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2 Samar military raids kill 4 NPA rebels

LGU officials silent on Samar militarization

Petition for the return of Balangiga Bells launched

Villagers in Samar accused military for abuses

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




Palapag quarrying regulation illegal

By MARICOR O. POTOT, UEP Student Intern
July 9, 2005

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  - The Provincial Legal Office of Northern Samar rendered last May 30, 2005 an answer to the request of Honorable Manuel Aoyang, Vice-Mayor of Palapag, Northern Samar, for a legal opinion with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on whether the Municipal Government has the authority to regulate Sand and Gravel extractions and other quarrying resources.

In a three-paged letter, Provincial Legal Officer Eduardo Potot, explained in full details the legal antecedents for intelligible comprehension of the laws and regulations covering the obligation of the Local Government Unit (LGU).

Atty. Potot stressed that the power to regulate and collect quarry taxes belongs solely to the Provincial Government as mandated under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 and in RA 7942 or The Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

“Viewing all the laws relative to the disposition of our mineral resources, there is currently no single provision of law that has given the Municipal Local Government Unit authority to exact taxes on the extraction of these mineral resource neither it is allowed to regulate the extraction of the same,” Atty. Potot elucidated in an interview.

Other members of the provincial attorney’s office said that the Municipality of Palapag should first ask Congress to amend RA 7160, if it wants to exact quarry taxes in their area.

Moreover, Atty. Potot advised the Municipality of Palapag that the exaction of the taxes on the extraction of sand and gravel and other quarry materials under the guise of a regulatory ordinance is illegal.

The Municipality of Palapag took over the collection of quarry taxes deemed as regulatory fees in their area as early as 1991 through the enactment of Resolution No. 08 Series of 1991 issued by the municipality.

Atty. Potot clarified that the enactment of Resolution No. 08 series of 1991 did not pass the review of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as shown on the records; thus, it is considered null and void.

Also, he further clarified that delegating the collection of quarry taxes to a municipal local government unit like Palapag “would be contrary to the provision of the law.”





Former Calbayog City PNP chief is Jaycees’ outstanding police officer

July 8, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  -  Former Calbayog City PNP Chief and the current Provincial Director of Northern Samar Police Office P/Supt. Isaias B. Tonog was chosen as the country’s Most Outstanding Policeman 2004 (Commissioned Police Officer category) by the Jaycees International during the awarding rites held on June 1, 2005 at the Camp Crame Multi-purpose Hall.

Supt. Tonog during his 9-month stint as Chief of Calbayog PNP was very instrumental in neutralizing the robbery hold-up gangs operating in Samar’s 1st district and in solving the illegal drug problem in the City of Calbayog.

Tonog, in an interview, informed he was able to arrest 30 members of robbery hold-up gangs during his term as the City police chief and greatly reduced the illegal drug trade in the City, not to mention the arrests he effected on at least one member of kidnap-for-ransom group and one high profile drug dealer in the region.

The police chief said he did not expect the Jaycees would give him the award considering the charges he is now facing in court. “As the moment I’m facing 8 charges in court in line with my duty as a police officer”, he informed. But he assured that those charges will not prevent him from performing his job in enforcing law.

City Mayor Mel Sarmiento, meanwhile described Supt. Tonog as an officer who has a lot of initiatives. According to Sarmiento, Tonog is not the kind of chief who depends much from the logistics given to him by the local government but rather explores other means with which to supply his troops with their operational needs.

Sarmiento, who is very supportive of the PNP’s anti-illegal drug campaign, noted that Tonog’s performance is really outstanding compared to the previous police chief assigned to the City. He affirmed that the City’s image really changed when Tonog assumed responsibility as the city police chief.

The mayor, however, stressed the participation of the people as a great factor in the success of their anti-illegal drug campaign. According to him, the people’s awareness has already reached that level where they themselves are now the ones who feed the authorities with information on drug dealing activities in their vicinity.

The Policeman of the Year award is the third award that Tonog has received as a police officer. Earlier, the Metro Bank Foundation named him as the country’s Most Outstanding Policeman in Service while NAPOLCOM honored him as the Outstanding Policeman of the year.





Samareños want lasting peace

Peace rally held in Calbiga, Samar last June 11, 2005 expressing their support to the government and the 8th Infantry Division, Phil Army’s Anti-Insurgency program.

