Benguet mourns death of Rep. Fongwan; buried in Trinidad house compound

>> Tuesday, December 31, 2019

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Provincial folks mourned the passing of Congressman Nestor Bagtang Fongwan Sr. who was buried in his house compound  here in Barangay Puguis yesterday (Dec. 28). 
The remains of the late solon was earlier brought to the La Trinidad municipal gym Friday morning where tribute rites were held to honor him.
In the afternoon. his remains were brought to the nearby provincial capitol where rites were also held where his accomplishments and good deeds were cited by provincial officials. 
                La Trinidad Philippine Councilors League President and Benguet Board Member Nestor “Bobot” Fongwan Jr. earlier said his 68- year-old father died due to lingering illness.
 Fongwan Sr. was elected as councilor of La Trinidad in 1988 and served until 1992.
He was elected as the vice mayor from 1992-1995, where he served as acting mayor towards the end of his term and as mayor of La Trinidad from 1998-2007.
He served as three-term Governor of Benguet from 2007 to 2016.  He was serving his first term as the lone district representative of Benguet following his landslide win in the May 2019 elections when he died.
Fongwan made La Trinidad more popular around the world with the entry of the town to the Guinness Book of World Records for making the largest strawberry shortcake in the world in March 2004. The cake which served more than 10, 000 people weighed 622.24 kilograms. It highlighted strawberries as the main ingredient which is the One Town-One Product of the capital town.
During his stint as a governor, Benguet was awarded the Seal of Good Local Governance by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and topped the United Nations Development Program human development index report.
Benguet was also awarded with Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index award by the Department of Trade and Industry, Green Banner Award by the National Nutrition Council, Gawad Pamana ng Lahi and Seal of Good Housekeeping by the DILG, May Malaking Pag-angat sa Kaunlarang Pantao and May Mataas na Kaunlarang Pantao by the UNDP and the government of New Zealand, and a Philhealth award for having the most numbers of enrollees, exceeding the required universal coverage.
Known as the “Action Man of Benguet,” Fongwan Sr. had been active in public service particularly during calamities as he himself responds to the needs of affected people.
In 2009, Fongwan took the lead in the rescue and retrieval operations in one the province’s worst disasters when a massive landslide in Little Kibungan in Puguis, La Trinidad covered houses leaving more than a 70 dead.
After the tragic incident, Fongwan took actions to ensure that his province and constituents would be prepared and ready for calamities that would occur and that they would be more conscious of their environment. This also led to the strengthening of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils of the different local government units thru the conduct of various activities such as DRRM trainings, summits, drills and orientations for various audience including schools and offices to make then ready and prepared during disasters.
He advocated the improvement of farming in the province as well as made it easier for farmers to trade their goods linking market in the different areas in Metro Manila and other areas. He was also a strong environment advocate leading the protection of the various watersheds.
Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas remembers the late leader as person who takes actions on all problems that reaches him and even going the distance and personally doing things that would solve these problems.
Fongwan led the PDP Laban in the May 2019 elections with almost all their bets from the provincial governor down to municipal officials winning.
His fellow colleagues in Congress also took to social media messages for their late congressman.
Fongwan was vice chairman of three House committees at the time of his demise - agrarian reform, indigenous cultural communities and indigenous people, and natural resources. 
Among the bills he authored include an Act to terminate the collection of toll fees along Kennon Road, the act to increase the bed capacity of the Benguet General Hospital, the act making the position of Social Welfare and Development officer and Agriculturist mandatory in the municipal level and the conversion of various national high schools in the province.
Just recently, he joined the Cordillera lawmakers in filing House Bill 5687 or the act establishing the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera. He was a staunched advocate of Cordillera autonomy which he sees will help in the resource management and the sustainable development of Benguet and the Cordillera region.
He is survived by wife Priscilla and children Marie Rose, Nestor “Bobot” Jr., Marilyn, Ma. Theresa, and Marson. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)


5 dead in Cagayan Valley, 2 in La Union road accidents

Northern Luzon holidays death toll 

By Raymund Catindig and Eva Visperas

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – Five persons died and seven others were injured in road accidents in Cagayan Valley on Wednesday.
This, while a couple died while their two sons were injured when their motorcycle was hit by a bus in Barangay San Pablo in Balaoan La Union Monday night.
In the Cagayan incidents, police said a motorcycle driven by Lorenzo Infante, 27, collided with a Toyota Tamaraw in Barangay Victoria, Aglipay, Quirino.
Jay-jay Banigued, 27, and his companion Leonard Gonzales, 31, were racing against another motorcycle when their vehicles collided in Barangay Victoria, also in Aglipay.
The two fell from their motorcycle and were ran over by a Toyota Innova.
The driver of the other motorcycle, Jay-ar Ambatali, 28; his 10-month-old son Junior, and partner Analyn Santiago, 34, were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.
In Cagayan, Perfecto Martin, 61, died when his tricycle fell from the highway while avoiding an incoming vehicle in Barangay Sto. Domingo in Tuao town.
Martin’s son Lorenzo, 30; Felicidad, 83, and Ren-Ren, 2, also surnamed Martin, were injured.
In Isabela, a man who has yet to be identified died when his motorcycle rammed an electric post in Barangay Abut, Quezon town. His companion Daniel Jacob Baculyo, 17, remains unconscious in a hospital.
Meanwhile, in Balaoan, La Union, a couple died while their two sons were injured when their motorcycle was hit by a bus in Barangay San Pablo in this town Monday night.
Robert Laude was pronounced dead on arrival in a hospital, where his wife Edraline died while being treated.
Their sons, Patrick and Vinzon, whose ages were not immediately available, remained confined at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City.
Initial investigation showed the vehicles were both heading south when a Viron Transit bus rear-ended the motorcycle.


