Petition for the return of Balangiga Bells
By R SONNY SAMPAYAN (USAF-Ret)
BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar
- On May 8, 2005,
the Diocese of Borongan and the Balangiga Parish launched a petition
addressed to the Helsinki Commission, the United States Congress and to
President Bush calling for the return of the Balangiga church bells that
were removed in 1901. On May 17, 2005, the GLOBAL petition was launched on
On March 26, 2005, during
the Wyoming Veterans’ Commission meeting, the commission courageously voted
to return the church bells. One of the Commissioners who strongly opposed
the return of the bells in 1998 made a statement to support the return of
the church bells. In his statement, retired US Air Force Lt Col Joseph
Sestak said, “Returning the bells is the right thing to do in light of the
present international climate and the fact that many nations are now
returning artifacts or booty to the nations from which they came."
Also in attendance of the
meeting was Jean Wall, the daughter of Private Gamlin, a soldier who
survived the ordeal in Balangiga. Jean Wall appealed to those who opposed
the return of the bells and said: “I don’t think my father and his comrades
who survived that horrible ordeal at Balangiga would be proud of any other
decision but to send the bells home and close the book on that chapter of
our history." “I am sure that the majority of Americans today, both
military and civilian, want to act upon those ideals that America was
founded on in a manner that sets an example of compassionate and democratic
society," she added.
Before the December 3, 2004
and March 26, 2005 meeting in
Bishop Medroso has been “troubling heaven by making shameless cries.” Bishop
Medroso added, “For me what happened on
September 28, 1901 was not a freak accident,” he said. “It was the work
of history. And history oftentimes has a way of joining two people together,
two countries, and two races. The encounter, the bloody combat, the
senseless loss of lives of our dear ones, the hate, the nightmares, all
these are part of the unfolding of history.
“But so also is the struggle
to understand each other, to let go of hate and animosities, to extend the
open hands for pardon and forgiveness, to embrace one another as brothers
and sisters. “The Bells of Balangiga have stood as the mute yet faithful
witness to the history of the two countries: America and the Philippines;
history of two communities: Wyoming and Balangiga."
The general public is
welcomed to electronically sign the petition and make a special thanks to
the Wyoming Veterans’ Commission, simply go to
http://www.petitiononline.com/bells05/ Comments are welcomed but please
avoid using inflammatory language.
Military operation hampers
“bayanihan” project in Villareal
By ALVIN T. DEVARAS
May 22, 2005
VILLAREAL, Samar - Local
populace of this town complained on the continued military “psy ops” against
suspected local criminals, leaders, and members of militant groups as well
as suspected New Peoples Army (NPA) members, sympathizers and supporters in
Residents claim that this
military operation affects the on-going “bayanihan” project spearheaded by
Villareal Mayor Renato “Boy” Latorre, Bayan Muna-Samar provincial chairman.
According to them, this 8-km road project initiated by the local residents
in coordination with Villahanon Association in Metro-Manila (VAMM),
Villahanons-International and Gugma han Samar Cyberspace Movement that
started sometime in 2004, is temporarily stopped by because some of the
volunteers refrained from reporting to work for fear that they might be
suspected as supporters of the terrorist group after the military alleged
that red fighters are among the volunteers.
Residents also said that
they were forced to momentarily impede said project as Mayor Latorre, who is
the over-all supervisor of the road construction project, left for manila
for fear of his life after the series of abductions and killings of
prominent militant personalities in
Residents are saddened with
this sudden stoppage of construction work and panicked that donors might as
well cease extending financial and material support. According to them, the
project was made possible because of the financial, material donations and
free labor volunteers with a very minimal counterpart from the local
government of the municipality.
For 40 years they have
dreamed of having a concrete road network that they believe would deliver
them from long time economic stagnation. They claimed that their
municipality has been neglected by previous and present national and
provincial elected officials and it is only during the administration of
Latorre that a project like this was initiated without the help of the
national and provincial governments.
The 8th Infantry Division,
based in Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan,
Samar, vehemently denied the allegations. Maj. Gen. Jovito S.
Palaparan, 8ID’s commanding general, counters that these are just all staged
by individuals or groups wanting to destroy the good image of the Army in
Villagers dessert Calbiga
|By BRYAN M.
May 21, 2005
CALBIGA, Samar – Hundreds
of residents evacuated from upland barangays of this town in separate
occasions to allay fears of alleged atrocities and threats of armed men in
their respective villages.
This was learned after the
local government finally divulged that it is experiencing problem as to how
they could attend to the needs of the evacuees.
