Benguet farmers, Baguio council hit execs, illegal vegetable importation

>> Saturday, March 26, 2022

Lacson: Interagency conspiracy 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Farmers, lawyers and the Baguio City Council denounced illegal importation of vegetable to the country saying it was ruining the trade particularly in Benguet, Baguio and other parts of the Cordillera.
    For nine months now, Benguet farmers have been losing an estimate of P2.5 million daily because of illegally imported vegetables flooding the market.
    This, according to the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post (LALTVTP), as they decried non-invitation to the Farmers’ Congress conducted here recently.
    The LALTVTP is the biggest agriculture-related organization in Benguet with around 10,000 members covering stakeholders of the vegetable trading industry based in this capital town.
    The LALTVTP in their social media page said, “Contrary to what this top Benguet official claims, the stakeholders of the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas nor the farmers' representative in our group were not invited at the Farmers' Congress conducted March 16 at the provincial capitol. Please stop lying and fooling the Benguet people. As the farmers’ congress is ongoing, smuggled carrots continue to flood Manila markets and provinces unabated.”    
    “If it were true that there was action against smuggling as claimed by these Benguet officials during the said congress, how come we could not feel the effect, why hasn’t smuggling stopped? We still could not sell our medium local carrots this morning), they said.
    Augusta Balanoy, spokesperson of the group in an interview said, “We really feel so helpless that even our provincial government calls us liars despite pieces of evidence we have presented to them for the past months.”
    Before the Senate inquiry on vegetable smuggling conducted on December 2021, the provincial government has denied that there is vegetable smuggling and accused the organization of using old recycled pictures in our social media pages and when we presented these as evidence to authorities as early as June 2021, Balanoy said.
    “These smugglers are so brazen, despite our continuous complaints and with an ongoing Senate inquiry on the matter, illegally imported vegetables specifically carrots continue to flood the market.” Balanoy said.
    Per volume, she said, around 38 million kilos of illegally imported carrots enter Philippine markets monthly.
LALTVTP has recorded 40% less orders in carrots in the past months.
    “Smuggling never stopped for nine months now.” Balanoy said.
    Meanwhile, lawyer Richard Kilaan said, “illegal importation is just a tip of the iceberg with problems hounding our farmer, the very reason why we founded, Farmers for Lawyers, basically to help our farmers in particular and the agricultural sector in general.”
    “We are now looking into the possibility of filing court cases against the different government offices for the inaction of this problem which was originally brought to their offices more than nine months ago.” Kilaan said.
    Lawyers for Farmers (LFF) is a group composed of lawyers for farmers' rights and legal initiatives.
    It is a group that defends rights of farmers, with advocacy to inform, educate and empower the farmers in today's society, members said.
    LFF, they added, assists farmers in litigation processes, regularly conduct legal awareness training, and actively participates in policy intervention and campaigns for farmers to benefit and have equal access to justice. 
    Earlier, during the Senate Inquiry on the matter, Sen. Panfilio Lacson said “Despite having what one study called the ‘eight toll gates of agricultural smuggling,’ why are there still too many smuggled goods that slip into our ports? I suspect what is involved is not interagency cooperation but interagency conspiracy”
In nearby Baguio, the city council, in a resolution Monday, denounced the proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the country.
    Councilor Joel Alangsab, principal author of the ordinance, appealed to the Bureau of Customs and the Dept. of Agriculture to provide a permanent solution to smuggling of vegetables.
    Alangsab said at least 250 vehicles of farmers, truckers, and other members of the League of Associations of the Vegetable Trading Post held a caravan last February at the main thoroughfares of La Trinidad, Benguet calling on government authorities to support the fight of the local farmers against the smuggling of carrots from China.
     According to Alangsab, farmers and stakeholders of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center and the Vegetable Trading     Post are continuously collaborating with local government and concerned government agencies to curb said practice. 
Aside from smuggled carrots, smuggled cabbages from China and imported strawberries from South Korea were also spotted in the markets nationwide.
    The councilor said rampant smuggling activities continue to affect the local vegetable industry and endanger the livelihood of local farmers and traders in the region, stressing that the Cordillera region is the top producer of highland vegetables in the country. He said 80% of the vegetable supplies of Metro Manila and other lowland provinces come from the Cordillera Region. – With a report from Jordan G. Habbiling


