La Union town declared poll hotspot due to slays

>> Monday, October 29, 2012

TUBAO, La Union --  Police declared Thursday this town an “area of immediate concern” or an election hotspot following series of violent incidents after filing of certificates of candidacy last Oct. 5. 

Senior Supt. Ramon Purugganan, La Union police director, told the media at police provincial headquarters in Camp Diego Silang, San Fernando City they declared Tubao a poll hotspot after Rodolfo Estoque, 56, a councilman of Barangay Leones West, Tubao town, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men at around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Macalva Sur, Agoo town.

“We already declared in our report that Tubao is a hotspot because of its past election history and the recent killings which we believe are connected with politics. Based on our investigation, some of the victims are allied with politicians,” Purugganan said. 

Investigation showed that Estoque was driving his car at the boundary of Agoo and Tubao when his assailants got near him and shot him several times with a Cal. 45 pistol, killing him on the spot.

The gunmen fled immediately toward the east onboard a Kawasaki motorcycle. 

Purugganan said Estoque’s killing was politically motivated. 

Last Sept. 16, Tubao Mayor Dante Garcia survived an ambush after several armed men onboard a Toyota Innova peppered his Toyota Fortuner with bullets while on his way home along the Aspiras Highway in Barangay Lloren. 

Garcia, now on his third and last term, is seeking the vice mayoral post this time with a relative as his mayoral running mate.

He is pitted against his brother, incumbent Vice Mayor Wilfredo Garcia.

Police said the bodies of at least three victims of “salvaging” (summary execution), all males and believed to be political supporters, were found recently in separate places in Tubao. 

Purugganan and other police officials in La Union have agreed to enforce tighter security and increase police visibility in Tubao.

“We (deployed) additional forces in Tubao to address the worsening situation in the area. We think that there are other planned killings until the elections,” Purugganan said.


Bronze cross awarded to ‘hero’ cadet

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – The Philippine Military Academy Wednesday awarded a bronze cross to Alfonso Aviles, the cadet who slipped into a coma after trying to foil a robbery in Quezon City last August.

PMA superintendent Maj. Gen. Nonato Peralta presented the award to Aviles at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) in Manila, where the cadet remains confined.

“We are truly proud of you. PMA is truly proud because you are a sterling example of the character that we represent,” Peralta told Aviles.

The bronze cross is given to military and civilian personnel of the AFP as well as members of the armed forces of friendly foreign nations for heroism.

Aviles was wearing a blue hospital gown when he faced reporters for the first time yesterday since Aug. 25.

He had a hard time speaking to reporters because his jaw needs to be restructured through a titanium plate implant due to a fracture.

In a very soft voice, the cadet thanked God and those who prayed for his recovery.

“First of all, I thank God for everything,” Aviles said.

“Thank you to all who prayed for me,” he added.

Aviles’ father, Rodolfo, believes his son will not hesitate to do another act of heroism when necessary.   

“I’m happy because I can see the improvements in my son. At first, I was very sad, I was angry at the one who did this to him,” the elder Aviles said.

Rodolfo is a retired Marine sergeant.

Aviles was also given another PMA bull ring to replace the one that was taken by the robber last August.

He was riding a jeep along Mindanao Avenue, Barangay Lagro in Fairview when an unidentified man pulled out a gun and announced a heist.

He was shot in the head and shoulder after he tried to grab the gun from the suspect.

Capt. Medardo Millares, chief of the AFPMC surgery department, said Aviles has to undergo physical rehabilitation three times a week.

Despite the improvements in his condition, the hero cadet still needs to stay in the hospital “because of the mandibular fracture and the physical rehabilitation he is undergoing,” said Brig. Gen. Normando Sta. Ana, commander of the AFP Medical Center.

He said Aviles’ doctors are still waiting for a bullet on his shoulder to surface but have given assurance that he is “much closer to full recovery.”

Aviles, a member of PMA “PudangKalis (Sacred Sword)” Class of 2013, was shot in the head and shoulder when he grabbed the gun from a robber while he was in a jeepney last Aug. 25.


DPWH Sec Singson urged: Probe Sagada road project

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- The Sangguniang Bayan here urged Dept. of Public Works and Highways  Sec. Rogelio Singson to investigate the controversial Sabangan-Sagada road project.  

