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30,500 bags of NFA rice delivered to Samar

Army soldiers reach out to uphill barangays through medical-dental mission

Tarangnan police collars murder suspect who eluded arrest for 19 years

Samar lady solon fulfills inaugural address promise on health through sponsoring the training of Botika ng Bayan operators

Will CPP-NPA respondents show up for March 24 hearing by Judge Abarquez?

Eastern Samar observes Magellan landing at Homonhon

Evardone opposes 124% power rate increase in Eastern Samar

Congressman Doloy eyes to curb corruption

Samar’s first district officials push for the creation of a separate province

Lady Solon assures Samareños rehabilitation of Samar highways to be finished this year


Tanauan skimmers rein in Surigao 3rd National Skimboarding fete

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 24, 2008

skimboardingTACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Tanauan, Leyte which is known as the skimboarding capital of the Philippines, once again showed that it is number 1 when it comes to skimboarding.

This, as the three riders of Tanauan garnered three of the first four skimriders during the recently concluded 3rd National Skimboarding Competition in the province of Surigao.

The three skimmers from Tanauan, Obet Yanuario, Leo Espada, and Nikko Cobacha led the competitors composed of riders from the various provinces of Mindanao and the Visayas which was represented by the Tanauan, Leyte riders.

After the three-day competition, Obet Yanuario who is the current champion of the 4th National Open Skimboarding Competition held in December to coincide with the Kaadlawan Festival, was proclaimed as the champion of the 3rd National Skimboarding Competition in Surigao.

Another Tanauan rider, Leo Cobacha who ruled the 1st Penang Malaysia International Skimboarding Competition, garnered the second place in the Surigao event.

The third delegate of Tanauan, Nikko Cobacha who was the Champion in the Eastern Sunday Mayor’s Cup Skimboarding Competition in Tanauan, was proclaimed as the fourth placer.

The third placer was a rider from Iligan City, a reliable sources informed. The same source said that the tournament was not attended by the officers of the Philippine Skimboarding Association.

Meanwhile, Mayor Roque Tiu of Tanauan said that the Local Government of Tanauan will continue to advocate and promote the development of skimboarding as a major water sport in the country.

Mayor Tiu added that the LGU will not get tired of encouraging the youth of Tanauan to indulge in the water sports during their free time. Mayor Tiu said that it has been the practice of Tanauan, not to accept participants to the skimboarding who are not enrolled. This will discourage the student from neglecting their studies once they become interested in skimboarding.





KALAHI cites Tarangnan LGU for its best practice featured in the book “Ringgat”

April 24, 2008

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar  –  Tarangnan LGU is honored that in the whole Samar province, it was the only municipality cited as having done one of the best practices in the project implementation of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (KALAHI).

Representing Mayor Emmelly Olaje was Ms. Claudette Cabinalan, Tarangnan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer (MSWDO) who came to Leyte Park with KALAHI community facilitator Belle Villarin and one Barangay Kagawad Francisca who also is a member of the Barangay Management Sub Committee.

The best practice done in Barangay Sugod, Sitio Lana in Tarangnan earned its merit as it is featured in “Ringgat” the book launched at the Leyte Park Hotel, Tacloban City.

With a peculiar tradition following the doctrines of Rizal, barangay folks of Sogod, Tarangnan – the 16 KALAHI steps came in just a breeze as the community always adhere to the accepted norms of conduct.

A chapter in the book “Ringgat” devotes to “Sogod to So Good” where this quaint community opted for a rice mill as their project.

The rice mill situated on top of a hill, beckons the rice farmers from the adjacent barangays to be able to partake too of the Kalahi sub-project entrusted to this unique group of men and women who manage to be different yet earn the respect of the other townsfolk.

That very day, April 18, 2008, DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral came from Manila to witness the book launching, sign most copies and mingle with the men and women who have made the dreams of most barangays become a reality.

Also present during the affair at Leyte Park were Oscar Francisco of the Institute for Democratic Participation in Governance (IDPG), DSWD 08 Regional Director Leticia Corillo, Regional Project Manager Cecilia Madlos, Vice-President of PAGCOR and former Leyte Governor Remedios Petilla, Leyte Vice-Governor Mimyette Bagulaya, other government officials, awardees and honorees.





