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Region 8 remembers Doña Paz tragedy

SP endorses small-scale mining operations in Samar island-town

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

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


Due to refusal of the prov'l gov't to give them P5,000 bonus

Samar workers to stage walkout, work stoppage protest

January 5, 2005

CATBALOGAN, Samar –  Around ninety percent of the total 1,167 rank-and-file employees of the provincial government here are set to join the one day “mass walk and work stoppage” cum indignation rally to protest the continued refusal of Governor Milagrosa Tan to give them a higher additional bonus.

In a phone interview, Mr. Hermie Sanchez, president of the Alliance of Samar Provincial Employees (ASPE) confirmed this information but quickly clarified that this was not through their initiative but of the whole employees who hold secret “caucus” during office hours.

“Yes, that information you got is true. In fact, some of the employees are now busy making some streamers, banners and leaflets condemning this act of the governor,” Sanchez said adding that these materials will be carried by the protesters during the coming protest rally come next week.

“(But) let me just clarify that this move was not through our initiative, though this was a welcome move for us. We are even happy that there were employees and other group that are now moving fighting this kind of endeavor,” Sanchez said.

The convenor group, however, announced that the supposed protest rally that was earlier reported to be held on January 6, this year, was postponed until next week due to the following reasons: unreadiness of the streamers, banners and leaflet; documents that will support the alleged graft and corruption of the provincial government and unavailability of some important speakers.

It was learned that some key players on the issue were also invited to talk during the event such as from the national headquarters of the COURAGE. The print and television reporters covering the Capitol and some reporters from giant media outlets in Manila were also invited to cover the event.

“We have to wait for this, a big event for us and the Samarnons. So, it’s only proper that the people will know about the issue and what was happening in the present administration.

Meanwhile, the issue stemmed when Gov. Tan announced that there will only be a P1,000 additional Christmas bonus each worker unheeding the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to release P5,000 for each government workers. The order of the President was released through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the governors, city and municipal mayors nationwide.

But when employees were given only P1,000 each, silent protest looms. They started it by wearing black t-shirts, not reporting to work, and refused to process their vouchers and refused to claim the “small slice” of their bonus.

Some of them wore black t-shirts as “their protest” and threatened to continue doing so until provincial government to give in to their demands, which they said, first time to happen in this province. “We will be constrained to do this until the governor will heed our demand,” a certain “Mary,” one of the employee said.

The complaining employees said it would be an insult to them if they will accept that amount while we knew that other government workers received a minimum of P5,000 up to 12,000 as cash gifts and bonuses.

They also contested that Gov. Tan, who purportedly gave the mayors Christmas bonuses ranging from P25,000 to P100,000 on top of other projects, why the employees were only given P1,000.

When asked why is that so, some of the employees hinted that and said: “She got only 30 votes out of total number of employees here, that is why, she 'personalized' us.”

This writer tried to reach Gov. Tan in the Capitol, in her official residence at Himyangan, and even in her residence in Brgy. Mercedes, but was told the governor is in Manila for official business. To really get her side, this paper sent text and called the governor and her staff, but never bothered to send a reply messages.

In an interview, Vice-Governor Jesus B. Redaja said he should not be included in the blame because, according to him, he did all his best to grant the employees of the exact P5,000 bonus but to no avail.

He said, his effort has even resulted in a “heated confrontation” with SP member Joseph Escober, an ex-officio ABC chair, believed to be on the side of the governor.

“Actually, there is fund for that P5,000 extra-bonus. In fact, when the governor requested to revert that nearly P25 million for other purposes, the latter disapproved and the reversion of the nearly P25 million was approved by the provincial board members unanimously,” VG Redaja surmised.

In earlier pronouncements, the governor vehemently denied all accusations hurled against her saying this all “mere fabricated and done to discredit her.”

But some groups here, boasting they have strong evidence and witnesses strongly believed there were "graft and corrupt practices" happening in the administration of Tan. Some of them even filed a graft charge in the Ombudsman in Manila, hoping that the case would move and eventually be tried by the Sandiganbayan this year.





Danger lurks in the Pisak Bridge approaches!

