DepEd Mt Prov heads sued for "violating" SALN

>> Sunday, March 17, 2019

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA Mountain Province -- Two heads of the Dept. of Education- Mountain Province  were charged for not filing their Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) and not declaring their assets in violation of Republic Act 6713  Section 8  in relation to Section 7 of RA 3019 of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
DepEd provincial superintendent Sally Ullalim and Sagada National High School principal SIxto Daluyen Jr. and were charged for alleged violation of said laws in complaints filed at the Office of the Ombudsman. .
Based on certification from the records officer of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, no available SALN was on file for Daluyen Jr for the years 2010, 2011 and 2014.
RA 6713 provides that “public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under 18 years of age living in their households.”
Records from the Office of the Ombudsman revealed that in his SALN for 2008,  
Daluyen Jr allegedly did not disclose his real properties particularly that of a residential lot in Batalao, Sagada inherited in 1998, a house constructed in Batalao, Sagada in 1995 and a house constructed in Baguio City in 1998.
In the same manner Daluyen Jr allegedly also did not disclose his real properties/ assets in his SALN for 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 as required in Section 7 of RA 3019 which provides for a true, detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities.
 RA 3019 provides that every public officer shall prepare a “true detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year.”
In the same development, it was revealed by the records officer of the Office of the Ombudsman that Ullalim had no available SALN for years 2010, 2014 and 2017.
Also, in her SALN for 2008 and 2009, Ullalim did not disclose her real properties acquired on or before 2009 particularly that of a house constructed at Guinzadan Sur, Bauko in 1988, another house constructed at Guinzadan in 2004 and a lot inherited in 1986.
A public officer or employee found to have failed to file his or her SALN in accordance with law is penalized with dismissal from service together with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examinations


165 fires raze Cordi forests; ‘BFP lacks tools, training’

Fire burns mountain near Philex Mines 

By PNA and Ronamee Galangco

BAGUIO CITY – Lack of training and equipment of fire fighters in the Bureau of Fire Protection is hampering the government agency in fighting forest fires, BFP officials said even as fire engulfed around 10 hectares of forest at Sitio Pukis, Ampucao in Itogon, Benguet around 10 a.m. Wednesday near the open pit of Philex Mines.
Local firemen, Philex Fire Brigade and volunteers tried to stop the fire but it razed vegetation going downhill up to Bomolo of Philex Mines and slowly subsided after burning around 10 hectares of forest.
The fire was stopped by rain around 5 p.m. that day. No person was injured during the incident.
This, as BFP and Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources officials in the Cordillera on Tuesday said 165 fire incidents have been recorded from Jan. 1 to March 12 this year, which led to the destruction of 797 hectares of forest lands.
Senior Supt. Sofia Mendoza, BFP-Cordillera regional director, said out of the 165 fire incidents, 122 were grass and forest fires, 36 structural fire incidents with 27 of them being residential and seven “other” fires.
The BFP estimated the cost of damage due to fire incidents at P20.94 million.
Meanwhile, Augusto Lagon, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera assistant regional director for technical services, said the 122 grass and forest fires had an estimated damage of P4.31 million.
Lagon said 704.23 hectares of natural forests and 92.96 hectares of plantation forests have been destroyed due to “kaingin” or slash and burn farming, arson, indiscriminate throwing of cigarette butts, unattended burning of garbage, and campers who are unable to control the fire from their food burners.
Lagon said most of the forest fires occurred in Benguet involving 683.4 hectares; 88.8 hectares in Kalinga; and 24.95 hectares in Mountain Province.
In a separate interview, Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) chief Carlos Arida Sr. said based on their assessment, as a result of the aerial survey on March 8, the forest fires were correlated to farming.
“Kasi kung makikita mo ang start ng fire nasa tuktok pababa na parang ang purpose as expansion ng agricultural farms (If you can see, the fire started at the top of the mountain going down which indicates that they are expanding their agricultural farms),” Arida said.
He said filing a case is not feasible due to the difficulty of looking for witnesses.
Arida, however, said they have a case in Mankayan where they caught the perpetrator and the case was amicably settled. The perpetrator paid a fine amounting to the cost of the reforestation of the burned area.
Arida said they have recorded 19 forest fires in all municipalities of Benguet.
He said the fire in January 2018 in Mt. Pulag, which was caused by the uncontrolled fire from the cooking equipment of a camper, is still being heard in court.
He said the parents of the accused in the criminal case sought for the settlement of the administrative case and was fined the amount of P53,900 as a compromise agreement.
The fire destroyed around 23,600 hectares at the summit area of the mountain.
The DENR closed the area for about six months to allow the grass to grow again, preventing hikers from going up to the summit. Campers are only allowed up to the second camp site.
Mt. Pulag has become popular because of the sea of clouds seen by mountain hikers in the area.
In Baguio City, Fire Chief Insp. Roberto Aragon said due to the inaccessibility of forest fire areas, it took at least three days to suppress recent fires completely.
He also added that the techniques and equipment used by BFP personnel are designed to fight structural fires.
However, Fire Fighters of Christ, a non-government organization, is now training BOF personnel here to be better equipped and trained to handle future fire incidents.
Based on the statistics given by Aragon and submitted to the BFP, there were a total of 77 fire incidents in Baguio City,  54 of which were forest fires, 12 grass fires, 8 residential fires, 2 non-residential fires, and one vehicular fire incident.
Damage to properties of these fires was pegged at P2 million. -- PNA


