Deaths reach 43 in Central, Northern Luzon: Dengue fatalities still getting higher

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

Dengue claimed 43 more lives in northern and Central Luzon even as officials sought measures to stop or abate the dreaded disease.

In Cagayan Valley, a six-year-old kindergarten pupil from Ramon town in Isabela was the latest to succumb to dengue, bringing to 21 the number of fatalities of the mosquito-borne disease in the region since January this year.

This year’s fatalities, a three-fold increase from the same period last year, included three minors from Echague town in Isabela, which has accounted for the biggest number of dengue cases in the region.

Marianne Lyn de Laza, head of the Department of Health’s regional epidemiology unit, attributed most of the dengue deaths to “late medical consultation” by the victims’ parents.

According to the unit’s records, there had been a 164 percent increase in dengue cases –2,718 cases from last January from 1,015 cases during the same period last year. Half of the victims are children aged 13 and below.

Latest DOH reports show Isabela has had 926 cases, with 14 deaths; followed by Batanes with 708 cases and one death; Nueva Vizcaya, 552 and three deaths; Cagayan, 471 and two deaths; and Quirino, 232 and one death.

Batanes was earlier placed under a state of calamity due to the dreaded diseases, which claimed the life of a nine-month-old girl from Basco town, the first dengue fatality in the tiny island province.

In Vigan City, Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson convened all town officials and local health authorities to an emergency consultative conference dubbed as “Dengue Summit” last week to seriously address the spread of the disease that has claimed 12 lives.

Earlier, Singson had placed Ilocos Sur under a state of calamity to enable the provincial government to avail itself of funds to come to the aid of afflicted rural folk.

In the conference, anti-dengue provincial health team leader Benjamin Castillo said a total of 2,293 dengue victims were undergoing treatment in local clinics and hospitals as of Aug. 18, with 12 deaths recorded. Last Aug. 16, the number of cases was only 1,784.

The number of cases so far, according to Castillo, is 370 percent more than last year’s.

In Ilocos Norte, Laoag City was placed earlier under state of calamity due to dengue outbreak, with more than 250 cases recorded since January, with eight deaths.

In Alfonso Lista, Ifugao, Myrna Ancheta, public health nurse of the rural health unit said a 7-year old boy from barangay Potia died recently as the dengue cases rose to 142 last week.

Ancheta said that for this year, there are no cases in January, four in February, two in March; one each for April and May, 40 in June and 140 for July.

The neighboring town of Aguinaldo had 63 cases. In the other towns, Lamut had 28, Lagawe and Mayoyao, five each; Asipulo-4; Kiangan 3; Banaue-2; Hungduan-1 for a total of 253. Hingyon and Tinoc had zero cases.

In Abra, health authorities reported a decrease of 54% in dengue cases for this year from January to August 2011.

Virginia Lalin, coordinator for the provincial epidemiology surveillance unit and Marilou P. Briosos, coordinator for the provincial dengue program of the integrated provincial health office, reported dengue cases in Abra decreased to 133 cases for January to August 2011 from 277 cases covering the same period last year.

Last year, all 27 municipalities in the province had dengue cases. This year, there were three municipalities with zero reported cases: Daguioman, Manabo and San Juan.

In San Mateo, Isabela, a barangay councilman died Wednesday of leptospirosis he contracted when he cleaned a sewer unprotected.

Federico Sison Sr., councilman of Barangay Tres, San Mateo town, wore no pair of boots or gloves when he joined the cleanup last week, according to barangay chairman Cesar Villafuerte.

Doctors at a private hospital in Cauayan City diagnosed Sison with leptospirosis, a deadly viral disease caused by rodent’s urine.

Villafuerte said he noticed Sison had a wound on his feet when he stepped into the sewer to remove garbage that had piled up in the canal.

The councilman fell ill with high fever and complained of body pains the next day, Villafuerte said.

In Pangasinan, the provincial government is exerting efforts to control the spread of the dengue virus even as it ranks No. 3 in the region for having the most number of cases of dengue, after La Union and Ilocos Sur.

Gov. Amado T. Espino Jr. visited the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital in San Carlos City recently and launched several response mechanisms to control the spread of the mosquito-borne disease.

In San Fernando City, Pampanga, with increasing number of dengue cases in the province, the provincial government here last week didn’t charge any fee to dengue patients admitted in all provincial district hospitals.

On Aug. 21 Gov. Lilia G. Pineda revealed that dengue outbreak raised to more than 1,000 cases admitted in various public and private hospitals throughout the province.

In a report to Pineda by Joel Mapiles head of Provincial Information Office said that in July 2010, about 287 cases of dengue were reported while in July this year, about 986 cases were recorded throughout Pampanga, except Angeles City.

Pineda ordered free medical assistance as Pampanga top 3 among seven Central Luzon provinces with the highest number of cases and fatalities of dengue fever.

However, a 50 percent discount exists for dengue patients admitted at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital in City of San Fernando, Pineda added.

In related reports, the Pampanga SangguniangPanlalawigan spearheaded a one-day lecture on hospital dengue management to enhance knowledge and capability of health service providers in district hospitals of the province Aug. 15.

Through the joint efforts of the Provincial Health Office and 3rd District Board Member MoninaLaus, who chairs the SP committee on health, medical specialists of the Jose B. Lingad Regional Memorial conducted lectures on the hospital management of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of dengue.

Laus also announced that the governor will utilize the Ricardo Rodriquez Memorial Hospital in Bacolor town to accommodate dengue patients.

At present, more than 500 dengue patients are confined at the JBL Regional Hospital which has 250-bed capacity.

More than 1,000 cases of dengue were recently reported in various areas of Pampanga, most of which occurred in the municipalities of Mabalacat, Candaba, Apalit, Mexico, Arayat, City of San Fernando and Angeles City.

This figure, according to Dr. MariluMalamug of the Center for Health Development in Region 3, is much higher over the number of dengue cases recorded in the same period last year.

Considered as dengue hot spots are Barangays San Juan in Apalit, Dau in Mabalacat and Sindalan in the City of San Fernando.

A person infected with dengue, a viral disease caused by bites from disease-carrying AedesAegypti and AedesAlbopictus mosquitoes, usually suffers constant high fiver, head-aches, nausea, vomiting, hemorrhage, abdominal pain, skin rashes, and diarrhea could die as a result. -- By Teddy Molina, Charlie Lagasca , VencyBulayungan and Marites Benas


PMA told: Go after former cash officer

BAGUIO CITY -- The Commission on Audit has directed officials of the Philippine Military Academy here to go after a former cash officer who had to account for over P8.3 million in unliquidated cash advances.

In a report, the COA said the special disbursing officer should be held liable for his cash advances, which had been unsettled for nearly 10 years as of Dec. 31 last year.

State auditors said going after the former PMA officer, who was dishonorable discharged from the service years ago, is the responsibility of the head of the academy, in this case Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon Jr.

The COA report, quoting the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual, said, “It shall be the responsibility of the head of the agency to ensure the property granting utilization and liquidation of all cash advances in accordance with these rules and regulations.”

“We have recommended that the (PMA) send a demand letter for the immediate settlement of the concerned (special disbursing officer’s) outstanding cash advance,” COA said.

It acknowledged though that Calderon has taken action, as he has “instructed the concerned officers to prepare and send a final demand letter to the person concerned; otherwise, a civil case will be filed against him.”


Ilocos mayor faces suspension over tax

TAGUDIN, Ilocos Sur– Mayor RoqueVersoza of this town was recommended by the Ilocos Sur provincial board’s blue ribbon committee to be suspended due to alleged anomalies on remittance of quarry taxes.

The committee, which probed the alleged mess, said Verzosa was found to have “gained” from the taxes of the quarry operations along the Amburayan River since 2004.

Questions were raised on the sharing scheme in the remittance of the yearly levies, where 30 percent goes to Tagudin, another 30 percent to the provincial government and 40 percent to the host barangays.

Verzosa said he would answer the official charge sheet, as soon as it has been filed.


NPA rebs raid sugar cane farm in Isabela

SAN MARIANO, Isabela – Some 30 heavily armed New People’s Army rebels Wednesday raided a sugar cane plantation being developed in a remote village in San Mariano town for a bio-ethanol plant.

Senior Insp. Ruby Capinpin, San Mariano police chief, said the rebels led by Joey Ramos, alias Ka Jerome, and Michael Erana, alias Ka Poktong, burned a tractor owned by Ecofuel Land Development Inc. in SitioAmisan, Barangay Del Pilar, San Mariano town.

Police said the site is a former logging area at the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains.

Peasant groups have decried the proposed bio-ethanol plant, alleging that it would displace settlers there.

In San Luis, Aurora, meanwhile, government troops overran an NPA training camp after an hour-long gunbattle last Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia, commanding officer of the Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion, said the encounter broke out Tuesday morning in Barangay Dimanayat while a platoon of the their Charlie Company led by 2Lt. Edwin Lauro was conducting patrol operations there.

A soldier, identified as Pfc. Erwin Dacayo, sustained two bullet wounds in the abdomen. He was airlifted to the Aurora Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment and later transferred to the AFP Medical Center.


Mt. Province politics: Recount of Dalog-Dominguez votes to determine real winner

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The House Electoral Tribunal has set the fourth week of August to recount votes relative to the latest congressional race in Mountain Province and come up with a decision as soon as possible on who is the real winner.

This, after congressional aspirant Jupiter Dominguez filed a petition with the HRET alleging irregular transmission, illegal counting and canvassing of votes in the May 2010 elections.

The May 2010 elections registered Dominguez second place with 23,973 votes less 751 of congressman-proclaimed Dalog’s 24,724 votes.

Ballots from the 219 precincts stored in 10 Comelec offices of Mountain Province were collected June this year and scheduled for counting among many electoral petitions which reached the HRET.

