Manual voting in 2022?

>> Thursday, October 14, 2021


With five months to go before the deadline, some constituents of this republic are proposing manual voting during the May 2022 elections to lessen fraud in counting of votes. Some are not convinced of the integrity of voting machines like that of what they call Smartmagic. They are afraid of brownouts intended to derail the elections.
    This, as the Commission on Elections is trying to reach its goal of registering approximately four million new voters for the 2022 polls. As of April 20, Comelec records showed 2,770,561 new voters have registered to participate in the May 2022 general elections.
    At stake in the polls are positions from the presidency to the legislature and to the lowest rungs of local government. Aside from other problems, preparations for this major electoral exercise are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
    The nation cannot afford to postpone the polls. Political observers say a no-election scenario or no-el would be extremely destabilizing and can only worsen the economic recession the country is going through due to Covid-19. With the uncertainties, the goal of HOPE remains: honest, orderly and peaceful elections.
    HOPE has always been a challenge even in previous elections. It will be even more so as the nation is preoccupied with balancing lives and livelihoods in the battle against Covid.
    Purging existing voters’ lists is going to be tough amid the pandemic restrictions nationwide. The registration of new voters is one of many steps along the way to ensuring the credibility of the 2022 vote.
    The Comelec still has to finalize its choice of voting machines, ensure that all are in good running order, and then put them through several test runs to iron out glitches.
    Although stymied by Supreme Court decisions, the Comelec should regulate campaign contributions and spending, and rationalize the party-list system so that it truly works for marginalized sectors.
    The Comelec, observers say, should study rules on campaigning in the time of Covid and using social media. It must draw up parameters on the use of government resources for personal campaigns. Security forces need more effort to prevent candidates from using murder as the ultimate tool for ensuring their victory at the polls.
    Election campaigns in this country often turn into shameless, underhanded, violent free-for-alls. The pandemic and rigged voting machines must not make the 2022 race even more so. Manual elections anyone?


NEA supervisor out from Beneco/PMA assailed for fencing out folks to homes


Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – At least for now, member-consumers of the Benguet Electric Cooperative can heave a little sigh of relief after the project supervisor appointed by the National Electrification Administration to manage Beneco was ordered transferred to the Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (Panelco) 1.
    NEA officer-in-charge Rosas So Rosero-Lee, in a letter dated Sept. 27, 2021 ordered lawyer Omar Mayo to supervise instead management of operations of Panelco 1.
    Rosero-Lee issued office order no. 2021-1117 series of 2021 saying this was in “consultation with NEA departments to approve or disapprove EC board resolutions.”
    Rosero-Lee ordered Mayo to “sign/countersign checks, slips and other transactions for and in behalf of the EC with all banks where Panelco 1 has any account. All expenses to be incurred in the performance of his duties shall be charged against the proper funds of this office subject to the usual accounts, audits, rules and regulations.”
    Reports have it the purported general manager of Beneco appointed by the NEA board of administrators tried to do it with a wayward Beneco member of the board of directors. They reportedly talked with Baguio banks the Beneco had accounts with and tried to freeze the money.
    MCOs said it would have been a disaster if they would have been able to do it if not for the timely intervention of Beneco management under general manager Melchor Licoben whose appointment as GM by the Beneco Board of directors was ratified by member consumers during their annual general assembly (AGMA) on Oct. 2.
(Please see page 1 and 12 for related articles on the Beneco controversy).
    As things stand now, Beneco operations are reportedly going on smoothly under the management of Licoben.
    What the Beneco needs now, according to MCOs, is for the NEA to stop meddling in affairs of the EC, work within its mandate and not overreach from its functions like in the “appointment” of a GM which created the whole mess in the first place.          
    Meanwhile, MCOs are wondering what the NEA-appointed GM is doing after having rented a space at the YMCA as her office. This is where the four Beneco directors, who were “removed” from their posts as directors by MCOs during the AGMA reportedly go now to hold their so-called group meetings.     
Fearing they will be displaced, residents at Purok Ongasan, Loakan here sought the help of the city government saying the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was constructing a perimeter fence which will prevent them from going to their homes.
    Following this, the city council on Monday passed a resolution calling on PMA to discontinue its perimeter fencing project at Ongasan, Loakan saying it affected 150 families, according to a report by Jordan G. Habbiling, staff of the city council.  
Reynaldo Calaycay, president of Bontoc Organization of Purok Ongasan Loakan Inc., reportedly urged stop to fencing saying it will enclose lots occupied by residents.
    The concrete fence to be built will block the entrance and exit of residents and will eventually displace them from their homes, they said.
    The lot in question is covered by Proclamation No. 2405, Series of 1985 which declared certain portions of land of the public domain situated in Fort Gregorio Del Pilar as a military reservation subject to private rights, if any there be. 
The entire reservation covers an area of some 3,731,399 square meters while the residential lot covers 29, 631 square meters.
    Calaycay said the said area had been occupied by their forefathers since World War II and prior to the establishment of PMA. 
    He said the organization tried reaching out to PMA for a dialogue several times but the latter never replied to their request.
    They said they have been seeking the help of the city government for the segregation of their lot from the operation of Proclamation No. 2405. 
    The members and officers of the Bontoc Organization of Purok Ongasan Loakan Inc. requested for segregation survey of said parcel of land. 
    In 2017, the pre-proclamation committee chaired by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) favorably recommended the segregation of the lot and the issuance of a presidential proclamation covering the said lot for housing purposes. 
    The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) granted authority for segregation survey over the area.
    A segregation plan for the said area was prepared and issued by the Land Management Services of the DENR-CAR. 
In 2020, the city council passed a resolution approving the said segregation survey.
    Councilor Fred Bagbagen, chairperson of the city council’s committee on urban planning, lands, and housing, said the city government must urgently act on the matter in favor of the residents.
    Bagbagen said the impending displacement of the residents without due process was a violation of the citizens’ constitutional rights.
    Representatives of PMA failed to attend the forum.
    They were invited again in next Monday’s regular session to explain their side of the story.


