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8ID troops encounter NPA in Leyte

Top NPA leader captured

Oust Samar Governor movement formed

8ID weeds out misfit in own ranks

8ID wins Outstanding Literacy Award

GMA signs law establishing the 1st University in Samar

NPA, RHB bandit group clash in Samar

Mining operations start  in 4 Samar towns

Gov. Tan dares SPH employees who went on 'silent protest' to resign

NPA killed in Eastern Samar encounter



Leyte Colleges ROTC cadets visit Camp Lukban

MGen Palparan welcoming the Leyte College ROTC cadets to the home of the 8th Infantry (Storm Trooper) Division, Phil Army in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan, Samar.

February 23, 2005

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar – The 8th Infantry Division Headquarters here in Camp Lukban served as host to the ROTC Cadets of Leyte Colleges from Tacloban City who visited the “People’s Camp “ on February 20, 2005 as part of their field trip.

Three hundred students, along with the school’s Commandant and Community Defense Center (CDC) Commander, Cpt. Victor Del Fierro, came all the way from Tacloban City to visit and personally indulge their senses marveling at the facilities and equipment inside camp. No less than Maj. Gen. Jovito S. Palparan Jr, the 8th Infantry Division Commanding General warmly welcomed the cadets. Their trip involved the briefing on the Philippine Army, its capabilities and equipage, film showing, static display of the different armaments, an inside look at an Armored Personnel Carrier, demonstration of the tactical radio sets, visit to the Camp Lukban Station Hospital and a preview of the military tactics as performed by the Candidate Soldiers.  The trip enlightened them on the wide range of roles of combat and combat support units in order to enhance the performance and capabilities of the Philippine Army deployed in Eastern Visayas.

Highlights of the field trip were the actual glimpse of the Commando V-150 and Simba Armored Personnel Carrier as well as their visit to the Camp Lukban Station Hospital where they had a brief conversation with captured female NPA Sunshine Eulalio who has been provided with medical care and concern by the 8th Infantry Division. Sunshine, on her part, related her dim experience with the Communist Terrorist (CT) movement and discouraged the cadets from being deceived by the CT’s propaganda.

The cadets were very much delighted and gratified by the hospitality provided by the 8th Infantry Division as they learned lots of things, especially since it was their first time to visit an Army Division Headquarters. Their appreciation was very much evident in their smiles and cheers, as they rode towards home, reminiscing the memorable day they have experienced.





Island-wide workshop on Trafficking in Persons slated

February 18, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar    -   In a bid to influence national policies and actions to protect migrants, especially the invisible working children, a non-stock, non-profit, non government organization Visayan Forum Foundation and the Plan Philippines, will hold its 2-day research validation and local policy advocacy workshop in Maqueda Bay Hotel here.

Aileen Repadas, VFFI Field Officer in Samar said that expected participants to the February 22-23 occasion are the "key research informants as well as other stakeholders from the government agencies, local government units, the non-government organizations" and some walk-in interested partakers island-wide.

Topics to be discussed in the workshop includes good practices against trafficking in persons, taskforce (correct) approach in ports, multi-sectoral network against trafficking (MSNAT) experience in lobbying laws and ordinances, and situational analysis of trafficking of women and children at the Allen Port in Samar.

Since last year, Repadas said, the VFFI has been spearheading major consultations and capacity-building workshops throughout Visayas provinces, which are the major source areas of trafficking victims both for local and overseas exploitation.

As a result of these thorough consultations with the public, the VFFI has arrived with the conclusion that Samar, indeed, is a major source, transit and receiver of trafficked women and children. "(This sad observation) manifests that we should therefore continue lobbying for proper legislation, campaigns and continued networking, advocacy and international support," Repadas told reporters here.

She, however, added that one of the major gaps that needs to be addressed is to enhance the implementation of the existing Republic Act No. 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, (and), if necessary, to encourage the development of new local ordinances.

For this purpose, "we have commissioned an island-wide research entitled a rapid assessment of trafficking of women & children in Samar, which aims to provide partners with a general profile and data on the trafficking victims, the extent and gravity of the problem and the existing responses and interventions of government agencies and NGOs in Samar," she stressed.