Quezon city-based lawyer Roque Bello is the counsel of Mountain Province Rep. MaximoDalog in said electoral case.

Meantime, Roque Bello was implicated in the controversial 2004 electoral fraud which allegedly placed Gloria Arroyo as president of the Philippines, the scandal forwarded for a House probe by Bayan Muna Representatives Teodoro Casiño and NeriColmenares.


PNP chiefs of 2 Cagayan Valley towns terminated

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Two municipal police chiefs in Cagayan Valley have been relieved from their posts, one of negligence and the other for robberies in his turf.

Reports identified the sacked police officials as Chief Inspectors Gabriel Mucay and Peter Cambri, police chiefs of Solana town in Cagayan, and this capital town, respectively.

Mucay, according to reports, was removed from his post effective Monday for negligence as a result of last month’s fire that gutted parts of the Solana town police headquarters.

The blaze, caused by an unattended charcoal stove, destroyed at least P500,000 worth of property and equipment.

Chief Insp. RamilAlipio took over Mucay’s post.

Earlier, Cambri was sacked following a rash of robberies in this capital town in recent weeks, including the recent looting of the St. Dominic Cathedral, just a stone’s throw away from the municipal police station.

Cambri’s relief also came barely three days after the killing of Arlyne Fernandez, finance services director of the Nueva Vizcaya State University, inside the school compound here last Aug. 15.

Senior Supt. Elmer Beltejar, Nueva Vizcaya police director, however, said the replacement of Cambri by Chief Insp. WarlitoJagto of the public safety company, was just a regular movement of police personnel.

Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Luisa Cuaresma had called on the Philippine National Police to stop the killings.

“Tell us what you need (to solve these crimes) and we will provide (these to you) as long as it will address the increasing (spate of criminality in our province,” said Cuaresma in her message in last Monday’s 110th PNP anniversary here.

Cuaresma said the provincial government will not allow terror to reign in this usually peaceful province by letting these criminals go scot-free, giving an impression that authorities are not serious or incompetent in going after them.

The Fernandez killing occurred just as police have yet to identify those behind the slay of former SangguniangKabataan provincial federation head JoemelCacal who was waylaid by two motorcycle-riding gunmen along the national highway here last March 31.

Cacal, 35, who also served as ex-officio member of the provincial board, was once an aide-driver of the late human rights lawyer Ernesto Salunat, whose killing last year remains unsolved.


Helper nabbed with P137,000 MJ bricks

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A market helper was nabbed here in a buy-bust operation last week wherein three marijuana bricks weighing 2.5 kilos valued at P137,000, a car and P9,000 cash were confiscated from him.

A police report said the suspect was nabbed at km 5 Pico Road here in front of JRM Repair Shop on Aug, 22 at about 10:30 p.m.

Nabbed was Marlon P. Comot 30, resident of km 6, Betag, La Trinidad and a native of Bulisay, Kayapa, Bakun, Benguet.

A case for illegal drugs was prepared against the suspect for filing at La Trinidad Prosecutors Office while the arrested suspect is now temporarily under the custody of drugs section of regional police based here at Camp Dangwa.

Arresting officers were led by Senior Insp. Melchor N. Ong
under supervision by Supt. FlennLonoganm head of the special operation unit, regional anti - illegal drug special operation task group.

The confiscated car was a white Kia Pride sedan bearing license plate number UHT-531 registered under a certain Aning Luk.


Moratorium on creation of provincial roads ends

By Vency D. Bulayungan

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The five - year moratorium on the adoption or creation of provincial roads in Ifugao to give way to the development of the existing 224.571 kms length of provincial roads, has ended.

As embodied in provincial ordinance no. 2005-024 authored by then board member Eugene Balitang, now governor, it also mandates a minimum annual appropriation of P10 million purposely for the rehabilitation and improvement of all existing provincial roads and bridges.

Dubbed Provincial Road Improvement Ordinance of 2005, it was implemented by the provincial government through the provincial engineering office since 2006 primarily for rehabilitation and improvement of all existing roads and bridges which focused on road concreting.

As of 2005, only 18% of the provincial roadswere paved with concrete while majority at 82%wasclassified either as gravel or earth.

The imposition of the ordinance was meant to address dearth of provincial roads linking all provincial roads to the main provincial road and national trunk line.

For the past five years, the PEO headed by engineer Orlando Sarol reported around 100 infrastructure projects were funded and implemented by the provincial government.

Of the total projects implemented, 88 were focused on concreting of unpaved provincial roads with nine riprap projects including two bridge abutments, two canal linings and one box culvert.

The 88 road concreting projects had a total cost of P48.55million or 93% of the total program cost.

The rest which is P3.35M went to the other projects on riprapping, road canal lining and box culvert.

Records obtained from the PEO reveal the total aggregate road length concreted was 10.70 kilometers distributed across the various provincial roads located in the ten municipalities except Hungduan which has no provincial road.

Based on the new inventory of provincial roads and bridges, the Ifugao has 21 major provincial road trunk lines with total provincial road length of 178.6711 kilometers.

Of the total provincial roads, only 27% or 47.4395 kilometers are paved with concrete while the rest are either paved with gravel at 50% or 89.6216 kilometers and 23% or 41.61 kilometers earth road.


Palace orders probe on ‘closure agreement’ with Humiding CPLA group

BAGUIO CITY – President Aquino here Friday ordered the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process to immediately review the closure agreement Malacanang entered with the ArsenioHumiding faction of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army to thresh out loopholes of the agreement for possible revisions to include other interested factions for the sake of the region’s peace and development.

During a late afternoon press conference at the Tree Top Adventure inside Camp John Hay, Aquino admitted he was not appropriately informed by his peace advisers that the remaining factions of the CPLA are strong enough to disrupt the implementation of the terms and conditions of the closure agreement since what reached him was that the faction represented by Humiding was the strongest of them and that the others are no longer material.

However, he quickly added if the issues being raised by the other CPLA factions are valid upon their evaluation, then Malacanang will not hesitate to sit down with them and negotiate the appropriate terms and conditions for the eventual signing of another closure agreement with them or to incorporate them in the earlier signed agreement last July 4, 2011.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines last week said it “verified” the legitimacy of the leadership of ArsenioHumiding, chairman of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army and ensured support for the armed group’s declaration of peace with the government.

“The CPLA is legitimately led by ArsenioHumiding, his group is what we recognize,” said Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3).

The CPLA, an armed group which split from the New People’s Army, signed the Mt. Data Peace Accord in September 1986 under the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino.

Mabanta rejected claims of other parties that they are the recognized CPLA, calling them "rogues."

"The CPLA has submitted a manifesto to us wherein all zone commanders pledged allegiance to the leadership of Chairman Humiding,” he said.

Humiding took his oath as CPLA Chairman on April 3 during the Cordillera Bodong Administration/CPLA Political Bureau Conference in Baguio City.

Mabanta issued support for the joint declaration of commitment for peace that the government and CPLA signed.

Mabanta, on his oath taking as AFP’s new operations chief, ensured the public with an appropriate execution of the new Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) also known as “Bayanihan” which is focused on the approach of “winning the peace.”

But Aquino said his administration is willing to listen to the plight of the displaced CPLA factions, thus, the direction is towards their conversion into a potent economic force that will help spur economic growth in the rural areas of the region instead of continuing the long overdue armed struggle that derails peace and development.

Earlier, Andres Ngao-I and Mike Suggyao, the supposed chairman and president of the CPLA, questioned the July 4, 2011 closure agreement signed by President Aquino to put an end to the 25-year old armed struggle and help the CPLA members to become potent economic forces in their respective communities through the provision of multi-million development projects in the region’s 57 identified CPLA stronghold areas.

Subsequently, the Regional Development Council in the Cordillera passed Resolution No. 75, series of 2011 requesting President Aquino to suspend the implementation of Executive Order (EO) No. 49 that mandated the implementation of the closure agreement between the government and the CPLA to prevent the escalation of intra and inter-tribal conflicts into uncontrollable incidents that could disrupt the peace and order situation in the region.

The Ngao-I and Suggyao and Molina factions of the CPLA are willing to talk with the Office of the President regarding whatever agreements to be achieved in the future relative to their conversion into a potent economic force but what they do not like was that non-existent CPLA members were made to get the credit of being able to sign the closure agreement with the Aquino administration.

Various sectors in the region are confident that Malacanang will be able to douse cold water in the brewing conflict between the CPLA factions so that all deserving members of the organization will benefit from whatever programs and projects will be given to them since their ultimate goal is for lasting peace and economic growth.


P-noy urged: Support Mt Prov wind farm project

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province – President Aquino was urged last week to support installation of a wind farm in this tourist resort and nearby Besao town to boost power resources in the Cordillera.

Phil Carbon chairman and former undersecretary of the Department of Energy engineer RufinoBumasang and PhilCarbon president Ruth Owen made the appeal following initiatives of Phil Carbon to assist a wind farm project atop Pilaw/Pandey ridge with local government units of Sagada and Besao.

In an interview with Radio Sagada, Owen and Bumasang, the latter who is also consultant to international energy firms, shared their intention to support renewable energy programs such as facilitating financing of the proposed project with international financing institutions.

Phil Carbon which had been into development of renewable energy sources for power generation for six years, also engages in carbon credit trading and documentation for eligible projects related to watershed protection and clean air.

In same interview, Owen hopes for the support of communities concerned in the implementation of the proposed wind farm.

If implemented, the windfarm shall generate 15 to 20 megawatts, Bumasang said following a reading by American experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) who, with Bumasang visited Mt Pilaw, also called Pandey to Besao folks.

Bumasang said Japanese experts of Tomen company was interested since 1999 in the project if the local government units (LGUs) of Besao and Sagada would participate as partners and would be the borrowers for the foreign exchange component of the project cost. The winfarm is projected to cost around 25 to 30 million dollars.

