Kalinga radio station bombed; 7 kubradors nabbed in Baguio: Jueteng becoming ‘deadlier’ in NL

>> Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BAGUIO CITY – Jueteng is still up and about in northern Luzon with seven bet collectors nabbed in Baguio last week even as the menace is becoming deadlier with a radio station in Tabuk City in Kalinga lobbed with bombs by suspected jueteng operators.

Police have yet to identify men who lobbed four molotov bombs inside the government-run radio station dzRK-Radyo ng Bayan in Tabuk early morning Tuesday, which a radio announcer said was the handiwork of jueteng operators.

The suspects, who fled on board a green Mitsubishi Delica van, broke the jalousie of a room and lobbed the molotovs, according to broadcaster Jerome Tabangay.

Tabangay linked the recent attack on the radio station’s relentless commentaries on the resurgence of jueteng in the city since May 22.

Tabangay survived an assassination attempt four days after the May 2010 polls after gunmen barged into the radio station and fired at him.

Although he linked last year’s attack to dirty politics, he said jueteng operators were behind the attempt on his life.

A police report said on May 24 at around 1:55 a.m., the DZRK building here at Purok 2, Bulanao Norte was nearly razed by fire but was prevented due to quick reaction of the security guard.

Police investigation disclosed unidentified suspects poured gasoline at the back wall and window of the establishment and dropped two plastic containers of gasoline inside the building through the jalousie window.

Perpetrators reportedly, from a distance ignited the containers with a wooden stick with cloth tied at the tip.

Personnel of local police, Bureau of Fire Protection and a team from the Provincial Crime Laboratory Office immediately responded at the crime scene and conducted an investigation.

They recovered a plastic container of cooking oil, a plastic container of 1.5 Coke filled with gasoline, one wooden stick with cloth tied on the tip and two melted plastic containers of soft drinks.

Police said around 1 a.m. of same day, Paulo M. Dayag, security guard on duty was inside the establishment when he heard unusual sound.

He immediately inspected the establishment and found out that one of the rooms of the establishment was on fire.

He awakened and sought the assistance of Willy Anastacio, radio technician, and put out the fire but the back wall of the establishment was slightly damaged.

Meanwhile, in La Trinidad Benguet, kubradors (bet collectors) admitted jueteng draws were still being done in the capital town although bets were solicited in Itogon and Tuba towns, also in the province, including Baguio City.

In the summer capital on May 24, police arrested jueteng personnel inside the “Bulalohan ni Kapitan Eatery, Apollo Building at Hilltop, Upper Kayang.

A Baguio police report identified the suspects as Emeterio U Amat, 52, of San Isidro, Sta Ana, Pampanga; Roberto G. Angusto, 43, of Iba, Zambales; Renato de Jesus Benedicto, 4,2 of Guagua, Pampanga; Max A. Elgincolin, 36 of Inhobol, Masinloc, Zambales; Luis D. Villanueva, 41m of San Vicente, Apalit, Pampanga; Elmer S. Lumanlan, 26, of Capaz, Tarlac and Cezar G. Vino, 54 of Dolores, Looban City, San Fernando, Pampanga.

Seized from the suspects were jueteng paraphernalia and a total of P708 cash bets.

The suspects were detained at Baguio City jail upon order of Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe.

The suspects claimed their operation was legal and they had documents to prove it but police said such claim should be presented in court and it is up to the court to decide their fate.

The police report said intensified anti- illegal gambling operations were being conducted by Baguio police under the supervision of city police director Senior Supt. David Lacdan.

To date, jueteng operations are also reportedly still rampant in Buguias and Mankayan, Benguet, Kalinga and Abra.

Police earlier arrested Edgar B. Balaoro, 33 in the capital town of Bangued, Abra for soliciting jueteng bets on May 17 at KKL Store located along the public market.

Confiscated from Balaoro was P611.00 in different denominations and jueteng paraphernalia.

NPT sources said the illegal numbers game in still flourishing in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions.

Department of Interior and Local Government officials in the regions were reportedly still silent on jueteng even as an uncle of President Aquino was linked to the illegal numbers game

Meanwhile, sources said police are reportedly just following orders from “higher ups” to go slow on the menace, thus the prevalence of the game which religious sectors said was draining society morally and financially.


Chinese VIPs visit Mountain Province

By Francis Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Consul Tian Qixiang and Vice Consul Li Qingyao from the People’s Republic of China consulate office for Northern Luzon based in Laoag City recently visited this province to foster relations.

Cixiang told Gov. Leonard Mayaen here it is mandatory for consuls and staff of Chinese consulate offices nationwide to visit the provincial chief executives after they assume office under their jurisdictions.

As a gesture of friendship and commitment Qixiang conveyed to Mayaen a replica of a camel that signifies perseverance, commitment and long-life of officials and employees of the provincial government of Mountain Province.

He assured Mayaen a strong and continuing partnership between the government of China and Mountain Province.

Mayaen, on the other hand, thanked the visitors and assured their safety while in Mountain Province.

Meanwhile, the provincial tourism officer accompanied them to the Bontoc museum where they were amazed of the presence of some China wares fabricated during the Ming and Sung dynasties.

According to Qingyao, the Sung dynasty ruled China about 600 to 700 years ago.

He also suspected that long time ago some Chinese businessmen had found their way to trade China wares with the natives of the Cordillera.

In Sagada, the Chinese VIPs and a certain Pablo Pascual, a Chinese businessman based in Laoag City, braved the Sumaguing cave but retreated due to slippery steps caused by bat dung.

According to them, the critical pathway in the cave could be diverted and paved for elders leaving the usual route for adventurers and nature lovers.


Comelec sets vote recount on P’sinan governor tiff

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Ballot boxes from 199 precincts in 32 towns and two cities of this province will soon be on the way to the Commission on Elections head office in Manila for a manual recount of votes under the election protest lodged by former Gov. Victor E. Agbayani.

This was confirmed Thursday by Provincial Election Supervisor Temie Lambino who said the manual recount involving 20 percent of the clustered precincts had been set on June 3 by the Comelec 2nd Division.

Agbayani filed on May 24, 2010 his protest against the election of Gov. Amado T. Espino Jr. who piled up a lead of more than 500,000 votes.


Bishop: vote for Congress rep in IS

By Freddie G. Lazaro

VIGAN CITY – The Archbishop of Nueva Segovia urged registered voters in the 1st District of Ilocos Sur to “go out and vote” on May 28, the special elections set by the Commission on ElectionS for choosing a new congressman.

Archbishop Ernesto A. Salgado said it is a duty of citizens to choose wisely and vote for the candidate who would best represent the interests of the 1st District of this province in Congress.

The position was left vacant when Rep. Ronald V. Singson resigned following his drug conviction in Hong Kong.

“To our people, who are registered voters in the first district of Ilocos Sur; I am appealing to each and everyone of you to “go out and vote” in the set special election on May 28, 2011 to choose the leader that will represent us in congress,” Salgado said.

“When you vote, vote according to your conscience; know the capability of each candidate; and know and study their personality and character. The voice of your conscience is the voice of God.”


12 Cordillera colleges hike tuition, other fees

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Amidst snowballing clamor for moratorium in tuition, 12 higher education institutions in Cordillera announced increase in enrolment and school fees for school year 2011-2012.

Based on a report from the Commission on Higher Education in the Cordillera Administrative Region, seven schools will increase tuition per unit while three others will increase their respective miscellaneous and other fees.

Two schools will only impose their proposed tuition increase to incoming freshmen students.

The CHED report said hike in tuition and other school fees range from 5 to 20 percent.

Kalos MA College in Baguio City reported the highest increase in its tuition at 20 percent, effective first semester this coming school year.

From the old tuition of P116 per unit, students will now have to pay P140 per unit.
The San Pablo Seminary will impose a 15 percent tuition increase and peg the price of each unit at P375.25.

The Eastern Luzon College in La Trinidad, reportedly owned by Korean and Filipino investors, will implement an 11-percent tuition increase while St. Louis College in Bulanao, Tabuk City, Kalinga will increase its tuition rate by 10 percent.

The Luzon Nazarene Bible College will also increase its school fees by 10 percent followed by the University of Baguio at 8 percent while University of the Cordilleras decided to hike its school fees by 7.66 percent.

The Baguio College of Technology increased its miscellaneous and other school fees by 12 percent, Easter College, Inc. – and BVS College by 10 percent but only for the incoming freshmen.

The Baguio Central University will impose a 5 percent increase on tuition for incoming freshmen and the miscellaneous and other fees of the students in the higher levels.

On the other hand, St. Louis University imposed a 5 percent tuition hike for the incoming first year students and 4.5 percent of the students who are enrolled in the higher year levels.

However, 69 percent of the higher education institutions in different parts of the region decided not to increase their respective tuition and other school fees in recognition of difficult times.

Under the CHEd guidelines in allowing higher education institutions to implement increases in their respective tuition rates, 70 percent of the increase must go to the wages and benefits of school personnel; 20 percent to increase the salaries and benefits of teachers and non-teaching personnel; and only 10 percent will serve as the return on investment.


PNP probes bombing of tobacco warehouse

By Teddy Molina

STA. CRUZ, Ilocos Sur – Police are now probing the bombing of a warehouse of a big tobacco buying company here before dawn May 22, destroying a shipment of Virginia tobacco stored in the facility.

Police said the blast occurred at the warehouse of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. in Barangay Sidaoen.

Administrator Edgardo Zaragoza of the National Tobacco Administration asked police to conduct a full-blown investigation of the incident.

He also asked the provincial police headed by Senior Supt. Reynante Partible to extend security assistance to tobacco trading centers to thwart another attack.

Reports said armed men fired at the gate of the warehouse at around 2:20 a.m. yesterday while a bomb explosion was heard simultaneously from inside the storage facility.
The attackers fled aboard motorcycles driven by their cohorts.


