Kalinga solon appointed as Mountain Province congressional caretaker

>> Sunday, April 27, 2008

By Dexter A. See

BONTOC, Mountain Province – House Speaker Prospero Nograles appointed first-term Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao as the caretaker of the congressional post of this province which was vacated by the demise of veteran lawmaker Victor S. Dominguez last Feb. 8.

Nograles appointed Agyao even as some politicians in the province endorsed Baguio City Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan as caretaker of the vacant congressional post for over two months now.

The House Speaker stood firm on the existing rules and regulations adapted in the appointment of caretakers whereby the lawmaker with the same political affiliation and which is the closest in terms of the geographical location to the province would be named as the temporary caretaker.

Dominguez succumbed to cardiac arrest with complications of diabetes at age 72 last Feb. 8 at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City.

He was serving his eighth term in Congress tracing back to the Batasan Pambansa during the martial law years.

Agyao is a member of the Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMPI) in the Cordillera which was chaired by the late Mountain province lawmaker.

The appointment of Agyao as the caretaker of Mountain Province also stopped misinformation being circulated by several interest groups that the House Speaker is inclined to appoint Domogan because it is the desire of local officials to have him as the overseer of the province.

According to Nograles, Agyao, a former Assistant Secretary and regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways, is competent in managing the affairs of the vacant congressional post in the province, citing his experience at the DPWH and that there is no doubt that he will strongly advocate for the welfare of the two provinces which he will represent in the House of Representatives.

Both Domogan and Agyao issued earlier statements they will support whoever between them will be chosen as the caretaker of the vacated Mountain province congressional position.

Mountain province is considered to be the luckiest province in the Cordillera since it is the beneficiary of most flagship project commitments of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly phases two and three of the Halsema highway rehabilitation project, the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road and the Cervantes-Sabangan secondary arterial road.

Undersecretary Josephine de Castro-Dominguez of the Presidential Legislative Liaison office, who is the widow of the late congressman, welcomed the appointment of Agyao as caretaker for Mountain province, saying they respect the decision of the House leadership on the matter.

The Palace aide said the demise of her husband should serve as an eye opener for the people of the province especially on the numerous hard and soft projects he has initiated for the benefit of the people.

For his part, Agyao vowed to visit the province and conduct series of consultations with the different stakeholders to pursue the legacy and the projects left behind by Rep. Dominguez, especially the free tertiary education for students enrolled at the Mountain province State Polytechnic College among others.


Victims are Apayao folk: Jeep plunges into Ilocos ravine; 4 killed, 15 hurt4

By Freddie G. Lazaro

SAN EMILIO, Ilocos Sur — At least four persons were killed while 15 others were injured on April 23 when a passenger jeep plunged into a deep ravine here in Barangay Tiagan.

The victims were on their way home to Sta. Marcela, Apayao from a family reunion in Quirino, Ilocos Sur when the jeep they were riding in lost its brake.

This caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle which was then traveling downward on the road in Barangay Tiagan.

The jeep plunged into a 150-foot deep ravine.

Police identified the four dead victims as Nestor Tungbaban, Lodivina Angala, Valeriana Bitibit, and Mercedes Bitibit, all passengers of the ill-fated jeep and residents of Sta. Marcela, Apayao.

The 15 injured victims were identified as Avelina Wakan, Virgie Wakan, Marina Tungbaban, Valerie Salvador Bitibit, Esperdion Bitibit, Eliseo Patil-ao, Cleffored Rommel Bitibit, Martin Goyasan, Jun Bitibit, King Martin – the jeepney driver, Betty Geronilla, Freddie Geronilla, Jennifer Bitibit, May Flor Gamilde and a certain "Navie," also all residents of Sta. Marcela, Apayao.

Three other passengers of the jeep were unhurt.

Investigation showed the vehicular accident happened at about 10 in the morning.
The jeep, loaded with 22 people, was going down the road when it lost its brake.

After being informed of the incident, policemen and local officials of this town conducted rescue operations, bringing the injured victims to the hospital.

But four of the victims died on the spot.

The rescuers took the victims to hospitals in Candon City. Eight of the victims were confined in Candon City Hospital, three in the San Martin de Porres Hospital, three in the Rasonable Clinic, and one in the Ilocos Training and Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union.

The bodies of the four dead victims were brought to a funeral parlor.

This town is located some 15 km east of Candon City.


Power coop defends execs’ car plan

By Dexter A See

BAGUIO CITY – The management of the Benguet Electric Coop. here said the controversial multi-million-peso car plan for its executives and employees will save the public utility agency at least P9 million, contrary to claims by critics.

Gerardo P. Verzosa, Beneco general manager, said acquisition of new vehicles for its executives and deserving employees under the widely publicized car plan is much cheaper than purchasing new ones solely at the company’s expense.

Under a feasibility study conducted by the firm for several years now, the car plan, which will benefit 34 officers and employees, would enable the utility to reduce the cost of acquiring new vehicles and would also reduce maintenance, depreciation and operating costs because the executive or employee will have his counterpart for such expenses for the vehicle.

For example, he said, the purchase of seven new vehicles at the cooperative’s expense would cost P24.9 million, which is P9 million more than the P15.9-million Beneco exposure under the car plan.

Verzosa said no cash will be released by the cooperative because the acquisition of the new cars will be done on credit.

Beneco will shoulder 70 percent, while the beneficiary executive or employee will shoulder 30 percent of the maintenance and fuel cost for the vehicle.

Verzosa said the same car plan is being implemented by various government and private entities such as the National Transmission Corp. the National Power Corp., the Manila Electric Co.,, the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative.

Because there is no cash out on the part of the cooperative, the manager said vital programs and projects, especially rural electrification of non-viable areas in Benguet, will not be compromised.

He denied insinuation of some sectors that the amount for the car plan will be sourced from the P100-million loan it had acquired from the National Electrification Administration for rural electrification, saying the allegation is baseless and unfounded.

He said the cooperative will not use the fund for purposes other than energization of the 134 sitios of Benguet.

Verzosa said the utility’s credit facilities are the ones providing for the financing of the vehicles with the support of the beneficiaries.

Beneco directors are not included in the controversial car plan because they do not perform the same duties and responsibilities of an executive or an employee who reports to the office daily and acts on vital concerns even in far-flung areas of Benguet.


Pangasinan rice traders hit NBI raids, harassment

By Jennelyn Mondejar

ROSALES, Pangasinan –About 600 rice mill owners of this province protested the alleged harassment of millers following the raid by National Bureau of Investigation agents on several local rice warehouses in crackdown against hoarders.

The rice millers complained their buyers in Metro Manila stopped buying from them due to the raids.

Rosendo So, president of the Eastern Pangasinan Filipino- Chinese Chamber of Commerce and spokesman of the Rice Millers Association of Pangasinan, said they sought the intervention of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, the senators, six Pangasinan congressmen and the governor to stop the harassment of rice millers.

So said the traders were harassed by the raids being conducted by agents of the NBI and the National Food Authority which inspects their warehouses.

The NBI-Dagupan team raided three rice warehouses in Tayug town the other day.
Lawyer Dave Alunan, executive officer of NBI-Dagupan clarified said the operation was not a raid but they only accompanied NFA inspectors.

“That is the good result of what we are doing,” Alunan said, noting rice millers were now cooperating with the NFA for the good of the public and are willing to sell their grains to the government.

So said their buyers from Metro Manila stopped buying from them for fear of harassment from government agents.

He said five days ago, the palay price per kilogram bought by millers was P19 but it suddenly dropped to P16.20 a kilo.

“If these raids continue, it will continuously drop to P12 per kilogram,” he said.
The poor farmers will suffer because rice millers will not buy their produce anymore, So said. “This will paralyze the farmers.”

He said if this continues, the government should instead buy the farmers’ produce and stop importing in order to save money.

So said imported rice expected to arrive in the country by May is 339,000 metric tons and each bag was bought at P2,450.

Rice millers offer their produce to NFA at P1,600 per bag, or a savings of P800 per bag.

He said 50 percent of local rice production is consumed here while the remainder is traded in Metro Manila and other provinces.

“There should be a definition of hoarding. If they don’t sell and merely stock, that’s hoarding,” he said.

So said that there is no rice shortage but a surplus in the provinces and the government should buy locally-produced rice instead of importing grains.

He said there should be a dialogue between the government and the rice millers to address the problem.


No due process says human rights lawyer: Filing of murder raps vs party-list solons assailed

GUIMBA, Nueva Ecija -- Three militant party-list congressmen facing charges of multiple murder before courts in Nueva Ecija accused Malacañang of having stage-managed the revival of the cases to have them removed as "people’s representatives in Congress."

In a press conference in Manila, Bayan Muna Reps. Satur C. Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, and former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano denied any involvement in the killings in Palayan City and Guimba, Nueva Ecija from 2001 to 2004.

The four were tagged as masterminds in the killings of three leaders of Akbayan, another partylist organization that participated in the elections during that time.
Reacting to the filing of charges against the four, an administration lawmaker who requested anonymity said the move was an apparent vindication on the part of the Arroyo government which had been accused by the four of alleged involvement in the series of political killings involving suspected leftist leaders.