Where Mt Province is only using 3 megawatts, it can sell the extra energy units the windfarm generates to electric cooperatives which shall mean income for the host communities of the project, Bumasang said.

In a separate exchange a year ago via Kotimya Eta, a social networking site of Kankanaeys, Bumasang who hails from Besao said that the Besao and Sagada LGUs expressed willingness, but the Philippine National Economic Development Authority pointed out that the LGUs of Besao, Sagada combined were not capable of being the borrowers for the magnitude of the loan needed.

The alternative was for Tomen to finance the project on its own at commercial terms, but the study showed that this option would not be economically viable at that time when there was yet no Renewable Energy Act (RA 9513).

With the passage of the Renewable Energy Act in 2008, financing for renewable forms of energy with financing from other sources like international financing companies such Asian Development Bank (ADB) becomes more facilitative partners.

President Benigno Aquino 111 in his address during the Energy Conference December last year said RA 9513 is “a critical legislation seen to be the missing link in the pursuit for a more aggressive exploration, development, and utilization of the country’s renewable energy resources.”

Towards increased investments in the energy sector, the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) was instituted to achieve a 100%-increase within 20 years. As of March 2010, a total of 205 renewable energy contracts have been awarded to developers on mini hydros, solar, and geothermal energy.

The NREP intends that the country “become the number one geothermal energy producer in the world, to double the country’s hydropower capacity, and to expand the respective contributions of biomass, solar, and ocean energy to the energy mix.”

In same radio interview, public relations officer QuintinPastrana with Chevron Geothermal Philippines said the company has projects in Pasil, Lubuagan and Tinglayan in Kalinga.

The Cordillera which is the watershed cradle of the north has huge prospects of still untapped 3,372 megawatts from renewable sources-wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro power energy.

Currently, the Cordillera uses 208 megawatts with Benguet/Baguio City using the most of 92 megawatts, Mountain Province of 2.9 mw, Kalinga of 3.1 mw, Ifugao of 1.9 mw, and Abra of 7.1 mw, records from NEDA note.

In Mountain Province, 13 mini hydros are found to have hydropower potential in Barlig,Tadian,Natonin, Besao,andBontoc according to studies of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). These are in sitioLias, barangay Silangan in Barlig (two sites – 41 KW and 218 KW); Bontoc Ili in Bontoc (195 KW); sitioBasa, Tamboan in Besao (368 KW); Losad in Sabangan (368 KW); sitioMagaud, Tamboan in Besao (88 KW); Masla in Tadian (261 KW); Lunas in Barlig (56 KW); Ogo-og in Barlig (133 KW); Sumadel in Tadian (5.22 KW); Saliok in Natonin (140 KW); and Bannawel in Natonin (94 KW).

Early this year, the Hydro Electric Development Corporation (Hedcor) partnered with Sabangan LGU in the generation of a 13,200 kilowatt for a run-of- river type energy facility.


Nominations on for yearly model OFW family award

By Lito Dar

BAGUIO CITY - - The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Welfare Office – Cordillerais now accepting nominations to the search for the 2011 Model OFW Family of the Year Awards.

According to OWWA regional director Manuela Peña, the MOFYA search has been institutionalized in honor of the sacrifices of the overseas Filipino workers and their families.

She said this aimed to give them proper recognition on their success which exemplifies good practices of OFW families and their achieving success leading to enterprise development and generation of employment opportunities in the community.

The MOFYA is looking for wholesome OFW families who have capitalized on good family relationship in overcoming the challenges or the social cost of migration leading to family success.

OWWA-Cordillera, through a screening committee, will be choosing two regional winners, one each for the sea-based and land-based category, who will be the region’s representatives to the National MOFYA award.

Nominees will be judged based on the following criteria: 50% for the exemplification of a wholesome OFW family, 20% for the civic community involvement of OFW or family members, 20% for the success in the education or profession of OFW or family members, and 10% for the success in managing family finances.

Any non-government organization, people’s organization, religious organization, community based socio-civic organization, and local government unit may submit their nominations to the OWWA regional office at the ground floor of ManongdoBuiding along Private Road in Magsaysay Avenue.

Nomination is open until Sept. 16.

In last year’s MOFYA, Cordillera was represented by the family of OFW HermilinaCajigan of Bauko, Mountain Province, the regional winner in the land-based category, and the family of OFW Michael Bungag of Baguio City for the sea-based category.


Veggie biodiesel to power farm machines, cut costs

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga— The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is now in the testing stage of a bio-fuel derived from vegetable oil that will be developed for use in farm machines to cut fuel expenses.

This was confirmed August 23 by the Department of Agriculture , as PhilRice conducts tests and further researches on the efficiency of using the new bio-fuel technology developed by a Filipino scientist in Oregon, USA.

“Farmers can soon cut on fuel expenses,” PhilRice said in a statement it released, describing the new technology in making biodiesel as a lot cheaper since it does not needing any heating ingredients and sophisticated equipment, unlike the biodiesel sold at gasoline stations.

DA said the said technology was developed by Dr. Rico O. Cruz, a Filipino expert on biofuel.
The process is called Cruzesterification, a process of producing biodiesel from used vegetable oils.

“Producing biodiesel using Cruzesterification makes the production of biodiesel as “easy as making coffee, in which the catalyst is the coffee, alcohol as the sugar and oil as the hot water. Blend the three ingredients and you a have a coffee or a biodiesel in minutes,” Cruz said.

Cruz, who uses biodiesel in his own cars abroad, said he discovered the process from more than 20 years of research.

“Farmers can afford the elements needed for production. Potassium hydroxide only costs P80.00/kg; methanol, P80.00/L; and used oil, P400.00 per 17 kg gallon,” he said.

In producing 100 L of biodiesel, Cruz said 100 L of used oil is needed and requires 1.1 kg of potassium hydroxide and 20 L of methanol at a production cost of P38.00/L and production time of 18 hours.

“You see here the advantages of this technology. Fuel costs P45.00/L and its production takes years,” Cruz stressed.

Cruz said biodiesel is also environment-friendly as it does not emit dark and poisonous fumes. -- MAM


Dagupan solon supports RH measure

DAGUPAN CITY— Fifth District Rep. KimiCojuangco is optimistic that the Reproductive Health bill will be approved in Congress with the support of her constituents.

During a RH bill forum in Lyceum Northwestern University in Dagupan attended by students and representatives from different sectors including Catholic Church devotees, Cojuangco explained the RH bill will help protect the health and lives of mothers, save babies, promote equity for poor families, prevent induced abortions, support and deploy more public midwives and doctors, guarantee funding for and equal access to health facilities, among others.

One student agreed with the congresswoman. "Para sa akin, ang RH bill angsiyangtutugonparamabigyangproteksiyonangkalusuganngmgakababaihan at hindiitonagpo-promote ng premarital sex," FerlynLausa, a student of Lyceum Northwestern University said when interviewed by reporters after the forum.

Cojuangco said she was not afraid to go against the Church which is opposed to the Reproductive Health bill.

She said, she strongly believes her constituents would benefit from the passage into law of House Bill No. 4244, or the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development Bill.

Cojuangco and 93 other congressmen are supporting the measure.

“Sana huwagnang mag-dictate angSimbahansagobyerno,” “We respect them, sana they also respect our views,” she said.

She said many priests favor the bill but choose to keep silent, fearing censure from their superiors. “Angdamingparina pro-RH, kontilangnaman nag maingay,” she said.

She also revealed that Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas respects her stand on the issue.

Cojuangco thanked Lyceum Northwestern University President Gonzalo Duque for sponsoring the forum.


Fish cage livelihood yields income for folks

By Maritess B. Beñas

LAGANGILANG, Abra -- The freshwater fish industry is booming in this town, thanks to efforts of the provincial government to provide alternative livelihood to constituents.

Tilapia grown in fish cages in Barangay Nagtupacan here yielded much income for fish cage owners, said provincial agriculturist Jesus Villamor, Jr.

Some 3,000 fingerlings, he added were given free by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and it took the fingerlings four months to grow from seeding to harvesting.
The fish cage owners harvested about 450 kilos of tilapia.

Villamor said considering that the price of fresh tilapia in Abra is P120 per kilo, the cash income generated if all the tilapia were sold would be P54,000.

The accomplishment of the fisherfolks of Nagtupacaninspired members of the 4-H Club of San Juan town headed by ReymartBeroña, who also sought the assistance of the OPAG for free fingerlings.

In response, the OPAG gave last week the youth group around 3,000 fingerlings which they will raise in fish cages located in Baug, San Juan.

OPAG is now operating two fish hatcheries in the province – the first in Kirmay, San Isidro, and the other is located in Malamsit, Peñarrubia.

The hatchery in Malamsit was established during the administration of Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin who vowed to support the economic activities of the farmers and fisherfolks in the province in his campaign sorties. -- JDP/MBB-PIA


Cops arrest five men for rape and homicide

CAMP BADO DANGWA, Benguet – Five persons were nabbed in the Cordillera last week for crimes which included homicide and rape with one wanted person surrendering to a congresswoman.

In Abra, Pidigan and San Quintin towns, police led by Insp. Dominador B. De Guzman arrested a carpenter identified as Ruben Banao, 36 of Palang, San Quintin Aug, 15 at San Diego, Pidigan for rape.

Corpuz B. Alzate, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court ordered Alzate’s arrest with no bail recommended.

On Aug. 18, RegieTimbreza, 25 of Barangay Kimmalaba, Dolores, Abra surrendered to Rep. Jocelyn V. Bernos at Barangay Zone 5, Bangued, Abra.

Timbreza had a standing warrant of arrest for homicide and frustrated homicide.
Judge Alzate recommended bail amounting to P 40,000 and P20,000 for his temporary liberty.

A police report said the arrest of Timbreza led to the solution of the shooting to death of Bong V. Molina , barangay chairman of Macray, Bangued, Abra and wounding of Josepth J. Barbero, barangay treasurer of Macray, Bangued, Abra on Dec. 15, 2010.

