Operations ‘toned down’ before SONA: Northern Luzon jueteng lords defy Aquino order

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

BAGUIO CITY– Jueteng operations are still ongoing in this tourism resort city, Benguet province and other parts of northern Luzon despite a directive of President Aquino to stop the illegal numbers game even as some operations were ‘toned down” at press time reportedly in anticipation of the State of the Nation Address of the President tomorrow, sources said.

A warning of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo here during his recent visit that officers and men of the Philippine National Police would be subjected to lifestyle checks if illegal gambling, particularly jueteng, will be discovered in their areas of jurisdiction was reportedly not heeded by operators and their “protectors.”

There was reportedly a lull in operations but jueteng collectors were back on the streets after he left.

Robredo told local and police officials in the Cordillera that the campaign of the national government against jueteng is an all-out war that will be waged into the lowest ranks of the police force who are supposedly in charge of curbing illegal gambling in their areas of assignments.

Baguio and Benguet are known strongholds of jueteng because several jueteng lords in Central and Northern Luzon are trying to outwit each other to gain control of gambling operations in the two juicy places.

In the coming days, Robredo will be meeting with officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to discuss a more systematic way on how the controversial Small town Lottery (STL) will be able to be used in eventually stopping illegal gambling nationwide.

According to him, if previous DILG officials were not able to sustain their campaign against jueteng, the Aquino administration should be given a fair chance of doing their own thing in stopping jueteng since their effort will be a relentless operation that will not adhere to political pressure to be exerted on them since it is the order of President Aquino, the highest leader of the land.

Considering that they will be hounded by stiff opposition from numerous local and police officials who are benefitting from jueteng operations, Robredo said political will is needed in order to what the top to bottom jueteng payola being given out by the jueteng lords to maintain their operations in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Jueteng, the so-called poor man’s game, was the root cause of the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada who was booted out of power through the People Power Revolution II due to allegations of huge jueteng payola given to him by gambling lords.

Robredo said the police plays an important role in curbing jueteng, thus, more efforts must be exerted by law enforcement agencies in order to go against jueteng bet collectors who often do their trade in front of the noses of the police which is an insult to the men in uniform or an indication that they are involved in the take of the substantial jueteng payola being circulated in their level.

Based on insiders in the jueteng trade, the illegal gambling operations in a certain area is approved by the concerned local chief executive and the provincial, city and municipal chiefs of police.

He said the 1, 2 or 3-strike policy being enforced by the leadership of the Philippine national Police (PNP) on their chiefs of police, saying that it is just part of the corruption circle considering that the jueteng payola being given to them trickles down to the lowly policeman on the field but on a limited basis.

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Ifugao fishkill caused by sulfur

LAGAWE, Ifugao — High sulfur concentration in the water caused the fish kill in low-lying towns of this province last week which resulted in losses amounting to P30 million.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources bared this after their probe results of several laboratory tests of water samples taken from the affected fish ponds showed sulphuric water coming from the eroded mountain caused the death of thousands of tilapia in the municipalities of Lamut and Lagawe.

BFAR representatives said explained that continuous rains in northern Luzon last week eroded the top portion of one of the mountains here, bringing down sulphuric water to the Ibulao River.

The Ibulao River is the source of fresh water of all the fish ponds in the two municipalities where the fish kill happened.

Since rains started, water running in the Ibulao River had a murky color which caused alarm among fisherfolk and farmers whose production of fishes and agricultural crops were greatly affected by the bad state of water supplying their fish ponds and farms.

At the same time, the BFAR office based in the Cordillera and the Provincial Agriculture and Environment Office found another reason why there was a sudden fish kill in the two towns is that people living along the Ibulao River, the largest river system in the province, throw their garbage in the river which has contributed in the worsening pollution of the body of water providing water supply for fish ponds and farms below it.

Considering the lack of fish supply in the province due to the fish kill, prices of tilapia, popularly raised in the fresh waters here, have gone up to P100 per kilo which is way beyond the gate price and the previous prevailing prices.

As initial assistance to affected fisherfolk, the provincial government distributed free fingerlings to affected fish producers.

Moreover, the provincial and municipal governments will conduct a frequent monitoring of the households living along the river in order to prevent them from dumping their wastes in the water which could result to massive pollution and again affect the fish production of fisherfolk living below it who use the water for their fish ponds.

Aside from rice and vegetable farming, fish production is one of the major sources of livelihood of the people, especially those living in the low-lying areas, because of the abundant water supply from the Cordillera watersheds.

The BFAR will also distribute the needed assistance to affected fisherfolks for them to recover losses which they suffered due to the fish kill that affected over 40 hectares if fish ponds in the two towns. – Dexter A. See

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Former Kalinga town vice mayor shot dead

TABUK CITY, Kalinga– A former Kalinga town vice mayor was shot dead here Wednesday evening but police ruled out politics saying he was accidentally killed for trying to mediate a verbal shouting match between two hot heads.

Chief Insp. Bobby Glen Ganipac Tabuk police head said former Tanudan town vice mayor Gilbert Anganay was trying pacify his drinking buddies Santos Wacnang and another village mate inside a karaoke bar in this city when the incident happened.

Wacnang reportedly pulled off his Cal.45 pistol and aimed at his foe but the former vice mayor went in between.

A shot was fired and Anganay was hit on his chest.

He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead before arrival while Wacnang was arrested and thrown in jail.

He will be facing to face homicide charges even as police said there won’t be any tribal war as a result of the incident because all those involved are grom the same tribe in Tanudan.

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Dalog’s ‘sudden’ LP membership questioned amid graft allegations

By Gina Dizon


BONTOC, Mountain Province – Rep. Maximo Dalog’s “sudden” membership” in the Liberal Party despite allegations of graft and corruption filed against him is being questioned by regional and provincial LP stalwarts.

Provincial LP chairman Louis Claver said he was “surprised” over Dalog’s membership even as the latter’s critics said he was one among 24 defectors who ran as Lakas-Kampi -CMD member under former President Gloria Arroyo in the May elections.

Claver, a lawyer and former vice-governor said he was “not informed of the former governor’s (Dalog) intention to join the Liberal Party”.

Dalog took his oath as LP member on June 25 and supported the Speakership of LP member Rep. Sonny Belmonte in Congress.

LP members of the province , Baguio and other parts of the Cordillera said they were shocked at the sudden oath-taking of Dalog considering there was no endorsement from the provincial level before his application should have been approved by the National Organizing and Membership Commission of the party.

The LP constitution provides “an application for membership in the Party shall be submitted to the provincial, district, city or municipal committee of applicant’s residence, which shall have the authority to recommend its approval or disproval to the NOMC of the Party.”

LP rules however provide “applications may also be submitted to and approved directly by the Party President.”

Earlier, LP coordinator for Sagada municipality of this province Salvador Liked in his letter to LP Chairman Franklin Drilon asked Drilon to “reconsider the entry of Dalog as member of the Liberal Party”.

He informed Drilon of cases of corruption allegedly committed by Dalog including reported corruption of calamity funds and widespread vote buying.

Liked followed this up with a recent letter to LP Chairman Emeritus Jovito Salonga informing Salonga of Dalog’s “glaring disregard of the law” being contradictory to the basic principles of Liberal Party on social justice.

He further asked Salonga to reconsider Dalog’s membership to the LP.

Claver said other provincial LP members await resolution from the LP leadership following Liked’s complaint.

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La Union oil slick now under control

By Jerry Padilla


SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The oil slick from a busted underground pipe of an oil company here has been controlled and prevented from breaching into coastal waters, authorities declared Thursday.

The city government, the Philippine Coast Guard and the management of Flying V Corp. reported Thursday there was no contamination of sea water, following a leakage of 2,000 liters of unleaded gasoline in Poro Point, here.

Flying V, owner of the busted pipelines, said appropriate equipment were brought in to suck the seepage and vowed to treat the affected land by the breakwater.

The oil seepage occurred Wednesday but alert residents and employees of Flying V were quick to report it to the local police and the PCG so that swift action on the matter was made.

Mayor Pablo Ortega earlier ordered fast cleaning and coordination with Coast Guard and Environment officials in containing the unleaded gasoline that has leaked into the sea from a break in the pipeline of the Flying V fuel depot in Poro Point here Tuesday.

Barangay councilor Butch Funesto, Poro Point pollution control officer, said the accident occurred while the M/T King Jr. was unloading gasoline through the pipeline to the fuel depot.

Funesto said the pipeline leaked because of the heavy pressure of gasoline being unloaded from the vessel.

“The pipe is only six inches in diameter. Usually the standard size should be eight inches in diameter so it can accommodate the load from the ship going to the fuel storage,” Funesto explained.

Funesto said more than 30,000 liters of unleaded gasoline has leaked out as of noon July 20, some of which has already reached the coast.

Funesto said a spill boom was installed along the seashore to contain the spill.

Two tankers of Flying V were rushed to the scene to pump out the gasoline while some residents in the coastal areas tried to collect the spill in plastic containers.

Ortega ordered Flying V to speed up the cleaning and coordinate efforts with the Coast Guard and environment officials to contain the spill before it would affect the sea and the ground water.

The gasoline spill comes in the aftermath of last week’s bunker fuel leak in the Petron pipeline in Rosario, Cavite.

The Coast Guard had ordered the deferral in the flushing of the estimated 60,000 liters of bunker oil from the Petron depot in Cavite to allow sealing off the leakage in the 2.6-kilometer pipeline.

