NPA, political rivals eyed in Cagayan mayor's ambush slay

>> Sunday, December 14, 2008

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – The communist New People’s Army and political rivals are being eyed as one of those possibly responsible in the Dec. 3 killing of Rizal town in the province.

Police said they are not discounting the angle that the rebels were behind the killing of Mayor Raul de la Cruz owing to the manner in which the ambush was executed and firearms used by assailants.

The NPA has yet to confirm or deny responsibility for the slay, which also led to the death of the mayor’s three aides – Roman Gundan Jr., Jomar Baluran and Federico Canay Jr. and the wounding of four other security personnel.

Chief Supt. Roberto Damian, Cagayan Valley police director, said it was likely that the NPA or political rivals were behind the killing of the 61-year old mayor based on the description of the attack.

“(Mayor De la Cruz was) a very colorful fellow. As mayor, he created many enemies, some of them politicians, the (New People’s Army) and some of them harboring personal grudges. This makes it difficult to conclude who was responsible for his slay,” he said.

De la Cruz, who sustained gunshot wounds on the head and body, died shortly after some 20 suspects, armed with high powered firearms, including an M203 grenade launcher and AK-47 assault rifle, fired at the municipal mini-bus where he and seven aides were riding along the Tuguegarao City-Piat road in Solana town around 10 p.m. that day.

Besides the rebels, Damian said they are also considering politics or personal motives as behind the killing of the mayor and his aides, all set to go to Manila to attend a Christmas program when the incident took place.

De la Cruz’s colleagues denounced the incident, saying justice is not served putting the law into one’s hands.

“(We) condemn the killing of Mayor De la Cruz because if ever he had (committed) any (crimes or misdemeanors), we still have a justice system or court where he could have been made to answer for what he had done,” said Mayor Meynard Carag of Solana town.

In June, two of the mayor’s aides and a nephew, and three others were linked in the killing of 51-year-old retired Constabulary sergeant Elmer Baligod, reportedly a supporter of the mayor’s political rival last elections. -- CL


17 fishers rescued, 3 drown off Pangasinan towns’ coast

By Freddie Lazaro

SUAL, Pangasinan -- Rescue teams recovered bodies of five persons who drowned Dec. 9 off the coast of this town even as 17 fishers were rescued at sea in Bolinao town, also in the province.

The five victims were swimming at a shallow portion of the beach off the coast of Barangay Aloleng in nearby Agno town when strong waves carried them out to the open sea.

PO1 Elisa Gacusan of the Agno police told newsmen rescue teams from the police and the Philippine Coast Guard recovered the bodies of Rose Ann Mapala, 18, Vanessa Orania, 13, Charles John Orania, 11, Danzel Mae Manikan, 12, Glamore Rivera, 14, all residents of Barangay Tuque Grande of Bani town.

Lone survivor Oliver Rivera, 10, was rescued and was treated by Dr. Joseph Lopez, the municipal health officer of Agno.

Rescue teams recovered the bodies of Orania and Mapala Saturday while the other fatalities were found the next day.

Probers said the older companions of the victims were left at the beach resort.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard reported a passing vessel rescued the two fishermen Victor Caasi and Nathaniel Rocaberte when their fishing boat capsized near Bolinao Island in Pangasinan Saturday afternoon.

One of their companions Elloc Irindio remained missing.

The M/V Indamex Godavari was passing by Bolinao

In Bolinao, 17 fishermen were rescued Dec. 6 by lawmen off the shores here. But three other fishermen were still missing.

The 20 fishermen went fishing in the South China Sea Dec. 3 on board six motorized bancas but they encountered giant waves, causing their bancas to capsize.

SPO4 Henson Calicdan, deputy chief of police of Bolinao, identified the recued fishermen as Joel Dulay, 39; Romeo Inocensio,38; Macario Camat, Joseph Basay, Joel Tresenio, 30; Ricardo Carino, 40; Alejandro Caranza,38;Danny Dagup, Manolo Mapili,Lando Eleazar; Alias Tito, Juan Gatchalian, Rustom Torejas, Pedro Cabana, Rey Hugo,32; JC Anbenisa and Benjamin Bagorio, all residents of Bolinao.

Calicdan identified the missing fishermen, who were on board MBMagdalena as Victor Caasi, 45, Ces Cardeo, and Daniel Cavite.


Body of Igorot actor Cielo brought to MP home town

BAUKO, Mountain Province — The remains of Igorot actor Marky Cadaweng Cielo arrived at Sinto in this town, his hometown, early morning on Dec. 11.

Earlier, Cielo’s body was brought to the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Baguio City for at least 15 hours after its arrival of the body from Metro Manila Wednesday morning.

The remains of Cielo, single, drew people here from all walks of life who wanted to have a glimpse of the body and pay their final respect to the young actor.

Government and private sector employees, students, elders, and housewives flocked to the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Baguio and in his hometown to see his remains.

As of press time, the burial of the actor had yet to be scheduled because his relatives were still awaiting the arrival of his aunt from the United States.

People, who were here to see the remains, said it was unfortunate for the actor who was a pride of the Cordillerans to die at an early age.

While some of them were not fans of Cielo, they came to know him for the honor he had given to the Igorots when he admitted during the "Star Struck" contest that he was proud to be an Igorot.

Cordillerans were also saddened by the fact he died at the peak of his career. Nevertheless, people said they were happy because he had brought honor and pride to Igorots.

Cielo’s relatives expressed gratitude to the people who extended their condolences and took time to visit his wake.

Mildred Cadaweng, Marky’s mother, apologized for the family’s decision to bar the public from taking close-up pictures at the wake and thanked them for their understanding.

She said they wanted to remember and see him always smiling and cheerful and they did not want to see him in a sad mood.

Marky grew up with his grandparents in this town together with his sister Maricel. He finished his primary school in this town and high school at the San Isidro High School in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet.

He was studying at the Saint Louis University in Baguio when he joined the talent search for "Star Struck." -- Dexter See


Rice mill anomaly: Ex-Ilocos mayor convicted of graft

BACARRA, Ilocos Norte -- The Sandiganbayan has convicted a former mayor of this town for graft over an anomalous rice mill project during his term nine years ago.

The anti-graft court’s third division sentenced former mayor Pacifico Velasco to a jail term of up to eight years and perpetually disqualified him from holding public office.

This, after he was found guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) when he granted the P3.3-million project to a cooperative that he partly owned.

In a nine-page decision promulgated Dec. 10, the Sandiganbayan ruled Velasco “gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Zanjera Cooperative because he had shares in the said cooperative and that his son, Michael Velasco, was appointed manager thereto.”

It said Velasco’s move also showed “manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence” that had caused undue injury to the government.

Out of 32 consumer cooperatives registered in Bacarra town, it said Velasco “singled out” the Zanjera Cooperative “to administer, manage and operate the multi-pass rice mill” on October 1999.

The Sandiganbayan also found out that the required ordinance or resolution from the municipal council of Bacarra prior to the purchase of the rice mill was absent.

During the trial, Velasco admitted that he was a member of the Zanjera Cooperative.

But he said he believed there was no need to secure a municipal council resolution in granting the operations and management of the rice mill to the cooperative since no transfer of funds was involved.

But the anti-graft court said Velasco “failed to comply with the basic rules of governance embodied in the Local Government Code. As local executive, accused Velasco ought to know the law and he was duty-bound to obey the same.”

The defense presented as witness Maximo Agustin Jr., chairman of the board of Zanjera, who only affirmed that Velasco was among the incorporators of the cooperative and that his son Michael had been its manager since July 1998.

It was learned during the trial that Velasco owned 520 shares in the cooperative.

The prosecution, led by prosecutor Mario Quinit, presented as witnesses former vice mayor Philip Velasco, Zanjera officer Ardelino Galicinao, Commission on Audit regional director for Ilocos Norte Alejandro Que, and municipal accountant Lydia Mann.

The former vice mayor, a nephew of the accused, was gunned down in May last year. -- EP


Isabela mayor's b’gay affairs aide shot dead

By Joan Capuna

RAMON, Isabela – A senior aide of the mayor here was shot dead while on his way home from work night of Dec. 9.

Police said victim, Freddie Manuel, a former three-term chairman of Barangay Pabel here and erstwhile head of the Liga ng mga Barangay, was executive assistant for barangay affairs of Ramon Mayor Wilfredo Tabag.

Senior Ins. Rogelio Taliping, Ramon police chief, said Manuel was on his way home aboard a service vehicle when one of two motorcycle-riding men shot him in the head.

Tabag ruled out politics in Manuel’s killing, saying the victim earlier told him he had received death threats from someone who had a personal grudge against him.

Tabag didn’t say if Manuel told him the identity of the person with the grudge.

This is the third killing of an incumbent or former barangay official in Cagayan Valley since last month.

At least 12 village chiefs have been killed throughout the region in less than two years.


Sandigan junks case vs Ifugao ex-mayor

By Dexter See

AGUINALDO, Ifugao -- The Sandiganbayan junked two cases of malversation of public funds filed against a former mayor of this town and the municipal treasurer.

The cases were filed by the incumbent mayor Delfin Bullan. In a decision written by Associate Justice Edilberto Sandoval, the municipal officials who were cleared of the two accounts of malversation charges were identified as former Aguinaldo mayor Federico Juguilad Jr. and municipal treasurer Medardo Marquez.