The escaping people were
from barangays Tono, Literon, Caamlongan, Guinbanga, Hindang, Bulwan and
Binanggaran. These people alleged that they decided to leave their own homes
and barangays due to fears and actual atrocities being made by armed men.
There were claims that the armed men are members of the government troops.
The local government however
could not identify the perpetrators of the asserted violence in the
above-mentioned barangays. “These are just mere allegations so there really
is no ground whatsoever to pinpoint that these are caused by military,” said
an official who asked not to be named. “Any uniformed men with weapons can
be suspected as military,” he said.
The 8th Infantry Division
meanwhile belied the allegations saying that these are just perpetrated by
those who want to destroy the good image of the Army in the region and even
in the area. Capt. Cromwell Danganan, chief of the Civil Military Operation
of 8ID said that there is no way the military can do this. “ The Philippine
Army is strictly following the guidelines set by Major General Jovito
Palparan to gain the trust and confidence of the locales,” he stressed.
Palparan is the commanding general of the division based in Brgy. Maulong,
The Philippine Army had been
had been implicated also in the killings and assaults against members of
In a media conference with
the Catbalogan Media Adocates Nucleus (CCATMAN), Palaparan pointed out that
the Army in the region has nothing to do with all the crimes being committed
against members of caused oriented groups like Bayan, Anakpawis, Courage and
To recall with, some
barangays in the municipalities of San Jorge and Tarangnan had been
desolated because of the same threats and harassments perpetrated by armed
personnel also claimed to be military. An investigating led by the local
government of San Jorge and members of the 34th Infantry Batallion based in
the said town is on the process to dig is as to who should be held liable
for these dispersals.
As of the moment, town’s
officials of Calbiga are worried the government could not provide the basic
necessities of these evacuees. Food had been the primary concern because the
municipality has no sufficient funds. Congressmen Catalino Figueroa of
Samar’s 2nd District and Eastern Samar’s Marcelino Libanan donated P10,000
each for the refugees.
Majority of the people are
now temporarily residing with relatives and friends in the town. Others are
reported to live in the neighboring towns Pinabacdao and Villareal.
others, seize hot logs in Tacloban
By ALVIN T. DEVARAS
May 21, 2005
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte - At around 7:00 AM of May 11,
2005, joint elements of the Anti-illegal Logging Task Force (ALTF),
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-8), Maritime Group
(MARIG-8), Tacloban City police and Police Regional Office (PRO-8), seized
and confiscated 75,847.14 board feet of illegal lumber.
The apprehending team was
directly supervised by ALTF chief Gen. Dacudag; PNP Regional Director,
C/Supt. Dionesio Coloma Jr.; PNP Tacloban chief, Supt. Arnulfo Cruz; MARIG-8
chief, S/Supt. Domingo V. Castro; and, Mr. Felipe S. Calub of DENR-8.
The shipper, identified as
Mario Saragoza utilizing a “batil,” transported the hot items on a wooden
sea vessel marked M/V Robin-I owned by Rodolfo Robin that arrived Tacloban
City port at around 7:00 pm of May 8, 2005 from Tandubas, Tawi-tawi. Said
vessel also docked at port of Culasi, Roxas on March 18, this year. The
Philippine Port Authority-Culasi granted the captain of the ship, Estacio
Patino, and his fourteen-crew members, clearance before finally proceeding
to Tacloban City.
Allegedly, the hot lumber/flitches
were supposed to be delivered to a consignee identified as Mr. Nelson Padua,
a local businessman and proprietor of Nel’s Lumber who is also a dealer of
tan barks sourced from
Mindanao. M/V Robin was supposed to dock at a wharf owned by Mr.
located in Brgy. Anibong and in Brgy.
San Jose. However, the shipment was instead diverted to the city’s
port due to shallow waters in both wharfs.
Although the shipment was
complete with necessary papers and had gone through the regular process and
duly signed by the DENR secretary of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),
the apprehending team proceeded with their confiscation and seizures citing
the failure of the shipper to specifically declare the point of destination.
Meanwhile, Gen. Dacudag
maintained that the shipment was illegal citing president Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo’s declaration for a total log ban moratorium nationwide last December
8, 2004. He also cited the memorandum dated
January 28, 2005 issued to all DENR regional directors canceling all
permits for the commercial disposal of prior cut logs.
Most of the seized items are dipterocarp species with an
estimated market value of P2,275,414.20. The apprehending team also
confiscated a high bim trailer owned by Susan Sy supposed to be used for
hauling said lumber/flitches.
