PGMA orders more aid for Cagayan Valley victims: Flashfloods leave 12 dead; 35,000 families displaced

>> Sunday, November 30, 2008

TUGUEGARAO CITY – President Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered more aid for residents of Cagayan and Isabela provinces badly hit by flashfloods which left 12 people and left thousands of residents homeless last week.

This, as Cagayan extended its five-month state of calamity from the flashfloods. Meanwhile, acting on calls from Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, the provincial board declared Isabela under a state of calamity after more than 35,000 families or about 100,000 residents were displaced with around 25,000 hectares of farmlands inundated, leaving millions of pesos worth of damaged crop.

Padaca said this would enable the provincial government’s calamity fund to be immediately released to affected towns that need further assistance for the immediate restoration of flood-damaged vital public facilities.

The Cagayan provincial board led by Vice Gov. Leonides Fausto meanwhile decided to extend the state of calamity in the province since July.

Fausto said the extended calamity state was prompted by the continuous rains in the province that already has caused thousands of residents fleeing their homes and millions worth of agricultural products destroyed.

The provincial disaster coordinating council said nearly 29,000 families were displaced by the five-day floods, particularly in the city as one of the worst hit areas in Cagayan Valley.

Earlier, the city was placed under a state of calamity after more than 7,000 families or around 9,000 people from 41 of the city’s 49 barangays were hit by floods.

Local officials said five people already perished from the floods.

The continuous rains were brought by a cold front, which according to the state weather bureau, will continue to affect parts of Northern Luzon until the end of the year.

Fausto said they would prioritize assistance to families affected by the flooding as well as the rehabilitation of damaged crops and agricultural infrastructure.

The Philippine National Red Cross said nearly 65,000 people were displaced in Cagayan.
PNRC deputy secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said they have rendered rescue and relief operations to distressed families in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and Aurora that were severely hit by flashfloods and landslides due to heavy rains.

“A total of 18,379 families or 64,357 persons have been affected by the flashfloods in Cagayan province,” Pang said.

In Enrile town, the floods displaced 3,713 families in nine villages, Pang said.

Pang reported that Tuguegarao City had 35 villages underwater with 5,936 families or 22,661 people displaced.

The PNRC added the city’s gymnasium and village hall accommodated 48 families. In Gattaran town, 19 vil¬lages with 321 families are affected and 30 families were evacuated to the public market.

Two villages and 95 families are affected in Tuao, while six villages with 338 families are affected in Amulong; while Alcala had 25 villages affected where 4,000 families or 24,300 persons were victimized by the calamity with 283 staying in the municipal gymnasium.

In Solana, 17 villages with 3,976 families or 17,396 people were affected while 150 families are in Mamba Gym.

The reported casualties in Cagayan also brought the death toll to seven people perished by the floods that included the neighboring province of Isabela.

Isabela’s capital town of Ila¬gan has been under calamity state after 71 of the town’s 91 barangays went underwater, forcing at least 4,000 families to evacuate leaving 5,000 hectares of crops destroyed.

Officials said the region lost at least P200 million worth of crops, fishery products and infrastructure facilities damaged by the floods, which also affected or displaced at least 50,000 families or nearly 150,000 individuals.

Isabela provincial agriculture chief Danilo Tumamao said the floods damaged more than 20,000 hectares of farmlands in the province, which translates into 50,000 metric tons of rice and corn production losses.

Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca blamed illegal logging in the province that aggravated the situation.

Padaca said they would give priority to the construction of water impounding dams and irrigation projects to cushion the effect of floods in the province.

The PNRC said 28 families were evacuated to Bagumba¬yan North Central Elementary School in Barangay Bagumba¬yan, while nine families are in Batong Labang Elementary School in Barangay Batong Labang.

The Department of Public Works and Highways said more than P7 million worth of infrastructure was damaged in Aurora province.

DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane said an initial estimate of P7.73 million worth of infrastructure was ruined by the flashfloods in the region.

The DPWH identified the affected road networks as the Nueva Ecija – Aurora Road along Barangay Villa in Maria Aurora. The road sustained the biggest damage at the cost of P5 million.

Also damaged is the Cabatangan Bridge, sections of the Baler-Casiguran Road along Pimpolosan Section, Ditawini Section, Sala Creek, Barangay Simabahan Section, Bungo Section, Dibacong-Bibut Section, Dibot Bridge, Montay Creek, Pugo Timber Bridge, and the Dinadiawan Madella Road along Kilometer 301 to 30 remain not passable to motorists due to landslides and damaged bridges. – Reports from CL, RDCC


Graft raps filed vs Buguias mayor, 3 department heads

By Larry Madarang

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Graft charges were filed against Buguias town mayor Felicino Bayacsan and three other department heads for misuse of funds by the municipal council headed by BuguiasVice Mayor Melchor Diclas recently.

The complaint was filed on Nov. 20, at the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila based on the 2007 Commission on Audit report.

Aside from Bayacsan, Editha Daoiuis, municipal budget officer; Marcelino Endi, municipal accountant; and Anacieta Suyot, municipal treasurer were also named in the complaint.

Diclas, and municipal councilors Julius Amos, Vicente Kitongan, Francisco Lesino, Dione Baucas, Samson Wayan, Basilio Tumpap, Jr., Daniel Iguado, Francis Wilson, and Arsebino Talabis filed the charge of “malversation of public funds” against Bayacsan, Daoauis, Endi and Suyot a day after the council unanimously approved a resolution of complaints against the mayor and the three department heads for “malversation of public funds.”

The resolution stated “under the annual audit report for fiscal year 2007, it would be gleaned that there is rampant irregularity in the disbursement of the general funds”.

The resolution said municipal council as a whole checked with the Land Bank of the Philippines (the depository band of Buguias), the bank statement of the municipal government and discovered the alleged presence of juggling of funds from the trust fund to general fund without the presence of an appropriation ordinance or resolution from the municipal council.

According to the complainants, “appropriated funds were not used for the specific purpose”.

Among the summary of significant findings and recommendations of the office of the provincial auditor signed by Zosimo Solano Jr.: “The municipal government spent the entire amount of P6734, 567.00 which was allocated for its annual development plan for maintenance and other operating expenses contrary to the provisions of Dept. of Interior and Local Government-Department of Bedget and Management joint memo-circular no. 1 s 2005.”

“A review of the expenditures per responsibility center for 20% Municipal Development Plan showed that the total of P4,936,668.08 was spent for personal services as well as maintenance and other operating expenses. As a result, the 20% annual development plan failed to achieve the physical developments and livelihood programs which the DILG-DBM circular intends each local government unit to implement for the benefit of its constituents”, the report stated.

Buguias is a third class municipality in Benguet with an annual budget of P45.5 million.


Cancer patient healed through juice fasting

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Cancer patient Juan Lisweg has felt much better since he went on a 42-day juice fasting treatment here at Sagada’s St Theodore’s Hospital.“I can now urinate regularly and without back pains,” the 65-year-old Lisweg said.

A native of adjacent Besao town, but now resides at Tabuk, Kalinga, Lisweg had juice fasting for 10 days when he discovered he was able to urinate normally. “I had to tolerate the bitter juices of camote leaves to get healed”, he said. Lisweg did not take any other other medicine, except for vegetable and fruit juices.

Lisweg had been at the STH for two months now on a juice fasting treatment since Sept. 13, since he hopped from one hospital to another for a year. He left for home Nov. 17.

With abnormal urination and severe back pain, Lisweg went first for consultation at Tabuk Hospital.

He was not getting well so he went to Mandaluyong Hospital where medical personnel found him with 4th degree prostate cancer metastasized to the bones. He was transferred to Philippine General Hospital for more treatment to no avail.

At Bontoc General Hospital, medical staff told him he had to be castrated in order to save his life. The operation has a 50-50 chance of him surviving, he was told.

He opted not to and prayed that God will take care of everything if he was meant to join His maker. The question of whether to live or die changed, when Lisweg met Tom Coghill, STHS Manager of Integrative Medicine, who visited him at BGH.

Lisweg transferred to STHS and underwent juice fasting with the strict supervision of Coghill and Dr Clare Lalwet, STHS administrator.

“It is important also that you have to believe to get healed”, Lisweg said. “Believe also in God because he is the most powerful of all to make things happen.”

Already healed, Lisweg is happy to attend the wedding celebration of his two children in Baguio City, then he will be back again at his residence in Tabuk by January next year.

Dr Lalwet said they will be monitoring also the progress of Lisweg even if he is out of the hospital.

Juice fasting is part of STHS’ directions on integrative medicine. Closely akin to wellness and healing, integrative medicine looks at wholistic living from the kind of diet one takes to how one should raise nutritious and healthy food for well being and vitality.

This includes maintaining organically raised foods and having a healthy lifestyle- no fatty and processed foods and getting enough exercise.

The natural healing through juice fasting works through drinking juices extracted from fruits and vegetables.

For illnesses including hypertension and diabetes, one can go on juice fasting treatment for 30 days. STHS Integrative Medicine program recommends 42 days juice fasting for cancer patients.

