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NPA ambush military personnel on CIVAC

Gov. Tan argues she don’t deserve suspension on her plunder case

Armed men raid Albuera police station

Borongan LGU steps up solid waste management

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


Mayor Bejo opens Tacloban City Hall to the media

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 27, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  – Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo “Bejo” Romualdez Sr. has opened the city hall to the media. This after the inauguration of the Media Lounge at the City Hall’s Livelihood and Productivity Center at the scenic Balyuan Park at Tacloban City.

Mayor Romualdez

In his message, Mayor Romualdez said that he thought of turning a room as the media lounge so that the members of the media will have a place to work while making their dispatches. He admitted that in the past he always shuns the media because he did not want to brag his plans. Now that big projects are completed and some are ongoing but about to be finished, he feels the need for the media to know so that they can disseminate these developments to the city constituents. He said he is happy with the presence of the guest of honor, PIA Director Olive Tiu because he knows that she can help guide the media.

For her part, Director Olive Tiu of PIA expressed her gratitude with the good gesture of the Mayor not only in providing a comfortable lounge for the media but because of his acknowledgement of the big role of the media in the development of a city. She said that she is glad that the Mayor realizes the importance of communications plan in any government undertaking because no matter how good the project is if the constituents are not informed about it, then the project will not be appreciated. She cited the importance of the media in giving feedback of the longings and concerns of the people so that those concerned officials will have the chance to solve their concerns. She expressed her wish that the media will remain as the city government’s partners for the development of the city and in uplifting the lives of the citizenry.

City Administrator Jimjim T. Yaokasin said that the five sets of computers with internet connections, the telephone and the fax machine, the television and the music station found in the media lounge are all for the use of the media. He also pointed out that the refrigerator will always be filled with drinks and some food for the media.

More than 50 media practitioners were present during the inauguration of the media lounge. Also present were former DILG Director Johnny Volfango and former PNP director Dionisio Coloma who has just taken his oath as the new executive assistant of Mayor Romualdez.  Although he has yet to receive his special order, Director Coloma said that he will help the Mayor in the traffic management of the city and in some other undertakings of the city which the mayor will assign to him.





Nation’s rep to children’s folklore fest is from Region 8

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 25, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – The Leyte Dance Theater’s junior dance company, the Kaliawan Performing Arts Group, has been invited to represent the Philippines in the 4th CIOFF Asian and Oceanian Children’s Folklore Festival on April 18-24 at the Municipality of Pendik, Istanbul, Turkey.

Mr. Jess de Paz, artistic director and head of Delegation, said that the Kaliawan Performing Art Group is composed of children from the grassroots who started their training with the Leyte Dance Theater through a scholarship given by Engr. Wilson Chan of the Leyte Park Hotel.

He said that it is a great honor for the group to represent the Region and the country to the prestigious activity. However, as the group will be responsible for its own international travel expenses and visas, benevolent sponsors and friends are currently being requested to pool their resources.

As a farewell concert, the Kaliaawan Performing Group and the Leyte Dance Theater will present “Karahibot” on February 24 2006, 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon at the LNHS Gym, Tacloban City. Tickets are available at P500.00 (good for 2), P100.00 and P50.00. The proceeds will be for the benefit of the children who will be participating in the Children’s Folklore Festival.

Ms. Corazon G. Iñigo, president of the Philippine National Counseil International des Organisations de Folklore et d’ Arts Traditionnel (CIOFF), said that the holding of the Children’s Festival in the different countries of the Asian and Oceanian Seactor is cognizant of the fundamental role that children perform and achieve in the conservation and dissemination of a country’s culture.

She added that the Philippine participation in festivals all over the world has always been highly praised and looked forward to. The participation in this festival of the Leyte Dance Theater’s junior dance company will bring into prominence the Philippines’ wealth of diverse and exceptional dances and songs.

It will provide a unique character-building for the child to be the performing artist. In addition, the children will be immersed in the Turkish way of life as they will stay with Turkish families. As festival participants, they will have the singular opportunity to forge strong bonds of lasting friendship with the other children of the world.