However, Ocampo and his group called the charges "blatant lies and Palace-directed" aimed to forcibly remove several representatives in Congress and prevent them from doing their work.

Charged for the killing of three persons in separate incidents in Nueva Ecija were Ocampo, Casiño, Maza, Mariano, and 15 others.

"The filing of fabricated cases against us is obviously the handiwork of the Cabinet cluster on internal security with the blessings of the President," said Ocampo.

He added: "Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal of security officials’ claim that we are top leaders of the communist movement in the trumped-up rebellion case was already dismissed by the Supreme Court last year. This is the same accusation in this case and is no longer valid."

Maza scored the Arroyo government’s continued refusal to comply with the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston to abolish the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group which is responsible for the case buildup and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders of progressive party-list and people’s organizations.

"Instead of heeding worldwide pressure and criticisms, the Arroyo administration has stepped up its campaign of political repression against its most vocal critics," Maza stated.

The filing of murder charges in Nueva Ecija last week also came in the wake of Ocampo’s Human Rights Mission in Canada where he met with various parliamentarians and FilCanadian communities, and presented before the Sub-Committee on International Human Rights of Canadian House of Commons the continuing impunity for the killings and disappearances.

Casiño also attended the United Nations Human Rights Commission Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines and helped expose the real sorry state of human rights in the country.

Casiño and Maza also gave an update on continuing cases of political harassment against them at the Inter-Parliamentary Union assembly in South Africa.

Together with Mariano, the three incumbent solons had previously been charged with grave criminal offenses in Leyte that prompted the Department of Justice to order their arrest.

Then Speaker Jose de Venecia took the four in the protective custody of the House until the charges were dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Ocampo said they will not ask the same treatment from Speaker Prospero Nograles if court arrest warrants are issued against them.

Human rights lawyer Romeo T. Capulong cried "foul" over the filing by government prosecutors of two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping with murder against three party-list representatives.

No warrant has yet been issued by the court for the arrest of the accused.

In a press conference last week, Capulong told media people the action of the government was intended "to neutralize the four leaders by filing non-bailable and common crimes to freeze their movements and stifle legitimate dissent."

Capulong said the government filed the trumped-up charges against the four because they have been supporting rallies against the rice crisis and the rising prices of basic commodities, the continued suppression of the people’s right to freedom of expression and widespread corruption in government.

Capulong was scheduled file a motion for judicial determination of probable cause in all the RTC salas where the cases were filed.

Claiming the accused were denied due process of law, he said their motion for confrontation by the supposed witnesses of the accused was denied by the investigating panel.

He said the causes his clients are espousing were mere reflections of the legitimate grievances of the people who have no effective means or forum to air their complaints against the government’s failure to effect practical solutions to the growing national problems that have filtered down to the countryside.

"Once you place behind bars no less than these parliamentarians, who would then be expected to raise his voice against the excesses of the officials in high places?" he said.

He lamented the sad state of the prosecution arm which, he said, has been rendered as tools of their superiors who kow-tow to the will of those who want to stay uncontested in the seat of government.

However, Capulong held as significant a statement in the form of a marginal note entered by Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Eddie Guttierez in the 11-page resolution.
The note state, "I concur in the conclusion. But I would have been more than satisfied if the witnesses for the prosecution were present."

The prosecutors said the accused conspired with other people in the killing of Danilo Felipe in Guimba in 2001, Jimmy Peralta in 2003, and Carlito Bayudang in 2004, both in Bongabon town.

A panel of prosecutors composed of Nueva Ecija Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Antonio Ll. Lapus Jr., lead member, and members Edison Rafanan and Gutierrez recommended no bail for the temporary liberty of the accused.


2 men shoot to death ex-governor’s lawyer

By Jack Turqueza

BANGUED, Abra – A trial lawyer here was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assassins in his law office-residence here afternoon of April 20.

The killers immediately fled, riding a motorcycle with no plate number.

Police identified the victim as lawyer Demetrio Pre, 65, of Zone 4, this town. He was shot twice in the head with a caliber .45 pistol and died on the spot.

Police investigation showed Pre was talking with a client, identified as Bernardo Bañez, 71, of Zone 2, this town, when he was attacked.

Bañez was reportedly asking the lawyer about the supposed court hearing last week on a civil case involving a land dispute the former had filed against Charmine Burgos in 2000 when the assassins barged in the office and fired at Pre.

Lawmen theorized that the motive in the murder of Pre might have something to do with a land problem.

Probers said their investigation is focused on efforts to identify the killers.

Cordillera police spokesman Supt. Arni Dean Emock said Bangued policemen who are now investigating the assassination initially found out Pre was attending to a client named Bernardo Bañes, 71, when the two gunmen barged inside the law office and shot the lawyer twice in the head. “They were conversing with his client when the incident occurred,” Emock said.

The lawyer suffered two gunshot wounds from a .45 caliber firearm on his forehead and left eye.

The gunmen who are now being hunted, police said, fled aboard a motorcycle.
Pre was rushed to the Seares Memorial Clinic but was pronounced dead-on-arrival by attending physicians.

The slain lawyer was brought to the Tamo Funeral Parlor, also in Bangued town for autopsy.

Emock said investigators are looking at the possibility that the slaying is related to a land dispute where the 75-year old lawyer is involved.

But reliable sources said that police should look into other angles like possible vendetta against him because he was one of the lawyers of former governor Vicente Valera who was tagged as brains in the December 2006 killing of then Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin and other alleged political killings in the province.

Abra police director Senior Supt. Alexander Pumecha said they are on their toes for the early solution of the killing. Several hours after Pre’s slaying, and just a few steps from the crime scene, 32-year old security guard Efren Bersalona was slain inside the town hall in Bangued.


Soldier dies; NPA camp dismantled in Isabela

GAMU, Isabela – A soldier died in an hour-long firefight between combined Army and police operatives and New People’s Army rebels in a remote village here on April 20, wherein an NPA makeshift camp was also dismantled, an Army report said.

According to the Army’s 5th Infantry Division based here, its 45th Infantry Battalion troops, along with operatives from the Military Intelligence Group and provincial police encountered undetermined number of the traditionally Maoist-rebels at the vicinity of Pallay creek, Barangay Para in capital Ilagan town.

Maj. Gen. Melchor Dilodilo, chief of the Army’s 5th ID, said that the firefight occurred shortly after the joint team under one 2nd Lieutenant Agbing discovered and seized an NPA encampment in the area.

The identity of the Army casualty was withheld pending information to his family.
The hour-long gunbattle was followed by exchange of sporadic gunfire as combined Army-police operatives continued to scour the area as the communist militants started their escape from the site, bringing along their casualties.

Dilodilo said government operatives were able to recover from the camp several personal belongings and subversive documents, which the Army described as with high intelligence value.

The encounter with the rebels and the earlier discovery of their camp was the latest development in the Army’s efforts to eradicate the vestiges of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, in the country.

Earlier this year, the Army here vowed to wipe out remaining rebel strongholds within the 5th ID’s area of operations in the three Northern Luzon regions - Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley on or before 2010. – CL


Displaced 1,500 miners appeal to GMA

By George Trillo

DOÑA REMEDIOS TRINIDAD, Bulacan —Thousands of displaced mine workers in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan appealed to President Arroyo to intervene in the mining dispute in this town.

"Nananawagan po kami kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo na huwag kaming pabayaang mawalan ng pinagkakakitaan dahil kapag nagpatuloy po ito ay tiyak na marami ang magugutom lalong-lalo na ang aming mga anak at mababahala ang mga pag-iisip kung papano kami kakain sa araw-araw (We are appealing to President Arroyo not to allow us to lose our source of income because if this happens, many people, particularly our children will go hungry)," a miner said.

DRT Mayor Evelyn Paulino told newsmen the situation has forced some 1,500 mine workers and members of their families to resort to charcoal making and firewood gathering, and this has taken a heavy toll on the Angat watershed.

It was gathered that because the mine workers lost their sources of livelihood, some women family members of the miners have resorted to prostitution to make both ends meet.

Cases of petty thievery are also rising, and what is worse is that the restive miners, who have lost their jobs, may join the underground movement.

The mining row in the town is directly affecting some 7,500 people dependent on iron-ore mining.

They were displaced following the issuance of a controversial order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The order suspended all mining operations in Barangay Camachin.

The miners reportedly earns each of from P350 to P500 a day for picking and hauling crushed boulders of iron ores mined at the mining areas in DRT.

Aside from the miners, the haulers and truckers have also been displaced, while the mining operators are losing millions of pesos due to the suspension of mining activities.

The DENR issued the suspension order when a squabble of the Soriano family over the control of the Oro Development Corp. (Odeco) reached boiling point. This allegedly forced the Soriano siblings to come out with two Odeco companies -- Odeco 1 and Odeco 2.

Last Saturday night April 12 , it was reported that heavily armed men led by a retired Army general stormed the compound of Odeco 1, and without any authority, disarmed the guards of the mining firm and installed a new set of security guards hired by Odeco 2.

