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Thousands join Peace Rally in Samar’s capital

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





Foreign human rights community looks into Samar’s military atrocities

August 16, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar    - A gathering of at least 18 international human right advocates on Sunday, August 14 and joined in by more than 50 of their local counterparts in the country headed by no less than Congressman Teddy Casiño of the Bayan Muna Partylist, accordingly will gave hope to hundreds of Samareños who were allegedly victimized by military abuses since the assumption of MGen. Jovito Palparan as chief of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army here.

The foreign delegation to the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) were received in by the Sagupa-SB of Tacloban City, who likewise took the initiative together with the other sectoral and party-list groups such Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, KMU, Karapatan from Manila, Cebu and Negros to conduct an ocular investigation and documentation of the alleged military perpetrated human right violations recently in the towns of Catbalogan, Calbiga, Villareal and Basey.

In a press conference, the foreign delegates informed that their presence in Samar is to verify the reports of alleged human right abuses being committed by the military against the civilians here, and committed to use every means to influence their respective governments and the international community to put pressure on the Arroyo administration to look into the Samareños plight in the hands of alleged abuses of the military.

The delegates however did not elaborate to the media what particular points of influence can their respective governments exert in putting a halt to the alleged military abuses in the province, but assured that any results of their investigation will be brought out in the international community.

Present during the ISM event were human right representatives from United States of America, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan.

The ISM delegates personally get hold of the victims testimonies as they recount their respective ordeals of alleged military instigated abuses, and they likewise heard the accounts of other witnesses of abductions which eventually led to summary executions of the victims, including the accounts of the family of the most recent execution victim Constancio Calubid of San Andres, Villareal, this province.

It was gathered that the ISM will take a peep at the alleged “torture house” in Brgy. Canlapwas, this town on August 15, and will proceed to the town of Calbiga to check on the conditions of the evacuees that were displaced from their barangays due to intense military operations in the area.

Another group, will likewise come-up with a re-enactment of Constancio Calubid’s abduction in Villareal, Samar, until his body was found dead a couple of weeks back, and by August 16, the group will proceed to Basey for the same ocular investigation.

Meanwhile, Sagupa-SB Secretary General Alex Lagunsad call on other victims of human right abuses in the Eastern Visayas region to report their cases to the Sagupa-SB Office in Tacloban City.

He also explained that the documentation they are conducting will be submitted to an International People’s Tribunal at the UP Campus in Diliman on August 18, for a mock indictment of the people behind the alleged human right violations.

“Though, this tribunal does not hold water at the vantage point of legality, but the evidences that will be gathered and presented here are legal documents that can be used for any investigation or indictment by any international human right groups and agencies or even our own congress in their on-going investigations regarding these human right abuses in Eastern Visayas”, Mr. Lagunsad concluded.





Samar solon tosses impeachment vote over Palparan’s ouster

August 15, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  – Samareños will soon become witness of a seeming power-show in the coming weeks as Samar’s renowned Congressman Catalino Figueroa and the 8th Infantry Division Philippine Army’s (8th ID-PA) “fist of steel”, MGen. Jovito Palparan, will once again blow their respective arguments regarding the escalating alleged military perpetrated human right violations occurring in the Province of Samar.

In a hosted dinner yesterday by Cong. Figueroa at his residence to at least 18 foreign delegates and a number of national and local human right advocates who attended the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) here, the solon firmly stand on his statement that he will exert all possible efforts to get MGen. Palparan out of Eastern Visayas.

Cong. Figueroa’s unyielding stand against the 8th ID-PA general was manifested when he openly informed the local and foreign media groups present at the gathering that he already informed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in a meeting last week in Malacañang, that he is bargaining his most precious vote for the impending impeachment trial against the president in Congress.

“If he will not heed to our request to get Palaparan out of Samar, then I will certainly vote for her impeachment, and I am announcing that in public”, Cong. Figueroa informed the media and other ISM delegates here, stressing that the kind of anti-insurgency approach being adopted by the military in Samar does not compensate the real democratic vision of the Arroyo administration.

“Yes, I run under the Lakas banner, and I must support PGMA being a party-mate and the Lakas national bearer, but it is already the people of Samar who needs my support, and I am not a Congressman of the president, so I have to give my priority to my constituents”, Cong. Figueroa stressed out.

Aside from the impeachment vote, the Samar solon likewise informed of his another ace in the seeming power game, that he will exert all of his congressional influence to give the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget a hard-blow in Congress next month.

“I assure the AFP that they will get a good fight with us, in either blocking or reducing their budget allocation this coming month as the congress will start hearing the government’s budget for next year”, Cong. Figueroa asserted, but the solon informed that Malacañang people already gave him the assurance that MGen. Palparan will soon be relieved from his post, cluing-up that he was asked to wait for the installation of the new AFP Chief of Staff in the person of General Generoso Senga.





