Baguio City mayor hits contractors, bad projs

>> Friday, June 24, 2022

No bidders; city gov’t mulls infra implementation 

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Benjamin Magalong warned contractors here  on their substandard projects saying they will face charges from the city government if such projects are not made to conform to standards.
    In a recent meeting with the traffic management authorities and project contractors, the mayor issued an ultimatum to contractors undertaking projects to ensure safety of local folks and upkeep of their project sites. The mayor gave them until June 13 to install barriers, proper signages, and to implement occupational, housekeeping and other safety requirements in their project locations.
    Those who fail to comply will face charges of violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
    The mayor said construction companies and their men must make conscious efforts to keep their construction sites safe and tidy for the safety of passersby, commuters, motorists and even their own workers.
    “This is part of your occupational safety responsibility," he said.
    Besides, he said the negligence of some contractors reflects on the image of the city as the disorderly state of the project sites put the city in bad light.
    “When people see dirt along streets, they do not see only a dirty street but a dirty, disorderly Baguio City so please have a care,” he said.
    The mayor during an inspection thumbed down the sidewalk project along Bonifacio St. due to poor workmanship.
    “The tactile pavement is uneven while the PWD ramp is not within the standard.  They have to redo it because I will not accept the project under these conditions,” the mayor said Tuesday.
    The project is under the Baguio City District Engineering Office.
    While inspecting the whole stretch, the mayor called attention on trash on some sections and on a dilapidated post that pose danger to passersby. 
    Both had been referred to the concerned agencies.
    Since institutionalizing project monitoring and inspection before payment issuance, the city has noted vast improvement in the quality of infrastructure projects funded by the city government over the years.
    For city road and other projects funded by the Dept. of Public Works and Highways, the city is also part of the final inspection and has a say in the assessment of the outcome.
    The mayor earlier said he intends to conduct more inspections of projects all over the city to help ensure quality implementation of these infrastructures as part of the city’s thrust foster integrity in project implementation to achieve quality and beneficial outputs for the end users.
    This, as City Engineer Edgar Victorio Olpindo recommended implementing small infrastructure projects by administration to remedy bidding problems resulting to non-implementation of said projects. 
    During the management committee meeting June 6, Mayor Magalong agreed the suggestion can be the best option considering concerned departments have good track record in implementing projects.
    The mayor directed Olpindo to submit the recommendation to the city council for deliberation and adaption of revised policies on implementing infrastructure projects.
    He said this has to be addressed as soon as possible to ensure the city’s compliance in the utilization of the earmarked development funds and be at par with the standards set in the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) of the national government.
     Olpindo said the other option for projects that cannot be covered by in-house implementation is for the earmarked funds to be returned to the general fund for re-appropriation to other priority projects.
     He said a total of 66 projects programmed under the Local Development Fund from 2019 to 2021 have not been implemented after bidding procedures failed numerous times.
    “Bidding failed because of lack of takers despite multiple attempts of even up to nine times,” he said.
    Majority of the projects have a cost range of P100,000-P500,000 with piecemeal coverage like retaining walls, alleys, canals, stepwalks and the like.
    Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and some city council members in a previous meeting agreed to review procedures and adapt new recommendations to iron out the problem.
    Olpindo said they are in the process of identifying projects that can be implemented by administration and those not tenable will be subjected to re-programming.


Trader shot dead by bikers in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY — A trader was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Amulung town, Cagayan province on Tuesday, police said.
    Police Capt. Isabelita Gano, Cagayan police spokesperson, identified the victim as Ronald Quintos, who sustained a bullet wound to his body.
    Quintos was in front of his house at about 7 a.m. when the unidentified assailants arrived and shot him using a a .45-caliber handgun, investigators said.
    The victim was taken to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
    Investigators said the gunmen sped off with a backup XRM motorcycle.
    Police said they were still trying to determine the motive behind the attack.


1 hurt, 2 houses destroyed in Mt Province landslide

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Two houses were partially destroyed while a resident was injured when a mountain landslide hit a village here at Poblacion Ili early morning of June 5, disaster officials said.
    Mountain Province disaster officials said resident Danny Chamlangen was injured while fleeing from his home when soil came crashing down from mountains to houses in Sitio (sub-village) Papattay Sokok in Bontoc Ili village around 3 a.m.
    The kitchen, comfort room, and living room of Chamlangen’s house were destroyed while a neighboring house owned by Lorenzo Felwa was partially damaged.
    Affected residents included Chamlangen, Felwa, Calsiman Ofo-ob and Jerry Agnapan.
    Rescuers from the Bontoc Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Bontoc police, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, Bureau of Fire Protection and village officials immediately responded to the scene.
    Twelve people fled during landslides and evacuated to Saint Vincent Elementary School but came back to their houses before noon.
    Villagers told police they heard rumbling sound as early as 1 a.m. on June 5 but they ignored it.
    A series of howling sounds, which sent dogs barking continuously, was heard at 3 a.m. few moments before the landslide occurred.
    Probers said an old pine tree fell and hit a water pipe, which apparently triggered the soil erosion.
    Food and relief kits were given to affected families, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said in a statement.


