Mt Prov 2nd best PPOC nationwide

>> Tuesday, September 30, 2008

By Angel Baybay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Provincial Peace and Order Council received another national award for its “consistent efforts in addressing peace concerns in the province and in the region in general.”

In a letter addressed to provincial governor and PPOC chairman Maximo Dalog, Local Government Sec. Ronaldo Puno said the Mountain Province PPOC was adjudged second in the national search for the best provincial peace council for the year 2006.

The province was entered in the first to third class province category. The national search is an annual activity of the National Peace and Order Council chaired by the DILG secretary to strengthen peace councils in all levels in effectively coordinating public and private sector involvement towards the attainment of peace and order in the country.

“The national search team is pleased to inform you that your provincial peace council has been adjudged second best council in the country for the first to third class province class. The exemplary performance and service delivery of your council despite modest means shall serve as role model and inspiration to other peace and order councils,” the letter said.

The provincial PPOC was earlier a Hall of Fame awardee under the fourth to sixth class province bracket after it consistently placed first since 1996.

It was selected as the best council in 2004 when it first joined the upper category then was among the five national finalists the following year.
Davao province topped this year’s search.

Dalog said the province may not join future searches to give chance to other Cordillera provinces interested in joining the annual search.

He said he would write a letter to the regional National Police Commission which acts as the Regional Peace and Order Council secretariat to inform other provinces in the region to prepare needed documents for the upcoming regional selection.

“The national citations awarded to the PPOC are indeed blessing to the people for their cooperation and sense of volunteerism in keeping peace within the province. We want other provinces to experience the same. Who knows, they may have better chances of landing at the top,” Dalog said


2 confirmed dead : Hope fades for 14 Benguet miners trapped in tunnel

By Mydz Supnad, Dexter See and AD

ITOGON, Benguet -- Hopes are fading for 14 gold miners still trapped in a flooded tunnel in this mining town even as rescuers found the bloated bodies of two of 16 miners trapped for three days in an underground gold mine here, officials said.

As of press time, the rescuers had retrieved one of the bodies and were trying to get the other.

Search and rescue operations were still ongoing for the 14 miners believed trapped in a small-scale mine at Goldfield, Antamok who were trapped after rain brought about by Typhoon Nina washed mud down into their tunnel.

The trapped miners were identified as Gilbert Nattem, a native of Banaue, Ifugao; Rudy Boling of Bangaan, Ifugao; Garry Ganu, Joel Bulga, Jeyson Himmayod, Rudy Himmayod, Jojo Himmayod, Juan Himmayod, Marvin Himmayod, and Vincent Himmayod of Quirino province; Joseph Anayasan and Mario Anayasan of Bauko, Mountain Province; Gerry Monyobda of Ifugao, and Robert Buway of Itogon, Benguet.

Officials initially reported 13 miners went into the mine shafts last Monday amid typhoon “Nina” that rapidly flooded the tunnels in the northern mountain town of Itogon.

Witnesses and relatives told officials Thursday three other men were also missing there.

Neoman de la Cruz, Cordillera director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said two teams of rescuers tried on Wednesday to find the miners, believed to be trapped about 120 to 210 meters underground, but backed off due to floods and low oxygen supply in one tunnel
George Baywong, another MGB official, said other miners could be alive but said they would soon run out of food and water and that the scant air was weakening them.

Nearly 100 volunteers from gold mining companies in the area, along with police and the Red Cross, were helping in the rescue efforts. Red Cross officials brought underwater cameras, electric generators and safety gear to the site Thursday.

Rescue teams were hampered by the huge volume of water and methane gas inside the tunnel leading to level 700 of the Antamok mine where the miners were said to be trapped.

The teams lacked the needed 440-volt submersible pump to remove the water from the tunnel.
Rescue teams were continuing to have difficulty with the strong current of water from the mini lake in the vicinity of the mine while fears mounted for the safety of the miners who have been trapped since Tuesday to date.

Investigation showed landslides at Sitio Tuge and Vida in nearby Luacan barangay triggered the collapse of a wall along a diversion tunnel resulting in the buildup of water at the Antamok mine site.

“Their chances of surviving are low,” said Chief Supt. Eugene Martin, Cordillera police director, told the media saying the trapped miners did not have oxygen supply when water flooded the tunnels.

Dela Cruz, who was overseeing the rescue effort, said they were still optimistic they could reach the trapped miners.

He said their efforts were hampered by equipment breakdowns and a lack of sufficient oxygen for the rescuers trying to dig the miners out.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan also expressed hope that the 13 miners were still alive.

In Manila, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said the trapped miners “illegally entered” the tunnel in the abandoned mining area.

“This is an abandoned tunnel that used to be active and it is obviously still an attractive place for those who are just waiting to do some small-scale mining effort,” he said.

Meanwhile, the collapse at the diversion tunnel also led to the sinking of 50- hectare area in Luacan resulting in damage to 90 houses.

The Cordillera MGB earlier identified the area as unstable and warned residents not to build houses there.

The underground tunnels, dug decades ago, were abandoned in the late 1990s by a gold mining company, which posted guards at two entrances to prevent accidents. The trapped miners dug a narrow passageway to gain access to the tunnels, Baywong said.


AI urges Philippine gov’t to ‘surface’ NGO member abducted’ by army men

BAGUIO CITY – Amnesty International urged the Philippine government Friday to probe and hasten efforts to “surface” James Balao, 47, a member of the Cordillera People’s Alliance who was believed abducted here by elements of the Intelligence Security Unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last week.

This was revealed by Beverly Longid, secretary general of the Cordillera Human Rights Organization, who said they are also drafting a writ of amparo which would be filed with the proper court to make the Armed Forces of the Philippines bring out Balao.

“The Commission on Enforced Disappearances of the United Nations is also set to release a statement on the matter,” she said.

This, as the Baguio City council is set to approve tomorrow a resolution condemning Balao’s disappearance and ask proper authorities for a speedy investigation on the matter.
The CPA released a statement Thursday saying Balao was nowhere to be found on the morning of Sept. 17 around 7 a.m. after he left his residence in Fairvew, Baguio intending to go to his family residence in La Trinidad, Benguet.

He reportedly informed his family that he was going home that day through a text message at about 6:45 am. He was not able to reach home and has not been in contact with his family or friends since, nor have they been able to contact him.

In the first week of June, Balao began reporting regular surveillance to his family, which increasingly heightened until his disappearance last week.

He had often observed white and blue vans tailing him from his residence on his daily chores, the CPA said.

According to a reliable source, Balao is listed in the Armed Forces of the Philippines dossier as the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

Balao was a founding member of the CPA when it was established in June 1984. Even before this, James worked as research staff of the Cordillera Resource Center, then as member of the CPA’s Research and Education Commission.

He has contributed to CPA’s Research and Education work, mainly on the issues of tribal war and ancestral land.

At present, he is the president of the Oclupan Clan Association and one of his tasks is to look into the registration and documentation of the clan properties.

James was with the CPA Regional Office until 1993 then did education work for CPA chapters and networks in the provinces such as in Ifugao from 1994 to 1997, with the Ifugao Research and Development Center and later with the Ifugao Peasant Leaders Forum.

Balao graduated B.S. Psychology from the University of the Philippines Baguio in 1981. In college, he was the editor-in-chief of the Outcrop (campus newspaper).

He also worked as a research staff for the Cordillera Studies Group based in Easter School (1981-1984) then as a staff of Pons Benagen, of the 1986 Constitutional Commission on the drafting of the 1986 Constitution especially on provisions on indigenous peoples.

He is the eldest child of Arthur and Jane Balao of Atok and La Trinidad, Benguet and is the eldest of four children. He was born in Jan. 3, 1961. -- AD


Man shot dead for beheading daughter

TUGUEGARAO CITY – A farmer was shot dead by responding authorities in a remote village in a northern town here for refusing to give himself in after beheading his own 12-year-old daughter.

In a report to Senior Supt. Jude Santos, provincial police director, the Pamplona town police said one of its operatives was forced to fire at Remegio Dacquigan after reportedly attempting to attack them while they were negotiating for his surrender for beheading his daughter Janette.

Dacquigan, wielding a long sharp bolo and still holding the head of his daughter, reportedly went amuck, creating a commotion in Sitio Mali­cutoc, Barangay Casitian in Pamplona, Cagayan, prompting barangay officials to rush for police assistance.

Upon their arrival in the said place, the policemen saw Dacquigan going amuck in the community, wielding a long bolo and carrying the head of his daughter, whom he had earlier allegedly beheaded still dripping with fresh blood.

The policemen ordered Dacquigan to give himself in but instead, he reportedly poised to attack them and the village officials accompanying them.

This prompted one of the operatives, identified as SPO3 Cornelio Eduarte Jr. to shoot Dacquigan on the head with his M16 rifle, causing the farmer’s instant death. -- CL


P1-B of Cagayan nat’l road user’s tax missing

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Rep. Carlos Padilla, who was the first to spill the beans on the controversial national broadband network deal in the Lower House, said more than P1 billion released for the Cagayan Valley region from the collection of the national road user’s tax in 2004 could not be accounted for.

Padilla said that based on records received by Congress, the amounts were released to the district offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the region’s three main provinces – Cagayan, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya – but that there was nothing to show where the money actually went.

Padilla said the P1 billion was just part of the more than P10 billion released by the Arroyo administration to a number of provinces from the national road user’s tax in 2004, and whose uneven distribution created a uproar among congressmen over the weekend.

“A House investigation was already set next week, especially by the House committee on public works and highways, because many congressmen were angry about this,” Padilla said.

