Probe pressed on Chevron: Alarm raised over Poro Point oil spill

>> Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Environmentalists have raised alarm on the extent of the oil spill here at Poro Point bay and pushed for an investigation saying those responsible should be held responsible.

This, as Chief Supt. Franklin J.B. Bucayu, Ilocos police regional director, said his men have been deployed in the area to assist the Coast Guard District Northwestern Luzon to help contain the oil spill and secure the area.

The oil spill began Tuesday while Marine Tanker (M/T) Panglao Island, docked at Pier 1 of Poro Point, was reportedly discharging automotive diesel oil (ADO) to the depot of Chevron Phils, Inc.

“Since this is automotive diesel oil, it evaporates easily and disperses in salt water. There is not much adverse effect since the quantity of the ADO spilled was less than 10,000 liters,” said Coast Guard Capt. George Ursabia.

But environmentalists and local folk said the spill could have negative effects on marine life considering that the area is also fishing grounds of constituents who sell their catch in the province posing health risks.

Residents said the spill could also affect tourism in the area as visitors would stay away knowing the sea was “poisoned” by oil and not fit for swimming, boating or other activities.

They said Chevron Phils. Inc. should be responsible enough in addressing the damage and do necessary clean-up activities so that the image of the area as a tourism site would not be adversely damaged.

Poro Point hosts a casino and has numerous beach resorts in the vicinity.

With the coming summer season, a lot of tourists are expected to flock in the area but with the oil spill, the number of visitors could diminish, observers said. – Alfred Dizon and Freddie G. Lazaro

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Trinidad worker hits lotto jackpot

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- They were six digits he just picked from the calendar seven years ago.

But this 54-year-old laborer from this capital town, had placed bets for the six-digit combination – 39-2-1-33-3-23 – in the 6/55 Grand Lotto since then.

Initially, the laborer, who is still single, won P2,000 for getting four digits right in a lotto draw, and later, the P150,000 second prize.

Last Monday Feb. 20, the six-digit combination finally brought the 6/55 Lotto jackpot to him – P30 million.

Jose Ferdinand Rojas, general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, said the laborer claimed his prize at their office Feb. 23.

Rojas quoted the lucky bettor as saying that he would share his winnings with his brother and sister and that he plans to put up a grocery store.

“With you winning, you can now find a wife,” Rojas told the laborer as he handed him a check for P30 million.

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Monro 8 case: Probe pushed on sex trafficking in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY -- Allegations on the growing incidence of sexually trafficked women in this resort city has caught the attention of lady councilors here compelling them to call for the conduct of a legislative inquiry on the matter.

A proposed resolution introduced by councilor Perlita L. Chan-Rondez, and co-authored by councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Philian Louise Weygan-Allan, and Karminn Dinney Yangot, several concerned personalities in the city invited stakeholders to attend the next regular session of the city council and shed light on the alleged growing incidence of sexually trafficked women in the City.

Under the said proposed resolution, those invited include Police Senior Insp. DivinaMencio, head of the Children and Women’s Desk of the Baguio City Police Office, Betty Fangasan of the Office of the City Social Welfare, CristioLagyop of the Business Permits and Licensing Office and Mila Singson of the Gabriela Women’s Partylist and other Women Non-government organizations.

The said legislative inquiry is an offshoot of a recent alleged sexual trafficking incident wherein eight young women from Davao were rescued from a disco bar in the City after allegedly being forced to work as sex workers inside the said establishment.

As narrated in the proposed resolution, the nongovernment organization Innabuyog-Gabriela through Mila Singson received a report from a Lani Flores of LawigBubay-Gabriela Davao, stating that the eight young women asked to be rescued from a bar along Bokawkan Road called Monro Disco Bar.

The said young women who were later rescued through the assistance provided by Singson claimed to have been forced to work as sex workers allegedly by a Korean national known as Henry Soo and a recruiter by the name of Nora Chang.

In calling for the legislative inquiry, the lady legislators cited that the case of the “Monro 8” might not be an isolated incident and there is a need to invite all the personalities named in the proposed resolution to shed light on the true gravity of the incidence of trafficked women and children in Baguio and what legislation can be passed to strengthen the city’s drive to eradicate the trafficking of women and children in the City.

Also having learned that the Monro Disco Bar is still operating even without any valid business permit, the lady legislators requested the appearance of Lagyop during the inquiry and shed light on reports that there are disco bars, nightclubs, billiard halls, and other similar establishments serving, selling and dispensing liquor, without the appropriate business permits.

The lady legislators further noted that these business establishments are purportedly being used as fronts for sex dens where women are sexually trafficked in Baguio. It was further noted in the said proposed resolution that the continued operations of these establishments tend to promote sex trafficking and sex tourism in Baguio and that conversely, their immediate closure will likewise immediately arrest its incidence.

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Ecija cop chief sacked amid mayor's murder

CABANATUAN CITY– The police chief of Guimba town has been removed from his post following the ambush-killing of Carranglan Mayor Restituto Abad last Feb. 4.

Senior Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, provincial police director, said Supt. Renato David, Guimba police chief, has been placed on floating status at the provincial police headquarters here.

David was replaced by Supt. Reynaldo de la Cruz.

Aliggayu said David’s relief came as an offshoot of the attack on Abad who was waylaid while on his way to a meeting of fellow Masons in Guimba town.

He died four days later at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

Aliggayu said he has created a special task force to hunt down Abad’s killers.

The eight-man task force is led by Supt. Sidney Villaflor, deputy provincial director for operations.

Gov. Aurelio Umali, a close political ally of Abad, has offered a P1-million reward for information leading to the arrest of the mayor’s ambushers.

During the necrological rites for Abad, Umali said the mayor’s family should get justice.

Earlier, police arrested a suspect, a certain Jose Berlino. But the alleged triggerman, Jonathan Carpio, remains at large.

Aliggayu said Carpio is the key to the eventual solution of the case, including the identification of the possible mastermind.

“He is the key to it all. He will reveal everything,” he said. -- MG

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House committee okays Cordillera autonomy bill

By Dexter A. See


BAGUIO CITY – The House committee on local government approved in the committee level House Bill 5595 that seeks to create an autonomous region in the Cordillera pursuant to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution.

The Cordillera Administrative Region was organized by virtue of Executive Order No. 220 which was signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino on July 15, 1987 and it was meant to prepare the region for autonomous status. It is composed of the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City from Region I and Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao from Region II.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who chaired the third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee (TAADC) that produced the salient provisions of HB 5595, said the swift approval of the Cordillera autonomy bill in the House committee level is an initial victory for Cordillerans who had been longing for the attainment of self-governance.

“Autonomy will allow Cordillerans to have greater control of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from outside forces which will mean that we can decide on what will be good for the development of our region,” Domogan stressed, citing that the establishment of the autonomous regional government will be effective in administering the affairs of the Cordillera without supervision and control from the central government pursuant to the present set up.

According to him, the issuance of water rights, exploration permits, mining permits among other sensitive permits issued by the national government will be downloaded to the regional government since the regional officials are more appraised of the prevailing condition in the region unlike the present set up where there are numerous questions on the water rights and mining permits issued by the central government due to lack of coordination and consultation with the affected indigenous peoples.

Vergara explained once autonomy will be achieved by the Cordillerans, there will be greater volume of infrastructure projects that will be downloaded to the regional government similar to what is being enjoyed by the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where it is receiving around P12. 3 billion from the national government which is over and above the appropriation of the regional line agencies and the local governments comprising the region.

Kalinga Gov. Jocel C. Baac, chairman of the Regional Development Council in the Cordillera, said the more than six years of preparing the Cordillera for autonomy is now paying off with the hope that Congress will not water down the contents of the autonomy bill so that the people will be encouraged to ratify the autonomy law when submitted to them for ratification in the future.

HB 5595 entitled “An Act Creating An Autonomous Region in the Cordillera” was filed in the House of Representatives last December 6, 2012. It was originally authored by Baguio City Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Apayao Rep. Eleanor Bulut-Bengtang. One day after the bill was filed, Ifugao Rep. TeodoroBaguilat, Jr. and Mountain Province Rep. MaximoDalog, Sr. decided to join the authors of the bill to show the unity of Cordillera congressmen in the quest for the long overdue regional autonomy.

Negros Occidental 2nd district Rep. George Arnaiz, chairman of the House committee on local government, said the Cordillera autonomy bill will be scheduled for second reading and for plenary debates the soonest after Valenzuela City Rep. MagtanggolGunigundo moved that all the members of the committee will be co-authors of the bill.

“The Cordillera autonomy bill has been twice approved in the House during the previous Congresses. As a matter of tradition, bills that have been previously approved and debated upon in the House will be passed upon to ensure its speedy enactment,” Leyte 2nd district Rep. SegioApostol said after moving for the approval of the Cordillera autonomy bill in the committee level thereby foregoing with whatever debates on the matter.

In the Senate, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III filed Senate Bill (SB) 3115 entitled “An Act to Establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region” as the counterpart bill for HB 5595 to ensure the realization of the region’s quest for self-governance since he believes in the concept of autonomy as a vehicle to speed up development in depressed communities.

Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of the autonomous regions of Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures and other relevant characteristics within the framework of the Constitution, the national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country.

Earlier, the RDC-CAR requested President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to certify the Cordillera autonomy bill as a priority administration measure since the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera will guarantee robust economic growth, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism development as well help people move out from the shackles of poverty because of greater control of the region’s resources by the autonomous regional government.

