Author Archives: Janess Ellao

International rights group hit proposed budget cut on contraceptives

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 | Written by

A New York-based international human rights group assailed the Philippine government for what it referred to as a “serious step backward” with the proposed budget cut on contraceptives in the 2016 national budget.

 

In a statement sent to the media, Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director, said the budget cut would go against the Philippine government’s obligation to protect maternal health, reduce infant mortality, and prevent the spread of HIV.

 

Kine, citing a study from Guttmacher Institute, said that half of the pregnancies here in the Philippines are unintended and is due to the lack of availability of modern contraceptive services.

 

“The budget cut threatens to roll back hard-fought gains in maternal health and reductions in infant mortality over the past decade made possible by government-subsidized or free contraceptive services,” Kine said.

 

The rights group said access to condoms and related HIV prevention services is part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health. It reminded the Philippine government that as a signatory to the International Convent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it is obliged to take necessary steps, treatment and control of epidemic diseases including sexually transmitted diseases.

 

In 2012, the Aquino administration passed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.

 

Kine urged Aquino to “press Congress to immediately restore those funds or be held accountable for the suffering that their ill-conceived actions incur.”

 

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Manila-based activists welcome Lakbayanis, put Aquino to task for Lumad plight

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 | Written by
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IMG_1423Activists and indigenous peoples rights advocates advocate welcomed the “Lakbayanis” with a protest action in the foot of Mendiola bridge last Oct. 26.

“The Lumad are not just caught in the crossfire. They are the targets. Their schools are under attack. Their leaders are being threatened or killed. They are being forced to join paramilitary groups, the same paramilitary groups accused of gross human rights violations, The government only feigns concern for the Lumad,” Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bayan, said.

In the year’s Manilakbayan, the Lumad will bring before the Aquino administration the plight of the Lumad people from several communities in Mindanao. Many Lumad are facing harassments and threats and some of their leaders were killed and disappeared by members of paramilitary groups that were reportedly formed and armed by the Philippine military.

But the Sept. 1 killings of tribal leader Dionel Campos, chieftain Juvello Sinzo and Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development Emerito Samarca spurred anew a forced evacuation among Lumad people residing in Han-ayan, Diatagon village in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. As of this writing, no one has been arrested for these killings.

The Lakbayanis kicked off this year’s Manilakbayan last week. Manila-based activists first met the Lakbayanis last Sunday, Oct. 25. Yesterday, they marched along Taft Avenue to Bonifacio Shrine where a short program was held before they headed to Mendiola.

They were joined by delegates from other regions such Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog.

In Mendiola, tribal leaders slit the throat of a chicken as they held the ritual of “panubadtubad” as they call on Aquino to stop attacks against the Lumad.

“The dire situation of the Lumad communities has forced them to bring their demands and protests here in Metro Manila. They want to tell government, the people and world the truth about the worsening human rights violations in Mindanao. They are seeking justice and an end to the attacks on their schools and communities,” Reyes said.

Reyes added that these attacks are orchestrated under the government counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Under such framework, Lumad resisting big mining corporations are being vilified as either members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

The ancestral domains are rich of minerals and natural resources. Tribal leaders have long assailed that the attacks against them are because big businesses want to encroach on their lands.

“We treasure our ancestral domains as part of a community that protects its culture. However, the opening up of natural resources – found mostly in our areas – to foreign investments destroy our communities due to the twin policy of militarization and plunder. As our communities are being plundered by corporate giants for profit, the military are deployed to secure these investments from protests and resistance,” Datu Jomorito Guaynon said in a statement.

The Lakbayanis have set up camp at the University of the Philippines where would be staying until October 31. From November 1 to 22, they would camp-out at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.

Study shows El Niño to worsen dengue cases

Wednesday, 7 October 2015 | Written by

A scientist from the University of Florida in the United States found links to the rise of dengue cases due to the high temperatures caused by El Niño, a report read.

 

“Dengue infects large numbers of people across the tropics each year, but incidence can vary dramatically from year to year in any setting,” Prof. Derek Cummings, senior author of the study, said in EurekAlert.org.

 

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last Oct. 6., looked into the increase of dengue cases from 1997 to 1998 in eight Southeast Asian countries during a very intense El Niño weather phenomenon.

 

The EurekAlert.org said this study is very timely as the “most intense” El Niño is currently taking place in the same region in nearly two decades.

 

“The synchronization of incidence across such a large area, spanning thousands of kilometers, is really striking,” Cummings said. “It suggests that continued multi-country coordination of surveillance for dengue is critical to understanding patterns in each individual country.”

 

In the Philippines, cases of dengue fever are on the rise and are nearing a 100,000 mark from Jan. 1 to Sept. 19. A SunStar report said there are now 92,807 cases, which is 23.5 percent higher compared to last year of the same period.

