Developer refuses to vacate John Hay despite court order

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CjhDevco told: Respect court decision 

BAGUIO CITY -- The developer of Camp John Hay has refused to follow an eviction order issued by Regional Trial Court here in an arbitration case against the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

Alfredo Yñiguez III, executive vice president of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo), said they could not be evicted unless BCDA pays them P1.42 billion in rental they had paid over the years, as ordered by the court.

This, even as BCDA officials said the government agency has deposited April 17 the P1.42 billion refund for the evicted CJHDevco at the Development Bank of the Philippines and constituted it as escrow funds in favor of the Baguio RTC Branch 6.

Meanwhile, Yñiguez said the notice to vacate issued by Judge Cecilia Archog on April 14 does not cover third party lessees and locators, who have been abiding by their contracts.

In a letter to the partners of Camp John Hay last April 21 or a day after the CJHDevCo received a copy of the writ of execution and the notice to vacate, Yñiguez said they are ready, willing and able to vacate the premises as soon as they would receive actual payment from BCDA.

The court reportedly made it clear that the writ of execution must be implemented simultaneously with the payment.

This, as locators and businesses want the government to make transition inside Camp John Hay as orderly as possible and for CJHDevCoto respect the court’s decision.

This is the general sentiment of business people in this special economic zone, according to the head of the John Hay Business Club (JHBC).

Ma. Teresa Pantaleon, president of the JHBC, said her group wants the BCDA to ensure an orderly transition and for CJHDevco to respect the court order. 

JHBC members include hotels like Manor and Le Monet, the Ayala Technohub, homeowners, service providers, and several commercial establishments.

“The court’s notice is good for everyone to move forward but we want normalcy and a peaceful transition,” Pantaleon said.

On April 20 the Office of the Ex-Officio Sheriff of the First Judicial Region, Branch 6 of the Regional Trial Court in Baguio City served a notice against CJHDevCo and “all persons claiming rights under them” to vacate the premises of Camp John Hay. 

The Notice to Vacate also ordered CJHDevCo to promptly deliver the leased property, inclusive of all new constructions and permanent improvements, to the BCDA within 30 days upon receipt of the said notice.

The notice also read: “Failure on your part to voluntarily vacate the subject premises within the given period, the Office of the City Sheriff will enforce the Writ of Execution in accordance with the rules prescribed by law."

“John Hay has so much potential and (development efforts) will be better without CJHDevco,” Pantaleon said. 

The 42-year old business and civic leader cited the unfortunate experience of the BCDA with CJHDevco adding that if only government had the right business partners to deal with, “John Hay would have been a much better place (for investments) than it is right now.”

Pantaleon said the business club will respect the decision of the court as she urged “well-meaning CJHDevco officials to just respect the court order.”

The court’s notice of eviction is expected to be a prelude to finally close the long-running legal tussle between CJHDevCo and the BCDA.

“It is important that we are united and we want a smooth transition,” Pantaleon said and cited that some sublessees who entered into original contracts with the departing CJHDevco might be facing legal problems.
“I am sure JHMC (John Hay Management Corporation) will take care of them,” Pantaleon said. 

JHMC is a subsidiary of the BCDA and is tasked to oversee the development of the former US military camp in Baguio City.

A number of sublessees and sublocators were allegedly duped by CJHDevco to enter into lease contracts for 50 years in spite of the latter’s lease agreement with the BCDA for only 25 years. 

The BCDA claimed that CJHDevco failed to disclose these transactions in spite of the government’s repeated demand for transparency.

Earlier, the BCDA through its president and CEO ArnelPaciano Casanova said that the sublessees are part of the notice to vacate and, therefore, CJHDevCo should be held liable to these sublessees for damages.

"Sublessees should lay claim to the P1.4 billion that BCDA will be returning to CJHDevCo as part of the Writ of Execution," Casanova said.

Pantaleon, on the other hand, said unlike commercial establishments with yearly contracts, most of those affected by contracts tainted with irregularities are hotel residents or homeowners or buyers of log homes. 