Presidential bets back creation of Cordillera autonomous region

MANILA -- At least five presidential candidates are in favor of creating an autonomous region in the Cordillera, following the mandate laid down in the 1987 Constitution.
    During the forum “The Bangsamoro Agenda 2022” on Wednesday, March 16, representatives of presidential candidates were asked about the bets’ stance on the passage of an organic law for Cordillera.
    Surrogates of labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Sens. Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquiao and Vice President Leni Robredo's representatives all said their principals were supportive of the passage of a law that will grant the Cordillera region autonomy.
    Partido Lakas ng Masa chairperson Sonny Melencio, who represented their presidential bet De Guzman, cited their relationship with the now-defunct militant organization Cordillera People’s Liberation Army as proof that they have long been advocating for autonomy in the region.
    Melencio, however, said there are issues with integrating former CPLA members into the security forces in the region, as stringent requirements prevent former rebels from joining.
    “There are a lot of conditions. Their generals, their officers cannot become generals because they have no education, college education and there is an age limit. So we have to address that,” he said in Filipino.
    Aksyon Demokratiko senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc said their presidential candidate, Domagoso, “deeply” understands the need for autonomy, having been a consultant in peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
    “Isko Moreno was a peace panel member, so he has a deeply appreciative understanding of autonomy, which requires a mutual process,” Gutoc said in Filipino.
    Sen. Koko Pimentel, who represented PDP-Laban presidential candidate Pacquiao, said that since pushing for federalism is a core advocacy of their party, they are naturally in favor of autonomy for the Cordilleras.
    “We know that it (federalism) is a destination. There are some steps you need to take before you reach your destination.     So local autonomy, autonomous regions and federalism,” Pimentel said.
    Lacson and Robredo’s representatives said they also support autonomy for the Cordillera, but stressed that calls for autonomy must originate from the people of the region.
    “Senator Ping Lacson said he would let the people of the Cordillera Administrative Region decide on whether it should receive greater autonomy,” Nationalist People’s Coalition senatorial candidate and former Agriculture Secretary Manny PiΓ±ol said of Partido Reporma standard bearer Lacson.
    Liberal Party senatorial candidate and former Rep. Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao) quoted independent presidential bet Robredo as saying, “The drive to establish a Cordillera Autonomous Region must come directly from Cordillerans.”
    “It’s about time that we have some self-introspection in the Cordilleras. And if we truly believe in the autonomous region, definitely Leni Robredo will provide the political will to ensure that this region or this law is passed,” Baguilat said.
    There have been two failed attempts to institute autonomy for the Cordilleras in 1997 and 1998, when laws were passed for this, but failed to garner a majority vote in plebiscites.
    Article X, Section 15 of the Constitution mandates the creation of autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao. So far, only the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has been created. -- Xave Gregorio 


Seven NPAs yield in Mountain Province out of 125 in North Luzon

By Imelda U. Sawi

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Seven former New People’s Army militia surrendered here and took their oath of allegiance to the government Feb. 18.
    Oath was administered by executive assistant Winston V. Calde who represented Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. during the event dubbed “retooled community support program of provincial task Force to empower local communities to accelerate change (PTF-ELCAC) of Mountain Province.
    The seven surrenderees handed over six guns to the government forces present during the ceremony.
    The activity was witnessed by the officials and members of the Philippine Army and of Mountain Province Provincial Police Office. representatives from the Office of the Provincial Governor, provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Provincial Information Office, Philippine Information Agency and GMA News.
    Aside from the province’s Rebel Returnee program and being a member of the Mountain Province’s PTF-ELCAC, the provincial government is in full support to government programs related to ending local communist and armed conflicts in the country.
    In his message conveyed by Calde, Gov. Lacwasan urged those “who have strayed from the mainstream of society to return and submit themselves into the government’s fold of the law.
    Likewise, in his message relayed by Lt. Col Crisante Sadino, MPPPO provincial director Clarence C. Casilio expressed his appreciation for the participation and cooperation of the surrenderees who decided to lay down their arms and abandon their armed struggle.
    Meanwhile, during the activity, as implementors of the E-CLIP program, LTC. Narciso Nabulneg Jr., 54IB Philippine Army commander presented a report on anti-insurgency in Ifugao and in Vizcaya provinces.
    He bared a total of 205 NPA surrenderees who yielded 28 firearms in Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Mountain Province.
    Six surrenderees from eastern Mountain Province, one from Paracelis and five from Natonin were awarded with E-CLIP benefits by the Dept. of Interior and Local Government.
    All six surrenderees received immediate assistance of P15,000 each and firearm renumeration of P80,000.
    One received an addition of P50,000 firearm renumeration and P50,000 livelihood assistance.
    According to the DILG, the other five surrenderees are undergoing evaluation before receiving their respective livelihood assistance.
    The turn-over of E-CLIP benefits were witnessed by some members of Provincial Peace and Order Council.


Ex-newsman in arrest of mayor, nabbed for guns

By Alvin Murcia

MAPANDAN, Pangasinan -- Operatives from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested here a former correspondent of a daily broadsheet for illegal possession of firearms during a raid conducted in his two-story house.
    The suspect, identified as Jaime Aquino, was nabbed following implementation of search warrant by Judge Rusty M. Naya of branch 51 Tayug, Pangsinan Regional Trial Court.
    Authorities discovered one piece of cal. 45 (SN: 770001), eight pieces live ammunition and two hand grenade.
    Aquino and the illegal firearms were brought by the NBI-National Capital Region.
    The search warrant was issued by Executive Judge Naya after the applicant satisfied the requirement that Aquino was in possession of firearms and ammunition of different calibre in his two-story house located here at Caimito Extension Road, Barangay Aserda.
    This is not the first time that the former correspondent was involved in a controversy.
    Previously, an incumbent municipal councilor of Lopez town in Quezon province disclosed a supposed group led by Aquino was targeting Quezon province Gov. Danilo Suarez and his family.
    Lopez municipal councilor Arkie Manuel Yulde — who was recently incarcerated for six months on trumped up charges of kidnapping, rape and serious illegal detention — said that he was also a victim of the group.
    Three cases of rape and kidnapping were filed by Aquino’s group against Yulde before the Pasig, Quezon City and Pangasinan courts.
    Yulde was released last Feb. 9, 2022 when the fiscals handling his cases were replaced as per the order of the Department of Justice as investigation showed evidence submitted in court were all fake that included the complainant and medical certificate in connection with the rape case.
    The councilor added Aquino and his cohorts were allegedly planning to file trumped up cases against Suarez and his family as part of their grand plan to derail the political plan of their group in the May 9, 2022 elections.