Bullan and members of the municipal council filed the cases against the two officials for their alleged involvement in the supposed loss of at least P2,798,791.63.

A municipal resolution on the cases was forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman in August 1999.

The Ombudsman found merit in the cases and subsequently recommended the filing of the charges against the two officials in 2001.

The charges arose from a report received by Bullan from the Commission on Audit and dated Jan. 25,1999.

This was received almost a year after he unseated Juguiad in the 1998 elections


Solon wants Marcos bust repaired to show respect for late prexy

BAGUIO CITY – The congressman of this lone district, while admitting he is not a Marcos loyalist, said Filipinos should accept the fact that the former strongman did a lot of good things that must be treasured by the people.

To show appreciation, Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan said government agencies must work for immediate rehabilitation of the damaged bust of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos located in Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet to serve as another tourist attraction in the Cordillera and to appreciate his good deeds during his administration.

His intention, he said, is to show respect to the former ruler who had undeniably done many good things for the country.

"Let us try to adopt the good deeds of former leaders, learn from their mistakes, and see to it that these will not be repeated again," Domogan said.

The Baguio lawmaker said what is happening in the country today in the event of change of administration is that all programs and projects of the outgoing leader, even if these are good for the people, are scrapped and changed by his or her successor.

Because of this system, he said, there is no continuity in the implementation of good programs and projects, and as a result, the interest of the people is compromised in favor of the interest of cronies or dummies.

He said it is high time for the Filipinos to become politically mature so that development could flourish in the rural areas and poor people would be given a decent sources of livelihood.

What is disgusting about Philippine politics, Domogan said, is that "we are sore losers and use our loss as a vehicle to attack personally the ones who prevailed in a political exercise."

Domogan said this unhealthy political situation in the country is jeopardizing the efforts of national and local leaders to institute reforms that could bring the country to greater heights.

He criticized the opposition for being a fault finder.

Domogan said instead of collaborating with the administration in the efforts to come out with realistic government programs for the benefit of the people, the opposition is creating unrest and anxiety. – Dexter A See



Transfer of gov’t functions to regional offices sought to boost autonomy drive
By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — The transfer of some functions of different national government agencies to their regional offices in the Cordillera could boost renewed pursuit for regional autonomy.

This was the contention of Juan Ngalob, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority in the Cordillera and interim chairman of the Regional Development Council.

He said the decentralization of the functions of national government agencies is one way to show to the people how genuine autonomy works to the advantage of the region.

Ngalob said cooperation of national government agencies in the efforts to implement this strategy is an important move that could convince Cordillerans that self-governance is far better than the present setup in which the region has to struggle to secure the approval by the central office of even simple matters.

The RDC has formulated a three-point work plan to revitalize the renewed pursuit for Cordillera autonomy after a survey showed that 66 percent of the people in the region are not fully aware of the constitutional provision on the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera.

The plan calls for information and education campaign, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects before the conduct of a tracking survey in 2010. This would determine the pulse of the people on the sensitive autonomy issue.

Ngalob said that Cordillerans are wise in making decisions, and so it is important for top government management to transfer some functions to the regional offices in the Cordillera.

This would serve as an example on how genuine autonomy works to the advantage of the region in terms of efficient, effective, and timely actions on pressing matters.

Meanwhile, Ben Tumamao, regional director of the Department of Education in the Cordillera, reported that Education Secretary Jesli Lapus is supportive of transferring some of the functions of the central office relative to administrative and operational procedures in the agency.

This would make the teachers, who were strong advocates against autonomy in the past, experience how autonomy operates.

This could erase the perception that the region’s autonomy model is that of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where thousands of teachers could not avail themselves of loans from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). This was reportedly due to the failure of the regional government to remit the payment for their premiums.



DENR to open 16,700 ‘emergency jobs’ in Cagayan, Cordillera

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is tapping students, out-of-school youths and poor upland farmers in its land distribution and forest protection efforts, as it opens more than 16,700 “emergency” jobs in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said the hiring of youths and farmers in the two regions “is in response to a directive of President Arroyo, tasking her Cabinet to carry out emergency employment projects for the remainder of the year.”

“We thought it best that our workforce in the reforestation and forest protection effort and land distribution is augmented with the additional manpower given the pivotal role of these activities in the overall thrust of President Arroyo’s program on poverty alleviation,” he said.

Atienza said P116.7 million has been set aside for the emergency work program, which will be implemented up to January next year.

He said some P100 million would be used to mobilize 15,644 residents of upland communities to reforest their respective areas with fruit trees while growing cash crops.

The project would cover a total of 9,876 hectares – 7,650 hectares in CAR and the rest in Region 2.

On the other hand, Atienza said P16.7 million would be used to pay 1,041 out-of-school youths who would be hired as forest guards (843) and land survey workers (198).

At present, the DENR said Region 2 and Cordillera have only 361 and 292 regular forest guards, respectively, watching over some 995,000 hectares of forestlands in 76 towns.

The emergency forest guards are expected to be deployed in three illegal logging hot spots in Region 2 – San Mariano in Isabela, Sta. Ana in Cagayan, and Nagtipunan in Quirino – and in three “priority” areas in CAR, particularly along the boundary of the three provinces linked by Mt. Pulag and Mt. Data, in the mountainous towns of Kabayan and Baguias in Benguet, Tinoc in Ifugao, and Buako in Mt. Province. -- KA



Erosions damage river banks, coasts in Vigan; execs alarmed
By Mar T. Supnad

VIGAN CITY – Major erosions have damaged river banks and coastal areas here alarming local officials here headed by Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina to start mitigating measures.

In its coastal zone management program, Vigan which has four rivers that serve as main natural drainage network for Metro Vigan and surrounding areas, a comprehensive environment program had been launched .

The Mestizo, Pantay and the Govantes rivers have been subject to considerable siltation programs in recent years.

The Abra River, on the other hand, was observed to have had increased flow as deforestation increased run-off.

Sources said the color of the sea during the rainy season turns khaki from the sediment load of the Abra River discharge, indicating possible illegal logging operations along its high mountains.

Medina said Vigan has two kilometers of open coast that is predominantly sand with a gentle slope into the sea.

The coast, however is prone to strong waves and wind action particularly during storms and typhoons. In recent years, the beach has seen significant and rapid erosion.

In its report, the most significant issue in the coastal zone has been rapid shoreline erosion.

Vigan has reportedly lost 1.4 km of its coastal area submerged into the sea. Reports of lost fishing villages, fish farms, estates and coconut plantations were described by many fisher folk as alarming.

Some have described shoreline erosion as the most significant environmental problems besetting the coastal barangays of St Pedro, Mindoro and Pantay Laud. These are the possible indications:

First, a rise in sea levels may be increasing erosion on all vulnerable coast lines on the South China Sea. Reports from Vietnam indicate that country may be suffering from similar problems of coastal zone erosion during major storms and typhoons. In fact, a major collapse of a dyke in Nam Dinh province in 2006 was attributed at least in part to sea level rise.
Second, according to the report, increased flow rates in the Abra River located west of Vigan’s municipal boundaries may have increased inshore turbulence as fresh water meets the relatively strong currents of the South China Sea.

Increased turbulence could be scouring sand opening the littoral zone to increased wave action, the report said.

Third, a report prepared for the municipality of Santa Catalina for its recently constructed breakwall alluded to both shoreline erosion and growth as part of a natural cycle

Vigan was established prior to the Spanish arrival in the late 1500’s on an island adjacent to the Abra River on the South China Sea.

In addition to the Abra River, the city is bordered by the Govantes on the northern boundary, the Pantay and the Mestizo on the southern boundary.



Benguet gets P223 M for nat’l roads’ rehab
By Dexter A See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet —The national government has allotted P223 million in next year’s P1.4-trillion national budget for the upgrading and rehabilitation of four secondary national roads in this vegetable-producing province.

This was reported here by Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa who said the funds will be made available next year.

Out of the P223 million, P110 million will be used for the rehabilitation of the Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan-Bakun Road; P53 million for the improvement of the Gorel-Bokod-Kabayan-Abatan Road; P30 million for the upgrading of the Itogon-Dalupirip Road; and another P30 million for the rehabilitation of the Baguio-Mount Sto. Tomas Road.

Aside from the funds set aside from the budget, Benguet has also other road projects costing P673 million.

These include the rehabilitation of the Abatan-Mankayan-Cervantes Road which is funded with a loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Dangwa said he lobbied for the allotment of the P223 million in the national budget even if some agencies opposed it because of the presence of the foreign-assisted projects in his district.

He said this was not done in the case of other provinces.

If a congressional district has a foreign-assisted project, the Department of Public Works and Highways does not allow allocation of additional funds for other national road projects.

But Dangwa said the policy is applied on "selective basis" because it is not applied to all provinces or cities.

He said he had worked hard for the allocation of the funds for the improvement of the "almost forgotten" secondary national roads in the province.

The completed foreign-assisted projects in Benguet include the P1.2-billion rehabilitation of the Marcos Highway, the P1.6-billion rehabilitation of the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya Road, the P680-million upgrading of Naguilian Road, the P1.4-billion rehabilitation of Halsema Highway, particularly the stretch from this capital town to Mount Data, Bauko, Mountain Province with a length of at least 88 kilometers.

Dangwa said Benguet needs more funds for the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads and bridges to help boost the agriculture industry.

This is expected to result in lower expenses for transportation due to improved accessibility.

