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Rebel killed in Samar town clash

June 9, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines    – A suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed during the encounter between the government troops and the rebels in the town of San Jose de Buan, Samar last Saturday (June 7).

In a report given to the 8th Infantry Division Chief Major Gen. Glenn Rabonza based in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan, Samar, Brig. Gen. Cesar Tiongzon, 803rd Brigade Commander disclosed that elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion based in San Jorge, Samar encountered a band of armed men in Barangay Gusa in the remote town of San Jose de Buan around 7:30 morning of Saturday.

The firefight lasted a couple of minutes which resulted to the killing of one of the rebels.  No casualties were reported to the government side.

The slain rebel was later identified as a certain Filencio Gabin alias Ka Polging and is believed to be a member of the Samar Central Front Committee 1 (SCFC1) operating in the western part of Samar Island.

The army troopers recovered in the battle scene one (1) Cal .38 revolver and one (1) magazine for M16 with ten (10) rounds of live ammunition.

The body of the slain rebel was turned over to Barangay Chairman Amado Pecencio of Barangay Gusa, San Jose De Buan, Samar for proper disposition.

The report also said the encounter ensued after residents tipped off the presence of the rebels conducting extortion activities in the area.

Gen. Rabonza immediately directed a pursuit operation against the remaining elements of the communist terrorist operating in the area.





Hold up, they thought he has a big money!

June 9, 2003

GANDARA, Samar, Philippines    -  Three unidentified armed men reportedly held-up a medicine dealer last May 26 in Barangay Hinugacan this town, some 37 kms. north of Catbalogan, Samar.

The victim was identified as Antonio Ascoque y Arqueza, 36, agent of Calbayog Asian Enterprises based in Calbayog City, Samar.

Police Officer1 Gid Brosas, police investigator of this town in a brief interview said that at around 2:00 in the afternoon of May 26, while the victim was driving his “Jianshe” single motorcycle from Pagsanghan town bound to Gandara town, about 19 kilometers away, upon reaching the dump site near Hinugacan village, three unidentified men stopped him and with a home made guns (“paltik”) in their hands pointed at him, and forcefully took his money amounting to P2,600.00 (about $48)

The suspects, however, after taking the money ordered the victim to go back to Pagsanghan town. But instead of going back to Pagsanghan town proper, the victim went to the village of San Luis and took a motorboat with his motorcycle to the village of Conception this town and from there to Calbayog City.  

However, Ascoque reported to the police station of this town only eight days after the incident took place.  PO1 Brosas said that if only the victim immediately reported to them the incident, they could have responded immediately to pursue the suspects.

It was learned that two of the suspects were wearing a bonnet so that the victim could hardly identify them.  “We are investigating this case. Our priority now is to identify the suspects.” PO1 Brosas added.

To date, authorities of this town are optimistic that they can solve this case if the victim will just cooperate in giving them information on the suspects especially on the identity of one of the suspects who have not covered his face. “We have here pictures of suspected thieves, we’ll ask the victim to see those pictures.”  police authorities said.





New Army Battalion formed

May 29, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines     – The Army’s 8th Infantry Division here formed a new battalion to man the Eastern Samar province.

This after it was observed that this part of the region sees only to the sole existence of an Army battalion and after the transfer of the 14th Infantry Battalion, former stationed in Dolores, Eastern Samar, to Mindanao last year.

The 46th Infantry Battalion was mandated to take effect of its existence and responsibilities effective April 1 this year; however, it has yet to establish its location of its battalion base.

Initially, the former brigade headquarters of the 802nd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Cantaba, Sta. Rita, Western Samar was being tapped to be the location of the 46th Infantry Battalion.  However, this yet needs further approval by the division.

To date, only the 52nd Infantry Battalion based in Lawaan, Eastern Samar under Lt. Col. Ernesto Benitez provides the army force in the Eastern Samar province.

It can be recalled that three of the army battalions from this division were sent to Mindanao as augment troops there in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The 14th Infantry Battalion was sent to Patikul, Sulo last year, the 20th Infantry Battalion is presently based in Agusan, Del Norte while the 62nd Infantry Battalion is also in Mindanao area.

To head the 46th Infantry Battalion as Battalion Commander is Major Federico Oliva, the concurrent Assistant Chief of Staff for Training or G-8 and as Battalion Executive Officer is Major Teotimo Catabi-an, the concurrent Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics or G-4, both of the 8th Infantry Division here in Camp Gen. Vicente Lukban, Catbalogan, Samar.

In this regard, the 8th Infantry Division categorically denied that the formation of a new battalion is due to the increased pressure of the insurgency in the Eastern Visayas region.





