Baguio groups hit SM over ‘massacre’ of trees

>> Monday, January 26, 2015

‘Firm contradicts Pope’s call to care for environment’ 

BAGUIO CITY – Cause-oriented groups and concerned citizens here assailed cutting of around 60 trees which they called “massacre” last week by SM Baguio saying they would hold protest actions against this.   

“While Pope Francis reiterated the need to nurture the environment during his Papal visit in the country, SM Baguio cut at least 60 pine trees in the cover of the night on Jan. 17,” said Jude Baggo, information officer of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance. 

On Jan. 2012, SM Baguio cut down around 40 pine trees despite widespread and strong opposition from environmental activists and people of Baguio.

At present, a total of at least 100 grown pine trees were cleared by SM Baguio since 2012 to pave way for construction of multi-level parking system.

This, as SM said it would plant 506,000 pine seedlings as replacement of the 60 pine trees it cut last week.

This was reportedly 440,000 more than the order issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, after the Court of Appeals—in a 31-page decision on December 12, 2014—affirmed  lifting of Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO).

The TEPO was a subject of appeal by environmentalists in this city over a Regional Trial Court decision issued on April 10, 2012 that lifted the said protection order.

The CA said “the appeal lacks merit,” and allowed SM Development Corporation to proceed with its Sky Park project.

SM’s project involves the construction of a seven-storey building called “Sky Park Project” which features walls with live plants, a sewerage treatment facility, and an underground rainwater catchment tank.

The excess space of the water catchment tank will be turned into parking spaces that can accommodate more than 600 vehicles.

SM Baguio was reportedly given permits to cut down at least 60 pine trees by the DENR and city government with the condition that the firm plant 506,000 trees in different areas of the city aside from posting a P6 million bond.

“These actions call for indignation,” Baggo said. “The Cordillera Peoples Alliance joins all sectors and people of Baguio in expressing their outrage over this new incident of pine tree cutting done by SM and the failure of the DENR and the city government to do appropriate action to save the trees,” he added.

“It may be legally correct that SM is permitted to proceed in cutting the pine trees but this is not a simple issue just for SM to decide. This is an issue for the people of Baguio to get engaged in and participate. Those responsible of this problem should be accountable to the people. Also, what is legally permitted is not always just.”

Before SM, Luneta Hill was a mini park and one of the few of spots in Baguio where one can find trees, flowers, butterflies and fresh atmosphere where people walk and commune with nature.

“With the construction of SM, Luneta Hill was transformed into a concrete jungle,” Baggo said.

“The remaining trees at Luneta Hill should be spared from further cutting. As people, we should heed the call of Pope Francis to care and nurture the environment. We can start small by planting more trees and recycling; participating and involvement in activities and peoples organizations working for the protection of the environment.”

He said, “Unlike Pope Francis who showed deep concern for the poor and the marginalized sectors of society, SM Baguio ignores the common good and general welfare of the people in exchange for surplus profit for the few.  

“SM proudly presents itself as a wholesome and environmental-friendly corporation. But past and recent events again reveal its true colors as an enemy of the trees, and the environment.”

In the first quarter of 2012, uproar was caused by sudden news that SM’s expansion project will cause cutting or earth-balling of 182 pine trees.

Earlier, the TEPO was momentarily given to halt the earth-balling while law suits were forwarded by several groups regarding the Environmental Compliance Certificate awarded to SM as well as the expansion project.

The cases were dismissed by the RTC in December 2012, stating the case failed to show enough evidence on harmful effects of the project.

The case was elevated to the CA which released its decision last week.

The CA dismissed the case citing that SMI had not violated any legal procedures and that the expansion project will not have an adverse effect on the city’s environment.

“We must be conscious of the impact SM will have in our local and homegrown businesses here in the city,” said Perry Mendoza, chairperson of Tongtongan Ti Umili and Tracy Anne Dumalo, TTU secretary general in a statement.

“How many local businesses will suffer due to unequal competition?  We, as Baguio citizens, grew up with these homegrown businesses. We know these people, they became a part of our lives.”


“As we let SM pursue its expansion projects (hotels, restaurants, parking area, recreational area) creep into what is already a crowded Baguio. We are contributing to the eventual death of local and homegrown businesses and establishments. Now that the legal machinery we have depended on to put a stop to the continuation of the project has failed us again, the answer is in the hands of the people in taking a united stand and forging an action to really show the Baguio we want. The fight against corporate greed continues.” -- AD

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5 dead, 2 hurt in Pangasinan shootings


LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Five persons were killed and two others were wounded in separate shooting incidents involving motorcycle-riding gunmen in Pangasinan last week.

Unidentified assailants gunned down Larry Miranda, 41, a former barangay councilman, and Virgilio Ferrer, 58, both residents of Barangay Longos in Calasiao town, along a road in Barangay Pangalangan in San Carlos City Jan. 17.  

Miranda suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the body while Ferrer was hit in the back.

They were pronounced dead on arrival at the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital.

Police said the victims were on a motorcycle on their way home from a cockpit in Barangay Capataan when three unidentified suspects on two motorcycles chased them.

In Bugallon town, Mark Garcia, 42, a resident of Barangay Maambal in Pozorrubio town and caretaker at a poultry farm of former Binmaley mayor Lorenzo Cerezo, was shot dead in Barangay Salomague at 1:15 a.m. a day earlier.

The suspects also took the P70,000 cash that he was carrying.

Two farmers – Jesus Sison, 63, a resident of Barangay Balococ, Lingayen town, and Reynaldo Delfin, 43, of Barangay Amamperez, Villasis – were gunned down Jan. 16.

Sison was collecting firewood when an unidentified suspect shot him repeatedly with a Cal. 45 pistol.

Delfin was buying cigarettes at a convenience store when a suspect identified as Primitivo Barnachea, 63, who is also a farmer, shot him. Jonathan Barnachea, who was tending the store, was hit by a stray bullet and was hospitalized.

Meanwhile, Anthony Perez, 39, an employee of PhilHealth was wounded when unidentified gunmen shot him along Barangay Matalava in West Lingayen town at 10:40 p.m.  – Eva Visperas and Cesar Ramirez


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6 dead, 3 hurt in NL road mishaps


By Raymund Catindig and Eva Visperas

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Six persons died, including a couple, and three others were seriously injured in separate road accidents in Cagayan, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan Thursday.

Santiago Visario and his wife Genoveva were killed in the first accident when their tricycle, loaded with vegetables, collided with a Mitsubishi Montero driven by businessman Carlito Acena along the highway in Barangay Immayus Norte in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, according to Senior Police Officer 2 Romulo Aguilar.

The couple was thrown several meters away because of the impact.

Acena surrendered to authorities.