LGU spearheaded tilapia seeding
in San Jose De Buan
- Through the initiative of
the Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP)and the Local Government Unit of
San Jose de Buan and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
Province of Samar, approximately 100,000 telapia fingerlings were seeded
along the San Jose de Buan River on May 11, 2005. The seeding was
spearheaded by the Mayor of San Jose de Buan, Honorable Ananias S. Rebato
with Vice-Mayor Bertino Orale, Hon. Vivencio Llantos and MAO Apra D.
Obinguar and other municipal officials.
The BFAR Provincial Office in
Catbalogan, Samar, gave the fingerlings while SIBP and the Local Government
of San Jose de Buan provided the assistance needed in the release and
transport of the fingerlings from Babatngon, Leyte to San Jose de Buan,
Samar. The seeding is part of the BFAR, SIBP and LGU thrust to improve the
life of the upland residents. During the seeding, Engr. Ay-ay encourage the
people of San Jose de Buan to venture into Tilapia culture as alternative
No less than SIBP Project
Manager Manolito D. Ragub, supported the realization of the seeding as a
commitment of the project to improve the socio-economic status of the upland
communities. Mayor Rebato on the other hand expressed his appreciation for
the assistance extended to his constituents including the Abaca demo farm
located also in the municipality of San Jose de Buan which aims to improve
the technology of producing and processing of Abaca industry in the area.
This was made through the joint efforts of SIBP and FIDA.
The Mayor added
that he envisioned of making San Jose de Buan to be self sufficient their
protein need in the future through this Telapia seeding. Mayor Rebato called
for the cooperation of his constituents to support this noble initiative by
way of stopping illegal fishing practices like using “tuble”, electrocution
of fish and using small eye nets which endanger their river ecosystem.
Is mining really banned now in Samar?
CHITO DELA TORRE
(April 28, 2005) CATBALOGAN, Samar - The local
media are left in a quandary, and so are several concerned citizens: if
indeed mining is a big no in Samar, why does the government continue to
accept and publish applications for mining?
Two top officers of the 25-member Catbalogan
Cable Television Media Advocates Nucleus (CCATMAN) have been asking for two
weeks now if there’s teeth to a recent pronouncement by a highly placed
official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that
definitely no mining operation will be allowed in
Their prodding seemed to have reached only deaf ears.
CCATMAN president Ray P. Gaspay, also website
publisher of Samar News.com which caters to some Filipino communities
abroad, and board chairman Bryan M. Azura, station manager of 92.1 Hot FM
radio here, did not succeed in their attempts to get an explanation from the
Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) which holds office in
The bureau chief in the region could not be
put on the other end of the telephone line by his office staff to answer
questions raised in a live broadcast of Binalyu-ay Ha Udto, a daily
radio program of Catbalogan’s one and only FM station.
Gaspay and Azura have been
supportive of local anti-mining efforts, particularly in light of the
moratorium on mining called for by the Samar Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The
moratorium ordinance, calling for a stop of mining activities for 50 years,
was authored by Board Member Joseph Escober.
Sometime in March, DENR Undersecretary De
Castro told Azura that the DENR will no longer allow mining operations.
Later, the CCATMAN learned that applications for Mineral Production Sharing
Agreement (MPSA) by Ferro Management & Consultancy Group, Inc. in the areas
of Motiong, Jiabong, Catbalogan and Calbayog City were received by the MGB
and one was published last April 7 in the Leyte-Samar Daily Express
Asked about any next move, Gaspay and Azura
remarked: “How can the media move with success when even the government
authorities themselves are being ignored?”
Nevertheless, Gaspay said,
the CCATMAN will try to consult its own members again whether they could
first get an “advocacy orientation” from the SIBP. The advocacy strategy, he
said, will hopefully enable the media to define its collective stand which
may yet reinforce local exhortations by government officials and the civil
Perhaps the mining
executives themselves who are operating or granted permits to operate in
Samar should make contact with the CCATMAN to explain their side of the
issues involved, other media officers hinted during the radio broadcast a
Months ago, non-government
organizations behind the Samar Island Biodiversity Foundation (SIBF) and
providing elbow support for the Samar Island Biodiversity Project (SIBP)
which is crusading for final legislation declaring by law over 330,000
hectares of Samar Island as a natural park, disclosed in a forum with the
CCATMAN that mining activities have already been going on despite the
According to Don Mabulay,
president of An Tandaya, one of the miners is the Bauxite Resources Inc.
which is headed by Benjamin Guingona, brother of former Vice-President of
the Philippines Teofisto Guingona.
