For jueteng, killing of Comelec exec, arrogance: Padaca seeks Isabela cop chief's relief anew

>> Sunday, December 20, 2009

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– For the nth time, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca called on the Philippine National Police for the relief of Supt. Jimmy Rivera as provincial police director for his alleged arrogance, discourtesy and bias in dealing with contending political groups in the province.

The governor’s renewed call for Rivera’s relief came after the recent ransacking by some 40 suspected New People’s Army rebels of the police station at Divilacan town and last month’s killing of lawyer Michael Valdez, Isabela election supervisor.

Padaca initially sought Rivera’s relief with Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa four months ago amid the alleged rampant jueteng operations in the province and the police’s official’s alleged display of arrogance against civilian authority.

In a statement, Padaca said the present situation in Isabela warrants a change in the provincial police leadership and “a fresh start” for relations between the police and the provincial government, especially that this Comelec (Commission on Elections) issue has caught up with all of us.”

She was referring to a recent decision of the Comelec’s Second Division unseating her and declaring her rival, former governor Benjamin Dy, the real winner in the 2007 gubernatorial race.

Rivera though refused to comment on the governor’s renewed call for his relief, saying, “I already have my hands full regarding police matters in the province to give any more attention to the issue.”

Earlier, Rivera, who traces his roots in Isabela, had denied the reported existence of illegal gambling in the province, one of Padaca’s reasons in calling for his relief.

“I just want to continue my work as police director here to the best of my ability. But I will not stay for a minute longer if I already have my marching orders,” he said.

Rivera, who was installed as Isabela police director last February, said the police organization is not personality-oriented and will always remain neutral on the ongoing local political situation.

“We will accomplish whatever higher authorities tell us to do, including whatever the Comelec decision will be. We will implement all lawful orders,” he said.

However, Padaca assailed Rivera’s refusal “to try even for just a minute to communicate with me as the highest civilian authority of the province and his biased dealings with local officials identified with me.”

Padaca said Rivera “showed not just to me but to many in Isabela that it was not peace that he came to bring but disorder.”

“In all my experiences dealing with police and military officers throughout my 14 years as a broadcast journalist and five years as governor, I have never seen such arrogance (as Colonel Rivera has shown). Whether they were sincere or not, most of the officers I’ve met conducted themselves with full respect to their uniform,” said Padaca in her letter to Puno and Verzosa. -- CL

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Retired cop slain in Ilocos ambush

By Freddie Lazaro

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur —- A retired policeman was killed in a broad daylight ambush by motor riding unidentified suspects here along the road in Barangay Ayusan Sur Wednesday afternoon.

The victim was driving his tricycle going towards north direction when the suspects who were riding in tandem in a motorcycle and were coming from his behind shot him once hitting his chest.

Police identified the victim as retired SPO4 Dionisio Aquino, 59, a resident of Barangay Bulala, Vigan City.

Investigation disclosed the shooting incident happened at about 4 p.m. The victim was driving his tricycle going to Barangay Capangpangan to fetch his daughter when the suspects ambushed him.

The victim sustained bullet wound in his chest. He was rushed by bystanders to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Lawmen recovered an empty shell for Cal. 45 and one magazine assembly for Cal..45 with four live bullets at the crime scene.

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Murder charges filed: MP tribal leader’s son slain by Army soldier

By Francis Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Murder charges were filed at the regional trial court here late last week against an army trooper for shooting dead a tribal leader’s son inside his vehicle following a traffic altercation evening of Dec. 13 at Fasog, Tocucan here.

Army staff sergeant Ricardo Abalos of the 77th infantry battalion of the 5th infantry division based at Sitio Parew, Tocucan, allegedly shot to death Abelardo “Abe” Fakat Jr., 54, a public works contractor and resident of Barangay Caluttit.

Based on police blotter, SPO2 Deliso Pakyo of the Bontoc police station received a call from an unidentified person following the shooting incident.

Reports reaching the regional police headquarters in Camp Dangwa, Benguet meanwhile said Abalos had an altercation with Fakat when the latter reportedly tried to overtake him.

Both were reportedly on their way to the town proper of Bontoc. Abalos was reportedly driving his motorcycle when Fakat who was then approaching from behind signified his intention of overtaking by honking his horn.

Abalos reportedly gave way but Fakat alighted from his car. A confrontation ensued wherein both brought out their guns and reportedly shot one another.

Five excessive gunshots were reportedly heard by the witness, who, according to a police report, had to take cover for fear he might be shot by stray bullets.

None was injured during the initial confrontation. After this, Abalos and his companion who also served as witness reportedly decided to go back to their detachment in Sitio Fusag, when Fakat followed them and allegedly intentionally bumped them from behind.

Abalos reportedly fell from his motorcycle while Fakat alighted from his vehicle and fired at him. Abalos reportedly shot back killing Fakat who sustained a gunshot wound on the left side of his body and injury on his head.

.Insp. Jimmy Macwes of the police regional mobile group, Bontoc police chief Chief Insp.Marcial Fa-ed and personnel of the provincial police command rushed to the crime scene and found Fakat dead.

Found on the scene were Fakat’s Cal. 45 pistol with one magazine loaded with seven bullets, five empty shells and one bullet also from a Cal. 45 pistol believed to be owned by Abalos.

Dr Diga Gomez, municipal health officer said Fakat was proclaimed dead on arrival at the Bontoc General Hospital and was buried Wednesday.

At 3 a.m., the next day Fa-ed led a police force to arrest Abalos at Tocucan. Through peaceful negotiation with 1st Lieutenant Jessie Addun, commanding officer of the Alpha Company, 77th Infantry Battalion, Abalos surrendered and turned over his service firearm.

Meanwhile, a witness identified as a certain Ulysis Sawad, 53, resident of Barangay Tocucan, told police he and Abalos, were proceeding towards Bontoc poblacion aboard a motorcycle when they heard the horn of the victim’s vehicle following behind them.

Sawad said Abalos then pulled over on the side of the road to give way but altercation ensued when the victim alighted from his sport runner Toyota revo with plate number PN 141 which resulted to the shooting.

Sawad told police a heated argument between the two prompted them to draw their guns and after the shoot out the witness said he saw the vehicle of the victim speeding off to Bontoc.

According to Sawad, Abalos called him to go back to the camp but the victim allegedly followed them and fired at them.

Sawad, a member of the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit, was brought to the Bontoc General Hospital for treatment of a wound on Dec. 14.

In the evening, a daughter and a niece of Sawad who were taking care of him, were requested by a certain Army officer for them to go home and get extra clothing for the witness.

It was discovered the following day by SPO1Fred Awichen that the witness was absent from his room at the hospital.

While search was conducted by police, Tocucan tribesmen and the victim’s relatives to locate Sawad, mayor Franklin Odsey. Odsey was informed of the incident. Odsey called up provincial board member Ezra Gomez to inform his elder brother Gen. Rommel Gomez of the incident. The Gomezes are natives of Bontoc.

Gen Gomez assured Sawad would be brought back to Bontoc to face issues related to the shooting incident.

In an interview with Fa-ed, he said on Dec. 15, a certain Army Captain Dimasalang Mamayog, executive officer of the 77th IB of the 5th ID, informed Addun that Sawad was in Bagumbayan, Dupax del Sur, Nueva Viscaya.

Sawad was brought back to Bontoc through a military chopper the morning of Dec. 16.
Abelardo is the eldest son of Bontoc tribal leader Ama Alexander "Kawi" Fakat and Alice Aniwasal Fakat. – With a report from Gina Dizon

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Comelec reverses court ruling, ousts LU mayor

By Jerry Padilla

AGOO, La Union– The mayor of this town lost her position after the Commission on Elections unseated her and installed her opponent in the 2007 elections.

The Comelec reversed the decision of the local regional trial court affirming the victory of Mayor Sandra Eriguel and declared Ma. Theresa Dumpit-Michelena the duly elected mayor with a 167-vote margin.

Eriguel’s camp said here are alleged loopholes and irregularities in the Comelec ruling, as no one from the poll body informed them to witness the recount conducted in Manila.

Contested election results from Agoo as well from other towns were brought to the Comelec main office in Intramuros after the 2007 elections but were reportedly stolen on the night of July 27 this year.

The Comelec’s law department recently resolved the case on the missing election results by recommending the filing of criminal and administrative charges against engineer Lorenzo Peres, building administrator of the poll body’s Election Records and Statistics Division; Rodolfo “Jun” Eres, an aide of a retired general from La Union and PO2 Johnson Pagulayan, who was assigned at the poll department.

Lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan, head of the Comelec’s law department, said the three would be charged with bribery, grave misconduct and violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Eriguel’s camp alleged anomaly in the ruling, noting Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer both affixed their signatures but wrote the words “no part,” which means they did not participate in the recount and in settling Michelena’s appeal.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento had a dissenting opinion, affirming the victory of Eriguel in the recount with 1,419 votes over Michelena.

Other signatories of the order, penned by Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, were Commissioners Armando Velasco, Gregorio Larrazabal, and Elias Yusoph, who all did not put any notation above their signatures.

Eriguel said the ruling saddened her, citing the RTC decision upholding her victory with more than 4,000 votes over Michelena.

Eriguel, who was instrumental in the town’s literacy program by garnering this year the Hall of Fame award and the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy, is the wife of Dr. Frannie Eriguel, standard-bearer of the Nationalist People’s Coalition in the second district congressional race.

Dr. Eriguel, who was endorsed by nine out 11 incumbent mayors in the second district, recently bolted the Lakas-Kampi-CMD and joined the NPC.

He is pitted against Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidate Rep. Tomas Dumpit Jr.

Forty-eight of the 49 barangay captains of Agoo have signed a manifesto of support for Mayor Eriguel, along with 18 of the 20 mayors of the province.

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Councilor, two aides survive slay attempt

By Dexter A. See

BANGUED, Abra — A councilor and his two aides cheated death after the firearm used by two men, believed to be hired assassins, jammed in Calaba South here morning of Dec. 17.

