Busol Watershed illegal structures demolished

>> Monday, March 29, 2021

Mayor: ‘All illegal settlers will be removed’ 

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Demolition of illegal structures started here Wednesday at Busol Watershed targeting 16 structures.
Five structures were torn down press time at Liteng area while 11 were spared due to temporary restraining order issued by the court.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday said he would pursue demolition of illegal structures at the watershed to preserve the pinestand which is the biggest source of potable water and one of the few remaining forest reserves in the city.
    "To finally put an end to this decades long problem, we shall continue to take action and remove illegal settlers within our watersheds for the benefit of the people," the mayor said.
    The mayor said the city had conducted a series of dialogues with the watershed occupants on the city's demolition plan even before the pandemic happened.
    He said they had an agreement with around 150 occupants and heads of the four barangays straddling the reservation for them to cooperate with the city by refraining from introducing improvements or expansion of their existing structures, helping guard against further intrusions and undertaking preservation measures for the watershed.
    The mayor said a recent inspection of the site showed stark violation of the agreement as there were expansions undertaken and new structures that mushroomed to the detriment of the forest reserve and water resource of the city.
    Because of these findings, demolition was scheduled after the affected parties were notified in January, according to the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO).
    The demolition targeted 16 structures and was set for March 23 and 24. Five structures were torn down and 11 were spared due to a temporary restraining order issued by the court.
    On Aug. 9, 2019, the mayor agreed to put on hold the demolition of eight on-going constructions at the watershed after securing the commitment of the informal settlers to guard the reservation from further intrusion.
    The mayor then conducted a dialogue with the occupants where he stressed the city’s firm position to safeguard the remaining unoccupied portion of the watershed placed at only 60 percent of the entire Baguio side of the reservation it shares with La Trinidad, Benguet.
    He said that while the city gives humanitarian consideration to the predicament of the occupants, many of whom are ancestral land claimants who claimed to be long time settlers of the forest reserve, law and order must be respected.
    But while the city is deciding on what action to take and while court cases remain pending, the mayor said the city can strike an agreement with the occupants toward the achievement of a common aim to preserve what is left of the watershed.
    “If we don’t agree soon, we are sure to move in the direction of removing all of you from the watershed because our priority is to save the watershed from further intrusion and destruction,” the mayor issued this challenge then leading to the agreement.
    The mayor also agreed to give them time to organize and present a plan of action for the guarding and preservation of the watershed and promised to explore ways to help them in their predicament.
Busol, the city’s biggest source of potable water, is embroiled in several court cases involving informal settlers and ancestral land claimants.
    On Feb. 4, 2009 the Supreme Court ruled with finality sustaining the city government’s bid to demolish some structures covered by Demolition Order No. 33 series of 2005 of former mayor Braulio Yaranon.
    The High Tribunal sustained the city government’s contention that the city is governed by its charter and “thus, (lot occupants) cannot claim their alleged ancestral lands under the provisions of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA).”
    To date there are other cases pending before the various courts.
    The city is also poised to pursue the reversion procedures before the Office of the Solicitor General to reclaim the 7.8 hectare lot within the Busol watershed that was divided into 22 lots and illegally titled by unscrupulous individuals in 2015.
    The subject lot is covered by a 211 title or part of those titles issued under Civil Reservation Case No. 1 Record 211 and which were declared void by the Supreme Court because the court that issued the same had no jurisdiction.  The said titles can be legalized only upon undergoing validation proceedings.


Baguio City Covid cases reach 6,877; tourists from NCR, 4 provinces banned

By Carlito C. Dar

BAGUIO CITY – A total of 6,877 confirmed Covid-19 cases was recorded in this summer capital wherein 714 (10.38 percent) were active cases, 6,046 (87.92 percent) already recovered and 117 (1.70 percent) deaths as of March 21, data of the City Health Services Office bared.
    Due to this, this summer capital is temporarily not accepting leisure travel or tourists from the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal.
    This is in compliance with Inter Agency Task Force on Covid – 19(IATF) resolution 104, Mayor Benjamin Magalong announced  during after flag raising ceremony at city hall grounds  Monday.  
    The temporary ban is effective March 22 to April 4, 2021 but subject to change if there are new recommendation from the IATF, the mayor said.
    As the ban is for leisure travel only, exemption is given to APOR (authorized person outside residences) and those on essential travels such as official government or business travel and medical or hospital appointment in Baguio, but they must register at hdf.baguio.gov.ph.
    Magalong urged public understanding on the city government’s decision to ensure safety in accordance with the IATF resolution, even though the decision will affect the city’s tourism industry as around 70 percent of the Baguio’s visitors come from the said areas.
    In relation to this directive, the City Tourism Office urged Baguio visitors who have approved travel and QTP   to re-schedule their visit by editing their current travel application in their VISITA account.
    Local tourists or travelers from other areas, are still welcome to visit Baguio but must register at visita.baguio.gov.ph. 
    They should have duly approved VISITA QTP code and must present RT – PCR negative result (issued within the last 72 hours) or they can avail of antigen test (for a fee of P500) upon arrival at the Central Triage Area.
    Meantime, Magalong urged local folks to strictly adhere to health and safety protocols to protect themselves and their families, especially those frequently going out of their homes, either for work or essential travel, as increase in new confirmed cases were recorded in Baguio, mostly due to contact tracing and expanded testing under initiative of the city government. – PIA Cordillera


Banaue landslide buries house; 2 workers killed

BANAUE, Ifugao – Two workers died when a landslide buried their house here at Sitio Talop, Kinakin morning of March 22. 
 The remains of two workers were retrieved from the decimated house.
Maj. Michael Dangilan, chief of police of the municipality, said the victims, Emiliano H. Lupais, 40 and Ernesto Cirais, 59 were sleeping when the landslide occurred.
The soil loosened amid heavy downpour resulting to the landslide, he added. 
The incident was reported to Banaue Municipal Police Station at about at 1:45 a.m.
Residents immediately conducted search-and-rescue operation.
They retrieved the bodies of the victims at 2:15 a.m.
“Panay ang ulan dito noong mga nakaraang araw kaya maaring bumigay ‘yong lupa at alam naman natin ang Banaue ay isang landslide prone area,” Dangilan said.