Video captures Bongbong’s Nueva Ecija rally crowd with P500 in envelopes

SANTA ROSA, Nueva Ecija --Several individuals receiving P500 cash in envelopes were captured on video after they attended the campaign rally of presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos in the province on March 15.
    Responding to the incident, Bongbong’s Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) party said it abhorred the distribution of cash among attendees of their campaign sortie, organized by Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali.
    “Partido Federal ng Pilipinas is a disciplined political party! We abhor such action! This is not a policy in our core values and principles,” Thompson Lantion, PFP secretary-general said.
    The incident occurred outside the governor’s residence in Barangay Soledad, Santa Rosa, after Bongbong visited with his vice presidential running mate Sara Duterte and their senatoriables.
    UniTeam senatorial candidates Loren Legarda, Larry Gadon, Rodante Marcoleta, Jinggoy Estrada, Migz Zubiri, and Harry Roque were present.
    Umali hosted the event, which was attended by some mayors, pastors, and residents.
    He did not, however, made an outright endorsement of the Bongbong-Sara tandem.
In her speech, Sara cited the importance of Nueva Ecija as the rice granary of the Philippines, while Bongbong tried to persuade the audience through “unity,” their lives will improve.
    The UniTeam candidates proceeded to hold a caravan from Cabanatuan City to Talavera, where they held another sortie.
Despite the rains, residents received Bongbong.
    In Talavera, crowds gathered for the UniTeam rally.
    They repeatedly chanted “Hindi kami bayad!” (We are not paid), while Bongbong delivered his speech.
    Meanwhile, Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Matias Umali said the provincial government was distributing financial aid to residents of two barangays on the same day a UniTeam rally was held there.
    He gave the statement after footage of the distribution of envelopes, reportedly with P500 inside, after the campaign rally hit the news.
    In a Facebook stream, Umali said in Filipino: "When [presidential bet Bongbong Marcos and Mayor Inday Sara] visited my house, distribution of financial assistance to our constituents was also scheduled."
    "Two barangays were scheduled [for distribution], and we said we should finish early because our visitors will arrive… We could not cancel giving financial assistance," he added.
    Umali stressed they only have until March 24 to finish distribution of aid as the campaign season for local elections will start the next day.
    Marcos Jr.’ s campaign manager Benhur Abalos Jr. and his political party, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas have both denied knowing what the incident was about.
    Umali explained that while the campaign season has already started for national bets, local candidates have yet to start theirs on March 25, so they were still working on distributing aid to residents.
    “Because our aid distribution is continuous to the people… our protocol is we gather them in open public space, that’s what we do all over Nueva Ecija,” the governor said partly in Filipino.
GMA News which also reported the distribution of envelopes containing cash said Marcos planned a motorcade in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija going to Talavera. Umali also confirmed that the UniTeam intended a rally at Talavera town.
    But, before this, Marcos addressed the people at the open grounds of the governor’s residence or Umali compound in Sta. Rosa where a stage was set up as seen in the video report. Marcos and Sara Duterte and UniTeam senatorial bets were also seen being praying over on stage.
    GMA News said that after the rally, people remained outside the governor’s residence and were given envelopes. When asked about the cash, they said they did not know what the money was for.
    Vote buying, or providing money or anything of value to a person to induce to vote for or against a candidate, is an election offense.
    News 5 earlier reported that Elections Commissioner George Garcia said he would bring up for en banc deliberations the reported distribution of money in the UniTeam event. 


‘Missing persons’ need verification: Baguio PNP chief

BAGUIO CITY- The chief of police here urged the public to practice self-regulation in posting instances of missing persons like young girls after news circulated on social media on this.
    “While social media plays a significant role nowadays as it is incredibly used for many reasons particularly sharing news as well as personal opinions or viewpoints with one another in real-time. It has also created the perfect breeding ground for misinformation or “fake news” to spread like wildfire,” said Baguio city police director Col. Glenn D. Lonogan.
    “An example of this are trending misinformation regarding persons who have gone absent or missing and were victims of kidnapping, abduction or human trafficking. Many people share misinformation or “fake news” because they find it interesting and relevant to what’s going on. Some tend to share stories that tug at our emotions, and we’re more likely to engage with content that already has a lot of likes, comments, or shares — regardless of whether that content is true or false,” he added.
    He said the “seemingly innocent act of sharing misinformation can have unintended and harmful consequences. Fact-checking from credible sources is perhaps the best way to fight the spread of misinformation. Let us verify facts before we post or share. It is very important to note that an individual shall be presumed unharmed and alive until proven otherwise.”
    “If someone goes missing, it’s important to stay calm yet you don’t have to wait for 24 hours before you report. The missing persons will only be considered absent persons who is not in his domicile or place where he is supposed to be present in less than 24 hours, and whose families and relatives have no clue as to his/her actual whereabouts”.
    Lonogan said a “missing person shall be recorded as such by the PNP after the 24th hour of a person’s perceived disappearance. However, the recording, investigation, and monitoring of cases of missing children and missing victims of disasters or accidents shall begin immediately. If you start to fear for the missing person’s safety and welfare, it is best to contact the nearest police station or the barangay.
    He said following information should be provided about the missing person: full name including aliases,  date of birth, age, grade level, physical description , clothes worn when last seen, distinguishing features (scars, marks, tattoos), height and weight, gender, race, nationality, hair or eye color, blood type ,where and when last seen or heard from, most recent photograph, names and contact details of friends and associates, known places that the missing person may visit or go, ΓΌ  bank accounts or credit cards the missing person may be using and contact number, email address, social networking sites accounts like Facebook, Tweeter or Instagram.
    Other information that must be divulged include travel plans or destination, persons in company of missing person, medical problems or medications the person may need or birth defects, reason believed why the person wen absent or missing and other information which may help locate the missing person.
    Other information that must be divulged include travel plans or destination, persons in company of missing person, medical problems or medications the person may need or birth defects, reason believed why the person wen absent or missing and other information which may help locate the missing person.
    Lonogan said for security reasons, the person/s who reported the case shall be required to present evidence to determine if they are the person they are claiming to be.
    The case will then be assigned to an investigator who will work to locate the missing person, he added.


