Feeling ‘pulse of the people’

>> Wednesday, July 28, 2021


It may be a bit too early to feel the pulse of the people with 10 more months to go before Election Day. But Pulse Asia tells us people are already sold on Sara as the next President with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos tied for second place, and with Senators Grace Poe and Senator Manny Pacquiao in third place.
    The Pulse Asia survey also finds that those interviewed would vote for the President if he were to run as vice president.
    The Pulse Asia survey says Isko and Bongbong are the preferred presidential candidates in Metro Manila, Sara is very popular among the ABC, D, and E categories of voters, Pacquiao, contrary to belief and Grace Poe are within the same bracket among the people and VP Leni Robredo got a very low rating.
    Based on the survey conducted with 2,400 respondents from June 7 to 16, Duterte-Carpio was the most preferred presidential candidate with 28 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for her if the elections were held on the day they were interviewed.
    She was followed by Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso at 14%, and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, at 13%.
    President Duterte was the top choice for vice president with 18% of respondents saying they would vote for him. He was followed by Moreno at 14%.
    President Duterte earlier said he is “sold to the idea” of running as vice president in the 2022 polls, but believes that his future successor should be a “friend” who he can work with.
    He also said he can already be considered a candidate for vice president in the 2022 polls “to maintain equilibrium.”
    The President has also repeatedly said he is against the idea of his daughter, Duterte-Carpio, running for president.
Duterte-Carpio’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) earlier said she may not run for president should her father seek the vice presidency.
    Following the survey, Robredo said, “We should try to uncover why Filipinos are attracted to the kind of leadership offered by the Dutertes. She added that a study on the preference of Filipinos on direction must be looked into.
    The Vice President clarified that the survey results should not be dismissed as false or fake. Instead, it should be studied in a context on what a Filipino looks for in a leader. The vice president said the government should also be sensitive and take into account the public’s shift in preference.
    In the end, the Vice President said it important to understand the messages behind the survey results. By not dismissing it, she added, officials would be able to understand the needs of the Filipino public.
    This, as social media netizens lashed out at the Pulse Asia results. One said around 2,000 folks who were interviewed did not represent the 150 million people of this country and voting preference could still change in a year before the elections.     Another openly wondered: Were they imagining things?


Political wannabees


Alfred P. Dizon

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- It is almost 10 more months to go before the May 9, 2022 elections, and there is already a lot of political posturing going on in local and national fronts.
If it is any indication, the killing of some barangay officials in northern Luzon as early as this time is a grave omen of more bad things to come.
    A few days ago, La Union Second District Rep.  Sandra Eriguel called on President Duterte to start an investigation on a “slay plot” against her and two other town officials. The President has ordered the Philippine National Police last week to go after the “gun-for-hire” group which had reportedly been responsible of political killings in the Ilocos Region over the years.
    Eriguel said the gun-for-hire squad against her and the two other officials was allegedly led by former police Col. Winston Magpali that according to her, “was reminiscent of the killings in La Union in 2018.”
    Among victims then was her husband, former La Union Second District Rep. Eufraio “Franny” Eriguel. She recalled how her late husband was “brutally murdered” in Barangay Capas, Agoo, La union on May 12, 2018, two days before the barangay elections.
    She said suspects in the case were members of the Magpali-led gang.
    The other victims were then Balaoan vice mayor Alfred Conception and then Sudipen mayor Alexander Buquing whose killings were also said to be politically motivated.    
    Over the years, the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions had been known as hotbed of political killings. Abra and Kalinga in the Cordillera, had been identified also as hot spots over the years.  
Like in other parts of the country, political posturing is now a trend in Northern Luzon.
    In Benguet, congressional Caretaker Eric Yap of ACT-CIS partylist, who is from Davao, is reportedly running for Benguet congressman in next year’s elections.  His supporters have set up placards and tents with his name in bold letters all over the province asking, “Kailangan yo kadi ti tulong (Do you need help)?”
    Now the grapevine in Benguet is if former Rep. Ronald Cosalan will not run for Congress, Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan of     Itogon town will do so. Like Cosalan, Palangdan is also a lawyer.
    According to their supporters, people of Benguet would rather have an “organic” congressman who knows the intricacies of making laws endemic to the province and “bringing home the bacon.”
    For governor, former Vice Gov. Nelson Dangwa is reportedly gunning for the post along with provincial Board Member Nestor “Bobot” Fongwan.
    Gov. Diclas is reportedly set to file for the same post to maintain his incumbency.
    Top elective officials of the capital town of La Trinidad like Mayor Romeo Salda and Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan are still mum on their political plans although some municipal councilors are reportedly eying to move up to a higher post.
    In nearby Baguio, city officials are still holding their cards close to their chest, although political pundits say if Mayor Benjamin Magalong will eye a Senate seat, considering he is known nationwide, former mayor Mauricio Domogan will try to reclaim his post for many years.
    But considering Magalong is known for his no-nonsense style of governance, some residents are saying he is a very strong contender to retain his present seat.
    Magalong recently ordered out around 20 armed guards from Manila who illegally entered the Baguio Dairy farm and set up camp there saying their boss has a title over hectares of government property.
    Police disarmed the guards who, the city information office said, were earlier there with a certain Mailed Molina.          
Over in Mountain Province, talks have it that Bontoc 3-termer Mayor Franklin Odsey would run for governor against incumbent Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan.
    Former Sagada Mayor Eduard Latawan is reportedly eying to file his candidacy for Congress or governor. Rep. Maximo Dalog. Jr. will reportedly file for the same seat.
    Politics is getting more interesting in Kalinga after the Second Division of the Commission on Elections ordered recently recount of votes after it found the post-election protest ‒ filed by Kalinga gubernatorial candidate and former vice governor James Edubba against proclaimed Gov. Ferdinand Tubban right after the May 13, 2019 midterm elections ‒ has merit and should be considered. (See page 1 for story).
    Incumbent Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang is reportedly set to file for his present post while former Gov. Jocel Baac is waiting on the wings for his best options.    
    It would still be the same top officials in Apayao and Abra, pundits say. But Ifugao is a different case, as the people could abruptly decide to change course as regards their political leaders.
In the national level, President Duterte, has been quoted to have said that he is sold on running for vice president. Who will be his running mate? Will it be his daughter, or Bong Go? 
    His minions say there’s no Constitutional prohibition, basing from Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 charter.
    The only prohibition on Section 4, they say, is that “no person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”
    Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, when she took over the presidency after Erap Estrada was convicted for plunder and ousted, served only for three years and a half.
    But will Duterte really run? He said earlier that his candidate for vice president is House Majority Floorleader Martin Romualdez. Political observers say if Romualdez does not run for Vice President, who then will be Sara’s vice presidential candidate? Observers say it is Bongbong Marcos, adding this will be a perfect geographic and demographic combination. 
    Meanwhile, the opposition needs unity. Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said there should be only one opposition candidate for both president and vice president. 
    Reports say there might actually be two or even three opposition candidates including Liberal Party’s Robredo, if she does decide to run.
    Sen. Manny Pacquiao is a contender. Why else would Pacquiao be talking about corruption in government agencies if he will not be an oppositionist?
    Then there are Sen. Ping Lacson and Senate President Tito Sotto, who are now on a national tour.  Observers said this is actually premature campaigning, even though they are saying that they want to feel the pulse of the people. Lacson has been acting as an oppositionist and Sotto had been critical of the way Duterte is conducting his “war” on illegal drugs. 
    There is also Senator Dick Gordon, who said he would run for President. Surely, not under Sara. Anybody running for the top post is considered opposition if he or she is not under Duterte, father or daughter.
    Indeed the May 9, 2022 polls are unique in every way. This will be the first time that the daughter of a sitting President will run as president. Only in the Philippines, as they say. Other presidential daughters before Duterte ran, but only after their fathers had retired or died.
The Comelec has banned hand-shaking, kissing, and other public displays of affection during the campaign period of the 2022 elections. This could affect the outcome of both the national and local elections.