“In fact, some of our colleagues are up in arms because their provinces did not receive even a single centavo from the road user’s tax, while here we (were supposed to) have received more than P1 billion in Cagayan Valley in 2004 and yet we have no idea where the money went,” he said.

“With just the allocation alone, there was already an anomaly,” he added.

Based on Commission on Audit documents, Padilla said Nueva Vizcaya was given P380 million from the national road user’s tax in 2004 for the maintenance of provincial roads.

“But I don’t see any evidence that such an amount was used for the provincial roads of Nueva Vizcaya. If such an amount had been received, then the provincial government would not have so much problem in the maintenance of its local roads,” he said.

He said such was apparently also the case with Isabela and Cagayan where the rest of the more than P1 billion supposedly went.

“If this is true with Cagayan Valley, then possibly the same is true with other areas in the country,” Padilla said.

Padilla said it was important to find out what happened to these funds from the national road user’s tax released in 2004, which was an election year.

“We want to find out where the money went. But I have a feeling that the money may have gone to ghost projects or had been utilized during the 2004 elections,” he said.

Padilla said the “missing” funds were connected with the controversial more than P2 billion in bonuses, which the 70-member secretariat of the Road Users Board gifted themselves with in 2005 and which the Palace is now investigating.

“Whoever utilized the more than P10 billion in government funds intended for road maintenance projects in 2004 would face the consequences,” he said.

Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Luisa Lloren-Cuaresma said the provincial government never received such a huge amount in 2004 or even up to this time.

“If the P380 million had been allocated for the maintenance of our provincial roads in 2004, that would be more than enough for us and we would not have any problem now in maintaining our provincial roads and that the amount we are allocating to maintain them should have been used for education and other social services,” she said.

For his part, Ronald Reyes, DPWH district engineer here, denied that his office ever received the P380 million.

If such an amount had been allocated, Reyes said its utilization could be confined in the national or regional level.

Padilla vowed to uncover those behind the missing share of Cagayan Valley from the national road user’s tax.

“Those behind the P780-million Jocjoc Bolante scam as well as last year’s P271-million rice fund scam already look like small-time pickpockets compared to those involved in this more than P10-billion road user’s tax scam,” he said.

The road user’s tax, or the motor vehicle user’s charge, was created under Republic Act 8794 in 2001.

It is collected as part of the payment of a motor vehicle owner when he registers his vehicle every year with the Land Transportation Office.

The DPWH secretary chairs the Road Users Board, which manages the funds collected that are supposed to be used for road maintenance. -- CL


Ilocos solon hits anti-tobacco group’s claim

By Teddy Molina

CANDON CITY -- Deputy Speaker Eric Singson (second district, Ilocos Sur) dismissed as “unprofessional” and “baseless” the claim of an anti-tobacco group pointing to him as responsible for the death of more than 65,000 Filipinos for the last nine months for his role in halting the passage of a controversial bill requiring picture-based warnings placed on cigarette packs.

In a recent news report, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines (FCAP) was quoted as saying Singson “should be made responsible for the death of 65,040 Filipinos because of tobacco-caused diseases since the bill was filed on Dec. 20.”

House Bill 3364 requires the printing of picture-based health warnings on the pack of cigarettes. The picture would portray various diseases caused by smoking in an attempt to influence smokers to quit  the habit and for the uninitiated not to start smoking.

FCAP and other similarly oriented groups are lobbying for the bill’s immediate enactment. They said that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an affiliate of the World Health Organization, had set Sept. 4 this year as deadline for countries to adopt graphic or  picture-based health warnings.

A staunch defender of the tobacco industry, Singson said “the accusation blaming me for the deaths due to cigarette-related diseases is “baseless, malicious and unprofessional and should be  censored.”

He said that it is his duty to protect the livelihood of tobacco farmers in his province whom he said have been planting the crop for a long time. Local observers noted that the measure adversely affects the industry saying that graphic health warnings on cigarettes would lead  to the eradication of tobacco farming.

Singson earned the ire of FCAP and related groups when he led a group of congressmen-members of the House committee on Health in trouncing HB 3364 at the committee’s technical working group hearing recently.

A consensus voting was held, Singson said, and the result had 24 going against the bill while only eight supported it.

The deputy speaker afterwards said “the bill is dead.” This did not sit well with the private sector endorsers of the bill with FCAP executive director Maricar Limpin deploring Singson’s allegation.

He denied FCAP’s allegation that the FCTC had imposed a deadline for the adaption of graphic health warning labels worldwide saying the same body did not make such labels to adorn cigarette packs compulsory.

“With regard to the cited health warning provision, the word used in the FCTC agreement is ‘may be’, so how can you impose this without violating the rights of concerned parties,” he asked.

Singson looks forward to the convening of the House committee on health where he said he would ”ventilate” fully the issues involved regarding the controversial bill.

He said Sen. Pia Cayetano, author of a similar measure in the Senate admitted the non-mandatory character of the provision when asked by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile during a hearing on her bill.


Jailed People's Journal reporter gets back at cops

BAGUIO CITY – A photojournalist jailed for four days or at least 80 hours will return the “favor” to his jailer when he filed a counter affidavit Friday.

Cesar Reyes filed cases of “incriminating an innocent person, delay in the delivery of detained persons” as well as administrative cases for grave abuse of power and authority against Police Community Office 4 head Insp. Joseph del Castillo.

Reyes got out jail Monday after filing the P3,000 bail for grave threats, reduced from P66,000 when his illegal possession charge was dropped by Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe for lack of probable cause.

His grave threat charge, however, needs yet to be heard and proven when he will be arraigned on Oct. 6.

Earlier, he said that he will take things in stride after he filed for bail before lunchtime where he paid half of the recommended bail of P6,000.

In filing the counter affidavit, Reyes said that he was never investigated on and that he was not informed “of the nature and cause of my arrest and my constitutional rights as accused because he (del Castillo) never did.”

Since Castillo claimed to have undertaken an investigation, Reyes added, “He never informed me that I have the right to remain silent and to counsel as mandated by Sec. 4 of (Republic Act) R.A. 7438.”

R.A. 7438 defines the rights of arrested person, detained or under custodial investigation as well as responsibilities of arresting persons.

Section four of said act penalizes the arresting officer “who fails to provide a competent and independent counsel to a person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation for the commission of an offense if the latter cannot afford the services of his own counsel.”

Reyes' counter affidavit also said that he was not delivered to the proper judicial authorities during the entirety of the more than 17 hours that he was under the police officer's custody.

“I suffered humiliation, mental anguish and unnecessary detention for the unwarranted and unlawful charge of Police Inspector Joseph Fokno del Castillo,” Reyes added in filing his counter affidavit.

“If he will not file the case then we will,” said Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club, Inc. President Pigeon Lobien, who with officers and members of the club, went to the Baguio City Police Office Friday afternoon to seek means to have the jailed photojournalist out.

Reyes said that he was not informed of his rights after he voluntarily joined the investigating police officers after the 11 p.m. incident Thursday and after he surrendered his gun, as well as its papers, which he allegedly used to threaten the taxi driver and his posse.

“I did not poke it and I just drew it to warn them to back off. They were ganging up on me,” he added.

What resulted was a case of police investigation going over board, said lawyer Richard Carino who took on the case after Reyes was already incarcerated.

“I feel outraged,” added Carino who filed the case against the police officers responsible for detaining for 18 hours and then filed the charges only when Carlos Abrigo was reportedly encouraged by investigating cops to file a case against Reyes after they agreed that the journalist will pay P2,000 which was signed by both parties.

Reyes paid the amount after lunch Friday but had to stay in detention while cops remained mum telling him nothing why he remains at the police office.

He said that cops had a close door meeting with Abrigo for almost two hours and when the latter left, a grave threat charge was already made against the journalist.

Reyes was later brought again to the Baguio City Police Office where he was told to proceed to the city jail where he was already asked for finger printing.

Reyes filed bail for grave threats as the illegal possession of firearm was immediately dismissed by Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe, who ruled there was “no probable cause to indict the respondent, but probable cause against the respondent of the crime of grave threat.”

A case has been filed with the municipal trial court here and set for arraignment on Oct, 6.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Carlos Abrigo, who on the evening of Sept. 18 confronted Reyes after the latter bumped his taxi “Edrin & Dave.”

Reyes was about to leave aboard his Toyota Lite Ace van parked at Session Road fronting Luisa’s Café.

The driver, Jaime Caccam, alit from the taxi and confronted Reyes while also calling for back up including the owner, Abrigo.

Abrigo upon arrival immediately confronted Reyes and with several others allegedly verbally abused him until one pushed him that forced the journalist to draw his gun.

“He drew it but kept it on his side after one of the men pushed him,” said a witness.

“What will you do if four men approach you from all sides with, apparently, the purpose of hurting you?” said Reyes.

Abrigo said in an interview with a local television network that he dared Reyes to fire it which the latter did not.

“I just tried to show it, to warn them to back off,” Reyes said.

Responding policemen saw a balding, bespectacled man with a gun when they arrived and a man taking photos of the vehicles.

Reyes immediately surrendered his gun and even gave up the papers including his permit to carry issued by the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame.

When invited to settle the case at the Community Police Office at Upper Session Road, Reyes
boarded the police car.

But he never got out of the police offices even after he agreed with Abrigo that he pay P2,000 for the damages.

Reyes was brought from to the police office at Abanao at 3 a.m. then back to the Compac and back and forth until 4:30 p.m. on Friday when police brought him to the city jail where he spent the weekend.

“I did not know that there was already an inquest. I was not provided with a lawyer even,” he said.