Mt Prov cops, Comelec hold events for safe polls

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Cops and Commission on Elections officials here held events which included a “unity walk” for “secure, accurate, free, and Fair elections (S.A.F.E.) on March 12.
    From Bontoc Municipal Capitol, police officers walked with Comelec staff, religious leaders and community folks until to the Provincial Plaza wherein a simple program was held to promote SAFE Election 2022.
    The highlights of the program were declaration of commitments of the political aspirants to promote a clean, honest and peaceful election.
    The declaration is anchored on the values of “π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘺𝘒𝘯”, “𝘭𝘒𝘸𝘒”, “𝘱𝘒𝘯π˜ͺ𝘺𝘒𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘱𝘒𝘯𝘺𝘦𝘸” that treated competitors as ir "𝘬𝘒𝘣𝘴𝘒𝘡”.
    The Comelec conducted a vote counting machine (VCM) roadshow so the public will see what the machine looks like, how it works, and how it will be used on election day.
    Also, signing of integrity pledge, peace covenant and lighting of the SAFE candle was conducted to reinforce declaration of the political aspirants.
    In a statement, Col. Ruben B. Andiso, MP police chief told the public the non-partisan status of Mt. Province police.
    He urged the public in attaining a clean, honest and peaceful election.
    The activity ended with a prayer and launching of the Mountain Province hymn for intelligent voting by the Aggiornamento Music Ministry.


5 Cordillera PNP officers awarded

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Five police officers were awarded for their service in promotion program here March 14.
    Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee led awarding with the command group.
    Medalya ng Kasanayan (PNP efficiency medal) was awarded to Col. John C. Chua, acting deputy regional director for administration, for leading the PROCor PCO promotion committee for lieutenant colonel.
    Same medal was awarded to Col. Nerino Daciego of Regional Forensic Unit for conduct of drug tests.
    Awarded with same medal was Col. Jeessiemyr Protocio for service rendered in conduct of work behavior and performance appraisal examination.
    Maj. Dexter Simon got same medal as promotion head secretariat of promotion committee.
    Medalya ng Kasanayan was also awarded to Cpl. Chanda Claire Lugao for her invaluable services in background investigation of promotees for lieutenant colonel


La Trinidad cop pays tuition of crim student

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet –A generous and good hearted police officer of La Trinidad PNP recently shared his blessing to a Criminology student so the latter could complete his studies and reach his goal,
    Lt. Col. Rodelio Olsim, La Trinidad, police director bared this identifying the beneficiary as Greg Macedy Dinoc Jr, a 3rd year student, currently taking up Bachelor of Science in Criminology at King’s College of the Philippines.
    Olsim said while studying, Dinoc was working at La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, hired as Municipal Anti-Traffic Enforcer (MATE), yet doing clerical work in the station.
    MSg Dante Liwanag, assigned at La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, learned the story of Macedy, wherein, the latter was unable to enroll for the 2nd semester due to his uncovered tuition fees during the previous semester amounting to 17, 000.
    After knowing the student’s situation, Liwanag grabbed his wallet and handed over P17,000 right away to Dinoc  so he could pay his unpaid school fees.
    “Holding someone’s hand at his downfall without expecting something in return, is the real meaning of life and a principle to live on,” Liwanag said.
    Liwanag reportedly stands with his principle as a dedicated police officer serving and protecting people and being a good example to public servants.
    Olsim meanwhile said people needing police assistance may call 09101221505 or go direct to any police station in the town. -- NST

Cops carry sick person to hospital from far site

NATONIN, Mountain Province – Police officers here transported an individual requiring immediate medical attention to a hospital from a far-secluded area passing though forested area in an hour’s hike.   
    Police said they earlier received a request from a concerned citizen through the “Pulis sa Barangay” asking for help.
    The police officers immediately went to the location and helped in carrying the sick person in a traditional foot transport called “fulig.”
    Since the patient was living in a secluded barangay that could only be accessed by foot, responding cops and concerned citizens hiked for at least an hour before they reached the nearest road wherein a vehicle was waiting and brought the sick     person to the hospital.
    “Fulig” is the indigenous practice in Natonin that means to carry a sick or injured person using an improvised stretcher made up of a cloth fastened to a bamboo pole.


