Baguio water refillers hit agencies for reports on lead contamination

>> Sunday, September 27, 2009

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The Baguio Association of Purified and Mineral Water Retailers comprised of 172 establishments here assailed government offices for saying water from refilling stations are contaminated with lead.

But despite this, the BAPMWR said their business operations have not been affected by reported lead contamination of water they are selling to their customers since they have been observing government standards of their drinking water.

Lawyer Nellie Olayres, BAPMWR president, said since reports that water they are selling is contaminated with lead has been widely circulated in the media, the frequency of their customers buying purified and mineral water in their establishments have not been significantly affected since their customers know that they are serving clean water.

According to her, it is unbelievable for the city health services office, the Center for Health Development and Department of Science and Technology in the Cordillera to come out with a report that the water they are selling is contaminated with lead because the agencies earlier admitted they do not have necessary equipment to test presence of lead in the water being sold by accredited purified and mineral water retailers.

However, Olayres admitted the DOST-Cordillera is already capable of conducting the test on lead on purified and mineral water sold in the city but the same will only be done by September and October, thus, it is impossible for some agencies to come out with a report on the lead contamination of the water they are selling this early when no tests have yet been done.

The BAMPWR is the umbrella organization of all purified and mineral retailers in the city which is much lower than the 247 original members during their early years of operation.

Olayres said their group is willing to subject their purified and mineral water to all the required tests being demanded by concerned government agencies to show their customers that are selling clean water contrary to the smear campaign being waged by some of their competitors who are not accredited members of the organization.

In fact, she revealed the purified and mineral water they are selling are being subjected to a monthly bacteriological test by the city health services office and those who are found to have the bacteria on their water samples are required to institute the necessary measures to ensure that the water being bought by their customers are safe for drinking.

She said purified and mineral water they are selling to their customers have passed required laboratory and bacteriological tests, thus, it is safe for human consumption, thus, they have not been successful in their business if they have been found to be selling contaminated water over the years.

The BAPMWR official confirmed appropriate lead content tests will be conducted by the regional DOST and CHD including the city health services office on the water samples of all refilling stations in the city to check veracity of earlier reports that purified and mineral water being sold in the stations are lead contaminated.


NPA leader to register, become mayor in jail if court will not free him

MALIBCONG, Abra– This province’s top communist party leader Jovencio Balweg Sr. will register as voter with the Commission on Elections next week, may win as mayor here in his hometown next year, but may administer his functions from his prison cell.

This, in time for a hearing on his murder and frustrated murder cases including his rebellion raps before the Regional Trial Court Branch 2 in this capital town.

Human rights lawyer Reynaldo Cortes of the Free Legal Assistance Group bared this to newsmen saying Balweg had been in detention at Camp Crame since his capture on June 19 in Baguio City.

For the past four decades, Balweg Sr. has been a New People’s Army leader in Abra rising from the ranks to become a member of the executive committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Party Committee.

He will register for the first time as a voter in Malibcong. But he will not go to his hometown, as the local Comelec officer will go to him to have his biometrics.

Balweg Sr., whose wife Carmen and namesake son-Jovencio Jr. and wife also surrendered to authorities after the elder Balweg’s arrest.

Now, the elder Balweg is reportedly eying politics telling reporters he is not thinking of going back to the mountains anymore to rejoin his comrades as he is also suffering from illnesses.

Balweg Sr.’s candidacy for the topmost position in his hometown is reportedly being supported by many sectors.

A high ranking police official who requested anonymity said Balweg would make a good leader.

Former colleague in the CPP-NPA, now mayor of Lacub – Cesar Barona also said Balweg Sr. will win next year should he decide to run.

If Balweg Sr. runs, nobody would repotredly contest him in the race because of his popularity in his hometown.

In the province, like Barona, former NPA leaders who ran for elective posts never lost against their opponents.

Barona’s brother Leo, also a former NPA commander became mayor of Lacub town in the late 80’s.

The exception was Balweg Sr.’s own brother Conrado, a former SVD priest-turned rebel in the 70s, who ran but lost in the congressional race in the early 90s.

According to Cortes, the irony is Balweg Sr.will be serving as a mayor in jail if the court will not free him before he wins in the May 2010 polls.

Balweg Sr. petitioned the court to drop murder and frustrated murder raps lodged against him in connection with the Dec. 31, 1999 murder of his brother.

Cortes said this was “because the crime is absolved in the rebellion raps.”

Abra NPAs had claimed responsibility in the killing if former rebel-priest Conrado Balweg in 1999 for his alleged “blood debts” while leading the CPLA.

Jovencio was with the NPA at that time.


9 Army soldiers fired over colleague’s death

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Nine Army soldiers based in Cagayan have been dismissed from the service for their involvement in the recent death of a colleague.

The dismissed soldiers, all assigned to the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion based in Alcala, Cagayan, were identified as Privates Felijohn Silvestre, Darryll Biscarra, Joeffrey Zalun, Arnold Agcaoili, Diosdado de la Cruz, Marly Burac, Sammy Aguinaldo, Charles Dimas, and Juan de la Peña.

The soldiers were held responsible for the death of Private Jenevil Laman during welcome rites for him at the 17th IB camp last month.

Reports said Laman succumbed to hard blows he reportedly got as part of a supposedly traditional welcome for newly assigned colleagues.

“The soldiers went beyond the limits in extending welcome rites (for Laman). Actually, physical contact during such rites or any events or affairs is banned in the Army,” said Maj. General Nestor Ochoa, chief of the Isabela-based Army’s 5th Infantry Division, whose jurisdiction includes Cagayan.

The soldiers’ immediate superior, 1Lt. Brenel Segovia, was given a reprimand for the incident and his case has been referred to the Army’s Efficiency and Separation Board.

“Our decision is already final and only needs formal approval by the higher authorities,” Ochoa said. -- CL


Mt Prov college to become university

By Dexter A. See

BONTOC, Mountain Province – At least 26 congressmen recently filed a bill in the Lower House to convert the only college in the province into a university.

Led by Baguio Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan and Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao, who is also caretaker congressman for Mountain Province, the congressmen stipulated in the bill that Mountain Province State Polytechnic College would be renamed Mountain Province State University.

This, as the Cordillera office of the Commission on Higher Education has endorsed the application of MPSPC for university status after rigid assessment of its compliance to omnibus regulations promulgated by the Commission relative to conversion of college to a university.

MPSPC has submitted itself to the rigid evaluation by the CHED on its compliance to a 13-point requirement imposed to schools aspiring for university status.

At the same time, the school’s board of trustees also approved the desire of the only State-run higher education institution in this province to become a university.

While the CHED team found several deficiencies in its compliance, the CHED evaluation team found the school has satisfactorily complied with the other important requirements, thus, it endorsed its bid to become a university in the future depending on the action of Congress.

Since 2005, MPSPC had an average annual enrollment of 4,600 per semester which is way above the CHED requirement of at least 2,500 enrollees per semester in order to qualify for a university status.

The school consists of a total of 145 faculty members with 117 or 81 percent are permanent in full-time status while the rest are casual but are serving in full-time status.

Furthermore, 79 faculty members or 54 percent of its faculty have master’s degree in their areas of specialization. a total of 72 or 49 percent of its faculty with master’s degree are on full-time status.

Dr. Nieves A. Dacyon, MPSPC president, cited the results of the CHED evaluation will serve as a basis in the formulation of appropriate work plans in order to satisfactorily comply with the requirements prescribed by the agency in order to achieve the university status in the future.

She said what is important for the institution is to improve development of the institution to provide quality education to the youth.

The university status of MPSPC was also favorably endorsed by barangays, municipalities and the province.

MPSPC was established through the efforts of the late Rep. Victor S. Dominguez who envisioned the creation of a university in the province.


Comelec finishes recount of 2007 Pampanga votes

By Fred Roxas

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga — The provincial government of Pampanga is on tenterhooks after the Commission on Elections finished Wednesday the recount of gubernatorial votes cast in the 2007 elections in this province.

But Edgardo Cervando of the Comelec’s second division said that no announcement of the results of the recount could be made yet pending the “appreciation” of the results by Comelec officials.
Ballots from a total 4,683 ballot boxes from all over Pampanga were revised, he said.

The result of the recount could either retain Gov. Eddie Panlilio as Pampanga chief executive or install former provincial board member Lilia Pineda as new governor.

Pineda had filed the electoral protest that led to the recount of votes, alleging that Panlilio committed anomalies in the last polls and that her alias “Nanay Baby” was not counted in her favor.

Cervando said that all 21 committees of revisors finished the recount by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, although some committees, which had only a few ballot boxes to count on that day, finished their task as early as 2 p.m.

He said that as of Wednesday, the committee still had to add up the results of their counts for a “revisors’ report” to be signed by the chairmen of each committee and submitted to the poll body’s second division.

After the report is submitted, the commission en banc will set a hearing for the marking of exhibits on the revision report.


Robbers use canal to enter city bank

By Liam Anacleto

CABANATUAN CITY -- It was perfectly-planned and well-executed bank heist that you sometimes see in Hollywood movies.

The only problem is that this group of bank robbers in Nueva Ecija seemingly forgot everything about the vault, leaving them with only P60,000 loot – all in P10 peso coin denomination.

A police report said the bank robbers gained entry into the Land Bank of the Philippines branch here through the city’s sewerage system along Gabaldon Street and dug a hole until they reached the underground portion of the bank’s floor.

