Congress sets probe on Beneco GM row

>> Sunday, May 30, 2021

121 electric coops, Partylists, Baguio council hit NEA 

By Jordan G. Habbiling and DC and AD 

BAGUIO CITY – The Lower House is set to probe the National Electrification Administration on June 2 for its alleged “illegal” methods and intrusion on selection of general managers nationwide after all electric cooperatives in the country assailed and opposed its endorsement of a Palace Assistant Secretary to assume as general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative here.
    Lawyer Delmar Carino, head of Beneco’s legal department bared this saying the NEA’s board of administrators asked the government agency’s legal department Thursday for advice on its next move after four Partylists associated with the country’s electric cooperatives urged Congress to investigate the controversy surrounding the position of general manager of Beneco.
    The Baguio City Council also called on the NEA Monday to adhere and follow its own policy in selection of general managers of electric cooperatives.
    The NEA has a standing rule stipulating that all GMs (or those applying for GM) of electric cooperatives must be an electrical engineer, worked or managed an EC for at least five years among others.
    The Baguio City council made the stand in a forum Monday regarding issues raised by Beneco board members against NEA’s endorsement favoring lawyer Anna Marie Rafael Banaag, Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communication Operations Office as lone candidate for Beneco GM.
    The Beneco board has issued several resolutions recommending Melchor Licoben as general manager and expressing their opposition against NEA’s single candidate endorsement.
    Licoben, an electrical engineer is now Beneco incumbent officer in charge GM.
    The city legislators said there were lapses on the part of NEA, citing provisions of memorandum No. 2017-35 that were not complied with in endorsing Banaag as GM.
    The Baguio City local government earlier endorsed Licoben as GM.
    The memorandum was issued by NEA in October 2017, spelling out the recruitment policy for general managers of electric cooperatives in the country.
    Nollie Alamillo, chairperson of NEA’s selection committee, admitted that candidate (Banaag) failed to submit documents indicating her five-year work experience in effective management of an electric utility-related business enterprise as required under d.6 of the memorandum.
    The councilors questioned the decision of the NEA selection committee to allow the said candidate to go through the selection process despite the latter’s absence of proof of qualifications.
    According to Alamillo, both Licoben and Banaag passed qualifying examinations and initial interview, underwent background investigation, and advanced to final interview conducted by the NEA BOA.
    The NEA memorandum stated “the list of applicants who passed the NEA Board final interview, with necessary information and results of the background investigation, shall then be transmitted to the Electric Cooperative (EC) Board for perusal and selection.”
    According to Beneco Board president Esteban Somngi, only the name of Rafael-Banaag was forwarded by NEA to the Beneco board.
    Cariño said Licoben should have also been endorsed by the NEA BOA for Beneco’s board of directors’ selection for the GM position as he also passed the final interview.  
    Licoben scored 82.75 percent while Rafael-Banaag obtained a score of 94 percent in the final interview, according to NEA board resolution No. 2021-47.
    Cariño said the decision of the NEA BOA to endorse only one candidate based on results of the final interview violated NEA memorandum no. 2017-35.
    “Nowhere in the NEA memorandum does it state that the applicant with the highest score in the final interview should be the only candidate to be endorsed by NEA to the electric cooperative,” Cariño said.
    On May 19, 2021, the Beneco board in a 6-4 vote rejected the NEA endorsement of Rafael-Banaag and reiterated its previous resolution recommending Licoben for the GM position, saying thet earlier appointed him as GM.
    Lawyer May Flor Abuedo, NEA’s corporate secretary, disclosed Monday the NEA BOA will hold a meeting on May 27, to deliberate on the Beneco board’s decision to reject the NEA endorsement. 
    The city council also urged the NEA to provide the legislative body and Beneco all documents containing results of examinations and background investigation and interviews of applicants, conducted by the selection committee and NEA BOA in aid of legislation.
    Four Partylists associated with the country’s electric cooperatives urged Congress to investigate the controversy surrounding the position of general manager of Beneco.
    Rep. Presley de Jesus (Philreca), Rep. Adriano Ebcas (Ako Padayon Pilipino), Rep. Sergio Dagooc (APEC) and Rep. Godofredo Guya (Recoboda) filed on May 19 a resolution urging the House committee on energy to conduct an inquiry  in aid of legislation on the “overreach of the NEA on the screening and selection of general managers of electric cooperatives.”
    The resolution stemmed from the nationwide protest of the country’s 121 electric cooperatives which staged a nationwide “Black Friday Protest” last May 14 that condemned the manner the NEA BOA processed applicants for general manager of Beneco.
    The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca), the country’s mother organization of all electric cooperatives also lambasted the NEA resolution as illegal for having violated NEA memorandum No. 2017-035, the rules governing selection of GMs.
    Philreca cited the protest of Beneco employees and member consumers who said there is nothing in rules that allow the BOA to endorse only the applicant with the highest score in the final interview. 
    More than 14 allied organizations of the electric cooperatives have also filed separate resolutions assailing the BOA resolution, saying it was an attempt to clip the powers of the electric cooperatives.
    The call for a congressional inquiry came after the Beneco BOD  rejected the BOA resolution in a special meeting last May 19.
    In their resolution, the four partylists, known as the “Power Bloc” in the House of Representatives, said the act of the BOA amounted to usurpation of the powers of EC directors to appoint their own GM.
    Lawyer Janeene Depay-Colingan, Philreca executive director said Beneco followed the right process from the very start. “Let it be known: Beneco management and employees, Beneco MCOs, and our One EC-MCO Movement are not meddling with the mandate of NEA. We are calling out the decision that did not go through the proper procedure to be rectified. We thank Beneco for standing up for what is right,” said Colingan.
    Presley C. De Jesus, Philreca president, said “the reason the entire 121 electric cooperatives are up in arms is because the BOA of the NEA violated and breached the very clear processes in hiring and appointing general managers that they themselves approved.”
    “The NEA BOA should not intervene in the affairs and mandate of the electric cooperatives’ board of directors. The BOA committed grave abuse of discretion because the NEA BOA has no power – neither by virtue of Republic Act 10531 nor by any existing regulatory measures – to choose which of the qualified applicants they should endorse to the EC’s BOD based on any arbitrary preference of the NEA BOA,” De Jesus said.
    In joint letter by Philreca and Nagmec (National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives), also urged the NEA BOA to “rectify its error and set aside RB Resolution No. 2021-47 to spare itself from a deluge of serious legal actions and unprecedented rant not just from Beneco’s member-consumer-owners but from the entire electric cooperatives sector who have the same sentiment on this issue.”
    The Beneco board, led by its president Somngi, earlier assailed the BOA endorsement of Banaag as unfair and utterly without legal basis.
    The board also reiterated the three resolutions it passed in 2020 that named and appointed licoben as the Beneco GM.
    Aside from Somngi, the other directors are Mike Maspil, Rocky Aliping, James Aclopen, Peter Busaing, Luke Gomeyac, (all representing Baguio City), Robert Valentin, Enrique Moresto, Fr. Jonathan Obar, Josephine Tuling and Jefferd Acop (all representing Benguet).  
    “The basis of the BOA to endorse Rafael is her higher score of 94% in the final interview compared to Licoben who garnered 82.75%. But nothing in NEA Memorandum No. 2017-35 states that only the candidate with the highest score in the interview must be endorsed to the BOD. Both of them were qualified. Licoben did not fail the interview. Therefore, both of them must be endorsed to the BOD for selection,” they said.
    NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 governs the rules of recruitment and selection for the GMs of all electric cooperatives in the country.
    The Beneco resolution rejecting the lone endorsement and the reasons for the decision was forwarded to the BOA for action.
    Under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035, the BOA has the power to review the board’s decision to reject and should it find the reasons unreasonable, it can endorse other pre-qualified applicants.
    Concerned member consumer owners and Beneco employees, led by the BELU and the Beneco Supervisors Association (BSA) had been holding vigils after office hours since two weeks ago to protest the BOA’s decision to endorse only one applicant.
    “How can the BOA endorse an applicant who is not technically competent to lead an electric cooperative which is a highly technical industry?” the BELU and BSA said.
    The provincial board also recently approved a resolution requesting the NEA to confirm Resolution No. 2020-90 of the Beneco BOD that appointed as new general manager of the electric cooperative vice former general manager Gerardo P. Verzosa who retired from the service effective April 30, 2020.
    The board stipulated that all the municipal governments in the province strongly supported Licoben’s appointment as the new Beneco general manager through the passage of separate resolutions by each of the municipal councils of the 13 municipalities.
    The board added that the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Benguet chapter and the Vice Mayor’s League of the Philippines (VMLP) Benguet chapter unanimously passed separate resolutions also strongly supporting Licoben’s appointment and recognized his technical expertise, knowledge of the intricacies of the power industry and experience in managing the affairs of the power distribution as his advantage to sustain the gains of the electric cooperative being one of the top performing electric cooperatives in the country.