The Cordillera autonomy bill is composed of 17 articles and 173 sections that evolve around five major principles such as the establishment of a permanent regional identity for the Cordillera, no reduction in the benefits and powers of local governments, nationally paid officials and employees will continue to be nationally paid, grant of a subsidy to the Autonomous Regional Government by the national government in the amount of P10 billion for the first five years and P5 billion for the succeeding five years and the continuous support of the national government to the Regional government after the expiration of the 10year subsidy period.

The third attempt for regional autonomy came after the RDC-CAR made autonomy as one of its overarching concern in order to realize more development efforts to be brought to the rural communities in the country.

The Cordillera had its first attempt in achieving autonomous status on January 30, 1990 but it was only the province of Ifugao which voted in favor. On March 7, 1998, the second autonomy law was subjected to a plebiscite but only the province of Apayao ratified it.

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Court junks 2 men’s claim over Anglican Church compound

By Francis Degay


BONTOC, Mountain Province – A local court here ruled against two men who forcibly entered the Anglican Church compound here and declared the area as their property.

Judge Luis Daoen of the Municipal Trial Court 1st Judicial Region here ruled Feb. 8, in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines against defendants Christian Kanongkong and Joseph Sapki declaring what they did was forcible entry.

The plaintiff was represented by Victor Ananayo of EDNP.

Court records bared the case arose on Aug. 1, 2011 when the defendants intruded the eastern portion of the All Saints compound by planting banana suckers.

` Later on Oct. 16, 2011, the defendants built a small shack near the garage of the GL (Lizardo) Trans.

As a result of this, Fr. Amos Kollin, dean of the Cathedral of All Saints, conducted a dialogue with the intruders but it was futile as the latter insisted their claim on the subject area of around 3,598 square meters.

Hence, on Dec. 5, 2011, the EDNCP filed a case of forcible entry against Kanongkong and Sapki.

Judge Daoen based his decision by giving credit to Torrens Title, Certificate of Title No. 7 issued on Jan. 9, 1914 under the name of the Bishop of the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA.

This was later on transferred to the Episcopal Church in the Philippines on Oct 6, 1995.

Moreover, the judge also recognized the improvements made by the Anglican Church such as buildings and other structures within and fences around the perimeter of the lot.

Sometime June 1989, about six claimants including Sapki cultivated a portion of the eastern part of the church lot.

Due to an agreement with the church representatives, the claimants left and stopped their farming activities.

In 1991, Sapki attempted to claim a small portion of the lot but the church didn’t recognize his
declaration.

The area in question is located within the 12,940 square meter lot owned by the Anglican Church.

It houses the Cathedral of All Saints, All Saints Mission Elementary School, an open gym, Sibley memorial hall, two female dormitories, several houses for clergy and diocesan staff and the garage being rented by the GL (Lizardo) Trans Company.

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Smart starts ‘advanced’ North Luzon network

Wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) started last week the first and only Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Baguio City, in time for the annual Panagbenga festival -- marking the introduction of LTE in Northern Luzon.

LTE is the most advanced fourth generation (4G) wireless technology, capable of speeds of 100 Mbps and above. With LTE, users can download movies in minutes, stream flawlessly in High Definition, and engage in other media-rich online activities like gaming, at breakneck speeds.

“We are very pleased that residents of Baguio City and the tourists that are expected to flock to the city during Panagbenga will be among the first to experience the future of mobile broadband, which is LTE,” said Rolando G. Peña, head for technology of both Smart and parent company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT).

First deployed by Smart in Boracay and Cebu and now live in most parts of Metro Manila, the LTE deployment in the City of Pines is in line with PLDT and Smart’s recent announcement that they will complete their P67.1 billion network transformation initiative by mid-2012.

“In line with our Internet for All advocacy, in the coming months we will bring LTE to other cities and municipalities all over the Philippines, as we upgrade our network and make it world-class, while at the same time, make it more stable and more reliable,” added Peña.

PLDT and Smart’s network transformation involves the replacement of existing radio base station equipment with state-of-the-art facilities that enable Smart to expand its 3G network and rapidly deploy 4G mobile phone technologies such as LTE and HSPA+ or Enhanced High-Speed Packet Access.

The initiative also involves the roll out of more fiber optic cables (FOCs) to connect Smart’s base stations to the rest of the network. FOCs enable the network to carry data traffic in greater volumes and faster speeds, with greater resiliency.

To date, over half of Smart base stations are already 4G-ready -- supported by more than 45,000 kilometers of FOCs fully covering mainland Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and arranged in ‘loops’.
‘Looping’ allows data to be redirected to other avenues or channels, should one channel of connectivity be cut, thus making the PLDT group’s network the most comprehensive and most resilient in the Philippines.

“It is especially meaningful for us to deploy LTE in Baguio City, as this is one of the areas where we first laid down our digital fiber optic network traversing several key Northern Luzon places, including the Ilocos region, Aparri, Cagayan, Cabanatuan, La Union, among others,” added Peña.

Then, as in now, PLDT and Smart expect that providing the most advanced cellular and data infrastructure in the summer capital of the country will help Baguio City attract more companies to consider it as a potential destination for offshore operations, and encourage tourism, given the connectivity it provides .

“With a faster data pipe and a world-class mobile infrastructure, there are no limits to what subscribers in Baguio City can experience – only Smart can give them the technology of the future, now,” Peña said.


Aside from extending the reach and speed of its mobile Internet services, Smart’s network transformation initiative will also strengthen its voice call and SMS services and raise the overall quality of its services in Baguio City.




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Police launch manhunt for killer: Cagayan DENR exec slay suspect charged

By Charlie Lagasca


BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Police have launched a manhunt for the suspected gunman in the killing earlier this month of a female forestry specialist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Cagayan.

This, even as police said the suspect, Adorable Caligan Jr., who hails from Claveria town, was formally charged for the killing of Melania Dirain, forestry specialist of the DENR’s community environment and natural resources office in Sanchez Mira town.

A widow, Dirain, whose job also included the monitoring of the transport of illegal logs and other forest products, was attacked by a lone gunman right inside her office on the night of Feb. 7.

Senior Supt. Mao Aplasca, Cagayan police director, said murder charges have been filed against Caligan before the provincial prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, or two weeks after the killing.

Dirain’s killing has being linked to her having a hand in the confiscation of thousands of board feet of illegal logs in her jurisdiction, including the recent interception in Ilocos Norte of some 20,000 board feet of illegally sawn lumber reportedly sourced from Cagayan.

Aplasca said Caligan is believed to be a gun-for-hire tapped by an illegal logging syndicate to kill Dirain.

Earlier, Benjamin Tumaliuan, DENR regional executive director, said their office had earmarked P250,000 for the gunman’s arrest.

The suspect, according to reports, is a resident of adjoining Claveria town where 42-year-old Dirain also hails from.

“We are now working out (Caligan’s) arrest and we believe that with his capture we will be able to get an idea who the mastermind in the killing is,” Aplasca said.

“Actually, we are already closing in on the suspected mastermind,” he added.

Aplasca said they were able to file charges against Caligan after a witness positively identified him as the gunman.

Aplasca said information from witnesses as well as the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, which caught the gunman, provided them vital leads in the case.

“We are starting to believe that the victim had been set up for a kill, since information indicated that somebody had called her up which made her hurriedly return to her office, even if she was already at home,” Aplasca said.

Saying that his men are now more inclined to believe that the crime was job-related, Aplasca said authorities are now verifying who Dirain was talking to on the phone, especially since she had addressed the other person on the line as “Sir.”

“This means there is a possibility that Dirain knew the mastermind but she was naturally unaware that she was being set up,” he said.

“We are now requesting the DENR that we be given access to their records so that we could verify more easily those who she had been taking to,” he added.

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Cleanest and greenest barangay contest on as part of Panagbenga fest

By Julie G. Fianza


BAGUIO CITY – As part of Baguio Flower Festival 2012, the search for the cleanest and greenest barangay from among the 128 barangays, including the roadside, garden and landscaping contest, is on.

The contest is part of the administrative order issued by Mayor Mauricio Domogan last year for the Panagbenga 2012 activities.

According to Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, chairperson for the search committee, the contest criteria and guidelines was approved during an earlier barangay coordinators meeting.

In an meeting with the search committee also, it was agreed that the contest goes on, although the awarding shall be done in May.

This is for the barangays to have enough time to prepare their respective barangays including roadside, garden and landscapes, as they are all considered as contestants.

The competition which utilizes only one set of criteria, introduces a fresh approach in the first stage of judging, where barangay officials participate in the district level.

Said criteria is; cleanliness and orderliness, 40%; greening, garden and landscaping, 35%; and sustainable innovation and initiatives, 25%. The last criterion is an off-shoot of previous experiences where garden-entries are abandoned after the contest. Accordingly, the gardens are expected to be sustained and maintained for next year’s festival

The punong barangay or his duly authorized representative in each district composes the district level judges, which shall conduct visitation and judging of barangays from another district.

The 20 district coordinators, which shall act as district judges shall draw lots simultaneously, to select their place of judging, with a representative from the Special Services Division and the Office of Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda. No district judges shall be allowed to visit and judge its own district.

As to the guidelines, the barangay with the highest tabulated score shall automatically be the district entry to the contest. Any tie in the scores should be decided by the district judges.

Results shall be submitted to the city level judges who shall go on with the validation, through visitation of the actual entries.

Cash prizes and trophies shall be awarded on May 7, 2012 during the flag ceremony at the city hall grounds.

The barangays are given until March 31 to prepare their gardens and barangays for the contest, as district judging shall be done on April 10-21. District winners shall be submitted to the city level judges on April 24, while the city level judging shall be on April 25-30.

