>> Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ramon S. Dacawi
It takes a plane …

If it takes a village to raise a child, it sometimes takes more than a village to heal a child. Sometimes it takes a series of connecting plane rides for free, as that taken by toddlers Carl and Clarence Aguirre in 2003. Or Karen May Bongat, then a teen-ager from Siquijor in 2005.

Born with their heads conjoined in 2002, Carl and Clarence were flown from Silay City to Manila and then to New York. There, they were separated through a series of surgery at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Karen was flown from Cebu to Manila and then to South Carolina in the United States. There, she underwent reconstructive surgery for burns suffered when she was three.

It took more than a village that gave them a chance to live and grow up as normally as possible, like normal kids. It took the gecko-like tenacity of their parents and relatives, the kindness and expertise of the doctors and the hospitals, the initiatives of grounded civic clubs (Rotary in the case of Karen) and the embrace of foster parents in the U.S. who opened their homes.

It took Philippine Airlines to have their healing process get off the ground. The Philippines’ flag carrier, for years, has been flying indigent patients for free, through its Medical Travel Grant, according to Maria Carmen Sarmiento, executive director of PAL Foundation.

Yet Ms. Sarmiento herself has a wish and appeal relayed during a recent phone call. She would like more Filipino-American families to reconnect back to the villages here by serving as foster parents of ailing children flown in by PAL to their adopted states.

It’s a doable, practical Filipino wish that our Filipino expats would surely find fulfilling, a sure-fire antidote to their own longing for home. After all, we are not what we have, as Mike Jacobs of the Grand Forks Herald of North Carolina noted in one of his winning editorials written in the wake of a disaster that hit his community.

Precisely that’s the reason why a Filipina nurse in the U.S., who goes by the chat room name “Princess Lea”, launched the other year “e-wagwagan”. It’s an e-bay type of fund drive she named after the highly successful ‘wagwagan” or hand-me-down clothes shops here in Baguio.
Princess Lea was not so successful, and ended up shouldering the bulk of the amount raised. It was for a Baguio boy born with a hole in his heart. The kid, Santy John Tuyan, then 10, eventually went under the knife and now goes to school like any normal boy.

That’s why, last week, Princess Lea e-mailed “Wish Ko Lang”, the public service television program of GMA Network. She was asking if the program can consider the wish of a 10-year old Baguio boy to ride an airplane. Mark Anthony Viray has been looking up the sky since he as three, always fascinated and irretrievably magnetized by the sound and flight of airplanes.

“Gusto ko maging piloto,” the boy said recently, when he and his father Ernesto went out knocking on doors, hoping a Samaritan would open.Ernesto, a 50-year old widower and an off-and-on taxi and family driver, also started looking up the sky last August 23. He was looking for answers to questions a parent in his situation has all the right to ask. That day, Mark Anthony was diagnosed for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph nodes.

That’s why Julian Chees, an Igorot martial artist and former world shotokan (traditional) karate champion, took time to meet Mark Anthony before flying back to Germany, his adopted home. Julian, who was here to visit his ailing mother, shouldered Mark Anthony’s first of six sessions of chemotherapy. He left an additional amount which he advised will go to other patients here.



March L. Fianza
My dear Baguio

I hope you will not find this letter so corny. Anyway, records say you are 99 years old, although many of your children of a silent past believe you are older than that. I also believe you already had a share of the good life even before carpet baggers from Manila collaborated with the Americans to give you the name “Baguio.”

They subdivided you into “zones” but at the same time, tucked pieces of prime lands under their names. Whatever happened to you in the past, we wish you a very happy birthday and may you have more birthdays to come. As you set to live a hundred, I hope that the people who run your affairs today, including us, have all the time and energy to correct the wrongs that happened to you in the past.

As you celebrate your 99th anniversary tomorrow, I would just want to revisit some things about how you lost your lands and forests to logging concessionaires, realtors and the mining companies. I personally experienced some of these while some were read from old reports and heard from my old folks.

You were looked upon as the beauty of the sub-province of Benguet and her capital town when you were yet to become a chartered city on September 1, 1909; aside from being baptized as the Summer Capital of the Philippines by the Philippine Commission on June 1, 1903. In 1916, La Trinidad, your older sister took over as the capital of Benguet.

The establishment of communal forests followed with the issuance of Proclamation No. 15 in April 1922 by Gov. Gen. Leonard Wood that proclaimed Busol as a forest reservation. Along with that proclamation was an American colonial title issued in favor of one of your daughters Kalomis for a tract of land alongside the Busol reservation.

In trying to analyze the twin issuances, I have become more convinced that the Kalomis property sits alongside the Busol reservation, not overlapping each other. Even the Supreme Court upholds that in a recent decision it issued. It now turns out that the facilities of a water utility company are built inside a private title. But that is another story which can be discussed in the future.

The American period was the time of exploitation of your forests and the natural resources of your sister towns in Benguet. Two sawmills at that time were already operating in Sto. Tomas and Irisan. Incidentally, if not deliberately, a forest license to cut an “allowable annual quota” of 3,000 cubic meters of Pine lumber from forests inside and around Baguio was issued by the government to the Benguet Commercial Company, an entity established in 1902 by Governor HP Whitmarsh.
In 1923, the Benguet Electric Co. was in operation in the Agno River . It was installed to support mining and logging activities. It was mining that consumed the timber and water from your forests. In fact, mining activities below you continue to suck water from your watersheds today. The volume of water and lumber that your constituents and your sister La Trinidad consumed was insignificant in comparison to the volume required by the tunnels and mills in the mining camps.
The Heald Lumber Company, even before becoming incorporated in 1934, already had its glory days logging over most of your forested areas here to the north in Mt. Data . Together with the Bobok Timber Project, the Pine wood sawmills supported the booming gold mines in Lepanto and Itogon.

To justify what they did to your Pine forests, the Americans in 1936 issued Proclamations 581 and 634, respectively opening Mt. Sto . Tomas and Mt. Data to “controlled” logging. It was in this period that migrants of job seekers and businessmen of all sorts from the neighboring provinces migrated into your lands.

The mining camps established by the Americans in Lepanto and Itogon served as magnets to thousands of job seekers who later became permanent squatters in your bosom. From a sleepy mountain district envisioned for at least 30,000 souls, you now hold within your seams a population of more than 300,000.

More communal forests opened in the municipal districts of Bokod, particularly Bobok, Ambangeg and Banao; and Ampusongan in Bakun. These forests, including those at Asin, Irisan and Kennon were not spared by the concessionaires.

Aside from licensed businessmen, Manila real estate brokers and almost anyone who had the proper connections got involved in the mining and logging industries. In Busol, an American named Federly was permitted to open a logging road, cut timber for firewood that was delivered to the old Pines Hotel (later to become Vallejo Inn) for heating the fireplace and firing the ovens of bakeries in the city.

Today, the laws are unjustly applied on your sons and daughters everytime they gather just a little firewood for home use – something that the government did not enforce when the Americans were raping your forests.

And those who manage your affairs today do not exactly tell your children the truth. It should be enough that a part of the Busol forest was segregated for squatters who were relocated during the time of Mayor Lardizabal. These lands were chopped off by means of an agreement called the “Lardizabal-Biado line.”

These were named the Workingmen’s Village, Bayan Park and Brookespoint. These were originally part of the Busol Pine forest. Similarly, other squatter relocation sites were established in Quezon Hill, QM Subd., Holy Ghost Hill and Quirino Hill.

Many of those who benefited from the Busol segregation and who now occupy the Workingmen’s Village – Bayan Park – Brookespoint relocation sites are relatives of present-day politicians. Adjacent to these sites is the Kalomis property.

Now, while the relatives of these politicians and other beneficiaries of the squatters’ relocation sites enjoy their occupancy undisturbed, the descendants of Kalomis never built a single house nor introduced any development into the land they rightfully owned. They do not have the courage to squat on their own property. The land has practically become a buffer zone between the larger part of Busol and the relocation sites.

My dear Baguio , more than 52,300 households are now inside your domain of 50 square kilometers. Still, the government does not stop selling your lands. With that, you will encounter more problems as you are experiencing now. Your children will not have enough water to drink and there will be more garbage to get rid of. If your caretakers will not have solutions to these problems, you will be stinking head to foot and many of your children will surely die.

I just wish and pray that your officials will sincerely stop being the padrinos to squatters and concentrate on solving the water and garbage problem. Anyway, happy birthday again. Your grandson, March.

P.S. Pls. tell your officials to stop townsite sales applications (TSA) now because you are not growing any bigger. More TSAs means more houses that will surely contribute to the water and garbage problem. –



Mike Guimbatan Jr.
Recyclable wastes in our head

A published picture of a house using its rooftop as dumping area of recyclable wastes tells the whole picture of our local waste management system -- the City is in danger of health and sanitation hazards yet recycled city officials atop city hall do not yet have a definite program except to waste P30 million expensive hauling to Tarlac in the next four months.

Here’s the garbage quarrel of the century. After the Irisan dumpsite barricade, the mayor commissioned metro waste to gather and dispose waste to Tarlac at P24, 000 per haul per truck. The council questioned the deal because it is expensive and there was no bidding, they allowed a group of local sand and gravel haulers to take over the hauling and allocated a budget. The Mayor says communities along the road to Tarlac complain of garbage stench emitting from trucks of local haulers. The mayor vetoes the special budget for hauling. Several alternative dumping sites were identified but remains under study.

