Cordi activists file RTC petition vs terrorist tag

>> Thursday, December 7, 2023


By Aldwin Quitasol

BAGUIO CITY - Four Cordillera activists tagged “terrorists” by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) filed a petition at the Baguio Regional Trial Court here Nov. 23 challenging the ATC's designation against them.
    Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) leaders Windel Bolinget, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Jennifer Awingan-Taggaoa, and Stephen Tauli in the first legal action filed in court sought to overturn the “terrorist” designation citing infringement of their constitutional rights.
    On July 10, 2023, an ATC Resolution 41, signed June 7, 2023 designated them as terrorists.
    CPA chairperson and petitioner Bolinget described the designation “assault to their basic rights” as it has effectively frozen their bank accounts and other assets including the CPA itself, “deprived them of fully practicing their work and advocacy and ultimately subjected them to further harassment, humiliation, and threats.”
    The legal initiative renewed calls for junking of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL) following 37 petitions filed in 2020 before the Supreme Court by various groups and individuals of which Bolinget himself was one of petitioners against the ATL.
    “We knew from the start that this law would only be weaponized in silencing dissent. They try to make us falter; we, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders. But we will never deter. This legal action is a testament to our unwavering resolve and unity in standing up for our civil liberties. CPA is a legal and legitimate organization. I am a proud Igorot activist, not a terrorist,” said Bolinget.
    Before the terrorist designation, Bolinget, Abellon-Alikes, Awingan-Taggaoa, and Tauli had reportedly been subjected to relentless harassment and threats by state security forces–varying from filing of trumped-up charges, illegal arrest and detention and abduction.
    This was alongside other harassment and false charges filed against other CPA members and leaders throughout the region despite CPA’s long track record in the defense of indigenous peoples’ rights, recognized both locally and internationally.
    The petition was crafted by a team of esteemed lawyers and groups including the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) which included attorneys Tony La Viña, Carlos Zarate, Ayangwa Claver, Marben Panlasigui with Baguio city councilor Jose Molintas as lead counsel.


46 Cordillera LGUs cited in RDC Flame Awards

By Aries Dos Campos

BAGUIO CITY -- Local chief executives -- staunch partners of the Cordillera Regional Development Council in its advocacies like pursuit for Cordillera regional autonomy and exemplars of good governance were awarded the Forwarding Local Autonomy Medal of Excellence (FLAME) Award here last week at Venus Park View Hotel.
    Edna C. Tabanda, RDC co-chairperson officially welcomed guests and participants, highlighting the significance of good governance in shaping robust communities and strong families.
    Her speech set the tone for a morning that celebrated achievements and aspirations of the region.
    RDC-CAR vice-chairperson and National Economic Development Authority regional director Susan A. Sumbeling provided overview of the FLAME Awards, citing significance of recognizing local government units including provinces, highly urbanized cities, and municipalities of different income classifications.
    The awards criteria focused on LGU efforts towards good governance, support to RDC initiatives on regional development and autonomy and participation in RDC-led activities, with a total scoring system for evaluation.
    The award ceremony honored 46 LGUs in the special, excellence and champion categories, and Baguio City, the esteemed Hall of Famer that was a consistent recipient of the award since 2015. Notably, Tublay, Benguet in the 5th-6th class municipality category, Tadian, Mountain Province in the 4th class, Luna, Apayao in the 2nd class, La Trinidad, Benguet in the component city/1st class municipality, and Baguio City for the province/highly urbanized city category, received category Champion Awards.
    Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, Baguio City Mayor and Chairperson of the Regional Development Administration (DevAd) Committee, received the Hall of Fame Award and delivered acceptance speech that highlighted Baguio City’s development framework anchored on innovation, resilience, and sustainability, and its participation in the Philippine open government partnership.
    He called on his fellow local chief executives to continue championing good governance and remain resolute in the region’s quest for regional autonomy.
    The ceremony concluded with a message from DILG-CAR represented by assistant regional director Ruperto B. Maribbay Jr., as chairperson of the RDC FLAME regional assessment team on event’s theme of anticipating a future where regional autonomy is finally realized through good governance and unwavering commitment to achieving the inclusive and sustainable development for the region were underscored.
    The RDC FLAME Award is an award exclusive to CAR approved through RDC-CAR Resolution No. 50, series of 2014.
    The prestigious commendation aligns with the Regional Development Plan  2023-2028 in  the region’s development goals, while applauding local government units for their contributions to good governance and commitment to sustainable and inclusive development.


Raffle draw set to ‘save Chico River’

