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PENRO-DENR Sorsogon rep failed to name names


SORSOGON CITY — The strict adherence to protocol of PENRO-DENR Sorsogon representative at the hearing conducted during the session by the city council Tuesday, March 3, 2020 for public disclosure of their investigation and technical conference reports as to who are the persons liable for the illegal logging at the eco-park in Cabarbuhan and at San Vicente Bacon District that sometimes government is not on the side of the public.

Even with the pinpoint questions, it insists that there are rules as an internal policy for them that the release of investigation and technical reports or any documents related to that need the approval of the regional office prompting East District councilor Joven Laura to say that he fears a whitewash.

The resource person invoking several times the exemption clause to divulge certain information to the public did not name names of the persons involved in it being the lead agency who conducted the investigation. The investigation centered on the violation of PD 705, the Forestry Act that carries a criminal liability for those found guilty. The severity of the penalty depends on the amount the least is one-year imprisonment for every ten thousand peso value.

It was this reason that the names were withheld for the regional legal department will be responsible to determine if there is a probable cause out of the evidence gathered can be hauled to court was the excuse given.

When asked why they cannot file a case with the pieces of evidence on hand, it skimped on the issue again repeating the internal policy of their office much to the irritation of Councilor Nestor Baldon saying that in his years as a police officer, with the evidence on hand, they can file a case outright while your office needs the blessing of higher-ups before a case can be file considering the magnitude of the offense. Questioning of councilor Franco Eric Ravanilla was replied the same. The posturing was all base on internal rules.

Laura also added that simple cases citing his defense for small-time offenders were summarily hauled to court by environment department people without securing the authority to file from regional people thereby again believe that the inability to reveal and furnished the council copy of the investigation further leads to a whitewash. That doubt persisted for the council was not afforded a copy of the internal memorandum citing the prohibition.

The only assurance that the reports will be transmitted to the regional office and can be acted for an undetermined period of time and they to determine if court action is warranted.

When asked why as the lead agency they were not able to monitor the incident the reply was the oft-repeated line that they lack personnel and it added that it is also a responsibility of the landowner to make sure that it be safeguarded from illegal logging. [Felix ‘Boy” Espineda, Jr. / Bicol Today]

Sorsogon City ENRO tagged Noel Dreu for illegal logging


SORSOGON CITY — With a jam-packed crowd to hear who was behind the illegal logging of hardwood at the city-owned forest land in Barangay Cabarbuhan and San Vicente at Bacon District, Sorsogon City. Ronando Gerona, City Environment and Natural Resorouces Officer (CENRO) identified Noel Dreu, secretary of the city council who was also designated as deputy administrator for Bacon District also the in-charge of the clean and green program was behind the illegal logging of seventy-nine fully grown trees.

Gerona said, that it conducted three inspections of different dates at the affected areas upon the directive of the city mayor when it received reports of the illegal activities reported by the residents of the barangays, that they conducted interviews with the barangay officials who revealed that vehicles with Sorsogon city markings were seen hauling the cut lumber. The driver was also identified as a job order employee at the city hall and a close confidant of Dreu, as certain Resty Gonzales.

The report was made public after the go-ahead from the city administrator present and the city legal officer.

Also identified are Severino Detera and a Nonoy Detera and a certain Hubilla, all of San Roque, Bacon who are all job order employees helped in transporting the lumber on several occasions was the information given by one of the barangay officials when asked by Bicol Today, adding that they are very close to Dreu. Julieta Rosas the caretaker of the Cabarbuhan eco-park alleged that it was Noel Dreu who ordered the cutting and was informed by him that the lumber will be used by the city for the construction of stalls.

Rosas was overheard at the hearing saying that during the investigation at PENRO-DENR Sorsogon office he already pinpointed Dreu as the person who ordered the illegal logging at Cabarbuhan and he was there inspecting the progress of the cutters.