Mayor Paulino hopes that DENR Secretary Lito Atienza immediately resolve with finality the controversy over Odeco so that the mine workers can go back to their work.



If establishments don’t have sound-proofing devises: Nightspot owners to be jailed
By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – Owners of nightspots would be imprisoned if found out they violated city ordinances by not setting up adequate sound proofing devises in their establishments.

Following reports that several business permits were pending due to lack of soundproofing devices, Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas, as officer-in-charge issued Administrative Order 59 last week.

The AO created an inspection team, headed by health services office chief Dr. Florence Reyes; city treasurer Thelma Manaois, licensing officer Cristio Lagyop and public order and safety division chief Gregorio Deligero as members.

Secretary to the mayor Ronald Perez acts as action officer of the body.

Farinas said there were several tourist-oriented establishments that have complied with the requirements but could not operate fully due to notations on their business permit applications.

He added inspections started Thursday so that pending business permits would be processed immediately.

Earlier, Ordinance 17, as approved by the city council last March 10, required night establishments like folk houses, disco pads and night clubs where live music is played as part of the entertainment but are near hotels, inns and residential houses to install and provide sound proof devices or noise absorbers to lessen volume of the sound.

The team is expected to inspect if the mentioned ordinance was complied with and submit a recommendation to the office of the city mayor, for approval or disapproval of the business permit.

Business establishments in violation of the ordinance would be meted out, for the first offense, ten days of imprisonment for the owner or a fine of P1,000 or both; for the second offense, 15 days of imprisonment or a fine of P2,000 or both; and for the third and subsequent offenses, 60 days of imprisonment or a fine of P3,000 or both.

Dev’t plan set for razed Baguio public market
BAGUIO CITY – Following the fire last week which razed the old city public, the city government will implement a market development program to improve the trading center supposed to be the show window of the city.

Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas said this was the consensus reached by city officials led by Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. after the fire that burned 56 stalls.
Farinas said the fire showed the precarious condition of the city market necessitating action from the city government.

He said this prompted city officials’ decision to push through with market improvement projects that have long been shelved due to pending court cases between the city government and vendors groups protesting the city’s market development deal with the Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corp.

Farinas said in deference to the court cases, the officials agreed to focus the development thrust on areas that are not covered in the Uniwide deal like the blocks 3 and 4 and the Rillera building.

But he said the area affected by the fire, although covered in the deal, had to be
prioritized due to pressing need.

Stallholders displaced by the fire appealed to the city council for their temporary relocation to allow them to continue their business, a request which the city council granted.

Farinas said the market development project is the top concern identified by Bautista in his list of priority projects to be funded under the supplemental budget to be pushed at the city council soon.

The other projects listed in the top ten priorities are the solid waste management project particularly the purchase of ten dump trucks and construction of 15 materials recovery facilities; purchase of police motorcycles, improvement of city hall park, rehabilitation of bulldozers; implementation of security sticker project; conduct of Centennial celebration; publication of the Baguio City coffee table book; purchase of firefighting equipment; and multi-level parking.

Fil-Am docs respond to urgent pleas of patients
By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Cordillera expatriates keep tab of news back home and sometimes e-mail them to us when we’re too busy to have read them.

Dr. Lauro San Jose, a 50-year old neurosurgeon based in La Trinidad, Benguet, got one recently from Denver Marines, of San Diego, California.

It’s about Joshua, a five-year old boy whose head has been swollen by too much fluid in the brain. Aside from this condition, medically diagnosed as hydrocephalus, Joshua has a pesky tumor at the base of the skull, a growth doctors call posterior fossa mass lesion.

When told he needed two surgeries estimated to run in the hundreds of thousands, Joshua’s mother, Fortunate, who is unemployed, started knocking on doors. She’s fortunate Marines opened the Baguio news websites – and then the door.

The only child of a cook who is estranged from his wife, Joshua will meet San Jose tomorrow morning, for the preliminary tests to determine the kid’s fitness to undergo the initial procedure to drain the excess fluid from his brain.

As soon as Joshua’s ready, San Jose would then do the more delicate tumor excision, also pro bono, in keeping with the mission of Shunt for Life, a foundation he co-founded and to which Marines belongs.

“I haven’t had time to read the local papers and it took Denver to tell me about Joshua’s plight,” San Jose said.

He recalled that Shunt for Life evolved after a medical emergency in 1999. That was when San Jose was sought out to remove a blood clot from the brain of a patient who was comatose.

The patient was the father of Melecia Madrid, a nursed based in San Diego, California. Their family was on a homecoming here when Melecia’s dad suffered a stroke.

Only three days after the surgery, the patient was able to fly back to San Diego.

A year after, San Jose visited his sister in San Diego. He met Melecia and the idea for a foundation to reach out to indigent patients took form. Melecia broached the idea to fellow nurses and other Filipinos in the West Coast.

“The scheduled first medical mission to the Philippines was supposed to be in 2001, if not for 9-11,” Dr. San Jose recalled, referring to the terrorist plane-bombing of the New World Trade Center.

Lugging medicines and medical equipment and paying their own travel tickets and accommodations, Melecia and 14 other foundation members finally made it to the first mission in 2002, at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

“Everybody thought it would be a one-shot deal, until it was over, when som
ebody asked ‘ Saan tayo next year?,’” San Jose said.

So the mission returned, and returned, each time the medical volunteers and members had stocked up on medicines, equipment, vacation leaves and personal savings for the cost of travel and other expenses.

Shunt for Life has healed over a hundred lives, mostly children suffering from hydrocephalus and meningocele, the out-pouching of brain matter.

For his humanitarian vision and action, Dr. San Jose was back in the United States last year, to receive the Ten Outstanding Filipinos Abroad” award from the Ten Outstanding Filipinos Foundation.

The neurosurgeon is a very busy man. Last week, he found respite, or so he thought, with a much-needed rest day in Manila.

Instead, he got a call. One of his former classmates at the Fatima University in Bulacan where he finished his medical course just figured in an accident.

The victim needed emergency brain surgery. Hours after conducting the procedure, Dr. San Jose was on his way to Cagayan de Oro for a planning session with the YMCA of Baguio, which he serves as assistant treasurer.

On the plane, he thought of Joshua, the ailing boy he’ll meet tomorrow.

‘Death’ of Balili River seen
BAGUIO CITY – Environmentalists here predicted the eventual death of the Balili River in this city and nearby Benguet due to continuous disposal of wastes in the tributaries of the river by unscrupulous residents of this mountain resort city.

While the condition of the river continues to worsen everyday due to the dumping of wastes in this body of water connecting this city to La Trinidad, Benguet, pro-environment advocates believe the river could still be saved if people, particularly thousands of families living along its tributaries, do their part to rescue the river which serves s one of the major sources of irrigation for lowland areas.

Over the past several decades, the city government has failed to address the uncontrolled garbage disposal and direct release of sewerage and household water into the river, resulting in its moribund condition.

Local environment groups said addressing the serious garbage problem will help the government and non-government agencies in their efforts to revitalize the river, but the people living alongside its tributaries should cooperate.

Baguio City is one big area alongside a major tributary of the Balili River, which flows down to La Trinidad, Tublay, Sablan, Benguet and ends in La Union.

However, the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources declared that the Balili River is not yet considered a dead body of water because aquatic life is still evident, particularly in the La Trinidad and Tublay portions of the river.

Earlier, the La Trinidad municipal government repeatedly assailed the apathy of Baguio residents about the efforts to save the river.

Despite criticisms, barangays which are alongside the tributaries of the Balili River are doing their share in trying to minimize the pollution of the river.

For instance, Barangay Gibraltar, one of the headwaters of the Balili River, is spearheading a massive cleanup to minimize the dumping of garbage in its tributary. -- Dexter See

City execs start to rescind ‘irregular’ title issued to bizman over public land
By Isagani S. Liporada

BAGUIO CITY -- City officials have started moves to rescind the land title issued to a Chinese businessman below city hall saying its issuance was irregular.

Councilor Richard Cariño, in committee report bared possible actions to recover the disputed parcel of land along Chuntug Street, now titled in the name of one Yu Hwa Ping.

Cariño recommended the granting of authority to the city legal officer to prepare all documents regarding the matter and to request the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of the City Government of Baguio, to cancel titles issued to Hwa Ping.

He also recommended authority for CLO to “identify all persons involved and responsible for the processing of the title to Yu Hwa Ping and to file appropriate charges against them.”

Cariño chairs the council committee on laws, which include councilors Nicasio Aliping and Perlita Chan-Rondez.

Rondez during the March 10 council session however manifested inhibition as lawyer Teopisto Rondez, her father-in-law, represents Hwa Ping in the land controversy.
Aliping has yet to sign the committee report as of press deadline.

Earlier, the council, instead of referring Hwa Ping files to the committee on Lands, referred the same to the committee on laws.

Cosalan who chairs the lands committee is related to Victor Cosalan who is Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ regional technical director for lands.