The failure of assassin’s firearm to fire caused a commotion, forcing the suspects to flee.

Senior Supt. Charlo Collado, provincial police director identified the target of the assassination try as Bangued councilor Danny Adame, Elenito Adame, bodyguard of the councilor; and Zosimo Castillo, the councilor’s driver.

Initial police investigation showed the three persons were on board the councilor’s owner-type jeep and were in Barangay Calaba South when two still unidentified armed men suddenly approached them and started asking something.

As soon as they replied to what they were inquiring about, one of the suspects suddenly pulled out a Cal. 45 pistol tucked on his waist, pointed it to Adame and pulled the trigger but the pistol jammed.

Adame and his aides ran to safety.

Apparently sensing danger, the two suspects parted ways and scampered away.

Reacting to insinuations that the assassination attempt was the start of intense political rivalry in the town, Collado said the incident was an isolated case, thus, it should not be linked to the elections.

Adame is reportedly a close ally of Bangued Mayor Dominic Valera, who is being challenged in the mayoralty race by Abra Rep. Cecille Luna’s son Ryan.

In the 2007 elections, at least 27 people were killed in the province.

Police appealed to concerned sectors in the province not to test the mettle of the police and military since they will be forced to implement the full force of the law if they insist on using harassment to force voters to vote for them.

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Truck falls down ravine; three killed

TUBA, Benguet – Three passengers of a truck loaded with fresh Benguet highland vegetables were killed when the vehicle fell into a 200-foot ravine along Camp 3, barangay here minutes before noon Thursday.

Benguet police director Senior Supt. Loreto Espinelli identified fatalities as Roberto Manlongad Sr. and his namesake-son Roberto Jr., and another one whose identity was not known as of press time.

Authorities said the wayward Fuzo truck (UAL155) bound for Manila hit several road signs before falling into the ravine along Kennon Road.

It was often the site of highway accidents especially among overloaded trucks whose braking systems can no longer withstand its heavy loads.

Rafael Valencia, head of the rescue group 911-on-call said the fatalities were almost dismembered from the impact of the fall.

The victims were extricated from the truck.

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P’sinan board wants Agno flood head fired

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan---The Sangguniang Panlalawigan here Tuesday passed a resolution requesting the Office of the President, through the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways, for the immediate relief of Philip Meñez, Project Director of the Agno River Flood Control System Office in connection with the severe flooding that hit the province at the height of Typhoon Pepeng.

The possibly irked members of the Pangasinan provincial board also sought in the resolution the immediate replacement of Meñez whom they partly blamed for the flashflood that hit the province, causing the loss of less than 100 lives and billions of pesos worth of destroyed houses and agricultural products.

The action of the SP stemmed from Meñez’ consistent refusal to invitations of the SP to attend its hearings on the causes of the flooding that transpired during the height of Typhoon Pepeng, the first ever severe flooding that hit Pangasinan since time immemorial.

Neswmen learned that despite the billions of pesos the national government has spent for the past several years on flood control program here, the province was still not spared from the flooding and that the huge amount of money intended for the purpose was just went to naught.

Board Member Alfonso Bince, principal author of the resolution, said this is a “milder rebuke” warning that the provincial board was contemplating to declare him persona non grata in the province.

Despite the official invitation, Meñez failed to attend the Oct. 26 meeting presided by Governor Amado T. Espino. Jr. attended by all the mayors of the province.

He also snubbed the subsequent invitations of the provincial board on Nov. 9 and 16 and on Dec. 7 .

He did not send a representative from his office, earning the ire of the provincial officials.

“Mr. Meñez’ persistent disregard of legal invitations by the legislative body of the province is contumacious, an act of disrespect and discourtesy, if not indifference, to the welfare of Pangasinan and its inhabitants,” the resolution said.

The provincial board expressed its desire that a permanent and regular project director be appointed immediately to replace Mr. Meñez, who is just detailed from the Central Office of the DPWH and not a permanent appointee to the Agno Flood Control System.

Menez could not be reached for comment.

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Slides threaten P’panga villages

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — After a killer landslide hit Arayat town during the onslaught of typhoon “Ondoy” that claimed the lives of 12 persons residing at the footstep of Mt. Arayat, the Central Luzon Regional Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau warned that at least 10 villages in the province might experience landslides.

MGB said villages in “danger zones” are those situated near the footstep and periphery of Mt. Arayat. The government agency has identified the towns of Arayat and Magalang as “very high risk.”

MGB reported that villages in danger zones are Barangays Ayala, San Agustin, Sto. Niño, San Vicente, and Turo in Magalang; and Barangays Gatiawin, Palinlang, Balite, Turo Lapaz, and San Juan Baño, where the last killer landslide occurred, in Arayat.

A team of investigators from MGB conducted various geological studies and geo-hazard assessments at the concerned areas where they saw evidence of kaingin and illegal logging activities.

The team reported in Magalang, at least three main drainage systems are potential delivery channels for landslide materials because of the presence of breached portions weakness and there are manifestations of active landslides in the form of rock fall and translational slides,” the report said.

After the geo-hazard assessment, the MGB suggested that creeks should be cleared of debris and obstructions which could start the or scarps along the northern summit of Mt. Arayat. These drainage systems are Takwi, Kinanawan, and Bundalian creeks.

A report from the team submitted to MGB here, indicated that there is a possibility of debris flow affecting the downstream portion that can caused landslides in the areas assessed.

A geo-hazard assessment in the periphery of Mt. Arayat also showed that there are creeks and natural drainage that are potential delivery channels of landslide materials and debris flow.

“The breached portion of the summit had exhibited build-up of dam structures along the channels.

“If the water could pass freely along the channels, pore pressure on the unstable banks and unconsolidated materials along the path of the creeks would be lessened,” the report said.

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Top NPA reb in CL surrenders

By George Trillo

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — A top New People's Army chief of the local communist movement in Central Luzon surrendered to Bulacan Governor Joselito Roxas Mendoza early last week.

Supt. David N. Poklay, deputy police director for intelligence and investigation, identified the NPA officer as Sotero Balingit, 39, alias “Ka Bloddy” and “Ka Terry”, of Macabebe, Pampanga, and presently residing in Barangay San Jose, Hagonoy, Bulacan.

Balingit said he joined the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA in 2002, wherein he became a vice commander at the coastal areas of Bulacan, Bataan, and Pampanga.

“Nakokonsiyensa na ako ng husto sa aking mga kasalanan at sa aking pamilya na napapabayaan ko na ng husto dahil sa aking pagsanib sa kilusan,” he said. (“My conscience bothers me due to my sins against the people and for neglecting my family.”)

With his desire to surrender, Balingit contacted his former comrade, now a rebel-returnee, and requested him to contact some Bulacan mediamen to assist him in surrendering.

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112 Badjaos nabbed, forced out of Baguio

BAGUIO CITY – Police and social workers from the city social welfare and development office arrested 112 members of the Badjao tribe who are in this mountain resort city conducting begging activities the past months.

The Badjaos were arrested in Burnham Park, Friday evening, which they are using as their temporary lodging area at night in a bid to rid the city of increasing number of mendicants, especially during Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The city government gave the Badjaos transport expenses so they will go back to their respective points or origin.

Most of the Badjaos loiter around the city during daytime and beg from local residents and tourists who are walking along streets and parks as well as those eating in business establishments in the city’s central business district area.

According to social workers, Badjaos usually flock to the city during the Yuletide season and pursue their begging activities since they know that local residents and tourists in the city are generous, thus, they want to take advantage of the situation to earn a living.

The city social welfare development office said activities of the Badjaos violated the anti-mendicancy ordinance of the local government, thus, they had to implement the same to prevent the image of the city from being placed in a bad light.

The past years, Badjaos in the city increased during the months of November and December to beg from local residents and tourists which undermines the spirit of the approved anti-mendicancy ordinance. – Dexter A. See

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Disbandment of armed groups pushed in Abra

By Mar T. Supnad

BANGUED, Abra — Concerned residents of Abra and local newsmen based here urged the Philippine National Police last week to launch an all-out campaign against the remaining members of private armed groups (PAGs) in the province to ensure a peaceful and credible election in Abra next year.

They said the dreaded and heavily-armed groups are maintained by political leaders.
Abra is one of the 73 areas identified by the PNP as one of areas of concern following the bloody record of the province during election period the previous years.

Aside from the PAGs, Abra is also home to the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army whose members are known to possess high-powered firearms who, until now, are not yet disarmed and disbanded by the government.

It was gathered that CPLA chieftain Mailed Molina has filed his certificate of candidacy to run for congressional representative in Abra’s lone district.

Also gunning for the position are former Gov. Ching Valera, wife of former Gov. Vicsyd Valera who is detained after he was suspected of masterminding the shooting to death of Rep. Chito Bersamin, reelectionist Cecille Luna and Joy Bernos, wife of slain mayor Ysreal Bernos of La Paz town.

In the gubernatorial battle, re-electionist Gov. Takits Bersamin will be challenged by Lizardo Senogo and Gil Valera.

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CAFGUs sent to 3 Ifugao towns to block NPA force

LAGAWE, Ifugao — Police and military authorities here approved the deployment of para-military forces in three remote towns of this province in to stop New People’s Army rebels from setting up camp in the tri-boundaries of Ifugao, Benguet, and Nueva Vizcaya.

Senior Supt. Joseph Adnol, provincial police director, said the deployment of members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in the towns of Aipulo, Hungduan, and Tinoc was in anticipation of the rebel plan to put up a camp in the area to advance the interest of the communist movement and influence the residents in the remote towns, especially in the forthcoming May 2010 elections.

Earlier, combined police and military forces arrested four NPA rebels during an encounter in a remote area of Tinoc town after at least 40 heavily armed men engaged the government troops in a running gunbattle.

