Wednesday, August 31, 2011

AFP reaffirms diplomacy over NPA atrocities

CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City, September 1, 2011-The Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reaffirms its commitment to uphold human rights in all of its operations here in Central and Northern Luzon.

Ltc Rosendo D Armas, chief of the AFP 1st civil  relations group said that  the military troops in their area of responsibilities (AOR) remain committed in performing their mission towards peace and development despite the recent atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA) which is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Every Filipino wants peace and so with the soldiers who are at the forefront in fighting threat groups inimical to a peaceful community,” Armas said. 

“It is just unfortunate why the spate of atrocities and criminalities of the CPP/NPA happen at a time when the peace negotiations are ongoing. Not only the Chairman of the Government Negotiating Panel observed that the peace talks were being taken advantage of by the CPP/NPA to demand the release of their detained leaders but also the public who constantly monitor the development in the peace efforts.”

CPP/NPA recent atrocities included the kidnapping of Mayor Henry Dano of Lingig, Surigao del Sur and two military escorts; the NPA attack on a police station in Mobo, Masbate; the killing of an Army volunteer during a clash between government troops and NPA rebels in Barangay Taposo, Candelaria, Zambales; NPA raid of a sugarcane plantation in a remote village in San Mariano, Isabela which is being developed for a bio-ethanol plant; foiled harassment and ambush of Bayanihan patrols team in Aurora; NPA held captive four (4) personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Bukidnon; and a long list of other atrocities committed by the CPP/NPA in the past.

“These acts of violence of the CPP/NPA violated the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement with Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” Armas furthered, adding that the government remains firm in their stand in achieving a lasting peace despite the recent atrocities committed by the leftist group.

NOLCOM spokesperson Captain Jovily Carmen Cabading said that in the spirit of bayanihan, we can only hope and pray that the NPAs will finally be enlightened to go back to the fold of the law.

She said that the Aquino administration is doing everything for the ‘peacetalk’ to bear fruit. The past NPA atrocities and their impossible demands did more harm than good.

In the end, “let us all be reminded that in prolonging this insurgency, it is not the soldiers, nor the NPAs, who lose. It is always the innocent civilians who are caught in the middle of the crossfire,” Cabading said. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hundreds more learn of RH bill's failure as proposed solution

MANILA, August 31, 2011―As news reports on inconsistencies in statistical numbers and in the agenda of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and its proponents continue to come out, hundreds of parishioners in Parañaque City got the lowdown on the controversial bill through informative talks delivered by members of Filipinos for Life (F4L).
Following a multi-media presentation on pro-life issues, Anthony James Perez, Anna Cosio and Atty. Marwil Llasos tackled different aspects of House Bill 4244 at an afternoon activity organized by Mary, Mother of Good Counsel Parish and attended by some 300 parishioners, most of them students.
Perez, F4L founder, discussed the reasons for the group’s opposition to the bill, explaining why the legislative measure was not the solution to the country’s problems.
Citing incontestable statistics, Perez debunked the overpopulation myth on which population control advocates have based their claims.
Nurse instructor Cosio tackled the medical and health-related issues surrounding the bill. Armed with science-based research and findings, she proved that human life starts at fertilization–or the meeting of the egg and sperm cells.
As part of the RH bill is the taxpayer-funded procurement and distribution of artificial contraceptives, Cosio also went into a discussion of the harmful–and sometimes fatal–effects of birth control drugs and devices on women.
Tackling the moral, constitutional and legal aspects was Llasos, who declared that the bill was anti-God, anti-human and anti-Filipino. Included in the lawyer’s presentation were explanations as to the constitutional infirmities of portions of the bill.
As the talks concluded, a woman among the participants brought up the situation of an unmarried friend who had considered getting rid of her unborn baby, given that the child’s father refused to acknowledge his responsibility to the mother and child.
Llasos’ advice to the woman was to tell her friend to inform her parents about the situation. Abortion is not an option, he added, and there are government, private and religious institutions that can help women in such situations.
The lawyer also offered F4L’s help in facilitating adoption placement for the baby.
Meanwhile, members of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Vicariate of Real Infanta and General Nakar, Prelature of Infanta, Quezon province boosted their understanding of the issues pertaining to the culture of life through a recent seminar about the RH bill.
As part of the family and life ministry’s series of trainors’ training seminars, Buhay Partylist pro-life advocacy staff Jose Descallar delivered a day-long talk on issues pertaining to the legislative measure to 45 participants–including school principals, teachers and city councilors–upon the invitation of the prelature’s Vicar-General Fr. Mario Establecida.
According to Descallar, the open forum was quite interesting due to questions about the “fine-tuned” version of the bill, supposedly an initiative of Malacañang.
“Hindi pa din okey sa inyo ‘yung amendments na ginagawa dun sa bill?” queried one of the participants.
Descallar explained that such amendments changed nothing because “it’s the bill’s framework that’s the problem. Even if you amend it and all that’s left are four sections–declaration of policy, guiding principles, appropriations, and the penal provisions–hindi pa din okey ‘yan. It is still within the same framework.”
H.B. 4244, authored by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, continues to face a growing opposition due to its mandate of taxpayer-funded procurement and distribution of a “full range” of birth control drugs and devices including abortifacients, six-year sex education program from Grade 5 to 4th year high school in all schools as well as among out-of-school youth, provision of birth control drugs, devices and services by employers to their employees, and punitive measures for those who speak out against the bill. (CBCP for Life)

