HIV/AIDS cases up in Baguio; 17 dead

>> Monday, March 29, 2010

BAGUIO CITY -- At least half or 17 HIV/Aids patients in this tourist resort city have died from a total of 35 cases recently reported here.

This, as even the number of non-gonococcal STI like syphilis is also on the rise here.

A rise in sexually transmitted infections and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in this tourist resort city is being seen to become epidemic even with a measles outbreak.

According to city health officials, HIV/Aids cases here have risen from 10 for 1992 to 2002 to 25 cases for of 2004 to 2009 but said the deaths were recorded since 1992,

Dr. Celia Brillantes, social hygiene clinic chief said a 150 percent increase in reported cases in a five-year period was alarming.

She said cases of syphilis infections have been increasing indicating HIV/AIDS cases are increasing.

Brillantes said those who turned out positive with HIV are not only with sex workers but also overseas Filipino workers and those with multiple sex partners, particularly those having homosexual relations.

For 1992 to 2002, seven out of 10 positive cases were OFWs.

From 2004 to 2009, Brillantes said four OFWs per year become infected with HIV/Aids in the city.

The latest reported cases in the city according to the health social hygiene clinic, involves men having sex with men.

This, as confirmed cases of measles in the city also rose to seven for the period of Feb. 26 until March 19, with 60 more suspected cases being placed under surveillance and testing.

“Technically it’s an outbreak because by the definition of the word itself, there is already a sudden increase in the number of cases which we have than in previous years,” epidemiology and surveillance unit head of the city health office Dr. Donna Tubera said.

This prompted the city health office to launch a simultaneous immunization of 95,000 children aged six months to 12 years old here.

Since last week, more than 45,000 children were given vaccines or one half of the targeted population, including all school children in the city.

Reportedly caused by the rubella virus, the type of measles is different from German measles ortigdas-hangin.

Rubella virus, which causes measles, is a highly contagious virus usually transmitted from person to person through infected air droplets and direct contact.

Rashes starting at the forehead and neck spreading through the body and lasting for about three days coupled with high-grade fever occur during the infection. Cough, red eyes, and runny nose also occur. -- JD


Eels compound Ifugao’s water woes in rice fields

LAGAWE, Ifugao — Eels are compounding the water shortage experienced in rice terraces of this world heritage site as they dig holes in the soil, allowing water to seep out of the rows of plantation.

Local agriculturists said eels located in rice paddies of Kiangan, Lagawe, Hingyon and Sipulo are multiplying rapidly and some even moving from one rice paddy to another, raising concerns among farmers.

Experts suggest that since the eels – known in these parts as an aphrodisiac – can be eaten, one possible solution is for farmers to catch them for eating or selling.

Meanwhile, Regional Development Council in Cordillera advised concerned government agencies and local governments to work out the immediate adoption and implementation of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. – Dexter A. See


Ecija prov’l execs charged with graft

CABANATUAN CITY– Seven Capitol officials, led by re-electionist Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali and a businesswoman were charged March 18 before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged overpriced purchase of P25 million worth of schoolbags last year.

In an eight-page affidavit-complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in Luzon by Vice Gov. Edward Thomas Joson, named respondents were Umali, provincial budget officer Randolph Alingig, provincial health officer Benjamin Lopez, Environment and Natural Resources officer Maximo Borja, Vicente Santos, Florante Fajardo and Leoncio Daniel, all members of the bids and awards committee of the provincial government and businesswoman Jennifer Avellana.

It was the 15th case against Umali filed by Joson, presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The two top provincial officials are contesting the governorship in May, Umali under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD and the local party Partido Pagbabago and Joson under the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija.

The graft charge accused the respondents of gross violations of RA3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 100, of the Local Government Code; grave abuse of discretion, misconduct in office and irregularity in the performance of duties among others.

The complaint stemmed from the purchase on March 12, 2009 by the local school board of the provincial government of P26 million worth of schoolbags despite the glaring shortage of classrooms in public elementary and high schools and the lack of teachers.

Joson said in his complaint that the appropriation is in gross violation of Section 100 of the LGC which mandates that the construction and maintenance of school buildings should be the topmost priority of the Local School Boards in the utilization of the Special Education Fund.

In the purchase request for the school bags, Umali sought the acquisition of two sets of schoolbags, one involving 231,000 pieces of backpacks and another 23,000 for pre-school kids with certain speci fications.

Records of the case showed the BAC held a public bidding for purchase of the schoolbags which was subsequently won by the Pateros-based EGRP Trading owned by Avellana.

When those charged were sought for comment, they could not be reached. – MG


SC rule ends Bulacan gov tiff

By George Trillo

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan — Tension over who is the legal governor in this province after the Supreme Court issued a verdict declaring Joselito "Jonjon" Mendoza as the rightful governor of Bulacan Tuesday afternoon March 23.

More than 100 policemen deployed at the provincial capitol compound to maintain peace and order led by Senior Supt. Fernando S. Villanueva, acting Bulacan police director, after learning that Villanueva said well trained policemen from the Provincial Public Safety Management Company headed by Supt. Manuel M. Lukban Jr. and intelligence operatives headed by Supt. David N. Poklay, deputy police director for intelligence and investigation, were strategically deployed around the provincial grounds to ensure that no untoward incident happens and also to see to it that no government facility will be damaged as a result of the verdict.

When Mendoza arrived at the capitol building, he thanked all provincial government employees who welcomed him with hugs and kisses.

“Una, kasama ang buo kong pamilya, taos puso po kaming nagpapasalamat sa Diyos at pangalawa sa aking mga kababayan na patuloy na nananalangin at sumusuporta sa atin,” Mendoza said during the thanksgiving mass at the second floor of the capitol building the other day.

The teary eyed but triumphant provincial executive said he has never lost faith in the integrity of the high court.

As this developed, Mendoza called on his rival, former Gov. Roberto “Obet” Pagdanganan to help in spurring more growth and development in the province.

He said the former governor and agrarian reform secretary can contribute a lot in boosting the development of the province because he is also a good Bulakenyo leader.

“Magtratrabaho pa tayo ng husto. Meron pa tayong ilang buwan para maglingkod sa lalawigan ng Bulakan,” Mendoza said.

Former Bulacan Gov. Josie dela Cruz, the elder sister of Mendoza, also expressed her thanks to God and her provincemates for their trust and support.


Pangasinan PAO chief slain

SAN CARLOS CITY, Pangasinan — Police are looking for assassins of the chief of the Public Attorney’s Office of the province who tailed him on his way back to the office and shot him in the back in Barangay San Cacaritan.

Supt. Noel Valle, city police chief, said investigators are doing all they can to identify and arrest the killers of lawyer Dante Untalan, 59, married and a resident of Malibong, Urbiztondo.

Vallo said Untalan was on board a tricycle from an out-of-the-office meeting when a white motorcycle carrying two men tailed him.

Witnesses told investigators one of the men on the motorcycle took aim at the tricycle’s passenger carriage and fired a series of shots that hit Untalan in the back.

With Untalan bloodied inside the tricycle, the white motorcycle made its getaway.

Concerned citizens rushed to his aid and took him to a hospital in the city where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Homicide probers lifted deformed slugs and bullet casings for a .45-caliber pistol, the only evidence they have linked to the killers.

With no suspects yet, investigators are trying to figure out whether or not the motive in the killing was either work-related or political, since Untalan and his wife, an incumbent barangay chairman, are supporters of a mayoral candidate in Urbiztondo.

Senior Supt. Percival G. Barba, Pangasinan Police Provincial Office director, said probers only have a rough description of the suspects since they were wearing helmets during the attack


Binay-an ancestral land heirs seek media help

By March Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – Heard of “kidnap for ransom myself” cases in the past. This time however, some members of the media describe this as a simple and stage-managed case of “landgrab my own ancestral land.”

Members of the Binay-an clan of Camp 7 here sought the assistance of the print and broadcast media last week after feeling helpless in their efforts to resolve an ancestral land problem with an opposing party that involved their cousin and co-heir.

Salvador Binay-an, president of the Barot Binay-an Clan Ancestral Land, Inc. has accused Angeline B. Damaso, his cousin and co-heir, for continuously negotiating with land developers and companies whose proposals were previously rejected by the heirs.

Binay-an who came with some relatives and members of the Counter Intelligence Service Group (CISG), a non government organization, apparently was left with no other choice but to face the media, albeit, emotionally and teary-eyed at certain moments.

In a press conference held at the Luisa’s Café along Session Rd., Binay-an admitted that the member-heirs of their clan granted Angeline, their co-heir and cousin, a special power of attorney (SPA) in March 1990.

In 1998, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim 033 (CALC 033) in favor of the 13 heirs of Barot Binay-an. This covered an aggregate area of around 40 hectares.

Angeline who was then the holder of the SPA legally represented the Barot Binay-an heirs and received the CALC 033 in behalf of her cousins and co-heirs.

However in 2002, the clan members revoked their cousin Angeline’s SPA after they noticed that she still continued to negotiate with private entities and land developers whose proposals were previously rejected by the Binay-an heirs.

Still in 2009, Angeline Damaso, by way of the SPA that has been cancelled in 2002, successfully transferred almost 12 hectares of the 40-hectare ancestral land to the company of spouses Angel and Jane Lumpias without the clan’s permission, Binay-an explained.

The clan president said they filed cases against Angeline Damaso, Lumpias and his wife’s company, but admitted that the latter seemed to be “untouchable.”

Quoting a letter-request that he distributed to members of the media, the clan president wrote, “You can imagine this fellow can talk to any officer for (sic) offering or asking them how much do they want.”

