Mt Prov vice mayor axed after mayor; councilor now ‘mayor’

>> Friday, February 25, 2022

Graft, corruption charges

By Alfred Dizon

NATONIN, Mountain Province – The provincial board suspended Vice Mayor Christopher Bayowan Feb. 16 for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) after it suspended Mayor Jose Agagon earlier for grave abuse of authority among other charges.
    The provincial board now recognizes Councilor Raymundo Lapasen as mayor.
    Lapasen is the top municipal councilor, having gotten most votes last elections.
    Andrew Magwilang, secretary to the Vice Governor bared these saying what complicated the case further was Agagon has sworn into office Lapasen as acting vice mayor.
    He said the provincial board was unanimous in its ruling against Bayowan but Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. did not sign the resolution.
    Magwilang said the suspension order of Bayowan was for three months.
    Municipal employees said Bayowan has not reported for office since the suspension.
    Bayowan allegedly earlier wrote Jeb Constancio, contractor of the Anastacia Saguel Memorial Hospital now under construction that he wanted to become a subcontractor of the hospital, main reason why the SP suspended him.
    He allegedly was later part of the project. 
    The provincial board had also served notice to Mayor Agagon here on Feb. 8 suspending him from performing his duties for grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming of a public official and grave misconduct.
    Bayowan has reportedly performed the duties of the mayor due to the latter’s absence during the early part of the Covid-19 epidemic last year.
    Bayawon reportedly transferred to another office by performing functions of the mayor when the SP suspended him for said charges.
    Meanwhile, Agagon denied the SP’s allegations and defied his suspension order.
    Magwilang said Agagon was still performing his duties as mayor at presstime.
    “I am still the mayor,” Agagon was quoted earlier as saying, referring to the suspension order. “The SP’s order is not final and executory.”
    He said he was contesting his order of suspension in the proper forum.
    This, after Agagon allegedly illegally dismissed from service on Oct. 1, 2021 Gina Lamfayong, municipal accountant; Nenette Marungoy, Human Resource and Management Office chief and Hazel Gawayen of the Office of the Mayor.
    This reportedly prompted the three to file a complaint with the provincial board who decided to suspend Agagon.
    The three employees also filed a case with the Regional Trial Court based in the capital town of Bontoc for a restraining order against the dismissal order of the mayor against them.
    Judge Sergio Angnganay Jr. granted a temporary restraining order in favor of the three employees who are still now holding office.
    The source said the case started when Lamfayong, Marungoy and Gawayen issued a certification last February 2021 attesting that Agagon was not attending office at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    This reportedly prompted Vice Mayor Bayowan to assume duties of the mayor.
    Agagon disputed allegations he was not attending office saying he was in Natonin at that time.
    The provincial board is headed by Vice Gov. Francis O. Tauli with members Donato L. Danglose (District 2), Janice Barillo (District 1, Joshua B. Fronda (District 1) Henry D. Bastian (District 2), Federico Onsat (District 1), Salvador K. Dalang (District 2) and Randy T. Awisan (District 2).  Board member Alexandre Claver of District 1 died recently.
Claver’s son, following his appointment by President Duterte, was sworn into office by Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan and assumed the post of his deceased father as board member.
    Lawyer Maximo Dalog Jr. is congressman of Lone District of Mountain Province.

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150 Cordillera cops with kin running in May polls transferred


CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee has ordered the transfer of some 150 police officers having relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity vying for an elective post in this year’s May 9 national and local elections.
    In a statement, Lee said the move was to help prevent allegations that police officers are campaigning actively for their relatives and intervening in their behalf.
    “Para maiwasan na rin ang speculations at pagdududa na sila ay tumutulong doon sa pangangampanya sa kanilang kamag-anak” Lee said.
    The police officers will be transferred to other areas outside cities, municipalities and provinces where their relatives would seek elective posts, he added.
    The reassignment is temporary and will last until the end of the election period or until they are instructed to go back to their previous assignments.
    Lee also reminded the 9,179 Cordillera cops to remain apolitical and vowed to hold accountable any cop who will violate this.

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‘Baguio Covid cases down but worst may not be over’


By Jessa P. Samidan

BAGUIO CITY – Covid-19 cases are going down in this capital town but the  worst may not be over.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong urged the public to not be complacent with health protocols despite the downtrend in Covid-19 cases recorded in the recent weeks.
     He said, while Baguio City and the whole country was able to tame Covid-19 omicron local transmission, medical journals predict the next may be more deadly and more contagious.\
“There is still a huge threat and this means we cannot be complacent,” Magalong said.
City Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said Baguio City listed a total of 41,242 Covid-19 cases as of Feb. 17 with 96.94 percent recovery rate equivalent to 39,979.
However, a total of 811 individuals mostly with comorbidities have died due to the virus.
The city has a total of 503 variants of concern as of Feb. 12 after the Philippine Genome Center reported 31 additional omicron cases on Feb. 11 and 36 more on Feb. 12 traced to the city.
The breakdown on variants of concern in Baguio City is as follows: 117 Alpha; 52 Beta; 222 Delta and 112 Omicron.
While the Omicron surge was controlled in 28 days, the average daily attack rate (ADAR) is still high at 28 percent which is beyond the seven cases per 100,000 individual’s threshold the government has set for high-risk classification.
 “Our goal is to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases daily to single digit with sustained implementation of minimum public health standards,” Mayor Magalong said. 

