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Rep. Figueroa seeks reelection; endorses wife as next governor of Samar

There was Balikatan in Guinsaugon – Gov. Lerias

Sarmiento denies blocking the cityhood bid of Catbalogan

Eastern Samar BAYAN MUNA youth leader gunned down

Mayor Bejo opens Tacloban City Hall to the media

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


People’s initiative steps up in Region 8

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 28, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – People’s initiative in the Region stepped up during the weekend as supporters started the signature campaign in the different barangays. Reports coming from all over the Region show the great possibility that the needed signatures will be obtained, based on the big turnout of signatures.

In a short interaction with PIA 8, Southern Leyte League of Municipalities president, Bontoc mayor Pete Fustanes said that they are targeting at least 70 percent of the voters to support the proposal to change the Constitution from presidential bicameral to parliamentary unicameral body. He said that as long as the purpose of the people’s initiative is explained to the voters, it is easy to get their signature.

Naval Vice-Mayor Brigido Caneja III said that about thirty-three to thirty-five percent of the registered voters in the capital town of Biliran have already signed the petition for Charter Change.

In Leyte, Governor Petilla called for a massive information dissemination on the people’s initiatives even as the barangay officials and non government organizations have started campaigning for signatures with the purpose of getting at least thirty percent of the total number of registered voters.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone who is one proponents of the people’s initiative, also called for a stepped up information campaign to explain to the people the importance of the exercise. The same is true in Samar and Northern Samar.

There are three ways of changing the Constitution. The first is by Congress. Upon three fourths vote of all its members, both chambers of Congress may sit as a Constituent Assembly to amend or revise the Charter.

The second process is through a Constitutional Convention where the members are elected by the people. This is a very expensive manner of changing the Constitution.

Amendments to the Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through a people’s initiative upon a petition of at least twelve percent of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of the registered voters therein.

With the deadlock between the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Union of Local Authorities in the Philippines (ULAP) believes that the initiative to amend the Charter must now come from the people themselves. The current trend shows that there will be a big turnout of those who are in favor of the proposal.





Installation and Canonical Possession of the new Archbishop of Palo set

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

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Most Reverend Pedro R. Dean, D.D. will be the Installing Prelate while Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, D.D. will be the Homilist in the Installation and Canonical Possession of the new Archbishop of Palo on May 2, 2006.

This was learned from the Archdiocesan media coordinator, Msgr. Ramon Aguilos who informed PIA that a meeting is set on April 3 to thresh out the details for the installation of Bishop Jose Palma of the Diocese of Calbayog as the new Archbishop of Palo.

Bishop Palma was appointed by the Holy Father Benedict XVI as the new archbishop of Palo on March 18, the day before his birthday on March 19, in lieu of Archbishop Pedro Dean whose retirement was accepted by the Holy Father that same day.

Born at Dingle, Archdiocese of Jaro, His Excellency Most Reverent Jose Palma in a phone patch with PIA said he will always strive to emphasize God’s love for the people which will redound to true peace and solidarity among the people of the Region and of the country and the whole world.

He accepted the appointment humbly although he revealed that he is most surprised about the appointment as there are bishops who are "more experienced and more charismatic." He said that he is sure that God has a message here especially because the Holy Father has just written an encyclical about love, the Church Compendium of Social Doctrines.

He requested PIA to tell the people to pray for him so that he will be able to become a good pastor to his flock, ever discerning the needs of the clergy and the people in the Archdiocese.

The tentative program, Msgr. Aguilos said, includes the Arrival and Breakfast of Bishops, Special Guests from all over the country and the Calbayog Clergy at the Gonzagahaus and the other guests at the Cathedral Parish Pastoral Center.

The Installation, Canonical Possession and Concelebrated Mass will be held at 10:00 o'clock in the morning at the Palo Cathedral while the Agape will be held at the Leyte Academic Center at Pawing, Palo, Leyte at noontime. Most of the guests will leave at 2:30 o'clock in the afternoon, Msgr. Aguilos said.

At 6:00 o'clock in the evening, Solemn Vesper, Te Deum and Benediction will be held at the Cathedral afterwhich, a Thanksgiving Night will be tendered by the Clergy and Religious men and Women at the Cathedral Parish Pastoral Center.





There is no stopping Cha Cha

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 24, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Charter Change is now the hot issue in the countryside. The Charter Change issue gains momentum as government leaders and private sectors have intensified their efforts to support it.

In Region 8, solons and local government executives are fulfilling their covenant to push for Charter Change. Congresswoman Petilla of the First District of Leyte for one, is working closely with the local government officials in campaigning down to the barangays level for people’s initiative that would pave the way to the changing of the form of government from presidential to parliamentary system.

Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado announced that the campaign to gather enough signatures for the Charter change to really get moving will start next month in Maasin and in the rest of the province. He said that the move to push through with the people’s initiative was rooted from the fact that the Senate has continued to remain lukewarm to the suggestions that both Houses be convened as a Constituent Assembly to carry out changes or revisions in the fundamental law of the land.

Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla has also been going around the province explaining that 12 percent or more signatures of the country’s total voting population is enough reason for Cha Cha to push through.

He said the recent attempt to overthrow the duly constituted President of the Republic and the continuous attempt of the self-interest motivated and power greedy detractors to unseat the President are more than enough reason to say that the old system has already lost its usefulness for the country and that it is about time to change the system of government.

The local government executives are united in this move as this would mean the stabilization of the country and would allow the economy which has started to perk up to continue its growth.

On Tuesday, Congressman Francis Escudero of the 5th district of Sorsogon was in Tacloban together with Bayan Partylist Representative Bembem Noel and in a press conference warned congressman Joe de Venecia not to be over confident because he might not be able to get the support of all the 165 lawmakers for the charter change.

But as the Provincial governors have already committed themselves to back up people’s initiatives to push for ChaCha and that a simultaneous launching date have already been set by people’s organizations, non government organizations and local government units from the cities, municipalities, down to the barangays level, it is expected that about seven to 10 million signatures will be gathered in no time at all.

Indeed, the clamor of the people for Charter Change has gained momentum. There is no stopping Cha Cha.





Health workers in Biliran conduct information campaign on meningococcemia

March 23, 2006

BALAQUID, Cabucgayan, Biliran  –  In order to allay fears of the residents of the place where the cause of death of a nine year-old boy was suspected to be a case of meningococcemia, health workers in the province of Biliran conducted a thorough information campaign inside the school campus of Balaquid Elementary School (BES).

It was reported that the nine year old victim is a pupil of the Balaquid Elementary School who died Sunday evening (March 19) at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) whose cause of death was suspected to be a case of meningococcemia.

The information campaign was facilitated by Dr. Gabino S. Velasquez III, Chief of the Technical Section of the Biliran Provincial Hospital (BPH), Dr. Salvacion G. Salas, DOH Representative in Biliran province in coordination with Mayor Arnelito Garing of Cabucgayan, health workers of LGU Cabucgayan and BES administration and faculty.

The purpose of the information campaign was to inform the residents in the affected community about meningococcemia as a disease, transmission, symptoms, prevention and control and treatment.

Dr. Velasquez showed to the residents through a laptop presentation a more comprehensive facts about meningococcemia as bacterial disease and the signs and symptoms of person inflicted with the dreaded bacterial disease.

Dr. Velasquez also explained to the residents not to be afraid of the disease because it can be treated through prophylactic treatment or by taking antibiotics as the appropriate way to prevent from being inflicted with the disease.

He added that the disease will be prevented by observing proper personal hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

On the other hand, Dr. Salas stressed that in order to prevent and control the disease, it is important to follow the health advisory on meningococcemia coming from the National Center for Health Promotion and National Center for Disease Prevention and Control which enumerated the following prevention and control guidelines: avoid crowded places, avoid close contacts with meningococcemia patients, increased resistance by having healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate rest and sleep, no alcohol and cigarette smoking, maintain a clean environment and surroundings, don’t share utensils or anything that has been in the mouth of an infected person and wash hands frequently with soap and water.

Meanwhile, all the pupils of BES were given with an oral dose of antibiotics as part of the continuing prophylactic treatment before the information campaign on meningococcemia was conducted.

According to Dr. Salas, the prophylactic treatment for the pupils will be administered twice a day for two days. The same treatment will be given to adults.

On the other hand, Mayor Garing appealed to the residents in the barangay especially the residents who are living in the place where the victim lived, to stay calm and not to panic or be afraid with the still unconfirmed report that the cause of death of the nine year old boy was due to meningococcemia.

Mayor Garing further appealed to rumor mongers who fed and spread the wrong information regarding the cause of the death of the nine year old boy to please stop the same because it has contributed more panic to the residents in the area and caused damage to the image not only in the municipality of Cabucgayan and its residents but also in the province of Biliran as a whole.





Bishop Jose Palma is new Archbishop of Palo

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 22, 2006

Bishop Jose Palma

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte   –  The Holy Father Benedict XVI has appointed as Archbishop of Palo, His Excellency Most Reverend Jose Serofia Palma, the present bishop of  Calbayog.  He will take the place of Archbishop Pedro Dean whose resignation was accepted on Saturday (March 18) by the Holy Father.

This was learned from Msgr. Ramon Aguilos, media coordinator of the Archdiocese of Palo who said that the announcement was made on Saturday evening by Archbishop Pedro Dean who personally broke the news before a group of priests who responded to an earlier text message from the Archdiocesan Chancery calling priests to go to the Gonzagahaus.

His Excellency Most Reverend Jose Serofia Palma was born in Dingle, in the Archdiocese of Jaro (Iloilo) on March 19, 1950. He studied his philosophy at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary and his theology at St. Joseph Regional Seminary. Subsequently he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, and his doctorate at the St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Jaro on August 21, 1976. After a year as parochial vicar at the Jaro Cathedral, he was given a teaching assignment in St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary. Then he became the Rector of the St. Joseph Regional Seminary. At the same time he occupied several positions in the diocese. In 1997 he became the parish priest of the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Jaro.

