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Soria orders manhunt vs. 3 pushers in buybust shoot-out

PRO8 anti-illegal gambling drive nets 7 persons

Waiver on secrecy tops Chiz’s filed bills for 16th congress

Army troopers distributed computers, books to elementary schools in Northern Samar

PRO8 targets “zero crime” rate as SY 2013-2014 starts

Newly registered associations await projects, assistance

PRO8 to honor election heroes

Army troops conducts caravan for SAFE 2013

PRO8 leads 100 bikers for SAFE 2013

Chiz to US: pay P58-M reef penalty in cash, not kind


Chiz bats for cedula abolition

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
July 24, 2013

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero is pushing for the scrapping of the cedula saying it has long lost its significance and value in the present age.

Escudero filed Senate Bill Number 1082 (S.B.N. 1082) abolishing the use of cedula or the community tax certificate as a form of identification. The cedula is required when, as among others, one acknowledges a document before a notary public, takes an oath of office or is appointed to a government position.

The senator said the cedula is already useless to people of today as several other regular proof of identifications are already available and are more competent evidence of identity such as passport, driver’s license and other government-issued identification cards.

“The cedula now proves to be an unnecessary burden imposed on our people who are required to present it when doing public transactions. It was deemed useless by our forebears during the colonial times, it is more so today”.

The cedula was first implemented as a 19th century tax reform in the Philippines during the Spanish rule. After the tribute system or head tax to Spain was abolished, the cedula was issued to all Filipinos upon payment of a residence tax.

In 1896, katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio tore up their cedulas in defiance of Spanish rule in Balintawak. It was what is now known as the Cry of Pugad Lawin that signaled the beginning of the Philippine Revolution.

At the same time, the bill seeks to repeal the provisions of Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, giving powers to local government units to impose residence tax. The cedula serves as proof of one’s payment of community tax.

“Abolishing the cedula practice is also like scrapping a relic of our colonial past. Yes, we must always look back at our past to know where we are going, but the cedula is a thing of the past that should already be buried for its obsolescence” Escudero said.





VP Binay’s office helps 3,949 OFWs, families

By OVP Media
July 23, 2013

MANILA – Vice President Jejomar C. Binay's accomplishment report has revealed that under his leadership, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has acted on 3,949 requests for assistance from Overseas Filipino Workers and their families since 2010.

These requests ranged from repatriation, assistance on salary and benefits claims, legal assistance for detained OFWs, and grievances against recruiters and agents.

Binay, as Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, had directed his office to coordinate closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Philippine embassies and consulates to respond to these requests.

The Vice President joined President Benigno S. Aquino III and non-government organizations in appealing to Saudi authorities for the release of Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza.

Lanuza was sentenced to death in Damman, Saudi Arabia for killing a Saudi national, claiming that it was an act of self-defense.

The government secured his release February this year.

“Ito po ay dahil sa kagandahang loob ng hari ng Saudi Arabia na si King Abdullah na naglabas ng isang royal directive na sasagutin ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ang balanse ng blood money na hinihingi ng pamilya ng napatay ni Dondon,” said the Vice President.

The balance amounted to SAR 2.3 million, or P24.9 million. Lanuza's family had previously raised SAR 700,000 or P7.5 million for the required blood money.

The Saudi embassy in Manila had released a statement that said Lanuza’s release was “the result of collective efforts including the coordination and cooperation between the Saudi Embassy in Manila and the Office of the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines as H.E. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, is the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs.”

The OVP, in coordination with the concerned agencies, has also been responsible for the repatriation of a 3-year old boy who was fostered by his mother's friends in Kuwait after she had been deported to the Philippines due to the expiration of her working visa.

Among other OFWs that the OVP had helped were Alfredo Salmos, survivor of an accidental electrocution in Saudi Arabia in 2010; Milagros Villarin, who died of natural causes in her home in Belgium; and the two Filipina maids of the relatives of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Vice President's intercession also helped in reconciling the families of OFWs Jonard Langamin and Robertson Mendoza. Langamin was sentenced to death after he killed Mendoza due to a work-related dispute in Saudi. The family of Mendoza forgave Langamin after Binay talked to both families.

