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Iloilo boys choose sex over shabu

Samareños cries foul over mining approval in Samar Island.




Post-mining advantages cited

October 13, 2005

A mined area in 2003 being inspected by a multi-sectoral group, with a reddish water at foreground, has conjured up a conclusion that mining had devastated the environment.

HINABANGAN, Samar  - Mining, after all, had not substantially destroyed the environment in Bagacay, this town.  If one account is to be considered right, it may well be said that it has not even caused an alarming pollution to the Taft River.

No less than a well-placed government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, even remarked that on account of past mining operations at least 80 hectares in Bagacay had been left “ideal for eco-tourism now”. He said mining has “carved out a valley with an exhilarating panorama.”

Virginia Lovely Sanvictores, secretary-general of the KAGUPASA (Katig-uban han Gugti nga Parag-uma og Parapangisda han Samar), a people’s organization in the locality, said that the mined area, about 2 kilometers southeast of the barrio site, has agreed with the government official’s observation, adding that she could just visualize the peace-loving people in her town soon “reversing the anti-mining sentiments”.

Both the official and Sanvictores said that the mining valley is still surrounded with large forests which therefore make the locality “truly luring” to tourists and investors. “The site is, no doubt, a Baguio in Samar because of the surrounding very cool atmosphere. Very cold,” Sanvictores told a group of media men.

An unsigned “Situationer Report of Philippine Pyrite Corporation (PPC)” in Bagacay indicated that the Mines Geosciences Bureau of Region 8 (MGB-08) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted various monitoring activities over the mine and affected of PPC between July 25, 1996 and October 23, 2003.

Sanvictores and  KAGUPASA president Aureo Darras had earlier requested the DENR through provincial environment and natural resources officer George F. Guillermo that the KAGUPASA be given “priority and allocation” particularly of the mining site in Bagacay.

They said they wanted “to develop the area as Bagacay country club intended for golf course, reforestation area as to improve the land free (it) from any flashfloods and landslides which may occur in the future.”

Mining Background

The area subject to the pyrite operation of PPC has been covered by “Lode Lease Contract (LLC), LLV-V-162 (9 claims) issued to Marinduque Iron Mines Agents Inc.” The contract was issued 48 years ago (May 29, 1957). On October 10, 1977, the Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation (MMIC) acquired a right over the leased area by virtue of a deed of assignment.

Several memoranda of agreements were entered into covering the lode site, the latest of which, on February 15, 1985, was between PHILPHOS and PPC.

On August 26, 1985, about 48 years after the issuance of the contract and 8 years after MMIC acquired the mine site, or 6 months after the execution of the last MOA, the contract was renewed, already in the name of the Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corporation (MMIC).

However, on December 15, 1986 - the date at which the Philippine government’s Asset Privatization Trust (APT) was created thru Proclamation 50 of then President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino of the Post-EDSA 1986 Revolutionary Government - the property in the name of MMIC was foreclosed by the Philippine National Bank. Subsequently, the APT placed under its control the MMIC’s assets and properties.

Pollution Issue

Pollution of the Taft River had been the main issue alleged although it had been found out that this problem already existed even before the Philippine Pyrite Corporation started operating. The Taft River, a large river system that traverses the provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar, is adjacent and downstream of the mine compound.

In view of the issue raised, the DENR’s MGDS and EMPAS, recommended for the construction of additional tailings ponds in June, 1988. Thus, tailings ponds numbers 6, 7 and 8 were constructed with corresponding permit to operate issue in 1989.

On May 28, 1990, DENR-PAB issued a Cease and Desist Order relative to the petition of barangays San Pablo, Mabug, Gayam, Benalonan, Lumatod and Malinao, Taft, Eastern Samar concerning the alleged pollution of the Taft River. That order was lifted on July 9, 1990 or more than one month after its issuance.

The EMPAS and MGDS of DENR-8 conducted several monitorings after that.

In the MGDS’ November 1990 monitoring, the anti-pollution measures were noted to be “working effectively.” However, several reports on Taft River pollution allegedly caused by the PPC operation were lodged with the DENR regional office by stakeholders concerned. In response, the DENR conducted corresponding investigations.