The people don’t know what lasting solution was adapted by the city government to ensure an efficient garbage collection and disposal system. Here’s the adapted solution by our honorable officials. There will be daily collection of waste at the central business district while it will be once a week at the barangays.

Residents should segregate their waste and only residuals will be collected but CBD wastes will be collected whether segregated or not. Residents should compost their biodegradable wastes and they willingly complied even if thickly populated residential areas do not have any open space for composting because every space is cemented and maximized to accommodate the growing population.

While the CBD looks clean, residential areas are not because wastes are kept in their homes unless given the go signal to bring out from their barangay officials. Residents who can not endure the stench of decaying biodegradables will bring their waste within the CBD collection or throw it along nearby uninhabited place or roadsides. Meanwhile, one side of the Irisan dumpsite is in danger of collapsing and heavy rains brought by the string of typhoons portends the inevitable.

After over a month of garbage talk and grandstanding among policy level officials, residents are still at a quandary on what to do with their garbage. Public opinion now demands constant update on what they expect from their honorable leaders. They want to know the term of reference or time table of a lasting solution to the garbage crisis.

The city council and the office of the mayor should now set aside their garbage differences and prioritize the health and welfare of their voters instead. Baguio residents are cooperating and some are even willing for an increased service fees for garbage disposal for as long as a working system should be in place.

But residents are getting restless with piles of garbage in their homes while millions are spent to export residual wastes in a faraway place. For when public opinion does not get heard, the real trash might actually be the heads of the city. Then can we say that the picture of recyclable waste dumped atop a building represent the sorry state of garbage management in the city.


Healthy eating

Benefits of eating asparagus

Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of an article, entitled, `Asparagus for cancer' printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979.

I will share it here, just as it was shared with me: 'I am a biochemist, and have specialised in the relation of diet to health for over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the discovery of Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S. That asparagus might cure cancer. Since then, I have worked with him on his project. We have accumulated a number of favorable case histories.

Here are a few examples.
Case 1: Man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

Case 2: A successful businessman, 68, who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

Case 3: A man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971 he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it. By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared. He is back at his regular business routine.

Case 4: A woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by a skin specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

I was not surprised at this result, as `The elements of materia medica', edited in 1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones.

We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of the records. I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy. For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh. I have corresponded with the two leading canners of asparagus, Giant Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that these brands contain no pesticides or preservatives.

Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to make a puree, and store in the refrigerator. Give the patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and evening. Patients usually show some improvement in 2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do no harm and may be needed in some cases.

As a biochemist I am convinced of the old saying that `what cures can prevent'. Based on this theory, my wife and I have been using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals. We take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste with breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my wife prefers hers cold. For years we have made it a practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our regular checkups.

The last blood survey, taken by a medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional approach to health, showed substantial improvements in all categories over the last one, and we can attribute these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink. As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better with the latest theories about cancer.

Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called histones, which are believed to be active in controlling cell growth. For that reason, I believe asparagus can be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth normaliser. That accounts for its action on cancer and in acting as a general body tonic.

In any event, regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest, is a harmless substance. The FDA cannot prevent you from using it and it may do you much good. 'It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants. – John Trideman



Philian Weygan
Growing up in Baguio

My work demand travels but wherever I go, I come back home to Baguio where memories of my growing up remain one of my fondest thoughts of home. My mom told me "Nan puseg mo naikali isna sirok nan ba-ey" meaning my birth bag was buried under the old house in Magsaysay.

I was born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck but Dr. Calogne and mom delivered me without accident, which my parents say it is a blessing. My sister has letters of mom and dad that related that as a baby I was brought to Besao when my dad went to briefly work and study in Manila. He sent me baby shoes during my birthday, send us eggs when he was in Baguio.

Growing up with my siblings, I remember my mom would plant watercress in the crystal clear Balili River. She would put John and me on top of a stone and we watch while she works. Later, John was able to learn to swim just being around my mother working. My older brother and sister frequent Parapad in Ambiong for swimming. I contend myself with a shower from a spring that comes out from the edge of our property.

At a young age, love of work, discipline and goal setting were values that were made known to us. In our land we have home vegetable garden together with bananas, avocado, guavas. But later on sayote took over a greater part of the property. Quirino Hill was a forest and after the rains we would go and pick mushrooms. At that time mom, my aunt and some cousins cleared portions as "uma" were they planted camote, corn and other root crops.

During harvest, we the kids were allowed to go and help but most of the time they build us a fire and we would cook camote and corn buried in the coals. Those were etched in my memory. Then we would help carry the produce down the mountains, but it was more like rolling them down as my older brother taught us. My mom would say we will break the camote by doing that and maybe we did, but as kids we never cared.

When we had extra bananas or corn, mom would allow us to peddle them in the neighborhood and so we had extra money. Our parents would give us piggy banks and also envelops where to put our monies. Sometimes she saves it for something to buy for us like clothes, toys and books. At that time there were only few houses, cars and a lot of spaces in out neighborhood which spans from Sayote island, Ambiong, Happy Homes, Quirino Hill and Camdas. Resurrection Church was still part of our neighborhood and we hear the church peal every morning, noon and at Angelus.

We went to a neighborhood school Lucban Elementary School and we loved it. In Kindergarten, whenever I get back from being absent I would only go if my dad would accompany me and speak to my teacher. By fourth grade I was sometimes allowed to bring my lunch and sometimes we would go to the house of Benilda Zaragoza. Her mom would serve us soup too.

My playground widened as I was allowed to play after school. I remember being in the house of the Udasco home, the Caoili's, the Alipio's, the Penera's, Jocson's, Idio's, and Villalba's. It was a happy childhood spent with classmates and siblings. Part of it was spent in house chores like scrubbing the floor, sweeping the yard, watering plant, feeding the chickens, the rabbits, harvesting sayote. It was when we were older that more responsibilities were given like washing clothes and cooking.

My wonderful stay in Lucban ended when I had a boxing match with the bully of my sister. It was a fad for pupils to have fistfights in the foot of Quirino Hill (we called it Carabao Mountain then) and I was not spared. I challenged the bully of my sister and landed her a black eye and before she could hit me I fell into a ravine.

The next morning we were in the principal's office. That time I told my parents I do not want to go to school anymore. They consoled me that we will transfer the next year so we just had to finish the school term. So by the Grade six we were transferred to Easter School, I was already the eldest as both my older sister and brother were already in High School.

That widened our playground to Guisad, Bokawkan, Dizon and Pinsao. Dad would bring us to school in his Ford and in the afternoon we would ride a service jeep with the Mendozas, the Balaos of Pico. Sometimes we were late for the jeepney service after we have to clean the classrooms and we tarry by the brook side of Guisad catching jojo and bayek. We would be home near dusk because we took time playing along the least traveled roads, catching butterflies and crickets, picking flowers and weeds and simply taking time to enjoy nature as daylight catches up with nigh time.

Sundays were the days we wake up the earliest, finish our chores, take a bath, breakfast and church service. Sometimes we go to Burnham Park for a picnic and run till we drop. It was so clean, so wide and so beautiful with all the flowers and butterflies of many colors. Sometimes Dad would have church meeting and so we end up eating cookies baked by the family of Fr. Alejandrino Rulite while we climb up and down the trees of the church compound.

Baguio was a perfect place to spent childhood. Then the '70s came and it was high school. It would be another story to tell. When I remember Mom whose death Anniversary is September 19, I remember my wonderful childhood - Baguio circa '60s.



Gloria A. Tuazon
Christianizing far Sadanga

SADANGA, Mountain Province –This remote town in the uplands had often been described as synonymous to danger and risk. People thought the place had fearsome headhunters for inhabitants. Tribes here were known to have battled it out with other headhunters in Kalinga among other perceptions of what Sadanga was to those who have not been there.
Sadanga as does other municipalities and barrios in the outskirts of the capital town of Bontoc have already evolved out of that description. Their ancestors may have started out that way as headhunters but that was only because in those days, men had to protect their villages from other ravaging tribes.

It was one common denominator in the northern Cordilleras (most if not all) be it in the Mountain Province, Kalinga or Ifugao that women used to till the fields and were home workers. It is not to say the men were a lazy lot, because they are not, just that protection of the people and the properties were the men's main function but were also obliged to assist women in chores.
Of tribal war concerns, that has always been part of highland history. They went to battle for principles and causes. Sadanga is a proud lot of a people -- proud of ancestry and race but often very humble in appearance. Yet again like any other tribe, they had the elders to run their government way back.

And to put it neatly, these days they are shunning the idea of tribal wars as much as they are pushing for lasting peace and prosperity. The damage and toll it takes to fight a futile war are deemed not worth the cause or point they wanted to straighten out. And so the "fodong" (peacepact) was created. Slowly and painfully it paved the way to the peace most of these tribes are enjoying now.

Back in the early 1900’s, Belgian missionaries entered the place without thinking they may never get out of the place safe. Most of these missionaries had their hearts and lives planted there afterwards. Mother Basil Gekiere was everybody's reprieve way back and her death was given a well-attended funeral.