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Baguio City posts 37 suicide cases; 32 males


By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio City Health Services Office reported an increase in suicide incidents in the city in 2021 and majority of those who committed suicide were males.
    City Health Services Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said their mental health program recorded a total of 37 suicide incidents involving 32 males and 5 females.  Ages ranged from 10 to 70 and above years.
     Of the 37, four were not residents of the city.
    Nurse I Ricky Ducas, mental health responder and coordinator of the program said the 2021 number represents a 23 percent increase from that of 2020 when the city listed a total of 30 cases.  In 2019, there were 27 cases recorded.
     “The increase in our suicide cases is alarming and the upturn in male suicide mostly belonging to the young adult age group is staggering,” Ducas said.
     Ducas said young adults are among the most vulnerable to suicide as their developmental milestones on love and belonging are rooted on their peers and the community.
    The CHSO also noted rampant reports of deliberate self-harm among the youth and assessments showed links to dysfunctional family condition and exhaustion from the pandemic.
    Mental health experts explained that these are the parasuicidal type of self-directed violence where the patients’ intention was not really to take their own lives.
    Ducas said on the whole, there was an increase in the number of common mental health concerns in 2021 particularly depression, anxiety and psychosis.
    He said most of those diagnosed with said mental health problems under the CHSO’s mental health program belonged to the younger age groups followed by the working age category.
    There was also a noted increase in patients who sought professional help as compared in the previous year because people now tend to be more open about their mental health issues especially the youth but the challenge remains to be that their parents and elders tend to discount the mental health problems.
    “Minsan pumupunta ang bata na mag-isa to seek help at kapag tinanong asan ang guardian for consent, sinasabhan daw kasi ng mga parents or support system na gawa-gawa lang nila or napapanood lang nila or worst is nasabihan sila na ano dapat ikaka-depress eh binigay naman pangangailangan at nakakakain naman sila,” Ducas said.
    He said another growing concern is the fact that persons undergoing mental health issues turn to alcohol use as their coping mechanism and this poses another problem as this can lead to abuse and other health issues.
    To help address the problem, the city’s mental health program will step up its service to provide free assistance to individuals seeking consultations, basic medications and other interventions.  This is on top of the health and wellness program information-education-communication (IEC) strategies regularly conducted for the public.
    As part of the strategies on the early detection of mental disorders among individuals, the CHSO made available a helpline that could be immediately contacted by people suffering from mental disorders open from 8am to 5pm: 09190696361.
    Beyond said hours, people can reach the National Center for Mental Health 24/7 hotlines: 09178998727; 09663514518; 09086392672.
    The city’s mental program works in partnership with the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Psychiatry Department, Baguio Emergency Medical Service, Baguio City Police Office, the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development and the and the Mental Health Council. 
 

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DPWH turns over P7.9-M Covid facilities to Bontoc

ONCE AN IDLE MOUNTAIN, Sitio Am-anchu in Barangay Bontoc Ili, Bontoc, Mountain Province now houses newly-constructed Covid-19 health facilities. (Related story below) – Jovi T. Lopez 


By Alpine Killa-Malwagay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – This capital town was recipient of newly –constructed and completed Covid-19 health facilities located at Sitio Am-anchu, Barangay Bontoc Ili. 
    The P7,963,422 worth Covid-19 health facilities were turned over by the Department of Public Works and Highways- Mountain Province First District Engineering Office represented by District Engineer Januario Grande to the  Bontoc local government represented by Mayor Franklin Odsey on Feb. 15. According to Project Engineer Samuel Maskay of the DPWH-MPFDEO, the project was sourced out from the national government under the fiscal year 2021 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management fund.
    Implementation of the project was a joint undertaking of the DPWH-MPFDEO, Office of Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr., and Bontoc LGU.
    It was constructed for management, monitoring, and treatment of Covid-19 patients here.
    The proposal and planning of the project started in 2020 during the leadership of former DPWH-MPFDEO District Engineer Alexander Castaṅeda. 
    Engineer Maskay said that the project covered construction of facilities, two comfort rooms, purchase of amenities provided in every room, opening of road access and land development, and electrical wirings.
    The facilities have 20 beds capacity and a waiting area. .
    Each room has a comfortable bed, a table, a chair, and an IV stand.
    Rev. Elvie Tulingan of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) officiated the blessing and mass during the blessing and inauguration ceremony of the facilities on Feb. 15. 
    In their messages, DPWH- MPFDEO District Engineer Januario Garde, Maintenance Section chief engineer Domingo Pumecha and project engineer Maskay thanked all partner agencies and contractor Lewin Vanne General Engineering and Construction for the realization of the project despite challenges and problems encountered.  
    De Garde encouraged the Bontoc LGU and its constituents, as end-users to take good care of the facility. 
    “This building is yours. You must take good care of it. Maintain and protect it,” he said. 
    Mayor Odsey expressed his gratitude to the DPWH-MPFDEO and the Office of Rep. Dalog for a fruitful partnership.
    He also thanked the contractor for the completion of the project. 
    He said construction and completion of the Covid-19 health facility will give hospitals in Mountain Province more capacity to handle severe and critical patients and will help in solving the shortage of hospital bed capacity because of the pandemic. 
    The mayor said the facility will be used for the intended purpose, but expressed high hopes that Covid-19 cases will gradually decrease. 
    “The completion of this facility is a dream come true because of our concerted efforts. We assure you that Bontoc LGU will improve the facility and provide other needed materials or logistics to give the best service to COVID-19 patients who will be staying here,” Odsey  said.
    Lawyer Cyphrine Maxcel Dalog, chief of staff of Office of Congressman Dalog lauded the DPWH-MPFDEO, Bontoc LGU, the contractor, and other stakeholders for their efforts and sacrifices that led to the completion of the project.
Municipal Health Officer, Dr. Diga Kay Gomez in her message thanked the support of all agencies in response to the health services of the municipality. 
    Also present during the event were engineer Esther Taynec and Administrative Officer Janet Valencerina, both from DPWH-MPFDEO, MDRRM Officer Johanna Padaen, Barangay Bontoc Ili Kagawad Gerald Kalang-ad, staff from the Municipal Health Office, and personnel from the DPWH-MPFDEO.