“A neutral authority,” Cariño said, “instead of another council committee or a committee formed by the DENR is strongly recommended to remove any cloud of doubt as to the possible involvement of public officers in white-washing facts regarding the matter.”

Meanwhile, councilor Fred Bagbagen who authored the proposal for the filing of necessary land reversion suit and administrative charges against DENR officials vowed “to pursue land recovery to the hilt.”

Bagbagen in an April 12 letter requested DENR-Cordillera director Samuel Peñafiel for a copy of an investigation report of the DENR committee tasked to investigate the Hwa Ping land uproar.

“We understand you created a committee to look into the possible filing of cancellation proceedings apropos the title issued to Hwa Ping,” he said.

“Knowing that the committee was formed sometime between December 2007 and January 2008 and that the same was given limited time within which to conduct an investigation, we hope you could furnish us with their report so we could likewise complement your action with ours,” he added.

In a separate interview Bagbagen said, “If DENR is indeed sincere in protecting what we perceive is for the greater good of the people of Baguio, we do not see any well-argued reason for their investigation to drag on.”

Earlier, the DENR issued Special Order No. 14, “creating a team to conduct investigation for possible filing of cancellation proceedings over the title issued on a road-right-of-way,” right at the foot of city hall.

Peñafiel named lawyer Joseph Humiding as chairman, lawyer Cleo Andrada, engineer Wilbert Mangliwan, Evelyn S. Wales Norbert Aquino, and Filipinas Mallare to investigate how the title was processed.

The DENR probe team earlier requested that CLO define issues surrounding the city’s opposition to the award of the property to Hwa Ping.

But the Rabanes was unmoved saying the said team should know the issues they’re supposed to investigate.

Meantime, CLO’s Carlos Melchor Rabanes said, “We’re ready to go to court as soon as we receive the council green light.”

Seeing Hwa Ping priming up for a construction in the area, lawyer Rene Cortes earlier filed opposition with concerned local officials seeking to stop the latter from erecting vertical structures.

His main premise: the land cannot be disposed through Townsite Sales Application (TSA) because it is a part of a road-right-of-way along Chuntug; and that the parcel of land forms part of City Hall Reservation under Proc. No. 62.

Despite city declarations reserving the area for greenbelt purposes however, Hwa Ping was able to secure the title.

Baguio City officials want controversial Convention Center pine forest retained
By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas said Thursday the city government will not allow the reported plan to construct a commercial structure at the remaining forested lot within the Baguio Convention Center reservation without proper consultation.

Farinas said Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr.’s position to safeguard the city’s resources against wanton destruction remained firm.

Farinas said the reported deal between the Government Service Insurance System and the Shoemart Investments Corporation remained sketchy and the ownership of the subject area remained tainted with legal questions.

He said that even if these legal problems have been threshed out, the city will insist that parties should still impose limitations on the development plans to safeguard the environment.

Last Monday, the city council sustained the city’s stand to retain and develop the forested area.

Although they voted to slash P1.2 million from the P2 million appropriated for the development of the said forest park in 1993.

The aldermen made it clear that slashing the budget did not mean they have given up on the project or they were acceding to the reported development of the area into a commercial site.

The body decided to realign the P1.2 million to finance the improvement of the north-bound terminal, in the mean time that the tree park development project can not be expedited due to legal questions as to the ownership of the area.

But they said the city was ready to allocate the required fund if the project will be made ready for implementation.

At least three proposals are now pending before the city council calling for the preservation of the pine forest as such.

The measures were proposed by councilors Richard Carino, Bagbagen, Isabelo Cosalan Jr., Elaine Sembrano and Betty Lourdes Tabanda.

The aldermen said removing the woodland would have great effect as apart from being one of the few remaining pine stands in the area, it supplies part of the water needs of the city.

They area “which stands within the Government Center Reservation was planted more than three decades ago under the direction of then First Lady Imelda Marcos who was also Minister of Human Settlements at the time, hence, it is a government forest.”

They said the Constitution mandates that “forests are inalienable natural resources of the State.”

“Public interest and welfare demands that the pine forest at the Baguio City Convention Center area should be preserved and even enhanced and not destroyed to give way to commercial development,” the aldermen said.

Number coding repeal, one-way traffic schemes planned
By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO City – The traffic number coding scheme may be repealed through city council action, Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas bared, even as other traffic solutions would be studied.

The vice mayor said that the city as a tourist spot should remain attractive to local and foreign tourists, thus, the looming repeal.

He cited the earlier holiday months where tourists abound for Baguio’s cool weather, the Panagbenga celebrations, graduation rites, for the city’s summer activities, and this summer term; for which the number coding is still suspended, until May 30.

There is also a possibility that the enrollment period this June would merit another suspension when students and their parents would flock to the city.

Not even the impending traffic problems would let the number coding stay, the vice mayor said. The traffic snarls were the very reason why the number coding was realized through an ordinance at the city council. Public utility vehicles were given certain days to “rest” from plying their routes, along and to the Central Business District.

The decongestion of the CBD however, should be through other means but not entirely dependent on the coding scheme, the vice-mayor emphasized.

All other solutions to traffic bottle necks are being closely looked into by the Baguio City Police Office-Traffic Management Group, Traffic and Transportation Management Committee and other concerned city bodies, he added.

Farinas also said the one-way traffic schemes in city roads, are due to be
implemented permanently.

Reports from the TMG and BCPO bared the one-way scheme was successful, and that traffic jams in intersections could be remedied trough public discipline and removal of barriers and structures.

The one-way traffic schemes are implemented at the city hall loop, Session road-SM loop and University of the Philippines loop.

All traffic measures would be finalized through ordinances to be approved by the city council.

Task Force Usig to release posters of suspects in slays

The police task force investigating the unexplained murders of journalists and leftist activists is set to release its most wanted posters of suspects in the killings.

Task Force Usig chief Director Jefferson Soriano also gave assurance that the task force is working at full speed to resolve the killings.

Soriano and representatives of the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Bureau of Investigation, Supreme Court, and Armed Forces of the Philippines had a meeting last week to discuss the status of cases still pending with the task force.

It was also agreed during the meeting to release posters of suspects in the killings and unexplained disappearances, he said.

Task Force Usig reported that not a single unexplained killing has been recorded during the first quarter of the year.

Soriano said there was a significant decline in unexplained killings by 83 percent from 2006 to 2007, indicating that the government, through the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other agencies, has been effectively addressing the issue.

“As far as our mandate to investigate the unexplained killings of militants and journalists is concerned, we have not yet recorded a single incident,” Soriano added.

There are at present a total of 161 people wanted for the killings, but only 66 of them have been identified and 23 have pending warrants of arrest.

Soriano said at least 27 cases have been pending before prosecutor’s offices, 13 others have been provisionally dismissed for lack of evidence or witnesses, and 14 other cases still under prosecution.

He said seven cases of unexplained killings have been referred to the special courts created by the Supreme Court to handle cases of killings of militants and journalists.
Soriano said Task Force Usig has been closely coordinating with the DOJ on the status of the different cases.

Soriano urged the human rights group Karapatan to allow the PNP and Task Force Usig to sit down and compare their reports on the killings.

Karapatan has been criticizing the PNP and the task force for downplaying human rights abuses allegedly committed by government security forces against journalists and leftist activists.

Karapatan claimed there are over 1,000 unexplained killings, which they blamed on the government and military, but the PNP said the group’s records were bloated with unconfirmed incidents.

Soriano said some of the alleged victims in the cases recorded by Karapatan turned out to be alive.



No rice shortage in MP,says NFA

BONTOC, Mountain Province - There is no rice shortage and rice panic buying in Mountain Province.

This was the answer of National Food Authority provincial office economist Elimar C. Regindin when asked on the rice situation in the province amid reports of rice shortage in some part of the country.

Regindin said that though the province has low rice production, the province will not suffer from rice shortage because there is a continuous supply of NFA and commercial rice coming from the rice-producing provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela.

For April, the NFA rice allocation for the province is 17,500 sacks of which 5,200 sacks are being distributed to the different accredited retailers such as the 15 Bigasan ni Gloria sa Palengke established in public places and the 85 Tindahan Natin outlet located in remote barangays.

The remaining 12,280 sacks are set aside for the Department of Education’s Food for school Program and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Food for the Poor Program.

Regindin said in case there is a need for more government rice in remote barangays, the NFA will mobilize its rolling stores to sell government rice directly to end consumers.

He said rice panic buying in some parts of the country is due to the sudden price increase of commercial rice ranging from P32 to P40 a kilo which is higher than NFA rice that costs 18.25 per kilo. -- Frenzylle Bag-ayan and Razil Ann Baclili



Search on for beauties in Ifugao town fiesta
By Jun Kindipan Dumar

LAGAWE, Ifugao-The search for the most beautiful native young women here is on as town officials prepared for the launching of its town fiesta on April 24.

Councilor Mariflor Dipia-o, committee chairperson bared requirements for applicants to the the “Search for Miss Lagawe: must be an Ifugao native and a resident of the municipality, must not be less than five feet in height and must be 18 years old but not more than 23 during the pageant.

