‘Bising’ becomes a super typhoon; Bicol and Samar under Signal # 2

The year’s second tropical cyclone has worsened to a super typhoon, threatening the eastern parts of Luzon and the Visayas with “intense rains” and “severe winds.”

In its latest weather bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Typhoon “Bising” (international name: Surigae) slightly decelerated as of 5 o’clock AM Sunday morning, April 18, while maintaining its destructive strength.

It registered maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (km/) near the center and gustiness of up to 265 km/h.

The center of the eye of typhoon was located at 400 kilometers east of Catarman, Northern Samar or 470 km East of Juban, Sorsogon as of 4 o’clock this morning.

Typhoon Signal 2 has been raised over Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Catanduanes provinces as well as other parts of the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions.

While not foreseen to directly hit land, PAGASA said flooding and flash floods, including rain-induced landslides are likely to occur in the said areas.

Northern Samar Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office personnel keep track of Typhoon ‘Bising’. (Supplied photo)

Northern Samar Governor Edwin Marino Ongchian has ordered a province-wide forced evacuation of all coastal communities, following a pre-disaster risk assessment meeting Saturday afternoon, a provincial disaster risk reduction and management office announced on Facebook.

PAGASA said it is not ruling out a closer approach of Typhoon Bising to Luzon mainland as its travels north-westward at 15 kilometer per hour.

Supertyphoon Bising is forecast to stay within the Philippine area of responsibility for the entire week. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LGU, police deny AFP report; Reds slam ‘despicable lie’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) slammed the military for “spreading false information,” saying the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the state media are “irresponsible” in distributing lies amid the nationwide battle against the corona virus disease (Covid-19).

Denying that the New People’s Army (NPA) took away distributed relief goods in Sitio Bangon, Barangay Guinmayohan, Balangiga, Eastern Samar around 9:00 AM of April 7, the CPP said there is “absolutely no truth to the false information irresponsibly being circulated by the AFP.”

“It is despicable and condemnable how the AFP has resorted to outright lies and perverse propaganda at a time that the Filipino people are confronted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Screenshot of Balangiga DRRM officer’s Facebook post.

The CPP denial came after ESTE News and PressOne.Ph published news reports Saturday, April 11, quoting the Balangiga mayor, municipal disaster relief and rehabilitation officer, and the chief of police denying such an incident happened.

Government television network PTV carried the news last Friday, April 10.

Screenshot of the PTV report.

Valbuena said the AFP’s lie desperately wants to discredit the NPA’s public health campaign to raise people’s awareness and enable them to adapt the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

“The NPA’s information drive, mass clinics, and other activities are well received by the masses, especially in the rural areas. There are also efforts to raise food production to prepare for an imminent shortage. We anticipate the AFP to come up with more lies against the NPA in the days to come,” Valbuena said.

He added that the AFP’s objective is to justify its counterinsurgency drive it relentlessly carries out despite their commander in chief President Rodrigo Duterte’s ceasefire order effective March 19 to April 15.

The CPP said in a post in its website that the AFP’s counterinsurgency drives despite the government’s ceasefire declaration has been launched in 24 provinces, 81 municipalities and cities, and 146 barangays nationwide.

CPP image.

Based on its official newsletter Ang Bayan’s initial tally, there had been AFP counter-insurgency campaigns in Rizal (1), Quezon (10), Oriental Mindoro (4), Occidental Mindoro (2), Palawan (2), Capiz (1); Negros Occidental (9), Negros Oriental (1), Zamboanga del Norte (2), Zamboanga del Sur (4), Zamboanga Sibugay (3), Sultan Kudarat (1), Sarangani (1),

Sorsogon (5), Northern Samar (5), Eastern Samar (5), Western Samar (5), Agusan del Sur (1), Surigao del Sur (1), Bukidnon (6), Misamis Occidental (5), Davao del Norte (2), Davao de Oro (3), and Davao City (1).

The incidents range from attacks on NPA emcampments, aerial bombings, shelling, and militarization of civilian communities, the CPP said.

Fire fights in Rizal, Quezon and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces has so far resulted in the deaths of two NPA fighters and two Philippine Army troopers.

Two more government soldiers were also wounded in action. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Stand with Samar | Farmers take gov’t to task for not addressing their plight


MANILA — The Philippines is an agricultural country but, ironically, farmers complain of government neglect.

Though Eastern Visayas is often hit by typhoons and natural calamities, aid hardly reaches the poorest of the poor: the farmers from far-flung areas. But aside from natural calamities, another disaster plagues the farmers of Eastern Visayas: the plague of pests.

Read: Stand with Samar | On ‘ricelessness’, hunger, and poverty

According to Maricris, a coconut farmer from Las Navas, Northern Samar, pests like cocolisap have gravely affected the amount of copra produced — even reaching the point that they could no longer harvest anything because the worms have already destroyed both fruits and trees.

