Jeep carrying Baguio LP bets’ campaigners crashes; 4 dead, 23 hurt

>> Monday, April 29, 2019

BAGUIO CITY – Four campaigners of the Liberal Party died here while 23 others were injured when the jeep they were riding in developed loose brakes, swerved to the opposite lane and rammed a concrete gate marker of Sta. Lucia Realty Corp. here Tuesday around 9:45 a.m. along Circumferential Road, Asin.
Col. Allen Rae Co, acting Baguio police chief, said the jeep was traversing circumferential road headed to Barangay Irisan when it developed mechanical trouble.
The Isuzu jeep with plate number ACK-342 was reportedly driven by Leander Asia Vergara, 23, single, driver/mechanic of Crystal Cave.
Three persons died on the spot while one died while undergoing treatment.
Killed at accident site were Elizabeth Almoite Panes, 54; Richelda Almoite Abigar, 47 and Julia S. Labi. Their bodies were brought to Damayan Funeral Homes.
Injured were brought to Baguio General Hospital Medical Center for treatment by ambulances.
They were identified as Agnes Buarao Ag-a, 43; Judith Abiogan Siplat, 47; Robert Yaeng Sibal Jr., 21; Jonalyn Palatik Dekdeken, 2; Kyle Rector Libua Lardizabal, 10; Kellycent Libua Lardizabal, 14; Michael Ogayan Boligon, 39;
Jovelyn Banasan Gados, 42; Shirlyn Banasan Gados, 40 and
Shantal Gados Gonnay, 5.
Also injured were Alma Dewalan Allera, 46; Travis Bagayao Aliping, 13; Ryjen Ondong Palatic, 15; Mercedes Cawilan Guerrero, 49; Nary Grace Gorgonia Castro, 30; Patrick Zhean Castro Paylor, 5; Hilaria Yaeng Sibal, 56; Sally Lis-eg Balaodan, 39; John Rey Abaigar Passi, 6; Josephine Mayocyoc Ag-a, 59; Gloria Gatarin Simsim, 64; Robert Jaeng Sibal, 21 and Josephile Gayo Ligligan, 42.
Adelina Pimentel Agsaway, 68 died while undergoing  treatment at BGHMC.
The driver’s license of the driver and OR/CR of the vehicle were confiscated by traffic investigators.


P’sinan governor faces graft rap for overpriced project

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Gov. Amado Espino III has been slapped with a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman due to the reportedly overpriced construction of an oval track and event staging area for the Alaminos City National High School.
The construction was intended for the 2018 Region 1 Athletic Association (R1AA) Meet, and reportedly cost around P13 million. This amount covered the backfilling of soil, asphalting of the oval, and the construction of two bleachers and a stage.
Complainant Michelle Anne Celino said that the amount claimed by Espino for the project was “grossly overpriced” because it was “not commensurate to the work that was undertaken.”
The construction of the two bleachers and the stage cost P5 million, but Celino said the cost estimate made by the City Engineer of the Province of Pangasinan only amounted to P1,241,006.81.
The P8 million, on the other hand, went to the backfilling of soil and asphalting of the oval track. Celino stressed in her complaint that the amount spent was “too excessive, and surely caused undue injury and great prejudice to the government.”
Celino wants Espino charged for violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The said law faults local officials for “causing any injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official functions.”
The three-page complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon on April 16.


Chopper crashes in Bulacan; 2 killed

MALOLOS, Bulacan -- Two men were killed when a helicopter crashed into a fishpond here Thursday.
The initial report of the local police said two passengers were killed “in an accidental helicopter crash” in Barangay Anilao that happened around 12:30 p.m.  
Another victim was rushed to the nearest hospital.
Police have yet to establish the identities of the victims.
The helicopter, which bears the body number RP C8098, was described in the report as severely damaged or “total wreck.”
A sourced photo showed the ill-fated chopper half-submerged in a fish pond.
Responding teams are still investigating if there were other victims at the crash site.  – Robie de Guzman


Abra council bet shot dead; Comelec sets control moves

TAYUM, Abra -- A candidate for councilor in this town was shot while campaigning Tuesday morning.
Alexander Echabe, who was the candidate of PDP-Laban, was shot in the head, a sketchy report by Joey Brillantes, Echabe’s companion said.
Brillantes said Echabe and his group were campaigning in Sitio Ananao, Barangay Budac, when the gunman approached shot him.
Brillantes said the gunman and his companions then fled.
Brillantes identified the gunman as a barangay chairman and his companions as his brothers..
Abra was declared as category red hotspot are by the Commission on Elections on March 19.
The shooting happened on the same day that the Cordillera regional police chief, Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, visited Abra to check on security preparations for the May midterm election.
Dickson had moved around key police officials in Abra as well as changed the mobile force companies assigned in the province.
Following this, a local Commission on Elections official said in Bangued Tuesday the result of the Joint Security Coordinating Center investigation on the twin shootings in Tayum will determine whether or not the province will be under Comelec control.
Lawyer Dexter Barry Cawis, Comelec-Abra election officer, said the Police Regional Office Cordillera has ordered an investigation on the two shooting incidents that happened in Tayum at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Earlier media reports said one of the victims involved a PDP-Laban candidate for councilor, who was allegedly shot on the head by a barangay captain, while the other victim was hit with a bullet on the leg when a mayoralty candidate allegedly fired shots on the vehicle of the group of the Budac village chairman.
The shooting incidents reportedly occurred one after the other during a campaign sortie in An-ananao, Budac, Tayum.
"We still have to verify what really happened in Tayum. The police report usually goes up to the region and is submitted to the JSCC and will be forwarded to the Comelec en banc, which will determine whether to place it under Comelec control," Cawis said.
The Comelec declared Abra as a hot spot on March 19.
He said they are hoping that there would be no incident that will disturb the peace and order in the province.
Cawis said an area under Comelec control due to peace and order issues will be in the hands of the Comelec en banc.
"The en banc can relieve any cop, any member of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) or PNP (Philippine National Police), create a task force to have an administrative control over deputized agencies," he said.
Cawis said the PNP, AFP, and the Comelec are now discussing the security preparations for the May 13 mid-term elections.  – With a PNA report