She was buried in a niche in Sitio Opucan overlooking the land and people she came to love and call family. Sadanga deeply mourned her passing. The other priests who also endured the grueling task of educating the townsfolk had the same well-loved treatment from the people, Fr Leon Quintelier for one.

From these foreign missionaries was sculpted the evolution of Sadanga to become the Christian community it is now. Tiny chapels were used for religious services and activities back then. Rev.Fr. Carlos Desmet even celebrated the first mass in an ator at Fateo-teo.
Ironically, because an ator was once considered the seat of local governance, where the menfolk (sans the women, women were never part of the active government organization back then) gathered to plan their stand and stance in any given situation, be it settling feuds or preparing community affairs to planning tactics for wars.

The second mass conducted was in a granary in Sitio Opog. The hostilities accorded his entrance soon turned into a welcoming embrace and then acceptance. The good priest initiated the construction of a chapel on that site. This showcased the entrance of Christianity in Sadanga.
The second chapter when "Jesus" stepped into Sadanga was in 1994, when the Vicariate saw that the people deserved to have their own parish. A priest in the person of Fr. Francis Dinacas was assigned and stationed at Poblacion.

He went hopping around the different barrios (Anabel, Betwagan, Belwang, Bekigan, Sacasacan and Saclit) once to month making sure he covers all. Cathechists and lay leaders helped out often full time.

With the succession of priests and outpouring of support from the village people, Sadanga celebrated its latest parish fiesta last August15, being the feast of Our lady of Assumption. What used to be the galvanized iron shed of a chapel is now a work of art church.

With Fr. Marcial Castaneda overseeing his flock, he also had time for arts. He sang for causes too and was able to produce CDs of religious songs, most being used in the Bontoc-Lagawe vicariate services. His art was used to design the interior of the church. Ethnic, modern, cozy, homey and warm are words to describe the house of the Lord in Sadanga. It shouts out loud, "Welcome home, Jesus". -- email:



Cesar G. Bonilla
President Magsaysay’s legacy worth emulating

LAOAG CITY -- Land for the landless. Those who have less in life should have more in law. This was the social justice principle of President Ramon Magsaysay, Idol of the Masses. The late president stirred the nation into the mainstream of pro-people policy as a democratic political platform of his administration.

Each year every Aug. 31, Filipinos remember the late president on his birthday. Magsaysay’s presidency (1953-1957) came at a time when the nation, still prostate from the ravages of the second world war and the threat of a communist take-over, rallied to his dream as a defender of freedom for the common (tao) man.

It was his policy of understanding for the farmer that turned the tide for the government during his incumbency as Secretary of Defense under the Quirino administration. As president of his country, what he lacked in sophistication as a manager and an economist, he more than made up for as leader selflessly and totally dedicated to his countrymen.

Of him, his successor, the late President Carlos P. Garcia, wrote: “His greatest achievement was mantling the Filipino common man with a new and fresh dignity which had been long overdue.”

Times have changed since Magsaysay’s untimely death 34 years ago when his plane (coincidentally named Mt. Pinatubo) crashed on a Gebu mountainside. He served as a model for public officials then and of the future, thinking not of himself but of the country’s welfare, not grandstanding or image-building at the expense of others, but sincerely working for the common good. His name remained untarnished. May we have more Magsaysays among our leaders.
Being physically handicapped did not prevent Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca from rising above difficulties in her way to success. Isabela. Padaca’s meteoric journey in the field of politics is now reaping glory in her colorful struggle as crusader for justice when she was then a radio commentator of the province and as an exemplary public servant.

The people chose her as governor following her leadership by example against a well-entrenched family whose influence and power made other candidates quiver -- who tried to challenge their political clout. Not for Padaca since she could relate to the people with sympathy and sincerity.

She was the recipient of the most coveted 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service and will receive the award today. To the governor, our heartfelt congratulations!

President Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo will visit Ilocos Norte once again, on the occasion of Laoag City Mayor Michael V. Farinas’ birthday and for the Chief Executive to bring the graces of Malacanang in our typhoon-stricken province to help farmers whose crops and other products were badly devastated by typhoon Karen.

I admire PGMA for giving the necessary care and attention to Ilocos Norte. May the financial aids given by the president help our poor constituents recover from great losses brought by natural catastrophes like Typhoon Karen.
The peace and order situation in the province is not impressive based on my own analysis. Some lawbreakers are becoming callous notwithstanding regulations implemented by authorities. Incidents of stabbing, gun touting or shooting, mauling, swindling, robbery and the like have caused instability and fear among residents.

The proper authorities deputized by law to keep the peace within their respective areas must be recognized. The members of the Philippine National Police are duty-bound to address the problems of society in consonance with fairness and justice. The citizenry can be an effective component in crime prevention if only they are more patriotic and concerned with the plight of the youth. A hotline by the PNP can be useful to stop crimes not only in out province but in the whole country as well.

I would like to greet all officers and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) especially the PNP Badoc for being an effective partner of the provincial government when it comes to peace and order. The accommodating spirit and will to serve the people of Ilocos Norte by police can assure tourists of their security and sense of hospitality in the province.



Rudy Garcia

The way things are going now in Mindanao, we can’t help but pity our civilian brothers and sisters out there who were greatly affected by ongoing hostilities. It is somehow a relief to know that most of these Moro Islamic Liberation Front camps are now been overrun by the Armed Force of the Philippines. I wonder how long will it take for the long arm of the law to catch up with commanders Bravo and Kato, who up to now are still at large like loose bulldogs ready to attack anytime.

While the military claims it has control of most of the MILF camps, most of the civilian evacuees’ refuse to return home for fear of their lives. This means they don’t believe that the government could protect them from those rebel forces.

The government should think that what is happening started when it entered into a deal with the MILF but retracted due to opposition and more so after the Supreme Court ordered a stop for the signing of the said memorandum of agreement. It is but proper for the government to give full protection to affected civilians no matter how. It should stand firm in going after these rebels cum terrorists and better still, issue a shoot-to-kill order to give this criminal group a doze of their own medicine.

There are propositions that the MILF should be declared a terrorist organization, but, isn’t it funny to think that our own government nearly conspired and made a deal with a terrorist organization?
All was well and ended well at the Beijing 2008 Olympics with China topping the over-all standing with 51 gold medals while the United States of America placed second with 36 golds. Though the Philippines got a very low standing from this recent Olympics, we should be proud of our athletes who did their best and mostly the two wushu players of Baguio who brought home with them two bronze medals. With this humble column, let me commend these two of Baguio’s pride for bringing honor to the country. Kudos kina Mariano at Rivera and may you bring home more medals in the future.
I received reports from one of my bubwits that the illegal pocket mining or usok at camp 6, Tuba, Benguet continues to operate despite dangers this would bring to the nearby residents in the area.

Lately, residents were again caught flat footed with the consecutive explosions they heard at the mining site which they believe are being used to open some portions of the mountains for mining. My bubwit said anyone who passes by along the highway could see several holes at the mountain that could weaken and lead to disaster such as landslides.
I have been calling the attention of concerned authorities through this column to look and investigate the reported illegal mining and illegal quarrying at Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet but this seems to be taken for granted especially the barangay officials. Are they just waiting for untoward incidents to happen before they act appropriately? Hoy, Agkuti kayo met a Apo!.
A lot of speculation are coming out after the fire that hit two girlie bars and one billiard joint along Legarda Road in Baguio early dawn of Aug. 27. Reports have it that a molotov bomb thrown by an irate costumer inside a VIP room in one of these KTV bar caused the fire.
I wonder though how this costumer was able to enter or return inside the joint unnoticed by the employees of the KTV Bar unless there could be some kind of conspiracy between the suspect and his companions who were left behind before the incident.

Whatever reason or cause of this untoward incident, it is still a big question why the security personnel failed to institute safety measures to prevent untoward occurrences like this one, or were they sleeping on their posts and caught flatfooted when they heard an explosion?
I don’t want to blame them in this incident but I strongly urge the security agencies to be more strict in recruiting watchmen, otherwise, establishments would be paying their guards for nothing. Kumuha naman kayo ng kuwalipikado, hindi iyong pinabili lang ng suka sa kanto, guwardiya na!
The Baguio city police force finally got a new police chief in the person of Supt. Wilfredo Franco. Let’s just wait and see if the new chief has the will to improve peace and order in this summer capital and how he will he go after the lawless elements. As I have been saying. whenever there is someone new in the position, urayen tayo ti garaw na a bago tayo agsao. That’s it, but nevertheless, we welcome the new BCPO chief.
There is now a brewing rift between the Baguio City public order and safety division and ambulant vendors along the city market. This after the POSD operatives conducted no- nonsense clearing operations against those hard headed vendors who continue to occupy even the middle of roads to ply their trade.

One instance was an incident along Zandueta and Kayang streets around 11a.m. of Aug.. 23 where some fish vendors were allegedly manhandled by operatives of the POSD, but the POSD claimed otherwise saying the vendors threw stones at them hitting passersby, the reason why they had to fight back to defend themselves.

It is my opinion that city mayor Reynaldo Bautista should look into this matter before anything happens to any POSD man like what happened to former POSD officer George Dumawing who was shot and seriously wounded while doing his duty.