Covid variant in Baguio ‘infectious, fast-moving’

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY --  City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo reported the current Covid-19 variant afflicting patients in this summer capital appeared to be far more infectious and fast-moving as she echoed Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s suspicions that UK and other variants could be widespread in the city. 
    “Before, we would record one person in one family or household getting infected and isolation would prevent its spread.      Not so this time.  By the time we realize that one has it, the whole family is also infected,” Galpo said.
    “As the mayor said, yes we must have the variants,” she added.
    However she said the while the new variants are more contagious, the mode of transmission remains the same and thus, same prevention measures can be done to avoid getting infected.
    “The best prevention remains to be the wearing of face mask and face shield, physical distancing, proper washing of hands, avoidance of crowd, close conversation and confined spaces and proper ventilation,” she said.
    Currently, the city has a total of 27 known cases of B1117 of UK variant but the mayor believes the city has more cases than what was reported by the Philippine Genome Center but which cannot be captured due to limitations in processing all the specimens submitted by the city.
    As to the Indian variant or the B1617, Galpo said one returning Filipino worker (ROF) from the city who was on the same flight with one of the positive case is now being monitored.
    The resident had tested negative for the virus in the three RT-PCR tests done and has not exhibited symptom thus far.
    The ROF was not a close contact and just happened to be in the same flight with the patient but tracking and monitoring was done just the same to make sure that there was no transmission.



NL photojourn gets Covid; dies

BAGUIO CITY— Another journalist in Northern Luzon succumbed to Covid-19 Tuesday morning.
    Cesar Reyes, 61, a photojournalist for the People's Journal, died Tuesday morning here at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, where he had been confined since May 19. 
    Reyes tested positive for Covid-19 on May 18 after two weeks of having difficulty in breathing and a fever.
    He was brought to the BGH's Covid-19 isolation facility and three days later moved to the BGH Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because of very low oxygen levels.  
    He had been comatose since then.
    On Tuesday morning, his heart stopped beating. Medical personnel managed to revive him two times but he eventually died.
    Cesar — Cez to his colleagues — was a member of the board of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC),  the longest running media club north of Manila and was a member of the National Press Club.
    He also once headed the Cordillera PNP Press Corps and was also affiliated with the Baguio Media Shooters' Association, Inc.
    Reyes, born on Sept. 2, 1959 in San Fabian, Pangasinan, is survived by his wife Isabelita and three children.
Reyes' demise from Covid-19 came after Philippine Star Cagayan correspondent Raymund Catindig also succumbed to Covid-19 towards the end of April in Ilagan City, Isabela.


