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Eastern Visayas holds 1st Mariculture Park Congress

Squabbling Basey officials delay infrastructure projects

Gunmen killed noted anti-communist leader in Catbalogan

Murder raps filed versus the Lofrancos over Janine’s death

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

10 vie for UEP-Northern Samar presidency

By NENE A. MANZANARES (PIA Northern Samar)
February 2, 2007

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  At least ten highly qualified educators are vying for the presidency of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP), a state university located in Catarman, Northern Samar. A reliable source said that it will be a "war of the titans" as most of the presidential applicants are known personalities not only in the academe but also in communities outside of the province as well.

Of the ten "presidentiables"’ three are considered "outsiders" of the University of Eastern Philippines. These are Dr. Gorgonio Balleta of the San Isidro Agro Industrial School; Dr. Isagani Mendador, college dean of San Lorenzo de Ruiz; ad Dr. Aida Tobes, college president of the Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry of San Jorge Samar.

The seven "insiders" of UEP are Atty. Mar de Asis, dean of the College of Law; Dr. Manuel Basierto, dean of the Graduate School; Dr. Mindanilla Broto, vice-president for External Affairs; Dr. Rolando Delorino, vice-president for Administration; Dr. Norman Diaz, director of Research Services; Dr. Gregorio de la Rosa, former president of the Leyte Institute of Technology now Eastern Visayas State University; and Dr. Jaime Sanico, director of External Services.

On February 2, the ten presidential applicants will each give a presentation of their vision, mission and development direction of the university at the UEP Gymnasium. A public forum with the four sectors: faculty, students, non-teaching personnel and alumni associations will immediately follow after each presentation.

The University of Eastern Philippines started as an ordinary farm school and was first established as Catarman National High School in 1918. It was renamed Samar Institute of Technology in 1957 and finally converted as University of Eastern Philippines under Republic Act 4126.

Mandated to "primarily give technical and professional training, advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences and the arts", it also provides for "the promotion of scientific and technological researches".

Under the stewardship of its outgoing university president Dr. Pedro Destura, the university has now 31 graduate and 47 undergraduate curricular offerings among the 10 colleges and one school. It has a total of 325 faculty members with 100 more from UEP Laoang and UEP Catubig.

According to some sources, the new UEP president will be presented during the last board meeting to be presided by the outgoing university president in the early part of the month of February.





DENR 8 recovers 17,000 board-ft hot lumbers in Northern Samar

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 2, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The elements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8, together with the men of the 64th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Northern Samar, recovered on Saturday night about 17,000 board feet of hot lumber along the beaches of San Isidro and Balicuatro, Lavezares, Northern Samar.

DENR Director Alfredo Pascual, during the Harampang Ha PIA on Friday, informed that the hot lumbers which were already being tagged through small boats to a waiting ship looming in the horizon were in bunches, some 300, others five hundred.

When the unidentified people saw the operatives of DENR and the Army were already on the shorelines, they cut the tag lines and then escaped. The big boat also escaped while the hot lumbers are still under the custody of PENRO Ariel Macabare of Northern Samar.

Director Pascual who assumed as the Regional Executive Director of  DENR 8 only last December 15 said DENR is waiting for the claimants or owners of the hot lumber. Until now however, no one came out to claim ownership of the hot lumbers. After the reglamentary period expires, Director Pascual said that the lumber will be bidded.

He said that he will report this matter to the Central Office and the legal department will look into this matter.

He added that the general opinion, is that these hot lumbers are being brought to Masbate or in Bantayan, Cebu.

He said, that the main reason for timber pouching is poverty and this is the reason why the DENR has the community-based forest management program. Also, Director Pascual said, he is looking into strengthening the advocacy, information and education campaign on responsible forest management.

He added that these areas of San Isidro and Balicuatro has long been under surveillance even during the time of RED Sibbalucca. It is only now however, when an operation was made because of some information that shipment of hot lumbers will be done during the weekend.

Director Pascual called on the people to help DENR in the implementation of its programs which he said have been doubled during the time of Secretary Angelo Reyes.





DOH upgrades government hospitals in the region for P48M

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 1, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  In line with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s thrust of providing the people with the best health services right near their respective locations, the Department of Health Eastern Visayas through the leadership of Director Benita Pastor, has recommended the upgrading of thirteen (13) hospitals in the Region.

Also included in the priority programs of the President is the upgrading of government hospitals of the primary care to secondary care or from secondary care to tertiary care, in order to be able to accommodate nursing students by serving as Base Hospital or for Nursing Affiliation.

Director Pastor said that these thirteen hospitals were first evaluated by the Department of Health Regional Office, then request was submitted to the National Center for Health Facility Development for its budgetary and finalization of the upgrading plan.

Later, these requests were forwarded to the Department of Budget and Management Central Office for approval.