He should also look into possibility of expanding the authority and responsibility of the POSD like the POSO in Dagupan City or the MMDA in Metro Manila. But most important, he should conduct a dialogue with the vendors to let know their sentiments. After all, these vendors are also humans who have families to feed. It is better to sit down and compromise than using iron hands that could break the peace. Kakaasi da met mayor dagita tao nga agbibinato ken mabatbato!
A public high school teacher in Baguio complained to this writer about the proliferation of computer and internet shops or cafes near their school campus. The dismayed teacher is accusing the concerned authorities of being bulag, pipi at bingi on these establishments which she said don’t even have business permits.

Some could even be found inside residential houses where some students are now addicted in playing computer games rather than attending to their classes or making good use of the computers like school research. Attention, Department of Education and Councilor Fred Bagbagen, committee chairman on education. Paki busisi ninyo naman po ang reklamong ito!



Henry Ong
Offering credit to boost profits

The use of credit cards and other automated payment systems that allow the customer to conveniently make purchases on credit makes it much easier to sell your goods and services. In particular, offering payment terms such as zero percent interest for credit card purchases can attract new customers, which of course can boost sales and lead to bigger profits.

But to do good business through customer credit, it is very important to maintain a strong cash position to finance it. So, before deciding to tie up your company's cash in customer collectibles, it would be wise to first create a credit policy and a realistic, doable set of procedures for giving credit and collecting payments. This will give you a better control of your cash flow.

A credit policy is simply a set of rules and procedures that you need to apply to all customers in every foreseeable situation. In a credit policy, you normally need to decide on the following major credit aspects: the maximum amount of credit you are willing to extend to a customer, the terms of payment (whether 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or longer), the down payment required, and the credit evaluation criteria for new customers.

You also need to include in the policy how to go about notifying customers who have past due accounts, and how to write off account receivables that you have already considered as bad debts or uncollectibles. When planning your credit policy, it is advisable to consult your accountant or business advisor for insights and advice on how to best reduce your company's credit exposure.

The next step is to determine how much cash reserve you can afford to finance your credit sales. This is important because your cash is part of your working capital, and you need to always have enough cash for your inventory purchases and overhead expenses.

For this reason,over-investing in receivables may result in imbalances in your working capital, which could force you to borrow money to finance your inventory replenishment and operations. Your accountant can advise you on the maximum credit that you can extend per customer.

When you sell on credit, there's also the risk of late payments or even non-payment, which could impact on the price of their goods and services. These should be budgeted in the costing, perhaps as a percentage of selling price or of the average receivable balance; the specific percentages will depend on the nature of the business. The other issue that you need to establish is the cutoff for charging interest on late payments and how much that interest should be. You should plan this carefully based on the historical performance of your collection efforts or based on the advice of your business consultant.


Baguio and Cordillera hit by 20 landslides: 8 persons die as Typhoon Karen slams north Luzon

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

BAGUIO CITY – Eight persons, including three children, were killed while a woman was injured when landslides triggered by the heavy rains and strong winds of Typhoon Karen buried their houses in this mountain resort city and in the nearby town of Itogon, Benguet, and in La Union Thursday morning.

Reports reaching Office of the Civil Defense in the Cordillera said latest casualties were farmer Arnold Atitiw, 37 and Camille Rasalan, 12.

Atitiw was dug up dead from the rubble of a landslide in Sitio nabalicong, Barangay Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet, Wednesday afternoon while Rasalan was hit by a falling tamarind tree in Abra Thursday.

The OCD identified the lone fatality in Baguio City as Petra Cadatar, 72, a resident of Purok 7, Pinsao Pilot Project, Baguio City, who died after a wall beside her house fell and covered the kitchen while she was busy preparing breakfast.

Hestery Ann Carpizo, 23, a resident of Barangay Santa Escolastika, in Baguio suffered minor injuries after she was hit by a cabinet which fell inside her house at the height of Karen Wednesday morning.

She is now confined at the Baguio General Hospital where she is undergoing observation for injuries.

Strong winds and heavy rains of Typhoon Karen resulted in over 20 landslides and erosion in the city in a span of 24 hours.

Many trees were also felled in various parts of the city as typhoon signal No. 2 was raised by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration over the region.

In Benguet, three children died after their house near a mountain slope was buried by landslide at Antamok, Itogon town Wednesday morning.

The children, who were not identified, were reportedly aged 10, 3, and 1.

Karen also caused the closure of the Kennon Road, Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road, the Mountain Province section of the Halsema Highway, the Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan Road, the Bokod-Kabayan-Abatan road in Benguet, the MountainProvince-Kalinga Road and the Bontoc-Tabuk road due to series of landslides in various sections of those roads.

Power outages were also reported in Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, and Abra due to the continuous strong rains, while "Karen" was en route to Ilocos Norte.

Despite the closure of some major roads in Benguet, the supply of agricultural crops was still normal at press time at the La Trinidad trading post.

But prices have started to rise in a span of less than six hours due to the perceived adverse effects of the typhoon to many crops.

Due to the heavy rains, water was released from the Ambuclao Dam and Binga Dam as the two dams reached their critical spilling level. The water flowed down the Agno River in Pangasinan.

The OCD warned residents along the Agno River to be alert for the expected floods in the lowlands because of the huge volume of water released by the two dams.

Typhoon Nuri, locally named Karen, skirted the northeastern tip of Cagayan province with gusts of up to 106 mph (170 kph), but its outer bands engulfed most of the mountainous northern provinces.

Chief weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said Nuri was a powerful system that likely would gain strength as it moved across Babuyan and Calayan islands in the Luzon Strait toward Hong Kong and Guangdong in eastern China.

He said the typhoon was enhancing monsoon rains and that strong winds would continue until Thursday morning. – With reports from Dexter See, Armand Tamaray and Jerry Padilla


52 cops relieved over P-trillion shabu case

By Mar T. Supnad

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union- A total of 52 policemen, 17 of whom are commissioned police officers, have been relieved of their posts in connection with the discovery of the multi-trillion shabu laboratory in Barangay Bimmutubot, Naguilian town last July 9, a police colonel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group revealed yesterday.

This, as congressional oversight committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Ilocos Norte Rep. Roquito Ablan started the other day its investigation on the case.

Sr. Supt. Marvin Bolabola, CIDG regional chief in Region 1, who was tapped by Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon to help investigate the shabu laboratory, said the relief of the 52 policemen including a PNP colonel, is to show the public that the PNP hierarchy means business in their job to look into the protectors behind it and ferret out the truth on the discovery of the biggest shabu ever discovered in the country.

A veteran investigator trained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bolabola said, however, that the relief of the policemen does not mean they are already guilty but this is to avoid whitewash on investigation of the case. “Mababalik din sila kung napatunayan na wala silang kinalaman sa naturang shabu laboratory, pero mananagot ang mga may kinalaman.”

Among those relieved were Sr. Supt. Dionisio Borromeo, chief of police of Dagupan City who became regional chief of the PNP mobile group in the region; two chiefs of municipal police in La Union; and others mostly detailed with the regional mobile group based in Camp Gen. Oscar Florendo, headquarters of the PNP in Region 1.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Col. Borromeo and the other cops have been charged before the Prosecutor’s office here July 31. Six Chinese men were also charged.

The police’s action (in relieving the 52 policemen) came in the wake of revelation of Dante Palaganas, a caretaker of the said shabu lab who tagged Borromeo as one of the police protectors of the laboratory. Borromeo, however, denied the charges.

The shabu lab was earlier used as front for piggery until policemen from the province headed by Sr. Supt. Noli Talino discovered it in a surprised raid that shocked the entire police and community.

The Congressional Oversight Committee in Congress on Dangerous Drugs had inspected the alleged shabu laboratory Wednesday in line with House investigation being sought by Rep. Tomas Dumpit, Jr. whose district the laboratory was discovered.

Razon had ordered the creation of “Task Force Bimmutubot” to dig deeper into the shabu laboratory believing the case against those implicated are so strong to merit indictment in court.
Chemicals seized from the illegal facility in Barangay Bimmotobot could produce P27 million worth of shabu, not one trillion as earlier estimated, based on the actual computation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago said this in an ambush interview, as his men barred reporters from covering the briefing at the Masigasig Center at Camp Florendo and even blocked a GMA-7 cameraman from getting footage of the meeting.

“Yung chemicals, if mixed, based on actual computation, could produce shabu worth only around P27 million,” Santiago said.

“It is not one trillion pesos worth that would be produced. The figure was bloated. Let’s go to the actual seizure and do not add other ingredients. There are no other ingredients like ephedrine,” he added, saying he was not aware the briefing was closed to the media.

Authorities seized at least six truckloads of chemicals and equipment, which are now stored at the warehouse of the PDEA regional office at Camp Diego Silang.

In the briefing were La Union Reps. Victor Ortega and Tomas Dumpit Jr., some local officials, and PDEA and police personnel.

Reporters were only allowed to enter the conference venue when Ablan requested for coverage, as Ortega and Dumpit shook hands. The two lawmakers recently figured in a “word war” over the shabu lab issue.