“Tens of millions of hard earned money by some of these buyers were invested for their vacation place or retirement home,” Pantaleon said and expressed concern that some of these buyers who originally dealt with CJHDevco will be affected by the eviction notice.

“The JHMC Help Desk is also a good thing,” she said referring to the government’s support center inside Camp John Hay for sublocators and sublessees which will eventually demand compensation from CJHDevco for the unfinished portion of their contracts.

Pantaleon, who owns a restaurant along John Hay’s commercial complex, added the club has commissioned the services of third party lawyers to help club members who might be facing legal issues. 

According to Pantaleon, JHMC is set to call the next quarterly meeting of all John Hay locators within the month to discuss, among other issues, the court’s recent eviction notice to CJHDevco.

“JHMC has been very transparent, but with CJHDevco, we never had any meetings,” Pantaleon said.

She added that the club is looking for more family-oriented businesses to enter John Hay.  “We wish to have more commercial areas developed,” she said adding that a skating rink, a batting range, bowling alleys, and additional amusement parks are some of the proposed projects with JHMC.

“We’d like to involve the people of Baguio also and to revive the old time when Americans maintained sports and recreation facilities,” she added. 

Pantaleon said the club’s successful transport mobility project inside John Hay, where cabs are readily available to the commuting public for increased number of visits, paved the way for their support to the city-based Walk Happy Baguio in which a huge parking terminal is allocated for motorists to encourage walking around the city and to lessen noise and air pollution. 

The group is also working for the issuance of a Camp-wide discount card to encourage more tourists to visit John Hay’s commercial areas.

The business club is confident that in the wake of CJHDevco’s eviction, more locators will come and comfortably deal with government without the unnecessary strain of a legal dispute. – With a report from Roy Victor R. Rosales


Cordillera NPA leader surrenders in La Union

CAMP DIEGO SILANG, La Union – A suspected New People’s Army leader surrendered to authorities here Tuesday.

The surrender of the man identified only as Ka Omar, 33, came following a series of negotiations conducted by police and military agents and local officials.

Omar was picked up in Tabuk City in Kalinga by a team led by Supt. Eduardo Danguecan, chief of the La Union police intelligence unit.

He brought with him his firearm, an M14 Armalite.

Omar joined the communist movement in 1997 and was appointed assistant team leader of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang Guerrilla operating in the Cordillera, according to Senior Supt. Ange-lito Dumangeng, La Union police director.

Dumangeng said Omar decided to leave the movement because of the difficult life in the mountains.

The rebel-returnee was met by Abono party-list Rep. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, who assured him of his security. 

Ortega hailed Omar for deciding to yield in La Union, noting it affirmed the province’s peace and order situation.


New La Trinidad veggie trade center open soon

By Susan Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Trading Post here, long been the site where vegetables bound for Manila and urban areas of the country are sold or traded may soon cease operations with the construction of multi-million peso Agri-Pinoy Trading Center located at Benguet State University.  

With this, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala sought commitment of farmers to do business at the APTG particularly the Benguet Farmers’ Marketing Coop.

Alcala , guest speaker in the 4th General Assembly of the BFMC at the trading center, urged farmer-coop members to support the trading center which will ultimately benefit them and uplift their way of living.

Designed to follow the value chain system approach from production, processing, value-adding and marketing, it is within five-hectare land of Strawberry Field in Barangay Betag here.

DA Assistant Secretary Leandro Gazmin said its official opening will still be discussed by the BAPTC as delay was due to construction problems.

A pilot test within the month will take place, he added. It was earlier announced that the new vegetable trading center will operate first quarter this year.

Alcala said he will follow up with the Department of Public Works and Highways hastening road loop construction around the complex in time for center’s opening.

With high hopes, he said the trading center will prosper if farmers will extend their support given the high volume produced among farmers ranging from 1,200 metric tons to 1,500 metric tons and variety of agricultural produce.