Asipulo gov’t uses dev’t in ‘war’ vs insurgency

By Vency D. Bulayungan

ASIPULO, Ifugao -- The local government here is working now with stakeholders to bring development in remote barangays here to eradicate insurgency in this town.

Mayor Eladio Bang-ud said implementing programs and services in remote areas will discourage residents from joining the underground movement.

“We do not want war, we want to live in a peaceful place thus we are exerting efforts to show to our constituents that the government is sincere in providing their needs so as not to be easily swayed by the leftists,” Bang-ud said.

Bang-ud said they submitted project proposals to the provincial government, congressional office and even Malacanang for construction of roads to barangays Camandag, Namal and Cawayan.

These are reportedly favorite dwelling places of the New People’s Army rebels because the places are remote.

The mayor added bringing education in these areas will discourage the youth from being recruited by the NPAs since most recruits are out of school youth.

He said they are lobbying for additional school buildings from the Department of Education.

Bang-ud said the municipal health office and social welfare office are now conducting medical missions and social services in remote areas.

The police force here is also continuing information drive on negative effects of joining the insurgents and vowed to work with local officials in maintaining peace and order in the community.

The local police had also “adopted” schools here by providing sports materials and playing with the youth to let them feel that they are with them in their quest for a better life through peaceful means.


Union pushes P90 pay hike in Central Luzon

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga– Six months after a P24 per day wage hike was approved by the government, labor groups are now asking for P90 across the board wage increase in Central Luzon.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines representatives in Central Luzon filed recently the petition in behalf of agricultural and non-agricultural sector workers before the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment.

TUCP said that the salary increase is needed because of the rise of prices of basic goods and services in the region.

DOLE Regional Director Leopoldo de Jesus said his office is considering the petition of TUCP as “urgent” because of a latest statistics that shows an abrupt inflation rate spike in the provinces covering Central Luzon since last March.


House committee mediates Abra tribes’ boundary tiff

By Robie Halip

LAGAWE, Ifugao – There is hope for peace between the Maeng tribe of Tubo and the Balatoc, Belwang and Masadiit tribes of Boliney in Abra on their long standing boundary dispute.

Last May 19, the Lower House committee on national cultural communities with the National Committee on Indigenous Peoples and Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process facilitated a dialogue between the tribes which may soon settle the conflict.

In the dialogue, the two parties agreed to the suggestion of NCC Chair and Ifugao Rep. Baguilat and NCIP Commissioner Zenaida Pawid to form a technical working group and compile documents on the case for further study.

The TWG will be composed of one representative from each municipality and representatives from the OPAPP, NCC and the NCIP.

The results of the work of the TWG will be discussed in a peace panel that will be composed of key leaders and elders from each municipality to be mediated again by the aforementioned government bodies.

According to Baguilat, this dialogue will be the first of a series that will be conducted on this issue.
He said he hopes that the long standing conflict between the two municipalities will finally be resolved through peaceful means, through the mediation of his committee in partnership with OPAPP and NCIP.

Among those present during the dialogue were Mayor Wilma Gattud of Tubo, Mayor Ronald Balao-as of Boliney, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan members Elmer Gayao Sr. and Rosario Bersamin.

Also in the dialogue were former Mayor Benildo Balao-as Sr., local officials and elders of Tubo and Boliney and Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil of the 2nd District of Pangasinan and Commissioner Zenaida Pawid of NCIP.

This initiative was brought about by a resolution from the Tipon ti Umili Para iti Panangsaluad ti Nakaparsuan, an indigenous peoples organization representing the Maeng tribe in Tubo, Abra, requesting the mediation of the OPAPP, NCC committee of the House of Representatives and the NCIP on the local conflict between Tubo and Boliney through the assistance of the Foundation for Philippine Environment and Philippine Association for Intercultural Development.

The said municipalities had a peace pact (Bodong) in 1977 where they agreed on their respective boundaries and sharing of resources.

Their boundary dispute started when the municipality of Boliney started the survey of boundaries for their CADC application in 1992.

According to the representatives of Tubo, the boundaries stipulated in the Bodong should not be used for the delineation of boundaries of the two municipalities. This dispute was further complicated by the multiple mining applications in the disputed area.

The DENR, OPAPP and the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government, Inc. tried to facilitate the boundary dispute settlement between the two municipalities but to no avail.


4 killed in Quirino bus road accidents

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Four persons were killed while 32 others were injured in two bus accidents in Quirino province last week.

Two people died while 32 others including several children, were injured in the first incident after the bus they were riding plunged into a 10-meter deep ravine in a remote mountain town before midnight May 23.

The fatalities were identified as Evangeline Salac, 53, and Jesus Lianian, both of Quezon town in Isabela. Lianian reportedly died on the spot after the bus of the Northern Bus Lines fell into the ravine along the national highway in Barangay Sangbay, Nagtipu¬nan town.

Senior Insp. Andree Camhol, Quirino police information officer, said the ill-fated bus, one of the few buses plying the rugged Isabela-Aurora via Quirino route, was on its way to Santiago City when it met the accident due to mechanical problem.

“The bus engine’s propeller got detached while negotiating near a bridge, causing the bus to swerve and hit a road gutter until it eventually fell into the ravine,” he said.

The incident also resulted in injuries to 21 of the bus’ passengers, among them Jessa Esteban, 8; Jessie Chavez, 8; Zaira Jane Hoggang, 10; Jayson Agsipu, 11; Jessica Agsipu, 13; Rovelyn Salas, 15; Devine Grace de la Peña, 23; and Vilma Chavez, 63, all natives of Isabela, Aurora, Cagayan and Ifugao.

The injured passengers are now recuperating at the Maddela District Hospital where they were rushed after the incident.

The driver, identified as Roberto Baga and his conductor, Ronald Dionicio, are still at large.

Both are now facing charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide and multiple physical injuries, according to Camhol.

Another two persons died on a separate accident after a Nelbusco Bus Line plunged from a bridge in the remote Barangay Sangbay town in Nagtipunan, Quirino Sunday evening.
The fatalities were identified as Evelyn Salas, 15, of Turod, Quezon, Isabela, and Jesus Cabaldo, 20, of Palanan, also in Isabela.


Vizcaya pushed as next Philippines 'salad bowl'

DUPAX DEL SUR, Nueva Vizcaya – This upland town is emerging as the next salad bowl capital of the country, the Department of Agriculture reported last week.

This after five villages of his town will grow semi-temperate vegetables that can compete with those from Benguet and other parts of the Cordillera.

Among the crops that villages tapped are lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, sweet peas, chayote, cucumber, tomatoes, and bell pepper. They also grow other crops like squash, ginger, corn and adlai.

To date, the DA has already extended a total of P13 million in operating capital, trading post, irrigation, tramline, and other equipment for the program that is expected to develop some 1,500 hectares of farmlands in the province.

Last week, the agriculture department turned over close to P7 million in various assistance and interventions to some 200 farmer-residents in the area.

Part of the P7 million fund is a P3.5 million operating fund from the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC); P3.2 million for irrigation facilities and a tramline; P50,000 worth communication facilities; and a pair of carabaos to help in land preparation.

The amount is the second tranche of aid extended by the DA to the farmers.

Nueva Vizcaya is Cagayan Valley’s vegetable capital. In particular, Dupax Del Sur is the main vegetable producer.


Philex turns over to Tuba infra projects

TUBA, Benguet — Thousands of residents of nearly twelve sitios in barangay Camp 3 here are now enjoying benefits of infrastructure projects turned over to them by management of the Philex Mining Corp. here.

Funded from the company’s social development management program, projects included road concreting, pavement concreting and reinforcement, pathway and railings construction, flood control, retaining wall construction, spillway rehabilitation, construction of drainage systems amounting to over P4.7 million and waterworks and multipurpose building worth P8.4 million.

This year, Philex earmarked P31 million for its SDMP projects with P19 million set aside for infrastructure development in host communities.

Aside from the projects, Philex committed to develop a road leading to barangay Ansagan, one of remote villages in this mineral-rich town, as an access road.

Philex officials appealed to beneficiary communities to cooperate and actively participate in the implementation of the SDMP projects so the company will fulfill its commitment to its host communities for optimum development, especially in terms of infrastructure and sources of livelihood where people will be able to independently live once the company ceases to operate during the end of its mine life in 2017.

Philex is one of the two large-scale mining companies operating in the mineral-rich province and has sustained its status as the largest copper company nationwide despite the nearing of the end of its mine life.


Applicants eyed in AFP camp blasts

By Charlie Lagasca

GAMU, Isabela – Authorities are still investigating the cause of two explosions that rocked Camp Melchor de la Cruz, headquarters of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division here Monday morning.

Authorities, however, discounted the possibility of the blasts being perpetrated by terrorist groups or lawless elements, and instead eyed soldier-applicants who have been rejected.

Reports said the twin explosions, which took place at around 1 a.m. Monday, slightly damaged the 5th ID’s re-enlistment office.

A few days earlier, the 5th ID had finalized its recruitment process with only 245 out of 600 candidate soldiers making the mark.


CSC-Cordillera awards scholarships to 2 workers

BAGUIO CITY -- Two government employees from the Cordillera Administrative Region were chosen recipients of the Civil Service Commission’s Local Scholarship Program.

CSC regional director Fernando Porio identified the scholars as Niño E. Martinez of Department of Education - Baguio City National High School and Wilfred D. Gonnay of Parole and Probation Administration-Cordillera.

Since 1993, the LSP provided government employees with educational opportunities to take up one-year master’s degree in relevant courses.

To become a scholar, one must pass the LSP-masters degree course pre-qualifying test.

Those who pass the test shall also hurdle the CSC panel interview.

