Philippines - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 3 hours 15 min ago

Philippines: Mobilizing communities to save lives of mothers and newborns

22 August 2016 - 8:15am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Philippines

With maternal and newborn deaths a continuing reality in Davao Region, the Department of Health Regional Office 11 is mobilizing community stakeholders to work together to scale up delivery of quality maternal and newborn health care in the barangays, especially those in geographically isolated areas.

Community mobilization entails the higher involvement of local government officials and other members of the community such as leaders of Indigenous Peoples, religious groups, transport sector, and local government agencies to collaborate with health workers in addressing the most pressing challenges related to maternal and neonatal health. The stronger engagement of local officials and other community leaders will make it easier to come up with quick and decisive solutions to problems in health care delivery that would otherwise be difficult to resolve at the level of midwives and nurses alone.

“Local officials have the political mandate to find resources that are otherwise beyond the means of health workers. Hence, their participation, as well as that of the other members of the community, is critical to addressing health challenges in their areas of responsibility,” said Mayor Michael Maruya of the municipality of Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental.

The strategy of mobilizing communities was implemented in Malita, Davao Occidental, after it registered 18 maternal deaths in the third quarter of 2015. The Department of Health Davao Regional Office (DOH RO XI), with technical assistance from WHO Sub National Initiative (SNI), organized stakeholders to work together to achieve desired maternal and neonatal health performance indicators such as antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, facility-based delivery, newborn initiated breastfeeding, among others. Community stakeholders were also informed on the benefits of maternal health and the available maternal and newborn services in health facilities. Heath information was shared during Bisita Buntis (Visit Pregnant Women), and pregnant women were encouraged to seek prenatal consultations and deliver in a health facility assisted by skilled birth attendants.

As a result of these actions, the number of pregnant women visiting health centers to avail of prenatal care significantly increased. Those nearing their term were also provided assistance such as transportation, food and accommodation in a maternity waiting home to ensure they will deliver safely at a nearby safe birthing facility. These joint efforts of local officials, health workers, and other community leaders for maternal and neonatal health have apparently contributed to reduction of maternal mortality in Malita, which registered only one maternal death by June 2016. The strategy of mobilizing communities spawned a sense of shared responsibility among community stakeholders, inspiring them to work together and take an integrated approach instead of a fragmented set of actions towards meeting MNH needs.

Community mobilization is being implemented through the Accelerating Convergence Efforts through Systems Strengthening for Maternal and Newborn Health or AcCESS for MNH, a collaborative project of DOH RO XI and WHO SNI with funding support from Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The project aims to replicate the success of community mobilization in the other nine project sites in Davao Region by applying the lessons learnt in Malita. The strategy is hoped to contribute to the realization of the Davao regional health vision of “Walang Nanay at Sanggol ang Mamamatay dahil sa Panganganak” (No mother and newborn shall die from childbirth).

Philippines: Philippines hopes for peace deal with rebels within a year

22 August 2016 - 6:43am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Oslo, Norway | AFP | Monday 8/22/2016 - 09:27 GMT

The Philippine government said Monday it hoped to reach a peace deal with communist guerrillas within a year, as the two sides kicked off talks in Norway aimed at ending one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

"On the part of the (government) panel, we have imposed a timeline of nine to 12 months," Silvestre Bello, the government delegation's head of negotiations, told reporters.

The government and the rebels hope to breathe new life into the peace process by discussing simultaneously -- contrary to previous attempts -- the outstanding issues of social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and an end to hostilities.

"With this new approach we are quite confident that we will be able to achieve our timetable," Bello said.

The head of the rebels' delegation, Luis Jalandoni, confirmed the timetable but was more cautious in his optimism about reaching a political settlement after 30 years of failed talks.

"I think we will try to do it in one year but it might take a little more time because the negotiations on social and economic reforms could take more time," he told AFP.

"It's more complicated than some may think," he said.

Established in December 1968, Communist Party of the Philippines launched a rebellion three months later that has so far claimed the lives of 30,000 people, according to official estimates.

The New People's Army (NPA), its armed faction, now counts just 4,000 members, down from 26,000 in the 1980s, though it enjoys the support of the poorest people in rural areas.

The closed-door talks in Oslo wrap up on Friday.

phy/po/txw

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

China: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (16 - 22 August 2016)

22 August 2016 - 5:27am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: China, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand

CHINA

As of 18 August, 10 million people have been affected by prolonged drought in six provinces (Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shanxi, Gansu and Ningxia). Authorities estimate 1.5 million people are in need of immediate assistance, including 691,000 people who lack clean drinking water. The amount of precipitation recorded in Inner Mongolia in 2016 is the second lowest in the last 10 years. Local authorities have allocated 200 million yuan (US$30 million) for the response and deployed 14,000 water tankers to the affected areas. No international assistance has been requested.

