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DENR, LBP, ROD renew support for CARP implementation in E. Visayas

8ID installs new Battalion Commander of 19IB

Estrella pledges support to Samar’s agri development programs

Rural development seen as DAR turns over 2 bridges in So. Leyte and E. Samar

DAR gives P1.5M for the establishment of greenhouse in Palo

Calbayog City Coastal Road: An update

Surf in the City 2022 pushes for gender equality in male-dominated surfing

Declining trend in the number of registered births seen in EV



Tipid Apparel - Affordable Quality Apparels




Church worker tells UN about continuing rights violations in the PH

National Council of Churches in the Philippines at the UN

Press Release
March 23, 2023

MANILA – A representative of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) told the United Nations (UN) of continuing human rights violations under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

Speaking at the general debates of the ongoing 52nd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, NCCP program secretary for Faith, Witness and Service Mervin Sol Toquero reported before the international body that there had been 223 drug-related killings since July 2022, the start of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.

“There is also very minimal accountability for perpetrators since the time of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Toquero added.

Toquero said they are alarmed that human rights defenders, including church people and humanitarian workers, are also targeted under the country’s anti-terrorism and related laws.

He cited the case of United Methodist Church minister Glofie Baluntong who had been “falsely accused” of attempted murder as well as charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

He also mentioned the case of NCCP staff member and land and environment defender Peti Enriquez who has been charged for alleged violations of the International Humanitarian Law.

Toquero appealed to the UNHRC to call on the Philippine government to enact the Human Rights Defenders Bill pending before the Philippine Congress.

The Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives has recently approved the measure for the third time in two decades but is yet to be approved by its plenary and the Senate.

Toquero also asked the UN to call on the Philippine government to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act “as it endangers human rights defenders.”

“Relatedly, we ask this Council to continue urging the Philippine Government to cooperate with the ICC (International Criminal Court) as this would provide viable accountability mechanisms and combat impunity,” Toquero said.

The Philippine UPR Watch is participating in the ongoing 52nd Regular Session of the UN HRC’s adoptions of the recommendations made during the 4th UPR on the Philippines last November.

The Philippine government is expected to accept 215 of the 289 recommendations by UN member states, choosing however to reject substantial proposals such as rejoining the International Criminal Court, putting a stop to red-tagging and repeal of laws that are “weaponized” against rights defenders, church workers, journalists such as the Anti-Terrorism Act and Libel/Cyber-Libel.

The NCCP is a co-convenor of the Philippine UPR Watch.





One Town, One Product Philippines Act of 2022 gets Senate nod

One Town, One Product Philippines Act of 2022
L-R: DTI RIII OIC Regional Director Bi Pili, DTI Assistant Secretary Leonila Baluyut, DTI Undersecretary Bles Lantayona, Senator Loren Legarda, Senator Mark Villar, and DTI Secretary Fred Pascual during the opening of the OTOP Hub at the Senate of the Philippines on 6 March 2023

By DTI-OSEC-Public Relations Unit
March 22, 2023

MAKATI CITY – On Monday, 20 March 2023, the Senate of the Philippines passed Senate Bill No. 1594 also known as the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Act of 2022, with twenty-two (22) affirmative votes and no negative votes. This facilitates the institutionalization of OTOP as a program that aims to drive inclusive economic growth by supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the backbone of the Philippine economy.

Acknowledging the significant contribution of MSMEs toward economic growth and development, OTOP Philippines Act of 2022 warrants the provision of assistance for MSMEs to develop new, innovative, and more complex products with significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, standards and regulatory compliance, marketability, production capability, and brand development.

Likewise, rural communities will be given assistance to foster local economic development by creating higher quality and innovative products. Furthermore, the act shall promote the convergence of initiatives from local government units (LGUs), national government agencies (NGAs), and the private sector in developing and promoting Filipino-made products that can compete in the local and international market.

"We thank the Senate for passing this very important legislation that will increase the capacity of our MSMEs by addressing gaps in terms of training and product development. As we all know, more than 99% of the country's business enterprises are MSMEs, when we uplift them, we uplift the nation and our economy. Through this, the Department will be able to customize interventions that will pave the way for the development of new and innovative products from various regions of the country. It will also help promote our cultural identity in the international market," Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual said.

Further, through the establishment of OTOP Hubs and as part of the national government's inclusive economic growth agenda, OTOPreneurs or budding MSMEs from the grassroots are given the opportunity to showcase their unique products in various locations and access larger market and earning potential.

