Loan requests uncover widespread ‘spurious’ overlapping land titles

>> Friday, March 25, 2011

By Isagani S. Liporada

BAGUIO CITY – Land titles were found to be overlapping here over government and private properties following requests for certificates of zoning clearance on properties offered as collateral for bank loans filed with the City Planning and Development Office.

This has sparked a controversy which is now turning to be hot in this cold tourism resort.

The city government and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples are now in a legal battle over issuance of certificates of ancestral land titles here over Forbes Park by the latter which city officials said was illegal.

Now, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is expected to join the fray following requests for certificates of zoning clearance.

The subject properties purported to secure loans by private individuals include Wright Park in Barangay Lualhati, Pacdal; and the realty upon which Casa Vallejo is built.

“We were shocked upon verification of the real properties covered by separate requests for zoning clearances,” CPDO chief Evelyn Cayat said. “We discovered the lands covered by ancestral titles overlapped with city government, national government, and private properties.”

A perusal of documents gathered by CPDO revealed privately-owned subdivided properties overlapped with Wright Park area were derived from Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) numbered 130 and 28.

CALT-130 (102, 302 sq. m.) was originally issued by NCIP to heirs of Josephine Abanag; while CALT-28 was originally under the name of the heirs of Lauro Carantes.

The Original Certificate of Title (OCT) over the Abanag-awarded CALT was issued by NCIP Nov. 10, 2010.

It is now subdivided into 31-parcels of lot divided among purported heirs and covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) 018-2010002797 to 2828 as per CALT-130 memorandum of encumbrance dated December 8, 2010.

Private persons under whose names the parcels are now titled include Mercedes Tabon, Joan Gorio, Virginia Gao-an, and Isias Abanag.

Of the 31-parcels, Lot 5 designated under the name of the heirs of Abanag and Mercedes Tabon overlaps with Lot 67 covered by TCT T-32093 in the name of the city government.

The city property has an area of 5,885.70 sq. m.

On the other hand, titles derived from the Carantes-original CALT are now covered by TCTs 018-2011000069 to 71, all under the name of Gorio and has an aggregate area of 3,488 sq. m.

OCT to the Carantes CALT is dated April 7, 2009 while the TCTs over the same were issued only Jan. 14, 2011.

City legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes said, “Our main concern is the city’s property.”

Guaranteeing readiness for a protracted legal battle with NCIP and alleged private owners of the properties he added, “We are currently studying all legal remedies to protect city government interest right now. The fight is not limited to NCIP versus the city government of Baguio alone.”

“The controversy now also includes private lot-owners affected by the CALTs issued by NCIP. We’re hoping they join us to finally put an end to the issuance of questionable CALTs purporting to be legitimate.”

Meantime, another tract of land covered by CALT-129 in the name of the Heirs of Cosen Piraso likewise overlies with Philippine government property part of which is where Casa Vallejo is built. DENR is administrator of the property.

CALT-129 with an area of 5,050 sq. m. is now subdivided into 8-parcels covered by TCTs 018-2010002858 to 66. OCT to the same was issued November 10, 2010 while the encumbrances were entered in said title Dec. 8, 2010.

Rabanes revealed city letters are in the works asking the Office of the Solicitor General and DENR to step into the picture to protect national and city interests over the properties.


73 families homeless in Philex fire; P70 M lost

TUBA, Benguet — Some P70 million worth of mine and private properties turned into ashes during a four-hour fire that gutted 15 structures inside the Philex Mining Corp. here at Sitio Padcal, Camp 3 Wednesday.

The burned properties included eight bank houses, five cottages of the company and two private cottages located within the mine camp.

Eduardo Aratas, chief of Philex’s legal division, disclosed that 73 families comprising some 450 individuals, mostly employees of the company, were rendered homeless by the fire.

He said they were already provided temporary relocation as well as relief assistance. Philex authorities didn’t disclose the cause of the fire at press time.

The fire was considered the biggest in this mining town which was one of the earliest mines in the country established by the Americans. -- Dexter See


Murder case set vs Lapid son

ANGELES CITY,– The youngest son of Sen. Lito Lapid is facing frustrated murder charges before the office of the prosecutor here on allegations he ordered 10 of his peers and bodyguards, allegedly armed with brass knuckles, to beat up the complainants at a night club here last year.

Complainant Angelito Pineda of Nepo Subdivision here attached to his complaint a medical certificate issued by Ospital Ning Angeles Dr. Irene Flores, indicating lacerations he allegedly sustained during the incident.

The senator’s youngest child, Maynard Lapid, 27, was named as respondent in the complaint, along with his companions, including a woman identified as Diane Martinez.

Lapid and his companions, in a counter-affidavit, reversed Pineda’s claim and insisted he was the victim of the incident, although he had no medical certificate to back up his claim.

He and Martinez alleged Pineda’s complaint was designed to extort from them.

The prosecutor gave Pineda up to March 16 to answer Lapid’s claim.

While the incident happened on July 22 last year, the case was dockeced only last Dec. 17 before the prosecutor’s office.

Sen. Lapid’s chief of staff Bernie Cruz said he knew about the incident, but insisted Maynard was the victim. “I even dissuaded him not to file a case just so as there would no longer be any problem for their dad,” he said.

Pineda said the incident happened at about 2 a.m. of July 22 while he and his friend Christopher Marcelo were on their way to their car parked in front of The Courtyard nightclub in Barangay Balibago.

Martinez, whom they claimed they did not know then, approached them and accused them of sexual harassment.

Pineda said Martinez was followed by one of her male companions who also confronted and shouted at them.

He and Marcelo later identified the companion as Maynard Lapid.

The complainant said while Maynard was confronting them, about 10 of Maynard’s companions arrived and started mauling him and Marcelo and that some of their attackers used brass knuckles.

The beating ceased only when a “bantay-bayan” volunteer intervened, the complaint said.

Marcelo also issued an affidavit to back up the complaint of Pineda, identifying Maynard as the one who gave orders that they beat him up.

He said he and Pineda could have died had not the “bantay-bayan” volunteer intervened. -- DC


5 killed as truck falls down ravine

KAYAPA, Nueva Vizcaya– Five people on board a dump truck reportedly loaded with undocumented minerals were killed after the vehicle plunged into a ravine here while on its way to Benguet early morning March 16.

Police identified four of the victims as Paula Agustin, 59; George Sumera, 28; Melanio Agayan, 39 and Richard Paguio, 37, all residents of Quirino province.

Senior Insp. Jeoffrey Bulong, Kayapa police chief, said the truck loaded with tons of newly extracted ore fell off a cliff in Castillo village in Kayapa.

“The five all died on the spot,” he said.

Reports said authorities were trying to flag down the truck in Aritao town, but the driver ignored this and proceeded instead toward Kayapa, traversing the mountain highway linking this province and Benguet. – Charlie Lagasca


Trinidad strawberry festival launched

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Municipal Mayor Greg Abalos led Thursday the formal opening of Strawberry Festival, the main agro-trade-tourism and industrial fair of this capital town.

On Friday, the Halsema Road from the municipal hall to the provincial capitol was partially closed for street dancing which featured culture of town residents.

That night fireworks erupted along the area to the delight of the crowd. Other activities have been scheduled until the end of this month.

The mayor said he ordered the suspension of the town's number coding scheme to allow the expected hundreds of visitors coming here free access to all places of their interest.

As of March 16, local strawberry growers have readied their farms to be visited by tourists and started to display for sale fresh strawberries as well as processed products like strawberry jams, jellies, candies, wine and soap.


Dad seeks help after son suffers a relapse

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- After 19 cycles of chemotherapy, cancer victim Franz Asher Flores is back to square one.

A test last Feb. 24 – the kid’s fourth birthday – revealed a relapse. It was the second setback in his protracted battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that now spans two years.

Immediately, doctors at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center prepared the stronger – and more costly – St. Jude Protocol for his treatment against the most common cancer among children.

His father, Ferdinand, a retreat coordinator at the Assumption Sabbath Place in Crystal Cave, said parents of other leukemia victims told him St. Jude is a more effective means of licking the disease.

“They also told me it cost them between P40,000 to P100,000 on the first month,” Ferdinand said last week while knocking on doors, hoping to chance upon Samaritans.

In their letter-appeal, he and wife Juvy recalled how Franz, their second of two sons, learned to walk when he was barely a year old, how he wanted to run and climb stairs.

In April, 2009, the boy suddenly could no longer stand and had to be carried to where he wanted to go. Several tests were conducted until a bone marrow extract revealed what was wrong.

Since then, Franz was on chemotherapy. After undergoing seven chemotherapy cycles, he had his first relapse in December, 2009. He bounced back on treatment course, finishing 12 cycles until that test on his fourth birthday.

“We had long been drained financially but we’re not giving up on Franz,” Ferdinand said last week. “With your prayers and support there is a big chance that he will be cured.”

Franz’s elder brother Justin Harvey,12, will graduate from St. Martin’s School at Crystal Cave this month, Their mother had long resigned as marketing officer of a batching plant to have her full attention on Franz.

Early this month, Ferdinand lined up at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in Metro-Manila and was scheduled to be interviewed at month’s end on his application for medical fund support.

Samaritans may punch Ferdinand’s cellphone number (09283774560) or Juy’s number (09182477935).


Dad seeks help after son suffers a relapse

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- After 19 cycles of chemotherapy, cancer victim Franz Asher Flores is back to square one.

A test last Feb. 24 – the kid’s fourth birthday – revealed a relapse. It was the second setback in his protracted battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that now spans two years.