2003 Provincial Skills Olympics

May 26, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines   — The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Samar provincial office has scheduled the 2003 Provincial Skills Olympics next month (June), but no exact date yet, with a theme: “Bringing Together the Best in Region 8, Sinirangan Bisayas, Magkarit Ini”.

According to the Organizing Committee for the said skills competition, there will be twelve (12) trade areas that will be the subject for competition, these are: Automobile Technology, Electronics Applications, Welding, Cabinet Making, Commercial Wiring, Cookery, Restaurant Service, Plumbing, Floristry, Information Technology, Computer Aided Design, Drawing and Ladies Dressmaking.

The competition was divided into two categories namely: the youth and open categories. For the youth category contestants must be 18 years old and below; must be a skills certificate holder in the areas he or she is competing; must not be a winner of any major awards from previous national skills competition in the same category and trade areas he/she intends to compete and must be a natural born Filipino citizen.

For the open category contestants must be at least 19 years old and above, must also be a skills certificate holder in the area he/she intends to compete; must not be a winner of any major awards like gold, silver and bronze from previous national skills competitions in the same category and trade area he/she intends to compete; must be nominated by the employing firm/institution (if employed) or must be sponsored by a firm or institution, and must be natural born Filipino citizen.

All competitors should have a coach or expert that must also be a skills certificate holder in the area he/she is coaching and have undergone training on the BIC system.

Cash prizes, medals and certificate of recognition will be awarded to all major winners of the competition including their coaches/experts.

The skills competition comes in five levels: provincial, regional, national, ASEAN and world competitions. Winners in the provincial level represent the province in the regional competition. Regional winners will represent the region in the national competition. National winners will represent the country in the ASEAN and world skills competitions.

The province of Samar will be selecting its set of competitors who will represent the province in the regional competition scheduled on July and August in Tacloban City.

The primordial purposes of holding this competition is to promote specific trades and occupations most relevant to the local economy; install self-esteem and pride among those who choose the blue-collar vocation; by advocating through the competition activities, the vital role of skilled workers in nation building; select objectively the competitors to the next level of skills competitions and cultivate the cooperative spirit of the various stakeholders and the development of middle level technical workforce.

The previous skills competition results showed that the province of Samar has been performing well.

From the year 1996 to 2001 regional and national competitions, the province of Samar garnered three diplomas for excellences, twelve gold, nine silver and ten bronze medals from the different trade areas and categories.

Attendant to this, TESDA is inviting interested parties to join in this 2003 skills competition. For particulars, please visit TESDA, Samar Provincial Office, Government Offices Bldg., Capitol Compound, Catbalogan, Samar from Monday to Friday during office hours.  (with reports from Tony Ramento)





Council urges entertainment houses to observe safety measures

May 23, 2003

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar, Philippines  — The Sangguniang Panlungsod of this city urged all entertainment houses and other establishment to always observed safety measures of its clients and customers.

In a regular session of the city council on May 6, the council approved City Ordinance No. 2003-17-032 requiring all nightclubs, disco houses, karaoke bars, theaters and other similar business establishments operating in the city to “mount or display notices in conspicuous places within and inside the premises as to the maximum seating capacity of persons that the said establishment can accommodate.”

“It was observed that most of the establishment owners, not only here in the city but also in other places, that overcrowding of customers especially in a disco houses were being tolerated by the owners, unmindful of the risk,” said one councilor during the deliberations.

In this new ordinance, it prohibits the establishment to accept customers in excess of the said maximum seating capacity and that they are required to put the signboard “All Seats Taken” with a size of 8.5 x 13 inches in case the place is already fully occupied by their customers.

“This is for their patron’s convenience, safety and welfare,”  Vice-Mayor Gerry Jusayan said.

Also, the Business Permit and Licensing Office of this city was also directed by the council to include this requirement as a pre-requisite for the granting or renewal of permits to all establishments in the city.

Any owner, operator or entity found violating this ordinance will be “penalized for the first offense, by a fine of P500 or imprisonment of one to five days or both at the discretion of the court and for succeeding offenses, by a fine of P1, 000 or imprisonment of six to 10 days or both at the discretion of the court and the suspension of the business permit for a minimum period of 30 days or until compliance of this requirement.”

The 2-page city ordinance was approved by Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento on May 19, 2003 and will take effect upon completion of publication requirement.





World mission conference held

May 21, 2003

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar –   “Bring the wand ‘ring ones to Jesus!”  This was the theme of the two-day conference Philippines for World Mission last May 15 and 16, 2003.  Baptist pastors and preachers from Eastern Visayas Region, Bicol Region and Metro Manila participated the activity which was held at the Bible Baptist Church here in Borongan, Eastern Samar.