Baac farm caretaker shoots peer dead

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A drinking spree between four caretakers of a farm here turned deadly when one shot the other dead Tuesday around 8:30 p.m.
A police report said the incident happened at the Baac Farm in Callagdao, Bulanao wherein victim was identified as Joe Dugyawe, 45, married of Purok 5, Barangay Gobgob, of this city.
The victim with his two co-caretakers including the suspect, Sylvestre Camiso, of of Banneng, Callaccad, Tabuk were having a drinking spree when the victim left the two of his peers and went to the kitchen for  dinner together with two new caretakers of said farm.
While eating the suspect said he still wanted to continue drinking and get another bottle of liquor but Dugyawe tried to prevent Camiso from drinking that made that got the latter irked.
The victim went out from the kitchen but he was followed by the suspect and shot him once at his right shoulder. The suspect thenfled the farm. 
Police are still trying to locate the suspect. Recovered from the crime scene was one spent shell of M16 riffle. The cadaver of the victim was brought to Tampco Funeral Parlor.


Tourists, visitors banned at Benguet forest reserve

BAGUIO CITY-- Members of the Santo Tomas Forest Reserve Management Council (STFRMC) agreed Tuesday to improve enforcement of the court-issued permanent environment protection order (PEPO) preventing human activity like entry of tourists inside the reservation within this city and Tuba, Benguet.
 “We have now a strengthened checkpoint with the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). More than 1,700 vehicles were prevented entry to Mt. Santo Tomas from January to March as reported by the Tuba police,” Carlos Arida Sr., Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said during a meeting of the task force.
"That’s how serious. Kung hindi natin siya mamu-monitor at mare-regulate, there will come a time na lalong lalaki ang environmental problems natin (if we cannot monitor and will not regulate [entry of tourists and vehicles], there will come a time when the environmental problem will be massive),” Arida said.
Arida said the task force has ordered the police to look at the different entry points to Mt. Santo Tomas to prevent the entry of unauthorized persons.
The Court of Appeals (CA) issued a PEPO on May 2015 to the Mt. Santo Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, Benguet following the case filed by former Catholic Church Bishop Carlito Cenzon and Archbishop Socrates Villegas, claiming the reservation's degradation.
The court ordered a halt in all activities inside the reservation -- including a stop in the expansion of existing farms and habitation, as well as the stoppage of all business activities in the area covering barangays Tabaan Norte, Tabaan Sur, Twin Peaks and Poblacion.
The court also ordered the prevention of entry of non-residents to the area.
During the meeting, Arida said the police also sought to be furnished with a copy of the base-map, which will allow them to identify the actual boundaries of the reservation.
Arida said the DENR has completed the survey and installation of monuments of the reservation, which will make it easy to provide the request of the police.
He said there is a need to boost the information drive, explaining to the people the “writ of kalikasan” and the PEPO issued by the Court of Appeals.
Included as members of the council are peoples’ organizations, which would teach people farming skills to shift to organic farming.
“We want to intensify the IEC (information education campaign). Some residents are being used so that some can enter. It is unfortunate that entry of tourists continue to happen despite the prohibition which some enterprising people use in making gains,” Arida said.
“This is a challenging task but we are bent on complying with the court’s order,” he added.
He said the municipality has been tasked to act to stop any business establishment in Santo Tomas from operating, which would cease the influx of tourists in the area.
Arida said the council submitted its long-term protection and management plan for the Mt. Santo Tomas reservation to the DENR central office for funding of the programs.
He said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Cordillera is also preparing the conduct of a Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) for the implementation of the long term plan for Mount Sto. Tomas.
“The DENR, PNP showed a detailed order of what they are doing as dictated by the court. Tuba had not also issued any permit to operate any business, allowed registration of a tax declaration and we are complying with the quarterly reportorial requirement of the court,” Arida said. -- PNA


Police issue warning after Cagayan Jamboree tragedy

By Liezle Basa-Inigo

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The Cagayan Valley police warned parents and guardians to be extra careful after a student attending a Scout Junior-Senior Jamboree in Ballesteros town, Cagayan, drowned.
Cagayan Valley police director Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, said here at Camp Adduru the death of 12-year-old Vince Lucina, a Grade 6 pupil of Solana Elementary School, should serve as warning to those planning to travel to tourist destinations this summer.
Espino earlier ordered the police to set up public assistance centers ahead of the influx of people in resorts and other tourist destinations in the region.
Lucina drowned last Sunday in the lagoon inside the Jamboree site.
The boy was rushed to the Ballesteros District Hospital where he was declared dead.


Marine electrocuted at Cagayan navy base

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan -- A Marine was electrocuted at a naval base in Sta. Ana, Cagayan on Wednesday.
Police said Cpl. Joces Camacho of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 accidentally touched a live wire while repairing an electrical connection at around 9:30 a.m.
The victim was pronounced dead on arrival at the Fr. Gerry Felippeto Memorial Foundation Hospital.