The advent of Pax Pacifica


Perry Diaz

On September 15, 2021, US President Joe Biden together with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the formation of AUSUK --- a defense and security partnership between Australia, the US, and the UK -- which “will protect and defend shared interests in the Indo-Pacific.”  AUSUK had been in the works secretly for 18 months.
    AUSUK’s primary aim is to block China at sea.  However, in all honesty, it is intended to stop China from encroaching into the South China Sea, which is delineated by the First Island Chain that stretches from Japan by way of Taiwan, the Philippines, Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.  It will turn Australia into a base for a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and increase information sharing among Australia’s allies.
    The first initiative under AUSUK will be the creation of nuclear-powered submarine technology for the Royal Australian Navy.  For starters, eight nuclear-powered submarines are planned.  In addition, the pact also covers the sharing of cyber warfare and other diverse undersea technologies.
US long-term strategy
On geopolitical terms, AUSUK would strengthen the US long-term strategy to contain China using Australia as a proxy.  With a fleet of nuclear submarines prowling the depths of the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Australia’s naval power would supplement America’s naval supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region.   
    AUSUK would supplement the Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA), which was established 50 years ago to enhance bilateral defense relationships and mutual cooperation between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK.  It’s noteworthy to mention that they’re all Commonwealth members and once were part of the British Empire. 
And with AUSUK now part of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical calculus, it brings the alliance under America’s nuclear umbrella or to be more precise, underwater nuclear deterrence.  With Australia becoming a nuclear submarine power, it adds strength and breadth to America’s worldwide network of military alliances that now encompass the entire Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
Pine Gap
Australia is also the site of Joint Defense Facility Pine Gap (JDFPG), which plays a key role in providing information for intelligence purposes, as well as for military operations, including air strikes. It is partly run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and US National Security Agency (NSA). 
    Pine Gap’s location is strategically significant because it controls U.S. spy satellites as they pass over one-third of the globe, including China, the Asian parts of Russia, and the Middle East.  In other words, once a missile is launched from any of these places, Pine Gap is instantly alerted and the missile is tracked, providing the U.S. with valuable information to intercept it.
    Since the South China Sea is within range of Pine Gap’s satellite surveillance, China’s seven bases in the artificial islands in the Spratly Archipelago are within reach of the U.S.’s cruise missiles deployed in the area and can strike any of the bases within 30 seconds. 
The Quad
Another development that has been moving fast is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (also known as the Quad (US, Australia, Japan, and India).
    In a joint statement in March 2021, "The Spirit of the Quad," the Quad members described "a shared vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” and a "rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas.”  The Quad members said they are needed to counter Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.
    Recently, South Korea applied for membership in the Quad, a move that would solidify the Quad’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.  It would be a counter-balance to China’s growing influence in the region. With South Korea and the possibility of New Zealand and Vietnam also joining the Quad, the partnership could evolve into “Quad Plus,” which could eventually emerge as the next global theater of power politics and competition.  As a result, there had been talks of building an Asian NATO with Quad at its core.  Indeed, an Asian NATO would definitely counter a militarized China.  Looking back at how NATO was formed, it was the threat of Soviet expansionism that led to its creation.  An Asian NATO could be the antidote to Chinese expansionist ambitions.
    AUSUK would be the catalyst in bringing together a strategic framework of the collective might among the US’s mutual defense alliances with Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, and Taiwan, which in effect draws the US’s first line of defense at the First Island Chain. 
ASEAN reaction
Reactions from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were mixed.  Breaking with some of its neighbors, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin welcomed the formation of AUSUK, saying“ASEAN member states, singly and collectively, do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia.”  He argued that AUSUK would address the imbalance in the forces available to the ASEAN member states.  “In that regard, we believe that the fresh enhancement of Australia’s military capacity through this trilateral security partnership would be beneficial in the long term.”
Nuclear powers
While, I don’t think it would lead to a nuclear arms race -- the US and UK are already two of the biggest nuclear powers in the world -- adding Australia to the nuclear mix would solidify America’s position because of the proximity of Australia to the South China Sea.  Besides, the US has already deployed 2,500 marines in Australia since 2011 when then President Barack Obama’s “Asia rebalance” had pivoted the US away from the Middle East towards the Pacific.
    AUSUK has made it official that Australia will be playing a key role in geopolitical matters in the Indo-Pacific.  Needless to say, America – as always – would still   be calling the shots.  But the huge Australian continent will be where the action would be.  It was announced recently that more US troops were being rotated to Australia, and missiles, air force planes, and visits by US nuclear submarines were being planned in the near future.  Australia would become an unsinkable aircraft carrier.  Heck, the US “invasion” would culminate in strong trilateral relations between Australia and its former colonizer Great Britain and future colonizer America (just kidding – “partners-in-arms” would be more appropriate).  It would also boost the economic well being of Australia whose population of 27 million is just a drop in the 2.9 million square miles of land.
    By all accounts, Australia will be the focus of the advent of Pax Pacifica (Pacifican Peace).  It will be the linchpin of AUSUK to check a rising China and put it in its proper place in a world at peace.