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5 tourists nabbed in Kalinga for P2.5-M marijuana


TINGLAYAN, Kalinga -- Five tourists who visited the famous Barangay Buscalan here were arrested for transporting P2,505,360 worth of marijuana plants in a police checkpoint in Dinakan, Dangoy, Lubuagan, Kalinga  on Feb. 15.
    Reports reaching Cordillera police director Ronald O. Lee identified the arrested suspects as Mark Adrian Aguilar, 18; Andrie Punsalan, 21; Ramil L. Dela Cruz, 21; Alvin Triplett Medel, 24 and Mark Joseph Dela Pena, 23.
    A police intelligence officer reportedly spotted the five male suspects carrying bricks of suspected marijuana.
    They rode a public utility bus bound to Tabuk City.
    The cop immediately informed the 2nd Kalinga Provincial Mobile Force Company (KPMFC) based in Lubuagan to which they responded by setting up a checkpoint.
    As a result, the five individuals were apprehended.
    Confiscated from them were 17 bricks of dried marijuana leaves worth P1,803,360; additional marijuana leaves worth P657,600; marijuana in cigarette form worth P1,200 and four sachets of marijuana cookies worth P43,200.
    Inventory of seized items was conducted at site witnessed by Bernadeth Malayao, Dept. of Justice representative and kagawad Edna D. Taotao of Baranagay Dangoy.
    The suspects along with confiscated items to Lubuagan police station.
    The four suspect are now facing charges for violation of Republic 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

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63 families flee Cagayan; floods, landslides strike

CLAVERIA, Cagayan -- A total of 63 families evacuated to higher grounds on Monday as floods and landslides affected villages in this coastal town, officials said.
    Rogelio Sending Jr., Cagayan provincial information officer, said that the evacuees came from the villages of Mabnang, Union, Lablabig, Taggat Sur and Taggat Norte, all in Claveria.
    Two houses were reported to have been damaged by landslides due to incessant rains in Mabnang village.
    The families, however, were able to flee before the landslides took place.
    The provincial government has distributed 1,000 food packs and assorted supplies for the evacuees.
    As of Tuesday, the floods have subsided and roads and bridges in Kilkiling and Lablabig villages are now passable.

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National artists, poets, actors, support Leni’s presidential bid

Five National Artists led a roster of poets, actors, and other artists expressing support Feb. 14 for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo at an event aptly named “Pusuan ang Sining at Kultura; State of the HeART.”
    National Artists Ben Cab (Visual Arts), Alice Reyes (Dance), Ramon Santos and Ryan Cayabyab (Music), and Virgilio Almario, also known as Rio Alma (Literature) headlined the event held at the Miriam College Covered Courts.
    Each National Artist endorsed Robredo for President. Reyes reminded everyone that Robredo became Vice President and did her job as Vice President “against all odds”.
    “She needs us, we need her. Gawin natin lahat for the love of this country,” Reyes said.
    Rio Alma presented the Arts and Culture Kartilya (guidebook) to Robredo.
Included in the guidebook:
    ·“Pangalagaan at palaganapin ang isang kulturang mapaglaya, malikhain, at mapagbago”;
    ·“Paunlarin ang industriyang pangkultura at ang produktong Filipino”;
    ·“Palaganapin ang edukasyong demokratiko at mga programa para sa pagtaas ng literasi sa buong kapuluan”; at
    ·“Paglingkuran ang kapakanang pangkalusugan at pangkabuhayan ng mga manggagawang pangkultura.”
    In response, Robredo said: “Malaki po 'yung pagpapasalamat ko na ibinigay kayo sa bansa natin. 'Yung isinakripisyo niyo, 'yung naiambag niyo, kung tutuusin lubos lubos na pero ito kayo, handa ulit na mag-ambag pa para sa kinabukasan ng mga anak natin.”
    Robredo also gave her hundred percent commitment to the “kartilya”, mentioning that her team would already sit with the group of artists and work on “weaving” the guidelines into her program of governance should she be elected President.
    “Hindi lingid sa kaalaman namin na pag pinag-usapan 'yung sining at kultura, parang parati siyang nare-relegate in the background. Parating iniisip na hindi siya kasing importante ng iba pang mga isyu at bagay na kinakaharap,” Robredo said.
    “Kaya napakabigat ng kartilya na binasa kanina kasi doon natin mare-realize na 'yung kultura, na 'yung sining, 'yung kasaysayan, malaking malaking bahagi ng pang-araw-araw na buhay ng bawat Pilipino na kinalimutan na natin. At ito, 'yung 2022 elections, binibigyan tayo ng pagkakataon na balikan kung sino tayo bilang Pilipino, na balikan kung ano 'yung mga pinaniniwalaan natin bilang Pilipino at ito 'yun,” she added.
    The book “100 Pink Poems for Leni,” published by San Anselmo Press, was also launched and a copy was given to the Vice President.
    At the event, 10 poets also read their own original works, while nine others were read by actors.