Immediately, doctors at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center prepared the stronger – and more costly – St. Jude Protocol for his treatment against the most common cancer among children.

His father, Ferdinand, a retreat coordinator at the Assumption Sabbath Place in Crystal Cave, said parents of other leukemia victims told him St. Jude is a more effective means of licking the disease.

“They also told me it cost them between P40,000 to P100,000 on the first month,” Ferdinand said last week while knocking on doors, hoping to chance upon Samaritans.

In their letter-appeal, he and wife Juvy recalled how Franz, their second of two sons, learned to walk when he was barely a year old, how he wanted to run and climb stairs.

In April, 2009, the boy suddenly could no longer stand and had to be carried to where he wanted to go. Several tests were conducted until a bone marrow extract revealed what was wrong.

Since then, Franz was on chemotherapy. After undergoing seven chemotherapy cycles, he had his first relapse in December, 2009. He bounced back on treatment course, finishing 12 cycles until that test on his fourth birthday.

“We had long been drained financially but we’re not giving up on Franz,” Ferdinand said last week. “With your prayers and support there is a big chance that he will be cured.”

Franz’s elder brother Justin Harvey,12, will graduate from St. Martin’s School at Crystal Cave this month, Their mother had long resigned as marketing officer of a batching plant to have her full attention on Franz.

Early this month, Ferdinand lined up at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in Metro-Manila and was scheduled to be interviewed at month’s end on his application for medical fund support.

Samaritans may punch Ferdinand’s cellphone number (09283774560) or Juy’s number (09182477935).


Impeachment case to delay Baguio charter’s approval

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY— The Senate committee on local governments, city officials and stakeholders said the impending filing of the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will likely delay immediate passage of the proposed revision of this city’s century-old charter.

Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local governments, admitted during Wednesday’s public hearing the impeachment case will be a major obstacle in the bid of the city to have a new charter.

Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and municipal officials of Tuba, Benguet expressed their gratitude to Marcos and members of his committee for initiating the initial public hearing to move the pending bill.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a member of the committee who attended the public hearing, said the appropriate Senate committee will furnish the city government with the pending national land use code which is now being heard in the Senate so that the amendments to the charter will be synchronized in order to prevent further conflicts in the future once both bills are enacted into law.

According to Marcos, the revision of Baguio City’s charter will be instrumental in charting the city’s development thrusts which will be the legacy of the present officials to the future generations of Baguio residents.

Domogan informed the committee major objectives of the revised city charter will be delineation of the city’s boundary with the municipality of Tuba, Benguet to get its original land area of 57.4 square kilometers after the latter encroached into a portion of the city property.


Anti-poverty drive pushed in Kalinga

TABUK, Kalinga — The government’s Convergence Framework on the poverty reduction program is expected to have a major impact in solving the problems of the country’s poor, said Jeoffrey Garcia of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office.

He said the Convergence Framework will showcase implementation of the department’s three major poverty alleviation programs — the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Kalahi) and Self Employment Assistance para sa Kaunlaran (SEA-K).

The programs shall be implemented at the same time in identified beneficiary area, unlike previously, where each program had separate areas.


AFP chief backs changes in PMA curriculum, rules

>> Thursday, March 24, 2011

By Dexter A, See

FORT DEL PILAR– Newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban, Jr. wants immediate implementation of changes in curriculum of the Philippine Military Academy and rules here to develop dynamic and responsible young military officers who will improve the image of the AFP amid alarming controversies now hounding image of the military.

While the proposed changes in the PMA curriculum are still in the process of approval, Oban, a member of PMA Class of 1979, said he is favorably considering changes the military that will instill paradigm shift in the country’s military force.

The AFP chief was the presiding officer in the turnover of command of the premier military school in Asia from retiring superintendent Vice Admiral Leonardo C. Calderon, Jr. to his successor, Brig. Gen. Nonato Alfredo Peralta, Jr., who was former commandant of cadets of the Academy.

In his tour of duty report to Oban, Calderon cited need to implement drastic changes in the academy’s curriculum to mold upcoming young military officers to put to real practice the academy’s core values of courage, integrity and loyalty and inculcate in them the importance of a true Filipino soldier worthy of being emulated.

Under the new PMA curriculum, the core values of courage, integrity and loyalty will be incorporated and taught in every subject in the four-year curriculum to constantly remind the upcoming military officers of their greater responsibility once they are deployed in their respective fields of assignment.

Values education will also be part of the curriculum to teach the cadets appropriate moral values that will be their guideposts in discharging their functions once they move out from the Academy and confront the challenges that will come their way in their military career.

Oban said change in the military is a normal occurrence that will bring their efforts to curb the enemies of the State to greater heights considering the need to significantly improve their logistics and win the battle against insurgents and militiamen in the countryside.


NIA to check Angat Dam safety in case of quake

CABANATUAN CITY– National Irrigation Administration chief Antonio Nangel is forming a technical working group to look into the structural soundness of the Angat Dam.

This, amid concerns over the dam’s safety in the event of a powerful earthquake similar to the one that devastated Japan because it is sitting on a fault.

“We will study it. I will form the technical working group to look into its physical aspects,” Nangel said.

Nangel was responding to statements of Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado who suggested that experts immediately inspect the 43-year-old dam at the soonest possible time due to the fact that it is sitting on the Marikina Western Valley fault.

In his weekly radio program “The Governor’s Hour,” Alvarado said studies made by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology showed that the dam is sitting on the fault and that its underground base could have already been compromised through the years.

The Marikina fault extends from Angat Dam to Taal Lake in Batangas province. It moves between 200 and 400 years and can generate a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Alvarado said it is high time for the national government to consult foreign and local experts on the condition of Angat Dam since most dams have a life span of 50 years.

Angat Dam is a multi-purpose dam in Barangay San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. Constructed in 1967 at a cost of P315.3 million as part of the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system, the 131-meter high, 568-meter long dam irrigates 27,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan, provides 97 percent of the water supply of Metro Manila, and serves as a flood control mechanism in Bulacan.

It also generates power through its hydroelectric plant, which has an installed capacity of 256,000 kilowatts.

Nangel, however, said the Angat Dam, like the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, is safe.

“At the time it was designed, Angat Dam was found to be stable. Even all the dams that we have in the Philippines are all safe and we see no problem,” he said.

Nevertheless, Nangel said he would take Alvarado’s concerns into consideration and assign a team of technical experts from the NIA to conduct an inspection of the dam, considered the country’s third largest after the Pantabangan Dam and Magat Dam in Isabela.

Earlier, Nangel said the Pantabangan Dam is so sturdy that it can withstand an earthquake of up to Intensity 10 on the open-ended Richter scale.

Pantabangan Dam also lies near the Digdig fault in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija. -- MG


P’sinan puts up help desk for OFWs

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan– The provincial government has set up an OFW Desk and Crisis Hotline to help overseas workers from Pangasinan who are in distress in Libya.
It also gave P10,000 each to those who were forced to return home to this province following the violent Libyan uprising.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and sixth district board member Ranjit Shahani led the launching of the project with the first batch of eight OFWs from Pangasinan who had returned home from Libya given financial assistance while relatives of OFWs from this province who are still in that country received a cash gift from the governor.

Shahani has a pending ordinance for the setting up of an OFW Assistance Desk Center yet he was happy Espino already launched the project to extend timely help for their kabaleyan (provincemates).

Espino called some Pangasinenses in Libya to check on their condition.

He later passed on the telephone to their relatives who were eager to talk to them and urged them to go home.

Eighty-nine-year-old Maxima Martin from Barangay Nagsaag, San Manuel town talked to her daughter Lolita Martin Paguio, a nurse who has been working in a government hospital in Tripoli, Libya for 23 years.

Paguio said they were now okay and would rather stay at the hospital where she is working.

Amando Aqui from Dagupan City, who works as a carpenter in Benghazi, Libya, said he experienced days of hunger when the chaos erupted.

His colleague, Joseph Fernandez, also from Dagupan City, said he was lucky to return home although empty-handed.

Both Aqui and Fernandez, who were repatriated last March 3, said they would still prefer to work abroad but no longer in the Middle East.

Jose Tomelden, 75, from San Fabian town, whose daughter Lorna Tomelden has been working as a midwife in a private hospital in Benghazi for three years, lauded Espino for helping OFWs in distress.

His daughter is in safe condition, he said, adding he felt a big sigh of relief after talking to her.

“Regardless of the amount given to us (relatives of OFWs from Pangasinan who are still in Libya), the concern of the governor to us is very good,” Tomelden said after receiving a cash gift from Espino.

Other Pangasinenses who were repatriated from Libya would receive financial help from the provincial government through the OFW Desk and Crisis Hotline, which operates in 24 hours and can be contacted at (075) 662-1120. -- EV


BSU faculty awarded as outstanding nutritionist

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Benguet State University’s College of Home Economics and Technology faculty member Prof. Imelda O. Degay was awarded Outstanding Nutrition-Dietician in Education and Research by the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines or NDAP.

Degay received the award on March 3 during the NDAP 56th Annual Convention at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, CCP Complex in Pasay City.

The award was in recognition of Degay’s leadership and achievements in education and research as registered teacher, nurse and nutritionist-dietetian.

The citation read: “She was instrumental in helping attain a national level of accreditation for the BSND program in her institution having served as educator-administrator-mentor for thirteen years; her extension work as president and later adviser of the Baguio-Benguet chapter greatly contributed to its many NDAP chapter awards.”

“The award is shared with all those whom I worked with, the Benguet LGU, NDAP-Baguio-Benguet Chapter, the CHET faculty, staff and students for all the trust, inspiration and opportunities to do something worth recognizing,” said Degay.

