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Herbal remedies for diabetes.JPG
How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
Barangay anim 4500.gif
A Barangay Clearance is NEEDED in order to get a Business License.
So why is the barangay name not in most business addresses?
Ask your Barangay Captain/Chairman to create a Resolution to make it mandatory to put the barangay name in all Business addresses.


7 die of suffocation in Surigao tunnel

by Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca & Alfred Dalizon

SEVEN persons were killed while another was hospitalized due to suffocation after they entered an old tunnel the other day in Surigao City.

This was confirmed by Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal, Caraga Police Regional Office (PRO) 13 director.

The fatalities were identified as Jomar Estrella, 26, of Bgy. Gacepan Sison, Surigao del Norte; Delvin Antipas, 21, Dexter Antipas, 18, Arnel Palasan, 22, Julius Mayola, 26, Basty Porlas Avila, 23, and Paustino Abendan Pacquiao, 22.

Confined at the Caraga District Hospital was Berdan Porlas Avila, 19.

Reports reaching Camp Crame showed the incident occurred at around 9 a.m. Thursday in a tunnel in Sitio File, Bgy. Mat-I, Surigao del Norte.

Four of the victims entered the tunnel owned and financed by a certain Jonalyn Torre Martinez, 42, married, of Bgy. Mabini, Surigao City, to transfer a hose to another tunnel.

When they took a long time inside the tunnel, the four other victims followed suit but they also failed to come back.

Other companions tried to rescue the victims by dropping a rope but only Berdan was able to come out alive.

Rescuers have pulled out the remaining seven victims but they were pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Berdan said that upon entering the tunnel, they experience difficulty in breathing that weakened them.

Authorities are conducting follow-up investigation into the incident.

OSHC opens Surigao office

by (DOLE-OSHC/SDR/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, May 11 (PIA) –- To promote occupational safety in the mining sector, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here opened recently its Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) in Surigao City.

The OSCH Surigao branch is temporary located at the 4F, Yuipco-Lim Bldg, Borromeo Street.

The event is a milestone in DOLE-OSHC initiatives to strengthen the Zero Accident Program (ZAP) in both construction and mining sectors in the province.

DOLE-OSHC will be available to establishments, businesses, and offices in the private and public sectors for a wide variety of services which includes technical assistance on OSH services, trainings, networking, information sharing and among others.

The newly-opened OSCH will be working closely with the DOLE-Caraga Regional Office, Occupational Safety and Health Network (OSHNET) Caraga and DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Attendees of the said event were representatives and officials from local government units of Surigao City and Province, national line agencies, Chamber of Mines-Caraga Region, Pacific Cement Inc., Taganito Mining Corp., and some local media.

Caraga risk reduction council emphasizes role of responsible officer, agency during disaster

by Jennifer P. Gaitano

LIPATA, Surigao City, May 10 (PIA) -- With the recently released Memorandum Circular No. 04 series 2012 by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) implementing guidelines in the use of Incident Command System (ICS) as an on-scene disaster response and management mechanism under the Philippine DRRM System, the Caraga RDRRMC emphasized delegation of authority and management by objectives to the responsible officer/agency during any incident or disaster in the region.

During the five-day Basic/Intermediate Course on the System at the Almont Beach Resort here, Region XI Regional Director Liza Mazo said it is very important that the participants of said training be oriented on the delegation of authority, scope of authority, and desc types of policies and guidelines of agencies that influence management of incident or event activities.

“In ICS, the Incident Commander’s scope of authority is derived from existing laws and agency policies and procedures, and/or through a delegation of authority from the responsible official,” said Mazo.

A delegation of authority may not be required if the incident commander is acting with his or her existing authorities, meanwhile, it is needed when the incident is outside the Incident Commander’s home jurisdiction; when the incident scope is complex or beyond existing authorities; and if it is required by law or procedures.

Mazo further bared that the elements in delegating authority should include: legal authorities and restrictions; financial authorities and restrictions; reporting requirements; demographic issues; political implications; agency on jurisdictional priorities; plan for public information management; process for communications; and plan for ongoing incident evaluations.

“Within his or her scope of authority, the Incident Commander establishes incident objectives, then determines strategies, resources, and ICS structure,” Mazo said.

The ICS is a standard, on-scene, all-hazard incident management concept that can be used by all DRRMCs/emergency management and response agencies.

ICS is managed by objectives and these objectives are communicated throughout the incident planning process. (RER/JPG- PIA 13 Caraga)

Caraga risk reduction council discusses organization, staffing in an Incident Command System

by Jennifer P. Gaitano

LIPATA, Surigao City, May 9 (PIA) -- As part of the introduction of the Incident Command System (ICS) in the region by the Caraga Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), the concern on organization and staffing was discussed Tuesday during the five-day Basic/Intermediate Course on ICS at the Almont Beach Resort, here.

Participants of said training were representatives of government agencies and some officials from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the region.

According to Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region X1 Regional Director Liza Mazo, one of the invited guest speakers, with the discussion on ICS organization and staffing, participants will know the major positions and their responsibilities, and describe ICS reporting and working relationships for Technical Specialists and Agency Representative during any incident or disaster.

“The ICS organization built around five major functions; fill only those parts of the organization that are required; and establishes lines or supervisory authority and formal reporting relationships,” said Mazo.

She further bared that in ICS, it is led by an Incident Commander and is closely coordinating with the command staff composed of the Public information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer.

“The ICS is led by the Incident Commander (IC) who is responsible for the overall management of on-scene response operations. It is followed by the General Staff which is composed of a Public Information Officer who works closely with all the different information officers and the media; a Liaison Officer who is the contact point for representatives of assisting and cooperating agencies (DRRMC members and partner agencies); and a Safety officer who work with operations on tactics and has emergency authority to stop unsafe acts/operations during any incident or disaster,” described Mazo.

The first priority of the IC is always the safety of responders, disaster victims, other emergency workers, and general public. Second priority is the incident stabilization and third priority is property protection/conservation.

The Operations Section directs and coordinates all incident tactical operations; the Planning Section maintains resource status, prepares incident action plan, in-charge in documentation, demobilization, and are technical specialists.

Meanwhile, the Logistics Section maintains the inventory while the Finance/Administrative Section is the one monitoring the incident costs, maintains financial records, administers procurement contracts, and performs time recording.

With this organizational structure in an ICS, Mazo emphasized that responsible officials, agencies to be assigned must follow well the protocol and are expected to give their full commitment. (JPG-PIA 13 Caraga)

Caraga RDRRMC introduces Incident Command System to gov’t agencies

by Jennifer P. Gaitano

LIPATA, Surigao City, May 8 (PIA) -- To come up with a unified protocol system on managing and responding to disaster, the Caraga Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) conducted a Basic/Intermediate Course on Incident Command System (ICS).

The five-day training started on Monday, May 7 at Almont Beach Resort here.

In her message, Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Caraga Regional Director Blanche Gobenciong expressed her gratitude to the full support and commitment of the 28 participants coming from different national government agencies in the region.

Also, Radny Pabon, Amity Public Safety Academy deputy administrator and one of the invited guest speakers, said the ICS is a standard, on-scene, all-hazard incident management concept that can be used by all DRRMCs/emergency management and response agencies.

“ICS is used for routine incidents as well as major disasters; activated at first response and allows its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure to match the complexities and demands of single or multiple incident without being hindered by agency or jurisdictional boundaries,” said Pabon.

Using management best practices, ICS helps to ensure the following: the safety of responders and others; the achievement of tactical objectives; and the efficient use of resources.

Pabon further bared that with the use of ICS, it meets the needs of incidents of any kind or size; allows personnel from a variety of agencies to meld rapidly into a common management structure; provides accountability and planning process; provides logistical and administrative support to operational staff; and it is cost effective by avoiding duplication of efforts.

There are five ICS management functions and these are: Command, Operations, Planning/Intelligence, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.

Meanwhile, OCD Administrator and NDRRMC Executive Director USec. Benito Ramos also stressed the importance of establishing a typical incident command system organization in every region, wherein concerned government agencies will follow flow of operations during disasters.

“It is very important to establish an ICS in the regional level down to the provincial, municipal and barangay level so that concerned government agencies will be guided as to when and how they will respond to the need of any incident or disaster. It is also important that its operations in any disaster will be orderly and properly managed by the responsible agencies,” Ramos said.

For the succeeding days of the training, others speakers will be briefing the participants on its basic roles and functions whenever the ICS will be finally realized in the region. (JPG/PIA-Caraga)

Siargaonon surfer wins Roxy Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup

by (FEA/Jun Parada, Prov’l Information Center/PIA 13, Surigao del Norte)

GEN. LUNA, Surigao del Norte, May 7 (PIA) -- Siargaonon surfer Nilvie Blancada surfed her way to victory during the recently concluded Roxy Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup held on May 1 to 4, 2012 at Cloud 9, Brgy. Catangnan, this town.

Blancada won a hefty $2,500 (P120,000) check for the win defeating 21 other women surfers from Australia, England, Germany, Indonesia, Thailand, Switzerland, USA, and several locals.

Other winners proclaimed include Kim Wooldridge of Australia who finished in second place with $1,500 (P60,000). Behind Wooldridge, Manette Alcala of Philippines and Philippa Anderson of Australia came in third with $750 (P30,000) cash prize each.