In Ifugao, Asipulo town police led by Insp. Ernesto Bekesan nabbed Joey T. Bahingawan, 31 here of Baggu, Nunggawa Aug. 15 for acts of lasciviousness.

Judge Ivan Kim Morales, presiding judge MCTC, Lamut, Ifugao issued the warrant for his arrest.

Bahingawan was incarcerated at the district jail in Kiangan town. Still in Kiangan, police led by Senior Insp. George A. Ngayaan, also arrested Narciso T. Tagayo, 48 ofPoblacion for direct assault.

He was arrested at Poblacion, Kiangan,Ifugao by virtue of a warrant of arrest also issued by Judge Morales and was released after posting bail bond.

In Benguet, the Regional Public Safety Battalion led by Insp. DanileBandoc nabbed Ernesto B. Gaboy, 51 of Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet for violation of R.A. 9262.

Arrested person was arrested inside the public market in nearby Baguio City.

In Itogon, Benguet, police arrested Samuel S. Amando, 41 of Basil, Gumatdang in the town Aug.17 for rape.


Chico hosts P2.3-B irrigation project

PINUKPUK, Kalinga — A sustainable pump irrigation project with an estimated cost of more than P2.3 billion is expected to rise on Chico River here starting next year.

The facility will help irrigate at least 8,700 hectares of agricultural farms in Kalinga and Cagayan provinces.

National Irrigation Administration officials said the project, aimed at ensuring food security in Northern Luzon, is located here and will source water from the Chico River to irrigate 7,500 hectares of farmlands in Tuao East; 1,170 has. inPiat and 360 has. inPinococ, this town.


PESO urges public to enlist for mobile passport service

By Gigi Dumallig

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The city government through its Public Employment Service Office urged interested individuals planning to acquire or renew their passports to submit their names at the PESO office for recording.

City PESO designate LoydaSaboy said that this was being made to justify the request of the city government to the Department of Foreign Affairs to start mobile passport processing service here.

The list, she said, is important to warrant the coming of the DFA personnel who will be bringing along their machines and equipment for the activity.

According to Saboy, the public, especially skilled workers who have yet to acquire a passport should take advantage of the event and have their passports processed faster and without going to Tuguegarao or in DFA offices.

Regular processing of passports at the DFA office takes three or four months before releasing, she said explaining that this could be disadvantageous for skilled workers who are being hired on urgent basis

She said on several public recruitment and jobs fair activities, many applicants are qualified for the job openings but were reconsidered by the recruitment agencies after finding out that they don’t have passport.

“We have many skilled workers but only a few have a passport, so we are appealing to them to have their names listed at the PESO office for submission at the DFA,” she said.

“We advise our skilled workers to acquire a passport now to help facilitate their employment,” Saboy added.

She also urged interested individuals from municipalities outside Tabuk City so they could renew or replace lost passports.

The replacement of lost passports requires an affidavit of loss and a copy of the
police blotter, she said.


Regulation on sale of used cell phones sought

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY - Councilor Edison Bilog sought the adoption of rules to regulate the sale and purchase of second hand or used cellular phones in the city.

In a proposed ordinance, Bilog sought to declare it “unlawful for any person to purchase and/or sell any second hand or used cellular phones without the accompanying original receipt of the original purchase.”

Bilog proposed that in the absence of an original receipt, a certificate of warranty, manual of usage that bears the same serial number of the cellular phone and other certificate of original purchase from the manufacturer may substitute for the original receipt required in the sale and purchase of the cellular phone.

“In the absence of the foregoing requirements, the seller shall be required to produce an Affidavit of Loss that shall state the name of the seller or distributor of the company and serial number of the cellular phone and shall submit the same to the subsequent buyer,” Bilog further proposed.

Bilog said the regulations are needed to stem the illegal sale of cell phones associated with thievery.

“Commerce for second-hand mobile phones is in now becoming in unison with snatching and stealing of such. Snatched or stolen cellular phones are surreptitiously being sold by lawless elements to cellular phone dealers/retailers/resellers or being pawned to pawnshops,” Bilog said.

“Linkage between cellular phone snatching and the proliferation of buying, selling and pawning of cellular phones is undeniable, thus, the need to purchase a unit with accompanying an official receipt is substantially helpful.

As proposed, violators will be meted a 1-30-day imprisonment or a fine of P2,000 or both.

“If the violator or offender is a firm, company, association, corporation, or partnership, its manager, president or chairman of its board of directors, or managing partner shall suffer the penalty or penalties provided for herein as the case may be and the business or firm shall be summarily closed,” the proposal noted.

Bilog’s proposal was approved on first reading and referred to the council committee on trade and commerce for study and recommendation.


DAR approves irrigation projects for Hingyon

By Daniel Codamon

HINGYON, Ifugao -- Two communal irrigation projects here were recently approved by the National Department of Agrarian Report for implementation under its Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Project III.

This was bared by Ma. CefelerinaAfable, national program manager of ARISP III to DAR-Ifugao informing them of the final approval of the projects for two agrarian reform communities of this municipality.

The two barangays are Umalbong with a total project cost of P5,687,950.00 and Anao with P5,174,790.00 for their CIS which is one of the project component of the ARISP III package.

According to Afable, 50 percent of the total direct cost of the two CIS amounting to P2,500,000.00 for Umalbong and P2,280,000.00 for Anao are now being processed at the Central Office.

The provincial project management office was requested to closely coordinate and participate in the conduct of bidding and that representative of the regional project management office or the PPMO will act as observer.

The PPMO is also tasked to advise the National Irrigation Administration to submit a copy of the contract or abstract of bids to the central project management office so that release of the initial cash be effected.

The ARISP III has also implemented other components in its ARC of the province such as farm-to-market roads, post harvest facilities and agricultural and agri-business development projects. --JDP/DBC-PIA CAR, Ifugao


Ecija mayor jailed for illegal firearms

TALUGTOG, Nueva Ecija -- A former mayor of this town landed in jail after he yielded high-powered firearms when policemen swooped down on his house here.

Director Samuel Pagdilao, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the operation that led to the arrest of ex-Talugtog town Mayor Floro Pagaduan is part of their intensified campaign against loose firearms and partisan armed groups.

Pagdilao said Nueva Ecija is the one of the notorious provinces in Luzon where the existence of partisan armed groups have been monitored, with some local politicians at the forefront.

“Our objective is to disband private armed groups identified with politicians and confiscate their weapons that can be possibly used as instrument of intimidation, violence and crime,” said Pagdilao.

Nearly 100 partisan armed groups, or PAGs, have been monitored across the country, most of them in Mindanao.

The PAGs are usually active before, during and shortly after elections as they are being used by erring politicians to ensure their victory.

In the case of Nueva Ecija, the official said several local politicians have been monitored to be maintaining PAGs and keeping cache of firearms.

Pagdilao said the raid on the house of Pagaduan in Barangay Cabiangan in Talugtog Aug. 19 also resulted in the confiscation of an M16 Armalite rifle, three magazines for M16, 51 pieces of bullets for M16, a 9mm pistol, magazines and bullets for the same pistol.

But Pagdilao said the raid on the house of Pagaduan is just one of the series of raids conducted in Nueva Ecija in the past days.

Also raided were the houses of former Vice Mayor Reynaldo Cachuela of Talugtog town and PacificoMonta, former Mayor of the same town.

Only the house of Pagaduan, however, yielded firearms.

Pagdilao said Pagaduan will be charged with illegal possession of firearms as the guns turned out to be not licensed.

Last week, the CIDG also raided three places reportedly owned by political allies of San Antonio town Mayor Alvin Salonga in Nueva Ecija.

The raid resulted to the confiscation of several high powered firearms including M16 rifles.


PMA entrance exams set nationwide today

BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Military Academy announced that its PMA entrance examination for cadetship is on August 28 in 37 examination centers nationwide.

The following are the basic requirements: Natural born Filipino citizen; of good moral character; single and never been married; 5’4 height requirement for male and 5’2 for female; 17 to 21 years old; at least high school graduate with a general average of 85% or higher (for 4th year high school students, a general average from 3rd year of 85% or higher); physically fit for cadet training.

Applicants are advised to bring their examination permits, at least two (2) valid IDs, two (2) pieces of #2 pencil, sharpener and eraser. For inquiries may contact Lt. Commander Carlo C. Resurreccion, cellphone number 09175071993 or log on to

In Pangasinan, the examination will be held at the University of Pangasinan-PHINMA in Dagupan City at 7 a.m.


Sagada execs urge more autonomy consultations

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA Mountain Province -- The Sangguniang Bayan in their regular session here last week called for further consultations on the draft organic act of the third attempt for Cordillera autonomy.

In their resolution, the municipality’s legislative body chaired by Vice Mayor RichardYodong called for the need for more consultations before the proposed organic act is forwarded to Congress.

The SB resolution bewailed the short number of days to ask for comments from the municipality constituents on the proposed organic act drafted by the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee (TAADC) due July 22 to respond to the instruction from the earlier letter of provincial governor Leonard Mayaen .

Further comments should reportedly reach the TAADC chaired by Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan on July 29.

Moves for Cordillera autonomy were foiled in two plebiscites with most constituents of Cordillera provinces declaring they didn’t want it with a no vote. Only the province of Ifugao voted Yes in a plebiscite in 1991 following the enactment of Executive Order 220 to pave the way for regional autonomy of the Cordillera.

Another attempt in a 1998 plebiscite had only Apayao voting Yes. The need for more information on what autonomy is all about was noted in a survey conducted by the Regional Development Council.

In December last year, municipal consultations were held conducted by the provincial sub-committee on the drafting committee chaired by Franklin Odsey. Earlier, Mayaen called for sectoral meetings September last year where five groups were identified: academe, NGOs/POs (women, farmers, youth, etc) religious, business, and elders which composed the sub-provincial drafting committee.

