Officials deny Bishop Cruz’s allegations: Jueteng lords defy P-Noy order, probe

>> Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BAGUIO CITY – Despite President Aquino’s order to stop jueteng and a Senate probe on the matter, operators of the illegal numbers game in Northern and Central Luzon still at it raking in money worth millions of pesos.

This, as politicians in the two areas mentioned by retired Bishop Oscar Cruz in the Senate as financiers or protectors of jueteng denied the former’s allegations.

Among those who denied allegations of the bishop were Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda , Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan and retired Philippine National Police intelligence chief Eugene Martin.

Gaming consultant Charlie “Ating” Ang, calling himself a legal gambling lord said he is into cockfighting and jai alai, which is legal in his area operation, the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port.

Cruz, in his Senate testimony said government officials particularly from the national and local governments are receiving payolas from jueteng operators as “protection money” so their operations would go on unhampered.

Those given payolas on a weekly, every 15 days or monthly basis reportedly include some line agency directors and elective officials like governors, mayors, city councilors and provincial board members.

According to Cruz, jueteng operations thrive since law enforcement agencies like the police allow operations of the illegal numbers game in exchange for monetary considerations.

The list of the big names revealed by Cruz allegedly involved in jueteng included: Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno retired Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, governors Lilia Pineda of Pampanga. Amado Espino of Pangasinan and Paul Dy of Isabela.

Others were Danny Soriano of Cagayan, retired Gen. Padilla of Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and San Pedro, Boy Jalandoni of Bacolod, a certain Eddie Fontanilla and Rey Cachuela

In Baguio, Domogan denied allegations of Cruz that he was inept, involved in corruption and a jueteng lord branding the bishop a liar .

Domogan said he was surprised and sad that he was included in Cruz’s list. “I do not gamble nor tolerate jueteng.” “Cruz should verify the information before going public.”

The mayor also claimed Cruz’s sources maybe politically motivated.

In a statement, Domogan said: “We welcome the conduct of an inquiry but we do not adhere to the fact that the inquiry is just being used by some quarters to ruin the reputation of the people who have tried their best to protect their names only to be tainted by scrupulous reports.

Domogan urged Cruz to substantiate his allegations, adding the retired bishop should have enough evidence and should file charges against those involved and not to use the same to advance the personal political interest of some quarters.

Meanwhile, Gen. Martin said, “Mayor Domogan and the officialdom of Baguio City are known anti-gambling advocates. Proof of this is the non existence of casinos or Small Town Lottery (STL) operations in the jurisdiction of the city. If I were an operator of jueteng in the city, they will be the first one to have denounced, condemned or castigated me and not somebody whose source of information is very dubious.”

Based on information reaching him even when he was in active service, Martin claimed the reason why Domogan’s name has been dragged into the purported list of gambling lords and jueteng protectors is that he never entertained or met with gambling operators because of his firm anti-gambling policy even when he was the city mayor from 1992 to 2001.

For his part, Martin disclosed that during his term as PNP intelligence chief, the PNP was able to file numerous cases against the Meridian, a gaming and amusement corporation allegedly owned by Charlie Atong Ang, one of the supposed sources of Cruz, for being an alleged front of illegal gambling.

According to Martin, the expose of Cruz against him and retired PNP chief Director-General Jesus A. Verzosa was the handy work of disgruntled gambling lords to get back at them for their relentless efforts to stop the illegal numbers game even to the extent of using Archbishop Cruz as their whistleblower to make it appear that such expose will be legitimate.

He urged his detractors to file charges against him before the proper forum and not use the Senate saying he was willing to answer such charges once these are filed in court.

Meridian has been applying to corner STL operations in various parts of Northern Luzon but the same was pinpointed as a front to justify the operation of illegal numbers game, particularly jueteng.

What surprised some sectors in the city is that well-known gambling lords in Northern Luzon were not included in the list of gambling lords and protectors of all forms of gambling when jueteng rampantly exists in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

In Lingayen, Pangasinan, Gov. Espino Jr., reacting to allegations of Cruz that he was involved in jueteng said, he had actually ordered the provincial police to crack down on jueteng.

He said, his directive came after President Aquino gave orders to PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo to stamp out the said illegal numbers game last week.

Espino directed Police Senior Supt. Rosueto Ricaforte, the new Pangasinan police director, to spare no one in the campaign, including local officials believed to be coddling gambling lords.

He urged Ricaforte to also mount a similar drive on all forms of illegal activities in the province.
The governor took a snide at allegations by his political detractors in the media that jueteng was driving the marginalized sectors of society to poverty.

In Pampanga, Gov. Pineda, who had been dubbed the “queen of jueteng” said if government should stop jueteng, then the government should find jobs for displaced workers.

Meanwhile, a close political ally of President Aquino in northern Luzon admitted last week their family was once behind the operations of jueteng in northern Cagayan province.

Former Cagayan third district Rep. Manuel Mamba claimed that except for Tuao town, their family’s hometown, the operations of illegal numbers game continued to persist almost throughout the province.

Mamba, the Liberal Party chairman of Cagayan, said their family used to be the operator of the illegal lottery in the province’s third district, particularly in their hometown from early 1980s to 1992.

However, since 1992, Mamba said that their family, who included Tuao town Mayor William Mamba, had totally cut any links to any form of illegal gambling.

A three-term congressman twice over, Mamba, who lost in the last gubernatorial race to incumbent Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio, said they were forced to operate jueteng within their political turf to block the entry of other operators from other areas.

Now a known anti-jueteng crusader, Mamba, one of the founding members of Archbishop Cruz’s Krusadang Ba yan Laban sa Jueteng, said that never during his last three congressional terms has jueteng set foot in his district, especially in their hometown.

But now that he is out as congressman, Mamba claimed that their hometown is the only jueteng-free area among the more than 20 Caga yan towns. – With reports from Charlie Lagasca, Dexter See, Kristynne Nalupa,George Trillo, Jennelyn Mondejar and Jerry Padilla


Cops defer case against hostage taker

By Mar T. Supnad

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur- The chief of police here said Thursday the man who held hostage a three-year old boy could have been mentally deranged even as police have still to file a case against him.

Supt. Marlo Castillo said they rescued the victim unharmed identified as Allen Calindas, a minor.

The suspect was identified as Dominador Millan, 42, a carpenter, both residents of this city’s Barangay Gabor.

A police report disclosed that at about 7 a.m. Sept. 18, the suspect called the victim (the son of one of his nephews) and offered the child a piece of rice cake.

Suddenly he abducted the boy and brought inside the comfort room of the house of one Jaime Galanta, another nephew.

Armed with a kitchen knife, the suspect locked himself and the boy inside the comfort room, sending relatives into panic.

Castillo said the responding policemen immediately cordoned off the area as they activated the Crisis Management Task Group.

A negotiation ensued between the hostage-taker and Castillo.

After peaceful negotiation, the hostage-taker was persuaded to open the door of the comfort room, which gave Castillo the chance to subdue and disarm the armed suspect.

Seized from the suspect were the kitchen knife and a hammer. He was brought to the city police station and will be charged for illegal detention.


Five militants die in Cagayan road mishap

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Five members of a militant group were killed while two others were critically injured when the van they were riding smashed onto the rear end of a 10-wheeler truck in Alcala, Cagayan before dawn Thursday.

Three of the five fatalities were identified as van driver Salvador Doniego, Benedicto de Leon and Ileen Robles, who all died on the spot when their Starex van struck the truck which was carrying cases of soft drinks.

Both the Starex van and the delivery truck were northbound when the accident happened along the national highway in Barangay Piggatan, Alcala town.

The two injured, identified as Randy Batobalanos and a certain Felipe, were still in critical condition at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City.

Gretchen Valdez, Isabela chapter head of the militant group Bayan, said some of the victims were members of Anakpawis, another militant group based in Manila.

Reports said the victims had come from Manila and were on their way to Gonzaga town, also in Cagayan, to attend a meeting with their local counterparts and other groups on the controversial black sand or magnetite mining reportedly taking place along Cagayan’s northern coast.