Degay had been actively writing for local newspapers and speaking on radio shows about nutrition and proper diet since 1998.

She was also involved in various researches and medical missions in different areas of the country. -- Jennyline S. Tabangcura


Bontoc-Tabuk- Tuguegarao road nearly finished; DPWH

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Motorists and commuters expect lesser travel time and more comfort with the near completion of the 108-kilometer stretch of the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road, a flagship project of the government over the past several years.

The project was geared towards improving inter-provincial and inter-regional accessibility to enhance the vibrance of the region’s lucrative tourism industry.
Engineer Edilberto Carabaccan, regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways Cordillera, said the more than P3-billion project has now registered 90 percent accomplishment.

The project will be finished once the remaining road-right-of-way problems are settled by both the project implementers and concerned local officials from Kalinga and Mountain Province.

Travel time now from Bontoc to Tabuk via Tingalayan is cut to five to six hours only, which used to be 10-12 hours travel over rugged roads, making it difficult for tourists to visit the scenic tourist spots in the interior parts of the Cordillera.

Tourism will also be greatly improved where sightseers visiting the area will be more comfortable not to mention the economic growth and the effect of the development to agriculture, said Carabaccan.

According to Carabaccan, they are taking advantage of the summer season and working overtime to finally finish the project.

“We hope to finish the whole stretch very soon as we have still some problems on the road right of way. We are addressing these predicaments and we are positive we will be done with the remaining unfinished work,” Carabaccan said.


Electrification of Abra villages on

BANGUED, Abra – Electrification of remote rural villages in this province is ongoing full blast.

With support from Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, the Abra Electric Cooperative is hastening a mini-hydro project and installation of electric lines in 12 villages in remote barangays.

Abreco general manager Loreto Seares Jr. said major projects supported by the Abra provincial government will benefit Abreco member-consumers.

Seares said the mini-hydro project and other targets for electrification will bring electricity to the farthest sitios in the province.

At least 26 out of 27 towns have electricity. Out of 303 barangays, Abreco is providing service at least 85 percent.

Seares said, “working hand-in-hand with the provincial government will surely benefit the people of Abra. Together we will make the difference and harmony will give us strength.”

Citing the construction of line extension in Sitio Casakgudan in Barangay San Ramon East, Manabo town, since 2010, poor families, he added, were relieved of having no power considering their agricultural activities.

Now, 60 households in Sitio Casakgudan, San Ramos East (Manabo), a scenic Tingguian village whose inhabitants are mostly poor farmers, enjoy electricity.

Seares said the local government of Manabo town who requested energization, were very glad with the project’s completion.


95 suspected cases: DOH starts anti-measles vaccination in Cordillera

BAGUIO CITY, -- The Department of Health has started this month to give anti-measles vaccination to nine months old and above residents of the Cordillera Administrative Region in line with the "Aquino Health Agenda."

Dr. Lenny Pangilinan, one of the DOH-CAR epidemiologist said the campaign is in line with the government's target of eradicating measles and other communicable diseases in the country.

Pangilinan said a total of 95 suspected measles cases have been treated in the region since January this year.

"The specimens from these victims are still subjected to laboratory tests," she said.

As part of the measles eradication in the country, she said the DOH will hold a month-long house-to-house measles vaccination from April 4 to May 4 for children nine months up to eight years old.

As per Health Secretary Enrique Ona’s directive, no child will be left out during the anti-measles vaccination campaign.

During the media forum, Joseph Zambrano, a government employee stressed the importance of the immunization because his son Joshua nearly lost his eyesight due to measles. "Now that he is treated, he can now see the beauty of the world."

According to Pangilinan, other health services of the government shall be given to the people as the "Aquino Health Agenda" seeks to lower the mortality rate in the country.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease characterized by high fever and rashes with fatal complications of diarrhea, vomiting, eye infection, otitis media (inner ear infection and inflammation) febrile convulsion and pneumonia.


Strong earthquake feared- 43 CL villages in danger of becoming 'liquified'

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga— At least 43 villages in Central Luzon, particularly those situated near coastal areas, could be transformed into “virtual liquid” areas if a strong earthquake hits the region.

The Region III office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau here said an extraordinary phenomenon known as solid liquefaction could occur in these villages.

The MGB, however, said the phenomenon would only happen if there is also La Niña.
Orlando Pineda Sr., MGB senior geologist, said the phenomenon is known as solid liquefaction.

Pineda explained the shaking caused by an earthquake would increase water pressure that may contribute to massive earthquake problems in urban and other residential areas in the region.

The geologist said however, La Niña will not be the main cause of solid liquefaction. If there’s no earthquake, the same is not possible.

In Pampanga, all 23 coastal areas in the town of Sasmuan are prone to solid liquefaction.

Five coastal villages in Macabebe town are also feared to suffer the same situation, including Barangays Batasan, Candelaria, Consuelo, San Esteban and San Francisco.

Nine villages in Minalin also face danger of the unusual phenomenon.

These are Barangays Bulac, Sta. Catalina, Daue, San Francisco I, San Francisco 2, Manica, Sta. Rita, San Pedro and Saplad.

The towns of Macabebe and Minalin are situated in the fourth district of the province, which have always been the catch basins of flood waters coming from the northern part of the Pampanga and its adjacent provinces.

In Nueva Ecija, two barangays and a sitio (small village) in Laur town are also identified as prone to liquefaction.

These are Barangays Betania and Panaulo, and Sitio Pangarolong.

The MGB reports are based on a rapid geological assessment that the government agency has been conducting for the past 26 years.

The MGB has been working in coordination with other government agencies, like the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geological and Astronomical Services Administration.

Soil liquefaction is a phenomenon whereby a saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, usually by an earthquake shaking or other sudden change in stress condition, causing it to behave like a liquid.

The phenomenon is most often observed in saturated, loose (low density or uncompacted, sandy soils.

This is because loose sand has a tendency to compress when a load is applied.


4th Pinoy victim in NZ quake identified

PENABLANCA, Cagayan – The family of Lalaine Collado Agatep here has already accepted her fate, even as they revealed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration didn’t help victims if the recent deadly New Zealand earthquake.

Lalaine is the fourth of the Filipino fatalities recovered and identified Tuesday in the debris of the collapsed CTV building in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Her father, Lee Agatep in their residence, said the DFA only conveyed condolences to their family.

His wife Linda has been trying to reach her two daughters. The other, Laila is now safe with husband James Garcia and two daughters.
sShe flew to Christchurch from Wellington city to monitor developments of her sister’s retrieval.

Mr. Agatep is slated to leave at his own expense, but the New Zealand embassy assisted him on his flight papers.

“Wala palang maibibigay na assistance ang DFA at OWWA, he said. (No assistance from DFA or OWWA).”

“Hindi ko problema ang accommodation, marami akong matutuluyan. (Accommodation is not a problem).”

Other Filipinos presumed dead were: Jessie Lloyd Redoble, John Kristoffer Chua, Ezra Mae Medalle, Emmabelle Anoba, Ivy Jane Cabunilas, Mary Louise Anne Amantillo, Valquin Bensurto, Rhea Mae Sumalpong and Erica Nora.

The Agatep sisters went to New Zealand in 2009 and worked at a retirement home in Bupa.

Lalaine enrolled in the King’s Education English school to advance her career
opportunity since employers have given preference to workers who are articulate in English.

She attended classes on the third floor of the ill-fated CTV building.

“She usually carried her cellphone everywhere,” Laila told a local newspaper.

“It’s like her best friend. She can’t go anywhere without it. In our minds we weren’t thinking she was involved in the tragedy.”

The Garcia couple only discovered that Lalaine was missing upon their arrival in Christchurch last March 2. – RC


Judge convicts shabu supplier to life in jail

BAGUIO CITY – This city’s drug court recently convicted a big-time supplier of shabu from Dagupan City to life imprisonment and a fine of P5 million after being found guilty delivery of dangerous drugs.

The illegal drug dealer, who evaded arrest for nearly four years, was identified as Ali Sarozon Peti-ilan, 32, male, married, native of Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur, and resident of Silungan, Binloc, Dagupan City in Pangasinan,

Peti-ilan was convicted by Antonio C. Reyes, presiding judge of the First Judicial Region, Regional Trial Court Branch 61 in a decision late last month.

Court records bared Peti-ilan delivered 2.49 grams of shabu to a drug law enforcer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – CordilleraAdministrative Region, who posed as buyer in a buy-bust operation at Pinsao Pilot Project in Baguio last Sept. 3.

The seized dangerous drug was valued at P30,000.

Peti-ilan who was with a fellow supplier at that time of the operation eluded arrest be escaping using their car.

A warrant of arrest was issued by Reyes against the two on Oct. 5, 2006.

Reports said Peti-ilan had been supplying sub-distributors of shabu in Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet.


Historic Kennon Road rehabilitation ongoing

BAGUIO CITY — The rehabilitation of the scenic and historic 34-kilometer Kennon road here will not only benefit the tourism industry in this mountain resort city and the Cordillera but also ensure the safety of travelers.

This was bared by Irenoe S. Gallato, district engineer of the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways, who said the road is being fixed to prevent the occurrence of landslides.

Based on data secured from the agency, more than 300,000 foreign and domestic visitors pass through the scenic zigzag road and visit roadside tourist spots like the Bridal falls, Twin Peaks, and the Bued River among other attractions. -- Dexter See


No more insurgency in Central Luzon, says region’s PNP chief

By Mar T. Supnad

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga -- A police general (chief superintendent) said Friday insurgency is not a problem anymore in Central Luzon.