Battle of Titans looms


By Perry Diaz

Barely a year to the 2022 presidential election, the field is getting crowded.  And money is not a problem for the top three undeclared contenders.  They’re all super rich.  But how they will fight it out is a subject of much speculation.  They’re all expected to slug it out in the open once the campaign season starts. That’s only a short four months away. And as the last day of filing of candidacy on October 8th gets closer, the rivalry intensifies. As expected, they’ll all hold their certificates of candidacies close to their chests.  However, it would be anti-climactic since they’re all known to harbor this chance of a lifetime to be the next president. 
    Let’s begin with the most obvious presidential wannabe who is Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the colorful incumbent president, Rodrigo Duterte, who by law is precluded from seeking a second term.  Inday Sara, as she is known in political circles, is currently the 43-year-old mayor of Davao City.
     Recent polls show her as the top choice of potential voters next year, followed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos’ son who is named after him.  At 63 years of age, Bongbong is getting old.  If he passes up an opportunity to run for president this year, he’d be 69 at the next presidential campaign.  He’d be too old by Philippine standards and he’d become the next Jejomar Binay, competing against younger candidates. 
     The third presidential hopeful is none other than the famous world boxing champion, 42-year-old Sen. Manny Pacquiao.  The youthful Pacquiao is a mega-billionaire and would be able to finance his own campaign against anybody.  But his popularity is waning.  He will be termed out in 2022 after serving as senator for 12 years. 
     Pacquiao is acting president of the PDP-Laban Party, now being chaired by President Duterte.  Duterte, who is in favor of his daughter Sara for president and he seems bent on knocking Pacquiao out of contention for the 2022 presidential election in support of his daughter.
 Duterte-Duterte tandem
President Duterte, however, is being rumored to run for vice president, which would make it interesting to see a father-daughter tandem.  But the president is denying such rumors.
     How about Sen. Bong Go, Duterte’s former aide who remains loyal like a “lapdog”?  Speculation is rife that he will run for president.  Unless, he runs as Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential running mate, there is no guarantee that Go would win.  But Go doesn’t have a chance without Duterte as his running mate.  Last March 11, Go denied that he wanted to run for president but said,  “My mind might change if President Duterte runs for vice president.”  The question is:  If both were elected president and vice president, what would prevent Go from resigning the presidency so that his veep Duterte would assume the presidency? 
     With anti-Chinese sentiments running high in the country due to the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute, he’d be lucky if he’d get 3% of the votes.  However, if Go runs with Rodrigo Duterte as his running mate, Duterte could use the government resources to push for a Go-Duterte victory.  They’ll have the “power of incumbency,” which would put at their disposal all the government resources including the military and national police forces.  It would be so easy for them to run a Triple G strategy – Gold, Guns, and Goons, which was popularized during the Marcos years. 
 Constitutional question
 But there is a constitutional question in the event Duterte runs for vice president.  Article VII Section 4 says:  “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.”  Clearly, the operative word is “any.”  It prohibits the President from running for re-election in “any” office, whether it’s President, Vice President, Senator, Congressman or even Mayor or Council Member.  Period.  I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court would interpret it as such.  So if Papa Duterte were disqualified from running for vice president, then Go would not run for president either.
     Duterte’s best option is for daughter to run as the vice presidential running mate of Bongbong Marcos or vice versa.  It’s interesting to note that on May 29, Bongbong and sister Imee Marcos flew to Davao City to greet Sara “Happy birthday!”  Presumably, Bongbong and Sara discussed a possible tandem between the two of them?  Why not?  They’re the two top winners in the straw polls taken last April.  The question is, who would be the presidential candidate?  MY guess is it would be Bongbong simply because of Bongbong’s age. Besides, Imelda Marcos would veto it.  She wanted her son to follow the footsteps of his father.  Sarah is still young.  Another six years wait for her to move up the presidential ladder is just about right. 
     How about Pacquiao?  He is a formidable opponent, be it in boxing or in politics. Due to Pacquiao’s star power and wealth, he may be the one candidate who could mount an independent campaign.  He also has the “bakya” crowd behind him.  And that’s a huge number of voters.  He can campaign using his Pidgin English, which would delight his audience.
 Ultimately, it would be a fight between a Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem vs. Pacquiao and his handpicked running mate.
     How about vice president Leni Robredo?  Nobody is even sure if she’s going to run for president.  Her main problem is money. She doesn’t have the financial wherewithal she needs to launch an effective campaign to win.  She admitted that herself.  With Sara Duterte, Bongbong Marcos, and Manny Pacquiao having all the money to buy themselves an election, Robredo would probably just run for governor of her home province of Camarines Sur, where she’d be a sure winner.  Or she could be the vice presidential running mate of Pacquiao who is capable of funding Robredo’s candidacy. 
Yes, the battle of Titans looms.  It will be a survival of the fittest or should I say, survival of the cheatest?