Another revelation was the use of the city disaster office of the chainsaw which was released to Michael Sincua in behalf of the request of Dreu. The unit was released on January 7, 2020, and was returned February 17, 2020, the timeframe of the illegal activities at Cabarbuhan and San Vicente. The release was made that it will be used by the team of Dreu to clear portions of certain areas devastated by typhoon Tisoy was the reason given by Sincua.

On his part, Dreu accused Gerona, City ENRO; Atty. Roberto Labitag, City Legal Officer that they have an ax to grind against him, he resorted for a radio interview naming former city councilor Manuel Diolata, Jobert Bercasio, a mediaman, his assistant secretary Nonoy Sipoy and some media entities for over-reporting. [Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr. / Bicol Today]

International human rights group raises red flag on PH new anti-terror bill


LEGAZPI CITY — The Senate’s new anti-terrorism bill is designed “to arm-twist” legitimate dissent into submission, “weaponizing” the law to suppress critics and activists, says an international human rights group.

If approved to become a law, it is tantamount to training the gun barrel on rural Filipinos under suspicion of supporting rebellious groups, and impacting a “de-facto martial law” on areas under military operations. These are the possible outcomes once the anti-terrorism bill is approved into law.

The International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemns the recent approval of the anti-terrorism bill in the Philippine Senate, a statement was sent Tuesday to Bicol Today in Naga City.

“We are appalled by how laws that further curtail the freedoms of the Filipinos are being railroaded under the Duterte government,” said ICHRP chairperson Peter Murphy.

According to ICHRP, the proposed law seeks to amend and bolster the country’s current Human Security Act, a repressive law that has been repeatedly used to justify arrests and file trumped up charges against activists and government’s critics.

If made into law, the new version allows violations of human rights such as the right to security and privacy, curtailment of the freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to due process. It legalizes warrantless arrest and detainment and even allows wiretapping and other surveillance in extended periods of time.

“This erodes the freedoms and liberties of Filipinos which are inalienable, guaranteed by its Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally agreed upon instruments to which the Philippines is a signatory,” ICHRP said.

Grassroots organisations and progressives have spoken up against the proposed bill. Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance of the Philippines notes that “this draconian law will surely be used to intimidate, silence and jail critics, political dissenters, members of the opposition, critical media, and anyone that gets the ire of the President.”

While the biggest organisation of farmers for land reform KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines insists that “it will give wide authority to categorise otherwise legal acts, profession and business, as criminal.”

According to the farmers, it will also institutionalize the branding and tagging of activists especially of the rural poor who are plagued and traumatized by massive militarization.

Recently, people rights alliance Karapatan joined other concerned groups to call for the junking of the law as counterpart bills are pending to complete its full passage.

“It infringes on and effectively curtails people’s democratic rights and lays the legal groundwork for a de facto martial rule,” says Karapatan in a press conference.

ICHRP supports the Filipino people in their fight to defend their civil and political rights and oppose the weaponization of the law against its citizens.

“We have seen the political killings; heard the accounts of survivors and family members; and felt the growing discontent of Filipinos. This law will not in any way protect civilians from acts of terrorism, instead, it will only intensify the already deplorable human rights situation under the Duterte government,” Murphy said.

ICHRP is calling on other freedom loving peoples around the world to condemn the anti-terrorism bill. It pledges to garner more support for the Filipinos in resisting attacks and in defending their basic human rights.

Sorsogon human rights hits back General Paralde’s “conspiracy theories” on killing witch-hunt


SORSOGON CITY — Progressive groups in Sorsogon hit Lt. General Parlade for his irresponsible remarks linking their groups in “conspiratorial collaboration” with the NPA for the killing Saturday of a ex-NPA turned military asset in Casiguran, Sorsogon Province.

“Here in Sorsogon, red-tagging, guilt-by-association, trumped up charges, EJKs and the threat of EJK are daily fare for activists of the national democratic movement. And now, Lt. General Antonio Parlade is accusing us for the death of NPA surrenderees.” human rights group KARAPATAN said in a statement Monday.

KARAPATAN Sorsogon reacted sharply to Lt. General Parlade’s statement as reported in government-run Philippine News Agency [PNA] that “legal organizations Karapatan, Gabriela, Bayan, lawyers group NUPL, and other militant organizations are accountable for the killing of a military asset by the NPA.”

