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P200 million-worth donations in Red Cross for displaced Saint Bernard folks - Sen. Gordon

PGMA K4K Program potable water system reaches Samar villages

Leyte hosts 51st BSP Annual National Meet

DILG turns-over new bridge to Southern Leyte government

Eastern Samar eyes on more tourism projects

Catbalogan officials receive hero’s welcome following approval of town’s cityhood bid

UN Rapporteur on arbitrary executions visits the Philippines

10 vie for UEP-Northern Samar presidency

Eastern Visayas holds 1st Mariculture Park Congress

Squabbling Basey officials delay infrastructure projects

NCAE should not be mandatory

By Alliance of Volunteer Educators
April 3, 2007

QUEZON CITY, Philippines  –  The Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE), the party-list organization for the education sector, is opposed to the reported plan of the Department of Education to make the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE) as a mandatory prerequisite for post-secondary education by school year 2009-2010.

Asked to comment on a published report attributed to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus who was quoted as saying that students should first hurdle the NCAE to prequalify for higher education, AVE party-list Rep. Eulogio “Amang” R, Magsaysay said the choice of what career path to take should be left to the discretion of the students.

“While the NCAE may be a good program to guide students in choosing the college courses that match their talents and abilities, they should be free to decide whether to pursue professional careers or technical/vocational education,” Magsaysay said, adding that since the youth have the right to equal access to education, they should also have the right to decide for them selves on their own course preferences.

The party-list solon suggested that DepEd should instead find ways and means of improving the quality of teaching techniques in schools for students to acquire better the knowledge imparted to them by their teachers.

At the same time Magsaysay reiterated an earlier appeal for higher education institutions to produce more skilled graduates to meet the growing demands of various industries for more technically qualified workers.





Army troopers hits NPA extortionists in Eastern Samar

March 30, 2007

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan, Samar  –  A real-time information thru text message, provided by residents of Brgy Maca-anga in Llorente town in Eastern Samar, proved to be the vital factor in the successful combat operations launched by the Army troopers from the 34th Infantry Battalion based in Quinapundan, Eastern Samar.

Acting on the said information, platoon-size troopers led by 1Lt Elbur Ocampo displaced from their camp and proceeded to the reported area where allegedly, a group of five (5) NPA terrorists were extorting foodstuffs from the frightened residents of Brgy Maca-anga.

At about 8:45 a.m. of March 30, 2007, said Army troopers chanced upon the group of armed NPA terrorists at vicinity of Brgy Maca-anga, Llorente, Eastern Samar and a brief firefight ensued. The NPA terrorists scampered away from different directions leaving behind them One (1) M-16 rifle with magazine and ammunitions, One (1) Rifle Grenade, One (1) Ammunition box loaded with assorted cartridges for M-14 and M-16 rifles, seven (7) kgs of rice and One (1) kg of dried fish.

An Army soldier was slightly wounded during the encounter and was immediately given first aid by the trained medical aidman of the platoon.

The encounter occurred a day after the NPA terrorists celebrated their anniversary which was highlighted by rampant summary killings of civilians and unarmed soldiers. Most prominent among these murdered civilians were Mayor Benito Astorga of Daram town and Brgy Cpt Bedasto Gabiana of Dogongan, Jiabong all of Samar. These treacherous killings show their desperation attempt to portray an image of strength but reality reveals that their strength is dwindling down. The very reason why they were no longer capable to conduct large-scale atrocities against the Army soldiers the way they have done in the past.

Maj. Gen. Armando L. Cunanan AFP immediately sent commendatory message to the elements of the 34IB involved in the strike operations. He praised the gallant troopers for their strict adherence to the established techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) that resulted to the success of the security operations. Maj. Gen. Cunanan likewise extended his profound gratitude to the people of Eastern Samar for their continuing support to the efforts of the Philippine Army and assured them of the Army’s deep commitment towards eradicating the menace of the society in order to achieve a lasting peace in the region conducive to total development.





