Lift moratorium on PUJ lines, DOTC execs urged

>> Sunday, May 31, 2009

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city council has urged the Department of Transportation and Communication to lift moratorium on applications for extension of lines that would allow existing public utility jeepneys to ply the unserviced routes in the city.

In a resolution authored by Councilor Richard Carino, the body requested the DOTC “to amend or make an addendum to Memorandum dated June 8 2007 to include the approval of line extensions among those franchising functions for which the moratorium was lifted.”

Carino said the city council made the same request through Resolution No. 262 series of 2000.

However, the same was not addressed even when the DOTC Secretary issued the June 8, 2007 memorandum.

The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) imposed a moratorium on applications for new PUJ franchises through Memorandum Circular No. 98-026.

Before that, the city council in Resolution No. 292 series of 1998 asked for said moratorium to stem the proliferation of PUJs and prevent the further clogging of the city’s streets.

“Petition for extension of line does not entail the entry of new units hence it will be more practical and in keeping with the moratorium imposed by the LTFRB
Memorandum and city council resolution than to admit new units to service unserviced areas or new communities,” Carino noted.

Carino said there are pending applications for extension of lines such as the Baguio Guisad Jeepney Operators Association and others.


First swine flu case posted in Cordi; extra care urged

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – City officials advised residents to be extra cautious but to remain calm now that the first case of Human Influenza A (H1N1) affliction has been confirmed in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Acting Mayor Daniel Farinas said as advised by health officials, there is no cause for alarm as the situation is under control but the public needs extra vigilance in caring for their health as a safeguard against the disease.

City health officer Dr. Florence Reyes said the first H1N1 case was confirmed by the Department of Health Cordillera director Myrna Cabotaje but no details on the identity of the patient and the circumstances of the affliction were divulged.

The patient is said to have recuperated but remained confined at home and monitored daily.

The DOH-CAR had been monitoring the first four suspected cases called cases under observation (CUOs), three of which had been cleared albeit eight new cases had been added to the observation list as of Friday even as intensive contact tracing and surveillance operations continue.

Reyes said the city is maintaining its advice for travelers from abroad – with or without symptoms -- to observe a ten-day self-quarantine and social distancing of six feet or two meters upon arrival to observe for signs and symptoms.

She said that with the opening of classes, the advice is especially directed to students, school faculty and staff, local or foreign, who will come home from travel abroad for the opening of classes.

This is to prevent the possible spread of the disease since these travelers especially those from countries with H1N1 cases can be carriers of the disease.

She reiterated that those who would experience while in isolation any symptom such as fever, chills and fatigue; muscle and joint pain; sore throat; headache and body pains; coughing and sneezing; nausea vomiting and diarrhea are advised to immediately seek medical attention while those who would not develop any symptom after the ten-day period will be considered out of danger.

Reyes said continuous surveillance, contact-tracing and massive information drive are being conducted in the city in coordination with the DOH-CAR.

The disease response flow is still in effect with the Baguio General Hospital designated as referral hospital for suspect cases for the city.

The health advisory distributed by the health office said the disease is spread through close personal contract and respiratory secretions propelled by sneezing or coughing.

It stressed that the virus is not transmitted by eating pork.

Residents with symptoms are advised to consult their doctors or go to the nearest health facility immediately and to refrain from self-medicating.


4 nabbed in illegal drug ‘trading post’ dawn raid

BAGUIO CITY -- Four close relatives of a couple who allegedly leads a notorious local drug group were arrested here dawn of May 28 in the couple’s residence at a Muslim neighborhood.

Nabbed from the suspects were sachets of shabu, drug paraphernalia and chemicals, an unlicensed firearm and other deadly weapons, monitoring gadgets, and proofs of suspected drug money bank accounts during implementation of a search warrant

Nabbed were Alekan Madid y Datumanong alias “Aliekan Madid y Hadji” or “Alvin,” 24 of Maging, Lanao Del Sur and his wife, Snauray Madid y Darang alias “Snauriay Sabuyugan y Madid”, 27, of Narra, Palawan; and Patima Darang y Sabuyugan, 17, also of Narra, Palawan and a 15-year old from Narra, Palawan.

The suspects all claimed to be residents of No. 120 Pinewood Village, Crystal Cave here., the subject house in with the search warrant.

Snauray, Patima and the minor were identified as sisters of Unos Darang y Sabuyugan, alleged leader of the Darang drug group.

His wife, Hanipa Darang y Abdulla allegedly co-leads the group. The couple was nowhere during the execution of the search warrant at their house.

The Madid spouses, in the list of drug Personalities in the Cordillera identified members of the Darang Group, had been earlier arrested, on March 8, 2005, with cohorts, Delfin Lomibao y Cortez, Oliver Buado y Constantino and Joel Buado y Constantino in a buy-bust operation at Bukaneg St. here where a big volume of shabu, weighing a total of 45.2 grams , valued at about half a million pesos in the streets was confiscated from them.

The cases against them were dismissed at the prosecution level on April 29, 2005. The anti-drug operation was carried out by policemen who were then detailed with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the region.

Meanwhile, seized during the warranted search of the so-called “shabu trading post” at 4 a,m, May 28 were four sachets weighing a total of 2.13 grams and having street price of P25,000.00; drug paraphernalia and chemicals; a Cal. 45 pistol with magazine four bullets, a samurai sword, hunting knife; laptop, CCTV camera, motion detector, television set and video cassettes; and various bank books, Automated Teller Machine cards and credit cards, blank checks with a checking account located in Dasmariñas, Cavite, duplicates of deposit slips to a bank account also in Dasmariñas, Cavite, and computation if proceeds derived from illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs.

The drug law enforcement operation was done by combined units from PDEA – CAR, from the Special Operations Unit of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group of the Police Regional Office – Cordillera, and from the Special Weapons and Assault Tactics Team of the Baguio City Police Office.

The search warrant was issued by Executive Judge Marybelle Demot Mariñas of Branch 8, Regional Trial Court, 1st Judicial Region, La Trinidad, Benguet on May 22.

Cases for illegal drugs were filed against the suspects while the minor was turned over to the Baguio City Social Welfare and Development Office / Silungan Center for counseling.

PDEA officials said the Darang Group gets its supply of shabu from Cavite , Dagupan City and Urdaneta City in Pangasinan, Culiat in Quezon City and Quiapo and Taguig City in Metro Manila and distributes shabu in Baguio City , La Trinidad and other nearby towns of Benguet.

Investigations disclosed the “shabu trading post” even allows pot sessions by non-members of the group who go there to buy shabu for personal consumption.

Drug enforcement said the drug leader couple might had escaped with bigger volumes of the drug and with the missing video recorder since it took some time for the operatives to be able to penetrate the house because of its well-secured entries aside from monitoring devices.

Madid’s wife was reportedly rushed by the law enforcers to the hospital for the immediate treatment of the injury she incurred from trying to evade arrest from the roof of the house.


Baguio officials probe titling of forest reserve

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — City officials strongly criticized the issuance of a certificate of land title (CALT) covering a portion of the Forbes Park forest and watershed reservation, saying the act of the National Commission on Indigenous peoples (NCIP) is against the welfare of the general public.

The uproar by concerned residents over the issuance and registration of CALT with the Registry of Deeds prompted the city council to create a task force, composed of the city legal office, city planning and development office, city assessor’s office and the city engineer’s office, to investigate the anomaly.

Annotations in the declaration of real property at the city assessor’s office indicated that the title, which was issued to the heirs of Lauro Carantes, covers an area within the forest reservation and overlaps with properties owned by the Republic of the Philippines and the City of Baguio.

The council said no title should have been issued to any portion of the property because it was earlier identified as a forest reservation. The unabated issuance of CALTs in different areas in the city has threatened to frustrate the city government’s bid to preserve and protect the remaining declared forest reservations here.


Igorots worldwide urge solons: Pass law vs race discrimination

By Gina Dizon

BAGUIO CITY- Following the infamous “Tao po ako, hindi Igorot” remark of actress Candy Pangilinan, Igorots from all over the world called for a special law against racial discrimination directed to the entertainment industry.

The online petition signed by 118 signatories was sent to congressional representatives Mauricio G. Domogan of Baguio City, Samuel M. Dangwa, Benguet; Solomon R. Chungalao, Ifugao; Cecilia M. Seares-Luna, Abra; Elias Jr Bulut, Apayao and Manuel S. Agyao of Kalinga who is also caretaker-representative for Mountain Province.

The petition asked Cordillera solons to come up with a bill against racism and the accompanying sanctions that go with it with respect to artists, entertainers, movie/TV and station managers, and those in the entertainment industry.

Canada-based Darla Reyes from Sagada, Mountain Province said, “These people in the entertainment industry are supposed to be models of integrity, character and respect because they are "idolized" by the general public. Hence their words, actions and deeds should be above reproach.”

Presidential adviser for Cordillera affairs Thomas Killip said, “racism only breeds hatred and injustice; it has no place in a society that claims to be civilized".

CHESTCORE director Abigal Tauli said, “This people in the entertainment field should be given education on cultural diversity and respect for tribes. They should be exposed to the other Cordillera provinces to see how beautiful and handsome Igorots are, otherwise they should be banned from entering the Cordillera Region.”

California –based Julio Tindungan from Ifugao said, “ I look forward to a law that provides teeth against discrimination. Without any anti- discrimination law, there maybe in the future restaurants who will not serve beefsteak and bulalou to Igorots.”
Mountain Province Gov. Maximo Dalog said, “

It is shocking and sad to know that in this modern world, even among the educated, there is Candy who does not even know about the Igorots. We invite her to see Igorotland where Igorots are, whom she referred to as not human beings.
Let me sincerely sign this petition to join all other groups in the global scenario if only to remind Candy that never again should she strip us off from humanity.”