This, after DPWH regional director Edilberto Carabaccan thumbed down an SB resolution calling for preparation of program of work for the  road which should pass Balili and likewise ignoring  request setting aside a blueprint prepared for  the Sabangan-Sagada road  via  Madepdeppas, Sabangan.      

The road project has been submitted by the  DPWH-CAR  to the central DPWH office for review and approval.

Vice Mayor Richard Yodong here said the legislative body here is appealing to Singson to inspect the Madepdeppas route in view of the intention of the SB’s earlier 2011 resolution requesting Singson to extend the length  of the Dantay-Sagada  national road to Sagada-Suyo-Balili road.

Councilor Capone Gomgom-o said  the project should refer to the earlier inspection  and endorsement of  the Department of Tourism  regional director  Purificacion Molintas  on  the Balili route.

Gomgom-o said he was one among members of the SB who accompanied Molintas inspect the said  road February this year on the occasion of the municipality’s  Etag festival.

In his letter to SB  secretary reneus Tauli, Carabaccan  said the  Sabangan-Sagada road is a declared   strategic  tourist destination  site in the DPWH-DOT tourism convergence program  for  2013. 

He said the selection under said category was based using the  tourism road infrastructure  project prioritization criteria (TRIPPC) in coordination with the  DOT and the  research, education and institutional development(REID)  Foundation.

REID Foundation is a Metro-Manila based policy research and advocacy institute  focusing on infrastructure, transport, tourism, education and health.

It is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Asia Foundation.

As part of criteria asked by TRIPPC, selection of a project under DOT’s priority infrastructure rates high road network importance near a primary road.

Location rates superior on road near a tourism service center and number of tourist accommodations and tourist arrivals. Consultation with stakeholders rates high along with other economic and development impacts as decongestion of  traffic.  

The very act of Carabaccan ignored endorsement and prior inspection of  Molintas on said   Balili route, councilor  Venancio Baybay said.

The   proposed Sabangan-Sagada road via Balili  is an upgrading of  an existing road exiting to the Baguio-Bontoc national road and located near Sabangan. 

Said road passes tourist spots-  Balangagan cave and Pongas Falls- and  links the much visited Sumaguing  cave near the town proper.  

The Balili route also serves as an alternate route to the Dantay-Sagada Road leading to the tourist town.  


‘Tingting’ finds lucky charm for name recall; ‘sweeps’ Laoag, Vigan

LAOAG CITY – This early,United Nationalist Alliance senatorial bet Margarita "Tingting" Cojuangco may have found  a lucky charm in her name in her bid to gain a seat in the Upper House.

“Tingting” braved strong rains brought about by typhoon Ofel Thursday to meet market vendors and leaders to launch her opening campaign salvo preparatory to the 2013 midterm elections.  

Campaigners and supporters of President P-Noy's aunt waved broomsticks (walisTingting) to welcome their guest inside the city market before she met in an informal tete-a-tete with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos whose families were former political adversaries.  

She also dropped by at the Bishop's residence to pay her respects to the Most Reverend Ian Rabago, caretaker of the Diocese of Laoag.  

Banking on her political slogan "Para sa Malinis at Tuwid na Daan, si Tingting ang Kailangan," Cojuangco also met with key business figures of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other socio-civic clubs to discuss the business aspect of her political platform and also a press briefing with
local and national media practitioners of northern Luzon.  

Cojuangco also expressed her admiration to the leadership of Gov. Marcos and was impressed by the rapid economic growth of the province and the preservation of heritage sites particularly Hispanic churches and buildings which promotes cultural tourism.


Halsema shabu suppliers nabbed

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Three elusive shabu distributors, to include a member of a prominent political family and a former marine engineer, were cornered by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – Cordillera around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, in a buy-bust operation.

Christopher W. Galuten, Carlito Esyaben Jr. and Jonifredo Bekesan were nabbed at Pico, Km. 4, here after resisting arrest. 

Emely Cayandag Fama, regional PDEA information officer said Galuten’s group was allegedly responsible in distributing shabu to street pushers in three towns along the Halsema Highway namely, Buguias, La Trinidad and Mankayan, all of Benguet.