In Gonzaga, Cagayan, farmer Emer Arellano, 43, died at the scene when the tricycle he was riding collided with a motorcycle driven by Edmar Arellano, 40, along the highway in Barangay Calayan. Arellano died while being treated in the hospital, said Police Officer 3 Ericson Raquel.

Police said the driver of the tricycle, Jomar Agcaoili, remains confined in the hospital.

In Dagupan City in Pangasinan, two persons died and two others were injured when a Mitsubishi Montero rammed into a Toyota Corolla in Barangay Carangalaan around 1 a.m.

The fatalities were identified as Willie Agsaoay, 42, who was driving the Corolla; and his passenger, Edison Meneses, 21.


Another passenger, Jeofrey Agpalasin, 31, was brought to the Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital. Mark Patrick Jacinto, the driver of the Mitsubishi Montero, is confined at the Region 1 Medical Center.   

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Murder charges filed vs Turqueza slay suspect


BANGUED, Abra – The suspect who allegedly shot to death a newsman who also was an official the Dept. of Justice here was charged for murder filed at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on Jan. 23.

The police’s Provincial Special Investigation Task Group Turqueza  and the victim’s lawyer, filed the criminal complaint  against the suspect identified as Jay Jay Tineza Tugadi of Tayum Abra.

 Jacinto”Jack” Testado Turqueza, 47,  administrative officer V of Office of Provincial Prosecutor here, resident of Afrememco Subdivision, Calaba here was shot to death along Taft St, Zone 5 in front of Mike’s Department Store evening of Oct. 8.

Chief Supt. Isagani R. Nerez, regional police director said filing of charges against Tugadi was part of police peacekeeping effort in Abra which was rocked by violent crimes.

Nerez earlier formed “Abra Shield,” a comprehensive police program in Abra which included intensified anti-crime operations to prevent and control crime, account for loose firearms and neutralize criminal gangs in the province.


Nerez also warned abusive and uncooperative local executives that police shall exhaust judicial remedies to counter the latters’ actions.

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Groups push casino, legal gambling in Baguio City


By Paul Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY – Establishment of a casino or any form of legalized gambling is now being pushed here to entertain foreign and local tourists who frequent the city.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan bared this saying some sectors revived the idea of operating anew a casino in the city but this should first be decided by the people.

The operation of entertainment or gaming complex to some sectors is one way of maximizing the tourism industry in the city which can bring financial benefit to the local economy, an idea debated by moralists groups. 

“Personally, I am against any form of gambling and my stand in this issue is to let the people decide whether they like it or not, this should be subjected to a public hearing so we can get the sentiments of the people of Baguio,” Domogan said.

However, the mayor noted the absence of an ordinance prohibiting the establishment of a casino in the city and stating the existing national law allowing PAGCOR to grant franchises to any interested entrepreneur to operate either sweepstakes, lotto, bingo, casino and the like within the country.

Pagcor however is required to secure from local government units, a Certificate of No Objection prior to its establishment of a gaming complex. 

Baguio Casino was earlier operated at the former Pines Hotel exclusively for tourists despite strong opposition by the city government then on its operation until the building was gutted by fire.

It was reopened at the former Hyatt Terraces Hotel but was destroyed during the 1990 killer earthquake and since then was not re-established.

As per records, the city government is entitled to 3% share from the gross earnings from the operation of the Baguio Casino exclusively for developmental projects.

In 2003, the operation of a casino within Camp John Hay upon the request of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) was passed and approved subject to the condition that only tourists and members of Camp John Hay would be allowed to enter and participate in gaming activities inside the complex.

The same was however repealed in City Resolution Number 131 series of 2009 after concerned groups publicly reiterated their opposition.

Domogan said, “despite disallowing the operation of a casino in the city, people still go to other places to play which boils down to values.”

The mayor noted strengthening character formation in the home, the schools, the church and media in educating residents against the evils of gambling will be the best defence against these vices. 

Recently, the mayor ordered the Baguio City Police Office to stop all kinds of illegal gambling in the city including those in the guise of fund-raising activities and close-down lotto and E-Bingo outlets which do not have the pertinent business permits.


Authorities also encouraged residents to report any illegal gambling activity being operated within the city for proper action to strengthen the anti-illegal gambling drive of the city government. 

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Weekend hikers’ limit up to April on Mount Pulag already reached


KABAYAN, Benguet — Reservation for slots to go up Mount Pulag here, the country’s  third highest peak, the highest in Luzon, had reached its maximum for all weekends this January until April, which is the peak of climbing season.

Mount Pulag Protected Area superintendent Emerita Albas bared this saying those who haven’t been listed on the weekend hike can no longer be allowed to go up, even if they are already at the ranger’s station.

However, Albas said climbers have an option to schedule a weekday trek.

Albas said Mt. Pulag has a maximum capacity of 350 persons at one time.

She said this is part of the preservation and protection measure being undertaken to prevent the destruction of the protected area.

This is also because there are only two camp sites where people can set-up their tents for the night.

The summit, 2,922 meters above sea level, is also only able to accommodate the number, which will allow climber to see and experience the majestic view of the sunrise atop a sea of clouds. The cloud formations are best during this time of year.

Records show that in 2013 there were 16,332 who went up Mt. Pulag. From January to September 2014, there were already 17,105 trekkers.

Mt. Pulag, right in the boundary of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya, had attained a status as a favorite climbing spot of hikers, especially now that it can be reached easily.

The road leading to the ranger station in Bokod, Benguet from Baguio City via the Benguet-Vizcaya Road has been completely paved.

There are four major trails going to the summit, the Ambangeg trail via Bokod ranger station; Akiki trail via Kabayan town, Tawangan trail in Bokod and the Ambaguio trail from Nueva Vizcaya, with Ambangeg trail being the most.

All hikers are required to register at the Ambangeg Ranger’s station for documentation and security purposes. There, they will be required to attend a briefing of the Mt. Pulag National Park management of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on rules, policies, traditions and emergency protocol.

Albas said climbers return to see Mt. Pulag because of the “top of the world” view and feeling at the summit. The journey up is through a mossy forest, the mystical grasslands, that is coupled with the unique mountain cold, which can reach near-freezing levels. It is studded with dwarf bamboos and many attest to the mystical air of the mountain.


Danny Galati, meteorologist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Cordillera, said that Mt. Pulag temperatures are four degrees Celsius lower than Baguio City because it has a higher elevation.

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Manaoag Shrine soon to be pilgrimage site by law



MANAOG, Pangasinan – A bill that seeks to make Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan, a pilgrimage site will soon become a law, Pangasinan fourth district Rep. Georgina de Venecia  said.

The House of Representatives committee on tourism passed House Bill 4481, De Venecia told local media.

The church will be formally declared as Basilica Minore next month. Pope Francis gave the title Minor Basilica to the shrine last October.