Magsaysay expresses concern over Pinay teacher’s fate in Kuwait

Press Release by
Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE)
January 25, 2006

MANILA, Philippines  – Expressing concern over the sad plight of a Pinay teacher in Kuwait, Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) Party-list Representative Eulogio “Amang” R. Magsaysay hailed yesterday the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordering the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to exhaust all diplomatic and legal means to save her from being put to death by the Kuwaiti government.

The teacher, Marilou Ranario, was reportedly sentenced to death by a Kuwaiti court last September 28 for allegedly stabbing her employer who had “insulted” her and “her people”.

“This is really something serious to worry about,” Magsaysay said in a statement.

The solon was also alarmed over the report that Marilou was not represented by a Filipino lawyer but instead was defended by Kuwaiti lawyers. Per AVE's conversation with the DFA, Atty. Noel Garcia said "non-Kuwaiti lawyers are not allowed to practice" in the said country.

“Just imagine our fellow teacher who went abroad for greener pasture about to die and we were not able to represent her because Filipino lawyers are not allowed to practice in Kuwait,” Magsaysay said.

Despite the diplomatic ties between the two countries, the Philippines was not able to defend the Pinay teacher.  According to Chargé d’ Affaires (CDA) Ricardo M. Endaya of the Philippine Embassy in the State of Kuwait, Ranario is now being represented by Kuwaiti lawyers.

According to Magsaysay, this is what small countries like Philippines get because we are treated insignificantly. He said it is disheartening to know that it seems we are not being properly heard. “Is it because we are a small country compared to others that we cannot ask for the proper representation to defend our fellow Filipinos? Given this scenario, do we need to sever the ties between our country and Kuwait, then?,” he asked.

The AVE representative also lamented the system of Philippine education as one of the reasons behind what has happened. “We have here a very good example of what the state of our education system is doing to our people. If only we are paying attention to the pleas of our fellow teachers and educators over their low salaries then they would not be forced to leave the country and work as domestic helpers in the first place,” adding that, “until now, our teachers are still the least paid workers even if they have the noblest profession in the land.”

Ranario is a native of Tubod, Surigao del Sur who went to Manila to find work and flew to Kuwait to become one of the many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Magsaysay said that many OFWs cannot help but fall victims to psychological problems because of homesickness and that this happens because they do not have other options but work abroad since there is no better opportunity for them here.

He, however, was quick to add that at this time, we should not resort to blaming one another and instead try to find solutions to the problem at hand. According to him, we must all work hand-in-hand in order to resolve this crisis and prevent other Filipinos from experiencing the same situation in the future.

Although Magsaysay recognizes the efforts of DFA and the Philippine Embassy in “exhausting all appeal remedies under the Kuwaiti justice system”, he urges the authorities to expedite action on their efforts to save the life of Ranario before it is too late.





Samar governor conducts medical and dental mission

January 24, 2006

CATBALOGAN, Samar  – Governor Milagrosa Tan invaded Pinabacdao town on Monday (January 23) bringing along doctors and dentists to accommodate Pinabacdao folks.

Governor Tan

Close to two thousand Pinabacdao folks crowded the vicinities of then Botoc Hospital to get a chance to be treated free. They were also given free medicines after the consultation and for some, tooth extraction.

The activity resembled that of a fiesta as the crowd was almost difficult to handle, more so when Governor’s men started distributing kilos of rice, umbrellas and flashlights.

As the occasion coincided with the birthday of Board Member Bontoy Quijano, a certified Pinabcdaonon, food treats flowed freely both prepared by the Pinabacdao folks and those catered by Jollibee. Even the mascot Jolibee was not spared, it performed a dance number along with Tan’s girl Friday Che che who provided songs for entertainment.

Community Development Information Officer (CDIO) Edgar Cabutin said it was the first time the governor held such a big happening in their town. All employees were on their toes entertaining and accommodating the hundreds of visitors.

