CSC: LCEs can now impose disciplinary action on workers

>> Thursday, October 28, 2021


Local chief executives and heads of government offices are now given the authority to impose disciplinary action over their employees based on recent Civil Service Commission (CSC) ruling.
    This is based on 2017 rules on administrative cases in the civil service (RACCS).
    Section 9, rule 2 of the 2017 RACCS provides, “disciplining authorities of agencies and local government units shall have original concurrent jurisdiction with the Commission over their respective officials and employees.”
    Disciplining authority refers to the person of body duly authorized by law to impose the penalty provided for by law or rule.
    The role of LCEs on the new RACCS provision such that administrative complaints can be filed with the Office of the Mayor following certain procedures.
    Complaints may not necessarily be filed with the CSC. They can be filed with the Mayor’s Office with an adhoc committee to conduct investigation or the legal officer may be tasked to conduct the investigation.
    They are given the authority to issue administrative charges with corresponding sanctions, either   dismissal or suspension, depending on the circumstances.
    For national government agency heads in the provinces, disciplinary action over their employees are lodged mostly with their central office unless delegated to their regional offices. 
    Their function is limited to fact-finding investigation and their recommendations are submitted to the regional office even as government employees with administrative cases undergo agony such as emotional stress and financial cost in engaging services of a lawyer. 
    The gravity of complaints filed before the Commission is evaluated.
    If administrative complaint filed is classified as light offense, amicable settlement is recommended. In the new ruling, amicable settlement is now allowed. 


Statements on Beneco power struggle


Alfred P. Dizon

(Yours Truly would like to share some statements on the controversy regarding the power struggle at Benguet Electric Cooperative. In interest of fair play, those alluded to may e-mail us their response for publication) 
On the forceful takeover of Beneco
    Lubos nating kinokondena ang sapilitang pagtake-over sa Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) nitong Lunes, kung saan naging kasangkapan pa ang mga miyembro ng kapulisan sa panig ng puwersahang pagkamkam sa liderato ng kooperatiba.
It was reported that many consumers and employees were affected, with some Beneco employees even barred from work after they criticized the forceful takeover.
    Ang nakakagalit at kasuklam-suklam dito: Sa gitna ng pandemya, at sa panahon ng pagbangon sa katatapos lang na kalamidad, naaatim pa talaga na ipadanas sa mga nasalanta at naghihikahos ang ganitong walang pakundangang proseso para lamang mailuklok lang ang sarili sa poder.
    Where is the humanity?  Nasaan ang puso at awa?  Hindi dapat hinahayaan ang kaganiran ang mangibabaw sa bayan.
    Hangad natin ang maigting na imbestigasyon ukol sa isyung ito, at ang agarang pagtugon dito sa payapa, makatotohanan at makatarungang proseso.

Sen. Leila M. de Lima
Dispatch from Camp Crame
Gestapo-like raid on Beneco
    I am saddened and concerned with the power struggle that has enveloped the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), one of the most successful electric cooperatives in the Philippines and a respected and loved institution in the Cordillera region.
I strongly condemn the Gestapo-like raid on the Beneco head office assisted by armed police before daybreak and while Beneco linemen were busy repairing downed power infrastructure.
    Such strong-arm tactics are not the indigenous peoples' way. We do not force ourselves or our opinions on others. We seek consensus, however long the process takes. In the end, the resolution is more binding and enduring for all concerned.
I implore the parties that have initiated and enabled these damaging acts to desist and find ways within the rule of law to settle this contentious situation.
    Beneco is a well-run organization with a professional management and invested member consumer-owners (MCOs). There has so far been no showing that it is mismanaged or in financial trouble, so why the need for outside and forceful intervention?
I totally support the people of Benguet, Baguio City, and the Beneco MCOs in their fight for the beloved electric cooperative.
I have always supported the protection of consumer-owned organizations and cooperatives from unfair and unjust outside intervention, and I hope to give them stronger protection through clear laws.
     Haggiyo, Beneco!
(Sgd.) Teddy Brawner Baguilat
    Proud Cordilleran
                (Teddy B. Baguilat is former governor and congressman of Ifugao who is now a senatorial candidate – Ed)       
Again, on red-tagging amid the Beneco row
    It has come to our attention that some unscrupulous individuals, groups, pages, and apparent Facebook trolls are again spreading disinformation about Tongtongan ti Umili, its allied organizations, and other concerned member-consumer-owners (MCOs) for its support to the Benguet Electric Cooperative.
    These are the usual red-tagging posts which we have faced in the past because of our unstifled efforts to raise the issues of the umili and fight for our rights and welfare. To make matters worse, a concerned MCO and one of the more active voice in this issue, Ms. Mia Magdalena Fokno, was falsely and maliciously tagged by the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) in their police journal as a communist-front organization (CFO) personality, similar to what they did to a journalist in recent past. 
    We strongly denounce these incidents of red-tagging. Already, we have filed complaints to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and lodged cases in court to battle this kind of disinformation.
    We wish to reiterate that we will exhaust all legal remedies to hold accountable those who we have identified to be party to the spreading of these malicious claims such as red-tagging and terrorist-tagging.
    Kakailian, saan tayo agpaapekto iti pammadakes ken panangdadael nga araramiden da. Saan tayon a mamati iti ikakasta da a red-tagging. Namin-mano nga beses dan inred-tag ti organisasyon tayo ngem adda tayo met latta, sibibiag, ken situtured nga ilablaban ti karbengan tayo ken pagsayaatan tayo. Napaneknekan tayo metlaeng babaen iti CHR ken dagiti desisyon ti korte nga madi ken awan pulos ti kinapudno dagiti iwarwaragawag da a red-tagging*. 
    Ti aktibismo ket saan a terorismo. Sino aya ti adda palpaltog kas kada dadakkel nga armas da idiay Beneco? Saan a datayo.
    Para kadagiti red-taggers: we are noting your names and gathering evidences. Persist in spreading these falsities and maliciousness, then we will see you in court. 
    As for the police, we challenge them to stand with the wider member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of the cooperative. We ask that you not become tools of terror, like what the camp of Ms. Rafael and NEA made you be on the morning of October 18. We challenge you to be true to your mandate in protecting the people, not sow fear, and stop spreading malicious lies.
    This is no longer an issue of who is left and who is right. This Beneco issue cuts through political colors. This concerns the welfare of the umili of Baguio and Benguet. Let us focus on this and other important issues. Let us continue to unite, collectively stand up for what is right, work for justice, and ending tyranny.
    Court decisions say red-tagging is wrong and punishable by law.