Greenpeace slams DA for ignoring warnings on US rice shipments

GMO contaminated rice slips into Philippines again

Press Release
April 24, 2008

MANILA, Philippines  –  Greenpeace today revealed that despite their repeated warnings, two GMO-contaminated rice varieties have slipped into the Philippines once again.  Greenpeace commissioned tests have detected the presence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in two imported US long grain rice brands, Blue Ribbon Texas Long Grain and Riceland Arkansas Long Grain that are being sold in S&R Supermarkets in the capital.

Texas and Arkansas US long grain varieties are among the rice supplies identified by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in August 2006 to have been massively tainted by the experimental GMO rice strain LL601 produced by Bayer.  Blue Ribbon rice samples tested positive for LL601 contamination, but the exact GMO strain in Riceland is yet to be determined.  Both suspect US rice varieties were able to enter the Philippines apparently undetected and unregulated by the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA).

"Last February, Greenpeace exposed how a 44,000 metric ton shipment of US long grain rice is also a GMO risk.  We challenged the DA, through the National Food Authority (NFA), to conduct further and more stringent tests on the rice to ensure its safety.  The NFA should have had ample time to run stringent tests on the rice before it was distributed. Unfortunately, their neglect has foisted rice, whose safety is still questionable, on an unsuspecting population," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

"This is the second time Greenpeace has discovered illegal GMO rice in the country. And, as usual, the DA was unable to detect its entry into our rice supply.  Clearly, the government is completely useless in enforcing its own GMO regulations, instituted to protect the welfare of consumers and the environment.  Moreover, the lax attitude toward these unsafe, experimental crops betrays the DA's pro-GMO bias, which, unless rectified, would ultimately endanger Filipino consumers and farmers," he added.

The NFA started distributing the US long grain rice last Saturday at P25.00 per kilogram.  Greenpeace believes that the stock may be among those affected by the massive US GMO long grain rice contamination scandals since 2006.  The contamination has so far cost the US rice industry billions of dollars in losses.(1)

"Greenpeace is unrelenting in our demand that the country's rice supply be protected from unsafe and unproven GMO technologies.  The ongoing rice crisis should not be used as an excuse to neglect our existing regulations governing GMOs, especially since there are other sources of GMO-free rice.  GMOs threaten biodiversity, food security, farmers' livelihoods, and consumer health," said Ocampo.  "The DA should come clean and plainly state that their commitment to protect the integrity of our rice supply is also a commitment to keep rice GMO-free."

Greenpeace campaigns for GMO-free crop and food production grounded on the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity, and providing all people 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.

NOTE: (1)The GMO Bayer LL601, responsible for the contamination, was an experimental variety whose research was abandoned in 2001 and which was never commercialized for undisclosed reasons.  Since 2006, this experimental variety was found in at least 30 countries, many of which, including the EU, Russia, Japan, and the Philippines have responded with import restrictions.  The said GMO rice strain has never been completely eradicated from US rice supplies, and remains to this day.  In fact, from 2006 to 2008, 23 shipments of US rice to Europe, certified GMO-free by US labs, were rejected by the importing countries after European tests confirmed GMO content.





Ombudsman Gutierrez orders the filing of criminal charges against 2 Cebu mayors, 19 others for the Cebu lamp post controversy

Press Release
By Office of the Ombudsman
April 21, 2008

Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez ordered the filing of criminal charges against two City Mayors and 19 others in connection with the Cebu lamppost controversy.

In a 30-page Resolution, Ombudsman Gutierrez ordered the filing of charges for Violation of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) against former Mayor Thadeo Ouano of Mandaue City and Mayor Arthuro Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City; OIC-City Engr. Hidelisa Latonio, Asst. City Engr. Gregorio Omo, and Engrs. Mario Gerolaga, Alfredo Sanchez Sr., and Rosalina Denque, all of Mandaue City; City Engr. Julito Cuizon, Asst. City Engr. Fernando Tagaan Jr. and Engr. Rogelio Veloso, all of Lapu-Lapu City before the Sandiganbayan.

