Residents, officials decry irregularities: Baguio City council probes infra projects

>> Sunday, August 26, 2012


By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city council is set to probe irregularities in implementation of projects in this resort city following mounting complaints raised by residents.
           
Representatives from the city planning and development office, city building and architecture office, city engineer’s office, Dept. of Public Works and Highways, contractors groups and punong barangays were invited to the city council session on Sept. 3 to answer issues and concerns on the projects. 
           
Councilor Joel Alangsab said there is need to shed light on the process of implementing projects in view of complaints from the barangay officials and residents that some of the procedures are not being followed by the implementing agencies and contractors.

Alangsab said among these are the lack of consultation and coordination with the locals and failure to follow the plans and specifications for the projects.

“There are some instances when this initial step (of consultation) prior to the commencement of construction activities are at times not followed, which creates a conflict and misunderstanding between the barangay officials and the contractors that amounts to non-acceptance by the barangay officials after the completion of the project,” Alangsab noted.

He said there was a case in Honeymoon-Holyghost barangay where a waiting shed project was refused acceptance by the barangays due to lack of consultation while in Pinsao Pilot barangay, some contractors allegedly did not follow plans and specifications for a project.
           
Alangsab said the outcome of the consultation will assist the city council in coming up with needed policies to correct the problem and prevent similar incidents in the future.
           
These policies will ensure that the fund allotted for the projects will benefit the constituents and the project would serve its purpose.


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NCIP chief Pawid ‘resigns’ position

BAGUIO CITY  -- The chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)has reportedly  announced her “resignation” during the commission’s meeting last Aug. 16, an official said Wednesday.


The official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to talk about the matter, said NCIP chairperson Brigida-ZenaidaPawid has also informed the agency’s rank-and-file that she has resigned.

“Pawid has resigned both as chairperson and member of the commission,” the official said.

Although Pawid reportedly did not cite the reason for her resignation, NCIP sources believe that she has been affected by the executive order on mining issued by President Aquino recently. 

The EO would allow mining operations in certain areas, which to Pawid’s personal opinion should not be allowed at all.

Prior to her appointment at NCIP, Pawid, a resident of Baguio befre her appointment,  has been a staunch anti-mining advocate.      

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Suspect in murder of ex-vice mayor, wife hunted



LINGAYEN, Pangasinan  –  A warrant was issued a Manila regional trial court judge for the arrest of a suspect in the  gun-slaying of a former vice mayor here and his wife.

Senior Supt. Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., acting provincial police director, told the media Wednesday all police chiefs in the 44 towns and four cities of Pangasinan have been alerted to arrest Otto Guialaludin, alias Boy Muslim, who hails from Cotabato City and temporarily resides in Poblacion, Urbiztondo town this province.

Judge Marcelino Sayo Jr., of the National Capital Judicial Region Branch 45 in Manila, issued Guialaludin’s arrest warrant for the killing of Ramon Arcinue, former vice mayor of Lingayen, and his wife Zorahayda, barangay captain of Poblacion here.

It was earlier reported here that each provincial board member would contribute P10,000 while Vice Gov. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr. would give P50,000 on top of the P300,000 reward offered by Lingayen Mayor Ernesto Castañeda.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. also pledged an additional P500,000 while the Arcinue family would give P200,000 more for the arrest of those behind the killing of the Arcinue couple last March 7 in their rented apartment in Sampaloc, Manila.

No bail was recommended for Guialaludin, said to be a bodyguard of a Pangasinan mayor.

Verzosa said Guialaludin left the province with his family last April 23.

Guialaludin is reportedly also involved in another murder case and a number of robberies.

Tarpaulins bearing his picture and bounty are displayed in Barangay Poblacion here.

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Trash site for Baguio, Benguet towns pressed


By Paul Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY – There might be hope for the planned Engineered Sanitary Landfill (ESL) for Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) even as garbage disposal is mounting in the areas particularly Baguio.
           
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) voted 17-0 in support of the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) which is a vital requirement to start the ESL in Barangay Ampucao.
           
Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan and Domogan endorsed the proposed ESL through the signing of a memorandum of understanding for ECC issuance.
           
Itogon Mayor Oscar Camantiles did not sign the endorsement but he earlier signed the joint manifestation of support to the project along with Fongwan, Domogan and Ampucao barangay captain Eddie Amuasen.
           
