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Rebel killed in Samar town clash






RDCC-8 Chair commended NFA-8

BY MARY AGNES R. MILITANTE,  NFA Regional Information Officer
August 7, 2003

PAWING, Palo, Leyte, Philippines      -     Police Chief Superintendent Dionisio Benito Coloma Jr. in his capacity as Chairperson of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) awarded recently a Certificate of Commendation to the National Food Authority (NFA) in Region 8 under the helm of Acting Regional Director Edgar S. Bentulan.  The citation was given in recognition of the timely effort and resources extended to the RDCC at the height of tropical Storm “Egay”.

Supt. Coloma lauded the agency’s disaster preparedness efforts, particularly the timely release of good quality rice to the typhoon victims in Allen, Northern Samar.  A total of fifty (50) bags of rice from NFA Calbayog Warehouse were promptly transported to this calamity area through Director Adriano Fuego of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

As a result of this commendation, RD Bentulan informed that he, in turn issued a Memorandum to NFA Administrator Arthur C. Yap informing him of the meritorious endeavor extended by the hardworking NFA personnel namely, Asst. Regional Manager Benjamin B. Marta and Regional Operations Officer Alfeo Selpa of the NFA-8 Regional Office.  Credit is also due to Provl. Manager Ramon W. Astilla, Asuncion L. Tan, Minda G. Roldan, Ricardo M. Serrano, Muhaldin I. Amlih and Ernesto Yu, all of NFA Provincial Office in Western Samar.

Meanwhile, RD Bentula also related that the agency has launched the “Text NFA” system.  This new technology innovation is envisioned to provide the public with the facility to send their suggestions, inquiries or complaints regarding rice supply and prices through text messaging.

The public may text the NFA by typing the key words SUG for suggestions, QRY for inquiries or requests for NFA assistance, or CMP for complaints or grievances.  The sender will then key in his name, mailing address and message.  After which the texter or consumer sends the message to 0919-6210927.

“This new system innovation will hopefully limit the response time in acting on complaints made by our stakeholders”, Bentulan concluded.





Sen. Biazon urges passage of Proposed Health Care Act  

August 6, 2003

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines   -   The Media for Development and Democratization (M4dD), a local media group facilitated a press conference on the proposed Reproductive Health Care Act also known as the House Bill (HB) 4110 at Ritz Tower de Leyte, Real St., Tacloban City on July 23, 2003.

The activity sponsored by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc (PLCPD) was participated by print and broadcast media practitioners from different media outlets in Eastern Visayas.  The presscon panel was composed by Senator Rodolfo Biazon; PLCPD Director Roberto Ador; Population Commission (POPCOM) Executive Director Tomas M. Osias; Christina Onate, Manager Capability Building Division, PLCPD; and, Atty. Imelda Nartea, representative of Leyte Governor Remedios “Matin” Petilla.

The activity started with the introduction of the members of the panel followed with the introduction of media guests.  During the said activity, Onate explained that PLCPD is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) that is primarily involved in the promotion of issues on family planning, reproductive health and development.  According to her, policy conferences and other related activities being undertaken by PLCPD are funded by the Academy for Education and Development.  PLCPD is supporting and endorsing HB 4110, thus, it sponsors activities such as press conferences, fora and seminars/workshops aimed to increase the awareness of the stakeholders on population, reproductive health and family planning as well as to listen to their sentiments and solicit their commitments for both local and national initiatives for the different population and development programs particularly the Reproductive Health Care Act.

Senator Biazon opined that he is the lone author of the proposed health care act and that he already had several local and international appearances for advocacy and promotion of reproductive health care.  He authored said bill to come up with legislated policies addressing the ballooning population and improve the reproductive health situation of the country.  During the presscon, Senator Biazon made some points and clarifications on queries related and not related to the issues.  He stressed that said bill is not a pro-abortion bill as what some other people believed.  In fact, it is an anti-abortion bill as it reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies, which is the primary cause of abortion.  He cited facts that would support his claim that his authored bill is not pro-abortion.  First, there is an existing law that criminalizes abortion; the proposed bill does not seek the repeal of the existing anti-abortion law; it is not promoting any method that would intervene conception (beginning of life) and, basically, it is an anti-abortion bill.

Senator Biazon expressed his determination to seek public acceptance of the bill even if it would affect his political career.  He also expressed his willingness to seat down and talk with those who oppose the passage of said bill and would even amend those provisions that the oppositions think as pro-abortion.  He suggested to those who oppose to read the bill thoroughly and listen to his justification. He stressed that the bill is aimed to raise the quality of life of every Filipino.

