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Solon lauds remedial classes for teachers, pushes for more educational reforms

DTI launches ‘Pag-Asenso’ live weekly TV sitcom

SAGUPA-SB: Black propaganda cannot stop us

People’s initiative steps up in Region 8

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


Tragedy-stricken So. Leyte continues to draw concern from top corporations

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

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Amid the political bickering which projects disunity among the people of the country, the exact reverse is actually happening in the countryside – take the case of the tragedy stricken So. Leyte which continues to draw concern from various sectors, including the country’s top corporations.

Recently, top Manila corporations visited Southern Leyte to offer livelihood opportunities, to monitor ongoing assistance or to evaluate how they could be of help to the people of Southern Leyte.

The Mirant Foundation executive Director Bobby Calingo who is the president of the League of Corporate Foundation has taken the initiative to bring together all the participants of the Southern Leyte relocation and rehabilitation activities. The LCF members decided to develop a master plan for everybody to support and implement. Each of the participating corporations have its own niche to fill and together avoid useless duplications and provide a more meaningful and sustainable assistance to Southern Leyte. The Mirant Foundation will install electricity in two communities/barangays.

The Petron Foundation, represented by Mattei Uylangco, in collaboration with its partners in the energy group has started building a community in Liloan with 100 houses, day car center and multi- purpose hall. The consortium will also build at least two school buildings.

The Aboitiz Group Foundation, represented by its supervising project officer Fred Baykin, was with the group to explore possible additional assistance to Southern Leyte. It has donated relief goods of rice, bottled water and others, delivered in Maasin on February 22, as well as facilitated shipments of relief goods from Manila to Visayas.

Metrobank Group of Companies thru its Chairman George S.K. Ty gave thru DSWD 5 million pesos which is broken down to Toyota Motors, 2 million pesos; Toyota Autoparts, 1 million pesos; Metrobank Card Corp., 1 million pesos and Metrobank Foundation, 1 million pesos. A representative of the company was with the group which visited Southern Leyte to evaluate what other assistance they may give.

Johnson & Johnson Philippines, Inc. has sent Legal and External Affairs Director, Atty. Danilo Macatangay will evaluate their 1.5 million pesos given thru UNICEF and see what other assistance the company can give Southern Leyte.

Mirant Foundation Inc. Alex Escaño will liaison and coordinate with all the participants and cooperators including the local government units.

Those who are preoccupied in political bickering and sowing disunity in Manila should learn from these top corporations helping those who need to be helped because they are aware of their social responsibility and because they care for their fellow Filipinos without any thought of any reward and recognition.





Army rescued a rebel minor, recovered high powered firearms

April 27, 2006

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  Elements of the 14th Infantry (Avenger) Battalion under LtC. Wilson Leyva encountered Forty (40) fully armed Communist Terrorists (CTs) on Wednesday night (April 26) at around 9:45 o’clock in the evening at vicinity Barangay Tutubigan, Paranas, Samar.

In the report given to the 8ID, PA, General Officer-In-Charge, BGen. Oscar Randy Dauz AFP, LtC Wilson Leyva revealed that his troops while conducting combat operations in the Tri-boundaries of Paranas-Motiong-Jiabong complex acted on a report volunteered by the local populace about the presence of 30-40 fully armed CTs conducting extortion activities in the area.

Immediately, LtC Leyva dispatched a platoon of his soldiers to verify the veracity of information. The troops reached the hinter barangay of Tutubigan, Paranas, Samar under the cover of darkness and encountered the resting enemy. Firefight ensued for about ten (10) minutes followed by a running gun battle forcing the enemy to scamper for safety and withdrew towards different directions.

Two top CT leaders were believed to be seriously wounded as evidenced by heavy bloodstains along the route of withdrawal. One CT minor identified as Araz Calinawan from Naval, Biliran province was rescued from the grips of the Communist Terrorist tyranny.

Recovered from the scene of encounter were the following; Two (2) High-powered Firearms M653 (Baby Armalite) Rifles, One Hundred (100) rounds of Link Ammunition for M60 Machine Gun, Six (6) Long and Two (2) short Magazines of M16 Armalite Rifle, personal belongings and One (1) Back pack of subversive documents with high intelligence value.

The band of CTs was believed to be headed by Renato Baleros alias Kanor of the Central Front -1, Samar Provincial Party Committee (SPPC), Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC), who was known to be the number one notorious extortionists in the area and responsible in the series of robbery hold-ups and extortion activities along Buray-Taft National Highway and Lokilokon-San Jose de Buan Provincial Road.

The 8ID, General Officer-In-Charge, BGen. Oscar Randy Dauz on the other hand, extends his heartfelt gratitude to the people of Paranas and the local government units of Samar for their full support and cooperation extended to the 14IB by giving the timely intelligence information pinpointing to the exact location of the CTs.

The encounter was a product of timely intelligence information provided by the local populace who are against the CTs extortion activities. A clear manifestation that they desire peace and stability in their barangays.