DOE cancels 3 Goldlink energy contracts over overlapping Asin plants

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY - The Dept. of Energy revoked three of the four renewable (hydro) energy service contracts (HSCs) granted to Goldlink Global Energy Corp. after establishing that the contract area overlaps with the facilities of the city-owned Asin mini-hydroelectric plants and the company "committed serious misrepresentation" in pursuing the contracts.
In a seven-page resolution signed Dec. 4 by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the DOE cancelled HSCs numbered 2014-01-364 for Goldlink's Sallapan project, 2014-01-365 for Nangalisan and 2013-05-249 in Tadiangan all in Tuba, Benguet.
The ruling favored the Baguio city government which in 2015 sought the annulment of the three HSCs along with that of Goldlink's Kanggas project numbered 2013-05-248 which however was earlier cleared by the DOE for being outside the Asin hydropower systems.
The city government represented by lawyer Isagani Liporada of the City Legal Office in the case contended that the HSCs all covered Asin River from which the city's three mini-plants source their water and therefore will cause adverse effects on the operation of the existing plants.
It charged Goldlink of "surreptitiously concealing from the DOE the existence of the Asin Plants within the areas subject of its application" to obtain the contracts.
Goldlink meanwhile maintained that the HSCs were valid and "separate and distinct" from the Asin plants as it also questioned the "legal personality" of the city in challenging their contract in view of the fact that the city had no HSC under its own name to operate the Asin plants.
However, the DOE established that the city "possesses legal personality to be a complainant and impugn the subject HSCs... considering (its) legal and economic interests over the Asin Plants..."
The DOE also proved the claim on overlapping facilities and the intent of Goldlink to misrepresent and mislead the department into approving the HSCs. 
"The lone weir of Tadiangan HSC (of Goldlink) overlaps with one of the weir sites for Asin Plant 1; the approved contract area for Tadiangan HSC was changed without prior DOE approval as determined from Goldlink's Feasibility Study where Goldlink proposed four weirs that overlap with the weirs of the existing Asin Plant 1;
"The awardee Sallapan HSC of Goldlink overlaps with the weirs of Asin Plant 2; and the awarded Nangalisan HSC overlaps with Asin Plant 3."
The DOE said that when the company was confronted about the possibility of an overlap, Goldlink belied it with the assurance that there is a considerable distance that will make the two facilities "co-exist."
"Based on the above findings,  it was confirmed that Goldlink's representations were made with the sole intent to mislead the DOE... Being among the prospective bidders in (city's) procurement process for the operation of the Asin plants, Goldlink cannot feign ignorance (of the possibility of overlapping and) we find that having full knowledge of the existence of the Asin plants, Goldlink fell short of the basic and generally accepted tenet in human relations(honesty and good faith)," the DOE noted.
"(The subject three HSCs) are hereby cancelled and revoked, the same being void ab initio having been issued over an area that is not free and open for award under (Republic Act 9513) and in view of Goldlink's misrepresentation that they can co-exist with the existing Asjn Hydropower facilities.., when in truth and in fact, they overlap and are in conflict with each other," the DOE said.


SP junks ‘unexplained wealth’ case vs Santiago town mayor Miranda

By Mario Supnad

SANTIAGO, Ilocos Sur- The case over “unexplained wealth” filed against incumbent Mayor Josefino “Boy” Miranda of this town had been dismissed for lack of merit.
In an interview inside the house of Miranda by this writer, he said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) unanimously dismissed few months ago his case not only for lack of merit but also in the absence of complainant or witnesses.
“Dinismis nga sigida ti SP ta awan met ti agrekreklamo,” (The SP dismissed it immediately for lack of complainant), Miranda said last week.
The unexplained wealth issue against Miranda gained media’s attention after an unknown complainant wrote a letter and filed it before the SP, and had it furnished the Ombudsman, a government agency investigating corrupt public officials, Commission on Audit and Dept. of Interior and Local Government.
The DILG also conducted its own investigation.
Among the assets being questioned by the complainant were the Santiago Cove Hotel in Sabangan Beach and service vehicles among others owned allegedly by the mayor.
“I loaned P20million from a bank for the financing of the hotel while a number of our vehicles are under the names of my children, and not mine,” the mayor said.
Miranda is now on his second third and last term or 18 years (if he completes his last term) as mayor and had been vice mayor for six years, the longest serving top local officials in this town.
“Of course, since from the start, I was optimistic that the case against me would be dismissed due to lack of complainant,” he said.
“It will be a bad precedent for other mayors if they (SP, Ombudsman) would give credence to such unknown, unsubstantiated cases,” Miranda added.
The unidentified complainant failed to show up before SP when the board members summoned him to shed light on the complaints.
The SP members dismissed the case unanimously.
The Ombudsman can initiate investigation even an unsigned and unknown complaint filed before the graft government court.


