1.08.2011

PIA News Service - Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011

Butuan CDCC holds emergency meeting to address calamity

By: Agnes B. Tumulak

BUTUAN CITY - On Thursday (January 6) at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) here spearheaded by Honorable Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante Jr. conducted a meeting to discuss about the situation of the city due to the impending flood threat brought about by the heavy downpour of rain since last Sunday (Jan. 2). It was also organized to formulate rescue plans and procedures for immediate response to the current situation of the city.

The meeting was attended by the office heads of various departments at Butuan City Hall together with the line agencies of the relief operation like Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Air Force of the Philippines (AFP), and other non-government organizations like Philippine Red Cross and Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) team in the city.

The agenda during the meeting were: Rescue teams and groups are expected to stay on alert to address any assistance and emergency cases of the people even though the rain has stopped; DepEd Butuan issued a suspension order of classes to all elementary and secondary both public and private schools in the city (effective Jan. 4 and was lifted by Jan. 5 except to those areas still flooded);

Communication should be strengthened between the rescue team and relief operation group with the Barangay officials of the affected barangays for easy and immediate response to every need.

By declaring the city under the State of Calamity through the SP Ordinance No. 004-2011, the government could gain access to the 30% calamity fund which could be of great help to the relief and rescue operation of the team.

During the rescue act, more than 62 barangays consisting of 17,565 families in Butuan City were submerged to flood waters with more than 22 million pesos were tallied as agricultural damages and worthing 11 million pesos for infrastructure damages.

Hon. Amante extends his gratefulness and recognized the efforts of all line agencies and support groups by giving them certificates of appreciation for their immediate assistance and strong cooperation to help the families in distress due to the calamity. (PIO-Butuan City/PIA-Caraga)

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Legarda meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, prods PH’s continuous support to restoration of democracy in Burma

Senator Loren Legarda today called for the Philippine government’s active role and continuous support to the restoration of democratic rule in Myanmar (Burma).

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, made the statement after a recent meeting with Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma).

According to the Senator, Aung San Suu Kyi believes that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will play a very essential role in restoring the democratic institutions in Myanmar (Burma), in the same way as African nations played a significant part in resolving political disputes in Ivory Coast.

“The release of Aung San Suu Kyi last November sent us a signal that the restoration of democratic rule in Myanmar (Burma) could be on the way. We hailed her release, a hard-fought freedom that translates to a victory for democracy. Now, as member of the ASEAN, we must continue to call on Myanmar (Burma) authorities to take concrete steps towards a fair political system that would allow the involvement of all its citizens in the country's political affairs,” Legarda said.

Legarda added that Aung San Suu Kyi said she will only take part in Myanmar’s Elections under an “inclusive political process”, in which all citizens of Myanmar (Burma) can freely participate.

“We all need to do our part in helping nations, especially our neighbors in Asia, become practising democracies—the kind that works better for development. Aung San Suu Kyi has thanked President Aquino for calling her after she was released from house arrest, and she continues to be grateful to us for our consistency and vigilance in expressing our views and concerns relative to the restoration of democracy in Myanmar (Burma),” Legarda said.

“As a democratic nation, let us continue to encourage and support other nations whose citizens would also want to experience the kind of liberty that we already have—that freedom which allows all of us to use our knowledge, skills, and talent to take part in nation building,” she concluded. (Office of Senator Loren Legarda/PIA-Caraga)

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Chiz says vagrancy not a crime

Senator Chiz Escudero wants to strike out vagrancy from the country’s code of crimes, saying this provision only targets the poor and the disadvantaged.

Escudero proposed the decriminalization of vagrancy under Senate Bill No. 2367 because homelessness and lack of opportunities to earn a living is a minor infraction, if at all, and thus should not be lumped together with criminal acts.

He said vagrancy was often used to take advantage of people who could not really stand up for themselves.

“Take the case of that woman who was arrested by a policeman for vagrancy. She was not even loitering, yet she was arrested. Now she’s crying rape by her captor,” Escudero said.

Escudero was referring to the rape case filed against PO3 Antonio Bautista by a woman he nabbed for alleged vagrancy.

The female victim said she was arrested by Bautista while she waiting for her husband on their way to mass. At the Manila Police District where she was taken, the cop took her money amounting to P4,000 and subsequently molested her.

“This is a clear case of using the anti-vagrancy law as an opportunity for erring authorities to mulct money from and take advantage of people,” Escudero said. “Strike this provision out and we will be rid of ugly incidence such as this one brought by that abusive policeman.”

“I challenge the Philippine National Police to immediately effect the arrest of Bautista. This is an opportunity for them to prove that they can and will arrest even one of their own,” he added.

Escudero said police authorities and other law enforcement officers should be focusing on graver offenses that pose threats to peace and security of individuals rather than busying themselves with petty offenses.

“Our society and our law should be restorative and rehabilitative rather than punitive to those who simply were not given fair and equal opportunities in life” the senator said. (Office of Senator Chiz Escudero/PIA-Caraga)