Gov. Tan asked to release P155,500 for topographic surveys of creeks

August 14, 2005

GANDARA, Samar   - Multi-sectoral groups have resolved on July 29, 2005 to appeal to Samar Governor Milagrosa T. Tan to immediately release the amount of P155,500 for use in the conduct and completion of the topographic surveys by the Department of Public Works and Highways of the Ngoso and Nacube creeks in Gandara and of Sapinit Creek in San Jorge, including their tributaries.

In a resolution, members of the Samar Provincial Technical Working Group on the Gandara Watershed’s Project Team, barangay officials and other key government personnel and members of other groups say that the DPWH submitted to Gov. Tan last July 12, 2005 the cost estimates for the conduct of the topographic surveys that will serve as basis for the formulation and development of plans and projects intended to address the flooding problem in the towns of Tarangnan, Gandara, San Jorge and Pagsanghan (TAGASAPA), all in the First District of Western Samar.

“Considering the immediacy and urgency of the topographic surveys, the DPWH survey team proceeded with the surveys, using the personal money of the key officials of DPWH in Samar Districts I and II,” the resolution says.

It further tells the governor that the media launched a fund drive to support the financial needs of the survey teams except that “there was no appreciable response from the public.”

Adoption of the resolution was moved by Ma. Clarina Sabulao, landowners sector representative in the Samar provincial land reform coordinating committee (PLRCCOM-Samar), and seconded by those present during the “Orientation-Consultation on the Information Campaign on the TAGASAPA Flooding Problem” held at the session hall of the Sangguniang Bayan of San Jorge in the morning of July 29, and at the SB session hall in Gandara in the afternoon of the same day.

The resolution was signed by Samar Vice-Governor Jesus B. Redaja, Sabulao, Engr. Augusto A. Aguilar who heads the Samar II survey team at Sapinit Creek, Engr. Maximo C. Daquilanea of National Irrigation Administration, San Jorge vice-mayor Marcelina D. Yu, vice-chairperson Albina A. Valles of the Samar People’s Economic Council Foundation Inc. (SPECFI), this writer;

Professor Eliodoro D. Original and Manuel V. Baylon, respectively extension services director and board secretary of the Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry (SSCAF); Gandara municipal planning and development coordinator Manuel Felix Yangzon; San Jorge Sangguniang Bayan member Demetrio Bariquit;

Engr. Ray P. Gaspay, Emy C. Bonifacio, Bryan M. Azura, and Max Daquilanea Jr., all of the Catbalogan Cable Television Media Advocates Nucleus (CCATMAN); information officer Elias Dalumpines of Philippine Information Agency, San Jorge tourism and media officer Ricky J. Bautista;

Gandara punong barangay Susana G. Aliman, Catalina C. Tagra, Paciencia Paglinawan and Epifanio A. Bacurio, barangay treasurer Rollie A. Espino, secretary Francisco A. Reyes; Sahadu G. Tarce, Iluminada B. De Guia, Maximo A. Amos and Arnold Amistoso.

The meeting in San Jorge was coordinated and sponsored by vice-mayor Yu with the assistance of SB member Bariquit, while that in Gandara was sponsored by mayor Antonieto T. Cabueños with the help of municipal administrator Salvador Tan.

LGU Equity First

Valles of SPECFI pointed out during the meeting that the national government will provide huge assistance funds for undertakings such as the gargantuan task of solving the TAGASAPA flooding problem, if local government units will first put up an equity.

The P155,500 request to Governor Mila Tan is just part of the LGU equity required, the meeting participants agreed.

Survey Suspended

Other matters taken up in that meeting were the updates on the topographic surveys which were reported on by Engr. Aguilar and agro-forestry as a flood control strategy, which was presented by provincial environment and natural resources officer George F. Guillermo.

Engr. Aguilar revealed that after 5 days of survey, the survey teams suspended their job on account of absence of operational funds. They have exhausted the small amounts of money that they had raised personally, he said.

Sec. Claudio’s Commitment

Vice-Gov. Redaja told the groups that during the visit to Catbalogan, Samar of Secretary Gabriel B. Claudio, Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD), he requested the latter for assistance to put an end to the flooding problem in the TAGASAPA zone to thereby restore the lost “rice granary of Samar” or save at least P240 million per cropping season from more than 6,000 hectares of ricelands, mostly agrarian reform areas.

Redaja said that subsequent to the assurance of help from Sec. Claudio, the technical working group decided to first conduct a survey of three major creeks and their tributaries - Ngoso Creek, Nacube Creek in Gandara and Sapinit Creek in San Jorge which overflow with floodwaters during heavy or ordinary rains and serve as courses for the overflowing, rising and running floodwaters that ruin agricultural crops and victimizes more than 3,000 farmers.

