Namfrel: Proceed with Barangay, SK polls

>> Saturday, July 30, 2022


The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Wednesday, urged Congress to proceed with Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections scheduled on Dec. 5.
    In a statement, the election watchdog said despite the constitution allowing Congress to determine the term of barangay officials, it does not mean that it could postpone the polls for the nth time.
    “The Constitution allows the legislature to determine the term of elective barangay officials through legislation:     “The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law,” Namfrel said.
    “However, this does not mean that Congress should again postpone the BSKE. Notably, the law rescheduling the BSKE to December 5 only amends but does not repeal the requirement under RA (Republic Act) 9164 that synchronized BSKE be held in October every three years,” it added.
    A renewed mandate for the barangay chairman/captain and the members of the Sangguniang Barangay would strengthen efforts to recover from the pandemic and address the country’s economic woes, according to Namfrel.     It would also strengthen institutional memories of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials.
    “The barangay serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, as a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled,” it said.
    “As the level of government closest to the people, each voter should be given regularly and without interruption the right to choose the leaders they see and interact with on a daily basis,” it added.
    Namfrel also said the term of elective barangay officials shall only be for three years, according to RA 9164.         They said the term of the incumbent barangay and SK officials elected in 2018 have exceeded three years.
    “As to the matter of savings, the voice of the people is priceless. It can never be reduced to monetary terms. In addition, spending has already begun for the BSKE, particularly for procurement of supplies, forms, and paraphernalia, which Namfrel has been monitoring,” Namfrel said.


Robin pushes marijuana as alternative treatment


Alfred P. Dizon

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- I was restricted to the house most of the week due to arthritis which hit my right foot badly that walking or driving was torture.
    Not being able to go out and see a doctor, I googled the internet to get data on treatment to ease the excruciating pain and tried at least two medicines. One eased the pain a little bit, but then, as of this writing, it is like I am still being punished for all the sins I did in my life.
    I know some folks are in the same predicament about this ailment which strikes during uncertain times and wreaks mayhem on one’s schedule.
    As the google data says, I may now have to lessen my beer intake. Whew. I dread to see the day when I will find myself in a cave with an “ermitanio” who claims he has the treatment to this age-old malady and uses a carabao’s horn to suck out the deadly uric acid from my system.  
While checking the e-mail, I came across a press statement from the office of Sen. Robinhood "Robin" C. Padilla related to this ailment.
    “Sen. Padilla is pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis as a compassionate alternative means of medical treatment in the Philippines,” the statement said.
Padilla, in filing Senate Bill 230 last week, also sought expansion of research into medicinal properties of marijuana, which has been widely used as herbal medicine to treat conditions including gout, rheumatism, and malaria.
    “He also included safeguards in his bill to ensure that abuses for casual use or profiteering will be avoided,” the statement said.
    “The State should, by way of exception, allow the use of cannabis for compassionate purposes to promote the health and well-being of citizens proven to be in dire need of such while at the same time providing the strictest regulations to ensure that abuses for casual use or profiteering be avoided," the senator said in his bill.
Under the bill, medical cannabis - which refers to products such as capsules and oil, and not raw cannabis - may be used for "debilitating medical conditions" of "qualified patients."
    The bill defines "debilitating medical condition" to include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic autoimmune deficiency, diseases requiring hospice care, severe nausea, sleep disorders, mood disorders, recurring migraine headaches, and other debilitating medical conditions identified by the Department of Health through the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee.
    It designates the DOH as the principal regulatory agency that shall establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCCs) in public tertiary hospitals.
The bill provides that the DOH will also set up a prescription monitoring system and an electronic database of registered medical cannabis patients and their physicians.
    The Food and Drug Administration will test medical cannabis products, while the Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will monitor and regulate medical cannabis. Also, the DOH will issue registry ID cards to qualified medical cannabis patients.
    Meanwhile, the bill contains safeguards to prevent the abuse of marijuana, including:
* 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for qualified patients who will abuse cannabis; or give or sell it;
* 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for officials or employees of the MCCC who will dispense medical cannabis without written certifications from the certifying physician or registry ID cards of qualified patients;
* 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for those who will use falsified ID cards or S2 licenses to obtain medical cannabis;
* 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for doctors who certify and prescribe ng medical cannabis without S2 licenses or prescribe such for patients who are not qualified, or prescribe cannabis for their own use or for the use of relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;
* 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for officials or employees of the MCCC who supply medical cannabis to unqualified patients;
* 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for those who buy medical cannabis but are not authorized to do so
    Under the bill, a doctor who violates the provisions of the measure faces the suspension or revocation of his/her professional license.
    Meanwhile, the bill also provides for enhancing research and development for medical cannabis - and the training of medical cannabis physicians and pharmacists.
Some, if not most European countries and some States in the US have legalized marijuana for medical and leisure purposes. If Padilla’s bill is approved by the Senate, then maybe, I will have found an alternative cure for my arthritis.