Jeoffrey Larua, Secretary-General
Tongtongan ti Umili
Cordillera Peoples Alliance

(Tongtongan ti Umili is a people’s forum in Baguio City, a network of progressive peoples' organizations in the city advocating people’s rights and welfare. Tongtongan is the local chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in Metro Baguio.) 


The mysterious Havana Syndrome


Perry Diaz
FIVE YEARS and some 200 victims later, a mysterious malady that often starts with a sound -- described as "buzzing," "grinding metal" and "piercing squeals" -- had spread around the world.
    The first cases were CIA spies, who kept the attacks secret for a while.  But eventually word got out and it spread like wildfire.  In late 2016, twenty-six personnel and family members reported a wide variety of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, hearing and vision loss, severe and debilitating cognitive impairment, tinnitus, brain fog, vertigo, and loss of motor control.  It affected the lives of diplomats, spies, Defense and National Security personnel working in US embassies around the world and at home.  It has come to be known as the “Havana Syndrome” since it first occurred at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba. 
    The victims complained of being bombarded by waves of pressure in their heads. Some described the noise as an immense swarm of cicadas filling their heads. Others characterized the effects as a wall of sound.  Recently, it occurred at the White House victimizing two National Safety Council staffers. One said that when the attack occurred, he felt “as if I was going to die.”
Act of war
Doctors, scientists, intelligence agents and government officials have all been trying to find out what causes "Havana Syndrome," which originally had struck diplomats and spies in Havana; hence, the term “Havana Syndrome.”  Some call it an act of war, others wonder if it is some new and secret form of surveillance.  And some people believe it could be all in the mind, which of course is ridiculous considering the extent of the attacks in various cities around the world.
    But for lack of solid evidence as to its origin, the Havana Syndrome had been downplayed by government officials who call it “anomalous health incidents.” But the major media outlets label them as “attacks,” as well as top officials, albeit privately, for fear of antagonizing geopolitical rivals without proof.  Holy mackerel!  Isn’t the multitude of cases enough to prove that Havana Syndrome exists?  Is it because doing so would point fingers at the Russians – or the Chinese -- as the source that triggers the Havana Syndrome attacks?
Microwave energy weapons
Two reports emerged from the studies conducted on Havana Syndrome.  One report concluded that there were four plausible attack vectors on US officials: directed energy weapons, chemicals, infectious agents, and psychological and social factors.  However, they are deemed speculative since they lack scientific evidence with the exception of “directed energy weapons,” which is supported by several officials, particularly CIA Director Williams Burns who emphasized the “very strong possibility” that Havana Syndrome was the result of intentional attacks.  
    Could he be referring to “microwave energy weapons,” which Russia and China have been involved in their long term directed energy weapon research and development?  Incidentally, the Russians have developed portable microwave energy weapons that can fit into a van or SUV with a range of 500 to 1,000 yards, which can be conveniently parked in front of a US embassy anywhere in the world and hit the target at close range.
    But due to lack of concrete evidence, neither the directed energy weapon theory nor any proposed alternatives can be proven or disproven, which leaves those suffering from Havana Syndrome living in misery.
    A bipartisan group of senators is urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take immediate action to the widespread occurrence of Havana Syndrome.  They called the phenomenon “a significant, unmitigated threat to our national security.”
    They called on Blinken to “immediately” appoint a senior-level official to replace someone who was inattentive to the plight of the victims.  What’s the matter with Blinken? 
Consequently, President Biden signed into law a bill – known as the HAVANA (Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks) Act -- passed unanimously by both houses of Congress that would boost financial support for victims who have suffered brain injuries while working for the CIA or State Department.
    Meanwhile, uncovering the truth has become a top US national security priority, which one official described as the most difficult intelligence challenge they have ever faced.  And because of geopolitical concerns, hard evidence has been elusive, making the Havana Syndrome a battleground for competing theories.  But microwave energy weapons have emerged as the likely culprit.  First of all, it’s invisible, silent, and portable, which can be moved anywhere. 
It all began in 2015 when the US and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations.  With its newly opened embassy, the US had started collecting intelligence and pushing back against Russian and Chinese spies.  Cuba became the new geopolitical battleground.
    It was then that the sounds began.
    While the US is cautious not to accuse the Russians and Chinese of the microwave energy weapon attacks, these attacks began in Moscow in 1953, sixty-eight years ago!  And the Russians privately admitted this, and justified it because they were simply jamming listening devices on the US embassy’s roof, as reported by the New York Times some 45 years ago: “The Russians have privately admitted to using microwaves, to counter the array of listening devices on the [US embassy’s] roof.”   Some people think they use microwaves to activate their own surveillance devices hidden in the embassy.
    But that was during the Soviet communist era and today there is a new sheriff in Moscow disguised as a peaceful world leader.  But make no mistake, once a communist, always a communist.   So nothing much has changed between the US and Russia, which remains a totalitarian society today.  They’re still geopolitical rivals, distrustful of each other.
    The July 16, 2021 issue of The New Yorker, said: “Many American officials suspect that Russian operators and technology are responsible for the [Havana] syndrome, but quoted a senior Biden administration official as saying, ‘We have not yet determined intent or motive. We do not have a view on that yet.’”  It also revealed that since Biden was elected president, the attacks have largely shifted to Vienna, with some two-dozen directed against American officials.  In my opinion, I believe Biden should call the Havana Syndrome the greatest geopolitical issue in the world today.  An attack on a US embassy is an attack on US sovereignty. 
    And this brings the Havana Syndrome to the forefront of US-Russia geopolitical rivalry.  I believe that President Biden should make it a high priority foreign relations issue.  He must act now!


