Anomalous, says Baguio mayor Domogan: DENR told to probe ancestral land titles

>> Sunday, July 24, 2011

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan here urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate alleged anomalous certificates of ancestral land titles (CALTs) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples considering most of these have reportedly overlapped private and vested rights over such properties.

The local chief executive said once plotted in the DENR map, the CALT issued to deceased Obalio matriarch Josephine Abanag, over the Wright Park area would overlap a 4,000-square meter titled property of the city government which extends up to the presidential Mansion, a titled property of the national government,
He added there were obvious anomalies in the issuance of the title.

Domogan said if the CALT issued to the heirs of Lauro Carantes over a 23-hectare portion of Forbes Park, a watershed and forest reservation as earlier proclaimed, will be also plotted, it also would overlap huge portions of Camp John Hay which should not be the case.

According to him, the DENR must intervene on this pressing concern of the city government so anomalous CALTs will be subjected to nullification proceedings so as not to prejudice private properties and government reservations which are reserved for various purposes.

The city government is now weighing its legal options to take to immediately nullify the anomalous CALTs issued by the NCIP so watershed and forest reservations and private properties will be spared from being encroached by unscrupulous individuals who are now trying to sell to innocent individuals portions of Forbes Park and the Wright Park areas that were illegally titled in their names.

The title issued to the heirs of Lauro Carantes over a parcel of land located within the Forbes Park reservation is now the subject of a nullification case filed by the city government before the Court of Appeals, thus, individuals interested to buy real estate properties in the city must first validate the authenticity of the title being shown them before formalizing their deal so their money will not go to waste.

Domogan said the issuance of CALTs over Wright Park and Forbes Park is in gross violation of Section 78 of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) that allows Baguio City to retain its townsite reservation provided that prior ancestral land rights duly recognized by administrative bodies and quasai-judicial courts prior to the approval of the law shall be recognized and given due course.

He said ancestral claims of the heirs of Lauro Carantes over a portion of the Forbes Park reservation and the claim of Josephine Abanag over Wright Park were not part of those which were earlier recognized by administrative bodies or quasai-judicial bodies, thus, the applications for ancestral land titles should not have been given due course right from the start in order to prevent legal problems not only on the part of the city government but also those illegally claiming portions of government reservations and titled properties.


NPT writer is NCAA north Luzon chief

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts for Northern Cultural Communities elected its new set officers at the NCCA office here in Intramuros, Manila on July 19.

The NCC is composed of 29 different tribes in the Cordillera Administrative Region, regions 1, 2 and 3 and clustered into 15 based on location and similarity of culture.

Elected were Francis Degay, contributing writer of the Northern Philippine Times as head, Antonio Cayyog-vice head and secretaries-Anastacia Viola and Edwin Antonio.
Degay represented Applai, Bontok and Balangao cluster while Cayyog was of the Gaddang/Isinay group.

Viola was from the Ivatan/Itbayat cluster and Antonio from the Iloko/Bago tribes.
Other cluster heads were the following: Ellennora Alliguyon,Kalanguya/Ifugao; Napoleon Baltazar,Ibanag/Yogad/Itawit/ Malaweg; Conrado Bunagan-Tinguian/Itneg; Brian Camhit-Ibaloy/Kankanaey; Maximo Garming-Kalinga; Edward Osingat-Bugkalot; Rosalie Joy Reyeas-Ayta of Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales; Nerie Roxas-Kasiguran, Corazon Claveria-Isnag, Josefina Alonso-Kapampangan/Tagalog/Sambal and Elnora Dudang-Bolinao/Pangasinense.

The committee was tasked to be channels of communication to the communities they are representing and give feedback to NCCA.

It was also tasked to facilitate implementation of NCCA programs, expand membership and select executive members to represent their sector.

The NCCA’s board of trustees shall confirm the elected officers before they will discharge their duties.

The election was facilitated by Marichu Tellano, chief of the plan, policy, formulation and programming division of NCCA.

Meanwhile, after the election of official representatives for Mountain Province, Abra and Apayao was held July 7 at the Veniz Hotel in Baguio City.

Representatives of Mountain Province selected Mary Dumanhi as vice official representative for Mountain Province, Garry Dong-gayao as secretary, Elamae Membrere as sub-secretary, Roy Camiding, Julia Puyongan and Jimmy Charaychay as coordinators for Applai, Bontok and Balangao tribes respectively.

The NCCA was created by virtue of Republic Act 7356 in 1992. The bill creating it was authored by Sen. Edgardo Angara, former senators Heherson Alvarez, Leticia Shahani and congressman Carlos Padilla.

Its programs include a grants program for culture and development, promotion of culture and the arts, artistic excellence, culture and education, conservation of cultural heritage, culture and diplomacy and culture and peace,
I also serves as institute for cultural and arts management and school of living traditions.

It gives awards to national artists, national living treasures and alab ng haraya for achievement in the performing arts, arts management, library and services program, theater production, cultural journalism and documentation and other fields.


Mayor's son wanted for shooting councilor

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – A son of a Cagayan mayor is now the subject of a manhunt for allegedly shooting a councilor of Gonzaga town.

Senior Insp. Santos Tecbobolan Jr., chief of police of Gonzaga where the incident reportedly took place, identified the suspect as Jay Pentecostes, a son of Mayor Carlito Pentecostes.

The young Pentecostes allegedly shot Wilson Puyaoan at the latter’s residence in Barangay Calayan, also in Gonzaga.

Reports said Puyaoan and his son Wilmer were attending to their workers who were building a fence, when the suspect arrived and told them to stop.

Pentecostes was said to have fired at Puyaoan but missed, after which he fled on board his Pajero.

“The suspect could face a possible case of frustrated murder,” Tecbobolan said.

The mayor said he has yet to get full details on what actually happened. “I was only informed of the incident involving my son and the son of (councilor) Puyaoan. Councilor Puyaoan is not involved here, according to information,” he said.

Only last month, another of Pentecostes’ sons, barangay councilman Jongi Pentecostes, was nabbed by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in a buy-bust operation in Tuguegarao City.


4 robbery suspects slain in clash

STO. DOMINGO, Nueva Ecija – Four suspected members of a notorious robbery-holdup gang operating in northern Nueva Ecija were slain in a shootout with policemen shortly after they held up passengers of a Manila-bound Baliwag Transit bus here before dawn Wednesday.

The slain suspects were identified as Daryl Germino, Jeric Ace de la Cruz, Raymund de la Cruz, and Mandy Villa, all of Barangay Maliolio, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija.

Police said they belonged to the so-called “Petinez gang” responsible for the spate of robbery-holdups in Talavera and Guimba towns, Muñoz Science City and San Jose City. – MG


CHED orders: Resume MP college operations

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Commission on Higher Education has ordered the administration, faculty, students and non-teaching personnel of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College to resume regular operations and respect the rule of law while investigation is still underway relative to the issues raised against the current administration which had been earlier branded as rehashed and recycled issues.

In a memorandum addressed to the school’s faculty, students and non-teaching personnel, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, CHED chairman, urged the faculty, students and non-teaching personnel to observe sobriety in the conduct of their regular operations despite alleged efforts of disgruntled politicians and sectors to put pressure on government agencies to oust Dr. Nieves A. Dacyon, MPSPC president.

According to Licuanan, the MPSPC community must preserve the dignity and integrity of the institution against the destruction of its institutional autonomy and uphold academic independence.

The CHED, pursuant to a resolution of the board of trustees of the institution allowed Dacyon to serve as president pending investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Commission on Human Rights and the National Police Commission on events that transpired that resulted to the alleged forcible resignation of the president.

Licuanan also called on the MPSPC’s Board of Trustees to continue the investigation on issues involving the president in accordance with proper and applicable civil service rules, regulations and procedures.

The CHED memorandum now serves as a basis for the school president to exercise her duties and responsibilities while investigations are ongoing. -- Dexter A. See


Tuguegarao City police chief sacked over slays

By Charlie Lagasca

TUGUEGARAO CITY - The police chief here has been stripped of his post amid a number of unsolved crimes, including the recent killing of a local Liberal Party executive.

Supt. Madzgani Mukaram has been designated as officer-in-charge of the city police, replacing Supt. Pedro Martirez, whose relief came following a reported P1-million robbery-holdup in a doctor’s clinic.

Martirez’s relief has taken effect, said Chief Supt. Francisco Villaroman, Cagayan Valley police director.

Martirez, assigned as Tuguegarao police chief only last December, took over Mukaram’s post as head of the provincial public safety company of the Cagayan police.

Martirez’s relief came amid a spate of unsolved killings and robberies in the northern city, including the gun-slaying of former Peñablanca town councilor Lyndon Obispo, 43, and councilman Marvellon Baltazar, 36, of Solana town.

“I ordered his (Martirez’s) relief following the series of unsolved crimes in the city, as well as the failure of his men to conduct beat patrols in critical areas. They were becoming over-dependent on police personnel from the regional office,” Villaroman said.

Obispo, who was unsuccessful in his bid for the Peñablanca mayoral post, was the town’s LP chairman at the time of his killing.

Villaroman said it was Tuguegarao City Mayor Delfin Ting himself who sought Martirez’s replacement following these unsolved crimes.

Martirez’s predecessor, Supt. Eliseo Tanding, was also relieved of his post last December or about two weeks after Ting survived an attempt on his life.


Baguio club wins top Lions int’l award

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Members of Lions Clubs all over the world roared for the Baguio City (Host) Lions Club as it received the Beacon Award for outstanding service at their 94th International Convention last July 7 in Seattle, Washington State.

Baguio Host president Moody Imayaho remembers he rose and punched the air in jubilation when the club’s “Eye Run Coz I Care” was declared all throughout Lionism as the best service project to the blind or visually impaired.