From the final survey results, Redaja said, a program of work would be formulated, along with specific flood control interventions. These will require the active participation and mobilization of barangay officials and their constituents, he emphasized.





Policeman rots alumni homecoming, murders gov't employee

August 13, 2005

BALANGKAYAN, Eastern Samar  - A policeman, believed to be under the influence of alcohol, intentionally shot to death a government employee and at the same time an alumnus of Balangkayan National High School weeks ago during the Alumni Homecoming of the said school, this town.

PO1 Jacinto Bobbet Marasigan, a newly assigned police officer in the municipality of Balangkayan, fired his M16 armalite rifle at Terry Gesite of the Eastern Samar Provincial Legal Office, instantly killing the latter early morning of July 13 while the homecoming was about to end.

Investigators of the Philippine National Police found in the crime scene 27 armalite empty shells believed to come from Marasigan's weapon, 3 cal.45 empty shells and 3 slugs from unidentified firearms. The police station's blotter revealed that at about 12:45 am, about 3 hours before the incident occurred, the victim went to the police station and complained that Marasigan withdrew his sidearm at him and threatened him inside the municipal plaza while the event was going on. The blotter also disclosed that the suspect, who was under the influence of liquor, was allegedly hit on the thigh after the incident. Accounts of the witnesses claim that the police on duty disarmed the suspect after the victim complained.

According to one witness, he saw Marasigan, going inside his residence, which was only about 5 meters from the plaza, and took his rifle. "Sumulod hi Bobbet ha ira balay, paggawas gintututok na niya an pusil kan Mano Terry," said a witness who asked his name be withheld.

In an interview with, Vevina Gesite, the wife of the fatality, who was with her husband during the incident, told that they were in a hurry to get out of plaza apparently avoiding the suspect. "Paggawas nam ha plaza, kumita nala ak kan Terry nga nagdadagmit paglakat," she said. "Tigda la, kumita nala ak kan Bobbet nagbubukod ha iya ngan nagpusil," she further told.

Contrary to the news report that came out of a local paper three days after the incident, eyewitnesses claim that Marasigan did not approach Gesite to apprehend the latter but to intentionally kill him. "There were already rumors around the town that weeks before the incident, the suspect had been asking the Mayor, Vegerano Gesite, to dispose of the casualty," said a kin of the victim.

The mayor is a first-degree cousin of the victim and is also a close relative of the suspect. Meanwhile, appropriate charges had been filed against the killer. Balangkayan police claim it has custody of the suspect and is still recuperating at an undisclosed hospital. PNP as of press time, nonetheless, could not inform the court about the whereabouts of the suspect despite the issuance of Commitment Order from the Regional Trial Court.





Consumer group urges government to conduct consultations on Transmission Development Plan

August 12, 2005

PARAÑAQUE CITY, Philippines  -  A consumer advocacy group on Wednesday called on the national government to conduct public consultations on the revised Transmission Development Plan (TDP).

The National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore) made this appeal to the government after the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) informed the consumer group that its Transmission Development Plan (TDP) had been submitted to the Department of Energy (DOE) for integration with the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) and it is DOE who will hold the consultation for the said TDP.

Pete Ilagan, president of Nasecore, pointed out that Section 9(f) of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) expressly mandates that TDP consultations must first be made by Transco with utilities and electricity end-users before the TDP is submitted to the Department of Energy (DOE) for integration with the PDP and Philippine Energy Plan (PEP).

“It is quite strange that an agency of the government violated the very law that it is supposed to implement. With this kind of attitude how can you expect a transparent and honest-to-goodness implementation of an important piece of legislation?” Ilagan lamented.

“Why deny the consumers of the opportunity of sharing their ideas, inputs and comments on the TDP.  Even if the EPIRA does not require consultations, under the time-honored concept of transparency and accountability of public officials, the government has the obligation of consulting the public on any important government programs like the TDP. More so with a program where it is the consuming public who will pay for its costs,” Ilagan added.

The first TDP was formulated by Transco in 2004 and laid down the projects that will reinforce the transmission backbone for the major islands and the expansion of substations to accommodate higher demand.  It also seeks the upgrading of existing links between main island grids and the interconnection of small islands in order to ensure economic pooling of generators.

Transco is presently revising the TDP in order to give an accurate assessment of the required transmission projects prior to selling the transmission assets to prospective local and foreign bidders.

The consumer group is hoping that the DOE Secretary will immediately correct Transco’s violation in order to ensure that it will fully comply with the clear provision of the law on the preparation of the Transmission Development Plan.





