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P3.4-M TUPAD grants benefit 679 Leyteňos

DPWH-BDEO installs rainwater collection systems in Biliran province

DTI’s OTOP Ambassador Catriona Gray raises the flag, flaunting the PH weaving crafts

DAR links 14 farmer organizations in EV to institutional buyers

Congress withdraws Bill converting NMP into PMMA Visayas Extension Campus

DPWH opens circumferential road in Sto. Niño, Samar

DAR-Samar rolls out distribution of agri-production inputs

DOLE RO-8 conducts payout to TUPAD #BKBK beneficiaries in Samar


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NMP Press Conference
NMP Press Conference hosted by the PIA RO VIII on 18 September 2020.

NMP answers the call for a sustainable maritime future

By National Maritime Polytechnic
September 29, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – The National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) joins in celebration of the 2020 World Maritime Week themed as “Sustainable Shipping For A Sustainable Planet” and the 2020 National Maritime Week with the theme “Working Together as One for Sustainable Maritime Philippines”.

As a kick-off activity for a week-long celebration, NMP collaborated with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) RO 8 to drumbeat the Agency’s programs and projects in relation to the Maritime Week Celebration to be featured in the online press conference dubbed as “PANININDUGAN: A Virtual Kapihan” hosted by PIA last 18 September 2020.

“NMP, as the sole government maritime training and research center of the country consequently plays a crucial role in the enhancement of skills and competencies of Filipino seafarers as articulated in our mission. Being the government’s maritime training arm, NMP should therefore be able to lead in the country’s efforts of grooming the Filipino seafarers to become the choice seafarers in the highly competitive arena of seafarers in the whole world.”, NMP Executive Director Joel B. Maglunsod said in his message during the forum.

Different government agencies particularly the members of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) also shared their activities and projects during the virtual Kapihan particularly those concerning the Filipino seafarers. Also present were various media personnel and PIA managers from different areas of the region.

Accordingly, during the 3-day Maritime Industry Symposium on 23-25 September 2020 spearheaded by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), NMP was invited as one of the Reactors during the 2nd day wherein NMP highlighted its mandate on the provision of maritime training towards transitioning to the “new normal” specifically making NMP training programs accessible to seafarers even during the health crisis.

ED Jomag announced NMP’s innovations that aside from the implementation of NMP’s Post-ECQ Operational Plan that limits the number of trainees accommodated, the online courses on Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Maritime Sector (PADAMS) and STD/HIV/AIDS Prevention in the Maritime Sector (SHAPIMS) were launched last August 2020 while the Gender Sensitivity Training for Seafarers (GSTS) online course will follow which aims to improve the accessibility of the training to client-seafarers including those on-board ships and at the same time promote Gender and Development advocacy on fairness and equity in the workplace among male and female seafarers.

The online Consolidated MARPOL 73/78 course and the blended Training Course for Instructors (IMO Model Course 6.09) and Assessment, Examination and Certification of Seafarers (IMO Model Course 3.12) are in the pipeline for their immediate offering. Also, the development of the Vessel Crane Operator Course and the Freefall Enclosed Lifeboat Course in blended learning are for completion within the year.

Further, the review of two (2) non-mandatory courses titled Oily Water Separator and Updating Basic Training are ongoing for conversion to blended learning.

Relatively, the “Train Now Pay Later” Program was conceptualized to allow qualified cadets and graduates to undergo the required trainings subject to repayment after the first year of shipboard employment. This program will address the dilemma of many seafarers including the graduates from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy who are unable to attend the required training courses due to the high cost of trainings and miscellaneous fees.

The implementation of the NMP-OWWA Seafarers’ Upgrading Program and Skills for Employment Scholarship Program have likewise assisted the seafarers in availing of financial assistance to cover the costs of training fees.

These innovations are geared towards providing our seafarers with the necessary competencies for their enhanced employability that are aligned to the priorities in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and in transitioning to a “new and better normal”.

“The NMP remains open for collaborative undertakings that give priority to our seafarers and maritime-allied professionals such that we altogether empower them with the technical competence as they face the challenges in these trying times.”, ED Jomag stated in the Closing Program of the Maritime Week Celebration on 25 September 2020 hosted by the MARINA RO8.

Meanwhile, NMP continues to conduct face-to-face trainings with strict implementation of the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) approved Post-Enhanced Community Quarantine Operational Plan and other health and safety protocols as required by the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and local government unit (LGU).