“Fighting cancer through juice fasting lowers blood sugar thus weakening cancer cells. Taking in juice extracts also strengthens the immune system and cleanses the body through detoxification,” Coghill said.

Coghill from Great Britain, is author of five healing and fasting books, and owns a popular website on with 30,000 visitors a month.

Fasting allows the digestive system to rest and focus on healing. By taking in fruit and vegetable extracts, the body goes into fasting , the body breaks down fats, and dead and dying cells as fuel for the body’s energy.

For that pre-treatment diet, STHS’ juice fasting approach , cuts down intake of meat, sugar, white flour products and dairy and processed foods. The post treatment diet maintains the benefits gained through fasting. Juicing is recommended and maintenance of natural diet of fruits and vegetables.

For more information, you can visit or post your questions at Or better, visit St. Theodore’s Hospital, Sagada Mountain Province.


5 Victory Liner buses torched; 6 policemen, one civilian hurt

By Jennelyn Mondejar

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Ten armed men torched five buses parked at the terminal of Victory Liner here night of Nov. 26, shot and wounded six patrolling policemen, while a civilian suffered third-degree burns.

Gov. Amado Espino condemned the incident, saying it was an “unconscionable and arrogant display of terrorism, destabilizing the normal flow of economic activities.” Espino commended the wounded policemen and vowed to extend assistance to them.

Supt. Harris Fama, Lingayen police chief identified the wounded police officers as PO3s Daniel Sison and Alex de Guzman, PO2 Reynaldo Domalanta, and PO1s Herman Camba, Armeno Abarabar and Ramon Valencerina.

The cops were on patrol aboard a Toyota pick-up when they were shot as they stopped near the bus terminal on Avenida street.

Fama said the policemen, though hit, shot back, wounding some of their attackers who fled on board two vans.

The gunmen then proceeded to the nearby Victory Liner bus terminal and poured gasoline on five of the buses there, sending passengers into panic.

A bus conductor, identified as Villamor Muyanos, was also reportedly shot and wounded by the armed men.

The attackers fled after setting the buses on fire.

The bus company estimated damage from the attack at P30 million.

Police said they are looking into the possibility of involvement of communist rebels in the attacks.
Cops found caliber .45 shells at the scene. The policemen were armed with caliber 9-mm pistols.

In critical condition was civilian Villaflor Moyano who was inside one of the buses when they were torched at around 11:40 p.m.

Senior Supt. Percival Barba, provincial police director, said they were “looking at all angles.”
He said another Victory Liner bus was torched in the company’s terminal in Cubao, Quezon City recently including a unit of its sister company, Five Star, in San Fabian town several months ago.
The attackers reportedly approached a security guard, politely asked permission if they could make an inquiry, but instead disarmed him.

There were no passengers at the terminal, as the first trip was at 1 a.m.

Barba and Chief Supt. Luizo Ticman, Region 1 police director, visited the wounded cops at the hospital and awarded them the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting. A lawyer of Victory Liner said the company would wait for the police to finish their nvestigation before they would issue a statement.


2 killed, 1 hurt in in truck accident

ITOGON, Benguet -- Two men were killed while a third was fractured on both legs, after the truck they were riding fell off a cliff here night of Nov. 23.

This, after the driver lost control of the 14-wheeled vehicle due to loose brakes while maneuvering a sharp curve with a load weighing more than eight tons.

Rescuers of the Baguio City Emergency Medical Service identified those killed as Lino Ejorcadas, 30, a resident of Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City and Bienvenido Lim.

The third victim, with both legs fractured, was named Richard Adlawan, 21, who lives along Latex Road, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

Itogon police said the 14-wheeler truck with license plate number RGA-827 tried to negotiate a sharp curve along the main road of Bingo Loakan, Itogon, Benguet around 10 p.m.

It was carrying a prefabricated comfort room from Metro Manila weighing approximately 16,000 pounds.

Although Adlawan was able to escape alive, he was found to have fractures on both legs, when he was freed by volunteer rescuers from the wreckage and rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center emergency room on board a van driven by the punong barangay of Tinongdan, Itogon.

When the BCMES rescuers arrived at the site at around, they were joined by personnel of the Baguo Fire Station and An Aboitiz Power Corp., who sought the assistance of an auto mechanic named Popoy, who helped them extricate remains of the two dead victims.

Both victims were freed from the wreckage with the use of an acetylene torch at around 7:30 am and transferred to the La Funeraria Paz morgue later.

Those in the BCMES team were Eric Soaygan, Edward Fangloy, Bryle Lafasni, Wilfredo Franco, Jet Cawaing and Richard Soriano.

The truck was a total wreck.


Father, two sons killed in Ilocos Day ambush

By Jun Guiang and Freddie Lazaro

BADOC, Ilocos Norte – A father and his two sons were killed while another relative was wounded in a broad daylight ambush in Barangay Nagrebcan, Badoc, Ilocos Norte Monday afternoon.

The victims were reportedly aboard two animal-drawn carts when hooded gunmen opened fire on them, killing two of the men instantly.

The third victim was able to run initially but was chased and gunned down in a nearby rice field.

PO3 Alfred Salem of the Badoc police identified the fatalities as Bernabe Agapay and his sons Kennedy, 43, and Eliseo, 46, all of Barangay Barangobong, Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte.

Wounded was Marcelina Agapay, 43, Eliseo’s wife who was hit in the buttock and was rushed to the Corpuz Clinic and Hospital in Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

Police said the shooting happened about 1:20 p.m. Investigators recovered seven empty M-16 rifle shells, two .45 caliber shells and three 9mm shells from the ambush scene.

Senior Insp. Jonathan Papay, Badoc police chief, said the family was on their way home to the upland town of Nueva Era aboard two carabao-drawn carts when they were ambushed.

They just came from the Badoc town proper where they sold charcoal and other farm products in the public market.

The Agapays were leading a convoy of eight other carts driven by fellow farmers from Nueva Era. The first volley of gunfire hit the elder Agapay and Eliseo, killing them instantly.

Kennedy, who was in the second cart, jumped and tried to escape but the suspects chased him and finished him off in a nearby rice field.


Cop chief sacked due to missing marijuana

By Dexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – A former municipal police chief was sacked while 16 of his men were recommended for demotion and suspension over the controversial missing marijuana case that was s ource of gossip in the province the past months.

Officials said Senior Insp. Bernardo Capela, former chief of the Kapangan police station, was recommended for dismissal, benefits forfeited and permanently disqualified from re-employment in the government for allegedly masterminding the hiding of marijuana bricks and stalks confiscated in Kapangan last February.

A white Toyota Tamaraw FX loaded with 100 kilos of marijuana was intercepted by the local police but was not completely turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for proper documentation and disposal.

The policemen allegedly freed the arrested suspect and left the confiscated items with the municipal police and later only submitted 40 kilos of the illegal drugs to the PDEA in two separate occasions.

Upon learning that the matter had reached higher authorities, Capela reportedly ordered his men to burn the remaining marijuana bricks and stalks that were kept at the police office.

Four other police officers, SPO1 Melvin Cante, PO3 Depayso Mondero and SPO2 Santos Valentin were recommended for a one rank demotion for serious neglect of duty.

PO1 Julius Luis, who could not be demoted, was recommended a 90-day suspension.



JHMC awards 6 titles to Scout Barrio beneficiaries

BAGUIO CITY -- The John Hay Management Corp. awarded six titles to beneficiaries of the Scout Barrio Housing Project of President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo at the Bell House, Camp John Hay on Nov. 27.

JHMC management handed to Rosita Callao, Remedios Corpuz, Soledad Ela, Rey Pelayo, Edna L. Samson, and Edgar Ulat their original Transfer Certificates of Titles in simple ceremonies with the city mayor’s office representative engineer Bienvenido Baquirin and barangay council members Diane Ortiz and Josefina Belsa as witnesses.

The six Scout Barrio lot awardees complied with lot disposition requirements: fully-paid lot, signed and notarized deed of absolute sale, individual undertaking to respect generated lots, common areas, tight of way and actual lot occupancy and compliance survey made by the Baguio City government, National Housing Authority and Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

Executive order 64 of President Arroyo declared the BCDA Property in Barangay Scout Barrio, Baguio a housing site open for disposition to bonafide occupants who have been living in the area even before the enactment of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

EO 64 implementing rules and regulations provided the lots with a total area of 2,576 sq.m. out of the 80,379 sqm. subject to disposition to actual qualified residents occupying the area.
Out of the 159,738 sq.m. BCDA Scout Barrio oroperty, the other 79,359 sq.m. were retained for community purposes.

Reverse decision on status of ‘new cities’, SC urged
BAGUIO CITY – “New cities” whose status were recently declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional are now making motions for reconsideration and convening local leaders to press the high court for a reversal of its ruling.

On Nov. 23, Batac City in Ilocos Norte mayor Jeffrey Nalupta met with all 43 barangay chairmen in his hometown to brief them on developments and implications of the SC order.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael Keon said he was disappointed by the ruling. Vice governor Wendell Chua, a Batac native, aired the same sentiment.

Nalupta said ‘barangay officials fear the P1 million barangay development fund earmarked for each of the 43 villages here will perish in the air.