TAADC chairman Mauricio Domogan is trying to fast track the autonomy process before the national elections in 2013, yet congressmen are not that receptive about fast tracking the autonomy process. Cordillera congressional representatives Teddy Baguilat, Ifugao; Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Apayao; Ronald Cosalan, Benguet and MaximoDalog, Mountain Province were all for consultations as noted during the Cordillera Month celebration at Tabuk City, Kalinga last July 15.

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas in Baguio City also relayed during the July 15 celebration of Cordillera Month, that President Noynoy Aquino conveyed the need for further consultations, NEDA Officer Michael Umaming said.

NEDA is the secretariat of RDC, the body which oversees the regional autonomy process. A remaining P15 million was allotted for information drive.


Baguio night market a tourist attraction

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – A night market set up by the city government along Harrison road here, one of the city’s major road networks is now becoming a tourist attraction.

The move, implemented to solve worsening illegal vending in the city’s central business district area starts 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. the following day and is similar to night markets in Hong Kong and Thailand.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said around two-thirds of the right side of Harrison road near the Melvin Jones grandstand are occupied by the vendors in designated area so they will no longer constrict the city’s sidewalks, streets and even the market area during the day.

Based on the initial census, more than 500 vendors belonging to dozens of associations are now participating in the night market but the venue could accommodate up to 1,000 vendors.

Initially, the local government allowed experimental night market at the Baguio Athletic Bowl for a period of sixty days last summer but vendors who participated in the said activity claimed they were not able to earn income, thus, they decided to transfer the night market to Harrison Road where there are more buyers.

Domogan said it will be the leaders of the association who should discipline their members during night market.

The city government has deployed employees to strictly monitor their adherence to night market rules and regulations since those who will be found to have violated the rules and regulations will no longer be allowed to pursue their trade and will be delisted from the list of vendors.

The local chief executive admitted the city is having a difficult time going after illegal peddlers around the city, thus, it institutionalized the night market which will serve as the venue where peddlers will do their trade and that a total ban on peddling around the city’s streets will be implemented during the day.

Domogan said the night marker was envisioned to entice influx of more foreign and domestic tourists that will help the country’s Summer Capital regain its status as one of the premier tourist destination in the country since it will be similar to night markets in the different parts of the world.

The city government has also deployed law enforcers in the venue to ensure stop illegal activities of lawless elements trying to take advantage of the huge volume of people in pursuing their illegal trade.


775 hired under 'cash-for-work' program

LAMUT, Ifugao— A total of 775 members of poor families in this municipality have been hired and are currently doing work in various projects under the Cash for Work Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The workers were chosen from poor families belonging to farmers and fisherfolk of poor barangays as identified by authorities based on the National Household Targeting System.

They will work for 11 days each with a rate of P254/day in the different work sites where the projects are located supervised by the municipal engineering office and closely monitored by the MSWDO and DSWD personnel to ensure hired workers will work in their areas of assignment in the prescribed time and duration.

Most of the families belong to the low income group who solely derive their income mainly from small farming, small business and daily wage earners, thus, the need augmentation for their income so that they will be able to improve the socio-economic standing of their respective families, especially those living in far flung communities.


Thousands pay homage to Mary

By Freddie G. Lazaro

STA. MARIA, Ilocos Sur— More than one hundred thousand Catholic devotees, tourists and local residents from different places in the country flooded the historic Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, here, to celebrate the feast of the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary August 15.

Bishop Ernesto A. Salgado of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia led the mass offered to the parish’s patron saint, NuestraSeñora de la Asuncion.

All parish priests from the archdiocese assisted the prelate during the mass.
In his homily, Bishop Salgado recalled the love and sacrifices of Blessed Virgin as a mother of God.

“The Blessed Virgin Mary is not God but she is the mother of God as she gave birth to Jesus Christ – the savior of all mankind. Thus, she showed her great love to God by following the will of God,” the prelate said in his homily.

“In several apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary had kept calling the people to turn away from sin and serve God by following His will,” Salgado added.

The bishop posed a challenge to the more than 100,000 people who flooded in and out the church to attend the mass to follow the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary through her intercession to gain eternal life.


New interlink road to boost growth in northern Luzon

By Dexter A. See

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The immediate completion of the P131 million rehabilitation of the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur road via Tue in Tadian town will boost economic development of northern Luzon, particularly the central Cordillera, because of improved inter-municipal, inter-provincial and inter-regional accessibility.

Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen bated this saying the road will greatly improve the trade and commerce in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera regions.

Omengan Construction and Development Corp., a home-grown public works contractor, will implement road paving, widening, slope protection walls, drainage and sidewalks to make the road passable for all types of vehicles.

The project will complete the whole loop of the road considering that the Sabangan, Mountain Province to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur section of the road was already completed several years ago.

Mayaen said development of arterial roads leading to the province from the north, south, west and east sections will result to robust economic growth due to reduced travel time.

Mountain Province is strategically located in the central Cordillera because it is bounded by Kalinga and Cagayan provinces in the north, Benguet and Baguio City in the South, Ilocos Sur and Abra in the west and Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela in the east.

Aside from the rehabilitation and upgrading of national roads, Mayaen cited the government for its continuous provision of funding for the development of secondary arterial roads that will significantly help in improving the accessibility to the province’s remote villages and help in bringing economic activities to the countryside.

The governor lauded the Aquino administration through the efforts of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for giving utmost priority to the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads in the different parts of the country, especially in the country’s poorest provinces, so that economic activities will eventually flourish and be instrumental in improving the living condition of poor families who had been languishing due to poverty over the past several decades.

Apart from the province’s expected economic gains from the better roads in the future, Mayaen underscored the tourism, agriculture and trade and commerce of the ten municipalities, specifically Barlig, Bauko, Besao, Bontoc, Natonin, Paracelis, Sabangan, Sagada, Sadanga and Tadian, will also benefit considering that people will have a lesser time going in and out of their respective places to do business for the improvement of their living condition.


Hail destroys roof,causes heavy traffic

BAGUIO CITY— A 30-minute hail storm battered most parts of this mountain resort city and Benguet province, causing horrendous traffic jams but no casualties.
The rare weather phenomenon saw big and small ice crystals falling from the sky, racketing on roofs of vehicles, houses and business establishments.

The hail storm followed a heavy downpour after a humid day in the highlands that forced thousands of schoolchildren to seek temporary cover in various business establishments.

Doming Dacanay, owner of a printing press said he had to change the transparent plastic roof of his establishment as hail as big as stones punctured these.

While the initial reaction of city residents was to seek security from the falling ice crystals, most of them later stopped to watch in amazement.
Thousands of motorists opted to stop from where they were caught in traffic considering that the numerous ice crystals from the sky had eclipsed their vision of the road.

In Benguet, farmers have yet to report to their respective municipal agriculturist office if the hail storm caused damage to their agricultural products. – Dexter A. See


Cagayan's Agta tribe gets 38,000 hectares of land

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – The Agta tribe in northern Cagayan can now officially claim ownership of some 38,000 hectares of lands, which they have long been occupying.

Assistant Secretary Romulo Halabaso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process turned over the certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) given to the 164 Agta families last Aug. 10.

Ikong Molina, local chieftain of the Agtas, received the CADT, covering 38,508 hectares in Baggao town’s Santa Margarita village.

The population of Cagayan’s Agtas or Agays, also called Dumagats in Isabela or Aetas in other parts of the country, dwindled in the 1980s when many of them succumbed to hunger and disease, believed to be the result of indiscriminate logging and other forms of environmental exploitation.

Halabaso said awarding ownership of ancestral lands is part of the Aquino administration’s commitment to improve the living conditions of indigenous peoples as well as empowering them to decide on their own based on their customs and traditions.


Isabela begins P712-M bridge construction

By Freddie G. Lazaro

ILAGAN, Isabela— The construction of a P712-million bridge project linking the progressive municipality of Ilagan with western towns of the province officially started last week, the Department of Public Works and Highways said.

Ilagan town is a center for economic activity and hosts the noted education and medical institutions catering to the eastern and western parts of Isabela.

Engineer Renato Ubina, head of the DPWH’s 1st Engineering District in Isabela
province, said the project replaces the existing overflow bridge, crossing the Cagayan River to an all-weather bridge to the western towns of Isabela.

To be called the Lulutan Bridge, the project will be constructed between barangays Calamagui 1st and Lulutan, both in Ilagan, with an approximate distance of 2 kilometers from the town proper.

“The Lulutan Bridge project, which will be finished or constructed within three years as programmed by the DPWH, will no longer be an overflow bridge but a regular or all-weather bridge linking Ilagan town with the western towns of the Isabela province,” said Ubina.

He said the Lulutan Bridge was destroyed by strong typhoons that battered the province in the last few years.

In order to travel to Ilagan, residents from the western towns of Isabela have to use motorized bancas traversing the Cagayan River.

“With the construction of the 500.5 linear-meter length Lulutan Bridge, this will connect the western Ilagan barangays and western Isabela towns making it easier for the residents to transport their agricultural products,” Ubina said.


Toddler hanging on at intensive care unit

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Thanks to the medical staff, type A blood donors and fund donors, five-year old Franz Asher Flores is hanging on at the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

The kid is on his fourth relapse in his fight against leukemia now spanning three years.

The gravity of his condition prompted his transfer from the pedia cancer ward to the PICU last August 21, according to his dad was transferred to the PICU last August 21, according to his dad, Ferdinand, a spiritual retreat coordinator at the Assumption Sabbath Place at Crystal Cave.

“Due to relapses, his protocol changed step by step, light to heavy dosages of chemotherapy drugs, and from expensive cost to much more expensive cost,” Ferdinand wrote in a letter-appeal for help earlier this month.