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Man hypnotized by 2 women; loses P.4M

By Jun R. Guiang


LAOAG CITY (July 2l)--Two budol-budol matrons apparently hypnotized and gypped a 73-year-old man here after he withdrew P365,000 cash from his bank deposit.

Victim Andres Labao a.ka.Nelson, 73, of Barangay Salet this city, said he met the two female suspects who befriended him and they even took a snack in a nearby store.

Back home, he discovered that he was tricked when he forcibly opened the bag locked with with a mini padlock handed to him by the suspects.

To his surprise, the bag contained cut newspaper in money size.

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Beneco to refund P64M to 120,000 consumers

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The management of the Benguet Electric Coop. here will refund to its over P120,000 consumers around P64 million pursuant to separate orders handed down by the Energy Regulatory Commission as upheld by the Court of Appeals.

Out of the said amount P33.9 million will be refunded to the consumers as alleged over collection of the controversial power purchase adjustment (PPA), P29.5 million as loan condonation and at least P1.06 million representing meter deposits.

Gerardo P. Verzosa, Beneco general manager, said the refund for the loan condonation was reflected in the monthly power bills of the consumers while the refund for PPA and meter deposits will be implemented in the July billing of the residential and commercial consumers.

However, the ERC decision is not only applicable to the rural electric cooperative in Baguio and Benguet but the same is also applicable to other large, medium and small electric cooperatives nationwide after the regulating body found out that the power firms have allegedly over collected the controversial PPA to their respective member consumers.

During the time of the Energy Regulatory Board, Beneco was adjudged one of the most outstanding rural cooperatives because of reported under collections in the PPA for a good number of years but when the regulating body was replaced by ERC, there was a sudden change in decision and declared BENECO and other rural electric cooperatives to have reportedly over collected the said pass on rate.

Considering that the CA ruling regarding their question on the alleged flawed ERC decision has attained finality, he revealed the cooperative will implement the refund on a staggered basis in order to preserve and protect the interest of the utility company which is servicing non-viable remote villages in the province.

Baguio city accounts for over 85 percent of the total number of Beneco consumers but the source of power comes from the hydroelectric power plants based in Benguet.

According to him, the refund to the consumers will not significantly affect their performance in delivering quality and efficient power to its consumers since the refund was computed in such a way that no service of the cooperative will be compromised.

Despite the order for the utility company to refund a substantial part of its resources to the consumers, Verzosa assured consumers there will be no interruption of their service except during scheduled power outages by the national Grid Corporation of the Philippines and that their efficiency and effectiveness will not be affected.

Moreover, the power firm will continuously implement their expansion projects in order to address the growing demand for power considering the rapid influx of investors in the Baguio, Benguet area which has recorded multi-billion investments over the past several years.

Part of its expansion project is the purchase of a 1.2-hectare lot within the heart of Baguio City which will become the one-stop shop of the power firm as well as the site where 2 50mva substations will be constructed to address the power demand of the two areas in the next 30 years. -- Dexter A. See

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Singson elected chair of provinces 

By Teddy Molina


Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson was elected chairman of the 80-member League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) that aims to forge closer partnerships with the national government and improve investment climate in the country.

Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra, who was appointed spokesman of the LPP, said the league’s new officers were elected on July 20 at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel in Manila during its first regular assembly.

Elected president was Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr. while Camarines Sur Gov. LRay Villafuerte was elected executive vice president and representative to the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

Other elected LPP officers are Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, vice president for Luzon; Iloilo Gov. Art Defensor, vice president for the Visayas; Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, vice president for Mindanao; Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares, treasurer; Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, auditor; Aurora Gov. Bella Angara-Castillo, assistant treasurer; Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, deputy secretary generals for Luzon; Siquijor Gov. Orlando Fua, deputy secretary general for the Visayas; and Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles, deputy secretary general for Mindanao.

Mitra, Northern Samar Gov. Paul Daza, and Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez were designated spokesmen for Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, respectively.

Mitra said the LPP will be working on forging “stronger partnerships and cooperation” with the national government.

He said the LPP will also try to work on a “counterparting” scheme on key projects where local governments and the national government would share the financial burden for faster implementation.

“We will work on synergy, cohesion and cooperation among (LPP) members as well as with the national government,” Mitra said.

He added that the LPP will also undertake a “shared learning” project where provincial governments will share their best practices and successes in dealing with various crises and difficulties to other LPP members.

He said the LPP, for the first time, will hold monthly meetings to bring its members closer and be able to assist each other.

Mitra said the LPP officers and members met with President Aquino over dinner on Tuesday and he asked the governors to help the country be more attractive to investors.

Mr. Aquino cited the difficulties encountered by investors in provinces like right-of-way andtaxation issues. “The President said if there are difficulties or issues raised by investors, the governors must also try to resolve them early,” Mitra said.

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DOTC uncovers 807 more fake franchises in Baguio, Benguet

By Dexter A. See


BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Transportation and Communication has uncovered 807 fraudulently issued franchises to public utility vehicles in the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba (BLIST).

These were fake certificates of public convenience (CPCs) for various types of public utility vehicles.

Lawyer Federico J. Mandapat Jr., DOTC regional director, said the illegally issued franchises ballooned to over 2,000 which is causing serious problems on traffic, especially in the city’s central business district area and other urban centers.

To correct the erroneously and fraudulently issued franchises, the DOTC is working for the legalization of such franchises considering that owners have reportedly invested a substantial amount in securing the vital documents to gain the CPCs to operate taxis, jeepneys, buses and garage vans

Mandapat said fake franchises had non-existent case numbers, double entries and
questionable motions in docketing of said records which caused doubt on the legality of their issued CPCs for their respective vehicles.

According to him, the DOTC central office is currently working out appropriate measures to curb the proliferation of fraudulently issued franchises which is contributory to the worsening traffic congestions in the populated areas of the Baguio and Benguet areas.

At the same time, Mandapat said the questionable franchiseswere in gross violation of a memorandum issued by the Land transportation Franchising regulatory Board in 1996 and 1998 granting a moratorium on the issuance of franchises to public utility vehicles in the BLIST area upon the urgent request of the previous city council.

The DOTC official claimed his predecessors insisted in issuing franchises in violation of the existing moratorium which has been questioned before the LTFRB central office and awaiting decision whether or not to cancel the same.

Another violation cited by Mandapat was that LTFRB Region I based in San Fernando City, La Union had been granting inter-regional franchises to various types of vehicles which is considered unlawful since the power to issue inter-regional franchises is vested to the LTFRB central office.

Because of the increasing number of fake franchises which are being uncovered by the agency, Mandapat said they will consistently enforce existing laws to prevent vehicles with questionable franchises from travelling since it will pose a serious threat to public safety.

Mandapat is also recommending the temporary suspension of approval of the sale and transfer of franchises until such time that all questionable CPCs shall have been corrected to legitimize their operations.

The city government wants a moratorium on the issuance of franchises to public utility vehicles to lessen the traffic problems along major streets that affect the local tourism industry.

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Ilocos Norte police round-up

2 cousins shot dead
DINGRAS, Ilocos Norte -- On the eve of their dead uncle’s scheduled internment day, Warlito Agoto, 35, and cousin Arsenio, 40, attended the wake in Barangay Sulquiano here.

At dawn of July 17, while both were watching a poker game at the yard, a gunman sprung from nowhere and fatally shot the two cousins at close range. Their uncle’s wife Felicidad was hit by stray bullet and treated at GRASM Hospital. – Jun Guiang


Convict repents for killing townmate
BANGUI, Ilocos Norte -- Rommel Lacar expressed remorse for slaying his townmate Velmar Lagat of Barangay Subec, Pagudpud town.

Now, he knows that crime does not pay after he was sentenced to eight to10 years imprisonment by RTC Judge Rosemarie Ramos of Branch 19 here.



Aide suffers heart attack; rams 2 fiscals’ cars
LAOAG CITY —Due to apparent heart attack, Capitol’s provincial development officer aide Albert Blas lost control of his red plate service pick up and bumped the parked cars of city fiscals Voltaire Ramos and Clifford Tumaneng in front of the City Hall here. Nobody was hurt.


Payloader crushes youth to death
SOLSONA, Ilocos Norte --James Dagdag, 17, single, met a horrifying death when a payloader driven by JV Corpuz run over him after he accidentally fell from the bucket of the monster vehicle Thursday morning in Barangay San Juan here.

JV said he did not notice that James fell off and landed on his path. The victim, together with several companions, rode on the payloader on their way to their workplace at a construction site when the accident occurred. -- Jun R. Guiang

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Robbery suspect faces charges/Sagada police nab ‘rapist’

BONTOC, Mountain Province – A college student is now in jail here for having in his possession of a Canon printer he allegedly robbed along with other items last week.


Police identified the suspect as Steve Afangka Bulanit, 22, single of Barangay Nacagang, Sagada in the province t.

Prior to the suspect’s arrest, a report from one George Bas-a Lumiwes, 42, married, a government employee and a resident of Barangay Samoki, Bontoc, said their residence was ransacked by unidentified perpetrators who gained entry into an open window at around 3a.m. on July 14.

According to the victim, the suspects took the following items: one gold plated seiko wristwatch, one nokia cellphone, one leather wallet with cash amounting to P2, 980, an ATM Card, assorted documents and the printer. Bulanit is presently under the custody of Bontoc police pending court action.