P 2.4-M marijuana seized in Bontoc; 3 tourists nabbed

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Police and narcotics agents arrested three men here with P2.4 million worth of  marijuana at a checkpoint along the Bontoc-Kalinga Road here at Sitio Cheta, Bontoc Ili morning of April 21.
A regional police report identified the arrested: Paolalphiny Canilao Octavio, 20, student taking up Bachelor of Arts and Communications at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa and resident of Las Vegas Street Putatan, Muntinlupa City; Jaden Rongavilla Residuo, 20, of Buli, Muntinlupa City and John Loyd Ocampo Rojales, 21, also of Buli. 
Before their arrest, a concerned citizen reported to the police that the suspects will be transporting illegal drugs on board a passenger jeep plying the Tinglayan (Kalinga)-Bontoc route. 
The report said immediately, joint personnel of Bontoc Municipal Police Station and members of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – Mt. Province set up a checkpoint and flagged down said vehicle.
Allegedly confiscated from the suspects were 18  marijuana bricks and four pieces of marijuana in tubes weighing 20,004 kilos worth P2,4 million, drug paraphernalia, assorted IDs and three cell phones seized from their backpacks.
Cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Board of 2002 was filed against the suspects who are now detained at Bontoc police station.
 “We thank the concerned citizen for providing us with this valuable and timely information that led to the arrest of these suspects. Your police force will continuously conduct proactive operations as we are committed to prevent, if not wipe out the proliferation of all forms of illegal drugs in the region,” said Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, Cordillera police director.
Edgar Apalla, PDEA-CAR regional director, meanwhile said in a phone interview that the tourists were apprehended after visiting Tinglayan, Kalinga during the Holy Week.
Apalla said PDEA personnel and police acted on a tip that the men were carrying marijuana.
Apalla said that they have been on the lookout for illegal drug activities involving tourists who take the chance to do illicit acts. He said that in the Cordillera region, several tourists have been arrested for attempting to sell shabu and other illegal drugs in urban areas like Baguio City. – With a PNA report


Cops, sheriff hurt in Cagayan demolition

By Raymund Catindig

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan  —  Seven police officers and a court sheriff were injured in a clash with informal settlers during a demolition in Sitio Racat, Barangay Rapuli, Sta. Ana, Cagayan on Wednesday.
Patrolman Jessy Pascual, Staff Sgts. Derick Saliganan, Mario Udarbe Jr., Clarence Lansang and Marlon Blanquera; Cpl. Jezrael Jove, Patrolwoman Hazel Joyce Simangan, and sheriff George Balao were taken to the Sta. Ana Community Hospital for treatment. 
Reports said personnel of the civil disturbance management team who accompanied Balao in implementing the demolition order was attacked by bolo-wielding residents, who also hurled molotov bombs, animal feces and stones at them.
Sixteen informal settlers were arrested.


Transition team prepared for Baguio leadership turn-over

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan formed a local governance transition team to prepare for the turn-over of leadership after the May 13, 2019 elections.
In Administrative Order No. 49, the mayor named himself as chair of the team with City Administrator Carlos Canilao as vice chair, 15 department heads, two division chiefs, Dept. of Interior and Local Government Baguio City Director Evelyn Trinidad and an officer of the Baguio Association of Retired Persons (BARP) to represent the civil society or people’s organization as members.
The team was tasked to “ensure the smooth local governance transition (and assumption) of the newly elected or reelected local officials on June 30, 2019.”
The team will also take charge of conducting an inventory of the local government unit properties like land, buildings, infrastructure facilities, vehicles, office equipment, furniture, office supplies and others;
Gather, secure and preserve all official documents and records of transactions particularly the Governance Assessment Report, Commission on Audit report, contracts and loan agreements, comprehensive development plan, local development investment plan, annual investment plan, comprehensive land use or physical framework plan, capability development plan, executive-legislative agenda, organizational structure, inventory of personnel by nature of appointment and executive orders.
This will also include documents covered by the Full Disclosure Policy particularly the annual budget, statement of debt service, statement of receipts and expenditures, annual procurement plan, annual Gender and Development accomplishment report, statement of cash flow, bid results on civil works, goods and services and consulting services, report of Special Education Fund utilization, trust fund utilization, manpower complement, unliquidated cash advances, supplemental procurement plan, 20 percent component of the Internal Revenue Allotment utilization and report of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund utilization.
The team will also ensure the smooth turn-over of accountabilities using the prescribed forms and the accomplishment and submission of the required documents among incoming officials to the concerned agencies.
A turn-over ceremony to include a briefing on the governance assessment report and key challenges to the incoming set of officials will also be prepared by the team on June 30.
The mayor’s order was in compliance with the DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2019-39 enjoining local chief executives to ensure a smooth transition and turn-over of leadership.