Dead Benguet mayor had Covid-19

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Results of two swab tests conducted on Mayor Faustino Aquisan of Kabayan, Benguet who died of cardiac arrest showed he was positive of Covid-19.
    Aquisan, 61, died while being treated at the Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital in Baguio on March 21.
    The mayor was tested at Kabayan prior to being rushed to the hospital, which was repeated at the medical facility.
    Both positive test results were received March 21 after the official was declared dead.
    His remains were immediately cremated and his ashes were brought to the chapel of the Philippine Episcopal Church’s Cathedral of the Resurrection.
    After three days, Aquisan’s ashes was transported to Kabayan and later to his residence in La Trinidad.
    People who had close contact with the mayor from March 6 to March 19 were advised to undergo home quarantine.
    Aquisan served Kabayan for three terms before he ran and lost in the 2016 congressional elections.
    Kabayan, located some three hours away drive from here, has recorded Covid-19 positive cases in November 2020.
    The town was able to prevent the infection from spreading by implementing strict entry protocols at its borders.  


NPA commander killed in San Mariano Isabela clash

By Leander Domingo

GAMU, Isabela -- The Army’s 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) here has confirmed the death of a Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) commander in an encounter in San Mariano Sur village in San Guillermo town, Isabela.
    Maj. Gen. Laurence Mina, 5th ID commander, identified the fatality based on information from former NPA rebels and documents as Rosalio Canubas alias Yuni, commander of the Regional Operations Command (ROC) and the Regional Sentro De Gravidad, Komiteng Rehiyon-Cagayan Valley (KR-CV) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
    Mina said Canubas was killed during an encounter between troops of the 86th Infantry Battalion and the rebel group in Isabela on March 15.
    Canubas, a native of Calinan in Davao City was a cadre known as alias Dondie from the Regional Headquarters, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) before he was directed by the Central Committee of the CPP-NPA to transfer to Region 2 to lead the ROC and establish the Komiteng Larangang Guerilla Quirino-Nueva Vizcaya of the KR-CV.
    According to Mina, reports revealed that Canubas led the burning of the millions of peso-worth heavy equipment and high-end utility vehicles of a mining firm at Barangay Dimaluadi in Dinapigue town, Isabela on October 28, 2015.
    Canubas reportedly led the hundred-armed CPP-NPA members that attacked the Maddela Police Station in Quirino province on the night of April 29, 2017 where they killed a policeman and seized police firearms and uniforms.
    During the encounter in San Guillermo town, Canubas was fatally hit and was brought by his comrades to Barangay Dingading in the said town in an attempt to hide him from the pursuing Army troops.
    Mina said the Army was able to locate the place where the NPA buried Canubas through information shared by the locals.


La Trinidad sets priorities for Covid-19 vaccination

By Susan C. Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The local government here is set for   Covid-19 vaccination deployment in the municipality starting with inoculation of health workers last March 18.
    Municipal Health Officer Antonette Agpas said preparation was different from regular vaccination programs of government.
    Meetings were held on plans for inoculation when vaccines will be available for the target population.
    The Municipal Inter-Agency Task Force identified three major vaccination fixed sites, the Benguet State University open and closed gymnasium, Benguet Sports Complex including a building of the Benguet National High School and Puguis Elementary School.
    La Trinidad Municipal Health officer Dr. Antonette Agpas presented details of the Covid 19 vaccination deployment plan of the municipality in a Kapihan sa Benguet forum on March 17, at the Benguet State University Gym. 
    Agpas urged registration of eligible population to reach their target of 60-70 percent of population which is   crucial for master listing of who will be vaccinated based on priority lists.
    At least 70 percent of the population should be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to minimize the risk of getting infected, she said.   
    Under Priority Eligible A are frontline health workers in health facilities, senior citizens, folks with comorbidities, frontline personnel in essential sectors and poor population based on the National Health Targeting System (NHTS).
    Second in line under Priority Eligible B are teachers, social workers and government workers
    Third priority are socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and poor population based on NHTS while fourth are overseas Filipino workers and other remaining workers.
    Agpas cited importance of master listing of eligible population for their date of scheduling and respective site where they could be administered the vaccine.
    As much as possible walk-in patients are discouraged as there are relevant information needed in the master list prior to undergoing the vaccination process 
    Mayor Romeo Salda in the forum called on those who have not registered yet to do so to be included in the vaccination master list.
    Eligible population may register either manually or online which could be accessed at the Facebook page of the municipality.
    In partnership with some agencies, master listing is ongoing at the barangay level through house-to-house, fixed site as identified in the barangay, distribution of forms to offices and establishments, and through online.
    The municipal government will allot  P27 million for the town’s vaccination deployment program including purchase of vaccines, but  the Sangguniang Bayan has yet to approve the funding under supplemental budget appropriation, according to Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan. – PIA Benguet