Councilor Tabanda heads the committee, with Ms. Cathy Dela Rosa as co-chairperson. Ms. OnieAguinalde, Special Services Division of the City Mayor’s Office OIC Noel Mabutas, Public Information Officer Ramon Dacawi, Councilor Philian Louise Weygan-Allan, Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez, Councilor Joel Alangsab, Councilor NicasioPalaganas, Atty. George Fortea of the Congressman’s Office, Architect Joseph Alabanza and CEPMO head Cordelia Lacsamana are members of the committee.

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Panagbenga home in Camp John Hay

BAGUIO CITY -- Seventeen years since it was founded, the Panagbenga Festival, previously known as the Baguio Flower Festival, is coming home to Camp John Hay.

The festival was conceptualized at the time of the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC, John Hay Management Corporation today) in 1995 by lawyer Damaso E. Bangaoet, Jr., then JPDC vice president.

Implemented in 1996, Panagbenga has grown to be the premier festival in the Cordillera and has become one of the most popular festivals in the country, inspiring the birth of festivals all over the Philippines.

Born from the people of Baguio’s love for flowers, the festival was spearheaded by JPDC and its mother corporation, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) during the first few years of its existence.

This year, JHMC has slated several events to celebrate Panagbenga in Camp John Hay.

First is the street dancing and drum and lyre parade which will commence at the John Hay Gate 2 at 11 a.m. on Feb. 26 and traverse the thoroughfares of the camp until the Historical Core, where the Bell House is located.

The dancers and bands are participants in the main Panagbenga event.

Second, there will be an exhibit of top winning floats within the camp on Feb. 27 at the Camp John Hay Bell House grounds from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. where they will be on display until the 29th.

A Fujifilm mobile photo van will be parked at the entrance of the Historical Core, to take instant souvenir photos of visitors.

To cap the activities, JHMC will be unveiling at the Bell House on March 4 at 9 a.m. a brass marker and a gigantic replica of the Panagbenga sunflower logo to honor the pioneers of the festival.

The unveiling is open to the public and will be spearheaded by BCDA and JHMC board of directors, led by BCDA chairman FelicitoPayumo, BCDA president ArnelPaciano Casanova, JHMC chairman Silvestre Afable, Jr. and JHMC president Dr. Jamie Eloise Agbayani.

According to Dr. Agbayani, “This is one of the many ways we honor those who conceptualized, crafted and labored for the greatest of the Cordillera festivals. It is but fitting to put the marker here at the heart of Camp John Hay because it is here where the beautiful idea that is the Panagbenga Festival was born.”

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3 farmers nabbed for motorcycle theft

BUGUIAS, Benguet – Police arrested Feb.1 three farmers for running away with a motorcycle parked in front of the Clement Building here in Barangay Abatan.

Police, led by Chief Insp. Damian D. Olsim nabbed Agustin S. Bekesan, 20 and Jordan S. Alumit, 21, both of Balili, Mankayan town in the province.

Also arrested was Rogel B. Tanacio, 20, of Sipitan, Bakun town.
A police report said the suspects were nabbed for theft of a RUSI Motorcyle recovered at Cotcot, Bangao, Buguias owned by Jose T. Pumahing, 23,businessman and resident of Alapang, Buguias.

The report said Pumahing parked his motorcycle in front of Clement Building, only to find it missing when he returned.

He immediately informed Buguias police who immediately responded and recovered the motorcycle on same date.

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PRC registration slated for nursing exam passers

BAGUIO CITY -- The Professional Regulation Commission and the Board of Nursing have announced the results of the Dec. 2011 nurses licensure examination administered in 15 testing centers nationwide.

Cordillera PRC regional director Teofilo Gaius M. Sison Jr. bared this saying out of 67,095 examinees, 22,760 or 33.92% passed.

In Baguio City, 1,051 out of 3,556 or 29.56% examinees successfully hurdled the test.

In La Union, 618 out of 2,278 or 27.13% examinees passed while in Pangasinan, 691 out of 2,736 or 25.26% examinees passed.

In Cabanatuan, 315 out of 1,720 or 18.31% examinees passed.

Sison said pursuant to PRC Resolution No. 2004-223 dated July 19, 2004, results of the examination are final and viewing of test papers or filing of request for reconsideration of failing grades after the release of the results of the examination is not allowed.

Initial registration for new passers started on Feb. 22, at the PRC Baguio Regional Office.

Sison added only successful Baguio examinees shall register at the Regional Office pursuant to Commission Office Order No. 2009-90 dated February 19, 2009.

The order provides for a “Register where you took the exam” policy.

To decongest the regional office and save on travel expenses, the regional office will process initial registration outside of Baguio.

New nurses are advised to take their oath where they register. In coordination with Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) local chapters and the city government of Dagupan, the schedule of registration is as follows: Dagupan City, Feb. 28; Laoag City, March 8; Vigan City, March 9 with venues to be announced later.

Successful examinees shall personally register in order to sign on the Registry of Professionals with the following requirements:

o Duly accomplished Oath Form or PanunumpangPropesyonal;
o 2012 Community Tax Certificate (Cedula);
o Two (2) pieces passport-size pictures (colored with white background and name tag);
o One (1) piece 1”x1” picture (colored with white background and name tag);
o One (1) piece documentary stamp; Original and photocopy of NSO Birth Certificate (original copy for presentation purposes only); and Initial Registration Fee of P600.00 and Annual Registration Fee of P450.00 for 2012-2015.

For more details, visit the PRC Baguio blogsite http://www.prcbaguio.blogspot.com.

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Nueva Vizcaya heavy traffic to be solved

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — A solution will be worked out to ease traffic congestion in portions of the national highway in Bambang town, this province, Gov. Luisa Cuaresma said recently.

The governor said she made an appeal to the Philippine National Police, the Department of Public Works and Highways and project contractors to coordinate efforts to manage the flow of traffic in the area because commuters have been complaining about the situation, particularly in Barangays Abian and Tophill. Senior Supt. Elmer Beltejar, Police Provincial Office director, vowed to deploy more police officers to assist in the orderly flow of traffic.

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Critical habitat for Phl duck declared in Isabela

CABAGAN, Isabela - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has declared at least 178 hectares of land in this town a habitat for the Philippine duck.


DENR Secretary Ramon Paje signed Administrative Order No. 2012-01 declaring the Malasi Tree Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Barangay San Antonio, Cabagan a critical habitat for the Philippine duck (Anasluzonica) and other water bird species.

The designation of the critical habitat is in accordance with Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

“This is a major step to conserve and protect the Philippine duck as the area becomes now a protected area, which means that the communities around it should make an effort to minimize human activities that will have adverse impact to the animal,” Paje said.

Critical habitats are areas that are preserved to support the perpetual existence of a certain plant or animal species, whether they are migratory or naturally occurring in these areas.

Under the administrative order, the DENR-Region 2 is tasked to manage the Malasi sanctuary in partnership with the Cabagan municipal government and other concerned organizations, and in accordance with a Critical Habitat Management Plan specifically prepared for the area.

“They are to ensure that any developmental activities within or in the periphery of the declared critical habitat would undergo the necessary assessment process to safeguard the area’s ecological integrity,” Paje said.

The DENR-Region 2 is also tasked to enforce all applicable environmental laws, especially those governing acts prohibited by RA 9147 such as dumping of waste products, human settlement, mineral exploration or extraction, burning, logging or quarrying.

The Philippine duck has been described as “the tropical version of the mallard,” a type of duck commonly found in more temperate regions such as the Americas and Europe.

Its population has been on a decline, prompting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to classify it as “vulnerable” under its Red List of Threatened Species.

The Malasi area is already familiar among avid birdwatchers as it is a known sanctuary of various species of ducks, herons, and other migrant birds. It has been found to support a significant population of the Philippine duck.

In September 2011, the DENR also declared a 27-hectare wetland area in Cabusao, Camarines Sur a critical habitat for the Philippine duck.

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Bontoc LGU gets P1-M for ‘good housekeeping’

By Wabilyn Mana-od


BONTOC, Mountain Province – This capital town will get a P1 million subsidy under the government’s Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) for having passed the 2011 assessment in the “seal of good housekeeping.”

This town was cited for collective efforts of the local government and employees on good governance and performance in demonstrating transparency and greater accountability while encouraging constituents and stakeholders’ participation in sound fiscal management .

During the Monday program at the municipal quadrangle here, a certificate of recognition was awarded to the municipal government and received by Mayor PascualSacgaca from Local government operations officer CaridadBasilio.

The latter said the P1 million shall aid the municipality’s local development initiatives aligned with priorities of the national government.

Basilio said the PCF shall be in the form of a counterpart funding for local development projects like boosting tourism and local economy to include preparing for disasters.

Sacgaca extended his appreciation to personnel of the municipal government urging them to improve their performance.

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Veggie trader gets life term for selling shabu

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- A driver, who is also a vegetable trader at the Trading Post here, was convicted to life imprisonment Feb. 22 by the Regional Trial Court for shabu-related drug law violations.

This, nearly eight years and five months after the convict’s initial arrest for the offenses, said a press statement released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Cordillera regional office.

Archer “Archie” T. Calsi, alias , was found guilty for selling shabu and also fined half a million pesos.

He was further penalized with 12 years and one day to 14 years and eight months term, and fined P300,000 for possession of shabu.

Court records said Calsi was a shabu distributor to drivers and vegetable traders at the Vegetable Trading Post in La Trinidad.

Calsi, then 30 years old, married, college undergraduate, native and resident of Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, sold a sachet of .2 gram shabu to a PDEA agent who posed as a bus conductor using shabu, in an evening buy-bust operation on Sept. 29, 2003 along the Halsema Highway, about 500 meters away from the main gate of Camp Dangwa, the regional police office.

During his apprehension, the convict yielded seven more sachets of shabu weighing of 1.40 grams.