13 families rescued by army as typhoon ‘Mina’ whipped Abra

BANGUED, Abra, August 31, 2011-At least thirteen families who were stranded in the flooded barangays of Cabuloan and Sta Rosa were rescued by the troops of 503rd Infantry (Justice and Peace) Brigade and 41st Infantry (Partner for Peace) Battalion, Philippine Army as tropical storm ‘Mina’ whipped here Sunday night.

Northern Luzon Command spokesperson Captain Jovily Carmel Cabading said that the joint 503rd Infantry Brigade, 41st Infantry Battalion, Provincial Joint Peace and Security Council (JPSCC) with  the Abra police who were tasked to conduct series of checkpoints inside the town of Bangued versus gun for hire personalities and suspected private armed groups (PAGS) have changed their mandates into Disaster Rescue and Relief Operations (DRRO) to save lives and properties of villagers at the said barangays.

“Soldiers onboard with two M35 trucks and two KM450 military vehicles proceeded to the flooded communities together with volunteers from the Philippine National Red Cross to inspect flooded houses and look for stranded persons,” Cabading said, saying that the villagers were convinced to leave their houses while the water was not yet deep.

In Barangay Cabuloan, two families were carried by soldiers mostly old women to safer place and to evacuation centers, while in Santa Rosa, eleven families were evacuated.

“They were evacuated to the Provincial Capitol while others were brought at safe houses of their relatives in the adjacent barangays, particularly at Zone III of said town,” Cabading stated.

Army 503rd Brigade chief Col Eliseo Posadas said that the soldiers are always ready to help civilian populace when need arises as their mandated tasks call for it, assuring that all of his troops are well equipped and prepared in disaster response.

Municipality of Bangued is one of the towns that suffered considerable damage to properties from the wrath by the storm, especially agricultural crops due to the proximity of farmlands along Abra river.

“Soldiers are also involved in the search and rescue of missing persons who were reportedly drowned due to heavy current in Abra river. The dead bodies of the missing were recovered expeditiously,” Posadas said. (Jason de Asis)