By Roger Sacyaten

BONTOC, Mountain province – A raffle draw was set here to “save the Chico River.”
    Radyo Natin and Lang-ay Organization, in partnership with the Provincial Tourism Office, Provincial Information Office and the MP     Environment and Natural Resources Office are sponsoring “Save the Chico River raffle draw,” that involves collection of plastic bottles in the province and region to be raffled and drawn on Dec. 16.
    Tarpaulins and flyers announcing the activity announced the raffle draw was free to all to participants.
    They should write on a piece of paper their complete names and addresses, contact numbers, and signatures, place the pieces of papers in clean and dry plastic bottles and bring entries at the Provincial Plaza before 1 p.m.  of Dec. 16.
    The draw will be done at 1 p.m. that date.
    John Tay-og Pelew, Radyo Natin station manager and one of main organizers of the raffle draw, said participants may bring the plastic bottles starting in the morning of Dec. 16 until 1 pm.
    On many occasions he said that the more entries you have, the more chances to win the different prizes of 1 brand new motor cycle, TV sets, 1 brand new mountain bicycle, android and keypad cellphones, 10 consolation cash prizes of P100 each, and many more.
    He said that people from the other provinces of the Cordillera may participate in the activity or they can extend their support by contacting their relatives and friends to participate.
    “We participate in the proper disposal of waste through the reduce, reuse, and recycle principle”. He commented in one of his radio programs subscribing to the environment advocacy.
    Clarifications or more information may be obtained from the Lang-ay Organization at the Pearl Café, Radyo Natin, the Provincial Tourism Office, the Provincial Information Office, and the Mountain Province Environment and Natural Resources Office.
    On why it is billed “Save the Chico River, Pelew said ecological advocacy redounds to preserving the Chico River where all waste from the various communities of the province cascades.
    Paulino Tumapang, Jr., chairperson of Lang-ay Organization, wrote Mountain Province Schools Division Superintendent Benilda     Daytaca to coordinate participation of the school children.
    Last year, the Central School of Besao brought trucks of plastic bottles submitted by pupils and they won prizes.
    “The movement is promoting environmental protection and preservation of the Chico River through awareness, clean-up activities and advocacies among government and private agencies in the communities, municipal, provincial, regional, and national levels.”


DILG chief to ‘personally monitor’ case of med tech student shot in Tuguegarao

Assailant-suspect posts bail 

TUGUEGARAO, Cagayan -- Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Tuesday announced that he will be “personally monitoring” the case of the third-year medical technology student who was shot in the parking lot of a university here
CCTV footage of the shooting and beating of the victim, identified as Althea Vivien Mendoza, went viral on Nov. 13.
    “I was appalled by the viral video showing Saint Paul University-Tuguegarao student Althea Vivien Mendoza being shot and beaten by another student inside their school campus,” Abalos said in a statement.
    “Rest assured that I will personally monitor this case and ensure that justice is done,” he continued.
    Abalos added he would engage with educators to explore methods for enhancing the safety of children within school premises.
    He also hoped schools could devise improved strategies for identifying troubled or disturbed individuals, enabling earlier intervention.
    “I ask the public to join me put an end to violence against women and children,” the Department of the Interior and Local Government chief said.
    The suspect was temporarily released on Nov. 16 after posting a P236,000 bail.
    Police Regional Office 2 spokesperson Major Sharon Mallinllin told media that respondent Kristian Rafael Ramos, a medical technology student, was able to post bail on Nov. 16.
    “He was able to post a P200,000 bail for frustrated murder and P36,000 for violating BP 881 (Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 or Omnibus Election Code,” Mallinllin said Nov. 17.
    She added the bail order was issued by Tuguegarao City Regional Trial Court Branch 5.


SM City Baguio, SLU ink MOA on helping students

By Josie Lyn Galario

BAGUIO CITY -- Saint Louis University has successfully renewed its memorandum of agreement (MOA) partnership with SM City Baguio, securing another opportunity for growth and development on Nov. 14.
    With this, both institutions can continue to work together to achieve greater success in the future.
    The agreement aims to help students learn and participate in the company’s apprentice programs and learning sessions to strengthen their knowledge, skills, and attitude in preparation for their future careers, as well as assist them in future job placements.
    Present during the event were the SLU Officials headed by Andrew Macalma - University Registrar, Dr. Mary Grace Carrido - Director, Office of Global Relations and Alumni Affairs, Dr. Joselito Guiterrez- Executive Assistant to the President; along with SM SAVP North Operations Mr. Marc Janssen Pe and Regional HR Head, Ms. Irene Peralta and SM Regional Operations Manager-North 1 Rona Vida Correa


Three dead in Ilocos drowning incidents

.By John Michael Mugas

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — Three people died in separate drowning incidents Nov. 19, in Ilocos region.
Reports from the Police Regional Office-1 showed victims were from Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan provinces.
    In Pangasinan, police said John Paul Mislang, 5, drowned in a pool at a resort in Polong, Buggallon town, while swimming with his relatives.
    Responding personnel tried to revive the boy, but he was declared dead on arrival in a local hospital.
    Also in Pangasinan, the body of John Jomar Nepacena, 17, from Dagupan City, was found floating in a river traversing Malaued village.
    Police said Nepacena disappeared on Nov. 17 when he and his friends went swimming at a river in Quisban village.
    In Ilocos Sur, Mary Jessel Gabor, 3, also drowned while swimming in a river in Lidlidda town.
Investigators said a resident saw the body of Gabor floating in the river, which prompted him to rescue the child.
Gabor was brought to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival. 


