Judge metes 20 years in jail to Satarah ‘owner’ for estafa

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2018

‘Ponzi scheme type investment fraud’ 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A Regional Trial Court judge recently sentenced the registered owner of Satarah Wellness Marketing to a maximum of 20 years in jail for defrauding a client.
In his decision, Judge Danilo P. Camacho ordered Romiellie Batolne Lau, jailed for estafa for not returning P650,000 invested by complainant Romel  B. Ngaseo.
Camacho ordered Lau to pay Ngaseo the amount including six percent interest per annum until the amount is paid.
The decision was made on Aug. 21 but was only received by complainant’s lawyer Ronald Y. Beding on Tuesday.
Seven persons were earlier accused by the complainant of syndicated estafa but only two were arrested including Ms Lau and a certain Ruben Dulay who was later acquitted for insufficiency of evidence.
Included in the charge sheet aside from Ms. Lau and Dulay were Heinrich Lau a.k.a. Wing Pan Henrich Tsang Lau, Claire Batolne Ebes, Richie Melu and Nathan Demecillo who remain at large.
As stated in the information filed, the seven accused conspired and confederated with each other in defrauding Ngaseo the P650,000.
 Ngaseo said on February 2015, the accused got the money “even if they were not allowed by law in solicitation and trading of investments.”
In the charge sheet, the complainant said he was offered 22 percent interest per month in what he called a Ponzi scheme type of investment fraud.
That month, Ngaseo said he was invited by a friend to attend a seminar of Satarah wherein Demecillo and Melo, organizers and employees of the company encouraged them to invest.
Ngaseo said there were some lawyers and a ranking Benguet provincial official during the seminar at the D & L building below the provincial capitol in La Trinidad.
The provincial official allegedly said he “gained financial freedom” after joining Satara.   
“The group told the attendees that the company is investing in Philippine stocks, forex trading and real property business,” Ngaseo narrated. He said he checked papers of Satarah with Securities and Exchange Commission in Baguio and found out that Satarah and the accused were not allowed to sell, trade or broker securities.    
Brand new cars and free travel abroad were offered to investors once they invested P1 million, he added.
After receiving the first pay out of P143,000, Ngaseo said Satarah never paid him despite repeated demands and visits to their office in Quezon Hill.
Satarah, Ngaseo said, offered him a variety of excuses saying he had to wait until the money will be given him.
It was due to this that he came to know Batolne, Ebes and Dulay.
On September 2015, Satarah allegedly informed Ngaseo about the opening of two cooperatives namely Yes Fair Cooperative  based at Bakakeng, Baguio City and Tsidekenu Credit Cooperative at Pico, La Trinidad.
“Upon payment of P5,500 share capital, they instructed me to surrender (which he did) all acknowledgement receipts previously issued by Satarah,” Ngaseo said. “The Tsidekenu cooperative promised me that I will be paid six and a half percent interest effective November 2015. However, after giving partial payment of first pay out, they again failed to comply with their obligation up to this time.” 
Following this, Ngaseo filled affidavit-complaint against the accused subscribed by assistant provincial prosecutor Joylyn V. Calde.
The accused did not dispute or deny Ngaseo’s accusations prompting Camacho to rule against her. 


8 ex-rebels linked to land-grabbing nabbed in Benguet; guns seized

TUBA, Benguet — Eight men tagged by police as members of a gun-running and land-grabbing syndicate were arrested by police in a recent raid that resulted in the seizure of a cache of high-powered firearms in his town.
Chief Supt. Rolando Nana, police regional director in Cordillera, said the raid in Sitio Barakbak, Barangay Ansagan morning of Sept. 25 was conducted by joint elements of the Municipal Police Station, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and police Mobile Force Company supported by a search warrant.
Nana said the search resulted in the confiscation of six illegal firearms and assorted ammunition.
Arrested were Reymund Barbero Bagni, Gordon Jackson Walis, Gilbert Balacdey Loreto, Shobert Sumalnap Ubuagan, Eljhon Ubuagan Sumalnao, Florencio Ayao Beronilla, Dearly Langgi Beronilla and Jerome Berona Guerrero, all residents or natives of Sallapadan, Abra.
Nana said Bagni, a former rebel commander of the New People’s Army who surrendered to authorities during the Marcos regime, stood as their leader.
The other suspects, he said, were former fighters of the defunct Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) who have allegedly resorted to gun-running and land-grabbing.
During the raid, they yielded three shotguns; two.22-caliber rifles; one M-16 rifle; and an assortment of firearm magazines and bullets.
Nana said the group has come to be known as the “Bagni Group,” which has allegedly been hired by some influential individuals in the region to do “dirty work.”
He said that when the raiding team swooped down on the bailiwick of the group, police also received 26 firearms surrendered by the community.


