PNP chief orders one-strike, no- take policy' vs illegal gambling

>> Tuesday, May 30, 2023

 ‘Charge, relieve erring police chiefs’ 

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE  (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr ordered an "intensified crackdown" against illegal gambling and the individuals behind them backed by the formidable "one-strike and no-take policy."
    “The one strike and no take policy represents a zero-tolerance approach, where any negligence or inaction will be met with swift consequences. With this strong stance, the PNP aims to leave no room for leniency in eradicating the illegal gambling menace,” Acorda said in a statement Thursday.
    Under this police, regional, provincial and district directors, chiefs of police stations, community precinct commanders and other leaders of units who will be found inefficient or wanting in their efforts to eradicate and stop illegal gambling in their respective areas of jurisdiction shall be relieved from their post and be charged administratively under the doctrine of command responsibility.
    The PNP chief said this resolute stance reflects the police force's unwavering determination to eradicate illegal gambling and safeguard the welfare of the Filipino people.
    Acorda's latest directive came after the PNP and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) forged an alliance to intensify the national campaign against all forms of illegal gambling activities across the country.
    Under the leadership of Acorda, the PNP is mobilizing its established Regional/Provincial/City Anti-Illegal Gambling Special Operations Task Groups to intensify the implementation of the provisions outlined in PNP MC NO. 2017-022, aptly titled "PNP Anti-Illegal Gambling Campaign Plan: Operation High Roller."
    These specialized units will employ their expertise to gather intelligence, conduct thorough investigations, and execute strategic interventions, fortifying the nation's fight against illegal gambling.
    "We will not tolerate the existence of illegal gambling activities that prey on the most vulnerable members of our society. Together with PCSO, we will deploy all necessary resources and implement stringent measures to put an end to this menace,” Acorda said.
    Recognizing the detrimental impact of these illegal activities that erode public morals, PCSO General Manager Mel Robles emphasized that illegal gambling operations significantly affect the revenue generated by the PCSO, as the majority of earnings end up lining the pockets of illegal gambling operators.
    "In turn, those losses deprive poor Filipino citizens of the healthcare and other benefits that the PCSO provides," Robles added, shedding light on the grave consequences of unauthorized gambling activities on vulnerable communities.
    Robles further appealed to the public, urging them to participate only in PCSO-sanctioned games such as lotto and the small-town lottery.
    By doing so, he said Filipinos not only stand a chance to win exciting prizes but also actively contribute to the funding of the PCSO's welfare programs. -- PNA


UP campuses: Surface missing activists taken by armed CIDG men

By Sherwin De Vera

BAGUIO CITY — Several University of the Philippines campuses have joined the call to surface two UP Baguio alumni who have been missing since April 28.
    In separate statements, the Baguio, Cebu, and Visayas campuses urged the government to assist in finding Dexter Capuyan, 56 and Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus, 27.    
     Human rights groups claimed armed men who presented themselves as members of the Philippines National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) forcibly took them in Taytay, Rizal.
    "Their disappearance has not only caused anxiety and distress to their loved ones but also created a chilling effect to the safety and security of our community," UP Baguio said in a May 24 statement.
    "We urge all government and concerned agencies, specifically those that have already been approached by the families of Bazoo and Dexter, to exhaust all means and resources to fully address their disappearance," the statement added.
    This is the first official pronouncement from the institution on the issue since the disappearance of its former student leaders. Capuyan was the editor-in-chief of the student publication, The Outcrop and chair of the city-wide chapter of the League of Filipino Students in the 80s. De Jesus, who graduated cum laude in 2016, formerly chaired the Alliance of Concerned Students and the UP Baguio Council of Leaders.
    The statement came a day after more than a hundred students, faculty, alumni, and supporters held a vigil inside the campus, attended by the mother of De Jesus and Capuyan's daughter.
    Speakers during the activity, including Capuyan's contemporary in the student publication and UP Baguio professor Willy Alangui, urged campus officials to support the call to surface the two alumni.
He cited the immediate condemnation by the administration of the enforced disappearance of James Balao in 2008, also a former Outcrop editor-in-chief.
    "Malaking bagay 'yong dapat suporta na pinapakita sa paghahanap sa kanilang alumni, malaking bagay sa pamilya marinig kung paano sila pumusisyon, kailangan pa natin silang kalampagin para lang mapilitang maglabas ng statement, hindi dapat," Alangui said.
    Hours before the UP Baguio statement, UP Cebu Chancellor Atty. Leo Malagar expressed "solidarity with the UP Baguio community, the families of Capuyan and De Jesus, and all who believe in human rights and freedom."     He said the disappearance of the two "unsettles as much as it reminds us of the abduction of Dyan Gumanao and Armand Jake Dayoha."
    Gumanao and Dayoha are UP Cebu alumni who were abducted by suspected state agents last January. The perpetrators eventually released them following a public outcry.
    "A troubling pattern emerges, calling for immediate and effective collective action. With urgency and optimism, we press for comprehensive investigations and active cooperation from the police and other law enforcement agencies to ascertain the whereabouts of Capuyan and De Jesus," Malagar said.
    "Enforced disappearances achieve nothing more than the erosion of the fabric of a democratic society. Silencing critics doesn't support the aims of mainstream society; it only weakens our democracy," he added.
Earlier, on May 23, the UP Visayas also called for the surfacing of the two UP Baguio alumni.
    "A society is never truly free if its activists and critics are subjected to constant harassment and must fear for their safety. For this reason, we express grave concern over the enforced disappearance of two graduates of UP Baguio," the statement said.
    "We call on our partners from all relevant agencies of government to help end this pattern of injustice and to join us in demanding for the safe return of the two activists," it added.


UP Manila raises alarm over activists’ kidnapping

The University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila on Saturday expressed alarm over the reported kidnapping of two activists, including one of its alumna.
    Human rights groups reported that community organizers Patricia Cierva and Cedrick Casaño were taken by alleged members of the military in Gonzaga, Cagayan on May 18.
    Cierva is an alumna of UP Manila’s development studies program and a former officer of the university student council.
    The university said it is strongly supporting the call for the immediate surfacing of the two activists, and urged all concerned government agencies to assist in their release and ensure their safe return to their families.
    “We urge all government agencies to adhere to the basic tenets of democracy. We believe that our democracy, won through decades of activism and patriotism, can only be practiced to the fullest when the basic human rights of every Filipino is respected and protected, and these rights include individual safety, dignity and freedom of speech,” the university said.