The myth of the Yamashita and Tallano gold


Perry Diaz

RIGHT AFTER Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was ousted from power and sent to exile in Hawaii, he began plotting his return.  And he almost succeeded. 
    In 1987, Marcos planned to travel by boat and land in his home province of Ilocos Norte where he’ll be met by 10,000 of his Ilocano supporters.  
    But two Americans, business consultant Robert Chastain and lawyer Richard Hirschfield blew the whistle on Marcos’ plans when they testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs.  They played a recording in which Marcos revealed the plot to invade the Philippines.
    ″I am going to land there, I don’t care who opposes me,” Marcos said in the tapes. ″And if they oppose the landing, that is when we start the battle.”
    When asked what would happen to then-President Corazon Aquino, who was installed after the revolution,     Marcos gave this reply: “What I would like to see happen is that we take her hostage. Not to hurt her. If necessary, forcibly take her.”
    They testified that they were able to gain Marcos’ trust through their association with a Saudi businessman named Mohamed al-Fassi.  The Americans pretended that they were arms dealers who were willing to help Marcos get weapons and the money to buy them, as well as pay mercenaries who would carry out the invasion.
The Saudi business connection
Hirschfield first met Marcos during a party at his home in Hawaii in September 1986.  Marcos was intrigued when Hirschfield brought up the Saudi business connection.  A few weeks later, Marcos asked for help in obtaining a passport from another country so he could travel free from the restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Philippine governments.  Marcos also asked Hirschfield to arrange a $10 million loan from al-Fassi.
Then, during a meeting on January 12, 1987, Marcos asked for an additional $5 million “in order to pay 10,000 soldiers $500 each as a form of ‘combat life insurance.’”
Hirschfield was taken aback.  He asked Marcos if he was talking about an invasion of the Philippines.  Marcos flatly answered, “Yes.”
According to Hirschfield, Marcos had also been negotiating with several arms dealers to procure anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, rifles, mortars, and “enough ammunition for a three-month fight.”
The two Americans were able to record their conversations with Marcos by placing microphones and tape recorders inside their briefcase and in their suits.
Marcos also told Hirschfield that he owned 1,000 tons of gold worth about $14 billion, which he had hidden somewhere, possibly in the Philippines.  Hirschfield said that Marcos was vague about where the gold was hidden.  Marcos reportedly alluded that “some of it may have come from money set aside to pay Philippine veterans after World War II and some of it may have come from the Philippines’ central bank.”
Golden Buddha
In 1970, Roger Roxas, a treasure hunter, discovered a Golden Buddha when he and a friend, Albert Fuchigami, excavated a site shown on a map that was given by Albert’s father, who was an officer in the Japanese army during World War II.   The map pinpointed the location of a secret tunnel system where the Japanese had left a treasure of gold bars.
Make story short, Roxas and Fuchigami excavated the site and they uncovered a large solid gold statue of Buddha.   They ventured further inside the tunnel until they found boxes of solid gold bars.  They decided to dynamite the tunnel to hide the treasure.  They planned to sell the Buddha to buy trucks and equipment so they could come back and get the gold out of the tunnel.
Roxas took the Buddha home.  A potential buyer confirmed that the Buddha was solid gold.  Roxas then found out that the Budha’s head was removable.  Inside were handfuls of diamonds.  Roxas hid the diamonds in a closet.
News of the discovery spread until it reached President Marcos. 
Two months later, soldiers invaded his house.  Then out of nowhere the potential buyer appeared.  Roxas realized then that he’d been double-crossed.
Roxas later found out that Marcos had put a price on his head. He and his family went into hiding.  They never heard of the Golden Buddha again.  To this day, the gold bars remain hidden in the tunnel.
“Island arrest”
After the tapes were made public, the US government under then-President Ronald Reagan put Marcos under tight restriction.  He was placed under “island arrest” and couldn’t go anywhere without approval from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Save the world
In 2013, Imelda Marcos said her family was willing to share gold bars of her late husband not just to Filipinos but also to the rest of humanity, as “this will save the world.” 
Eight years since Imelda’s words, supporters of the Marcoses are betting on the dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to win the presidency in 2022 and thus end the guessing game on the lost Yamashita treasure, which has long been linked to their family.
In 2017, when asked about the fabled treasure, Bongbong told reporters, “Kung mayroon kayong mahanap, inyo na” (If you find it, you can keep it).
But then-president Rodrigo Duterte claimed that an emissary for the Marcoses had reached out to say that the family was willing to return “a few gold bars” that they had hidden away.
Today, Imelda has yet to make good her promise to return “a few gold bars.”
Tallano gold
Then there is the myth about the Tallano gold.  Believe it or not, the Tallano gold was a cache of 617,500 metric tons of gold that was purportedly deposited in the Central Bank of the Philippines to comply with requirements of gold reserves.   And this was where Marcos and a certain Fr. Jose Antonio Diaz came into the picture.   
According to some sources, the Tallano clan paid Diaz and Marcos 30% commission in gold for a total of 192,000 metric tons of gold, which made them the richest men in the world at that time.  Marcos withdrew his share of gold from the Central Bank and re-minted them “RP-CB.”  Later on, Marcos and Diaz allegedly brought their gold to Switzerland at the Swiss Bank Corporation in Zurich, Switzerland.  
Accordingly, the remaining 400,000 metric tons of the Tallano gold was deposited in the 3rd floor basement of the Central Bank Minting Plant in East Avenue, Quezon City.
Evidently, the myth about the Tallano gold was propagated by Bongbong’s election supporters, who promised that they’ll all be given P5 million each upon Bongbong’s election as president.  However, after Bongbong’s landslide victory, talks about the Tallano gold stopped.
According to history professor Francis Gealogo, former head of the Department of History of the Ateneo de Manila University, there are no historical accounts to prove these claims. “A narrative that is not factual is fiction,” he said.
According to claims of Marcos supporters, the wealth of the Marcos family came from the gold bars that were payments from the Tallano-Tagean Royal Family, a supposedly Maharlikan Empire that ruled the country. This “royal family” purportedly owned the Philippines and was among the parties that signed the Treaty of Paris.
However, it was revealed that there are no records of a Tallano-Tagean Royal Family; much less the latter’s representative signing the Treaty of Paris.  Apparently, the story was a total fabrication by Marcos supporters who dreamed of a comeback to power.
Researchers also found no Fr. Jose Antonio Diaz. Instead, his purported photos were that of a certain Fr. Antonio Aglipay but the latter was never listed as among the richest in the world.
Historians also debunked the claim that the Marcoses returned the gold bars to the Philippine government after World War II.
Gealogo also debunked the claim that Marcos Sr. withdrew and deposited gold in the Swiss Bank in Zurich, Switzerland and that the remaining 400,000 metric tons of the Tallano gold were deposited at the Central Bank office on East Ave, Quezon City.   No such thing.
But what was found out was that Marcos Sr. and wife Imelda Marcos deposited $950,000 in Credit Suisse in 1968, under the aliases William Saunders and Jane Ryan, based on the findings of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).  Historians said that the accounts show that what was deposited was not gold but stolen money from public coffers.
According to independent think-tank IBON Foundation, the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is approximately pegged at P1.87 trillion ($36.4 billion), assuming that the family just had US$4 billion in 1989. This could have inflated to at least US$38.4 billion by 2021 from interest on deposits, earnings from investments, and appreciation in the value of real properties and assets.
Now, the question is: Which would you believe: the existence of the Yamashita and Tallano gold treasure or the “ill-gotten wealth” of the Marcoses? (