At the same time, another NPA rebel reportedly surrendered to police and military personnel based in the province and divulged the plan of the communist movement to set up a training camp in one of the remotest part of the three towns.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Rommel Gomez, commanding officer of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Gamo, Isabela, approved the deployment of one company of CAFGU in the vicinity of the three towns to serve as a deterrent to the efforts of the communist movement in trying to influence the residents into believing in their ideology which is not in accordance with the norms of peaceful living.

Aside from working on the assignment of more military and para-military forces in strategic areas in the region in preparation for the upcoming May 2010 elections, Gomez said the government forces will also play an important role in the implementation of community-based activities so that people will be encouraged to abandon their support to the ideology of the communist movement.

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Singsons ‘unbeatable’ in Ilocos Sur

By Mar T. Supnad

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur- The Singsons here, headed by gubernatorial candidate Luis “Chavit” Singson, are still a force to reckon with and unbeatable due to their intact and well-oiled political machinery, according to their supporters.

Chavit will be challenged by former board member and radio man Efren Rafanan who had been defeated twice for the governorship.

Although Rafanan is popular, his lack of political machinery and resources is no match with Chavit who was author of Republic Act 7171, known as Tobacco Execise tax, a law that gives billions of pesos to Ilocanos as their share for their tobacco products.

A first class province, Ilocos Sur is developed in terms of infrastructure, electricity, among others and these are being attributed to Chavit.

In First district, Chavit’s son reelectionist Rep. Ronald Singson is still predicted to be the man to beat due to his popularity, intact political machinery and accomplishments during his first term as representative in the district.

Ronald is being challenged by Randy Baterina, an almost unknown political figure in the province, who had been defeated in the previous election.

In this Capital city, reelectionist mayor Eva Marie Singson-Medina, daughter of Chavit, and her vice mayor running mate Ryan Singson, a neophyte in politics and another son of Chavit, are running unopposed since no one have the guts to challenge them in the coming 2010 polls.

The Medinas and Ryan Singson’s unopposed team is now being touted as another unbeatable political tandem.

Incumbent Vice Gov. Jerry Singson, younger brother of Chavit, will slide down to board membership to pave the way for incumbent governor DV Savellano who will slide down to Vice governor and running mate of Chavit.

In Second district, congressional candidate Grace Singson, wife of three-termer Rep. Eric D. Singson, Deputy Speaker for Luzon, will also run unopposed after no one opposed her candidacy to run for congress in this tobacco-producing district.

Grace’s son reelectionist Allen Singson of the Component city of Candon is also a sure winner on his third term, his supporters said.

Rep. Eric, a highly respected political leader in the Second district, did not aspire for any elective post.

He was the architect for the concreting of the barangay roads even those at the remote areas that were unreachable before.

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Bleak Xmas for Benguet farmers

By Dexter See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Thousands of farmers in this vegetable-producing province are facing a bleak Christmas and New Year after the prices of locally grown agricultural crops suddenly dropped the past several days because of unabated entry of smuggled vegetables from China.

Because of the drop in the wholesale buying prices of locally produced vegetables, farmers who harvested their crops suffered from huge losses to the extent of failing to recover their capital.
Officials of various farmers associations in the province said concerned national government agencies seem to be tolerating the smuggling of vegetables from China.

With the sudden drop in vegetable prices in the trading post here, the provincial government reactivated the local anti-smuggling task force to report to concerned government agencies, particularly the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Customs prevalence of imported products in local markets.

Anti-smuggling advocates here said imported vegetables are sneaked into the country through the ports in Batangas, Cebu, Davao, and other small ports in the Visayas where some Customs officials allow the entry of the goods.

For the nth time this year, prices of locally grown vegetables have significantly dropped because of the continuous influx of imported crops that directly compete with the ones being produced in the vast agricultural farms in the different parts of the province.

Stakeholders in the P12-billion vegetable industry here challenged the Arroyo administration to be firm on its decision against the flooding of local markets with imported products.

At least 250,000 individuals from the 13 towns in Benguet rely on vegetable farming as a source of livelihood, thus, the drop in the prices of locally grown vegetables means they are deprived of descent living condition

Farmers are wondering why the government could not totally stop the smuggling of vegetables when there are several anti-smuggling task forces to check these illegal activities.

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Cops seize marijuana bricks in Kalinga bus

TABUK, Kalinga -- Combined police operatives and anti-narcotics operatives confiscated 30 bricks of dried marijuana leaves inside the baggage compartment of a Manila-bound passenger bus in a checkpoint here at Talaka, Agbannawag afternoon of Dec. 16.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, regional police director in the Cordillera, said the seized 30 bricks of dried marijuana leaves have a total market value of over P750,000.

Initial police investigation showed that upon receipt of a tip from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of illegal drugs inside a Manila-bound bus, elements of the Kalinga Provincial Police Office, Cordillera Regional Mobile Group, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency set up a checkpoint along the national highway in Talaka.

The seizure of the marijuana bricks was a product of the cooperation of the public in providing law enforcers with vital information which led to the successful anti-drug operations, Pestano said.

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Gov’t allots P380 million for 4 roads

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The national government has earmarked P380 million for rehabilitation and upgrading if four major secondary national arterial roads in this vegetable-producing province next year.

Benguet Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa bared this saying out of the allocated amount, at least P130 million each will be programmed for rehabilitation of the Tublay-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun road and the Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias road, while P60 million each was already set aside for the improvement of the Itogon-Dalupirip-San Manuel, Pangasinan road and the Baguio City limit-Mount Sto. Tomas road.

Even if Benguet was not a recipient of foreign-assisted projects this year, the lawmaker said efforts have been exerted by provincial and municipal officials to seek funding support for rehabilitation of other major roads which serve as farm-to-market roads to ensure transport of agricultural crops from farms to markets, especially during times of calamities.

If the Tublay-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Buguias road and the Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias road will be fully rehabilitated through allocation of sufficient funds, Dangwa said.

He added these will serve as alternative access routes for motorists and vegetable farmers when Halsema Highway, the major road link to the interior parts of the Cordillera, will be closed to vehicular traffic when landslides occur particularly during typhoons.

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Isabela gubernatorial tiff: Padaca holds ground as Dy fails to get writ of execution

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Governor Grace Padaca has a 15-day period to file another motion for reconsideration had the poll body again favored her rival’s motion to eventually make her vacate her post to pave the way for Dy’s assumption.

However, reports indicated that the camp of former governor Benjamin Dy Thursday failed to obtain from the Second Division a writ of execution, which could have paved the way for Dy to take over the Isabela governorship after the same division nullified Padaca’s winning in the 2007 polls.

Padaca said she hoped the poll body would reconsider the Second Division’s decision considering the credibility of the material evidence they submitted affirming her victory over Dy in the 2007 elections.

“The (Second Division) has yet to prove how Benjamin Dy overtook my 17,207-vote winning margin (in the 2007 elections) by even leading by 1,051 votes,” Padaca said.

Further, police have readied contingency measures for untoward incidents that may arise between the camps of Padaca and Dy following last week’s Commission on Elections Second Division resolution declaring the latter the duly elected governor over the former in the 2007 gubernatorial race.

While failing to secure a writ of execution for now, the Dy camp said their rival camp, likewise, was not able to get a temporary restraining order against the Second Division order installing him as governor.

Both rival parties were reportedly given another five days to submit further arguments to their respective motions. Dy is bidding to obtain a writ of execution for his assumption into office from the Second Division while Padaca hopes to get a TRO against her ouster.

“The camp of Gov. Padaca can still file a motion for reconsideration (had the decision been adverse to her for the second time),” said renowned election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who earlier described last week’s Comelec pro-Dy ruling as “scandalous, anomalous and shameful.

Also President Arroyo’s election lawyer, Macalintal, who earlier vowed to stop practicing election law if Padaca will be unseated, said that in case Dy is still able to get a writ of execution, the Padaca camp can still file a TRO before the Comelec to stop Dy’s assumption into office.

Isabela provincial director Senior Supt. Jimmy Rivera said that they have dispatched a police contingent to ensure peace and security at the capitol in Ilagan town where Padaca supporters were conducting a prayer rally simultaneous with their Manila counterparts in front of the Comelec central office denouncing the Second Division’s ousting Padaca.

Earlier, Padaca vowed to fight her ouster all the way to the Supreme Court. Likewise, the Dy camp said they will adhere to legal processes, assuring they will not resort to force or violence in taking over the capitol in case the Comelec will again decide in their favor.

Padaca said that her colleagues in the Kaya Natin! Movement, who include Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes as well as officials and students of the Lyceum University of the Philippines were leading protest action in front of the Comelec central office amid the ongoing hearing on Dy’s petition.

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Closure of Baguio roads for Pangagbenga urged

By Mary Rose Luis

BAGUIO CITY -- Organizers of the Panagbenga Flower Festival urged city officials last week to close some roads for use during revelries Feb. 1 to March 7 next year.

The Panagbenga executive committee, in a letter to the mayor and city council, requested closure of Military Cut Off rotunda to lower Session and Harrison roads for the opening parade.

The committee also requested the use of the Athletic Bowl for street dancing competition and fireworks display.

From March 1 to 7, during the market encounter and landscaping contest, the committee asked closure of Burnham Lake Drive for concerts and kiosks for merchandising and dining facilities.

During the fluvial parade on Feb. 14, the committee asked use of the lake platform for a stage play.

Closure of Legarda Road from Baguio Palace Hotel to Gilligan's for the Legarda Rocks activity is scheduled on Feb. 12 to 14, while for the Abanao Nights, the committee asked closure of road fronting Abanao Square for a concert and outdoor bistro.

During the grand street parade on Feb. 27 roads eyed for closure are from Military Cut Off to Lower Session Road, Magsaysay Avenue and Harrison.

Next day, a grand float parade will follow the same route of the grand street dancing parade but will shorten its route and will not take Magsaysay Avenue .