Army official denounces killing of former rebel by NPA in Samar

September 29, 2020

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar – Major General Pio Q. Dinoso, III, the 8th Infantry Division Commander, denounced the NPA for killing one of their former comrades who returned to the folds of law.

killed former rebelHe said that the government forces will do everything in order to give justice to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel who was mercilessly killed by their comrades.

“We will make the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) and their supporters accountable for the actions of their members who deprived their former NPA members to live peacefully with their loved ones,” said Major General Diñoso.

He also calling on the Commission on Human Rights and self-declared human rights advocates like Karapatan Eastern Visayas chapter to condemn and take action for the lives of the victims who were mercilessly murdered.

This year about 5 former rebels were abducted and murdered while many civilians were victims of their enormity.

The condemnation came after a former rebel who surrendered to the government was brutally killed by Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) in Barangay Nagpapacao, Matuguinao, Samar, morning of September 28.

The victim was identified as Carlos B Diaz, 50 years old, who was shot several times on his head and different parts of his body by 8 CNTs while he was working at his farm in Barangay Nagpapacao, Matuguinao, Samar around 7:30 Monday morning.

The Commanding Officer of 19th Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Jasper Justito M Pecson said that Diaz has been living peacefully with his family as a farmer after he surrendered last August 2018 when he was attacked.

“The New People’s Army is doing atrocities in order to instill fear among their former members and supporters and even kill people in the communities who contradict their propaganda,” Pecson said.

“Terrorist groups like the CNTs usually take advantage of the youth and locals who are living in isolated and depressed areas are highly vulnerable to false ideologies. But as the victims realize that they are just being used for the benefit of the communist organization, these rebel members and supporters can no longer get out of the group. Instead of allowing their comrades to enjoy peace and new life with their families, the Communist-NPA torture and brutally murder them, leaving them with no choice but to stay in the terrorist organization,” Pecson added.





Fil-am, workers union, rights advocates laud new bill seeking end to PH military aid

Rep Susan Wild

Human rights situation created by Duterte is what’s “wild”

Press Release
September 25, 2020

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), The Malaya Movement, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and Kabataan Alliance held a Zoom press conference about the recent introduction of the Philippine Human Rights Act (H.R. 8313), led by Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) and co-sponsored by 19 other representatives in response to the increasingly dangerous actions of the Duterte regime to punish and execute trade unionists and activists.

The newly-proposed Philippine Human Rights Act earned the irk of Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque describing the bill filed by Pennsylvania Representative Wild as a “very wild suggestion.”

In an online post, The Malaya Movement was quick to tell Roque that it is the human rights situation in the country that is “wild.” The reply was superimposed in a dictionary definition of “wilder” and “wildest” with the words “unstrained by reason or prudence” encircled. In bold letters, the group said “PH Gov’t says PHRA is a “wild suggestion” but what is wild is the human rights situation they created. Time to pass the #PassThePHRA!”

“While Duterte has recently made comments to the United Nations calling for objectivity and non-interference on human rights issues in the Philippines, what is objectively clear to the world is the Duterte regime is tyrannical and laden with abuse and atrocities,” said ICHRP Secretary General, Rev. Michael Yoshii. “We must withdraw U.S. military support from this growing dictatorship.”

“Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal regime is using the pretext of a so-called “Anti-Terrorism Law” to ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents,” said Rep. Susan Wild on the House floor today. “This law allows suspects to be detained by the police or military without charges for as long as 24 days and placed under surveillance for up to 90 days. Let us make clear that the United States will not participate in the repression. Let us stand with the people of the Philippines.”

“We cannot stand idly by while Duterte kills labor activists one by one,” said CWA’s Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy Shane Larson. “We must condemn it, and do every single thing within our power to stop it. And that starts with mobilizing to enact legislation like the Philippine Human Rights Act. CWA is committed to battling against the sorts of egregious labor and human rights abuses that are the reality facing the Filipino people under the Duterte regime and we are proud to be in this fight with all of you.”

“This bill is the result of years of organizing by the Filipino-American community, as well as our allies, who refuse to be complicit in the oppression of the Filipino people,” explained Nicanora Montenegro from the Malaya Movement. “Activists and organizers have worked hard to gain the support of our legislators, even as the Duterte government attacks us for speaking the truth. And we will continue to organize until we stop this tyranny and achieve genuine democracy for our people,” Larson concluded.