Tuba miner dies of gas poison in tunnel

TUBA, Benguet – A miner died of gas poisoning here inside an abandoned tunnel here Wednesday around 10:30 p.m.
Ulyssis Tomilas Florendo, 26, a resident of Camp 4, Kennon Road identified the victim as his uncle Albert Basilio, 55, single, of Sitio Balococ, Camp 4.
Investigation disclosed the victim was missing for two days. The relatives of Basilio tried to locate him but resulted futile.
At about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Macario Florendo, elder brother of the victim, decided to enter the abandoned adit and discovered the lifeless body of the victim around 80-100 feet deep from the entrance of the tunnel.


25 towns, 4 cities in Pangasinan declared high risk due to rabies

By Liezle Basa-Inigo

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- The Provincial Veterinary Office appealed to the public to help lessen the number of rabies cases in Pangasinan with the observance of National Rabies Awareness Month this March.
Report said 25 towns and four cities in Pangasinan were declared as high risk areas due to cases of rabies in these places.
The Provincial Veterinary Office is encouraging all pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated to avoid getting infected with rabies virus.
Likewise, the agency is urging to support the advocacy of attaining a rabies-free community.
The high risk areas include the towns of Agno, Aguilar, Alcala, Asingan, Balungao, Bani, Bautista, Bayambang, Binmaley, Bolinao, Calasiao, Lingayen, Mabini, Malasiqui, Mangaldan, Mangatarem, Natividad, Rosales, San Fabian, San Jacinto, San Quintin, Sta. Barbara, Sto. Tomas, Tayug and Urbiztondo, and the cities of Alaminos, Dagupan, San Carlos and Urdaneta.
This was based on the confirmed rabies cases recorded by the Provincial Veterinary Office for the year 2018.
Dr. Jovito Tabarejos, assistant provincial veterinarian, advised dog owners down at the barangay levels to subject their pets for vaccination, and to prevent dogs from straying in their community to protect people from any rabies infection from dogs.


Mt Prov students tour eco-farms to promote tourism

By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Some 50 Junior High School students were toured in farm tourism sites in this capital town March 6 to orient them on role of the youth in promotion of tourism through the use of social media.
The participants were students from Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School (MPGCHS) who have subjects on photography and video production.
Municipal Tourism Officer Caren Guinayen said this was the first time an educational tour on farm tourism catering to junior high school students was initiated and funded by the Bontoc Local Government Unit through its Municipal Tourism Office.
The transportation, food and corresponding fees to include the entrance fees and environmental fees were shouldered by the Bontoc LGU.
The activity aimed to equip participants with necessary knowledge on the different tourism sites in Bontoc, encourage students to become tourism ambassadors, and promote Bontoc as a tourism destination through the use of social media. Guinayen added that this was also a way to promote farm tourism in the municipality as it is one of the main thrust of the Department of Tourism. 
She said through farm tourism, people will be encouraged to go back into farming and create dependable source of income. Also, the activity will be an avenue for the students to put into practice what they have learned in school considering that photography and video production is now integrated in their subject in school.
Among the sites visited were the Bontoc Dairy Farm owned by Fonet Modesto Dirige, Lanfang Farm owned by the family of Ben Ayochok, Blue Farm owned by Dan Evert and Shirley Sokoken, Khayad Orange and Dragon Fruit Plant Farm owned by Lynda Khayad and Demo Farm managed by the Bontoc LGU through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist.  Also, the participants have the chance to visit the Maligcong Rice Terraces.
Guinayen said students were oriented to take photos and videos of farm tourism sites they visited and process these using skills they learned in school on photography and video editing to produce outputs.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey approved the proposal citing  capabilities of the youth in promotion of tourism destinations of Bontoc through skills they learned in school and through responsible and effective social media posting.
The participants were accompanied by their teachers and were assisted by staff from the Municipal Tourism Office along with students taking up Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management at the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) who are having on the job training at the Municipal Tourism Office


Cops probe death of drowned Abra farmer

LICUAN-BAAY, Abra – Police are investigating if there was foul play in the death of a farmer who allegedly drowned here at Panaklisan falls, Barangay Nalbuan Wednesday identified as Nelson Banganan Bagni, 57, married.
The incident was relayed to police by a municipal Disaster official identified as Erosbon Layugan, 30 prompting police led byVan Kimber G. Kitong who found the victim already dead.
Investigation disclosed that around 4:30 p.m. that day, water supply of the victim stopped so the victim went to fix their water pipeline from its source at Panaklisan Falls located which is located at a cliff.
The victim did not come back making his wife uncomfortable as it was getting dark.
His relatives decided to look for him and at around 8:30 p.m. of same date the victim’s body was found lifeless at said falls by Ifrahim Waset together with his companions.
The victim’s head was injured.


