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Paranas residents rally against communism

Samareños to oppose Enrile-owned logging firm operations in Samar

Gov. Tan mum on solving perennial flooding in Samar

Peace rallyists brave the rain to oppose communism

NPA attacked SAMELCO personnel

Reported case of Meningococcemia in Samar kills 1

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


AHRC urges for an impartial investigation on the killing of 8 farmers in Leyte

November 23, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based regional human rights organization, calls today in a globally circulated email of urgent appeal to human rights defenders for an intervention in asking the Philippine government, in particular the Ombudsman for Military and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent and impartial investigation without delay into the killings of 8 agrarian reform farmer beneficiaries perpetrated by the elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte in the early morning of Monday, November 21, 2005.

It was reported that farmers belonging to the San Agustin Farmer Beneficiaries Association (SAFBA) together with some members of Bayan Muna Partylist were about to do their 'balik-uma' or positioning on the land awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) based on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), when elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Adrian Benedicto suddenly opened fire on the farmers at the place where at least 46 people were staying.

It that incident the farmers were joined by members of the Bayan Muna, a party list organization. It was the Bayan Muna members who had been helping the farmers in the follow up of their papers in this particular land dispute until the land was awarded to them, according to the account of some survivors.

Initial report said that 7 people died on the spot but one of the wounded died at the hospital while being treated. Several wounded victims who suffered gunshot and shrapnel wounds were admitted at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) in Tacloban City for medical treatment.

Seven of those killed were identified as Bernabe Borra Jr. y Barbosa of Brgy. Teraza, Palo, Leyte; Eric Nogal y Selada; Roel Obijas y Lacaba; Perlito Borra; Gerry Almerino of Brgy Capirawan, Palo, Leyte; Eufemia Borra y Barbosa of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte; and Alma Bartoline. Bartoline was seven months pregnant at the time of her death.

Eleven from the wounded victims of the incident where identified as Ramy Cumpio (organizer of Bayan Muna partylist), Mark Pansa/Monsa, Ferdinand Montanejos, Bernabe Borra Sr., Ranilo Orseda, Berlito Barbosa y Borra, Ismael Regato, Cora Bernabe, Richard Cornesta y Margallo, Christopher Bayase, and Ariel Timbo Capatoy.

It was also reported that eight persons have been arrested and detained by the military and police in Palo, Leyte. They were identified as Marivic Macawile, secretary-general of KADAMAY and organizer of Bayan Muna, a resident of Brgy. Utap, Tacloban City; Joselito Tobe, secretary-general of Concerned Citizen's for Justice and Peace (CCJP-Metro Tacloban) and Bayan Muna, a resident of Brgy. Cabuynan, Tanauan, Leyte; Arnel Dizon y Margallo; Mariel Obijas y Dizon, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte; Eulogio Pilapil, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte; Artemio Amante, a resident of Brgy. Capirawan, Palo, Leyte; Baltazar Mardo, a resident of Brgy. Salvacion, Alang-alang, Leyte; and Bernardo Lantajo, a resident of Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte.

Human rights organizations in Eastern Visayas claimed that the incident was a pure massacre by the military of innocent farmers occupying the area suspected to be members of the New People’s Army.

The military however claimed that the incident was an encounter. Military report said that it was a legitimate operation by the elements of the 19th IB after they received report from the civilian populace regarding the presence of armed group conducting a meeting in Barangay San Agustin. Maj. Lope Dagoy, commanding officer of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga, Leyte immediately dispatched a platoon of soldiers to conduct operations in the place where the armed group was located. The report said that the armed group, upon sensing the presence of the soldiers, fired the first shot that prompted the soldiers to fire back, which resulted to the killing of 8 persons believed to be members of the New People’s Army.

The military had in the past accused the party list organization Bayan Muna and its members as being sympathizers and combatants of the New Peoples Army. Gen. Jovito Palparan, the former commander of the 8th Infantry Division, has labeled the progressive party-list as a 'recruitment agency of the NPAs' during his term as commanding general.