Binay-an said the heirs were surprised why all the cases they filed against their cousin never reached the courts as these were immediately dismissed at the level of the fiscal’s office.

“This is why I am requesting for a media mileage (sic) because I believed (sic) and I have strong faith in the media that with your help (in) exposing this monster who is now trying to engulfed (sic) the entire ancestral land of Barot Binayan who are in the end will lost (sic) and be marginalized from their own legacy left by our grandfather Barot and Tongkoc Binayan…,” the clan president wrote in the same document.

Relative to the report of Binay-an, the CISG NGO confirmed that aside from a forest fire inside the disputed ancestral land at Camp 7 that occurred on March 7, 2010, earth-moving and tree-cutting activities were noticed.

Binay-an suspects, these latest incidents inside their ancestral land may be in preparation to the future sale of residential lots to innocent buyers.

Meanwhile, the CISG NGO who accompanied Binay-an to assess the forest fire were surprised why nothing was being done about such activities despite the land’s proximity to the Kennon police station.

Members of the CISG claimed they were illegally arrested by police elements, suspected as criminals and hauled to the police station along Kennon at Camp 7 for questioning, instead of being assisted in their effort to find out the origin of the forest fire.

They said however that the station commander apologized to their group, and were released from police custody after he talked to an unknown person on the phone.


Ilocos Sur bets sign peace pact

By Freddie G. Lazaro

VIGAN CITY — At least 70 candidates running for different positions in the province have signed a peace covenant initiated by the police in coordination with the clergy to ensure the holding of honest, orderly, and peaceful elections this coming May 10.

The signing ceremony was held after the mass celebrated by Archbishop Ernesto A. Salgado at the Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral in Vigan City last Tuesday March 23.

Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson, who is again seeking the governorship of Ilocos Sur; Gov. Deogracias Victor “DV” B. Savellano, who slided down to run as vice governor; Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Singson- Medina, and Candon City Mayor Allen G. Singson led the candidates in the signing of the peace covenant.

Witnessing the signing were Ilocos Sur Comelec Supervisor Atty. Marino Salas, Col. Rogelio Migote of the Philippine Army, members of the local media, the police and the clergy headed by Salgado.

Senior Supt. Eduardo A. Dopale, Ilocos Sur police director, disclosed that the signatories of the covenant were the candidates for governors, vice governors, congressmen, mayors and vice mayors from the 32 towns and two cities in Ilocos Sur.


P.5 M marijuana seized in bus bound to Bontoc

By Dexter A. See

BONTOC, Mountain Province — Police seized last week 20 kilos of marijuana bricks inside a Bontoc-bound commuter bus at a checkpoint here in Sitio Pangkikan, Tocucan, police said.

Police manning the checkpoint, joined by anti-narcotics agents acting on a tip, found the box containing the marijuana bricks valued at around P500,000.

Police questioned bus conductor, Nathaniel Sam-ang, and his helper, Gavino Puyakaw who said it was loaded into their bus by an unidentified man in Sitio Mamaga, Barangay Saclit, Sadanga, with instructions that someone will pick it up in Bontoc.

However, when narcotics agents hitched on the bus all the way to Bontoc, no one appeared to pick up the box.

In Camp Dangwa, Benguet, Chief Supt. Orlando Pestano, regional police director for Cordillera, said bus owner Ignacio Layusen Agaslong Jr., 29, married, and a resident of Poblacion, Sadanga, Mountain Province, is now under investigation.

The seized illegal hemp was likely to be circulated in local markets in Bontoc.


Militant female leader abducted by army men; charged for murder

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – A 55-year-old peasant leader in Northern Luzon was reportedly abducted by still unidentified camouflage-wearing armed men at a bus terminal, here March 22 around 6.30 p.m.

Her abductors who were later found out to be members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines later filed charges for murder here at the Regional Trial Court against Myrna Abraham, a native of Isabela.

Abraham was forcibly taken by the still unidentified armed men of the AFP after she came from Baguio City and had a stopover in Tuguegarao prior to proceeding to Pamplona, which is her work assignment.

Human rights groups said Abraham was on her way to Sanchez-Mira and was supposed to get off in Claveria but she slept in the bus that she missed her bus stop. When she woke up, it was already 6:30 p.m. and she was already in Cauginganan, Pamplona.

She immediately got off the bus. As she alighted from bus, four men wearing white shirts with the word “police” grabbed her. They also shouted that they were police to stop bystanders from helping Myrna. They then pushed her into a white van. Two more men were waiting inside the van sitting in front. Then the van sped off towards the direction of Abulog.

Inside the van, Myrna struggled but was easily overpowered by her abductors. She was blindfolded and handcuffed. They traveled for about two hours. She was brought to an unknown place where she heardsounds of pigs and of airplanes taking off or flying. There her captors started interrogating her. Her main interrogator introduced himself as Raymond Wong who claimed to “belong to the Philippine Government”.

Abraham replied that they have something in common since she is also from the government. She asked them what she had done. They told her she did something against the government. They were forcing her to tell her real name.

The groups said her interrogators did not believe her when she told them that Myrna Cruz- Abraham was her real name and she's from Pasig City. They reportedly insisted that she was Nel Villanueva. They would allegedly bring her home if she admitted that she is Nel Villanueva and tell them her address.

On the following day, she was brought to a hospital for medical checkup and at around 11:30 a.m., was brought to the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 for inquest procedure for alleged violation of Commission on Elections Resolution 8714 as well as for murder of a certain Johnny D. Belo of Amulong, Cagayan on Oct. 23, 2002.

The 17th IBPA reportedly filed a case for alleged violation R.A. 8714 because allegedly they found two hand grenades among her things.

Abraham denied that she had hand grenades in her possession and said that these were planted on her belongings.

The murder charge was against a certain Saturnino Hagunoy, Nel Villanueva was one of the accused in the said case.

A certain Celyflor de la Cruz allegedly identified Myrna as Nel Villanueva.

Her abductors took all her three bags – one envelop bag, a utility bag, handbag, her wallet, all identification cards, credit cards, ATM cards, cell phone, a hard drive, and a USB flash disk. They reportedly didn’treturn all this to her and only gave her some of her toiletries.

At around 5:30 p.m. of that same day, she was brought to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Cataggaman,Tuguegarao City where she awaits the arraignment of the murder charge set on April 21, 2010 8:30 a.m. at RTC Branch 3 under Judge Beltran.

Militant groups said her abduction was “another affront to the effort of cause-oriented groups to serve the different sectors which are not being properly attended to by concerned government agencies.”

Numerous militant organizations in the different parts of Northern Luzon joined peasant groups in condemning the kidnapping of Abraham, who is working as a peasant coordinator in Pamplona town.

They said described it as a “cowardly act of the military to neutralize the existence of grassroots leaders.”

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance cited the disappearances of influential militant leaders in different parts of Northern Luzon as alarming.

The CHRA said that it pictures the current state of the country and its officers who are allegedly involved in corrupt practices that have affected the country’s significant economic growth.


My father and I haven't reconciled with GMA - Joey de V

DAGUPAN CITY– Senatorial bet Jose de Venecia III yesterday said he and his father and namesake, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., have not reconciled with President Arroyo since he exposed the alleged anomaly in the national broadband network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp.

“On the record, my father has not reconciled with GMA. Ako, I cannot reconcile with GMA because we have to hold them accountable,” the young De Venecia, who is running under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino, told newsmen here. If the court decides that Mrs. Arroyo and her husband, Miguel Arroyo, did not commit any anomaly, then I would accept it.”

But right now, he said there is none yet and the case has not even reached the court.

He added it’s a good thing the Senate released its recommendations on the case that the Ombudsman would take into consideration.

De Venecia said the decision of his stepmother, Gina de Venecia, to reconcile with Ms Arroyo was a personal decision.

He said his stepmother strongly supported him in her NBN-ZTE exposé, making him very much indebted to her.

He said she is a friend of Ms Arroyo and since she lost her daughter KC, his half-sister, in a fire, perhaps it would have been better for her to free herself of any animosities.

“It’s the person, not the enemy,” he said, adding that he respects his stepmother’s decision.

“For sure, they will be together in Congress in 2010. Good thing they are not seatmates,” he said in Filipino.

Mrs. De Venecia is running for congresswoman in her husband’s Pangasinan district, while Mrs. Arroyo is eyeing a congressional seat, too, in her hometown in Pampanga.

The young De Venecia said he is confident his stepmother’s move to reconcile with Ms Arroyo will not affect his candidacy for senator, adding that people know him to be independent from his family.

“I mean that’s a fact. My being a whistle-blower caused my father’s job (as speaker),” he said.
Allegations of corruption hounded the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal. Mrs. Arroyo cancelled the project after the alleged scandal was exposed.


DPWH hits unabated dumping along roads

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Administrative Region office of the Department of Public Works and Highways here condemned unscrupulous residents and motorists for repeatedly converting national roads and their peripheries as dumping grounds making these eyesores.

These include Kennon Road, Marcos Highway, Naguilian Road, Halsema Highway, and the Baguio-Nueva Vizcaya road network.

Alexander Castañeda, DPWH assistant regional director, said personnel of the agency have noticed unabated dumping of waste along the roads and even in ridges which affect the beautiful sceneries along the circuitous roads leading to and from the city.

While the agency made previous requests to concerned local governments along the said roads to police their own constituents and even motorists, he expressed disappointment over the failure of local officials to address the worsening dumping of waste along the sidewalks and the ridges, especially with the expected influx of tourists for the Holy Week break and the summer vacation.

Castañeda said local governments along roads must deploy more personnel and police operatives in strategic places so that they could help clean up the wastes being unscrupulously being dumped on various sections or apprehend those responsible for the dumping of garbage.