Chief Supt. Alan La Madrid Purisima, Region 3 police director, said gone are the days when the region was the bailiwick of insurgents during its peak.

He said the last skirmish between government troops and the rebels was Jan. 3 when 24th Infantry Battalion soldiers led by 1st Lt McLloyd Latris encountered a group of communist rebels in Sitio Bulinlin boundary of barangays Bamban and Sto. Rosario, Masinloc, Zambales that resulted to a firefight.

The government troops encountered an undetermined numbers of RHB guerillas led by Alfonso Reyes alias Ka Manny and Almario Archieval known as Rolan.

The soldiers deployed in Purok 7, Barangay Sto. Rosario, Masinloc,, but were fired upon by members of the RHB wounding Latris.

Elements of 24th IB retaliated and dispersed the rebels toward different directions, according to the government troops.

But according to the police general, the number of rebels operating in the region had been dwindling in the past, saying “wala ng problema sa insurgency dito sa Central Luzon.”

He said however that remnants of the rebels who want to join society are always welcome but those who have criminal records should face charges filed against them in courts.

In 80s and early 90s, Samal, Bataan had become the lair of communist rebels where countless guerillas and government forces, including innocent civilians, were killed.


City business permit probe team formed following complaints

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan last week formed an ad hoc fact-finding committee to conduct investigations on issues and problems involving business permits.

Assistant City Treasurer Alicia Onoza and Legal Officer III Hannah Calitong will head the team composed of four key personnel of the city treasurer’s office.

In his Administrative Order No. 31, the mayor said business proprietors who apply for business permits pursuant to Tax Ordinance 2000-01 “get entangled with problems related to their partners, previous occupants of the business establishments and ownership of the rights to the business and the like.”

The mayor said the issues necessitate investigations “to give contending parties due process and ascertain whether or not there is basis on whether or not to issue a business permit,” thus the city government should have a team to conduct said investigations.

The committee will be tasked to conduct investigations and to decide on the issues brought forth.

It was also given authority to issue subpoenas and facilitate other legal processes relating to the problems.

It will be given 45 days to complete each investigation and to submit findings and recommendations to the city mayor’s office.


Pabasa a feature in Dagupan Bangus fest

DAGUPAN CITY — The celebration of Bangus Festival this year which falls in the observance of Holy week will also include in the event the Pabasa and Golgotha play at the city plaza.

Chairman Maximo Alexis “Beep-Beep” M. Tan and Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas agreed to include these as part of the Bangus Festival .

The Pabasa better known as Pasyon is a verse narrative about the life and suffering of Jesus Christ.

The verses are structured in five-line stanzas with each line containing eight syllables.

The pasyon is commonly sung during Holy Week, starting Holy Monday. The reading of the pasyon is a traditional religious practice in the Philippines and people gather around the reader of the pasyon to listen and reflect.

It is seen by many of its practitioners as a vow or panata.

The first version of the Tagalog pasyon was written by Gaspar Aquino de Belen in 1704.

It was entitled Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola (The poem of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ). Belen's pasyon went through at least four revisions with the fifth edition printed in 1760.

The tradition of chanting the pasyon is not rooted in the Spanish language the songs were originally as written in, but is connected to the singing of epics during cultural celebrations among indigenous Filipinos. The pasyon is usually chanted a capella though occasionally the chanters may be accompanied by guitars or a rondalla band.

Several versions of the pasyon began to circulate afterwards, written by anonymous authors.


P20 million marijuana seized in Benguet town

KIBUNGAN, Benguet -- Around P20 million worth of marijuana was seized and burned on site during an eradication operation here on plantations March 12 to 14 by law enforcers.

Uprooted were 77,900 fully-grown marijuana and 3,720 marijuana seedlings valued at P15,728,800.

Anti-narcotic operatives also confiscated 30 kilos of dried marijuana stalks valued at P3,750,000 in one of the marijuana plantations.

The eradicated marijuana plants were found in twelve cultivation sites located far from each other.

All of the plantations were located in Barangay Tacadang of Kibungan.

The marijuana eradication operation was jointly carried out by operating units from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – Cordillera Administrative Region and Police Regional Office – Cordillera.

As of December 2010, there were eleven barangays in the Cordillera identified as marijuana cultivation sites.

One barangay each was pinpointed at Bakun, Kapangan and Kibungan towns of Benguet; seven barangays in Tinglayan, Kalinga; and one barangay in Sadanga, Mountain Province.


Vargas wins Cagayan election

By Charlie Lagasca

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- Vice Mayor Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso is now the duly elected congressional representative of Cagayan’s second district.

Vargas-Alfonso, incumbent vice mayor of Abulug town, beat former governor Edgar Ramones Lara by a wide margin in the March 12 special election in the province.

The Commission on Elections proclaimed Vargas-Alfonso shortly before midnight that day.

Lara, in a press statement, conceded defeat.

She inherited the post from his father Florencio who won the congressional seat but died in June last year, before the opening of the 15th Congress.

Vargas-Alfonso’s candidacy was backed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Gov. Alvaro Antonio, both founding leaders of Team Cagayan, to which the Vargases’ political party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, is affiliated.

Lara, who himself served as second district congressman for three consecutive terms before being elected governor for two terms, ran under the banner of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, whose entire slate was almost wiped out by Team Cagayan in last year’s polls.

Lawyer Catherine Allas, Cagayan election supervisor, said they decided to proclaim Alfonso due to her insurmountable lead over Lara, although election returns from remote towns of Calayan and Rizal, which have some 19,000 votes, were yet to be officially canvassed.

“We no longer waited for the (Calayan and Rizal) results. This would no longer affect (Vargas-Alfonso’s) lead. Of the (district’s) 10 canvassed towns, Lara only won in (his hometown of) Lasam,” said Allas, describing the special poll as generally peaceful.

The provincial board of canvassers proclaimed Vargas-Alfonso after obtaining a commanding lead of 69,461 votes over Lara’s 26,587 or a margin of 42,874.

“We can now look forward to resuming the plans and programs of my father which had been held in abeyance since his death. We also doff our hat to our opponent who had conducted a high-level campaign. He can still offer his services to the people even in a private capacity,” said Vargas-Alfonso, also a former three-term mayor of Abulug town.


Bishop backs gambling ban during wakes

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– A senior member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines expressed support for calls to prohibit gambling activities during wakes among the faithful, saying such practice promotes a culture of gambling in the country and is also a glaring show of disrespect for the dead.

“We support moves for banning gambling during wakes. This is one way of discoura¬ging our faithful from engaging in games of chance instead of being hardworking, diligent and honest,” said Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena.

“Besides, gambling during wakes is an act of irreverence toward the dead. It connotes that people attending wakes are not really out to sympathize with bereaved families but only to gamble. Wakes should be solemn,” Villena said.

A anti-jueteng critic, Villena, whose diocese covers the civil provinces of Quirino and this province, said that gambling is also the usual cause of misunderstandings or quarrels among gamblers in  wakes, and may even lead to tragic incidents.

The outspoken cleric said that he did not consider so-called “fund  raising” as reason for holding gambling activities during wakes.

“I know that bereaved families usually approve gambling activities during wakes to raise additional funds for the funeral and other needs. But this is not justified. We should instead rekindle the spirit of  helping each other in time of bereavement and crisis,” he added.

Villena’s statement came after a Catholic parish in neighboring Bontoc-Lagawe vicariate issued a pastoral policy enjoining its faithful  not to allow gambling during wakes for their dead.

The Lagawe parish even threatened not to officiate last rites or final sacraments to dead persons whose families allow gambling during their wakes.

Father Valentine Dimoc, director of the Social Action Center of the parish of Lagawe, Ifugao’s capital town, said that such policy is part of their parish contributions to the whole Church’s efforts against any form of gambling in the country.

However, Church officials said that family members could defy the pastoral policy and go on with the usual practice of gambling during wakes of their departed loved ones at the risk of not getting  Church-officiated last sacraments.

Villena said that he is now mulling to propose before the CBCP the possible adoption of a pastoral policy to ban gambling during wakes.

Villena, however, said that he would not go to the extreme of withholding final rites to dead faithful, whose families allowed gambling during their wakes.

“I don’t think it is right to deprive any faithful Catholic of the last sacraments just because their family allowed gambling during his or her wake. Discouraging it is enough. Education is the key here since the Church policy is against gambling,” he said.


Merci in jeopardy


Perry Diaz

For the second time in two years, Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez will soon be facing impeachment charges against her in the House of Representatives. But this time around, with her protector — former President and now-Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — no longer in power, Gutierrez would be dealing with a House dominated by a coalition allied with President Benigno Aquino III.

Recently, in an attempt to defend herself from calls for her resignation, Gutierrez held a press conference where she defiantly declared: “There is no law that says you should resign if you have a case. There would be no due process.” She said she is ready to face an impeachment trial in the Senate.

During the first impeachment complaint against her in March 2009, she arrogantly said, “I have my mandate, I have my term and I believe this is my duty, my service to our countrymen.” With the word “my” repeated four times in one sentence, one wonders if she really cared much about what her “mandate” was all about.
When Gutierrez took office on December 1, 2005, she declared, “I will be merciless to the grafters… no one can bribe me!” But within eight months, “Merci,” as her friends and associates affectionately call her, was accused of being too merciful to influential people suspected of graft and corruption. On July 31, 2006, the Malaya editorial said: “The Office of the Ombudsman has become a joke after Merceditas Gutierrez, a classmate of Mike Arroyo, succeeded Simeon Marcelo. How many big-time corruption cases have been sleeping the ‘sleep of the dead’ on the desk of Gutierrez?”

