Benguet police, locals clash over mine project

>> Sunday, September 23, 2012

MANKAYAN, Benguet – Security has been tightened in this mining town after violence marred the serving of a writ of preliminary injunction against protesters of a gold exploration project on Monday.

Six Cordillera police officers including regional deputy intelligence head Supt. Chief Glenn Lonogan and Supt. Darnell Dulnuan were injured in a scuffle with residents from Barangay Tabio.

Local folks reportedly blocked nine provincial sheriffs who were supposed to hand down the court’s order to allow the Far Southeast Gold Project to fence off a private property of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) meant for drilling.

Three others – PO2 Neil Cabanse, Police Officer 1 Jhona Likinio and PO1 James Dang-ay, with the police officials were hit with stones and logs hurled by protesters.

Early Monday morning, court sheriffs were blocked by about 100 residents reinforced by militant group members. 

The court officers, policemen and officials from the Commission on Human Rights – Cordillera, led by Regional Director Harold Kub-aron tried but failed to forge any agreement with the protesters and were pushed away and pelted with rocks.

Henry Longay, chief sheriff, said they were there to enforce the court order by Regional Trial Court Branch 64 Presiding Judge AgapitoLaoagan to allow LCMC to fence the area in sitio Madaymen owned by the mining firm.

But the protesters insisted they will not end their blockade “until justice is done,” claiming they were unaware of the court move.

The Far Southeast Gold Project, a joint venture between LCMC and the South Africa-based Gold Fields Inc., started the drilling in the disputed area in Madaymen late December 2011.

But land claimants (two of the eight families laying claim to the land) with the help of some residents stopped the operations.

The protesters eventually built a shack in the area to secure the site and ignored court orders for them to vacate.

The protesters sought reprieve from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the NCIP issued a 20-day Temporary Restraining Order last March 14 but denied a petition for injunction on the protesters on April 14 and ordered the protesters to allow FSGRI to conduct its drilling activities.

The drilling is for exploratory purposes prior to FSGRI's plan to mine an ore body more than a kilometer deep and some areas in Mankayan already agreed for similar activities. 


Four P'sinan workers sued for graft, abuse

By Jennelyn Mondejar

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Four provincial government employees, two of them holding managerial positions, were charged for grave misconduct, abuse of authority, dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. 
Provincial legal officer Geraldine Baniqued said Wednesday the employees, whose identities were withheld, were given 10 days to submit their verified answer to charges filed against them. 
Baniqued said the provincial government under Gov. Amado Espino Jr. is resolved to strengthen the bureaucracy by instilling professionalism and excellence through disciplinary action against erring employees. 
A total of 16 cases were filed due to dishonesty, gross misconduct, neglect of duty, acts unbecoming of a public official, insubordination and falsification of documents in 2009.
Seven cases were dismissed while the respondents in the remaining nine cases were either suspended without pay or disqualified for promotion.
Eighteen cases were filed in 2010, of which nine cases were meted with suspension from work without pay and reprimand. 
Seven cases were filed last year, including those against provincial guards and an assistant provincial warden.


4 suspects grilled on brutal killing of coed

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Police are now interrogating four suspects in the brutal death of a 22-year-old coed in this province’s capital town, which has sparked concern among concerned residents who urged police to arrest the murderers sooner or more killings could follow.

Town police chief Dyanne Bangcawayan bared this but did not disclose names of the suspects pending investigation. 

A 15- year- old girl was also killed by another minor-suspect here in a coffee shop last July 20.   

Dawn of Tuesday, 2nd year Computer Technician student of Xijen Technological Institute Sarah GemalynMacholiBecyagen was found dead at a vacant lot near a kiosk fronting the Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School.

Becyagen sustained injuries at her right abdomen, swollen lips, hematoma and injuries on knees and legs, medical reports said, adding the victim died due to asphyxia by means of strangulation.

The victim was estimated to have died between 11 to 12 p.m. of Sept. 11.  Her cell phone was missing.  

Investigator SPO3 Romualdo Ngina of the provincial police investigation unit here said laboratory tests were sent to the crime laboratory to determine commission of rape. 

Police said the victim with two girlfriends left a liquor store around 8 p.m. night of Sept. 11. The victim  started for home alone by 11 p.m. to Barangay Samoki where she lived with her parents. She traces her roots from Otukan, Bauko in the province.

