PIA News Service - Monday, August 17, 2009

“There is a need to educate on IHL…”, says CHR chief
.
BUTUAN CITY (August 17) – “…there is a need to educate both parties on the Geneva Conventions and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Based on investigations, both parties have violated the law because of ignorance,” says Director Marilyn Pintor of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) during a press conference held here recently in commemoration of the IHL month celebration. 
.
The statement is Director Pintor’s reply to queries on whether parties to the internal conflict in the Philippines, the New Peoples Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has committed violations to the Geneva Conventions or to the IHL. 
.
Director Pintor reveals that despite IHL there are certain violations of both parties. Foremost are the use of landmines and the alleged recruitment of minors by the NPA. Director Pintor explains that these violations usually occur because of ignorance to the IHL. 
.
Director Pintor also disclosed that violations of both parties to IHL often go unpunished because of lack of domestic laws penalizing violators of IHL. 
.
“Unfortunately, there are no domestic laws that could penalize violators of the IHL. Although some provisions of our law complement IHL, there are provisions of IHL that do not have domestic counterparts,” bared Director Pintor. 
.
Cases were already filed against those who have violated the law. Several activities were also undertaken by the commission to address the gap in the information dissemination of the law. Among these is the conduct of IHL orientation to government troops, circulation of a communiquĆ© on IHL and publication and distribution of IEC materials on IHL. 
.
Atty. Ernesto Brocoy, IHL Committee Chairman reiterates the need to widen advocacy on IHL for all concern to be able to adhere to the law. 
.
“There is really a need to reinforce IHL for both parties to adhere,” says Atty. Brocoy.
.
The press conference was conducted under the auspices of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) in commemoration of the IHL month celebration. The press conference aimed to increase awareness on the basic principles of IHL and promote its observance in times of armed conflict. 
.
To commemorate the IHL month, a walk for a cause was also conducted. Volunteers from the different schools in the city, representatives from the different local government units (LGUs) and national line agencies, as well as non-government organization participated in the activity.
.
Volunteers present during the “walk for a cause” also made a human formation of IHL to remind those present that even in war there are limits. 
.
A slogan making contest was also conducted during the culmination program following the walk. Winners of the contest were all students of Agusan National High School. (Lovely Laudette Gamba, PIA-Caraga)
.
.
BCWD privatization: Creating equity to Butuanons access to cheaper water rates, better service
.
BUTUAN CITY (August 17) – The struggle over water is certainly not a new phenomenon. A series of discussions, meetings, SP Committee hearings have been conducted by different agencies in the government including NGO’s in an effort to resolve the Taguibo Watershed Issue that allegedly affects the quality of water supplied by Butuan City Water District (BCWD).
.
However, in the morning of August 15, a press conference was held by People’s Movement for Socio Economic Development (PMSed) with Head Convenor Roberto Rosales who presented a whole new idea that will accordingly reduce payments of water bills benefiting BCWD consumers and could result to better management of the utility.
.
In a letter dated July 3, 2009 to Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman of the Board, Prospero Pichay Jr. the movement proposed for BCWD’s privatization allowing consumers to become stakeholders.
.
Under the PMSed proposed privatization plan, it was being offered to pay off the existing 1 billion peso loan obligations of BCWD to LWUA.
.
 By allowing consumers to be stakeholders, it was also being proposed to convert their deposits into equity contribution and be accorded 35-45% of the total equity contribution giving the people of Butuan a chance to be members of the board, while the 55% will be offered to interested local businessmen.
.
With the contention that BCWD is to go up against privatization, instead of proposing a total overhaul of the top management level, PMSed Head Convenor Roberto Rosales said, “there will be an option of retaining them from their position as they are more knowledgeable of the operation.”
.
The Taguibo Watershed controversy have always posed a major challenge to the people of Butuan, but with the privatization plan it is now the local media industry that was being challenged by Mr. Rosales for the realization of said proposal.
.
The media, as catalyst for change will lead Butuanons in convincing the majority to support and lobby for BCWD’s conversion into a public corporation.
.
Rosales revealed, PMSed’s letter to LWUA Board Chairman Prospero Pichay seeking his support for the privatization proposal has something to do with BCWD’s 1 billion total loan to LWUA.
.
During the said press conference, part also of the revelation is LWUA’s alleged disclosure of more than 140 million loans for BCWD’s mechanical filtration plant which includes the installation of 7 micro filter projects contrary to what has been divulged to the public which is only 83 million.
