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Zero mining in Samar island

MGen Palparan assumes 8ID Command

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


Samar SP: abductions, summary executions of civilians in Samar alarming

April 19, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar ‑‑  The Provincial Board Members here on Thursday broke their silence and condemned the series of abductions, killings, summary executions of civilians in the different municipalities of this province.

The killing and abduction incidents sow fear to local residents and its respective town officials in Calbiga, Hinabangan, Paranas, Jiabong, Motiong, San Jorge, Gandara, and Catbalogan as if there is "Martial Law" imposed in these areas. The town dads of these municipalities are making steps now to solve the menace, it was learned.

Samar under Martial Rule!?

In an exclusive interview with Samar Vice‑Governor Jesus B. Redaja on Thursday, April 14, he has urged all town leaders, particularly the Municipal Peace and Order Councils of each municipality to act and gather more evidence for the possible investigation. "Iton nga Council, kay mayda man hiton kaapi nga pulis ngan army, dapat maghatag ito hira han ira mga report bahin hine nga mga panhitabo”, VG Redaja said.

Redaja added "(Because) this is really alarming. Kun magpadayon ngani ine, baga‑baga la kita hine han mayda Martial Law, deri ine maupay ngan kinahanglan matagan dayon ine nga problema hin kasulbaran. Mga kinabuhi gud ine han mga tawo nga nawawara deri kay kanan mga hayop la."

Board Member and ABC President Joseph Escober, on his part said, the scenario next to Martial Rule in late 70s is seems to be like this. "(And), I am alarmed by this developments, I don't like this (killings, salvaging, abductions) happened in our beloved Samar and anywhere in the countryside," Escober told this writer giving hint that he is now gathering information for his own investigation.

According to Escober, he didn't like the reports reaching his office that those involved perpetrators are representative of the government which primary mission is to protect and serve the people. "Baliktad yata ang nangyayari dito sa ‘tin ah. Most of the victims and witnesses point to military as the culprit," the official said adding that he is aware that these incidents also happened in the provinces of Eastern and Northern Samar and in Leyte areas.

"Everyone is complaining this province is seems like under the military control, we can see soldier in every corner, in every barangay... there were also news that the military has allegedly imposed a 10p.m. curfew to all in Brgy. San Andres, Catbalogan. There were also reports reaching me that some hinterland villages of this province are deserted due to militarization and abuses allegedly committed by the troops of the 8th Infantry Division under the leadership of Brig. General Jovito Palparan, we need to check this out," Escober said.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Concepcion ‘Dayday’ De Luna, who is not visibly seen in the province for the past few weeks, an act unusual to her constituents, refused to comment when asked for her reactions to the series of abductions, bombings, and killings to the Bayan Muna members in Eastern Visayas. "Let's just wait for our next move, we're still in the process of consolidating evidences against the culprits," Board Member De Luna who is a noted strong supporter of Bayan Muna stressed.

To recall, identified supporters and leaders of Bayan Muna and other militant groups in the provinces of Eastern Visayas has been either ambushed, abducted, and worst, being killed. To date, still, no person or groups showed claiming responsibility over the killings. The victim's relatives, however, claimed that these are the handiwork of the military in their pursuit to elusive members of the local New People's Army. "Their aim to silence us all, no questions asked, no due process, killing us like pigs is very wrong and pro‑evil, " a kin of the slain Bayan Muna member said.

The victim's terror stories

In Catbalogan alone, the police have recorded, as of March 31, a total of seven (not to mention those unrecorded) abductions and killings occurred in the remote villages, and some even in the Poblacion of Catbalogan.

In the morning of April 02, this year, a security guard identified as certain Dario Carcellar y Castillo, 33 years old, married wished to put in the police records that a certain 2nd Lieutenant Albert Basquiñas of the Military Intelligence Battalion Group allegedly boxed him four times hitting his breast and head for the motive of suspecting him as NPA member.

Later at night, one Cristina Abalos y Quinawayan, 35, single and resident of KM-2 South Road, Brgy Guindapunan, this town, reported to the police that her father Patricio Abalos, of legal age, was abducted in the evening of March 28.  She later found out that her abducted father, after a thorough search, was in the custody of the Military Intelligence Battalion Group of the 8th Infantry Division based in Brgy Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar.

A daughter of the victim identified the team leader who arrested her father even without warrant of arrest as certain Lieutenant Basquiñas of the MIB of the 8ID. The suspect was also named by another complainant Oliver Abalos of KM‑2 South Road, Catbalogan, Samar as the same person who led the 6-man team who forcibly entered and search his house on March 31, 2005.

