Remote Abra town finally getting own police station

>> Thursday, October 30, 2008

ByDexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Tineg, the remotest town in the conflict-stricken province of Abra, will have its own police station to be built in Barangay Alaoa to serve the needs of thousands of residents who never had their own law enforcers for decades.

Chief Supt. Eugene Martin, Cordillera regional police director, said establishment of a permanent police station will further bring peace and development in the town.

The police station is now being built and would likely be inaugurated next month by Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa himself, Martin said.

Currently, a makeshift police station is being operated in Barangay Caganayan that greatly helped in the dismantling of private armed groups employed by warring politicians who have wrecked havoc in the remote town in the past.

Martin said police visibility and the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have encouraged community involvement in the peacekeeping efforts of the government.

Barangay Alaoa is considered the most accessible area for Tineg residents, whom police claimed have long suffered from violence due to the negligence of political leaders.

According to Martin, the Cordillera regional police office is leading the way in bringing back the authority of the government in Tineg even to the grassroots level.

He said the new police station would encourage other municipalities, particularly conflict-stricken areas, to follow Tineg’s lead.

Both the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government challenged Abra mayors and their subordinates to hold office in their respective towns and not in the safety and comfort of their so-called embassies in the capital town of Bangued.

Martin said the regional police office, the Abra provincial police office and Task Force Abra have been conducting a series of medical and dental missions in Tineg in the past few months to gain the trust and confidence of the people after years of political violence.

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Illegal drug mafia ‘dead’ with arrest of members

By Emely Cayandag-Fama

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet – An illegal drug group operating in Baguio, La Trinidad and Buguias towns in Benguet is now considered deactivated with the recent arrest of many of the gang including two principal members and its Muslim supplier from Quiapo, Manila.

Shirley Wadingan y Bas-ilan, 27, married, college undergraduate of Buguias, Benguet and resident of Quirino Hill, Baguio City, was nabbed with six sachets of shabu in a buy-bust operation last Nov. 21 around 10 p.m. at Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet.

The contraband, approximately weighing 0.30 grams, was valued at P1,800 while other pieces of evidence seized from Wadingan were drug paraphernalia and a Nokia 1200 mobile phone.
The operation was accomplished by regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel and La Trinidad cops.

Meanwhile, Rimando Cadap y Billayan, 32, married, elementary graduate of Lagawe, Ifugao and resident of Pico, La Trinidad, fell to an entrapment operation at Pico, La Trinidad last Nov. 22 PDEA and police operatives.

Cadap was caught red-handed with near 1.10 grams of shabu worth P6,600 that were placed in three sachets.

The Nokia 1208 cell phone and Isuzu elf truck bearing plate number RCZ 172, which he used in the ‘entrapment’ deal, were also confiscated.

Wadingan and Cadap, who were both in the Cordillera Region’s drug watch list, are identified members of a local drug group in the area named as the Bambi Group.

Thirteen hours after Cadap’s entrapment, one of the Bambi Group’s suppliers, Shanedatu Utoh y Langay alias “Akir”, 25, married, high school graduate, native of Maguindanao, Cotabato City and resident of Golden Mosque, Quiapo, Metro Manila, was busted during a follow-up operation at Gov. Pack Rd., Baguio City when he tried to deliver to a PDEA agent, acting as buyer, a sachet containing around five grams of shabu valued at P30,000.

A Samsung E250 cellular phone was also seized from Utoh as another piece of evidence.
The operation was carried out by PDEA police operatives and agents, personally led by the regional office’s officer in-charge, Chief Insp. Edgar Apalla, aided by the anti-illegal drugs special operations task group of Baguio Police Office. Utoh, a Muslim, was listed in the Target List of Drug Personalities.

Charges for illegal drugs were filed against Wadignan and Catap at the prose’utor's office in La Trinidad while similar cases were filed against Utoh at the city prosecutor’s office in Baguio.
Wadingan and Cadap were turned over to the Benguet provincial jail in La Trinidad, while Utoh is now detained at the Baguio city jail .

The alleged Muslim-supplied Bambi drug group reportedly caters mostly to students, truck drivers; “comboys”, particularly at the Trading Post in La Trinidad, Benguet and some furniture workers.
Additionally, the Bambi Group was pinpointed as the main source of shabu being peddled allegedly at a gambling den proliferating in Dagohoy St., Baguio City.

The other two of its four principal members, Marlyn Aquino and Zanny Ryan Quiroz, were arrested earlier by regional PDEA personnel.

Aquino was busted with Lucrecia Madanes, a secondary member of the group, at Km. 5, La Trinidad, Benguet.

P7,800.00 worth of shabu was confiscated from the duo. Quiroz was nabbed with P1,020 worth of shabu at Palma-Urbano, Baguio City .