Martial law at South Drive


David March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- While Baguio and Benguet were still reeling from typhoon Maring’s wrath amid the Covid-19 pandemic, some 50 police personnel in battle gear but with no nameplates forcibly entered the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) building at South Drive. The manner of entry was uncalled for as this was done in the style of what can be described as “magnanakaw sa gabi” (thief in the night).
    The very early dawn intrusion into the Beneco building by the National Electrification Commission (NEA) Project Supervisor Omar Mayo, Atty. Ana Marie Rafael-Bana-ag and policemen from Camp Dangwa at around 2:40 a.m. on Oct. 18 resulted to widespread condemnation from Baguio and Benguet communities.
    Beneco president Atty. Esteban Somngi, along with other board of directors said that what the police did was illegal as they had no legal papers to present, no court order, no search warrant. Doubly illegal at that because the police claimed they were there to carry out an order issued by NEA. If so, all the more that it should be enforced during office hours, not at dawn, and not by 50 policemen in battle gear and no nameplates.
    Beneco GM Engr. Mel Licoben confirmed that the police who entered the compound carried long firearms, barricaded the entrances, took the recorder of the CCTV system and damaged a glass door. Car keys of Beneco motor vehicles were missing and the Data Control and Acquisition System was altered.
    The actions of the police under the nose of a NEA official is reminiscent of Martial Law in the mid-70s and a time during the early 80s when unidentified men in uniform were used to enforce questionable orders from questionable individuals. Others called it “sabotage”.
    Naturally, the Beneco workers on duty during wee hours were frightened and left their stations upon seeing the policemen force their way into the offices in combat attire and long firearms. The intruders should have their day in court.
    In the hours that followed, the police barred employees from entering their offices in the Beneco building while other workers were afraid to report for work after watching the video footages of how police barged into the building.
    Condemnation of the latest forcible entry into the Beneco facilities was widespread. Upon learning about the incident, the Philreca and APEC, members of the power bloc in congress, along with other partylist groups immediately wrote to DILG Sec. Eduardo M. Año and PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar informing them that armed policemen forced their way into the Beneco premises.
    The congressmen said the Beneco compound was treated like a military camp, policemen prevented workers from entering and police outposts along South Drive stopped motorists and cars were inspected.
    In a separate statement, the power bloc group in congress “condemned the unlawful acts and anti-MCO intentions of Marie Rafael-Bana-ag, project supervisor Omar Mayo and NEA-BOA alternate chair and now NEA Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza,” asserting further that NEA has no power to take over the management of Beneco unless they can prove that it is an ailing cooperative.
    In his press conference, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong described Beneco as a “gold standard” electric coop and asked Malacanang Exec. Sec. Salvador Medialdea in his message “why is it being fixed when it is not broken,” telling him further that the MCOs of Beneco will continue to fight because it is the right thing to do.  
    At the same time the mayor reiterated his trust and confidence in GM Licoben’s leadership, describing the latter as competent, excellent leader, has the experience and managerial skills to run an electric company.
    He condemned the incident as it disrupted activities in the city and in Benguet at a time when these areas were reeling from the wrath of typhoon Maring such as the unstable electric power, search and rescue for typhoon victims, repair of damaged infrastructure amid the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
    The mayor’s office has been receiving power failure complaints at that time. Mayor Magalong hoped Atty. Rafael-Bana-ag’s group could normalize operations but they were unable to do so, considering that they really do not have the capability to run an electric company.
    The mayor said, member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of Beneco can resolve this issue maturely and professionally, and can show to the NEA that people here are educated and do not resort to violence.  
    “Everytime we are faced with a situation, we resolve things peacefully, and that is the character of people from Baguio and Benguet,” mayor Magalong told the MCOs. True, the MCOs today support the leadership of GM Licoben.
    But in contrast, I also remember that prior to Beneco’s modernization, there were instances when certain directors of the board placed their own electric cooperative in shameful status. There was a time in the 80s when a Beneco truck that was used to transport illegally sawn Pine lumber was apprehended by the police and the DENR.
    For those of you who have been with Beneco for the longest time, you should know the story. Of course, you know who that person was. Maybe his shadow is still with Beneco today. Well, that is another story to tell.
    Earlier said, the manner of intrusion into the Beneco compound was uncalled for as this was done in the style of “magnanakaw sa gabi” (thief in the night). To say that the style was “akyat-bahay” is a kinder phrase.  
Officials from Baguio City and Benguet immediately expressed concern and dismay over the incident last week. In Benguet, provincial board members filed six resolutions, one of which is the declaration of Atty. Rafael-Bana-ag as persona non grata in Benguet. It was authored by Atty. Juan Nazarro, Jr.
    Atty. Mayo insisted that Rafael-Banaag had long assumed as general manager. He has to read back the rules. She was not confirmed by the Beneco board because she is not qualified. Government officers cannot be appointed GM in ECs. Their appointee was clearly a Presidential Communications Operations Office assistant secretary.