Three days later, on April 05, at around 7:15 p.m., a certain Adelaida Cabadora y Tumagara, 26 years old, married, a resident of Sitio Mabolo Brgy. Canlapwas, Catbalogan, Samar reported and alleged that her husband Rico Cabadora, of legal age, never return home from selling taho on April 5, 2005. Mrs. Cabadora suspects that her husband was snatched by men in uniform.

One hour later on the same day, another wife identified by the police as Loreta Fabillar y Del Rosario, 56 years old, a resident of Sitio Mabolo, Brgy. Canlapwas also rushed to the Catbalogan PNP station and alleged that her two sons ‑Vivencio, 31 and Alfredo, 24 ‑ were abducted by five unidentified persons on board a dark-colored closed van. The suspects were all armed with M‑16 Armalite rifles, the complainant said.

Also in the same date and place, Francisca Laboc y Cabijan, 50 years old, also alleged that her son Jaime, 23 years old, married, was also abducted by the same group at gun point. Few days later, the bodies of the two abducted persons were seen in Brgy. Canticum, Calbiga, Samar already dead.

In the different stories of the victims recorded in the police log book, it was notably observed by the Catbaloganons the use of the suspects of military uniforms, government issued M‑16 Armalite rifles, and the bravery of the suspects to operate in broad day light.

The abductions and killings continues

Another killings and salvaging happened in the previous days were the shooting to death of the former rebel now outstanding cooperative leader and agrarian reform beneficiary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Rodrigo Sugalan in Paranas, Samar.

In Catbalogan, Samuel Dote, a rebel returnee and employee of LGU-Catbalogan, was shot to death by still unidentified assassins while riding on his motorbike on his way to office.

A known social issue activist Oscar Cabacang was also reportedly abducted this week but fortunately released by his abductors the following day. He refused, though, to tell his ordeal as of the moment.

Of this writing, several unconfirmed reports on abductions continue to reach to the local authorities and media. Local residents are afraid of the black van and motorcycle with no plate number roaming around the town of Catbalogan forcing suspicious civilians to go with them somewhere else. Most of the supposed victims declined to be identified and named the suspects.

Of these developments, the Sangguniang Bayan of Catbalogan has appealed to civilians to take extra careful and to be vigilant always. The SB office has also directed the police authorities to investigate and solve the crime incidents happening within the town jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Catbalogan PNP Chief of Police Inspector Gaudencio Vencio has also expressed alarm to the developments in Catbalogan. For so long a time, he had been keeping this place safe and peaceful but now ruined by these people terrorizing the civilians under his jurisdiction. He always urged the victims to file and sign affidavit of complaints in order for them to act.

"Pero wala talaga, ayaw nila gawin yun... siguro sa takot. Well, I cannot blame them, sino ba naman ang hindi matatakot dyan sa mga nangyayari ngayon ", Insp. Vencio told this writer reassuring that they will continue conducting their nightly patrol.

"We also wish to help but our hands were tied off unless the victims and the civilians cooperate," Insp. Vencio stressed. "I urged them (the victims) not to be afraid but instead fight for their freedom and safety," he disclosed.

For several occasions, the 8th Infantry Division based in Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan has previously denied the involvement of the troops in the menace plaguing the different towns of Samar. An Army official of the 8ID said "We are disciplined soldier and we cannot do the acts done by the abductors and killers of the said incidents,” the Army official who preferred to hide his name and his unit said.

The Division’s Commanding General, MajGen Jovito S. Palparan has also earlier denied any of the incidents but pointed to the enemy as possible perpetrators.  He also showed strong commitments to get rid of all the enemy of state.  “Soldiery is my role, war is my game”, General Palparan was quoted by the media as saying.





Villagers in Samar accused military for abuses

April 14, 2005

SAN JORGE, Samar   ‑ Some 600 residents of the five hinterland villages of this municipality seek the intervention of the Human Right groups and concerned government officials for the abuses allegedly committed by the Army's 34th Infantry Battalion Special Operations Team (SOT) stationed in Brgy. Erenas, this locality.

As a result, many residents of these villages already evacuated and transferred to another place leaving behind their farms, animals and belongings for fear that the military will kill them as they were being suspected as supporters of the local New People's Army.

As this developed, these residents coming from the villages of Sinit‑an, Guadalupe, Hernandez, Bay‑ang and Bungliw, having a total population of 776, led by their respective Barangay officials, sought an audience with Mayor Joseph V. Grey and his Sangguniang Bayan members. They also wish to see Samar Governor Milagrosa T. Tan and Samar First District Representative Reynaldo Uy to air their grievances against the "inhumane" treatment of the military to the barrio folks.