Also ordered charged were DPWH Region VII Dir. Robert Lala, Former Asst. Reg. Dir. Gloria Dindin, Asst. Reg. Dir. Marlina Alvizo, OIC-Chief Maintenance Div. Pureza Fernandez, OIC-Asst. Chief Maintenance Div. Cresencio Bagolor, Reg. Legal Officer Agustinito Hermoso, Planning and Design Div. Chief Luis Galang, Administrative Div. Chief Restitutio Diano, and Construction Div. Chief Buenaventura Pajo.

Isabelo Braza, President and Chairman of the Board, Fabmik Construction and Equipment Supply Company, Inc.; and Gerardo Surla, Chairman of the Board, Gampik Construction and Development, Inc. were likewise ordered to be included in the charge.

The case stemmed from the investigation conducted by the Public Assistant and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO) of the Ombudsman-Visayas on the acquisition and installation of lampposts and street lighting facilities along the streets of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-lapu cities for the 12th ASEAN Summit.

Based on the investigations conducted by the fact-finding team of the PACPO-Visayas, it was found that “the subject lighting facilities, as acquired and/or paid for by the government, were highly overpriced.”

The fact-finding team arrived at the said conclusion after comparing the costs of the lampposts as indicated in the Programs of Work and Detailed Estimates prepared by Mandaue City and as reflected in the importation documents. 




 Single Arm Pole P         7,536.00    P        72,500  
 Double Arm Pole 8,121.20   85,500  
 Triple Arm Pole 9,523.37   95,000  
 Apex Type Lamppost 6,737.79   50,000  
 Dome Like Lamppost 11,750.00   50,000  

It said “comparing the costs above, the cost of each lamppost, apparently, was expanded to almost ten (10) times its actual cost.”

In their respective counter-affidavits, the respondent local government officials claimed that their act of signing the Programs of Work and Estimates never had any weight or value insofar as the implementation of the street lighting project was concerned.  On the other hand, officials of the DPWH Regional Office in Cebu maintained that the price estimates for the street lighting project were all reasonable and competitive.

In its decision however, the Ombudsman said that of all respondents, the DPWH officials “are the ones who most obviously appear to be liable” as they are the ones who “approved all the programs of work, awarded the projects to the winning contractors, and executed the corresponding contracts.“

On the part of the respondent local officials, the Ombudsman ruled that they could not be exculpated even if it were true that they were pressured or otherwise obliged into signing the Programs of Works and Detailed Estimates.  The Ombudsman said that “as properly designated officials with the duty to protect the government at all times, they should have been discerning in affixing their signatures on the lighting facilities.”

Thus, in a separate Decision, Ombudsman Gutierrez also ordered the dismissal from the service of DPWH officials Lala, Dindin, Alvizo, Fernandez, Bagolor, Hermoso, Galang, Diano, and Pajo for Grave Misconduct.

Local officials Ouano, Latonio, Omo, Gerolaga, Sanchez, Denque, Cuizon, Tagaan, and Veloso were likewise ordered dismissed from the service for similar offense.

With regard to respondent Ouano who is no longer in public office due the end of his term as city mayor, the Ombudsman said “let the penalty imposed upon him be deemed implemented and accordingly reflected in his record of public service.”





Navidad slay suspect remains in custody despite beating illegal possession charge

April 18, 2008

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar  –  The primary suspect in the murder of Regional Trial Court Judge Roberto Navidad, despite beating illegal possession charge and pending formal charge for murder, remains in custody.

NBI presentation of Judge Navidad slay suspect in Calbayog City
The suspect (standing) was presented to the media by the NBI-Samar operatives in a press conference held on March 17.

Joel Alebario, 29 remained in custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after executing a waiver saying, “I am waiving all my rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code and requesting the Arresting Officer (NBI) that I be given time to execute my counter-affidavit in the conduct of Preliminary Investigation.”

The waiver continued to say: “Pending Preliminary Investigation, I am willing to be placed under the custody of NBI Samar District Office in Catbalogan City.”