From 2017-2023, OTOP Philippines has already assisted 79,985 MSMEs, generated P10.9 million in sales, developed 39,815 products, established 111 OTOP Hubs (52 in Luzon, 18 in Visayas, and 41 in Mindanao), and conducted 1,390 trade fairs. MSMEs were mainly assisted in the form of standards compliance, product development, capacity building, and promotional activities.

Secretary Pascual further said that "Since we aim to introduce Filipino-made products in the international market, we also want to assist MSMEs in terms of standards and market compliance. We aim to preserve the OTOP brand as a mark of excellence and for that to happen, Filipino entrepreneurs must be capacitated in observing various standards and requirements. We need to make our products export quality, and this is where the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards comes in. They oversee the establishment of standards that will increase the competitiveness of our products."

Through the OTOP Philippines Act of 2022, the DTI is likewise authorized to establish the OTOP Philippines Trustmark, an assurance that products under the OTOP Program represent the country's best and that these have been marked as excellent in terms of quality, design, value, and marketability.

The OTOP Philippines Program covers products that are known to an area or locality and those that are ingrained in the community's cultural identity such as processed foods, agricultural-based products, home and fashion and creative artisanal products, and arts and crafts.





Hinabangan clinch gold medal in SPAA Meet 2023

Hinabangan Stormkickers

March 22, 2023

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – The members of Stormkickers who represented the municipality of Hinabangan emerged victorious in a four goals Futsal Game during the recently concluded Samar Provincial Athletic Association (SPAA) Meet on March 17-19, 2023 held in the municipality of Sta. Margarita, Samar.

Team Hinabangan defeated the five other competing teams.

In the championship game, Hinabangan won over the San Jorge team with an outstanding score of 4-1.

The 17-year-old Maricar Basada scored the vital 2 goals during the first half leaving the opponent to keep up.

“Di naging madali sa amin ang game lalo’t malakas din ‘yong kalaban namin. Kaya noong nakakita kami ng chance na makagoal sinamantala na namin", Basada said.

She added that the support they received from their coaches, trainers, and especially the 8th Infantry Division Commander, Major General Camilo Z Ligayo who ignited their passion and love for the sport, motivated them to do their best in the competition.

Meanwhile, Major General Ligayo lauded the Hinabangan team for clinching the gold medal.

“Nasaksihan ko kung paano nagsimula ang mga batang ito, nakita ko kung papano sila nagsumikap magtraining para makagawa ng pangalan sa larangan ng Football. Natutuwa akong makita na ngayon ay unti-uniti nang nagbunga ang kanilang mga sakripisyo at pagsisikap,” Maj. Gen. Ligayo said.

The Hinabangan team will represent the Division of Samar in the upcoming Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA).





Female-dominated farmer group thanks DAR official for helping them on International Women’s Day

Barangay Agutayan Farmers Association (BAFA)
Newly-assigned Hilongos, Leyte Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer (MARPO) Ruben Rebato visits the female-dominated Barangay Agutayan Farmers Association in the mountain village of Agutayan on International Women’s Day.

March 21, 2023

HILONGOS, Leyte – On International Women’s Day, a female-dominated agrarian reform beneficiaries organization (ARBO) in a remote village in this town thanked the newly-assigned Municipal Agrarian Reform Program Officer (MARPO) for helping them obtain legal documents that would strengthen their claim as legitimate owners over two lots they acquired.

The 272 members of the Barangay Agutayan Farmers Association (BAFA), including the 63 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), where 165 of them are women, learned that the properties they have acquired for several years now could be taken back from them because they do not have the legal documents to prove ownership. This was discovered when MARPO Ruben Rebato visited them in the mountain village of Agutayan on March 8 this year, as the whole world paid tribute to women around the globe.

While checking the documents, Rebato found out that although BAFA was progressing as an organization with assets now reaching ₱4.5-million, legal documents that would prove ownership over a lot they had purchased and another one donated to them, were missing.

BAFA lady-president, Vicenta Jaray, even hinted Rebato that the heirs of the previous owner who donated the lot where their organization’s building was constructed, are allegedly planning to take the property back from them.

Rebato, who used to be a legal officer, is now helping the BAFA officers obtain the “Extrajudicial Settlement with Deed of Sale” for the lot they had purchased and “Deed of Transfer” for the donated lot, to secure their claims of ownership over these lands.

Further, Rebato promised to guide them in preparing business contracts for the organization’s various business ventures, which include vermicast production.