For the Session Road in Bloom, the organizers requested closure from March 1 to 7.

Adjoining streets like Gov. Pack Road , Calderon Street , Assumption Road , Father Carlu loop, Perfecto Street , Malcolm Square Road and Mabini Street were also cited as entrance, exit points and staging area for emergency vehicles.

The use of Melvin Jones grandstand for Pony Boys Day and the Athletic Bowl grandstand for the closing rites was also asked.

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Not surprising if Comelec is out to get me : Panlilio

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — After the Commission on Elections declared that Bulacan Governor Joselito “Jon-jon” Mendoza and Isabela Governor Grace Padaca lost in the May, 2007 elections, Pampanga Governor Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio said he thinks he would be the next provincial executive to be unseated by the poll body.

Panlilio said it would not be surprising if he would also experience the same fate as that of Mendoza and Padaca because they all belong to the same party, the Liberal Party (LP).
“We are all members of the Liberal Party and it seems that we are slugging it out with candidates from the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio and Padaca are vocal critics of the Arroyo administration while it was remembered that Mendoza and the priest-turned-governor were the “whistle-blowers” of the alleged “brown envelope scandal” in Malacañang in 2007.

Panlilio said, however, that he still hopes that “the true voice of the people of Pampanga would prevail.”

“I still believe in the integrity of the 2007 elections,” Panlilio said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer of the Comelec Second Division, who handles the recount case against Panlilio, said the poll body would cite the camp of Panlilio in contempt if they would continue to relay to people and media “malicious and misleading opinions” about the poll body.

“We would like to request the camp of Governor Panlilio to stop telling people and the media that we are biased. Nobody can direct us and we only want the truth to prevail,” Ferrer said.

The supporters of Panlilio staged a protest rally in front of the Comelec office in this capital city recently to denounce “Comelec swift action on the recount case.”

The group said that ousting Panlilio is “all part of a grand scheme that can be related to the bid of President Arroyo in the second district.”

In their statement sent to reporters, Kapampangan Kontra Recount (KKK), a group that supports Panlilio, said that they believe “that the recount scheme is to quash the entire democratic gains of the people in Pampanga. This is an effort to ensure the continuing existence of the elitist patronage politics in the province. The coalition further believes that GMA (President Arroyo) is at the helm of this scheme, whose administration is riddled with corruption and violations of human rights.”

The group said that Panlilio did not have the capacity to cheat in the May, 2007 elections.
Earlier, the camp of former Senior Board Member Lilia Pineda, who lost to Panlilio by merely 1,147 votes, said that “it does not necessary mean that if he (Panlilio) is a priest, he cannot cheat.”

Pineda filed an election protest against Panlilio for massive cheating during the May, 2007 elections.

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Cops destroy P112 M marijuana in Benguet

BAKUN, Benguet — At least P112.2 million worth of marijuana plants were successfully destroyed by combined police and anti-narcotics agents during a week-long marijuana eradication operation in 32 plantation sites in Barangays Kayapa here and Tacadang in nearby Kibungan town recently.

Chief Insp. Edgar Apalla, regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Cordillera, said the marijuana eradication operation was a product of the collaborative efforts of regiona; police and the PDEA to rid the region of its moniker as top marijuana producer in the country.

Lawmen destroyed 1,313,780 pieces of marijuana seedlings valued at P52.6 million and 298,900 pieces of fully-gown marijuana plants with a projected market value of P59.6 million.

Chief Supt.Orlando Pestano, Cordillera police director, said the marijuana eradication operation was done in separate plantation sites in Barangays Kayapa, Bakun and Tacadang, Kibungan.

The months of November to March are considered the harvest season for marijuana, thus, police and anti-narcotics operatives are now working double time to eradicate whatever plants that are growing in identified sites in the remote areas of the tri-boundaries of Benguet, Ilocos Sur and La Union and in Ifugao, Mountain Province and Kalinga.

However, no marijuana cultivator was arrested during the operation because they were escaped from the scene before alemen could arrive.

Most of the uprooted marijuana seedlings and fully-grown plants were burned on site while a portion of the same was taken by the authorities as evidence. – Dexter A. See

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Bet files COCs for mayor of 2 towns

By Jennelyn Mondejar

DAGUPAN CITY --A 63-year-old man has filed certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the mayoral post in two towns – San Jacinto and Pozorrubio in the province and local election officials are at loss on what to do.

Benjamin Sornoza Espinoza filed his COC for San Jacinto town mayor as an independent candidate last Nov. 30.

Later that day, though, he also submitted his COC for mayor of Pozorrubio where he said he has been a resident for 15 years.

In his separate COCs, Espinoza listed his addresses as Barangay San Guillermo in San Jacinto and Barangay Maambol in Pozorrubio.

He said he is a registered voter of both towns.He is now the subject of a letter jointly signed by the election officers of San Jacinto and Pozorrubio towns addressed to Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo, through lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan, director of the poll body’s legal department, for action.

Lawyer Reddy Balarbar, provincial election supervisor said in his long years in the Comelec, this is the first time he encountered such a situation.

Balarbar said it would be up to the top Comelec officials to decide on what action to take on Espinoza’s case.

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Confiscated illegal logs intercepted in Dy turf

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca assailed the interception by village officials reportedly identified with Alicia town Mayor Napoleon Dy of four truckloads of lumber which had been “legally” bid out by the provincial government while they were passing through the Dys’ bailiwick town.

The interception of the logs came a day after the Commission on Elections Second Division came out with its decision on the electoral protest of Dy’s elder brother, former governor Benjamin Dy, declaring the elder Dy the real winner of the gubernatorial race in the 2007 elections and ordered Padaca to vacate her post.

“Just a day after the promulgation of the decision favoring the Dys, their arrogant use of power is once again felt,” she said.

“Is this a sign of things to come?” asked the embattled Padaca, who vowed to fight her ouster all the way to the Supreme Court.

A former hard-hitting broadcaster here, Padaca, who defeated then incumbent governor Faustino Dy Jr., the eldest of the Dy scions, in the 2004 elections, ending the family’s hold on to the governorship, which they had held for more than three decades, is seeking her third and final term against another Dy scion, this time outgoing Third District Rep. Faustino Dy III.

The bidding for the intercepted 455,000 board feet of lumber, now being impounded in Alicia town, a known bailiwick of the Dys, had been won by several buyers based in Bulacan and Metro Manila during an auction conducted recently by the provincial government.

The bid-out logs were part of the more than 1.8 million board feet of lumber which had earlier been confiscated by the provincial government’s anti-illegal logging task force, which Padaca had reactivated last year to end illegal logging activities in the province.

Padaca said the provincial government’s bidding for the confiscated illegal logs had the approval of DENR Secretary Lito Atienza and the Natural Resources Development Corp., with the bulk of the proceeds going to provincial coffers.

Mayor Dy, who is running for the congressional seat of his brother Rep. Dy III against the Padaca-backed Vice Gov. Ramon Reyes, belied Padaca’s charges that the interception was a form of harassment against her camp.

“(Our men) were only doing their job and we coordinated this matter with the DENR.”
“Is there anything wrong with confirming if the lumber had all the proper papers for transport?” said Mayor Dy, who said the interception was done not by his political supporters as alleged, but by police and barangay officials.

“We will be releasing the logs if their documents are found to be legal. Besides, the lumber does not belong to Padaca but to the province of Isabela. How then could there be any political harassment?” Dy asked.

According to Padaca, the lumber seized in Alicia town had already undergone clearance from DENR officials and were covered by pertinent papers which made the seizure in Alicia town questionable.

“These logs went through the process of bidding and are covered by pertinent papers. The provincial government has been very strict in observing rules and regulations in everything pertaining to the activities of the (task force),” Padaca said.

“After the capital town of Ilagan where the four trucks took off, they passed through the towns of Gamu, Naguilian, Cauayan and Alicia. Only in Alicia were they held and questioned,” she added. -- CL

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P5 M Cordillera PNP projects completed

By Dexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – The Police Regional Office in the Cordillera recently completed and inaugurated at least P5 million worth of vital infrastructure projects within the 8-hectare property of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to enhance the delivery of services and the moral recovery of the police force and its surrounding community.

Included in the special projects were the over P3 million St. Paul church, which is considered the best PNP church nationwide, the facelift of the camp’s gate, the establishment of a heritage foundation depicting the different political subdivisions in the Cordillera and the so-called Matikas steps in honor of the Philippine Military Academy Matikas Class of 1977.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, regional police director, said funds used for the projects came from their savings in their various activities over the past ten months.

Because of the completion of the new projects, the Benguet tourism council already included Camp Dangwa as a major tourist destination in this vegetable-producing province so that more tourists will be attracted to come and see what the camp could offer for them.

Pestano said they opted not to request for funding support from their national headquarters because they want to show that despite their meager resou7rces, they could still introduce significant improvements for the benefit of the police force and the community they serve.

The police official said the newly-constructed church will not only be used by the camp but it will be open to the public for the Misa de Gallo starting Wednesday and other religious services, especially to those who want to avail of the church’s services in the coming days.

According to him, belt-tightening measures adopted by the leadership of the regional police office over the past ten months translated to better services for the people they serve because the newly-established facilities will be able to cater to the needs of the people as well as to the enhancement of the local tourism industry.

Ms Cynthia Verzosa, wife of PNP chief Director-General Jesus A. Verzosa who was the guest of honor and speaker during the inauguration activities, lauded the cooperation and collaboration displayed by police officials and personnel in their bid to improve the image of the local police force as a steward in the upliftment of the trust and confidence of the people to the men in uniform.

She said self-reliance and resourcefulness displayed by the police leadership in improving the stature of the camp should be replicated in various police camps.

Aside from their savings from their various activities, Pestano disclosed the funds which were used in the completion of his priority projects were raised from their own initiatives through fund-raising activities and solicitations from their benefactors in the international and national scenes, thus, the combined effort is a clear indication that the true Filipino virtue of “bayanihan” is still alive even up to the present generation.