Asher was diagnosed when he was two and started with standard chemotherapy. He was back to standard chemotherapy after a relapse, but the treatment plan shifted to the much stronger St.

Jude Protocol after the second relapse.

A third relapse prompted another shift, this time to Salvage protocol. It resulted in another relapse and the boy was shifted again to AML protocol starting last Aug. 1.

“He was transfused with 38 (blood) platelet (concentrates) and five RBC’s (red blood corpuscles),” Ferdinand said last Friday.

The transfusions were made possible with blood donations from the San Pablo and Recoletos seminaries, volunteers of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Council, members of the guardians, “security guard Raymond”, friends and relatives of the boy.

Ferdinand also acknowledged fund donations from Hani Carantes (P2,000) and an anonymous donor (P1,000), aside from referrals from members of the city council to the city social welfare and development office and the BGHMC.

Asher’s fever is off and on and his white blood corpuscle count has to go up so he can continue with his chemo treatment, his dad said.

“To boost his WBC, he needs GSSF,” Ferdinand said, referring to a drug which, he said costs P4,500 a vial.

The kid’s protracted fight against the big C has left the family financially and emotionally drained.

“That’s why we are appealing again for help, as we’re not giving up on Franz,” Ferdinand said.

Those who can help may ring up Ferdinand’s cellphone n umber (09283774560), or that of his wife, Juvy (09182477935).


Aquino to address Baguio land problem and charter

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – President vowed to address the city’s problems on land disposition and the approval of the amendment of the city charter, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said last week.

“The President assured that he will attend to the city’s concern on TSAs (Townsite Sales Applications) which I presumed he meant the lots at Forbes Park and Wright Park (which were issued Certificates of Ancestral Land Title) and the amendment of the city charter,” Domogan told a media briefing Tuesday on result of his talk with the President after the ceremonial lighting of Burnham Park last August 19.

“It is good that the President is aware of these concerns. I hope he will continue to be briefed on this problem, so that he can help us find solutions,” the mayor said.

The mayor said he was able to air the city’s concern on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to the President during their short talk.

“I asked him to remind the NCIP to strictly follow the provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (Indigenous People’s Rights Act) in the issuance of CALTs because it will make a difference if the President could caution the NCIP to avoid problems like what happened to the Forbes Park and Wright Park,” the mayor said.

The city has pending petition through the Office of the Solicitor General with the Court of Appeals for the cancellation of the CALTs issued over parcels of land within the Forbes Park forest reservation and of titles covering prime pieces of property which were subdivided and eventually expanded by several hectares in Pacdal and Dontogan barangays.

The OSG has the sole authority to initiate proceedings for the cancellation of the spurious titles and it has committed to fast-track the reversion proceedings.

The OSG last February 25 filed before the Court of Appeals a petition
for the cancellation of the NCIP Resolution No. 048-2008 which served as basis in the issuance of O-CALT 26, 27, 28 and 29 in favor of the heirs of LauroCarantes over the Forbes Park lots.

The mayor also expressed hopes that the court will immediately act on the civil case filed by the city for injunction with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction to protect the city’s interest on the lots to enjoin the ROD from processing transactions involving the CALTs after its denial of the registration of the city’s adverse claim on the assailed NCIP titles.

The city is also seeking the cancellation of titles covered by expansion which as identified during the time of former mayor BraulioYaranon are: Original Certificate of Title No. -0-128 covering an area of 10,300 square meters which was resurveyed and subdivided and increased in area to 511,556 sq. m. or 51.1556 hectares located in Dontogan; TCT No. T-12826 covering an area of 501 sq. meters which was resurveyed and subdivided and increased in area to 155,795 sq. meters or 15.579 hectares in Pacdal; and TCT No. T-9463 covering an area of 1,000 sq. meters which was increased to 4,483 sq. meters.


Draft autonomy act being finalized; next step mulled

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The draft working document of the Third Autonomy Act is now being finalized after consultations for its refinement were wrapped up last week.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the committee on style of the Third Autonomy Act Drafting Committee (TAADC) will again undertake the tedious process of collating the outputs from the series of deliberations, integrating the agreed concepts and ideas and polishing the entire draft.

He said the finalized version will then be taken up with the seven Congressmen representing the provinces and one city that compose the Cordillera Administrative Region to further improve the draft.

After this process, the Regional Development Council will urge the different provinces and the city to pass resolutions to urge their representatives to file the bill for the approval of the third Organic Act.

The mayor expressed hopes that all the officials will unite to support the third attempt for regional autonomy.

“The key to the success of this aspiration is our unity and cooperation as people of the Cordillera. It will be disadvantageous if one leader will not support our (cause),” he said.

He also urged the people to do their share.

“Let us take this issue seriously and let us involve ourselves because if we waste this opportunity then there is no one to blame but us,” he said.

The mayor said draft act was based on the principles laid down in renewing the pursuit for autonomy for the third time which is for the Cordillera region to finally establish a permanent regional identity where it will have freedom to manage its people and natural resources, enjoy more financial benefits from the national government while retaining the existing benefits and powers presently being enjoyed.


Pines Colleges ‘adopts’ Balili River; plant 2,500 seedlings in nearby forest

BAGUIO CITY – Around 400 students and employees of Pines City Colleges planted 2, 500 pine seedlings along the Sagudin-Balili here yesterday on a seven hectare forest area which the school has “adopted” to plant and maintain for five years starting this year.

The area is bounded on the north by the botanical creek, the main water source of the Sagudin-Balili River.

According the environment experts, any positive development in the area is critical to providing clean, fresh water to the dying river.

The was event, organized by PCC extension coordinator Rowena T. Acacio and PCC NSTP coordinator Remedios J. Edades.

PCC participants were taught ring weeding, brushing, cultivation and other silvicultural practices by City Environment and Parks Management Office at the site.

“The Sagudin-Balili River is close to PCC, literally and figuratively,” Acacio said, “any change, positive or negative, that would happen to the river will directly affect the school. It is the basic role and responsibility of the school to try to return the dying river to its old glory.”

Pines City Colleges, located directly beside Sagudin-Balili River, is one of many establishments and residential areas that experience negative effects of the air and water pollution of the river and possible flooding caused by heavy rains and blocked sewage systems.

PCC representatives said they wanted to join local govenrments of Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet in their advocacy to rehabilitate the river.

A memorandum of agreement was signed between the City Government of Baguio represented by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and city environment head Cordelia C. Lacsamana) with the PCC represented by Dr. Abigail T. Bersamin, academic dean and Ma. Regina S. Prats, assistant administrative director.

The adoption was highlighted during the PCC intramurals opening last August 5.


Mayoyao gives aid to b’gay execs,workers

By Dan Codamon

MAYOYAO, Ifugao -- Recognizing that barangay officials and workers are front-liners of government service in the grassroots but are given small amount of honorarium and other incentives, the municipal government here started implementing an ordinance called “Municipal assistance program for barangay officials and workers of Mayoyao.

The municipal government made it a policy to provide financial assistance to those who lose their lives during their term of office in the amount of P5,000 and appropriated from the annual budget of the municipality the amount of P30,000.

Any amount not utilized within the year shall revert to the General Fund. In case the appropriated amount is not sufficient, supplemental appropriation shall be included in any succeeding annual or supplemental budget.

The ordinance stated barangay officials are insured with the Government Service Insurance System now transferred to the Department of Interior and Local Government in case of death in the amount of P20,000 for barangay captains and P10,000 for barangay kagawads and burial assistance of P2,000 but for barangay workers they serve at their own risk with very low incentives.

The financial assistance program is supervised and administered by the municipal government in coordination with the office of the municipal president of the Association of Barangay Captains.

To avail of the assistance, beneficiaries should submit the death certificate of the barangay official or worker from the local civil registrar, oath of office for the elective barangay official or appointment paper for the appointive offices, certification of incumbency from the DILG, endorsement of the municipal president of ABC as to legitimacy of the claim and marriage contract if claimant is the spouse or birth certificate if claimant is the child.


Inflation and higher prices


Higher taxes and higher prices of commodities neutralize the positive intentions of government programs, according to Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano who urged the government to address and focus more on job generation, inflation and rising prices.

Cayetano says the burgeoning prices of commodities and increase in inflation rates neutralize the desired effects of the additional funds for social services and poverty mitigating programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

“Compared to the few who were given an increase in their CCT allotment, the number of those unable to buy basic food and medicines due to the high prices are still staggeringly high. The government should always operate under the assumption that the prices of their projects also increase due to the continuous increase in the prices of basic commodities.”

The senator said the government should consider a reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on toll and on gasoline as contingencies to mitigate impact of spiraling prices of goods. The VAT on toll, he added, will exacerbate the situation for consumers who are already bearing the brunt of high costs of fuel owing to the VAT.

“Most of our country’s basic commodities are transported through highways. If the increase in toll fees is effected with increase in gasoline prices, it’s inevitable to see that the prices of basic goods to increase as well,” he said.

In this light, Cayetano said the government must not allow itself to be blinded by the high percentage of revenues that come in due to the percentage of VAT from higher oil prices.

He added VAT collection increases when the price of gasoline increases. He suggested the government should explore the option of lowering the percentage of VAT once oil prices reach a certain price ceiling.

He said with proper planning, the government can mitigate the burden of consumers due to higher prices of commodities without affecting government revenue. “At 12% VAT, the government collects 12 pesos per 100 pesos of oil commodities. Assuming oil prices double due to market forces, we can still collect the same 12 pesos if we lower VAT percentage by half as well.”

With these, Cayetano could initiate the moves to his proposals considering he is with government.


CPLA blitzkrieg

Alfred P. Dizon

If Cordillera officials and other factions are smarting over the “closure agreement” signed by ArsenioHumiding as chief of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and President Aquino, it is because they are envious, according to my bubwit.

Humiding and his minions, he says, must be laughing at their detractors after they were promised by this Banana Republic’s top honcho P260 million for livelihood and socio-economic projects.