Lt. Gen. Parlade, Jr., chief of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in a statement released to PNA last Sunday, February 23, following the shooting-to-death of a certain Antonio Benson, aka “Hazel” and “Pita”, by the NPA, named “Karapatan, NUPL, Gabriela and others” accountable for the actions of the NPA.

Parlade also said that “the government will do everything in its authority to give justice to former NPA rebels who were mercilessly killed by their comrades”.

KARAPATAN lashed out to Parlade for stating menacingly that “it is only a matter of time before justice will catch up against . . .who are the brains behind these atrocities”.

KARAPATAN vowed: “By “justice” in the context of Parlade’s view means the killing of activists of the legal democratic organizations. To this we say: activists will be killed not for the reason that Parlade and his minions allege but because of their advocacy to fight for a Philippine society that is peaceful, humane, democratic, just and free.

Accuser, judge, executioner: this is the core doctrine of all despotic regimes in the history of governments and societies, the same doctrine that guides the Duterte regime in its implementation of MO 32 and EO 70. Lt. General Antonio Parlade, Jr. is, presently, the accuser, judge and would-be executioner of the activists in the Province of Sorsogon.”

KARAPATAN continued:

“Is Parlade talking about a government that is in accord with the precepts of democracy, or the tyrannical dispensation that President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have instituted in this country? It is obvious in the words of Parlade that he is referring to the government of Duterte which is contemptuous of decency and existing laws of society. And what a perverted sense in seeking justice for the death of NPA surrenderees? General Parlade is holding Karapatan, NUPL, Gabriela, et al, responsible for an offense committed by the NPA! Can justice be truly served if it is not anchored on our constitutional justice and penal system? The Bill of Rights of our own Constitution speaks of procedural due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But Parlade had already declared Karapatan and the rest guilty for the death of “Pita” and other NPA surrenderees! Is this the kind of justice that he wants to pervade?”

On tagging as “communist front”, KARAPATAN explains:

“The General also tattled about the oft-repeated propaganda lie of the police and military tagging Karapatan and the rest of progressive organizations as “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF. We vehemently deny this baseless and malicious accusation that is intended to condition the mind of the people to justify hideous acts that the police and military may bear upon us in the future.

WHO are WE, KARAPATAN clarifies:

“Like the mass organization of peasants who are fighting for genuine land reform, of workers who are fighting for higher wages and security of tenure, and of women fighting for women’s rights, etc., Karapatan has also an advocacy to fight for, like the promotion, respect and defense of human rights and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace. There is no rhyme and reason to call these organizations fighting for their own sectoral interests and advocacies as “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF or any organization. Further, Parlade accuses us of providing the NPA information about the location and activities of NPA surrenderees. How can we do that? Our hands are full with fact-finding missions looking into extrajudicial killings, physical injuries, warrantless arrests and searches and other serious human rights abuses of the AFP and PNP in the province making it impossible for us to perform sleuthing or detective work for the NPA apart from the fact that providing information to the NPA is not, and will never be, a part of our task. We emphasize categorically that we do not have any hierarchical, organizational or integral relations with the NPA.”

Leni Robredo’s anti-drug post given to another Bicolano


CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – After kicking out Vice-President Leni Robredo from the anti-drug post, President Duterte appointed Dante Jimenez as the new anti-drug boss on Friday.

Jimenez is known as an anti-crime advocate and chair of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

Duterte named Jimenez as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, a post briefly held by Robredo last year.

Jimenez’s appointment which was signed February 21 was announced Friday including with other new appointments.

Jimenez, a pro-active anti crime advocate, used to lead the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption prior to his appointment to the PACC in 2018.

He belongs to the family that owns the Philippine Mariners Institute in Naga City and another maritime school in Legazpi City. [Joey Natividad/Bicol Today]

Ambulance driver shot dead in Bulan, Sorsogon


BULAN, Sorsogon – An ambulance driver was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Monday evening, March 2, about 6 pm at Barangay Somagongsong, this town. The incident was relayed to the police by Barangay chairwoman Maria Teresa Advincula.