On May 26, 1992, PPC suspended its mining operation. This was not however due to the alleged “pollution”.

Its own decision to suspend was brought about by a “rising recovery cost aggravated by labor dispute between PPC management and (the) labor union.”

By December, 1992, the PPC completely ceased its operation without any maintenance nor rehabilitation over the mine site, facilities, equipment and other structures.

Since the stoppage of PPC’s mining operations, the MGB-08 conducted 7 monitoring activities between July 25-26, 1996 (when it assessed the Tailings Dam with the assistance of the then DENR-EMPAS in the region) and February 13-16, 2001 (when it assisted Tetra Tech EM personnel in the latter’s conduct of a semi-detailed assessment of abandoned and inactive mines at PPC, Hinabangan.

On June 29, 2002, the PPC resumed its hauling operation though tramline.

‘Neutral PH’

The MGB-8 found out from its October 23-24, 2003 river assessment and water quality monitoring at the Taft River that the river system had a “relatively neutral PH and a clear water both at the discharge point of the settling ponds and the recipient Taft River downstream.”

However, it noted that the river water would “turn murky during rainy seasons”. The water discoloration was attributed to “run-offs from mine premises”.


The government’s MGB-08 thus made corresponding recommendations.

These included the dredging of silt sediments particularly at the midstream and downstream portions, the planting of appropriate tree species to protect river banks from scouring, and the conduct of detailed geological, environmental and water/sediment sampling.





Knowing the new 8ID Chief

September 16, 2005

MajGen. Bonifacio B. Ramos

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  Major General Bonifacio B. Ramos took over Command of the 8th Infantry (Storm Troopers) Division, Philippine Army as the 13th Commanding General vice the outgoing Commanding General Major General Jovito S. Palparan Jr. during the Change of Command Ceremony last August 25, 2005 with the Philippine Army Chief MGen. Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr, as presiding officer.

In a simple ceremony held at the 8ID grandstand, MGen Ramos in his acceptance speech, he expressed his utmost gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Senga for giving him the trust, confidence and the opportunity to serve the people of Eastern Visayas. Being the Division Commander, he looks forward to facing the great challenge of Government’s Internal Security operations overwhelming in the region. He gives the assurance to MGen. Palparan, that he will continue the mission of the Division of combating terrorism in the region by expressing his sincere responsibility as a Commander.

MGen. Ramos is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1975, who got commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Philippine Army upon his graduation from that prestigious institution. A well-schooled officer, he has finished various job-related courses both local and abroad. To mentioned a few: Philippine Army Infantry Advance Course and Tactical Intelligence Course at Continental USA, both courses he graduated number 1; Negotiation/Mediation Course at Pearson Peacekeeping Center in Canada, Command and General Staff Course at Malaysian Command and Staff College to which he was on the Commandant’s List; Strategic Intelligence Planning at University of Asia and the Pacific and the Pre-Command Course for Battalion Commander position.

On his civilian schooling, he is a graduate of Strategic & Defense Studies at the University of Malaya in Malaysia and he also has an MA in National Security Studies at Georgetown University, Washington D. C.

On the other hand, right after his assumption of command, he immediately visited the troops in the field units, up to the remotest detachments, to stress his policies and guidelines for the accomplishment of the Command’s mission.

Among his important previous assignments were: Platoon Leader, Company Commander, Battalion Commander, Division G2 & G3 in Mindanao, Chief of Staff of Intelligence and Security Group, Commandant of the Intelligence School; Area Command Staff for Operations, AC3 of Visayas Command, AFP; Chief Operations Division OJ3, GHQ; Deputy Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense; Defense/Military Attaché, USA; Liaison Officer to the United Nations; Commanding General of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, 1ID, PA, Assistant Division Commander, 8ID, PA; Inspector General, PA and now the Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

He is poised to enhance the cooperation, coordination and linkaging efforts with the Local Government Officials, Non-Governmental Organizations, the church and the people in general which he considers as partners and stakeholders of peace in fighting the deeply-rooted insurgency problem in the region.