Batac about 55,000 residents receiving P175 million in Internal Revenue Allotment.

Tabuk City in Kalinga like Batac has created plantilla positions for its city courts, schools division and others with officials saying they wree now at a loss on what to do with the employees.
Last Nov. 18, the SC, in a decision penned by Justice Antonio Carpio, declared unconstitutional the conversion into cities of Baybay, Leyte; Bogo, Carcar and Naga, all in Cebu; Catbalogan, Samar; Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Tayabas, Quezon; Lamitan, Basilan; Tabuk, Kalinga; Bayugan, Agusan del Sur; Batac, Ilocos Norte; Mati, Davao Oriental; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental; Cabdbaran, Agusan del Norte; and El Salvador, Misamis Oriental.

The SC cited the cityhood grant to these places violated equal protection clause of the Constitution in the conversion of municipalities into cities.

Expat Igorot karateka reaches out to the sick
By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- “Karate ne sente nashi.” Karate has no offense. It’s a lesson Julian Chees learned from fourth dan blackbelt Edgar Kapawen Sr. and sixth dan Kunio Sasaki, his teachers in the Japan Karate Association.

Now a fourth dan and teacher himself, Julian, came home last August to visit his ailing mother. He took time to pay his respects to his teachers, as he does whenever he’s back, and to keep alive the lesson he learned and is passing on to his own students.

This time, he brought home P120,000. It was the latest amount he and his students raised in southern Germany where he heads Shoshin (Beginner’s Mind). Shoshin is a traditional karate school that adheres to the shotokan (knife-hand) stance and the tenets of the JKA.

The fund from Shoshin Kinderhelfe, the humanitarian arm of his school, enabled him to reach out to patients in dire need of help the moment he arrived in Bontoc: Arnold Pityer Jr., Ester Gaddi, Josper Fomanes, Randolf Napa-eg, Steve Chaluyen, Wilber Forayang and Nina Florendo.

On his way back to Germany, he met Mark Anthony Viray, a 10-year old kid diagnosed for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph nodes. He treated the kid to pizza and chocolate, bought a take-home for Mark’s sister, and left P12,000 from the fund to start his chemotherapy treatment.

Later, the fund paid for the emergency medicines of four-year old cancer patient John Mark Enqiquez (P1,500), seven-year old dengue fever victim Sarah Puguon (P3,000) and cerebral palsy patient Manuel Tagulino (105), and for the dialysis session of kidney patient Filbert Almoza (P4,000).

John Mark, youngest of three kids being raised alone by their mother, died last Nov. 17, 11 days after his birthday A thousand pesos from Shoshin was added to the amount being raised for the funeral expenses.

Part of the fund ( P6,9521.50) paid for the travel expenses of Veronica Lee, a 27-year old kidney patient who is working out her second organ transplant. A P2,000 support enabled heart patient Crisly Anayasan to go for his check-up at the Philippine Heart Center.

A thousand pesos, to which another Samaritan added an equal amount, enabled Nora (not her real name), to buy milk substitute for her one-year old boy, medicines for her daughter Angel and food for the family. Nora, a mother of three and wife to a sidelined farm tenant, can’t breast-feed her baby as she herself is on maintenance dose for bipolar disorder.

Shoshin will help Binhin Balansi, an eight-year old , recover from injuries he suffered after a bad fall that landed him in the hospital.

Chees said P66,300 of the fund will be for the basic and educational needs of four children who were orphaned when their parents were killed in a bus accident in Nueva Vizcaya last April.

Mayor Pablo Cuyahon of Hungduan, Ifugao where the orphans live with relatives, recently received P33,000 from the total amount for Neil Denver Dao-ay, 10; his brother Jrick Jon, 3; Francis Tamkiw, 11; and Petrin Pocopio, 12.

The remaining P33,300 will be released as soon as the first has been exhausted.

Chees, a former world shotokan champion who also earned the distinction of being the only non-German by birth to be recruited to the German national karate team, was back here recently for his mother’s funeral.

Again, he took time to pay tribute to his teachers. And to visit some of the patients helped by Shoshin at their hospital beds.

4 Baguio developers’ permits OKd; 98 others barred from selling units
By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- The Housing Land Use Regulatory Board has given the green light to four subdivision developers in this mountain resort city to proceed with their respective projects after they complied with requirements for issuance of such permit.

The updated list of developers who completed requirements for issuance of license to sell and certificate of registration was released by the HLURB following reports at least 98 developers in the city and nearby Benguet province lacked requirements and were not allowed to sell their subdivision units.

The HLURB identified the latest complying de3velopers as TBF Realty, Inc. and Goshen Land Capital Inc., Megalopolis Properties Inc. and Kumsung Construction and Development Corporation, which has two projects in the city that were issued permits.

Prior to the sale of their subdivision or condominium units, developers must first secure the necessary development permits, license to sell and certificate of registration in from the HLURB in order to legitimize the sale of their properties and give the buyers security for their investments.

Earlier, local officials disclosed 98 developers in the city and Benguet are considered to be illegally developing several properties because they have not secured the required development permits, license to sell and certificates of registration from concerned local government and national agencies that would legalize their development activities.

Baguio City is fast becoming a haven for subdivision developers due to the increasing demand from buyers since the city is said to be a suitable dwelling area due to its cool weather condition.

The report on the big number of unlicensed developers in the city has allegedly caused a down trend in the local housing industry and has forced the erring developers to process their pending documents with concerned government agencies.

TBF Realty Inc. and Goshen Land Capital Inc. is developing the so-called “The CourtYards” condominium at Ambiong, Aurora Hill, Baguio City.

On the other hand, Megalopolis is developing Mega Royale Village at Mount Sto. Tomas, Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet while Kumsung Construction and Development corporation is expanding its current condominium buildings at Moran Street, Gibraltar, Baguio City.

The city government has issued a warning to developers who continue to disregard the processing of their valid permits with the concerned government agencies that they will be issued the necessary notice for such purpose and eventual closure if they continue to refuse to do so.



7 seamen saved, 6 still missing at Balintang; search underway

SAN FERNANDO, La Union – The four missing crewmembers of a cargo ship that capsized in the Balintang Channel in Batanes night of Nov. 26 could still be found, authorities said.

Seven survivors of the ill-fated cargo vessel MV LCT Marc Jason were rescued by the ship MV Umm Laqnab en route to Japan, Capt. Athelo Ybañez, commander of Coast Guard-Northern Luzon district, said.

“MV Umm Laqnab rescued the seven survivors while passing near the area. It was bound for Japan and brought with them the survivors, Ybañez said.

Four other survivors were dropped by Manila-bound MV Ultra Ace at the seaport here Thursday morning for emergency treatment due to severe weakness and shark bites. – Jerry Padilla  



Local execs mandated: Leave b’gay properties

BAUKO, Mountain Province – The Sangguniang bayan here passed an ordinance last week making it mandatory for all barangay officials to turn-over all barangay properties to their successors upon keaving office.

Bauko vice mayor Jose B. Tanggacan said this stemmed from past experiences wherein some barangay officials here did not properly turn-over barangay records to their successors.
“The newly elected officials upon assumption to office are in trouble because they do not have the documents of the barangay,” he said.

To ensure all barangay properties are accounted for and filed at the barangay office, the ordinance mandates, as public policy for all outgoing barangay chief executives to turnover all barangay properties to their successors.

Turnover of properties by the outgoing barangay officials shall be based on the property inventory records of the barangay treasurer, barangay secretary, Municipal treasurer and/or the Municipal Accountant.

Under the ordinance, a barangay official who violates this provision, upon conviction shall be punishable with a fine of P2,500.00 or imprisonment of 90 days or both in the discretion of the court without prejudice to the restitution of the missing properties; and disqualification to run for office in any elected position onwards.

Collected fines under this ordinance shall accrue to the trust fund constituting the complaint.-- Juliet B. Saley



Benguet solon urges probe on P700-M road project
By Dexter See

MANKAYAN, Benguet – Rep. Samuel Dangwa urged the Department of Public Works and Highways to investigate the alleged defective rehabilitation of the P700-million Abatan-Mankayan-Cervantes Road here that connects this vegetable-producing province to nearby Ilocos Sur.

Dangwa said concerned residents and local officials brought to his attention the alleged defective rehabilitation project, particularly in the construction of the drainage system and the slope protection walls along the 43-km secondary arterial road.

The lawmaker added employees of the China Harbor Development Corporation, the winning project contractor, were not reportedly enrolled with the Social Security System and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for the duration of the project.

While he admitted that some defects could not be avoided, he said the contractor must make sure such defects are not purposely done so that the quality of the foreign-assisted project is not sacrificed and the safety of the public is not compromised.

The rehabilitation of the Abatan-Mankayan-Cervantes Road cost P673 million, part of a loan package from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Once completed, the road will link the northern towns of Benguet such as Buguias, Mankayan Bakun and Atok to the upland towns of Ilocos Sur, particularly Cervantes, Quirino, Suyo, and Tagudin. Thus, motorists going to the Ilocos region no longer need to pass through Baguio City.



Policemen nab suspects in prosecutor’s murder
By Jennelyn Mondejar

SAN FABIAN, Pangasinan – Police here had arrested two suspects behind the killing more than a year ago of a graft investigator and prosecutor from this town.

Chief Insp. Chito Esmenda, town police chiefidentified the arrested as Benjamin Nuyda, 36, and Felipe Tamayo, 50, both residents of Barangay Cayanga this town for the killing of lawyer Alejo Dojillo.

Dojillo was on board a tricycle on his way to a bus terminal heading towards the Office of the Ombudsman where he worked when he was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men. Dojillo was the graft investigator and prosecutor at the office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and a resident of Barangay Nibaliw Vidal here.

Esmenda said the suspects were arrested based on a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Genoveva Maramba of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44 in Dagupan City.

The suspects posted P40,000 each cash bond for their temporary liberty.

The case took a year before the issuance of the arrest warrant was made as the murder case filed at the office of Prosecutor Gonzalo Marata was downgraded to homicide.

Retired cop shot dead in Pangasinan town

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – A retired policeman was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Barangay Rajal, Balungao morning of Nov. 23, a report reaching the Pangasinan PNP provincial office.

The report identified the fatality as retired SPO4 Renato Manalo, 58, of Barangay Poblacion of said town and former chief investigator of Balungao PNP.

Initial investigation showed that the victim was with his daughter on board a motorcycle on their way to the residence of his live-in partner in Barangay Esmeralda when the victim was shot by two still unidentified suspects riding in tandem on a Honda 155 motorcycle.

The victim succumbed to bullet wounds in the body. The suspects were said to be wearing helmets during the incident. It was not reported whether the victim’s daughter was hurt during the attack.

Responding policemen were able to recover three spent shells and a slug of .45 caliber bullets at the scene.



4 killed, 1 hurt in road accident
By Teddy Molina

SANTA, Ilocos Sur – A hospital director was the lone survivor in a van-bus collision here last week that claimed the lives of four people, including a child.

Dr. Glenn Battad, director of the St. James Hospital in Vigan City, suffered only minor injuries but lost his mother Felicisima and his adopted son Gabriel in the accident.

Also killed was an unidentified medical sales representative who was driving the van and Gabriel’s yaya named Inday.

Police said the van was on its way Nov. 22 to Vigan from Manila when it rammed into a bus of the Partas Transportation Co. along the national highway in Barangay Namalangan here.



No reason to pattong

Mountain Province farmers may find lesser reasons to hold their traditional obaya di pagey as their livelihood continue to decline. As if not hit enough by the aggravating economic crisis, they also experience annual decrease in harvest, narrowing of their payaws, pest infestation, and the rising cost of production yet cheap pricing of agricultural products.

The income of farmers in the province remains at the range of P3,200 to P6,800 which is way below the poverty threshold P7,200 per family of 5-6 as declared by the National Economic Development Authority.

Due to insufficient harvest, and the need for immediate money, farmers are forced to explore other means for income. Others go into vegetable farming while others enter small- scale mining. There have also been drastic moves such as totally abandoning their lands so as to work in urban centers and out-migrate from their ili.

Many payews have been converted into gardens, but gardeners face the same issues, the rising cost of production while their vegetables are priced cheap by middlemen who are more in control of market prices. Due to the liberalization of agriculture, their local produce are not able to compete with those being imported from Vietnam, Taiwan, and other countries. Entering small-scale mining also poses danger to the miners and the ili as most Small-scale Mines in the province are unregulated by the community.

The government remains unserious in pushing efforts to alleviate the condition of farmers. At present, instead of increasing state subsidy to agriculture, it is pushing for agribusiness and the One Town One Product (OTOP) program of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. As part of the obtuse dream of GMA of creating “super regions”, GM-mais (Dekalb Yieldgard of Monsanto) is being introduced in MP, Ifugao, and Kalinga and High- Yielding Varities of rice are still being promoted. This however entails the use of various pesticides and other chemicals which are added expenses to farmers. Not to mention the long-term effect of degrading soil quality.

The OTOP program of the national government leads to mono- cropping which is oriented towards a commercial and profit driven agriculture, very much different from the traditional self subsistent farming of the locals. And instead of presenting alternative livelihoods, the government and the Philippine Army is actively recruiting their para-military forces among young farmers so as to augment the thinning lines of regular soldiers in the field.

Reformist programs such as the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Program II (CHARMP II), which are funded by foreign institutions such as the Asian Development Bank are nothing but deceptions to the masses who are being pushed to take all opportunities to be able to obtain their daily needs. CHARMP II has funds up to P2.799 billion yet does not assure continuing development but instead leads to dependency to the government and private institutions. It pushes for ancestral land titling, agrobusiness and agroforestry, which are not for the interest of the farmers.

Only the National- Democratic movement, through its protracted people’s war, can provide for farmers the opportunity to harness and develop their lands, and build an agriculture sector which will serve national interest.

The present successes of the New People’s Army in assisting communities to do agrarian revolution and actually increase economic productivity for the people are but concrete proofs of seedlings to more and bigger victories for the people in the future.

There really is no reason for farmers to celebrate. May it be in Mountain Province nor in other places across the country. Yet there is even more reason for them to build stronger unity. In the middle of this worsening situation, the regime of Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo backed by US imperialism, is creating the very same flux which will topple her government. Maybe then can we make merry.

Leonardo Pacsi Command
New People’s Army
Mountain Province



A nation of pessimists

The recent Pulse Asia survey showing Filipinos’ downcast view of their economic situation was a result of the perpetuation of corruption in the government, which has significantly hindered the country’s development. The Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan survey on Filipinos’ quality of life revealed that 58% of Filipinos feel they are worse off now than last year. This is 12% higher than people’s assessment of their personal quality of life in the same survey conducted last year. Meanwhile, 44% of Filipinos are pessimistic about the upcoming year, up from 30% in last year’s survey.

After spending P1.3 trillion this year, the situation has even worsened. There was a rice crisis because of the corruption in the Department of Agriculture, and even now that the economic crisis from the US is affecting counties worldwide including the Philippines, Malacanang is still perceived as pushing to amend the constitution to extend terms of officials. Despite these, Sen. Mar Roxas said “Malacanang still has business as usual attitude in dealing with the country’s problems, as well as its inability to stamp out corruption. This poverty is too much, because of the corruption in our agencies. The politicos in Malacañang don’t feel the suffering experienced by our people.”

Roxas said the people have yet to see any real effort by the government to uplift their plight. “Unless President Arroyo shows she is sincere in reforming the economy, the people’s view of their situation won’t change. The government has done nothing to change the poor’s view of their situation. The sad thing is Malacañang won’t even care about the survey results. Pundits are saying national government officials particularly those in Malacanang know about all these but are insensitive or “thick-skinned” they wouldn’t care less, main reason they are pushing charter changes so they could extend their terms and happy days.

They are saying if most people of this Banana Republic have become pessimists, it is because they don’t see real and positive changes before national elections on 2010. The middle class, particularly, wouldn’t want to support another Edsa Revolution or a coup as they wouldn’t want Vice President Noli De Castro to take over the presidency.

The mood is to bear another one and a half years of government ineptitude and corruption before a change of officials in government. But would there be elections at the rate the Lower House and other administration minions are pushing to amend the charter? The coming days would attest to what will happen.



Alfred P. Dizon
Terrorizing IP communities

Like James Balao who was abducted by alleged military agents on Sept, 17 in La Trinidad, Benguet and who is still missing, constituents not only in the Cordillera but nationwide continue to suffer human rights violations as elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to terrorize the countryside under the State’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

This, according to rights advocates like the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance who said the OBL had been instrumental in drastic and massive extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country since 2002 as it targets not only the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front but also peoples organizations labeled by the AFP as “sectoral front organizations” of revolutionary movements.
Jude Baggo, CHRA secretary general said aside from political killings and enforced disappearances the AFP also threatens indigenous communities with a list that tags community members as afiliated to the CPP- NPA-NDF.

In a letter to the CHRA, the indigenous people of Tanglag, Lubuagan, Kalinga narrated that last Oct. 10, around 15 soldiers of the 21st IB of the Philippine Army led by a certain Lt. Camaganakan encamped in the community.

While in the community, the soldiers reportedly called for a community meeting where they showed a list of alleged former NPA, NPA contacts and supporters and that those people in the list must clear their names. The soldiers also investigated some residents. The letter said soldiers also illegally conducted a census in the community.

Tanglag residents asserted people on the soldiers’ list were not NPA supporters, contacts or former members but community residents and members of people’s organizations. “Agamak kami nga umili iti mabalin nga mapasamak nga panaglabsing ti karbengan pang-tao iti kaada da (soldado)kas iti napasamak ti Barangay Dupag, Tabuk; Barangay Poswoy, Balbalan and Barangay Uma, Lubuagan,” (We fear of possible human rights violations the soldiers might inflict on us just like what happened in Barangay Dupag, Tabuk; Barangay Poswoy, Balbalan and Barangay Uma, Lubuagan) the letter read.
Earlier in September, indigenous people of Tonglayan, Natonin, Mountain Province reportedly suffered a similar ordeal. Initial data showed around 25 names of Natonin residents were found in the AFP’s list.

The indigenous people of Pananuman, Tubo, Abra who have barely recovered from economic dislocation and trauma bought about by the military bombings on March to April were again reportedly subjected to another round of bombings in their community from Sept. 25 according to the Abra Human Rights Alliance.

The AHRA staff members were hindered from proceeding to the area due to intense military presence and surveillance and harassments against them. Airene Timbreza, AHRA spokesperson reported she received death threats recently.

At present there are a total of 19 regular companies, one division reconnaissance company (3rd), six service companies (HQ Coys of brigade and battalion), and four support units of the Philippine Army of the AFP deployed in Northwestern Luzon.
The CHRA said, in addition, Task Force Montañosa was formed in Nov. 2006 for counter insurgency operations. It is composed of the 41st IB, 50th IB, 54th IB, 53rd Recon Coy, 21st IB and the Philippine National Police-Regional Mobile Group Cordillera Administrative Region (PNP-RMG CAR). Its operations are along the boundaries of Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur – defined as a “win” area under Operation Plan Bantay Laya II.

Militarized indigenous communities that experience human rights violations have been calling for a pull-out of military presence in their areas. The CHRA had been calling on the AFP respect the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and release Miguel Baliao, an alleged New People’s Army guerrilla who was wounded and captured last June 7 in Salapadan, Abra.

To date no criminal or civil charges have reportedly been filed against him. Baggo said the AFP does have the right to detain Baliao. He added that even if there are charges against him, he should be under the custody of the Philippine National Police.
Baliao was captured while receiving emergency first aid from community members after an encounter between elements of the 50th IB, 5th ID of the AFP and alleged NPA members. For two days, while in the custody of the AFP, his wounds were reportedly left unattended until on June 9 he was finally admitted to the Gabriela Silang General Hospital in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Soldiers reportedly prevented Baliao’s family from visiting him. He was said to have been heavily guarded by armed soldiers even at the GSGH, intimidating medical professionals attending to him his family. A few days later he was transferred to the military hospital in Upi, Gamu, Isabela.

“To this day he is being arbitrarily detained in the said military camp,” the CHRA said, adding the AFP also threatened Baliao’s family that physical harm could come to the detainee or his brother, should an officer of the AFP would be dismissed from service should they bring the matter to court.

Military officials reportedly tried to trick Baliao into signing a document, supposedly an affidavit of voluntary hospital confinement, which in reality was an affidavit of voluntary Custody. He refused to sign the said document. Human rights advocates from the CHRA and lawyers who tried to visit Baliao were also reportedly denied and subjected to military interrogation.
Baggo said under the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law, Baliao is considered a hors de combat and is entitled to protection as a prisoner of war. Article 41, Safeguard of an enemy hors de combat of the Protocol I of the IHL states that “A person who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, should be recognized to be hors de combat shall not be made the object of attack.”

According to IHL definitions a person is hors de combat if (a) he is in the power of an adverse Party; (b) he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or (c) he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself; provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

The article also provided that “When persons entitled to protection as prisoners of war have fallen into the power of an adverse Party under unusual conditions of combat which prevent their evacuation as provided for in Part III, Section I, of the Third Convention, they shall be released and all feasible precautions shall be taken to ensure their safety.”

The army can email us their response to these issues at:



Perry Diaz
Cha-cha: Train to Nowhere

The recent coup that ousted Sen. Manny Villar from the presidency of the Senate and installed Juan Ponce Enrile -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's top political ally in the Senate -- took a sudden turn of events when Gloria's son, Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, made a preemptory move to get the Charter change (Cha-cha) moving again with a House Resolution to convene a Constituent Assembly.

But to Gloria's surprise, her followers in the Senate -- including Enrile -- balked at the idea of Cha-cha prior to 2010. She should know better that the Philippine Senate -- just like Julius Caesar's Roman Senate two millennia ago -- doesn't pander to dictators.

Emotions have been running high in the days following the Senate coup. Gloria's son, Congressman Mikey Arroyo, was in flurry getting signatures from members of the House of Representatives to support constitutional amendment through a constituent assembly (Con-Ass) which is authored by Congressman Luis Villafuerte, KAMPI President and a close ally of Gloria. Within a few days, Mikey has gathered the signatures of 163 out of the 238 members of the Lower House. At first Mikey denied leading the signature drive but eventually he admitted it when several congressmen pointed their finger at him.

It is interesting to note that Mikey and his younger brother, Congressman Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo, were perceived as their mom's "enforcers" in the Lower House. They're known by their colleagues as the real "Speakers" of the House. And who would dare buck the First Sons? Their mom holds the key to the congressmen' s pork barrel funds. She's the goose that lays the golden eggs. One of the rules in politics is the Golden Rule -- he or she who has the gold rules.

To pass a constitutional amendment through Con-Ass, a three-fourth majority vote is required of both chambers of Congress. However, there are conflicting interpretations of what constitutes "three-fourth majority vote." Is it three-fourths of the combined membership of the House of Representatives (238) and the Senate (24) or three-fourths of each chamber voting separately?

If the Senate succumbed to the "tyranny" of the House, then it's a done deal: a Con-Ass will move forward, unhindered, to amend the constitution any which way the House leadership wants. However, if the majority of the senators would reject the notion of a combined three-fourth majority vote of both chambers, then the proponents of Con-Ass would have go to the Supreme Court for an interpretation of the constitution.

Given the current make-up of the Supreme Court -- with at least nine of the 15 justices perceived to be pro-Gloria -- the House Con-Ass resolution would prevail; thus, relegating the Senate to an inutile polyp-like adjunct of the House. However, should the High Court upholds the independence of the Senate making it a co-equal to the House, Gloria could wait until next year when at least seven Supreme Court justices are retiring. At that time, she will have a grand opportunity to stack the High Court with political hacks. And by that time, Gloria would wield near-absolute dictatorial powers -- swift and bloodless.

But that scenario is predicated on what the Senate would do today. If the Senate would abdicate its role as 'fiscalizer" of the Executive Branch, then all is lost -- Gloria will reign beyond 2010 and could propagate her family dynasty for many generations to come. Remember, Gloria is already the second president in the Macapagal bloodline.

The question is: will the people accept another dictatorial rule, almost a quarter-century after the Marcos dictatorship was dismantled by the People Power Revolution of 1986? Ironically, the newly installed Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile -- an ardent loyalist of Gloria -- was the one who led the 1986 revolution. Now that Enrile is the Senate President, he is caught between his loyalty to Gloria and his sworn duty to protect the sanctity and independence of the Senate.

Enrile's initial reaction -- broadcasted over DwIZ -- to the House Con-Ass resolution was: "I will tell you I will resist any effort on the part of anybody to make the Senate inutile as a junk of the House of Representatives. For me, whether it is term extension or no term extension, it is almost an impossible dream to bring about any constitutional change at this time." He said that "almost all of the 23 sitting senators were against it."

However, it is anticipated that Gloria's henchmen are going to put a lot of pressure on Enrile. Would he be able to resist them? It's interesting to note that in November 2006, Enrile filed Senate Resolution 580 calling for a Con-Ass in the Senate to counter a House Resolution that would leave the Senate completely out of a Con-Ass. Enrile said at that time that the Senate and the House should vote separately.

It remains to be seen if Enrile would sacrifice his principle for political convenience and… survival. But he is a survivor many times over and at this time -- in the golden years of his life -- he might just pull one more attempt to challenge a formidable and entrenched political machine. Can he unify and marshal the forces of the Senate to dig in and -- in the words of Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. -- "man Tirad Pass again"?

But it is the ominous words of rookie Senator Francis Pangilinan that have drawn the attention of many people: "If they think the people will eat any garbage they offer, they are wrong. This will spark an uprising against the Arroyo government." And he warned, "they should never underestimate the awesome power of the disenchanted people, who have had enough of bankrupt leadership and governance." Indeed, the biggest threat to Gloria is when her "Enchanted Kingdom" turns into a "Disenchanted Kingdom."

It is sad that amidst the economic turbulence that is besieging the country today, Gloria's unquenchable thirst for power and wealth continues to take its toll on the people. And if there is one lesson Gloria has to learn: history tends to repeat itself when certain conditions begin to happen. Déjà vu. -- (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)



March L. Fianza
Horses with blinders misrepresenting masses

The Japanese movie “The Blind Horseman” tells of a blind swordsman who, despite his handicap is still focused and can hit his target enemy. But what I saw in the TV screen made my imagination run wild as the ruling administration’s temporary allies in congress, with their brand of blind loyalty threw away the impeachment case against their master. They acted, not like the heroic blind horsemen, but horses with blinders.

For as long as congressmen, in disregard of the welfare of a people, act like horses with blinders and follow the dictates of an ally and master, forget about impeaching an allegedly sinful president.

Blinders on a horse’s eyes are devices used by the master to tell the animal that it is not trusted with the full use of its brain. It is also a kinder way to tell the horse that the master wants to use its body without using its mind.

Comparable to trained horses who independently know when to move, there are independent-minded congressmen who represent their district with sincerity. I can not see that with the others who do not carry a bit of the people’s sentiment about issues.

Instead, they become congress representatives of a party master. They do not have to think or see the truth around them because their blinders prevent them from doing so.

In other words, the use of blinders over the horse’s eyes tells the animal that the master does not fully trust how it would use its brain if it could fully see what is going on around. But that’s okay, as long as the horse is focused on getting things done – that is to quash the impeachment case in exchange for a reward.

The master can not allow the alliance of horses to open their eyes to everything, otherwise, the animals will be disturbed and an impeachment case might prosper. Without the blinders, a horse’s movements become unpredictable.

Contrary to putting blinders on a horse, “trust is supposed to be openness, not covering things up.” With the blinders, the horse is kept from distraction and fear. But though its eyes have been covered by blinders, the horse yields (temporary) loyalty to the master because its mind has been conditioned to know that its body is secured.

A horse with blinders performs its job without mutual trust from its handler which is more desirable. Instead, handlers highly value “fear factor” with the use of blinders, which is reason for the horse to get things done.

If you cover a horse’s ability to see what is happening around, the more it will expand its imagination of things that are not really there. The horse becomes obediently blind but at the same time expects to receive rewards from its master. The horse with blinders focuses on its master’s goal while thinking of personal interests. The fear factor is still there.

On the other hand, horses with no blinders see the truth around them and act according to the prevailing situation against the wishes of their master. The fear factor is not there and there is no blind loyalty to a master.

There may be party loyalty among the horses without blinders but later, that stops somewhere. As one congressman said in the first impeachment attempt against President GMA, “loyalty to party ends where loyalty to nation begins.”

President Erap’s impeachment case is entirely a different scenario. The horses allied to him were not using blinders so that although they were reined, their movements were wayward, not in unison.

This eventuality opened an opportunity for a power grab. In fact the impeachment proceedings did not close satisfactorily because personal interests overshadowed the proceedings and apparently, rules were changed in the middle of the game.

Erap was unlucky because the rules that were applied were no rules at all. The playing field even more became uneven when constitutional processes were not followed, accompanied by separate assemblies of masses having their own private interests.

Some say that they are satisfied that the people got what they want when Erap was ousted. Others say they are happy that Erap is out but they are not happy with the manner it was done. Other Erap allies regret that things happened the way they did not want to and they now feel guilty for helping GMA grab power.

But what really hurts for many is when horses with blinders bestow power to a master who is looked up to as a hero or heroine, but becomes an oppressive despot in the end. –



Ramon S. Dacawi
Brenden Foster is not alone

The journey to the grave called life, set in motion by birth, matters not how long but how. The quality of the voyage lies not on the thickness and softness of the cushions we accumulate and hold on to, to ease our own travel, but on the degree of comfort we share fellow passengers.

This thought came back last week. It was triggered by the humanitarian legacy of Brenden Foster, the 11-year old boy in Seattle who succumbed to leukemia after seeing his dying wish to feed the homeless come true. It’s a thought we – the living – hear and cling to for comfort during wakes and funerals.

Given the chance, anybody would like to make a difference, to help bring one’s community closer to what it should be. The difference in Brenden’s case was he was supposed to be too young to know and make a difference.

How could anyone, however older, but as sick and feeble and in extreme pain as Brenden was, even think of the plight of the homeless in this coming of winter?. Doctors gave Brenden a few days, if not hours or minutes, to live. How could the kid find the time to make his wish come true, much less see it unfold?

The difference was that, against all odds, Brenden still made his wish. In so doing, he triggered a giant wave of goodwill still rippling across parts of the world. In so doing, he opened our eyes to the fact that however humble we are, we, too, can make a difference.

The man that he was (and is among the thousands who responded and will surely continue to live out his wish), Brenden never gave up. It was an advice he gave during a talk with reporter Elisa Jaffe of Seattle’s KOMO News: “Follow your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you.”

Dying, he was full of insight, courage and caring. “Just having one,” he said when asked what he thought were the best things in life. “It happens. It’s natural,” he said of death. “I had a great time. And until my time comes, I’m going to keep having a great time.”

Ms. Jaffe later wrote: “When I met Brenden Foster, I met an old soul in an 11-year old’s body.” Brenden, who dreamed of being a marine photographer, was and will never be alone. In a troubled, seemingly impersonal and impassive world shot full of apathy, there are other little angels out there. And bigger ones, too.

A year or so before Brenden began his brave battle against leukemia, another boy about to turn seven asked his mom to cancel his birthday party. The kid, son of a Baguio policeman and a court employee, turned over the amount for the balloons, food, cake and gifts to an ailing toddler he met at the city hall. Soon, a young girl followed suit. She added her own would-be B-day fund to the amount raised by Baguio folksingers for John Tofi Estepa, a four-year old boy with brain cancer.

Folksinger Conrad Marzan was speechless when a girl barely in her teens had her mother bring him a family size Coke bottle. The kid had turned into a piggy bank and wanted to add the contents to Tofi’s fund. Tofi’s father John was himself surprised when a domestic helper in Hongkong arranged three bank transfers of P3,000 each to heighten Tofi’s fighting chance.

“I just want to help, as I’m also a mother, the lady in Hongkong said in an overseas call. Her call came early in Christmas, while Julian Chees, an accomplished karate practitioner and teacher in Germany was on a humanitarian mission to Banaue, Ifugao. Julian was to P70,000 to two families who lost two kids in a landslide buried their common house along the rice terraces.

Last August, Julian visited his ailing mother back home in Maligcong, Bontoc. He had with him P120,000, about half of which paid for medicines of patients in Bontoc and Baguio. Shoshin Kinderhelfe, a foundation his karate students established, set aside P66,300 for the education and other needs of four kids in Ifugao who were orphaned when their parents died in a bus accident last April.

There’s that Baguio girl and nurse in Connecticut who goes by the internet name Princess Lea. Three years ago, she and e-chat room mates bankrolled the surgery of then 10-year old Santy John Tuyan. Santy came out of the hospital with a mended heart and is now back in school.

There’s that lady and solo parent in Kentucky. For three years now, she has been sacrificing her earnings for whoever needed it most among ailing kids and adults here. When her work visa expired last June, she still sent, praying it wouldn’t be her last remittance.

Last February, her namesake here quietly wrote out a check for P50,000, “for those who need it most”. Like her namesake in Kentucky, the lady had just survived cancer. Last week, Baguio-bred architect Freddie de Guzman called, asking how seven-year old John Brix de Guzman was in his battle against leukemia.

Told the boy was still fighting hard, Freddie, who recently lost his job, said he’d send some amount. It will be his latest remittance for the boy and for other patients in a personal, quiet out-reach program he began three years ago.

There’s that gentle soul who now and then sends someone to drop fund support on the desk of RCBC bank vice-president Rolly de Guzman. There’s that bank executive who digs into his pocket when he reads about a patient in dire need of medicines.

There’s the Baguio-BIBAK community in California who looks forward to the next humanitarian concert to be mounted by Conrad, Joel Aliping Richarc Arandia, Felix Tayaotao, Miggs Meru and the rest of the musically inclined Baguio boys and girls in America.

There’s Conrad’s wife Pilar, their son Nickolas, the siblings Bryan and Ellana Aliping who sent their stipends and trick-or-treat candies for kids here. From Michigan, couple Paul and Jenelyn Balanza and their kids Sunshine and Paulo recently wrapped gifts for two wards of the children’s cancer ward -Mark Anthony Viray, 10, and Edlyn Joy Dacanay.

With them and others out there whose names this limited space can’t accommodate for now, Brenden’s legacy – and the spirit of this yuletide his last wish rekindled - will live on. ( for comments).



Gina Dizon
Participation in governance

BONTOC, Mountain Province - Despite provisions in the Local Government Code requiring participation of non-government organizations in development councils, this is not significantly observed, Gov. Maximo Dalog said during a workshop consultation on
community participation in local governance last Nov. 20 sponsored by Aterfa Network with the support of the provincial government.

The governor noted there are only six accredited organizations who came forward to be accredited in the provincial unit. Dalog called on nongovernment organizations and other sectoral bodies to actively participate in local governance. Similar concerns among local government officials who attended and the non-government sector during the workshop conducted by Aterfa Network in cooperation with the National Commission in Indigenous Peoples-Mountain Province, the provincial government unit, and the global education program of Voluntary Service Overseas.

Both participants from the government and non-government sectors noted the lack of participation of the community people in local governance. While the non-government sector noted that the identification and approval of programs and projects in local government units lacks community participation, government officials present also commented on the lack of participation from the people in identifying barangay and municipality and even provincial programs and projects.

To require community participation before any submitted project resolution is approved, provincial board member Eufemia Lam-en said the provincial Board requires the respective municipal development plan and the barangay development plan where such is the case. “This will prevent the direct submission of resolutions by individuals to the legislative body”, Lam-en said.

Sanguniang bayan councilor Pedro Macario of Besao also said that the municipal SB requires the barangay development plan along with the minutes of the barangay meeting before a submitted resolution is approved by the SB. Municipal councilor Bryan Bellang of the SB of Bontoc also said they require the barangay certification of a certain project along with the development plan before a submitted resolution gets approved. The usual practice of identifying and approving projects and programs had been in the past directly forwarded to legislative and executive bodies without a barangay or municipal development plan or certification to that effect, before its gets approved for funding.