Appointed to a seven-year term of office by Arroyo, the constitution stipulates that the Ombudsman can only be removed from office “on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”

What made the impeachment complaint extraordinarily unusual is that Gutierrez, as the Ombudsman, is the “Tanodbayan” — literally, the “Protector of the People” — who is duty-bound to prosecute corrupt public officials who use their positions to enrich themselves. That’s her mandate. If she fails to perform her mandate, then she will be derelict of her constitutional duty to “protect the people.” That would be tantamount to “betrayal of public trust,” an impeachable offense.
Prior to her appointment as Ombudsman, Gutierrez was appointed by Arroyo as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Chairman of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission — or Anti-Corruption Czar — in December 2004. Her two concurrent appointments made her one of the most powerful officials in the Arroyo administration.

But it was during Gutierrez’s “czarist” days that corruption dramatically increased. In 2004, before she became the Anti-Corruption Czar, the Philippines was the fifth most corrupt country in Asia. In 2005, during her first “czarist” year, the Philippines became the third most corrupt country in Asia. In 2006, during her first year as Ombudsman, the country moved up to second most corrupt country in Asia. In 2007 and 2008, the country became the most corrupt country in Asia. In 2009, the country improved to sixth place. In 2010, however, it moved up to fourth most corrupt country on a list of 16 Asian countries.
The basis for the first impeachment complaint against Gutierrez involved at least five cases of corruption in high places, which Gutierrez allegedly failed to investigate or prosecute.

Although then-president Arroyo had publicly distanced herself from the impeachment complaint against her three-time appointee and friend of her husband, many believed that Arroyo pressured — or bribed — most of those who signed the impeachment petition to withdraw their signatures. As a result only 30 congressmen’s signatures remained on the petition, which was not enough to meet the one-third minimum requirement for an impeachment complaint to progress.

This time around, with ex-president Arroyo incapable of protecting Gutierrez, impeachment seems imminent. Last March 15, 2011, the House Committee on Justice submitted its final committee report and the Articles of Impeachment to the House Committee on Rules, which found probable cause to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez for “betrayal of public trust.” The report’s prefatory statement says, “When an impeachable officer is no longer able to faithfully discharge his duties and protect the highest interests of the Republic, the fundamental law grants one remedy to vindicate the people’s will and restore the trust in their government. That ultimate sovereign remedy is impeachment by the popular branch of government.”
This is squarely in line with the provision of Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, which states: “The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”

The Articles of Impeachment contain six allegations against Gutierrez, to wit:
1. Inaction of the Ombudsman in the matter of the fertilizer fund scam;
2. Inaction of the Ombudsman in the matter of the MegaPacific deal;
3. Inaction of the Ombudsman in the matter of the Euro Generals;
4. Unreasonable failure to take prompt and immediate action on complaints filed against
various public officials, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and
Jose Miguel Arroyo with regard to the NBN-ZTE broadband project;
5. Inexcusable delay of the Ombudsman in conducting and concluding its investigation
into the wrongful death of Ensign Philip Andrew Pestaño aboard a Philippine navy
vessel; and
6. The Office of the Ombudsman has performed dismally as shown by the low
conviction rate achieved by the office. It is expected that the Articles of Impeachment – House Resolution 1089 -- would be debated and voted upon in a plenary session of the House the week before Congress goes into its month-long Holy Week recess on March 25. It would take at least 94 votes – or 1/3 of the 283-member House – to impeach Gutierrez. However, it is anticipated that as many as 150 congressmen would vote for impeachment.
Once the House impeaches Gutierrez, the next -- and final -- step is a Senate trial where Gutierrez would either be convicted and removed from office or absolved. The Senate trial is expected to start in May after the recess. It would take at least 16 votes – or 2/3 of the 23-member Senate -- to convict Gutierrez. However, with Sen. Ping Lacson still out of the country, there will only be 22 senator-judges on hand to render a verdict. The question is: Can Gutierrez convince eight senator-judges to absolve her or can the House prosecutors convince 16 senator-judges to convict her? It’s going to be a toss-up either way. But my take is that the outcome would be decided by one vote.

Unless a cork plugging a bottle is removed, the content of the bottle will not flow out. Similarly, for as long as Merci Gutierrez remains as the Ombudsman, corruption cases will be bottled up and justice will not be served.It’s time for Merci to have her day in the “people’s court.” Mercy or no mercy? --


Giving autonomy a chance

Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- “It’s high-time for us to give autonomy a chance to show itself. Release this horse to the open so we can see its real color and character. It may turn out to be a winner, after all.”

With that metaphor, anthropologist and teacher Ike Picpican last Monday explained why there’s a renewed push for autonomy in the Cordillera led by Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan, who was designated chair of the committee to draft the organic act.

“Instead of dwelling on pessimism, let’s give the horse a try, believing in the good faith and wisdom of those who will draft the organic act for autonomy,” Picpican said at a forum last Monday with members of the committee on indigenous peoples of the Regional Development Council. “As the rider, we can harness the horse, rein it in if it’s going wayward,” the Picpican said.

Committee chair Amador Batay-an, also the regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, explained that autonomy will empower the region to act on issues peculiar and pressing to the Cordillera but which it could not under the present administrative set-up.

He said that even with the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), “we are saddled with the same concerns”, referring to national policies not applicable to the Cordillera because of the region’s peculiarities.

Specifically, he cited a 2006 agreement between Mt. Province and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that would have allowed traditional owners of pine tree stands in the province to harvest what they planted for their domestic needs.

“We had formulated the rules but the final draft was signed only last week,” he lamented, adding this still needs confirmation by the NCIP and the DENR in the national level.

Earlier, DENR regional executive director Clarence Baguilat noted that the peculiarities of the Cordillera necessitates an autonomy structure for the region to address its own priorities that fall outside national concerns and standards.

Specifically, he lamented that while the protection and conservation of the Cordillera pine and mossy forests is crucial to the region’s role as watershed cradle, there is hardly support for the program, given the DENR’s national focus on massive reforestation.

Agriculture regional director Lucrecio Alviar also noted the region hardly gets funding for its upland vegetable production because of the national priority on corn and rice production.

“We have already learned our lesson from the two exercises,” Picpican said, referring to the rejection in two plebiscites of the of two previous autonomy charters, with only Ifugao voting for the first and only Apayao adopting the second.

A survey done by the RDC showed rejection was partly due to lack of information and knowledge on the shape and form of autonomy the Cordillera was to venture into. To address the mistake, the committee to draft the third autonomy organic act adopted five principles as bases for the said charter.

“These principles will explain, so to speak, what horse we’re talking about and offering,” Domogan said in earlier consultations to gather inputs to the organic act.

These principles are on the establishment of a permanent regional identity for the Cordillera, non-diminution of benefits and powers under the present regular administrative region, continuous national budgetary allocation for government line agencies in the region, national annual subsidy for the autonomous region over and above its regular allocation for a period of 10 years, and sustained budgetary support thereafter.

Under the first principle, “the exploitation, exploration, development, enjoyment and utilization of natural resources found in the CAR shall be under the control, permission and supervision of the regional government upon due consultation, except with respect to uranium, coal and petroleum which shall be under the control and supervision of the national government.”

Following an autonomy-within-autonomy structure, the drafting committee emphasized that “the autonomy and independence of each local government unit included in the regional government shall remain”.

This means, Domogan said, that the provinces will continue to have their own governors and representatives in Congress, vice-governors; the cities and towns their own mayors down to councilors and the barangays their own punong barangay and kagawad.

On the subsidy from the national government, the drafting committee proposed P10 billion annually for the first five years and P5 billion annually for the next five years, or a total of P75 billion.

Domogan said equal sharing of the subsidy by dividing it into eight (six provinces, the city of Baguio and the regional government) would be practical compared to the formula used for the Internal Revenue Allotment, which is based on population and area of each local government unit.

He noted that because of its relatively small population and area, the Cordillera receives much less IRA compared to the other regions of the country, resulting in its slow development despite being a major resource base for national progress.

“This discrepancy in development is precisely the reason for the constitutional provision for the establishment of autonomy in our region,” he said. “Autonomy will give the national government legal basis for extending support to us over and above what we are receiving under an administrative set-up which is supposed to temporary and mandated to flesh out autonomy,” he said.

Summing up the push, Picpican noted the only way to know whether the horse is a winner or loser is to ride it. “If we ride it and it does not run, then we can condemn it to the slaughterhouse, but not before we try it,” he cautioned. ( for comments).


Japan, 2:46 pm, March 11, 2011

March Fianza

Mayor Jin Sato of Minamisanriku, a quiet fishing community in Japan, just finished talking to the town assembly about increasing tsunami awareness when the M8.9 earthquake hit the area at 2:46 PM, Friday last week (March 11, 2011).

A little over half an hour, 30 to 60 feet high tsunami waves flowed through this town of 17,000 residents. Government officials say the ocean could have swallowed around 10,000 people that included even those who reached higher elevations.

In Otsuchi, a fishing town in Iwate Prefecture on the northeastern part of Japan, the Red Cross reported that around 9,000 people that is more than half the town’s population perished.

These are a few of thousands of images brought to us through TV news broadcast. For those who do not have access to live TV broadcast and so are also unable to visualize what tsunamis can do to communities, let me share a list of the number of persons – missing or killed, as of last Thursday, that I got from CATDAT (Catastrophe Database) Earthquake Report.

