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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The day that was

Yes, it was the past. The future is yet to come.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Preservation of Cebu’s heritage city pressed

House Assistant Majority Leader Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. has filed a bill seeking to proclaim Cebu province’s Carcar City, home to numerous historical structures and artifacts, a national cultural heritage zone. “We have to move fast to protect the integrity of Carcar’s historical and cultural structures, including various works of art, which now form part of the national treasure,” Gullas said in House Bill 1340. Located some 40 kilometers southwest of Cebu City, Carcar boasts an assortment of artistic creations, including architecturally distinctive Spanish to American vintage houses. The city’s classical Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria is likewise admired for its Byzantine design, Greco-Roman altar, and twin bell towers with a minaret, a distinctive architectural feature of mosques. Carcar’s rotunda, a principal landmark, is also unique and remarkable for its shape and scope. “Carcar’s preservation will give more meaning to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to safeguard and popularize our historical resources for the purpose of enriching the national culture,” Gullas said. Carcar was established as a municipality 414 years ago, in 1599. The modern-day Carcar forms part of Metro Cebu, and belongs to Cebu province’s first district, which Gullas represents in Congress. With a population of more than 107,000, Carcar was upgraded into a city only in 2007 through the efforts of then Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, the younger Gullas’s grandfather. Famous for producing ampao, or rice puffs, a native delicacy, and pork chicharon, Carcar is also reputed to be the shoe capital of the Visayas. A heritage zone refers to historical, anthropological, archaeological and artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally important to the country. Once declared a heritage zone, Carcar’s streets, parks, monuments, buildings and even natural bodies of water shall be kept as close as possible to their form when the area was of greatest importance to Philippine history, as determined by the National Historical Institute. The Department of Tourism, in coordination with the Cebu provincial government and the Carcar city government, shall also be required to preserve, restore and maintain the appropriate structures and facilities that would help foster tourism.

Mindanao lawmaker lambasts AFP for buying AMERICAN junk

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate strongly criticized the defense department and the armed forces for acquiring "very expensive junk military equipment" from the US as part of the country’s external defense. “We are now becoming laughing stock of other countries. We bought two very expensive 46-year old decommissioned cutters that defense experts say can be destroyed even by a single torpedo fired by a Chinese warship. It seems that the AFP is not modernizing at all, but, it's engaged in collecting expensive American junk,” said Zarate. Zarate is referring to the country’s recent acquisition of BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a $15.6 million worth Hamilton-class cutter decommissioned by the US Coast Guard and bought by the Department of National Defense (DND) as part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The AFP admitted during Thursday's budget deliberation of the proposed defense department's 2014 budget that the purchased price was taken from the now controversial Malampaya Fund, an off-budget special account under the sole discretion of the Office of the President. In the same budget hearing, the AFP justified its expensive acquisition as an “immediate short-term solution” for the country’s external defense, particularly with the current volatile situation in the West Philippine Sea that is also being claimed by other countries, including China and Vietnam. As part of its extended modernization program, the AFP acquired for $9 Million from the US its first Hamilton Class cutter in 2012.

Bayan Muna urges Congress to regulate ATM transaction fees

Even as the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday announced that it will soon issue a order stopping banks from hiking interbank ATM transaction fees, Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares filed House Bill 2105 calling on Congress to provide for a standard rate of transaction fees and charges on automated teller machines (ATMs) and require the posting of a notice of said fees and charges on ATMs’ screens and monitors prior to the completion of any transaction. The Board's action is pending a review on disclosure requirements to consumers and the actual costs incurred by banks, the BSP reported. This developed as banks like Banco De Oro, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and sister firm Philippine Savings Bank announced that they will hike ATM fees starting Oct. 1. The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) implemented its own fee hike late last year. “Mukhang pataas ng pataas ang sinisingil mula sa atin sa paggamit ng ATM pero ang mga bangko naman talaga ang kumikita dito mula pa dati at pera natin ang ginagamit nila. Ngayon e tataasan pa nila ang kinukuha sa atin. Dapat talaga ay tignan na agad ito ng Kongreso para makita kung totoo ang sinasabi ng mga bangko,” said Rep. Zarate. “We want the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to explain even last year’s ATM increase, particularly by the BPI,” Rep.Zarate added. BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. earlier said that banks are free to impose whatever transaction fee they believe compensates them for the delivery of service but stressed such fees should always be transparent. The BSP also issued an earlier regulatory adjustment discontinuing the practice of compensating the banks with interest income for holding in reserve a portion of their deposits heightened the need to hike the ATM transactions. “Banks already earn profits when the salaries and wages of workers are coursed through them by employers, they should not further extract profit from the workers who need every peso of their earnings,” ended Rep. Zarate. # # #

Solons support inclusive peace process pushed by OPAPP

Manila – Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and Rep. Celso Lobregat on Thursday expressed their support to the pursuit of an inclusive peace process during the deliberation of the House of Representatives on the budget of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP). “We want to make sure that peace in Mindanao will be long lasting and it will be an inclusive peace, not just with one sector,” Lobregat, Zamboanga City representative, said during his interpellation on the OPAPP budget. Rep. Ben P. Evardone of Eastern Samar, House Committee on Appropriations Vice-chairman, sponsor of OPAPP in the budget hearing, responded that it is certainly “the aspiration of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to pursue an inclusive and just peace.” Lobregat also expressed support for achieving peace and development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as it is important for the whole of Mindanao. According to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed last year, the Bangsamoro will be established to replace the ARMM through the passage by Congress of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, drafted by a Transition Commission (TC), and its popular ratification through a plebiscite in the Bangsamoro envisioned territory. On his part, Biazon underscored the importance of having enough time and sufficient monitoring during the transition towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro and its first election in 2016. Evardone said that the “TC is cognizant of timeframe. Hopefully, early next year the basic law will be submitted to Congress.” Saying that the GPH Peace Panel and OPAPP recognize the legislative power of Congress, Evardone said “It will be up to this chamber (the Congress) to decide on the basic law. The government panel recognizes the inherent power of Congress to enact laws that includes amendment or additions (to proposed bills).” #