Sagada cultural lockdown on as Covid surge up

By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- The local government here implemented “sedey,” another cultural lockdown amidst the surge of Covid-19 cases in this scenic town.
    On March 22, the Sagada Municipal Health Office reported 41 new Covid-19 cases bringing the total case in the municipality to 194.
    There have been 76 recorded recoveries, 116 active cases and two Covid-19 related deaths.
    Mayor James Pooten Jr. said the municipality observed “sedey,” March 24 from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    This was seen to lessen spread of Covid-19 and facilitate “cleansing” within the community
    During the period of the ritual, residents remained inside their homes except when getting essential goods and emergency services. 
    Gatherings and other activities were also prohibited.
    Inbound and outbound travel to and from the municipality, and inter-barangay travel were prohibited.
    All offices and establishments not involved in essential goods and services were closed during “sedey.” 
    Travelers passing through the municipality were allowed passage.
Pooten said “sedey” was meant to safeguard their localities from negativity and any unfortunate events.
The local government had been doing this practice since the start of Covid-19 pandemic last year.
Meanwhile, the lockdown in Barangay Balugan starting March 19 was extended to March 29 to curb surge of cases in the area.
Pooten issued executive order No. 17-2021 placing under granular lockdown Balugan, with exception of Sitio Pide, and declaring it as a critical zone and under localized enhanced community quarantine due to spike in Covid-19 cases the past days.
The local government noted that within a week, there had been a series of surges in the number of Covid-19 affected individuals in Balugan. – PIA Cordillera


Baguio eyes Sablan as waste-to-energy site

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government will purchase private property in nearby Sablan town as  permanent site for the proposed waste-to-energy facility because of financial issues involved in alternative site in Mount Sto. Tomas.
    Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong requested the city’s local finance committee to source out funds to purchase of an 8,000-square meter property in Sablan town where the WTE plant can be established for the city government to have an income-generating project.
    He added that the proposed alternative site for the waste-to-energy plant in the city-owned property in Mount Sto. Tomas has financial implications because of the terrain and the need to access road network leading to the area with an estimated cost of around P200 million based on projections from the City Engineering Office the previous years.
    Magalong said social acceptability preparation for the project is being undertaken by the proponent as the same is part of initial processes for issuance of the required environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the project.
    Metro Global Renewable Energy Corporation, proponent of the Sablan WTE project, recently presented the results of its pre-feasibility study they conducted with at least 500 tons of mixed waste that can be converted into more than 10 megawatts of renewable energy that can be sold to the Benguet Electric Coop. (Beneco).
    The proponent will be using state-of-the-art technology that is environmentally-friendly with less emissions in the conversion of the mixed waste to quality renewable power while providing a permanent solution to the long overdue garbage disposal problem not only of the city government, but also the neighboring towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay (LISTT).
    The city had been locating suitable properties for this facility which is projected to be a permanent solution to the city’s ongoing garbage disposal woes.
     Local governments have been mandated by law to close the operation of their open dumpsites and replace them with environmentally-friendly facilities for the protection of environment and health of the people.


Benguet lass prides self on ‘track’ as future electrician

By Liza Agoot  

BOKOD, Benguet – Kate Scott, a young lady from the town of Bokod, said training to become an electrician is not something women should be afraid of, but a source of pride.
    She said girls like her are also capable of performing tasks which used to be just for men.
    Scott said gender is not an issue in her course Bachelor of Technical Vocational Teacher Education, in which training and practice to hone the skill in doing house electrical wiring is a foundation.
    The 19-year-old barrio lass from Barangay Daclan here was undergoing a one-on-one practical examination with her professor in her house wiring subject at Benguet State University-Bokod campus early this week when interviewed by the Philippine News Agency.
    She was working on a series of lighting systems, connecting one to the other and to the switch.
Benguet State University is a government-run academic institution with several campuses in Benguet province that bring quality education to far-flung communities.
    Both hands holding pliers while fixing the wires, Kate said in Ilocano, "This is not just for men, women can do it too as long as you know the safety precautions."
    Her course does not only prepare her to become a licensed teacher but also a skilled electrician.
    Now on her second year in college, she is determined to finish her studies, believing she could be as skilled as the men in the profession, for which she is arming herself with theoretical and practical training.
    Scott recalled that her interest in the field started in high school. She said with the basic training she acquired in her Technical and Livelihood Education subject, she decided to take the course after graduation. "Gusto ko na iba naman sa mga kapatid ko (I want to be different from my siblings)," she said.
    Scott's eldest sibling is soon graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. The second is taking up a food science course while the youngest is still in high school.
    Cesar Miguel Suayan, Scott's professor in Electrical Technology, said she is one of only two students who continued with the course amid the pandemic.
    He said there used to be over a hundred students but the pandemic left only Kate and another male classmate in the roster. The others opted to stay at their family farm to tend to their crops.
    "I offered to give one-on-one lecture because of the safety issue involved in handling electricity on their own at home and Kate responded," Suayan said.
    He said that for Scott to be able to practice a profession as an electrician, she needs to pass the licensure examination for teachers and acquire a national certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
    Suayan also said Scott has always shown determination to learn and hone her skills. -- PNA