NPA reb surrenders with guns to Army

CAMP DELA CRUZ, Upi, Gamu, Isabela – A Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army member, voluntarily surrendered with high powered firearms and other war materials to negotiators of the 5th Civil Military Operations Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army last March 19r.

The Army identified the surrendered rebel only as Ka Mario, 37, resident of Lubuagan, Kalinga and listed in the Army’s order of battle as belonging to Larangang Yunit Guerilla, KLG Baggas.

Ka Mario voluntarily surrendered one M16 rifle with defaced serial number, one M14 rifle with defaced serial number, one hand grenade, one smoke grenade and one claymore mine with blasting cap and detonating cord.

At the peak of his five years in the armed communist movement, he was designated as member of the Semi-Legal Team of the CPP/NPA operating in the Municipalities of Pasil particularly at Barangay Uma of Lubuagan and Mabaca of Balbalan, all of Kalinga Province.

He claimed that from the year 2005 until he surrendered, he concentrated on organizing works in their area of operation.

Col. Loreto C. Magundayao Jr, commanding officer of 5CMOBn, said the surrender of the rebel was motivated by his desire to live a normal life with his family and the difficulty he encountered as a member of the underground movement.

Magundayao added the negotiators of his unit including 21st Infantry Battalion, 5ID, Pa and 3rd Light Armor Brigade helped in convincing the rebel to surrender.

He formally presented the rebel returnee to the newly promoted commander of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, Maj, Gen. Rommel A. Gomez (AFP) at this camp.

Gomez assured Ka Mario he will receive financial and livelihood assistance and other benefits under the social integration program of the government.


3,059 has. of rice field destroyed by El Nino

By Mar. T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- A top official of the Department of Agriculture bared 3,059 hectares of rice field have been damaged by the El Nino phenomenon in the province.

Director Cipriano Santiago of the Department of Agriculture Regional Office reported that status of the agriculture damage in the province was based on reports by municipal and city agriculturists as validated by their office

Santiago was summoned by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as resource person along with those from various national agencies to brief its members on the effects of the El Niño phenomenon on the province and share remedial measures their offices could undertake to mitigate its,

But Santiago said data he presented is a “moving situation” as their office will again monitor the situation the coming weeks.

This has prompted Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr., to distribute hundreds of water pumps to farmers in Pangasinan to ease the dry spell.

According to Santiago, there are 1,850 hectares of totally damaged rice fields, composed of 74 hectares of standing crop and 1,779 hectares of rice fields not planted.

He added there are 1,209 hectares of partially damaged rice fields.

The equivalent production loss of the totally and partially damaged rice fields is 9,587 metric tons of rice or P162.9 Million.

Santiago said there are actually 64,531 hectares of rice fields planted, or 106 percent of the target 60,792 hectares.

This means that there is a 4.7 percent production loss in the number of hectares that are actually planted.

Asked whether he would recommend the provincial board’s declaration of a state of calamity in the province, Santiago said that at this time, what is happening in the agriculture sector of the province is insignificant to warrant its declaration.

The Department of Agriculture has provided shallow tube wells to affected farmers and is implementing irrigation rotation and downstream-upstream irrigation scheduling.

PAG-ASA Weather Specialist Rusy Abastillas told board members that their agency released El Niño Advisory No. 7 which included 25 provinces, including Pangasinan, under dry spell areas or areas that will have rainfall deficiency in the next three to four months .

She said the onset of the rainy season will be delayed and the temperature will be warmer than expected especially during the summer months.

National Irrigation Administration officials, on the other hand, informed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that irrigation systems in the province still operate normally with the exception of Ambayaoan and San Fabian irrigation systems that are feeding irrigation waters 50 percent below their normal flow.

One of the reasons why the province is not yet greatly affected by the El Niño Phenomenon is because it belongs to the part of the country that has Type 1 Climate, where the summer months are normally dry.

It is also the reason why the farmers are accustomed to planting earlier for an early harvest to avoid the drought during the summer.


Drug suspect falls in Laoag

By Freddie G. Lazaro

LAOAG CITY – A suspected big-time drug peddler operating in Ilocos Norte was arrested in a drug buy-bust operation at the Gabaldon Elementary School in Laoag City March 21.

Senior Insp. Christopher Danao, head of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office’s Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Group, identified the suspect as Virgilio Ganitano, 62, of Barangay 53 Rioeng, here.

Danao said the anti-narcotics operatives seized 20 sachets of crystalline substance believed to be “shabu” from the suspect.

The seized suspected drugs were estimated to have a street value of P10,000.

Danao said Ganitano, who is in the PAIDSOTG watchlist, has a pending appeal on a drug case before the Court of Appeals.


Wanted person in Isabela nabbed

PARACELIS, Mountain Province -- Once again, the long arms of the law have proven that relocation is not a good tactic to evade correction as the operatives of town police here headed by police chief Senior Insp. Manuel Payay, nabbed a certain Alex Iglesia Lorenzo dawn of March 17 at Sitio Paga, Bantay.

The 31-year-old farmer, married and native of Sonsong, Gamu, Isabela was residing at the place at the time of his arrest.

The arrest was made by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Isaac R. Albano of Regional Trial Court, 2nd Judicial Region, Branch 18, Ilagan, Isabela for homicide.

The suspect was immediately turned over to the concerned court for proper disposition.


Akbayan launches 'Deny the Arroyos' drive in Pampanga

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga– The militant Akbayan party-list group launching here Thursday the “Deny the Arroyos” campaign to prevent presidential son Rep. Mikey Arroyo from being nominated by another party-list group for the May elections.

Liberal Party (LP) guest senatorial candidate and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and Akbayan second nominee Kaka Bag-ao said they would ask the people of Pampanga “to deny the Arroyos their vote” in the May elections.

They added that they would ask Kapampangans “to support reform-minded leaders” like re-electionist Gov. Ed Panlilio, second district congressional candidate Dennis Simpao, and Panlilio’s vice gubernatorial running mate Marco Lazatin in the upcoming polls.

Rep. Arroyo, however, said he has not yet decided on whether to accept proposals from various party-list groups to be their nominee for Congress.

“Nothing is finalized until the names (of party-list) nominees are submitted,” he said.

“I don’t know why they (critics) are hitting me on this. Maybe they simply dislike me or my family. But like a good Christian, I will even offer my other cheek despite the brickbats they have been throwing against my family,” he added.

Earlier, outgoing Bacolor, Pampanga Mayor Buddy Dungca said Rep. Arroyo and last-term Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda are seeking congressional seats as nominees of the party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), which represents marginalized sectors, including security guards and drivers.

Reports said the controversy triggered by Dungca’s revelation has scuttled Rep. Arroyo’s plan to run as AGP nominee.

Sources said another party-list group, the Association of Laborers and Employees (ALE), would likely be Rep. Arroyo’s venue for another congressional term.

According to the ALE website (, the group was founded by former mayor Catalina Bagasina of Sasmuan town, which is part of Pampanga’s second district where President Arroyo is running for Congress.

Rep. Arroyo is only on his second term as congressman representing the second district but gave way to the congressional bid of his mother, who is being challenged by Simpao.


Garbage disposal will be my priority --Domogan

By Joel B. Belinan

BAGUIO CITY -- The hope of seeing this city regaining its crown as the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City in the entire country is now up with mayoralty candidate Mauricio G. Domogan vowing to make the garbage problem on top of his agenda once elected to the city’s chief executive post.

“My first agenda if ever given the chance to go back to the mayor’s office is to address the garbage disposal problem,” Domogan said during the start of the local campaign this week. “We were able to do it before, with the cooperation of everyone, there is no reason we can’t do it again,” he said.

He added Baguio was adjudged the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City in the entire country in 1994, 1995, and 1996 elevating the city into the Hall of Fame. The city received a trophy and P1,000,000 cash per reward.

When the city received the Hall of Fame trophy it came along with a P2,000,000 cash award for a total of P5M cash awards from the clean and green program of the national government.

Due to this award, the city won the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi or the Heritage Award, known as the Mother of All Awards for two (2) consecutive years (1995 and 1996). The award is the highest and most prestigious award the national government can give to the best performing local government unit in all programs. The city received a trophy and P2,000,000 cash per award which was used by the city to purchase additional garbage trucks from Japan.

“Learning from the lessons of yesterday, we can address and solve our garbage problem,” he said. “An effective and efficient team has to really work and carry out the proposed solution, with the city’s leadership always in control of the situation. The city should immediately construct the permanent solid waste disposal system at the site that the World Bank Funded study identified during the late 90s.”

The study was conducted by a French consultant. The site is located at the boundary of the Sto. Tomas School Area and Camp 7.

The city government had approved the said area as the relocation site of the Irisan dumpsite per Resolution No. 078 Series of 2009 but the engineering details for the project has not yet been done.

Domogan said that once at the City Mayor’s Office he would immediately convene a technical committee composed of people from the city, the Environment Management Board (EMB), the Mines and Geo-Science Bureau (MGB), the National Solid Waste Commission and the Philex Mines which volunteered to help without any expense on the part of the city, to work on a full time daily basis to prepare and finish the engineering details and cost estimate. Construction of a temporary solid waste disposal facility near the site as a temporary solution while working on the permanent solution may be considered, he added.

While these are being undertaken, we will implement the Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) program as had been agreed upon during the conference attended by PGMA, then DENR Sec. Lito Atienza and Sec. Heherson Alvarez.

During that affair, it was announced that the city needs P21 million to put MRFs in all the barangays. P13 million will be from the City government, P8 million from the national government. The President further ordered that barangays near Mansion House should locate their MRF site within the Mansion House compound, those near John Hay area should likewise locate their MRF site within the CJH area and lands within the authority of the DENR should be the MRF sites of other barangays.