The event has the distinction of being both the first-ever Asian Surfing Championship event to be held in the country and the first to receive the top Ultima rating for its P300,000 (approximately $7,000) prize money in Women's Division competition.

The Roxy Siargao International Women's Surfing Cup was proudly supported by the Department of Tourism, House of Representatives, Province of Surigao Del Norte, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the Municipality of General Luna, organized by the Philippine Surfing Federation.

Caraga police upgrades ‘kidnap-for-ransom’ investigators’ skills

by (RER/NCLM/Noel B. Najarro/PIA 13Caraga)

BUTUAN CITY, May 6 (PIA) -- Forty-eight police investigators from the city and provincial police offices under Police Regional Office 13 attended the three-day seminar-workshop training aimed to hone their skills and learn the advanced techniques in the investigations dealing with kidnap-for-ransom cases, at the conference room of Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez, Butuan City, a senior regional police official said Thursday.

“This is in line with the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) plan nationwide to have our police investigators undergo such training in order to upgrade their skills in doing their investigative works and to use the modern techniques and gadgets in the performance of their jobs,” he said PSupt. Martin M. Gamba, PRO 13 chief information officer in an interview. He clarified that as far as the PNP is concerned, the holding of such activity here has no implication in any way to the past kidnapping incidents occurring in the region nor did it convey the idea that kidnapping incidents are in uptrend here. In fact, he said that similar activities will also be held in all of the regional police offices nationwide.

Supt. Gamba said a team from Crame arrived here yesterday morning as the seminar guest lecturers led by PSSupt. Isagani R. Nerez, Director of the Anti-Kidnapping Group in Camp Crame, PSupt. Rolando S. Miranda, chief of the PNP Operations and Management Division, PSupt. Joenel M. Aurelio, chief Legal and Inspectorate Division and PCInsp. Rossel I. Cejas, the Anti-Kidnapping Group Public Information Officer.

Gamba also said that the teams consisting of eight police investigators each came from the Police Provincial Offices of Dinagat Island Province, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusand del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Butuan City Police Office, Regional Public Safety Battalion and from the Regional Headquarters, who are undergoing the said training which is expected to end up tomorrow.

After their training, the investigators are expected to perform their functions in their respective areas of responsibility. They are also presumed to extend assistance in cases where kidnapping may occur near their assigned areas.

Projects Benefit Villagers, Lumad Families


SURIGAO CITY – At least 3,000 rural villagers, and more than 100 Lumad families in mountain communities, particularly in Urbiztondo and Taganito in Claver town, Surigao del Norte, greatly benefited from the various social development projects and assistance distributed to them recently.

Among the benefits provided to the remote villagers and indigenous people include improved school facilities, scholarship programs for poor but deserving high school and college students, free school uniforms for all elementary pupils in Urbiztondo, and the rehabilitation of the water system in their communities.

Initially, seven classrooms at the Urbiztondo Elementary School were repaired.

“In my 12 years as a public school teacher, this is the first time that we were able to get full support from a private company,” Beberiana Fermace, a Grade 1 teacher here said.

Aside from these interventions, the remote villagers also benefited from the apartment-type housing project that the private company constructed, and now occupied by the Mamanwa (ethnic tribe) families living in the highest community areas here.

Gina Patac, secretary-treasurer of the Asosasyon sa Madazaw na Panagkaisa nan mga Tribung Ma¬manwa sa Taganito ug Urbiztondo (Ampatrimtu), said their organization and the village community folks are expressing their heartfelt gratitude to the Adnama Mining Resources, Inc. (AMRI) for their continuing sup¬port to the host village communities, especially to the needy IPs.

The AMRI, headed by its president Fernando Borja, already released a total of some P50 million for the various social development projects and livelihood programs that have initially greatly benefited at least 3,000 remote villagers, and the more than 100 Ma¬manwa (Lumad) families.

The company also conducted tree-planting program to support the livelihood, and the future generation of the villagers and highland people, and also in support to the National Greening Program of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“In fact, AMRI has already paid in full the voluntary contributions for all day-care pupils of the Urbiztondo Elementary School,” said Patac.

“We are happy to be recipients of the one-percent share from AMRI in exchange for us allowing them to conduct mining operation in our ancestral land. With this amount, it could already support the daily needs of several Mamanwa families cur¬rently settled in the apartment-type housing provided to us by AMRI,” the Ampatrimtu official said.

Meanwhile, the Ampatrimtu appealed to the government to help them clear the non-member Lumad causing trouble in their communities.

The Mamanwa tribal leaders of Taganito and Urbiztondo stand firm in their resolve in opposing non-Clavernon Lumad tribesmen from molesting and causing unnecessary trouble in their already peaceful lives in the villages of Taganito and Urbiztondo in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

“We will not allow other IPs or pretending to be IPs to cause trouble in our ancestral land, the very same land where we were born and shall live happily because AMRI has already shown to be practicing responsible mining,” added the Ampatrimtu officials, in a statement.

The Ampatrimtu disclosed that the support given by the AMRI not only provided them decent living but also free education to their children in school. “We already can eat, have enough money to buy our basic necessities” they said.

“AMRI gave us more than just a ray of hope for better times for the people of Urbiztondo and the Surigao del Norte,” said Urbiztondo village chieftain Carmelito Galing.

World Surfers Conclude Siargao Competition


GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte – The finalists in the ongoing 2012 Women’s World Surfing Competition on this paradise island will try to outdo each other today in an effort to give honor to their respective countries.

Aside from emerging victorious, the participating women surfers from eight countries, including the Philippines, will also receive a substantial amount of cash prizes aside from trophies and other incentives, said local officials and organizers.

The big event is part of the Asian Surfing Championship (ASC).

The event organizer is the Philippine Surfing Federation (PSF) in cooperation with ROXY, the main sponsor and event organizers of the Asian Surfing Championship – involving participants from Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with “Cloud 9” of this town as the site of the international event.

The finalists competing for the championship in today’s final leg include contestants from Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, England, and the Philippines.

Local officials said surfers from the Philippines have a big chance in the Best-3 with its remaining 11 surfers, while the other seven remaining countries have only one or just two surfers each.

Meanwhile, the local government here prepared a big and momentous closing ceremony program today – intended to honor and entertain the participating women surfers from the various parts of the world, including foreign and local tourists.

A cultural show and sumptuous dinner are also prepared by the local government here for the participants and visitors.

The Siargao International Women’s Surfing Competition is the biggest surfing event in the Philippines that is held here every year, local officials said.

While the women’s surfing competition is already on its final day, the three-day 2012 Women’s Beach Volleyball Open will immediately start, while the 14th National Surfing Cup will take place from May 5 to 9, here at the “Cloud 9,” said General Luna Mayor Jaime Plaza Rusillon.

Aside from the local government here, the various events are also fully supported by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte and the Region-13 office of the Department of Tourism.

Various events are also sponsored by Surigao del Norte Representatives Francisco “Lalo” T. Matugas and Guillermo “Jun” A. Romarate Jr., and Governor Sol F. Matugas.

Surigao celebrates 111th Founding Anniversary

by. (FEA/Prov'l Information Center-SDN/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

SURIGAO CITY, May 2 (PIA) -- The provincial government of Surigao del Norte has lined-up different activities for the celebration of its 111th Founding Anniversary with the theme, “One People… One Lifetime: Celebrating One Hundred Eleven Years of Proud History and Rich Cultural Heritage.”

Just this morning, the celebration kicked-off with a parade from the Capitol compound to the provincial gym (outside), participated by the provincial officials, employees, mountain bike and BMX associations, and Surigao City swimming team.

On May 3, a singing competition for children dubbed as Surigao’s Got Talent will be held at the Luneta Park. While on May 4, the opening program for the Governor’s Cup (Swimming Competition) will then be conducted at the swimming pool of the Provincial Sports Complex, this will be followed by a Governor’s Got Talent – Folk Dance Competition (Elementary and High School category) on the evening, again, at the Luneta Park.

The adult category for Surigao’s Got Talent singing competition will then be conducted on May 5 at Luneta Park. Likewise, the opening of Surigao’s Got Talent Open Hip-Hop Dance Competition will take place still at the same park on May 7. Said activity will start at 7:00pm.

As a highlight to the various activities relative to the anniversary, a showdown of Surigao’s Festivals dubbed as “Sajaw Surigao” will be held on May 13, 2012.