Posturing amid Covid-19 pandemic


March L. Fianza

Despite the insistence of the president’s spox that his boss would rather do his job of battling the Covid-19 pandemic instead of facing problems of a looming split in his political party, the public sees the opposite. At present, disorganization is the word to describe the PDP-Laban, presumably the major party of President Duterte's coalition.
It shows that in more than a couple of months, the problems haunting the PDP-Laban metamorphosed into an impending political party collapse, even quicker than the mutation of the coronavirus Alpha variant into the Delta variant.  
    The vicious power struggle among top leaders of the ruling PDP-Laban should warn voters on who to vote for in 2022. Only recently, the public witnessed the exchange of allegations and accusations between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi with the backing of Sen. Koko Pimentel and President Rodrigo Duterte, respectively.
    The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP–Laban) that was founded in 1982 in Cebu City by Nene Pimentel Jr. and a group of activists against the government of Ferdinand Marcos, became the ruling party in 2016 when it took under its wing President Rodrigo Duterte when he decided at the last minute to join the presidential race and won. Later, he was designated as chairman of the party.
    But while it is now the ruling party, it is in truth a mix of politicians belonging to other political parties, including those coming from the Liberal Party (LP) and even the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
PDP–Laban is the merger between the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and Lakas ng Bayan. In 1983, PDP initially coalesced with Lakas ng Bayan party founded in 1978 by former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Then in 1986, the two groups merged to form the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan or PDP–Laban.
    The newly formed PDP–Laban alliance became the single biggest opposition group during that period to run against Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election. Corazon Aquino, the widow of the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., became the party's nominee to run for President.
    Later, PDP–Laban aligned with Salvador Laurel’s UNIDO. But after the EDSA Revolution of 1986 which led to an Aquino - Laurel proclamation as President and Vice President, respectively; UNIDO was dissolved.
    Then prior to the 1988 local elections, PDP-Laban was criticized for its loose policy in accepting members of the KBL party which is largely composed of Marcos loyalists and sympathizers. This led to PDP–Laban split into two factions which were the Pimentel Wing and the Cojuangco Wing of Jose Cojuangco Jr.
    Meanwhile, the Cojuangco Wing and the Lakas ng Bansa party of House Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. merged in 1988 to form the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino party (LDP).
    The rest is history. Senator Koko Pimentel, the son and namesake of the party founder Nene Pimentel Jr., was party president until he designated Senator Pacquiao in 2018 as acting president while he assumed the position of executive vice chairman. Energy secretary Cusi was vice chairman.
    Then an internal rift in the party started in early 2021, when Pacquiao criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's policy regarding the South China Sea dispute.
    PDP-Laban chairman Duterte chided Pacquiao's criticisms and took offense to the senator’s statement that his administration was more corrupt than his predecessors’ terms. Pacquiao also came into conflict with PDP-Laban vice chairman Cusi.
    On July 9, 2021; the Pimentel-Pacquiao faction expelled vice-chairman Cusi, allegedly for violating provisions of the party's constitution by showing allegiance to a political party apart from PDP-Laban. President Duterte refused to recognize the expulsion of vice-chairman Cusi.
    A week later on July 17 in Clark, Pampanga; the rift took a new turn when Pacquiao was ousted as acting president while Cusi was elected in his place during the party's national assembly, attended mostly by the Duterte-Cusi faction.
    Certainly the Pacquiao-Pimentel faction will organize its own national assembly next month as it claimed that the “national assembly and election of the new PDP-Laban officers were unauthorized” under the party’s by-laws.
    I see this early free-for-all as posturing for the 2022 elections. For the president, and as a seasoned politician, he knows that in his last year in office, he is considered a lame duck president that is why he had to announce that he would run for vice president in May 2022.
    Which reminds me of my professor in Political Science who said that the 1987 Philippine Constitution is the lousiest that was written by the framers who think they are the best and oppose all proposed amendments.
    He said, the framers should have written in the Constitution that “outgoing presidents cannot run for the position of vice president,” saying further that what is not prohibited by the Constitution is allowed.
    The framers should have also maintained the four-year term and one reelection for all political positions to allow politicians to stay in public office if they are performing well, or get rid of corrupt elected officials by not reelecting them.
    President Duterte was accused of liability over the occupation of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese, and also faces an investigation by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity over the killing of thousands of victims of his war on drugs.
    But Sen. Pacquiao has income tax issues to settle, too. His anti-corruption posturing cannot make the public forget his wrongdoing. Same thing with former Sen. Trillanes who is facing several criminal cases.
    The cheapest way for Trillanes and Pacquiao, both of whom might run for president, is to have their names recalled by the electorate by accusing their rivals without having to file cases in court as people will be hearing the allegations while election fever is in the air.
    All statements by politicians, not only Duterte and Pacquiao, expose the genuine intentions in running for public office. Many, if not all of them seek public office for personal reasons. 
    The public can expect more drama as the filing of certificates of candidacy nears. But what the country needs are politicians who would not get elected just to escape liabilities.  