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As May polls near: More PNC checkpoints ordered in Cordillera

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Oliver O. Lee ordered the setting up of  additional checkpoints in strategic areas of the region as the May polls near.
    “Magdadagdag kami ng checkpoints sa strategic area. Mobile po iyan at hindi po permanent” Lee said during a press conference here at Masigasig grandstand on Feb. 9.
    There are 105 fixed Comelec checkpoints in Cordillera Region with 29 checkpoints in Abra, 16 in Kalinga, 15 in Benguet, 12 in BCPO, and 11 each in Apayao and Mountain Province.
    “With instructions of regional directors on additional checkpoints, police presence and crime deterrence in Cordillera will significantly increase.
    Comelec resolution 10741 mandated establishment and operation of Comelec checkpoints, examination of violations of transporting firearms or other deadly weapons and employment and engagement of services of security personnel and bodyguards  as the May 9 elections near.
    According to records of the Regional Operations Management Division, since the start of the election period last Jan. 9, four individuals were arrested and now facing charges for violation the Comelec gun ban.
    Another two suspects were nabbed here in Barangay Lopez Jaena, two in Abra, one in Benguet, and another one in Kalinga.
    Also, one incident of a shoot-out between police officers and an armed criminal was recorded in Abra.

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Nueva Ecija guerilla yields in Cabanatuan

By Jonas Reyes

CABANATUAN CITY -- A member of the Komiteng Larangang Guerilla- Sierra Madre (KLG-SM) communist group surrendered to authorities here on Tuesday.
    In Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, Philippine Army Major General Andrew Costelo, said the rebel identified as Jearald Acampado alias “Pado,” surrendered to members of the 1PMFC, NEPPO, together with the troops from 91st Infantry Battalion led by its commanding officer LTC Reandrew Rubio.
    Reports said that the rebel is a resident of Batasan Hills in Quezon City and member of Squad Uno of4 KLG Sierra Madre.
    He was first recruited as a member of Kadamay in Batasan Hills in 2016 and lured him to join the terrorist organization.
    Witnessing how his comrades died due to illness without proper medication and burial made him decide to surrender to the authorities.
    The rebel also surrendered his Smith and Wesson Cal. 8 revolver and a hand grenade to authorities.
    Meantime, Rubio urged KLG-SM members to abandon the communist  organization and live a peaceful life.
    “This is the right time to surrender due to unwavering support from the NGA and LGU especially under the E-CLIP,” Rubio said.
    The Commander of the 703rd Infantry (AGILA) Brigade, Colonel Joseph Norwin Pasamonte lauded the courage of alias “Pado” and encouraged him to support the peace and development programs of the government and join a peaceful community.

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DA-CAR funds Baguio projects

Gaby B. Keith

BAGUIO CITY -- The Dept. of Agriculture regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region is funding several projects of the City Veterinary and Agriculture Office amounting to more than P15 million for 2022.
    This was disclosed by acting CVAO head Dr. Silardo Bested during the regular management committee meeting of city officials on Feb. 15, led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong at the Baguio Convention Center.
    Bested said the projects include the chicken multiplier breeder facility (CMBF) for P2 million, the rabbit multiplier breeder facility (RMBF) for P1 million, the solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) for P750,000, the pump irrigation system open source (Pisos) for P2 million, and the urban model farm vegetable and seedling production (UMFVSP) for P10 million.
    The CMBF will be located at the CVAO Slaughter Compound, Barangay Sto. Niño while the RMBF will be at Purok 12 Apugan, Barangay Irisan, with the Irisan Rabbit Farmers Association composed of 20 rabbit breeders as beneficiaries.
    Bested said the location for the SPIS is at Purok 2, Irisan, with 30 farmers from Purok 1, 2 and 9 as beneficiaries.
    Five units of Pisos will be installed at Barangay Sto. Tomas Central benefitting three farmers' associations while the seven units at Camp 7 will benefit two farmers' associations.
    Six units of Pisos will be installed at Barangay Happy Hollow that will benefit two farmers' associations while two units are targeted for Barangay Dontogan with a farmers' association as beneficiary.
    For the UMFVSP, one unit each is allotted for Camp 7, Happy Hollow, Irisan, Sto. Niño, Slaughter Compound, and Sto. Tomas Central that will benefit eight farmers associations and interested local residents, Bested said.

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DOH: Ilocos vaccinates 25,000 kids vs Covid-19

By John Michael Mugas

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte—The Dept. of Health in Ilocos Region vaccinated  some 25,000 children ages 5 to 11 years old during the weeklong national vaccination drive last week.
    According to the regional DOH, there were 16 vaccination sites across the region that catered to the age group.
    Over 700,000 children in the region belonging to the age group were eligible to receive the vaccine, with 469,396 kids in Pangasinan province, 102,618 in La Union, 87,860 in Ilocos Sur, 71,460 in Ilocos Norte, and 27,492 in Dagupan City, data from the DOH showed.
    In a statement, DOH Regional Director Paula Paz Sydiongco said the Pfizer vaccine used during the vaccination drive, had been granted an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
    She said that the vaccines are safe and effective and could provide the needed protection against the virus.
    On Feb. 12, the regional DOH also reported that it was the top region in the country to administer the most number of booster shots during the National Vaccination Days last Feb. 10 and 11.
    “We have administered a total of 21,361 doses out of the 160,317 targets, for a total of 13.32 percent as of Feb. 11. We will endeavor to accomplish our vaccination goals until Feb. 18 in order to provide the needed protection to our residents against the virus,” said Sydiongco.
    The regional DOH said that there were no serious adverse events during the conduct of the two-day NVD in the region.