Caraga, N. Mindanao refugees cry for end to military attacks

by. Karen Boncocan

MANILA, Philippines – Internal refugees from areas in Caraga and Northern Mindanao allegedly caught in military combat operations are calling on President Benigno Aquino III to put a halt to military offensives in the area and help claim their ancestral land. In an interview with on Monday, Genasque Enriquez, Secretary General of Kahugpong sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) urged Aquino to listen to the lumad (indigenous people) groups’ cry for an end to the military operations in Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte and Bukidnon. More than 200 families were displaced from their homes in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte, frightened away by the military, said Enriquez. Some 140 left their homes in Surigao del Norte last March 23 and 102 left their houses in Agusan del Norte last March 5. “Takot ang mga katutubo (the natives are frightened),” he explained, pointing to 22-year-old internal refugee Balodoy Inano whom he said had been shot by a soldier while gathering kindling last March 23 in Sitio Omao of Camam-onan village, Gigaquit town, Surigao del Norte. After Inano was shot in the chest and fell to the ground, he was approached by a soldier who apologized and gave him two paracetamol tablets, according to Enriquez. The soldier said that he thought Inano was an NPA rebel and told him not to tell that it was a soldier who shot him or he would be finished off. “If Aquino is true to his ‘Kayo ang boss ko (you’re [the Filipino people] my boss)’ slogan and the indigenous people are also his boss, I hope the President will soon look into their predicament,” he said. The KASALO secretary general said evacuees from the three provinces have seen how military presence in their land became a ruse in protecting mining companies. “Evidently, the clearing operations of the military provided security for mining companies,” Enriquez said. He said the Taganito Mining Corporation in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte is being expanded. Another company, the San Roque Metals Incorporated, launched its mining activities in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and other mining companies went full-blast operations in Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur. Those displaced desperately need food, clothing, water and medicine, according to Enriquez. Children were particularly vulnerable to colds and diarrhea, he added. He said that those in Gigaquit town have moved to a small parcel of land near a river and were huddling underneath makeshift tents and banana leaves. “In behalf of those displaced, we demand the withdrawal of the military forces from the community. Stop the indiscriminate firing, bombing and shelling. Hopefully, the government would provide indemnification of indigenous people.” A group of representatives from the displaced groups are in Manila until May 2 to meet and appeal to government officials as well as the diplomatic community about their predicament. They have already met with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Human Rights Commissioner Jose Mamawag and Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., chairman of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities.

FFM report shows military ops in Agusan hinterlands

by. Vanessa L. Almeda

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/28 April) — A national fact finding mission said military operations are going on in hinterland barangays of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte, even as officials of local governments and national line agencies denied the reports. Photographs and video footage supplied by the human rights group Karapatan and the Kahugpongan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo Caraga) to the local media showed two cannons mounted in the middle of a populated community in Barangay Puting Bato in Cabadbaran City. Another video footage and series of photographs also showed cut trees in the mountains of Zapanta Valley in Kitcharao, Surigao del Norte. Dr.Naty Castro, secretary-general of Karapatan-Caraga said they also found empty shells from 50 mm machine gun as well as a chainsaw in the area. The report said the area may have been cleared to serve as landing area for the helicopters that reportedly were used to deploy military forces and deliver supplies at the height of the intense military operations from March 4 to 15 this year. Karapatan together with indigenous peoples organizations in Mindanao and Manila launched a fact-finding mission on April 12-15 after receiving reports of the exodus of evacuees in the city and other parts in the region due to intense military operations in the two provinces. The ensuing military operations resulted in the exodus of mass evacuees in Butuan City on March 22 and in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte on March 26. “To date, there are over 243 families with about 1,000 men, women and children from the mountain of Palidan in Brgy. Mahaba and Sitio Losong, Brgy. Puting Bato in Cabadbaran City; Manhumapay in Zapanta Valley, Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, both in Agusan del Norte; Brgy. Ferlda in Alegria,and Brgy. Camam-onan, Guigaquit, both in Surigao del Norte who have evacuated their communities and are staying in different evacuation sites in bothprovinces,” Castro said. In its report, the Mission said they were repeatedly denied audience by local officials in Butuan City, Cabadbaran and in Gigaquit. It said a dialogue with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) regional director Dominador Gomez reportedly was not fruitful as the official reportedly denied the presence of evacuees as well as military operations because “he did not receive a report from the field.” The Mission also noted that Gomez declined assistance to the Mamanwa evacuees allegedly because it does not have funds to support the hundreds of evacuees now staying in Brgy. Banza. The report also noted that Marilyn Pinto, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights told the group that she is “unaware” of her role in addressing the problem of the evacuees. Castro said Pintor is not aware of her mandate as CHR director. Castro said the mission team wanted to meet with Rep. Angel Amante-Matba but she sent her Chief of Staff who told them there is nothing they can do because it is a “national command.” Given these officials’ denials, the Mission said it is constrained to bring the issue to Manila and present its report to Congress, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense and CHR chair Loretta Rosales. The group also intends to raise the issue to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) on the Rights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Kakay Tolentino, Katribu Partylist national coordinator, said the NCIP’s inutility shows P-Noy’s real agenda to favor the mining industry in the country. “Ang local siempre ay susunod lang yan sa kagustuhan ng nasa taas,” Tolentino said.

Kasalo Caraga spokesperson Genasque Enriquez lambasted officials for accusing their group as pawns of the communists. “I will not sacrifice my wife and children to sleep on cold cement floors for weeks,” he said. “This only shows the long historical discrimination against our people. This is already old and rehashed, the real issue is the evacuees and why did they evacuate?,” he said. Dato Monico Cayog of Kalumaran, a Mindanao-wide organizationof Lumads said those who spread stories that the Mamanwa evacuees were “hakot”( a term for gathering people en masse and bringing them to another area on board trucks) are “crazy people.” “Buang na. Daghan ba kwarta ang Kasalo, ang Karapatan? Ang nagsulti ana anad na sa election kay manghakot. Gianad nila ang mga tawo nga bayran, pakan-on para muboto sa ila,” (Crazy. Kasalo and Karapatan have money? Whoever said that is used to elections where they haul and feed people to vote for their candidates), he said. Cayog said the military operations in the mountains of the two Carga provinces are aimed at displacing the tribal communities to accommodate mining companies. Lt. Col. Vincent Iringan, commanding officer of the 30th Infantry Battalion, confirmed military operations are being carried out in Surigao del Norte “where there are sightings of armed illegal groups” because it is “our mandate as soldiers of the land.” Iringan said a dialogue was already conducted with Mamanwa evacuees in Brgy. Baoy, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte together with local government officials, the NCIP and other stakeholders. Barangay councilor Baby Coter on one hand could not confirm that a dialogue had ensued saying as of present the evacuees are still staying at a dam site in Brgy. Baoy and local government officials and NCIP officials continue to deny assistance to the evacuees. “Asa may NCIP ug mayor wala man pakita sa mga bakwit” (Where is NICP and the mayor? They never showed up to the evacuees), Coter said in a text message. (Vanessa L. Almeda/MindaNews)

Surigao Norte gov inks MOU to improve maternal, child health

by. (Arturo M. Cruje/FEA/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, April 27 (PIA) -- To improve maternal and child health in the province, Gov. Sol Matugas signed recently a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve maternal and child health in the province.

The MOU is in collaboration with the Zuellig Family Foundation and the Coalition composed of Department of Health (DOH), League of Provinces of the Philippines, Ayala Foundation, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Unang Yakap Foundation and United Nations Fund for Population Activities.

The MOU stipulated that Zuellig Family Foundation will provide technical and financial assistance to train health leaders at the barangay, municipal and provincial levels through modular courses for the application of innovative health programs and emerging best practices in public health.

In a breakfast conference held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Matugas announced her administration’s support to reduce maternal and infant mortality. The Coalition For Health presented their available support and initiatives to complement the local chief executives invited to create a collective impact.

Meanwhile, DOH Secretary Enrique Ona voiced the importance of the leadership and authority of the Provincial Governments in developing and supporting local health systems of its municipalities.

He stressed the critical role of the Local Chief Executive in addressing maternal and child health and in achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

The breakfast conference was a prelude to the “162 to 52 Summit” which was called by the Coalition for Health on the same day. The summit was attended by selected provinces, DOH officials, civil society organizations and foreign funding institutions.

DOLE set to release livelihood grant to coco farmers in Surigao del Norte

by. Robert E. Roperos

BUTUAN CITY, April 26 (PIA) –- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Surigao del Norte Field Office is set to release coco coir livelihood grant to members of the Claver Coconut Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (CLACOFARMCO) on Friday at the multi-purpose hall of Taganito Mining Corporation in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

In a phone-patch interview with PIA, Gloria Varquez, DOLE-Surigao del Norte field office head said this is the second release of the said cooperative after they have received the P230,000 grant in 2009.

She added CLACOFARMCO management has just liquidated the amount they received two years ago and that they are now qualified to receive the remaining grant amounting to P170,000. “All in all, they are receiving a total of P400,000 livelihood grant from DOLE,” Varquez added.

The official further said the activity is part of the Labor Day celebration in the region on May 1, 2012, anchored on the theme: “Pagtutulungan, Pagbabago, Disenteng Trabaho.”

Coco coir is an organic tiny particle which is obtained from coconut husk while separating fiber from husk. It is also known as Coco peat which is used in Horticulture and Floriculture environments.

Coco peat provides with an organic alternative to rock wool and perlite media without the environmental disposal issues. Hydroponic crop production using Coco peat makes the opportunity to consistently maximize yield and provide better quality. (RER/PIA-Caraga)

International sports fishing tourney begins in Siargao

by. Natz C. Corbeta/AMD, GMA News

PILAR, SIARGAO ISLAND - Renowned anglers from all over the world will troop to the “Gamefishing Capital” of the Philippines, the town of Pilar, in pursuit of the biggest catch at Siargao’s 5th International Game Fishing Tournament from April 26 to April 30.

The Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte, Pilar Local Government, and sponsors such as the San Miguel Corporation all contributed in getting the tourney off the ground.

First district representative Francisco T. Matugas, his wife Governor Sol Matugas, Mayor Lucio Gonzales, along with other officials from the province and invited guests, will lead the opening rites of the five-day event, backed fully by renowned fishing clubs from all over the Philippines.

