Thursday, November 22, 2012

Overview of impunity related incidents in 2012 in Southeast Asia

Overview of impunity related incidents in 2012 in Southeast Asia

Invitation to join silent march

Dear Friends,
This coming Friday, November 23, journalists’ groups and press freedom advocacy organizations will commemorate the third year of the Ampatuan Massacre and second International Day to End Impunity. The groups agreed to hold a dramatic mock funeral procession with 153 coffins bearing the names of slain members of media since 1986. Relatives of massacre victims and media practitioners will carry the coffins from Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City to Mendiola. The objective is to stress the continuing attack against journalists and the prevailing culture of impunity.

The activity however will be more effective and significant if many journalists will help carry the coffins. It will be an effective way of showing our unity in the face of so many challenges facing the Philippine press, among them the death of the Freedom of Information bill and outright endorsement by President Aquino of the extremely restrictive right of reply bill in Congress.

We thus invite you and your staff/employees to join the march. Some media networks and groups have already pledged to carry at least 4 coffins per news organization. The coffin is made of light cardboard material but we are requesting that two persons be assigned to carry it.

Assembly time at Welcome Rotonda is 3:00 pm. Please refer to the attached draft program for details.

Kindly assign a point person with whom we can coordinate details of the November 23 procession. The “pallbearers” are requested to be at the Welcome Rotonda (near KFC) by 2:30 PM for briefing. Please send contact details to the undersigned by 5pm today. We also request everyone joining the event to wear black.

Thank you for joining us in this campaign.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinong mamamahayag.
For the convenors:

Weng Paraan
NUJP Secretary-General

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bulacan fetes outstanding Cooperative Dev’t Councils

CITY OF MALOLOS- The Provincial Government of Bulacan through its Provincial Cooperative and Economic Development Office (PCEDO) recently awarded the 2012 Natatanging City/Municipal Cooperative Development Councils  at The Pavilion, Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center in this city recently.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the award aims to recognize the efforts and vital contribution of cooperatives in Bulacan’s development.

“Bukod sa mga fixed projects ng PCEDO, bumuo o gumawa rin ng iba pang proyekto ang mga awardees na ito na siyang lalong nagpalawak sa serbisyo sa mga miyembro nito,” PCEDO head Jovito Saguinsin said.

The first prize was awarded to Marilao Cooperative Development Council, second prize to Doña Remedios Trinidad Cooperative Development Council, San Jose del Monte City Cooperative Development Council got the third prize and Malolos Cooperative Development Council for the fourth prize.

Aside from cash prize, the winners also received certificate of recognition while the non-winners were given certificate of appreciation.

Also part of the event is the Cooperative Fellowship, a culminating activity of the Cooperative and Enterprise Month in Bulacan, wherein approximately 500 Bulakenyo cooperative officers and members gathered at The Pavilion.

Last October, the province joined the nation in celebrating the National Cooperative Month wherein a number of trainings and activities were given to the officials and members of cooperatives in Bulacan.

Cooperative Month is being celebrated every October of the year by the virtue of Proclamation No. 493 dated October 27, 2003. ###

Bulacan, Bataan, and Zambales remain red tide-free

By Joelyn G. Baluyut

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Nov 16 (PIA) -- Bulacan, Zambales, and
Bataan provinces are still free from paralytic shellfish poison or most commonly known as red tide.

“The coastal waters of Bulacan in Manila Bay; Masinloc Bay in Zambales; and coastal waters of Mariveles, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Orani, Abucay, and Samal in Bataan remain free of the toxic red tide,” the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Shellfish Bulletin dated November 8 reported.

BFAR said shellfish from the mentioned areas can still be gathered, harvested, and sold in markets and are safe for human consumption.

Meanwhile, shellfish collected at Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, and Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte and Misamis Occidental are still positive for paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.

All types of shellfish and Acetes ap or alamang from the areas mentioned are not safe for human consumption, BFAR said.

“Fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided these are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking,” BFAR added.(CLJD/JGB-PIA3)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bulacan media to mark Ampatuan Massacre early

by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro / Correspondent,

CITY OF MALOLOS—Bulacan journalists and journalism students from different universities in the province will hold on Wednesday, November 21, a candle-light parade  at the provincial capitol grounds here in commemoration of the third anniversary of the infamous Ampatuan Massacre.

Dino Balabo, chairman of the Bulacan chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said three years have passed since 58 persons, 32 of them journalists, were murdered on November 23, 2009, in Maguindanao.

Balabo said 153 candles will be lighted to commemorate the 153 journalists killed in the country since 1986.

In a news statement, NUJP-Bulacan said that over 100 journalists and journalism students are expected to join the activity to show their support of journalists’ calls to end impunity in the country, press for the passing of the Freedom of Information bill, and call on all journalists to continue to rise the bar of journalism.

Balabo said the campaign to end impunity only addresses calls on the government to implement laws to protect citizens, journalists or not, and that there must be a parallel campaign to remind journalists to pursue ethical and responsible reporting.

This was echoed earlier by the NUJP National Directorate along with the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

The group said the best protection for journalists is ethical and responsible reporting.

The Bulacan activity will be held  two days ahead of the bigger activity planned by the NUJP, PPI, CMFR, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, the Center for Community Journalism and Development, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas in Manila on Friday.

The Manila activity will be highlighted by the parade of 153 coffins from Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City to  Mendiola.

Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary-general, said the parade of coffins will serve as an expression of outrage against impunity.

She said despite the change in administration, the killing of journalists continue with at least 10 murdered since the Aquino administration assumed office in July 2010.