Baguio gov’t thanks typhoon responders


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government thanked all groups and individuals in public and private sectors who took part in disaster response efforts during the onslaught of typhoon "Maring" last Oct. 11 and 12.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong took time to express his personal gratitude to those who gave assistance said the city will schedule a program to formally thank all those "who took initiatives to resolve critical situations and help the City" in those crucial moments.
    "We cannot allow these noble efforts to just simply pass unnoticed," he said.
    He said apart from those who openly assisted, there may be other civic groups and individuals who anonymously came up with their own initiatives to help those in distress at that time. 
    "Please know how grateful we are to all of you," he said.
    City Administrator said the support of both the public and private sectors was overwhelming starting from the planning up to the execution.
    The mayor said the sense of volunteerism was uplifting although he admitted that there are some things left to be desired in the city's disaster preparations.
    The city officials acknowledged the following:
    City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, City Engineering Office, City Buildings and Architecture Office, City Social Welfare and Development Office, City Environment and Parks Management Office, Emergency Medical Service-City Health Services Office, Public Order and Safety Division, Philippine National Police Cordillera, Baguio City Police Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Tactical Operations Group 1 Philippine Air Force, 1401st (Bnt), 14th (CAR), Regional Community Defense Group (RCDG), Army Reserve Command, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy Reservists,  21st Air Force Reserve Group, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 15, Bureau of Fire Protection regional and city offices, Dept. of Public Works and Highways and the Baguio City District Engineering Office, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Barangay DRRMC of Dominican, Dagsian and all barangays, Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc. (BENECO), Baguio Water District, water stations Aqua Trans, Dipasupil and BIP, Sunshine Fire Brigade, Disaster Response and Emergency Services (DISTRESS) Team, Good Taste, Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) local chapter, criminology student volunteers  and other unnamed groups and individuals including donors who sent help to the victims (list to be announced later).
The city government reiterated the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-recommended guidelines on the disposal of personal protection equipment like face masks and face shields to protect the health of the public and prevent a repeat of the typhoon “Maring” experience where wastes mostly strewn PPEs clogged drainage inlets and caused flooding at the central business district.
    PPEs are considered toxic wastes and therefore should not be discarded anywhere or mixed with other household garbage especially the recyclable ones to avoid contamination, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said.
    Moreover, he said proper disposal of these wastes would have prevented the typhoon incident where responders found clumps of wastes mostly face shields covered waterway inlets resulting to the accumulation of rainwater along streets including Harrison Road.
    The typhoon may have unleashed abnormal volume of rainfall but flooding could have been avoided if the drainage had remained unobstructed, the mayor said.
    City General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan said the DENR had recommended color coding for receptacles to be used for PPE discards particularly yellow colored containers or bags to alert those handling the wastes.
    Buyucan however said they can allow other colors of receptacles but these have to be labeled as “PPEs” or “used face masks” to inform and warn garbage collectors.
    He said people should take to heart reminders for proper disposal of these wastes because ignoring or neglecting these advisories might lead to compromising their own health or that of their own family members.
“It’s for our own good so please let us abide.  Throw your wastes property,” he said.


Cruising in these tricky times


Fr. Roy Cimagala

IN the Gospel, there is a part where Christ laments about people seemingly knowing a lot of things and yet failing to read the signs of the times and, thus, failing to make proper judgments and unprepared to meet our Creator. (cfr. Lk 12,54-59) “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” he asked.
        With this lamentation, Christ is actually asking us to learn how to properly read the signs of the times or how things are going in general, so that we can become men and women of good judgment and direct ourselves to our proper end, which is none other than to be with God in heaven for all eternity, as he wants us to be.
          Obviously, to be able to properly read the signs of the times is no easy task, especially these days. Given the multiplying forces and influences that go into our current culture, reading the signs of the times has become a formidable task that approaches the level of a nightmare.
          And precisely because of our complex, intricate and puzzling world, this task has become more necessary. We need to stay away from the grip of ignorance, confusion, error, the ingredients of perdition.
          Still, not everything is lost and beyond hope. The amount of information, given our ever-developing technologies, is not only massive and profound but is also much easier to access now.
          Besides, we are never lacking of people with great potentials to effectively undertake this delicate task. We just need to discover them and seek their help.
          What we need at present is the discipline to have an abiding concern to read the signs of the times. This is no simple thing, since it’s not just a matter of attitude, habits and skills, though they figure prominently in this task.
          Yes, we need to learn how to collect data, compare notes, dialogue with different parties, consult experts, study, reflect, make conclusions and plan, etc., but all these are not enough.
          Rather, this discipline in the end depends on our living contact and relationship with what we consider as our God, what we regard as our ultimate source of light and understanding.
          Only then can we truly become men and women of sound judgment. There is obviously a theoretical and practical side to this affair. For one, we need to study the moral principles and the doctrine of our faith as thoroughly as possible. We should aim at nothing less than becoming masters and experts in this field, since these principles and doctrine are indispensable. We should not have second thoughts on this.
          We have to realize that this study should be an ongoing and continuing concern, ever deepening and refining our understanding of these principles and doctrine, such that we can distinguish the nuances and fine points, and that they become part of our mentality.
          Together with study and meditation, we need to grow in the virtues and to avail of the sacraments that keep us in the state of grace. We should not be theoretical and intentional only.
                We have to incarnate and express outwardly the things that we have learned in our ongoing formation.
          Let’s realize that we can only see, judge and know persons, events and things properly when we have a vibrant interior or spiritual life, a vital link not only with theories and principles, but with God himself. Email:


Mammography matters and myths


Victor Romulo Gallardo Dumaguing MD

Breast cancer and its screening procedures particularly mammography have attracted worldwide concern in the last decade, as well as heated debates as to when to initiate it and how often its follow up. . Much of the confusion concerning screening mammography guidelines are the result of a controversial recommendation by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2009, in which they said “ that routine screening mammography should not begin until age 50 and should be provided every other year, rather than every year.”
    October is breast cancer awareness month your columnist is happy to share with you the highlights of the 2018 Society of Breast Cancer Imaging/American College of Radiology National Symposium. Multiple randomized controlled clinical studies show that regular screening saves lives and that 40% of the lives lost has occurred in women has decreased by about 35 % which is due largely to widespread availability of  screening mammography under age of 40. The incidence of breast cancer doubles between the ages 35 and 45 and it increases more significantly with every decade, thus age 40 is the optimal time to start screening because approximately 20% of breast cancer occurs in women under 50 years of age, usually in their 40s.
    Critics of early mammography screening claim that the “harm” caused by the results of the screening outweighs its benefits citing the so-called “false positives and over diagnosis.” False positive is when a test says a woman has cancer and in reality, she doesn’t. When a woman is called back from screening for additional test, it does not mean false positive, but an “incomplete not positive result.”
    Others cite the anxiety of being called back for an abnormal mammography result. Many studies as well as experiences of oncologists-cancer specialists- have shown that majority of women would gladly endure a few days of anxiety- the time between the screening mammogram and the problem-solving diagnostic follow up- to find breast cancer at its early stage.
    There is also the myth that women with dense breast tissue do not benefit from mammography. While it is true that routine mammography is less sensitive in dense tissue, it still picks up most breast cancers. However, nowadays, with 3-D mammography, more cancers are discovered early in women with dense and even with very dense breast tissues.
    The American Cancer Society’s position on mammography screening, published on October 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says mortality (death rates) from breast cancer increases when screening occurs every other year instead of every year.
    Dr. Brett Parkinson, managing director for international HealthCare and medical director of the Intermountain Medical Breast Care Center, Salt Lake City Utah adds, “here’s hoping that the latest evidence helps women make well-informed, judicious decisions.”
    Early detection is the best prevention of breast cancer. In general, there is probably high risk in a woman who has first degree relative- mother, sister, daughter- who had breast cancer.  The latest recommendation is for women aged 45-54 to have mammography every year and for women aged 55 and older to have it done every 2 years. Clinical experience has shown that postmenopausal women have their breast cancer growing slower hence, the every two years interval.
    The newest diagnostic test is TOMOsynthesis or the so-called 3-D mammography, as contrasted from the conventional 2-D mammography commonly-used. It provides views of the breast in one millimeter slices, thus giving it a high degree of sensitivity and specificity
    Take home message from the experts. Breast cancer is not a death sentence. With early detection, a woman can enjoy a fulfilling happy healthy life.
    Next Week; Effects of RED MEATS on Health




By Klaus Döring

Words can hurt. Words are powerful. They can make or break a person. Whispering words of wisdom can empower, encourage, uplift and help move someone forward. Choose kind words to heal one's spirit.
    Face it again: your words can hurt someone more than you intended too and therefore it is important that you take a moment to think before you speak, no matter your mood. Words are expensive; once they are said they cannot be taken back. Choose your words wisely or else it can become costly to you. Don't wonder. There is a reason, I repeat my words here.
    There comes a point where it all becomes too much. When we get too tired to fight anymore. So we give up. That's when the real work begins....!
     True words may be bitter. But no matter what words say. Actions always reveal the truth.
     Your words must match your actions in this world. What you put out is what you'll receive. Only you know if your words match you, the real you. Not what any version you want the world to see, but the acts you do when no one is watching you.     That's living an authentic life.
    Words won't always work. So always express your feelings more in action than words. Words fade. Memories linger.
  Our words are very powerful, always make sure that you use the right words, which encourages people instead of discouraging. 
    Well, sometimes words are really not enough. You can believe all the right things, yet still be dead wrong. 
    Where there is life, there is motion. Some antelopes, as well as the cheetah, can spring faster than speeding cars. Bighorn sheep, charging one another headfirst, collide with such force that the sound echoes like a gunshot through mountain ranges.     Migrating birds battle winds for 1,000 Miles, nonstop, before dropping back to earth.
    Sometimes, we keep relics of life: a fragile,perfect seashell, an exoctiv butterfly mounted on a pin. But these are mere memories: life has gone from them, and with it motion.
    Someone around us has left us and the world.  We are shocked. We can't find the right words.
    Some close to us have an incurable disease. We can't find the right words.
    Someone with us tells us, he or she is happily married. We can't find the right words.
    Someone got an amazing job abroad, we really can't find the right words.
    Well, is there something wrong with us?
    Authors of the bible often look to nature for analogies to express spiritual truth. The book of James, controversial because of its emphasis on "good work", is perhaps best understood through the analogy of motion, in the spiritual realm also, where there's life there will be a motion. 
     Movement does not cause life, but it does invariably follow life. It's a sure sign that life is present. . Similarly, genuine faith in Christ should always result in actions that demonstrate the faith.
    Straight to the point: be humble.
    Email: or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my or .