“In view of this recognition and its prominence as a pilgrims’ destination, it’s about time that the government do something to take care of the welfare and protection of the throngs of Catholic devotees, who represent 80 percent of our country’s population, who have and will continue to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of The Rosary in Manaoag,” De Venecia, whose congressional turf includes Manaoag, said.


The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the shrine is the parish church of the archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, which is an affiliate of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

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Illegal sale of lots at City Camp lagoon probe on


By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The fraudulent sale of the lots at the City Camp lagoon is now being investigated, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said.

The mayor said the apparent lot scam surfaced during inspection of the illegal structures in the area the other week. 

The inspection was prompted by reports that some of the lots supposedly reserved for public use have already been issued titles.

Some of the owners of the illegal constructions in the area claimed making regular payments for the lots with a promise that the lots will later be titled in their name.  They also claimed that government men were behind the sale.

The mayor encouraged the victims to come out and issue affidavits to corroborate their allegations and identify the perpetrators so cases can be filed against them.

The mayor said the inventory by the members of the city’s anti-squatting team showed over 100 illegal structures were put up in the area.

He said the city will issue notices of demolition to all of the owners of these structures but they will also be given the chance to show legal proofs and justify their constructions.  He said those who can show building permits will be spared.

Owners of the structures reportedly threatened to oppose the demolition claiming they have proofs to justify their occupancy of the lots and the construction of the structures.

“They will be given the chance to show their proofs.  Even us, we do not want to conduct these demolition activities.  But if their constructions are illegal, then it is our mandate to remove them,” the mayor said.

The mayor ordered an inventory of the constructions at the three-hectare site for identification and investigation to stem the squatting problem in the area identified for public use.

The mayor said the area has for many years been reserved for city needs as it has been declared unsafe for occupancy due to its susceptibility to flooding.

A portion of the lot has earlier been identified as the future site of the expansion of the city’s sewer treatment plant to cater to the barangays not covered by the existing STP at South Sanitary Camp.

Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr., chair of the city council committee on urban planning, lands and housing, earlier reported some lots in the area have been issued titles and this should be stopped.


 In a meeting with the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera and City Environment and Natural Resources Office, it was found out that only six notices of demolition were issued out despite numerous illegal structures.

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POLICE ROUNDUP


PRO-COR to celebrate  24th foundation day
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- The Police Regional Office- Cordillera will celebrate its 24th foundation day on Jan. 26, coinciding with traditional flag raising ceremony with retired police Chief Supt. Villamor A. Bumanglag  as guest of honor and speaker.

Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, Cordillera police director extended his appreciation and gratitude to police personnel who served with distinction in law enforcement and public safety and to non-uniformed personnel. 

The activity will highlight awarding of recognition of selected partner nongovernment organizations, deserving PNP personnel and wreath laying activity at Heroes Monument here sponsored by selected widows of the deceased PNP personnel who spent their lives in serving the PNP.

Different stakeholders, partners in the media, NGO awardees and other participants will be invited.

Nerez extended gratitude and appreciation to them for supporting programs of the organization and helping in prevention of crime. Nerez said he was this partnership will continue to grow in the years to come.

Abra exec’s kin sued for stray bullet slay
TAYUM, Abra -- Police have filed charges against a relative of a budget officer in this town for the death of an 11-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet during  New Year revelry.

Henry Trinidad Tejero, who is also the driver of Elva Tejero, was charged with homicide and alarm and scandal, Abra police director Senior Supt. Albertlito Garcia said.

Garcia said Tejero’s indicment was based on the statement of witnesses and the result of the scene of the crime trajectory examination, which points to the house of the municipal official as the source of the bullet.

Tejero was at the house of the budget officer when a bullet from a Cal. 45 pistol hit Jercy Decym Tabaday in the head.

Garcia said Tejero had refused to submit himself to polygraph and paraffin tests.

Police had cleared the victim’s father, Efren Tabaday, and Tayum Vice Mayor Bienvenido Dion Jr. for the girl’s death.

Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin had offered a P200,000 bounty for the speedy resolution of the case.

P2.5 million marijuana eradicated in Benguet
BAKUN, Benguet -- Some P2.5 million worth of marijuana plants was eradicated by lawmen in two sites here Monday.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez said members of Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Group, Bakun police, Regional Public Safety Battalion and Benguet Provincial Public Safety Company uprooted the plants here in Sitio Balisawsaw and Nacneng of Barangay Kayapa. 

Supt. Ronald Gayo, RAIDSOTG chief led the team who uprooted and burned on site the illegal plants.

Man arrested in Tabuk for gun used in traffic altercation
TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- A man was arrested by police here  Tuesday noon at a welding shop here at Barangay Magsaysay for possession of a Cal. 45 handgun he pointed at a tricycle driver due to traffic misunderstanding.

Senior Supt. Victor Wanchakan identified the arrested gun wielder as Romeo Angngalao Ballong, 38, a resident of Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga.

 Prior to his arrest, due to traffic misunderstanding in Balacang St. Casigayan, here, Ballong  brought out a handgun and pointed it in direction of the victim named as Alex GaniquinBai, 46, a resident of Casigayan, Tabuk City.

The victim immediately reported to the police the incident that resulted to his arrest.

 Police seized from him the handgun and eight bullets.

Bocap surrenders gun to police
FLORA, Apayao – In support to police  campaign against loose firearms, barangay chairman Manny Biggayan of Poblacion East here surrendered a Cal. 38 revolver to local police Jan. 21

Most wanted man in Cordillera arrested 
CAMP DANGWA, Benguet -- Cordillera’s notorious criminal gang leader reportedly involved in a series of highway robbery, motorcycle theft, gun smuggling and illegal drug pushing operating in Kalinga and provinces of Region 2 was arrested by Police Regional Office Cordillera cops Jan. 17 in Purok 5, Trinanes Street, Upper Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila.

A police report here said effort of Regional Intelligence Division, Kalinga Intelligence Branch, Highway Patrol Group  and Regional Intelligence Unit in conducting investigation resulted in the arrest of the most wanted person in the region.

Regional police director Chief Supt. IsaganiNerez, identified the arrested group leader as Freddie Mar “Dandana” Ambasing, 27, native of Barangay Guilayon, Tabuk City, Kalinga and  resident of Barangay Bulanao, Tabuk who was seen in Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila before his arrest.

Judge Marcelino K. Wacas of Regional Trial Court of the 2nd Judicial Region of Branch 25, Tabuk City, Kalinga issued warrants of arrest of Ambasing for robbery, violence, intimidation, carnapping among other crimes.

Wacas set P1,380,000 for Ambasing’ temporary liberty.

 Ambasing is now under the custody of regional police based in Camp Dangwa,La Trinidad, Benguet .
Nerez congratulated police teams saying they did their jobs well.

Jealous wife hacks husband
BAGUIO CITY – A jealous wife reportedly got drunk then hacked her husband here last week. 