LSP scholars enjoy the following benefits: study on official time; relief from all duties and responsibilities during period of scholarship; tuition and school fees not exceeding P30,000; book allowance of P10,000 and thesis writing assistance of P10,000 for thesis program or P5,000 research assistance for non-thesis program and entitlement to receive regular salaries, allowances and other benefits as provided by law for the duration of the grant.

The period of scholarship shall be credited as continuous service, and special incentive of P100,000 shall be given to top 10 qualifiers consisting of P80,000 for tuition, book and other school fees, and P20,000 for thesis writing, research or policy paper and other similar requirements.

Porio said the scholarship may be availed of within two school years after qualifying in the program.

Meanwhile, Porio bared that two scholars from Region 1 opted to pursue their post graduate studies in Baguio City. Mary Grace V. Suyat, Tiep National High School, Bani, Pangasinan and Marian C. Suaso of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, La Union Regional Office will study at the Saint Louis University and the University of Philippines, Baguio City, respectively.


Itogon driver gets life term for selling shabu

BAGUIO CITY – A driver by occupation was recently sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of P500,00 after found guilty of selling shabu.

Court records identified him as Tracy “Bidong” N. Lac-amen, 45, of Itogon, Benguet.

Judge Edilberto T. Claravall of Regional Trial Court Branch 60 also penalized Lac-amen with 12 to 20 years imprisonment and P300,00 for possession of illegal drugs.

Lac-amen was arrested on May 5, 2009 in Barangay New Lucban here after selling a sachet of shabu to an agent of the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

When frisked by arresting officers, Lac-amen yielded three sachets of the illegal drug.

Earlier, the convict was arrested with one Ronald Estipular on March 9, 1998, at Itogon, Benguet, by local police with 2.21 grams of shabu.

On Jan. 17, 2001, Lac-amen was again apprehended for drug-related violations, this time in Baguio.

A little over a year and a month later, on Feb. 12, 2002, he was nabbed once more for illegal drugs,

On August 14, 2002, he was arrested again at Dominican Hill in Baguio with a certain Billy Eustaquio, by city police.


2 robbers held for church heist

SAN CARLOS CITY, Pangasinan - – Two suspected robbers who allegedly carted away P9,000 collection from the Sto. Domingo Parish Church here were arrested by the police Monday night.

Arresting officers nabbed Albert Hiquiana, 21, resident of Del Pillar street and Rommel Padlan, 23, resident of Burgos street, both from this city.

The suspects reportedly forcibly entered the church by pretending to be workers.

The father of one of the suspects is working with the parish.

However, Fr. Winston Estrada, parish priest, is no longer interested to press charges against the suspects. -- EV


40 school buildings to be built in Kalinga

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — The administration through the Department of Education will build 40 school buildings with P38 million total appropriations to be implemented this year to address shortage of classrooms in the province.

Bids and Awards Committee member Romulo Galnawan said opening of bids documents for the first 19 school buildings in seven cluster areas was already completed so that the projects will be simultaneously implemented even before the start of classes this coming school year 2011-2012.

The bidding of the multi-million projects will be preceded by the separate bidding of the Nambaran Agro-National High School, Sumadel National High School and the Division Office pavement in order to synchronize the implementation of public works projects that will help address the inadequate school buildings provincewide.

Another seven cluster schools will be bid out anytime both for elementary and high schools which will be located in various parts of the province in order to complete the procedures required by law in the implementation of public works projects.

“Bidding will be open to all qualified contractors in the province and outside pursuant to the Aquino administration’s policy on transparency and competitive bidding so that qualified project implementers will be the ones to undertake the school building projects,” Galnawan said.

He said the 19 high school buildings, 11 elementary and 10 primary schools are expected to be implemented second semester of this year or earlier depending on the processing of the documents awarding the projects to the deserving contractors.

“This will solve partially the shortage of classrooms in the province which is been a long standing problem of teachers and students in public elementary and high schools,” Galnawan said.

More than 100 school building projects were proposed to be built in the province in order to bring the schools closer to the communities for improved accessibility among the students however, not all were approved by the Central Office of DepEd considering that the agency has to distribute the limited budget of the agency this year to all districts needing the construction of school buildings in order to partially settle the shortage of classrooms for this coming school year,” Galnawan said. “Identification and selection of these projects was based on the on-site validation that determined them as priority.

The funding came from the regular fund of DepEd worked out by Schools Division Superintendent Norma Brillantes.

The local DepEd will include the unfunded projects in their list of priority projects next year so that the priority concerns will be the ones to be addressed prior to the less priority ones.


Pampanga gov’t offers 2,600scholarship grants to studes

By George Trillo

BACOLOR, Pampanga— Here’s a good news for poor but deserving students in Pampanga’s 3rd District.

Rep. Aurelio Gonzales announced additional 2,600 slots for his "Iskolar ng Dong" program for the next school year that will start in June.

Because of the latest announcement, some 2,000 scholarships are now available for high school students and another 600 slots for students in college and vocational courses.

“Our constituents can now be assured that our scholarship program will continue this school year,” Gonzales said.

Since 2007, a total of 18,000 high school and college students have been given scholarship grants in the said district.

The 3rd District of Pampanga covers the municipalities of Bacolor, Arayat, Mexico, Santa Ana, and the City of San Fernando.

Gonzales advised students aspiring to get a scholarship slot in the said program to submit their credentials to his district office in Barangay Sindalan in the City of San Fernando.

He said that indigent students who would like to finish their studies would be given the number one priority.

"We do not look on the grades but on the willingness and determination of the student to finish his studies," Gonzales said.

The Iskolar ng Dong program has grown from 1,200 scholars in 2007 to 7,000 in 2008 and to 18,000 in 2009.

The solon said that he would also open new slots to accommodate more students wanting to avail of the said scholarship program.


PMA remains one of Baguio’s top tour sites

By Lito Dar

BAGUIO CITY – Even with the summer season almost over, visitors and tourists are flocking to the city and the Philippine Military Academy, one of the city’s top attractions, remains open to the public.

PMA Supt. Maj. Gen. Nonato Peralta said Fort Del Pilar is open although visitors will have lesser chances of seeing cadets in action.

‘PMA is always open to the public. Even during week days there are many visitors coming.

However, there are now lesser parade and silent drills on weekends as the cadets are now dispersed to some areas for training. But the PMA itself is a very beautiful place to visit,” Peralta said.

The PMA, the country’s premier military school, has a spacious training ground and modern facilities where it develops physical and mental abilities of students as future military officers.

As a tourist attraction, visitors can explore the PMA museum, the tree house and view deck and walk around its manicured grounds to see vintage tanks and other historical military weapons at the Relics Point.

According to Peralta, for this summer, second year cadets took over handling of the training program for the first year cadets, as the fourth year cadets, who usually handle the program were on officer preparatory courses.

Peralta also bared second class men or the third year cadets were under leadership development in Bulacan. “Their training is relative to army ranger training which is a very tough training. We are trying to make the training harder for our cadets , so that when they go out from the academy they can handle situations easily,” Peralta said.

“Hopefully, when we conclude these summer courses by June, and all of our cadets joined together for a field training exercise, they are all well prepared in doing their respective roles, which is are all in the essence of developing their leadership skills,” Peralta added.

Meantime, Peralta urged the youth to join military service as alternative profession, which is a very good way to serve the country.

Peralta, replaced former PMA superintendent Leonardo Calderon last March.


Conversion of 3 local roads to nat’l pushed

By Susan Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - - The provincial board recently approved a measure endorsing to the Department of Public Works and Highways- Cordillera the conversion of three local roads to national roads to boost the province’s economy.

The board passed resolution 11-132 favorably endorsing to DPWH regional director Edilberto Carabbacan conversion of various local roads into national roads.

District engineer Dominador Daway of Benguet Engineering District II identified these as the Ifugao-Benguet Road or the Buguias-Tinoc Road whose conversion to national road was earlier sought by Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Natubleng-Nabalicong-Pacso-Kabayan provincial road and Madaymen-Kibungan provincial road.

As national roads, there is bigger budget for maintenance making for better vegetable trading and marketing as these roads traverse vegetable producing towns.

Such roads are fitting for conversion, the SP said, as these would be utilized as diversion roads especially during calamities.

When national roads are closed, these local roads need bigger slice of the budget for maintenance.

One of the requirements for the conversion of local roads to national roads is a resolution of endorsement from the provincial board.


MP rebel returnees start receiving gov’t assistance

By Andrew Doga-ong

BONTOC, Mountain Province - The first batch of rebel returnee (RR) beneficiaries of the provincial government’s livelihood program recently started receiving their first provincial financial monthly assistance from the provincial treasury office.

Miguela Angwani of the provincial social welfare and development office said the first batch, composed of 21 rebel surrenderees, earlier signed a memorandum of agreement with the provincial government in February to avail of the livelihood program.

Under the program, a qualified rebel returnee receives a P5,000 monthly allowance on condition that he will render community service in his barangay.

Community service includes day care center improvement, reforestation, health services, securing barangay managed institutions and public schools, maintenance of community irrigations, pathways and roads and other works that maybe assigned to them by barangay leaders.

Aside from community service, RR beneficiaries are also required to send their children who are of school age to school.

The barangay chairmen, signatories of the MOA, are tasked to monitor and supervise the RRs in their respective communities.

Angwani said a second batch composed of five new surrenderees has just signed the MOA to avail of the program while another one is being processed.

A pet project of provincial governor Leonard Mayaen, the RR livelihood program aims to partly address concerns of former communist rebels who returned to the fold of the law.

Mayaen said RRs lost a part of their social standing and that they should be given a chance to prove their worth in the community.

He added special privileges must be afforded to the rebel surrenderees for them to start a normal life.

Executive Order No. 53 issued by Mayaen and ratified by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, however, provides that not all RRs are qualified in the program.

Disqualified are RRs with pending cases in courts involving crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international laws.

Rebel returnee beneficiaries who refuse to send their children to school who are of school age, those who fail to live within the norms of the community and those who continue their relations with the underground movement are not disqualified in the program.