.
Said micro filter supposed to be BCWD’s solution of providing continuous water supply despite turbidity in its water source in Taguibo River.
.
Another revelation according to Mr. Rosales is the fact that BCWD is not in the position to get hold of a new loan outside LWUA. 
.
“Acquiring another multi-million loan to purchase from Israel the 7 micro filters now installed by BCWD according to LWUA Board Chairman Prospero Pichay can put them in jail,” said Mr. Rosales.
.
As the technical advisory service and financial provider of water districts n the Philippines, LWUA’s policy states that a waiver has to be executed first to grant authority to water districts to obtain loans from other lending institutions if the funding requirement is not available from LWUA or the project being endorsed for funding was not approved.
.
In BCWD’s case, it needs such waiver after LWUA disapproved the granting of additional funding requirement of the micro filter project in which it did not obtain. 
.
The challenge of PMSed to the local media to build an alliance in an effort to get the public’s support to convince LWUA Board Chairman Pichay to let water consumers become part owners of BCWD and in the hope to be replicated in other areas in the country gained favourable response. (Jocelyn E. Morano, Radyo ng Bayan Butuan)
.
.
Press Release/15 August 2009
.
50% discounted essential drugs starts today – DOH
.
The Department of Health (DOH) today announced the start of the availability of selected essential drugs and medicines at 50% reduced prices in all drug retail outlets across the country. 
.
The good news came after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accepted the letter of undertaking of pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily reduce prices of 16 common and expensive medicines and signed on July 27 Executive Order 821 that prescribes the maximum drug retail price (MDRP) for 5 selected drugs and medicines for diseases that account for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.
.
“A total of 21 molecules/medicines and all their different preparations under the MDRP and GMA-P list will be available to the public at half their original prices starting today in all drug retail outlets and hospital pharmacies nationwide. We are very optimistic that this development will boost the purchase power of our financially-strapped fellow Filipinos who want to avail of needed medicines but cannot due to its exorbitant prices,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said. 
.
The health chief said that the public can look up the new prices of these selected essential drugs and medicines in the posters displayed in drug retail outlets and hospital pharmacies and in newspaper advertisements.
.
Duque said that drug outlets expected to implement the MDRP and GMA-P lists include drugstores and hospital pharmacies, especially those with automated systems. He said that for those with manual systems, non-compliance by September 15 will mean penalties and sanctions after due process.
.
The health chief stressed that drugs and medicines whose generic names are listed in EO 821 could not be sold above the corresponding MDRP.
.
“Although selected branded drugs are now 50% cheaper, we, however, would like to re-emphasize that generic medicine is just as good as their branded counterparts and is generally affordable. We should always look for medicines that we can afford,” Duque advised, noting that there are Generic Menu Cards in each and every drug retail outlet that the public can look at to provide them with information on the prices of medicines and of all generic equivalents.
.
Duque also reminded the public that prescription medicines must only be dispensed with a doctor’s prescription and must only be bought in pharmacies and not in doctor’s clinics in compliance with the Pharmacy Law.
.
“Now that medicine prices are going down and maintenance medication and antibiotics are becoming more affordable, patients should now complete their antibiotic courses and become more compliant with their daily maintenance medicines. In doing so, we hope to achieve better health outcomes, less complications and improved quality of life,” Duque said.
.
Duque said that there will certainly be price differentials due to the lowering prices but this should not be shouldered by retailers but by manufacturers. He said that “It is now up to the drugstores and hospital pharmacies to iron out details on rebates for products/inventories that were bought at higher prices. But the assurance is there in black and white that the companies concerned will shoulder the cost for the price differentials”.
.
“All drug dispensing outlets, be it DOH hospitals or other government and private entities, should comply with these new policies. We are setting up complaints desks in all Centers for Health Development offices in the country to take in calls or reports regarding outlets that are not complying with the law,” Duque said. (DOH)
.
.
Sustainable Forest Management lessens ecological disasters
.
Amid wanton destruction of Philippine forests, described as the most rapid and most massive in the world, various NGOs and environmentalists see sustainable forest management a crucial undertaking as we face the global threats of climate change. 
.
Authorities say that the never-ending denudation of already limited forest cover results to ecological and economic disasters. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, at least 163,000 hectares of forest is lost every year. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lists, “some 38 areas nationwide are prone to frequent landslides and flooding, most of which are located in the heavily denuded forest areas.”
