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RDC 8 requests PGMA to appoint permanent Co-chair, submits nominees

St. Mary’s Catbalogan champions General Info Quiz for Catbalogan Fiesta

Tacloban New Transport Terminal now operational

Ancient town in Samar gears up for its 415th Grand Fiesta

2 towns in Eastern Samar complete Water Development Project

Power forum resolves to work for power rates reduction in Region 8

Police solves highway robberies in Samar

End the killings, petitioners cry worldwide

High incidence of teenage pregnancies in Region 8 alarming

Sprouting of infras in Catbalogan observed


Calbayog makes it as one of 15 “Dream Cities” of RP

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

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte   – Calbayog City  has made it to the first batch of fifteen dream cities of the country, planting the seeds of hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento has always been known to have the flair for introducing innovative ways of doing things and has been actively participating and winning in the League of Cities projects and competitions.

The Dream cities is a project of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia chaired by its president Jesus Estanislao who said that the program on good and participatory governance and responsible citizenship started six years ago.

What sets the Dream Cities apart is that their mayors have adopted the ISA’s public governance score card system, taken from the Harvard Business School, and are trying to make it work.

Mayor Sarmiento said that the local government officials are working with leaders of various sectors of the community in order to meet the city’s visions and goals. He said that this is not a temporary set up or token gesture of consultation because the multisectoral coalitions have been created through local laws, ensuring their continuation even with changes in local leadership.

Mayor Sarmiento added that the coalitions meet regularly to track the progress of the programs of the city government and the various sectors. This tracking system will ensure that the targets or goals are met.

Calbayog as a Dream City has and is working on this goal on “being one island, one people, one culture.” This according to Mayor Sarmiento will make the City of Calbayog more livable as he has always been advocating that the government of Calbayog is not working for the people but rather working with the people.

The other Dream Cities and their goals are Cebu, the most livable City in Asia; Dumaguete as a center of sustainable development and quality holistic education; Iloilo, a premier city; Marikina, a world-class city; and the island garden city of Samal as an urban center in rural setting.

San Fernando, La Union envisions itself to be a Botanical Garden City; San Fernando, Pampanga as gateway in North Philippines; Sorsogon as progressive gateway to the South; Tacurong as the most livable city in Central Cotabato; Tagaytay as a resort, retirement and character city; Tagbilaran, a prime eco-cultural tourism hub; Tangub, the agri-business and learning center of Northern Mindanao; and Toledo, as the premier and livable city in the west coast.

ISA has focused on cities and enjoined mayors to be Public Governance System fellows because among the mayors currently now in office, “a few have shown exemplary commitment for the common good and competence to work effectively for it.”

Another reason is that local government autonomy through the Local Government Code of 1991, has empowered local government units and secondly, among the local government units, cities have a strategic position arising from their being relatively few and their being able to count on more than half of the current population already living in them. There are only 114 cities scattered all over the country.

The 15 Dream Cities are among the co-convenors in the “Mahal Ko ang Pilipinas (I Love the Philippine) Conference which will be held at the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel on August 30.





SAGUPA-SB to donate blood

Press Release
August 25, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB), the widest alliance of peasants in the region has come a long way to advance the struggle of peasants for a genuine land reform free from feudal bondage and foreign domination.

SAGUPA-SB believes that the economic prosperity of the peasants could only be achieved through genuine land reform and feudal emancipation. According to Diana Ragub, Campaign and Advocacy Officer of the organization, significant number of invaluable victories were gained and realized such as lowering of land rent and farming tools, minimizing usury, wage hike for farm workers and bargaining for higher prices of farm produce, among others.

On its 17th year anniversary celebration, SAGUPA-SB is set to conduct bloodletting activity in coordination with the Philippine National Red Cross Leyte Chapter come August 28, 2006. Ragub said that the activity symbolizes SAGUPA-SB’s continuing struggle for peasant’s right to land, food and life.

It was in August 24, 1989 that SAGUPA-SB was founded to unite all small farmers, farm workers and subsistence fisherfolks in Eastern Visayas.