Beneco ups power rate amid coal price surge

By Delmar Carino

BAGUIO CITY -- The Benguet Electric Cooperative board of directors recently decided Beneco will bill member consumer owners generation cost of P4.95 per kilowatt hour (kwh) amid continuing surge of coal price in global market. 
    The board directors said the rate is temporary since it can still soar. “But we wish to negotiate such interim price with our power supplier while the terms of our power supply agreement are being reviewed and renegotiated,” said lawyer Esteban Somngi, the board’s chairperson.
    The generation cost is a pass through charge which Beneco officials explained is dependent on adjustments in the global coal prices as captured in the power supply agreement inked between the electric cooperative and Team Energy.
    The generation cost is the highest among the components of the unbundled electricity bills issued to member consumers every month.
    Beneco has billed its consumers an increase in generation cost the past few months but management has convinced Team Energy to the interim rate of P4.95 per kwh. 
    Team Energy supplies Bemeco’s power requirement from its coal powered plant  in Sual, Pangasinan. Its power supply agreement with BENECO will end in 2024. 
    Team Energy earlier wrote Beneco that it could no longer hold on to the P4.95/kwh rate since the company said it could no longer sustain the cost of generating the power it supplies to Beneco due to the surging price of coal.    
    The management, led by Melchor Licoben, general manager, asked Team Energy to stick to the interim rate P4.95/kwh as any increase in generation could will surely be burdensome to the member consumers.
    Licoben will forward to Team Energy the resolution passed by the board directors in a bid to convince the power producer to be more considerate and to allow a review of the power supply agreement.
    Licoben said the agreement became grossly disadvantageous to Beneco when coal prices surged following the pandemic. 
    The global demand for coal pushed coal prices to a high of U$359 per ton early this year, threatening to increase BENECO’s generation cost up to more than P8/kwh but management batted for a lower cost.
    The board’s decision to stand pat at P4.95/kwh is meant to protect the welfare of the consumers, Somngi said. 
    “This is the least that the board can do at this point in time as the rest of the world is grappling with the skyrocketing price of coal,” Somngi said. 


Publishers: Relocation of newsstands bane to info despite online age

BAGUIO CITY – Publishers in this summer capital said the proposed relocation of newsstands in this summer capital would greatly decrease circulation of newspapers and deprive local folk of easier accessibility to news.
    They said Baguio residents, as in other parts of the Cordillera, over the years, particularly those in their middle ages and the elderly, relied on local newspapers to keep abreast of the times, even in this age of social media.
    It is also local newspapers where legal notices from the courts are published and stakeholders need to be informed about their cases, they said.      
    This, as Gloria Antoinette Hamada, publisher and chief operating officer of the Baguio Midland Courier, appealed to the city government to lay bare its concrete plan for the proposed relocation of newsstands in the city, especially those located in the central business district.
    During the city council’s regular session last Monday, Hamada requested a meeting with the City Planning and Development Office and the Permits and Licensing Division under the City Mayor’s Office to discuss what the city government has in store for the newsstands. 
    She lamented the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to the newspaper vendors and local publishers, saying relocation of newsstands will further disadvantage them. 
    “The number of newspaper deliverers has gone down from almost a hundred to only less than 30. This [relocation of newsstands] will further affect not only their livelihood but also Midland which is one of the local newspapers trying to recover from this pandemic,” she said. According to her, she attempted to convince establishments to accommodate newsstands within their premises, but only a few were willing.
    In a public consultation attended by journalists, publishers, general managers of newspaper organizations, newspaper vendors, and watch repairmen in December 2020, the city government decided to allow these vending stands in the central business district to stay in their current locations from January to June 2021 while plans for their relocation had yet to be finalized.
    The city government proposed vending structures would be relocated either within the premises of establishments willing to accommodate them or in spaces that may be identified by the city government after the conduct of a survey.
    In areas where the stands may be relocated, a .6-meter setback from the sidewalk must be observed so as to keep customers from blocking or clogging the sidewalk, allowing the smooth flow of pedestrians.
    The six-month period given in December 2020 to newspaper vendors for the relocation of their vending stands was extended four times by virtue of resolutions passed by the city council.
    With the appeal for formulation of a concrete plan, the city council yet again passed another resolution requesting the executive department to extend the said period.
    The city council likewise invited the City Planning and Development Office to attend the regular session on June 20 to give an update on the proposed plan to relocate the newsstands.  – With a report from Jordan G. Habbiling


4 Baguio SLU, UP studes, red-tagged nabbed in Tarlac

CONCEPTION, Tarlac – Police arrested two students of Saint Louis University and another two of the University of the Philippines-Baguio in a hut here Wednesday.
    A statement released by Dasig-SLU and ACS-UPB of which the students were members, said they were brought to the police station for questioning and accused by police of being armed rebels.
    The statement didn’t name the students or whether they were still detained at press time.
    Both student organizations were reportedly members of Kabataan Partylist Cordillera.
    The statement said the students were volunteers in helping farmer agrarian reform beneficiaries of Barangay Tinag of this town.     
    The students were not named in the statement.
    “Police who toted rifles surrounded the hut where the students and farmers were having a meeting, arrested, handcuffed, then brought them to the police station,” the statement said.
    “Kinukundena namin ang pandarahas at illegal na pag-aresto ng kapulisan sa mga mambubukid at volunteers ng bungkalan, at ang pambibintang nila sakanilang mga armadong rebelled (We denounce the illegal arrest of the students and farmers and their being branded as armed rebels by the police), the KPC said in the statement.


2 dead as jeep plunges into ravine in Benguet

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Two students died while another was injured after the jeepney carrying them fell into a 10-meter ravine here in Lower Tomay Wednesday, June 8.
    Killed were Rolly Quintino, 24 and Cedric Wasit, 25.
    Their injured companion was Alzimer Anton Menes. 
    Police investigation showed the victims, residents of Barangay Palew in Tublay town, came from central business area of La Trinidad and were heading home when the accident happened.
    Police said Wasit, who was driving, lost control of the vehicle and rammed a riprap wall when they reached Lower Tomay, causing it to plunge into the ravine.
    The victims were taken to Benguet General Hospital where Quintino and Wasit were declared dead on arrival, while Menes was recuperating.