Ifugao solon to P-Noy: Probe slay of IP chiefs

LAGAUE, Ifugao – Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat urgently called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to compel the immediate investigation of the assassination of key tribal leaders fighting to keep the indigenous peoples’ domain over their ancestral domain being eyed by mining and logging interests.

In separate resolutions filed at the House of Representatives, Baguilat, who also chairs the House committee on national Cultural Communities, said that the immediate investigation of the assassination of Florita Caya, general manager of the Unified Tribal Council of Elders and Leaders, and Armando Maximino, a Dumagat tribal chieftain of Delebsong, Dinalungan, Aurora is in keeping with the Aquino administration’s policy against extrajudicial killings, particularly of leaders of cause-oriented groups.

“The assassination of Nang Flor and the killing of Maximino serve as an attack against all indigenous peoples to intimidate and discourage them from pursuing their rights as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution, international covenants of the Philippines, and various acts and resolutions of Congress,” Baguilat said.

“I condemn these acts of silencing indigenous leaders who are struggling to defend their lands and resources from land grabbers and destructive development projects. Killing them will not silence the struggle of indigenous peoples instead will further agitate us to pursue the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples rights in the country and to hold those responsible for these killings accountable,” he added.

An identified gunman shot Caya at the back of her head, instantly killing her, on April 27, 2011. Nang Flor was the newly elected general manager of UTCEL, a group of indigenous peoples (Mandaya, Manobo, Mangguangan and Dibabawon), which was awarded in 2004 with a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title covering 30,468 hectares in 14 barangays in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.

Nang Flor is the third general manager of UTCEL to be killed by unidentified persons in a span of two years.

And according to UTCEL members, the leaders had received threats to stop their activities, including keeping mining operations out of their ancestral domain, prior to their assassination.

Maximino, on the other hand, was shot in the knee last May 17 for allegedly trespassing in a piece of disputed property claimed by the Guerrero family in Aurora.
He was shot by security guards belonging to a security agency owned by the same family.

Maximino, known for his strong stand in defending the Dumagats’ ownership of their ancestral land, eventually succumbed to blood loss, making him the latest victim of the long unresolved land dispute between the Guerrero family and the Dumagat tribe.

About 25 Dumagat families in Dinalungan, Aurora are being harassed and threatened for eviction from their 49 hectares ancestral domain as sometime in 2006 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources awarded 33 hectares to Gregorio Guerrero.
The case was eventually dismissed, however, as the DENR eventually determined that the lot titled to Gergorio Guerrero is null and void and the said agency recommended for the cancellation of the titles.
Despite this, the land is still being occupied by the Guerrero group and the Dumagats have been ordered to vacate their land.
He added that the “chilling effect” on the pursuit of indigenous peoples’ rights over their domain can be thwarted only by a swift investigation and the bringing of the killers of Nang Flor, Maximino and other indigenous peoples leaders to justice.

And as if these killings were not enough, Aeta/Abellen officials of the Maporac Ayta Organization in Maporac, Zambales have been receiving death threats, because of their fierce desire to safeguard their ancestral domain against mining and illegal logging.

Data show that the DENR has issued three small scale mining permits in the area without the Free Prior and Informed Consent of the affected indigenous peoples.

Baguilat has thus filed yet another resolution to direct the NCC to conduct an inquiry on these alleged threats involving the Aetas/Abellens who were awarded the Certificate of Ancestral Domain over their property as early as 1996.

Baguilat said it was crucial for the government to respond to these threats as the indigenous peoples are in a vulnerable position against private interests bent on using their land for their own gain.


Power plants disaster-ready

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet— The firm in charge of the Ambuklao and Binga dams in the province said its hydropower plants are prepared for disasters.

Executives of SN Aboitiz Power Benguet said it recently presented to stakeholders and affected communities operations and maintenance procedures on food operations, dam discharge warning and protocol, and emergency action plan of the dams.

They said these were all in place in both hydro-electric power plants to ensure efficient and systematic service and allay fears of imminent dam-related disasters.


P28 million pooled to energize Benguet sitios

LA TRINIDAD – Several government agencies and private companies have pooled a total of P28 million to bring electricity to unenergized areas in the province to help the Benguet Electric Coop. in the endeavor.

Out of the amount, P14 million will be coming from the SN Aboitiz Power Benguet for Bokod and Itogon towns that play host to the Ambuclao and Binga dams; P9 million from the Department of Energy while Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan will be sharing P5 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund.

Engineer Melchor Licoben, manager of Beneco’s engineering department, said the rural electric cooperative is coordinating with concerned government agencies, officials and private companies for the venture.

According to him, rural electrification is one of the mandates of electric cooperatives, thus, it is should bring power even to remote parts of the country.

Licoben explained the situation in Benguet, where sitios are located distant from each other with only few households to connect.

He cited a recently surveyed sitio in the province where it will take at least P3 million to bring power to such place but there are only ten households who are not even sure if they will apply for electrical connections.

However, Licoben said once power will be available in the rural areas in the province, those who went to the urban centers to look for sources of livelihood will be enticed to go back to their places of origin in order to put up businesses and generate employment for their town mates as well as come out with lucrative sources of livelihood which would spur economic growth in far flung areas.

While part of the power bill of the over 130,000 consumers is earmarked for rural electrification, Licoben said until 2012, the rural electric cooperative has embarked on a massive rehabilitation of its distribution system in Baguio and nearby La Trinidad in order to significantly improve the quality and reliability of power that will translate to much lower systems loss that is tantamount to cheaper power rates.

At present, the current systems loss of Beneco which is being passed on to its consumers is now 9.46 percent which helped the cooperative earned the award for single digit systems loss among the 119 electric cooperatives nationwide that means its distribution systems has greatly improved over the past three decades.


57 deserving students get BARP scholarship

By Nars Padilla

BAGUIO CITY -- A cast of 57 qualified and deserving students will enjoy full scholarship this year from the Blessed Association of Retired Persons Foundation, Inc. in partnership with benefactors.

This was announced by BARP’ president-CEO Federico Balanag last week while acknowledging with deep gratitude and appreciation support of sponsors.

For school year 2011-2012 a new group of 24 student- beneficiaries are enrolled in different college courses at the Benguet State University, at La Trinidad, Benguet, courtesy of Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay of the DIWA Party List.

Rep. Aglipay together with Balanag and Dr. Juliet Bagano, chairperson of BARP students scholarship committee will present the scholarship certificates to students during the foundation’s general assembly set at the Burnham Athletic Oval Bleechers on May 28.

The lady lawmaker is also the guest of honor and speaker for the occasion.

In consonance with provisions of the scholarship, each student will receive P5,000 for miscellaneous expense per semester aside from enjoying full payment of their tuition.

In related development, a group of ten students are also under the foundation’s scholarship offering sponsored by Rep. Bernardo Vergara.

The names of the successful applicants from the list submitted by the BARP will be known next week.

The scholars are either children or grandchildren of bonafide members of the BARP foundation with good standing according to Balanag.

The first batch of 24 academic scholars under the foundation’s sponsorship started last year.

They were enrolled at University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, BSU or at the Data Center. One graduated from the National Institute of Information Technology last year after finishing a computer technology course.

Another student now enrolled at BSU for a mass communication degree is sponsored by BARP member Evangeline Ariaga.


Manhunt on for killers of DPWH, Cafgu personnel

CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Police are now conducting manhunt operation against the suspects who killed an army militiaman and a Department of Public Works and Highways employee of Abra last week.

The victim identified as Jay Bringas y Batitao, 25, married, Citiznes Armed Forces Geographical Unit member of Barangay Labaan, Bucloc, Abra was shot in their detachment at the 77 Infantry Battalion at Longboy, Sallapadan, Abra May 26, 2011 at about 5:15 a.m.

The victim sustained a gunshot wound on his chest that caused his death.

Government troops pursued the suspect, a New People’s Army hitman who fled towards the forested area of Sitio Lam-awan, Barangay Bazar, Sallapadan, Abra.

The incident was allegedly perpetrated by the assassin under a certain Aka Tubong.
The victim’s body was brought to the capital town of Bangued for autopsy.

In a separate incident , a driver of the DPWH was shot at Rizal St., Zone 7, Bangued on May 25 at about 8:30 p.m. by still unidentified perpetrators.

The victim was identified as Rienel B. Rainer Benedito, 40, married, and resident of Zone 5, Bangued.

Initial investigation disclosed that the victim was driving a black Honda XRM 125 with plate number IQ 2882 traversing northward when he was shot by a two men riding in tandem in a Honda XRM colored blue without plate number resulting to multiple gunshot wounds on his body.

He was rushed to the Abra Provincial Hospital but expired while undergoing medical treatment.

One of the suspects was described as medium built and wearing black ball cap while the other was wearing dark shirt, slim and bald.

They sped north after the crime. Police recovered five bullets of Ca .45 from the crime scene.

A dragnet operation was conducted but the suspects eluded arrest.


Mayor slams CJHDevco ploy to elude payment

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan has slammed the Camp John Hay Development Corp. for using fault-finding strategy to elude payment of its lease rentals to the government arising from a thrice-revised contract to develop the former American military facility into a mix commercial-industrial use.

During a recent executive committee meeting at Baguio City Hall, Domogan dismissed as “negligible and a non-issue” CJHDevco’s complaint that the One-Stop Action Center (OSAC) put up by the John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC) to facilitate acquisition of documentary requirements of Camp John Hay locators was either non-operational or ineffective.

The JHMC, a subsidiary of the state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), was created to oversee the property’s development into a special economic zone.

The BCDA was mandated through a legislative act to spearhead the transformation of former United States military bases in the Philippines, as well as Philippine military facilities with Metro Manila, into growth centers in partnership with private business.

Domogan stressed that the CJHDevco should not use the OSAC issue as an alibi for non-payment of its contractual obligations to BCDA.