Comelec grants petition of Independent Benguet Party

>> Sunday, October 24, 2021

By March L. Fianza

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The Commission on Elections last week finally granted the petition for registration of the Independent Benguet Party (IBP) as a local political party in the province of Benguet.
    Socorro B. Inting, the presiding commissioner of the Comelec Second Division and Antonio T. Kho Jr. a member of the same division signed the resolution under SPP 21-211 on Oct.19, 2021; one day after its promulgation by members of the Commission.
    The resolution was received by Itogon Mayor Atty. Victorio T. Palangdan, the president of IBP and the lead petitioner for registration of the organization as a local political party, on the same date of issuance by the Comelec Second Division.
    Mayor Palangdan who filed the petition for registration on April 16, 2021 averred that the organization was created purposely to “raise and develop homegrown leaders duly supported by the local electorate of the province by means of electing them into office.”
    The IBP was organized on March 15, 2021 in Adaoay, Kabayan, Benguet by several personalities from the private and government sector who, on the same date elected their officers.
    As of this writing, the new political party claims to have at least 30,000 members who are willing to support the goals and intentions of the organization.
    Palangdan who is on his last term as local chief executive of Itogon filed his certificate of candidacy for congressman of Benguet.
    Former Benguet Gov. Crecensio Pacalso also filed for the same position along with lawyers Thorrsson Keith and Samson Paran, and Benguet district caretaker Rep. Eric Yap of Davao.  


Ex-Cordi cop head, 4, eyed next PNP chief

With less than a month before Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar retires, at least five senior police officials have cropped up as his possible successor and one of them is a former police director of Cordillera who hails from Abra -- deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson.
    Eleazar, President Duterte’s sixth PNP chief, will end his tour of duty when he retires on Nov. 13.
    Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said he would submit to Duterte a short list of recommended successors to the PNP’s top post by the last week of October.
    Año told reporters seniority, merit and service reputation are the qualifications for inclusion in the list.
    If the rule of succession is followed, two of the possible contenders are Eleazar’s classmates in the Philippine Military     Academy (PMA)’s Class of 1987: PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Joselito Vera Cruz and Dickson.
    Another contender is Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, a member of PMA Class 1988.    
    He is the current No. 4 official in the PNP as the chief of the directorial staff.
    The two other possible contenders are Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., the director of the National Capital Region Police Office and Central Luzon police director Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon.
    Vera Cruz and Dickson have been helping Eleazar manage the affairs of the PNP in the past five months. The two are set to retire on March 8 and March 27, 2022, respectively.
    Vera Cruz is also the commander of the PNP’s Administrative Support for Covid-19 Task Force, which deals with administrative matters for police frontliners.
    Dickson heads the PNP’s Joint Task Force Covid Shield, the enforcement arm of the national government in the implementation of quarantine rules and health protocols.
    Carlos previously headed the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations – Visayas. He also used to head the Directorate for Police Community Relations and Highway Patrol Group and once served the PNP as its spokesman. He will retire on May 8, 2022.
    Danao, a member of PMA Class 1991, is known to be among Duterte’s trusted police officers, having served as police chief of the President’s hometown of Davao City. He will retire on Aug. 10, 2023.
    Danao, who previously headed the Calabarzon police and the Manila Police District, is known for being strict when it comes to imposing discipline on erring police personnel.
    De Leon, had stints as Central Visayas police chief and director of the Firearms and Explosives Office. A member of PMA Class 1989, he will retire on May 7, 2023.
    He also served as officer-in-charge of the Davao City police. He is known as a friend of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. 


10 Mt Prov barangays: Stop armed hostilities

BONTOC, Mountain Province—Ten barangays in the province   recently held rallies in their barangays calling for stop to clashes between government and rebel groups. 
    This, following gunfights between government troops and New People’s Army guerillas here in Barangay Mainit Sept. 28.
According to authorities, local folks urged the Communist Party of the Philippines- NPA– National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to leave their barangays
    Barangays included Dalican, Guinaang, and Mainit of Bontoc; Balintaugan of Bauko; Ankileng and Aguid, Bangaan, Fidelisan, Pide, and Madongo of Sagada.
    Local folks reportedly called for a stop to recruitment of minors and indigenous people in their communities to the CPP-NPA.
    These barangays were previously influenced by the CPP-NPA and   recently declared cleared of communist groups by government’s Task Force ELCAC.
    Government authorities said they would run after CPP-NPA elements in the Cordillera like Mountain Province but rebel groups said they will fight it out as injustices are being committed against the people under the present administration.