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POSD: Use of multiple dummies in Baguio City market rampant

Personalities in possession of many stalls


By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- Daryll Longid, deputy head of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD), disclosed to the Baguio City Council last Monday that a number of personalities are in possession of numerous stalls in the public market.
    Allegedly, some of these stalls are named under dummy accounts.
    These dummies are real people used by scrupulous individuals to keep control over multiple stalls in the market.
    Longid said these stalls are being rented out or subleased at unreasonably high rental rates.
    This practice violates provisions of Baguio City’s Market Code (Tax Ordinance 2000-01).
    Section 146 of the market code states that it is illegal to manage more than one stall.
    Sections 157 and 160 of the market code state the leaseholder shall physically or personally conduct business in the stall subject of the lease and that the leaseholder shall not sell, lease, or transfer to other individuals their leasehold rights nor permit others to conduct business therein. 
    Section 161 prohibits the sub-leasing of stalls and use of dummies.
    Investigations conducted by the POSD revealed there are numerous lease violations in the public market. 
    In an interview after the council session, Longid said subleasing and other illegal forms of occupation of stalls in the market have become pervasive because they have been tolerated for too long.
    “These illegal activities must be put to a stop. The city government must address them head-on,” he stated.
    He added that, while there are some leaseholders who sublease their stalls individually, there are several personalities who do it on a large scale.
    “These personalities victimize small vendors who are left with no choice but to agree with higher rental rates that can go as high as 2,000%. For the longest time, they have made hundreds of market stalls as their milking cow where they are actually earning millions,” he explained.
    According to him, these personalities are hell-bent on discrediting the efforts of the POSD in exposing these illegal activities.
    Acknowledging the prevalence of illegal practices in the city market, the city council enacted a market amnesty program in 2021 (Ordinance 86-2021). 
    Under the ordinance, a three-month amnesty program shall be granted to concerned stall occupants and/or actual leaseholders to rectify or act on their violations. After the said period, all arising violations shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the market code.
    The actual occupant of the stall may apply for the amnesty program. If the application is approved, the leasehold rights would be transferred to them.
    The applicant shall submit an affidavit stating in detail the circumstances of the occupation with attached pertinent documents evidencing the transfer.
    The registered leaseholder is given 15 days to reply and contest the allegations of the occupant.
    After an investigation conducted by a technical working group, the Baguio City Market Authority shall adjudicate the stall either in favor of the leaseholder or the occupant.
    Longid said some occupants of these stalls being subleased expressed their intention to apply for the market amnesty.         However, they are being threatened by the personalities managing the dummy accounts.
    “These people have resorted to intimidation and disinformation. This has forced some vendors to withdraw their amnesty applications,” he said.
    He said investigations will continue and results will be submitted to the City Legal Office for their information and for the filing of cases as necessary. 
    Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said both parties (the registered leaseholder and the actual occupant) are both at equal fault.
    He said the ordinance is fair and does not favor the occupant. 
    Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said the registered leaseholder is given due process in the investigation.
    The 3-month period for the filing of application for the market amnesty ended on February 2, 2022.
    However, a resolution was passed by the city council and signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong extending the period of filing of application for two more months.
    The city council requested the City Treasury Office to submit a detailed inventory of the stalls in the city market, including the history of those with controversial claims, in aid of legislation. – With a report from Daryll Longid

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RDC, DILG to check barangay, peace projs in Cordillera Region

By Joseph Joshua C. Sibaen

BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera regional project monitoring committee (RPMC-CAR) shall join the regional Dept. of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)  and Cordillera Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in future project monitoring and inspection to ensure proper implementation of Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP). 
    This was agreed upon during the RPMC’s meeting last Feb. 8 presided by committee chair and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Cordillera regional director Susan Sumbeling.
    DILG-Cordillera Administrative Region Engineer Lorielane Ferrer presented status of SBDP projects in CAR. 
    For fiscal year 2021, the Cordillera received a total of P160 million to fund 25 projects in eight communist groups-cleared barangays in provinces of Abra (6), Kalinga (1) and Mountain Province (1).
    As of Jan. 25, of 25 projects, three projects have been completed while12 are ongoing. 
    During project monitoring led by DILG-CAR from November 2021 to January 2022, it was found out most of ongoing projects were problematic.
    The RPMC, created by virtue of EO 376, is composed of seven government agencies and three nongovernment organizations. 
It is the project monitoring arm of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) responsible for monitoring and evaluation of priority programs and projects implemented in the region, particularly those that are encountering problems and those worthy of replication. 
It submits monitoring reports and recommendations generated during problem-solving sessions to RDC-CAR for information and appropriate action.
As the technical secretariat of RPMC, NEDA-CAR listed these 25 SBDP projects under the regional project monitoring and evaluation system (RPMES) to facilitate  monitoring and evaluation.

