PNP disputes ‘high risk’ tag: Poll violence rises in Ilocos

>> Tuesday, November 27, 2012

By Mar T. Supnad and Teddy Molina

CAMP FLORENDO, La Union –Poll violence is rising in the Ilocos but Ilocos police director Chief Supt. Franklyn Jesus Bucayu said these are “areas of concern” and not “high risk” as earlier reported.

Last week, Interior and Local government Sec. Manuel Roxas announced that the provinces of La Union, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan and 12 other provinces, tagged as “high risk areas” in the May 13 polls, were being closely monitored by the Philippine National Police.

In a command conference here Tuesday, Bucayu, noted the intense situation in Tubao town where at least five people have already been killed recently which reports earlier linked to politics.

Bucayu earlier said there were no violent incidents related to politics in the region “but we are now closely monitoring the other areas to prevent untoward incidents the coming polls.”

He said they formed a special task force and  deployed additional policemen to prevent politically-related  violence and trouble that maybe carried out by other groups.

Earlier, Bucayu ordered the relief of chief of police of Tubao police station in La Union due to unsolved shooting incidents, the latest of which were the killings of a lawyer and a barangay official.

Irked by the incidents,  Bucayu relieved  Senior Insp. Luis C. Liban, Tubao police chief due to crime including the failed ambush of Tubao mayor Dante Garcia.

Prior to the implementation of the total gun ban in January 2013, police officials here agreed they would recommend to the national headquarters the early suspension of permits to carry firearms in Tubao town and probably in the entire second district of La Union to prevent violence in next year’s midterm polls. 

“In fact, members of civil society groups in La Union held a rally last week in Freedom Park, Agoo town to denounce the incidents and  call for peace and justice for the victim’s families,” said Supt. Julius Suriben, deputy regional intelligence officer.

La Union provincial police chief Senior Supt. Ramon O. Purugganan said peace and order situation in Tubao necessitates change for new police leadership.

Purugganan designated Senior Insp. BenignoSumawang as officer in charge of Tubao PNP station. 

Mayor Dante Garcia was ambushed but was unharmed by still unknown suspects.

Rodolfo Estoque, a barangay kagawad was shot to death while Lazaro Gayo, a former vice mayor and an aspiring candidate for Sangguniang Panlalawigan was also gunned down.

Garcia has reportedly endorsed his nephew to replace him leaving behind his unnamed brother who is reportedly aspiring to run for mayor.

In Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, provincial police alsao took exception to reports on the supposed inclusion of the province in the list of 15 high-risk areas in next year’s elections.

Senior Supt. Noel Amoyen, provincial police director, said there have been no politically related crimes in the province for a long time.

He dismissed the poll hotspot tag as “speculation,” saying though it would keep local policemen more alert and dedicated in their work. 


Sagada villagers hold rally for slay victim

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province --  More than a thousand  villagers from the northern tribes of  Sagada  namely Bangaan, Pide, Aguid, Madongo, Fidelisan and Tanulong joined by residents of Sagada Poblacion trooped from sitio Nangonogan to the municipal grounds of this tourist town to condemn the gruesome murder of  Elmo Panoyo, resident of Barangay Bangaan.

Jeepney driver Saturnino Elmo Panoyo was shot to death by an unidentified killer along the Besao-Sagada Road on Oct. 30.

The assailant hired Panoyo’s jeep from Bangaan to Besao. Panoyo was pronounced dead on arrival at Besao District Hospital on same day at 6:30 pm.

In said march-rally held Nov. 21, Mayor Eduardo Latawan appealed for justice for Panoyo and for peace to reign in the town.

An unfortunate reason for people to come together, Vice Mayor Richard Yodong nevertheless said the crime has to be resolved and updated the audience that a P50,000 award was allotted by the Sangguniang Bayan  to anyone who can pinpoint the identity of the killer.    

Sagada chief of police Kristine Gamboa urged everyone who has knowledge and information on the crime to visit the police station and forward their statement as the case shall not prosper without any witness and the public’s cooperation.  

SPO4 Elmer Payocong  said the PNP Besao is  doing their investigation to hasten the resolution of the case.