SONA 2022 and the Killer EQ90


March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- According to an official in the House of Representatives, President Marcos asked those in charge of preparations to keep his first State of the Nation Address simple so the public can focus their attention on his message.
    Everyone is wondering what Bongbong will tell us in his first SONA this Monday, July 25, 2022. My guess is that we would hear him talk about food security and agriculture which he already mentioned during his first few days in office.
    The reality is that all of us want a program that would give new life to agriculture such that farmers and fishermen could happily produce food at reasonable prices if their living standards are acceptable or on the average.
    If agricultural work provides good employment and good money, this could encourage farmers to tend their farms, instead of migrating abroad to work as domestic helpers, caregivers or accept other low-paying jobs.
    Still, people with eyes glued on TV sets; especially farmers, fisherfolk and daily wage earners, would want to hear from Bongbong Marcos what he proposes to do with high prices of food and fuel.
    Naturally, no president would want these problems during his or her term of office, but these are things that are motivated by outside factors beyond their control such as the Covid-19 pandemic, wars, soaring oil prices, population explosion and climate change.
    Then maybe President Marcos would invite the private sector to invest in public projects, knowing fully well that the growth of a country is one heavy load that the government could not carry alone. Here, local governments should invite private investors to help in food production.
    Congress and the executive department knew for the longest time that farm workers are not capable of competing with other farmers in Asia and Europe because we do not have the technology and the machines.    
    That could be the reason why President Marcos Jr. last week mentioned something about improving farm inputs and irrigation systems, providing farmers better seeds and distributing pesticides and fertilizers.
    If the public-private partnership or PPP in agriculture is successful, we expect to see our farmers exporting their products soon. This situation would certainly invite more investors in food security.
    In this case, production of rice and corn, vegetables and fruits, livestock, poultry and fish improves. It follows that agricultural revenue increases and farm employment opens up, creating a situation where farming becomes a major donor to a nation’s wealth.
    I remember a time when the “Green Revolution” was taught in public high schools that had open spaces. It was fun as we were trained with the basics of gardening. For trivial reasons, this was stopped by Cory’s kind of revolution.
    Furthermore, I anticipate President Marcos Jr. to talk about constructing more roads, bridges and ports for smooth transport of products from the farm to the markets, not necessarily a continuation of the “build, build, build” project of ex-president Digong, but doing it on his own.
    PPP would be of great help in uplifting agriculture and investing in farm to market accessibility. Here, the government could save money that it could allot for the health, education and social welfare sectors.
    To me, all of the above are meant to alleviate poverty in the rural communities, where employment becomes available and makes living conditions more acceptable. At the same time, the farm produces more food.
    This will be the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in 2020 that all 315 members of the House of Representatives and 24 senators will be face-to-face with each other. Prior to that, congress will open session at 10 AM on Monday where Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a first cousin of the President, is expected to be elected Speaker.
    By Monday morning too, we will know if Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers will steer the floor as the new majority leader as Romualdez assured lawmakers that their parties will equitably be represented under his term, a time-honored tradition.
    His term will also follow the seniority system, merit and experience, and the initiative to make the sacrifice and hard work needed for each of the positions. Any chairmanship for a questionable solon in the Cordillera?
How easily we forget. This year, I did not hear anyone from city hall talk about the “Killer Earthquake of July 16, 1990” (Killer EQ90) or its 32nd anniversary. The day before the anniversary of the Killer EQ90 is the fourth anniversary of the Cordillera provinces when they were again lumped into a single region.
    The Killer EQ90 is worth recalling because it took 2,412 lives and injured 3,513 individuals; destroyed 98,574 houses and 200 schools; erased 56 roads and 30 bridges from the map, and taught people to kneel and pray.  
    The shaking lasted for about 45 seconds which left an estimated $369-million worth of damages. An estimated total of 283,087 families or 1,594,040 individuals were adversely affected according to a report by the United Nations disaster team.
    The strongest earthquake with a magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale that occurred at 4:26 pm on a Monday was due to strike-slip movements along the Philippine Fault and the Digdig Fault within the Philippine Fault System.
    The epicenter was near the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija, northeast of Cabanatuan City. The earthquake hit Northern and Central Luzon. The most affected areas were the cities of Baguio, Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija, and Dagupan in Pangasinan.
    By October of the same year, the government targeted a reconstruction and development program. The roads leading to Baguio were cleared while some business establishments such as restaurants and dry goods centers, including the public market reopened.
    Today, we no longer see scars of the Killer EQ90 as everything that has been destroyed has been restored, except for the deaths of thousands. And some brains that were also shaken violently in 1990 have not recovered until now.