Meantime, back to the activity, the organizer of the said workshop listed down the following goals and objectives, to wit; One is to present and validate the major findings and recommendations of the island-wide research on trafficking in Samar; Two, to document and deepen the participant's current understanding of the lessons learned from existing good practices by local partners already working to prevent trafficking, protect victims, prosecute offenders and sustain rehabilitation strategies, and third; To come up with concrete steps and recommendations to enhance existing policy  environment  and mechanisms for effective implementation in Samar which include, but is not limited to, the enactment of local ordinances.

The VFFI also invited several key persons throughout Samar Island who will compose the panel of reactors and will talk on their respective experiences of trafficking in their areas. The VFFI national training officer Jerome Alcantara will also fly from Manila to Samar to discuss the overview of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the RA 9208.





Priest point to ex-police chief as mastermind of Antique church heist

By Alex Vidal/ PNS
February 18, 2005

SAN JOSE, Antique  -  The parish priest of Bugasong, Antique has appealed to the Antique provincial prosecutor to include the name of the town’s former police chief in the preliminary investigation of a robbery case involving an expensive statue of Senior Sto. Niño inside the Bugasong church.

Fr. Pedro Silava, Jr. sent his complaint letter to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office last February 15 together with the extrajudicial confession of one of the arrested suspects, Frederick Almonares alias Patok.

Almonares reportedly revealed that former Bugasong police station chief Inspector Marciano Solano, Jr., masterminded the heist.

The 29-year-old suspect had also implicated a certain Marvin Abril of Brgy. Ilaya, Bugasong, Antique and a certain Resdy Palma of Brgy. Paliwan, Bugasong.

Almonares was collared by police along with Patrick Zamora, 19, student of Antique National High School; Francisco Orbus Jr., lineman of Antique Electrical Cooperative last February 9 in Bugasong, Antique.

The suspects were arrested on the strength of a warrant of arrest in Criminal case No. 07-44 issued by Judge Rafael Pinuela of the Regional trial Court Branch 64.

Two other suspects, Charlie Guillem and Larry Valenzuela, remained at large.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 Director George Aliño, meanwhile, denied reports that Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO) commander Superintendent Ronilo Quebrar is covering up the case and influencing the prosecution to amend the case.

Aliño said Quebrar had told him that Quebrar immediately sought the legal advice from the prosecutor’s office when he learned about Almonares’s revelations.

Among the arrested, it was only Almonares who executed his affidavit against Solano.

Aliño said Solano was relieved from his post a week after the 17th century image of Sto. Niño in Bugasong was cannibalized.

Solano did not hide, Aliño said.

The APPO, the PRO 6 chief said, had found out he had been confined in the municipal hospital of Sebaste, Antique.

Last January 30, the head and hands of the two-foot tall Sto. Niño made of ivory and metal were found missing.

The stolen parts were approximately worth from P3 to P4 million.

Despite the incident, residents of Bugasong allowed the image to participate in religious procession last February 1.

It was reported that the image was lost in 1984 and was only found in Iloilo City.

The image was given by Queen Isabela of Spain to the sugar moguls in Antique





GMA satisfied over North Railway clearing operations

INSPECTION OF NORTHRAIL RELOCATION PROJECT: Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council concurrent chairman Noli “Kabayan” De Castro inspected the Kasarival relocation site plan in Brgy. Bignay Valenzuela.

By Philippine News Service
February 14, 2005

MANILA, Philippines - Vice-President Noli 'Kabayan' De Castro vowed to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to finish the clearing operations at the Malabon-Valenzuela segment of the North Rail Project by the end of February to early March.

In a meeting with Arroyo last Saturday at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, De Castro told the President he will conduct weekly inspection to monitor developments in the clearing operations and to ensure that efforts to fast-track it is implemented.

De Castro earlier said the relocation of families affected by the project is on track.

Arroyo expressed satisfaction over De Castro's performance in relocating the families.

In a video presentation, De Castro showed to the President the hauling and relocation procedures being undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Malabon and Valenzuela.

The President also witnessed how De Castro has implemented the demolition of houses in a peaceful, humane and orderly manner.