He further disclosed that he wants to change the national security act that was authored by General Dwight Eisenhower, focus more on National Security, the Reproductive Health Care Act and review the country’s membership with the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

On the other hand, Director Osias promised to support any bill that would promote health, quality of life and manage the alarming population growth in consonance with the economic and development of the country.  Meanwhile, Director Ador strongly urged the participants to support the proposed Reproductive Health Care Act, which he believed is a very important bill.  He disclosed that there is an increase in the number of volunteer co-authors as compared to those who withdrew as a result of the pressure particularly from the religious sector.  Relatedly, Atty. Nartea in behalf of Governor Petilla expressed support/commitment to Reproductive Health, Population and Development policy initiatives.





Rookie Cops told to lead in anti-drug war

July 31, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines       -     TAKING A CUE from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s directive in cracking down the illegal drugs menace, Police Regional Office 8 Regional Director POLICE Chief Supt Dionisio Benito Coloma ordered the 150 new police officers of Eastern Visayas to lead in the war against illegal drugs.

“This is a directive not only from me as your Regional Director, but a direct order from the President,” Coloma told the rookie cops during the graduation rites of the PNP Special Counter-Insurgency Operation Unit Training (PNP SCOUT) of PNP Class Buklod Lahi last month. “I will be rewarding the first member of this batch who will be able to caught a drug pusher.”, the PNP Regional director said.

He told the new recruits that the President personally ordered him when the later visited Calbayog City also June 10. “ Utos yan mismo ni Presidente, at yan din ang unang utos ko sa inyo bilang inyong Regional Director,” he added.

Eastern Visayas top police recruit Romuel Nacar, the Class Valedictorian of Buklod Lahi batch said they are accepting the challenge, adding that the war on illegal drugs were the top agenda of their class when they return to their respective units.

“Yes, we’re more than ready to accept Gen. Coloma’s challenge and we will not disappoint him and the President!”, Nacar said, speaking in behalf of his classmates as the President of his batch.

Nacar was one of the province’s top journalists before he joined the PNP. He started his journalistic career writing for this paper in the early 90’s before being known as ace reporter handling different positions in other publications and as Investigative Reporter of local TV network Decobeam Cable TV in Catbalogan.

The President recently waged an all-out war against the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country. In Samar, the PNP said the volume of illegal drug supply have considerably dwindled following the arrest of several drug suspects.





President Arroyo visited Eastern Samar

July 21, 2003

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar, Philippines    -  President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) visited Eastern Samar province on July 17-18, 2003.  Despite the heavy rain and gusting wind of 65kph brought about by tropical storm “Gilas,” PGMA braved by passing through fallen electric post and debris on her way to Eastern Samar.  Significantly, PGMA was going to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and some municipal mayors of Eastern Samar for the implementation of the president’s KALAHI-CIDSS program. Likewise, the president was scheduled to launch the Strong Republic School (SRS) program, a distance learning system implemented by the government. 

At around 10:15 a.m. of July 17, 2003, PGMA and party together with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) left Tacloban City bound for Can-avid and Borongan, Eastern Samar via the south Samar coastal road.  Along the way, she made a surprise visit to the towns of Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapondan, Gen Macarthur, Balangkayan, and Taft, all of Eastern Samar. While in Balangiga, PGMA met with Maria Kharma Devanadero-Salazar, daughter of Juana Devanadero, a former nanny of the presidential children – “Luli”, “Mikey”, and “Dato”. 

The presidential convoy arrived in Can-avid at around 4:30 p.m. of the same day. PGMA proceeded to the Can-avid National Agricultural College (CNAC), where she was welcomed by Eastern Samar Governor Clotilde Salazar, Rep. Marcelino Libanan, Can-avid Mayor Norman Gil Germino, Eastern Samar Police Provincial Director S/Supt Edwin Balongay, 8ID Commanding General Glen Rabonza, 801Bde Commander B/Gen Rafael Romero, Commader 14IB Col. Felicito Trinindad and DepEd District Supt. Celistina Balano.  PGMA then witnessed the signing of the MOA between DSWD and the mayors of Can-avid, San Policarpo, Jipapad and Balangkayan for the implementation of the president’s KALAHI-CIDSS program. It was followed with the launching of Strong Republic School program.  PGMA left Can-avid at around 7:00 p.m. of same day, bound for Borongan, the capital town of Eastern Samar.