Mila Felomina, 82 held on to her coupon of rice and prescription for the medicines. She hails from a Poblacion barangay and walked on foot for consultation. After some time, PIA saw her beaming with a smile as she held on to her kilo of rice and a brand new umbrella, slowly keeping up with her long stride was husband who was inspecting his new flashlight.

Umbrellas, packed rice and flashlights were presents from Tan who brought trucks to accommodate the goodies she shared. She distributed cans of paints for teachers, sacks of cements for SB members and barangay captains. The lady governor also treated the barangay folks lunch from Jolibee delivered to Pinabacdao.

In her speech, the lady governor acknowledged the help she got from the BHWs, tanods and rural folks. She added that the people themselves would determine whether they want an election or not. She however urged them to unite regardless of political affiliations, as unity, she said will usher development.

Her Pinabacdao sojourn, she beamed is a way of bringing the provincial government to the people of Pinabacdao.

Meanwhile as a token of their gratitude for the generosity of the lady governor, Pinabacadao Mayor Mario Quijano presented Governor Tan a picture of a newly discovered falls whom they named "Milagrosa Falls" in honor of the lady. Milagrosa Falls will be entered in Pinabacdao as one tourist spot, Ian, the tourism officer beamed with pride.

Other visitors included Vice Governor Jess Redaja, Board Members Fe Arcales, Tommy Bolastig, Elan Castillo, Joseph Escober, Totoy Ricafort, Boy Tiopes and Renato UY.





Bomb threat alarm Ormoc residents

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 23, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – General Eliseo dela Paz, Regional director of the Philippine National Police, urged the people to be vigilant in the face of the text messages circulating about bomb threats on a big establishment in Ormoc City.

Interviewed by PIA 8 at an unholy hour due to numerous queries, the General said that this is the fifth time that such text messages have been circulated. He said that he has talked to the chief of police in Ormoc and efforts are now being made to trace the origin of the text message.

He said that the people must not be alarmed because the PNP is in control of the situation. He said though that the people must beware of people whose main purpose is to terrorize the peaceful society.

General dela Paz said that the public must know that the PNP is aware of the attempt by some elements to sow chaos and alarm on the people. He assured the public that effective countermeasures are now being undertaken to preempt and deter it.

He revealed that tight security measures are now being implemented not only in the establishment mentioned in the text messages but all establishments in the area to ensure that no untoward incidents will occur.

In the meantime, the public is requested to take all the necessary safety precautions. They should not expose themselves to danger by unnecessarily leaving the comfort of their homes and going to public or crowded places for no important reason at all.

The good General also enjoined the public to coordinate and cooperate with the law enforcers by reporting any unusual happenings or situations in their respective areas.





DPWH Norsamar cautions travelers on damaged roads

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 21, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – District Engineer David Tabongay, Jr. of the DPWH Northern Samar Second Engineering District cautions the commuters to take note that the Pang-Pang–Palapag–Mapanas– Gamay–Lapinig Road is hardly passable to all vehicular traffic. This, he said is because of the extensive damaged the road suffered due to incessant heavy rains from the month of October up to the present.

Engineer Tabongay said that the agency is doing its best to restore the travel convenience of the commuters. In the meantime, he is asking for the understanding, cooperation and patience of the riding public to beat the inconveniences while the agency diligently continues its restoration work.

The DPWH District Office, District Engineer Tabongay said, is committed to serve the people and promote the progress of the community. With all the unforeseen events that befell Northern Samar, the agency is do the best it can do to remedy the situation within the  means provided to it by the department.

He added that the DPWH Northern Samar second district is pooling all its available resources at hand to accomplish immediate road restoration work that would render the roadway passable to all vehicular traffic.

Repair work, he reiterated, is now in progress. Barring the occurrence of heavy rainfall which delays the job progress and considering the difficulty in transporting materials to the jobsite, the engineering district hopes to complete the restoration work in due time.