Baguio market anomaly probe /Making private cars irrelevant


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Benjamin Magalong appealed to market vendors for cooperation in the ongoing investigations on anomalies involving market fees.
    In a letter dated July 20, 2022, the mayor asked merchants to come forward and submit available copies of official receipts for their arrival fees or “kwartais” covering the period January 2020 to present.
    “Your cooperation is very much needed to ferret out the truth in this ongoing investigation.  If proven true, this practice of anomalous filling-out of Accountable Forms (AF) 51 by revenue collectors had been depriving the city government of the collection of lawful fees that could have been used for public service,” the mayor said.
    He said the ORs from the vendors will enable the city government to compare the original with the duplicate or triplicate copies and establish the integrity of amounts collected.
    OR copies may be submitted to the Baguio City Police Office with the assurance that “any information gathered from (the vendors) will be treated with confidentiality.”
    The mayor said investigations had so far revealed that the employees manipulated the amounts reflected in the duplicate and triplicate copies of the receipts being submitted to the city treasury to make it appear that they collected lower fees than the actual amount collected that is reflected in the original OR.  The excess amounts had not been remitted to the city coffers. 
    As a result of the investigation, a total of seven personnel of the market division under the City Treasury Office have so far been charged of malversation through falsification of public documents and falsification.
    The mayor said more cases are expected to be filed as investigations continue in the coming days.
 The city government is pursuing its plan to modernize the city’s public transportation system with the goal of making private car usage irrelevant, according to Mayor Magalong.
    The mayor said the city is open to offers for smart mobility and transportation system ventures through public-private partnership scheme.
    One company, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), which served intention to submit an unsolicited proposal on the PPP project  briefed the mayor and other department heads last July 18 on the partial results of the feasibility study it is conducting on the venture.
MPTC vice president Mark De Leon and Mobility Road head Leong Hin Cheong of ST Engineering (STE),     MPTC’s consultant, presented updates on the financial and technical studies they are conducting.
    They said that if the venture materializes, it will be the first of such project to be implemented in the country.
    The mayor tasked the company to present initial findings to stakeholders in the city particularly the transport groups, tourism and business sectors, commuters, city councils and other groups in appropriate engagements.
    “This is to properly explain to the stakeholders and the public what smart mobility and transportation system, its concepts and dynamics.  It will be best if people have an understanding of the project before the PPP process takes off,” he said.
    The stakeholders’ engagement and subsequent presentation to the city council have been set for August. 
    The mayor said the smart mobility goal is aimed at providing long-term solution to the city’s perennial traffic problem by modernizing the public transport system to make it so efficient that people would have reduced need to use private transport.
    He said that with the modernized system, traffic will be managed by an integrated artificial intelligence (AI)-powered system that will monitor traffic conditions and direct solutions to ensure equitable distribution of public utility vehicles.
    A command center will oversee the traffic conditions in areas including intersections and staging areas through tracking systems to ensure that vehicles are available where they are needed.
    Aside from addressing traffic congestions, the program will also cover management of traffic violations and improve road discipline.


Anemia is not low blood pressure


Victor Romulo Gallardo Dumaguing, MD

If there are two terms in the medical world that are often mistaken for the other, it is anemia and low blood pressure, so that even schooled and educated professionals may use these two words interchangeably thinking that their listener gets their message. It’s highly probable that aggressive advertisements on the trimedia, especially television may have added to the confusion. This column wants to share its one-cent worth of statement with the hope of clarifying the issue.
     A quick look at blood pressure; factors that affect it are cardiac output and total peripheral resistance. Cardiac output in healthy adults is 5 liters of blood circulating in the entire body, which is the product of stroke volume-amount of blood ejected by the heart for its every contraction 70-90 ml; and heart rate normal 60-100 beats per minute. Thus if a person has heart rate of 70 multiplied by stroke volume of 70 would be 4900ml, close to the normal 5000ml cardiac output. From this equation, anything that increases heart rate-anger, fear, pain, would automatically increase the cardiac output raising the blood pressure. Total peripheral resistance is the force exerted on the walls of blood vessels, particularly arteries, with vasoconstriction being balanced by vasodilatation mechanisms. When one is angry the so-called sympathetic nervous system is activated flooding the entire body with hormones adrenaline and nor-adrenaline leading to stronger, faster heart beats and massive vasoconstriction increasing total peripheral resistance, thus BP goes up.
     Everybody wants to hear his/her blood pressure is 120/80; with some slight but not clinically significant variations during the day. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology put the ceiling of normal blood pressure at 140/90mmHg while the European Society of Cardiology has a stricter criterion at 135/85mmHg. Medical practitioners all over the world, Filipino doctors included adhere to these guidelines.
     The numbers for the diagnosis of low blood pressure is more difficult to quantify. Females of the same age, and weight as their male counterparts generally have a lower blood pressure with their systolic readings in the range of 100-110mmHg with a diastolic pressure of 70-80mmHg. It’s not surprising even for a petite skinny lady to have a 90/60 blood pressure without having any signs and symptoms. My cardiologists-friends though say that anything lower than 90/60 should be taken seriously
     Anemia has nothing to do with blood pressure. Standard medical textbooks and hematologists-blood specialists- define anemia as “low red blood cell count, low hemoglobin count or both.
However from a strict clinical standpoint, anemia’s signs and symptoms-pallor/paleness of the conjunctiva of the eyes and other mucous membranes of the body, nail beds, palms; easy fatigability,
Fast heart rate with occasional palpitations, chest pains- are due to low hemoglobin, the protein in the surface of red blood cells that carry life-giving oxygen to the different cells of the body and a carrier of carbon dioxide from the cells to be eventually expelled in the lungs. This is not to diminish the role of the red blood cell count. However, it must be emphasized that patients with COPD-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease- common among long-standing heavy smokers who now have pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis; in fact they have what is called polycythemia- an excess of red blood cell not accompanied by a proportionate increase in the more important hemoglobin carrier of oxygen, a situation which adds another problem because of hyper viscosity- increased thickness of blood which exerts additional burden to the pumping role of the heart
     Dizziness and lightheadedness are symptoms common to both patients with anemia and low blood pressure. The brain needs a constant steady supply of cerebral blood flow- 750 ml per minute, which obviously may not be supplied if the blood pressure is low especially in the upright position.
And even if blood volume is adequate, if it is not loaded with oxygen-carrying hemoglobin as in the case of anemic individuals, then dizziness is a frequent symptom. Remember just how oxygen-dependent the brain is; during CPR –cardiopulmonary resuscitation- the primary concern is to prevent the 6 minutes anoxia or
Continuous no supply or oxygen to the brain cells, to avoid making the patient going into vegetative state.
      So dear readers, I hope you don’t join some smart-alecks who would tease or taunt or laugh at someone who say he is both hypertensive and anemic at the same time. It’s very possible that the patient has both high blood pressure and at the same time quite low in his red blood cell/hemoglobin count.
Next Week: Different Types of Anemia


