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Gov. Daza distributes relief goods to Northern Samar flood victims

Northern Samar flood waters subsided, evacuees back home, need food – Gov. Daza

LNU student qualifies for Global Xchange Program

UNICEF equips PNP with investigation skills on crimes involving women and children

Public warned on fake PNP checks

Two died, one injured 274 families homeless as Typhoon Seniang hit Biliran province

Southern Leyte sends Search and Rescue Team to Albay

8ID closes NCO Course, opens Platoon Leader’s Course

National journalists visit Southern Leyte

LWUA to construct P66-M water system in Calico-an Island Resort

Murder raps filed versus the Lofrancos over Janine’s death

January 10, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  After a month of waiting for witnesses to come out to tell their stories behind the burning of the Lester Lace grocery store last November 14, 2006, where a charred body of a 14-year old girl Candice Janine Ong Paulin was found, finally about ten witnesses executed their respective affidavits to support the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) recommendation to prosecute the owners of the subject grocery store with the charges of murder.

Last December 7, with a number of placards, the Justice for Janine funeral march was attended by thousands of supporters seeking justice for the mysterious death of a Lester Lace fire victim, 2nd year high school student Candice Janine Ong Paulin.

Named as respondents of the case were Dr. Leo Lofranco and Mrs. Grace Lofranco, both owners of the Lester Lace grocery store here and included in the charge sheet is a certain Jericson Tagapan of Brgy. Maulong of this town, the security guard on-duty during the time the store was burned which is being alleged as the one who helped the Lofranco couple in disposing of the victim’s body.

Mary Jean Paulin, mother of “Janine” disclosed that the CIDG here thru P/Insp. Fernando M. Ferrer, finally issued them a transmittal letter to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office to conduct a preliminary investigation on the minor’s death which was discovered only on the following day of the fire incident. The charges were filed on December 29, exactly 45 days after Janine’s death.

The CIDG recommendation was based on the agency’s own investigation of the incident which was supplemented by the accounts of the witnesses and the 2 autopsy reports conducted by at least two medico-legal doctors from Catbalogan and the PNP Crime Laboratory.

CIDG chief P/Insp. Ferrer’s told in his affidavit, that the underlying circumstances pointing to the apparent presence of Janine inside the burning grocery store whose access to the key resides solely to its owners and the complementing results of the autopsy reports saying that the victim died about 3 hours before the fire and the accounts of the witnesses stipulating allegedly that Janine was with the owners of the store in an apparent commotion few hours before the incident, are leading conditions for anybody to suspect an obvious foul play over the girl’s death.

“We know how rich the Lofranco’s are, but we will not stop our fight to seek justice for our daughter, we believe in the integrity of our courts here and I know that Janine is just out there looking at us but she’s crying for justice”, Mary Jean Paulin stressed.

This writer gathered that based on the autopsy report made by Dr. Felino C. Gualdrapa, a Physician from the Samar Provincial Hospital here, the victim accordingly did not die of the fire.

“I found out that the cause of death was due to asphyxiation by suffocation or choking to stop passage of air from the nose and mouth, if she died due to the fire, her cause of death should have been carbon monoxide poisoning which is impossible because the autopsy revealed no traces of carbon in her lungs. The victim was already dead for not less than three hours before she was burned”, Dr. Gualdrapa revealed in his affidavit.

These findings of Dr. Gualdrapa was seconded by the PNP Crime Laboratory medico-legal Dr. Angel Cordero, who conducted a separate autopsy on the charred body of the fire victim stressing that the cause of death is cardio respiratory arrest due to shock due to traumatic asphyxia and external application of stimulus.

“Because of these circumstances, we are 100 percent sure that our daughter was killed, and the culprit should be put in jail”, Mary Jean stressed.

Earlier, during the organization of the “Justice of Janine” movement, it wasn’t clear yet as to who will be the respondents of the murder raps, especially when the Lofrancos issued a radio statement denying their involvement in the fire incident and more over their acquaintance with the fire victim.

“But we likewise need answers and we are just as interested as everyone else in unraveling the real circumstances of the incident”, Dr. Lofranco told in his press statement.





