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Samareños want lasting peace

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




Thousands join Peace Rally in Samar’s capital

August 2, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar - Thousands of people composed of barangay officials, and former members and supporters of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) converged at the Catbalogan Municipal Plaza at around 2 p.m. Sunday to decry the evils of the movement.

The rallyists, feed up with the insurgents’ deceptive tactics and false promises, waved and mouthed slogans like “Ibagsak ang CPP-NPA, Ibagsak ang Bayan Muna” and “NPA, Salut sa Lipunan”. They strongly condemned the NPA terrorists as the main cause of poverty saying they are just preying on the masses.

Augusto Daclitan, former Chairperson of Samahan ng mga Mangingisda ng Samar Laban sa Kahirapan (SAMASAKA), a fishermen’s group, recounted how he was recruited into the organization. As a fisherman, he wanted to be a part in putting an end to the illegal fishing activities in Samar’s richest fishing ground, the Maqueda Bay. Later did he realize though the real color of the group.

In one occasion, he revealed, he was told to call his group for a gathering in an undisclosed place. “Diri ako maaram kun ngain kami makadto. Nahibaru-an na la namon nga an truck nga amon ginsakyan tipakadto na ha amon ngadto ha Calbayog”. (I had no idea where we were going until the truck where we were told to embark brought us to Calbayog City). There we were lectured how we can overthrow the government, Daclitan said in the vernacular.

Narciso Pacayra, a barangay official in one of Calbiga town’s interior barangays voiced his sentiments against the NPAs, whom he said, caused a lot of troubles for his family. It all started when he was accused of being a reactionary when he failed to give money to the insurgents. According to Pacayra, his children had to quit school because he was ordered to leave Brgy. Larisyo as a consequence.

The barangay official disclosed the extortion activities of the insurgents including the collection of revolutionary taxes from the Internal Revenue Allotment of the barangays controlled by the insurgents. From these funds came the money with which anti-government rallies were financed.

He urged the people to stop giving support to the rebels whom he said have done nothing to help people other than sowing intrigues and killing innocent civilians who openly support the government.

Meanwhile, Old Mahayag Brgy. Captain and former NPA leader Juanito Basal disclosed how he was deceived by the communist rebels to join the armed struggle. He said for the number of years he spent as NPA leader, he was not able to see poverty, corruption and injustice, the main battlecry of dissident elements, being addressed. Instead, insurgency bred more of them.

“Siring nira (referring to the NPAs) masulbar an aton kakuri-an kun mag urusa kita pagkatin hin armas. Pero nagtikakuri man lugod kita” (They told me that all social problems would be solved if we joined the movement and took up arms against the government. It only aggravated our poverty.), Basal said.

The former NPA leader called those who are still in the mountains waging war against the government to lay down their arms and help in building our nation.

Col. Joel Cabides, Deputy Commander of the Army’s 801st Brigade aired his observation that, lately, the peace and order situation in the capital town has deteriorated due to the drug problem and other illegal activities perpetrated by certain groups. This picture has changed though with the assignment of Maj. General Jovito S. Palparan to the region.

                The military officer said the recent moves to relieve General Palparan from the region was the result of the general’s crackdown against the underground activities of the communist rebels and their front organizations which exposed their evils before the public.





Lawaan LGU hosted local guides training

July 30, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  - The Samar Island Biodiversity Project in coordination with the Local Government Unit of Lawaan, Eastern Samar through the Municipal Mayor, Manuel G. Inciso, conducted the Local Guides Training in Barangay Binakalan last July 15-17, 2005 to develop and train community based Ecotour Guides who can give adequate, relevant and focused commentaries on their ecotourism skills.

Lawaan Ecotour Guides

The training was participated by 20 members (local guides) from Bulosao Upland Farmers Association (BUFA), Guinob-an Upland Farmers Association (GUFA), with the representatives from two (2) CBRM, two (2) Technical Assistants from DENR-R8 and two (2) LGU representatives of Lawaan, E. Samar.  It included a tour to Amandaraga Falls and participated by fifteen (15) tourists cum evaluators for the simulation of tour package.

Various topics discussed for the first two days were: Introduction to Ecotourism by Ms. Cora Makabenta of DENR-R8 PAWCZMS; Basic Outdoor Guideship by Mr. Toto Cinco, Secretary, Provincial Ecotourism Committee and PIO of the Regional Ecotourism Council; Basic First Aid by Avelino Fabillar; Ecotourism in Local Context/Ecotourism in Lawaan and DENR & LGU MOA on Environmental Management by Mr. Leopoldo Ecaldre; Orientation on SIBP/SINP by Mr. Elpidio Cabahit, Jr., Chief, Ecotourism of SIBP; Environmental Laws relevant to Protected Area by Mr. Cabahit, Ms. Malou de la Calzada, Trainer of SIBP and Ms. Amira Orabe, Trainer of SIBP; and Review on the Preparation for the simulation of Tour Guiding Plan by Ms. Malou de la Calzada.