“Remember our slain colleagues. Help us carry the 153 coffins to Mendiola,” Paraan said as she invited journalists to join the funeral march on Friday.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

SPECIAL REPORT: LGUs blamed for decline in fish production in Bulacan

A fishpond operator feeds milkfish with old bread in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Like other mothers, Lorie Umali got up just before day break to cook breakfast for her children.

While waiting for the rice to be fully cooked, she started frying hotdogs—
her kids’ favorite viand and their premier source of protein.

When she was younger, Umali recalled, her mother used to cook fish for her, and considered hotdogs as a treat prepared for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas.

“It’s easier to cook, and sometimes cheaper than fish,” Umali said in Filipino referring to her new preference of cooking hotdogs over fish.

But there is a greater explanation to the changing preference for source of protein these days, which many households hardly notice over the years.

It’s the decline in fish production especially in the province of Bulacan which was blamed to increasing water pollution.
Marilao River clean,a mirror of poor implementation of garbage law.

Ranking officials of government agencies and some fishermen blame it on poor implementation of solid waste law, but operators of smaller fishponds in the province accused bigger pond operators for excessive use of aqua feeds.

Records obtained by this writer from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) shows that fish production in Bulacan has dropped from 53,804.3 metric tons in 2004 to 40,790.91 metric tons in 2011.

Except in 2008 when Bulacan fish production climbed to 51,768.93, BAS records showed consistent drop in that eight years period.

Even in brackish water fishpond milkfish production in which Bulacan leads all provinces in production output from 2004 to 2011, BAS records showed decreased production from 34,785.00  to 23,019.66 metric tons.
Smaller catch illustrating declining fish production.

The Provincial Agriculture Office explained that decrease in fish production in the province is a confluence of different factors including impacts of climate change, increasing water pollution and pond operator shift from milkfish to tiger prawns or shift from fish culture to fingerlings production.

However, Dr. Remedios Ongtangco, the director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Luzon openly blamed water pollution as primary factor in decrease fish production.

She explained that fish thrive on water and its quality affects aquaculture and other marine resources.

When asked on causes of water pollution, Ongtangco pointed to poor implementation of solid waste law.

“Our local government units are the ones responsible for waste management and unless the truly implement it, our fish production will always be threaten,” she said.

This was affirmed by Lawyer Rustico De Belen, the former head of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (PGB).

De Belen also admitted that improper disposal of garbage along with poor implementation of the law by local government units from municipalities and cities down to the barangays as the culprit in water pollution.
Men loading bags of agua feeds into a boat in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

But for medium pond operators like Pedro Geronimo of this coastal town, bigger fishpond operators are causing more pollution due to excessive use of aqua feeds.

This was affirmed by Patrocinio Laderas, a former Provincial Board Member who has moved his fishpond operator from this town to Bicol in mid-90s.

Laderas said that in the mid-80s, local fishpond operators have benefited from clean waters, but increasing use of aqua feeds along with garbage disposal in rivers left waterways polluted.

Excessive use of aqua feeds was confirmed by Lito Lacap, the president of the Integrated Services for the Development of Aquaculture (ISDA), an organization of fishpond operators in Central Luzon which is composed of large scale fishpond operators in Bulacan and Pampanga.

“Our members have realized the impacts of excessive use of aqua feeds in pond operations, that’s why many are moving towards tradition fish culture as advised by BFAR,” Lacap said.

Other suggestion of BFAR, according to Lacap, include reduction of fish stock that requires less aqua feeds.

He added that some of their members are practicing traditional fish culture every other cropping season, or starting their fish culture with traditional methods, and when fish got bigger, then they will use aqua feeds.

Traditional methods requires growing of organic planktons that serve a food for milkfish and tilapia or St. Peter’s Fish production.

“They might be correct that excessive use of aqua feeds is a factor in water pollution, but poor waste management remained as primary factor,” De Belen said.

He added that since 2010, the Provincial Solidwaste Management Board had only convened a summit once and gave directives to municipal and city solidwaste management boards to properly implement the law and conduct information dissemination.

The summit also advised municipal and city governments in the province for proper waste segregation  and collection to prevent residents in throwing garbage into the river.

However, not too many local government units have responded positively.
Hagonoy MRF located on the bank of Labangan Channel.

As a matter of fact, there still LGUs in Bulacan that operates open dumpsites, some of which are located less than 50 meters away from bodies of water like rivers, creeks and fishponds.

Earlier, Bishop Pablo David of the Archdiocese of Pampanga condemned operations of open dumpsites in Central Luzon.

Speaking in an environment summit for educators at La Consolacion University-Philippines (LaCUP) here, David even went to extent of encouraging non-governmental organizations to file charges against LGUs that are not implementing solidwaste law.

David’s exhortation was in reaction to earlier statement in the same summit by Lormelyn Claudio, the director of Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that they cannot just file charges against erring LGUs as those were their partners in implementation of the law.

Claudio added that as of May, at least 82 LGUs in the region has expressed commitment to implement the law after they threatened to file charges. 

Paombong MRF on the other side of Labangan Channel.
However, implementation of solid waste management remain slow for many LGUs and local citizens remain undisciplined in their household disposal.

Smaller fishpond operators and fisher folks alike said that unless the government became serious in their job of implementing the law, fish production in Bulacan will continue to drop.

That means less fish on the marker and higher prices of fish that will continue to lead mothers like Umali to depend on processed meat for protein needs of their children.

(This special report was published in the November 14-20 edition of the Central Luzon Business Week (Vol. 8, No.1).  It is part of the series of reports produced by Dino Balabo under the International Women's Media Foundation's (IWMF) Environmental Investigative Reporting Fellowship program.)