P6-M worth of cocaine found in Isabela shore

By Liezle Basa

DIVILACAN, Isabela -- Police recovered more or less one kilogram of cocaine with an estimated value of P 6 million along the shorelines here of Sitio Dituwangan, Barangay Bicobian, Divilacan on Dec.  22.
P/Col. Mariano Rodriguez, director of the Isabela Police Provincial Office, said that fishermen recovered one plastic bag wrapped in black rubberized plastic bag with brown packaging tape containing white compact powder substance placed inside a transparent plastic bag weighing more or less 1 kilogram while fishing along the shores of Bicobian.
The recovered item was immediately turned over to the personnel of Naval Intelligence and Security Group -Northern Luzon (NISG-NL).
Jomar Conception, chemist of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA RO2) confirmed that the item is cocaine.
Brig. Gen. Angelito A. Casimiro, RD PRO2, attributed to the good partnership between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the community, the successful recovery of the cocaine.
He commended PNP Isabela, the Philippine Navy stationed in Aurora, and PDEA RO2 for their vigilance and hard work.
In February 2018, a blue container with 18 tightly packed plastic bags of cocaine was found floating near Barangay Dipudo in Divilacan, Isabela by a fisherman who turned it over to authorities. The recovered items were confirmed to be cocaine with an estimated worth of P79 million.


Law to rename Bontoc roads with local terms pushed

By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Sangguniang Bayan passed in its first reading an ordinance renaming various municipal roads or streets using the Bontoc terminologies. 
Sponsored by Sangguniang Bayan member Jerome Tudlong, Jr., the council recognized the need to name the streets of Bontoc with the clamour of the public for street directions.  
Bontoc is where most transactions takes place considering that it is the seat of the municipal and provincial governments, national government agency provincial offices; and the center of commerce, trade, and education.
This is also in consideration of the increasing number of tourists visiting the municipality that need the Bontoc Street Map. Thus, the naming of streets and putting-up signages is a great help to the public in locating directions. 
In the proposed ordinance, the road from Ngelangel Building (fronting the national road) to the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) at Loc-ong is to be named Akfab Street. “Akfab” is a wild plant with sweet-sour tasting fruit while its fresh flower serves as vegetable and a flavoring condiment when dried.
The street from the Cooperative Bank of Mountain Province to the Mosomos residence is to be called Fakeg Street. “Fakeg” is a sweet-tasting black berry-like wild fruit. 
The road stretch from the Solang to Felwa residence is proposed to be named Khayab Street. “Khayab” is a Bontoc term for guava fruit. 
The street covering the Bontoc Commercial Center to Pancho residence is to be named Sangi Street. “Sangi” is a native backpack usually woven from rattan. 
The road from Bayle Building to Pooten Building is to be called Khiyag Street. “Khiyag” is a native food container woven from rattan. 
The road circumnavigating the Girl Scout of the Philippines Building to the Provincial Government Building to the Philippine National Bank is to be named Appong Street. “Appong” is a string of beads worn by Bontok women to hold back their hair. 
The street from Mrs. Mary Tudlong residence (fronting the national road) down to the Eyeb is Layad Street. “Layad” is a Bontoc term for love. 
The stretch of road from the Provincial Jail Junction going down to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) compound is to be named Ayyoweng Street. “Ayyoweng” is a Bontoc term for native chants. 
The street from Post Office to Pattig is named Bishop Claver Road. 
In an interview, Tudlong said that the Sangguniang Bayan is open to any suggestion or recommendations from the public in renaming various municipal roads or streets using Bontoc terminologies.