Special Report: New Zealanders urge P-Noy to end disappearances in PHl

MANILA, August 30, 2011—In solidarity with Filipinos, the people of New Zealand urged President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to help ease the pain and agony of the families and friends of the disappeared by surfacing them; or if quite impossible, make the people responsible in enforced disappearances and abductions in the Philippines accountable.
The call was made by a New Zealand human rights watchdog in commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared.
Murray Hurton, the general secretary of the human rights watchdog, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) pleaded to the Philippine government to use its political will to stop all atrocities and end the culture of impunity, and let the disappeared and illegally detained safely return to their families' embrace.
Dismayed over GPH-NDFP peace talks
The PSNA, together with Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) and the Wellington Kiwi-Pinoy (WKP) had expressed their dismay over the state of the peace talks between the Reds and the Philippine Government (GPH), which is, again, in danger of deadlock due to allegations of gross disrespect of the military forces to human rights and the statements of GPH chief negotiator, Atty. Alexander Padilla on Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which he says, "inoperative."
The JASIG, which was signed by the NDFP and GPH in 1995, virtually protects the members and consultants of the NDFP from arrests and detention.
"With the gross record of globally-condemned human rights violations under your predecessor Mrs Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, hopes for justice and change were raised when you assumed the presidency in June 2010. At the series of public meetings around New Zealand in October-November 2010 where Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel spoke on the prospects for peace in the Philippines, New Zealanders were keen to hear whether the perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre have been brought to justice and whether the killings of journalists and activists under your presidency.
"[Yet] [w]e find it alarming that in addition to the thousands of unresolved cases under Arroyo, there are now 48 cases of extra-judicial killings, 5 enforced disappearances and 336 political prisoners remain in detention under your administration. Equally alarming is the fact that many peasant and trade union activists, social justice and human rights advocates including church workers and at least one labor rights lawyer are again threatened with arrest on trumped up charges filed at the time of Arroyo and now revived under your watch. We are also aware that NDFP personnel who played significant roles in the peace process are among the hundreds who have become victims of enforced disappearances and illegal detentions," reads the open letter signed by Hurton for PSNA, Daphna Whitmore for the APS, and Rod Prosser for the KWP, dated August 30, 2011.
‘Arbitrary’ arrests continue
Earlier, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and other militant youth groups had sounded the alarm over the arrest of three youth leaders in Cebu and some members of the local peasant group there.
In a statement issued by the LFS national headquarters in the social networking site, Facebook (FB), it says that Melanie Montano, a member of the League of Filipino Students UP Cebu chapter; Remy Jade Manzon, a member of Kabataang Artista para sa Sambayanan (Karatula)-UP Cebu chapter, and Januelle Rontos of the Nagkakaisang Kusog ng mga Estudyante, a political party in UP Cebu were arrested while elements of the Philippine National Police violently dispersed a protest camp of peasants in Sitio Camarin, Brgy Bonbon, Aloguinsan, Cebu as they were doing a "basic mass integration" in the area. The incident happened around 5:30 in the morning yesterday (August 29).
The arrest, said the LFS, was an overkill since 300 PNP personnel were deployed to disperse the peasants' protest camp, erected in the disputed 168-hectare land of the Aboitizes, known shipping magnate in the country.
"The LFS is fuming over this recent blatant violation of the people’s human right, [which is] another manifestation of whose interest [that this] government is serving. The peasants of Sitio Camarin have all the right to defend their land, more so, [to] continue till it, but elements of... the Philippine National Police became the principal ushers of the ruling few in stepping on the right of the peasants to land and their right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances," the LFS statement read.
Church peoples saddened over postponement of GPH-NDFP talks
Even Church peoples have sounded the alarm over the indefinite postponement of the peace talks between the State and the communist insurgents, represented by the NDFP.