Rev. Lowell Barte, host pastor, said the purpose of the conference was to remind and encourage all believers to be more faithful and be more involved to the greatest commission of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, to preach God’s word to the whole world.  Rev. Barte also stated that this is the only way for the people of the world to know the very reason why Christ came to the world and died on the cross of Calvary.  “Preaching the pure Gospel, this is our primary purpose why we have missions. This is the only way to let the people know that in Christ there is hope of salvation,” he said.

Dr. Bob A. Woosley, President of L. D. Woosley Bethany Baptist Colleges based in Makati city who was the main speaker of the conference, in his lecture said,  that every New Testament Church of the Lord Jesus must be missionary minded and be a headquarters for world missions.

Rev. Peter Ayon, a Filipino missionary to Indonesia, who was also one of the speakers in this conference, showed the figures of population distribution based of the 1992 figures by Ralph Winter for the US Center for World Missions.

Based on the data, our world today has more than 6 billion people of which 1.37 billion Christians are in need of renewal.  These Christians are those who go to church but who are not really on fire for the Lord.

There are about 1.74 billion non–Christians within reach of Christian people.  These people are those who have the opportunity to hear the Gospel if Christians will just tell them.

2.28 billion “unreached” non-Christian made up of those individuals who have never heard the Gospel unless some Christians go and tell them.

To date from the Baptist Bible Fellowship of the Philippines alone, there are more than 50 Filipino missionaries ministering in the different parts of the world.

The two-day conference gave the participants the encouragement and a whole-hearted commitment in the propagation of the gospel.





7 Year–old Boy Drowned

May 11, 2003

PAGSANGHAN, Samar, Philippines  -    A seven-year old boy was found dead in the Pagsanghan River near Pier 2 of this municipality, after taking a swim together with two other companions.

The victim was identified as Jojo “Baga” Abangan Jr., 7 years old, and a resident of Barangay Canlapwas (a village), this municipality.  He was the youngest of the five siblings of Jojo Abangan Sr. and Tessie Abangan of the same address.

Report said that around 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon of May 7, the victim and two of his friends went to the river at Pier 2 in Brgy. Canlapwas to take a bath.  While enjoying the swimming, the victim was carried by the forceful current of the water into the deepest part of the river that caused him to die by drowning.  

Susan Villas, Jojo’s aunt said that Jojo’s mother was not aware about the itinerary of her son. “Jojo didn’t ask permission from his mother about their plan in going to the river with his two friends” Susan said.

After the incident, the victim’s mother, Tessie Abangan who was playing bingo (gambling) during that time, heard what happened about her son Jojo and immediately went to the place where her son have drowned.

The divers tried to rescue the boy and after minutes of finding the victim, his dead body was recovered.

Jojo was buried just the following day (May 8) at the Public Cemetery of this municipality. Pagsanghan is about 41 k.m. north of Catbalogan, Samar.





Residents Fears from 4 Fugitives

May 5, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines  -    Residents of Brgy. New Mahayag, Catbalogan, Samar which is about 15 km. north of this municipality could no longer work in farm at day time for their living because of fear for the presence of four armed prisoners in the vicinity of this barangay (community). This is what has been reported by Honorable Ludyvina Havinal, Barangay Chairman of this barangay to Mayor Jesus B. Redaja, municipal mayor of Catbalogan, Samar during the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) Meeting at the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal council) session hall last April 27, 2003.

These armed prisoners are those who escaped from Villareal, Samar, south of Catbalogan, which according to reports have held 5 minors, ages 6 – 15, in their daring escape.

Havinal pleaded to the council especially to Mayor Redaja to immediately give action to this matter. “We want that the other four suspects who are still at large be captured as soon as possible because the people in our barangay could no longer sleep at night, they are being scared,” she said.

According to Havinal that during night time the suspects are knocking at the doors of some houses to ask whatever they want. If they refuse to give, the suspect threatened them with their fire arms.

Havinal also said that the suspects are very much angry now since one of them was killed during the encounter last April 15, 2003 after Colonel Romeo Gapoz, commander of the 34th Infantry Battalion dispatched two special teams in reaction to the tip from the local populace about the presence of the five fugitives in the area.

After hearing the report, Mayor Jesus Redaja gave his command to Captain Ceazar B. Biso, officer-in-charge chief, Philippine National Police (PNP) of this municipality, who was also present during the MPOC meeting, to make a plan and give priority to solve this problem.

Meanwhile, the people of the said barangay are still waiting and hoping for the immediate capture of these 4 armed prisoners who are still at large.





