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Philippine News Digest 128

September 14, 2007 · 

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Contents:
-Court convicts man for rape of 9-year-old
-Rights group helping farmer seek son accused of abduction
-DENR inks Sierra Madre agreement

Court convicts man for rape of 9-year-old
By Julie M. Aurelio
Inquirer
Last updated 04:53pm (Mla time) 09/13/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A jobless man accused of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl in Taguig City has been sentenced to reclusion temporal despite his claims the girl had fabricated her story.

Joey Abades was also ordered to pay his young victim P50,000 by Judge Lorifel Acap-Pahinma of the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 69.

Reclusion temporal ranges from 12 years and one day imprisonment to a maximum of 15 years and four months.

Abades, a resident of the village of Bagumbayan, was arrested in 2003 after BB (not her real name) accused him of fondling her inside her grandmother’s room and inserting his finger into her vagina.

In her eight-page decision, Pahinma found the accused guilty of rape despite Abades’s claims that BB was lying on her mother’s instruction.

“The declaration of BB, who was then only nine years old at the time of the incident, is given full weight and credit, for youth and immaturity are badges of truth,” the judge pointed out.

Court records showed that on June 12, 2003 at around 6:30 a.m., the accused, who was living in the same house as the young girl, fondled her and inserted his finger into victim’s private part until it hurt her.

BB further testified that Abades even forced her to hold his penis, and kissed her on the neck and cheek while no one was inside her grandmother’s room.

A medico-legal examination conducted by Dr. Reynaldo Dave revealed that the girl’s genitals suffered a laceration caused by a blunt object like a pencil, pen or a finger.

Another witness, Leonardo Deado, testified that he saw Abades on the morning of June 12, 2003 as the accused kissed BB even as she struggled to free herself.

However, Abades countered the charges, claiming that BB’s mother made the victim tell the story in order to have her husband come back to her.

He also claimed that Deado could not have possibly seen him assaulting the victim, since Deado looked like he was on drugs at the time.

But the judge dismissed Abades’s defense that BB’s mother was only using the victim to get back her husband.

“It strains credulity that the mother of BB would use her daughter and concoct a false charge of rape and subject her to a physical examination of her private part to assuage her own hurt feelings brought about by her husband’s philandering ways,” Pahinma added in her decision.

Rights group helping farmer seek son accused of abduction
By Niña Catherine Calleja, Romulo Ponte
Inquirer
Last updated 03:19pm (Mla time) 09/13/2007

SAN PABLO CITY, Philippines — The military is accusing the human rights group Karapatan of “abducting” a farmer looking for his missing son after a rally last week in front of the Army headquarters in Gumaca, Quezon.

A military statement furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, said Karapatan took Elezer Orlina instead of assisting him in regaining the custody of his son, Rodel, a suspected member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Orlina’s wife, Alfreda, filed an abduction complaint against Karapatan with the provincial prosecutor’s office on Monday.

But Orlina, in an interview with the Inquirer on Thursday, said he was not forced to join the group. “I just want to have my son back to us,” he said in Filipino.

He admitted that his heart illness was aggravated by news that his son, Rodel, was arrested by the military on suspicion of being an NPA member.

He told the Inquirer he would just complete the papers for the filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before returning home.

Orlina said he was able to speak to his son at the camp of the 76th Infantry Battalion (IB) on September 3.

Karapatan earlier said the military had previously denied custody of Orlina’s son.

The military said following the September 4 rally at the 76th IB headquarters, the family of Orlina, a resident of Villa Reyes, San Narciso, Quezon, reported his disappearance.

Orlina and Epifanio Puyos, barangay (village) captain of Villa Reyes, went to the battalion headquarters with Karapatan to look for the missing Rodel.

Rodel was reportedly captured with other NPA rebels by government troops after a clash in Barangay Almacen, Unisan, Quezon, on August 29.

But Alfreda reported to the 76th IB that her husband did not return and she feared that Karapatan was restraining him from going home, the military statement said.

The military claimed that, after the rally, Orlina, with members of Karapatan, went to the office of the municipal mayor to ask for further assistance. Since it was already late in the afternoon, Orlina opted to place himself in the custody of Gumaca Vice Mayor Josefa Carmela Lavidez.

According to the military statement, Lavidez noticed that the farmer was weak so she brought him to the hospital the following day for a checkup and medication.

Lavidez said Karapatan went to her office at around 9 a.m. and asked if they could have custody of Orlina. So, she released Orlina to the group who promised her they would take care of him, the statement added.

Karapatan dismissed the claim of the military as black propaganda.

Doris Cuario, secretary general of Karapatan in Southern Tagalog, said it was Orlina who asked for their help in looking for his son.

DENR inks Sierra Madre agreement
The Manila Bulletin Online

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose “Lito” L. Atienza Jr. yesterday forged an agreement with the public and private sectors for the reforestation and protection of the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Cagayan Valley.

Under the agreement signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), environmental organization Conservation International (CI), Toyota Motor Corp., and the municipality of Peñablanca, Cagayan, they committed to work together in the restoration of a total of 2,500 hectares of denuded forest lands within the 118,108-hectare Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape.

According to the DENR, the Peñablanca forest is threatened by destructive farming, timber poaching, wildlife hunting, charcoal making, and slash-and-burn farming that continue to decimate the resources sustaining the people of Peñablanca and its surrounding communities.

Some two million indigenous species of trees will be planted in six years in Barangays Mangga, Sisim, San Roque, Cabasan, and Bugatay in Peñablanca.

The project also involves agroforestry, forest protection, climate, community and biodiversity certification, and research and development.

Atienza said the Peñablanca Reforestation Project exemplifies the Green Philippines Program (GPP) of President Arroyo, which intends to attain sustainable development through reforestation. (Ellalyn B. de Vera) – End –

updated September 14, 2007

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