caraga region

Bislig execs decry illegal police raid on Lozada slay

November 14, 2017

BISLIG City officials have cried foul over what they claimed as illegal entry of police operatives at the premises of thae city hall on Nov. 7 without a search warrant from the court to arrest the suspected lookout of gunmen who shot and killed radio broadcaster Christopher Lozada on Oct. 24. City Mayor Librado Navarro said department heads at the city hall have sent a complaint letter to Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy and Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, regarding the alleged illegal search of a government vehicle at the City General Services Office when they arrested the suspect Felixberto Villocino Jr. The Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Lozada led by Superintendent Cesar Paday-os, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection in Caraga region, raided the City General Services Office to search the Toyota Hi-Ace van believed to be used by the gunmen to kill Lozada, a staunch critic of Navarro who was Station manager of Prime FM Bislig. Lozada, host of the public affairs program “Kuskos-Batikos,” died instantly. His girlfriend, Honey Faith Indog, was wounded. Navarro said Paday-os led a group of 20 police operatives in full battle gear to raid the city hall to conduct the illegal search without even making a courtesy call to him before they carry out their mission. The operatives recovered from Villocino, a hand grenade and a caliber 357 pistol. “I am appealing to the concerned government agencies to please respect the local government of Bislig as an institution,” Navarro said in his message which was posted on his Facebook wall and shared by some netizens. Paday-os was however relieved of his post a day after the raid and was replaced by Superintendent Jun Caduyac but the CIDG refused to make any statement to radio stations in Butuan City making live queries on their public affairs program last week. Navarro described Villocino’s arrest as a “welcome development.” He however raised concerns over what he said was a concerted effort by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security and the SITG Lozada to implicate him in Lozada’s murder, supposedly through Villocino. Navarro, who has been tagged as a “person of interest” in Lozada’s death, had denied any involvement in the attack on the broadcaster. He said even he was tagged as such, not one of any police investigator came to interrogate him personally, so that he could clear his name.

Displaced flood victims now living in decent new homes

November 13, 2017

LA PAZ, Agusan del Sur--- Some 44 families in Barangay Angeles who were displaced by the disastrous floods that hit the province in February this year now lives in decent new homes to a safer relocation area. The recipients of new wooden shelters were recently moved to a new resettlement area thanks to the joint efforts of the Local Government Unit of La Paz (LGU La Paz), the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur (PGAS), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The resettlement project was realized after stakeholders agreed on a joint initiative with the provincial government providing the roofing materials, the LGU La Paz the wood supplies, TESDA trained all the fathers of the recipient families on carpentry skills while DSWD Caraga extended P40,000 as emergency assistance which serves as the “Food for Work” concept until the houses were finished. Many of the recipients were displaced when their homes were washed out by rampaging floodwaters when flash floods caught thousands of residents by surprised causing a magnitude of calamity in the affected areas. The resettlement area was located to a safer grounds from what used to be a community living near the river banks and the village was renamed “New Angeles.” The turnover ceremony was witnessed representatives from PGAS headed by Forester Ronulfo R. Paler, Acting Provincial Administrator and Tirso Gomez, Municipal Administrator of LGU La Paz together with the two SB Member Weng Pilayo and Gomez Junior.