19 events set for 25th Panagbenga Festival

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Nineteen traditional events were set by the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) for the 25th edition of Panagbenga, popularly known as the Baguio Flower Festival, that will run Feb. 1 to March 8, 2020.Organizers said the upcoming staging of the Panagbenga will be a purely private sector-led undertaking themed  “Panagbenga 2020: Blooming Through the Years,’ which showcases the gains of the flower festival and its projected gains as the city’s major crowd-drawing activity.
The festivities for this edition of the Panagbenga will kick off Feb. 1, 2020 with the Grand Opening Day Parade featuring the 16 street-dancing contingents from the elementary and secondary divisions from the DILG-CAR rotonda along Upper Session Road up to the Baguio Athletic Bowl where the elimination round of the street-dancing competition will determine the finalists of the street-dancing competition followed by the opening of the Baguio Blooms Exposition and landscaping at the Baguio Convention Center parking grounds which will be capped by the initial fireworks display.
Judging of the school-based landscaping competition is on Feb. 12-15, 2020 followed by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumni homecoming on Feb. 14-16, 2020.
On Feb. 16, 2020, activities for the day include the Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio, also referred to as the Family Fair, simultaneous with several events such as the Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom, Panagbenga Open Kite Flying Competition, the second edition of the Panagbenga Cultural Show,  with another fireworks display to end the day.
Dance enthusiasts will have the chance to showcase their talents at the Panagbenga Cultural Dance Competition on February 22, 2020 simultaneous with the annual Flower Tee Golf Tournament.
The much-awaited Panagbenga grand street-dance competition and parade will be on February 29, 2020 followed by the Grand float Competition on March 1, 2020.
Panagbenga sponsors will be featured during the scheduled Sponsors Day on Feb. 29 to March 1, 2020.
Session Road, the city’s main thoroughfare, will be closed to vehicular traffic for a week to convert it into a promenade with sidewalk cafes among other flower-inspired products on March 2-8, 2020.
The traditional Pony Boys Day at the Wright Park area will be on March 7, 2020 followed by the traditional closing ceremonies and grand fireworks display on March 8, 2020.
The annual flower festival was founded in 1995 to help draw in visitors to the city.
Panagbenga is a Kankanaey term for the blossoming of flowers and an apt name for the festival as it is held at the time of the year when many flowers, both cultivated and wild, and even fruit trees, bloom and where the supply of flowers is abundant.


SP okay for hazard pay of Bontoc workers pushed

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Sangguniang Bayan members are crossing their fingers that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will give its green light for the Bontoc Local Government Unit to grant hazard pay to its garbage collectors and pipefitters/ plumbers (tubero). 
Sponsored by Sangguniang Bayan member Jerome Tudlong, Jr., the council approved the ordinance granting hazard pay to regular employees of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) and Municipal Waterworks. 
In an interview, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey remarked that the local government has to protect its workers and provide them an equitable compensation.
The mayor pointed out that it is only when garbage collection draws to a halt, and there is a shortage on the supply of water or there is no supply of water due to unforeseen circumstances that the public fully appreciates the cardinal importance of garbage collectors and tuberos.
“Our garbage collectors and tuberos are performing duties and responsibilities that are hazardous to their health and they deserve to be granted with hazard pay allowed under existing rules and regulations,” the mayor added. 
Similarly, the Sangguniang Bayan recognized the contribution of the garbage collectors and the Municipal Waterworks personnel of the risks attached to their invaluable service. 
In the ordinance, it is proposed that a maximum amount of P1, 000 per month shall be granted to all qualified personnel of the MENRO and Municipal Waterworks. 
The ordinance covers only personnel of MENRO and Municipal Waterworks directly engaged in jobs with high risks of exposure to health hazards, and personnel infirmed whose condition was due to the said hazardous works who; however, are functional but reassigned to other duties and tasks. Also, the hazard pay shall be equal or across–the–board to all qualified MENRO and Municipal Waterworks personnel regardless of rank or salary grade. 
               Personnel who are not entitled to hazard pay are those assigned to administrative works in the office; those who are on leave of absence for the five consecutive days of the month; and those who incurred unauthorized leave of absence.
Once approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the fund to implement the ordinance shall be included by the Local Chief Executive in every budget year, in the Annual Appropriation under concerned agencies names. 
As of press time, the ordinance is still again for review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan after a motion for reconsideration was submitted by the municipal government.