The 49ers of 2022


David March Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- As of my latest count Thursday, at least 49 hopefuls representing different political parties filed their respective certificate of candidacy for president. The smaller the country, the more presidentiables there are. That is in comparison to the US of A that had a presidential election last November with only four candidates qualified to appear on enough state ballots.
    But, of the 49 hopefuls, only one will win the position come Monday, May 9, 2022 which is exactly seven months from today, October 9, 2021. Of the 49, at least 35 are independent candidates. As of the last day of filing on Friday, October 8, 2021; at least 15 filed their COC for the position of vice president.
    Out of these numbers, we do not know how many will be declared as “nuisance” candidates by the Comelec. The poll body said it will receive COCs from all those who are seeking to run for any position but the documents will undergo a screening process before the printing of ballots.
    Even the COCs from people who have been declared nuisance candidates in the past will be accepted. It is because a candidate who has been declared as such in the past cannot be “nuisance” forever. This also means that a probable nuisance candidate will have a chance to defend his or her candidacy.
    But if I were given the privilege to issue a final decision, I would allow the 49’ers to go ahead campaign and may the bet with the highest number of votes win. On the outset, if a candidate personally filled up the COC form, had it notarized and everything is in order, then s/he is not a nuisance candidate. More importantly, the candidate believes that s/he can get more than one vote.
    Unfortunately, the Comelec defines “nuisance” candidates differently from mine. The poll body says, a nuisance candidate is one who files a COC without a true intention to run for office, to include persons who filed their COC to make fun of the election system, and mislead the voting public.
    In the case of the three Marcoses who filed COCs for president, namely; Tiburcio Marcos, Maria Aurora Marcos and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr; I think no one among them is misleading the other. Voters of course can differentiate one Marcos from the other by their first names. Let the best man or woman win!
    The Comelec also disapproves “premature campaigning” by those who have filed their COCs, whatever that means. First, a person who has declared his intention to run for any political position is perceived to be campaigning every time s/he is seen in public, whether s/he has filed a COC or not.
    The poll body defines campaigning as premature if the campaign period has not yet begun. But it is impossible for a candidate to stay away from the eyes of the voting public. Maybe that is why there is no law that punishes premature campaigning.
    For businessman Ericson “Tagel” Felipe, board member Jim Botiwey, former board member Sario M. Copas and incumbent vice governor Johnny Wagis who filed their COCs for vice governor in Benguet, go ahead with your fist bumps, there is no such thing as premature campaigning. Make sure too that you just promote yourselves, mentioning once in a while in your public appearances the shenanigans involving a businessman-politician from the South.


‘Asymptomatics making Covid-19 fight difficult’


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio City Health Office saidCovid-19-positive people who are asymptomatic or exhibiting no symptoms make the fight against the disease more complicated.
    Of all the categories of illness severity, it is the asymptomatic that is the scariest because they can still transmit the disease, local health experts said.
    Since they do not experience any signs, asymptomatic persons tend to be lax in their observance of the safety protocols endangering people around them.
    "It makes the battle more difficult," according to the city health experts.
    They said asymptomatic people should not neglect the ailment because apart from the fact that they are contagious, they are also prone to developing symptom at a later stage of the illness.
    "Ang spectrum ng Covid-19 na impeksyon ay walang sintomas at may sintomas.
    Sa unang lima hanggang 10 araw ang sintomas ay asymptomatic  hanggang mild symptoms lang mula nung ikaw ay nahawa. Sa pansampung araw, mararamdaman na ang hirap na paghinga, at pag baba ng oxygen level sa katawan," they explained.
    "Kaya kung walang symptoms, hindi nangangahulugang dapat nang ipagwalang bahala ang sakit sapagkat maaari ka pa ring magkaroon ng symptoms anumang oras at maaari kang makahawa ng ibang tao kung hindi mag-isolate at gagawin ang ibang pag-iingat."
    So how can an asymptomatic person know if he or she is infected and thereby protect others?
    "Have yourself tested and when the results come out, we have one advice: trust your doctors," they advised.
Self-discipline is one key to curbing the current Delta-driven spike in Covid-19 cases and to surviving the pandemic, city health officials said.
    Apart from religiously observing the minimum public health standards like the wearing of face masks, practicing good personal hygiene, physical distancing, ensuring proper ventilation and avoiding crowds, enclosed spaces and close contact conversations, people also need to practice self-restraint and do some sacrifice to stop the spread and therefore the mutation of the virus, the City Health Services Office headed by Dr. Rowena Galpo said.
    “We are in the middle of the war.  Our goal should be to survive and if we have to sacrifice some things then we should.  We can’t play with the virus.  It is its biology to mutate through and if we can’t outdo its biological function then we won’t survive as what happened to the 4.5 million who already died of the virus worldwide,” City Epidemiologist Dr. Donnabel Panes said.  
    Panes said that the common cause of clustering of cases in the city is some people’s irresponsibility.
    “In all of the case clusters that we’ve had, there is one commonality and that is there were irresponsible persons who already had symptoms but still attended gatherings like birthdays, weddings and wakes,” Panes said.
    “Our cases are not random.  ‘Pag may nag-positive, asahan mo may nag-birthday o anniversary and more will turn positive to form a cluster,” she added.
    “The common scenario is that a patient starts having symptoms but ignores it, stays without mask at home until the symptom worsens on day 5, seeks consult and undergoes testing of which result will come out on day 7.  After 2 to 3 days, he will be fetched.  All in all 9 days have passed imagine how many people you have infected at home and what more if you went out and attended a party.”
    The CHSO said residents should exercise self-restraint by abstaining if possible from attending gatherings and indoor activities or if it cannot be helped, by ensuring that social health rules are strictly observed like keeping distance when eating together as it is the time when people remove their masks and converse,
     In offices, workers should do away with their pantry and learn to eat alone or far from one another.
    “Delta is real and it is happening in the households and within offices.  Variants are real and they happen when the virus is spread from one person to another,” Panes said.
    Another reminder is if one has symptoms, he or she should inform health workers at once, go on quarantine with the assumption that it is already Covid.