Franco added that Reyes was charged with illegal possession of firearm although he may have the papers could still be liable since the same was used to “commit a crime.”

Station seven head Chief Insp. Engelbert Soriano said Reyes had an earlier case involving at that time a cop who let go of the incident. -- PML



Typhoon leaves 9 dead, 28,566 homeless in NL

By Aileen P. Refuerzo and Jerry Padilla

BAGUIO CITY -- Massive flooding caused by Typhoon Nina which vented its wrath Tuesday displaced 28,566 families in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog and the Cordillera, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

This, as authorities said the death toll caused by Typhoon Nina has reached nine, including four people who drowned, three killed by landslides and one person electrocuted by a fallen power line after Nina struck.

Twenty other people were injured in landslides that hit Baguio City and Benguet.

In Baguio, rains triggered by Typhoon Nina left three persons dead, ten others injured and sent some 150 families to evacuation centers.

The fatalities were Lailani Fecha, 39 who was killed in a landslide that hit her house at 150 Dominican Ext. at the height of the typhoon last Sept. 22, Lolita Baroma, 76 and son Juan Baroma, 40, who were also pinned to death when a mounds of soil slid from the mountain and covered their home at 127 Guisad Surong barangay.

The City Disaster Coordinating Council chaired by Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. with city administrator Peter Fianza and city engineer Leo Bernardez as action officers reported that the howler reported that around 150 families were moved to the various evacuation centers at the height of the typhoon.

The CDCC also recorded 52 cases of landslides, soil erosion or mud flow, 17 eroded ripraps, colverts and stairways, 19 fallen trees, 19 incidents of flooding, one case of trash slide, two cases of washed out drainage pipelines as of September 23, Tuesday.

The figure is expected to increase as more reports are being received by the CDCC as of Friday.
No estimate of amount for damages was released as investigations of the damaged infrastructures also continued as of Friday.

There was minimal power outage and the two main access roads, Marcos Highway and Naguilian Road, remained passable. Kennon Road was closed due to landslides.

The mayor reminded the public that requests for assistance during calamities may be coursed through the CDCC which maintains the following phone numbers: 442-1901 to 442-1905.

Czech gov’t extends P1.3M for asin hydro plant study
By Isagani S. Liporada

BAGUIO CITY – It’s beginning to sound like Christmas for the City Government-run Asin Hydroelectric Power Plants

The Czech Republic, Sept. 22, inked a deal with the city government for the latter to finance a Czech-led feasibility study that may see the transformation of the 1925 American-vintage Hydroelectric Power Plant 1 in Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet to an advanced power-generating facility endowed with the latest Czech technology.

The CZK495, 500 (P1.3-million) FS comes under the Czech Republic Development Cooperation for Local Small Scale Project Identification Programme.

Czech ambassador Jaroslav Ludva visited the AHPP1and inked the FS deal with Mayor Reinaldo Bautista afternoon that day.

Bautista expressed gratitude to the Czech Republic for the grant. He said, with the FS, the city government may be able to operate the hydro plant should the Czech Republic decide to grant rehab money after conclusion of the FS.

Early this year, Bautista communicated with the Czech Republic through Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Helena Bambasova hoping to interest them in rehabilitating the project under the CRDC.

The Czech government responded to the city’s request in no time, sending experts Jaroslav Knotek and Bretislav Skacel of the Czech Renewable Energy Alliance and PS PROFI, to make initial assessment of the AHP’s from April 9 to 13.

Bautista said the fast action of the Czech Republic on the City Government’s request “was simply outstanding to say the least - it bespeaks of the Czech Republic’s genuine intention of furthering amity between our countries.”

Meanwhile, the Petroxy Corporation, an aggrupation of South Korean investors is currently pursuing possibility of a joint venture with the City in operating the AHP’s.
Petroxy is currently developing AHP’s in Kapangan and Kibungan, Benguet. To date, the corporation is finalizing plans for their own FS on the Asin facilities.

PSHS now accepting scholarship applications

BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Science High School System (PSHSS) is accepting applications for the National Competitive Examination (NCE) on Nov. 15, as preparation for the PSHS – Cordillera Region opening next school year.

The PSHS for the Cordillera shall be based in Baguio, while the new PSHS Central Luzon Campus shall be in Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga.

Scholarship applications for school year 2009-2010, including the two new campuses, are extended until Oct. 6.

Gifted and talented students of the Cordillera Region are invited to apply, said a letter to Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. from PSHSS Executive Director Filma Brawner.

Earlier announcements pegged the deadline date as Sept. 15. Students who have submitted their applications need not apply again, Brawner stated in her letter.

Applicants must belong to the upper ten per cent of the graduating class of a school duly recognized by DepEd, as certified by the school principal, or have special aptitude in science and math, as supported by the report card and letter of recommendation from the principal.)

They must also be Filipino citizens with no application as immigrant to any foreign country, in good health, of good moral character and hasn’t taken the PSHS NCE previously.

Requirements are fully accomplished application form from the PSHSS in duplicate, two identical recent 1 by 1 ID pictures. non-refundable test fee (P100 for private school, free for public schools) and copy of report card, SY 2007-2008 with letter of recommendation if the applicant does not belong to the upper 10% of the graduating class.

Accomplished forms may be submitted to nearest DOST Regional Offices; or Provincial Science and Technology Centers, nearest PSHS campuses; or PSHSS Admissions Office, Agham road, Diliman, Quezon City 1104.

Forms are available at the PSHS campuses and Department of Science and Technology. For Cordillera applicants, forms may be obtained at the DOST Regional office along the national highway, Km 6, La Trinidad Benguet, or downloaded from the PSHS website Inquiries may be coursed through the DOST-CAR office; tel no. 422-0979, or head office: (02) 924-0639 and (02) 926-5701. – Julie G. Fianza

Cement batching plants banned in Baguio City

By Dexter A See

BAGUIO CITY – The city government has ordered owners of all cement batching plants in this mountain resort city to stop their operations and transfer the plants to areas outside of the city within a certain period of time.

The ban imposed by the city government on the operations of cement batching plants came as an offshoot barangay residents’ complaints.

The batching plants in the city are the causes of air, noise, water and land pollution, the residents said.

Vice Mayor Daniel T. Farinas said the ban on cement batching plants in the city is line with the city government’s effort to solve the worsening air, water, and land pollution.

Noting that there are still some hard-headed contractors who refuse to transfer their batching plants to other areas, Farinas requested the Cordillera office of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources to assist the city government in the forcible removal of the cement plants, particularly those reportedly illegally operating.

Under an ordinance approved by the city council, contractors who own cement batching plants in the city are given a 30-day period to remove their plants, but some of them are using dilatory tactics to enable them to continue their operations.

Records show some cement batching plants in the city do not have the required environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Environmental Management bureau (EMB) in the Cordillera.

Likewise, the city government has not issued permits to operate to the owners of the plants. Because of these deficiencies, these are considered illegal businesses.

City officials noted that the booming construction industry has prompted several contractors to build their cement batching plants at places near their projects to save on cost of hauling as well as manpower and maintenance of trucks.

Earlier, thousands of residents in Camp 7 and other areas hosting cement batching plants petitioned the city government to initiate the moves to remove the plants in their barangays because of these are major contributors to the worsening air, noise, water, and land pollution.
They said that the cement dust being emitted by the plant has caused an outbreak of respiratory diseases among the people.

Despite strong opposition to the operations of cement batching plants in the different barangays, some owners of the plants continue to operate even without the necessary ECC and business permit.

Farinas also asked the law-enforcement agencies to immediately enforce the ordinance and stop the operations of cement batching plants.

Low palay price imperils food security: rice traders
By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The low buying price of palay, which is set by the national government through the National Food Authority, is endangering the country’s food security, not only at present but also in the coming years.

This was the concern aired by some rice dealers and traders in this mountain resort city.

They noted that the P12 per-kilo buying price of palay in Northern Luzon has caused widespread disappointment among farmers.

Instead of increasing the buying prices of palay to encourage farmers to continue producing the staple food, the national government has opted to lower the buying price from P17 to P12 per kilo.

They said this is contrary to the pronouncement of top government officials that they want to step up production to prevent a repeat of the rice shortage in the previous months.

The disgruntled traders and retailers said the discouraging prices of palay would cause farmers to shift to other sources of income. Consequently, this would negate efforts to ensure rice sufficiency in the country in the coming years.

Furthermore, they said, the reduction in the buying price of palay may be intended to promote the importation of more rice. This would be to the advantage of commercial rice traders as well as corrupt government officials, they also said.

The local rice traders expressed disappointment over the failure of concerned national government agencies to protect the interest of rice farmers.

They said that the prevailing low buying price of palay is sending a wrong signal to the agriculture sector.

If the buying price of palay is increased to P20 per kilo, they said, rice farmers would be encouraged to continue or even increase production of the staple food.

This may even encourage in people in urban centers to go back to farming, they also said.

If there is insufficient supply of rice, unscrupulous government officials would benefit from it because they would be raking in millions of pesos in kickbacks from rice importers, the retailers said.

The concerned rice traders and retailers in this city appealed to the government to help the rice farmers by increasing the buying price of palay. The increase would enable them to recover their losses caused by the high prices of farm inputs.



Ifugao folk consulted on dam
By Robie Halip

TINOC, Ifugao---The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Ifugao Office with engineer Cesar Soriano of the Sta. Clara Corp. recently conducted a consultation among the stakeholders of the proposed Tinoc Mini Hydro Dam in Eheb, Binablayan and Poblacion in this town for the acquisition of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Stakeholders and host communities had prepared a list of assistance and projects they wished to ask from the corporation, the proponent of the said project, which is planning to construct a 2.5 megawatt mini-hydro power plant at the Baugan River in Eheb.