Mindanao railway to benefit farmers in remote areas: JV

October 12, 2017

BAYUGAN City--Senator JV Ejercito said the much awaited multi-billion pesos Mindanao Railway Network project, which implementation starts next year would surely benefit villagers in the far-flung areas of this province. The pro administration lawmaker made this assurance during his recent visit to Barangay Sto. Niño of this city , a far-flung mountain village, with the invitation of Governor Adolph Edward Plaza to celebrate the festivities of the residents. “I am very glad and elated to learn that I am the first Senator to visit Barangay Sto. Nino here in Bayugan City. With the construction of the Mindanao railway system, the least benefited citizen here will have the opportunity to develop because it will be much easier to transport your products from one point in Mindanao to another point riding on a train,” Ejercito said. With the realization of the railway system, Sen. Ejercito said income of the people will improve while poverty will be eradicated. “When this time comes, there will be color of peace in Mindanao,” he added. The senator from San Juan City who chairs the Senate Committee on Health visited the province to personally see the newly constructed buildings of D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital located within the government center complex of the Provincial Capitol in Prosperidad town. He vowed to do his best to provide hospital facilities that are lacking at the DOPMH upon his return to his office in Manila. “I am here to see for myself what we can do for Mindanao, Agusan del Sur and Bayugan City. We will make it sure that these places will be genuinely developed whatever we can do in order to deliver the best government services specially on health,” Sen. Ejercito said. While listening to the message of the senator, Gov. Plaza’s attention was caught by plenty of children around the vicinity. Being an advocate of family planning, the governor advised parents to control their overflowing love for each other and suggested that there should only two children per couple to ensure they have enough food for their normal growth while assured of brighter future through good education.

Surigao fishersfolk protect marine sanctuaries by heart

October 11, 2017

CORTES, Surigao del Sur--- Fishersfolk of this wide coastal town have been collectively guarding their rich marine sanctuaries and fishing grounds with heartfelt dedication. No wonder this once virtually unknown town gained national prominence when it became the first grand winner of sustainable coastal management competition besting other finalists in the efforts in protecting and conserving their marine environments. Endowed with 56,000 hectares of municipal waters which is much larger than its 13,059 hectares of land area, the residents’ commitment to safeguard their marine preservation areas (MPAs) in recent years made them as the grand winner of the Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) 2016 initiated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Cortes Mayor William Angos, a lawyer and an accountant, received the citation from President Rodrigo Duterte during the awarding rites in Malacanang on March 7 this year. The municipality of Cortes received P20 million prize which will be used to continue their marine conservation program. Angos, a true-blue marine conservationist who is a scuba diver and mountain trekker, admitted he confronted a big challenge when he became mayor in 2013 on how to deal with conserving their marine resources while most of the residents remain poor. “I was confronted with conservation as a social problem. Unless we address their hunger pangs, the fishersfolk would always be tempted to intrude into our marine sanctuaries,” Angos said. In the last four years, the local government has embarked on a no-nonsense awareness drive to residents on fishery laws and regulations while engaging the fisherfolks to tightly guard their municipal waters against all forms of illegal fishing activities . Angos, who disclosed it was just accidental when he entered local politics in 2013 while spending a vacation in his hometown for a diving spree, said the first two years of strictly enforcing fishery laws was crucial since it was met with cold reception from fisherfolk and resistance from illegal fishers. The campaign became successful with the help of Vincent Dueñas, a fellow of an NGO called RARE Philippines who later became Municipal Coastal Resource Management Officer, when he spearheaded a community-based campaign through peoples organizations in the sustainable management and enforcement of MPAs in the 12 villages of Cortes. The campaign involved fisherfolk, couples, students and even out-of-school youth to become integral part in activities to improve biodiversity in the coastal areas of their respective communities by reducing at least 95 percent of the intrusion of spearfishing and fine-meshed net with scaring devices within the no-take zone. Dueñas said this can be achieved if residents have a sense ownership of the MPAs and are involved in the governance and enforcement. Angos said they are bent on institutionalizing the campaign with an increase awareness especially to their fisherfolk to become their credo in their daily routines while fishing the seas that is facing the Pacific Ocean. According to BFAR study, the coastal areas of Cortes support abundant and diverse ecosystems of coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and soft bottom environment that are habitats of a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. The coral reefs of Cortes are most likely among the largest in Lanuza Bay with an estimated area of 2,780 hectares. Its seagrass beds and algal flats are estimated at 1,500 hectares while total area of mangrove forest was recorded at 330 hectares. Cortes, though relatively a small municipality, is the major supplier of fresh seafood and first class fish in the Surigao del Sur including bangkawan (mottled spinefoot), kitong (Goldspot Spitefoot), langub/talakitok (Trevally/Jack), gangis (Horned Surgeonfish) and tangigue (Spanish Mackerel). Using the multi-sectoral stakeholders approach, the town council has crafted several significant local fishery policies and regulations including the 100 percent registration of all local fishermen with ID system, registration of yellow-coded boats and gears and the establishment of Coastal Resource Management Office complete with qualified staff and officers. Already, education and awareness on marine conservation inculcated to residents in all walks of life were best displayed during the recent week-long Kalogatan Festival 2017 when a pageant dubbed Ultimate Fisherman Champion (UFC) represented by each village includes a question and answer portion where contestants were asked about their knowledge on marine biodiversity and fishery laws. The same approach was applied in a separate color coding quiz show at the municipal gym where selected residents were given multiple choices on red, blue and white lines for the right answer of the questions. A special award was also given to the best village and peoples organization for the outstanding implementation of MPAs in their respective areas which went to Barangay Burgos and Kadagatan Ampingan Pagmata Katawhan (KAAMPAKA). Angos said they are now shifting to human development concept as key to sustainable marine conservation for this year’s entry to national MMK competition. The concept dwelt on developing a sustainable coconut farming and eco-tourism industry so that residents could also engage in other progressive livelihood activities. Dueñas, who is the main consultant of the mayor, said coconut farmers will be introduced with the ideal organic farming system using mykovam soil-based biological fertilizer developed by University of the Philippines –Los Baños. Angos said he will develop different eco-tourism livelihood programs to showcase the Laswitan Lagoon which already attracted local and foreign alike during the Amihan season (Northeast monsoon that occurs between November to February) because of the waterfall-like effect when big surf of waves from Pacific Ocean lambasts the rock formation. He is also working on a municipal fish landing port project in the village of Tigao where he projected a 300 to 500 percent increase in local revenue collections. “I am already worried of the resources of our seas that the time would come on the vicious cycle of overfishing,” Angos said to explain about the need to take on their holistic livelihood approaches to address the basic needs of the residents. He wanted to quit politics when his term ends in 2019 so he could focus more on financial needs of his family now that he had two children entering college by that time. “ I don’t have messianic tendencies,” saying he don’t want to stay longer as their town’s leader to be regarded as the residents’ savior from heaven.