ARTA: Hedcor’s business permit in Bakun extended

Even if denied by mayor 

By Estefany Mae Tawagon

BAKUN, Benguet -- The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has directed the automatic renewal of Hedcor’s business permit in this town after finding requirements complete and submitted.
    Hedcor operates a hydro plant here and prior to the power firm’s business permit expiration on March 31, 2021, Hedcor made numerous attempts to tender payment and submit its application for renewal as early as January 2021.
    But this was reportedly rejected by the municipal mayor and the punong barangays of Sinacbat and Poblacion. 
Official letters from the local government unit, said reason for the denial was a condition on imposition by the Bakun LGU of Hedcor’s agreement to a voluntary memorandum of agreement for additional shares in revenue.
    ARTA found this condition an additional requirement and not required by any law or even the Bakun LGU’s Citizen’s Charter.
    ARTA said the Bakun LGU “refused to issue or deny the issuance of a barangay clearance and business permit based on letter responses of respondents requiring the complainant to execute a MOA as precondition for the issuance of the certifications and permit, which are not in their respective Citizen’s Charter is not and cannot be regarded as a justifiable reason precisely because this is illegal.”
    The ARTA, in its order, said that the Bakun LGU, “did not deny the application but merely imposed a suspensive condition and that is the execution of a MOA. Requiring a MOA as a prerequisite for the issuance of clearances and permits which is not in the citizen’s charter is an imposition of an additional requirement. “This is a clear violation of RA 11032,” the ARTA said.     “It also constitutes a violation of the illegal exaction or transaction under Chapter 3, Title Seven, Book II of the Revised Penal Code and R.A. 3019.”
    With said findings, ARTA ordered the Bakun LGU to comply with the automatic approval provision of Republic Act 11032, the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, and issue the necessary Barangay Clearances and Business Permit of Hedcor. ARTA has also ordered the LGU officials to explain in writing why administrative and criminal charges should not be filed against them.  
    Hedcor has sought guidance from the Dept. of Interior and Local Government - Cordillera Administrative Region.
Unanimous to ARTA findings, the DILG-CAR said, “The issuance of licenses or permits shall only be pursuant to law or ordinance and the municipal mayor is bereft of the authority to impose additional conditions on the issuance, renewal, or continued validity of a business permit other than what the law and/or ordinance provides."
     “Insofar as the issuance of the barangay clearance is concerned, again, we find no legal basis for requiring the execution of the MOA as a prerequisite for the issuance of such clearance. There being none, the barangay has no authority to require more than what the law, its Citizen's Charter, or its ordinance provides,” the DILG-CAR said.


Dalog, execs give cash to NPA surrenderees

NATONIN, Mountain Province -- Nine members of the New People’s Army-Communist Party of the Philippines surrendered to authorities and received financial and livelihood assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government here on May 20.
    The turnover of E-CLIP benefits coincided with the blessing and inauguration of the new Natonin MPS building.
    Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog Jr. handed over livelihood support including five rice mill machines and one welding machine to the six rebel returnees.
    Dalog was assisted by lawyer Sixto T. Rodriguez, assistant regional director of Dept. of Labor and Employment Cordillera.
Mountain Province police director Col. Ruben B. Andiso also gave cash assistance to other three surrenderees.
    Five of them, natives of this town, surrendered their firearms while the other four were from other municipalities of Mountain Province.
    During the program, Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee welcomed the nine surrenderees saying they would now have peaceful lives with their families.
    Their surrender was made possible through the provincial police office’s “Oplan Binnaga” which convinced the rebel returnees to return to the folds of the government and start life anew.


Tabuk ‘pusher’ held over P1.2- M marijuana

TABUK CITY, Kalinga --    A laborer was arrested by elements of the   Regional Intelligence Division and Kalinga police around 2:30 p.m. of May 23 here at Purok 6, Kalagdao, Bulanao after he allegedly sold ten bricks weighing 10 kilos  of marijuana worth P1,200,000 to a cop who posed as buyer.
    Police Regional Intelligence Division  chief Col. Elmer Ragay identified the suspect as Bernel Dawangan Bigot, 24, of Lacnob, Kalinga.
    Bigot’s companion escaped during the buy-bust operation and is being tracked down.
    He was in the list of the Top Ten Illegal Drug Personality in Cordillera, said
    Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Oliver Lee, adding Bigot's cohort, Jacob Sangangao, escaped during the buy-bust operation.
    Boodle money, two back packs and cell phone were reportedly confiscated from the suspect, which were inventoried at the site along with the illegal drugs.
    It was witnessed by prosecutor Lailanie Balao-ing, barangay councilman Abraham Licaycay and media representative Melisa Guavez.
    The suspect and seized evidence were brought to Tabuk police station where a case for violation of Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was prepared for filing against him.