Birth certificates are also required as proof of date of birth. Medical certificate is also required to reveal if the candidate is physically fit to join the event.
Married, pregnant, and single parents are disqualified to join said pageant.

Winners in the most awaited showdown of Lagawe beauties would be be entries in the “Search for Miss Ifugao June this year during the Ifugao Day celebrations.

“Candidate in this selection must agree that if selected as winner, she must abide by the rules and regulations governing the pageant and must agree to participate in other pageants requiring the representation of the municipality,” Dipia-o said.

Candidates who are interested to join the pageant should accomplish the following requirements: application form available at the office of the sanguniang bayan, medical certificate from RHU-Lagawe, photo copy of birth certificate (original must be presented) and photo copy of community tax certificate.

General criteria for judging are poise and beauty (40 %), wit for (30 %), talent (20 %) and stage presence and overall impact at ten percent.

Those interested, may contact councilors Dipia-o at 0918-232-9333 or Maria Tasha Habawel at 0926-616-5615.

Religious groups, PNP move to curtail illegal gambling in Ifugao
By Vency D. Bulayungan

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- Religious and civic group in coordination with the police and the local government units here are now coordinating to stop illegal gambling in the province.

Fr. Valentin Dimoc, the Social Action for Development Council of the Catholic Mission said that gambling was minimized with proper coordination with the provincial government and the provincial police command.

“With the on going municipal fiestas, we observed that aside from games and amusements, gambling such as salisi, peryahan and some other activities were tolerated by some officials reasoning out that this is a source of funds for the town fiesta thus we have to come in to put a stop to all of these,” Dimoc said.

Gov. Teddy Baguilat issued a directive to all municipal mayors to prohibit gambling which includes salisi and peryahan, drop balls and others in the celebration of town fiestas.

Parish priest Marion Buyagawan said the move of the Catholic Mission to intervene in prohibiting gambling was not palatable to some government elected officials who wanted gaming during the Lagawe town fiesta dubbed Kulpid Lagawe on April 23-25. Kulpi is an Ifugao term which means rest after the planting season.

Buyagawan said the group was successful in stopping gambling with the help of concerned citizens.

Funds were raised to defray transportation of the operators who came as early as first week of April.

The group has to shell out P30,000 for the purpose and continued to raise funds for the prizes of the different activities for the town fiesta.

Buyagawan said donations are pouring in for the operators who are planning to open a foundation in order to raise funds for the next fiestas to come.

“This is the very reason why the municipal government allowed fund raising activities for the town fiesta,” he said.

Meanwhile, the religious congregation in the municipality of Kiangan also met and drafted an appeal to the municipal government to prevent the conduct of gambling activities in the forthcoming town fiesta scheduled on April 30 to May 3.

Parish Rector Samuel Maximo of Kiangan said different religious leaders in the town met to make a common stand against gambling.

In a letter signed by five pastors from the different religious sectors and the Catholic Mission, they appealed to Kiangan Mayor Jonathan Cuyahon never to allow the operation of gambling in celebrating the annual town fiesta.

The signatories claimed gambling is evil, illegal, it could disrupt peace and order and a bad influence on children or minors since they could steal money or anything o they could gamble.

The five pastors who signed the manifesto were Allen Munda of the United Church of Christ in Philippines, Marcos Battolon, Philip Dayag of the Christ is the Answer Church, Alfran Martin of the Channels of Jesus Christ Church and Arsenio Dulnuan of the Love of Christ Ministry.

Ex-Ifugao solon now farming in hometown

KIANGAN, Ifugao- Former Ifugao congressman and governor Gualberto Lumauig is back to farming in his hometown of Alfonso Lista this province.

During his visit to this historic town of Ifugao to pay homage to the late brother of his mother-in-law, Santiago Balajo, a decorated World War II veteran and also considered the oldest Ifugao war veteran, Lumauig said he is enjoying this new life -- farming.

Away from the tumultuous world of politics, one of his goals now is to be a successful farmer to help solve the problem of rice shortage.

He said he is now enjoying a rustic yet fulfilling life which he never experienced before while in politics.

Speaking from experience, Lumauig said adapting new technology and better farming methods can increase rice yield.

This can still be improved if a rice farmer is always mindful to the rudiments of how to improve his rice production.

The 200 cavans that can be harvested per hectare is achievable, but this requires the commitment of the farmer to apply the appropriate methods needed, he said.

To help the rice farmers maximize their production and inspire them to maintain their commitment, government assistance such as improved irrigation and financial assistance for capital are needed, Lumauig said.

Of course good governance is a necessary ingredient. With good officials, he added, a community could be developed for more progress citing Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat as an example if the province wants to be better in the future.

Asked of any plan for a political comeback, Lumauig said he will wait until 2010. “Meanwhile I can concentrate on how to improve more in my farming. -- Dan B. Codamon


BFAR to revive lobster, sea urchin industry in Cagayan coastal towns

TUGUEGARAO CITY – After its tilapia production has made headway, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is now into reviving two high-value aquatic resources, whose supply has been depleted due to destructive fishing practices.

The rolling waves of a beach at Barangay Taggat in Cagayan’s northernmost Claveria town served as venue for the BFAR here in providing a local fisher’s association with the needed technology to help them again propagate sea urchin (Tripneustes gratilla) and lobster, both high-value delicacies.

Also both highly priced favorites at fancy restaurants, the two are expected to make a comeback as the BFAR regional office awarded to the local fishers association here stock enhancement technology and culture medium intended to propagate both species.

“The booming recreation and tourism industry at the Cagayan Economic Zone at Santa Ana is a potential market for both sea urchin and lobster,” said Dr. Jovita Ayson, BFAR director for Cagayan Valley.

According to the Fisheries bureau, sea urchin, locally known as maritangtang, were once abundant in the area. But their populations started to dwindle due to indiscriminate gathering in the 1990s.

In order to jumpstart the natural regeneration of sea urchins, the agency in collaboration with the local government unit, awarded five pieces of half-cubic-meter cages with bamboo frame and plastic screen as culture medium for the said sea urchins, and stocked with 3,000 juveniles.

BFAR said the initial stock had come from produce of a similar project at Santa Ana, another coastal town here known for its delectable marine resources.

For lobster production, meanwhile, the project uses a similar structure, but larger cage, with feed usually being trash fish and seaweeds.

Although still being gathered in the region, lobster is already rare, as most lobster produce is sent to the metropolis.

Likewise, the stock of sea urchins will be fed with seaweeds (Sargassum) present in the area, until they are ready for harvest, which is within six to eight months.

The culture area for sea urchins doubles as mini-reproductive reserves are known as ‘free spawners,’ said Dr. Evelyn Ame, BFAR research head here. This means
fertilization occurs in the water where eggs and sperm are released.

Additionally, the lobster cage, will serve as temporary shelter for gravid or egg-bearing females to enable them to release their eggs in safety. “This will ensure regeneration (of species),” Ame said, since the fishermen will no longer harvest the pregnant females. – CL



Cops uproot P90-M marijuana in Ilocos Sur, Benguet towns
By Freddie G. Lazaro

CAMP PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur — Police uprooted fully grown marijuana plants and seedlings, valued at P90.6 million, at a mountainous area at the disputed boundary of Ilocos Sur and Benguet, it was reported.

Three hectares of marijuana plantation with some 300,000 fully grown marijuana plants and 15,000 Marijuana seedlings were situated in two areas straddling Sitio Bekes, Licungan, Sugpon, Ilocos Sur, and Barangay Sayangan, Kibungan, Benguet.
Senior Insp. Greg Guerrero, Sugpon police station chief, stated in his report to Senior Supt.Virgilio G. Fabros, Ilocos Sur police director, that his "assets" in the place

provided the information about the presence of big marijuana plantations in the area.

Chief Insp. Julius Suriben, Senior Insp. Guerrero, Insp. Nilo Racoma and PO2 Benson Abaco of the Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency led policemen in uprooting the marijuana plants.

Guerrero reported that the uprooted 300,000 fully- grown Marijuana plants had an estimated street value of R90 million, while the uprooted 15, 000 marijuana seedlings were valued at P600,000.

"The estimate of the value of the uprooted marijuana plants was based on the standards set by the Dangerous Drug Board," Guerrero said.

"Most of the uprooted marijuana plants were destroyed at the site in the presence of local officials, and samples of uprooted marijuana plants were brought to the Sugpon police station and were later turned over to police provincial office for proper disposition," Guerrero also said.

It was reported that no cultivator was arrested during the operation.

Tobacco farmers offer to plant palay
By Teddy Molina

NARVACAN, Ilocos Sur – The country’s tobacco farmers are raring to join the government efforts to solve the rice crisis.

Their plan is to plant palay in 3,335 hectares of tobacco lands in the northern provinces.

In a letter to Administrator Carlitos Encarnacion of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), Carlos Cachola, president of the Philippine Association of Tobacco-Based Cooperatives (PATCO), offered to participate in the “accelerated rice production effort” of the Department of Agriculture.