Engineer Tabongay revealed that additional funding is also being requested from the DPWH Central Office and the Regional Office to complete the repair or rehabilitation of roadway structure and to ensure the complete restoration of the existing roadway. The district office also requested for additional heavy equipment which is badly needed for immediate as well as future road restoration and repair works.





ASIA: Absent rule of law threatens human rights in Asia, new report says

Press Release by
Asian Human Rights Commission
January 20, 2006

Basil Fernando

HONG KONG  – Growing human rights abuses in Asia are due primarily to the continued absence of the rule of law there, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said in its first annual assessment of the region.

The 169-page report, entitled The State of Human Rights in Ten Asian Nations: 2005, was released at a press briefing in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

"We can state unequivocally that across almost all of Asia the situation of human rights worsened in 2005," Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based regional rights body, said at the briefing.

"The primary reason for this situation is the deep flaws in the institutions of justice and policing in these countries," he said.

"Where the rule of law is broken down, there is no possibility to implement human rights standards," Fernando said.

"That is why we use implementation, not education, as the key measure for the success or failure of human rights in a given country," he added.

The ten countries covered extensively in the report are Thailand, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea and Indonesia.

The AHRC pointed to Burma, Nepal and Cambodia as countries where there is a complete absence of the rule of law.

"The situation in Nepal is now worse than the worst-case scenario," Mandira Sharma, director of the Kathmandu-based Advocacy Forum, told the briefing.

"We have exhausted all possibilities of getting judicial remedies for victims of torture, arbitrary detention and killings," she said.

"When the word of the king alone is law there is no possibility of protecting human rights," Sharma added.

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were identified among countries where the rule of law is seriously flawed and torture endemic.

Speaking on behalf of the Bangkok-based Thai Working Group for Human Rights Defenders, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet said that the problems of southern Thailand reflected the impunity enjoyed by state security officers throughout the country.

"The police in Thailand continue to commit torture and other grave abuses and we lack ways to deal with these," she said.

"While we see some small signs of progress, we are concerned that overall the situation is getting worse," Pornpen said.

Babloo Loitongbam, director of the Manipur-based Human Rights Alert, in northeast India, expressed appreciation for outside interest in the situation of human rights in his region.

"We are struggling in silence against very grave forms of repression," he said.

"On top of the usual problems posed by India's entire decrepit bureaucracy and judicial system, we have to contend with extraordinary security measures and routine state-sponsored violence," Loitongbam said.

Other speakers concurred with the assessment that the human rights problems in their countries are due primarily to the absence of the rule of law.

Akram Hassain Chowdry, executive director of the Dhaka-based Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims, identified the police as the main perpetrators of rights abuses there.

Alfonso Cinco IV, a legal consultant of the Franciscan Justice and Peace Office in Cebu, said that the Philippines is now a "killing field" for human rights defenders and social activists, with responsible officers being promoted rather than prosecuted.

Syamsul Alam Agus, director of the Institute of Law Study and Human Rights Advocacy based in Sulawesi, said that the situation of human rights in Indonesia has seen little improvement since the fall of the Suharto regime.

Basil Fernando concluded the briefing by pointing to an illustration of a judge's wig on a rubbish bin.

"This cartoon depicts the situation of justice in Sri Lanka today," he said.

"When the entire country knows that our judicial system is rubbish the idea of enforcement of human rights standards is ridiculous," Fernando said.

"This is of equal relevance to most other countries in Asia," he added.

The AHRC report contains a series of open letters to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, calling for specific goals to improve the situation of human rights in Asia during 2006.

These include for Thailand to ratify the U.N. Convention against Torture, for Nepal, Bangladesh, South Korea and the Philippines to introduce laws to prohibit torture, and for Sri Lanka to implement the standing recommendations of U.N. human rights committees.

The AHRC has also called on Arbour to suspend Burma from the U.N. Human Rights Commission completely as its government's presence there "is nothing more than a cruel joke on the global community, and... its own people".

It has likewise called for a complete review of the U.N. mandate with reference to Cambodia, as twelve years after the internationally-sponsored peace process the country is governed by "fear, tyranny and dictatorship".



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