‘Honey love’ scam con artists held in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY -- An entrapment operation resulted to the arrest of two suspects of a “honey love” scam while claiming the money from their victim in a remittance center here at Marcos Highway on May 2. 
    The arrest was made following a complaint from a Service woman of the Philippine Navy residing in Dasmarinas City, Cavite and made possible with the joint efforts of personnel of Manila International Airport Police Department, Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit – Cordillera and Baguio City Police Office.
    Based on a report from the Legarda Police Station here, the suspects were identified as Williams John Ani, Nigerian National pretending to be Lucas Chan, a civil engineer of South Korea  and   Iindira Geil   Villanueva “Sharon”   Duca,  25,  Filipino,  pretending   to  be  a  Korean service agent.
    Both were residing here at Bengao, Marcos Highway.
    The Nigerian  national posing as  “Lucas”  allegedly deceived  the victim through online “chat” claiming that he sent her a package containing Apple Laptops, I-phone, watch and cash.
Later, the victim received a message saying that the package was already at the airport, but she needed to pay custom clearance amounting to P35,000.
    After she paid the said amount to a certain Analiza Fadriga Ellasos through a bank account,
    Duca posing as agent “Sharon,” asked for another amount of P145,000 to issue a “certificate of money laundering,” as the package was supposedly detected to be containing dollar bills which is illegal.
    The victim was threatened she would be imprisoned if she will not pay the said amount.
    The complainant, already getting suspicious, decided to verify the tracking number of said uggage at the airport and found out that there was no such package sent.
    She was informed it is the typical modus operandi of con artists in “Honey Love” scam using different social media platforms and/or dating apps.
    She continued chatting with the suspects and with the assistance of   airport police, the entrapment operation was successfully conducted.
    The arrested suspects together with the complainant were brought to Chapel Road, NAIA Complex, Pasay City for disposition after a blotter report was done at Legarda Police Station. 
    They are now facing charges of swindling and estafa through online scam in violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.




Kennon Road projects ‘ahead of schedule’

By Bob Lyndon Daroya

BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera regional project monitoring committee (RPMC), led by National Economic Development Council OIC Cordillera regional director Stephanie Christiansen inspected two slope protection projects along Kennon Road  May 12 and reported these were substantially completed ahead of schedule.
    Construction division OIC assistant chief engineer Ismael Dela Cruz and quality assurance and hydrology division chief engineer Samuel Advincula of  Dept. of Public Works and Highways Cordillera and representative of project contractor told the RPMC wire mesh, permanent ground anchors were being installed.
    Cementing was reportedly also being done.
    Christiansen said the inspection was unique since the projects showed positive output and good practices that can be adapted and shared with other agencies.
    The committee noted availability of materials, hiring of skilled workers and local residents with experience and effective coordination with implementing agencies and local stakeholders like the barangays were great factors in making sure that projects were delivered with quality and on time.
    The RPMC will also transmit recommendations to Dept. of Interior and Local Government on roles of the LGUs and barangays in project implementation, particularly in ensuring safety during construction.
    The RPMC as support committee of the Regional Development Council conducts project inspection in the region to facilitate resolution of project issues.
    It is composed of regional government agencies, local governments and representatives from the private sector.


Du30 admin, plans feature set in 6-1 Baguio pre-Sona

By Marissa Cabatu

BAGUIO CITY – An event to feature major accomplishments of President Duterte’s administration and plans for the remainder of his term is set here at the Baguio Convention Center on June 1.
    The President’s report will cover six cabinet clusters on economic development, infrastructure, human development, poverty reduction, participatory governance, security, justice and peace and climate change, adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction.
    Though this event, the Cordillera National Economic and Development Authority and Regional Development Council will support the Office of the Cabinet Secretary and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in the Cordillera leg of the “Kasama sa pamana: regional pre-state of the nation address” (SONA) series.
    The event will be a hybrid meeting with participants from the House of Representatives, local government units, national and regional line agencies, academe, civil society organizations, business sector, and the  public from Baguio City and Cordillera provinces. 
    From the BCC, the event will be streamed live at Philippine Information Agency Cordillera Facebook page starting 9 a.m.
Cordillera Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security and Dept. of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar will give updates on the region’s development and security concerns.
    The region’s Health Department assistant regional director Dr. Amelita Pangilinan will give updates on Covid-19 response and vaccination deployment program.
    The pre-SONA series is conducted nationwide prior to the last and sixth SONA of President Duterte in July this year.
    Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles leads the series of events together with the PCOO.


Vizcaya gives P330,000 to biz entreps

By Benjamin Moses M. Ebreo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya - The provincial government recently gave financial assistance to micro business entrepreneurs in the province to help them cope up with the Covid-19 pandemic.
    Gov. Carlos Padilla awarded financial assistance to 13 qualified livelihood beneficiaries identified by Provincial Cooperative and Enterprise Development (PROCEDE).
    Judith Asuncion, PROCEDE chief said P330,000 - worth of livelihood assistance were given to beneficiaries.
    She said the assistance aims to empower community-based associations, cooperatives and micro entrepreneurs in the areas of organizational and institutional development, capability-building and financial assistance.
    The livelihood assistance also aims to develop financially-viable and sustainable community-based business enterprises and improve capacities of beneficiaries in the development, promotion and marketing of native Nueva Vizcaya products through direct technical assistance and in partnership with relevant government and non-government agencies.-- PIA 2-Nueva Vizcaya