    “We strongly urge all former and current teachers, students, officials, employees and friends of UP Manila to speak out and join the call for the surfacing of not just Cierva and Casaño, but of all those who were wrongly taken and arrested,” it added.

    The university condemned the continued red-tagging and threats against members of the UP community, citing the kidnapping of UP Cebu faculty Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha, the arrest of professor Melania Flores and the enforced disappearance of UP Baguio alumni Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz de Jesus.





PNP revokes gun permits of former Abra mayor

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has revoked the gun permits of a former town mayor in Abra and ordered all of his registered firearms confiscated for submitting falsified documents to obtain a firearm license.
    The revocation was initiated against former Langiden mayor Artemio Donato Jr. as a result of the continuous evaluation and audit of uploaded documents for the application of License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF) and Firearm Registration (FR), PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) chief BGen. Paul Kenneth Lucas said in his directive issued on May 24.
    Lucas said the audit showed that Donar misdeclared the "true and correct qualifications, the type of license and other licenses he possesses."
    It was also discovered that Donato bears different signatures on his other documents uploaded such as the FR form for the transfer of a firearm, the FR form for a newly purchased firearm and the deed of sale of a firearm.
    "This only showed that the application forms and the deed of sale are void and there are misrepresentations, misdeclaration/falsity committed, thus he has not completed the standards and requisites for issuance of and obtaining an LTOPF to allow him to acquire firearms and ammunition," Lucas pointed out.
    Registered under Donato's name are 15 firearms of different kinds and calibers.
    Lucas directed Donato to turn over all his registered firearms within 48 hours upon receipt of the notice to the
    Regional Civil Security Unit Cordillera for subsequent disposition of PNP-FEO.
    He said the failure of the former mayor to comply with the directive would constrain the PNP to take the necessary step to confiscate the registered firearms in his possession.



Ex-Abra mayor’s gun permits revoked

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has revoked the license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) as well as the firearm registration (FR) of a former municipal mayor in Abra.
    The PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Office said there were misdeclarations, misrepresentations and falsity in the documents submitted by former mayor Artemio Donato Jr. of Langiden town.
    Based on an order of revocation signed by FEO chief Brig. Gen. Paul Kenneth Lucas, Donato’s applications for LTOPF and FR had “misdeclared” qualifications.
    “The revocation was a result of the continuous evaluation and audit of uploaded documents for the application of LTOPF and FR, wherein it appears that Mr. Donato misdeclared the true and correct qualification, the type of license and other license/s he possesses,” the order read.
    It said the documents uploaded by Donato bore different signatures.
    “These documents included the FR forms for the transfer of firearm and for a newly purchased firearm as well as the deed of sale of a firearm. This only showed that the application forms and the deed of sale are void,” the PNP-FEO said.
    It said the former mayor has not completed the standards and requisites for the issuance of an LTOPF.

    The order said Donato holds LTOPF type 5, sports shooter and gun collector licenses.

    There are 15 guns registered under Donato’s name, which the FEO ordered confiscated and turned over to the supply accountable officer for proper disposition.

    Donato was ordered to surrender the firearms to the regional civil security unit of

the Cordilleras.



Lawyer, groups hit NCIP for easing FPIC on Benguet mine

By Sherwin De Vera

BAGUIO CITY – Indigenous peoples' rights advocates and an environmental group questioned the decision of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples En Banc (CEB) to ease the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process for a mining company in Benguet.
    A CEB resolution dated March 16 stated the agency would apply Section 24 of the Revised FPIC Guidelines, which refers to non-extractive and small-scale activities, for Benguet Corporation's Certification Precondition (CP) application for its special mining permit (SMP) in Virac, Itogon in Benguet.
    The document said the Cordillera regional office presented the company's application with the request to consider the following circumstances: the SMP is for a one-year operation, renewable for another year; it is in partnership with the community with a 60-40 sharing in favor of the indigenous peoples; and the council of elders' endorsement of the project.
    The CEB noted that "the revised FPIC guidelines is silent on these kinds of application," referring to the SMP.     The body also considered the recommendation of the Legal Affairs Office and Ancestral Domains Office.
NCIP issues CP to attest that project proponents have undergone the mandatory FPIC and received the community's consent.
    But for lawyer and IP rights advocate Mary Ann Bayang, the reason "is not applicable and logical." She added that the period covered and the elders' endorsement do not change the nature of the operation.
    "Mining is an extractive industry, whether small or large scale and should be covered by the regular FPIC process," she said in an online interview on May 22.
    Bayang added that the guidelines is not 'silent,' noting that Section 19, which governs extractive and exploitative operations, does not distinguish between if it is a year or a longer.
    Projects under the provision require a longer and more rigid FPIC process. These include a review of the proceedings from the regional to the national office and deliberation of the CEB before issuing the CP.
    Why ease the process?
    "If we take the regular FPIC process, it might take longer than the period for the operation which is only one year," explained lawyer and NCIP Cordillera director Atanacio Addog on May 19, noting that the resolution was supposed to be an internal document.
    The director said the project will still undergo FPIC, but simpler than the usual process for projects under Section 19. "The company will still have to present the project to the community, they still need to secure the consent and enter a memorandum of agreement before we can issue the CP."
    Instead of being reviewed by the CEB, the regional office will assess the FPIC proceedings and issue the CP. It will then be transmitted to CAR and Region 1 Commissioner Gaspar Cayat for concurrence. After which, it will be forwarded for the confirmation of the chairperson.
    Addog also dismissed fears that the resolution is a bad precedent mining companies can use to circumvent the FPIC process. The lawyer said they would review the CP again after one year and change the process for the FPIC depending on their assessment.
    "BC's situation is different, its winding up its operation, no more large-scale production and it is only the Acupan mines that is operating under the contract mining agreement with the community," he added.
Dangerous precedent
Indigenous peoples' rights and environmental groups called the resolution "dangerous" and a move to "water down" safeguards provided by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), which mandates the conduct of FPIC for projects inside indigenous peoples' ancestral domains.
    "This is a dangerous precedent. It further erodes the little safeguard the IPRA offers," said Cordillera Peoples Alliance Secretary General Sarah Dekdeken during a May 19 interview.
    Dekdeken said the decision was not unexpected, saying this is not the first time NCIP made questionable decisions favoring project proponents.
    "It is not surprising for NCIP to push for leeway like this to accommodate big business, especially with officials like Cayat and Addog, who are both facing allegations and legal complaints for manipulating the FPIC process," she said.
    Cayat faces grave misconduct and malfeasance complaints filed by indigenous peoples in Sison, Pangasinan, before the Ombudsman. They alleged that he influenced the issuance of the Certificate for Non-Overlap for the renewal of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement of the Northern Cement Corporation without an FPIC process.
    Meanwhile, Addog is among the respondent in the complaint filed by residents of Kabugao, Apayao. They accused him and personnel of the NCIP Apayao office of manipulating the FPIC for the Gened 1 Dam, a Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corporation project.
    Meanwhile, Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment, said, "The move watered down the FPIC process to facilitate the needs" of the mining company.
    "Across the country, in many projects, the NCIP has routinely run roughshod over the FPIC of IPs and acted as lawyer and facilitator of big mining and other corporations. This last resolution is the final proof of this," 