The dam to be constructed will be a run-off type with approximately 2.1 kilometers headrace. The powerhouse will be located at Sitio Manguh-unnoh in Eheb.

NCIP officials said it was agreed upon during the FPIC that Ifugao Electric Cooperative will manage distribution of electricity in the Ifugao side as they will be buying from Sta Clara the electricity that will be produced by the dam.

IFELCO will install transmission lines and electric posts to different barangays of Tinoc.
The excess generated electricity will be sold to Benguet Electric Coop. as the grid of Tinoc is nearer to the grid line of Sinipsip.

Assistance and projects requested by the host communities were discussed by the proponent and the stakeholders facilitated by the NCIP representative.

A memorandum of agreement was signed after the FPIC in Eheb and Poblacion. The MOA for barangay Binablayan is still pending as one of the stakeholders is not amenable to the price being offered by the proponent for his lot.

In the MOA, the SCC will operate the dam for eight years.

Gov. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. was one of the witnesses in the MOA. He cited the importance of protecting watersheds being the lifeblood of the dams and terraces.

He added in return, the watershed keepers should also be rewarded.



Atienza orders auction of logs seized in Isabela

ILIGAN CITY, ISABELA -- Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza ordered Thursday the auction of illegally cut logs seized recently by a composite team of Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Isabela provincial government personnel and police and military units.

"The contraband logs will be sold to the highest bidder on ‘as is, where is’ basis," Atienza said.

"We do not relish this task. But rather than leaving the seized logs exposed to the elements and eventually rendered useless, steps must be taken to make the contraband timber serve a productive purpose."

The illegally cut logs, worth nearly P3 million, were cut by poachers at the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. Confiscated were 2,059 pieces of assorted hardwood (narra, red lauan, tanguile), measuring 158,618 board feet.

Atienza also commended Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca for her vigilance and determination to protect the natural wealth of Isabela.

Padaca has been waging an uphill battle against decades-old illegal logging activities in Isabela, particularly in a logging town where many residents earn their livelihood as atcheros (chain saw operators) and bogaderos (log transporters).

"Governor Padaca’s effort not only addresses the very critical issues on why Isabela’s natural wealth should be protected for the benefit of the majority but seeks to put the socio-political and economic dynamics of the province in their proper perspective. Indeed her stateswomanship makes her larger than life for us all in government service to emulate," Atienza said.

The DENR chief also asked top officials of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to extend all possible assistance to Padaca’s campaign to enforce environmental laws.

The lady governor was deputized recently by Atienza as environment and natural officer, a position which gives her the authority to arrest and file charges against violators of environmental laws.

Part of the proceeds of the sale of confiscated logs will fund the efforts of Governor Padaca in her campaign against timber poaching in Isabela’s forested towns located within the 359,846-hectare natural park. Padaca firmly adheres to the protection and preservation of Isabela’s natural park because water from its forests irrigates the province’s ricefields which now produce more rice than Nueva Ecija, previously considered as the country’s rice granary.



Deaf-mute rescued in sex den
By Liam Anacleto

SAN LEONARDO, Nueva Ecija – Police rescued a deaf-mute and another companion following a series of lightning raids of 40 establishments along the national highway here suspected of being fronts of prostitution.

Senior Supt. Ricardo Marquez, Philippine National Police provincial director, said the deaf-mute, whose identity was withheld, was rescued along with a young woman from Laur, Nueva Ecija Maharlika who was reunited with her mother a week after she found her way here to work as one of the guest relations officer (GRO) in one of the beer joints.

The raiding team, led by deputy provincial director for operations, Superintendent Peter Guibong, swooped down on the establishments on Thursday.

They were assisted by the municipal government in conducting the raids.

The crackdown against the beer joints was ordered by Marquez following reports that the flesh trade was running rampant along the Maharlika Highway in this town.

The stretch of funhouses lining the highway is long considered the “red light district of Nueva Ecija” which has been the subject of complaints for many years to no avail. Several robbery-holdup incidents were also recorded in the area during night time, victimizing travelers.

Ecija vice gov hits Umali over barbs on Joson patriarch
PALAYAN CITY – Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, who has come under fire from Vice Gov. Edward Thomas Joson for allegedly being insincere in his unity call, has been scored anew by the latter, this time for accusing the Joson family, which ruled the province for 48 years, of “long years of pathetic governance.”

Joson, presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said Umali’s remarks are a direct affront not only to the administration of his predecessor, former four-term governor Tomas Joson III, but also to the late patriarch, former six-term governor Eduardo Sr.

He said Umali’s remarks are uncalled for and disdains the legacies of Joson Sr., falling short of proverbially making the latter “turn in his grave.”

“When you say long years of pathetic governance, pati si Tatang idinadamay mo na (you are dragging the name of Tatang. We find this totally unacceptable),” Joson said of his grandfather. Tatang was the nickname of Joson Sr. who was governor for 28 years.

Earlier, Umali said that the province is now facing a lot of problems “brought about by long years of pathetic governance, referring to the Josons.

Joson said the incumbent governor is in no position to accuse the Josons of being pathetic in governing the Capitol. He said the governor should have confined his broadsides to the administration of Tomas III and to go a step further would be trying to portray their clan as not having done anything good.

Answering Umali’s allegations point-by-point, Joson said there was no truth to the latter’s claims of “highly immoral and anomalous transactions” at the Capitol.

These supposedly include unremitted GSIS and Pag-ibig contributions of employes, non-payment of tuition fees of 6,000 scholars in 33 colleges and universities since 2004; gargantuan cuts in the 2008 budget; the alleged questionable donation in 2007 of heavy equipment to crony mayors of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane), the P1.1 billion in unpaid obligations to banks, contractors and suppliers, the slide in the economic status of Nueva Ecija and the “sweeping rejection” by the electorate of the Josons in last year’s elections.

Joson said the Department of Budget and Management assumed responsibility for the payment of the GSIS contributions but failed to do so. Worse, when the contributions were not remitted, the provincial government was slapped with interests. “If there was someone at fault here, it is the national government and not Gov. Joson,” he said.

The vice governor said that the tuition fees of the scholars were all paid for, during the time of Joson Sr. and Tomas III. On the contrary, he said, it was Umali who defaulted on payments for one year after he assumed office. -- MG



Huge shabu lab busted in Floridablanca, Pampanga
By George Trillo

FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga -- Anti-narcotics agents scored anew in their campaign against illegal drugs as they busted a large shabu laboratory in Floridablanca, Pampanga on Sept. 25.

Joint operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Pampanga police found millions of pesos’ worth of chemicals and equipment used in making shabu at a house in Barangay Consuelo, Floridablanca town.

Authorities invited for questioning the caretaker of the house, Renie Reyes, who identified the operator of the shabu lab as Eugene Bao, a Chinese national, an initial PDEA report said.

Chief Supt. Errol Pan, Central Luzon police director, also identified a certain Peter Pei and Caroline Dy, also both Chinese nationals, as Bao’s alleged co-operators of the illegal facility.

PDEA information office chief Derrick Carreon said the raid was conducted by virtue of a search warrant issued by the Pampanga regional trial court.

“It was a storage facility housing chemicals. Our men in the field are still conducting an inventory of the seized chemicals. They are also conducting follow-up operations,” Carreon said.

Senior Supt. Keith Ernald Singian, Pampanga police director, said his men discovered the shabu lab while looking into a land dispute in the area.

Chief Insp. Val Lopez, head of PDEA’s Complaints and Reaction Unit, said they were verifying the involvement of some “Chinese nationals” in illegal drug operations in the area.

Singian said he dispatched a team to look for one Vilma Dimarucut, said to be Bao’s wife, who bought the one-hectare lot where the shabu lab was put up sometime in 2004.

Last week, PDEA agents also dismantled another shabu lab in Masbate City, seizing shabu precursors, essential chemicals and equipment.

PDEA director general Dionisio Santiago said the apartment where the shabu lab was put up was rented by Chinese national Lin Cui Feng, alias Jeffrey Villegas, and a certain Ronald Gabriel, alias Tandodoy, who were both not around during the raid.



Ilocos power users to get P500
By Freddie Lazaro

VIGAN CITY -- The Ilocos Sur Electric Coop. is one of the electric cooperatives in the country that will receive R500 electricity subsidy for its customers, it was reported.

Teresita Ramos, manager of ISECo’s Vigan sub-area office, said the application of the cooperative for the release of the fund for the subsidy is being processed.

"Upon approval and release of the subsidy by the National Electrification Administration, we will immediately disseminate the information through the radio stations," Ramos said.

She said beneficiaries of the R500 electricity subsidy are member-consumers who use every month 100 kwh and less.

"Our ISECo employees are now validating the list of qualified beneficiary- recipients of the subsidy," Ramos said.

The cooperative’s Vigan sub-office is considered the largest branch office of ISECo in the province, servicing Vigan City and seven towns, namely Caoayan, Santa, Bantay, Sta. Catalina, San Vicente, San Ildefonso, and Sto. Domingo with 35,000 member-consumers.

"Out of the 35,000 member-consumers, at least 70 percent or 24,500 are qualified to receive the R500 subsidy," Ramos said.

Earlier, President Arroyo approved a R500 one-time electricity subsidy for poor consumers through her program called, "Pantawid Kuryente: Katas ng VAT."

The program aims to help electricity users cope with the rising costs of fuel and basic commodities.

The subsidy is taken from the collection of the expanded value added tax (EVAT).
Based on a memorandum issued by the NEA, the R500 subsidy will be deducted from the electric bills of the consumers.