The Vice President had also led efforts in repatriating thousands of OFWs in Syria who were affected by the civil war. Most of these OFWs were undocumented.

According to the report, the Vice President’s foreign visits "have also resulted in strengthened relations with the countries he has been to, not to mention the opportunities for employment for his fellow Filipinos."

After Binay's trip to Germany in June, he announced that an initial batch of 50 nurses from the Philippines will be deployed in 2013, with another 500 set to be deployed by 2014.

The deployment is due to the need for healthcare workers in the European country.

The Philippines and Germany previously signed an agreement in Manila to deploy Filipino nurses to the European country last March.

The Vice President also got the assurance of European businessmen that the Philippines' 80,000-strong contingent of seafarers based in Europe will be safe from blacklisting.

News reports have previously circulated that the European Union was set to blacklist the country after it failed to comply with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) in an audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Vice President for External Affairs Henry Schumacher also assured Binay that seafarers will continue working in EU flagged vessels.

The Vice President in June had promised that the country was committed to adhering to the STCW requirements.

“It is crucial that we fulfill the requirements, knowing that the jobs of 80,000 of our seafarers in Europe as well as the rest of the 400,000 Filipino seamen in various foreign flagged vessels would be affected if we fail the upcoming EMSA audit,” Binay said.

Binay also announced in 2012 that the ban on Filipino au pairs to Europe since 1997 was lifted after an ad hoc Technical Working Group on au pairs came up with the new "Guidelines on the Departure of Au Pairs to Europe."

“Au pair” is a French term meaning “on par” or “equal to”. Filipinos under the au pair program “live on an equal basis in a reciprocal, caring relationship” with their host families, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The intent is for the foreigner to be at par or equal to locals, by being treated as a member of the family instead of a domestic servant.

The ban was imposed to reports of maltreatment, unfair compensation, excessive working hours, discrimination and sexual assault, and abuse of the system by illegal recruiters and syndicates.

Binay lauded the ban, saying that it “is sure to bring employment opportunities to Filipinos.”

The Vice President, as chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and chair of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruiters (PTFAIR), instituted changes in 2011 that would help concerned agencies battle the threat of human trafficking.

In 2011, the IACAT drafted new offloading guidelines to prevent suspected victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Binay also ordered that the changes should also minimize abuse of discretion on the part of immigration officers and respect the right to travel of passengers.

He also ordered the mandatory interviews of Filipinos repatriated abroad.

"We need to determine whether or not repatriated Filipinos were victims of illegal recruitment, to detect patterns of deployment employed by illegal recruiters and trafficking syndicates, and to minimize re-victimization of Filipino irregular OFWs," he said.

Under Binay, the IACAT Operations Center was also created to bolster and coordinate the drive against human trafficking. 1343 Actionline was also launched, providing a venue for individuals to report human trafficking activities locally and overseas.

He commended the passage of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, which was passed by Aquino February this year.

Binay said the inclusion of attempted trafficking will allow the government to become pro-active rather than reactive in eliminating human trafficking cases and prevent OFWs from being abused.

“The previous law only allowed us to file trafficking in persons cases against perpetrators only after the actual act of trafficking had been committed. Because of this, our kababayans had to be subjected to abuse first before trafficking charges could be filed,” he said.

Binay also revealed that IACAT was able to secure 80 convictions and jailed 99 human traffickers since 2010.

A team dedicated to issuing and monitoring of warrants of arrest of suspected human traffickers in line with the recommendation of the United States State Department Global Trafficking in Persons report was also formed by the IACAT in 2012.

Binay also reported that the Philippines has been on Tier 2 status in the GTIP report under the Aquino administration. It was previously on Tier 2-Watchlist during the Arroyo administration, and in danger of being imposed sanctions on foreign aid by the US.

"We will continue to strive to retain, if not upgrade, our GTIP status and keep our people protected from human trafficking," the Vice President said.

A meeting between Binay and European Commission Home Affairs chief Cecilia Malstrom during the 7th European Development Days in Brussels, Belgium also resulted with the Philippines offering to share its experience in migrant worker protection and anti-human trafficking.