Similarly, Joel Fallorin, Jordan Luther Managdag and Mary Jane Espiritu, all secondary members of the Bambi Group, were recently entrapped by regional PDEA personnel at Lower Gibraltar, Baguio City. Confiscated from them were 1,680 worth of shabu.

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Bid process for Mimosa Estate declared a failure

By George Trillo

CLARK FREEPORT — The board of directors of Clark Development Corp. did not grant a request of Waterfront Philippines Inc. to extend the period of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the bidding of the multi-million-peso Mimosa Leisure Estate here.

CDC President Benigno N. Ricafort said the board during its Oct. 17 meeting declared the bidding process a failure and decided not to extend the MOU period because the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. imposed an additional condition for the issuance of a casino license to the winning bidder.

On July 14, CDC and WPI signed a MOU, which is valid for 90 calendar days. WPI committed to pay the initial sum of P930 million within the 90-day period of the MOU on or before Oct. 11.

But WPI requested for a 60-day extension of the deadline "or until such time that a legal and binding solution can be worked out with all affected parties," particularly on the matter of a gaming license from Pagcor.

Ricafort said that the conditions Pagcor had imposed on WPI "have materially affected the original terms and conditions imposed by CDC on any prospective bidder."

He said that WPI, in its Sept. 30 letter to CDC, stated that "the heart of the estate’s operations lies in the gaming industry, and without clear right to obtain a license that has equal footing on a level playing field with other licenses, the financial viability of the whole project is greatly imperiled."

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Vendor gets P50,000 reward for info on Australian’s murder

ANGELES CITY – A cigarette vendor here has received a P50,000 reward for identifying one of the two men who gunned down the Australian owner-president of a company at the Clark Freeport last Sept. 24.

Senior Supt. Pierre Bucsit, city police chief, said Ivan Brown, brother of victim Malcolm Brown, offered a reward of P500,000 to P1 million for information leading to the arrest of the two gunmen and the one who hired them.

Brown, 55, was the owner and president of Outback Five Star Inc., which manufactures coolers and iceboxes at Clark.

His wife, Gloria, took over the management of the company after his death. Bucsit said Ivan gave the vendor P50,000 only, pending the arrest of all the suspects.

He said he was hopeful even the police would partake of the P1 million once the case is solved.

The vendor identified the suspected gunman from the rogues’ gallery of the city police, Bucsit told newsmen.

“The identified suspect is known to belong to a gun-for-hire gang and is known to have been dropped from the ranks of the rebel movement RHB (Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan) because of his criminal involvements. Now it is clear that there was a mastermind,” Bucsit said.

Buscit didn’t reveal the full identities of both the witness and the suspect but identified him as a certain Ona.

Brown was shot several times by two motorcycle-riding men as he drove home along the highway in Barangay Anonas here at around 5:30 p.m. last Sept. 24.

Before killing Brown, the gunmen had bought cigarettes from the vendor.

“We have circumstantial evidence against somebody whom we suspect to be the mastermind, and the capture of the suspected gunman will complete our investigation toward arresting the author of the crime,” Bucsit said, without elaborating. Bucsit said guns-for-hire get no more than P100,000 for a kill, although some agree to only P15,000.

“Most of them are former members of rebel groups,” he said. -- DF

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Missing rights activist ‘alive’:Int’l groups press gov’t: release Balao

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Members of the International Solidarity Mission and local non-government organizations urged the government to “release or surface” rights activist James Balao last week even as his group, the Cordillera People’s Alliance said there were strong indications he was still alive basing from reliable sources.

This as presiding judge Benigno Galacgac Branch 63 of the Regional Trial Court here on Thursday heard statements of witnesses to Balao’s abduction. The hearing was attended by the groups, concerned individuals and clan members.

Beverly Longid, CPA chairperson, said Galacgac earlier subpoenaed President Macapagal-Arroyo to appear during the hearing when the court heard the petition for a writ of amparo filed by Balao’s family and the CPA. Balao, 47 had been missing since Sept. 17.

Balao was believed abducted by operatives the intelligence branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Barangay Tomay here that day.
A witness during the hearing said he saw five men who looked like cops abduct Balao in Tomay.

The witness said the men were armed, wore standard police or army haircut and acted like cops. One of Balao’s abductors reportedly shouted, “Walang makikialam, drug pusher ito,) referring to Balao.

But Balao’s relatives, non-government organizations and his acquaintances said he never had a history of illegal drug abuse.

Longid said during the hearing, Office of the Solicitor General lawyers represented the government and filed a motion to quash the granting of the writ based on technicality. “This is unfortunate, the government should be the one itself which should exert efforts to find Balao and not to hinder this by stopping the granting of the writ based on technicality.”

A writ of amparo is an inspection order directing public officers who control military and police detention facilities where a detainee is allegedly kept to allow authorized persons “to inspect, measure and survey the property or any related object or operation.”