.
While efforts have been started since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, much needs to be realized. The once lush Philippine forest cover estimated at 21 million hectares in 1990 or 70% of the country’s total land area was reduced to a measly 800,000 hectares or 18% after a decade. By 2010, Philippine forest cover is projected to be reduced to an upsetting 266,666 hectares or six percent (6%).  
.
Meanwhile, House Bill 137 titled “An Act Instituting a Self-Sustaining Forest Management Program, by Providing Incentives to Tree Planters on Private Lands, Forest Lands, and other Public Lands and for Other Purposes or the “Tree for Legacy Act of 2007” filed by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara empowers the citizenry in sharing with the national government and local government units the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their community.
.
The bill explains that “there is no single solution to all the ecological and economic disasters but the “Tree for Legacy Act” as a Forest Management Program is certainly one of them”. The bill’s objectives are consistent with Executive Order 263 and 318 in promoting community-based approaches in attaining sustainable forest management in the country. The bill encourages tree plantation development from both private and public lands, which is very important in integrated watershed management. 
.
Ramon San Pascual, Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) said, “Once enacted, this bill will provide the mechanisms in ensuring sustainable forest management that will consequently contribute in reducing ecological and economic threats posed by climate change.” 
.
For clarifications and interviews, please contact Vigie at Mobile No. 0918-2936786 or landlines 925-1800, 436-2373 local 6. (Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc.)
.
.
Cebuano News: Panggamhanan sa probinsya ubos sa pagpangulo ni Gov. Ace Barbers mihatag na usab ug scholarship grants sa halos 53 ka mga kabatan-onan
.
Aron sa paghatag katumanan sa mga pangandoy sa mga kabus nga kabatan-onan nga makatungha sa kolehiyo, ang kadumalahan sa probinsya nga gipanguluhan ni Gov. Robert Ace Barbers, mihatag na usab ug laing educational assistance sa may singkwentay-tres (53) ka mga tinun-an sa high school nga mipasar sa standards nga gikinahanglan sa maong programa.
.
Sa nasayran, aduna nay 152 ka mga scholars ang una ng gihatagan sa maong pribiliheyo, diin kini sila nagpadayon karon sa ilang ikaduha nga tuig sa pagtungha sa kolehiyo ug karon nga tuig, nadungagan na usab kini sa mga bag-ong han-ay sa mga scholars.
.
Ang maong Scholarship Grant magamit sa pipila ka mga tulungha-an dinhi sa probinsya sama sa Surigao State College of Technology ug sa Surigao del Norte College of Agriculture and Technology.
.
Ang maong mga scholars makabaton ug ubay-ubay nga mga benipisyo sama sa regular o binulan nga allowance, laing allowance usab para sa ilang mga proyekto sa matag semester, libre nga tuition ug uban pang balayronon sa eskwelahan. Ang mga bag-ong scholars makadawat lamang sa ilang full-scholarship human nga ilang mapasa ang tanang gikinahanglang papeles, intervierw ug kung sila makapasa usab sa entrance examination nga ipahigayon sa nagkadaiyang tulungha-an.
.
Gilauman ni Gov. Ace Barbers nga ang maong mga scholars magmadasigon sa pagtungha ug ila gayud nga paningkamutan nga matapos nila ang ilang tagsa-tagsa nga mga korso aron nga sila usab mamahimong inspirasyon diha sa uban ug pinaagi niini dako ang ilang mahitampo ug maitabang sa katilingban. (PGO-Media Bureau/ PIA-Surigao del Norte)
.
.
Cebuano News: Gov Ace Barbers giaprubahan ang Php 1 ka milyon nga budget alang sa Internet Access sa napulo ka Public Secondary Schools sa Probinsya
.
Si Gov. Robert Ace Barbers migahin ug usa ka milyon (Php 1M) nga pondo alang na sa paglusad ug “internet connectivity” sa napulo ka mga public secondary schools dinhi sa probinsya. Inubanan sa hiniusang pakigtambayayungay sa Department of Education ug Ayala Foundation Incorporated, si Gov. Ace Barbers mipirma sa usa ka Memorandum ug Agreement nga ipadayon ang DepEd Internet Connectivity project (DICP) dinhi sa lalawigan sa Surigao del Norte.
.
