Archive | December 2006

“Are they going to wait for someone to die before sending help?”

SITIO MALUAN, Marilog, Davao City (MindaNews/13 December) — “Are they going
to wait for someone to die before sending help?” an exasperated Yolanda
Cortizaño, director of San Pedro College’s community extension services, asked.

Cortizano has reasons to fear. She had earlier worked with residents in
putting up a two-room cultural learning center for pre-schoolers near the
Maluan primary school building, some 40 meters away from the banks of Upian
River. A landslide near the school might destroy the building and affect the
education of children in the area, she said.

Landslide had earlier struck the area, on November 22, destroying five houses
and nine farms. But villagers reported seeing more cracks on the ground, tall
trees being swallowed by land, corn farms covered by rocks and soil and huts
destroyed. And even as barangay chair Leonilo Suyko has sought the assistance
of the City Engineers’ Office, they have not received a positive response, he

The Nov. 22 landslide left a swathe of destruction over 23 hectares. The City
Agriculture Office estimated the damage at P1.1 million. Nobody was reported
killed or injured during the incident.

The sitio, which has a population of 37 households, is located 10 kilometers
from the highway, in an area considered by the Office of the Civil Defense as
“prone to landslides.” (To be updated)


ChaCha now: “against the will of God”

 DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) — The House of Representatives’ insistence
on changing the Constitution now when there are more pressing concerns that
should be addressed first, is “against the will of God,” a church leader
here said.

Rev. Wilmar Bongado, conference minister of the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines, made these remarks during the press conference today of People’s
March, an umbrella of various groups opposing the changing of the Constitution

Bongado said it is true that the Constitution is not perfect, but this is not
yet the time to change it. Read full story here.

Dabawenyos to House: what’s the rush?

 DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) — Dabawenyos want to know why Majority Floorleader
Prospero Nograles, a Dabawenyo, and the rest of the administration representatives in the House of
Representatives are rushing to amend the Constitution.

“Gikan ba na sila sa laing nasud” (are they from another country?), an annoyed lumber yard worker
along Davao’s Leon Garcia Street, asked.
Nong Melvin, 39, was reacting to television news reports on the moves of the House of
Representative to get the Philippines Constitution changed.

The supposed representatives in Congress, he said, seem to be disconnected from the people. “They
are rushing to change the law, yet they are very slow in addressing the problems of the people,”
Melvin said. Read full story here.

Probers push for ‘strict regulations’ on aerial spraying in Davao

 DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 Dec) — The fact-finding team tasked by Mayor
Rodrigo Duterte to assess the impact of aerial spraying here has
pushed for strict regulations in its eight major recommendations on
aerial spraying amid a pending proposal at the city council to ban it.

The team recommended that banana firms must strictly follow health and
safety regulations in the conduct of aerial spraying. Duterte has
earlier described the reports as “severely restrictive bordering on
almost banning aerial spraying.”

Team leader Mario Luis Jacinto said Wednesday the report, sent by the
Office of the City Mayor to the City Council on December 4, was made
in consultation with the stakeholders of the banana industry. Read full story here.

Only 4% of Southeastern Mindanao’s workers belong to unions

 DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 Dec) — Only 68,000 of Southeastern Mindanao’s
1.6 million workers, or 4.25 percent, are members of labor unions and
only a fourth of the region’s 618 unions have a collective bargaining
agreement, an official of the Department of Labor and Employment said.

DOLE regional director Ma. Gloria A. Tango, in a press conference here
in time for the labor department’s 73rd anniversary, said there is
industrial peace in the region with no “actual” strike in the last two
years. She said, too, that labor-management relations have “matured,”
adding that labor unions are using strike as the last recourse. Read full story here.

Gov’t hikes wages for domestic helpers abroad to $400

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/6 Dec) – The women and children in conflict and poor areas are susceptible to trafficking of persons, a Davao-based lawyer said in a press conference Wednesday held in time for the International Day Against Trafficking in Person.

Carlos Isagani T. Zarate said the vulnerability of women and children in conflict areas, especially those displaced, exposes them to the dangers of trafficking.

Zarate, among 10 lawyers who volunteered to defend anti-trafficking cases in a forum here, cited the situation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He pointed out that the region is also source of most victims of illegal recruitment.

He said women and children in the region, many of them unschooled and poor, become victims of violence and displacement.

Zarate said there is a correlation of economic and peace and order problems where trafficking cases come from. He said conflicts make communities poor and the populace vulnerable.

He said the ARMM is source of victims of trafficking because it has experienced wars and massive poverty. But the lawyer could not cite any statistics. He said he based it on the premise that conflict and poor areas are easy targets of traffickers.

He said poverty does not really make people easy preys. “But when the poor are displaced, they are exposed to its (trafficking’s) dangers,” he added.

Zarate has pushed for more public understanding on the issue of trafficking. He said it is not a separate problem from what is happening in communities.

He stressed that with more understanding from the public, the members of the judiciary and the law enforcers, cases against traffickers could be pursued.

Child Alert Mindanao, a non-government organization that is part of the inter-agency council, cited only seven convictions on trafficking due to various problems. Among those cited is the poverty of the victims in surviving the demands of going to court.

Another problem cited in the forum was the need to educate more the law enforcers in keeping evidence admissible in court.

Zarate said since the law is relatively new, the Philippine jurisprudence on covered cases is still poor.

Possible confusion between Republic 9208 (Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) and other laws on violence against women and children and other laws was also pointed out.

Davao City Councilor Angela Librado-Trinidad, a lawyer, said the public understanding on the difference between illegal recruitment and trafficking in person is still vague. Librado is the vice-chairperson of the Davao City Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking.

She also cited that in some cases, those convicted were not the real culprits of the crime and were victims themselves.

Patricia Ruivivar, the chief of staff of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, cited that the network used by these traffickers is also the one used by drug traffickers, as presented by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to the city council in October.

A mother from Tacurong City shared to the forum her ordeal when her 14-year-old daughter was trafficked in 2004. She said she found her in a club working as a dancer and was made to smoke marijuana before her number.

Anti-trafficking advocates proposed wider and sustainable efforts from local governments, civil society organizations, private sector and the public amid slow movement of cases against traffickers, three years after the country’s Anti-Trafficking in Person’s Act was implemented in 2003.

The council has pushed for more concerted efforts to expose trafficking.

Bernardo Mondragon, executive director of Child Alert Mindanao, said the problem is that most of those who push children to trafficking are family members and relatives of the victims. He also cited persons in authority, like town officials, as among those reported as suspected traffickers. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Women, children in conflict areas prone to trafficking

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/6 Dec) – The women and children in conflict and poor areas are susceptible to trafficking of persons, a Davao-based lawyer said in a press conference Wednesday held in time for the International Day Against Trafficking in Person.

Carlos Isagani T. Zarate said the vulnerability of women and children in conflict areas, especially those displaced, exposes them to the dangers of trafficking. Read full story here.