Sagada urges NPA, gov’t to respect ‘peace zone’

>> Saturday, June 16, 2018

By Gina Dizon 

SAGADA, Mountain Province – Officials and residents urged warring forces of government and communist rebels to respect this tourist town as a “peace zone,” following the June 5 clash here of the two groups wherein a cop was killed while nine others were wounded.  
This, as Chief Supt. Rolando Nana, regional police director gave medals of bravery to nine injured policemen and to one killed in action during the encounter between elements of the Regional and Provincial Public Safety Team against  elements  of the New People’s Army at the boundaries of Sagada and Besao at Mt. Masini.  
Given medals for bravery were wounded Supt Joseph B. Cayat, PO3 Wilfred Manacnis, POI Aldrin C. Bocalan, POI Clarence D. Abuan, POI Antolin D. Potpoten, POI Xander M. Depnag, POI Jake B. Paat, POI Yasser L. Guzman, PO2 Regie Palome and a posthumous  bravery medal  to PO2 Henry Dion who died during the June 5 encounter.  
In Sagada, Aguid Councilor Joseph Patil-ao said civilians are the ones who suffer due to the war between government and elements of the New People’s Army. In a press conference here called by the municipal local government.
Peace advocate and Sagada indigenous peoples mandatory representative Jaime Dugao and Sagada municipal mayor James Pooten Jr. appealed to warring forces of the Communist Party of the Philippine- NPA- National Democratic Front and the AFP-Government of the Republic of the Philippines go back to the negotiatsing table and talk peace.
President Rodrigo Duterte had called for resumption of peace talks between the two warring forces.
Aquid, in the northern part of Sagada and Besao municipality, has witnessed bloody encounters leading to the death of AFP, NPA and PNP elements through the years within the territories of the barangay and boundaries.  
PO2 Henry Dion was killed while nine others were wounded in Aguid June 5 in a clash between elements of Regional Public Safety Battalion and Provincial Public Safety Company of the Philippine National Police and Leonardo Pacsi Command.
The Masini trail, site of the encounter, leads to Tubo, Abra; Gueday Besao and leads to  the boundaries of Buasao watershed where the controversial Buasao domestic and irrigation waters are located. 
The trail is a common way where cattle raisers, farmers, guides, tourists walk including elements of the AFP, NPA and PNP who pass during anti-insurgency and peace keeping operations.
It is a site that falls within the peace zone and tourist town of Sagada and adjacent Besao.
This, as Presidential Assistant for Peace Process (OPPAP) peace consultant for Cordillera and former Sagada Mayor Tom Killip said urged the media to be more accurate in reporting such incidents saying the June 5 encounter was reported as having happened in Mt. Sisipitan, Aguid.
In said press conference, Patil-ao said the site happened at sitio Amdakoog within Masini ridge within the boundaries of Aguid, Sagada and Gueday Besao.  Sisipitan as reported earlier is an adjacent mountain near Masini towards the direction of Aguid.
Sagada was unilaterally declared as a demilitarized zone in 1989 by the town folks following the death of three children from the community, one caught in the crossfire between the NPA rebels and AFP within Poblacion and two shot by drunken government soldiers within the market compound of Sagada in late 1988.
A letter on Nov. 8, 1988 from the people of Sagada led by the people’s town officials, church authorities, and town’s folks was sent to both the AFP and the NPA calling for immediate ceasefire and demilitarization meaning, pull out of all armed groups to include no operations, no detachments, no patrols, no harassments on civilian population, and no carrying of firearms inside the territory of Sagada.
Barely three days after the letter was sent to the AFP and NPA, 12 year old Ben Tumapang Jr. was shot on Nov. 11, 1988, the bullet not established where it came from whether from a machine gun of a government soldier or an NPA when both armed groups had a clash near Sagada Central School in the town’s central area.
          A resolution from the people was further forwarded in Feb. 10, 1989 calling for Sagada to be a designated area for peaceful negotiations and venue for  medical treatment and safe conduct for all wounded.
          Sagada as a peace zone was eventually recognized in 1993 by Senate in a resolution forwarded by Sen. Rodolfo Biazon which identified Sagada as a special development area along with six other SDAs in the country, and each area allotted a P5 million development fund allotted for waterworks.
The demilitarization of the place tells that any member of the AFP or NPA can enter the community as long as he/she is not armed.  Stories take note of basketball having been played between elements of NPA and the AFP in earlier years following the declaration of Sagada as a demilitarized zone.
Incidents however proved the occurrence of bloody fights between the two warring forces as years unfolded.  
Violations have been noted including the 1991 bombing by the AFP on Mount Sisipitan in the northern Barangay of Aguid, the 2006 ambush of NPA rebels on AFP soldiers in Pegew, Antadao, and the AFP presence in Lake Danum, Mount Ampakaw and Sitio Lasig in the recent months of 2013; the November 30, 2014 ambush  and death of two PNP elements  in Pegew, Antadao following an educational session with  high school students of Sagada; and the recent June 5, 2018 encounter  in the boundaries of  Sagada and Besao.
The peace zone of 1989 was reiterated in a resolution of northern barangay officials following the August 30, 2013, bombing of AFP within the watershed environs of northern barangay of Aguid in their attempts to capture NPA rebels.
Peace Zone