He shared the Sariaya Bagsakan Center experience in Quezon province which became an excellent trade center over the years. It started with mere three metric tons per day until the volume increased yearly now reaching 150 metric tons per day.

The unity of farmers and traders since its humble beginnings was the driving force that led to the success of the center, he said.

Alcala who frequently visits and oversees the progress of the construction here, said consultations will be held more often to draw ideas from farmers for systematic trading.

He said government is there to help facilitate operations for it to succeed.

“There is no rule of thumb in running the trading post and there are different ways of doing it, he said. “We have to adjust to times and we have to adjust to the realities of trading.”

A concern was raised by a farmer from Mankayan town on impact of entry of agricultural commodities from other countries with full implementation of ASEAN free trade agreement.

Alcala said the government’s safety net is to ensure that importers possess necessary phytosanitary permit.

The secretary urged farmers to undergo training on sound aricultural practices for them to be prepared especially if the province will be into export.

He committed to fund trainings of farmers on GAP.

Alcala said of laboratory that determines the allowable limit of pesticides in the produce would be set up and violators who use excessive pesticides would be sanctioned.

On the inclusion of organic agriculture produce, Alcala urged La Trinidad Organic Practitioners to submit proposals to board of directors of BAPTC.

He also committed to provide capital for organic composting including needed equipment. 


Grenade hanging from tree wounds 3 soldiers

CAMP QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur — A grenade booby-trapped from a branch of a tree on the roadside exploded and wounded three soldiers traveling in a military through Barangay Bacsayan, Sta. Cruz town, this province April 18.

Police identified the wounded as Master Sergeant Narciso Aromin, 48; Technical Sgt. Carlos Luna, 47; and Private First Class (Pfc) Jerwin Alvarez, all members of the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion (81IB) based in Barangay Bugbuga in Sta. Cruz.

It was reported that the victims were aboard a KM 250 truck moving along the road in Barangay Bacsayan when a hand grenade hanging from the branch of an Ipil-ipil tree exploded when their vehicle passed by it.

The injured soldiers were rushed to a hospital in Candon City for their treatment.

Both Senior Supt. Nestor Felix, Police Provincial Office director, and Lieutenant Colonel Jason Bajet, 81IB commander, believe the explosion was the handiwork of remnants of the New People’s Army operating in the Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur (AMPIS) area

Meanwhile, the Provincial Peace and Order Council, chaired by Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, called for an emergency meeting this week to tackle the security incident.


DepEd official dies in road mishap

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union -- An official of the Department of Education died after she was hit by a speeding van in Barangay Pagdalagan here April 16.

Angelita Marie Ballagay, 56, was crossing Quezon Avenue at 4:55 a.m. when she was struck by a Toyota Hi-Ace van driven by Arturo Valdez, 50, of Candon, Ilocos Sur.

Ballagay, an education supervisor in La Union, was declared dead on arrival at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center.


‘La Presa’ turns into tourists’ ‘nightmare’

By Jayma Doraiswamy

TUBA, Benguet – The fictional Sitio La Presa here at Mt. Cabuyao, featured in ABS-CBN’s television series “Forevermore” had become an instant tourist destination in this once sleepy rustic town.

It has brought livelihood for some locals, but then, most small-scale business persons from nearby Baguio City are reportedly now lording it over here and are charging tourists and visitors usurious prices for their products.

Department of Trade and Industry officials said strawberries are sold as high as P700 per kilo while parking had become a burden with expensive  entrance and parking fees.

DTI Consumer Welfare and protection division head Samuel Gallardo, in an interview, confirmed reports, although he said no formal complaint had been filed in their office.

Gallardo, a lawyer, urged tourists to file complaints as their rights are being abused by vendors.

For complaints related to agricultural products, he said complaints may be filed with the Department of Agriculture.

For parking and entrance fees, complaints could be filed with local government of Tuba, he said.

Gallardo said the public as consumers have responsibility to be mindful of their situation, if they are being taken advantage of.