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) also conducted a public consultation to residents in the area to hear their concerns regarding the planned ESL.
           
This was called by Rep. Ronald Cosalan in order also to hear issues of residents which will be directly affected by it.
           
Domogan’s support for the establishment of the ESL near the city is anchored on the fact that it could be the long term solution for the BLISTT garbage woes and also a source of revenue.
           
A South Korean firm earlier offered to grant a $30 million fund for the establishment of  the ESL on a 23-hectare land which will be used to put-up a facility capable of converting waste to energy on a 25-year term.
           
Accordingly, the first phase of the planned ESL is the establishment of a temporary staging area and temporary sanitary landfill to be utilized by Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.
           
Domogan said after the release of the ECC, the Korean proponent should now do his part and show his capacity to develop the Ampucao ESL.
           
“The investor should present to us his financial and well as technical capability,” he said.  
           
“We have yet to scrutinize the plans and specifications of the proposed ESL,” Domogan said stating everything should be transparent to avoid any complications.
           
The mayor said despite this, opposition can be expected to the planned ESL development.
           
“We cannot blame them, we just have to ensure that the planned ESL will comply with Republic Act 9003 and other environmental laws,” he said.    

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Killers of ex-Vizcaya mayor's son known



SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya  – Authorities identified Wednesday  two of suspected gunmen in the Aug. 23 killing of a son of a former mayor here. 

Chief Insp. Alberto Bagarra, town police chief refused to give the names of the suspects pending the filing of murder cases against them.

He said a manhunt for the suspects, believed to have links with a notorious armed robbery group in the province, has been launched. 

The companions of the victim positively identified at least three of the suspects through the police’s rogue gallery.

Jonathan Castillo was killed in what is believed to be a robbery attempt by four armed men along the national highway in Barangay Bangar here at around 3:30 p.m. 

Jonathan, 36, is the son of former Bagabag town mayor Victor Castillo. 

The victim and two employees of their family-owned Rural Bank of Bagabag, had just deposited checks in several banks when the incident occurred.  

The victim was shot dead by gunmen while on his way home on an Isuzu DMax pickup at around 4:30 p.m. that day. 

Reports said Castillo, had just deposited checks in several banks in Solano town with employees of the family-owned Rural Bank of Bagabag, when at least four armed men ambushed them along the national highway in Bangar village.

Castillo, son of Bagabag town’s former mayor Victor Castillo suffered a bullet wound in the head.

A bullet grazed the head of the driver of the vehicle, Valentino Gauiran, 47; while Roberto Valdez, 34, the bank’s accountant-cashier was injured from the car windshield’s shattered glass. 

Chief Inspector Alberto Bagarra, town police chief, said the suspects were armed with handguns and an M-16 armalite. 

Valdez and Gauiran said the suspects announced a holdup. Castillo was shot during the struggle for his 9-mm pistol, when he tried to aim it at the suspects.

The suspects then took Castillo’s handgun and fled on two motorcycles.

Bagarra said slugs of caliber .45 and 9-mm pistols were found in the victim’s car, which bore at least three bullet holes.

Bagarra said that the suspects might have thought that Castillo’s group had withdrawn a big amount of money from the banks.

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TPLEX open soon; Baguio-Manila travel time less by 2 hours


By Mar T. Supnad

TARLAC -- The 89-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will be partially opened to motorists by May 2013, shortening travel to Baguio, Ilocos, Manila by almost two hours.

This was the statement of TPLEX officials during recent meetings with concerned agencies of the government.

“Although the completion of the project is set to be earlier than the new proposed date, some issues and concerns were being taken cared of before we could begin a particular segment such as right of way problems," TPLEX project manager Johnson Villar said in a meeting with the project monitoring committee of the Regional Development Council and independent consultants.

He said some lot property owners have put up barricades in their areas to disrupt construction activities until they receive full payment in spite of an already issued writ of possession to their properties.
           
Villar said heavy rains and severe flooding also resulted in suspension of work due to unfavorable ground conditions at site, hence incurring huge slippage.

TPLEX links the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway SCTEX) and the North Luzon Expressway, thus shortening the travel from Subic and Manila to possibly five hours.

The Super highway was being constructed by an all-Filipino consortium composed of R.D. Policarpio and Co. Inc., C.M. Pancho Construction Inc., New Kanlaon Construction Inc., D.M. Wenceslao and Associates Inc., J.E. Manalo and Co. Inc., and D.M. Consunji, Inc. 
           