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Comelec assailed for ‘bias’ in Panlilio case

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga– Kapampangan volunteers of the Noynoy Aquino Movement (NAM) have joined multi-sectoral leaders in this province in protesting the alleged bias of the Commission on Elections in the electoral case against Gov. Eddie Panlilio.

They said the bias would eventually lead to the installation of former provincial board member Lilia Pineda in what they described as “part of an overall scheme for the congressional candidacy of President Arroyo.”

The NAM volunteers, led by Paul Quiwa, were among some 100 placard-bearing Kapampangans, including priests, who staged a protest march in Barangay Dolores here the other day.

One placard said, “GMA warlords: Ampatuan sa Maguindanao, Pineda sa Pampanga,” and another, “Maguindanao noon, Pampanga ngayon .”

The placards alluded to political patronage under the Arroyo administration.

After a recount of gubernatorial votes cast in this province in 2007, the Comelec’s Second Division is expected to issue anytime its ruling on the electoral case filed by Pineda who alleged that Panlilio committed anomalies in the polls.

Pineda, who ran under the administration Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party, lost by 1,147 votes to Panlilio, a priest who ran as an independent candidate.

“This is a fight against what is wrong. It is a fight for what is moral. We just cannot allow Lilia Pineda to assume the governorship without violating our Kapampangan conscience,” said Noel Sibal of the Archdiocesan Council of the Laity.

“All intelligent Kapampangans know that Among Ed (Panlilio) could not have cheated in the 2007 elections as claimed by Pineda who had all the resources then,” he said.

Sibal said such a bias would not surprise them if the Comelec’s Second Division finally comes out with a verdict favoring Pineda and ousting Panlilio in time for the May polls next year.

Only recently, the Second Division also came out with a ruling ordering the ouster of Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza based on the electoral protest of former governor Roberto Pagdanganan.

Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca also earlier expressed concern over an electoral protest against her filed by her pro-administration opponent Faustino Dy in the 2007 polls. The Comelec ruled against Padaca Tuesday, unseating her and declaring Dy the winner.

Like Mendoza and Panlilio, Padaca is also now with the Liberal Party.

Fr. Jake Viray, parish priest of Magalang town, alleged that the Comelec’s “expeditious” action on Pineda’s electoral case “was all part of a design that can be related to the congressional candidacy of President Arroyo.”

Mrs. Arroyo has filed her certificate of candidacy in Pampanga’s second congressional district where three virtual unknowns are pitted against her.

Pineda is again running for governor under the administration’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD party against re-electionist Panlilio who has decided to leave the priesthood permanently and recently took his oath as LP member.

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Poll body control, gun ban in N. Ecija pushed

CABANATUAN CITY– The Josons, once the dominant political dynasty in Nueva Ecija, are supportive of proposals for the imposition of a total gun ban and the placing of the province under the control of the Commission on Elections to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections in 2010.

Former four-time governor Tomas Joson III, titular head of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija, told that their family is collectively for the Comelec to take control of the province and for the Philippine National Police to enforce a total gun ban.

“Of course we are in favor of that,” said Joson, who served as governor in 1992,1998,2001 and 2004.

Joson, father of Vice Gov. Edward Thomas, said, however, that while he favors the twin proposals, he also wished that the PNP would only allow a maximum of four security escorts for local politicians, saying others tend to go beyond the allowable limit of security escorts. “If possible, security escorts should be limited to only four,” he said.

While he did not name names, he was apparently referring to politicians, who reportedly are surrounding themselves with dozens of heavily armed bodyguards serving as their private army supposedly due to death threats.

For his part, Ecija governor Aurelio Umali also favors placing the province under Comelec control and even claimed he would not have been governor today if the province had not been placed under the poll body’s control in 2007.

Before the 2007 polls, Umali had asked the Comelec to place the province under its control which the poll body did not immediately act upon.

In March 2007, two persons were killed while 17 others, including the two sons of then-Jaen mayor Antonio Prospero Esqui¬vel, were wounded in a firefight between Esquivel’s camp and supporters of fourth district Rep. Rodolfo Antonino. The incident, considered the bloodiest election-related violence, prompted then-Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos to place the province under its control.

Senior Superintendent Ricardo Marquez, provincial police director, earlier said that some policemen do not tell the truth when it comes to the actual number of loose firearms.

“How can you believe that we only have 200 loose firearms when we have recovered 200 loose firearms in last year’s operation alone?” he asked.

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Only 15 child trafficking cases solved in five years nationwide

EDITORIAL

Only 15 child trafficking cases were solved by different courts nationwide since enactment of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act.

Lawyer Ruth Bernabe, a local prosecutor in this mountain resort city, bared this gloomy scenario saying putting up together a case, especially in child trafficking, is very difficult that only a number of cases are being filed and acted upon by the judiciary over the past five years.

Based on a United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, the Philippines was ranked under Tier 2 watch list because of the Philippine government’s virtual failure to show evidence of progress in convicting trafficking offenders, particularly those possible for labor trafficking.

In the local setting, the Department of Justice reported there were 679 child trafficking cases which were submitted for investigation and resolution, 253 cases awaiting resolution and the rest filed as violations of other penal laws, dismissed or withdrawn.

At the same time, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has served 231 children who were described to be victims of trafficking. Studies conducted by the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) showed number of children being trafficked was steadily increasing over the past several years despite existence of stiff penalties against traffickers. Aside from poverty, PACT cited other factors forcing children to be trafficked include socio-cultural economic and others.

In the Cordillera, while it is considered a child-friendly region because child trafficking cases are not rampant, people may not know what is happening in their surroundings. With the yuletide season, let us give more importance to the children.

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Ampatuan and Comelec blues

BEHIND THE SCENES
Alfred P. Dizon

Somebody should talk with officials of Webster’s Dictionary or Guinness Book of World Records to make “ampatuan” a synonym of “impunity” in the English language. Anyway both terms have the same number of letters and more or less sound the same. You could make it into an adjective or a verb. “Ampatuan” could be pronounced “aim-pay-two-ain” to make it sound stateside. The pronouncement of “impunity” could be revised to conform to “ampatuan” thus -- “aim-pio-naytay” – like the peculiar Australian accent.

You see natay, in the Filipino Ilocano dialect means dead and conformity is a must in Maguindanao. Ampatuan could be made a synonym of impunity considering people all over the globe are now familiar with the name after those CNN and BBC reports.

This, after this character named Andal Ampatuan Jr. was charged as the mastermind in the recent massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao, a province of this Banana Republic called the Philippines. The victims were lawyers, journalists, clan members of a rival tribe, supporters or simply passersby.

To cut the story short, the victims were killed to prevent Vice Mayor Esmael Mangundadatu from filing his certificate of candidacy as governor of the province. His wife who was supposed to file the COC was mutilated and killed along with the others after they were stopped on a remote road by around a hundred men of Ampatuan, some of them reportedly policemen and members of paramilitary units.
***
They were rounded up, the women raped and systematically killed by shooting them in different parts of their body including the children. They were brought to a hill where they were buried in a deep and wide grave along with the vehicles they were riding in.

These scoundrels did the dastardly act with impunity thinking not even the government would dare cross their path as the Ampatuans were credited with giving national administration candidates in the 2007 elections magic votes in what mathematicians and social scientists called “statistically impossible.”

How opposition candidates were able to garner zero as tabulated by the Commission on Elections is one for the Guinness Book of World records. Of course, thinking the government wouldn’t touch them since they helped its candidates last elections, they committed their mea culpa of killing the 57 victims.

According to the Commission on Human Rights, witnesses are now coming out who would testify the Ampatuans not only killed the 57 people but there were also around 200 more who have been killed by them or their henchmen over the years they were in power.
***
How they were also able to amass numerous weapons of destruction like guns, grenades, battle tanks and what have you is also one for the books. They were also accused of using government funds worth millions of pesos like the Internal Revenue Allotment as their own private funds. They had numerous latest model vehicles while their constituents were living in abject poverty. They totally controlled Maguindanao and nobody dared go against them until the latest massacre.

Now, reluctant government big shots and those living in the big house beside the Pasig River are reluctantly and slowly rounding up and charging the perpetrators in court due to public outcry and indignation over the massacre from the national and international levels.

The Ampatuans have been doing things with impunity. Now it is high time we let humanity and the generations to come remember what these scoundrels did by making ampatuan synonymous to impunity, massacre or death. There should be a stronger word for it but I leave that to brighter heads as compared to this coconut of mine.
***
It is a good development the Comelec has finally come to its senses and extended registration of voters up to January next year following a Supreme Court ruling on the matter. In the Cordillera alone, the Comelec regional office admitted it does not yet have a complete list of registered voters in the entire region since it just started validating records of the 266,859 individuals who were able to register from December, 2008 to October 31, 2009 in preparation for the May, 2010 elections.

This and the Comelec still thinks it can run elections May next year through its computerization program. I sent somebody to get results of those who filed their certificates of candidacies in the region a week after the deadline of filing and wonder of wonders, the COCs were still not in. What more if it were election day? I wonder what different kinds of magic would have transpired particularly in counting of votes.

Anyway, based on summary of registration turnout, the regional Comelec claimed earlier projection of only 200,000 registrants increased by 40 percent because of influx of supposed first-time voters for the upcoming polls.

Lawyer Julius Torres, Comelec-Cordillera regional director, said the figure does not only refer to first-time voters but also includes previous voters who transferred, sought reactivation and correction or change in entries in their records.

Benguet recorded the highest number of registrants during the 10-month registration period with 82,062; followed by Mountain Province with 51,223; Abra, 36,033; Baguio City, 35,288; Kalinga, 29,217; Ifugao, 18,733; and Apayao, 14,403.