Cachola said the 3,335 hectares of tobacco lands targeted for palay production would generate 16,675 metric tons of the staple.

The effort will cover five tobacco-growing provinces ‑ Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Abra ‑ and will involve 6,670 tobacco farmers.

The group asked to be provided with production assistance, including a subsidy of one cavan of certified palay seeds per hectare.  

Encarnacion endorsed the PATCO letter to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
It will not be the first time that tobacco farmers would plant rice. Many of them have been raising the staple once a year, ahead of the tobacco-cropping season. 

Cachola said palay-producing tobacco farmers have posted an average yield of 5.12 tons per hectare in the last nine years.

Their output has reportedly beaten the national average yield of 2.93 tons per hectare for palay planted in rain-fed areas.

In Isabela, amid reports of a grim scenario of rice shortage predicted to last until 2010, the production of the country’s staple crop here is more than adequate to supply its domestic requirements as well as even support most of its yield to other regions needing rice supply, the agriculture office here said Sunday.

Danilo Tumamao, provincial agriculturist, said in Ilagan that the province, which has the highest rice yield per hectare among rice-producing provinces in the country, has achieved 283 percent self-sufficiency in rice, meaning that it produces 183 percent more than it consumes.

As a result, he said, a higher percentage of the rice production here is sent out of the province to support the growing consumption needs of other provinces of the country, including the metropolis. 

“Actually, 70 percent of provincial rice production goes out of the province,” Tuma­mao said, but despite this, the province still receives a buffer allocation from the National Food Authority. 

According to recent reports from the Department of Agriculture, the province produced at least 1.03 million metric tons, second only to Nueva Ecija’s production of around 1.8 million metric tons.



Bemedalled Dagupan jail warden relieved

DAGUPAN CITY – The multi-awarded jail warden here was relieved last Wednesday following complaints the official had a drinking session with inmates.

Jail Senior Insp. Roque Constantino Sison III was sacked from his post when the complaint against him was sent through a text message to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology regional office accusing him of having a drinking spree with some detainees.

Sison didn’t answer his cellular telephone when newsmen tried to contact him to get his comment.

The BJMP regional office confirmed Sison was relieved.
A jail guard who requested anonymity said Sison packed up his belongings night of April 23.

He refused to give other details, saying they were not allowed to talk about the issue.
A source said Sison answered a memorandum issued him by his superior regarding the complaint.

Sison was instrumental in making the Dagupan City Jail the best city jail in the country in 2002 and 2003 and was himself a back-to-back awardee as Best City Jail Warden in 2004.

He reassumed his post only three months ago and instituted several reform programs for the inmates.

Prior to his sudden relief, the inmates had a noise barrage protesting the result of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Jail Senior Insp. Narcisa Ramirez, warden for female inmates, was also ordered to answer a written complaint against her by the detainees who accused her of serving them spoiled food, denying inmates the privilege to go outside their cell to enjoy the sun and perform regular exercises, and banning conjugal visits.

Ramirez was not relieved but placed under investigation. – Jennelyn Mondejar



Angeles cop chief sacked over ‘raid’ on STL office
By George Trillo

ANGELES CITY – This city’s police chief was relieved from his position yesterday following the “raid’’ last week on the office of the small town lottery (STL) franchisee here where a pregnant employee was wounded.

“I am compelled to relieve him because of that incident,” Chief Superintendent Errol Pan, Central Luzon police director, told newsmen, referring to Senior Superintendent George Gaddi.

Pan designated Senior Superintendent Edilberto Castillo, police chief of Malolos City in Bulacan, as Gaddi’s replacement.

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office said it will file contempt, criminal and other charges against the city government and the police for padlocking the STL outlet of its local agent, Lake Tahoe Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Lake Tahoe).

Armed policemen reportedly swooped down “commando style” on the Lake Tahoe office and arrested 34 of its personnel and bet collectors, even bystanders. A gunshot hit the right leg of employee Florita Beltran, who is six months’ pregnant.

Pan insisted through that Gaddi was relieved over the Lake Tahoe incident, not over observations that jueteng, prostitution and crimes against persons and property have been on the rise in the city.

Romualdo Quinones, PCSO manager for special projects, said Lake Tahoe is the legal agent of his agency for STL operations here.

“The mayor is not authorized to close down STL agents unless there is a court order.
Only the top management of the PCSO and its board can stop STL operations in a locality,” he said.

PCSO legal officer Larry Patiag said the city government has been trying to stop the operations of Lake Tahoe for its alleged failure to obtain a mayor’s permit.

“But there is a pending injunction from the regional trial court of Angeles City against the city government’s move to shut down Lake Tahoe. This injunction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals only last week,” Patiag said.

“There is contempt of court in the raid,” he said, adding that criminal and administrative charges are also being studied amid the violent raid that resulted in the wounding of the Lake Tahoe employee.

Patiag said the PCSO has asked the Office of Government Corporate Counsel to take legal action against the city government.

“There have been at least three Supreme Court decisions affirming that STL in localities need not have permits from local governments since it is a national project,” he said.

“Local government units are creations of the national government and could not, therefore, impose its will on the national,” he said.

City Hall sources said the mayor’s office would justify the raid amid allegations that STL was merely being used as front for jueteng, a popular illegal numbers game.
Last week, police arrested 23 suspected jueteng bet collectors in a raid.

Those arrested, according to other sources, were working for a certain Ong, a jueteng operator reportedly based in Lucena City, Quezon.

“Apart from STL, we actually have an independent jueteng operation in Angeles,” one of the sources said.



Gay doc aims for circumcision record worldwide
By Jerry Padilla

SAN FERNANDO, La Union – A gay doctor here is aiming for a slot a the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest circumciser of the most number of patients in an hour.

Dr. Jessie Miranda, a law graduate who was once president of the La Union Gay Society, is confident of setting the record after taking only five seconds to circumcise an eight-year-old boy from Barangay San Agustin here and 66 patients in one hour.

“I think this is the first time that a doctor like me is aiming for the record and I know I was the first because I conducted research if there is such a record, but there’s none,” Miranda told media during a break from circumcision.

Miranda said he thought of the activity to establish a record and for San Fernando because he will be submitting his documents to Guinness.

“We are thinking then of an event that will establish a record for San Fernando, so this is what we thought of,” he said.

Miranda’s longest circumcision did not exceed a minute.

Starting at 8:15 a.m. Miranda circumcised boys from different barangays of San Fernando City, who lined up at the City Health Office on April 19.

Miranda took a break at 9:15 a.m. to check how many of his more than 700 patients have already been circumcised.

Using a laser machine, Miranda occupied a 4x10-meter air-conditioned room at the health office.

He was positioned between two beds, a patient in each of them, and was assisted by six health workers – three for each bed – to apply betadine and place surgical plaster on the penis of each patient.

The circumcision starts with each patient being injected with anesthesia in a separate room after which they line up for Miranda’s room.

Inside the room, a patient lies down on the bed and the health workers prepare him before Miranda places the tip of his laser to the skin of the penis.

The laser will cut and burn the skin, bloodless and painless, and the operation needs no stitches.

San Fernando City Mayor Pablo Ortega helped Miranda organize the medical event, which coincided with Ortega’s “Operation Tuli” project spearheaded by the CHO under Dr. Eduardo Posadas and several non-government organizations.

Aside from the record, Miranda said he also wants to share his knowledge with his townmates, particularly those who cannot afford the medical expenses of circumcision in hospitals.

“I know that some cannot afford the P3,000 to P5,000 expenses so I offered this activity,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and this is only the first time that it was properly documented,” he said.

Ortega thanked Miranda, a former city councilor who is now the supervisor of the Auxiliary Wet Market here, for conducting the activity free.

“I hope for his success and I’m glad that this activity was conceived because this is for hygiene purposes especially for the young boys,” Ortega said.

Ortega said Miranda initially scheduled the activity as a gift for his birthday celebration on April 3, but it was moved yesterday due to his load of activities.



Pannakidangadang para ti nailian a demokrasya

Maysa a nalabaga a kablaaw kadakayo amin manipud iti Cordillera Peoples' Democratic Front! Kasta met nga ipadanon ti CPDF ti pammadayaw kadagiti umili ken opisyales ti Licuan-Baay partikular iti Poblacion, ken ti organisasyon a Baay-Licuan Takderan Omnu a Kalintegan (BALITOK) iti panag-host yo iti maika-24th a selebrasyon ti Cordillera Day.

Naimpanawenan ti tema ti Cordillera Day 2008 a Labanan ti Panagraut dagiti Minas ken Terorismo ti Estado.

Agarup 61% ti kabuklan nga erya ti intero a rehiyon tayo ket isalsalda ni Gloria Arroyo kadagiti dadakkel a kompanya ti minas, a kas met la ti ar-aramiden na iti dadduma pay a paset ti Pilipinas. Nasikap ti rehimen Arroyo ken dagiti dadakkel a kompanya ti minas nga agaramat kadagiti narurugit a taktika, panangallilaw, panagsuitik, ken panagpasuksok tapno banniitan ti umili.