This will be deducted from the monthly billings of the beneficiaries until the R500 is exhausted. The beneficiaries of the program were selected based on their recent monthly billings.

"All qualified consumers will receive a credit memo issued by the electric cooperative which will inform them of the subsidy and when will it be credited to their bills," Ramos said.



Cagayan quarrying operations threaten RP’s most costly fish

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The rampant quarry operations along the mouth of the Cagayan river in this country’s northernmost Cagayan province threaten the existence of several fish species, including one of the country’s most expensive fish.

The government’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources expressed fear that if the quarry activities continue unabated, this might spell the doom of the already critically endangered ludong, considered to be a rich man’s delicacy, and other species endemic to the area such as the unnok (Delillia sp.) and the cabibi (Batissa violacea) due to the disturbance on their habitat.

BFAR said that the quarry operations might destroy the spawning patterns and migratory route of the ludong, probably one of Asia’s most delectable fish, which at latest spawning run sold for at P3,500 to P5,000 per kilo.

“Besides this threatening environmental tragedy, the indiscriminate quarry operations along the river, specially near its mouth, also pose risks to agriculture due to possible salt-water intrusion,” said Dr. Jovita Ayson, BFAR director for Cagayan Valley.

The ongoing sand quarrying activities, which has affected the northern coastal towns here, such as Camalaniugan, Lallo and Aparri, have been opposed by Church authorities for quite some time now owing to their negative environmental impact.

The apprehension of the Church and environmentalists here was bolstered by findings from BFAR experts, which show the quarry project affects the habitat of benthic organisms dwelling on the river bottom, like unnok and cabibi.

Further, even if an environmental compliance certificate had been issued for the quarrying activity, their proponents, reportedly financed by foreign nationals such as Chinese and Indonesian groups, have apparently failed to comply with additional requirements for them to engage in quarrying within the Cagayan river here whose silt is sold at a higher price than from inland sand.

Besides the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which issues the ECC, the proponent of the quarrying activity should also have obtained permits from other government agencies like BFAR, Departments of Labor and Employment, Health, and Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority, and Philippine Coast Guard. -- CL


Petitioners for Gov’s recall hits 125,000

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Signatures in the petition seeking to recall Gov. Eddie Panlilio from his post has already exceeded the 100,000 mark needed to pave the way for special elections for governor in this province. At least 125,000 signatures have been gathered.

This, amid plans of petitioners to seek Malacañang’s funding for recall elections that could cost some P24 million amid the repeated declaration of Commission on Elections officials that the poll body lacks funds.

While the needed signatures have reportedly been reached, prominent supporters of the recall petition refused last week to disclose who they are supporting as gubernatorial candidate against Panlilio who, by law, would automatically be also a candidate in recall polls.

In an interview with, Kapanalig at Kambilan neng Memalen Pampanga (Kambilan) president Rosve Henson said over the weekend, over 125,000 registered voters had already signed the recall petition which cited lack of confidence in the leadership of Panlilio.

He said the signatures were solicited by around 80,000 persons who were issued identification cards as members of Kambilan and that the signatures had already been “validated” by Kambilan volunteers.

Henson could not say exactly how many had signed the petition, saying that the ID-carrying members of Kambilan continued yesterday to solicit more signatures.

According to law, a recall petition needs 10 percent of the signatures of registered voters. Pampanga has about 977,000 registered voters.

“I think we’d be able to submit the recall petition to the Comelec even much earlier than the initial target in mid October,” Henson said.

Undaunted by Comelec’s lack of funds, Henson said he expected the special recall elections to be held in December or January at the latest.

“It’s the duty of the Comelec to look for funds for the recall elections,” Henson said, although a source from Kambilan who asked not to be named said his group is considering the Office of the President to allocate the P24 million needed for the special polls from its contingency fund.

Earlier, Comelec legal department chief Ferdinand Rafanan said while only the Comelec is authorized by law to fund recall elections, other government agencies could officially turn over such funds to the Comelec coffers for use in recall exercises.

Henson said Kambilan will not endorse any candidate in the special polls. “Anybody can run in such special elections. It’s a democratic exercise,” he said.

But he also said “no one can prevent Kambilan from later endorsing a candidate of its choice from among those who would opt to file their candidacies.”

At the same time, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, who had acted as spokesperson of the Kampi Party which fielded defeated gubernatorial candidate Lilia Pineda in last year’s gubernatorial elections, signed yesterday the recall petition in the presence of scores of dismissed employees of the provincial government in front of the capitol building here yesterday.

He denied reports that he was being groomed to run for governor against Panlilio. “I am not interested in being governor at this time.

I have a mandate to finish in my town and that’s where I belong,” he told local media.
Pelayo said he initially planned to steer away from controversies affecting Panlilio but decided to sign the petition after Panlilio hit the declaration of the Arnedo Park in front of the capitol as Freedom Park.


GMA releases P130 million for Vigan airport expansion

By Teddy Molina

VIGAN CITY – President Arroyo released P130 million last week paving the way for the start of construction work for the expansion of the Vigan airport to make it accessible to commercial and international flights, the office of Rep. Ronald Singson (lst district, Ilocos Sur) said last week.

Singson who had included the airport’s improvement among his priorities upon his election last year had earlier teamed up with Deputy Speaker Eric Singson (2nd district, Ilocos Sur) for the inclusion of P250 million in the national budget for the airport project.

The congressional fund initiative was made part of the 2008 budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications which was meant to be dispensed this year and next year.
With P130-million now released, the balance of P120-million will be due next year.

Local officials led by Ilocos Sur Gov. Deogracias Victor “DV” Savellano and Vigan Mayor Eva Medina said the airport was the key in bringing Ilocos Sur closer to the rest of the world and unlock the tourism, business, and trade potentials of the city and province.

In its present condition, however, only small planes and company-owned light aircraft are using it.

Rep. Ronald Singson’s father Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson had earlier envisioned the need to expand the airport during his term as governor to boost business and economic activities.

The former governor took note of Ilocos Sur’s proximity to China saying the province should prepare to be able to cash-in on the spill-over effect of the economic boom in the Chinese continent.

A former provincial board member, Ronald Singson said the airport project was urgent saying Vigan is a top location in the tourism world map chiefly due to its highly acknowledged community of centuries-old ancestral houses.

The well-preserved buildings that are still habitable had withstood the rigors of time earning for Vigan their inscription as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

“But international flights could not make it here,” he said, adding the “lost opportunity” would have otherwise benefited the city and his constituents in terms of income had Vigan been accessible to tourists by air.

Medina, Vice Mayor Francisco Ranches Jr. and local tourism councils joined hands with Chavit, Savellano, and Rep. Singson in looking for ways leading to the airport’s upgrading.

With the impending expansion of the airport, the first district congressman expects foreign visitors to come in droves perking up the sluggish growth in local tourism.

Savellano also cited the Vigan airport’s potential for increased trade and commerce with makers of the province’s noted products as beneficiaries.

Ilocos Sur’s furniture products, native food, and hand-woven fabrics topped the list of products sold during a regional trade festival held in Manila recently.



The Itogon landslide: A result of prolonged large mining operations

There is much for Benguet Corp. to account for in the horrendous disaster in Itogon that severely affected the lives of local residents from 80 households in the indigenous community of Beda, and in Antamok last Sept. 22. putting the blame solely on natural calamities like Typhoon Nina and small-scale mining as done by BC, while the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources are both lame and weak, when we know for a fact that BC’s socially and environmentally destructive large mining operations since 1903 is to answer for the disaster.

What happened in Itogon already happened in Colalo, Mankayan in July 1999, where Lepanto Mining operated the past 72 years in massive underground operations which softened and weakened Colalo grounds, such that any typhoon can aggravate a disaster waiting to happen.

The 14 miners trapped must be immediately rescued, because BC is accountable for this and to the families. Their effort to rescue is the least they can do and it must not cover up their responsibility and accountability in the whole disaster – the killings or loss of lives, the environmental disaster, displacement of the families and the demolished ili that will never be built again.

What future awaits the displaced families who have lost their loved ones, their home and ili? Is BC going to pay for the long term effects of its destructive operations? As do other mining companies, BC will resort to a media blitz of corporate responsibility through technical assistance to the victims. That however, is not a long term solution but a cover up of the real situation.

This is what happened in Itogon. The environment, the mountains should never have been disturbed in the first place. The mining disaster in Rapu-Rapu where Lafayette Mines operated since 2005 and in Marinduque, where Marcopper created the country’s largest mining disaster in 1996 prove that the Itogon landslide is not an isolated, naturally occurring incident.

There will always be environmental and social disasters in areas of large mining operations in the same manner that there will always be militarization and human rights violations also therein, as long as the government doesn’t address these properly.
We call on the National Commission on Indigenous People, Commission on Human Rights, including the municipal and provincial governments to look into the interest and welfare of the Itogon community – both those directly and indirectly affected.

The provincial government must decisively act to put a stop to such disasters, for environmental protection and socio-cultural preservation by placing a ban or moratorium to large mining operations in the province.

The historical injustice done to the Ibalois and Kankanaeys in Itogon as a result of development aggression – large and destructive mining, in particular must be corrected. The people of Itogon including those of other Cordillera provinces, especially those threatened by large and destructive mining operations and overlapping applications, must unite and resist the further plunder and destruction of the Cordillera homeland.

Benguet Corporation, including Philex and Lepanto must be accountable for the environmental and social damages they have caused in indigenous communities in Benguet. An independent investigation that will not again be another case of impunity must be urgently carried out.