Longid said it was lamentable that military officials were mum on the matter and didn’t want those looking for Balao to enter their camps. The ISM also visited the regional police headquarters at Camp Dangwa here Wednesday where regional police director Chief Supt. Eugene Martin swore he had no complicity or knowledge of the abduction.

He urged ISM members report to him any lead on Balao’s disappearance so the police could track him down and his abductors.

The Commission on Human Rights has also started its investigation into Balao’s disappearance amid growing pressure on the government from both local and international organizations to immediately find him. Maj. Rosendo Armas, spokes­man of the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command, earlier told the media the military will cooperate in the ongoing investigation into Balao’s disappearance, though insisting that they are not keeping the missing activist.

In a resolution Oct.10, the CHR pledged to investigate and monitor developments on the case of Balao, who it considers a victim of enforced disappearance.

“Based on the initial information we have gathered, James Balao and his family have been under regular surveillance by unidentified persons since the first week of June 2008, and (Balao) is allegedly listed in the dossier of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions,” De Lima said in an article earlier emailed to the Northern Philippine Times.

“The CHR, pursuant to its constitutional mandate to investigate all forms of human rights violations, involving civil and political rights… will continue our investigation and monitoring of this case, as we also strongly condemn the enforced disappearance of James Balao,” she added.

In the same resolution, the CHR asked the Philippine National Police to assist it in the investigation, and the AFP to help locate Balao.

The CHR said it would hold a dialogue with top PNP and AFP officials to discuss Balao’s case and the disappearance of other people alleged to be CPP members.

Balao, a descendant of a large Chinese-Japanese clan in Benguet, is the president of the Oclupan Clan Association. In 1984, he was among those who founded CPA, which advocates the protection and promotion of the rights to ancestral domain and self-determination, especially of indigenous communities. -- AD

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CIDG revamps 4 reg’l officers

By Mar T. Supnad

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union-The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group started last week a major reshuffle among its personnel affecting four regional chiefs in the country.

Sr. Supt. Marvin Bolabola, RC for Region 1, was designated new RC for Central Luzon (Region 3), replacing Sr. Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar who was, in turn, also designated as RC for Region 7, Cebu.

Region 7 RC, Sr. Supt. Zoilo Lachica, was also designated as RC for Region 1, replacing Bolabola.

Bataan provincial CIDG chief Supt. Warren de Leon, was also designated as RC for Caraga ( Region 13), one of the most junior officers in the CIDG who was given a regional post by the CIDG hierarchy.

Chief Insp. Ruben Tampis, was also designated as Bataan CIDG chief, replacing de Leon. Prior to his designation as CIDG provincial officer, Major Tampis had been the deputy CIDG here, where he earned his reputation as one of the most feared crime-busting CIDG officers for neutralizing a number of wanted persons, organized crime groups, illegal drugs, among others.

A graduate of Criminology and Law, Tampis is a resident of Mariveles town who is regarded in high esteem due to his professionalism in the service.

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MP gov pushes probe on hot logs ‘lost’ in Isabela police station

By Angel Baybay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Gov. Maximo Dalog is set to start an investigation on the disappearance of two trucks loaded with illegally cut narra lumber which disappeared in a police station in Roxas, Isabela while en route their way to Bontoc.

Mountain Province police officers belonging to Task Force Paracelis had laid the blame on elements of the Isabela Provincial Police Mobile Group.

Dalog wrote Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca on the matter requesting her support so that those responsible will answer for the consequences of their act. “Knowing your opposition to illegal logging, the identities of those involved will be known which I believe will have an impact on the rampant destruction of our forests,” said his letter.

Paracelis Task Force chief PSI Pablo Undalos reported that three trucks and its drivers were apprehended last October along the Paracelis-Roxas road after an informant texted them of three vehicles loaded with narra and were on its way towards Roxas, Isabela.

The three trucks, reportedly owned by Paracelis Vice Mayor Jun Agagon, Julio Nasilib and Glenn Rimas, were intercepted within the vicinity of Anonat, Paracelis and were ordered to proceed to a safe house in Roxas for proper documentation and disposition.

Upon reaching Roxas however, law enforcers from the Isabela PPMG led by a certain SPO3 Silvino Pailas allegedly blocked their path and ordered that the third truck be brought to the police station despite the efforts made by Undalos to explain the legitimacy of the operation.

After an exchange of heated words, they gave way and went direct to their safehouse to change their clothes only to find that only one truck was there.

They immediately scoured the area to no avail. The driver of the second vehicle took advantage of the long negotiation between the police officers and sped to safety.

With some of their companions guarding the only impounded vehicle, Undalos and his team went to the police office as earlier agreed but was taken aback by the report of the policeman on duty that no vehicle was ever surrendered to the station. The more they were surprised when they went to the PPMG office and found out that no vehicle was taken into their custody.