MGen. Ramos is a native of Maasin City, Southern Leyte.





De Venecia stalled peace talks – Bayan Muna leader states

By RUBEN GERARDO, Filipino Resource Center
July 7, 2005

OSLO, Norway  -  In an effort to salvage the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front, the Congress of the Philippines decided to send a Peace Mission in the Netherlands last June 20-27. However, it did not succeed in coming up with an agreement for the immediate resumption of the talks. Head of the Peace Mission, Bayan-Muna Representative Satur Ocampo talks about what transpired during the week-long consultation during a short visit in Oslo last July 2.

Why did Congress decide to step in the peace talks?

Ocampo:  This (Special Committee on Peace and Reconciliation and Unity) was given mandate or given jurisdiction on all issues pertaining to the peace negotiations and resolution of all armed conflicts so it is an idea to enable the legislative branch of the government to provide inputs into the ongoing peace process and not leave the peace negotiation entirely in the hands of the executive government as it has been since 1992. There is ground for Congress to assert its initiative in the peace process because the resolution of the long drawn-out armed conflict between the government forces and the national democratic left revolutionary forces led by the CPP/NPA represented by the NDF could require policies, programs that would need legislative action for implementation. So, it is best if even during the period of negotiation that the House of Representative can already provide its input and advice for better coordination with the executive.

What is the objective of the Peace Mission?

Ocampo: The peace mission is specifically intended to contribute to efforts mainly undertaken by the Royal Government of Norway as third party facilitator between the government and the NDF, to get the two parties back into the formal talks in the peace negotiations as soon as possible and to accelerate the process towards attaining the objective of just and lasting peace, and national reconciliation.

What happened during your consultations with the NDF panel?

Ocampo: The Peace mission held a dialogue with the NDF negotiating panel consisting of NDF Chief Negotiator Louie Jalandoni, Julie de Lima, Fidel Agcaoli, Connie Ledesma including Chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison, political consultant Danilo Borjal and head of the secretariat, Ruth de Leon.  The discussions explored possibilities of resuming the peace talks and the peace mission shared the greetings given by the Presidential adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles to which the NDF reacted by giving its own version of how the peace process got bogged down and clarified that the government’s assertion/claim that the NDF unilaterally suspended the talks in August 2004.  The NDF panel said that they asked for postponement of the formal talks in light of  the renewed listing by the United States government of the CPP/NPA and Joma Sison and the failure of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to comply with its commitments under the previous agreement like upholding the principle of national sovereignty under the Joint Declaration of the Hague, the Security and Immunity Guarantee under the JASIG and the guarantees under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). So this mission took cognizance of the points raised by the NDF and the two sides drew up in the next three days a communiqué reflecting as concisely and as truthfully as possible what went on in the discussion.

So everything went well in the peace mission?

Ocampo: Unfortunately, when House Speaker Jose de Venecia joined the peace mission he objected to the several parts of the communiqué, mainly those that stated the NDF’s review of the history of the peace talks that contained the critical comments on the action taken by the government to help the CPP/NPA and Mr. Sison included in the terrorist list of the European Union and also the presentation of the prejudicial questions. Even the points of convergence or agreement between the peace mission and the NDF panel like the urgent need for the immediate resumption of the peace negotiations, the need for the joint monitoring committee implementing the CARHRIHL to meet and act on the complaints filed before it and also the need for the government to comply with its commitment to release the remaining political prisoners. There is nothing wrong in putting those in the communiqué but the Speaker objected to these.  The Speaker simply wanted a very brief statement that says the NDF and the Peace mission agreed to resume the peace negotiations within the third quarter of 2005 and to try to accelerate the process towards attaining the objectives of the peace negotiations. So the NDF argued that it would disadvantageous or unjust for the NDF to simply state the point of agreement or the substance of the dialogue in the previous statement without clarifying the prejudicial questions that have still be resolved before the formal negotiations are resumed. In fact, the NDF have submitted proposals to meet half-way or to be able to resolve the issue of terrorist listing by not greatly demanding on the government to petition the US and EU for the delisting the CPP/NPA and Jose Sison but simply for the government and the NDF to make a joint declaration to uphold national sovereignty and guarantees provided in the agreements already signed by the two panels.