DSWD to remove 1.4 million families from 4Ps; P15-B for others

Pola Rubio

Around 1.3 million Filipino households will be removed from the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) after “graduating” from extreme poverty, according to Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Sec. Erwin Tulfo.
    During the third Cabinet meeting of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday (July 19), Tulfo reported that DSWD plans to delist more than 25% of the 4.4 million beneficiaries of the poverty reduction program, which provides cash to the poorest of the poor families.
    The delisting will free up P15 billion for other qualified persons according to MalacaƱang.
    Tulfo told reporters that the DSWD received a “marching order” from Marcos to review the program after receiving reports of unqualified beneficiaries.
    “It was his marching order to clean the 4Ps list because of the complaints he received and also what he reads on social media. The President is also active on social media,” Tulfo said in mixed Filipino and English.
    The official also said that the department is also currently investigating 600,000 more households to determine whether they were still qualified to benefit from the program.
    “If you are poor, you continue to stay as 4Ps (beneficiary). If you are non-poor, we have to take you out,” he said, citing that the DSWD defines poor as those whose incomes are not enough to feed their families.
    He said families are no longer qualified under the program if their children have already graduated, have found work, or are engaged in business.
    “They can survive day-to-day and then their children, they may have graduated [from school] so they are no longer qualified,” the DSWD chief said.
    Tulfo added that the President looked surprised when he heard the plan, which was initially his order.
Qualified beneficiaries of the program include farmers, fishermen, homeless families, indigenous peoples, those from the informal sector, and those living in isolated and disadvantaged areas, especially those without electricity.




Richard Kinnud

Roads turned into a raging river.  Mudflows and strong water current pushed motorbikes, tricycles, and automobiles or made boulders bump onto them.  A building under construction became a waterfall after flood entered its floor levelled with the road-turned-river.  These scenarios of a deluge happened right at the middle of known tourist spot, Banaue, Ifugao on an ordinary day last week.  Social media platforms immediately beamed these state of affairs to the world.  News organizations picked it up.  And the surge of information triggered several and varied reactions.
    “Wahna ne di immabbalana!” expressed an elderly of what might have been the root of the unordinary happening while we were watching while it was flashed live on Facebook.  “There is some commiseration to something that happened.”  This is the nearest direct translation of that statement.      “Immabbal” is an Ifugao concept wherein unusual occurrences, such as this deluge which according to some is a first of its kind in that vicinity in recent memory, during a wake for a person especially if it is on the initial days of the vigil, is understood as a way by which unseen beings or worlds other than the human world commiserates with the relatives of the deceased.
    “So what should be done?”  I asked.
    “If it’s true then it will certainly be felt by the parties concerned.  In the olden times, the party should be performing a ritual,” was the answer.  Underlying the conversation of course was just an assumption that “wahna di immabbalana” implying that we do not know of any wake happening in the vicinity of the disaster.
    That incidences are often caused by the otherworldly or the mystical is something that many would find invalid nowadays.  It is thus not surprising that rare it is to read a reaction on social media or in the news that the deluge was an act of unseen spirits or of mystical worlds that co-exists with human.
    The more frequent rejoinders were that it is a result of people’s activities.  Some cite the unplanned mushrooming of houses where nothing is supposed to be built.  Others blame government projects that may have caused blockages of canals and culverts.  And many pointed to people not caring about the environment such as the case of cutting of trees to be sculptured into artifacts for tourists and for other purposes.
    There were also those who said that this is simply a natural happening.  And the weather authorities of course agreed saying that there was heavier downpour than the usual.  But then again it boils down to the scientific explanation that the more torrential rainfall is caused by more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere that of course is mostly attributable to destructive human-activities, one of which is deforestation.
    Some have wondered what happened to time-honored cultural practices that produced what used to be known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Is it not time to go back to the “muyong system”?  This was one comment on social media that somehow struck me.  The muyong system, if we may call it so, in a simple way of understanding is that manner of stewardship in which a household who inherits from forebears a forested land is charged with the responsibility of taking care of it including not converting it into a residential area or allowing it to be destroyed by others, instead should replace trees that may have to be cut for valid purposes.   It struck me because I think people still let their heirs have “muyong” but the concept of stewardship may have changed to ownership.  And when you own a thing, you can just do anything of it. 
    But would it be right to blame people of the bad experience they may have had?  My thoughts went back to “immabbal.” Granting that it is “immabal”, the old belief is that something has to be done.  If I have heard my elderly right, the term is “onnongan.”  This can be directly translated as “to make it right” or “to pacify” or “to respond.”  Soon, my thoughts conceded that it should be the same if it is a natural occurrence or a man-induced occurrence.  Parties involved had to respond, to pacify, or to make right whatever is wrong.  This should include indeed a people’s review of what may have been done in the past to mitigate unusual occurrences this such as going back to stewardship of land.  This is a good human way of commiserating (umabbal) to this thing that happened in this time.