The petition stemmed from a racist remark said by Pangilinan on May 9, during a show at SM Baguio City, when she said “Tao po ako. Hindi po ako Igorot” ( I am a human being. I am not an Igorot).

The remark gathered angry and hurt reactions from Igorots and other non-Igorots as well which jammed her blog demanding for her public apology as the city of Baguio declared her as “persona non grata” .

Petitioners said Pangilinan’s act and foregoing consequences “serve as a living reminder for artists to imbibe social responsibility in their chosen career, respect cultural diversities, observe human and collective rights of peoples, sustain the molding of relevant Filipino and sound cultural values while maintaining artistic freedom and expression.”

Petitioners said “espousing racial slurs breed hostile and/or uncomfortable
environment where one is made to feel inferior while the other is superior. And while this continues, propagated by some artists in Philippine cinema, ethnic bias will alarmingly disrupt good community relationships between and among anyone regardless of race, ethnicity and color.”


Another Balweg kin yields

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet -- The 26-year-old daughter-in-law of captured Abra rebel leader Jovencio Balweg surrendered to Cordillera police May 26.

Bernardine Daguio, alias Chiway, gave herself up to Senior Supt. Alex Pumecha, Cordillera police intelligence chief.

Daguio, of Barangay Uma, Lubuagan, Kalinga, joined her husband, Jovencio Jr., and his parents, Balweg Sr. and Carmen, in the custody of Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, Cordillera police director.

Daguio is the education officer of the Kilusang Laragan Guerrilla North which operates in the hinterlands of Lacub and Malibcong towns in Abra, Pestano said.

Daguio, was reportedly a former student activist who joined the underground movement after graduation in 2004.

However, she decided to lie low in November 2006 after getting pregnant by Jovencio Jr.

Following the arrest of the elder Balweg last May 18 and surrender of Carmen and her husband, Daguio decided to join them for the sake of her child.

Pestano vowed that the Cordillera police would continuously strengthen its campaign against insurgency until all rebels in the region would return to mainstream society and lead peaceful lives rather than taking arms against the government.

But Martin Montana, spokesman of the New People’s Army’s Chadli Molintas Command, said authorities were “daydreaming” in saying that Balweg’s arrest dealt a huge blow to the underground movement in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

“This is farthest from reality,” he said, adding that rebels “are prepared (ideologically) to bear the sacrifices and losses.”


Diarrhea downs 386 folk: Busted sewer poisons Baguio water supply

By Dexter A. See and Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – A diarrhea outbreak has hit this mountain resort city in five barangays here, sending 386 residents to hospitals.

Although there was no death, 14 patients with age range of two months to 81 years
were admitted in various hospitals.

The city health department recorded 386 diarrhea cases in six barangays in a span of five days, and the cause is the allegedly contaminated water flowing in the pipelines of the Baguio Water District.

Dr. Donatel Tobera, of the Baguio City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, said residents of Imelda Village, M. Roxas, Saint Joseph, Purok 4 in Brookside and East Modern Site in Aurora Hill complained of stomach aches, vomiting and loose bowel movement. Except for 14, the patients were sent home after undergoing preliminary treatment.

Investigation by the city’s Health Services Office showed that fecal coliform had leaked from the sewage system and contaminated the water supply.

City health officials said the number of the diarrhea cases could further increase as BWD failed to prevent its pipelines from contamination caused by a busted sewer line of the city government.

Records showed the affected barangays with diarrhea cases were Manuel Roxas-Teachers Camp, 145; St. Joseph Village, 78; Imelda village, 62; Brookside, 34; and Navybase, 34.

Few diarrhea cases were also reported in Barangays Holy Ghost Proper, Honeymoon-Holy Ghost, and the other barangays which get their water supply from the Claro M. Recto pumping station of the BWD at Navybase.

Dr. Florence Reyes, city health officer, said the people downed by diarrhea were individuals with ages ranging from two to 81, but only a few of them were hospitalized because they were immediately treated by concerned health units.

The residents in the affected barangays reportedly drank the suspectedly contaminated water which had foul smell. This was caused by the busted sewerage line located near the underground BWD pipelines.

BWD was reportedly forced to stop the operation of its pumping station to prevent further contamination of the treated water flowing to the thousands of households in almost one-third of the city. But it seemed the action was a little bit late as most residents had already drunk the contaminated water which caused the diarrhea.

It was reported that those downed by diarrhea started to experience severe stomach pains and vomiting, forcing them to seek treatment from the nearest health units.

This, as the city council urged the Baguio Water District to submit a complete report on the water source contamination incident involving the water source at the Navy Base pumping station along with the measures undertaken to prevent a repeat of the incident.

The body last Monday approved a resolution authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda for said purpose.

Tabanda said an investigation and rapid health assessment conducted by the city health department showed that the cause of the affliction was the water supplied by the BWD through the Navy Base pumping station which subsequent analysis showed contamination with fecal coliform organism.

“While the (BWD) took action to shut down the water line and to order the public to discard the tap water which was collected, there is a need to take all necessary processes to contain any further cases of gastroenteritis not only in the barangays mentioned but all other barangays in the city,” Tabanda said.


Wanted PNP colonel, yields over multi-trillion shabu lab

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union- A police superintendent ordered arrested by a Regional Trial Court judge after he was implicated in a multi-billion peso drug laboratory case, surrendered Monday to his superior.

Chief Supt. Ramon Gatan, Region 1 police director bared this saying Supt. Dionisio Borromeo, former chief of police of Dagupan City, said Borromeo had already yielded to his superiors in Camp Crame Sunday.

Gatan said the suspect had asked that he be detained in Camp Crame while his case is being heard from the court here.

The warrant of arrest signed by Judge Mary R. Molina recommended no bail.
Borromeo is now under police custody and is presently detained at the PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame.

However the warrant of arrest of a certain Joselito Artuz also known as “George Cordero”, the person believed to be the financier of the shabu lab is till being hunted down as his warrant is in effect.

Borromeo was tagged protector of the Naguilian drug laboratory. He was identified and implicated by shabu lab caretaker Dante Palaganas and was relieved along with six other police officers who were found to have committed administrative lapses and grave misconduct.

The drug laboratory, raided last July 09, 2008 at Barangay Bimmotobot Naguilian La Union yielded 27 million worth of raw chemicals & equipment and was estimated to produce hundreds of million worth of illegal drugs if the raw product ephedrine was present.

The arrest of Borromeo, a recipient of various awards and medals during his stint, came after RTC branch 33 Judge Rose Marie Alim, has issued his arrest after he was being tagged as protector of the biggest ever drug shabu laboratory busted in Naguillan town in the province.

Also ordered arrested by the court was Joselito Artuz, the alleged financier of the shabu laboratory who is now being hunted by the police. “We will get Artuz at all cost,” vowed Gatan.

In a 27-page resolution, Alim affirmed findings of the prosecutor’s panel here which recommended Borromeo’s indictment in court.

The prosecution panel was composed of Danilo Bumacod, Gaudencio Valdez and Manuel Dulnuan.

Gatan said that the court gave merit to the findings of the “Task Force Bimmotobot,” which he headed to investigate the shabu laboratory.

Earlier, a total of 52 policemen, 17 of whom are commissioned police officers, had been relieved of their posts in connection with the shocking discovery of the multi-trillion shabu laboratory in barangay Bimmutubot, Naguilian town, last July 9.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Borromeo and et al were charged before the Prosecutor’s office here last July 31. Six Chinese men were also charged.

The arrest of Borromeo came in the wake of revelation by Dante Palaganas, a caretaker of the said shabu lab who tagged Borromeo as one of the police protectors of the laboratory. Borromeo, however, denied the charges.

The shabu lab was earlier used as front for piggery until policemen from the province headed by Sr. Supt. Noli Talino discovered it in a surprised raid that shocked the entire police and community.

The Congressional Oversight Committee in Congress on Dangerous Drugs had inspected the alleged shabu laboratory the other day in line with House investigation being sought by Rep. Tomas Dumpit, Jr. whose district the laboratory was discovered. – With a report from Mar T. Supnad


Pastor nabbed and jailed for rape in Pangasinan

By Jennelyn Mondejar

BUGALLON, Pangasinan — A 32- year-old pastor of the Jesus Christ 5th Ministry in this municipality was jailed for allegedly raping a girl inside the church in Barangay Laguit Padilla here.

SPO1 Juvilyn Cruz, head of the Bugallon PNP Women’s Desk, said the suspect was a leader of the church, married, and resident of Laguit Padilla. Cruz said the victim was a 13-year-old out-of-school girl.

The suspect was arrested in his residence on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Georgina Hidalgo of the Regional Trial Court’s Branch 68 in Lingayen, Pangasinan for the crime of rape on two counts. No bail was recommended.

Police records said the victim went to the church to practice as a member of the choir of the Church of Jesus Christ 5th Ministry in September 2008.

The victim reportedly cried as she asked that the abuse be stopped. Another man was also alleged to have raped her.


Suspended Cagayan mayor hits 'Gestapo-like' removal

BUGUEY, Cagayan -- The suspended mayor of this town decried what he described a “Gestapo-like operation” by which he was removed from his office last May 19 by a contingent of over 100 policemen who he said acted without legal orders from higher authorities.

Mayor Ignacio Taruc said the police contingent cut off electricity to the town hall, padlocked the entrance door, and prevented anyone from entering its premises.

“They had me under ‘town hall’ arrest and prevented my family and supporters from bringing in food, water and other basic necessities,” he said in a statement.

Taruc said he had to leave the town hall to prevent bloodshed, as many of his supporters were allegedly beaten by the followers of a rival politician.