Baguio-based SEA Games medalists cited

BAGUIO CITY – Local officials here recently commended Baguio-based athletes and their coaches who emerged victorious in their respective fields of sports in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) games held at Phnom Penh, Cambodia last May 5-17.
    In a resolution, the city council stated it was with great pride and joy that the city government and the people confer commendation to Baguio-based athletes and coaches for successfully representing the country and the city in the 32nd SEA Games.
    The SEA Games is a biennial multi-sports event involving participants from the current 11 countries of Southeast Asia where the 32nd edition was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last May 5 to17.
     This year’s sporting event featured 38 disciplines, mainly those played at the Olympic Games and with it is the official Philippine delegation that consists of 905 athletes and coaches.
    Among the Baguio-based athletes that performed exceptionally well during the said competition and who were able to bring home medals included Sandi Menchi Abahan of the women’s team relay obstacle course race – gold; Ian Clark Bautista of the men’s 57-kg men’s boxing – gold; Nesthy Petecio 57-kg women’s boxing – gold; Carlo Paalam 54-kg men’s boxing – gold; Jayson Balabal 82-kg Greco Roman wrestling – gold; Jean Claude Sacla- 63-kg men’s low kick kickboxing – gold; Claudine Veloso 52-kg women’s kickboxing – gold; Crisamuel -Cantores 60-kg vovinam – silver; Ariel Lampacan 55-kg men’s kun bokator – silver; Mariane Mariano 50-kg women’s kun bokator – silver; Hergie Bacyadan 65-kg vovinam – silver; Ronen Ladon 51-kg men’s boxing – silver; Gideon Fred Padua 60-kg men’s sanda wushu – silver; Renalyn Dacquel 48-kg women’s full contact kickboxing – silver; Gina Iniong Arau’s 55-kg kick light kickboxing – silver; Jeremy Pakatiw 67-kg men’s low kick kickboxing – silver; Jason Baucas 72-kg men’s Greco Roman wrestling – silver; Jerlyn Kingad 55-kg women’s vovinam – bronze; Jenelyn Olsim 54-kg women’s kun Khmer – bronze; Estie Gay Liwanen mixed duo classic jiu-jitsu – bronze; Felix Dave Cantores 67-kg men’s kun Khmer – bronze; Zyra Bon-as 51-kg women’s kun Khmer – bronze; Godwin Langbayan 70-kg men’s combat kun bokator – bronze; Jeordan Dominguez senior team freestyle poomsea – bronze; Justin Kobe Macario team of 5 members taekwondo – bronze; Honorio Banario 71-kg low kick kickboxing – bronze; Jomar Balangui 57-kg men’s low kick kickboxing – bronze; Kurt Lubrica 51-kg low kick kickboxing – bronze; Carlo Von Buminaang 67-kg full contact kickboxing – bronze; Daryl Chulipas 51-kg men’s kick boxing – bronze; Danny Kingad 60-kg men’s full contact kickboxing – bronze; Christel Rei Fuentespina team event badminton – bronze; Ezekyl Habig men’s bantamweight full contact padded point arnis – bronze and Makjohn Niel Pineda men’s team anyo arnis - 3 members – bronze.
    The council stated the outstanding performance of the Baguio-based athletes with guidance of their coaches and support of their families portrayed discipline and sports excellence perfected through years of training and dedication that serves as inspiration and motivation for the whole country and  worthy of emulation to the people of the nation and the city, especially to the youth. -- Dexter A. See


Weekly Covid-19 cases top 200 in Ilocos region

By John Michael Mugas 

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — At least 246 individuals were infected with Covid-19 in the Ilocos region between May 14 and 20, the regional Dept. of Health said on Monday, May 22.
    In its latest case bulletin, the DOH said the weekly average of cases dropped by five percent compared to the infections logged the previous week.
    None of the new cases were tagged as severe or critical, the DOH said.
    During the same period, the DOH said one person died due to the virus.
Healthcare utilization rate continued to be in the “safe” zone despite the number of cases topping 200 in the past two weeks.
    At least 16 percent of the 182 intensive care unit (ICU) beds set aside for suspect, probable, and confirmed cases, had been occupied, the DOH data showed. Ten percent, or 120 of the 1,212 non-ICU beds, were also occupied.
    Of the total admissions, seven patients were being treated as “severe and critical admissions,” the DOH data showed. The state-run Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, also said that at least eight of its health workers were isolated due to the virus.
    In a separate bulletin, the independent pandemic monitor Octa Research said the Ilocos region’s provinces of La Union and Pangasinan were among the areas in Luzon that had high seven-day COVID-19 positivity rates.
    The positivity rate in La Union was 21.1 percent, while it was 15.5 percent in Pangasinan, according to Octa.