Indigenous energy sources gab set May 3

BAGUIO CITY --  A press conference  on potentials of indigenous energy sources in response to the  power crisis shall be  held on May 3 by the regional office of the Philippine Information Agency at the  Balay Alumni Hall of the Baguio City High School on  May 3 at 10 a.m.
The press con is sponsored by the Collective Livelihood Initiatives Monitoring and Building Mountain Province (CLIMB MP)  in cooperation with  Baguio City High  School (BCHS)- Class 1958.
Speaker of the press conference Dr. Arthur Sali Saldivar is an alumnus of BCHS who belongs to Class 1958.
Saldivar is  former Chief Geologist of the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) and currently  working on geotechnical engineering consultancy in construction and mining particularly as  chairman of Geotecnica Corp. (The Rock Engineers), 1978 to the present and principal of the ASaldivar-Sali and Partners from 1978- to the present.
Dr Saldivar is also a book writer and shall be launching his book Black Gold: The Search for Oil to Power A Nation same day 3 p.m. at same venue. -- Gina Dizon


Top Mt Prov poll bets air platforms in MPSPC forum

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Mountain Province Polytechnic College held a “social accountability and election forum” at the school here Wednesday for candidates in all levels to present their platforms.
This, to give MPSPC students, faculty and staff including the public to know better congressional, gubernatorial and vice- gubernatorial candidates of the province.
 The MPSPC invited all candidates for congressional, gubernatorial, and vice-gubernatorial posts but only five chose to face the academic community.
Of the aspirants for the lone congressional district of Mountain Province, Allen S. Ocden and Anthony D. Wooden attended.
Of the aspirants for governor, only Harry C. Dominguez and Mateo L. Chiyawan chose to face the academic community. Only Ezra Samson A. Gomez of the vice-gubernatorial candidates appeared.
During the forum, Gomez that he will work to increase the scholarship assistance received by students and also source out funds from different agencies for this matter.
Chiyawan said all legal actions can be done to help the college attain and complete its requirements specifically on landholdings and physical facilities.
Dominguez, another gubernatorial candidate, answering the question on the unemployment and job order situation in employment said that he will promote the province as an investment hub.
Ocden, a congressional candidate, focused his speech on removing corruption in Mountain Province.
He also promised to help the college comply with requirements for facilities.
Wooden, another congressional candidate, spoke of regional autonomy.
When asked about his plans on solving the issue relative to dominance of politicians and government officials regarding the selection of grantees in the Tertiary Education Subsidy, he said he will formulate a separate committee specifically tasked for this matter.
Questions did not only revolve around their plans for the province but included those for MPSPC as well.
Some questions asked were their plans to help the college to reach its university status.
MPSPC had been in pursuit of achieving university status but some of the requirements hinder this quest, much more that these were beyond the control of the college.
Specifying that some of the main factors were on landholdings and lack of physical facilities, candidates were one in saying the college has to be helped in achieving a university status.
Before the forum proper, alumni relations and job placement coordinator Carolyne Dale Castañeda informed the candidates and the audience of the procedures and guidelines of the forum. The forum was followed by the covenant signing as the event also served as venue for the candidates to promote social accountability for a clean, peaceful and honest election. 
“This activity was a non-partisan forum as the institution is a non-partisan organization. The audience was prioritized to MPSPC personnel and students, thus, candidates were also advised not to bring with them more than 10 supporters and election paraphernalia are not allowed within the school premises,” Castañeda said.
Each of the candidates were given five minutes to discuss their platforms and two minutes in which to answer questions from the audience.
A five-minute closing statement was also afforded each candidate. Selected faculty members and students served as members of the panel. Several questions were asked per candidate focusing on their programs during their opening statements.
After the open forum, a covenant signing was made witnessed by the audience stating that the candidates commit themselves for an honest and clean election free from any unfavorable actions that might degrade the right of each candidate to a proper election process and the right of the Filipino citizens for suffrage.


Baguio City Labor Day fair to offer 16 K jobs

By Aiza Caramto 

BAGUIO CITY -- A total of 15,784 jobs for local and overseas employment will be up for grabs during the Labor Day job and business fair here, the Department of Labor and Employment in the Cordillera Administrative Region said on Wednesday.
Some 1,635 local jobs are offered by local employers. These jobs include customer service representatives, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) manufacturers, English as Second Language teachers, sales associates, skilled workers into constructions, food and beverage staffs, bookkeepers, application developers and others.
For overseas employment, there are 14,149 available jobs for nurses, technicians, and factory workers.
The job fair will be held at the Baguio City National High School grounds.
A pre-registration will be held from April 25 to 27 to allow interested job seekers to cut short their queuing time on the day itself.
DOLE-CAR Regional Director Exequiel Ronie Guzman said the jobs fair aims to fast-track the meeting of jobseekers and employers and overseas recruitment agencies to reduce cost, time, and effort particularly on the part of the applicants.
It is done regularly in partnership with the local government units, the different attached agencies of the DOLE, service providers and others.
"Our employers are not just looking for skilled workers but also those persons who have the willingness to learn and contribute to the company. The applicant's attitude towards work is a necessary factor in getting hired," Guzman said.
Aside from jobs, the event will also feature a livelihood component, which comes as an option to those who will not be able to find the appropriate job for them.
The Department of Trade and Industry will also set up a Negosyo Center at the site to provide business counseling and business forum for prospective and interested entrepreneurs.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will also assist those who need to upgrade their skills to match the required job offerings or those who want to want to acquire new skills. -- PNA