In the statement issued on August 28 by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest and widest ecumenical formation of church leaders pushing for just and lasting peace in the Philippines, Kalookan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., and Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdez had expressed their fears that the peace talks, would once again, be derailed because of the indefinite postponement of the GPH-NDFP meeting in Oslo, Norway. Iñiguez, Ledesma and Ruiz-Duremdez serve as head of the secretariat and co-chairpersons of the PEPP, respectively.
"After the spark of hope that was brought about by the GPH-NDFP formal peace talks last February, which produced the February 21, 2011 Oslo Joint Statement, the recent pronouncements to the media from both GPH Peace Panel Chair Atty. Alex Padilla and NDFP Peace Panel Spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili, bodes for another postponement of the formal talks. The talks were postponed already last June and we feel that another postponement may truly derail the peace negotiations," reads the PEPP statement entitled "Stay on Course, Pursue Formal Peace Talks".
The PEPP says that the bone of contention, which started the exchange of words between the leaders of two panels, was the issue of the release of NDFP consultants, which the latter claims are covered by the JASIG.
"The NDFP called for a postponement of the talks last June to give time for the GPH to release the consultants. While the GPH already released four consultants, the NDFP is demanding that GPH honor the February 21 Joint Statement by releasing all consultants covered by the JASIG. The GPH recently stated that until the reciprocal working committees on CASER shall have completed the common tentative agreement on social and economic reforms, the talks will be postponed indefinitely and that there will be no formal talks on issues concerning the JASIG. This in turn was seen by the NDFP as a move to scuttle the negotiations," read the PEPP statement.
"In this light, we would like to appeal to both panels to iron out their differences and proceed with the formal peace talks. We believe that it is better to engage in principled debate over the negotiating table rather than other venues. The PEPP also encourages both sides to abide by their own reaffirmation of the validity and binding effect of all previous bilateral agreements as stated in the February Joint Statement. This includes the JASIG. We have previously stated that both parties “... follow the spirit of the JASIG as it is a crucial issue around the formal peace talks” and that “... its faithful implementation enables the two parties to resume the negotiations in earnest” (“Resolve the Issue on JASIG, Resume the Formal Peace Talks” PEPP Statement, June 8, 2011)," the PEPP statement continued.
It also furthers that one of the big developments on the talks last February was the timetable for the negotiation.
"For advocates, the schedules indicated in the timetable can be guideposts to peace. We call on both panels to work hard in order to meet the proposed schedules. If both sides abide by this, and try to build bridges instead of hurdles, and we reiterate this — through principled negotiations — our country will enjoy what the Psalmist promised, “a future awaits those who seek peace” (Psalms 37:37)," the PEPP statement ends.
Peace advocates remove profile photos on FB for the disappeared
Meanwhile, the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) and other members of the "netizens" had their share of the grief and longing of the families of the forcibly disappeared by making their faces at Facebook literally "disappear."
The taking down of profile pictures in FB as a symbol of solidarity for the family and friends of the Desaparecidos (Spanish term for the disappeared) had started with the letter of appeal from the human rights advocates that reads:
"Dear friends,
"In solidarity with the friends & family of the missing who continue to seek justice, & in remembrance of the thousands of desaparecidos in the Philippines & around the world, we are requesting that you take down your profile picture on August 30, Tuesday.
"August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared. Please pass to those who are supportive of this cause."
Catherine Bantoy, a graduate student from University of the Philippines-Diliman and currently working as a guess coordinator in one of the big channels in the Philippines, says she needed not to think twice in removing her photo in FB.
"I have removed it (my photo) to show support to the family and also to stir awareness to FB friends who didn't know [about] the issue," she said in an email interview.
For Angelica Carballo of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP), she did remove her photo in FB for she knows that "if these atrocities don't stop, one day, I might become a victim, my child can be a victim, my sister, brother, parents, can be victims. And as a mother, I feel for the mothers of the disappeared who, until now, are searching for their children. Nothing can be more painful than to wait for nothing today or tomorrow." (Noel Sales Barcelona)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reds in massive recruitment in Aurora says army chief