Low-sodium salt prevents stroke


Dr. Dumaguing MD

Sophia Antipolis, France -- Replacing salt with a low-sodium alternative lowers the risk of stroke in people with high blood pressure or prior stroke, according to late breaking research presented in a Hot Line session at ESC Congress 20211 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine2.
    Both elevated sodium intake and low potassium intake are associated with high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.3,4 Salt substitutes, which replace part of the sodium chloride in regular salt with potassium chloride, have been shown to lower blood pressure5 but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death had been uncertain. In addition, there had been concerns about causing hyperkalemia in people with chronic kidney disease leading to cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death.
    The Salt Substitute and Stroke Study (SSaSS) compared the effect of reduced sodium salt substitute versus regular salt on stroke, cardiovascular events, mortality and clinical hyperkalaemia.6 SSaSS was an open, cluster-randomized, trial that enrolled participants between April 2014 and January 2015. Participants were adults with either previous stroke or age 60 years and above with poorly controlled blood pressure.7
    The trial was conducted in 600 villages in rural areas of five provinces in China. Two counties within each province were chosen that represented the socioeconomic development level of rural counties in that province. Approximately 35 individuals were recruited from each village – for a total of 20,995 participants. Participants were cluster-randomized by village in a 1:1 ratio to provision of salt substitute or continued use of regular salt.
    Participants in intervention villages were given free salt substitute (about 75% sodium chloride and 25% potassium chloride) as a replacement for regular salt and advised to use it for all cooking, seasoning and food preservation. They were also encouraged to use the salt replacement more sparingly than they previously used salt to maximize their sodium reduction. Sufficient salt substitute was provided to cover the needs of the entire household (about 20 g per person per day). Participants in control villages continued their usual habits.
    The average age of participants was 65.4 years and 49.5% were female. Some 72.6% had a history of stroke and 88.4% had a history of hypertension.
    During an average follow up of 4.74 years, more than 3,000 people had a stroke, more than 4,000 died and more than 5,000 had a major cardiovascular event. The risk of stroke was reduced with salt substitute compared to regular salt (29.14 versus 33.65 per 1,000 patient-years; rate ratio [RR] 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77–0.96; p=0.006) 
    Regarding safety, there was no increased risk of serious adverse events attributed to clinical hyperkalemia with salt substitute compared to regular salt (3.35 versus 3.30 per 1,000 patient years; RR 1.04; 95% CI 0.80–1.37; p=0.76). Neither were any other risks identified.
    Principal investigator Professor Bruce Neal of the George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia said: “This study provides clear evidence about an intervention that could be taken up very quickly at very low cost. A recent modelling study done for China projected that 365,000 strokes and 461,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year in China if salt substitute was proved to be effective.8 We have now showed that it is effective, and these are the benefits for China alone. Salt substitution could be used by billions more with even greater benefits.”
    He added: “The trial result is particularly exciting because salt substitution is one of the few practical ways of achieving changes in the salt people eat. Other salt reduction interventions have struggled to achieve large and sustained impact.’’
    ‘’Importantly, salt substitute is very easy to manufacture and it is not expensive. A kilo of regular salt, which lasts for months, costs about US$1.08 in China. The price for a kilo of salt substitute is $1.62/kg,’’ he said. “It is primarily lower-income and more disadvantaged populations that add large amounts of salt during food preparation and cooking.9 This means that salt substitute has the potential to reduce health inequities related to cardiovascular disease.”
    Dear readers, your favorite condiments in the supermarket and neighborhood grocery may have their low-sodium variants.
Next Week: Blood Pressure Risks of Middle-aged Women