The president arrived in Borongan at about 8:00 p.m. still of the same day, where she was welcomed by Eastern Samar Vice-Gov Federico Suyot Sr, Borongan Mayor Fidel Anacta and P/Insp. Bernardo Corsiga, Chief of Police of said town.  A social function/dinner was ensued in honor of PGMA.  During said affair, PGMA announced the allocation of a P72-million fund for the three-year implementation of the KALAHI-CIDSS program in 83 barangays of the five depressed towns in this province.  Said amount is part of what the country obtained when she visited the United States.

Notedly, she opined that out of the P72-million fund, an allotment of P24 million a year for the KALAHI-CIDSS projects would be for the 28 poor barangays in Can-avid town; P8.4 million for 17 barangays in San Policarpo; P5.1 million for 13 barangays in Balangiga; P3.9 million for 13 barangays in Jipapad; and, P3.6 million for 12 barangays in Maslog all of Eastern Samar.  Under the KALAHI-CIDSS project, each depressed barangays is allocated P300,000.00 per year. Among the scope of the KALAHI-CIDSS are economic support, physical infrastructure, and capability-building activities.  She informed that economic support includes the constructions, communal irrigation, production and post-harvest facilities; physical infrastructure includes road rehabilitation and road regraveling; basic service infrastructure includes water systems, brgy health stations, basic agriculture facilities; and capacity building includes training for enterprise development and farming technologies.

The president also disclosed that she is giving a favorable consideration for the signing/approval for establishment of the Samar Island National Park (SINP).

Moreover, the president awarded the promotion and medal of valor to the three (3) policemen who valiantly defended the Quinapondan municipal hall and police station during an NPA-raid/attack on June 22, 2003. Said PNP personnel were Quinapondan PNP chief P/Insp Cayetano Ganaban, PO1 Raul Graza and PO1 Alexander Villaflor.  The dinner/social function ended at around 11:30 p.m. of same day. PGMA rested overnight at Eastern Samar Governor's official residence.

 At around 10:00 a.m. the following day, the president visited Brgys San Joaquin, San Vicente and San Gabriel and some public schools, all of Borangan, Eastern Samar upon invitation of some local politicians.  She then departed Borongan for Tacloban City on board the presidential chopper Bell 412 at around 1:45 p.m. same day.





Church and LGU's met on Environmental Threats

July 21, 2003

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines      -   The Samar League of Municipalities and the local religious sector have convened to discuss their plans/activities to oppose any environmental threats and sustain biodiversity conservation in Samar Island.  Said meeting was ensued at around 9:30 a.m. of July 5, 2003 at San Bartholomew Restaurant, San Bartholomew St, Catbalogan, Samar.   Among those who attended were president of Samar League of Municipalities Calbiga Mayor Melchor Nacario, Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Atty Noel Sarmense, Pepito C. Abarquez of Hinabangan, Claro Piczon, Fr. Cesar Aculan, Director, Social Action Center (SAC), Fr. Noel Labendia, Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP) representatives Rod Eco and Nick Arjon.

The activity started with video showing on the feature story about Samar Island aired in the “Magandang Gabi Bayan” anchored by Senator Noli de Castro.  After which, discussions, reactions, suggestions, sharing of experiences and ideas moderated by Rod Eco followed.  During the discussion proper, Fr. Aculan re-echoed to the participants the minutes of the last meeting of the ASEA on the proposed island wide environmental caravan of bishop Jose S. Palma and the plan for all environmentalist to culminate information caravan against the approved mining exploration in Samar.

Mayor Nacario opined that the series of reactions in the national scene occurred shortly after problems and threats to environment were aired/published in national television and broadsheets. He stated that among the environmental threats is the mining operation of two mining companies in the island of Samar. Moreover, he disclosed that the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) was signed by the former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Heherson Alvarez last Dec 5, 2002, which gave Bauxite Resources Inc. and Alumina Mining Corp. the exploration and mining rights in Samar. Mayor Nacario believed that Sec. Alvarez violated government policies when he signed the two (2) MPSA 

Mayor Sarmiento urged the participants to unite and fight back for the good of the next generation and protect their future as mining threatens to destroy the island of Samar.  Mayor Nacario disclosed that a unified ordinance (draft) for the province of Samar patterned after the Oriental Mindoro case will be created as basis for declaring the whole Samar Island as a watershed area. Relatedly, Piczon suggested for the creation of a committee that would formulate plans and strategies.