The super highway was initially eyed to have two lanes and subsequently expanded to four when capacity reaches 25,000 vehicles per day TPLEX operators said.
           
Once becomes fully operational by July 2014, it will cut travel time tremendously  to Ilocos provinces, Pangasinan, Cordillera and Central Luzon regions  as it will be linked to the North Luzon and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways.

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Bontoc folks benefit from local RH law


By Juliet B. Saley

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Despite opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, local folk here are getting the benefits of a localized version of the proposed law. 
           
Applicants for marriage in this capital  town are  required to  undergo  counseling on the importance of food production, home management and budgeting  to attain a healthy, safe and secured viable family.
           
The Sangguniang Bayan here  recently enacted an ordinance known as Responsible Parenting Movement Program Counseling to support population management program in Bontoc.
           
During counseling, the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist gives lecture on food production, home management and budgeting that could eventually contribute to the newlyweds in the formation of a good family.
           
It is provided in this ordinance that before receiving their marriage license, the couple  shall present to the Local Civil Registrar certification issued by the Municipal Agriculturist office certifying that they have satisfactorily complied with the process of counseling.
           
They are required  to show  a certificate from the same office certifying that they have complied with Municipal Ordinance No. 144, s. 2009 which mandates the couple to plant ten  tree seedlings each.

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Tabuk City allotted 140 TESDA scholarship slots


By Geraldine G. Dumallig

TABUK CITY, Kalinga  – Some 140 slots of free skills training through the Technical Education and Skills  Authority were allotted for  residents in this city. 
           
These were for training courses on carpentry with  28 slots ; masonry, 25; gas metal arc welding,  32; steel metal arc welding,30; and electrical installation and maintenance,  25.
           
Training  duration three to six months.
           
Tabuk City Public Employment Service Office manager LoydaSaboy said the city government gave priority to the out of school youth sector, especially high school graduates.
           
Saboy urged barangay officials to inform their constituents about the program  and provide the information to the PESO for proper endorsement at the TESDA.
           
“The OSYs and other interested individuals should take advantage of this opportunity considering that these courses are the current in-demand blue collar jobs,” she said.
           
To address the skills demand of industries in the local and international level, the government through TESDA is providing opportunities to provide skills and competencies to job seekers through appropriate training programs.

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BSU prof discovers Cordillera tree good for growing shiitake


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Chipped branches of Alnus tree endemic to the Cordillera are good for growing Shiitake mushrooms, which are noted for their anti-cancer properties.

Dr. Bernard S. Tad-awan, a professor of the College of Agriculture of the Benguet State University here, found out that the chipped branches of the Alnus tree mixed with sawdust, rice bran and lime can be good growing media for Shiitake mushrooms.

The study, entitled “Using chipped Alnus as substrate f or Shiitake (Lentinulaedodes) in growing bags,” noted that since it is a nitrogen-fixing tree, Alnus actually helps improves soil fertility.

The health benefits of the Shiitake mushroom fueled Dr. Tad-awan’s interest in undertaking a study to intensify its production.

Shiitake mushroom contains lentinan, a polysaccharide, which is an helps restore the vitality of the immune system.

Lentinan is responsible for the mushroom’s reported anti-carcinogenic, anti-tumor, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects, Tad-awan said.

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RDC to Cordillerans: Help attain autonomy


By Carlito C. Dar

BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional Development Council is pushing “unity” among constituents to attain regional autonomy.       

According to RDC co-chair Dr. Virgilio Bautista, the Cordillera Administrative Region since its establishment 25 years ago, has  gained a lot in its struggle for socio-economic development  but much  is still  needed to be done to ensure better quality life for every Cordilleran.

“While we must be proud of our significant gains in the past 25 years, we,  in the RDC believe that we can accomplish much more under an autonomous set-up that will afford us the right to manage our natural resources and safeguard our assets, expected to be responsible and nurturing stewards as our ancestors taught us”, Bautista said.

In terms of Indigenous People (IP) rights, Bautista stressed that the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) is one of the region’s important gains.  IP communities in the region have embarked on the formulation of their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans.  But he said   many provisions of the IPRA are needed to be fully implemented.

As for infrastructure, Bautista reported that as of February 2012, 64.42 percent of the region’s roads are  paved, though looking at the regional  situation, only Baguio City’s roads are 100 percent paved  with Apayao  having the least paved roads at 32.42 percent. CAR still registered the least paved roads at 54 percent  nationwide  in 2011.