Prayer keeps our love burning


Fr. Roy Cimagala

IF we understand that prayer is what keeps us always in contact with God who is the very essence of love, then we should realize that we indeed need to pray all the time. Prayer should not be understood merely as some spiritual exercise that we do only at certain moments of the day.
    It has to be our very life itself. Everything in our life should be an act of prayer, including our sleeping. Our very consciousness, our breathing and heartbeat should be converted into prayer.
    Obviously, we need some training for this. But it should be a training that would enable us precisely to convert everything into prayer. Even when we work, whether of the white-collar or blue-collar type of work, whether intellectual or manual, etc., we should be praying. That is to say, we should maintain our contact with God and channel what he has, his will and his ways, in all our daily affairs.
    In that way we can reflect God’s love in all the situations, circumstances, predicaments, challenges in our life, etc. This love, of course, is concretely shown to us by Christ whose life and teaching we should truly learn and assimilate. Not only is Christ showing or teaching it to us. He is giving it to us by giving his own self, especially in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, if we also understand well the significance of the sacrament.
    When we pray, we are actually assuming the very mind and heart of Christ who is the personification of prayer himself. His life was fully offered to the Father, spending it entirely in obeying the will of the Father who wants us to return to him, since we are his image and likeness that was damaged by our sin.
    In other words, we can say that we are truly praying when we would have the same sentiments of Christ. His desires, his mission, his ways of doing things, especially in loving everyone, including the enemies, his willingness to bear all our sins through his suffering and death, should also be ours.
    So, if we want to be truly in love and to keep that love burning, we need to be authentic persons of prayer. We need to be like Christ, to be “alter Christus” (another Christ) if not “ipse Christus” (Christ himself). And that is not a fantastic, baseless assertion, because that is what is truly meant for us. There is no other formula for love.
    We need to understand very well the intimate relation between praying and loving, and between our loving and becoming Christ-like. That is where true love can be found, and no other.
    We may have to do a bit of explaining for this, but I think it is all worthwhile to do so, especially these days when many people, especially the young ones, have a very deficient understanding of love.
    We have to reassure everyone that when we actually learn to truly pray, we will enjoy the ideal condition of our life, and such condition will remain so whatever the situation and circumstances of our life would be or wherever our life would lead us.
    Prayer keeps us in contact with God who will empower us to love truly. It would help us keep a right focus and sense of direction and purpose of our life.



Magalong, Go Palangdan: Beneco GM is Licoben

BAGUIO CITY -- “Why fix if ain’t broken?” “NEA, huwag na kayong makialam.” “I called on the NEA to solve the problem. Instead, it issued a preventive suspension order (PSO).” 
    The first statement came from mayor Benjamin Magalong. The second from Itogon mayor Victorio Palangdan and the third, from Baguio City Rep. Mark Go.
    The three officials took turns in decrying the growing conflict in the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) spawned by the impasse on its general manager as Melchor Licoben, an engineer, continues to hold fort as the GM in South Drive, Baguio City while rival Ana Maria Paz Rafael, a lawyer, still insists she is the GM as she has publicly announced that her office is at the YMCA, Session Road.
    The three public officials did not conceal their strong support for Licoben during Beneco’s Annual General Membership Assembly (Agma) on Oct. 2 at the Gen. Pedro Dumol Hall of Beneco’s South Drive office.
    Magalong, who is running for reelection, bewailed forces that are attempting to disturb the peace within the electric cooperative. “Walang problema sa Beneco,” he said, referring to Beneco’s reputation as one of the country’s top performing electric cooperatives.
    He called on the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators (NEA BOA) to respect the decision of Beneco’s board of directors that named and appointed Licoben as the GM.   
    He saluted the employees for their unwavering support for Licoben and told them they must hold their ground “through hell or high water.”
    Rep. Go expressed his frustration that the NEA played deaf on calls that it must resolve the controversy in Beneco immediately and peacefully. He said he was surprised that the NEA opted instead to issue a preventive suspension order against directors   Mike Maspil, Josephine Tuling, Jeffred Acop, Peter Busaing, Robert Valenin, Fr. Jonathan Obar and lawyer Esteban Somngi and GM Licoben.
    Good, he said, that during the budget hearing of the Department of Energy at the lower house, the DOE admitted that it still recognized Licoben as the GM.
    During the public hearing of the Committee  on Energy of the House of Representatives in August, Go took note of the abuse of discretion committed by the NEA Board of Administrators when it violated NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 which contained the rules the NEA promulgated itself to govern the selection of GMs.
    He said that he will look into the NEA’s charter and will move to amend those provisions that are deemed overreaching into the affairs of ECs.
    NEAs’ intervention on ECs must stop, the solon, who is also gunning for another term, said.
    Palangdan did not mince words when he lambasted NEA for issuing the preventive suspension order. In a motion before the assembly, he said that: “We will not entertain the suspension of the seven directors and GM Licoben.” 
    “We are governed by laws and not of men,” he said, referring to NEA’s decision to appoint Rafael as the GM despite the Beneco BOD having named Licoben as GM earlier.
    “We ask the NEA to stop intervening in Beneco since Beneco can stand by itself,” he said as he scored the orders and issuances of NEA which he said have wrought havoc on the electric cooperative. 
    “Enough is enough,” Palangdan, who will run as Benguet representative, declared.