CIDG nabs four wanted persons


By March Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio City Criminal Investigation Detection Group along with local units of the Philippine National Police arrested last week three of the city's Most Wanted Persons (MWP) and one other in a series of manhunt operations that was launched in consonance with “Oplan Pagtugis”, an anti-criminality program thrust in the Target Output Policy of the agency.
    First to fall was a fugitive for almost a decade identified as Gefti Bastian Bagsangi alias “Jorge” who was arrested on March 9, 2022 along Balsigan Road, Baguio City. He is listed as the No. 4 MWP in the city.
    The following day, two more MWPs were put behind bars after their respective Warrant of Arrest were served against them at Bacbacan, Km. 4, Barangay Asin Road. Benjamin Golia Tiyad was collared for Homicide while Savina Bayaona Guinawan was nabbed for Estafa.
    The suspects were respectively tagged as the No.5 and No. 6 MWP, both in Baguio City. In a follow-up police operation of the same date, suspect Listen Lawagan Donato was apprehended for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Homicide.
    Col Juliet Salvador, Regional Chief of CIDG RFU14 who sent a report to CIDG Director Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz said the successful arrests of the wanted persons were due to continuous information-gathering and the cooperation of the community in tracking the location of the suspects. 
    Cruz lauded personnel of CIDG Baguio for their relentless efforts and initiatives, and the community’s participation in supporting the anti-criminality campaign of the CIDG and the PNP.
    “These accomplishments reaffirm the commitment of CIDG in fulfilling their mandate of ensuring the public to make their homes and communities safer and more secure places to live, work, study, and do business,” the CIDG Chief said.

44 wanted persons nabbed in Cordillera

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – A total of 44 wanted persons were arrested in Cordillera March 6 to 12.
Based on the records from Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division, Baguio CPO recorded highest number of arrests with 21 wanted persons arrested followed by Benguet PPO with seven arrests, Abra and Kalinga PPO with five arrests each and Ifugao and Mt.
    Province with three arrests each.
    Thirteen of those arrested were listed as most wanted.
    Rizaldo Amawan l was arrested for rape, Raymund Talatal for illegal drugs and Valentine Matias for murder.
Hilario Ngaosi was arrested for rape while Joseph Alfredo Jr. was held for violation of Republic Act 9262 or Violence against women and children Act.
    Arnel Tumitit was arrested for lascivious conduct, Susana Abara for large scale illegal recruitment and estafa, Regino Aladin for murder and Adela Ibus for large scale illegal recruitment and estafa.
    Gefti Bagsangi was nabbed for lasciviousness, Benjamin Tiyad for homicide and Savina Guinawan for estafa.

P9-M marijuana found in Kalinga; P15-M burned

LUBUAGAN, Kalinga — Eight bricks of dried marijuana leaves with an estimated value of P960,000 were recovered by the roadside here in Sitio Balangabang in Barangay Dangoy on March 13.
    A concerned citizen reported that he saw a blue plastic gallon with suspected marijuana plants adjacent to his property.
    Police found eight bricks of dried marijuana leaves weighing 8,000 grams worth P960,000.
    Police said the marijuana bricks weighing around eight kilos were in a blue container, which was left near the house of a certain Gary Guilay.
    Guilay sought police assistance when he found the suspicious item
    This, as P15,000,000 worth of marijuana plants were burned in Kalinga on March 11-12.
    Reports submitted to Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee said eight plantation sites were raided by lawmen in Bugnay, Tinglayan.
    A total of 75,000 marijuana plants from eight marijuana plantations worth P15,000,000 was burned.

2 men held for drugs in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY -- Two drug personalities were arrested by police here on March 13.
    Based on reports submitted to Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee, arrested suspects were identified as Clint Ambrosio Macachor, 34 and Michael Angelo Belga Rogayan, 34.
Macachor was arrested in Leonila Hill after he sold to a cop 0.8 grams of suspected shabu worth P5,440.
    Shabu weighing 2.9 grams worth P19,720 were seized from his possession.
In a separate buy-bust operation in Salud Mitra, Rogayan was arrested by joint operatives of Regional PNP Drug     Enforcement Unit and Baguio CPO after he sold to a cop two grams of suspected shabu worth P13,600.
    The arrested suspects are facing charges for illegal drugs. 


Kalinga PNP execs’ ladies give gifts; cops draw blood

TANUDAN, Kalinga –The PNP Officers’ Ladies Club of Kalinga with Kalinga Police Provincial Office and Tanudan police personnel conducted an outreach program HERE in Barangay Gaang on March 11 in observance of National Women’s Month, 
Joyce Tagtag and Eileen Rose U Bulwayan, distributed school supplies, hygiene kits, biscuits, and candies as gifts to the more than 80 pupils of Gaang Elementary School.
    They distributed grocery and food packs to 112 families in  Gaang.
    As part of the program, lectures on violence against women and their children and child abuse were conducted by lawyer Romelyn G. Alinao.
    Lectures on anti-bullying, anti-illegal drugs and anti-terrorism were delivered by Tanudan police
    Outreach programs were also conducted by Kalinga PPO OLC in other parts of the province.
    In Tabuk City, officers of Kalinga Police Provincial Office in partnership with Philippine National Red Cross- Kalinga Chapter initiated a mobile blood donation program here in Camp Capt. Juan M. Duyan on March 15
    Coinciding with National Women’s Month Celebration, 11 female police officers of Kalinga participated in the activity.
    A total of 19 Kalinga police and three civilian volunteers participated in the bloodletting program wherein 22 units of blood were extracted for blood supply of  sick Kalinga constituents accident victims, people with blood disorders, mothers who are giving birth among others.