July 2, 2005

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  - Despite constant propaganda by the New People’s Army (NPA) discrediting the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army’s clearing operations, the 8ID led by MGen. Jovito S. Palparan Jr. is one in the belief that the NPA terrorists in the region have tremendously weakened in strength.

Many rebels have surrendered since last month, many of them exposing unacceptable rules and regulations while inside the movement. “I wasted my life inside the movement,” said one former NPA who recently surrendered to military authorities.  “Magpapakita ng maganda sa una. Sa paglaon, lumalabas ang tunay na kulay. Masiba ang mga lider sa pera na galing sa pangongotong sa mga naghihirap na mga mamamayan,” he added.

The people of Region 8 have already realized that the biggest stumbling block to progress and development is the terrorism brought by the NPA terrorists. They not only hinder investors and tourism from entering the region but are also guilty of extortion from the local government units’ Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) which is supposed to be intended for community development projects.

“We are waging a war against these terrorists,“ said Gen. Palparan.  “And we will give it to them.” The 8ID Commanding General said that the Army is not fazed by the intimidation and harassment of the CPP-NPA-NDF. “We have not only good and inspired fighting men, but the overwhelming support of the masses.  This is our advantage over them. The people are tired of their deception and extortion which has been affecting their way of living,” added MGen. Palparan.

The 8th Infantry Division is credited for the continued surrender of NPA members as well as instilling peace in the region. The fruits of their labor to reach out to communities with potential NPA influence has gained positive results. The people now know that they should help the government and the AFP in particular to fight terrorism. They will not allow the NPA to further destroy their future and those of their loved ones.

Two separate peace rallies were held on June 11 and 18, 2005 in the towns of Calbiga and Hinabangan respectively where the local officials and populace denounced the atrocities and the problems brought by the NPA at the same time showed their commitment and support to the Philippine Army and the government’s programs.





Military dispels NGO apprehensions about anti-insurgency drive

July 1, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  -  Speaking before a group of non-government organizations (NGOs), 8th Infantry Division Chief of Staff Col. Herbert Yambing, stressed the importance of civil and military cooperation in stopping the rapid loss of forest and biodiversity resources in the island as he called on DENR and NGOs to remain vigilant and to help provide information to the military on illegal logging activities inside the protected area, the SINP.  The orientation-dialogue held on June 22 at the Alpha Rho Function Hall in Catbalogan, Samar was organized by the SIBP-DENR through DENR RTD Edgardo Galleon and Project Managers Manolito Ragub and Jose Lim, in response to requests from NGO partners to arrange a meeting with the 8ID to raise the concerns of NGOs about the safety of their field staff in light of the ongoing anti-insurgency campaign by the military.

8ID PA Chief of Staff Col. Herbert Yambing, Dir. Emmanuel Veloso of PTA, DENR-8 RTD Edgardo Galeon and Ms. Chi Redaja of SIBP during the dialogue with NGO-Service Providers

While the military acknowledges the sincerity and importance of the Community Outreach Program of the SIBP, Col. Yambing pointed out that there is an immediate threat to the biodiversity resources in the SINP that can not wait for plans to be developed and implemented, and this is the continuing timber poaching within and smuggling of logs from Samar Island that strips away the once lush forest cover of the area.  He explained that the anti-insurgency operation also uncovers illegal cutting and sale of timber and non-timber forest products carried out by “carabao loggers” (marginal farmers in the uplands) who are funded by big-time financiers in the lowlands and/or in cities outside the island.

The NGOs took the opportunity to raise their concern for the safety and free entry of their field staff in selected upland communities which are currently implementing the COP, a community-based program that helps upland residents develop and implement a natural resources management plan. COP implementation has been contracted out by UNDP, SIBP’s funding partner, to ten service providers or NGOs in 62 barangays in the three provinces of Samar Island. NGOs are apprehensive that field activities will be affected by current military operations and are concerned that they are being branded as “supporters of the New People’s Army (NPAs)”.