Panagbenga fest visitors stripped of money, gadgets

BAGUIO CITY – Visitors from Laguna and one from Bataan who came here for the Panagbenga Festival main highlights last March 10 were stripped of their belongings worth thousands of pesos and valuables by thieves in the dead of night.
A police report said the theft happened around 2:30 to 4 a.m. that night at No. 15 Mines View. 
Policed did not discount possibility of an inside job.
Complainants staying and working Laguna were named as Kevin Comita Cordoves, 27, DRRM employee whose Iphone 6 worth P8,000 was taken; Nathaniel Sabado Molinas, 25, municipal encoder whose DSLR camera with lens and charger worth P80,000 and cash worth P7,000 were taken and Jobert Amparado Novenario, 34, DRRM employee whose Azuz phone worth P7,000, cash worth P2,100 and  bag with clothes were taken.
Other victims were Annie Santa Ana Angat, 40, municipal employee whose power bank, charger, Iphone and cash worth P7,000 were stolen; Jasper Agustin Monfero, 41, municipal employee whose buddy bag, cell phone charger, cash of P5,000 were taken and Krich Villasurda Monfero, 29, municipal nurse.
Taken from Monfero were Samsung Plus worth P16,000.
Also victimized were Ruel Piswenga Borgonia, 48, municipal driver whose cash worth P8,500 was taken; Pablito Pabs Platero, 26 whose Iphone 6S worth P 16,000.00 was stolen; Coleen Sabado Sulebet, 19, of Pilar Bataan  whose two power banks, cash worth P600, IPAD worth P30,000 were stolen and Bon Bryan Cordova Palacol, 25, DRRM.
Taken from the latter were cash worth P2,500 and LG V20  worth P12,500.
Also stolen from Marcial De Guzman Tado, 22, municipal CCTV operator were Calvin Klien bag with power bank, sunglasses.
Andreus Ben Hur Villasorda Monfero, 32, executive assistant of Laguna also lost cash worth of P50,000 to thieves.
Investigation disclosed that unidentified suspect/s used the main door as their point of entry and exit. While inside the house, suspect/s proceeded to the rooms of the victims which were not locked then took the items. Interview conducted with the victims revealed they only discovered the theft when they woke up around 5 a.m. They said they did not hear any dog bark. No CCTV was also installed in the area.


Review of arrest order vs Ilocos mayor pushed

CABUGAO, Ilocos Sur -- The Supreme Court has been asked to look into the validity of an arrest warrant issued against Mayor Edward Cobangbang of this town by a supposedly suspended judge.
The Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance (FLAGG) last week questioned the order issued by acting Cabugao Regional Trial Court Judge Raphiel Alzate for the arrest of Cobangbang and 18 others.
The order stemmed from a case involving the closure of a local beach resort with the operator and a four-year-old boy trapped inside.
The National Bureau of Investigation is now hunting down Cobangbang who was ordered arrested over the padlocking of a government-owned resort with its operator and four-year-old son trapped inside.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said NBI agents have joined the manhunt for Cobangbang after Ilocos Sur police failed to serve a warrant of arrest for serious illegal detention and grave coercion.
“The NBI has tapped... agents to arrest Mayor Cobangbang pursuant to the warrant issued by the RTC,” Guevarra said, referring to the order of Cabugao Regional Trial Court Branch 24 Judge Raphiel Alzate.
Guevarra said prosecutors would also seek the issuance of a hold departure order against Cobangbang.
The Dept. of the Interior and Local Government had appointed Vice Mayor Deogracias Jose Victorino Savellano as acting mayor of Cabugao.
The DILG regional office said Cobangbang is “temporarily incapacitated” to perform the responsibilities of a town mayor in view of the charges he is facing.
Cobangbang and 18 others were ordered arrested after the court upheld the finding of probable cause by the Dept. of Justice in the complaint filed by resort operator Virginia Ong.
The DOJ granted the petition for review that Ong filed and reversed the April 23, 2018 resolution of the provincial prosecutor’s office that dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause.
The elements of serious illegal detention were present in the case, noting that a private individual was detained by a public official without lawful basis, according to the DOJ.
Ong, her son and some of her employees were forced to stay in the padlocked resort until their lawyer and the police arrived the following day.
The court said the offense is non-bailable.
Prior to the incident, Cobangbang demanded that Ong and her employees leave the resort. Ong refused, saying her lease contract is until 2025.


Dam to ease effects of dry spell

By Jojo RiƱoza

DAGUPAN CITY – Towns in Pangasinan downstream of the San Roque Dam will be least affected by the impending dry spell, an official the firm operating the dam said.
“We have enough water in San Roque (dam) to address the irrigation requirements of farmlands in several municipalities downstream,” according to Tommy Valdez, vice president for corporate affairs of the San Roque Power Corporation.
Valdez said the San Roque Multipurpose Project (SRMP) “is basically for irrigation and that one the reasons why the level in the watershed should be maintained at the end of the rainy season.
Most eastern and central agricultural towns of the province benefit from the irrigation coming from the dam, among them San Manuel, Asingan, Villasis, Urdaneta, Binalonan, Laoac, Malasiqui, Alcala, Tayug, Sta. Maria, Rosales, Balungao, Calasiao, Mapandan and Manaoag, as well as San Manuel in Tarlac.
The 200-meter-high, 1.2-km-long dam on the Agno River is the largest in the Philippines.