“They went there to validate the (findings) of a recent investigative work conducted by an environmentalist group on the ongoing mining in the area,” Valdez said.

Police said truck driver, Florentino Felipe gave himself up after the accident.


No work for teacher who hammered pupil's finger

POZORRUBIO, Pangasinan, Philippines – The Department of Education Region 1 office has implemented a 90-day preventive suspension without pay against a grade one teacher pending investigation about a complaint filed against her for allegedly hammering a finger of her pupil.

Tina Ganzon, DepEd’s director for communications, told newsmen the order was issued on Sept. 13 by Regional Director Ligaya Soledad Miguel against Zenaida Catbagan, Teacher III of Palguyod Elementary School here.

On Sept. 15, a formal charge for “grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service was filed by DepEd Region 1 after finding that there existed a prima facie case against Catbagan.

DepEd assigned Gloria Leoveras, public schools district supervisor-in-charge of Special Education in Pangasinan Division II, to conduct trauma briefing on Sean Carlo Fernandez and his parents.

Coordination will be made with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to ensure that proper care is given to the victim.

The complaint stemmed from a complaint filed by Fernandez’s parents after Catbagan allegedly hammered their son’s right ring fingernail around 4 p.m. on Aug. 25.

According to a report submitted by public schools district supervisor Gavino Bautista to Lino Rivera, undersecretary for regional operations, the incident was triggered by the pupil’s alleged repeated cases of stealing money and other things, including snacks from his classmates.

On Aug. 26, the school head conducted a dialogue with the parents of the victim and the victim’s mother asked that her child be transferred to another class within the school and for Catbagan to be transferred to another school within the district.


Briton silenced by pols in arms smuggling case?

ANGELES CITY – Police probers are looking into reports that British ship captain Bruce Anthony Jones could have been killed by henchmen of politicians to silence him as a witness in the smuggling of high-powered firearms off Bataan last year.

This, amid reports that guns found on the ship that Jones, 50, skippered but abandoned off Mariveles town, were for some politicians preparing for the elections last May.

Senior Supt. Danny Bautista, city police chief, said he is checking reports that Jones had become a state witness in the gun smuggling case.

Jones, who was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men here Tuesday, was the captain of the 2,400-ton Panama-registered MV Captain Ufuk, where authorities found 54 high-powered firearms.

Thirteen Georgian men and a South African on board the vessel were arrested.

The 54 Israeli-type Galil assault rifles, estimated worth P25 million, were to be unloaded at the Mariveles port.

While such assault rifles are usually made in Israel, those found on the ship were made in Indonesia.

The guns were concealed in four wooden crates kept in the cargo hold. A fifth crate yielded slings, magazines and bayonets.

There were also 15 empty wooden crates, prompting authorities to suspect that more firearms had already been unloaded before the search.

Documents showed the ship had come from Turkey and had brief stopovers in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Citing reports, Bautista said Jones was arrested in Olongapo City earlier this year for possession of illegal drugs, but subsequently got out on bail.

After Jones was ascertained to be the captain of the ship bearing the assault rifles, the Department of Justice reportedly made him a state witness in the gun smuggling case, he added.

Bautista said Basham’s wife, Maricel Aramas Jones, 25, together with a friend of the couple, whom he did not identify, confirmed death threats on her husband.

“She said suspicious men had been casing their house in Olongapo City lately,” Bautista said.

Jones’ wife was wounded in last Tuesday’s attack, but she is now in stable condition in a local hospital.

Bautista said Jones’ killing was not related to the fatal shooting of American James Basham, 63, who was attacked also by motorcycle-riding suspects as he was about to board his motorcycle at the Pampang public market here morning of Sept. 19.

Basham was a former policeman from Texas who was also married to a Filipina.

The triggerman in the Basham killing used a Cal. 45 pistol, while an improvised pistol or revolver with an Armalite bullet was used to kill Jones.


‘Nationalization’ of 5 major roads pushed

BONTOC, Mountain Province — Gov. Leonard Mayaen said Thursday he was supporting the proposal before the House of Representatives for the conversion of five provincial roads into national roads saying this will hasten development of this province.

These include provincial roads Mountain Province-Ifugao road via Natonin and Aguinaldo towns and Mountain Province-Isabela roads, the Mountain province-Benguet road via Guinsadan-Mankayan road and the Mabaay-Abatan road as well as the Dantay-Sagada-Besao-Quirino-Ilocos Sur road.

Mayaen said once appropriate national funding for the rehabilitation and maintenance of these roads are made available, trade will be easier for this province’s farm products. -- Dexter A. See


22 survive bus crash in Kiangan, Ifugao

KIANGAN, Ifugao — Twenty-two passengers of a Baguio-bound bus survived with minor injuries when the vehicle fell 20 meters down a ravine here in Barangay Huccab on Sept. 19.

Eight of the passengers of a KMS bus unit that came from Kiangan were confined in nearby government hospitals.

The rest were treated for minor injuries and sent home.

Investigators said their initial findings point to a failure in the brakes as cause of the accident. -- Dexter A. See


Eleven die of dengue in Cordi; cases now 3,131

BAGUIO CITY – Dengue cases in the Cordillera have risen to 3,131 from January to June alarming Health officials.

Ifugao topped the number of cases with 728; Baguio with 705, Benguet with 562, Mountain Province with 473, Kalinga with 413, Apayao with 145 and Abra with 105.

There were 11 fatalities from the region with Abra, three deaths, having the highest number due to the mosquito-carried disease. It is followed by Benguet, Baguio, and Mountain Province with two deaths each.

Despite this, the Department of Health refused last week to declare either an epidemic or a state of calamity because some provinces have already seen a drop in the number of dengue cases, said Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the National Epidemiology Center.

He added an epidemic can only be declared if the following conditions are met:

People who have fallen ill from dengue can no longer be treated at home because of the virulent nature of the disease.

A high number of deaths occur due to the disease.

Hospitals can no longer accommodate patients seeking treatment.

Nationwide, a total of 77,012 dengue cases, including 543 deaths, have been recorded from January 1 to September 4 this year. -- Kristynne Nalupa


Bright prospects seen for Philippine mining

TUBA, Benguet – The management of Philex Mining Corp. here cited said there are still bright prospects for the country’s lucrative mineral industry even with the prevalence of variable world metal prices over the past several years.

Jose Ernesto C. Villaluna Jr., president and chief operating officer of Philex Mining Corporation, said extension of the life of the mine in Padcal here from 2014 to 2017 is a clear indication of the better state of the mineral industry even if the grid will gradually decline in the coming years.

In 2009, Philex benefitted from the rise in metal prices from the lows seen in the previous year. During the year, world market prices per ounce averaged $974, reaching a high of $1,214 in December last year, up from the 2008 average of $872 where the lowest level of $703 was registered in October 2008.

Villaluna also reported that copper market price per pound also rallied towards the latter part of last year, reaching a high of $3.33 in December 2009 from the low of $1.26 a year ago, although averaging lower at $2.34 for the y


Legalization of ukay-ukay trade pushed

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The city government here is backing the proposal of the Bureau of Customs to legalize entry of ukay-ukay (used clothes) goods in the country provided measures must be done to ensure the clothes are safe for the public.

Domogan said it is high time for the national and local governments to regulate entry of ukay-ukay goods to help generate additional revenue for the country’s coffers as well as allow people in the countryside to be able to buy cheap but quality clothes which are of international names.

Baguio City is known as center of ukay-ukay or wag-wag goods which are being shipped by various domestic helpers and businessmen from Hong Kong and other parts of the Southeast Asian region.

In legalizing the lucrative trade, Domogan said the BOC must make sure that stringent measures must be adopted to make sure that the clothes being shipped into the country are safe from diseases so that our countrymen will be spared from whatever diseases that might have contaminated the clothes.

After flourishing in this mountain resort city, the ukay-ukay business was introduced by Cordillerans in different urban centers in the country.

Despite the ban on the entry of ready to wear clothes from other parts of the global village due to alleged health risks, numerous container vans containing boxes of such goods are usually being sneaked out of ports in the country to sustain the abundant supply of clothes where people could select from.