Investigation led by  Bontoc chief of  police Dyanne  Bangcawayan  and supported by  the province’s  police investigation unit  is ongoing to find out  identity of perpetrators.

Provincial police director Senior Supt. William Viteno said robbery may be the motive of the suspects in the killing since some of her personal belongings were missing.

Responding personnel from the Bontoc Police, Provincial Headquarters, Crime Laboratory, and the Bontoc Emergency Response Team led by Dr. Diga Kay Gomez “processed” the area where the victim was found.

They brought the body to Bontoc General Hospital where the remains were later identified as that if Becyagen's by her father Agustin Becyagen.

Investigators who talked with the victim’s cousin - Karen MachuliTicgangay - who was with the victim before the incident reportedly bared that victim was then wearing a black sling bag containing her Samsung cellular phone when they parted ways in front of the Land Bank branch about a hundred meters away from where the victim's body was found.

Businessman Jimmy Bangkili Saguid who parked his vehicle on the side of the road near where the body was found said that midnight of Monday, he noticed two males, both slim and wearing jogging pants with one among them wearing a black t-shirt and a hood covering his head, while the other was wearing a black t-shirt roaming around.

While initially looking at robbery, police is also not discounting other angles for the killing, added Viteno.

“We are conducting a deep investigation and searching for more witnesses,” the police official said.

Coming from a huge and prominent family, the victim's relatives urged police to solve the case.  


Jilted man guns down girlfriend with rifle

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – A 19-year-old college coed in San Pablo, Isabela was shot dead with an Armalite rifle by her boyfriend Sept. 15 after she ended their relationship, police said.

Police said Cherry Ann Delgado, 19, a senior student at the Isabela State University-Cabagan campus, was killed allegedly by her boyfriend, a certain Rocky Baui, 25, who is now at large.

“His (Baui’s) family fears that he might commit suicide. But we are taking all efforts to apprehend him,” said Senior Supt. Franklin Mabanag, Isabela police director.

Citing reports, Mabanag said Baui became despondent after Delgado broke up with him. 
Mabanag said five empty M-16 Armalite shells were recovered at the crime scene in Bingguang village in San Pablo town.
“From what we gathered so far, there was no third person involved, only that the victim might have really wanted to break up with the suspect,” he said.


Athletic Bowl tiff heats up; council sets terms

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The controversy over how the Athletic Bowl would be developed and whether it should remain in the hands of the government or a private developer has heated up.

The city council said it should remain free of charge and accessible to the public if its rehabilitation plan materializes and the city council should have a hand in deciding final terms of the contract for the development of the decrepit sports facility.

These were among the conditions considered by the city council while deliberating on the proposed terms of reference (TOR) for the development of the Athletic Bowl last Monday.
Despite the controversy generated by a city councilor’s tirade on the proposal coupled with bribery allegation, the body discussed the proposed TOR where some members acknowledged the necessity of upgrading the facility to address the sporting need of the populace albeit wanting to ensure that the deal will be done without any irregularity. 

Councilor Joel Alangsab said he favors the development of the site but wanted to ensure that athletes and joggers are accorded continued free access.

Councilor Richard Carino who heads the committee studying the TOR accepted Alangsab’s proposed amendment to include a provision ensuring that the facility will remain open to the public.
Alangsab also wanted to make sure that the city council will have a hand in the crafting and approval of the final terms of the deal even after it gives its nod to the proposed initial TOR now pending for adoption by the body.