CATDAT (Catastrophe Database) estimated loss after Japan tsunami: US$100 billion plus; evacuation numbers as of 4pm, Tuesday (March 15, 2011): Iwate Prefecture – 51,553 people – more than 345 locations; Gunma Prefecture –23,046 people –284 places; Aomori Prefecture – 20 places – 439 people; Fukushima Prefecture – 446 places – 131,665 people;

Tochigi Prefecture – 149 places – 9,530 people; Miyagi Prefecture -1227 places – 222,479 people; Ibaraki Prefecture – 217 places – 12,347 people; Niigata Prefecture – 4 places – 253 people; Yamagata Prefecture – 44 places – 1,253 people.

This recent release shows approximately 453,000 people have evacuated.
The current official toll is of 3771 people killed and 8181 missing – approximately 12,000 people.

At least 1.6 million families are still without water (320,000 families in Fukushima Prefecture, 290,000 families in Miyagi, 110,000 families in Iwate, and 670,000 families in Ibaraki).

The north-eastern coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu, called Sanriku, has experienced four destructive tsunamis in the last 115 years, and with more loss of life than any tsunami-prone region in Japan or perhaps the world.

Huge numbers of people are still missing (much more than the official statistics). The receding waves did pull a lot of people in the ocean. Those drowned people are being gradually returned by the Ocean. Various reports from rescuers are stating that a lot of bodies are being found on the beaches.

Search and rescue personnel from at least 10 countries are beginning search and rescue operations in the affected zones. The Search and Rescue teams who arrived today are coming from USA, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, China, New Zealand, Britain, Australia and Mexico.

Some 2,000 bodies have been found on two shores in Miyagi prefecture. About 1,000 bodies were found coming ashore on Miyagi’s Ojika Peninsula and another 1,000 are in the town of Minamisanriku, where the prefectural government has been unable to contact about 9,500 people, or about 60% of the local population.

Nearly 600,000 people have been temporarily relocated in 2,000 shelters. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan held a policy meeting that has vowed to provide ample liquidity to financial the system. It has extended a total of 55 billion Yen to 13 financial institutions in the quake-struck north-east of Japan since Saturday.

The earthquake triggered a tsunami up to 10 meters. Waves swept away homes, crops, vehicles and submerged farmland.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have risen above the safety limit but says this posed no “immediate threat” to human health. An explosion blew the roof off at reactor No. 1.

Chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano says there is the risk of an explosion at another building housing the No. 3 reactor, although this is unlikely to affect the reactor’s core container.
Authorities have set up a 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and a 10km zone around another nuclear facility close by.

Almost 2 million households are still without power – with possibly more.
The Nuclear safety agency rates the incident a 4 on the 1 to 7 International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, less serious than Three Mile Island, which was a 5, and Chernobyl at 7.

Around 2,500 tourists visiting the hardest hit tsunami and earthquakes areas are still unaccounted for while 1,600 tourists have been confirmed as safe. Among the missing were mainly Japanese tourists but also people from many other countries.

More than 80,000 people living near the Fukushima Nuclear Plants were told to evacuate. The news agency reported Tuesday that the new death toll marks the first time since 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake struck, that a natural disaster has killed more than 10,000 people in Japan.

However, some incredible stories of survival are still emerging from Japan, and about 25,000 people have been rescued. On Tuesday a man in his 20s was pulled alive from the rubble, 94 hours after the quake, after a two-storey house collapsed around him.

Two hours later a 75-year-old woman was rescued, suffering from hypothermia but otherwise uninjured. The stories of hope following the devastation are far outweighed by the mounting death toll, however.

Hundreds, if not thousands of bodies have been washing up on Japan's northeast coast, many of them still unidentified. The total death toll is expected to rise to 10,000. And four days after the earthquake and tsunami, it's believed that 6,000 people are still without shelter, food, water and heat -- many of them in isolated areas still entirely cut off from the outside world.

Around 1,300 people were found on the island of Oshima, in Miyagi prefecture, Kyodo News reported. Another 7,000 to 8,000 people had taken shelter in schools but had still not received any supplies.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called it the greatest crisis the country has faced since the Second World War. Authorities were also running out of coffins to bury the dead. In Fukushima prefecture, officials say the town of Soma’s local crematorium was unable to handle the large number of bodies.

Friday's earthquake has also left millions with little food or shelter, as temperatures drop to near-freezing levels overnight. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured and running out of medicine and supplies.

Indonesian geologist Hery Harjono said Japan's death-toll projection was too conservative. He said, it would be “a miracle really if it turns out to be less than 10,000.”
He noted that many victims may have been swallowed by the sea as what has happened when the 2004 tsunami struck Aceh Province, Indonesia where about 230,000 people died but only 184,000 bodies were ever found. –


Vigan play features World War 2 heroines

Freddie G. Lazaro

VIGAN CITY -- The city government here has produced a stage play drama – zarzuela entitled: Babae ng Digmaan to pay tribute to the two women, who were instrumental for the saving of century – old Spanish houses from possible destruction during the World War 11.

The zarzuela was shown last week at the Vigan Culture and Trade Center as one of the highlights on the city’s celebration of National Women’s month with the presence of Mrs. Emiko Narioka-Lim, the only child of Japanese soldier officer Major Sakae Narioka and Belen Castillo, a native from Vigan.

Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Singson – Medina said the production and showing of the zarzuela: Babae ng Digmaan was an expression of gratitude from the city government of Vigan to the family of Major Sakae and Belen Narioka.

“Mrs. Emiko Narioka-Lim, the only child of Major and Mrs. Narioka graced the event and joined the people of Vigan in the tribute to her parents, whose love story spared Vigan from the destruction of World War II,” she said.

Mayor Medina expressed her thanks to Mrs. Emiko Narioka – Lim for gracing the showing. “Thank you for gracing the showing of Babae ng Digmaan as we pay tribute to Belen, your mother and all the women of the war who stood on the side of the men in the fight for survival and freedom,” she said.

The lady mayor disclosed that the making of the said stage – play drama took months of research and rehearsals utilizing the local drama artists in the province as actors and actresses.

“Thanks to the cooperation of our resource persons, the perseverance and brilliance of the writer and director Mr. Sonny Cristobal, composer Mr. Ato Del Rosario, our talented performers and technical crew and most of all, the inspiring and noble love stories of Mrs. Belen Castillo Narioka as well as Adela and the women of the war. This event has made our women’s month celebration in Vigan doubly significant,” she said.

“While we have reaped gains in governance and renowned worldwide as a UNESCO world heritage site, we shall forever be grateful to the parents of Emiko whose love for god, family and Vigan has triumphed over adversities saving our city from the destruction of war,” she added.

According to local historian Damaso King, at the height of the war, the American forces were ready to bomb Vigan because of the Japanese presence.

The bombing was aborted and redirected to another place because Fr. Joseph Klecamf, SVD, the parish priest of Vigan, told the American soldiers that there were no more Japanese soldiers in the area.


Baguio dads deny legalization of irregular vehicle franchises

>> Monday, March 14, 2011

By Glaisa San Gabriel and Geraldine Solicfian

BAGUIO CITY -- The city council disapproved a proposal to legalize illegal vehicle franchises during their March 7 meeting here without casting a single vote.

Earlier, councilor Richard Cariño proposed “legalization of irregular and illegal franchises of public utility vehicles in Baguio City and Cordillera Administrative Region, subject to conditions.”

The measure apparently addressed innocent purchasers of Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board certificates of public convenience victimized by fixers resulting to the “kabit system.”

Under the kabit system, several public utility vehicles (PUVs) are registered under one CPC, resulting into the proliferation of illegal franchises.

Lawyer James Valeros who said he advocated approval of the measure, in a Dec. 14, 2009 letter to the council, revealed there are about 3,000 illegal franchises issued by LTFRB but only around 700-signified intention to have their spurious CPCs legalized.

As early as 1992, the city government had been asking the LTFRB to suspend issuance of new taxi franchises.

Since then, various resolutions, about 13, all urging LTFRB to suspend the issuance of franchises were passed.

However, taxis continued to proliferate despite moratorium suspending the issuance of franchises issued by the LTFRB as early as January 10, 1996 via its memo circular 96-002.

Records showed, through the years, Valeros had been one of the more consistent advocates against proliferation of illegal CPCs in the city, pointing out alleged irregularities committed by LTFRB.

There are about 28,000 private vehicles registered in the city of Baguio according to reports from the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of Baguio, Benguet and La Union.

On top of this, there are about 4,000 PUVs with perfect franchises.

During the council discussion, there was dissent from councilors regarding the proposal.

Councilor Fred Bagbagen who chairs the council committee on public transport expressed doubts onthe committee report saying, “Is it possible to legitimize illegal franchises?”

He declared: “It is not proper for the council to become a vehicle for the legalization of illegal franchises.”

During council discussions, he added environmental concerns should likewise be considered in whether or not the measure should be approved.

Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia said, “It is as if we are agreeing to illegal acts if we were to approve the measure.”

Further discussions on the matter were suspended until the next session.


12 PNP chiefs reshuffled for Cagayan special poll

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– All municipal police chiefs in Cagayan’s second congressional district where a special election was held yesterday (March 12) have been relieved from their posts to avoid suspicions of bias due to their familiarity with local politicians.

The temporary reshuffle of the 12 municipal police chiefs in the second district was in compliance with a Commission on Elections resolution, police officials said.

“Such a move would remove speculations that our police officers are playing politics because of their familiarity with certain local officials,” said Senior Supt. Mao Aplasca, Cagayan police director.

The Comelec also took over from the police the supervision over the firearms ban throughout Cagayan as the special election nears.

Comprising the second district were the towns of Lasam, Abulug, Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Pamplona, Piat, Rizal, Sanchez Mira, Santa Praxedes, Santo Niño and Calayan Island.