Domogan said the trade has provided additional sources of livelihood for most Cordillerans as well as opened the opportunity for additional employment to numerous jobless individuals considering that it is constantly being patronized by local residents and visitors.

The local chief executive cited the legalization of the trade will also help in curbing corruption among officials and employees of the bureau of Customs so that the income to be generated will enter the country’s coffers and eventually be used to implement more projects as well as improve the delivery of basic services to the people, especially in the countryside.

He narrated that his foreign friends have appreciated the lucrative ukay-ukay trade has allowed people to be able to buy and wear clothes with reputable markings which is a good sign of a healthy business environment in the city.

For the past two decades, trade has been a decent source of income for enterprising individuals coming from different parts of Northern Luzon because the boxes of clothes are sold at a cheap rate with quality clothes loaded in it.

The city government had issued business permits to individuals involved in the trade over the past several years since it rapidly grew and flourished in the city’s central business district area.


170 Arayat families living in danger zone

By George Trillo

ARAYAT, Pampanga — Gov. Lilia Pineda has ordered provincial and municipal officials to find ways on how to relocate 170 families living at the foot of Mt. Arayat, which is a landslide-prone area.

“We need to act early. We cannot just gamble the lives of our Cabalens,” Pineda said during a meeting with officials she tasked with studying the relocation.

Earlier, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Luzon released a geo-hazard report that identified Purok 6 and 7 of Barangay San Juan Bano here as “a danger zone” and the 170 families living there as “residents living in imminent danger.”

Pineda led an ocular inspection in the said villages over the weekend to seek possible ways to contain the erosion and other causes of wearing down of soil of Mt. Arayat.

She was with Vice Governor Yeng Guaio, other provincial officials, ranking officers of DENR, and other concerned groups.

The lady governor also spearheaded the tree-planting program of the provincial government.

The team has planted about 10,000 mahogany trees in a bid to “strengthen” the foot of Mt. Arayat.

She said she was shocked to hear from the DENR that families residing in San Juan Bano should be relocated from the said area to “escape death” as soon as possible.

“I can’t believe that the problem is as serious as this. We need to relocate our people before any untoward incident would happen,” Pineda said.

Pineda said that relocation is now a priority, adding that a new site would be sought as temporary shelter of the affected families.

Arayat Mayor Chito Espino, said the municipal government has already found a relocation area for the said families.

Espino said the relocation area is located in Barangay San Juan Bano, but he stressed that it is “far from the danger zone.”

Earlier, DPWH also reported that the whole province of Pampanga is in danger of being transformed into a “big flooded zone” if its first line of defense against flood will continue to collapse due to strong water current from Pampanga River and neighboring provinces, a high ranking official from the Department of Public Works and Highway disclosed last week.

Engineer Philip Meñez, director of Major Flood Control and Drainage Projects of the DPWH said the situation of the Arnedo Dike, the first line of defense of the province from waters coming from Nueva Ecija and other high lands, is very critical and needs an urgent action to spare the whole province of Pampanga from being flooded.


P70 M needed to finish Trinidad trash facility

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – At least P70 million is needed by the municipal government make its dump facility operational by the end of this year so that it will abandon its open dump facility the soonest.

Mayor Gregorio Abalos, Jr. said one major concern being addressed by his administration is to solve the solid waste problem through the purchase of new units of equipment that will be used to start the controlled dumpsite.

The town’s landfill facility had been slowly constructed with funding assistance from foreign and domestic agencies over the past ten years so the municipality would comply with the provisions of Republic Act 9003 known as Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

According to Abalos, the local government is adapting a multi-dimensional approach to curb this capital town’s solid waste problem so that they will be able to address the biodegradable and recyclable wastes while residuals are the ones to be dumped in the controlled dump facility once it will be operational.

The town’s controlled dump facility and sanitary landfill will be located in barangay Alno, one of the remotest barangays while its open dumpsite which is currently being utilized is based in sitio Buyagan, Poblacion, a thickly populated place.

Last Tuesday, concerned residents in Buyagan padlocked the open dumpsite which is being temporarily used as an open dumpsite while works are underway for the completion of the controlled dumpsite.

However, the immediate intervention of local officials led by Abalos thwarted what could have been a garbage crisis in the town once the private owners of the property refused to heed their call as they committed that the open dumpsite will only be utilized until the end of this year.

By this time, the municipal government already spent over P80 million to put up the facility while another P70 million is required to purchase the needed units of equipment to make the facility in full operation in order to cater to the increasing solid waste because of rapid in-migration.

Abalos admitted the 10-year lifespan of the controlled dump facility is too short, thus, the local government will continue to explore other measures to help extend the facility’s existence so that the town’s solid waste will be properly addressed.

Aside from pursuing the completion of the project, the mayor disclosed the municipality is also interested in purchasing a Japanese composting equipment similar to the one used in Malabon city and being eyed by the Baguio City government so that the 30 tons of vegetable trimmings produced daily at the La Trinidad vegetable trading post will be converted into compost fertilizer which will in turn be sold to farmers as part of the return of investment for the equipment.

Because of insufficient funds of the first-class town, the municipality is trying to work out the financing of the composting equipment so there will be significant gains in the town’s solid waste program which has been characterized as successful compared to other urban centers nationwide.


P87 million projects in Baguio completed

BAGUIO CITY – Five major infrastructure projects in this city amounting to P87 million were completed and inaugurated by local and public works officials to improve smooth travel of motorists along national roads.

The projects that were completed and opened to vehicular traffic were the P10 million repair of a portion of Marcos highway; P35 million repair and upgrading of a portion of Kennon road including the improvement of its drainage system; P10 million repair of the Outlook Drive road; rehabilitation of Magsaysay Avenue leading to La Trinidad, Benguet worth P13 million and the construction of a slope protection wall and improvement of the pavement along Buhagan road, formerly Bokawkan road.

Ireneo Gallato, district engineer of the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways, said the five projects were completed way ahead of their programmed three to six months completion because of the favorable weather condition the past several months.

According to him, the road improvement and slope protection wall projects will allow motorists to have a convenient travel along mayor roads in the city because of widened road sections and better pavements compared to their previous condition.

The funds for the five major road projects in the city were part of the agency’s regular infrastructure fund for this year through the initiative of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan when he was the city\s congressional representative.

While there were inconveniences to the motoring public during the simultaneous implementation of the said projects, Gallato claimed the public will now experience convenience in their travel around the city for a longer duration. – Dexter A. See


Folks hit stench from huge piggeries, poultry farms

ANGELES CITY– Amid reports of schoolchildren getting sick from the stench from huge piggeries and poultry farms in neighboring Porac town, city residents, including grandmothers and their grandchildren, joined religious and environmental groups in a eight-kilometer march Wednesday to protest the air pollution that has been pestering them for 20 years.

San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Virgilio Pablo David, addressing Porac officials during a rally in front of the Porac town hall, warned of a class suit not only against 15 piggery and poultry farm owners, but also against Porac Mayor Conradlito de la Cruz and other local officials should they fail to act on the problem.

The rallyists, numbering over a thousand, carried 12 small coffins that they later lined up in front of the Porac municipal hall to symbolize the health hazards posed by the air pollution on future generations.

The Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement, an umbrella organization representing environmental and other groups in Pampanga, reported the resurgence of illnesses among school children in several barangays in Angeles and Porac and blamed the piggeries for this.

“Students complain of dizziness, stomachache, and vomiting. This has always been the case for many, many years now,” PGKM chairman Ruperto Cruz said.

In a statement, the PGKM attributed the deaths of one Godofredo Agapito and his wife, who was not identified, to pollution-related asthma complications.

The PGKM demanded the resignation of Environmental Management Bureau director Lormelyn Claudio and her staff for their alleged failure to act on the pollution issue for the past several years.

Claudio arrived later at the rally and vowed to act on the residents’ complaints within two weeks. She, however, said most of the piggeries and poultry farms have already complied with anti-pollution requirements.