Baguio council probes P20- M social welfare complex

By Jordan B. Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- Members of the City Council probed Monday the master development plan of the proposed Social Welfare and Development Complex which will house four facilities managed by the City Social Welfare and Development Office.
    The Social Welfare and Development Complex consists of the halfway home for rebel returnees, Bahay Pag-asa (formerly the Social Development Center), youth auditorium and retirement home for the elderly.
    Tabanda questioned the measurement of spaces for the halfway home for the rebel returnees and the retirement home for the elderly.
    The development plan indicates 297 square meters is set for the halfway home for rebel returnees while only 130 sq. m. for the retirement home for the elderly.
    “It would be more practical and feasible if the retirement home for seniors is bigger than the halfway home for former rebels. After all, you still don’t know how many former rebels you will cater to, whereas you have an idea how many senior citizens will benefit from the retirement home,” Tabanda said. 
    A feasibility study needs to be conducted to equitably determine the amount of spaces for each facility, she added.
    An amount of P20 million has been set for construction of the halfway home for the rebel returnees.
    Of the amount, P15 million was appropriated by the city government from its annual budget while an amount of P5 million has been provided by the Dept. of the Interior and Local Government.
    The retirement home for the elderly has starting capital of P10 million allocated by the city government from its 2022 annual budget.   
    Nestor Mestito, CSWDO representative, said construction of the halfway home for rebel returnees is on.
    He said the CSWDO will look into the possibility of re-assessing the measurements for each facility as indicated on the proposed development plan.
    Mestito said the halfway home is a dormitory-type structure which will serve as a temporary shelter for former rebels in the city and other nearby localities as they prepare to be reintegrated into the community and have a “new life” after their voluntary surrender to the government.
    Councilor Michael Lawana requested the CSWDO to provide a more detailed architectural plan of the halfway home.
    “This has a budget of P20 million. We are interested to know more about its design and amenities,” Lawana said.
    Meanwhile, Councilors Levy Lloyd Orcales and Arthur Allad-iw suggested utilizing a portion of the halfway home as a temporary shelter for vagrants in the city as part of the city government’s rehabilitation program for the homeless.
    Tabanda questioned inclusion of a youth auditorium into the proposed complex, citing a sports complex cum youth convergence center at the Athletic Bowl and a Sangguniang Kabataan center in Barangay Irisan.
    Mestito said the auditorium is existing and rehabilitated.
    The facility is being utilized for activities of young people who are clients of the CSWDO.
    Councilor Mylen Yaranon requested the CSWDO to provide the city council a list of retirees, rebel returnees, and children in conflict with the law in the city in aid of legislation. 
    The city council scheduled another forum on the matter with the City Planning and Development Office, the City Buildings and Architecture Office and the CSWDO on June 27.


2 fixers caught getting money from applicant

By Liezle Basa Inigo

CAMP GADOR, Tuguegarao City — Two fixers who offered to help an applicant land a job in a government bureau were arrested during an entrapment operation inside a restaurant on Rizal Street, Centro 7, here on June 6.
    The suspects were identified as Isabelo Villaflor Ruiz, 61, resident of Centro 1, Tuguegarao City and Anafe Dela Peña Sumacbay, 45, online seller, and resident of Bassig Street, Ugac Norte of the said city.
    They were arrested by joint elements of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit/Provincial Intelligence Unit under the supervision of Maj. Joefferson Gannaban and Bureau of Fire Protection, Regional Office 2.
    The victim, identified only as alias Albert, said he met another applicant from whom he learned about someone who could facilitate their papers that would assure them of becoming members of the Bureau of Fire Protection Office.
    Due to the victim’s desire to enter the BFP, in the morning of June 5, Albert, together with another applicant, met Ruiz and Sumacbay at Pampangueña Restaurant on Rizal Street where they discussed the amount he (Albert) would pay to ensure that he could enter the agency.
    Allegedly, the suspects, Ruiz and Sumacbay, demanded an advance payment of P25,000 from him for processing of his papers within the BFP.
    Based on police reports, Albert told the suspects he could not afford the amount.
    The two fixers /suspects reduced their demand to P10,000.
    Albert said that what he can only afford was to give wine.    
    He claimed that he instead sent an amount of P1,550 through GCash for the purchase of wine.
   Report said the victim had the chance to verify from Provincial Director Aries Atal of BFP-Isabela if this is happening within their agency in which applicants can pay a certain amount to be able to enter the agency.
    Immediately, the provincial director contacted the Provincial Intelligence Unit for immediate action.
    An entrapment operation was set.
    Upon accepting P10,000 ‘boodle money’ from their victim alias Albert, 29, authorities arrested the suspects.
    Confiscated from the two alleged fixers were Oppo cellphone and Nokia cellphones.


Sandiganbayan: Guilty; ex-Quirino gov gets 16 years for fertilizer scam

MANILA – A former governor of Quirino province has been sentenced to 12 to 16 years in prison in connection with the anomalous procurement of fertilizer worth P4.99 million in 2004.
    In a 20-page decision promulgated on June 3, the Sandiganbayan found former governor Pedro Bacani guilty of two counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
    Bacani was sentenced to six to eight years in prison for each count and disqualified from holding public office.
    The anti-graft court ordered the charges against Bacani’s co-respondents Edilberto Apostol and Kevin Apostol, manager and representative of private supplier Akame Marketing International, respectively, to be temporarily archived as they have yet to be located.
    Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the charges against Bacani stemmed from the procurement by the provincial government of P4.99 million worth of fertilizer in 2004.
    The procurement was part of the implementation of the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s farm inputs and implements program.
    The ombudsman said no public bidding was conducted for the procurement, which violated RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
    The Sandiganbayan said the ombudsman presented sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence showing no public bidding was conducted before the supply contract was awarded to private firm Akame.
    The court dismissed Bacani’s defense that it was the DA that recommended the award of the contract to the company.
    “Bacani did not present any proof showing it was the DA that recommended to award the contract to Akame,” the court said.
    Aside from the lack of public bidding, the prosecution was able to prove that the fertilizer procured from Akame was overpriced by 100 percent, the Sandiganbayan said.