Radio commentators apologize to Lambinos

By Gabriel L. Cardinoza

DAGUPAN CITY -- Veteran radio commentators Orlando Navarro and Tito Tamayo had apologized to former presidential adviser for northern Luzon Secretary Raul Lambino, his wife, former Mangaldan town mayor Mary Marilyn Lambino, and their family for airing and commenting on the alleged cases against them for rape, maltreatment, and physical injuries.
    In a joint letter of apology furnished The Manila Times on Thursday, November 23, Navarro and Tamayo offered their "sincere and profound apology" to the Lambino family for their commentaries last year.
    "After review and verification, there are no actual cases against them that are in progress in any court of law or in the Office of the Ombudsman. These allegations against the family of Lambino are clear fabrications and fake news," Navarro and Tamayo said.
    "It is indeed with great compunction on our part that we had made the statements, remarks or comments regarding said cases during our radio and Facebook programs without prior verification about the truth or falsity thereof," they added.
    Navarro and Tamayo acknowledged that they had caused damage and prejudice to the honor and person of the Lambino family in making such statements, remarks or comments.
    "We are extending our repenting stance to the family of Lambino and undertake not to commit the same transgression upon the honor and person of anybody," Navarro and Tamayo said.
    They also attested to the integrity and propriety in public service of the Lambino family and to the humility, decency and respect they have shown in their private dealings.
    "We humbly apologize," Navarro said.


Protesters denounce EDCA sites in Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- About 100 flag-waving protesters and supporters staged a lightning rally in front of Rizal Freedom Park here Nov. 8, denouncing the presence of two Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in Cagayan.
    "Peace, No to War, no to EDCA," the rallyists said in their placards, posters and flags they displayed during the demonstration in an utter show of their disapproval of the two EDCA sites.
    The rallyists believed the inclusion of Cagayan as an EDCA site is putting the province at risk of a possible war with China.
    Later, about 300 villagers who went to the protest rally site were given a kilo of rice as assistance.
    Mateo Dicen, spokesman for the People for Peace and Development (P4PD), said the new sites here in Cagayan will put the province at a disadvantageous position and make the province a target of "China's possible nuclear attacks or war."
    Macaria Mendoza, a 60-year-old supporter, told the Manila Times that they strongly oppose the addition of EDCA sites by the United States in the country.
    The EDCA sites are at the Lal-lo International Airport in Lal-lo town and the Camp Camilo Osias Naval command base in Santa Ana town.
    The Philippine government earlier signed a pact with the United States for the EDCA, which allows the US to rotate troops into the Philippines for extended stays and allows the US to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases for both American and Philippine forces.
    Aside from the two Cagayan sites, also added on February 2 this year were Balabac Island in Palawan and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.
    Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba earlier condemned the inclusion of the province, adding that they had not been consulted on the sites.
    He said he did not want the province to become a potential target of a Chinese nuclear attack.
    Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. allayed fears in his inspections at the EDCA sites.
    He said this would help villagers through infrastructure enhancement and repair projects, developing new infrastructure projects at existing EDCA locations and exploring new locations that will build a more credible mutual defense.
    In 2016, five EDCA sites were established at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, and Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro.


UN rapporteur calls for repeal of anti-terror law, ELCAC abolition

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Ian Fry urged the government on Wednesday to revoke the Anti-Terrorism Act and abolish its anticommunist task force, noting how both were facilitating human rights violations and harassment of environmental defenders.
    “The government needs to create a clean slate around its approach to antiterrorism and revise the laws to make them appropriate for the circumstances occurring now, and not to use the laws to harass, vilify and kill environmental human rights defenders,” Fry said in a press briefing.
    The international environmental law and policy expert spoke on the last day of his 10-day visit to the country to study and identify how the adverse impacts of climate change were affecting the “full and effective enjoyment of human rights.”
    Citing “horrific stories” from civil society groups and indigenous peoples (IPs) organizations who were subjected to attacks, he urged government to disband the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) “because it is operating beyond its original mandate and is Red-tagging people from the community.”
    Fry said that during his consultations, he heard testimonies from civil society organizations and even church leaders who were attacked, Red-tagged and their assets ordered frozen—actions by the military which the UN expert said were “totally unreasonable.”
    He cited the need to investigate previous NTF-Elcac operations in addition to reported cases of extrajudicial killings.
    Fry also recommended the formulation of a truth and reconciliation process, noting that “there [were] clearly people who suffered dramatically as a consequence of the persecution of environmental rights defenders and there needs to be a process to properly review effects of the actions of the military.”
    The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, he added, must be reformed, as he suggested the establishment of a grievance mechanism to hear the harm that IPs suffered due to “inappropriate” development projects and military action.
Fry noted that the country was “under a lot of pressure” to provide to the international economy minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel and gold in support of renewable energy initiatives.
    In turn, the opening of more mines led to more human rights violations such as displacement of IPs and serious contamination of river systems, resulting in reduced water supply for affected communities, he said.
Fry’s other recommendations included enforcement of a moratorium on all reclamation projects in the country and the revision of the Climate Change Act.
    The government needs to take strong heed of the Commission on Human Rights’ Report on climate change and hold ‘carbon majors’ accountable for the greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for,” he said in his interim report.
    Fry will present his formal report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024, which will provide feedback to the government through communication or exchange of letters.
    He added that while it was still up to the government to heed the recommendations, failure to do so would have its “biggest impact” on the country’s international image.