“I informed the commissioner that we have ratified the ILO (International Labour Organization) convention concerning decent work for domestic workers, and pointed out our efforts to protect our OFWs and address the social costs of migration,” said Binay.

“I told the commissioner that as a result of these efforts we have developed perhaps the most advanced infrastructure for protecting our nationals abroad,” he added.

The Vice President said that Maelstrom had agreed that Europe could learn a lot from the Philippine experience.





Housing sector under VP Binay gaining ground

By OVP Media
July 23, 2013

MANILA – The housing sector under Vice President Jejomar C. Binay’s leadership continues to gain ground in its duty to provide Filipinos with decent and affordable housing.

The Vice President’s accomplishment report over the last three years shows that the housing sector has been able to serve 333,133 families, 68 percent of which belong poor and low-income families.

It also indicated that the housing sector has generated about 2.5 million jobs since 2010.

“Sa bawat isang daang trabaho na nagagawa sa pagtatayo ng bahay, labing-walong dagdag na trabaho pa ang nalilikha sa iba’t ibang industriya tulad ng pagawaan ng pako, yero, hollow blocks, semento at iba pa,” the Vice President explained.

Binay also continues to initiate reforms in the housing sector through persistent efforts to bring to justice Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee.

The case against GA stemmed from an investigation which shows GA using ghost borrowers and fake documents to siphon more than P6 billion loans from Pag-IBIG.

“We will pursue our fight for justice for the ordinary Filipino workers who have been victimized by Globe Asiatique,” he said.

The Supreme Court (SC) also decided to junk the petition filed by Lee which sought to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting him in connection with the syndicated estafa charges filed against him and other executives of Globe Asiatique Realty and Holdings Corp (GA).

Delfin Lee and his son, Dexter, remain at large, with President Aquino offering a P2 million bounty for their capture.

Meanwhile, Pag-IBIG has reported in May 2013 that it has generated P9.28 billion in dividends.

“Through a policy of prudent fiscal management and other reforms, we were able to improve the services of the agency and make it more profitable. And now, Pag-Ibig has bolstered its status as one of the country's premier GOCCs or GFIs – fully deserving of its 'A' classification,” Binay said.

In 2011, Binay unveiled a “rent-to-own program” by Pag-IBIG for public utility drivers and operators. The program was part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Pag-IBIG Fund and seven transport groups, with more than 200,000 drivers and operators expected to benefit from it. An MoU between the Fund and the Department of Education for a Home-Matching and End-User Housing Loan program for teachers who had no homes of their own was also initiated that year.

In the same year, the Vice President also led the implementation of Administrative Order No. 9 for the construction of houses for 21,800 soldiers and police officers.

Plans for a “Working People’s Shelter Program” were also revealed by Binay August last year which he said could lead to the construction of more houses for the poor.

"The employer-private partner advances the Pag-ibig Fund membership dues and also guarantees the payment of housing units. The Pag-ibig Fund releases the developmental loan to the employer, who will then engage a private developer to undertake housing construction, or via a retail loan to the buyer or employee. If the beneficiary fails to pay, the employer buys back the housing unit and commits to replace the buyer or employee," he explained.

According to Binay, the scheme would result in more collaborations as national and local government agencies seek to provide the community's basic requirements such as health and education.

Binay had also stressed the need for close collaboration among private sector developers, LGUs, and urban planners in relocating informal settler families to safer communities.

"The urgent need now is to relocate the affected families not only to safe places but also to areas that provide basic services and a sustainable environment. It is also our priority to remove informal settler families (ISFs) from danger areas," the Binay said.

"To achieve this, I propose to continue to bring together closely private sector developers, the LGUs, and urban planners. Then let us put our heads together with other local and international organizations who understand urban development and housing in the light of climate change. Then we integrate all our approaches,” Binay added.

The housing sector had also responded to the various typhoons and monsoon-caused floods last year through Binay’s declaration of moratoriums on the payments of loans to key shelter agencies by families affected by disaster.

A three month moratorium on housing loan amortizations was implemented by Pag-IBIG, Home Guaranty Corporation, and the NHA, while the National Housing Finance Corporation implemented a six month moratorium for victims of typhoon Pablo in December.

