Saturday, January 19, 2013

Legarda Deplores Troubling Pattern of Environmental Assault Resulting from US Ship Visits

MANILA, January 19, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda expressed concern over what she said was a “troubling pattern of environmental assault” that has resulted from the visits by United States naval ships in the country.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noted the failure by the US authorities to coordinate the movements and route of the USS Guardian while in Philippine waters.

“Our Visiting Forces Agreement  (VFA) and other treaties with the United States government is not a free pass so US ships and military personnel can do as they wish in our country, including the destruction of the environment and protected sites in our country,” the Senator said.

On Thursday, the USS Guardian, a minesweeper, grazed parts of the Tubbataha Reef and eventually got stuck some 80 miles off Palawan.  Some reports indicate that at least 10 linear meters of the reef may have been damaged.

Legarda now wants the Presidential Commission on the VFA (VFACOM) and the Philippine Coast Guard to explain how the USS Guardian was allowed to venture into the Tubbataha Reef. 

“The VFACOM is tasked to monitor, in coordination with appropriate government agencies and NGOs, the activities of foreign military and civilian personnel,” Legarda said.  “What kind of coordination was carried out when officials on board the USS Guardian refused to respond to the radio calls made by Philippine authorities who were investigating their presence in our protected area?” the Senator asked.

Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009 declares the area off limits to ships, the area being a protected site.  The Tubbataha management office said the US ship entered these areas without permission and failed to coordinate with environmental officials.

“This incident behooves me to ask if our so-called military allies are even aware of the laws that they have to respect and observe while they are in our country,” the Senator added.

Executive Order 199 mandates the VFACOM to “ensure respect for Philippine laws, state policies, public morals, customs and traditions and strict compliance with the provisions of the VFA and the rules and regulations promulgated by the concerned Departments and Agencies.”

It may be recalled that in October 2012, the US navy contractor, Glenn Marine Defense Asia Philippines, was found to have dumped into the seawaters under the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, hundreds of thousands of liters of sewage waste collected from visiting US ships, in contravention of Philippine and international laws and regulations.  Legarda conducted an investigation on the matter and is expected to release the report.

“While we obviously need to make the US accountable for the destruction they caused, more importantly, we need to look beyond the ‘pesos and cents’ and see how instruments such as the VFA can truly serve our national interest,” the Senator said. 

“An accounting needs to be done, not just of this recent incident, but of the totality of the activities done under the ambit of the VFA over the past decade” Legarda concluded.

Nueva Ecija has 12,830 loose guns--PNP

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, January 19, 2013–The province of Nueva Ecija – listed an election “hot spot” due to intense political rivalries among politicians and past incidents of political violence - is teeming with loose firearms with some 12,800 guns in the hands of various individuals, the Philippine National Police reported yesterday.
          Senior Superintendent Crisaldo Nieves, newly installed PNP provincial director, said the total number of loose firearms in the province has reached 12,830 based on figures released by the Firearms and Explosives Division.
          Nieves admitted that the figures are alarming considering that the province has been classified as an election “hot spot.” He said the PNP is exerting efforts to recover these firearms so that they will never be utilized in the coming May elections.
          Loose firearms refer to guns with expired licenses, or which licenses have not been renewed, have been revoked or been categorized as “wanted.” A firearm is considered expired and unrenewed when its license has not been touched for the last two years. It is categorized as revoked or wanted beyond two years.
          Of the 12,830, some 4,619 were considered expired and unrenewed were revoked or wanted.
          These guns are divided into high- and low-powered firearms. High-powered guns include shotgun, 357 revolver, Magnum 44 revolver, sub-machinegun, M-16, M-14 and Garand rifles, Carbine and Galil rifles. 
          Nieves made the revelation during a press conference at the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office where he and Chief Superintendent Wendy Rosario, chief of the Regional Special Operations Task Group (RSOTG) presented to newsmen 456 loose guns recovered in a series of operations by the provincial police and the RSOTG.  
          Del Rosario said the recovery of these guns might help reduce crimes in the province. “Imagine, if we were not able to recover these guns, we might have a higher crime incidence,” he said.
          Of these firearms, 60 were confiscated in checkpoints and under “Oplan Bakal” and “Oplan Sita” while nine were seized during the implementation of the gun ban. Another nine were recovered in armed encounters and during the serving of search warrants.
          Nieves said a total of 387 firearms were surrendered by gun holders.
          Cabanatuan accounts for one-fourth of the number of loose firearms in the province with 3,507, according to police chief, Superintendent Eli Depra.
Police Superintendent Peter Madria, deputy provincial director for operations, said they have accounted for 10,806 firearms holders in the province of whom 1,604 renewed their licenses, 490 moved their addresses, 231 could not be located, 379 licensees were dead and 22 guns whose registered licensees have fictitious names. (Manny Galvez)  

15 of 27 Ecija towns, 4 of 5 cities tagged election “hot spots”