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Baguio coop Development council set

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio City Council has approved an ordinance on third and final reading institutionalizing the Baguio City Cooperative and Development Council (BCCDC).
    Issued by former Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Administrative Order 055, Series of 2017 acknowledged existence of the BCCDC as an organization in the city.
    It has coordinated or initiated city-wide cooperative activities up to the present.
    Councilor Arthur Allad-iw, author of the ordinance, said there is an urgent need to institutionalize the BCCDC, adding that it has been very helpful in making the local economy vibrant and sustainable.
    According to Allad-iw, there are 105 compliant cooperatives in the city with total assets of P8.092 billion, accumulated total paid-up capital of P2.22 billion, and a total net surplus of 136.99 million.
    The recently approved ordinance is aligned with Memorandum Circular 2013-01 of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) which provides for the revised guidelines in the organization, structure, and operation of the cooperative development councils in the country. 
    Under the ordinance, the BCCDC shall have the following powers and functions:
coordinate, harmonize, and monitor the implementation of various cooperative development plans, programs, and projects of national government agencies, government financing institutions, the local government unit, and non-government organizations in the city;
    operationalize and monitor the Philippine Cooperative Medium Term Development Plans (PCMTDP) through collective efforts of all sectors and to develop such mechanism as may be required in line with the PCMTDP;
    to share resources such as finances, supplies, equipment, and manpower towards the full realization of such development plans;
    to support, assist, and to the celebrations of cooperative activities such as but not limited to the celebrations of the cooperative month and scheduled cooperative summits;
    promote actively and strongly endorse the observance at all times of the universally cooperative principles as enshrined in the cooperative code; and
    to perform other functions that would advance cooperativism in the city.
    Members of the BCCDC shall be the chairperson of the City Development Council; chairperson of the Sanggunian’s Committee on Employment, Livelihood, Cooperatives, and Persons with Disabilities; City Livelihood and Cooperative Development Officer; chairperson of the City Cooperative Federation and Union; chairperson of primary cooperatives registered with the CDA and accredited with the city government; official representative of NGOs; and officials of concerned national agencies with programs including government financial institutions (GFIs) operating in the city.
    The city mayor shall automatically be the chairperson of the BCCDC. The members shall elect from among themselves a vice-chairperson, a secretary, a treasurer, and an auditor.
    The fund of the BCCDC shall be primarily derived from resource sharing without prejudice to its right to receive gifts, benefits, and grants from any person, whether natural or juridical. 
    An amount of P200,000.00 per annum shall be appropriated for the continuous operation of the city’s cooperative programs.

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Discrepancies in market amnesty rules found

By Jordan G. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- Provisions of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the market amnesty program do not conform with the ordinance related to this.
    This was pointed out by the members of the City Council during the regular session Monday. 
    In August 2021, the city enacted an ordinance granting a three-month amnesty program that seeks to end lease violations of market stalls or booths managed by the city government.
    Investigations conducted by the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) revealed numerous occupants of the market stalls are renting or leasing from registered leaseholders while some are occupying the stalls due to death of leaseholders or by virtue of transfer by sale, mortgage, or waiver.
    Sections 157 and 160 of the market code categorically state the leaseholder shall physically or personally conduct business in the stall subject of the lease and that the leaseholder shall not sell, lease, or transfer to other individuals their leasehold rights nor permit others to conduct business therein. 
    Section 161 likewise prohibits the sub-leasing of stalls and the use of dummies.
    According to the market code, any of these violations shall be sufficient grounds for the cancellation of the contract of lease with the city.
    Under the amnesty ordinance, concerned stall occupants and/or actual leaseholders are given the chance to rectify or act on their violations.
    After the said period, all arising violations shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the city’s existing tax ordinance.
    The actual occupant of the stall may apply for the amnesty program. If the application is approved, the leasehold rights would be transferred to them.
    Through executive order 125, series of 2021 issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the IRR of the market amnesty ptgoram was put into place.
    However, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, principal author of the ordinance, said certain provisions in the IRR were not anchored in the ordinance.
    “It is fundamental in law that the IRR should conform with provisions of the ordinance,” Tabanda said.
    For the transfer of leasehold rights (Section 2.1 of the ordinance), the transferee, upon presenting a deed of sale, waiver of rights, or acknowledgment by the registered leaseholder of the transfer, shall be issued a contract of lease, provided the transferee is personally or physically conducting business in the stall/booth.
    The IRR states the absence of the transferor (registered leaseholder), whether within or outside the country, shall not be grounds for transfer. It also states that no Special Power of Attorney (SPA) shall not be allowed on behalf of the transferor. 
    Tabanda said absence of the transferor/registered leaseholder may be considered as “incapacity” which can be a ground for transfer. 
    She added presence of the transferor/registered holder is inconsequential in the process of transferring the leasehold rights as long as the waiver of rights has already been executed.
    It is the transferee/actual occupant that needs to be physically present in the said process, she said.
For a stall whose registered leaseholder is already deceased (section 2.2 of the ordinance), the compulsory heirs of the deceased person must execute an Extra-Judicial settlement or waiver of rights designating a person (who may not necessarily be a compulsory heir) to be the next registered leaseholder.
    The IRR states that proof or relationship between transferor and transferee shall be produced/presented. This does not apply in cases where the transferor and transferee are not related by consanguinity, according to Tabanda.
    For a leaseholder who is sub-leasing or mortgaging their stall or using a dummy (Section 2.3 of the ordinance), they must terminate this relationship. The leaseholder, with the consent of the other party, may regain occupancy of the stall. Should both parties fail to agree, the contract of lease shall be revoked or cancelled, and the stall shall be declared vacant. The occupant may apply as the next legitimate leaseholder.
    The IRR states that the occupant must be in possession or is in actual occupation of the stall within one year prior to the approval of the ordinance.
    This contradicts the provision of the ordinance which states that the possession of the stall or the occupation of the stall by the current occupant must be at least one year prior to the approval of the ordinance. 
    Other members of the city council agreed with Tabanda’s observations.
    Tabanda filed a resolution containing her proposed amendments of the IRR.
    The proposed resolution is pending before the Sanggunian’s committee on laws, human rights, and justice for review. 
    The 3-month period for filing of application for the market amnesty ended on Feb. 2.
    However, a resolution was passed by the city council and signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong extending the application period for two more months.