Entire town officials' hike to get villagers' complaints

In behalf of Mayor Grey, Vice‑Mayor Marcelina D. Yu and the entire Sangguniang Bayan members, the DA, PNP, all of San Jorge and this writer on Thursday (April 7) hiked up and trekked the said villages, which is almost 17 kilometers away from the poblacion proper, to personally hear the complaints of the villagers. Lieutenant Loki Marco, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), who represented the 34th IB was also with the group to counter‑check the complaints.

The group first arrived in Brgy. Sinit‑an around 11 a.m., and shortly after taking lunch, they gathered the remaining barrio folks and asked them what realty happened. Residents of the village told the town officials that their neighbors, twenty‑seven (27) houses all‑in‑all, have already migrated to other places except for the last three houses whose house‑owners cannot leave their house and their farmlands.

Residents further narrated that there were only eight of them in the village now remained. The entire village's surroundings such as church, primary school, basketball court and plaza, which were previously full of happy residents ‑ young and old ‑ are now filled with silence. Most of the houses were close and a band of military personnel, whose length of stay in said place is still unknown, dominated some of the houses.

"Waray na gud an iba magpahawid paglakat dinhi Sir, kay nahadlok ha mga military, guintarhog man gud kami dinhi. Duha na gud nga kapitan dinhi an guinpatay han waray pa kakilal‑i nga mga suspetsado, hino pa man an deri mahadlok hito nga sitwasyon, Sir?” A certain ‘Reah’, the village Sangguniang Kabataan president told this writer.

When the group visited the villages of Guadalupe, Hernandez and Bungliw respectively, the barrio folks aired the same complaints. The presence of a military official (Lt. Marco) in each meeting, who always denied any involvement of the military in the incidents, did not hinder the barrio folks to tell the town officials their grievances.

The abuses according to barrio folks

Among the complaints aired by the residents was the following: In Bungliw, Chairman Alex Bildad and his constituents accused the military of harassing and threatening to kill them if they will not cooperate to the military. "Nagsiring hira (Army) nga ha usa pa ha ira an ma-ambush, napulo nga barriohanon an kabalyo. Ngan kun deri ngani daw kami magsumat kun hino ngan hain an mga NPA, susunogin daw nira an amon baryo, asya nga nangaro dayon kami bulig ha municipyo," Bildad said which claim was supported by his constituents surrounding him.

Residents and village officials of Guadalupe and Hernandez also accused the military of violating their rights as human being. They said, some military men did not pay their order at the store, never return borrowed house belongings, directing women on their way to climb a coconut tree for them and prohibiting them to sleep at nighttime in farmlands away from their homes.

“Mayda pa nira mga tarhug nga an molupyo nga deri nadaop han ira patawag nga meeting, kontra daw nira, sanglit bisan kami may mga buruhaton pa nadaop gud dayon kami para deri kami mapagkamalan nga mga NPA,” a lady-resident in Brgy. Hernandez said.

When asked if they were sure the culprits are military, they said "Sure gud kami tungod han ira logo nga 34th IB nga nakabutang ha ira mga uniform." In fact, they said, they can identify some if they will see them again.

Meanwhile, sources said the sudden increase of the alleged military abuses in the hinterland villages of San Jorge, Samar begun right after the ambush incident occurred in Brgy. Palencia, Tarangnan, Samar last March 3, 2005 wherein one of the military belonging to the 34th IB was killed. The perpetrators, believed to be members of the New People's Army from Eastern Samar, reportedly used the route passing the villages of Sinit‑an‑Guadalupe‑Hernandez and Bungliw in their escape against the pursuit of the Army reinforcement.

Few days after the ambush incident, reports came out that the house of a local resident located near the ambush site was burned including the couple resulting to their death. The Nipa house‑owner is being suspected having participation with the ambush. Up to now, there are no claimants as to who is responsible to both incidents.

On March 12, or nine (9) days after the ambush incident, a certain Benito ‘Bening’ Mabini, Chairman of Brgy. Sinit‑an was killed by several unidentified persons using a .45 caliber pistol. The victim who was the successor of the slain former village Chief Rolando Mabini, was shot in close range while resting inside his house around 6:30 p.m., the same day. Right after this incident, the villagers, horrified with the series of killings in their village, begun migrating to other places carrying all belongings they can bring.

The Army's hands off

When asked for comments, the Army's 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan, Samar has separately and repeatedly denied all of the accusations lodged by the villagers. Despite the voluminous complaints against several military personnel in the area, still, some officials of the 8th ID belie the reports saying it's just a handiwork of the left leaning propagandist of the enemy of the Philippine government.