10 million people affected

Over the past week, flooding in five provinces (including Beijing, Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning and Heilongjiang) has affected around 78,000 people and caused one death, while some 4,400 people have been temporarily relocated. Heavy rain and flooding also continue to impact Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces in southern China with 121,000 people affected and 4,700 temporarily relocated.

78,000 people affected

MYANMAR

A measles outbreak in the Naga Self-Administered Zone has caused 34 deaths, mostly young children, in Lahe and Nanyun townships. Health authorities have established containment zones and initiated an emergency vaccination campaign supported by WHO, UNICEF, the armed forces and other health partners.

34 people dead

PHILIPPINES

Since 18 August, the effect of the southwest monsoon has weakened but continues to bring moderate to heavy rains. Around 1.3 million people have been affected with 91 evacuation centres currently hosting 8,200 people. Nineteen deaths have been confirmed. Seven municipalities in the provinces of Pampanga and Pangasinan have declared a state of calamity. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has augmented the local response and is conducting damage assessments to determine support needed for recovery and rehabilitation.

1.3 million people affected

LAO PDR & THAILAND

Flooding across five provinces (Xayaburi, Luang Prabang, Ouxomxay, Houaphanh and Bokeo) in Lao PDR has affected at least 5,000 people with one death reported in Luang Prabang as of 17 August. The Xayaburi District Disaster Prevention and Control Committee has distributed rice and drinking water and provided mobile health services.

The residual effects of Tropical Storm Dianmu also brought heavy rainfall to the northeast provinces of Thailand, causing the Mekong River to overflow and triggering flash floods. Four deaths were reported in provinces of Nan, Mae Hong Son and Phayao (Thailand).

5 people dead

World: Workshop on Public Finance for Nutrition in Asia: Report of a regional workshop (Bangkok, Thailand, April 25-27, 2016)

22 August 2016 - 1:07am
Source: UN Children's Fund, Scaling Up Nutrition Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World

The report summarizes the technical content of the workshop, highlights key principles, lessons and way forward. The workshop was jointly organized by UNICEF and the SUN Movement Secretariat, aimed to accelerate the efforts of Asian countries in the SUN movement to increase the dialogue and alignment among sectors by reporting on multi-sectoral nutrition budgets and costs of multi-sectoral nutrition plans, addressing the issue of decentralized public finance, and contributing to making the investment case for nutrition. It also aimed to make a contribution to strengthening public finance management systems and procedures for improved nutrition.

Philippines: LGUs are the first responders to disaster response, DSWD to augment resources

22 August 2016 - 12:26am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo explained its partnership with local government units (LGUs) in providing response in times of calamities.

She said that while the DSWD provides the needed basic services of disaster-affected families through the prepositioning of family food packs and standby funds, LGUs are the first responders in the occurrence of natural and man-made calamities, based on Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

“We would like to clarify the different roles of the national and local government agencies in times of disasters, so that the public will know the accountability and responsibility of the different offices,” Sec. Taguiwalo stressed.

Aside from RA10121, RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 also stipulates that LGUs have the responsibility to undertake rescue operations, provide immediate relief assistance, and set-up and manage evacuation centers at the first instance of disaster occurrence.

The Local Government Code also devolved the basic services and programs of national government along disaster operations to a self-reliant local government. These include programs for evacuees and the conduct of disaster relief operations.

“The DSWD, in turn, is mandated to provide augmentation support to the LGUs and assist in capacitating them to handle emergencies or calamities,” the Secretary further said.

Sec. Taguiwalo expounded that DSWD augmentations are based on the requests of LGUs and the corresponding assessment of Field Offices. The Department continues to provide assistance so long as there are needs.

Although DSWD is not considered the first direct responders, the Department is always ready to provide immediate assistance to the LGUs.

“In fact, even before a disaster strikes, family food packs, other food and non-food items are already prepositioned in the different regional offices as well as in strategic LGUs to ensure that the affected families, even in far-flung areas have access to the most basic needs,” Sec. Taguiwalo continued. In terms of camp management, the LGUs directly manage the evacuation centers, while the DSWD monitors and ensures that the temporary shelters operate based on the approved guidelines.

Sec. Taguiwalo added, “The Department ensures the promotion and protection of the rights of the internally-displaced families (IDPs), and that they are free from abuse, especially those staying in evacuation centers.”