Pilar mayor Lucio Gonzales said the annual activity draws thousands of tourists, boosting the inherent potentials of his town. It is home to the famous Magpupungko Rock Formation and Blue Lagoon, considered one of the best natural swimming pools in the world.

“This gamefishing tournament is an avenue for us to boost our pride, being Pilarnons,” he said.

The tournament also provides various livelihood opportunities for the locals, he added.

In the absence of commercial and well-developed resorts like those in General Luna, which is famous among surfers from all over the world, the Department of Tourism institutionalized a home-stay program in Pilar and provided formal training to local home-owners willing to accommodate visitors and guests.

Local boatmen also see additional income, as they get hired and paid by anglers within the duration of the tournament.

The gamefishing activity also heralds the development of the town’s basic infrastructure, highlighted by the rehabilitation of the road network from Osmeña junction to the town proper. This concreting of the stretch from Osmeña to Pilar is expected to be completed within the next couple of years. Some basic tourist structures have also been constructed at the Magpupungko Blue Lagoon, the primary destination of tourists.

Aside from the beautiful and relaxing summer ambiance, various fun-filled activities await the participants and guests. These include cultural shows, a nightly live band, and a beachwear fashion show courtesy of the San Miguel Corporation, in addition to the big prize money offered by the tournament.

Siargao, known as the “Surfing and Sportsfishing Capital of the Philippines” can be directly reached by flying Cebu Pacific to Siargao Island via Cebu every Monday and Friday. Daily flights from Manila to Butuan or Manila to Surigao via Airphil Express or Cebu Pacific are also available.

DA-7 Issues New Pest Alert


VALENCIA, Bohol — The Department of Agriculture (DA)’s office in Region 7 recently announced that a certain new pest – lygaeid - is threatening the rice granary of Central Visayas. However, Bert Barrion, a doctor of entomology with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) points out that said pest which was initially called a "rice grain bug” is not really new at all.

Barrion explained that lygaeid is an ordinary bug that feeds on legumes but has changed its host to rice damaging several rice fields in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Masbate, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga Sur, Surigao Norte and Agusan Norte and this province.

The DA here has named it as the latest pest believed to have been transmitted through irrigation canals. Brown spots on rice grains are a sign of the bug’s infestation.

Lygaeid bugs are smaller than rice bugs, are elongated in shape, with a distinct odor, and with bigger front legs making it more of a crawler than a flyer.

Said bug is also grain-sucking and panicle-eating, making it a potential threat to the vast rice areas of Bohol. It attacks the panicles at its reproductive stage.

The bug which sports a dirty-brown color has reportedly affected 16 hectares of farm lands in the municipalities of Dimiao, Garcia- Hernandez, Batuan and this town which altogether covers 33 percent of total irrigated and rain-fed rice areas in Bohol.

Bert Castillo, Chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC), said the diversification of host could be caused by the environment and climate change. Since it is a new pest in rice, its biological and ecological management has yet to be observed, he said.

Meanwhile, DA 7 Regional Director Leo Cañeda said the DA is coordinating with concerned local government units here in implementing a quick response scheme by developing a biological protocol aimed at preventing the spread of the pest.

Immediate remedy requires spraying plants with appropriate insecticides and continuous pest management in affected areas, said Castillo.

PHL tourism execs to observe country’s biggest global game fishing event in Siargao Island

by. Michael O. Conte

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, April 23 (PIA) -- Pilar Mayor Lucio T. Gonzales on Friday said top officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the country will arrive this week in Siargao Island to witness and observe the holding of the 5th Siargao International Game Fishing Tournament, considered as the most successful and largest sport fishing tournament in the Philippines.

“We are expecting the arrival of DOT officials from different regions who will observe how we make this annual global tournament a huge success and earned recognition around the world. They were surprised how the world quickly noticed us, when in fact we are not the first one to stage this kind of event in the country,” Gonzales said.

After four years of successful hosting of this event, the island received a number of developments from infrastructure to tourism-related job opportunities with the influx of more foreign and local tourists.

The international event, which will be held in the municipality of Pilar, will be participated by around 80 anglers from the United States, Singapore, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines, and will be vying for the biggest fish in the Game Fishing Mecca of the Philippines.

It can be recalled that last year, former DOT Secretary Alberto Lim led the opening of the event with Congressman Francisco T. Matugas, Governor Sol Matugas, Mayor Lucio Gonzales, and other officials from the province of Surigao del Norte. (FEA-PIA 13, Surigao del Norte)

Siargao Hosts International Surfing Event


GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte – The country’s biggest international women’s sport competition of the year, the “2012 International Women’s Surfing Cup” and the “2012 International Women’s Beach Volleyball Open” had been set next week at the famous “Cloud 9” here.

The 5th International Women’s Surfing Cup will take place from May 1 to 4, and will be participated in by women surfers from the various countries.

Att present, some 20 famous women surfers from the United States (US), Japan, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan, including the more than 10 Filipino surfers, had already registered for the international surfing competition.

Local officials said the Siargao International Women’s surfing competition is the biggest surfing event in the Philippines, where cash prizes, trophies, and other incentives are offered by the local government and organizers of the event.

This event will be part of the Asian Surfing Championship (ASC).

It was learned that the event organizer is the Philippine Surfing Federation (PSF) in co-operation with ROXY.

“All is set for this year’s women’s big surfing cup at our amazing Cloud 9 with white powdery beaches within the town’s coastal areas,” said General Luna Mayor Jaime Plaza Rusillon.

He said that while the women’s surfing competition is in motion, the 2012 Women’s Beach Volleyball Open will also be conducted from May 3 to May 6, and the 14th Men’s National Surfing Cup will take place from May 5 to 9.

It was also learned that the organizers, particularly the local government here, in full support of the provincial government and the Region-13 office of the Department of Tourism (DoT-13), are also preparing various daily activities to entertain the big number of tourists and guests.

The event is also sponsored by the provincial government of Surigao del Norte, the local government here, Surigao del Norte Representatives Francisco “Lalo” T. Matugas, Guillermo “Jun” A. Romarate Jr., and Governor Sol F. Matugas.

Sino mining firm exec missing in Surigao

by. Ben Serrano

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – A Chinese national who works as an administrative officer of a mining firm based in Surigao del Norte has been missing for over a week, police said yesterday.

The missing Chinese national was identified as Rui Lee, an executive of the Shenzhou Group Mining Corp. based in Barangay Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte.

Based on reports, the Surigao del Norte police said the 41-year-old Rui, who hails from mainland China, left the mining firm’s office in the afternoon of April 11 and boarded a passenger van headed for Surigao City to visit his friends.

But according to Rui’s friends in Surigao City, which is about 40 kilometers from Claver town, he did not arrive to see them as they had expected.

His friends tried many times to call Rui through his cell phone but to no avail. They also tried but failed to locate his whereabouts.

Lei was described to be 5’5” tall, weighs between 60 and 70 kilos, and has medium build, white complexion, and black hair.

He was last seen wearing a green polo shirt, blue pants and eyeglasses.

Chief Superintendent Reynaldo Rafal, Caraga regional police director, has ordered a region-wide search for Rui.

Chinese national missing in Surigao del Norte

by. Charmane Awitan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese national has been missing for more than a week in Surigao del Norte.

An administration officer of the Shenzhou Mining Group Corporation in Barangay Cagdianao, Claver, said Rui Lei was last seen on April 11 while driving a van and heading towards Surigao City to visit his friends. However, his friends claimed that Lei never arrived there.

His friends also tried but failed to contact Lei’s phone.

Rui's disappearance was reported to police last April 17.

The Claver Police is now conducting a follow-up operation.

No regret on Ecleo release

by. Gerome M. Dalipe

NO regret.

The judge who allowed Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. to post P1 million bail broke her silence barely eight years after she let the lawmaker go in 2004.

Judge Generosa Labra, who used to handle the case, stood by her decision in granting Ecleo’s bail and she didn’t feel sorry about it.

“I granted the bail since the witness was credible,” Labra, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 23, told Sun. Star Cebu in an interview.

Likewise, Labra said the witness’s testimony was not refuted since the prosecution did not appear during the hearing of the defense’s motion for reconsideration.

“When the motion for reconsideration was set for hearing, nobody from the prosecution appeared,” Labra said.

In March 2004, Labra allowed Ecleo to post bail barely two years after he was detained.

The judge cited Ecleo’s “serious ailments and a worsening health condition” as grounds for granting the cult leader’s bail motion.

Ecleo was arrested in June 2002, or about five months after his wife Alona was killed.

A long standoff between the police and Ecleo’s followers in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte preceded his arrest. At least 19 were killed.

At that time, Ecleo suffered from community-acquired pneumonia. Dr. Walter Acusar has also recommended a procedure for Ecleo’s heart, a coronary angiogram with angioplasty.


In her ruling, Judge Labra noted that the Supreme Court allows bail for prisoners, irrespective of the nature and merits of the charge, “if their continuous (detention) during the pendency of the case would be injurious to their health or would endanger their lives.”

She also cited the cases of Benigno Aquino Jr. and of Pio Duran, where the court allowed their release on bail on the ground that their continued stay in jail was injurious to their health.

The High Court had also ruled in those cases that the lower court, which denied the prisoners’ petition for bail, acted with grave abuse of discretion.

Keeping Ecleo at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center will imperil his health, Judge Labra said in her ruling.