27 indigent families in Pangasinan get P500-K grant for organic farm

By Hilda Austria 

URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan – Twenty-seven indigent families from Barangay Nancayasan, this city, that are members of FARMaganda association are set to receive P500,000 as start-up capital for their organic farm in line with the government’s food sufficiency bid.
    The funding will come from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) sustainable livelihood program.
    The beneficiaries are graduates of Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) project of SM Foundation, Inc. and national government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), DSWD, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Agricultural Training Institute - Ilocos Region, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
    FARMaganda president Maricel Badua said the funding will be used to rent a 6,000 square-meter land and to purchase equipment.
    "Nagpapasalamat kami sa chance na makasama sa programa at marami [kaming] natutunan patungkol sa urban gardening. Pagyayamanin namin ng mapabuti at umasenso ang aming grupo. Mag-uumpisa kami na may tulong mula sa DSWD (We are grateful for the chance to be part of the program and we learned a lot about urban gardening. We will do our best to enrich and develop our group. We are going to start with the help of the DSWD)," she said.
    The group members are currently selling their produce at the weekend market of SM City Urdaneta Central and in their business proposal, they stated their plan to sell to government agencies near their village. 
    The excess from their produce will be processed with the help of the DOST and DTI while some will be donated to feeding programs.
    "We also plan to join trade fairs with our organic products," Badua said.
    DTI Pangasinan director Natalia Dalaten said the program is among the ways to boost food production and help the families increase their income.
    "We are also aiming to make them agripreneurs. They are not just farmers now but should also learn to do business," she said.
    SM Foundation, Inc. Assistant Vice President Cristie Angeles said the inter-agency cooperation was strengthened further to help the families.
    "We will meet quarterly with inter-agency partners to monitor them. Through this, we could easily see what interventions they need and we aim that they will help themselves primarily," she said.  (PNA)


More tourists visit Hundred Islands

ALAMINOS CITY, Pangasinan -- An average of 1,208 tourists travelled every day to this city from January 1 to November 15 this year to visit the Hundred Islands National Park (HINP) here, data from this city's tourism and cultural affairs office showed.
    Of the number, 21 were foreigners, 805 came from places outside Pangasinan, and the rest were locals.
"We really didn't have a day this year when we had no visitors, except when we closed because of a typhoon signal," said Miguel Sison, city tourism officer here.
    Sison said that the number of tourists that have arrived here as of November 15 has reached 384,220, which is only about 5,000 less than the 389,006 tourists recorded from January 1 to Dec. 31, 2022.
    "We will surely have higher tourist arrivals at the end of this year than last year's," Sison said.
    He added that the income generated for the whole last year was P33 million.
    "But as of today, we have already collected P38 million. Hopefully, until the end of December, we will reach our P40 million target," Sison said.
    Tourist arrivals here have not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level of 520,000 in 2019.
    But this year's tourist arrivals are much higher than the number of visitors to the national park in 2020, which was about 93,000, and in 2021, which had about 50,000 visitors.
    Sison said that the HINP has much more to offer now than in the 1990s when the national park was under the defunct Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).
    At that time, only the Quezon, Children's and Governor's Islands had facilities for tourists.
    The beautification program for the park began in 2013 when then-mayor (now Pangasinan 1st District Representative) Arthur Celeste began building tourism structures in the other islands, such as Lopez, Marcos, Clave, Romulo, Mayor's and Virgin Islands.
    In 2015, the city government began building more picnic sheds, pavilions and gazebos on the six islands to accommodate more tourists.
    These islands are equipped with solar-powered light posts, gardens and beach lights, portable toilets and concrete trails, stairs and rails.
    Of the 123 small islands inside the 1,676-hectare park, only 16 have beaches. The rest have coralline shores not fit for swimming.
    More activities had been introduced in the islands. Tourists can see the sites on a zipline or enjoy wall climbing and rappelling, Sison said.
    There are also venues for helmet diving, banana boat rides, kayaking and snorkeling.
    The city government took over the administration, control and management of the HINP on Sept. 29, 2005, when it was transferred through an executive order.
    "We have long expanded to more islands. Our newest attraction is the bonsai garden and coffee shop at Ramos Island," Sison said.
    Sison said that more tourists are expected to visit the Hundred Islands once the proposed airport in Bolinao town is completed.
    Gov. Ramon Guico 3rd had earlier announced that the provincial government is now 70 percent done with the acquisition of land for the airport.
    "We will definitely benefit from it because right now, we exchange tourists. Those who come here also go to Bolinao and those in Bolinao come here before leaving Pangasinan," Sison said.




Stunning The Marcos Island, one of the 123 islands of the famous Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan, has been one of the favorites destinations among visitors. (Alaminos CIO photo)




AFP, PNP join peace, dev't training in CAR

OFFICERS of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police pose for posterity during peace and development training in Cordillera Nov. 10.

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police began enhancing their strategies toward building peace, enhancing security and development in Cordillera Administrative Region.
    A total of 120 soldiers and policemen joined the 12-day training that opened here at the Cordillera police regional headquarters Nov. 10.
    It focused on Community Support Program (CSP) and seeks to enhance the capabilities of both the AFP and PNP stationed in the highland region in maintaining peace, security and development initiatives.
    “The joint training signifies our dedication to work hand in hand as we recognize the significant role we both play in maintaining peace and development in the region in support of the Local Government Unit”, Philippine Army Col. Virgilio Noora, who spoke during the opening rites of the joint training said.
    He explained that “pooling knowledge, experiences, and expertise can result in better approaches for maintaining peace and security while promoting development in CAR.”
    Recognizing the dynamic nature of security threats in the region, Northern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Fernyl Buca also said that “the joint training ensures both the AFP and PNP in the area to remain adaptable and effective, ensuring that they stay ahead of evolving security challenges."
    “The joint training strengthens the capabilities of the Community Support Program Teams to ensure a robust response to security challenges in the region,” he stressed.
The Cordillera police reaffirmed its full support for the joint training and future joint peace and development operations while ensuring the safety and well-being of the communities in the Cordillera region.
Col. Elmer Ragay, deputy regional director for operations of the Cordillera police also said that “the joint training recognizes the importance of collaboration in addressing peace and security challenges in the region, and through this joint training, it seeks to strengthen partnerships by fostering a more coordinated approach to responding to peace and development efforts.”