Further, Sec. Taguiwalo pointed out, “DSWD also has a greater task at hand before and after the occurrence of a disaster. As Vice-Chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), DSWD takes on the role of capacitating the LGUs along disaster mitigation and response.”

Part of this task is the provision of needed training to the LGUs to capacitate them as first responders. DSWD, along with other NDRRMC member- agencies, also conducts pre-disaster assessment risks especially for initially identified hazardous areas.

“The Department works heavily in the post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation phase. With the resources of the LGUs usually depleted during the disaster response phase, the national government leads in providing programs and services aimed at helping the affected communities/families recover from the disaster,” Sec. Taguiwalo said.

“With the LGU’s proximity to the communities, their role in disaster operations is significant. Their readiness in evacuation, rescue activities and disaster relief operations will make a difference in saving lives and ensuring that the needs of their constituents will be immediately responded to,” Sec. Taguiwalo further stressed.

Despite the different roles and responsibilities, the Secretary emphasized that all sectors, government in all levels as well as civil society organizations, must work together in providing a truly compassionate service to victims of disasters to ensure that they can bounce back and eventually lead normal lives again.

Philippines: NDRRMC Update: SitRep No. 15 re Preparedness Measures and Effects of Southwest Monsoon (Habagat)

21 August 2016 - 8:33pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

I. Situation Overview

Since 08 August 2016, Southwest Monsoon is affecting Luzon and Western Visayas.

On 09-10 August 2016, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) located at Aparri, Cagayan enhanced the Southwest Monsoon which brought moderate to heavy rains over Metro Manila, !locos Region, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and the Provinces of Benguet, Zambales, and Bataan.

The LPA at Itbayat, Batanes exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on 11 August 2016 but continued to enhance the Southwest Monsoon.

On 12-14 August 2016, the Southwest Monsoon continued to bring light to heavy rains with isolated thunderstorms over Luzon and Western Visayas. The presence of a Low Pressure Area located at East of Baler, Aurora enhanced the Southwest Monsoon on 15-16 August 2016 which brought monsoon rains over Luzon.

On 17 August 2016. the Southwest Monsoon affected the western section of Northern and Central Luzon which brought light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected over the regions of Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan as the LPA exited the PAR.

At 11:00 AM, 18 August 2016, the effect of the Southwest Monsoon has weakened.

Light to moderate rains and thunderstorms was experienced over Luzon, Visayas, and in the Regions of Northern Mindanao, and CARAGA while isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms was experienced over Metro Manila and the rest of the country on 19-20 August 2016.

On 21 August 2016, 11:00 AM, a Low Pressure Area (LPA) located at East Northeast of Catanduanes enhanced the Southwest Monsoon which will continue to affect Southern Luzon and Visayas and will bring moderate to heavy rains over regions of MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas and Negros Island today until Tuesday.

Philippines: NDRRMC Update: SitRep No. 14 re Preparedness Measures and Effects of Southwest Monsoon (Habagat)

21 August 2016 - 2:03am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

I. Situation Overview

Since 08 August 2016, Southwest Monsoon is affecting Luzon and Western Visayas.

On 09-10 August 2016, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) located at Aparri, Cagayan enhanced the Southwest Monsoon which brought moderate to heavy rains over Metro Manila, !locos Region, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and the Provinces of Benguet, Zambales, and Bataan.

The LPA at Itbayat, Batanes exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on 11 August 2016 but continued to enhance the Southwest Monsoon.

On 12-14 August 2016, the Southwest Monsoon continued to bring light to heavy rains with isolated thunderstorms over Luzon and Western Visayas. The presence of a Low Pressure Area located at East of Baler, Aurora enhanced the Southwest Monsoon on 15-16 August 2016 which brought monsoon rains over Luzon.

On 17 August 2016. the Southwest Monsoon affected the western section of Northern and Central Luzon which brought light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected over the regions of Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan as the LPA exited the PAR.

At 11:00 AM, 18 August 2016, the effect of the Southwest Monsoon has weakened. However, the !locos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and the Provinces of Zambales and Bataan will continue to experience cloudy skies and light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

At 5:00 PM, 20 August 2016, Monsoon trough is affecting Luzon and Visayas. Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected over Luzon, Visayas and the Regions of Northern Mindanao and CARAGA. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms will prevail over the rest of Mindanao. Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northwest to west will prevail over northern and central Luzon and coming from the southwest to west over Visayas and the rest of Luzon. The Coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest with slight to moderate seas.