Lieutenant Loki Marco of the 34th IB, and who accompanied the group of town officials of San Jorge who proceeded the complaining villages, repeatedly denied the participation of the government's men in uniform. He said, there were many other groups like the NPA who wore their uniforms and sow terror against the civilians.

"Hindi naman gagawin ng mga military yang mga sinansabi nyo eh, kasi nandidito po ang military para protektahan po kayo at hindi para takutin lang," Lt. Marco told village officials and residents in front of the listening town officials of San Jorge.

He further added that, "at kung totoo man po na sinabi talaga nila yun, I'm sure psy‑war lang nila yun at hindi ibig sabihin na gagawin talaga ng military ang ganun. Ngayon, kung wala naman po kayong kasalanan itinatago, eh bakit naman po kayo matatakot at aalis, di ba?” The Army official asked.

At every end of the Army‑town officials‑residents caucus, the government‑sent group advised the latter to lodge a formal complaint in writing addressed to the Commanding Officer of the 34th Infantry Battalion stationed in Brgy. Erenas or addressed to the Sangguniang Bayan of San Jorge for a possible conduct of investigation.

Meanwhile, upon learning the feedback and report of the town officials, Mayor Grey immediately requested to seek an audience with the newly Commander of the 34 IB to discuss with the said official whatever possible measures to undertake. He promised to give proper and just action to both parties if ever the allegations are true.

In a related development, the third kagawad of Brgy. Sinit‑an identified as Paquito ‘Paking’ Mana, who is one of the remaining eight persons in the village is scheduled to take his oath as the new punong Barangay before Mayor Grey anytime this week. He was convinced to take the post since the first and second kagawads of the village refused to take over after the death of the previous two village chiefs. Mayor Grey is optimistic that residents of the deserted village will go back to their farmlands and their respective houses after the completion of the village officials.





Special police group formed to stop church-lootings

April 14, 2005

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo  – The Philippine National Police created “Task Force Bantay Simbahan" last March 31 in response to a suspected organized robbery of antique religious artifacts in the region.

Senior Supt. Wesley Barayoga, operations chief of the PNP Region VI said the group is tasked to investigate the series of thefts as well as identify and arrest the culprits. "The cases are already alarming and we need to take bold steps to prevent another theft of religious images," he said.

Senior Supt. Reynaldo Rafal, the chief of the PNP directorial staff in Western Visayas, heads the task force composed of all intelligence units of the PNP, including operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). Rafal said they are now working closely with church officials.

As of last count, seven churches and a private house were victimized. The latest incident was last March 28 when a silver monstrance, silver chalice and the silver crown of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary were stolen from the church in Igbaras, Iloilo.

Incidents of missing artifacts in the churches and a private house were reported as early as November 27, 2004 when a two-foot antique image of the Santo Niño was stolen from the parish church of Tigbauan, Iloilo.

Two-days later, an 18th century image of St. Agustine inside the parish church in Santa Barbara, Iloilo was beheaded. The head was made of ivory. In January 30 of this year, the ivory head and arms of the Santo Niño was stolen from the parish church in Bugasong, Antique.

It was the second theft involving the said image. In 1984, the image was stolen and was sold for P4 million to the Agencia de Empeños in Iloilo City. It was recovered after two years. The two-and-half feet icon was given by Queen Isabela of Spain in 1703 to two Spanish businessmen, Don Simon Barcelo and Don Marcilona dela Cruz, who donated it to the church in Bugasong. 

The Jalbuenas, owners of the life-size Santo Entiero (Dead Christ) which is displayed during processions every Good Friday, discovered that the antique decorations of their 18th century carriage were missing on March 15.

At Lezo, Aklan, a gold-plated monstrance with the consecrated host was stolen from the Perpetual Adoration Chapel while a bronze-plated ciborium inside the St. Isidore, The Farmer church was also discovered missing by Fr. Carlos Retorico after the second mass last March 20, a Palm Sunday.

The antique wooden heads of St. Thomas de Villanueva and Sr. San Roque were stolen from the parish church of Dao, Capiz on a Black Saturday, March 26.

Monsignor Meliton Oso, director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center said they are now looking at the option of placing all church valuables at the Archdiocesan Museum at the Archbishop's Palace in Jaro district in Iloilo City, but Oso said it is not big enough to accommodate all antique images.

Meanwhile both church and police authorities have advised the parishes to hire more security guards if they have valuables inside their churches and for parishioners to be on the look-out for the missing items.

Last year, a wave of burglaries victimizing churches in Cebu has prompted Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal to issue a circular, calling on parish officials to deposit valuable items with the Archbishop's Palace or the Archdiocesan Museum.