He said the provincial board suspended him anew for six months, but police prematurely implemented the suspension order without an official order from the governor or the Department of the Interior and Local Government and despite his pending motion for consideration.

Taruc said he has filed with the Supreme Court an extremely urgent motion for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the provincial board’s suspension order.

He said his ordeal started when he denied an application for a magnetite mining operation in the beaches of his town.


6 killed in road mishap

By Teddy Molina

PAGUDPUD, Ilocos Norte -- Six persons died while five others were injured when the delivery truck they were riding overturned, lost its breaks while maneuvering a curve and crashed at the foot of a mountain here.

Police identified the fatalities as Redel Taal, 24; Brian Arellano, 15; Restituto Dayag, 46; Danny Seria, 33; Bernardo Molina and a woman identified only as Deling.

Police said the accident took place along the national highway of Pagudpud around 6 a.m. May 24 while the truck was heading towards Baguio City from Cagayan to deliver fruits and vegetables.

Senior Insp. Romeo Luga, chief of the Pagudpud Municipal Police, said driver Michael Olivas claimed he was negotiating a curve along the highway when he noticed the break was not working.

Olivas told probers he decided to crash the truck at the foot of the mountain at the vicinity of Barangay Pasaleng near the boundary of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte to prevent the vehicle from falling off the ravine.

Police said five of the passengers died on the spot while Molina succumbed to serious injuries at the Bangui District Hospital.

Probers said the fatalities were pinned down inside the truck when rescuers arrived.


Funds for Kalinga rice dryers wasted

By Dexter A. See

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The millions of pesos spent by the national government for the construction of many post-harvest facilities nationwide have gone to waste.
This was shown by the flatbed dryers given to thousands of farmers here. These facilities are not serving the purpose for which these are intended.

A monitoring team of the Department of Agriculture discovered recently that many units of flatbed dryers are being used as sleeping platforms by the farmers instead of using them for the drying of palay.

Of the 23 flatbed dryers installed in different parts of the province, seven or 30 percent are operational at present but these need immediate repair due to surface damage.

The monitoring team discovered that most of the problems encountered in the construction of the flatbed dryers pertain to incomplete parts such as bolts and braces for the roof and skirts.

Supposedly, the flatbed dryer, compared to a solar dryer and drying pavement, is more economical and convenient to use by farmers.

It was found out that almost all rice farmers in the province are using solar drying pavements and roads because the flatbed dryers supplied to them were heavily damaged.

Instead of using the facilities for the drying of their palay, the farmers used the flatbed dryers as sleeping platforms.

The monitoring team recommended immediate review of the flatbed dryer technology, particularly the design of the furnace and the quality of its refractory cement panels, metal fixtures as well as the perforated metal floorings which were observed to be the heavily damaged parts.

The team cited need to test the moisture evaporation from the palay being dried in the flatbed dryer.

Farmers in the province have been constantly asking the DA to provide flatbed dryers which are durable, noting that the present ones are easily damaged due to certain factors.

Furthermore, the farmers demanded the conduct of an investigation on who facilitated the delivery of the substandard flatbed dryers so that the national government could pinpoint the officials liable for the irregularity.

The national government has embarked on the distribution of flatbed dryers to rice farmers nationwide so that they could dry their palay even during the rainy days.

However, rice farmers in this province claimed many of the delivered flatbed dryers were never used for the purpose for which these were intended because many of the facilities were incomplete. The farmers said they were asked to sign documents stating that they have received the facilities complete with parts and accessories.


Benguet court acquits 5 in marijuana case

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Branch 63 of the Regional Trial Court here dismissed charges of violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Law of 2002 filed against five natives of Kapangan town for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In a recent decision, RTC Branch 63 Judge Benigno Galacgac acquitted Dionisio Pacateo, Teofilo Paclos, Loreto Gorio, Elmer Paclos and Salve Paclos who were charged for illegal possession and transport of a huge volume of marijuana.

The court ruled the possibility is not to be discounted that the accused were guilty of the crime charged but pieces of evidence presented showed there was “instigation but no entrapment actually happened.”

Court records showed the five residents of Kapangan, one of the known sources of marijuana in this vegetable producing province, were charged by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Cordillera of possessing and transporting 268 kilos of dried marijuana leaves on Feb. 18.

At the same time, Elmer and Salve Paclos were also accused of selling 32 kilos of dried marijuana leaves to SPO4 Marquez Madlon of the PDEA-CAR on Feb. 17, a day before the huge volume of marijuana was intercepted in a follow up operation.

However, the court said it was not convinced by the testimony of the law enforcer, adding that the prosecution failed to present sufficient to support its claim that their series of operations constituted entrapment.



City vendors warned on building stalls in market
By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government will stick to its own city market restoration plan and will not allow unauthorized improvement by the vendors who have been clamoring to undertake the repair job by themselves.

Acting mayor Daniel Farinas affirmed this last Monday in reaction to reports that the vendors have begun reconstructing their stalls that were burned last March despite the city government’s rejection of their proposal to undertake the repair work by themselves and at their own expense.

Farinas warned that the city will order the demolition of any unauthorized improvements if the vendors will continue to insist on what they want.

He said that after the fire incidents that gutted the vegetable proper building 1 and 2 and sari-sari and tobacco sections and affect 238 stalls, city officials led by Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. decided to pursue the restoration project acknowledging that it is the city government’s responsibility to restore the area.

He said that to make sure that the project is implemented properly and equitably, the plan that was prepared by the city building and architecture office has to be followed.

The restoration project is now being readied for bidding to qualified construction

Affected stallholders were questioning the stall allocation plan as the spaces were accordingly reduced and thus will not be commensurate to what they are paying.

But CBAO head Engr. Oscar Flores said space reduction cannot be avoided as the plan was made based on the original area allotted for said sections.

Extensions made by the vendors themselves have been removed thus the area will now be reduced.

Flores however assured that the spaces allotted to the vendors are of equal size and that the number of stalls in the plan corresponds to the number of legitimate vendors affected by the fire thus nobody will be displaced.

Farinas said the plan as prepared will be followed that the schedule of rental payments will later be adjusted to correspond to the spaces rented.

Mayor Bautista earlier assured that the structures to be built will all be temporary or collapsible so these can be easily dismantled should the full-blown market development project be implemented. in deference to the contract with the Uniwide Sales Realty and Resources Corporation (Uniwide) which had been declared binding by the courts.

Pursuant to the mayor’s plan, the city council approved the reallocation of P16.5 million from the Annual Investment Plan for 2008 to finance the restoration project.

Farinas last week created the Market Development Projects Action Group to oversee the improvement projects and tackle the various concerns affecting the city market.

HLURB-CAR normal; new head assumes post

BAGUIO CITY – The confusing operations at the Housing Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in the Cordillera over the past several weeks due to the existence of two lady officials contesting the top post is now back to normal after the new head assumed office recently.

Confusion evolved at the HLURB-CAR office after its central office assigned a new head in the region while a status quo order issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 3 is considered as in full force and effect.

However, lawyer Aurelio Galacgac, legal counsel of Teresita Galacgac, the new HLURB-CAR regional director, said his client has to assume her new post to prevent her from being charged for insubordination by his superiors in Manila.

According to him, his client’s assumption into office is authorized by appropriate Board Resolutions and orders duly signed by Vice-President Noly de Castro, the country’s housing czar.

Reacting to the pendency of a case questioning the cross-positioning of the HLURB filed by Rebecca Torres, who was reassigned to Region I from the Cordillera, Atty. Galacgac explained they will respect whatever the decision of the court will be in the case but there is a need for them to comply with the lawful orders to prevent the case from being complicated in the future.
Furthermore, he disclosed the HLURB has already transferred his client’s bond from the La Union branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines to its branch in this mountain resort city to ensure the smooth transactions in the said office.

The cross-positioning of HLURB regional officials is obviously in preparation for the upcoming merger of the said offices in Regions I, II and the Cordillera into only one office which will be based in the city.

However, such merger of HLURB offices in the three regions is being strongly opposed by numerous local governments and property development stakeholders in the said regions as it would impede the smooth flow of transactions and delay the upcoming introduction of the housing industry in Northern Luzon.

Galacgac appealed to all parties concerned in the pending case to observe sobriety to prevent the situation from going out of control so that their clients will not be confused and result to a more embarrassing situation for them.

Ms. Galacgac was the former HLURB-CAR regional director before being transferred to the HLURB Region I in San Fernando City, La Union and again reassigned to her old office in the city.

Earlier, Torres petitioned the court to cite in contempt lawyer Romeo Fabol, HLURB chief executive officer, for reportedly issuing orders for Ms. Galacgac to assume her post in the Cordillera and for her to go to Region I since the same is in alleged violation of a status quo issued by the same court sometime in January this year. --Dexter A. See

Three men snatch maid’s cell phone

BAGUIO CITY -- Three suspects of alleged theft were brought to the Police station 7 – SM branch, after taking the 10-thousand worth cellphone of a housemaid.

Victim Jenalyn Olinan, 19, single, of First road, Quezon hill here, with her employer Jairo Jaime, came to the police office and filed complaint.

Investigators said, suspects Marvin Valenson, 26, single, of Lopez Jaena St.; Frederick Agoyos, 23, single, of P. Burgos St. and William Tome, 19, single, of San Carlos Heights, allegedly snatched the victim’s cell phone around 3 at the Lower ground floor of SM City.

The victim, later withdrew her complaint, after the three suspects' guardians offered to pay 4,500 pesos t the victim to settle the dispute. -Louis Serran



Pigs dying in P’panga towns

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Strict quarantine has been imposed in backyard piggeries in San Simon and parts of Mexico town, as a growing number of pigs there are dying from what is believed to be Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRSS).