Barangay leaders of northern Sagada forwarded their concern to the family, relatives and tribe of another member of a cultural community who got married to them. Elmo Panoyo is from KapanganBenguet whose family migrated to Nueva Vizcaya.

Newly selected Indigenous Peoples representative to the Sanggunian Jaime Dugao called on all those who know anything about the crime to tell what they know to the police. 


UNA loses Congress bet in Nueva Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – The elections are still about six months away but the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) here seemed to have lost the race for this province’s lone congressional district seat.

This, after the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Gov. Luisa Cuaresma has been “deemed not filed” by the Commission on Elections which said that she failed to have her signature in the logbook of the Comelec provincial office when she filed her COC.

Cuaresma said she would exhaust all legal remedies to contest the denial of her candidacy even as her camp has yet to receive an official copy of the decision. 

“Amid the crisis now besetting my candidacy, I reiterate my strong desire to serve as your representative in Congress. We assure you that this humble representation will not stop at anything in serving you to the best of her ability,” she said in a statement.

Now on her third and final gubernatorial term, Cuaresma is also bidding to become the province’s first congresswoman. She is up against long-time Rep. Carlos Padilla of the Nacionalista Party.   

The official campaign has yet to start about three months from now, Cuaresma said, “but our battle has just begun. We will fight to the end fair and square. You have asked us to run, and I am now running, you have asked us to win and we will win.”

Cuaresma rushed to the Comelec office here last Oct. 3 after aides notified her that she needed to be there since the authorization letter she gave to them for filing her COC was not notarized, a violation of Section 3 of the poll body’s Memorandum 9518. 

“Her personal presence at the Comelec office was not duly noted in the logbook, however. But (the provincial election supervisor) had said he was willing to testify that the governor was personally present there when she finalized her filing of candidacy,” said partymate Vice Gov. Jose Gambito, her anointed successor to the governorship.

Other candidates also attested that they were not made to sign a logbook which was the reason the Comelec nullified Cuaresma’s candidacy.

“I was the last one to file my certificate of candidacy but nobody told me to sign a logbook, not even during my earlier candidacies. What they showed was a list being signed by Comelec personnel of those who already filed their candidacy,” said re-electionist board member Theo Daniel. 

Another re-electionist board member, Filma Dulay, also attested that she was not made to sign any logbook. “What I remember is that the Comelec personnel were the ones writing down our names in a notebook,” she said.

According to lawyers here, Cuaresma’s candidacy being “deemed not filed” meant that UNA could not file a substitute candidate for her, as there no candidacy filed. If Cuaresma was disqualified, UNA could name a substitute. 

The Comelec order was signed by Chairman SixtoBrilliantes and five of the six commissioners.

Commissioner Grace Padaca, who hails from this region, failed to have her signature affixed in the order, as she was reportedly on “official business.”


PNP sets cases vs NPA rebs in Isabela ambush

By Charlie Lagasca

ILAGAN CITY – Police are readying multiple murder and frustrated murder charges against New People’s Army rebels for the death of seven soldiers and wounding of nine others during the Nov. 18 ambush in Barangay Mabbayad, Echague, Isabela.

Senior Supt. Franklin Mabanag, Isabela police director, said among those to be charged are a certain Ka MJ, spokesman of the NPA’s Benito Tesorio Command, which owned up to the ambush, and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison.

Mabanag said they are also looking for evidence to link officials of the Mabuwaya Foundation, a crocodile conservation foundation based in the Sierra Madre mountain range.

The group allegedly harbored foreigners seen with the guerrillas before the ambush.

Marites Gatan-Balabas, deputy director of the Mabuwaya Foundation, however, said they have nothing to do with the foreigners seen with insurgents.

She said they have foreigners doing crocodile research but not in the area where the encounter occurred.

The Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division confirmed the presence of three female foreigners along with some 30 NPA guerrillas, who were involved in the five-hour clash with soldiers.

“There are photographs showing them with the lawless armed group,” said Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the 5th ID’s civilian-military operations battalion.

Magundayao said details about the foreigners’ identity, group and activities remain unavailable. “We are still investigating why they were there,” he said.

“We will also be filing charges against (these foreigners) if they are proven to have participated in the firefight,” he added.