What was the final decision made on the communiqué drafted by the Peace mission and the NDF?

Ocampo: Because of Speaker Jose de Venecia’s intervention and objection, the two sides no longer issued the communiqué but as head of the Peace Mission and chairman of Special Committee on Peace and Reconciliation, I am duty-bound to report to Congress, submit a written report to the Speaker, and make an oral report to the Plenary of Congress when it resumes its session in late July and early August.

Meantime, a member of the government of President Arroyo, one of her advisers (Ed Pamintuan) had contacted me yesterday and asked for the copy of the communiqué with the intention of bringing it up to President Arroyo and try to convince her to accept it so that the peace negotiation can be resumed.  We are waiting for developments on that point.

Meanwhile, what is the prospect for the peace talks?

Ocampo: Meantime, in light of political developments that put Arroyo in the political conundrum and dilemma, Joma Sison has expressed the view that the peace talks may not proceed and it is willing to wait out in the crisis confronting the Macapagal government.

What is the reaction of the Norwegian government on this development?

Ocampo: My conference with Tore Hattrem who is representative of the Foreign department of the Royal Norwegian Government agreed that both his office and the House Special Committee shall continue to work towards the resumption of the peace talks despite the current obstacles.





Can Jose Ma. Sison's Maoist rebellion in the Philippines succeed in this generation?

June11, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, California  On December 24, 2004, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) exhorted its faithful to: "Avail of the Worsening Crisis and Intensify the Guerilla Offensives to Advance the New Democratic Revolution."

The CPP leaders reiterated that: "The revolutionary armed struggle is the main form of struggle because it answers the central question of the revolution, which is the seizure of political power. Our NPA commanders and fighters run into thousands. They operate in 128 guerrilla fronts and in substantial portions of nearly 70 of 74 provinces, more than 800 of the 1500 municipalities and more than 10,000 of the 45,000 barangays nationwide."

This Marxist-Leninist-Maoist rebellion has been going on for 36 years. Is it on the verge of sweeping away its opposition in the Philippines? Will it ever succeed?

Project Ploughshares, an ecumenical peace centre of the Canadian Council of Churches, estimates that as of 2004, some 25,000 combat-related deaths have occurred in the Philippines since 1969 when the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People's Army (NPA), launched their rebellion against the Philippine Government.

In the past few months, discussions of this rebellion have been catapulted into the Philippine media again. It has been at the center of numerous Filipino discussion groups in the Internet.

One reason for this was the reaction of the Philippine military to the CPP’s unrelenting focus to continue its armed struggle to attain its objectives. Groups that are generally linked to the Philippine military launched their own abductions, summary killings, and execution of critics of the establishment and the Philippine government based on their judgment of who had to be eliminated. Some sectors in the Philippines claim that there is already military rule in the Philippines without the formal declaration by the military that they are already in charge.

The military was not discriminating. If individuals and groups were vocal on their criticisms of the government, they were listed as “enemies of the state”. Into this category fell the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), organizations that represent the Catholics and the Protestants in the Philippines, respectively, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) whose Executive Director, Sheila Coronel, was given the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, among others, are their "enemies".

This pathetic naiveté, ignorance and embarrassing lack of contemporary political and social awareness of the military - an institution which has been rocked by corruption and scandals also - would be hilarious but for the grim and deadly consequences on the Filipino people.

Consequently, some assassins and shadowy killers who are generally believed to be working with the military may have been torturing and killing innocent people.

For instance, in a town in Samar, the third largest island of the Philippines, a farmer, suspected to be associated with the NPA was abducted by an armed group.  His headless body, arms in handcuffs, was later dumped on the roadside along the Pan Philippine Highway for all to see.  His parents were so terrified that they could not even claim his body and give their dead son a decent burial.

