Blessing, dedication rites for
Guinsaugon housing units held
By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern
Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte – Exactly nine months to the day the
mountains came crashing down, a new barangay Guinsaugon has gradually
evolved out of the vast expanse right here in this barangay.
On Friday, November
17, a ceremonial house blessing and dedication for 100 housing units
under the Japan Emergency Grant Aid, in cooperation with the DSWD and
Habitat for Humanity, was held here attended by Gov. Rosette Lerias,
DSWD Usec Violeta Cruz, Vice-Mayor Felix Lim, and other visiting top
Executives from the private sector and from Habitat who had helped in
the actual physical work for the houses.
A total of 165 duplex
dwelling units intended for 330 surviving families of Guinsaugon have
been built in this sprawling space.
The Gawad Kalinga’s
100 houses had been turned-over and already used by the beneficiaries
about five months ago, while the 130 units undertaken by the Red Cross
were still ongoing, according to a local Red Cross personnel.
The other set of 100
houses sponsored by
was also in the finishing stages of completion, but this was already
blessed and dedicated in a formal ceremony as many of the units were
President of the Guinsaugon Homeowners’ Association, was visibly
touched by the outpouring of assistance they had received that he was
almost speechless in his testimony.
But Esguerra managed
to voice out the desire of the people living in the new community
regarding their need for sustainable livelihood.
Gov. Lerias readily
responded to Esguerra’s call, saying that a hygienic fish drying
machine will be coming soonest for the livelihood of the people living
in the new settlement.
Gov. Lerias also
expressed her heartfelt thanks to all the donors who left their
comfort zones in the city and did not hesitate to offer their help for
the reconstruction of lives deeply affected by the disaster.
She said the past
tragedy must be viewed as a “reminder that God must be the center of
Justice for Palo
massacre victims dawning
Leyte – Presiding Judge Mario Nicolasora of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
ordered the acquittal of eight (8) accused of charges of illegal
possession of low powered firearms during the promulgation hearing on
the afternoon of November 17, 2006. The acquitted farmers included
Richard Margallo, Baltazar Mardo, Ferdinand Montanejos, Artemio Amante,
Eulogio Pilapil, Ronilo Orcida, Arniel Dizon, and Fe Muriel
Joselito Tobe, one of
the accused and secretary general of the Concerned Citizens for
Justice and Peace, died in prison before the said promulgation.
Following the order,
the detainees were released from the Leyte Provincial Jail located at
Kauswagan, Palo, Leyte on the afternoon of the same date.
Dawning of justice
In an interview, Alex
Garcia Lagunzad, secretary-general of human rights organization
KATUNGOD-SB, described this recent development as a dawning of justice
to the victims of the Palo Massacre – to those who were brutally
killed, for the kins of the dead, the wounded and the survivors.
“This also means that
we, along with the victims are in a moral high ground to pursue the
filing of counter-charges against the elements of the 19th Infantry
Battalion of the Philippine Army who perpetrated the mass killing”, he
“We are still to dig
into the circumstances of the death of Joselito Tobe who died in
prison at the Kauswagan Provincial Jail as there could have been
possibility of a foul play”, he further said. It could be remembered
that Tobe along with two other accused received death threats while in
nga makasuhan, mapapagbaton, ngan mapatukan han kaangayan nga sirot an
mga kasundaluhan nga nagmasaker han mga inosente nga mga parag-uma
(We are expecting that the soldiers be brought to the bars of justice,
charged, made to answer and convicted for their brutal massacre of
innocent farmers”, he said.
The Palo massacre,
almost a year after
It can be remembered
that last November 21, 2005, elements of the 19th IB PA headed by team
leader 2LT. Luel Adrian Benedicto open fired at a group of farmers and
killed nine (9) peasants including an eight-month pregnant mother at
Brgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte.
The farmers were
gathered for a “balik-uma” or re-cultivating a land awarded to them by
the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as its farmers-beneficiaries.
These farmers were affiliated with the DAR-accredited San Agustin
Farmers-Beneficiaries Cooperative (or SAFABENCO), Alang-alang Small
Farmers Association (ASFA) and Bayan Muna party-list.
The soldiers alleged
that these farmers were armed as they were members of the New People’s
Army (NPA) on which they based the charges of “illegal position of
firearms” which was recently dismissed by the MTC.
It could be remembered
that there was a widespread public outrage over the incident, not only
from the local community but also from the national and international
front. Many responded by sending solidarity statements as well as
material and financial support to the victims.