Baguio gov’t not interested to host CARAA in 2021, 2022

Budget for 2020 event reduced to P10-M 

By Dexter See

BAGUIO CITY – The city government signified it is not interested to host the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) in 2021 and 2022 to allow other city governments in the region to have a chance to host the regional sports competition.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said the city government will no longer accept default decisions by the regional and district offices of the Dept. of Education declaring Baguio City as the host of future regional sports competitions if there are no local governments interested in hosting the CARAA.
This, as the Dept. of Education-Division of City Schools submitted a revised budget for the city’s hosting of the 2020 CARAA that significantly reduced the earlier proposed budget of P15 million to at least P10 million.
The revised budget proposal was submitted by the education department to the city legislative body for possible consideration in the ongoing budget deliberations of the P2.255 billion annual budget of the city government next year to allow the agency, in coordination with concerned offices of the city, to prepare for the annual regional sports competition in the city.
Earlier, the education department requested the city government to appropriate some P15.5 million from the city’s annual budget next year to defray the expenses that will be incurred by the city in the hosting of the CARAA.
However, some city officials questioned the expenses on the perks, give away items, souvenir items for concerned education and city government officials, among others, and requested the education department to review and revise the itemized budget and reduce some of the expenses considering that the city needs the funds for its other priority projects.
Supposedly, Apayao will be the host of the 2020 CARAA for the second time after the provincial government hosted the 2019 regional sports competition, but the present administration decided to back out from hosting the said competition for the provincial government to focus its available resources on the celebration of the province’s 25th or silver anniversary in February 2020 right which coincides with the scheduled CARAA sports competitions.
                 Baguio City usually serves as the host to other sports delegations from the different parts of the region if there are no local governments that bid to host the sports competition as it can afford to allocate a portion of its available funds to conduct the annual sports event in the region.
                After the education department declared Baguio City as the host of the 2020 CARAA, the education department requested the city to allocate some P15.5 million to defray the expenses needed for the hosting of the annual sports competition whose events can be held in different sports venues around the city.
The city mayor said the city already outlined its priority programs, projects and activities for the next 3 years to build a better Baguio and its needs all the available funds to achieve this the benefit of the present and future inhabitants.
The CARAA serves as an avenue for the selection of deserving athletes from the different parts of the Cordillera who will represent the region in the 2020 Palarong Pambansa in Davao city by April or May next year.
More than 7,000 athletes and sports officials from the eight divisions in the region will be joining the 2020 CARAA sports competitions with the successful medalists representing the region in the different regional, national and international sports competitions.
                Aside from the P15.5 million to be provided by the city government to allow the staging of the CARAA in the city next year, the education department will provide a P600,000 counterpart to defray expenses needed in hosting the regional sports competition.
From 2015 to 2017, Baguio city hosted the CARAA for 3 consecutive years followed by Abra in 2018 and Apayao during the staging of the 2019 regional sports competition which is supposedly conducted around the different local governments comprising the CAR.


Sec revokes Robocash’s license for operating without authority

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stripped Robocash Finance Corp.’s of authority to operate as a financing company for running several branches without the necessary license.
The Corporate Governance and Finance Department (CGFD) of the SEC issued the order of revocation on December 12, 2019 after establishing that Robocash violated the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 8556, or the Financing Company Act of 1998 (FCA IRR).
In the course of its monitoring procedure, the CGFD found that Robocash operated several branches without the requisite CA.
The findings were validated through onsite audits on March 7, 2019 and July 5, 2019. Robocash also confirmed the same during a hearing on September 20, 2019 and through various letters to the SEC.
The CGFD on Nov. 13 issued a formal charge against Robocash and ordered the company to show cause why its CA should not be revoked for violation of the Financing Company Act of 1998.
In its verified answer, Robocash admitted to establishing and operating branches without the necessary CA. The company, however, argued that it did not maliciously violate Section 6(a) of the FCA IRR by putting up branches without the necessary CA.
The CGFD found no merit in the company’s defense, saying: “It may be well to note that Respondent was able to secure thirty-two (32) CAs for thirty-two (32) separate branches. Thus, it is even more appalling that despite being aware of the requirement of the law, Respondent knowingly and willingly committed repeated violations thereof.”
Under Section 14 of the FCA IRR, the SEC may suspend or revoke an erring financing company’s CA after proper notice and hearing. The Commission may also impose a basic fine of not less than P10,000.00 plus P100.00 for each day of continuing violation, but no more than P100,000.00, and other sanctions within its power.
The CGFD initially imposed monetary penalties against Robocash for violation of Section 6(a) of the FCA IRR. The Department issued the corresponding orders on payment of penalty on November 5, 6 and 7, 2019 for the company’s first, second and third violation of the said rule.
“And, while it is true that the Commission may impose penalties other than revocation of CA, considering the number of times the Respondent knowingly and willingly committed the same violation, the Department is constrained to rule, as it is hereby ruled, that the revocation of Respondent’s CA is warranted under the circumstances,” the CGFD noted.
“As a final note, while the Respondent’s goal of catering to the needs of the underserved is laudable, it must always be remembered that compliance with the provisions of the law is foremost. The Department will not hesitate to impose the appropriate penalties in cases of violation, even the extreme penalty of revocation of the Certificate of Authority.”
The SEC has revoked the primary registration of 2,081 lending and financing companies without the necessary CA, in an ongoing crackdown on illegal lending and financing activities.
The Commission has likewise revoked the CA of two lending companies. Among them is Moola Lending Corporation for violations of Republic Act No. 3765, or the Truth in Lending Act, and of the terms and conditions of its CA under Republic Act No. 9474, or the Lending Company Regulation Act, and its IRR.
The SEC also issued cease and desist orders against 48 online lending applications for operating without incorporating and securing CA. More information is available in the Lending & Financing Companies page on the SEC website. (SEC release)