Go vs Aliping, Magalong vs Domogan as Baguio rival pols file COCs for top posts

>> Sunday, October 10, 2021

BAGUIO CITY – Old and new political rivals are now vying for this summer capital’s top political posts during the May elections next year.
    Two rivals in the 2019 elections for the congressional post here filed their certificates of candidacies Thursday with the Commission on Elections at the Baguio Convention Center.
    Rep. Marquez Go who was the winner is seeking a third and final term as congressman. Former mayor Mauricio Domogan lost to Go for the congressional post last elections.
    Former congressman Nick Aliping is set to contest the congressional post against Go.
    This, while Domogan, also a former congressman filed for mayor. The latter spent 18 years as mayor, the longest year of service since same position was made elective in 1960.
    Go cast his CoC together with wife Soledad and their eight children and three city council aspirants before noon.
    Domogan, a lawyer filed his candidacy with five of his city council bets including two incumbents.
    Domogan lorded over local politics not just in Baguio since his elevation to mayor in 1992.
    But in 2019, he suffered his only setback apparently ending a 31-year political career against Go.
    But Thursday, Domogan formalized his run for the mayorship three days before his 75th birthday.
    He arrived with his lineup of incumbent councilors Benny Bomogan and Vladimir Cayabas, his former assistant Ryan Mangusan and first timer Len Ortega.
    Mangusan placed 15th in the last election.
    Ortega is the mother of councilor Roberto Ortega, who reportedly decided to stay out of politics this time to concentrate on raising his children after a bout with Covid-19.
    The young Ortega replaced his father and namesake, who died in 2019, and won in the 2019 polls.
    Domogan is the first serious contender of incumbent mayor Benjamin Magalong who Monday filed his CoC Monday for his re-election and ending speculation that he will seek a seat in the Senate under his former boss in the Philippine National Police, Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
    Domogan filed under the Lakas – CMD party, the once formidable political party in the late 90s under then president Fidel Ramos.
    Magalong is with the National People’s Coalition, then the political party of Domogan’s long-time ally Bernardo Vergara, a former 4-term congressman and one time city mayor.
    Domogan came with his council bets dressed in white.
    As it stands, it will be Magalong against Domogan and former vice mayor Ed Bilog and the little known Jeffrey Pinic, who again filed his candidacy.
    Incumbent vice mayor Faustino Olowan and barangay council chair Michael Lawana are seeking the same post.
     Lawana is challenging again Olowan, who beat him handily in the last election.
    This while, former city council legislative staff Labio Calingayan is running for Congress.
    Go hopes to win in the May 9, 2022 election to finish what he vowed to accomplish in Congress which included expansion of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center from 800 bed capacity to 1,500; establish a school for higher learning for those who cannot afford to go to private colleges and establishment of the Baguio National Schools for Arts and Sports.
    Go said while the bills for such were passed in the Senate, there is not enough time in this Congress to get funding needed for said programs
    Go was in white along with former Timpuyog stalwart Betty Lourdes Tabanda and Philian Weygan-Alan both seeking a third and final term at the City Council.
    Tabanda lost once, in 2004, in her re-election bid for vice mayor against Reinaldo Bautista, Jr., who was later elevated as mayor when then elected mayor Braulio Yaranon was suspended due to the Jadewell issue.
    Music professor and tenor Glenn Gaerlan completes the troika with Go and under the Nationalista Party.
    Also dressed in white but did not file his CoC Thursday was Bilog, who was with his council aspirants including radio personality Ericson Ferrer.
    He was set to file his candidacy Friday but didn’t do so as of press time.
    Bilog, who will run for mayor and complete his failed 2019 bid, went to Manila after Go’s filing where he said he will get the endorsement of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas which is bannered by former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
    Bilog was the distant second in the mayoralty race in the last elections.
Aliping lost his bid for second term to Go after a group led by the late bishop Carlito Cenzon filed a writ of kalikasan with a local court, and was granted, for the then congressman’s construction of a private property at Mount Santo Tomas.
    Aliping, also a former Comelec official, said he was supposed to run for mayor but acceded to Domogan’s call that he instead seek the congressional seat formalizing their supposed AliDom (Aliping-Domogan) alliance that had been rumored extant since 2010.
    Seeking re-election for councilor and who have filed their CoCs were Isabelo Cosalan, Arthur Alad-iw and Mylen Yaranon of the Liberal Party and will run with their former colleague lawyer Jose Molintas and former secretary to the mayor Rudolfo Paraan.
    Nine other aspirants have already filed their candidacy including Pamela Carino Bomogao, sports coach Christian Villareal and Marlene de Castro, founder of the youth oriented organization Baguio Center for Young Adults.


Ex-Kalinga governor Duguiang, 72 passes on

By Vince Jacob Visaya

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Former Kalinga governor Macario Duguiang died due to a lingering illness on Oct. 3 at the age of 72, his relatives announced.
    He served as governor from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2004.
    He would have been 73-years-old by October 22 if not for his death.
    A lawyer by profession, Duguiang also served as Lubuagan town mayor and regional director of the Dept. of Transportation and Communication Cordillera Administrative Region.
    Known as a peace negotiator among the Kalingas, Duguiang was cited for being a settler of tribe wars.
    He once served as Philippine Red Cross chairperson in Kalinga, and also held other positions in the private and government sectors.
    He also acted as peace pact holder, a negotiator of disputes and various problems, "an adviser, a mentor, a friend to everybody and a very humble person," his relatives said.
    Duguiang left his wife Ruth, a medical doctor and four children.