Baguio hotels pushed to make wedding package

BAGUIO CITY – Aside from its many attractions, this Summer Capital is being pushed as “honeymooners” wedding destination of the north.
The city council approved on first reading an ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr., which stated all hotels will be required to prepare a honeymooner’s wedding package to those who decide to be wed in the city and avail of their hotel facilities or services.
Under the proposed ordinance, hotel owners and operators, who are supportive of the program, shall receive a 10-percent exemption from payment of business taxes of the gross sales or receipts for each honeymoon package hosted.
The ordinance tasked the City Treasury Office, in coordination with the Baguio Tourism Council, to monitor and implement the guidelines necessary for the successful implementation of the measure.
Yangot said Baguio City was famous not only as a premier tourist destination, but also a honeymooners’ haven located north of the country.
He said the city was the ideal place for newly-weds because of its natural cool climate where air conditioning is round the clock and the air is filled with the fresh scent of pine.
He added the city’s declaration as a honeymooner’s haven could also be enhanced by the beautiful hotels and gardens perfect for a dream wedding at reasonable and minimum cost.
According to him, it will be appropriate and fitting for the City Council to formally declare Baguio City as Honeymooner’s Haven, as well as support its establishment as the wedding destination of the north with the adoption of the measure that is seen as one of the major drivers of the local economy.
The ordinance stipulated many couples from different parts of the world opt to hold important events in their lives in Baguio City because of its cool and unique climate that is why there is always a significant number of visitors who flock to the city during weekends and holidays because its good weather is a natural pull for people to frequent the city.
For the past several years, a good number of beautiful hotels have started to be built in strategic areas around the city with venues for gatherings and special occasions of groups who prefer holding their important occasions in the city.
In the early 1900s, the American colonizers discovered Kafagway as a suitable rest and recreation area for top government and military officials during summer and renamed it Baguio City in 1903, and transferring colonial government functions to the new city, earning its name Summer Capital.


Bocap, tanods beat up student

By Raymund Catindig

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — A barangay captain and two watchmen are facing criminal charges for allegedly beating up a 15-year-old student in Aparri, Cagayan on March 8. 
Police said Francis Jet Arimas, chairman of Barangay Bukig, Cornelio Tierro and Arnold Bugarin reportedly accosted and beat up the victim after receiving reports of illegal gambling involving students at the Bukig National Agricultural and Technical School.
The incident was reportedly witnessed by students and teachers.
A complaint for violation of the Anti-Child Abuse Law was filed against the barangay officials.


Paracelis IPs get free medical aid

PARACELIS, Mountain Province -- Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples in this town were given free medical, dental and wellness services by a group composed of women to celebrate the National Women’s Month.
"We are very happy, lucky and thankful to Happy Hearts because a medical mission was conducted here after several years considering the long hours of travel," said Councilor Djarma Rafael who chairs the local legislative council’s committee on women and children on Sunday.
Paracelis, about eight hours away from Baguio City, was reached by the group around 6 a.m. on March 9 for an outreach program in celebration of the National Women’s Day every March, which is simultaneous with the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Day.
The outreach lasted until evening, with some of the patients coming from far-flung villages to avail of free services and supplies.
Rafael said the group provided free medical checkup; dental services, blood sugar screening, and wellness. Medicines were also given free as part of the women’s month celebration.
The councilor said many women and children in the town are underserved in terms of health providers and medical assistance considering the geographical location of the municipality.
"Paracelis has a big population, even the district hospital cannot accommodate the whole area and of course the number of health workers is also a problem," she said.
Paracelis, a second-class municipality which relies heavily on agriculture, has a population of 26,476.
"There are a lot of women and children here who cannot afford to go to the hospital and have themselves checked so this is a great opportunity for them to take advantage of the presence of medical practitioners who are giving their services for free and even giving free medicines," she said.
Rafael said due to their distance from the center of the province in Bontoc, it is seldom that organizations conduct outreach and provide free medical assistance for the residents of Paracelis.
She said that with the financial condition of the families, especially for the mothers, health is the least of their priority.
She said the local government is trying to do its best to provide quality health services for the constituents, but is still not enough. As such, Rafael expressed gratitude that “Happy Hearts” visited them.
"There are some medical activities here being conducted by the Rural Health Unit (RHU) but it is not enough, not everyone can avail of it especially those who are living in the outskirts," she said.
Alice Lambayog, 21, who came with her two children said it breaks her heart that she cannot bring her children to the doctor even if they are not feeling well.
"Hindi naman kami mayaman para makapag-pagamot sa hospital. Hirap na kaming makapaghanap ng pera para sa pagkain sa pang-araw -araw, kaya malaking bagay yung mga ganitong bagay sa amin, libreng patingin, libreng gamot (We're not rich to have ourselves checked at the hospital. We have difficulty earning money to sustain our daily lives and to be able to avail of free checkup and free medicine is really a big help to us)," she said.
She brought her two-year-old son whose head had been filled with sored scabies and her daughter, who has cough and colds.
They are among the 328 indigent women and children in the town who received medical aid. A handful of men also availed of the free services.
Aside from medical and dental, a wellness service was also provided by two physical therapists who gave treatment sessions and taught the patients how to manage back pains and “frozen shoulders” that can affect the movements.
Happy Hearts is a group composed of high school batchmates from St. Louis Girls High School in Baguio City to volunteer their services.
Dr. Marie Jorilyn Bahingawan of Itogon, who joined the group in Paracelis said it was a happy experience giving time and her skills to other people, not only from her town in Benguet.
Happy Hearts resident dentist Rowena Aquino Pascual said for almost 10 years now, several outreach activities like medical missions, feeding, gift giving or a mixture of such services have been conducted in several towns in La Union and Pangasinan.
She said that those activities were done in partnership with other Baguio-based groups and organizations, and even individuals who give their services for free. The event was also supported by The Generics Pharmacy of JG Summit Holdings.
"With our registered physicians, dentists, physical therapists, medical technologists and nurses, we have provided medical and dental services, physical therapy wellness lecture and treatment sessions and did blood sugar testing," she said.
Pascual also said that the outreach was made possible with the help of several other supporters who continue to believe in the group’s endeavors. -- PNA 