Involving the whole man


Fr. Roy Cimagala

I AM referring to our relationship with God, as well as with everybody else. As much as possible, we should involve our entire humanity, and not just part of it, as in, we deal with God only spiritually and not bodily, only intellectually and not emotionally, etc.
    We are reminded of this truth of our faith in that gospel episode where Christ “complained” about people who “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” (cfr. Mt 13,10-17)
    As that gospel narrates, the reason why Christ used parables instead of using a more direct language is because the heart of the people has grown gross. “They will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted,” Christ said.
    In other words, the reason why the people failed to see and to understand what Christ is telling them is because they do not want to be converted. This is also the problem that many of us have. We need to be aware of this predicament and try to do something about it.
    We really need to have a burning desire to be with God and with everybody else for us to be able to involve our whole humanity in all our relationships. Without that desire, which will also require the grace of God, we would not go all the way in dealing with God and with others. For all that we do that may appear as if we are doing a lot for God and for others, we would just end up indulging on ourselves or simply affirming ourselves.
    We need to discipline ourselves so as to involve our whole being in all our relationships. We always have the tendency to be fragmented and distracted, especially nowadays when we have a lot of things, a lot of novelties that can attract our attention at the expense of giving due attention to God and to others.
    For this, we need to pause and do some spiritual exercises so that our belief and love for God and for others would really trickle down to our senses. In this regard, we have to give due attention to the need to educate our emotions and passions also.
    As the Catechism tells us, our emotions and passions are “natural components of the human psyche; they form the passageway and ensure the connection between the life of the senses and the life of mind.” (1764)
    Our emotions and passions therefore serve as a link between our body and soul. They are where we materialize what is spiritual in us, and spiritualize what is material in us. As such, they create a rich texture in our lives. They create the consistency proper to us as a person and as a child of God. They also help to give focus on our judgments, modulate our will, and add sensitivity to our reasoning.
    In other words, they play a decisive role in achieving a happy and fully human life. They contribute to achieving the full potentials of our humanity. But given the wounded condition of man, our emotions and passions need to be purified and thoroughly educated.
    They should not be allowed to just develop at the instance of our hormones and instincts, for example, and the many other blind or short-sighted impulses and trends in our social, cultural, economic, or political environment. They need to be reined in, to be guided and given direction.
    This is how we can aspire to involve our whole being in our relationship with God and with others.


Team Lakay donates smart TV, education materials to Benguet Nat’l High School


Carlo Quinto

Team Lakay isn’t just the home of martial arts warriors, the famed gym is also the stable of natural teachers.
    This past week, former ONE lightweight world champion  Eduard Folayang spearheaded Team Lakay’s donation drive to Benguet National High School. Team Lakay collaborated with ONE Warrior Series and donated a 70-inch Android smart TV, a futsal set, a whiteboard, and a slew of educational toys to the school.
    Folayang, together with his teammates at Team Lakay, turned over the equipment to BeNHS principal Nestor O. Dalay-on.
    According to the school, BeNHS Special Education Teacher Mercy O. Gorospe purposely solicited the items for the school’s SPED students.
    Also in attendance for the donation drive are ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario, Lito Adiwang, Edward Kelly, and Jeremy Pacatiw.
    Team Lakay Foundation representatives Rogelio Capan and Jayvie Espada also attended the event.
Folayang, a career martial artist, is also one of the most learned individuals on the ONE Championship roster.
    The 38-year-old is a licensed teacher with an education degree from the University of the Cordilleras in 2008. After passing the Licensure Exam for Teachers, Folayang taught English and Physical Education.
    While he’s stepped away from the classroom, Folayang is still very much involved in the education process albeit in a non-conventional way.
    Fondly called “Manong Ed” by his teammates and friends, the MMA legend is one of the most important voices in Team Lakay and he uses his influence to guide his younger teammates in life.
He may not have a match lined up yet, but he’s keen on watching ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash on July 22 with the event broadcasting live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.