33 hurt in Barlig, Mt Province bus accident

BARLIG, Mountain Province – Thirty three persons were injured when the mini bus they were riding in met an accident here around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday here at Sitio Mauwuy, Barangay Chupac.
A police report said the vehicle with plate no. AYS 409 was driven by John Matib Gamonnac, 39, of adjacent Poblacion, Natonin.
Police, disaster personnel and residents responded to the accident, the report said although it didn’t specify how it happened.
Injured were Vincent Wasen, 45; Florenda Manayos, 39;
 Julia Colalading , 60; William Fecson, 58; Lilian Ayeona, 62:   Felipe Basing-at, 81;  Lourdes Fasongit, 34: Batagan Palangdao, 39; Lily Cabruyon, 42; Annie Grail Baggay, 43; Freda Tifang, 32;  Joel M. Widwigan, 34: Jones Kadatar, 24; Margie Amoggao, 39; Valynne Salang-ey, 22; Myla Dawing, 33 and
Rommel Manaat, 27.
Also injured were Sarah Bonella, 22; afael Maggay, 58; Erbong Faswingit, 26; Glenn Faswingit, 22; Basawil Sanguten, 23; Dylan Alingkayon, 33; Leverson Malinias, 36; Jomar Balingclao, 27; Jake Pachingel, 33;  Miguela Catalino, 60;  Fred Mark Lubfenan, 21; Jay- ar Tagawa, 21 and Jonas Gomisa, 22;
Others were   Elvis Nepagtic, 33; Gregorio Ganggangan and
Luna Egan.
The driver was brought to the Barlig Municipal Police Station after medical examination for safe keeping while eight of the 33 injured passengers were transferred to Bontoc General Hospital for further medical treatment.
The vehicle was towed by a backhoe and parked at the adjacent place of incident.


Lawyer hurt in Laoag gun attack

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – Motorcycle riding gunmen who shot and injured a lawyer here Sept. 29 have yet to be identified by police.
Jason Perera, 36, was rushed to the Gov. Roque Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds in the back.
Perera had just stepped out of his office in Barangay 6 when he was shot at around 6:45 p.m.
The victim does not have a criminal record and is not linked to illegal drugs, according to Chief Supt. Dominic Guerrero, city police director.
Probers recovered two bullet shells for a Cal.45 pistol from the crime scene. 
Police have yet to determine the motive for the attack. – Raymund Catindig


Ex-Ecija mayor gets 16 years for malversation

LAUR, Nueva Ecija -- A former mayor of this town has been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for failing to liquidate P3.51 million in cash advances in 2006.
Blas Canlas was found guilty of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, the Sandiganbayan said in a decision promulgated on Sept. 14 and released yesterday.
Canlas was meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office. He was also ordered to pay the amount that he malversed to the municipal government.
The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution panel of the Office of the Ombudsman established that Canlas refused to liquidate the cash advances despite repeated demands from the municipal government and the Commission on Audit. 
Graft probers said Canlas received 13 checks, which came from the development fund of the Laur municipal government.
The Sandiganbayan gave weight to two demand letters that former mayor Alvaro Daus, who succeeded Canlas, sent in 2007 requesting for the liquidation of the cash advances.
The court said the propriety of the purposes of the cash advances is irrelevant as long as it was sufficiently proven that the accused received the amount and failed to account for them. 
“Direct evidence of personal misappropriation by the accused is hardly necessary as long as he cannot explain satifactorily the shortage in his accounts,” the  anti-graft court said.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with the concurrence of Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Reynaldo Cruz. 


