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Samar’s No. 1 Most Wanted fell

Army officer says San Jorge mayor is misinformed

802nd IB commander determined to destroy the remnants of NPA in Leyte island

Town dad seeks relief of top army officers in their locality

Taiwanese donor sends another P1.8M for Guinsaugon scholars

Calbayog makes it as one of 15 Dream Cities of RP

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


Biggest fire to hit Tacloban City razes five urban poor communities; more than 2,000 families rendered homeless

September 15, 2006

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  At about 1:30 o'clock in the hot afternoon of September 12, 2006, a big fire razed five (5) communities in Tacloban City in Leyte (capital of Eastern Visayas). The fire was said to have started from the chapel of the Rizalistas in between Brgy. 37 Reclamation Area and Brgy. 36 Sabang District, which was adjacent to the Tacloban New Bus Terminal and the Panalaron Bay.

Villagers who were trapped in the fire waded through the waters of the bay. Task Force San Pedro Bay, a local group of Bantay Dagat enforcers, using two (2) patrol boats rescued residents from the sea and transported them to safer grounds.

The Tacloban City Fire Department chief Arsenio Tabarranza said they received the fire call at about 2:05 P.M. and declared the fire controlled by 5:07 P.M., after more than three hours. Chief Tabarranza pointed out the following factors: a) light materials, b) absence of fire hydrants near the incident area and c) inaccessibility of the area to the fire fighters, for the three-hour disaster.

Local radio station Diwa reported that in almost twenty (20) minutes, the conflagration ate most of Brgy. 37. The residents complained of the slow response from the local fire department.

The City Fire Department is still to determine the extent of the damage. Initially, they pegged the damages to more than 13 million pesos of properties, livelihood and public infrastructure. As of 4:00 P.M. of September 14, the total damage was assessed to be Php 30,076,000.00 by the bureau of fire.

Former newscaster Lulu Palencia testified that this has been the biggest fire to hit the city since the 1962 incident where three (3) city blocks were burned down.

The victims were temporarily housed at the Tacloban New Bus Terminal for the night where the city government erected four (4) tents to serve as temporary shelter. The local chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and Tacloban City Social Welfare and Development Office were reported to have immediately attended the food needs of the victims.

On September 13, 2005, the residents of Brgy. 37 went back to their barangay and gathered in the multi-purpose gym, the only structure which was not totally burnt out. Some of the victims were accommodated at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and received used clothing from concerned employees of PPA. Other victims are scattered in various parts of the area in makeshift shelters. Others slept in the sidewalks with nothing above their heads.

A victim identified as Gina Dapula, lamented that they were not able to salvage any of their belongings as the fire scattered fast. The residents tried hard to put off the blaze but they could not do otherwise.  Firemen were prevented by the narrow passages to get directly to the burning houses.

Initial reports put the count of the affected villagers as the following:

Name of Community

Number of Affected Households

Number of Affected Individuals

Brgy. 36 Sabang (Totally hit)

437 HH (Radio Diwa data)


Brgy. 37 Seawall/Reclamation Area
(Totally hit)

711 families (DSWD data) from 500+ houses

1,000+ (Radio Diwa data)

Brgy. 65 Paseo de Legazpi
(Only a portion of the barangay)

Still Undetermined


Brgy. 66 Anibong

200 families from 200 houses (BFP Data)


Brgy. 66-A Anibong

122 families from 70 houses (BFP Data)


The government agencies were not able to produce the census of the population in these barangays in order to determine the actual number of affected individuals and families. Mostly, these figures are partial/preliminary and are only from estimates of what the barangay officials were able to recall. Records were burned along with the houses and properties. The networks' volunteers are now reconstructing the list of residents affected by the tragedy.

The city council had already passed a resolution declaring the whole affected areas under the "state of calamity'.

Only one resident was seriously injured from the disaster. She was identified as Mrs. Milagros Lacaba who sustained second-degree burns on her arms. She was rushed to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) for medication. Paramedics observed and treated minor injuries - puncture nail wounds and from broken glass, as most of the victims scurried for safety.  Dr. Jaime Opinion of the city health office said that they were able to document and administer first aid to more than 200 individuals who were slightly burned and bruised during the tragedy.

From interviews of the residents, it was known that fires are frequent occurrences in these urban poor communities. In fact, their houses (in Brgy. Sabang) were also burned down in the year 2005 and (in Anibong) early this year.