Without any recourse, they asked the help of the PPMG group director, a certain Supt. Balderas but all efforts to locate the two missing trucks proved futile.

It was later found out that the PPMG elements left the truck and its occupants when Undalos and his men went to their safehouse.

Meanwhile, the only vehicle impounded by Task Force Paracelis was turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Roxas for inventory and later endorsed to the Roxas police office for safekeeping. Investigation reports are being collated for possible court action.

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Baguio-bound van falls into ravine; six injured

SANTOL, La Union – Six passengers of a Baguio-bound Toyota Revo, including a three-year-old girl, were injured when the vehicle fell into a 400-meter ravine in Santol, La Union afternoon of Oct. 21.

Senior Insp. Paterno Oriña, Santol police chief, said the Toyota Revo, driven by Joseph Sappa, 33, lost its brakes while negotiating a mountain road between Barangays Camangga-an and Ramot.

Rushed to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City were Sozimo Pa-ing, 26; Noel Pay-sang, 26; Mercy Dumay-ang, 26; Sappa, his wife, Grace, 23, and their three-year-old daughter Aubrey.

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Five troopers killed in clash with Abra NPAs

TUBO, Abra – Five army troopers were recently killed here by a platoon under the Agustin Begnalen Command, New People’s Army when the guerillas repulsed an attack on their camp by elements of the 50th IB under a certain 1st Lt. Pedrigosa here.

Ka Diego Wadagan, ABC-NPA spokesman said the Army troops initiated their attack by firing on an NPA sentry patrol about 5 a.m.

“In the ensuing gunbattle that raged until noon, NPA guerillas quickly outmaneuvered the army troops and regained the initiative,” he said. “The army troops retreated after being driven back from a small part of the camp they occupied.”

A few hours after the gunbattle, two Huey helicopters and an OV-10 Bronco plane reportedly strafed and bombed parts of barangay Tubtuba, Tubo.

Wadagan said five troopers were killed in the gunbattle. The NPA lost one
guerilla, Richard "Ka Daniel" Pingyan who was hit in the initial burst of bullets. “The raiding enemy troops were transported out of the area by helicopters.”

He said the same army unit set up an 105mm howitzer in Barangay Tubtuba March to April this year.

Wadagan said the army troops killed a farmer, terrorized the residents, and stole livestock when they occupied the community. “They also killed and mutilated the body of Sammy Rey "Ka
Cholo" Cayago, an NPA guerilla whom they captured in action.”

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Baguio taxpayers can now avail of amnesty

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Taxpayers may now avail of amnesty on fines, interests, surcharges and penalties surcharges on delinquent tax payments.

The city council last Monday approved on third reading an ordinance authored by Councilor Nicasio Aliping Jr. for this purpose.

Under the measure, a “general amnesty” would be given to real property taxpayers who are delinquent in the payment of real property taxes as of December 31, 2007.

“The amnesty shall pertain to the condonation of the entire amount of fines, interests, surcharges and penalties, provided that the taxpayer pays all the delinquent taxes,” the measure noted.

The amnesty shall be availed of only within three months upon its approval by the city mayor.

“The application of amnesty under the provisions of this Ordinance shall be filed with the Office of the City Treasurer on the form prescribed therefore,” the measure noted.

“Further, in order that said amnesty be granted the taxpayer shall explain in the form of affidavit stating the reasons such as: acts of man such as hold up and financial crisis; and fortuitious event.”

“Any taxpayer who avails of amnesty under the provisions of this Ordinance shall be exempted from any civil, criminal and administrative liability arising from the violation of the Real Property Tax Code and the Revised Revenue Code of Baguio City. The exemption shall cover only properties declared under amnesty;

“No public auction of delinquent real properties shall be held during the period of amnesty.”

Aliping said allowing taxpayers to settle their obligations without the burden of surcharges will help ease their financial woes in this time of economic crisis faced by the country.

“Taxpayers are hesitant to pay their tax delinquencies due to imposition of fines, interests, surcharges and penalties (thus the grant of amnesty) will encourage effective tax collection,” Aliping said.

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4 foreigners stranded in yacht rescued off Bolinao

BOLINAO, Pangasinan – Coast Guard personnel rescued four foreigners from Hong Kong whose Subic-bound yacht encountered engine trouble 77 nautical miles west of Cape Bolinao at dawn Thursday.

Capt. Athelo Ybañez, district commander of Coast Guard-Northern Luzon based in San Fernando, La Union, said his men promptly responded after getting the distress call.

The Coast Guard men were patrolling the waters of La Union on board a vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources when they responded and rescued the foreigners – a Briton, a Korean and two Chinese nationals.

The 55-foot yacht was later towed by a 30-meter long vessel to La Union. – Jennelyn Mondejar

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