Ragub disclosed that the bloodletting activity is the best way to explain the alliance’s commitment of genuine service for the farmers despite the current spate of political killings affecting leaders and members of farmers’ groups not only in the region but in Central Luzon and in other parts of the country.

This can also be a big help to indigent patients, especially the poor farmers.

“Blood means life and it feels wonderful to donate a little amount of your blood so others may continue to live. Just like our martyr farmers and leaders who sacrificed and gave their lives for land, food, justice and human rights,” said Ragub.

“Our blood symbolizes our fallen martyrs like Florencio Agunos, 60, a farmer from Kananga, Leyte and one of SAGUPA-SB’s council members, who was shot by unidentified men last February 2006. Until now, his death, and the deaths of other farmers in the country has not seen justice,” said Ragub.

The bloodletting activity will start at 9:00 in the morning at the headquarters of the PNRC in Magsaysay Blvd. It is open to those interested and willing to donate blood. For details, feel free to contact Ms. Diana Ragub at 323-4244.





Greenpeace reveals new evidence of highly toxic contaminants in Rapu-Rapu

Press Release
Southeast Asia
August 24, 2006

RAPU-RAPU Island  –  Greenpeace and government officials from Rapu-Rapu today conducted an inspection of the island's Mirikpitik Creek, which is found to be contaminated by the Lafayette mine. Water samples taken from the creek, which leads out from the mine and into the sea, showed very high levels of toxic metals such as cadmium, copper and zinc.

"These extremely high levels of the heavy metals found in the samples are toxic to plants, animals and humans. The proximity of the mine to the sea means that the marine organisms such as corals are likely to be impacted causing harm to the fragile coral reef ecosystem. Such impacts on the reef would be a disaster for marine biodiversity, including the whale shark, and also local fisheries," said Dr Janet Cotter, Greenpeace Scientist onboard the Esperanza.

In April 2005, the Australian firm started mining gold, silver, copper and zinc on Rapu-Rapu Island. The poor environmental safeguards resulted in spills of cyanide and other contaminants from the mine spilled into the sea and around the island, resulting in massive fish kills after heavy rains in October 2005. The mine stopped processing but in July this year a 30-day trial run commenced to see if the mine could operate without causing contamination.

On July 18, a fishkill occurred in Mirikpitik Creek, one of the creeks leading out of the mine premises. Greenpeace sampled the creek at the beginning of August and found it to be clearly affected in its lower stretch by acid mine drainage. The creek waters were acidic in this section, and the presence of the characteristic yellow solid precipitate indicated that this creek is significantly impacted due to acid mine drainage. This acid mine drainage has resulted in very high levels of heavy metals in this creek, particularly cadmium, copper and zinc. These metals were present in dissolved forms at many hundreds of times above general background levels for these metals in river water. Cadmium and copper are both highly toxic to plants, animals and humans and many aquatic species are very sensitive to cadmium and copper. Ongoing exposure to zinc at sub lethal concentrations can also impact aquatic organisms.

It is clear that even from this 30 - day trial, Lafayette is causing contamination of the waters on Rapu-Rapu. If full-scale mining is allowed on Rapu-Rapu, it will be an ecological disaster for the local ecology.

"Toxic pollution from the mine would clearly affect the coastal and marine ecosystems of Rapu-Rapu Island. Therefore, Lafayette's mining operations in Rapu-Rapu must be permanently shut down. Immediate clean up and rehabilitation of the mine site and all affected areas must also take place," said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace campaigner onboard the Esperanza.

The Esperanza is in the Philippines on the latest leg of her global Defending Our Oceans expedition to highlight the wonders and the environmental threats to the world's oceans and to campaign for the establishment of marine reserves. Scientists recognize the Philippine archipelago as the world's centre of marine biodiversity, but is also the most highly threatened, citing the danger of mass extinction in a scale similar to that of the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests.





Catarman town holds Tarapo Festival

August 24, 2006

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  – A “Tarapo Festival” was held recently in Catarman town, Northern Samar’s capital as an opening salvo for this year’s week-long fiesta celebration which will culminate on August 29, 2006 in honor of the town’s patroness, the Our Lady of the Annunciation.