But provincial veterinarians said there is no cause for alarm, as the PRSS is different from swine flu although it increases the hogs’ risk to the latter disease.

Visible symptoms of PRRS include high fever, loss of appetite, red skin and diarrhea, they said.

In a report, the provincial information office cited “cases of unusual deaths and the increase in the number of sick pigs in San Simon” and in a neighboring barangay in Mexico.

The pigs manifested “diarrhea, inappetence (lack of appetite), and vomiting,” it said, adding that these were symptoms of PRRS.

According to the report, at least 112 pigs of 31 backyard hog raisers have already been affected.

Records show that PRRS is estimated to cost the US hog industry $600 million in losses yearly.

Gov. Ed Panlilio said the affected piggeries have been placed under quarantine. “The sick animals are now being treated and that none is being sold,” he said.

Panlilio suspends exec over expired noodles
By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Gov. Eddie Panlilio issued a 90-day preventive suspension of the provincial social welfare and development officer for allegedly allowing expired noodles to be fed to hundreds of children during the provincial government’s caravans for the poor.

In a statement, Panlilio’s office said Lucia Gutierrez was suspended due to “utmost concern for public health and to prevent similar occurrences in the future” for “authorizing the serving of expired noodles to young children.”

But Gutierrez said what befell her was “a case of harassment” because of her supposed conflict with provincial administrator Vivian Dabu.

“I think the case was all triggered by reports that I had complained to the governor about Dabu’s attitudinal problem and she resented this,” she said.

In his statement, Panlilio said an investigative body found Gutierrez “to be well aware of the fact that the noodles on stock had expired in September 2008.”

“She allowed the expired stock to be served in the soup kitchens of the Pamisaupan mobile service caravans to children aged four to six in Floridablanca, Macabebe, and Candaba last February and March,” he said.

“While it was fortunate that no untoward incident was reported, serving expired food has potential harm especially on young children. Thus, this should not happen again,” he added.

Gutierrez admitted that the noodles had indeed expired, but insisted that she was not aware of this when the feeding program was conducted.



P100 M marijuana destroyed in Kalinga

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Anti-narcotics and police operatives destroyed marijuana plants and seedlings worth P100 million in a 10-hectare plantation in Kalinga in an operation last week.

Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, Cordilera police director said the marijuana plants and seedlings were found by police and anti drug personnel here in Barangay Agbannawag.

The Cordillera regional mobile group headed by Chief Insp. Bobby Glenn Ganipac, elements of the regional Drug Enfrocement Agency and the Kalinga provincial police office took five hours to uproot the marijuana plants in the plantation which is reportedly within an abandoned water basin.

Marijuana cultivators escaped before the troops arrived in the area because of their vantage location.

Pestano said the campaign against illegal drugs is one of the thrusts of his administration, adding that the proliferation of illegal drugs such as marijuana and shabu is one of the causes of crimes committed in both rural and urban areas. – Dexter A. See



4 more NPAs yield in Aurora
By Mar T. Supnad

FORT MAGSAYSAY, PALAYAN CITY – Four more members of the New People’s Army’s “Central Platun Aurora” surrendered to Lt. Col. Elias H Escarcha, Battalion Commander, 48th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division at Baler, Aurora, bringing to 21 the total number of rebels yielded for the past few days in Aurora, Army officials bared.

Commanding Officer of 702nd Infantry Brigade Brig. Gen. Emmanuel T Bautista, in his report to commander of 7th Infantry Division, Army Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva, identified surrenderees as: Jericho Estevez aka Allan; Arman Dela Cruz aka Sam, Placido Campos; Alvin and Jilly Boy Villaflor aka Ariel.

They reportedly escaped from their comrades and sought the help of religious sector members of San Luis, Aurora who in turn sought the help of Gen. Villanueva for their protection.

Maj. Charlemagne Batayola, public information officer, said the rebels decided to come down from the hills because they cannot bear anymore hardship of life at the mountain with their comrades and relentless military operations of government forces.

The surrenderees are now undergoing custodial debriefing at 48IB Headquarters.

Earlier, 17 former rebels surrendered to the Army in Aurora. The government through the AFP is reportedly implementing the Social Integration Program, an alternative program for rebels to live a normal life.



4 suspects slain in Bulacan shootout
By George Trillo

MARILAO, Bulacan– Police rescued a 23-year-old Indian national here hours after he was kidnapped in Bocaue town night of May 25 and killed four suspects in a shootout that left a police officer wounded.

The kidnap victim was identified only as “Mr. Singh,” for his protection. His compatriots said he was the seventh Indian national abducted by the suspects belonging to the so-called “Bangus gang,” which normally demanded ransom ranging from P1.2 million to P5 million.

Chief Supt. Nilo de la Cruz, Central Luzon police director, identified two of the slain suspects as Rodel Tabunan, 25, and Rolando San Juan, 49.

Two other suspects managed to escape.

The wounded policeman, PO1 Ronald Gregorio, was hit in the left shoulder during the rescue operation.

De la Cruz said the kidnap victim was about to board his motorcycle after visiting a cousin in Barangay Lolomboy, Bocaue town Monday night when the suspects, who introduced themselves as policemen, seized and dragged him into a Toyota Vios.

Residents saw the incident and promptly informed the police, which eventually cornered the suspects in Barangay Abangan Sur here.

Found in the slain suspects’ possession were an M-16 assault rifle, a caliber .45 pistol, a 9-mm pistol and a .38 revolver.



Robbery suspect shot dead

BAGUIO CITY -- A robbery suspect was declared dead on arrival in the Baguio General Hospital after he was recently shot dead in front of Pelizloy building along Session road here.

Police said suspect, Abraham Unday, 26, single, a taxi driver and a resident of North Sanitary Camp together with two more suspects identified as Lilia Sibayan, 39, of North Sanitary Camp and Jojo Uplas, 30, a resident of Kayang hilltop here, allegedly attempted to rob a cop identified as Raniel Wate, 29, a resident of Private road, Barangay Trancoville.

Police said, Unday suffered a head gun wound after both Wate and the suspect struggled to grab the victim's firearm.

2 tinker with WW II bomb, lose hands

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – A policeman and a civilian lost their hands after a vintage bomb exploded while they were tinkering with it in Cagayan Tuesday.

Chief Insp. Juan Taguinod, police chief of Peñablanca town, said farmer Juan Achanzar, 47, found the bomb in a nearby village and sought the help of PO3 Victor Hernandez, 45, of the service division of the regional police, to dispose of it.

But out of curiosity, the two tinkered with the bomb and struck it, causing it to explode. – CL

Thief fools teacher

BAGUIO CITY -- After an unidentified thief told a school teacher his phone fell off his pocket, the latter found his mobile phone worth P16 thousand lost last week.

Police identified the victim as Raul Pocais, 44, married, a school teacher of Irisan, here.

Police said the crime was committed along Harrison road, after an unidentified male suspect boarded and sat beside the victim inside a public jeepney bound for Trancoville.

The alleged suspect later informed Pocais that his phone fell-off and a certain street sweeper got the gadget, letting him step off the vehicle and run after the supposed culprit, but later realized he was tricked by the real thief. -- Louis Serran

2 men nabbed for rape in Ifugao

LAGAWE, Ifugao – Two men were nabbed for rape in the province last week.

On May 25, cops of Lagawe under Chief Investigator arrested Thomas Dinamling Bulangnget, 26, of Barangay Olilicon here.

Dumanling nephew of the victim, was arrested following an arrest warrant issued by Judge Joseph Baguilat, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14.

Baguilat was jailed at the Ifugao District Jail in Barangay Baguinge, Kiangan town. Based on police record, said wanted person raped his aunt at about 10 a.m. on March 11.

Cherry Bangiyan Napachao, 22, driver by profession, resident of Barangay Monggayang, Aguinaldo, Ifugao was also arrested for rape by the Aguinaldo cops headed by Insp. Damiel T. Kinakin.

Judge Efren Cacatchan trail court Branch 15 in Alfonso Lista ordered Napachao’s arrest recommending no bail.

Three men snatch maid’s cell phone

BAGUIO CITY -- Three suspects of alleged theft were brought to the Police station 7 – SM branch, after taking the 10-thousand worth cellphone of a housemaid.

Victim Jenalyn Olinan, 19, single, of First road, Quezon hill here, with her employer Jairo Jaime, came to the police office and filed complaint.

Investigators said, suspects Marvin Valenson, 26, single, of Lopez Jaena St.; Frederick Agoyos, 23, single, of P. Burgos St. and William Tome, 19, single, of San Carlos Heights, allegedly snatched the victim’s cell phone around 3 at the Lower ground floor of SM City.

The victim, later withdrew her complaint, after the three suspects' guardians offered to pay 4,500 pesos t the victim to settle the dispute. -Louis Serran

Baguio execs, cops start ‘war’ against sex videos
By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has started heightened campaign they called “war” against lewd video materials in the city.

The city council last week asked the city police and other concerned agencies here to implement penal provisions of the law banning display and sale of sex videos in the city.

The move initiated by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda was an offshoot of the celebrated Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex video scandal which has resulted to enhanced operations against video piracy and pornographic video articles in Metro Manila as of late.

“With the onset of the digital age, the proliferation of videos and presentations/shows in the market poses a threat to the morality of the general public which include the youth and children,” Tabanda noted in the resolution approved by the city council.

Tabanda said the sex videos project women in general as “sex objects and degrades then thus dehumanize them.”

“The display and sale of sex videos in public places for commercial purposes is detrimental to the development of the young and destroys the very fiber of decent standards which the city propagates,” the resolution noted.