The peace zone is a security blanket for the people of Sagada to be conscious in preventing armed combatants from entering the town, conducting armed encounters and disrupting social and economic activities of town folks. 
Peace advocate Tom Killip says that the Sagada peace zone though should be asserted.
And for repeated assertions, Sagada kept telling both warring forces to keep out from Sagada. 
The Sagada Sangguniang Bayan, in a 2013 resolution asked the AFP the military pull out from Lake Danum wants to ensure the safety of hundreds of high-school students who participated in the recent Provincial Jamboree December 12 to 15, 2013.
The Sangguniang Bayan too in their recent resolution condemned the June 5, 2018 incident.
Patil-ao during the press conference identified resolutions northern barangays had gone through the years not to let and entertain any armed element in their northern territory.
Fidelisan villagers in February 2008 forwarded their resolution letting concerned authorities know that they didn’t want NPAs or government military soldiers stopping by their homes to rest or eat. They called on 5th ID commanding General Rommel Gomez for the immediate pullout of the military.
Villagers of the northern barangays of Fidelisan, Pide, Aguid, Bangaan, and Madongo also forwarded a petition calling for the demilitarization of their communities in 2010. Experience of the people tell of their hesitance tending to their farms on the presence of both armed groups for fear of being caught in cross fires or get harassed.
The northern folks of Aguid through their barangay officials passed an ordinance banning the presence and activities of NPA and other lawless armed elements in the barangay. Said ordinance enacted in June 7, 2015 called for the protection, security and peaceful living and working environment of the residents of Aguid, and not to provide food or feed or shelter or participate in the activities advocated or supported by the NPAs and other lawless elements. 
              Aguid barangay captain Domingo Kelly is emphatic in saying, “haan kuma nga agi idyan dagiti soldado iti ayan ti ili karkaru iti ayan ti danum”.  (Armed men should not stay inside the community especially near water sources).
During said press conference, Patil-ao said NPA elements were earlier spotted in a water spring a week before the June 5 encounter so community folks told them to move out. 
The peace zone is frowned upon and ignored by both armed groups from the government armed forces military and the NPAs.
No less than former President and General Fidel Ramos then the Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) considers a peace zone prevents hot pursuit of rebel forces and upholds their belligerency. 
The pronouncement of Major Gen. Catapang, then Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) chief said that that there never was a peace zone in Sagada.
Current PNP Provincial Director Allen Ocden in a recent press conference questions the parameters of a peace zone.
This, as a question was asked during the press conference why the PNP were in the subject  area.  
             A statement from the Leonardo Pacsi Command of the NPA said “the June 5 ambush is a message to all police personnel in combat and intelligence units and operations and all AFP combat units entering our areas”.
Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana, Police Regional Office Cordillera director sees the peace zone in a friendly way. In his message to the Regional Peace and Order Council, he said ways should be done to maintain and strengthen Sagada as a peace zone.
The northern barangays have been a recipient of OPAPP’s peace fund through its PAMANA  program with P15 million having been infused in this part of the town for farm to market roads in 2015.
Killip noted the need for further government support to improve road networks in the northern part of town.
War is a social and economic disruption. As noted during the June 5 incident, recovering  the wounded and dead casualties takes off work from people. For a number of times when war incidents happened in the northern part of the town place, social and economic disruption happened to help out in recovery operations.
And for June 5 when the people of northern Sagada had to observe their ‘ubaya’ (cultural rest day) where people shall not work in the fields and for guides not to bring tourists to Bomod-ok Falls and in mountains, the day instead have to be devoted to responding on the results of the incident.  
Northern folks were aided by Sagada institutions including barangay and municipal units, PNP, Rural Health Unit, Municipal disaster and risk reduction management council, guide organizations including Bangaan Fidelisan Tanulong Aguid Madongo Pide Guides Association (BFTAMPGA) Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA), Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS), and Sagada Ethnic Guides Organization (SETGO) in the recovery operations.
Even neighboring folks and offices from Besao has been ready responders in the June 5 incident. Health officer Geraldine Alangui from Sagada RHU noted folks from Besao also helped in the recovery operations and where the nine wounded police were immediately sent to St Theodore’s Hospital (STH) for treatment and referred to Luis Hora Memorial Hospital in Bauko.
As noted, folks and institutions from neighboring municipalities cannot ignore war incidents that happen in towns near them. 
In a separate interview, Killip looks forward to other municipalities of the Province to do similar moves of declaring their respective towns as peace zones.  
It shall be recalled that former governor Leonard Mayaen called for Mountain Province to be declared a peace zone. This however was met with opposing responses from municipalities that were consulted.
Peace as seen by the CPP-NPA-NDF on the other hand is “not simply the absence of war. Genuine peace can only be realized when the people attain social justice.”