Cops, military to guard ‘will of electorate’ in polls

By Freddie Lazaro 

BANGUED, Abra – Provincial officials said the military and police will display the highest sense of professionalism in the midterm elections in May.
The assurance came after President Duterte said he is certain the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will remain non-partisan in the polls.
Gov. Ma. Jocelyn Valera-Bernos, a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Philippine Army, said the “will of the electorate” will be guarded with utmost care.
Earlier, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), police and military renewed their commitment in ensuring honest, fair, and peaceful elections.
Abra had earlier activated “Abra Shield”, a unique public safety force composed of 1501st Regional Mobile First Battalion, 22nd Special Action Company, PNP-Special Action Force, and Provincial Mobile Force Company to implement the gun ban and to intensify operations against loose firearms and private armed groups.
Aside from setting up checkpoints, the police has stepped up foot and mobile patrols all over the province.
The Army unit stationed in the province had pledged to support the local police operations while strengthening its counter-insurgency campaign.
Bernos appealed to the policemen and soldiers not to be enticed by politicians. She reminded them to always be on the side of the law and perform their mandate “to serve the country and their fellow Filipinos.”


Lions Club tiff in Baguio


The Lions Club civic center within Burnham Park in Baguio City is now a bone of contention among city councilors who want the dispute over its use settled.
The city council is set to decide if it will request the Cordillera office of the Dept. of Tourism to review the memorandum of agreement entered by the local government and the Lions Club of Baguio, Inc. for use of a parcel of land within Burnham Park complex for the Lions Club civic center.
Some local legislators proposed the referral of the agreement to the DOT-CAR for review, the agency being the owner of the property. Executive Order No. 224, series of 1995 authorized the local government to administer, manage and operate Burnham Park which was subsequently strengthened by Executive Order No. 695, series of 2009.
Earlier, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan transmitted to the city council for confirmation the MOA between the local government and Lions Club, Inc. for use of a parcel of land within Burnham Park complex for construction of a Lions Club civic center.
The crafting of the agreement was pursuant to Audit Observation Memorandum No. 17-010 dated 08 March 2017 of the Commission on Audit – Cordillera Administrative Region on operation and management of Burnham Park reservation wherein it was discovered the Lions Clubhouse in the complex was not covered by an agreement, according to a city hall report.
The city council also directed the City Environment and Parks Management Office and City Building Office to inspect structures in the area to ascertain their structural integrity among other safety concerns and for said offices to submit an inventory on actual use of the facilities.
The city council also requested the Lions Club, Inc. to submit its financial statement over the last five years to serve as a basis in assessing how the club was able to use the property.
The previous members of the local legislative body approved Resolution No. 49, series of 1970 which granted the Lions Club of Baguio exemption from payment of building permit fee and all  fees in connection with construction of its clubhouse building; provided that upon completion of said building, the Baguio City library will be housed therein free of charge.
Local legislators attempted to pass a resolution to regulate the use by the Lions Club, Inc. of the property but the motion was deferred for further discussion.
The former Philippine Tourism Authority tried to work out issuance of a Presidential Proclamation for segregation of the area occupied by the Lions Club for use of the civic organization but the same was overtaken by events.
The Lions Club civic center is now being used by numerous civic and religious organizations for their activities allowing the organization to generate funds for their civic activities.

Comelec on political advertisements

The Commission on Elections warned candidates in the midterm polls to follow the required size for campaign posters even as political advertisements are allowed on public utility vehicles (PUVs).
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said political ads should not exceed 2 x 3 feet for posters and 8.5 x 11 inches for stickers.
These campaign materials should be placed at the back of the PUVs, Guanzon said.
“These vehicles are private properties, but the Comelec has the authority to regulate campaign materials,” she said. Guanzon said posting of campaign posters in private buildings and houses is also allowed provided that the required size is observed and it has the permission of the owners.
“Otherwise, campaign materials should be displayed in common poster areas designated by the Comelec,” she said.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10488, Guanzon said state-owned transportation facilities such as Metro Rail Transit, Light Rail Transit and Philippine National Railways are prohibited from displaying political advertisements.