Director Pastor said that at present, the Region has received Sub Allotment Advice for the upgrading of the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital in the amount of P22.357 million, Northern Samar Provincial Hospital in the amount of P13.527 million and Western Leyte Provincial Hospital in the amount of P12.156 million.

Based on this released allotment, a Memorandum of Agreement shall be executed by the DOH Eastern Visayas and the recipient hospital. Just this month of February, Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone together with Director Pastor signed a memorandum of agreement regarding this project.

Director Pastor said that the amount of P22.357 million for the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital will be used for maintenance overhead operation expenses in the amount of P4,157,000; equipment outlay in the amount of P1,050,000 and for infrastructure in the amount of P17,150,000.00.

Of the total amount of P13.527 million which is allotted for the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, P8,987,000 is for maintenance, P1,040,000 is for equipment outlay and P3,500,000 is for infrastructure.

For the Western Leyte Provincial Hospital, of the total amount allotted, P7,150,000 is for MOOE, P3,950 is for equipment outlay and P1,056,000 is for infrastructure.





Naval town gets P59 million funding for port development

February 1, 2007

NAVAL, Biliran  –  The municipality of Naval will soon have a modern seaport that would cater to the demands of modern shipping after the office of Congressman Gerardo Espina, Jr. released funds of P59 million for the development of the port of Naval.

This was bared by Congressman  Espina in a cellphone interview who said that part of the entire package to improve the port of Naval is the construction of an air-conditioned passenger terminal that can accommodate some 200 people and a modern warehouse where cargoes are stored before they are loaded by the carrying vessel to other places outside Naval port or in the case of incoming cargoes, before they are claimed by their owners.

He added that the general rehabilitation of the surface of the pier and the portion down under to include scouring of the seabed so that the area within the seaport gets deeper enough to allow big vessels to dock even during low tides.

Furthermore, he said that the ramp of the pier will also be developed into a roll-on-roll-off (RORO) port to allow RORO vessels to dock, thus making the loading and unloading of cargoes easier.

The project, Congressman Espina said, will not only improve the physical appearance of the seaport of Naval but it also offers job opportunities for the Biliranons saying that he will make a special request to the winning bidder who will work on the development of the port to get workers from Naval town and in other parts of Biliran province especially those skilled workers in this nature of work who have no jobs at present.

The bidding of the project will be done on February 7 this year and hopefully, he said, the work will commence early March this year.

With the much improved seaport of Naval, the capital town of the province of Biliran, commerce and trade in the province will even be more brisk, he said.

The port development project of Naval town is in line with the priority infrastructure projects of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Biliran province being part of the Visayas super region on tourism.

Meanwhile, Congressman Gerardo Espina, Jr. informed that additional funding of P8 million was released from his office for the completion of the construction of the Naval Gymnasium located along P. Inocentes Sreet in Naval, Biliran.  The work, he said, will start next week.

The gymnasium, which is the venue where socio-cultural activities and public functions are held can accommodate some 3,000 people.





Family of slain Daram mayor dismisses claims of NPA

January 30, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The family of the late Daram Mayor Benito Astorga, who was gunned down by two still unidentified suspects last Thursday in an island barangay of his municipality, dismissed claims of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) owning responsibility of the mayor’s killing. [insight]

In a press statement released Monday, Severa Astorga-Buquid, Astorga’s sister called the statement of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command of the NPA as “a mere fabrication designed by the political opponents of the late mayor to mislead the people” from knowing as to who the perpetrators really are.

Astorga-Buquid cited SSupt. Asdali Idja Abah’s earlier statement in an interview over a national television saying that the Arnulfo Ortiz Command does not operate in the said island municipality hence the statement may have been a fabrication.

In the same interview, Supt. Abah cited several inconsistencies in the statement like the killing of Municipal Comelec Officer Willy Gulane, which happened in 2002 and not in 2001 as the NPA claimed, implicating Mayor Astorga.

The police provincial chief informed that that was contrary to the testimony they got from one of the killers, who turned out to be a witness on the case, clearing the mayor of criminal liability.

The NPA’s claim that Mayor Astorga maintained some 180 CAFGUs was also false since there are only a little over 30 CAFGUs fielded in the area and these are under the supervision of the Army’s 52nd Infantry Battalion.

The late mayor’s family, however, expressed confidence that the police authorities will be able to solve the case and give justice to Astorga’s killing.

As of this writing, the police have already produced a cartographic sketch of the suspects based on the descriptions of witnesses who saw the incident.

The prevailing public perception here reflects that this may have been the start of a series of election-related violence in the province resulting from intense political rivalries.

This prompted the Comelec officials here to initiate moves to place Samar under Comelec control to preempt further election-related violence.





Jiabong barangay official shot to death by NPA death squad

January 30, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  To him the closing of the windows of his sari-sari store may not be a foreshadowing but it turned out so.