8ID scores again in Leyte

November 22, 2005

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  On November 21, 2005 at around 5:30 a.m. one (1) platoon from 19IB under Maj. Lope Dagoy, responding on a report from the civilian populace regarding the presence of an armed group in the area, encountered an estimated 40 Communist Terrorists (CTs) at vicinity Brgy San Agustin, Palo, Leyte. The encounter started when the troops were fired upon by the suspected CTs which lasted 45 minutes and resulted to the recovery of one M16 rifle with SN 394675, one Carbine rifle with SN 482456, two shotguns, two Cal .38 revolvers, two Motorola handheld radios, one camera, two medical kits, and subversive documents with high intelligence value. Ten CTs were killed, nine were wounded and eight were captured including one minor. Also recovered from the scene of the encounter were eight rounds empty shells for M14, six rounds empty shells for M16 and 19 rounds empty shells for carbine rifle. No government troops were injured.

Photo shows LtGen. Teodosio, Commander AFP Central Command, MajGen. Ramos, 8ID Commanding General and Col. Fernando, 802nd Brigade Commanding Officer, along with the recovered firearms and equipment.

The encounter is a result of the reports made by the local residents thereat complaining about the extortion and harassment acts of the CTs in their areas. These are also in confirmation of the information volunteered by the NPA surrenderees who are cooperating well with the government authorities as they are already fed up of the broken promises of good life as promised by CPP/NPA leaders.

This information is a clear manifestation that the Philippine Army has the support of the people contrary to the claims of the CTs. With this development, the troops are now closing in on the different havens of the CTs so they could not continue with their extortion and terroristic acts.

There was no violation of the Rules of Engagement as the troops arrived at the area at around 3:00 a.m. and immediately noticed armed elements among the group but hesitated to fire due to the possible presence of civilians. At around 5:30 a.m., as the troops were slowly creeping towards the location of the armed group, they were fired upon by the latter causing the firefight which lasted 45 minutes. After the firefight, the troops identified the wounded and immediately rushed them to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Initially there were nine fatalities but one of the wounded expired at the hospital.

Maj. Gen. Bonifacio B. Ramos, the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division is expecting more engagements with the CTs as he directed all subordinate units to conduct continuous operations against the CPP/ NPA in order to protect the civilian populace from their terroristic acts.

On the other hand, General Ramos is calling all CPP/NPA members to bring down their firearms, return to the folds of the law and live a peaceful life.    [see related news





On the predicted collapse of local healthcare system due to the exodus of medical professionals…

Villar: Let’s look for solutions

By Philippine News Service
November 22, 2005

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, says that since the problem brought about by the so-called ‘brain drain’ in the medical profession has been brought to everyone’s attention long time back, its time for concerned agencies or authorities put their heads together in looking for a plausible solution once and for all.

“All of us have been talking about the problem of ‘brain drain’ not only in the medical field, but in other profession as well. Talking endlessly about the problem will not solve it. I think it’s high time for concerned individuals or agencies to look for possible solutions to the forecasted crisis in the medical sector,” says Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party.

Both the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Alliance of Health Workers have expressed alarm over the exodus of Filipino nurses and doctors. So much so that the two groups predict that the country’s healthcare system would collapse in the next few years.

Based on a study by former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan, some 100,000 nurses have left the Philippines to work abroad since 1994, half of which left the country in the last five years.

Some 50,000 left in the last five years, but nursing schools, which have mushroomed in recent years, have only managed to produce 33,370 nurses over the same period. Moreover, the study pointed out the recent trend of doctors working as nurses abroad. It cited that more than 3,500 doctors have left the country as nurses since 2000 and around 4,000 doctors are enrolled in nursing schools this year.

According to Villar, “More than the exodus of Filipino doctors and nurses, what is alarming and sad is the fact that more and more doctors are opting to work as nurses abroad. And nurses are also known to take up care-giving jobs abroad. That is really a big cause for concern.”

Some of the reasons cited by the medical professionals in opting to work abroad are low salaries, political instability, poor working environment and in general to seek the proverbial greener pastures to improve the living conditions of their children or family.

“At the end of the day, it all boils down to low salaries and we cannot fault them for looking for better opportunities outside of our country. It’s a fact that private and public hospitals cannot offer salaries at par or even close to what hospitals abroad are offering our doctors and nurses. Its good that in the proposed 2006 national budget, there is already a provision to increase salaries of nurses,” cites Villar.