Grateful for the
In the courtroom, all
the accused were teary-eyed upon hearing the presiding judge reading
the judgment of their acquittal from the charges against them.
“We are very grateful
for this day, especially those who have extended assistance to prove
our innocence on the accusations hurled against us. We were unjustly
imprisoned and had it not for them, we could still be still in jail,”
Fe Muriel Obejas who lost her husband on the fateful incident said.
The accused extended
their thanks to the pro bono lawyers of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) Leyte Chapter, Legal Aid Committee headed by Atty.
Eli Laboga and Atty. Alberto Hidalgo. They were represented during
the hearings by defense counsels Atty. Federico Triste and Atty. Claro
The quest for justice
Federico Triste, one of the legal defense counsels from the legal aide
program of the IBP Leyte Chapter said that the quest for justice does
not end in the acquittal and the subsequent release of the accused.
“There is still
another case pending at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) which the same
named respondents face for Illegal Assembly… It is still going trial
on the merits,” he said in an interview by the local media.
A case of Illegal
Possession of High Powered Firearms docketed at the RTC was previously
dismissed by the court.
It was known that the
accused were just temporary out of detention by posting bail. The
bail bond were put up from cash and property lent by concerned
individuals who believed in the innocence of the said farmers.
“Tabang Palo” Campaign
through a campaign network called “Tabang Palo” (Help Palo) is still
calling on for assistance from everyone to help the victims seek for
justice, especially in the filing of counter-charges against the
“Again, we are
knocking at your generous hearts for help. We need your help in the
realization of our filing of the counter-charges against the military
men responsible for the unlawful and undemocratic attack. Lawyers from
the IBP informed to prepare money that will be used in the filing
(expenses for the necessary filing fees; mobility of witnesses to and
from the courts, lawyers and paralegals; procurement of papers; and
documentation expenses) and sustaining the case. It is in that regard
we are asking for assistance again,” an appeal-letter from Tabang Palo
“We do hope that with
your continued support, we will finally give justice for the victims
of the Palo Massacre”, it further said.
Samar to join OTOP
Visayas Fair 2006
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE (PIA
CATBALOGAN, Samar –
The municipalities of Daram, Marabut, Basey, Jiabong, Calbiga and the
City of Calbayog from Samar will join One Town One Product (OTOP)
Visayas Fair 2006 on November 22-23, 2006 at the SM Trade Halls, Cebu
This was bared by the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Samar, Officer-in-Charge Ruthelma Samonte to PIA, today.
The lady director
added that regions 6, 7 and 8 have pooled their resources together to
support the big trade fair.
Similarly, the six
LGUs of Samar have shown interest to showcase their OTOP and hopefully
gain significant sales and exposure in the event.
Based on a letter to
local chief executives of the participating LGUs, DTI Undersecretary
Carissa Cruz-Evangelista stated that OTOP Visayas Fair is a product
showcase and trade fair highlighting the OTOP Philippines Program, a
flagship project of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the LGUs as
its lead implementing arm.
It further mentioned
that OTOP’s aim is to strengthen countryside development by promoting
entrepreneurship and creating jobs. The letter further stated that no
less than PGMA will grace the event as a staunch advocate of Small and
Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the regions.
The trade fair also
aims to generate significant sales; train producers in dealing and
negotiating with local and foreign buyers and exporters and develop 5
new exporters from among the participants.
When asked if Daram’s
dried squid stands a chance as against
Cebu ’s products, Samonte said that all Samar OTOPs stand a
Samar OTOPs that will
join the trade fair besides Daram’s squid are the flourishing tourism
in Marabut; Tikog and Gifts and Toys Handicrafts (GTH) of Basey;
Mussels in Jiabong; Pili based products from Calbiga and Tinapa from
Calbayog City. Others SMEs who have also signified willingness to join
and sponsored by the Advocates for Philippine Trade Fair Inc. (APFTI)
are the Quiseo of Mayet’s food product from Gandara and Basey
Handicrafts from Basey, Samar.
Samar DTI OIC
expressed gratitude to the LCEs for responding to their call.
Meanwhile, DTI Regional Director Cynthia Nierras has allotted some
P120,000 for the activity and has also vowed to shoulder 50% of the
booth rental for all the participating SMEs in the whole region.
"Stop the killings
now!" marchers in Hong Kong demand
By Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
November 20, 2006
HONG KONG – Hundreds
of people on Sunday marched through
Hong Kong as part of an international day of action to demand that the killings of
human rights defenders and social activists in the
Philippines be ended
without delay, and the perpetrators of killings be brought to justice.