6 nabbed in Cordillera for transporting illegal lumber

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet  – Six persons were arrested in separate checkpoint operations for violation of Presidential Decree No. 705 (Anti-Illegal Logging Law), the police regional office here at Camp Dangwa bared in a report.
    In Ifugao, four suspects were intercepted in a quarantine control point at Poblacion East, Lamut town March 18 while transporting several illegal lumber.
    They were identified as William Mo-og Dag-o, Curt Jaze Addao Dag-o, Hazen Liguyon Pinkihan, and Roldan Dag-o Liangna, said a report from provincial police director Col. David D. Mariano.
    Suspects were on board an Elf truck containing sawn lumber of gmelina and mahogany bound to Nueva Vizcaya.
    They were arrested after enforcers noticed their permit only specified gmelina lumber. No documents were presented for mahogany.
    A total of 632.26 board feet worth P22,129 mahogany lumber were seized from the suspects.
    These were brought to Lamut police station along with suspects and the vehicle.
    In Kalinga, two suspects were arrested in Barangay Gobgob, Tabuk City, after law enforcers confiscated 12 pieces of illegally sawn Narra flitches worth P27,488 on March 21.
    Police disclosed they received a call from Environment personnel manning Cawagayan Pinukpuk, Kalinga checkpoint asking for their assistance.
    They were informed said personnel tried to flag down a utility van believed to be carrying illegally sawn narra flitches, but the driver sped away and evaded the checkpoint.
    Police officers chased the suspects identified as Jorge Tomaldong Eyawon and Roger Damolkins Salipen, both residents of Cudal, Tabuk City, Kalinga.
The confiscated pieces of evidence including the said van were turned over to Tabuk Environment office while arrested suspects were brought to Tabuk police station.


Winners in Mt Prov PNP women gun shoot bared

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Winners were bared in the first  Women’s Fun Shoot in the province held March 20 at the firing range here in Barangay Samoki.
    The event was one of the highlights of Women’s Month celebration by Mountain Province Police Provincial Office. Gracing the event as guest of honor and speaker was provincial Board Member Joshua Fronda, a gun enthusiast and a member of Foresight 1911 Gun Club, Team Montanyosa.
    A ceremonial shoot by Col. Ruben B. Andiso, provincial police director; Lt. Col. Crisante P. Sadino, deputy provincial police director for administration, Lt. Col. Joseph B. Cayat, deputy provincial police director for operations and Fronda signaled start of the event.
    There were 14 competing teams, composed of five policewomen from police stations, Provincial Mobile Force Company and provincial police headquarters.
    For team competition, Natonin town police emerged as  champion followed by Bauko, 1st runner-up; PHQ Team 1, 2nd runner-up and PMFC as 3rd runner-up.
    Special awards for “best lady shooter/s were given to Natonin police and PMFC, while special awards for Women versus Women Challenge were given to Natonin and Bontoc police.
    The event, initiated and sponsored by Col. Andiso was reportedly meant to change mindset that policewomen are for office work only.
    In his message, Andiso said policewomen should be adept with their service firearms and should continuously enhance their marksmanship skills.
    He urged police to take advantage of opportunities such as this to improve themselves.
    Fronda expressed his appreciation for the fun shoot. In his speech, he also acknowledged the positive impact of the deployment of policewomen in the field, such as in patrols and in triage areas during this Covid-19 pandemic.


High fines for colorums; 3 impounded in Region 2

By Mark Djeron C. Tumabao

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan --- The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)- Cagayan Valley Region has apprehended three colorum vehicles this March.
    Under joint administrative order No. 2014-01, operators of apprehended colorum vehicles are fined: bus, P1,000,000; van, P200,000; sedan, P120,000 and jeep, P50,000.
    Colorum vehicles according to the Dept. of Transportation are public utility vehicles (PUVs) that operate without franchises or are unregistered.
    Regional Director Edward L. Cabase said two colorum UVEs were apprehended by the LTFRB Enforcement Team in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya last week.
    Also, the director led the apprehension of a Foton Van Traveller along the Balete Pass, Tactac in Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya on March 10.
    The apprehension was implemented in coordination with town  police chief Capt. Angelo Dasalla.
    In an interview, Cabase said the apprehensions were manifestation of strong stand of their agency against colorum vehicles in the region.
    The director urged the public not to patronize colorum vehicles as there is no guarantee that colorum vehicles could be held accountable during accidents.
    As of writing, apprehended UVEs are  impounded at LTFRB Region 2 premises. -- PIA Cagayan Valley


Covid Vaccine Updates

 195 Apayao health workers get anti-Covid-129 vaccines

LUNA, Apayao --  --The Apayao provincial government through the  Provincial Health Office and the Dept. of Health kicked off anti-Covid-19 vaccination program in the province March 10   with 195 frontline workers  in four hospitals   inoculated.
    Frontline medical and non-medical workers at the Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center (FNLGHTC) in Luna, Conner District Hospital (CDH) in Conner, Santa Marcela Medicare and Community Hospital in Sta. Marcela, and the Apayao District Hospital in Calanasan received the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine in their respective facilities.
    FNLGHTC chief of medical professional staff Dr. Felipe Agbisit was the first to be vaccinated in their hospital while chief of hospital Dr. Nelson Rigor was the first vaccinee   at CDH.
    Gov. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang and Vice Gov. Remy Albano with the provincial vaccination monitoring team headed by OIC-PHO II Dr. Amy Liza Maruquin, PHO-I Dr. Mark Joleen Calban and PDOHO Charlyn Tagabing witnessed the vaccination in Luna.
    The PLGU launched the vaccination program in the province March 8 following the ceremonial turnover of 960 doses of Sinovac vaccines from DOH Cordillera to PLGU and health facilities.
    Calban said 960 doses of Sinovac vaccine were intended for healthcare workers in health facilities in the province.
    At least 400 doses were allocated to the FNLGHTC, 350 doses to CDH, and 40 for each for the Apayao District Hospital, Apayao Provincial Hospital in Kabugao, Flora District Hospital in Flora, Santa Marcela Medicare and Community Hospital in Santa Marcela, while the Amma Jasdac District Hospital in Pudtol is allotted 50 doses.
     Begtang cited medical and non-medical personnel who volunteered to be among the first batch of vaccinees. – PIA Apayao