“Thus there is a need to immediately ban all these sex videos which exhibit lewd and obscene scenes that are unacceptable and against the moral teachings and doctrines.”

Tabanda said the law governing the display and sale of these pornographic articles contains a penal provision that can be implemented by lawmen.

The drive against lewd videos is in line with the provisions of the Local Government Code which authorizes local government units to implement measures to improve public morals.

She said this is also in line with the Gender Equality and Development Code which promotes programs and projects that are gender sensitive and gender fair.



'GMA cannot become transition president'

President Arroyo cannot act as transition president in case her successor is not proclaimed once her term expires at noon of June 30, 2010 according to the chairman of the House committee on revision of laws.

“There is no such official as a holdover president or holdover vice president. The Constitution does not allow that. They have to step down once their term expires,” Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao told a news forum over the weekend.

Aggabao’s committee is considering a bill on succession to the presidency to foreclose the possibility of a vacancy and ensure that there is a successor at any time “even when the entire leadership is decapitated by a terrorist attack.” The bill is authored by Rep. Edno Joson of Nueva Ecija, who does not belong to any political party in the House.

Under Joson’s proposal, if for any reason none of the three elective officials specified in the Constitution can succeed the president, the chief justice of the Supreme Court takes over as acting president until any of the constitutionally designated successors can assume the presidency.

The three constitutionally designated successors are the vice president, Senate president and Speaker of the House. Joson said his bill is the answer to fears of no-elections in May 2010 Chairman Jose Melo of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has expressed.

Aggabao said a law on succession “has become very important and very crucial and has acquired urgency in view of the real possibility of a failure of elections in May next year. The difficulties that the Comelec is encountering in implementing the automation program and the peace and order problem in Mindanao might bring about a failure of elections.”

He said a glitch in the automation process in one region or one province alone, where the number of votes could affect the election results, could result in such a failure.

If there is such failure, the Comelec will not be able to proclaim the winning candidates for president, vice president, senators, and congressmen, he said. Thus, no one will succeed President Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, the Senate president, if he is seeking reelection, and the Speaker, a situation that will create a leadership vacuum, he stressed.

Thus, there is a need to expand the list of possible successors to avert a leadership vacuum and a political crisis, he said, adding absence of a succession law could invite military adventurism.
He said in the case of a Senate president seeking reelection, his term also ends on June 30, 2010. There could be no problem if he is not seeking reelection and his term ends in 2013. The chief justice, under Joson’s proposal, could take over as acting president because he is next in rank after the Speaker.

Thus, he said if there is a failure of election in May 2010, Chief Justice Reynato Puno could assume office as acting president until Mrs. Arroyo’s successor is determined.

Aggabao meanwhile is proposing the list of successors should include other officials in addition to the chief justice. He cited the case of the United States, where 17 officials are named to succeed the president in case of emergencies.



Alfred P. Dizon
Terror in the office

(Wilma V. Lacaba writes this week’s column)

Although recognized as a problem in the work place, bullying tends to be ignored rather than confronted. But victims have options in seeking redress. Aubrey (not her real name) is in her late 20s and works in a supervisory capacity in one of the country’s top call centers. She resents the female operations manager in her unit for being a nitpicking faultfinder who makes life hell for many subordinates.

Early this year, for instance, she witnessed how the woman—who was their team leader then—slapped down so hard on the head of a male agent wearing a baseball cap that she nearly gave him a whiplash injury, then just walked away as though nothing had happened. “Most people at work hate her guts,” she says. “She’s a bully in every sense of the word.”

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), a publicly funded UK-based group working to foster better employment relations, defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behavior; an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” It occurs when the conduct in question is “unacceptable by reasonable normal standards and is disadvantageous or unwelcome to the person or people subjected to it or witnessing it.”

According to Loree Cruz-Mante, book author and part-time career counselor with the transitions firm DBM Philippines, bullying goes by a broader name in the local workplace: “harassment” (indeed, the two labels are often used interchangeably). She says that in offices, in particular, bullying takes such subtler forms as snooping or spying on co-workers, excluding certain persons from group activities, spreading malicious rumors, forwarding private messages without the sender’s permission, withholding information meant to be otherwise communicated, and embarrassing subordinates openly.

In the Philippines, though, this type of behavior—whether it takes place in a factory or a boardroom—tends to be ignored rather than confronted. Observes Ric Abadesco, vice-president of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), a non-profit organization of professionals involved in human resource management and industrial relations founded in 1956: “Take, for example, the telling of off-color jokes during breaks, or maybe the teasing of someone about her Visayan accent, or calling someone ’Duling’ [cross eyed] or ’Negro’ [Nigger]. Most of the time, it’s tolerated, even encouraged, although it could be quite an aggravation to some people.”

Perhaps it’s culture-related, but Filipinos seem to be impervious even to issues that are serious enough to cause the filing of court suits elsewhere in the world. As a case in point, violations of the Anti-sexual Harassment Act of 1995 continue to be committed despite strides achieved by the local feminist movement in raising consciousness about rights of women.

Stories make the rounds, for instance, about male team leaders at call centers using their clout to extract sexual favors from their young female subordinates. Formal complaints are few and far between. In Aubrey’s case, although she has thought of reporting her superior to their HR department, she has not actually done it. “I didn’t know how to go about it,” she says. “I’m not sure if actually walking up to the HR is a smart move for me because I’m pretty sure that she’d find out one way or another. She knows she wields power over us and uses it to her advantage.”

Aubrey couldn’t help but compare the work situation here and that in the US where she had also held employment in the past. She says: “The thought of speaking your mind to the boss is an absurd idea here, a big no-no. We just put up and shut up or else do it through the rumor mill, which doesn’t help the situation any.” Over in the US, she says, feedback—be it negative or positive—is encouraged and immediate action is taken to find out whether the complaint against any co-worker (even one’s manager) has basis and merits appropriate sanctions.

It’s true, Abadesco grants, that a tyrannical boss can get things done quickly. But he cautions that in the long run, this management style would be unproductive because it disempowers and demotivates people. In fact, an extremely passive, compliant staff could end up doing damage to the company. Hasn’t the excuse “Just following orders” been used all too frequently when something that could otherwise have been averted goes wrong?

A workplace where harassment exists, Cruz-Mante points out, pays the cost in terms of disharmony, hampered productivity, diminished level of performance, waste of time, lack of focus, distrust, stress, and loss of a person’s confidence and self-worth. The attrition rate also rises because people are likelier to leave than to stay in such an environment. It’s as much to the employer’s advantage, therefore, to make sure that clear-cut policies on harassment are put in place and—more important—implemented.

Aubrey, who has been in the call-center industry since the start of its boom in 2000, observes that the urgent need for personnel has caused a decline in the standards for hiring and promotion. While other business sectors normally require an MBA degree for their top management people, call-centers don’t. In some respects, this can be a good thing, but what if the designated manager turns out to be ill equipped, if not completely unsuitable, for a leadership role?

When this happens, a subordinate like Aubrey would likely be raring to tell the bully-boss this: “A true leader earns your respect and doesn’t demand it.” But, for fear of losing her job, would she ever?



Perry Diaz
Gloria’s Gambit

It seems to me that Charter change (Cha-cha) is going nowhere in the House of Representatives because of the infighting between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s henchmen Speaker Prospero Nograles and Congressman Luis Villafuerte. They’re the respective leaders of Lakas and Kampi which will soon merge under a new name: Lakas-Kampi- CMD. The merger would boost Gloria’s control of the House of Representatives after the 2010 elections assuming that she would still wield power in her party after she steps down from the presidency. But the prospect of losing power is something that would be horrifying to Gloria. I wouldn’t be surprised if she already has a plan on how to stay in power beyond 2010. And if she does, we can only speculate at this early stage in the game.

But in politics -- like a game of chess -- speculation is developed in the way the players make their moves. And in the 2010 political chess game, Gloria’s opening gambit -- if she plays it masterfully -- could possibly lead to a checkmate of the opposition. But who would be the pawn that she would sacrifice in her gambit?

Recently, Vice President Noli De Castro said that Gloria has “no plan and no intention to extend her term beyond 2010.” But De Castro was talking only about “term extension” which could only happen if the constitution was amended to extend her term. And that’s not going to happen. Not while Gloria’s House boys are at each other’s throat. However, if the constitution was amended to change the form of government to parliamentary system prior to June 2010, it would open the door for Gloria to run as a member of parliament. In that capacity, Gloria would be in a position to lead the majority party -- presumably the Lakas-Kampi- CMD -- in forming a government with her as the Prime Minister.

With the Cha-cha train derailed, is Gloria going to pursue another elective political office in the 2010 elections? If she does, then we know what she is up to. I doubt, however, that she would admit it at this time. However, many people believe that she is going to run as congresswoman of her Pampanga district which is currently represented by her son, Mikey Arroyo.

If that would be the case, Gloria would make sure that Lakas-Kampi- CMD will emerge from the 2010 elections with absolute control of the House of Representatives. As a congresswoman, Gloria could easily muster enough support to become the Speaker of the House. She could then maneuver to pass a resolution to convene a Constituent Assembly (Con-ass) or Constitutional Convention (Con-con) to amend the constitution to adopt a parliamentary form of government.

And the end game would be during the mid-term elections in 2013 when a referendum would be placed on the ballot to approve the constitutional amendments. Once approved by the electorate, the new parliamentary government would be established and the sitting president, who would have been elected in the 2010 elections, would lose his governing power and transform to a “ceremonial” president and head of state. The Prime Minister would be the one to run the government… and wield power.