“The suspects presumably used the manhole located on Gabaldon Street, then shifted their way through the lateral canal going to General Tinio Street and created a tunnel towards the bank,” the report said.

Investigators said the robbers appeared to have stayed under the sewerage system and the tunnel for at least one day as proven by the bottles of mineral water and bread recovered during the inspection.

The heist appeared to have been perpetrated Sunday to Monday which was declared a non-working holiday.

The incident was discovered Tuesday morning Sept. 22.

It was a painstaking task, with probers saying some of the suspects may have some background in mining activities who were determined to suffer everything because of the big bucks prospect.

As soon as they estimated that they were already under the bank’s office, the robbers then dug up a hole anew upward. It was a success as they ended up inside the stockroom of the bank.

“Once inside, the suspects destroyed the concrete wall leading to the vault. However, they failed to enter the vault since the hole they created hit another solid object that blocked their path,” the police report narrated.


Court lifts injunction on chicken dung sale

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The happy days of hundreds of chicken dung dealers in this capital town are back again after the Regional Trial Court Branch 63, which earlier barred the sale of the product, lifted the writ of preliminary injunction it earlier issued, citing that traders will suffer from irreparable damage through earned income if the ban will continue.

However, the lucrative business will temporarily continue pending the court’s decision on the case after the provincial board declared as null and void Ordinance No. 7, Series of 2008 of the La Trinidad municipal council regulating the sale of chicken dung.

In an order denying the petition for judgement of the affected traders, Judge Benigno Galacgac, RTC Branch 63 presiding judge, ruled the court needs more time to assess issues raised by the Shilan out-of-school-youth, the petitioners, questioning validity of the ordinance, the municipal government and the traders.

Under existing rules and procedures, an injunction can be dissolved if it appears the issuance would cause damage to the party or persons enjoined.

The decision cited in the injunction if prolonged, people who depend on the chicken dung trade such as employees and farmers who use the dung as fertilizer will continue to suffer. – Dexter A. See


Bomb threat triggers panic in Malolos court

By George Trillo

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — Tension gripped the Malolos regional trial court Wednesday after a prankster warned of bomb threat, prompting the suspension of court activities.

“Meron kaming pasasabugin diyan sa korte,” an anonymous caller warned. The call was received by Judge Basilio Gabo of Malolos RTC, Branch 11.

Taking no chances, Judge Gabo reported the bomb threat to Executive Judge Herminia Pasamba who, after assessing the nature of the caller, decided to suspend all the afternoon court proceedings.

Lawyer Renato “Junâ” Samonte Jr. confirmed the bomb threat.

Bulacan police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Diosdado Ramos immediately dispatched a bomb squad from the Special Reaction Unit to conduct a bomb search.

Supt. Noli Pacheco, deputy provincial director for operations, said the bomb squad, assisted by bomb-sniffing dogs, found no bomb.

He called on the people from making prank calls because it only disrupts the delivery of public services and creates unnecessary panic to the people.


Cagayan farmers hit low corn price, government increases buying rate

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Paying heed to the complaints of farmers in Cagayan Valley about the low buying price of corn, the national government has increased its buying price and the volume to be bought from every farmer.

This, as the Isabela provincial board, acting on the petition of Gov. Grace Padaca, declared a state of calamity amid the continued low buying price of corn as a result of the national government’s continued policy of corn importation.

Meanwhile, South Korea and Vietnam are reportedly considering importing corn from this leading corn-producing region, bringing hope to thousands of families involved in corn production.

Vice Gov. Ramon Reyes said the state of calamity would enable the provincial government to utilize the remaining subsidy for corn farmers and augment funds from the province’s calamity fund allocation.

According to the new procurement policy of the government, the National Food Authority (NFA) has now doubled the number of cavans of corn it would purchase in Cagayan Valley from 100 to 200 cavans per farmer.

NFA officials also agreed to increase the agency’s buying price for corn to P10-P12 per kilogram from P7.

NFA officials, however, said one-fourth of the new allocation of 200 cavans per farmer – or 50 cavans – would be purchased at the buying price of at least P12/kg, and the remainder, at P10/kg.

When told of the new scheme, most farmers in Isabela, whose corn produce represents at least 30 percent of the country’s total corn production, said, “It’s at least better than nothing,” or selling their corn produce for less than P7 per kilo.

Some observers, however, said the new scheme did not seem to solve the problem of corn and feed wheat importations that have driven the price of corn to record lows amid the present bumper harvest.

Reports though said the Philippine Maize Federation (PhilMaize) has objected to the new scheme, arguing that it effectively put the buying price of corn only at around P11/kg.

It called on the government to adopt the higher buying price of P13/kg and asked the NFA to lower its quality standards so more corn could be purchased from farmers nationwide.

Raffy Jacinto, of the Isabela Consumer Watch, one of the convenors of a conference among farmers, peasants groups and other interested sectors, said they would stage protest actions, including a march from here to Metro Manila, to call on the national government to stop importing corn.

“The march is also intended to remind Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap about the promises he made to the provincial government and corn farmers in the region that the NFA would be buying half of the produce of corn farmers in the region,” Jacinto said.

Meanwhile, in his visit to Isabela last week, South Korean Ambassador Joong Kyung Choi said his country would consider importing corn from Isabela provided it would meet his country’s standards.

South Korea is importing corn from the United States, Brazil and other South American countries.

Local corn producers said the quality of their corn produce is as good as those from these countries – or may even surpass foreign standards if the government would extend the necessary support like postharvest facilities. CL


Bontoc water woes over soon with MOA signing

By Francis B. Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Water shortage of this capital town may soon be solved with the signing Sept. 23 of a memorandum of agreement between the local government and tribal folk of a barangay.

Mayor Franklin C. Odsey bare this saying the agreement was forged between barangay officials of Talubin, Marcelo Almendral, owner of properties at Ampengat and Baybay creeks, Odsey who represented the local government and provincial engineer Leonardo Leyaley of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The agreement stipulated that. Almendral and Talubin allow construction of a new intake dam at Ampengat and installation of water system exclusive for Bontoc.

It was also agreed that DPWH shall rehabilitate the existing 4-inch pipe with its source at Ampengat and connect it to sitio Ban-ay, Talubin;

The municipal government shall also hire casual workers from Talubin to maintain Ampengat and Balabag intake dams and laborers for the construction of the Ampengat intake dam shall be identified by the barangay council.

Barangay officials shall negotiate with property owners along the route of the proposed water system in case of problems that will arise; and DPWH shall construct a new reservoir at sitio Ve-ey for sitio Doddo.

Millions of pesos were earlier spent for the proposed water system for central Bontoc with its source at Bayyo. Some plastic pipes were installed but when these were about to be connected with the water source in 2007 there were vehement oppositions from the people of Bayyo.

Odsey, after he was installed as mayor in 2007, held consultations with Bayyo people with positive outcomes.

However, final negotiations and signing of MOA were derailed for unknown reasons.

As a last resort, Odsey urged several times barangay officials of Talubin to share their water source with people of central Bontoc.

On August, representatives of the provincial DPWH, municipal government including this writer and barangay officials of Talubin went for an ocular survey at Ampengat.

The source at present supplies Talubin. The water flows to the the Baybay falls which can be seen above the Bontoc-Banaue road a few meters away from Talubin.


Despite snags, P5.2-B Cordillera projs to be completed – DPWH

BAGUIO CITY – Project implementers of the P5.2 billion State-of-the-Nation Address (SoNA) projects of President Arroyo in the Cordillera are encountering serious delays in the completion of their assigned projects due to man-made and natural causes but they committed that most of the works will be completed in the prescribed deadline.

This was the agreement reached by government engineers, contractors and officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Cordillera during the monthly coordination meeting to thresh out the problems and solutions that are seriously delaying the completion of the projects.

Engineer Roy L. Manao, DPWH regional officer-in-charge, said the identified problems which affect the smooth implementation of works in the SoNA projects include the unpredictable weather condition, overlapping and numerous road-right-of-way claims, sustainable sources of construction aggregates and the occurrence of landslides in major sections of the roads.

Contractors are now rushing the completion of projects along the Mount Data to Bontoc and Bontoc to Banaue sections of the Halsema Highway and the Bontoc-Tinglayan boundary and Tinglayan boundary to Tabuk sections of the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road which has been ordered by the President to be completed by December this year.

On the road-right-of-way concerns, Manao said numerous claimants have already signed the permit to entry for contractors to implement widening works within their properties while theagency will be processing the payment of their claims.

He said he is optimistic other claimants, especially those along the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road, will follow the examples set by claimants along the Bontoc-Banaue section of the Halsema to ensure completion of the projects on time.

Manao said contractors were already allowed to look for other sources of construction aggregates to avoid slowdown in their project implementation as a result of landslides hampering the continuous delivery of aggregates from the source to the project sites. -- Dexter See


Execs undecided on Baguio garbage woes

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — Local residents and tourists, including the whole team Pacquiao, will have to weather the serious negative effects of the worsening garbage crisis in this mountain resort city as the city government is still undecided on what measure to adapt to end the impasse.

This scenario developed after the city council rejected the request of the city mayor to allocate P50 million to fund continuous hauling of garbage to the sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac up to the end of this year because of insufficient basis.

However, the council approved P2.1 million for hauling of stockpiled garbage at the Irisan transfer station to prevent the open dumpsite from being barricaded by irate residents in the nearby villages of Baguio and Tuba, Benguet who are suffering from the obnoxious odor of the stocked garbage.