Happy with the turnout of their first meeting with Rebato, Jaray said, “Sana di po muna kayo matransfer, sir.”

Lawyering (or PBD lawyering), according to Program Beneficiaries Development (PBD) Chief, Melecia Ong, is one of the assistances being extended by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to ARBs and ARBOs to make their activities and assets legitimate, among others.





PBBM, DTI Chief spearheads distribution of livelihood kits in Camarines Sur

PBBM distributed various government assistance for the citizens of Pili, Camarines Sur.
L-R: Congressman Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Congressman L-Ray Villafuerte, DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Governor Luigi Villafuerte, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and Mr. Vince Sical (beneficiary).

By DTI-OSEC-Public Relations Unit
March 18, 2023

PILI, Camarines Sur – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. along with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian, distributed on Thursday various government assistance for the citizens of Pili, Camarines Sur.

The ceremonial distribution, which was led by President Marcos Jr. is a collaborative program between the DTI, DOLE, DA, TESDA, and DSWD. Under the DTI, 100 Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) kits were distributed, composed of thirty-six (36) sewing kits and sixty four (64) food processing kits that are expected to boost the productivity and quality of the products produced by MSMEs in the area.

"This is an initiative of the national government in collaboration with LGUs in hopes of helping MSMEs affected by disasters and calamities. Our main goal is to assist them in their recovery, especially from the pandemic that affected several businesses in the country. We are providing them livelihood kits and loans in soft terms to restart or continue economic activities in the area, which is part of our bigger goal of achieving robust economic growth and expansion. We need to start from the grassroots, they are the ones whom we should strengthen as they serve as the foundation of our economy," Secretary Pascual said.

DTI's Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) is a livelihood seeding and entrepreneurship development program for microenterprises affected by fire incidents and other calamities, including priority sectors identified by the national government. It aims to assist in restarting economic activities within areas affected by disasters and calamities and provide livelihood opportunities for the community. Further, through PPG, DTI provides information materials, enterprise development training, business counseling and mentoring, as well as livelihood kits composed of actual goods, gift passes, and vouchers among others.

Aside from the livelihood kits, Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), the financing arm of DTI also released loans to ten (10) beneficiaries amounting to P5,894,000 in total. This is under the RISE UP loan program of SBCorp which aims to sustain the gains of MSMEs that have survived a crisis by providing multi-purpose loans that are accessible and in soft terms. Under RISE UP, SBCorp offers three products: (1) Micro Multi-Purpose Loan, (2) SME Multi-Purpose Loan Suki, and (3) SME Multi-Purpose Loan First Timers.

As MSMEs serve as the backbone of the Philippine economy being more than 99% of businesses in the country, they remain as one of the top priorities of the DTI. Aside from financial and livelihood assistance, the Department also endeavors to assist them in digital transformation that will enable them to reach wider markets, reduce operational costs, and cope with the changing landscape of the local and international market.

The ceremonial distribution was also attended by Congressman Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Congressman L-Ray Villafuerte, Governor Luigi Villafuerte, and other government representatives.





Calbayog Coast Guard Sub-station built in Calbayog City

Calbayog Coast Guard Sub-station

March 18, 2023

CALBAYOG CITY – The construction of Calbayog Coast Guard Sub-station has been recently completed by Samar First DEO which is located in Barangay Aguit-itan, Calbayog City, Samar.

The project is funded under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for CY 2023 under the program on Sustainable Infrastructure Projects Alleviating Gaps (SIPAG) with a total contract amount of P9.79 million.

This two-storey structure has a floor area of 420 sq. meters that includes a roof deck. Part of its scope of work are comfort rooms, cabinets, tiles, paint and network cabling. Also, partitions were incorporated in the works done that will be used as a conference room, commanding officer’s quarter, administrative office, ward room, mess hall, male and female barracks, deputy office and officer’s quarters.

This building will give more space unlike their existing smaller office for the different types of work and for everyday transactions pertaining to any maritime operations in Calbayog City.





Army sends anniversary packages to troops in E. Visayas

Army sends anniversary packages to troops

March 15, 2023

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, Samar – In line with the 126th Founding Anniversary of the Philippine Army, anniversary packages were distributed to all units of the 8th Infantry "Stormtroopers" Division, PA, during the simultaneous ceremonial handover on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

The virtual handover ceremony was led by Lieutenant General Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Commanding General of the Philippine Army who distributed packages to the units in Northern Luzon and was replicated in all Army units nationwide. The packages were distributed to capacitate all troops by mobilizing resources to all of its units.