LTC Kurt A. Decapia in a firing range at Camp Ravina,
Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora.
BALER, Aurora, August 30, 2011-Communist Terrorist New People’s Army have engaged in massive recruitment in this place where rebels felt as their last bastion of defense, they are targeting rebel returnees, students and training so called “child warriors” to beef up its ranks and regain lost ground in the province, a military officer said Monday. 

“These groups are in the forefront of the rebels’ recruitment activities more than a year since the province was declared insurgency-free by the military, the Philippine National Police and the provincial government,” Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia, commander of the Army’s 48th Infantry (Guardians) Battalion, said.

He said last Tuesday’s (August 23) encounter proved the rebels are into training and recruitment, following the discovery of the training camp in Barangay Dimanayat, San Luis town.

“The rebels are projecting that they are still here although there are only a dozen of them, a number which is minimal and negligible,” Decapia said, adding rebels operating in the province merge with their counterparts from the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya.

Decapia said the rebels are already a “spent force” in the province and trying to flex their muscles to make it appear their movement is still strong.

He said the rebels were trying to win back Aurora after a series of military operations cleared several areas, particularly in the tri-boundaries of Aurora, Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya. “Following several NPA-clearing operations since last December, these rebels felt Aurora is their last stronghold,” he said.

Decapia said  the rebels have not been successful in their efforts, particularly in trying to win back their former comrades. “Their former comrades have not been accommodating them. They have been rejected by the rebel returnees,” he said.

“The rebels also want to disrupt economic activities in the province since the economy is flourishing rapidly in Aurora,” Decapia added.

Decapia said the encounter was a spill-over operations conducted by his men after renewed clashes between government troops and rebel guerillas in Barangay Diteki, San Luis last August 12 and 13 in which the NPA claimed four soldiers were killed, a claim which Decapia vehemently denied.
Meanwhile, two days after August 23 encounter, Ka Rowena Servante, spokesperson of the Domingo Erlano Command (DEC), New People’s Army (NPA) in Aurora said in a press statement that they were killed seven soldiers and six wounded in a recent clashed in San Luis town, a claim which the military strongly denied saying that only one (1) was slightly wounded in action identified as PFC Erwin Dacayo, a native of Guimba, Nueva Ecija who was already brought at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center, V.  Luna road, Quezon City and now in a stable condition.

The DEC also vowed to launch more armed offensives against the military in the province at the soonest time possible. (Ronald Madrid Leander)

Nueva Ecija, the next Vatican of ‘Jueteng’ after Pampanga

Jueteng bet collector at Cabanatuan City, Public Market.
(Photo Courtesy: Ronald Leander, GMA 7) 

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, August 30, 2011-A reliable source of the Catholic Media Network revealed that this province could be the next “Vatican” of jueteng after Pampanga.

The illegal numbers “Jueteng” is now operating in Nueva Ecija most particularly in this city where betting is being done right in the heart of the central business district and in front of the provincial headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The man preparing his "papelitos" for jueteng operation.
(Ronald Leander, GMA 7)
In this city, jueteng bet-takers ply their trade at the public market with “papelitos” on full display of the public. When asked what this paraphernalia was for, whether jueteng or STL (small town lottery), the elderly woman replied without batting an eyelash “siyempre po jueteng (jueteng of course).”

Sources furthered that among the bettors in the illegal numbers game are policemen themselves who could not resist the temptation of placing their bets for a chance at hitting the winning numbers.

The man in white shirt checking the numbers who won in
the illegal number game. (Ronald Leander, GMA7)
One source said at the rate jueteng operations have spread rapidly in the province, Nueva Ecija could follow the footsteps of Pampanga province which was once described by former Senator Aquilino Pimentel as the “Vatican” of jueteng.

Senior Superintendent Roberto Aliggayu, PNP provincial director, could not be contacted for comment.

STL, which is being run by the CTG Prime Ventures, Inc. of one Henry Lim, is no match to the unabated jueteng operations in many parts of the province. CTGPVI, however, is also suspected of being used by its operator as a cover for jueteng as some of its managers have links to known jueteng lords, including suspected jueteng king Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda.

The jueteng operation at Cabanatuan Public Market.
(Ronald Leander, GMA7)
Reliable sources said jueteng thrives because money streams to the pockets of corrupt police and local officials and even the media. A certain “Argee” is reported to be providing “hush money” or payola to unscrupulous media practitioners not to report the illegal activities.

Armand Galang, president of the Nueva Ecija Press Club, has so far not issued a statement condemning or opposing the illegal number game in the province.

The cubrador of jueteng in Nueva Ecija.
(Ronald Leander, GMA7)
Earlier, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said STL and jueteng are “close partners” because most of those who have STL franchises are also jueteng financiers.

