Illicit acts about IPMR, building permits, jueteng

>> Sunday, July 16, 2017

March L. Fianza

Eight months and four days after the selection of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative to the Baguio City council, a certificate of affirmation is yet to be signed by the regional director of the NCIP.
The reason why it is taking him so long to sign even after the Baguio NCIP office and a special review body he created upheld the selection process is anybody’s guess now. Exchanges of communication letters that I saw did not help resolve whatever problems there were, instead, they seemed to have worsened the situation.
First, in an attempt to find out the sentiments of IPMR-elect Roger D. Sinot Sr., he received a letter of invitation from Atty. Moises P. Cating, the Chairman for Life of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio Inc. Surprisingly, the NCIP asked a private person to intervene and chair a body that will try to resolve matters related to IPMR issues.
It further confuses me to think of the correctness or wrongness of authorizing Atty. Cating. Later, it is found out that his son is interested to replace Mr. Sinot who has not been disqualified. To me, that makes Atty. Cating very partial as presiding chair of a meeting.
Second, the private organization Onjon ni Ivadoy illegally used the letterhead of the NCIP to invite Mr. Sinot to a meeting at the Baguio City multi-purpose hall, a venue that is not neutral.
The use of the NCIP letterhead was careless and whatever basis was employed in authorizing Onjon ni Ivadoy to invite Mr. Sinot was questionable since members of the committee that tasked itself to settle the IPMR issue had already prejudged Mr. Sinot even prior to explaining himself.
In fact the signatory in the invitation letter is also a signatory in the original letter-complaint against Mr. Sinot. Furthermore, some members of the committee had stated their interest to become IPMR. Don’t these situations make them biased against Mr. Sinot?
Councilor Edgar Avila has proposed an ordinance to provide amnesty for the requirements in the issuance of building permits for those in actual, physical and notorious possession of lands in the city. That is music to the ears of many Baguio residents and good for the city as well because of the revenues. However, there are suggestions that the land where a structure with no building permit stands must be covered by a Tax Declaration, and an approved TSA or approved survey. Without these, the ordinance will surely invite squatting. Amnesty may also be applied for buildings outside civil, military, forest reservations and ancestral lands.
It appears that politicians are now interfering with the duties reserved for the DENR as the caretaker and administrator of state lands. The reason why the Bureau of Lands is there is to keep politicians away from interfering with land issues. LGUs cannot issue building permits unless the DENR gives provisional permits. This was so in order to keep elected officials from politicizing public lands.  
When illegal actions are unstoppable, more or less these are carried out by persons with authority. Although that may be the case, it does not necessarily follow that the “person with authority” acted with the blessings of a higher boss. In another sense, it may be that the action of one person in authority was not stopped but that does not mean that it was or was not lawfully authorized.
Take for example the issue about Jueteng cum STL (small town lottery). Out of the blue, the operations of jueteng in combination with STL suddenly appeared in La Trinidad. I chanced upon councilor Henry Kipas who told me about it. This was confirmed by friends and tayadors who said the bet collectors of jueteng in the capital town of Benguet were the same bet collectors for STL. The difference is that, with STL the bet collectors were provided uniforms and may no longer move and collect incognito.
The question now is: Who authorized the illegal to appear legal? I am sure councilor Kipas and his colleagues in the municipal council will ask the same question. The next question is: Can it be stopped? Or, who can stop it? Of course, jueteng and STL can be stopped if the town’s officials do not want it to operate. And even while the officials want it to operate because of the revenues that gambling contributes, any police authority from PNP chief Bato dela Rosa down to RD Elmo Francis Oco Sarona to COP Macliing should not allow it because it is illegal. Ironically, illegal gambling is not authorized but for obvious reasons, it is not being stopped.
In Baguio, it has been a long holiday season for our police and illegal gambling operators since Bato and President Duterte were busy fighting the Maute terrorists in Marawi. I honestly believed in the pronouncement of Bato and President Duterte that after shooting it out with drug dealers, they will start running after illegal gambling operators. But the opposite is happening in Baguio. Illegal gambling operators do not see eye to eye especially in Kayang because one operator was asked to stop while a rival got the blessings of the police.

A friend from the PNP told me that sometimes he felt like puking, knowing that the boss sided with Toyoy while he eliminated Nardo. And so, unstoppable operations carry on along Kayang which is very near the office of the COP. I also gathered that no less than the highest ranked person in Camp Dangwa is knowledgeable with what is going on in his area of responsibility. That is a given but as I said, gambling is not allowed but the police do not stop it.          


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