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Former hog raiser finds bigger profit in catfish farming

Proceesing of smoked catfish at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources central office, Diliman, Quezon City (Photo courtesy of Viola Mariano Facebook)


By Christine Cudis 

A former hog raiser in Nueva Ecija has generated big savings on feeds since she shifted to catfish (hito) farming when the Covid-19 pandemic began.
    For 20 years, Noemi Mata tended to pigs, which cost her P3,000 on three sacks of commercial feeds per week before her shift.
    She spends P4,350 per five sacks of commercial feeds for three months in catfish farming.
    “Maganda po ang hito kaya ‘yun na po ang aming negosyo ngayon. Sa ngayon ‘yung kinita namin ay ipagpapagawa ulit namin ng kulungan. Ito nga inumpisahan na po namin at hindi na kulangan ng baboy, kulungan na po ng hito (Catfish farming has been good, so it is our business now. Currently, we are utilizing the profit we got from fish farming to construct another pen. These new pens are not for hogs anymore, but for catfish),” she said in a Facebook post shared by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Tuesday.
    BFAR, through the National Freshwater Fisheries Technology Cente, seeks to help small-scale hog farmers convert unutilized and empty concrete pigpens into productive fish tanks.
    Mata ventured into aquaculture through the assistance of NFFTC, which similarly helps mitigate the negative effects of African swine fever on food security.
    Last year, BFAR partnered with local government units to distribute 60 units of urban aquaculture support system in Quezon City.
    On Tuesday, Agriculture Undersecretary for Agri-industrialization and Fisheries, Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero, shared that they are conducting an onsite inspection in Northern Mindanao along with BFAR Field Office 10.
    “We are discussing the Balingasag Mariculture [in Misamis Oriental] project with BFAR 10 and local investors. [We are] looking at scalable models and inclusive partnership to propel developmental projects to propel the fishing industry under the OneDA platform,” she said in an interview.
    Mariculture parks are the seaside equivalent of industrial estates. -- PNA

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21 Cordillera studes qualifiers in DOST scholarship program

By Christian Robert M. Sandoval

BAGUIO CITY -- Twenty-one Cordillera students are among qualifiers of the Dept. of Science and Technology’s Science Education Institute’s (SEI) 2021 Junior Level Science Scholarship (JLSS) Program.
    Out of the total: 1, Abra; 8, Baguio City; 6, Benguet; 1, Ifugao; 4, Kalinga and 1 from Mountain Province.
    The following were the qualifiers under each program:
RA 7687 program:
    Jasper Amiel P. Alangdeo, Beatrice Nicole L. Choy, Hanarie G. Dugyangan, Eun Joo V. Kim, Venisce Arvie P. Lardizabal, and Marjory J. Nimer
    Merit program:
    Christopher F. Purugganan, Bryan Paul C. Balancia, Dam-ay Ethelle B. Capegsan, Sean Ernest S. Empizo, Gian Cydney M. Genove, Andrea Nicole O. Lachica, Darren Grey C. Napeek, Praise W. Napiloy, Marion Jenny D. Puday, and Dajen S. Torralba
    RA 10612 program:
    Lovelyn A. Agumiyeng, Aiyana Joy D. Anievas, Allean B. Dogao, Anirose L. Morados, and Lorry Ann B. Salido
    The JLSS program is one of the DOST undergraduate scholarship programs for 3rd year college students, currently enrolled in priority siche and technology courses in accredited universities.
    This program covers three types of scholarship namely RA 7687, Merit and RA 10612.
    The first provides scholarships to talented and deserving students whose families’ socio-economic status does not exceed the set cut-off values of certain indicators.
    Qualifiers must pursue priority fields of study in basic sciences, engineering, applied sciences and science and mathematics teaching. 
    Meanwhile, the Merit scholarship program is awarded to students with high aptitude in science and mathematics and are willing to pursue careers in the field of science and technology. The RA 10612 aims to strengthen the country’s science and technology education by fast-tracking graduates in science, mathematics and engineering who shall teach science and mathematics in secondary schools throughout the country.  
    The schedule of orientation will be informed to the qualifiers the soonest possible time.
    Meanwhile, qualifiers to the program will enjoy scholarship benefits, such as tuition and other school fees, book allowance, and monthly living allowance for two to three years. Specifically, benefits include P40,000 tuition per academic year; P10,000 book allowance per academic year, P7,000 monthly stipend and P10,000 thesis allowance.
    Scholars must maintain good academic standing to enjoy the said benefits.
    The application for the 2022 Junior Level Scholarship will be announced soon.
    Eligible applicants are incoming regular 3rd year college students of SY 2022-2023 and enrolled in S&T priority courses in identified institutions with at least 83% GWA. 
    For details, visit http://www.sei.dost.gov.ph/, email us at dostcarscholarshipunit@gmail.com  or you may call us at (074) 422-0979 or 09079132231.
 