Mangiwarsi da ti sangkabassit a pondo kasukat ti dagdaga tayo a ginasut a tawen a nangbibiag kadagiti kaapuan ken adu a kaputotan. Agusar da kadagiti lokal nga opisyales ken kakailian a propesyonal a mangpaamo iti rikna ti umili ken mangpangudel iti takder a mangsalaknib kadagiti ansestral a daga ken kinabaknang.

Makitulag ken makisosyo da kadagiti sumagmamano a babaknang ti ili babaen iti "Memorandum of Agreement" tapno makaserrek da iti ansestral a daga. Pagparangen da a ti minas ket mangisangpet ti panagdur-as ken panggedan, idinto a napaneknekan iti kapadasan ti Lepanto Mines ken dadduma pay a minas iti Benguet a sumagmamano laengen ti kasapulan a minero gapu ta makina ti agminas, ken dakkel a didigra ti ipaay ti polusyon ti minas kas iti mapaspasamak iti Mankayan ken dadduma pay a komunidad ken naperdi a taltalon iti abay ti Abra River.

Ti Licuan-Baay ket gandat a serreken ti Olympus Pacific Minerals, maysa a kompanya a kukua ti ganggannaet a Canada, kakumplot ti Abra Mining & Industrial Company (AMIC) ken Jabel Mining. Gapu iti proteksyon ti mersenaryo nga 41st IB ken 503rd Infantry Brigade kadagitoy a minas, napangas da a sumsumrek uray iti sango ti napinget nga oposisyon ti umili. Iti boundary ti Abra, Mountain Province, ken Ilocos Sur wenno AMPIS erya, agkatkatay a sumrek ti Phelps Dodge, maysa kadagiti kadakkelan a kompanya ti minas ti imperyalismo nga US. Gandat pay ti Phelps Dodge nga ag-explorasyon iti uneg ti ansestral a daga ti Balatoc ken Guinaang, Pasil.
Sumsumrek met ti Wolfland Resources iti ansestral land ti tribu a Guilayon, Tabuk. Ken dadduma pay a nakawaras iti nadumaduma a lugar ti rehiyon. Gastosen dagitoy a kompanya ti uray inggana 40% ti iserrek da nga inisyal a kapital para iti nadumaduma a taktika ken maniobra tapno laeng allukoyen, allilawen ken alaen ti pammalubos wenno "free and prior informed consent" ti umili! Nalaka da ngamin a subboten to ti gastos da babaen iti binilbilyon a ganansya apaman a malukatan dagiti minas.

Kakuyog dagiti minas ti panangibulos ti rehimen Arroyo ti adu a mersenaryo a tropa ti AFP/PNP, panagrekrut iti CAFGU, ken panangimula iti adu a sipsip. Ti Cordillera ken Ilocos ket paset ti saklaw ti napeklan a 5th Infantry Division. Kakadlaw a dagiti luglugar a target a maminas ti nakaibukbokan dagiti adu a tropa ti AFP ken PNP. Kanayon a kagiddan ti militar dagiti proyekto a sumrek kadagiti ili tayo. Adda ti 41st IB ken 50th IB a yunit ti 503rd Brigade iti Abra ken Ilocos ; adda ti 54th IB ken paset ti 77th IB a yunit ti 502nd Brigade iti Mountain Province, Ifugao ken Northern Benguet; ken adda ti 45th IB, 21st IB ken 77th IB a yunit ti 501st Brigade iti Kalinga ken Apayao.

Itay laeng nabiit, manipud March 2 inggana April 12, nangisayangkat ti 5th ID iti maysa a naulpit nga operasyon a nangtarget iti makunkuna nga "AMPIS Complex" a sakup dagiti sumaganad: Pananuman, Tubtuba, Beew, Alangtin ken Dilong iti Tubo; Lamag, Bab-asig, Patiakan iti Quirino; ken Dandanac, Tamboan iti Besao.

Sangagabsuon a tropa ti naibulos. Nagaramat da ti heligunships nga MG-520 ken fighter planes nga F5 ken OV-10 a nangitinnag iti nasurok 95 a bomba a 250 lbs ken 500 lbs iti nagsasaruno nga aldaw. Kagiddan daytoy ti awan sarday a panagbombomba iti kabambantayan babaen iti 60 mm ken 81 mm mortar ken 105 mm howitzer a kanyon a naipwesto iti uneg mismo ti sityo Pananuman. Awan kaes-eskan a binusbos ti militar ti minilmilyon a piso a bomba ken bala ngem awan ti natamaan da malaksid iti kakaisuna a "Ka Labaw" ni Lakay Lay-ab.

Iti bangir na, nabaelan dagiti natataer a komander ken mannakigubat ti New People's Army a sanguen dagitoy nga atake ti kabusor gapu iti kinahusto ken kinalinteg ti rebolusyon ken awan kupas a suporta dagiti umili a pagserserbian da. Awan nagmamaayan ti superyor a pwersa, armas, ken treyning ti militar iti sango ti mas superyor a panangaramat ti NPA iti umannatup a taktika ken teknika ti gerilya a pannakigubat ken ti nairut a silpo ti umili ken ti NPA.

Ti ambisyoso a gandat ti militar a mangparmek iti 17 a larangan a gerilya iti Pilipinas iti tallo laeng a bulan manipud Enero inggana Marso 2008 ket napaay ken awan nagmamaayan na. Uray ti dua a larangan nga ipangpangas na a naparmek ditoy rehiyon tayo ket awan kinaagpayso na.

Ti dangadang laban iti Chico Dams ken iti Cellophil Resources Corporation idi panawen ti diktador a Marcos ket napnuan kadagiti naimbalitokan nga adal. Nagballigi dagitoy a dangadang ti umili gapu ta adda dagiti soldados da – ti New People's Army – a nangpaay kadagiti karurungsotan nga atake dagiti pwersa militar ti agar-ari a dasig ken ti amo da nga imperyalista. Awan nagmamaayan ti imbaon ni Marcos a Presidential Guard Batallion a manggwardya iti Cellophil gapu iti determinado a panangsupyat ti umili ti Abra ken kabangibang na a probinsya. Kasta met idiay Mountain Province ken Kalinga, awan ti nagbanagan ti imbulos ni diktador Marcos ken dagiti berdugo nga heneral na a Phillippine Constabulary nga idadauluan idi ni Hen. Fidel Ramos a manggwardya iti NPC ken dagiti nagsasaruno a yunit ti militar.

Uray ti nagkombina nga MBLT 6, 1st GHQ ken 54th Battalions a nangiwayat iti Oplan Chumanchill, kaunaan a pigsa-brigada nga operasyon ditoy Cordillera tapno parmeken ti dumaldalluyon a protesta ken oposisyon laban iti Chico Dams ket awan naaramidan na iti pursigido a tignay dagiti umili ti Bontoc ken Kalinga, kaabay ti NPA.
Kabaliktad daytoy ti napasamak iti Ambuklao ken Binga dams idi 1950s idiay Benguet no sadino nga awan pay ti NPA idi a panawen. Gapu ta awan ti armado a pannakidangadang ti umili, nalayos ti dagdaga dagiti kakailian tayo nga Ibaloy.

Nasuroken a 50 tawen ti napalabas, ngem inggana itatta, saan pay laeng a nabaybayadan dagiti dagdaga da.

Iti daytoy a gundaway, ipadanon tayo kadagiti kameng ti AFP, PNP, CAFGU, ken BIN nga adda nga agdengdengngeg dita ig-igid – iti panagpausar yo kas naranggas nga instrumento ti estado, dakayo ti mangtuktukod iti pannakaitantan ti pannakarippuog ti turay ni GMA. Dakayo ti kangrunaan nga instrumento na iti ranggas ken pannakalabsing dagiti karbengan-tao. Adda kadi dayaw ti panagserbi iti naulpit a rehimen – mangpatpatay kadagiti rumbeng a protektaran na ken agserserbi iti turay a mangraraut iti ili tayo?

Nadayaw kadi ti mangtraydor iti mismo a kadasig na, iti naruay a masa a naggapuan na? Nadayaw kadi ti maisubsubo kayo iti labanan bayat nga adda dagiti heneral yo a bumakbaknang iti panagkurakot ken panagkusit uray iti pondo a pang-operasyon ken ramit pangkombat yo? Bayat nga agbisbisin kayo no tiempo ti operasyon ken agtakaw kayo iti mula ken dinguen ti masa, adda met dagiti opisyales iti ngatuen yo nga agnamnam-ay iti biag da. Saan kayo a tuleng, bulsek, ken awanan puot kadagitoy a mapaspasamak. La ketdi tumakder kayo iti kinalinteg ken kinapudno ken makikaykaysa kayo iti umili, nalaklaka a marippuog ni Arroyo.

Ti agtutuon a krisis iti agdama – krisis iti gasolina, krisis iti bagas, krisis iti makan, krisis iti politika – kagiddan ti awan sarday ken awanan bain a panagtaktakaw iti binilbilyon a pondo ti umili – ket saan nga agsardeng agingga a di ta'y paksyaten ti turay ti rehimen nga US-Arroyo ken ti kabuklan a mala-kolonyal ken mala-pyudal a sistema iti Pilipinas. Saan nga umanay ti people power ken adda patingga ti ligal a panagtignay.