La Trinidad execs push closure order vs chicken dung traders

By Primo Agatep

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The municipal council here has unanimously passed a resolution supporting the mayor's closure order against fertilizer establishments illegally operating in this capital town.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda issued closure orders last May 28 against two local businessmen, Nora Lagadeo and Franklin Yubos, traders of chicken dung as fertilizer.
The two businessmen did not have business permits from La Trinidad, using the boundary dispute between La Trinidad and neighboring town Tublay.
 “The issuance of a closure order to that identified area is very appropriate, the fact that the area is situated in the municipality of La Trinidad. The area has not been a subject of a boundary dispute between adjacent municipalities,” stated Resolution No.120-2018.
“Allegedly, some chicken dung dealers are using boundary dispute to advance such vested interest, doing chicken dung trading within the territorial jurisdiction of La Trinidad. Such claim does not exist in actual and in form,” the resolution further stated.
Salda ’s orders were based on the report by the Business Permits and Licensing Section of La Trinidad that Lagadeo and Yubos were operating without the necessary business permits.
Salda’s order was also anchored on a court’s decision declaring the trading and storage of chicken dung within the municipality as a public nuisance per se, which was affirmed by Court of Appeals.
The order was also supported by Administrative Order No 008 Series 2010, which expressly prohibits the sale, disposal, and storage of chicken dung in the municipality. The administrative order has not been repealed nor modified.
Myrna Bagano, head of the Business Permits and Licensing Section, also reported that her office has acted and dispatched the order of the mayor, stopping the business operations of Lagadeo and Yubos.
 The closure was implemented Tuesday. -- PNA


PNP-SAF cop hunted for shooting 4 men, killing 2

By Mar T. Supnad

CAMP PRES QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur- Police are now hunting an active member of Special Action Force-Philippine National Police detailed in Maguindanao who shot dead a group of civilians who allegedly tried to disarm him, killing two persons and wounding two others before dawn June 9 in Barangay Naglaoa-an, Sto Domingo town.
Based on the police report sent to this writer, PO2 Jun Christopher Briones, active SAF -PNP member detailed in Mamasapano but on vacation here, also a native of Naglaoa-an, escaped right after shooting the four victims identified as Florante T. Tabuso, 36; Palmie T. Susa, 36: Joshua U. Rubang, 10, all residents of said place and Liezel A. Agcamaran, 33, of Barangay Sived.
Police said victims Florante Tabuso, died on the spot while Agcamaran died in the hospital.
Victim Joshua Rubang was rushed to Northside Doctors Hospital, Bantay, for medical treatment,
Palmie Susa was rushed to Metro Vigan Coop Hospital, Bantay, also for medical treatment while Tabuso died in the medical facility.
Newsmen learned the policeman took a vacation here to celebrate his birthday. After his celebration, he reportedly transferred to a nearby house where the victims were also attending a separate party to make peace branch brought about by their old grudge.
But at this juncture, one of the victims embraced and allegedly grabbed the police’s gun that went off, hitting an unidentified brother of the cop.
The cop tried to run away but the group tried to subdue him prompting him to shoot back at them.
The suspect fled after the incident
Other PNP stations were alerted to arrest Briones who remains at large