In his address, Lt. Gen. Brawner stressed the value of all soldiers by increasing their abilities and giving them the resources they need to perform their responsibilities and strive for excellence in all pursuits.

“The reason why we are doing this is because we want our units to feel their value and importance. We also want them to feel the spirit of our Anniversary this year,” Lt. Gen. Brawner shared.

Among other essential things, the packages include combat clothing, Information Communication Technology equipment, foldable beds and grocery packs.

Meanwhile, Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo, Commander of the 8ID, PA, expressed gratitude to higher headquarters for the support to the welfare of its soldiers to sustain the organization’s successes.

“We appreciate the gesture of our higher headquarters. This will surely boost the morale of our troops in their efforts to end the Communist Insurgency in Eastern Visayas," he said.





Abuyog farmers: We received more than what we expected from DAR

Canmarating, Odiongan, Pagsang-an, Sulpa Irrigators Association (COPS-IA)
President of the Canmarating, Odiongan, Pagsang-an, Sulpa Irrigators Association (COPS-IA) President, Rodrigo Alumbro, delegates to members of the organization the responsibilities in the operation and maintenance of the farm machineries and equipment received from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

March 15, 2023

ABUYOG, Leyte – After more than a month since they received several farm machineries and equipment from Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III and Senator Imee Marcos during their recent visit to Eastern Visayas, Rodrigo Alumbro, president of the Canmarating, Odiongan, Pagsang-an, Sulpa Irrigators Association (COPS-IA) still cannot believe that they got that much assistance from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Alumbro shared that they received farm machineries and equipment more than what they had expected. He added that aside from the farm machineries and equipment that they received, they were also provided with grass cutter which are of big help to them maintain their irrigation canals.

After the more than half a million worth of assistance were turned over to them by Estrella and Marcos, Alumbro called a meeting with the officials of the COPS-IA to discuss the operations and maintenance of the said farm machineries under the guidance of DAR development facilitator Percival Maballo.

According to Alumbro, COPS-IA has 107 rice farmer members including 55 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) tilling a combined area of 181 hectares of rice fields.

Chief of the Program Beneficiaries Development Division (PBDD), Melecia Ong, disclosed that COPS-IA, based in this town, is one of the two initial agrarian reform beneficiaries organization (ARBO) recipients in Eastern Visayas of package of support services, which include farm machineries and equipment, under the Sustainable and Resilient Agrarian Reform Communities (SuRe ARCs) program.

Ong further disclosed that aside from these machines, COPS-IA will also be receiving soon a hauling truck, which the ARBO can use in transporting their produce.

She explained that SuRe ARCs program with ₱16-billion funding for its implementation nationwide aims to improve the production in areas under major crops and eventually have increased income both for the ARBO and the ARBs by providing them the necessary assistance.

Ong stressed that this is in support of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s food security program. This is also in line with Estrella’s nine primary goals which include farm mechanization and capacitating the ARBOs, she added.





Karapatan: Only human rights violators, NTF-ELCAC are afraid of HR Defenders Bill

Press Release
March 15, 2023

QUEZON CITY – ”Only human rights violators and the NTF-ELCAC are afraid of the Human Rights Defenders Bill.”

Rights group Karapatan said this in reaction to statements made on Monday, March 13, 2023, by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) opposing House Bill 77, or the Human Rights Defenders Bill. HB 77 was recently approved at the committee level at the House of Representatives.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, “The NTF-ELCAC’s opposition comes as no surprise because when passed into law, this piece of legislation will directly challenge and confront the agency’s actions, including the relentless red-tagging and state-sponsored attacks against human rights defenders, government critics, activists and dissenters.”

“It is appalling how the NTF-ELCAC claims that the bill is a ‘vicious threat to democracy,’ when they are the ones who fabricate lies and weaponize the law to criminalize everybody they have maliciously and wrongly labelled and tagged as ‘terrorist,’” she added.

Palabay reiterated how the proposed bill enumerates and clarifies the definition of the rights of human rights defenders, particularly the right to form associations, groups and organizations; seek, receive and disseminate information; be secure in academic institutions; to enjoy privacy; participate in public affairs; and receive protection against intimidation, reprisals, defamation, stigmatization and vilification, among others.