Meantime, Gallardo  bared that  based on their monitoring, prices of basic commodities in Baguio and Benguet remain stable. 


Ousted Tuguegarao mayor reinstated

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The mayor of this city, who was ousted by the Office of the Ombudsman eight months ago, reclaimed his post Wednesday.

Mayor Jefferson Soriano, a former police general, was reinstated by the Court of Appeals.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, said Soriano was only guilty of simple misconduct.

The CA modified the penalty to three months suspension.

The ombudsman ousted Soriano last year for grave abuse of authority after he authorized the holding of a fair without the city council’s permission.

The charges against the mayor were filed by Councilor Maila Ting, daughter of former mayor Delfin Ting, whom Soriano defeated in the 2013 elections.

Aside from reinstatement, the CA restored Soriano’s unclaimed salaries and benefits.

Vice Mayor Engelbert Caronan replaced Soriano during his ouster.


Private developer taps Chico canal for power

By Peter Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga- - Another breakthrough in energy development is in the making with ongoing construction of a 1MW power capacity hydroelectric project here.

DPJ Engineers & Consultants (DPJEngrs) is developer of the project that  aims to harness for power generation  water of Bulanao Irrigation Canal through a 22 meter-high drop from the main canal of the Upper Chico River Irrigation System here.

The project has six key components and eight predevelopment activities  are already completed.

Engineer Daniel Peckley Jr. of DPJEngrs  said if all available flow is used for power generation, the capacity shall be 1,000kW and annual energy production can reach around 5.77Million kWh.

To finance the construction, DPJ Engrs obtained a loan from United Coconut Planters Bank under the risk-sharing facility of LGU Guarantee Corp.  The total project cost is around PP109.55 million, funded through 63% equity and 37% debt.

DPJ Engrs signed with the Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative an energy supply contract providing for a 15-year energy supply agreement.

The energy that will be generated by the Bulanao Minihydropower Plant goes directly to KAELCO’s distribution system and is cheaper by around PhP1.50/kWh, Peckley said.

He said KAELCO and its customers shall not have the burden of paying fees, losses and VAT associated with transmission, thus the savings; and the capacity of the minihydropower plant, which is at 1000kW, is significantly lower than the base load of KAELCO, which is hovering at around 2,500kW.


Have you reached 100? LT giving cash to centenarians

By Susan C. Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Attention, residents here who reached the age of 100 -- the local government unit here pays tribute to its residents  blessed with long  and healthy life.

Only a few reach the age of 100 years or more, thus the Sangguniang  Bayan saw it fitting to recognize  and reward these  elderly citizens   through  Municipal  Ordinance No. 16-2014 entitled “Tribute to Centenarians of La Trinidad”.

Penned by Councilors Horacio Ramos and Estrella Adeban,  the ordinance  grants  to qualified  centenarians rewards  of  P10,000 one time cash incentive, P5,000 annual medical assistance, and P10,000 funeral benefit, in case of death.

 To qualify, the elderly citizen must be at least 100 years old  prior to the effectivity of the ordinance; bonafide resident of the town for at least 10 years with barangay certificate of confirmation and  a registered voter of the town. 

He or she should present certified true copy of birth certificate/marriage certificate, and valid document attesting the true birth date or age.

The appropriate awards and recognition will be presented during the  Senior Citizens Month celebration every October. 


Ifugao scouter receives Disney Channel’s Isabella Award

By Marcelo B. Lihgawon

ALFONSO LISTA, Ifugao - - A Junior Girl Scout (GSP) from this corn- producing municipality  recently received Disney Channel’s Isabella Award for exemplary performance in scouting.

Aika Mae Aquimba from Pinto Elementary School here  was bestowed the award along with  72  other awardees nationwide, said Fely Gumangan of GSP -Ifugao council.

The Isabella Award is named after Disney Channel’s character Isabella from the animated television show “Phineas and Ferb,” Isabella Garcia-Shapiro is a Girl Scout who leads Fireside Girl Scout Troop 46231.

She always finds innovative ways to help her friends, Phineas and Ferb, in their adventures. She has a positive and charming personality, which are the characteristics of Junior Girl Scouts.

Aquimba was recommended by her troop leader for the award for her active participation in the year-round troop, council and regional activities as evidenced by write-ups and recommendations submitted to the GSP national headquarters, according to Gumangan.

In a related development, Aquimba and fellow junior scouters and school mates Sai Shanley Madamba,  Riza Mae Baodilla, attended the International Goodwill Day celebration at the GSP headquarters in Manila.

The three Ifugao scouters are among the 93 participants from Central, Northern and Southern Luzon regions of the Girl Scouting Movement.


Transport of drugs easier with expressways: PDEA

By Redjie Cawis and Jean Samillano

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The opening of roads brings development, but  there is also downside  that may have serious repercussions.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – Cordillera regional director Ronald Allan Ricardo said transport of drugs particularly shabu and marijuana going in and out of the Cordillera  region  was made easier through expressways.

Dati dumadaan ang mga suppliers sa Manila North Road or the Mac Arthur Highway  peron gayon napabilis na ang travel more through NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway)and TPLEX(Tarlac- Pangasinan Expressway) from Manila going to the provinces sa Cordillera at sa iba pang lugar,”  Ricardo told the Regional Peace and Order Council.

Drug peddlers, he said, have faster access to  drugs particularly shabu which are distributed in Cordileta provinces in same manner marijuana from  the provinces of Benguet, Kalinga and Mountain Province are also  transported to Manila and other areas in the lowlands easier.

Shabu, according to Ricardo, is now the number one drug of choice in the Cordillera. There is reportedly no shabu manufacturing facility in the region so supplies  come from  other areas.

“Traffickers of shabu and marijuana products are more organized now and most employ new means in transporting drugs,” he added..

Ricardo said they were not saying development of roads was  bad. “It’s just roads made easier  access  of  drugs in and out  of the  region and  creating  additional work for  PDEA particularly on intelligence gathering.

Meanwhile, the PDEA disclosed a total of 114 barangays in the Cordillera were drug-affected.

PDEA  is reportedly on lookout for  194 drug personalities in the region.


Waste segregation strict in Ifugao town; fines set

By Daniel Codamon

KIANGAN, Ifugao --   Waste segregation is now being strictly implemented in this town to made this town “clean and green,”

The Municipal Ecological Solid Waste Management Office is now overseeing waste segregation by households following conduct of  trainings  and information drives in this town known as site where Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army surrendered to American and Filipino soldiers ending World War 2.

The policy involves segregation of the households of residual, recyclable, biodegradable and special wastes. Unsegregated wastes will not be collected.

Collection schedules have been set and dropping centers where the garbage are collected have been identified in the four barangays  . Garbage should be brought out only to dropping centers on set schedules to avoid penalties.

Five dropping centers were set in Barangay Poblacion three each at barangays Ambabag,  Pindongan and  Tuplac.

Collection time was set at 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays for residual waste and Thursdays for recyclable  and special wastes.

There is no collection for biodegradable wastes  as these should be composed at home.

The MESWMO informed the households that they should bring out their garbage to their respective dropping centers at 7 to 8 a.m. for collection. Residual waste include styro-foams, cigarette butts, worn out plastic sacks, dirt from sweepings, worn out rags, sanitary napkins, disposal diapers, barber or parlor shop waste, plastic straws, household medicine bottles, broken ceramic, colored broken glass and coco fiber from cushions.

Recyclable waste include dry sando bags/junk food/candy wrappers, dry papers, plastic materials, tin and aluminum cans, iron steel, glass bottles, plastic bottle cap toner cartridges, PVC pipes, car batteries, broken TV set and home appliances and broken furniture.

Special waste include paint/thinner containers, spray canisters, household batteries, pharmaceutical waste like medicine foils, expired medicines, expired cosmetics, broken tiles/lamps, book cases, beds and cushions, rubber tires and oil filters.

The municipal government collects a P50 a month garbage fee from every household to shoulder cost of garbage collection and hauling of waste materials to dumpsite.

This is also in support to the long time project of the municipal government called “Kiangan An Malini Ya Maphod” or KAYAM 24/7 which means “Kiangan Always Clean and Good 24 Hours”.


Malnutrition high in 5 Mt Prov towns

>> Monday, April 27, 2015

By Juliet Saley

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Malnutrition is alarmingly high in the province particularly towns of Paracelis, Besao, Sadanga, Natonin and Barlig.

The Provincial Council for the Protection of Children bared this in a resolution, saying it was seeking help of Provincial Health Board and the Provincial Nutrition Council in addressing the malnutrition problem in the province.

Among causes of malnutrition, the PCPC said, were poor child health and nutrition care due to inadequate education/knowledge on proper health and nutrition care and poor socio-economic status.

The PCPC said this was because families had more children forcing mothers to till farms days just after giving birth.

It cited need for early introduction of complementary feeding considering some parents were working abroad or separated, teenage mothers or parents were going back to school or immature or had chronic or inborn illness.

Also cited as causes were influence of environment/change in lifestyle of  people like availability of junk, salty and fatty foods  and presence of video games, television, high tech gadgets which led to limited physical activities.

The PCPC chaired by Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen asked PHB and PNC to address malnutrition through proper planning with concerned agencies. 


Baguio to fix garbage problem through ‘negotiated contracts’

By Aileen P. Refuerzo and Paul Rillorta 

BAGUIO CITY – Negotiated bidding. This will be the new tack in solving this city’s trash problem, according to city general services officer Romeo Concio of the City Solid Waste Management Board.

Concio said the city is of “bidding out through negotiated procurement” the waste analysis and characterization system (WACS), which will serve as basis of all solid waste projects in the city and even the ten-year solid waste management plan.

Waste program implementors here are working on the main requirement to jumpstart the Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS), a multi-strategy program for the long-term solution of the city’s garbage woes.

Concio said the WACS contains primary data needed to determine the viability of solid waste projects and thus is essential to the implementation of the ISWMS.

Concio added regular biddings for the WACS failed so the city will undertake the negotiated mode.

Concio also said the CSWMB has withdrawn the proposed terms of reference for the engineered sanitary landfill (ESL) earlier submitted to the city council for approval deciding to pursue the project alongside the other component strategies of the ISWMS.

The board earlier thought of advancing the implementation of the ESL as an immediate solution for the city to stop hauling its waste to outside facilities but the city council balked at the piecemeal pursuit of the ISWMS and questioned some of the terms including the cost and the life span of the proposed facility.

Conciosaid the ESL is intended only as a support facility or as a stop-gap waste strategy while the city is still constructing the waste-to-energy technology which is the main strategy of the ISWMS thus they did not plan for a larger facility with a longer life span.

“In fact, if we can help it we really do not want to construct an ESL because of its effect on the environment.  Climate change program advocates are now wary of the effect of the methane gas being emitted by the ESL facilities that there is now a pending proposal at the United Nations to ban these facilities,” Concio said.  

Mayor Mauricio Domogan when told of the council’s question on the short life span of the proposed ESL said, “To me, the shorter the lifespan is, the better for the city because even the World Health Organization is now discouraging ESL because of their seepage underground.  Until now, there is no concrete finding on their long-term effect to the environment,” he said.   

The city’s ISWMS consists of several waste management strategies intended for long-term management of the city’s wastes among which a waste-to-energy technology, a central material recovery facility, anaerobic digester and health care waste treatment facility, the Environmental Recycling System (ERS) machines and the ESL “if needed.”

The city is eyeing its 130-hectare property reserved for the public need at Mt. Sto. Tomas to house the ISWMS which is now the subject of feasibility study. 

The city council last Monday reiterated an earlier request to the city assessor’s office to plot the area on its projection or to “tax map” the same to protect it from land speculation.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr. recalled an approved resolution in 2010 to protect the said land located at Barangays Camp 7, Bakakeng Norte, Sto. Tomas  Proper and Sto. Tomas School Area has been identified for multi-land use specifically for engineered sanitary landfill, housing, government office and facility sites among others. 

He said that in the 2010 resolution, it was noted that the lot has been identified by the City Land Needs Identification and Survey Committee for multi-land use specifically for engineered sanitary landfill, housing, government office and facility sites among others.

The body also approved Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda’s move to ask the city planning and development office to submit a comprehensive plan for multi-purpose use within 15 days. 


5 die in Quirino road accident; 20 injured

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Five persons died while at least 20 others were injured when their truck rolled over in Maddela town in Quirino province on Monday.

Juanita Rapada, NidaOrio, Kimberly Camacho and Patrick Camacho died at the scene while nurse Novilyn Rapada was declared dead on arrival in a hospital, town police chief Senior Inspector Victoriano Yarcia said.

The victims were with their 30 relatives on their way to a beach in Aurora province when they figured in an accident in Barangay Ysmael.

Reports said the truck developed engine trouble, causing driver Benjamin Amigo to lose control of the wheel.


Arrogant, dishonest city employees warned

By Danny Killip

BAGUIO CITY - The Civil Service Commission-Cordillera Administrative Region, the agency overseeing government personnel, warned city employees to treat taxpayers and clients with due respect and care or face sanctions.

This is in view of increasing number of complaints reaching the Commission against government employees nationwide mostly for arrogance, dishonesty, reporting to work under the influence of liquor, loafing and receiving “juicy gratitude” among others.

According to Carlota Pauly of the CSC-CAR, just a simple violation of the civil service law, rules and regulation can result to suspension or dismissal of a government employee and in fact, many government employees have been suspended or dismissed after due process because of these complaints.

She said clients are now vigilant and well updated on their rights when transacting businesses within government offices that employees should always be upright in discharging their duties.

Pauly said that CSC-CAR has hired researchers to validate the provisions of the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) such as the wearing of IDs, the creation of public assistance and complaint desk, observance of the “No Noon/Lunch Break “policy and the posting of Citizens Charter in all government offices.

“These researchers will visit government offices unannounced to observe the activities within a government office/s with some posing as clients.  These researchers will also interview clients to get their sides on the frontline services given by the service provider,” she said.

This prompted the City Government of Baguio to conduct training on basic customer service skills to improve their confidence in responding or servicing client needs.

Aside from trainings, the City Government also gives cash reward to employees who render outstanding performance.

Recently, Mayor Mauricio Domogan formed a monitoring committee to assure that all offices in the City government are complying with the requirements of ARTA.  


Banaue makes Imbayah fest annual event

BAGUIO CITY -- The grand Imbayah festival of the municipal town of Banaue will now be celebrated every year starting this year to save the “dying cultural heritage.”

Banaue Mayor Jerry Dalipog said that town officials made a bold step in making the Imbayah a yearly celebration from its original celebration every three years.

According to Dalipog, there is need to revitalize old customs, traditions and other cultural practices of the people of Banaue slowly disappearing especially  among younger generation.

He said even their very own people are not practicing some of the customs and traditions passed on by older generation.

“The decision to hold it every year is in order for us to remind our people especially our young generation of our customs and traditions including indigenous sports and games, traditional songs and dances and other rituals and practices,  which are part of the rice terraces cycle,  that  are rarely practiced now,” said Dalipog in Baguio press briefing.

These practices he said, would be shown during the Imbayah Festival this year  scheduled on April 26 to 30.

The word ‘imbayah’ comes from the Ifugao word bayah or rice wine, which signifies nobility and high stature in the community. During the festival, rice wine from antique Chinese jars overflows and a banquet is arranged for the mortals and the gods. The Ifugao elderly say that this celebration has been their way of thanksgiving and is a season of fun after a bountiful harvest.

Since 1979, Imbayah has been celebrated every three years and it is based on an old ritual celebrating the ascendancy of a commoner and his family to the ranks of Kadangyans or the Banaue elite.

Celebration would go on for 13 days with a rich couple playing host. The festival  would start with the whole community gathering firewood, with gongs ringing to signal the start of a feast. In the evenings, people  would gather  and dance.

With the theme “Celebrating Imbayah’s Best: Upholding Banaue’s Ingenuity, Identity and Progress!, the local government unit of Banaue is hoping that  this year’s Imbayah Festival  marks the  start of the revitalization of the customs and traditions of Banaue and Ifugao as a whole. -- RedjieCawis


SSS grants benefits to injured workers

By Sheena Rosario

BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Labor and Employment urged  workers to secure Social Security Service (SSS) membership  for financial risk protection in case of work-related injuries or accidents.

DOLE employees compensation commission information officer Gil Datayan, in radio interview, said government and private sector workers  who are Government Service Insurance System and SSS members are covered by the Employees Compensation Program that provides benefits in case of work-related injuries or accidents.

Datayan said ECP benefits include  income compensation, medical, rehabilitation services and carers’ allowance and death/funeral benefits, in case of work-related sickness, injuries, disability or death, including those happened while travelling to and from  the office.

“Any GSIS or SSS member can claim benefits and insurance under the EC program, regardless of their employment status and as long as there is an employer – employee relationship in their place of work,” Datayan said.

Based on DOLE – ECC data, there were 141 (88 SSS and 53 GSIS members) EC claims docketed in 2014  of which 139  were resolved.

Datayan said most EC claims were filed by miners or mining company workers. 


DPWH hit over road projects; Baguio, Benguet dads press talks

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

BAGUIO CITY – Motorists here are griping over slow construction work on roads which were destroyed for “reblocking.”

For this, Baguio, Benguet and tourism officials urged the Dept. of Public Works and Highways to make proper planning and necessary coordination before implementation of projects.

Road rehabilitation projects in in the city including central business started a week before Holy Week when tourists were expected to flock to the city.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said absence of close coordination between implementing agencies and the city government coupled with inadequate information dissemination on simultaneous implementation  of nationally-funded infrastructure projects were cited as major cause of tremendous traffic congestions around the city.

Domogan said the DPWH – Baguio City District Engineering Office and the winning contractors failed to coordinate with the city government and traffic officers as well as stakeholders to ease effects of diggings.

“It is very clear that the projects being implemented along national roads are nationally-funded and not city-funded, that is why the DPWH-BCDEO has the jurisdiction over the said projects,” the mayor said. Hotel and Restaurants Association of Baguio president Anthony De Leon also expressed his dismay with the timing of road rehabilitation works. 

He said many visitors have canceled hotel reservations during the Holy Week due to news on traffic in the city including one-way traffic scheme of the Kennon Road.

He said although some of the cancelation were due to Typhoon Chedeng, information on the “Calvary” road- like travel within the city discouraged visitors from coming up to the city.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan also expressed his resentment over lack of coordination  by the DPWH when  it  implemented the one-way traffic experimental scheme in Kennon Road during Holy Week.

“I am the governor of Benguet, and I was not informed,” Fongwan said during media forum.

He reportedly learned  of experimental traffic scheme through  media.

The governor said the plan was a good one but it affected lives and created problems particularly with residents of barangays along Kennon Road.

 “We have many farmers in Camp 3 and Camp 4 bringing their goods to La Union and Pangasinan who were affected by the experimental traffic scheme since they have to go to their destinations by going up again to Baguio City via Kennon and go down to Marcos Highway,” said Fongwan.

While tourism industry stakeholders said they were toying with the idea of filing charges against the DPWH and contractors for loss of revenue, officials and stakeholders urged proper coordination before projects are implemented to avoid losses  and inconvenience to residents and tourists. 


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