Calsi was detained after his capture, but was released on Dec 23, 2003, by virtue of a resolution dated Dec. 16, 2003 issued by Prosecutor I Raymond P. Botengan, dismissing the charge, finding lack of prima facie evidence.

However, on January 23, 2004, Provincial Prosecutor Felix T. Cabading, issued another resolution that recalled and set aside the earlier released resolution and formally accused Calsi of violating Sections 5 and 11 of the new drug law.

Despite the issuance on Feb. 18, 2004 of warrants for his arrest, the accused was nabbed only on Jan. 20, 2007 at Belance, Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya.

His counsel was reportedly a known defense attorney of drug offenders in Baguio City.

Calsi mentioned under oath that his wife’s family lived at the Crystal Cave area in Baguio City and that his mother-in-law owned a store there.

Crystal Cave had been identified as one of the major drug-affected areas in the city by the PDEA.

Meanwhile, the RTC ruled “the sachets containing the methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) are forfeited in favor of the government and to be turned over to the PDEA for proper disposition”.

The press statement said the arrest and conviction of Calsi was a result of the regional campaign plan “Amihan” 2012 of the PDEA Cordillera Administrative Region under Director Gil Cesario P. Castro.

“We are ensuring the putting behind bars and conviction of drug personalities, through well-planned operations, completeness of supporting documents, readiness of our witnesses and prioritization of court duties,” Castro said.

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HS junior slain by fellow student

MALOLOS CITY– A 14-year-old high school junior was stabbed dead by a fellow student while another was wounded in an alleged gang war at Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School here on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident drew condemnation from students and alumni of the school, the largest in Central Luzon with over 10,000 enrollees.

The suspect, 16, was presented by his family to the police hours after the incident. He is now in the custody of city social workers.

Supt. David Poklay, city police chief, said the victim, together with his classmates, were waiting for his teacher when the suspect and other students barged into the classroom and started beating him up.

The victim’s classmates tried to help him but he was repeatedly stabbed.

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DA pushes native animal development in Cordillera

By Delfina Layagan


BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture Cordillera is now implementing a program that supports production of native livestock by interested beneficiaries in the region.

OIC regional executive director Marilyn V. Sta. Catalina said the DA regional office here was tasked to promote the conservation and utilization of domesticated native “food” animals.

She said under DA Administrative Order No. 15, series of 2010, the implementation of the Philippine Native Animal Development Program (PNAD) envisions to provide “pride, health, and wealth” to local raisers of native livestock.

Right now, this is being pushed through the conservation, production and marketing of native animals under a sustainable environment, she added.

Dr. Anthony Bantog, regional DA livestock and regulatory division chief said there are several opportunities in native livestock production.

He said native animals have the ability to adapt, survive, and reproduce under adverse conditions and that growing these require low inputs.

Bantog added domesticated native livestock are known to be more resistant to diseases and a growing number of consumers indicated that the meat of native livestock are superior in taste.

Meat of native livestock reportedly now command premium price, and have neutraceutical benefits while there is an increasing shift in consumer preference toward natural products with unique taste, texture and flavor.

In the Cordillera, the DA regional office has already started implementing its assistance for native livestock production with the distribution of 460 heads of native swine.

These were delivered to farmer beneficiaries under the sericulture and other agri-related livelihood projects implemented in Bakun and Kapangan, Benguet; and, Tinglayan, Kalinga.

The office is also set to procure an additional 160 heads of native swine to be distributed to beneficiaries in the six provinces of the Cordillera as part of DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala’s commitments during his visit to the region.

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Measures set for tourists as they flock to beaches

By Mydz Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- Tourists and local folks are expected to flock to the famous beaches in Pangasinan as the hot summer months and the annual Pista’yDayat festivities are fast approaching.

To ensure their safety and security, Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. has tasked the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to institute measures to prevent drowning and crime.

Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan led a coordinating conference of the PDRRMC committee on Feb. 16 to tackle such precautionary measures.

“We have to be alert so we are coming up with practical measures to save lives,” he said as he asked the full participation of the community, especially those in the coastal areas.

The committee is composed of the PDRRMC, Department of Health, Philippine Maritime, Philippine Coastguard, Philippine Navy, Philippine National Police, Provincial Health Office, Water Search and Rescue Team, Provincial Engineer’s Office, Tourism Operations Division, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Provincial Information Office, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and owners of beach sheds and resorts.

The agenda included the effect of high tide and low tide in the beach and its relationship with the incidence of drowning; installation of nets with buoyants to delineate the swimming area; installation of signages (paalala) and colored flaglets on top of beach towers; establishment of tourist assistance centers; emergency facilities and equipment such as megaphones, salbabida, life jackets/vests and whistle; and the assigning of beach watchers or lifeguards in strategic areas.

A core group was later formed to oversee implementation of the program.

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Wanted man in top 5 drug list nabbed

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Police arrested a young man here Feb. 21 in a buy-bust operation.

Nabbed was Rogel B. Igualdo, 26of Tanggawan, Buguias, Benguet, resident of km 4, Pico, La Trinidad and listed as top 5 in the target list of drug personalities in the province.

Confiscated from the suspect were four sachets of shabu weighing 0.93 grams valued at P5,580.

Pieces of evidence were turned over to the police crime laboratory here at Camp Dangwa, the regional police office for chemical analysis.

The suspect is now under police while documents for inquest proceedings were set to be filed against him.

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Wanted man in top 5 drug list nabbed

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Police arrested a young man here Feb. 21 in a buy-bust operation.

Nabbed was Rogel B. Igualdo, 26of Tanggawan, Buguias, Benguet, resident of km 4, Pico, La Trinidad and listed as top 5 in the target list of drug personalities in the province.

Confiscated from the suspect were four sachets of shabu weighing 0.93 grams valued at P5,580.

Pieces of evidence were turned over to the police crime laboratory here at Camp Dangwa, the regional police office for chemical analysis.

The suspect is now under police while documents for inquest proceedings were set to be filed against him.

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11 college theater groups meet at BSU, tackle social issues

By JennelynTabangcura


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Eleven college, university and community based theater groups gathered for the 6th Tanghal held here Feb. 9-11 which presented social issues regarding oil price hikes, activism, abuse of natural resources, suicide, among others.

This, through partnership of the National Center for Culture and the Arts, BSU-Center for Culture and the Arts, Luzon Arts and Culture Network, Inc., Datu Lubay Center Inc., Dap-Ayan Ti Kultura iti Kordilyera, UP-Tanghalang Bayan ng Kabataan sa Baguio and Tanghalang SLU.

Tanghal is an annual festival of national university/college and community-based theaters by the NCCA-National Committee on Dramatic Arts launched in 2007.

The 6th Tanghal was held as part of the activities for the National Arts Month 2012 with the theme “Tradisyon at Inobasyon”.

The plays were categorized into entablado which lasts up to 45 minutes and sulyap which lasts up to 15 minutes.

Different themes were symbolized in the 11 plays shown in the festival.

Values and lessons from the lives of cultural gods were portrayed in Tanghalang SLU’s Ang Kagila-gilalas na Buhay ni Lam-ang, BSU Dramatic Club’s Ang Alamat ni Apo Anno and Cordillera Theater Group’s Lumawig. Obon di Malayad of Mt. Province gave way to the recently organized Cordillera Theater Group based in BSU.

Social issues regarding oil price hikes, activism, abuse of natural resources and suicide were presented in Banggerahan by the Colegio de San Juan De Letran-Department of Culture and Arts of Calamba, Laguna, Apaw by the Teatro Dingal of RMTU, Iba, Zambales, Gayon by the Sorsogon Community-based Theater Group Inc. Signos sa Karimlan by the Dulaang Sanghaya of Laguna State Polytechnic College, Alayb pa si Lolo by the Korido Theater Ensemble and Tatlong Libong Bayaning Ibalong by the Sining Banwa Albay Performance Inc. of Taysan, Legazpi City.

These plays combined provoking monologues, dances and songs. The Korido Theater Ensemble for their part encouraged audience participation.

Candid struggles of being a student was portrayed in AngPakikipagsapalaranni Juan Dela Cruz by the the Tanghalang Bayan ngKabataansa Baguio of UP-Baguio and Isko, Iska, BakitBa?by the Umalohokan, Inc. of UP Los Baños, Laguna.

While Charles Canuto of the La Trinidad LGU sees theater as one way of supporting culture, the TeatroDingal of RMTU from Iba, Zambales said they don’t only entertain but they also aim to inspire everyone to make a difference. For Colegio de San Juan De Letran-Department of Culture and Arts, its members are one in stating that the purpose of what they do is to advocate and raise the awareness of their audiences.

Aside from the plays, the three-day activity also included workshops on technical theater, heritage-based pedagogy, indigenous based theater, scriptwriting and stage management and a colorful parade from the BSU-CCA Historical Museum to the ATI-CAR.

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City to rebid Asin mini-hydro project

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

By Aileen P. Refuerzo


BAGUIO CITY – The city government will rebid the Asin mini-hydroelectric plant operation and rehabilitation before the end of the month.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan and city budget officer Leticia Clemente who heads the Special Bids and Awards Committee confirmed this last week following the failure of the first bidding conducted last Jan. 27.

The first canvassing was nullified as no company was able to satisfy the requirements set under the terms of reference for the project.

Six companies served intention to participate in the bidding but only Benguet Electric Coop. Inc. tendered an actual offer.

However, the firm was disqualified for failing in some requirements including its lack of registration with the Cooperative Development Authority.

Clemente said all interested firms including Beneco can join the rebidding.

As this developed, the SBAC denied the motion filed by Beneco for reconsideration of the committee’s earlier decision declaring the power firm as ineligible to participate in the bidding.