“The announcement that Baguio won was overwhelming as Lions International, with over 1.4 million members, has over 45,000 clubs spread out to 206 countries from which to select the best,” Imayaho recalled. ”It was an awesome confirmation of the power of the collective work of the club members and supporters, and of the vision of the pioneers who founded the club on November 21, 1950.”

Lions International president Sid Scruggs III presented the award, just after the speech of business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates at the convention’s second plenary session at the Key Arena at Seattle Center.

Outside, the giant billboard flashed the club’s name. Inside, the Host Club received another award, this time for having the best newsletter with its March issue of “The Roaring Times” edited by Charmaine Chan and laid out by Melissa Oriente.

On page 10, Jingle Melanie Ku detailed how Lions members conceptualized and enhanced “Eye Run”, called on13-year old Dannielle Marquez and photo artist Ompong Tan for the poster design then tapped seasoned marathon organizer and runner Che Alberto as race director for the fun run that drew some 700 runners last Oct. 24.

Six-time Milo Marathon champion Rony Vence, Imayaho and past club president Ed Claridad fired off the 16K, 5K and 3K runs in that order. Imediate past governor of District 301-C and city councilor Elmer Datuin then signaled 20 blind children who were guided by Lions and students from Brent and the University of the Cordillera to a 400-meter run along Lake Drive of the Burnham Park.

“What caught most of the spectators’ attention was when 6-year old visually impaired Paulene Navalta, our poster girl, crossed the finish line with her dad completing the 3K run,” Melanie wrote.

Proceeds from the fun run hit the P40,000 mark, divided equally and turned over to the NLAB and the Red Cross.

Teacher Dora of Northern Luzon Association for the Blind (NLAB) summed the event with a thank you text to the organizers: “nag-njoy &v. hapy mga bata. A great day 4 evrybody. More power n Godbles.”

No one had the inkling that “Eye Run ‘coz I Care” would emerge one of three finalists for the international award, much less win the top prize, ahead of “World Sight Day Low Vision and Trachoma Screenings” of Bangui Ita, Central African Republic and “Mobile Eye Hospital Unit of Guapore, Brazil.

Whatever, the project idea found inspiration from the personal code of Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions: “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”

The Host Lions did not have to look and go far beyond the NLAB and the local Red Cross to be of help to somebody else. And because “Eye Care” made it to the final of the international award, Imayaho, together with his wife Edith, district Gov. Westly Rosario and spouse, past district Gov. Modesto Pacquing and spouse and vice-Gov. Evelyn, had to go far to Seattle.

“This award is a recognition of team and community work, not only of the Host Club but the residents of Baguio, the city from where it serves,” Imayaho said.

Earlier, Imayaho was declared the most outstanding club president of District 301-C and the Host as the most outstanding, reasons enough for the members to re-elect him by acclamation to a second term.

With him in the officers’ roster are Mark Jefferson Ng – first vice president, Chito Tee – second vice president, Jingle Melanie Ku-Marquez – third vice president, Avelina Jackie Acoba-Ver – secretary, Charmaine Chan – tail twister, Daisy Chan – treasurer, Jopee Alhambra – lion tamer, with past district Gov. Peter Go, Lilia Farinas and Edith Imayaho as membership directors.

Completing the line-up are two-year directors Jaime Tee, Joanne Ochoco, Jamela Acoba and Ramon Go and one-year directors Daniel Quinones, Nemia Lee, Jocelyn Villanueva-Madriago and Lawrence Umila.


‘Spratly islands ancestral home of Ph indigenous folk’

LAGAWE, Ifugao – The Spratly islands are part of the ancestral domain of the Philippines because the indigenous peoples of Palawan have been fishing in the disputed territory the past decades, thus, the islands are considered their ancestral fishing grounds, Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr., chairman of the House committee on national cultural communities, said here Thursday.

Baguilat was one of five members of the House of Representatives who recently visited Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan town which is part of the Philippine territory to show their support to the claim of the country over the Spratley islands as part of its exclusive economic zone.

According to him, their visit to the disputed territory is part of the national government’s effort to show moral support to the soldiers, local government employees and the people staying there so that their spirits will be bolstered amidst the escalating word war between ranking Philippine and Chinese diplomats over ownership of the oil-rich islands.

Aside from visiting the disputed islands, the lawmakers also distributed supplies to the residents who were delighted to welcome them in their place.

To bolster the ownership of the Philippines over the Spratleys, Baguilat and his fellow lawmakers filed a resolution with the House of Representatives to change the name of the South China Sea to West Philippine Sea so the government will have a bigger chance of gaining ownership over the oil-rich islands.

The trip of the lawmakers to the Pag-asa Island was considered symbolic because their chartered plane was the first commercial plane to land and they were technically the first tourists to visit the place.

Baguilat urged concerned government agencies to promote Kalayaan town as one of the country’s premier tourist destination to help entice foreign and domestic tourists to visit the place and see for themselves the actual situation in the area and be witness to its scenic spots that are worth exploring.

The advocate for the protection of indigenous peoples rights over their ancestral domain claimed the Chinese are aggressively using their brute force to claim the entire West Philippine Sea, especially the islands obviously owned by the Philippines, because of prospective rich oil and gas deposits that could help enrich the country once appropriately explored, utilized and developed.

Baguilat said the Philippines must not bow down to the whims and caprices of the Chinese who want to flex their muscles to insist their ownership over the Spratleys amidst obvious indications the islands are supposed to be within Philippine territory.

Because of the brewing conflict in the West Philippine Sea, Baguilat is favoring a peaceful solution to the controversy and not to leave the matter unattended considering the Philippines might eventually lose its grip over a rich source of oil and gas that could help spur economic growth in the country in the future. -- Dexter A. See


Wanted persons nabbed for Baguio grave crimes

BAGUIO CITY – Police arrested three men here recently for grave crimes which included murder.

Senior Insp. Pail A. Digman, Station 5 police commander led the arrest of Mark Millet, 20, vendor of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Edilberto Claravall of Regional Trial Court for frustrated homicide with a recommended bail bond of P12,000.00.

The warrant was served along Harrison Road at Jadewell parking area.

A police report said Digman has another pending case for murder.

Digman had reportedly been involved in a series of robberies and stabbing incidents where descriptions made by witnesses and victims matched his profile.

In Station 7, police served a warrant of arrest issued by Fe Albano Madrid, presiding judge of RTC, Santiago City for frustrated homicide.

Nabbed along Abano St, here was Mario Juan Conungan, 38, farmer who posted P24,000 bail bond for his temporary liberty.

Earlier that day, another arrest was made at about 10:55 a.m. follwong arrest warrant issued by Maria Clarita Casuga-Tabin of Municipal Trial Court here for attempted homicide.

Arrested was George S. Bolislis, 37, miner, of Besao, Mountain Province and resident of Purok 26, San Carlos Heights, Baguio.

A bail bond of P12,000 was recommended for his release. He was now detained at the city jail. – Elizabeth Cedo


Mayor nixes tax amnesty for city tax delinquents

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Please don’t treat the delinquent like you do the law-abiding.

With that view, Mauricio Domogan last Monday advised anew the city council against adopting an ordinance proposed by councilor Edison Bilog to grant a general amnesty for delinquent real property and business taxpayers.

Such urging is part of the mayor’s response to queries from members of the local legislature led by vice-mayor Daniel Farinas on what the city should do to address a shortfall in its internal revenue allotment (IRA) resulting from the confirmation of 16 new component cities which will also be entitled to shares from the fund from the national government.

“Please don’t pass the proposal for tax amnesty,” the mayor asked Farinas and other members of the city council during last Monday’s breakfast conference of city officials. It was the second time in two weeks that they mayor gave such advice.

City treasurer Thelma Manaois last Friday estimated a P40 million reduction in the city’s IRA share with the addition of the 16 new cities legally created as per Supreme Court ruling.

She expressed concern on the erosion of tax and citizen consciousness that the government is continuously trying to inculcate because of another proposal coming only three years after the last amnesty was approved by the city council.

Manaois said the publication of Bilog’s proposed ordinance apparently has emboldened tax cheats and even honest taxpayers who are telling her they would wait for the city council’s decision on the measure before they would pay their dues to the city.

The proposed ordinance was published last April 17 under the title “Granting A General Real Property and Business Taxpayers To The City of Baguio And Providing For Other Purposes”.

Wisecracks at city hall said the amnesty measure can be likened to the city’s “no-segregation, no-collection” campaign in waste management in previous years. Barangay officials laboring to implement the same said the gains were suddenly lost when city officials suddenly ordered total collection of garbage, whether sorted or not.

Bilog proposed full condonation of the entire amount of penalties, fines, surcharges and interests on delinquent property and business taxes as of the end of last year. He also recommended that the principal be paid in installments, the schedule of which to be determined by the city treasurer.

“I’ve always been against tax amnesty,” Manaois said last Friday, adding that the last time the city council adopted a condonation was three years ago, at the end of 2008 and implemented until February the following year.

Bilog’s measure is due for second reading but action on the was postponed as the city council was busy hearing pressing and controversial issues such as the recent same-sex “marriage” rites here and, last week on the proposal to divide the Benguet Electric Cooperative into two systems, one for Benguet and one for the city.

Councilors Nicasio Aliping and Richard Carino recommended that Bilog’s proposal be referred to the city treasurer for comment while councilors Nicasio Palaganas and Erdolfo Balajadia suggested that the same be referred to the local finance committee.


N. Vizcaya teachers get P1,000 salary increase

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – More than 300 public school teachers in this province will get a P1,000 monthly pay hike starting this school year.

Edu Balgos, Gov. Luisa Cuaresma’s executive assistant for education said with the increase, public school teachers here will be receiving P6,000 per month on top of their other benefits.

Balgos said the salary hike will be funded out of the provincial government’s special education fund, whose budget is sourced from the multimillion-peso real property tax payment of the US firm California Energy (CalEnergy).