 

In Cebu alone, the regional health office said it has already distributed P5 million worth of larvicide and will need P10 million more, according to another SunStar report.

 

As of this writing, there is still no vaccine for dengue, a disease brought by mosquito bite. The World Health Organization noted in a South China Morning Post report that about half of the world’s population is at risk.

 

More pols add to vice presidency bid

Tuesday, 6 October 2015 | Written by

Three more senators have expressed their plans to bid for vice presidency as the filing for candidacy nears.

Early morning yesterday, Oct. 5, Liberal Party has finally announced that their standard bearer Mar Roxas running mate is Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, lawyer and wife of the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo.

“The day has come that our family has tried very hard to face with courage. The journey to this day has not been easy. The past weeks have been most difficult for our family since Jesse passed away,” Robredo said in a Philippine Star report.

Shortly after Robredo’s announcement, son of former dictator and namesake Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos also declared that he would run for vice president.

“I have decided to put my political fortune in the hands of the Filipino people. I humbly ask them to judge whether or not I am worthy of their trust to be vice president on the strength of my performance as a public servant in the last 26 years,” he said in an ABS-CBN report.

Last Saturday, Oct. 3, Sen. Antonio Trillanes also announced his bid to vice presidency in a speech at the Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City, according to a GMA News report.

Sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that while Sen. Gringo Honasan has yet to confirm that he would be Vice President Jejomar Binay’s running mate that it would indeed happen, following collapse of talks between the latter and  Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. So far, Binay is the only aspiring presidential candidate who has yet to declare his running mate.

Honasan, who is a ranking official of United Nationalist Alliance, told reporters that he has always been “a good soldier” and that it would be a “party decision.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has yet to make an announcement. He is reportedly waiting for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to decide on his plans to run for presidency.

Sen. Francis Chiz Escudero was the first to announce his bid for vice-presidency. He is the running mate of Sen. Grace Poe.

Kabayan leaves 2 dead, 32 missing

Monday, 5 October 2015 | Written by

Tropical storm Kabayan left two persons dead and 32 fisherfolk missing as the typhoon exited the country last Saturday, Oct. 3.

The Philippine Star identified those killed as Samuel Corcoro, 29, and Raquel Camilo, 57, who hailed from the provinces of Aurora and Nueva Ecija, respectively.

Meanwhile, the 32 fisherfolk have yet to be found despite relentless search and rescue operations, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The Philippine Daily Inquirer said in its report that the 32 fisherfolk went missing on five separate instances from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.

Last Sept. 30, MV Flores, which carried 10 of its crew, sailed despite the rough seas. The Philippine Coast Guard said it sank two days later. Other cases happened in the town of Agno, Pangasinan, Agoo in La Union and in Baler, Aurora.

The NDRRMC said in a SunStar report that Kabayan affected at least 4,655 families or 22,368 people in the provinces of La Union, Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales. There are also 1,391 families or 6,480 people who are residing in evacuation sites as many villages remain flooded as of this writing.

Kabayan had a maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour with gustiness of 90 kilometers per hour,PAGASA.

Aquino confident Leni to run for VP

Thursday, 24 September 2015 | Written by

President Aquino is confident that Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo will accept his offer to run as vice president along with Liberal Party’s presidential standard bearer former Interior secretary Mar Roxas.

 

“I will still talk to Leni. But I have good expectations which justifies why I and Mar want her to run for vice president,” Aquino said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

 

Last week, Roxas has formally asked Robredo to be his running mate. Their tandem has been dubbed as “almost sealed,” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a news report.

 

Robredo’s children were reportedly “under a lot of stress” as their mother is pressed to run for higher government office.

 

“This is a very difficult time for all of us, especially the children, and they’re not taking it very well,” Robredo said in a report.

 

Manila Times reported that Aquino already spoke with Robredo’s children and asked them to help the Liberal Party to convince their mother to run for higher office. Aquino said in another report that it is natural for Robredo to mull and be reluctant to accept the offer.

 

In her previous interviews, Robredo said she will decide before Oct. 12, the filing of the certificate of candidacy, according to a GMA News report.

 

Robredo, a lawyer, is the wife of the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, who was killed in a plane crash in 2012.

 

Caucasian soldier among killed in Mamasapano, video reveals

Tuesday, 15 September 2015 | Written by

A Caucasian soldier, believed to be an American, was among those dead in the botched police operation in the Mamasapano town in Maguindanao last January, a video revealed.

“Buddy, what happened to him again?” the man taking video said as he focused the remains of the Caucasian soldier.

The police operation was carried out to capture Malaysian bombmaker Marwan. However, this led to the killing of 44 members of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police, 17 Moro fighters and at least seven civilians.