Cordi peace council sets anti-marijuana top drive

P485-M drugs seized 

By Pamela T. Geminiano

BAGUIO CITY— The Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council approved anti-marijuana campaign as main program to eradicate marijuana plant cultivation and to prevent illegal drugs from reaching the region's urban areas.
    “I suggest the anti-marijuana campaign should be included in the 2022-2025 flagship program of the council so that we can focus on and develop plans and strategies to suppress the plant cultivation in potential growing areas, as well as minimize the product availability here in the region,” said Araceli San Jose, regional director of Dept. of the Interior and Local Government Cordillera and head secretariat of CRPOC during the CRPOC second quarter meeting.
    CRPOC chairman and Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong supported the proposal saying the council needs to orchestrate a permanent solution to get rid of marijuana cultivation in the Cordillera and provide solutions and livelihood to those communities that will be affected by the program.
    He lauded the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Cordillera for being relentless in its anti-illegal drug operations especially uprooting of marijuana in cultivation sites and in its drive to put a stop to the illegal drug trade.
    Based on the latest data of PDEA Cordillera, authorities seized a total of P485.36 million worth of narcotics across the region including marijuana.
    The anti-illegal drug campaign is one of the flagship programs of the Duterte administration.
    Meanwhile, Tinglayan, Kalinga mayor Sacrament Gumilab thanked the CRPOC for its move to include the anti-marijuana campaign as one of its flagship programs adding,
    “I am very happy, the RPOC recognizes the need to sit together and develop a comprehensive plan to identify the root causes and formulate solutions to address the problem,” he said.
    Mayor Magalong who served as CRPOC chairperson 2019-2022 was awarded a plaque of recognition by officials and members of the CRPOC for his “genuine commitment and dedicated leadership as CRPOC chairperson which led to the attainment of the council's goals and objectives and realization of an inclusive and sustainable peace in the region.”
    In her message, RD San Jose lauded mayor Magalong for helping to reduce rape cases and incidents by 15% per quarter, for his unwavering support for the continuation of peaceful negotiations between the Butbut and Betwagan tribes, and for preventing any election-related violence and abuses order to achieve safe and peaceful election.
    She also cited Magalong’s feat in achieving 80% target of the vaccination rate of eligible population in the region.
    "His defining leadership as vice-chairperson of the Cordillera Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) to institutionalize the whole-of-nation approach in the region and to ensure the goals and objectives of CRPOC are exemplary recognized," she said. – PTMG-DILG-CAR


‘Drug dealer’ gets heart attack while arrested

BAGUIO CITY — A suspected drug dealer suffered a heart attack while being arrested at a subdivision here in Barangay San Luis June 3.
    Half-Somali Abdullah Abdul was being served a warrant for carjacking when he collapsed. He was taken to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, where he died while being treated.
    Abdul eluded arrest during pursuit operations conducted by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in June 2020.     He later surrendered.
    He was also charged with child abuse, but freed when he posted bail.
    The rape case filed against him was dismissed after his supposed victim did not pursue the case.
    Police said the suspect was a known drug dealer in this city and nearby provinces.   


Ex-convicts yield ‘shabu’ in Dagupan City buy-bust

By Hilda Austria 

DAGUPAN CITY – Some P340,000 worth of suspected shabu was confiscated from four suspects, two of them allegedly former convicted illegal drug traders, during a sting operation outside a mall at Barangay Mayombo here on June 3.
    Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Pangasinan director Retchie Camacho identified the suspects as Roberto Maramba, Gilbert Fernandez, Eduardo Soriano, and Malaya Ganzon.
    “Based on our initial information, Maramba was released on parole from the New Bililib Prison in Muntinlupa City as well as Soriano. They were convicted of illegal drug transactions but we are still gathering more information on this,” he said in a statement.
    Maramba was the real target of the buy-bust but Fernandez was with him during the operation.
    Soriano and Ganzon delivered the suspected shabu, weighing about 50 grams, to where Maramba and Fernandez were waing, leading to the quartet’s arrest by PDEA agents who posed as buyers.
    “They are high-value targets given the amount of illegal drugs they dealt,” he said.
    Camacho said the suspects are under PDEA custody while cases are being readied for filing. -- PNA


Wider Cordi registration for marginalized sector pushed

By Aldwin Quitasol

BAGUIO CITY — The local government here and the Philippine Statistics Authority Cordillera are set to ink a memorandum of agreement in line with project Philsys Birth Registration Assistance Project for the city.
    Local Civil Registrar Luz Perez said the program aims to increase civil registration in marginalized communities, particularly those belonging to the indigenous peoples and the poorest sector.
    The aims to enhance intensified campaign in improving civil registration aligned with the three goals of the civil registration and vital statistics decade which are universal civil registration of births, deaths and other vital events.
    It includes all individuals with legal documentation to claim identity, civil status, and ensuring rights and accurate, complete and timely vital registration produced and disseminated.
    The project also aims to register those unregistered births and other civil registry documents, especially IP and the poorest sector covering all the cities and municipalities in the province and verify from the PSA civil registry system database the existence of birth and other civil registry records to avoid double or multiple registration through omnibus registration.
    It includes implementation of the Philippine Registry Information system in the conduct of mobile registration in the city for a period of one year from the data of MoA signing and register the Phil ID of the birth registrants.
    “We are targeting to conduct the mobile registration starting this third quarter of this year. We will be in close coordination with the barangays in carrying out this project,” Perez stressed.
    She pointed out that the local government can still do better and efforts should continue to strengthen the country’s civil registration and vital statistics systems to meet the goal of universal registration by 2024 — that at least 99.5 percent of all Filipinos should have their birth registered and shall be provided with the legal documentation through the issuance of the birth certificate.