The reportedly usually rented a car and utilizing such as service vehicle in illegal drug dealings to mislead law enforcers. 

A white Toyota Grandia van, which the trio used for the entrapment deal was seized, among other evidence against them.

A PDEA press statement said Galuten, 37, was a resident of ofCada, Balili, Mankayan, while Esyaben Jr. 38, was from Upper Tabio, Balili, Mankayan. Bekesan, 23, was a college graduate in Marine Engineering, farmer, was also resident of Balili.

Confiscated from the trio three sachets of shabu weighing 0.16 gram, valued at P4,000. 

The three suspects were charged before the provincial prosecutor’s office for illegal drugs. 

In another incident, a   porter at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post and his "supplier" were arrested here in a drug bust last week.

Alfredo Limos alias “Isaac”, 35 from Ninoy, Aguilar town, Pangasinan; and DemerCapulong alias “Bal”, 23, single, porter and native of Tibag, Tarlac City and resident of Km. 5 here were arrested with P16,000.00 worth of shabu, packed in two plastic sachets.

The shabu weighed .65 gram.

Emily Fama, PDEA-Cordillera spokesperson, said the duo sold the shabu to an undercover agent in a graveyard bust conducted  Oct. 20.

Fama said that Limos travels to the Cordillera region from time to time to deliver shabu to Capulong.

A gray-colored Hyundai Starex van, which the duo used for the deal was seized by the PDEA operatives.

Drug charges have been filed against the two suspects.


Barangay exec shot dead in Pangasinan

MANGATAREM, Pangasinan  - Motorcycle-riding gunmen killed a barangay official in an ambush here night of Oct. 21.

Chief Insp. Fidel Junio, Mangatarem police's acting chief, identified the fatality as Oscar Viray, 53, a retired Navy man and secretary of Barangay Dorongan Sawat.

Junio said that Viray was driving his motorcycle when he was ambushed by motorcycle-riding gunmen at the approach of the Caantalan Bridge in Barangay Dorongan Punta.

Initial investigation showed the victim was riding a tricycle on his way home when the shooting occurred.

The victim, who was hit in different parts of the body, was rushed to the Mangatarem District Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Six spent shells and a slug for a caliber 9mm pistol were recovered at the crime scene.  


Speeding funeral car kills vice mayor’s brod, man

ILAGAN CITY – Two persons, including the brother of a vice mayor, were killed when a speeding funeral car collided with a tricycle in Barangay Upi, Gamu, Isabela last Oct. 21

Police identified the fatalities as Reynaldo San Buenaventura of Barangay Alinguigan, Ilagan City and Mario Lungan, brother of Vice Mayor Roberto Lungan of Benito Soliven town. The victims were both passengers of the tricycle.

The tricycle driver, Filomeno Prado, a resident of Burgos town, remains in critical condition while the driver of the funeral car had minor injuries. – Charlie Lagasca


Greens slam arrest of activist due to Facebook post

GANZAGA, Cagayan -- The country's largest environmental coalition slammed the recent arrest of an anti-mining activist in this province using a Facebook post as main evidence for a libel suit.

In a statement, the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy (Green Convergence) condemned the arrest of Esperlita Garcia for the facts that she stated in Facebook about the destructive black sand mining in Gonzaga and local authorities' unbecoming behavior in dealing with those who oppose mining.

"What is the basis of this arrest? Publicizing information is not libelous and should not be stopped whether it appears in print or online," said Marie Marciano, vice president of Green Convergence.

"Surely, the Cybercrime Prevention Law does not mean to prevent such publication.  If this law were the purported basis for her arrest, the judge who issued the warrant for her arrest should have known that the law has not taken effect as the Supreme Court has issued a 120-day Temporary Restraining Order on it," Marciano added.  "Garcia's arrest is clearly illegal and should not be tolerated by the Department of Justice nor by any freedom-loving Filipino."

Garcia is president of the Gonzaga Alliance for Environmental Protection and Preservation (GAEPP), a network-member of the Federation of Environmental Advocates in Cagayan Province (FEAC) and of the national alliance pushing for mining policy reforms, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM). Garcia is also a member of the board of trustees of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA). Both ATM and SSMNA are members of Green Convergence.