Multi-million Baguio market racket found

>> Thursday, July 28, 2022

5 city gov’t employees charged; more to follow 

BAGUIO CITY -- More cases are set to be filed against city public market employees  in  what Mayor Benjamin Magalong described as a long-time syndicated corruption involving city market employees and merchants leading to embezzlement of public funds worth millions of pesos.
    The mayor made the warning as five employees of the City Treasury Office assigned at the city market were charged of malversation through falsification of public documents and falsification by public official on July 20 for padding receipts of collections from arrival fees or ‘kwartais’ at the city market.
    The five employees allegedly pocketed most “arrival fees” paid each day by traders delivering meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables sold at the city public market.
    The fees were collected for unloading and delivering goods sold in the market.
    Revenue collector clerks Noel Flora, Benjie Chocyogen, Randy RicaƱa, and Gerald Rimando are facing multiple counts of malversation through falsification of public documents and falsification by a public official in the complaint filed before Prosecutor Conrado Catral Jr.
    A fifth employee, Jonathan Lubina, was included in the complaint as an accomplice, for being “remiss in his duty and for repeatedly signing falsified reports, thus making him an accessory to the crime.”
    These employees have yet to issue statements on the allegations.
     The malversation and falsification case against the city employees was filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office by the Baguio City Police Office represented by City Director Glenn Lonogan and Supervising Administrative Officer Marieta C. Alvarez in behalf of the city government.
     The suit stemmed from results of the investigation initiated by the mayor on the alleged connivance involving revenue collectors and supervisors to steal from the market fees collected, among which the arrival fees from merchants to allow them sell their goods as provided under the city’s Tax Code.
    “Halimbawa, ang siningil nila sa merchant ay P4,000 pero ang naka-reflect sa duplicate copy ng resibo na isusumete sa City Treasury ay P70 lang, ibinulsa na nila yung iba,” Magalong said.
    Magalong said four more employees would be charged this week.
    The mayor said a similar case was filed three weeks earlier and another case is being prepared against four more collectors as investigations go high gear to ferret out the truth.
     As this developed, the mayor said the city government has launched another investigation this time on the illegal transactions inside the market particularly on the sub-leasing of market stalls which is prohibited under the city’s Tax Ordinance.
    The mayor said the probe started earlier in May when one merchant brought his receipt and asked for verification of the fees paid. 
    A review of the duplicate receipts was conducted by the City Treasury Office through Alvarez as the head of the market office and discovered discrepancies in the amount indicated in the original receipts from the duplicate copies.
     This prompted the mayor to order a review of all duplicate receipts covering year 2020 until June 2022 which yielded similar findings. 
     The mayor said that based on the findings, it can be assumed that the city government had lost up to P50 million in total revenues from the arrival fees alone.
     “Matagal na ito na nangyayari sa public market at tuloy-tuloy ang ating imbestigasyon kahit pa sa mga nagretire na at dating empleyado.  Sigurado ako lalabas lahat ng ebidensya at hindi sila makakatakbo. Sana makasuhan silang lahat at makulong sa dami ng ninakaw nilang pera ng gobyerno,” Magalong said.
    Alvarez said discrepancies between recorded earnings and original receipts kept in city archives were discovered after they did a review.
    Alvarez said the suspects tried to conceal the theft by padding receipts.
    She said her review covered accounts dating back to 2020, upon the mayor’s instructions.
    The missing income has been too high not to have been noticed by local accountants, Magalong said, adding, more employees may be involved in the scheme which spanned 10 years or more.
    He said about 20 employees were suspected of being involved in the racket, although evidence suggests malversation may have begun much earlier.
    A revamp of the collection team members overseeing market revenues is taking place, Magalong said.
    “We will also require digital payments from merchants,” he said, noting that this would keep better records of market transactions.
    “We first detected this scheme in 2019, but it stopped. They resumed but they were more brazen this time,” Magalong said.
    He said a trader, for instance, would receive a receipt indicating he paid P3,000 but the receipt submitted to the treasury showed the payment was only P120.
    “Or there was a payment of P6,000 but the padded receipt turned over to the treasury shows payments of P4,290,” Magalong said.
    One collector submitted a receipt for P70 but actually received P4,000, he added.
    Baguio vendors were unaware of the scheme and were made to believe they paid their obligations in full, Alvarez said.
    Magalong said the treasury employees in the complaint collected huge amounts of money through the city’s “kwartais” system but they reflected different amounts on the city’s official receipts.
    Magalong cited another example where when stall owners in the public market pay P3,000, the employee who collected the amount will write only P20 on the receipt.
    He said the practice was being done for a long time and it had been a corrupt tradition of erring public servants that cost the city millions and even billions of pesos worth of revenue.
    Magalong said they already caught one before in 2019 and this time, it is of larger quantity.
    Earlier, two employees of the same office had already been charged. Magalong vowed that more cases are expected in the coming days.
    The public market was one of the first institutions put up by the American colonial government after it built and chartered Baguio City in 1909.
    It is the subject of a modernization plan as part of Baguio’s redevelopment. – With reports from JMPS/APR


DILG warns LGUs, execs against ‘agents’ accessing infra funds

By Pamela Mariz T. Geminiano

BAGUIO CITY— The Dept. of the Interior and Local Government Cordillera warned local government units and local chief executives against individuals/groups who introduce themselves as agents or personnel of the Dept. of Budget and Management (DBM) conveying assistance to expedite access to the Local Government Support Fund-Financial Assistance to Local Government Units (LGSF-FALGU) and other national government funding in exchange of favors, commissions or fees.
    "We are urging our local governments to avoid dealing with any fixer, scammer, or third-party entity and instead direct their letter requests to the Office of the Secretary of DBM," DILG Cordillera Regional Director Araceli San Jose said.
    Local roads, bridges, public markets, slaughterhouses, multi-purpose buildings/halls, multi-purpose pavements, drainage canals, sea wall/river wall, water system projects including level 1 stand-alone water points, evacuation centers, public parks, fish ports, and post-harvest facilities are among the infrastructure and other projects covered by LGSF-FALGU.
    "To our LGUs and the public, let us all be cautious and vigilant of such schemes and avoid getting involved with these groups or giving monetary considerations to them as some are even posing as government officials," San Jose said.
    Meanwhile, DILG field offices were urged to issue necessary guidance and advisories to help LGUs avoid transacting with these unscrupulous individuals/groups.
    The DBM earlier received reports that "third parties or fixers" were attempting to handle fund requests of barangays in exchange of P200,000 if a fund request was granted.
    "Our city, municipal local government operations officers are directed to coordinate with the LGUs to prevent the recurrence of such incidents and will report them to the appropriate authorities," she said -- PMTG/DILG CAR