The barangay chairman of an interior village of Jiabong town in Samar was shot dead early evening Thursday (January 25) by four armed men in his own house, a police report said.

According to the report, Brgy. Chairman Vedasto Gabiana of Dogongan, Jiabong, Samar was about to close the windows of his sari-sari store in Brgy. Calapi, where he temporarily reside, at around 7:00 p.m. Thursday when one of the four unidentified suspects, believed to be members of an NPA Death Squad, fired at him.

Gabiana sustained a gunshot wound in his forehead which resulted to his instantaneous death. The police recovered from the scene an empty shell of cal. 9mm. pistol.

The suspects immediately fled towards Brgy. Barayong, Motiong town right after the incident.

Intelligence reports said that Gabiana was one of the barangay captains who refused to give revolutionary tax to the communist insurgents.

He is the third barangay official who has been killed by the NPA this year. Earlier this month two barangay officials in Samar, one in San Jose de Buan and one in Villareal, were reportedly liquidated by NPA Death Squads.

Late last year, a barangay chairman of Brgy. Casapa in Jiabong was shot to death in front of his wife while he was on his way home from his farm. He was said to have supported the military’s anti-insurgency campaign.





RDC social development team tackles commercialization of body parts

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 30, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The commercialization of body parts is among the issues which the Social Development Committee of the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council, will tackle during its first meeting for 2007.

The Committee which is chaired by Biliran Governor Rogelio Espina informed that the meeting will be held at the RDC Conference Room, NEDA Regional Office at the Government Center on February 1, 2007 at 1:30 in the afternoon.

The commercialization of body parts will be discussed by Dr. Eduardo V. Pedrosa of the Department of Health Regional Office 8. This issue was touched during the latest meeting of the Committee and as a result, DOH was requested to gather more information and discuss the commercialization of body parts in the next SDC meeting.

The committee was alerted by one of its members about the news that included in medical tourism is the sale of body parts, especially kidneys, at reduced prices. This, the member said is not right because body parts are beyond the commerce of men.

Assistant Regional Director Adelaida Aspirin of the Department of Health in Region 8 said that medical tourism is indeed under the Department of Health but that the selling of body parts by donors has long been in existence before medical tourism was conceived. She assured the body that this is already being addressed by the Department of Health.

Other issues which the Committee will tackle during its first meeting for the year 2007 are the financial and operational report on SALAG which is the haven for drug addicts, the issue of strengthening the implementation of basic education in the Visayas and the proposed SDC work program for the year 2007.

The Committee will also look back at its accomplishments in the year 2006 and will discuss the procedure in the conduct of Social Development Committee meetings.

Governor Espina calls on the members of the Committee to attend the meeting and continue to help pursue social development issues in line with the Administration’s thrust to make the gains of the economic reforms flow down to the Filipino people in terms of more effective, efficient and more easy access to social services, more better-paying job opportunities, more food in every family’s table and more opportunities to get the best possible education.





CPP-NPA Arnulfo Ortiz Command admits killing Daram mayor

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 29, 2007

Electronic copy of the alleged Press Statement coming from the Arnulfo Ortiz Command of the CPP-NPA admitting the killing of Daram mayor Benito Astorga.

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The Arnulfo Ortiz Command of the New People’s Army operating in the province of Samar, admitted to the January 25 killing of Mayor Benito Astorga of the island municipality of Daram in the province of Samar.

Ka Vicente Magbuhat of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command, in a press statement said that Mayor Astorga was sentenced by the Kangaroo court of the CPP-NPA in the area because of crimes to humanity, the movement and the people.

He cited eleven “crimes” purportedly committed by the late Mayor which prompted the Movement to sentence him with the death penalty.

Foremost to Mayor Astorga’s offenses, Ka Vicente Magbuhat alleged, was the late Mayor’s all out support to the military, his strong focus to repel the movement by creating the Barangay Information Network and his maintenance of 180 CAFGU members.

Also included in the eleven crimes allegedly committed by the late Mayor is his rejection of the entry in his municipality of Non-government organizations and other progressive groups, his being the brains in the killing of CPP-NPA members in 2003 and in the killing of two other individuals, among others.

Police reports stated that Mayor Benito Bucatcat Astorga was shot to death while attending a benefit dance for the village fiesta at 2:00 o’clock in the morning of January 25 at Barangay Birawan, Daram, Samar.

General Eliseo dela Paz of the Philippine National Police Region 8 said that Mayor Astorga sustained five gunshot wounds from a caliber .45 pistol. He was brought via motorboat to Tacloban but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the St. Paul’s Hospital in Tacloban City.

Mayor Astorga’s death is the third in the series of killings this month in the province of Samar.

Meanwhile, a fourth victim, a barangay chairman of Jiabong, Samar was shot death at 7:00 o’clock in the evening of January 25, 2007.



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