"In view of climate change, it is criminal to minimize by even an inch the stretch of land that serves as buffer between human settlements and the rising sea level," said Dr. Angelina Galang, environment professor at Miriam College in Manila and president of Green Convergence.

In Manila, Galang said it is terrible enough that local officials have been approving such business ventures which benefit only foreign countries where our land will be exported.           

"To arrest a citizen who has been fighting against this activity and spreading awareness on the harm it has done is a great disservice to our country. Green Convergence, supports Esperlita Garcia in her brave campaign for our country’s environment and we call on President Benigno Aquino and the relevant government agencies to stop this obvious harassment and to correct this great injustice," Galang said.

Green Convergence is an environmental coalition of individuals, organizations and the following networks: AlyansaTigil Mina (ATM), Network Opposed to GMOs (NO to GMO), EcoWaste Coalition, Save Sierra Madre Network (SSMN), , Environmental Education Network of the Philippines (EENP), Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission - Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (JPICC-AMRSP), Partnership for Clean Air, Earthday Network of the Philippines, Youth for Sustainable Development Assembly (YSDA), Civil Society Counterpart Council for Sustainable Development (CSC-CSD), Philippine Federation for Environmental Concerns (PFEC), among others.


Cordillera autonomy uncertain, says survey

BAGUIO CITY – Almost half of Cordillerans are still undecided on whether the region should pursue autonomy, a government-initiated survey found out.

Regional officials are now planning how the constitutional mandate would be pursued as the survey bared only one third of regional constituents are for autonomy.

Two Organic Acts for regional autonomy have not been ratified in plebiscites.

A recent survey by the Regional Development Council in the Cordillera found that almost half (48.8 percent) of Cordillerans cannot decide which to favor.

Regional officials held a meeting here at the City Lite Hotel Thursday on “prospects for autonomy” but had differing points of view on how the process should be done.

Most Cordillera solons are pushing for House Bill 5595 or the autonomy bill pending in Congress, while two of the closest political allies of the Aquino administration, especially Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, are still taken aback into approving the measure while citing its practical legislative mill hitches and still lack of grassroots consultations.

Ifugao Rep. TeodoroBaguilat, Jr. meanwhile, still believes more exhaustive consultations should be conducted especially on villagers who will benefit from an autonomous region.

Both Cosalan and Baguilat are members of the Liberal Party and close to the president who has not regarded the autonomy bill as among the over-100 priority bills. 

According to the survey results, of the 5,083 respondents all over the region,  48.8 percent remain undecided, 33.9 percent said yes to autonomy and 17.5 percent said no.

However, RDC Co-chairman and one of the prime movers of autonomy Virgilio Bautista sees the opportunity in the 48.8 percent undecided Cordillerans as “a sizable potential vote to sway”.

The results show an improvement from the 2007 perception where those undecided have decreased.

Bautista said the 48.8 percent undecided votes mean there is still much work to do as far as information education campaign is concerned.

This as the survey also bared that 76.8 percent of the respondents are unaware of House Bill 5595, now pending with the Committee on Appropriations in the House of Representatives while a meager 23.2 percent know the measure.

Meanwhile, less than half (42.9 percent) of the 23 percent who are aware of the autonomy bill, know about its content. More than half (57.1 percent) are unaware of what the measure contains.

With such, much is to be done in the campaign to reach out to the large portions of Cordillerans who are still unaware of the autonomy bill and to educate the wide majority about the new bid for autonomy, said Bautista.

This comes after some sectors pushed for a “bottom-up” approach in the consultations amid traditional approaches by autonomy movers in the government sector. The consultations, in the form of “half-day meetings,” were held in provincial capitals wit the government shelling out sums of money to supposed “media consultants.” The Commission on Audit reportedly found the practice irregular.

In addition, the study which was commissioned by the RDC to students from the various state universities and colleges in the region showed that the majority of respondents in provinces of Apayao, Ifugao and Kalinga said yes while majority of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province and Baguio City respondents voted no and undecided.

The survey, conducted from July to September this year, covered 144 barangays in the all the towns and cities in the highlands. 


Bontoc council wants PNP chief retained

By Wabilyn Mana-od 

BONTOC – The Municipal Peace and Order Council  crafted a resolution strongly supporting Chief Insp. Dyann B. Bangcawayan to be retained as chief of police of this municipality.