Philippines: NDRRMC Update: SitRep No. 13 re Preparedness Measures and Effects of Southwest Monsoon (Habagat)

21 August 2016 - 12:47am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

I. Situation Overview

Since 08 August 2016, Southwest Monsoon is affecting Luzon and Western Visayas. On 09-10 August 2016, the Low Pressure Area (LPA) located at Aparri, Cagayan enhanced the Southwest Monsoon which brought moderate to heavy rains over Metro Manila, !locos Region, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and the Provinces of Benguet, Zambales, and Bataan.

The LPA at Itbayat, Batanes exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on 11 August 2016 but continued to enhance the Southwest Monsoon. On 12-14 August 2016, the Southwest Monsoon continued to bring light to heavy rains with isolated thunderstorms over Luzon and Western Visayas. The presence of a Low Pressure Area located at East of Baler, Aurora enhanced the Southwest Monsoon on 15-16 August 2016 which brought monsoon rains over Luzon. On 17 August 2016. the Southwest Monsoon affected the western section of Northern and Central Luzon which brought light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected over the regions of Cordillera, Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan as the LPA exited the PAR.

At 11:00 AM, 18 August 2016, the effect of the Southwest Monsoon has weakened. However, the !locos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and the Provinces of Zambales and Bataan will continue to experience cloudy skies and light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, at 5:00 PM, 19 August 2016, Monsoon trough is affecting Luzon and Visayas. Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected over the regions of Bicol and Eastern Visayas and the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Aurora and Quezon. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms will prevail over Metro Manila and the rest of the country.

Philippines: Philippines, rebels declare ceasefire ahead of talks

20 August 2016 - 6:56am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Saturday 8/20/2016 - 10:19 GMT

The Philippine government and communist guerrillas have agreed to ceasefires from Sunday, both sides said, ahead of crucial peace talks next week to end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

Both sides said a break from the fighting will create a conducive environment at the negotiations next week in Norway, which are aimed at reaching a political settlement after 30 years of failed talks.

The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a seven-day unilateral truce hours after President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to free its top jailed leaders on Friday.

The government responded by saying it will restore a unilateral ceasefire that was declared in July but abruptly withdrawn by Duterte just days later after a rebel ambush.

"The... ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace to the land and also to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations," Duterte peace adviser Jesus Dureza told reporters Saturday.

Dureza said he and at least six of the freed rebels were set to fly to Oslo Saturday for the talks that kick off Monday.

The government estimates the 47-year-old rebellion has claimed 30,000 lives and impoverished vast swathes of the South East Asian nation.

The talks, which Norway has acted as an intermediary for, broke down in 2013 after Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino rejected the communists' demand to free all imprisoned guerrillas.

Dureza said the government expects to reach an "interim negotiated ceasefire" as soon as possible to put in place mechanisms to avoid renewed conflict, something the unilateral truce declarations do not provide.

The communists said their own ceasefire would only last until August 27, but a rebel statement said they were willing to discuss a longer ceasefire with Manila.

However, this would only be possible after the government freed "all political prisoners", it said, referring to 550 guerrillas detained by the government.

The rebel army is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen left, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, when a bloodless "People Power" revolt ended the 20-year dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

But the movement retains support among the poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses.

After winning a landslide election victory in May, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire last month, but ended it five days later when a rebel ambush killed a government militia member and wounded four others.

Duterte had enjoyed relatively good ties with guerrillas operating around Davao, the southern city which he led as mayor for more than 20 years.

A self-described socialist, the 71-year-old has since appointed two left-leaning personalities to his cabinet and even initially vowed to form a coalition government with the rebels should the peace talks succeed.

Hours after the release of guerrilla chief Benito Tiamzon and his wife on Friday, police said they had arrested another senior rebel leader, Amelia Pond, accused of double murder, in the central city of Cebu.

bur/cgm/jv

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: UN rights prober seeks Philippines visit, is rebuffed

20 August 2016 - 4:51am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Saturday 8/20/2016 - 08:45 GMT

The UN human rights investigator has told AFP she hopes to visit the Philippines to probe alleged extrajudicial killings, but President Rodrigo Duterte's government bluntly declared she was unwelcome.

Police have shot dead 665 suspects with vigilantes killing 889 others in an anti-drug crackdown, the Philippine police chief told a Senate hearing earlier in the week.

Rejecting UN allegations the crackdown amounted to a crime under international law, Duterte's chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday challenged the UN special rapporteur on human rights to visit the Philippines and investigate.