Magalong on running for mayor / Pols on narco-list, cyber scams

Alfred P. Dizon

We received an email from the camp of former Philippine National Police chief Benjamin Magalong on his thoughts in running for Baguio mayor this coming May elections. Here goes: 
“The city government must provide better services and a more responsive youth program that will strengthen efforts to sustain Baguio’s competence as a center of quality education.
The overall goal is for the city to produce graduates in all levels who will be well-trained for responsible citizenship, who will be morally conscious, and who will be capable for business, industry and the professions.
“We should focus on the upgrade of facilities and faculties, and the expansion of existing scholarship grants to deserving students. We should propagate the Alternative Learning System, encourage Technical and Vocational studies, and allot more scholarships for the financially challenged.
“To empower the youth, our younger generation’s development programs must strive to make our children morally responsible and better prepared for adulthood. Development should focus on leadership skills training, sports, and other diverse alternative programs. Our youth must be encouraged to participate in anti-
crime, anti-drug, and anti-juvenile delinquency activities. Facilities should be established as youth convergence centers.
“To enliven culture, arts and crafts, full government support should be extended to our partners in the arts, culture, and the creative sector befitting the city’s latest title as the only Philippine city in the elite United Nations Creative City Network. There will be constant engagement and active involvement with this sector to encourage appropriate activities meant to enliven the cultural scene and strengthen harmonizing efforts of varied indigenous and traditional cultural practices.
“Admittedly, these core-ideas are initiating principles that may well serve to generate more ideas for greater consensus
with the populace. No man or woman has exclusive monopoly of the good things to state by way of solemn covenant. Agenda preparation is always a work in progress.
“To speed up government action, services must be made accessible, available, and affordable to the people. We must do away with policies that make our people wait in long lines just to be served, or told to return in vain for follow-up. We must make our constituents feel and experience government service at its finest.”
Magalong, although of Pangasinense ancestry, was born and raised in Baguio City. He studied in St. Louis Laboratory Elementary and High Schools before joining the Philippine Military Academy where he graduated as Magna Cum Laude in 1982.
He retired from the PNP after 38 years and eight months of active service on Dec. 15
On national TV, President Rodrigo Duterte yet again surprised the public by revealing names of politicians on his narco-list.
The president read several names of politicians including 35 mayors, seven vice mayors, one provincial board member and three congressmen.
Some of them were elected officials and election candidates for the upcoming May midterm polls.
Duterte announced the names of politicians allegedly involved in illegal drug operations or the narco list during the Joint National Peace and Order Council – Regional Peace Order Council Clusters Meeting and Armed Forces of the Philippines – Philippine National Police command conference at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Davao City on March 14.
The President denied undermining the politicians’ bid ahead of the elections, but insisted that the list has been validated by government agents, a UNTV report said.
He added the Dept. of the Interior and Local Government already filed administrative cases against government officials on the list before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The President said the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) are both investigating the officials to build criminal cases against them.
“The results will aid us in filing airtight cases against them,” the President said.
Some cause-oriented and human rights groups said what the President did was uncalled for since the politicians alluded to being involved in drugs were not yet charged or their crime proven in court.
But then again, the firebrand president said, ‘public office is a public trust. An official’s right to privacy is not absolute and there is a compelling reason to prioritize the interest of the state and the people.”
It is not surprising anymore if the president comes up with statements on anything which presidential spokesman Sal Panelo could deftly explain -- it could be a hyperbole or the truth depending on the situation.
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos has urged authorities to crack down on dating sites being used as platforms for “love scams” victimizing gullible Filipinos, especially on Facebook.
 “In October last year, an overseas Filipino worker lost P600,000 after falling in love with a woman using a fake FB account. That poor OFW is just one of thousands of Filipinos who fall victim to online predators who manipulate their feelings to extort money,” she said in a press statement.
“Nakakabulag kasi talaga ang pag-ibig. If someone appears too good to be true, sigurado hindi mapagkakatiwalaan yun lalo na kung ayaw makipagkita in person at video chat lang ang gusto. People should be very careful with their hard earned money and life savings dahil lamang sa mga manloloko sa pag-ibig. I am asking concerned government agencies to crack down on these scammers and dismantle their networks,” she added.
In the Philippines, at least 10 percent of internet fraud reported in 2017 fell under the love or romance scam category, according to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group.
It said love scams are not easy to solve because the victims are often willing prey. Love scams are also, legally, estafa cases, and a victim must file a case for the PNP-ACG to start an investigation. In many cases, charges have not been filed as the victims are too ashamed to admit at being lovestruck and defrauded online.
The US-based Better Business Bureau reports that cyber love scams are among the biggest cons in the United States and Canada where victims lost nearly $1billion over the last three years.
Marcos said Filipinos must be careful when contacted through newly-created accounts by persons who refuse to meet in person or prefer video chatting where they are never clearly identifiable.
“Be a smart social media user. Do not give important details such as your debit or credit card number. And don’t be afraid to come forward and file a complaint if you think you have been duped,” she said.