Inventory of trees on to protect Busol watershed

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Inventory of trees in this watershed is on here at the critical Busol watershed as basis for protection and conservation plans of the city government for its few remaining forest reserves.
    City planning and development coordinator architect Donna Tabangin said this will become a major part of the ongoing preparation of the Busol forest management plan, updating of the comprehensive land use plan and urban regreening program, all crucial to the city's thrust to revitalize the environment and stop urban decay.
    The activity started April 27 and targeted for completion June 16 with an estimated number of 5,000 trees primarily of the Benguet Pine specie identified and tagged.
    Aside from her office, Tabangin said the activity is headed by the City Environment and Parks Management Office and barangays Ambiong, Brookspoint, East Bayan Park and Pacdal which are straddled by the watershed.
    Their representatives compose the tree inventory teams augmented by personnel of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office-Baguio, Baguio Water District and Public Order and Safety Division.
    The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources-Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (DENR-WWRRDEC) provided assistance for the city to acquire skills on measurement standards and procedures in the conduct of inventory for standing trees based on Forest Management Bureau Technical Bulletin No. 3.
    Tabangin said for the trees' protection, the teams use water-based white latex paint on the lightly scraped surface of the tree trunks.
    The Busol forest reserve is the largest potable water source in the city making it one of the centerpoints of the city's environmental preservation programs.


Online sale of banned skin lighteners still on

By Thony Dizon

BAN Toxics issued alarm following the 6.6 sale of various online shopping sites on banned mercury-laden skin lightening creams. 
    In time for 6.6 mid-year sale promos by various online shopping platforms, 17-year old student, youth volunteer and BT patroller Mary Kate V. San Juan noticed the continuous promo ads of FDA banned mercury-laden skin lightening products (SLPs) during an online market monitoring activity. 
    Skin lightening creams with mercury content are still being offered for sale, namely: 
        C Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream 
        Erna Cream
        Parley Goldie Advanced Beauty Cream
        Golden Pearl Cream
        Goree Products (Beauty Cream and Day & Night Beauty Cream)
        Jiaoli Products (Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream and Miraculous Cream)
        Szitang Products (2in1/3in1 7day/10day Whitening, and Spot-Day Night Set)
    In March 2022, the Zero Mercury Working Group, which BAN Toxics is a part of, said, “Skin lighteners still available online despite mercury findings.”
    The study revealed that high-mercury SLPs are widely available from a range of popular e-commerce platforms in 17 countries. Out of the 271 skin lightening products tested, 129 were found to have mercury levels over the 1 part per million (ppm) regulatory limit.
    The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued numerous public health warnings against toxic mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetic products from 2010 up to date.
    The regulatory agency also advised consumers to buy cosmetics products that have FDA market authorization, FDA License to Operate (LTO), and Product Certificates of Notifications.
    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health. Adverse health effects of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening creams include: kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy."
    "I am a proud BT patroller! Let us do our part, let our young voices be heard; and let us take a stand for a toxics-free future,” said Mary Kate San Juan.
    “Just like Mary Kate, we encourage the young generation to care for the environment and be a vigilant citizen who can help save lives and protect mother earth in their own way," said Reynaldo San Juan Jr., executive director of BAN Toxics.
    BAN Toxics further urged all online shopping platforms to comply with government regulations and remove the product ads of mercury-laden skin lightening creams that are already banned and prohibited by FDA.


Farmers’ coop to new gov’t: Continue Kadiwa program

By Liza Agoot 

BAGUIO CITY – A farmers cooperative on Wednesday urged the administration under President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to continue “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” program of the Dept. of Agriculture and start assigning fixed locations for its stores.
    “For us who saw it, we can say it is a good program that can be pursued and continued because it can help the farmers,” Liby Ngaseo of the Bosigan Multipurpose Cooperative based in Mankayan Benguet said in Ilocano in a phone interview.
    He said the only challenge they encountered with the program is its sustainability since the location of its stores changes regularly preventing patrons from returning to buy more supplies.
    “It would be best if fixed locations will be provided where buyers can regularly go and buy their supplies because of the schedule changes so often, the buyers will not rely on it and will have to settle with other marketing areas where they can regularly buy their produce,” he said.
    Ngaseo said the program taught them "crop programming," a system being pushed by the Department of Agriculture and the provincial government of Benguet to avoid an oversupply of certain commodities.
    It also addresses the soil fertility problem wherein farms regularly producing the same commodity leads to low-quality soil that also affects the production.
    “We have to assign specific commodities to specific farmers to that we can sustain the needs of the program where we have to regularly provide the supply,” he said.
    Ngaseo said the program helps farmers not only with marketing but also with transporting their produce.
    Dr. Cameron Odsey, DA regional director, said the concept of the Kadiwa was popularized during the time of Bongbong's father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., when centers were established to sell agricultural products at low cost.
    “Pwedeng bumili ang mga mamamayan doon ng supply nila at limited quantity para makabili at marami ang maka-avail ng murang presyo (The people can buy their supplies there at minimal quantity so that more people would also be able to buy cheap products),” Odsey said.
    He said the Kadiwa Program of Agriculture Secretary William Dar has allowed the agency to help farmers and small agriculture entrepreneurs by providing an outlet for their products, especially during the pandemic when most outlets have stopped operation.
    Aside from Kadiwa stores going around different places bringing different agricultural products, the different DA offices in the different regions have also established Kadiwa Centers within their compounds that accommodate farmers' fresh products or processed goods. -- PNA


Baguio mapping done; 600 sites set for culture projects

By Gaby B. Keith

BAGUIO CITY – This summer capital’s cultural mapping project has been completed with over 600 objects, sites and buildings identified as "worthy" of cultural landscape, Donna Rillera-Tabangin, head of the City Planning and Development Office, said.
    Rillera-Tabangin announced the project's completion during the regular management committee meeting of local officials led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong on June 7.