Earlier, a letter from the municipal police station was received by the municipal mayor saying there was a pending order from the regional police office for the relief of Bangcawayan and that she will be assigned in the region.

This prompted mayor Pascual Sacgaca to call for an MPOC meeting to discuss issues concerning peace and order of the municipality which includes the issue against the Bangcawayan.

During the meeting, Sacgaca informed the body that on Sept. 3, he received a petition letter against Bangcawayan calling for her immediate relief as the chief of police.

Prior to the petition received by the mayor, he sent a letter to regional police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong reiterating his stand against the petition.

The proponent of the petition was not identified but the mail originated from Baguio City without the signature of the sender per verification made with the local mail courier. 

The mayor said there was no reason to relieve Bangcawayan from her position and that she be retained as Bontoc police chief to continue her exemplary performance.

It was made known to the council that the reason for her relief could be obviously due to the persistent and constant sending of a lot of speculative and unfounded reports without any legal basis and were purely accusations to the regional office by some anonymous authors.

Meanwhile, it was also learned during the meeting that a resolution was directly submitted to the PNP regional office requesting Magalong to investigation  alleged misconduct committed by Bangcawayan.

The resolution was sent without the knowledge of the mayor.

The resolution was extracted from the minutes of the regular meeting of the Parish Pastoral Council.

Since there were no legal cases filed against Bangcawayan, reports being circulated were merely allegations, the council agreed.


Benguet receives $20M United Nations aid

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Benguet got P20 million worth of financial assistance for province’s program against man-made and natural disasters.          

The United Nations World Food Program (UN–WFP) launched Phase II of its project Oct. 12 to help Tublay, Atok, Kibungan and Kapangan towns’s capacity-building efforts in disaster preparedness and response.

UN- WFP Philippines coordinator Michelle McGonagle said “beneficiaries of Phase I project implementation were Tublay and Atok only.

She said these towns were chosen because of their vulnerability to disasters like landslides.

But with the second phase, more towns were included.

In the first phase of the effort, a strong partnership with local government units, the community and other groups for the attainment of a common goal was built.

With the past implementation, they were able to reduce flooding, more evacuation centers were provided, and quick response operations were conducted.

With the help, the Benguet towns were happy with the assistance from the agency, said Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan.

UN partnered with local groups -- Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation Inc. and the University of the Philippines–Baguio for these programs. 


2 bettors win grand lotto pot

SAGADA, Mountain Province – A bettor in a lotto outlet at Barangay Poblacion here became an instant millionaire after bagging the P88-million grand jackpot prize Oct 20.

The bettor however, has to share half of the amount with a bettor from San Fernando, Masbate, who also correctly guessed the winning combination of 37-38-24-33-35-32.

The winner from Masbate, a  66-year-old female retired government employee claimed Thursday  his share of the P88,721,542.80 jackpot of the 6/55 Grand Lotto draw last Oct. 20.

The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes announced the winning number and location of the lotto outlets but did not disclose names of the winners.

In Sagada, local folk are still guessing who the winner is, saying they didn’t know if he was a resident or a tourist who came to see scenic spots and cultural activities here.   


DILG-Ifugao checks full disclosure policy of LGUs

By Dan B. Codamon

LAGAWE, Ifugao --The Department of Interior and Local Government here is closely monitoring implementation of the Full Disclosure Policy established by former DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo.

Municipal Local Government Operations Officer WilbertoUmalco said that they are now nearing the completion of their evaluation and assessment of all the municipalities of Ifugao on compliance with the  policy which requires all local chief executives to follow the guidelines on period of posting required financial documents as mandated by the full disclosure policy.

Umalco said the result of their assessment of the municipalities will also determine whether the concerned LGU complied and therefore qualify  for the incentives under the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) program of the DILG for 2012 . 

This will entitle the municipality to the award of P2 million worth of infrastructure projects  under  the Performance Challenge Fund of the  SGH program.

Under the Full Disclosure Policy, LGUs are mandated to post annually in their bulletin boards their local budget and finances and their bids and public offerings which have been considered and proven as an effective measure against the commission of graft and corruption in government.