LTO bars car plates confiscation

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has prohibited the confiscation of license plates during apprehensions by law enforcers.
    LTO chief Jay Art Tugade said that traffic enforcers are not allowed to confiscate license plates even if they cannot impound the apprehended motor vehicle.
    “Therefore, to avoid further confusion, all LTO law enforcement personnel and its deputized agents shall be prohibited from confiscating motor vehicle license plates in lieu of the physical impoundment of the apprehended motor vehicle,” according to a memorandum Tugade signed on April 27 but released to the media only yesterday.
    Tugade said the LTO has received complaints over the confiscation of license plates when some motorists are apprehended for traffic violations.
    He said a 2014 joint administrative order does not stipulate the confiscation of license plates during apprehensions.
    The order’s provisions state that only the driver’s license, student permit or motor vehicle may be flagged if the law enforcer cannot administer the penalty on the motorist.
    Tugade said the LTO’s central command center can immediately relay information about flagged motor vehicles to law enforcers on the field.




P9.4-M marijuana burned in Benguet

ATOK, Benguet -- Marijuana plants with an estimated market value of P9.4 million were destroyed last week in separate areas here and the town of Kibungan, Benguet last week.
    Officers of the Benguet 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company raided the marijuana plantations in the villages of Badeo and Caliking located in Kibungan and Atok towns, respectively.
    Among those torched by the team were 980 fully grown marijuana shrubs, 320 seedlings and 75 kilos of dried stalks.
    The officers also discovered two marijuana seedbeds with up to 2,000 seedlings valued at P104,000 in Barangay Badeo.
    Probers have yet to identify the caretakers of the plantations.



DOTR sets P62-M to upgrade Baguio, Bicol airports; bidding on

BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Transportation will spend around P62 million to expand and improve airports in Baguio and Bicol in line with its program to modernize provincial gateways.
    In invitations to bid, the DOTr said it is looking for contractors to rehabilitate and upgrade the Loakan Airport in Baguio City and Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay.
    The DOTr plans to invest P48.45 million for the Loakan Airport development project.
Construction works include the rehabilitation of the passenger terminal building and reconstruction of the perimeter fence as well as the airport gate.
    Based on documents, the DOTr will spend P13.57 million for runway strip grade correction at the Bicol International Airport.
    The rehabilitation and upgrade of Loakan Airport must be completed in 300 days.
    Runway works at the Bicol International Airport must be delivered in 120 days.
    Flag carrier Philippine Airlines launched flights between Baguio City and Cebu City last year, marking the return of the airline to its first destination.
    Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista is pushing for the improvement of regional airports to boost tourism in the provinces.
    This year, Bautista expects the public and private sectors to complete P1 trillion in airport projects, mostly in the regions.


Mayor: No to bankruptcy of Laoag City General Hospital

By Leilanie Adriano 

LAOAG CITY–Despite incurring financial losses over the past seven years, the ailing Laoag City General Hospital will continue and recover in due time.
    Mayor Michael Marcos Keon assured this Wednesday as he opposed the declaration of bankruptcy of the city government-run hospital to get rid of the financial burden.
    Currently, the hospital is manned by 94 permanent employees and almost 100 contract service personnel.
    The LCGH has been in “bad health” with more than P78 million in total debt when Keon assumed as mayor of Laoag in 2019.
    Following a public hearing attended by hospital personnel and members of the city council on May 23, Keon has asked for more time to free the hospital from incurring more debts.
    “We are not declaring bankruptcy. We will do all ways to save the LCGH. Just give us time to recover,” said Keon in a statement.
    Financial record shows that from 2017 to 2022, the Laoag Hospital has been struggling with a net loss of more or less P50 million annually.
    During the hearing, Dr. Marsha Lou Wapan and Dr. Mary-Ann Luis from the Laoag City General Hospital reported that there are hospital equipment such as dialysis machines, CT scan, 2D echo machine, anesthesia machine, medical oxygen generating machine, ECG machine, and other laboratory equipment that are no longer functioning, hence the number of patients going to the said hospital has declined over the years.
    Shortages of medicines and medical supplies were also reported because the practice of the consignment system was red-flagged by the Commission on Audit.
    To aid the hospital operation, the office of Ilocos Norte (1st District) Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos has downloaded a total of P30 million from the Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP) program of the Department of Health.
    As of this posting, the local chief executive has declined to elaborate further about his concrete plans to save the hospital but he assured help is underway to make the hospital run smoothly again.
    For now, cost-cutting measures are being practiced at the hospital to help reduce the financial burden. -- PNA


Nolcom neutralizes six NPAs, seize 42 firearms

By Liezle Basa Inigo

CAMP Aquino, Tarlac City – The Armed Forces-Northern Luzon Command reported on Monday, May 22, that six New People’s Army rebels were neutralized in their area of jurisdiction from Jan. 1 to present.
    Nolcom chief Lt. Gen. Fernyl Buca said four NPAs were apprehended, two surrendered, and two others were identified as lie-low members.
    Buca said 158 mass base supporters have withdrawn their support to the communist movement.
    Nolcom recovered 21 high-powered firearms, 21 low-powered firearms, and 38 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the NPA.
    Buca thanked the bravery and commitment of troops involved in operations against the NPA, the success of these, he said, is a testament to the Nolcom’s unwavering commitment to the safety and security of the people in the region.
    Nolcom covers the Ilocos region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon, including the Scarborough Shoal and the Benham Rise. 
    It is responsible for the defense of these areas against external aggression, as well as combating terrorism and insurgency.