Insurgency-affected villages get P600-K

By Thelma C. Bicarme

CABARROGUIS, Quirino — Two barangays here identified as affected by conflict, insurgency, geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) were recipients of livelihood projects and potable water supply from the Dept. of Science and Technology Region 2 through the Provincial Science and Technology, Cabarroguis Police Station and the local government.
    The DOST allocated P600,000 through its CEST program (community empowerment through science and technology) to be released in full to barangays Calaocan and Villarose to cover expenses of "Community retooled program" (RSCP).
    The projects aim to address the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, armed conflicts, and threats through prioritization and delivery of its appropriate programs and services to conflict-affected and GIDAS.
Calaocan will get P562,000 worth of projects.
The biggest amount of P420,000 will come from DOST-02; P20,000 LGU-Cabarroguis; P87,000 as a counterpart of the barangay and P35,000 from PNP-Cabarroguis.
For Villarose, a total of 305,000 livelihood projects has been alloted in the barangay.
A total of P180,000 will come from DOST-02, GIA-CEST, P 70,000 from  LGU-Cabarroguis, P30,000 as barangay counterpart and P25,000 from PNP-Cabarroguis.
Prior to awarding of the livelihood projects, the residents of the two barangays were consulted by the Cabarroguis police headed by Capt. Fernando Manayod on priority needs.
Police later recommended identified priority needs for funding by the DOST Quirino through provincial director Rocela Angelica Gorospe and the local government headed by Mayor Willard Abuan.
The livelihood projects were part of the “Whole-of-nation approach” against insurgency.
DOST 2 will assist on project implementation in said barangays by providing science and technology assistance such as consultancy and technology trainings.
Another component of the project is the establishment of water sanitation, good health and nutrition, establishment of potable water system and feeding program in the community.
To ensure that the objectives of the project are attained, the DOST with PNP Cabarroguis will closely monitor the status and completion of the project. -- PIA 2-Quirino


Baguio bares vaccination sites; thousands get jabs

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY - The city government bared anti-Covid-19 vaccination areas here, saying  12,538 health workers (A1 priority list) or 96.05% were vaccinated recently for the first dose from the target population of 13, 053 and 6,799 (54.23%) for the second dose.
    For the senior citizens (A2 priority list), there were 10,998 or 50.61% vaccinated for the first dose, and only 18 (0.16%) for the second dose. The city has counted 21,732 senior citizens primed for vaccination.
    The Health Services Office is reportedly vaccinating citizens to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19.
    The city utilizes four vaccination sites: the University of Baguio (UB) gym, Saint Louis University (SLU) gym, High School Saint Louis Inc. (Center), and SM parking area.    
 Data for immunized senior citizens on May 11, 12 and 14 were the following: 1,234; 428 and 6 respectively for the first dose of Sinovac; with only 10 vaccinees for the second dose on May 10, for a total of 1,678. As to brand vaccinated on senior citizens, AstraZeneca registered 1,296 on May 12, and 2,238 jabs on May 14 for a total of 3,534; for the first dose.
There still is no recorded second dose for senior citizens for AZ vaccine. Senior citizens vaccinated for the first dose (for both brands) is 5,202 while only 10 has Sinovac as second dose.                       
 The latest statistics were bared  by Dept. of Health and the Health Services Office (HSO) physician Khecy Manuel-Colas, Risk Management Officer Cecil Agpawa and HSO head Rowena Galpo.
Coordination meetings are done after every vaccination session, with representatives from each site.
For the A3 priority or persons with comorbidities (18-59 years old), there are 6,500 target individuals; with 2,164 or (33.29%) jabbed with the first dose, and 1,365 (63.08%) immunized with the second dose.
As to the utilization rate per vaccination brand used, there is an overflow of Sinovac as 15,639 were vaccinated for first dose as against the projected 15,055 or 103.88% accomplishment, and 7,746 jabbed with the target population of 15,065 or an accomplishment of 51.42%.   
As for AstraZeneca, 10,071 were vaccinated for the first dose, 84.28% of the 11,950 expected population; and 436 or 11.38% for the second dose from the target population of 3,830.
Figures for the vaccinated population of the first three groups are being validated by personnel from the HSO and the DOH.


RDC bares Cordillera development projects

BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional Development Council Infrastructure Development Committee bared ongoing and planned projects in the region to boost development.
    Chaired by Highways regional director Khadaffy Tanggol, the CRDCIDC met May 20 to review  status of infrastructure projects in the region.
    The committee recommended the Masallong foot bridge project in Tocucan, Mt. Province for RDC endorsement to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) for funding. Once constructed, the new 55-meter footbridge will improve safety and access to domestic water supply project of Interior and Local Government under its Patubig Program. 
    A total of 327 farming households in Tocucan and 115 households in Caneo, a geographically-isolated and disadvantaged area, a barangay of Bontoc will benefit from the project.
    Tanggol said local government units should propose similar projects especially in barangays that don’t have access to roads.
    “This may be a small project, but the impact to the community is great,” he said. 
    The Cordillera Dept. of Public Works and Highways reported its major infrastructure projects, one of which is the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) circumferential road with 36.69 percent completed based of total project cost.
    This ongoing project is expected to decongest traffic in highly urbanized BLISTT area reducing travel time by 50-60 percent. 
    The Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP), implemented under Dept. of Tourism -DPWH convergence program, aims to make tourist spots in the region accessible.
    To date, the project completed 307.086 kilometers of paved roads out of the target 565.783 kilometers across the region.
    The Tatag ng Imprastraktura para sa Kapayapaan At Seguridad (TIKAS) program of the DPWH with Dept. of National Defense  and Philippine National Police completed nine projects out of 19 as of 2019 to 2020.
Eight projects are ongoing while two have not started.
    Dept. of Information and Communication Luzon Cluster 1 Director Nestor Bongato reported as of this month of May, there are 145 active sites that provide free Wi-Fi in Cordillera.
    The DICT also installed Regional Government Network (GovNet) in the region to interconnect government agencies and have enable faster communication, better coordination, easier access to online services and simplified processes.
    Bongato added there are 62 operational sites for GovNet and an additional 12 more sites are proposed in the region.
    Another program of the DICT is the Technology Empowerment for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (Tech4ED) that give communities free access to information, communication, technology, government services, non-formal education, skills training, telehealth, job markets, and business portals.
    A total of 95 Tech4ED centers have been established in CAR in 2020.
    In behalf of the Regional Project Monitoring Committee, Sharon B. Africano of NEDA Cordillera reported that 76 infrastructure projects amounting to P2.4 billion were flagged for delays.
    The number of flagged projects for the first quarter of 2021 is significantly lower compared to the first quarter of 2020, she added.
    The Infrastructure Development Committee as a support committee of RDC Cordillera reviews and endorsed infrastructure programs that contribute to regional development.
    It inspects and evaluates implementation of infrastructure projects, formulates development plans, and provides resolutions and recommends policies to accelerate Cordillera development.