The KSAs also donated P3.6 million for relief goods for the typhoon victims, as well as conducted relief drives in affected areas.

In the wake of the massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in August, the NHMFC also implemented a six month moratorium.

Binay also directed Pag-IBIG to set up satellite offices and operate during holidays to be able to respond quickly to requests for loans and provide other services to affected families.

Pag-IBIG members in areas declared to be under state of calamity are now also allowed to borrow as much as 80 percent of their total contributions at an interest rate of 5.95 percent. The loan shall be amortized in 24 months with a grace period of three months.

The Vice President also encouraged Filipinos working in strife-ridden countries to avail of the Pag-IBIG’s Special Assistance Program.

Under the program, members may withdraw their total savings without having to wait for 20 years for their membership to mature. They may also avail of a 6-month moratorium on their housing and short-term loan payments.

A project collaboration between the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the World Bank has also resulted in the formulation of the National Informal Settlements Upgrading Strategy (NISUS) that will be used to create a Comprehensive Shelter Plan for ISFs.

The shelter plan aims at ensuring that ISFs will have access to basic social services such as schools, public markets, health care centers, and livelihood opportunities at the resettlement areas. The said project also guarantees that resettled families will have decent homes that will nurture their hopes and affirm their dignity.

Binay said the government has also started the construction of housing units that will benefit various indigenous groups throughout the country.

At the start of the year, the National Housing Authority, the Office for Southern Cultural Communities - Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OSCC-ARMM) and the local government of Sibutu had allied to provide houses to 2,000 Badjaos located along the shores of Barangay Nunucan and Mochton in Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi.

Under the agreement, the Indigenous Peoples Community (IPC) in Tawi-Tawi under the Sibutu Badjao Resettlement Program will be benefited with 100 stilt houses, foot bridges and a septic tank.

In August 2012, the Vice President also led the awarding of an initial 16 housing units to Nabuklod Aeta families who were qualified under the NHA’s Housing Assistance Program for Indigenous Peoples (HAPIP) in Nabuklod Upland Resettlement Project in Brgy. Nabuklod, Floridablanca.

This was due to NHA Board Resolution No. 5342 dated 22 July 2012, which had set a P14 million fund for the construction of 350 core houses for Nabuklod Aeta communities in Floridablanca such as Brgy. Nabuklod, and including those of Brgys. Camachille and Mawakat.





“Urban poor condition worsened under Aquino” - Kadamay

July 22, 2013

QUEZON CITY – “The Aquino government boasts of an economic growth even though the underlying economic fundamentals and the situation of the people continue to get worse. The decrepit condition of the urban poor is testament to the failure of this government to even make a dent in reducing poverty.”

This was the statement of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) as the militant group led an estimate ten thousand protesters from urban poor communities in Metro Manila and major cities during President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“The number of poor and hungry Filipinos increased due to growing unemployment rates. The economic growth the government boasts about is meaningless to us. While prices of basic commodities and services soar, the call for substantial wage hike has fallen on deaf ears. Social services including health services are being privatized,” said Kadamay National Chairperson Gloria Arellano.

“Aquino’s adherence to neoliberal policies of ‘globalization’ through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) that open up the economy for big foreign and local investors is to blame. More than 500,000 poor families living in so-called ‘informal settlements’ in Metro Manila face massive dislocation under Aquino’s PPP, with an urgent target of 20,000 families in the next six months,” Arellano said.

Defective superficial, stopgap solutions

“The Aquino government’s centerpiece anti-poverty program that is Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is being exposed as a mere dole-out and an anti-insurgency mechanism. It will not lift millions of poor from poverty.”

SWS surveys show poverty rose from 8.9M families in 2012 to 20.6M families in 2013 while 3.6M families went hungry in 2010 rising to 7.9M families in March 2013.

“The Aquino administration also dreams of wiping off urban poor communities from the map by sending them off to far-flung and dangerous relocation sites in the name of development. This, too, shall fail because it does not solve the lack of industrial development that will create sustainable jobs and the lack of a genuine land reform in the countrysides to curb rural-urban migration.”