Army soldiers bring home coffins of fallen NPA rebs

October 10, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--- For humanitarian reasons, Army soldiers brought home the remains of two fallen communist guerillas to their respective families, ten days after they were killed in an encounter in the hinterland village of Binicalan in San Luis town. 2nd Lieutenant Romel Arnado, Civilian-Military Officer of the 26th Infantry Battalion, said the delay in transporting the decomposing remains of the two young New Peoples Army rebels was caused by the inability of military choppers considering the area where they were recovered is hardly accessible by land vehicles. With the help of Mayor Jesryl Masendo of Talacogon town, the families along with the services of a local funeral parlor claimed the remains of the NPA casualties Joy Martinez, 21, alias Tata/Norbeng, a resident of Marbon in Talacogon town and Michael Sanchez , 27, a resident of Esperanza town, on October 7 and finally respectively brought them home a day after because of the long distance of travel Arnado said they were requesting a chopper of the Philippine Air Force to immediately retrieve the slain rebels but there were none available since all are on standby in Marawi due to the ongoing crisis there. Masendo disclosed the family of Martinez had earlier sought help from him to negotiate the slain rebel and his identical twin to lay down their arms and surrender several months back but they could not establish a communication with them until they just learned Joy was killed in the encounter with troopers from the Bravo Company of 26th IB. Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, commanding officer of 26IB, believed the other twin could have been already killed in a separate encounter. Col. Andres Centino, commanding officer of the 401st Army Brigade, has extended sympathy to the families of the fallen NPA rebels saying the two were just victims of the useless war waged by the communist armed struggle. Meanwhile, six NPA rebels who recently surrendered to Masendo and the 26IB were given each of them immediate financial livelihood assistance of P15,000,a sack of rice and some food stuff. The former rebels belonging to Front 88 said to be under Kumander Antoy yielded 11 long firearms which could be processed for another cash assistance of P50,000 for each weapon under the funding of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Higaonons build new lumad schools