Baguio eyed Phl ‘model city’ under ‘new normal’

By Pamela Mariz T. Geminiano

BAGUIO CITY— The National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 conducted a “coordinated operations to defeat epidemic (Code) team visit in this city, which they see as a possible model city for transitioning to the new normal.
    During the CODE team visit, NTF Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Secretary Vivencio Dizon lauded Baguio City for being a model city in implementing the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy and hoped to become a model city transitioning to the new normal.
    He also urged the public to continue to follow the Minimum Public Health Standards (MPHS) and get vaccinated, noting that as the country adjusts to its new normal, restoring livelihood and business revenues is a top priority.
    "Despite the need to return to the new normal, we must remain vigilant and vaccinate our target population. Take the lead in encouraging your constituents to get vaccinated, and bring the vaccines to them. To our local chief executives, please help us persuade them that vaccines are both safe and effective. We recognize that there may be some cultural and religious tensions, but it is for their own safety,” he said.
    Meanwhile, Contact Tracing Czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the roadshow signaled the city’s transition to the new normal and that is the reason why the city government is now working on several programs to make sure that the city will create an enabling environment for business and tourism industry to thrive and the people to learn and internalize the new normal.
    "Our city has an advantage because we have a cooperative community, compliant residents, dynamic regional line agencies, and local government units (LGUs) that practice good governance, and I hope that continued support for these government programs will speed up our road to recovery,” he said.
    Albert Mogol, RTF chairperson and regional director of the Office of Civil Defense, in his message, cited importance of bringing vaccines closer to the community and conducting a massive vaccination information drive for the region to move from pandemic to endemic stage of the virus.
    “Our barangay officials are the key to the success of our vaccination campaign. We need to guide them, provide the needed resources and encourage the public to get vaccinated. If some of us are not yet vaccinated, there is still a threat. The RLAs are here to provide you support and assistance,” he said.
    Araceli San Jose, RIATF chairperson and regional director of the Dept. of the Interior and Local Government, said with the active participation and support of LGUs and other stakeholders, as well as the strong commitment of each and every Cordilleran to do their part in taking extra precautionary measures against Covid-19, the region will be able to maneuver the risks involved and to bounce back to a better new normal.
    “Together, let us help the government to further reach our people who need to be vaccinated so that we can all be safe. We should not be complacent either. Let us also continue to adhere to MPHS, particularly when it comes to the proper use of face masks. Take extra precautions on a regular basis. This is now our new normal – our new reality – our new way of life. We'll keep doing this until we're all off the hook.” San Jose said.
    The CODE Team Visit Roadshow is an effort to ensure a national government-enabled, local government-led, and people-centered response to the Covid-19 pandemic
    The visit, dubbed 'Bida Tungo sa New Normal,' aims to LGUs strengthen their response to the health crisis as the country transitions to a new normal.
    It also functions as a forum for multi-stakeholder discussions. -- PMTG/DILG-CAR 


Baguio closes roads for Panagbenga events

BAGUIO CITY -- City officials approved temporary closure and use of roads in this summer capital as venues for programs and activities lined up for the 2022 Panagbenga or the Baguio flower festival subject to clarifications and future amendments.
    Under Ordinance No. 19, series of 2022, Session Road from SM rotunda to the area in front of Mercury Drug, both lanes, will be closed to vehicular traffic from March 20 to midnight of March 27, 2022 for the conduct of the simplified Session road in Bloom.
    From March 20 to midnight of March 27, 2022, portion of the adjoining roads and streets of Session road such as Gov. Pack road, Assumption |road, Fr. Carlo Loop, Calderon St., Perfecto St. and Mabini St. will also be closed for main stage, emergency ingress and egress and for garbage collection trucks, for emergency ingress or egress for delivery trucks, vans of pavilion owners and for garbage trucks among others.
    In the case of Mabini St., the ordinance stated that it will remain open for vehicular traffic to serve as an alternate road for motorists wanting to patronize the displays by the exhibitors in the Session road in Bloom.
    Earlier, the Panagbenga Organizing Committee requested the local legislative body for the temporary closure and use of various roads in the central business district area as venues for the different programs and activities lined up for the celebration of this year’s Panagbenga in various dates.
    Under Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines, the local legislative body is empowered to close the roads and streets in their respective areas of jurisdiction to be used for various programs and activities of the local government when the duration is more than seven days.
    Based on the data from the Panagbenga Organizing Committee, more or less 200 stalls will be allowed to operate during the week-long Session road compared to the previous 500 stalls that occupy the whole stretch of the city’s main thoroughfare.
Organizers of the annual celebration of Panagbenga and the local government recently agreed to tone down the events for this year’s festivities as part of the ongoing gradual and safe revival of the heavily impacted local economy primarily because of Covid-19 pandemic the past two years.
    Aside from the traditional opening ritual that was held at the Panagbenga Park along South Drive, other activities that had been lined up for this year’s Baguio flower festival include opening of the Panagbenga landscaping competition or Gardenscapes by participating landscapers, landscaping exhibition, Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio, Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom, kite flying contest, fitness activities, band performances, Panagbenga Dance Competition, Session road in Bloom, Panagbenga flower Tee Golf tournament and the closing fireworks display.
    Panagbenga is the city’s annual crowd drawing event that serves as the city’s primer tourism event that entices foreign and domestic visitors to visit the Summer Capital at the time when flowers produced by cutflower farmers in nearby towns of Benguet are in bloom as flowers are one of the primary produce of farmers in nearby Benguet. – Dexter A. See


NolCom assures safe, secure elections in Northern Luzon

TARLAC CITY — Military units of the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom) comprised of the Army, Air Force and Navy vowed to extend assistance to ensure the safe and secure conduct of the 2022 national and local elections this May.
    NolCom commander Lt. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr. said apart from joint security control centers, the role of the military is to provide area security, adding that government troops will remain non-partisan in the coming polls.
    “We will ensure that the Philippine National Police is supported in crowd management and we will respond to any untoward incident that may happen,” Torres said.
    He added that NolCom units will assist the PNP and the Commission on Elections in enforcement of gun ban and on manning checkpoints in areas considered as election hot spots.
    Torres said they are also guaranteeing safety of candidates campaigning in Regions 1, 2, 3 and Cordillera.
    “We are non-partisan, we are apolitical, so anybody who would like to come in are authorized to conduct campaign activities in our area. What we can assure and what we are committed to do is to maintain that these activities will be secured and orderly,” Torres said.
    He urged  NolCom personnel to vote and to choose the right leaders for the organization and for the country.
    “I encourage the soldiers under NolCom to find time to study and probably consult your friends or relatives, so that we can all together, collectively choose the right people who would be supportive of our campaigns,” Torres said.


