Thursday, July 7, 2011

Aurora rebel returnee’s village to rise in Maria Aurora town

Photo left: Ltc Decapia, Right: Gov. Angara-Castillo 
CALABUANAN, Baler, Aurora, July 8, 2011-Ltc Kurt A. Decapia, Battalion Commander of the 48th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army revealed yesterday here that Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and Maria Aurora Mayor Ariel Bitong is now seeking for the place for the rebels who returned to the uphold of the law.

“I am very thankful to Gov. Angara-Castillo for her continuous support to Army troopers,” Decapia said, explaining that Angara-Castillo wanted a village for the former rebels in Maria Aurora town where there is free house and lot for them, schools, day care centers, chapels, health centers among others to mention a few of her plan for the former rebels.

Decapia said that 18 former New People’s Army (NPA) were awarded P50,000 worth livelihood assistance each with a total of P900,000 from the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government at the governor’s conference hall at the Capitol during the peace and order council meeting last June 28, 2011.

“Actually, they were 21 NPA to be awarded the cash money but only 18 among them attended,” Decapia said, explaining that the cash money totaled to P1,050,000 if the other 3 are present during that time.

Photo show Ltc Decapia and Mr. Jason de Asis in white T-shirt.
Decapia did not specify why the 3 could not make it to attend on the peace and order council meeting to receive the reward, however, he said that there are 12 former rebels whose papers are still on process to give the same amount for their livelihood.

Decapia said that these former rebels already created their own cooperatives to make sure that their livelihood assistance will surely be productive and sustainable.

“They already established “People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PEACE) credit cooperative who chaired by Ariel Catipon as the chairman of the board,” Decapia said, manifesting that the provincial government is sincere in helping former members of the NPA to start a new life, living in a healthy lives and peaceful means.

Decapia reiterated that the provincial government of Aurora will provide a housing project that will initially provide shelter to at least forty (40) beneficiaries targeted to start on October this year which envisioned as a self sustaining community with schools, health center and livelihood in order for the beneficiaries to have a better life as Angara-Castillo relayed to Decapia.

“The government has always opened its door for the peaceful returns of the NPA. This is an example of our genuine efforts in helping former rebels,” Decapia said.

“We are always encouraging members of the NPA to return to the folds of the law peacefully but we are also always ready to protect the people if they try to destroy the peace and stability of the entire province,” Decapia said, adding that a lot of infrastructure development and increase in economic and tourism activity are now felt as the effect of “Insurgency Free Aurora”. (Jason de Asis)

Bishops to return donated SUVs to PCSO

MANILA, Philippines, July 7, 2011- Catholic bishops who received sports utility vehicles (SUVs) from a state-owned lottery said they are returning them back to the agency.

Among them is Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos who got a P1.629 million-worth Mitsubishi Montero from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in 2009.

“I don’t see any problem with that. I am riding a very old vehicle within the diocese itself. I could even ride a small vehicle if it is necessary. It will not really be a problem,” Pueblos said.

The bishop said he is also willing to attend the ongoing Senate investigation into the alleged anomalous transactions by the PCSO during the Arroyo administration.

“Yes, I would even like to make a privilege speech in Senate,” he said. “It’s a character assassination what they did to me and because of this I have also in sort of to defend myself.”

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said he is willing to return the P1.225 million Mitsubishi Estrada that his diocese bought using the financial aid they received from the PCSO in 2009.

“If they want to get it, it’s ready. We can return it to them,” Jumoad said.

Jumoad reiterated that the pick-up utility vehicle is being used not as his personal car but for medical and relief operations in Basilan.

The present PCSO administration said an audit showed that at least 6.9 million in charity funds were used to buy vehicles upon the request of some bishops.

Such donations, it said, violate a law prohibiting the use of government money for religious purposes.

Bishops Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan and Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon agree that the vehicles should given back to the PCSO to finally put an end to the controversy.

“Just return the vehicles to put an end to this issue. Not doing so will only fuel speculations,” said Iñiguez.

“Return all these vehicles to PNoy (President Aquino). They’ll make it appear that the bishops personally used those vehicles when the bishops didn’t,” Bastes said.

The Aquino administration earlier said they are leaving the decision to the bishops whether or not to return the vehicles.

But Malacañang defended the PCSO expose saying that it is only doing its job of promoting transparency in their search for truth.

Other bishops who received budget for buying an SUV are Archbishops Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Romulo Valles of Zamboanga, Ernesto Salgado ofNueva Segovia, Bishops Rodolfo Beltran of Bontoc-Lagawe, and Leopoldo Jaucian of Abra. (CBCP News)


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