“The Committee resolves to deny the motion as the ground raised are unmeritorious. The committee does not see reason to stretch out the explicit provisions of the Terms of Reference and the provisions if law on bidding,” the committee noted in Board Resolution No. 2 series of 2012 issued Feb. 14 where it added that it has no authority “to modify, alter or revoke any provision on the (TOR).”

Clemente said the SBAC declared Beneco ineligible to participate in the bidding process, “using non-discretionary pass/fail criteria.”

The power firm on Feb. 2 filed a motion for reconsideration justifying its position and qualifications. It said the basis for disqualification was “harsh and restrictive.”

The power firm also said the CDA registration “is irrelevant and immaterial to power generation which is highly technical and capital intensive.”

It cited its efforts in submitting a carefully studied bid beneficial to both the city and residents and that it came prepared complete with all its books and that it was “given the window to file its bid when the city mayor allegedly approved its appeal to be allowed to participate in the bidding.”

The mayor said the requirement for CDA registration may be disregarded because if Beneco cannot qualify as a cooperative, then it can still join in as a legal entity existing under its own charter.
“But as it is, I was informed that other than the lack of CDA registration, there are other bases for Beneco’s disqualification and not only the CDA requirement,” he said.

The Asin minihydro rehabilitation and operation is a priority project of the city government which aims to maximize the power generating potential of the plants and restore their viability.

Based on the TOR, the bid components will be for the rehabilitation and rental under the conditions that the operator shall invest a considerable amount of money for the rehabilitation, upgrading and expansion of the plants to produce 41,406,178 kilowatthours, install independent substation and power line to the national grid.

The terms also provided the schedule of remuneration to the city government and other concerned parties including the provincial government of Benguet, municipality of Tuba and barangays Tadiangan and Nangalisan where the plants are located and including the surface owners whose properties are affected by the pipelines and plant facilities.

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Mayor to carnival operator: Comply with rules or close

By Paul Rillorta


BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan this week ordered the proponents of a carnival here to comply with city rules before they are allowed to operate their business.

The mayor said he has already ordered City Environment and parks Management Officer CordeliaLacsamana to personally contact the operators to immediately submit a detailed plan of activities before their business can proceed.

Domogan said the proponents are required to submit the details of activities for the carnival to make sure that what will be showcased is ‘wholesome’ entertainment.

‘What we are expecting is a carnival which is for the whole family where residents can enjoy and have fun’, Domogan said.

‘If what they are planning is a carnival which is similar to the one we denied previously, we won’t allow it’, he stressed.

The mayor also said the proponents are also required to secure a certification of safety for their rides.

‘The amusement rides should be properly checked and inspected to comply with safety standards as required by the City Engineer’s Office before a certification can be issued to them and all taxes should have to be paid first’, he said.

The proponents are required to pay an Amusement Tax as indicated in Tax Ordinance 2000-01 Section 9 before they can be allowed to operate.

The carnival which has been approved by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) to operate beside the FVR gymnasium transferred to the Melvin Jones Football Field claiming the lack of potential customers in the area.

Domogan said the contract which will be executed between the city and the proponents of the carnival should include the restoration of the area to its original state, including the grass that might be destroyed due to the equipments of the latter.

“If they don’t comply with these conditions, we won’t allow them to operate,” Domogan said.

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Stopping corruption

EDITORIAL

How the Daang Matuwid program of the administration will fare before President Aquino steps out of office remains to be seen, considering that the bureaucracy needs a major makeover in terms of stopping corruption.

But basing from surveys, majority of this country’s constituents are hopeful of the President’s anti-corruption program like the appointment of American professor Robert Klitgaard as anti-corruption consultant of the administration.

This had been welcomed as a step in the right direction by those in government and private sectors who expressed optimism that institutional reforms could be in place if Klitgaard’s recommendations are followed.

But still, there are the brickbats who claimed the appointment of the US professor showed how inept we are that it has to be a foreigner to clean the house for us.

Klitgaard has his fans though, like Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetanowho cited the former’s credentials as the world’s leading expert on corruption, having worked with around 30 governments on institutional reforms.

According to Cayetano “efforts of the Aquino administration to seriously address corruption, was welcome, but the existing system that lacks transparency and accountability in governance allows the problem to linger at its worse pace.”

Cayetano said there are key effective legislative measures that remain pending such as the Freedom of Information Bill and Whistle Blowers Act that will give teeth to the planned institutional reforms.

He explained that without the two proposed laws in place, government agencies, as a policy, still do
not allow public access to contracts, transactions that involve spending of state coffers.

The FOI bill seeks to guarantee transparency and accountability in governance that allows public access to government transactions-from the contracts, expenditures.

The President is running against time in the fight against corruption and once he steps out of office, he will be judged on whether he made good his promise to stop or lessen the menace which had afflicted almost all aspects in government.

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Technological gobbledygook and Smart expansion works

BEHIND THE SCENES
Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – How time flies. In the early 80’s, when I had my first glimpse of a fax machine, I couldn’t imagine how it could send a duplicate of a document to somebody somewhere on this planet.

I was then starting as a news reporter and fax machines were a rarity so we had to file stories to news desks by shouting our articles through landlines. Cell phones were thought of then as things used by aliens from outer space.

In places where there were no phones, we sent our articles through buses or any vehicle to Baguio or Manila to our outfits In the Cordillera, you could count on drivers or conductors of the durable Dangwa buses to deliver your stories.

While in Baguio, it was some sort of a self-imposed obligation to treat the guys to pinikpikan (Igorot delicacy of singed chicken) at the Dangwa bus station. I remember Boygie who used to hang out in the area. He would do the burning and oftentimes was the one who bought the chicken with gin on the side.
***
The 90’s became easier for news reporters like me with the entry of cell phones and computers. With the internet, publishing became a breeze as correspondents could just email their stories. So when I started the Northern Philippine Times in 2000, it was much easier except for the high printing costs.

Nowadays, kids are talking, with their peculiar technological lingo, like aliens from outer space. The first time I heard somebody say LOL, I couldn’t figure out what it meant. Somebody ribbed me as a result: “Ikawnamantanda, laughing out loud angibigsabihin nun.”

Who would have thought that “download” would mean getting data from the internet through a computer. When I was a kid in the 60’s in Sagada, it could have meant putting down the pine wood we carried
from our shoulders for a rest after getting these from the mountains to our homes for the stove.

Technology has indeed come a long way, and with this, the world had become smaller. Now, one could talk to anybody on this planet while seeing him in the process by “skyping.”

Everybody is talking about 4-G, I-pod, USB, HSPA, routing, tweeting, facebooking (putting your face on a book?), wifi, email (that I know) and God knows other gobbledygook that this approaching 50 laggard is getting more baffled by the day as the New Age vocabulary increases.
***
Still on technology, Smart Communications held a press conference Wednesday at the City Lite Hotel in Baguio to disseminate their expansion activities.

I was asking why it was so hard to make a call or text (see, the word has now even become a verb) along kilometers 5 and 6 while in La Trinidad, Benguet the past few days. I told them I received text messages late.

They said it was because of the expansion and technological program of Smart which they were updating to make it at par with the best in the world. They likened it to that of a vehicle engine which was being changed or overhauled.

To expound on the issue, the Smart guys gave a press statement hereunder:

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are now on the final stretch of their fast-tracked, nationwide P67.1-billion network transformation program.

Once complete, the program is expected to benefit close to 50 million Smart subscribers all over the country, by further enhancing the reliability and quality of its wireless services, including SMS, call, and data services, and Internet access to even remote barrios and barangays.

This was disclosed at the sidelines of a courtesy call by Eric Xu, vice chair and chief executive officer of Huawei, a leading global provider of commercial telecom networks, to PLDT and Smart chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

Huawei is one of the telco’s partners in the network initiative and the courtesy call included a review of the program’s progress.

“While the rest of the industry is just about to lay the groundwork, we’ve already passed the halfway mark of this landmark network undertaking,” said Orlando Vea, co-founder and chief wireless advisor of Smart.

Originally scheduled to run for three years after its launch in early 2011, the program is scheduled for completion by the middle of this year – taking only a total of a year and a half.

“Most importantly, our subscribers have already been enjoying the fruits of this endeavor, including superior voice connection and quality, quicker SMS delivery, enhanced data connection speeds, nationwide coverage and zero downtime, especially in times of disasters,” said Vea.

PLDT and Smart have modernized and optimized the network covering the entire Visayas and Mindanao areas and Bicol in Luzon, with the rest of the country to follow soon.

Aside from Huawei, PLDT and Smart are also working with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Network on the program.

“By tapping the individual strengths of the world’s three biggest network suppliers, we are able to ensure the efficient and timely progress of this initiative,” added Vea.

Once completed, PLDT and Smart also expect the transformation program to allow it to reach “blackout areas” or places that used to have no broadband Internet access -- enabling Internet penetration to even the most remote areas of the country.

“PLDT and Smart’s unique and superior matrix of 3G, Enhanced High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+), WiMax, and Long Term Evolution (LTE) covers wider distances and serves more users at any given time while allowing high-speed data access -- making available high-speed mobile broadband in more parts of the country,” the company said in a press statement.

PLDT and Smart have over 45,000 kilometers of looped fiber optic cabling, fully covering mainland Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“We have clearly built the most advanced and superior network in the country. To us, all this translates to the best communication experience and mobile lifestyle for our subscribers,” said Vea.

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Getting into business with PBR


BUSINESS BITS

Art Tibaldo

Today, a smart businessman can download a government form, fill up the required information and submit it online for business registration without necessarily going to such offices as SSS, BIR, Pagibig, Philhealth, SEC and DTI.