PNP identifies killer of Fr Nilo in Nueva Ecija; CBCP, Baguilat hit slay

POLICE have already identified a suspect in the killing of a Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija province last week while four others have already been the subject of an investigation.
Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, regional director of Central Luzon Police Regional Office said the Special Investigation Task Group Nilo are already on the process of confirming the identity of the identified suspect tagged in the killing of Father Richmond Nilo, the parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Mayamot, Zaragoza, Nueva, Ecija.
Corpus bared this in a press briefing at Camp Crame even as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines demanded that police capture the “bloody murderers” responsible for the “brutal death” of Fr. Nilo, who they say was gunned down inside a chapel just prior to Mass Sunday.
The CBCP said  Nilo, was shot dead around 5 p.m. June 9 by mystery gunmen who reportedly fled the scene in a car after opening fire through a glass window and striking him four times.
Nilo, they said, was the third Catholic priest shot to death in the Philippines in the past six months.
“We strongly condemn this outrageously evil act!” Romulo G. Valles, the Archbishop of Davao, said Monday in a statement. “We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice. O Merciful Lord! Have pity on us!”
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat also condemned the brutal murder of Fr. Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan and called on the Duterte administration to swiftly bring the killers to justice.
This, as Corpus said police are hot on the trail of the five suspects who were seen in the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footages retrieved from the nearby barangays and towns.
“We are now looking into five suspects based on the CCTV footages na nakuha po since… up to the next towns na pwedeng pagkuhanan ng CCTV (We are now looking into five suspects based on the CCTV footages that we obtained [from Barangay Mayamot, Zaragoza] up to the next towns where we can get CCTV [footages]),” he shared.
“We have initially identified one personality and the SITG in Nueva Ecija is now working on this, confirming the identity of this personality which is you know nakita sa CCTV (seen on the CCTV),” he added.
However, Corpus refused to give specific details on the identified suspect so as not to jeopardize the on-going investigation by the SITG Nilo. However, he dropped a hint that the suspect was among the three “lookouts” who rode the get-away vehicle parked about two to three kilometers from the chapel.
Meanwhile, the two other suspects, who are considered as the gunmen, were onboard a motorcycle.
“In the backtrack and review of the CCTV footages, it appeared that the two groups have changed vehicles after the crime. The two gunmen used the get-away vehicle while the three lookouts boarded the motorcycle,” he said.
At least three possible motives behind Father Nilo’s killing are being considered by the SITG Nilo, including the priest’s active participation in land dispute issues in Nueva Ecija, his role in supporting rape victims and filing charges against the suspects, and his staunch “criticism” of other religious sect’s wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde expressed optimism that the case will be resolved immediately and the suspects will be put behind bars.
He also said the PNP is willing to provide security to members of the religious sector if they think there’s a threat on their lives.
“If they think their life is under threat, we will provide them with security. Magrequest sila sa atin (just request it to us) and if we really think na meron talagang threat sa kanilang buhay (that there’s really a threat on their lives), we will afford that privilege to anybody,” Albayalde said.
President Duterte earlier gave an order to Albayalde to immediately resolve Father Nilo’s killings and the other cases in the past few months.
Nilo is the fourth Catholic priest to be shot and the third to be killed by unidentified suspects since December 2017.
On December 4, 2017, Father Marcelito Paez was killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija while on April 29, Father Mark Ventura was shot dead after officiating a mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
Prior to Nilo’s case, Father Rey Urmeneta, former director of the PNP Chaplain Services and now parish priest of Sant Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba, Laguna, was also shot by unidentified suspects. He luckily survived the attack with gunshot wounds at the left arm and back.
Meanwhile, Corpus denied that there was a pattern in the killing of priests, especially on the cases of Father Nilo and Father Paez in Nueva Ecija.
“These are separate cases. Just to inform you that the SITG Paez is working on the case and the provincial director told me he has invited two personalities who were with Father [Paez] an hour or two hours before he was killed in the municipality of Jaen,” Corpus said.
Meanwhile, Baguilat said,  “Just like the killings of the poor in the ongoing drug war, killings of journalists and indigenous peoples leaders, no one has been brought to justice.”
“This tyranny and impunity have led the President to warn that lawlessness is taking over the country and yet he has also repeatedly declared his vow to bring peace and order to the Philippines. I sincerely hope that he will make good on his words and bring justice to victims like Fr. Nilo,” he added.
Baguilat said without justice, extrajudicial killings and assassinations become more pervasive and seen as the norm, thus further emboldening people to either take the law into their own hands or defy it, thus spilling even more blood into the Philippines’ streets.
Baguilat knew Fr. Nilo’s work personally as the 44-year-old priest was one of the staunchest supporters of the leadership and good governance programs of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership. – With a report by Alexa Fontanilla