Regional Comelec officials said they hope to finish review of records before the poll body releases the official count of registration turnout in the region. Comelec officials also said they were coordinating with regional police to lay groundwork for the May elections next year. I wonder what kind of coordination this is. Let us hope it is not a Maguindanao-inspired ampatuan poll counting system.

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‘Moro-moro’ in Maguindanao

PERRYSCOPE
Perry Diaz

“Moro-moro” is a Spanish-era “comedia” (comedy) which depicts a battle between Christians and Moors (Moros). The comedy ends with the Christians always winning and the Moros always losing. A moro-moro is usually a part of a town fiesta since the 17th century. However, it is seldom being played today except by politicians warring for power… and personal gains.

Last Dec. 5, in the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo imposed martial law in the province of Maguindanao. And with lightning speed, the leaders of civil society, the media, the Catholic Church, and opposition political leaders were furious, and rightly so.

The constitution allows the imposition of martial law only when there is rebellion or invasion. There was none. What happened was neither rebellion nor invasion -- it was mass murder. The perpetrators should then be charged with multiple murder, not rebellion. And how could the government prove rebellion when none was committed?

So what exactly President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had in mind when she declared martial law in Maguindanao? Many people were of the opinion that Gloria imposed martial law as a means to an end. Indeed, she is renown for her penchant for Machiavellian machinations -- a grand master of the political chess game.

Bangsamoro Ancestral Domain

In 2008, Gloria attempted to create a Bangsamoro ancestral domain through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). But sensing that the Supreme Court might reject the MOA, she canceled the treaty.

Her unilateral action infuriated the MILF. Immediately, elements of the MILF went on the offensive and struck at government forces as well as civilians. Civilian casualties were heavy and more than 200,000 were displaced. That was the first moro-moro war in Maguindanao.

In my article, “The War Gloria Has Been Waiting For” (August 2008), I wrote: “I am beginning to suspect that the real objective of Gloria was to create a “war,” not the peace that she had been parroting for the past weeks. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record. Indeed, this could be the war that Gloria has been waiting for to put in place a scenario that would ultimately end in a martial law.”

The moro-moro eventually died down. But it proved that Gloria could easily start a war with the Muslims anytime for any reason. Indeed, it was a good “dry run” for a future moro-moro -- the war that she has been waiting for.

Then the Maguindanao massacre happened. It sent shock waves around the world. The alleged perpetrators were members of the powerful and feared Ampatuan clan who have ruled Maguindanao for decades. They maintained a private army of more than 3,000 men armed with government firearms and munitions. They were deputized by Gloria’s government to fight “enemies” of the state… and anyone who criticizes the Ampatuans. It was recently revealed that witnesses were willing to come forward to identify the mass graves of at least 200 critics who were allegedly killed by the Ampatuans and their private armies.

It is a known fact that Gloria was -- or still is -- a close friend and political ally of the Ampatuans. A few days after the massacre, Gloria’s spokesperson, Lorelei Fajardo told the media, “I don’t think the President’s friendship with the Ampatuans will be severed. Just because they’re in this situation doesn’t mean we will turn our backs on them.” Fajardo even cast doubts that the Ampatuans were involved in the massacre when she said, “It doesn’t mean that they are no longer our friends, if ever they indeed committed the crime.”

In my recent article, “Arroyo-Ampatuan Unholy Alliance” (November 2009), I asked, “But why didn’t she divorce herself from her alliance -- or is it ‘unholy alliance’? -- from the powerful Ampatuan clan? Is she scared that if she abandoned them, they would retaliate by unraveling the ‘secrets’ of how they helped her win in Maguindanao in 2004 and deliver a 12-0 sweep of her senatorial candidates in 2007? That would certainly open a can of worms and could cause a political storm that would destroy her politically and further tarnish her checkered image beyond redemption.”

In my opinion, Gloria imposed martial law in Maguindanao to protect the Ampatuans by indicting them for “rebellion” instead of “multiple murder” charges. But it would be hard to convict them for “rebellion” simply because there was no rebellion. The catch is: if the Ampatuans were charged with rebellion and found not guilty -- which is very likely -- that would absolve them of murder, and consequently would inhibit the government from prosecuting them for murder.

Martial law can be extended to other provinces like Agusan del Sur where 75 people were abducted a few days ago by gunmen, and in Basilan island where members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayaff dumped in a park the severed head of one of three persons they kidnapped a month ago.

With martial law in place, Gloria can then suspend the elections in these parts of Mindanao which would then give her an excuse not to proclaim the new president, vice president, and 12 senators elected in the 2010 elections. Since she is expected to win a congressional seat and consequently become the new speaker of the House of Representatives, Gloria would be next in line to become acting president. This would give her time to pursue Charter change to amend the constitution to put in place a parliamentary form of government of which she will head as prime minister.

A few days ago, the second moro-moro war in Maguindanao started when government security forces were attacked by armed men believed to be part of the Ampatuans’ private army. If the moro-moro escalates into an all-out war it could draw other militant groups -- MILF, Abu Sayaff -- into the conflict which would then propel Gloria to rule by martial law for a long time. Is this the moro-moro that Gloria has been waiting for? (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)

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Barangay computerization

NO HOLDS BARRED
Ike Señeres

I had the opportunity to submit a proposal to the Rotary Clubs, in connection with a plan to computerize the barangay units using computers that will be solicited by Our Barangay, Inc. (OBI). As this happened, there were many questions posted on the Yahoo groups of OBI. Please allow me to share some of my thoughts about barangay computerization, in the hope that I could answer some of the questions in the postings.

On the question of previous failures, I think the probable cause is the lack of convergence of the three elements of computerization, namely the infrastructure, the manpower and the content. These three should really converge and compliment each other; otherwise the computer systems will die. I have seen this happen many times in many systems.

As I understand it, Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students (GILAS) has taken on the task of providing internet connections to the public schools. That is a specific task by itself, but it is different from the task of OBI. When and where the two could work together and help each other, we should make it happen. This could be true in the case of local manpower, to maintain the systems on the ground. We could be very strong in this regard, whereas GILAS could be strong in connectivity and we might need their help in that regard.

As I recall, the idea for this came about after we discovered the assets of used computers that could be reformatted and upgraded for barangay use. This our starting point, and I think that we should start from this point. In my proposal, I mentioned the use of used container vans, and we should look at this as another asset that we could tap, to complement our first asset.

Database management is a boring and rigorous task. As other organizations focus on social and political work, they may not be able to sustain their interest in doing technical work. As of now, I have already organized a resource base of technical people who could support OBI at the national and local levels, but these people are not inclined towards social and political concerns.

As mentioned in the postings, GILAS is GLOBE and that is true. It would be good if GLOBE could provide discounted if not free bandwidth to OBI, but if that is not possible, the best approach is to allow the local people to look for the best available local source of bandwidth that could give them the best price at the fastest speed.

As it is generally understood, computerization is practically synonymous with modernization. As we computerize the barangay units, we are giving them the means to modernize the delivery of public services to their own residents. That is a task that they have to do on their own, we will just be giving them the tools to make it happen.

On the question of sustainability, I think that the key to this is to have non-government organizations (NGO) at the barangay level that could partner with OBI in sustaining the computerization project on the ground level. I am using NGO in a general sense, because this could also mean civic groups. This is the reason why I sent a proposal to the Rotary Clubs, in the hope that local clubs could adopt local barangay units by going into MOAs with OBI.

On the question of manpower, I think that it would be best to place the technical volunteers under the guidance and support of our local NGO partners. Although they are volunteers, they will have expenses and it would not be fair if they have to spend using their own funds.

On the question of content, I think that we could give them software templates as they need it, but we should really leave it up to the local people to determine and decide the content that they need at their own level. Hopefully, they could contribute to the gathering of data needed to properly measure our national compliance with the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Anyone who is a user of Linux and other free software is welcome to join this project. Why are we giving away computers to the barangay units? As the mountaineers would tell you, they climb mountains “because it’s there”. This is the same the same reason we have in giving used computers. Besides, it’s such a big waste to not use these at all.
Watch my business show 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in Global News Network (GNN), Channel 21 in Destiny Cable. Email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639293605140 for local cable listings. Visit senseneres@blogspot.com

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Focusing energy on your niche

BUSINESS BITS
Aileen Santos

Take it from the experts: entrepreneurs who succeed are those who have a solution to a specific problem For big corporations it's called "branding," but for currently small- and medium- sized businesses it's called "nichefying." Either way, we're talking about the same thing: the process of building a reputation for having the best product or being the best company to go to if you want a solution to a specific problem.

A recent survey of entrepreneurs found that the most successful ones are those who embrace an important truth: Entrepreneurship is about solving the problems of society, not just starting a business for one's own sake.

In his seminars, entrepreneurial coach and author Mike Litman often tells his audiences that "You are all problem solvers!" and points out that everything in this world was created as a solution to a problem.

The telephone (and all its descendants), for example, was created to solve a communication problem. The razor solves a grooming problem, specific medications solve specific health problems, and games or gadgets solve the problem of boredom. Litman recommends that, when thinking about which specific problem you solve through your product, service, or business, you become as focused and as concise as possible.

"The narrower you go," says Litman, "the more uniform the challenges get, and the more easily you become an expert in the specific field versus a generalist in several [fields]." It now actually seems like a compliment when you say that someone is a Jack (or Jill) of All Trades. There's nothing wrong about this for most people.

But if you want to become a success at the business that you're in, being a Jack means people can't tell you apart from every other business out there; while being a Master could mean people talk about your business to their family and friends, AND remember you for a long time.
Millionaire Coach Milana Leshinsky says that many people in her industry never get past the start up phase of their business and continue to struggle for a long time simply because they refuse to pick and focus on a niche.

"Working inside a niche market does not mean that you will not work with anyone else," says Leshinsky. "It simply means that you make a decision to focus all your time, efforts, and resources on becoming THE solution in one given area."