“STL, therefore, uses also the structure of jueteng operations – from cobrador (collector), cabo (manager), rebisador (bet reviewer), pagador (paymaster) and operator,” said Cruz, chairman of the Krusada ng Bayan laban sa Sugal.

Cruz said a check made by his group showed that when there is STL in an area, the STL bet collectors have two sheets – one for STL and one for jueteng.      

A  PNP officer admitted that STL operators are also into illegal gambling.

The actual jueteng game in Cabanatuan City.
(Ronald Leander, GMA 7)
Chief Superintendent Ford Tuazon, deputy director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), acknowledged during a hearing of the House committee on games and amusements that they have a hard time implementing STL because jueteng is being conducted under the cover of the STL.

Nueva Ecija Representative Rodolfo Antonino, who was named as one of the beneficiaries of proceeds from CTGPVI, said that jueteng continue operating in the province and in other places because it has a mass base.

“Jueteng can never be stopped by the PNP or any other law enforcement authority because in reality, the betting is something that is entertained by the mass base. In other words, they want it,” he said.

He said the PCSO should instead improve the STL instead of replacing it with the “Loterya ng Bayan.” (Jason de Asis)

Reds claim 7 slain, 6 wounded in the army troopers in Aurora clash; military denied the claim-only 1 wounded

The view of sitio Balagbag, Dikapinisan,
San Luis, Aurora.
(Arnel Turzar, DZJO FM,
CMN, Baler, Aurora)

DIKAPINISAN, San Luis, Aurora, August 30, 2011-The communist New People’s Army has claimed that seven soldiers were killed and six wounded in a recent clashes here, a claim which the military vehemently denied saying that only one (1) was slightly wounded even as the latter has gone on heightened alert amid increased sightings of armed rebels some 17 months since this province was declared insurgency-free by local officials, police and the Army.

Ka Rowena Servante, spokesperson of the Domingo Erlano Command (DEC), New People’s Army (NPA) in Aurora said in a press statement that the soldiers were waylaid in an encounter last August 23, 2011 at around 6:30 in the morning at the hinterland of Sitio Balagabag, Barangay Dimanayat where the rescue of choppers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) came in a broad day light.

The rebel group said that the encounter resulted to wide damages to the 48th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, saying that soldiers who were killed in action and other casualties were airlifted by the AFP chopper and brought to police headquarters at Camp Victor Ravina, Barangay, Sabang, Baler, Aurora around 4:30 in the afternoon. Soldiers wounded were also brought by boat at the Baler Fishport in Barangay Zabali, Baler town. “3 of the soldiers were hit at the body, 2 were hit at their back and 1 hit at the feet at around 9pm,” Servante said in her statement.

The DEC said that the latest incident was the fifth encounter with the government troops within six weeks, it said, belie the latter’s claims it has crushed the backbone of insurgency in the province. “It only showed that the rebels are very much alive and going strong in Aurora,” the rebel statement said.

The encounter site at Sitio Balagbag,
Dikapinisan, San Luis, Aurora.
(Arnel Turzar, DZJO FM, CMN,
Baler, Aurora)
Servante recalled the first gun battle in the army were at Brgy. Diarabasin, Dipaculao town last July 10, the next night (July 11) was the harassment at Sitio Dimutol, Barangay Dianawan, Maria Aurora town, the two consecutive encounters last August 12 and 13 in Barangay Diteki, San Luis town where the rebel group said that the first encounter took place at around 11:15 pm when the NPA band, also figured in a firefight with 20 soldiers who occupied the Diteki barangay hall then (August 13) at around 9:10 am, the rebel command said it has ambushed a truckload of soldiers who were trying to reinforce their fellow troops in Diteki when a bomb was hurled by the rebels and another one last August 23 at Dimanayat, San Luis, Aurora.

Servante said that LTC Kurt A. Decapia, Battalion Commander of the 48th IB threatened the villagers of Diteki that once proven that they are supporters of rebels will be lost. A certain Balong Genes was also pinpointed by a gun by the soldiers while on his way to "ulingan" (charcoal hole-a place where charcoal is being made) at Sitio Sablang, barangay Diteki, San Luis town last August 14, 2011.