Electric coop illegally deducted pay of electric co-op employees

Congressional hearing findings 

The salaries of employees of the Isabela Electric Cooperative have been illegally deducted for payments to One EC MCO Network Foundation, a hearing in Congress discovered.
    Emilia de Guzman, supervising officer from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said the deductions violate DOLE Advisory No. 11 Series of 2014 on Non-Interference in the Disposal of Wages and Allowable Deductions.
    De Guzman made the statement during the joint hearing of the House committee on energy and committee on North Luzon growth quadrangle.
    Based on the said advisory, employers may only deduct from employee's wages those that are authorized by law, including insurance premiums, or if the deductions are with written authorization of employees.
    A joint affidavit filed by ISELCO-I employees revealed that without their consent, rank and file employees were being deducted P100 monthly, supervisors P150, department heads P200, general managers P500, and the board of directors P200.
    According to the affidavit, the forced remittances have reached a total of P1,549,750, which were collected from 2019 until 2022. 
Files retrieved from the Securities and Exchange Commission show that One EC MCO Network Foundation was established by officials of various electric cooperatives across the country.



Missing college student found dead in Cagayan

By Villamor Visaya Jr. 

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The body of a missing 21-year-old woman was found early Tuesday, May 23, behind bushes in Barangay Annafunan East in this city, police said.

Investigators identified the victim as Jasmin Grace Casale, a resident of Atulayan Norte village and a college student.

Capt. Rosemarie Taguiam, Tuguegarao City police information officer, said Casale failed to return home on May 20 after telling her parents that she was meeting a friend.

Policemen were still investigating the circumstances that led to the victim’s death.




CIDG Cordi chief bares arrests; support of folks

By March Fianza

BAGUIO CITY –Col. Reynaldo L. Lizardo, newly installed regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – Cordillera (CIDG-CAR) recognized last week unsolicited efforts of people who support and cooperate with the agency which makes their work easier.
    In many cases, especially in the implementation of warrants issued by the courts, the assistance of the community led to the arrest of wanted criminals.
    The information the police agency received from members of the community helped track fugitives, the CIDG chief admitted.
    On April 25, 2023 at Gobgob, Tabuk City; operatives of the CIDG in Kalinga led by Major Eric Constantino arrested suspect Jerome Magadang Bello by virtue of a warrant of arrest for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.
    The case stemmed from the complaint of a van driver of a person who attempted to send a small bottle of marijuana oil through a terminal for passenger vans bound for Baguio. This was reported to the police station that led to the filing of charges in court.
    Last May 8, Maj. John Lee W. Balao-as of the CIDG Benguet PFU and his men arrested suspects Erwin Bayacsan Lictao, Morfred Serma Orden and Frederick Tamang Carantes at Lamut-Shilan Road, La Trinidad for violation of Intellectual Property Code (RA8293) and BP 33.
The three were caught in the act of replacing genuine valve seals of LPG cylinder tanks.
Earlier on April 26, Major Balao-as led his men in arresting Raye Anne Marie Coloma Perez in Dasmariñas, Cavite by virtue of a WoA for 109 counts of qualified theft.
Proper intelligence work and community cooperation led to the suspect’s location.
On another front on the same day, Major James Dogao and his men were busy conducting a buy-bust operation against suspect Monroe Asingan Callejo who was arrested at Calaba, Bangued, Abra after selling to a poseur-buyer an unlicensed 9mm cal. Daewoo pistol in violation of RA 10591.
Even a 22-year old WoA has to be served. On April 27, 2023 in Ifugao, Major Bob Stephen Paguirigan and his men arrested suspect Reymualdo Fernandez a.k.a. Fernandez Pinkihan Uloan Jr. for carnapping by virtue of an Alias WoA that was issued on October 1, 2001.
On the same day in Baguio, CIDG operatives led by Major Jayrol D. Oribillo arrested suspect Mildred Estacio Cabanlig by virtue of a WoA for Illegal Recruitment Committed in Large Scale while Capt. Mal-in Dacay and his men in Apayao nabbed suspect Armando Tamporing Gaspar by virtue of a WoA for Frustrated Homicide. 
On May 9, Major Rodney D. Godio, chief of the intelligence section of CIDG RFU14 and his men nabbed suspect Romulo Leones Acosta a.k.a. Pedro at Dalupirip, Itogon by virtue of a WoA for murder.
All the while, Acosta has been wanted in Binalonan, Pangasinan.
Most cases, according to Lizardo, were solved due to the cooperation they get from communities where they operate.



Seaman held for peddling drugs in Cagayan

By Liezle Basa Inigo

ABULUG, Cagayan – A seaman was arrested in a buy-bust operation here, a report said on Monday, May 22.
    The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Regional Office 2-Batanes Provincial Office and Abulug police identified the suspect as Denis Tagoc Viloria, 39, of Pamplona, Cagayan.
    Viloria yielded a heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing suspected shabu weighing one gram, sling bag with  five rectangular shape resin containing suspected hashish wrapped in a cling wrap and transparent tape weighing 600 grams with an estimated market value of P150,000, cellular phone, motorcycle, and the buy-bust money.
    Suspect is facing drug-related charges.
    Viloria was arrested in the sixth high-impact operation for the semester in the region conducted by the PDEA and the police.


DOLE starts council for Ilocos construction trade

By Hilda Austria 

MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – The Dept. of Labor and Employment  reactivated the Regional Industry Tripartite Council for Construction to strengthen the industry in  Ilocos Region.
    In a phone interview on Wednesday, DOLE Ilocos regional information officer Justin Marbella said while no particular problem or issue is being encountered in the construction industry, there is the need to have it prioritized considering it is the key employment generator in the region.
    Marbella said the reactivated RITC will serve as an information network, specifically on labor relation issues and industry configurations at the appropriate level.
    “The RITC will also monitor compliance with sectoral commitments as embodied in national, regional, local, or industry tripartite accords. (It will likewise) ensure implementation of the action plan relative to the Philippine Decent Work Common Agencies,” he said.
    The council also assists concerned agencies in the identification of industries or establishments with potential for growth, and those which are likely to experience labor disputes or in need of appropriate responses with respect to the industry-specific concern, he added.
    RITC for construction is composed of elected officers out of the 100 management and labor representatives of various construction companies from the four provinces of the region.
    "The Construction RITC shall be instrumental to ensure the sustained social dialogue and collaborative networks between and among stakeholders in the construction industry," Assistant Regional Director Honorina Dian-Baga said in a statement.
    She said through the RITC, DOLE can initiate deeper engagement with the construction industry by soliciting inputs from labor and management representatives.
    DOLE urges more construction employers in employment facilitation programs, such as job fairs and the Special Program for Employment of Students.
    The elected officers were Joseph Padayao, Rommel Vivit, Rudy Ducusin, and Benedict Beguas as co-chairpersons for management and Demetrio Sabalburo Jr., Luis Ancheta, Ciriaco Ordinario III, and Analee Caberto as co-chairpersons for labor.
    Management representatives are John Quidez, Ferdinand Yago, Deo Angel Hipol, and Lester Aquino; while labor representatives are Analie Rania, Eddie Rodriguez, Jerelene Ligo, and Jemima Abata. (PNA)