He said once farmers reduce their expenses due to improved transportation, the prices of highland vegetables would be lower. “Consequently, locally produced vegetables can effectively compete with cheap imported vegetables,” he added.



There's goldmine in ulang, says expert

DAGUPAN CITY – A fishery expert here said there is an unexplored goldmine in the prawn species locally called ulang that growers must pay attention to as it will bring economic fortune to them when tapped.

Dr. Westly Rosario, interim executive director of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, said in other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, prawn growers who are into the culture of freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii or ulang in the Philippines, are profiting by leaps and bounds.

He added restaurants in these areas have made this M. rosenbergii among their top attractions by selling them live.

“But sadly, in the Philippines where it abounds, the number of those into its culture remains insignificant,” Rosario said.

He added “very, very few tried, you can even count in your fingers.”

Rosario said he is wondering why this happens when it is considered a high-value species, selling about P250 per kilogram.

He added that aquaculture growers are only focused on bangus and tilapia “but it is high time to diversify.”

In fact, he said, they have collaborated with Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in Indonesia and Thailand representatives who said the Philippines could have the best strain of M. rosenbergii, thus the country could have the best breeders.

“It’s like a gold mine that is not explored. It’s here in our country but we don’t pay attention to it,” Rosario said.

Thus, Rosario said they would want to know why such thing happen and they want to harmonize inputs to come up with a road map to develop this sleeping industry.

Through the collaborative efforts of the NFRDI, National Institute for Fisheries Technology Development Center and the Asian Fisheries Academy, to help fish growers uncover this hidden fishery wealth, the first national summit on hatchery and culture of freshwater prawn will be held on Dec. 10-11 at the AFA inside the sprawling compound of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources center in Barangay Bonuan Binloc here.

While they have made efforts here about five years ago and another fishgrower did the same in Mangaldan town and in Aguilar town, no one else in Pangasinan engaged in it. There is also someone from Muñoz, Nueva Ecija who tried it, he said.
Through the summit, Rosario said they would like to see the state of the ulang industry as there is no benchmark yet in the country. -- EV



Kalinga town geothermal energy project launched

PASIL, Kalinga - With the issuance of the Certificate of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by the five Indigenous Communities of this town, the Geothermal Pasil Project was formally launched with Gov. Floydelia R. Diasen and Mayor James Edduba leading stakeholders in accepting the project during the recent Digdiga Festival.

According to the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples of Kalinga, this development initiates the exploration of geothermal power source in Pasil by the Aragorn Power and Energy Corp. (APEC) and the Guidance Management Corp. (GMC).

The exploration is seen not only to provide cheaper and renewable energy source for the host municipality and probably some parts of the province but this could also generate more employment in the locality powering progress for Pasil.

In her message, Diasen warned APEC-GMC explorers to follow the memorandum of agreement to the letter, saying if any violation or complaint from the people is reported, she would be the first to react and take special attention to look into any allegation.

“Understand that the land is very precious to the Kalinga people who protect it with their life,” she said advising the investors to make good of their promise. She said that stakeholders want to showcase said project to invite more investors in the province eventually easing the province’s problems and needs ranging from infrastructure, socio-economic programs and employment.

As stakeholders, the governor called on the people and officials to be “very vigilant” so that the project would serve its purpose of alleviating the socio-economic conditions of the people.

“The rights of the IPs of these lands that has become an extension of who they are should be respected, not only by the investors but by the government as a matter of public policy,” she said urging the concerned agencies to strengthened their coordination in protecting these rights giving emphasis that the preservation of these resources should be enhanced following the indigenous customs and practices of the Kalinga people.

The five IP Pasil communities that gave their FPIC allowing the exploration include Colayo, Balatoc, Guinaang, Dangtalan, and Dalupa-Ableg.

Preceding this progression was the recent signing of the Kalinga Geothermal Service Contract last Sept. 24 this year by Secretary Angelo Reyes for the Department of Energy, Willy Ocier for APEC and Joaquin Rodriguez for the GMC.

In a related development, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ecently signed an executive order launching the Generating Investments in Geothermal Areas (GIGA) in support to the geothermal host communities in their effort to help reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels through the generation of renewable energy eventually helping the country face the global challenges such as the increase in oil prices and global warming. -- GGD/PIA-Kalinga



Number of poor persons in Cordillera up — NSCB

It is no wonder if the number of poor families in the Cordillera has gone up. A statistical report released by the Cordillera office of the National Statistical Coordination Board said 506,823 individuals in the six provinces of the Cordillera are poor.

The report stated that the poor individuals are earning an annual per-capita income of P16,810 or less. The number of poor individuals in the region represents a 13.9 percent increase in the number of poverty-stricken persons, compared to the 445,036 poor individuals listed in 2003.

Based on the NSCB report, the poverty census covered the period from 2003 to 2006. It stated that the poverty incidence in the region rose from 25.8 percent in 2003 to 28.8 percent in 2006. The NSB defined "poverty incidence of families" as the proportion of poor families to the total number of families in the region.

In magnitude, the total number of poor families grew by 20.8 percent or 87,050 families in 2006. The report stated a family of five needs at least P84,050 annually in order not to fall under the category of poor families. The poverty line or poverty threshold refers to the annual per-capita income required or the amount to be spent to satisfy basic food requirements and other non-food basic needs.

Apayao is considered to be the poorest of the six provinces in the region, with poverty incidence of 57.5 percent, nearly four folds since 2003. Apayao is followed by Abra with 40.1 percent poverty incidence.

The national government revitalized its efforts to fight poverty in the region after the NSCB office in the Cordillera reported that the poverty situation in Benguet, Mountain Province, and Kalinga had improved with the decline in poverty incidence of families and population in 2006.

The poverty-alleviation programs being implemented in Abra and Apayao include the cash assistance program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, rice subsidy for poor families, power subsidy, assistance to senior citizens, and various livelihood programs.

Economists in the region predict that with the down trend in the prices of oil and other basic commodities worldwide, the poverty incidence in the different Cordillera provinces would go down. Government officials say they have focused attention on implementation of programs relative to food security and anti-poverty projects in the country like the Cordillera.

But many projects do not reach the grassroots level because of corruption and bureaucratic red tape. The people are becoming indifferent to charges of corruption in government due to the series of corruption scandals involving government officials which had beset the country. In most parts of this Banana Republic like northern Luzon, the sentiment is no change for the better like weeding out corrupt government officials would change unless the upright ones are installed come 2010.



Alfred Dizon
The 10 Secrets of outstanding careers
(Below is an article by Jonathan Aquino I found in my email. Read it, it might change your life.)

What drives highly motivated people? When I was a student-volunteer during the first presidential race of the late Sen. Raul Roco in 1998, he taught us that the biggest room in the world is the room for self-improvement. This kaizen attitude, I realize, belongs in this collection of the ten keys to an excellent career.

Write a masterplan. Listing your goals define your priorities. Stephen King became the greatest literary phenomenon of the 20th century because he wanted to be a brand name even before his first novel Carrie got published in 1974.

Arrange tasks. One way to build confidence is to meet short-term goals while still working out the bigger challenges. Before Kanye West hit the big time with his 2004 Grammy-nominated multi-platinum debut album The College Dropout, he had been producing hits for various hiphop superstars including Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

Be purpose-driven. The key to a sense of fulfillment is to live a meaningful life. Chess living legend Garry Kasparov knew he could make a difference in the defense of democracy and human rights in Russia by becoming chairman of the United Civic Front in 2005, and he did.

Find role models. Our lives are enriched if we emulate good people. Bob Dylan’s musical career was influenced by his great admiration for American folk giant Woody Guthrie.

Invest in hard work. If you have worked for your cake then you deserve to eat it too. Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood has only superlative praises for Hillary Swank, who worked out 6 hours a day for 3 months, to play the lead in his 2005 Oscar-winning film Million Dollar Baby – where she also won her second Best Actress Award.

Change your self-image. How you function in life depends on how you view yourself. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England has been consistently modernizing the monarchy to make it relevant to modern times. “She’s not legacy-focused,” says Prince Andrew. “She’s future-focused.”

Don’t procrastinate. The world as we know it can be obsolete at any given moment to why up-date our upgrades? The Beatles achieved international superstardom in their teens, Sir Paul McCartney wrote the angst classic “Yesterday” when he was 24, and he’s still rockin’ – 2007 marked the launched of his CD Memory Almost Full, the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, and his 65th birthday.

Master your craft. You can be better not matter how good you are in whatever you do because you’re not obligated to be mediocre. Tiger Woods is well on his way to becoming the best golfer of all time. “He’s a work in progress,” says his swing coach Butch Harmon. “Anything that’s weakness, he turns into strength.”

Never surrender. The greatest success secret in the world is perseverance. Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential race because of a technicality but he’s still fighting global warming. The former United States Vice President has built Current TV, produced the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and was honored the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.



Perry Diaz
Mumbai: Road to armageddon?

The stunning terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India last November 26, 2008 have brought to the forefront of international debate the issue of how secure is any city from a terrorist attack? Ten terrorists and ten targets proved that it doesn't take a lot of terrorists to wreak havoc any place and anywhere in the world. And like those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the Mumbai attackers were not afraid to die. It's how much destruction that mattered to them.

Although the destruction in Mumbai is pale compared to 9/11, the impact on the Indian psyche is as devastating as 9/11. India, whether she likes it or not, is now drawn -- wittingly or unwittingly -- into the "War on Terror."