“We aspire for a genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. But our hopes lie not in the Aquino government anymore as facts point to its subservience to its real boss – the big foreign and local businesses. Our hope rests on the collective strength of the urban poor and the people to resist anti-poor governments, until a government truly responsive of the people’s interests is in place,” Arellano concluded.





P1.7 million drugs seized, 105 nabbed in EV

By RPCRD, Police Regional Office 8
July 22, 2013

CAMP KANGLEON, Palo, Leyte – Agents of the Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group arrested a total of 105 persons and confiscated an estimated P1.7 million worth of illegal drugs in a series of anti-narcotics operations across the region since January 1 this year.

But while the illegal drugs situation in Eastern Visayas is not alarming, the region’s top cop assured that close monitoring and continuous anti-illegal drugs operations is being conducted by his men to minimize the proliferation of the drug menace in the region.

“Its reputation as one of the fastest growing regions in the country attracts not only legitimate businesses but also illegitimate ones while the region’s geographical location with wide coastal areas and several entrance and exit points lures drug financiers to ply their trade here,” PCSupt Elmer R. Soria, PRO8 Regional Director said.

He added that intelligence-driven operations against illegal drugs are being conducted by his men aiming at high value targets and eventually “put these pushers behind bars.”

Soria informed that the intensified anti-drugs crackdown has netted a good number of drug suspects in 83 operations that yielded 223.62 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” and 165.61 grams of dried marijuana leaves with a total worth of P1.718.042.00.

The arrested violators, 85 pushers and 20 users, were rounded-up by the police in drug buy-bust operations, raids and searches. These resulted in the filing of 86 cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in different courts regionwide, the police official added.

Meanwhile, in Northern Samar, a 29-year old jobless man was arrested by the police in a buy-bust operation Sunday morning at Capul seaport in Brgy. 2 Poblacion.

Nabbed was Arnel Magdaraog, a resident of Brgy. San Luis in said town, after selling sachet of suspected “shabu” worth P500 to a poseur-buyer at around 11 a.m.

The police also confiscated three sachets of suspected “shabu”, a scissor and a disposable lighter from the suspect’s possession.

Suspect was brought to Northern Samar Police Provincial Officer for further investigation and filing of drug charges while confiscated items were brought to Northern Samar Provincial Crime Laboratory Office for laboratory examination.





International community press for the resumption of GPH-NDFP peace talks

By International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
July 20, 2013

QUEZON CITY – Hoping that international pressure would bring the PH-NDFP talks back on track, peace advocates and rights defenders at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) called on the Aquino government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front, citing poverty and the re-escalation of human rights abuses as the most compelling reasons to go back to the negotiating table.

“The landlessness of peasants, the lack of decent wages and job opportunities, decent housing and basic social services are weighing down on the lives of the Filipino people and violate their socio-economic rights. Those who resist and work for change are met with political repression by the State. We want the peace negotiations resumed to help resolve such issues,” the delegates said in a press conference.

The ICHRPP added its voice to the call by local peace advocates for the resumption of the stalled talks on the basis of previously signed agreements, specifically the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

“We lament the fact that the Aquino government has practically terminated the talks by ignoring or violating the 10 or so agreements previously signed by the GPH and NDFP. Aquino’s so-called ‘new approach’ of localized talks combined with counterinsurgency operations disregards and undermines all previous agreements, making the talks impossible,” said ICHRPP Spokesperson Teddy Casiño.

“The ICHRPP plans to focus international attention on the talks and compel both sides to go back to the negotiating table. International pressure worked in the past on the issue of human rights. We hope it works this time for the sake of peace,” said Casiño.

Earlier this month, eight peace groups – the Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), Waging Peace Philippines, Generation Peace Youth Network, Women Engaged in Action 1325, Initiatives for International Dialogue, and Philippine Peace Center – issued a joint statement demanding a resumption of the talks, saying, “Time is of the essence. End the prolonged impasse. Resume the talks, now.”

The ICHRPP is now on its second day. Conference delegates today are expected to tackle the issue on the struggle for a just and lasting peace. Speakers will share experiences on the search for peace in South Africa, the middle East and the Philippines.

The more than 250 peace and human rights advocates are also expected to join the people’s mobilization during the State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22.



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