Bontoc self-employed; folks with low pay aided

By Alpine L. Killa-Malwagay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Ten individuals were beneficiaries of the Dept. of Labor and Employment Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) or Kabuhayan program.
    Bontoc Mayor Jerome "Chagsen" Tudlong, Jr., Senior Employment Labor Officer Marshall Pachingel of DOLE  provincial office and Employment Officer Jenelyn Caluza of the Bontoc local government led turnover of Kabuhayan kits to recipients on May 22 at the municipal capitol. 
    Among approved livelihood project proposals were food processing, food vending, hog raising, and sari-sari store.
    Tudlong expressed his gratitude to the DOLE for continuously assisting various organizations, self-employed, seasonal workers, and minimum wage earners in Bontoc and capacitating them to generate income. 
    The mayor urged recipients to manage their livelihood projects wisely for these to prosper.
    He added failure and success of their livelihood projects depended on how they will manage it.
    He advised them to capacitate themselves through trainings for these to be sustained. 
    He said the Bontoc LGU will strengthen its collaboration and linkages to partner agencies for more livelihood opportunities. 
    Caluza said as counterpart, the Bontoc LGU shall conduct monitoring of implementation of the project. Also, it provided technical assistance during the preparation of the project proposals. 
Meanwhile, the Bontoc LGU is processing project proposals of fire victims of the April 11 fire incident here to avail of the Kabuhayan Program. 
The Kabuhayan Program is a grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood to enable the unemployed, seasonal, and minimum wage earners to start livelihood undertakings or income-generating projects (IGPs) and enable existing IGPs to grow into viable and sustainable businesses that provide income.
It is implemented through DOLE’s Accredited Co-Partner (ACP) which is responsible for the delivery of services to the beneficiaries.
Bontoc LGU, as an ACP of DOLE received the financial grant allotted for recipients and shall be responsible for procurement and delivery of equipment, materials, products, tools, and other needs of the beneficiaries for their respective livelihood projects.



4 unregistered guns seized in Cordillera

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet – Police recovered four unregistered firearms in Cordillera on May 20.
    Reports submitted to Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director Police Brig. Gen. David Peredo Jr. said two loose firearms were surrendered to the Abra Provincial Police Office, one to Ifugao PPO, and one was confiscated by the Kalinga PPO.
    In Abra, Barangay Kagawad (councilor) Miguel Damagen Pagada of Barangay San Ramon East voluntarily surrendered one Cal.22 revolver to the Manabo Municipal Police Station while Mylene Margarette Quezada Sepong, 47, turned over one homemade shotgun to Tineg police station.
    Elorde Julian voluntarily surrendered one Cal. 38 revolver to the Alfonso Lista, Ifugao police station.
    These firearms are now under the custody of apprehending units for documentation before turn over to their Provincial Forensic Unit for Integrated Ballistic Identification System.
    In Tabuk City, Kalinga, police confiscated a Cal. 38 revolver from Joel Agger Arcio, 24, in Barangay Nambaran after he failed to provide pertinent documents for the firearm.
    This gun is now in the custody of the Tabuk City Police Station. Suspect is facing charges for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.


48 wanted persons nabbed; no crime in 31 Cordi towns

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet – Forty-eight individuals, including eight most wanted persons, were arrested during a simultaneous manhunt operation conducted by Cordillera police in the region May 14 to May 20.
    Based on the records from the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division, Baguio City Police Office made most arrests with 15 wanted persons, followed by the Benguet Police Provincial Office with 13 arrests, Abra PPO with nine arrests, Ifugao PPO with six arrests, Kalinga PPO and Mountain Province PPO with two arrests each, and Apayao PPO with one arrest.
    Of the arrested personalities, eight individuals were listed as most wanted, including four at the provincial level and the other four at the city level.
    PRO-Cordillera Director Police Brig. General David Peredo Jr. said as a result of the intensified police presence, 51 municipalities in the different provinces of the region and one police station in Baguio City remain peaceful, as PRO-Cordillera recorded zero crime incidents during the same week.
    Zero crime incidents were recorded in 21 out of 27 municipalities in Abra; five out of six municipalities in Apayao; four out of 13 municipalities in Benguet; six out of seven municipalities in Kalinga; seven out of 11 municipalities in Ifugao, and eight out of ten municipalities in Mountain Province.