Other killings and abductions have been documented. A journalist, Dabet Castañeda, reports that in the same island of Samar alone, since the assumption of Maj. General Jovito Palparan to the command of the military in the islands of Samar and Leyte, on February 10 this year, 20 persons have been reported missing in the region, including four children, Liza, 8, Marissa, 7, Charisse, 5, and Kulot, 3. They were reportedly abducted together with Noni Fabella and Rina Balais-Fabella, members of the Advocates for Women's Actions, Rights and Empowerment (AWARE) on March 30 in Barangay Trece, in Catbalogan, Samar.

Similar atrocities have been reported in Luzon and Mindanao.

Some residents in Catbalogan and Samar island who are no longer very particular about the rule of law and the hallowed democratic principles of due process as long as there is peace and order in their daily lives, have expressed their admiration of the military's campaign that wiped out criminal elements - gangsters, private armies, holduppers, and drug dealers in Samar. But for those who still believe in the rule of law and the democratic process, the summary killings are symbols of a Reign of Terror.

To some Filipinos who are deeply concerned with the consequences of Jose Ma. Sison’s unswerving belief that only through armed struggle can his objectives be attained and the brutalities that are attributed to the military in the pursuit of their mandate, the expression, “A pox on both their houses” seems to be appropriate. There is a feeling that the majority of the Filipinos are caught between two contemptible forces which seem to derive pleasure in killing; with the corrupt military getting more points for ignorance and their psychopathic brutalities.

The CPP-NPA is not exactly lily-white. It has been labeled as nothing but a group of extortionists, hobnobbing with the corrupt and the incompetent, killing their own people, and threatening the lives of those whom they consider their enemies if they do not kowtow to the thinking of The Consultant and “affirm” the sanctity of his thoughts.

In the meantime that these two contending forces are trying to wipe each other out, hunger, misery, and hopelessness continue to stalk the land.

It is imperative that for the sake of the 85 million Filipinos and the future generations, a new way of looking at things should be explored beyond the limiting confines of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or the obsession of the corrupt military to impose themselves on the hapless Filipino people.

For the so-called “Progressive Forces”, i.e., Bayan Muna, Akbayan, etc. and those in the military who cry for their country, perhaps the leadership should reach out to form a “Broad Front”, a “Frente Amplio”, along the lines of the Uruguayan Experiment where the dreaded urban guerillas, the Tupamaros, laid down their arms to compete with other political groups in the electoral process. They were able to achieve without a bloody total revolution their aim of governing Uruguay.

If the alternative political groups do not look around, the killings will only continue which could result in the “Killing Fields” and “The Mountains of Skulls” similar to what happened in Cambodia.

Raul Pangalangan, Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, who lectured in Phnom Penh for The Hague Academy of International Law in 2004, expresses his sorrow at what happened in Cambodia, after the communist guerillas, the Khmer Rogue or Red Khmer, had triumphed:

“I visited Tuol Sleng once again, the infamous schoolyard converted into a torture chamber, where 14,000 men, women and children were detained, tortured and killed - in the end, only seven prisoners came out alive. Its second and third floor corridors overlooking the courtyard were ringed with barbed wire because the prisoners preferred to fling themselves to death rather than endure the torture. Each time I visit, I grieve for the Cambodian people and worry for mine.”

It seems that 20 out of 100 Cambodians - 1.7 million out of an estimated total population of 8 million - died after their “liberation” from “feudalism, imperialism, capitalism, and bureaucrat capitalism”. If projected to the Philippines, this would mean the death of 17 million Filipinos out of the present population of 85 million.

The sad thing is that after all the tortures, the agony, and those wasted lives, Cambodia is not even a democracy, much less an egalitarian, socialist society. And definitely it is not on its way to becoming the ideal communist society, the dream world of our freedom fighters, where the fundamental ruling principle of human relations would be:  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

[The author is a regular columnist of “The Filipino Insider”, a monthly supplement of the “San Francisco Chronicle”, one of the major newspapers in America with a circulation of 500,000. This piece is for the June 2005 issue of the publication. He can be reached at]

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