Clark Int’l Airport back in business after quake

trCLARK FREEPORT – After being battered by a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that halted its operation on Monday afternoon, the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) announced its resumption of operations by 4 pm Wednesday.
The shutdown, which lasted only less than 48 hours, was due to the damage at the terminal building caused by an earthquake that struck Luzon Monday. Employees of CIAC frantically repaired the area to assure passengers that the delay in operation would only be minimal.
“Clark airport is business as usual, from counters to manifest to boarding gates,” CIAC president and CEO Jaime Melo said.
Clearing operations and repairs immediately started Tuesday morning inside the pre-departure area after a huge portion of its ceiling collapsed.
“May we remind the riding public to kindly check or coordinate with their respective airlines for confirmation of their flight schedules via Clark beginning April 24,” Melo said.


Sinner and Saints Café; a place of fusion food

By Ronamee Galangco

BAGUIO CITY -- A café located within the boundary of Baguio and La Trinidad Benguet has captivated both locals and tourists alike due to its unique take on common fusion cuisine, taking the metro and provinces traditional delicacies to the next level.
From its unique entrees like their Kapangan Kinuday, pork ribs marinated with locally made rice wine and their new addition, the Benguet shawarma, using one of the regions traditional meat, the “Etag”.
Café Owners Girlie Apuntan and Jovie Sianen expressed their love for their heritage and how these cuisines fully entrails the taste of their childhood.
“ We try to make it something other than just meat, so parang naisip namin na it should represent Cordillera. We aimed for something that is not commercialized but something that comes from us,” said Apuntan in an interview.
The establishment also boasts original recipes of pasta like their potato noodles and the unique presentation of Pinikpikan Carbonara, which captures the essence of the original mountain delicacy in a more western approach. This café is also known as the “Home of the Camote Cake” and the one of a kind dessert, the “Tapuy ice cream” or also known as rice wine ice cream.
The café employs out-of-school youths and advocates the employment of those who are labelled unemployable due to age or lack of qualifications.
Association of Technical Vocational Institutions of Benguet (ATVIB) President, Angeline T. Bugtong, applauded establishments like this who support skill-based individuals, especially now that “Hard Trade” is more sought out.
“We fully support and believe in the skills of those people who take their craft and passion to the next level, moreover for those who share their blessings to the public” said ATVIB president Bugtong.
The Café hopes to bring out ore of the Cordillera’s taste outside of the region aiming for the national tongue. 


Magalong: Baguio barangays’ growth pushed under my watch

BAGUIO CITY -- “Under my watch, all 128 barangays of Baguio City will get all-out support and assistance in the overall goal of securing our communities and propelling growth. Their officials and volunteer service providers deserve no less than the fullest assistance for them to serve honorably and tirelessly.”
Thus pointed out retired Philippine National Police Director Benjamin Magalong when asked about his plans for Baguio once he will be elected into office as mayor of the city.
He explained that barangay officials and volunteer service providers are the face of government in the eyes of our people. They exemplify what government should be all about; alert and vigilant at all times and serving as Big Brother to their neighbors.
“No stone will be left unturned to make our barangay government authorities perform well and to the utmost. After all, they are first and foremost the frontline servers of government.”
“They will be empowered, from leadership skills training to equipment and uniforms to respectable wages. They will be properly motivated for continued honest and hard work in making their constituents safe, well protected, and ably served for their most essential needs on basic healthcare, education, business and commerce, disaster risk reduction services and consistent environmental protection. For me, a happy barangay is a happy Baguio,” Magalong said.
“It is my vision to see every barangay grow in strength from resources due them and added income generated at their level. To be Baguio’s effective responders and providers, this will be among my privileged mandate as Father of the City,” he continued.
            “Lahat ng tamang ayuda para mapalakas ang ating mga barangay ay ating ilalaan bilang pagkilala sa napakahalagang tungkulin nila. Dapat natin ibuhos ang suporta upang higit pa nilang maiangat ang kanilang serbisyong dulot ay malawakang kapayapaan, katiwasayan at kasiglahan ng ating mga barangay. Isang marangal, magalang at magaling 