January 5, 2006

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  This was the fear echoed by the Department of Public Works and Higways (DPWH) District Engineer Pablo Aragon when he learned from PIA that all sorts of vehicles still pass the Wright-Taft Road. The road has been declared impassable to heavy vehicles.

In an interview, Aragon said that the pavement in the Pisak Road approaches has collapsed. Passing through the 40-50 meter stretch is deemed dangerous, he said because of continuous erosion. This pavement is between a high mountain and a deep embankment on the other side. Soil erosion continues due to heavy rains.

Aragon added that the regional office has declared a travel advisory closing the road to vehicular traffic, but due to the exigency of the situation, they have remedied the situation by an improvised passage on the shoulder only for light vehicles. Heavy vehicles have been advised to take the other route – the Basey-Lawaan coastal road. PUJs and PUBs meanwhile have been allowed as long as they unload their passengers first, when passing the perilous site. Traveling too at night has been disallowed.

The repeated warnings though have been unheeded. PIA has personally witnessed that all sorts of vehicles pass that way, without necessarily unloading their passengers in the area.

When PUB and PUJ operators were asked why they insist to pass the dangerous site, an operator of a PUB the Boronga-Catbalogan road said that the alternative route doubles the travel time and gas consumption, making a huge dent in their operation expenses. Eaglestar transport company (Manila bound bus for Eastern Samar) has also been seen to have resumed passing the usual route.

Meanwhile, Aragon said that his office has passed recommendations for road restoration that could cost as much as 10Million pesos. Other plans include cutting the mountain or cutting down below, and constructing walls or structures to contain the soil. These, he said have reached the hands 'above. He just hopes, he said that with the reported damage in infrastructure of 60 million pesos in the region, people on top will heed the urgent need to repair the damaged pavement.

He also said that he has called the attention of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the congressman concerned.

Meanwhile, he reiterates: Danger still lurks in the Pisak Bridge!





Villar: OFW remittances propped up RP economy in ’05; OFW investments can do wonders to it in ‘06

January 5, 2006

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, says that the precious remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as in previous years, will continue to be the saving grace of the Philippine economy this year.

“It is no secret that the $12 billion or so OFW remittances were the main driver of the country’s economy in 2005. This year, OFWs would still play an indispensable role in our economic performance. We really have a lot to thank the OFWs for,” says Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party.

The Bangko Sentral forecasts that bank remittances from OFWs are likely to reach $10.3 billion by the end 2005, which is 20 per cent higher than 2004’s level. This excludes transactions coursed outside the banks, thus total remittances are expected to reach $12 billion.

However, Villar cites, “Imagine what this huge amount of money from OFWs can do to our country’s economy if they would be invested into business ventures? The amount would multiply even more.”

Villar, through his “Overseas Filipino Investment Bill” urges OFWs to save, invest and engage in business ventures that would translate their hard-earned money into more economic gains for their country by becoming overseas Filipino investors or OFIs.

“Its good that financial experts and economic managers are now urging banks and other financial institutions as well as private organizations to support OFWs who are interested to become entrepreneurs or investors. We need more of them, in order to create jobs for our people and to start off a positive chain reaction,” adds Villar.

On top of fuss-free procedures and risk-free opportunities, Villar’s bill proposes the issuance of short and long-term OFI bonds by government banks; provision of government financial institutions (GFIs) of credit facilities for OFIs; the allocation of 10% of the total equity of government’s existing businesses or enterprises for OFIs and their families; among other benefits and incentives such as income tax exemptions.

According to Villar, “We should take advantage of the continued strong demand for OFWs worldwide. We are doing the country as well as the OFWs and their families a huge favor by channeling their hard-earned money into profitable ventures.”





Gen. Palparan eager to finish his peace mission in Samar

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 3, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY  –  General Jovito Palparan expressed his willingness to come back to Region 8 to be able to finish his mission for a lasting peace in the conflict stricken areas of the Region.

In an exclusive communication with PIA 8 on New Year’s eve, General Palparan admitted that there are some sectors who are working out for his return to the Region. Although, he thinks that the possibility is remote, as a good soldier, he said that he will go anywhere his superiors would assign him.