Last April 13, Judge Soliven Peras found Ecleo guilty of parricide for killing his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.

Peras sentenced Ecleo to reclusion perpetua, which is from 20 years and one day to 40 years in prison.

He also ordered the cult leader to pay his wife’s heirs P25 million in compensatory damages, P200,000 in moral damages, P200,000 in exemplary damages, P200,000 in attorney’s fees and P50,000 in temperate damages.

Strong evidence

Interviewed yesterday inside her chamber, Judge Labra pointed out that she even denied Ecleo’s first attempt to post bail since she believed the evidence against him was strong.

Defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre Jr. later sought for reconsideration of Labra’s ruling. When the pleading was set for hearing, the defense presented its witness.

None from the prosecution, however, appeared to cross-examine the witness.

Despite the absence of the prosecution lawyers, Labra said she proceeded with the hearing. “I was even the one who conducted the cross-examination on the witness,” she recalled.

Nevertheless, Labra said her conduct of cross-examination was “limited” to thwart accusations of being biased.

Had the prosecution attended the hearing and presented a credible witness, Labra said she could have reversed her previous recommendation granting Ecleo his temporary freedom.

Subsequently, the prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration and asked for a chance to cross examine the witness. That time, Ecleo was still detained.

But before Labra could tackle the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration, defense counsel Salatandre sought for her inhibition.

The prosecution opposed the defense’s pleading seeking the inhibition of Labra from the case. They wanted Labra to continue hearing the case, but Labra eventually inhibited herself from hearing the case.

The parricide case was later raffled to Retired Judge Anacleto Caminade, who affirmed the order of Labra allowing Ecleo to post bail.

Labra clarified it was Judge Caminade who ordered the release of Eclo, and not her.

She said she even scolded the prosecution for their failure to attend the hearing.

“If you had been here, you could have been able to cross-examine the witness,” Labra recalled telling the prosecution panel.

Labra also joined calls for Ecleo to surrender “for his personal and family’s sake.”

Nevertheless, Labra said Ecleo would still be given the chance to defend himself while his lawyers are preparing to appeal his conviction.

Comelec helpless in stopping premature campaigning

by. Sheila Crisostomo

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted that it is helpless about the premature campaigning of prospective candidates for senator and local positions in the 2013 elections.

Many candidates are expected to make commercial endorsements and other publicity stunts to sell themselves early to voters.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Supreme Court (SC) had voided premature campaigning as an election offense in its November 2009 ruling.

The high court ruled in favor of Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte Mayor Rosalinda Peñera, who was charged with electioneering after she held a motorcade upon filing her certificate of candidacy (COC) on March 29 for the 2007 elections. The campaign period was to have started on March 30.

“In the Peñera vs Comelec case, you are considered a candidate when it is campaign period. So if it is not yet campaign period and you appear in advertisements, SC calls it freedom of expression. It’s not premature campaigning,” Sarmiento said.

Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code states: “It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.”

Under Comelec Resolution 9385, prospective candidates for the 2013 polls may file their certificate of candidacy (COC) from Oct. 1 to 5, 2012 while the 90-day campaign period for senators and party-list groups starts on Feb. 12.

The 45-day campaign period for local candidates will begin on March 29. 

Section 13 of Republic Act 9369, or the poll automation law, states that “any person who files his COC within this period shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.”

‘Allow media practitioners to vote early’

In a related development, several media practitioners yesterday urged the Comelec to pass a resolution that would allow them to vote early in the 2013 elections.

Media members signed a petition prepared by lawyer Romulo Macalintal on their behalf during a media forum and filed it with the Comelec central office in Intramuros, Manila.

The petition stated that the ballots cast by media practitioners will be placed in a “security envelope” and properly sealed and signed by a special board of election inspectors.

Macalintal said the envelopes would be opened only during the counting and canvassing at the end of voting hours.

Macalintal said many media members are deprived of their right to vote because they are usually on assignment on election day.

“If government officials performing election duties are allowed early voting, then media practitioners, who also perform election duties and are actually partners of the Comelec in disseminating news and information on election events and results, should likewise be extended the same privilege,” he said.

Macalintal said the Constitution guarantees every citizen the right of suffrage “without discrimination.”

He said the Comelec has the power to allow media practitioners to vote early while Congress has yet to pass the early media voting bill.

“The Comelec has the power to adopt appropriate rules or any suitable process or proceedings to ensure a clean and honest election and the enfranchisement of qualified voters,” he said.

Surigao Norte bags award for good governance

by. Maryjul E. Escalante

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, April 17 (PIA) -- Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas is happy to announce that Surigao del Norte is a recipient of an Incentive Fund from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for passing the 2011 Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) Round 2 Assessment.

The Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) is P7,000,000 which will go to development projects designed to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets, Poverty Alleviation Framework, and the Disaster Preparedness and Climate Change Adaptation. The Performance Challenge Fund is an award given to local government units which are performing well in various components of local governance.

The provincial government under the administration of Gov. Sol Matugas is working towards excellence in local governance. The programs and projects to achieve development goals and objectives are well-placed.

The local special bodies are revitalized and more vibrant. The convergence approach is successfully implemented to maximize the use of resources and to achieve participatory and transparent governance.

In this connection, Surigao del Norte is embarking on Organizational Diagnosis study to improve the current government operations to make it more efficient, effective, transparent, and relevant. (FEA/Maryjul E. Escalante/Provincial Information Center)

UNA eyes pact with LDP, Nacionalista


MANILA, Philippines - The United Nationalist Alliance confirms they are currently in talks for a possible team-up with the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and the Nacionalista Party.

If that happens, Congressman Sonny Angara of the LDP might be included in the UNA senatorial slate with Nacionalista stalwarts, former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Former Senate President Ernesto Maceda earlier said the UNA is looking at a candidate's "winnability, integrity and platform."

He said there are 17 possible Senate bets in the shortlist including 4 re-electionists includin Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Gringo Honasan and Koko Pimentel; and 3 former senators including Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon and Jamby Madrigal.

A number of congressmen are also being considered, among them, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito and Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay.

Businessman Joey de Venecia, son of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, is also in the shortlist aside from Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian and the vice-president's daughter, Nancy Binay.

The coalition hopes to finalize its senatorial lineup by July or August.

12-hour blackout to hit Butuan City, Agusan del Norte on Sunday

by. Ben Serrano

BUTUAN CITY — Butuan City and Agusan del Norte province will experience a half-day power cut off from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public announcement and notice from Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (ANECO) to its nearly 120,000 power consumers claimed there will be major repairs on power grids by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). But prior to Sunday's (April 15, 2012) 12-hour power outage in the entire Butuan City and Agusan del Norte, some areas of the city, especially in commercial districts, had already experienced intermittent power outages. Today, Saturday, nearly half of Butuan City experienced a 12-hour brownout. The other day, nearly one half of the province of Agusan del Norte also experienced power outages. Power coop firm ANECO, or Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative’s information office, in a statement, said power outages will not only be experienced by Butuan City and Agusan del Norte residents but in the entire Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte provinces for Sunday’s power outages. Surigao City and some towns in Surigao del Norte is also expected to suffer brownouts. Prior to that, brownouts were also experienced in the province of Agusan del Sur. This writer tried to contact Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (ASELCO) office in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur but to no avail. This writer also tried to contact Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative or SURNECO office in Surigao City to get their side on the frequent brownouts but to no avail. Power coop ANECO, one of the biggest electric cooperative in Mindanao and the biggest in Caraga Region, served the whole City of Butuan City and its 86 urban and rural barangays and the whole province of Agusan del Norte who has 10 towns and one city, the newly-created City of Cabadbaran. ANECO has nearly 120,000 total number of power consumers of the two areas, Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. Majority of its power consumers are residential houses that comprised 92.3 percent while the remaining commercial users. The lack of investments for Butuan City and Agusan del Norte contributed much to decreasing number of commercial power consumers. (PNA)