    The National Commission for Culture and the Arts website defines cultural mapping as "an approach used to identify, record and use cultural resources and activities for building communities, where communities map what is important to them."

    Through the conduct of cultural mapping, the local government unit and other stakeholders can identify the distinct cultural resources of their community and at the same time properly record a heritage resource for future reference.

    After conducting a validation workshop recently with various stakeholders from the public and private sectors, Rillera-Tabangin said editing is currently being done on the project's first book containing 235 objects worthy of cultural mapping. The registry book will be finished in time for its launching on or before the September 1 Baguio Day celebration, she added. Rillera-Tabangin said she hopes that an additional budget will be allocated for the project so that more books can be published containing the rest of the more than 600 identified and validated objects, sites and buildings in the city. Several local councilors who joined the validation workshop found the cultural mapping project a "truly worthy undertaking" and promised the additional budget's approval, she added. Tabangin said six City Hall personnel have already completed a short course on heritage conservation specialization conducted by the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.


17 Cordillera PNP officers awarded

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Seventeen police officers assigned in the Cordillera were awarded while two leaders from the Youth Mobile Force of Baguio-Benguet and Mountain Province chapters were recognized here Monday.
    Tabuk City mayor Darwin Estrañero, regional police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee and command group presented the awards, the regional police information office reported.
    Medalya ng Kasanayan (efficiency medal) was awarded to the chief of the Regional Finance Service Office 15 Col. Annaliza Macapinlac and PEMS Bill Capya-ao for successful financial literacy seminars they conducted which benefitted 953 PNP personnel and their families.
    Medalya ng kasanayan was also awarded to the chief of Regional Medical and Dental Unit Cordillera Col. Jessiemyr Protacio and PEMS Fe Polas for their “outstanding administrative support” to regional police  through “Alwad Salun-At” activities.
    Two Medalya ng Kasanayan were also awarded to Cpl. Jumar Manzano for being the champion in the solo performance during the Area Police Command Nothern Luzon’s Pulis Got Talent and Pulis Got Talent National Edition 2022 grand finale.
    Medalya ng Papuri (commendation medal) was awarded to the regional police office Peacemakers Band for their participation during the APC-Northern Luzon semi-finals winning 2nd runner up in group category.
    Medalya ng Ugnayang Pampulisya (relations medal) was awarded to commander of Regional Mobile Force Battalion 15 Col. Loshua Alejandro, Capt. Harrison Humiwat, SSg Dwight Alexis Supsupin and Pat. Chelly Fiayongan of RMFB 15 for services rendered as facilitators during successful conduct of “Badang Kabuhayan III”.
    Certificates of recognition were awarded to Ruth Roniela Reyes of Youth Mobile Force Baguio-Benguet Chapter and Clienteast Van Totanes of YMF Mountain Province Chapter for their support in implementation of RMFB youth programs.


Cordillera cops nab 29 wanted persons; 7 for illegal drugs

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Police arrested wanted 29 persons in Cordillera from May 29 to June 4, five more for illegal drugs on June 6 and two for the latter offense on June 7.
    Arrested June 7 were Loreto M. Brudo, 53, and Gabriel Cuevas Froline Gasmeña, 28 in Baguio and La Trinidad respectively.
    Gasmeña was arrested by police after he sold marijuana leaves worth P120 to a lawman.
    In La Trinidad, Benguet, Brudo was arrested after he sold suspected shabu worth P2,244 to a cop who acted as buyer.
    In Kiangan, Ifugao, following the arrest of a certain Tacio in a buy-bust operation on June 6, his confession led to the discovery of four grown marijuana plants and 30 marijuana seedlings worth P2,000.00 in his residential compound at Barangay Julongan.
    Meanwhile, based on records from the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division, for the week, Baguio recorded the highest number of arrests with 12, followed by Benguet with six,  Abra, five; Apayao and Kalinga with two each and Ifugao and Mt. Province with one arrest each.
    Among those arrested was Ernesto Damaso Sagucio, no. 4 most wanted person in Apayao who was wanted for rape.
    This, as regional police director Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee identified the arrested drug suspects: Dawn Marie Agudo, 32; Hesus Sandino Laygo, 27; Andrain Rodrigues, 33; Badilio Tacio, 52 and Analyn Belita 29.
    In Kalinga, Agudo, Laygo, and Rodrigues were arrested by joint operatives of the Regional PNP Drug Enforcement Unit and Kalinga police at a checkpoint in Lubuagan.
    Prior to their arrest, information was received by Lubuagan police regarding marijuana transportation using a sedan coming from Tinglayan to Tabuk City, Kalinga which prompted the immediate establishment of a checkpoint at Sitio Dinakan, Lubuagan, where they flagged down a vehicle matching the same description.
    The operation resulted in the arrest of the suspects after four tubular forms of marijuana stalks weighing more or less 4,000 grams worth P480,000 and one marijuana stalk weighing 2.5 grams valued at P300 were confiscated from the suspects.
    Meanwhile, in a buy-bust operation in Ifugao, elements of Ifugao police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested suspects Tacio and Belita after they sold marijuana leaves worth P97.20 to a lawman.