Acting vice mayor Nicasio Aliping Jr. and Carino assured that the body will be accorded ample opportunity in drawing up the final terms based on the process to be observed before the same will be perfected.  
Councilor Peter Fianza however observed that the proposed TOR is inconsistent with earlier policies adopted by the city particularly Resolution No. 257 series of 2010 which he said did not direct privatization by the executive, Resolution No. 443 series of 1994 adopting the mater development plan which, Fianza said, did not mention of the plan or of the project being in accordance with the plan and Executive Order No. 224 and Resolution No. 34 series of 2004 which he said the proposed TOR runs counter to.
Carino explained that the body’s approval of the TOR is merely the first in the series of steps involved in the whole process of approving the project.
If approved by the council, the TOR will be referred to the committee and the City Development Council and a feasibility study will be conducted, the result of which will again be referred to the city council which will subject the matter to a public hearing. 
The approved TOR, feasibility study and the draft contract will then be referred to the Regional Development Council and the investment coordinating committee and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for approval.
Earlier, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the TOR for the proposed multi-billion project were formulated under legally established procedures and that all the required steps including the aspect of establishing social acceptability will be observed by the city in tackling the development plan.
The TORs provide the parameters for the proposed development project to cost P4.3 billion and these terms were prepared by a technical working committee which the mayor formed to ensure that the proposed project will not contravene the master development plan drawn by the University of the Cordilleras for Burnham Park which the city adopted as blueprint for the development of city’s premiere park. 
The mayor formed the technical committee after the city council approved a resolution in November last year giving the go signal for the rehabilitation project after the city received a proposal from a foreign company for the Athletic Bowl project.  The city also received two other proposals from local proponents.
The proposed development will cover the upgrading of Athletic Bowl, the tennis court and swimming pool but these will remain as city government properties along with the revenues generated from them.
The developer will also transform the city of the former city auditorium into a commercial complex and this will serve as the bread and butter of the investor.  The mayor said no trees will be affected in this site and the lake, the children’s park, Melvin Jones, orchidarium will not be touched.
Part of the proposal will be the installation of a monorail along the park as an added tourist attraction.
The proposed TOR created a stir after Councilor Edison Bilog through the social media network Facebook and later in a privilege speech before the city council drumbeat his opposition to the plan with allegations of bribery attempt.
After receiving rebuke from his colleagues over what they felt was a premature and unsubstantiated claim, Bilog later identified city tourism supervising officer Benedicto Alhambra as the culprit entailing a trade of suits from both parties.


CPLA groups brand each other renegades, fakes, opportunists

BAGUIO CITY– Factions of the paramilitary group Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) are now engaged in a “word war” with a faction, claiming to be “the genuine and original members” while tagging another faction as renegades, fakes and opportunists.

“Newly re-installed” CPLA chairman Mailed Molina, who was also Bucloc, Abra former Mayor, said the renegades headed by Arsenio Humiding, who entered into a “closure agreement” with MalacaƱang last year succeeded in “duping” President Benigno Aquino III into recognizing them as CPLAs.

A splinter group of the New Peoples Army, Molina and other former NPA leaders and a company of rebels, broke ranks with the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1986 and forged a peace agreement with then President Corazon Aquino.

From then on, the CPLA fought side by side with the military in hunting the NPA in the Cordillera.

Further splits hounded the CPLA until recently when at least three groups emerged, one headed by Molina, one by Humiding and another by Kalinga-based Mike Sugguiyao.

What is disheartening, Molina said, is that Humiding’s group which entered into a “closure agreement” with government, is still using the CPLA organization to “get funds from the national government”.

He said his group is the genuine CPLA, “and continues to be a group aspiring for autonomy and other democratic principles for the Cordillera people.”

During the 27th-year anniversary of the peace agreement between the CPLA and the government, Molina was declared CPLA chairman with Rafael Wasan as Cordillera Bodong Administration head backed by the Cordillera Regional Assembly in Baguio City.

But in Tabuk City, Kalinga, Miguel “Mike” Sugguiyao was likewise declared as chairman with Andres Ngao-i.

Humiding, who earlier said Molina was expelled by the CPLA, and his faction are now working with the OPPAP implementing the multimillion Payapa at MasaganangPamayanan (PAMANA) program awarded to them.

Molina added that Humiding group was only interested in the government funds, saying that President Aquino "should have been circumspect whom he talked with in the first place." 


Clark execs charged with graft over $400-M project

By George Trillo

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga  – Officials of the state-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC) were charged with graft and corruption for allegedly entering into a $400-million joint venture project with a Korean investor that is ”patently disadvantageous to the government.”

The ParaƱaque City-based First Worldwide Marketing Corp.(FWMC), a former partner of Donggwang Clark Corp. (Donggwang), filed the complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, saying the joint venture agreement violates the CDC’s charter.

FWMC said the agreement was disadvantageous to the government because the CDC had agreed that arbitration of possible conflict be done by a Singapore-based third party, which reportedly requires an arbitration fee of as much as $280 million, despite a mere $150,000 annual lease the CDC could collect from Donggwang.

