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Foreign human rights community looks into Samar’s military atrocities

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




Cata’s call for Palparan’s ouster faces snowballing opposition

August 24, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar – A swelling support for the retention of MGen. Jovito Palparan as Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army here was manifested by a multi-sectoral rally on August 23, participated in by Municipal and Barangay officials from different towns both from Northern and Western Samar.

Various resolutions of support for the general’s retention were apparently brought in by representatives of various groups, optimistic that President Gloria Arroyo, will not interfere with the anti-insurgency operations being conducted by the Philippine Army in the region under MGen. Palparan, more particularly the political pressure being exerted by Samar Congressman Catalino Figueroa.

Unconfirmed reports likewise reached this publication that Gov. Milagrosa Tan of Samar and Gov. Rosette Lerias of Southern Leyte, both executed a petition addressed to the President to retain MGen. Palparan as Commander of the 8th ID.

A signature campaign supporting the general was seen circulating at Gov. Tan’s residence, but this publication wasn’t able to get the exact statement of the Samar Governor just yet.

Barely a week earlier, Cong. Figueroa announced to the media that he is trading his impeachment vote in Congress for the ouster of MGen. Palparan, and even affirmed that he will use all his congressional influence to block the AFP budget if the general will not be relieve from Samar.

Vice-Mayor of Motiong Town Francisco Langi speaking in behalf of his constituents and supporters, relatively emphasized the gradual yet positive impact of the anti-insurgency campaign of the military in their town and expressed his apprehension that if the general will be taken out from his post without finishing off his mission to clear Samar from insurgents, “these NPA rebels might come back at no time at all”, he explained.

ABC President of Jiabong town Rafael Recoletos likewise came in full force with a number of his Barangay Chairmen armed with their resolution stipulating their unbounded support to the general, saying that they are no longer afraid of the NPA rebels this time, but insisted that MGen. Palparan’s mission in the province must come into full completion.

Hon. Recoletos further assailed Cong. Figueroa’s action in trading his impeachment vote for Palparan’s ouster, explaining that the solon is simply a representative of their votes in Congress and should be shouting what his constituents really want. “Kun igpapadayon ini niya, mapipiritan kami pag-kondena ha iya kutob 2007 nga eleksyon”, he added.

Barangay leaders from the towns of San Jorge, Gandara, Hinabangan, Calbiga and Pinabacdao were likewise present during the rally, while Catbalogan were represented by different barangay chairmen led by renowned rebel returnee now barangay captain of Old Mahayag Juanito Basal, who revealed to the rallyists the different extortion activities being conducted by the CPP-NPA to ordinary civilians particularly the farmers, “Deri liwat ako nahadlok pag-sumat nga kadam-an hit aton mga local leaders dinhe ha Samar in nasuporta ha mga NPA pinaagi hin pinansyal nga aspeto”, Chairman Basal added.

Known student groups such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the Alliance of Concerned Students Against Communism (ACSAT) led by Irene Abainza and Marvin Calutan respectively similarly expressed their arguments on why MGen. Palparan should be retained. (view feedback)

Aside from the towns of Western Samar, municipalities from Northern Samar such as Catubig, Las Navas and Catarman likewise joined the rally led by a certain Marcos Anquilo, former member Efren Martinez Command and a brother of Octavio Anquilo (Kumander Dodong) of the RGU Command.

Anquilo in his statement disclosed to the media, that he is a witness how Cong. Figueroa allegedly handed out six digit amount to his brother Octavio and a certain Arturo Tabara - accordingly the spokeperson of the RGU Visayas Command – as his support to their group, sometime between 1993 – 1994 in a farm somewhere in Bulacan.

MGen. Palparan however refused to validate the disclosure of Anquilo, but told the media instead that Cong. Figueroa admitted just in front of other Municipal Mayors of Samar that he indeed paid Php 100,000.00 to the NPA rebels as “permit to campaign fee” during the elections.