Itogon mayor hits alliance as Benguet contenders vie for Congress, gov posts

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- ACT Rep. and Benguet caretaker Rep. Eric Yap has filed his candidacy for congressman and will go up against Itogon mayor Victorio Palangdan, who filed his candidacy last Oct. 1.
    Former Benguet Gov. Cresencio Pacalso also filed his CoC for congressman Friday with former vice governor Nelson Dangwa who filed his COC for governor.
    Dangwa will be going against incumbent Gov. Melchor Diclas.
    In La Trinidad, mayor Romeo Salda led his party of 10 under the United Benguet Party in filing their CoC at the Comelec regional office.
    Salda is with vice mayor Roderick Awingan and eight of his councilor aspirants led by incumbents John Botiwey, Francis Lee as well as Jayson Dangwa, Belmer Elis, Bartolome Baldas, Tyrone Diaz and Guller Galwan.
    In Tuba, mayor Clarita Sal-ongan sought re-election along with vice mayor Maria Carantes after filing their CoCs with eight of their allies under the United Benguet Party also Thursday in Comelec – Tuba.
    The former vice mayor seeks re-election with seven of the town’s seven incumbent councilors – Rebecca Apil, Garey Behis, Eugene Gabino, Roger Kitma, Nestor Baban, Gloria Paus and Reachel Takinan. William Abance completes the Sal-ongan line-up.
    These were the names of candidates who filed their COCs at presstime Friday.
    Palangdan said he was earlier invited by convenors of an alliance in Benguet to attend the scheduled selection of the unified candidate for the lone congressional post, which was held in La Trinidad on Oct. 2.
    However, Palangdan disclosed he simply presented himself to the gathered sectoral representatives from different parts of the province, but did not allow himself to be subjected to the process because he knew all along that the process was orchestrated and designed to suit the interest of those who are behind the "alliance."
    Palangdan said the 38 sectoral representatives who were gathered for the selection process did not represent the true sentiment of the people of Benguet, and that they were convened to ensure the will of those who were behind the supposed alliance will be achieved as reflected on the outcome of the activity.
    He said earlier he will not respect the outcome of the supposed convention, and he will pursue his aspiration to run for the province's lone congressional post as he is prepared for the expected tossup between him and Yap.
    Palangdan is a retired prosecutor, a former member of the board of directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative and a three-term mayor of the mining town of Itogon.
    He said he will still pursue his plan to run for representative under his Independent Benguet Party.


Mt Province incumbents dominate electoral posts

By Gina Dizon  

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Incumbents composed most of electoral aspirants to the May 2022 elections for positions from representative to  provincial governor, vice governor,  Sangguniang Panlalawigan, municipal mayors, vice mayors and Sangguniang Bayan.
    This, with reports from Commission on Elections (COMELEC)-Mountain Province Officer Atty Ricardo Lampac.
Candidates for representative of the lone district of Mountain province are incumbent Rep. lawyer Maximo Dalog Jr. (Nationalista Party) and comebacking  candidate engineer Jupiter Dominguez (Lakas CMD Party) for the same position. Dominguez is former mayor of Sabangan town.
    Aspiring for the governorship is incumbent Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr (PDP-Laban), Albert Paday-os  (Independent) and Oliver Acapen ( Independent).
    For vice governor are incumbent Vice Gov.  Francis Tauli (PDP-Laban), incumbent Bauko mayor Abraham Akilit (Nationalista) and incumbent board member Alexandrei Claver ( Aksyon Demokratiko).
    For  board members of  District 1 are incumbent  board members  Federico E. Onsat ( PDP-Laban), Janice  Barillo ( PDP-Laban), and Joshua Fronda (PDP-Laban); former board members  Carino Tamang  (Nationalista), Ezra Gomez (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino), and Raul Lapon  (Reform Ph-People’s Party);   Pio  Cupasan (Ind), Cleto Chakapna (Ind), Matthew Fanao ( Reform Ph-People’s Party) and Constancio Miranda ( Nationalista Party).
For Board members of District 2 are incumbent  board members  Donato Danglose (PDP-Laban), Salvador  Dalang (PDP-Laban),  and Henry Bastian (PDP-Laban);  incumbent Besao mayor  Johnson Bantog (Independent)  and Agosto  Bugnosen (Ind);Fernando Begnaen Jr  (Ind), Jeff Layog (Nationalista Party), Jayne Saong (Ind);  former board member Romeo Pagedped, and Ricardo Masidong Jr ( Nationalista Party) and Bernardo Acnaban (Ind).
 Running for the mayor of Besao are  Bryne Bacwaden and retired police officer Dennis Dumanew.  For vice mayor are Elizabeth Buyagan and incumbent vice mayor June Lopsoten.
For the tourism town of  Sagada are candidates for mayor incumbent mayor  James Pooten Jr and incumbent vice mayor  Felicito Dula. For vice mayor are  incumbent  councilor David Buyagan Jr and businessman Conrad Aben.
For Sabangan are mayor hopefuls incumbent mayor Marcial Lawilao Jr, retired police officer Marlon Ban-eg, Richard Budod and Sonny Kidit Kalaw. For vice mayor are Fausto Ballakis and Anastacio Pinengew. 
Bauko municipality candidates for mayor are former mayor  Simon Lacwasan,  incumbent board member Randy Awisan and Stanley Dangatan. For vice mayor are candidates incumbent vice mayor Bartolome Badecao, Cesar Boguen and Joven Dao-asen.
Tadian’s incumbent mayor Constito Masweng is unopposed for the position of mayor and so with unopposed vice mayor George Bisen Jr for vice mayor.
In Bontoc, the town’s leadership is aspired by five candidates for mayor incumbent councilors Alsannyster Patingan, Jerome Tudlong and Robert Dacyon; retired Sangguniang Bayan secretary Arthur Cullallad and SIgFred Fatongkeg. For vice mayor is unopposed incumbent vice mayor Eusebio Kabluyen.
Sadanga’s  incumbent mayor Gabino Ganggangan is challenged by retired military officer Bobby Wanawan for mayor. For vice mayor are incumbent  vice mayor Albert Ayao-ao, Napoleon Sarang-ey and Mario Galingan.
Barlig mayorship is a fight between incumbent  Clark Ngayya and former mayor Genesis Changilan.For vice mayor are Constancio Focad and Davod Fomocod.
Natonin leadership is a three cornered fight of incumbent mayor Jose Agagon, former mayor Matthew Chiayawan and Pablo Nasaraw. For  vice mayor is incumbent vice mayor  Christopher Bayowan and Raymundo Lemyaen 
Paracelis mayorship is a fight between incumbent mayor Marcos  Ayangwa and former mayor Avelino Amangyen. For vice mayor are candidates Mario Madanum, Jarma Rafael and incumbent vice mayor Carlos Lester.