Apayao 150MW hydro project ‘to up IPs lives, protect forests’

Group bats for support to large renewable energy projects 

KABUGAO, Apayao -- A proposed 150-megawatt Renewable Hydro power plant project in this capital town seen to benefit the lives of indigenous people living in poverty and end slash-and-burn farming that is destroying the area’s forests, according to a local indigenous people’s leader. John Amid, Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Kabugao, which covers 22 Barangays, expressed  support for the proposed Gened 1 hydropower project. 
    Only nine Barangays – Waga, Bulu, Luttuacan, Cabetayan, Badduat, Nagbabalayan, Poblacion, Magabta and Laco will be affected in Kabugao  by this project. 
    Accordingly, only 1% of the 93,512 hectare areas of Ksbugao will be affected. 
    The 150MW renewable hydropower project which includes a dam, powerhouse, diversion tunnel, switchyard, sub-station and transmission lines will be built in Lt. Balag in the Municipality of Pudtol. 
    The project is currently under review at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera (NCIP) Regional office, after the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the project’s proponent -- PanPacific Renewable Power Phils. Corp. (PPRPPC) and the Isnag Indigenous Cultural Communities representing 22 barangays in Kabugao, last April 21,2021. 
As Kabugao’s IPMR, Amid said he personally believes it is high time that their communities allow their resources to be used for sustainable and environment-friendly and responsible projects that will benefit their people and boost their development, such as the proposed Renewable hydropower plant.
    “I believe the resources within our ancestral domains have potential, and should be utilized para mai-uplift ang living conditions ng mga mamamayan,” Amid said.
    He said he is in favor of the project and encourages the Kabugao IPs to support the same not only because the proposed Renewable Hydropower Project will produce CLEAN Energy and power the Kabugao area but also it will uplift the lives of the Isnag Host Communities by providing jobs and other sustainable livelihood, enterprise development, health care and environmental conservation.  
    The recently signed MOA between PPRPPC and. The Isnag IP includes Royalty share from the power plant’s actual generation; compensation for affected houses and affected farmers; Yearly Educational and Medical subsidy for 25 years of P2Million/year; and Livelihood and skills training; and other opportunities for them.  
    PPRPPC will give priority to the Host Community in the employment of at least 500+ for the construction of powerplant alone.  
     IPMR Amid said that that social acceptability and free, prior informed consent was granted to the proponent following the right process, before the concerned IPs of affected barangays--which represent the majority of the communities--signed the MOA with the proponent.
    Once completed, the 150MW Renewable Hydropower project plant is also expected to provide reliable, renewable and low-cost energy not only to the host community and affected barangays where it is will supply Clean Energy to power entire Kabugao and Pudtol area but also to the entire nation as the country transitions to more sustainable sources of energy. 
    Apart from compensation benefits as provided in the MOA, the project which is a Renewable Project under RA 9513: Renewable Energy Act of 2008   is required to set aside 1% of its Gross Income  as Government share which will be shared by national, provincial, municipal and barangay government units.
    Under the ER 1-94 Program, which is a policy under the DOE Act of 1992 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), the Host communities and affected Barangays will be entitled to One centavo for every kilowatt-hour (P0.01/kWh) / year.   
    This will be used for electrification, development of livelihood projects, reforestration/Watershed Management/ Health and Environmental Enhancement.  Apart from these, IPMR Amid said the project will be a huge addition to the internal revenue allotment of the province and the host municipalities and barangays. 
    He sees the project as an incentive for new and sustainable investments into the area that will be beneficial for the communities in terms of employment.
    Another major benefit of the project, IPMR Amid cited, is it could help mitigate the ongoing community practice of slash-and-burn farming, which is damaging to the environment. Forests are burned to make way for crops. With alternative sources of livelihood for community members, forests within the mountains can be better protected.
    IPMR Amid admitted there are groups opposed to the project and are currently conducting a signature campaign against it.
He said they respect the stand of the anti-hydro plant groups since it is their right, but they leave to the authorities and concerned agencies how to address their sentiments.
    He added from the onset, as IPMR, he has been leading an information drive to explain the project and its benefits to the IPs as well as address the misinformation being spread by the opposition about the planned project.
    “Being an IP, I was being obliged by some to oppose the project and side with them. But looking at the proposal, I believe it is for the good of all. As such, why not embrace it, as long as the provisions and commitments are fulfilled, we support it,” Amid said, added it was not easy to secure social acceptability for the project, but that since the proper process is being followed, the concerned local government units have given their endorsement of the proposed project.
    This, as an independent think-tank appealed for open-mindedness instead of the seeming 'default' opposition to hydro electric power plants projects and other large-scale renewable energy projects purportedly by local communities as climate change impacts are felt stronger by the day.
    Such negative attitude to hydro power, indubitably still the largest and most economically feasible source of renewable energy stifles efforts at decreasing dependence for coal and other dirty fossil fuels.
    As our economy grows, every day of delay in any renewable energy project favors the entry of new dirty power, said Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon).
    The group cited delays in the Gened-1 hydro electric power project in Pudtol, Apayao which had been in limbo since its proponent, Pan Pacific Renewable Power Phils, Corp. was awarded by the Dept. of Energy (DOE) in December 2011.
    Of late, the project secured a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) with the Isnag Indigenous Cultural Communities and the NCIP. "Even before the ink of the agreement got dry, fresh opposition had surfaced," said Pinoy Aksyon chairperson BenCyrus G. Ellorin, who further noted that the proponents have been open changes in the design of the project in response to environmental and social concerns.
    "There also has been no showing of any irregularity in the process of securing the FPIC and other permits andeven local groups, notably the youth have been vocal in their support for the project," he added of the agreement signed on April 20, 2021.
    The proposed Gened-1 project will have a total installed capacity of 150 megawatts of clean energy. The project site is situated 62 km upstream of the Apayao-Abulug River.