"I welcome the invitation from the government assuming this will enable unlimited engagement with the authorities and other key actors and stakeholders concerned with the recent wave of alleged extra-judicial executions," the rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, told AFP in an email.

However, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella clarified Saturday "UN mouthpieces" had wrongly assumed Panelo's comments constituted an invitation to visit the Philippines and investigate the drug-related deaths.

"The Philippines has not extended any invitation to anybody, nor the UN to look into its national affairs," Abella said in a statement.

  • 'Interference' -

"The... so-called investigations by third parties are objectionable interference in the household affairs of a nation whose citizens welcome the change that the president and his people-friendly policies and programmes (have) set in place," he added.

Duterte won May elections in a landslide largely on a pledge to kill tens of thousands of criminals. The killings began days after the vote.

In a written response late Friday to questions emailed by AFP following Panelo's comments, Callamard said she would ask Manila for guarantees for her freedom of movement and enquiry, as well as safety assurances for her and potential witnesses.

Duterte has ordered police to shoot and kill suspects if they believed the latter's actions threatened the lawmen's lives.

He vowed to grant police amnesty if they were charged in court over the conduct of these operations.

When he took office on June 30, Duterte also told a crowd in Manila: "If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

His aides have said such comments, which he made repeatedly on the campaign trail, should not be interpreted literally and that they were meant to get the public to cooperate with the campaign.

On Wednesday Duterte hit out at "stupid" UN criticism over the crackdown, warning the global body not to interfere.

"Do not investigate us as though we are criminals," he said, adding that if the UN were to send an investigator, "I'd like to box him in the head."

Callamard told AFP it was the duty of governments to ensure their agents did not violate human rights through arbitrary killings, as well as to "take measures to prevent and punish deprivation of life by criminal actors".

"A failure to investigate and bring perpetrators of such violations to justice could in and of itself give rise to a separate breach of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights," she added.

"It is irresponsible and unlawful on the part of the Philippine president to publicly call on the police to commit criminal acts and engage in extra-judicial killings, even if the speech is hyperbole or intended for dramatic effect."

Abella retorted: "The liberal Western values being imposed upon an Asian nation that places premium on common good is both insensitive and displays a lack of appreciation for the diversity of global culture."

ajm-cgm/kma/jv

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Press

Philippines: DSWD to provide aid as long as there are ‘Habagat’ evacuees

20 August 2016 - 1:05am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has sent more augmentation assistance to local government units (LGUs) affected by heavy rains and floods spawned by the Southwest Monsoon that hit most of Luzon and Visayas over the past two weeks.

As of 6 am today, the Department has provided ₱9,197,733.30 augmentation assistance in the form of family food packs, and food and non-food items.

All in all, a total of ₱13,776,470.42 worth of relief assistance has been provided to the affected families from the combined resources of the DSWD, LGUs with ₱4,170,217.12 and non-government organizations with ₱408,520.

DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has ordered DSWD-Field Offices in affected areas to continue to coordinate with LGUs on the provision of additional support especially that 2,537 families or 10,457 persons are still in 111 evacuation centers in Regions I, III, CALABARZON, and CAR. “We will continue to provide assistance as long as there are families staying in temporary shelters,” Sec. Taguiwalo said.

Meanwhile, DSWD-Field Office IV has started to conduct Damaged Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) especially in San Mateo, Rizal to determine appropriate services necessary for the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected families in the area.

Other DSWD-Field Office will undertake their respective DANA in the coming days. ###

Philippines: Philippines, rebels declare ceasefire ahead of talks

20 August 2016 - 12:25am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Saturday 8/20/2016 - 10:19 GMT

The Philippine government and communist guerrillas have agreed to ceasefires from Sunday, both sides said, ahead of crucial peace talks next week to end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

Both sides said a break from the fighting will create a conducive environment at the negotiations next week in Norway, which are aimed at reaching a political settlement after 30 years of failed talks.

The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a seven-day unilateral truce hours after President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to free its top jailed leaders on Friday.

The government responded by saying it will restore a unilateral ceasefire that was declared in July but abruptly withdrawn by Duterte just days later after a rebel ambush.

"The... ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace to the land and also to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations," Duterte peace adviser Jesus Dureza told reporters Saturday.

Dureza said he and at least six of the freed rebels were set to fly to Oslo Saturday for the talks that kick off Monday.

The government estimates the 47-year-old rebellion has claimed 30,000 lives and impoverished vast swathes of the South East Asian nation.

The talks, which Norway has acted as an intermediary for, broke down in 2013 after Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino rejected the communists' demand to free all imprisoned guerrillas.