Vaccine registration for Baguio senior citizens on

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY  – The pre-registration (profiling and master listing) of senior citizens for Covid-19 vaccination is still on. 
    The City Health Services Office said the activity has been extended to cover other elderly who have not been profiled and master listed yet.
    Senior citizens may enlist either through the submission of Google Form Response using the Google Form link for Senior Citizens: https://forms.gle/XKBKxXSmKNcEgo5K6 or through interviews by roving barangay health workers (BHWs),
    Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs), barangay nutrition workers (BNWs), district health centers and public and private hospitals, long-term care facilities catering to senior citizens.
    The CHSO said the profiling and master listing are just pre-registration activities and are different from the registration proper which will be covered by a separate activity.
    There are three priority groups in the vaccination plan:
    Group A: Those working in frontline health services will be vaccinated first, all senior citizens (from the oldest), patients with other illnesses (such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension), non-medical frontline personnel in important sectors ( with uniformed personnel), and indigents or disadvantaged.
    Group B: Teachers and social workers, other government staff, other essential workers, groups with high risk of COVID-19 (except senior citizens and disadvantaged), OFWs, and other Filipinos will follow working.
    Group C: All other Filipino citizens.

450 Ifugao health workers vaccinated with Sinovac

 LAMUT, Ifugao – A total of 450 hospital healthcare workers in the province were vaccinated with anti-Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine March 10. 
    The first batch of   450 vials of Sinovac vaccine arrived March 14   for Panopdopan District Hospital (PDH) with  170, Aguinaldo People’s Hospital, 40; Potia District Hospital, 100; Mayoyao District Hospital, 60; Hungduan Municipal Hospital, 20 and Tinoc District Hospital, 60.   
    The vaccination started at Panopdopan and Potia district hospitals in Lamut and Alfonso Lista towns respectively.  
     Panopdopan District Hospital medical personnel doctors  Eusebia Guyguyon, Villa Aurello Sadam, Deodatus Tiangge, Ligaya Marie Idolor and Aizle Debbie Aclibon  were  first five to be vaccinated,  witnessed by representatives from  the Dept. of Health, Provincial Health Office and other line agencies.
    Hospital chief Dr. Ceasar Sevillena also took the first shot at the Potia district hospital followed by other doctors and health workers of the facility.
    Health workers at the Mayoyao District Hospital, Aguinaldo People's Hospital and Hungduan Municipal Hospital were vaccinated March 9.  Tinoc District Hospital vaccination was haled March 10.
    PDH chief Dr. Joel Molino urged personnel to be vaccinated with anti-Covid-19 vaccine for their own protection.  -- PIA Ifugao





COVID UPDATES: Northern Luzon

2,375 Kalinga Covid-19 cases; 2 patients UK variant carriers

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Rural Health Unit of Lubuagan town has started tracing the contacts of two Covid-19 patients confirmed infected with B.1.1.7 United Kingdom (UK) variant.
    Kalinga recorded 2,375 positive Covid-19 cases with 96 active cases and 23 deaths as of March 14
    Dr. Edward Tandingan, provincial health officer of Kalinga Monday said the two confirmed cases were both males, aged five and seven years old of Poblacion, Lubuagan.
    He said the two were confirmed positive for Covid-19 on Feb. 17 and since then were under isolation.
    Tandingan said based on record of the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESO), the two patients tested negative of the virus on March 3 and 8, respectively, after reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
    However, the Philippine Genome Center on Monday confirmed that the two were positive with the Covid-19 UK variant thus,  Tandingan said, the RHU team is contact tracing up to the third generation contacts with technical guidance from the Dept/ of Health’s regional and provincial health offices.
    In a post on the official social media page of the Kalinga provincial government, it said: “the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) against Covid-19 has initially ordered that the patients be under strict isolation for 14 days and that all contacts and contacts of contacts be put under quarantine and be tested as appropriate.”
    The provincial government also said Kalinga Gov. Ferdinand Tubban  urged the Regional Health Unit and local government of Lubuagan to work together to facilitate rapid contact tracing to immediately identify those who need to be quarantined and tested so transmission of the infection can be stopped.
    Tubban said the provincial government is coordinating with concerned agencies and monitoring the situation, and if necessary, come up with appropriate quarantine measures for Lubuagan.—PNA


Ifugao posts highest Covid cases in a day

By Marcelo B. Lihgawon

LAMUT, Ifugao - - The province of Ifugao recorded March 22 the highest number of new confirmed cases in a day since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
     The Provincial Health Office reported total of 51new positive cases were recorded on March 22 in municipalities Alfonso Lista with 10; Asipulo,  2; Banaue ,4; Kiangan, 1;  Hingyon, 16; Lagawe, 1; Lamut ,16 and Tinoc, 1.
    As of March 22, PHO data showed Ifugao had 551 confirmed cases with 424 recovered 126 active cases and one death.       A total of 730 possible cases are also on quarantine in the different municipalities.
    Contract tracing and other anti-Covid activities are on to prevent spread or local transmission of the virus in the community. 
    With the sudden surge of cases in the past days, the health and local officials  urged the public to adhere to  minimum public health  standards  such as wearing  face masks and washing hands.
    Local officials told incoming residents to coordinate with municipal health offices three days before travel for proper coordination and management particularly those who cannot afford RT-PCR test.
    Travelers/incoming residents from places identified by the National Inter-agency Task Force as hot areas are required to present a current negative RT-PCR test prior to travel and entry in the province.
    Meanwhile, LGUs  in the province are  rolling  out Covid-19 vaccination  initially for  health personnel and other frontliners.  -- PIA Ifugao