Bontoc water shortage solved; far source found

By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The distribution of sufficient and safe potable supply of water will soon be enjoyed by the four central barangays of this capital town following tapping of a distant source of the basic commodity.
This, with the ongoing project on the installation of potable water system in Gakhan Creek/ spring in Barangay Talubin going directly to the water reservoir in Pagturao, Poblacion and to be distributed to the households, commercial buildings and institutions in Barangays Bontoc Ili, Poblacion, Caluttit and Samoki.
The Gakhan Creek water source can be reached by four to five hours trek from the road going up the mountain.
At present, the Bontoc Municipal Government through the Water Works Unit relies mainly on two springs as its main water source to supply the domestic and commercial needs of the four central barangays.  These are the Balabag Water Source located along Bontoc- Talubin Road and Sullong Water Source in Barangay Bontoc Ili. However, the total production of these sources is still insufficient to meet the present water demand of the consumers even in a schedule basis.
Thus, with the additional water source coming from the top mountain of Barangay Talubin, officials in this municipality expressed high hopes that water shortage will no longer be a problem.
According to Engineer III Caesar M. Kalang-ad of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, the funding of the project was sourced out from various government agencies.  The first phase of the project was the P10 million downloaded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to the Bontoc Municipal Government which was implemented and completed last year.
Considering the terrain and distance of the water source to be connected to an existing pipe in Sitio Gasagas, Talubin, additional fund support is needed. With this, the municipal government was able to work out for a P7-million funding from the Department of Interior and Local Government under its Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat (SALINTUBIG) Program. 
To make the project will come into fruition, Bontoc Mayor Franklin C. Odsey together with the members of the Sangguniang Bayan lobbied for an additional funding from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and the DILG.  In response, the municipal government was provided with a P10-million budget from the OPAPP while P3-million was given by the DILG.
Accordingly, this project entails a high project cost and longer time of implementation because of the location of the water source. With the length of the pipes, these have to be cut into three pieces and to be connected again when it reached the destination. Workers have to carry six inches in diameter width of pipes passing through the rugged terrain going up the mountain.
Mayor Odsey who trekked for more than eight hours going up the mountain and then going back to the road to personally see the implementation of the project said  once completed, the municipality will be able to meet the demand supply of water in the households, commercial buildings and institutions.


DOLE warns employers: Observe holiday pay rules

By Patrick Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY -- The Dept. of labor and Employment reminded employers to observe proper payment of wages of workers and employees who reported for work on June 12, Independence Day and Eid'l Fitr on June 15, both regular holidays.
DOLE-Cordillera OIC regional director Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman said this was  pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 269 and 514 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on July 17, 2017 and Labor Advisory No. 09, issued on June 6, by Acting Labor Secretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III which prescribes pay rules for the Independence Day and Eid’l Fitr holidays.
“Employers are bound by the following computation of wages. If the employee did not work, he or she shall be paid 100 percent of his or her salary for that day ([Daily Rate + COLA] x 100 percent); however, if the employee worked on the said holiday, he or she shall be paid 200 percent of his or her regular salary for that day for the first eight (8) hours ([Daily Rate + COLA] x 200 percent).” Guzman added.
He also said, if the employee worked in excess of 8 hours (overtime work), he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day (hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked).
In addition, If the employee worked during a regular holiday that also falls on his or her rest day, he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her daily rate of 200 percent [(daily rate + COLA) x 200 percent] + [30 percent (daily rate x 200 percent)].
If  the employee worked in excess of eight hours (overtime work) during a regular holiday that also falls on his or her rest day, he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day (hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200 percent x 130 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked).