The victim was Felix Chico aka Jamil, legal age, married, driver of ambulance and a resident of Brgy Calpi, this town.

According to initial reports, Chico was driving his motorcycle on the way home from Poblacion, and upon reaching the place of incident, he was shot by unidentified suspects that resulted to his death.

Police were still investigating as of presstime. [Bicol Today]

Dengue cases reach 100 in two months in Sorsogon


SORSOGON CITY – Some 100 cases of dengue have been reported in Sorsogon Province within a two-month period, alarming Health officials and the public while healthcare observers remind the need to practice the 4 rules in cleanliness to fight the mosquito-borne disease.

On record, Sorsogon City has 91 dengue cases, followed by Casiguran with 18 cases, Castilla at Gubat with 10 each, Juban has 7, Bulusan 6, and Prieto Diaz 5, while the other towns get their shares of one up to three cases.

Another media outfit reported 159 dengue cases in the province, mentioning the Provincial Health Office as its source.

In a related development, Regina Gonzalgo, head of Health Education Promotion of PHO reminds the public to practise the 4 o’clock habit of 4S against the spread of dengue.

Gonzalgo explains 4S as Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites; Seek Early Consultation; Secure Self Protection Measures; and Support Fogging/Spraying hot spot areas.

She said there are towns that are doing measures to fight dengue by focusing on environmental cleanliness. The disease is carried by mosquitoes that live on stagnant water.

“Practicing the 4S daily will impact clean surroundings, preventing the occurrence of dengue and deprive the mosquito carriers of breeding sites.

Albay representative Joey Salceda’s “licking ass, playing ball” in politics


CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Albay Representative Joey Salceda got a tweetful of “disloyalty stinging remarks” after netizens have discovered him of “licking ass” and “playing ball” so often with political giants that got him branded as “super balingbing.”

According to netizens, it was a superb expertise for Salceda to “play ball” with Presidents and aspiring ones, wannabees so that his monumental infrastructure projects by the billions of pesos are “insured” if his Presidential bet get a whooping landslide.

Netizens over the week tweeted on Salceda who was discovered of “changing clothes so fast”, as often as the poll surveys ring their ratings on the trending bet during the last Presidential elections.

A tweet scored Salceda for “dancing the chacha” with then President Gloria Macapal-Arroyo, presidential bet Gibo Teodoro, ex-President Noynoy Aquino, and currently President Rodrigo Duterte.

Another tweeted “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no other Bicolano has this “range”.

In Presidential polls 2010, Salcedo abandoned Lakas-Kampi-CMD when Arroyo was ending her term, and boarded Noynoy Aquino’s ship.

Before changing ship, also “changing clothes”, Salceda had proudly boasted of backing GMA’s Gibo for the President post, but he hastily joined the Liberal when the opportunity came up and got himself the post as Bicol regional chairman of the party.

Changing loyalty is Salceda’s finest skill, turning it into an art.

In Presidential poll 2016, for reasons known only to him, Salceda grabbed Presidential bet Grace Poe’s hand for the tango, after giving up dancing with Mar Roxas, Leni Robredo and the Liberal Party.

Salceda always have a ready excuse for his turncoatism. [Joey Natividad]

One Voice Church Leaders call, Live Out the Spirit of People Power



More than three decades ago, we, Filipinos, toppled a president, who used all means possible to consolidate power and amass wealth. It was a military regime that exploited and oppressed people, a regime of unfettered corruption and fascistic suppression of dissent. The government of Ferdinand E. Marcos, a dictator, was determined to hold on to power for eternity.

Contrary to inaccurate lore that the February 1986 uprising, a People Power “revolution,” was an instantaneous event erupting through a supportive response of the people to a military mutiny against the Marcos government, the truth remains, that uprising would never have been possible without the painstaking work of many, who struggled against the unjust and oppressive system, people who dedicated their lives in educating, organizing and mobilizing the poor and toiling majority.