7 drown in NL Lent incidents

SEVEN PERSONS drowned in separate incidents in Northern Luzon on April 19.
The fatalities included four in Cagayan, two in Pangasinan and one in Isabela.
Reports said that Santiago Supnet Jr., 45; Rogie Evilla, 35; Jhon Jericho Doran, 11, and Janica de Luna, 7, were carried away by the current as they were swimming in the towns of Solana, Sto. Niño, Lal-lo and Pamplona, respectively.
Doran, De Luna and their families were having a picnic in the Cagayan River where the incident occurred.
Police said Evilla and Supnet were seen having drinking sessions with their friends before they decided to swim.
Meanwhile, in Pangasinan, Julian Cordova, 62, drowned as he and his friends were swimming in the Agno River in Mangatarem town.
Cordova, a resident of Pasay City, was vacationing with a relative in Barangay Cabayaosan.
Reports said he and his friends had a drinking session before they decided to take a dip in the river.
Cordova was declared dead on arrival at the  Mangatarem District Hospital.
In nearby Dasol town, Lota Ebidag, 20, reportedly failed to resurface after she dived in a swimming pool in Barangay Petal.
Reports said Ebidag and her boyfriend had a drinking spree before they went to the pool.
Ebidag was found unconscious under the water by her boyfriend, who rushed her to the Dasol Community Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
On the same day, Gomer Karlo Balanon, 18, drowned in the Abuan River in Ilagan City, Isabela.
Balanon was declared dead on arrival in a hospital. – Eva Visperas and Raymund Catindig


Kennon Road closed after quake

>> Sunday, April 28, 2019

By Hasreel Sandee Gano

BAGUIO CITY-- Kennon Road will not be opened to traffic pending the results of the assessment and inspection of local authorities here, the Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera Administrative Region said on Thursday.
 “Due to the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that jolted Region 3 (Central Luzon) and intensity 4 in Baguio City on April 22, the opening of Kennon Road during weekends is hereby suspended effective immediately,” stated the joint OCD and the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) Advisory No. 3 issued on April 25.
 In the past weeks since March, Kennon Road has been regularly opened to light vehicles weighing not more than five tons from 6 p.m. every Friday until 6 a.m. of Monday to ease the traffic congestion at the other entry points to Baguio.
 “A thorough inspection will be conducted by the joint inter-agency task group Kennon Road before the temporary opening during weekends will resume,” said OCD regional director and CDRRMC chairman Albert Mogol in an interview.
 Meanwhile OCD-CAR information officer Cyr Bagayao urged the public to take earthquake drills seriously.
 He said for the public to be resilient and prepared for an earthquake, they have to know how to act accordingly.
 “We always tell the public to take the earthquake drill seriously and not just for compliance sake,” said Bagayao in a separate interview.
 He said the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) through the local DRRM councils regularly hold the national simultaneous earthquake drill (NSED) to prepare the public for emergencies.
 “We do drills because we do not know when an earthquake will happen and familiarizing the people on what to do during an earthquake will prevent the loss of lives,” Bagayao said.
 “It takes practice to know the rules and the procedure by heart," he added.
 He also advised the public to be calm, do not panic and keep abreast of any update from authorities.
Bagayao also urged the public to avoid spreading fake news or misinformation, which could cause panic to the public.
 He said everyone should first verify the pieces of information they receive by checking the official social media account of government offices before sharing them.
He added that earthquakes are unpredictable and no one can say when it will happen. -- PNA


Abra town PNP officers changed to stop poll bias

BANGUED, Abra -- The Police Regional Office Cordillera on Tuesday announced a revamp in the leadership of the town police here to dispel any suspicion of biases among personnel as the May 13 mid-term election draws near.
During the relaunch of Abra Shield, Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, said Maj. Dominador de Guzman will be replaced by Maj. Daniel Bandoc as Bangued chief of police.
Lt. Col. Crisante Sadino will be replaced by Maj.Lory Parrazona as intelligence branch head.
De Guzman will be recalled to the police regional office, and Sadino, to Mt. Province police provincial office. 
 "To those of you who were brought in to refresh and intensify the security preparations in Abra for the 2019 elections, your task is basically cut out. You are here to reinforce the majority of Abra's people doing their best to attain a less violent and more honest exercise of their rights to suffrage," Dickson said.
 He said the 180th Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB), originally serving Abra province, was also relieved of its duty and replaced by the 1504th RMFB, originally based in Mt. Polis in Ifugao province.
Dickson cited the importance of the police maintaining the people's trust and confidence for a peaceful, orderly, and honest election.
"I feel the PROCOR cannot afford to put down its guard or prematurely bask complacency. We have still more than three weeks in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
It is imperative that Abra Shield must again be raised against the remaining elements that propagate the bloody politics of the province," he said.
Abra Shield is a security plan conceptualized to serve as a "handbook" in handling the elections in the province.
Meanwhile, Dickson thanked the Philippine National Police for turning over five Mahindra Scorpio police patrol vehicles, and 16 XRM 125 Honda motorcycles for additional mobility for the PROCOR.
Aside from the vehicles, the Abra police also received a repeater, a base radio, 10 mobile radios with a global positioning system, 60 handheld radios with GPS, a desktop computer, two high-frequency coded tactical packs for communication, and six drones.
Dickson reminded Abra policemen to stay non-partisan during the conduct of the May 13 national and local elections to prevent any complication and sanction. -- PNA