200 Cordi new officers start work as patrolmen

By Liza Agoot 

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet – A total of 200 new police officers took their oaths of office here Monday as part of the 2023 police recruitment program in the Cordillera Administrative Region. 
    “Today will be the start of your police journey from the arduous selection. You hurdled the tedious recruitment application,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Allan, the Police Regional Office-Cordillera deputy regional director for administration, said during the ceremony.
    The new officers who are on temporary status as patrolmen (142) and patrolwomen (58) were recruited per province to allow each area to have an allocation.
    Following the oath-taking, the recruits will start the basic recruitment course for six months to be administered by the CAR Training Center at Teacher’s Camp in Baguio City.
    They will later have a field training program in police stations to apply what they learned.
    Trainings will include mental skills and physical preparation.
    Col. Carolina Lacuata, PROCor information officer, said the recruits filled up the attrition quota to replace those who retired, resigned or were separated from the service.
    The new police officers will receive a monthly salary of PHP29,668 effective Nov. 13. -- PNA



Bontoc conferred ‘Seal of child-friendly program’

By Alpine L. Killa-Malwagay

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Bontoc was conferred the Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance (SCFLG) for the year 2022.
    The SCFLG is a recognition system for local government units that passed annual mandatory child-friendly local governance audit.
    The Municipality of Bontoc passed with flying colors the five indicators with a total overall rating of 90.50%.
    Bontoc Mayor Jerome “Chagsen” Tudlong, Jr., credited the accolades received by the municipality to efforts of the Bontoc LGU workforce, partner stakeholders and Bontoc community.
    He added the award was manifestation of ensuring that children are provided with best services due them.
    Tudlong called for a continuing partnership with partner stakeholders down to barangays to ensure  children’s rights and welfare are protected even in remote barangays.
    Knittle Jane Lingbanan of Municipal Planning and Development Office, said the SCFLG audit covered five indicators.
    These included rights of children to survival, development, protection, participation and governance.
    The right of children to Survival covers fully immunized children (FIC) aged 12 months old; prevalence of malnutrition among children aged 0-59 months; percentage of coverage of pregnant adolescents provided with prenatal and postpartum, percentage coverage of pregnant adolescents with prenatal services and percentage of coverage of pregnant adolescents with postpartum services.
    The right of children to development included percentage coverage of children aged 3-4 years old provided with early childhood care and development services both public and privately managed and facility, home, or community-based;  presence of ECCD services in all barangays, either private or publicly- managed, in any of the following modality-center/facility, home, community, or other modalities; percentage of barangays with at least one ECCD service; percentage of accredited or recognized center-based ECCD services; percentage of out of school children and youth assisted for enrolment / re-enrolment to school, alternative learning system or other flexible learning options; percentage of children who have dropped out from school that were reintegrated in the academic year being audited; and percentage of OSCY registered/ enrolled to schools, ALS or other flexible learning options.
    The right of children to protection included management of reported cases in need of special protection. This included the percentage of coverage of case management, case management preparation, and established referral network.
    Right of children to participation covered child representation in the Local Council for protection of children; child representative in the city/municipality CPC; child representative selection process at the city/municipal level; child representative at the Barangay CPC; development of program, project, activity or policy with children's participation in the planning, and implementation or monitoring phase.
Governance covered established and updated database on children; annual local state of children report; available and implemented local plans for children; updated Local Code for Children adopting recently issued national laws on children; and budget allocated for children's PPAs.
    Municipal Local Government Operations Officer Lourdes Claire Peel of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the SCFLG was requirement under social protection and sensitivity programs of the Seal of Good Local Governance of the DILG.
    Other municipalities in Mountain Province that passed the SCFLG Audit were Tadian and Bauko.


Cops nab 13, seize P6-M illegal drugs in Cordillera


ERADICATION -- Authorities destroy a total of an estimated P2.1 million worth of marijuana plants and seedlings in San Gabriel town, La Union Nov. 7. On Nov. 8, Bugallon police in Pangasinan seized P837,420 worth of suspected shabu. (Photo courtesy of PRO-1)