Windel Bolinget
Secretary General
Cordillera People’s Alliance



Surface James Balao

It is a sad state of things that a kind and responsible non-government worker in the person of James Balao of the Cordillera People’s Alliance is missing, believed abducted by army intelligence officers.

A lot of people and organizations in the Cordillera where Balao worked are alarmed, indignant and are demanding from the government to produce Balao in person. It is a welcome development that even Amnesty International and the United Nations took notice of his disappearance and are now pressuring the government to conduct the necessary investigation and make him surface. Balao had no known enemies. A humble man, he didn’t drive a vehicle and wore simple clothes. He was not fond of parties and preferred the company of his peers.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance in a statement said they believe the surveillance and enforced disappearance of Balao was perpetrated by state security forces as a part of their operations under Oplan Bantay Laya, a policy of categorizing legal people's organizations and their staff and volunteers as “front organizations” and “supporters” of the of the CPP, National Democratic Front of the Philippines or the New People’s Army.

This policy, the CHRA said, has led to the surveillance, harassment and intimidation, abduction and killing of members and leaders of progressive people’s organizations all over the country like Balao.

The CHRA has urged the Philippine Government to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In Balao’s case, the Armed Forces of the Philippines could come up with a statement on the matter. According to cause oriented groups and members of the media, there were no staff at the headquarters of the army command in Camp Allen in Baguio after his disappearance was exposed in the media. The people are waiting for a statement from officials of the army command.

Meanwhile, we urge anybody who knows anything about Balao’s disappearance to report it to his family or to the Cordillera People’s Alliance by texting or calling 09184698849 or the CHRA at 09178836594.



Manny vs Hoya fight a mismatch?

I usually don’t want to write about matters of national interest much more sports since these are covered by the media of Imperial Manila but I felt couldn’t pass this e-mail saying Games and Amusement Board chairman Eric Buhain has asked the World Boxing Council to cancel the Dec. 6 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar dela Hoya because he believes the Filipino icon has no chance of pulling off a win.

He reportedly told congressmen his sentiment on the matter during a budget hearing last week. But sorry for him, the boxing council informed Buhain it was too late to scrap the match because the contract for it has already been signed.

Opposition Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City was also quoted as saying he supported the GAB appeal of the cancellation of the fight.

“I think Manny has no chance of winning. Dela Hoya, who is five inches taller and who is five inches longer in reach than our boxing idol, will kill the smaller and lighter Manny,” he said in the mail dispatch. “This boxing bout is just about money. Pacquiao has no chance. We have to protect him. He is a national treasure.”

The Pacquiao-Dela Hoya slugfest is projected to rake in at least $100 million in total revenues. Pacquiao is expected to share between $15 million and $20 million.
Rodriguez suggested to Buhain that if Pacquiao does not want to back out of his coming fight with Dela Hoya, the GAB should consider revoking his license now. “If he is deprived of his boxing license, he will have a legitimate reason to walk away,” he said. Buhain said his agency would consider Rodriguez’s suggestion. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I wonder about the real intention of Buhain and Rodriguez in wanting to stop the Pacquiao-De La Hoya bout. Doesn’t these two honorables have other things to do? The two boxers want the fight as millions of fans worldwide do. If they are that concerned about Pacquiao’s safety, maybe they could be assured that there is a referee who would stop the fight if Pacquiao would be badly mauled.
Anyhow during the hearing, Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel of the party-list group An Waray expressed his concern over the debacle suffered by the Philippine team at the recent Olympic Games in Beijing.

Noel, who watched the team perform in Beijing, said lawmakers should be willing to support Filipino athletes and their trainers with additional funds provided they do better in the next regional and world sports events.

“Their next events could be their last chance. Otherwise, they won’t be able to justify the expenditure of hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ money,” he told reporters. He also urged Philippine Sports Commission officials to do “house cleaning” and reject interference from some politicians in sports programs and events.
In the provinces, methinks there is a need to restructure the sports program of this Banana Republic. Why can’t we strive in sports where we can excel? Forget basketball, we are dwarfs as compared to non-Asians.

In the Cordillera, there are a lot of Igorots who could be trained in martial arts (owing to their body build and agile reflexes) like karate, taekwondo, wrestling, judo and yes – boxing. Remember Ifugao’s Gayamo in the not so recent past who made his opponent fly out of the ring with a single punch at the Baguio Convention Center?

Sad to say, as most boxers of this country, his career was mismanaged. In a fight in Japan, Gayamo was left with no aide much more to pull a chair for him after every round that his opponent’s aides did it for him since his promoter didn’t appear or pay for assistants.

This reflects the sad state of our nation’s sports program. There are simply no adequate funds allotted for the purpose that athletes have to shell out the money from their pockets for their training. The money usually goes to the pockets of you-know-who. In Baguio, it is good we have Dr. Charles Cheng who indulges in sports programs like boxing by personally financing the training, equipment and facilities of his wards.

There is another one who claims to be a sportsman but actually uses people to get funds for his benefit. This character was a former city government officials who now indulges in a game of chance to earn a living by sucking the money out of poor bettors.



Palin effect

When Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a lot of people wondered if Palin was qualified to become Vice President of the United States. Having been a mayor of a small Alaska town of 9,000 residents and governor of Alaska with a population of 700,000 for less than two years, was Palin ready to take over the presidency should anything happen to 72-year old McCain if he were elected president?

McCain was criticized -- particularly by the media -- for his choice of a seemingly inexperienced politician with no evident exposure to foreign policy or world affairs. But as soon as Palin was presented at the Republican National Convention last September 3, 2008, she became an overnight sensation.

Instantly, she boosted McCain's presidential stock and reenergized his campaign. McCain wouldn't go anywhere without Palin in tow. Palin -- who calls herself "pit bull with a lipstick" -- was very effective in getting the Republicans excited. In effect, Palin became McCain's ultimate "weapon of mass deception" which he needed to torpedo and derail the turbo-driven campaign of Barack Obama.

Palin was so effective that some people started making reference to the McCain/Palin ticket as the Palin/McCain ticket as if she was the one running for president, which in a sense she was. In his campaign rallies, McCain would make a short introductory pitch and then let Palin do the talking... and attacking. Enthusiastically, she would do the dirty job of smearing Obama for McCain. And McCain would just stand grandfatherly- like behind her, happy as a clam. It was a great script.

Within a week of the emergence of Palin from nowhere, McCain obliterated Obama's nine-point lead. In recent polls, McCain had surged ahead of Obama, thanks to the entry of a "super star" into his campaign. Indeed, the presidential campaign was beginning to look like a Palin vs. Obama contest.

Why not? Given McCain's age and health issues, Americans could be electing two Republican presidents in this election. But this could also cause the voters to take another hard look at the real Palin -- not the stunningly attractive and sweet-talking "hockey mom" that they're seeing in scripted appearances.

That first opportunity to see the real Sarah Palin came when she was interviewed by Charles Gibson on television. Gibson was selected in the belief that he would give Palin an easy pass. Wrong! Gibson seemingly knew Palin's weak and vulnerable areas. So when he asked Palin if she agreed with the "Bush Doctrine," she paused for a few seconds, breathed deeply as if she was going to perform a triple-somersault dive, and then asked, "In what respect, Charlie?" Gibson then asked her: "What do you interpret it to be?"

Dumbfounded and with eyes agog, Palin said, "His world view," which sounded more like a question. She then tried to wing it but it was one of those moments when you don't know the answer, it's better not to give an answer. However, to admit ignorance would have been more disastrous for a person seeking the vice presidency.

The second test came when Gibson asked her how Alaska's proximity to Russia would give her an "insight" into that country. Palin responded: "They're our next door neighbor and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." Now, is that the extent of Palin's foreign policy experience and world view?

Gibson's interview with Palin has put an indelible black mark on Palin's façade.

Consequently, tons of information surfaced when an army of media people and researchers descended on Alaska turning over every stone under the artic tundra to unearth the trail that Palin left behind before catapulting to the national scene. And lo and behold, there were enough damaging and disparaging information that painted Palin quite differently from her "star power" image.

Interviews with people and public officials revealed more about the "Troopergate" scandal in which Palin allegedly fired the Public Safety Commissioner when he refused her demand to fire Palin's former brother-in-law from his job as state trooper. Other scandals and anomalies involving Palin's public and personal life surfaced and inundated the media as well as the late-night shows.

She became staple for jokes by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and others. Sarah Palin cartoons and funny pictures mushroomed in the Internet. But the final test of Palin will come during her debate with her Democratic vice presidential rival Joe Biden on October 2. Their debate would be the defining moment for Palin. A mediocre performance could repel a lot of her supporters and put McCain's candidacy at risk.

Although McCain's selection of Palin momentarily boosted his candidacy, at the end of the day the American people will reserve their final judgment on which presidential candidate is best suited for the job. On November 4, 2008, the American people will troop to the polling booths to decide once and for all whether McCain or Obama should lead the nation -- and the world -- in the next four years or probably eight years.

And like every U.S. presidential election, there are two criteria that the voters would use to decide whom to vote for: Character and Leadership.

Palin and Biden would become incidental to the voters' choice for president. With less than six weeks left in the campaign, a lot of things could happen that could sway the Americans' preference for president, particularly at a time when the country is experiencing a financial meltdown which could be worse than the Great Depression 80 years ago. And whoever that person is, there are two things he or she must possessed: strong character and great leadership. (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)



Suffering as catalyst

There’s this line from William Bloyd I often quote: “There are places in the heart which do not yet exist, into which suffering enters to give them existence.”