Last April, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, LAKAS secretary-general, said that five candidates were included on the party’s short list: Sen. Manny Villar (Nacionalista Party), Sen. Loren Legarda (Nationalist People’s Coalition - NPC), Sen. Richard Gordon (independent) , Vice-President Noli de Castro (independent) , and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (formerly of NPC).

Among the five “presidentiables” on the LAKAS short list, the most popular is De Castro. In a survey by Pulse Asia last February, three of them were on the top five on the list: De Castro (19%), Villar (15%), and Legarda (12%). Gordon and Teodoro were not included in the Pulse Asia poll. The other two were: NPC’s Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero (17%) and former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada (16%).

By process of elimination, Villar would most likely run under a Nacionalista- led opposition coalition. Gordon would most likely run under the banner of Bagumbayan Movement which endorsed him a few weeks ago. And Legarda would most likely stay with NPC and compete against Escudero for the party’s nomination.

That leaves De Castro and Teodoro as the two strong contenders for Lakas-Kampi- CMD’s presidential nomination. Incidentally, De Castro and Teodoro were invited to Lakas-Kampi- CMD’s first executive meeting on May 28. However, it remains to be seen if De Castro would accept to head the ticket. But like the legendary Amang Rodriguez once said, “Politics is addition.” Why would De Castro refuse such an offer when he doesn’t even have a party to stand on today?

How about Teodoro? When he announced his candidacy several weeks ago, he said that he would not accept anything but a presidential nomination. Between De Castro and Teodoro, De Castro has experience in national politics and also high name recognition. Teodoro lacks both. However, De Castro is perceived as a weak “do nothing” politician. Unless he can change that perception… well, on the other hand, that might be his strong point: a weak “do nothing” politician. The country had strong “do things” politicians before and they ended up being despised by the people because they did a lot of things for themselves and did nothing to alleviate the plight of the powerless poor.

The question is: would De Castro kowtow to Gloria? If he does, he will be taking a great risk of losing his base of support because Gloria’s “anointment” might turn out to be a “kiss of death” which could put an end to his political life.

And what would happen to Teodoro? I would not be surprised if Gloria would use him as a pawn to sacrifice in her opening gambit… unless he changes his mind and settles as De Castro’s vice presidential running mate. At his young age, he has all the time to wait until his calling comes.
(PerryDiaz@gmail. com)



Ramon S. Dacawi
Expanding our view of disaster

With the onset of the rainy season, expanding our view of disaster could be apt. For quite sometime now, our official and legal view of what makes a disaster is anchored on its immediate impact on human life, limb and property. A state of calamity is determined and declared as such by the number of lives and properties lost or damaged in the wake of a typhoon, fire or earthquake. It is measured by the number of destroyed houses, bancas, farmlands and public infrastructure such as schools, roads and bridges to be rebuilt.

Unless human lives and properties are involved, a forest fire, however extensive the swath of destruction it leaves on trees, flora and fauna, is hardly viewed as a disaster. It doesn’t merit declaration of a state of calamity that would allow funding for rehabilitation. Let nature rehabilitate itself.

Between a tree and a house built recently beside it, the former must go. It has to be cut for it poses danger to life and property. Why the house, in the first place, had to be built beside the tree is hardly a legitimate question to ask. So when the tree is cut, the property owner is rewarded for his acquisitive foresight - in terms of free lumber to expand his shanty.

Notwithstanding our ability to define “sustainable development”, tree, forest and watershed conservation and protection remain beyond our sense of urgency or mental grasp. Otherwise, we won’t be having this protocol that lumps suppression of any fire under the command of the Bureau of Fire Protection which, for all intents and purposes, is equipped and trained to combat infrastructure fires.

Otherwise, Congress would not have sat on the country’s forest management plan our foresters drafted and submitted decades ago. Otherwise, Congress would have gone beyond taking to task the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the denudation of our watersheds and forests.

A DENR official down there in Metro-Manila told me why Congress can’t provide as much budgetary allocation for watershed and forest and conservation and protection as it does for farm production: Trees can’t vote but farmers can and do. And yet, the official added, “we get the flak whenever rice production dips due to the drying up of the forest water source”.

Up here in the unique and remaining Cordillera pine stands and mossy forests, a disaster has long been in the offing. It is triggered by years of neglect of a region whose mineral, forest and water resources were harnessed in the name of national development, yet short-changed of benefits accruing from their extraction and exploitation.

Some giant firms that mined out the gold now want to still hold on to the land. New, speculative ones promise “responsible mining”, to soften opposition to further exploration and eventual extraction of what remains of the lode in tribal lands For sometime now, the lowlands have been blaming us up here whenever they are flooded yet do not comprehend our sacrifice that allowed the construction and operation of the dams and mines.

They now complain that we have not preserved the mossy forests that, for generations, have been the life-blood of their farms. Yet we up here were practically alone in their upkeep, without substantial support from down there. In fact. Fact is the lowlands continue to oppose our share from national wealth taxes and other benefits from the operation of hydroelectric power dams, funds that would have enabled us to maintain the integrity of the watersheds for their benefit.

Now they want to talk to us, hopefully about shared responsibility in conserving these watersheds that generate electric power for their homes and industries and irrigation for their farmlands. For quite sometime now, we’ve been trying to tell them so.
Still, we, the watershed keepers, have been slow in aggressively fighting for what is due us. For one, it was only recently that we launched a serious push for a redefinition of a “host community” under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, to entitle us to shares from the one-centavo set aside for every kilowatt hour the dams produce and sell. Like our concept of fire as a disaster, the law’s definition of a “host community” is infrastructure-based, limited to where the dam is located. Almost a decade after the controversial EPIRA was passed, the narrow definition remains.

This issue was raised by Forester Manny Pogeyed immediately after the EPIRA law was passed. It was raised before the Cordillera Regional Development Council and to then Energy Secretary Vincent Perez when he came to Baguio for a public hearing to gather inputs to the implementing rules and regulations of the law. The same was raised by regional economic and development director Juan Ngalob during that public hearing.

It took come-backing Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat to raise the issue again, during the recent First Cordillera Regional Watershed Summit. With or without a summit, the governor feels this and other resource-based issues should now be on top of our regional development agenda, an agenda anchored on fighting for what is due us from the exploitation of what remains of our natural resources up here.

For so long, the agenda for national development has been “user-friendly”, but disastrous to the resource base. In sum, what happened was that the Cordillera was where they piloted the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme of development. They built and operated the mines and dams up here but transferred the gold and electric power to Metro-Manila and other places down there.

With an environmental disaster up here in the offing, it is again time to ask the old question: For whom is development and at what cost? ( for comments)



Eugene M. Balitang
Of liars and lawyers

An epitaph on a tombstone reads: Here lies a good lawyer, And he lies still…

Lawyers are liars. Or that, liars are lawyers. The truism holds true insofar as the great unwashed believes. And following Irving Copi’s fundamentals of logic, we may arrive at these propositions – that all lawyers are liars; and all those who lie are perforce lawyers.

Allow me to introduce another facet to this matter of liars and lawyers in accordance with my own observations in my ten years and a day of mediocre law practice. Lawyers are just instruments of the liars. Lawyers are merely merchants in which the manufacturers of lies peddle their wares to the ultimate vendee – the judge.

Sounds interesting? Intriguing? Let’s take a look at what actually transpires inside nearly every law office – or wherever clients meet their lawyers. A hapless mother comes a-sobbing at your home, my son is in Tiger Hill, please help him. Since it’s Sunday, you say – please see me at the office on Monday.

Monday came and there you are with the distraught mother. She starts with a litany of praise, of how his son is this angel and that, short of canonizing him to sainthood. Then you ask why the information is for murder and the mother goes on with another litany of how his son was pushed to the wall, that he was just defending his poor self, he had no choice, blah-blah-blah.

You point out that attached to the information are affidavits of three witnesses attesting to the fact that her son stabbed the poor victim twenty times. The mother dons on her most innocent face and screams that those witnesses are liars, that they were threatened by the policemen to execute their affidavits, that they were paid by the family of the victim, blah-blah-blah.

After the verbal barrage, the mother ends up mouthing your genealogy (something you’ve heard before) and you know how she would conclude before she evens blurts it –you see we are cousins with your father and so are you with my poor darling son who is now at Tiger Hill. You’ll have a hard time believing her litanies but in the end you would vow to represent her poor darling son in his upcoming trial. They cannot pay the price you quoted for your acceptance fee but what the heck—you’re lawyer’s oath enjoins you to uphold your profession and take up your client’s case sans money or malice. And that – you are cousins, as the mother claims.

And so you go to court with all the braggadocio and bravura that is expected of a lawyer – a Hingyon lawyer at that. And with you is the litany of lies that a sobbing mother had poured. You do your best in tearing apart the prosecution witnesses with the tenacity of a pit bull. And as the trial progresses, the people at the other side of the table will be calling you names – criminal coddler, a drug lord (if you represent ‘green-gold’ merchants from Tinoc), a sadist (if your client is a rapist)—and of course, a goddamn liar.

Ah, you may think that’s true only on the side of the Defense. But the same holds true even when you are on the side of the angels—the Prosecution. This time, the mother comes a-wailing that his good darling son was stabbed twenty times by some sonofabitch and she begs of you to send this sonofabitch to the lethal injection table. Again, you listen to the litany of how his good darling son is this angel and that. Then you ask what her good darling son is doing at Hardknoxx Café at 2:00 dawn and the mother will of course claim that he just dropped by for a bottle or two to unwind after a hard day’s job. You ask what his job was and she says—part-time this, part-time that.