The annual budget report must be posted on or before January 20 of each year or not later than 20 days after the approval by the local Sangguniang, the Statement of Debt Services 20 days after the approval by the local chief executive (LCE) of the Statement of Debt Services Annual Report, the Statement of Receipts and Expenditures  20 days after approval by the LCE of the Statement of Receipts and Expenditures Annual Report and the Quarterly Statement of Cash Flow within 20 days after the end of every quarter.

For Procurement Reports, the Annual Procurement Plan or Procurement List must be posted on or before January 31 of each year, the Items to Bid within the prescribed  period under the Government Procurement Reform Act, the Bids Results on Civil Works, Goods and Services and Consulting Services within the prescribed period under the Procurement Act,  the Abstract of Bids as Calculated also within the prescribed period under the Procurement Act and the Supplementary Procurement Plan not later than 20 days after the approval by the Head of Procuring Unit.

Under the Special Purpose Fund Reports consisting of the Special Education Fund (SEF) Income and Expenditure Estimates must be posted 20 days after the approval by the Local School Board of the SEF Income and Expenditure Annual Report, the Report of SEF Utilization 20 days after the end of each quarter, the Annual GAD Accomplishment Report not later than the end of January of the ensuing year, the Trust Fund Utilization 20 days after the end of each quarter, the 20% Component of the IRA Utilization 20 days after the end of each quarter and the Report of Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund Utilization 20 days after the end of each quarter.

All documents must remain posted until the first quarter of the ensuing year and the glass-covered bulletin boards containing the said documents must not be locked to allow the general public to view and read each and every page of every financial document. 


Tagudin mayor declares his town jueteng-free

TAGUDIN, Ilocos Sur—“Only the financers of jueteng gain from its operations,” so said Mayor Roque Versoza Jr., as he declared this town jueteng free.

This town will remain jueteng free, Versoza he added.

 “I have been pressured by operators and other politicians to give a green light for jueteng operations in my town, but I said no,” he said.

 If one wants to stop jueteng operations, it only takes political will, he added.

 Tagudin is the only town in the region that is jueteng free.

 Versoza, a multi awarded mayor is a member of Kaya Natin, a political group for good governance.

 The group is co-founded by the late interior and local government Sec. Jessie Robredo, who himself was a staunch advocate against the illegal games.

 According to Versoza, his office is now on the process of gathering the names of the bet collectors and will be priority with the government’s 4Ps program and other livelihood programs of the municipality. 


Clark terminal fees lowered

By Mar T. Supnad

Owing to the increasing volume of passengers come Christmas season, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) has lowered its airport terminal fee.

CIAC President and Chief Executive Officer Victor Jose Luciano announced that “such reduction, which is now lower to Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s P500 fee is meant to attract more abroad-bound air travels and passengers to CIA.

Nevertheless, domestic terminal fee remains at P150.”

Luciano said during first six months of year 2012, CIAC recorded a 54 percent growth in passenger volume because of the increased flights of the budget carriers and full service airlines.

CIA is the only airport in the country that has six budget carriers namely AirPhil Express, Air Asia Philippines, Air Asia Malaysia, Cebu Pacific, Jin Air and Seair that operates 24 hours a day.

The Clark airport is one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia with two runways in parallel configuration that can be easily extended to four kilometers to accommodate new generation wide-bodied aircrafts.

The London-based Financial Times business group recently ranked CIAC third best airport in the world.

Luciano, in a statement, said “the government wanted to develop a long-term program [for CIA] like the development of a new passenger terminal to house a massive number of passengers as well as aircrafts for budget carriers and legacy carriers.”

With this undertaking, the Aquino administration is keen on transforming CIA as the main airport of the country, Luciano said.

During the first six months of year 2012, CIAC has recorded a 54 percent growth in passenger volume because of the increased flights of the budget carriers, and full service airlines.

The Clark airport is one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia with two runways in parallel configuration that can easily be extended to four kilometers to accommodate new generation wide-bodied aircrafts.

The primary runway has a length of 3,200 meters and a width of 61 meters and is fully equipped with all navigational aids and lighting facilities and has a Category One rating for precision approach while the secondary runway has a length of 3,200 meters and a width of 45 meters.

CIA is well equipped with a Terminal Radar Approach Control, Navigational Aids, Meteorological Equipment, Airfield Ground Lighting System and Crash, Fire and Rescue facilities.