She reported though that six piggeries have been issued notices of violations of environmental laws and told to immediately comply with anti-pollution requirements.

Claudio said while the problem on the stench was “not in the mandate” of her office, her team conducted last Monday an “ammonia and hydrogen sulfide test” at the piggeries and poultry farms to determine if the stench emanating from them was within government standards.

“It’s a test usually done only for heavy industries, but we did it here,” Claudio said.

If the test reveals adverse results, she said the issue would be brought to the attention of Porac officials for their action.


Dads want CJH building permits issued by city govt

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city is questioning the practice of the John Hay Management Corp. in securing building permits from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority instead of the city government as stipulated in city council resolution No. 362-94 which mandates Bases Conversion Development Authority to secure building and other permits from city building officials for the constructions of vertical structures within the John Hay Sepcial Economic Zone.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the issue needs to be cleared with PEZA as the practice came about when a previous city administration summarily refused to grant applications for building permit within the zone prompting the John Hay management to seek relief with PEZA.

The city government will thresh out with the PEZA the issue on building permit requirement on new constructions within the JHSEZ.

Domogan set a meeting with PEZA department manager for operations officer-in-charge Modesto Agyao on Monday at the mayor’s office which will also be attended by city building and architecture officer Oscar Flores to clarify the and city treasurer Thelma Manaois.

The city council recently approved Resolution No. 167 series of 2010 prompting Flores to assert his authority to enforce the building permit requirement on new constructions within the JHSEZ.

The body adopted the opinion of acting city legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes that JHMC’s practice of securing building permit from PEZA violates Resolution No. 362-94.

Rabanes said PEZA does not have legal basis to be issuing building permits on constructions within the JHSEZ as it does not govern it.

“The governing body of JHSEZ is the BCDA in consultation and coordination with the City Government of Baguio. The only authority of PEZA over the JHSEZ is merely for the purpose of administering the tax and duty incentives as provided for under Republic Act No. 7916,” he said.

“The CBAO should not allow PEZA to usurp the power to enforce the provisions of Presidential Decree 1096 and other related laws on constructions within the JHSEZ. Refusal of any individual or entity within the JHSEZ to comply with the directives of the CBAO pertaining to constructions within the JHSEZ should be sanctioned pursuant to the provisions of PD 1096 and allied laws rules and regulations on the matter,” Rabanes said.


Ibanag namesfor city streets

By Thelma C. Bicarme

TUGUEGARAO CITY-- To showcase the culture of the Ibanag people, the Regional Development Council has approved the endorsement of the Regional Government Center management committee for the use of the Ibanag dialect to name nine streets in the RGC.

The Ibanag dialect has been chosen being the dialect of Tuguegarao City, the host locality.

In RDC resolution number 2-31-2010, it stated names of the nine streets in the RGC will be preceded by the Ibanag term for road which is "dalan."

The nine roads are as follows: Dalan na Pagayaya, Dalan na Pavvurulun, Dalan na Pappabalo, Dalan na Paccorofun, Dalan na Angicacua, Dalan na Imammo, Dalan na Marayao, Dalan na Malappo and Dalan na Matunung.

The offices located at Dalan na Pagayaya are DepEd, CVMC, DSWD, CVHPP, NTC, Sports Complex, CDA, GSIS, BSP, HDMF, BIR, LBP, DA (BAS), DENR-LMB, DA-NMIS, DENR-FMB, DFA, DENR-MGB, SSS and CEZA.

Dalan na Pavvurulun housed the following offices: NEDA, DOT, DBM, DAR, DPWH, BFP, LTFRB, PhilHealth, TelOF, TWD, OWWA and Napolcom.


Dalan na Paccorofun- DOST, PCIC, NTA, LTO, NCIP, HGC, and DOH;

Dalan na Angicacua- DBP, DA-BFAR, NICA, POPCOM, and NCMB;

Dalan na Marayao-PPC, NBI, PJMP, PVAO, BOC and BOT;

Dalan na Imammo-COA,CHED and DILG; and

Dalan na Malappo-Convention Center.

The copies of the said resolution have been circulated to the concerned agencies for their information and proper action.


US couple finds peace in Sagada, shares talents

SAGADA, Mountain Province – An American couple has found peace and quiet in rustic and cool Bangaan here, saying they may settle in the barangay for good.

“The numerous pine trees and pine scented fresh air encouraged us to live in here. It is like Alabama, USA, our hometown,” said Lester Stewart.

Because they have no children to look after, they learned to love the elementary pupils as their kids so they set up a children’s library through donations from friends abroad. They are also procuring books for adults.

Terry is now a voluntary English teacher at the Banga-an Elementary School.

Lester was a former US army but retired due to a hearing problem. Both husband and wife had also been teachers in Taiwan and Thailand before they set foot in this famous tourist town.

Lester said that sometime in 2005, he and his wife wanted to live in Banaue town in Ifugao where the 8th wonder of the world was located.

Despite the rice terraces and other tourist attractions, they said they place did not meet their criteria so they traveled further west to Sagada (around five hours ride by land from Banaue) and met retired Anglican priest Moreno Tuguinay and his wife Julie who recommended they settle in the northern part of Sagada.

The little place, according to Lester, is the best place because it is like their home place Alabama with lots of pine trees, friendly and hospitable and the usual music they hear are country songs. -- Francis B. Degay


Solon wants review of govt policy on tourism

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara here urged President Aquino and the members of his Cabinet to review new guidelines on funding priorities given for tourism projects in the countryside.

While the government will give priority to funding tourism projects nationwide, Vergara, a senior member of the House committee on tourism, said it had become a last priority for the Aquino administration to provide funding for tourism-related activities.

Stringent guidelines for release of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), he said, allows the utilization of their annual initiatives for hard infrastructure, education and tourism.

Vergara said he could not understand why least priority is given to tourism-related activities when tourism is one of the priorities of the Aquino administration.

Because of tourism, Vergara said economic activities translate to increased employment opportunities and sources of livelihood.

Vergara said Northern Luzon has not also been given priority consideration by the Aquino administration since most huge projects are concentrated in Southern Philippines, thus, the need for the tourism department to study their priorities.

Northern Luzon, Vergara said, is one of the country’s potential ecotourism sites that must be fully supported to perk up economic development in the countryside but it seems it is receiving a smaller slice of the pie from the administration.

Vergara, former general manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority during the Marcos administration said support must be given to tourism infrastructure and tourism-related activities to sustain influx of people to the country.

Like other European and Southeast Asian countries that are known tourism destinations, the Baguio solon said the Philippines can be at par with internationally renowned tourist spots in the global village if the national and local governments will fully support the tourism development in various parts of the country.

He added the House committee on tourism will initiate future consultations with Aquino’s tourism officials so that funding will be equitably distributed in potential tourism destinations in the country to support the sustained development of tourist spots as well as the infusion of support to crowd-drawing activities that will attract the influx of tourists throughout the year.

Vergara also wants the tourism department to come out with a sustainable tourism master development plan which will serve as the bible of tourism development in prime tourist destinations nationwide.


New adventure site opens in La Union

PUGO, La Union – Adventurers and nature lovers will have all the reason to visit a new adventure haven in this lowland province with the opening of the Pugo Adventure (PUGAD) located along the Marcos highway between Baguio City and La Union, particularly at Kagaling, Palina here.

PUGAD, which hosts three ziplines, considered one of longest zipline nationwide with a total length of 38 meters and an elevation of 200 feet above the ground, is located 300-meters below the Marcos highway after a 30-minute drive from Baguio City, 1-hour drive from San Fernando City, La Union and a 4-hour drive from Manila.

Aside from its ziplines, measuring 80, 20 and 250 meters, respectively, the new adventure site for foreign and domestic tourists have challenging rappelling and wall climbing facilities to suit the requirements of team building efforts of government and corporate offices wanting to go out and spend a break for themselves.

PUGAD also offers vacationists use of nipa huts, cottages, conference rooms, clean toilets and shower rooms among others plus the chance to wade through the free flowing waters of the Pugo river that passes through the place.