Benguet officials to CPLA: Stop recruitment in towns

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet-- The Benguet Provincial Peace and Order Council urged alleged members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army-Cordillera Bodong Administration to stop their recruitment and other activities in the province.
 During a recent meeting, the PPOC unanimously approved a resolution opposing the recruitment in the province by a group claiming to be CPLA-CBA members and officials.
 This was made following the subsequent reports of barangay officials and other community leaders that an alleged group claiming to be members of the CPLA and CBA have been engaging and recruiting in their communities to become members and eventually be integrated in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Gov. Crescensio Pacalso said there were reports that aside from recruiting, other alleged members of the CPLA-CBA are using the campaign on federalism as part of the engagement   to advance their own personal interest.  
 The PPOC urged vigilance among the people of Benguet not to be persuaded and be recruited by the deceitful individuals and groups .
They are also called on the public to report such activities being conducted in their localities to the PPOC or to the law enforcement agencies.
The governor said that the same resolution was also passed earlier this year by the Kalinga PPOC led by Gov. Jocel Baac after it was reported to the PPOC that there were individuals and groups claiming to be CPLA officers and members who had been allegedly illegally recruiting residents in the different barangays of the province to join their organization in exchange for a certain amount of money from their recruits with purported promises that enticed some individuals to join.
The group has allegedly been going to the different municipalities of Kalinga convincing people to join their force, promising that they will be enlisted in the Army or become members of a regional security force once the Cordillera becomes a federal state.
In March this year, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has refuted claims of recruitment to the AFP by alleged individual and groups or factions of the CPLA.
He also denied having authorized any individual or group in the Cordillera region to conduct recruitment activities and promising to their recruits financial assistance, employment and integration with law enforcement agencies as well as being part of a regional security force.
 The Benguet PPOC is keen on inviting OPAPP representatives in their next meetings to discuss the issues of the CPLA-CBA in the province.


Fish kill bangus traders charged; supply enough

By Eva Visperas

DAGUPAN CITY  — Criminal charges have been filed against six traders and their drivers for trying to sell in this city bangus affected by fish kill in Anda and Bolinao towns.
Isagani Rarang and his wife Nancy, Richie Cano and Perfecto Cacho, Artemio Carolino Jr. and Andy Credo, all residents of Anda, and Lorence Espinocilla of Alaminos were charged with violation of the Food Safety Act, Sanitation Code, Consumer Act and Fisheries Code.
“The non-presentation of auxiliary invoice, transport and sale of double dead fish... are unlawful and malicious,” read the complaint filed by city agriculturist Emma Molina and health officer Ophelia Rivera on Wednesday.
Tests showed that the seized fish were not fit for human consumption.
More than P100 million worth of bangus stocks were affected by fish kill in Anda and Bolinao last week, which was blamed on the intense heat and intermittent rains.
This, as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Ilocos region assured there is  an ample supply of milkfish (bangus) for the region and other regions, despite the recent fishkill in the towns of Anda and Bolinao.
BFAR Regional Director Nestor Domenden, in an interview during a fisheries forum here on Wednesday, revealed that less than 1 percent of the region’s total production for the year was lost due to the fishkill.
Domenden said the region is self-sufficient in bangus production, and can continue supplying the needs of other areas, including Metro Manila, as the region is 127-percent sufficiency.
“While it’s true that 964 tons of losses are not a joke, it is only 20 percent of production of the 123 structures in said areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, BFAR officials are planning to speak with Mayor Aldrin Cerdan of Anda and Mayor Arnold Celeste of Bolinao early next week regarding the fishpen moratorium.
“The BFAR has no police powers, so the local government unit has to take the reins in the enforcement,” said Domenden.
The moratorium includes a plan or relocation or spotting for an alternative mariculture area, ideally within the Lingayen Gulf.
BFAR also suggested the use of rope frame cases as a way of modifying the fish cages.
“A more permanent solution would be removing the structures blocking the flow of water, so that waste materials would not settle underneath,” Domenden said.
As of 2016, BFAR has detected three meters of muck (waste materials) under the waters of Caquiputan Channel.