While his detractors bickered over Cordillera autonomy, Humiding must have put to good use lessons he learned when he was with the New People’s Army:have a plan, keep silent about it and execute it to the detail. Nobody from outside his group knew about it. And when the time was ripe, just like a Nazi blitzkrieg, he struck.

The result – an agreement with P-Noy for the CPLA to “cease” as an armed group and instead help government programs, with of coursea sizable amount of money for CPLA projects.

As to how these projects would be implemented, only the deep blue sea knows. According to our bubwit, top officials of the Cordillera particularly the Regional Development Council are mad that Humiding’s group put one over them. Likewise with his rivals who claim they are the genuine CPLA groups.

They say the “closure agreement” was a farce. They are aghast that Humiding and his group made the “right connections” in Malacanangand speeded up the “flawed process.” They are asking who Humidingis and his group to determine how the P269 million will be spent. Aha ha, ourbubwit, says, “Kahit ang matsing nalalamangan din.”

He goes further to say, “Ang magnanakaw, galit sa kapwa magnanakaw. Why don’t they also ask themselves how more than P50 million supposedly for information dissemination on autonomy was spent by the RDC?”

In the case of the autonomy funds, it also looks like it is only the deep blue sea which knows the real score. We are not saying Humiding and his group are thieves. After all, they still don’t have the money. Andwhatever messianic complexes they have of purportedly helping the people, that is their right.

But then, as my bubwit says, when taxpayer’s money is freely given to the CPLA to spend as incentive to lay down their arms, there is something wrong. It is like poor folks of this Banana Republic like us have electedourofficials to freely dispense out our money on whim.

First and foremost, most members of the CPLA, according to my learned bubwit, had been rogues all along after the group, then under Balweg, split from the NPA and signed the Mt. Data Peace Accord in September 1986 under the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino.

He says even rebel priest ConradoBalweg, the former CPLA founding chief had been implicated in the murder of respected Kalinga elder Daniel Ngayaan in 1987. The others, he said, have degenerated as human rights abusers, rapists, murderers, protectors of illegal gambling like jueteng and illegal squatters.

His questions: Is the government paying these CPLA members with P260 million for abusing Cordillera folks? How will the funds be audited? Will heads of local government units have a say in the allocation and disbursement of money?

We will leave the monetary aspect at that. In the meantime, how will the group of another CPLA faction who call themselves the “genuine CPLA” under its chairman Mike Sugguiayao and its Cordillera Bodong Administration president Andres Ngao-i with their elder Leonardo Bun-as take their being waylaid? Genuine items are not taken for granted. Will hell break loose as a result of this?

The talkative bubwit has a ready answer: All CPLA factions are just paper tigers so they should just have been ignored by the government and made to go home to their lairs and plant the biggest camote. He says no Cordilleran in his right mind should believe these impostors who claim to represent the people of the Cordillera and their aspirations.

You see, even Yours Truly finds it hard to understand why Jack Dulnuan, who is also from Ifugao like Humiding is the chairman of the Sugguiayao faction’s Cordillera Regional Assembly. Dulnuan is the rags to riches story about a man who made a name for himself in business. Dulnuan equals CPLA? Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Somebody should make a movie out of all these, my bubwit says. But then, he adds, it is doomed to flop. But if you add the President as one of the characters, then maybe it would gather interest. You see, even if P-Noy is the President, some matsing could still make a fool out of him like these CPLA characters and those who wanted to gain pogi points or maybe, some commissions from the P260 million.

Look now, but the RDC wouldn’t be pressing for a review of the agreement if they were informed earlier about it. What gets their dander is Humiding’sCPLA group had been recognized by the government not by P-Noy but also Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) who said they were the legitimate CPLA group.

Where the controversy is headed, our bubwit says, again, only the deep blue sea knows. But then, he adds, the RDC could stand up and show if their manhood is still intact so the public could be entertained other than talking about their warped version of Cordillera autonomy which they have come to believe as gospel truth -- in their minds.


The ‘untouchable’ Angelito Alvarez

Perry Diaz

The scandal that erupted under the watchful eye of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Angelito “Joselito” Alvarez has created a maelstrom of controversy calling for an investigation and dismissal of Alvarez. But, strangely, Malacañang doesn’t seem to know – or chose not to know – what’s going on at the Bureau of Customs since January 2011 when the first container van was reported missing. By last count, 1,910 container vans vanished into thin air without a trace. Did a UFO the size of a baseball field and as high as a five-story building scoop them up and take them to Jupiter? Or was it the handiwork of smugglers protected by powerful politicians and Customs officials?

Assuming that the “vanishing act” was the handiwork of smugglers – or “players” in Customs lingo – then why is it that nobody in the Aquino administration is concerned about it? In fact, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s silence is so deafening that many have started to think that behind his “honest and incorruptible” façade is just another traditional politician or “trapo” whose campaign promise of “Walang corrupt, walangmahirap” was a cheap slogan to get votes.

For the past seven months, calls for Alvarez’s resignation reached P-Noy. But P-Noy silently stood by his man. Why? To answer that question, we must first ask… Who is Angelito Alvarez?

Alvarez has never worked for the government before. Early in his career, he worked for the accounting and auditing firm of SyCipGorresVelayo& Co. (SGV). It was at SGV where Alvarez and Cesar Purisima met. After a short stint of five years Alvarez left SGV and went to work for the Lina Group of Companies (LGC), which is owned by Alberto “Bert” Lina. Alvarez moved up the executive ladder fast. He became president of several LGC companies including Air Freight 2100. He also took charge of managing the company’s basketball team, Air21. After 20 years with LGC, he left the company to work on the other side of the fence – the Bureau of Customs. It was widely believed that it was Purisima, his old boss at SGV, who recommended him to P-Noy for the Customs job.

P-Noy appointed Alvarez to the much-coveted position of Bureau of Customs Commissioner, the second highest revenue-producing bureau in government. It is also one of the most -- if not the most – corrupt bureaus. Alvarez’s marching orders were: Meet revenue goals, identify smugglers, and work closely with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to prevent tax leakages. And in a display of raw bravura, he boasted to reveal the names of “big fishes” every single week!

In July 2010, his new boss – and good old friend – Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima swore in Alvarez. Interestingly, Purisima, who was one of P-Noy’s ardent supporters during the 2010 presidential election, shelled out P10 million of his own money into P-Noy’s war chest. He was one of the so-called “Hyatt 10,” a group of Cabinet members and high-ranking officials who resigned from their positions in July 2005 and demanded that then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resign in the aftermath of the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal.

It is interesting to note that Alvarez’s old boss at LGC, Bert Lina, was a former Customs Commissioner himself. And like Purisima, Lina was also one of the “Hyatt 10.” Lina also happens to be the brother of former Laguna governor Jose “Joey” Lina Jr. In 2010, Joey ran unsuccessfully for another term as governor of Laguna under the banner of P-Noy’s Liberal Party.

After Alvarez took over Customs, Ted Failon interviewed him in his radio show, “Failon at Sanchez.” Alvarez told Failon the reason why he was appointed to the plum position was because of his experience in the industry. He said that he was a “close associate” of Bert Lina, who has a “very serious and deep involvement in the customs and freight business.”

Alvarez also told Failon that he knows the “ins and outs” of the customs industry. He also admitted that he knows the“unscrupulous practices” of people inside the Bureau of Customs, and who the big-time smugglers, brokers and corrupt Customs officials are.

But if Alvarez truly knows the “ins and outs” and who the big-time smugglers, brokers, and corrupt Customs officials are, how come the Bureau of Customs remains a smugglers’ paradise and corrupt Customs officials remain untouchable? And how come Alvarez is still at his job, secure – and impregnable -- as the Rock of Gibraltar? The buzz that’s going around Manila these days is: Who is protecting Alvarez that even P-Noy can’t touch him?

One year after he took over the graft-ridden bureau, Alvarez has yet to meet his revenue goals and has yet to expose a single “big fish.” By now he should already have exposed 52 “big fishes.”

Last March 8, 2011, an editorial by a Manila-based newspaper asked, “What does Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez and former Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina have in common?” The editorial then said, “The three share seats in the board of many companies they mutually own and a source said the trio now lords its over at the Bureau of Customs.”

The editorial says that the “source” provided the newspaper with “documents showing the interlocking interests of the three in at least five companies said Purisima, Alvarez and Lina now virtually control the Bureau of Customs and have made the agency ‘their own business operations.’ ” The documents mentioned the names of the businesses including their percentages of ownership in these businesses.

Malacañang immediately responded that the newspaper should substantiate the “anomaly” with a formal complaint. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, “If that’s the case, if there’s a complaint, of course, we will look into. If there really is a complaint to that effect, let us know because we cannot rely on innuendoes and rumors. So if there’s someone who’s going to lodge a complaint, we will study that just to be fair to the officials concerned.”

I find it quite strange that if the persons involved in an “anomaly” were allies of P-Noy, Malacañang would be quick to defend them.

Mr. President, you exhorted your appointees to walk a “matuwidnadaan” (straight path) in the performance of their jobs. But in fairness to all your appointees – many of who are honest and incorruptible -- you should not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what’s happening around you. You cannot just shrug off 1,910 missing container vans as mere innuendo or rumor. Even Alvarez admitted they’re missing. And if he cannot explain why 1,910 container vans are missing, then he is not up to the job you appointed him to. Simply put, he doesn’t have the competence required by the job.

It’s time Mr. President to let Alvarez go. (


Police and media slant = ethnic slur

Ramon Dacawi

Labels can hurt.

I used that lead sentence for a news story several years ago. That was after Thomas Killip, then the mayor of Sagada, Mt. Province, hastily called for a late afternoon press conference at Mandarin Restaurant along Baguio’s main street.