Ang maong proyekto nakahatag ug dakong tabang sa pipila ka mga kabatan-onan dinhi sa atong dapit nga walay halos kasayuran sa nagkataas nga panginahanglanon karon sa gitawag nga “advanced information technology”. Tungod niini, si Gov. Ace mihimo ug mga lakang aron nga dili mahikawan ang mga tinun-an nga anaa nagtungha sa mga hilit nga kabarangayan.
.
Sa maong pagtambayayungay, ang Ayala Foundation Incorporated mohatag sa mga kahimanan sa teknolohiya sama sa computer servers, printers ug local area networking peripherals ug isip kabahinan sa kadumalahan sa probinsya, mohatag sila sa pondo aron sa paghimo sa mga computer laboratories sa matag eskuylahan.
.
Si Gov Ace Barbers mi aprubar sa paghatag sa maong proyekto sa mga mosunod nga mga tulungha-an dinhi sa probinsya:
1. Alegria National High school
2. Cantapoy National High School
3. Lasicam Perral National High School
4. Lakandula National High School
5. Malimono National High School
6. Mayag national High School
7. Paco National High School
8. Pili National High School
9. Placer National High School
10. Villariza National High School
.
Gipanghinaut sa batan-ong Gobernador nga ang maong tabang makahatag ug dakong kabag-ohan ug kadasig sa mga tinun-an sa sekondarya nga mas maningkamot ug ila usab nga ampingan ang maong mga kahimanan aron kini mapuslan pa sa mga mosunod nga henerasyon. (PGO-Media Bureau/ PIA-Surigao del Norte)
.
.

POLICE REPORTS
By PO3 Philip Amer Posas Mazo; PO2 Darlin Cabalinan-Migullas; and PO3 Arturo Suganob Campania
.
Arrest of illegal drugs suspects 
On August 12, 2009 around 10:00 in the evening at Purok-1 Barangay 9 Poblacion, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, elements of Buenavista Municipal Police Station led by PSI Artemio S Suarez apprehended one Ronald Ramacola , 24 years old, single and a resident of the above-mentioned place for Violation of RA 9165. 
.
Ramacola was caught possessing one small sachet of suspected shabu, two pieces empty sachet with residue of suspected shabu, one plastic container of "tawas", and aluminum foils. 
.
A case for Violation of Section 15 Article II of RA 9165 was filed at the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in an inquest proceeding under NPS no. XIII-02-INQ-09H-00065. 
.
Suspect is now detained at Buenavista Municipal Police Station for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)  
.
Report on shooting incident 
.
On August 14, 2009 around 6:30 o'clock in the morning at Purok 1-A Barangay Urbiztundo, Claver, Surigao del Norte, one Joveliano Almazan aka "Titing", 40 years old, married, a security guard of Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation (OSMC) was abducted at his residence by more or less ten armed men believed to be members of local Communist Terrorists (CTs) wearing black uniform with their weapons tied with orange signage. 
.
Joveliano Almazan was then brought to the mountainous area of the said place and was shot to death using an unknown caliber of firearm. Meanwhile, 40 other members of the group provided blocking forces. Afterwards the CT group immediately withdrew towards Barangay Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte.
.
The victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds in his body which resulted to his instant death. Claver Municipal Police Station personnel were able to recover two spent shells of M16 at the crime scene and still conducting thorough investigation to determine the motive behind the killing and to identify the leader of the group for filing of appropriate case in court. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)  
.
Intercepted explosive ingredients 
.
828 sticks of dynamite and 3.6 meters of connector were intercepted by joint elements of Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Port Authority, AFP K-9 unit, Surigao City Police Station and Surigao del Norte PPO at Lipata Ferry Terminal on August 14, 2009 at around 11:40 in the evening.
.
Said explosive ingredients were loaded on a ten-wheeler container truck bearing plate number UTP-813 driven by Edgar Gualtea Navarro with helper Hilarion Gualtea Escala and escorted by PO1 Moises Castillo Cuenca of Special Mobile Group/Malampataya Task Force stationed at Batangas PPO.
.
Initial investigation disclosed that the said items were owned by Monti-Vil Trading, one of the contractors for road development along Tandag-Barobo area to be ferried from their magazine at Comval Provincial Office compound, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province to Batangas.
.
However, when the composite team verified the legality of the aid items for transport, the driver and the escort failed to show pertinent documents. Intercepted items are now under the custody of Surigao City Police Station for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)  

PNP arrests wanted persons 
.