“Ang ipinalabas na pahayag ng mga taga-Diteki na tumutuligsa sa naganap na ambush ay kinopya lamang sa mga anti-NPA rally na inorganisa ng mga military noong panahon ni General Jovito Palparan,” Servante said, condemning the Barangay Security System and Youth Leadership Seminar being organized by the army.

“Muli, nais naming ipahayag: binigo ng NPA ang mga pinakamalaking operasyon ng Oplan Bantay Laya mula 2005-2010 dahil sa suporta ng mamamayan. Higit na determinado ang NPA-Aurora na biguin ang Oplan Bayanihan ng AFP at lalong palakasin ang paglaban ng mamamayan hanggang sa tagumpay ng rebolusyon!”

The DEC also vowed to launch more armed offensives against the military in the province at the soonest time possible.

Northern Luzon Command spokesperson Captain Jovily Carmel Cabading said in a telephone interview that the rebel groups’ claims of army fatalities was a brazen lie. “Obviously, it was a purely propaganda to make it appear that they are recovering lost ground,” she said, adding that only one was hurt during the clash and there was no fatality among the soldiers.

“We don’t have any reason to hide anything among the army troopers,” she said. “Sa lahat ng bulaan ay pinakang-sinungaling iyang mga rebeldeng iyan. Alam ng lahat kung ano ang totoo. Walang ginawa ang mga iyan kundi mangotong at manakot ng tao.”

LTC Kurt A. Decapia said that the statement of Servante is not true and only an act of desperation to show that they have the support of the people of Aurora. “In fact, the recent battle with the guerillas was an effort of the civilians; thus, the army troopers overran their camp. The different groups of NPA who sowed terrorism in Aurora disbanded and left Aurora,” Decapia said. “Wala na sila, sumabog na. Nagwatak-watak na,” he ended in a telephone interview. (Jason de Asis) 

Laoag youth celebrate WYD with the National Youth Cross

LAOAG City, August 29, 2011—The Diocese of Laoag celebrated the World Youth Day on August 16 with the presence of the National Youth Cross in the diocese.
In pilgrimage across the country since January 31, the NYC had already traversed around Visayas and Mindanao. It arrived in the Northern Luzon Region last August 2 with the Diocese of Urdaneta as the first stop.
From the Diocese of Bangued, the pilgrim Cross was brought to the Diocese of Laoag on August 16. It was warmly welcomed by the faithful in parishes, diocesan schools, and national high schools.
An estimated 10,000 young people were able to see the NYC during its six days of stay in the diocese.
Touched by the presence of the Cross
As the Pilgrim Cross travelled around the diocese, many young people expressed appreciation on how their lives were touched by the presence of the Cross.
The prayers of petitions offered during the visit of the Cross mostly touched on the strengthening of family bond, stronger faith in God and healing from illness, especially dengue.
Delegates from parishes and Catholic schools prayed the Taize prayer during the evening vigil of the Cross.
The vigil started with a Eucharistic Celebration by Msgr. Noel Ian Rabago, the newly-elected Diocesan Administrator of St. William Cathedral Parish.
During his homily, Msgr. Rabago stressed the challenge for the elders of the community to support the young people and their spiritual initiatives.
The WYD celebrations followed after the Mass. The program included animation, Taize prayer, presentation for the NYC and a showcase of accomplishments of the Parish Youth Councils.
The participants had a youth walk the following morning carrying the NYC around the vicinity of the Church compound. The festivities ended with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Lester Menor, Laoag’s Diocesan Youth Director.
On August 21, the NYC was lifted to the Apostolic Prelature of Batanes where the youth also were awaiting its visit.
The Pilgrim Cross is due to arrive in the Diocese of Baguio on September 13, and from there it will be brought to the Military Ordinariate in Quezon City. (Mark Vertido)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anti-crime watchdog in Aurora founded by concerned citizens

BALER, Aurora, August 29, 2011-Villagers here have organized an anti-crime watchdog to stem the tide of robberies, holdups and break-ins by lawless elements after the alarming rise in crimes in this capital town which led its own mayor to admit a “reign of terror” among the citizenry.