One dead body recovered, couple still buried presumed dead in Southern Leyte mudslide

By ERNA GORNE (PIA Southern Leyte)
January 10, 2007

MAASIN, Southern Leyte  –  Retrieval efforts are still on going for the couple Emelio Cadavos, 52 and Lilia Cadavos, 54, who are presumed to be dead as they were last seen alive at their house before mudslide hit two houses at about 4:45 in the afternoon Monday at Barangay Tampong, Sogod, Southern Leyte, SPO3 Remegio D. Talisic , Sogod PNP Police Chief reported.

The Philippine Army 43rd Infantry Battalion based in Sogod and led by Lt. Col. Mario Lacurom, immediately responded with rescue operations and recovered the bodies of Julian Cawaling, 79 and Mercedes Cawaling, 86 but the later was pronounced dead on arrival at Sogod Emergency Hospital , while the latter, Julian Cawaling is undergoing treatment.

The house of the Cadavos family was totally buried while the house where the Cawalings reside was partially covered with mud and water.

According to PNP, the upper portion of the said barangay has not been considered as among the high risk areas in the province as identified by the Mines and Geo Sciences Bureau in their high risk mapping and assessment study throughout the province.

However, the mudslide victims were said to have been informed by their friends that there are cracks signs at the portion of the mountain near where they were located, SPO3 Talisic added.

Meanwhile, Agas-Agas road section has been closed to traffic by the DPWH as the area has been very precarious and prone to landslide every time heavy rains occur, DPWH source reported.





EVRMC Ophthalmologists conduct Sagip-Mata in Samar

January 9, 2007

Samar Provincial Hospital photo
The newly renovated Samar Provincial Hospital

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) ophthalmologists will be conducting Sagip-Mata (Cataract Operation) in Catbalogan, Samar on January 16-20, 2007.

Eye doctors from EVRMC and the Samar Provincial Hospital (SPH) will be treating patients from Samar free of charge, according to the SPH Chief Dr. Rodulf Mabulay in an interview with PIA.

Mabulay said that if a patient has to pay, the amount would cost some P30,000.00; but if a Samarnon wish to be treated, he will get it free and be given also free medicines. He cites Governor Mila Tan as the sponsor. These early, screening operations are being conducted at the SPH and at the Calbayog District Hospital, he added. But the real cataract operations will be done at SPH where facilities are in place.

Come February 7-12, 2007, another Medical-Surgical Mission will be held in Catbalogan still, this time with the Philippines Medical Association of New York and New Jersey as sponsors through the efforts of Governor Tan.

Well known physician, Dr. Alfredo Donaire whose ancestors hail from Catbalogan, Samar will be bringing his team of Fil-Am doctors for the mission.

When asked whether the constant medical and dental missions are Governor Tan’s campaign strategy, the good doctor just said, "If it will help our poor fellow Samarnons, why not?"

Dr. Mabulay said that the team of doctors does not limit the number of patients. He added that they are prepared with the necessary medicines for many patients.

A series of dental and medical missions have been conducted in the province. As of press time, a Dental Mission is going on at the Imelda Park (near Capitol). Patients are less on week days but swarm on Saturdays and Sundays. Announcers there in a public address said that the dental mission will continue until January 13, 2007.





Typhoon in Eastern Visayas destroys P873.4M worth of properties in 2006

January 9, 2007

TACLOBAN City, Leyte  –  Among the disasters that hit Eastern Visayas in 2006, typhoon recorded the biggest destruction in properties at P873.4 million which is 10 times higher than its damage of P87.7M in 2005. This was bared by Evangeline Paran, regional head of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

NSCB fact sheet showed that Region 8 recorded 36 deaths and missing persons from the two typhoon incidences in 2006. Leyte province recorded the highest deaths and missing persons at 11 while Samar recorded 9. Both the provinces of Biliran and Eastern Samar recorded 8 deaths and missing persons while Southern Leyte and Northern Samar have no record of casualties.