P5.8-M marijuana bricks found on Kalinga road

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Cordillera cops seized more than P197,000 worth of illegal drugs and nabbed 13 drug personalities in regional anti-illegal drugs operations Nov. 5-11.
    This, as police seized marijuana bricks worth P5.8 million found along the national highway here in Jangayoy, Barangay Dangoy, Tanudan Kalinga Monday, Nov. 20 bringing the total worth of illegal drugs captured in the region to around P6 million.
    Col. Freddie Lazona, provincial director of Kalinga Provincial Police Office, said personnel of the 2nd Kalinga Provincial Mobile Force Company received information that a male rider of a sport type XR 150 abandoned an army duffle bag in the vicinity of Jangayoy.
    Upon receipt of the information, police proceeded to the area and found an army duffle bag along the highway partly covered with leaves and branches of trees containing suspected marijuana bricks.
    An onsite inventory yielded 49 bricks of alleged dried marijuana leaves weighing around 49,000 grams valued at P5,880,000.
    The recovered marijuana bricks were brought to Lubuagan police station for documentation and later brought to Kalinga police provincial forensic unit for examination.
    The police regional public information office, citing the records from the Regional Operations Division, said the 13 drug suspects from other parts of the region were arrested in possession of 27.52 grams of shabu worth P197,075.60.
    The same report bared eight arrests were made by Benguet Police Provincial Office, followed by the Baguio City Police Office with two and one each for Ifugao and Kalinga PPOs.
    Suspects were identified as Jimran D Elias, 27; Roldan Elias, 36; Edgar Garino; 28; Elvis Mocate, 35; Christian Beneyat, 26; Clarence Gunday, 42; Griffin Keith Sobremo, 25; Joshua L Moling, 21; John Mark Orata, 18; John G Basungit, 50; Arnold Austria, 25; Ryan Zamora, 27 and Nolasco Dangayo, 36.
    All arrested suspects and confiscated pieces of evidence were brought to offices of  arresting units, while charges for illegal drugs were prepared against them.
    Meanwhile, in a marijuana eradication operation in Benguet, two marijuana plantation sites with 920 pieces of fully grown marijuana plants valued at P184,000 were discovered in Kibungan town.
    All discovered marijuana plants were uprooted and burned in plantation sites  by the lawmen who investigated to identify marijuana cultivators.
    Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. David K, Peredo cited arresting police for the arrests urging other units to intensify anti-drugs operations.

 Police seize P2.9-M shabu,  marijuana in LU, P’sinan

By Hilda Austria 

MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – Authorities seized an estimated P837,420 worth of suspected methamphetamine, locally called shabu, in Bugallon town, Pangasinan and destroyed around P2.1 million worth of marijuana in San Gabriel town, La Union night of Nov. 8.
    In a phone interview on Thursday, Bugallon police officer-in-charge Maj. Ramsey Canaban said the estimated 123.15 grams of suspected shabu was seized from Ken Mark Prado Bustillos, 31, after police officers, armed with a search warrant, went to his home in Barangay Umanday Wednesday night.
    “He was identified as a drug personality, as a street pusher, but not a high-value target. He was being monitored by our intelligence unit and we did not expect the amount of illegal drugs confiscated from him,” he said.
    Canaban said the suspect is reportedly supplying illegal drugs to other parts of the province and sources his supply from the National Capital Region.
    Aside from the illegal drugs, some live ammunition were also seized from the suspect.
    Meanwhile, the La Union Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit and other law enforcement agencies discovered a marijuana plantation in Sitio Nakawa, Barangay Lon-oy, San Gabriel town, La Union on Nov. 7.
    Lt. Col. Benigno Sumawang, chief of Regional Public Information Office of the Ilocos Police Regional Office (PRO-1), said the operation resulted in the destruction of PHP2.1 million worth of marijuana plants and seedlings.
    “There were a total of 8,500 pieces of fully grown marijuana plants and 10,500 marijuana seedlings from a total land area of 1,950 square meters,” he said. -- PNA

‘Tanod’ nabbed for selling P68-K shabu in Abra

PIDIGAN, Abra -- A barangay tanod listed as a high-value drug personality was arrested for selling around P68,000 worth of shabu to a cop here on Nov. 14.
    Reports submitted to Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. David K. Peredo Jr. identified the arrested suspect as Jimmy Sumalnap Dela Rosa, Jr., 40 of Pidigan, Abra.
    Elements of Abra Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, Abra Provincial Intelligence Unit, and Pidigan Municipal Police Station arrested suspect Dela Rosa at Sitio Nagdaingan, Pangtud, Pidigan, after he sold two sachets of suspected "shabu" weighing 10.1 grams valued at P68,680 to a cop who posed as buyer.
    Dela Rosa and confiscated items were brought to the Abra PPO PDEU office where charges for illegal drugs were prepared against him. 

Cops seize P2.M drugs in Baguio, Benguet; 2 nabbed 

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- -- A total of P2,008,092 worth of illegal drugs was seized, while two drug personalities were busted in anti-illegal drugs operations conducted in Baguio City and Benguet Nov. 16, the regional police public information office bared. 
    Police reports submitted to Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. David K. Peredo Jr. identified arrested suspects as Randolph Castañeda Doria, 42, of Lower Quirino Hill Barangay, Baguio and Diokno Dilapi Tolingan, 34 of Sitio Paykek, Balili, Mankayan, Benguet.
    Baguio police arrested Doria at Rizal Park after he sold a sachet of suspected shabu weighing 0.65 grams worth P4,420.00 to a cop who acted as buyer.
    Meanwhile, in Balili, Mankayan, Tolingan was arrested by anti-illegal drugs operatives of the Benguet Police Provincial Office after he sold a sachet of suspected shabu weighing 0.28 grams worth P1,904 to a cop who also acted as buyer at Sitio Pangkikan, Balili
    During his arrest, another sachet of suspected shabu weighing 0.26 grams worth P1,768 was confiscated from him.
    All arrested suspects and confiscated items were brought to respective arresting units, while charges for illegal drugs were prepared against them.
    This, as Benguet cops discovered and burned a total of 10,000 pieces of fully grown marijuana plants valued at P2,000,000 in the town of Kibungan.