Surigao congressman convicted for killing wife Alona 10 years ago

by. Ador Vincent Mayol

Cebu Daily News

Ruben Ecleo Jr. was not around yesterday to hear the judge declare him “guilty” of killing his wife Alona in Cebu City. Two brothers of the slain medical student wept with relief as the 200-page decision of Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras ended with clear penalties: reclusion perpetua (life imprisionment), which draws 20 to 40 years, and P25,650,000 in damages. The verdict capped nine years of a parricide trial and added pressure to capture the fugitive congressman of the lone district of Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, who was earlier convicted by the Sandiganbyan on graft charges. “It is now the job of the police to arrest Ecleo,” said prosecutor Alfredo Sipalay. He said they will ask President Benigno Aquino III to order a nationwide manhunt for Ecleo, who is the “supremo” of his own religious cult. Alona Bacolod, a fourth year medical student, was strangled in the couple’s residence in sitio Banawa, barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City on Jan. 5, 2002. Her body was found three days later in a black garbage bag dumped down a ravine in Dalaguete town, south Cebu. Ecleo is the supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) which was founded by his father, a spiritual leader in the 1960s. Ecleo was ordered to pay a little over P25,650,000 million in compensatory damages for killing his wife. The amount was based on what Alona would have earned had she graduated and became a doctor. The court also ordered Ecleo to pay the five remaining siblings of Alona P400,000 in moral and exemplary damages, and P200,000 in attorney’s fees. Ecleo has been in hiding since arrest warrants were issued by two courts. The Sandiganbayan found him guilty of three counts of graft for overpayment of municipal buildings and one center owned by the PBMA, during his previous stint as mayor of San Jose, Dinagat Island in Zamboanga del Norte. He was sentenced to 31 years in jail. In April last year, Judge Peras in Cebu City also ordered Ecleo’s arrest after he skipped three hearings. Defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre said he would seek a reconsideration of the decision or go to the Court of Appeals. “We have available remedies. It’s not over,” he told reporters. “The identity of the victim was not clear. Who was that cadaver? Are they sure it was Alona? Had it been discussed thoroughly, it could have been the end of the journey. But as far as we’re concerned, it was not all taken up well,” said the lawyer. He said forensic experts presented in trial said the corpse found in Dalaguete could not be determined. Salatandre said he was in touch with Ecleo by cellphone but doesn’t bother to ask his whereabouts. “I have yet to inform him. We will contact him,” he said after the promulgation. It took about an hour for a court interpreter to read out key portions of the 200-page decision. The 3 p.m.promulgation was delayed for two hours. “I’m sorry our computer is not of standard. I have to wait for the entire decision to be printed,” the judge said. Attendance was limited to 20 each from Ecleo’s camp and the Bacolods, with a ban declared on cameras and policemen fielded inside and outside the court room. When the “guilty” verdict was announced, two brothers of Alona, Angelito and Josebil, shed tears like members of the Crusade Against Violence (CAV). Supporters of the Bacolod family clapped their hands in jubilation. Prosecution lawyer Fritz Quinanola stood up and shouted “Alleluia!” as the judge banged the gavel to end the proceedings. The other prosecution lawyers who attended the promulgation were Kit Enriquez, Alfredo Sipalay, and Nicetas Ybanez. “It’s an answered prayer. We (prosecution lawyers) didn’t receive money for defending the Bacolods. Money was the least of our concerns. The important thing is the Bacolods obtained justice,” said Sipalay. Quinanola agreed that the next priority is to capture Ecleo. “The ball is now with the PNP. There are around 140,000 policemen across the country. There is no reason Ecleo can’t be arrested. The police as well as the Secretary of Justice should resign if they fail to arrest Ecleo,” said Quiñnanola, a former police general. He repeated their request to House Speaker Ricardo Belmonte to remove Ecleo from the list of congressmen. In his decision, the judge gave weight to the eyewitness testimonies of Alona’s brother Josebil Bacolod and witness Gloria Navaja. Josebil said he saw Ecleo’s men carrying a black plastic garbage bag in the couple’s residence in Guadalupe, Cebu City.Josebil, who was two rooms away from the couple’s bedroom, said he earlier heard thuds and shouts from Alona inside the couple’s bedroom. The second witness, Navaja, said she saw Ecleo and two other men throw a garbage bag off a ravine in Dalaguete town, south Cebu. “The prosecution witnesses deserve more credence. There was nothing to show that the witnesses of the prosecution have ill-motive against the accused. The accused is not telling the truth,” the judge said. He said he had to carefully examine the testimonies of some defense witnesses since they were PBMA members “who are willing to die” for Ecleo. Ecleo’s alibi that he was in the PBMA chapter in Talisay City when the incident happened didn’t convince the judge, who said it was impossible for Ecleo to be in Talisay City and in Dalaguete town at the same time. The judge also didn’t believe Ecleo’s claims that the cadaver found in Dalaguete wasn’t that of his wife Alona. Peras cited attempts of Ecloe’s camp to get the body from the funeral house. The judge said Ecleo should have gone looking for Alona when she was declared missing, but he didn’t even bother to verify the dead body and testifed later that he went to PBMA chapters in Lapu-Lapu City and Bogo City where he had sing-along sessions. “I fervently hope that the victim’s soul can now rest. Let justice be done,” he said. Peras was the seventh judge to handle the high-profile case. Other judges inhibited themselves for various reasons, a sign of the kind of pressure brought in a criminal trial where Alona’s parents, a brother,a sister, neighbor and private prosecutor were killed by gunmen traced to the PBMA.

Foundation day without foundation


SURIGAO City - In the words of my favorite local radio commentator BG, who's an expert on the subject of lunacy during his lucid interval, it's an act of historical insanity. I think, for once, he's right! Our province in its desire to have a semblance of sudden but shallow interest in local history has recently declared May 16, 1901 as its foundation day. In other words, Surigao del Norte province is barely 111 years old. As BG again puts it, this is the only case where the grandmother is very much younger than her grandchildren! Why so? Simply because most of the towns in Surigao, composed of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, until the creation of the province of Dinagat IsLands whose fate still hangs in a state of uncertainty before the Supreme Court, are at least 200 years old with Del Carmen, once known as Numancia and dreaded as the "town of wakwaks and crocodiles," more than 300 years old-not to mention Tandag, now the capital of Surigao del Sur.

A hearing was recently conducted by the provincial board on this issue but it appears it was a hearing of those who are deaf and dumb because its members who have no adequate knowledge of Surigaonon history or have no common sense at all have already decided to make their ignorance a matter of public ridicule. Anyway, knowing their closed mind- set, and also because I've promised never to enter the Capitol under the present administration which I completely abhor, I sent a representative, because I will be wasting my time if I dignify them with my presence, who came back as if he had just attended an obscene session of the Spanish Inquisition! The death sentence had already been rendered. And there is no appeal at all! That's how, I was told, and things are done at the capitol nowadays. It's under a reign of terror, again according to BG and this time many, many others agree.

The invitation said the hearing was about the FOUNDATION DAY OF SURIGAO DEL NORTE. Now, don't tell me the honorable members of the provincial board didn't know this. Ignorance of the law excuses no one! They should all be kicked out from their positions including the author, described among others by rabid admirers, in hushed whispers, of course, as like an Abu Sayyaf commander who has sown terror into the hearts of many, behind this sick joke.

Rep. Glenda B. Ecleo has already authored RA 7553 which has declared June 19, 1960 as the foundation day of Surigao del Norte. This is so because RA 2786 which divided, gerrymandered really, the former province of Surigao into Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, authored by former congressman Reynaldo P. Honrado, was passed into law on that date. While I don't agree with it because I can't find its justification in an explanatory note, it is the law and must be obeyed until otherwise changed. Any provincial ordinance contrary to this law is "ultra vires" and therefore null and void. Simply illegal.

As it turned out, what the provincial board wanted was the foundation date/day of the province of Surigao, not Surigao del Norte. They want us to read what's in their empty minds instead of what's plainly written on the invitation, copy of which is in my hands, it was pointed, as expected, belatedly. But no matter this lame excuse or alibi for their gross incompetence, it's a horrible mistake just the same! If that was the only mistake, we can perhaps excuse it! Afterall, we all make mistakes. But the Board made matters worse by committing another mistake, this time with worst consequence by foisting a historical distor tion by passing an ordinance which has declared May 16, 1901 as The Foundation Day of Surigao! Horrors! You can't legislate something utterly false and make it true! Ferdinand Marcos did it with Martial Law but eventually the truth came out. No amount of repetition can make a lie true. Goebbels knew that, too, during the Nazi regime in Hitler's Germany.

Now listen to this, pinheads! Surigao is totally dif ferent from Surigao del Norte.The "wrong-mistake" in the invitation of the Board during its hearing showed this fact. Surigao is actually the of fspring of the historic province or district, as it was previously called during the Spanish period, of Caraga. It was from this historic beginning of Caraga whose existence dates back to the arrival of Magellan in 1521 from which the province of Surigao came into being during the Spanish colonial period. Surigao later on became known as the province or district of Surigao. This later Surigao is therefore the mother, if you follow the "tinamban" language of BG, of the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

Its capital town before was Tandag, now the capital city of Surigao del Sur, until the capital of Surigao, then undivided, was transferred to the town of Surigao, now Surigao City and capital of Surigao del Norte, because Tandag could not be effectively defended by the Spaniards from periodic Moro attacks. In dramatic terms, Caraga is the mother of the Spanish province or district of Surigao which later became known as Surigao province. So, Surigao del Norte now, together with Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Nor te are its children! Therefore, the towns of Placer, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Mainit, etc. are grandchildren of the province of Surigao prior to its division into Surigao del Norte and Sur. Correct an calculation ni BG!

Historically and traditionally, as foundation days are reckoned with, taking a cue from Manila and Cebu, Surigao existed even during the early days of the Spanish regime. Surigao evolved across the years, first as an ecomienda and later on as a Clerico-Militar government composed of numerous "reducciones" (reduced settlements) along the Pacific coast inhabited by the minions of the Spanish crown i.e. friars, soldiers, members of the civil government, etc. and the "conquistas" or natives converted to the Catholic faith. Then, much later as a clericomilitary- civil government. The evolution of Surigao is a complex and long process.

It had various phases as already enumerated above. It evolved and took various political forms as a political entity during at least three regimes i.e. Spanish Colonial regime which lasted for almost 400 years; the American period which lasted until July 4, 1946 and Philippine Government under President Emilio Aguinaldo from June 19, 1898 until about 1999. One has to study it well as one should study the history of Surigao unless you're hopelessly ignorant and believes Surigao has no history at all! With such scanty and meager knowledge of Philippine nay Surigaonon history, I'm really amazed the indecent haste with which our provincial board has declared May 16, 1901 as Surigao's foundation day. With that single act of ignorance, a very important part of our history, culture, tradition and legacy as Surigaonons has been obliterated. What was Surigao during the Spanish period and the Philippine revolution?