The city government’s problem is compounded by the fact there is still no definite plans for the establishment of its long overdue sanitary landfill in Sto. Tomas Apugan village because of increasing number of claimants over the city-owned lot which will be used as a sanitary landfil.

Worst, the possible sites of the landfill in Aringay and Tubao towns in La Union have also no definite direction as local residents in both municipalities have expressed their opposition to the environmentally critical project because it allegedly poses a serious threat to the health of the people and the state of the environment in the said areas.

After publicly admitting the local government is abandoning the planned construction of the sanitary landfill because it seems the project has no definite direction, Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. claimed he was reportedly misquoted since what he meant was the city will seriously consider all possible options for the realization of the project.

Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are now already fed up over the continuous failure of the city government to comply with its repeated commitment to set up its sanitary landfill in order to solve the worsening garbage problem in the city.

At the same time, tourism industry stakeholders here disclosed a remarkable decrease in tourist arrivals in the city over the past several months because of the city’s failure to solve the garbage problem which is repeatedly being televised and printed thereby forcing prospective tourists to change plans in coming here.

This city is one of the highly urbanized cities nationwide that has not yet complied with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act mandating all local governments to close the operation of their open dumpsites and establish their own or clustered controlled dump facilities or engineered sanitary landfill.


Gov wants probe on log smuggling via Pacific e

DINGALAN, Aurora– Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo ordered the Philippine National Police Wednesday to investigate reports that illegal logs are being smuggled out of this town through the Pacific Ocean to evade a checkpoint of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan.

“We have been receiving information that illegal loggers are now using the Pacific Ocean to spirit out the logs, so I have told Col. Esteban to look into this,” Angara-Castillo said, referring to Senior Supt. Romulo Esteban, provincial police director.

She said those behind this illegal logging operation have apparently been affected by the efforts of Task Force Sagip Kalikasan, which has seized thousands of board feet of hot logs since last month.

Illegally cut red lawaan and bagtikan logs estimated to be worth P2 million and with a volume of 11,041 board feet were confiscated at the Caragsacan checkpoint last month.

Angara-Castillo said she has also received intelligence reports that smugglers of hot logs have been using a “diversion road” to skirt the road leading to the Caragsacan checkpoint.

“According to reports, the hot logs are being hauled manually one by one and they don’t pass the checkpoint anymore because they have found a way to sneak them out using a detour route,” she said.

She said the task force would look for a common route for all vehicles going in and out of this town.

Angara-Castillo said she has authorized the use of the seized forest products in the construction of school buildings.

Esteban said confiscated logs with no claimants can be used in community projects, too.

Meanwhile, Esteban said a police team led by Chief Inspector Eric Buenconsejo discovered a mini sawmill with 15,000 board feet of abandoned illegally sawn lumber during a recent inspection in Dipaculao town.

He said Buenconsejo’s team was patrolling the area when they stumbled upon the mini sawmill. -- MG


LCMC most delinquent payer in northern Luzon, says SSS

By Antonio Alvarez Sagud Jr.

MANKAYAN, Benguet – The Social Security System reported the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp. is their most delinquent member in northern Luzon.

Luis Olais assistant vice president for SSS Luzon North said in Baguio City that LCMC started being delinquent in the early period of 2004 with an unpaid contribution of P11 million in principal which they settled but with a penalty of P13 million.

LCMC in 2007 was again accused of delinquency amounting to at least P50 million in principal and P35 million as penalty.

Olais said even if LCMC paid an insufficient 15 percent of their total delinquency which is almost P8 million, this still leaves the company with P42 million in principal which is subject to reconciliation and P35 million in penalty.

He added the LCMC coordinated with the SSS and both parties agreed to resolved the problem.
Meantime, Olais reported the number of other employer remiss other than LCMC case totals 319 for Northern Luzon with 13 cases reported for Baguio mostly educational institutions.


Pampanga town has new mayor, vice mayor

By George Trillo

SASMUAN, Pampanga– Less than a year before the next elections, this town is getting a new mayor and vice mayor.

The Commission on Elections issued its final order for this town’s chief executive, Nardo Velasco, “to immediately and peacefully vacate” the mayor’s office.

The poll body, in a four-page decision, said there is “no more legal impediment or obstacle” to carry out its earlier ruling unseating Velasco for failing the one-year residency requirement.

The decision dated Sept. 8 was signed by Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, and Elias Eusoph.

The poll body also ordered Vice Mayor Fernando Baltazar Jr. and senior municipal councilor Anastacio Agapito Jr. to assume the mayoral and vice mayoral posts, respectively, in accordance with the Local Government Code.

The Comelec ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the provincial and municipal police to “immediately” enforce its order.

As of yesterday though Sept. 10, the order had yet to be implemented amid heavy flooding in this town.

Velasco’s ouster stemmed from the complaint of defeated mayoral candidate Mozart Panlaqui filed even before the May 2007 polls, arguing that Velasco was unqualified to run for mayor as he lacked the residency requirement.

Velasco had resided in the United States and returned to this town only a few months before the 2007 polls.

Despite the complaint, Velasco, who ran under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, won and was proclaimed amid protests from Panlaqui, his only rival, who was the candidate of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi). Baltazar, Panlaqui’s running mate, however, won as vice mayor.

This town is under the second congressional district that includes nearby Lubao where President Arroyo is a registered voter.


Lumber confiscated in Lingayen, 3 crews held

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- Police recently confiscated a truckload of illegally-cut logs and held its three crew, including the driver, for questioning, after the truck was stopped at a checkpoint here in Barangay Baay.

Supt. Harris Fama, chief of police, said his men led by Chief Insp. Larry Toledo were manning the highway checkpoint when the truck with plate RBA-482 driven by Randy Busog passed by.

As the policemen checked the truck, they found out this was fully loaded with various sizes of logs composed of tanguile, tiaong, guijo, mayapis,palosapis, lauan, dugoan and arnato totaling more or less 2,000 board feet.

Toledo immediately confiscated the logs after the driver and his two unidentified helpers failed to show permits for the logs.

Fama informed Mayor Jonas Castaneda and Chief Supt. Ramon Gatan, Region 1 police director, the logs came from Turod, Luna, Apayao, a remote town in Cordillera.

Fama said the logs were supposed to be delivered to a buyer in Poblacion, Tayug, Pangasinan but the truck went to Lingayen which is very far from Tayug, raising suspicion that the crew were probably looking for a buyer.

The apprehension of the logs came after Gatan issued an order to his men in the four provinces of Region 1 composed of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and La Union not to tolerate illegal logging in their areas.

He warned his men not to coddlle illegal loggers or face stiff repercussions. Gatan cited Fama and his men for their alertness that resulted to the confiscation of the illegally cut logs and the apprehension of the suspects.


Cordillera body: No autonomy plebiscite in next year’s polls

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council here ruled a plebiscite for regional autonomy will not be done simultaneous with the May 2010 synchronized national and local elections even if there is a growing clamor to do so.

Various sectors in the different provinces, including this mountain resort city, have been daring the RDC to come out with a draft of the autonomy law so that it will be used as a basis in the conduct of the information and education campaign to the people and the conduct of a plebiscite simultaneous with the 2010 synchronized elections.

The groups claimed the plebiscite for the proposed Organic Act must be done at the soonest possible time so that it will not be overtaken by events such as the proposal to amend the 1987 Philippine constitution through the controversial constituent assembly or the favored Constitutional Convention since there might be a possibility that the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of an autonomous region in the cordillera will be scrapped.

However, Juan Ngalob, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in the cordillera and acting RDC-CAR chairman, pointed out based on the three-year work plan for regional autonomy and development, what is lined up for next year will be the tracking survey to determine voter inclination for self-governance so that it will guide them in the formulation of appropriate strategies in bringing the campaign to a higher level.

According to him, it is important to know if the RDC-CAR had been doing significant programs and projects that have brought further awareness among the Cordillerans on the importance of achieving self-rule in order to advance the economic development of the region so that it could help move out the people from the shackles of poverty.

The tracking survey is intended to determine if there is a significant improvement to the 35 percent of Cordillerans who claimed they are aware of the renewed quest for regional autonomy and if the people are ready for the crafting of a new autonomy law.

Out of the 35 percent of Cordillerans who claimed they are aware of the quest for regional autonomy, 20 percent will surely vote in favor of the issue once the same will be submitted to the people for ratification in a plebiscite while 15 percent of Cordillerans will out rightly reject the said issue.

Ngalob said there is no compelling reason for the RDC-CAR to rush the matter since there are still numerous issues to be addressed as well as it is still an uphill climb for the grassroots level of informing the people on the benefits of achieving self-rule for the region.

Autonomy experts from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) claimed the cordillera is in a better position to be autonomous because of its better peace and order situation coupled with the presence of itsrich natural resources that could be tapped to help in improving the economic situation of depressed communities.

The Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the cordillera and Mindanao. Muslim Mindanao was able to achieve its autonomous status in the 1990s. – Dexter A. See


Benguet villages get P2.75-million aid for hosting power dams

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The SN Aboitiz Power Corporation in Benguet (SNAPB) approved the release of P2.75 million to fund several community projects in different villages of Itogon and Bokod towns that play host to the operation of the Ambuclao and Binga power plants to fulfill its corporate social responsibility programs.

The five projects arre part of a multi-million-peso development package prepared by the power generation company in recognition of the importance of the communities of Ambuclao in Bokod town and Tinongdan in Itogon which host the Ambuclao and Binga dams, respectively.