NTC shuts Radyo Natin Catbalogan, holds MBC liable for operating hundreds of SRS

August 11, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  - A Show Cause Order containing a cease and desist directive from the commissioner of National Telecommunications Commission was issued to Radyo Natin FM-Catbalogan on July 20, this year, forcing a closure of the said radio station from its operation.

In the order against Manila Broadcasting Company, NTC Commissioner Ronald Olivar Solis said that the company is "operating a low power FM station in Muñoz, Catbalogan as a commercial broadcasting station without the necessary authority from this Commission."

Bryan Azura, owner of the Bryzmicbiz Promo & Ads that serves as the partner of MBC in operating the said station, in an interview, said that he was surprised to know that the station, whom he personally manages, has no NTC permit. "MBC told us when we franchised the station, that this has all the necessary permit," Azura said. "Months after we started the operation back in 2001, MBC sent me a photocopy of the Permit to Posses Radio Transmitter with permit number BSD-0001-2002 PO," he further said. Azura was not around in the station when NTC closed the station.

In the said document dated January 7, 2001, the NTC, under then Commissioner Elisio M. Rio, Jr., certified that MBC is granted permit to posses 81 units of low power transmitters including the Catbalogan station.

"We were not thoroughly oriented as to when and how frequent we need to renew the permit so I thought it was just overdue for renewal," Azura narrated. Azura, who also serves as the Editor-in-chief of Western Courier weekly news publication, went to NTC regional office in Tacloban City to personally verify the order at the director's office.

It turned out, however, that not only the Catbalogan station that was given the closure order but also all the other Small Radio Stations (SRS) of MBC in the Region 8. "I was suppose to ask Regional Director Samuel Young as to how I can resume operation but he said not to mind anymore," Azura said quoting Young. "He said ayaw na la kamo hito pagbinayad," he cited Young telling him.

"From the very start, Director Young said, MBC operated the low power stations illegally," he added. "These transmitters are not suppose to be used for commercial broadcast," said Young in his conversation with Azura. The director could not determine, meanwhile, as to how MBC managed to operate the stations. NTC regional office disclosed that all similar stations in the entire country would be served the same cease and desist order.

To recall with, about more than three years ago, MBC, made it to public that it is offering franchise of its more than a thousand units of SRS to anyone who is willing to operate for a determined amount. The said radio stations were additions to its more than a hundred 500-watt RN stations in the country. In the orientations made by MBC, its personnel made it clear to the "partners," those who availed the stations, that SRS is designed as community commercial stations. The company provided the partners the equipment such as transmitter, satellite receiver and the antenna. The partner was supposed to acquired additional equipment needed for broadcast. Initially, MBC should have provided the necessary NTC permits to all operational SRS. In the Memorandum of Agreement between MBC and the partners, it made it clear that the latter should be responsible in renewing the same.

NTC personnel however revealed that the commercial operation of SRS is illegal. Lilibeth Dion, announcer of Catbalogan station cited Engr. Wilfredo Zabala, NTC inspector, that the station is not meant for business. "Ang mga ganitong station daw, is only for public announcements and panawagan," said Dion quoting Zabala when the latter implemented the order last July 20.

"Dir. Young was even puzzled how MBC was able to get such permit from their former Commissioner," said Azura recalling their conversation with the NTC director. "The director said that MBC made a good money out of it," Young continued talking to Azura.

Meanwhile, the station manager believes that there must be fraud committed on the part of MBC. "If that's the case, then it is clear that MBC just tricked its hundreds of partners," Azura told. "I'm not a lawyer but I think the company should be hold liable for the loss of our livelihoods," he added.





International Solidarity Mission Bound for Samar

August 9, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  - In defense of human rights and civil liberties in the face of mounting human rights violations, an international mission is to arrive here in Samar. With delegates coming from different parts of the globe, the International Solidarity Mission aims to bring to the attention of the international community the gravity of the HR violations and the extent of state terrorism occurring in the Philippines, particularly in Samar, under the GMA administration. The mission also aims to muster international pressure on the GMA government to stop violating human rights and people’s rights with impunity, gather international support for the victims and to contextualize the worsening human rights situation in the region and country within the US’s war on terror.

Set this August 13-18, 2005, foreign delegates will visit Samar, the island of Mindoro, Hacienda Luisita in Ilocos, Compostella Valley and other Moro Areas in Mindanao. Findings and documented cases will be discussed in the People’s Tribunal set after the mission.

It has been noted that the present Arroyo administration leads a government and its institutions, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police that is smeared by blood. In less than four years, the Arroyo regime has committed 3,560 cases of human rights violations victimizing 198,308 individuals, 18,977 families, 123 communities and 1,016 households. There are 236 political detainees all over the country as of January 31, 2005.



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