In a related development, Financial Times Business Group also ranked the Clark Freeport Zone, the seat of the CIA, as the 8th best Freeport zone in the world, making Clark joining the roster of elite list of Freeport zones worldwide.


Investors invited to join Kalinga tourism industry

By Geraldine G. Dumallig

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Officials are inviting investors to engage in the tourism industry of the province to develop it as an eco-tourism destination,

Kalinga provincial Tourism officer Lorraine Ngao-i said the province is looking at a tourism industry that promotes beauty of nature, heritage, culture and its people.

“This is the reason why its development should be planned with the involvement of all sectors especially those currently investing and planning to invest in the industry.”

Investors,  she said,  could chose from the various available eco-tourism packages in the province especially in Tabuk City which is only an hour away from Tuguegarao Airport.

“Though we are promoting the province as a tourism destination, this should not be a one-shot approach for we need to plan well the programs and take every necessary step to ensure that what we are promoting will be protected and preserved,” she said.

Ngao-i said Kalinga should not experience mistakes made by other tourist destinations in the country where the industry that they hoped would bring economic prosperity became a problem as it resulted to various violations of the law, including emergence of moral, social and environmental issues.

“We want Kalinga tourism to be selective with the people and visitors respecting what they come to see,” she said.

Currently, the province  is visited by several tourists. At least 14,593 arrivals from January to August this year  was  reported by accommodation service providers in the city with 2,853 foreigners of said number.

To enhance the industry, the province she said is encouraging the participation of key stakeholders from the private sectors to support the program with the active participation in the various tourism activities.

While waiting for investors to take part in developing their tourism packages, the province is giving focus to three vital steps to improve the industry.


P-Noy cites slain DENR worker for dedication

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya  – President Aquino bestowed recently the Dangal ng Bayan Award on a worker of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources who was killed in Cagayan earlier this year.

Melania Dirain, a former forestry specialist, was cited for her exemplifying commitment as a public servant, the regional office of the state-run Philippine Information Agency said yesterday.

The award is given by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to government workers who displayed exemplary adherence to the norms of conduct and ethical behavior in the performance of their duty.

Dirain’s three sons received P200,000 cash assistance from the President. Her trophy, which was received by her sons, was designed by National Artist for sculpture Napoleon Abueva.

During the Earth Day celebration last April 22, Dirain was posthumously named as one of the 2012 Fr. Nery Satur Environmental Heroes along with an Italian priest who was killed in Mindanao.

Dirain, 42, was shot dead inside her office by a lone gunman on Feb. 7 this year.

The gunman, Adorable Caligan, of Claveria town was later charged with murder.

However, the mastermind in the killing of Dirain remains at large.

Authorities said Dirain’s murder could be in connection with her office’s discovery of illegally cut logs and interception of more than 20,000 board feet of lumber along the Cagayan-Ilocos Norte border.


‘Dream bridge’ links Pangasinan provinces

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — The realization of the construction of Bocboc Bridge, the “dream bridge” connecting the 3rd and 2nd congressional districts of Pangasinan will help promote tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways Region 1 director Veniedo O. Reyes said Tuesday.

More than a decade, the dream construction of Bocboc Bridge connecting San Carlos City and Aguilar town has been elusive.

But this year, the Department of Tourism has allocated P100 million to help realize the project expected to boost tourism in central and western Pangasinan. 


Hot logs seized in Ecija; men nabbed

GEN. TINIO, Nueva Ecija – The anti-illegal logging task force here led by Mayor Virgilio Bote seized some 10,000 illegally cut logs last Thursday.

Bote said the log haul, consisting of red lauan, was intercepted while being transported through the Sumacbao River in Barangay Rio Chico by 15 local residents. The cut logs came from Barangay Ibuna in Dingalan.

“This shows our determination to stop the scourge of illegal logging in our jurisdiction which has been there since time immemorial,” he said.

One of those arrested, identified only as a certain Ogie, called on President Aquino to provide them with a stable source of alternative livelihood to wean them away from illegal logging.

Ogie, 39, told newsmen he was involved in illegal logging since he was 15. 