In terms of poverty, Bautista reported that as the region posted only modest performances in growing the economy, poverty remains to be a problem.

According to him, though the region successfully scaled down poverty incidence  from 32 percent in 1991 to 17.1 percent in 2009, the gap across provinces remains wide and only Benguet, including the highly urbanized city of Baguio,is the top performer with four percent poverty incidence rate. The  rest remain among the top 20 poor provinces  nationwide.

On environment, Bautista said as CAR is said to be the Watershed cradle of North Philippines supplying water for domestic, irrigation, power generation and industrial needs within and outside the region, of the region’s   total land area only 15 percent is classified as alienable and disposable land while the rest are classified as forest land, at such the limited A & D land has resulted to negative impacts on forestlands with expanding needs for settlement and livelihood.

With this unique situation of the region, the RDC, inspired by the region’s development vision, renewed the pursuit on autonomy and with the proposed regional autonomy as the overarching theme for Cordillera Development.

After 25 years, with the drafting of the third organic act, which is already filed in Congress as House Bill 5595 and Senate Bill 3115, the RDC reiterated its call for autonomy.

“We eagerly look forward to that day when we are finally in control of our future and our development as a people, living in a multi-cultured Cordillera society with a shared common vision to improve the quality of every Cordillera. With regional autonomy, we are confident of growing our economy at a faster and more sustained rate that will ensure better quality of life. We in RDC, hope that you will be one with us in this long and difficult journey towards moving forward the state of development of our beloved Cordillera”, Bautista said. 

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CL leptospirosis cases up; PhilHealth insures victims



DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation recently announced uncomplicated cases of leptospirosis will be covered by the insuranceas recent flooding in this city is expected to increase leptospirosis among residents,

Public Relations Officer Irene Martinez said effective August 7, all admissions of uncomplicated leptospirosis shall be reimbursed as case rate of P11, 000 for all member types.

Meanwhile, the Regional Office of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Region 3 has distributed P2,194,687.94 worth of drugs and medicines to Central Luzon flood victims particularly those suffering from leptospirosis.

Among the drugs the DOH regional office  distributed include doxycyline to prevent leptospirosis and medicines for colds, cough, fever and other common illness,” Health Director LeonitaGorgolon said.

CHD3’s Health Emergency Management Staff (HEMS) has been on a 24-hour operation since August 7. -- With a report from Mar T. Supnad

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‘Gold manager’ nabbed for rape in Ifugao town



HINGYON, Ifugao -- Police arrested the second most wanted person in this town for rape.
           
Donato Bunew Lagmay was arrested in Sitio Balcony, Barangay Runruno Nueva Vizcaya August 20,  around about 5:12 a.m. by the joint personnel of Ifugao Provincial Public Safety Company led by Chief Insp. Allan B. Guyguyon and Ifugao Provincial Intelligence Branch led by Insp. Ramon B. Espirito Jr.

Lagmay is a small scale gold ore mill manager and a native of Poblacion Hingyon, Ifugao.

He was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by  Judge Joseph Baguilat of Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Lagawe, Ifugao.

On the same day, another wanted person in Kiangan town was also arrested in Poblacion West, Lamutby  combined elements of Kiangan police led by Insp.  Christian Salonga and Lamut cops led by SPO3 Luciano Mangulad.

The suspect was identified as Gabriel ManghiGuiniling, 42, of SitioBolar, Barangay Duit Kiangan.

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Ecija garbage crisis looms with opposition to landfill



PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija  – An official from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau has warned of a garbage crisis in the province if the residents would continue to oppose the 20-hectare sanitary landfill project here.          
           
Lormelyn Claudio, DENR-EMB regional director, said the proposed sanitary landfill project should be implemented because it is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

She said RA 9003 provides for the establishment of sanitary landfills in place of open dumps.

Claudio noted the existing garbage problem in the region with the failure of local chief executives to comply with the provisions of RA 9003.

“You can see in the recent flashfloods the need to dispose of garbage properly,” she said.

Claudio added that proper garbage disposal should be the responsibility of mayors and barangay officials.

The EMB approved the application for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to Ecocsci Corp., a firm based in Quezon City, for a 20-hectare sanitary landfill project despite opposition from civil society groups and local residents.