Well, sounds fiction? You might say that the scenario applies only to criminal cases. Mind you, it’s the same with civil cases. This old man comes crying foul—claiming his land that he had been tilling since time immemorial was unlawfully transferred and sold by his neighbor. You have that naïve belief in humanity—that a 60-year old man will not lie—so you institute a case for recovery of possession and ownership (with damages since you are a Hingyon lawyer). Alas, when you received the answer of the defendant, you found out, much to your humiliation, that the defendant has a title over the subject land and that he merely tolerated the old man who tilled the land out of pity and compassion.

The reverse scenario will be that—this time the old man comes crying and claiming that a prominent persona in the locality filed a case against him for the recovery of a land that he (this old man) had been tilling since time immemorial. After listening to his woeful tale, you are convinced that it is a case of ‘judicial landgrabbing’ and so you represent him with such ferocity. Only to find out as the trial progresses that this old man is a veteran squatter who waded thru life occupying lands of other people and selling it to others.

The point here, dear folks, is that whatever lies we poor lawyers peddle were first bought by us from you, our dear clients. We simply rehashed or embellished your lies and shove it down the judge’s psyche, hoping that he will absorb it as gospel truth and decide the case in your favor. And you brand us liars! Oh, the temerity.

Another facet of the matter is the inherent nature of truth—does it have an exact definition? I say that it does not have. Truth is dependent on the tragedies of our times, our culture, and of public perception. They say that a lie repeated ten times is the truth. And that, what may be true today may be a fallacy tomorrow, or vice versa. For example, bigamy is a crime in the Philippines —if you are a Christian, not if you are a Muslim (our Muslim brothers have their own Sha’ria courts and their own family code).

If you shoot your neighbor for the fun of it, it is murder. If you shoot a president to install a government, that is rebellion. If the government you installed takes over, you are a hero. Two men argued over who will win in a basketball match. They stood, one grabbed his balisong, the other grabbed his chainsaw, the balisong found its mark and the other man died. Homicide. The family of the victim will damn the accused to high heavens. The family of the accused will damn the victim and his family for provoking their old man and sole breadwinner who is now en route to Bilibid. And in between the long trial, either party will hate the lawyer at the other end, liars all.

Truth is very subjective. It would depend on how we see things. Three witnesses will attest that balisong-man simply defended himself from the attacks of chainsaw-man. Another set of witnesses will attest to the fact that chainsaw-man was stabbed helplessly. Each witness will affirm his own perception of what the truth is in accordance with how he saw things—not actually how things happened. Thankfully, you have us lawyers who will wade thru these lies and study them scintilla by scintilla so that in the end, the truth (or the best lie) will be uncovered.

Of course, the story is different if there are actually no witnesses to an incident and the lawyer will ask you to go and find (and pay) some hombres to testify in court; or that, the lawyer will manufacture a document attesting to a fact that did not exist in the first place. In this instance, indeed the lawyer is a liar—or a magician (if you ask him).

Before I end, do you still insist that we lawyers are liars? Not that it makes a difference, but I hope that I have swayed your perception a little bit in our favor.



Gina Dizon
Remembering Padi Tom Ambucay

Fr. Thomas Ambucay is one of the older Anglican priests who instilled faith and hope that there is active and meaningful spirituality in the Anglican faith. This, despite published controversial news about the Anglican Church having mismanaged its resources and losing millions of investments in some rural banks or having illegally dismissed an academic officer.

Just when the clergy is known to drink excessively losing their credibility, or leave their ministry in the country’s terrain to greener pastures abroad, the un-assuming Padi Tom Ambucay lived a harmonious life on and off the pulpit in church stations which he served in northern Philippines.

Padi Ambucay, 67, is from Kin-iway, Besao. He died of a stroke and multiple organ failure last May 6. In his lifetime, he was not known to have built a mansion, drove a fancy car, or ran to the US or the UK for better, economic life.

He lived with his congregation in rural areas and his congregation loved him.
National Economic Development Authority officer Michael Umaming who was then a development worker in the diocesan center in Bontoc in the 1980s recounted how the people of Guinaang petitioned the late Bishop Bob Longid to let him (Ambucay) be retained in the Anglican Church at Guinaang and not go to Isabela.

National Council of Churches in the Philippines Secretary-General Padi Rex Reyes Jr, who was then working at the diocesan center in Bontoc in the ‘80s, also recounted how one early morning, despite the need for sleep, Ambucay along with other residents of rural Guinaang, accompanied a pregnant woman to the main town in Bontoc to deliver her baby.

As Padi Rex said, Ambucay lived with and for the people, a true clergyman who lived up to the life of Christ, and who breathed the scriptures with the people whom he served. While Ambucay had his human frailties like drinking and smoking, these acts were not criticized heavily as to having discredited him as a priest, so observed relatives, the public, and me. On the other hand, some Anglican/Episcopalian priests have excessive drinking habits which discredited them to a point where people didn’t attend mass.

To keep active faith in the Christian Church, a priest like Ambucay, made a Christian believe more in Christ. As such, the church became not only a social gathering place where people congregated in order to attend a meeting or meet a date. The church, with Ambucay’s example, became a refuge where people not only entered its gates because they needed to get wedded, bury a dead relative, baptize a child, or do a silver wedding anniversary.

Priests are there to inspire people to believe in the Christian faith and believe in Jesus Christ.. The church needs priests like Ambucay who project credibility while harmoniously living on earth. (References taken from Yahoo’s Kotim ya Eta (KyE) forum)



Cesar G.Bonilla
Preservation of cultural heritage

LAOAG CITY -- Ilocos Norte has a great history not only because of its culture and traditions but its Christian faith.

The most recent religious event was the 6th biennial national convention of Church Cultural Heritage Workers hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag under Bishop Most Rev. Sergio Lasam Utleg, DD with the help of Rev. Msgr. Ramon Danilo R. Laeda, vicar general and acting chairman of the Diocese of Laoag Committee of Church Heritage and Architecture.

With the theme, “Heritage on loan: conserving the cultural patrimony of our future generation, Utleg stated in his message "one of the special attributes of local church in Northern Ilocos is the presence of majestic churches. These edifices speak of the Ilocano response to the paltiing (revelation) of Apo Dios (God) of Himself.”

“The marks of the passing of the Lord in our history are visible in religious buildings. We all need education on the proper care of these delicate pieces of art and culture and we are filled with great joy to have it in our place." Rev. Msgr. Ramon Danilo R. Laeda said. “The convention is the gathering of all workers empowered to study preservation and rehabilitation of old patrimonies that has something to do with the enrichment of our cultural heritage for they are the living monuments of civilization that consolidated the unity of the Filipinos.”

He recognized the sacrifices of our forebears in building the churches. The Episcopal Commission on Church Heritage is under the leadership of Bishop Julito B. Cortes, auxiliary Bishop of Cebu.The executive Secretary is Fr.Milan Ted D. Torralba from Bohol. It is the mission of the convention to identify those who are included as parts of the cultural heritage and on how to preserve these edifices. Fr. Laeda said the act of preservation using modern technologies is a gargantuan task considering the hardship in raising funds to build churches.

But God works in many mysterious ways to provide proper solutions to save the deteriorating conditions of our local churches. "These are the enduring monuments of the faith of our forebears who may have worked to build these churches because of the polo or the forced labor system. Nonetheless, these were labors of love for the sake of the Heavenly Majesty and as vassals of the Spanish monarchs,” the Vicar General said.

“These churches now form part of our cultural heritage. They have withstood time surviving forces of nature like: typhoons, floods and earthquakes. hey have deteriorated through the years because of neglect and sometimes well meaning but misplaced maintenance.”

The members of Diocese of Laoag committee of church heritage and architecture are Rev. Fr. Ericson M. Josue, engineers.Eduardo Cid, Atty. Nestor Corpuz and. Elmer Resurreccion, architects Mary Coleen columbia L. Cajigal and Rex Hofilena, and Dr. Perlita Baula.
Sex scandals on cameras and videos are clear indications we are backsliding in our values. I am not a moralist but based on what we read and grasp from reports, the effect of this menace is due to lack moral values.

The sacredness of commitment, the privacy of relationship, and the wholesomeness and respect that one afforded to somebody cannot be intruded upon by the lustful eyes of those who prey on their victims like in rooms. Sex videos are committed by psychologically insane individuals. These can ruin our society if no immediate actions are taken by authorities.

Exposing oneself to immoral exhibition is a shame not only to oneself but to family and relatives. Professionals, actors and actresses, youth leaders and public servants must be role models of communities because of the influence and power bestowed on them in fostering values formation needed for youngsters.

The lifestyle of some people might be the root cause of this malignant and abominable actuation. Be that as it may, it is the way we treat people and the emasculation of our Christian values that show our behavior like outlook on sex. Our society is sick if we allow modern technology to make people immoral and behave like animals. Using videos like filming sex scandals is certainly a threat to our peaceful and orderly society.
Motorists should properly observe traffic rules and regulations while driving in main thoroughfares for disregarding traffic laws could lead to police headquarters, the hospital, or the point of no return (cemetery).

Many accidents have been attributed to the hard-headedness and recklessness of some drivers like motorcycle daredevils who fearlessly traverse the national highway without protective helmets. They grin like a Cheshire cats in overtaking slow-moving jeepneys and buses as they drive fast.

Filipinos religiously observe traffic rules abroad but sad to say, some are not law-abiding citizens in their own country. Some drive under the influence of liquor. So many warnings but still, some drivers don’t obey traffic rules or take precaution. They would not be able to learn their lessons when they meet an accident and die.
Two intellectually-gifted educators, Dr.Vicente Bonoan, vice-president for academic affairs of DATA Center College of the Philippines and Dr. Ernesto Ma. Cadiz shared their opinions about the present educational system in our country. Cadiz said there is a great mismatch when it comes to skills trainings provided by schools with requirements of jobs being offered nowadays causing unemployment. He said we are producing more graduates with few job opportunities so, the government should determine the needs of the job.