Benguet honors its SEA Games athletes

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet-- The provincial government honored its athletes who participated in the recently concluded 30th South East Asian (SEA) Games hosted  and won by the Philippines.
At least 16 athletes from the province of Benguet  contributed to the medal haul that made the country as the overall champion of the 30th SEA Games  which carried the slogan “We win as One.”
At the provincial capitol on Monday, Benguet officials led by Gov. Melchor Diclas and Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis awarded certificates of recognition and cash incentives to the athletes who  brought home medals in their respective sports events of the SEA Games.   
Present were Jerry Olsim who snatched a gold medal in kickboxing, Ariel Lee Lampacan who also got a gold medal in Muay Thai,  Muay Thai silver medalists Jenelyn Olsim and Rusha Mae Bayacsan , and bronze medalist Jedd Andre Kim in the men’s Sambo combat.
Other athletes honored were gold medalists Jason Baucas in wrestling, Crisamuel Delfin in arnis, and Gina Iniong in kickboxing. Silver medalists Irendin Lepatan and Islay Erika Bomogao in Muay Thai and broze medalists Daniel Parantac in Wushu and Karol Maguide in kickboxing.
Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao who served as coach of the kickboxing team was also given recognition by the provincial government.
Benguet sports coordinator Deanmark Monang said that the list of athletes who were honored is still being updated as many of the  athletes have not yet come back home.
Diclas said the Benguet athletes showed their prowess competing with the best athletes from the Southeast Asian nations  bringing  honor not only to the province but the whole country as well.  This makes the people of Benguet very proud, he said.
The governor said the provincial government will be giving back to the athletes by further strengthening its support.
Completion of the Benguet Sports Complex and other sports facilities in the province will also be prioritized to help in the development of striving athletes who will compete in the local, national and even international sports events in the future, he said.
At least P100 million was allotted for completion of the Benguet Sports Complex Gymnasium which is the venue for most of the sports activities of the province and even hosting the annual regional sports meet (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)


‘Too many private cars worsening Baguio traffic’

By Jessa Mardy Samidan

BAGUIO CITY – This tourism resort’s narrow roads are being constricted by too many private vehicles causing heavy vehicular traffic almost on a daily basis even as the city government is using experimental rerouting schemes to address this.
This was the assessment of Maj.Oliver Panabang, head of the Baguio City Police Office’s Traffic Management Unit during a recent conference of the Land Traffic and Transportation Management Committee (LTTMC).
Since existing roads have reached expansion limit, Panabang said the worsening vehicular traffic situation may continually be experienced due to the continuous population increase.
“In my own opinion, we will not be able to solve the traffic problem of Baguio in months or in a year but we can work hand in hand to at least introduce specific projects, programs and policies to ease traffic problem,” Panabang said.
He lamented the lack of intervention from the national government to reduce the number of vehicles by regulating the lifespan of private cars. “We have a national law regulating the lifespan of public utility vehicles but none for private vehicles. Old private cars are being sold to those in the provinces but since road expansion has a limit, soon traffic will spill-over to the rural areas,” Panabang said.
The city’s major thoroughfares cater to over 64,000 registered private vehicles in Baguio as reported to Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
About 5,000 registered public utility jeepneys also ply the city streets aside from the 3,200 registered taxis.
Of the major roads in the central business district, Abanao Street caters to over 64,000 passing vehicles daily while 34,000 or more passes through Harrison Road and 30,000 vehicles goes by Magsaysay Avenue.
With all these vehicles going to the CBD on peak hours, traffic is inevitable. Panabang recommends to the LTTMC the ban of private vehicles in the CBD but he was amenable that this may be opposed by the public.
The newly reconstituted LTTMC chaired by the mayor and co-chaired by the Councilor Benny Bomogao as head of the city council committee on public utilities, transportation and traffic legislation is currently working on the review of existing local traffic laws and regulations at the same time reviewing proposals on traffic management.
Rodrigo Adolfo, Supervising Administrative Officer of newly created Traffic Management Unit under the City Engineering Office serving as secretariat of the LTTMC, said the mayor gave a marching order for the creation of a Traffic Management Master Plan with specific actions and operational programs to address Baguio’s traffic problem.


Kalinga soldier shot dead in Isabela NPA encounter

PINUKPUK, Kalinga -- A Cordilleran soldier who sacrificed his life for the country was laid to rest here in his hometown last week.
Army Cpl. Adonis Valera, a Scout Ranger and a member of the 86th Infantry Battalion, was shot in an encounter between elements of the New People’s Army in Barangay Villa Rey, Echague, Isabela on Dec. 14.
Philippine Army 5th Infantry Division spokesperson Maj. Noriel Tayaban said that the 86th IB  responded to reports of extortion activities in Barangay Villa Rey by alleged members of the New Peoples Army from the Regional Sentro de Gravidad Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) that led to fire fight.
The encounter that ensued between the government forces and a still unidentified number of rebels lasted for more than 20 minutes.  Unfortunately, Valera  was seriously hit while Corporal Harold Ganagan of Tinglayan, Kalinga and Fajaro Manuel of Paracelis, Mountain Province were wounded.
 Valera was  among the heroes of the Marawi siege that fought against the communist terrorists for the liberation of Marawi in 2017. He was a recipient of the Gold Cross Medal from President Rodrigo Duterte for his gallantry of action during the Marawi siege.
Tayaban said that the Army intensified the military operations in Cagayan Valley Region in anticipation of possible terrorism attack by the NPA rebels to the military and police camps,  communication installations and heavy equipment on  the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26.
Maj. Gen. Pablo Lorenzo, 5th Infantry Division Commanding General,  hailed the bravery and gallantry of the Kalinga warrior during a funeral mass ceremony held at the Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela before he was brought to his hometown.
He said Valera is a true warrior and a full blooded Startrooper, who paid the ultimate sacrifice by dedicating his life for the liberation of the people of Isabela against the CTGs.
“The people of Isabela and your fellow Startroopers will always indebted to you. Rest in peace, hero.” (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)