The rallyists proceeded to downtown Catbalogan in truck loads numbering to more or less 1000 people to show their support to the Catbaloganons, who were celebrating their vesper day for the annual fiesta celebration in honor of St. Bartholomew.





“I mishandled Congressman Figueroa” – Gen. Palparan

August 24, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar   –  Waiting for the directive of his relief as 8th Infantry Division Commanding General, MGen. Jovito Palparan laid down his readiness to comply with any order from the AFP higher Headquarters, but expressed his lament over mishandling his arch nemesis Cong. Catalino Figueroa of Samar’s 2nd District.

Speaking before a group of local media in the occasion of the 8th ID 17th Year Anniversary on August 22, 2005, MGen. Palparan disclosed that his only mistake was that he miscalculated the time when he should have talked and discussed the Province’ insurgency matter with Cong. Figueroa.

“Although we have the chance before, unfortunately I didn’t feel it was the right time for me because of some inevitable circumstances, I thought he would understand the results of our effort to cleanse this province of the ill effects of insurgency but I believe he would, but we run out of time to show it to him – pina-aalis na ako e”, MGen. Palparan explained.

It was gathered that the general was invited during the birthday of Congressman Figueroa at his residence in Brgy. Mercedes here, on May 15, 2005, but MGen. Palparan did not show up, explaining that he is not ready to face the solon just yet because he just pulled out the soldiers detailed as security escorts to the congressman at that time.

“It was a conflict of interest, because we almost got into a firefight with our own men assigned as his security escorts because they are in company of suspected NPAs whom we had been following from Tacloban City”, the general asserted, explaining further that to somehow thresh out things first, he decided to wait for the right moment to discuss the insurgency matter with the solon later.

Congressman Figueroa however, clarified to the media that he is not hindering any military offensives against the NPA rebels, particularly the anti-insurgency campaign of MGen. Jovito Palparan as Commanding General of the 8th ID, but asserted that the campaign must be within the appropriate democratic principles and must be specifically pointed on to the armed groups.

The solon was referring to the escalating number of complaints on human rights violations being received by his office, particularly the cases of civilian victims within the 2nd district of this province.

As this developed, newly promoted MajGen. Bonifacio Ramos, former Deputy Commander of the 8th ID during the time of MGen Glen Rabonza, was the one being eyed to take-over the post; while MGen. Palparan is expectedly will be assigned to Central Luzon.

“Personally, it is an advantage on my part considering that I will be serving a Division nearer to my family – though I don’t have an idea yet as to the plans of the higher headquarters why Central Luzon, but I believe this has still something to do with the insurgency but in a much broader scope”, MGen. Palparan concluded.

Meanwhile, Battalion Commanders and the rest of the officers and enlisted men and women of the 8th ID-PA here are confident that the new Commanding General will continue all what MGen. Palparan have started, expressing optimism that the current 80 percent completion the 8th ID has established on their anti-insurgency mission in the province of Samar will hit their 100 percent target.  





Gen. Palparan admits relief order “saddening”

August 23, 2005

MajGen. Palparan

CATBALOGAN, Samar  - The commanding general of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Camp Lukban here in Samar’s capital, MGen. Jovito S. Palparan, Jr., yesterday admitted that the order of the leadership of the Armed Forces to relieve him from his present assignment is saddening.

According to Palparan, the army is gaining considerable grounds in the campaign against insurgency in the region and that he is keeping on schedule with his commitment to reduce it to an “insignificant level” but this momentum might be arrested because of the said relief order. The army, he informed, has already achieved 80 percent of its target since he initiated “clearing operations” against insurgents in April.

The general clarified though that he is not going to question the decision of his superiors to relinquish the command. “I’ll follow orders as befits a professional soldier”, the 8ID chief said.

Gen. Palparan, who assumed the 8ID top post last February, said he understands why the president gave in to the demands of some political leaders in the region to relieve him citing the present political crisis the country is facing.

But he expressed regrets for Congressman Catalino Figueroa’s act in bargaining his support to the president in exchange for his relief saying the congressman’s professionalism as a politician has been greatly affected. “That is more saddening”, he stressed.