Police said before this, Elsie Ginongo Liwang, 57, had a fight with her husband named as Bartolome Pideng Dapiaoen, 64, laborer, accusing him of having an extra marital affair.

After their fight, the suspect hacked the victim on his neck and body with an axe while he was eating inside their residence here at Liteng, Pacdal.

The son of the victim who saw the incident immediately brought his father to Baguio General Hospital Medical Center where he is now in critical condition while the suspect was arrested by police.

Service crew member hits victim with lead pipe
BAGUIO CITY -- A service crew member landed in jail after he was arrested in front of the Baguio Memorial Chapel along  Naguilian Road here night of Jan. 16 for hitting his victim with  a lead pipe.

The victim named as Roderick Algaba Carbonell, 36, of Naguilian, La Union, and resident of Queen of Peace, Naguilian Road was walking when the suspect identified as Daniel Panzuelo Cabubas, 19, of Malabon, Manila, and residing at TaƱedo Building, Kayang Extension here hit the former’s head with the lead pip[e.

Calubas’s male companion evaded arrest. Responding members of Police Station 7 arrested the suspect while the victim was brought to Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for medical treatment.  

Man hacks wife over affair
ALFONSO LISTA, Ifugao – Out of jealousy, a certain Warlito N. Acojedo, 40 reportedly hacked his wife here last week for allegedly having an extra marital affair.

The victim, identified as Filipina B. Acojeda, 39 was hit three times on her head with a bolo while she was busy washing their clothes in their residence here at Purok 4, Poblacion.

The neighbors of the victim rushed her to Potia District Hospital and later referred her to Santiago City Hospital for further medication.

The suspect who was convinced to surrender to responding police after he drank a poison inside their house and was rushed to  same hospital.

He was later referred to Santiago City Hospital for medical treatment.

Call center agent nabbed for robbing old man
BAGUIO CITY -- A call center agent was arrested for robbing a 60-year-old man along km 3 Asin Road here evening of Jan. 16.

The victim identified as Antonio Brun Billanes of Happy Homes Old Lucban here said he was robbed by suspect identified as Rogenick Barbarin Gatpandan , 30, call center agent, native of Pasig City, and a resident along km 3, Asin Road.

After robbing him, the suspect allegedly ran and hid in an open garage of an apartment located at along Asin Road.

Responding police personnel of Police Stations 1 and 9 and members of city SWAT team arrested the suspect who was hiding in a hole at the back of said apartment.

Cordillera police chief tells public: report crimes
CAMP DANGWA , La Trinidad, Benguet – Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, Cordillera police director urged the public and local governments to help police by reporting crimes to make the region attain better peace and order.

He urged the public to provide police with relevant and timely information through social media(Twitter-@PNPCordillera or Facebook Page- Pio Procor, or through the following numbers: Complaint Referral -094765880 / 09174297628; Regional Tactical Operation Center 074) 422-5515; 09175302679/ 09285591669.

Oplan Ligtas Biyahe launched in Benguet
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The provincial government here and Provincial Police Office launched “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe,”  with public utility vehicles (PUVs) asked to stick safety-tip stickers within eye level of the drivers.

The safety tip stickers are aimed at regularly reminding drivers to ask three questions to themselves before they even start their engine – “Am I in good condition to drive?”; “Is my vehicle in good running condition?” and “Am I sure to safely ferry my passengers to their destination?”

The launching was attended by officers and members of various PUV associations in the province, which was followed by the ceremonial placing of stickers inside the vehicles.

“This is our way of reminding the drivers to value not just their lives, but their passengers, by disciplining themselves and prevent being involved in a road accident,” Gov. Nestor Fongwan said.

The governor said that as soon as the passenger steps foot in a vehicle, he is handing his life to the driver, which the driver on the other hand should always remember.

He said that many lives have been lost because of disregard to the condition of the vehicle and the personal well being of the  driver, which should not be the case.

Provincial police director Senior Supt. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. said accidents can be prevented, if the driver will regularly look and give attention to the three questions posed on him, which he will see as soon as he seats behind the wheel.

Azurin said Oplan Ligtas Biyahe was conceptualized because of the high number of deaths and injuries due to vehicular accidents which were recorded in 2014.

Statistics show in 2014, there were 2,763 vehicular accidents in Cordillera with 126 deaths and 1,210  injuries to persons not to mention damage to property.

Benguet records the most number of accidents happening on roads within its jurisdiction with 1,367, having 22 deaths involving private vehicles and PUVs.

It was learned that the most common cause of accidents were human error, mechanical defect in vehicle and the condition of the road.

“I plead to the officials of the associations to designate a person who will check on the driver and the vehicle before allowing it to travel, especially if it is a long trip,” Fongwan said,


He also asked that round trips on the same day be prevented and avoid travelling at fast speed on the mountain roads.

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Ex-mayor’s aide gunned down



BUGALLON, Pangasinan – A caretaker of a poultry farm owned by a former mayor was shot dead by suspected robbers who escaped with P70,000 in cash here in Barangay Salomague Jan. 16.

Mark Garcia, 42, of Barangay Maambal, Pozorrubio town, was declared dead on arrival at the Lingayen District Hospital due to a gunshot wound in the chest.

Garcia was an employee of former Binmaley mayor Lorenzo Cerezo.

Investigator showed that Garcia and his wife Nelda were asleep in a bunkhouse at the poultry farm when three unidentified men barged in. One of the men shot the victim.


 Police said Nelda tried to scream but the suspects poked a gun at her and asked for the money entrusted to them by the mayor.

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P20 million PNP hostel opens in Cabanatuan


CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija—Chief Supt. Ronald Santos, Police Regional Office-3 officer in charge commended the initiative of Gov. Aurelio Umali for construction of Philippine National Police) three-story hostel worth P20-million inside the Nueva Ecija Police Provincial Office.

“I thank the local government of Nueva Ecija under Gov. Umali for initiating the project out of their funds to provide a structure for the NEPPO. We encourage the others to also come up with their own ideas that will benefit their own policemen,” said Santos in a speech he delivered during the turnover ceremony that coincided with the inauguration of the facility here.

“With the new hostel, NEPPO will no longer rent a hotel or find other venues to hold their activities or important gatherings. Mas makakatipid na rin sila ngayon,” he added.


Senior Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, Nueva Ecija PPO director, said the PNP-NEPPO hostel can accommodate at least 100 people. It is furnished with television sets, wifi, air condition, beds, chairs and tables, among others. – Franco Regala

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Tax court stops garnishment of Pangasinan electric coop



URDANETA CIT, – The Court of Tax Appeals has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the garnishment of properties of the Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (Panelco) III to pay for its tax liabilities.

Nasrollah Conding, revenue district officer of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Office 6, said they received a copy of the TRO on Dec. 22, 2014.