Domogan added that composting in some barangays that have available lands must be undertaken at the same time let us strike an agreement with the people of Irisan for us to immediately construct an extension of the retaining wall so it can be used as our temporary depository area for our residual waste while our permanent site is being constructed. All of this must be done at the same time.

“With the right kind of leadership, teamwork, collaboration and cooperation from our constituents, I see no reason why our garbage problem can not be solved. One person cannot do it all. We need to work together to bring Baguio back to its prominence-- to its rightful place, the Hall of Fame, as the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized City in the country”, he said.


Forest fires aggravate drought in Cordillera

By Dexter A. See

BONTOC, Mountain Province — Unabated burning of forests is aggravating drought that caused massive agricultural damage in this region, an irrigation management expert said.

“Forest fires are now a daily and nightly scene in this mountainous province that claims to have 80 percent forest cover,” said Delfin Aglit, Engineering Division Chief of the Irrigation Management Office

Aglit, an engineer, said the drought, which started early November last year, has rendered most water sources and watersheds of irrigation canals to dry up and that the continued destruction of watersheds aggravates the situation.

With this, Aglit said the region must brace for more agriculture damages as water sources for communal irrigation systems are drying up due to the long dry spell.

IMO officials have appealed to irrigators’ associations in the different parts of the province and nearby Kalinga to protect their water sources and watersheds from denudation and forest fires.

Aglit said if rain comes this April, there are chances that crops planted in December last year and January this year whose sources of water have dried up will survive until harvest season later in the year.

If not, the plants will die and render tremendous losses to farmers, he said.

Irrigation officials, however, said rice paddies and vegetable gardens whose irrigation sources are big rivers, like the Chico River, will weather the adverse effects of the prolonged dry spell, provided that there will be a continuous flow of sufficient water coming from the upland communities and the watershed areas.

As a mitigating measure, the IMO is continuing its rehabilitation programs by placing concrete linings in existing irrigation canals to prevent water seepage.

Its latest figures show that the IMO has assisted 225 irrigation systems which services 3,829 hectares of vegetables gardens and rice paddies throughout northern Luzon.


‘Militant’ candidate receives death threat

BAGUIO CITY -- A candidate for councilor here this coming elections was threatened with a death threat by still unidentified persons believed to be members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for allegedly being allied with the Communist Party of the Philipines,

Art Allad-iw filed his candidacy as an independent but was adopted by the Nationalista Party under its wing. Allad-iw is a writer of the Northern Dispatch (Nordis), a weekly publication and the International Press Service News, a wire agency. He also teaches here at the Easter School College.

Allad-iw received a letter though postal mail March 23. A black ribbon was inside the letter with the following written in tagalong: “Tila walang saysay at huwad ang inyong planong paglilingkod sa bayan. Aming napatunayan na patuloy ang iyong pakikipag-alyado sa kaaway ng demokrasya, ang CPP-NPA. Malinaw na ito’y pagsang-ayon at pagtalima sa buktot at maling paniniwala ng komunismo. Sa ganitong kadahilanan, aming ipinararating ang “itim na laso” kalakip ng liham na ito, na magbibigay babala na ang iyong buhay gayun din sa pamilya mo ay hiram lamang.
Sumalangit nawa ang inyong kaluluwa.Nagmamahal sa Bayan at Demokrasya.”

(It seems that your intention to run and serve the people is without basis. We have confirmed that you are still having alliances with the enemy of democracy, the CPP-New People’s Army. This means your connivance with the wrong ideology of communism. It is because of this reason that we are sending this black ribbon and this letter as a warning that your life and that of your family are temporary. Let your soul rest in peace. – One who loves our country and democracy)

The threat was seen by militant cause oriented groups in the region as “a move to deter him (Allad-iw) from participating as a candidate in the elections but also as an attempt to neutralize his efforts in criticizing anti-people policies, acts and programs of the Arroyo government.”

Allad-iw was former deputy Secretary General of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and staff of Dinteg Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center.

“The threat against him and his family is also connected to the vilification campaign against progressive people’s organizations, Senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo and the different partylists like Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Partylist, Katribu, ACT, and Anakpawis that we have documented and complained with the Commission on Elections,” the groups said.

In a statement, the groups said: “Recently, some city councilors and candidates in the local elections have informed us that they received letters threatening them if they would continue to support Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo and the progressive partylists.”

A letter blamed on the AFP state that: “Ang BAYAN MUNA, ANAKPAWIS, GABRIELA, KABATAAN, KATRIBU, ACT at AKAP BATA Partylists ay mga kasangkapan ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas para sa eleksyon 2010. Layunin nito ang mapasok muli an gating demokratikong institusyon upang sirain mula sa kaloob-looban…kaya sa darating na eleksyon ngayong mayo 2010, huwag magpalinlang. huwag makipag-alyado, sumuporta o humingi ng tulong sa mga komunista. Mahalin ang iyong buhay at demokrasya. ito ay paunang babala!”.

The groups said the letters also had the same signatory as the one Allad-iw received.

“The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance strongly condemns these recent human rights violations which we see as part of the desperate attempts of the Arroyo government to accomplish its Oplan Bantay Laya targets by June 2010,” the CHRA said.


La Trinidad rules JKA interclub tournament

By Ramon Dacawi

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet --The host squad at the municipal hall here found firm foot-hold in kata (formal exercise) for an 8-4-9 team and individual gold-silver-bronze medal haul to rule the second Philippine Traditional Karate Federation-Japan Karate Association Inter-club here March 21.

Dwyneth Gunan in the boys 8-9 age bracket and Sean Pugyao in the 10-12 group for beginners opened up with Heian Sandan before Karen Ivy Titiwa made it in the distaff side with Heian Nidan.

Roxsan Sotelo also opted for Heian Sandan in the open female individual kata for white and green belts, as did Kevin Shane Lipad in the men’s side, while Jonathan Caluducan pocketed the gold in the 13-15 age bracket with Jodan Tsuki.

The trio of Elmer Brian Cabading, Thornton Aguirre and Glenn Gunan added the boys team kata title for blue belts while Janella Cabading,. Roxsan Sotelo and Titiwa made it in the girls’ side, both executing Heian Yondan.

JKA Headquarters, powered by twin individual gold medalist Adelaine Traquenqa, finished second on a 4-3-3 tally. She topped the female blue to brown belt kata category with Heian Godan before topping the kumite event in the same division.

Other Headquarters first-placers were Fitzmurphy Quintio by reverse roundhouse kick in the brown-to-black belt class, and Kevin Shane Lipad ( white-to-green individual kata),

Eastern Luzon Colleges notched a 3-0-1 medal aggregate followed by Cordillera Career Development College (2-3-6), Easter School ( 2-3-4), Besao (1-1-0), and Buguiqas (0-1-4).

Fourth dan blackbelt Hermi Pelingen said the inter-club meet served as the preliminary to a national competition being arranged with Kunio Sasaki, the JKA’s official representative to the Philippines.

Sasaki late last year designated Peling’s dojo (gym) at the basement of the Epiphany Church here, as the JKA’s national headquarters.

Other JKA chapters in the Cordillera are led by Teofano Daniel Pinas (LGU-La Trinidad), Kevin Cabading (CCDC), Julio Kiso (ELC), Leon Lonogan and Fernando Cancejo (EC), Crosby Dayawen (Tadian), Rhezza Payangdo (Buguias) and Johnny Agwiking (Besao).


More traffic schemes mulled but council decides- mayor

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – Other traffic schemes for jeepneys, both within the city and out-of-town trunklines now depend on the city council, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. said.

But he doubts the implementation of new schemes given the legislative process involved. He, however said he hopes the next administration will improve on what he has started as to traffic reduction at the Central Business District.

The mayor said this in response to a media query if he would favor having the odd-even scheme over the number coding scheme for public utility jeepneys (PUJs).

There was a significant decrease in the number of PUJs entering the CBD when traffic coding schemes for out-of-town jeepneys were implemented.

Drivers however dissented when a combination scheme was implemented, rendering them only three earning days and four rest days for their vehicles.

After one week of experimenting on the double coding scheme, however, the mayor conceded that “one scheme is enough,” as “no traffic would mean we are in trouble.”

With the odd-even scheme, PUJs with plate numbers ending in 1,3,5,7,9 are not allowed to enter CBD on Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays; while those with plate numbers ending in 2,4,6,8 and 0 shall not be allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sundays are considered free days.

For the number coding scheme, plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 are not allowed inside the CBD on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays, and 9 and 0 on Fridays. This scheme allows Saturdays and Sundays as free days.

For now, some out-of-town jeepney trunklines are either on an odd-even scheme, 1-2 scheme, while one-day-one-trip PUJS are on number coding schemes; for a sixty day experiment. Trancoville and Aurora Hill jeepneys are also on experimental odd-even coding scheme; which has contributed to the further decrease in traffic volume along city roads.

Taxi units were also proposed to be under a coding scheme, but no final order has been given.

The mayor earlier ordered experimental schemes for other city roads, to ease traffic chokepoints and lessen vehicle volume specially at the CBD. Said schemes were implemented to see how traffic problems could be resolved, and that “everybody’s convenience is on our agenda,” the mayor earlier stated.

As to Bokawkan road, Mayor Bautista, Jr. clarified that only the city council through another ordinance could revoke or amend the earlier ordinance passed a few years ago banning the entry of jeepneys at the said CBD-bound road.