Councilor Priscilla Martin, proprietor of the new adventure site in Northern Luzon, said the three ziplines have well-trained personnel and state-of-the-art equipment to guarantee safety of those interested to fly like superman in its superman ride among others.

According to her, the operation of the adventure site will allow promotion of the fifth-class town as a potential investment haven for rest and recreational activities considering that it is strategically located between Baguio city and the lowlands as went as generate employment for the residents in the area.

Moreover, she said PUGAD will also significantly provide an opportunity for livelihood among the people living around the adventure site since they will be able to establish appropriate businesses suitable to cater to the needs of visitors.

With its strategic location, foreign and domestic tourists wanting to go to Baguio City or those coming from the city proper will have all the reasons to drop by the place and see for themselves a relaxing and breath-taking adventure rides that will help in removing one’s stress and build his confidence through the three ziplines.

The launching of PUGAD last week was well-attended by municipal officials of the town and tourism officials from both the regional offices of the Ilocos and Cordillera regions who said the new adventure site will attract more tourists to scenic spots of Region I and the Cordillera. -- Dexter A. See



With Elizabeth Cedo

Entertainer injured in shooting incident

A shooting incident transpired in front of Samurai Club located at km 4, Marcos Highway at about 1:20 a.m. onSept. 21.

Personnel of Station 10 arrested Michael Dusalen y Lagato, 41, married, laborer, native of Dakudak, Tadian, Mountain Province and resident of Bengao, Bakakeng Central and charged for physical injuries and grave threats.

Investigation disclosed that prior to the incident, the suspect sat beside Alvin Albana y Casaljay, 19, single, dancer of said club at a burger store just in front of the club and uttered to him words he could not understand.

Dusalen suddenly pushed him and drew a handgun of unknown caliber and poked it on his head. He pulled the trigger twice but it did not fire prompting Casaljay to run inside the club where be met Carlo Fabon y Godoy, 25, single, dancer of said club, native of Quezon Province and boarding at Lower Quirino Hill.

Fabon reportedly went out to verify but was shot on his right leg by Dusalen.

The suspect was immediately arrested but the handgun used in the crime scene was not recovered. The victim was brought to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for treatment.

Woman nabbed at SM for marijuana

BAGUIO CITY – A security guard nabbed Sept. 18 at SM City a certain Cherry Ramos y Tadena, 26, single, college graduate and resident of Petersville Subdivision, Camp City for alleged possession of 20,99 grams of marijuana valued at P1,154.

Police later took the suspect in custody while the marijuana leaves were subjected to chemical analysis at the regional police headquarters in Camp Dangwa, Benguet.

La Trinidad man nabbed for murder

BAGUIO CITY – Police led by Senior Insp. Henry Domogan arrested Sept. 18 one Domingo Mangliw y Lanio, married of La Trinidad, Benguet and resident of Purok 28 San Carlos Heights for murder following an arrest warrant issued by Judge Antonio Esteves of regional trial court, branch 5.

Mangliw was nabbed at Barangay Bakakeng Central and is now detained at the city jail

4 arrested for illegal gambling

BAGUIO CITY – City police intelligence operatives and members of the regional Criminal Intelligence Detection Agency under Task Force Jupiter headed by Director Evelyn Trinidad, city Interior and Local Government field officer, nabbed four jueteng bet collectors here last week.

Arrested were Agusto Molina y Mones, 23, single, resident of Quezon Hill who was nabbed at Tabora Park, Magsaysay Ave.; James Manaos y Isanan, 23, single of Upper QM,; Edward Tabinas y Ortiz, 22, single, native of Sqan Fabian, Pangasinan and resident of Dominican Hill, and Mark Pascua y Paneda, 21, single and resident of Avelino St.

The four were nabbed for violation of Republic Act 9287 (Anti-Jueteng). Confiscated from them were cash amounting to P1,015.00 and jueteng paraphernalia.

Suspects were released upon written instruction of Inquest Prosecutor Rolando Vergara.

Man with hand inside woman’s bag jailed

BAGUIO CITY – A certain Alfredo Rodriguez y Gonzales, 34, married, jobless, of Central Kapangan, Benguet with no city address was nabbed after he was seen following a woman and tried inserting his hand inside her bag.

Rodriguez was nabbed by intelligence police operatives on Sept. 20, at about 4 p.m. along Magsaysay Ave, and is now detained at the city jail.

Jobless man caught shoplifting

BAGUIO CITY -- Station 7 police arrested one Benito Lahito Lagim, 43, single, jobless, native of Banaue, Ifugao and resident of Middle San Carlos Heights here for shoplifting at about 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at 5 Cent’s Up Supermarket located along Mabini St, BC.

Investigation disclosed that the suspect entered the said establishment without depositing his back pack at the entrance and started shopping around.

The security guard noticed that he picked one Hunt’s Pork and Beans, looked around and when he noticed no one was looking put the item in his front waist then covered it with his sleeveless jacket.

He then went around and picked another can then proceeded to the coffee section where the security guard saw him insert a can in the right pocket of his jacket.

The suspect was about to go out without paying but the guard stopped him and asked him to pay the said items.

The suspect had no money so this prompted the complainant to file necessary charges against him. He is now detained at the city jail.

2 caught in pot session at Melvin Jones

The City Public Safety Company, assisted barangay tanods of Harrison Barangay led by Kagawad Manuel Miranda y Riton at about 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at Melvin Jones football field in apprehending Cheryl Roxas y Cheche, 26, married, native of Cagayan de Oro City and resident of Upper Quezon Hill, and Camil Solar y Saguped, 19, single, native of Urdaneta City and resident of Rimando Road Aurora Hill for allegedly smoking marijuana with two other unidentified male companions who evaded arrest.

Confiscated from the suspects were one plastic bag containing marijuana leaves, one matchbox and foil rolled up for smoking the illegal drug.

Cops assist CP hold-up victim

Personnel of Station 7 were on mobile patrol at about 1:40 a.m. of Sept. 20, when they chanced upon hold-up victims Marycone De Jesus, 21, a 4th year college student, resident of M. Roxas St, Trancoville and native of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur and three companions.

Investigation revealed that the victims were walking along the O-shape overpass when suddenly a group of 11 persons surrounded them wherein one Jomar Abansi Santos, 18, single, of Bontoc, Mountain Province and resident of Atab, Marcos Highway, poked a chisel on the belly of De Jesus and announced a hold-up.

When the victim tried to run, the suspect punched her on the face and forcibly took her Sony Erickson P90i cell phone worth P23,400.00. Patrolling police officers immediately responded to the crime scene and scoured the area with the victims.

The complainants chanced upon the suspects together with a minor walking along Abanao Street. They were immediately arrested and the cell phone recovered in the possession of his 8-year-old companion, a resident of Kagitingan Barangay and native of Marawi City,
The suspect was taken into custody and charged for robbery with violence.

Drunk man with gun continues sleep in jail

Police nabbed inside a bar one Brendon Taop Piclit, 33, married, laborer, native of Sumadel, Tinglayan, Kalinga and resident of Honeymoon Road, Baguio for illegal possession of firearm.

Confiscated from him was Cal .38 revolver loaded with five rounds.

Earlier, at about 9:45 p.m. on Sept. 19, along Zandueta St., PO3 Dominador Santos was driving when a female cashier of People’s 3 Videoke bar located at Kayang St., approached him saying a male customer who was sleeping on one of the tables had a gun tucked at his waist.

This prompted him to enter the bar and arrest the suspect.

Two robbed, mauled after drinking spree

Two men were mauled after a drinking spree along Abanao St. last week with their assailants later charged for robbery with violence.

Investigation revealed that a heated argument ensued inside the Macedonia Videoke Bar between the group of the Jeffrey Esperon Sibayan, 37, married, laborer, native of Bacnotan, La Union and resident of Km 4, La Trinidad, Benguet and complainants Jonathan Pedralbez Banatao, 28, , married, unemployed, native of Malabbac, Tuguegarao and a 17 year old companion.

Both suspects and complainants were reportedly having a drinking spree at said karaoke bar when they had a heated argument.