On the other hand, the outgoing 8ID chief said he is happy with his next assignment for he will again be near his family. Initial reports said he would be talking over as commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija. The command covers the whole of Central Luzon.

In his message to the soldiers in the wake of the Division’s 17th founding anniversary, the general said the celebration was quite untimely because of the impending news of his relief and the installation of a new division commander.

But he reiterated that this will have no considerable effect in the army’s determination to address insurgency. He expressed hopes that the incoming commanding general will continue the unfinished task.

He likewise disclosed that he has already purchased equipment to be used in pursuing development efforts, particularly in providing basic infrastructures like roads, to areas that have been cleared of insurgents. The new commander can make use of the equipment, he told his troops.

The general concluded his speech by urging his soldiers to “renew their loyalty to the constitution, to the flag and to the people and to protect them against those who seek to introduce changes by extra-constitutional means”. 





8ID marks 17th year anniversary

August 23, 2005

MajGen. Jovito S. Palparan delivering his speech during the 8ID 17th Founding Anniversary celebration in Camp Lukban.

CATBALOGAN, Samar   –  The Army’s 8th Infantry (Storm Troopers) Division based in Brgy. Maulong, this town, observed yesterday, August 22, 2005, its 17th Founding Anniversary with a simple Parade and Review to celebrate its founding since its activation on August 1, 1988.

Historically, the 8ID was originally the 8th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army. But on August 1, 1988, and pursuant to General Orders 471, GHQ, AFP dated August 2, 1988, the 8IB was elevated into a regular division of the Philippine Army.

Since then, the 8ID prominently figured in the counter-insurgency efforts in Eastern Visayas and became the Best Army Unit of the Philippine Army in a national-wide search, also in 1988.

“Both the smooth and rugged roads we have trudged set forth the foundation of what is 8th Infantry Division today. It is therefore indeed, appropriate to express our gratitude to all the previous 8ID Commanders who have significantly steered the Command in our peace, security and support to development efforts,” Major Gen. Jovito S. Palparan, Commanading General of the 8ID said.

This year’s celebration with a theme “8ID: Kaagapay sa Kapayapaan tungo sa Kaunlaran” showcases how the Division has accomplished the anti-insurgency campaign in Eastern Visayas through the years.

Other highlights of the weeklong activities are the Field Mass, Wreath Laying, Flag Raising/Awarding, Health Fair, Static Display, Boodle Fight, Fellowship, Combo Exhibition, and Sayawang Bayan at the 8ID Grandstand of the Camp.

In his message, the Army General said he couldn’t help but look back and vividly recall where he got started and how far did his campaign gone through. “Knowing our colorful and glorious past, we can wrap-up that the 8ID is the totality of all its internal security operation gains in Eastern Visayas region through the years,” he said.

To recall, no less than the Commander-In-Chief President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed Gen. Palparan to get rid of the insurgency problem in the region, particularly in Samar Island. In his response, the general vowed to solve the insurgency here in six months to one year operations, but he was cut short.

The Awardees

One of the major highlights of the anniversary this morning was the awarding of the most outstanding military personnel and civilians for the valuable support extended to the Division in all its operations especially the anti-insurgency campaign.

Medals and Plaque of Appreciations were personally handed-over to the following military personnel, namely: Capt. Sinon Novo (Bronze Cross Medal), 1Lt Lazaro Quigao, MSgt. Conrado Cezar, 2Lt. Cresencio Tangayan, 2Lt. Maniago Macalintangui, Sgt. Eliseo Espinar, Pfc. Oliver Tenedero, 2Lt. Jose Laurel Sibullas, Sgt. Julio Delmo, and SSgt. Romeo Sayson.