DOH pushes progs to boost health care

BAGUIO CITY -- With the Implementing Rules and Regulation  of  the Universal Health Care law already set along with the medium – term blue print Formula One (F1) Plus for Health,  the Department of Health(DOH) in convergence with all stakeholders, gears up  for a  stronger and healthier Philippines.
To enjoin Cordillera stakeholders to such vision, DOH – CAR highlighted this in this year’s regional health forum, Am – among for Health Plus 2019, “Cordillera to DOH Arangkada Tungo sa Universal Health Care, Kasama Ka!”  held at Crown Legacy Hotel here last Dec. 5 and 6.
 USEC Myrna Cabotaje of the DOH Public Health Services Team, in her inspirational message during the forum, outlined that with UHC and F1 Plus, the health department primary goals are to bring better health outcomes, more responsive health system and an equitable health care financing for the Filipino people.
 It is the government’s shared vision of ensuring that every Juan and Juana will have a healthy home, school and workplace which allow him or her to choose the healthful option matched to a primary provider team working together to ensure that care is delivered at the right place and at the right time; and that their health spending is predictable and will not force them to financial ruin because adequate and effective safety nets are in place, she explained.
 As she assured the national government and DOH’s strong commitment in stepping up to deliver  not only a higher quality of healthcare but also a higher quality of life, Cabotaje also called  for continuing partnership with Cordillera health stakeholders in bringing the UHC vision into reality.
During the Am - among, USEC Mario Villaverde of the DOH Health Policy and Systems Development Team, presented to the general overview of the Universal Health Care and its IRR.
For regional health updates, DOH – CAR and the Provincial DRRM Council of Benguet, through the Provincial health Office, presented the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management – Health (DRRM – H) System for Resilience in Benguet, the first for the region. DOH and Philhealth also launched the Cordillera Senior Citizen Handbook along with the memorandum of agreement signing for its pilot use in the city of Baguio.
 The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center as Cordillera’s Apex Hospital also provided an update on their operations and on – going upgrading/development projects.
 Closing the forum is the signing of the participating regional health stakeholders for the Pledge of Commitment to the Universal Health Care. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR


Baguio gov’t stops Maharlika building construction works

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CIY – The city government ordered the management of the Maharlika Livelihood Center to cease and desist from pursuing the construction activities it has started within the said structure because of the absence of the necessary permits from the concerned offices, among other safety issues.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said the city government also ordered the management to remove all the construction materials it stockpiled in the said structure in compliance with the stoppage order to prevent any unnecessary incident that would pose a serious threat to the safety of the tenants and the public.
He added the new management team appointed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar to take over the continuous operation of the Maharlika Livelihood Center already paid a courtesy call to him and plans and programs on how to improve the facility were discussed.
The new Maharlika management team is expected to take over the operation of the government-owned structure at the start of next year to replace the present management team whose contracts have not been renewed by the new leadership of the agriculture department in the face of controversies that had been levelled against them by tenants.
Earlier, the management of the Maharlika Livelihood Center attempted to construct a mezzanine within the structure without the required permits from the city government that prompted the affected tenants to file a complaint with concerned offices of the city government leading to the  issuance of the necessary cease and desist order against the implementation of the project because safety issues uncovered by the technical personnel that conducted an inspection on the facility.
Secretary Dar also informed him it will only be in 2025 that the administration and management of the Maharlika Livelihood Center will be turned over to the city government considering the 50-year contract that was entered into by the city government and the developer of the facility sometime in April 1975 as per available records.
At present, the Maharlika Livelihood Center is under the direct supervision of the agriculture department’s Human Settlements Development Corporation (HSDC), one of the government’s subsidiary corporation.
The Maharlika Livelihood Center was constructed by the private developers commissioned by the national government over a parcel of city-owned land right to the heart of the city through a  50-year lease for the put up of the facility with the condition that the same will be turned over to the city upon the lapse of the duration of the contract and that the same will be owned by the city.