MARIJUANA BRICKS -- Police make an inventory of 49 bricks of dried marijuana leaves, weighing around 49,000 grams, with an estimated value of P5,880,000 recovered at Sitio Jangayoy, Barangay Dangoy, Lubuagan, Kalinga Nov. 20. (Photo from PNP Lubuagan)


Ilocos Norte MSMEs receive livelihood kits

LIVELIHOOD KIT -- Local entrepreneurs receive livelihood kits in Laoag City Nov. 8. To avail of the aid, recipients have to undergo business seminars to sustain their livelihood. (Photo courtesy of DTI Ilocos Norte)


Leilanie Adriano 

LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Norte micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) affected by Typhoon Egay last July have been identified to receive livelihood kits worth PHP5,000 each.
    Under the Department of Trade and Industry’s economic recovery-targeted program “Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa,” the MSMEs are allocated sugarcane processing, food service, food processing, school supplies, barber shop, tailoring, furniture-making and dry goods retailing kits. 
    "Prior to receiving the livelihood recovery kits, the recipients have to undergo entrepreneurial seminar or business continuity training to capacitate them and be able to generate higher sales as they resume business,” Maricor Racela, senior trade industry development specialist and trade promotions officer of DTI locos Norte, said in an interview Friday.
    The first batch, composed of 128 stakeholders from this city, received their livelihood kits on Wednesday. 
    The second and third batches are scheduled to receive their kits on Nov. 21 and 22 at the provincial capitol auditorium.
    Previous beneficiary Nora dela Cruz of Barangay Cabungaan, Laoag City told the Philippine News Agency Friday that she produced more after obtaining a means to improve her source of livelihood. 
    With the help of the DTI and other government agencies, Dela Cruz’ sugarcane juice food products, specifically different variants of vinegars such as plain sukang iloco (llocos vinegar), suka with sili (spicy vinegar), and basi, are best sellers during trade fairs.
    “I am so thankful to the DTI for helping me grow as a small-time entrepreneur,” Dela Cruz said, adding that she gained confidence because of the guidance of the DTI in developing and bringing her products before a wider market.
Since 2017, DTI has been offering free coaching and mentoring programs to Ilocos Norte entrepreneurs.
    Known as the Kapatid Mentor Me, the program aims to guide MSMEs scale up their businesses through 10 weeks of one-on-one, module-based consultations and coaching sessions with business experts to help them become globally competitive enterprises.
Akin to a “big brother-small brother” concept, the program allows mentees to learn strategies on marketing, financial, human resource, and operation management, among others.
On the 11th week, the MSMEs are required to present their business development plans before graduating from the program. -- PNA






IPs not opposed to development: NCIP chair

SUPPORT. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chairperson Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, during the Community Relations conference of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association conference at Camp John Hay in Baguio City on Wednesday (Nov. 15, 2023) said indigenous peoples (IPs), through the NCIP, are not opposed to mining and other development projects. She said IPs must be consulted and treated equally in any development project vis-à-vis their ancestry. their land, and their rights. (Photo by Liza T. Agoot)

IP Concerns

Liza Agoot

BAGUIO CITY – An official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on Wednesday said they are not opposed to mining projects and developments but only want to be consulted on all stages of a project.
    NCIP chairperson Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, during the Community Relations (ComRel) Conference of the four-day Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) Conference that started at the Cap Convention and Trade Center in Camp John Hay on Tuesday, said IPs recognize that mining and other development projects can contribute to an improved livelihood and economic stability for the sector.
    She said mining companies and other development projects empower communities through sustainable practices, foster self-determination, and enhance the capacity to engage in decision-making processes that affect their lives and resources -- the reason for the need to be consulted because it involves the land and the rights of the IPs.
    “We just want to be treated as equals, your co-equal in the development of this country,” she said.
Sibug-Las urged companies to always pay preferential attention and consideration to cultural sustainability, safety, security and stability.
    She also mentioned that NCIP has limitations in its task to improve the condition of the IPs and ICCs.
    “We cannot on our own help everybody. We recognize you, the industry players, the ComRel officers, as the possible source of a better future, a clearer future for the new Philippines not only for the Filipinos but for the IPs,” asded Sibug-Las, a     Manobo princess who is also the commissioner in charge for Central Mindanao. --PNA