The Aboitiz-owned power company is in the process of rehabilitating the two power plants in order to increase their respective production by a combined total of 225 megawatts and for the same plants to be operational next year.

Out of the released amount, P500,000 was earmarked for expansion and rehabilitation of the sangguniang barangay hall in Tinongdan while P100,000 was allotted for barangay profiling project. P400,000 was also allocated for the rehabilitation of the Binga Elementary School teachers quarters.

For the municipal government of Itogon, SNAP received P550,000 for the upgrading of community assistance police centers (COMPAC) of the Itogon municipal police station.

Lawyer Mike Hosillos, SNAP external affairs manager, said P200,000 was also given for the additional facilities for students and faculty of the Binga Elementary School.

In Bokod town, the company earmarked P300,000 for construction of the perimeter fence for the Binga National High School plus an additional P700,000 for other pending projects to be submitted for approval by the municipal government.

Hosillos said the power firm will fulfill its commitment in the development of host communities surrounding the two power plants to show villagers that they mean business in placing a huge investment for the rehabilitation of the two dams to boost the country’s energy reserves. -- Dexter A. See


Catholic priests scored for politicized homilies

BALER, Aurora– Certain Catholic priests in the province have come under fire from critics who accused them of allegedly politicizing their homilies and using the pulpit to deliver personal attacks against local politicians, in effect driving the faithful to depart from their Catholic faith in an exodus to other religions.

Supporters of a prominent political clan in the province have accused the priests of allegedly bad-mouthing the clan in a “homily-orchestrated demolition job” instead of providing spiritual enlightenment to parishioners and devotees.

One of the clan’s supporters said that because of the political nature of the homilies, Catholic faithfuls from this predominantly Catholic province are being driven away to other religions in disgust, thus, resulting in the increase of memberships in these sects, particularly the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Pentecostal churches.

In the country, some 72.9 million or 81 percent of the 90 million Filipinos are Catholics. The country holds the distinction of being the third largest Catholic nation in the world after Brazil and Mexico and the only other predominantly Catholic nation in Asia aside from East Timor.

But because of politicized priests, the Catholic population in the province is now “waning fast,” a pity considering it is celebrating its 400th year of Christianization, reports said.

One of the priests accused of delivering politicized homilies is Fr. Nilvon Co Villanueva, parish priest of the San Luis Obispo Parish. Villanueva has long been considered a vocal critic of the Angaras, particularly Sen. Edgardo Angara.

A staunch supporter of the Angaras said that while the clan is being verbally abused by Villanueva, he has not delivered a single homily attacking other politicians, particularly those deemed to have committed irregularities in government. – Manny Galvez


P326 million released for Benguet road projects

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The national government has released P326 million earlier earmarked for repair and improvement of four major road networks in this vegetable-producing province to improve the economic activities in depressed area.

The road projects are in line with the pump priming projects of President Arroyo, which will be completed before the end of the year for the people to feel the benefits of improved road condition.

Benguet Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa said that out of the released allocation, P200 million was
allotted for the rehabilitation of the 95-km Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun-Buguias road, P53 million for the improvement of the Gorel-Bokod-Kabayan road and at least P73 million for the Itogon-Dalupirip road and the city limit to Mount Sto. Tomas Road.

While Benguet was not able to get projects under the State-of-the-Nation-Address commitments of the President, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) facilitated the inclusion of the pump-priming projects in this year’s national budget to help improve the road condition in the province to boost the smooth transfer of agricultural crops from the farms to the market, particularly at the vegetable trading post here.

According to Dangwa, the improvement of vital road networks will lessen the burden of farmers in the affected towns in the transport of their products to the market, which will translate to increased income for their families.

Aside from improving the living condition of people in the depressed areas, the lawmaker pointed out the improved roads will lead to the discovery of the tourism potentials of the province, especially in the Bokod, Kabayan and Bokod areas as well as in the towns of Tublay, Kapangan, Kibungan and Bakun.

The improvement of road networks in the different parts of the region is integrated under the Cordillera Road Improvement Project, blueprint of the development of all roads, which was crafted by the Cordillera Regional Development Council two decades ago.

Among the programmed works for the four multi-million-peso road projects in the province include paving or concreting, construction of drainage canals and slope protection walls, widening and setting up of appropriate road signages for the guidance of the motorists.

However, Dangwa appealed to the residents in the towns affected by the on-going road projects to bear with the inconveniences caused by the various activities of implementers since they will surely enjoy the benefits of better roads once the projects will be completed in due time.

The RDC-Car envisions the existence of improved roads in the Cordillera linking the region with other nearby areas of Regions I and II in order to spark an economic boom in the area to realize the aim of the Arroyo administration to establish the North Luzon Agribusiness Growth Quadrangle. – Dexter A. See


Small-scale miners given deadline to legalize work

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The provincial government of Benguet has given thousands of small-scale miners in the different parts of this province until the end of this year to legalize their operations in order to ensure that they will be covered by appropriate rules and regulations in cases of occurrence of disasters and accidents in their respective work places.

The ultimatum given by the local government was in response to growing concerns relative to the safety of pocket miners while they are conducting their respective livelihood activities due to the recent incidents that resulted in the loss of dozens of lives due to accidents at the mine sites.
Earlier, the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau disclosed small-scale mining associations are having a hard time legalizing their operations because they could not get the consent of large-scale mining companies operating in the province so that they could already work out the processing of their documents to legitimize their ongoing operations.

Based on the order issued by the provincial government, small-scale mining associations must submit their secured consent from the large-scale mining companies and the private claimants in their respective work areas so they could process the issuance of their required small-scale mining permits with the provincial mining regulatory board (PMRB).

Out of the 65 small-scale mining associations operating in mineral-rich areas in the province, MGB-CAR records show there are only four groups, which were issued the appropriate permits while the rest are considered to be illegal.

However, a number of groups disclosed that the provincial government could not totally stop the illegal operation of small-scale miners because the said sector is a P5 billion industry that gives livelihood to over 25,000 individuals.

Aside from the absence of consent from large-scale mining companies which own the mineral claims in vast tracks of lands in the province and private property claimants, MGB-CAR officials claimed another problem being encountered by the different small-scale mining associations is that their work areas are within forest and watershed reservations which are prohibited from being devastated.

Since last year, 20 small-scale miners died while 30 others were wounded and rescued alive after they were trapped inside their respective working areas after huge landslides and rampaging waters of a river blocked their mine sites in Tuba and Itogon, respectively.


Schools’ dropout rate alarms Mt Prov execs

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Dropout rate particularly of secondary schools in the province has increased alarming officials and making them take preventive measures to address the problem.

They have found an ally in the UNICEF and the Department of Education who are set to conduct a training-workshop to enhance skills of parents, teachers and school heads on dropout prevention and reduction.

Batch 1 composed of Bontoc, Sadanga, Paracelis, Barlig and Natonin towns was scheduled on October 2-4 in Bontoc.

Batch 2 composed of Tadian, Bauko and Sagada was scheduled at Tadian on Oct. 9-11.

Batch 3 and 4 will be attended by secondary school officials at Natonin and Tadian School of Arts and Trade on Oct. 18-19 and Oct. 23-24 respectively.

The workshop aims to reduce dropout rate by identifying the causes and preventive measures.

It was learned though that because of the existence of the Child Friendly School System (CFSS) program a remarkable decrease of dropout rate was observed in pilot schools. “Many of our schools have observed that these dropouts usually drop during the months of December, January and February barely few months before the school year ends.

Gov. Maximo B. Dalog cited importance of intervention by the DepEd, local officials, teachers and parents in addressing the problem.

Dalog urged sectors support the Pinagpagan Community Health and Social Development Team aimed to foster care and protection of children and that chjapters would be organized in every barangay to make programs functional.

The governor said full implementation of the Essential Health Care Package in the province was needed which could also help in addressing dropout rate.

The EHCP which is now in full swing promotes good health practices in daycare center and schools in the province. -- Wynner Sayaan


Spying on the ‘enemy’


The explanation of the Philippine Navy regarding the reported surveillance by military intelligence agents of the residence of National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera is incredulous.

To say that the surveillance of Lumbera’s residence was an exercise for Philippine Marine Corporal Hannibal Mondido Guerrero’s surveillance training class was alarming and boosted allegations of cause-oriented groups and concerned individuals that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had been training its elements to spy and kill perceived “enemies” of the government like idealists.

The spokesman said the soldiers’ activities were merely part of surveillance training under the military’s Naval Intelligence Security Force. During such activities, trainees were supposedly given random addresses of unidentified civilians where they would conduct mock surveillance operations.

If the explanation of the Philippine Navy spokesman is to be believed, then we wonder why our military intelligence agents have to train at the expense of ordinary innocent citizens. This is a clear violation of a citizen’s human rights, particularly the right to privacy and security.

This explanation should not be accepted at face value by the citizenry. This is a lame explanation. The AFP is not a private army. It is supposed to protect the rights of the people. But at the rate the rabid dogs are faring and only a few are complaining, such alleged disappearances and murder of targeted civilians, mostly activists will continue.

It is in relation to this that opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero urged the government, through the defense or military hierarchy, to investigate reports that the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has put up an advocacy group that may be used for next year’s elections.

“These are serious allegations that should be cause for alarm. The military’s intelligence office has no business putting up advocacy groups whether for the elections or any undertaking. The government should look into this immediately,” Escudero said.