Millions allotted for West Leyte Hospital upgrade

Press Release
Provincial Media Relations Center (PMRC-Leyte)
March 30, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Through a newly signed Memorandum of Agreement with the provincial government of Leyte, the Department of Health in the region has committed an amount of P12 million to upgrade the facilities of the West Leyte Hospital of Baybay, Leyte.

This as part of Gov. Carlos Jericho “Icot” Petilla’s effort to look for means of improving the medical facilities and services of the different hospitals under the provincial government that includes the West Leyte Hospital in Baybay town.

According to the governor, the province, under his administration is putting much effort in reducing the number of patients being catered to by hospitals based in the City of Tacloban.

Not only are the hospitals in this city get crowded by patients coming from the different towns in Leyte, the medical facilities are likewise wanting, which Gov. Petilla stressed are the problems that really need to be addressed.

Under the newly signed MOA, new infrastructures and equipments will be installed as well as additional needed supply of medicines will be purchased for the West Leyte Hospital.

With these new improvements, the hospital will subsequently be upgraded from a secondary hospital to a tertiary medical facility.

The MOA was recently forged at the Leyte Provincial Capitol with Dr. Minerva Molon, chief of the DOH Technical Division as representative of the health department and Gov. Petilla for the province of Leyte.

It can be recalled that Gov. Petilla has continuously poured in projects to the different hospitals and improvements of rural health units of the different municipalities of the province to decongest hospitals in the city.

Values formation among hospital members and staff were likewise successively conducted by the provincial government to renew and assess the commitment within the ranks of the province-run hospitals.

So far, the Provincial Health Office reports, these projects and undertakings under the leadership of Gov. Petilla has proven effective as positive performance was seen resulting to better services and better revenue among these hospitals under the province.





2 died in Samar road mishap

March 29, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  The driver might have done everything he could to avoid collision but it was too late.

Two people were killed after a Manila-bound Silverstar bus sideswiped a passenger jeepney at around 9:35 this morning at the Maharlika Highway near the vicinity of Brgy. New Mahayag, here at Samar’s capital.

The police identified the fatality as one Jerry B. Tuting, the driver of the passenger jeepney Marlon, and a 17 year old girl Jerlyn V. Alaga, who was scheduled to graduate tomorrow at the Silanga National High School.

Police reports said the Silverstar bearing Plate No. DVX-967 owned by Silverstar Shuttle & Tours Inc. traveling from Catbalogan to Manila was in a descending motion when the driver applied brake after he spotted the Catbalogan-bound jeepney in front of him to avoid possible collision.

However, it was a little too late because he hit the jeepney, which at that time was on its way up, causing the instantaneous death of Tuting and seriously injuring the girl Jerlyn. The girl died later at the Samar Provincial Hospital where she was brought by the rescuers.

Injured in the accident were 15 other passengers of the PUJ namely: Emelyn Alaga, Rocky Berio, Randy Rollo, Antonio Rollo, Aileen Ortillo, Claudio Mabansag, Rene Ramirez, Jose William Castillano, Junrey Violante, Elizabeth Olinar, Jerome Golong, Bernadeth Pangare, Narciso Cabragas, Reynaldo dele Cruz, and Santiago Dongallo.

The injured were now treated at the Provincial Hospital but unconfirmed reports said that one of the injured already succumb due to the serious injury.

Police report said the bus driver fled right after the incident. No passenger of the Silverstar bus was reported to have been injured though.





Poor Eastern Samar students to avail of government assistance

By SAMMY CANDIDO (PIA Eastern Samar)
March 29, 2007

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar  –  A sizeable amount of educational assistance awaits some poor but deserving students in the province. Under the Special Program of Employment for Students (SPES), the provincial government of Eastern Samar, through the efforts of Governor Ben P. Evardone, allotted some P250,000.00 for some 130 students-beneficiaries.

According to provincial Public Employment Service Office Manager Crescentia Quitorio, these students will be taken in under the program starting April until May to render various office works at the provincial capitol which will entitle them to compensations. As of this writing, 45 students are already assured of extra income this summer vacation, having passed the screening conducted by respective school administration committees of the Eastern Samar State University Campus of Guiuan, Salcedo, and Can-avid as sanctioned by the provincial government.