225 Ilocos Sur workers get Covid; gov orders ‘shielding’

By Leilanie Adriano  

LAOAG CITY – Residents of Ilocos Sur are restricted to go outside the province except for essential and emergency travels only, said Gov. Ryan Luis Singson in his latest Executive Order No. 24 issued on Tuesday afternoon.
    Singson said "emergency shielding" in Ilocos Sur is aimed at curbing the fresh spike of Covid-19 in the province, affecting a total of 225 government workers who initially tested positive last Monday.
"The same number had to be isolated for RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction), thus services were compromised,” the governor added.
The order took effect March 24 up to April 6 unless it will be lifted sooner.
During this period, tourists will not be allowed to enter the province. Mass gatherings or up to a maximum of 30 percent of the venue capacity is allowed while adhering to minimum health and safety protocols such as wearing of face mask, face shield and strict social distancing.
All residents coming from Metro Manila and its nearby provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal and all other high-risk areas shall not be allowed in Ilocos Sur except for essential travels.
As of this posting, all local government units of Ilocos Sur have been directed to implement mass testing in all its populated areas to contain the virus.
Based on Covid-19 data, the province’s 15 municipalities covering 40 barangays are under crucial zones for having Covid-19 positive cases with minimum contact of 15-20 individuals for each patient.
As of March 23, Ilocos Sur logged a total of 444 confirmed cases with 380 recoveries and four deaths. -- PNA 

7 Bambang workers get Covid;  hospital vital room closed

AMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya-- The emergency room of the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital here was temporarily closed Monday after seven health care workers tested positive for Covid-19.
    The provincial health office posted one case from Bambang, two from Dupax del Sur and four from Aritao.
    Rural health units and stations were advised to refer their patients to other hospitals during the lockdown.
    Aside from the Nueva Vizcaya hospital, the legislative building of Quirino province as well as the Quirino Province Medical Center were also closed temporarily after some of their personnel tested positive for Covid-19.

Nueva Vizcaya offices closed due to Covid-19

By Benjamin Moses M. Ebreo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Gov. Carlos Padilla has ordered the closure of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and  nearby offices after a worker was found positive of Covid-19.Padilla said the closure of the PSWDO, Provincial Population Division and Persons with Disability Affairs Division (PDAD) within the provincial capitol compound was in effect until the weekend.
"    We have requested a home quarantine protocol for our staff including the PPD and PDAD while waiting for the result of Covid-19 test of one of our workers," she said.
    Provincial Health Officer Dr. Edwin Galapon appealed to Novo Vizcayanos to continue in following the minimum health protocols such as social distancing, wearing of face mask and regular disinfection or hand washing.
    He urged quarantined persons to strictly follow the restrictions including their families to avoid the spread of Covid-19. -- PIA Nueva Vizcaya

122 Covid patients rushed to Cagayan Valley hospital

By Raymund Catindig

TUGUEGARAO CITY — Health personnel at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC) in this city are having difficulty accommodating the 122 Covid-19 patients who were brought to the hospital on March 20.
    Of the 122 patients brought to the CVMC on March 20, some  93 were confirmed cases.
    Of the figure, 63 came from Cagayan, 24 from Isabela, two each from Kalinga and Apayao, and one from Tarlac.
    All were still waiting to be admitted as of Monday evening.
    CVMC chief Glenn Mathew Baggao said the hospital’s 135-bed capacity Covid ward has been overwhelmed since March 18.
    The hospital received at least 100 patients the night before, he said.
    Baggao appealed to health regional director Rio Magpantay to check private hospitals that allegedly refused to accept Covid-19 patients.
    He said he was compelled to put in a room more than one Covid-19 patients who were from the same family.
    Baggao said the hospital could not put up tents to augment their Covid ward as these do not have toilets and other facilities needed for the patients.
    Meanwhile, 103 officers and personnel of the Central Luzon police tested positive for Covid on March 20.
    Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, Central Luzon police director, said the infected officers were put on quarantine and monitoring.
    De Leon ordered all offices and police stations in the region sanitized regularly to prevent the spread of the virus. – Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ric Sapnu

NE gov gets Covid; 20 Cagayan, Isabela journalists quarantined

NUEVA ECIJA Gov. Aurelio Umali confirmed in a post on Facebook that he contracted the virus, citing the result of his swab test, which was released on Monday. Umali said he is on home quarantine.
    This, as around 20 journalists in Cagayan and Isabela, are on quarantine after their colleagues tested positive for Covid-19 Monday.
    Authorities bared this even as the mayor here of Alicia, Isabela is pushing the town to be placed under general community quarantine.
    Mayor Joel Alejandro said the number of Covid-19 cases in their town surged, with two deaths recorded the past week.
    Alejandro said 22 of the new cases are stall owners or vendors at the public market.
    He said a spike in cases was also recorded in 11 barangays, which were placed under calibrated lockdown.
    Alicia had 38 active cases as of Monday.