With a population of 1.13 billion people of which 151.4 million -- or 13.4% of the population -- are Muslim, India is the home to the third-largest Muslim population in the world. The largest is Indonesia with 195.2 million Muslims which comprise 88% of the population. The second largest is Pakistan with 160.8 million Muslims which comprise 98% of the population.

With a large population of Muslims, India has to pursue a policy that should not be inimical to its Muslim citizens. Having been to war with Pakistan four times since the Kashmir territorial dispute in 1947, going to war with Pakistan at this time would no longer be about territorial disputes but religious differences and intolerance -- Islamists against the "infidels." Today, war doesn't have front lines, it's borderless.

Why Mumbai? Formerly known as Bombay, it is the financial capital and the most populous city in India with 19 million inhabitants. And what a better way to terrorize the entire country -- and mesmerize the world -- than to attack Mumbai and take foreign hostages including Americans, British, and Jews.

If India and Pakistan would follow the way of the gun, the entire region -- South Asia -- could be one hell of a battleground. Just imagine: India and Pakistan with nuclear arms pointing at each other; neighboring giants Russia and China with huge nuclear arsenals ready to be used or peddled to client states; NATO countries stockpiled with American nuclear missiles programmed to strike certain targets; Iran secretly developing its nuclear armament program to be used against Israel; Israel ready to use its nuclear weapons in the event that it is pushed to the brink of annihilation; and Osama bin laden ready to send thousands of al Qaeda suicide bombers to population centers around the world. All these could only lead to the fulfillment of the most dreaded prophecy: the Battle of Armageddon.

It's interesting to note that soon after the Mumbai attacks, Islamic jihadists started talking about Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim state that is being claimed by both India and Pakistan. Kashmir's status has never been resolved since a United Nations-brokered ceasefire ended the second Pakistani-Indian War in 1965.

Today, the entire Kashmir region is split into three parts with India, Pakistan and China each administering a part. There were talks in Islamic circles of establishing a Taliban Caliphate which would encompass half of India and all of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir. Well, that could lead to a holy war or "jihad." And a "jihad" could really be bloody and could also draw the big powers and their allies into the conflict.

And where would the United States be in such an event? President-elect Barack Obama said during his campaign that he'd like to withdraw the American troops from Iraq and re-deploy them to Afghanistan to finish off al Qaeda and, if necessary, intrude into Pakistan to pursue elements of al Qaeda.

While both India and Pakistan are presently allied with the United States, an armed conflict between these belligerent neighbors could force the United States to remain neutral. However, in the event that pro-American Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari -- the widower of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto -- is ousted by Islamic forces backed by anti-US elements in the Pakistani military, a Pakistani-Indian war could turn ugly.

The US might be forced to covertly support India with military hardware or, as a last resort, overtly send an expeditionary force to stop the Islamists from overpowering India. The American entry into that war could also force Russia and China to rally behind Pakistan. As a consequence, NATO might enter the conflict in support of the US. A wild scenario? Yes, indeed.

Such a "wild scenario" could trigger the "final battle between Good and Evil" -- the Battle of Armageddon -- in the holiest city on Earth, Jerusalem. Iran would unleash its "secret" nuclear armaments into Jerusalem. And in an almost simultaneous reaction, Israel would send its nuclear missiles into Iran. And at that very moment, all hell breaks loose.

The Battle of Armageddon will probably not happen soon but the events that would lead to that "final battle" could start to happen soon, if they haven't started yet. Some say that it is inevitable and that early signs are manifested. However, some say that we're now closer to the End of Days. With the ascension of Barack Obama as a -- if not the -- world leader, one wonders what would he do to deal with the various players on both sides of the "War on Terror" to preserve world peace.

When Obama announced his selection of the members of his national security team, he said, "The time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. " His biggest challenge would be how to prevent the event -- or events -- that would lead to Armageddon.

While he had unequivocally reiterated his support of Israel throughout his presidential campaign, coming face to face with reality after winning the election is a different story. It is reassuring though when Obama promised to give more emphasis to diplomacy and bring a "new dawn of American leadership."

I remember the chess genius Bobby Fischer who, in a 1964 tour, played more than 20 chess games simultaneously against more than 20 players in each city… and winning them all except a few.

Barack Obama would have to do better than Bobby -- he has to play 120 chess games simultaneously with 120 heads of state. He should neither win or lose. All 120 games must end in a draw. And if he wins one, he loses all. Such is the intricate game of world diplomacy. (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)



Ramon Dacawi
Expanding our view of disaster

For quite sometime now, our official and legal view of what makes a disaster is anchored on its immediate impact on human life, limb and property. A state of calamity is determined and declared as such by the number of lives and properties lost or damaged in the wake of a typhoon, fire or earthquake. It is measured by the number of destroyed houses, bancas, farmlands and public infrastructure such as schools, roads and bridges to be rebuilt.

Unless human lives and properties are involved, a forest fire, however extensive the swath of destruction it leaves on trees, flora and fauna, is hardly viewed as a disaster. It doesn’t merit declaration of a state of calamity that would allow funding for rehabilitation. Let nature rehabilitate itself.

Between a tree and a house built recently beside it, the former must go. It has to be cut for it poses danger to life and property. Why the house, in the first place, had to be built beside the tree is hardly a legitimate question to ask. So when the tree is cut, the property owner is rewarded for his acquisitive foresight - in terms of free lumber to expand his shanty.

Notwithstanding our ability to define “sustainable development”, tree, forest and watershed conservation and protection remain beyond our sense of urgency or mental grasp. Otherwise, we won’t be having this protocol that lumps suppression of any fire under the command of the Bureau of Fire Protection which, for all intents and purposes, is equipped and trained to combat infrastructure fires.

Otherwise, Congress would not have sat on the country’s forest management plan our foresters drafted and submitted decades ago. Otherwise, Congress would have gone beyond taking to task the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the denudation of our watersheds and forests.

A DENR official down there in Metro-Manila told me why Congress can’t provide as much budgetary allocation for watershed and forest and conservation and protection as it does for farm production: Trees can’t vote but farmers can and do.

And yet, the official added, “we get the flak whenever rice production dips due to the drying up of the forest water source”.

Up here in the unique and remaining Cordillera pine stands and mossy forests, a disaster has long been in the offing. It is triggered by years of neglect of a region whose mineral, forest and water resources were harnessed in the name of national development, yet short-changed of benefits accruing from their extraction and exploitation.

Some giant firms that mined out the gold now want to still hold on to the land. New, speculative ones promise “responsible mining”, to soften opposition to further exploration and eventual extraction of what remains of the lode in tribal lands

For sometime now, the lowlands have been blaming us up here whenever they are flooded yet do not comprehend our sacrifice that allowed the construction and operation of the dams and mines.

They now complain that we have not preserved the mossy forests that, for generations, have been the life-blood of their farms. Yet we up here were practically alone in their upkeep, without substantial support from down there. In fact. Fact is the lowlands continue to oppose our share from national wealth taxes and other benefits from the operation of hydroelectric power dams, funds that would have enabled us to maintain the integrity of the watersheds for their benefit.

Now they want to talk to us, hopefully about shared responsibility in conserving these watersheds that generate electric power for their homes and industries and irrigation for their farmlands. For quite sometime now, we’ve been trying to tell them so.

Still, we, the watershed keepers, have been slow in aggressively fighting for what is due us. For one, it was only recently that we launched a serious push for a redefinition of a “host community” under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, to entitle us to shares from the one-centavo set aside for every kilowatt hour the dams produce and sell. Like our concept of fire as a disaster, the law’s definition of a “host community” is infrastructure-based, limited to where the dam is located. Almost a decade after the controversial EPIRA was passed, the narrow definition remains.

This issue was raised by Forester Manny Pogeyed immediately after the EPIRA law was passed. It was raised before the Cordillera Regional Development Council and to then Energy Secretary Vincent Perez when he came to Baguio for a public hearing to gather inputs to the implementing rules and regulations of the law. The same was raised by regional economic and development director Juan Ngalob during that public hearing.

It took come-backing Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat to raise the issue again, during the recent First Cordillera Regional Watershed Summit. With or without a summit, the governor feels this and other resource-based issues should now be on top of our regional development agenda, an agenda anchored on fighting for what is due us from the exploitation of what remains of our natural resources up here.

For so long, the agenda for national development has been “user-friendly”, but disastrous to the resource base. In sum, what happened was that the Cordillera was where they piloted the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme of development. They built and operated the mines and dams up here but transferred the gold and electric power to Metro-Manila and other places down there.

With an environmental disaster up here in the offing, it is again time to ask the old question: For whom is development and at what cost? ( for comments).



Edison L. Baddal
Dream ‘mismatch’

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Manny Pacquiao has just added Oscar de la Hoya to the growing list of Mexican boxing legends that he pulverized. For the ninth time, despite his abhorrence for being tagged as a “Mexicutioner”, he has just proven himself as that.

On the sidelight, the victory came at a time when, as usual, nothing positive are hogging the headlines in major dailies as the government is running the gauntlet of facing recycled charges of corruption and dorky impeachment raps composed of ridiculous offenses.

This imbroglio is not surprising as oppositionists are taking every opportunity to hurl potshots at the government for easier recall come election time that is just 16 months away. By itself, the victory scuttled even just for a day or two, the perennial bleak news that a nonchalant people has been hitherto constantly bombarded with.