Barangay exec shot dead in Cabanatuan

By Ric Sapnu

CABANATUNA CITY, Nueva Ecija — A barangay councilman was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assailants here Monday night.
    Ronald Castillo, 51, was talking to a fellow village official when he was shot in front of the barangay hall in Barangay Magsaysay.
    Castillo was declared dead on arrival at the Wesleyan Hospital.
    His wife is captain of Barangay Magsaysay.
    Witnesses described the assailants to be wearing white shirts, according to Col. Jonas Amparo, deputy director for operations of the Central Luzon police.
    Probers have yet to determine the motive for the killing.
    The Nueva Ecija police launched a manhunt for the suspects.


24 rebel supporters return to government

BY Ric Sapnu

GEN. TINIO, Nueva Ecija -- Twenty-four mass-based supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army swore allegiance to the government here on June 3 after withdrawing their support to the CPP-NPA.
    The ceremony was a result of a special intelligence operation conducted by the military and the provincial police for the supporters of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap and Komiteng Larangang Guerrilla Sierra Madre, said Col. Jess Mendez, Nueva Ecija police director.
    As mass-based supporters, Mendez said the 24 served as contacts and couriers as well as facilitated the procurement and delivery of supplies, food and medicine to the communists.
    He said the supporters also acted as eyes and ears of the communists by monitoring the presence of government forces in a particular area and identifying possible targets for recruitment.                                         


Baguio night market fess up, explained

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government said funds generated from  slight increase in fees from operation of the popular night market here will be used for basic services where vendors will benefit from among other purposes.
    The City Treasury Office started collecting May 9 from the participating night market vendors P500 weekly regulatory fees as slots were expanded from 1.5 by 1.5 meters to 2 by 2 meters pursuant to executive order 62, series of 2022 issued on May 25.
    Marietta Alvarez, CTO supervising administrative officer and officer-in-charge of market division, said increase in weekly fees paid by the night market vendors was a product of their consensus during a meeting last May 18.  
    She said more than 80 percent of the attendees of the meeting voted in favor of the increase in the weekly regulatory fees from P350 to P500 after Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong explained to them the reasons on why the local government will be increasing fees.               
    The CTO official said the mayor was candid in informing them that the local government’s resources was already depleted because of the enormous expenses that was incurred in the implementation of the pandemic response that is why city officials requested funding from higher authorities.
    According to her, funds that will be generated will be used to augment resources set for assistance to individuals in crisis situation, medical aid among other social welfare programs, projects and activities of the local government.
    Alvarez said prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a plan by the local government to increase weekly regulatory fees to around P700 but the same was shelved because of heavy impact of the pandemic on economic activities and sources of livelihood of the people.
    She said after explaining reasons for the increase in fees, the mayor left the meeting area to allow the participating vendors to decide on the increase affordable to them.
     She said the previous regulatory fee for the night market was outdated that is why the local government decided to increase the same to a reasonable level in consultation with the concerned sectors for their recommendations on amount affordable to affected vendors. – Dexter A.  See


Kalinga 'living museum' pushed with culture law

LIVING HISTORY. Naty Sugguiyao, (left), former chief of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Kalinga, in this undated photo shows the traditional tattoo inscribed on her skin using the soot of a “saleng” (pinewood) and sugarcane juice. She said that a "living museum" with people singing, dancing, and practicing their traditions and rituals will be a more effective way of passing on the Kalinga culture to the next generation. Also in the photo are former Cordillera NCIP director Ronald Calde (center) and Ifugao NCIP director Esther Licnachan. (Photo from the FB of Naty Sugguiyao)

By Liza Agoot 

A former chief of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Kalinga on Monday suggested that the Kalinga culture be preserved not only through a typical museum housing artifacts but also through "living museums" -- or people who practice and pass on local rituals and traditions to the younger generation.
    Naty Sugguiyao, considered as Kalinga culture bearer, made the appeal two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte signed on May 24 Republic Act 11770 or “An Act Establishing the Kalinga Cultural Center and Museum in the province of Kalinga, defining its purpose and objectives and appropriating funds.”
    "There should be living museums who wear the tapis, practice the rituals that start from birth to death and the life of the i-Kalinga, persons who sing and moves the body thru the dances," he said.
    She said that Kalinga has a very rich culture revolving around weaving, pottery, rice planting, and death, among others that need to be passed on to future generations through practice and not just through mementos displayed within the four walls of a traditional museum.
    She said that while the concept of a structure for the museum is good, a living museum will be better with people not just seeing old things which are part of the culture but feel them through practice and make them a part of their daily lives.
    She said as culture bearers, i-Kalingas are responsible for passing on the traditions and culture of the province to the next generation.
    "I would go for something that is out there to be practiced because it will become more relevant and important,” Sugguiyao said.
    Sugguiyao, who is from Lubo, Tanudan town, is a "living art" herself with her body inked in traditional tattoos.
    She used her whole arm and parts of her lower neck and chest as an art canvas to depicts Kalinga culture through tattoos.
    Among the tattoo designs on her body are the "agdan-agdan" and the "inagid," which resembles a snake skin meant to symbolize protection.
    Sugguiyao said her tattoo was inscribed using the soot of “saleng” (pinewood) added with sugarcane juice instead of water.
    She said that while “Apo Whang-od” has become the most popular mambabatok or tattoo artist from Kalinga, there are many others like her in the province.
    “If I have my way, I would prefer a living museum not just a repository for the younger generation and the others who will visit the place to see, feel and experience the culture,” she said in Ilocano.
    Jail Supt. Mary Ann Ollaging-Tresmanio, warden at the Baguio City Jail Male Dorm and a native of Tinglayan, Kalinga, said in a phone interview on Monday that she wants Kalinga's “tinnulung” (the Bayanihan spirit and helping hand) culture to live on.
    “When a family loses a loved one, the community condoles by sharing the burden financially or in material things and even helps out during the wake. I want it to live on because it is a good practice among us that we want our children, especially those who are not residing in the ‘ili’ (province) to adopt,” Tresmanio said.
    RA11770 provides that the museum “shall serve as the institutional medium for the protection, preservation, presentation, and promotion of the cultural, artistic, archeological, social, historical, religious and philosophical heritage of the Kalinga land and its people in view of the richness of their legacies and of their relevance to their contemporary and future aspirations." -- PNA





Apayao pushes agro- tourism to up income

Municipal Hall of Pudtol, Apayao. 