Isabela drug ring chief arrested; shabu seized

SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela -- Anti-narcotics agents arrested the leader of a drug ring operating in Isabela during the serving of search warrants, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said on Wednesday.

PDEA director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. said Roderick Dela Cruz, 31, leader of the Dela Cruz Drug Group, of SitioQuirat, Barangay Rizal, Santiago City was nabbed last Oct. 21

Cacdac said Dela Cruz is ranked Number 9 in the agency’s target list of drug personalities in Santiago City.

Reports showed that agents of PDEA Regional Office 2 and the National Bureau of Investigation Cagayan Valley Regional Office, served the warrant against Dela Cruz in his residence which he used as a drug den in Barangay Rizal.

Cacdac said the operatives recovered 10 pieces of transparent plastic sachets of shabu and assorted drug paraphernalia.
Operatives also arrested inside Dela Cruz's house Carlo Corpuz, 35; Modesto Cajas Jr., 41; and Tristan de Leon, 26, who were all reportedly caught sniffing shabu. 


'Prices of Pampanga lanterns to go up'

MABALACAT CITY, Pampanga  – Lantern makers here advised consumers that now is the best time to buy Christmas lanterns when prices are much cheaper since most people are preparing for the coming All Saints’ Day.

“Now is the time to buy lanterns since it will be peak season after Nov. 1 then, the prices could go up as much as 40 percent,” said Mary Anne San Pedro, 33, a lantern businesswoman from this province that is reputed to be the world’s Christmas lantern capital.

San Pedro said that unlike pyrotechnic products whose prices plunge on New Year’s Eve, the prices of Christmas lanterns are not expected to dip substantially even after Christmas Day.

“That’s because the demand for Christmas lanterns remains even up to the Chinese New Year (in January),” she said.

San Pedro, who owns the Santa Sleigh Lantern store along the Dau highway near the exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) here, said that balikbayans and foreigners often buy lanterns to bring back to their homes or friends abroad after spending the Christmas holidays in the Philippines.

“They do this after Christmas, so we convert the volts of the lanterns from 220 to 110 for use abroad,” she said.San Pedro said a capiz star lantern measuring three feet in diameter costs P2,800. The lantern has 21 light bulbs that dance in five patterns.

A similar sized lantern with colored plastic cover would cost much less at P700, but they have only six light bulbs each with only two lighting patterns.


Kids’ participation in parades to be regulated

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – The city council last week approved on first reading and referred to the appropriate committee a proposed ordinance of Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda as to regulation of children participation during parades.

The lady councilor maintained that though children are always a delight during parades, it may be that they would be exposed to elements “that endanger their health and well-being.” “Their developing bodies cannot endure the physical strain,” Councilor Tabanda said.

She thus said that children should participate in parades only when necessary; children below 7 years of age should always be accompanied by adults, from assembly time up to finish; and that they should assemble not earlier than 6:30 in the morning. Also, the children should not be allowed to participate in a parade that extends beyond 6:30 in the evening.

Precautionary measures should also be taken during the activity, thus, security and medical personnel should always be on hand.

The children should go first in the parade, so as not to keep them waiting.

“As much as practicable, the distance to be covered by children must be shorted than the rest of the participants,” Councilor Tabanda added.

Penalties for organizers/sponsors would be first offense: fine of P1,500; second offense, fine of  P3,000; third and succeeding offenses, fine of P5,000 and perpertual disqualification to organize/sponsor any event in the city.

After thorough study, the proposed ordinance is expected to be back at the council for deliberation.   


2 Iloilo workers die in fire incident

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Two workers of an inn and restaurant here died of suffocation due to fire night of Oct. 21.  

Police identified the victims as Joe Marie Lastimoso, 47 and Ernesto  Mauricio Noble, 56, both married and natives of Lambonaw, Iloilo City.

Sagada police headed by Kristine Francisco Gamboa said  the staff house  of  Rock Inn and  Restaurant was  razed by fire around 2:49 a.m.

Sixteen occupants were able to escapethe burning staff house while the two victims were trapped inside the building.

Members of the Sagada Fire Station and local police with some residents of Sagada  put off the by 5:30 a.m.
Cost of damage was estimated to be around P750,000.            

Cause of fire was still being investigated.

Lastimoso and Noble were buried at the public cemetery here.


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