Phl,Chinese execs start P4.3B Kalinga pump irrigation proj

By Peter A. Balocnit 

PINUKPUK, Kalinga -- Philippine and Chinese officials  led the groundbreaking  of the P10 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project at Pinococ this town recently. 
 The historic groundbreaking started with the laying of the capsule by Jin Yuan, Economic and Commercial Councellor of the Embassy of the Republic of China in the Philippines; Gen. Ricardo Visaya, National Irrigation Administration Administrator, Kalinga Gov. Jocel Baac and Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, Gov. Manuel Mamba of Cagayan, NIA officials and barangay officials  of host communities.
 Yuan said the project was the first and biggest soft loan package offered by China to the Philippines and a product of deep friendship and economic cooperation. This   was signed during President Duterte’s attendance to the Boao forum for Asia on April 10, and  part of the total P10 Billion in investment forged by the two countries.
This P4.3 billion project was awarded last March this year to China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. for a three -year contract.
Major components of the project are construction of pump house; installation of six units electric motor-driven pumps; installation of 30 kilometers transmission line and a sub-station; construction of 1.9 km. diversion canal tunnel, 4.4 km. diversion canal, 33.5 km. main canal and 100 km. lateral canals, irrigation and drainage structures; construction of 8-km access road to the pump site and 84-km service roads; construction of project management office; and institutional development.
The project is targeted will irrigate 8,700 hectares, benefit 4,350 farmers and provide employment to 9,115 peple during project implementation and 8,700 during operation phase.
 Visaya asked farmer-beneficiaries and local officials of their full support to the project saying “we are thankful we have a President who hears, feels and respond to the Filipino’s aspiration for better life.”
 Mamba, who was part of the working team that made this project approved, described this as a ” dream come true.”
He  thanked the  President for his generosity and kind heart for realizing the project  after 10 years of waiting.
Mangaoang asked the  the people to  support to the project in order to inspire government to give more projects. 


Sto. Tomas tax declarations ordered cancelled; law cited

DENR warns erring town assessors 

By Dexter A. See

 BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources warned all municipal assessors in the region to cease and desist from issuing tax declarations covering lands within forest reservations such as Mt. Sto Tomas here because such act is in clear violation of Presidential Decree 705 or Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
DENR-CAR regional director Pablo said that there is already a precedent against the issuance of tax declarations by municipal assessors covering lands within forest reservations which is the Permanent Environment Protection Order (PEPO) covering the over 3,000-hectare Mount Sto. Tomas reservation that directed the municipal assessor to cancel all tax declarations that were previously issued to individuals living in the area that is why municipal assessors in other parts of the region must take the appropriate precautions by refraining from issuing said documents to avoid future criminal and administrative charges pursuant to the laws, rules and regulations.
 “We are receiving information of some municipal assessors issuing tax declarations to individuals covering certain portions of forest reservations in their areas of jurisdiction when such act is unlawful under our existing laws. We should not be blamed by the local assessors once charges will be filed against them because we already issued to them the appropriate advisory to be strictly followed but it seems there are still existing declarations covering critical watersheds in the different parts of the region,” Pablo said.
The DENR-CAR official said tax declarations are not proofs of ownership but are mere proofs of possession for taxation purposes but tax declarations cannot cover forest reservations because the law clearly provides that watershed areas are not alienable and disposable.
According to him, one of the reasons for the alleged proliferation of massive encroachments in forest reservations around the region is the numerous tax declarations issued by municipal assessors being used by individuals as their evidence to introduce improvements inside watersheds posing serious threats to the state of the environment.
He said there were several previous notices issued by the agency to the municipal assessors for them to initiate the immediate cancellation of the issued tax declarations covering forest reservations in their places but there seems to be least compliance to the directive.
Pablo said the agency will furnish assessors the latest circulars from their central office that mandate the cancellation of all tax declarations previously issued covering portions of forest reservations to prevent unscrupulous individuals from interpreting the same as their proof of ownership over their declared areas.
 He said aside from revoking the tax declarations covering watersheds, local officials should see to it that the damaged portions of the reservations should be reforested by those who destroyed them to guarantee the revitalization of the said places and help bring back the greenery of the forests.


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