The waiver, dated March 14, was prepared witnessed by Alebario’s mother and assisted by counsel Sisenando Fiel, Jr.

Illegal possession of deadly weapon and murder charges were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation-Samar against Joel Alebario, 29 who was arrested last June 13 at their house in Purok 1, Brgy. Dagum, this city. A fan knife was seized from him.

But according to Prosecutor II Virgilio Cabral, the illegal possession of deadly weapon was dismissed for lack of merit. In the March 18, 2008 dated Resolution, the City Prosecution Office said that “respondent cannot be said to have violated B.P. BLG. 6 as he was in his residence when said fan knife was recovered,” and that “said fan knife was not listed as one of the objects of the search.”

The NBI raiding team together with the Philippine Army operatives raided Alebario’s residence based on the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Reynaldo Ros of Manila City RTC Branch 33 for alleged possession of firearm.

Alebario, who was presented to the media last March 17 by the NBI and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento at the City Mayor’s Office, is a parolee, released last December 13 from the Abuyog Penal Colony in Leyte for the crime of theft, according to authorities.

Alebario’s mother disputes the allegations against her son, that her son could not have done the crime. “Lumarga na unta akon anak kon nakasala iton.” she said. Neighbors too have told this reporter that Alebario was with them drinking when the news of the killing reached them.

In the press presentation, Mayor Sarmiento said that there was a cartographic sketch that was done right after the incident, and it so happened that the carto sketch matched from one file photograph of those who have somewhat committed crimes. The carto sketch matched the photo of the suspect, “Ito yung nakita ng NBI,” Sarmiento said.

Meanwhile, the witness right away identified the person as the person seen shooting the judge.

The NBI said their investigation will confirm to establish the motive of the killing saying many possible angles are to be considered.

Asked about RTC Branch 32 Sheriff Santos Tarrayo, Jr. who also was nabbed at their Purok 7, Dagum residence in a simultaneous raid with that on Alebario’s residence, the NBI said that his arrest has no connection with the Judge Navidad slay case.

“Sa ngayon, so far walang ebidensya na mag-uugnay sa nangyari sa pagpatay kay Judge  Navidad, pero nakuhanan namin siya ng firearm; ipapa-ballistic pa namin yun, at hihintayin namin ang result,” the NBI said.

It was reported earlier by some media outlets that Tarrayo’s arrest was connected to the Navidad slay, and that he was tagged as the mastermind.

Tarrayo was charged with illegal possession of firearms after a .45 pistol was found in his residence during a raid by virtue of a search warrant also issued by Judge Reynaldo Ros. His lawyer Ernesto Peñaflor said he was able to post an P80,000 bail on the same day he was arrested.

On March 24 in the weekly regular press conference held at Handumanan Bldg., Calbayog Police Chief Supt. Isaias Tonog said that they had to stop their investigation because the NBI had come out with their suspect. He added that “May-ada gad kami 2 nga testigo dinhe pero nahadlok ngan lumarga kay may mga death threats kuno ha ira pati an ira pamilya.”

Meanwhile, Alebario’s mother, Elena, is growing concerned about her son. Interviewed by this reporter, she said that she intends to travel to Manila where, reporters’ last inquiry with the NBI revealed, the younger Alebario voluntarily went with his captors.





DSWD Secretary arrives in Tacloban today

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 18, 2008

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Amiable Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral is scheduled to arrive in Tacloban City today, April 18, for the launching of various DSWD-led anti poverty and hunger mitigation programs.

DSWD Region 8 Director Letecia Corillo informed that Secretary Cabral is Guest of Honor for the launching of various poverty alleviation and hunger mitigation projects, principally the Food for School program, at Mahaplag, Leyte.

Late this afternoon, Secretary Cabral will launch the “Ringgat Book and CD,” a compilation of KALAHI-CIDSS best practices in Eastern Visayas.

It will be a hectic but productive day for Secretary Cabral, who will arrive at 7:00 o’clock in the morning at the DZR Airport where she will immediately interact with friends from the local media, Director Corillo said.