Obviously irritated by CJHDevco’s fault-finding tactic, Domogan also branded as “funny and stupid” the real estate developer’s complaint about alleged non-issuance of building permits to Camp John Hay locators.

The Mayor aired concern over the controversies hounding the Camp John Hay development, saying he hoped it could be resolved “as soon as possible” so development efforts at the former American rest and recreation facility could move on.
Mayor Domogan asked CJHDevco to submit their position paper on the rental issue after BCDA presented to the joint Executive-Legislative Committee the current status of CJHDevco’s financial obligations to the government.

Dean Santiago, BCDA vice president for project development presented a detailed report on CJHDevco’s current rental arrears and interest on past due obligations amounting to P272 million as of March 2011.

CJHDevco representatives apparently came to the meeting empty-handed, and asked for a two-week grace period to prepare its comments on the BCDA report.

But the Mayor declined the CJHDevco bid, hinting that two weeks is too long just to come up with a comment on the BCDA report, adding later on that they don’t even have to conduct another executive meeting on the topics already taken up.

Baguio gets 25 percent of the lease rental payments by CJHDevco pursuant to some pre-conditions set by the local government unit in connection with the Camp John Hay development.


Baguio eyed next sports capital of the country

By Redjie Cawis

BAGUIO CITY – This city is being eyed as the next sports capital of the country where world-class athletes could train.

Pambansang Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party list Representative Mark Sambar said Baguio, with its cool climate and good weather would be a good place for building a new sports complex with complete sports facilities.

He added the city also could be a very good venue for high altitude training grounds since it is where 8th division world champion congressman Manny Pacquiao and the Azkals football team trained before competing internationally.

Sambar during a recent visit here said they are looking for a new training venue for athletes.

This is one of the thrusts of the party list PBA, he said.

Sambar said other sports facilities in the country are now not suitable as training grounds of athletes.

The Rizal Sports Complex, which has always been home to Filipino athletes, is too old and now dilapidated.

Its facilities are not complete and it is not a nice place any more, he said.

He described the area as traffic-prone and polluted. It also became congested through the years. It is not conducive for the use of athletes.

The congressman said it is too bad that the Philippine Azkals Football Team who had home advantage during its previous matches, could hold not games in the country since there are no available football stadiums.

Sambar said when the city will have a sports complex this could be a chance for other national and international athletes to hold trainings and sports events.

Sambar though said he had hesitations with the problem on the accessibility of the Loakan Airport.

Sen. Miguel Zubiri, in his visit to the city a few month ago, also proposed a world-class sports complex to be built in the city to cater to athletes.


Atok farmers appeal for water pumps

By Redjie Cawis

ATOK, Benguet - Farmers here are requesting water pumps for their farmlands so these would not be affected even by long dry spells particularly during summer.

Vice mayor Marson Lay-at said dry seasons affect quality and quantity of vegetables.

Atok is one of the biggest producers of highland vegetables being transported to La Trinidad in this province and Baguio City and to market outlets in the Manila and other parts of the country.

Lay-at said there are water sources in the barangays such as creeks and streams but many farmers do not have water pumps and watering hoses to supply water to farmlands in the upland barangays like Paoay and Sayangan.

The low-lying barangays of Naguey and Pasdong have already been irrigated.

At the moment, farmers are manually carrying water from the source up to their farmlands, he said.

Lay-at said they have asked the National Irrigation Authority for water pumps and water source installation in their municipality and they are hoping this will be answered soon.

They have also sought assistance from the provincial government and other government agencies to help them with their problem.

During extremely cold days from December to February, Atok farmers experience frost bites on their vegetable farms.


Ifugao ‘food of the gods’ rice invading markets

LAGAWE IFUGAO, Philippines -- The local Ifugao rice Tinawon, locally called the “food of the gods” is now being packaged locally and for abroad for premium price.

Identified as the One Town One Product (OTOP) of the municipalities of Hingyon and Banaue, the tinawon variety is a high value crop which is grown in high elevation terraced areas of the province which is now in demand in local and international markets because of its aroma and quality which other rice varieties do not have.

Local officials of these two towns are assisting farmers to intensify production and meet demands of the market considering that more individuals are patronizing the native rice considering that it is organically grown.

Records from the provincial government showed a total of 27,851 hectares are planted with tinawon in the irrigated rice paddies in Banaue and other municipalities.

The Department of Trade and Industry said total production reached as high as 27,851 metric tons thereby giving a big lift to the local rice production which is the major source of livelihood of the people.

Hingyon exported 700 kilos of tinawon through RICE Inc., a non-government organization assisting the farmers to ship the product to the United States while the Banaue cluster site was able to produce and export 2,040 kilos.

The produce generated P102,000. Organic markets in Metro Manila are also interested in selling Ifugao rice.

Ifugao mythology said tinawon is the rice of the Ifugao gods.

Folklore has it that it was bequeathed to an Ipugaw (man of the earth) in exchange for fire.

From then on, the Ifugaos of old planted rice in their terraces but had always acknowledged the participation of the Ifugao deities.

Thus rituals are offered to the gods in almost every phase of the agricultural system of the Ifugaos. The Ifugaos believe that the tinawon is a gift of the gods to the people of the earth.

It is called tinawon because it is only harvested once a year. This medium-size rice grain, ranging in color from white to red, requires six to eight months growth period and therefore can only be harvested once a year.
Tinawon is the original rice variety planted by the Ifugao ancestors in the terraces.


Three men nabbed for murder, illegal logging, reckless imprudence

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Three suspects were nabbed in the Cordillera last week for murder, illegal logging and reckless imprudence.

In Abra on May 20, police of Provincial Public Safety Company led by Insp. Albert Carame arrested a former barangay captain identified as Alexander Y. Ballena , 53, married of Barangay Basbasa, Tayum town for murder.

Ballena was arrested at Sitio Mutit, Barangay Poblacion following a warrant issued for his arrest by Judge Jaime L. Dojillo of Regional Trial Court, Branch 58 with no bail recommended.

Still in Abra, joint personnel of Lagangilang police led by Insp. Lou Salvador Claro and the Regional Intelligence Unit also arrested May 21 Ernesto C. Tumalip, 54, farmer for illegal logging.

RTC Judge Curpoz B. Alzate issued the warrant for the arrest of Tumalip.

In Baguio City, police of Itogon, Benguet arrested Rodrigo S. Zulueta, 30, married and resident of Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio on May 23 for reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property.

Suspect was arrested at Bokawkan road in the city following an arrest warrant issued by Judge Jose Encarnacion, Municipal Trial Court Judge of Itogon.

The amount of P16,000 was recommended for his temporary liberty.


DFA visa mess


President Aquino should question Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. del Rosario on his reported refusal to look into the extortion of overseas Filipino workers to facilitate foreign visas.

Reports have it that the foreign diplomatic community had repeatedly requested del Rosario for an audience to investigate the role of top DFA officials in formally lobbying foreign embassies to issue visas to would-be TNTs (tago ng tago in Tagalog to mean hide and hide.)

But then, del Rosario “categorically refused to listen to these complaints directly from the foreign embassies.” Now pundits are asking if he is shielding top DFA officials and his role in the alleged anomalies.

Here is the modus operandi according to squealers:

Prospective OFWs wanting to go to Europe, but without a working visa, have to dip into family resources (borrow, mortgage or sell properties, or otherwise) to get a visa. The amount involved, according to the foreign diplomatic community, is in excess of Euro 10,000.

Top DFA officials would officially write the foreign office concerned to approve the visas applied for. If the would-be OFWs get their visas, they disappear into the horizon and do not return to the Philippines.

If the foreign office turns down the applications, that foreign office would get a telephone call threatening that the embassy would be reported to the media for unfair labor practices relative to Filipino employees or some other issues -- which are untrue.

In a specific case, a foreign embassy has reportedly suspended its officer in charge of processing visas. This officer is now under investigation. According to pundits, if del Rosario is not involved in the extortion scandal, why has he refused to listen to the foreign diplomatic community?


Separating Baguio from Beneco

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY –The city council’s approval of a proposal to separate this city from operations of the Benguet Electric Coop. and come up with a new electric firm for the summer capital is getting more interesting by the day.

According to Delmar Carino, Beneco legal counsel, only Congress has the authority to grant, separate or revoke the Beneco franchise like any other power firm. He said Beneco was given the franchise as exclusive distributor of electricity to Baguio and Benguet.

Now, the grapevine is that Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara is being persuaded by certain quarters to initiate the ball rolling in Congress to separate Beneco from Baguio. The controversy started after Beneco management proposed that its department managers be given a P100,000 per month salary, a move ridiculed by certain quarters as “usurious” considering that it was even higher than the salary of the President of this Banana Republic,

Detractors added even if P-Noy bought a secondhand Jaguar and uses it at will, it was from his personal funds unlike some Beneco officials or personnel who were issued vehicles and use these even in non-official functions. They said the vehicles could be spotted anywhere in the city even at night.

A piqued councilor Fred Bagbagen said Beneco management was treating the power firm’s money like it was their own personal funds.

The city council, in a meeting with the power firm’s representatives, thumbed down the salary proposal after among other reasons, a Beneco department head said the skyline increase would increase efficiency of Beneco bosses.

Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia asked if the department heads were not efficient since they were not getting yet the proposed salaries. This got a silent response from Beneco representatives. The councilor was gentleman enough not to press the point.

Following these, Councilor Richard Carino proposed a resolution “calling for the separation of the Baguio City electric system from the Benguet Electric Coop.”

Carino said there are technical and economic advantages if the city’s electric system will be separated from that of Benguet. He said the line loss component of the systems loss would be drastically reduced and “this would redound to the reduction of the ‘system loss’ charge of the separate Baguio City electric franchise.”