P.4 million reward up in Dagupan heist

BY Jennelyn Mondejar

DAGUPAN CITY – A P400,000 reward is being offered for the arrest of the robbers behind the P10-million heist at the BHF Gemline Pawnshop here last Nov. 10.   

Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., city police chief, told media here Tuesday the reward was jointly put up by Mayor Benjamin Lim and the pawnshop’s owner. 

Caramat said a member of the “Martilyo Gang” behind mall robberies in Metro Manila could be part of the group that broke into the pawnshop, as hammers were used to shatter the glass cabinet containing the pieces of jewelry.


Ilocos Sur gov’t retiree killed in 2nd ambuscade

BANTAY, Ilocos Sur – A second attempt on the life of a 71-year-old government retiree from Ilocos Sur succeeded after he was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men here Tuesday.

Police said the victim, Jaime Bueza, a former member of the Joint Legislative-Executive Tax Commission, and his wife were on their way home after attending an affair at St. Paul College here when they were ambushed.
Bueza’s wife survived the attack.

Police said Bueza survived a similar attempt on his life in the same place in Barangay Paing in January 2011.

He sustained several bullet wounds but his 19-year-old granddaughter Alyza Marie Soria, a student St. Paul College, was killed.

Two suspects have been charged in the first attack, a certain Jerry Corpuz and Pablito Busto, but both are still at large.

Politics is seen as one of the possible motives in the attacks against Bueza, although police said these could be linked to a supposed shooting incident involving him.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government has placed Ilocos Sur in its watch list of 15 provinces where violence could occur in the run-up to the 2013 midterm polls.


Traffic rules given more teeth in Baguio

By Julie G. Fianza
BAGUIO CITY –Here’s fair warning to wayward drivers and motorists! The city government will now strictly enforce traffic rules even as it denied requests for exemptions to the number coding policy and proposals for additional loading unloading areas.  

During the Transport and Traffic Management Committee meeting last week, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said council ordinances on traffic should be followed.

Issues about parking, loading, unloading and staging areas of buses, jeepneys, van, delivery trucks and motorcycle services were tackled with representatives of offices.

The non-parking policy in selected roadsides shall be enforced, the mayor said, as with the specific loading and unloading areas of some jeepney trunklines along their official routes.

Public Utility Jeepneys should follow their designated routes, and odd-even schemes as imposed by the city and their own organizations, it was learned. 
Staging, loading and unloading were also tackled as some out-of-town Public Utility Jeepney (PUJs) and van services requested for areas for their use.

This was denied as their franchise stated their route was outside of Baguio City.

Other public utility vehicles with the proper franchises were also advised to acquire pay parking areas within the city for their vehicles, the committee decided.

Several motorcycle and van services requesting exemption from the number coding scheme were also denied.

This despite one company having several vehicles’ license plates ending in same numbers thus being grounded, all on the same day.

The concerned entities were either advised to use alternative routes or pay the passage fee for their vehicle.

The creation of a Traffic and Transport Management Office was also tackled, as the initiative was broached during the “Visioning Workshop for Sustainable and Low Emissions Transport,” last month.

Representatives from public and non-government offices were supportive of the idea, it was known.  

The said move is to rationalize transport and traffic flow, for the reduction of congestion, emission and energy use from the transport sector in the city.

Domogan however reminded the body that the creation of an office entails funds.

Priority shall be given to this next budgeting time, the mayor told the group.

Applications for parking slots along Harrison road were also looked into.

Approvals for allowed slots were done, while the results of the re-measurement of some big parking lots are being awaited.

Representatives from the Planning Office, Traffic Management Board of the Baguio City Police Office, City Legal Office, Land Transportation Office, jeepney and van association services attended the meeting.


Ifugao girl scout found dead in creek

LAMUT, Ifugao – A nine-year-old Grade 4 pupil was found dead in a creek at the back of a school in this town where her group was camping out June 18, authorities said.

Reports said the victim, Honey Bumilac of Pindongan Elementary School in Kiangan town, could have slipped and fallen into the creek.

Authorities though were still probing other possible causes of her death.


Woman's decomposing body dumped along Kennon Road

TUBA, Benguet -- A woman's body, already in an advanced state of decomposition, was found in Twin Peaks Barangay, Camp 2, along Kennon Road in this town Wednesday morning.