Baguio dengue down but one death bared

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY --The number of dengue cases here is down even as one death was reported for the first quarter of 2023, city epidemiology surveillance unit officer Dr. Donna Tubera-Panes said.
    The peak number of cases in 2019 was even lower than cases of the previous years due to anti-dengue activities which included monitoring and clean-ups by residents and local government, the anti-dengue committee meeting said.
    Other activities included searching and eradicating mosquito breeding places, plant shake-ups and oplan taob wherein receptacles and rain-water collecting containers were overturned to prevent mosquito eggs from developing, hatching and multiplying.
    In recent rounds, Dr. Panes and her team observed that stored water for general and household use needs to be covered against egg-laying mosquitoes.
    Inside portion of containers previously with water should also be scoured clean for randomly stuck mosquito eggs, as once refilled, may still hatch into pupa, larvae and adult, Panes said.
    The action prevents the reproduction of 3.6 million mosquito eggs in a month, from only a pair, she added.
    Data from the University of the Philippines Department of Mathematics and Computer Science bared dengue cases are on a three-year cyclic pattern but lately, sporadic behavior was noted.
    From the usual decrease in cases after the rainy months, the drop happens now as late as the end of December; with four serotypes now dominant in the months of June to September.
Reported increase in dengue cases are due to external factors; rainy season, cyclic pattern, lack of water, and climate change, Dr. Panes reported.
There are now 22 public and private laboratories reporting dengue cases whereas in the past years, only government hospitals and health centers report laboratory results.  
Validation and geotagging of cases is also recommended as several barangays have histories in frequency of cases; including surrounding areas. Vector surveillance for prediction of cases is now done in 52 barangays by the University of Baguio medical laboratory science, community and public health students in coordination with the Dept. of Health.
It was also noted in the meeting that some school-age children’s allergies prevented use of insecticide-sprayed nets in primary schools; including issues on ventilation and air circulation.
    Much of the cases were school children, Dr. Panes said. Data showed frequency of dengue cases involved those less than 10 years old, 20 to 29 years old, 10 to 19, 30 to 39 and followed by the rest of the ages.
It was recommended that validation of cases at the community level be done to confirm possible transmission of dengue.
    Fever of two days or more should warrant a consultation, while fever after 2 to 7 days is the start of the critical period.
    A data bank for cases as early as 2002 would also be useful for data analysis, Dr. Panes said.
    The meeting also tackled the functions of the Baguio City Anti-Dengue Committee members and P40 million funds from the Dept. of Health to address the problem.



16 town gov’t workers get Covid-19; masks ordered

CABATUAN, Isabela -- The local government unit here has implemented mandatory wearing of masks among government workers in its offices since May 19, local officials said.
    This came after 16 town hall workers were confirmed Covid-19 positive in both antigen and RT-PCR tests.
    The workers, who do not have travel histories, were placed under a seven-day home quarantine. Disinfection was also carried out in municipal offices.
    Mayor Bernardo Garcia earlier ordered a half-day of work on Friday as contact tracing is ongoing.
    Two days ago, two contractual workers under the Government Internship Program tested positive for the Covid-19 virus and were placed under home quarantine for seven days. Garcia tasked the Rural Health Unit-Cabatuan and PNP-Cabatuan police in implementing the mandatory wearing of masks among workers in the local public places. Villagers were also urged to use masks.
    Mask distribution and information drives in the town have been imposed.
    Earlier, eleven teachers and two students of the Cabatuan National High School were put under home isolation last week after they were confirmed Covid positive.
    The classes were also held either online or modular until Friday.



SM helps address Baguio water lack through recycling

By Rain Cervantes

BAGUIO CITY -- Water scarcity is one of the biggest issues that Baguio is facing today. Earlier, the Baguio City Water District warned the public of a water crisis caused by deep wells that dried up the water table.
    Thankfully, customers and tenants of SM City Baguio are assured of continuous water supply for cleaning and sanitation, without having to fully rely on the water table of the city.
    SM City Baguio is among the 22 SM Supermalls in the country that employ facilities to reduce freshwater consumption. In the early 2000s, SM Prime started to build malls with wastewater treatment facilities for the recycling of water used in the mall.
All wastewater from tenants and mall restrooms are treated in the sewage treatment plants to become non-potable water. The recycled water is then used for cooling towers of air conditioning units, watering plants around the mall, and for cleaning of lavatories.
In 2021, SM Supermalls was able to save a total of 8.7 million cubic meters of water across its malls nationwide. This much water is enough to fill 3,480 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
"Aside from minimizing our impact on common water resources, recycling water through these sewage treatment plants allows our malls to save big on water costs," Engr. Liza Silerio, SM Supermalls Vice President for Corporate Compliance, said. "Now, imagine if we all did it. I think we can leave a significant positive impact on our country's source of fresh water."
SM Prime is committed to supporting the United Nations in achieving its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including “SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation” which aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Other initiatives of SM aimed toward this include the Trash-to-Cash Market and Plastic Waste Collection initiative, both promoting responsible disposal of plastic waste so they don't end up in seas and oceans; the AweSMSeas campaign in partnership with the USAID and PRRCI, which raises awareness of the importance of managing plastic pollution affecting the world's waters; and the International Coastal Cleanup that gathers thousands of volunteers annually.
Visit to learn more about the sustainability programs of SM Prime Holdings.





Remove vessel with smuggled fuel in Pangasinan, BOC told

By Cesar Ramirez

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The Bureau of Customs should remove a vessel loaded with more than one million liters of smuggled fuel docked in Sual Bay, according to the Pangasinan provincial government.
    “The ship should be moved to a safer location to protect the bay area from destruction in the event crude oil from the ship leaks,” Gov. Ramon Guico said in a post on the official Facebook page of the provincial government on Wednesday.
    Provincial legal officer Baby Ruth Torre said she has written the BOC regarding the request of the provincial government.
    Motor vessel Veronica I was placed under the custody of the BOC office in Sual after it was found to be carrying 1,350 kiloliters of smuggled fuel on May 4.
    Guico called an emergency meeting Monday during which the Maritime Industry Authority confirmed the vessel was not issued a safety certificate.
    Commander Mark Theodore Valencia, Philippine Coast Guard-Pangasinan station chief, said Veronica 1 should be allowed to dock at Sual Fish Port as a safety precaution for a super typhoon expected to enter the country this weekend.
    “But it has to be ensured that the evidence, the contents of the ship, will be guarded,” Guico said even as he stressed that the ship should be eventually removed from the bay.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said no oil slick has been detected so far in the area.