Cordi tourism hubs remain closed: DOT

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – Tourists who want to visit destinations in the Cordillera Administrative Region still need to wait for respective local government units to open their borders to visitors.
    Jovita Ganongan, officer-in-charge of the Dept. of Tourism-CAR on Tuesday, said common attractions such as Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, the town of Sagada in Mountain Province, and Mount Pulag in Benguet remain closed to tourists.
    Ganongan said the DOT respects the decision of LGUs to keep their borders closed to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
    She, however, said while destinations are closed, the DOT is helping establishments and tourism stakeholders on their accreditation and prepares their staff in handling guests under the new normal.
    “We do capacity building activities for the personnel and technical assistance to establishments so that when their LGUs decide to open their borders to tourists, they are already prepared and ready to operate under the new normal,” Ganongan said.
    Ganongan said Baguio City, which is the first local government unit in the country to open its borders to tourists, continues to require registration to its online registration portal with the imposition of strict observance of the safety protocols.
    Meanwhile, Felix Nayusan of the Benguet Tourism Office also said the flower gardens in Atok which are among the favorite destinations of many tourists before the pandemic are still closed.    
    While Mount Pulag in Kabayan town is closed, he said the mystical four lakes in the town are open.
Tuba’s different hot spring swimming pools are already open to residents of Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan and Tublay (BLIST) but the indoor attractions and souvenir shops are closed.
    Itogon’s peaks, one of which is Mount Ugo, which used to be among favorite hiking destinations are still closed to tourists.
    At capital town La Trinidad, where there are several agri-tourism destinations, only residents of Baguio and Benguet are allowed but Mount Kalugong is still exclusive to the residents of the capital town based on an ordinance passed by the village council.
    “Governor [Melchor] Diclas respects the wisdom of the municipal government and he wants them to be the one to declare when they want to open their areas to tourists," Nayusan said.
    Bokod Mayor Thomas Wales, in an earlier interview, said hiking at Mount Purgatory remains prohibited for tourists.
    “We are still closed to tourists but the locals can go to the destinations,” he said.
    Bokod is also known for the Ambuklao Dam and the Ambangeg Ranger Station of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources which is the jump-off point of Mount Pulag hikers.
    Wales also said that the Badekbek sulfur spring at Barangay Daclan which is also widely visited by tourists also remains closed due to the pandemic.
    Aside from Baguio City, the only local government that has so far opened its border to tourists coming from neighboring provinces of Isabela and Cagayan to see their outdoor destinations in the town of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao.
    Three years ago, Alfonso Lista started the promotion of its bird watching attraction at the Mariis River, the drain of the Magat Dam reservoir which is home to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
    It is also known for its '1,000 Steps' that lead to a peak that has a 360-degree view of the dam, hills and valleys of Isabela and Ifugao.
    Various agri-tourism attractions have opened in the town that offers a rejuvenating experience while communing with nature. -- PNA



P2-M MJ burned in Benguet, 2 nabbed for shabu in Kalinga

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – More than P2 million worth of marijuana plants were eradicated while two drug personalities were arrested in recent anti-illegal drug operations in Cordillera. 
A report from Col. Reynaldo Pasiwen, Benguet police director, bared 2, 550 marijuana plants worth P510,000 were uprooted and burned at Mt. Puso, Tacadang, Kibungan, Benguet on March 19.
Also on March 21 at Sitio Bekes and Sitio Culiang of the same barangay, operatives found 7,600 marijuana plants worth P1,520, 000.
Meanwhile, two men were arrested in buy-bust operations in Benguet and Kalinga. 
Henry Taya-an Tawatao, 54, security guard, was arrested March 18 at Purok 6, Bulanao, Tabuk City after selling a sachet of suspected shabu worth P5,780.
On March 21, a buy-bust operation at Ansodeng, Ambuclao, Bokod, Benguet resulted to the arrest of Eusebio Cabanes Lamsis aka Eweng, 58, hog raiser.
 Seven sachets of suspected shabu worth P285 were confiscated from him.
All suspects are now under custody respective police units and  facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.

 2 held in Sadanga for marijuana oil

SADANGA, Mountain Province -- Two alleged marijuana oil transporters were arrested at a checkpoint here at Sitio Ampawelin, Poblacion March 16. 
    Acting provincial police director Col. Ruben B. Andiso identified suspects as Nelson Collasit Banson, 38, driver, of Calagdao, Bulanao, Tabuk City and Flores Balnao Maguilao, 21, of Tulgao West, Tinglayan, Kalinga.
    The report said police received information regarding the illegal drug transportation so Sadanga police and elements of PDEA-Mountain Province immediately established a checkpoint where they flagged down XRM motorcycle with no plate number driven by Banson.
    When the suspects were asked about motorcycle documents, they opened the compartment to look for the certificate of ownership.
    Police discovered a 2x2 bottle containing marijuana oil worth P21, 000, five empty amber bottles and two cell phones.
    The confiscated items were inventoried in the presence of prosecutor Hazel Montero, media representative Apolo Padael, and punong barangay Eliang Anongos.
    The two suspects are facing charges for violation of Republic  9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.


4 men nabbed for attempted homicide, theft in La Union

By Mar T. Supnad

CAMP FLORENDO, San Fernando City, La Union- Police arrested last week in La Union four persons wanted for theft and attempted homicide.In Barangay Samara, Aringay town, police nabbed Rhon Jell Peñalosa, 34, of said place for theft.
    A warrant of arrest dated March 2, 2021 was issued against him By Judge Rutus G Malecdan Jr. of Regional Trial Court, Branch 60, Baguio City.
    In San Juan town, Aaron Cuello of Barangay Taboc, was arrested by town police for attempted homicide.
    A warrant of arrest dated March 15, 2021 was issued against him by Alan M Ordono, presiding judge of Municipal Circuit Trial Court, First Judicial Region San Juan-San Gabriel, La Union.
    Still in San Juan, Antonio A. Abad, pot-maker, of Barangay Tabic was arrested by town police and CIDG elements for attempted homicide.
    A warrant of arrest dated March 15, 2021 was issued against him by Alan M Ordono, presiding judge of Municipal Circuit Trial Court, First Judicial Region San Juan-San Gabriel, La Union. 

Rape suspect falls in Urdaneta  after 23 years in hiding

By Dempsey Reyes
URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan – Police finally caught up with a rape suspect after he was arrested here Tuesday by combined elements of Quirino police and regional intelligence. 
    Hiding from the law for 23 years, Eddie Cariño was arrested at 5:10 a.m. in Barangay Palenae, police said Wednesday.
    Cariño was reportedlyu part of Cagayan Valley’s 10 most wanted persons and has been the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Maddela, Quirino Regional Trial Court Judge Ma. Theresa de la Torre-Yadao on Jan. 5, 1998, without bail.
A mugshot of Cariño provided by the PNP’s Public Information Office showed he has been charged with illegal detention with rape.
    The suspect is now under the custody of the Maddela municipal police station for documentation. 