The 12-page complaint noted that the CDC allowed the operation and sale of the condominium units at Donggwang Clark Ode Country in the absence of the necessary permits and licenses.

CDC officials were accomplices in assisting Donggwang in defrauding the public by allowing it to misrepresent that some of its stockholders are residents of the country, it added.

FWMC also cited environmental issues, claiming that the CDC had known that the environmental clearance certificate issued to Donggwang was for a previous plan and not the Korean firm’s current project.

Pampanga’s first district Rep. Carmelo  Lazatin said he would file a resolution seeking an investigation into the golf course project in a 304-hectare area inside the freeport to determine whether it violates environmental laws.

“While a robust economy is a goal and dream of every province through projects like this, its negative effects on the environment should not be put in the backburner, especially when millions of lives are at risk,” Lazatin said.

He said his inquiry “will center on why the project was approved despite alleged violations of environmental laws and other government policies.”


Over 1,000 applicants pass PMA written exam

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City - A total of one thousand one hundred ninety six passed the 2012 Philippine Military Academy Entrance Examination (PMAEE) conducted in August in thirty-seven examination centers throughout the country.

Out of the successful examinees, 792 are males and 404 are females or 66 percent were males against 34 percent that were females.

PMA spokesperson Captain Lynette Flores said 14,829 took the Cadet Qualifying Test but only 14,540 completed the written examination.

This year’s total number of examinees, Flores said, surpassed the usual number of PMA examinees for the last 18 years by 240 percent.

The conduct of the PMA Entrance Examination this year, Flores said, is considered by the PMA as a success, considering that significant number of regular applicants showed up during the actual day of the examination, including the huge number of qualified walk-in applicants.

The turnout, the PMA said, can be attributed to the recruitment efforts of the Academy with the help of various AFP units.

These efforts were complemented by the PMA alumni, the local government units and agencies, Flores said.

The successful examinees will be notified by the PMA Office of Cadet Admission and will be given instructions as to the conduct of the Complete Physical Examination, the second phase in the selection process.

According to Flores, the cadet candidates have to pass the physical examination to be appointed as member of PMA Class 2017.

They will be officially received at the PMA on April 01, 2013.


Baguio execs in tiff over taxation, fund proposals

By Ramon Dacawi 

BAGUIO CITY -- Two contrasting taxation proposals are up in the city council amidst the continuing strain on the city’s finances by the need to haul Baguio’s garbage to Capas, Tarlac until it can develop its own engineered sanitary landfill.

As early as April this year, the Local Finance Committee led by city budget officer Leticia Clemente urged the city council to upgrade the fair and current market values of real properties that “have stagnated since 1996” despite provision in the Local Government Code for the revision of the same every three years.

Also pending in the local legislature are a proposal of vice-mayor Daniel Farinas for a tax amnesty on delinquent real property taxes and a similar one of councilor Edison Bilog to include delinquent business taxes.

The city council’s committee on ways and means and finance (Cluster B) headed by Farinas has recommended approval of the two proposals on second reading. 

Committee members who signed the endorsement were councilors NicasioAliping, Richard Carino, ErdolfoBalajadia and Karminn Cheryl Dinney Yangot.

The LCF, however, said a tax amnesty, coming only four years after it was granted in 2008, would be counterproductive as “taxpayers are encouraged to be delinquent to the detriment of compliant and good taxpayers.This is utterly inequitable as we are giving the impression that delinquency deserves an incentive, which should be the other way around, where premium should be for good taxpayers”.

The committee cited Sec. 276 of the Local Government Code that provides that condonation or reduction of real property tax and interest may be done “ in case of general failure of crops or substantial decrease in the price of agricultural or agri=based products, or calamity in any province, city or municipality”.

Records of the city treasurer’s office show that in the 2008 tax amnesty, 309 o0f those who availed or 29 percent stopped paying after the amnesty and are again tax delinquents to the present.

The present LCF, also composed of city accountant Antonio Tabin, city administrator Carlos Canilao, acting planning officer Evelyn Cayat,  acting city treasurer Alice Onoza and acting city assessor Nilda Navarro, said there is no legal basis for the grant of amnesty covering business taxes.