On August 14, 2009 at around 9:00 o'clock in the morning at Pizarro Street, Butuan City, one Loriejane Digamon, 37 years old, married and a resident of District 3, Kinabjangan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte was arrested by elements of Butuan City Police Station (BCPS) 1 led by PO3 Alex Barrios by virtue of Warrant of Arrest (WOA) issued by Hon. Augustus Calo, Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 5, Butuan City, docketed under criminal case number 13555 with recommended bail bond of PhP18,000.00.
.
Said suspect was turned-over to the issuing court for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)
.
Report on vehicular accident 
.
On August 14, 2009 at around 11:00 o clock in the evening, one unit Hi-Lux pick-up bearing plate number LHI-258, color white driven by SSgt Rolando Ecobar, of legal age, married and a resident of Sta. Irene, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur with two companions on board identified as Major Agapito Acebes, Philippine Army, married and a resident of Bohol and one German Lumimbay, 23 years old, single, a resident of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur and member of Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) presently detailed at 401st Brigade, PA when traveling along the National Highway of Purok-7, Barangay Wakat, Barobo, Surigao del Sur and while negotiating a left curve, the driver lost control that resulted the vehicle to turn upside down.
.
Victims were brought to D.O Plaza Memorial Hospital, Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur by the responding elements of Barobo Municipal Police Station but unfortunately, CAA German Lumimbay was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician while Major Agapito Acebes and SSgt Rolando Escobar are now under medical treatment. Further investigation is still going on. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)  
.
Report on shooting incident 
.
On August 15, 2009 at 10:15 in the evening at Purok 8, Cutamora Subdivision, Barangay Taglatawan, Bayugan City, a certain Jover San Juan Gilagila, 22 years old, single and a certain Wilson Sarque Esturba, 22 years old, both residents of said place were shot by Pastor Trongcoso Dultra, 55 years old, married, Local Government Employee of Bayugan City and resident of Purok-6, Barangay Maygatasan, Bayugan City using cal .45 pistol.
.
Victims sustained multiple GSW on the different parts of their body and were immediately rushed to New Bayugan Medical Hospital and later evacuated to DOP Memorial Hospital for further medical treatment. PNP elements of Bayugan Police Station led by PO3 Rodrigo Coton proceeded to the area and conducted hot pursuit operation which resulted to the apprehension of the suspect.
.
Recovered and confiscated from suspect's possession were one cal .45 pistol Norinco, model 1911, bearing serial no. 844829 and one magazine without ammunitions. Further investigation revealed that the victims together with some unidentified companions allegedly all armed with sharp bladed weapon harassed the suspect and defended himself by firing upon the aforesaid victims.
.
Recovered from the crime scene were three long sharp bladed instrument and two hunting knives allegedly owned by the victims and their companions. Motive-misunderstanding. Progress report to follow. 
.
Also, at 12:00 midnight of the same date, SPO1 Jonelito Estebe, a member of Malimono Municipal Police Station was shot allegedly by Communist Terrorists (CTs) at the Gymnasium of Barangay Cansayong, Malimono, Surigao Del Norte.
.
Victim sustained lone gunshot wound on his neck and immediately rushed to Caraga Regional Hospital for medical treatment. Investigation conducted disclosed that SPO1 Estebe and three others policemen, all members of Malimono Municipal Police Station were performing official duties providing security during the fiesta of said Barangay when a commotion transpired inside the Barangay Gymnasium, SPO1 Estebe and his comrades responded to pacify those involved in the said trouble.
.
However, he was shot by the suspect afterwhich took his issued firearm, and fled heading towards Barangay Cantapoy of said municipality. Hot pursuit operation is still going on with coordination of friendly forces in the area.
(PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)  
.
Report on illegal logging 
.
Joint elements of Malimono Municipal Police Station led by SPO3 Antonio C Cayasa and DENR personnel Mr Jerry Cortes and Mr Noel Nambatac recovered 18 pieces abandoned sawn lumbers of different sizes on August 14, 2009 at 10:00 in the morning at Barangay Cantapoy, Malimono, Surigao del Norte.
.
Said lumbers approximately 543.66 board feet with a total estimated market value of Php 10,000.00 were allegedly owned by a certain Susan Bujuyo, of legal age, married and resident of Opol, Misamis Oriental. 
.
Recovered lumbers are now under the custody of DENR, Surigao City for proper disposition. (PNP-13/ PIA-Caraga)