He bared that he would love to go back to Eastern Visayas because it is his home Region and because he believes that he still has unfinished commitment in the Region.

General Palparan who is known to those close to him as a soft-spoken gentleman of the military whose commitment to his duty and rule of law, is first and foremost, admitted that he would love coming back to Region 8 in order to really eradicate insurgency in the area which he believes is the hindrance to real development of the area.

General Palparan is a native of Southern Leyte. He took over as chief of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Catbalogan, Samar in February 2005. Upon his taking over of the post, he boldly announced that he would crush the Region’s insurgency problem within the period of six months to one year.

This gave him the picture of a no-nonsense military leader and at the same time earned him many detractors especially those who will be crushed by his commitment to duty.

His stint in the Region was short-lived when four months ago, he was reassigned to Central Luzon. Under his command, the military intensified its operations against the new People’s Army, which some human rights and some cause-oriented groups blamed for the massive evacuation of residents in the hinterland villages of Samar, harassment and intimidation of militant groups.

At least five militant leaders in the Region have been killed and several others were seriously injured by unidentified assailants since March of 2005. All the unresolved killings and foiled slay attempts were blamed by the militant groups on the military.

To date, General Palparan remained firm in denying the allegations. He reiterated his strong denial on the allegations that he did not respect human rights and that he was responsible for the spate of killings mentioned.

As early as the middle part of December, reports coming from several sectors in the Region have it that General Jovito Palparan will be reassigned to Region 8.

Be it as it may, it is the wish of every citizen of Eastern Visayas, that lasting peace will be reached and will prevail in the Region. This only becomes possible with strong will and commitment.





Leyte SMEs learn to do business on the web

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
December 28, 2005

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  – To push Leyte Small and Medium Enterprises to take the appropriate e-commerce strategies that will make them more competitive in the borderless global business, the Leyte Provincial Office of the Department of Trade in the Region will conduct a three- days training on doing business on the web.

DTI Leyte Director Desiderio P. Belas, Jr. reveaked that the training tagged as E-Commerce Made Easy to SMEs will be conducted on January 10-12, 2006 at the Sagkahan National High School Computer Laboratory in Tacloban City in cooperation with the Philippine Trade Training Center, the Provincial Government of Leyte and Bayantel.

At the end of the training, the participants will be able to develop their own company website that will be useful in marketing their products and services, Director Belas assured.

He added that success stories abound about people who are now selling their products and services through the web. Many SMEs are already becoming more profitable by grasping the opportunities offered by electronic commerce.

It is now the right time to offer the opportunities of electronic commerce to the Leyte SMEs in using appropriate technologies and applications, Director Belas continued.

DTI Leyte have sent our invitations to SMEs which have the felt need for e-commerce and those which have export potentials. Director Belas said that he is encouraging the owner or manager of the SMEs to personally attend the training so that they will be able to understand and appreciate more what e-commerce is all about and how e-commerce could become an effective tool in advancing business.

No registration fee is required, Director Belas revealed, but slots are limited on a first come first served basis. Thus, the invited SME owners must submit their confirmation slips on or before January 4, 2006.

For further inquiries, Director Belas suggests that Ms. Araceli Larraga be contacted at telefax number 053-325-6448 or go to the DTI Leyte Office at Sagkahan, Tacloban City.





Consumer group opposes the hiring of foreign consultants by the government

Press Release by
December 28, 2005

PARAÑAQUE CITY  – The National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Inc. (Nasecore) today questioned the wisdom of the government in the hiring of foreign consultants in the privatization of the National Power Corporation which is part of the restructuring of the electricity industry.

This was the reaction of the consumer watchdog to reports that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has allowed the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to hire British Power International (BPI) to handle the contracts of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) with its independent power producers (IPPs).

BPI was hired to advise PSALM and Napocor in the appointment of IPP administrators (IPPAs) that will be done through competitive bidding as mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

“Hiring of foreign consultants is an insult to local experts and a big drain to the coffers of the government as they will not be paid a pittance. This is a manifestation of how our government is controlled and dictated by foreign lending institutions,” Pete Ilagan, president of Nasecore, lamented.