Dureza said the government expects to reach an "interim negotiated ceasefire" as soon as possible to put in place mechanisms to avoid renewed conflict, something the unilateral truce declarations do not provide.

The communists said their own ceasefire would only last until August 27, but a rebel statement said they were willing to discuss a longer ceasefire with Manila.

However, this would only be possible after the government freed "all political prisoners", it said, referring to 550 guerrillas detained by the government.

The rebel army is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen left, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, when a bloodless "People Power" revolt ended the 20-year dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

But the movement retains support among the poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses.

After winning a landslide election victory in May, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire last month, but ended it five days later when a rebel ambush killed a government militia member and wounded four others.

Duterte had enjoyed relatively good ties with guerrillas operating around Davao, the southern city which he led as mayor for more than 20 years.

A self-described socialist, the 71-year-old has since appointed two left-leaning personalities to his cabinet and even initially vowed to form a coalition government with the rebels should the peace talks succeed.

Hours after the release of guerrilla chief Benito Tiamzon and his wife on Friday, police said they had arrested another senior rebel leader, Amelia Pond, accused of double murder, in the central city of Cebu.

bur/cgm/jv

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Philippine rebels in 7-day truce for Norway talks

20 August 2016 - 12:25am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Saturday 8/20/2016 - 03:54 GMT

Philippine communist guerrillas will observe a seven-day truce from Sunday to bolster upcoming peace talks hosted by Norway, the rebels said, urging the Manila government to also order a ceasefire.

The Communist Party of the Philippines made the move following President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to free its top leaders on Friday. They are set to fly to Oslo for negotiations aimed at ending one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

"We hope that this ceasefire declaration will be reciprocated by the (government) as a show of all-out determination to move forward with peace negotiations," the party said in a statement.

The talks begin on Monday with both sides expressing optimism for reaching a political settlement after 30 years of failed negotiations.

The government estimates the 47-year-old rebellion has claimed 30,000 lives and impoverished vast swathes of the South East Asian nation.

Norway has acted as an intermediary in the talks. Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino had ended negotiations in 2013 after rejecting the communists' demand that he free all imprisoned guerrillas.

A spokesman for the president did not immediately respond to AFP on whether Philippine security forces would also observe a truce.

After winning a landslide election victory in May, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire last month, but ended it just five days later when a rebel ambush killed a government militia member and wounded four others.

"To further bolster peace negotiations, the (party) and (its armed wing the New People's Army) are also open to discuss the possibility of a longer ceasefire," the rebel statement said.

However, this would only be possible after the government freed "all political prisoners", it said, referring to 550 guerrillas detained by the government.

The rebel army is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen left, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, when a bloodless "People Power" revolt ended the 20-year dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

But the movement retains support among the poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses.

Hours after the release of guerrilla chief Benito Tiamzon and his wife in Manila on Friday, police said they had arrested another senior rebel leader, Amelia Pond, in the central city of Cebu.

The woman is to stand trial for two murders as well as attempted murder, a police statement said.

cgm-str/fa

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

World: Aid in Danger - Aid workers reported assaulted or injured - between January 2015 and June 2016 (As of 16 August 2016)

19 August 2016 - 10:05am
Source: Insecurity Insight Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, Zambia

In 2015, open sources reported 207 aid workers as assaulted or injured in 95 severe incidents. - During the first six months of 2016, 43 severe incidents reported 97 aid workers as assaulted or injured.
- 2 aid workers raped in South Sudan and Tanzania.
- 1 aid worker sexually assaulted in Zambia.

These data has been prepared by the Aid in Danger project by Insecurity Insight using the Security in Numbers Database. Reported events based on open source reporting between January 2015-June 2016, as of 16 August 2016. Data collection is ongoing and these numbers may change as new information is made available. More information www.insecurityinsight.ordaidindanger/

World: Aid in Danger: Aid workers reported killed, kidnapped, injured or assaulted between January 2015 and June 2016 (as of 16 August 2016)

19 August 2016 - 9:57am
Source: Insecurity Insight Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen, Zambia

816 aid workers reported killed, kidnapped, injured or assaulted between January 2015 and June 2016

In 2015, open sources reported 515 aid workers killed (179), kidnapped (129) and assaulted or injured (207) in 234 severe incidents. During the first six months of 2016, open sources reported 301 aid workers killed (129), kidnapped (75) and assaulted or injured (97) in 122 severe incidents.