The next flashpoint: South Pacific

Perry Diaz

Since the end of World War II, the preeminent naval power in the Indo-Pacific region is the United States.  However, in the past decade, China has been trying hard to catch up in numbers as well as in technology in the development of her naval forces.  While she is still far behind the U.S.’s naval superiority, China is rapidly bringing her navy to within 10 to 15 years of reaching parity with the U.S.
But China’s naval build-up is not limited to building more warships, submarines, and aircraft carriers.  She needs logistical supply centers spread around the world to make sure that her naval vessels can be replenished and re-armed without going back to China.  
Since 2012 and under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has embarked on projecting power beyond her shallow offshore waters into the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.  Indeed, in 2017 China opened her first overseas military base in Djibouti.  She calls it “logistical supply center.”  With the capability to sustain 10,000 troops and warships in Djibouti next to the U.S. strategic base at Camp Lemonnier, China has established a strategic presence more than 9,000 miles from home. 
And closer to home, China has reclaimed seven reefs and islets in the Spratly archipelago and built artificial islands over them.  Three were militarized to accommodate aircraft, warships, missiles, and troops.  These bases are just a hundred miles away from the Philippines, which has territorial jurisdiction over the Spratly Islands that are within her 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Debt-trap diplomacy
China is using the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative to gain economic foothold in various seaports in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea such as the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and the Gwadar Port in Pakistan.  Recently, China took a 99-year lease on Hambantota due to Sri Lanka’s inability to repay her huge loan from China’s debt trap.  Pakistan has also fallen into China’s debt-trap diplomacy and pretty soon would take a 99-year possession of Gwadar.
Another project that would soon follow the fate of Sri Lanka is Kenya.  If Kenya fails to begin repayment of a $2.3 billion loan for Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), China would seize the Kilindini Harbor, the biggest port in East Africa, which was the collateral for the Chinese loan. 
A recent report said that at least 16 countries are vulnerable to China's debt-trap diplomacy, including Kenya, Pakistan, Zambia, Djibouti, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Tonga, Micronesia, Vanuatu, and the Philippines.
South Pacific
Vanuatu, an idyllic country consisting of a group of small islands in the South Pacific has also fallen into China’s debt-trap diplomacy.  The two countries are now negotiating the establishment of a Djibouti-like “logistical supply base.”  In China’s playbook, this logistical supply center would eventually be expanded to accommodate troops, aircraft, warships, and missiles that can reach Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Another country that China is eyeing is Papua New Guinea (PNG), which is just north of Australia.  The two countries are currently negotiating the possibility of a military base in PNG.  It’s interesting to note that during the early years of the Obama administration, PNG offered to host U.S. naval and air bases for free!  The U.S. declined the offer. 
China’s attempt to project power in the South Pacific is making Australia, United Kingdom, and France nervous.  But the U.S. seems unperturbed.  The U.K. and France still have some possessions in the South Pacific.  And now China is attempting to pitch tent in the neighborhood. 
France is concerned about China’s interest in the South Pacific.  France considers herself an Asia-Pacific nation because of her vital interests in the region.  Her territories include French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna Islands. Combine this to her territories in the Indian Ocean (La Reunion, Mayotte, Kerguelen, etc.) that makes France an Indo-Pacific nation as well.  France has deployed a number of warships in South Pacific to protect her territories.
South China Sea
Last year, UK, France, and Australia joined the US in conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea to the consternation of China.  Recently, the U.K. announced the deployment of her newly commissioned aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the South China Sea, which can carry two squadrons of the U.S.-built stealth F-35B supersonic jets.  What is interesting is that the deployment to the South China Sea is officially a joint US/UK mission.  The interoperability of the US and UK naval forces in the South China Sea demonstrates the longstanding military relationship between the two countries.
Another important multi-lateral naval exercise is the Malabar naval exercise involving US, India, and Japan’s warships, submarines, and aircraft that kicked off in the Bay of Bengal.  Australia wanted to participate as an observer but was not included due to China’s objection.  The first Malabar exercise took place in 1994 as a bilateral exercise between the US and Indian navies.  A few years ago Japan joined Malabar exercises as a permanent member..
But that’s not the end of Australia’s effort to join her allies in joint naval exercises.  The last biennial Talisman Saber joint military exercise between the US and Australia began in June 2017.  It was aimed at sending a message to both allies and potential foes, particularly China.  The exercise involved 33,000 US and Australian troops.
 In another joint exercise, the US Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JSDF) held their 13th annual Iron Fist Exercise last January 2018.  The extensive five-week long exercise held in Southern California.
In a multilateral military exercise following the Iron Fist Exercise, Australia and Japan joined the Philippines and the US in the 34th annual Balikatan exercises in Luzon, Philippines.  
There are several more joint exercises, in which the US is involved, to wit: South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  Interestingly, the US has mutual defense treaties with five of them, namely, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and Thailand.  In addition, the US has treaty obligation to defend Taiwan from external attacks.
With all the joint exercises that the US is involved in, she is basically on virtual “war footing” all year round, ready to go to war in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea on short notice.  However, the U.S. doesn’t have presence in the South Pacific, a region where America’s naval forces battled and defeated the superior Japanese naval forces in World War II.  It was the turning point in the war.  It’s sad that the South Pacific, rich in history, could fall prey to the imperialistic expansion of China.
With China’s aggressive effort to project power in the South Pacific, it won’t be long before she establishes bases in Vanuatu, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and other islands in the region.  The U.S. and her allies might wake up one day and find themselves face to face with the enemy in the next flashpoint: South Pacific. (


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