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
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
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
What sets the Dream
Cities apart is that their mayors have adopted the ISA’s public
governance score card system, taken from the
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
more livable as he has always been advocating that the government of
Calbayog is not working for the people but rather working with the
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
By TERESITA B. CARDENAS, (PIA Northern
August 24, 2006
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
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
The “Tarapo Festival”
was participated in by the different tribu(s) or barangays of Catarman.
The “Ibabao Festival” of
emerged as the winner followed by the “Bankero Festival” of Barangay
Bangkerohan. A presentation from the Eastern Visayas College of
Criminology (EVCC) ranked third.
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%.
Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act 2006 held
By RACHEL ANN M. VILLEGAS, (KIMRO)
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
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
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
AFP's 74th IB scored for violating
international humanitarian laws
August 23, 2006
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
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,"
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
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
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE, (PIA
August 23, 2006
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.