From early Spanish records and accounts which can easily be gleaned from Blair and Robertson's ponderous work "The Philippine IsLands," we find this significant narrative during the time of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi: "From a list of 145 Spanish Gobernadores, most of them former sailors, crewmembers of former expeditions and royal colonists, Pedro Navarro and Garcia Sierras Chacon were appointed to rule the district of Surigao and Parasao (Cantilan) on Jan. 25, 1571. Guido de Lavezares was given his commission to administer Butuan on Sept. 5, 1672." Surigao thus started as an encomienda or "to entrust" meaning people, actually peasants and slaves were place under the authority of the encomiendero who exacted tributes and force labor from them (read more on the subject from your history books). Navarro was assigned to the northern section of Surigao while Chacon was given the South. Tandag was the site of the official government of the province with garrisons in Surigao, Gigaquit, Numancia(Caolo), Cantilan and San Fernando in Siargao. These were the pueblos (towns) since they were already existing settlements prior to the arrival of Legaspi.

Let's pause here for a moment and reflect. Our history deserves close and serious reading. Those who take it tightly are bound to be damned - sooner or later. As Rizal once said, "Those who forget their past, especially their language, taste and smell like rotten fish." Or even worst!

P55.3-M Caraga Development Projects Up


BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – To continuously provide basic social services to far-flung communities, especially the highland villagers, the government is allocating another P55,320,000 worth of development projects for various targeted areas in the Caraga Region, said regional social welfare information officer Leah T. Quintana on Thursday.

The Region-13 office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-13) is allocating the amount for development projects through its anti-poverty program called Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), she added.

On the other hand, DSWD-13 Assistant Regional Director Mita G. Lim also said this new funding remains part of the expansion of the Kalahi-CIDSS project and the first loan agreement with the World Bank (WB).

The grant will be used for targeted municipalities to implement the Kalahi-CIDSS through infrastructure projects.

It was learned that the program is being expanded to another nine new municipalities in the region.

“The project expansion will commence with simultaneous project launching in the respective areas, and MoA (Memorandum of Agreement) signing with key partner stakeholders that will happen within the next two weeks,” Lim said.

Lim said the project will cover the areas of Remedios Trinidad Romualdez and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte, Alegria, Mainit, Tubod, Del Carmen, Burgos, and Sta. Monica in Surigao del Norte, and the far-flung town of Lingig in Surigao del Sur.

Aside from the grant that will come from the DSWD, the beneficiary municipalities will also provide their local counterpart contribution (LCC) in the amount of 30 percent of their respective grants, whether in cash or in kind.

“The Kalahi-CIDSS financial system works in a way that key development players are given roles in planning, budgeting, and decision-making that make up half of the implementation process that ensures transparency and accountability, each contributing an impact in alleviating poverty,” added Lim.

Since its pilot implementation in 2003, the Kalahi-CIDSS project has disbursed a total grant amounting to P357,786,439.20 in completing 490 sub-projects in 321 villages in the 22 municipalities of the Caraga Region.

DSWD-Caraga renews KALAHI-CIDSS partnership with Gigaquit

by. (Keneath John O. Bolisay/RER/NCLM/KJB/PIA-Caraga/DSWD-13)

BUTUAN CITY, April 11 (PIA) -- For its second year of implementation, the government’s anti-poverty project Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), through the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Caraga renewed its engagement with the local government unit (LGU) of Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte with two development projects underway.

Through a memorandum of agreement signed recently, the LGU is set to implement two community-driven development projects. These are the “regular” three-year cycle of KALAHI-CIDSS and the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) for one year.

Both are community-driven development anti-poverty projects implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The financial mechanism of KALAHI-CIDSS comprises a local counterpart contribution (LCC) scheme for which the local government unit will receive a Kalahi-CIDSS grant of P5,850,000 and at the same time will provide a 30 percent LCC of P2,674,285.71 for infrastructure projects.

Three identified conflict-affected barangays in the municipality will also receive a grant of P900,000 from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for peace and development projects aimed at building resilient communities.

TESDA presents Siargao Island’s first batch of graduates

by. (Provincial Information Center/FEA/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

SURIGAO DEL NORTE, Apr. 10 (PIA) -- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Surigao del Norte presented recently its first batch of graduates in Siargao Island in a simple commencement rites held at the Women’s Center in Gen. Luna, this province.

The first batch include 24 for security services, 12 for housekeeping, 24 for healthcare, 10 for massage, and six for bartending with First District Congressman Francisco Matugas as the keynote speaker.

The event carries the theme, “Your gift of learning our tool for nation building.”

Governor Sol Matugas, TESDA Provincial Director Rodrigo de Villa and Gen. Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon, have also graced the graduation ceremony.

Livelihood Plan

by. Mike Crismundo

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte – The employment and livelihood program promoted on Siargao Island by the various local government units started to prosper after the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) presented the first batch of graduates on the program at a commencement rites held here recently at the Women’s Center.

The first batch include 24 for healthcare, 12 for housekeeping, 24 for security services, 10 for massage, and six for bartending. “We are glad that the TESDA program is already here because we are aiming to address unemployment and we also targeting every Surigaonons to be more productive,” said Surigao del Norte 1st District Representative Francisco T. Matugas.

Meet Mindanao’s richest and poorest city mayors

by. Carolyn O. Arguillas

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 April) – Surigao City’s Ernesto Matugas is not only the richest city mayor in Mindanao among 27 of 33 city mayors who filed their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as of yearend 2010, he is also the richest elected government chief executive in Mindanao with a declared net worth of P414.69M. After Matugas, the second richest city mayor in Mindanao is Zamboanga’s Celso Lobregat, at P66.32M or P348.37 million less than Matugas’, followed by Lamitan’s Roderick Furigay who posted a net worth of P30M. The city mayor who posted the lowest net worth is Digos City’s Joseph Penas at P605,068, followed by Bayugan’s Kim Lope Asis at P649,740 and Malaybalay’s Leandro Jose Catarata at P1.21M. (see list in main story)


Matugas was elected mayor of Surigao City in 2010. His brother, Francisco, is a congressman while his sister-in-law, Sol, wife of Francisco, is the incumbent governor of Surigao del Norte. According to his SALN, the mayor is President of Woodridge Properties in Inc., in Alabang, Muntinlupa City since 1997; President of Woodridge College in Bacoor, Cavite since 1984; and Director of Woodridge School-Cebu, Inc., since 2001. From 1978 to 2001, he was an appraiser at the Bureau of Customs, according to his Facebook account. Matugas listed assets worth P419.90M and liabilities of P4.20M. Under real property, totaling P380.07M, he listed five residential lots in Bacoor, Cavite; four in Las Pinas City; three in Surigao City; one in Tagaytay City; one in Navotas; one commercial lot in Surigao City; agricultural lots in Surigao City and Talisay, Cebu; and a 24-hectare agricultural lot in Dapa, Surigao del Norte. Matugas declared a total acquisition cost of P21.41M for all the property. The total of P380.07M he declared he based on the current market value of the land and building improvement. Under personal and other properties, he listed P38.83M: five vehicles (Kia Sorento, Hyundai Starex, Isuzu Altera, Toyota Vios and Hyundai Santa Fe); jewelry, furniture and appliance worth P19M and investment in shares of stocks at P15M. Matugas declared liabilities worth P4.20M – a housing loan worth P3.57M from EastWest Bank; car loan from Banco de Oro for Isuzu ALtera at P461,352.02 and car loan from BPI Family bank for Toyota Vios at P169,792.00 Lobregat Zamboanga’s Mayor Lobregat listed total assets of P76.14M and liabilities of P9.81M. Under real property, he listed only four, none of them in Zamboanga City, worth P9.08M: land and building in Las Pinas purchased in 1976 at P80,000; land in Lipa City, Batangas acquired in 1984 from “inheritance installment” at P6M; condominium in Makati City, acquired as inheritance for P3M but the year it was acquired was not mentioned; and a condominium in Manila acquired in Manila in 2009 as inheritance. Lobregat’s P9.08M declaration is based on the acquisition cost of the Las Pinas, Lipa and Makati property. The Las Pinas property’s assessed value is P113,720; its current fair market value at P717,220. The Lipa land’s assessed value is P239,960 while its current market value is P689,913. There is no assessed value and current fair market value declared for the Makati condominium while the Manila condominium’s assessed value is P455,434 and its current fair market value is at P1.37M. The acquisition cost for the Manila condominium, also acquired as an inheritance like the Makati condominium, is not indicated. He listed under personal and other properties a vehicle acquired in 1994 at P1.9M; appliances, jewelry, furniture and fixtures at P1.24M; and cash, investments and receivables at P63.91M. Lobregat listed 28 firms in which he has shareholdings as of yearend 2010: Aboitiz Equity Ventures, ABS-CBN Corporation, Forum Pacific Inc. (Air Phils, Intl. Corp.), Alabang Golf and Country Club, Alaska Milk Group, ATS Preferred (Aboitiz Transport), Balabagan Agricultural Corp., Cyber Bay Corp. (Centennial City, Inc.), Roxas Company, Inc. (CADC Group Corp.), Roxas Holdings Central Azucarera Don Pedro, Banco de Oro, Fil-Estate Land, Inc., Filipino Fund, Inc., Holcim Phils. Inc., Mabuhay Holdings Corp., Macroasia Corp., L&L Farms and Gardens, Inc.,MRC Allied Industries, Inc., Petron Corp., SM Development Corp., South East Asia Cement, Steniel Mfg. Corp., Swift Foods, Inc., Universal Robina Corp., Arthaland Corp. (EIB Realty Developers), Vitarich Corp., Waterfront Phils. Incl, and Aboitiz Transport System. Lobregat listed as liabilities, an accounts payable worth P9.81M. In 2008, Lobregat’s net worth was P52.26M. Furigay Lamitan’s Mayor Furigay declared assets worth P40M and liabilities worth P10M.