Mayor to symptomatic persons: Protect your family, friends / Preparing for Delta Variant


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Benjamin Magalong reminded Baguio residents experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 to observe precautionary measures to avoid passing on the virus to family members and friends.
    As“If we are experiencing the known symptoms of Covid, like colds, fever, itchy or painful throat, diarrhea, loss of smell and/or taste, we must be responsible enough to protect our family, friends, workmates and others around us from getting infected,” he said.
    He said a symptomatic person must immediately quarantine himself by staying in a separate room or space and observing the basic preventive measures like wearing face masks, observing personal hygiene, disinfection, physical distancing and ensuring proper ventilation.
    “Avoid eating with family members and sharing utensils,” he advised.
    If going out of residence cannot be helped, then one must avoid crowd, wear mask and shield, observe physical distancing, avoid confined spaces and close contact conversations.
    At the first signs and symptoms, call or see a doctor, avail of telemedicine services or seek assistance at district health centers through the following hotlines:
     Asin district health center -- 620-4798; Atab – 420-9087; Atok Trail – 620-5395; Scout Barrio – 442-4512; Aurora Hill – 665-7772; Campo Filipino – 442-0031; City Camp – 665-2902; Engineers’ Hill – 442-0100; Irisan – 442-0102; Loakan – 665-8761; Lucban – 300-6065; Mines View – 665-8702; Pacdal – 665-8104; Pinsao – 665-7806; Quezon Hill – 620-5469; and Quirino – 620-5338 or through the COVID-19 hotllines: City Health Services -- 09167974397, 09184880195; City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office – 442-1900-05, 09063702290, 09184880195.
Mayor Magalong sought an inventory and restocking of medical supplies in the city in preparation for the more severe and more contagious variants of Covid-19 particularly the Delta and Lambda variants.
    The mayor said ensuring that the city will have enough reserve of medical apparatus including the crucial oxygen and oxygen tanks and medicines in its hospitals is part of proactive measures in case hospitalization increases because of the more severe and more transmissible nature of the new variants.
    “We watched how people desperately lined up for oxygen in India and other countries.  We must not wait for it to happen in our city.  We have to learn from their experiences and we have to act for us to save lives,” the mayor said.
    The mayor said he had advised the medical community to stock up on these necessities ahead of time.
In the recent management committee (ManCom) meeting, he instructed the City Health Services Office to do an inventory of available supplies not only in hospitals but also in the private sector.
    He issued an appeal to private groups and individuals who own oxygen tanks and oxygenerators and who are willing to lend these to the city government should the situation to enlist their equipment with the CHSO.
He also urged the CHSO to work out the procurement of oxygenerators and to establish linkage with suppliers where the city can immediately procure such medical needs when needed.
“We have to have a sense of urgency in these crucial times,” he stressed.
While there was still no Delta or Lambda variants detected in the country, the mayor refused to rest easy pointing out the limited capability of the country in processing specimens coupled with the lack of reagents and ancillary supplies.
The city mapped out strategies against the new variants including setting up more isolation facilities and beds in anticipation of increased hospitalizations due to the new variant’s propensity to cause more severe symptoms; expediting vaccination, intensifying compliance to the minimum public health standards, among others.
Despite the lag in vaccine supply, Baguio City continues to beef up its vaccination capability to be prepared to expedite the program once vaccine supply and production issues got resolved.
Mayor Magalong said the city aims to expand its vaccination schedule, put up more sites to reach as many target population, assign and train more personnel to man these sites and to further streamline the process to cut down the vaccination time.
He said the city will increase its vaccination target from 70 percent to 95 percent to really establish herd immunity.
As of now, the City Health Services Office (CHSO) also upgraded the target from 70 percent to 85 percent pegging the total target population now at 238,776 individuals from the previous 196,639.
This is computed from the city’s estimated total population of 374,550 less persons below 18 years old at 25 percent.
Assistant City Health Officer Dr. Celia Flor Brillantes to the Management Committee (ManCom) last July 13 that vaccination schedule had been expanded to cover all days of the week at the five mega sites at the St. Louis University, University of Baguio, St. Louis School Inc. at St. Vincent, SM City Baguio and the Baguio Country Club.
She said more vaccination sites will be set up in the coming days including district and satellite ones to reach as many target population.
To prepare for this, the City Health Services Office headed by Dr. Rowena Galpo had been training volunteers from both the government and the private sector to man the sites.
Brillantes said they also continue to review and readjust the vaccination process to further speed up the procedures and increase vaccination coverage.
The mayor earlier ordered the ramping up of the city’s vaccination rate to counter the anticipated surges in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases due to increased mobility, reopening to tourists and the threat of the more harmful variants but the lack of vaccines had snagged said plans prompting the mayor to appeal for more patience from residents raring to be vaccinated.