Santiago said an international syndicate could be behind the shabu lab.
“This is an international syndicate but the timing of the raid in Naguilian did not yield any foreign suspects unlike the operation in Real, Quezon. We’re trying to see the linkages,” he said.


Pol faces probe for ‘coddling kidnapper’

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Police are set to investigate a politician for allegedly coddling an arrested kidnap-for-ransom syndicate member in Urbiztondo town.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. ordered the probe saying there should be no sacred cows in the drive against criminality.

Senior Supt. Isagani Nerez, provincial police director, bared the governor’s order in a press conference Wednesday where he presented the arrested suspect, Ronald Quitaleg Pidlaoan, 36, alias Buddha.

Pidlaoan, who is believed to have been used as gun-for-hire by certain influential people, was arrested by a police team Aug. 16 in Barangay Gueteb, Urbiztondo town.

Nerez said they will invite “an elected official” to shed light on allegations that he coddled Pidlaoan.

“I talked to the governor this morning and he said there should be no scared cows,” he said, giving a hint that the politician hails from the second congressional district.

“This should also serve as a strong warning to other coddlers of criminals,” he said.

He said they are 100 percent sure that Pidlaoan, who had an arrest warrant for kidnapping for ransom from the municipal trial court in Rosales town, belonged to the Quitaleg KFR gang that seized a female trader in Rosales and a rich Chinese businessman in Dagupan City sometime in 2002.

Espina said Pidlaoan is facing trial in Criminal Case No. 8571 for the kidnapping of Chinese-Filipino trader Gina So in 2002.

So, owner of Golden Lumber and Hardware in Rosales, Pangasinan was abducted on Sept. 14, 2002 by the Quitalig group who demanded P30-million for the safe release of the victim.

According to Espina, the victim was held captive by her kidnappers for 44 days until she was freed on Oct. 28 somewhere in Victoria, Tarlac.

No bail is recommended for Pidlaoan’s case.

Nerez said in a separate interview that among the KFR group’s victims in Pangasinan was a female trader in Rosales and a Chinese hotel owner in Dagupan City. They also had one victim in Batangas whom they released in Victoria, Tarlac after a pay off.

The group was very active in their KFR operations in 2002, Nerez said.

He said the group’s leader had been earlier killed by lawmen in an encounter in Tarlac.

He added that based on police monitoring, remnants of this group have allegedly shifted to gun-for-hire operations.

Neres said they are double-checking whether members of this same group are behind the recent killings in Pangasinan.

Nerez used to work at the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response that handled the two kidnapping cases.

He said Pidlaoan’s arrest was in response to Espino’s order during his State of the Province Address for the police to go after guns-for-hire and those coddling or using them.

Pidlaoan’s companion, a certain Danny Aquino, is still being hunted. Leaders of the Quitaleg KFR gang, Joselito and Ramil Quitaleg, have been neutralized in Tarlac, Nerez said. Pidlaoan denied that the Quitalegs are his relatives.

Other members of the gang are believed to have shifted to gun-for-hire not only in Pangasinan but also in neighboring provinces, Nerez said, adding they could go back to their old criminal ways.

Police said Pidlaoan and his cohorts had gone into hiding but returned to their criminal activities before the 2007 elections.

Nerez said the Quitaleg KFR gang possibly has links with the Bocala KFR syndicate because of their vast operations in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon.
He added their ransom demands amounting to up to P50 million showed they are big-time KFR syndicates.

Nerez asaid there would be more peace in the province following the arrest of Pidlaoan and the neutralization a few months ago of five other suspected guns-for-hire in the cities of Dagupan and Urdaneta and the towns of Manaoag, Villasis and Malasiqui.

Senior Insp. Mario Estrada, Urbiztondo town earlier bared Pidlaoan nabbed by elements of the Special Operation Group under Supt. Joseph Lopez, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response, under Chief Insp. Marceliano Desamito Jr., Provincial Intelligence Branch under Supt. Amando Lagiwid in coordination with Mangatarem and Urbiztondo Police Stations under the over-all supervision of Nerez, police provincial director, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Supt. Jonel Estomo.


NPA: 8 soldiers slain in Aurora

By Luis Jose

SAN LUIS, Aurora – The New People’s Army in Aurora province said Thursday eight Army Scout Rangers were killed and four others were wounded in a recent clash on Mount Katupnan in San Luis town.

The NPA’s Domingo Erlano Command belied an earlier claim by the military that an NPA guerrilla and four others were wounded during the firefight here in Barangay Dimatubo Aug. 15.
“The military cannot produce any body because its claim is not true,” it said.

Rowena Cervante, NPA spokesman in Aurora, said what happened during the clash conflicted with the claim of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

“It is not true that none of the soldiers were injured,” she said.

Last Aug.15, Cervante said a platoon of Scout Rangers led by one Lt. Ngao-i was poised to conduct “strike operations” at Mount Katupnan by posing as NPA guerrillas.

She said the soldiers were housed in three tents when NPA rebels attacked them, triggering a five-minute clash that allegedly killed eight soldiers and wounded four others.

“The fact is that the soldiers kept on firing for 30 more minutes after the NPA guerrillas had already left,” she said.

The NPA accused the military of committing various human rights violations under its Oplan Bantay Laya 2 as the so-called Aurora Development Plan is being carried out.


Benguet folk hit Baguio on ‘garbage avalanche’

TUBA, Benguet – For the nth time this year, tons of garbage from the Irisan open dumpsite of Baguio City cascaded last week to several villages here caused by continuous heavy rains brought by typhoon "Karen."

Despite the announced closure of the Irisan dumpsite, the Baguio City government is still using it as a temporary staging area for the hauling of its 280 tons of daily garbage to a sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac by private tuckers.

Ironically, the garbage that washed down to Barangays Tadiangan and Nangalisan has caused irritants among the residents and even people living near the dumpsite in Irisan.

And for the nth time, affected communities criticized the city government for insisting on the use of the closed dumpsite as a temporary staging area.

The residents said that City Hall continues using the dump despite proof that it is overloaded.
They said this could cause more serious headaches to the city officials in the event of a garbage disaster similar to what happened in Payatas, Quezon City a few years ago.

Before the residents set up a human barricade at the area to prevent use of the dumpsite, there were already cracks in the retaining wall of the facility.

These were clear indications that it could no longer handle the weight of the tons and tons of garbage being dumped in the 5.2-hectare property.

Tuba and Baguio residents affected by the "garbalanche" have complained of the stench coming from the garbage littered in their village.

The residents aired fears of illnesses that might come as a result of the unsanitary condition in their village. They asked City Hall to adopt emergency measures aimed at checking the foul odor and stop the flow of the garbage to the low areas, particularly Tadiangan and Nangalisan.

Early this year, the city government took three days to clear the roads and communities below the dumpsite of the tons of garbage that cascaded from the Irisan dumpsite. This was also caused by heavy rains that hit the city.

Aside from the mountains of garbage at the dumpsite, the city is also faced by the problem of how to collect the tons of wastes that continue to pile up on the streets due to the absence of a permanent dumping facility.

This, as the animosity among city officials over the garbage crisis here has worsened and affected not only the residents but tourists, and businessmen.

The feud loomed after a councilor asked that the city council investigate whatever deal entered into between the Office of the City Mayor and a garbage-hauling company.

Metro Waste, the hauling company, was commissioned by the mayor’s office to transport garbage from the city to a sanitary landfill in Tarlac.

Last July 14, the residents of the decommissioned Irisan dumps site near Tuba town, Benguet barricaded the dump. The mass action plunged City Hall into a quandary as the city has no place to dump garbage.

As a remedial measure, the mayor’s office entered into a hauling contract with Metro Waste.
Councilor Richard Cariño urged last week the city council to investigate the Metro Waste deal.

He said that if it is found out that the city government has no valid contract with the company, Metro Waste would not be paid for its services rendered for the period from July 24 to 31, 2008.
Last Aug. 4 during a regular council session, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. apologized to the city council for his action of forging a contract for the emergency hauling of garbage.

Bautista said he is taking the full responsibility and is willing to go to jail for his action.

But the mayor’s remark did not change stand of some of the council members. Councilor Cariño, during a media briefing, said the city council had not seen any memorandum of agreement entered into between the city government and Metro Waste for the hauling of garbage.

Cariño also said that there was no bidding conducted for the services of the hauling company and that no fund was allocated for the purpose.

"No contract may be entered into by the city’s chief executive in behalf of the local government unit without prior consultation with the council," the councilor said, quoting Section 22 of the Local Government Code.

Cariño said a letter sent by Metro Waste to the mayor’s office stated that P450 will be paid by the city per ton of garbage as "tipping fee."

But Cariño said that when the mayor’s office requested the City Council to allocate R30.3 million as payment for Metro Waste, the tipping fee was increased to P800 per ton.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bautista said he will create a task force that will study various offers and decide on the final site of a planned sanitary landfill for Baguio City.

City Administrator Peter Fianza, whom Bautista tasked to oversee the garbage management concerns, announced that the mayor will create a body that is expected to decide on timetable for the selection process starting with the setting of a cutoff date for the receipt of offers for possible sites.

Fianza said the task force would assess and investigate all the sites being offered, make the selection based on the guidelines and a point system to set by the Solid Waste Management Board.