She said her office has also issued ECCs for the operations of sanitary landfills in Sta. Rosa, also in Nueva Ecija and in Ma. Aurora town in Aurora province.

Palayan Mayor Romeo Capinpin signed an agreement with Ecosci chairman Juanito Ho for the establishment of a sanitary landfill in this city.

The proposed landfill will rise in Barangay Imelda Valley, which has been certified as an ideal site for a waste disposal facility in a joint survey conducted by the DENR, Ecosci and a resident geodetic engineer of the city government. -- MG      

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Free tuition set for poor protectors of environment in LU



SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Indigents who wish to study can now avail of university education without spending a single centavo in this province.

La Union Public Information Officer Adamor Dagang said this is possible if students choose to take up Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (BSES) being offered at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU).

Gov. Manuel Ortega, a known environmentalist, has been encouraging the youth to get involved in environmental protection and pushed for a program of free education to those who will commit to this purpose, said Dagang.

Under Board Resolution No. 2011-25, incoming freshmen are given free tuition fee up to their graduation.

First offered in June, 2011, this program has not only resulted in an increase in enrollees but also affirmed DMMMSU’s commitment to environmental protection as well. -- LBI

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Vigan, among top LGUs in Philippines


By Mydz Supnad

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur- This heritage city is among the best local government units in the country having gotten one of the highest scores in the Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS) for several times.
           
Vigan joined the top 13 LGUs in the country along with the provinces of  La Union, Cavite, Albay and Ilocos Norte; cities of Valenzuela, Makati, Taguig, Davao, Laoag, Angeles and Cabanatuan; and the municipality of Ilagan in Isabela,” Department of Interior and Local Government  Monitoring and Evaluation Division Chief Lerrie Hernandez said.
           
“The upward trend we saw in the reports indicates Angeles’ sustainability and compliance to laws and directives from the local and national agencies,” Hernandez added.
           
But this was not the first time that this city under Mayor Eva Marie Medina, got citations and national award in good leadership and attributed this to the support of the hardworking employees of the city government.
           
LGPMS is a self-assessment, management and development tool that enables LGUs to determine their capabilities and limitations in the delivery of essential public services.
           
It provides benchmark data that can be utilized for program prioritization, policy formulation and policy direction for development purposes of LGUs.

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Officials push ‘Sabangan-Sagada road’ construction to promote tourism


Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Opening a road from Sumaguing cave road  located here to Balili, Bontoc  would  enhance  tourism and promote the Balangagan Cave of southern Sagada.

The  Sangguniang  Bayan of  Sagada  and barangay officials bared this in  their  2011 resolution  requesting  the Department of Public  Works and Highways  Secretary Rogelio Singson  to extend the length  of the Dantay-Sagada  national road  to Sagada-Suyo-Balili road.

Sagada vice mayor Richard Yodong said the  Sagada-Balili  road  would  highlight Sagada’s  other attractions within  the infrastructure program of  the Department of Tourism’s  priority development roads  in partnership with DPWH. 

With this, an August 2012 joint resolution of  theSangguniang Bayan  here and barangay officials  of  Sagada reiterated  the May 2011 resolution in the light of  DPWH’s identifying  a Sabangan-Sagada road project not covering the Sagada-Balili route identified in the SB’s resolution.  

The  100 million  peso Sabangan-Sagada road is  included in the 2013  projects  covered under the DOT  funds  for priority  roads leading  towards tourist destinations,  DPWH regional director  EdilbertoCarabaccan  in an interview said.

Mountain Province –DPWH district engineer John Marquez said survey operations  are already  being undergone along the Sabangan-Sagada road passing through Sabangan-Madepdeppas-Data-Taccong-Suyo route.

 In an interview,  DOT regional director  Purificacion  Molintas said the  P100 million Sagada-Sabangan Road project refers to the  road which she has  inspected along the Sagada-Suyo-Balili road.  

She said she was not aware of any other Sabangan-Sagada road aside from the   Sagada-Suyo-Balili road leading towards  theSagada-Bontoc road near  Sabangan. 

Molintas  endorsed said Sagada-Balili road  following  Sagada SB’s  resolution.

Funding of the proposed 11 kilometer Sagada-Balili road has been earlier endorsed  by the  DOT in its priority tourism roads program,  following  visit  and inspection  of  said Sagada-Balili road by  Molintas   during the town’s Etag Festival February this year.