Comelec orders Kalinga vote recount over gov tiff

>> Sunday, July 25, 2021

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The Second Division of the Commission on Elections has ordered recount of votes after it found the post-election protest ‒ filed by Kalinga gubernatorial candidate and former vice governor James Edubba against proclaimed Gov.     Ferdinand Tubban right after the May 13, 2019 elections ‒ has merit and should be considered.
    The Comelec, in memo issued July 13, 2021, ordered continuation of the case and recount of remaining contested clustered precincts.
    Election records and statistics department was directed to print images of the ballots of clustered precinct No. 32080016 for its inclusion in recount proceedings.
    The results showed in pilot-tested recount of certain precincts, Edubba gained a total of 46 votes while Tubban was credited with an additional 17 votes.
    Comelec ruled considering earlier figures, it was Edubba who was now leading the gubernatorial race by 19 votes, which was derived by subtracting the margin of 10 votes and the additional 17 votes gained by Tubban, thus a recount was justified.
Edubba and Tubban were among four candidates for the gubernatorial position of Kalinga during the 2018 midterm elections.
After canvassing of votes, Tubban was proclaimed by the provincial board of canvassers as winning candidate, garnering 39,148 votes while Edubba garnered 39,138 votes where there was a slim margin of only 10 votes.
On May 24, 2019, Edubba, former mayor of Pasil town, filed an election protest, contesting the correctness of the election results in 100 clustered precincts out of a total of 250 clustered precincts in the province where the protested precincts cover all municipalities and a city that include Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Rizal, Tabuk City, Tanudan and Tinglayan in the province.


Du30 to PNP: Get gun-for-hire group in slay of Ilocos pols

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to "get the head" of the Magpali gun-for-hire group allegedly using rogue policemen and military to harass or liquidate political rivals ahead of the 2022 elections.
    Duterte issued the directive after La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel asked the President to probe the gun-for-hire group and the alleged assassination plot against her and two municipal officials.
    "The Ilocos region police was ordered by Duterte to 'get the head' of the 'Magpali gun-for-hire group' tagged in numerous slays in La Union and reportedly with a down payment to assassinate a lawmaker and two more town executives in that province," Eriguel said in a statement.
    "Catching the leader, dismissed police Col. Wilson Magpali, sources claimed, would lead authorities into the bottom of stemming the political killings in La Union way back in 2018," she added.
    Eriguel made the statement after she learned an assassination squad was regrouping in La Union in a bid to kill her and two municipal mayors in the province.
    She said the plot was uncovered by La Union police following the arrest of several members of the notorious Magpali assassination squad, composed mostly of police and military scalawags, on June 23, 2021.
    "Sana po ay matuldukan na itong mga karahasan na hindi po kanais-nais. Nakakatakot po ngayon, na parang bagong Abra po itong La Union. Sana po ay hindi mangyari ang ganoon (Please help us put an end to this spate of violence. It is truly frightening - it is as if La Union has become the new Abra. We hope this will not come to pass)," Eriguel said.
    "Nananawagan po kami kay Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte, kay PNP chief Gen. Eleazar at sa NBI para gumawa ng parallel investigation po dito (We are calling on President Rodrigo Duterte, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar and the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation)," she added.
    Eriguel said the kill plot was reminiscent of the 2018 killing of her husband, former representative Franny Eriguel.
    Aside from her husband, she said Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion and Sudipen Mayor Alexander Buquing were also murdered in 2018.
    Eriguel and two other alleged targets of the Magpali gun-for-hire group asked for additional security details and upscaled security arrangements in La Union to thwart a possible wave of violence ahead of the 2022 polls. – Catherine Valente


Bakun elders press talks to settle shutdown of Hedcor power plants

BAKUN, Benguet -- Tribal elders are pushing for a 'win-win' resolution over operation of Hedcor’s three mini-hydro power plants recently shut down by a cease-and-desist order issued by the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR).
    The ongoing conflict over the matter between the municipal government, the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO) and Hedcor Inc.had affected the country’s power supply.
    "We are hoping for a win-win resolution kasi kawawa din kaming mga landowners na may inaasahang additional income from Hedcor's land lease payment kung paalisin ng lokal na gobyerno namin ang Hedcor," said elder Amos Bita-a, 73, founding member of BITO.
    This, following alleged refusal of other BITO members to talks with Hedcor for the operation of the power plants.
Earlier, landowners, concerned residents and employees of the company raised concern on BITO's rejection to customary 'tongtongan' (talks) to settle the matter.
    Some said they were not included in earlier consultations as legitimate members of the organization.
Other landowners expressed hope the conflict between the municipal government, BITO and Hedcor will be resolved the soonest for the greater interest of the indigenous peoples (IPs) in the locality.
Over the years, Hedcor has been renting some six hectares of land from around 100 landowners.
The power firm infuses around P3 million to the domestic economy of the municipality as direct income to landowners on whose properties stand the three power plant facilities of Hedcor.