The results of the selection will be submitted to the city council for action.


Suspect in pastor’s slay jailed; killers of 2 teens, farmer hunted

BANAUE, Ifugao -- A drunken man who shot and killed a young pastor when he allegedly fired indiscriminately his rifle in this town is now in jail.

In Camp Dangwa, Benguet, Chief Supt. Eugene G. Martin, regional police director identified the slain pastor as Marvin Osao, pastor of the Pentecostal church in this province.

Martin named the suspect in the latest violence in this province as James Dinanghay, 23, of Sitio Liwang, Barangay Ibayong, Banaue.

Police investigation showed Dinanghay, who was under the influence of liquor, arrived home, and without any apparent reason, he brought out an M-16 rifle and fired at a vehicle with plate No. SJR 704 parked a few meters from his house.

Barangay Kagawad Frederick Maguiling and Osao, who were then sitting in a tricycle parked a few meters away, were alarmed by the indiscriminate firing.

Maguiling tried to pacify Dinanghay, shouting at him and asking him to stop the firing.
However, Dinanghay ignored Maguiling’s call and pointed the rifle at them. He continued firing with a bullet hitting Osao.

Dinanghay fled to a forested mountain, carrying with him the M-16 rifle. While fleeing, he fired again.

Maguiling, meanwhile, brought Osao to the Good News Hospital with the help of some residents.
Osao was later transferred to the Ifugao General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Dinanghay later surrendered to the Banaue police station. This came after policemen negotiated with Dinanghay’s relatives for him to surrender.

The suspect was detained in the provincial jail in Lagawe town. The provincial prosecutor’s office was investigating the murder case filed against him by the police.

This, as a manhunt operation is being conducted by police against suspects who shot and killed Philip Madawat a.k.a “Sau,” 18,, single and resident of Poblacion East who was shot on his head and the other victim identified as Tyron Tuguinay Taguiling, student and resident of Dugong, Tungngod of Lagawe.

Martin said the motorcycle used by the suspects in killing Madawat and Taguiling left behind at Barangay Boliwong was already recovered, together with the two empty shells of a 9 mm handgun.

In another incident in Lagawe, a farmer was hacked to death in front of his son last Aug. 17.
The victim was identified as Ronald Dulnuan, 36, and a resident of Sitio Liyang of Barangay Boliwong here.

The suspect was identified as Ventura Cabbigat, 44 and a former army man.

According to witnesses, the victim and the suspect and a certain Efren Julio, a nursery caretaker, were having a drinking spree in that afternoon when Cabbigat reportedly said that he was going to hack Dulnuan because he was a traitor.

Dulnuan was heard asking the suspect not to hack him. Even Dulnuan’s son who was at the vicinity pleaded to Cabbigat not to hurt his father but Cabbigat took his bolo and hit Dulnuan on the neck which led to his instant death.

The suspect escaped the crime scene and Julio also fled out of fear.

Municipal Social Welfare Office Carmen Pantaleon Pantaleon said that Dulnuan’s son, an elementary pupil, was in a state of shock while police were conducting pursuit operations. against the suspect.

This, as four videoke bars were found out by police to have no permits to operate in the province.

These were identified as Papa Joe Karaoke owned by Teresita Pronen, LSO videoke bar owned by Wilson Habungan and Jun-Jebars mini-store, videoke bar and sing-along establishment all in Lagawe and a bar owned by Betty Taguiling in Kiangan;

Reports said a team led by Senior Insp. Esteban Dulnuan found this out after inspecting the establishments whether they complied with business permits, safety equipments precautions such as fire exits and fire extinguishers. -- Mar T. Supnad Dexter A. See and Vency Bulayungan


Beneco gets P29 M subsidy for consumers

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Malacañang has turned over to the National Electrification Administration at least P29 million for power subsidy for consumers of the Benguet Electric Coop. in Baguio City and this province who use less than 100 kilowatt-hours every month.

Geraldo P. Verzosa, Beneco general manager, said that more than 70,000 residential consumers who consumed 100 kilowatt-hours or less during the period from April 27 to May 26 will get reduced charges in their August electricity bills.

The power subsidy is being given under the "Pantawid Koryente: Katas ng VAT" program, a one-time subsidy for poor people.

Each consumer who uses 100 kilowatt-hours or less is entitled to a P500 subsidy from the national government.

The amount for the power subsidy for consumers in Baguio and Benguet was turned over to the NEA by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

NEA already remitted the P29 million to Beneco which, in turn, deposited the amount in the branch here of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Verzosa said the P500 subsidy will not be given in cash to the consumers, but will be credited to their accounts with the electric cooperative.

Beneco will deduct the P500 subsidy from the August and future billings of the beneficiaries.
The deducted amount will be reflected in the monthly billings of the consumers until the P29 million is exhausted.

Earlier, President Arroyo ordered the DSWD to implement a one-time subsidy for poor people to help them pay their electric bills and ease their financial burden at this time of economic crisis.

Verzosa said the fund for the one-time subsidy for identified poor consumers is a big boost to the finances of Beneco which could use it for the implementation of programs and projects aimed at improving the delivery of quality and reliable electric service.

Even with its missionary program for non-viable areas in Benguet, the electric cooperative remains one of the top performing power utilities nationwide. It has a low systems loss and high collection efficiency.

Verzosa said Beneco is now studying plans for venture in alternative sources of energy that tap the rich natural resources of its franchise area. – Dexter A See


Mt Prov mayors to rotate positions

By Lito Dar

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Starting September, all ten towns of Mountain Province will be having a “guest mayor’ for two days.

This is an innovation on local governance with all ten municipal mayors agreeing to rotate positions to observe good practices and programs of local government units in the province.

The planned rotation will commence first week of September.

Natonin Mayor Anna Marie Paz Rafael Banaag said mayors will rotate simultaneously, just like a rigodon and each mayor will stay for two days in a municipality where he is assigned.

Banaag said the guest mayor will act as the local chief executive on his host municipality but cannot sign documents in behalf of the host mayor.

The guest mayor will also observe staff and employees of the host LGU.

Banaag said they will do this rotation once every month, until all mayors have visited all the member municipalities.

There will be a “learning-sharing” activity in connection to this, the lady mayor said.

Meanwhile, Banaag announced there would be a Cindewoll medical/dental mission in Natonin town on Sept.8.

Cindewoll stands for Cordillera Indigenous Elected Women Leaders League headed by Undersecretary Josephon dC Dominguez.

Banaag added the “Bontoc Brigada” will also visit their municipality with Red Cross personnel who have a school feeding program.


Illegal LPG tanks seized in MP towns

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The drive against selling of illegal LPG tanks has resulted in the confiscation of 760 items of these in this capital town and Bauko municipality – 318 in the former and 442 in the former.

Provincial police director Senior Supt. Pedro Ganir and Insp. Allan Guyguyon, with Trade and Industry and Fire officials recently conducted the operation which led to confiscation of the LPG tanks.

The confiscated items from various establishments of Bauko were stored at the town hall while those from Bontoc were at the Mountain Province Police Provincial Office.

Respective owners of the confiscated items were notified to appear at the Department of Trade and Industry provincial office for investigation.

This, as Ganir and his men visited last week Bontoc schools Saint Vincent High School, Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School and Mountain Province State Polytechnic College following alleged presence of fraternities

The school visitation was a program of the police community relations division in implementing “Project “Implan Liwliwid iska iskwilaan” or “Cops in the school.”

The program involves giving lectures to students on peace and order.

Under the program, students are dispatched to different schools and streets in Bontoc to assist school children in going to or coming from the school when crossing streets or riding a vehicle.

This is also to ensure children from cutting classes and prevent them from going to recreation centers like billiards, computer shops and similar establishments while classes are going on.



Aurora vice mayor, 8 men nabbed for illegal logging
By Luis Jose

DIPACULAO, Aurora – The vice mayor of this town and eight others were nabbed and detained in connection with the alleged attempt to smuggle two truckloads of “hot lumber” in this town last year.

Senior Supt. Romeo Teope, provincial police director, served the warrant of arrest issued by Baler Regional Trial Court Branch 66 Judge Armando Yanga to Vice Mayor Narciso Amansec last week in his office.

Amansec, 48, a former provincial board member, was detained at the provincial jail in the capital town of Baler.

No bail was recommended for his provisional liberty by prosecutors Jonald Hernandez and Hyderabad Casar as the charge against him, qualified theft in relation to PD 705 or the Forestry Laws, Rules and Regulations is a capital offense.

Aside from Amansec, also arrested and detained were Demmy Agbayani, Danny Arellano, Reynaldo Macanas, Ricardo Macanas, Luis Mariano, Teresita Mariano, Elmo Olog, Rolly Rivera and Lito Romano.
Amansec’s arrest came amid a renewed campaign by Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo against illegal logging operations in the province, which has one of the largest forest covers in the country.

Earlier, the governor created a task force to run after illegal loggers in the province and directed Benjamin Mina, DENR provincial environment and natural resources officer, to lead the campaign in coordination with various government agencies.

Castillo said there will be no sacred cow in the campaign, saying no one will be spared. “We are determined to stop illegal logging in Aurora no matter who gets hurt,” she said.