In recommending the upgrade of the fair and current market values of real properties, the LCF  said: “With the growing concerns of the city needing financial support, it is imperative that we take advantage of the power of taxation granted under R.A. 7160 to ensure continuous delivery of basic services to our residents in the most effective and efficient way.”

Then city assessor Augusts Medina in September, 2010 submitted to the city council the proposed revised schedule of values for land, buildings, machineries, plants and trees. He cited a Department of Finance order for all city assessors to undertake the mandatory general revision in accordance with provisions of the Local Government Code.

“The schedule of values for land reflects an increase of 298.60 (percent) over the schedule of values approved in 1996 that was fully implemented in 1998 under Tax Ordinance 2000-01,” Medina said. The schedule, he said “ was derived form data gathered from advertisement, mortgage and value sales transition from the monthly report of the Register of Deeds”.

The LCF recommendation came as an addendum to its endorsement of the applications of two establishments here to register as information technology centers under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

The committee said it is “interposing no objection” to the application of Abanao Square and Neutrinos IT Center for accreditation with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority that would allow them to operate as information technology centers.

City councilor Peter Fianza, however, expressed reservations on the conversion of Abanao Square, which is operating as a mall, into an ITC, saying the PEZA should first conduct a study based on the criteria for ICTs.

“Are we ready to absorb development in the area?,” he asked, referring to the increased in traffic volume in the area and other needs of the ITC employees such as housing.

To clarify these points, the city council agreed to invite in its meeting the LFC, the city building official and representatives of the PEZA and the Department of Labor and Employment.

Only recently, the city council realigned P26.2 million originally earmarked for city projects for the payment of truck rentals in the hauling of the city’s garbage and tipping fees for its dumping into a landfill in Capas, Tarlac.     


SMART signal tower resumes after shutoff over rent nonpayment

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province – The signal relay tower of Smart Telecommunication here atop Mt. Pakad has resumed operations after it was shut down Sept. 8-11 due to failure of the giant company to pay rent.

Bernard Batnag, representative of lot owners where the tower was located said Smart didn’t pay rent despite repeated  reminders considering that he and Smart representatives entered into agreement last July 18.  

The July 18 talks between Batnag, his mother Carmen, representing lot owner heirs and  Smart  representatives security manager Ariel Emock,   asset protection and management officer  Pollen Aluning,  Allan Difuntorum and Gil Rosales  of the  engineering unit of  Smart-Baguio agreed on a monthly  P70,000 lot rental effective June 1, 2012.  

The July 18 talks also agreed on increase of P40, 000 yearly rents to P50, 000 monthly rent for Barangay Balugan considering a lot occupied by Smart was part of the barangay people’s communal property.   

Batnag also said Smart did not honor their July 18 agreement that he represent the clan-family lot owners in dealing with the company as further attested by a special power of attorney naming him as the administrator on said lot.            

In the unsigned memorandum of agreement drafted by Smart however, Smart placed Bernard’s mother and widow Carmen Batnag to represent heirs of lot owner, GabinoBatnag.

Also, Bernard Batnag  said Smart, did not include in the unsigned MOA  rights of  lot owner prior consent before any additional antenna or equipment be installed  and additional 10% charge on the monthly rate for said  installation.  
Smart specially included in the MOA the company’s right to install any additional antenna and/or equipment within the lease period.

The new MOA   effective June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013 and renewable till May 2018 was a new agreement following an earlier agreement between  GabinoBatnag and Smart  on June 1, 1997 to  May  31, 2012 for Smart’s lease of a 500 square meter property.

Earlier talks June this year between lot owner/s and Smart representatives followed after a signal shutdown June 21.

This, after Smart did not talk with any of the lot –owner representatives after the 15-year lease contract lapsed May 31 this year despite repeated attempts by Batnag to reach Smart.    

Meantime,  the four-day shutdown which paralyzed communications resulting to failed email messages and  internet-based business led people here to change  subscriber identity module (Sim) cards  to Globe and TM.             

Some persons here said Smart better transfer their tower to another site to prevent signal disruption.


B’gay official, family killed for being 'in wrong place, time'

CURRIMAO. Ilocos Norte - A barangay chairman was in the wrong place and in the wrong time, when he was shot while his kin were hurt in a shooting that supposedly targeted an alleged illegal drugs tipster here Wednesday afternoon.