Philex team recovers more bodies in Benguet landslide

ITOGON, Benguet --Two more bodies were recovered by a rescue team of Philex Mining Corp. from a mine shelter in Barangay Ucab in this town, which was hit by a landslide last Sept. 15.
The number of fatalities is now 62.
The Philex rescue team has been working long hours every day to ensure the speedy recovery of small-scale miners and their family members who were buried in the landslide.
“Our rescuers are first to arrive at ground zero at daybreak and last to leave before or at night,” Eduardo Aratas, Philex Padcal mine legal division head, said.
“They get to work even before the other rescue teams arrive,” Aratas added.
Philex had earlier constructed an access road from the Itogon provincial highway for easy and speedy movement of people and equipment involved in rescue efforts.
When asked how long the rescue operations will take, Aratas said the Philex team would continue “for as long as it takes.”
The Philex rescue team has a long history of volunteer search and rescue and search and recovery operations, including the earthquakes in Baguio in 1990 and Bohol in 2013 as well as Super Typhoon Yolanda.


4 ex-rebels get 1- hectare farm each after Du30 visit

CAMP MELCHOR DELA CRUZ, Gamu, Isabela -- Four former rebels, who were presented to President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to the province last Sept.18, received their Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) three days after, the Public Affairs Office of the Philippine Army's 5th Infantry Division (5ID) said.
The four former rebels, who were from Isabela province, were only known as “Ka Mar,” “Ka Edgar,” “Ka Marco,” and “Ka Jane.”
They got one hectare of farmland each.
They have also been enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a government assistance given to former rebel fighters who surrender, lay down their arms, and return to the folds of the law.
Dept. of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones led the distribution of the CLOA to the former rebels in simple rites here. Castriciones said the awarding of the land was part of the President's promise to the former rebels, when they were presented to him last week.
 The government is now perfecting the land titles and doing the land survey, the 5ID said.
But while waiting, the four will undergo series of training and seminars to equip them with skills on the new farming techniques.
They will also be given orientations and lectures to further make them aware of their rights and obligations under Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
They will also be informed on other benefits they will receive as former rebels.
“It is true that if the different government agencies will converge, we will find a way to address the concerns and the plight of our constituents. We will win the war against the Communist-NPA-Terrorist by means of peaceful approach, such as this,” Castriciones said during the land distribution rites.
Brigadier Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Commander of the 502nd Infantry Brigade, assisted Castriciones in the distribution of the land awards, on behalf of 5ID chief Major Gen. Perfecto Rimando Jr.
The 5ID, officially called the Star Division, is the Philippine Army's primary Infantry unit in Northern Luzon and specializes in anti-guerrilla warfare.
Bacarro said aside from the land awards, the E-CLIP assures livelihood for the former rebels to uplift their living conditions.
“We enjoin the remaining CPP-NPA members, who are still hiding in the countryside to return to the folds of the law," he said. "This is your chance to regain your lives ruined by false ideology. Our government is sincere to help you, and this awarding of Certificate of Land Ownership Award is a manifestation of this genuine concern.” -- PNA


City council okays amnesty for power, water connections

BAGUIO CITY – The city council approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance extending the amnesty to applicants for electric and water connections in the city for another six months.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Faustino A. Olowan stated the need to further extend for another six months the earlier 6-month amnesty approved by the local government for electric and water connection applicants in the city’s 128 barangays.
Ordinance No. 62, series of 2016 granted amnesty to applicants for electric and water connections in the city for a period of six months and that the period has lapsed.
The ordinance added the limited period of time, the additional requirements of the concerned offices and the financial constraint of the applicants have triggered the clamor to again seek for the extension of the amnesty earlier granted by the local government to the increasing number of electric and water connection applications from the residents in the city’s 128 barangays.
The proposed 6-month extension of the amnesty for electric and water connection applications in the city shall commence after the approval of the ordinance.
One of the major requirements being requested by the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) from applicants for electric and water connections in the city include the building and occupancy permits of owners of newly constructed structures but most of the time, concerned residents are not able to produce the said documents as their structures may have been erected on public lands or in properties they do not actually own.
The ordinance seeks to waive the aforesaid requirements in the electric and water connections of applicants so those interested individuals can legitimize their public utility connections with the relevant public utility companies.
However, the ordinance added that the waiving of the aforesaid requirements in the grant of their electric and water applications could not be used by the applicant as an excuse for the non-demolition of their structures when issued the appropriate notice of demolition for having encroached on public and private properties.
The local government recognized the fact that electric and water connections for residents are basic necessities, thus, it is waiving the required building and occupancy permits of structures when owners apply for electric and water connections during the amnesty period that may be granted but it should not be used by the concerned individuals to stop the demolition of illegal structures erected in public and private properties once the necessary demolition orders have been legally issued relative thereto.
Once demolition orders will be issued by the local government, the electric and water connections of the concerned residents will be eventually removed by the concerned public utility companies. -- Dexter A. See