Jun Berino, spokesperson of SAGUPA-SB, also narrated how palay farmers have to face pests from the start of planting the seedlings up to the point of harvest. If they have enough funds, then they also have to rent water pumps. Otherwise, they would have to rely on rain for irrigation.

In the caravan of Eastern Visayas farmers for rights and justice, they were given the opportunity to face two agencies that have the mandate to assist farmers: the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Small farmers at a disadvantage

“Maraming problema na hindi natutugunan. May tulong naman na binabahagi ang PCA sa region na hindi naman nakakaabot sa mga magsasaka sa niyugan, lalo na sa mga mahihirap, (Many problems are not being met. The PCA gives assistance to the region but this does not reach the small coconut farmers, especially the poor ones.)” Berino said in an interview.

After farmers relayed problems they encounter back home, PCA Officer-In-Charge Department Manager of the Operations Department Pablo Romero explained their projects. According to Romero, PCA’s Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (YRRP) has the following components: coconut planting/replanting, coconut intercropping, coconut fertilization debris management and integrated Rhino-beetle control, and integrated pest management.

Romero also explained that the PCA did not allocate funds for the rehabilitation of coconut plantations after post-Yolanda typhoons because no budget was released.

Later in the dialogue, the farmers discovered that one of the major factors that make it hard for them to receive aid is the requirement of a tax declaration to be presented before any assistance or rehabilitation fund is given to them.

Romero said they take ownership of the land into account to ensure ‘continuity’ of the project.

“Karamihan ng mga magsasaka sa niyugan sa Visayas ay walang sariling lupa. Ang proseso nila ay dapat may titulo o may binabayaran na tax para masama sa mga programa ng PCA. Ngayon, minungkahi namin sa PCA kung ano ang pwede nilang gawin para sa mga magsasaka na walang sariling lupa,” (Most coconut farmers in the Visayas do not have their own land. The process of the PCA necessitates a title or a tax declaration for you to be included in their program. Now, we would like to suggest to the PCA that they should also do something about the farmers who do not have their own land.) Berino commented.

Berino also explained that it is hard for them to register their lands because up until now, the classification of their area remains to be ‘forest or timberland’, meaning that it cannot be up for private ownership. Ironically, the actual use of the land is agricultural because years of cultivation have proven that it is fertile.

Romero, representative of PCA, shares about the projects of the agency. (Photo by Ruth Lumibao/ Bulatlat)

The dialogue with PCA is a telling tale of the state of agrarian reform in the country: not only of how those who till the land remain poor and landless, but also of how the politics of aid in rehabilitation tend to benefit those who are landed.

Legitimate demands and hollow promises

“Positibo na napaabot natin ang problema ng mga magsasaka sa niyog. Ang tanong lang ay kailan sila pupunta para tignan ang mga peste at matulungan ang mga magsasaka, (It is positive that we were able to communicate the problems of the coconut farmers. The question is: When will they go to our village to inspect the pests and help the farmers?)“ the peasant leader added.

In response to the farmers’ suggestion that the PCA find ways to address their problems while taking into account the reality that there is no genuine agrarian reform in the country, Romero remarked that he would have to consult his superiors.

In a dialogue with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the department agreed to coordinate with the Department of National Defense (DND) to raise the farmers’ concern about intense militarization in their home province, which likewise affects their livelihood.

It could be recalled that the farmers were earlier violently dispersed by elements of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) after building make-shift tents in front of the DA office.

Related story: Stand With Samar | QCPD demolishes campout of Visayan farmers (Link:

“This is a result of the three-day camp-out. Had it not been for our determination to travel all the way from Eastern Visayas to Metro Manila, the agency will probably not even care about our situation – the alarming pest infestation and the famine looming all over the region”, Berino said in a statement.

In both dialogues, many questions were left unanswered and many concerns were left hanging. What cannot be ignored, however, is the reality that the farmers’ plight is always anchored on one unanswered call: genuine agrarian reform.

For as long as the government and its agencies do not address the problem of landlessness, they would never find a permanent, long-term, and fitting solution to the plight of the farmers. #

Radyo Tacloban: Podcast on People’s Agenda

LISTEN to the first community radio broadcast of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) – Philippines’ “Radyo Tacloban” Project, with Kodao Productions and Eastern Vista in Pinabacdao, Samar last July 23.

“Radyo Tacloban” is the provisional name of the first women-led disaster risk and response community radio station project in Eastern Visayas that is being put up in Tacloban City, the hardest-hit city by supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 8, 2013.

The Pinabacdao broadcast’s theme was “Agenda ng mamamayan at unang State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Duterte” (The people’s agenda and President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address) anchored by Danny Cordova and Frenchie Mae Cumpio.


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