Among the provinces regionwide, typhoon devastated the most in Leyte with damage to properties at P357.6 million, six times higher than its destruction of P56.7 million in 2005. This was followed by the provinces of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, and Samar with property damage worth P153.9M, P145.2M, P97.7M, and P96.8M, respectively. On the other hand, Southern Leyte recorded the least damage at P22.2 million.

Paran informed that a Technical Working Group on Disaster Statistics chaired by the Office of Civil Defense was organized last November 30, 2006 tasked to come up with a Disaster Management Indicator System for Eastern Visayas to mitigate the effects of disasters in the region.





Bishop Abarquez is new bishop of Calbayog

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 8, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Pope Benedict XVI appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Calbayog, Bishop Isabelo Caiban Abarquez, Titular Bishop of Talaptula and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Palo.

This was officially announced by Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Palo in a gathering of representatives of the priests, clergy, religious and lay people, at exactly 7:00 o'clock in the evening of January 6 in Calbayog City. Prior to his appointment as the Archdiocese of Palo, Archbishop Palma was the Bishop of Calbayog and he remains as the Apostolic Administrator until the appointment of the new Bishop.

Archbishop Palma said that Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino, Fr. Frisco Cajes, OFM, president of the Christ the King College, Ms. Ignacia Cui and other commission members, were among those who were happy to hear the good news.

Archbishop Palma said that the parishioners in the Diocese of Calbayog must thank the Lord for giving them a permanent pastor and they must pray that Bishop Abarquez will be given the grace and the strength to fulfill his servant leadership in the Diocese of Calbayog.

Although the Vatican webpage carried the announcement that the appointment was done January 5, 7:00 o'clock in the evening Manila time or 12:00 o'clock noon, Vatican time, Archbishop Palma said that the instruction given to him by the Papal Nuncio is for him to announce the appointment at 7:00 o'clock in the evening of January 6.

Archbishop Palma said that he will meet with Bishop Abarquez to confer with him regarding the installation date and other arrangements. He also intimated that the preparations for the Synod of the Diocese of Calbayog is ongoing but it will be the new Bishop already who will convoke the Synod.

Bishop Abarquez, who is now in Cebu, acknowledged the congratulatory text messages sent to him. Bishop Abarquez asked for prayers of the faithful so that he will be able to perform God's will in leading the people of God in the Diocese of Calbayog.

A priest for nearly 20 years and a bishop for 4 years, Bishop Isabelo Abarquez was born in Panlaan, Dumanjug of the Archdiocese of Cebu on July 8, 1956. He studied at Pope John XXIII Minor Seminary for pre-college studies. He took his philosophy course at the San Carlos Seminary College and finally at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos for his theologate. All of these institutions of priestly formation are in Cebu City.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Cebu on June 23, 1987. He was at first appointed professor, then Spiritual Director of the San Carlos Seminary-College. He would later on assume the office of Rector of the said college seminary.

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu and Titular Bishop of Talaptula on December 27, 2002. His episcopal consecration took place on February 18, 2003 at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Bishop Abarquez was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Palo on June 19, 2004. He was first assigned parish priest of Sts. Peter and Paul in Ormoc City and finally, the pastor of Sto. Nino Church.

At the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Abarquez is a member of two episcopal commissions: the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education and  the Mixed Commission on Mutual Relations Between Bishops and Religious.

Bishop Abarquez is the tenth Bishop of the Diocese of Calbayog. The first bishop was the late Bishop Pablo Singzon who was appointed on April 12, 1910. The other bishops were the late Bishop Sofronio Hacbang, the late Bishop Michelle Acebedo, Bishop Manuel P. del Rosario who is now Bishop of Malolos, the late Cipriano V. Urgel, Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Pido Tancinco, the late Bishop Sincero Lucero, Bishop Emeritus Maximiano Tuazon Cruz, and Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma who is now the Archbishop of Palo.

Established on April 10, 1910, the Diocese of Calbayog comprises the civil province of Western Samar. It has a Catholic population of about 654,632 out of a total population of 689,087 or 95 percent of its population are Catholics, as gathered from the  Vatican Information Service. It belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Palo, Leyte, and is a suffragan of this archdiocese. It has a total number of 54 priests, 48 of who are diocesan priests and 6 are religious priests.



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