He listed two buildings and lots in Isabela City also in Basilan; one building and lot in Lamitan; two lots in Lamitan – all acquired through loans between 2000 and 2008 – and whose current fair market value totals P38M. Under personal and other properties, Furigay declared furniture and antiques worth P500,000 and jewelries worth P100,000 for total assets worth P38.6M. The computation on Furigay’s SALN, however, was rounded off to P40M less P10M liabilities to make for a net worth of P30M. But based on P38.6M, his net worth should be P28.6M. Still, he remains the third richest, as the fourth — Oroquieta mayor Jason Almonte – posted a net worth of P24.05M. In 2008, Furigay’s net worth was P18M.

Woman dead, 2 missing after boat capsizes off Agusan del Norte

by. Matikas Santos

MANILA, Philippines—A 63-year-old woman died when a motorboat capsized in Lake Mainit, Agusan del Norte Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Wednesday. Another female, Susan Janle Beldisima, was injured and brought to the hospital while two more, Antonette Sebian, 36, and Kris Antony Olimpus, 10, were missing, it said. Melucina Mahilum, the lone fatality in the maritime accident, drowned. According to the NDRRMC report, the boat was carrying 28 local tourists from the Casili Lakeside Resort in Mainit, Surigao del Norte when it capsized at around 4:30pm Tuesday. All other passenger were rescued safely. The cause of the incident was still under investigation, the NDRRMC said.

Mamanwa evacuees get sick; blame NFA rice from LGU

by. Roel Catoto

SAN ISIDRO, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/02 April)— Mamanwa evacuees who have sought refuge here blamed the illnesses that many of them felt on the rice reportedly coming from the municipal government. Many of the evacuees suffered stomach pains, diarrhea, colds, fever and stress a day after each family received two kilos of NFA (National Food Authority) rice that from the town’s social welfare and development office, Jun Calinawan, of sitio Bongogon said. Calinawan said that was the only help they have received from the local government. He asked the local government not to give them NFA rice again. He also appealed to those who wanted to help not to give them the same foodstuff so that their suffering in the evacuation site may not worsen. “Grabe gyod kalisod among kahimtang diri tapos tagaan pa mi og magkadaot among tiyan,” (Our situation here is difficult and yet they gave us food that’s not good for our stomach.) Calinawan said. Pedong Mahupay and Sinayang Hubasan of sitio Pagbangayan said they suffered stomach pain after eating the NFA rice. Mahupay’s two-year-old son, Angelo, caught colds and fever and complained of stomach pain too. The evacuees said a one-year old baby girl, Marife Iligan was sent to Caraga Regional Hospital after suffering fever and diarrhea. Others complained of headache, stress and other ailments. They asked the government to provide them doctors and medicines. Hubasan said they have to endure the severe heat during daytime and the cold from the evening to the early hours of the morning. MindaNews tried to contact Gigaquit Mayor Arturo Carlos Egay, Sr., through his mobile phone but he did not reply. The Mamanwas have built fourteen makeshift huts near the dam with each hut being shared by three families. Many flies could be seen flying around their temporary abodes. Saying they fear they might become the next victims, the Mamanwas from the communities of Pagbangayan, Katikuyan, Bongogon and Kalatinga numbering 66 families or 259 individuals have sought refuge in an island formed by silt, near the dam in Baoy River in this barangay. The shooting on March 23 of a Mamanwa in Barangay Camam-onan allegedly by soldiers belonging to the 30th Infantry Battalion has forced other tribal villagers to evacuate.

Datu Geni Calisangan of Bongogon said they got scared after Balodoy Enano was shot allegedly by soldiers while gathering firewood together with three other men. Enano was discharged from the Caraga Regional Hospital after being treated of his wound in the upper chest. He claimed it was members of the 30th IB who shot him. The military denied the accusation. The Mamanwas have asked the military to stop the operations in their villages so that they could go back. “Wala gyod mi kabalo kanus-a mi makauli, hadlok pa man kami kay naa pa may mga sundalo didto,” (We don’t know when we can go back to our homes; we are still afraid because the soldiers are still there.) said Eugene Calinawan from Sitio Bongogon. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)

Church groups help traumatized evacuees

by. BEN SERRANO, Correspondent

BUTUAN City--The Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM), the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) and the Diocese of the Butuan have pooled their resources to help nearly 500 evacuees, especially the children traumatized as a result of fierce fightings between the military and the New People's Army (NPA). Since March 5, some 455 evacuees or about 200 lumad families from hinterLand areas of Kitcharao and Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte and Alegria, and Gigaquit towns in Surigao del Norte, evacuated due to fears of being caught in the crossfires between military and rebel forces.

They have been transferring from one evacuation center to another since March 5, the evacuees claimed. The human rights watchdog Karapatan, Gabriela, Bayan Muna and Kasalo, in their separate press statements, criticized the Agusan del Norte capitol under Gov. Erlpe Amante over its alleged failure to help the evacuees. They also accused local officials of allegedly driving the evacuees away from their temporarily shelters at the capitol compound here. The capitol has yet to respond to the accusations.

The evacuees and the groups also criticized other local governments over their alleged failure to conduct an investigation and determine the root cause of the evacuations. Some of the evacuees complained of being forced to return to their homes. Sister Maria Fe Vargas of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Congregation here said her group and the UCCP were helping the evacuees who have set up temporary shelters at the Barangay Imadejas covered court. She said many of the evacuees were suffering trauma. Kasalo secretary general Genasque Enriquez said volunteers from the Office of the Diocese of Butuan Auxiliary Bishop Zacarias Jimenez dstributed relief goods and were helping in addressing the problem of trauma in the evacuation center.

"The evacuees, especially the children, need counseling so they could overcome whatever trauma or sad experiences they had. When you are away from your home for almost a month and you don't know what happened to your house, your livestock or whatever things you left behind, it causes worries and uneasiness. They really counseling," Vargas said.

UCCP Pastor Raffy Morgado said his church also sent volunteers to conduct antitrauma and anti-stress sessions. "We talk and dialogue with them, we give them time to say everything and then we allow them to explain what solutions they want. Then we give them counseling," Morgado said. Pastor Morgado and Sister Vargas appealed to government officials and people who want the evacuees out of the Barangay Imadejas covered court due sanitation and overcrowding to be compassionate. "They are people, not garbage and pigs. We appeal to Gov. Amante and other concerned officials to do something because they are your constituents."

EMB asks Surigao Norte gov to order small-scale miners to build settling ponds

by. Roel Catoto

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/31 March) — The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Caraga has asked Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas to order the small scale mining group operating in and near Parang-parang watershed to institute measures to contain mining waste. In a letter dated March 6, Ester A. Olavides, OIC regional director of EMB-Caraga said based on the site inspection report of her Technical Staff last February 1,“this office concurs with the recommendations of the technical staff that the Honorable Governor shall order the association (Nagkahiusang Gagmayng Minero or NAGAMI) to institute mitigating measures by constructing environmental engineering structures (e.g. series of settling ponds) to mitigate the possible negative impacts caused by this mining operations such as acid mine, soil erosion, siltation and sedimentations of the affected water bodies.” The issuance of small-scale mining permits is a function devolved to the local government unit (LGU). Earlier, Benjamin Ensomo, Jr., general manager of Surigao Metropolitan Water District (SMWD) said activities by small scale mining in Parang-parang watershed have caused turbid waters downstream affecting the future source of potable water including the proposed intake dam of SMWD. He said the water effluents which flowed down to Surigao River obviously pollute the water. Ensomo said no wonder the Surigao River has become murky. Earlier, out of several dozens of tunnels located just several meters away from buffer zone, a dozen of newly-dug tunnels owned by Mamanwas are found within the buffer zone. Mamanwa miners are not associated with NAGAMI. Ivonnie Dumadag, chief of Provincial Environment and Management Office (PEMO) –Surigao del Norte, said Governor Sol F. Matugas will implement next month the recommendation of the EMB. “Tag approve ni Governor Matugas for implementation ang tanan recommendation sa EMB” (Governor Matugas approved for implementation the recommendations of the EMB), Dumadag said in a text message to MindaNews Friday. Junribel Bustillo, NAGAMI spokesperson, said the stand of small mining groups is to “follow the recommendations of EMB and all legal process.”

Bustillo said their group is now planning on building settling ponds. Last Thursday, EMB conducted a data base sampling to determine the mercury level in downstream creeks and rivers in Parang-parang watershed. The same is a prelude of the creation of the Minahan Ng Bayan or People’s Small Scale Mining which the SMWD strong opposes, claiming it will adversely affect the water sources. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)


The older news reports are kept here