CalEnergy owns and operates the multibillion-peso Casecnan multi-purpose irrigation and power project.

The provincial government has already collected some P1.5 billion in real property tax from the firm since it started operating the project in 2000.


Isabela has most number of confiscated illegal logs

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – At least 130,000 board feet of illegally-sawn lumber have been confiscated in the region despite the nationwide ban on illegal logging, with the biggest number seized in the province of Isabela.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the region said these illegal logs were seized or intercepted in series of operations conducted with other law enforcement agencies throughout Cagayan Valley from January to June this year.

DENR records showed that Isabela registered the highest volume of illegal logs seized with 64,214.8 bd. ft.; followed by Quirino, 32,236.72 bd. ft.; Nueva Vizcaya, 19,961.92 bd. ft.; and Cagayan, 14, 568.64 bd. ft.

These provinces, which straddle the vast Sierra Madre Mountain range, where cutting of trees is still reportedly taking place despite the existing logging ban.


Baguio gov’t, DPWH to go against squatters

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government and the Dept. of Public Works and Highways have forged an agreement for eradication of squatters on road rights-of-way, sidewalks and lots covered by national roads and highways in the city.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan Monday told department heads that the city and the DPWH through the city district engineering office have set the protocol on the issuance and implementation of demolition orders to speed up the removal of illegal structures built on national roads.

The mayor said that as per the agreed procedure, the DPWH will be in charge of issuing the demolition orders while the city government will assist by providing the manpower to undertake the dismantling operation.

The mayor said that the enhanced cooperation between the two agencies and the streamlined procedures would be a big boost to the city’s anti-squatting campaign.

During the department heads’ meeting, concerns were raised over the proliferation of illegal structures on the road right-of-ways and sidewalks along the areas traversed by city’s circumferential road project being implemented by the national government through the DPWH.

The project aims to link major access roads going in and out of the city with the intention of decongesting traffic at the Central Business Center and at the same time dispersing economic opportunities in other areas of the city.

The mayor said the mushrooming structures have been brought to the attention of the DPWH and will be targeted for demolition under the DPWH-city drive.

Apart from the circumferential road, other areas that will be covered by demolition activities are the Lion’s Head along Kennon Road and the two other main entrances to the city which are now infested by land speculators.


DENR cites 'batangan' forest management

TADIAN, Mountain Province — The Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently cited an indigenous forest management and protection system which could be replicated in different parts of the country to protect nature.

Clarence Baguilat, DENR regional director, said the “batangan system” of Tadian and some parts of Mountain Province is an ideal system of preserving old-growth communal forests which had been passed on to the present generations of local residents and elders.

Through the system, members of the indigenous peoples, Kankanaey Applai community, in the western Mountain Province towns were able to harvest lumber in a controlled manner without encroaching into the watersheds and forests within their places.

The “batangan” is a community forest in an area where the community get their means of livelihood such as firewood and even logs used in building their homes.


Tobacco farmers get P20-M aid for palay crop cultivation

BANGUED, Abra --- National Tobacco Administration chief Edgardo D. Zaragoza has distributed P20 million to thousands of tobacco farmers as capital for their palay crop cultivation in order to provide them with alternative sources of livelihood during the lean months of tobacco production.

A total of 1,484 tobacco farmers from the provinces of Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Mindoro who are ready to plant palay in around 1,242 hectares benefited from the soft loan program of the NTA which is geared towards enhancing the productivity of farmers not only on tobacco production but also in terms of rice production.

Under the program, NTA provides a loan of P18, 000 per hectare per farmer who plants palay, and P30,000 to P40,000 per farmer per hectare for those who plant tobacco which is substantial in allowing the farmers to be able to produce the crops that will be in time for the harvest season where the prices of the crops are at high levels.

In consultations with the tobacco farmers and technicians in different tobacco producing provinces, Zaragoza said the NTA is ready to provide P200 million in the form of production assistance at very low interest rate to the tobacco farmers in their tobacco cultivation.

The past years, only about P3.5 million was given by the NTA to the tobacco farmers in the form of loans in eight tobacco growing provinces. The amount was increased to P34 million during this year, but the amount is not enough to defray the cost of production for the tobacco farming.

Dr. Roberto R. Bonoan, NTA deputy administrator for operations said that the financial assistance to the tobacco farmers had greatly increased this year by 177 percent compared to the past years when only about R7.6 million was given.

The number of tobacco farmers who planted tobacco also increased this year by 79 percent and area planted to tobacco likewise increased by 80.73 percent.

Zaragoza expressed optimism that with the integration of both agricultural programs such as the tobacco production during the dry season, and the palay production during the wet season, the rice self-sufficiency program of the Department of Agriculture will succeed before the end of 2013.

While acknowledging the cooperation of the tobacco farmers and their sense of responsibility in the repayment of their loans amortizations, Zaragoza assured the farmers of the support of the big-time tobacco leaf buyers like the PMFTC, Universal Leaf Phil., Inc., Trans-Manila, Inc., Continental Leaf and the Associated Anglo American Tobacco Corporation for their con-tinuing cooperation and support to the farmers through their support programs.

“We recognize the tobacco farmers because of their good attitude particularly in their willingness to pay, and it is just fitting and proper that we give back our trust and respect to these farmers,” he said.

In another development, the tourist town of Kabayan in Benguet has enhanced the production of “tudoy,” the local version of native rice with the institutionalization of a subsidy for its production in order to sustain its existence for the benefit of the present and future generations.

“Tudoy” is a type of kintoman rice having a peculiar taste and aroma compared to other rice varieties planted in the town which could also land in the world market once given a break through the appropriate linkages with government agencies and non-government organizations helping promote the marketability of native rice.

Municipal Ordinance No. 47-11 subsidizes the production of “tudoy,” which is necessary in saving the variety and enhancing its production in the locality in order for it to be sufficiently promoted to the global village without necessarily sacrificing its mode of production of quality.

Called Kintoman Rice Subsidy Ordinance, it mandates the Kabayan LGU to appropriate initial amount of R50,000 for the first year of implementation so that native rice farmers will be able to advance their production to serve as living examples for other farmers.

To be dispensed by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist, the amount will be used to subsidize rice farmers in a certain barangay in the form of rice seeds and other inputs depending upon the assessment of the OMAG.


Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag now Basilica

MANAOAG, Pangasinan — It was a busy day here Friday when around 100 archbishops and bishops flocked here with the elevation into a Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag.

The ceremony started at 10 a.m. 22 when the shrine was officially called Basilica of our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.

Headed by a rector, the shrine was recommended by the Dominican priests for elevation by Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Socrates Villegas.

A Eucharistic celebration was held simultaneously with the launching of Special Bond of Spiritual Affinity of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag with the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.

Former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, was among archbishops who attended the event. -- Leizle Basa Inigo


Truck rams riprapwall, man injured

SABLAN, Benguet – A young man suffered injuries when the truck he was riding in lost its brake and rammed onto a riprap wall here at Lower Poblacion while traversing towards La Union about 9:45 a.m. July 19.

Police said victim Oliver Gundran, 23, of Quezon Hill was rushed to the Baguio General Hospital by the town ambulance, around 15 km from here.

Investigation revealed the Fuso 10-wheeler cargo truck bearing plate number RGF 398 loaded with scrap registered under the name of Mark Anthony Camilo and driven by Altahf L. Lucino, 40of Central Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet, lost its brake and rammed the riprap wall.

The truck incurred heavy damages. -- Theresa G. Pucay


P1.8 billion road projects in Cordillera underway

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Public works and Highways here disclosed more than P1.8 billion worth of road projects in the region is currently being implemented to help improve road linkages.

Engineer Edilberto Carabbacan, DPWH regional director, said the Department of Budget and Management released the corresponding Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) of the 15 ongoing road projects that were earlier bid out.

The funded road projects include the Rizal national road in Kalinga – P93.4 million; Bulanao-Paracelis road – P93.9 million; Kabugao-Pudtol-Luna-Cagayan boundary road- P57.1 million; Abra-Kalinga road – P50.5 million; Kalinga-Abra road – P80.3 million; Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur road via Tue in Tadian – P142.4 million; Baguio circumferential road – P140 million; Balbalan-Pinukpok road – P100 million; Abra-Kalinga road – P143.7 million; Abra-Ilocos Norte – P78 million; Gorel-Bokod-Buguias-Abatan road – P115.4 million; Gorel-Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias-Abatan road – P98 million; Sto. Tomas – Manabo Bridge along Sto. Tomas-Manabo road – P160 million; Mountain Province-Calanan-Pinukpok-Abbot road – P209 million and Balbalan-Pinukpok road – P245 million.

According to Carabbacan, the 15 road projects are part of the P3.4 billion worth of infrastructure projects lined up by the national government for the region this year but some of the same were already downloaded by the agency to the different district offices since the amount of the projects are within the ceiling of the district offices to bid out and award to qualified contractors.

He said projects were subjected to thorough evaluation and scrutiny in accordance to the government’s policy on transparency and the right project at the right time and the right cost.

Carabbacan said he was hoping the projects would be complete 80 percent by December this year in order to minimize carry over projects next year so that the aspiration for infrastructure boom in the countryside will be fulfilled for the benefit of greater economic development.

DPWH regional offices are given a ceiling of P51 to P150 million worth of projects to bid out while district offices are allowed to bid out projects below P50 million except in cases where the central office authorizes either the regional or district office to bid out projects above their prescribed ceilings.

The DPWH official said funding for road and bridge projects is now based on a state-of-the-art technology adapted by the agency whereby needs of roads and bridges in the country are stored in a database and subjected to analysis and evaluation by the technical personnel so those who urgently need the funds and with the most number of beneficiaries will be prioritized for funding purposes.