Lowering electricity rates


Compounding the almost daily brownouts, electricity rates are going higher and according to proponents of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, the Philippines will continue to lag behind its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of foreign direct investments unless the EPIRA is fully implemented,

The EPIRA was conceptualized to attract bigger players in the power industry, promote competition and eventually bring down electricity rates.

Their position: If there were more suppliers, the chances of power rates and the cost of doing business going down would increase, Based on 2007 data from the ASEAN Power Utilities Authorities, a consultative group attached to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the average cost of electricity in the Philippines was 17.5 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

It was more than three times the cost in Vietnam (5.38 per kWh) and much higher than Indonesia (7.77 per kWh), Malaysia (7.67 kWh) and Thailand (8.50 per kWh).

Last year, the Philippines had the second-highest electricity rates in Southeast Asia, trailing only Cambodia. Data compiled by the Department of Energy also revealed that as of December 2008, the Philippines has the sixth highest industrial power rates in the world and seventh highest residential rates.

It comes as no surprise then that FDIs in other neighboring countries were also higher. according to Sen. Chiz Escudero who said Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas records indicated that total FDIs in 2008 totaled $1.5 billion, a 48 percent decline from $2.98 billion in 2007.

In comparison, Thailand recorded $9.8 billion, Indonesia $7.9 billion and Vietnam $8.05 in FDIs. But then, if the EPIRA is fully implemented, would it would go the way of the fuel industry wherein following government deregulation, a “cartel” was allegedly formed among the top players wherein oil prices were “deregulated at higher prices?


Reflection on Palm Sunday

Alfred P. Dizon

(Fr. Marcs Castaneda writes this week’s column. He will be starting a regular column in this paper next week called “Pachie’s Point.” Pachie is a term of the Bontoc indigenous group which means “priest.” He grew up in Bontoc, the capital town of Mountain Province in the Philippines and is now based in Rome. He will be properly introduced in this paper next week.).

I help you go back to the Christmas story and see how King Herod feared so much the birth of Jesus. He was anxious because of his misconceived perception of a political nativity. The King suffered from the apprehension of being surpassed. He never realized that even if he was able to trick the Magi or was able to kill the Baby Jesus which he failed to do; Jesus will still be the King not in earthly standards. Jesus was not the political king as was expected by the people who will protect the people from the enemies through strong armies and great military strategies. He was the King who worked for the people’s heavenly citizenship by offering himself on the cross, and yet people did not see it as victory but folly.

The Palm Sunday which is biblically known as the Triumphant Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem signals the church’s entry to the holiest week of the year. It is very interesting to note how the triumphant line, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” can be interpreted in various ways as was done already by the early thinkers. The entry of Jesus was described in the scriptures with the manner people welcome political dignitaries.

Thus the crowd shouted with joy because they expected Jesus as the long awaited king to bring political deliverance. Jerusalem is a city known to have persecuted many prophets and messengers of God because of their disgust and Jesus was not spared. They shouted the praising line but with a sudden swing of condemning words, “Crucify Him.” These words resounded during the trial of Jesus. It was a line that summarized the disappointment on the part of the crowd longing for political emancipation and words of envy and fear from the Jewish and Roman authorities.

Try to take a look at the quick shift of mood of the crowd and try to contextualize it in the attitude we have today. See the paradox of the Palm Sunday shouts of joy, “Hosanna” and the Good Friday’s stark line, “Crucify Him.” How many times have we said to Jesus we love him and yet we continuously mock and crucify him in our sinfulness. How many times did we reflect on the meaning of the cross, as Jesus’ selfless love and salvific act but we continue to betray him in our selfishness, pride, hatred, anger, greed, lust, dishonesty, envy, untruthfulness, and our ongoing acts of mockery and betrayal.

We are quick to praise people in their successes but in a single mistake committed (and yet Jesus never committed any wrong), they have collapsed already in our judgment. This is a common reality that needs to undergo purification. On the other hand, we are quick to admit our mistakes but we are swift to fall into it again. The rush reactions we have are signs of our immature and undiscerned words and actions. Sometimes we fall into the same ditch like the crowd who praised Jesus and in one moment mocked and condemned him.

Why were the crowds longing for political deliverance? The governance was not good. It was a discriminating and alienating authority. It was a government that created division among peoples and families. It was a government that served the elite. That is why when the people were not able to meet the political exodus they were expecting from Jesus, the King; they pushed him to his death.

I am quite interested to bring this picture in analogous with the Filipino political world we have now. It is not uncommon to hear political candidates shouting their platforms coupled with persuasive trickery promises. But it is rare to see political candidates who after winning the race will be committed to what they have been trumpeting. The quick shift happens when they already find their places in the public office.

They start to sink the sinking ship instead of patching the broken walls and renovating the impaired propellers. See how the crowd who cried praises in the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem finds its parallel today. Of course, it is unjust not to commend the great public leaders who really labored for the authentic human development. We applaud them and give them the chance to work more.

Why do we need good leaders? Simply because we need good governance. Good government means each individual will be helped in his pursuit of the good, and as a community in the pursuit of the common good.

But we must always remember that we are not only citizens here on earth, citizens in a particular country or city but above all we are citizens of heaven. Hence we need to transcend from our temporal chase of the good. I hope this Holy Week observance will truly help us revisit the salvific passion and death of Jesus situating it in the approaching elections. Let it be a threshold of social and political transformation.

Instead of spending time for picnics during the Easter Season, join the Voter’s Education activities of the Social Action Ministry. Like many others, Sister Annie of the Sisters of Charity hopes and prays that we will truly involve ourselves in this noble apostolate. In this line, I strongly exhort each one; we need to meddle in the MORAL aspect of politics i.e. to be a significant participant of good governance.
The dream that was once a tiny seed and struggled to sprout from the earth has taken its leaf and looking with much optimism for great fruits in the future. I congratulate all the graduates. Keep on sailing towards the good and the common good. I greet my niece Yanna Felwa as she celebrates the gift of life, happy birthday! (For comments and suggestions reach me at 09197850528 or


Wake up, kababayan!

Perry Diaz

Amidst the uproar against appointing the next Chief Justice during the constitutional ban on “midnight appointments,” the Supreme Court by a 9-1 vote authorized President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to make her appointment.

The seemingly illegal decision by nine members of the high tribunal to grant Arroyo her wish bespeaks of the violation of the supreme fiduciary entrusted upon the highest magistrates of the land to defend the constitution of the land.

March 17, 2010 marks the transition of the Supreme Court from independent branch of government to an adjunct of the executive branch; from a bastion of enlightened minds to a dungeon of mindless misfits; and from selfless defenders of the constitution to selfish stooges who trample on the law of the land so their master will rule supreme.

What we’re seeing unfold in our country is tyranny that would make the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos look like a Boy Scout. What we’re about to experience within the next three months is the shredding of the covenant of the 1986 “people power” revolution embodied in the 1987 constitution. And what would most likely to happen after that is the imposition of a “new order” -- a plutocratic oligarchy -- that would transform the government into the exclusive domain of kleptocrats and greedy oligarchs.

And what is very sad is that the people didn’t do well enough to stop Arroyo when they had a chance during the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal that erupted in May 2005. However, they almost succeeded in removing her from office on July 8, 2005.

At 5:00 on that fateful Friday afternoon, with Arroyo getting ready to flee Malacañang to follow her husband and son into exile in San Francisco, California, former President Fidel V. Ramos came to her rescue. He made Arroyo an offer she couldn’t refuse: to step down in 10 months after a charter change is achieved that would replace the government with a parliamentary system. Arroyo agreed and her government was given a new breath of life.

But as soon as things settled down, Mike and Mikey Arroyo came back from exile and Arroyo maneuvered to consolidate her power. She knew too well that if Ramos can save her presidency, he can bring it down as well. It didn’t take her too long to strip Ramos of any influence in her government and her party. Ramos probably rue it to this day what he did for Arroyo.

However, Arroyo pursued Ramos’ plan to amend the constitution but with one goal in mind: she’ll be the Prime Minister. She launched a petition drive for a people’s initiative to amend the constitution to adopt a parliamentary form of government. She succeeded in gathering the required number of signatures. All that was needed was the Supreme Court’s approval of the petition.

In November 2006, the Supreme Court, in a 8-7 majority vote, dismissed Arroyo’s petition for a people’s initiative. It was a major defeat for Arroyo. She was back to square one. But her setback didn’t stop her from pursuing her goal; she just had to work harder to achieve it. And achieve it she did. With the subsequent retirement of six Supreme Court justices due to mandatory retirement age, Arroyo appointed new justices who are, without a shadow of doubt, unquestionably loyal to her.

Then Arroyo made the next step that would allow her to stay in the political power game: she filed her candidacy to run for a congressional seat representing a district in her home province which she is expected to win. She made it known that her intent was to work for a Charter change. And then her party leaders announced that they’re fielding her as their candidate for Speaker of the House of Representatives next July.

And if her plan would materialize, she would be in a good position to become Prime Minister under the new parliamentary system. Machiavellian, indeed!

And to buttress her position and provide her with firepower should she need it, Arroyo appointed Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Bangit was Arroyo’s former spy master and commander of her Praetorian guard. Would anyone question where his loyalty is?

The Supreme Court’s “midnight Chief Justice” ruling would put into place the final element necessary to implement -- with a semblance of “legitimacy” -- Arroyo’s plan to remain in power beyond her soon-to-end presidency.

Two days after the “midnight Chief Justice” ruling, Malacañang spokesperson Charito Planas told the media that there would be no failure of elections in the May 10 elections. However, she warned of the possibility of a military takeover should a failure of elections happened.

When Planas was asked if Arroyo was prepared to remain in office while waiting for the new president to be proclaimed, she responded, “Let’s look at the Constitution… It’s not the President who will say, ‘I want to remain here.’ It’s the situation and the Constitution that will dictate what will happen.”