Palabay likewise slammed the NTF-ELCAC for zeroing in on a provision of the bill granting sanctuary to endangered human rights defender. “The passage of a law for the protection of the people’s right to defend human rights should provide stronger accountability measures for state actors who systematically and routinely violate people’s rights,” she said. “Providing sanctuary is only one of the means by which the safety and security of human rights defenders can be protected. So why is the NTF-ELCAC so obsessed against providing sanctuary? Is it because this will prevent them from freely killing, abducting, arresting or harassing and intimidating anyone they tag as terrorist?” Palabay asked.

She likewise took exception to the NTF-ELCAC’s claims that the powers of the Commission on Human Rights would become superfluous once the HR defenders bill is passed into law. “The Human Rights Defenders Act will, in fact, enhance and support the work of human rights defenders in the country, which would include both the CHR and non-government organizations,” Palabay said.

The CHR has issued a statement in full support of the passage of the HR Defenders Bill. Karapatan said that the enactment of the proposed legislation is long overdue, considering the numerous killings and attacks against human rights defenders.

“With the Legal Cooperation Cluster of the NTF-ELCAC functioning as a factory of lies and fabricated charges against human rights defenders, it is no wonder they reject a bill that would expose their dirty tactics of weaponizing the law to suppress human rights defenders. Many people have suffered arbitrary detention and threats in the hands of these people,” Palabay said.

Karapatan renewed its call for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC.

“This agency is a huge waste of people’s money,” said Palabay, “because it exists to mastermind and implement human rights violations and defend the culture of impunity enjoyed by human rights violators.”





6 NPA members surrender, NPA loss support from masses in Northern Samar

6 NPA members surrender to police and military

March 14, 2023

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City – Six members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) surrendered to the joint force of the military under the 803rd Infantry "Peacemaker" Brigade, Philippine Army, and the Northern Samar Police at the Headquarters of 43rd Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Magsaysay, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar last March 8, 2023.

They surrendered two M16A1 rifles, one M14 rifle, two cal .45 pistols, one cal .38 revolver, and NPA propaganda materials.

Lieutenant Colonel Manuel B. Degay Jr, Commanding Officer of 43IB together with the Northern Samar Police formally accepted the surrender of six NPA members who belongs to the Executive Committee of Front Committee 2 (FC2) Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit (SRGU), Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) Emporium, of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC).

"We have been struggling in the mountains evading the government security forces, we are tired and hungry since we no longer have the masses' support. We only eat once in a while," alias Arthur said in a statement.

Alias Webb, the former Finance Officer of SRC Emporium who surrendered earlier, said that the people are now aware of their deception; the NPA is finding it hard to recruit and organize in the countryside resulting in a crisis and desperation of its members in their movement.

Lt. Col. Degay Jr. praised the sacrifices and efforts of the 43lB troops and the Local Government Units in the successful campaign to defeat the insurgency in the area. He also assured the former rebels that they would not regret their decision.

"I encourage the remaining members of the NPA here in Northern Samar to return to the folds of the law so that you can take advantage of the services prepared by our government so that you can start over and live in peace with your loved ones. The Provincial and Municipal Task Forces in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) here in Northern Samar have prepared benefits for those who will return to the government," Lt. Col. Degay Jr. added.

Major General Camilo Z. Ligayo, Commander of the 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division, Philippine Army and Joint Task Force Storm (JTFS) is grateful for the trust given by the six surrenderees to the government. This effort only shows positive results of tireless work of soldiers and law enforcement to achieve peace in the region.

"The surrender of the six members of CTGs to our authorities is just a demonstration of their trust in the government. Therefore, I am calling out to all the remaining members of the CTGs to lay down your weapon and return to the folds of the law. It's not too late, our government will help you to start a new life and hope with peace in your hearts and minds" said Major General Ligayo.





Construction in progress for additional classrooms in Ilijan and Calanyugan ES

Ilijan Elementary School

March 13, 2023

CALBAYOG CITY – The construction of one (1) storey – two (2) classroom school building in Barangay Ilijan Elementary School in the Municipality of Sto. Niño, Samar and in Calanyugan Elementary School, Pagsanghan, Samar have commenced in convergence with the Department of Education, said Samar First District Engineering Office.

Both projects have a total contract amount of P10.81 million.

The structure will have PWD ramp with guard rails, hand washing area, comfort rooms enclosed in each classroom together with the prescribed paint once the structure will be completed.

A good and conducive school building makes it a good place for the children to study, which is important as the student spends maximum time in school. These additional structures will give more space to the growing school community especially that Ilijan ES has more or less seven classrooms only while Calanyugan ES has an existing two classrooms.

Calanyugan Elementary School




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