A parody is in order: “There are places in the heart of a Baguio boy or girl, or that of a Cordilleran, which have been there ever since, always triggered to action by suffering back home.”

Numerous patients saw that in Freddie de Guzman, the expatriate Baguio boy in Canada who, for three years now, has been reaching out to the sick here. Recently, he lost his job. While waiting for the labor case he filed to proceed, this suddenly unemployed architect sent P11,000 for four patients here and in Benguet.

“Ganoon pala si Freddie,” Philian Weygan, the Igorota traveler told me after she returned from the BIBAK Festival of Cordillera expatriates in Southern California. She’s not referring to his losing hair and gaining a forehead that extends to the back. She must have met Freddie there but only learned who he really is when she came back and brushed up on local news through back issues of the weeklies.

Patients who found hope because of Freddie saw that, too, in an Ibaloi woman raising her daughter in Kentucky. Simultaneously with Freddie, she began reconnecting through patients here three years back – while se was recuperating from the big C. They saw that in another woman who left a check for P50,000 last February, when she was about to have her check-up for cancer.

They saw it in a nurse based in Connecticut. Princess Lea, as she calls herself on the internet chat room, practically bankrolled a heart surgery two years ago, so Santy John Tuyan, now 12, could go back to school.

Ten-year old Mark Anthony Viray, would see it when he realizes that the guy who treated him to pizza and ordered a giant one for the kid to bring home, also footed the bill for his first chemotherapy the other week.

Mark Anthony is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer he’s too young to grapple with. The boy dreams of flying an airplane when he grows up. . It’s a dream his father Ernesto, an off-and-on taxi and family driver, must have to keep reminding the kid, to steel him up for five more chemo treatments sessions that would depend on other Samaritans.

Traditional karate master Julian Chees would have also picked the tab for the Mark Anthony’s second chemo - if only there were no other patients as seriously ill. Julian was swamped with medical prescriptions of patients in Maligcong, his native village, and the capital town of Bontoc, when he and his family arrived from Germany to visit his ailing mother.

As graceful, precise and decisive in his rendition of the shotokan (knife-hand) form of his martial art that earned him various international titles and a world championship in kata, Julian immediately saw why 27-year old Veronica Lee-Casuga needs to have a new lease on life.

Veronica, daughter of the late Sunshine Lunch waiter George Lee, married Joefrey Casuga, her high school classmate, last January 30. Last Christmas, the young couple learned Veronica’s implanted kidney, which her aunt donated in 2002, had failed.

Last week, Veronica was back at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City where her first kidney transplant was done in 2002, thanks to the center’s board of trustees and then city Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

She and her brother Jimson, the would-be donor this time, were to start their work-up preparatory to the second implant. With them were their widowed mother Wella and Joefrey, who barely had a nap as he is on the night work shift at Moog Controls. Julian bankrolled their food, lodging and fuel costs. (In case others would like to take the cue from him, Veronica can be reached at cell phone number 09187073438.)

As I write, my buddy Peewee Agustin arrives, trying to cope with the fate of his 70-year old uncle Serino Andanan. The old man was wheeled into the Baguio General Hospital last Wednesday, comatose after a stroke. Peewee was told blood had clotted the brain.

I don’t know his uncle but I know Peewee. What he can’t whip out of his pocket, he makes up by transporting patients to and from Metro Manila. As he did for Veronica six years ago and last week. As he will when Veronica and Jimson return to St. Luke’s later this month.

Meanwhile, the shoe is on the other foot. It’s always easier to reach out to people you hardly know, Harder when the one in crisis is family who is aware you’ve been propping up strangers in need. In Peewee’s predicament, a stranger’s support came in handy. Early last week, banker Rolly de Guzman, the glorified teller of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., called. He said there’s again this anonymous donor unaffected by donor fatigue who had somebody drop at his desk P5,000 with the same advice – to whoever needed it most and no mention of where it came from.

From the anonymous Samaritan’s fund – his latest support to sick people he or she only reads about in the papers. – I handed Peewee P3,000. He wouldn’t have it but I insisted, to extricate myself from the predicament he was in.

Last Wednesday, another banker handed me P1,500. “It’s for the sick boy who wants to fly an airplane,” he said. Now, I’m California dreaming. From the Bay Area, Conrad Marzan and Joel Aliping called up to say they’ll belt out folk and country on Sept. 12, with proceeds from the concert for patients here. ( e-mail: for comments).



Igorot clan leader abducted; journalist illegally detained

Has Martial Rule been re-declared – or has it come back without the need for any declaration?
A few days before the observance of the 22nd anniversary of Ninoy’s assassination, the human rights of two private individuals begun to be violated in separate incidents, allegedly by police and military elements, respectively.

Here are their stories. In the morning of Sept. 17, James Balao, 47, was abducted while on his way to his family home in La Trinidad, Benguet from his residence at Fairview Barangay, Baguio City .

He is a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and president of the OCLUPAN Clan Association, an indigenous organization of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes of Benguet.
James had earlier texted his family at around 6:45 in the morning of that day, informing them that he was going home. They said he never reached home and has not been in contact with his family or friends since, nor have they been able to contact him.

In a letter of appeal and urgent call that sought for his re-appearance, the Balao family together with the CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance said, the surveillance and enforced disappearance of James was perpetrated by state security forces as part of their operations under Oplan Bantay Laya.” They believed the alleged perpetrators were unidentified elements of the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU) of the AFP.

The peoples’ organizations also took note of information by reliable sources that James was “listed in the AFP dossier as the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.”

If indeed the military dossier identified James as such, they apparently have done so to justify their acts of purging the membership of organizations perceived by them as “enemies of the state.”

Oplan Bantay Laya has categorized legal people's organizations and their staff and volunteers as "front organizations and supporters" of the of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) or the New People's Army (NPA).

For example, lawyer and former city councilor Joe Molintas has been the secretary-general of the CPA for quite a time – does that also justify his being branded as a “communist supporter?”
The same policy has led to the surveillance, harassment and intimidation, abduction and killing of members and leaders of progressive people's organizations all over the country. Doesn’t that appear like an orchestrated scenario by the military in their bid to rid society of their so-called enemies? It is time Congress revisits Oplan Bantay Laya.

James is the second victim of enforced disappearance in the CPA since the abduction of Ama Daniel Ngayaan in 1987. After him, hundreds more became victims of orchestrated abductions. To date, Jonas Burgos, son of the late Joe Burgos of Malaya publications, is nowhere to be found.

James had already reported seeing regular surveillance on him and his family since the first week of June this year. The frequency of the surveillance van heightened until his disappearance last week. He had told friends and relatives that he often observed white and blue vans that tailed him from his residence to his daily chores.

The letter of appeal for support and urgent alert call by the Balao family and the private organizations were sent to government authorities, other concerned offices and friends. These were also posted in the internet together with an online petition that may be signed by supporters at to be sent to the proper government agencies.

James is an old friend, a former “glassmate” during our younger years and so are his brother Winston, his sisters and cousins. Hence, through this column, your assistance and response to this urgent action alert is being sought.

Please send letters, emails or fax messages calling for the immediate surfacing and release of James Balao; for the authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police, to agressively assist the Balao family, the CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Aliance in their search for James.

Let us ask for the immediate termination of Oplan Bantay Laya which has labeled legal progressive organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance as "sectoral fronts" of the Communist Party of the Philippines , National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army.

Let us urge our government to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Another violation of human rights occurred a day after James Balao’s abduction. In the evening of Sept. 18, Cesar Reyes, 49, a photojournalist – news correspondent of the Journal Publications figured in a traffic altercation after he accidentally sideswiped a taxicab along Session road sometime past 10pm.

A recent migrant to Baguio (dayo) whose wife is from here, and fearing that taxi drivers who gathered around might gang up on him, he drew his licensed 380 magazine type pistol – a natural reaction if one’s life and limb is threatened and perceived to be in danger. Journalists and bystanders who witnessed the incident said Cesar never pointed the gun to anyone.

Policemen were called in to make the necessary reports of the incident. Apparently in the course of the investigation conducted by the police that time, justice had only one eye blindfolded.

To make the long story short, the license and permit of Cesar’s gun was not submitted to the fiscal in charge as part of the evidence. The reason for that is known only to the investigating police officers.

Cesar Reyes said, aside from paying P2000 for the damages of the taxicab, he even received verbal abuse from Cesar Abrigo, the taxi operator and his companions, even while he was already being investigated by the police.

He was told at the police office that he will soon go home and get his belongings after settlement with Abrigo. But that did not happen as he was brought back and forth from the police office atop Session road to the main police office.

Cesar spent the night and the next day in the hands of policemen who never informed him that an inquest was filed at the fiscal’s office, so that he was not able to call for lawyer’s assistance. He was illegally detained for almost 18 hours before he was formally taken as a prisoner the following day Friday at around 5pm. Cesar was out of jail after paying for his bail on Monday.

Sure as the wind blows, Cesar’s irregular filing of a case against him by his police investigators who tampered and withheld evidences, and the abduction of James Balao by security forces of the state are very clear violations of their rights. Things have become worse under Gloria’s watch. If it is not her fault, then those responsible must be sacked. –



Nowhere to turn to for media in distress

When people get oppressed by public officials, they run to the media, but when a media personnel gets oppressed, they have to fend for themselves.

The mass media is often the last recourse to find justice. They are seen as fulfilling the vitally important role of the Fourth Estate being the guardians of democracy and defenders of the public interest. Unfortunately, they could hardly defend their own rights when under siege.
Cesar Reyes, a silent bespectacled photojournalist in his near 50’s found himself helpless at the hands of some Baguio taxi drivers and police. Reyes had to sleep at the city jail over the weekend because of a simple traffic accident.