No Room in the inn

>> Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jun Malazo

Beside New Year’s Eve, Christmas is considered to be the most celebrated holiday in the world.  It is celebrated mostly by Christians, but somehow it has found its way across many cultures and religions in varying styles and observations. 
The basic story of Christmas is known to millions of people.  Thanks to children’s books, movies, and other forms of media, almost everyone in the world knows the basic story of Jesus’ birth.  Christmas productions from amateur to professional levels are produced year after year, and yet the story never seems to get old. 
For many people, the Christmas season means added stress to an already hectic schedule.  This reminds me of what it may have been like for Joseph and Mary during the time of Jesus’ birth—the very first Christmas.  The narrative that tells us about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus is found in Luke 2:1-7 which says:
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."  (Luke 2:1-7, KJV)
You have probably seen or read about the above event many times.  Mary and Joseph traveled a great distance because of the government’s law for census and taxation.  During this time Mary was “great with child.”  The journey was not easy for them especially for Mary who was about to give birth.  Joseph had to be careful as they travelled.  He had to travel at a steady pace or risk the health of his young wife and soon-to-be-born baby son.  This meant that by the time they reached their destination, every space for accommodation had already been taken.  Hence, the famous line “No room in the inn.” 
Many years ago I came across the following true story.  It is a story, though light-hearted, that teaches a great truth about having room for Christ in our lives during Christmas:
In the 1966 issue of Guideposts magazine there appeared a story by Dina Donahue.
She said that whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little Midwestern town, someone is sure to mention the name of Wally Purling. She said that Wally's performance in that little town's annual performance of the Nativity play had become legend, and that the old-timers who had been in the audience that night never tired of recalling exactly what happened.
Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth--but Wally was slow and had difficulty keeping up. He was big and rather clumsy, too, but he was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he. But even though they liked him, it would irritate them when Wally would want to play ball with them, or to participate in any game where winning was important--and they would usually find a way to keep him out.
Wally would hang around anyway, though--not sulking, just hoping. He nearly always had a smile, and was always anxious to help any of his classmates, regardless of how they treated him. He looked out for the underdog. Sometimes, if the older boys chased the younger ones away, Wally would say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother.”
Wally had his heart set on being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year. However, the play's director, Miss Lumbard, felt that she needed to give Wally a part with not too many lines to learn, so she told Wally that she was giving him an important role--that of the Innkeeper. She also felt that Wally's size would lend forcefulness to his refusal of a room to Joseph.
A huge crowd gathered that night to see all of the children in their various costumes, with all of the extravagant props. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of that night than Wally Purling. In fact, as he stood in the wings he was so fascinated with the drama that Miss Lumbard had to watch carefully to be sure he didn't wander on-stage before his cue.
But then came the time when Joseph appeared, slowly and tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the inn-keeper, swinging the door open, responded at that point just as he had been told--brusquely he said, "What do you want?”
Joseph answered, "We seek lodging." Looking straight ahead, Wally spoke awkwardly but vigorously. He said, "Seek it elsewhere. The Inn is filled.”
Joseph said, "Sir, we have asked in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary." But again, Wally looked properly stern and said, "There is no room in this inn for you."
Now Joseph was pleading. He said, "Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”
At that point, for the first time the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. There was a long pause--long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.
The prompter whispered from the wings, "No! Begone!" Stiffly and somewhat automatically, Wally repeated the words: "No! Begone.”
Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, she laid her head on his shoulder and the two of them started to move away. But Wally the Innkeeper didn't follow the script at that point. He didn't go back inside his Inn. Rather, he stood there in the doorway watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow furrowed with concern, and there were tears in his eyes.
And suddenly that Christmas pageant became different from all the others. Wally called out, "Don't go, Joseph! Bring Mary back!" And as a big, bright smile creased his face, Wally said, "You can have my room.”
Some people in the audience thought that the pageant had been ruined. But many, many others felt it was the most meaningful and heart-warming of all the Christmas pageants they had ever seen.
Wally’s “mistake” should be the attitude of every believer in Christ.  He did not reject Mary and Joseph but rather sacrificed his own comforts so that they could have room in the inn.  The Christmas season is a special time when we set aside time to worship and reflect upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But worship and sacrifice are inseparable.   Sacrifice is the natural outflow of genuine worship.  In other words, if we are truly worshipping Christ then we must be willing to sacrifice our comfort zones for God.  This is exactly what the story above is teaching us.
               The Scriptures were not specific as far as how many inns Joseph and Mary went to trying to get accommodations before they settled in a stable.  However, I have to wonder, if the people had known Who that baby was that was soon to be born, if they would have made sacrifices so that the Messiah would have had a place to be born into this world.  I believe that God the Father could have made it so that His Son would have a room to be born in, but God never forces Himself on us. 
Have you made room for Jesus in your heart?  The Bible says, ”Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me"  (Revelation 3:20, KJV).  Jesus never forces Himself in but rather waits for us to invite Him into our lives.  Sadly, there are many today that claim to be Christians and yet, do not have any desire to live for the Lord.  This Christmas season, and for the rest of the year, let us make sure that we give Jesus room in our lives. (The author can be reached at


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