Boracay firemen appeal for support

April 12, 2005

BORACAY ISLAND, Malay, Aklan – The world-renowned resort island badly needs adequate fire-fighting equipment. Senior Fire Officer Ronald Retoriano, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in this island, stressed the urgent need for an efficient and reliable fire truck and other fire-fighting equipment in his appeal addressed to provincial and national officials.

BFP-Boracay has one fire truck manned by ten personnel. It is parked at the fire station near the flea market which was ironically razed by fire last January 21. That fire which gutted about P200-million worth of properties displaced some 100 families, mostly vendors.

Retoriano said the scale of that fire incident underlined their helplessness, making them inefficient in their duties and responsibilities. His sentiments were allayed by Pres. Gloria Arroyo who visited the island a day after the incident with a promise to provide better fire-fighting facilities.

The local fire chief said his appeal is justified considering that the island has helped much in boosting national coffers because of its revenues in tourism alone.

“It is ironic that Boracay has contributed billions to the national government but they failed to invest in a P1.5 million fire truck,” he added.

At present, BFP-Boracay is strictly requiring hotels and resorts to install adequate fire-fighting provisions, particularly fire hoses and water pumps prior to the issuance of a fire-safety permit which is necessary to operate their businesses.

Additional fire hydrants are also installed near major hotels and resorts with the support of the Boracay Water and Sewerage System and the local government. The Boracay Foundation Inc., a private organization is also organizing a volunteer fire brigade in the island.

Four fire incidents were recorded last month including a reception house of a hotel and a warehouse.





6 soldiers died in Calbiga ambush

April 9, 2005 | 3:05pm

CATBALOGAN, Samar  -  An army officer and 5 of his men were killed in an ambush-encounter yesterday with a group of New Peoples Army (NPA) while having their usual combat operations in the vicinity of Brgy Caamlongan, Calbiga, Samar at around 2:26 in the afternoon, military sources said.

The casualties whose names still withheld by the military as of press time until their relatives are properly informed, belongs to the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the 8th ID based in Brgy. Panayuran, Calbiga, Samar under the command of Lt. Col. Reynaldo Celso Lanuzo.

A 10 minutes firefight ensued during the ambush but the six army men were outnumbered by the NPAs which resulted to the death of the army soldiers.

In fleeing, the NPAs took with them six M-16 armalite riffles and a .45 caliber pistol belonging to the victims.

Prior to the incident, the soldiers were conducting a tour of duty in Brgy Caamlongan and departing just 500 meters away from the barangay proper the ambush took place. Brgy Caamlongan is remotely located and can be reached by a 3 hours hike from the town proper of Calbiga.

Military reinforcements were immediately dispatched with 2 helicopter gunships to the ambush area and a hot pursuit operation against the perpetrators is still underway as of press time.

The 62nd Infantry Battalion was only in their 2nd week of assignment in the area, and was previously assigned in Eastern Samar.

Bodies of the dead soldiers now lie at Funeraria Gomez in Catbalogan before bringing them to Camp Lukban in Maulong for vigils.





Priest appeals for the return of missing church items

April 4, 2005

LEZO, Aklan   –  Fr. Carlos Retorico, parish priest of the St. Isidore The Farmer church here is appealing for the return of the items stolen from his church last March 19.

A gold-plated monstrance from the church’s adoration chapel and a bronze-plated ciborium inside the church were found missing by Fr. Retorico after the second mass last March 20, a Palm Sunday.

The incident was immediately reported to police authorities who are still investigating the case. Ironically, the church is only about 100 meters away from the police station and the town hall.

Fr. Retorico appealed to the robbers to return the sacred items saying, “Those items do not have any significant market value but for our parishioners, those are priceless for its worth in the practice of our faith.” He also asked the help of the community to locate the items.

Monstrance, in the Roman Catholic Church, is a vessel used to hold the Host (bread consecrated in the Lord’s Supper, a central rite) when exposed at benediction or in processions. A ciborium is a vessel used in the Roman Catholic Church for reserving the consecrated host (bread and wine) and distributing Holy Communion. The ciborium resembles a chalice, has a conical cover, and is made of metal with a gilded interior.

The monstrance is kept locked inside the chapel while the ciborium was inside a wooden cabinet inside the church.

Lezo Police Chief Querubin Ramos said they are checking out all angles related to the robbery, including an inside-job motive. Investigation reports showed that the still unidentified suspect must have sneaked inside the church’s premises in the evening of March 19. The chapel doors were allegedly left unintentionally open on that night while police believed the suspect used a small opening beside the church to steal the ciborium.



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