Conding said Panelco III owes the government P400 million in unpaid taxes from 2009 and 2010. He said the BIR only got more than P100 million when it garnished Panelco’s bank account. 

“That’s why we proceeded with the administrative remedy of collecting taxes through Panelco III’s real properties,” Conding said.   

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, during her visit to the BIR regional office in Calasiao, Pangasinan last month, stressed the need for the electric cooperative to pay its tax arrears.

Henares said Panelco III collected the amount from its consumers, but did not remit it to the BIR. “So we need to get the amount collected,” she said. 

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Taiwanese smugglers’ port escape in Ilocos investigated


CURRIMAO, Ilocos Norte – The crew of a Taiwanese fishing vessel held for smuggling over 2,000 boxes of branded cigarettes last November slipped out of the sea port here June 16.

Town police chief Senior Inspector Ryan Retotar ordered an investigation of the incident involving the boat’s captain, Chen Yonji Ji, and his six crew members.

Retotar said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) discovered the incident at around 3 a.m.

The vessel and its crewmembers have been in the custody of the Bureau of Customs since November after a warrant of seizure and detention was issued against them.

The PCG seized the vessel for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country cigarettes from Europe and China.

The boxes of cigarettes, allegedly consigned to Bumijaya Enterprises, were wrapped in garbage bags.

Authorities are still investigating the incident.

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P1.5 billion allotted for Kalinga infra projects


TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- This province will get from the national budget P1.5 billion worth of infrastructure projects in 2015 through the initiative of Rep. Manuel Agyao, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways- Kalinga District Engineering Office.

Engineer Theodoro Owek, KDEO chief of construction,  said fund allocation for Kalinga includes regular projects worth P50 million and below which KDEO implements   and regional projects worth above P50 million implemented by the  regional DPWH office.

The bulk of the allocation will go to the concrete pavement of primary roads with the Kalinga-Abra national highway getting the lion share of more than P370 million to complete   up to the boundary.

Other allocations will go to the Tabuk-Tanudan road – P300M; Calagdao–Bulo road - P120M; Bulanao-Paracelis road – P112M; Lubuagan-Batong Buhay road – P100M; continuation of Bulanao 6-lane road – P73M; Bagbag-Kinama-San Francisco road – P50M, and Bulo-Malalao  road– P50M.

Owek said this also includes two tourism infrastructure projects, concreting  of the  Pullekak-Naneng road (P27M) and Tomiangan road going to the starting  point of the white water rafting (P10M).

Meanwhile,  KDEO district engineer Ireneo Gallato  said they have completed all their 2014 regular projects except for Kagutungan and Baay bridges along Pinukpuk-Balbalan road.

He said they are on track to complete the pavement of primary roads this  year as mandated by President Aquino.

“Of the total 398 kilometers of national road network under the jurisdiction of KDEO, we also target to concrete 80 percent of secondary roads until 2016,” he added. -- Peter Balocnit

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Good harvest festival draws revelers to Nueva Ecija town



GABALDON, Nueva Ecija — “It’s another milestone to make this town as the next top tourist destination in Central Luzon,” said Carolina Uy provincial tourism officer during the 4th Gulayan Festival held here last Wednesday.

The festival is a celebration of thanksgiving and prayers to Saint Paul de Apostle. The locals believe that he will bless the town with more produce of vegetables as farming is their main source of living. This has been an annual event since 2012.

This year’s festival started early in the morning with a creative float parade wherein hand tractors decorated with vegetables, fruits and artistic crafts made through the efforts of barangay leaders followed by street dancing competition of 18 different elementary schools here

Mayor Rolando Bue said the festival will add attraction to the tourists and onlookers. The town is known for its crystal clear Dupinga River and Falls, surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountain trails.

A total of 500 street dancers participated in the events.

Vice Governor Jose Gay Padiernos as the guest of honor who also joins the parade said the event showcase the creativity, talent and faith that worth to be witness by more people. He gave P30,000 as additional prizes for the street dancers.

Tagumpay Elementary School, a three-time winner on consecutive years, won the street dancing competition, with Kalabasa Elementary School and Bagting Elementary School as second and third places, respectively.


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Farmer shot dead in Lingayen
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Philippines – A farmer was killed in an attack by an unidentified assailant in Barangay Balococ here June 15.

Jesus Sison, 63, died from gunshot wounds in the head, neck and shoulder, according to reports submitted to the provincial police.

Investigation said Sison was gathering firewood near the Agno River when he was killed. He was declared dead on arrival at the Jesus Nazarene Hospital here.

The victim’s son Windy, who was fishing in the river, said he heard gunfire and was shocked to find his father bloodied.

Police recovered three bullet shells for a Cal .45 pistol at the scene. – Cesar Ramirez 

Rules set for volunteers during Panagbenga fest 
BAGUIO CITY – The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. issued last week behavioral guidelines for volunteers who want to help during Baguio Flower Festival here.

In a press conference, the foundation stressed the behavioral guidelines will ensure volunteers will act professionally.
Volunteers are mandated to behave appropriately at all times since they will be exposed to different people with varied cultures and attitudes.

Always respect the people watching the events, a guideline stipulated .
Swearing in any language is prohibited.

Volunteers who cannot work on agreed volunteer shift should let the organization know immediately.

Volunteers are not allowed to perform professional service for which certification or license is required unless currently certified, insured and licensed to do so.

Short skirts above the knee, showing midriff, cleavage or bra is also not permitted stating that volunteers should dress properly.

Volunteers are barred from discriminating people on account of race, gender, disability or others.
Violence in any form to include intimidation, threat, hostile behavior whether verbal or physical is prohibited.
All are advised to practice good personal hygiene during the duration of their volunteer work. – Paul Rillorta

Tanudan district hospital funds, construction set
TANUDAN, Kalinga -- The aspiration of folks here to have their own hospital   nears realization with  recent groundbreaking  at Banagao, Poblacion, Mangali.

Gov. Jocel Baac, Vice Gov. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, mayors Johnwell Tiggangay of Tanudan, Ferdinand Tubban of Tabuk City, and James Edduba of Pasil, national and provincial heads of offices attended the ceremony.

The Tanudan District Hospital  starts  construction  with  initial funding of P5 million  from the Department of Health.

Baac said the provincial government will provide another P5 million for construction of the hospital.

During media forum after groundbreaking, people of Tanudan were assured by officials of development assistance from national agencies and the provincial government.

Baac also pledged P5 million for road opening from Banagao to Mangali,  and maintenance of Dalnacan-Anggacan Road.

Kalinga District Engineer Ireneo Gallato said Department of Public Works and Highways   allotted P300 million for concreting of 10 kilometers of gaps along the Magabbangon-Se-et section of the Tabuk-Tanudan road.

Also inaugurated during the occasion  was  the new  municipal police station. -- Peter Balocnit

Mt Province gov’t allots P3.5M for CARAA meet
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The provincial government of Mountain Province allotted P3.5 million for the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) meet on Feb. 7-12 in Baguio City.