Bontoc police chief Insp. Marcial Faed filed a robbery case against the suspect on July 19.


Sagada police nab ‘rapist’

SAGADA, Mountain Province – Police nabbed the number two most wanted person in the province wanted for rape and other crimes in Patungcaleo, Quirino, Ilocos Sur.
Sagada police led by chief of police, Insp. Benedict Del-ong apprehended Mathew Ngolo Tawali on July 19

The suspect who is 27 years old, single and native of Sitio Ba-ang, Kilong, Sagada, was also listed top most wanted person in the town.

A warrant of arrest earlier issued against the suspect by Judge Joseph Patna-an of Regional Trial Court, Branch 36, Bontoc for rape.

Subject is now in jail at the Sagada police station.

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Drug pusher’ nabbed with shabu, bullets

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- A resident was nabbed with eight sachets of shabu and ten Cal. 22 bullets during a buy-bust operation at about 6 p.m. July 16 here close to the Universal Grains Center at Purok 3, Bulanao Norte.


Police identified the suspect as Froilan Gapuz Boguen alias “Rouie,” 42, married, 2nd year college, farmer, native of Besao, Mountain Province and resident of Dagupan Centro, Tabuk, Kalinga.

Joint anti-narcotic operatives from the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Kalinga Special Enforcement Team, Kalinga Police Provincial Office and Tabuk Municipal Police Station apprehended Boguen after he sold two shabu sachets to a PDEA agent who acted as poseur-buyer.

When Boguen was searched, he yielded six more sachets of the dangerous drug; bullets; marked, four pieces of P500 peso bills buy-bust money and the Nokia cellular phone he utilized to facilitate the illegal drug transaction.

The seized sachets of shabu, entirely weighing 0.90 gram, have an overall street value of approximately P12,600.

These were immediately submitted to the Philippine National Police Regional Crime Laboratory Office – 2 in Camp Adduru, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

Meanwhile, the pieces of non-drug evidence confiscated from Boguen will remain under the custody of the PDEA – Cordillera Kalinga SET.

Cases for illegal drugs will be filed against him.

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Mayor orders probe on defective dumpsite wall

By Dexter A. See


BAGUIO CITY– Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan here ordered an investigation on the reason behind the alleged defective implementation of the over P10 million extension of the retaining wall of the Irisan open dumpsite which is being temporarily used as a residual containment area.

The mayor issued the order after numerous reports reached his office that the extension of the Irisan dumpsite retaining wall which was implemented by the previous administration bulged due to reported poor mixture of concrete as well as insufficient steel bars used in the foundation and the posts.

“The city engineer must make sure the contractor must first implement the necessary corrective measures in the retaining wall at his own expense before our administration will implement another extension of the retaining wall so that it could accommodate residual waste from the different barangays in the meantime that solutions are being crafted for the city’s solid waste problem,” Domogan said.

The mayor said the solution to the city’s solid waste management problem should not be left to the city government but must be done through the collective effort of all residents who must segregate waste inside their homes before these are collected in the identified pick up points by the garbage trucks.

Aside from purchasing brand new garbage trucks to be used to effectively collect the segregated wastes from the barangays, Domogan cited need to use the Irisan dumpsite as a residual containment area while the city government works out options on how to dispose increasing number of biodegradable waste.

The local government is contemplating on purchasing several machines from a manufacturer from Japan which could convert at least 24 tons of biodegradable waste into fertilizer that could dry up in just two hours after being treated.

If the Japanese technology will be suitable in the city, Domogan said the proposed engineered sanitary landfill project will still be part of the long-term solution to the garbage problem but priority will be given to the said technology so that bulk of the city’s biodegradable waste will be converted into fertilizer to be used by the farmers in nearby Benguet.

He called on local residents to be patient on the present state of the city’s garbage problem since all efforts are being done by the city government to formulate the appropriate solutions within the next several months in order to bring back cleanliness all over the city.

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Lakeshore now a prime tourist attraction in CL

By Mar T. Supnad


MEXICO, Pampanga — Tourists and the public who had been able to experience the beauty and environment of Lakeshore described it as a place “like no others.”

The first-ever man-made lake strategically located in Central Luzon has been the talk of the region due to its unique landscape and the first master-planned community in the country that offers residents a world of secluded lakeside luxury, located on the sprawling 250-hectare of prime land crowned with a magnificent 12 hectare man-made lake.

With only less than one hour drive from Manila via North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and 30 to 40 minutes drive from SBMA and Bataan, Lakeshore is so accessible being located at Km. 71 along NLEX in this progressive town in Pampanga.

With the construction of the Lakeshore, the residents in the region, particularly Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bataan and Bulacan need not go far to enjoy adventure-filled activities like fishing, kayaking and other forms of relaxation.

Now thriving with aquatic life like milk fish, “tilapia,” mangrove jack, carp and large-mouth bass, Lakeshore has become a total community complete with amenities.

It is, thus, fast becoming the consummate getaway for both local and foreign tourists being located at the mouth of Metro Manila in the North.

Among its amenities include lakeside parks and playgrounds linked by scenic boardwalks while being surrounded with an atmosphere of a Mediterranean village with palm-lined streets, lakeside restaurants and promenade with street cafes and exclusive shopping arcade, a waterfront resort hotel, a business park, a school and a church, making it as a total community to live in.

In addition, a premier gasoline station and prominent fast food outlets are also located beside the lake.

Another first is the soon to rise first of its kind outlet of a multi-national owned home construction depot.

Negotiations are already underway between CCEI and the foreign company to start this venture to further boost the viability of The Lakeshore in becoming the premier residential, leisure and industrial hub of the country.

The Lakeshore, envisioned to be the next big thing in the sprawling Mexico, Pampanga, is owned and developed by Central Country Estate Inc.

The Lakeshore is one of the few places in Central Luzon where the experiences of daily life are magnified by the sheer drama of the environment.

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Bokawkan LI jeepney route returned

TRAFFIC JAM -- This area along Marcos Highway reaching up to the flyover in Baguio was the object of complaints due asphalt overlaying along the paved road. -- Redjie Mekvic Cawis



By Isagani S. Liporada

BAGUIO CITY – Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan last week announced the old La Trinidad – Bokawkan route shall be opened using a ‘pick and go’ strategy beginning July 26.

During the Ugnayan presscon hosted by DZEQ ‘Radio ng Bayan’, July 21, Domogan said bottom line for the reversion to the old traffic scheme was public convenience of passengers from the city’s next door neighbor.

“Students and wage earners from La Trinidad have been greatly inconvenienced already,” he said. “They have been constrained to having two or three rides to reach their destinations when these could be reduced without sacrificing other valid concerns against the reinstitution of the route. I have been meeting with leaders of the seven LT trunklines and they have basically agreed to terms laid down by the city committee concerned.”

Meanwhile, City Council Public Utilities, Transportation and Traffic Committee chair Nicasio Aliping in a separate interview meanwhile said, “We are opening the old route merely as an experiment.”

He added the jeepneys concerned shall be closely monitored during two weeks of experimentation using an alternating “odd-even” plate number scheme to reduce the volume of vehicles plying the route.

“On top of this,” he added, “at no time shall affected PUV’s be allowed to park along Chuntug St. which earned the ire of local businessmen in the area.”

Domogan for his part added members of the LT rides shall be tasked to maintain cleanliness in the Chuntug pickup point at all times.

He appealed to momma lovers to exercise self-restraint in order not to paint the roads and gutters red.

Domogan also asked members of the LT-bound vehicles to police passengers and their ranks to prevent diseases caused by indiscriminate urinating of males in the area.

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Imee questions PhilHealth recipients

LAOAG CITY --Well-off people, not paupers, were mostly the recipients of PhilHealth insurance cards in Ilocos Norte.

This prompted Gov. Imee Marcos to question the mess after she received reports many PhilHealth cardholders in the province were mostly relatives or proteges of local politicians and even balikbayans.

The PhilHealth benefit is intended to help the indigent families, she said. Hospitals, especially private clinics, would go broke if their patients are all PhilHealth cardholders, the lady governor added.

She said she wanted to correct this erratic system and redeem the good purpose of PhilHealth medical care.

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Solon wants Burnham Park returned to national gov’t

By Dexter A. See


BAGUIO CITY – rep. Bernardo M. Vergara here filed a legislative measure declaring the historic and scenic Burnham Park, the city’s prime tourist destination, as a National Park and appropriating the necessary national funds for its maintenance, administration, operation and development.

Vergara’s bill reiterates the intent of past legislative measures submitted in the 10th Congress as embodied in House Bill (HB) No. 1765, the 12th Congress under HB No. 3477, the 13th Congress under HB No. 2001 and in the 14th Congress contained under HB No. 509 to have Burnham Park as a national park worthy of national support befitting its historical significance and tourism generating potential in Northern Luzon.

The lawmaker said national funds that will be provided by the national government will be used to continuously upgrade the park’s existing facilities and creation of new tourist-catering eco-friendly facilities to ensure that tourists will be coming back and forth to this mountain resort city to have a glimpse of the innovations in the park based at the heart of the city.

Burnham Park was designed and developed in the 1930s by famous American architect Daniel Burnham, a noted urban planner of his time known for his creation of famous American cities like Chicago and Washington D.C..

Furthermore, Philippine historical records indicate the importance of Burnham Park to the city’s growth and development as a premier tourist destination north of Metro Manila, having served as a crowd-drawing attraction of the city.