Some 85 slots more up for grabs as more student-applicants continue to troop to the capitol to seek admission to the summer jobs project, PESO manager Quitorio stressed that the hiring of additional students, this time, will be opened to applicants coming directly from the 23 municipalities of the province and will be done on a first-come-first-serve basis. Quitorio also revealed that the funding for the program was forged through a sharing scheme wherein 40% will be borne by the Department of Labor and Employment, while the provincial government shoulders the remaining 60 percent.

Meanwhile, Gov. Evardone encourages students to personally apply sans their parents beside them. This, he said, is for them to develop self-reliance and a genuine appreciation of work.

The SPES is anchored on the Arroyo administration’s thrust of providing working opportunities to underprivileged students thereby easing up tuition fees burden.





Shallow grave yields bones of one man in Leyte

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
March 29, 2007

HILONGOS, Leyte  –  A joint military-police operation conducted in a very distant, interior village here, Tuesday, March 27, which aimed to unearth the remains of many dead bodies, yielded instead with the recovery of bones lawmen thought belonged only to one person.

Despite the frustrating find, however, the sad tale behind the motive of the purported killing has been all too familiar: the victim, Segundo Balonggo, of Sitio Lemon, barangay San Antonio, this town, was formerly a hard-core communist New People’s Army (NPA) cadre, who had returned to the fold of the law and was believed summarily executed for it in a mass purge about two decades ago carried by the underground movement to rid its ranks of suspected deep penetration agents (DPAs).

This was according to the revelation of the victim’s brother, Dionisio, a 60-something jolly man, who led the authorities to the grave site.

Previous conflicting reports had it that skeletal remains of at least fifteen persons were to be exhumed at barangay Utanan, another interior barangay of this town, while some military sources also claimed that two grave sites with bone fragments of three persons were to be verified Tuesday which, as it turned out, did not happen.

Two helicopters were used to ferry police and military officers, headed by PNP Regional Director Supt. Eliseo De La Paz and MGen. Armando Cunanan of the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, respectively, including Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), and some mediamen, from the staging area at the Hilongos National Vocational High School grounds to the site.

The objective was reached after fifteen minutes of helicopter ride and a 30-minute walk from the narrow landing strip following a knee-deep winding river and a rocky climb in a cliff-like terrain.

Lt. Col. Mario Lacurom, Commanding Officer of the 43rd IB based in Hibod-Hibod, Sogod, and his men had reached the area much earlier.

SOCO operatives took blood samples of Dionisio, the informant, to see later if it would match with the DNA of the bones found.  They also secured the bones in a box and carried it with them for further investigative analysis.

Dionisio was at first understandably hesitant to be positively identified, but gave in for the sake of his blood brother’s death and in efforts to seek justice.

Reached for comment, Gen. Cunanan declined to give a statement when they came back to the staging area after the operation.

But Police Supt. De La Paz earlier scoffed at insinuations made by left-leaning groups that the bones were “recycled.”

Miraflor Cruz, Special Investigator II of the Commission on Human Rights based in Tacloban City who accompanied the team, also did not make any comment, saying she had to dig deeper still and wait until all available facts can be in before making a conclusion.

In August last year, several skeletons stocked in a mass grave believed victims of purges were discovered in a hinterland barangay in Inopacan town.

The discovery led to the recent arrest of Bayan-Muna Party-List Rep. Satur Ocampo, who was being fingered, along with other top communist leaders, as the one allegedly leading the mass murder, a charge he had denied.





Police sees politics behind the Calbayog check point attack

March 27, 2007

CATBALOGAN, Samar  –  Police authorities here maintained that the recent attack on a check point manned by four personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to enforce the COMELEC gun ban was not the doing of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as reported earlier.

Samar Police Chief P/SSupt. Asdali Idja Abah, in a report yesterday, blamed the partisan armed group of a certain politician in Samar’s 1st district for the attack saying the said politician was in desperation that the movement of his men was restricted because of the presence of the PNP check point.