He explained: “In the operation of Beneco, its average systems loss per month is 14 percent. This means that Beneco is selling only 86 percent of its purchased power from NPC (National Power Corporation) and other generating plants. As a form of recovery of the ‘lost’ energy, Beneco charges a ‘system loss’ charge to all its customers. The system loss charge is now averaging at P0.60 per kilowatt hour consumed by the Beneco customer,

“The system loss is basically composed of distribution line losses and pilferage. The latter is controllable by Beneco, but the line losses are inherent in the electrical system and are controllable only to some extent by the cooperative. The longer the distribution line, the greater is the line loss hence higher systems loss.

“The Beneco system is supplying electricity to Baguio City and the other towns of Benguet. Baguio City, due to population density and compactness is being supplied by distribution lines which are relative shorter than those being supplied to other municipalities of Benguet, say Mankayan in the north. This means that the Baguio City electric system which comprises 80 percent of the total Beneco load contributed a lesser line loss than the other towns of Benguet combined.”

Carino said the city can follow the lead of the city of San Fernando, La Union and the town of San Juan also in La union which are separated from the La Union Electric Coop. (Luelco) and is being serviced by the La Union Electric Company (Lueco) which is said to be operating more efficiently and charges lower electric rate to customers as compared to Luelco because of lower systems loss.

“With the separation of Baguio City from the Beneco franchise, Beneco can now concentrate on the total electrification of the other unenergized barangays of Benguet municipalities,” the councilor added.

To these, Beneco’s Carino said: “We respect the opinions of our officials but this matter must be studied diligently because of its serious consequences. But at this time,” he added, “Beneco will abide with its mandate unless Congress says otherwise.”


Pacman pays ‘curiosity’ call to P-Noy

Perry Diaz

Not long after his victory over Shane Mosley, world boxing champion and congressman Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao paid a courtesy call to President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III at Malacañang. Their meeting went as follows:
P-Noy: Congratulations on your victory, my friend!
Pacman: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m here to pay you a curiosity call.
P-Noy: Huh? Curiosity call? Oh, you mean courtesy call. Right?
Pacman: Same thing, same thing, Mr. President.
P-Noy: Just, call me P-Noy. I’m glad you came to pay me a courtesy call, my friend.
Pacman: Well, it was my bitter half who suggested that I come, Peenoy. How much does a courtesy call cost me? With my P1 billion in winnings I can afford to pay the price of a courtesy call. He he he…
P-Noy: Oh, no! For you, it’s free! Ha ha ha…. Hey, I like your sense of humor.
Pacman: I’m not kidding, Peenoy. I’m serious! Anyway, thanks for not charging me.
P-Noy: You’re welcome, Manny. By the way, how’s your lovely wife?
Pacman: She went to Rome with Paris Hilton.
P-Noy: And you didn’t go? You’re missing a lot of fun!
Pacman: I wanted to go but I don’t know how to act as Roman.
P-Noy: How’s that?
Pacman: As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, since I don’t know what they do in Rome I’d rather not go. Although, I really like to go to Rome to pay a courtesy call to the Pope.
P-Noy: It’s not going to be free, my friend.
Pacman: That’s okey, I can afford to pay the Pope. He he he… I just want to tell him how I feel about making babies.
P-Noy: Huh? Making babies? You mean, family planning. Right?
Pacman: Same thing, same thing. It’s all about planning to make babies, correct?
P-Noy: Well, it’s more complicated than that. I just want you to be aware that I’m in favor of the Reproductive Health bill, which aims to provide natural and artificial contraceptive methods for couples to plan the number of their children. Where do you stand on the RH bill, my friend?
Pacman: I’m against the RH bill, Peenoy! Just to let you know how committed I am in opposing the RH bill I told my wife to stop taking birth control pills.
P-Noy: I’m impressed. You now have four children, right? Do you want to have more babies?
Pacman: What’s wrong with having more babies? Heck, I can afford to raise 20 children! How about you, how many do you have?
P-Noy: I have no kids of my own right now cuz… ah… well, you know, I’m married to Filipinas. I have 94 million children to take care of.
Pacman: Huh? You said during your inauguration that the 94 million Pinoys are your bosses! Now, you’re saying that you’re their father? It doesn’t compute, Peenoy!
P-Noy: It’s more complicated than that. Let me explain…
Pacman: No, no! It’s very simple. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” There’s enough space on Earth for another 50 billion people!
P-Noy: I’m not sure about that. But there’s got to be a way of planning the size of a family, right?
Pacman: As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one way to plan a family without committing a sin. When a married couple has already reached the number of children they want, they should practice cebilacy.
P-Noy: Cebilacy? What the heck is cebilacy?
Pacman: It’s just like what priests do. You know, no sex.
P-Noy: Oh, you mean, celibacy! Ha ha ha… Cebilacy. That’s funny… ha ha ha…
Pacman: Hoy, Peenoy! Are you making fun of me?
P-Noy: Listen, my friend, there’s a better way to plan a family and still have sex.
Pacman: Oh, really? I hope you’re not suggesting to condomize cuz using condom is also a sin. That’s artificial contraband.
P-Noy: Huh? Contraband? Or do you mean, contraception?
Pacman: Same thing, same thing.
P-Noy: I’m not thinking of condoms. Manny. I’m thinking of vasectomy. It’s better than… how’d you say it again? Cebilacy… right? Ha ha ha….
Pacman: Vasec… Hmm… I heard that word before. That’s the same as “capon,” which is what they do to fighting cocks. No way, Peenoy! I don’t want to be caponized! I’d lose my manhood!
P-Noy: Hey, if cebilacy is what you like, so be it. As long as you and your wife are happy, that’s all that matters. Okay, my friend?
Pacman: Okay, Peenoy. By the way, can you be the godfather to my fifth child?
P-Noy: You’ve got another one on the way already? Hey, that’s great! You really are a pound-for-pound champion – vertical as well as horizontal. Ha ha ha… You’re good, kumpadre!
Pacman: Since you’re going to be my kumpadre, I’ll tell you a secret – no cebilacy for me for the next 20 years. He he he….
P-Noy: Twenty years? That’s at least 10 more babies, kumpadre!
Pacman: Yup! And you’d better catch up, kumpadre.
P-Noy: Okay, okay! You convinced me, kumpadre. I’m all for cebilacy now, no babies for me.


Toasting kindness

Ramon Dacawi

The kindness of strangers, her high school batch mates and an aunt who declined to be identified will give 23-year old Sheryl Cacay Degay a two-month respite from the gnawing fear of missing her twice-a-week dialysis treatment for kidney failure.

Degay, ninth of 11 children of a 71-year old farmer and carpenter, came out the other week to tell her condition, hoping Samaritans out there would reach out to her. The graduate nurse admitted her family had long been exhausted – especially financially -, and groping for support for her survival.

Last Thursday, she e-mailed how her high school batch mates (Audie,
Melody, Arrianne, Brenda, Graal, Banagi, Lyn, Esam, Audie, et. al ) pooled and delivered to her P1,800. They all belong to Class 2005 of St. Mary’s School in Sagada, Mt. Province.

Teddy Espiritu of Hawaii come see her with a P10,000 personal support. So did “Manang” Aileen Lomong-oy from Besao with a P1,000 assistance.

A certain Sarah G. deposited P5,200, good for two dialysis sessions, to Sheryl’s Banco de Oro Account No. 5180083428. So did “Ate” Sabel course through the same account P1,000 while VTA International Realty Corp.-VTA Foundation deposited P2,600, the cost of one session.

Sheryl’s aunt Tabuk, Kalinga who requested anonymity sent P3,000 through Western Union, to bring the total to P24,600.

The first response came last Sunday, as soon as expatriate Igorot and karate teacher Julian Chees read Sherry’s appeal through the on-line news from home in his home in southern Germany.

“Just came from a week-end seminar with Master (Hideo) Ochi in Munich and just opened Baguio news and read about Ms. Degay’s situation from your article with Alfred (Dizon),” Julian e-mailed. Ochi is the head of the traditional Japan Karate Association in Germany.

Immediately, Julian texted fellow martial arts teacher Renate Doth to send 440 euros pooled by their students and donors before the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan. Doth is the secretary of Shoshin, a small humanitarian foundation Julian and his karate students in Germany founded in 2004, after they saw on television the devastation wrought by typhoon that struck on Christmas in northern Philippines.

Shoshin, which means “Beginner’s Mind”, is also the name of the traditional karate school that Julian, a fifth dan blackbelt under the JKA, established in southern Germany.

Julian earned his brown belt from fifth dan Edgar Kapawen Sr., now the chief instructor of the JKA-Orient based at theYMCA of Baguio. Prior to transferring to Germany, he served for three years as “uchi dechi” (inside or live-in student) of shihan Kunio Sasaki, the JKAS’s permanent representative to the Philippines and from whom he took his blackbelt.

Chees became the first non-German by birth to be drafted to the German national karate team. For years, he ruled the kata (formal exercise) event in various European and international opens, and later at the World Shotokan Championships in Saarsbrucken.

Shoshin’s 440 euro support, converted by Western Union to P25,792.03, upped Sheryl’s assistance fund to P50,392.03. The foundation of martial artists has so far extended over P2 million for Cordillera patients and calamity victims.

Among those Shoshin reached out to earlier were kidney patients Ashley Sabling and Aelfric Paquitol, lymphoma victim Mark Anthony Viray and two families who lost two children and their common house in Banaue, Ifugao during that December typhoon in 2004.

Sheryl, who finished nursing at the Pines City Colleges here, was diagnosed for total kidney failure last October while she was serving as a volunteer nurse at the St. Theodore’s Hospital in Sagada, Mt. Province where she grew up

After finishing high school at St Mary’s in Sagada, she moved to La Trinidad, Benguet under the care of her elder sister Emmaline, enabling her to finish her nursing course.