It seems to me that Arroyo’s spin meisters are conditioning the people’s minds of “things to come.” Planas’ reference to the “situation,” provides an inkling of what could happen should there be a failure of elections. Needless to say, the next Chief Justice -- whom many believe would be Justice Ranato Corona, an Arroyo “loyalist” -- would play a pivotal role in seeing to it the Arroyo’s “game plan” would be within the realm allowed by the constitution.

At about the same time that the “midnight Chief Justice” ruling was made, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo announced that the printing of manual ballots has been stopped and that the automated Elections System (AES) will proceed without any manual system backup. Out of 50 million ballots needed, 17 million have already been printed… and put to waste.

Recently, “Halalang Marangal,” a non-partisan group issued a press release which says, “We sat down to discuss the [Smartmatic] ad and realized that all the information contained there, analyzed carefully and taken together, actually meant that as of March 8, the AES probability of success had become unacceptably low. We even tried to be generous in our assessment, and gave the company some benefit of the doubt (where it was possible to do so!), but the numbers still led to a low probability of success.” The group concluded that “the May 10 automated election has 25% probability of success as of March 8.” That’s abysmally dangerous! And there is no manual system to fall back to.

A few days ago, I received a cryptic email message from one of my readers in Manila which says, “FYI recent construction in progress of new gates on Mendiola and the perimeter of Malacañang is work in progress to protect Malacañang palace? What for if she is stepping down?” Makes one wonder if Arroyo is preparing for a long siege to defend Fortress Malacañang in the event the elections failed? Wake up, kababayan!(PerryDiaz@gmail. com)


Earth Hour plus

Ramon S. Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- While those outside committed an hour, those committed to the city jail have committed three hours in tonight’s “Earth Hour”, the annual electricity switch-off that people of Sydney, Australia pioneered two years ago.

Last year, the prisoners extended their energy saving to two hours. Tonight, jail warden, Supt. Rebecca Pawid will have the courtyard and the cells plunge into darkness at 6:30 p.m., two hours ahead of cities around the world participating in this rather symbolic gesture to save on energy and fossil fuel contributing to climate change.

Philippine organizers of “Earth Hour” say the recurrent power shut-offs can’t be deemed and equated as forced savings. The so-called brown-outs are triggered by failure to produce energy due to this season of drought drying up our rivers harnessed to run the power-generating turbines of our dams. You can’t save what you haven’t produced.

Even the term “brown-out” is a misnomer. The Benguet Electric Cooperative, which is in the know, qualifies that what we are now and then experiencing is a black-out, in the same vein that the tool scooping coal., for all intents and purposes, is a spade – or a shovel.

Whatever. What matters is the fulfillment of the inmates over having helped make a difference with the outside world, within the four walls and ceilings they stare at day in and day out. What matters most is “Earth Hour” restores their self-worth over being able to contribute to the community at large they somehow feel they still belong to.

That’s why former city administrator Peter Fianza and his fellow lawyers Jose “Bubut” Olarte and Rolly Vergara will be in jail tonight, same place they found themselves in this time last year for “Earth Hour Inside”..

Fianza, whose usual quiet presence already inspires, will deliver a message validating the inmates’ contributions and efforts towards reform and transformation.. Olarte and other folk and country musicians will again pierce the darkness in an unplugged concert of sorts that voices the aches, dreams, hopes and the resolve to be free, productive and useful and to be of service to God, country and family.

Before message and song, the inmate officers will light up the courtyard with a mood-setting candle prayer. In a most orderly, peaceful, honest political exercise last year, they were duly elected “punong barangay” or “kagawad” of “Barangay Pag-asa” to symbolize their sense of community like that of any other honest-to-goodness barangay outside.

Early this year, respected Baguio lawyer Pablito Sanidad, the former national chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group, asked election officials to go to prison and register qualified inmates so they can vote in the national polls in May. Sanidad had done this about a decade back, when inmates were escorted out to cast their votes.

Beyond “Earth Hour”, the prisoners will mark “Earth Day” this April.. They had Noelle, Sanidad’s youngest child, as guest of honor on ”World Environment day” last year. She called them models in segregating and recycling trash into works of art or bags and ornaments.

“Kailagan din kaming tumulong sa kalinisan at sa laban sa global warming,” kagawad Paul said. “Mahirap na, dahil baka uminit masyado ang mundo at ilipat ang city jail sa buwan.”

Tonight, they’re looking forward to again having Beneco witness their energy-saving effort and later to supporting the second issue of “The Insider”, perhaps the first-ever prisoners’ in-house newsletter in the country and the world.

So see you in jail tonight, before the blackout. As in last year, warden Pawid, and the inmates themselves assure they will still be there when the lights are switched back on after 180 minutes.


DENR on its feet in Fire Prevention Month?

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- This is for RED Clarence Baguilat and his men.

Last week, the Barot Binay-an Clan Ancestral Land, Inc. called for a press conference and reported to the media about their land dispute problem where parties at the opposite end involved none other than their cousin and co-heir.

However, that is not the story that I wish to point out. What is more alarming than the personal problem of the Binay-an clan was the report that a forest fire inside their ancestral land claim occurred sometime around the first week of the Fire Prevention Month, or somewhere around March 7.

According to the Counter Intelligence Service Group (CISG), the SEC-registered NGO that accompanied the Binay-an clan president to check on the origin of the forest fire, they saw around five adult Pine Trees that were felled and that there were signs of earth-moving activities, apparently in preparation for a subdivision.

The fact that the Kennon police station is within proximity of the forest fire and yet nothing was done is shocking. Neither were there any reports about sounds of motocross races in the area. What I mean is that there were no reports of sounds of chainsaws or tree cutting inside the land that is just lying on the opposite cliff of the Kennon police station.

In the press conference held at the Luisa’s Café, the official address of Chong Loi News Agency, members of the CISG claimed they were illegally arrested by the police and hauled to the station along Kennon at Camp 7 for questioning, instead of being assisted in their effort to find out the origin of the forest fire.

They said however that the station commander eventually apologized to their group and were released from police custody after he talked to an unknown person on the phone. This reminds me… are some policemen acting as PAGs or private armed group of someone in the vicinity, reason why no one knew about the forest fire, tree cutting and earth-moving?

While the land where the forest fire, tree cutting and earth-moving activities occurred is under dispute by opposing relatives, the environmental problems thereat are issues that should not be overshadowed by the personal conflict of the ancestral land owners.
I was also a victim of a similar situation, to the extent that our newspaper reports of environmental issues resulted to a libel case against us. I swallowed that all and simply answered the libel complaint.

I could have done otherwise by presenting evidence of erroneous assessment reports made by the DENR that apparently favored the libel complainant. But I did not want to because I valued more the ties between us news reporters and friends in the DENR who could have found themselves jobless now or in hot water if I did otherwise.

As an obedient soldier of the press, I willingly wrote a news report out of the DENR report, although I knew that there were intentional errors in it. Eventually, the libel case was dismissed.

No matter what, I still believe that the relationship between news reporters and the officials should be more professional and critical at the same time, aside from the brandy and pulutan that occasionally come in between the performance of their duties.

Newsmen should have the guts to come up with positive criticism, while officials should look at these criticisms as motivations and encouragement to do better. What I have noticed is that the more writers become unwitting propagandists of an agency and the more they make the agency look good to the public, the more they are rewarded.

Those who write bad news although these are the truth are nothing more than ordinary newsmen.
Still on the first week of Fire Prevention Month, I noticed that the forest right above the Chinese Bell Church at Km.3, La Trinidad has been burned twice this year – once in February and on the first week of March.

Also on the last week of February, the hill right above Sitio Mamaga, just across and above the Balili River at Km.3 was burned. I know this for a fact because our old house at New Lucban is on a vantage point where one can see these mountains everytime they shine like gold in the night, due to unstoppable fires.

These hills or mountains can become very accessible, if the DENR spends a little of its funds for opening trails for fire trucks. I am sure the DENR officials in the Cordillera have better ideas.

By the way, I do remember that the last tree planting activity on the forest above the Chinese Bell Church towards lower Ambiong was conducted by members of the Baguio Arts Guild and Baguio Musicians Guild in April, three months before the 1990 earthquake.
The Pine Trees that were gutted by fires this month were the Pine Tree seedlings that we planted 20 years ago.
Two weeks ago, I learned from some members of the Kesbeng-Gayasi Neighborhood Association that the developer of the Cordillera Homeowners Cooperative-Saint Francis Subdivision located atop the Benguet Capitol has violated their verbal agreement.

In a letter, the Kesbeng group said the subdivision developer has been dumping soil towards Sitios Gayasi and Kesbeng, even as their existing road becomes so muddy when the rains come.

Because of their fear of unseen danger to their lives and properties, they ask that the developers of Saint Francis Subd. show their drain plan for approval by the surrounding house owners and that mitigating measures must be implemented before any bulldozing activity is done on top of the mountain.

In as much as subdivision matters are now within the ambit of the LGUs concerned, I asked them to visit DENR-EMB Director Pepito Moreno, considering that environmental problems are best addressed by technical men.

In fact they should find out from Dir. Moreno if the developers have secured the necessary papers and have paid the right dues.
EMB National Director Horacio Cosalan Ramos has now assumed as the first Ilocano-Ibaloi DENR secretary. Probably, he assumes the office as the first career official to be appointed DENR secretary, as all previous secretaries were political appointees.

He was the first RED of DENR Cordillera that was established in 1987. As such, he expects his men in the Cordillera region to help him attain the objectives of the office especially during his watch.

