick to say ‘sorry’ in order to put a
stop to protest actions and uniting opposition. Right now, it is easy for
her to lift the proclamation after it has unleashed repressions to free
speech, dissent and criticisms,” said Gacusana.
But such move will not hide
Arroyo’s true intent, the peasant leader pointed out. According to Gacusana,
all of Arroyo’s actions are haunting her.
“All her ill-advised moves
are rebounding causing her more political oppositionists and critics. Even
Noli de Castro, her loyal military men and the government of the US has
pronounced their stand against PP 1017. Arroyo is hurting her fraudulent
government by her very own anti- people moves. Thus, we see her imminent end
soon,” said Gacusana.
Gacusana further held that
the declaration of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 did not do any good in
the advancement of the peasants’ impoverished situation.
“States of emergency are
declared in order to reconstruct and rehabilitate communities, lives and
structures destroyed by a calamity or war. Its essence is to help the people
pick up the pieces left after catastrophes like floods, typhoons or war have
destroyed everything. GMA should have looked at the kind of emergency people
have everyday just to cope up with the rising daily cost of living. What
farmers need her to do as a way of addressing the real economic emergency
experienced by the farmers is to call for an increase in the farm gate
prices of agricultural products especially palay and copra and decrease the
prices of basic commodities like rice. If she was serious in addressing the
plight of the people, she would have immediately allocated funds for the
nationalization of the rice industry, social services for production, among
others,” said Gacusana.
According to Gacusana, a
week under state of emergency did not address anything fundamental but
rather turned things from bad to worse. 8 out of 10 Filipinos are not eating
three times a day. Majority of the people survive with a meager P50 per day
while farmers in the region get by each day with only P23.80. Proclamation
1017 did not change such reality, stressed Gacusana.
“We are calling her to lift
General Order No. 5 and immediately put an end to the political repressions
she has systematically brought upon her critics and oppositionists. We
demand the release of Anakpawis representative Crispin Beltran,” Gacusana