Baguio sets charges vs fake vax card holders

By Gaby Keith

BAGUIO CITY – The city government is set to file charges against individuals who use unauthorized or falsified Covid-19 vaccination cards in transactions including gaining entry to the Summer Capital.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong issued the warning after online posts openly selling fake vaccination cards circulated nationwide.
    "People might jump at this opportunity to fake their vaccine passports and enter the city without undergoing testing thereby putting everybody else at risk," the mayor said.
    He said the city's triage is equipped to determine the authenticity of vaccination cards by double checking the QR codes and validating the hotline numbers indicated in the cards.
Holders of cards that cannot be validated through said means will have to undergo testing and will be turned away if they refused.
Those with fake vaccine cards will be charged accordingly, he said.


Sagada: Why only 250 folks given cash?

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Despite having a number of corn farmers here, Sagada netizens asked how and why only 250 corn tillers from this town benefitted from the cash and food subsidy for marginal farmers and fishers program (CFSMFFP) of the Dept. of Agriculture.
    In distribution activity two weeks ago by the office of the municipal agriculturist (OMAG), 250 corn farmers were each given P2,000 worth of a half cavan of rice, two frozen dressed chicken and two trays of eggs and P3,000 cash for a total of P5,000 CFSMFFP aid.
    The P3,000 cash is received by the beneficiary through a voucher that he signs.
    Netizens urged the DA to provide the same assistance to all corn farmers asking why some beneficiaries were given food and cash subsidy despite having availed of other social amelioration programs.
    Netizen Mylene Simeon Demot-Galgala said, “all should be given so no one complains.”
    An eligibility criterion of the CFSMFFP requires a farmer is not a beneficiary of any other amelioration program from any government agency aside from being a registered farmer with the DA in a fourth to sixth class municipality or 5th to 6th class city.
    Netizens also asked why only 250 farmers were given assistance when most in town plant corn.
    A list of 2,075 corn farmers was forwarded by the office of the municipal agriculturist to the regional DA office.
    Some 4,000 farmers here registered under the RSBSA (registry system for basic sectors in agriculture) of the DA.
 Corn is a traditional crop planted by most farmers here in this town during the rainy season.
Asked how the 250 corn farmers were selected, Carmen Pomeg-as, municipal agriculturist said the DA central office identified the beneficiaries from the RSBSA forms the farmer submitted.
 The 250 corn farmer beneficiaries were from six out of 19 barangays of this town -- southern barangays of Balugan, Ankileng, Ambasing; northern barangays of Bangaan Aguid and eastern Antadao.
Balugan got the highest of 100 farmer-beneficiaries followed by nearby Ankileng of 77 claimants.
DA chief of Regional Agriculture and Fisheries information section Aida Pagtan said beneficiaries were verified by the OMAG from the RSBSA list the regional office forwarded and OMAG having submitted back the verified list of corn farmer beneficiaries to the DA regional office.
 The verified list delisted 71 corn farmer beneficiaries who availed of the same cash and food assistance given early this year, municipal agricultural staff Scarlett Buteng said.
Earlier, 100 farmers among them 71 corn farmers and fisher folks and indigenous peoples (IP) beneficiaries received the same P3,000 cash and food subsidy worth P2,000 March this year.
The OMAG is not familiar with the criteria of the CFFMFFP that to qualify as a beneficiary should not have availed of other amelioration subsidy, Buteng added.
As a criterion, the CFSMFFP beneficiary shouldn’t have availed of any social amelioration aid from any government office including the Covid-19 adjustment measures program (CAMP) or the tulong panghanapbuhay sa ating disadvantaged/displaced workers (TUPAD) from the Dept. of labor and employment (DOLE) or social amelioration program (SAP) from the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development. 
Thus the doubling of CFSMFFP assistance to a beneficiary even if he/she received SAP, CAMP or TUPAD aid earlier.
Sagada netizens also asked what ‘marginal’ farmer means, saying one beneficiary was a full time vendor and another is a senior citizen on pension.
The CFSFFP defines a marginal corn farmer as one who tills landholding one hectare and below.
Eva Acosta, officer in charge of the corn program of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) said 1,373 corn farmers of the province availed of the CFSMFFP subsidy with the corn producing town of Paracelis having received the highest with 564 beneficiaries followed by 328 corn farmers from Sagada.
 Submitted number of corn farmers from municipalities and the low number of beneficiaries indicate the limited number of beneficiaries per municipality.   
There are 28,515 corn farmers of the province in a list submitted by municipal agricultural offices to the DA region with the highest from the corn producing town of Paracelis with 11,374 corn farmers followed by Bauko with 2,376 and Sabangan with 2,250 corn farmers, OPAG records reveal.
The DA received P24 billion funding under the Bayanihan to Recover as One 2 to provide direct cash assistance or low-interest rate subsidies to qualified agri-fishery enterprises, farmers and fisher folks registered under the RSBSA.
Of the P24 billion fund, a 6.5 billion stimulus package was allotted for agriculture poured into the agency’s social amelioration projects for marginal farmers where P4.5 billion was allocated for CFSMFFP.  