The civilian awardees were: Engr. Jay Vincent Yulo, Alvin Cesar Laohoo, Engr. Lorenzo Yu, Suiden Pua Tan, all outstanding businessmen. The Southern Leyte Governor Rosette Lerias,  Burauen Leyte Mayor Juanito Renomeron, Oras Eastern Samar Mayor Neil Alvarez and the Samar Chamber of Commerce were also given a Plaque award.

“Without the support of these people, these accomplishments could have been far from realization,” Palparan said referring to the civilian awardees sitting on his left side and requested the audience for a round of applause.

Aside from the living awardees, the Division likewise pays tribute to fallen soldiers who, accordingly to Palparan, have meaningfully sacrificed their lives in the quest of protecting the democratic government and the integrity of the nation.

The Army general is, obviously, referring to the heroic acts of the following military personnel of the Division killed in action while in the performance of their duties. Thus, the tribute was offered to: Cpl. Ronnie B. Bote, Pfc. Leonardo Porten, Sgt. Tereso Batan, Sgt. Elmer Tualla, Pvt. Maximo Rivera, Cpl. Benjie Creer, SSgt. Elmer Rayandayan, 2Lt. Williamson Tan, SSgt. Felix Cortina, Sgt. Danilo Entroliza, Cpl. JesusGarrigo, Pvt. Felix Anub Jr., Pvt. Artemio Acanto Jr., Cpl. Mario Cabarles, Cpl. Harry Cabonce, and Pfc. Freddie Dupaya.

In closing his anniversary message, Palparan encouraged the public to continue to be relevant to the nation’s developmental needs by continuously providing assistance to our local government units and line agencies in the delivery of the basic social services intended for our constituents.

“Let this anniversary make us continue to bear in mind the Army’s purpose. Despite the political turmoil that the country has experienced in the past weeks, let us continue to uphold our constitution and follow the Chain-of-Command. Let us prove our predecessors and our fallen comrades that, the spirit of service, strengthened by its customs & sacrifices, shall not be dishonored by mediocrity,” he disclosed.





Reported case of Meningococcemia in Samar kills 1

August 19, 2005

Municipal health workers giving anti-bacterial medicines to every resident in the affected community to avoid spread of the disease

CATBALOGAN, Samar  -  Local health authorities here are now in full alert after a reported case of the dreaded disease meningococcemia hit this town on Wednesday August 17 causing death to a 4-year old boy.

The victim was identified as Chrisjhon Pascobillo of Sitio Casantolan, Barangay Mercedes, Catbalogan, Samar and was immediately brought to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City in the morning of August 17 for medical treatment but was pronounced dead by 11:30 p.m.

On August 16, Pascobillo was reportedly suffering from sore eyes and nose bleeding and was brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital for medical check-up. On the following day, the victim was again brought to the hospital because of severe abdominal pains.  Fear for a possible case of meningococcemia after showing some symptoms, the victim was immediately referred to the EVRMC for confinement but died by 11:30 pm on the same day.  The body was brought back to Catbalogan in the early morning of August 18 and was immediately buried.

EVRMC medical consultant Dra. Maria Remegia Manalo of the Pediatric Department, who was one in the medical team who attended the patient, said that the case was considered a clinically full-blown meningococcemia considering the rapid development of the disease.

“Based on the signs and symptoms from the victim it appears that he has suffered high probability of meningococcemia. We have taken blood samples from the victim for blood culture laboratory test for any sign of bacterial growth and confirmation of the disease but we are still waiting for the result,” Dra. Manalo said. She however gave enlightenment that such disease should not be a cause for alarm since it is controllable if handled properly.

Catbalogan municipal health officer Dra. Senecia Q. Yong upon learning the incident immediately dispatched a health team in the afternoon of August 18 to conduct investigation on the case and disinfect the area where the victim was residing.  The team gave anti-bacterial medicines to the parents, relatives and its neighborhood to avoid possible spread of the disease.  Sterilization drive in the whole community continued today giving anti-bacterial medicines to every resident in the area.