Ex-Vizcaya vice gov makes comeback after nine years

By Leander C. Domingo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya -- Former vice governor Jose Gambito has filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) on Tuesday to run for vice governor of Nueva Vizcaya anew after nine years as a private citizen.
    Gambito's last post in the provincial government was in 2013 when he completed his three consecutive terms as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
    Before his stint as vice governor, Gambito has served as a provincial board member also for three consecutive terms.
    If he wins the vice gubernatorial race in the 2022 polls, he will replace Vice Gov. Jose Tomas, a first termer who decided to challenge incumbent Carlos Padilla who is running for his last term as governor.
    Padilla's camp said the governor filed his CoC on Oct. 8.
    Gambito, who is also a lawyer by profession, is running under the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party.
    Team Atty. Jose Jing Gambito 2022, a group pushing for his comeback in public service said Gambito served as vice governor of the province and he has a proven track record with excellent credentials in leading the provincial board.
    "As a lawyer, he has the ability, competence, commitment, fairness and focused leadership, a tremendous asset in the provincial legislature," the group said.
    So far, only Gambito has filed a CoC for vice governor in the province.


Ilocos Norte Gov Manotoc files COC for 2022 polls

LAOAG CITY -- Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc will seek re-election to his post.
    Gov. Marcos Manotoc filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2022 election at the Commission on Elections-Ilocos Norte office in Laoag City Wednesday.  
    Accompanying him is his running mate in the May 2022 polls, Vice Gov. Cecilia Araneta-Marcos, and 2nd District Rep. Angelo Barba, who are also seeking re-election.
    "These past two years have been two of the most challenging years in the history of Ilocos Norte, in the history of the Philippines. Naniniwala po ako na natuto naman tayo.
    "We’ve learned how to deal with this pandemic, and I believe that we’d be best situated to serve for another three years. With your support, we hope to do that," Gov. Marcos Manotoc said.
    Gov. Marcos Manotoc, the youngest son of Senator Imee R. Marcos, became the Senior Board member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan from 2016 to 2019, with key ordinances anchored on youth welfare and health.
    He was also a multi-awarded young legislator.
    "Wala ng ‘learning on the job.’ We are now expected to be at full speed. This is ‘performing on the job.' I'll continue to be your working governor. I'll continue to go around and make sure the basic needs of our people are met and that progress is continued here in the province.
    "We will pledge to do even better and to finally, hopefully, move past Covid-19 and to learn to live with it and to make sure that every Ilokano can pursue their dream here in Ilocos Norte," he said.


More vaccines arrive; DOH ups Covid jabs

BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Health Center for Health and Development Cordillera is set to increase vaccination activities in Cordillera with the expected arrival of additional 141,150 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and  hiring of  185 nurses and midwives as vaccinators.
    DOH – CAR Medical Officer III Dr. Anachris Kilakil said additional   vaccines include 89,070 doses of Sinovac; 39,780 doses of Pfizer, and 12,300 doses of Moderna.
    All vaccine allocations will be for the 2–dose requirement of each eligible recipient from the Priority A1–A5 groups.
    As the region targets to fully vaccinate 70% of the eligible population in Cordillera, Kilakil advised the provincial/city VOCs to strategize and plan their vaccination activities so as to maximize the use of the allocated vaccines at the soonest possible time.
Kilakil said the DOH will hire additional human resources composed of 153 nurses and 32 midwives to serve as vaccinators.
    She called on provincial VOCs to allocate the distribution of manpower based on the vaccine allocation and target population in their respective municipalities and to rotate their deployment depending on the needs of the local vaccination teams.
    RVOC Chairperson and DOH regional director Dr. Ruby Constantino cited importance of providing protection to majority of the eligible population in the region especially the high risk groups at the soonest possible as cases continue to increase due to the threat of the more transmissible Covid-19 variants.
    The RVOC cited national vaccination advisory 89 which provides the guidelines for RVOCs and LVOCs to hasten inoculation of unvaccinated public and private schools teaching and non – teaching personnel from basic to higher educational institutions including child development centers and technical – vocational schools as part of priority A4 within their jurisdiction.
    For the vaccination accomplishments in CAR, the RVOC as of Sept. 23 data showed a total of 730,487 Covid– 19 vaccine doses were administered to eligible population in priority A1 to A5 groups in the region.
    Of the vaccinated population, 381,998 received their first dose while 360,790 are already fully vaccinated. -- JDP/CCD-CAR


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