The simplified process under the Philippine Business Registry or PBR is as convenient as going to an internet kiosk with the help of a DTI Teller or user can directly register online based on the briefings conducted by officials of the Department of Trade and Industry-PBR Office.


DTI-CAR Regional Director Myrna P. Pablo during a recent PBR
orientation in Baguio said that the interconnection of systems
involving these partnering agencies is another milestone for DTI and
partner agencies that should now be put into action.

Briefing her counterparts in the region, Rhoda Del Rosario of DTI-PBR Office said that business applications for sole proprietorship can
already be accommodated online and after the PBR launching at the
Securities and Exchange Commission on March 12, corporate applications can likewise be processed virtually.

The Philippines Business Registry is a Government-initiated projectthat facilitates business registration-related transactions by
integrating agencies involved in business registration, such as the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and Local Government Units (LGUs). The PBR is expected to provide a faster process for business registration, thus strengthening the government’s effort of providing quality service to the people and realizing its commitment to curb corruption and reduce red tape in the bureaucracy.

The PBR according to Del Rosario is a web-based system that serves as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who need to transact with several agencies to be able to start operating a business. Applicants need not physically go to each agency to register their businesses because
these agencies are already interlinked with PBR computerized
registration systems added Del Rosario.

Accordingly, applicants under sole proprietorships can already
validate existing and register their Business Names from the DTI, get
or validate their existing Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) from the
BIR and employer registration numbers from the Social Security System
(SSS). Likewise, applicants can also register and follow up their
registration with Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)
and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) through the PBR system.

Sole proprietors who do not have computers and access to the internet in their locality can register from available computer cafés or go to DTI Offices with designated PBR Kiosks or tellers and register through them. Application through a teller will involve submission of a filled up application form which may be downloaded from the website or completed and printed by the public online for submission to the PBR
kiosks or tellers. For more information about PBR, please get in touch
with DTI Provincial offices in your area.

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Letters home

BENCHWARMER
Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY a-- Three expatriates last week reconnected home through e-mails. Notwithstanding their medium, the e-mails read like snail mail. They were like hand-written letters with a soul, the sensitivity of which rekindled my sense of local history, identity and posterity.

From Canada, former sports editor Jogin Tamayo of the Baguio Midland Courier corrected my piece last Sunday about the endangered patch of pine growing beside the Baguio Convention Center. I had written: “The trees, balled when they were young to provide the Baguio ambience for the 1998 Anatoly Karpov-Viktor Korchnoi World Chess Championship, are now in danger of being lost.” Jogin wrote: “It was 1978, not 1998, hehe.”

Hu hu. My mistake was too glaring for Baguio boys and girls with a sense of history to let pass. My consolation is knowing that two people read this weekly column – Jogin and the one who writes it. Just in case there’s a third reader, the thousand or so pine trees were planned to be cut or balled again and transferred, to give way to “Baguio Air Residences”, a four-building multi-storeycondotel-complex under a tie-up of the Government Service Insurance System and mall giant Shoemart. Relief came last year when the new GSIS leadership assured city mayor Mauricio Domogan that the tree patch would be preserved. GSIS, its chairman and general manager stressed, must, however, be eventually paid its money’s worth for the lot. GSIS, however, didn’t purchase the lot. Then President Marcos just assigned it and an adjoining one for the insurance system to build the Baguio Convention Center as venue for the chess championship.

In recent years, the city agreed with GSIS and the Bases Conversion Development Authority to buy the center using the city’s share from the lease rentals in the development of Camp John Hay under the BCDA. The Camp John Hay Development Corp., however, defaulted in rental payment , prompting the city to shell out the payment for the Convention Center and the surcharges GSIS imposed as a result.
***
From Maryland, U.S. of A., Manong AlexFangonil, wrote of his recent visit back home to Baguio:
“I was very pleased to visit the Baguio cemetery and for the first time saw the graves of Mayor (Eusebius J.) Halsema and wife Marie.

The site broke my heart! I would join the city or any organization to upgrade the grave-site and among others to restore the original bronze tombstone which reads ‘Baguio Is His Monument’. We have touched this subject during our short conversation. Jim Halsema (the mayor’s son) should be proud had he been around ( he passed) and having no relatives in Baguio to take care, it would be our civic-duty to do so. The beautiful cemetery shrine of Mateo Carino and SiocoCarino nearby is an excellent example.

“I was able to visit Mrs. Cecille Afable, the living icon, in her home at Padre Burgos. She is still strong and her memory is sharp. She recalls tidbits of my Dad and Mom, their U.P. days in Manila, and she even dreamt about me in my medical missions a day before my visit! We drank Benguet coffee, no whisky tapnosaan kami ngamabartekcano, haha.

“I was hoping to spend more time in Baguio but the mission in Pangasinan has to be done. I was very much impressed with their progress under Governor Espino. The missioners would vouch this in the newsletter.”

Manong Alex, son of the late Baguio Vice-Mayor and Judge Sinforoso Fangonil, is a physician based in Maryland. He served as president of the Association of Filipino Physicians in America which regularly holds medical missions to this archipelago.

His passion for Baguio and Cordillera history recently took him to the city cemetery to verify that, indeed, Mayor Halsema’s epitaph was changed to “The Mayor Who Engineered Baguio City”. I feel with Manong Alex that the original marker – “Baguio Is His Monument” – is more fitting for Baguio’s first mayor who served for 17 years. Among others, Halsema built the city’s water and electric systems, including the Asin hydroelectric plants that continue to function today.

Ironically, he was killed when the now Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital was bombed by American planes to clear the way for the city’s liberation from the Japanese forces in March, 1945. The venerable Mrs. Afable is, of course, the ageless editor-in-chief of the venerable Baguio Midland Courier and the mother of Patricia Afable of the Smithsonian Institution. Patricia and Manong Alex were classmates at the dear old Baguio City High.
****
From the Netherlands, Yvonne Belen, my chemistry teacher at the University of Baguio Science High (it would be a sin to say when), shared the news that a book entitled “Igorot by Heart” will be launched during the 9th Igorot International Consultation in April at the Baguio Country Club.
June last year, Yvonne alerted BIBAK Switzerland on the entry of Ifugao rock carver Gilbert Alberto at the Morges International Sculpture Competition in Morges Castle. B IB AK is the organization of Igorots by heart in Europe trooped to cheer Gilbert and he responded by winning the Audience Prize and finishing second in the Jury Prize topped by a Swiss artist.

The book is a compilation of keynote speeches and selected presentations from the eight previous biennial consultations of the Igorot Global Organization. In accordance with the vision of its pioneer president, the late Rex Botengan, IGO serves as a sounding board on issues affecting the Cordillera homeland and Igorots by birth, blood, sentiment, heart and choice.

It helps them respond to these issues which are raised and discussed during the IGO conferences held every other year. Among the presentations featured in the book were those of Dr. Albert Bacdayan, policeman-lawyer-turned-business tycoon Richard Stone Pooten of London, the late Jesuit Bishop Francisco Claver, Kate ChollipasBotengan, Alexander Wandag Sr., Patricia Afable and Mark Sabas Leo. The book was edited by Belen, John Dyte, Gloria OdiBawaan-Simon, Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand, Dalisay Leones, Jocelyn Noe and Philian Louise Weygan-Allan.

Working within a local’s givens, I quietly slipped into the second consultation at the Green Valley Country Club here as an observer and then registered at the seventh in Banaue, Ifugao after the planners waived my conference fee on condition I’d share some Ifugao jokes, which I did before an afternoon session.

At Green Valley, delegates from abroad spent hours debating whether they should be called Igorots. The spirited discussions sobered up somehow when film maker Eric de Guia, a.k.a. KidlatTahimik and Cabbigat, Igorot by choice and adoption who wears an Ifugao-string inside his pants, quoted Shakespeare - “A rose by another name would smell as sweet”.

At the 2nd Consultation, then Mayor Basilio Wandag of Tabuk, Kalinga, reviewed the list of speakers, paper presenters, presiding officers and moderators. He then rose to state: “This is not an Igorot consultation, it is a Besao consultation.”. It so happened that most of the speakers trace their roots to Besao.


London-based Engr. Edmund Bugnosen and I helped the Banaue conference formulate a resolution urging the GSIS to cancel its plan to turn over the patch of balled pine beside the Baguio Convention Center to Shoemart for the latter to build condotels.

As conference chair Juan Ngalob asked, I drafted and read the resolution at the plenary session. . It was unanimously adopted after someone reminded it was not my task but that of the style committee to draft the resolution.

We hope IGO’s sentiment for pine would be reiterated this April at the posh Baguio Country Club. Personally, I wish IGO President Cesar Castro, who’ll come in from Vancouver, Canada, would accept some more jokes in lieu of my conference fee. That arrangement would allow me to see and thank some expat Cordilleransand Igorots who opened their car doors and homes during studies and conferences sponsored by environmental and heritage organizations and schools. – e-mail:mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments.

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‘Utak cemento’ vs green development

LETTERS FROM THE AGNO
March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- I haven’t come across any result on the consultation conducted many months before the last election in 2010 by then Senator Rodolfo Biazon as to whether Baguio is in a state of urban decay or not.

But as far as I am concerned, my verdict is a big “yes,” the city is entering a stage of urban decay. Proof of it were the massive Irisan trash slide on August 27 last year; the uncollected basura that continues to pile up everywhere; illegal shanties as small as a 2-meter by 2-meter house and structures as big as the one on top of Luneta Hill that are being built on lands with questionable titles; an unresolved traffic disorder that has been messed up all the more by never-ending traffic “experiments” that favor a mall on a hill; lack of water supply and the pollution contributed by these things put together.