Moreover, De Castro informed President Arroyo some minor problems being experienced by NHA. He said several families have not yet moved out of the railways since they have not yet received the P50,000-grant allotted for them.

Relocatees of Malabon area are supposed to receive a P50,000-grant just for them to move out of the railways. Another option is for them to transfer to government relocation sites. Many chose the cash option.

Last Friday, De Castro berated some NHA officials when he found out that several families have not received their P50,000 checks, which somehow causes a slowdown in the relocation procedures.

He then again reminded NHA of the deadline for the complete clearing and demolition of houses in Malabon and Valenzuela, which is scheduled on the end of February to early March.

De Castro said he is fast-tracking the relocation of the families living along the railways so the North Rail Project can start on schedule.





MGen Palparan assumes 8ID Command

MGen. Gabriel M. Ledesma, Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army, turns over the 8ID flag to MGen. Palparan symbolizing his assumption as Commanding General of 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.

February 11, 2005

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar – Major General Jovito S. Palparan Jr. took over as 8th Infantry Division (8ID) Commanding General vice the outgoing General Officer-in-Charge Brigadier General Bonifacio B. Ramos during the Change of Command Ceremony on Thursday February 10, 2005.

In a simple ceremony held at the 8ID grandstand, BGen. Ramos relinquished his command as the General Officer-in-Charge of the 8th Infantry Division to MGen. Palparan with the Vice Commander and concurrently the Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Maj. Gen. Gabriel M. Ledesma as the Presiding Officer. BGen. Ramos was awarded the Military Merit Medal interim to the Distinguished Service Star and the Philippine Army Command Plaque for his outstanding and exemplary service as Assistant Division Commander and General Officer-in-Charge of 8ID from January 16, 2004 to January 4, 2005 and January 4 to February 10, 2005 respectively.

In his farewell speech, BGen. Ramos acknowledged the officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees of the 8th Infantry Division, expressing his sincere appreciation, for the support they have rendered during his tour of duty as the Assistant Division Commander and his memorable stint as the General Officer in Charge.

In his acceptance speech, MGen. Palparan expressed his utmost gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief, Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for giving him the opportunity to serve as Commanding General of 8ID. He was formerly designated as the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, and also the former Commander of the Philippine Humanitarian Contingent deployed for the Peace Keeping Mission to Iraq where he earned the praise and appreciation of the international community due to the outstanding achievements they have rendered to the said country.

Maj. Gen. Ledesma, on his part, congratulated the outgoing General Officer in Charge for a “Job Well Done”, as the latter takes credit for the accomplishments of the Command during his stint as Assistant Division Commander, Chief of the Office of Ethical Standards and Public Accountability and later his memorable tour of duty as the General Officer in Charge.

BGen. Ramos is due to be assigned to the Headquarters Philippine Army where he will be designated as the Army Inspector General.





San Jorge to host 3rd Annual Visayas Cave Congress

February 9, 2005

SAN JORGE, Samar - After the successful holding of last year's Visayas Cave Congress held particularly at the Langun-Gobingob Caves in Calbiga, Samar, the Centro Outdoor Sports Unlimited based in Catbalogan and the local government unit of San Jorge – the organizer and host respectively of this event – is bringing in the opportunity again the region's eco-tourism potentials, particularly this town's newly documented cave sites next month.

The holding of this year's event, dubbed as the 3rd Annual Visayas Cave Congress on March 4, 5 and 6, this year was supported by the provincial government under the leadership of Gov. Milagrosa Tan, Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-8), Samar Adventure Service and other local sponsors.

Rommel L. Rutor, Executive Committee Chairman informed that this event was conceptualized and started by Samareños three years ago aimed at gathering outdoor enthusiasts nationwide - who are tourist facilitators in their respective places of origin -"to introduce to them (participants) the potentials and viability of our eco-tourism destinations, which are exceedingly beautiful compared to other places in Philippine archipelago."

He said several academics lectures and training on environmental protection, basic caving and safety, cave formations and geology and single rope techniques (SRT) plus exciting adventures awaits for those participants that will attend in the aforementioned event.