World: Aid in Danger - Infrastructure (January 2015 - June 2016) as of 16 August 2016

19 August 2016 - 9:37am
Source: Insecurity Insight Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Greece, Guinea, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Open sources reported damage to, loss of or the destruction of a wide range of humanitarian infrastructure on 160 occasions between January 2015 and June 2016.

In 2015, open sources reported damage to, loss of or the destruction of 114 aid infrastructure in 108 incidents. During the first six months of 2016, open sources reported damage to, loss of or the destruction of 61 aid infrastructures in 52 incidents. Infrastructure events report damage to, loss of or the destruction of assets, property or buildings of an aid agency through burglary, looting, raids, robbery, theft and military operations.

  • Ambulances and other Emergency Vehicles Compounds and Offices Convoys, Motorcycles and Vehicles
  • Equipment (computers, laptops, mobile phones, hard drives) and Warehouses
  • Fuel Barges Guesthouses and Residences
  • Health Clinics and Hospitals Loss of Supplies in Transit
  • Project Sites and Protection Sites

Philippines: DSWD continues to extend aid to 'Habagat'-affected families; vows transparency in handling public resources

19 August 2016 - 12:15am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the lead disaster response agency, continues to extend relief and augmentation support to families affected by the Southwest Monsoon rains.

Based on the recent bulletin released by the DSWD, as of 4AM of August 19, the combined amount of assistance extended to affected families reached to P9 million, of which P4,587,812.27 worth of aid was given by the DSWD, while local government units (LGUs) provided P4,045,898.92, and non-government organizations (NGOs) gave P517,186.20 worth of relief support.

“Importante po sa amin ang pagbibigay ng transparent na pag-uulat kung magkano na ang public funds na nagagamit natin sa pagresponde sa mga kababayan nating apektado ng disasters (It is important for us to provide transparent data on how much public funds is being utilized during disaster response operations),” said DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo.

As of this writing, a total of 87,536 families or 416,681 persons were affected by the inclement weather in Regions I, III, CAR and CALABARZON.

Of this number, 3,071 families or 12,756 persons are still in 126 evacuation centers in the said regions, while 63,575 families or 303,769 persons temporarily took shelter with their relatives and friends.

Currently, the DSWD continues its coordination with LGUs in monitoring disaster response operations in the local level.

“Makakaasa po kayo na patuloy po naming aayusin ang pag-handle ng public resources upang maipamahagi ang mga ito sa mga Pilipinong nangangailangan (We will continue to effectively handle public resources to provide the necessary help to Filipinos in need of assistance),” Sec. Taguiwalo ended.

Philippines: Philippines - Severe Weather (PAGASA, NDRRMC) (ECHO Daily Flash of 18 August 2016)

18 August 2016 - 11:04am
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Philippines
  • Heavy rain and floods continue to affect several parts of the country causing floods and damage over the last few days.

  • According to the Risk Reduction and Management Council, the death toll has risen to 14 people while 6 people have been injured and 8 are still missing in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, III, VI and NCR regions.

  • Moderate to occasionally heavy rain is predicted over Ilocos region and the provinces of Benguet, Zambales and Batan while isolated thunderstorms are predicted over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

  • A low pressure area was estimated 1360 km East of Baler, Aurora.

Philippines: Philippine Red Cross responds as monsoon floods cause thousands to evacuate

18 August 2016 - 10:38am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Philippines

By Mary Joy Elvarosa, IFRC

Heavy rains and flooding caused by the southwest monsoon combined with a low-pressure weather front, forced over 260,000 people to flee their homes in the Philippines last weekend August 13-14.

The intense monsoon rains affected six regions of the country, mostly in Luzon, triggering flooding as well as landslides in some parts of Rizal province and Northern Luzon.

Prior to the disaster, over 100 Philippine Red Cross (PRC) emergency response teams, chapter staff, community health volunteers and Red Cross volunteers were mobilized in high risk areas. They have since served hot meals to over 2,000 people displaced by the floods and also provided psychosocial support and other help to families in the affected regions.

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon assured the public that the Red Cross would remain ‘on alert and ready for any eventuality until the bad weather is over.’

Days after the torrential rains, close to 18,000 people remain housed in 77 designated evacuation centres across the country. On August 17, Dagupan, a city 200 km north of Manila declared a state of calamity, following a city-wide flooding.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), many of the low-lying areas in the provinces of Central Luzon experienced flooding measuring up to six feet.

In anticipation of the monsoon season, the Philippine Red Cross Operation Center (OpCen) in Manila had been on alert-mode since July, monitoring weather patterns and maintaining constant communication with local chapters in hazard prone regions of the country.