Last Thursday evening, Reyes with his Lite Ace van parked along Luisa’s café was about to move forward to the main road when he slightly bumped the side of a mobile taxi. At that time, the whole stretch from Mercury Drug up Session Road was occupied by a long line of double parked taxicabs.

The driver of taxi “Edrin & Dave”, Jaime Caccam, alit from the taxi and confronted Reyes while calling for other drivers including taxi operator Carlos Abrigo. Around four men confronted and verbally abused Reyes. He was pushed until the side of PNB building forcing the photojournalist to draw his gun to ward off the four drivers.

When police came, Reyes following normal procedures gave his gun, license and permit to carry then settled to pay P2,000 for the slight dent of the taxi. He thought he will go home to his family but it did not stop there.

He was brought to the police outpost atop Sssion Rad. Accordingly for a long time, complainant Abrigo had a lengthy closed door talk with the outpost commander. The following day, Friday, he was moved to precinct 7 then back and fourth until he was told that a case has been filed for grave threats and illegal possession of firearms.

Because could not post bail since there was no office hour, he was made to sleep at the City Jail the same way as ordinary criminals until he posted bail Monday for grave threats because his gun license proved genuine.

The facts clearly show no abuse in media privilege if ever there is one. Besides, the victim of harassment is a silent and peaceful person. Be it harassment or plain stupidity by police handlers, the manner how the case was handled and how a mediaman was treated despite introducing himself as a public person is something that local Baguio journalists can not stomach.

It has affected the good public service relations of the local police and media personalities here because of the simple idea that if this could happen to a newsman, them how much more to an ordinary citizens?

It was good the Baguio Correspondents and Braadcaster’s Club and the BCPO Press Club showed support to Reyes as a journalist even if he is not yet formally inducted to the Club. Reyes is a photographer of national tabloid People’s Tonight. He followed his family in Baguio.

Several lawyers manifested support including Human Rights lawyer Rene Cortez and media friend lawyer Edgar Avila. Councilor Richard Carino representing Reyes pro bono said charges will be filed against the arresting officers. The lawyers said Reyes was detained more than 18 hours without a formal charge and was framed up with charges.

I do not know also the values of this taxi operator who received the P2,000 settlement money but still pursued the case of grave threats to the person they harassed. But we still leave the benefit of the doubt for Police Community relations officer Viyo Hidalgo , City Director Wilfredo Franco, and PRO-Cor Regional Director Eugene Martin. Perhaps some of their men involved in the case are not telling the whole truth.



Barangay bingo and landslides

The Bureau of Food and Drugs now bans the importation selling and trading of milk products that are suspected of having melamin contents. The departments of Health and Trade and Industry followed suit after plenty of Chinese children died or hospitalized upon drinking the contaminated china milk products.

This only proves that nothing is better and safer than breastfeeding. But who can assure that other milk products are safe? If I for one who is a milk drinker chooses the safest one, then I would prefer breast milk coming from cow milk or human milk. But the point is, will there be any volunteer who would give me breast milk?

And if there would be, am I assured that cops will not apprehend us for committing public scandal? Well, if that would be an exemption, I could just imagine my friends shifting to breast milk. Hahah!
It was again another “Kapalpakan” for Baguio authorities to suspend classes in elementary and high school levels on Sept. 22 when the weather was good and sunny but failed to issue any advisory morning of Sept. 21 when typoon “Nina” started to hit hard this city.

As a result, lot of students who trooped and attended their classes were soaked and sent home in the afternoon. I watched these students walking on their way home dripping wet. I guess their parents were worried and could only mumble angrily while attending to their children.

I hope our authorities would wake up and learn a lot from their shortcomings, after all May pag-asa naman siguro ang pag-asa, hindi ko lang alam sa mga ibang opisyal. Hoy, Gising!
I could not help but wonder why the association of the Barangay councils in Baguio City could not be specific in their board resolution withdrawing their support of the controversial fund raising Bingo sa Barangay.

The fact that they allow barangays to conduct their own Bingo sa Barangay through barangay resolutions only shows that the ABC is only withdrawing support and not the authority and the position to declare it as an illegal, activity meaning, the board resolution is just a plain white elephant paper or otherwise moot and academic.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the position of the board in publicly denouncing all forms of illegal gambling like jueteng, But it is more appropriate to clean their own backyard first before others -- that is to totally stop the bingo sa barangay once and for all. Hindi ba apo Joel Alangsab at Eva Fianza?
Three people were reported dead because of a landslide in Baguio due to Typhoon Nina. The same that several landslides also happened at Itogon, Benguet where 14 miners where trapped inside a tunnel and efforts to rescue them are still unsuccessful as I am writing this column.

Residents at Itogon are now blaming the ongoing mining activity in their area as cause of the landslide, but Benguet Corp. was quick to deny this. There is also a clamor that the mining firm where the 14 miners were trapped should also be investigated to see if it has a mining firm has a permit.

It is also interesting to know if the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources has any role to play here, but just the same, expect finger pointing and washing of hands by persons involved in these tragedies.
Department of Transportation and Communication Cordillera regional director Federico “Bong” Mandapat Jr. should start imposing disciplinary sanction against erring public utility drivers particularly some drivers of Partas Bus lines and public jeepneys playing the Scout Barrio route.

My bubwit reported that he personally witnessed a road accident along Harrison Road in Baguio involving a jeep with Scout Barrio route and its driver who was apparently under the influence of liquor.

Not too long ago another jeep with the same route was involved in a vehicular accident also at Harrison wherein the driver was found driving under the influence of liquor.

Last Wednesday, my bubwit again witnessed a Partas Bus line with plate number ABZ 998 as it overtook recklessly a small taxi along the intersection of Lourdes Dominican and Naguillian Road. It was good the taxi was able to swerve immediately to the left side otherwise it could have been hit badly by the speeding bus.

Attention, Manong Bong, I know you don’t tolerate these undisciplined drivers to go on driving freely on our streets. Please them a bit of whipping.



Edison L. Baddal
Doomed MOA (2)

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Then and now, Muslims have always been suspicious of non-Muslims given their harsh experience with the colonials. To make matters worse, as Muslims were never subjugated up to now, they were alienated and discriminated from colonial times up to now. This situation runs parallel with the experience of the Igorots who are constantly at the receiving end of the discriminatory and haughty attitude of lowlanders.

Just like the Muslims, the Igorots, who were never subdued by the Spaniards and only pacified by the Americans, are perpetually sniffled and regarded with contempt by the lowlanders since Spanish times. Where Spaniards branded the Muslims of Mindanao as Moros, they branded the Igorots as savages, uncouth and ignorant.

Currently, this recalcitrant attitude is reflected in the actuations of Muslims towards the rest of the Filipinos, notably their Christian brothers, and is radiated towards the government itself which they generally regard as a foreign form of government whose principles and ideals are unfamiliar to them. In fact, the paranoid feeling of discrimination accorded the Muslims due to their Koran-based religion and culture by Christian Filipinos, is the main reason why the Muslim Islamic Liberation Front broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front when the latter forged a peace deal with the Ramos government in 1996 in order to continue the rebellion.

Secondly, the very idea of ancestral domain in MILF territory maybe vague to the Muslim rebels as it is perceived a contradiction to their aspiration of an independent homeland its inherent vestiges of control by the GRP. It is this corner’s conception that the MILF’s aspiration for an independent homeland should be devoid of any scintilla of political sovereignty from Imperial Manila no more no less. Hence, it is to be supposed that the grant of home rule, as intended in the failed MOA, is regarded as an anathema to their cherished aspiration of a completely independent Mindanao for the Muslims.

Thirdly, the type of Mindanao that they envisioned is one where they can live under a theocratic form of government anchored on the principles and ideals spelled out in the Koran. It is a type of government patterned after the theocratic-autocratic governments of the middle eastern Arab countries whose government are based on the principles laid down by the Koran.
It goes without saying that Koran is by all means the end- all and be- all of Muslim life. Most probably, this is the very reason why they refuse to recognize the authority of the GRP and also the Philippine constitution as the fundamental law of the land as it is only the Koran that they recognize as a law.

Hence, they perpetually chafe under the weight of a Christian government, which is at the most an infidel government for them, whose principles and ideals are contrary to Koranic principles and ideals. In effect, laws and regulations enunciated every now and then by the GRP are like eddying pools of water moving against the main currents of Islam, governed by the precepts of the Koran.

With the scuttling of the MOA, the ball is now in GRP’s hands to initiate confidence-building measures to force the MILF leadership to trudge back the path of peace. The GRP should be able to coax back the MILF peace panel to the negotiating table. But it should seriously consider the deeply religious and cultural roots of the conflict.

It cannot be denied that the roots of the Muslim rebellion is basically religious and cultural. At this point, the only advisable way for the GRP to effect a renegotiation of the peace process with the MILF is to neutralize the MILF renegade groups. When that happens, it will be able to steer the peace process on its own terms from a position of strength unless it is willing to have the territorial integrity of the country divided.

In the history of peace agreements, armistice and truce at various periods anytime anywhere, the dynamics of a peace process is anchored on mutual trust and confidence.. These moral forces having been vitiated presently between the GRP and the MILF due to violence, it will take a humongous effort for such to be restored on both sides.

But as territorial integrity is effectively sustained through politico-military superiority, it is incumbent on the GRP to show that it has the upper hand. Truly, the path to peace is arduous, winding, circuitous and treacherous but its dividends is worthwhile and priceless as far as achieving development in all its dimensions is concerned.


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