Col. Yambing assured the NGOs that they may continue with their programs in the field but advised them to notify the nearest detachment or battalion in their area prior to entry.  He said that this must be standard practice to avert the possibility of getting caught in the crossfire should there be a planned offensive against the NPAs in their areas.  He said the military does not discount the possibility that some NGOs are being used as “fronts” by the insurgents or that some of them have become victims of “extortion” by the rebels who charge so called “access fees”.  Eventually, he said the military would be able to uncover if the NGOs working with SIBP are involved in any way in supporting the rebel movement.

“We have soldiers all over the island. If they link hands they can practically surround the whole island. The presence of the military helps a lot in protecting the forests but to be effective we need timely information from the field. You (NGOs) have the advantage of being in the field all the time. You know the people. All you need is to text or inform us through our People’s Center (located at Camp Lukban, Maulong, Catbalogan Hotline: 0921-6916967/ 0915-7744361), relevant information that will help us confiscate products or apprehend violators of the law. You can leave the rest to us. Don’t allow what happened to Aurora province happen to Samar Island”. Col. Yambing ended the dialogue with these thoughts.

SIBP Co-Project Manager Jose Lim and Foresters Crisostomo Badeo and Myron Garcia headed the Project team that organized the meeting and gave the briefing on the SIBP/SINP and the COP for the military partners.

The half-day program ended with commitments from the 8ID officials present to immediately forward a directive to their field units to facilitate the NGOs’ access in the areas.  RTD Galeon on the other hand, assured the NGOs that he will facilitate the issuance of DENR authenticated ID’s that can be worn by the service providers when conducting field activities. The NGOs for their part, agreed to get in touch with the battalion commanders nearest their area of operation for proper coordination before proceeding to the field.





10 poorest towns identified in Eastern Samar

June 30, 2005

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar  - Ten towns in Eastern Samar have been classified priority areas for development assistance by a non-government organization due to high incidence of poverty.

The Peace and Equity Foundation, Inc. (PEF) has identified the municipalities of Maslog, Gen. McArthur, Arteche, Jipapad, Quinapondan, Dolores, Salcedo, San Policarpio, Oras and Can-avid as priority after a poverty mapping study in the entire Eastern Samar province.

The study used 10 development indicators to assess the degree of poverty in the 23 towns and cities of Eastern Samar.

Poverty indexes used in the study are: households with access to potable water; those that occupy their own house and lot; those with sanitary toilets; number of children/students (elementary, high school and college); student dropout rate, and; malnutrition rate.

The study compiled data from the Provincial Planning and Development Office, Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative, National Statistics Office, Department of Education and the Samar Island Biodiversity Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The study revealed that 33 percent of households in the municipality of Maslog do not have access to potable water.

Among those in the priority list, Maslog has the most number of households that lack access to potable water.

More than half of households in the other towns in the list, though, have access to the resource.

The study also revealed that the town of Dolores has the most number of malnourished children, with 1,638 as listed by the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

Among those in the priority list, Gen. McArthur and Quinapondan have the highest number of number of households that do not have sanitation facilities.

Forty-four percent of the total number of households in the two towns do not have sanitary toilets, according to a PHO report in 2002.

Gen. McArthur also has the highest percentage of elementary dropout, with 54.3 percent.

The poverty mapping study serves as guide for PEF in evaluating proposals for assistance programs.

The Foundation began a nationwide poverty scanning in 2003 and came up with 28 priority provinces, including Eastern Samar.

Last April 26, PEF turned over to the Provincial Government of Eastern Samar the poverty map of the province.





NPA terrorists ambush soldiers in Basey

June 29, 2005

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar    –  Six (6) soldiers assigned with the 83rd Recon Company, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army and three (3) civilians on board a Lite Ace van headed for Tacloban City were ambushed by Communist Terrorists (CTs) utilizing landmines at vicinity Brgy Balanti, Basey, Samar at around 8:45am. yesterday, June 28, 2005. Two (2) soldiers were killed while four (4) soldiers were wounded. Among the fatalities were one (1) civilian killed and two (2) civilians wounded. Two (2) high powered firearms were also carted away by the CTs. The Lite Ace vehicle was destroyed by the landmine.

The soldiers of whom only two are armed and in uniform while the rest are in civilian attire together with the two wives of the soldiers and one civilian resident from a nearby barangay of Villa Aurora of Basey, were on their way to Tacloban City to procure food and supplies when they were landmined and ambushed by the NPA terrorists. The civilian casualties, whose identities are not yet determined, including the wounded soldiers, were immediately brought to a hospital in Tacloban City for treatment.