Thus, Manny will always be regarded agape not only for his exploits in boxing but also for his ability to unite Filipinos, regardless of race, calling, education and the like after every victory in slugfest.

The smashing Pacquiao victory debunked all favorable predictions of an Oscar win by a sensational media overhype over his ring exploits. Pacquiao may not have been uptight prior to the face-off even as he kept a low profile in the media blitz although he might have felt uneasy.

There’s no doubt that Oscar’s ebullient hangers-on parlayed the favorable predictions of an Oscar win by noted boxing aficionados, including Oscar’s tormentor Bernard Hopkins, either to intimidate Pacman or to send a subtle message that victory was simply a touch-and-go on his part. It sort of suggested that he was a small hawk trying on spec to defeat an eagle.

It was thus that a claim by an ex-trainor of Muhammad Ali of a Pacman win was taken with a grain of salt even as he might have been considered cuckoo for his bold comparison of Pacman to Obama and Oscar to Maccain. However, Ricky Hatton, bandied as Pacman’s possible next foe, added another brazen prediction of a Pacman win as he claimed that Oscar is already worn-out as a fighter having fought his last fight more than a year ago.

This media overhype of a largely predicted win that turned exactly the opposite evoked a strange parallel in a big boxing match in 1991 between Mike Tyson, the reigning heavyweight champ then, and challenger Buster Douglas in Tokyo, Japan.

Days before the scheduled fight, the media glowed over Tyson’s ring exploits that subtly suggested Douglas to be just another victim of Tyson’s iron hands. Back then, Tyson was a complete knockout artist having floored all his foes ever since becoming a heavyweight champion in the late eighties with only “Bonecrusher” Smith escaping his knockout jabs although he too was defeated but on points. Douglas and company kept a low profile in this entire hullabaloo.

Subsequently, in a monumental upset that shocked the boxing world, Douglas knocked the daylights out of Tyson in the 11th round during their actual fight. It was Tyson’s first knockout and the upset was nothing short of phenomenal. As a result, Tyson’s stature was momentarily reduced from “iron man” to “tin man”.
At any rate, Pacman’s spanking victory proved that the aging Oscar is no match to his superior boxing skills. The latter was simply outclassed, outpunched,outsmarted and outwitted.

All too suddenly, De la Hoya’s overhyped boxing powers has gone kaput having registered only token resistance to Pacman’s barrage of punches. In a way, his brawling days with fast and furious punches against his previous foes flailed against Pacman’s swift, swarming and strong punches accompanied by dizzying moves.

The different combinations unleashed by Pacman rattled and dazed De la Hoya that throughout the fight he toyed with Oscar even as he neutralized Oscar’s height and reach advantage by turning the latter’s face into a bloody mess. The nitty-gritty is that the match turned out to be a carnage with the pathetic Oscar fighting like a defanged tiger before the 8th round TKO.

At this point, Freddie Roach’s gamble for the match that was promoted as a “dream match” proved to be a “dream mismatch” in Pacquiao’s favor. It upended in a classic manner Pacman’s underdog image vis-à-vis the stature of Oscar and his éclat of boxing skills in his heyday.

As footages of the fight showed, the bloody end for Oscar could have come earlier during the 7th round had not Pacman wavered in giving the killer punch even after treating the former with severe beatings. Obviously, Pacman has still an iota of respect for Oscar for his vacillation to deliver the knockout punch in the 7th or 8th. The saddest part here is that, Oscar’s dream of retiring in glory in his aftermost fight turned out to be his most humiliating defeat.

Meanwhile, Pacman’s obviation of Oscar’s height and reach advantage in their tiff reminded this hack of another classic heavyweight match in the late eighties. This was between Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes sometime in 1988. Holmes was much taller and bulkier than Tyson.

Prior to this, Larry Holmes was semi-retired from boxing after he reigned as a heavyweight champion for several years in the eighties. He sprung out of out of semi-retirement and challenged Tyson,who was then the unified heavyweight champion and at the peak of his career. Tyson charged like a bull from the opening round and busted Holmes’ face with hard punches to disable him from maximizing his bulk. Eventually, Larry Holmes ended up a bloodied and crumpled mess cringing in the canvass in the fourth round.

Oscar’s wobbly and tippy movements in his recent fight with Pacman was reminiscent of Holmes sluggishness against Tyson then. Just like Holmes, Oscar failed to find his range against the fast-slugging Pacman. Just like Holmes, Oscar failed to withstand Pacman’s barrage of punches that made him look like a beaten pulp. Finally, just like Holmes, Oscar proved no match to Pacman’s punching power and skills.

On the other hand, Oscar and Holmes are both celebrated boxers in their own time. Oscar was a 10-time world champion in six different divisions while Larry Holmes was a feared heavyweight champion in the eighties in which one of his worthy victims was Muhammad Ali. He earned a record of 48 straight wins before he was upset by Michael Spinks. Pacman today is the doppelganger of Tyson during the latter’s heady reign in the late eighties as heavyweight champ.

There’s no doubt that the stunning victory earned for Manny an immortal place in the annals of boxing on an equal footing with the greatest boxers of all time like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes, Joe Luis, Joe Frazier, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Lennox Lewis, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leaonard, Alexis Arguello and even Rocky Marciano, to name a few.

Many will attribute Pacman’s victory to his natural talents and skills as a boxer not to mention the hard training he invests every time he fights. One should remember, though, that before the start of his actual fight, Pacman always invoke the help of the Lord for his success either in the locker room and in his ring corner. The show of piety may be public but being apparently a man of integrity, the act gives credence to his other aspect as a man of faith.

The pious, if public, act is a sincere acknowledgement that an Almighty God exists who guides the destiny of individuals and nations. His statement that prayer is his talisman or juju for his victories is not an understatement. His string of smashing victories attest to that. Alfred Lord Tennyson once averred that “more things are wrought by prayer than the world ever thinks of.” He is a shining practitioner of that.

It is an axiom that God will always uplift and gives grace to the humble. I state with candor that humility and sincere prayers are Pacman’s main weapons in his successes. He puts into real action that adage that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God but work as if everything depends on you.” Nothing is farther from the truth. Happy Holidays!



Robert L. Domoguen
Climate change and tragic fate of the earth

The earth is the largest of support systems for life, and its impairment through direct and indirect human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere is increasingly becoming the largest of perils besides a nuclear holocaust.

In the early ‘80s, Jonathan Schell, staff writer for the New Yorker, reported that “there were some 50 thousand warheads in the world possessing the explosive yield of roughly twenty billion tons of TNT, or one million six hundred thousand times the yield of the bomb that was dropped by the United States on the city of Hiroshima, in Japan” during the last world war.

In a scenario of a nuclear war where these warheads are put to good use, one imagines the earth’s populated cities like Hiroshima and even countries throughout the globe being incinerated and flattened to the ground by a nuclear firestorm. And that is not the end of it. Scientists studying the impact of such a nuclear holocaust reported that all life forms that would survive the blast will soon be decimated and affected by the radioactivity that has dispersed into earth’s environment.

The second of the global effects of this nuclear holocaust is “the lofting from ground bursts, of millions of tons of dust into the stratosphere which will produce a general cooling of the earth’s surface. The third is a partial destruction of the ozone layer that surrounds the entire earth in the stratosphere.” The destruction may persist for years.

The ozone layer is crucial to life on earth, because it shields the surface of the earth from lethal levels of ultraviolet radiation, which is present in sunlight. Without the ozone, life in this planet would only be possible in the ocean. Without the ozone shield, sunlight, the life-giver, would become a life-extinguisher, according to scientists

If he is still alive today, I wonder what Jonathan Schell thinks about climate change, a global phenomena now occurring worldwide that UN experts attribute “directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

Climate change is a top issue today in the UN and its agencies. It’s an issue that pre-occupies the minds of the world’s leaders and must now be a concern of every human inhabitant in this planet. What a nuclear holocaust may probably achieve instantly on the planet in an insane future is slowly taking shape – the extinguishing of life itself through the thinning of the ozone shield, global warming and changes in weather conditions.

Both nuclear holocaust and climate change reflect on our human excesses that lead to the destruction of all that we know and experience as “life.” They constitute the major challenges that modern man must resolve with a clear conscience, morality and full rationality before it is too late.

Owing to what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan, the effects of a nuclear holocaust can more or less be easily envisioned. If it happens, the responsibility of extinguishing the life of future generations of human beings in the planet lies in the hands of those who allowed it to happen.

The climate change phenomena, however, is already indicting us all now. Every time we burn trash in our backyards, burn rice straw and stubbles, use spray cans, turn on the car and burn fuel, we contribute to the thinning of the ozone or generate additional greenhouse gases that trap more heat on the earth’s atmosphere and raise the temperature. Even an increase in nitrous oxide in the atmosphere brought about by agricultural fertilizers harm the ozone. A doubling of the nitrous oxide in the troposphere, which becomes nitric oxide contribute to the reduction of the ozone layer by about 15 percent.

There are several literatures on climate change that could illustrate how this phenomenon occurs. Such literature can date back to the creation of the first atomic bomb. These can enlighten the reader on the various factors that contribute to climate change. The challenge is how to make this technical literature that comes in hard and dull language interesting and comprehensible to the layman. Still, the earnest point to be made is that the reader must now realize that climate change can no longer be taken for granted.