The case against Amansec and the eight others arose following a complaint lodged by the former police station commander of this town in connection with the seizure of some 10,000 board feet of illegally sawn lumber in Dinadiawan in two separate operations on Nov. 13 and 16 last year.

The “hot cargo” was about to be transported in two trucks when intercepted by the police.



All-female Baguio City SWAT team graduates

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio City Police Office has now 17 policewomen who finished their forty-five days rigid SWAT training specializing in firearm and combat skills held at Badiwan, Tuba and Diplomat in Baguio.

The SWAT course was opened on July 7 at the City Hall grounds graced by Mayor Reinaldo Bautista and witnessed by city officials
The Human Resource and Development Division of this office initiated the activity enhance the police women’s capabilities.

Training is a bloodline of every policeman and policewoman and our aim is to achieve excellence and provide quality service to our people,” said city police director Supt. Florante Camuyot.

“It is important for us to gain the ability and confidence of being able to do what is expected of us because we are entrusted the duty and responsibility to make the community a safe place to stay and make the police confident in dealing with the problems of the community.”

The graduation program for the policewomen was held Aug. 20 at the city police office. Bautista said he was fully supporting the endeavor.



Ifugao execs, folks act on conversion of forests into agricultural lands
By Vency D. Bulayungan

TINOC, Ifugao- In a bid to save mossy forests while boosting agriculture, the provincial government held a dialogue with municipal, barangay officials and farmers here to come up with action on destruction and unregulated conversion of watershed areas into agricultural lands in this remote town.

Gov. Teddy Baguilat said the provincial government will provide resources to carry land use and zoning, protection of watersheds, development of enterprise and reforestation.

Baguilat said farmers could continue gardening as long as it does not encroach on protected areas and that heavy equipment is not used. “This requires inter-agency coordination.”
Baguilat said parties agreed to have a land use and zoning to identify protected areas or watersheds and to ask the Department of Environment to continue its plan to delineate the watershed line.

During the regional peace and order council meeting in Banaue, Ifugao, provincial environment officer Basilio Mamanteo, said swift action teams in the tri-boundary area where deforestation occurs are being organized.

The parties also agreed to limit vegetable gardening to existing agricultural lands and avoid expansion into steep and watershed areas, stop new declaration of watersheds and guard against sale of real property tax assessments to Benguet businessmen.

To explore viable alternative livelihood, agroforestry and organic agriculture were recommended.

Other points of consensus: people should support mini-hydro endeavors and investments and strengthen police and DENR presence in the area to ensure that environmental laws are complied with.

Ifugao execs, veterans nix WW2 Victory Day celebration to Baguio

By Juan B. Dait Jr, .

KIANGAN, Ifugao — Ifugao World War II veterans and local officials are opposing a move by Baguio Rep. Mauricio Domogan to transfer the venue for the annual celebration of "Victory Day," which marks the surrender of Japanese Imperial Forces commander Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita to the allies on Sept. 2, 1945, from this town to Baguio City.

Yamashita, dubbed the "Tiger of Malaya," presented himself and his staff in the morning of Sept. 2, 1945 at the home economics building of the Kiangan Central School where he surrendered to elements of the US Sixth Army.

The Japanese general was whisked to the Bagabag airport in Nueva Vizcaya where a C-47 plane brought him to Camp Spencer in Luna, La Union.

He was brought on the same day to Camp John Hay in Baguio City.

At noon on Sept. 3, 1945, General Yamashita signed his formal surrender papers at the US High Commissioner’s Residence at the Sayre House in the presence of a panel of US generals led by Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Styer, commanding general of the American Forces in the Western Pacific.

After the signing ceremonies, Yamashita was declared a "prisoner of war" and flown to Nielsen Field in Manila where he was sent to the New Bilibid Prison for internment.

The formal surrender of Yamashita in Camp John Hay on Sept. 3, 1945 is the basis of the recommendation of Congressman Domogan to have Malacañang issue a presidential proclamation declaring September 3 of each year as a national holiday commemorating the end of World War II with the surrender of Yamashita and making Baguio City the venue for the celebration instead of Ifugao.

In a meeting of a committee tasked to prepare the program for the commemoration of "Victory Day" on Sept. 2, Post Commander Alejandro Puguon, President Alfredo Balaino of the Veterans’ Sons and Daughters, Association of Barangay Captains, and representatives of Gov. Teddy Baguilat issued a joint statement urging President Arroyo to maintain the original surrender site of Yamashita in this town for the annual "Victory Day" celebration.

Mayor Cuyahon informed the committee that he attended the meeting in which Domogan bared his plan to have Sept. 3 be declared as a national holiday to be observed annually in Baguio City.

Mayor Cuyahon said the possible motive of Domogan to transfer the "Victory Day" celebration site from Kiangan to Baguio was to boost the sagging tourism industry of Baguio.



NPAs influencing folks of Cordillera provinces
By Dexter A See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – The communist movement is still a force to contend with in communities in the Cordillera especially in remote areas where New Peoples Army guerillas have been sighted frequently the past months.

Chief Supt. Eugene G. Martin, regional police director bared this saying police units region-wide were ordered to take a defensive positions against rebel attacks in police and military outposts and vital installations.

The directive to defend police units and vital installations was a move to prevent the rebels from taking advantage of the crisis in Mindanao and stage their own attacks in the region which might create a negative impression to the country’s overall peace and order situation.

Martin said the provinces of Abra, Mountain Province and Kalinga are still considered to be the haven of communist rebels because of their peculiar terrain that allows them to transfer from one province to another in a short span of time.

However, he said police are always ready to thwart any atrocity being planned by the rebels because the police and military have established strategic positions in identified critical areas to prepare for untoward incidents undertaken by the NPA.

NPAs had also been sighted in the tri-boundaries of Benguet, Mountain Province and the Ilocos and La Union areas as well as the tri-boundaries of Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and other pats of Region II, including the boundary of Apayao, Cagayan and the Ilocos Norte.

Martin said the police and military have joined forces to help realize the commitment of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to flush out the insurgency movement by 2010 but he cited the need for a revitalized police and military effort to rid the country of the remnants of the communist movement in the countryside.

He said local officials should also actively participate in helping flush out the NPAs in the next two years and not allow them to have control of their territorial jurisdiction.



Mystery shrouds slay of Imee Marcos by addicts
By Teddy Molina

LAOAG CITY – The mystery on the killing of Imee Leah Marcos, who was stabbed 26 times by suspected drug addicts recently is getting deeper.

The 15-year-old girl was buried Aug. 16 with her family at a loss if they could get justice for her as she was not autopsied as police earlier said she would

Fernando Marcos, Imee Leah’s father said the planned autopsy of her body before her burial at the Aglipayan cemetery here did not materialize.

The other victim in the killing, Christine Joy Barroga, 18, was buried Wednesday. She sustained six stab wounds.

Marcos said four police investigators visited him last week and asked him if he would agree to an autopsy, to which he gave his approval.

“Diak ammo no apay (I don’t know why the autopsy was not held),” he said, adding that he is not aware of the progress of the investigation.

Barroga’s parents, on the other hand, reportedly did not agree to their daughter’s autopsy.
The two teenagers were found dead on the banks of Padsan River in Barangays Uno and La Paz last Aug. 2.

A witness told investigators that he saw them in the company of a group having fun along the riverbank in Barangay Uno the night before their bodies were found.
Broken bottles of a local gin brand were found at the crime scene, along with a trail of blood from a dike to the riverbank.

Police picked up four young men for questioning but later released them.
Senior Supt. Sterling Blanco, Laoag police chief, refused to identify the four men pending investigation.

Top most wanted nabbed in Laoag

LAOAG CITY- A fugitive, tagged by the police as “top most wanted person,” was arrested in Camanggan here last week.

Supt. Sterling Blanco, chief of police here, said George San Agustin, 30 of barangay 54-B, Camanggan was arrested by his men for carrying a Turkish made shotgun Ga12, Akkar with five bullts outside his house.

Blanco said Agustin is also facing violation of R.A. 9165 or illegal sale of volume of illegal drugs, which is non-bailable.

Blanco said the neutralization of the most wanted persons in the city is one of his top priorities right after assuming the top police post here last month.

Prior to his designation here, Blanco had served as intelligence officers for almost 10 years in Abra and La Union before he was designated as officer in charge of the Regional Intelligence Division in Camp Gen. Oscar Florendo, San Fernando City, La Union, headquarters of the PNP in Region 1. – Mar T. Supnad



Pangasinan town placed under state of calamity
By Jennlyn Mondejar

SAN NICOLAS, Pangasinan – Town officials here declared a state of calamity Wednesday following massive flooding in at least seven barangays caused by a breach in a dike.

Mayor Leoncio Saldivar III said the Calaocan dike along the Ambayaoan River was breached by about 100 meters, causing heavy flooding in the barangays of Calaocan, Cabitnongan, Poblacion East, Poblacion West, Casaratan, Sobol and San Roque.

Saldivar said more than 600 families were evacuated to the West Central and Calaocan elementary schools, while others sought temporary shelter with their relatives.
Saldivar said this was the first time in his four years as mayor that such heavy flooding occurred.
The municipal government distributed relief goods to affected residents and while Gov. Amado Espino Jr. deployed a relief and rescue team, including heavy equipment and rubber boats.
Saldivar said it would take about three to five days for floodwaters to subside.