Kalinga general is new Region 2 PNP director

By Victor Martin

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — Brig. Gen. Steve Ludan has assumed as chief of Cagayan Valley police.
    Ludan, a native of Tanudan, Kalinga and member of the Philippine Military Academy’s “Tanglaw Diwa” class of 1992, replaced Brig. Gen. Crizaldo Nieves who reached his mandatory retirement age of 56 Monday.
    Lt. Gen. Israel Dickson, deputy chief for administration of the Philippine National Police, led the turnover ceremony at Camp Adduro in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.
    Ludan, former chief of the PNP Crime Laboratory, vowed to intensify the campaign against illegal drugs in the region.
    In a message, President Duterte commended Nievez for serving the country well.


Council: Suspend P50-M Baguio bike lane project

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The city council recently passed a resolution urging the Baguio City bids and awards committee for Infrastructure to hold in abeyance awarding of the contract for  Phase 1 of the bicycle lane project worth P50 million.
    This, after the council learned recent guidelines of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways were not considered in preparation of the plan.
    Engineer Orlando Genove of the CEO said the project had already been bidded out, but the contract was not awarded yet to the winning bidder.
    The DPWH-Baguio City District Engineering Office received a memorandum on July 3, 2021 from the regional DPWH office directing all district engineers to consider updated guidelines and standard drawings for bicycle facilities in the design of national roads for installation of bike lanes.
    The DPWH-BCDEO furnished the city council with a copy of the updated guidelines.
    Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said the plan prepared by the CEO should conform with said guidelines.
    Genove said the plan was patterned after the earlier guidelines of the DWPH contained in Department Order No. 88 Series of 2020 (Prescribing guidelines on design of bicycle facilities along national roads).
    However, DPWH-BCDEO district engineer Rene Zarate and engineer Cesario Rillera also of the DPWH-BDEO said updated guidelines should be considered.
    Under updated guidelines, prior to installation of bicycle facilities, a feasibility study shall be undertaken by concerned office to determine applicability on  proposed roads.
    Several members of the council questioned the move of the CEO to bid the project out without conducting any feasibility study.
    The councilors cited importance of conducting a feasibility study to ensure the safety of cyclists and motorists when the bicycle facilities installed and ready to be utilized.
    Under the updated guidelines, there are three classes of bike lanes. These are “shared use path” which is completely separate from the roadway, separated bike lane which is a portion of the road designated exclusively for bicycle use and shared roadway.
    According to the DPWH-BCDEO, only the third class, shared roadway, is applicable to the roads in Baguio City.
    A shared roadway is a portion of the road that has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route but can also be used by motor vehicles as there is a limited carriageway width.
    Under the plan prepared by the CEO, shared roadways with a total distance of 6.45 km and separated bike lanes with a total distance of 7.25 km have been designated along the six identified routes.
    This does not conform with the prescription of the updated guidelines as portions of the proposed roads are designated as separated bike lanes which, according to the DPWH-BCDEO officials, are not applicable to the city’s roads.
Councilor Mylen Yaranon, however, commended the CEO for having planned ahead.
    She said the CEO already started planning for the installation of bike lanes using certain design standards as their starting points prior to the crafting and issuance of guidelines by the DPWH.
    The council urged the CEO to present to the city council, the city goverment’s  modified plan for installation of bike lanes taking into consideration guidelines and requirements set forth by the DPWH for national roads and suggestions of barangay officials on barangay roads.
    The routes identified for the phase 1 of the project are the following:
    Loakan-Apugan Barangay Hall to Leonard Wood Road; BGH Rotonda to Panagbenga Park via Military Cut-off; Justice Hall to Kalaw Street via Harrison Road; Governor Pack to BGH Rotonda; Harrison Road to M. Roxas via Magsaysay Street/ Bonifacio Street; and City Hall to Marcos Highway via Legarda Road.


Tesda sets P35-M for Benguet folks’ livelihood trainings

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) has P35 million for livelihood and technical trainings in Benguet.
    Benguet caretaker congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support party-list Rep. Eric Yap said this will provide opportunities for residents to acquire skills and knowledge to make them more productive and improve their economic situation.
    Yap, who chairs the House committee on appropriations, said funds should be utilized until the end of the year to allow at least 2,000 technical-vocational enrollees to complete prescribed training in their chosen courses.
    He added availability of technical-vocational courses will depend on demand. Interested individuals can visit the Benguet Congressional District Office to ensure inclusion to beneficiaries list and scholarship program.
    There will be more funds set by Tesda for technical-vocational scholarship program in Benguet next year so more residents can avail of it.


Baguio warns 'wide-scale lockdown' if folks ignore Covid-19 regulations

By Liza Agoot 

BAGUIO CITY — The local government here said it will declare "wide-scale lockdowns" if residents continue to ignore minimum health standards to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong said “wide-scale lockdowns will continue to be implemented over areas that will exhibit uncooperative behavior as the city tightens measures in anticipation of new surges due to increased people mobility and the presence of new and more dangerous variants."
    This, after the city government ordered the lockdown of three purok (sub-villages) in Barangay Irisan with several residents not complying with health protocols.
    Irisan is the city’s biggest village out of the 128 with over 35,000 population.
    Aileen Refuerzo, public information office chief, said in recent months, the city’s lockdown orders had been limited to the household or workplace of the positive cases but special cases such as overt and repeated violations of health protocols warrant wider scope lockdowns based on the recommendations of the medical officers.
    Observance of basic health protocols include proper use of face masks, face shields, and physical distancing in public places.
Refuerzo said the lockdown of the three sub-villages is not the same as the hard lockdown in the past.
    The order wasfor a week and will not include the APORs (Authorized Persons Outside of Residences), and a member of each affected family will also be allowed to go out to buy necessities.
    “Lockdown impositions had been included in the city’s Covid-19 control strategies and the mechanism was based on the     Application of the Zoning Containment Strategy of the National Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases,” Refuerzo said.
The city had 543 active cases, as of July 9. -- PNA