Further, BGen. Dauz said “I am condemning the CT leadership for continuously recruiting minors in their ranks. This is another proof of exploitation of minors being perpetrated by the CTs. A gross violation to the rights of a child to live a normal life and not to be involved in any armed conflict. I am also calling the attention of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Region - 8, the Head of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARRIHL) and the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to investigate and give justice to these oppressed minors”.

“It is my hope that all minors shall be spared from exploitation especially from participating in any armed conflict as they deserve a quiet and normal life, God-fearing, peace-loving and above all responsible member of the community”, Dauz added.





Second National Skimboarding in Region 8 a big hit

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

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The recently concluded second National Skimboarding Competition in Tanauan, Leyte, which skimboarding enthusiasts claimed as the largest skimboarding competition ever held in the Philippines, was a big success. This was revealed by Governor Jericho Petilla, Congresswoman Remedios Petilla and Mayor Roque Tiu during the awarding ceremony at the Tanauan Shorelines.

The competition did not only promote skimboarding as a water sports but it also opened the eyes of the local and international people on the existence of beautiful shorelines in Tanauan, in Leyte and in the whole of Region 8.

This is Tanauan and Leyte’s contribution to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s through DOT Secretary Ace Durano’s thrust to bring in more tourists to the Philippines to gear up the economy of the country.

Mayor Tiu divulged that more than one hundred skimboarders from the different parts of the country, registered in the Second National Skimboarding Competition which is sanctioned by the Philippine Skimboarding Federation and by Skim Asia based in Singapore. These, aside from the skimboarding enthusiasts who were non-competing but who put up tents and skimboarded on the Tanauan waters.

The competition was dominated by the local skimboarders who won the nod of the judges from Skim Asia and the Philippine Skimboarding Federation, with their expertise and agility in playing with their skimboards along the shorelines.

The overall champion Porac Espada received P20,000.00 in cash and a skimboard worth $250.00 donated by Malaysian Jett Shon, a skimboarding enthusiast and manufacturer of skimboards. The second place was awarded to Obet Yanuario who received P15,000.00 cash; the third placer was Leo Espada who received P10,000.00 cash and the fourth place went to skimboarder Boy Hermosa from Talisay, Cebu who received P5,000.00.

The skimboarders from as far as Davao, Palawan, Surigao, Manila, Cebu, Borongan, Guiuan, Liloan, Maasin and as near as the neighboring city of Tacloban and the municipalities of Baybay, Ormoc, Tolosa and Dulag considered themselves winners as they were competing under international standards.

The eight Singaporian skimboarders, members and officers of the Skim Asia based in Singapore said they enjoyed the Tanauan water. Most of them extended their stay and many of them pledged to come back in December.

Skimboarding in the Philippines started in Tanauan, Leyte in 2000 when an American national came to Tanauan to win the heart of a local lass. To demonstrate skimboarding, he started making a skimboard which he finished. He however, was not able to teach the local youth how to use it because he had to leave for the States. He left the skimboard , however, which the youth of Tanauan used to train themselves on the techniques of skimboarding. Some of the young people at Barangay San Roque and Sto. Niño started making prototypes which today, they now sell to the enthusiasts. An enthusiast from Tanauan had to go to Cebu for schooling and he taught some friends there how to skimboard. Skimboarding then started to spread all over the country. The rest is history.

The Second Skimboarding Competition was made possible through the Municipal government of Tanauan led by Mayor Roque Tiu, the province of Leyte through Governor Jericho Petilla, the First District of Leyte through Congresswoman Remedios Petilla, SPAWN organization led by Mark Moron, the Department of Tourism Region 8 led by Dir. Karen Tiopes, the Philippine Information Agency through Ms. Olive Tiu, PepsiCola, New Leyte Edible Oil, San Miguel Corporation and Wella Metal Furniture.





DILG-8 holds planning workshop to promote corporate governance among LGUs

April 24, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Forty-five (45) field officers and regional personnel of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-8) recently participated in a three-day workshop on budget and program planning, with the goal of encouraging greater use among local government units (LGUs) of their corporate powers.

The workshop, held from April 18-20, 2006 at Hotel Alejandro, Tacloban City was conceptualized by DILG-8 Regional Director William C. Paler in response to the call by Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno for a paradigm shift of the Department’s programs towards promotion of corporate governance.

Corporate governance in local governments refers to the exercise of an LGU’s proprietary or corporate functions as enshrined in R.A. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991). This includes the right to enter into contracts, access credit financing, and engage in entrepreneurial interests, among others.

“In the future, our Department’s programs will be geared more towards corporate governance to enable provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays to be more self-reliant, and less dependent on IRA and national government assistance”, said RD Paler.

He noted that 15 years since the enactment of the Local Government Code, many LGUs have yet to maximize their corporate powers. Others find it hard to avail of alternative financing methods due to lack of technical knowledge.