Ilocos Norte police director Senior Supt. Marlou Chan said chairman Melchor Pacnis of Barangay Victoria, Currimao together with his family were enroute to nearby Paoay town aboard a tricycle along the national highway when a gunman paid to “eliminate” drug operation tipster Edgar Quinto, who was enroute to Currimao, began firing a pistol and whose bullets also hit the village chairman.

The tricycle where the village chief and his family rode was turned upside down, injuring members of his family, while the real target — Quinto,39, and his son Jared — were able to flee.

Quinto also suffered a gunshot wound and took refuge at the Currimao town police headquarters.

The victims were all rushed to a hospital in Batac City while policemen launched pursuit operations.

Police said the latest shooting incident could not be political as the real target was not the village chairman.

Amid the continuing spate of shootings and killings in Ilocos Norte, Sr. Supt. Chan said the work of the Task Force running after guns-for-hire is succeeding with the arrest of the province’s number 14 “target”—Robert Baoit.

Last week, Baoit who was tagged in numerous “hits” was cornered in his lair, bringing to at least a dozen the paid hitmen in the province nabbed by cops.


IBP-Vicaya supports judge accused in colleague's slay

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter here rallied behind a retired judge who was recently charged with the murder of a colleague two years ago. 

In a manifesto, the IBP-Nueva Vizcaya chapter led by Emmanuel Rasing said retired Judge Jose Rosales, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 27 here, is not capable of committing such crime. 

Rosales, 76, is facing charges after recaptured New Bilibid Prison (NBP) detainee Rommel Laciste, a murder convict, claimed the retired judge paid them P100,000 to kill human rights lawyer Ernesto Salunat. 

Salunat, 64, a former IBP Northern Luzon governor and provincial campaign manager of the Liberal Party in the 2010 elections, was shot dead in front of the municipal trial court in Solano town here on June 22, 2010.   

“Judge Rosales is seen as an honest, prudent, just and peace-loving person,” and “implicating…(him) in (Salunat’s killing) is seen as nothing but a mere ploy to divert the attention of the intelligence and law enforcement community away from the real perpetrators of the crime,” according to the manifesto. 

The IBP members also offered to help Rosales in his legal defense even as they assured him of their “continuing quest for justice” for Salunat and his family.

Among the signatories to the manifesto were former governor Rodolfo Agbayani, former board members Reonel Saddul and Primo Marcos, former provincial prosecutor Celerino Jandoc, provincial administrator Edu Balgos, former provincial legal officer Basilio Rupisan, provincial elections officer Abraham Asuncion and former municipal elections officer Fidel Santos.


Hunt on for soldier in wedding murder

NATIVIDAD, Pangasinan  – A manhunt for an Army soldier, who allegedly shot dead a laborer during a wedding in Sitio San Narciso, Barangay Burgos here Sept. 16, is underway. 

Senior Insp. Johnny Barroga identified the suspect as Alejandro Pascua, 32, married, and a resident of the same barangay.

Pascua allegedly gunned down Virgilio  Ramento, 26, single, and resident of Barangay San Francisco in Alicia, Isabela. 

Ramento suffered gunshot wounds in the head. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Eastern Pangasinan District Hospital in Tayug town.


Ifugao cops destroy P4M marijuana; nab wanted person

By Marcelo B. Lihgawon

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The Philippine National Police   scored anew in  their  campaign  against  illegal  drugs  and  wanted persons in the province.

Provincial police chief Supt. Ramil Saculles reported that about 2,000 fully grown marijuana plants valued P.4 million were destroyed in Barangay Gumhang by PNP elements led by Tinoc town police chief Insp. Rodolfo Fateg last Sept. 3.
Saculles said the marijuana plants were planted in a one-hectare plantation.  The PNP was not able to arrest the cultivator of said plants.
Earlier, police forces uprooted and destroyed   about 6,600 full-grown marijuana plants and 400 seedling  in Sitio Batu, Barangay Tulludan in Tinoc last month with the DDB estimated value  of  P1,336,000.
Saculles said the success of the anti-illegal drugs operation was conducted with help from residents and barangay officials of Tinoc.
The provincial police director also disclosed that  also on Sept. 3,  the 11th top most wanted person of Lagawe town was captured by joint forces from the municipal and provincial police offices led by Police Senior Inspectors Kenneth Pugong and AngelitoPallaya.
Samuel Cabbigat, 42, was arrested in his residence at Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya by virtue of warrant of arrest issued by Judge Jose GodofredoNaui of Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in 2005 for the crime of homicide.
He was committed to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Tiger Hill in Kiangan, Ifugao the following day. 