Senior Insp. Marlo Evasco, Tuba police chief, said the stench of a decomposing human flesh led a villager to the exact location where the still unidentified woman was dumped.

Police crime scene investigators said that the woman could have been dead for more than three days already when dumped in the area.

Evasco said that the exact area where the body was dumped was uninhabited; hence negating any possibility that someone might have seen who dumped the body.

“We have not received any report or complaint of a missing female,” Evasco said.

 He said the cadaver was brought to the La Paz Funeral Homes.

Last month, two salvage victims were also dumped at an uninhabited location in Barangay Poyopoy along Marcos Highway also in Tuba town.



La Union village official shot dead

By Jerry Padilla

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – A barangay councilman in Bacnotan town was gunned down on Tuesday afternoon by motorcycle-riding men while seated at a waiting shed along the Diversion Road in Barangay Bangcusay here.

Senior Supt. Ramon Purugganan, La Union police director, said Carlos Balanon, 51, councilman of Barangay Burayuc, Bacnotan town, died on the spot from a bullet wound in the forehead from a .45-caliber pistol.


Pampanga PNP director questions poll hotspot tag

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – This province’s police director said Wednesday he has never recommended the inclusion of Pampanga as a “hotspot” in the 2013 elections.

Superintendent R’win Pagkalinawan was reacting to reports that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas had cited the province as one of 15 poll hotspots in the country.

“I did not submit any recommendation to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the declaration of Pampanga as high-risk area or be included (among) the election hotspots in the 2013 elections,” Pagkalinawan said in a radio interview.

He said there was no reason for such a move, adding that the crime rate in the province under the administration of Gov. Lilia Pineda has decreased.    

Pagkalinawan noted that from an average of 500 crime incidents monthly, the number has gone down to 200.

He said only Arayat town could be considered an election hotspot, as recent killings there appeared to be politically motivated. 

Other areas cited as poll hotspots were Nueva Ecija, Abra, Pangasinan, Cagayan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

In a recent meeting of the Central Luzon Peace and Order Council, Roxas, accompanied by Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate Eddie Panlilio and in the presence of Pineda and other governors in the region, ordered Pagkalinawan to stop jueteng operations in Pampanga.    

Pagkalinawan denied that the illegal numbers game existed in Pampanga, saying the legal small town lottery could have been mistaken for jueteng.


Peace, security council activated anew in Abra

BANGUED, Abra -- The Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC), first piloted in the 2010 polls, has been activated anew in this province.

The JPSCC was resurrected to map out plans for the Abra Week for Peace 2012 next month and the May 2013 elections.

Presided by Abra police director Senior Supt. Alexander Rafael,  the council will draw up a plan of action to be implemented immediately to establish two more Police Assistance Centers (Compacts), the deployment of their officers and men to provide security in the conduct of the Abra Week for Peace on December 3 – 7, and to improve the conduct of mobile checkpoints and police visibility in the province.

The plan is intended to mitigate situations that may arise in the perennially violence-troubled province.

The JPSCC will be establishing a Compact in Aguibo, Malibcong purportedly to secure the provincial road to remote Malibcong and the Abra-Kalinga Road and help the commuters in the area and those going to Kalinga, and another in the area of Danglas and La Paz to secure the Abra-Ilocos Norte Road.

The JPSCC formed during the 2010 elections, said Army Col. Eliseo Posadas, commanding officer of the 503rd Infantry Brigade,  showed the effectiveness of the partnership of the PNP and the AFP  in addressing the complex problems in Abra --- insurgency, the private armed-groups (PAGs), criminality particularly murder cases, and violations of the Presidential Decree 705 or Forestry Law.

In 2010, the province saw a diminished number of election-related violence.


Couple slain in Isabela gun rampage buried

SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija -- An elderly couple shot dead when a man went on a shooting rampage here Nov. 15 was buried last week. A farm worker was hurt during the shooting.

Senior Supt. Walter Castillejos, provincial police director, identified the couple as Leodegario Diaz, 60, and his live-in partner Mina Mallare, 55, who were both residents of Barangay Lawang Kupang.

Emelito Lacanilao, 48, a resident of Purok 7, Barangay Calabasa in Jaen, Nueva Ecija suffered a gunshot wound in the chin from a stray bullet.

Police said Lacanilao’s son, Joven, 27, who sought cover during the shooting was unhurt.

The still unidentified gunman barged inside the house of the couple while they were about to take their breakfast. 

Police said the gunman ordered the couple to stand up then peppered them with bullets.

Investigators are eyeing land dispute as possible motive for the attack.          


Cordillera cops arrest 3 more wanted persons

CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet  – Cops arrested three more wanted persons in the region last week.

 Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, regional police director, said combined law enforcers arrested the top 1 and 3 most wanted persons in the municipal level and another wanted person.

 La Trinidad police arrested the No. 3 top most wanted person for municipal level at Kings College of the Philippines here in Barangay Central Pico.

Magalong identified the suspect as John Dave Layosan Mangadchil, 20, Criminology student here.

He was arrested   for robbery with violence and intimidation of persons.

He had a recommended bail bond of P100,000 which was issued Sept. 21by Judge Marybelle Demot MariƱas, presiding  judge of the Regional Trial Court of Branch 8 in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Mangadchil was detained at the La Trinidad District Jail.   

In another incident, Tinoc, Ifugao police led by PI Rodolfo Fateg arrested Rey TiyapDukis, 22 of Luhong, Tinoc after a warrant was issued for his arrest by Judge Joseph P. Baguilat, presiding RTC judge in Lagawe, Ifugao for robbery and theft.

Baguilat recommended a P24,000  and P40,00000, respectively for his temporary liberty.

In Abra, Lagangilang town police led by SPO4 Felix EjadaAtmosfera, arrested a 46-year-old farmer for estafa on Nov. 13 at Nagbalitangan, Bucay, Abra.

Magalong identified the arrested individual as Pedro Baula, a resident of Barangay Pawa, Lagangilang.

Judge Redentor Valera, presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court in, Lagangilang, recommended bond of
P6,000 for his release.

 His arrest led to solution of the case filed by a certain Pacita Esalona Molina.


Slay suspect held by cops in Abra

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet– A 26-year old farmer wanted for three counts of murder, two counts of frustrated murder, and attempted murder was arrested by Tineg town cops following warrants of arrest issued against him. 

Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, regional police director, identified the  wanted individual as Bastian Mablay Benwagen, of Barangay Naglibacan, Tineg, who was arrested Nov. 14 at Sitio Vira Barangay Alaoa in this town.

Police led by Insp. Jaime K Bang-I informed Benwagen of arrest warrants issued against him by judges Corpus Alzate and Raphiel Alzate of the Regional Trial Court in Bangued, Abra.

According to Magalong, the series of crimes committed by Benwagen were unbailable which led to his detention at the Abra provincial jail.

He said the arrest of Benwagen was possible through the mediation of Mayor Edwin Crisologo of Tineg.


PNP awardee is new Bontoc police chief

>> Sunday, November 25, 2012

BONTOC, Mountain Province –Senior Insp. Benjamin Falangon Challoy was installed Nov. 16 as chief of police of this capital town  on order of provincial police director Senior Supt.William W. Viteno.

Challoy was awarded the “Medalyang Papuring Paglilingkod sa Luzon” in July 6, 2011.  
Challoy is a native of this town graduated B.S Criminology at the University of Cordilleras in 1997.           Upon graduation, he attended military trainings and seminars and had taken civil service eligibility tests for future promotions.

Records from his personal data sheet, said he attained the rank of Police Inspector in 1998 and was promoted as PO2 in 2005 then later in 2008, he was promoted as PO3.         

Since his assumption as a police officer, he had served the people of his hometown.

He was also detailed at the Philippine National Police regional Office.

In 2009, he left Bontoc and was assigned at Kalinga Police Provincial Office as police inspector. 

After his short stay, he was transferred to Pasil Municipal Police Station, then back to Mountain Province Police Provincial Office.

He later served as police inspector of Paracelis Municipal Police Station in the province.

He was Barlig town police chief before he was appointed to head Bontoc police.

While working as police officer, he attended military trainings and seminars and took other career courses that paved way for his instant promotions.

Challoy is one among five police officers recommended and duly confirmed by the National Police Commission for Mayor PascualSacgaca to choose from since it was made known that Chief Insp. Dyann B. Bangcawayan, former Bontoc police chief will be transferred somewhere in the region.

Bangcawayan was not retained as Bontoc police chief since she was overqualified for the position.

Though Bontoc is classified as second class municipality based on income, it has only less than 25,000 population that makes it Type “C” municipal police station requiring a chief of police of Type “C” MPS who should hold rank of senior inspector. 

Meanwhile, Challoy was the fifth person and the youngest installed COP of Bontoc during the term of  Sacgaca.

The mayor had chosen Challoy as COP because he believed in his ability to serve the people in his own hometown. -- Wabilyn M. Lomong-oy


Roads linking MP towns, Ilocos to boost tourism

By Francis Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Construction of roads to tourist sites in western Mountain Province which would link Ilocos Region are set to boost and tourism and economic activities in the province.  

A team from the Dept. of Tourism, National Economic and Development Authority of the Cordillera Administrative Region and the provincial Dept. of Public Works and Highways inspected and validated seven road networks that were proposed for funding in 2013 and 2014 by the DOT through DPWH on Nov. 19-22.

The team was composed of Sylvia Chinayog of DOT, Jerome Agaloos Sr. of NEDA and Roland Matias of DPWH.

They were assisted by staff of the Provincial Engineer and Provincial Tourism Office.

This is in consonance with the vision of President Benigno Aquino and implementation of Republic Act  9593, known as Tourism Act of 2009 to boost tourism development nationwide.

The tourism roads are under the DOT-DPWH convergence project of the tourism access program.

These are: Sagada-Besao-Tadian, Sabangan-Sagada, Mabaay-Abatan-Tadian, Guinzadan-Cagubatan, Bontoc-Mainit, Bontoc-Maligcong and Dantay-Sagada.    

In Cagubatan, Tadian mayor Anthony Wooden discussed and showed the team some of the tourist destinations such as the enchanted eel, Gawaan lake, which is about 1.5 ha., Mount Mogao (Mt. Clitoris) that is believed to have a cave below it and rice terraces.

Besao mayor Wellington Pooten and vice Harry Baliaga were thankful of the proposed concreting of the Sagada-Besao-Tadian road because of its great impact on tourism and economic development of the people of Besao and its nearby municipalities and parts of Ilocos province. 

Mayor EdwardoLatawan of Sagada appreciated the national government particularly DOT for its continuing support to the development of the famous tourist town of Sagada.

On the other hand vice mayor Richard Yodong accompanied the team to the proposed “controversial” Sabanga-Sagada road.

Yodong related to the team the need of more funds because the proposed road needs bridge construction between barangay Taccong and the road end to other side near the Balangagan cave.

Mountain Province governor Leonard Mayaen conveyed his gratitude to the regional directors and secretaries of DOT, NEDA and DPWH for prioritizing  development of roads to several tourist destinations in Mountain Province.

Mayaen said the development being extended by the national government will propel economic development in the province especially that tourism is booming in the rural areas, not only nationwide but worldwide as well.


P2.6-B solar plant to rise in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY– A P2.6-billion solar power plant will be constructed here by a Korean developer next year.

The Ilocos Norte government has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Mirae Asia Energy Corp. (MAEC) last year for the establishment of a 20-megawatt photovoltaic power plant in Currimao town.

Gov. Imee Marcos and MAEC officials led by its chief executive officer Bae Jong Soo presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the project in Barangay Paguludan recently. 

Lito Badua, MAEC vice president for engineering in Asia, said the plant would be built on sand dunes and cover an area of 60 hectares.

Badua said the solar plant would generate 30 million kilowatts of electricity per hour.

“It’s clean. There’s no emission at all and since we’re not using fuel, it’s relatively cheap,” he said.

Marcos is upbeat that the project, apart from generating employment for her constituents, will boost local tourism and usher in business activities and economic benefits for the province. 

Ilocos Norte is not new to the use of renewable energy which began in the 1980s when Pagudpud town established the five-megawatt Agua Grande mini-hydro power plant.

In 2005, former governor Ferdinand Marcos Jr. put up  25-megawatt energy wind turbines or windmills in Bangui town.

The Currimao solar power plant is expected be completed on May 14, 2014.


Ifugao school board okays P19M budget

By Marcelo B. Lihgawon

LAMUT, Ifugao -- The second Special Education Fund (SEF) supplemental budget was  approved recently to improve education programs.

 Officials of the  provincial school board (PSB) led by Gov. Eugene Balitang unanimously approved the P19,562,186.43 SEF during a meeting of the PSB.

The amount was constituted from the one percent additional real property tax paid by SN/Aboitiz Power (SNAP) Inc. to the provincial government after the court ruled last July on the basis of agreement entered into between and among the provincial local government unit of Ifugao and Isabela.

Furthermore, the approved amount will cover the Department of Education (DepEd) programs and activities, infrastructure projects and other expenditures in pursuit of quality education.

Infrastructure component will focus on the repairs and improvement of different schools facilities provincewide.

Earlier, the PSB had approved the amount of P6.752-million as SEF annual budget for the salaries and wages of mobile teachers from January to March and July to December 2012 and for the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) meet. 


2 bridges done in Kalinga to link Abra, Mt. Province

By Geraldine G. Dumallig

TABUK, CITY, Kalinga – Two of the 11 bridge projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways Kalinga Engineering District this year were completed while others are being constructed.

Based on the report gathered from DPWH-KED Construction Section, completed were replacement of the P14.49 million Maatop Bridge along the Kalinga-Abra Road and the replacement of the P9 million Mamaga Bridge along the Mt. Province boundary-Calanan-Pinukpuk- Abbut road.

As of press time, reported as 98 percent completed were replacements of the Gadday Bridge (P12.6M), Saleng Bridge (P9.14M), Matacob Bridge (P17.28M), and the Oling Bridge (P17.55M).

Other on-going bridges include the Limood Bridge amounting to P11.79M, Ibong Bridge(P17.55M), Malcagao Bridge(P14.89M), and the  Biyao Bridge(P20.21M), all located along the Kalinga –Abra Road.
The contract for the  bridge in Ableg, Pasil worth P8.46M  was terminated by the agency. Sources also say there is  a pending issue on road right of way with land owners.
Engineer  Teodoro Owek of DPWH-KED, Construction Section Chief, said most of the projects started January this year and targeted to be finished  before the year ends. However, some may not be completed on time  as  some  contractors have  requested for  extension which were filed for approval by the agency.

Through the initiative of Congressman Manuel Agyao, DPWH-KED has received at least P1 billion for the construction of  roads and bridges in the province  this year. 


PhilHealth-Cordillera pays P777.86 M member benefits

By Carlito C. Dar

BAGUIO CITY -- The PhilHealth Regional Office – Cordillera reported a surplus in members benefit payments over their collection for the first three quarters of 2012.

PhRO-CAR Chief Social Insurance Officer Catalina Adawey, in a recent media forum, reported that as of September 30, 2012, the office has a total benefit payments of P777,865,031.58 for their members all over the region against their collection of P399,268,127.53.

Adawey said this shows that with PhilHealth president and CEO Dr. Eduardo Banzon’s leadership, the members’ health care are their priorities as embodied in their slogan, “Bawat Pilipino Miyembro, Bawat Miyembro Protektado, Kalusugan natin sigurado”. 

PhRO-CAR now has a total membership of 516,452 where 56,802 are government employees,119,144 are private sector workers, 113,388 are Individually Paying Members, 153,805 are sponsored members, 58,725 are Overseas Filipino Workers and 14,588 are Lifetime members.

As PhilHealth is gearing towards Universal Health Coverage new and more enhanced health benefit packages are continuously being given to its 29 million family members, which is equivalent to about 82 million individual beneficiaries or around 86 percent of the country’s population.

Adawey shared that under Banzon, PhilHealth has rolled-out the case rate system, initially to 23 medical and surgical cases and the No Balance Billing for their sponsored members when hospitalized in PhilHealth- beds in all government hospitals.

There is also the Animal Bite Treatment Package which defrays the cost of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment and the Leptospirosis Benefit Package for moderate leptospirosis that is requiring admission with a case rate payment of P11,000.

In the middle of this year, Banzon with President Benigno Aquino III and Health Secretary Enrique Ona launched the ‘Z benefit’, the newest package of benefits that primarily address catasthropic cases, which initially include Childhood Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, breast and prostate cancer and kidney transplant. Adawey also shared that cardiac bypass and prosthesis are also set to be included in the Z package.

To ensure that government health care facilities are fully equipped to provide the best health care services to PhilHealth members, they have operationalize the Global Budget Payment Program (GBPP).

“These are just among the new and enhanced packages that PhilHealth has for its members and to ensure that members can properly avail of such benefits, there are also nurses hired and assigned in various hospitals nationwide under the PhilHealth CARES (Customer Assistance, Relations and Empowerment Staff) project to assist them”, Adawey added. 


3 foreigners with NPAs in clash still unknown

ECHAGUE, Isabela – Authorities are still trying to  identity three foreigners reportedly seen with New People’s Army rebels in the Nov. 17 clash with government troops in a remote village here  which left seven soldiers and five guerrillas dead.

Sources said civilians saw two Caucasians tagging along with some 30 rebels during the five-hour running gun battle with elements of the Army’s 502nd Infantry Brigade in Mabbayad village.

On Tuesday, source said the three foreigners reportedly seen with communist rebels during the clash were Dutch students.   

The Dutch women were said to be conducting a study on the crocodile conservation efforts of the Isabela-based Mabuwaya Foundation.

The source said one of the foreigners was among the 12 fatalities in the five-hour encounter between the rebels and members of the Reconnaissance Company of the Army’s 502nd Infantry Brigade (IB) in Echague’s Mabbayad village.

Mabuwaya, which is affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund, is a non-government group working for the conservation of the Philippine crocodiles. 

The foundation has a crocodile breeding center in San Mariano town, and a crocodile sanctuary in the wilds of the San Mariano-Divilacan area.  

But Marites Gatan-Balabas, deputy director of the Mabuwaya Foundation, denied having foreigners in their group. “Aside from that, our students are in  Maconacon and Divilacan (Isabela coastal towns),” she said.  

“We receive reports about the presence of foreigners tagging along with the rebels during the encounter. But we could not ascertain if they were indeed with the lawless group or just happened to be there,” Col. Loreto Magundayao, spokesman for  the Gamu, Isabela-based Army’s 5th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over the 502nd IB, said.

“Maybe they were there not necessarily with the lawless group. Maybe they just happened to be there when the encounter occurred,” said Magundayao.

The military, according to reports, is still investigating this, especially since one of the foreigners was said to be among the fatalities in the clash, which erupted at around 4:30 a.m. at the boundary of Echague and San Mariano towns.

The seven soldiers slain in the encounter were identified as 2Lt. Jimnah Torrepalma, Sgt. Eduardo Arguero, Cpl. Jondy Larebersole, and Pfcs. Joemar Miguel, Jerold Mina, Albert Lagua, and Raul Alunday.

Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the 5th Infantry Division’s civil-military operations battalion, said six of the soldiers were killed on the spot while Alunday died while being treated at a military hospital
Seven other soldiers, among them Pfc. Robert Samut, are still undergoing treatment for gunshot wounds.

All of them belong to the 502nd Infantry Brigade’s Reconnaissance Company based in Isabela’s Jones town, which is under the jurisdiction of the 5th ID.

According to reports, at least five NPA rebels were killed and at least eight others were wounded in the encounter.

The Army said the figures were based on field reports, as no bodies of the slain guerrillas were recovered.

“The encounter took place while our troops were conducting security operations to ensure the safe implementation of all impending national government projects in the area. They were fired upon by the lawless group,” Magundayao said.

Government forces earlier had engaged in pre-dawn skirmishes with the insurgents along the foothills of the Sierra Madre ranges.

The rebels, believed to belong to the NPA’s Benito Tesorio Command based here, alleged that they seized three machine guns, four M-16 Armalite rifles, and an M-16 baby Armalite from the government side.

The encounter was the worst setback for the Army in Northern Luzon since last April’s ambush-slay by NPA guerrillas of 11 members of the 85th Infantry Battalion in Tinoc, Ifugao. A female civilian was also slain in the attack.


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