They were pacified by employees of the establishment. The victims then went out of the bar but the suspects followed them and Sibayan punched Banatao twice and brought out a sharp object and hit the victim on his left bicep.

The other suspects aided one another in mauling him and forcibly took his wallet containing P3,000.00, IDs, ATM, documents and one Nokia N70 worth P5,000.00.
Suspects also took his companion’s cell phone worth P1,200.

The victim said the suspect and his companions were the ones who chased and mauled him. The suspect is now detained at Baguio City Jail as per inquest of Prosecutor Catral.


Am-among fest tiff


May I request publication of this letter in response to the news articles written by Mr. Roger Sacyaten, Provincial Tourism Officer, who at the same time is posturing as spokesperson of Mayor Pascual Sacgaca.

Said articles were published in the Sept. 12 issue of the Mountain Province Exponent and Baguio Midland Courier titled, No ‘Fireworks’ for the 6th Am-among Festival and Bontoc’s Am-among Fest Set on Sept. 15-19 respectively.

Instead of promoting the highlights of Am-Aong to entice more tourists, the articles delved on maligning the undersigned. The most damaging was the statement of Mayor Sacgaca, quoted as follows; “My predecessor realigned some amount from the allocated budget for the festival.”

Students in political science conversant in local governance will not believe such statement, much more myself because I know the background of realignment. It needs legislation by the Sangguninag Bayan. It is a collegial action deliberated and approved by a simple majority after which it needs executive approval.

The issue at bar involves the amount of one hundred twenty five thousand pesos (P125,000.00) re-aligned from the Am-Among Fund which the undersigned submitted to the SB for approval and was granted. Hon. Sacgaca, then the ABC President and just elected mayor at that time, was a signatory to Resolution 485 that re-aligned the amount.

But when the amount was not spent for the tourism center, the undersigned verbally recommended to the vice mayor and some SB members that the amount be reverted to the Am-Among Fund.

However, the SB enacted Ordinance 1, s. 2010-13 allocating the amount for Legislative Programs and representation expenses of the office of the vice mayor which Mayor Sacgaca approved.

What I can’t understand is the temerity of the two gentlemen to name me as the culprit for lack of funds, hence many activities like the Agro-Fair were excluded in the festival. The two concluded without first verifying their facts. Mr. Sacyaten supported his presentation through an interview of selected local officials close to the mayor who accordingly conceptualized certain events like folkdances. Documents of the previous Am-among attest that folk dancing was part of the program, hence, not new.

Be it also known that the past administration did not empty the coffers of the municipal government that the good tall and handsome mayor use as an excuse in not granting financial request to our constituents and to the job applicants. I left the amount of P3.6 million to the discretion of the new administration.

If indeed Mayor Sacgaca is in control of the executive supplemental budget then he should have augmented the Am-Among Fund to accommodate other activities. But alas, he didn’t but opted to hide under the cloak of realignment and portraying the undersigned as the culprit. In fact, we also handed an approved financial assistance in the amount of P150,000.00 which we requested last year from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts to supplement the 2010 Am-among Fund.

According to an insider the grant from NCCA is ready for pick up by any representative from the Bontoc LGU before the Am-Among. I hope the foregoing facts will vindicate me from the opinionated view of the writer and indiscretions from the good mayor.

Franklin Odsey
Bontoc, Mountain Province


Protecting the autonomy fund


Protecting the Autonomy Fund

Juan Ngalob, chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council and regional director of the National Economic Development Authority said to us, during a meeting at his office in Imelda Park, Baguio City, that only orders coming from the court and President P-noy can stop them from doing the functions, that they (RDC) arrogated from the winded up Cordillera Administration bodies even if they have no mandate.

“Without such order, we will continue to inform, educate and campaign for autonomy,” were his resounding words.

The door is closed, the verdict is final, it avers simply that “even if all Cordillerans, except them of course, will say you’re doing an illegal job, still these RDC officials will persevere in their self-assumed role.

In one school of thought, it is deductive that these RDC officials will never budge an inch from their grip of the Autonomy Fund, They will swarm over it like famished leeches sucking for blood.

Why? Is the simple question asked by querulous innocent minds but to the meddlesome busybodies, a share of the cake is the direct answer.

To hit the heart of the fuss, categorical statements coming from very reliable and concerned individuals, pinpoint that the autonomy fund had been misused by the RDC officials.

A chunk of the fund had been doled out to organizations identified to be anti-autonomy, says the notary lawyer who inked the memorandum of agreement.

Even, a high- ranking personnel from the Commission on Audit regional office based in La Trinidad, Benguet, stated upon follow- up of our resolution, seeking for special audit of these disbursed autonomy funds, that indeed some expenditures were disallowed because they were misused, for their benefit.

Also, the print and broadcast media in Baguio City bombarded RDC with “staccato of gunfire” anent the alleged irregular disbursements, but to no avail, it fell into deaf ears.

Well, the probity and honesty of COA as “formidable bulwark” of people’s fund is now tested. If they play their cards right, then they’ll be” praised to high heavens” but if they succumb to pressure or grease then may God forgave them.

The autonomous fund is the money of the Filipinos not any tom, dick and harry, so any payment thereof must be made in accordance to government accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

The public as co-owners of these funds, must be vigilant and be inquisitive at all times regarding any report of anomaly.

We must all rise, irrespective of our principles or creeds to oppose vehemently, any illegal or immoral act/s accorded to our money. Because if we keep mum about it, then evil will thrive, for good men sat and did nothing.

President Pnoy started right for he walks his talk though he isn’t perfect. His actions exemplified his good intent for our country.

However, his dream of a total overhaul in the government, will sail on high seas because many of his Man Fridays, as the can of worms is opened are disobedient.

And if the Filipinos neglect to support him and instead become instant cavaliers to fan the flames of his imperfections, then our expectations for a better Philippines will fall short.

In like manner, if the Cordillerans would be impassive audience in tolerating alleged misuse of autonomy funds and other corrupt deals of government men, then no one but ourselves will be blamed for the continued decadence of our region.

As our leaders unfold their goal, to carve a niche in the development of our region through autonomy, our primordial task to contribute, is to clean our political units of misfits and scalawags by way of filing suits against them.

We can do it through positive action if we desire. It had been tested and the results have been good.

Cordillera is our home and our resting ground. Like our parents, it feeds us with its vast natural wealth thus, protecting us from cold, drought and famine.

It would be hypocrisy and ungratefulness on our part, if we let her down and permit a few black hearts rape her coffers, using evil schemes, without a drop resistance from us. --- Beepo F. Kiaki, co-chairman, Interim Cordillera Interest Group


Divorce advocates face tough battle

Alfred P. Dizon

(With the current debate on whether to allow divorce in the Philippines, here is an article by Amanda Fisher which may shed light on the issue.)

Changing the country’s tough stance on divorce will take more than simple luck and good intentions.

For Luzviminda Ilagan and the women of the Gabriela party-list who are pushing for a twice-failed legislation to legalize divorce, the stakes are high.

Ilagan says countless women across the country are mired in abusive relationships with almost no hope of breaking free. It’s a state of affairs that impacts on the entire family.

This notion inspires the party to wage a lopsided battle with the Catholic Church which, Ilagan says, disregards husbands’ philandering while simultaneously condemning divorce.

Retired archbishop Oscar Cruz says divorce is an easy way out for those who cannot cope with the stress of married life.

Mandy (not her real name), 29, disagrees “100 million percent.” And it’s easy to see why, after suffering multiple injuries, including a back cyst and sinusitis, as a result of repeated and protracted beatings from her husband of six years, Denver.
Denver’s violent tendencies – directed at himself at least in one case – were evident early on. Before they got married, Denver repeatedly smashed his head against a wall one night when Mandy insisted on returning home. The first time he harmed her by cuffing her ears during an argument, they had already been together for a year. “After that first abuse, it followed and followed and followed,” she says.

The pair met at a gathering of Singles For Christ. Although Mandy rejected Denver’s early advances because of his reputation as a playboy, his persistence – coupled with Mandy’s bad family life – paid off.