I do hope that Sec. Ramos’ men in the Cordillera, whether they are his relatives, in-laws, close associates or whatever, will lead other regions in achieving the agency’s goals. They must be careful not to put him down.

But Forester Manny Pogeyed, PENRO of Mt. Province, said it better during the salo-salo at Sec. Ramos’ house:

“Kasatnu kan nga agrelax nu ti boss tadta ket sigud nga kadwam ditoy Cordillera? Double-time ketdin ti trabaho.” (How can one relax now that the boss is one of us? Instead, work has become double-time). –


Revisiting Daga Apayao

Ramon Pacyaya Doyayag

My determination to be a soldier of the soil and my eagerness to step on our target propelled me to walk under the heat of a summer sun towards the jungles of Apayao.

Being then the end of the Baguio-Kalinga road via Bontoc, it was the starting point of a memorable two-day single file march. We were a squad of two females and six males armed with newly received high school diplomas. These documents were our passports to a contact person, chieftain Bakidan Mamba. It was March 1958. As of this moment, it was more than 52 years ago.

Daga, Apayao was our destination. We were to plow, plant and produce anything for man’s survival. But rice was the first and foremost in our menu. Truly, our sole mission was food production. We were to be aided by the Monday Club of Baguio in collaboration with the Mountain National Agricultural School (now Benguet State University) our alma mater.

As programmed. we were to be given for free five hectares each by the Philippine Government to independently toil after the area will have been surveyed and subdivided by a surveyor. But as per decision and declaration of Ama Mamba who softly and seriously said… “bingayen tayon annak ko, daga tayo daytoy, siak ti mang-ibingay kada kayo”, we readily approved it over a jar of “basi”. True to his words, we started doing the job of a surveyor with ropes and jungle bolos.

Sir Mamba was fully aware of how a hectare is, so we cleared, measured and staked our way in a greenery of varied heights and sizes. It was unanimously agreed that the lots will be numbered
and the “draw-lot” system will tell which each of us will call “this land is mine”.

The two young and beautiful girls, who were not spared of the staking activity experienced not seeing the sun on the days when we entered the underbrush of the forest. As we worked on, we realized that the proposed settlement was of rolling hills with creeks (yes, not rivers) aplenty of fishes, crabs and edible frogs. It was a habitat of different wild animals, the delicious winged rats included. Thus, it was “go to where the flavor is” whenever our hungry stomachs called for lunch.

Pending the arrival of the supplies from our benefactors, we stayed with our hospitable host, the village chief and his wife who welcomed us with… “dakayon ah ti annak mi”. they were childless and were in their senior years. They had a number of granaries with “ground floors” which we used as a sleeping quarters. Their house served as general headquarters and mess hall. Ina Mamba, who refused not to do kitchen chores, was the daily chef helped by her instant children – we, the settlers under initiation.

It was an adventure and there was joy to live in the couples’ fertile farm of wide upland ricefields and of different fruit trees. But regretfully, I didn’t wait to receive my share of the supposed bounty. Barely a month from day one, I extended my resignation handshake to my seemingly unbelieving comrades. With dried monkey meat in my backpack I walked back to Tabuk accompanied by Ama Mamba.

I was afraid of the various and enormous trees. I bowed and surrendered to them. Truthfully, they were too big and tall for my four feet eleven inches height. I was physically healthy but rather small to turn the jungle into a farm. Lord God, I thank Thee for my size and Thy guidance in the realization of my past career which is the source of my subsistence and my one and only wife for 50 years as of this writing.

Through this newspaper it would be good news to hear a voice/voices from that wilderness decades ago. To my comrades, ay WADA KAYO’S SA?


Burmese migrant schools increasing

Gina P. Dizon

THAILAND -- There is more than enough reason for Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo venting his concern over democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention and exclusion from Burma’s upcoming 2010 elections.

It’s not only the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who is unreasonably punished by the Burmese junta. Continued persecution from the Burmese junta must have meant more Burmese fleeing to adjoining Thailand-Burma border along Tak province to feel secure.

Harsh conditions in Burma must have meant the increase of migrant schools at the Thai-Burma border in Tak province aside from schools established in refugee camps.

There are now 61 officially listed migrant learning centers (MLCs) with nearly 11,000 migrant students enrolled from 1999 to 2009, records from the Migrant Educational Coordination Centre- Tak Education Service Area 2 reveals.

Based on a baseline publication produced by MECC-Tak ESA 2 with the support of Health Education and Literacy Project (HELP), a significant increase of migrant schools was noted from 2003 till 2009. A sudden increase of 39 MLCs was noted in 2000 till it reached 62 MLCs in year 2009. A sharp increase of enrollment was noted in year 2002 with nearly 2000 pupils having steadily increased through the years till it reached the current 10,833 students.

Of the total 61 migrant schools in Tak province, 46 are located in Maesot with 8,444 students; 11 in Phoprah with 2,033 students; and 3 in Mae Ramat with 299 pupils. About 82% of the MLCS are supported by umbrella organizations including Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC), Help without Frontiers (HWF) and Good Friends Centre (GFC).

For the 61 officially listed migrant learning centres, 46 are found in Maesot, 11 in Pho Prah, 3 in Mae Ramat, and one in Tha Song Yang.

It is interesting to note that Burmans and the ethnic Karens registered the highest number of students which steadily increased from 1999 to 2009. The other ethnic peoples- Mons, Kachins, Arakans - remain to be consistent in their enrollment with a slight increase among the Arakans numbering around 800. Karens and Burmans have nearly the same students each numbering around 4,000.

A survey of the 61 migrant schools was made possible by the efforts of Dr Alicia Manondog, Voluntary Service Overseas-Thailand/Burma (VSO) Volunteer from Philippines who served as Liaison Officer of MECC-Tak Education Service Area 2 from 2008 to early 2010.

Through Dr Manondog’s support, the migrant schools’ management staff and teachers were afforded management-based trainings.

The MECC- ESA was established in May 2008 to link activities related to migrant education in furtherance to Cabinet Resolution 5 which provides Education for All (EFA). This further gained legislation in 2009 with another draft resolution providing guidelines to provide equal access to education for all children in Thailand regardless of status, ethnicity or gender.

MECC provides capacity building support to administration and staff of MLCs who in most cases are under- skilled.

Based from the survey, only 34% of the MLC teachers have Bachelor’s degrees, while a third are high school graduates. Sixty two percent (62%) of the Burmese teachers lack appropriate degrees in education.

With MOE-MECC’s program on inclusion of migrant schools within the Thai educational curriculum, migrant school students are accepted in mainstream Thai schools. Migrant schools are also encouraged to change status from informal learning centers to private schools thus leading to the accreditation of children’s’ attendance in MLCs to higher levels of learning. To qualify under MOE’s accreditation program for MLCs, management staff and teachers possess certain requirements, one of which is possession of Bachelor’s degrees among the teachers and management skills among those in-charge.

Trainings on management and school administration was given for MLC heads and teachers by MECC-ESAU –Tak . With the support of VSO Volunteer Manondog, lesson plans and teaching materials were produced and funded by Heart for Asia and distributed to MLCS during re-echo trainings.

Teaching of the Thai language is also provided to Burmese teachers including advocacy on children’s rights.


Double standard justice /An ancestral land tiff

Rudy Garcia

BAGUIO CITY -- A source recently called my attention regarding the operation of Casa Vallejo Hotel just below SM. Baguio. Accordingly, this hotel which is controversial because of its rumored sale and transfer to a private entity is now in full business operation without any business permit.

If this is indeed true, then I wonder how this hotel operates with impunity unlike that small establishment beside it that is reportedly the subject of harassment by some city officials.

The source told this writer that the operator of this small store beside Casa Vallejo could not renew her business permit because city officials accordingly could not issue the same because it is located within the road right of way, which it is a lot of bullshit.

How can these city officials say it is within the road right of way when Casa Vallejo is also similarly in the same situation? Is this what they call double standard form of justice? If the permits and licensing division causes the closure of this small establishment because there is no permit then, they should also do the same to Casa Vallejo, hotel and if they cannot, then… shame on them!
After receiving complaints about those vendors who openly ply their trades at Igorot Garden Park just across the road from Sunshine grocery and Venis Hotel, me and my bubwit went personally to survey the area and found out that vendors occupy almost half of the park with their vegetable goods.

I immediately called the attention of the public order and safety division, POSD in their office which acted immediately. Well, I would again raise my two hands to salute the POSD men for acting swiftly on this matter.

But, If I am correct that Igorot garden park area is under the jurisdiction of punong barangay “Benjie Pinlac of AZCKO, I wonder why he tolerates such to happen, or maybe he gave them his blessings for humanitarian or perhaps other reasons we don’t know?

Speaking about the AZCKO barangay, a manager of a mini bus company in Otek St. complained to us that Pinlac seems to harass him and the bus company.

A certain “Nick” told to my bubwit that Pinlac required them to get barangay clearance. even their sweepers and toilet cleaners were required. He believes neighboring bus companies are not being required to get barangay clearance. He said some personnel of other bus companies told him.

“Pera pera lamang iyan sa barangay”

Pinlac accordingly, also got the megaphone they were using for calling their passengers after the first told them not to use the said megaphone because it was noisy.

They were even told by Pinlac that their buses cause obstruction but the truth according to him is not, and it’s the buses of other neighboring bus companies that are obstructing the road. Nick also claims collection of SOPs by the barangay.

There are more issues that the source is willing to expose these coming days. Meanwhile; I am calling the attention of my friend AZCKO punong barangay Benjie Pilac for him to give his side on this issue. I could accommodate some space of this column for him.
How true is it that the fire that happened at the mountainous land of Camp 8 and Camp 7 owned by the Binay-an clan near the vicinity of Loakan in Baguio City is intentional?