September 25, 2017

ESPERANZA, Agusan del Sur--Higaonon residents in the far-flung hinterland Hinamaybay village take pride of constructing two new school buildings after two months of voluntary works in the spirit of Bayanihan. The new schools, consisting of one two-classroom and another three-classroom buildings designed with a Higaonon culture concept are now ready to use to some 216 elementary pupils and 75 secondary grade 7 and 8 students . Built under the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-Cidss) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD), the new P3.9 million classroom buildings were inaugurated by Esperanza Mayor Leonida Manpatilan and local officials on Wednesday, September 20. Considered by the Department of Education as lumad public school, five of the eleven teachers who belong to the different indigenous tribes of this province will teach the school children using the Higanonon medium of instruction in all subjects in the elementary and secondary level. The opening of the 3-classroom building is also a welcome sigh of relief to the grade 7 and 8 students as they would no longer trek some seven to nine kilometers rugged roads and mountain trail to study in secondary schools in the distant neighboring villages. Kinamaybay is an isolated community inhabited by 90 percent Higaonons which can be only reached by habal-habal motorcycles and 4-wheel drive vehicles with its interior roads can be only accessed using the national highway connecting La Nieves town in Agusan del Norte. It was once disturbed by the bombings at the height of atrocities between New Peoples Army rebels and Army soldiers in 2010 but residents confronted their sad plight to a committed resolve to instead help one another to uplift their socioeconomic condition. This had drawn government attention, making them recipients of various Kalahi-Cidss projects funded by the World Bank in the past years. Visiting DSWD officials were impressed with the way residents cooperate as everybody would be present at a gathering for a meeting at the multipurpose hall of the village as soon as they hear the clang of the distant bell. Aside from the new school building, the residents were recipients of previous Kalahi-Cidss sub projects, including village road, day care center, rice and corn mill, solar dryer and concrete pathway which were realized because of the residents active participation as stakeholders during the implementation stages of the projects. During her visit, Manpatilan also inaugurated the P680,00 300-meter road leading to the new secondary school building and the turnover of P2.5 million farm tractor. “This is a 4-in-1 projects here that will bring total makeover of the community,” the mayor said.. She lauded the Kalahi-Cidss program as a holistic approach that had given residents a proud sense of ownership. Samuel Ampahan, chairperson of Barangay Sub Project Management Committee, said the residents’ sincere commitment to participate in realizing the projects which were carried out with transparency and accountability was the key to their success. He recalled many of those who volunteered to become part of the project monitoring team did not have formal education at school, but managed to learn skills from the trainings that taught them the intricacies on the standards and regulations of the projects. Some of the residents admitted the training and workshops and their exposure on canvassing the materials outside their village helped them better persons to socialize in the outside world, a transformation from the traditional traits of a Higaonon who are meek and shy. Ampahan, a pastor of a Christian church in the village, has been a Kalahi-Cidss volunteer leader for 11 years which made him a finalist in the program’s national awards this year. Village chief Rolando Pinahan said the projects that the community received served as an instrument to develop their ancestral domain.” We never thought the projects would come here,” Pianhan said, adding in local vernacular that “ walay man mi kurso kon grado pero ang among pagka kursunada maoy nagpatuman niining tanan (We did not have courses in education but our strong will and determination made this all happen.)” The Lumad public school would be the first in Caraga with complete package using the indigenous teaching curriculum under the K-12 educational program. The five Lumad teachers, even with the absence of teaching materials and textbooks, have taught the elementary school children the different subjects using the Higaonon dialect. Virginia Talidro, Supervisor of Department of Education District I of Esperanza, said the Lumad teachers have undergone trainings during summer time for them to internalize in the K12 program the indigenization and contextualization of the curriculum. “These will be integrated across learning areas of the school chidren,” she said. Leo Madrina, Teacher-In-Charge of Hinamaybay Elementary School, said two English and Science volunteer teachers who are Lumads are now teaching the grade 7 and grade 8 students who will be transferring to the new three-classroom school buildings. Already, the Lumad teachers have been tasked to work on the orthography of Higaonon dialect and the materials will be given to the tribal leaders for validation.


Subscribe Now!

Receive email updates from Mindanao Daily News.