 
 
 

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Cordillera RDC pushes digital integration in gov’t


By Marissa M. Cabato

BAGUIOCITY -- The sub-committee on communications of the Cordillera Regional Development Council aims to advance digital integration among regional line agencies and local government units in the region as its banner program for this year.
    It also intends to foster stronger coordination among telecommunications companies and government agencies. These were agreed during its virtual meeting presided by committee chair and Dep.t of Information and Communications Technology regional director Rey Parnacio on Feb. 10.
    The committee also agreed to meet quarterly instead of the usual two meetings per year, recognizing that the demand for ICT services is crucial as the region continues to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    Jeff Corpuz of Globe Telecom said they have projects supporting the digital inclusivity program in the region such as the Free GoWiFi that aims to provide free connectivity.
    But they have difficulty implementing this because of the long process in getting permits.
    Corpuz urged the committee to help them in approval of permits from local governments so that they can reach more areas.
    The DICT, as lead agency in providing ICT services, reported a total of 320 active sites with four access points per location established in the region.
    A total of 141 sites with three access points per location were also set up in Covid-19 facilities in isolated areas.
    These services are under their Free WiFi for all flagship program which commenced in 2015.
    On their regional government network (Govnet) program which aims to interconnect government agencies in the country, a total of 69 active sites in Baguio City and La Trinidad were established with continuous operations and network maintenance. 
    On the DICT vaccine administration system (DVAS) that supports the national immunization program, 10 local government units have adapted real time reporting system in 11 vaccination sites.
    The DVAS mobile system which provides reporting facility for those who do not have regular internet service, was adapted by 45 LGUs and used in 48 vaccination sites in Cordillera.
    DICT will be conducting trainings the whole year to assist the public in using ICT mediums and platforms.
    The sub-committee on communications is chaired by the DICT.
    It is under the bigger infrastructure development sector committee (InfraCom) of RDC Cordillera.
 

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SEC cracks down on illegal online selling

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is moving forward its crackdown on unauthorized and abusive online lending activities, starting this year’s campaign with several individuals operating unregistered online lending applications. In a joint operation on Feb. 12, the combined forces of the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) and the Philippine National Police AntiCybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) successfully implemented a warrant to search, seize and examine computer data in Cashtrees Lending Corporation’s office in Pasig City.
    The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 issued the search warrant against Cashtrees Lending for misuse of device penalized under Section 4(a)(5)(i)(ii) of Republic Act No. 10275, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, in operating unregistered online lending applications in violation of Republic Act No. 9474, or the Lending Company Regulation Act (LCRA).
    The onsite digital forensic examination on the seized devices showed that the employees of Cashtrees Lending operated online lending applications such as Happylend, Rush Loan, Easy Money, Good Pocket, Dummy Loan, Lucky Star, Swipe Cash, 365 Cash, Home Peso, Mega Loan, Treecash and Goldpeso. Cashtrees Lending is registered as a corporation and holds a certificate of authority to operate as a lending company.
    It operates registered online lending platforms such as Happylend, Creditcash and Cashmore.
    However, majority of the online lending applications operated by Cashtrees Lending were unregistered. These include Goodpocket, Easymoney, 365 Cash and Rushloan, which have been the subject of cease and desist orders issued by the Commission.
    Following the digital forensic examination, the PNP-ACG arrested 46 employees, including the manager of Cashtrees Lending for violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and the LCRA. On February 13, the SEC-EIPD and PNP-ACG filed with the Department of Justice an inquest complaint against the arrested employees of Cashtrees Lending for violating Section 4(a)(5)(i)(ii) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and the LCRA in relation to Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
    The SEC has been receiving numerous complaints against online lending applications (OLAs) for various violations of the LCRA and for abusive debt collection practices in violation of SEC Memorandum Circular No. 18, Series of 2019, which provides for the Page 2 of 2 Office of the Commission Secretary Breezeway 3F PICC Secretariat Building Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Complex Pasay City 8888-8141;8818-5478 Prohibition on Unfair Debt Collection Practices of Financing Companies and Lending Companies. In response, the Commission created a task force to handle complaints involving online lending operators and to take the appropriate measures to stop lending companies and their operators from engaging in abusive practices and activities. The task force closely coordinates with other law enforcement agencies such as the PNP-ACG and the National Bureau of Investigation to crack down on illegal online lending applications.     The SEC regularly monitors lending and financing companies for their compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, as it seeks to protect borrowers from abusive, unethical, and illegal lenders.
    To date, the Commission has canceled licenses of 36 financing/lending companies due to various violations of applicable rules and regulations. It has also revoked the certificate of registration of a total of 2,081 lending companies for their failure to secure the requisite certificate of authority, pursuant to the LCRA. In total, 72 online lending applications have been ordered to cease operations for lack of authority to operate as a lending or financing company. In addition, the SEC has secured the convictions of 74 individuals for violation of the LCRA. To see the list of licensed lending and financing companies and their registration status, please visit the Lending and Financing Companies corner on the SEC website at https://www.sec.gov.ph/lending-companies-and-financing-companies-2/lendingcompanies-and-financing-companies/.
 

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