Free viewing of movies by senior citizens, sought

By Gaby Keith

BAGUIO CITY - Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he will ask the city social welfare and development office under Betty Fangasan to coordinate with SM City Baguio management for the latter to allow local senior citizens to watch blockbuster movies for free.
Domogan said he received reports that the Summer Capital’s largest mall where the city’s only four remaining cinemas are located, allegedly only allows senior citizens to watch regular movies for free and not those that are popular hits or certified blockbusters.
For the past several years, SM cinemas have been allowing local elders to watch movies free of charge every Tuesday during the first full showing as long as they present a valid Baguio senior citizen ID card from the CSWDO. 
The free movie showing is in pursuant to a city council measure as an added benefit to the city’s individuals who have reached the age of 60 years old.  Senior citizens are also given discounts on food, medicines, transportation and others as part of their privilege.
The Mayor said he is thankful to SM City Baguio saying the company should be commended for the free movie showing that many of the city’s senior citizens have been enjoying.
Domogan said maybe  SM City Baguio can also include blockbusters to the movies that senior citizens can watch for free to add further to their enjoyment in their twilight years.
However, the CSWDO’s Coralie  Dulnuan said the mall does allow senior citizens to watch blockbuster movies for free but only on later days or weeks when the crowds trooping to watch the  hit movies are not that large anymore.
This was confirmed by SM City Baguio’s assistant operations manager Denise Peralta who said they allow senior citizens with valid IDs to watch blockbuster movies for free but usually on the second week of showing.


Benguet Corp. urged: Help find site for displaced locals

By Pamela Mariz Geminiano

ITOGON, Benguet -- The town government of Itogon in this highland province has asked mining firm Benguet Corp. to help find a relocation site for the displaced residents of Barangay Ucab, where more than a hundred people were believed to have been buried in a landslide at the height of Typhoon "Ompong." 
The affected residents are now staying at Alejo M. Pacalso Memorial National High School as a temporary evacuation site. Town officials said the school must be vacated by Monday next week when classes resume.
In a press briefing last week, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said a total of 418 evacuees were still at the school.
He said the evacuees were asked to relocate to allow school authorities to prepare the facility.
Palangdan said the local government is asking BCfor a dialogue, so that they can help each other settle the problem.
 "Our focus now is the safety and the welfare of our constituents. Let us set aside our issues. I am appealing to the Benguet Corporation to have a dialogue and discuss the possible relocation areas," he said.
BC owns about 70 percent of land mines in Itogon town, straddling seven barangays, including the mining site in Barangay Ubac.
"The problem now is 18 evacuees have already confirmed that they will be returning to Ifugao. Now the remaining 400, we do not know where to put them," Palangdan said.
The mayor said makeshift shelters can be donated for the evacuees' relocation, but the problem lies on where these can be put up.
He said many of the evacuees want to return to their houses in Ucab near the landslide area, which, however, is still off-limits and subject to inspection by the environment department's Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
 Palangdan said there are no areas safe enough for a relocation site.
But with BC owning a large portion of the town, he said the mining firm can help identify possible areas, where tent-houses can be temporarily erected for the evacuees.
He said the town government is now also coordinating with government agencies like the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board and the National Housing Authority for possible available areas for the temporary relocation of evacuees.
He said evacuees from previous calamities in the town have yet to be relocated, as the areas where they had been transferred were declared unsafe by authorities. -- PNA 


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