Rep Dalog files bills to convert roads, link Cordillera to regions

QUEZON CITY –Rep. Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. of the lone district of Mountain Province, filed seven bills in the Lower House bills to convert provincial, municipal and barangay roads in the province into national roads when         He assumed office as second-term congressman on June 30 and July 1.
    These house bills, he said, will guarantee enhanced inter-regional, inter-provincial and inter-municipal linkages that will contribute to development of remote villages in the province including neighboring provinces and regions traversed by said road networks.
    House Bill 1045, which seeks to convert the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur Road via Dacudac-Pilipil Road is a road line currently classified as a provincial road starting from the junction at Barangay Guinzadan Central, municipality of Bauko, traversing barangays Cagubatan, Pandayan, Bana-ao, Lenga, Dacudac and Sayapot all in the municipality of Tadian and exiting to the municipality of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur.
    If approved, this will reduce travel time from both provinces, as well as improve connectivity between Cordillera and the Ilocos Regions.
    House Bill 795,  converting Besao, Mountain Province-Tubo, Abra Road will benefit three provinces namely: Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur and Abra as it will  improve the lives of the people residing in the villages and municipalities covered by said provinces, particularly  on trade and commerce, access to various destinations, socio-economic advancement, agriculture, tourism industry and even health considering that the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital, which is the nearest Level II medical center from the municipality of Tubo, Abra is located in Abatan, Bauko.
    House Bill 1046 will link Mountain Province and Ifugao through Natonin and Aguinaldo, which is the shortest and quickest route for farmers from the eastern municipalities of Mountain Province who choose the province of Ifugao to transport and trade their agricultural produce.
    House Bill 449 will convert the Sabangan-Sagada Road which starts from the Junction at barangay Supang passing through barangay Data, both in the municipality of Sabangan, exiting through Barangays Taccong, Suyo, Balugan, Ankileng and leading to various tourism destinations in the municipality of Sagada, Mountain Province. It is also an alternate route over the Dantay-Sagada National Road and is the shortest passage way for travelers and visitors coming from Baguio, Manila, Benguet, Ilocos Sur and other provinces as it links to the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur National Road.
    House Bill 797 Paracelis-Mallig-Roxas Road will connect two provinces and two regions, particularly Mountain Province of the Cordillera Administrative Region and the Province of Isabela, Cagayan Valley while House Bill 798, seeking to covert the Paracelis, Mountain Province-Mallig Isabela Road (Paracelis-Tabuk-Mallig Road) will likewise link Mountain Province and Isabela, improving the trade and commerce between the two provinces.
    Meanwhile, the Maba-ay – Abatan Road under House Bill 447, is a measure refiled from the 18th Congress. The DPWH Central Office has affirmed the said road is meritorious for conversion into a national road on December 27, 2019. It traverses barangays Maba-ay, Tapapan, Guinzadan and Abatan in the municipality of Bauko, connecting to the Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur Road.
    It is also a major road line as it passes through the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital, the lone regional hospital in the Cordillera and serves as a substitute road whenever the Baguio-Bontoc Road is closed due to natural calamities.
    Rep. Dalog, in an interview said all these roads, if nationalized will certainly provide essential investment for socio-economic growth and efficient movement of goods and people, thereby increasing the competitiveness of Mountain Province and the provinces encompassed by the road connections especially the farmers who rely on agriculture as their primary means of livelihood.
    He said road conversion will bring significant social benefits to the people of Mountain Province, hence its vital importance to make the places grow and develop through access to employment, social, health and education services.


Kalinga high power rates hit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Gov. James Edduba pushed for an investigation on power charges billed by Kalinga-Apayao Electric Coop. (Kaelco) the past months questioned by provincial consumers and officials.
Edubba said the more than P16 per kilowatt-hour power rate of Kaelco might be the highest power rate in the country.
    He said this was questionable considering burden it poses on consumers in the province.
    “The prevailing high power charges of the rural electric cooperative needed to be investigated not only by local officials but even regulatory agencies to ascertain where the problem lies and find solutions,” Edduba said.
    The provincial chief executive said businessmen were also complaining about increase in their power bills and wanted Kaelco to explain its high power rates.
    Earlier, Vice Gov. Jocel Baac said he will head an energy summit this month.
    He added he wanted to look into the matter and get recommendations from stakeholders to address the issue.
    Baac said regulatory agencies such as the Dept. of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Electrification Administration should have stop-gap measures once power rates of private power distribution utilities go beyond prescribed threshold.
    He added Kalinga was a potential source of renewable energy such as solar, geothermal and hydro because of the existence of these in various areas around the province.


Man drowns in P’sinan deep well

By Liezle Basa Inigo

SAN FABIAN, Pangasinan -- A 42-year old farmer was fished out of a deep well here in Barangay Tocok Monday, July 18, a police report said.
    Police said around 9:50 p.m. of July 18, Kristina Tercias, 46, came to San Fabian Police and requested to put into record the incident that transpired on July 16.
    The police quoted Tercias who said her husband Efren Tercias was found in a deep well.
    He was rushed to Region 1 Medical Center Dagupan City, Pangasinan but was pronounced dead on arrival.
    She narrated to the police that her husband was trying to irrigate their rice field.
    “Marahil sa pagod napaupo sa tabi ng deep well at posibleng naidlip saka nahulog (The victim may have sat beside the deep well, and possibly fell asleep and fell in the deep well),” a police report said.
    Since there was no one to help, the victim did not survive.


P’sinan mayor hit for allowing trikes on roads

By Leander C. Domingo

MANGALDAN, Pangasinan – The mayor who signed an executive order that allows tricycles and pedicabs to pass along national roads here is under fire for allegedly going against a national law, a memorandum circular and an ordinance.
    Mayor Bonafe de Vera Parayno signed executive order 01, dated July 1, 2022, allowing tricycles and pedicab drivers to use the Rizal Avenue national road, a portion of the Pangasinan-La Union highway and a major artery connecting the town to adjoining municipalities.
    However, under the Dept. of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum circular 2020-036, all local chief executives are ordered to strictly implement the ban on tricycles, pedicabs and motorized pedicabs on national highways.
    The DILG memorandum circular also ordered creation of a tricycle task force that shall draw up a tricycle route plan in their areas.
    The EO may have also violated Republic Act 4136 or the "Land Transportation and Traffic Code" and the prior DILG memorandum circulars 2007-11, 2011-68 and 2020-004 that also prohibit tricycles and pedicabs on national roads.
    Earlier, the Sangguniang Bayan of Mangaldan passed municipal ordinance 2021-14 prohibiting tricycles and pedicabs to ply along national roads in Mangaldan, particularly on Rizal Avenue.
Parayno has also reportedly ordered police and traffic enforcers in Mangaldan to allow all tricycles, pedicabs and other slow-moving vehicles to pass along the national road.
However, Lt. Col. Arnold Montesa, Mangaldan town chief of police, noted that the Philippine National Police will only enforce existing traffic laws, ordinances and other legal issuances of authorities.
Montesa said because of his stand, the town's leadership reportedly stopped providing fuel allocations and other assistance to Mangaldan PNP.


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