Establishments told: Honor IDs of seniors

By Jordan Habbiling

BAGUIO CITY -- The City Council Monday approved on first reading a proposed ordinance penalizing drug stores and establishments not recognizing other government-issued identification cards for granting senior citizen discounts in the city.
    Under the proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, Jr., pertinent provisions shall apply to all business establishments, including drug stores that grant senior citizen discounts within the city.
    The ordinance stipulated that all business establishments shall recognize other government-issued identification cards such as Philippine passport or driver’s license, voter’s ID, unified multipurpose ID and postal ID, among others, as valid proof of age and eligibility for senior citizens’ discounts.
    Any establishment found violating the pertinent provisions of the proposed measure shall be fined P2,000 for the first offense, a fine of P3,000 for the second offense and a fine of P5,000 for the third offense.
    Further, the erring establishments shall be required to submit a written explanation to the Office of the City Mayor within 48 hours after the receipt of the notice of violation stating the valid reason for not honoring other government-issued IDs in the grant of the required discounts to senior citizens.
    The ordinance tasked the City Social Welfare and Development office to review and monitor the implementation of the measure.
    According to the proposed measure, it is the responsibility of all establishments to recognize and honor government-issued IDs to ensure that senior citizens get the benefits to which they are entitled.
    Republic Act (RA) 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 grants senior citizens privileges and benefits, including a 20-percent discount on their purchases from all establishments, including drug stores and medical and dental services.
Under the implementing rules and regulations of the aforesaid law, the identification document refers to any document or proof of being a senior citizen which may be used for the availment of benefits and privileges under the law and its rules.
Further, it shall be any of the of the government-issued IDs, such as seniors ID card issued by the Office of the Senior citizens Affairs (OSCA) in the city or municipality where the elderly resides, the Philippine passport of the elderly or senior citizen concerned and other valid documents that establishes the senior citizen’s as a citizen of the country and at least 60 years of age, which shall include but not be limited to the other government-issued identification documents indicating an elderly’s birthdate or age such as driver’s license, voter’s ID, SSS or GSIS ID, PRC card, and postal ID.
 Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) affirmed that failure to present a senior citizen’s ID card issued by the office of Senior Citizens Affairs is not a ground for non-availment of discount privileges under the law. --Dexter A. See



Baguio university students demand stop to tuition hike

BAGUIO CITY—Students of Saint Louis University (SLU) and University of the Cordilleras (UC) are opposing the looming tuition and other fees increase in said universities, claiming it is “unjust” considering economic conditions.
    The impending tuition hikes, set at 9 percent for SLU and 10 percent for UC, are the highest in five years for both schools and will be implemented among the incoming freshmen.
    Private universities across the country are also planning similar steps. Last month, Manila students called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to intervene, citing intense inflation as grounds for a tuition moratorium.
    On Sunday, students from the two Baguio universities appealed to their respective school administrations to implement a moratorium on tuition increases or at least provide transparency. Both SLU and UC have yet to respond to the students’ call for a moratorium and explanation.
    “It is very frustrating, especially considering the grave economic situation with the 7.7-percent regional inflation,” said Ren De Jesus, a third-year behavioral science student from UC, in an interview with the Inquirer.
    De Jesus and other students at UC and SLU have been asking their university administrations how the funds from the impending fee hike will be spent.
According to CHEd Memorandum 3, series of 2012, student councils and faculty must be consulted before implementing TOFI.
No consultations?
When asked if their student council was informed about the TOFI at UC, De Jesus said they were not consulted.
“The TOFI announcement was released during our term break when people were not in school,” De Jesus said.
Mario Oriana, an incoming freshman at UC, described the TOFI as “unfair,” stating that the school administration did not involve students in the decision-making process.
“We really don’t know why it’s 10 percent or where the money from that increase is going to go. There’s no explanation or justification. It just existed,” Oriana said in a separate interview.
Gabrielle Francisco, the Supreme Student Council President at SLU, stated that the consultations for TOFI were delayed.
“The consultations were supposed to be done in the first semester. Technically speaking, what else do the students need to do? Imagine, three days before the deadline of CHEd, they only showed the proposed changes,” Francisco said.
Kevin Pineda, a third-year political science student at SLU, noted that the university’s explanation regarding TOFI was vague.
Recoup losses
In a previous dialogue with students in April, the SLU administration stated that the increase would help recoup profit losses from the past two years without TOFI.
But Pineda mentioned that SLU was charging fees for internet, visual and information technology, among others, despite these services not being used due to the campus being vacated.
According to the Inquirer, the additional funds generated from TOFI are spent by SLU based on CHEd Memorandum 3, series of 2012.
Seventy percent of the TOFI budget is allocated for faculty and staff wages and benefits, while the remaining 20 percent goes toward improving facilities, laboratories, and equipment.
However, Pineda lamented that in both SLU and UC, some facilities and equipment remained “dysfunctional.”
“Many classes use the laboratories and reagents, and they distribute the lacking laboratory equipment, maki
ng it harder to perform the lab activities. Inside the classrooms, there are many run-down chairs that are uncomfortable to use,” Pineda explained.
Francisco also stated that this problem is widespread across many colleges in SLU.
Other fees
De Jesus said it also remained unclear to UC students where all the additional funds from TOFI are channeled since the students also pay a fee for the maintenance and development of UC’s land and facilities.
“Aside from the increase in tuition, we also pay P500 LIMAD fee (land, infrastructure, maintenance, acquisition, and development), which will now be P550,” De Jesus said.De Jesus added: “The students have been questioning for a long time because even the breakdown is not included in our white form.”
Despite the increase in tuition and the LIMAD fee in recent years, De Jesus stated that UC students have not experienced any improvement in student services.
“[It is intriguing that the students have to pay excessively, but they do not even fix the portal. There are always errors. Other projectors also don’t work properly. We have to move to other classrooms so we can present and use the projector properly,” De Jesus said.
While the country reels from inflation and the rising prices of goods, “it would be best if we had a halt with the tuition increase,” according to De Jesus.
“But if that’s not possible, I hope the school administration is transparent,” Oriana said.
On April 24th, SLU students staged a rally at the main gate of their Bonifacio campus to protest the impending TOFI that the school administration plans to impose for the academic year 2023-2024.
“We want to have more discussions with [the school administration], too, to get an answer to why there’s a tuition fee increase in the first place,” Oriana said.
Officials of the two schools on Tuesday were not immediately available for comment.  -- Jethro Bryan AndradaJustine Rhys Lawrence Martirez 



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