At 19, Mandy decided the way to an independent life, free from the burden of financially supporting her mother and sister, was to have a baby. Denver proved useful. “It was a relationship of convenience,” she says.

She even had to turn a blind eye to her husband’s drug addiction and thievery. At one point she had to lie to protect him even after he stole from her family.

“I wanted him to be a better person and I can see that I am the one who can correct what he’s doing and I can straighten him,” she says.

Living alternately with Denver’s family and her own, Mandy was completely devoid of support. Both families stood by while she endured abuses almost daily from her husband.

“Nobody approached me. For me it was my fault because I was in the relationship and I got pregnant.”

It was even on her mother’s advice that Mandy married Denver in 2004, believing the abuse would stop if she did.

“It’s always the woman who is wrong in the people’s minds...they will tell her ‘Go back because he’s your husband and you have your kid to take care of’ and at the end of the day, it’s not your welfare that’s important but the welfare of your children.” But it was the beginning of the end of her agony at the hands of her drug-addled husband.

She found supportive barangay staff who directed her to Gabriela. She is now doing all she can to reclaim her life, and reclaiming her maiden name is paramount. “My aim is to get my last name back.”
The beautiful, university-educated woman believes abuse can happen to anyone under certain circumstances, and support of others provides the strength a woman needs to leave an abusive relationship. That support is necessary from friends, family and co-workers, but also from a government that recognizes women’s right to leave a hopeless marriage.

But Mandy has found it hard to accept the terms of annulment, in which she is the guilty party on account of an inexistent psychological condition.

“I cannot write the real reason why I’m filing for an annulment. (It’s not fair to have) to say there’s something wrong with you.” Moreover, the costly process, which cost two months of the single-mother’s P8,000 monthly wage, is likely to take at least two years. The daily abuse may be over, but the scars live on, even in her son. “Every time he sees a knife he says ‘mommy, put the knife away, papa might grab it’.”

Millions of women need the support of the state to help end the cycles of violence, Gabriela’s Ilagan says.

“It’s really Jurassic in thinking when they say a divorce indicates no more respect for marriage, that we no longer hold the sanctity of marriage as paramount in our society. It’s precisely because we hold it paramount that we do not want women to be continuous victims of domestic violence and have these bad family relationships as an example to children,” Ilagan says.
While there exist three other alternatives to divorce under current Filipino law, they are time-consuming, costly, or arcane. A legal separation is resorted to when there exists repeated violence, infidelity, or abandonment. However, it does not allow for remarriage or sexual relations with another or other partners.

In a declaration of nullity, there should be some condition existing prior to the marriage which renders the marriage void.

For example, if one of the parties was a minor or already married at the time of marriage, remarrying is permitted. Annulment may be the recourse if one of the parties is mentally unfit for marriage, the marriage was held under deceitful circumstances, or if one of the parties is impotent or insane.
Some 85 percent of couples in troubled marriages choose the last option but it requires a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation which can cost up to P100,000.

In 2007, there were almost 8,000 cases of annulment filed nationwide, mostly by couples with resources. Ilagan says social inequity allows husbands to treat their wives poorly with no fear of repercussion. She envisions a divorce law in which battered and abused women would be the main beneficiaries. “There are many women who would not get a legal separation either because they do not have the financial capacity and because they are embarrassed,” she says.

To counter the financial worries that may prevent some women from breaking free of unhealthy relationships, the Divorce Bill requires equal division of conjugal property and for the ex-husband to financially support his wife for a year.
“Women suffer in silence here, especially women who do not have the economic capacity to separate and women who have been suffering under the (belief) of society that if you get separated, you’re at fault,” she says.

Because of this, women bear philandering husbands who wear their mistresses as status symbols, she says. “There’s a big number of men who are unfaithful but for them it is part of their rights to be macho. The richer men can have a number two or even a third wife,” she points out.

Any man contemplating infidelity, she says, may think twice if they know divorce is a recourse for a wronged wife.

For Cruz, an expert in marital and Canon laws, divorce can actually encourage infidelity. “Whatever the place for divorce process or case, I can manufacture that ground. For example, adultery as a ground for divorce, I can commit adultery to get a divorce. I can violate my wife and make her into a punching bag in order to get a divorce,” he says.

The proposed divorce law lists five valid grounds. These strict stipulations dubbed by Gabriela as the “Pinoy-style divorce” – vastly differed from the “Las Vegas divorce” recently decried by President Aquino.
The five grounds are a de facto separation for at least five years with reconciliation “highly improbable,” legal separation for at least two years with reconciliation “highly improbable,” irreparable breakdown of the marriage on any grounds recognized under legal separation, psychological incapacity preventing fulfillment of “essential marital obligations,” or irreconcilable differences which have caused an irreparable breakdown.

“It’s not the divorce one can capriciously or whimsically file just because of the desire for remarriage,” Ilagan says.

She relishes the thought that President Aquino may be an ally in view of his declaration of support for remarriage after legal separation.
But Ilagan is aware of a much more formidable opponent than the President could ever prove. The Catholic Church outlawed divorce after the Spaniards discovered it among indigenous tribes when they arrived some five centuries ago. And once again in 1950, after divorce was made legal under the American and Japanese occupations.

“The Church says (to law-makers) if you vote for a controversial law such as this one, we’ll tell your constituents not to vote for you,” Ilagan says.

Ilagan says that while most congressmen may be personally in favor of divorce, they are too scared to cross the Church – the same reason, she says, why though the bill was filed in the last two congresses it never made it past the committee stage on account of procedural issues and delays.

“That was part of the plan, of course, especially because in the last congress we were in the minority so the majoritywere allies of Gloria (Arroyo) and they were afraid of not being re-elected.

“They say (to me) ‘of course I’m in favor of the bill, but I’ll just stay out of it’.”

But Ilagan is confident this time will be different, with five congressmen already volunteering to co-author the bill. “Some people, especially legislators, are expressing their support. However, the Catholic Church would still influence the outcome of the voting,” she maintains.
Not even Archbishop Cruz denies the influence of the Church on politicians. “(Lawmakers) are not yet ready for a fistfight with the bishops, because they might not get votes,” according to Cruz. “How many divorces will be filed, that’s asking how many families do they break, how many children may lose parental care because of divorce?”

While bastions of the Catholic faith like Italy and Spain are comfortable with divorce, it’s unlikely to breeze through easily in the Philippines, where family unity is still highly regarded.
“It is not really a question of faith but more (about) culture and tradition.”

Cruz maintains that a divorce law is not only superfluous but unconstitutional as well. “With all those four vehicles of destroying marriage it could (contravene) our Constitution that says the State shall protect the family as a unit.”

While Cruz is not blind to the perils of a bad family life, he says they pale in comparison to divorce’s potential harm to children. “In both instances the children suffer but I think I will still go with the thesis the children suffer more if the parents are apart...when if they are together, at one time they’re at peace, at one time they’re at war. That would be a more bearable situation for children than the papa going to another woman, the mama going to another man.”

Giving couples such an easy way out could also amount to the premature demise of a relationship, according to Cruz.

“Marriage is not a gamble, it is a test of human character,” he says. “Why get married at all, for heaven’s sake? Even now some Filipinos plan some divorces (with) pre-nuptial agreements...before you get together you are even separating your property. Is this the way we do it now?”

In a culture where marriage is still a commitment for life, it will be hard to change attitudes – even with the experiences of women such as Mandy staring us in the face.
Behind the Scenes comment: If divorce is still not feasible in this Banana Republic, how about making marriages contractual, let’s say for a period of five years?

If the couple can’t stand each other within the period, then they could just make the marriage die an easy death after the contract. If they find sleeping with each other is still bearable, then they could opt to renew the contract. This will spare couples a lot of money spent in litigation for annulment cases.