Benguet hospital gets P5million for poor patients

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The national government has earmarked P5 million as subsidy for the Benguet General Hospital here as medical assistance for indigent patients of this vegetable-producing province.

Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, chairman of the House committee on public works, initiated the resumption of the subsidy with a portion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Cosalan said health care should be available to everyone and there is a need to infuse funds for the care of indigent patients at the hospital.

The congressman has turned over to the hospital management medicines funded by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office which will be used solely for indigent patients.

Based on the approved guidelines for the subsidy to indigent patients, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to receive P5,000 financial assistance once they are hospitalized or undergo major surgical operation.

With the allocation of the funds for indigent patients, Cosalan is confident that many charity patients of the hospital will be able to get proper medical attention and continue to be productive citizens of the province and contribute to the province’s growth as one of the economic centers in the Cordillera.

The lawmaker underscored the importance of providing financial assistance to indigent patients among constituents, especially those in far-flung communities.


Lawmen arrest 2 men wanted for murders

BAGUIO CITY – Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested here two most wanted persons – one the top most wanted person in Ilocos region and the other, a murder-suspect American citizen.

CIDG operatives identified the suspect as Manuel Rivera, 43 of Bangar town in La Union and John Lawangan, 45 of Buguias town in Benguet.

Rivera, carrying a P140,000 bounty for his arrest, was facing multiple warrants of arrest for double murder and two murder cases.

He is a member of the notorious Maala Group.

Rivera was arrested afternoon of July 16 at Brookspoint, Aurora Hill in possession of an unlicensed Cal, 45 pistol and ammunition.

Meanwhile, Lawangan was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Agapito Laoagan.

Lawangan, who is number 16 in the list of top most wanted person in Cordillera region, was the suspect in murder of American businessman Russel Gilles on April 10, 2010.

Lawangan was taken to La Trinidad, Benguet where he is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology district jail.


3 young men nabbed for hauling logs in van

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Police intercepted a white L-300 van here
loaded with Benguet pine and hauled to jail three young men inside the vehicle.

Police said the van bearing plate number WPL 850 was registered under Steel Centre Philippines Inc with office address at 120 Amang Rodriguez Ave, Pasig City.

Arrested were driver Sherwin Blas y Albin, 20, of Atok and passengers Rustom P. Ngiyos, 23 and Mark B. Bongsiw, 23, both of Bokod, all towns of Benguet.

The vehicle loaded with assorted lumber composed of around 200 pieces was traversing the Halsema Highway towards Baguio City when intercepted.

The suspects were detained at the La Trinidad jail while cases for violation of Presidential Decree PD 705 on illegal logging was prepared against them.

This, as police also confiscated illegal lumber at Bangao, Buguias, Benguet July 17.

The police team, led by SPO4 Domingo Serafin were on patrol when they noticed pine lumber piled along the road.

The 82 pieces of pine lumber valued at P12,133 were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources town office personnel Godfrey Cawis and Beatrice Kollin.


11 injured in Cagayan Valley road accidents

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – At least 11 people were hurt in separate road accidents in the region, the latest of which took place in Tuguegarao City, the capital of Cagayan, late Monday night.

The Tuguegarao mishap happened when an ambulance and a Toyota Tamaraw FX collided with each other along a pothole-ridden stretch of the national highway in the city’s Barangay Namabbalan Sur.

The collision, reports said, occurred after the ambulance, owned by the Delfin Albano town government in Isabela, which was on its way to the Cagayan Valley Medical Center to fetch a patient, tried to avoid a pothole and rammed into the southbound Tamaraw FX, resulting in injuries to six people from both vehicles.

Those injured, now being treated at the People’s General Hospital in Tuguegarao City, were identified as Epifania Angui, Jesusa Masibbo, Manuel Lucero, Henry Cordial, Renison de la Cruz, and Ester Mercado, all of Isabela.

Meanwhile, five other people are now confined in a hospital in Isabela’s Cauayan City for injuries they sustained after their Cagayan-bound Toyota Prado slumped into a cornfield in Aurora town, also in Isabela, earlier that day.

Reports identified the injured as Jimmy Anoon, Jimmy Anoon Sr., Ryan Bayona, Gonzalo Anoon, and the driver, Ronald Anoon, all of Caloocan City.

They were on their way to the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in Santa Ana town when their driver suddenly lost control of the wheel, causing the van to hit a perimeter post, turn turtle and land in a cornfield along the national highway.


Baguio taxi driver arrested for shabu

BAGUIO CITY -- A taxi driver was nabbed here in a buy-bust operation by the city police anti-illegal drugs group led by Senior Insp. Dino Cogasi July 18, at Barangay Sanitary Camp.

Earlier that day at around 9:30 am, the group received information that a certain “Bimbo” was involved in the selling of shabu at said place.

As a result, Denver B, Benito, 26 of Itogon, Benguet and residing at Sto. Rosario Valley in the city was nabbed.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride valued at P 2,950 was confiscated from the suspect who was charged for illegal drugs.

Benito is now detained at the city jail.

From July 2010- July 2011, city police conducted 41 operations on the campaign against illegal drugs and filed 47 cases in court against suspects.

Fifty seven drug personalities were arrested illegal drugs valued at P339,760 were confiscated.– Insp. Karissma G. STa Juana


2 jailed for murder; two for slay attempt

BANGUED, Abra – Police arrested and jailed here two farmers for attempted murder July 12 even as two others were arrested in La Union on the same day for murder.

A police report identified the suspects as Eduardo Baltar Buenafe, 51 and Dennis Caraga Bernardez , 25, both residents of Dalnatan, Agtangao of this capital town.

Judge Corpuz B. Alzate of Regional Trial Court here recommended each a bail bond of P120,000 and another P20,000 for attempted murder and violation of the Commission on Elections gun ban.

Both were incarcerated at the provincial jail. Arresting police officers included Chief Insp. Kou Aglibot Claro, provincial police intelligence chief and Senior Insp. Edward Aowes under direct supervision of provincial police director Senior Supt. Amando Swgundo Lagiwid.

Relative to this, on July 7, Abra police nabbed Orlando Pita Banez, 38 at Barangay San Francisco, Agoo, La Union for murder.

A resident of Barangay Tangadan, San Quintin, Abra, Banez was failed.
No bail was recommended by Alzate for his temporary liberty.

Further, follow-up operation was conducted on same date at Barangay Luzong Norte, Bangar, La Union which resulted to the arrest of Alfred Pira Cabansag, 29, co-accused in the same crime.


Run for ailing rescuer this Sunday morning

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- The shoe is on the other foot, making this Sunday morning’s three-bracket run-for-a-cause doubly significant, a race for the health of one who has led in racing against time to save lives during calamities.

That’s why volunteers of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Council (CDRRMC) will join running buffs in answering the starting gun for the 3K, 5K and 10K at 6:00 a.m. at the Lake Drive of the Burnham Park where the run will also end.

It’s for Engr. Archiemor Ellamil, officer-in-charge of the CDRRMC), formerly the City Disaster Coordinating Council, who has been in and out of the hospital since last April due to liver ailment.

“Needless to say, the family is now in desperate situation seeking financial help in order to shoulder his medication and hospital expenses,” noted city administrator Carlos Canilao in an appeal for public support to the run and the cause for it.

Among the first to respond were Eurotel Hotel which provided the promotional streamers and volunteer rescuer Benjie Cardenas whose Janred purified water outlet will supply the watering stations along the route.

That’s why kids of San Vicente Elementary School were back at the Busol Watershed this week-end under the city’s Eco-walk environmental learning program, hoping to draw support to the fund drive through sponsorship of the trees they’re planting.

Individuals and groups may sponsor runners at P150 per participant, according to race coordinator Julius Santos who hatched the run-for-a-cause with other rescue volunteers.

“Really, the shoe is on the other foot, giving us more reason to help Archie’s family in its time of need,” Santos said.


Baguio City fried rice festival to feed 15,000

BAGUIO CITY — Different varieties of fried rice will be featured this year during the 8th Hotel and Restaurant Tourism Weekend scheduled first week of September, in time for the city’s Charter Day celebration.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio will be featuring a Fried Rice Festival that is targeted to feed more than 15,000 local residents and tourists here in Baguio City on September 3 at the SM Atrium.

HRAB president and Baguio Country Club General Manager Anthony De Leon said that they have decided to feature at least eight flavors of fried rice this year to highlight the HRT weekend which will significantly contribute in continuously enticing foreign and domestic tourists to visit the city.


Use Irisan compost for fertilizer, mayor orders

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Mauricio Domogan has cancelled the purchase of P350,000 worth of fertilizer for the city parks and ordered use of the sum to buy fuel to run the two environmental recycling system (ERS) machines at the Irisan dumpsite that process bio-degradable waste into organic fertilizer.

The mayor said he directed the city environment and parks management office to use the fertilizer produced by the machines for the flowering and ornamental plants at the Burnham Park and city gardens.

Domogan said his twin decisions came after he learned the ERS machines needed fuel and then received documents for the purchase of fertilizer.

He explained the city plans to sell the fertilizer being churned by the machines and use the proceeds to sustain the fuel needs of the two machines which have a combined daily capacity to convert 48 tons of organic waste into fertilizer.

Domogan said the fertilizer being composted out of vegetable trimmings and other organic waste has been certified as such but the city is waiting for permit to sell the same from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

Protech, the company which installed and is training city personnel to run the machines, is also willing to buy and repair several second-hand trucks the city earlier bought in Olongapo City but which broke down, Domogan said.

The company, which also committed to haul residual waste as an added service, is still working out payment of the machines it delivered, the mayor said.

In its meeting last Monday, the city council directed the CEPMO to submit in 15 days its report on the status of the city’s solid waste management program and for Protech to submit its report of compliance with the provisions of the contract covering the sale and operation of the ERS machines.