Suspected SARS victim negative from virus

April 30, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines -  The suspected Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) victim from Brgy. Maybucog, Maydolong, Eastern Samar has been declared negative of SARS infection on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 by the local health authorities of the Department of Health (DOH-8) after undergoing a 5 days treatment at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City, Leyte.

JP, initial name of the victim, leaves the isolation room of the EVRMC, escorted by her husband and younger sister, at about 3:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday and proceeded directly to her hometown in Maydolong, Eastern Samar on board an ambulance.

She thanked the almighty God for her immediate recovery and to all the people that supported her during her difficult time most notably to the health officials and personnel who served her during her stay at the EVRMC.

She also thanked the mayor of Tacloban City for allowing her to be confined at the EVRMC. Prior to her confinement, the mayor issued a directive not to allow her to enter the vicinity of the city due to fear of possible spread of the virus but later lifted the ban after an agreement was made between the local chief executive and the health authorities.

Health authorities however advised JP to stay in their house for at least 12 days, the same advise and period given to those who attended her at the hospital.





No SARS case yet in EV, says DOH officials

April 25, 2003

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines -   The entire eight family members of the female Overseas Filipino Worker from a coastal town in Eastern Samar, Philippines has placed in quarantine at the Integrated Provincial Health Office in Eastern Samar after it has exhibited symptoms of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), few days after she arrived from Hong Kong.

On Thursday, the DOH-8 sent a 10-man SARS Team led by DOH chief epidemiologist Dr. Nicolas Bautista and sentinel nurse Boy Cerro to fetch Palce in his native town in Eastern Samar and bring her to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City, Leyte which is the only designated SARS Center by the Department of Health in the region.

Acosta said the probable SARS victim, whose name still withheld as of presstime, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Hong Kong on April 9 and arrived in Maydolong, Eastern Samar on April 12, “(because) she might have stayed for two days from a relative or friend somewhere in Manila,” Ligaya Anacta-Acosta, DOH-8 information officer said.

The SARS Team arrived in Tacloban this afternoon at 5:05, bringing with them the OFW for confinement and examination at the EVRMC's isolation ward.  The group didn’t arrived this morning as expected due to the reported barricade set up by some groups in Asia’s longest bridge (San Juanico Bridge) that connects Samar and Leyte.  Earlier this morning, the mayor of Tacloban City issued a directive to the local police to stop the group in entering the vicinity of the city due to fear of possible spread of the virus brought by the probable victim.  The directive was finally lifted late this afternoon after an agreement was set between the local government and the health officials.

Dr. Roberto Aniceto of EVRMC said blood samples and fluids of the victim would be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for laboratory tests. “This case would be considered a suspected SARS virus, until the test result is verified,” he said in a telephone interview.

It was learned that the victim first went to Dr. Neil C. Sabulao’s private clinic and then went to the provincial hospital of Borongan, Eastern Samar for a medical check-up and it was there that she was discovered to have exhibited pneumonia. “She was diagnosed by the doctors having developed a fever reaching 39.6 degrees,” Acosta said.

Meanwhile, the reports that health officials was planning to bring the probable SARS patient to EVRMC did not please Governor Remedios “Matin” Petilla of Leyte. The governor reportedly called the EVRMC not to accept the suspected SARS virus carrier. Instead, she wants the victim to be confined in Borongan District Hospital where it was first admitted.  Dr. Adelaida Aspirin, EVRMC chief of hospital, however, said she couldn’t accommodate the request of the governor since the hospital was the one designated by the DOH to be the SARS Center for Eastern Visayas.  Aside from Gov. Petilla, some other local officials and groups in Leyte opposed to admit the patient in EVRMC.





SARS hit Eastern Samar

April 25, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines -    An OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), whose real name still withheld as of press time, who recently arrived home in Maydolong, Eastern Samar from Hong Kong where she worked as a domestic helper, was reported a suspected SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) victim when she was brought to the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital last April 23 for treatment of illness.

The victim arrived in the Philippines from Hong Kong last April 9 and was confined to the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital last April 18 due to complaints of high fever after receiving a check-up from a private clinic in Borongan, Eastern, Samar reportedly by physicians Dr. Neil Sabulao and Dr. Baldono. The town of Maydolong is about 19 kilometers south of Borongan, the capital town of Eastern Samar. 

As of 10:00 this morning April 25, 2003, reports have reached that the victim was on her way in an ambulance to Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City, Leyte, the regional capital of Region 8 escorted by physicians from the said hospital for further treatment, isolation, examination and verification of a suspected SARS virus.