Organizers of the event disclosed that a maximum of 100 partaking spelunkers, mountain climbers and outdoor enthusiasts from the places of Calbayog, Catbalogan, Tacloban, Cebu, Davao, Borongan, Cavite, Laguna, Tuguegarao, Catarman and other parts of the country will attend this year's big event.

"Of this moment, at least 80 individuals have already signified their participation to the annual cave congress," Rutor said.

Asked about the registration fee, Rutor said, "a minimal fee of P350 to cater the freebies on printed t-shirt, full colored certificates, guides, site transportation and first day meals, will be collected by the secretariat upon registration." He added, however, that P50 discount to any participating student will be given after presenting of his or her valid ID.

Meanwhile, Mayor Joseph Grey of San Jorge – this year's host municipality said that he is aiming that San Jorge town would be the next penultimate tourist destination in the province, "we have much remarkable number of inimitable and alluring spots that cannot be found anywhere in the country."

"From our springs, caves, waterfalls, and other admirable sights meticulously designed by nature, my town's major offerings are exceptionally one of the best in the country and a must-see for intrepid nature lovers," Mayor Grey said adding, "missing these spots will always means missing half of your adventurous life."

In fact, the mayor said, the elaborate topographical setting of this town was chosen to be one of the prominent routes of the International ELF Endurance Competition in 1999. In his closing, Mayor Grey welcomes all would-be activity partakers and wishes "full satisfaction, as you explore and discover the unparalleled splendor of this town," of San Jorge.





BAYAN denounces additional 2% value-added tax

BAYAN-Samar Press Release
February 1, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar   -  In a statement released before the media. BAYAN -Samar lambasted what it called as “another one of GMA’s wicked schemes.”

Edgardo Figueroa, Secretary-General of BAYAN-Samar denounced the passing of House Bill 3555 or the Value Added Tax Restructuring Act passed on its third and final reading last January 27, 2005 by the House of Congress. He said, “The hasty manner in which the series of tax measures passed by Congress betrays the panic that is gripping the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government.” The new VAT bill is the sixth of the series of tax measures passed by Congress as proposed by the GMA administration.

It can be recalled that the GMA administration has been rocked by the worst crisis in the history of Philippine fiscal management. To avert further crisis, a list of revenue measures had been proposed by the GMA economic think-tanks, one of which is the additional 2% VAT. If this measure is approved by the Senate and enacted into law, it is expected to generate additional revenue generating measures of the government. The GMA administration is currently facing a P180 billion in budget deficit.

Figueroa stressed that VAT is nothing but an imposition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since the time of the late dictator Marcos. It can be recalled that Marcos did not impose tax scheme as dictated by the IMF for reasons of political survival. Anti-dictatorship sentiment had then grown and intensified, which peaked during the EDSA Revolution of 1986. Ironically, it was the Aquino administration that implemented the VAT system in 1988 under Executive Order 273. The Ramos administration further expanded the scope of the VAT in 1994 through RA 7716 or the E-VAT Law as an imposition of the IMF before the $650 Million loan under the IMF-Extended Fund Facility (EFF) could be approved.

“Clearly, from the past to presents administrations, subservience, before Foreign Monopoly Capitalists and their dictates had been a chronic ailment.” BAYAN further added.

“BAYAN-Samar joins the nation’s outcry against the proposed additional 2% VAT. Instead of resolving the fiscal crisis of the country, it will only further aggravate the economic woes of our people,” Figueroa divulged. “How much more for people of Samar?” he further added.

The additional 2%VAT will impact most on the lower income-earners, those what the National Statistics Office-FIES categorized as earning P20,000 – and below annually. While VAT is a uniform tax levied on both the rich and the poor, it will burden most the poor because of their low income, low purchasing power and the high cost of commodities. It is even predicted that raising VAT to 12% would cause inflation by 2%.

BAYAN calls for the junking of the VAT system of taxation it is anti-people. “We urge the Macapagal-Arroyo government to pay heed to the people’s cry for social justice,” it added. “And this can only be made possible if nationalist industrialization is pursued after genuine land reform is implemented in this country,” the statement concluded.



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