Most of the affected residents belong to urban poor groups like " Kusog han Brgy. 37 (Force of Village 37)", Kapunungan han mga Trabahador ngan Hornal (KATRABAHO or Organization of Workers and Stevedores), Kapunungan han Gudti nga Magtirinda (KAGUMA or Organization of Small Vendors) Alyansa han Gudti nga Magtirinda ha Tacloban (AGHATA or Alliance of Tacloban Small Vendors), and Tacloban Port Area Integrated Labor Union (TAPAILU). These five (5) organizations are under the umbrella of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY or Confederation of Urban Poor Communities) whose members are concentrated in Brgys. 36 and 37. Most residents of Brgy. 66 and 66-A are organized under Bayan Muna Party-List.

These groups have long been calling on the city government headed by Mayor Alfredo "Bejo" Romualdez for assistance especially with regards to decent urban housing and basic social services.   These areas were also perennially threatened by demolitions, fire, epidemics and other calamities. A government-aided decent housing program could have eliminated the fire and other hazards to these villagers.





Peace and development assembly held in Eastern Samar

September 14, 2006

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar – The Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPaD) during its 7th assembly here, has deliberated some current issues concerning the present situation on peace, development and the environment in the respective provinces of the Samar Island.

Among those significant issues discussed, which subsequently put into a concrete action, was the proposed petition to be submitted to the concerned agency expressing its strong opposition to the operation of the mining operations in Homonhon and Manicani Islands in Guiuan, and Paranas and San Jose de Buan in Western Samar.

Eastern Samar Provincial Board Member Cerilo Balagapo, Jr. said that even his province would support a resolution disallowing mining companies in Western Samar to operate as it would adversely affect the environment of his province. “If mining operations in Paranas and San Jose de Buan will push through, the Oras and Dolores rivers will also die,” Balagapo commented citing the eventual death of Olot river that goes down to Taft from Bagacay where once mining took place.

On the other hand, SIPPaD also asked the Philippine National Police of this province on developments of the investigations on the extra-judicial killings. The Provincial Police Office, represented by Police Superintendent Fraco Simborio, newly designated assistant provincial director, said that there no development of the cases yet. “We are holding weekly ‘case conference’ relative to the murder cases which remain unsolved,” says Simborio.

Simborio, instead accentuated to the body that in solving criminality such as the series of killings of militant leaders is not the sole responsibility of the police but needs the cooperation of the community and other responsible agencies.

Meanwhile, Fr. Agustin Opalalic, Jr., at the start of the forum, relayed to the participants that SIPPaD is a unification movement that started with a few a year ago and has grown into large interest group composed of the church, government and civil societies in the whole Samar Island. While it started as an advocacy group on environmental issues, after several meetings, the forum already tackled issues on peace and governance.

The latest meeting was attended by Archbishop Jose Palma of Calbayog Diocese, Bishop Emmanuel Trance of Catarman Diocese, Bishop Medroso of Borongan Diocese and Vice Governor Leander Geli of Eastern Samar. Among those who participated are some local government officials and representatives from various non-government organizations and media.





Samar Mussel Congress set

September 14, 2006

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) Samar Provincial Office in its effort to intensify the promotion of mussels to local and foreign markets and to address the problems of the mussel industry has proposed a Mussel Congress sometime next month.

The congress plans to assemble those directly and indirectly involved in the mussel industry to include small mussel farmers so that they can discuss ways to have a more focused and synchronized activities for the development of the mussel industry.

Another objective eyed by DTI and partners is to organize the Samar Provincial Mussel Industry Association.

In a talk with DTI Provincial Director Ruth Thelma Samonte, the lady executive told PIA that the mussel industry is one of the productive sub-sectors in the Samar fishing industry and provides an ample source of livelihood opportunities of Samar. It is also considered the second biggest mussel producer in the country next to Cavite.

With the big potential of this industry in generating income and employment in Samar, mussel industry was enrolled as the Provincial One-Town-One Product (OTOP) and eventually chosen as the region’s Model OTOP. This was intensified with the establishment of a processing plant in Jiabong, Samar, Samonte explained.

In the proposal submitted to DTI Regional Office 8, the rationale stated that the mussel industry is one of the productive sub-sectors in the fishing industry, currently contributing to the Philippine Fisheries production and estimated production volume of 220,000 MT at P800 M at a very conservative estimate. Fish and other marine products provide about 50%-75% of the protein requirements for Filipinos. The aqua culture sector contributed about 35% of the various fisheries products produced in the Philippines and the mussel industry contributed 1 to 2% of the total aqua culture production.

The mussel industry can provide ample source of livelihood opportunities for the people of Samar. Based on the latest industry figures, mussel culture provide a projected gross and income of about P14 M based on an annual projected mussel production capacity of nearly 4,700 MT. At present, there are about 320 households directly engaged in mussel farming in the municipalities of Jiabong, Villareal, Tarangnan, Catbalogan and Daram. The existing markets for fresh mussels are Manila, Cebu, Bicol, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao, the proposal further stated.