The festival started with a parade cum street dancing from the Sacred Heart Plaza to the main streets of the town until every participant gathered at the Municipal Auditorium where the contest was held. Costumes and painted revelers danced to the rhythmic steps of the “Tarapo”, in tempo with the infectious beating of drums and gongs and blowing of whistle.

“Tarapo” is a dialect widely used and spoken by most people in Northern Samar, particularly in the town of Catarman, “Tarapo” means “encounter or a chance meeting”. Street dancing including floor exhibition of participants made the whole activity in a festive mood.

The “Tarapo Festival” was also an invitational festival which encouraged participating groups to present a festival of their choice. As the first invitational festival, the contest wanted to draw participants that could depict the best of different outstanding festivals in the country today.

The “Tarapo Festival” was participated in by the different tribu(s) or barangays of Catarman. The “Ibabao Festival” of Barangay Airport emerged as the winner followed by the “Bankero Festival” of Barangay Bangkerohan. A presentation from the Eastern Visayas College of Criminology (EVCC) ranked third.

Festival organizers designed the following mechanics: (1) Participating groups must have at least 50 performers or dancers excluding drummers and other accompanists of the performers. (2) Whichever Philippine Festival they choose, participating groups must be aware of the festival storyline. (3)  Performance presentation must be done accurately and appropriately. (4) Street dancing presentation will run for 3 to 4 minutes only in every post or station of performance. (5) A 10-minute time duration will be allotted for floor exhibition.

The criteria of the contest included: choreographic interpretation 40%, timing and mastery 40% and costume 20%, or a total of 100%.





Orientation on Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act 2006 held

August 24, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region VIII in coordination with the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) conducted an Orientation on RA 9344 otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act 2006 last August 18, 2006, this city.

The City Social Workers and Municipal Social Workers from Bato, Calubian, Tanauan, Mayorga, and Biliran participated this advocacy campaign towards a better understanding of the essentiality and the vital role they play in the enforcement of this law.

Fiscal Ma. Liza M. Jorda, resource speaker of the orientation said that under this new law a child in conflict with the law who is fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense would be exempt from criminal liability. Criminal charges can be filed against those ages 15-18 years old, but only if they are found to have committed the offense “with discernment,” that is, they were aware that what they were doing was wrong.

“However, minor law offenders will be admitted in a DSWD rehabilitation facility where he will undergo counseling and psychosocial care and be subjected to an appropriate intervention program of the local social welfare and development office. Thus, social workers take part on this challenge to be observant and practicing the prevention, rehabilitation, diversion and reintegration - all for the benefit of the child in conflict with the law,” she further stressed.

RA 9344 list the procedures to be followed by a law enforcer in taking the child into custody as well as rules while the child is under initial investigation, prosecution, bail, detention pending;

Once a child is taken into custody and is determined to be 15 years old and below, the authority who had initial contact with the child shall immediately release him to the custody of his parents, guardian, or nearest relative and notify the local social welfare officer who shall determine the appropriate programs for the child in consultation with guardians.

If the child has no guardian or they refuse to take him, the child may be released to: a registered NGO or religious organization, barangay official or member of the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children, or the local DSWD officer.

DSWD-OIC Regional Director, Mrs Letecia Corillo in a message said that “Really this law is towards a dream of having a humane society”.





Family of dead combatant harassed, human rights workers unjustly detained

AFP's 74th IB scored for violating international humanitarian laws

Press Release
August 23, 2006

QUEZON CITY, Philippines  – "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the illegal arrest and detention of eight human rights volunteers committed by the 74th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) in Quezon. We demand that our colleagues be immediately and safely released," said KARAPATAN Public Information Officer Ruth Cervantes.

The human rights watchdog KARAPATAN scored the 74th IBPA for violating international humanitarian laws (IHL) governing armed conflict when it prevented a family from retrieving the remains of a suspected rebel. The Army has likewise violated IHL when soldiers illegally arrested and detained 8 human rights workers who accompanied the family.

"The 74th IB had shown the public that the government is violating its commitment to apply the principles and standards of IHL that should protect those who are taking NO active part in the hostilities, persons placed hors de combat, persons deprived of liberty for reasons related to armed conflict and relatives and duly authorized representatives of above-named persons," said Ruth Cervantes, KARAPATAN Public Information Officer.

On August 22, 2006, KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog sent a humanitarian mission to Catanauan, Quezon to accompany Hermogenes Aumentado to retrieve the body of his daughter Raquel Aumentado, who was reported to have been killed in an encounter between government forces and the New People's Army (NPA).

Between 10 to 11 o'clock in the morning, soldiers belonging to the 74th IBPA stopped the mission at gunpoint, ordered the Aumentado family and baranggay officials to back out and arrested eight human rights volunteers, namely Mary Jane Almoete, Christopher de Leon, Khristina Mae Guray, Virgilio Batardo, Ramon Blastique Fajardo, Nona Quejero, JR Quejero and Kristine Tulay.

The eight volunteers are being held at the military camp because Lt. Col. Amado Bustillos alleged that they were suspected NPA rebels.

"That is an outright lie! We condemn the 74th IBPA for this attack on human rights defenders.  We condemn the Col. Bustillos for the vilifying KARAPATAN and our members to justify the assault on human rights workers," Cervantes said.

KARAPATAN said the military all too often use the communist or NPA tag as a justification to summarily execute or harass civilians. "They are also angry at us because their victims come to us for help, thus exposing the criminal acts that they have done to ordinary citizens whom they vowed to protect."

Under the GMA regime's Oplan Bantay Laya, we are currently subjected to a vilification campaign, which not only puts our workers in the field at greater risk but also hinders us from giving immediate assistance to victims. To date, twenty-six (26) KARAPATAN human rights workers have been killed under the GMA administration on top of countless fact-finding, peace and humanitarian missions that were harassed.

"As a citizen's watchdog on human rights, it is our duty to observe how the State, as signatory to human rights conventions, comply with the highest standards set by human rights instruments. Reported cases of violations committed by state security forces against its citizens are documented by our organization as we advocate for the respect of the full scope of the Filipino people's human rights.

"In a democracy, human rights workers should be allowed to do their job of assisting victims and monitoring state compliance to human rights conventions without fear of reprisal from government. Apparently, military authority is being made to prevail by the Arroyo government." Cervantes concluded.





Major road slips in Wright-Taft road undergo repair

August 23, 2006

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Commuters traveling the Wright-Taft Road can now breathe with relief as the once perilous Pisak road approach undergoes repair.

This was observed by Gil Alea, bus driver-operator of Ate Deyang, a PUB that ply the Catbalogan-Borongan road daily.

It will be recalled that in December 2005, major road slips occur as landslides swept the Wright-Taft road network. The most devastated portion was the Pisak Bridge approach where almost 80% of the pavement collapsed.

The road is between a hill and a deep embankment on the other side. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) initially issued a travel advisory warning the public to refrain from passing by the area as it posed grave danger, especially at nighttime. PUBs however, were unmindful of the warning and continued to pass the road.

“Thank God, no major accident happened,” said Frannie Accion from Borongan who is on board Ate Deyang weekly as he renders government service in Daram town.

In a phone interview with DPWH, Engr. Pablo Aragon, District Engineer, told PIA that the repair will employ geotextile technology where a waterproof mat is laid so that water will not seep in underground. Then, he said that a series of bags filled with soil will serve as rip-rap. It is then compacted and the pavement constructed.

All five major road slips in the area will utilize this technology because water is ever-present in the area specifically during the rainy days. The unabated water flow softens the soil which ushers landslides roads included, added Aragon.

Residents of San Rafael, Hinabangan have sought media’s help like DYMS to air this problem and beckon the concerned agency to action.

Although it took six months before the fund was released, Aragon is also thankful that no major accident has happened in the area. He acknowledges the intercession of DPWH Director Jaime Pacanan and Rep. Cata Figueroa for the fund release.

The 8-million repair, the engineer said could last up to two months. Assisting him is Engr. Joelito Castillo.



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