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Youth groups assail intensified militarization, pushes for GPH-NDFP peace talks

August 12, 2011 – 9:15 am

In time for the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) meeting in Mt. Diwalwal, Compostela Valley Province, progressive youth groups led by Anakbayan held a picket protest to assail the intensifying militarization in the area, which recently displaced around 50 families.

“This recent assault and violation of human rights perpetrated by state forces clearly shows the government’s insincerity in upholding peace in our country. They are creating the conditions for the people to take up arms,” said Anakbayan-SMR regional spokesperson Cherry Orendain.

Anakbayan cited reports from the United People of Mt. Diwata (UPMD) which listed abuses including the violation of the civilians’ right to privacy, and red tagging. The 25th IB of the Philippine Army first conducted a series of malicious census, took pictures of the civilians without prior consent, forcefully gathered personal information including basic information and finally listed the people in their logbooks as New People’s Army (NPA) supporters. State forces further accused the UPMD, which is a legitimate people’s organization, as an NPA front.

Orendain said, “(S)uch accusations have put the civilians’ lives in jeopardy as it made them targets of military operations.”

“Thus there is an objective and material basis for the people to push for the resumption of the peace talks between Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). One of the agendum in the talks is the socio-economic reforms, which should serve the interest of the Filipino people,” stated Orendain.

“The government must address the root cause of social unrest in the country. The armed conflict is not the reason for the absence of peace. Rather, hunger, poverty—the highest forms of violence–and exploitation, should be addressed in order to attain a just and lasting peace. It is high time for the GPH and NDFP panels to resume peace talks and agree on the country’s socio-economic reforms,” she added.

“For the peace talks to resume, it is imperative that the GPH immediately release the NDFP negotiators and consultants whom they have imprisoned based on trumped up, common criminal charges. This act should not be treated as a favor from the GPH as it is stated in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that the negotiators and consultants must not be arrested,” she added.

“We are alarmed by the way our own government treats previous agreements. The burgeoning number of political prisoners clearly indicates the GPH’s lack of respect for signed agreements such as JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). This clearly shows insincerity in the peace talks,” said Orendain.

“We are also alarmed at the recently frequent and provocative statements from President Aquino and the AFP. These are obvious projections from the government on the collapse of the peace talks. We remember that this was the same pattern employed by previous administrations prior to their declaration that the NDFP was accountable for the said failure. It seems that the government is not sincere in ending the worsening hunger and poverty in the country,” Orendain ended. ###

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flood displaces 88,843 in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY—Some 88,843 people from 33 of the 37 villages of this city have been displaced by the flood caused by typhoon Dodong.
The flooding, which started last June 7, has affected a total of 25,375 families of this below sea level city.
The Cotabato Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) had already started to usher more villagers to safer grounds as water level continue to rise, specifically in Barangays Poblacion mother, Poblacion 1 to 4 and 7 to 9, including those from Rosary Heights 2 to 3 and 5 to 9. Bagua 1 and 2, Kalanganan 1 and 2, Tamontaka Mother, Tamontaka 1 to 5 have also been flooded.
The poor affected civilians stayed at the 20 evacuation sites since June 07, 2011. The evacuation sites categorized into 3 categories such as 10 sites using schools, 12 sites using open areas like higher grounds and 8 sites using mosque, chapels, day care centers and multi-purpose centers.
Veranda W. Samson, assistant city social welfare and development officer, said that aside from the fact that the city is below sea level, water lilies have also caused the clogging of river tributaries of Rio Grande de Mindanao, causing an overflow of water from the largest river in Mindanao.
“We have to accept the reality that Cotabato City is below sea level and we are the catcher of the water from the upstream,” Samson said while reporting that they had been trying to provide food and other relief assistance to the flood victims.
“I think we need to strengthen the capability building of the barangays to respond the case of calamities. Mitigation and disaster preparedness on the part of the stakeholders are very important,” she said while recalling several flooding that happened in the city in the recent past.
Dr. Marlow O. Ninal, the city health officer said they were doing their best to deliver the priority health needs for the flood victims who are in 20 evacuation sites.
Many of these evacuation sites are makeshift tents established along the roads and bridges with no access to drinking water and toilet facilities. Among the common diseases monitored in evacuation sites are cough, fever, diarrhea, skin lesions, cough and fever, the city health officer said.
Patients with cough registered 101, fever 70, skin lesions 63, cough with fever 60, wound 36 and diarrhea 30, among others, bared Ninal, who believed that the illnesses were caused by poor sanitation in the tents.
“We have adequate medicines so far. We are also supplying drinking waters and portable toilets. We have 10 functional health centers and eight temporary health centers that are open 24 hours,” he said.
The city had been experiencing flooding since 1990. In August 2008, typhoon Frank hit 29 barangays of the area. Thousands of residents of the city also fled their homes due to flooding in September also of 2008. Typhoon Jolina also hit the city in 2009.