Experiences on climate change relegate the theories on this phenomenon from hindering the required or desired action to mitigate or adapt to its global effects. In the Philippines and other countries, the manifestations of climate change, according to experts, are as follows: 1). Weather is mostly warm; 2) Seasons during the year turn from rainy to dry and back; and, 3) On the average, rains in June to August are accompanied by warm winds mostly coming from the southwest, and in December to February, early mornings are cooler coming from the northeast.

In patterns during the past few decades, observed changes are as follows: 1) Warm months of March, April and May have become even noticeably warmer; 2) Nights have also become warmer, with days also getting hotter; 3) Patterns of rains and rainy seasons have also changed; and, 4) Droughts have been noted to be more frequent in some areas.

Pagasa has observed annual mean temperature anomalies from 1951-2006 in this manner: Mean - An increase of 0.6104°C; Maximum - An increase of 0.3472°C; Minimum - An increase of 0.8904°C, an almost 3 times increase than maximum temperatures. There are also significant increases in the occurrences of hot days and warm nights and significant decreases in the number of cold days and cold nights.

Pagasa also observed shifts from one climate type to another in the country. For instance, the coastal towns of Baler, Casiguran, Tayabas, Infanta and Alabat had shifted from type IV to type II. It reported that this could be due to a maximum rain period during peak of the northeast monsoon season. The agency also noted that there are no trends in the frequency of tropical cyclones and that a noticeable number of destruction typhoons had crossed the country. These are: 2004: Unding in November and Yoyong in December; and, 2006: Milenyo in September, Paeng in October, Queenie and Reming in November.

Climate change now impacts on human health, agriculture, forest, water, coastal resources, species, and natural lands in terms that are slowly being known and comprehended. Right now, attention is focused on 1) biophysical impacts covering physiological effects on crops, pasture, forests and livestock (quantity, quality); changes in land, soil and water resources (quantity, quality); increased weed and pest challenges; shifts in spatial and temporal distribution of impacts; sea level rise, changes to ocean salinity; and, sea temperature rise causing fish to inhabit different ranges. 2. Socio-economic impacts: decline in yields and production; reduced marginal GDP from agriculture; fluctuations in world market prices; changes in geographical distribution of trade regimes; increased number of people at risk of hunger and food insecurity; migration and civil unrest.

Specifically for agriculture, global warming contributes to the loss of biodiversity in fragile environment and forest; loss of fertile coastal lands caused by rising sea levels; more unpredictable farming conditions in tropical areas; dramatic changes in distribution and quantities of fish and sea foods; increased frequency of weather extremes; longer growing seasons in cool areas; increase in incidence of pests and vector-borne diseases.

Under a regime of climate change, this corner is compelled to ask this question and seek a primary but simple action. Do we have that common discipline to compose and not burn trash, to plant trees, conserve the forest or pursue car less days? To be effective, knowledge and action to adapt and mitigate climate change must become a common pursuit. Unhampered individual and irresponsible activities leveled against the environment keeps the human race as a whole moving ever closely to its insane and tragic end. What then can prevent the realization of that final insanity --- the nuclear holocaust as a swift end to this tragic fate of the earth and all of life?



Rudy Garcia
Dangerous gangs,pickpockets

BAGUIO CITY – The recent shootout at Paranaque, it reminds me of a shootout between cops and a big-time criminal syndicate years back. The Philippine National Police claimed it was a shootout but investigation bared it was a rubout.

Now, this Paranaque incident wherein some innocent civilians were killed needs in depth investigation. No other than the commission on Human Rights Chairperson De Lima castigated the PNP for alleged negligence. The National Police Commission also claimed the PNP violated the rules of engagement basing some evidence and testimonies of witnesses.

Relatives of the slain civilians are now crying for justice they prefer to have the bodies be re-autopsied. The PNP offering P100,000 bounty reward for the capture of waray-waray or mizamis gang members is not enough to console relative. They still have lots of doubt to the credibility of our lawmen. Just the same, there is hope there would be no white wash and not let this case just rust in the dust bin. Ano sey ninyo generals Bataoil at Versoza?
The senate filed false testimony against “Joc-Joc” Bolante at the Department of Justice. They let loose and set him free for an alleged capital offense he needed to defend himself against the people of the Philippines. It is a crime against the country and its people. It is economic sabotage. Funny, the case filed is false testimony or perjury instead of plunder. It is like filing a case of homicide at the prosecutor’s office but which ends up in the resolution and information as a case of light physical injury. Whew, so what’s next?
I wrote in my last column about those pickpockets in Baguio whose modus operandi is pretending to be customers inside bar and videoke joints but actually were only there to look for victims. This group has a member who is a gay that acts as their front liner or floor manager.

Their operation is to have this gay introduce would be victims to one or two members of the group who are call boys or pick-up girls, then they would invite the unsuspecting victims to dance on the dance floor or sing their favorite tunes on videoke. When they have gained trust and confidence of the victim, they would now ask him to order more rounds of drinks. When the victim is tipsy, they rob him of his wallet or cell phone then run away.

This is exactly what happened recently inside a videoke bar along upper Mabini St. in Baguio. A gay was victimized by this group on the dance floor while dancing. The suspects were able to run away before the gay victim noticed that his wallet was missing. Thanks to his gay friend who pretended to be innocent and knew nothing of that incident.

As I have said, the group is composed mostly of call boys and pick-up girls who frequently hang out along lower Session Road (in front of Mercury), Malcolm Square and at Ermita area, Otek St. Most often, they go to Burnham Park to partake of their loot.

Well, I think this information is too enough for the intelligence division of the Baguio police to start working. The rest could be their Job after all, I believe in the capability of the Baguio’s Finest, right Chief Supt. Wilfredo Franco, Sir?
Maybe this bar and billiard joint along upper Mabini St. should be inspected by city hall authorities for allowing minors who are mostly students from a nearby university to drink intoxicated drinks inside the establishment, particularly on late afternoons. Anyone who happens to pass by at Upper Mabini St. as early as 7 p.m. would notice several youngsters who are drunk with some vomiting at the pavement beside the road in full view of the public. Everyone there knows that these young boys and girls are coming from that establishment earlier ordered closed by Mayor Peter Rey Bautista.

In fact, there was that incident where a rumble occurred between two groups coming from that establishment. Barangay captain Michael Flores personally responded but despite introducing himself, he was hit by someone from the warring group, who did not even pay any respect to the barangay captain.

Maybe Flores was right when he refused to issue a barangay business permit to this establishment. Nevertheless, I know that my good friend Michael will not take this sitting down. Right Apo Kapitan?
To date, the suspect(s) who stabbed to death 15-year-old boy Chermagne Calpito remains at large and still the subject of a police manhunt. Calpito was killed along Legarda Road while about to go home at their residence in city camp. Because of this untoward incident, curfew for minors in Baguio was again strictly implemented by the police.

But as the heat of the issue subsides, police operations in monitoring minors also started to slow down in numbers. I am not saying that police operations are only ningas kugon but to remind them that we should not wait for another victim like Calpito to happen before we wake up and act. Who knows, one of our children could be the next victim, Gising!



Glo Abaeo Tuazon
Marky’s end of the line

BAGUIO CITY -- Everybody was in a somber mood as a disciplined line of people slowly made their way towards here to the altar of the Church of Resurrection. The varnished pine of the church pews and walls were the hue of amber, the filtering lights of the early morning sun casting rays of gold and white towards that solitary box in the middle. If this was in a Shakespeare play, the scene would have been perfect, but....

Too fast, too soon for a young life to be snuffed out like a candle put to rest with the coming of dawn. A young, promising life that would have given this lad a chance to shine more, a chance to show the world what one is made of, a chance to smell the flowers, a chance to roam other worlds, a chance to love, a chance to be loved, a chance to understand and be understood, a chance for everything great and small. But then again God must have had a purpose and this is Marky's end of the line, a time to go home and wander the lands beyond.

Marky is just a name. One among the crowd of kids, living in oblivion until a chance of a lifetime came. With nothing to lose, armed with will and determination, he pushed on to join a talent search, one that would eventually propel him to fame.

The search was not uneventful though. Being part of a highland breed, the term Igorot always creates stir in most lowland social gatherings. It cannot be denied that racial discrimination still exists and prevails in this so-called modern world we live in. For us who are part of this race, the stigma of being one hounds us like a leech.

Not that it is something to be ashamed of, just that the ignorance of people about cultural and traditional diversity makes us less than what we are in their eyes. That the word tail (in reference to the bahag or g-string or loin cloth) still makes us low-down, primitive people with no education. Marky had to prove otherwise.

And with the outrage that came with an on-air comment from a fellow aspirant, the Cordilleran support for Marky poured in. It became a race to save a beautiful breed and a beautiful culture from degradation and animosity. And Marky (and all the Igorots) stood out to win that search.

Sadly though, the end came too soon. The lad that has served as an icon of hope for many Cordilleran youths completed his circle of life and had to advance further. Not that he also left and that is that. In his stead is a legacy that what we sometimes think as impossible can be attained with a lot of hope, and with people to push one up instead of pulling him down, one we term as unity, we can crawl out of any situation and someday stand above too.

To Marky, the land beyond has sunrises and sunsets far greater than what is down here. Up there, there is no more proving as to what we are, what race we belong, or what talents we can do. -- email:



Native rice growers need gov’t assistance

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — The "unoy," the native Kalinga rice known for its pink, reddish color and rich flavor and aroma, hit the United States market in 2005, thanks to a former Press Corps volunteer, who remembered the delicious rice.