Vacant Bontoc youth council posts filled up

By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Sangguniang Kabataan  officials in this capital town who were elected during the special SK election last January took their oath of office on Thursday.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey administered the oath-taking saying elected SK officials were put in the position by the people, because they believed in their capabilities in responding to the needs of their barangays, especially the youth sector.
Odsey assured the full support of the municipal government to programs to be undertaken by the SK officials catering to youth empowerment and development
Prior to the oath-taking, the SK officials underwent a one-day SK mandatory training as a pre-requisite before they can assume office.
Municipal local government operations officer Caridad Basilio said the training aimed to prepare the SK officials on the responsibilities that they are expected to perform as they assume their office and empower SK officials to exercise good governance. 
Municipal legal officer Seichi Ofo-ob and Sangguniang Bayan member Alsannyster Patingan explained to the participants the SK Reform Law citing duties and functions of SK, privileges, and ground for removal from office.  Municipal youth development officer Clifton Changat discussed the conduct of meetings and resolution making. MLGOO Caridad Basilio gave emphasis on the code of ethics for government officials while municipal budget officer Aida Lingbanan lectured on SK planning and budgeting.
Senior Insp. Faith Ayan Igualdo, Bontoc police chief talked about the role of the youth in the campaign against illegal drugs.
The training was facilitated by the Department of Interior and Local Government through the MLGOO in coordination with the Liga ng mga Barangay and SK Federation President Sherwin Chamkas.


Kibungan to Congress: Exempt us from mining

By Macarthy B. Malanes

KIBUNGAN, Benguet – After several years of leading the community in opposing the entry of a mining company for mineral exploration in this town, leaders of indigenous peoples’ group here are bent on pushing for initiatives to defend the town’s ancestral domain.
Jose Gallano, president of the Palina Indigenous Peoples Community Association (PIPCA), disclosed that townsfolk will continue to petition Congress to enact a law exempting Kibungan from any mining application as the bill re-filed by Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan for this purpose could not be acted upon this time because the august body is already on recess for the election period.   
Cosalan, in response to strong clamor from residents and town officials, filed a bill in the previous Congress declaring Kibungan a mining free zone, which was approved by the lower house but was not acted by the Senate before the 2016 national and local election.  
The Benguet solon refiled this bill during the present congress and got the support of the members of the Committee on Natural Resources after conducting several hearings which Kibungan elders attended.
But with a new congress on June 30 this year, Gallano said their group will have to help lobby anew for a similar proposed bill as the legislative process will be back to square one.
He said town elders remain hopeful that whoever will succeed the third termer Cosalan as Benguet congressman will still support the move to declare Kibungan a mining-free zone.
“We will continue to lobby for the enactment of a law exempting Kibungan from any mining application so that we will be assured that our land and resources especially our water sources are protected for the benefit of future generations,” Gallano said.
He added that the collective position of townsfolk against large scale mining was based on sad lessons from mining devastated communities. 
Gallano pointed out that agriculture and eco-tourism remain the potential sources of sustainable livelihood for the town populace.
As another means to protect their ancestral domain, the elder further revealed that PIPCA is also pushing for the declaration of the century-old Palina Rice Terraces as heritage site. If this will materialize, Gallano explained, the rice terraces and the whole of Palina barangay will be protected.
Gallano is thus appealing for incoming local officials to initiate measures for the possible heritage site recognition of Palina and other areas of the town apart from incorporating this under the town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).


The scent of Pine

March L. Fianza

What is missing in Baguio is the smell of Pine. I hear this everytime from homecoming Baguio folks, and from both local and foreign tourists who have stayed in the city decades ago.
The common sentiment for them and for those who know the familiar smell is for Baguio to get back the scent. That, especially when basura, sewer and reeking canals at Lower Session Road down to Center Mall are what residents and visitors inhale today.
For being under the same chief executive for 18 years, this adorable city has not seen enhancement of its green environment. Instead, its trees were allowed to be cut nonstop – giving way to subdivision developers and the construction of high-rise buildings.
True indeed, this city cannot maintain the scent of Pine because it has a chief executive who once admitted that he cannot do anything when asked to stop the cutting of trees on Luneta Hill “because the land is private property”.
Last Monday, some 193 countries including the Philippines celebrated “Earth Day”, an event that is observed annually on April 22. It is a day that promotes environmental awareness and calls for the protection of our planet.
Incidentally we are in an election season, and so I noticed that in the leaflets of the political bets, only Baguio mayoral candidate Atty. Jose M. Molintas wrote the most doable environment promise.
That is, create an environment bureau to establish barangay nurseries and plant at least a million trees all around the city. The target to plant a million trees is very, very doable. No mayoral candidate said that other than Atty. Jose M. Molintas.
Meanwhile, we express our sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the supporters and campaign workers of the Onjon ti Baguio team of mayoral bet Atty. Jose M. Molintas.
In Benguet, campaigning for a sustainable green environment was never out of the agenda of incumbent Governor and re-electionist Crescencio C. Pacalso, while his political contenders made promises of financial returns to businessmen-supporters.
Under his watch, he seeks to operationalize further the Provincial Environment Code which he has started doing so when he sat as chief executive in 2016. So far, the province has approved the monthly honorarium for community forest rangers and has started the accreditation of pollution control officers that is on-going.
For one, that is good governance, compared to the past when a former capitol CEO had nothing good on top of his head but to think of overpricing the purchase of road equipment and raiding the treasury to purchase silyasi, parachute tents, senior citizens’ vests and tsinelas that he distributed during the past election campaign.
Talking of good governance or you may call it clean governance, at least the present Benguet Capitol occupant thought of providing a unified direction for the province through the formulation of a provincial strategic map. This has not been initiated by any past administration.
To begin with, the present administration improved public transparency and accountability by establishing an operational internal audit office; and re-establishing the projects monitoring office – two vital organizations in good governance that the past provincial executive deliberately eliminated for his own hidden reasons.
Also, contrary to what one Benguet gubernatorial bet has been distributing in his campaign sorties through some punong barangays who are supportive of his creepy attempt to discredit his political opponents, the inventory and assessment of the provincial government’s estate, properties and landholdings has been on-going since last year.
With that, it was learned that it is only this time again that such an activity was launched or perhaps that was never done in the past.
By the way, I was told that an ABC president in the north of Benguet, along with some punong barangays are openly participating in political campaigns, an act punishable under the election code.
Comelec officials in the municipalities should do their part and issue warnings against the punong barangays and punish those who continue to violate the rules.
Speaking of the devil, senatorial hopeful Atty. Glenn Chong who, along with AA Kasosyo partylist nominee Mocha Uson sneaked in the Cordillera region last week, said the Comelec is still facing 33 cases.
Included in the list of pending cases is that one where the justice department found probable cause to charge Comelec and Smartmatic personnel for violating Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The DOJ ordered the filing of criminal charges against the Comelec and vote-counting machine supplier Smartmatic for changing the script in the servers in the middle of transmissions of results during the 2016 polls.
Senatorial bet Glenn Chong insists that the electorate must get rid of Smartmatic because no one should be tampering with the election system while voting and counting is still under the process. That is one vote from me.
Meanwhile, a senatorial bet being peddled as a fighter for indigenous peoples was a no show during a Cordillera Day activity. When one chooses to go to an event other than where he is expected, it means that he skipped the other because it is less important. No vote from me.
That is the reality for IPs, they are always second priority, even to their perceived heroes.