“Filipino-American youth say enough is enough,” declared Mikaela Tajo, a leader with George Washington University’s Philippine Cultural Society, which is a member of Kabataan Alliance. “We demand more from our country, both of our countries. Lives are at stake with this bill, and we cannot sit idly waiting for others to take action. And now we’re challenging you to do the same.”

Address human rights violations or else

Earlier this year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act – a law that ICHRP has called the “last piece of the puzzle” in his government’s martial law agenda. The law is clearly aimed at expanding the government’s ability to target political opponents and activists. It allows suspects to be detained by the police or military without charges for as long as 24 days and placed under surveillance for up to 90 days.

The Philippine Human Rights Act blocks U.S. funds for police or military assistance to the Philippines, including equipment and training, until such time as human rights conditions are met. Specifically, the Philippines must meet the following conditions to lift restrictions set by the bill:

1. Investigating and prosecuting members of the military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights;

2. Withdrawing the military from domestic policy;

3. Establishing protections of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human right defenders, indigenous persons, small-farmers, LGBTI activists, and critics of the government;

4. Taking steps to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses; and

5. Fully complying with any and all audits or investigations regarding the improper use of security aid.

Other organizations supporting the bill include: the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Teamsters, American Federation of Teachers, Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, United Church of Christ - Global Ministries, United Methodist Church - General Board of Church & Society, Migrante USA, Gabriela USA, Anakbayan USA, Bayan-USA, Franciscan Network on Migration, Pax Christi New Jersey, Kabataan Alliance, and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.

Download PHRA bill copy here.





DAR-EV blended modality problem solving session
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Eastern Visayas now also adopts virtual problem solving session under the new normal.

DAR-EV adopts blended modality on problem solving session

September 25, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Eastern Visayas proved that modern technology can be of great help indeed at these times, when mass gathering is strictly prohibited as the whole world experiences pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DAR officials, both from the central, regional and provincial offices, realized this after several issues delaying the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) were immediately addressed in the recently conducted integrated and blended learning session cum problem-solving with officials from the Registry of Deeds (ROD), Land Bank of the Philippines-Agrarian Operation Center (LBP-AOC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DAR OIC-Regional Director Ismael Aya-ay said that though most of the participants were joining the session remotely, it proved to be a fruitful one, for many of the issues were resolved with the intervention of Undersecretary for Field Operations Office, David Erro; Assistant Secretary Jim Coleto; Director of the Bureau of Land Tenure Improvement, Joey Sumatra; and Director of Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance, Marjorie Ayson.

Undersecretary for Foreign-Assisted and Special Project Office Bernie Cruz also joined the online session and provided inputs related to Support for Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project.
Aya-ay applauded when the chairman of the Project Management Executive Committee at the Land Registration Authority (LRA) Central Office, as relayed by ROD Regional Director Atty. Emeterio Villanoza, committed to work out the immediate release of the 39 RP titles covering 354.4 hectares pending in their office.

Once released, generation of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in the names of the qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) will follow.

Meanwhile, DAR Central Office officials promised to do the follow-up for the activities at the central office level with the different concerned line agencies.

On the other hand, Assistant Secretary Coleto gave closure to the question that was confronting the LBP-AOC on whether a landholding issued with “Notice of Coverage” (NOC) prior to June 30, 2014 could still be covered under the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) scheme even if the offer was done after the said date.

According to Coleto, Section 30 of the Republic Act No. 9700 stated that as long as an NOC was issued before June 30, 2014, the coverage may proceed. “Though the VOS was accepted on a later date, the process is still considered valid and it may still proceed following the said provision,” he added.

This particular issue involves about 325 hectares and is now considered settled. “Under VOS, landowners shall be paid the corresponding five percent cash incentive in accordance to the law,” Coleto stressed.

DAR Eastern Visayas regularly holds a quarterly problem solving session with line agencies to thresh out issues that hinder the smooth implementation of CARP in the region.

“If this pandemic will continue to threaten everyone, this office will adapt to the new normal so we could deliver our targets,” said Aya-ay.

Furthermore, Chief of the Land Tenure Service Division, Francisco Diloy, disclosed that DAR Eastern Visayas has already accomplished 577 hectares or 27 percent of its 2,151-hectare target in Land Acquisition and Distribution for this year.