Molintas said proposed projects are finally validated by the  Tourism Coordinating  Council composed of  department of heads of   identified  line agencies of the government  including DPWH and  DOT.

With the  Sagada-Balili road,  the 13.5 kilometer Dantay-Sagada national road  ending along  the  road to Sumaguing  Cave shall extend  to Suyo  barangay  and on to Balili joining the  Bontoc-Baguio national road.

The opening of the road shall serve as an alternative road for visitors who visit Balangagan Cave to take this  route  from the Bontoc-Baguio national highway and don’t have to travel the Sagada-Dantay road.

The   road  network  towards  Balili  serves to  offer an alternative route to the only  Dantay- Sagada road  leading to  Sagada  and  Besao municipalities.

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Philex engages communities inwaterways cleanup, rehab after tailings dam collapse


By Thet Mesias

TUBA, Benguet --  Philex Mining Corporation is set to engage the communities near its Padcal Mine for short-term restoration and long-term rehabilitation of waterways affected by the recent tailings leak at its mine site in this province.

The move is in line with the company’s environmental rehabilitation and remediation efforts while working closely with its stakeholders and the local government units involved, Philex Mining President and COO Eulalio Austin, Jr. said.  

Victor Francisco, vice-president for Community Relations at Philex Mining, said the company has been talking with the households situated along the tributaries in SitioPambasan, Barangay Dalupirip, Itogon town, to join the cleanup and rehabilitation drive in parts of Balog Creek and Agno River.

“The locals are more knowledgeable of the terrains and geographic characteristics of the affected areas,” he said, “so they can help our employee-volunteers fast track the cleanup work in Balog Creek.”

Philex Mining deployed a four-team cleanup task force early this month to work on clearing pathways and trails, in order to give its over 400 employee-volunteers access to Balog Creek and Agno River.

When the cleanup is done, Philex Mining will start developing projects and activities in the neighboring communities, which residents may use for their livelihood and in generating other sources of income.

Besides creating friendlier trails, the task force also set up satellite offices as repository of various resources for the cleanup drive, as well as silt traps and tram lines for hauling of the tailings collected from the creek. These mechanisms are also useful for shoveling of silts from the riverbed and off the riverbanks, and gathering these tailings into sacks for hauling onto a temporary sediment impounding area.

While heavy rains in the past few days contributed to the difficulty of transporting materials through the challenging terrain, Philex Mining set up four satellite offices to look after the needs of the employee-volunteers and run the whole operation.

Austin has noted the willingness of Philex Mining employees to be part of the cleanup drive, as they first went downstream early this month to start cleaning the tributaries despite the bad weather and rugged terrains.

“The spirit of volunteerism is very evident,” said Mildred Daz, the company’s budget manager for Padcal projects and who is currently one of the managers-in-charge in Philex Mining’s Environment Command Post, at Padcal Mine. “You can tell how these people love the company. They don’t want to be mere spectators; they want part of the responsibility.”

Emilia Tabula, the company’s division manager for General Services, said the cleanup team has braved the rains and the muddy, slippery, and steep trails going to Balog Creek, with its members usually staying at their designated cleanup sites for up to four days, after which another batch of volunteers replaces them.

Tabula, who is in-charge of Philex Mining’s Satellite Offices, said all employee-volunteers have been provided with complete personal protective equipment (PPE) after undergoing complete medical screening to ensure that they are fit to work, and receiving thorough briefing on safety precautions.

Philex Mining voluntarily stopped operations at Padcal Mine at midnight of August 1, following the accidental discharge of water and sediments from its Tailings Pond No. 3.

The company has immediately reorganized its personnel and resources to focus on the rehabilitation of its tailings pond and the protection of the environment.

It has been reported and confirmed by both internal and external experts and government officials that the tailings are non-toxic, and that no injuries have been reported as a result of the incident.

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La Union board member gets Palace usec position


By Freddie G. Lazaro

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Provincial Board Member Henry Bacurnay has resigned from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) after being appointed Undersecretary for External Affairs in the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang.

Bacurnay was replaced in the SP by his wife, Nancy Bacurnay, effective last week.

The second termer in the SP said he will be working closely with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa for the realization of the plans and programs of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Although saddened that he will be leaving his elective post in La Union, Bacurnay said it was a pleasure to receive the President’s appointment and render public service under his new position.

Bacurnay is a long-time member of Aquino’s Liberal Party.

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