The Regional Director believes that DILG, as the agency mandated with general supervision over LGUs, could provide assistance in project identification and preparation of feasibility study, among others.

The workshop resulted in several proposed programs to be submitted to DILG Central Office for consideration and refinement. The proposals detailed implementation steps, roles of LGUs, different levels of the Department, concerned stakeholders, and the required funding.

Dir. Paler expressed optimism that this new thrust, together with the continued implementation of other capacity-building programs, would enable the Department to significantly contribute to an increase of self-reliant and progressive communities in the country.





Anti-torture protest goes to police HQ; torture victims need protection

Press Release
By Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
April 23, 2006

HONG KONG  –  A group of around 20 young protesters on Friday gathered outside the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Quezon City to demand action into allegations of brutal torture by police in northern Benguet province in February.

The protesters distributed leaflets and held aloft placards outside the main gate of Camp Crame.

"Police, are you here to protect or here to torture?" they asked.

After a few minutes they were met by four officers who demanded that they surrender their materials and called them inside for questioning. The protestors refused to go inside the camp and dispersed peacefully.

"These youths were exercising their legitimate right to peaceful protest at the alleged heinous torture of their friends by the Philippine police," Kate Hurst, urgent appeals programme coordinator with the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), said.

"They should not have had their materials taken or been asked to come for questioning," Hurst said.

The Hong Kong-based regional rights group has issued a number of appeals over allegations that 11 youths, including two minors, were brutally tortured by officers of the 1604th Police Provincial Mobile Group after being arrested while on their way to a punk festival.

The torture allegedly included beating on the genitals, suffocation and electrocution.

The police also failed to follow regulations for handling the two minors.

The 11 alleged victims, who all maintain their innocence, are still in custody at the La Trinidad Provincial Jail – although one had earlier escaped but was returned to detention after seeking the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The AHRC strongly criticised the department for its role.

The protestors have called for all of the victims to be released, while the AHRC has expressed serious concern for their safety.

"The victims are obviously in grave danger," Hurst said.

"They have lodged complaints of serious torture against the police. They are in prison. They can go nowhere. They could be killed or threatened in any way at any time," she said.

"They are extremely vulnerable. We are very worried for their safety," Hurst stressed.

"The Philippine government should ensure that they get special protection," she said.

"The authorities should understand that if anything happens to them, particularly while in prison, it will have an extremely negative effect on the national reputation and undermine any pretences that human rights are being upheld in the Philippines," she added.

Six police officers have been charged with violating the rights of detainees in connection with the alleged torture.

Although the Philippines has ratified the UN Convention against Torture, it has so far failed to introduce it into domestic law.

The Friday demonstration followed a March 31 protest outside the headquarters of the national Commission on Human Rights, calling for its active intervention into the case.





Initial construction of 28 duplex houses for Guinsaugon survivors underway

By ERNA SY GORNE, PIA-Southern Leyte
April 22, 2006

SAINT BERNARD, Southern Leyte –  A partial set of some 56 houses from a 28 housing duplex structure is starting to take shape and form in barangay Magbagacay here for the remaining residents of the ill-fated barangay Guinsaugon.

The activity, which has been spearheaded by Gawad Kalinga (GK), was part of a commitment from the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce community, and would eventually form part of a big subdivision, according to Mayor Maria Lim during the visit of Gov. Rosette Lerias and Glenn Rabonza, National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Administrator on Wednesday, April 19.

The work on the Kalinga Leyte Federation Gawad Kalinga Village was carried out in accordance to a subdivision plan, which also features other basic necessities for a community like school buildings, another three buildings that would serve as an evacuation center, health center, productivity center, and a playground.

Adjacent lots in Magbagacay are now being planned to be bought further to serve as permanent relocation site for two landslide-threatened barangays of Nueva Esperanza and Ayahag and, should this outlook be realized, some 409 housing units are needed to be built, said Governor Lerias.

In the same meeting at the Legislative Building here, Gov. Lerias also presented to NDCC Administrator Rabonza and other personnel of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) from Regions 6, 7, and 8 the comprehensive Southern Leyte Master Plan for the Rehabilitation of the disaster-affected areas.

Based on the master plan, at least 12 towns and one city in the province are facing dangers and "disasters waiting to happen", said the Governor, and so immediate attention is crucial.

Listed are the city of Maasin, the towns of Macrohon, Malitbog, Bontoc, Sogod, San Francisco, Saint Bernard, Libagon, Liloan, Hinunangan, Anahawan, San Juan, and Pintuyan. These places are cited as danger-prone areas for ground mass movement, landslides, flash floods, flooding, and ground-shaking.

In the course of the meeting, NDCC Chair Rabonza turned over P9.2 Million as partial contribution of the national government through the NDCC in the continuing rehabilitation efforts, particularly for the site development at Magbagacay and other calamity-affected areas of the province.



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