Killip, eventually the presidential assistant for Cordillera regional development, was being swamped that morning with calls and text messages from fellow natives of Sagada here and abroad. He and they were bristling over front-page stories in the national dailies about the arrest of suspected members of a robbery gang.

The suspects were implicated in the hold-up and detention of a foreign visitor along the Halsema National Highway. The victim, a woman, was held for five days, during which she was forced to withdraw P20,000 daily from her ATM bank account, then the maximum amount a depositor could take out in a day.

The news reports tagged the suspects as members of the “Sagada-Kalinga Gang.” The police labeled and announced them as such in a press briefing at the regional office in Camp Dangwa, when they presented the suspects to the media. The reporters took the tag hook, line and sinker in their stories, triggering protests from readers who trace their roots to Sagada and Kalinga province.

At the press conference, Killip said he asked the local civil registrar of Sagada to check whether the suspected leader of the arrested, pinpointed as such by the police, was born in Sagada. Indeed, he was Sagada-born but did not grow up there, Killip learned. The “Kalinga” half of the label was apparently due to the fact that most, if not all the suspected gang members were from Kalinga province.

Killip then appealed for cultural sensitivity in reportage, cautioning against labeling of criminal suspects based on their ethnicity or places of birth.

Police beat reporters are used to adopt police tags based on the gadgets or modus operandi of theft and robbery syndicates: “Bolt Cutter Gang”, “Salisi Gang”, “Bukas-Kotse Gang” and whatever. Not when these labels appear to discriminate against tribal affiliations.

Now and then there are lapses, as when a TV news head announces, “Two Igorots nabbed for marijuana possession”. A more sensitive one would simply read: “Two nabbed in MJ bust”, without the specific ethnic roots of the suspects. This is usually the case if the suspects are Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pangasinense or whatever.

In the same token, it would be unfair if one or two bad eggs from the police, say, Camp BadoDangwa, would turn hooligans and be dubbed “The Camp Dangwa Gang”. It would trigger undue embarrassment to the family and memory of the late Igorot guerrilla leader, hero and former governor of Benguet in whose honor the regional command was named.

It took Chief Supt. Victor Luga, a true officer and gentleman, to issue a public apology over the tagging of the suspects in that ATM-related kidnap and hold-up. The arrest and labeling took place before he took over the regional command. Still, one of the first things he did when he took command at Camp Dangwa was to issue a public apology. He himself must have been slighted by the label as his wife is from Mt. Province.

Killip’s appeal came to mind while I was watching the evening news on television. A group of con artists who tunneled their way to ransack a pawnshop in Rizal Province were tagged in the news report as the “Igorot Acetylene Gang.”

My theory is that the tag was inspired by a police report on the incident that noted the culprits’ use of acetylene torch in cutting their way to the loot. Someone told me they were labeled “Igorot” because of the tell-tale red betel nut spittle found on the crime scene.

Beetle nut chewing is not limited to Igorots, much less among my fellow Ifugaos. The habit is everywhere, even in Taiwan where non-indigenous but mainstream Chinese are also into the munching habit. Neither was head-hunting a monopoly of Igorots.

I remembered comedienne Candy Pangilinan’s faux pas in May, 2009. “Akalan’yo Igorot ako, ano? Tao po ako,” she uttered during a performance at a mall here. It triggered unprintable expletives and the city council in declaring her persona non grata.

Candy mustered admirable courage and humility. She appeared before the city council and publicly apologized. The local legislature composed of Igorots – either by blood, birth, choice and sentiment – accepted the apology and canceled its declaration. Her manager explained Candy was supposed to say “statue, not “Igorot.”

In the wake of that “all’s well that ends well” with Candy, my son Johann asked if I thought there was an overreaction to her miscue that prompted a case filed against her by the local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines led by lawyer George Dumawing.

Johann earlier wrote on his blog about Hongkong columnist Chip Tao’s description of the Philippines as “a nation of servants”. My son and his wife Lovelyn work and serve in Italy to be able to raise my two grandsons – Lukie and Dylan.

“I think Mr. Chip Tao was addressing the Filipino fashion designer BoyetFajardo on the piece he wrote,” Johann wrote. “Probably it dawned on him, when he read about the news on the fashion designer, that Filipinos could now really be a threat in claiming the disputed Spratly Islands.”

In the wake of Candy’s forgetting her lines, I wrote: “They’re bound to be uttered again, those careless, demeaning slants sometimes intended as a joke, yet whip up storms of protest over the speaker’s perceived insensitivity or sheer lack of knowledge.

“Sooner or later, another slur comes, triggering protests and demands for public apology. The public apology will be offered, with the usual qualifier the utterance was not meant the way it’s being perceived.”

I’m proud to be an Ifugao and an Igorot, in the same token that Tagalogs, Visayans, Muslims and the rest of us humans are proud of their ethnic identities.

As Filipinos, we’re all proud of pushcart teacher EfrenPenalosa, CNN’s (and our) Hero of the Year (2009). As Filipinos, we all bear the shame and grief for that evil most foul in Maguindanao that snuffed out the lives of fellow Filipinos, be they journalists, politicians, lawyers and such.

After all, as Candy would have said, we’re humans, not cold statues. (e-mail: for comments).


Gold Fields gives Red Cross P1.2 M

March L. Fianza

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- A few months ago, some Red Cross coordinators in Benguet came to talk about how they could get funds to run their projects in their municipalities.

Around a small table in a restaurant along Session Road in Baguio City, we discussed about musical concerts, raffles, bingo, and even considered sponsoring cockfight derbies or other means that could financially support the local Red Cross.

But nothing materialized out of the initial discussions since no one came back to finalize the suggestions as earlier agreed. All of that was already out of my mind when I was informed that the Philippine Red Cross, Benguet Chapter was going to receive some P1.2 M donation from Gold Fields Philippines Inc. headed by Brett Mattison.

Indeed, the Almighty is watching, and certainly, there is always a Good Samaritan out there!

But wait. The P1.2 M check donation that was formally given to Mayor Mat Luspian and Red Cross officials by Louis Pawid Jr. and NicoLaza who represented Gold Fields in a simple turn-over ceremony, will be disbursed for Mankayan Red Cross.

Mayor Luspian said, it was best to have the donation received by the PRC Benguet Chapter, considering that downloading it to the municipal coffers may not easily prevent LGU officials and other entities from dipping their fingers into the private fund that was intended for a specific use.

The Gold Fields donation will go to the barangays of Mankayan for their Red Cross-related projects, the mining exploration company’s representative said. The donation is funded under the company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) fund.

As a backgrounder, Gold Fields Phil. Inc. is in the picture because the company has recently embarked on mining-related activities in “golden” Mankayan.

It has entered into an agreement with Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company and Liberty Express Assets to acquire a 60% interest in the undeveloped gold-copper Far Southeast (FSE) deposit found in the Municipality of Mankayan.

Lepanto, incorporated in 1936, operated a copper mine until the late 90s when it shifted its operations to gold bullion production through its Victoria project.

It is public knowledge that Philex Mines, Benguet Corp. and other companies involved in multi-million peso mining activities operate in other municipalities in Benguet. The move by Gold Fields should be enough signal for them to do the same and give to the Red Cross.

Equally important, in a press conference last week where the P1.2 Gold Fields donation was turned over, the PRC Benguet Chapter encouraged the public, athletes and sports aficionados to join the “Million Volunteer Run” on December 4, 2011.

Former Itogon Mayor Mario Godio who now chairs PRC Benguet said the project aims to “heighten public awareness to reduce disaster risks and vulnerability of the community in the interest of saving lives.”

Aside from training and equipping Red Cross volunteers, the other objective of the project is to “build an army of 1+43 humanitarian soldiers in every barangay of the country who will respond to disasters, donate blood and alleviate human suffering.”

The project is targeting at least 44 volunteers from each of the 140 barangays in Benguet that will constitute a total of 6,160 “running blood donors” from the province.

Simultaneous running evcents consisting of volunteers wearing red shirts would be staged in certain municipalities in Benguet.

Private individuals as well as public officials are urged to sponsor participating runners in the event. The cost to sponsor a volunteer runner is P1,000.00 only. The sponsors would be recognized properly and would receive the Humanitarian Certificate from the Red Cross.
For years, you and I noticed that business in and around the offices of the Department of Transportation and Communications in Baguio and elsewhere in the region has not been as speedy as expected clients.

Transactions are characterized by the presence of people renewing or getting driver licenses, renewing or getting motor vehicle registrations, getting medical tests, insurance, etc.

If you were a bird in flight looking down, you would see a picture of people running and walking around, people sitting for minutes and minutes on rows of benches apparently waiting for their names to be called, and motor vehicles of all types are parked anywhere while waiting for their turn to be examined.

In short, there is no order in that particular area. Hence, the municipal council of Tuba reiterated an old resolution that requested from the DOTC an extension office to be housed in the multi-purpose gym.

Councilor Roger Kitma said, an extension office in Tuba would surely facilitate transaction, and motor vehicle owners who find it hard to go to the DOTC offices in Baguio would easily find the Tuba office accessible.

DOTC Regional Director Celina B. Claver, the Benguet provincial board and Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan have endorsed the Resolution 96-2011 to Sec. MAR Roxas, who is expected to grant the wish of Tuba.

Sec. MAR may respond positively to what is being asked for in the resolution, not because he visits Philex and Tuba every now and then, or that he is the cousin of Congressman Cosalan’s “one and only Cara,” but because MAR honestly understands the need for an extension office around Baguio.

That is also supported by Sec. 12 of the Local Govt Code which states that it “encourages the establishment of central government offices in LGUs.”

Time flies fast. Finding RD Celina B. Claver in the DOTC was not even the least of expectations I had when she, her brothers and sisters, schoolmates, barkadas and I shared glasses of spirits around the bonfires. Those times remind me that I have grown old. I wish to drop by her office one day, maybe to make up for lost time. –


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