Appointed Titular Bishop of Vazari Didda and Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu on November 28, 1997 by John Paul, he was consecrated on January 13, 1998. A year later on January 13, 1999, he was transferred to the Diocese of Calbayog where he still is until today.

The new Archbishop has not yet been reached for his comments.





New Human Rights Council "welcome step" says AHRC

Press Release
March 21, 2006

HONG KONG  –  The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) described the creation of the United Nations' Human Rights Council as "the first step on a new road towards the worldwide enjoyment of human rights and the protection of victims" in a statement issued on Thursday.

The creation followed a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006.

According to the Hong Kong-based regional rights group, "This adoption, by a vote of 170 to four with three abstentions, underlines the universal ownership of human rights."

"We welcome this significant step and sincerely hope that the body's establishment will herald a new and positive era in the implementation of all human rights for all," said Basil Fernando, the group's executive director.

New impetus within the international human rights community has been required for some time said the AHRC, particularly with "the Commission on Human Rights having progressively lost credibility, notably due to the inclusion of some of the world's worst human rights violators as its members and the lack of effective implementation of its recommendations".

The AHRC gives primacy to the implementation of human rights laws and standards.

Implementation requires "the concrete improvement of the situation of actual or potential victims, the protection of persons from violations and an end to the impunity that accompanies even the gravest abuses in many parts of the world, including in the majority of Asian countries", noted Fernando.

The resolution establishing the 47-member Human Rights Council provides new standards and procedures for the election of members. According to Michael Anthony, AHRC's UN liaison officer, "the absolute majority requirement of at least 96 positive votes should allow grave violators of rights to be excluded from Council membership".

The standards and credibility of the Council will be defined by those of its members. "It is therefore important that only those countries with good track records are elected to the Council. Regional groups should present a range of candidates at least thirty days prior to the elections, which are set for May 9, 2006 so that each candidate's human rights record can be evaluated," continued Anthony.

The Council is set to meet three times a year over a span of ten weeks. It will also have the possibility of convening emergency sessions. This allows for "greater speed of reaction with regard to grave crises… Violations committed at any time, in any place, should now face greater scrutiny" said the AHRC.

Furthermore, "the Council also comprises a system of universal review, under which all States will have their rights records examined. Recommendations stemming from this process must be followed."

"The success of the Council depends on the good will of its members to uphold the values and honour the commitments made at its inception. The implementation of recommendations and resolutions is an area in which great progress is needed--this should be a fundamental yard-stick with which States' cooperation and good faith should be measured," said Fernando.

According to the rights group, civil society must also take responsibility to effectively participate in the new workings of the UN human rights mechanisms.

"The members of civil society have a continuing crucial role to play, notably given that the Council will continue with the practice of adopting country-specific resolutions. Non-governmental organizations must ensure their participation in the proceedings and that the provision of information to the Council evolves to accommodate the new prospects," said the AHRC.





NIT’s application for university status now in Senate – Dr. Genson

March 21, 2006

NAVAL, Biliran  –  The application for university status of Naval Institute of Technology (NIT) appears brighter after several years of delay in the House of Representatives as it is now in the Senate, said Dr. Edita S. Genson, President of the college.

In a letter sent to the different national government agencies in the province of Biliran, Dr. Genson informed that the application for conversion of NIT into Biliran State University (Bilsu) authored by Congressman Gerry Boy Espina, Jr. of the Lone District of Biliran has already been approved by the House of Representatives through House Bill No. 4918.

House Bill 4918 is entitled “An Act Converting Naval Institute of Technology in the Municipality of Naval, Province of Biliran into a State University to be known as the Biliran State University, Integrating therewith the Biliran National Agricultural College in the Municipality of Biliran and Appropriating Funds Therefore”.

Dr. Genson said that the college’s application for university status is now in the Senate Committee on Education chaired by Senator Juan M. Flavier.

It was also mentioned in the letter the record and performance in the field of education of the college that would warrant the conversion of NIT into a state university such as the consistent rating of Noteworthy and Very Satisfactory of the College of Maritime every year since its International Standard Operation (ISO) Certification by the Det Norkes Veritas (DNV) on Rules on Maritime Academies in the year 2000 based on its findings on the annual DNV Surveillance Audit and other educational achievements of the college.

In order to further strengthen the application of NIT for a university status, Dr. Genson sought the support of the different sectors and high ranking government officials in the province of Biliran and region 8 by signing an endorsement paper to be submitted to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon for the early passage of the bill into law in the Senate.

Meanwhile, in a previous interview with Congressman Gerry Boy Espina in one of his visits here, he said that converting NIT into a state university is his top priority being the representative of the people in Biliran province.

Congressman Espina said that he only continued what was started by his father, former Congressman Gerardo S. Espina, Sr. now mayor of Naval, who also worked hard for the conversion of NIT into a state university.

The young representative further said that the realization of the university status of NIT is the biggest thing he can contribute for the improvement of the educational status of the Biliranons and which can also contribute to the economic development of the province as a whole.



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