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, January 19, 2013–Fifteen of Nueva Ecija’s 27 municipalities and four of its five cities – or roughly 60 percent -  have been tagged by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as election “hot spots.”
          Senior Superintendent Crisaldo Nieves, PNP provincial police director, said the areas in their election watchlist are the cities are Cabanatuan, Gapan, Muñoz and San Jose and the towns of Aliaga, Bongabon, Cuyapo, Gabaldon, Gen. Natividad, Guimba,  Jaen, Licab,Lupao, Quezon, Rizal, San Isidro, Talugtog, San Antonio and Sto. Domingo.
          Among cities, only Palayan was not included in the list, while among towns, those not included were Cabiao, Carranglan, Laur, Llanera, Nampicuan, Pantabangan, Peñaranda, San Isidro, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, Talavera and Zaragoza.
          Nieves said that an area is categorized as an election hot spot based on the following parameters : the presenc e of private armed groups, intense political rivalries, election-related incidents, shooting incidents victimizing elected government officials, the proliferation of losse firearms, barangay affectation, the presence of organized crime groups and other threat groups.
          Cabanatuan, the province’s commercial and trade center, leads the list due to the intense rivalry between reelectionist Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara and Board Member Emmanuel Antonio Umali, younger brother of reelectionist Gov. Aurelio Umali. Both camps traded barbs in the run-up to the aborted December 1 plebiscite to ratify Presidential Proclamation 480 converting the city into a highly urbanized city.
          The mayoral contest in Gapan is considered heated due to the rivalry between reelectionist Mayor Christian Tinio and Maricel Natividad, scion of ex-three term mayor Ernesto Natividad who has gone into hiding for his involvement in the 2006 raid of a cockpit arena of a political rival whose two sons were among those killed.
          In Muñoz, comebacking former three-term mayor Nestor Alvarez is facing Vice Mayor Esther Lazaro in a reprise of a brief power grab by the vice mayor who occupied city hall following the brief disappearance of Alvarez’s brother, Mayor Efren Alvarez over a criminal case.
          In the case of San Jose, it will be a rematch between reelectionist Mayor Marivic Belena and estranged brother-in-law, ex-vice mayor Mario Salvador who lost to her in the 2010 polls.
          In Palayan City, the contest between businesswoman Rianne Cuevas and comebacking former three-term mayor Pacifico Fajardo, also a former three-term congressman is considered not as heated  and politically charged to declare inclusion in the watch list. (Manny Galvez)         


MANILA, January 19, 2013-Senator Francis 'Kiko' Pangilinan urges the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be relentless in weeding out 'rotten apples' from within their ranks and gain the confidence of the people they were sworn to protect.

"It is unfortunate that the PNP and the AFP are tagged in another controversy with the Antimonan shooting. But this is a battery test for these agencies in their capacity to police their ranks. The PNP and the AFP need to work on addressing these scalawags as a means to help improve its image."

Pangilinan lauds the Department of Interior and Local Government as well as the Department of Justice for their swift and decisive actions in taking to task those involved in the Antimonan shooting, wherein 13 victims were said to be summarily executed. Pangilinan also called on the National Bureau of Investigation to shape up, as it too found itself landing in the news for an embarassing shootout within its compound after an altercation among agents during a drinking spree.

"The PNP and the AFP were never quite able to improve their image as far as abuse of authority is concerned. Even the NBI would routinely find itself in the middle of controversies. These agencies are our protectors and keepers of the peace. As long as there are rotten apples in these agencies, the peace and order situation in the country cannot be properly addressed. Needless to say, whatever gains the Philippines may achieve in terms of economic prosperity would be for naught if investors feel they cannot safely conduct their businesses here."

Legarda Spends Big on Schools

MANILA, January 19, 2013-Believing that upgrading the quality of Philippine education is a good investment for the country,Senator Loren Legarda has allocated a significant amount of her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms and school buildings.

From 2010-2012, Legarda allocated a total of 146 million pesos for the construction and rehabilitation of 291 classrooms and school buildings in various parts of the country.

“Placing high priority on education will be one of the best investments we can make. Aside from legislation, allocating significant portion of my PDAF to building classrooms and schools is one way to help upgrade the country’s education system,” she stressed.

“I am fully supportive of the highly motivated attitude with which the administration is addressing the backlog in classrooms. The government aims to achieve zero backlog in classrooms by 2013. This, along with the other reforms in our education system, will help us ensure a better-educated Filipino youth,” she said.

Ensuring good quality education that is accessible especially to indigent Filipino youth has long been part of Legarda’s advocacies. She established the Libro ni Loren Foundation, which provides scholarship to poor but deserving children and helps improve the literacy level in the poorest provinces through its Book Donation Program where textbooks, dictionaries and other reading materials are donated to public libraries nationwide.

Legarda Visits Science City of Muñoz

MANILA, January 19, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda will address today participants and guests at the “Search for Mutya ng Lungsod Agham ng Muñoz 2013” at the Science City of Muñoz Pag-asa Multipurpose Gym. 

“Today marks the 100th Founding Anniversary and the 12th Charter Anniversary of the Science City of Muñoz. The city is envisioned to be at the forefront of research and innovation in agriculture, education, agro-tourism, and even culture, and they deserve our full encouragement and support. I wish to impart to them the available forms of assistance for the agricultural sector, our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and even our indigenous cultural communities,” she said.

Legarda, author of the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, noted that the law requires banks to allocate 25% of their loanable funds to the agriculture sector to finance the acquisition of work animals, farm equipment or machinery, seeds, fertilizers, livestock, feeds and/or other similar items for farm production.

“The spirit of the law is to boost the agriculture sector and to promote livelihood among agrarian reform beneficiaries,” she added.

The Senator, also author of the MSME Law as well as the Barangay Kabuhayan Law, will speak about the utilization of available resources in the country, encouragement of the development of the exceptional creativity and artistry of Filipinos, and promotion of the growth of MSMEs as main drivers of our economy.

“Aside from being the lifeblood of the Philippine economy, MSMEs are powerful platforms for promotion of viable rural livelihoods, cultural preservation, socio-economic empowerment of indigenous peoples, and environmental protection,” she said.

“As we celebrate such an auspicious day for residents of the Science City of Muñoz, I aim to showcase our efforts to help the concerned sectors and inspire them to achieve many more milestones in research and development,” Legarda concluded.


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?