Villar filed Senate Resolution 1835 that seeks for an increase in the salary of government doctors by raising the minimum basic pay of physicians to at least Salary Grade 23 or a 30% pay increase. He also filed for a separate bill proposing for the increase in salaries of barangay health workers.





43rd Infantry (SEARCHERS) Battalion scores! 16 firearms recovered, 6 NPAs captured, one killed

November 21, 2005

SOGOD, Southern Leyte  – The All Soul’s day encounter between the Evelyn Dublin Command (EDC) and the 43rd Infantry Battalion (43IB) almost decimated the Communist Terrorist (CT) group in the 5th District of Leyte.

LtC. Farnacio presented the recovered war materials during and after the encounter with the rebel returnees/captured to MGen. Bonifacio B. Ramos AFP, CG, 8ID, PA.

In his report to MGen. Bonifacio B. Ramos (Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army) and Col. Pedro D. Fernando (Commanding Officer of 802nd Infantry Brigade, 8ID, PA), LtC. Raul M. Farnacio, Commanding Officer of the 43rd Infantry Battalion, 8ID, PA, disclosed that at about 11:20 in the morning of November 2, his troops encountered more or less twenty (20) fully armed CTs at vicinity Bgy. Maslog, Baybay, Leyte. Firefight lasted for about 30 minutes inflicting undetermined casualties on the enemy side while one was slightly wounded from the government troops.

The encounter yielded to the recovery of one (1) claymore mine, one (1) US Cal .22 rifle, one (1) Cal .45 pistol, one (1) rifle grenade, two (2) ICOM radios, M16 magazines and ammunitions, two (2) cellular phones, medical equipment and subversive documents with high intelligence value. A day later, while in pursuit of the enemy, government troops apprehended two (2) CT Members; one (1) believed to be a squad leader of the CT armed group and simultaneously recovered two (2) high powered M16 rifles, five (5) magazines and a sniper’s scope.

Three days after the encounter, the government troops discovered seven (7) homemade shotguns wrapped in a sack at the vicinity of the CTs’ temporary encampment. Then on November 8, troops recovered a dead body that was identified as CT member Maricris Lina alias Kaying who was reportedly wounded during the encounter. It was learned that alias Kaying was left crying for help to her group but they fled and ran for their lives. She was 14 years old when recruited and 17 when she died - a clear manifestation of the CPP/NPA’s recruitment of minors which is a gross violation of Human Rights.

As the pursuit operations continued, the troops recovered another three high powered M16 rifles and two homemade shotguns near the vicinity where the encounter occurred. It was believed that the recovered firearms were kept by the fleeing CTs during their escape after the encounter.

In an interview with the surrendered CTs, they revealed that the barangay populace no longer provides them any support that most of the time they opt to steal root crops and ripe bananas for survival. They added that there are now only 18 remaining members left in their group that most of them are thinking of returning to the government’s fold due to the broken promises made by their leaders.

With these new developments, LtC. Farnacio encouraged the civilian populace to continue supporting the Philippine Army in its fight to finally put an end to the CTs as evidenced by the firefight on All Soul’s day that almost decimated the remaining members of Evelyn Dublin Command (EDC). He said that the information given by the civilian populace was an essential element in tracking down the CTs anywhere they hide. He further urged the barangay folks to continue rejecting the armed group and denying them of any support. These, he said, will lead to the complete neutralization of the CPP/NPA members in a matter of time.

MGen. Ramos has these to say to the armed group, “Maricris died because of your recruitment, she could have finished her studies and have a good future. The government offers you a new life, your Army in Southern Leyte and 5th District of Leyte welcomes you, lay down your arms and surrender for good.  Let us work together for unity and peace.”





Health authorities say government is better prepared vs. Bird Flu

November 19, 2005

Provincial health authorities discusses with the local media on the Bird Flu phenomenon during a televised media forum held at Summer’s Pensionne House in Catbalogan, Samar.

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Though the country may not remain bird flu-free, health authorities here claimed that the government, particularly the Department of Health (DOH), is better prepared this time to take preventive measures against the much-dreaded avian influenza.

Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dulce Cernal said that if the health department was able to properly handle the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak a few years back, much more so now when it has in place well-organized plans and strategies to prevent or contain the bird flu pandemic which hit neighboring countries in Asia and is expected to enter Philippine territory.