According to a report in a national newspaper, the ISAFP has allegedly established an advocacy group called “Aagapay,” but some of its agents have expressed concerns on the timing of its creation.

“The ISAFP, as part of the AFP, is a military institution and should not engage in civilian affairs. Its budget is limited to its primary mandate and no conversion is allowed to accommodate extracurricular activities,” Escudero said. "There is something sinister in the idea of the Armed Forces' intelligence service putting up and operating advocacy groups," he noted.

The newspaper report quoted an alleged agent of the ISAFP who was being recruited into this advocacy group. Maj. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978 that adopted President Arroyo as a member, heads the ISAFP.

The military's role in the elections next year, according to Escudero, is confined to security or logistics and only after it has been deputized by the Commission on Elections. Anything other than these functions should be off limits.


Leadership vacuum /Halsema road gripes

Alfred P. Dizon

Next year, we will have a new president and it may not be Sen. Noynoy Aquino but his cousin -- administration clone Teodoro “Gibo” Teodoro.

Why? By the time Smartmatic machines finish counting votes, it would be Gibo who would top the polls – not Da Anointed Noynoy, Manuel Villar of sipag at tiaga fame, young- man-in-a-hurry Francis Escudero, Wristband Erap Estrada or anyone of those pretenders.

Poll numbers expert Ronaldo Puno, who is Interior secretary would be attesting to the accuracy of the machines. Maybe that is the reason why he is so silent on the bill filed by Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casino and Neri Colmenares who proposed the designation of the Chief Justice as acting President in the event of failure of elections. By then, Garci would be relegated to the Jurassic Age of making magic with numbers with the entry of the brave new world of Smartmatic technology.
You see, manual counting would be replaced by high speed technology with the bogeymen pulling the strings. After the counting is done, it would be over but the proclamation of Gibo and Puno as vice president. What a party that would be for administration bigshots and lackeys. It would be another wonderful age of magic for the undertakers who can now perform at ease their magic tricks by making incriminating evidence disappear from offices faster than lightning.
Of course, the powerful people beside the large house along the Pasig River would cry to high heavens everything was done with utmost transparency, honesty and integrity and label the losers cry babies or sour grapes. There could be another Edsa or a civil war after the automated elections but then, again, we are a patient people who can take everything with a grain of salt so that may not happen.

Not really a doomsday scenario. We have been living with doomsday the past many years. To make sure there would be no mayhem, some opposition members are also proposing that Congress convenes five days before June 30 next to select a transition president and vice president in case there is failure of elections.
They are saying present laws do not address a possible failure of election for the top two offices in the land. To prevent any leadership vacuum resulting from a failure to proclaim the president and vice president, they are saying the Senate can elect from among the 12 non-reelectionist senators a president who will assume a transitory role until the issue is settled.

This will require a joint resolution by the incumbent Congress which will convene only for that purpose for the last time before June 30, according to Sen. Francis Escudero who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws. Under the current succession law, the Senate president is second in line, followed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, with a poker face is not talking but he has a glint in his eye. Who knows what the wily old fox has in his mind.
People are apprehensive about readiness to fully implement the poll automation law at this time. But the Supreme Court has decided on automation. And the danger of substituting manual, retail cheating with automated, wholesale cheating is a grave concern.
A counterpart resolution on the same issue has also been filed the House of Representatives by Representatives Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Edno Joson. Would these bills be consolidated in time for next year’s polls?

This nation has gone weary with so much corruption. And this Banana Republic’s weary people could be cheated once more of their votes next year. But then again, we may just have settle for Clone Gibo and Herr Puno, courtesy of Smartmatic,. In such case, we should be put in the Guinness World of Book Records as “most patient people of the world” while the undertakers laugh their way to the banks.
Francis Degay of the mayor’s office of Bontoc wrote the following after the series of recent landslides along the Halsema Highway: Why are we not being informed of road conditions? Otherwise we postpone our travel if landslides cannot be cleared in a few hours or in a day. Who shall be liable if we meet accidents? These are the sentiments of most of commuters.

It is a public knowledge that there are ongoing massive implementation of the State of the Nation Address road projects along the stretch of Mt. Data-Bontoc, Bontoc-Kalinga and the Bontoc-Banaue among others. Completion of these projects shall ease the commuters in terms of time element and comfort. The owners of vehicles shall also save money from their usual maintenance expenses.

But hand in hand with various road projects the commuters must be fully informed through the setting up of traffic advisories in all conspicuous areas with basic information such as condition of the road, the exact place where there is a setback, the approximate number of hours or days it takes to clear a landslide, detour information and other important data that guide travelers and drivers.

A regular traveler informed this writer that one time when he started from Bontoc for Baguio at 3 a.m., he was so disappointed due to an excavation on both lanes of the road a few kilometers from Bontoc. He pointed out that if traffic advisory had been established at At-ato or near the Heritage Bar, then he might have postponed his trip at a later time of the day.

And the worst thing, he said, was that the two-lane road was burrowed for the installation of an “imburnal” or the reinforced concrete pipe culvert. It is basic, he said, that one lane must have been opened for commuters. I heard more often, too, that passengers should have brought with them food and water or postponed their trips if they were informed of the actual road conditions.

In previous road erosions most of travelers crossed the treacherous mudslides or trailed the detour through the narrow pathways or along the rice terraces albeit the probability of accidents.


The Cojuangco wars

Perry Diaz

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga -- For the past three generations, the Cojuangcos have been at war among themselves. First the sons, then their grandchildren, and now their great grandchildren. It all started about money and now it’s all about power and the ultimate political plum -- the nation’s presidency.

It all began when Ko Guiok Huang, an ethnic Hakka from Fukien, China, emigrated to the Philippines in 1871. He converted to Catholicism and Hispanized his name to “Cojuangco” adopting Jose as his first name. The newly minted Jose I Cojuangco then moved to Paniqui, Tarlac where he started his businesses. He prospered as a rice merchant, sugar mills owner, and money lender.

He married Antera Estrella from a wealthy family in Malolos, Bulacan. They had three children: Ysidra, Melecio (Melencio), and Trinidad. Ysidra and Trinidad were spinsters; however, Ysidra had a love child, Felicidad, reputedly with the revolutionary Gen. Antonio Luna.

Melecio Cojuangco entered politics and became town president of Paniqui and was eventually elected as a representative in the National Assembly in 1907. He was married to Tecla Chichioco and they had four children: Jose “Pepe” Sr, Juan, Antonio, and Eduardo “Endeng” Sr. Melecio died in 1909.

Melecio’s four sons went into business with their aunt Ysidra and established the Paniqui Sugar Mills in 1928. A few years later, they ventured into stock brokering and established the Finance and Mining Investments Corp., in partnership with the Jacinto and Rufino families. By the 1930s, the Cojuangcos were the biggest land-owners -- tens of thousands of hectares -- in Central Luzon. In 1938, the Cojuangco, Jacinto, and Rufino families founded the Philippine Bank of Commerce, the first bank in the country wholly owned by Filipinos.

Jose “Pepe” Cojuangco Sr. entered politics and was elected to the Philippine Commonwealth Legislature. In 1958, he bought the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita, a sugar plantation and golf course complex, from the Spanish company Tabacalera. The vast hacienda -- second largest in Central Luzon -- encompasses 11 barrios in three towns in Tarlac. Pepe was married to Demetria Sumulong, daughter of Sen. Juan Marquez Sumulong. They had eight children: Ceferino, Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Carmen, Corazon “Cory,” Jose “Peping” Jr, and Maria Paz.

Cory was married to Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr who was the son of Sen. Benigno Aquino Sr from Concepcion, Tarlac. In 1983, Ninoy was murdered by military assassins as he stepped down from an airplane at the Manila International Airport upon his arrival from self-exile in the U.S. Cory went home to pick up the pieces and led the opposition against Marcos. She was elected president in a “snap election” against Marcos but was denied the presidency. In 1986, a “people power” revolution erupted, the Marcos dictatorship was toppled, and Cory was installed president.

Cory passed away on August 1, 2009. Her passing ignited the people’s desire for change and a clamor for her son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to run for president engulfed the nation. Noynoy accepted the call and is now the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Cory’s younger brother Peping also entered politics and was elected mayor of Paniqui in 1959. In 1961, he was elected to Congress and served until 1969. After Marcos was ousted, he ran again in 1987 and served until 1998. He is currently the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee. In 1992, his wife Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes Cojuangco was elected governor of Tarlac. She served until 1998.

Eduardo “Endeng” Cojuangco Sr., Melecio’s fourth and youngest son was married to Josephine Murphy. They had six children: Eduardo “Danding” Jr, Mercedes, Aurora, Isabel, Enrique “Henry,” and Manuel. Danding entered politics and became congressman and governor of Tarlac.
Danding was nicknamed “Pacman” and “King of Cronies” because of his ability for gobbling up companies. During the Marcos regime, he controlled $1.5 billion in corporate assets which was estimated to equal 25% of the Philippines’ GNP.

When Marcos fled to the U.S. after his ouster, Danding went with him and settled in Los Angeles. Eventually, he went back to the Philippines. In 1992, he founded the Nationalist People’s Coalition and used it as his vehicle to run for president. He lost. He is now the Chairman of the San Miguel Corporation.