Mayor Grey distribute relief goods to evacuees

August 18, 2005

Mayor Jojo Grey

SAN JORGE, Samar  – The municipal government of San Jorge, under the leadership of Mayor Joseph V. Grey has distributed today relief goods to hundred of its constituents who earlier deserted their villages due to alleged military abuses.

The distribution of relief goods started around 9:30 a.m. today, August 18, at the Barangay Hall of Barangay Blanca Aurora, recently occupied by the people descended from the remote villages of Barangay Mobo-ob and Calundan.

According to the mayor, some 150 plastic bags containing rice, sardines, noodles and medicine were distributed to the evacuees. “They left their clothes, houses, animals, farmlands and other livelihood in these places, kaya kailangan natin silang tulungan,” Mayor Grey said.

In fact, Mayor Grey notes, some of the victims really needs medical attention due to their fractures and bruises they suffered when they were reportedly manhandled and tortured by the military.

“As Chief Executive of this town, ang immediate reaction ko is dalhin yung may mga sugat sa Gandara District Hospital for their medical treatment at ang iba naman ay binigyan naming ng basic first aid at pagkain, kasi kawawa naman, they really need food and shelter today,” Mayor Grey stressed.

It was learned that part two of the relief distribution is set on Friday for another group of evacuees coming from Barangay Bay-ang, the most interior village of this town.

As of today, there were a total 43 families from Bay-ang seek temporary shelter in the neighboring villages of Cantoto-og and Tomogbong.

Mayor Grey, who personally accompanied the municipal employees in distributing the goods, met the hundred of victims, interviewed one by one, and documented the ‘horrible’ experiences of each villager in the arms of their oppressor.

The evacuees accused the military of harassing them, forcing them to pose as guides to the combat operations and suspecting some of them as NPA supporters. The military, on the other hand, cannot be reached for comment as of press time.

Meanwhile, aside from Mayor Grey and his office staffs, Vice-Mayor Marcelina Yu, SB Members Demetrio Bariquit, Jay Bisnar, Rodolfo Mabansag, Romeo Tan and ABC President Wilfredo Sale, the PNP led by Inspector Rolando Baula, DSWD personnel were also present to show sympathy to the evacuees.





More bags of cement needed for concreting road to Villareal

August 18, 2005

VILLAREAL, Samar   - Work having stopped on the 9-kilometer feeder road, this town’s only access to the national highway, due to lack of funds and concreting materials, mayor Reynato R. Latorre has joined vice-mayor Tito V. Cabueños and the Sangguniang Bayan members in seeking for donations of bags of cement.

Mayor Latorre approved SB resolution no. 26, requesting Sangguniang Panlalawigan majority floor leader Antonio D. Bolastig III “to donate/provide bags of cement for the construction of a concrete pavement” over this road.

Vice-mayor Cabueños and the SB members said pointed out that this feeder road has been “left unattended for ages despite several efforts of past administrations and earnest appeals from different sectors including private and religious orders.”

“The worsening condition of this feeder road is so detrimental to the people of Villareal, especially to those whose livelihood solely depends on this nine-kilometer rough road,” they said.

In their resolution, they told Bolastig that during rainy season, this road is “virtually impassable, thereby causing a total stoppage to the trade and industry, depriving farmers and small traders of their already meager income and eventually crippling the economy of the municipality.”

They believe that if no appropriate attention is given to this perennial problem, “it would be inimical to the economic, social and political aspects of the community which is contrary to the declared policies of our National Government.”

Months ago, Villahanons in Metro Manila and abroad donated thousands of bags of cement while the local government of this town contributed gravel, sand and equipment. When concreting actually unreeled, the townspeople, even those coming from the island barrios, volunteered free labor via bayanihan. Cement donations however had been exhausted, thus the town officials have continued requesting for this assistance not only from well-to-do Villahanons but other government officials and sectors as well.

The feeder road had remained a “panaaran” by past provincial and congressional politicians in the past until mayor Latorre campaign among Villahanons in Metro Manila last year.

This road also leads to the town’s agrarian reform community which was established by the Department of Land Reform as a convergence zone for support services.



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