This amount, plus a Dept. of Education share of P362,000 and municipal share of P400,000 would be included in budget of provincial delegates with a total of P4, 262,000.

According to provincial sports development officer, Arnaldo Petten,  P1.14 million is used in training athletes. Petten said the training for this year will be done per event and training period will be longer as agreed during the meeting of coaches, trainers and persons involved.

DepEd sports officials also said provincial athletes are  prepared to compete in billiards, wushu, wrestling and footsal.

As agreed during provincial school board meeting, training of athletes started Jan. 17 and will end on Jan. 30 with training venues in Bontoc for most of the events. Other venues of training will be done in Guinzadan, Bauko for athletics, Sagada for baseball, Besao for softball, Natonin for volleyball – elementary, Tadian for gymnastics and Tabuk City for swimming.

Petten said reason why swimming delegates will be conducting the training in Tabuk City is that  they have a standard swimming pool in the place measuring 25 meters width and 50 meters length. Also, there are only two teams training in the area giving delegates more time to prepare.

Most of budget will go to uniforms, meals and snacks, vitamins and medicines, transportation and fare, insurance and contingency expenditures of the delegates.

Gov. Leonard Mayaen said with these preparations by DepEd in partnership with the provincial government and local government units, performance of athletes will improve including ranking. -- Erwin Batnag and Alpine Killa

Repair of Vizcaya farm-to-market roads slated
AMBAGUIO, Nueva Vizcaya - More than P1 million worth of farm-to-market roads in Ambaguio town in Nueva Vizcaya will be repaired to help hasten transport of agricultural products.

The Department of Agrarian Reform said it would help rehabilitate the roads as provided under an agreement it signed with the municipal government of Ambaguio.          

DAR–Cagayan regional director Marjorie Ayson said the agency would shoulder P1 million of the total rehabilitation cost while the municipal government would shoulder the remaining P112,000 and other expenses.

Ayson said the project includes the improvement of Poblacion-Ammoweng-Nappo farm-to-market-road, which is expected to bring economic benefits to the municipality.

“This road will bring development in the far-flung areas of Ambaguio and benefits to our farmers,” she said. 

Run and Zumba set for Balili River set
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Fun run aficionados, Zumba enthusiasts, and  interested individuals and groups or agencies in Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba and Tublay around are invited to a fund-raising event for Balili River on Jan. 31 with gun start at Teachers Camp, Bell Church Area and at the Benguet State University  grounds.

Assembly time for 7-km run is at 4 a.m. at Teacher’s Camp basketball court, while the 3-km run assembly is at 4:15 a.m. at the Bell Church area, km. 3. A short program and orientation precedes the gun start in the two venues.

The funds raised shall be for research on  Balili River System and other rehabilitation activities of the Balili River System Revitalization Coalition.

Rsearches were presented last year during launching ceremonies at University of the Philippines Baguio campus. Hard-pressed for funds, environmentalists hosted  fun run.   

The run route: Teachers Camp near parking area-M. Roxas st.-Brookside-Trancoville-Pines Hospital-Bell Church-Benguet State University grounds.    

The Zumba routine starts at 5 a.m. at the BSU grounds, which is optional for the fun run participants. Zumba enthusiasts are welcome to join the routine only. 

Registration fees for both events are pegged at P200 for students and P300 for adults. Certificates will be given while commemorative t-shirts will only be available for those who register until Jan. 285 only.

Registration sites are at  City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Hall c/o engineer Vicky Ferrer or Vilma Valdez; Lapera Bldg, Session road c/o Ms. Che Alberto; Environmental Management Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office, Gibraltar Road, Baguio City c/o engineer Raul Cubangay.

In La Trinidad, registration is accepted at the Mayor’s Office c/o Arthur Pedro or Lester Madino; BSU Biology Department, College of Arts and Sciences, or OVPRE Admin. Bldg c/o Dr. Aurea Marie Sandoval, and La Trinidad Water District, Km. 5, La Trinidad c/o Eng. Edgar Mananig.

Bank transfers for corporate or agency payments could be posted at University of the Philippines College Baguio Educational Foundation (Savings Account # 0510-004420-030).

As there will be no on-site registration, the last day for registration/confirmation is on Jan. 28, 2015.

Medical clearance for participants was recommended.  – Julie G. Fianza 

NGO gives 150 pigs to 4Ps families in Kalinga
PINUKPUK, Kalinga -- One hundred fifty pigs were passed-on by the International Association for Transformationto poor families in four barangays of this municipality.

Sison Paut, executive director of IAT, informed that the animal dispersal provided by Heifer Philippines is part of the original placement or distribution to first batch of recipients numbering to 500 families.

Beneficiary barangays are Cawagayan, Mapaco, Camalog or the so-called CAMACAM cluster barangays, and Apatan. 100 pigs were distributed to CAMACAM and 50 in Apatan, Paut said.

These recipient families belong to the poorest sector identified under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps. “Through IAT’s project: Raising income of conditional cash transfer families for sustainable agri-business or RICSA, we have still 350 4Ps families to assist out of the 500 target for the original placement,” he said.

IAT, the conduit of the dispersal  program targets on the long-run to benefit 2,000 families. This will be done through pass-on of offspring to other 4Ps families in the same barangay or neighboring others, Paut said.

Under partnership with Heifer Philippines,  IAT and Department of Social Welfare and Development, the plan is to provide two pigs to each of the beneficiary-families, one from  Heifer and P10,000.00  loan from DSWD  to each family to purchase another pig.  However, the DSW has not released yet the financial loan to purchase the other pig,” Paut said. -- Peter Balocnit

2 P’sinan hospital workers suspended for dishonesty
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Two employees of a municipal hospital here have been suspended for alleged dishonesty, grave misconduct and abuse of authority.

Administrative assistant Jessie Fabia and pharmacy aide Richell Fernandez, both of the Manaoag Community Hospital in Manaoag town, were ordered suspended by Gov. Amado Espino effective Jan. 15.

Fabia and Fernandez were accused of doctoring hospital bills, based on a complaint filed by a patient.

In a letter dated Jan. 2, the complainant told Espino she was charged P4,000 for her confinement from Aug. 16 to 20 last year.

The patient said the bill originally amounted to P8,000 despite her being classified under the C3 and D of the provincial government’s health care program.

The point-of-care program, which was implemented last year in all state hospitals, provides free hospital charges to indigents under the C3 and D category. 

The complainant’s sister said the bill was reportedly reduced to P4,000 by Fernandez upon Fabia’s instruction. She said they did not contest the charges as they were immediately issued a discharge form.

However, records show that the hospital remitted only P81 to the provincial treasurer’s office. 