Kalinga crime lab, Soco team rated PNP’s best

TABUK CITY – The Kalinga Provincial Crime Laboratory Office was hailed as the Best Provincial Crime Laboratory Office in Category B for the year 2020 and the Best SOCO team during their 76th founding anniversary with the theme "PNP CL: Sagisag ng Katatagan at Kabayanihan sa Gitna ng Pandemya," virtually held at PNP Crime Laboratory, Camp Crame, Quezon City on May 19.
    With 101 provincial crime laboratory offices, the Kalinga Provincial CLO under the leadership of officer-in-charge, Maj. Gina Claire Bidaure Bentican was declared as the Best Provincial Crime Laboratory Office, and also topped among the four contenders as the “best scene of the crime operation” (SOCO) after obtaining the highest rating of 82.3%.
    For the SOCO team, they were rated according to forensic breakthrough (60%); court resolution (25%); and awards/recognitions (15%) with a total of 100%.
    During the event, Highways Sec. Mark A. Villar was guest of honor and speaker with PNP Chief, Gen. Guillermo Loronzo E. Eleazar who presented the plaques to awardees.
    The PNP Crime Lab provides scientific investigation services and other technical support to the Philippine National Police Offices and other agencies through fieldwork, scene of crime operations, forensic laboratory service, criminalistics training and research.



SK Kagawad, buddy busted for drug sale

BAGUIO CITY -- A Sangguniang Kabataan kagawad and another suspect were arrested by Baguio police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agents here at Poliwes evening of May 24.  
In Camp Dangwa, Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald Oliver Lee Based identified the arrested suspects as Kenneth Bryan Aberin Balalang, 23, SK kagawad of Poliwes and Lorryanne Estioco Cordova, 21, unemployed.
City police director Allen Rae Co. said police arrested the suspects after selling marijuana leaves weighing 15 grams worth P1,500 to a cop who acted as buyer.
Seized from Balalang’s possession was the buy-bust money.
Inventory of seized items was witnessed by barangay kagawad Maria A. Balabag, media representativeCharles Niko Limon and Prosecutor Don Immanuel Vergara.
Balalang and Cordova, along with the confiscated items were brought to Abanao police station for documentation and proper disposition where a case for illegal drugs was prepared against them.

Porter nabbed in La Trinidad for selling shabu

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – A man was arrested here May 20 for illegal drugs. Based on the reports sent to Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee, police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency elements arrested Rey Mark Torres Lacanaria, 23, porter, after he sold a sachet of suspected shabu weighing 0.30 grams worth P2,040 to a cop at km 5, Barangay Pico. Other items seized from the suspect were suspected shabu weighing 0.20 grams, P1,360 and cell phone. Inventory of all seized items was done onsite in the presence of a barangay councilor of Pico and Dept. of Justice representative. Lacanaria and confiscated evidence were brought to La Trinidad Municipal Police Station and is now facing charges for violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165).


‘Druggies’ nabbed in Ilocos Sur town

SINAIT, Ilocos Sur -- Two drug suspects were arrested in a sting here May 23. Marc June Quebral, 31, and Robin Bermudez, 27, reportedly sold a sachet of shabu to an undercover agent in Barangay Paratong, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
    Quebral reportedly ranked 10th in the drug list of the PDEA-Ilocos region.
Bermudez reportedly served as driver of Quebral during the transaction.
Police said they seized from the suspects two more plastic sachets containing shabu with an estimated street value of P20,000.
Quebral and Bermudez are detained at the Sinait police. Court charges were prepared against them.
On the same day, another drug suspect in the watchlist of the Cordillera police was arrested in Tabuk, Kalinga.
Bernel Bigot, 24, reportedly sold 10 kilos of marijuana bricks with an estimated street value of P1.2 million to an undercover agent in Barangay Kalagdao.