Earlier, SP member Susano
Salurio told the media that last July, 2004, the provincial board passed a
resolution asking then DENR Secretary Elisea Gozon to cancel the franchise
of Bauxite, per the recommendation of DENR regional executive director
Leonardo Sibbaluca, while the Regional Development Council in its own
resolution urged President Gloria Arroyo that the firm’s permit to explore
be stopped. Salurio said that the SP has also pushed with the filing of
temporary restraining order (TRO).
Salurio said that he and
Atty. Yong of the provincial government of
Samar, suggested to the 38 punong barangay from San Jorge who were
attending the recent Lakbay Aral in
Luzon to pass resolutions
denouncing mining attempts in barangays Gayondato, Bangon, Matalud and
Cagtotolo in their town as they will surely be “greatly affected later”.
Salurio warned that the
Blanca Aurora Falls, one of the dazzling tourist attractions in San Jorge,
will soon be dead because poison from mining will cause its death and that
of the tributaries up to the next town of Gandara.
The barangay chieftains
assured Salurio that they would pass a resolution through their Liga (the
association of barangay chairmen).
“Why does the government
allow (mining) against the will of the people?” Salurio asked the media.
Informed by Gene Navilon of
Radyo Ng Bayan DYOG-Calbayog of the presence months ago of a mining
equipment in San Jose de Buan, Salurio was prompted to comment that the
local government unit seemed to be pro-mining.
Salurio said that someone in
that interior town received an occupancy fee of P350,000 and that a certain
Sangguniang Bayan member even behaved like a foreman for the “exploration
stage” of BRI whose technical people - geodetic engineer Joel Pedrano, a
certain mister Vargas, a driver and another man - were already hiring local
manpower at P200 a day.
The four, he said, had even
already gone to the upper part of San Jorge also to conduct a survey. Hence,
he said, he told the village chiefs to stop them.
CCATMAN secretary Rommel
Rutor suggested in that forum that the Church should also explain why it
remains divided on mining. He cited as a case of division the weekly
broadcast of a pro-mining program over Radyo Diwa in Tacloban which is run
and managed by a section of the Church.
Don’s 4 fronts
In that same forum, Mabulay
announced that a so-called “4 fronts” were being launched by the An Tandaya
Mabulay said these are as follows: One -
advocacy within government agencies and offices, including the MGB, that it
is “their duty”; two - media advocacy, which will be systematic in its
dissemination in order to create public debate and a pronounced public
opinion; three - information education campaign among Samarnons,
particularly on the damaging and disastrous effects of mining; and four -
discourage potential investors.
Mabulay hinted that one way to discourage
investors is to enable them to realize that the mining business here is not
profitable. “BRI is only a business firm,” he said.
April 22 is Earth Day
PURIFICACION S. DALOOS
Leyte - Earth Day, which began in 1970, is now being celebrated every
22nd day of April by millions of people worldwide. This year 2005 is its 35th
anniversary, and around the world, hundreds of thousands of non-governmental
organizations, governments, teachers, and faith groups among others, are
making part to declare that they are part of something extraordinary: a
worldwide movement to protect our planet, our children and our future.
This year, Earth Day
Network’s theme is “Protect Our Children and Our Future”. This is to call
on all concerned sectors to extend their part in ensuring that children
everywhere are healthy, educated and free from oppression.
This Earth Day, hundreds of
major events will take place around the world. In the Philippines,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Offices throughout the
country spearhead various activities for the celebration. This is in line
with Proclamation No. 553 issued by then President Corazon C. Aquino on
April 16, 1990.
In region 8, activities
include: coastal clean-up along Ormoc Bay; pintakasi for the clean up
of Barangays 70 in Rawis and 77 in Marasbaras, Tacloban City; ecological
solid waste management symposium in Ormoc City, ecological solid waste
management summit for the province of Leyte; environmental awareness
campaign for the Miss Eastern Visayas Earth contestants, press conferences,
featuring earth day information in the DENR’s regular radio program Huni Han
Kagugub-an over DYDW, among others.
These activities involve the
local government units of Ormoc and Tacloban City; industries and private
establishments like the Nestle Philippines, Fast Cargo; non-government
organizations like the Pollution Control Officers Association of the Phil.,
the media; government agencies like the Philippine Information agency and
Regional Executive Director
Leonardo Sibbaluca, lauds the cooperation of all sectors on the Department’s
environmental programs. He also urged all citizens throughout the region to
take part in the celebration by coming up with relevant activities in their
Earth Day serves as an
occasion to pay tribute to Mother Earth as well as to renew dedication to
current efforts to enhance awareness and concern of the world-wide