“Instead of only the second district, the Comelec (put) the entire province under its control, including the existing firearms ban,” Aplasca said.

A Camp Crame-imposed gun ban has been in effect throughout Cagayan since November last year following the failed slay try on Tuguegarao City Mayor Delfin Ting and a number of killings.

The Cagayan second district congressional post was left vacant following the death of Rep. Florencio Vargas in June last year or a week before the opening of the 15th Congress.

Contesting the post in the special poll were former governor Edgar Lara of the Liberal Party and Vargas’ daughter, Abulug town Vice Mayor Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.


Purchase of SUVs for P’sinan execs defended despite media barbs

By Mar T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- The issue over the purchase and distribution of 16 units of Ford Everest sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to provincial board members has heated up with scathing criticism from the media.

But despite this, 6th district board member Alfonso Bince,Jr. took the cudgels for his peers during a press briefing after the SP adjourned its regular session last week.

“We are very thankful as we are gratified for having been given official service vehicles,” Bince said, saying it was the first time in the history of the provincial government that such a gesture of support was given to the provincial board.

For the first time in 20 years, it’s only now that we are in full house at the session,” Bince said, adding that “SP will show its united posture ready to do battle in times that we are the subject of criticism and intrigue.”

The purchase and distribution of the service vehicles last week drew criticisms from media personalities.

But Bince, the longest-serving member of the provincial legislature, downplayed the criticisms, pointing out that the purchase was done in accordance with audit rules.

“There’s no hanky-panky here, everything was done properly, transparently and in the interest of public service,” Bince said.

Bince said the board had long requested from previous governors, and also to Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. during his first term, on the need of service vehicles for the SP members.

According to him, the governor asked SP members to “just wait for a little time” as there were other priorities which had to be accomplished immediately
In a separate interview, Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan said owing to sound fiscal management and judicious spending, the provincial government was able to generate savings which were used to finance various vital projects, especially addressing the problem on poverty.

It was during the governor’s first year in office that the provincial government’s goat and large-cattle dispersal program was strengthened and gained wide acceptance and support by target constituencies including five women groups.

The Espino administration on its first term, according to Baraan, also focused on the upgrading of health care services where some 265,000 indigent families were enrolled in and covered by the Phil-Health insurance program from a mere enrolment of 26,000 marginalized families in 2006.

Baraan also said since the first term of the Espino administration, the provincial employees were accorded salary increases, four times in a row, up to 46 percent, as well as the increase of provincial scholars from 300 to 2,000 poor but deserving students enjoying support from the provincial government.

The provincial government fast-tracked the completion of infrastructure projects that included rehabilitation of 14 community hospitals, construction of the first-ever dialysis center operated by the provincial government, the repair of school buildings damaged by a series of typhoons that hit the province, construction of asphalt and concrete roads and the beefing up of the broad-based livelihood program that now benefits several hundreds of marginalized families.

The provincial government also purchased serviced vehicles for the Department of Education, brand new ambulances for the 14 province-owned hospitals, seven brand new eco-tourism buses and one coaster, seven reconditioned shuttle buses for employees and vehicles for various provincial offices, among others.

Because of our numerous exemplary achievements, the Regional Development Council has awarded an unprecedented eight major awards to the provincial government including two Hall-of-Fame awards, Baraan also said.

Echoing the sentiment of the other SP members, Bince said vehicles issued to them will be for “official use only.”

“The vehicles are owned by the provincial government and each one of us will have to be circumspect and judicious in using them,” he said.

In thanking the provincial government, Bince said “each member of the SP can now be more of better service, faster and more reliable, with the vehicles which, he added, will also be allowed to be used by their respective constituencies, especially on emergency cases.

Board Member Ranjit Shahani, himself a former vice governor, described the purchase as very timely since, he said, he was just using an old pick-up loaned by his mother, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

“It is true that we have our private cars, but sometimes it is borrowed by my constituents like for instance it was borrowed to serve as ambulance and now that we have this new vehicle, they can also borrow it,” he added.


Oban installs Peralta as new PMA chief

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City -- Newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban presided Friday turnover rites here at the Philippine Military Academy installation of Brig. Gen. Nonato Peralta Jr. as new superintendent of the premier military school.

The event also honored outgoing PMA superintendent Vice Adm. Leonardo Calderon, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 that day.

Calderon, a member of PMA Class 1976, was the last member of his class to retire from the military service.

The change of command ceremony was held 9 a.m., attended by members of the PMA cadet corps as well as faculty and officials of the academy.

The ceremony included a military parade in honor of Calderon and an address by Oban, who visited the PMA for the first time as AFP chief of staff.

Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., AFP public affairs chief, said Oban interacted with cadets at lunch.

“The chief of staff usually encourages cadets to practice the ideals and values of the academy when he has the chance to interact with them,” Burgos said.

He said Oban, who assumed as AFP chief last Monday March 7, stressed his commitment to improve the military’s financial and procurement systems.

Peralta belongs to PMA Class 1979 and was a classmate of Oban.

Prior to his designation as PMA superintendent, he served as AFP deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations.

It was during his watch as deputy chief for civil-military operations when the AFP human rights handbook and the security plan “Bayanihan” was launched.

Bayanihan, which took effect last Jan. 1 and will be in force until 2016, aims to end rebellion through development programs.

His appointment as PMA superintendent was a homecoming of sorts for Peralta, who served as the commandant of the academy’s cadets in 2008.

Peralta also served as commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade in Mindanao and the 50th Infantry Battalion in Cagayan Valley.

Peralta assumed as PMA superintendent amid allegations that some military officers who are graduates of the academy were engaged in corruption and abusive practices.

In an earlier interview, Peralta said he was not pressured by his new assignment and viewed it as an opportunity to correct some perceptions about the PMA.

“It is an honor to serve the Philippine Military Academy… I consider it an opportunity to correct certain impressions on the academy,” he said.


Robredo warns local execs on widespread absenteeism

ANGELES CITY – Governors, mayors and other elected officials should report to their offices, Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo warned amid reports of widespread absenteeism among local executives.

Robredo issued the warning in a directive coursed through the regional and provincial offices of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments, which provided copies to local officials.

The directive covered all elective officials from governors to barangay officials.

“A local government official could be suspended or removed from office for dishonesty, oppression, misconduct in office, gross negligence or dereliction of duty, or unauthorized absence for 15 consecutive working days,” he said, citing Section 60 of the Local Government Code.

He said he issued the directive amid reports of “chronic absenteeism and negligence of local government officials to the prejudice of public service.”

“Some local government officials are either frequently absent or holding office elsewhere, other than their official places of assignment,” he said.

The directive said that in the case of Sanggunian members, “disorderly behavior and absences for four consecutive sessions without justifiable cause,” could subject them to censure, reprimand, exclusion from the session, suspension for not more than 60 days or expulsion.

“Pending the investigation of a complaint on absenteeism, negligence or dereliction of duty, preventive suspension may be imposed by the following officials: the President, if the respondent is an elective official of a province, a highly urbanized or an independent component city; the governor, if the respondent is an elective official of a component city or municipality; or the mayor, if the respondent is an elective official of the barangay,” the directive stated.

Robredo told all local government officials to hold office at “established seats of government – the provincial capitol, city hall or municipal hall.”

He said local government officials “should render full-time service and devote time and attention to the performance of their official duties and should refrain from practicing professions, or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions.”

“They should advance the primacy of public interest,” he added.


Federal state detrimental to Cordillera dev’t, says mayor

BAGUIO CITY – The inclusion of the Cordillera in the proposed Federal State of Northern Luzon as part of the proposals included in the bid to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution will be detrimental to the speedy development of the region once it becomes autonomous.

This was underscored by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, chairman of the Third Autonomy Drafting Committee, citing the inclusion of the Cordillera to two big regions will be a repeat of the previous experience when the local governments comprising the administrative region were parts of Regions I and II.

Being part of a federal state with a much smaller population and smaller land area, Domogan stressed, will result to the region having a lesser share from the distribution of resources which will eventually result to snail-paced development considering that the region will again be eaten up by the big regions in its company in the proposed federal state.

Instead, the local chief executive stressed the best way for the Cordillera to achieve its desired pace of development is gaining an autonomous status considering that it will not loose its existing powers and benefits, especially among local governments, plus the grant of a substantial subsidy from the national government which the region and the local governments could not enjoy in a regular region.

According to him, joining the proposed federal state is just going back to the old situation where the Cordillera will again be left out in terms of development because of its limited population and land area which is the basis in the distribution of the national government’s resources.

Under an autonomous set up, he explained, the regional government will have greater control of the region’s resources which could be utilized to chart its development with lesser restraint from outside forces, thus, there will be faster pace of development, especially with the definition where the subsidy will go.

Considering that the Cordillera has been struggling for autonomous status for over 24 years now, the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, in 2006, has made autonomy its overarching agenda to jumpstart regional development in order to help improve the lives of people in the rural areas.

Domogan asserted autonomy is a tool for development which will benefit the present and future generations of Cordillerans who will benefit from the development that will be brought about by the subsidy to be provided by the national government for the autonomous region once the people will accept the third autonomy law to be passed by Congress.

Domogan warned the failure of the region to avail of the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera might result to the aforesaid provision be stricken out of the Constitution in case charter change will push through which will result to the region loosing its chance to acquire autonomous status to chart its development to the fullest for the benefit of the coming generations. -- Dexter A. See


Nueva Ecija PNP: Stop texts on cult

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija -- Police officials here appealed to residents to stay calm and avoid being used in sowing fears over supposedly false existence of a cult that allegedly killed a number of people in the province.