San Roque Dam hits critical level

By Eva Visperas

SAN MANUEL, Pangasinan -- The San Roque Dam here has not released water for irrigation since July 15 due to low water level.
    In an advisory released recently, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said there was also no generation of the contracted power capacity of 115 megawatts by the San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC).
    “This unwanted situation may prevail until sufficient amount of rainfall will occur at the San Roque Dam watershed,” the NIA said.
    Tom Valdez, SRPC vice president for corporate affairs, said the dam’s water level was at 225.40 meters above sea level, which was not sufficient to generate power.
    Power generation will resume as soon as the water level rises, Valdez said, adding that rains brought by tropical storm Fabian irrigated the farms.
    A similar situation happened in 2007 when the reservoir elevation dropped to 225.42 meters.


Baguio, LTO execs set MOA on unclaimed license plates

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government and Cordillera office of the Land Transportation Office are set to forge an agreement to dispose increasing number of unclaimed license plate numbers of motor vehicles confiscated by police operatives and deputized personnel of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) and barangay officials.
    LTO-CAR regional director Francis Ray Almora said terms and conditions of this agreement are being finalized by both parties prior to scheduling of its signing.
    He said the agreement is part of efforts of the agency to strictly implement the policy on the no-detachment of license plates attached to motor vehicles as license plates are considered the private property of the owner and that it is also classified as permanently attached to the vehicle where it rightfully belongs.
    Almora added the non-detachment of license plates is in line with the implementation of the government’s no-contact policy in preparation for the eventual shift to the use of the LTO management information system for the online registration of motor vehicles, application for issuance of driver’s license, among others.
    Under the said agreement, the city, through the Baguio City Police Office–Traffic Enforcement Unit, will be allowed to use the LTO management information system to tag and alarm the license of plate number of motor vehicles that have violations and whose owners shall be compelled to settle their obligations before being they can renew the registration of their vehicles.
    Amora said law enforcers will no longer be allowed to confiscate license plate numbers of motor vehicles as the same are considered to be permanently attached as part of the private property of the vehicle owner.
    Earlier, BCPO traffic officers sought assistance of the LTO-CAR on how to appropriately dispose the license plate numbers of motor vehicles earlier confiscated due blatant violations of traffic rules and regulations as well as ordinances, which continue to pile up in their office as owners have refused to claim the same.
    According to the LTO-CAR, previously confiscated license plates of motor vehicles because of violations by the registered owners shall be tagged and alarmed under the LTO management information system so that the owners will be compelled to settle their fines and penalties before the removal of the alarm and for the owner to be allowed to renew the vehicle’s registration.
    The LTO-CAR regional director said the LTO management information system is part of ongoing reforms being introduced by the agency towards implementation of the no-contact policy in the apprehension of violators of land transportation and traffic laws, rules and regulations ensure the safe travel of motorists on all roads in the country.


LTO online transaction to curb corruption in Cordi

Enforcers start use of body cams in ops 

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – The Land Transportation Office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (LTO-CAR) is implementing online transaction to address corruption, including the issue of “fixers” and possible collusion with office personnel.
    Francis Rae Almora, regional director of LTO-CAR said last week online transaction, the LTO is doing nationwide "removes the possible participation of middlemen offering services for processing of documents”.
    Vehicle registration, driver’s license application or renewal, and settling a traffic rule violation are now done online, according to a hand-out provided by LTO.
    Almora said it is the government’s initiative to provide the public ease in transacting with LTO without physically queueing in long lines at its offices. He said the only time a client needs to visit the office is when the agency needs to get their biometrics.
    “There is no way a fixer can process a transaction for another person considering that the account of the person is specific and can only be used by the client,” he said.
    The director said the online account of an LTO client requires an email address, which will receive a reminder from the agency to renew a license or a vehicle registration when due.
    For those applying or renewing a driver’s license, the officer said the requirements will be uploaded and there is no way any person can fake a document because the provider will furnish the link and code of the transaction, which assures the authenticity of the document, he said.
    This, as LTO-CAR enformers have started using body cameras to show proof of a driver’s violation, legitimizing the apprehension and the public’s protection against misbehavior of personnel.
    Almora said they have equipped their law enforcement officers who implement the land transportation laws on the national roads with body cameras.
    Aside from proof of legitimacy of the apprehension, their personnel’s manner of performing their job is also recorded, guiding the office in case of complaints from the public.
    “They wear body cameras because there are some sarcastic drivers who assert improper apprehensions especially for the seatbelt law,” he said.
    He said the office bought an initial 16 body cameras, which are used by enforcers in the region when they are on duty.
    “There are drivers who when flagged-down by enforcers for non-use of the seatbelt already use them while parking their vehicle and when the enforcers approach the vehicle, the seatbelt is already connected and argues for being illegally apprehended,” he said.
    “The body camera is a protection against sarcastic drivers and protection against accusation of illegal apprehension because the camera can record everything even before they are flagged down,” he said.
    Almora said penalty for non-use of seat belts depends on the type of vehicle and the violator -- driver or front-seat passenger.
    He said the driver of a public utility vehicle whose passenger is not using a seatbelt is penalized with P1,000, and if it is a front seat passenger who is not using a seatbelt, the driver will be charged P3,000 on the first offense--P2,000 for the driver and P1,000 for the passenger.
    He said the amount increases for repeat offenders. -- PNA 


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