Mary Hensley, native of Ulm, Montana, US, who served in Lubuagan, Kalinga as Press Corps volunteer from 1976 to 1979, formed the Eighth Wonder group that started distributing the "unoy" and the "tinawon" of Ifugao in the US three years ago.

This was done in partnership with the Revitalized Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneurs, Inc. (RICE), a non-government organization. RICE is in charge of collecting the "unoy" from the farmers in Kalinga and the "tinawon" from Ifugao farmers.

Ironically, despite the fact that the unoy is being exported to the US in the last three years, it is still relatively unknown in the local market. It was noted that the unoy is sold only during trade fairs in Metro Manila.

Rice dealer Manny Onalan says that this is rather sad, given the fact that with the global trend towards organic food, the unoy has a bright future. Unoy rice is grown organically.

Onalan, whose store in the Bulanao public market is the only place in the business center of the city where unoy is available all the time, blames short production for the inability of the unoy to penetrate the local market.

Onalan, who heads the Kalinga Tawid Development Cooperative which comprises of 37 unoy farmers in Kalinga, says the production in the province is only between 70,000 and 120,000 kilos annually.

"We can only penetrate the market if we increase production. The Department of Agriculture should support the unoy farmers in terms of improving the unoy-growing technology such as matching the best unoy variety at a given locality," Onalan said.

Iluminada Calbuyao, chairperson of the Kalinga Organic Unoy Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, says that it would be a great help if the government makes a tractor available for the use of unoy farmers tilling rain-fed farms. -- EAJ



Kendrick Go
Birth of a passion

A website is now a must for any enterprise that intends to grow and expand its market and graphic and Web designer Errole Gutierrez believes that every Filipino entrepreneur will get a competitive edge by putting up one.

The seed for this idea came to Gutierrez while he was working in the United States as an advertising graphic designer. One day, his boss asked him to update the company’s website, but although proficient in graphic design, he still had no experience in Web design at the time. He therefore took it as a challenge to quickly learn Web design on his own. The website turned out great and the interest he had in Web design became a passion.

In 2002, Gutierrez came back to the Philippines to help in the family’s construction business. Since the construction industry was becoming more and more competitive, he suggested to his father that they put up a website to help market the business. Initially skeptical, his father agreed. Gutierrez then built the website and it proved to be very helpful to the business.

After that, designing websites became Gutierrez’s sideline. With more and more job orders coming in, however, he decided to make it a full-time business in 2006. To get his Web design venture started in earnest, he bought a laptop with P50,000 that he borrowed from his father.

His very first project earned him P150,000, so he was able to pay his father back and had enough funds left over to reinvest in his fledgling business. He initially called it Media Creative, but he later renamed it as 168 Media Creative on the suggestion of friends. They had told him that the phrase with those numbers tucked in means “abundance” in Chinese, and he says that he did get even more clients when he used the new name.

Today, Gutierrez still designs most of the creative requirements of his company’s clients, but he now subcontracts some of the technical aspects to a pool of programmers. Most of the company’s clients are in the United States and Australia, where he has people marketing his Web design services.

What sets his company apart from other Web design companies, Gutierrez explains, is the code he uses. Instead of using the traditional and laborious Hyper Text Mark Up Language (HTML), he uses the easier and more user-friendly Joomla Content Management System (CMS). For this reason, his company can do websites at least at half the time and at half the price compared to other web designers. He says this makes putting up websites much more affordable to Filipino entrepreneurs who intend to serve the global market.

An advocate of Filipino empowerment, Gutierrez says he is concentrating on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in his efforts to spread the website gospel. He believes that despite all the noise about how the economy is going bad, there is still a lot of room for entrepreneurs. “Now is the best time to get into business,” he says.

But the problem, he says, is that most Filipino entrepreneurs are intimidated by technology or are unaware of how it could work for them. Thus, being content to do business with no website at all or with poorly designed ones, they simply could not compete internationally.

Gutierrez relies solely on word-of-mouth and Internet forums to promote his services; indeed, he says that he makes his attractive Web designs and service “the motor of his marketing.” He used to put up ads in newspapers, but realized later on that “you have to practice what you preach.” Since then, he has principally relied on Internet marketing.

In addition to Web design and website maintenance, 168 Media Creative offers graphic design services for brochures, calling cards, letterheads, and other visual requirements. Gutierrez also assists clients in producing multimedia presentations.

He consistently maintains rates lower than those of other designers, relying more on the bigger business volumes that this strategy generates for his company. Even with the success he enjoys, Gutierrez says he considers his business to be a “freelance gig company in the making.”


Imported veggies floodmarkets; Benguet farmers face bleak Christmas

>> Sunday, December 7, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Farmers' groups of this vegetable-producing province face a bleak Christmas saying influx of imported agricultural caused heavy losses to them and traders.

This, as personnel of the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Bureau of Customs, Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, and representatives of vegetable growers conducted last week surprise visits to cold-storage facilities and stalls in Divisoria, Manila to look into the reported influx of smuggled fresh vegetables in the country.

The visit was in response to complaints of Benguet farmers that imported and smuggled vegetables have been flooding the markets.

During the visit, the three government teams confiscated 67 cartons of smuggled fresh ginger from one of the stall owners.

The government does not allow the importation of fresh ginger, and the BPI has not issued a single permit for its importation.

Plant Industry Director Joel S. Rudinas said the vigilance of the BPI’s Plant Quarantine Service Office to intercept smuggled commodities has resulted in the confiscation of 60 40-foot container vans and re-export this year to Hong Kong of one 40-foot container van containing fresh brocolli.

These actions, Rudinas said, led to the blacklisting of five importers.

The BPI director confirmed that only few permits for the importation of fresh vegetables are being issued to meet the needs of high-end markets such as hotels, airlines, and upscale supermarkets.

Comparing the figures this year with those in the same period last year, there was slight increase in the number of permits issued for fresh vegetables, the BPI said.

Meanwhile, affected traders are getting their vegetable supplies at the trading post in La Trinidad.

Officers of the Benguet Farmers Federation and its chapters in the 13 towns in the province said last week traders buying locally grown crops have reduced sharply their purchases, resulting to huge losses.

The most affected locally grown vegetables by the influx of the imported crops are carrots and potatoes.

The federation reported the presence of cheap imported vegetables in Metro Manila markets, saying this would lead to a bleak Christmas for the farmers as their produce would no longer be purchased by the traders.

The group said imported vegetables began flooding the markets since last month on a staggered basis, and now its negative effects are being felt in the province.

Imported vegetables are sold not only in Metro Manila markets but also in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Boracay, and other urban areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

The officers said storage areas in Metro Manila included those in Tondo, Divisoria and Malabon, where huge warehouses are located.

Many traders have reduced the volume of their purchases by at least 50 percent or from 1,000 kilos to a little less than 500 kilos.

Due to the competition between cheap imported vegetables and the locally produced ones, the traders will continue to reduce their purchases in the coming days, the federation said.

The group said unregulated importation and smuggling of agricultural commodities in the past years are being blamed for the moribund situation of the local agriculture industry, which is major source of livelihood for at least 250,000 people. -- Dexter A See and BR


Anonymous donor gives e-media set to DSWD children

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet --- An unidentified donor last week gave a Samsung 32-inch TV set and a Samsung digital video disc (DVD) player to children of the reception and study center for children (RSCC) here.

Center Head Judith de Guzman said the items were brought to the center morning of Nov. 19.

De Guzman added the donor may have purchased the equipment from Tiong San in La Trinidad since it was the establishment that delivered the items to the center.

She also said a delivery receipt bearing no name of the shipper was addressed to the center.

RSCC staff however found a short note inside the package and read: “Kindly accept this gift for the children there at the center. May it bring them joy and happiness to the unfortunate state of their lives. I hope this would be useful.”

Department of Social Works and Development workers revealed the equipment was valued at P16, 440.

Meanwhile regional DSWD director Porfiria Bernardez said, a number of anonymous donations are received by the regional agency each year.

The director said such donations are properly accounted for. Bernardez and Ms. De Guzman expressed gratitude to the unidentified donor on the children’s behalf.

The center head said the equipment will be used for educational and recreational activities of the children.

RSCC is transitional home which provides physical care and protection to street children and those in especially difficult circumstances. It presently caters to 27 children.


GSIS hit for ‘unfair deals and policies’

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Regional government officials and employees assailed the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) last week for “unfair and questionable, insensitive policies and lack of transparency in its programs and dealing with members.

The Cordillera Regional Development Council here challenged the GSIS to correct issues and concerns raised by 22 government line agencies and two local government units regarding the agency’s operation in the region.

At the same time, the region’s policy-making body requested the Cordillera congressmen and the GSIS to take urgent action to resolve the pressing matters.

Earlier, various line agency heads and local officials raised the alleged unfair and insensible GSIS policies in which issues such as the diminution of GSIS benefits, stoppage of GSIS survivor’s benefits and pensions and increasing premiums collected from government employees with no corresponding improved benefits and services from the agency.

Subsequently, some Cordillera congressmen disclosed the House of Representatives received several complaints on GSIS’ poor operations and services and requested that issues be forwarded to Congress for consideration in the pending laws concerning GSIS or for presentation to GSIS in the legislative deliberations with the agency.