Coffee project generates income, unites residents of Kalinga village

Coffee Talk

TABUK CITY -- – The transition from agriculture to agri-tourism has been productive economically and socially for the residents of Barangay Bagumbayan in this city.
    The community’s major project, Bagumbayan Coffee Village, started early 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic as restrictions in movement were not too strict then, unlike in the National Capital Region.
    Village folks were hired for coffee processing, with the products sold to commercial establishments.
    Previously, they were content just selling coffee beans outside of Tabuk City for PHP100 or PHP200 depending on the size of the tin can.
    “Now, our people grow the coffee, process the coffee, package it, and sell at premium price,” Cindy Mangliwan, a council member of Barangay Bagumbayan, told the Philippine News Agency after the community was awarded Best Cordillera Tourism Village by the Department of Tourism (DOT) at Camp John Hay here on Monday.
    Barangay Bagumbayan won P1 million which they will use to improve facilities to lure more tourists.
    Mangliwan said that with the increasing sales of their products, coffee shrubs that have been around for as long as 20 years are income-generators again.
    “The shift from plain agriculture to agri-tourism helped a lot. It is very productive, helpful in the lives of the people in the community economically and socially because it also allows us to have closer bonding experiences,” Mangliwan added.
    Mangliwan said their community also received technical assistance from the DOT, aligned with the United Nations world tourism standards; seminars and training on organic coffee production from the Department of Agriculture; and the coffee processing building and materials from the Department of Science and Technology.
    Tabuk is a jump-off point for tourists who visit the world-renowned tattoo artist Apo Whang-od, who is already 106 years old, in Buscalan, Tinglayan, a two-hour drive from the city.
    Jovita Ganongan, DOT-Cordillera director, said the competition aims “to enhance tourism facilities and services and to motivate the pursuit of environment and sound community participatory tourism programs especially involving the Indigenous Peoples.”
    From 20 applicants, they were narrowed to 12 and finally, to six finalists based on sustainable management, socio-economic and rural development sustainability, cultural sensitivity, and environmental sustainability.
    The other finalists were Bila Tourism Village in Bauko, Mountain Province, second place, PHP500,000; Balbalasang Eco Village in Kalinga, P200,000; and runners-up Chaya Heritage Village in Mayaoyao, Ifugao, Nagacadan Open Air Museum in Kiangan, Ifugao, and Tawang Tourism Village in Balbalan, Kalinga, P100,000 each. – Liza T. Agoot/ PNA


Skilled artisans sustain Baguio’s silver craft

 Arts and crafts

Liza Agoot

BAGUIO CITY – Over 40 years in the business of hand-crafted silver and sustaining one of the things this city is known for have become the driving force of Pilak Silver Shop amid challenges.
    Rommel Marcelo, the 47-year-old manager of the family-owned business, said the craft shop is the lone surviving homegrown brand that creates its own designs.
    “Baguio’s silver craft is generational, from the grandparents, to parents, and then to the children who soon dip their hands into the business in preparation for their eventual management,” Marcelo said.
    The Pilak Silver Shop traces its roots in the mid-70s, when Marcelo's parents, Romeo and Preciosa, opened the Aloha Souvenir Shop at Mines View Park.
    In 1977, the couple discovered the potential of silver as a jewelry line of business, and shifted to everything silver, eventually changing the shop’s name to Pilak, the Filipino word for silver.
    In an interview with the Philippine News Agency in 2018, Preciosa said former First Lady Imelda Marcos helped promote Baguio’s silver products to foreign countries through the National Cottage Industry Development Authority.
    In the past years, Marcelo said the city’s silver craft industry went through challenges, especially the competition with imported machine-made items that are much cheaper.
    But instead of giving up, the younger Marcelo accepted their limitations in terms of handcrafting and invested in the strengths that kept them going -- the skills of the artisans who transformed silver into works of art.
    “When all seemed hopeless due to the emergence of imported machine-made silver that took the silver market by storm, we continued.  We know that some of our works cannot be replicated by machine, so we concentrated on those works and placed them up front in our product presentation, with the end goal and hope that the market would continue to appreciate our works Fortunately, it did and it helped us sustain the craft, and our livelihood,” he said.
    “Saying enough, let us close, is not as easy as it seems, especially if your workers have become part of the family, and you know that their enthusiasm continues to grow,” he added.
    With only Pilak having a physical store that makes designs using locally mined silver metals, and with local talents expressing themselves through their classic designs, the number of artisans working for Pilak grew from 15 pre-pandemic to the current 40.
    “It was surprising that after the pandemic, the number of our crafters grew to 40. A lot of them are home-based, especially the older ones who continue to display their artistry through us,” Marcelo said.
    He said the oldest crafter for Pilak is about 80 years old, while most are in their 60s and 50s.
    Five of them go on duty at the workshop and allow visitors to see the actual process of hand-crafting silver. 
    “There are small handcrafters who continue to share their talents and whose interest in creating handcrafted items never waned, which was the reason we never closed shop amid the many challenges. The talent is becoming scarce with few getting into the business and existing ones closing or shifting to imported machine-made items. But Baguio being known for handcrafted silver is a continuing driving force that makes us continue to provide a venue to showcase the products of the crafters,” he said.
Moving forward
Taking after his father’s artistic talent and his mother’s entrepreneurial skills, aside from actually helping out in the shop as a little boy together with his older sister, Marcelo is now in command of Pilak.
“I design and delegate the desired output to the crafters, knowing fully well their expertise and capabilities.  During product prototyping, it is usually a back-and-forth of ideas and approaches until we come up with the final design. Pure collaboration between me and the crafters,” he said.
Marcelo said managing the shop has always been his full-time job since he graduated from a Management course, eventually moving to overall management and going into product development and prototyping.
He said Baguio’s inclusion as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization site for Arts and Crafts, with hand-crafted silver inluded, is also helping Pilak sustain the city’s silver craft industry.
Marcelo said the hand-woven fabric industry in the Cordillera is eyeing the inclusion of silver in their wearables, providing another opportunity for the hand-crafted silver to live on. (PNA)


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