The third day was the simulation tour and practicum of the local guides to Level 1 of Amandaraga Falls which was participated by selected staff of SIBP with German nationals, Mr. Udo Wolter, his family and Ms. Alexandra Schiffelleolz to act as tourists and evaluators for the said activity.  The tour started with a visit to the remnants of the American Camp and concrete dike built by the Americans in Sunduan, Brgy. Guinob-an during the World War II, then to a hanging bridge made of bamboo, a hike along the river banks to the Amandaraga Falls.  The tour ended after lunch and bound back to Lawaan and went directly to their Model Farm for a quick tour before continuing with the evaluation.

After the evaluation of tour simulation, the closing activity was graced by Project Manager Manolito D. Ragub who gave his closing message to the participants and acknowledged the full support of the Municipal Mayor, Manuel G. Inciso, for his active involvement.

The said activity was initiated through the Municipal Mayor and requested support of SIBP for the training of local guides due to influx of visitors and tourists visiting the twin waterfalls of Lawaan, the Amandaraga and Amanhuray Falls.  The area is also suitable for mountain climbing, camping, researches or for mere appreciation of nature.  It is also one of the thrust of the LGU in the promotion of the ecotourism in the municipality of Lawaan.





“Marol han Catbalogan” candidates meet the press

Marol han Catbalogan candidates in a pictorial session at the Buri Beach Resort in Catbalogan.

July 23, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar   – After a series of rigid selection and meticulous scrutiny from a number of aspirants who lined up for this year’s Search for Ms. Catbalogan, the organizers of the event finally completed the list of ten beautiful candidates that will vie for the beauty title “An Marol han Catbalogan”.

This year’s candidates were presented in a press conference on July 23 together with their handlers and managers at the famous Buri Beach Resort preceding a video session depicting this town’s famed white beach front.

According to Mr. Kenneth Lim speaking on behalf of the personalities behind the LGU Tourism Council who were absent during the gathering, that this year’s beauty search is part of the 30 days grand celebration of the town’s annual fiesta on August 24, 2005 being spearheaded by Mayor Coefredo Uy here.

The pre-pageant night that will showcase the respective talents of the candidates, will be held at the Municipal Plaza on the evening of August 2, this year, at which all of the ten beautiful ladies will be judge on their drama, dancing and singing abilities.

“But unlike before, were we traditionally hold the pageant’s final night as a culminating activity of the town fiesta, this year’s event will be held earlier – that will be on August 4 this year, - since we need to decide early on Catbalogan’s representative to vie for the “Mutya han Samar” competition to be held on August 8, 2005 in connection with the Samar Day celebration, Mr. Lim explained.

“We, in the LGU are hopeful that whoever will be capped as this year’s An Marol han Catbalogan from among these 10 beautiful ladies, will likewise triumph as Mutya Han Samar 2005, which is an inter-municipality beauty search being organized by the Provincial Government of Samar”, Mr. Lim added.

The 10 candidates are – Candidate No. 1 Jackelyn Wilby, 16 years old of Brgy. Mercedes; Candidate No. 2 Carina Rosita O. Angel, 16 years old of Brgy. Muñoz; Candidate No. 3 Joemelina A. Delantar of Brgy. Canlapwas and a high school student of Samar National School (SNS); Candidate No. 4 Joyce June L. Viojan of Brgy. Guindapunan; Candidate No. 5 Roseann Cabadsan of Brgy. 10, an education student of Samar College here.

The other candidates are candidate No. 6 Camille Anne Y. Davantes of Brgy. 4 also a high school student of SNS here; candidate no. 7 Mylene D. Medina of Brgy. Socorro and enrolled presently at the Samar State University (SSU); candidate no. 8 Margie S. Teves of Brgy. 13, a high school student also of SNS; candidate no. 9 Sheravie F. Quebec, 16 years old of Brgy. Ubanon but presently studying at the Leyte Intitute of Technology (LIT) in Tacloban City; and the last but not the least candidate no. 10 Merlit T. Rapiz coming from Brgy. Rama of the Sierra Island here, 16 years old and a student of the Saint Mary’s College of Catbalogan.





BAYAN – Samar joins national call  of GMA resign!

July 22, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  - The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan –Samar chapter joins the national outcry for GMA to resign from the presidency. This developed as the militant organization in consultation with its affiliate people’s organizations deemed it high time to break the silence of the people of Samar on the issue.