After the incident, there have been rumors that US soldiers had directly participated in a combat operation. Both the US and the Philippine government had denied the allegations and that the US only helped in the intelligence gathering. But later in the investigation, the PNP Board of Inquiry said there were six American soldiers were stationed at the command post set up during the operation.

The Philippine Star said in its report that the video was obtained by a television journalist from a source from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the new video should prompt the re-opening of the probe on the clash and “uncover the real role of the United States in the botched operation.”

He added that the video “lends credence to earlier assertions that the US was directing the entire operation to get Marwan.”

“The role of the US is crucial in establishing accountability in the Mamasapano operation. There can be no closure and justice if the US is not held liable for the deaths of so many,” Reyes said.

Poe may announce presidential bid tomorrow

Tuesday, 15 September 2015 | Written by

Sen. Grace Poe will make an “important” announcement tomorrow, according to reports.

In a statement, Poe said the announcement is “in connection with her plans for the 2016 national elections.” This will be held at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Almuni at around 6:00 p.m., the Philippine Daily Inquirer said in a report.

The senator is currently facing complaints over her citizenship.

President Aquino, in a Business World report, said he is not worry over Poe’s “announcement.” The president had earlier endorsed former Interior secretary Mar Roxas’ bid for presidency and had made it public that the Liberal Party has been eyeing Poe to run as the former’s vice president.

“We really would like to hear what she says. Are we worried? No, we are not worried,” Aquino said.

He added in an ABS-CBN report that, “we are moving away from personality politics to platform-based politics. So whatever her announcement is, we still will be advocating governance based on a particular or specific platform rather than just any personality.

Poe, adopted daughter of the late Filipino movie icon Fernando Poe Jr., is dubbed as the “greatest threat in 2016.” She had made several meetings with fellow Sen. Francis Escudero, reportedly her running mate, with top leaders of the National People’s Coalition.

Apart from Roxas, Vice President Jejomar Binay had already announced their plans to  run for presidency next year.

Binays face new raps

Thursday, 3 September 2015 | Written by

Vice president Jejomar Binay, his son suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and daughter Makati Rep. Abigail Binay are facing new plunder and graft charges on the alleged misuse of funds over a joint venture of the city’s university.

In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, lawyer Renato Bondal, claimed the joint venture between the University of Makati (UMak) with System Technology Inc. (STI) is marred with plunder and graft as P547 million of tuition fee collected was diverted to a private corporation, Philippine Healthcare Educators Inc.

The joint venture would supposedly allow the STI to continue running its nursing program. The supposed deal was forged back in 2003, when Binay was still Makati mayor and that his son Junjun continued the venture when he was elected mayor in 2010.

Apart from the Binay family, five more were implicated in plunder and graft charges.

In a Philippine Star report, Bondal alleged that the money was diverted to the private firm to “accumulate and/or amass ill-gotten wealth for themselves and/or for their co-conspirators.”

The media affairs of the UMaK College of Nursing said in a statement that there was nothing irregular in the deal.

Apart from the university joint venture, Bondal filed a separate case against Makati Rep. Abigail Valte on allegations that she released pork barrel funds back in 2011 to two “fake” non-government agencies amounting to P25 million, the GMA News reported.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, Vice President Binay  said the latest case is just “another political gimmick” and referred to it as a new chapter of a “telenovela.”

NPC leaders ‘talk’ to adopt Poe, Chiz for 2016 elections

Wednesday, 26 August 2015 | Written by

Top leaders of the National People’s Coalition are reportedly in talks over the adoption of Grace Poe and its former member Chiz Escudero as the two are set to run for president and vice president, respectively, next year, according to a Manila Bulletin report.

 

The report stated that among those attending the talks are its party chairman former Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy Jr. and its party president Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao.

 

The two senators have already met key NPC leaders in two separate meetings. Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia described their meeting as a “room full of laughter” and a “happy occasion and intimate.”

 

“We did not talk much about politics. It was a just a friendly social gathering,” Leonardia said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

President Benigno S. Aquino  III and the rest of the Liberal Party continues to seek Poe as running mate for their standard bearer Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

 

“We remain hopeful up to now,” Aquino said in a Business World report published last Aug. 24.

 

Aquino said there is no doubt to Poe’s abilities and that this is the reason he is “striving to make that person a part of our ticket to present a united and strong tandem to the public.”

 

“If this person joins us, we will be able to harness the person’s skills, deepen the person’s knowledge and experience and to further the person’s ability to govern. This will improve our hopes that in 2022, straight path will still be pursued,” he added.

 

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said in a Philippine Star report that while Poe has high popularity ratings, the Liberal Party would not rely on “survey results” as basis for choosing their standard bearer.

 

Meanwhile, Aggabao described Roxas in an ABS-CBN report as the “weaker candidate.”

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