Two more dialysis patients need help

By Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY -- Both are supposed to be in the “prime of life”, explained by language experts as “the time of maturity when power and vigor are at their greatest.” 

Marilou Matias, a housewife from Villasis, Pangasinan, is 24 with a five-year old daughter.  Dinton Canuto Basta, a laborer from La Trinidad, Benguet,  is 25, single and supposed to be a laborer.

Since May last year, however, Marilou could hardly do housekeeping. That was after he was rushed to the hospital due to severe abdominal pain and vomiting. Dinton, fifth of six children of a laborer, was sidelined from washing carrots at the La Trinidad Trading Post after he suffered a mild stroke and nosebleed last November.

Both were diagnosed for total kidney failure. Both were advised to undergo at least twice a week hemodialysis treatment for life. At P2,200 to P2,600 per session, excluding other maintenance medicines, blood transfusions and other medical requirements to survive, it’s hazardous to the wallet.

Still, it’s a more practical option compared to kidney transplant, which can run to P1.5 million from tissue matching to recovery, the amount to include expensive anti-rejection medicines for at least a year

Yet hemodialysis is far beyond the means, not only for Dinton and Marilou, but to hundreds of similarly situated patients from all over who have flocked to Baguio and La Trinidad to be near those equally expensive machines that work as their kidneys.

Simplicio, Marilou’s 34-year old  common-law husband who works as a security guard, just can’t figure out how ends could meet. Distraught over how to sustain his wife’s treatment, he got her social case study report from the municipal social welfare office, the clinical abstract and her written permission allowing the publication  of a news item on  her plight.

So did Dinton’s 56-year  mother, Benita, a farm laborer from Kapangan, Benguet. Last week, she followed up on her son’s request for publication of his medical condition, “with the hope that readers/listeners would know of my case and be able to respond and extend their support to help sustain my dialysis sessions”.

Marilou is on the Monday and Thursday schedule at the crowded Renal Center of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Simplicio said it was easier for her to be brought up her by bus for her treatment than to have her session in Dagupan.

The couple’s struggle to maintain her treatment sessions is for their five-year old daughter Sharmane.

Dinton has four sisters and a brother also trying to make ends meet. Gereldin, the eldest at 35, and Dionido, 33, are marginal farmers. Rebecca, 30, is a store helper, while Sharon, 31, is a house help. Rythlyn, 23, is a farm laborer like their father Elemterio.

Elemterio, a native of Kabayan, Benguet, met Benita in Quirino Province where both worked as farm laborers. After marriage, the couple established their residence on a lot given them by a relative. Their six kids did not pursue college studies due to limited financial resources, wrote social worker Maria Lourdes Taguiba of the La Trinidad social welfare office.

Dinton, the last child, ventured into La Trinidad in 2007, and found work as a carrot washer. Last November, he suffered a mild stroke. Medical examination confirmed he was also suffering from end-stage renal failure.

“He is at present undergoing twice-a-week hemodialysis which the family could no longer afford to support,” said Taguiba.

Dinton, who is supposed to be on the Monday and Thursday dialysis schedule (11 a.m.- 3p.m. shift) at the BGHMC might not be able to make it this Monday as his family has ran out of people to run to for help. He  can be reached through his mother’s cellphone number  (09465507988). Samaritans can also contact Marilou at cellphone number 09268469200.

Grim is the struggle of many dialysis patients, yet their faces lighten up each time someone like Engr. Leonard Licanio comes along and reaches out to them. Recently, he handed over P2,000 each to dialysis patients Linbeth Lestino and Madeline Ranille.

Last week, kidney patient Jocelyn Laigo, of Burgos, La Union reported that Licanio likewise contributed P1,200 for her dialysis sessions.

“He is Mr.  Leonardo Licani  from Mankayan pero nadistino Balatok mines, ken project manager ti Akikis builders,” Jocelyn texted.


Abra boundary disputes to be fixed with 3B maps

TUBO, Abra  -  A three-dimensional map will settle boundary disputes going on for decades among tribes in upland Abra.