Furthermore, Mayor Sarmiento also emphasized that the plans and activities must in a coordinated effort and direction of the group and must reach high levels, so that the national leaders would know the plea of Samarnons.   He urged the different sectors to do their share, focusing on the areas of consideration (multi sectoral attack) coming from the LGUs, NGOs/POs, IBP, Academe, and Students.  Fr Labendia called to finalize the caravan route and activities that would be closely coordinated between SIBP, LGUs and the Church.  On the other hand, Fr. Aculan exhorted to the participants to act as a team to drum beat the caravan and further suggested that each stop over would prepare a program that must be made prior to the arrival of the group but the bulk of the mobilization will be in Catbalogan.

The group likewise agreed to conduct a caravan that is scheduled at 2:30-6:00 p.m. on August12, 2003, Capitol Ground, Catbalogan, Samar.  Among those invited to said activity are President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sec. Elisea Gozun, Senators Robert Jaworski, Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda.

The primary purpose of the caravan is to pressure Malacanang and Congress to sign and approve the declaration of the proposed Samar Island Natural Park (SINP).  The effort to initiate said activity stemmed after the DENR granted Bauxite Resources Inc. and Alumina Mining Corp. exploration and mining rights in Samar.





Samar PNP Director survived ambush

July 19, 2003

The area where the ambush took place. DPWH men working on the damaged road.

CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines     –     More or less 50 suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed the patrol vehicle of the Samar Philippine National Police last July 16, 2003 near the vicinity of this town resulting in the wounding of one policeman and the loss of several government issued firearms.

The ambush was initiated by the suspected rebels along the winding road of the National Highway between Barangays Socorro and Lagundi, about 4 kilometers south of this capital town.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Samar Provincial Office reported that around 3:15 pm of July 16, 2003, Supt. Conrado V. Calvario, PNP provincial director for Samar and 5 other policemen with him, while on board the PNP patrol vehicle en route to Tacloban City, Leyte, to attend ALFA dinner at Leyte Park Hotel where President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was to arrived in the city as part of her “Caravan to the Visayas”, was ambushed by heavily armed deterrent terrorists.The suspected communist terrorists used three land mines. Two were placed at about 25 meters apart near the roadside while the other was placed beneath a culvert box that crosses the highway.  As the patrol vehicle passed the culvert, the land mines were blasted by the rebels using detonating wires which resulted to the extreme damage of the car and the wounding of some PNP personnel.

Some residents of Barangay Lagundi said that the policemen engaged the rebels in a brief gunfight but the NPA rebels who where positioned on a hill in one side of the road fled after a few minutes.

Police Sr. Supt. Conrado V. Calvario, and 4 of his policemen reportedly suffered minor injuries/bruises, but PO2 Ilpedio “Popoy” Sasil, driver of the said patrol jeep was critically wounded due to 2 gun shoots at the back of his body and his buttock, and was immediately brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital this town after the ambushed.

The heavily damaged PNP patrol vehicle.

Three teams of PNP personnel from Samar Police Provincial Office and Catbalogan Municipal Police Station were dispatched to provide reinforcement to the beleaguered PNP troops, while elements of 8LAC, 8Infantry Division Phil. Army provide support to the reinforcing PNP troops.

Losses on the government side are (1) M16 rifle issued to PO1 Darwin Guilles, which was placed at the back of the driver’s seat, (1) 9MM pistol also of PO1 Guilles, (7) magazines of M16, (1) 9MM pistol of PO2 Ilpedio Sasil, (1) Nokia Cell phone and bag containing GOA uniform with complete paraphernalia of PSr. Supt. Calvario, while the M203 rifle of PO1 Salvador Advincula was damaged.

The blast left a big hole on the road and the flow of traffic was momentary held but is passable to light vehicles.

At press time, follow-up pursuit operations is being conducted by elements of 8ID PA and PNP elements, while DPWH 2nd Engineering District took action for the early rehabilitation of the damage box culvert.





5.6 Earthquake hit Samar Island

9:30a.m., July 2, 2003

    CATBALOGAN, Samar, Philippines    -   An earthquake of tectonic origin with a magnitude of 5.6 in Richter scale hit near Catarman, Northern Samar (about 458 kms. south-east of Manila) July 2, 2003 at about 1:00 a.m., Philippine standard time.

Based on the report from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Palo, Leyte the epicenter was established at 12.7ºN latitude, 124.9ºE longitude or at 42 kms., 50º North-East of Catarman, Northern, Samar.

The possible source of the quake was due to the movement of the Philippine Trench which lies east of the archipelago.

The earthquake was felt at Intensity V in Masbate and Catbalogan and intensity IV in Tacloban City.

As of press time, no reports of damage and casualties were received by the Office of the Civil Defense, Region 8 in Tacloban City according to Dir. Adriano Fuego.



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