The machines costing P64 million each, were ordered from Japan late last year to compost – and therefore reduce - the city’s biodegradable waste, an alternative to the daily hauling of garbage to a dumpsite in Capas, Tarlac which, Domogan noted, was draining the city coffers of millions of pesos in hauling and other fees.

The ERS began operations last January at the Irisan dumpsite, more than two years after open dumping was closed in July, 2008, in compliance with the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Act.

The closure, however, left the city with no choice but to haul its garbage to Tarlac while scouting for a new site to develop into a controlled dump facility.

Domogan said the basic problem remains the non-segregation of waste “at source” meaning within households and appealed anew to residents recycle, re-use and also compost to reduce the volume being hauled by the city.

He said the city is considering hiring personnel tasked to oversee waste segregation in each of the barangays,


BSU hosts FIFA course for coaches

By Jennyline Sabado-Tabangcura

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Benguet State University recently hosted the Luzon leg of the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Grassroots Pro-Active Course for football coaches by FIFA instructor, Takeshi Ono.

The course has also been conducted in Visayas and Mindanao. There were 23 participants coming from the Naga City, Camarines Sur Football Association, Quezon Football Association, Laguna Football Association, Zamboanga Sur Football Association, Mindoro Football Association, Football Association of Rizal, Tuguegarao Football Association, Baguio-Benguet Football Association and the Tarlac Football Association.

“For every Azkal you see, there is a coach behind him,” said Baguio-Benguet Football Association President, Leo Arnaiz during the opening program held at the Gladiola Center on July 11.

“We need players to redeem the old glory days of football and coaches to serve as their models,” he added.

For Philippine Football Federation General Secretary, Chito Manuel, the participants are lucky to have Takeshi Ono of FIFA as a resource person.

Takeshi Ono is a technical consultant for FIFA and he directs the Youth Development of JFA.

He is also recipient of the FA International Coaching License and the FA International Preliminary Coaching Award both in England.

“Football is a model sport and can contribute to a better society and future,” he said. He encouraged grassroots activities saying that there is no strong national team without it.

La Trinidad Mayor, Gregorio Abalos and BSU vice president for administration, Alfredo C. Tipayno attended the opening program.


Pampanga to build first waste-to-energy plant

LUBAO, Pampanga — Gov. Lilia G. Pineda along with the local officials and MacKay Green Energy (MGE) International company on Monday led the inauguration and blessing rites of the $65-million Integrated Waste to Energy Plant located at the MRF site in Barangay Sta. Catalina here.

Pineda said that the country’s first Integrated Waste to Energy Plant is expected to be constructed by August this year at the Lubao MRF, this town.

The governor said the MacKay Green Energy is a private company managed by MGE President Shane Mulcahy.

In a press briefing, Mulcahy said the new technology removes the need for landfills and produces Green Electricity from garbage.

The MacKay Green Energy (MGE) has formed a joint venture company with the Pampanga Green Management Inc., (PGM ) to provide its patented Waste to Green Energy Technology and expertise and establish an Integrated Waste Management Facility.

The Municipality of Lubao, Mulcahy said, has agreed to become a partner in the JV and its Sangguniang Bayan ratified the project contract last April 15.

MacKay Green Energy will develop the initial stage of the JV by installing its leading Waste to Renewable Energy Technology. The plant will use the MacKay Exner Waste Processing System, operational in Germany for 30 years, so as to allow the processing of 800tpd of MSW. The process enables raw MSW to be classified into component parts, recyclables and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).

The MacKay Exner System can also be expanded to allow the processing of e-Waste.
The fuel (RDF) that is recovered during the waste processing is then used to produce Renewable Energy by burning it in the MacKay Indirectly Fired Gas Turbine (IFGT), a technology developed in Australia.

The major advantages that the IFGT offers over conventional Renewable Energy Processes is the conversion efficiency of Energy (fuel) to Electricity.

The IFGT uses almost half the fuel that would be required to produce the same amount of electricity using a Boiler Steam Turbine system. -- FGR


Mayor reports on first year accomplishments

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan will report on his accomplishments for the first year of his administration during the flag-raising ceremonies tomorrow 8 a.m. at the Baguio Convention Center.

The State-of-the-City Address is expected to focus on the gains attained in the various development thrusts which the mayor spelled out when he assumed anew as chief executive a year ago.

These thrusts are the solution of the city’s garbage problem, environment preservation, infrastructure development, market development, improved educational services, revitalization of business and commerce through the creation of more economic activities and more jobs, improvement and beautification of parks, revitalization of the tourism industry, promotion of health awareness, sports and education programs, provision of more scholarship grants, medical assistance and livelihood opportunities, establishment of more programs for the elderly, women and persons with disability.

The mayor said these achievements are a result of the participatory governance he has espoused in his administration.

“Everything is a result of the unity and teamwork of the various sectors that continue to propel the success of the various programs and projects that we implement in the city,” the mayor said.

The mayor said the SOCA will be open to the public.


Solon cites benefits of autonomy consultations

PUDTOL, Apayao – The grassroots consultations on the proposed draft of the third autonomy law is a giant step towards realizing the mandate of the Philippine Constitution in establishing an autonomous region in the Cordillera, Rep. Eleonore Bulut-Begtang said.

Speaking recently before members of the provincial development council composed of municipal mayors of the seven towns and provincial department and agency heads, the lady solon cited efforts of the Regional Development Council in crafting the working draft now being subjected to consultations.

She cited need for everyone to actively participate in gatherings organized for the purpose of discussing autonomy so that their inputs will be considered in the crafting of the bill to be filed in Congress in the future.

According to Begtang, the proposed autonomy law must ensure that previous issues that resulted to the rejection of the two Organic Acts which were presented to the Cordillerans, particularly the failure of the laws to encompass the concerns of the people in the region, must be effectively addressed by the third autonomy law so that the people will willingly accept the same.

She said the third autonomy law must also ensure the proper utilization of the region’s resources coupled with the meaningful allocation of funds no matter how meager they are so that the resources of government will be utilized for the development of the region.

The lawmaker, daughter of former Rep. and Gov. Elias K. Bulut, Sr. and sister of incumbent Gov. Elias Bulut, Jr., cited need for more consultations so that the people, especially those in far flung communities, will understand self-governance for them not to be misled by critics of the renewed quest for regional autonomy.

When the first autonomy law was submitted to the Cordillerans for ratification during a plebiscite on January 30, 1990, only Ifugao province voted in favor of being autonomous while only Apayao province voted in favor of the second autonomy law which was presented to the people for ratification on March 7, 1998.

She said what is important is the regional government will have greater control of the region’s resources coupled with the fact that the local governments will be able to directly receive their share from the national wealth taxes paid by multinational companies operating in their respective places so that there will be substantial amount that could be used for locally funded development projects instead of solely relying on their share from the national government that takes years to be released. -- Dexter A. See


Investigating anomalous cases


There is sense in the proposal of Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano for the government to set up an organized system of investigating issues concerning past administrations in light of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office scam investigations.

The senator had expressed his disappointment with the slow pace of investigation and the unorganized manner in which investigations have been conducted.

He said since there is no Truth Commission, there is nothing to stop the President from creating either a super fact-finding body or a number of fact-finding committees in different departments to gather evidence.

Cayetano said even if a new Ombudsman is appointed, he would still need to have evidence based on facts which will have to come from different agencies and departments.

He also noted that investigations into the PCSO scam and all of the unresolved anomalies of the Arroyo administration needed to be put closure to emphasize the difference between the Aquino administration and the past administration.

“The Arroyo administration style of resolving cases was to let the issue die over time then later say that the issue is considered closed. But until you know who did the crime, what the crime is and what the perpetrators got, you cannot say that a case is solved,” he explained.

According to Cayetano, it is important for the Aquino administration to show that the Philippine government is capable of putting closure into big graft cases by completely solving the case, not only by closing these.

In this light, the Senate minority leader also called on the administration to conduct a parallel investigation in support of the Senate probe investigating the alleged PCSO scam.

He said this parallel investigation can be done by the PCSO itself or the bodies outside or apart from the agency itself.

This includes the P325M ‘intelligence fund’ which could have built 474 more classrooms, according to ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio.

Tinio said that the so-called ‘intelligence fund’ amounting to P325 million could have helped the shortages of critical school inputs such as classrooms.

“This huge amount could have built 474 more classrooms,” said Tinio. “We could have prevented scenarios during the school opening like that in Payatas B Elementary School where pupils can hardly concentrate on their studies because of their congested classrooms,” he added.

During the Senate probe, former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte said PCSO utilized P325 million for clandestine intelligence from 2008 to 2010. Uriarte bared the biggest chunk of expenditures, amounting to P138 million, was disbursed between January and June 2010, covering the period of 2010 elections.

“The PCSO fund is intended to provide for the poor Filipinos who are in dire need of health and other social services,” said Tinio. “Unfortunately, it was clearly used by the Arroyo administration as its own pork barrel to distribute material support to its political allies.”

With these anomalies, like what Cayetano said, a more organized way of solving these cases would be in order.


‘Overcharging’ power cooperatives

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY -- There is now a growing clamor among consumers of the Benguet Electric Coop. for the power firm to bare to the public its financial status following allegations of graft and corruption allegedly by management.

This was a sentiment of those who attended a recent city council hearing here to determine how to start an electric cooperative exclusively for Baguio without Beneco following persistent complaints of mismanagement like questionable acquisition of materials and properties like the lot worth millions of pesos at South Drive.

According to proponents like former provincial board member Bial Palaez, member consumers would have more control of a separate power cooperative if Beneco would be allowed to operate only in Benguet.

Martin Manodon of the Cooperative Development Agency agreed with Pelaez saying it would even be better if the new coop would be registered under the CDA as member consumers would have more benefits like dividends.
Beneco power consumers have long been complaining of not getting dividends or rebates from the power firm despite the fact that its operations have been lucrative over the years.