The Maeng tribe of Tubo and the Balatoc, Belwang and Masadiit tribes of Boliney in Abra can come to terms with mediation underway with the use of the 3D map after the tribes agreed on May 2011 to jointly construct it as a visual guide in facilitating discussions among them.

The 3D map will be used as a tool to steer tribal mediation process in Abra, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Chairperson ZenaidaPawid said.

The 3D map was launched on Sept. 12, at the NCIP Provincial Office in Bangued, Abra.

Present during the launch were elders and Bodong (peace pact) holders or those who are keepers of the history and indigenous knowledge of the tribes.

With strong affinity to their land and natural resources, the indigenous peoples consider rivers, forests, mountains, ritual sites and sacred burial grounds as part of their traditional boundaries and territories.

The 3D map, the NCIP said, strengthens traditional conflict mechanisms where the negotiation is left in the hands of the elders and will maintain the Bodong as integral component of the final settlement.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. Chair of the House Committee on Cultural Communities who has led mediation meetings in upland Abra hopes that the tribal communities will finally reach an accord towards respect for traditions, rights, boundaries and resource use. 

Also instrumental in making the negotiation process possible are the Office of the Presidential Adviser for on the Peace Process (OPAPP), NCIP, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID) and the Foundation from the Philippine Environment (FPE). 


Vendors’ apron up for public hearing

BAGUIO CITY -- His peers at the city legislature agree his intentions are good, yet feel city councilor Edison Bilog’s proposal to require all market vendors, including sidewalk peddlers, to wear color-coded aprons while selling might do more harm than good.

The proposed ordinance was up for second reading but the city council Monday deferred passage and have the measure subjected to a public hearing.

“Will it not legitimize street vendors?,” asked councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, expressing the fears of other members that peddlers would misconstrue the apron as some badge validating their occupation of sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways.

“How can this ordinance put order to a chaotic market?,” asked councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr.  while councilor Elmer Datuin said the staff of the city market supervisor would be overburdened by adding to their work the enforcement of the apron-wearing requirement.

The council’s committee on market, trade and commerce headed by councilor Perlita Rondez earlier recommended approval on second reading of the proposed ordinance and that of a similar measure filed by vice-mayor Daniel Farinas.

Fianza, a member of the committee, however, asked, “but will this not legalize use of sidewalks for vending?”

Bilog explained his proposal was intended to help tidy up the market, and also for health and tourism purposes, not to legitimize sidewalk vending.

“Public and private market and  talipapa vendors can contribute and play a vital part in exercising a healthy Baguio City if they themselves are neat, tidy and careful while plying and selling their trades, products and services,” Bilog said in his proposal.

“With a color-coded apron system that is both useful and pleasing to the sight of market-goers it may somehow put order to the otherwise chaotic sight that is observed in the public as well as private Baguio markets,” the measure added.

He recommended  red apron for meat, fish, lechon, chicken and poultry vendors; green for those selling fruits, vegetables and groceries; white for eatery and dry goods vendors; and electric blue for all sidewalk vendors.

 He pegged the fines for violations are P300 for the first offense, P500 for the second and P700 per violation for the third.

Exempted in the proposal titled “The Baguio City Market Vendors’ Apron Identification System” are vendors in malls and shopping complexes. – Ramon Dacawi


Phil Navy officer shot dead in ambush

 By Mydz Supnad

DASOL, Pangasinan- An officer of the Phil. Navy was shot dead Sept. 14 by three armed men who ambushed him while the Navy’s companion was unhurt in National highway, barangay Botobot, this town.
Police report said that P02 Victor Balanon, detailed with the Phil .Navy Headquarters in San Antonio, Zambales, died on the spot after he was gunned down by three unidentified men in the said highway.
Investigation showed that the victim, together with his companion SM2nd Glaiza Ballesteros, also a member of the Navy, was driving his Toyota Fortuner with plate number TQN 628 when suddenly three armed men blocked their path in Botobot.
The three men were reportedly carrying long bamboos when they blocked the victim’s van.
Once stopped, the suspects shot the victim and killed him on the spot. Ballesteros, however, was not hurt after she was left behind by the suspects.
The suspects suddenly escaped when another vehicle was coming to the ambush site.
Police said they are now hunting the suspects who fled towards the town of Burgos.


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