"Stop the killings
now!" cried over 400 persons who walked from the central district to
the Philippines consulate.
The marchers, from
religious, labour and human rights organizations based in Hong Kong,
including four major Filipino alliances, the Filipino Migrant Union,
Philippine Independent Church, Helpers of Islam (Filipinas), Thai
Regional Alliance, and the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers,
called on the Philippines government to stop denying the extent of the
killings and start doing something about them.
"If the government
spent as much time and effort to end the killings and investigate
those that have already occurred as it does in trying to deny
responsibility then many lives could already have been saved," Bruce
Van Voorhis of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a co-organiser
of the event, told the gathering.
carried banners and posters with the photographs of victims, including
Archbishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church, who
was stabbed to death at the start of October.
The hands of the
military and other state agencies could be clearly seen in the pattern
of killings, speakers said.
"Why is it that only
peasant and union leaders, human rights activists and others working
simply for the benefit of ordinary people are being murdered?" Rey
Asis of the Asian Students Association said.
"We are outraged that
not even one killing has been solved," Asis said.
Human rights groups
have put the number of killings in recent years at over 750; however,
police investigators and government officials in the Philippines have
consistently played down the scale of violence.
"It is normal to be
faced with denial and hostility when plainly stating that such
barbaric acts are going on in a society almost daily," Basil Fernando,
executive director of the AHRC, told the demonstrators.
"Some people, such as
the president in the
will have their eyes and ears closed for as long as possible, until
they are forced to open them," Fernando said.
"Shout louder and they
must hear, they must see," he urged.
"End the killings
now!" Fernando reiterated.
a human rights defender from
whose husband was abducted by the police in 2004, also addressed the
"We have the same kind
of injustices in
and I want to assure the people of the
that we share their experiences and their determination to fight,"
The marchers laid
flowers at the front of the photographs of victims before dispersing.
Later a delegation
from the march went to the consulate to present the findings of the
report on the killings of the Hong Kong Mission for Human Rights and
Peace in the Philippines.
The report is
available online at:
The mission's report,
which was prepared after an investigation in July, has had to be
updated due to the relentless killings that have occurred since.
The Hong Kong-based
AHRC has issued appeals on the killings of at least six persons and
attempted killing of three since the start of October alone.
campaign calling for an end to the killings has gained speed in recent
demanding an end to the killings has so far attracted almost 6000
signatories from all around the globe.
The petition can be
read and signed at
Borongan LGU, DTI
resolve abnormal fuel supply
By ALICE NICART with SAMMY CANDIDO (PIA Borongan)
Samar – “Let us help one another, support each other’s interests for
the benefit of all Boronganons.” Thus, said Mrs. Eleanor Alido, DTI
Provincial Chief here, in an urgent meeting, today, with Borongan
municipal officials and representatives of Petron, Shell and Caltex
Alido’s appeal was a
positive and gentle reaction to an “out of stock” notice posted
visibly by a gasoline station which caused apprehension among the
motorists and vehicle operators in town. It likewise, resulted in a
so-called chain reaction because motorists started swarming the two
other gasoline stations in town.
The abnormal situation
Thursday, prompted DTI to arrange for an urgent meeting Friday, with
the owners of gasoline stations in order to ease out the problem and
eventually help them address the situation, should the perceived
shortage of fuel supply becomes a serious reality.
The proactive DTI
officer stressed that one step to resolve a problem in gasoline supply
would be a municipal ordinance which will effect equal rationing of
the petroleum products. In the same light, she expressed hope that an
out of stock notice should no longer be posted as it would be
disheartening to know that so and so was penalized for an offense, the
Lady DTI officer jibed.
It must never occur,
Alido said, because RA 8180 so prescribes that any gasoline station
must maintain a certain level of inventory before their stock is
totally spent. It was learned later however, that the notice was
relatively inaccurate and people need not overly react so as to stand
up in a long queue to avail of fuel.
Mr. Sonny Uy of
Borongan Caltex admitted though, that they almost run out of stock due
to the abrupt increase of customers. However, the young manager
assured that the problem at hand was just an isolated case. Further,
he ascertained that the delivery of supply is underway and that normal
operations can be expected soon. He also called on the public not to
expect instant reduction of prices as soon as television networks
announce price rollbacks. The stations must wait for the official
order from the company supervisors who are stationed in Tacloban City.
With some steps being
considered by Borongan LGU, DTI and the three gasoline stations in
Borongan, the problem of abnormal supply will soon be in the dust bin.