Danding’s sister Mercedes was married to Gilberto Teodoro Sr. He served as Social Security Administrator from 1966 to 1986. In 1978, during the Marcos dictatorship, she was elected member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa (National Legislature) . Their only son Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr, a bar topnotcher, is now the Lakas-Kampi- CMD’s presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.
The rivalry among the Cojuangcos started between Melecio’s sons, Jose “Pepe” Sr and Eduardo “Endeng” Sr. Pepe was successful in politics as well as in business. Endeng was said to be resentful of his brother’s success and felt that he was ill-treated.

Their political rivalry reached fever pitch in the 1960s when Pepe’s son, “Peping,” ran for Congress against his first cousin Danding, Eduardo’s son. Peping beat Danding twice, in 1965 and 1969. In 1987, when Cory came to power, Peping defeated Mercedes Cojuangco Teodoro, Danding’s sister, for a congressional seat and Peping’s wife Tingting defeated Henry, Danding’s brother, for governor of Tarlac.

In the 1990s, the rivalry continued. In 1998, Gibo Teodoro succeeded Peping who was termed out of his congressional seat in Tarlac’s 1st district. In 2007, Gibo termed out also and was succeeded by his wife Monica Prieto-Teodoro. Consequently, Gibo left his Uncle Danding’s Nationalist People’s Coalition and accepted an appointment by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Secretary of Defense.

In 1998, Noynoy ran for the congressional seat in Tarlac’s 2nd district and won. He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2004. He served the House as Deputy Speaker from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, Noynoy was elected to the Senate for a six-year term. Noynoy held several leadership positions with the Liberal Party. He served the party as Secretary General from 1999 to 2002, Vice-President of the Luzon Liberal Party from 2002 to 2004, Secretary General again from 2004 to 2006, and Vice Chairman of the party from 2006 to the present.

Now, a battle royale looms between the Cojuangcos -- Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vs. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr -- for the highest position in the land, the presidency. While there are other candidates in the 2010 presidential race, Noynoy and Gibo represent not only their feuding families but also rival political forces as well as competing economic interests. The stakes are high.

Never before in the history of Philippine politics had two presidential candidates attracted worldwide attention. The United States and China take close tab on the forthcoming elections. The 10-million strong global Filipinos in more than 200 countries are watching the two fifth-generation cousins, Noynoy and Gibo, slug it out in the largest -- and possibly, final -- battle of the Cojuangco wars. (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)


Remembering Emmett

Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- At the wake, Nestor Gatchalon, ex-soldier, ex-Wright Park pony boy and father of four, admitted he never really knew Emmett Brown Asuncion, his friend for close to a decade. Emmett initially impressed him as fastidious and proud, almost rude, close to a snob he had to greet and eventually deal with because, as neighbors, they saw each other almost everyday.

He saw him better when Emmett’s former students at the University of Baguio Science High came in all ages and sizes to pay their respects. They turned the five-night vigil at Funeraria Paz into a season of gratitude, love and remembrance He listened enough to open up as he watched from the back of the funeral chapel.

He recalled how Emmett had to have him by his side at the x-ray room of the Baguio General Hospital. Emmett was then seriously ill, yet tried to maintain his independence and dignity, yet could do nothing but submit to the medical procedure, covering his eyes with a towel, as if it were Linus’ blanket.

Nestor recalled how it was for him also to be alone, that time he was wounded in battle, until a Muslim family took him to heal in their refuge, somewhere in the war in Mindanao.

He heard Emmett’s students speak of their own wounds he had inflicted - as if Science High were his own military training camp, only that Emmett his friend was the drill sergeant. Yet his students profusely thanked him for the scars that prepared them for the harsher (or kinder) realities after their graduation march from high school.

Many said they entertained and even mounted feeble flashes of rebellion, yet later saw – especially when they themselves had children – that the Emmett mold, mode and even mood of discipline trained them well to become what they are now.

But who was it who said that by the time you realize your parents were right after all, here come your children telling you you’re wrong? So they prayed their own kids would make it to and through the rigors of learning at UB Science High. After all, they were sure Emmett fit(s) that line from novelist Richard Paul, author of the best-selling “The Christmas Box” trilogy: “Those with softest hearts sometimes build the hardest shells”.

Emmett’s shell would crack each time a student would come to bid goodbye, saying he or she was transferring to another school. That’s why they, too, came to the wake as his children. The shell cracked after he scolded some boys he found drinking and smoking inside their classroom a day before their graduation, way back in ‘68. “I never scold people I don’t care about,” he said, enough to sober them up.

“You can’t give what you don’t have,” Emmett used to say. He was (is) not what he had, so he gave all he had, mostly for student scholarships, “without plaque, ceremony or audience”, to use another Evans quote. Except perhaps his long-sleeved shirt, necktie, attaché case – and umbrella, a yellow one his children hooked to a candle stand beside his white and blue casket.

Perhaps his only investment for himself was a plot at the city public cemetery he visited eight years ago. Nestor said he had a pebble-washed tomb built on it. Chances are it would also be given away, as his children laid him to rest last Sept. 7 at the less crowded – and more orderly – Baguio Memorial Park below.

Beaulah Badua (Class ’70), who, with Liza, Nestor’s wife, spent most of the last six months in Emmett’s room at the dear old Baguio General Hospital, the best medical center around, saw how he hopelessly and helplessly tried to keep his independence and dignity being eroded as his medical condition worsened.

Emmett’s fear was another teacher’s dread in Mitch Albom’s book tribute “Tuesdays With Morrie”. In his bed waiting for the inevitable due to a debilitating and paralyzing disease, teacher Morrie Schwaetz was asked by television host Ted Koppel what his greatest fear was. Morrie replied it would be the day when somebody would have to wipe his ass.

“I will always respect your dignity, and you, as my father and teacher,” Beaulah had to reassure Emmett. Yet she told him he was so proud because he was so intelligent, which he admitted – humbly. Muhammad Ali quipped that “when you’re as great as I am it is hard to be humble”. Yet the parody of another quote is that Emmett was that great to have the right to be humble.

Like Morrie, Emmett taught his students how to feel for others, and as such, to be human -as he was. He taught them how this journey to the grave called life – triggered by birth – matters not how long. Its meaning lies on how one helps other passengers, especially the young, undisciplined ones (like us then), prepare to face, with confidence and comfort, the bigger challenges that come in the latter part of their own journey.

Emmett’s children are indebted to so many people, some of whom he never met, others he hardly knew. His children thanked them - his fellow teachers, school administrators and others who felt there was really no need for such gesture. After all, they all belong to one grieving, yet thankful family.

In keeping with Emmett’s wish, some of his children quietly planted a pine seedling, as a living memorial. It was September 11, so they added one more pine, in memory of those who perished that day eight years ago.

An hour after his time was up, nurses came to transfer Emmett to a stretcher on wheels. Perhaps not knowing him, they were reluctant to hold his emaciated head so it won’t sag. It was an honor I took, gingerly propping his head up - a repository of abundant wisdom generously shared through the years by one who had fully lived out the lesson of James 2: 14-24. To have cared for him during those difficult times was also signal honor for the doctors, nurses and medical staff, some of whom were his students.

For Nestor, it was an honor having been Emmett’s friend. That’s why he sat there in the chapel until dawn the first two nights of vigil. ( for comments).


Mike Santos (1939-2009)

March L. Fianza

Donned in a cowboy’s get-up, complete with shiny boots, Big Spender black Tetson hat, black denims and checkered long sleeves; I find Mike sitting in the dark, behind piles of beer cases at the “Wild West Bar” along Otek St., Baguio City , Philippines .

His cigarette glows in the shadow as I approach the familiar smile. Alone on a table for six, he finishes a light beer as if reviewing in his mind the songs that he has lined up for the night’s gig. And as I sit at the other end of the table he asks, “kumusta pare, anong bago?”

His family, relatives and older or earlier contacts in life knew the real name as Manuel P. delos Santos ; but friends and associates outside the family circle knew him as Mike Santos. This was so, especially at the time he took to the stage as a country singer-musician in the early 60s.

It was a name on and off stage that became as enduring as the cowboy hat that he always wore. It looked more permanent than the name that appeared in his birth certificate. Mike Santos then, became a household name among musicians and bar regulars in Olongapo, a city known for its carefree nightlife of wine, women and songs.

The name of the man with few words became even more popular to that city’s guests as the years of his singing career passed by. American servicemen on duty or on ‘R and R’ at the Subic and Clark military bases, as well as tourists, became admirers of Mike that they can not stop dropping by just to see and hear him sing Hank Williams’ “I’m so lonesome I could cry.” One time, he told me that Hank is his favorite singer-composer.

I also came to know him as Mike Santos as that was the name introduced to me. Later, I found out that the saloon workers such as bartenders, bouncers, waiters and waitresses called him “Tatay” or “Tata,” while contemporaries in his music world called him “Little Mike.”

In his long career as a singer-musician, Mike earned fleets of nameless admirers and an unknown number of friends, but likewise stumbled due to problems that arose in the course of his occupation. According to the beer bottles, aside from singing, Mike was a strict businessman. Hence, his staff and workers were sometimes hurt with the way he ran the club.

A close friend of Mike confirmed that the guy owned and managed in the 70s two or more bars in Olongapo that catered country-western music. These were the “Long Horn” and “Country Corner” bars.
When Mike asks, “pare, anong bago?” – He is simply suggesting that he wants to share a new joke he has invented, make one laugh or make one’s night happy. Then he starts telling a series of jokes invented out of personal experience. That alone is satisfying enough.