The grievances of GSIS members in the region include accumulation of arrears resulting from delayed posting of remittances or payments as well as non-refund of excess payments.

Regional line agencies and local government units also complained of delayed processing of retirement and separation claims and benefits.

In 2005, the RDC passed a resolution entitled, “Seeking redress for the oppressive treatment of the members and deprivation of benefits due them by the GSIS,” for which no feedback was received to the present.

The RDC also cited the certifications issued by the agencies is not recognized or honored; loan based on uploaded data or information.

The agencies and LGUs claimed suspension of policy loan services for unexplained reasons, an indication that GSIS is not liquid.

The RDC criticized the good advertisement of GSIS but it expressed disappointment over its bad service, thus, the agency is unnecessarily spending millions of pesos of member’s money for useless advertisements and blank ads.

Ironically, policy cash-surrender value is being deducted of loan balance including penalties due to unspotted loan remittance.

The RDC revealed refunds of premiums and arrears are not properly refunded and take a long time before refunds are given or not yet refunded until now.

The agencies and LGUs stated GSIS uploading of premiums and loan amortization is unreliable and that GSIS deducts the unpaid government shares from the policy maturity pay.

Worst, the GSIS was criticized for lack of transparency in all transactions especially in loan payments thereby posing doubt among the members on where there money is being spent.

Recently, the GSIS abandoned its field office in the city and transferred the same to Dagupan City, Pangasinan and what is left here is the so-called receiving office thereby depriving its members excellent and quality service especially in the processing of their loans and pensions.


Call center exec dies in road accident

BAGUIO CITY — A supervisor of a call center company operating in this city died when he was pinned in his car which crashed onto a tree on Loakan Road here late Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Supt. Eugene G. Martin, regional police directo, identified the victim as Ian Jonathan Quinto, supervisor and coach of the Sitel Call Center based at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority zone in Barangay Loakan.

Initial investigation showed the victim was driving his Honda Civic car bearing plate number PSW 499 towards the city proper when he allegedly lost control of the wheel.

The car crashed onto a tree on the opposite direction then fell into a canal.

Because of the strong impact, the car was totally wrecked. Since the victim was pinned inside, and rescuers had a hard time retrieving his body.

The victim suffered multiple fractures in the head and body. -- Dexter See


Mayor, 3 aides slain in Cagayan ambush

By Jun Guiang and CL

SOLANA, Cagayan — The mayor of Rizal town in Cagayan was killed along with three of his security men when some 20 heavily armed men ambushed them in this town night of Dec. 3. Four of his bodyguards survived.

Reports said the ambushers even used floodlights during the attack, indicating they were well-prepared for the job.

Their target, Rizal Mayor Raul de la Cruz, died from bullet wounds in the head and body as the ambushers, who were armed with high-caliber guns, opened fire on the mini-bus he and his bodyguards were riding.

One of the survivors said the mayor was still able to order them to fight back before he was cut down by a hail of bullets.

"Huwag mag-panic. Lumaban nang todo bago tayo uubusin. (Don’t panic. Let’s fight with all we got before we all get killed)," the survivor quoted the mayor as saying.

Chief Supt. Roberto Damian, Cagayan Valley police director, identified De la Cruz’s aides killed in the attack as Ramon Gundan Jr., Federico Canay Jr., and John Baluran, the coaster’s driver.

Wounded were Nilo Patay, Alan de la Cruz, Victor Baluran and Aurelio Cauilan, who are now tightly guarded in the hospital.

Police said the mayor and his group just came from a medical mission and were on their way to Tuguegarao City aboard a mini-bus owned by the Rizal municipal government when they were waylaid around 10 p.m. along the Tuguegarao-Piat Highway in Barangay Maddarulug, Solana town.

Damian told newsmen the mayor’s security men traded shots with the ambushers but were unsure if there were casualties on the attackers’ side as there were no bloodstains in their escape route.

Damian said the firefight lasted 20 minutes, and attackers also attempted to burn the minibus.

De la Cruz was rushed to the St. Paul Hospital here but was declared dead on arrival due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Damian said they have provided De la Cruz’s family with protection following the attack.

Damian said he met with De la Cruz on Dec. 1 and warned him about a death threat against him.

“We talked for over one and a half hours. I even told him to coordinate with Cagayan police director Senior Supt. Moro Lazo to arrange his security,” he said.

“I even asked him if there was something I could do to augment his security and he told me, ‘OK na OK ako, sir, I can manage.’ I reminded him to be careful several times; I don’t know how many times,” he added.

Damian said he and De la Cruz agreed to meet again on Jan. 9 during the Rizal town fiesta.

Last month, a grand rally for peace was held in Tuguegarao City to call for an end to all political and ideology-related violence in the province, in line with President Arroyo’s earlier call during a region-wide peace and security summit here.

As this developed, Director General Jesus Verzosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, ordered pursuit operations against killers of the mayor.

Verzosa issued the order in the wake of reports that the Cagayan PNP Regional Office is eyeing three possible angles in the killing of Mayor De la Cruz and his security men.

Among the motives being looked into are politics, a personal grudge, and an attack by New People’s Army rebels, police said.


PGMA guest of honor in 13th nat’l press congress

BAGUIO CITY – President Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to grace the 13th National Press Congress on Dec. 11-13 here in the summer capital of the country wherein public interest issues related to media, culture and the global crisis will dominate discussions.

Organized by the 34-year-old Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI), the country’s largest media event forms part of the annual month-long nation-wide celebration of the “National Press Congress Month and the Month of the Community Press” in the Service of the Nation.

The celebration, which includes public fora and other related activities on press freedom in various regional and provincial PAPI networks, is in line with Proclamation 1187 issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

President Arroyo’s proclamation, widely hailed by PAPI members and officers all over the country, was intended to recognize, encourage and support the media’s critical importance in strengthening the bonds of national unity.

“Being the Fourth Estate, the press has the inherent mandate to play a dynamic and pro-active stance in nation-building efforts, particularly at this most crucial time of global economic downturn,” PAPI president Juan P. Dayang said.

The three-day event, to be held at the Benitez Hall of the sprawling Teachers Camp in Baguio city, is expected to be attended by some 500 media delegates and advocates from all over the country.

“We intend to build a consensus during the congress on how the media and the cultural values of the Filipinos can be harnessed to weather the onslaught of this global crisis,” Dayang said.

A key highlight of the conference, which will be addressed by senior officials from government and non-government sectors, is the Students Press Congress 2008, PAPI’s long-term advocacy to help mold a new corps of principled, committed and patriotic journalists from the academe.

Those interested to attend may call PAPI Conference Secretariat at Unit 206, Cityland Condominium VIII, No. 98, Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, Tel. (02) 8929278; Fax (02) 8944687; CP 09209094379 or email

For those in northern Luzon, you may also contact Alfred Dizon, regional PAPI chairperson at telefax (074-421-8145), CP 09193676436 or email:


Cops on trail for culprits in poisoning of 105 pupils

MANKAYAN, Benguet – Lawmen are hot on the trail to identify persons who dumped sacks of expired candies along a road here which poisoned 105 pupils last week after they found and ate these resulting to their hospitalization.

Police are still determining culpability of the candies and junk food manufacturers so charges could be filed against them if warranted.

Authorities identified manufacturers of the candies and junk food as LOI-LOI, Kuoshen Sweets Corp., ALTECH Packaging Corp., Regent Food Corp., Malabon Candy Co. Inc, Standard Food Industries and Yinhai Food Corp (from Shantou, Guandong, China).

Two water manufacturers – Regent Food Corp. and Pure Snack Food House were also named.

For junk food, listed were Pure Snack Food Corp., PRIFOOD Corp., AYA Manufacturing, ASY Food Corp., KULIT Snack Food Corp., INTERCOR Food Products and Jovi’s Food Products.

The pupils of two public elementary schools reportedly found the candies that afternoon dumped along the Abatan-Mankayan-Cervantes Road.

Fourteen of the victims of the suspected food poisoning were confined at the Lepanto District Hospital and at the rural health unit here for treatment.

Mankayan Mayor Manalo Galuten ordered municipal government offices and law enforcers to conduct an investigation to identify the unscrupulous individuals who dumped dozens of sacks of candies alongside the highway.

The victims were pupils of the Palatong Elementary School and the Mankayan Elementary School.

Initial police investigation showed several schoolchildren found 11 sacks of candies dumped alongside the road Nov. 28.

Some of the victims said they ate candies and took some which they gave to their classmates.

Most of the children who ate the candies later complained of stomach and head pains and fever. Some suffered vomiting.

Alarmed about the kids who fell ill, officials and teachers of the two schools immediately sought assistance of health personnel in the town.

The health personnel took samples of the candies, which were believed to have expired, and submitted them to the central office of the Bureau of Food and Drugs central office for laboratory tests.

Chief Supt. Eugene G. Martin, regional police director, said the sacks containing the candies were dumped at several places alongside the Abatan-Mankayan-Cervantes Road and in Barangay Balili, which is off the main road.

He said that most of the confiscated candies were believed to have come from China, noting the Chinese characters in the wrappers.

Galuten assailed the people who carelessly dumped the sacks of candies near the two schools, saying that they may have the evil motive in doing so.

They disposed of the expired candies near populated areas instead of burning them or throwing them in steep ravines.

Health authorities said symptoms experienced by the children, such as stomach and head pains aggravated by fever and vomiting were signs of food poisoning. – With a report from Dexter See


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