Sr. Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, Nueva Ecija police director, denied reports about members of an unnamed cult roaming around the province.

Aliggayu said crimes recorded in Nueva Ecija were sporadic and independent from each other.

"They were not an act of a single group and the motives range from robbery, traffic problem and land dispute," he said in a text message sent to various quarters.

The stories on cult, he said, could be a handiwork of people who wanted to destroy the image of the local police.

The issue on cult has caused fear among townsfolk as they became the talk in almost every gathering here and other parts of the province.

It started with reports that a serial killer operated in Guimba town and hacked to death several persons out of mere thrill.

The same story went on in the towns of Cuyapo and General Natividad.


Baguio crime rate down in Feb: PNP

BAGUIO CITY, -- The Baguio City Police Office on Thursday said the crime volume here decreased in February this year despite the more than a million visitors who came for the flower festival and other purposes.

Police Senior Supt. David Lacdan, city director of the BCPO, said a total of 324 index and non-index crimes were committed last February compared to January's total of 540.

"Of the total volume of crimes committed in February, 222 were index crimes. We are also happy to report that our crime solution efficiency improved during the period," he said.

Last month, the BCPO was assisted by other government forces and volunteers in the area because of the flower festival and other important events like the alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy which drew big crowds.

Lacdan said the BCPO tries to maintain the low level if not further decrease crime incidence in this mountain resort through the implementation of more crime prevention measures.


Chavit sets up satellite TV in Ilocos towns

By Mar T. Supnad

BANAYOYO, Ilocos Sur -- Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson has installed satellite TV in all barangays of 14 upland municipalities of Ilocos Sur.

Local officials said with the project, barangay folks will have access on latest news and innovations in the national and international level,

The project was completed last February. Satellite disks can now be found in the barangays.

Kagawad Resurreccion Hinajon of Casilagan Norte, Banayoyo said the project has a big impact on their barangay because residents can now get information on latest activities and programs of the government.

“Since the card is free for one year, our barangay hall is always open to the neighbourhood. Next year the barangay council will set aside a fund for the continuation of the project” Hinajon told newsmen.

San Emilio Association of Barangay Captains president Jun Balbin said the project benefited their constituents in Barangay Sibbibu.

Many residents now usually gather in the afternoon or early evening in their barangay hall to watch national news and issues in the television.

“We already made a schedule of opening the television to facilitate watching. Next year when the card expires, the barangay council will be sharing our own money for its continuity so that the barangay fund will not be affected” Balbin said.

Meanwhile a multi-cab intended for barangay services was turned over by Singson to San Emilio on occasion of their town fiesta March 9.

This was part of a project called Community Health Access Vehicle Intended for Barangay Transportation.

“This is another project of the provincial government for our municipality. This is a proof that our provincial officials never forget us here in the upland municipalities,” said Mayor Ferdinand Banua.


Job vacancies await OFWs, unemployed

>> Sunday, March 13, 2011

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga — Department of Labor and Employment Region 3, regional director Leopoldo B. De Jesus said Thursday over 6,000 local job opportunities await overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Libya and other jobseekers in Central Luzon.

According to De Jesus the Embassy of the United States of America, through its partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment, will be holding a three-day outreach program on March 18-20.

Dubbed “America in 3-D,” the outreach program will be held at the SM North EDSA Mall wherein one of the highlights of the event is the holding of job fair to fill over 6,000 local job vacancies in 33 American companies from various industrial sectors.

“We would like to encourage our jobseekers from Central Luzon, especially those repatriated OFWs from Libya who hail from this region to participate in the said outreach-cum-job fair program of the U.S. Embassy. There is light at the other side of the tunnel” De Jesus said.

Meanwhile, Pampanga Gov. Lilia “Nanay Baby” however, instructed the office of Provincial Labor and Employment in the province to give priority all OFW’s repatriated from Libya.

The governor also immediately release the P10,000 cash assistance to the Capampangan OFW’s and given them priority jobs opportunities.-- FGR


CPA spearheads 27th Cordillera Day in Abra

LACUB, Abra -- The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) is organizing the 27th Cordillera Day celebration here in Barangay Buneg this April.

Cordillera Day 2011 is locally hosted by CPA’s Abra chapter, KASTAN (Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN) and TULBEK (Timpuyog dagiti Umili iti Lacub, Bantayan Ekolohiya ken Kinabaknang, or Lacub People’s Federation for Ecological and Resource Protection), an affiliate of KASTAN.

“As in past Cordillera Day celebrations, Cordillera Day this year will focus on burning issues of the Cordillera peoples, such as corporate mining, militarization, human rights violations and climate change.

This year’s celebration is guided by the theme “Live Out Our Glorious History of Struggle! Fight for Land, Life and Honor!”, explained CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget.

In light of the government’s attempt for a third organic act for a Cordillera autonomous region, the subject of genuine regional autonomy and self-determination will also be a major concern.

Bolinget added that the 27th Cordillera Day will highlight the historic resistance of the indigenous Tinggians of Abra to the logging of their forests by Cellophil Resources Corporation during the years of the US-Marcos Dictatorship, and the lessons drawn from this struggle.
Thus, on the 27th Cordillera Day celebration, elders and tribal leaders will preside over and seal a multilateral Unity Pact to resist mining plunder, human rights violations, and for continuing defense of the ancestral land.

CPA has successfully sustained regional and decentralized celebrations of Cordillera Day for the past 26 years all over the Cordillera, with delegates reaching as many as 4,000 from communities, other regions, and abroad.

The first Cordillera Day was held in Sadanga, Mountain Province in 1985, evolving from the Macliing Memorials from 1981-1984 to pay tribute to Kalinga pangat Macliing Dulag of Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga, who was slain by the military for his leadership against the World Bank-funded Chico Dams, which was successfully opposed by the Bontoc and Kalinga indigenous peoples.


Driver in Cagayan car mishap charged for death of 3 persons

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The driver of a car which crashed resulting to the death of three persons and injury to seven others was charged here last week for multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries

Police said the incident happened evening of March 5 when the right front wheel of a Mitsubishi Strada was busted and rammed a gmelina tree along the national highway in Barangay Mission Road in Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, police said.

Police Senior Insp. Virgilio Dorado, Sta. Teresita police chief, said the fatalities were identified as Jayson Jacob, 31, of Ipil village, and Rolly Tollio, 31, and Reyse Bermudez, 22, both of Sta. Cruz village, all of Gonzaga, Cagayan.

Seriously injured were Victor Rasos and Joey Tacal, 21, both of Ipil Village, Gonzaga; Jovelyn and Orlando Tacal, and Noemi Alicias, 20, of Sta. Maria village, Gonzaga, driver Henson Walter Rasos and Ma. Clarence Arizabal of Claveria, Cagayan.

They were brought to Alfonso Ponce Memorial Hospital in Gonzaga, Cagayan.

Probers said the Mitsubishi Strada car (plate no. ZPF 292) driven by Henson Walter Rasos swerved to the left lane when its right front car wheel got busted along Mission Road village and hit a gmelina tree.

As a result, Rasos was charged for multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.


DA chief urges animal industry to be vigilant against major diseases

By Mar T. Supnad

BAGUIO CITY -- Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala urged officials and staff of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry to carry out more stringent bio-security measures against major animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which has currently affected over three million head of cattle in South Korea.

The measures should be implemented nationwide, covering all livestock and poultry farms, livestock auction markets, meat processing plants, including temporary resting areas of migratory birds, and quarantine check points at airports and sea ports all over the country.

“We must prevent FMD and avian influenza from reaching our shores,” Sec. Alcala said.

“Kung may duda tayo, huwag na natin itong palampasin. At huwag na rin tayong umasa sa dati nating ginagawa, (When in doubt, let us not be complacent. And let us not rely on our old practices),” he said.

He urged the BAI and other DA livestock agencies to put stronger focus on food safety to make the country’s meat, and other livestock and poultry products globally-competitive. Thus, it is imperative to employ hygienic farm practices in tandem with animal health protection throughout the food supply chain, the DA chief added.

The other four DA livestock agencies are the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), National Dairy Authority (NDA), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and the Livestock Development Council (LDC).

Alcala also enjoined the NMIS, in partnership with local government units and the private sector, to strengthen quality standards and ensure the establishment of more world-class production and processing infrastructure like triple-A (AAA) slaughterhouses, and related cold storage and postharvest facilities.

Said facilities should be strategically located near livestock and poultry farms, and corn-producing provinces, as corn serves as main livestock and poultry feed ingredient.

He credited the BAI for being at the forefront of the country’s continuing freedom from major animal diseases, notably FMD and avian influenza or bird flu.

“In particular, our avian flu-free status allows us to export poultry products to Japan, Hongkong, and the Middle East, as well as breeder chicks to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Nepal and the Middle East,” Alcala said.

“At the same time, these favorable conditions offer us a better fighting chance in our bid to become a reliable source of quality livestock products, notably for the global halal market,” he added.

Alcala noted that there is an existing large demand for geese and duck in Japan, while there is much promise in the market for Philippine-bred Peking duck.

He said the country imports an average of five container vans of Peking duck per week to serve the local Chinese restaurant market, while studies have shown that Peking ducks grown in China have the same taste and flavor with those grown locally.

To be more competitive, the livestock industry also needs to make regulatory systems comparable with the best in the world by consolidating its services and improving both inspection and accreditation operations.

“There is also a need to pursue a satisfactory measure of equivalence between national standards and those of our prospective foreign markets,” Alcala said.


  © Blogger templates Palm by 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics