Boracay-style halt to Cordi small-scale mining imposed

>> Saturday, September 29, 2018

20K miners displaced; operators’ arrest set Oct. 1 

ITOGON, Benguet -- Authorities will launch a crackdown on illegal miners here starting Oct 1, after the landslide at the height of typhoon Ompong buried alive around a hundred miners and their families when they sought refuge in a bunkhouse and a church.
Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Francis Tolentino said the stop order on all small scale mining operation in the whole of Cordillera will be implemented.
Tolentino told local and foreign media in an interview last week President Rodrigo Duterte's order will be implemented.
"Like the closure of Boracay for rehabilitation nobody thought it will transpire," he said.
President Duterte had earlier issued an executive order mandating a six-month closure of Boracay Island to give way for its rehabilitation.
In an advisory released Monday,  the National Task Force – Mining Challenge (NTF MC) said it will arrest all miners who will continue to operate in mine sites declared for closure under Oplan Itogon.
“They will be immediately restrained, read his rights, informed of his violation and brought to police precinct for further questioning and possibly filing of a case against his person,” said Senior Supt. Lyndon Alimorong Mencio, Benguet police director.
The measure is in line with the stoppage order by the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources on all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Region after the tragic landslides that killed a number of residents.
The operation will be implemented by members of NTF MC together with personnel from the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and National Bureau of Investigation.
“May mga technical persons para ayusin ang operasyon towards regulation pa rin,” said Santiago Bugnosen, a member of the Technical Working Group, Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Miners confused
However, some miners said they were confused about the situation.
This is because, according to engineer Lomino Kaniteng, president of Benguet Small-Scale Miners Federation, the government has just asked for a list of affected miners once the mine sites are closed.
Kaniteng said around 20,000 miners from 88 associations are likely to suffer job cuts in Benguet.
This is apart from other miners living outside of the Cordillera Region.
“Nalilito tayo rito dahil parang hindi coordinated ang gobyerno dito sa stoppage order…because it has domino effect, it affects economics, it affects social, it affects education, it affects livelihood,” said Kaniteng.
What is important for them now is the government’s promise of financial assistance once the stoppage order takes effect on Oct. 1.
“Iyon nga ang pamilya namin, iyong immediate na kailangan gaya ng mga pagkain, kahit merong ibinibigay ang gobyerno, iyong immediate na pang matrikula,” said one miner.
The group will appeal to DENR to reconsider and restudy its stoppage order on complete ban of small-scale mining in the region.
This, as Tolentino said the stop order, despite the number of persons and families to be affected, will be implemented like how the government imposed its political will on Boracay.
Tolentino said the Boracay closure experience is proof that despite the non-belief of many the closure will actually be implemented, it materialized, showing that the Presidents order for the protection of the environment in an area is unquestionable and is will be implemented.
During a press conference facilitated by Presidential Spokesman Secretary Harry Roque on Sept. 17 at the Benguet provincial capitol, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu announced the effectivity of a cease and desist order of all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
This came after a closed-door briefing by the DENR-CAR officials in relation to the landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon that killed scores of people during Typhoon "Ompong" last Sept. 15.
“In view of this current situation in CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), to prevent further danger in the lives of small-scale miners, I officially ordered the cease and desist of all illegal small-scale mining operations in the whole of CAR,” Cimatu said.
Small scale mining contracts cancelled
Cimatu also ordered the cancellation of the 10 small scale mining contracts issued by the MGB to SSM associations pending approval of their applications for "Minahang Bayan".
The contract legitimized the operation of the SSM groups.
During the visit of President Duterte in Benguet on the same day, where he met with families of victims, and was briefed of the incident, the President expressed support to Cimatu's CDO order.
"We need a respite, inactivity sa soil and watershed,” Duterte said.
The President mentioned mining pollutes the water and it is not worth the P70 billion they contribute to the coffers.
“If I have my thing, I would close, never mind the money,” he said.
Tolentino said after Cimatu ordered the closure, he immediately convened a meeting attended by cabinet officials and government agency representatives to discuss how the closure order will be implemented as well as the possible solution to livelihood issues.
“Secretary Cimatu ordered that closure,” Duterte said. “I immediately convened a small Cabinet brainstorming specifically the head of social welfare, if she can work a cash for work program, DA (Dept. of Agriculture) if they have funding for this, the DENR, they have re-greening program. We will converge all of these.”


Mangaoang is new indigenous peoples Lower House chair

QUEZON CITY – Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang of Kalinga and Legislative Caretaker of Mountain Province has been elected chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples replacing Rep. Nancy A. Catamco of North Cotabato.
Mangaoang was elected by majority members of the Lower House on Sept. 24.
The 25-member committee, which he now chairs, has jurisdiction over all matters directly and principally relating to indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples and the development of their communities.
In an interview, Mangaoang said he is very grateful to the leadership of the House and his fellow members for the trust and confidence given him to lead the said committee.
“With this new role, we are challenged to work and do more in favor of our constituents especially our fellow indigenous peoples,” he said. 
He added together with the members of the committee, he will continue focusing on legislative measures and issues that affect IPs and ICs throughout the country.
Mangaoang traces his roots from Sagada, Mountain Province and Balbalan, Kalinga.
A geologist by profession, he became vice mayor and mayor of Balbalan and Vice Governor of the Province of Kalinga before his election as congressman in 2016.
He was appointed legislative caretaker of Mountain Province on July 5, 2018 when Rep. Maximo B. Dalog died.
Other Cordillerans who are also members of the committee in the current Congress are: Representatives Eleanor Bulut-Begtang of Apayao and Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. of Ifugao. -- Erlindo Agwilang Jr. 


P’sinan mayor’s pa shot dead; killers unknown

ALCALA, Pangasinan — Police are still clueless on identity of motorcycle-riding assassins who shot the father of Mayor Jojo Calleja of this town last week in Barangay Gualsic
Businessman Mario Callejo, 60, was driving an Isuzu pickup and had just come out of his house at around 3:30 a.m. when he was shot. 
The victim was declared dead on arrival at the Nuestro Señor Sto. Niño Hospital in Bayambang. 
Chief Insp. Fernando Lopez, town police chief, said the victim reportedly received death threats but did not report them to the police.
The mayor refused to comment on the incident.


2 killed in drug buy-busts in Isabela

By Liezle Blaasa-Iñigo

CAUYAN CITY, Isabela -- Suspected drug peddlers were killed by police in separate drug buy-bust operations in this city and Cabatuan town last week.
A report reaching Senior Supt. Mariano Rodriguez, Isabela Police Provincial Office director, identified the slain suspect in Cabatuan as Robert Cabuyadao, 53, of Barangay Turod, Quezon town in Isabela.
The report said Cabuyadao had just sold a sachet of suspected “shabu” to a poseur-buyer at 9:50 p.m. on Sept. 22 in Barangay Rang Ay, Cabatuan, when allegedly drew his Cal.38 revolver and fired at undercover agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 2.
The buy-bust team had no other recourse but to return fire, killing the suspect.
Later the same night at 11:15, PDEA-2 agents targeted the arrest of Manny Mapalo, 48, of Barangay Bimmunton, Mallig town in another buy-bust operation in Barangay Tagaran, Cuayan City.
Mapalo, like Cabuyadao, allegedly pulled a gun on the arresting agents, forcing them to shoot back.
He died on the spot.


CPA chair seeks removal of name from terrorist list

Cordillera Peoples Alliance chairperson Windel Bolinget, accompanied by his lawyer Atty. Jose Molintas, attended Sept. 21 a hearing at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 on the motion Bolinget filed last August 31 seeking removal of his name from the Dept. of Justice’s terrorist list and dismissal of the DOJ petition describing the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army  as terrorist organizations.
“We hope the court will immediately act favorably on the motion and dismiss the entire petition of the Dept. of Justice,” Bolinget said. “We reiterate that the DOJ petition is baseless, malicious, and puts at risk the safety and security of the names listed therein. We do not deserve to be criminalized and politically vilified when all we do is protect our rights as indigenous peoples, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the country’s democracy.”
Dept. of Justice’s Senior Assistant State Prosecutor, Peter Ong, was present during the hearing.
The DOJ was given two weeks to respond to the motion Bolinget filed along with previous motions filed by his colleagues Joanna Patricia Cariño, Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding, Joan Carling, Beverly Longid who were also tagged as members of a terrorist organization.
After this, the court will come out with decisions on the motions,” Bolinget said.
Earlier statements released by the CPA and various groups stated that the DOJ proscription list was a clear attack on the CPA by naming seven previous and present leaders of the organization as terrorists .
“It (DOJ list) intends to quell legitimate dissent and threaten indigenous human rights defenders in the region and across the country that staunchly assert their right to self-determination, defend their ancestral lands and the environment.”
For nearly four decades, he said, the CPA has been in the forefront of the Cordillera peoples’ struggle since the dark years of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.
“The DOJ petition, various trumped-up charges filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against indigenous human rights defenders and activists, militarization of Cordillera communities and human rights violations, coupled with various applications for mining, dams and other energy projects clearly show that we are currently under a de facto martial law. Our ancestral lands are under attack and the people who have the courage to stand up are being criminalized, tagged as terrorists and politically vilified,” said Bolinget.
The hearing coincided with the commemoration of Martial Law.
 “The Cordillera people will resist Duterte’s dictatorship, as we did during the Martial Law years,” Bolinget said. “We enjoin concerned citizens to be vigilant and continue to defend the people from any form of human rights violations and oppression. Never again to martial law”


Gov’t, religious, media, business reps to select Baguio City PNP chief

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he will not select the next city police chief from list submitted to him by the police regional office.
Instead, he will convene a screening committee composed of department heads, members of the city council and representatives from business, religious and media sectors who will screen applicants based on prescribed criteria.
Due to this, Domogan requested the PRO-Cordillera to extend timeframe given in naming the next city police director after the end of the 2-year tour of duty of incumbent Senior Supt. Ramil L. Saculles.
Domogan said PRO-COR forwarded to his office list of qualified senior police commissioned officers from which he will select the next BCPO chief.
But because of the recent onslaught of Tropical Strom Ompong and the city’s hosting of the Batang Pinoy national championships, the screening process of the applicants was not conducted.
 “We will not return the shortlist but what we will request from the PNP leadership is to grant the local government another 10 days extension to submit the recommended next BCPO City director to allow us to undergo the screening process pursuant to what had been done in the selection of previous BCPO chiefs,” Domogan said.
He said applicants in the list will be screened based on their availability, performance, programs to sustain the city’s peace and order situation and results of the interview that will be conducted by the members of the committee on a date that will be scheduled.
Included in the list transmitted to the local government by PRO-COR regional director Chief Supt. Rolando Z. Nana were all police senior superintendents – Ifugao police director David K. Peredo,  Agustin Juan Tello, Giovani C. Maines, regional intelligence chief Elmer Ragay and former Baguio police director George Daskeo.
Among documents that should be submitted by the applicants to the local screening committee are their performance ratings for two successive semesters preceding their being included in the list and a presentation of their overall programs for the BCPO.
Domogan said recommendation of local screening committee will be immediately forwarded to the PRO-COR for issuance of designation of  selected next BCPO chief.
He said he will respect the list submitted to him by the PNP because had undergone initial screening process of the Senior officers Placement Board, the body in charge of screening applicants for PNP positions and assignment of police officers in regions, provinces, cities and municipalities.
He urged applicants to comply with requirements being requested from them by the local screening committee so they will be properly rated and the one who will be getting the highest rating will be recommended for appointment as the next BCPO chief. -- Dexter A. See


CBAO: Buildings not compliant with nat’l law will be demolished

By Aileen P. Refuezo

BAGUIO CITY – City Building chief engineer Nazita Banez warned residents here to strictly comply with the National Building Code or their buildings would be demolished.
She said is also to ensure the stability and protection of their structures against strong typhoons like “Ompong.”
The head of the City Building and Architecture Office said ongoing structures without permits especially those within the hazardous and non-buildable areas in the City such as steep slopes, road right-of-ways, waterways and parks will be subjected to summary demolition as a safeguard for the people.
This came on the heels of reports that most of the structures affected by the typhoon were not covered by building permits and built along high risk areas.
“Let’s learn our lesson: Follow the requirements of the Building Code and secure building permit before starting the construction.  I understand that not everyone has the means that’s why they resort to buying lots from syndicates and build shanties.  But please think of the safety of our families.  If it’s unsafe then we better just rent,” Banez said.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan who acknowledged the need to intensity disaster mitigation measures said barangay officials should take their responsibilities of reporting illegal structures especially those being built in high risk areas more seriously.
“It is their duty to monitor and report these occurrences because they are familiar with their own people and their activities,” he said.
Banez said securing building permits would only cost a minimal amount or P10 per square meter plus miscellaneous fees.
To complete the requirements, she advised that owners hire technical people like private engineers or architects knowledgeable on the Building Code to do their building plans and to undertake soil tests to determine the depth of the foundation needed for the structure and other site development and engineering interventions needed to ensure the soundness of the structure.
“What’s happening now is that owners just build without guidance from experts and without employing site development so when calamities strike, their structures are toppled and worse when they refuse to heed calls for preemptive evacuation, lives are lost,” Banez said


Bontoc Am-among winners in singing, dancing tilts known

By Alpine Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province - Performing before almost a thousand people in the audience, at least 13 solo singers; two pairs of duet singers; two dance crew; and five groups of Hip-Hop dancers showcased their talents on Sept.19 at the Eyeb Open Gym.
For the Voice –Solo Category, Franklin Mamilig of Barangay Dalican stole the heart of the judges and the audience with his rendition of “You are the Reason” thus, making him the champion and received a cash prize of 4,000.00. Glaiza Liccub of Barangay Caneo landed in the 2nd place with her version of “Daddy’s Hand” and received a cash prize of P3, 000.00 while Carfin Grey Agcapen of Barangay Samoki came in 3rd place with his rendition of “My Way” and was given a cash prize of P2, 000.00. Those who did not make it to the Top 3 were given a consolation prize of P1, 000.00 each.
In Voice –Duet Category, Narieah Joy Gaddi and Manyshan Tudlong received a cash prize of P4, 000.00 after besting the other pair, Sherlyn Cawed and Nadine Afidchao who received P3, 000.00 cash prize.
In the Moves Category, the Armament Aces was given a cash prize of P4, 000.00 after it outshined the MPSPC Sphag that received a cash prize of P3, 000.00.
Meanwhile, the Hip-Hop Dance Competition which coincided with the Bontoc Got Talent: Finals is spearheaded by the Red Cross- Mountain Province Chapter and sponsored by the SMART Communications, Incorporated.
The HT5 Dance Crew wowed the judges and the audience making them the champion in the Hip-Hop Dance Competition, thereby, received a cash prize of P3, 000.00. The I-Tocucan Dance Crew landed in the 2nd place with a cash prize of P2, 000.00; the Bagsakan Dance Crew grabbed the 3rd place – P1, 000.00; the Class 101 Dance Crew came in 4th place – P 500.00; and the Fantastic 8 Dance Crew – P500.00. Aside from the cash prizes, all members of the participating dance groups received a hygiene kit.
The Committee on the Bontoc Got Talent are the personnel of the Municipal Budget Office and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, in coordination with the Sangguniang Kabataan Presidents of the 16 barangays of Bontoc.
For the Folkdance Competition, the participating schools are the elementary, secondary and tertiary level of the different barangays of Bontoc. For the Elementary Category, Dalican Elementary School emerged as the champion, Caneo Elementary School came in 2nd place, and Saint Vincent Elementary School (SVES) landed in 3rd place. Under the Junior High School Category, Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School (MPGCHS) bested the six other participating schools, Saint Vince High School (SVHS) landed in the 2nd place, and Talubin National High School (TNHS) ranked 3rd place. In the Senior High School and Tertiary Level Category, MPGCHS grabbed the 1st place, XIJEN Institute of Technology got the 2nd place, and Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) landed in 3rd place.
The champions in Elementary, Junior High School, and Senior and Tertiary Categories received a cash prize of P5, 000.00; those in 2nd place were given P4, 000.00; and those in 3rd place were in P3, 000.00 in every category. Those who did not make it to the Top 3 were given a consolation prize of P1, 300.00.
Yolanda Comafay, the Co-Chairperson of the Committee on Folkdance and Ballroom Competition explained that from the P1, 300.00 consolation prizes given to every participating school that did not make it to the Top 3, the P1, 000.00 was provided by the Bontoc Municipal Government while the P300.00 was donated by an anonymous individual.
For the Ballroom competition under the Elementary, Junior High School, and Senior and Tertiary Categories; couples danced the three Latin dances (Cha Cha Cha, Rumba and Jive), and three standard dances (Waltz, Tango, and Swing).
Couple Xypher Dulay and Nicole Uriad Goyen won 1st place in the Ballroom- Elementary Category and received a cash prize of P4, 000.00; Broderick Angannoy and Silver Sumeg-ang came in 2nd place and were given a cash prize of P3, 00.00; and Jessie Tumeg and Yunah Archog landed in 3rd place and received a cash prize of P2, 000.00
Couple Collin Jasper Pachingel and Jade Navarra wowed the judges and audience making them the champion in the Ballroom – Junior Category. As the winner, the couple received P4, 000.00 cash prize; 2nd place Michael Feckleng and April Awilan received P3, 000.00; and 3rd place Josh Fagyan and Hanah Mae Pinengew were given P2, 000.00 cash prize.
For the Ballroom – Senior / Tertiary Category, the gracefulness of couple Van John Yog-a and Jana Tumapang made them the champion, thereby, receiving a cash prize of P4, 000.00. Charlie Kilaman and Derdre Faba-an ranked in 2nd place and were given a cash prize of P3,000.00 while Chesron Facsay and Khayla Madalang ranked in 3rd place and received a cash prize of P2,000.00
The couples in the Elementary, Junior High School, and Senior and Tertiary Categories who were able to enter into the Top 5 or the qualifying round received P1, 500.00 while consolation prizes of P1, 000.00 were given to couples/ pairs who did not make it to the Top 5.
The Committee on Folkdance and Ballroom Competition is chaired by Sangguniang Bayan member Robert Dacyon, co-chaired by Municipal Accountant Yolanda Comafay, and the members are the staff of the Municipal Accounting Office.


Bocap, ABC president surrender to Ilocos PNP

By Liezle Basa Inigo

NAGBUKEL. Ilocos Sur -- An Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president and barangay chairman here in Balaweg listed as “identified drug personality” surrendered to the police on Sept. 17.
Nagbukel police chief, Senior Insp. Pol Ariola, identified the self-confessed drug user as Ernesto D. Corrales Jr.
Corrales surrendered to police around 3:30 p.m.
He was accompanied by a group composed of members of the religious sector, barangay officials, and police.
Senior Supt. Clint Bayacsan, Ilocos Sur Police provincial director, said Corrales will undergo evaluation, counseling, and signing of an affidavit of undertaking and oath.
Bayacsan added concerned agencies will determine how long Corrales will undergo recovery and wellness program.


36 NPAs surrender in Ilocos Sur; guns, ammunition found in Besao

CANDON CITY -- A total of 36 members of the New People’s Army voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 81st Infantry (Spartan) Battalion in Ilocos Sur recently.
Nine members of Kabataang Makabayan, a mass organization in Barangay Legazpi, Galimuyod, surrendered to an 81st IB team, in the presence of barangay officials.
Ten other members of Kabataang Makabayan and 17 members of Samahang Magsasaka, surrendered during the same day to the 81st IB CSP team, also in the presence of barangay officials of Barangay Bugnay, Candon City.
Said surrenderees were presented to their respective municipal mayors.
In a separate event, the 81st IB recovered two high-powered firearms, two improvised explosive devices and war materiel at Sitio Aguid,, Barangay Agawa, Besao, Mt. Province on Sept. 22 at around 5:50 p.m.
Former NPA member Antonio Tabling alias Andy who surrendered to the 81IB in July, reportedly voluntarily provided information on the location of firearms and other war materiel.


Baguio council probes deal with Kaltimex on Asin power plants

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The City Council inquiry on the City’s floundering deal with Kaltimex Energy Philippines Inc. for the development of the Asin mini-hydro power plants will continue even as the Body discussed options to rescind the contract.
The Body decided to invite Kaltimex chairman Krishan Kumar Ralhan to its next session to air the company’s side on its failure to implement the multi-million peso project despite the confirmation of the contract on January 30, 2017.
City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, a member of the city’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) whom the Body invited and consulted on the legal avenues that the City may undertake to rescind the contract, said they are currently preparing actions for the cancellation of the contract either directly based on Kaltimex’s manifestation of withdrawal from the project dated May, 2017and its subsequent failure to implement the project or through judicial means.
Councilor Peter Fianza said the Council needs to come up with a letter terminating the relationship with Kaltimex to enable the City Legal office to start the cancellation proceedings.
However, some councilors expressed doubt if the City will have a solid case against Kaltimex.
Councilor Faustino Olowan said there appeared to be some intervening circumstances that prevented Kaltimex from starting the project which it may raise to defend itself from the impending cancellation case like the failure of the City to transfer to its name the ownership of the plants thereby preventing the company from securing all the permits and the pending cases for water rights and that of the lot owners whose properties are affected by the operation.  
Mayor Mauricio Domogan last April 11, 2018, sent a final demand to Kaltimex for the payment of the fees with damages based on the contract which amounted to P13,644,500.
“It has been more than a year since the confirmation of your contract to operate the (hydros) and we have repeatedly demanded performance of your obligation… but very insignificant steps were undertaken by your Company t comply with the same,” the mayor noted.
“The last letter you sent us for the extension of three months up to March 2018 to submit a joint inspection report but again nothing has been done yet this activity that should have been conducted immediately following the confirmation of the contract.”
The mayor asked the firm to settle the amount on or before April 30 and reminded the company that the performance bond amounting to P150 million is set to expire on October 10, 2018.
The city council passed resolution No. 219, series of 2011 approving the terms of reference and pro-forma contract for the privatization of the Asin minihydro power plants.
The body later approved Resolution No. 037, series of 2017 that confirmed the memorandum of agreement dated 30 January 2015 entered into by and between the local government and Kaltimex on the rehabilitation, upgrading, expansion, operation and management of the city-owned plants.
The local government took over the operation of the three plants after the expiration of the city’s 25-year agreement with the Aboitiz-owned Hydroelectric Development Corp. in 2006 and the local government was able to earn some P30 million annually from the continuous operation of the said plants.


'No sign of life' in landslide; rescue operations stopped

By Pamela Mariz Geminiano

ITOGON, Benguet -- Secretary Francis Tolentino, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, has directed operatives to focus on just body retrieval operations, as there seems to be "no sign of life" left at the landslide area in this mining town.
In a press conference here on Tuesday afternoon, Tolentino said rescue operations in the area would have to be stopped, shifting focus on the search and retrieval of dead bodies instead.
"We are declaring that this is purely retrieval operations, as no sign of life is being detected," he said.
It has been 10 days since the fatal landslide occurred in Barangay Ucab at the height of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) on Sept. 15, burying scores of residents, mostly small-scale miners and contractual mining laborers.
As of 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) has confirmed 85 deaths and 23 still missing in Itogon town.
Majority of those still not found, or 17, were in Barangay Ucab, particularly in the landslide area now called here "ground zero."
 Tolentino has also instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to start the psycho-social processing for the victims' relatives. 
 "This is a devastating news. That is why the DSWD will be conducting community counseling to ease the pain of the victims," he lamented.
DSWD regional director Janet Armas said her department had actually begun the community counseling for the victims, who earlier evacuated from their homes as "Ompong" ravaged the area.
Armas said a group of psychologists would be conducting stress debriefing and trauma counseling among the victims' relatives.
“There will be an augmentation of nurses coming from the DOH (Department of Health) to help during the conduct of the debriefing and counseling of the families of the victims, especially the relatives of those still missing under tons of mud,” she added.
In an earlier press conference near "ground zero,"  Tolentino said the DOH and the Office of Civil Defense had declared a "slim chance of finding survivors."
On Saturday, the Secretary and the heads of the departments in the region agreed to wait two more days before they lift the rescue operation and shift to purely retrieval.
 Brig. Gen. Leopoldo Imbang of the Philippine Army in Northern Luzon, who headed the search, rescue, and retrieval (SSR) operations, said operatives were then moving towards the old mine portal of the Benguet Corporation, where the people could have sought refuge. On Tuesday, the portal was reached and one body was found near it.
Debriefing, DNA sample taking
The CDRRMC has advised the relatives waiting for news on their missing family members to proceed to the DSWD regional office in Baguio for their psycho-social processing. 
Information obtained from reliable sources said the debriefing will include explaining to the families the operational shift from rescue to retrieval and to help them cope with the loss.
The media had been barred from the area to prevent inconvenience to the grieving relatives, who would have to accept that their family members are already dead.
The relatives were also advised to go to the DSWD, so their DNA samples would be taken for matching with the unidentified bodies earlier recovered from the site and those who are still to be recovered.
The DNA matching, while it will take long, will assure that the bodies released to the relatives are their own, the National Bureau of Investigation forensic team earlier said. 
Ifugao folks mourn townmates
Ifugao province recorded zero casualty in the onslaught of Typhoon "Ompong" but the Ifugaos are mourning the death of scores of their townmates in the landslide.
“We mourn this unfortunate incident. There was no recorded death in our province in Ifugao, but those who died and others who are missing in Itogon are from Ifugao,” Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o said in a telephone interview last week. 
He said about 80 to 90 percent of those who died in the Ucab mines, as well as those still missing, are from his province.
Mayam-o arrived in Benguet’s capital town La Trinidad on Sept. 17, in time for President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the typhoon-devastated province to meet with the families of the victims in Baguio and Benguet and to hear about the incident.
But Mayam-o said his primary purpose in going to Benguet was to check on the welfare of his townmates--the families of most of the victims of the landslide.
He came with provincial social work office chief Joyce Niwane to assist the victims' families.
Together with the families of the victims, Mayam-o waited sitting on the sides hoping the rescue operation at "ground zero" will find survivors, or at least the remains of his townmates, who perished in the accident.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat has also appealed to both the government and the private sector for more assistance to the families of miners who perished in Itogon. many of whom are from Ifugao and were sole breadwinners in their family.
Baguilat started the campaign immediately after it was known that scores of miners were killed in the landslides caused by the heavy rains from typhoon Ompong, which recently barreled across Luzon.
The call for donations in cash or in kind such as rice and hygiene kits was heeded by a number of individuals and institutions who sent help through Baguilat's office.
So far, close to P500,000 has been collected through fund-raising activities in Manila, which drew the support of fellow representatives in the Lower House and civil society organizations. 
Pledges also continue to come in to help the families of the fallen Ifugao miners.
As for the longer-term solution, Baguilat is calling for the review of existing mining laws to ensure that small-scale miners will be able to work in a safe environment.
At the same time, there will have to be other livelihood options available to those who went into mining to provide food on the table for their families.
“With assistance from the national government, perhaps we will be able to encourage our people to give up mining altogether and return to the province and engage in the traditional livelihood of agriculture or other viable alternatives. We are famous for our rice and also for our coffee. The potential for growth remains and we just need further assistance to unleash that full potential,” Baguilat said.
As Congressman of Ifugao, Baguilat has supported livelihood generation in his province by providing enterprise grants to community organisations, helping organic farming communities in their marketing and production needs and allocating funds for improvement of farm to market roads. -- With reports from Pamela Mariz Geminiano, PNA 


Liability of Itogon execs in landslide investigated

Miners paid fees to mine BC site 

By Gina Dizon

ITOGON, Benguet -- Small scale miners were tolerated to stay in an “abandoned” mining site and bunkhouse located in a private property of Benguet Corp. here in Ucab through the years.
This was bared by Fernando Mangili, small scale miner and officer of the United Concerned Citizens of Ucab after around a hundred small scale miners and their families were killed in a landslide here at the height of Typhoon Ompong two weeks ago.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the DENR is probing liability of local government officials and BC in the “landslide” wherein scores of “buried” and “missing” victims are still being retrieved or “rescued,” government officials said.
The victims stayed in the bunkhouse during the Sept. 15 typhoon and got buried from debris that fell from the mountain slope to the bunkhouse located below.
Most of the dead miners were from Ifugao who left their homes in search for livelihood and found their way  in the mining site at Itogon.
Mangili said in an interview small scale miners were required to pay an entrance fee in entering the abandoned mining site for quite some time.
Miners who used the “abandoned mining site” also paid some amount for their “rights” as “mining claimants” to enter BMC’s Antamok minesite, Mangili added.   
BC left the site in mid 1990s after doing underground mining and open pit mining but small scale mining activities continued.
Another miner who requested anonymity said the miners in agreement with BC paid an entrance fee of P15 each per small scale miner-member to their organization, Lower Gumoc in Ucab which in turn paid to BC.
Payment however stopped when BC demanded that the entrance fee be increased, the miner said.
In previous three years, Lower Gumok organization paid an annual amount to BC through its Balatoc counter to enable them to mine the Antamok site, he added.   
BC earlier said in newspaper reports that they never allowed illegal mining in the landslide area referring to their Antamok claims in Ucab.    
Mangili said the private property has a gate and a security guard. Yet small scale miners were allowed to enter the private property.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan earlier blamed BC for allowing a small-scale mining group to use its facilities such as the abandoned mining tunnel to operate and allowed people to put up shanties in the Antamok mining area.
BC has given opportunity for the small scale miners to mine their abandoned mine site for a fee, Mangili claimed.
BC said in reports they have issued warnings and notices for the small scale miners to vacate the area.
The company said criminal cases were filed and counter actions were taken against illegal miners. BC said it had blasted and blocked portals but said tunnels were reopened by the small scale miners. 
Palangdan said he sent letters twice to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to act on small scale mining in the questioned site.
MGB Director Fay Apil, said the mining site has since been declared a geo hazard zone but added the landslide was not caused by mining but heavy rains.
But Mangili said if that’s the case then MGB which has a geo- hazard map should have compelled BC to  in turn make small scale miners leave the “abandoned” mining site.
Since the MGB claimed the landslide came from the mountain which is not a mining site, then the MGB should have exerted efforts to let BC make small scale miners leave the landslide prone site, Mangili said.
The MGB had declared parts of Cordillera landslide-prone and geo hazard region including Itogon.  
Mangili said UCCU wants the BC’s Antamok claims donated to the local government  to have it rehabilitated and the site be used for best use of the community.
BC has reportedly “donated” its patented claims in Antamok as Minahang Bayan wherein mining will be regulated by government. 
BC reportedly wrote a letter to DENR requesting assistance for permanent closure and stoppage of all illegal mining and processing activities within its Itogon mining claims and for relocation of displaced small scale miners into the planned Minahang Bayan sites in Antamok.  
Leoncio Naoy, business manager of Benguet Federation of Small Scale Miners said the organization pushed legitimization of small scale mining activities through Minahang Bayan.
He said application for Minahang Bayan of the small scale miners of Itogon, Mankayan and Tuba were already published as a requirement.
Small scale mining is here to stay unless alternative and stable livelihood is provided to SSM miners, Naoy said.
He said at least 12,000 small scale miners would be affected due to DENR’s order to stop small scale mining activities.
Most of them came from Ifugao, Mountain Province and Kalinga and migrated to Itogon, established their families here and worked on small scale mining for quite some time.
Itogon had since been an open area for mining.
In pursuit for livelihood, some small scale miners died inside the tunnels due to suffocation or the mines caved in during typhoons.


Bulacan town PNP chief nabbed, jailed for extortion

BOCAUE, Bulacan — The police chief of this town is now in jail after he was arrested here last week for alleged extortion.
Supt. Juwen de la Cruz was collared in an entrapment in his office at  12:07 a.m. by personnel of the Philippine National Police-Counter-Intelligence Task Force led by Supt. Joel Estaris.
De la Cruz reportedly yielded two motorcycles, a Mitsubishi Montero, a Toyota Wigo and a Toyota Vios.
Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., CITF director, said the operation was conducted in response to a complaint of the brother of a drug suspect, who was arrested on Sept. 5.
De la Cruz reportedly demanded an iPhone X in exchange for the release of a Mitsubishi Montero seized from the suspect during a drug raid.
The drug suspect claimed De la Cruz had used the sport utility vehicle not only in police operations but also for personal reasons.
De la Cruz also allegedly took the motorcycle, shoes and other personal belongings of the drug suspect.
Caramat said De la Cruz had been under surveillance for two months.
Police said they also received reports that De la Cruz seized the vehicles and personal belongings of several other arrested drug suspects in exchange for their release.
These vehicles and personal effects were reportedly not included on the list of items seized in drug raids.
“I don’t know what happened to him, why he ended up that way,” Caramat said of De la Cruz.
 Caramat admitted that during his stint as Bulacan police director, he was close to De la Cruz.
De la Cruz is facing robbery and extortion charges and possible dismissal from the service for grave misconduct.
 PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the arrest of De la Cruz should serve as a warning to police officers involved in criminal activities.
“Just like the war on drugs, the PNP internal cleansing program will be relentless and chilling... Let this be another stern warning to those who by their misdeeds continue to mock the professionalism and integrity expected of each police officer,” Albayalde said in a statement. – With reports from Ramon Efren Lazaro and Emmanuel Tupas



Gunman wounds 4 in P’sinan town wake

By Liezle Basa Iñigo
MANAOAG, Pangasinan — A man opened fire at people attending a wake in Zone 4, Barangay Lelemaan, here night of Sept. 22, wounding four people.
Police said the shooter was identified as Bernardo Ballesteros, alias “Andong,” 54, a widower and farmer in the same neighborhood.His motive in indiscriminately shooting his firearm at the wake was still under investigation.
Wounded were Bienvenido Ballesteros, 66; Ariel Centino, 24; a construction worker; Jerry Pascua, 50; and Rommel Penuliar, 21.

Jeep falls off Bokod ravine; driver hurt

BOKOD, Benguet  -- A jeep fell down a ravine here Wednesday  causing injury to the diver.
A police report said the accident happened around 10 a.m. here at km 308 of Bokod-Kabayan provincial road at Ambangeg, Daclan involving a brown owner type jeep with license plate ACX 213 driven by Ronel Morata Guinoran, 22, single, farmer, of Babadac, Bashoy, Kabayan.
The report said the vehicle plunged down the 10-meter deep ravine  while at a curve. The driver was rescued by medics led by Aurilia Wales, a nurse who brought the victim to Dennis Molintas District Hospital here at Barangay Daclan. The victim who had a lacerated wound on his forehead, said he noticed the wheel locked which which made the vehicle fall down the cliff. The vehicle is still  at the area where it landed.

Man’s body found in Baguio parking lot  

BAGUIO CITY – The body of a man was found here Wednesday around 7:30 a.m. at Crystal Cave, Bakakeng Central which was reported by a concerned citizen. A police report said the concerned citizen was walking along the road when he saw the still unidentified body lying at the parking area owned by Moldex residences just below the Amistad residence. Cops found a handgun near the head of the victim which was injured. Police are probing the incident.

Gun-for-hire suspect nabbed

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga — Authorities have arrested an alleged gun-for-hire suspect and member of the Dan Aquino Criminal Croup during manhunt operation in Pampanga last Sunday.
Arnel Miranda, accused of double murder, was arrested by joint elements of the SCU, RID and RMFB3 led by Senior Ispector Nonilon C. Navarro Jr., while serving a warrant for his arrest in Sitio Mananquil, Barangay San Roque, San Luis, this province at 2:30 p.m.
Chief Supt. Amador V. Corpus, Central Luzon police director, said Miranda is wanted for criminal charges filed before Judge Veronica A. Vicente De Guzman of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 9 in Malolos City, Bulacan. – Franco Regala

 2 ‘illegal recruiters’ nabbed in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY – Two female “illegal recruiters” were arrested by lawmen here Wednesday along Gabriela Silang Street. Nabbed were Lolita Orejudos Tagorda, 55, married, and resident of No.82, Brookspoint, Aurora Hill and Rosita Tamayo Rañada, 65, widow, of Payocpoc Sur, Bauang, La Union. 
This, following complaints of Teresa Padua, Ines Ayason and Juliene Ayason whom the respondents reportedly enticed to apply as factory workers in South Korea.
The suspects allegedly promised employment to complainants that did not materialize. Tagorda is allegedly the leader of an illegal recruitment group operating in Cordillera and nearby lowland provinces.

Judge denies bail to suspected carnapper 

RIZAL, Kalinga – A judge denied bail to a man nabbed for carnapping here Wednesday at Barangay Babalag West. Judge Nicanor Pascual of RTC BR 25, Tabuk City, Kalinga denied bail to Arsenio Bawas Agpad, 38, married, unemployed of Sitio Cadaw, Babalag West,
Personnel of 1503 RMFB and Rizal police earlier arrested the suspect and brought him to Rizal police station.

Farmer nabbed for frustrated murder

LUBUAGAN, Kalinga – Police arrested a farmer Wednesday for frustrated murder here in Sitio Dugnac, Antonio Canao. Nabbed was Jerry Dagson Salucon, 49, married after judge Milnar T Lammawin of RTC Branch 25, Tabuk City issued warrant against him. The judge set bail of P8,000 for Salucon’s temporary liberty.

No bail for woman in bouncing checks case

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A young woman was nabbed here Wednesday along km 5, Barangay Pico allegedly for issuing bouncing checks. The suspect was identified by police as Jessica Taynan Dulas, 24 of Naybo, Poblacion, Buguias, Benguet and resident of Western Buyagan, La Trinidad. The arrest was made by virtue of warrant issued by Melita Amylesha D. Macaraeg, acting presiding judge of Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet,
So bail was ordered by the judge for the suspect who was jailed at the town police station.

Manager nabbed for acts of lasciviousness

ITOGON, Benguet – Cops nabbed an operations manager here Wednesday at Barangay Virac for acts of lasciviousness  Arrested was Elmer Malao Martin 48, married, of Monamon Sur Mt. Province and resident of 126 Pinewood Street, Crystal Cave Central, Baguio City. Judge Linda Bading Gumabol of MTC First Judicial Region, Itogon earlier issued warrant for his arrest and set bail of P20,000 for his temporary liberty.

 Man denied bail for bouncing checks

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A certain Rogelio Camas Lestino, 40, married, of Buguias, Benguet and resident of km 4, Balili, La Trinidad was arrested here Wednesday for bouncing checks, Melita Amylesha D. Macaraeg, acting presiding judge of Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad earlier issued warrant for his arrest with no bail recommended.

Learning specialist nabbed for estafa 

BAGUIO CITY – A learning specialist of a leading call center here  was arrested Wednesday for estafa. Nabbed at no. 25 Naguilian Road was Maria Lourdes Lising Sison, 51, single mother. This, after Edilberto T. Claraval, presiding judge of RTC Branch 60 Baguio City issued warrant for her arrest. The judge set bail of P150,000 for the suspect’s temporary liberty 

Housemaid nabbed for estafa; P150K bail set

POZORRUBIO, Pangasinan – Cops from Baguio City and this town arrested here at Poblacion Wednesday a certain Ma. Lourdes Abalos, 27, housemaid, resident of No. 50 Malasin of this town for estafa. This, after Roberto R. Mabalot, judge of Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1, Baguio City ordered her arrest and set bail of P12,000 for her temporary liberty.

College student behind bars for rape

KABUGAO, Apayao – A college student was arrested  here at Barrangay Cabetayan Wednesday for rape. Nabbed was Reynante Patagui Ulijan 24, single after Francisco S. Donato, judge of RTC, Branch 26, Second Judicial Region, Luna, Apayao issued warrant against him with no bail recommended.

 Father, son land in jail for arson 

PARACELIS, Mt. Province – A father and son were arrested here Wednesday for arson. The suspects were named as Augusto Bialdo Lagget Sr. 53 and his son Augusto Lagget Jr., 22, both farmers here of Banilag, Poblacion. The arrest was made by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Sergio A. Angganay Jr. presiding judge of RTC Branch 35, Bontoc, Mt. Province.The judge set bail of P100,000 each for the suspects.

Woman nabbed for bouncing checks 

BAGUIO CITY – A 59 year old native of Lubon, Tadian was arrested here Monday at Justice Hall for issuing bouncing checks. Nabbed was Carol Bordo Apil, at present residing here along Saint Anthony St., San Carlos Heights. No bail was granted by Maria Clarita Casuga Tabin, presiding judge of Municipal Trial Court Branch 4, Baguio City.

 Bocap, man give guns to cops in Banaue 

BANAUE, Ifugao – Two men surrendered here Wednesday handguns to police.
A certain Lito Cablin of Barangay Ducligan appeared at Banaue police station Wednesday and turned over an unregistered Cal. 38 without serial number..The barangay chairman of Kinakim here identified as Henry Duntugan also surrendered at Banaue  police station an unregistered Ingram MII 9mm firearm bearing Serial Number 82317.

Farmer surrenders grenades in Abra

SALLAPADAN, Abra – A farmer surrendered to police here Wednesday two grenades. Danilo L. Gunday, 36, married, farmer gave these to police following a dialogue with local folks by police. 

Man arrested for concubinage

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Police arrested a man here Tuesday at km 3, Pico for concubinage. Nabbed was Renato Ollo Pengla, 39, married, here of Barangay Alapang.This after warrant was issued against him by Melita Amylesha G. Delson-Macaraeg, acting presiding judge of Municipal Trial Court, La Trinidad, Benguet. The judge set P2,000 bail  for the suspect’s temporary liberty.

Man nabbed for violence; placed under house arrest

MANKAYAN, Benguet – A farmer was arrested here Tuesday here at Lap-angan, Suyoc for violation of Republic Act 9262 (violence against women and children).
Nabbed was Arthur Lucas Mascay, 46 after Marietta S. Brawner-Cualing, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 9, First Judicial Region, La Trinidad, Benguet issued warrant against him for two counts of violation of the law with a bail of P80, 000 for each count.
The suspect was later turned over to his relatives for house arrest due to weakness following an accident as attested d by Dr. Analiza F. Dalmacio of Northern Benguet District Hospital, Abatan, Buguias, Benguet.
Mascay will be presented by his relatives anytime the court will require.

Woman nabbed for adultery 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A woman was arrested here at Barangay Alapang Tuesday for adultery. Nabbed was Luisa Teofilo Wagayan, 45.  This, after warrant was issued against her by Melita Amylesha D. Macaraeg, acting presiding judge of Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet.The judge set bail of P20,000 for the suspect’s temporary liberty.

Farmer cornered for attempted homicide  

BALBALAN, Kalinga – A farmer was arrested here Tuesday by police at Barangay Buaya for attempted homicide. Nabbed was Rodel Dalupang Ampid, 33, married after warrant was issued against him by Victor A. Dalanao, presiding judge of MTC, 2nd Judicial Region, Tabuk, Kalinga. Dalanao set bail of P20,000 for the suspect’s temporary liberty.

Man denied bail for rape

CABANATUAN CITY – A man wanted for rape was arrested here Tuesday by cops from Baguio, Pangasinan, Sultan Kudarat and elements of Highway Patrol Group. Nabbed was Jeffrey Carandang Mamawag after warrant was issued against him by judge Renato R Gleyo of RTC, Branch 19, Baguio City. The judge set no bail for the accused.

 Lasciviousness lands man in jail

TUBA, Benguet – A certain Bernard Pasyado Agdesil, 44, married, was arrested here Tuesday at Camp 6, Kennon Road for acts of lasciviousness. Arrest was made by virtue of warrant issued by Samuel R. Maranes, judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 32, First Judicial Region, Agoo, La Union. Maranes set bail of P60,000 for the suspect’s temporary liberty.

Young man nabbed for rape

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A 17-year-old male was arrested here Tuesday for rape. Nabbed was Jumar Comisa Corrales, of Purok 5, Bulanao. Arrest was made after Mia Joy C. Oallares-Cawed, presiding judge of RTC, First Judicial Region, Branch 4, Baguio City issued warrant against him.

Man nabbed for estafa in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY – A resident of San Carlos Hieghts here was arrested Tuesday along Lower Session Road for estafa through falsification of public documents.  Suspect Bruce Mantias Becasen, 45, single  was nabbed after Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriano, presiding judge of MTCC, Branch 2, Baguio City issued warrant agasint him and setting bail of P36, 000 for his temporary liberty.

Woman nabbed for estafa

BAGUIO CITY – Cops arrested a certain Anselma Culiao Dacillio, 60 here Tuesday at her residence in 86, Navy Base for estafa.  Maria Clarita Casuga Tabin, presiding judge of MTC, Branch 4, Baguio City issued warrant earlier against her and set bail of P6, 000 for her temporary liberty.

 Call center agent nabbed

BAGUIO CITY – A call center agent was arrested here Tuesday for grave threats and maltreatment. The suspect identified as Aiko Abuan Eserio, 29, married was nabbed at their residence at no. 73 Lower Lourdes Subdivision.
This, after Ivan Kim B. Morales, presiding judge of RTC, Branch 59, Baguio City issued warrant against the suspect and set bail of P2,000.


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