Dr. Vicente Bonoan said colonial mentality is still the pitfall of some Filipinos making them travel for work abroad particularly in the US creating “brain drain” in the country needed to steer the government. Bonoan said educators should not institutionalized in their system the so- called "envelopmental thinking" for they are duty-bound to help students in their quest for a better future.
Teachers should act as second parents to their students, he said, adding schools are the center of scholarly thoughts or a marketplace of ideas and not a marketplace of consumer goods. In the same vein, Cadiz said students should participate in class discussions and mentors should be prepared all the time to answer questions intelligently.
I would like to greet Madam Leilani A. Mendoza and Sir Roger for their kindness and generosity. They came all the way from the United States of America to visit Ilocandia. A pleasant day to Mr. Nicolas Aubert of France and Ms. Jenny Pan of China. May God bless you. More power to Philexplorer!



Glo Abaeo Tuazon
Boys High 92 reaching out

ITOGON, Benguet -- Saint Louis Boys High School Batch 92 found a better way to do reunions by reaching out and doing something more than casual fun during gatherings.

The group headed by their president John Guimbaolibot collaborating with Medical Outreach Missions Foundations Inc. led by Dr. Robert Tolentino took some time out with 23 medical student of Saint Louis University to render service here Recently at Barangay Gumatdang.

The recipient barangay headed by baangay chief Arnel Bahingawan who also happens to be part of Boys High 92 gathered his people to avail of the free services last May 18 at the Gumatdang Elementary School.

The five doctors specializing in different fields plus one registered pharmacist and the medical students took in 13 bloodtypings, 42 eye check ups, 65 general check up for adults, 50 pediatric checks and 34 circumcisions. They also doled out free medicines and vitamins to the patients courtesy of Unilab.

Boys High 92 has been doing the same services in the past and plans to do more. One big event they are planning is to render Alay Pasko this coming Christmas, a way of sharing the little tidings to the more unfortunate.

With about 50-60 of their almost 300 members active, a little helping out here and there would go a long way. Lately they are also into fitness and recreational activities. -- email:




Rafael Santos
Executing brilliant ideas

Prestige Labels Co. (PLC) started offering its customized product development and manufacturing solutions in 2003, targeting small business owners with great ideas but with scant resources for market and product research. For fees that go as low as P15,000, the company develops customized health and personal-care products. It also serves as a one-stop shop for creating and marketing health, beauty, and home cleaning products, with services ranging from product formulation and packaging design to integrated supply-chain management.

According to Patricia Besinga, PLC’s managing director, the company takes the guesswork out of product formulation particularly for startup companies. “Coming up with brilliant ideas is often the easy part,” she says. ”It’s the making of the actual product that proves difficult for some businesses, so this is where PLC comes in: we ask our clients what they want and we develop the product for them.”

Besinga views her company as an outsource provider for enterprises that want better products but have neither the expertise nor capacity to do the product development, marketing, and manufacturing themselves. What PLC does is to tailor-fit its services based on the client’s needs and specifications, using the wealth of its industry experience and strategic partnerships to deliver solutions.

She explains: “Our service is for people who have no idea where to begin after coming up with a product idea. Most startups have budgetary constraints, and because of this they can’t purchase the volume orders that most manufacturing facilities require. PLC comes in at this point, helping startups out so they can be relieved of the headaches during the startup phase.”
Based on her experience in working for big companies, Besinga has a clear idea of the usual shortcomings of small businesses when it comes to capitalization, manpower, and expertise. She had put up PLC to help fill this void, providing affordable solutions that can empower even small companies to take a crack at the bigger markets.

“The entire package PLC offers costs about P100,000, which consists of market research, product stability tests, packaging, as well as BFAD [Bureau of Food and Drugs] registration,” she says. “We can produce the products and even market the merchandise for the client. The product formulation is retained by PLC, but clients can ask for tweaks as they see fit.”

The PLC service package is inclusive of brand name studies with the appropriate logo design and the raw material sourcing arrangements for the product. Aside from its own Quezon City-based factory, PLC uses a line of accredited independent suppliers and manufacturing facilities.

Currently, Prestige produces for its various clients such products as teething gels, toothpastes, mouthwashes, colognes, lotions, sunscreen and hair products, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, household cleaning chemicals, and food supplements. “We have partnerships with four world-class manufacturing facilities to produce the products that we formulate for our clients,” Besinga says.


Baguio execs, cops start ‘war’ against sex videos

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has started heightened campaign they called “war” against lewd video materials in the city.

The city council last week asked the city police and other concerned agencies here to implement penal provisions of the law banning display and sale of sex videos in the city.

The move initiated by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda was an offshoot of the celebrated Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex video scandal which has resulted to enhanced operations against video piracy and pornographic video articles in Metro Manila as of late.

“With the onset of the digital age, the proliferation of videos and presentations/shows in the market poses a threat to the morality of the general public which include the youth and children,” Tabanda noted in the resolution approved by the city council.

Tabanda said the sex videos project women in general as “sex objects and degrades then thus dehumanize them.”

“The display and sale of sex videos in public places for commercial purposes is detrimental to the development of the young and destroys the very fiber of decent standards which the city propagates,” the resolution noted.

“Thus there is a need to immediately ban all these sex videos which exhibit lewd and obscene scenes that are unacceptable and against the moral teachings and doctrines.”

Tabanda said the law governing the display and sale of these pornographic articles contains a penal provision that can be implemented by lawmen.

The drive against lewd videos is in line with the provisions of the Local Government Code which authorizes local government units to implement measures to improve public morals.

She said this is also in line with the Gender Equality and Development Code which promotes programs and projects that are gender sensitive and gender fair.


Couple nabbed for Balweg's murder

>> Sunday, May 24, 2009

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Jovencio Balweg, a top commander of the New People’s Army in northern Luzon and main suspect in the killing of his brother, former rebel priest Conrado Balweg is now in police custody after his capture May 18.

Police bared this, adding tactical interrogation against Balweg would be delayed for a longer time because the subject asked that he be allowed to enjoy a “long rest.”

Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Orlando Pestaño granted Balweg’s request, who is suffering from spinal canal stenosis and a stroke.

Pestaño told newsmen the 58-year-old Balweg, alyas Ka Rudy and Ka Dawa, is now resting in a “guesthouse” in Metro Manila, accompanied by his wife, Carmen and son, Jovencio Jr., alias Ka Duffy.

Balweg, a member of the executive committee of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Party Committee was nabbed at Satellite Market Camp 7 in Baguio City at about 3:45 p.m. around 13 km from here.

Pestaño said Ka Rudy holds several important positions in the Communist Party of the Philippines--NPA hierarchy in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

After his arrest, Balweg negotiated the safe surrender of his rebel wife, Carmen, alias Dumay and his son.

Balweg was on board an owner-type jeep (ADC 265) when accosted by joint elements of the Cordillera police intelligence section, Baguio City Police Office, Abra Police Provincial Office, Regional Intelligence Office 14 and Benguet police.

Pestano said Balweg was not carrying identification papers saying he was Ignacio Madella, a cousin of Bienvenido Balweg, a former professor of the Mountain State Agricultural College in Benguet.

Professor Balweg is the eldest brother of the suspect and former rebel-priest turned paramilitary leader, the late Fr. Conrado Balweg.

Pestano, in a report to Philippine National Police director General Jesus Verzosa, said Balweg admitted his real identity after intense questioning.

While being interrogated, Balweg called up Carmen through his cellphone and convinced her to surrender.

Senior Supt. Alex Pumecha, Cordillera police intelligence chief, and his men, who are securing the Balwegs, said police picked up Carmen also in Camp 7 an hour after Balweg’s arrest.

“She decided to surrender to clear her name on the charges against her,” said Pumecha.

Balweg was presented Wednesday before Verzosa..

During the meeting, the Balweg vowed to help the government in the peace process with the communist movement, especially in Abra.

Pumecha said the Balwegs are cooperating fully in their investigation, especially in their involvement in political killings in Abra and the Cordillera region.

“But because he requested that he be allowed to rest, for him to fully recover from his sickness before we conduct our tactical interrogation on him (Jovencio), we obliged and rescheduled such activity,” said Pumecha.

However, Ka Rudy was advised by his counsel, Baguio-based lawyer Rene Cortez, not to answer questions regarding cases he was charged of, for fear of incriminating himself, Pumecha said.

Balweg is facing two counts of murder and multiple frustrated murder charges before the sala of Judge Corpuz Alzate, of the Abra Regional Trial Court Branch 2. Balweg carries a P1 million bounty.

Pumecha said Balweg was arrested on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Corpuz Alzate, of the Abra regional trial court Branch 2 for separate murder and frustrated murder cases.

Balweg reportedly headed a unit which gunned down Fr. Balweg in their family residence at Buanao, Malibcong, Abra in Dec. 1999.

Fr. Balweg broke away from the NPA and founded the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army in 1986.

The CPLA entered into a peace pact with the government of President Aquino and Fr. Balweg ran for the lone congressional district of Abra but lost.

Ka Rudy who was the municipal secretary of Malibcong town, and a mass leader and organizer when he joined the NPA in 1979, rose through the ranks.

He was an alternate secretary or Kalihiman, of the provincial education committee; commanding officer of the Provincial Army committee, and political officer of the Provincial Operational Command.

Carmen was listed in the order of battle as the commanding officer of the Provincial Army Committee; medical of¬fi¬cer of the Provincial Party Committee and a member of the Provincial Political Department of the NPA command in Abra.

The Cordillera police legal division is studying the charges against the Balweg couple prior to their turnover to the courts.


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