“How much will the Filipino people pay for this foreign consultant and the other consultants who were previously hired to help the government in the implementation of EPIRA?”, Ilagan queried.

The consumer group is also concerned about the cost in the appointment of IPPAs who will administer, conserve and manage the contracted energy output of Napocor IPP contracts fearing that these costs will simply be passed-on to the rates that consumers will pay raising further the prices of electricity.

The IPPs contracted by Napocor are already managed by the companies that set up the generating plants. The appointment of IPPAs will be an additional administrative layer that will raise the cost of operating the IPPs.





Borongan LGU steps up solid waste management

By A. Nicart, PIA Eastern Samar
December 23, 2005

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar  –   With the current dumpsite causing health problems to the people in the vicinity, Borongan local government unit is bent to rehabilitate the existing garbage pile at barangay Camada a few kilometers away of the poblacion.

In an urgent meeting called for by Mayor Fidel Anacta, thru Sangguniang Bayan member Victor Franco, plans to urgently arrest the problem resulting from the stockpile of garbage were discussed.  Reports have reached the mayor’s office of some cases of respiratory infections and gaseous emissions notwithstanding the probable half a million penalty for the LGU for violation of RA 9003, hence the urgent call for all concerned to help in the solution of the problem.

As an immediate alternative, Operation Duso-Basura will be imposed, when garbage workers will have to push all the garbage into the dumpsite utilizing a bulldozer or pay loader from either DPWH or NIA. It has been observed that scavengers who have been frequenting the site have added to the problem because they scratch out the garbage from the site and leave it open into the highway where commuters witness the mess.

Another plan is there to cover the garbage with soil and treat the decaying and hazardous garbage. Likewise, the perimeters of the site will be completely fenced so as to prevent the scavengers from entering the area even as they might be earning from the trash, the most difficult and dangerous way.

Long term plans of the Borongan LGU is to acquire and transfer a dumpsite, away from “civilization” so as to protect them from garbage-borne diseases.  But that is in 2006 yet, Franco quipped.  Some ocular surveys had been conducted for possible dumpsites in as far as sitio Balakdas, an upstream barangay however with access road.

The current site will we converted into an eco-tourism site as observed in other model cities and provinces.  Sooner local artists will be invited to paint on the walls of the dumpsite.

Early next year, some resource speakers from UP Los Banos will be expected to share some of their knowledge on how to properly manage solid wastes.





Water and sanitation projects completed reaches over 600 units in 6 years

By Bong Pedalino, PIA Southern Leyte
December 22, 2005

MAASIN CITY  – Some 642 units of various water and sanitation (WATSAN) projects province-wide had been finished from 1999 up to the third quarter of the current year, 2005, according to Gov. Rosette Y. Lerias.

In a recent talk show program KAABAG at Maasin Cable TV where she was the guest, Gov. Lerias spelled out some of the highlights of her administration in what looked like a year-ender report.

She singled out among others the water and sanitation projects like shallow wells and deep wells which this year alone totaled 77 units with a cost of P 7,036,676.02.

Among the latest beneficiary barangays of the WATSAN were Bato I, Hantag, Manhilo, all from this city; Sindangan, in Macrohon, and Buac Gamay, inSogod.

Another program consistently carried out by the provincial government since 1999 up to the present was the Civic Action (CIVAC), whose overall beneficiaries in six year’s time has reached 96,785 individuals.

“The CIVAC was a very visible way of bringing the government closer to the people, particularly those living in the innermost, hinterland villages of the province,” said Gov. Lerias.

Aside from free consultation and free medicines given during the CIVAC, several other free services can be availed, like tooth extraction, circumcision, massage, and haircut by the Philippine Army.

The barangay tanods will also be briefed with lectures on legalities and technicalities of basic laws for an effective peace and order and crime prevention in their locality.

In the same KAABAG program the Governor also mentioned some infrastructure projects completed like some educational facilities under the TEEP and SEDIP, and construction of bridges under President Arroyo’s Bridge Program.

In keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season, Gov. Lerias also disclosed that on December 15 she led in an activity called “Pamaskong Handog” where in Maasin some 100 indigent families received packages and another 110 family-beneficiaries in Padre Burgos also got some “bundles of joy.”



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