Deputy provincial health officer Jeremy Rosario said the charges against the two hospital employees would serve as a warning to all hospital and provincial personnel against committing any offense against the government. – Eva Visperas 

Measles cases in Cordillera increase
BAGUIO CITY – More cases of confirmed measles in 2014 in the Cordillera region were noted in a Department of Health surveillance report released last week. The report spanning 52 weeks was noted and approved by DOH OIC director Amelita Pangilinan and regional director Valeriano Jesus Lopez, respectively; as culled from provincial and city epidemiology surveillance units.

The region had 75 cases in 2013 with one death, it was known; while 2014 saw 182 cases with also one death, thus a 143% increase.

From the 667 laboratory specimen examined, there are 182 confirmed cases, 92 negative results, and 393 pending cases needing confirmation, it was seen from the report.

Of the confirmed cases, 53 or 29% were vaccinated; 52 or 28.6%, unknown; and 77 or 42% were unvaccinated.        

Abra had three confirmed cases, one each in San Juan, San Quintin and Tubo, with several pending cases; Apayao with 16 cases, in Flora, Pudtol, and Sta. Marcela; Benguet had 67 cases, spread over La Trinidad, Itogon, Tuba, Tublay, Bakun, Kibungan, Buguias, Kabayan, Bokod and Sablan, 10 of its 13 municipalities.

Ifugao had 23 cases in Aguinaldo, Lagawe, Lamut, Kiangan, Alfonso Lista, Banaue, Hingyon and Hungduan; Kalinga with 28 cases, in Tabuk City, Tanudan and Pinukpuk, while Mt. Province had 2 cases in Bontoc and Natonin.

Baguio had 43 measles cases in 23 barangays, with one death.

In the report, it was noted that the youngest case was at 9 months old, the oldest at 65; while most cases occurred at one to four years of age, the least number of cases at 5 to 9 years of age.         
           
Influenza-like illness in the region also increased 30%; from 9,976 in 2013 to 12,972 to 2014; a 225% increase in Malaria, from 4 in 2013 and 13 in 2014. A 50% increase in Rabies was also noted, from 2 to 3 cases; and from 3 to 4 cases in Meningococcal suspect, a 33% increase.
         
Other illnesses; flaccid paralysis, acute viral hepatitis, adverse events following immunization, bacterial meningitis suspect, hand foot and mouth disease suspects, leptospirosis suspects, non-neonatal tetanus, acute bloody diarrhea, dengue and typhoid fever suspects registered decrease with no clustering of cases.  – Julie G. Fianza    

Nutrition-friendly Ifugao school canteen winners cited
LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The Hungduan  Central School and Bolog Elementary School in Kiangan town were declared “Best nutrition-friendly school canteens for school year 2014–2015.

According to the Provincial Nutrition Council, HCS was declared winner for central schools category while Kiangan and Mayoyao Central Schools placed second and third respectively.

The BES topped the elementary schools category followed by Hapao Elementary School in Hungduan  and Balangbang Elementary School in Mayoyao.

First placers received P4,000 each while P2,000 and P1,500 for second and third placers, respectively.

The Search for Nutrition Friendly School Canteen is one of local initiatives of the provincial government conducted yearly in central and elementary schools in the province to ensure safe and nutritious snacks in school canteens.

It aims to advocate nutrition guidelines for Filipinos and promote indigenous, native delicacies with high nutritive value aware on their importance as compared against junk foods.

The search is also intended to promote environment providing information and education to the pupils and guiding them to maintain an ideal normal weight. --  Marcelo Lihgawon

Baguio City budget pegged at P1.5B
BAGUIO CITY – The city council last week approved income statement of the proposed city budget pegging the amount at P1,501,510,000.

Majority of the councilors gave the green light on account of allowing continuity of the city’s projects and services which face disruption if the city will continue to operate on a reenacted financial plan because of the absence of a new budget.

Four aldermen abstained from voting insisting on their position to increase the income component to accommodate other priority projects.

The approved income statement is broken down as follows: beginning balance -- P160,000,000; tax revenue -- P374,450,000; non-tax revenue – P194,280,000; and external sources – P772,780,000.

With the approval of the income component, the body will begin reviewing the expenditure aspect with budget deliberations set on the scrutiny of the proposed budgets of each of the 28 departments under the city government starting tomorrow, Monday.

The aldermen will also review the list of projects under the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) before confirming the same.

The aldermen earlier haggled with the local finance committee for the increase in the income statement particularly the beginning balance to accommodate other projects but the committee said the amount was already maximized.

Councilor Faustino Olowan who abstained from voting said the body needed time to look into the city’s financial records to ascertain the fiscal condition and determine if there are other funds to tap for the additional projects.

But Councilor Peter Fianza pushed for the approval of the income to avoid disruption in the delivery of services to the public.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda also cited the commitment from Mayor Mauricio Domogan and city budget officer and LFC head Leticia Clemente that additional projects will just be accommodated in a supplemental budget to be put up in March.

The mayor last week cautioned against overestimating the city’s income for the year and insisted on a realistic figure or projections that are based on factual data.

The proposed 2015 budget is higher by P61,928,000 than last year’s budget of P1,439,582,000.

The proposed expenses to cover the cost of delivery of basic services are distributed as follows: P536,610,000 for personal services; P608,025,000 for maintenance and other operating expenses; P109,143,000 for capital outlay; P67,076,000 for Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund and P180,656,000 for development fund. – Aileen Refuerzo

MECO vows support to separate conjoined twins from Pangasinan
URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan — The Manila Economic and Cultural Office said it is now  gathering information so that it could provide assistance to the family of the conjoined twins of Bautista, Pangasinan and help realize their dream of having the twins physically separated for a normal life.

“We are now looking for the conjoined twins in Taiwan to know where they live and which hospital they were taken so that we can determine what other help we can provide,” MECO Chairman Amadeo Perez told media.

Perez said the MECO is coordinating with Reverend Joy Tajonera, MECO director based in Taichung in Taiwan, to check the location of the one-year-old twins Jennelyn and Jerrelyn de Guzman and their mother, Ludy.

The Taiwan Tzu Chi Foundation in the Philippines is sponsoring the separation of the twins and they are being assisted in Taiwan by the Ugnayan Migrant and Immigrant Center in Taichung County.

Perez said Tajonera, a Maryknoll priest who started the mission of the Ugnayan Center, and that the MECO wants to be part of the noble cause of providing a better future of the De Guzman twins.

“The (Taiwan Tzu Chi) foundation is well financed and has what it takes to make sure that the twins will have the best medical care and doctors in Taiwan for a successful operation,” the MECO chairman said.

He said the MECO only learned about the plight of the conjoined twins after reading about their story in a national daily last Jan. 12.