They came from various groups, from the peasants, the workers, the youth, the artists, the professionals, the church people. All of them worked for meaningful actions against dictatorship and towards the assertion of democracy. They risked their lives: many suffered detention, torture, and separation from loved ones. We owe the victory to those who committed their intellectual gifts, precious time, talents , hard work and material wealth to serve the interest of the poor.

We honor the great testimony of church people in their commitment to follow the commandment of loving their neighbors. Courageously, they offered their faith resources, providing services to the poor and defending the political, social, cultural and economic rights of the people, despite the dangers. We salute their devotion and spirituality, expressed through their participation in the struggle for life with dignity. Identifying with the suffering people, they humbly became one among the poor, being persecuted and oppressed by the dictatorship.

Today, we remember such struggle. We are reminded that the prophetic call to side with the oppressed is still relevant and necessary. The tyrannical attacks against the people, including extra-judicial killings, by the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte have been relentless. Church people, who identify with the struggle and aspirations of the people are persecuted, maligned, and, at times, even murdered. Executive Order 70, also called the Whole of Nation Approach, is simply a weaponized and militarized governance that blatantly violates human rights and the people’s democratic rights.

As we remember People Power and its historic contribution to the journey of our nation towards a more just and democratic society, we call upon the faithful to steadfastly hold-the-grip of mission, ministry and of prophetic work in the struggle for truth, justice, and peace in our land. We denounce the evil of our present realities and proclaim our aspiration: to be a nation that is free from tyranny and foreign domination, a nation that defends its people and the gifts of nature, a nation that values our patrimony and upholds and embraces our identity as Filipinos.


Bishop Reuel NO Marigza, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB, Missionaries of the Order of Benedictines
Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, La Salle Brothers
Bishop Rex RB Reyes, Jr., DD, Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines, Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP)
Sr. Ma. Liza Ruedas, DC, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Daughters of Charity
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF)

African Swine fever spreads to adjoining Magarao town despite strict controls in Bombon, Cam Sur


PILI, Camarines Sur – African Swine Fever, a deadly disease of pigs, has spread out to nearby Magarao town despite efforts by Agriculture authorities and local government personnel in Bombon in enforcing lockdown measures on affected villages where ASF first occured Thursday, February 20.

Suspected villages with ASF presence in Magarao are Santa Lucia, Santo Tomas, San Miguel, San Pantaleon, and Santa Rosa.

Last Thursday, Camarines Sur Governor Migz Villafuerte raised red alert status for the entire province after the Department of Agriculture [DA] confirmed the presence of ASF in Bombon where several pig deaths were reported in the village of Santo Domingo. Farther follow-up tests by DA of the disease-stricken hogs has confirmed the ocurrence of ASF, thus convincing the Governor to raise the red alert status.

On Friday, Naga City which is only 7 kilometers from Bombon also imposed measures on ASF disease control and erected checkpoints on key city highways to stop or inspect the entry or movement of swine for sale in the city.

Over the week, DA and local government personnel have imposed disease control measures in and surrounding Bombon, with reports from DA that swine depopulation measures shall be imposed within a kilometer radius from the suspected epicenter of disease occurence.

It could not be confirmed if swine depopulation measures are already implemented as latest reports from DA says ASF has spread out to Magarao, an adjacent town of Bombon, after authorities on Monday confirmed several pig deaths in Magarao are likely to be linked to ASF pending final laboratory results.

DA authorities have expressed concern that there may be ASF-related pig deaths that were not reported to the agency.

Earlier in the week, Alex Templonuevo, acting regional director of National Meat Inspection Service, also said there were reports of swine deaths from backyard piggery owners in nearby areas.

Templonueva said “There were, previously, other swine deaths but were not reported to DA and we are conducting investigation and surveillance in other areas.”

According to Director Tornilla, the Regional Quick Response Team will immediately depopulate the swine population within one kilometer radius from where the confirmed case was discovered.

Tornilla warns consumers against buying live pigs and pork products from affected areas. [Joey Natividad/Bicol Today]