Consumers said the coop had been raking in profits worth millions of pesos but where the money went is still a question as the financial status of Beneco had not been sufficiently by management during its annual general assemblies.

We are not saying the present management of Beneco is engaged in hanky panky regarding funds of the cooperative as complainants have not gone far enough in filing charges for their grievances. After all, everybody should be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.

Anyhow, Beneco consumers or “members” are not alone in their predicament as the management of most power firms under the Energy Regulatory Commission nationwide have been the object of complaints of consumers for alleged graft and corruption, mismanagement among others.
Just last week, a consumers’ group in Angeles City in Central Luzon urged the ERC to look into its claim that tens of thousands of electric consumers in the city have been overcharged by the Angeles Electric Co. (AEC) by as much as P528.9 million since 2005.

In a letter addressed to the ERC commissioners, Pete Ilagan, president of the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (Nasecor), presented a study by his group indicating that AEC allegedly overcharged consumers by P108.9 million in 2005, P54.8 million in 2006, P160.1 million in 2007, and P205 million in 2008.

“We find this over-collection alarming because we take this as an abuse of market power when AEC decided to deliberately keep to itself these over-collections instead of disclosing these by way of a petition to reduce its current rates,” Ilagan said.
Copies of the Nasecor letter were furnished Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and the heads of the Senate and House committees on energy.

The AEC is owned by relatives of former Angeles mayor Francisco Nepomuceno, who is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the same party to which ERC chairperson Zenaida Ducut belonged to when she was congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district.

Ducut is a known ally of former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who appointed her to the post.

Ilagan said, “Had the ERC done its primary duty of reviewing the annual revenues it granted the AEC, it would have easily discovered these over-collections which Nasecor, on its own initiative, has discovered.”
His letter presented a table that showed AEC’s yearly total revenues, cost of power, actual distribution revenues, approved unbundled revenues, and amount of overcharging.
From 2005 to 2008, Ilagan said AEC had allegedly overcharged consumers in the amount of P528,977,139.

“To determine if AEC was getting its ERC-approved annual revenue requirement, Nasecor studied AEC’s 2006 to 2009 annual reports and compared its ERC reports, and compared its ERC-approved annual revenue requirements against its actual annual revenues,” Ilagan said in his letter.
He said the ERC “blatantly failed to closely monitor and review the operations of AEC” to also find out the electric firm’s “systems loss percentage which should be reflected if the utility is operating efficiently or not.”

“We urge the ERC to immediately conduct a regulatory audit of AEC and reduce its rates and stop over-collection,” Ilagan said. He also asked that AEC be made to refund consumers for the overcharges.
The AEC dismissed as “absurd” the allegation of the consumer group that it had overcharged its customers by P528.9 million from 2005 to 2008.

In a statement, Myra Rivera, head of the AEC customer service department, said, “While the unbundled rates of AEC, under Energy Regulatory Commission Case No. 2001-894, were approved in 2004, the implementation was deferred until July 2008 pending the resolution of a motion for reconsideration that was filed by the utility with the ERC.”

“Our distribution rates were never changed during the said period,” Rivera said. “In fact, prior to the 2008 implementation of its unbundled rates, AEC distribution rates never increased for 12 years.”

She added that AEC “has remained under the return-on-rate basis (RORB) methodology (from) 1996 until 2008.” But the Nasecor under Ilagan is unconvinced and want a thorough investigation on the matter.

Had the Beneco been overcharging consumers like the claims of the Angeles power firm? Next week, we will delve more on Beneco regarding related concerns like those raised in the Baguio City council hearing.


Rep. Gloria’s ‘Trojan Horse’

Perry Diaz

Former Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, the accused mass murderer of “Maguindanao Massacre” infamy almost convinced President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III into considering him as state witness in the multiple murder case against his father Andal Ampatuan Sr., his brother Andal Ampatuan Jr., and himself.

P-Noy seemed to entertain the notion after he heard Zaldy’s “confession” during an interview with ABS-CBN Radio-TV. Then, suddenly, Zaldy digressed and began spilling the beans on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Mike for complicity in electoral frauds in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections.
And just about the same time, fugitive Lintang Bedol emerged after four years in hiding and started singing like a canary. And nothing could have amused P-Noy more than Bedol collaborating Zaldy’s revelations.

Interviewed by ABS-CBN News, Bedol — former Maguindanao election supervisor –claimed that massive cheating occurred during the 2004 presidential elections. He also collaborated Zaldy’s revelation that Gloria gave instructions in the 2007 senatorial elections to use “dagdag-bawas” (vote padding-vote shaving) scheme to make sure that Benigno Aquino III, Panfilo Lacson, and Alan Peter Cayetano – who were running for re-election — got “zero” votes. The cheating resulted in 12-0 victory for her Lakas-Kampi senatorial candidates in Mindanao.

So, what started as an attempt to become state witness in the Maguindanao massacre, Zaldy – with the collaboration of Bedol – torpedoed Gloria and Mike for electoral fraud in 2004 and 2007. Instantly, Zaldy and Bedol became priceless assets to P-Noy not only in prosecuting Gloria for her role in the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal but for the massive corruption that existed in the ARMM region during Zaldy’s reign as governor.
Recently, Gloria’s legal spokesman Atty. Raul Lambino was interviewed on TV. When asked if he believes that Gloria was innocent of the allegations against her, his answer was it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide her guilt or innocence. I find his answer rather odd. He could have said, “I believe Mrs. Arroyo is innocent of all those allegations,” and nobody would have refuted that since it was just an opinion. But it seems that – subconsciously — Lambino was not convinced that Gloria was indeed innocent and that she would stand nary a chance of being absolved in the lower and appellate courts. If so, then the Supreme Court would be where Gloria would take her last stand.

In my article, “Arroyo’s Court of Last Defense” (PerryScope, December 8, 2010), I wrote: “Indeed, with the Ombudsman as her line of ‘first defense’ and the Supreme Court her line of ‘last defense,’ Arroyo stands on a solid footing safe from prosecution. She could be ‘untouchable.’ However, if Aquino were to exert his political influence and work to consolidate his forces in the House of Representatives to take a bolder approach in impeaching Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, they might find a way to proceed with the impeachment proceeding and break the impregnability of Arroyo’s Court of Last Defense.”

As it turned out, the House impeached Gutierrez; however, she resigned before the Senate trial began. Consequently, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) interviewed 27 candidates for Ombudsman, four of which were shortlisted and submitted to P-Noy to select his choice for Ombudsman.

But Gloria’s hold on a majority group of Supreme Court justices appears to be slipping. There is no more assurance that the “utang na loob” – debt of gratitude – of her appointees to the high court would still be as strong as before. Within a few years, most of them would most likely consider their indebtedness repaid and relieved of any more obligation to protect her.

It would not then come as a surprise that Gloria would attempt to re-establish the Office of the Ombudsman as her line of “first defense.” But she has to move fast to influence P-Noy into appointing someone who could — or would — shield her from prosecution in the same manner Gutierrez did before.
There is one candidate for Ombudsman who I believe is Gloria’s “Trojan horse,” presented to P-Noy to make sure that if he’s appointed Ombudsman, Gloria would remain untouchable for the next seven years.

Last July 11, 2011, P-Noy told reporters in Roxas City that he’ll not interview all four candidates on the shortlist, maybe only the two who are in his “own shortlist.” However, he didn’t name them because he has yet to inform the other two who were no longer in the running.

Amado P. Macasaet in his latest Malaya column, “Chiz, Ochoa favor GMA,” said that there is a campaign against retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales as the next Ombudsman.

“Strangely,” said Macasaet, “the campaign is headed by President Aquino’s own executive secretary assisted by Senator Chiz Escudero who is presumed to be a Malacañang ally.

“Even more strange is the possibility that the next Ombudsman was a staunch defender of Gloria Arroyo and counsel of resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez when she was under impeachment threat by the House of Representatives.

“Last Tuesday [July 12, 2011], Chiz Escudero accompanied Artemio Toquero, former secretary of justice, to Malacañang for an interview with President Aquino. If Toquero, a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo, is appointed Ombudsman, Gloria Arroyo would have won her campaign against Mrs. Carpio Morales.”

Two days later, on July 14, P-Noy interviewed Carpio-Morales and PCGG Commissioner Gerard Mosquera, who presumably were the two on P-Noy’s “own shortlist.” It became apparent that Tuquero was not on P-Noy’s “own shortlist.” But nevertheless, Escudero accompanying Tuquero to Malacañang for that interview with P-Noy seemed like a concerted effort by him and Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa to pressure P-Noy into appointing Tuquero.

With Ochoa and Escudero backing Tuquero to the hilt, I would not be surprised if P-Noy would accede to appointing Tuquero. And if P-Noy appointed Tuquero, could it be that a “political settlement” of the Aquino-Arroyo war might be in the works, and which would ultimately shield Gloria from prosecution? Makes one wonder what roles would Escudero and Ochoa play in things to come?
If P-Noy is really sincere in pursuing his campaign promise, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” then he should beware of Greeks bearing gifts. If King Priam of Troy had followed a wise man’s advice, “Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.” Indeed, Troy would have survived the Greek invasion if King Priam did not allow the huge wooden horse to enter Troy.

The appointment of the Ombudsman would be the defining moment of P-Noy’s presidency. Will he be written in history as the leader who stopped corruption and broke the yoke of poverty? Or will he be just another cheap politician who broke the promises he made?


Culture, language and pattern of development

Ramon Dacawi

That news item about the difficulty of delegates to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Bali to demystify acronyms like SEANWFZ and ZoPFF/C inspired this revisit to a piece I wrote two years ago. (Lest we also “drown in Asean’s alphabet soup”, the acronyms stand for Southeast Asia Nuclear WeaponspFree Zone and Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation.)