The dream-shattering diagnosis came just when she was trying to figure out how to prepare for the nursing board examinations. She felt and showed no sign of her ailment, until family noticed swelling of her face and feet last October.

To survive, she has to undergo twice-a-week dialysis or blood-cleansing session, set on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Benguet Renal Center, within the compound of the Benguet General Hospital in La Trinidad.

Her support fund would have been used up by July or earlier, depending on her other needs that may arise, including occasional blood transfusion.

As we toast the kindness of people out there, others may find inspiration and follow suit. Sheryl can be reached at cellphone number 09068948532 or during her dialysis schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (e-mail:mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments.)


Pangasinan PNP forms task force: Still no letup of jueteng draws in north Luzon

>> Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BAGUIO CITY – Religious and cause oriented groups said there is still no sign of letup of jueteng in northern Luzon and the reason for its proliferation is that local officials and police authorities are “on the take or giving protection” to illegal gambling operators.

In the Cordillera, identified places where jueteng abounds include Kalinga, Benguet (the towns of La Trinidad, Tublay, Itogon, Tuba, Buguias and Mankayan) including Baguio.

In Baguio, Mayor Mauricio Domogan recently said he would ask for the relief of city police chief Senior Supt. David Lacdan if jueteng wouldn’t stop.

But according to residents, the illegal numbers game is still up and about in the city.

Almost all provinces of Region1 (Ilocos) and 2 (Cagayan Valley) are now reportedly also areas where operators are still amassing huge profits

In Pangasinan, following outcry over proliferation of jueteng, police announced Tuesday the creation of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Gambling Special Operations Task Force.

Senior Supt. Rosueto V. Ricarforte, police provincial office director, said the PAIGSOTF will be responsible for stopping the operation of all forms of illegal gambling, particularly “jueteng,” a popular numbers game.

Riarforte said there will be three teams under the task force, each with a team leader and seven members, and assigned to two congressional districts each.

This, as the provincial board is set to quiz the police director of Pangasinan on the operations of jai-alai in the province, as 34 of 48 mayors have issued permits for the game.

Sixth district board member Alfonso Bince Jr. said he is pursuing his earlier resolution opposing jai-alai operations in Pangasinan and its component cities.

The resolution was referred to the board’s committee on public order and safety to conduct public hearings on the jai-alai operations.

But Bince said no hearings were held since the resolution was filed two months ago.

When told about Bince’s plan to invite him to the provincial board’s session next week, Senior Supt. Rosueto Ricaforte, provincial police director, said, “I am not the person who should be invited there but we could provide the board the list of mayors who provided permits to operate jai-alai in their towns or cities.”

He said they, too, were surprised when they learned about jai-alai operations in the province, as the operators were found to have documents showing their activities were legal.

“We could not stop them because we are ordered by the court to refrain from stopping their operations,” Ricaforte said.

“The mayors issued permit to operate (for jai-alai) in their (respective areas),” he added.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. earlier said the provincial government had nothing to do with the jai-alai operations, as the mayors were the ones who issued the permits.

Bince, however, said the provincial board has supervision over local government units “and we are supposed to protect the morality of our people in the province.”

“Therefore they cannot say that this is purely a concern of the mayors and issuing a business/mayor’s permit would be sufficient,” he said.

As far as he knows, Bince said the jai-alai operations of Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. are confined to the Cagayan export zone only.

Bince declined to comment on reports that some influential people supposedly wanted him to go slow on his resolution against jai-alai.

Jai-alai, some sectors alleged, is being used as front for jueteng, which Ricaforte denied.


Ass’t jail warden suspendedfor escape

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The assistant provincial jail warden was placed under preventive suspension for 60 days for the escape of four detention prisoners while two prison guards were preventively suspended for 30 days for gross neglect of duty.

Lawyer Geraldine Baniqued, chairperson of the investigating committee on administrative cases of the provincial government signed and order dated May 2, suspending assistant provincial jail warden Rogelio Paglingayenfor 60 days “for failing to perform the functions and duties in supervising the jail operation which led to the escape of at least four detention prisoners from January to April 2011 and pending investigation of the above-entitled cases (neglect of duty).”

“Assistant provincial warden is directed to immediately report to the provincial warden, for proper turnover/disposition of documents or properties in his possession,” Baniqued’s order added.

Baniqued also put under preventive suspension for 30 days prison guards Vincent Arcelona and Urbana Fariñas for gross neglect of duty in a decision she signed on April 29.

Baniqued also charged administratively with neglect of duty retired police Col. Rolando Diaz, and Paglingayen last April 29.

“On several occasions, particularly on Jan. 7, 2011, Jan. 25,2011 and April 17, 2011, detention prisoners committed at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail managed to escape. The events indicate that you fell short of the due diligence required of your functions, as provincial warden and assistant provincial warden, respectively, you failed to institute both preemptive and corrective measures to prevent the escape, contrary to law,” Baniqued’s letter, stating the formal charge, said.

She said that in effect, their acts diminished the public’s trust and tainted the image of public office to the damage and prejudice of the Pangasinan Provincial Jail, in particular, and the provincial government in general.

She directed the two to submit their verified answer to this formal charge within a period of 10 days from receipt of the order. -- EV


Council: No to huge wage hike for Beneco managers

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city council last Monday approved a resolution “strongly opposing” the proposed increase in the salary rates of department managers of the Benguet Electric Coop from P55,000 to P100,000.

The body however in a separate move “strongly supported” the proposed hike in wages of the cooperative’s rank-and-file employees from grades 1 to 18 as contained in Beneco Board Resolution No. 75-2010.

The aldermen reached the decision after a lengthy deliberation with the department heads of the utility firm led by Human Resources Manager Delmar Carino who maintained that the increase is reasonable in view of the rising cost of living triggered by upheavals affecting the oil industry and the country’s economy.

The Beneco heads also said that the 82 percent increase in their salaries will make their wages at par with those of other cooperatives.

Despite the justifications, the body rejected the proposed increase adopting the sentiment of Councilor Fred Bagbagen, who broached the opposition in a proposed resolution, that the proposed increase is excessive.

Bagbagen said that the National Electrification Administration pegged the salary grade of managers serving at electric cooperatives at grade 20 or equivalent to P35,000 monthly and the proposed increase is over and above the NEA limit.

It also noted that the National Association of Electric Consumers for Reform also objected to the increase through Resolution No. 2011-04 dated March 4, 2011.

The body tasked Councilors Richard Carino, Erdolfo Balajadia and Bagbagen to come up with a toned down version of the latter’s resolution.

Apart from this, Bagbagen also proposed that the city opposes the increase of the Beneco directors’ countryside development fund from P200,000 to P500,000 and to require the power firm to submit an audited financial report to the city government.


Comelec field execs given mandate to disqualify bets

VIGAN CITY - The Commission on Elections has authorized its lawyer-field officials to screen those who intend to run as congressman in the first district of Ilocos Sur, replacing Ronald Singson who was convicted of drug trafficking in Hong Kong, in a special election on May 28.

In Resolution No. 9191, the Comelec said these officials could “hear and receive evidence only for disqualifications in (certain) petitions.”

These petitions pertain to the certificate of candidacy (COC), declaring a candidate a nuisance candidate, and disqualifying a candidate pursuant to Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code and for lack of qualifications.

Under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, any candidate is disqualified if found guilty by a court or the Comelec of having given money or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; committing acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy and spending in his election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the Code, and soliciting, receiving or making any prohibited contribution, among others.

The Comelec said such a policy was conceptualized to ensure “speedy disposition” of cases.

The poll body added that petitions may be filed from May 14 to 18, or within five days after the candidates have filed their COCs from May 9 to 13.

Singson was removed from the roster of the House of Representatives after he was sentenced to 18 months in jail by a Hong Kong court last February for drug trafficking.

The Comelec is expected to spend some P18.4 million to administer the special poll among 161,975 registered voters in the first district of Ilocos Sur.


Scions of school donors want lands back; execs press immediate titling

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The provincial government here is now trying to prevent hundreds of school sites from shrinking in size following effort by land claimants to get back what has been donated by their ancestors the past decades.

Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan said lands occupied by hundreds of public schools in the province are getting smaller year after year, expressing alarm that only about 10 percent of the hundreds of school sites in this vegetable-producing province have titles.

Fongwan said there was need to immediately process proclamations or titles over school sites to stop further encroachments being done by unscrupulous individuals, mostly relatives of those who donated the lands to the schools in the province.

The current problem on the shrinking of the sizes of schools around the province was caused by land claimants who want to get back part of the school sites donated by their parents or ancestors.

Based on data obtained from the Benguet Division of Schools, around 319 school sites have been identified for presidential proclamation or special patent which must be undertaken by the concerned national government agencies.

Delays in the processing of school sites were traced to their falling under patented areas or road-right-of-ways as well as due to the adverse claims posed by the occupants of the said properties.

Three years ago, the Department of Education and Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed a memorandum of agreement that sought to provide for the issuance of presidential proclamations to some 3,000 school sites nationwide that do not have appropriate titles.

This is in addition to the additional 2,000 school sites that still lacked relocation and segregation surveys.


Display of cars-for-sale banned along city roads

BAGUIO CITY – The display of vehicles-for-sale is now prohibited along roads in the city.

The city council last Monday approved on third reading Ordinance No. 15 series of 2011 “banning parking and displaying of all motor vehicles marked for sale” along any road in the city.

Violators will face penalty consisting of fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000.

Even owners of cars with “for sale” marks or other words with the same effect who would park only for a short time along any road will not be spared as agreed upon by the body.

Authored by Councilor Fred Bagbagen, the measure intends to stop the practice of some residents to display their cars with for sale marks along roads for long periods and has become an eyesore.

“It is observed that buying and selling of second hand or used motor vehicles is an unregistered business practice in the city,” Bagbagen noted.