Leyte’s League of Municipal Mayors commends DOLE-RO8

September 22, 2020

TACLOBAN CITY – Recognizing the important role of the local chief executives in the successful implementation of the department’s programs and services, the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No. 8 conducted a Virtual Collaborative Meeting with the Municipal Mayors’ League of the Leyte on 18 September 2020.

The said collaborative activity was attended by around forty (40) participants composed of Municipal Mayors, Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Managers, DOLE-RO8 Senior Officials and employees.

Mr. Norman L. Uyvico, OIC-Chief of DOLE-North Leyte Field Office delivered the opening message and highlighted that DOLE’s work in delivering the different programs and services to the public especially this time of pandemic will never be complete without the active support of the local leaders.

Meanwhile, Regional Director Yahya A. Centi, in his message, underscored the purpose of the collaboration with the league of mayors in Leyte, just like what was done by DOLE-RO8 previously with other provinces and districts.

“It is through this initiative that we as a government agency will be able to apprise local chief executives of the various programs geared towards helping our economy especially those greatly affected by the ongoing global health crisis. This will now serve as our avenue for an effective exchange of information which is indeed crucial in decision-making”, said Director Centi.

Hon. Frances Ann B. Petilla, Mayor of LGU-Palo and President of the League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines-Leyte Chapter, reciprocated the appreciation and recognition expressed by the DOLE-RO8. She commended the agency for all its accomplishments and committed to be more supportive in the delivery of DOLE programs and services.

“I’d like to thank and commend our labor department here in Region 8 under the steady leadership of Director Centi for always ensuring that our workers receive the necessary assistance. It is just suitable to say that we also as leaders in the local level need the help of NGAs like you in order to respond to our respective constituents. We need each other to make things work for the good of our people. And so I’m giving our 100% commitment for the furtherance of DOLE’s programs here in Leyte,” Hon. Petilla said.

Also during the meeting, Director Centi sought the help of the good president of the league to facilitate the liquidations of the livelihood grants released to the different municipalities for DOLE-RO8 to be able to provide more assistance to other workers in need.

One of the participants of the meeting, Mayor Ofelia Alcantara of LGU-Tolosa shared how DOLE through RD Centi’s initiative was able to help her when she was a newly-installed mayor of the municipality. She said that in replicating the collaboration with other NGAs, she was able to bring the needed services of the people of Tolosa.

The virtual forum ended with a closing remarks from DOLE-RO8 Assistant Regional Director Amable Ildefonso C. Roa who likened the important linkage of DOLE and LGUs to that of a blossoming relationship. He also emphasized that DOLE will never get tired of doing its job, that is serving the Filipino workers in the best way possible.

“We will always be thankful for the opportunity to serve our workers here in the region for that is what we are here for as public servants”, said ARD Roa.





DPWH-BDEO to complete Almeria bypass road by fourth quarter of 2020

Almeria bypass road

By DPWH Biliran
September 22, 2020

NAVAL, Biliran – Works are now on-going for the construction of Almeria Bypass Road project in Biliran which is set to be completed this year by the Department of Public Works and Highways- Biliran District Engineering Office (DPWH-BDEO).

David P. Adongay Jr., District Engineer said that the project is now in full swing and being fast-track for completion by 4th quarter of the year, 2020.

“Expect a wider and safer road and bridge when travelling in Almeria town as soon as this project will be completed,” said Adongay.

The project starts from Sitio Daro traversing rice fields all the way to upper Look in Almeria town. It is implemented in two phases with a total length of 1.262 km. 4-lane roadway and a 20.0 ln.m Bridge (4 lanes) amounting to P95.8M.

First phase of the project amounting to P83.1M includes road opening, slope protection, bridge construction and a road concreting of a 0.879-kilometer four lane road while phase two of the project includes a 0.383 kilometer four-lane road concreting.

According to Adongay, the project was prioritized in lieu of the road widening project on the main highway of Almeria where numerous residents will be affected.

“As per inspection, bridge construction is already completed while road concreting is continuously done to meet the target date of completion,” said Adongay.





World church leaders denounce rights violations in the Philippines, echo the call to “Stop the Killings”

Press Release
September 19, 2020

QUEZON CITY – "It is in the time of crisis that we come together as a people of God and stand in solidarity with one other. The call to end human rights violations is an act of allegiance and faithfulness to God and a call to say no to systemic injustice," said Rev. Dr. Collin Cowan, General Secretary of the Church World Mission in the International Ecumenical Convocation on the Defense of Human Rights in the Philippines on September 17.

World church leaders in the Convocation denounced the worsening rights situation in the Philippines and raised alarm on the violations experienced by rights defenders and organizations. “In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, human rights have been greatly exacerbated and worsened, in which context civil society space has even more drastically reduced,” said Peter Prove, Director of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission for International Affairs.

The WCC is one of the partner organizations of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) that are closely monitoring the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and has been advocating in behalf of the rights defenders here in the Philippines to the UN Special Mechanisms for many years. As part of its ongoing commitment, it continues to push and advocate for the members of the 45th UNHRC to vote for an independent and impartial investigation on the killings and Human Rights Violations under President Duterte as reflected on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last June.

Derek Duncan, co-chair of the Asia Pacific Forum said that “US churches, in particular, are painfully aware of the troubled colonial history between the US and Philippines, which contributes to our nation’s complicity in today’s human rights abuses by both government and industrial-commercial structures in the Philippines”. However, he emphasized that their continued advocacy with the US government remains of critical importance and their current advocacy “focuses on introduction of a robust Philippine Human Rights Act, an instrument which would ‘suspend United States security assistance to the Philippines until such time as human rights violations by Philippine security forces cease and the responsible state forces are held accountable’.”

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) also expressed concern “over the rights violations of human rights defenders, particularly the red-tagging of NCCP and the Student Christian Movement in the Philippines. The government’s militarist policies have been an excuse to persecute, to kill and to shrink the space for civil society,” remarked Marcelo Leites, Regional Representative of WSCF-Latin America and the Caribbean.

Christian Conference of Asia General Secretary Dr. Mathews George Chunakara also condemned the “[Philippine] government’s act to stifle the voices and conscience of the people” and called to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. “The subversion of democratic rights during the martial law is back to be seen. There are many indications that the current President is going to the same direction as Marcos during the martial law era.”

Rev. Dr. Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of World Communion of Reformed Churches, responded “If we were to keep silent, even the stones will cry out. We pledge to mobilize our own people, raise the issue to the international forums, bring together our families to advocate and work and be part of the global struggle against authoritarianism.”

These were in response to the testimonies from church workers and human rights advocates who have been red-tagged, vilified, harassed, and charged with trumped-up cases. Among those who gave their testimonies were Sr. Ellen Belardo from the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Bishop Hamuel Tequis, Rev. Marco Sulayao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Jane Molina Lee, widow of a drug war victim, and Clarizza Singson of Karapatan-Negros. Cristina Palabay of Karapatan gave the Philippine Human Rights situationer and Atty. Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers discussed the Anti-Terrorism Act and its impacts on the work of churches and humanitarian organizations.

Filipino church leader, Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, called on the international community for a continuous accompaniment and greater solidarity with the Philippines. “With you by our side in solidarity, accompanying us in our quest for justice, we may be afflicted and persecuted, vilified and harassed, charged falsely or imprisoned under made-up charges, yet we are not forsaken.”

Before him, The Most Rev. Gerardo Alminaza, Bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos, gave one of the welcome remarks, said that the cries for justice and solidarity ring out and reverberate through the villages in the island of Negros which “shake the Church and quicken the hearts of her people”. Ms. Ma. Cathrine Kay Almario, NCCP Vice Chairperson for the Youth also welcomed the participants who stated that the current administration must be held accountable for its crime against humanity.

The Convocation ended with the launch of a unity statement read by Rosmalia Barus, the Vice Moderator of the United Evangelical Mission, The Most Rev. Rex RB. Reyes, Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines, Episcopal Church of the Philippines, and WCC Central Committee member, with Ms. Patricia Mari Mungcal of the NCCP. The said statement carries the message that the international ecumenical community will bear witness and keep watch with regards to the human rights situation in the Philippines. The statement also supports the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including recommendations from at least 24 UN human rights experts for the UN Human Rights Council to “establish an on-the-ground independent, impartial investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines”. The signature campaign, initially signed by 20 international church institutions, will continue until September 24 while the 45th UNHRC Regular Session in Geneva is still on-going.



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