My theory of connectivity

Ike Señeres

I used to say that for as long as there is a signal, I could deliver all online services to any point in the Philippines, regardless of height or distance. That would mean delivering online services even to the highest mountain or the farthest island, again for as long as there is a signal. Nowadays however, I do not say that anymore because one way or the other, I could find the means to deliver a signal to anywhere meaning everywhere within the territory of the Philippines. Going back to my basic premise; it would also mean that we could deliver any and all online services to anywhere, for as long as there is something to deliver, meaning that for as long as there is a service provider at the backend.
Pardon me if it might sound as if I am bragging, but please understand where I am coming from, the fact that I am coming from an era of dial-up modems, when the fastest means of connectivity was copper phone lines. Perhaps it was just a play of words, but we accepted the legal fiction at that time that Digital Service Line (DSL) was a high speed broadband connection, but it was only later on when we understood that despite the hype, DSL was still running on copper and it was only considered as high speed because it was the highest possible speed at that time, but it was really nothing compared to the real high speed fiber optic connectivity that we have today.
As the saying goes: if there is a will, there is a way, and that saying applies as well to installing connectivity! In other words, if there is a desire, there is always a way to install a connection, one way or the other. In some cases, the cost of connectivity might become an issue, but in response to that, the costs should be evaluated in relation to how much value it would create. For example, how much value could you assign to a means of connectivity that could not only save human lives, but also improve human lives, among others that it would be capable of doing? From my perspective, I would even say that no matter how much the cost of connectivity is, the value that it would create would always be higher or greater.
I would not be surprised if DSL is still available in many parts of our country, still good for connecting to the internet. In practically all of these locations, Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications is still available, ready to connect your mobile phones to the internet. And in many locations in our country, Long Term Evolution (LTE) is already available, providing better and faster connectivity. Aside from these three, fiber optic connections are now available from third party providers or from cable television operators. And if that is not enough, there is always the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) option that provides satellite connectivity. On top of all these, there is always a microwave option that could connect distant locations via line of sight.
In theory, any form of two-way communications between two people for medical purposes could already be considered as telemedicine, even if the person at the other end is not necessarily a doctor or a medical professional. In a recent visit to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City, I was excited to find out that they already have a Department of Telemedicine, and they are already making great progress in the fields of tele-radiology and tele-psychiatry. What is good about this development is that the SPMC is more than willing to reach out to all the other hospitals in Mindanao, thus forming a massive network of hubs and spokes, SPMC being one of the hubs.
In recent memory, we could recall that it was a huge challenge how to transmit large files such as X-Ray files from one point to another. That problem was partially solved when Dropbox and Google Drive came along. The better solution came when cloud hosting became cheaper, and that is the solution that SPMC is using now. Instead of transmitting large files from one point to another, these files are now uploaded to the cloud, and from there, these could already be read from the internet, using a browser or viewer. One good thing about this technology is that most hospitals are using the same Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard. Note that DICOM is not a brand, it is a standard, perhaps a shining example of how technology could be used to benefit all of mankind, and not just their greedy proprietary brand owners.
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Problems in Baguio smoke-free campaign

Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Barangays are getting more active in the implementation of Ordinance No. 34-2017 or the Smoke-Free Baguio City Ordinance despite encountering obstacles in the enforcement.
During the Smoke-Free Medium-Term Planning held April 22-24 in Bauang, La Union, some barangay officials along with the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) enforcers shared their experiences in the enforcement of the ordinance, some of which were unpleasant.
They cited instances when they were scorned at the social media and derided on site.
They said there were those accosted who resort to dropping the names of city officials or other influential persons to skirt penalties.
“Others some whom call center agents tried to scare or belittle us by speaking to us in unfamiliar English terms and acting high-handed,” one enforcer related.
One barangay nutrition scholar said some of them even received death threats from those caught in the smoke-free drive.
“The threats came incessantly prompting some of our officials to consider lying low in the enforcement but that should not be an option for us for the sake of the good intention of the ordinance,” the health worker said.
Dr. Donnabel Tubera, tobacco control officer of the City Health Services Office lauded the enthusiasm and dedication of the deputized barangay officials which she said is primordial in achieving the ultimate goal of making tobacco control programs in the city sustainable.
Recently, the Baguio City Smoke-Free Task Force of the city government awarded two barangays for their exemplary performance of their smoke-free functions.
Barangays Lopez Jaena and DPS received certificates of commendation from city officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
During the planning session, representatives of at least 16 barangays joined various city government offices, line agencies and other sectors in presenting their action plans for more effective enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance in the city.
The Smoke-Free Project Team that facilitated the planning headed by Project Development Officer Cecille Agpawa said the outputs on the priority action plans will serve as basis for the strategic plan for the campaign from 2019-2022.
Around 70 participated in the planning where the task force also presented the accomplishment of the smoke-free program, result of the Baguio Adult Tobacco Survey and the Philippines Performance Index. 
In October last year, Mayor Domogan issued Administrative Order no. 136-18 that decentralizes the implementation of the smoke-free ordinance and commissioned the 128 barangays through their deputized smoke-free point persons to become part of the 16 community task forces to act as enforcers.
Among the duties of the task forces are to receive, review and process reports and complaints and notify deputized members to validate reports; inspect and monitor compliance of all places covered by the Ordinance, check the appropriateness of the designated smoking areas and recommend the approval, suspension or revocation of licenses or permits and closure of non-compliant establishments; conduct educational awareness campaigns on the ordinance, ill effects of smoking and exposure to second hand smoke and smoking cessation program; and inspect the presence of appropriate Smoke-Free signages.
A recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in the city showed a significant decrease in the prevalence of current tobacco use among adult residents.
City Health Services Office Medical Officer IV Dr. Nelson Hora bared in his talk during the Baguio City Smoke-Free Medium-Term Planning last April 22-24 that from the prevalence rate of 37.5 percent in 2014 and 34 percent in 2016, the figure dropped to 17 percent in 2019.
There was a slight decrease in tobacco use among men with 30 percent in 2019 from 32.1 percent in 2016 and 51.2 percent in 2014 while among women, the figure ebbed substantially to 7.3 percent this year from a high of 35.8 percent in 2016 and 21.8 percent in 2014.
The GATS was jointly conducted by the CHSO under City Health Officer Rowena Galpo and the St. Louis University School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine which Hora also heads.
The local survey followed strictly the GATS standard guidelines utilized worldwide and covered the city’s 16 health districts with a total of 1,949 respondents aged 15 years old and above.
The study also looked into the exposure to second hand smoke in the past 30 days and found that figures for this year showed not much improvement from 2016 as against the drastic drop from 2014.
Exposure in health care facility, government facility, public transport and restaurants in 2019 registered slight increases from the 2016 rates but were a vast improvement from the 2014 figures.
The percentage of adults who believe that smoking causes serious illness remained high at 99. 12 percent.
The average monthly expenditure for manufactured cigarettes skyrocketed to P1,000 this year as compared to P450 in 2016 and P 160 in 2014 while a look at the average expenditure per week among manufactured cigarette smokers showed that majority of the respondents spend P200-299 at 31 percent; P300-P399, 23 percent; P100-P199 at 22 percent;P100, 14 percent and P400-P499, 10 percent.
The GATS also showed the following:
*Percentage of current smokers by smoking status and sex:
Current smoker --  17.6 percent overall; 30 percent men; and 7.3 percent women;
Daily smoker -- 12.8 percent overall; 22.7 percent men; and 4.3 percent women;
Occasional smoker -- 4.8 percent overall; 7.2 percent men; and 2.8 percent women.
*Percentage of adults exposed to tobacco smoke at home by smoking status and sex: 17.30 percent over all; and 17.29 percent non-smoker; 
Male 33.33 percent, non-smoker 16.89 percent; Female 21.88 percent 17.52 non-smoker.
On the interest in quitting smoking, 37 percent indicated interest to quit someday but not in the next 12 months; 22 percent said they were thinking of quitting within next 12 months; 19 percent planning to quit within the next month; 18 percent not interested in quitting; and 4 percent do not know.
On E-cigarette use, it was revealed that 1.5 percent of the respondents used E-cigarettes 2 percent of whom males and 1.1 percent females.
As to age of E-cigarette users, 4.3 percent are 15-24 years old; 1.3 percent, 25-34 years old; 0.3 percent, 35-44; 0.7 45-54; and o percent 55 years old and above.


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