In a press statement, acting Secretary-General Emman Abejo reiterated BAYAN’s call for the people of Samar to take stand on the issue. “The GMA regime is reeked with scandal and corruption. GMA has lost her moral ascendancy to lead the Filipino people,” Abejo stated.

“The people of Samar have more reasons to call for GMA to step down. Hers is not only a bogus presidency, a corrupt regime, but also a coddler of military terrorists and human rights violators personified by the likes of Col. Jovito Palparan, Jr. and his hitmen. GMA’s inaction of Palparan’s crimes against the people of Mindoro and Central Luzon, and now the people of the Eastern Visayan region reveals her true fascist nature,” the Bayan statement continued.

KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas has documented a total of 119 human rights violations in the region. Of these, 29 were cases of extra-judicial killings or summary executions. Cases of arbitrary arrests, tortures, tactical interrogations and harassments were also documented. The number continues to increase as more cases of violations occur while the military intensify its terroristic campaigns. These cases were documented within the first semester of 2005, simultaneous with the deployment of Col. Palparan Jr. as Commander of the 8th ID of the Philippine Army in the Eastern Visayas region. Earlier, Palparan was quoted before the media to have vowed to eradicate the communist insurgency in the region and to get rid of all anti-government protests within a six month period.

“The GMA Regime has on its hands the blood of many innocent civilians killed by its most notorious butcher, “ the statement went on.  Masive militarization in different municipalities and rural barangays in the province has displaced a number of families and communities reminiscent of the 80’s at the height of the Total War Campaign of the then Aquino administration. Special Operations Team of the military were also deployed in the town centers of Catbalogan, and the city of Calbayog to spread fear among the populace. BAYAN is one of the organizations hit by the military black propaganda campaign in the region. Its leaders along with BAYAN MUNA, ANAK-PAWIS and other militant party-list groups were also targets of political assasination.

BAYAN called for a province-wide Protest March or LAKBAYAN on July 22- 25 as a way of showing its condemnation to the fascist GMA regime.

“We urge the Samarnons to took to the streets once again and show that democracy is still alive. This is our way of showing our vehement opposition to the continued degradation and betrayal of  people’s trust in government and the electoral process. This is our way of condemning the threats imposed by militarization on the civil liberties of the people of Samar, “ the statement concluded.





AHRC urges appeal for investigation on assault to Filipino protesters in Jeddah

July 21, 2005

                CATBALOGAN, Samar   – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges concerned Filipinos worldwide to request for an immediate investigation by the Philippine government on the reported attacked to four Filipinos by Consulate Guards while peacefully demonstrating at the Philippines Consulate in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on July 16, 2005.

                In a circulated email dated July 20, 2005 the Hong Kong based human rights group (AHRC) pointed out that since the peaceful demonstration took place within the premises of the Philippines Consulate, it is understood that it is legal. They added that the Consulate is obliged to observe due respect on freedom of peaceful assembly and speech of its citizens abroad.

The victims, namely, Leo Legaspi of Migrante, Jackiline Pakpakin, Jessica Hapos and Irene Mahinay were among the several protesters who suffered injuries following a scuffle reportedly with four Saudi guards at the Consulate. The alleged perpetrators were identified as Yusof, Anwar Andang, Atong and Ali Aguam.

Leo Legaspi, a member of Migrante, a migrant workers organization, and several women presently sheltered at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Center in Jeddah voiced their request for Philippine President Gloria Arroyo's resignation in front of the media sources at the consulate. Some of the protesters currently have pending applications for repatriation assistance. A day before the incident, they wrote to Consul General Mr. Pendosina N. Lomondot requesting to meet him.

It was reported that while the protesters were at the reception area heading to ConGen Lomondot's office, one of the guards, Anwar Amdang, allegedly attacked Legaspi while he was giving instructions to his female companions to form a line and display the placards they were carrying.

According to Legaspi, his female companions and the leaders of Migrante, came to his rescue while he was assaulted and fell to the ground. As a result of this, a number of the women sustained injuries. Pakpakin suffered damage to her feet, and Jessica Hapos and Irene Mahinay were punched.

Despite the incident, all the Philippine diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia did was to recommend for a review in the security arrangement within the Consulate. The victims have been demanding for the dismissal from the government service of those perpetrators allegedly involved. They are likewise asking for compensation, and that demands for stranded workers for repatriation be acted on and approved immediately.

The AHRC can be reached at this email address





Mel: "I'm against HB 2266”

July 14, 2005

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar  ‑  Mayor Mel "Senen" Sarmiento expressed his opposition on House Bill 2266 proposing the creation of Samar Island Socio-Economic Planning Development Authority authored by Congressman Catalino Figueroa of the 2nd District of Samar.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento

In an exclusive interview with this writer, Sarmiento stressed that this bill is totally against Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code. "This is against decentralization process being promoted by 7160," Sarmiento said. Decentralization process in the Philippines is so far the best in South East Asia as claimed by some observers.