He said they had undertaken sandbagging along the banks of the 500-meter wide Ambayaoan River but floodwaters from upstream came rampaging and breached the Calaocan dike.

Saldivar said he talked to Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and other concerned authorities to include Ambayaoan River in the Agno Flood Control System project under President Arroyo’s 10-point agenda.

Saldivar said they needed about P127 million for the Ambayaoan River dike, although Engineer Fidel Ginez, DPWH regional director and AFCS head, recently assured him of an initial P10 million for the project.

Officials declare dengue outbreak in P’sinan town
By Jennelyn Mondejar

CALASIAO, Pangasinan – A dengue outbreak was declared here Thursday by officials after 23 out of 24 barangays have 118 confirmed dengue cases, including one death.

Mayor Roy Macanlalay told newsmen he discussed the move to declare the dengue outbreak with Vice Mayor Ferdinand Galang and provincial and regional health offices.

Macanlalay said the town last had a dengue outbreak in 1998 when 271 residents were afflicted with the mosquito-borne disease. In 2006, there were 110 dengue victims.

The number of confirmed dengue cases from January to Aug. 15 this year was several times higher than the six cases during the same period last year.

Hardest-hit barangays this year are San Miguel with 15 cases, Malabago with 14, and Lasip with 11.

Most of the victims were children, and the oldest was 55 years old. The lone fatality was a teenager.

Macanlalay said they decided to declare the dengue outbreak to boost the efforts of the municipal, provincial and regional health offices to prevent further spread of the disease.

The number of dengue patients is expected to increase with the rainy season, Macanlalay said.



SCTEX to spur eco-tourism in Central, Northern Luzon
By Jun Velasco

DAGUPAN CITY – Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. said the full operation of the 94-km Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway this will start a new wave of eco-tourism development activities in Northern and Central Luzon.

The Clark-Tarlac segment officially opened last July 25th, while the Subic-Clark portion began commercial operation last April 28th.

Fernandez, former Immigration commissioner and city mayors league president, cited the big number of motorists now using the expressway since it opened last April. At least half-million motorists have opted to use SCTEX due to its many benefits, the mayor noted.

Data show during the summer holidays, most of the motorists found SCTEX as a fast, convenient access to Subic and Clark from other areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila and Baguio.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Regional Development Council Chairman Salvador T. Duque said the modern infrastructure facility which provides fast, safe, and convenient travel is an integral part of the country’s tourism program.

"I expect the upward trend in traffic volume trend to continue because there are now more entertainment and leisure choices made available to travelers visiting North and Central Luzon."
"Visitors who wish to stay in Subic, for example, can take a 45-minute trip via SCTEX to events in Angeles City and return on the same day. Those who are staying in Clark and nearby areas can go to the resorts in Zambales and return to their hotels on the same day without hassle," Duque said.

With the new expressway, time of travel from Manila to Zambales and Bataan was reduced to almost half the time.

Motorists going to Nueva Ecija and the northern parts of Luzon, particularly Pangasinan, Baguio, La Union and Ilocos, now save almost one-and-half hour by passing through the Clark-to-Tarlac segment of the expressway.



‘Nueva Ecija gov’s security an overkill’
By Liam Anacleto

CABANATUAN CITY – A security overkill with the presence of platoons of fully armed bodyguards and a cordon sanitaire surrounding Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali has turned off many Novo Ecijanos who gave him an overwhelming mandate in last year’s gubernatorial elections.

Residents said Umali’s security cordon would put to shame the Presidential Security Group of both President Arroyo and former President Joseph Estrada combined.
Church officials and concerned citizens said the presence of dozens of many bodyguards encircling Umali has alienated the governor from the masses.

A Catholic priest said Umali has gone “paranoid” (distrustful) of people coming near him over supposed death threats and Novo Ecijanos could not get near him in the process.

“Praning na siya pagdating sa security (He’s paranoid when it comes to security),” the Church official said.

He said the governor’s excessively huge number of bodyguards has been causing disorder in some public functions he attended, or was invited to.

The Church official recalled that Umali was invited to a recent gathering. He said two days before the event, the governor’s advance party arrived at the venue and started sifting the place for supposed bombs. “Ocular inspection lang daw sabi nila (They said it’s just an ocular inspection),” the official said.

Not contented with the advance party, he said the governor sent another group a day before the actual event, causing unnecessary alarm to the host.

The Church official said that even food preparations for the event where Umali would be the guest were severely affected because of the large number of bodyguards.

He said during a recent occasion, the host invited the governor and prepared food for only 20 members of his entourage.

However, around 80 bodyguards of Umali arrived, resulting to the shortage of food.

A husband of a prominent former public official in Central Luzon even remarked that with the presence of so many bodyguards, Umali had shown signs he was scared stiff of his life, amid the supposed death threats. “Duwag siya kung ganoon. Hindi siya matapang (He is timid. He is not brave),” he said.

The Church official said when Umali is at the provincial Capitol in Palayan City, his visitors have to pass through the proverbial eye of the needle before they could get near, or talk to him because they are screened thoroughly.

The governor’s aides would often say to visitors, “me death threats kasi si Boss (Boss has death threats),” referring to Umali.



Herbicide-laced rice downs 5 Bulacan family members
By George Trillo

CALUMPIT, Bulacan – Five members of a family here were rushed to the hospital after eating boiled rice laced with herbicide with cops still trying to determine if foul play was involved.
Efifacio Cruz, chairman of Barangay Frances, identified the victims as Feliciano, Perla, Rex, Ruth, and Ramil, all surnamed Ablaza.

Cruz suspects that the herbicide Machete, used to eliminate weeds in rice fields, was deliberately put in the cooked rice.

A relative of the victims, Manuel Ablaza, 17, who cooked the rice, is now in the custody of the municipal social welfare office.

After eating the rice night of August 15, Manuel’s grandparents Feliciano and Perla, uncles Rex and Ramil, and aunt Ruth started vomiting and experienced dizziness and shortness of breath.
Neighbors rushed them to Our Lady of Mercy General Hospital in nearby Pulilan town.

Feliciano, Rex and Ramil are out of danger, while Perla and Ruth are still in critical condition.
Manuel admitted to newsmen he cooked rice for dinner, but denied that he deliberately laced it with the herbicide.

He said his aunt Ruth was with him when he cooked the rice.

The victims’ relatives recalled that more than a week ago, Manuel’s guardians discovered that they lost pieces of jewelry. The teener’s parents are both working abroad.

They only learned that Manuel allegedly took the jewelry when his classmates reported that he gave away cellular phones in school.



Illegal loggers hatched plan to eliminate me -- Padaca
By Joan Capuna

ILAGAN, Isabela – Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca said illegal loggers have hatched a liquidation plot on her after their illegal activities were hard hit by her fight against the destruction of remaining forests of Isabela, including the Sierra Madre.

Padaca did not identity the illegal loggers plotting to eliminate her, but said that "Isabelinos knew who they are (illegal loggers) as they are the ones who denuded our forest for the last 50 years."

Padaca said unlike the persons behind the operations of jueteng, most of the illegal logging operators are local people."The threats we are receiving are from people we know and who know us. They know by now that we are serious in eradicating illegal logging."

The report on the assassination plot was confirmed by Catholic priest Fr. John Couvreur, head of the ecology desk of the social action apostolate of the Diocese of Ilagan.
The priest said he was also one of the targets of the supposed slay plot.

Recently, Couvreur and his group led a one-day hunger strike in the compound of the parish church in San Mariano town to dramatize their protest against the continued destruction of Isabela’s forest areas.

Couvreur said "a plan has been hatched to liquidate me and Governor Grace Padaca by hired killers because we put in danger the lucrative business of prominent people who are behind the illegal logging activities in the province."



Self-serving officials

The surest way to kill any attempt to amend the Constitution in this country is to include an agenda for extending terms of office. But this hasn’t stopped congressmen from admitting that they are pursuing plans to extend their terms from three years to five by amending the Constitution.

As any constitutionalist knows, any change in the basic law of the land, through whatever mode, requires ratification by the people. By now public officials should have learned, from previous attempts to amend the Constitution, that any hint of a self-serving agenda kills public support for a Charter change initiative.

The fear of having public officials — the president in particular — believing that they are entitled to serve for life can be traced to the national trauma from Ferdinand Marcos’ attempt to hang on to power forever. That fear prompted framers of the Constitution to impose that single six-year term for the president as well as set term limits for other elective officials.

Politicians learned to go around this constitutional provision, making their spouses and children take over their posts at the end of their term and thus perpetuating political dynasties. But there is no guarantee of continuing the family business in every election.

Some, if nor most congressmen want the certainty of a term extension through a constitutional amendment. At least the House members cannot be accused of having a hidden agenda in Charter change. But their candor can only intensify public opposition to Cha-cha.

Speculation that Cha-cha is meant chiefly to allow President Arroyo to hang on to power beyond 2010 has already set back peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

It has also muddled debates on the merits of shifting to a federal system of government. There are several provisions in the Constitution that if amended can boost the economy and the country’s competitiveness. But these needed amendments cannot materialize unless politicians can put their self-serving agenda in the backburner.


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