According to Salvador Binay-an of the Barot Binay-an ancestral land clan, the reported kaingin on their land was the handiwork of a person out to grab their property.

Funny, but when he got the service of independent investigation agency to probe the incident the investigators tasked to do were the ones instead investigated by the Baguio Police office station 8 headed by a certain Maj. Balake upon the order of Mr. Lumpias who is accordingly a former BIR official.

I don’t know if the incident is recorded on the Police Blotter or not, and it is a wonder how powerful this Mr. Lumpias that he was able to convince the entire BCPO station 8 to apprehend the independent investigators claiming that the latter are fake as in “bogus”.

For the readers to have a clear picture on the issue, we are writing this special edition from the start to finish.

I had a chance to meet Salvador Binayan sometime first week of March this year when he was introduced to me by my friend investigating the cases of the said heirs of Barot Binayan.

At first, I mistook him as one among those taking intelligence network course given by my friend and his group at their office located in Bayanihan Bldg., Otek St. but upon introduction and when heard his stories, I presumed that this old man needed help. This goes the story.

The Barot Binayan heirs trace their origin from their great grandfather Kidyad of 1600. Kidyad offspring Mang-os who is married to Tomay in 1700 and Barot. Binay-an married to Tong Koc Palispis in 1866-1937, eventually blessed with 6 children namely Kellet Dadjon, Cani Palque Doroan and Caoi Binay-an.

In 1960’s the father of Salvador Binay-an, the youngest of Barot Binay-an compiled all their documents, prepared a sketch paln of Barot Ancestral Lands and applied at the Bureau of Lands from 1960 up to 1980’s but said application was stopped due to issuance of a decree by the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos stopping all tittling of lands in the city of Baguio particularly on lands within reservation like Camp John Hay wherein the Barot lands application happens to be inside the said Camp reservation.

After the EDSA revolution in 1986, Corazon Aquino who became the president through People’s Power, revived the issue on ancestral claims. This when Congress abrogagated or ended the Philippine Treaty with the Americans. Caoi Binay-an pursued application for Barot ancestral lands.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, then under the office of the president formed a special task force solely for the purpose of processing ancestral lands and the ancestral lands claim of the Barot Binay-an heirs was among those given favorable recognition. (More on this)


Use condoms for goodness’ sake!

Grace Bandoy

I know I will get a beating from the Catholic Church with this column and from anti-condom people out there but hell, condoms should be worn during these modern ages.

Telling people to refrain from having sex is I truly believe hypocritical. How can we ask our teenagers not to commit pre-marital sex when they’re even better at sex than us! They know all the positions there are. They know new positions we adults are not aware of. They know all the names and terms – anything about sex.

No parent or teacher will ever claim they taught these to our young ones because sex is everywhere. Connotations of sex can be seen on TV every minute of the day -- on commercials of people kissing and of naked men and women.

Even in movies, music videos, radio, songs and print media. In fact, the need for sex education in school is worthless because today our ten-year-olds are already sex-educated. Baka tayo pa ang turuan nila tungkol sa sex!

I believe what we should drill in the minds of our young ones are the consequences of having sex, ikulit sa kanila! Tell your kids how truly difficult it is to have a child at a young age, in fact, to even have a child at all! The financial, emotional, physical and mental issues involved in bringing out a child into this world is the hardest thing and can be unbearable at times. And how else can we control the unstoppable overpopulation going on in our country na siyang lalong nagbabaon sa atin sa hirap?

Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are acquired unless the boy and girl are virgins, parents shouldn’t be really worried about this but it is actually the most relevant thing all of us should know. I believe there are a lot of people out there who are with HIV and they are not aware of it.

There should be a law demanding 18-year-old and above citizens of our country to undergo HIV testing so we can stop the rapid spread of this incurable disease. People should be responsible. If we are not aware we have HIV, dinadamay natin ang mga mahal natin sa buhay in the process, hinahawaan mo sila and subjecting all the members of your family and those close to you into suffering and dying from the disease.

Go have an HIV test now people! Whether or not you engaged in unprotected sex sometime in your life, malay niyo yung asawa or partner ninyo ang nagloko di ba? Before makahawa pa kayo ng ibang tao, undergo testing and if you are Negative of it, then protect yourself from that day forward. Walang mawawala sa inyo and you can only benefit.

It is alarming the surge of HIV cases in the country and in this city and the most sensible thing we can do about it is to make sure we don’t have it and protect ourselves. Not by having sex as the church suggests (because I know a lot of you out there cannot live without sex) but by using condoms when you engage in any sexual activity with people whom you’re not sure are Negative of HIV. We cannot be 100 percent sure our wives or husbands or partners don’t have HIV! Kayo ba sure na sure kayo?

The church telling people to use the natural method in family planning is okay but it really doesn’t apply to our modern times now. Because ang mga tao ngayon matitigas ang ulo, sarili nila ang sinusunod nila. Especially on the matter of their sexual life! How can you order someone when and when not to have sex!! That’s preposterous! No way, walang makiking sa ‘yo.

If the Catholic Church is right about this and people listen to them, how can they explain the unwarranted population explosion we have especially among the indigent members of our society who bear 10-12 kids and cannot even feed them?

There’s this stupid joke that the poor peoples’ pasttime is having sex, crazy but it’s true and we have all the facts to prove it. And the Catholic Church telling them to use the natural method is hahaha. The Dept. Of Health showing them how to use the condom is the answer, ligating the women or explaining the use of contraceptive pills. Those will work. I swear.

Sex is a natural part of life. It is inherent in all of us the need to have sex, especially among men. Women can stay virgins forever but no man can live without ejaculating. That’s how we humans are designed.

How else do you explain my nine-year-old nephew who told his mom that his penis is standing up upon watching the commercial of Close-up showing two people mouth-kissing?! Sex is a physiological need amongst men. And among some women today too.

The natural way of not having a child and not acquiring STD’s and AIDS doesn’t apply to the people of this 20th century anymore, it is a sad fact we have to accept. And this doesn’t mean we are bad, ungodly, uncaring, selfish people, but it is how we live now. We should be realistic about this and not try to be saints about it. There are things in life we have to conform to. Ito yung isang bagay na kailangan natin tanggapin. And do the practical, realistic, reasonable thing to solve it. Support the Department of Health in their battle!

Corruption, the destruction of our environment – these are things the Church can do something to solve and not meddle in peoples’ sex lives…. Peace!


Burden in raising a child

Jhunie B. Wahayna

When a couple measures the price of childbirth by the cost of milk powder, diapers and school fees and sees this as "slavery," something must be wrong. To have a child and bring him or her up is never an economic issue. To see childbirth as hard labor and connect it with housing and car mortgage loans represent an erroneous attitude toward life. It is necessary to calculate the cost of raising a child, but it is unwise to complain about the cost of it and about high living expenses.

Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the activity of raising a child rather than the biological relationship.

The cost of raising a child is becoming greater and greater. But economic pressure is not the only reason that makes young parents "child's slaves." Their efforts to compete with each other in trying to provide the best possible living conditions for their children should also be blamed.

In order that their offspring do not lose at the starting line, young couples never hesitate to spend money on their children. Businessman know well that young couples only buy the most expensive things for their children but do not care about if what they buy suits their children. Therefore infant and child commodities become increasingly expensive.

To bring up children is not an easy job for parents. No matter how time changes, it is important to keep one's expenses within the capacity to pay. We know the hardship young couples experience, but it is unnecessary to exaggerate the difficulties facing them. While the emergence of "mortgage slaves" stirs up the concern in the whole of society about mounting housing prices, sensationalizing the pains of "child's slaves" is only amplifying young parents' anxiety.

Children do not come into this world as consuming machines. When parents slip into economic pitfalls because of their own vain mentality and urge to compete in providing abundance, it is unfair to blame their hard lives on their children. It is better to put a stop to unreasonable expenses for children than to feel worried about becoming "child's slaves"

In recent years, parents have taken it for granted that to bring up a child is to offer them better living conditions than others. Since they do not have enough time to spend with children, they hope to compensate for it with expensive commodities. The parents believe money is able to satisfy their children spiritually and materially. Guided by this belief, high expenses for children become increasingly common and as a result, parents reduce themselves to the status of "child's slaves."

Parents should prepare themselves psychologically and physiologically for the arrival of children and, more importantly, they must develop a way of rational consumption.

Living costs, especially in cities, are becoming a huge pressure for many people. This is the price we have to pay for economic growth. Those who call themselves "child's slaves" are mostly young couples who have just begun an independent life. The huge gap between the rich and the poor and that between their expected success and present terrible state has prompted them to blame all problems and setbacks in life on unfairness and the inequality of society.

"Slaves" generally refer to the young people who received middle or higher education and are from low-income families. They belong to the middle class, but some of them have lost the confidence of being a member of the middle class. This is a problem the whole nation should take seriously, because without a stable middle class, it is difficult for a society to operate well.

Raising a child is never just as easy as buying several bags of milk powder to feed her or him. For example, when a child goes to school, the door of endless demands on money opens. In many western countries, a highly developed social welfare system helps parents raise their children more easily. But in the Philippines, parents have to pay almost all the bills by themselves.

Pressed by hard lives, many young couples find themselves unable to afford bringing up a child. Jobs, health care, education, housing, gas prices, and so on, plague them. "Child's slave," along with terms such as "mortgage slave," "credit card slave" and "car slave," vividly depict the extremely passive state of today's young people.

The smartest advice on raising children is to enjoy them while they are still on your side. Once they reach adulthood and get married, they now go on their own life.


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