RDC okays information plan to attain Cordillera autonomy

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council approved the updated communication plan 2022-2025 of the Social Preparation of CAR into an Autonomous Region (SPCAR) program during its first quarter meeting last March 9. 
    NEDA-CAR assistant regional director Stephanie Christiansen underscored the transitory nature of CAR through executive order 220 and rallied regional directors to fully support the RDC agenda on regional autonomy.
    She also presented the proposed 2022 SPCAR project list and work and financial plan which was approved by the council.
All these plans provide the basis for stakeholder engagement. 
    The communication plan was a product of a two-day workshop held on March 2-3, 2022 where stakeholders from the different regional line agencies, local government units, civil society organizations and private sectors representatives assessed the 2019-2020 communication plan and came up with a comprehensive and updated communication plan for 2022-2025 . 
    The updating of the communication plan was done to address the changing conduct of information, education, and communication activities, elections and the anticipated leadership changes.
    The updated communication plan employs a two-track overall framework for actions in pursuit of Cordillera autonomy.
    It has downstream and upstream approach that seeks to secure the approval of the proposed Cordillera Autonomy bill and its ratification.
    The downstream approach intends to raise awareness and deepen the understanding of Cordilleran voters of the need for     Cordillera autonomy through intensified IECs in barangays, municipalities, regional line agencies, civil society organizations, business, youth and other sectors.
    On the other hand, the upstream approach aims to secure the approval of the bill in both houses of Congress and the President.
    It targets to build alliances with national leaders for the advancement of the legislative process for the proposed organic act.  
    The RDC-CAR has taken on the social preparation program since 2006 through IECs to raise support among the Cordillerans, capacitation in preparation for autonomy, and building stronger alliances with national and regional 


DOT eyes Phl reopening to foreign tourists by April

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora 

The Department of Tourism is hoping the Philippines could fully reopen its doors to more foreign tourists by April of this year.
    Currently, only fully vaccinated foreign leisure travelers from visa-free countries are allowed to enter the Philippines.
    "Right now, (the Philippines is) only for 157 visa-free countries but we are hoping that by April, we will be open to all foreigners,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an ANC interview last week.
    She said the recommendation to limit leisure travelers for visa-free countries, an easing of restriction that started last Feb. 10, came from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs.
    "They wanted 'yong pa-unti-unti muna (gradual), so we started with the 157 visa-free countries. And then they told us that they are ready to accept also kasi (because) they have to open the consular services all over the world, so we hope that that will be approved and we will be able to accept by April," she said.
    From February 10 to March 8, the DOT has recorded a total of 73,178 tourists, mostly from South Korea, the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Vietnam, and Japan.
    The official said these figures are not high compared to the pre-pandemic level but they were happy about the unexpected turn of events since projections suggest that arrivals would pick up in June or during the winter months.
    “It’s not big compared to the pre-pandemic levels because pre-pandemic levels, we had about 8.28 million tourist arrivals for the whole year but we were pleasantly surprised,” she said. -- PNA


Cars with PWDS can use reserved Baguio road slots

BAGUIO CITY -- The City Council recently approved on first reading a proposed ordinance amending Section 4 of Ordinance No. 28, series of 2018 which earlier amended Ordinance No. 108, series of 2008 that regulated the use of parking spaces and blue lanes for the use of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
    Under the said proposal, Section 4.6 of Ordinance No. 28, 2018 will now read ‘Vehicles ferrying a differently-abled or other-abled person may park at the designated parking slot for differently-abled or other abled persons, provided, that the purpose of the visit to the establishment, institution or office is for the welfare of the differently-abled or other-abled person, provided further, that said differently-abled or other abled person cannot buy himself or herself drive the vehicle for reason of physical incapability.’
    Earlier, the local legislative body passed Ordinance No. 108, series of 2008 which regulated the use of parking spaces and blue lanes for the use of PWDs.
    The city declared as a policy that only persons with disabilities shall be allowed to use parking slots and pedestrian lanes, especially reserved for them.
    It shall be the duty of the police or traffic enforcer, security guards and personnel manning the parking area to see to it that only PWDs shall use the designated parking area slots.
    Based on said ordinance, persons other than PWDs who shall utilize the blue lanes and parking spaces for PWDs shall be penalized with a fine of P200 for the first offense, a fine of P500 for the second offense and a fine of P1,000 for the third and succeeding offenses.
    Ordinance 28, series of 2008 defined differently-abled or other-abled persons as persons suffering from restrictions of different abilities, as a result of a physical, mental, physical or sensory impairment, in performing an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
    On the other hand, disability shall mean either a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical function of an individual or activities of such individuals; or a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such impairment. – Dexter A. See