 2 held for porn, child abuse in Ilocos Sur

By Mar T. Supnad

CAMP PRES. QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur-Two men, wanted for child abuse and violation of pornographic laws, were arrested by police last week in Ilocos Sur.
    Col. Wilson Doromal, police director, in a report identified one of the suspects as William Jimeno, tricycle driver of Bitalag, Tagudin town.
    Doromal said Tagudin and provincial police arrested the suspect for violation of Republic Act 7610 (22 counts) and
RA 9775 or Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (10 counts) after warrants of arrest against him were issued by Emmylou Valois Rubang-Mangasar, acting presiding judge of Branch 25 RTC, First Judicial Region, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur dated March 17, 2021.
    In Barangay Baclig, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Avelino G. Tabil, 68, was also arrested by elements of CIDG Ilocos Sur, 1st ISPMFC, Maritime Ilocos Sur and Cabugao police.
    Police said Tabil is also facing charges for violation of RA 7610 (Anti Child Abuse Law).
    This, after Homer Jay Dumlao Ragonjan, presiding judge of 1st Judicial Region, RTC Branch 24, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur issued arrest warrant against him dated March 17, 2021.

PDEA-CAR: 83 nabbed P134-M illegal drugs seized in three months

By Carlito C. Dar

BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency bared in partnership with Cordillera police, 83 suspects were arrested while P134.67 million illegal drugs were confiscated in the region the past three months. 
PDEA Cordillera director Gil Cesario Castro bared this during the first quarter Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council presided by RPOC chairperson and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong here March 16.
    Castro reported there were also 138 cases of violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of the Philippines and other related cases filed in court.
Four marijuana eradication operations conducted in Tinglayan, Kalinga and municipalities of Bakun and Kibungan in Benguet during the period resulted to uprooting and confiscation of fully grown marijuana plants and seedlings with  estimated Dangerous Drug Board value of P87.81million.
During the period out of 1,177 barangays in Cordillera, 361 were not affected by illegal drugs, 739 were cleared and 75 others were still listed as drug-affected.
One illegal drugs group and 118 drug personalities (43 under the target list and 75 under the watch list) are reportedly being monitored.
Castro said the PDEA – CAR and the Police Regional Office – Cordillera under Brig. Gen Gen  R’Win Pagkalinawan were coordinating against illegal and dangerous drugs in Cordillera. – PIA Cordillera


4 top Santiago wanted persons held for crimes

By Mar T. Supnad

SANTIAGO, Ilocos Sur- Four top wanted persons in this town were arrested last week. Lt. Godfredo Ribuyaco, chief of police, said Rolando L Ragma 30 and Edmar E Ragma 28, both of Barangay Salincub here were arrested when policemen raided their houses.
    According to Lt. Ribuyaco, the two Ragmas were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9175.
A warrant of arrest dated March 22, 2021was  issued by Jaime D Bugaing presiding judge of 6th Municipal Circuit Trial Court Santiago-San Esteban against them.
The court set bail of P36,000 each for their temporary liberty.
Arrested persons are now under the custody of Santiago.
Still here in Barangay Oloolo Norte, Ribuyaco said Mark Angelo Salasac, 21 tagged ‘2nd most wanted,’ was also arrested.
Salasac was nabbed for serious physical injuries.
An arrest warrant was issued March 22 by Jaime D Bugaing, presiding judge of 6th Municipal Circuit Trial Court Santiago-San Esteban against Salasac.
His bail bond was P30,000.
In Barangay Poblacion Norte, Lovely Galigo aka Lovely Alcantara, resident of Ansad, San Esteban town was also nabbed for cybercrime.
According to Ribuyaco’s report, Santiago and Baguio City police arrested Galigo.
Bail for her temporary liberty was set at P80,000.
An arrest warrant dated Feb. 22, 2021 was issued against her by by Ivan Kim B Morales, Judge of Additional Family Court, Baguio City.


Man nabbed in Abra for illegal drugs, gun, bullets

TAYUM, Abra – A man was arrested here in Barangay Bagalay Monday for illegal drugs, gun and bullets.
    Col. Christopher T. Acop of Abra Police Provincial Office said suspect Boyet A. Atmosfera, 33, was arrested in a buy-bust operation by police and PDEA anti-illegal drugs operatives near his residence.
    Seized from his possession were two sachets of suspected shabu worth P5,000, Cal.45 pistol with magazine with seven bullets, extra magazine with five bullets, RUSI motorcycle without plate number; cellphone, two P500 bills, sling and backpack.
    The confiscated items were marked and inventoried at the site witnessed by punong barangay Edgar Tanora and kagawad Manolo Jimenez of Barangay Bagala.
    The alleged shabu was brought to provincial police crime laboratory for examination.
    Atmosphera was brought to Tayum police station with confiscated items.
    Cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and RA 10591 also known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act were prepared against him.

Grenade found in Laoag gravel dump

LAOAG CITY – Police said a live and powerful grenade was unearthed here Tuesday in Barangay 23, Sitio Dungtal.
    Reports said Jojo Malasig Agcaoili, a construction worker and resident of Barangay 7, Alejo Malasig, Vintar, Ilocos Norte was shoveling gravel at the under-construction house of Rafael James Taclibon when he discovered the MK2 fragmentation hand grenade on top of the dumped gravel.
    According to police, the grenade was already in the custody of Laoag City EOD/Canine Unit for proper disposition.




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