Vaxxed tourists may soon enter summer capital

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – The city government is set to open its borders to tourists and non-essential travelers as Covid-19 cases here continue to drop.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong, said Tuesday there will be an easing of restrictions. "Hopefully, baka next week pwede na natin payagan (probably next week we might start to allow) non-essential travels but only for the fully-vaccinated,” he said.
    He said they first need to assure that the decrease in cases will continue before they finally decide to allow fully vaccinated tourists to visit the city again and enjoy its natural attractions.
    “Kailangan muna na siguraduhin na (we need to ensure that) cases will continue to go down. Ayaw natin makita na magkakaroon na naman ng (we do not want to see that there is a) sudden increase, we might open up too early and it will create a saddle, ayaw natin mangyari yan (we do not want that to happen)” he said.
    He said they also need to maintain the decline to give some respite to the health workers.
    “We want to give them slack and be able to rest. The hospital situation is also improving,” the mayor said.
    Based on the Dept. of Health’s hospital care utilization rate data on Oct. 18, the city recorded an 82.34 percent bed utilization rate, and 73.21 percent mechanical ventilator utilization rate.
    The DOH also recorded 98 new cases and 310 recoveries in the city on Monday that further brought the active cases to 1,559.
    On Oct. 3, the city had 4,778 cases with hundreds of new cases being recorded daily since September.
    “If you remember last week I projected that this week, we will see a decrease, and it will continue to go down,” he said.
    The mayor added that the city-managed Temporary Treatment Facilities (TTMF) have also been recording below 50 percent occupancy rate.
    Baguio’s several TTMF has about a thousand beds catering to asymptomatic patients.
    The mayor attributed the decrease in Covid-19 cases to the community’s cooperation and compliance to health and safety protocols, the cooperation of local governments that compose the LISTT (La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) to control mobility, and the introduction of additional measures under the heightened general community quarantine classification which included the prohibition of minors and elderly above 65 years old to go out for non-essential reasons, and the restriction on the entry of non-essential travelers to the city.
    The mayor said that in case the city opts to open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists, documentation will continue to be required. 
    The DOH said hospital care utilization rate in the city went down to 82.34 percent while mechanical ventilator utilization rate was at 73.2 percent as of Monday.
    Magalong said temporary treatment facilities recorded an occupancy rate of below 50 percent.
    The DOH logged 98 new cases on the same day, bringing the active infections to 1,559.
Magalong said active cases rose to nearly 5,000 on Oct. 3.
    Magalong attributed the decrease in Covid-19 cases to compliance with health and safety protocols, cooperation of local government units in La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay towns to limit mobility aside from stricter quarantine measures.


Abra mayor’s victory in 2019 polls upheld

LAGANGILANG, Abra -- The Supreme Court has upheld  the victory in the 2019 elections of the municipal mayor here whose certificate of candidacy (COC) was canceled by the Commission on Elections.
    The high tribunal said the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it canceled the COC of Mayor Rovelyn Villamor based on her citizenship.
    It said Villamor was able to reacquire her Filipino citizenship, which made her eligible to run for mayor.
In a two-page statement released recently, the SC said it dismissed the electoral protest filed by Villamor’s political opponent, Antonio Viernes, and annulled a Comelec resolution favoring the petitioner.
    Viernes earlier asked the Comelec to cancel Villamor’s COC, citing her being an American citizen.
    In her reply, Villamor said that before she filed her COC, she had complied with the requirement for the reacquisition of her Filipino citizenship as provided under Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003.
    The high court said Villamor showed sufficient proof to support her claims.


Baguio cemeteries closed for ‘Undas’

By Liza Agoot  

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has ordered closure of cemeteries here from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3 and gave schedules when residents can visit their departed family members as a measure to prevent crowding in observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
    Executive order 124, signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, said, "schedule of visits by immediate family members to their dearly departed shall be by district."
    The order also set the dates when residents may be allowed to visit the cemetery by dividing the 20 districts composed of 128 barangays into different days, with two or three districts allowed each day starting Oct. 4 to Nov. 30 except on the days that were declared closed by the city government.
    "We are trying to avoid people from crowding at the cemeteries that is why we have set schedules so that they will not come at the same time," Magalong said in a media interview on Friday.
    Aside from the public cemetery along Naguilian Road, there are several other private cemeteries and memorial parks that cater not only to city residents but also those from the towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (LISTT).
    The order also allotted six days schedule for LISTT residents that will allow them entry into the cemetery during the two-month duration.
    Magalong also reminded cemetery goers of the strict observance of the minimum public health and safety protocols while inside the cemetery.
    In entering the cemetery, individuals are required to accomplish the health declaration forms and have their temperature checked.
    The order also prohibits individuals who manifest flu-like symptoms from going to the cemetery.
    The age restrictions prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will also be applied where children and senior citizens over 65 years old are not allowed.
    The usual prohibitions like bringing in intoxicating drinks, gambling, and playing loud music are in effect. -- PNA  


DOH: 414,875 folks fully vaccinated in Cordillera

BAGUIO CITY-- A total of 869,998 Covid – 19 vaccine doses has been administered in the Cordillera region with 414,875 eligible population already fully vaccinated while 455,123 received their first dose.
    Dept. of Health Center for Health and Development – Cordillera Assistant Regional Director Dr. Amelita Pangilinan reported this during media forum here last week.
    Pangilinan said under the National Vaccination Operations Center’s directive, the target is to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the eligible population in the country until the end of the year.
    For Cordillera, the target is 1,110,844 adult population, and so far, the region has already reached 38.51% for first dose - vaccinated individuals and 35.11% for fully vaccinated population.
    In terms of fully vaccinated individuals per geographical area, Baguio City has the most number with 162,384, followed by Benguet with 71,817, Kalinga with 49,919, Abra with 46,040, Apayao with 31,325, Ifugao with 28,713 and Mountain Province with 24,677.
    To reach the target population, Pangilinan said NVOC advised the rollout of vaccination of the Rest of the Adult Population (ROAP) or those 18 years old individuals that are formerly bracketed in the group B and C.
    Pangilinan reminded the prioritization of A1 to A5 group especially the frontline health workers, the senior citizens and adults with co-morbidities, as well as the inclusion of teachers and non – teaching personnel in all educational institutions, both public and private, to the priority A4 or essential workers.
    Pangilinan urged the public   not be complacent with the relatively lower national daily cases reported, instead continue protecting themselves and their families by following the minimum public health standards and get vaccinated for free when they are eligible.
    “Vaccinated or not, let us not forget to properly wear our face mask, including our face shield in 3Cs, also known as the closed, crowded, close-contact settings. Let us continue to observe physical distancing and proper handwashing to curb the transmission of Covid-19,” she said. -- JDP/CCD-PIA CAR