The issue about language or jargon complicating or blocking development is found in that humorous - and therefore interesting - alcoholic product endorsement by Manny Pacquiao. The boxing legend reads and orders from the menu “roasted mountain legumes” to go as finger food (pulutan) in his drinking session with billiards ace Efren “Bata” Reyes and other friends.

Television viewers need not strain for the meaning of the three-word combination. In a second or two, it comes swift and clear, solid and telling as any three-punch combination from Pacquiao. The meaning comes on a dish of roasted peanuts, a legume native among the Incas and other indigenous peoples of the mountains of South America.

My own indigenous mind bounces to an analogy by the respected Baguio lawyer Art Galace to explain the difference between involvement and commitment. He said it can be found in a breakfast plate of ham and egg. The chicken gave the egg, and that’s involvement. The pig contributed the ham, and that’s commitment. Instead of telling, Art showed the difference. The whole point of the ad and comparison (or“benchmark” in “development” gobbledygook) is a lesson for all who are into “sustainable development”.

By “all”, I mean fund grant agencies, consultants, workers in the field, those in government, erstwhile non-government organizations (NGO) who re-labeled themselves “civil society” and anybody advocating “good governance”, “gender sensitivity” or whatever issues need to be addressed to “empower beneficiary (some call “client”) communities” as “efficient and effective stakeholders, champions and partners in development engagements” during “summits, strategic planning, benchmarking” and whatever “processes and strategies” ( SWOT analysis or team building) are being “conceived and conceptualized” towards the formulation of “well-defined, clear and concise missions and visions”, “programs of action” and even “declarations” of commitment to “sustainable development”, a by-word that emerged from that “historic” 1992 World Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in the same continent where Manny Pacquiao’s “mountain legume” came from.

We need to simplify and demystify the language of development if we are truly committed in helping villages become “role models” and “success stories” in “sustainable development”. (The jargon of the preceding paragraph of this mangled and angry piece hardly clarifies and simplifies. It reflects nothing but my own confusion and struggle to understand and come to terms with development gobbledygook, together with my urgent need for sponsorship to a jargon-juggling seminar to makes heads and tails of these freshly minted and falsely elegant words, tags and phrases churned out everyday, supposedly to speed up understanding of and actual development work.

To borrow again the words of Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of Green Corss International at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona, enough is enough. Gorbachev pleaded enough of those numerous “declarations”, “challenges” “pacts and agreements” signed over the years to reduce world poverty. He laments the reduction of these broken promises to forgotten paper and ink. Enough of this word-minting and word-bending in the name of development.

It took me sometime wondering why NGOs renamed themselves “civil society”, and whether they refer to government as the “uncivil society”. If the meaning points that way, it’s a misnomer. Lack of civility is not exclusive to government. Neither are corruption, mediocrity and lack of transparency a monopoly of those in government.

I feel horrible like Hagar the Horrible, the Viking-looking comics strip character. While he was walking through his village’s main street, someone, perhaps a drunk, poked his head outside a bar and shouted “barbarian!”. Not knowing what the tag meant, he strode into a library and opened a dictionary. He then took the tome to the bar and banged it on his name-caller’s head.

Development jargon seeped into our heads that time we joined a team that met (touched based with, according to development lingo) village folks in northern Sagada, Mt. Province. Our team presented in “matrix form” a “community-based” program to protect a water source the villagers share with other villages.

Our development language, and that of the project features and figures on manila paper we posted on the walls immediately raised suspicion. A villager asked if it was another project of government, giving us the suspicion they’d been introduced to similar development projects before, through the same pattern and language. Another asked whether it was our project for them to implement. We told them it was their project for them to implement.

It took them sometime to believe us. Then town mayor Thom Killip, now the presidential assistant for development in the Cordillera, saw through the confusion triggered by our language of development. He told his constituents to forget the terms we used. He said they have been doing projects for their communities in their own terms and language.

With that, the language, format and process shifted to those of the village. The project, titled “headwaters enhancement”(to conform to the format of the project proposal) was renamed “tubbogan”, a native term which roughly means “to increase production” of a water source.

Forester Manny Pogeyed, a native of the place who prepared the project proposal granted by the United Nations Development Programme, found relief. He was home in Sagada where native farmers also produce and roast mountain legume.

With this basic lesson learned, particularly on “cultural sensitivity”, we sipped lemon grass and coffee grown and roasted in nearby Fidelisan (or Pidlisan) and brewed at the Bangaan National High School .

I felt lucky to have read the children’s version of “Agenda 21”, the document that emerged out of the Rio Summit. It’s my guide whenever kids explore Baguio’s remaining forest water source under Eco-walk, a program inspired and guided by the sustainable wisdom of our Igorot forebears. (e-mail: for comments).


Baac diffuses CPLA tension / Korean builds clinic in Tabuk

March L. Fianza

All things come to an end. Meek as lambs, members of the “soon to be old-fashioned” Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army of the late Father Conrado Balweg obeyed the request of Kalinga Gov. Jocel Baac to come to a dialogue and thresh out problems between themselves.

Apart from the tension produced by the misunderstanding between the two CPLA camps and the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Wednesday afternoon atmosphere was wrapped with joyfulness as it was Baac’s 50th birthday.

Those present in the dialogue were the Armed Forces of the Philippines represented by Col. Yerson Depayso and Col. Eugene Batara, the Philippine National Police represented by Senior Supt. Ernesto Gaab, representatives from the OPAPP, Mayor Gabby Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mt. Province; and Kalinga local government unit heads James Eduba , Johnny Dickpus, Fernando Abay and Johnny Tiggangay.

I was quite surprised with how Baac managed and controlled the heated discussion in the CPLA dialogue. Unfortunately, nobody among the newsmen present brought a videocam to document the live proceedings. It could have been good material for mediators and negotiators.

The governor’s comments and body language in diffusing the tension were worth appreciating. For example, he jokingly redefined Cordillera Bodong Administration or CBA as “Cordillera Basketball Association” which made the crowd and both CPLA factions smile.

The faction under Engr. Andy Ngao-i and Mike Sugguiyao has been questioning the MOA signed between the OPAPP and the CBA-CPLA faction under Marcelia Bahatan, Arsenio Humiding and because of the term “closure” that was used in the agreement.

Here, Baac jokingly said if the term “closure” is causing the problem then it can easily be changed to “closet…”

Mayor Ganggangan and the OPAPP said the MOA aims to transform the CBA-CPLA into an economic body where livelihood, employment and development projects in CPLA areas would be pursued.

But while the Kalinga mayors of towns where the CPLA is present understand the fact that the MOA was in effect since it was already signed, they gladly welcomed the socio-infra projects attached to the agreement.

On the other hand, while Ngao-i’s faction respects the stand of the mayors who welcomed the implementation of the projects, the group says the MOA or “closure agreement” connotes the resumption of hostilities because it practically closes the “ceasefire agreement” that was signed on Sept. 13, 1986 by the CPLA and Malacanang.

“How could Humiding bind us when we were not consulted about the MOA,” Ngao-i continued and lashed at the OPAPP saying, “Maybe OPAPP does not want Cordillera to have peace because once we have peace, they will no longer exist.”

CPLA member Juanita Chulsi said the MOA should not compromise the Mt. Data “Sipat” or peace agreement. In an emotional mode she said, “Gabby and Humiding, you can have all the development you want but do not compromise the Mt. Data peace accord.”

Here, after listening to expressive outbursts, Baac would again hold the speakers by saying “aguray pay… ag-relax tayo pay.” I saw this as a practical step in mediating heated speakers. Of course, the mediator or the person presiding should be acceptable to both parties.

Old friend and co-musician Lawrence Bayongan was also emotional as he suggested that OPAPP creates a trust fund or download the project funds worth hundreds of millions to the LGUs and do away with the committee that will assist in the implementation of the projects.

Earlier in separate instances, I talked to representatives of both CPLA factions where I sensed that they partly blamed the OPAPP for allowing the MOA without satisfying the sentiments of all camps concerned.

Baac likened the CPLA issue to a “sleeping tiger” that was awakened and that was not easy to control. “If this will lead to gulo (disorderliness), I will ask the PNoy to suspend the implementation of the MOA,” he told both CPLA groups.

Humiding, Ganggangan and the group of Ngao-i and Sugguiyao could not give me answers why OPAPP agreed to the proposals of one but denied the proposals of the other, when both submitted proposals that they thought were for the development of the CPLA communities.

This also puzzled the mayors, prompting Edubba to suggest that OPAPP meet with the faction of Ngao-i so they can also present their proposal.

The latest agreement was for both CPLA factions to continue meeting with Baac who chairs the Regional Development Council and the Regional Peace and Order Council chaired by Ifugao Gov. Eugene Balitang, before they seek audience with PNoy.

At least, the tension-filled dialogue between two opposing CPLA groups was fruitful in a way because its members were able to express whatever anger they kept in their hearts.
Henry Gupaal of the governor’s office helped us maximize our quick visit to Kalinga by assisting us to more news that was worth writing about.

Some 20 kilometers away, we drove on Jonathan “Baac” Llanes car to find out that a Foundation based in South Korea built a two-building mini-hospital in Barangay Agbanawag, Tabuk.

The mini-hospital under the watch of Dr. Ruth Duguiang can accommodate more than a dozen patients, who after receiving first aid or primary treatment and diagnosis, may be transferred to bigger hospitals.

At present, the mini-hospital that was funded by some US$33,000 assistance from Sec. Gen. Mr. Heung Sik Shin of the Medical Peace Foundation, caters to residents of four neighboring barangays and the nearby town of Quezon, Isabela.

This was constructed during the time of then Gov. Dominador Belac but its operation was stopped as the province did not have extra funds to operate it. Soon after, its roof was blown away by a typhoon.