We are about to stop living in a clean, green and fresh environment. If we recall, the City of Pines was a Hall of Famer in the Clean and Green competition in the country for having won the award several times. Recently, our elders in City Hall along with “environmentalists” in the council gave that up when their choices changed.

They now support the construction of cement structures and no longer fight for the existence of the small green forest where these concrete edifices were proposed to be built. They are even proud to say that while they are public officials, they cannot do anything to stop the cutting of trees in questionable private lands. In other words, they have given up on the city’s fight for a clean and green environment. We cannot blame them because construction is where the money is. Money does not always grow on trees, and trees cannot vote.

Their understanding of “development” is equated with high-rise buildings and flyovers – wishing that Baguio will look like a concrete jungle in the very near future, similar to any decaying city in Metro Manila or New York. Environmental activists describe them as “utak cement.”

By the way, I heard someone say that Burnham Lake was the only spot in the city that has not been cemented. “Utak cemento” public officials cement foot trails and pathways so that Mother Earth no longer comes in contact with the skin of their feet. I just hope that one morning when our children’s children wake up, they will not ask where they can play after finding Melvin Jones already paved with cement. I am confused if once in public office, a person becomes mindless because they construct cement barriers between the city’s road lanes so that they have good reason to build overpasses made of concrete and steel, and never mind if the ailing senior citizen cannot go up on it with ease. Anyway, these type of politicians view the senior citizen as unimportant.

The situation in Benguet is entirely different. Recently, I had a short chat with La Trinidad Mayor Greg Abalos Jr. In that quick conversation I felt that he was concerned and quite disturbed about the persistence of proponents to push their mall project at the Halsema-Pico junction.

At the same time, I saw firmness in his few words. He said, “as long as he is mayor, there is no way that the mall will be constructed on that spot.” In Itogon, friends and relatives say that concerned Ampucao residents are up against a proposed garbage dumpsite in the area that is perceived to be more beneficial to Baguio if it pushes through. Recently too, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan strongly urged the DENR to investigate and punish those responsible for killing more than a thousand Pine trees on the Southwestern slope of Mt. Santo Tomas. This, as Congressman Ronald Cosalan urged barangay captains in Benguet to apportion areas that can be developed as tree nurseries and for the propagation of bamboos.

What we are saying is that while public officials in Benguet and other parts of the country are opposed to the “utakcemento” kind of development and are moving heaven and earth to save their public parks, mountains and what remains of their green environment, officials in the “once upon a time” City of Pines are doing the opposite. The choice is now up to us. Do we want to sacrifice our green environment in favor of concrete buildings? Sacrifice a little of your time. Please come to the public hearing tomorrow, 1PM at the city council and express your opposition to the killing of close to 200 trees to give way to the expansion of SM Baguio. – marchfianza777@yahoo.com

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Flawed consent by telecom firms

HAPPY WEEKEND
Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province --Many a case has found out indigenous peoples communities opposed projects not having customarily passed their consent over a project introduced in their communities.

Case studies done by Montanosa Research and Development Center (MRDC) with the Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP) noted indigenous peoples communities’ opposition, and violation of customary practices in securing consent by telecommunication companies particularly that by SMART having constructed its telecom tower in Balugan, Sagada; GLOBE in PoblacionSagada and GLOBE in Dantay, Bontoc Mountain Province.

Telecommunication companies are not any different in their approaches from mining companies aggressively entering indigenous communities. Said cases brings additional instances to the recently questioned FPIC secured by Goldfields Mining Company on its drilling operations at Tabio, MankayanBenguet by the Kankanaeypeoples organization, Teeng di Mankayan; and the questioned FPIC secured by Royalco Mining Company from barangay officials of Gambang, Bakun by BakunAywanan aside from questioned FPICs secured in other indigenous peoples’ communities in the Cordillera and Mindanao.

In the light of questioned FPICs secured by mining and telecom companies comes proposed ammendments of the 2006 Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) by congressional committee on national ommunities chairman Ifugao congressman Theodore Baguilat.

Precisely why projects are being opposed is ironical to the very customary practise of indigenous communities to give their collective consent over an undertaking introduced in their communities.

In the villages of Sagada and Bontoc populated by Applai and Bontoc indigenous peoples, this collective practise is still strongly observed as found out in case studies noting the people’s collective consent and peoples’ opposition to barangay clearances secured by telecommunication companies.

Group discussions and key informants noted consent given by the ‘umili’ referring to the people of the community-elders, leaders, women, and youth- take active part in coming up with a collective decision. The community consent is presided by a collective leadership of elders and other leaders of the ‘ili’ (community).

And in current local governance, the barangay captain or any of the kagawad preside over community meetings. Elders have influential role in decision making, especially so if the elder happens to be the barangay official also. Balugan elder

Matthias ‘Palikdan’ Caweng and former barangay kagawad said barangay officials who also are elders don’t separate their being community elders from their being barangay officials.

This is clearly taken note of in the case of Balugan where in such case, community projects introduced and other decisions affecting the community are presented to the collective for community consent, a decision arrived at in consensus based on their customary practices.

Consensus is the basic feature where an indigenous peoples community take decision in a consensual manner with other members of the community and not by votation. People come together and discuss the matter collectively on any issue which concerns the public, be it a mining, telecom, or any infrastructure project.

The consensual agreement takes on a discussion with the merits taken in and the questions and disagreements taken note of. It is of importance that questions are consciously considered and efforts taken to find out answers to these questions including conducting investigation and asking people who can answer the query. A single opposition cannot be taken for granted.

Community leader Martin Bagcalang and former chairman of the Pide Dap-ay Association, now PigsadagitiGardinerositiAbagatantiSagada (PIGAS) said any opposition is responded accordingly. He cited a case where one resident opposed a road project as her lot falls in the road right of way. He said she has to be convinced based on the rationale that giving up her lot for the road opening is for the good of the community particularly in the ease of carriage of vegetable produce and health facilities to the town center. All questions are taken note of and responded accordingly with the conscious attention that no issue goes un-answered.

Also, giving the consent is not a hastened nor a programmed process. As noted in Balugan, the community has to meet a number of times to resolve issues, major issue of which is the increase in the rent over the communal lot where the telecom tower was erected.

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Saint Mary’s School to hold alumni reunion & centennial celeb March 28-30, 2012

>> Monday, February 20, 2012

SAGADA MOUNTAIN PROVINCE- The 100 year old Saint Mary’s School of Sagada shall hold its centennial celebration March 28-30 this year along with the Alumni Homecoming. with theme, “A century of learning and education: Honor the past, cherish the present, inspire the future.” A thousand and more alumni are expected to attend this momentous event. to be held here in this tourist town.


SMS Alumni Sagada Chapter Chairman Alma Bawing-Bagano enjoins alumni to register early. SMS alumni may also register with identified point persons in their home localities. Registration fee is P500 . Otherwise, registration is programmed morning of March 28 at SMS.

The afternoon of 28th March shall be observed with a parade starting at Daoangan followed with vespers at the Church of St Mary the Virgin around 4:30 in the afternoon. SMS alumnus Engr Rufino Bumasang shall be delivering a special address for the occasion. A hymn fest shall proceed after the vespers with Ms Frances Laoyan conducting. A night of song, dance and other performances follows with participation from attending alumni and friends. The alumni are also enjoined to submit their entries earlier on or before March 25.

A memorial mass shall be observed the next day. Business meeting shall follow after the mass. Alumni, chapter or class are enjoined to submit their typewritten resolutions on or before March 25 to be presented during the business meeting.

A centennial parade shall be observed morning of March 30 participated by the community including peoples organizations, non government organizations, the local government unit, church institutions, and residents from the four zones-eastern, northern, central and southern-barangays of the municipality.

Delivery of the keynote address by the guest speaker Secretary Armin Luistro of the Department of Education, shall follow at the SMS quadrangle.

Elders shall specially say a ritual for a successful centennial celebration followed by a centennial lunch partaken by the community. Community dancing and playing of gongs follow. The centennial night shall be celebrated with a torch parade to start at Nangonogan to the school gym for the conduct of cultural shows./Gina Dizon

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Cutting of 1,033 trees in John Hay opposed

>> Tuesday, February 14, 2012

BAGUIO CITY – After protesting the planned cutting or “earthballing” of around 200 trees at the Shoemart (SM) mall compound here, environmentalists expressed alarm over the reported plans of the Camp John Hay DevelopmentCorp. to cut or “earthball” 1,033 trees here in theJohn Hay Special Economic Zone.

This as the Bases Conversion and Development Authority said the government-run firm will oppose this.

“The BCDA will not, in any way, allow any lessee or locator within oureconomic zones to violate environmental laws,” saidArnelPaciano Casanova, BCDA president and chief executive officer.

In a press statement, the Sobrepena-led CJHDevco reportedly sent to BCDA last December a letter that it wanted government to approve all their permits pending with the One-Stop Action Center (OSAC).

Ten of these proposed permits were fortree-cutting and “earthballing” that will affect 1,033 trees in John Hay.

The BCDA said only the Department of Environment and NaturalResources is the only government agency authorized to issue tree-cutting and earthballing permits.

“We want to comply with environmental laws,” Casanova said, “However,CJHDevco wanted us to exceed our authority by demanding that we approvetheir pending tree-cutting permits. When we did not give in to theirdemands, which may expose us to legal liabilities, they unilaterallyrescinded the contract and are now claiming an atrocious amount of P14.4billion from government.”

“We cannot be faulted for adhering to the rule of law. Gone are thedays of impunity. We have a government now that stands for integrity andthe rule of law, particularly laws that protect our environment,” Casanovasaid.

Casanova said it is CJHDevco that owes government P3.024= billion, and has used the pending permits at the OSAC as excuse to evadetheir ballooning obligations.