Samuel Abayan, Chairman of the Coastal Fishermen Producers Cooperative in Brgy. Pangdan, Catbalogan who attended the pre-congress hoped that indeed most of their concerns specifically the freshness of their product tahong will be addressed in the Mussel Congress.





Top NPA leader killed

September 13, 2006

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  – After last month’s discovery of the CPP/NPA/NDF’s “mass grave” at Inopacan, Leyte the government’s anti-insurgency campaign once again gained ground when operating troops from Alpha Company, 19IB, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army stationed at Brgy Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte encountered more or less thirty (30) communist terrorists on September 11, 2006 at 11 in the morning.

The firefight transpired at Sitio Taghoy, Brgy Libertad, Kananga, Leyte when patrolling elements under 2Lts Benedicto and Aranez chanced upon the group of communist terrorists who were caught unaware by the 8ID troopers. The encounter lasted for about 30 minutes after which the CT’s fled towards different directions. The group left behind the remains of Bebiano Rentillosa alias Elmo who was later on identified as the Secretary of the Northern Leyte Front of the CPP/NPA. Recovered along with terrorist leader’s remains were voluminous subversive documents, a compact disc and one caliber 45 pistol.

The government troops maintained its momentum and conducted pursuit operations placing pressure on the CT’s who lost their leader and scampered in various directions. Witnesses revealed that they also saw wounded CT’s being carried by their fleeing comrades.

The successful encounter was the result of the cooperation of the local populace who provided timely and accurate information regarding the whereabouts of the CT’s. This attests that civilians in the area are now enlightened about the self-serving motives and selfish interests of the CPP/NPA/NDF.

Major General Rodrigo F. Maclang AFP, the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division, PA, commended the troops operating troops of 19IB under LtCol. Lope Dagoy for the successful operation that has further weakened the ailing Northern Leyte Front. Meanwhile, LtCol. Dagoy thanked the residents of the area for their full cooperation to eradicate the communist menace who have been victimizing innocent civilians. He further encouraged the populace to continue supporting the government’s anti-insurgency campaign against the communist terrorists to finally bring peace and progress in the infested areas of the province.





Philippines at serious risk from illegal GMO rice contamination

By GREENPEACE Southeast Asia
September 13, 2006

MANILA, Philippines  – The Philippines is at serious risk from illegal GE (genetically-engineered) rice contamination as the international scandal around genetically-manipulated rice varieties which have not been commercially approved for human consumption grows bigger, Greenpeace warned on Tuesday in a press briefing in Quezon City.

Recent Greenpeace tests reveal that illegal GE rice from the US has contaminated products on supermarket shelves in Germany. The results came a week after an earlier round of tests proved that illegal GE rice from China, which poses a potential health risk, was found present in rice products on European shelves. Greenpeace International has notified authorities that illegal GE rice poses health and environmental risks and called upon governments to take immediate action to protect consumers.

“The illegal GE rice scandal, however, may not be limited to Europe. In Southeast Asia rice is the staple diet. The Philippines is among the countries most at risk because we import rice and rice products from both the US and China,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

“Greenpeace is therefore calling on the government to protect Filipino consumers by implementing strong measures to nip in the bud what may turn out to be a similar case of serious contamination in our country. These measures should include testing of rice and rice products, the immediate recall of those found positive for contamination, and demanding GE free certification for food from countries that grow and produce GE crops,” Ocampo added.

Many US and Chinese rice products which are available in Philippine markets and supermarket shelves may be affected by contamination. These products can range from rice noodles to breakfast cereals to baby food. The country also imports sacks of rice from US and China, and receives several tons of US surplus rice regularly under a food aid program, PL-480.

The recent rice contamination in China began with field trials of GE rice not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting concerns over its safety. The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein (Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergic-like reactions in mice. Three independent scientists with expertise in the field of GE and health have issued a statement backing the health concerns raised by Greenpeace International. Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 showed that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers. Processed rice products found in supermarkets in France, UK and Germany were revealed last week to have been contaminated with China’s illegal GE rice.

New test results by an independent laboratory released in a statement on Monday by Greenpeace Germany have also confirmed the presence of Bayer's Liberty Link rice in US parboiled long grain rice sold in a major German supermarket chain which has 700 outlets throughout France. Bayer’s LL GE rice is not approved for food or cultivation anywhere in the world except within the United States and Canada. In addition, an experimental variety of LL GE rice, LL601, was found recently to be contaminating US rice.

“These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses. Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is risky to their health and the environment,” said Dr. Janet Cotter from Greenpeace International’s Science Unit. “Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place and stop any plans to commercialize GE rice.”

Ocampo concluded: “The Philippines, which is signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety should moreover use the precautionary principle by not importing GMO rice and rice products. The country should also stop planting GMO rice, even in experimental plots, so that contamination is halted at all levels.”

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.


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