Farmer held for illegal firearms in Kalinga

PINUKPUK, Kalinga – A farmer is now facing charges for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act after he was reported for firing indiscriminately here at Sitio Bayug, Junction afternoon of May 22.
    Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee, at the regional police headquarters in Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet, identified the suspect as Pedro Urdas Juan, 50, farmer, of Junction, Pinukpuk.
    Kalinga police director Col. Davy Limmong reportedly received a call from Pinukpuk Mayor Irving B. Dasayon, about a man who was firing a gun at the grasslands of Sitio Bayug.
Dasayon and residents pinpointed location of the suspect to police who saw Juan sitting in front of his bunkhouse holding his firearm.
They approached the suspect and asked him for documents or license of the gun he was holding but he failed to show any.
He was arrested by police.
Also seized from Juan was a 12-gauge shotgun without markings and serial number.
Juan and the seized item were brought to Pinukpuk police station.

Sinait bocap stabbed dead

By Mar T. Supnad

SINAIT, Ilocos Sur -- A barangay councilor was stabbed dead here night of May 22 for trying to pacify trouble in a residential house among family members. 1
    Police identified the victim as Juwee A. Guzman, 45, of Barangay Sallacapo.
    The suspect was Joey A. Ibaan, also of Sallacapo.
    According to report, town police immediately responded to verify the report that a trouble was in progress in said barangay.
Police later learned that the councilor was stabbed dead by the suspect.
The victim was rushed to ISDH Sinait for medical attention but attending physician Dr. Editha Rondal Friala declared him dead on arrival.
Investigation conducted by the police disclosed that the victim went to the house of the suspect to pacify the trouble when the suspect got irritated and stabbed the victim hitting on his left shoulder.
The suspect was arrested by the responding personnel of Sinait PS.
Weapon used was also recovered, a knife.
The suspect and weapon used in stabbing are now under the custody of Sinait police. 

3 arrested in Ilocos Sur for illegal guns, bullets

By Mar T. Supnad

CAMP QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur- Three persons were arrested May 21 in conducted by police that also resulted to confiscation of illegal guns and bullets. 
A police report said Bobby T. Delizo, 45 was nabbed when policemen
raided his house at Barangay Lubong, Sta. Maria town following search warrant issued by Fatima Vitamog-Querubin, acting presiding judge of RTC Branch 22 Narvacan that resulted to seizure of a Cal. 9 mm pistol loaded with a bullet and two bullets for Cal. 38.
In Dasay, Narvacan, suspect Warlito C. Molina Jr. was also arrested after police seized from his house a Cal. 38 and bullets without permit.
In Amguid, Candon City, police arrested Dominador Pascua, 61 for illegally possessing a bullet of Cal. 45 handgun.
No gun was taken from him.



DOH vaccinates 100,000 priority folks in CagVal

By Oliver T. Baccay

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan -- The Dept. of Health region 2 has vaccinated 101, 384 individuals who belong to the priority A1 to 3 in Cagayan Valley region. 
    Janriel Lavadia, vaccination focal person, said of the total, 48, 714 were health care workers, 33, 883, senior citizens and 187, 425 individuals with comorbidities.
    The number is equivalent to 16.56 percent vaccination rate from the 612, 232 targeted A1 to 3 priority individuals.
    A total of 143, 895 doses of vaccines were delivered to provinces to include 60, 810 Sinovac brand, 82,500 AstraZeneca and 585 Pfizer. 
    "The Pfizer brand was given only for the province of Quirino because they have a cold storage facility that meets the required temperature of the said vaccine brand," Lavadia said. 
    He added there were remaining 1, 500 doses undelivered vaccines to coastal municipalities of the region. 
    "We are now arranging for the schedules of delivery of the remaining vaccines to the coastal towns. We hope to complete the delivery as soon as possible," Lavadia said. 
    In terms of consumption rate, the department recorded 69.73 percent.
    Pfizer registered the highest consumption rate of 97.95 percent, followed by Sinovac with 98.09 percent and AstraZeneca, 49 percent. 
    Lavadia said there were 3, 232 deferrals because they had symptoms during their scheduled vaccination.
    Some were infected by the virus while others were exposed to Covid-19.
    He also added were 385 who refused to be vaccinated due to religious or personal belief and fear of vaccination. -- PIA-Cagayan

Abra gets 5-K doses of Sinovac vaccines

By Carlito C. Dar

BANGUED, Abra -- The Regional Vaccination Operations Center in Baguio City allocated a new tranche of 5,000 Sinovac vaccines to Abra  as it  already used Covid-19 vaccines  for the province. As of May 20, RVOC, data barred 11,493 vaccinated in Abra with 5,931 from Priority A1 (frontline health workers), 2,656 from Priority A2( senior citizens) and 1,776 pare from Priority A3 (adults with co –morbidities).
    Abra also vaccinated all 5,921 Priority A1 in its  master list including 10 newly – hired registered frontline health workers.
There were also 4,503 in the province who completed their 2- dose Sinovac vaccine.
Abra used  all the first tranche of 5,525 doses of Sinovac and 650 doses of AstraZeneca including the second tranche of 3,040 doses of AstraZeneca, the province received last May 11.
Abra is second in terms of vaccinated eligible population and vaccination activities  after Baguio City which already vaccinated 28,776 eligible population from Priority A1, A2 and A3 groups, 
RVOC chairperson and Dept. of Health –Cordillera regional director Dr. Ruby Constantino, in a meeting with provincial/city vaccination operations centers on May 20, cited importance of faster deployment and utilization of vaccines.
She said Priority A1 in master list should get their Covid – 19 jabs.
Constantino urged provincial VOCs to closely monitor vaccination activities in  municipalities  and use unutilized vaccines in other areas.
She said based on National Vaccination Operation Center guidelines, deployment of allocation of new tranche of vaccines will be based on the utilization accomplishments of every provincial/city local government unit. – PIA       Cordillera


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