From the Airport, Secretary Cabral will proceed to Tanauan, Leyte where she will formally open the Sportsfest of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth, the center for the youth in conflict with the law in the region.

As soon as she arrives in Mahaplag, which is a beneficiary of the KALAHI-CIDSS program, Secretary Cabral will view the KALAHI-CIDSS Photo Exhibit and she will be introduced to the Community and Local Inter-Agency Partners and the Regional Inter-Agency Partners.

After the overview of DSWD Existing programs in Mahaplag, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho “Icot” Petilla and Congresswoman Carmen Cari of the fifth district of Leyte will deliver their respective messages.

While in Mahaplag, Secretary Cabral, assisted by Governor Petilla and Congresswoman Cari, will launch the Anti-Poverty program for the municipality. She will distribute Food Packs to Day Care Children; award SEA-K Livelihood Assistance to three associations; and distribute certificates to Tindahan Natin operators.

Moreover, Secretary Cabral will distribute weighing scales and lead in the feeding of malnourished children.

After these activities, Secretary Cabral will deliver her Keynote Speech. She will also find time to visit Tindahan ni Gloria and KALAHI-CIDSS projects.

The Secretary will travel to Barangay Uguis to inaugurate the Water System project and to Barangay Liberacion to visit the Health Center project, both under the KALAHI-CIDSS program, which is the flagship poverty alleviation and people empowerment program of the Arroyo Administration.

At present, there are already 878 barangay beneficiaries in the 32 KALAHI-CIDSS municipalities in Region 8 Director Corillo informed.





Greenpeace dumps coal at DENR: calls for cancellation of IloIlo Coal plant

Press Release
April 18, 2008

MANILA, Philippines  –  Greenpeace activists dumped half a ton of coal at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Thursday and unfurled a banner with the message "Atienza, don't be a climate criminal."  The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Instead of actual coal, the activists used charcoal, which is safer than the coal used in power plants.  Coal, when burnt, releases a cocktail of toxic gases that have deadly health impacts on downwind communities.  It is also a major contributor to climate change, the most serious environmental threat facing the world today.

"It is a crime against humanity to abet climate change – a crime that Secretary Atienza can stop by denying the issuance on an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the Iloilo Coal plant," said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Jasper Inventor.  "If Mr. Atienza is, as he claims, serious about working toward solutions to the climate problem, then he should take the lead in blocking the construction and expansion of the Iloilo plant and any other similar coal project in the country."

Greenpeace also reminded Secretary Atienza about his own pronouncements at the UN climate change meeting in Bali in December last year, where he called on world governments to act urgently and decisively to reverse climate change. Mr. Atienza at Bali had emphasized that climate change will condemn the Philippines to poverty, and, worldwide, will displace some 340 million people while depriving 1.8 billion people of drinking water.

"And it is under his stewardship that the DENR is due to decide on the issuance of an ECC for the Iloilo coal plant whose construction plans have been met with massive resistance from civil society, church, and community groups in the city. We have brought this charcoal to him today to remind him of his words – if he eats them, then he can eat coal as well," challenged Inventor during the activity.

Coal is the dirtiest, most carbon intensive of all fossil fuels. Emitting 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80 percent more than gas, it is one of the leading contributors to climate change.  Although coal-fired power plants already account for 36% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector, there are still at least eight coal-fired plants lined up for construction or expansion in the Philippines, including the 165 MW coal-fired power plant in Iloilo.

"Iloilo does not need this coal plant.  At present, there is an oversupply of 85MW in Panay Island and Guimaras.  Beginning October 2008, there will be an additional oversupply when the existing submarine cable linking Panay Island to the Negros geothermal grid starts providing an additional 30MW of electricity.  On top of that, when the submarine cable is upgraded also later this year, Iloilo will receive an additional 100MW, bringing the total electricity oversupply to 215MW," said Melvin Purzuelo of Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE).

Greenpeace and RISE maintain that needed power additions can be supplied by a range of renewable energy alternatives from small hydro, biomass and wind within Panay, and the expansion of geothermal power plants within the Visayas grid, eliminating the need for coal.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.



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