Rendezvous at Le Cirque

Perry Diaz

President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III was walking alone on New York’s East 58th Street when he heard someone say, “Psst… psst….” “Hmmm, that must be a Pinoy calling,” he told himself. He looked around. Again, he heard, “Psst… psst…” To his surprise it was former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

Gloria: Hoy, P-Noy, this is your Ate Glo!
P-Noy: Hoy, Ate Glo, what are you doing here at… [he looked up at the marquee] Le Circus?
Gloria: It’s Le Cirque Restaurant. It’s French. Come join your Kuya Mike and I for a sumptuous dinner.
P-Noy: Oh yeah, I remember it now! This was where you spent $20,000 for dinner last year during my mom’s wake, wasn’t it?
Mike: Ahhh... Yes, it was. Anyway, come join us, pare ko. This is our favorite hangout in the Big Apple. Nobody would bother us here except for a few Pinoy paparazzi.
P-Noy: Well, I can only stay here for five minutes cuz I’m heading to the United Nations to address the General Assembly. Okay lang ba?
Gloria: No problem, my friend. We’ll drive you there in our new Bentley. Can I get you some hors d’oeuvres and champagne? Hey, waiter!
Waiter: Yes, ma’am. Gloria: Bring us some Beluga caviar, pâté de foie gras, escargot, and a bottle of Dom Perignon Magnum. How’s that for starters, Mr. President?
P-Noy: Well, that’s too much. I just finished eating three hot dogs at a corner stand.
Mike: Try Le Cirque’s food. It’s delicious.
P-Noy: Well, let me think… Waiter, I’ll just have a siopao and kalamansi juice, okay?
Waiter: I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t have soup pooh and Kalamazoo juice here.
Gloria: He’s right, P-Noy. This is a French restaurant. Try their food, you’d love it! This is our favorite rendezvous with our friends. We can be your barkada, you know. I’ll teach you some of the tricks I used when I was president. Oh, how I miss the glory, the power, the money, the junkets… Oh, I love them all! And I really missed… [tears in her eyes].
P-Noy: I think I’ll skip the food, Ate Glo. I’ll just have a smoke while you’re eating, if you don’t mind. Waiter, can I have an ashtray, please.
Waiter: I’m sorry sir but smoking is not allowed in this restaurant.
P-Noy: What? Look, do you know who…
The door suddenly opened and a group of Pinoy paparazzi barged in with cameras flashing.
The next day, the newspapers carried the headline: “P-Noy and Gloria rendezvous at Le Cirque.”
Veep Jejomar “Jojo” Binay said that he doesn’t have any problem with not being appointed acting president while P-Noy was junk… err… traveling in the U.S. P-Noy entrusted the government to his “Little President,” Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr., while veep Jojo would be representing P-Noy in cutting ribbons and attending funerals. Well, I just hope that the little prez would stay away from booze and beautiful women while he’s running the country.

Meanwhile, veep Jojo says he’s looking forward to moving to his new office in the Coconut Palace the by Manila Bay. Well, that’s a nice “consuelo de bobo” for not named acting prez.
News of the week… “BIR to go after jueteng lords for tax evasion.” Gee, if BIR couldn’t check the lifestyles of its own tax examiners, how does it expect to go after the jueteng lords?
Boo-boo of the week… P-Noy left his cell phone in Manila. No wonder the whole country is in chaos. And P-Noy won’t even allow veep Jojo Binay to run the country in his absence. Now everyone including the three “Jueteng Kings” wants to run the country. Hesusmariahosep! Kawawa naman ang Pinas.
Dyok of the week… Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that P-Noy gave DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno the position precisely because he is one of the ‘best and the brightest.’ ” Yup, Puno knows how to handle a hostage crisis – he hides behind the tree. And he knows how to fight the jueteng lords – if can’t beat them, he joins them.
“Kamaganak” in action… P-Noy’s cousin Tony Boy Cojuangco admitted going to retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz’s office. He said he just wanted to help P-Noy in his advocacy of fighting jueteng. But according to Cruz, Tony Boy tried to convince him to “go easy” on Rico Puno.
By the way, Tony Boy donated P100 million to P-Noy’s presidential campaign. That’s a huge “investment.” Most donors would expect a return on their investment. (


Coping with dual citizenship

Ramon Dacawi

Without my knowledge, officemates worked out the release of my senior citizen’s card which they handed early evening of my reaching 60. Used to letting it go by like any other day, as a way of coping with childhood poverty, I took a leave that day, so it would pass quietly. But they were waiting at home, tortured by the sight of food they brought but couldn’t touch until I arrived past six.

The card symbolizes what we all want to be but whose arrival we wish we could slow down. “Dual citizen kayon, uncle,” my niece Joann texted me that day. Her ribbing made me see it as a blessing, and texted back so “Correct!,” she replied.

Many never reached 60, including some of my closest colleagues and elders in community journalism. They passed on in their 50s – Peppot Ilagan, Steve Hamada, Bagnos Cudiamat and Freddie Mayo. Along this journey to the grave called life, set in motion by birth, I’ve seen others go in their 20s, teens, childhood or even younger.

On a Sunday evening a few months before he kicked the bucket Sept. 24 last year, country folksinger Mike Santos was sure glad to tell me how happy he was reading the Baguio Midland Courier.

“Talagang happy ako, pare. Binuklat ko yong Midland at hindi ko nakita ang larawan at pangalan ko do’n,” he noted, obviously referring to the obituary page.

“Kung gusto mo, bilhan kita ng subscription hanggang makita mo,” I offered, impressed by his irrepressible sense of humor that mocked the intimations of his younger friends of their own mortality.

Mike’s passing on age was placed at 70, which March, Bubut Olarte and the rest of the senior folksingers hereabouts doubt as he already looked that age 10 years ago. Mike used to proclaim he would always be younger than his mother-in-law, who has out-lived him.

Juliet, Mike’ young widow, was less than half his age when they married. After the exchange of vows, he always relished telling and re-telling how his mother-in-law almost passed out when he came calling to ask for her hand.

“Saan ho ang anak n’yo na gusting ikasal ang anak ko,” Mike quoted Juliet’s mother as asking him. “Noong sabi ko, ‘ako ho ‘yon’, kamuntik nawalan ng malay ang magiging biyenan ko.”

Juliet had wanted to mark Mike’s first death anniversary with a memorial card in the weekly to mark his first death anniversary but was prohibited by the cost. Instead, she used an amount sent by expatriate Baguio boy Joel Aliping for the insurance premium of Mica, her 16-year old daughter with Mike. Mike must be smiling from up there, as he opened Mica’s insurance five years ago.

Personally, I regret never having opened an insurance policy offered by then under-writer and folksinger Conrad Marzan. I wrongly subscribed then to the notion that the concept of insurance is so you’ll live poor and die rich. At 60 and diagnosed as oozing with sugar without a hacienda, I’d be lucky to find an insurance firm stupid enough to give me a policy.

So was I glad when my officemates handed me that senior citizen’s card that, entitles me to benefits and privileges under Rep. Act. 9994, including discounts in the purchase of medicines to control my blood sugar, cholesterol and pressure.

Or so I thought, until a pharmacy salesgirl refused to hand me my order. She claimed the prescription should have indicated the brand I wanted, not on the treatment protocol my doctor prepared for my guidance.

So I went to a consultant at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, who told me government doctors like him are not allowed to indicate the brands, only the generic names of medicines, which, in my case, was metformin.

“Welcome to the travails of a senior citizen, uncle,” Joann, a young doctor with a Baguio upbringing and heart, told me when I narrated my encounter with the salesgirl.

Chances are the owner of the drugstore is not aware of the employee’s tactic to deprive me of my discount. The pharmacy proprietor has been reaching out to the destitute, as per testimony of a subdivision utility worker who told me his wife survived breast cancer with support from the drugstore owner.

I learned of the drugstore owner’s heart in the course of my delivery of support from expatriates the likes of Freddie de Guzman in Canada and Guy Aliping in Australia for the chemotherapy the patient.

To escape frustration and the indignity of having to beg or be angry for being treated as a sixty-cent senior, I line up at Mercury’s which honors my card and the discounts and benefits due me as dual citizen. ( for comments).


  © Blogger templates Palm by 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics