Nine-year-old Boy Killed in Las Navas

Ten soldiers were slain and a nine-year-old boy was the collateral damage in an ambush by the leftist New People's Army (NPA) in Las Navas, Northern Samar on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. The nine-year-old boy who was identified as Joven Cabe was killed after he was hit by a shrapnel from exploding landmines planted by the NPA while he was taking a bath in a nearby river. The ten soldiers killed were marching back to their barracks to observe the government-declared ceasefire with the NPA rebels when ambushed. Two soldiers were also wounded in the attack. The remains of the 10 soldiers are now at the St. Francis Chapel of the 63rd Infantry Battalion in Barangay Dalakit in Catarman.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the NPA cannot justify the killing of the soldiers and the nine-year-old boy. Valte said the attack was made hours before the ceasefire with communist rebels would have taken effect. Valte said the government strongly objects to the CPP’s claim that the ambush was a legitimate act of war.

“We certainly disagree because I don’t know where, in any part of the world, where you could go and say the death of a nine-year old child was part of a legitimate act of war. They should be the ones to explain to those who have lost their husband this Christmas that it was a legitimate act of war. They should also be the ones to explain to the parents who lost their child this Christmas because they say it was a legitimate act of war.”

In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said the attack was in accordance with the international rules of war.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Sec. Ging Deles, Chief Peace Negotiator Alexander Padilla, Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo David and Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz went to Northern Samar today to pay their last respects to the victims of the ambush.


AirPhilExpress Starts Cebu - Catarman - Cebu Route

AirPhilExpress will start its Cebu - Catarman and vice versa route on October 21, 2010. AirPhilExpress will fly the Cebu-Catarman-Cebu route every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. AirPhilExpress is the budget airline of Philippine Airlines of the Lucio Tan Group. Currenty, AirPhilExpress also flies to Catarman to and from Manila four times a week, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Other airlines plying the Manila-Catarman-Manila route are Cebu Pacific Air: every Tuesday, Thurday, Saturday and Sunday; and Zest Air: every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


Imbestigador in Catarman

The investigative GMA TV show,"Imbestigador," hosted by veteran broadcaster Mike Enriquez featured the illegal drug trade involving cocaine being sold by fishermen from Mondragon, Northern Samar. The entrapment operation resulted in the apprehension of a certain "Ponio" infront of a bank in Catarman, Northern Samar. The cocaine was said to have come from the same foreign vessel reported earlier to have dumped a large haul of cocaine, when it was about to be apprehended by authorities, off the coast of Eastern Samar. The cocaine were then believed to have been found by fishermen all over Eastern Samar and Northern Samar, but failed to turn over the said drugs to the authorities. Watch the Imbestigador episode below, as soon as it gets available.

Lope De Vega High School Student Address the UN in New York

Donnady Coquila Lao, a high school senior of Lope de Vega High School in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar, was chosen to represent the Philippines at the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, USA. Donnady Coquila Lao had a full schedule at the side events leading to the UN gathering.

Her first activity upon arriving in New York was to be interviewed by journalists from Finland. The interview focused on her being on the same panel with a Finnish Minister at an event of the United Nations Education and Children’s Fund (Unicef). Lao then attended the Plan Philippines side event dubbed "Universal Day of the Girl" along with two other girls from Canada. The girl-led interactive event called for a universal day of girls so that their concerns will "permanently be on the agenda of duty bearers in every country."

Donnady Lao then spoke at the Unicef side event entitled "Making Women Remember Girls. In the event, Donnady Lao spoke about her experiences as a girl and as a young person actively engaged in promoting girls’ rights in Lope De Vega and the Philippines. She delivered this in a panel with such internationally renowned personalities as former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

Other prominent attendees at the Unicef side session were, Charlotte Bunch, founding director and senior scholar at the Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University and Audun Lysbakken, Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion of Norway.

Donnady Coquila Lao then gave a two-minute speech at the UN reception after the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Lao spoke on how additional resources being allocated by the UN Foundation for Adolescent Girls can impact on her and other adolescent girls in the Philippines and her thoughts on her participation as an adolescent to an important meeting such as the Commission on the Status of Women. Lao sat in the panel with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon.

On her last event, Lao was at the Daily Beast (online magazine) Summit where she was interviewed by Queen Rania, wife of King Abdullah of Jordan. On the same event, a "Girlafesto" was read by a group of girls from New York and Lao read the last important line of the manifesto.


Pambujan Farmers in the Inquirer

Two farmers turned vendors from Pambujan were featured in last Tuesday's Special Report in the national daily broadsheet, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Rodolfo Socorro and Leo Surio, both from Pambujan, told tales of despair in the city. You can read the PDI article entitled "How to get the poor out of Dante’s inferno" here.