“What they wanted us to do may be illegal,” Casanova pointed out.“Now their flimsy excuse is backfiring on them.”

Recently, the DENR issued a cease and desist order for the cutting oftrees inside the JHSEZ. The order is based on Executive Order No. 23 issuedby President Benigno S. Aquino III on the moratorium on cutting andharvesting naturally grown trees since John Hay contains one of the biggestremaining pine forests in Baguio.

The John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC), BCDA’s estate manager inthe JHSEZ, said the DENR issued no permits fortree-cutting and earthballing despite CJHDevco’s demands.

CJHDevco’s demand letter showed the lessee required BCDA to“cause the approval of all the applications currently pending and overdueand deliver to CJHDevco within the same period, all corresponding permits,licenses and certificates covered.”

CJHDevco enumerated 15 permits pending with the OSAC.

Of these, ten were for tree-cutting and earthballing.

According to OSAC records, a total of 1,033 trees would be affected ifCJHDevco’s pending permits were approved.

Of these, 520 trees will be cutand 513 will be earth-balled.

Except for the tree-cutting permits, the OSAC has issued a total of89 permits in 2011.

Of these 89 permits, 59 were issued to CJHDevCo and itssub-lessees.

Ayala Land Inc. and other JHMC locators did not have anyproblems in acquiring their permits within the 30-day period.

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No major power outages in Luzon

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines assured electric cooperatives and member consumers that there will be no major power interruptions foreseen in Luzon for the next few months.

Lawyer Cynthia Alabanza, corporate communications officer, said the transmission lines in the electric highways of NGCP are already in place in Luzon and there are no signs and notifications from their technical force for major technical works such as restorations, installations or rehabilitations which might affect the operations of the grid.

Alabanza said though major transmission lines are intact, distribution and lateral lines might be affected by unavoidable circumstances, which might cause the reason of some power interruptions.

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Ifugao gov: Where's millions of pesos for terraces' rehab?

By Charlie Lagasca and Aiza Liza P. Namingit


LAGAWE, Ifugao – Except for P10,000 cash, the Ifugao provincial government has not seen any of the millions of pesos supposedly allotted by the national government for the rehabilitation of the renowned rice terraces.

This, as Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat pushed for rehabilitation of rice terraces in Congress by filing the “Ifugao Rice Terraces Rehabilitation Act” (House Bill Number No. 5692) in Congress Jan. 16.

“It seems that (some national government officials do) not know who the governor of Ifugao is. They should have informed us about all these allocations first before announcing them,” said Ifugao Gov. Eugene Balitang.

Balitang was commenting on the reported P30 million allocated for rehabilitation of the terraces, once the country’s top tourist attraction, which have been damaged by years of erosion aggravated by giant earthworms, lack of interest among young Ifugaos to maintain them, and the recent typhoons.

The Department of Agriculture recently announced the release of P20 million for the terraces’ rehabilitation, while Sen. Francis Pangilinan’s office reported it had allotted P10 million for the terraces through the National Irrigation Administration.

Even Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala pledged the amount during his visit to the province late last year.

Other senators also vowed to allot funds for the terraces’ restoration.

Pangilinan himself, along with Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, even led the launching of the Save the Terraces Movement last year to further get national and international attention for the rehabilitation of the terraces, once dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

“I think it would be best if these different government agencies coordinate with our office before making announcements. It’s a different situation here in the field since, if we are unable to explain matters to our constituents, people tend to think that we have pocketed the amounts,” Balitang said.

The provincial government has been following up with the Office of the President the release of some P20 million as initial funding for the terraces’ rehabilitation.

A DA official earlier said the department’s allotment would possibly be completed by March and coursed to the various towns where the terraces are located.


The terraces are situated in the villages of Batad and Bangaan in Banaue town; Hapao, Maggok, Dikkitan and Bakung in Hungduan town; Mayoyao town; and Nagacadan and Julongan in Kiangan town.

“I’m tired of (government officials) making political statements (concerning the release of funds for the terraces). If they still don’t have the money, they should not make any announcements so that our people would not be expecting any¬thing,” Balitang said.

Last year, Balitang said they needed at least P200 million to bring the terraces back to its picture-perfect state.

But what they got so far, he said, is only P10,000, plus 200 kilos of rice, 100 kilos of mongo and 10 kilos of dried fish as DA assistance.

Meanwhile, Baguilat, in filing the “Ifugao Rice Terraces Rehabilitation Act” (House Bill Number No. 5692) said, “Over the years, the Ifugao Rice Terraces has been deteriorating due to natural disasters and human activities. If it is not safeguarded and conserved, it may become a mere part of humanity’s history rather than a valuable world cultural heritage. Its current state is a wakeup call for us to do something now,” Baguilat said.

He added the bill should be one of the priority bills of this Congress because of its urgency.

The bill sought to adapt an Ifugao Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Preservation Plan (IRTRPP), a comprehensive framework that will guide the rehabilitation of the terraces.

The IRTRPP requires that rehabilitation of the terraces goes hand-in-hand with conservation and protection of natural resources and cultural traditions of the province.

It also provides establishment of the Ifugao Council for Sustainable Development and that the farmer-beneficiaries will be part of the council to ensure full and effective participation of stakeholders in decision making and implementation.

It also stipulated that the national government do its part in rehabilitating the terraces as the adoption of the IRTRPP will be backed by annual appropriation to ensure the IRTRPP will be implemented.

Baguilat said time is of the essence in the rehabilitation of the irrigation systems because it is now the traditional planting season and several rice terraces clusters especially those in the UNESCO-inscribed heritage sites are without water because of recent typhoon damages.

Baguilat urged the Department of Agriculture and the National Irrigation Authority, to fast track release of the funds.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala had committed P20 million during his visit in Ifugao last November 25, 2011 for the rehabilitation of the terraces.

Sen. Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan has also allocated P10 million from his PDAF channeled through NIA for the repair of the irrigation system of the terraces of Banaue.

“An entire year’s crop, not counting tourism revenues will be lost if these funds are not released as soon as possible,” Baguilat said.

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Murder case set vs PNP officer for slay of waiter

BAGUIO CITY – Murder charges are set to be filed against a police officer who shot to death a stay-in waiter at a bread restaurant here night of Feb. 4.

The victim was identified as Bander Faisal Dacpano Davoc, 30, single, waiter of St. Martin’s Bread Restaurant here along Bokawkan Road and native of Pugo, La Union.

He was allegedly shot around 6:20 p.m. by police Insp. Gerome Sherwin BangibangGonsadan, 32, single, and resident of Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet.

Gonsadan was previously assigned to Special Action Force and was re-assigned to Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Crame due to his ongoing Officer’s Basic Course at the Philippine Public Safety College at Camp Castañeda, Silang, Cavite.

According to police reports, at around 6:18 p.m. that night, the victim came personally to Police Station 2 near the area to ask for police assistance, claiming that there were four persons who refused to pay for food they ordered and consumed in the restaurant.

He said one of the men pushed him and brought out a gun while introducing himself as a police officer.

Upon receipt of the report, personnel of Station 2 led by deputy chief of police, Senior Insp. Dexter Ominga together with the victim went to the restaurants.

Upon arrival, the responding police officers were informed by the waiters and bystanders that suspects boarded a taxi headed towards Magsaysay Avenue flyover.

Immediately, responding police ran after the said taxi reportedly boarded by the suspect that was caught in a traffic jam at the corner of Magsaysay Avenue.

On the way, the cops ran to where a gunshot was heard and there they saw the victim lying down with blood oozing from his head.

Unknown to authorities, the suspect did not board the said taxi and instead, met and shot the victim.

Gonsadan was seen running away heading towards Aguila Street which prompted Ominga and his men to chase the suspect while he instructed the mobile car driver to rush the victim to nearby Pines Doctors Hospital.

The operatives arrested the suspect near the intersection of Aguila Street and Bokawkan Road and subsequently searched him and recovered from his possession a Cal. 9mm Glock pistol with Serial number SAF882 with magazine loaded with 11 bullets.

Gonsadan was brought to Police Station 2 for interrogation.

On the other hand, Davoc was declared dead on arrival by attending physician Dr. Gonzales due to gunshot wound on the head.

This, while Scene of the Crime Operatives led by Insp. Juvy Tomen proceeded to the crime scene and recovered an empty shell.

Gonsadan was subjected to paraffin test while the firearm recovered and the recovered empty shell was later subjected to ballistic examination.

An autopsy was also conducted to determine the cause of death of the victim.

Said suspect was later detained at Baguio City Jail on order of duty inquest prosecutor NenitaOpiana for a case of murder. – With a report from Maureen O. LLusla

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P1-M reward offered for arrest of former Nueva Ecija mayor

GAPAN, Nueva Ecija - A P1-million reward awaits anybody who can provide information that will lead to the arrest of former Gapan mayor Ernesto Natividad, who is tagged as the mastermind in the murder of brothers Ericson and EbertsonPascual in 2006.

The Pascual family has offered the reward money.

The Department of Justice ordered the filing of murder charges against the former mayor, Romeo Natividad and Ricardo Peralta in 2009.

However, the Office of the Ombudsman, then headed by MerceditasGuitierrez, in a ruling on April 8, 2009, excluded the Natividads and Peralta from the murder case.

In her order dated Dec. 19, 2011, Ombudsman ConchitaCarpio-Morales granted the motion for reconsideration of the Pascuals to affirm the DOJ ruling.

Witness VirgilioMaglapo claimed that Natividad masterminded the killing “because of politics.”

He said Peralta contacted him on March 10, 2006 and relayed to him the plan to kill the Pascual brothers.

Maglapo said he was even brought to the house of the former mayor, where he was given P20,000 as downpayment for the P100,000 to carry out the plan.

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