Agasem ti nasurok 800 a saan nga armado a sibiliyan, aktibista a kameng ken lider dagiti ligal nga organisasyon a pintatpatay dagiti berdugo a death squad na! Malaksid pay kadagiti nadukot ken saanen a mabirokan, ken rinibribu a biktima ti amin a klase ti kinaranggas. Adun dagiti martir, adu unayen ti abuso ken panangparigat. Saan tayo nga urayen a kumaro pay. Saan tayo nga urayen a dumanon ti kabusor iti paraangan sakbay nga agtignay.

Saan tayo nga urayen nga adda matay a kailian, kabsat, wenno annak tayo sakbay a lumaban. Rumbeng nga ibelleng ken iwaksi tayo ti panagkampante ken panagduadua, ti petiburges a panagrelax-relax, ti aglaladut ken agalla-alla a panagtignay, ken ti legalismo nga agpapaigalut iti uneg ti komportable ken akikid nga opisina. Ita ti panawen ti rebolusyon!

Kasla agmauyong nga aso ti rehimen nga US-Arroyo iti kinairteng ken kinarungsot ti Oplan Bantay Laya 2 a nakapaturong saan laeng nga iti rebolusyonaryo a tignayan no di ket uray kadagiti legal ken progresibo a puersa. Inartapan ti rehimen Arroyo ti kinadakes ken kinaranggas dagiti napalabas nga aso-aso a rehimen.

Kakailian ken kapadak a Cordilleran, saan tayo ipalubos ti kontra-umili ken kontra-pagilian a rehimen Arroyo a mangguyod kadagiti annak tayo a pagbalinen da a CAFGU, AFP, PNP, CPLA, BIN, CI, wenno sipsip a panglaban ken pangpatay kadatayo. Ketdi, allukoyen ken wayaan tayo dagiti annak tayo a tumipon iti NPA ken tumipon kadagiti pannakidangadang a mangitantandudo iti pudno a demokrasya ken bukod-a-panangikeddeng ditoy Kordilyera ken intero a sangapagilian – daytoy ti natan-ok a dalan a rumbeng a suroten ti agdama ken sumarsaruno pay a kaputotan.
Fetad! ti panawagan tayo iti rehiyon Cordillera ken Ilocos – labanan ti Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

Di tayo lipatan a ti kombinasyon ti tuloy-tuloy a rebolusyonaryo nga armado ken pangmasa a pannakidangadang ti nangpasardeng iti Chico dams ken ti Cellophil. Isu met laeng ti inar-aramat tayo tapno labanen dagiti simmarsaruno a nangingisit a gandat ken aramid ti reaksyonaryo a gobyerno ken dagiti pagserserbian na a dadakkel nga apo't daga, komprador burgesya ken imperyalista nga ibusen ti kinabaknang ken dadaelen ti Kordilyera.

Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan
Cordillera People’s Democratic Front



Bahay kubo farming the answer to poverty?

With the rice “crisis,” the Filipinos will not go hungry if only they will follow the bahay kubo style of farming, according to government bureaucrats. Agriculturists and non-government organizations also advocate this.

Speaking before participants in the 2nd Kamalayang Bayan Civic Journalism Seminar at Ciudad Clemente in Bulacan last week, Felicito Espiritu Jr., of the Central Luzon Agriculture Office said that bahay kubo style of farming is synonymous to integrated farming.

If farmers will plant different crops in just one hectare, they will never go hungry, he said citing the crops mentioned in the folksong Bahay Kubo. Espiritu said aside from different crops, farmers can also have livestocks like chicken, ducks, pigs, and even goats along with a small fishpond that can double as a small farm reservoir, and fruit trees around their home lot.

“There are many ways on how we can survive aside from driving a tricycle, but it requires hard work and perseverance,” he said. Farmer leaders who participated in the day-long seminar affirmed Espiritu’s suggestions.

Apolinario Paguio of Barangay Kapitangan in Malolos and Melencio Domingo, the City Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Malolos said that it is possible. Paguio said he planted okra, patola, hot pepper, tomatoes, corn, string beans, along with some 30 mango trees and a number of jackfruit trees in his home lot and found the scheme feasible.

Along with the crops and trees, he said, he has chicken and goats while his small farm reservoir is
being used to raise tilapia. Paguio said Bahay Kubo farming style helped his family in securing food for the table.

He said that when his wife is preparing their lunch, she picks up ingredients including spices from their backyard. Domingo agreed that the Bahay kubo style of farming is also feasible but it requires a lot of patience on the part of the farmer.

According to participants, the quality of irrigation is one of the factors that threaten their productivity aside from availability of water itself which is dependent on the climate.

They agreed people must understand that they are actually contributing to the unpro­ductiveness of hectares of farmlands because irrigation water has been polluted by solid wastes thrown into waterways.

The bahay kubo style of farming being advocated is laudable. But majority of Filipinos don’t own lands. Most lands of this Banana Republic are owned by the rich and powerful few. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program is a failure as the landed have found a lot of loopholes in going around the law and thus, lands are left in their hands.

Unless the government is serious in implementing laws like on lands and social justice which would benefit majority of the poor and marginalized, poverty won’t be lessened or eradicated in the country.



How to change your luck

(Here an interesting article by Harriet La Barre. Read it. It might change your life.)

Luck is largely the result of taking appropriate action. When we’re passive, when we don’t take sufficient charge of our affairs, we’re victims of all kinds of back luck. Take, for example, a woman who complained that the dry cleaner ruined her slacks. “He ruined a suit of mine, too,” she told me, unconsciously revealing that she knew she was taking chances with this particular cleaner. My other friend, who got involved in her neighbor’s problems and wasted the day, revealed her pattern by her comment: “It always happens.” She allowed it to happen.

When we permit ourselves to accept such “bad luck” there are usually reasons. We may feel that we can’t or shouldn’t take action. Some of us have unconscious fears. Others tend to blame society for things that go wrong in their lives. As Dr. Natalie Shainess, a psychiatrist, comments, “Society has helped create the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the derelicts. But if we place the blame on others, it leads us away from looking within and facing up to our own part in what is going on.”

It also promotes passivity. If we continue to carry our childhood grievances with us, to feel overwhelmed by bad luck because everything is our parents’ fault, for instance, we won’t make any attempt to improve our lot. Regardless of who is to blame, it’s up to all of us to take charge of our lives as best we can, to take it from here.

Dr. Shainess believes that once you recognize your own role in creating less-than-perfect situations, you are able to make changes. That’s when things get better. Where fate, destiny and luck are concerned, all of us have been given certain resources, abilities – and disabilities. What you do with what you’ve got helps determine your luck. “The fault,” as the Shakespearean quotation goes, “is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

The more we act to change our luck, the more we take charge, the more secure we feel. As Dr. Shainess explains it, “The minute a person does something positive, he feels good; he feels less angry, because mastery and activity are conditions of healthy life.”

All kinds of signals will help you recognize when to let go of bad situations. Repetition is a red flag, a sign that you should make a change. A woman friend of mine who has had three unhappy marriages sighs, “I’m so unlucky in love.” Yet each time, she picked a man with an alcoholic problem. When we repeat frustrating failures and errors in specific areas in our lies again and again, the accumulation of bad results often makes us conclude that we have back luck in husbands, or any of a thousand other things.

If you begin to see a pattern of things going wrong, ask yourself, “What is my role in this? Why do I feel bound or trapped in this situation? What makes me complain about it, rather than doing something about it? In effect, be self-critical.

One aspect of self-criticism involves the ability to evaluate and criticize your personal relationships. Perhaps you have problem-ridden friends who are emotional dependents – who lean on you so heavily that it’s an emotional drain. We ought to examine our excuses for wasting time with emotional dependents. What really lures us?

Dr. Shainess says, “People get sucked into their friends’ problems because they really want to be, because it deflects them from doing more difficult things. It is possible to be caring to friends without letting them absorb all one’s time.” So, if you feel pressured and overburdened, examine your own role to see if perhaps you’re not being agreeable.

Sometimes when we’re anxious about things or bothered by them we tend to push them out of our awareness. Many of us avoid paying attention by daydreaming about moving to an island in the Caribbean, by turning to alcohol or overheating, or going out and spending money on something we don’t need. These are actions that deflect good luck. And they often occur when we’ve had a day of misfortunes.

Instead of escaping from frustrating experiences in this way, why not ask yourself: “What can I do that will make me feel more competent?” Forgo the drink or pointless telephone chatter or the refrigerator raids. Instead, do a task – even some household chore you dislike, like cleaning out a messy closet. That single, small accomplishment will promote new feelings of pleasure and security because you’re please with yourself for taking charge.

Making little changes makes you like yourself better. And when you like yourself better, you begin to do more useful things and improve your life in small ways, which can lead to bigger ways. And that, of course, is luck.


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