The suspects are believed to be numbering more or less thirty (30) heavily armed CTs with M60 machinegun led by Communist Terrorist Leader alias Diomy of the Southern Samar Front-2 (SSF-2) operating in the southern portion of Samar Island.

This violent incident perpetrated by the CTs was done to slow down the military in its relentless drive to expose the deceptive and evil ways of the NPA and free the civilian populace from their stranglehold. The decisiveness of MGen Palparan to eradicate/solve insurgency in the soonest possible time frantically made the CTs murder soldiers and innocent people who were just doing their mandated duty of protecting democracy.

The ambush violates the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Law (CARHRIL) signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the CPP/NPA/NDF. (Note that the militants had been repeatedly accusing MGen Palparan of ignoring the CARHRIL) Among the violations committed by the CTs during the ambush were the use of landmines and the killing and wounding of civilians not involved in armed conflict. The terrorists have a full view of the passengers of the Lite Ace who are mostly in civilian attire but still exploded the landmines and fired at the defenseless people on the said vehicle.

In his statement MGen Jovito S. Palparan Jr, Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army said, “This incident confirms that the CPP/NPA is a God-less organization and do not respect human rights. The cold-blooded murder and excessive use of force to sow fear in the hearts of the people of Samar is a trademark of a terrorist organization. Indeed, the Communist Terrorists can resort to terroristic acts with total disregard of human rights and civilian’s lives. As Commanding General of the 8ID, I condemn this murder of two soldiers and the civilian woman in the strongest possible terms. I call upon our citizens, people’s organizations and the so-called human rights groups to condemn the Communist Terrorists as well. I challenge the Bayan Muna and the militants to condemn the NPA and the Communist Party” He added “I would like to further assure the people of Region 8 that the 8th Infantry Division in close coordination with the Philippine National Police will relentlessly pursue these lawless elements who are terrorizing our people.”

The names of the casualties are withheld for the moment as the 8ID deems it necessary to inform their family first. At present, the bereaved family of the casualties and the 8th Infantry Division is preparing to file criminal and human rights charges against the perpetrators of this cruel incident.





P5M livelihood awarded by UNDP-EC to 2 POs and NGO in Samar

June 26, 2005

Kappas Inc., Olot Federation (People’s Organizations) and the Eastern Samar Development Foundation (ESADEF, an NGO) are recipients of over five million worth of assistance from the Small Grants Programme for operations to Promote Tropical Forest. The three organizations will start implementing their proposed projects in June.

The Small Grants Programme for Operations to Promote Tropical Forest or SGPPTF is an initiative of the UNDP financed by the European Commission (EC). It helps the civil society organizations execute small forest related projects.

Kappas will implement a 70-hectares pili plantation and a 20-hectare Rehabilitation Program in Mined-out Areas in Camilia and San Isidro, Paranas and in Sitio Arizona, Hinabangan, all in Western Samar.  A total of P2.226 million has been awarded to the organization to undertake the project aimed at helping rehabilitate mined out areas in Hinabangan and developing a commercial plantation of pili trees. Kappas is a federation of marginal farmers and forest users in Paranas, Samar which received continuing technical assistance from the project in farming system and livelihood development.

Another federation, the Olot Federation, a multi-sectoral aggrupation of stakeholders working for the conservation of the Olot watershed, will receive P2 million in grant for their agro-forestry project in Olot. The municipalities in Olot comprised of San Jose de Buan, Motiong, Paranas, Hinabangan in Samar and Taft and Can-avid in Eastern Samar are currently developing their watershed management plan with the assistance of the DENR and the SIBP. The agro-forestry project intends to enhance soil and water conservation measure to protect the rapid deforestation and erosion in Olot. A total grant of P2 million has been awarded by UNDP to the federation to implement the project.

ESADEF, an NGO based in Borongan, Eastern Samar, for its part was granted a P1.774 million project on Wild Honey Bee Production. The proposal was prepared in behalf of Barangay Balagon in Can-avid, Eastern Samar that will be the directly beneficiaries of the assistance. ESADEF shall extend support in organizing, capability building and marketing of the PO products.

The proposals of these three organizations were developed with technical assistance from SIBP.



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