Mike does not talk much off stage but elicits energy from the audience the moment he belts out his first song. In between the melodies, he blurts out the answer to a many-a-customers silent inquiry, so he says – “uray lakay, makasikog pay!” (even older men can impregnate).

He came up and sang at the Genesis Restaurant along Harrison road before becoming main attraction at the Wild West bar and restaurant, together with the Foggy Mountain Band that was organized with Conrad Marzan, another legend. Mike was there when Wild West opened in 1992 until it closed down in 2000.

He came to Baguio at the time when country music was becoming popular and solo-duet folk singing in the city was losing its crowd to the Karaoke bars. At the same time, rock ‘n’ roll was becoming the trend in Olongapo.

After one benefit concert for an indigent patient was held at the Wild West bar, the activity would not seem to stop – especially when the audience always asked if Mike would be performing. He was always there even at the time when he became a beneficiary of one of the shows.

Right after recovering from ailment, he got up again and the crowd, as usual, became loud upon hearing his yodel and instant jokes. Mike left the stage Thursday after a fatal attack Surely, Mike Santos will be remembered and missed – the way he was. --



Eugene Balitang

LAGAWE, Ifugao- - It was a rainy Saturday night and I’m stuck at home with the blues. With time to kill, I plugged in our Globe USB internet connection, and by sheer luck, reception was good on GPRS and I was able to connect on Facebook, the latest craze when it comes to cyber social networking (better and faster than Friendster, if I may add). And what do I have?

Dear sweet Josie confirming my invitation for her to be added on my friends’ list. And to top it all, she sent a message on the network chat. Thus followed our cyber tete-a-tete. After disposing of the usual pleasantries, we immediately plunged into our common topic—politics and politicians!

Ah, Josie. She can turn heads on any given day, this I can bet my last peseta. My friend and panyero Modz had surely hit the jackpot when she decided to tie the matrimonial knot with him in that little chapel in Panubtuban, Asipulo. I stood with my only pair of Americana among their principal sponsors when they exchanged their “I dos.”

Yes, Josie. You would not believe that this cute and petite wife and mother had fought in the mountains and ravines of Asipulo during the 2007 political battle, fighting a 3-corner mayoralty race against homegrown and seasoned politicos. It was an uphill and no-win battle, but this was only in retrospect, how are we to know then.

We both took our oath before Senator Edgardo J. Angara (SEJA), making us the top standard-bearers of LDP in Ifugao in the 2007 political battle that we’re talking about, the alliance being one of coincidence than by choice—I was then bolting the divided LP while she just resigned as SEJA’s assistant chief of staff to fight her political battle in her native Asipulo. Alas, we both lost. This is the tragedy.

Josie had long moved on and is now the Director of Media Affairs and Publications of the University of Baguio , while I stayed in dear old Ifugao to await my second chance at the title fight—the gubernatorial post of the province. And this is where our roads differ. Josie had moved on and away, only to be beckoned back by her political allies, friends and general “suckers” for their own political ends. I stayed, only to be dismayed by detractors, foes and general “mental-crabbers” who would be salivating if I will make it.

And thus, our chat on that Saturday night focused on Josie’s dilemma. She has a great job, a happy and settled family and an offer to work overseas, with the possibility of bringing her family with her. And now she’s in a crossroad again, the soft beckoning of Asipulo turning into a shout.

And for want of any Solomonic advice to impart, I simply told Josie that she should consider herself lucky—she has options to choose from, others never had any choice, perpetually stuck in the rut they are in, day in and day out. She signed out when he heard her hubby Modz honking their van. I lingered on Facebook browsing friends’ profiles, pondering my own options. Alas, there is only one path for me to thread—to fight again in 2010. (


Playa Tropical Resort Hotel

Cesar G.Bonilla

CURRIMAO, Ilocos Norte – This province is a virtual museum with strong Spanish, Chinese and Oriental influences. It is highly recommended as a prime destination not only for those who love the outdoors but also for those who like to learn of its historical and illustrious past as shown in its unique culture. Just like Playa Tropical Resort Hotel, the beams of this beautiful haven radiates like a precious gem.

The accommodating and charismatic manager of this well-known hotel in the North in the person of Toni Carag is an epitome of a virtuous Ilocana. Toni took up BS Math at De La Salle University but after two years of studies, shifted to hotel and restaurant management at De La Salle College of St.Benilde. It is here where she learned the ins and outs of hotel business like proper management of food and beverage department, housekeeping and front office to keep the flow of visiting clients.

Carag is presently enrolled in the graduate school of Ateneo de Manila University taking up Master of Arts in Business Administration. Being the think-tank of the hotel, Toni discovered what is best for her clients, their needs, wants and how to address these.

She is a friend to everyone and this personal touch encourages tourists to jeep coming back. She was a student leader at DLSU and consistent dean’s lister at De La Salle College of St.Benilde.Her parents -- Mariolito Carag of the angguniang panglunsod and Ernelyn, an accountant have been a great influence for the young manager’s career since.

They are hard-working, honest and loving to their three siblings like Toni, the eldest and the only daughter, Christopher and Marco Jeremy. Toni was born on Feb. 23,1987 under the zodiac sign of Pisces. She has a strong vision, charitable, philanthropic, not materialistic and humble. She believes that all employees should be treated well, considered as partners. She says success will come if you take good care of them.

Toni can easily relate with different kinds of people for she considers them as blessings. She says it is not the money that matters but the best reward is when the people will come back and remember your name. She is the model of the youth. During school opening and Christmas season, she is one of those gentle hearts who share the Christian love with less fortunate members of society especially the kids.of Barangay Victoria.

Meanwhile, the talented architect behind the artistic and unique design of Playa Tropical is Joy Quintana from Manila. The first impression of people upon seeing the hotel is the ambience and the classical architectural structure in a stress-free environment. The Playa will surely help boost the tourism industry in Ilocandia.
I was invited by DATA Center College of the Philippines President Joseph Sicco to join with him at Playa for a cocktail party by the hotel and restaurant services students wherein they had the opportunity to experience actual and academic internalization of what they have learned in the field of hotel management.

Prof.Efren Valdez, director of student affairs, Prof.Jose Cardona and members of the faculty spearheaded the program to motivate students to become the best in their specialization. I would like to mention the name of canteen manager Brandy and Bernie who shared their companionship during the starry night near the swimming pool overlooking the view of the silent sea.
The people of Piddig,Ilocos Norte remember the historical Basi Revolt. According to our history, when the basi (sugarcane liquor) was placed under monopoly of the Spanish government like tobacco. The people rose in rebellion in 1806.The beating of the drums summoned the rebels to arms and the convento and the houses of the rich were burned.

The short-lived uprising was actually a precursor to the much bigger Basi Revolt that began in Piddig the following year (1807) wherein people joined the insurrection all the way to San Ildefonso near Vigan and the towns of Batac, Sarrat, Paoay and Laoag.
What is happening in the Senate right now has weakened the opposition with the divide-and-rule tactics of the administration. The administration candidates can still have enough time to plan their political strategy while the other side of the fence are up to destroy their foundation unmindful of the fact that by destroying friendship and alliances, other potential candidates..
Happy Christening to baby Princess Clydette C.Asencion,the daughter of sis.Cathy and kumpadre.I also acknowledge my fellow godparents like Major and Prof. Agosto Asuncion,Atty lawyer Marissa Asencion, Danilo Dumlao,Debbie Agtang,

Marissa Doronio, Cecile Alcantara, Jennifer C.Lazaro, Rey Taylan, Eric Salvador,.Cris Jacinto, Nelson Roman Sotelo,Ruben Asuncion,Lovely Pascual,and engineer Joel Juan.

I would like to greet Prof.Flory Asencion,Vicar General of the Diocese of Laoag, Msgr. Danny Laeda,Rev.Fr.Melchor Palomares, Principal Milagros Avelina Jose and the kind-hearted Weng Oamerga of Pias,Currimao.


A people’s platform

Ike Señeres

MANILA -- The initiative to hold people’s primaries is a good idea, but what is yet another good idea is to complement it with a people’s platform that will be the basis for choosing candidates that the people could support. The good news is, we do not have to crack our brains for new ideas because the ideal people’s platform already exists, and it is already contained in Agenda 21, the national agenda for sustainable development for the 21st century.

First things first- Agenda 21 might have been a product of government processes, but it is an agenda that now belongs to the people, because it has already been affirmed by the Congress that represents the will of the people. Having clarified that, it is no longer a question of whether the people should support it or not, because that is no longer debatable. The issue now is whether we are going to implement it or not, whether we are going to just let it rot as a paper document or not.

Agenda 21 is a well written and is a well thought of document. In a manner of speaking, it is a good showcase of how good we are in expressing ourselves in written English. The only remaining question now is whether or not we will also become good in making it happen, because talk is one thing because talk is cheap. Talk is easy, but what is hard is to stop talking and to start acting.

Looking back at the background of Agenda 21, it is the local manifestation of international agreements reached in Rio de Janeiro, meaning that it is not just our own national will that is at stake here, it is also our place in the community of nations that is at stake. We said yes to the rest of the world, so there is no more excuse for us to get out of our global commitments no matter what local difficulties we are going to have.

Talking about international commitments, it seems that we as a nation is not doing too well in our commitments to the United Nations, in terms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Human Development Index (HDI). This could actually be a source of collective national shame, if only we could realize the gravity of our collective national failure.