“Since Baguio City is a center of commerce, even people engaged in buying and selling business of motor vehicles from the nearby BLIST area come to display and park their motor vehicles in the thoroughfares of Baguio City for an appreciable length of time thereby depriving other motorists of parking space.”

He said this results to serious traffic problems as other motorists are forced to resort to double-parking.

“If ever the practice of using roads as display areas for business is illegal as roads are beyond the commerce of man,” he said.

As per the ordinance, “all motor vehicles marked or tagged with the phrase “for sale” or in any phrase or words in circumvention hereof depicting the same meaning as to effect sale or swap and any act of disguise to confound detection by authorities shall not be allowed at any time to park the same on all roads of the city.’

The city police is tasked to implement the measure and to strictly monitor roads for said violation.


Oldie sued raping minors

BALER, Aurora – A 78-year-old man was charged before the Department of Justice here Wednesday for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl and her 11-year-old sister on two separate occasions.

Charged for violations of Republic Act 7610 filed before the provincial prosecutor’s office was Dionisio Alarcon, alias Tata Dionisio of Barangay Obligacion here.

Alarcon was accused of sexually abusing Pina and Tina (not their real names) on Feb. 20 and March 26, respectively, in a nipa hut owned by the suspect.

The elder girl said the incident took place when she went with Alarcon at the nipa hut.

She said she slept at the place when her father asked her to accompany Alarcon who was caretaker of her father’s native ducks.

She said that prior to the incident, the suspect gave her money and food and told her they would play “bahay-bahayan.”

The younger victim was accompanied by her two brothers when she went to the nipa hut where Alarcon fed them.

When the two brothers fell asleep, Alarcon sexually abused the victim.

The victim did not immediately report the incident for fear of the suspect who threatened to kill her. -- MG


Vigan mayor backs pay hike

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur — Mayor Eva Marie Singson Medina had expressed her support to the proposed wage hike for workers both in the private and public sectors due to the continuing increase in the prices of prime commodities.

On the celebration of Labor Day, Medina said: “I guess the private business sectors should now share their profit to their workers through increasing their worker’s wages considering that their workers are the key players for the smooth operations of their business or their company.”

In her appeal for generosity among local employers, the lady mayor cited the legacy of the city’s illustrious son, Don Isabelo de los Reyes Sr. or “Don Belong,” who founded the first Philippine Labor Union. -- Freddie G. Lazaro


Frat men fall in Bulacan

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan – Two members of a fraternity group were arrested Tuesday in Barangay Matimbo this town on suspicion of carrying out initiation rites that led to the death of their neophyte member.

Senior Supt. Fernando H. Mendez Jr., acting Bulacan police director, said charges of homicide are being prepared against the two – Marlon Mendoza,18 and John Lawrence Borja, 18, both members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity, over the death of Ronel de Guzman, 20, of Hagonoy, two weeks ago in alleged hazing rites.

Two other fraternity members are still being hunted by police.


Gov orders probe on massive fish kill

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga – Gov. Lilia G. Pineda ordered Tuesday an immediate investigation on hundreds tons of dead fish floating along Pampanga River even as she instructed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s environment committee chairperson to conduct a hearing on the matter.

The governor issued the order as soon as she spotted the dead fish floating in the river as she passed by two coastal barangays in Masantol for a medical mission.

Multi-sectoral agencies are now investigating the matter, said Board Member Nestor Tolentino. -- FGR


Baguio, Benguet solons nix realignment of P‘sinan road

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Lawmakers in Baguio and Benguet urged the national government to ensure that the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will effectively connect Baguio and the Cordillera closer to Manila and the lowlands amidst moves to change the plan of the route.

Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan and Baguio City Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara appealed to Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson not to change or alter the multi-billion project after they were informed by project implementors of a proposal from a Pangasinan congressman to change the plan of the project which would be grossly disadvantageous to Baguio and the Cordillera.

Based on the original plan, the 84.5-km TPLEX which starts from La Paz, Tarlac, will end near Saitan, Rosario, La Union, which will be closest entry to Baguio either via Kennon road or Marcos highway.

Cosalan and Vergara recently learned that former Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Mark Cojuangco asked Pangasinan congressmen and other lawmakers from Northern Luzon to support the realignment of the original route.

Under the proposed realignment plan, the tail of the TPLEX project will be more or less seven kilometers away from Saitan, Rosario, La Union, junction which the two Cordillera congressmen are opposing as it will deprive motorists coming up to the region convenient travel.

According to them, the Saitan junction is a prominent landmark before entering Kennon road or Marcos highway which are the gateways to the Cordillera, particularly Benguet and Baguio City.

Cosalan said completion of the TPLEX will cut travel time to and from Baguio City by more than an hour for mass transport and private vehicles need not to traverse the traffic-prone areas of the MacArthur highway from Tarlac to La Union.

The lawmakers said the tourism industry and economy of Baguio and Benguet will surely gain ground and propelled once TPLEX will be completed in the next two years.


Brent kids fight for ailing boy’s life

By Isagani S. Liporada

BAGUIO CITY – His pilot’s seat has now been transformed into a reclining hospital bed; his cockpit, the kids ward at the Baguio General Hospital.

He wanted to look out a window hoping he could see clouds beneath him but all the white he sees are uniformed doctors and nurses along busy hospital easements.

Days turn to painful weeks. His co-pilot, a patient who is likewise battling the ‘Big C’ passes away silently into the night.

He would have given up then, too. In fact lately, he’s been telling his dad Ernesto he is ready to trade his dreams of flying a plane to having wings of an angel.

But the middle school students of Brent International School Baguio just wouldn’t let Mark Anthony Viray concede his dream without a fight.

Last April 27, the Brent school kids once again breathed new life into Mark by sponsoring another round for his chemotherapy, raising P5-thousand from a benefit concert the kids themselves put up for their dear friend Mark.

Grade 9 students Erin Esguerra and Dian Magnual, president and treasurer of their class handed Ernesto what their class was able raise, relating that some kids from Brent Manila even paid for their free tickets when they were informed the show was for Mark.

Sure, the P5-thousand wasn’t enough for answering one of six sessions that make up a full chemotherapy cycle. A chemo session is about P10-thousand, after all.

But sportsman cum philanthropist Carlos Anton raced to Brent School to pitch in another P5-thousand if only to keep Mark’s hopes high.

Mark’s battle with cancer started in 2008.

The younger of two surviving kids of a widower and taxi driver, Mark looked like he had licked those pesky mutant cells that swelled his neck lymph nodes, May 2009.

It was SoshinKinderhilfe, a small humanitarian foundation established in southern Germany by Igorot karate teacher Julian Chees, which led other Samaritans in workingfor Mark’s initial round of chemo then.

After the first battery of chemo, the cancer cells disappeared until January, 2010.

His father was advised to have him undergo three CT scans and prepare him for another six rounds of chemo session.

Mark is now 13-years old. His dream and those who dreams he could realize the same are the only things that keep him in the fight.

To divert Mark’s attention from boredom and pain, Brent deputy headmaster Ursula Daoey donated two game boards.

She egged Erin and Diane to convince classmates to donate or lend some used up portable digital game device as a substitute for a flight simulator.

For now, while the Brent kids continue putting the pieces of the puzzle of Mark’s life together, piece by worrying piece, the boy’s dad is somewhere knocking on doors again.

Ernesto’s cell phone number is 0916 8560455.


BSP collateral-free loans up in P’sinan

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas signed Tuesday an agreement with the provincial government, cooperatives, and donor institutions here to help small businessmen secure collateral-free loans from banks.

The memorandum of agreement creating the Pangasinan Credit Surety Fund (PCSF) was signed at the Sison Auditorium in Lingayen at 2:30 p.m.

Among the signatories were Monetary Board Member Peter B. Favila and Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. of Pangasinan.

Twelve cooperatives from Pangasinan have committed to join the PCSF with pledges totaling P4.2 million in contributions. -- LBI


Benguet district to increase hiring of workers this year

BAGUIO CITY -- The Benguet engineering district I of the Department of Public Works and Highways is set to hire more workers this year, especially children of Filipino expatriates from abroad.

District Engineer Romeo Dulay said the DPWH central office has approved of more workers to be hired who will be among the manpower complements in the repair of existing road cuts of the Quirino Highway due to typhoon "Pepeng" in 2009.

"The rest will be working in the regular maintenance and repair of the highways and roads within our jurisdiction, which include the Marcos Highway and Kennon Road," he said.

While "Pepeng" happened two years ago, there are still portions of Quirino Highway, more popularly known as "Naguilian Road", which have eroded road shoulders and road cuts as other priority infrastructure repairs had been finished ahead.

Dulay said that as programmed, all the repair projects would be finished before the expected strong rains in July and August.


P4.5M development work for heritage hill proposed

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – A development plan to put up a nature walk and view deck facilities at the Dominican Heritage Hill and Nature Park here has been proposed.

The Baguio Heritage Hill Committee chaired by Mayor Mauricio Domogan approved the development plan for the nature park as presented by the city engineering office costing P4,550,000.

Based on the program of work submitted by city engineer Leo Bernardez, the projects will consist of the construction of a pathway or eco-trail costing P3,650,000, four units of gazebo amounting to P640,000 and two units view decks, P260,000.

Councilor Philian Weygan-Allan, a member of the committee, submitted the project for confirmation by the city council through a proposed ordinance which was approved on first reading last Monday by the city council.

Weygan included in the ordinance the realignment of P4,130,005.94 from the Centennial Commission Fund balance to be used for the proposed project.

The city government intends to introduce substantial development in the area this year and included it as a priority project with P20 million allocation.

The overall concept for the development of the area was estimated to cost P98 million including the rehabilitation of the building, parking area construction, slope management, greening or landscaping, fencing, drainage system development and installation of sewer line.

The city initially introduced improvements in the area by constructing the perimeter fence, improving the road and parking area that amounted to P18 million.

The area was designated as a property for environmental, tourist, education and spiritual activities.


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