Lingayen officials press for citihood

>> Sunday, March 29, 2009

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- Local officials here headed by Mayor Ernesto “Jonas” C. Castaneda, Jr. are pushing conversion of this capital town into a component city, noting its improving economic development the town has gained for the past several years.

Castaneda said Lingayen is now more than qualified to its citihood bid and can now comply with the requirement to become a component city.

Started from a poor 4th class municipality in 1992, Lingayen has gradually become an economic tiger since Castaneda become the town’s municipal mayor after initiating successfully a number of economic programs aimed at uplifting the living conditions of the people here, livelihood for the poor-farmers and fishermen, among others.

“Lampas na kami sa requirements na magiging Component city ang Lingayen dahil gumanda ang pangkabuhayan ng mga tao dito at umangat ang aming ekonominiya,” said Castaneda.

Castaneda ran unopposed in the May 2007 elections, breaking the political record in this huge capital town since this was the first time that a mayoral candidate was not contested.

Castaneda cited the pouring in of various investments opportunities, the rising of a number of hotels, restaurants, the arrivals of tourists-foreign and local- and the sprawling of various infrastructures in and around the town as the concrete proof that Lingayen can now be qualified to become a city.

With the support of Governor Amado Espino, Mayor Castaneda expressed optimism that more developments will be occurred here, saying “Gov. Espino is bent really on making this town as a premiere city in the coming days.”

The soft-spoken mayor has also cited the peaceful environment of the town as he lauded the police leadership under Supt. Harris Fama for their efforts in maintaining peace and order in the capital town which is one of the most peaceful towns in the country.-Mar T Supnad


80,000 signatures being gathered to abort plan: Religious group spearheads opposition to Baguio casino

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio Multi-Sectoral Group, an umbrella organization of religious associations in this mountain resort city, will spearhead the opposition to the operation of a casino in Camp John Hay here.

BMSG will gather at least 80,000 signatures to pressure national and local officials into abandoning a plan to operate the high-end gambling joint in CJH.

BMSG decided to launch the signature campaign and mass protest against the casino after it obtained a copy of a supposed contract between the Bases Conversion Development Authority and Fil-Estate Penta Capital Corp. on the plan to establish a casino in the world-class recreation facility.

Lawyer Alexander Bangsoy, BMG spokesman, said the supposed contract was signed last year but its existence was confirmed by the group only last week when it got a copy of the deal.

Due to the existence of the agreement, Bangsoy said, various sectors reacted and decided to conduct mass actions to voice out their opposition to the casino operation in CJH.

In 2004, the group, together with the academe and civic organizations in the city, had succeeded to abort the plan to establish a casino when it led a mass protest and gathered over 100,000 signatures.

The religious leaders are confident they can duplicate the successful drive with a big crowd and more signatures.

At the same time, the concerned sectors will be closely watching every move of the city officials in connection with the plan for the operations of the casino.

Under the agreement, BCDA will help Fil-Estate secure a franchise from the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. to operate a casino in CJH.

The group is hoping that Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. will make good his pronouncement that there will be no casino operation during his stint as the city’s chief executive.

As of March 23, the city government had yet to receive a formal application or letter of intent from any group interested to operate a casino in the city.

The city council recently passed a resolution requesting concerned authorities to investigate the alleged casino operation or presence of high-stakes, on-line gambling in CJH, a former American rest and recreation center.

But the Baguio City Police Office and the National Bureau of Investigation have not yet come out with a report on the alleged high-stakes, on-line gambling.

During the past administrations, the city government had been issuing statements and resolutions opposing all forms of gambling in the city.

It was noted, however, that it was not able to stop the proliferation of lotto outlets and bingo games as well as other forms of illegal gambling in the city.


2010 presidential tandem: Kaya Natin holds talks on Panlilio-Padaca bid

By Joan Capuna

ILAGAN, Isabela -- A group pushing for the tandem of Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca in the 2010 elections is holding exploratory talks with various groups and individuals to fortify its ranks.

Lawyer Harvey Keh, convenor of the Kaya Natin Movement, said they are open to discussions with all groups, be these from the left or right of the political spectrum, “as long as they believe in our advocacy.”

At present, Keh said they are holding talks with the Moral Force of Chief Justice Reynato Puno on the possibility of helping each other in advocating for genuine reforms in government.

Kaya Natin is also holding talks with Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Movement, former Gen. Danilo Lim who has expressed his desire to run for senator, party-list groups and others whom Kaya Natin feels support their advocacy for a clean government.

According to the group, they have received pledges and donations from ordinary Filipinos since a possible Panlilio-Padaca tandem for president and vice president, respectively, in the 2010 polls surfaced.

Keh said they expect to have a clearer picture of the political climate by July.

By then, he said they would decide whether to form their own political party or coalesce with an existing one.


P336 M set for Benguet road projects

By Dexter A See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The national government recently earmarked P336 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of four secondary national arterial roads in this vegetable-producing province to improve the accessibility from farms to markets.

Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa said out of the total fund allocation, P213 million will be used for the upgrading of the Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Buguias road, P53 million will be used for repair of Bokod-Gorel-Kabayan-Abatan road and P70 million to improve the Itogon-Dalupirip and the Baguio City limit-Mount Santo Tomas roads.

While the province was not able to get allocation for State of the Nation Addresss projects the past several years, Dangwa said there are still vital road networks in the province which needs appropriate funding from the national government in order to improve accessibility for the benefit of the farming communities and the residents as a whole.

The Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Buguias road connects five major vegetable-producing towns in the province and serves as an alternate route to the Halsema highway, especially during the rainy season when the latter would be closed to vehicular traffic due to landslides.

On the other hand, the Gorel-Bokod, Kabayan-Abatan road serves as an alternate link to three towns in the southern part of Benguet.

The Itogon-Dalupirip road connects several barangays of the town to a proposed road network that would exit in San Manuel, Pangasinan where the San Roque dam is located while the Baguio city limit-Mountain Santo Tomas road is a link from the Summer Capital of the Philippines to Kabuyao Sto. Tomas, one of the prestigious tourist destinations in the province because it is overlooking the Ilocos Region and is the site of the numerous communication towers owned by telecommunication, broadcast and television companies.

Dangwa said rehabilitation of the roads, especially the Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Buguias road, will greatly help in reducing the lucrative marijuana trade which the cordillera is known for because farmers would venture more on farming because of the improved accessibility which means lesser transportation cost on their part.

Dangwa said Benguet supplies at least 80 percent of the country’s vegetable requirement, thus, it is important for government to provide appropriate funding support to lessen the problems of farmers on the absence of good roads to lessen the transportation cost of their products from the farms to the market here. – Dexter A See


Banaue rice terraces being converted to veggie farms

By Juan B. Dait, Jr.

BANAUE, Ifugao—Some 20 hectares of abandoned rice terraces in this highland tourist town are currently being reopened and converted into vegetable farms under an arrangement among the local government unit, the Department of Agriculture and the National Economic Development Authority.

The tri-agency project, called the Alternative Vegetable Production (AVP), calls for the municipal government of Banaue under Mayor Lino Madchiw to organize the rice terraces farmers through the conduct of regular advocacy and institutional building sessions.

The DA will provide technical assistance to the terraces farmers and establish nurseries and demonstration areas where the farmers will learn from agricultural technicians the rudiments and techniques of vegetable farming.

The NEDA will provide funding for the operations of the AVP project for year 2009. The agency has already allocated a grant of P680,000 and mobilization is now in full swing, according to Jimmy Cabigat, Banaue municipal agriculturist and head of the agricultural team.

Mayor Machiw’s office is in charge of the implementation of the project which aims to supplement the meager harvest of rice terraces farmers through vegetable production and ultimately make terraces farmers economically self-sufficient.

Nine barangays of this town have been initially selected for the implementation of the AVP project. The barangayts are: Poblacion, Viewpoint, Amganad, Tam-an, Gohang, Oha, Kinakin, Bocos and Anaba.

Cabigat said that the following vegetables will be raised in the gardens: cabbage, wongbok, beans, squash, carrots, eggplant, ampalaya and okra.

Marketing of the vegetables produce will not be a problem, according to Cabigat. Aside from the local market in this town and adjacent municipalities like Hingyon and Lagawe, the vegetables can be absorbed by the markets in the lowlands like Isabela and Nuve Vizcaya including Bontoc in Mt. Province

Mayor Machiw is highly optimistic that in the light of the present economic crisis which had also affected his town, the Alternative Vegetable Production project which he heads will greatly alleviate the plight o this town’s low-income rice terraces and help solve the nutritional problems of school children.

Many of Banaue’s world-famous rice terraces have dried up or have been abandoned due to such factors as destroyed or non-functional irrigation systems, low yield from harvests from the rice terraces, immigration of farmers to other places like the mining areas to look for better job opportunities, and the lack of interest of the Ifugao youth to cultivate the rice terraces.


Esperon eyeing Congress seat

PASINGAN, Pangasinan – From being an Armed Forces chief to presidential adviser on the peace process and now head of the Presidential Management Staff, will a Pangasinan congressional seat be the next target of Hermogenes Esperon Jr.?

Esperon, a native of this town, said there’s a possibility he will give it a try, confirming reports that he is eyeing the sixth district’s congressional seat in the 2010 elections.

“Malamang (Possibly),” said Esperon, who was in Sto. Tomas town to attend the Cabinet meeting presided over by President Arroyo last week.

During his military stint, Esperon, who studied at the North Central Elementary School here, was able to visit his hometown only during fiestas to renew friendships and recharge.

As PMS chief, he said he can now concentrate on various projects of the President like irrigation and farm-to-market roads, and as chairman of the Pro-Performance Team, monitor the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway that extends up to Pangasinan and La Union, as well as other big projects.

“So if I can do it in other areas why can’t I do it also in Pangasinan (particularly in) the sixth district?” he said in Tagalog, adding that he also wants to serve his own kabaleyan (provincemates).

He said he has started consultations with eight of the 10 mayors in the sixth district.

Esperon said he sought the advice of sixth district Rep. Conrado Estrella IIII, who is now on his third term.

He added he has discussed his plan with former President Fidel Ramos, who also hails from this town, and that he got an encouraging response.

Right now, Esperon busies himself as designated head, together with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, a fellow Pangasinense, of the President’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program in the fifth and sixth districts of Pangasinan. – Jennelyn Mondejar


Lawyer: Slain nursing student was not raped

By Dexter A See

BAGUIO CITY — The lawyer of one of the two rape-slay suspects in a celebrated case in this mountain resort city said the DNA examination conducted on the 17-year-old nursing student, who was reportedly sexually abused and dumped dead in Bareangay Balacbac last October, allegedly showed she was not raped.

Lawyer Abelardo Estrada, legal counsel of Allan Carl Kier, one of the rape-slay suspects, said since there was no rape based on the reported DNA examination, then there was no probable cause and charges should not have been filed against his client.

While Kier has been detained at the Baguio City Jail since his arrest several weeks ago, the 16-year-old suspect, who is said to be the former boyfriend of the victim, was released on recognizance of his mother as provided for under Article 35 of Republic Act 0344 or the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act.

The victim was identified as Chesca Paronable, 17, single, a nursing student, a former resident of Campo Sioco, and who was last seen alive at around 6:30 am last Oct. 16 before she was found dead the following day.


DA decision on hybrid rice fund hit; ‘big chance’ lost

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — City Agriculturist Gilbert Cawis assailed the decision of the leadership of the Department of Agriculture to give 50 percent subsidy for hybrid rice seeds and 100 percent subsidy for inbred seeds in this current cropping season, saying with this decision, the government has missed a golden opportunity to promote the planting of hybrid rice.

This is ironic because hybrid rice is being touted as the savior of the country from the chronic rice shortage.

“Had they consulted us on the grassroots level, we would have told them that the percentage of the subsidy should be equal. What happened is that because the inbred seeds were given free, the farmers opted to plant inbred varieties instead of the better-yielding hybrid varieties. They should listen to us because we directly deal with the clientele doing the actual planting,” Cawis said.

Cawis also said although the local farmers usually get 10-15 percent higher yield from hybrid rice, they chose the inbred varieties not only because these were free but because they also got good harvest with certified inbred rice seeds.

“What could have tipped the balance in favor of hybrid seeds is if the percentage of subsidy were equal,” Cawis said.

He is not also in favor of the DA’s plan to give P1,500 and P600 subsidy for hybrid and inbred seeds, respectively, this next cropping. He said that amounts to 50 percent subsidy for inbred seeds. And while it may also be 50 percent for hybrid seeds produced by the government, it could be only 33 percent in the event farmers choose hybrid seeds produced by private companies.

Cawis said he disapproved of the practice of importing rice, adding instead of importing, the government should increase palay support price because higher price would lead to increasing domestic production. -- EAJ



City gov’t prepares to build Sto. Tomas trash dumpsite
By Aileen P. Refuierzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government will soon begin ground preparations for its engineered sanitary landfill project.

Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. has given the go signal for the conduct of land survey, identification and evaluations of the 2.9-hectare city property at Sto. Tomas School Area barangay recently chosen as landfill site.

The said processes are required before the landfill project can be prosecuted.

City Environment Management Office head Romeo Concio said that after passing the resolution confirming the site, the city council will also have to officially identify the area as disposal site as a requirement of the law.

In Administrative Order No. 60, the mayor created the Sto. Tomas Property Land Identification Task Force composed of city personnel with technical capabilities to undertake the land identification and survey to establish the metes and bounds of the property.

The task force will be composed of Engrs. Luis Ortencio of the city assessor’s office, Edward Magalgalit of the city building and architecture office, Gerald Sannad of the city engineering office and Virgilio Tumayan of the city planning and development office, Salvador Goyala, Edwin Ingosan and Roland Obello of the city environment management office and three police personnel from the city police office.

Apart from conducting the actual identification, survey and evaluation of the lot, the task force will also be tasked to coordinate with barangay officials and residents on the plans and activities of the task force and to prepare and submit to the Baguio City Solid Waste Management Board evaluation reports, plans and other pertinent documents generated during the identification and survey.

The body was also tasked to submit a report on its accomplishments after a month.

The Sto. Tomas lot was recently chosen over four other shortlisted options as the final location of the planned landfill. It is said to be the most advantageous since it is located within the city and would require the least development cost of P61 million.

Concio said the city will also have to begin the process of conducting a survey on social acceptability to satisfy the requirements of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources.

A full-blown feasibility study on the site will be made preparatory for the city’s application for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR.

Construction or development proper will only begin upon satisfaction of these requirements.

Concio said the city plans to develop the first cell which will require a one-hectare area of the lot. He said this cell can contain the city’s wastes for three to five years. The succeeding cells can be developed in future.

The establishment of a landfill has been identified as the city’s final disposal facility after the closure of the Irisan open dumpsite pursuant to Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The mayor said a safe disposal system is also included in the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan of 2002-2008 and the Medium-Term Development Plan of Baguio City for 2005-2010.

Stringent rules set in Baguio anti-smoking law
By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has adopted the rules and regulations to implement Ordinance No. 8 series of 2008 or the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Baguio City.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in public utility vehicles, government-owned vehicles or other means of public transport, accommodation and entertainment establishments, public buildings, public places, enclosed public places or any enclosed area outside one’s private resident or private place of work except in duly-designated smoking rooms.

The rules defined all areas where smoking will be banned:

PUVs would refer to public utility jeepneys, buses, taxis and other vehicles used in the transport of goods and members of the general public. Accommodation and entertainment establishment refer to restaurants, fastfood chains, eateries, motels, lodges, inns, boarding housing, disco houses, videoke bars and movie houses or any other place offering food, sleeping, accommodation and recreational facilities to the public for a fee.

Public building refers to any building or structure owned by the government and used for government purpose or one that is owned by a private person but used exclusively by the government or any of its instrumentalities or any building used or controlled for public purposes without reference to the ownership of the building.

A public place refers to gasoline stations, banks, malls, town squares, terminals, shopping or business arcades, schools, churches, hospitals, cinema houses, gymnasia, funeral parlors, barber shops and parks.

As per the rules, establishments are required to designate a smoking room or area which is totally enclosed or physically segregated but properly ventilated and properly marked by a sign posted saying “Smoking Area.”

The sign shall include a warning in English about the ill effects of both smoking and secondary exposure to tobacco smoke.

Accommodations and entertainment establishments can however opt to be considered as smoking establishments but must first obtain registration with the Office of the City Mayor.

Persons liable are any individual smoking within the prohibited areas, any passenger, driver, conductor or inspector of government-owned vehicles or PUVs, or the president or manager, owner/proprietor or operator of accommodation and entertainment establishments who “knowingly and willfully allows, abets or tolerates and/or fails to warn, advise or report violators.”

The Health and Services Office and the City Building and Architecture Office are tasked to inspect and certify the appropriateness of the designated smoking areas while the inspection of tourism-accredited and non-accredited establishments shall be done by the city health office in coordination with the city administrator’s office.

The rules also give establishments 60 days to comply with the requirements including the registration of accommodation and entertainment establishments with designated smoking areas.

For the penalties, violators will be meted fines ranging from P500 to P2,000 or imprisonment or not less than one to six months or both upon discretion of the courts.

Failure to comply with the 60-day period would be a ground for business permit revocation.

Establishment owners will be subject to following penalties: P300 fine or one month imprisonment or both for the first offense; P500 fine and two months imprisonment for second offense and P1,000 fine and four months imprisonment for third and subsequent offenses.

PUV violators are subject to fines ranging from P100 to P500 and imprisonment of from one to three months.
Three violations of the rules shall be ground for cancellation of the establishment’s business permit.

3 Samaritans sustain patients’ fight to live
By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Supporting the sick and needy can be addicting.

Expatriate Baguio boy Freddie de Guzman, an architect in Canada, recently sent P19,225. It was the latest in a series of humanitarian remittances he quietly began sending about three years ago.

From the fund, P3,500 paid for the latest chemotherapy session of John Brix de Guzman, an eight-year old boy battling leukemia. A total of P1,155 was used for the infant formula of a baby boy whose 32-year old mother can’t breast-feed due to her own medication for affective bipolar disorder.

Freddie also reached out with a P4,000 support to English teacher Noemi Harold of the Irisan National High School and P645 for the medicines of a woman inmate of the city jail. Both women are afflicted with cancer.

He contributed P3,000 to a joint fund drive of the Venture Club and Minda’s Buddies, a support group for cancer victims headed by cancer survivor Marivic Bugasto.
Freddie’s personal effort began when he read of the plight of a then 49-year old widow and mother of nine diagnosed for breast cancer. He bankrolled her chemotherapy and the patient went on remission.

Since then, Freddie never stopped sending amounts, even after he lost his job last year. He admitted his days can’t be complete without reconnecting to Baguio. He said a friend helped him out with the latest remittance.

Another Samaritan who requested anonymity recently delivered P10,000, also his latest in over a year, to bank executive Rolly de Guzman of RCBC.

Of it, P2,500 helped the family of John Roe Aclopen, a 17-year old boy from Camp 8 who recently succumbed to a rare disease medically known as spiral cerebral atoxi. An equal amount went to the family of 44-year old Christopher Guzman of Loakan Proper who was diagnosed for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Adonis Togana, another high school teacher battling cancer, received P2,000. The remaining P3,000 was divided equally for social welfare officers Jane Concepcion and Letty Tumbaga.

Jane and Letty have worked for years helping ease other people’s suffering. As social workers of the city, they reach out to the sick and needy, sometimes using their own resources. Recently, both were diagnosed for cancer.

From southern Germany, fourth dan traditional karate instructor Julian Chees of the Shoshin School advised that part of a P66,000 fund he earlier allotted for three orphans in Ifugao be used for other patients.

Of it, P6,000 helped settle the burial costs for Jessica Tampol, an eight-year old pupil at the Rizal Elementary School who recently succumbed to complications of diabetes.

From the Shoshin (Beginner’s Mind) fund , P359.75 paid for a can of infant formula for the same toddler being supported by Freddie. This was aside from P510 for the baby’s elder sister, who turned 11 last month.

Another P500 settled the elementary graduation fees of a son of Rhoda Boquiren, whose family could hardly make ends with what she earns from sorting recyclables from garbage.
Julian recently sent P10,000 to support Anabel Lampaz, a mother of eight facing eviction for the nth time for non-payment of rent. A lady Samaritan in New York also offered form lumber the family needs to build a shanty so it won’t be evicted again.

Freddie and Julian had requested anonymity, but relented when told releasing their names would give a human face to the humanitarian cause and perhaps inspire others to take on their addiction.

Europeans top list of tourists in Cordillera
BAGUIO CITY — Europeans have remained the top foreign tourists in the Cordillera the past several years because the region’s attractions met the preference of nature lovers and adventure seekers, a top official here said.

Purification Molintas, regional director of the Department of Tourism in the Cordillera, also expressed optimism tourist arrivals from Europe would continue even with the current global financial crisis.

Aside from Europeans, foreigners visiting the region’s beautiful tourist destinations included Americans, Asians and other nationalities.

The DoT official said Europeans are considered nature lovers, thus, destinations in the region such as the famous Banaue rice terraces in Ifugao, the caves in Sagada, Mountain Province and the white water rafting in Kalinga suit their interests.

Molintas said the local tourism industry does not yet feel full effects of the global financial crisis since most foreign tourists arriving now have booked their travels in advance.

She said the country might feel the pinch of the global crisis by next year, adding the improving economic situation in the country would spell the difference in the region’s lucrative tourism industry.

DoT studies showed a foreign tourist in the region spends from P2,500 to P5,000 daily. Thus, more tourists in a certain locality would mean additional income for residents and businesses.

The region’s booming tourism industry, Molintas said, is getting a big boost from the implementation of road rehabilitation projects that improve accessibility to tourist destinations.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has made the rehabilitation of several road networks in the Cordillera as her priority to beef up economic development in the rural areas.

With the completion of Phase One of the Halsema highway rehabilitation project from Baguio City to Mount Data, Bauko, Mountain province, Molintas said foreign and local tourists are now willing to take the circuit from Sagada, Mountain Province to Banaue, Ifugao and then to the white water rafting areas in Kalinga.

Completion of phases two and three of the Halsema highway and improvement of the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road would further boost local tourism because more potential destinations would be accessible, she said. – Dexter A See

Palace to release P68 M Baguio share from PEZA
BAGUIO CITY – The national government will only release P68 million out of the P125 million share of the city government from the operation of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority based in Barangay Loakan here due to expected decline in revenues arising from worsening effects of the global financial crisis.

This was bared by Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan, who added the balance of P57 million will be allocated in the succeeding national budgets, thus, the city will have to wait for a little more time in order to receive the full amount from the nati9onal treasury.

According to the lawmaker, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. told him the P68 million fund will be available for release once the P1.4 trillion national budget will take effect 15 days after the President shall have signed the same.

Domogan said the fund to be taken from the national budget will be used for the initial development and rehabilitation of the Baguio Athletic Bowl located within the premises of the Burnham Park, the city’s premier tourist destination, so it will conform with international standards for hosting regional, national and international competitions.

While expressing disappointment over the reduced release of the supposed city’s share, the congressman said it is better to take the amount rather than have nothing at all so development of Athletic Bowl and Burnham Park could start and be completed in time for the city’s centennial celebration on Sept. 1.

Domogan added the city must understand the predicament of the national government as revenues are expected to go down because of the worsening effects of the global financial crisis, thus, the P68 million is a good amount to jumpstart and complete whatever development plans are prepared for the Athletic Bowl and Burnham Park.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management rejected the insertions made in the 2008 budget in the amount of P125 million for the payment of the city’s share from the PEZA operations because of certain technical issues that were immediately settled.

To ensure that the city government would receive the amount this year, Domogan worked out during the House deliberations on the budget the inclusion of the same amount so that the city could maximize its utilization, especially for the development of the idle Athletic Brown and Burnham Park.

The solon assured local officials he will work out the inclusion of the remaining unpaid balance amounting to P57 million in next year’s budget so that the national government could settle its obligations with the city and the funds will be utilized for the implementation of more impact projects that will serve as an added tourist attraction for this mountain resort city.

Burnham Park and the Athletic Bowl will be the major sites for numerous events that were lined up for the celebration of the city’s centennial anniversary, thus, the need for a total rehabili8tation of the two facilities located at the heart of the city. -- Dexter A. See

New salary scheme for gov’t workers backed
By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council approved a resolution supporting the House of Representatives Joint Resolution No. 24 which calls on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to modify the compensation and position classification system in government and implement the same initially effective July 1 as well as authorizing the amendment of existing laws and issuances contrary to the proposal to give a big boost the country’s civil service sector.

The region’s policy-making body pointed out there is an urgent need to bolster the standardized compensation scheme and to correct inequities between positions as a means of revitalizing the civil service.

The speedy action of the President on the matter would stop growing demoralization among government officials and employees because of the inequitable position classifications that do not actually conform with the times, the RDC said.

Earlier, the House of Representatives issued Joint Resolution No. 24 urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately introduce acceptable and practical revisions to the existing compensation scheme and position classification system of the bureaucracy in order to update the same, enhance its performance and orientation.

The proposed revision of the civil service system seeks to distinguish differences in levels of responsibility and accountability among government employees and officials.

The RDC said it is imperative for all government employees and officials to support and advocate for the adoption of reforms in the existing compensation and position classification system of the government by appealing to the President to revise the current system in accordance to the policies, standards and guidelines provided in the proposal.

According to the RDC, Resolution No. 04, series of 2009, the most expedient way to provide an adequate and competitive compensation package for government employees is for the President to exercise her authority to revise the existing system to what would conform with the times, especially with the onslaught of the global financial crisis which is slowly taking its toll in some parts of the country.

The supposed revision in the government’s compensation and position classification system is in consonance with the national government’s bid to come out with a lean and mean bureaucracy capable of dealing with the trend of the times so that officials and employees will be motivated to give their best in discharging their sworn duties and responsibilities as well as pinpointing accountable individuals.

The national government has temporarily suspended the implementation of the rationalization plan which is said to create a lean and mean bureaucracy because of the expected serious negative effects of the global financial crisis to the country’s economy, especially in the generation of jobs for the people, particularly the upcoming members of the labor force, the fresh graduates.

Rob victim fined for bouncing check
BAGUIO CITY -- A victim of robbery was penalized here by a bank last week for a bouncing check.

According to the victim, she was called up by Robinson’s Bank informing her that somebody was going to encash her check amounting to P33,000.00, but it lacked fund so she had to deposit additional fund.

The victim said she was surprised for she never issued any check to somebody.

Upon verification made by the bank, they found out that the amount of P33,000.00 was already deposited to a certain person at BPI Dagupan Branch.

Because of what happened, the victim was made to pay penalty fee of P2,200.00 to the bank for the check.

Early this March 18, the victim also discovered that one of her checks with check number 3588728 or 358-8729 was also missing.

Before she would be penalized again, she went to Police Station 7 to blotter the said incident.—Deborah Dogillo

Reckless driver hits mother, speeds off
BAGUIO CITY – A jeep driver is now being hunted by police for hitting a young mother with his vehicle along Scout Barrio jeep terminal March 16 around 3:30 p.m.

Complainant May Sharon Y Balbin Alagao, 29, who went to the city police’s Station 7 to report the incident, said the jeep, which plies the downtown-Scout Barrio route hit her elbow and knees then immediately sped away.

Police said Balbin, with her child alighted from a jeepney but the jacket of her child fell down.

When she picked it up, the Scout Barrio-bound jeep coming from Perfecto St. reportedly hit the complainant and without any word, sped away.

The victim, native of Mt. Province is married and residing at Barangay Irisan. -- Krista Giselle G. Seda

Inmates hold course on organic cooking
BAGUIO CITY --Inmates of the city jail showed literal proof of the pudding by dishing out food to toast their completion of a crash course on organic food cooking last March 16.

Thirty six who finished the training – 11 women and 25 men – served French bread, chocolate cupcakes, squash juice and other recipes within their temporary means after Dr. Federico Martin, assistant city schools superintendent, confirmed them graduates.

Martin said their finishing the course handled by volunteer teacher Irma Koon is proof “there is life at the end of the tunnel”. He expressed hopes “that your interest (in learning) will be sustained.

The course was initiated by jail warden, Supt. Rebecca Pawid, schools supervisor Arthur Tiongan and coordinator Whitney Dawayen of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education.

Earlier, the jail management, the city schools and the Baguio City Schools of Arts and Trades represented by vocational administrator David Bungallon inked an agreement to pursue non-formal literacy and vocational education programs for the inmates.

Tiongan also announced the conduct of classes to allow inmates to apply for academic promotional accreditation in lieu of and equivalent to regular elementary, high school and college grades and years.

“Walang magawa e,” a trainee said to explain why he joined the cooking class and went on to admit he enjoyed it.

The inmates set the mood of their graduation with a rendition of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and ended with a hip-hop performance.
Pawid recognized the efforts of Koon and the cooperative agencies for their support to the jail’s reform program. – Baguio City Jail Inmates’ Press Release.

PhilHealth to increase benefits starting April
Effective April 5, all PhilHealth members and their dependents admitted in any of the 1,500 strong partner hospitals across the country will be enjoying increases in their hospitalization benefits.

This after the issuance of PHIC Circular 9, s.2009 on PhilHealth’s Revised Inpatient Schedule which is in line with its mandate to provide a responsive, adequate and more equitable benefit package especially in the light of the global economic crunch.

PhilHealth President and CEO Dr. Rey B. Aquino in his recent service caravan to the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga, Mt. Province and Benguet said that PhilHealth will be increasing its benefits by 35 percent to as much as more than 100 percent aggregate for room and board, drugs and medicines, x-ray, laboratories and others, operating room fee, and doctor’s professional fee.

Depending on the patient’s illness case type, a member would now be able to avail of daily subsidies for room and board ranging from P500 to P1,100 if confined in a Level 3 & 4 (Tertiary) hospital such as the Baguio General Hospital, SLU-Hospital of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame de Chartres, Pines City Doctors’ Hospital, BCU-Sto Nino and Benguet General Hospital in La Trinidad.

Also in the same hospital category, members would now enjoy a ceiling of P28,000, from a previous P16,000 for drugs and medicines for illnesses categorized under Case Type C.

Illnesses belonging to this case type include cancer necessitating chemotherapy, end stage renal disease requiring dialysis, and many more classified under the International Coding of Diseases-10th Edition (ICD-10) set by the World Health Organization

This new set of inpatient benefits will apply to all PhilHealth members such as the Private and Public Sector Employees, Individually Paying, Overseas Workers, Sponsored, and Lifetime Program members for their confinements here and abroad.
Meanwhile, Elvira C. Ver, Regional Vice President for PhilHealth Cordillera urged accredited health care institutions and practitioners to refrain from jacking up their hospital and professional rates so that the increase in the inpatient benefit package would be more meaningful and the burden of hospitalization is minimized.

Flavier cites parables in launching hospital facility
By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Former Health Secretary and Senator Juan Flavier was recently home in Baguio to open one more medical facility funded out of his congressional allotment during his three terms in the Senate which ended in 2006.

“This is the only invitation I accepted in the last two years,” he said at the inauguration and blessing of the Infectious Disease Building of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

The third BGHMC building to be built through his initiative, the edifice will also house the out-patient service of the Psychiatry Department and the Drug Rehabilitation Unit.

In a speech interspersed with his signature wit and humor, Flavier drew cheers when he announced the BGHMC “is one of the best (medical facilities) in the country”
“I also said that (for the medical facility) in Tarlac,” he added, eliciting laughter. .
“I have two messages for you,” he said. “First is that no matter what you do, continue to learn, for learning is the key to life.”

He recalled that, as a young doctor, he had to learn, to be able to serve the barrio people in Nueva Ecija and Cavite..He said he had to learn what it takes to pursue community development (as president the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction), and later to work as secretary of health and as senator.

“Second, whatever you do, there will be people who will criticize (you for it),” he said, drawing from lessons of parables he wrote based on his experiences as a barrio doctor and community development worker.

Earlier, Flavier also initiated the construction of a new main building and a facility that upgraded the Psychiatry Department of the BGFHMC and reconstruction of the Baguio Health Department building, aside from new classrooms for the Baguio City National High School.

With him the in the program were Rep. Mauricio Domogan; regional health director, Dr. Myrna Cabotaje; BGHMC chief, Dr Manuel Factora; professional and medical staff chief, Dr. Jimmy Cabfit; and hospital chaplain, Fr. Bobby Mangonon who blessed the new edifice. .

A product of the Baguio City High School and the University of the Philippines, Flavier finished his masters in public health at the Johns Hopkins University.

As health secretary from 1992 to 1995, he initiated innovative approaches to public health, among them “Oplan Alis Disease” nation-wide immunization program for children, “Yosi Kadiri” anti-smoking and “Sangkap Pinoy” nutrition campaigns.

His effectiveness in rallying sectors of the community to support these health campaigns under the battle cry “Let’s DOH it” earned him the “Filipino of the Year” citation from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.His grounded skill in community organizing, together with his humility and sense humor have endeared him to many.

During an election rally here for his first term in the Senate, Flavier checked facts when the master of ceremonies who introduced him as “one among us, one who grew up in Baguio”.

“Agpayso nga taga-Baguio ak ngem kitaen yo man no dimmakkelak (I’m really from Baguio, but look if I grew up),” he told the crowd, referring to his diminutive frame.

Among his notable pieces of legislation were the Traditional Medicine Law, the Poverty Alleviation Law, the Clean Air Acty and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.



Shabu ‘pusher’ nabbed, released 4 times; jailed

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- An alleged notorious pusher of shabu in the target list of drug personalities in the Cordillera, was rearrested after being apprehended and jailed for three times, prosecuted and acquitted two times in the past, all in Baguio.

The suspect was identified as Allan Nider y Sunga, 40, married and high school graduate, was busted with Frits Besselink y Batnag, 29, married, 2nd Year college and a driver. Both are residents of Baguio, although the latter claimed he was half-Dutch.

Nider and Besselink were arrested around midnight of March 24 after reportedly selling a sachet of shabu to an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency who acted as buyer during a buy-bust operation carried out by the unit at Rimando Road. , ABCR (Andres Bonifacio-Caguioa-Rimando), Baguio .

When frisked by arresting officers, Nider yielded four more sachets of the illegal drug, which were placed in his belt bag.

The Samsung and Motorola cellular phones, and public utility jeepney bearing plate number AVK 500 with Mines View-Baguio City route, used by the suspects for the ‘entrapment’ deal, were seized as additional evidence against them.

Besselink’s other Nokia 3315 phone was also confiscated when the anti-drug operatives found a suspiciously concealed odd compartment in the gadget where sachets of shabu can fit. The suspect said he only used shabu and didn’t peddle.
Cases for illegal drugs will be filed against the two suspects.’

Nider was first arrested with a companion for illegal drugs on April 15, 2003 along Quirino Highway (popularly known as Naguilian Road) in Baguio by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

The two suspects were nabbed with .six grams of shabu. The criminal cases against them, filed at the Branch 61, 1st Judicial Region, Regional Trial Court of Baguio City were dismissed on May 10, 2005 .

On August 21, 2005, or a little over three months after his acquittal, Nider was again apprehended for drug violations at San Carlos Heights, Irisan.

He was busted with another cohort, a certain Dolores Dakin, by regional PDEA operatives, where nearly half a gram of shabu was confiscated from them. The cases against the two were dismissed at the prosecution level on Sept. 27, 2005 .

Nearly two years later, on March 6, 200 , Nider was nabbed once more at Carnelia Alley, QM, Baguio City by members of PDEA.

He was then with another cohort named Renato Busoy y Esquerdo. Nearly a gram of shabu was seized from the duo. Cases for illegal drugs were filed against the suspects but the respondents were acquitted on Jan. 8, 2008.

5 ‘shoplifters’ nabbed in La Trinidad, Benguet
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet — Combined police operatives here arrested a group of women whose modus operandi consists of shoplifting valuable items from big stores along the Halsema highway, particularly in the towns of Atok and Tublay.

However, the group’s get-away vehicle and its driver managed to slip through a checkpoint established by policemen who were alarmed by the increase of shoplifting activities in the two Benguet towns.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, Cordillera police director identified the suspects as Lea Perez, 42, married, a resident of Malabon City, Metro Manila; Lisa Baga-an, 41, a resident of Quezon City; Grace Candeliria, 30; Leonora Apundar, 58; and a certain Marilyn Barracas, 37, all residents of Sucat, Parañaque.

Pestano said the modus operandi of the group was noticed by storeowners who noticed different shapes of the bodies of the suspects while going in and out of the big stores.

Some of the storeowners became suspicious after they noticed that one woman who did not look pregnant when she entered an establishment, came out later looking pregnant.

Among the victims of the notorious shoplifting syndicate was a grocery along Km. 50, Sayangan, Atok, Benguet, which engages in selling farm commodities and merchandise. – Dexter A See

Benguet town regulates cockfighting activities
TUBLAY, Benguet — The municipal council here has approved an ordinance regulating proliferation of illegal cockpits in this fifth-class town to ensure added income for the implementation of various priority projects which lack appropriate funding from concerned government agencies.

The collective action of the local legislators in passing the ordinance amidst criticism from religious and other sectors of the town was anchored on the argument that regulating cockfighting is better than controlling the said activity.
The council, however, justified its action by saying that the passage of the ordinance is not joining the gambling operations but it took into consideration the difficulty of controlling illegal gambling.

“Paddot,” the local term for cockfighting, has been said to be illegally proliferating in various villages of this town which resulted in criticisms by the local residents on the failure of their local officials and law enforcers to act on stopping the illegal activity.

Under the ordinance, the municipal government will issue permits and licenses for the operation, establishment and maintenance of cockpits and to regulate cockfighting as well as the commercial breeding of gamecocks.

The measure also establishes a centralized cockpit, whether for bladed or non-bladed cockfighting for better supervision and regulation. – Dexter A See

Cordi PNP chief bars cops from wearing camouflage uniforms
By Dexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Regional police authorities here ordered law enforcers not to wear camouflage uniforms when doing their duties and responsibilities in urban centers of the Cordillera since it would send a wrong signal to the populace.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, regional police director, said camouflage uniforms cause tension, thus, law enforcers should not be the ones creating unde pressure on people.

According to him, cops in camouflage uniforms could eventually drive away tourists which contribute to growth of local economy thus, policemen should not make the wrong move by wearing their camouflage uniforms and strutting in public in full battle gear.

Pestano said law enforcers are the protectors of peace and order in the country and must be the ones leading by example.

The police official’s reaction came after Manila’s Finest Brotherhood Association Inc. issued a manifesto strongly opposing a memorandum issued by higher authorities requiring them to use camouflage uniforms during special operations.

Pestano said of law enforces will be allowed to use such uniforms and roam in populated areas, people will be frightened and would spread stories which might result in eventual reduction of tourist arrivals.

Pestano made a commitment to local reporters that policemen in the region will not be required to wear their issued camouflage uniforms so that they will remain as the guardians of peace.

He said peacekeeping and anti-criminality campaign is not achieved through the use of camouflage uniforms but it is done through constant communication with the community coupled with efficient and effective law enforcement.

Pestano said anti-drug operations and the campaign against loose firearms or hardened criminals does not require the policemen wearing camouflage uniforms but it should be done in a manner by which the rights of the concerned individuals and the community will be protected from being abused by policemen.



NARS program benefits 6 Mountain Province towns

BONTOC, Mountain Province — Six towns in this province will benefit from the implementation of the national government’s Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) program intended to improve health services.

The towns of Paracelis, Natonin, Barlig, Sadanga, Besao, and Tadian, will be getting five nurses each to boost the health-care and employment programs.

The NARS program was envisioned to generate employment for unemployed nurses who are tasked to perform public health functions and clinical work.

This is expected to enhance their employability in local hospitals and eventually in medical centers abroad.

The nurses hired by the national government will be deployed in their hometowns as "warriors of wellness" to undertake primary health care, school nutrition, maternal health programs.

They will also conduct first-line diagnosis, inform the community of water sanitation practices, hold health surveillance, and immunize mothers and children.

The nurses will be receiving an allowance of P8,000 per month, and because they will be working in their hometowns, the transportation will not be a big problem on their part.

Earlier, the national government announced it will be hiring at least 5,000 nurses in the whole country under the NARS program whose objective is to strengthen the delivery of the basic health-care services especially in rural areas where there are no health clinics.

Despite the full implementation of the program in the different provinces, the Department of Health said those qualified under program are registered nurses who are physically and mentally fit and willing to serve in their hometowns and who meet the other requirements such as valid license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission, not over 25 years old, resident of the identified beneficiary municipality and those who had no nursing related practice in the past one to three years.

The six provinces in the Cordillera -- Apayao, Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province -- were identified as beneficiaries of the NARS program.
Mountain Province has distributed its allocations to the fourth-to-sixth-class municipalities that badly need additional health workers.

Health authorities said employment under the NARS program is a giant step towards gaining experience in the profession. This would help the nurses when they apply for overseas employment. – By Dexter A See



Tineg town gets help on food production
By Robert L. Domoguen

TINEG, Abra -- Over the past years, this remote upland town had been known for its inaccessibility, poverty and recently, the murder of a mayor.
The municipality’s negative profile is fast changing presently. Mainly through the efforts of the office of Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, Tineg may yet be transformed into a progressive municipality.

This projection and change for the better, begun with the completion of a new Philippine National Police building. A new municipal building is also under construction.

Recently, Bersamin coordinated with local folks for planting of forest trees and fruit trees to promote the maintenance of communal forest areas and greening of individual lots.

Bersamin’s initiative to disperse development assistance to the upland municipalities of the province reverses the previous development thrust of his predecessors.

During the foundational years of Abra, it was known as one of the richest province of the country. That image has been tarnished by the notorious murders of politicians, religious people, and other individuals giving Abra the monicker, “killing fields of North Luzon.”

During our conversations at his office last week, he said that Abra will yet regain its former status as one of the progressive and peaceful provinces of the country. To do that, we need to disperse available resources and invest in the development of all the municipalities.

He admitted the difficult task is huge and cannot be solved overnight. He admired the initiative of some mayors in planning well for their municipalities and helping him in this endeavor.

One reason why highland Abrenians remain poor up to this day is because they have to travel all the way to Bangued to buy basic necessities or simply have documents signed by their local officials. All municipalities of the province must be developed so that they can enjoy some form of “autonomy” in their own places in handling even these simple and basic necessities, he said.

Bersamin discussed a lot of proposals with Department of Agriculture-CAR Regional Executive Director Cesar Rodriguez to achieve his vision to alleviate the current plight of the province’s 27 municipalities.

He is working with all sectors who are willing to advance agricultural development for the province.

Specifically for Tineg, Bersamin is working with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for the production of off-season vegetables in barangays Alaoa and Apao starting on the month of April until December.

About 30 farmers will be involved in this project. He turned-over a greenhouse from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support this project.

Christopher Sulloy and Walter Peralta, both ministers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said that the joint project will not only provide income for the farmers but also addresses the nutrition problems of Abrenians. Abra is considered among the “food provinces” of the country because of the limited supply of vegetable crops for the locals from May to November.

During these months, the vegetable supply of the province comes from the Ilocos, Central Luzon and even as far as Mindanao. During the typhoon months, however, vegetable are usually scarce, and command very high prices.

Jesus Valmayor, Senior Agriculturist said that Tineg town is ideal for the production of vegetables because it is situated from mid to high elevation. Irrigation is also abundant and soil is very fertile. The project is also seen as an opportunity to lure back the Tineg folks who abandoned their farmlands in search for livelihood in Bangued and nearby provinces, he added.

CHARM-2 development projects to start in Abra
By Robert Domoguen

BANGUED, Abra – The Provincial government of Abra is ready to support the implementation of the recently launched second phase of the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management (CHARM-2) Project in the province.

Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin assured Agriculture regional executive director Cesar D. Rodriguez and local stakeholders his support on the project following consultation with municipal mayors, representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, barangay captains, agriculturists, planning and development officers, and engineers from the new coverage areas of CHARM-2 in Abra last March 19.

For Abra, eight highland municipalities were targeted as coverage areas for the CHARM-2 project.

This is aside from three old municipal coverage areas to include Sallapan, Bucloc and Boliney towns.

The PLGU identified new municipal and barangay coverage areas as Luba, Lacub, Malibcong, and Licuan-0aay with a total of 20 new barangays.

The old and new coverage areas now comprise the total areas where the CHARM-2 project will be implemented in the province.

Of the six provinces of the Cordillera, Abra is the first to complete identification of new CHARM-2 coverage areas following project guidelines and processes in identifying the project areas.

Philip Tinggonong, provincial planning and development officer and Gerardo Banawa, provincial coordinating officer, also announced composition of the organization of the project’s steering committee, an urgent loan compliance commitment between the Philippine government, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and implementing provincial government units for the CHARM-2 Project.

Bersamin said that he appreciated inclusion of the highland municipalities of Abra in implementation of the CHARM-2 Project noting stringent, process-oriented and transparent strategies adopted by project proponents to ensure that benefits will redound to the beneficiaries.



CDIG: No hints of suicide or foul play in chef's diary

ANGELES CITY -- The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said the diary of a Mexican chef who was found dead at the Fontana Leisure Park in Angeles City, Pampanga last Dec. 26 does not contain evidence to determine whether she committed suicide or not.

CIDG director Chief Supt. Raul Castañeda said the Spanish embassy has forwarded to his office the translation of the entries on the diary of Elisa Gutierrez, 25, which was among the items recovered from her room hours after she was found dead.

“Majority of what she wrote in her diary was related to her job. There is no entry giving any hint that she would end her life or that somebody wanted to kill her,” Castañeda said.

The CIDG chief also cleared a policeman in Gutierrez’s death because of her bad impression of him.

“The appointment yesterday was bad,” Gutierrez wrote in her diary, referring to the policeman. “This person is ugly, ugly, ugly, big stomach and smells strange… but this person is no more, don’t like him.”

Police initially declared Gutierrez committed suicide but Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno ordered a reinvestigation upon the request of her family who refused to believe that she killed herself.

When found hanging from the metal brace on the ceiling, Gutierrez, a sous chef, had stab wounds in the neck, chest and abdomen, which the CIDG are now trying to determine whether they were self-inflicted or not. – George Trillo



State-of-the-art security gadget launched in LU
By Mario Supnad

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union- A state-of- the- art security gadget internationally called “Wi-Max” has been launched in this component city not only to further improve its security services but also to provide residents of much cheaper internet and communication services.

This was learned from Don Sevilla, president of the e-Smart cybertech solution Inc., a U.S. based company, who said his company had installed Wi-Max gadget in the city, including 11 barangays here which he described as the first ever unique security gadget launched in a province in the country.

The installation of the security gadget was welcomed by the local officials headed by Gov. Manuel Ortega and Mayor Pablo Ortega who are security conscious in their bid to maintain the peaceful environment of the province.

The Ortegas appreciated efforts of Sevilla to make La Union as his company’s first pilot project as this will certainly further improve the province’s security and cyber technology.

Sevilla has been rushing the setting up of his company office at the city center to enable the people here avail of their services once the company’s operations kick off in the next few days.

Sevilla has been coordinating with Director Amadeo Yabes of the National Telecommunications Commission for the smooth processing of his company’s requirements, among others.

“We are very thankful to the Ortegas and Director Yabes for their all-out support on the launching of this modern cyber technology in their bid to have their constituents availed of our services which is more modern, cheaper and accessible,” pointed out Sevilla, a Filipino citizen who has been engaged in cyber tech business for 30 years in the United States.

According to Sevilla, the Wi-Max feature was originally adopted by Israel, not only improving its military services, now a force to reckon with internationally. “Israel is so tiny country and yet its enemies cannot invade that country due to its high military technology,” stressed Sevilla.

This was the first time that e-Smart launched its services outside Metro Manila after successfully launching its first ever gadget in The Fort, Taguig City which he described as very successful.

“You can monitor almost every criminalities occurred in and around the area and can even focus closely inside the content of a car, buildings, among others where the suspects may possibly hide,” added Sevilla.



Airline flights opened in Vigan
By Freddie Lazaro

VIGAN CITY — Regular flights of inter-island commercial airlines officially started at the Mindoro-Vigan domestic airport here last week.

At least a twice-a-week travel has been set by Inter-Island Airlines Co. on its 60-seat airplane. Its flight schedules are as follows:

From Manila domestic airport to Vigan, every Thursday and Sunday afternoon from 4 to 5:15, and the return flight from Vigan to Manila, every Friday and Monday morning from 7 to 8:15.

During the inaugural flight of the 60-seat Inter-Island Airlines plane last Thursday March 18, the aircraft landed at 5:45 p.m. Aboard the inaugural flight were 34 passengers led by Ilocos Sur Gov. Deogracias Victor "DV" B. Savellano and Rep. Ronald V. Singson.

Residents, government officials, businessmen, local media people and students trooped to the domestic airport to welcome the first flight of the commercial airline in Vigan.

Savellano said it was a breakthrough for the province of Ilocos Sur to have commercial flights at the Mindoro-Vigan Airport..

The fare for one-way travel is P3,450.

"Our province, which is considered as heritage province due to its UNESCO recognized sites such as the Sta. Maria church and the century-old houses in Vigan City has a lot to show when it comes to tourism. With the flights of domestic airlines at the Mindoro-Vigan airport, this will hasten the visit of tourists here," Savellano said.

"With the flights of Inter-Island Airlines, the province of Ilocos Sur and Vigan City will become more accessible to foreign and domestic tourists and investors, and this will contribute to the improvement of our trade and industries," Savellano said.

Savellano added if more tourists arrive in the province, the private transport sector and producers of unique local products will be greatly benefited, and so the operations of commercial flights at the local airport will generate jobs and income for the residents.



Policy shifts on Baguio casino

The repeated changing of positions by local officials relative to certain key issues and concerns, triggered by socio-political pressures from influential groups and individuals, does not speak well of the country's political and economic stability.

This observation was raised by business and tourism industry stakeholders in Baguio who viewed the “changing positions” of officials as “sending the wrong signals” to prospective investors about to infuse fresh capital that would perk up economic activities in urban centers around the country.

This “flip-flopping” in investment policies by government was once again raised by the sectors in connection with the controversial casino issue inside the Camp John Hay special economic zone.

On November 2008 and February 2009, the Baguio City Council passed resolutions opposing the prospective casino operations inside Camp John Hay. In 2003, the same local legislature approved and passed a resolution giving the go-signal for casino operations here.

These business and tourism sectors said the city council in 2003 which passed the resolution was then presided over by Vice Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr., acting as presiding officer. That 2003 resolution set conditions that the casino would be open only to tourists and CJH Club members.

The recent acts of the city council is a virtual reversal of the council’s 2003 stand, catching investors by surprise, local business said. Meanwhile, the city is reportedly losing millions of pesos in foregone income from the delayed operation of a casino inside the camp.

Bautista earlier expressed apprehension that a 2003 Supreme Court ruling on CJH had weakened the 19 conditions imposed by the city government as a requisite for its development, which includes a prohibition against a casino inside the facility.

The Supreme Court in several decisions said the city government or any local government unit cannot pass an ordinance or a resolution to prevent the operation of a national law.

Industry stakeholders said policy stability in local governments, like on the issue of casinos is essential to economic development. However, they said, the government will not progress any further if it continues to change its positions, especially when these have implications on investments flowing into the local economy. Under the law, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. is the entity that grants license to any interested party to operate a casino.

So what happens next? For sure there would be no casino at Camp John Hay until after next year’s elections when the new set of officials would determine its fate.



Alfred P. Dizon
Unholy alliance of ‘fixcals,’ drug pushers

The “war” against illegal drugs in this Banana Republic is considered an exercise in futility if the government doesn’t have the will to go against “big” and “medium” fishes. These are the people who engage in the illegal business or connive to earn profits worth millions of pesos. These characters are usually composed of the drug lords and people in government usually holding sensitive or high positions.

The small fishes are usually the ones who get jailed if they don’t have the money to bribe their way to freedom. This is the usual sentiment of the man on the street and Drugs Board chief Tito Sotto better come up with more effective means to stop the menace than issuing “praise releases” or this blighted republic will become another Columbia where drug lords reign supreme – they dictate what government officials should or ought not to do
There have been a lot of incidents of lawmen, government officials and those in the judiciary of being in cahoots with illegal drug dealers as reported by media. Make your conclusions on this incident in Dagupan City:

Due to another technicality by Dagupan City Prosecutor Pelagio Palma, a certain Michael Cali Bagul, alleged notorious leader of the Bagul Drug Group was released. According to Ilocos regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency officials, Palma was the same prosecutor who released the drug personality last year.

On Jan. 30, 2008, Region 1 PDEA elements nabbed Bagul and wife Analiza who topped the list of the agency’s wanted persons in the region. The two were arrested in an entrapment operation at their home in the Muslim compound of Bonuan in Dagupan.

PDEA regional director Roberto S. Opena said proper cases were filed against both suspects but these were immediately dismissed as Palma did not believe that a buy-bust operation took place and the technicality on the buy-bust money never being recovered.
Analiza Bagul’s charge of Section 5, (selling) of Article II of RA 9165 was reduced to Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs), a bailable case while her husband was eventually released. Not giving up, PDEA agents continued their intelligence operations against the alleged drug leader and cohorts.

On March 21, Michael Bagul was caught in the act of selling one heat sealed plastic sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in front of his store at Fernandez St., Barangay 2, Dagupan. He was charged with section 5 on the same date but filing was delayed and postponed due to the unavailability of the duty prosecutor until March 23 this month. Palma insisted on the ordinary filing of the case as the 36 hours detention of a suspect lapsed. Michael now roams the streets of Pangasinan again.

“We are not taking this seating down; we are sending a letter to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales informing him on what’s going on around here” was the curt comment of Opena, saying the PDEA would file a motion for reconsideration of the said case.

Opena earlier heard over DZRH telling anchor Joe Taruc in the latest arrest of Bagul, Palma went to a baptism so PDEA agents had to wait for him so the case would be filed. When Palma returned around 2 p.m. to his office, he reportedly dismissed the case ruling that the prescriptive hours in detention of a suspect had lapsed as Bagul had to be released. The PDEA agents could only shake their heads in exasperation reportedly saying had Palma been earlier, the prescriptive period could not have lapsed.
Meanwhile in Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet, Cordillera PDEA press relation officer Emely Fama said authorities arrested a member of a high school drug group after conducting a buy-bust operation last week.
Chief Insp. Edgar Apalla, OIC regional PDEA regional chief identified the suspect as George Perto y Tugade, 18, single, 1st year high school student, native and resident of Lebeng, Badeo, Kibungan, Benguet.
Perto, was arrested while selling marijuana to a PDEA agent on March 22 around 8:30 p.m. during an entrapment operation at Km 6, Bebag, La Trinidad, Benguet. Confiscated from Perto during the buy-bust operation were 12 of marijuana fruiting tops weighing around 20.55 kilos valued at P513,750.

Perto later told cops he entered the illegal drug trade to be able to go to school. He admitted he collected marijuana bricks from other cultivators and sold these to middlemen. A case for illegal drugs is set to be filed before the office of the provincial prosecutor against Perto who was set to be incarcerated at the provincial jail at press time.



By Ike Señeres
A new force in telecoms

MANILA -- The convergence of information and communications technologies is really still in the infant stages in the Philippines and much more have to be done to make it happen. Singapore still appears to be the leader in this global trend, after it successfully merged its information and communications authorities into one, now known as the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

Here in the Philippines, we attempted to merge our information and communications technologies into one by forming the Commission on Information and Communications Technologies (CICT) but politics seemed to have prompted the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to leave the merger, leaving only the National Computer Center (NCC) as the surviving information component in the aborted merger.

I remember that during my stint at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), we successfully merged the Code, Radio & Telephone (CORATEL) and the Management Information Systems (MIS) units into one, thus making the DFA a pioneer of sorts in the convergence trend. I also remember that we tried to bring in the Diplomatic Pouch unit into the merger, but politics apparently prevented it.

In the national scale, I remember that the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHILPOST) was also supposed to be part of CICT, but the government backtracked on that too. Up to now, I still believe that the mail system in every country should be part of the convergence trend even if politics would tend to prevent it from happening.

On a smaller scale, I know of some software companies here that have already successfully merged Shot Messaging Systems (SMS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into one seamless application, thus making it a potent 3-in-1 package.

Also back in my DFA days, I remember that we successfully created the APEC Communications and Database System (ACDS), a system that was hailed by the APEC ministers as an early example of convergence. Looking back, the system was based on the goal of merging the telecom component (communications) and the information component (databases).

Some physiologists argue that alcohol is completely incompatible with the metabolism of Native American Indians, thus presenting us with the apparent reality that in some cases, culture and technology could not mix well. Perhaps in jest, we could say on the other hand that SMS and its companion technology Multimedia Messaging Systems (MMS) is made to order for the Philippine culture, since we reportedly send more SMS and MMS messages daily than any other country in the world.

Ownership of mobile phones and personal computers is different from access to these devices. In the case of personal computers, very few people own their units, but the have access through internet cafes and office networks. In the case of mobile phones however, most people own at least one device, thus giving them multiple access to mobile services.

Using our common sense, it would be logical to think that if we want to give more access to the digital world to more people, we should aim for the convergence of computers and mobiles. I say that there should be convergence, because these two devices are really supposed to complement each other and not compete with each other.

I also remember that during my days as the Director General of the NCC, I wanted to bring the country to an ubiquitous state where anyone could communicate with each other from anywhere, using any device. Sad to say, some countries have already achieved this state, while we are still having trouble in merging our technical authorities.

Believing that big things could have small beginnings, I started Teleforce Enterprises, a small business that will be providing information and communications services to individual and corporate customers. In starting Teleforce, I am hoping that I could bring together my experiences in the past, for the benefit of customers who are looking for affordable solutions.
Right now, Teleforce is ready to provide database services to customers who would like to enhance these databases with SMS, MMS, GPS and GIS features. Even if done only on a smaller scale within corporate settings, it is already possible to have an ubiquitous state, where customers will be able to transact with vendors anytime, using any device from anywhere.

While the tax on text is being debated by the Congress, Teleforce is looking for ways that will enable large groups of customers to buy cell phone loads at lower retail prices. The OFW Family Club is one example. They have more than 700,000 members now who are buying their loads at retail prices. Aside from loads, their members are also buying other goods and services on a retail basis, thus making them a prime target for bulk suppliers of goods on negotiated terms, using electronic commerce.

Email to join the UNIDA Yahoo Group or text +639293605140. Go for wellness now!



In a world of their own
(As suggested by Alex and Annabelle Bangsoy, Johann Dacawi fills this page for the second week while I’m on seminar.- RD).

A few months after Lukie was born, I decided to buy a DVD player. It had been a long time since we’ve seen a good English language movie. While we were in Malta back then, we would spend our day offs in the cinema and now that we are here in Italy, we missed watching a good film.

So I bought out first DVD. I also registered in one of the DVD rental shops, rented a couple of disks and we watched them. I spent about 250 euros for the DVD player and my wife told me it’s too expensive for a player. She was right, but the player that I bought, made by Sony, was also a video game console. It’s actually a Playstation 2 and I told my wife that it would also be for Lukie to play with when he grows up.

The very first game I bought for my son was the Formula 1 2001, a game of racing. When I was alone with Lukie I would put him on a sling to put him to sleep and play the game with him watching until he gets tired and sleepy. Not long after, when he turned two, he would grab the joy pad and try to play. Lukie learned quickly and at age three we were already playing along side each other. He would cry when he came in second so I let him win most of the time.

When Lukie started going to daycare, his teachers asked my wife what he does in his free time. They said it was too early for him to play video games. They are probably right but he was learning how to read with the PS2 and learning a bit of geography, too. Believe me, by that age he could tell the brand of car and say where it came from or a race track and where it was located.

When he turned four he started to beat me. When he did it for the second time and then the third, it annoyed me, it really did.

One parent in the internet blogged about the bad effects of video games. She vowed never to buy any of these games for her kid even though her son was asking for one. I think that she was being a little too harsh on her decision. I wouldn’t deprive my kids on games that technology brings. To me it is only a matter of controlling their playing time and the choices of games.

My son can not play any game until he is done with all the homework he has. On school days we let him play for just 30 minutes or so. Or we would let him read and practice his writing skills before he plays. The only bad thing that we saw in our son when he plays is that he gets rude and angry when he is bothered or we ask him to stop playing. Other than that, everything is good.

The thing that bothered me was when we went to a birthday party a year ago and I told Lukie to play with the other kids. He came back after awhile looking bored and I found out that the other kids wouldn’t let him play with their video games. I felt sorry for him and told him to just watch them play and he did.

In another birthday party I was shocked to see that all the kids there busy playing some video game, except Lukie. That didn’t concern me; what bothered me was that every kid was in a world of his or her own! A boy was playing with a Gameboy, another was with a PSP, two were shooting villains on an X-box and another two were playing with the computer. I went to another room and all the children there had their heads bowed down on a portable game. There was definitely something wrong with what I saw and it hit me right in the core.

I thought about the parents of three boys in the party. Each boy had a game in hand and after eating they started to play till it was time for them to leave. The parents of the three boys must have a lot of free time to themselves, I thought.

At the party no one played hide and seek, no one played with toys, and no one interacted with anyone.

When I was a kid, I think my parents were relieved that I never asked or pestered them on buying me a video game. I guess I knew then that we couldn’t afford it. Luckily, a cousin of mine and some of my friends in our neighborhood had video games and they would let me play. They always shared back then. And when I was at a party, I always played with the other kids because it’s the thing to do.

The last time we went home, a couple of years ago, I visited my karate Dojo at the YMCA. I asked my teachers why there weren’t many kids practicing. They told me I could find them in computer rental shops. No one was enrolling because children play sports on computers, they said.

One cold Sunday afternoon in the house, Lukie was playing with the PS2, Dylan was clicking away with his toy laptop, my wife was raconteuring on her blog site and I was in Lukie’s room playing with the PSP. That day we were all in a world of our own. – Johann Dacawi.



March Fianza
Dissecting James Balao’s case

I have known James Balao since our college days when we used to hang around the music bars in Baguio after school. That was the time when the in-things were music, laughter, mini-concerts, dirt bikes and conversing with friends. His brother Winston, sister Nonnete and their cousins were also in the circle of folk and country music buffs.

It has been more than six months since James Balao, a member of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines and co-founder of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) has been missing. His work with the CPA involved research and teaching about issues on tribal conflict, ancestral lands, agriculture liberalization, serving as the mediator in clan and tribal conflicts.

James left his rented apartment at Fairview Barangay, Baguio City in the early morning of September 17 and was to visit his parents at Km. 5 in La Trinidad, Benguet when five men in a white SUV forcibly took him at gunpoint. His abduction came four months after he told family and friends that he was under constant surveillance.

In their search, his family and friends in the organization may have followed the process which they know was proper, including the filing of a petition for the issuance of the Writ of Amparo in court. However, there are questions which I believe could help James’ case and which are vital in helping unravel the mystery regarding his disappearance. These questions bug my mind as they remain unanswered to this day.

One, I have not heard of any investigation conducted on his companions in his rented place. Are they missing too or have they gone into hiding voluntarily? We have to know. Surely, he had a friend or two in that apartment.

Second, James’ belongings in that apartment should have been kept intact and un-tampered as part of the whole evidence that could have helped shed light on his disappearance. Were his belongings transferred in the presence of the family, police or barangay officials?

Third, since this is a case of abduction which is a criminal act, it is but proper for the authorities to find out who took out his belongings from the apartment. Where are his things at Fairview ?
I understand the predicament of investigation work which now faces a blank wall especially when important evidences in places linked to crime victims are not preserved for investigation purposes. Indeed, lapses on investigation procedures are encountered because other factors interfere with evidences and crime scenes.

Fourth, Why did James not stop at their old house at Km.5 where his parents lived but instead, went straight to Tomay Barangay where he was abducted and which is about three or more kilometers away from where he said he was supposed to go?

If he dropped at Km.5, his abductors could not have carried out their evil act because that section of the highway is crowded anytime of the day. There could have been several witnesses who personally knew him if the abduction happened there.

James is from Km.5 and probably, Km5 boys know him too. He knows that aside from being the loading and unloading area for all jeepneys plying the Baguio-Trinidad-Acop route, Km.5 is the central business district of La Trinidad that contains a police station, a public parking area and market center at the other side of the road.

Fifth, was it possible that James was trying to lose a surveillance team, reason why he did not stop at Km5, or was he to meet up with someone at Tomay? Why Tomay… why not Km5 or Km6 or anywhere along the Trinidad road where there are people who may be possible witnesses?

Sixth, did he talk to any person at the Tomay store before his abductors came? If he did, was it possible that his abductors knew the person he talked to, and that everyone, including James, was waiting for something to happen in that somewhat quick ‘reunion’?

Seventh, curiosity creeps when I ask myself why in such an insecure situation and in a considerable length of time travel, James was not able to call or text a single message to anyone. Was he on lowbat or no load…? We do not know.

In a recent decision in Balao et. al. v. President Arroyo, et. al. RTC Judge Benigno Galacgac said, the likely motive for James’ disappearance was “his activist or political leanings,” which includes his life’s work advocating for indigenous peoples rights. That too has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Still fresh in the mind are the murders of Lean Alejandro, Rolando Olalia, Ka Popoy Lagman, Romulo Kintanar, peasant leader Raymundo Tejeno in Bondoc Peninsula , Akbayan Party member Florente Ocmen in Agusan del Norte, and many others that happened just lately. It was not clear, however, if they were killed by government forces as some were reported to have been ‘eliminated’ by their former peers. James’ case is different.

Below are excerpts from the testimony of Rev. Canon Brian Grieves and Alexander D. Baumgarten on behalf of The Episcopal Church that was submitted to the United States House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations, Sub-Committee on State, Foreign Operations on March 18, 2009 on the disappearance of James… and I quote:

“Over the past three years, the military has been publicly denouncing the CPA as a “front organization” for the Communist party and accusing James of being a leader in the Communist party in the Cordilleras . As a result, CPA members are being assassinated, forcibly abducted, and tortured.

James Balao is clearly not alone. In 2008, the State Department reported: “According to local human rights NGOs, government forces were responsible for disappearances. By year's end the CHR investigated 20 new cases of enforced disappearances, abductions, and kidnappings involving 27 victims.” End of quote.

With these, they have earlier written the US Congress in February, and I quote:

“The perpetrators of these abuses continue to enjoy impunity and there is strong evidence that Philippine military officials responsible for human rights abuses will never face justice.” Despite the fact that the Philippine government did not meet any of the human rights conditions for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) in 2008, the Department of State provided the Philippines with the full FMF allocation.

We again ask that in order to receive FMF funding, the Philippine government must successfully implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur; those in the military and others responsible for the human rights violations must be prosecuted; and the vilification of legal civil society organizations by the military must end.

Additionally, we recommend that the United States Government undertake a thorough investigation as to where and how U.S. military aid to the Philippines has been spent, with particular emphasis on whether these funds are being used in ways that violate the people’s right to life, liberty, and security. We believe the rights and freedom of the Filipino people, including James Balao, cannot be fully realized until these steps are taken.” –



Gina Dizon
Weaving makes gains

Mountain Province is a weavers’ paradise. Finely woven products include the traditional tapis for women’s apparel and the traditional wanes (G-string) for men. These products have designs of lizards, diamonds, and eyes.

Other woven products are bags, purses, pouches, wallets, blazers, skirts, and wall decors. Weavers are found all over the ten towns of Mountain Province especially in Bontoc, Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, Sadanga, Barlig, Natonin, Paracelis, Tadian, Bauko with different designs and highlighted colors.

Paracelis has its unique Balladang woven materials resplendent in red and bright pinkish colors accompanied with small white beads. Sagada weaves, just like traditional Bontoc weaves have bright colors of red and green in their woven products including tapis, bags and wallets. Sadanga highlights the blue color. Sabangan and Bauko specialize in table linens with shades of orange, blue and white. Besao produces woven wall decors.

Sisters of the Immaculate Church of Mary taught women in Bauko and Sabangan how to do loom weaving. They produced table linens that were exported in the 70’s. Andrea Bondad who pioneered the famous Sagada Weaving also learned weaving skills from the Foster Family in Lepanto, Mankayan Benguet in the late 1960s.

A number of weaving enterprises now flourished in Sagada to include Kamowan, Sagada Mountainside Arts and Crafts, Sagada Weaving and Souvenir Shop, Sagada Indigenous Handicraft, Sagada Kindasan Souvenirs, Tam-aw Madongo Handicrafts and Sagada View Souvenirs.

Other weaving small scale enterprises are Asudan Weaving in Bauko, Lourdes Loom Weaving in Besao, and Paracelis-based Baladang Handicraft, ATT’s Handicrafts and Paracelis Weaving.

Meantime, the faltering village weaving industries in Samoki and Can-eo in Bontoc, Sabangan, and Guinzadan in Bauko, Botigue in Paracelis, and Lama in Tadian were revived through skills development given by TESDA, DTI, and DOLE. Institutional development is specially provided for Guinzadan weavers with support from DTI, Cordnet and DOLE and additional set up financing from DOST.

There are now at least 17 firms including four weaving villages in Can-eo, Samoki, Guinzadan and Paracelis. Weaving created at least 435 jobs as weavers and retailers. A major patronizer of locally woven products is the people from Mountain Province themselves.

Woven materials are especially worn as office uniforms. Other sales are generated during trade fairs and the Lang-ay Festival every April, aside from sales in souvenir shops in Sagada, Bontoc, Paracelis, and Sabangan. The sale of woven materials generated at least P27.8 million in 2007. While this is so, DTI notes that one of the major problems of weavers is that they have difficulty in procuring raw materials. Design and product diversity is another thing.

Marie Aranduque, proprietor of Sagada Weaving notes that weavers need to come together in order to address their commonly felt concerns and meet the demands of consumers as a bigger volume.

Ms Cecilia Dalog, the provincial Governor’s spouse, promotes Weaves and Designs, an initiative to promote the province’s woven products, one way through fashion trends. This event will specially be highlighted during the Lang-ay 2009 Festival April this year.



Cesar G. Bonilla
Successful graduates of Northwestern University

LAOAG CITY – March every year is a memorable month especially those who have made a name in their respective fields of specialization. Bright-eyed, young graduates leave the hallowed halls of their colleges and universities, eager to carve their names alongside those of great men and women who have changed society.

For these graduates, there is a world of exciting and countless opportunities. Filipino culture puts an extremely high premium on education. History reveals that Spanish friars established institutions of higher learning in the country as early as the 16th century, but these were opened to Filipinos only by the end of the 17th century.

Life in school can be taxing and scary but for college graduates who persevere, a bigger challenge awaits in the battlefield of life. Inside the classroom, a student learns to respect authority and follow rules imposed upon him. Just imagine a society wherein every citizen disregards and violates rules and regulations. Chaos would inevitably prevail.

A sense of responsibility is developed through years of schooling. The student begins to realize that homework must be done and deadlines have to be met. This habit of delivering the goods within the allotted time is the kind of work ethic that ensures success in the world beyond the walls of school.
I would like to give recognition to my beloved Alma Mater whom I consider still one of the best in terms of educational excellence. The Vedasto J.Samonte School of Graduate Studies under the leadership of Dr.Elsie C.Pilar, a pillar of educational advancement among educators and professionals, continues to give quality education to those who are seeking the light of knowledge as a way to serve the country and set an example worthy to be emulated by future generations of Filipinos.

Northwestern University will be honored for having successful graduates in masteral and soctorate programs. I would like to congratulate Floresita Calaycay Pe Benito (Doctor of Education), a model educator and an epitome of woman virtues. Her dissertation entitled, "Research-Based Student Manual" can be of great help in the academe. She has been a savant Professor of NU/

Another equally talented lady, Veronica Fuerte Guerrero (Doctor of Education) reaped the admiration of the University with her dissertation entitled," Computer-Based Strategic Intervention Material: An Alternative Delivery Mode for Improvement of Teaching English.”

She was one of the three teacher coordinators of the Southeast Asean Ministry of Educational Organization-Computer/Internet Technology Project representing the Philippines. Her performance in the organization qualified her to be one of the 16 Filipino teacher scholars of a short-term study and training on the "Introduction of Computer/Internet Technology for Teaching and Learning" at Nanyang University, Singapore sponsored by Singapore-US Development Program.Macario Rufino Arlante Salva(Doctor of Philosophy) was a Part-time Professor of Vedasto J.Samonte School of Graduate Studies and in the College of Arts and Sciences of NU.

He was a dean of CAS in1991-1992.He reaped several awards like 2006 Judicial Excellence Award as Outstanding Clerk of Court of the Philippines given by the Society for Judicial Excellence of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Outstanding Laoagueno in 2007 for government service, 2007 Diamond Jubilee Outstanding Alumnus, Northwestern University.

His formal treatise,” Development of Teaching Exemplars on the Law of Katarungang Pambarangay for Barangay Officials, upon Members, Educators and Students” a great contribution in the field of local governance. This man of wisdom had been an Alumnus of Divine Word College of Laoag and graduated summa cum laude.
Lawyer Eddie R.Gregorio(Master of Arts in Public Administration)is another recipient of scholastic honor in the Graduate School of NU under the Masteral program. His thesis entitled,” Correlates the Legislative Productivity of Sangguniang Bayan/Panlungsod Members of Ilocos Norte" can give us an insight about local legislation.

This exemplary graduate hails from Brgy.14,Piddig,Ilocos Norte. He was born on March 26, 1981 to Rosalindo and Wilma Ramento-Gregorio. He was class valedictorian when he graduated at Roosevelt High School in Piddig, magna cum laude when he graduated in 2002 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science at NU. He finished Bachelor of Laws in 2006.He is presently affiliated to Guillermo,Labayog,Garvida,and Gregorio Law Offices.

Despite her success, Eddie remains humble and friendly. Other excellent graduates include: Jennifer Lynn M.Felipe (Master of Science in Management Engineering) with her thesis,” Technology Integration Handbook in Mathematics," Gorge M.Bagaoisan (Master of Arts in Education) with thesis entitled, "Research-Based Handbook for Revitalized Scouting Program in the Elementary" added to the profiles of learning. Congratulations to all of you.

To the president of Northwestern University , Col.Ben Nicolas (Ret.) and the chairman of the board of directors, Col.Willie Nicolas ,Col.Roy Nicolas, thank you for the light of wisdom that NU has continuously provided for the sake of public service and for the educational, spiritual ,social and moral transformation of society.
DATA Center College of the Philippines is a well-known institution of learning in Ilocandia which has pioneered in computer technology. Its faculty members are competent. The motivation given by DCCP president Joseph Sicco,DCCP vice-president for academic affairs Dr.Vicente Bonoan, deputy vice-president for academic affairs Nenita Respicio, administrator Arlene Coloma, director of student affairs Efren Valdez,and heads of several departments.

I would like to mention the name of the dynamic dean of the criminology department Prof. Marcelo Montano from Baguio City for giving much inspiration to the future vanguards of our society. The students in criminology have been lucky for having a brilliant head in the person of Dean Montano.

I would also like to mention the kind and accommodating registrar Neva Manding, and the friendly and kind librarian Jocelyn Garalde, together with Cathy. To all the graduates of DATA Center College of the Philippines, may your journey in the pathways of life bring you abundant blessings and victories despite the trials and obstacles on the way.

Temporary setbacks are just temporary and can be overcome by faith, devotion to God, humility, and moral courage. Press on and never get intimidated with other aspirants from different colleges and universities. You must be proud of your institution and always be ready to defend its philosophy and noble principles. This is the source of your strength. Seek the guidance of the almighty God in all your undertakings. Your character must be beyond reproach. More power, graduates!


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