Jennelyn and Jerrelyn were born on Dec. 8, 2013 at the Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

Their father Jayson said the twins are joined in the stomach, but doctors said each of them have vital organs intact that will allow to them to live separately. --  Liezle Basa Inigo

Infomercials readied to help Baguio, Benguet tourists 
BAGUIO CITY – The city government is looking forward to plans of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. to release Infomercials for tourists and visitors coming up to the summer capital.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said, “infomercials will inform tourists proper behavior and decorum during their brief stay and would help them navigate to the different tourists spots within the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) area.

‘It’s a good way of promoting not only the city but other BLISTT areas of interests, he said. 

The idea of creating an Infomercial was announced by BFFFI Co-Chair Anthony De Leon during a press conference recently held at Baguio Country Club.

“Local artist and independent film producer Ferdie Balanag was tapped to help make the infomercial,” De Leon said.

According to De Leon, the infomercial will be a short film that will advertise city amenities and services with additional informative features that will be essential for tourist during their stay in the city.

“Mainly, the content of the infomercial would be what to expect when in Baguio, what to do in Baguio, things to remember like cleanliness, discipline and other things,” De leon said.  

Domogan said, “he would personally request public utility buses plying the city to play the infomercial for city bound passengers.”

“It would be even better if hotels can also play the infomercial for their guests,” he said.

Meantime, the city will also be installing additional informative road signs in strategic locations within the city especially in diversion roads to help motorists find their way around the city.

This after the city experienced tremendous traffic during the holidays.

“Aside from road signages, we will be requesting different volunteers and civic organizations to help man our streets during long holidays to augment our traffic personnel , other contingency measures will be discussed during the stakeholders meeting by the end of the month,” Domogan said.

Traffic has been one of the main concerns of the city now that the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union-Express Lanes (TPLEX) provided easy and faster travel to the north.

The Summer Capital is expected to be jam-packed with tourists for the month long Panagbenga Festival that could again lead to traffic grid-lock within the Central Business District (CBD) if contingency measures are not put in place. – Paul Rillorta 

Abra farmers given farm tools to boost productivity
SAN JUAN, Abra -- Farmers in this town recently received farm tools and implements to boost their livelihood.

Mayor Marco M. Bautista, who made   agriculture his priority program since he assumed office in 2008,  distributed 30 units  each of  rice threshers,  sprayers, and  blowers to the farmers in all the 19 barangays of the municipality, and  four units of hand tractors  to the various clusters  during the Farmers’ Day celebration of the town and parochial fiesta  last  Dec. 25- 27.

He also gave entrepreneurs of Barangay Supi-il a set of banana fryer and banana chipper to sustain their livelihood project.  Those engaged in chicha corn production  also received a set each of terri carp remover, food stamp peeling machine and food grade plastic sticker.

Aside from the farm tools and implements, Bautista released  to the  Federation of San Juan Farmers Associations P200,000.00 and the Balintog Farmers Association  P10,000.00 out of the local funds.The Department of Agriculture also gave support funds to irrigators associations. The Malanas Left Irrigation Association received  P89,600;  the Malanas Right Irrigation Association P76,800 and Daoidao-Sabangan Farmers Association fund of P51,200.00.

Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin, meanwhile gave 100 mango seedlings  and distributed the 100 sacks of organic fertilizer Cynthia Villar Foundation gave through Ms Josephine Flores of the Provincial Cooperative Development Office.

In same occasion, Bautista awarded the outstanding farmers including the winning entries in the “Pinaka” in livestock and crop production including dogs as pets .

Bautista believes that with the economy set in place, development in every aspect of the social well-being of the people will follow. -- Maria Teresa Benas

Vigan City holds Longanisa Festival
VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur — Artistically-designed floats made of agricultural products and materials were paraded along the streets here last week to highlight Longganisa Festival and city’s annual fiesta.

The festivity will end today.

The 27 agri-crop-inspired floats decorated atop the trailers of hand tractors competed for the “best float award.” The opening day parade was capped with Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina turning over 22 brand new hand tractors, four water pumps and a rice thresher to the farmers’ organizations in all farming barangays. -- Freddie G. Lazaro

DOH hires 6 nurses, 25 midwives for Kalinga
TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The Department of Health is hiring new batches of nurses and midwives  to  work in the  communities.

Dr. Bernadette Andaya of the Center for Health Development here said six nurses will sign up  for six months from January to July 2015. 

Some 25 midwives will also be appointed to  work for six  months  with their contracts  renewable based on evaluation and assessment of their performance and work behavior.

According to Andaya, hiring of nurses under the Nurse Deployment Program of  the government and midwives is part of government’s effort to bring closer health services to the rural areas.

The midwives have been identified by the DOH to serve as the link between health service delivery and the community in the reduction of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. -- Peter Balocnit

20k trees planted in baguio survive 
BAGUIO CITY – Survival rate for the 24,404 trees planted in 2014 by city officials and employees, religious groups, institutions, barangays, national agencies, non-government organizations, private companies and individuals, was pegged at 85.63% or 20, 844 living trees.

This was reported by Walter Aguirre of the Forestry Division, City Environment and Parks Management Office, during Alay Sa Kalinisan (ASK) meeting last week.

The 14.37% seedling death is attributed to interaction with uncontrolled weed growth, moderate change in weather conditions, fire, and intentional pruning by unconcerned individuals, he said.

Ring weeding and constant care for the trees, is recommended during off-planting season, Aguirre stated in his report.    

Tree survival surpassed target number of 14,220 trees planted, as members of the community planted in available spaces including the Forbes Forest Reservation, Busol and barangay watersheds, Bayan Park, and Botanical garden.

These areas were cleared and prepared by CEPMO employees, to ascertain greater survival for the seedlings.

A city ordinance also mandates building permit applicants to plant trees either in private lots, residences or identified spaces, which added to the efforts to regreen treeless areas.

According to Aguirre, as planting season ended October 2014, preparations for the 2015 tree planting season started at Busol and Botanical Garden nurseries.

Collection of seeds and topsoil, sowing, potting and repotting of seedlings and maintenance of the plants were among activities, he said.       

Among the seedlings prepared and available at the nurseries are Benguet Pine, Cypress, African Tulip, Citrus, Coffee, Eugenia, Camphor, Callandra, Yellow Shower, Mahogany, Guava, and Bottle Brush. Some seedlings are produced and nurtured at the two nurseries, while others are from the 2013 stock, and some are purchased. The seedlings from 2014 shall be added to 2015 stocks for this coming tree-planting season.

Tree planting is part of activities of National Greening Program, which is directed by local government units, including the city, the report stated.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan, who presided over the ASK meeting, upon hearing the report, requested the Forestry to coordinate with the Environmental Management Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB
DENR) to identify more “plantable” areas in the city.

The ASK meetings being done at least thrice a week, deals with city matters; as to peace and order, health and cleanliness, market, forestry and re-greening, anti-smoke belching, air quality, anti-graffiti, and information dissemination. – Julie G. Fianza



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