The mayor of the only city in the island of Samar was surprised to see the copy of the bill, which was dated March 2, 2005. He explained that while this is going to be against all existing laws of the country, this would also be another layer in the country’s structure.

“This is going to be another layer on bureaucracy," he said. “Right now, we are very conscious with local autonomy," he added. The government had been trying to cut down on employment expenditures and Sarmiento sees that this is going to be an additional expense on the part of the government. There are even moves in the national level that some of the offices that are being duplicated in the LGUs should be removed just to minimize the expenses.

To recall, a month ago, Binalyu­-ay Ha Udto, a noontime radio program over 92.1 HOT FM in Catbalogan received a copy of the House Bill 2266. In his explanatory note, Cong. Figueroa explained that "despite the fact that many government agencies are undertaking socio-economic development programs and projects, it seems that the economic development for Samar Island have been neglected and remains very slow pace as compared to the other neighboring provinces." The note also cited that the slow economic progress could be traced to many a factor among which is the lack of economic direction and coordination among the various government agencies in the island.

The bill seeks to initiate programs and activities using all available local and national resources of the government; make representation with other planning bodies of the government and the private sectors for the purpose of realigning these programs; and serve as the catalytical agent of the national government in pursuing the socio‑economic programs of Samar Island.

In his words, Figueroa hopes that his measure will truly achieve economic progress.

The Samar Island Council for Sustainable Development (SICSD) was quick to make a position paper on the bill noting that there are flaws on the provisions of the bill. One of those that this council scrutinized is the composition of the Board of Directors provided in the measure. The BOD is supposed to be chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The council argues that if it's a socio‑economic body, someone from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) should chair the BOD.

SICSD had been very strong on their belief that with the approval of the bill, the island of Samar will be exposed to environmental abuses.

While the council is only asking to revise some of the provisions in the bill, Sarmiento made it clear that he is totally against the bill. He said that there really is no need to come up with an authority on socio-economic development. "This should be up to the LGUs to come up with development plan. It's just a matter of consolidating these plans," he continued.

The mayor also informed that the Congressman while drafting the bill did not consult him. "I just learned about this now," Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento, however, viewed Figueroa's intentions as good. "Cong. Figueroa is trying his best to improve Samar," he stated, "but maybe we can look for other options.”

Figueroa on the other hand, could not be reached as of press time for comments.

Meantime, Senen is keen on coordinating with the three governors of the Samar Island and the President of League of Municipalities (LMP) in the Samar province and discuss the bill with them.





AHRC voices concern over ongoing delays in trial in the Philippines

July 10, 2005

HONG KONG   - The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) voiced its concern on Friday over the continuing delays in the trial of three people in General Santos City in the Philippines that appear to reflect negligent behaviour by the local court and prosecutor.

More than three years has elapsed since the case against Jejhon Macalinsal, Aron Salah and Abubakar Amilhasan was filed, the Hong Kong-based regional human rights group said the local court has still not begun the trial because of continual postponements and cancellation of the hearings.

"An inquiry should be conducted into whether the judge, the prosecutor and other court personnel have neglected their duties and whether this has directly resulted in the cancellation, repeated postponement and delay of the case," said Kim Soo A, AHRC urgent appeals programme coordinator.

The three men are facing charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) respectively. They were arrested on April 24, 2002, allegedly in connection to a bombing at a mall. No case connected to the bombing has been filed, however.

In June 2005, the local court was scheduled to hear the case on four separate occasions. However, the case did not make any progress on any of these dates. When it was heard on June 16, the judge postponed the hearing until January 5, 2006, because the prosecutor's witnesses could not appear in court that day.

The previous postponement and cancellation of the case was blamed on a variety of reasons: the absence and/or replacement of the judge, the judge was out of town for a conference, public holidays and the absence of a court stenographer. This pattern seemly occurs every time the trial is scheduled.

"The case should be transferred to another court branch if the judge is not capable of resolving the case immediately," Kim noted.

Despite a notice to the judge to take appropriate action for the speedy resolution of the case from Christopher Lock, Supreme Court deputy court administrator, in his May 26 letter received by the AHRC, the judge has not acted on it yet. Instead, he postponed the trial until next year.

Earlier, the three male relatives had requested the intervention of the Supreme Court to transfer their case to another branch. The country's highest court, however, did not honour their request. It explained that this request should be filed in the local court handling the case.

"This notice has left them with no other option but to submit to the local court's procedures. They remain unhopeful, however," Kim said. She requested that the local court begin the trial at the earliest date possible.



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