Gab held for Bontoc teens vs pregnancies

By Christy Mae F. Che-es

BONTOC, Mountain Province – A seminar on adolescent health and development was held in response to request of Grade 12 students here of Saint Vincent’s School-High School.
    The Bontoc local government through the Population and Development Office in coordination and provincial government conducted the event on March 9-11.
    A total of 150 high school students signed in for the activity.
    According to Population Program Officer I Elizabeth Faba-an, the activity aimed to reduce pregnancy among adolescents among other reproductive health problems to provide accurate information on nutrition and boundaries for adolescents.
Nelson Padchonga, a senior high school student from SVS said they requested the activity since teenagers like himself are more vulnerable to issues like teenage pregnancy and mental health issues.
    Padchonga expressed his gratitude to the Bontoc LGU for their positive response to their request.
    Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey commended the students for their initiative and participation in the activity.
    “Adolescents are indeed vulnerable as they are in the stage in which they go through changes. Thus, guidance coming from their families as well as the government are necessary,” he added.
    Topics discussed during the seminar included nutrition for adolescents by Nurse I Venous Faith Cofulan, prevention of teenage pregnancy, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by nurse I Aracelle Aguilba, setting healthy boundaries for teens by Social Welfare Officer III Stephanie Kanongkong, all from the Bontoc LGU, and presentation on population by Population program officer IV Eunice Andaya from the provincial government.
The activity was funded by the Bontoc LGU while technical assistance was provided by Provincial LGU.


Pacdal’s horses, bamboos summer capital’s come-ons

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Pacdal barangay and St. Francis Seminary have joined forces to marry the place’s two top attractions – horseback riding and the Bamboo Sanctuary to promote tourism and provide livelihood to displaced pony boys and other workers.
    Together with the barangay’s pony boys group, they launched last Feb. 28 the Horseback Riding Experience, a guided tour from Wright Park to the Bamboo Sanctuary, an educational demo farm offering lush and refreshing sceneries. 
    The tour may be extended to Busol watershed, one of the city’s remaining pine stands, for a forest experience on horseback.
    Tourists and residents may avail of the tour for a minimal fee by registering at the Pacdal barangay hall or calling cel. no. 09394991728.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong graced the launching where a memorandum of understanding was signed among Pacdal barangay represented by punong barangay Abraham Lagasca II, St. Francis Seminary under Rector Fr. Raymundo Songyap, pony boys association represented by Hipolito Cario and the Pacdal Police Station under P Maj. Julius Basinga.
    Lagasca said the project aims to provide livelihood opportunities for pony boys who were displaced because of the pandemic and at the same time promote barangay’s new local tourist spot to enliven tourism.
    “This is one of our barangay’s recovery programs for displaced workers and businessmen.  Let us help our pony boys and other workers get back to business again and make our tourism business live again.  So please support our program,” Lagasca said.
    Pacdal Police Station personnel led by Asst. Station Commander P Cpt. Olivia Galuzo joined the launching program and tried out the ride.
    City Planning and Development Coordinator Arch. Donna Tabangin, City Environment and Parks Management Officer Atty. Rhenan Diwas and City Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius Mapalo also conducted a simulation last March 3.


Panagbenga events boost Baguio tourism

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Panagbenga or Flower Festival events are boosting tourism in this summer capital.
    After settling for toned down themes in the past two years, the Baguio Flower Festival opened the 2022 special edition with more upbeat albeit still subdued celebration mood to usher in the city’s entry to the new normal phase of the pandemic.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Panagbenga 2022 features traditional activities like the open landscaping exhibition and competition, Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio and Session Road in Bloom but for health and safety considerations, will still do away with the crowd-drawing street-dancing and float parades.
    “In keeping with the festival’s name, the mainstay activities were enhanced to depict and inspire celebration in the blooming.  Other substantive events were added also in keeping with the theme,” he said.
    Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc.  spokesperson Andrew Pinero said the opening program on March 6 started with inter-faith prayer at the Panagbenga Park at South Drive to be led by Fr. Marlon Urmaza (Catholic), Pastor Jesus Baluyut (Protestant), Uztadh Nadhir Oquendo (Islamic), a fellow for the Christian prayer and former mayor and BFFFI chairman for Life Mauricio Domogan (Cordilleran prayer or uggayam).
    A special cultural performance by the University of the Cordillera Saeng Kasay will capped this leg.
     Program proper and ribbon-cutting ceremonies of the Panagbenga Landscaping Exhibition/Competition followed at Melvin Jones at 9 a.m.
    Domogan delivered the welcome remarks while Rep. Mark Go the inspiration message.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong presided ceremonial declaration of opening of the festival and the unveiling of the festival calendar of events.
     Intermission numbers was provided by the St. Louis University CCA Dance Troupe and SLU Marching Band.
    After the program, focus was Botanical Garden for the opening and special tour.
    The festival main events:
     *Panagbenga Open Landscaping Exhibition “Gardenscapes” – March 6-27
    *Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio (FUNagbenga ZUmba, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom Open Painting Exhiition,  Panagbenga Kite-Flying Challenge and Cultural Show) – March 13
    *Panagbenga Open Dance Competition (Cultural Dance and Festival Dance categories)—March 20
    *Session Road in Bloom – March 21-27
    *Closing Fireworks Display – March 27.
Special events:
    *Baguio Country Club Garden Exhibit (Korean and Japanese-themed gardens) – BCC Theme Park, Feb. 18 onwards;
    *9th Stage Ronda Pilipinas – Citywide and Baguio Convention Center, March 19-20;
     *2nd MontaΓ±osa Film Festival – Baguio Athletic Bowl, March 19-27; and
     *Flower Tee Golf, BCC, March 25-26.


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