I am willing to risk my reputation as a writer to say outright that our present national system of reporting our MDG compliance to the United Nations is not honest and neither is it transparent. As far as I know, all member countries of the United Nations are supposed to report actual empirical data that are collected from below, from the local city and municipal data sets, and we do not seem to be doing that.

Granting for the sake of argument that Agenda 21 is too broad of a document to be used as a people’s platform, we could nonetheless argue that those who are seeking the vote of the people for local and national positions should base their campaign promises on the delivery of MDGs, which are really nothing more that the internationally accepted means of measuring the delivery of basic services at the local and the national levels.

In the absence of any other empirical means of measuring the success or failure of local and national governance, we should just turn to the global measures set by the HDI method, namely the measurement of the per capita income, the literacy rate and the mortality rate. Simply put, the per capita income is a good means of measuring the poverty rate, the literacy rate is a good means of measuring the delivery of education services, and the mortality rate is a good means of measuring the delivery of health services.

For the record, not all of the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) are meeting regularly and religiously as mandated by the law. This gives us the clue that the MDG compliance reports of the national government are probably just fabricated figures, because the data from below should have been validated by the RDCs, if only they are really meeting as they are supposed to be.

As we start to choose the candidates that we will vote for, we should start asking them how they are going to implement Agenda 21 if they are elected, and how they are going to comply with our local and national MDG commitments, as well as how they are going to increase or lower the local and national HDI measures as the case may be. Truth to tell, promises of delivering livelihood would only address a means to an end, because in the final reckoning, it is the increase in the per capita income that matters most.

Watch my TV show “Bears & Bulls”, a daily coverage of the Philippine Stock Exchange. 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in Global News Network. Email or text +639293605140 for local cable listings.


Overwhelmed with work?

Aileen Santos

Learn simple strategies other entrepreneurs have used to achieve work-life balance I received one letter from someone who calls himself or herself “Working From Home”, which I think many entrepreneurs can relate to. The letter-sender laments, “I have visited websites, attended the workshops, bought the magazines, and read the books.

But now that I know how to launch my business, I have such a huge checklist of ‘things to do’ and I can't do it all! How can I increase both time and money abundance in my life, and still have time for my real passion - my family?”

Are you nodding your head in agreement? If it makes you feel better, realize that you are not alone. When I started my consulting business, one thing I realized about “being your own boss” was this: "When you work your own hours, you often end up working ALL hours."

The great news is that hundreds of other entrepreneurs have discovered solutions that really work, and they may work for you too. Here are five of the best that I've found:

Focus on your money makers. Develop the skill of choosing and focusing on actions and products that bring in the most money. When you make these your priority, even if you accomplish only three things in your business for that day, you would have done the three things that would bring you closer to success. Even when starting out, remember that your end goal is to work on your business, not in it.

Balance between customer creation and customer service Customers are the life blood of any business, and they go through a specific cycle when interacting with you and your company. Find out at which stage in the cycle you function best (is it in attracting new clients with marketing, or in keeping them happy with personalized follow-up service?), and focus on your strengths while automating or delegating the other tasks.

For example, if you know you get stressed when you answer questions from your product’s users throughout the day, hire someone with a helpful and cheerful attitude and train them to do it. Your customers will love your company more for it... and you spend less time being stressed.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Our expert shares three ideas to help you choose the things that will bring the most value. Entrepreneurs can avoid being overwhelmed by too much in their to-do lists, by learning to focus on money-making products and actions.
I’d like to expound on that, and add an even more important focus: How do you learn to choose the things that bring you the most value, both in terms of money and time abundance? Here are three tools and strategies to help you do just that:

Know that multitasking does not work. Numerous studies have shown multitasking's negative effects on learning and productivity. In one study, Microsoft research scientist Eric Horvitz found that after being interrupted by a phone call, e-mail, instant message, or even a 'quick question' from a colleague, workers took an average of 15 minutes to return to the task they were working on.

So if you only had an hour to finish an important letter and were interrupted (or you checked your e-mail or Facebook, even for “just a minute”) four times, you basically got zero amount of actual effective 'letter writing' done. Goodbye one hour! Focused attention (a.k.a. doing just one thing at any given time until it gets done) always brings better results, minimizes mistakes, and gets the important tasks done faster, freeing up more time for real rest. As Holistic coach Max Simon puts it, “Just because the whirlwind exists, it doesn't mean you have to get caught up in it.”

Choose a niche and build on it The most powerful way of using focused attention in your business is to specialize in a specific niche. Defining a clear niche makes it 100 times easier for you to build a recognizable brand. When people know you specialize in something, it's easier for them to remember when and why they need to work with you, and not just anyone else.
“What streamlines your business increases your income,” says money and marketing coach Kendall Summerhawk.

Recognize “The Best” from “The Good” Sometimes you’re tempted to do several things at once because they all seem like good ideas. The problem comes up when you finally get the chance to launch your Best Idea – the one that has the potential to bring you the most satisfaction and money, the idea that you could build on to become your niche – but you don’t have enough time to work on it because you’re already involved with too many 'good idea' projects.

When this happens, recognize it as a clear sign of your need to delegate the other projects to other people, so that you can give more time to your Really Important Project. But how do you know which idea qualifies as your Big Idea? Here's a downloadable tool to help you decide: it’s called The Decision Making Grid, and you can access it at This tool helps you make a logical and ultimately satisfying choice from several options, especially when you need to consider several factors. Try to implement at least one of these solutions in the following month, and tell me how it goes.
Aileen Santos is a Life ReInvention Coach & A-Ha! Trainer who facilitates important “lightbulb moments” of clarity & creativity to individuals & teams. Learn more about her training & coaching work at or visit her blog at


No volcanic ‘eruption’ in Tabuk village

>> Sunday, September 20, 2009

By Dexter A. See

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — Experts of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology confirmed findings of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau that the ground swelling in a creek at Sitio Lapat, Cabaritan here was caused by ground movement or landslide, and not by any seismic activity in the area.

The findings of the experts allayed fears of thousands of residents in the place that the ground swelling was a result of the revival of an alleged volcano.

The residents expressed fears of displacement from their ancestral lands and destruction of livelihood if the reported volcano erupts.

A survey conducted by experts of Philvolcs, Julio Sab-it, senior science research specialist, said no evidence of seismic activity in the area was found.

Sab-it said the seismic device installed in the area for a few days to record ground movement underneath ashowed no significant results. This prompted the team to conclude that there was no seismic activity.

At the same time, experts also examined soil and water in the area to verify claims of residents that water temperature in the area is warmer and that the swollen ground “appeared sulfuric in nature.”

Based on samples tested by the experts, Sab-it said, the ground and water acidity is neutral and the temperature is still normal. There is no need for the villagers to panic about the phenomenon, he said.

The Philvolcs official said the change in water temperature could be caused by the reaction to the soil composition at some portions of the creek.

Moreover, they said, gasses are formed when physical and chemical changes occur during the decaying process of plants, animals and other materials in land which is typical in forested areas.
These gasses are reportedly trapped underground and released when the soil opens during ground movement or excavation.

The team of experts recommended to local officials the conduct of further surveys and delineation in the area to determine the extent of the ground movement.

Earlier, the Cordillera MGB office, which conducted the initial survey in the affected area, found a significant change in the movement of the ground that was indicated by the increase in the size of the gap between the walls of a major crack located at around 250 meters above the base of a hill.

The Philvolcs team warned that a major landslide would occur in the area if the cracks collapse once the the area is saturated by the accumulated water.

They said the worst-case scenario would be the occurrence of “flash floods” which could affect several villages on the banks of the creek.

Because the ground on the other side of the hill is stable, the creek bed, which is composed of mud stones, was pushed upwards and formed the earth lump originally measured to be about 10 meters.


Judge: Nothing irregular in granting bail: PDEA chief denounces release of 'shabu queen'

BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency denounced the release of a female drug suspect police tagged as an alleged “shabu queen” here, but the judge said Wednesday there was nothing irregular in granting bail to the accused.

Judge Antonio Reyes of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court Branch 61 told newsmen PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago may have been entirely misinformed when he denounced the release of drug suspect Brenda Singson after posting P80,000 bail.

Singson was nabbed in a raid last Aug. 22 and was released on bail despite being tagged as the fourth most wanted female drug suspect in the Cordillera.

Santiago directed lawyer Alvaro Lazaro, PDEA’s prosecution service head, “to exhaust all legal remedies” to overturn the Aug. 27 ruling of Reyes.

Seized from Singson were 21 sachets of shabu worth around P40,000, assorted drug paraphernalia, and live ammunition.

But Reyes said there was nothing wrong in granting bail to Singson as she was accused of a bailable offense.

“First, bail is a matter of constitutional right, and the accused, Brenda Singson, was released because the crime she is being charged with is bailable,” he said.

Under the law, a person found in possession of at least 50 grams of shabu is not entitled to post bail.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Baguio City prosecutor’s office, Singson’s bail was set at P160,000, Reyes said.

But considering that Singson had asked for a reduced bail, “our courts, as a matter of practice, usually grant half the recommended bail but it must be paid in cash.”

Reyes said the city prosecutor did not raise any objection when asked to comment on Singson’s P80,000 bail.

As to Singson’s acquittal in 1992, Reyes said it was then Judge Salvador Valdez, not him, who cleared her because he was appointed to the judiciary only in 1994.

This erroneous statement, according to Reyes, not only put him in a bad light but also the judiciary.


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