Although another point to consider is the discretion of the official/s approving the project. Lam-en said she also requires the municipal or barangay plan before acting on the request. Where community participation is lacking in project and program identification, barangay captain Francis Kilongan of Barangay Ambasing, Sagada said he calls for a general assembly among barangay constituents at least quarterly for discussion of barangay concerns and issues. He said government and NGOS should help in educating specific issues of interest to the community in order to attract participation from the people.

Although responsible voting is a necessary element among an enlightened peoples participation, barangay captain chairman of Sagada, Jaime Dugao said. People have to know whom they elect as their officials who can truly represent them. As it is, there is a standing practice and general perception that officials once they are elected are not willing to rock the boat where there are crucial issues which might affect other sectors of the locality affecting their votes.

On the other hand, it is a standing mandate that elected government officials have the accountability for public good and welfare.

Along with nongovernment participants and the LGU participants, identified the need for trainings and orientations among government officials. The Department of Interior and Local Government and the Provincial Development and Planning Office were specially identified to do trainings on administration and management skills and knowledge for government officials.

The Municipal Local Government Office Officer has a special role in orienting local officials, the participants said. The workshop participants are one in saying that provisions of the Local Government Code and other related laws need to be known by the official to make effective their functions in their own localities. For example, requiring a general assembly twice in the year needs to be known by barangay officials as well as other protocols as the requirement for a development plan before any introduction of a program or project is done.

Winnie Ananayo of Bontoc Women Brigade specially asked DILG Officer Edison Baddal what strategies they do as funding is the usual scapegoat for any undone work. Baddal noted the DILG had been doing clustered orientation in orienting barangay officials on the provisions of local governance. Baddal also specially mentioned that barangays through self help initiatives or through their development fund can allocate a certain amount for the needed orientation. Every municipality has a Municipal Local Government Office Officer devolved from the DILG who is tasked to take care of barangay concerns such as orientations where local governance is concerned.

In the same development, Wilson Kalangeg, legal officer of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples talked on the participation of indigenous cultural communities in their participation in local governance. The Local Government Code specially identified a member of the indigenous cultural communities as a member of the special bodies aside from the women sector. The body came up with a consensus for the municipality of Bontoc through the Sangguniang Bayan and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to sponsor a resolution for the representation of Indigenous Cultural Communities as a special sector in the Sangguniang Bayan.

Although 99% of the populace are IPs in Mountain Province, there are special concerns faced by IPs which are not focused and discussed in government’s local governance. Juliet Palicos, former SB member of Sabangan said sectoral representatives discuss their special concerns only
which need the special participation of indigenous cultural communities as a special sector. Specially, conflict resolutions as to tribal boundaries are a distinct issue which is specially attended to by tribal leaders. Also, issues on telecommunication companies who build their towers on ancestral lands and don’t pay local taxes are special issues needing the special participation on indigenous cultural communities in local governance.

In the course of the workshop, it was noted that there is a harmonious working relationship of tribal elders and government officials in local governance. In Bontoc for example, a Council of Elders operates independent from the local government unit. The tribal council acts as an advisory body to the LGU on tribal issues.

The writer here, as VSO volunteer also shared her experiences having worked among Indigenous Peoples of the northwest Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government has yet to enact policies favorable to the IPs of Bangladesh and the recovery of their ancestral lands. As it is IPs here estimated be around 2 million face extreme landlessness brought about by notorious landgrabbing from mainstream society aided by an inefficient land use system.



Ike ‘Ka Iking’ Seneres
Global action for national development assistance

MANILA -- After a series of consultations with my personal advisers, I have decided that it would be better to separate my developmental and charitable activities into two legal personalities. As it is now, I have already registered Inter-Charity Network as a non-stock, non-profit corporation. Based on my experience, it could not be avoided that our charitable projects would usually overlap with our developmental efforts, the two being closely intertwined.
For some reason, the charity label has a negative reaction within the developmental circles and perhaps understandably so, because development workers would have a natural preference for the promise of improving the lives of people as a whole, rather than just helping some people with their problems every now and then.

Given this background, I am now organizing Global Action for National Development Assistance (GANDA), envisioned to be an international organization of volunteers who would like to assist developing countries in planning, implementing, monitoring and reporting their national development programs. Of course, the Philippines will always be our test bed and point of origin.
Although GANDA will always be working for national development, its intention is to always work at the village level, being founded on the belief that nations could only truly develop if and when the needs of their citizens are directly addressed where they are, where they live, regardless of how far they are from the centers of national activities.

Although we are still in the organizational stage, we already have about a dozen volunteers who are all practitioners of their respective fields, and who are all in a position to assist in the task of helping local villages in planning, implementing, monitoring and reporting their development in the long run.

Our goal is to build independently productive and self-sustaining (IPASS) villages in all locations where we are welcomed. Bio-fuel is the key to the success of each and every GANDA village. Using any source of renewable bio-fuels, we are planning our development model in such a way that each village would have its own source of electricity powered mainly by diesel engines, but backed up by other local energy sources such as solar, hydro, geothermal and waterfalls or rivers.

With their own power on site, it would become economical for GANDA villages to own and maintain their own water filtration plants, multi-purpose drying machines, cold storage facilities and grains silos. These are the basic infrastructure needed to support their local means of productivity.

With their own driers, they will no longer have to worry about their grains, fruits, vegetables and root crops going to waste and they could already sell these commodities when they want to and at the right prices, without being pressured by market forces and unfair middlemen to unload right away.

With their own water plants, they would not only have safe drinking water for their own consumption, they would also have clean water for their surface crops on top of having readily available water for irrigation purposes. For that matter, they could have fish ponds regardless of how far they are from the sea or the river.

With their own cold storage, they could freeze their fish, fruits and vegetables to avoid spoilage, and to be able to wait for the right prices to sell, again without being pressured by market forces and middlemen. They could also go into secondary processed products such as juices and purees.

With their own grains silos, they will be able to store not only rice and corn, but also coffee, cacao, soybeans, peanuts and cassava chips, among others. Just the same, the silos will give them the option of selling these goods when they want to, at the right prices without any outside pressure.

The technologies that I mentioned do not require any rocket science. We need not send people to the moon; we only need to support the villagers with the means to become independently productive and self-sustaining. As it is now, we already have the volunteers who could make this things happen. You can join GANDA whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, as long as you are willing to help.

Email or text me at +639293605140. Watch my TV show “KA IKING LIVE” every Friday from 930 to 1030 PM in Destiny Cable Channel 3. Tune in to “KAPIT-BAYAN” in DWIZ 882 KHZ 5 to 6 PM Mon to Fri. Join Global Action for National Development Assistance.



Edison L. Baddal
NGOs in local governance (1)

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- This hack was recently invited to share some information or insights on mechanisms or processes on how nongovernment organizations can validly participate in local governance under the aegis of our laws. This was a novel topic for me although I once talked about NGOs in one out-of-town lecture but this was concentrated on the accreditation of NGOs by local legislative councils for membership in local special bodies. Nevertheless, that lecture inevitably but indirectly touched on the NGOs’ participation in local governance.

In view of that, I jumpily searched the provisions of the Local Government Code that deals with the relations of the NGOs (which also include People’s organizations and private sector) with the Local Government Units. Generally, NGOs refer to those civil society groups or organizations that operate outside of the government bureaucracy although their activities are under regulation by the government, particularly the LGUs. On perspective, the code provides a lot of opportunities for NGO involvement in local governance.

On top of this is the leeway given to NGOs, as active partners of the government in the pursuit of local autonomy, to enter with LGUs “into joint ventures and such other cooperative arrangements to engage in the delivery of certain basic services, capability-building and livelihood projects, and to develop local enterprises.” It furthered that such joint ventures are “designed to improve productivity and income, diversify agriculture, spur rural industrialization, promote ecological balance, and enhance the economic and social well-being of the people.”

All said worthwhile activities are all geared towards the promotion and achievement of socio-economic development, especially in poverty and hunger alleviation, reduction and at best, eradication.

In this aspect, an NGO could forge a MOA with an LGU for the operation of a certain economic enterprise with the appropriate schemes like build-operate-transfer, build-transfer and the like. An instance of this is when an NGO or any private sector with adequate financial outlay and technical capability/competence is allowed to operate an LGU economic enterprise.

At present, LGUs are perennially short of funds even under the auspices of devolution with the internal revenue allotment as still the main source of funds to run their local bureaucracies. Hence, it is not uncommon for LGUs to tap a private sector or an NGO to operate a local economic enterprise. This process is termed as debureaucratization, a distinct mode of decentralization of power which involves the transfer of power or authority from the government either through a government agency or an LGU to an NGO or private sector. In some instances, an NGO could be involved in capability-building activities to enhance local governance.

When I was assigned at one LGU as a representative of the government agency where am hitherto holed up, a private organization once conducted a skills training in the formulation of an LGU profile to the local employees.

In another LGU assignment, a private sector conducted a skills training on the conduct of a feasibility study, formulation of a project proposal and conduct of a financial analysis to LGU functionaries, officials and barangay officials. In both instances, the LGU took charge of the venue and other nonfinancial aspects of the training while the NGO partner took charge of financing, facilitating and supervising the conduct of both trainings. This is a cool example of a fruitful partnership between an NGO and an LGU for a worthwhile activity.



Cesar G. Bonilla
Team unity

LAOAG CITY -- Young people can play a big part in the socio-political transformation of the country if they strengthen their moral fiber, by maintaining self-integrity, being a living example of virtues, influencing others positively, and serving as watchdogs of society.

The youth are the movers of society. The mass media can influence the molding of the minors and therefore should be responsible in the types of messages they show and project. Filipino youth are a veritable mine of wealth that needs to be explored and utilized for the service of their country. They have been time and again referred to as the future leaders of the Philippines.

In their hands lie the expectations of the whole populace on what the Philippines will become in the next century. The youth can make a difference because they are now the target of “technoplosion and infoplosion” (technology and information explosion). Such a tremendous responsibility is on the shoulders of Filipino youth today.

Being a genius is not enough for one to become a leader of the youth. Being an alumna or alumnus of a superior and exclusive college or University does not mean that he or she is the carrier of nobility and greatness compared to those who graduated in the province. Morality and uprightness are considered the armor of the youth. Thus, the elders should strengthen the social values of the youth, for they are the molders of the minds of these youth.
The Catholic Church’s espousal of the use of natural birth control methods spring from the values placed on human life, and the ethical problem of preventing its conception by a man-made means, which deprive, instead of give, life. What the government and the Church should do is to join forces together to seek means to solve the population problem.

hey should seek peaceful means to solve the more engulfing issue of poverty, which can be remedied through better use of natural resources, providing employment opportunities, or distributing land fairly through agrarian reform. The issue of family planning and Reproductive Health Bill should be tackled in the realm of reason according to one’s conscience to ease the burden of poverty from the poor’s shoulders.

Productivity is always associated with responsibility if the situation requires. The use of artificial methods by means of condom, pills, and other instruments can affect the social, spiritual, and moral values of the younger generation. All of us should be the model of this great crusade regarding the elimination of the vices and ills of society especially in the presentation of life. Life is a gift from God.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Fe Cayao- Lasaw for the success of M2CS who won over equally competent institutions of learning in different fields of knowledge. M2CS was the champion in editorial writing, 4th placer in news and feature writing, 3rd in photojournalism and cartooning. Lance Banez bagged the third prize in photography feature and Vivien was 5th place in feature and news writing.

Mommy Fe is a paragon of womanhood. Despite her success in the medical profession, she is humble and approachable especially to those who are in need. I can call her “Mommy” because she is truly measured by words and deeds. Being her spiritual son is an inspiration to keep the words of the Lord God in my heart despite the trials of tribulations that somehow, a propeller to see the rays of hope amidst the thickening clouds of temptation. More Power, Mommy.

Data Center College of the Philippinewill celebrate DCCP Palaro Dec. 4-6 at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Sports Center in Laoag City. The theme is, “Team unity and progress in sports.” Students will compete in different games like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, sepak takraw, chess and other rewarding sports activities.

The presence of Joseph D. Sicco, president of DATA, VPAA Dr. Vicente A. Bonoan, DVPAA Nenita A. Respicio, Arlene P. Coloma, administrator Efren V. Valdez, head for student affairs, and sports coordinator Danilo Mark T. Dumlao can give much encouragement to competing teams.

One of the highlights of the intramurals is the Search for Mr. and Ms Palaro 2008. The awarding ceremony will be held on Dec 6 with the help of the officers of CBS under the leadership of Emelda G. Juan. Emelda was one of my students in world literature last year.

Dr. Vicente A. Bonoan expounded the guiding principle sports saying physical fitness manifested during intramurals should not end there; rather it must be a daily life affair. People who take life easy and who gorge themselves with cholesterol will travel easier to the grave. “But those who accept the slings and arrows of fortune without complaints will enjoy life with longevity. Indeed, the truth about this is truly manifested in the way we nourish ourselves with the manna of discipline, a sound mind in a health body.”

Clean-up, he said, means not only garbage reduction, recycling and composting but rehabilitation of waterways in a sustained manner and re-greening of the entire country through reforestation and tree planting everywhere, in rural as well as urban areas. In the face of the ecological wastage and destruction of forests and the pollution of bodies of water in the archipelago, the campaign takes an added significance if all of us are participants to this noble endeavor. This campaign for the greening of our environment must be one of the topmost programs of the local government.
I would like to greet the readers of this well-known newspaper like: Grace A. Domingo DATA supply officer, Bernie S. Domalanta, and to all the ladies and gentlemen working in the David’s Tea House in at the 365 Mall like: Rochelle Pagar, Clair, Crista, Mitch, Harry, George, Maneth, Arlene, Arthur, Dick, and Ferdz. More power to all of you.
The Sisa portrayed by Dr. Jose Rizal our national hero, has the semblance of submissiveness with that of the modern Sisa whose life had been played by powerful and influential giants of society. Sisa is about alligators and oppressors of people who continue to chastise the poor by their greed and insatiable appetite for power.

Better are the souls or spirits without a mortal body for they cannot feel the pain of hunger, sickness, and helplessness. I can feel the presence of the despotic and high-minded colonizers who disregarded individual rights and general welfare for the sake of vanity and hallucination for power. History repeats itself.



Glo Abaeo Tuazon
Range where buffalos roam

O give me a home,
where the buffalos roam. ....
where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.

I was very sick most of the day, but we have something planned and I so much wanted to see it. A friend told me of a place up the mountains of Samoki, Bontoc, where some incurable ailments were sometimes healed. Not that I'd go there for the purpose but it got me all curious, besides I heard the place was really pretty too. With legs like logs and my head bursting to infinity I followed and trudged uphill.

Taking the route of the Bontoc-Banaue road running parallel the river we took a sudden hitch and left the paved road. From here the ricefields of "Faniash" can be seen. Green in all expanse, broken only by the white, grays and browns of the river traversing next to it. I looked away and started a painful but uncomplaining climb. The pine trees here are huge, some are mother trees I say.

Curling up their limbs or stretched all the way to Heaven, like creatures communing with the Great Being. Looking at them made the hike a little bit better, draining away my pains and soothing my thoughts. We came to a place where a previous bonfire took place and was told we need to burn something for the forest dwellers, like a safe passage to the mountains.

And then we came to a small hut. Strewn inside were relics of tobacco leaves hanged on small poles staked to the ground. Bottles of empty and half empty gins were around too and the ashes of old fires. This I learned is one of those places, wawalikan or wawalitan. Walit or walik to mean the ritual, to invoke and call upon the spirits for the ease of those who are sick, and leave sacrifices that they might delight in.

Modern days would see people going to hospitals and resorting to medicinal drugs for cures, but even those sometimes could not heal a man. In the pagan belief of sacrificing to the spirits, or to ancestors gone ahead, people here sometimes resort to doing this traditional practice, hoping against all hope for a reprieve. I once saw a similar ritual in another place, and I can feel the hair on the nape of my neck rising. I know it would not be far from what they do in these places.

In an area ahead called Pula, we smoked the trees again. It reminded me of the American Indian practice of doing the smoke signals. As we trudged ahead I could sense the life in this place. That in the silence of everything, one could almost hear the whispers of the leaves as we passed by. T

he pine needles cushioning our feet on the forest floor added to the echoing silence, yet nevertheless the chirping of birds were so pronounced that the sounds seem to stretch to eternity. The swishing of the winds through the gaps among the trees annihilated most of my bad moods and pains when we first started. The beauty of the place is unlike the other places I’ve been into. This place is raw beauty. Raw and comforting in a different way.

The last few yards to the destination saw the rain catch up on us. I decided Id love the rain on me this day and like kids catching the rain on a summer day, we welcomed the soaking embrace of cold, cold streams draining the fatigue of the weary souls. The clearing soon appeared, to my surprise. It was a wide span of ground, naked and bald except for the carpet of grass. On the left side was a shallow lake, something like a marshland, a little bit wider than the clearing.

Its banks lined with old and ferocious pines and some willows, the branches dipping their fingertips on the waters. My eyes were all aglow with glee, like a kid left on a prairie and running wild among the dandelions. The city left me hungry for places like these.
And I took it all in, wallowed in it like an animal caged too long and tasting the first licks of freedom. Every mountain has a certain effect on me, different in every place. Here was freedom and solitude and healing. You can shout your heart out for all the pains you have and the world would care for once. This is "Posong". I

n the wonder of it all, I wished for this place (and similar places like these) to stay the way it is. With the herds of cows and buffalos roaming the place wild and free. The untamed rural beauty, something you would give a day (or forever) to stick in the mind, a reminder that God does have a way of making us realize the simplest of everything is much more precious than the complexities of modern services.

Given the warmth of the campfire and the smell of smoked meat on the fireside was enough to sate me today, downed with a dose of cold spring water. I don’t mind the dirt and grime, my toothy grin is enough to compliment my aesthetics today. In this place I found another home in my heart. email:


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