The group named their organization as the Bantay Bahay at Tahanan or BANTAHAYAN (loosely translated as house and home watch) where their intention is to mobilize people’s participation against street crimes utilizing the social networking site Facebook and other means of communication.

Noli Guerrero, a resident of Guerrero garden compound phase 2 purok 1 of Barangay Buhangin and lead convenor of their group initially has 20 members whose president is noted lawyer Sharon Teh Ylanan.

A day after unidentified men broke inside the service center of the Aurora Electric Cooperative along Gloria St., Barangay Suklayin members of Guerrero’s group gathered during a meeting Wednesday night.

The incident is the fifth known case of break-ins since last month, prompting Mayor Arthur Angara to comment that a “reign of terror” is now gripping the populace over the recent rush of high-profile crimes, particularly robbery-holdup and theft involving large sums of money believed to be orchestrated by a crime syndicate.

Angara admitted that residents of the town no longer feel safe and secure in their homes with the upsurge of these incidents as he expressed disappointment over the failure of the Philippine National Police to solve these crimes.

Guerrero said that the anti-crime watchdog was formulated through Facebook by members of the Aurora Family Community (AFC) which he founded with more than 900 family members province wide.

Guerrero said that one of the activities of their group is to monitor the movements of transients and outsiders. He said that last year, he himself was victimized by robbers who invaded his house and took his laptop and digital  camera in spite of the presence of his pet dogs serving as his “bodyguards.”

Reuel Bitong of Barangay 4 poblacion said that their group is a collective neighborhood crime watch. He said that in previous months, crime incidents used to be isolated but lately, commission of such crimes appears to have become the rule rather than the exception.

Guerrero said that those behind the string of crimes appeared to have mastered their craft in this town. “It appears they have a profile of their would-be victims. They seemed to know the flow of money, where it will be withdrawn and where it will be delivered,” he observed.

Vice Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” Bihasa, who was present during the meeting, expressed suspicion that a big-time syndicate is behind the series of crime incidents in this town.

Bihasa said it was unfortunate that the rush in crimes took place when tourism is booming to unprecedented heights in the town and in the entire province.

“I am just wondering why the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have intelligence networks yet nothing has come out of their investigations into these incidents,” he said.    

In a related development, Mayor Arthur Angara said that he will call a dialogue with the PNP for its failure to arrest the deteriorating peace and order situation.

Earlier, he said he was “totally disgusted” with the performance of the PNP in containing these crimes, which, he said, has frightened Balerianos.

Tuesday’s incident is the latest in a series of heists in this capital town here in Aurora as the smallest municipality as the center of education, trade and commerce.

Last month alone, four robbery-holdup incidents were perpetrated one after another, even victimizing a reporter who lost thousand worth of cash to robbers who barged inside his house. The same reporter lost his laptop to unknown intruders last December 24 in a broad day light last year.

Other victims included a prominent contractor, a former provincial board member and a government employee.

Last year, unidentified men held-up the teller of Western Union and took away P1 million in cash and another P900,000 from Aurora Telecoms personnel and a hardware store owner.

The robbers did not spare Angara’s sister, Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo whose generator was stashed away by unknown suspects.

Angara’s own daughter, Councilor Karen Angara-Ularan, tightened security in her own house when a neighbor got nearly victimized by burglars. Ularan said her move was only a precautionary measure to prevent her family from being victimized.

“My father said that it is a reign of terror but for me is not however it is better to be sure than sorry,” she said.

Back to BANTAHAYAN group, Guerrero said that their board of directors and officers are initially set to have an oath taking this 1st week of September. “After this oath taking, we will open new members subject to the screening of the organization,” Guerrero ended in a phone interview. (Jason de Asis)


Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".

Should the Philippine government legalize same-sex marriage?