The Red Cross also swung into action providing emergency relief and first aid after two freak tornadoes swept across parts of Manila and Bulacan province on August 14th and 17th, causing injuries and damaging over 100 houses and commercial establishments. The Philippine Red Cross warehouse located in Port Area, Manila also sustained minor damage.

According to PAGASA, the national meteorological service, the tornadoes, which are unusual in the Philippines, resulted from the severe thunderstorms over the course of the week and are not linked to the onset of La Niña, which is projected to bring additional rainfall to the country over the coming months. Weather systems will continue to affect the country for the month of August, and two to four tropical cyclones may still develop over the monsoon season.

The Philippine Red Cross with the support of our Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners, has been gearing up its contingency plans since June in preparation for the onset of La Niña.

World: Asia Pacific Food Price and Policy Monitor, July 2016 - Issue 31

18 August 2016 - 9:13am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Australia, Bangladesh, China, China - Taiwan Province, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

General inflation in the region in June was estimated at 3.9 percent, and food inflation was 4.9 percent.

  • Sri Lanka recorded the highest monthly food price increase in the Asia-Pacific region in June, with a rise of 4.3 percent compared to May.

  • Afghanistan reported higher prices for wheat flour (high and low quality) and rice (low quality) compared to a month and a year ago.

  • In Indonesia, the Ministry of Trade increased the import quota for beef from 10 000 tonnes to 27 000 tonnes to increase supply and reduce prices during Ramadan.

  • India was seeking potential suppliers of pulses from overseas as domestic prices continued to rise.

REGIONAL OVERVIEW

FOOD AND REGIONAL INFLATION

In the region, general inflation inched up 0.5 percent and food price inflation rose 0.6 percent in June compared to May. Year on year, general inflation was up 3.9 percent and food price inflation increased by 4.9 percent.

In Afghanistan, general inflation rose 0.5 percent in June 2016 compared to May and food inflation was up 0.6 percent, but general inflation was 6 percent higher than a year ago, and food inflation increased 6.8 percent. In Bangladesh, general and food inflation edged up 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. However, year on year, general inflation increased 5.5 percent and food inflation was 4.2 percent higher.

In China, general inflation was stable, falling by just 0.1 percent and food inflation was down 1.4 percent in June. Lower prices were recorded for tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, pork, ducks and kidney beans. Year on year, however, general inflation rose 1.9 percent and food prices were up by 4.6 percent.

In Indonesia, general inflation was 0.2 percent higher and food inflation was up 0.5 percent compared to May. Higher prices for chicken, fresh fish, eggs, sugar, potatoes, carrots, rice and spinach pushed food prices higher. Year on year, however, general inflation increased 3.5 percent, and food inflation by 7.8 percent.

In Malaysia, general and food inflation were up by 0.2 and 0.5 percent, respectively, in June 2016, and 1.6 and 4.2 percent higher than a year ago. In the Philippines’ general inflation inched up by 0.4 percent and food prices by 0.6 percent.
Samoa’s general inflation in June increased 1.4 percent and food price inflation by 3.5 percent. Year on year, consumer prices were up 2.2 percent and food prices 8.7 percent.

In Pakistan, general inflation was up by 0.6 percent compared to May, and increased by 3.2 percent compared to June last year.
Food price inflation increased by 1.2 percent compared to May. Month on month, higher prices were recorded for tomatoes (61.1 percent), potatoes (45.5 percent), eggs (8.5 percent), whole gram (5.7 percent), fresh fruits (2.5 percent), pulse gram (2.2 percent) and rice (1.4 percent).

India’s general inflation was up by 1.2 percent month on month, and food prices increased by 2.4 percent, essentially due to higher prices on rice (3.4 percent), wheat (6.8 percent), pulses (26.6 percent) vegetables (16.9 percent), potatoes (64.5 percent) and sugar (26.1 percent). Nepal’s general and food inflation were up by 0.8 and 2 percent, respectively. Year on year, general inflation increased by 11.1 percent and food prices were up by 11.9 percent, mainly on increases in the prices of vegetables (29.4 percent) and pulses (21.5 percent).

Sri Lanka’s general inflation rose by 2.1 percent and food prices were 4.3 percent higher than in May for the highest recorded monthly food price increase in the region. Prices rose for vegetables, green chilies, rice, sugar, potatoes, red onions and fish. In Thailand, general inflation remained stable and food prices decreased by just 0.1 percent. In Viet Nam, general and food inflation were up 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. Year-on-year general inflation increased by 2.4 percent and food prices by 2.8 percent.