La Trinidad mayor: Enough funds for Covid-19 program

By Liza Agoot  

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Mayor Romeo Salda said the local government here can still manage finances required in managing the Covid-19 pandemic until the end of the year.
    Salda, in an interview Thursday, said the Office of Civil Defense Cordillera transmitted P1 million that will cover four months rental of the Concordia College on Longlong Road, which was converted as a temporary treatment and monitoring facility (TTMF) for mild and asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients.
    Salda said all savings for 2021 worth some P70 million, as well as the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) fund, have been allocated for Covid-19 response.
    Among the major expenditures of the local government unit for Covid response include food for those at the TTMF, salaries for the job order employees like nurses, doctors, medical personnel, and contact tracers aside from security guards assigned at the facilities.
    Salda said they just hired 20 nurses, two doctors, and security guards for the municipality-owned Strawberry Hotel and the Senior Citizens Center which have both been converted as TTMF for mild and asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients.
    He said they are just completing the beddings of the new facility at Longlong gymnasium that can accommodate 45 patients.
    “We still have a lot of positive patients and we are catering to the mild and asymptomatic so that we can help decongest the hospital and prioritize their effort to manage the severe and critical cases,” he said.
    He said the purchase of vitamins for the frontline workers is also being managed.
    The mayor said the municipality had earlier allocated PHP10 million for the purchase of vaccines but found out that municipalities are not among the entities allowed to enter into a tripartite agreement with the national government and a private supplier.
    “We have asked the provincial government to help us by collating other municipalities who have allocated funds for vaccine purchase but in case we will not be able to use it because there are now several supplies coming in from the national government, we can reallocate it next year or realign for other purposes about Covid-19 response,” Salda said.
    At present, he said around 31 percent of the target eligible residents have been fully vaccinated. -- PNA 


Comelec: Many unopposed 2022 election bets in Apayao

LUNA, Apayao -- Many candidates for the May 2022 polls are running unopposed in Apayao,
    The Commission on Elections Cordillera regional office in Baguio released list of around 180 persons who filed their certificates of candidacies for political positions in Apayao. 
    Based on the list, it will be a walk in the park for many aspiring candidates. Incumbent Rep. Elias Bulut Jr. and Gov. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang will be swapping positions after spending one term in their respective offices in past three years.
    Elias filed his COC  for governor under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) while Eleanor who is under the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban  filed  for the position of  Representative  for Apayao.
    For the vice gubernatorial race, incumbent Vice Gov. Remy Albano  is  seeking reelection  for  his third term in office under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan while  Senior Board Member Myla Ballesteros will run as an independent candidate.
    For Sangguniang Panlalawigan  for  first district, candidates are  re-electionists Alison Betat, Iying Real and Philippine Councilors League President Kyle Bulut, and  new comer Vincent Talatag,  former Provincial Administrator, who will run under NPC.
    Independent candidates who also filed their COCs are Sebastian Himma and Rosario Labueng Jr.
    For the SP second district, candidates are re-electionists Emiliano Galleon, Mcleen Julian, and Elmer Molina of the PDP     Laban, Nenita Aguilar (NPC) and Elmer Canonizado, an independent candidate.    
      In municipalities, three incumbent mayors and one vice mayor are running unopposed in their bid for reelection - Pudtol Mayor Hector Reuel Pascua (PDP Laban) and Sta. Marcela Mayor Evelyn Martinez (PDP Laban), Luna Mayor Josephine Bangsil (NPC), and incumbent Calanasan Vice Mayor Shamir Bulut (Nacionalista Party).
    In the municipality of Conner, mayoralty candidates are former Mayor Leonardo Dangoy (PDP Laban) and   Jorico Bayaua (Peoples Reform Party). 
    For vice mayor, it’s a race between Aleaxander Aswigue (PRP) and Rito Soriano (PDP Laban).
    In Flora, filing their COC for mayor  are Incumbent Mayor Rodolfo Juan (PDP Laban) and incumbent Vice Mayor Jessica De San Jose (Aksyon Demokratiko).   
    Aspiring candidates for the vice mayoralty seat are Jeofrey Blas (PDP Laban), Edison Collado (Aksyon Demokratiko) and Clapton de San Jose (Liberal Party).
    In Kabugao, incumbent Mayor Bensmar Ligwang (PRP) will face former Mayor Joseph Amid (NPC)   for the mayoralty seat. The  vice mayoralty seat  will be a four –cornered fight   among Mac Paul Talimbatog(PRP), Fabulous Tucjang(NPC) and Max Basang and Angel Umingli who are independent candidates.
    For the vice mayoralty seat in Pudtol, incumbent Vice Mayor Randy Laoat (PDP Laban) will face Cleofil Collado (PRP).
Seeking reelection are Luna Vice Mayor Manolito Bullaoit and Sta Marcela  VM  Mayor Rolly Guiang(PDP Laban). Calanasan incumbent Mayor Martin Lawat (NPC) filed for vice mayor in their place.  --JDP/RMC- PIA CAR


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