Dr. Cernal said the provincial health office has already organized the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) to monitor reported cases of bird flu infection and to provide immediate response in case of an outbreak.

Among the preventive measures the PHO will undertake, Cernal informed, is the conduct of information campaigns to educate people how to detect birds infected with avian influenza and to avoid contamination with the virus.

The provincial health chief said she would be calling the agencies that will compose the Provincial Avian Influenza Task Force (PAITF) so that plans will be laid out in the conduct of the information campaign.

Executive Order No. 280 signed in February of last year, which was passed to provide response to the raging bird flu pandemic that threatened Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, designated the health secretary as the over-all crisis manager. At the provincial level, the provincial health officers are expected to take the lead.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist Dr. Sheila Tante underscored the importance of media in informing the public about bird flu. She said since the mortality rate of those infected with the AI virus is relatively high (mortality rate is as high as 58%), what media can do is to promote public awareness so that contamination with AI virus could be avoided.

Dr. Tante raised apprehensions that the virus may have already entered the country through migratory birds that pass through the archipelago from the Northern Hemisphere at the onset of winter, although no cases have been detected yet.

In line with this, Dr. Tante warned the public to be vigilant and report immediately to health authorities cases of deaths of poultry fowls and not to touch their carcasses to avoid contamination.

Reported death due to bird flu since January of last year have already reached 62. The greatest number of bird flu cases have been detected in Vietnam although there are also cases of infection in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.





2 Samar solons prioritizes rehabilitation of Maharlika highways in Samar

November 18, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar – Tired of the voluminous complaints from the commuters passing the bedraggled Maharlika Highways in this province, the two representatives of this battled province has acted making the construction and renovation of this “talk-of-the-town” road as their “most priority” among their projects.

In the second district, Rep. Catalino “Cata” V. Figueroa (Nationalista Party) told reporters here on Tuesday that budgets for this project undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has already been approved and that the bidding will start soon this month.

After the “total” rehabilitation of the San Juanico-Calbiga road section, his congressional office is now prioritizing the Calbiga-Catbalogan road project under package 4. The budget for this project reached to P1.4 billion, it was learned.

“The scheduled bidding of this project will be on November 23, this year,” Figueroa said assuring that it cannot be postponed anymore due to the “immediateness” of the project.

Figueroa said, he and his colleague Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Liberal Party) of the first district are doing their best to repair these roads that have been causing headaches to commuters.

“These scenarios often discouraged potential investors and tourists to visit our place because of the dilapidated roads,” he said.

He said Congressman Uy has scheduled the bidding of the Catbalogan-Calbayog (Package 3), and Calbayog-Allen (package 2) on November 21, also this year.

“We are really doing our best, uniting our minds though were came from different political parties just to make sure that our constituents be satisfied with their decision of electing us into office,” Figueroa said.

The solon also assailed the provincial leadership of Gov. Milagrosa Tan for allegedly not doing “best” in the interests of the Samareños. “As we all know, she has done nothing to our province. She has even done nothing to our provincial hospital, and our patients (reportedly) just dying there,” he said in his pitch voice.

Meanwhile, DPWH Samar District Engineer Pablo Aragon informed that the on-going projects of the DPWH as endorsed by Rep. Figueroa amounted to P26 million including the constructions of several farm-to-market roads, covered courts, legislative and government offices buildings, and other major infrastructures in the second district.

Records obtained at the congressional office of Figueroa revealed that the solon allotted some P1.5 million each in every covered court in the municipalities of Villarreal, Daram, Catbalogan, San Sebastian, Jiabong, Zumarraga, Calbiga, Basey, Paranas and Talalora.

The Samar solon also gave budgets for the construction of legislative building in Motiong, executive building in San Jose de Buan and government offices in Zumarraga towns. The farm-to-markets roads Cambayan and Tinaugan in Basey; San Vicente and Palanyugon, Catbalogan; and the construction and rehabilitation of New Minarog-Maypangi-Candumacol-Bunga road section in Motiong were also given funds.

“I included farm-to-markets roads in my priority projects because I believe that with this roads, it will be easy for our farmers to bring their farm products to the nearest highways or poblacion to trade their products. That way, we can help the poorest among the poor,” Figueroa disclosed.



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