Records show that Burnham Park occupies over 31.6 hectares of land area and it features among others a man-made lagoon, a soccer field and parade grounds , beautifully landscaped greenery, a forested enclave, an outdoor sports area, a skating rink, a children’s playground and biking area and picnic sections for promenading residents and visitors.

Vergara underscored Burnham Park serves as an ecological sanctuary and nature’s lung facility, thus, its scenic beauty and lush environments have made the park a favourite promenade place of this mountain resort city.

In 1981, former president Ferdinand e. Marcos transferred the maintenance and operation of the park from the city government to the national government by virtue of Presidential Decree 1762 and the same was subsequently ceded to the Philippine tourism Authority (PTA) through Proclamation 2144 and latter on in 1989 to the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC).

Through Executive order No. 224 signed by former President Fidel v. Ramos in 1995, the park’s management, administration and maintenance were transferred to the city government with provisions for annual upkeep and development needs subsidized by the PTA.

Vergara claimed in the last 10 years, as foreseen by previous legislative submissions, the city government experienced financial difficulty in addressing Burnham park’s annual maintenance, operations and development needs given the drastic budgetary reductions in PTA’s contractual obligations despite applying proper management procedures, which harnessed private sectoral assistance, the city government found it burdensome to administer the park, much more fund development initiatives, as the regular collections from park operations were insufficient even for minimal maintenance needs. Subsequent presidential policies, enunciated and executive orders issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have yielded insubstantial assistance to make the park a financially viable and environmentally nurtured to sustain its ecological and tourism importance to the city.



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Benguet wants big tax from San Roque dam

By Dexter A. See
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The provincial government of Benguet wants an increased share from taxes generated by the 345-megawatt San Roque multi-purpose dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan, saying water, the main ingredient in power generation, comes from the watersheds of the province.

Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan said he will lead a delegation from the province to talk with their Pangasinan counterparts to realize their ambition in increasing the province’s share from the national wealth tax being paid by operator of the second biggest dam in Asia.

He expressed confidence Pangasinan officials will understand their plight for an improved version of an earlier agreement to increase the tax share of the province so funds will be utilized to implement more development projects in host communities.

In 2007, Fongwan worked out a 50-50 sharing of the national wealth tax arising from the operation of the dam which is located within the boundary of Benguet and Pangasinan.

The basis of the equal sharing originated from the fact that while the dam’s plant is located in San Manuel, Pangasinan, the dam’s reservoir and watershed is hosted by Itogon, Benguet.

Under the government’s policy on the national wealth tax, 60 percent is retained by the national government while 40 percent will be shared by the host provinces, municipalities and barangays (villages).

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P’sinan not anymore hotbed of insurgents

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- This province, once the hotbed of insurgents, has been declared insurgency-free and is now one of the most peaceful provinces, if not the most peaceful, in the country today.

This, according to Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. who accepted the primary responsibility of taking the lead role in fighting insurgency in the province during the joint declaration of Pangasinan as insurgency- free at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center here.

Senior Supt. Percival Barba, provincial police director who formally declared that Pangasinan is now free from insurgency said in 2006, there were 76 insurgency-affected barangays in the province these areas now have a zero rate.

The joint declaration was signed by Espino, Major Gen. Ireneo Espino of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and Barba.

The signing was witnessed by colonels Leonido Bongcawil and Felicito Virgilio M. Trinidad, Jr.; Domiciano Soriano, Jr. of Department of Interior and Local Government, Sangguniang Panlalawigan chairman Amadeo T. Espino, Maj. Gen Gaudencio Pangilinan, Northern Luzon Command commander represented by Col. Perez, and Supt Orlando Mabutas, represented by Col. Manuel Cachero.

Gen. Ireneo Espino thanked Espino, SP members, mayors, peace and order council members for accepting the handover of the insurgency lead role.

He said with the transfer, he sees the vision of a peaceful, progressive, tourism and economic center province under the governance of Espino who is also chairman of the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

Espino called on the people from former infested areas to work together for the growth and development of their barangays.

With this recent development, the governor noted foreign investors who used to visit other places like Baguio and Clark have started flocking to the province expressing interest in establishing various investments in Pangasinan.

He said this is the first time that foreign investors visited remote barangays to look for possible locations for their investment projects.

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3 suspects in Korean's slay nabbed; 14 others indicted

By George Trillo


ANGELES CITY– Three suspects in the killing of a Korean national last Jan. 30 were arrested in their rented apartment in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Senior Supt. Danilo Bautista, Angeles City police chief, said the suspects, Danilo Paredes, James Mina and Frellie Cabunos, all with standing arrest warrants with no bail recommended, yielded high-powered firearms with bullets.

Paredes, alleged leader of the group, was tagged in the killing of Korean national Kang Ha Yong in front of the Arirang Hotel along Friendship Avenue in Barangay Anunas here.

Bautista said a business partner of Kang allegedly P50,000 for the hit job.

He said four Korean nationals and 10 Filipinos were indicted for Kang’s murder.

Bautista said the arrested suspects were found in possession of an Ingram submachine gun loaded with bullets, a 12-gauge shotgun, a pistolized shotgun, and suspected shabu weighing 0.2 grams.

Also seized from them were police and military uniforms, he added.

Bautista said charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and illegal drugs were also filed against them.

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Sufficient rice supply for Ilocos

By Freddie Lazaro

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – At least 2.5 million bags of imported rice have been delivered here from January to the first week of July to sustain the sufficient rice supply requirement of the residents in the Ilocos and Pangasinan provinces including Abra and Benguet during the lean months until the end of this year.

This, according to National Food Authority Director Amado De Guzman who said the imported rice came from Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.

He said the arrival of imported rice is very timely considering that the lean period is about to start. “With the arrival of the imported rice plus the locally-produced rice that are now stocked in the different NFA warehouses in Region 1 and, in Abra and Benguet provinces, our rice supply is very much sufficient even beyond 2010.”

From the 2.5 million bags of imported rice that arrived at Poro Point here, a total of 172,500 bags is allocated for Ilocos Sur; 84,000 bags for Ilocos Norte; 561,134 bags for La Union; 603,200 bags for Eastern Pangasinan; 695,400 bags for Western Pangasinan; 124,000 bags for Abra; and 288,444 bags for Benguet.

The bags of imported rice are already delivered and are now stocked at the NFA warehouses all over the region, and ready for distribution to all accredited NFA outlets.

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US envoy vows more Peace Corps volunteers for RP

BAGUIO CITY– The United States government will double the number of peace corps volunteers in the Philippines in the coming years once the Philippine government will approve the same, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. recently bared here.

According to Thomas, the over 100 years of partnership between the US and the Philippines have brought about numerous benefits for both countries which helped in the growth of several cities, including this mountain resort city.

The US ambassador explained the proposed increase in the deployment of peace corps volunteers in the country will result to efficient and effective delivery of basic services to the people in host communities considering that the US government will be substantially investing in the said program.

Thomas cited Baguio City as one of the most beautiful sites in the country where the US has provided substantial support in terms of education and investments.

In particularly, the US maintains the historic Ambassador’s Residence within the Camp John Hay property and the Baguio Teachers Camp which was established by the Thomcites in the early 1900s.

The US has two major industries operating in the city, particularly the Texas Instruments, Philippines and the MOOG Controls Corporation, the manufacturer of aircraft parts.

Both multinational companies are located within the Philippine Economic Zone authority (PEZA) here over the past seventy years.

Thomas informed guests at the Ambassador’s Residence that he loves to work in the Philippines considering that he gained many friends with his few days of stay in office.

Because US President Barack Obama and President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino have many things in common, Thomas said the relationship between the two countries will surely go a long way because of their desire to introduce realistic reforms in their respective governments that will satisfactorily address the basic needs of their people. – Dexter A. See

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RDC needs to reveal how P45M autonomy info fund was spent

EDITORIAL

The Cordillera needs at least P75 billion subsidy from the national government in the next ten years once the people will ratify a third attempt of the region to establish an autonomous government in order to spur socio-economic development in the countryside.

This, according to Baguio Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan who said the 10-year subsidy must be part of the provisions of the Organic Act to be crafted once the Regional Development Council in the Cordillera ascertain Cordillerans are ready for self-governance.

Under the proposed subsidy provision, the autonomous region will get P10 billion annually for the first five years and P5 billion per year for the last five years to fund implementation of vital development projects .

In order to prevent the allocation of the funds from being politicized by the officials of the regional government, Domogan said distribution of the subsidy must be spelled out in the autonomy law so that the barangays, municipalities, cities will continuously receive their own share even with change in leaders.

Apart from the subsidy, the local chief executive explained that after the lapse of the 10-year period, the national government will continue to provide its continuing financial and technical support to the regional and local governments so that there will be a continuity in the implementation of socio-economic activities that will improve living conditions of the people.

The national government, he added, should guarantee in the autonomy law that the regional government will have greater control of the region’s resources and manpower to establish its identity as a distinct region.

Furthermore, the benefits that the region is enjoying through the grant of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and other inherent powers will continue to be enjoyed by the local governments plus the fact that every province, city or municipality will remain independent from each other.

More importantly, he added, nationally paid employees should continue to be paid by their mother agencies and supervision and control will only be lodged by the regional governor while they will maintain to be under the secretaries of the concerned agencies in order to prevent misconceptions that the autonomous government will not be able to sustain their salaries.