By Leilanie Adriano 

PUDTOL, Apayao -- This small town banking on its vast forests, clean rivers, and various agricultural products to achieve sustainable development.
    In time for the 7th Pinya Festival, re-elected Mayor Hector Reuel Pascua said in an interview on Wednesday his administration is bent on stirring economic activity in the area with a greater focus on enhancing business competitiveness and livelihood development while building on support facilities to promote agro-tourism.
    Pascua said the local government unit has observed the growth of local businesses despite the pandemic as more people began sourcing their needs from the municipality.
    “People were used to traveling and they get their supply outside,” said Pascua.
    With government intervention programs, the municipality is eyeing to enhance business competitiveness in the area by constructing business trade centers and encouraging more public and private partners to invest in the town.
    But as a fourth-class municipality, the mayor admitted that the Pudtol government will be needing additional funds for various infrastructure support services for the farmers including micro, small, and medium enterprises.
    With an incoming president and vice president who used to be in local government service, Pascua is optimistic that small and underserved towns like Pudtol will be given more opportunities to realize their potential in the face of global health crisis.
    The local chief executive is thankful that its agro-tourism industry is starting to pick up.
    “We have accredited learning sites showcasing various technologies and best practices in agriculture and these are located near our tourist destinations,” said Pascua, citing harmonious working relations between the public and private sectors. 


Bontoc’s ‘healthiest places’ get awards

By Alpine L. Killa-Malwagay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The winners in the 2022 Search for the Healthiest Places in this capital were announced Monday at the municipal capitol. 
    The search initiated by the Bontoc local government, through the Municipal Nutrition Council encourages healthy environment consciousness and healthy lifestyle in communities and schools. 
    There are three categories: baranga, elementary school and secondary school.
    Winners in barangays and schools categories received P5, 000 cash prize each and certificates of recognition.
    Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey who also chairs the MNC and Municipal Health Officer Dr. Diga Kay Gomez turned over the cash prizes and certificates of recognition to winners.
    Cash prizes shall be used for health- related projects, programs and activities in respective areas. 
    In the barangay category, Tocucan headed by punong barangay Wilbert Padngaran was adjudged winner while barangays Samoki headed byPB Joseph Toyokan and Poblacion headed by PB Glenn Saavedra, Sr., came in second and third, respectively. 
    For the elementary school category, Guina-ang Elementary School (ES) led by school head Estefania Ana-ao was proclaimed winner. Mainit ES came in 2nd place and Mountain Province SPED Center headed by Mario Kolnog landed 3rd place. 
    Guina-ang National High School (NHS) under principal Grail Ayngan was winner in secondary school category.
Talubin NHS under Portia Baniswal-Ngollob grabbed 2nd place while the Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School (MPGCHS) headed by Atkinson Tudlong came in 3rd place. 
    Mayor Odsey lauded winners, participating barangays and schools for their efforts in implementation of their programs, particularly those related to criteria for said search.
    Municipal Nutrition Action Officer Venous Faith Cofulan said criteria for Search for Healthiest Elementary and     Secondary Schools included presence of sanitary toilets, hand washing facilities, dental trough and adequate water supply, number of school personnel using sanitary toilet at home, number of teaching and non-teaching personnel who are smoking, implementation of wellness program, no junk food sold in the school campus and students’ snacks are monitored.
    Criteria included well-maintained vegetation, students and school personnel practicing proper solid waste management, well-maintained drainage, absence of health hazards in the school and its premises, number of school personnel diagnosed with NCDs, decreasing prevalence of malnutrition, decrease in number of malnourished students, regular activities being conducted to address malnutrition and NCDs, implementation of anti-bullying policy, presence of health and nutrition action plan and accomplishment report, presence of organized and functional health scouts in the school with activities on health and nutrition, advocacy, capacity-building activities to students related to health and nutrition  and best Practices on nutrition. 
     Meanwhile,  criteria for the barangay category included number of smoking personnel at the barangay hall, households with backyard garden, uma or ricefield where they produce their own food; absence of health hazard in the barangay, health advocacies done by barangay to the community during meetings; households using sanitary toilets; clean pathways, roads and canals ; absence of breeding sites for mosquitos; households have access to potable and adequate drinking water; reforestation programs to include absence of forest or mountain fire; scheduled activities for clean-up drive; waste management; budgetary support for health promotion; monitoring and enforcement mechanism; presence of health or health-related policies initiated or adopted and implemented by the barangay; presence of Annual Nutrition Action Plan 2021 and Accomplishment Report 2020; low incidence of non-communicable diseases; decreasing prevalence of malnutrition in pre-school; activities initiated by the barangay staff to address health issues specifically malnutrition in children and adults; no violence against women and children; best practices on health and nutrition. 
    She added t the 2022 Search for Healthiest Places is part of the line-up activities of the Bontoc LGU through the MNC in celebration of Nutrition Month this year.
Nutrition Month is celebrated every July per Presidential Decree 491. 
     Cofulan added regular activities and programs are being conducted by the Bontoc LGU for the said celebration such as Search for Healthiest Mother and Baby; Search for the Best Performing Barangay Nutrition Council, and Nutri Song Contest. The activities are funded under the Nutrition Program Fund of the Municipal Health Office.


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