"One of the quickest ways to get over (entrepreneurial worry and being overwhelmed) is to think not in terms of what you want to get, but what you're giving," says Thomas L. Harrison, author of Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals. "Entrepreneurs who are successful genuinely believe they are offering a way to do things better -- a better product, a better service, a better talent."

And when you focus on what you're offering to make the world a better place, you not only take your focus away from yourself: you also become more inspiring to the people you?re trying to help.

(Aileen Santos is an internationally certified Work-Life ReInvention Coach and A-Ha! Trainer who helps overwhelmed leaders and entrepreneurs achieve balance and success in the things that truly matter. If you want more "LightBulb Moments" of clarity and direction for your own situation, sign up for her free tips at LightBulbOnYourHead.com.)

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No violent takeover of capitol: I'm still governor despite Comelec oust order: Padaca

>> Sunday, December 13, 2009

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Embattled Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca Wednesday said the ruling of the Commission on Elections unseating her and installing her rival, former governor Benjamin Dy, was not yet final and executory.

“Nothing has changed. I’m still the governor of Isabela even if the Comelec’s Second Division came out with (the adverse) ruling,” Padaca said in a radio interview.

A former broadcaster known for her hard-hitting commentaries during her Bombo Radyo years here, Padaca said there was a process still to be followed before Dy could take over her post.

This, as Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronnie Puno said they are still waiting orders from the Comelec on its ruling on the electoral case against Padaca.

“We are still waiting for the formal implementing order or order of execution so when that comes then we will serve it,” Puno said.

Meanwhile, the Dy clan said Thursday there would be no violent takeover of the provincial capitol following Comelec ruling unseating Padaca.

“We will never use force or violence in assuming our duly elected post. Let’s wait for the legal process to take its course,” said Dy, whose family had held the governorship for more than three decades until they lost it in 2004 to Padaca, who defeated Dy’s elder brother, then incumbent governor Faustino Dy Jr., in a landslide victory.

This developed as Padaca reportedly issued Special Order 27, Series of 2009 informing provincial department heads and employees that she is still the governor.

“It’s service as usual (in the provincial government). The Comelec decision is not yet final and executory,” said Padaca, adding that her lawyers are set to file a motion for reconsideration before the entire Comelec to contest the Second Division’s ruling.

Benjamin Dy appealed to his supporters to remain calm, saying they have filed a motion before the Comelec for a writ of execution on the ruling declaring him winner in the 2007 gubernatorial race.

“We are not rushing everything. We go by the process. Anyway, it’s more important that the true will of the people has already come out,” he said.

A former three-term governor himself, Dy, 57, said the Comelec ruling favoring his election protest against the 46-year-old Padaca was not only a victory for him and his family but also for “the people of Isabela.”

In the official count of the 2007 gubernatorial race, Padaca, seeking her second term, got 237,128 votes against Dy’s 220,121, or a margin of 17,207.

The Dys, however, accused the Padaca camp of electoral fraud. The Padaca camp, for its part, though filed a counter-protest, raising the same charges.

But after a recount, the Comelec’s Second Division said in its 12,092-page ruling that Dy got 199,435 votes against Padaca’s 198,384, giving Dy a winning margin of 1,051 votes.

“We are receiving this news with mixed emotions, especially since this (electoral protest) has been what we have been waiting for 30 months,” said Dy’s younger brother, third district Rep. Faustino Dy III, who belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

A Liberal Party member, Padaca is seeking her third and final term as governor against the congressman, who is also the Lakas-Kampi-CMD official candidate. Their running mates are Reps. Edwin Uy (second district) and Rodito Albano (first district), respectively.

Padaca, who accused the Dys of portraying her as a cheater, described the Comelec decision as “very saddening but not surprising.”

The Comelec decision was met with criticisms, particularly from stalwarts of the Liberal Party, to which Padaca and Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza, who was earlier ousted from his post, too, belong.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, LP’s presidential candidate, said “the ruling was an example of Malacañang’s systematic way of crippling the critics of the crooked and abusive Arroyo administration. The (administration) will continue to silence those who want change.”

Aquino said they would not be cowed by these moves.

“We can see that Maguindanao is a result of a government addicted to corruption and drunk in power. The Filipino nation is already enraged. We will not stop until we are able to end irregularities and hopelessness through a clean and trustworthy government,” Aquino said.

Sen. Mar Roxas, Aquino’s running mate, also slammed the Comelec for allowing itself to be used by the Arroyo administration for its “vendetta” politics against local executives who have allied themselves with the opposition.

“What is at stake here is the credibility of the Comelec and the 2010 elections. Why did Comelec officials allow their institution to be used by Malacañang for its bullying tactics against its critics?” Roxas asked.

Malacañang, however Dec. 9 denied it had anything to do with the Comelec decision unseating Padaca.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita advised all the parties concerned to just follow the rule of law, saying members of the opposition are always expected to blame the Palace for their problems.

President Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who had Padaca as one of his clients before, said the Comelec ruling “is a big blow to the integrity of the Melo Commission.” He was referring to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo.

“I don’t know how we could still trust Comelec with this kind of decision in future cases involving candidates in the 2010 elections. I have some clients who are victims of scandalous decisions of the Comelec. What a shame,” Macalintal said.

The Comelec, however, insisted on its independence amid the criticisms. “Whatever happened was a simple and very mechanical appreciation of the ballots. It was just shown that some ballots were appreciated wrongly or they were appreciated in a manner that should have been based on the evidence at hand,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

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Comelec exec ired by Bulacan gov's lawyer

By George Trillo

BULACAN-Tension ran high at the session hall of the Commission on Elections Thursday when a lawyer infuriated commissioners handling the electoral protest involving the gubernatorial seat of Bulacan.

Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, who presides over the Comelec’s Second Division, banged his gavel several times to stop lawyer Roque Bello, legal counsel of unseated Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza, from talking. In the process, the gavel’s head broke.

Last Dec. 1, the Comelec directed Mendoza to step down as it declared former governor Roberto Pagdanganan the winner in the 2007 elections.

The Second Division ruled that Pagdanganan obtained a winning margin of 4,321 votes over Mendoza when the ballots from the province underwent revision.

Records show that Pagdanganan got a total of 342,295 votes against Mendoza’s 337,974 votes after the recount.

Mendoza has filed a motion for reconsideration, while Pagdanganan has submitted a petition seeking the immediate release of a writ of execution to force the former to vacate his seat.

In Dec. 10 hearing , Bello, in a loud voice, questioned the Comelec process in hearing the petition for the writ of execution, prompting Ferrer to bang the gavel repeatedly to stop Bello from further arguing, until the gavel’s head broke. Ferrer then adjourned the hearing.

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Family tandems vying for P’sinan mayor, vice posts

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – It’s either father and son, father and daughter, or husband and wife tandems vying for the mayoralty and vice mayoralty posts in this province in elections next year.

Mayor Roy Macanlalay of Calasiao town who is now on his third term is sliding down to the position of vice mayor while his son, Councilor Mark Roy Macanlalay is eyeing the mayoralty post in the 2010 polls. Both are running under Lakas-Kampi-CMD-Biskeg na Pangasinan ticket.

In the capital town of Lingayen, re-electionist Mayor Ernesto “Jonas” Castañeda Jr. has his daughter Sheila Castañeda-Gonzales as his running mate, both under Lakas-Kampi-CMD-Biskeg na Pangasinan party.

In Basista town, Orlando de Guzman, running for mayor under Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) has his brother Ferdinand de Guzman as his running mate.

In San Manuel town, graduating Ma-yor Salvador Perez is also going one post lower as vice mayor while his son, Vice Mayor Alain Jerico Perez is going one notch higher as mayor. Both are under the Nationalist People’s Coalition ticket.

In Labrador, George Vinoya, the incumbent vice mayor, is trying his luck for the next higher post as mayor under the NPC with his father-in-law, incumbent Mayor Ernesto Acain, sliding down as his vice mayor under Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

San Carlos City has brothers Mayor Julier Resuello and Vice Mayor Joseres Resuello seeking re-election under Lakas-Kampi-CMD-Biskeg na Pangasinan.

In Aguilar town, Clarita Evangelista of the NPC is eyeing the mayoralty post while her husband, Mayor Ricardo Evangelista under Lakas-Kampi-CMD who is now in his third term, is her tandem for vice mayor.

In San Fabian, Irene Libunao is running for mayor while her husband, graduating Mayor Mojamito Libunao Jr. is eyeing the post of board member of Pangasinan’s fourth district. Both are under NPC-Biskeg na Pangasinan.

First district board member Alicia Pulido (PMP) is bent on returning to her post as mayor of Anda while her daughter, Maki Pulido is eyeing the congressional seat under PMP-Biskeg na Pangasinan.

First district Rep. Arthur Celeste who is now on his third term is seeking the mayoralty post in Alaminos City while his two brothers, Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste is seeking re-election and former Bolinao mayor Jesus Celeste is hoping to inherit his brother’s throne as congressman. All are running under Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Meanwhile, Gov. Amado Espino Jr. is seeking re-election while his son, Bautista Mayor Amado Espino III is running unopposed in his re-election bid. Both are candidates of Lakas-Kampi-CMD-Biskeg na Pangasinan.

Second district Rep. Victor Agbayani who is making a comeback bid as governor has his wife, Dr. Jamie Eloise Agba-yani as congressional candidate, both under the Liberal Party.

Agbayani’s brother, Luis Agbayani, is also trying his luck again to  regain his old post as mayor of Sual town as an independent candidate.

Re-electionist Rosales Mayor Ricardo Revita (Lakas) has also his wife, Patricia Revita running also as mayor of Balungao town under Biskeg na Pangasinan.

Fifth district board member Danilo Uy (NPC-Biskeg) is seeking re-election while his wife, Myrna Bell Uy is running for vice mayor of Binalonan under NPC while their son Dennis Uy is running for vice mayor of Pozorrubio town.

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PNP: No harassment, racial slur in eviction of squatters

By Dexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Police authorities here denied harassing and issuing alleged racial slurs against hundreds of squatters who erected their houses within the 8-hectare property of the Philippine National Police saying they are just doing their duty to preserve and protect the property from informal settlers.

Contrary to the claim of some squatters that they are being intimidated, Chief Supt. Samuel B. Diciano, deputy regional director for administration of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera, said informal settlers, some of which are members of the PNP based in the camp, are using tactics to divert the attention of the public from the real issue that they have built their homes in government property, thus, they must be evicted to pave the way for the implementation of important projects for the welfare of the police force.

Based on available records, the 176 squatters were already given notices to vacate the premises of the camp during the tenure of Director Eugene G. Martin as regional director last Jan. 9 but the supposed eviction of the informal settlers could be traced to as early as 2001.

But informal settlers signed an agreement with Director Martin that they will temporarily occupy the structures they have reacted within the camp acknowledging that they do not own the property and they will voluntarily demolish their houses once the PNP needs the same.

According to Diciano, it is unfair for some of the squatters who are secretly trying to create a rift between him and police officers from the Cordillera by alluding to him irresponsible statements against Igorots.

“We have been working with Igorots for the past 24 years, thus, we could not afford to malign them because almost all those under us are Igorots and we respect each other,” he stressed.
On the issue on the alleged transfer of police officers who refuse to voluntarily demolish their houses, Diciano said transfer of police personnel lies in the discretion of the commander which has been a common practice over the past several decades, citing it is unfair to connect every move of the PNP leadership to the squatting problem in the military reservation.

The PNP plans to construct a 200-bed capacity quarters for police non-commissioned officers as well as put up a materials recovery facility in accordance to the marching orders of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the spaces occupied by the squatters.

Under the PNP regulations, squatting is considered a grave misconduct of police commissioned and non-commissioned officers which is punishable by dismissal from the service if those charged are found guilty.

Initially, 20 active police personnel, including several police officers, have already voluntarily demolished their respective houses contrary to the misinformation that widespread demolition has already been effected within the premises of the military reservation since the PNP is still observing leniency to prevent whatever conflict that could arise between the informal settlers and law enforcers in the future.

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MP elections next year tagged ‘most colorful’: 371 political aspirants file COCs in Mt Prov

By Juliet B. Saley and Angel Baybay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Next year’s election in this province could be one of the most colorful political exercises with personalities of impressive backgrounds having formalized their intent to run.

A total of 371 political aspirants are vying for the various elective positions in the province.

The congressional seat is contested by incumbent Gov. Maximo B. Dalog (Lakas-Kampi-CMD); former Sabangan mayor Jupiter C. Dominguez (Independent); Thomas Perry A. Killip (Independent); incumbent Bontoc mayor Franklin C. Odsey (Aksyon Demokratiko); and Arnulfo S. Pilando (Independent).

In the gubernatorial race, the candidates are Vice Gov. Louis F. Claver, Jr.(Liberal Party); Harry C. Dominguez (Nationalist People’s Coalition); Boardmembers Ezra Samson A. Gomez (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino) and Marcial C. Lawilao, Jr. (Lapiang Manggagawa); Atty. Leonard G. Mayaen (Nacionalista Party); and Albert G. Padayos (Indep.).

Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr., Glenn L. Manao and Arbee C. Talastas, all independent candidates are contesting the vice governor seat.

For the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, there are 12 candidates for the four positions in District I (composed of the municipalities of Barlig, Bontoc, Natonin, Paracelis and Sadanga).

They are Bontoc councilor Cyril L. Bacala (LalakspKampi-CMD), Marcelino T. Balaso, Jr. (NP), Larry P. Banganan (Ind.), Carlos M. Florencio (LP) Dionisio B. Chungalan (NP), Ciriaco M. Filog (LP), Jimmy K. Galingan (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), Alfonso L. Kiat-ong, Sr. (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), Raul M. Lapon (NP), Johnny V. Lausan (Ind.), incumbent boardmember Carino S. Tamang (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), and Reynaldo F. Tawaran (Ind.).

Incumbent board members Randolph T. Awisan (NP) and Salavador K. Dalang (LP), Sorero A. Gullod, Alexander C. Maday-a (NPC), Bauko councilor Carmelita M. Masidong (Ind.), Tadian mayor Constito S. Masweng (Lalaks-Kampi- CMD), lawyer Michael A. Patting (Ind.), and Dr. Joseph B. Solang (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), are vying for the four positions in District II ccovering the municipalities of Bauko, Besao, Sabangan, Sagada and Tadian.

There are 34 aspirants in the mayoralty race for the 10 municipalities of Mt. Province with the municipality of Paracelis having the most in number with eight candidates followed by Sadanga with five.

Only the municipality of Sabangan has an unopposed candidate for the mayoralty race. He is incumbent mayor Donato L. Danglose (Lakas-Kampi-CMD).

The vice mayor seat is a fight between incumbent vice mayor Avelino O. Tolean and Joseph B. Bernardez (NPC). 18 candidates are aspiring for the eight seats for the Sangguniang Bayan.

In Bauko, it is a fight between incumbent mayor Simon C. Lacwasan (Lalas-Kampi-CMD) and Abraham B. Akilit (Partido Liberal ng Pilipinas).In the vice mayoralty race, incumbent vice mayor Jose B. Tanggacan (NP) is challenged by Rafael G. Bulasoy and Rodolfo A. Patnaan, both independent candidates. 30 candidates are aspiring for the eight seats of the SB.

In Barlig, the mayoralty race is contested by Ferdinand M. Charaychay (LP), Albert C. Kiwan (Ind.) and incumbent vice mayor Edmund C. Sidchayao (NP).
Candidates for the vice mayor seat are Pio S. Cupasan (NPC) and councilor Benjamin C. Pinos-an (NP). Barlig has 36 candidates for the SB.

In Besao, incumbent mayor Wellington B. Pooten (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) is being challenged by Pablo S. Dicdican (Ind.) , while incumbent vice mayor David Ballang (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) is opposed by John M. Antiyag and Harry L. Baliaga both independent candidates. 29 candidates are vying for the SB.

The position of mayor for Bontoc is being aspired by Vice Mayor John T. Diaz (Ind.), ABC President Pascual A. Sacgaca, Sieghfred N. Fatongkeg, and lawyer Florence N. Taguiba (NP.

The vice mayoralty race is a fight between councilor Bryan Byrd B. Bellang and William A. Aspilan. There are 35 candidates contesting for the eight seats for councilor.

In Natonin, candidates for mayor include incumbent vice mayor Juan Henry A. For-og (Lalas-Kampi-CMD), Mateo L. Chiyawan (LP), Patrick Baguingan and Juanito M. Cafongtan, Jr. both independent candidates.

Councilors Rodolfo D. Liwanen and Mataram A. Lumines (NP) and Fernando S. Magranga, Jr. (Ind.) are candidates for the vice mayor seat while 32 candidates are vying for the eight SB seats.

In Paracelis, incumbent mayor Pedro A. Almeda, Sr.(Lakas-Kampi-CMD) is challenged by boardmember Luke M. Wanason, councilor Casiano D. Agagon, Jr., Avelino C. Amangyen, Rogelio M. Banggot, Ernesto B. Gunday, Sr., Emilio B. Pinangga all independent candidates and Mario D. Madanom (Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino) for the mayoralty position.

Councilor Marcelo T. Ambatali, Antonio B. Cayyog both independent candidates and Norma Enriqueta B. Rafael (NP) are contesting for the vice mayor seat, while 36 candidates are aspiring for the eight seats for the councilor.

In Sadanga, the mayoralty race is contested by Mary G. Fagto (Lakas-Kampi- CMD), former mayor Gabino P. Ganggangan (LP), Albert A. Limmayog (NP, councilor Graldo F. Ackut, Jr. and Arthur S. Agpad.

The vice mayor seat is a fight between councilors Joseph N. Apopot and Laurence A. Farong-ey c while 51 candidates are vying for the eight councilor seats.

In the municipality of Tadian, mayoralty position is contested by vice mayor Febe S. Cawilan, Liberato P. Domingo and lawyer Anthony D. Wooden.

Councilors Laurence P. Atipen and Joseph G. Cawili (NP) and Denys S. Pecdaen are contesting for the vice mayor seat. Tadian has 19 candidates bet for the 8 seats allotted for the SB.

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Valera’s wife, 3 others vie for Abra congressional post

By Myds Supnad

BANGUED, Abra -- Ma. Zita “Ching” Valera, wife of detained former governor Vicsyd Valera and three other candidates will vie for the lone congressional district of Abra in the May elections next year.

Based on their certificates of candidacy filed before the Commission on Elections office here, Ching Valera (Nationalista Party) will challenge reelectionist Rep. Cecille Luna (Lakas-Kampi) whom they accused of stealing their victory last elections.

Vicsyd filed a protest against Luna but this was dismissed by the poll body.

The two other candidates for congress are Mailed Molina, ousted chief of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and Joy Bernos, wife of slain Mayor Ysrael Bernos of La Paz town.

In the gubernatorial battle, reelectionist Gov. Takits Bersamin will be challenged by Lizardo Senogo and Gil Valera.

In the mayoral race in Bangued, reelectionist Mayor Dominic Valera will be challenged by Ryan Luna, son of Rep. Luna.

The Lunas and Mayor Valera were once allied in last 2007 election.

For vice gubernatorial battle, it will be one on one between Beth Zayda Alzate and Mayor Rolando Somera of Pilar town.

Local leaders here have earlier signed a peace accord for the holding of a peaceful election.

Ching Valera said she wanted to retake the congressional post to “redeem” the name of her family after her husband Vicsyd was accused of masterminding the brutal killing of Rep. Chito Bersamin.

Vicsyd is now detained at Quezon City jail for double murder charges, a non-bailable offense.
Abrenos said the the congressional battle would be a tough fight between Ching and Rep. Luna since both of them have their own political machinery and large amounts of money.

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