According to him, it is unfortunate that Cordillerans failed to take advantage of the two earlier autonomy laws that were overwhelmingly rejected by the Cordillerans in plebiscites on January 30, 1990 and March 7, 1998, respectively, which could have already resulted in better economic standing of all local governments in the six provinces, particularly Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Baguio City.

Domogan’s proposals may be worth taking into consideration as the 1987 Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao in recognition of the role of indigenous peoples in nation building.

But then, is the Cordillera ready for autonomy at this time? Critics have been allergic to autonomy because of lack or lapses in consultation among the people when the previous proposed organic acts were crafted and subjected to plebiscites. These were deemed full of flaws that Cordillerans rejected these.

Now, before the RDC talks of again reviving the quest for Cordillera autonomy, it should first bare how the P45 million government fund intended as information campaign was spent. The body, composed of top regional officials should be transparent in its finances like on what happened to the P45 million. If they can’t be transparent on a much smaller amount as compared to the proposed P75 billion start-up fund, who will believe them when they push for autonomy? This early people are saying the P45 million was “intonomi” (burned by them for that matter.)

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‘A bully wailing foul’

BEHIND THE SCENES
Alfred P. Dizon

(Hereunder is a statement of Martin Montana, spokesperson of the Chadli Molintas Command-New People’s Army for Ilocos-Cordillera. We urge military officers or government officials he is alluding to, to respond to his accusations which could be published in this paper if they want. You may email your response to northphiltimes@yahoo.com):

In the past few months, the 5th ID of the Philippine Army has been exerting efforts to prevail upon Cordillera local government executives to sign a memorandum of agreement for the turnover of internal security operations to the provincial governments and police units. The said agreement, obviously the handiwork of the 5th ID, declares respective Cordillera provinces “cleared” of NPA units and binds the provincial governments to commit their time, personnel and resources to the anti-insurgency campaign. A version of the agreement has been signed in Kalinga and is still being studied by Ifugao provincial executives.

Foisting this agreement upon provincial governments is a sneaky way by which the 5th ID can claim that it has met the absurd and unrealistic deadline imposed by their former fake commander-in-chief Gloria Arroyo to crush the armed revolutionary movement by June 2010. It will also continue the objective of the past administration’s Oplan Bantay Laya2 to further subsume local governments and police units into the AFP counter-insurgency program.

Grossly exaggerated pronouncements made by the 5th ID that the NPA in the Cordillera has been “significantly reduced and relegated to an inconsequential level” were ground into the dirt by the victorious ambush staged last July 9 by the Leonardo Pacsi Command-NPA Mountain Province that wiped out a unit of the 52nd Division Recon Company.

Unsurprisingly, the AFP raised hue and cry that the ambushed unit was on its way to coordinate a medical mission. Like a bully wailing foul when given his comeuppance, the AFP employs this over-used and dishonest tactic to portray its paid soldiers as good samaritans waylaid while on a mission of mercy. Two days prior to the ambush, the 5th ID did conduct a medical mission in Aguid, Sagada, Mountain Province as civil-military component of a simultaneous combat operation in the same area.

The insignificant medical and engineering civic action programs undertaken by the AFP are mere fronts to soften the detrimental impact of simultaneous and often large-scale combat operations on the local population.

It must be emphasized that the ambush staged by the Leonardo Pacsi Command used equitable force against a well-armed unit of capably-trained elite troops. The 52nd DRC is frequently used as a forward screen and spearpoint for offensive military operations, and as the force of choice of the 5th ID for precision and strike operations in the Mountain Province and nearby areas.

It is interesting to note that the 5th ID has intensified its operations in the Cordillera under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Rommel Gomez, himself a Cordillera native. Gomez served with the infamous executioner Jovito Palparan and once headed the 703rd Brigade that had operational control over the 69th IB which was behind numerous human rights violations in Central Luzon, including the alleged murder of Aeta leader Ricardo Guiao.

Brig. Gen. Gomez and his fellow Igorot officers obviously think that a repeat of the human rights violations done under their watch in Central Luzon and other areas is the best way by which they could improve the lives of their fellow Cordillerans. In a series of large-scale military operations since January, they gave free rein to troops of the 52nd DRC, 50thIB, 54th IB, and 77th IB to descend upon and harass villages in the Mountain Province. Villages in Southwest Ifugao have been turned into virtual military garrisons.

It is duplicitous for the military to wail about being victims when it is they who routinely violate the rights of the people. No amount of name-calling and drama on their part can generate sympathy for troops who are known perpetrators of extrajudicial killings; abductions and enforced disappearances; indiscriminate bombings and strafings; damage to crops, agricultural infrastructure and property; and theft of poultry and farm animals.

It behooves BGen. Gomez and his fellow Igorot officers to listen to the voice of the people. The people of Mountain Province have this to say about the ambush, “Masem da, those abusive troops had it coming.”

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Napoleonito and Napoleonette


PERRYSCOPE

Perry Diaz

Veep Jejomar “V-Nay” Binay and Exprezcong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (“Exprezcong” is short for Ex-President and Congresswoman) have a lot of things in common. Gloria was once the vice president of former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada and V-Nay is now the current vice president of P-Noy.

They’re of the same height. V-Nay is 5’2” (without elevator shoes) and Gloria is 5’2” (with 3-inch high-heel shoes).

They both have illusions -- or delusions? -- of grandeur: V-Nay as Emperor Napoleonito of Makati and Gloria as Empress Napoleonette of the Enchanted Kingdom of Juetengland.

Napoleonito will reside in the Coconut Palace by the Manila Bay while Napoleonette will reside in the Jueteng Vatican Palace in Lubao, Pampanga. Or is it her “Elba” where she’d plan her return to power?

Gloria became president by ousting Erap. Well, it’s too soon to tell if V-Nay wants to become P-Nay before his term ends.
***
Here is an interesting blog posted in www.GlobalBalita. com by Bert Celera:
If V-Nay is complaining about almost everything as a VP, Erap is complaining too.
Erap said that V-Nay and him almost have all something in common:
Erap was Mayor of San Juan, V-Nay in Makati;

Erap’s wife is a doctora, V-Nay’s a doctora too; Erap’s son became Mayor of San Juan, V-Nay’s too – in Makati; Erap became Vice President, V-Nay too! Erap’s complaint – V-Nay should be jailed too!!!
***
V-Nay finally found his niche in the P-Noy administration as the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. The job gives him the title of “Housing Czar,” however, some people might refer to him as P-Noy’s “house boy.” Whoa! That’s quite a bit of a freefall for V-Nay -- from Emperor of Makati to Housing Czar to P-Noy’s house boy! What’s next?
***
Within a matte r of days, the party-going bachelor P-Noy ran into two people on two separate occasions who shouldn’t be placed in the same room as P-Noy. The first was Gloria’s former agriculture secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo who fled to the U.S. to avoid testifying on the fertilizer scam before the Senate. Recently, he returned from self-exile saying that he’s ready to “spill the beans.” Whose beans? P-Noy and Cito were guests to the birthday party of Boy Montelibano. They briefly greeted each other and shook hands. That’s it. They were probably shocked to see each other.

The second was at the posh birthday party of V-Nay’s son Jun-jun, the new mayor of Makati. P-Noy arrived late and took a seat in a table. Lo and behold, the Imeldific Imelda Marcos came from behind and greeted P-Noy. P-Noy stood up gentlemanly and they both kissed each other on the cheek. As far as Imelda was concerned, it was just beso-beso. “Beso” is Spanish for “kiss,” as in “beso de la muerte”(kiss of death). Well, I hope that Imelda didn’t have Gloria’s type of that deadly kiss.

Makes one wonder if the next person P-Noy would ran into in a party would be Exprezcong Gloria herself. I would advice P-Noy not to get near Gloria lest she’ll smack him with her “beso de la muerte.” P-Noy should ask Manny Villar of Villarroyo fame and his own cousin Gibo Teodoro what Gloria’s “beso de la muerte” did to both of them.

Is this P-Noy’s way of reconciling with his enemies? Well, I hope not cuz from what I heard, P-Noy wants to meet with Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez to talk about her job.

I would advice P-Noy to keep a safe distance from Merci cuz she’s known to be merciless to her enemies. She’s like a spitting cobra who would shoot it’s venom straight into its victims’ eyes.
At the rate P-Noy is reconciling with his enemies and adversaries, there would no longer be a need for a Truth Commission. Heck, that would save a lot of taxpayers’ money from being wasted on a moro-moro called “Davide vs. Gloriath.”
***
In the news… P-Noy scolded the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for failing to predict that Typhoon Basyang would lash Metro Manila. Hmmm… But isn’t PAGASA supposed to be prepared at all times especially during the monsoon season? Perhaps PAGASA personnel should get some training from the Boy Scouts on how to “Be Prepared” at all times.

But it takes money to prepare for disasters. According to the Department of Budget and Management, 70.4% or P1.4 billion of the calamity fund was spent by Gloria in her last six months in office. On what??? There are no typhoons during the dry season. From what I gathered, Gloria transferred the calamity fund to her travel budget. Yup, that’s a lot of moolah spent on her junkets while poor Pinoys were eating pagpag. Kawawa naman ang Pinas!