A group composed of six armed men on board a van open fired at the PNP check point in Sitio Talahib, Brgy. Trinidad, Calbayog City at around 8 p.m. Friday (March 23) killing PO3 Valeriano Valenzuela and PO1 Ramil Biso, who was undergoing his Field Training Program.

The group carted away one M16 rifle and a 9mm cal. Pistol which was issued to PO3 Valenzuela and withdraw north immediately after the attack.

Witnesses disclosed that prior to the incident one of the suspects who was standing across the check point made a call through a cellphone and after a few minutes a van stopped at about 50 meters away from the check point where about 6 men armed with assorted firearms got out and opened fire at the police officers on duty.

A witness, however, said that PO1 Valenzuela might have known the suspects as he saw him talking to one of the suspects just a few meters away before the shooting took place.

It was learned that Valenzuela’s older brother and Sta. Margarita Police Chief PInsp. Nestor Valenzuela was tasked by the higher headquarters to make a research on the previous cases filed against the said politician.

Insp. Valenzuela’s effort appears to have been a taking progress as the police was able to file some four other cases against the political leader lately.





Calbayog prosecutors rejects handling of criminal raps against Congressman Uy

March 24, 2007

CALBAYOG CITY, Leyte  –  ”We fear for the safety of our lives and limbs and that of our families ... This is not a product of our imagination. We already have experiences on this in the past, and to think that those involve are mere known supporters of big politicians, they intervene and exert pressure so as to get their way. How much more that a congressman is being indicted here? We can see pressures coming from both sides, or from the respondents of this case themselves as they are capable of doing so”.

Congressman Uy

This was the firm statement of four prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) assigned in this city, including City Chief Prosecutor Feliciano P. Aguilar in their letter dated March 1, 2007 to Regional State Prosecutor Francisco Aurillo, Jr. in Tacloban City when they requested to inhibit from handling the frustrated murder case filed against Congressman Reynaldo Uy by City Councilor Nestor C. Tamidles, Minority Floor Leader of the Sangguniang Panlungsod here.

The other signatories of the said letter were Avelino Decoroso M. Basco, 1st Asst. Prosecutor, Virgilio B. Cabral, 2nd Asst. Prosecutor and Ferdinand S. Arpon, 3rd Asst. Prosecutor.

The prosecutors noted in their letter that if they take cognizance of the said case, they are certain that they will become target especially by those who won’t agree with their possible resolution of the said case.

“In case we resolve to file the case in court … we will always be on the run, it may appear speculative but we see it apparent”, the respondents stressed in their letter.

The same letter told that some of the respondents in the said case are known to be notorious in their chosen field of activities, notably emphasizing, claiming of lives of others for whatever and however simple or petty a reason is.

“If they can do it to others, they can do it with us with facility as we live within the area of their operations and control”, the prosecutors told.

Further, the said appeal for inhibition told that if the case will be handled by a prosecutor not from this city, the said politicians would find a hard time in exacting their wrath and notoriety.

On the case of Mayor Sarmiento’s involvement, the letter noted that some of the signatory prosecutors have been recipients of support and assistance from the city mayor particularly pointing out their appointments to the prosecution service.

Likewise, they admitted that the city government thru Mayor Sarmiento is augmenting the budgetary requirements of their office due to lack of funds, at which they might be accused of biased treatment if they are to handle the said case.

It was learned that the controversial case stemmed from an ambush incident in May 2, 2001, killing about  6 people on the spot including the wife of Tamidles and other barangay officials, but Tamidles and his son and others barangay officials survived the incident though seriously wounded.

Tamidles and his company were on board an L300 van on their way to this city in the morning of that day, and upon reaching the vicinity of Barangay Banti-an here, a series of gun shots shattered the window shield of their vehicle.

The case slept for many years because no body came out to pin point the perpetrators of the incident, but recently a certain Joel Cañete, allegedly a close-in aide of Congressman Uy, claiming to be present when the ambush plan is being drawn, came out and told the police authorities the truth and pointed at the solon as the mastermind of the killing.

Cañete is now endorsed by authorities to be put under the witness protection program.



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