Gupaal said, Gov. Baac was able to secure funds for its repair and made it operational, again with the help of the Korean Foundation. This was considered a project under the Public-Private-Partnership program of PNoy. –


A vision for Cordillera


Esther Dawn E. Paclim and Zeph O. Agayo

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- That the Cordillera Administrative Region be developed to the best she can become, has long been a dream and constant outcry. This dream maybe slow in coming; but the long wait will be worth it all. As a history-proven strategy, the adage “slowly but surely” has proven good results.

Consider the odds of her rough rugged mountainous terrains and deep ravines, her own cultural and social diversities and influx of more diverse cultures and influence, and her difficulties in pitching in a strong and united voice -- all keep getting in the way of keeping in step with the demands of globalization.

The biggest truth Cordillerans have been contending with is that of proving themselves worthy of autonomy -that is, being able to self-govern, self-sustain and being self-sufficient.

On the contrary, she does not have to prove herself because she has had a glorious political and economical past. In days of yore, long before the Spaniards tried to conquer, long before the Americans came, she has had a technology all her own, probably even considered distinguished in her time.

Political will was a prominent trait, it being vested upon the council of community elders, upon a strong sense of community, and upon a system of rites and rituals that controlled the society. Good governance was complemented by a conscientious, punctilious, and scrupulous constituency. Justice was served swift; people knew a just decision.

Political will and good governance is illustrated in the practice of the head-hunting and juramentado. A person who intended to avenge himself first went to this council of elders to raise his case and to justify his intention -to avenge himself. That he is permitted to do so a signified by the rites performed, something akin to being bestowed blessing so his revenge be a success.

If he comes home successful in his revenge, the council of elders take the responsibility of contracting a peace pact with the "revenged," which is known as Budong by the Kalinga, Bultong, Bangibang, and Him-ong by the Ifugaos, and Pechen by the Bontocs. Yes, this rampage is a legitimate community affair, not a personal whim because the vengeful who has not the blessing of the elders are not accorded this protection.

Another instance where good governance is reflected is in the Igorot manner of Aduyon, their version of bayanihan. During planting and harvesting season , the elders schedule the sequence as to who gets helped, from the first to the last. Those who think who can get away with escaping responsibility, cannot; worst, they get ostracized.

The same community helping goes in building or moving houses or in preparing for weddings and ritual feasts, in wakes and burials, even in giving birth. Even the most menial personal and family affairs like the choice of a husband/wife, was also community affair. In times like these, the mambunong or mumbaki take control and dictate what to and what not to do inorder not to displease the spirits and to dispel curse.

Igorot economics was an institution all its own. Igorot economy heavily depended upon natural resources. As a nature-reliant people, they have mastered the art of kaingin, of the Moyong and the Komunal so that the soil and the forest could replenish itself. Mt. Pulag, and the Ifugao Rice Terraces are landmark testimonies of good economic and environmental stewardship and management. Because of plenitude, oversupply to an extreme, among the Ibalois especially, were days and days, even months of Peshet, a festivity of bounty and thanksgiving. Merry-making and pig-butchering lasted for months at a time. This, in years of yore have gone past fast. Not because of impoverishment but so much has changed.

Until now, Benguet is producing world-class gold and ore. Unfortunately, Benguet is not the primary beneficiary. With autonomy, we look forward to that day when we have our turn enjoying gold benefits, even if they are left-overs. Autonomy should give us a louder voice, perhaps? Or a gold economy will make our voices louder and our acts stronger together?

Given back that right to self-governance, Cordilleras will be in a vantage point of controlling and managing their own political affairs and natural resources. Given back their right to self-governance makes sense because it is giving back to them their innate sense of accountability and responsibility to the government they are serving.

Part of good governance is local participation in governance and empowering the indigenous peoples -they are given the leeway in meeting their own developmental needs. An economically progressive Cordilleras will be at a vantage point of being a vehicle of progress for the whole of the country. Given back the reigns to self-sustenance and self-sufficiency, Cordillera will thrive and soar higher than where it is now.

Above all, the heart of achieving autonomy is that of keeping our acts together, acts that we refine are the acts that contribute to build unity; unity in heart, soul and spirit; unity in focus,, dreams and desires; and, unity in thought, word and deed. In unity is strength, and the fuel to upsurge . The aphorism "united we stand, divided we fall" will do good in preserving our natural resources and environmental heritage; in preserving our historical, cultural and traditional treasures; and, in nurturing the character traits and values that marked our glorious past.

What assurance is the success of Cordillera autonomy? The Igorot brand of good governance attributed to their general disposition as a peace-loving people; the Igorot trait of self-dependence in achieving what they dream for; and, more than these, the legal workings laid all these years to prove ancestral domain. Mind you, laying the legal foundation for autonomy has been sweat and tears, but the day will come when the Cordilleras will achieve political, economical and legal autonomy.


Coming home and the birth of a radio program

>> Saturday, July 23, 2011

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE- It had been an interesting weekend with the coming home of kailyan, Jerry ‘Pageet’ Abeya, from the US to Sagada a few week ago. Jerry Abeya fondly called by his Igorot name Page-et, Page8 for short, or Bogsot, had been here in Sagada to be with his 98 year old mother, Flora Bondad Abeya the past week and attend the golden wedding anniversary of his older sister Jane Abeya and brother- in -law, Atty William Claver at Tabuk City, Kalinga July 16 this year.

Interesting, as the coming home enabled yahoo group KyErs ( Kotim ya Eta) members from Sagada come together over steaming azucena, cups of aromatic Arabica koffee, and doses of patarante de fundada with the gracious hosting of KyEr Graal Bayang at her home at Alibama Pinikpikan Haus.

Enjoyed the company with co- KyErs Graal, former mayor Tom ‘Champag’Killip, vice mayor Richard Yodong, Jaime ‘Tigan-o' Dugao currently provincial community affairs officer such that MTC judge Hugh Gayman who was also with us that time jokingly refers to Manong Jaime as Secretary to the Interior hahah! Other Sangguniang Bayan members Francis Kilongan and Valentin Lam-sen joined us for dinner.

Was good to note that Radyo Sagada staff Marites Matulay, Brenda Fuchay, Konyap Omaweng, and station manager Mary Carlin were also with us.

So the cheerful chatter over P8’s homecoming, and intense discussions on favoring or not regional autonomy, and the Mountain Province State Polytechnique College (MPSPC) brouhaha, led to a radio interview of P8 in our one and only Radyo Sagada the next day.

The radio station, 104.7 FM reaches the western, southern and northern towns of Mt Province namely Besao, Tadian, Sabangan, Sagada, and Bontoc. With the radio relay lines located at Mt Ampakaw, the radio signal reaches as far as Conner, Apayao; Tubo Abra; Quirino Ilocos Sur; Mt Polis, MP-Ifugao boundary, and Sinipsip, Benguet.

And so the radio program, 'Gawis ubpay nan kasin sumaa' (It’s good to be back home again) was born on July 21. It’s a pioneering initiative and we look forward to other expatriates from around the world who come home visit us here at the station. This radio program also welcomes kailyan who reside in other parts of the Philippines and who had not been home for quite some time.

So Jerry talked about life in the US because texters asked how life in the US is, and how is employment over at USA. Very interesting because answers come from someone who stayed long in the US for some ten years and another ten years in Australia.

To texters asking how life is in the US, Jerry advised that life is better in the Philippines unlike in the US where life is work, work, and work with personal touch lacking in the work that one is into.

Economy has gone down with the recession still being felt by the average American resident in the US, he said. Although economic life among Igorot in the US is good enough, he said. Must be that the industrious Igorot carries with him the trait of being industrious in other countries as well?
Jerry advised that one should not just go to the US with no guaranteed employer.

And so we further talked about how Igorots help each other and how ‘iliw’ (homesickness) is handled living in far away from home and families, and he said there are Igorot groups and organizations including BIBAK San Diego and BIBAK Maryland who regularly come together. Cyber links are around which have been created including KyE and the historic BIBAKnets created by Harry ’DaKing” Basingat, based at US.

And of course, P8 talked about impressions when he went home to Sagada, reiterating what ka-ilyan Conrad Aben said that that business is going fast in Sagada, somehow should slow down a little bit taking the rural location of the place and the culture of the people.

“Am touched when a kailyan who met me along the way said, ‘gawis ta sinmaa ka ta igeygey mo si inam’ (Good that you went home to take care of your mother), he said. Really touching because personal and cultural links are strong in this closely knit town among people in general.
KyE means Kotim ya Eta (Chaff and Grain). It’s a yahoo group borne out of social and cultural togetherness to link and update each other, talk about whatever under the sun from kinships to Kankanaey translations of pigs to chickens to gold and dust, to politics to regional autonomy, to energy, human rights, indigenous peoples rights, to God and the Bible, to inayan, reproductive health and sex.

True to its date of birth, KyE was founded on the anniversary date of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, 2008. It has nearly 350 members who have strong cultural values and who dominantly come from Sagada, Besao, and some from Tadian, Bauko, Sabangan, Bontoc found all over the world from the north to the South Pole.

In its home page, KyE says, ‘this e-group invites individuals who speak the northern Kankanaey dialect and who understand what “kotim” and "eta" are, to subscribe and join this "ag-ag-gongan-in-the-sky". Those who do not speak Kankanaey but are willing to learn the "langwich" and at the same time to understand about "eta" and "kotim", are also welcome. Any language is welcome though as long as members understand the language used. Anything goes in this forum provided that posts are ‘with malice toward none and with charity for all’. With or without sense but preferably with, exchanges can be one or a combination of the 4 adjectival "e's"- educational, enlightening, entertaining, or enformative.”

Ala, wasdi esa ay makikotim ya maki-eta ya men-istorya.


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