But it must have made Gloria happy -- now that she is a congresswoman -- when P-Noy decided to keep the pork barrel allocations. Needless to say, P-Noy has some discretionary power on how the pork is allocated. That’s the reason why 79 of Gloria’s Lakas-Kampi party mates decided to abandon her and join the administration coalition. They figured that Gloria’s party is over and it’s time to go to where the real party is -- in the House of P-Noy. The remaining 30 Lakas-Kampi members are Gloria’s diehard supporters. But unless Gloria could cough up some money to grease them, they’d abandon her in a blink and crash P-Noy’s party. Like they say, “What goes around comes around.” Yup, it’s called karmic power.

Neophyte congressman Dr. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao turned out to be smarter than all the trapos in the House of Representathieves. As soon as P-Noy won the May 10 elections, Pacman immediately paid P-Noy a courtesy call. And before he was sworn into office, he abandoned Villar’s Nacionalista Party and joined P-Noy’s Liberal Party. His reason was that it would help him serve his constituents better. Yup, this guy is a pro. He knows whom to kiss up to -- the guy with the pork.

Talking about pork… P-Noy signed Memorandum Order No. 1 authorizing the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to handle the President’s Social Fund (PSF), also known as the president’s “pork barrel.” During Gloria’s time, the PSF was under the direct control of the Office of the President since March 2002 when she signed a memorandum order transferring the PSF to her office. At that time, the PSF was P1.09 billion. Makes one wonder how much pork Gloria has spent -- or stashed away -- during her nine years in office.

It’s interesting to note that the PSF is sourced from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) earnings. As the government’s third biggest revenue generator, Pagcor is a humongous “milking cow” of the robbing hoods of La Cuarta Nostra.(PerryDiaz@gmail. com)

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Robredo’s good governance

BENCHWARMER
Ramon S. Dacawi

Even before he took his oath and received his marching orders as interior and local government secretary, Jesse Robredo announced that there will be no room for jueteng in the administration of President President Benigno Aquino III.

Those who know Robredo, the multi-awarded former mayor of Naga city, know better than to bet against his pronouncement, however tall his order maybe. Skeptics, and they are legion, are quick to equate his avowal to previous ones that never actually took ground, coming from a long line of leaders below his bracket. They see the fresh push no different from that of Sisyphus, whose rock inevitably rolls down the mountain each time this character in Greek mythology is close to finally settling it atop the summit.

In a country long gripped by poverty, we survive on this sisyphian myth about wishful, wasteful repetition. The odds notwithstanding, we continue to cling to the fractured hope that one day we would finally reach the mountain top with the rock securely beside us, finally in its reassuring angle of repose, never to roll down again. We never lose hope of eventually achieving this impossible feat.

So while the other nations continue to realistically dream of one day bringing home the World Cup, as Spain just did in South Africa, in a game where agility and speed count rather than heft and height, we continue to dream, unrealistically, of one day bringing home the world title in basketball.

A friend - a European by birth and a Filipino by choice and sentiment – observed that while nothing seems to work in this archipelago, everything here is possible. Against the odds, anything is achievable, like hitting the right number combinations in jueteng, even while we know the draws are rigged, the dice loaded to provide a quick fix only to those who run and bless it, but never or seldom for us, the hopeless yet inveterate bettors.

Realistically though, the impoverished Filipino got enough talent to hitch his dreams on - Nora Aunor,Manny Pacquiao and, lately, singing sensation Jovit Baldivino. Their Cinderella feats do us proud, especially those of the Baguio Metamorphosis of dance and of Ingrid Payaket, our fellow Igorot who’s beautifully into broadway music.

In politics and governance, we suddenly have Noynoy the Incorruptible, he who will never compromise his parents’ legacy of hope, courage and sacrifice. And he has picked Robredo, he who, after steering Naga as city mayor for close two decades, remains the dragon slayer that he. Others less worthy of his salt had long morphed into the ogres they once slew, seemingly without their knowledge and ours.

That’s why we’re cheering them on, this new breed of heroes who just gave us this new leaf, this fresh start towards the long, elusive path to our nation’s deliverance. It doesn’t matter that many of us don’t have yellow shirts to wear, much less cars to paste those yellow ribbons on.

We can take the cue from the President, who began his term simply by quieting the “wangwang” of arrogance. Perhaps we can start by giving away those souvenirs of yellow rubber bands to kids, if only to somehow distract them from pulverizing demons with those robotic heroes in those computer games.

Our President is no robot and the new DILG secretary is also an icon who is also human. Robredo, who was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for governance, has accepted a position that sought and fits the man. He was chosen for his credentials that assure us he will always be different from the slew of leaders who had used their positions to perpetuate their grip on power as the key to addressing material acquisitiveness.

First time I listened to Robredo was at the Asian Institute of Management in 1996.He was presenting Naga’s computerization program in the final screening of the country’s most innovative, creative and effective local governance programs under the “Galing Pook” awards program.

(Then and now Mayor Mauricio Domogan and I were also there to present Baguio ’s Eco-walk children’s environmental program. That’s when I saw our very own mayor stand his ground against Senator Aquilino Pimentel, a member of the panel of judges who opened up on the city’s squatting issue. The mayor later said the good senator called him up and apologized for initiating the argument that ate up a sizable portion of the limited time to present Baguio ’s program entry. That’s when I saw then Gov. Obet Pagdanganan practicing his presentation of Bulacan’s program that, like Naga’s own, made it to that year’s roster of winners in local governance.)

Listening to each presentation, I was inspired by the wealth of programs from Naga and other parts of the country. The presentations belied the common and misguided notion that good governance is a monopoly of the private sector that now calls itself “civil society”, as if those in government belong to the “uncivil society”.

Under Robredo’ leadership, Naga went on to win close to 200 international, national and regional awards, including the Dubai Award. As was his advice on Cordillera Day Thurday at the Baguio Convention Center , he and his city began with one and ended up with many model programs.

I’ll bet my yellow Noynoy rubber bands that with his experience and credentials, the backing of the President and the populace, Robredo can and will reduce, if not totally eradicate, jueteng, at least in its traditional, illegal form. His is a bitter pill to swallow for some government officials, police officers and even media practitioners on the take from the gambling racket for years now. Yet it’s time to move on – perhaps to other forms or labels like “bingo”?

With Robredo at the helm, the usual line that jueteng can only be stamped out if there are no bettors may no longer hold water.

Wanna bet? (email:mondaxbench@yahoo.com).

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Million-peso toilet paper

LETTERS FROM THE AGNO
March L. Fianza

Former Pagcor officials are now in hot water for fund releases worth P21 million allegedly spent on burgers or merienda from a fastfood store for police operations in Manila .

Imagine if that burger is one piece. That could probably be the biggest burger in the world. Well, that can be eaten and digested and flushed in the sewer of Manila and may never be seen again. What can not be hidden is the P21M that was used to purchase it. The amount is too big to hide.

A relative who used to work in Pagcor’s main office said what has come out in the papers lately is not an isolated case. There were similar cases of “unknown” disbursements but these were immediately capped tightly to avoid leakages to the press.

Does this explain why names of big-time publishers, editors, and radio and TV news personalities appeared in a “bluebook” that contained the list of “consultants” being paid by Pagcor?

By the way, once upon a time I heard Sir Mondacs, my neighbor in this paper, call Pagcor as “Pagcortaan.” But isn’t that the reason for its existence? It is the mother of all legitimate and illegitimate gambling operations. It was created to produce money – “pagkuartaan” indeed.

A funnier story is one that I heard during a campaign sortie of an Ilocano politician somewhere in La Union. It was discovered that the incumbent LGU head included in his financial report that at least P1 million of the town’s budget was spent on toilet papers.

The challenger politician jokingly criticized his opponent as typical Ilocano politicians certainly make things very light out of serious matters. He said he can not imagine just how big is one buttocks that could use a million-peso toilet paper. In the politician’s campaign speech he said, “nakadakdakelan met dytan nga ubet!”
***

As frank as I have known him to be, Mayor Morris Domogan said the city is still taking advantage of the garbage trucks they bought more than 10 years ago. These were bought directly from outside suppliers under the local government code which relieves the LGU from paying customs duties.

Comparing these to the second hand trucks bought by the past city administration upon the insistence of a former councilor-broker, the second hand trucks were never used to the max. They are now on display at the athletic bowl, Domogan said.

When someone asked why he is using his private vehicle, Domogan said the mayor’s official car has to undergo a series of tests in order to correct any trouble. He confirmed that the car is “nalabusan”or vandalized considering that many of its accessories went missing, including the seat cover and carpet.
***
With ex-congressman Domogan back as mayor this time, residents of Asin, Tuba, particularly those whose lands are traversed by big metal water pipelines and other facilities owned by the city of Baguio , are hopeful anew that solutions to their problems will finally come.

In an informal dialogue with Mayor Domogan last week, the Asin residents through their organization’s officers were asked to submit to him a proposal that could include lot rental fees and conditions which they think are reasonable, agreed upon and signed by all affected lot owners, and duly subscribed by a lawyer.

What is lamentable, according to them, is that persons allegedly brokering for a certain company they identified as Pan France, have been misrepresenting them by MISINFORMING Domogan that the landowners have now “agreed to be paid their claims based on what Hedccor used to pay them.”

But, all is well that ends well as they told the mayor that there is no such thing since there were no previous payments made to the landowners out of the hydros’ production. What was employed then was the three-way production-sharing scheme between the City, Bawadi and Hedcor. And even as the IPRA was enacted in 1997, they still chose to wait until the contract between the sharing parties expired a few years ago.

Going back to the “two barrio kapitanes” whom I remember was known to other punong barangays in that town as “tuba boys,” the resident-landowners said they can not be represented by the two tuba boys, much less talk in behalf of them because land claims or payments are personal matters, not a barangay issue. The least they can do is show moral support to the landowners’ fight.

But then in a court case that is on-going at the sala of Judge Pamintuan, the wife of a former elected Cordillera politician who is one of the landowners said, “uray agpakita da laeng kuma ti moral support ijay korte ngem awan tupay makitak nga aniniwan dagita nga kapitan uray basit laeng”(it’s good if they provide us moral support by showing themselves in court but I have not seen them around, not even a part of their shadow).

At least, there is a good sign that they are aware of people around them. They know who among their neighbors are sincere in helping them, and they know who among their neighbors have been “selling” them.

I happened to see the landowners in their meeting last week, many of whom are close relatives on my Lola Emily’s Tuba side. Their faces looked brighter as Baguio now has a city mayor that they can approach and talk to face to face.

According to them, no fruitful dialogue has ever occurred between them and the past mayor. In fact the issue is now in court. From the way they expressed their stories I felt that they were now beginning to experience exhaustion – in terms of money and other resources.

They too, do not have the luxury of time, especially for the senior citizen members of the organization whose lives are running short. If possible, they want the issues resolved now because they do not want to pass the problems to their descendants. – marchfianza777@yahoo.com

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Sustainable communities (Part 1)

NO HOLDS BARRED
Ike SeƱeres

The United National Integrated Development Alliance (UNIDA) has consolidated four statistical methods into one development framework, now to be known as the UNIDA framework.

The most fundamental method among the four is the Minimum Basic Needs(MBN) approach. This statistical method measures access to basic human needs such as health, education, livelihood, food, water, clothing, shelter, public safety, recreation, transportation and the environment.

The Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations is a statistical method used to rank the level of human development among its member nations. The HDI has three dimensions, namely (1) life expectancy as a measure of health and longevity, (2) adult literacy as a measure of knowledge and education, and (3) economic prosperity as a measure of the standard of living, as indicated by the gross domestic product per capita.

Looking at it another way, the HDI is a composite measure of how much access the residents of a country actually have to three basic services, namely (1) health, (2) education and (3) livelihood. Also looking at it another way, the HDI recognizes the three most critical problems of developing countries, namely (1) themortality rate, (2), the illiteracy rate and (3) the poverty rate.

In the interest of national development, I am advocating the full adoption of the HDI as a popular method of measuring access to the three basic services not only in the national level, but also in the local level, meaning the Local Government Units(LGUs). So far, the HDI method has not been used to measure local development, and we could have a breakthrough if we will become the first country to do it.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), also of the United Nations is a program aimed to achieve eight specific development goals on or before 2015, namely (1) eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, (2) achieve universal primary education, (3) promote gender equality and empower women, (4) reduce child mortality, (5) improvematernal health, (6) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, (7) ensureenvironmental sustainability and (8) develop a global partnership for development.

The Non-Economic Measures (NEMs) approach quantifies the initiatives of national governments to improve the standard of living in their own jurisdictions. NEM includes initiatives in (1) social investment, (2) environment, (3) taxation and (4) quality of life.

The social investment component of the NEM approach includes (1) infrastructure, (2) education, (3) health, (4) water and (5) shelter. The environment component includes (1) pollution, (2) waste, (3) nature and (4) land use. The taxation component includes (1) tax compliance and (2) incentives. The quality of life component includes (1) material wealth, (2) mental state, (3) stress and (4) crime.

For planning purposes, I believe that the MBN approach should be the centerpiece statistical method, because it encompasses all of the human needs that are also covered by the HDI, the MDGs and the NEMs. To be more specific, the MBN approach covers health, education and livelihood which are all within the scope of the HDI.

Still in reference to the MBN approach, the following MDGs are health related: reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The achievement of universal primary education is of course education related, and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is livelihood related. Ensuring environmental sustainability is of course environment related.

The last MDG might appear to be unrelated to all the other basic need, but we could actually say that developing a global partnership for development could be the basis for the acquisition of more resources from international sources, in support of the MBN approach.

MBNs such as food, water, clothing and the environment could be considered as basic services that are directly related to the health dimension, as defined in the HDI. MBNs such as shelter and transportation could be considered as basic services that are directly related to the livelihood dimension, also as defined in the HDI. In the past, many shelter development projects have failed because of the lack of access to transportation and livelihood.

It is interesting to note that in the social investment component of the NEMs, shelter is described as an objective to provide affordable and accessible housing to meet the needs of those who are in search of homes and employment. This validates the notion that shelter and livelihood are two twin strategies that should really go together.

With all the basic needs now fitting into the UNIDA framework, there appears to be only one local dimension that is left out, and that is the dimension of public safety as a measure of peace and order. As a way of adopting the framework to the local realities, I am also advocating that we promote public safety as a basic need, as measured by the criminality rate.
***
Watch KA IKING LIVE! Saturdays 8 pm to 9 pm in Global News Network (GNN), Channel 21 in Destiny Cable. Email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639293605140 for local cable listings. Visit www.senseneres.blogspot.com

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Sex education

HAPPY WEEKEND
Gina Dizon

After strongly contesting the sex education modules of the Department of Education being “contraceptive-mentality,” the Catholic Church through the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) shall come up with its own version of sex education. The conservative church noted that sex education should be given by the “right persons who know about values.”

Whatever it is about values and who should give such, the Catholic Church had always, seemingly been directly and indirectly conscious of what people do with their sex organs.

The public is very much familiar with the Catholic Church’s stand against contraceptives. And so the church goes for the rhythm method because such is pro-life and does not interfere with the natural production of reproductive hormones.

What I find disturbing is that the holy voice of the church interferes during the rest of the fertile days of the woman implying that the couple should control their libido and not engage in sexual activities using contraceptives like condom or pills as this kills life.

One gets the nagging advice to practice self-control at the height of sexual urge and avoid contraceptives, otherwise, engage in sex and get pregnant. I can hear someone say the Church should not be interfering in the private bedroom of a couple as to whether or not to engage in sex or use contraceptives.

For the Roman Catholic church’s version of sex education, I would like to leave this to the church with its gospel based-faith and justification. So let me indulge.

I welcome this contraceptive-mentality of sex education by the DepEd. I note it is not that radically deviating from the usual sex education received during my elementary and high school days - that about knowing the different parts of the reproductive organs of man and woman.

I also remember a high school teacher teaching about the different contraceptives while my classmates and I listened with suppressed giggles. Within the realm of sex education nowadays though, there is a need for innovative methods and updated knowledge to impart, considering contemporary issues including HIV Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases which the youth and children of today should be informed about.

That is, sex education within a contraceptive-mentality is necessary among the youth, young adults and couples nowadays. Children and youth nowadays get their sex education through the easily accessible internet whether parents like it or not as they don’t guard their children all the time. The internet displays anything sexual from courtship to dating to different parts of the sexual organs to sexual positions of love making. Sex education of all forms can be found in magazines and comic books aside from the internet. Such also is being openly discussed by adults within earshot among children and adults. What is of sexual content is also read in easily available pocket books and watched on TV and in the movies. Sex education is available to children and young adults from different sources.

Schools offer one of the best venues to learn about sex - responsible sex, matured dating and courtship, parts of the sexual organs - without not having to go into learning about positions of doing sex, unless such topic is taught to more matured youth and already married couples.

Above all reproductive health matters. Go for the RH Bill proposed by Rep. Edcel Lagman. Before we go further about the effect of population increase to development and poverty issues in the country, let me continue talking about sex and the Catholic Church.

I also came across a book published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society telling people to ‘pray before sex’. I was just wondering: before the Our Father or the Hail Mary is finished being chanted, the urge to have sex jumped out of the window. I guess the next best thing to do for the couple is to have a cup of milk then wish their partner goodnight. Tomorrow is another day.

Anyway, the said prayer before sex is aimed at 'purifying their intentions' so that the act is not about selfishness or hedonism. The prayer, which appears in the Prayer Book for Spouses, implores God 'to place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes'. The prayer aims to recognize that God is at the heart of the marriage relationship between husband and wife, and for the Church to affirm the value of marriage and family life. So be it.

Before I go into talking about marriage and sex and family life which I am no expert as I am not married, I better stop here and wish you a happy, spiritual and responsible sexual life. Practice safe sex.

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Domogan quick fix /A demolition story

BULL’S HIT
Rudy Garcia

If you happen to visit the Baguio City Hall nowadays, you could see the system of public service has improved. Perhaps, the credit goes to returning mayor Mauricio Domogan, but there is still a long way to go and changes could happen. If the good mayor makes good his promise of good governance until his term expires, then he deserves a full hand salute, but if he falls back to ningas kugon attitude then, he would surely be a client character of my column……

Adding credit to Domogan’s accomplishments is his fast action on my expose regarding an alleged hulidap by unidentified men believed to be authorities. Two weeks ago a vendor approached us and related his ordeal. Accordingly about three to four persons all male, went to his place where he sells several items at the sidewalk in front of Maharlika Building and started inspecting his wares.

He could do nothing but watch them thinking these men went to inspect and confiscate his wares but much to his surprise, they only got his laptop worth around P4,000. Luckily his co-vendors were able to get the plate number of the gate away vehicle of the hulidapers.

When I wrote the story in my column, I was informed by an insider that the city mayor read it and immediately ordered an investigation, and in just a matter of a day or two, the laptop was returned to the vendor. As a cue, the action of the mayor now serves as a warning to those who are filling their pockets at the expense of the poor vendors. They really have to mend their ways! The city mayor could really mean business. Kuwidaw.
***

Just recently, an old woman and her daughter came to us seeking help perhaps to pray miracles to save their house from being demolished by the city buildings and architecture office demolition team. I explained to them that I am just a plain columnist and could do nothing to stop the demolition, but as I watched the eyes of the old woman who started to cry, my heart dictated my mouth to say “yes” I will help you.

I asked for the documents, and when I assessed them, I was somewhat convinced that their lawyer did not do well to protect them as clients. Sensing that only miracles would save their shelter they stayed in for almost 30 years.

I recommended another lawyer to do the job, but the lawyer said frankly that chances are slim, so the said lady lawyer and a lawyer partner filed a motion to lift /reconsider the dismissal order and to maintain status quo/ and stay the demolition.

Before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Baguio City where the demolition would be enforced, the office of the CBAO was properly furnished the motion including lawyers of other concerned parties. So, the following day of July 21, the hearing started at 9 a.m. with the presence of lawyers from all parties including the lawyer of the old woman.

Accordingly, the judge hearing the case could only give 10 days for the old woman and family to voluntarily vacate their house, which an undertaking by all partners was made. But the funny thing is that while the court proceedings were ongoing, the old husband of the old woman came rushing inside the courtroom saying that their house was presently being demolished.

I am not a lawyer but this made me wonder why the demolition went on while hearing was going on. An absurdity of nature, but then, the act of the demolition would perhaps have rendered the court order moot and academic?

Worst, the 20 thousand cash money of the old couple placed inside one of the drawers in their cabinet was reportedly missing. I am not saying that the demolition team got the money, but I may say that I believe more on the old couple who really cried in front of us.

Well, as the saying goes, the law is harsh but it’s the law, and compassion doesn’t go along with the law, so where are the advocates of human rights if I may ask?

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Entrance exams for PMA and PNPA set

SUPPLEMENTAL KNOWLEDGE
Jhunie B. Wahayna

Able bodied Filipinos who are 17 to 22 years old are invited to take the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) or the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA), cadetship admission test to be conducted nationwide.

To qualify to the stringent cadet admission requirements for PMA and PNPA Class 2015, the applicant must be a natural born Filipino citizen, good moral character (no pending case/s), physically fit, must be single, must be at least 5 ft. 4 in. tall for male and 5 ft. 2 in. for female, at least a high school graduate, and able to perform the minimum requirements for physical fitness test.

For the PMA cadet admission test, the exam will be conducted on August 29.

Application forms are free and available at the nearest Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units around the country or accessed through the internet at http://www.pma.ph where you can apply on-line. You can also download the application form on the said website, and after accomplishing, mail it to:

The Office of Cadet Admission (OCA), Philippine Military Academy, Fort del Pilar, Baguio City 2602, not later than two weeks before the scheduled examination date, together with the following: authenticated or NSO copy of your birth certificate and certified true copy of your High School Form 137, and 2 pieces 2” x 2” ID with white background. Applicants are advised to review their algebra, geometry, grammar and composition, reading comprehension, and verbal/numerical reasoning and pattern analysis lessons.

For the PNPA cadet admission test, the exam will be conducted on Nov.7. Application forms can be accessed through the internet at http://www.pnpa.edu.ph.

You can download the application form on the said website, and after accomplishing, submit it to: The Director, (Attn: Registrar), Philippine National Police Academy, Camp General Mariano N. Castaneda, 4219 Silang, Cavite, together with a self-stamped window envelope. The deadline for submission of the application will be on September 30, 2010. The coverage of examination will be communication skills, math and science, logical and reasoning ability, general information and current events, values and aptitude for the service.

While undergoing the 4-year cadetship program, both PMA and PNPA cadets will be receiving a monthly salary to meet education and training requirements such as uniforms, subsistence, books and other necessary expenditures.

PMA and PNPA cadets are recipient of a full government scholarship. Upon admission, they are entitled to receive a training pay and allowances.

Upon graduation from the Academy, PMA cadets are commissioned Second Lieutenants to the three major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as an officer in the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN), or in the Philippine Air Force (PAF). While PNPA cadets are commissioned Inspectors (equivalent to the rank of a lieutenants in the AFP) to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), or in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) began on October 25, 1898 with the establishment of the Academia Militar in Malolos, Bulacan by virtue of a decree issued by the first president of the young Philippine Republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo.

Graduates were awarded regular commission in the armed forces. Its existence was short-lived, barely four months old, up to 20 January 1899, when hostilities between the Americans and Filipinos erupted.

While the Philippines was under American colonial rule, an officers’ school of the Philippine Constabulary was established at the Walled City of Intramuros in Manila on February 17, 1905.

It relocated three years later to Baguio City, initially at Camp Henry T. Allen, and subsequently at Teacher's Camp, and then finally, due to the need of wider grounds, the academy moved to its present site at Fort Gregorio del Pilar.

The Philippine Legislature on September 8, 1926 passed Act No. 3496 renaming the school into the Philippine Constabulary Academy and lengthened its course from nine months to three years with provisions to strengthen the faculty and revise its curriculum.

On December 21, 1936, Commonwealth Act No. 1 (also known as the National Defense Act) was passed. The law formally created the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and authorized it to confer a Bachelor of Science degree on its graduates after they successfully complete the four year course program.

The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) was formally organized and activated on June 12, 1978 pursuant to Department of National Defense Order no. 83 issued on May 25, 1978. Fifty (50) PNPA cadets were admitted. On August 07, 1980, forty five (45) of them were conferred with Bachelor of Science in Public Safety (BSPS) degree after two years in the academy. They were the first graduates and the pioneer Maharlika Class 1980 of the PNPA.

In January 1997, the Bachelor of Science in Public Safety (BSPS) course was approved into a four year course program by the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) who has the administration and supervision of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).

Today, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) stands at the apex of transformation for the human development of the country’s finest military and public safety officers as it goes beyond the realm of its vision and mission. Both academies continuously take the lead in transforming the Cadet Corps towards its pledge. Good luck to all future examinees.

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The Clothing: From hobby to business

BUSINESS BITS
Roderick L. Abad

Four friends unexpectedly found out that divergent fields do meet, and have profited by it Graffiti was generally equated with vandalism perpetuated by street gangs and political activists who scribbled or painted rude or radical inscriptions, slogans and drawings on walls and other public and private surfaces without permission.

However, political developments in the last few decades worldwide have made graffiti acceptable, considered as street art even, so long as they do not degrade property and structures—remember Western Berliners painting on their side of the Wall in the 1980s before its fall?

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have been quick to recognize in graffiti another art form that could be used to generate business gains. The clothing industry in particular has embraced this form of expression, with Tshirts as the natural canvas for their radical, atypical and even extreme messages.

One of the many clothing brands that carry so-called graffiti shirts is THE, sold by The Clothing at Cubao X, an artists’ haven at the Araneta Center in Quezon City. The Clothing was an offshoot of the common hobby of its founders, Jerik Robleza and Dino Sarmiento, of making T-shirts printed with graffiti designs for their own use. Little did they know that such a shared pastime could have viable business potential.

Early on, Robleza and Sarmiento’s friends and family members who saw them donning their own creations commissioned them to make the same kind of T-shirts for them. The two, with the collaboration of friends Auggie Fontanilla and Mara Reyes, then formalized the business in late 2007.The unique name they adopted for their business, THE, reflected precisely what they envisioned their shirts to become, “a particular member of its class.”

As a part of speech, “the” is a definite article used before a noun, “with a specifying effect.” To start off their venture, the four dipped into their savings and raised P30,000 as seed capital for the business. With this amount, they were able to produce 25 pieces of graffiti shirts they designed with “punk-rock” style. Without a physical store, they would then sell their products online and by joining trade events.

“We would just set up a table and pull up a poster whenever there was an event,” Sarmiento recalls. “And from there, people started to notice our shirts and, eventually, patronized them.”

Although still a newbie in the T-shirt industry with just over two years under its belt, the owners have apparently made a mark in this cutthroat industry where artistry and commitment are key factors.

With “people who love art on shirt” as their target market in mind, they run the business on their own in a “very personalized” way—from conceptualizing to printing and packaging—and in a quick-strike manner, much like graffiti artists who must finish their work on public spaces before the public officer arrives.

The owners are dedicated to showcasing local talents in their shirts by collaborating with a lot of Filipino artists—from local graffiti artists to illustrators, disc jockeys and visual artists. Some of The Clothing’s featured artists are Kid Dragon, Ungga, Boy Agimat, Analog, DJ Eggboy, EPJey, Mara Reyes, Wiji Lacsamana, and Otto Reterdo.

What’s more, they continue to patronize local products by sourcing raw materials from suppliers in Malabon and Quezon City. “Giving importance to Filipino artistry is the strong selling point we have,” says Fontanilla. “This sets us apart from our competitors.” Since the inauguration of The Clothing flagship store at Cubao X in September 2009, T-shirt aficionados have been kind to them. Apart from graffiti shirts, they now offer jeans, hoodies and jackets, as well as denim leggings designed by Reyes.

In the future, Robleza says they hope to connect with boutiques or shops abroad, where they could sell their own line of products.“We wish the artists who design for us to become popular around the world as well,” he stresses.

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