‘Labo-labo’ for Baguio politicians next year

>> Sunday, November 29, 2009

BAGUIO CITY -- Baguio’s political landscape for the 2010 polls will be a labo-labo. No it is not that politicians would be joining the party of former mayor Ramon “Jun” Labo, the popular faith healer who has not yet signified his intention to run.

Rather, aspirants for elective positions in the city have taken more interesting positions in times of political parties or affiliations.

Wednesday morning, the line up of Sen. Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party filed their candidacies making the congressional, mayoral and vice-mayoral races here.

Councilor Rocky Thomas Balisong filed his congressional bid Thursday at the Commission on Elections office here making the lone legislative seat an eight-cornered fight.

Incumbents Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr.’s (Independent), councilor Nicasio Aliping and pastor Abet Quilala (PDP-Laban), filed their bids for the congressional seat last week.

The mayoralty would be a six-cornered battle between Councilor Antonio Tabora Jr. of NP who filed Thursday, third-term Rep. Mauricio Domogan (Lakas-Kampi) who had not yet officially file his COC and former councilor Jose Molintas of LP.

Also joining the mayoral derby are businessman-friend Mark Go and incumbent Councilor Elaine Sembrano.

The ruling coalition’s local bets here are congressional bet Bernardo Vergara (NPC) and Domogan who have not officially came out with their lineup.

Their trusted lieutenants like former councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia (earlier rumored to be the vice-mayoral bet of the team) were reportedly jumping over to the Liberal Party led by former councilor Leandro Yangot who is gunning for Congress.

This however gave Lakas-Kampi here a blessing with the return of Councilor Lourdes Tabanda (who was orphaned by Bautista’s turning independent) and former Councilor Elmer Datuin (who was LP head Yangot’s vice mayoral teammate in 2007) back to their coalition.

Expectedly like Benguet, Baguio will also become a numbers contest between Benguet-Kankanaey and Ibaloi aspirants with minority lowland voters as plus factor.

Samuel Dangwa (Lakas), Benguet’s three-term congressman is said to be not too old to become governor again.

He is will be be slugging it out against incumbent Gov. Nestor Fongwan (Kampi) if the Lakas-Kampi coalition won’t work in Benguet.

The Liberal Party has also organized its forces in Benguet headed by former Aksyon Demokratiko stalwart and former congressman Ronald Cosalan vying again for his former post.


Murder raps vs mayor, suspects in slay of Ilocos coop president dismissed

LAOAG CITY -- The committee of prosecutors that handles the case of slain Ilocos Norte Electric Coop. board president Lorenzo “Rey” Ruiz has dismissed murder raps filed against the alleged mastermind of the killing and her alleged accomplice due to insufficient evidence.

The family of the slain INEC official, however, questioned the ruling of the prosecutors.

Enrico Ruiz, eldest son of the slain cooperative head, said they filed a partial motion for reconsideration on the ground that prosecutors Rosemarie Ramos, Gina Chan and Robert Garcia, did not consider the testimony of vital witness Isaac Casay, who claimed that he was the one originally hired by Dingras, Ilocos Norte Mayor Marineth Gamboa to kill the INEC official.

The prosecutors based their judgment on the testimony of Robert Baoit, an alleged hired killer, who claimed that the family of Ruiz talked to witness Casay to implicate Gamboa and her alleged accomplice, INEC employee Jonathan Bagamaspad, in the case.

Enrico questioned the ruling, that was approved by provincial prosecutor Melecio Felipe, saying it is not the role of the prosecutors to determine the credibility of the witnesses, but that of the courts.

Meantime, the panel of prosecutors recognized the murder case against the three persons hired to kill Ruiz, – Saturnino Pagaling, Victor Cajudoy and Noel Aurellano, all from Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

Pagaling and Cajudoy are now under police custody, while Aurellano is still at large.

Another hired killer, Juanito Ancheta, died during the shooting incident.

Ruiz was gunned down on Sept. 4 at the INEC substation compound in Barangay Lang-ayan, Currimao,Ilocos Norte.

He was bound for re-election as Dingras’ representative to the INEC board of directors last October.

Gamboa, on the other hand, planned to field her mother, Elsie Romero, as candidate to the INEC board but the latter was disqualified from running.


Sketch of Isabela’s top poll exec’s killer out

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Authorities released over the weekend a sketch of one of the killers of Isabela election supervisor Michael Valdez.

Police said the sketch is based on the descriptions of workers at Valdez’s Countrystate Hotel and Drive-in at northern Tumauini, Isabela, where he was shot dead last Nov. 14. The sketch was made by Camp Crame-based experts, led by Senior Police Officer 2 Gil Ancheta of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

According to reports, the sketch resembled Giovanni Mendoza, who was earlier tagged by Cagayan Valley police director Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian as one of two alleged gunmen.

Provincial police, led by Senior Supt. Jimmy Rivera, filed murder charges with no bail recommended against five suspects in the killing. Mendoza, Lito Magdangal, and Eric Alzate are still at large while suspects Harry Taccad and Gerry Calanday have been arrested.

The 37-year-old Valdez, whose remains were already laid to rest in his native Agoo town in La Union last Saturday, was shot by two motorcycle-riding armed men, who earlier posed as hotel guests, while tending his garden in the hotel compound.

Damian earlier said they would give more weight to the possibility that  Valdez’s killing may be both job and politically-related.

For his part, Gov. Antonio Alvaro of Caga-yan, where Valdez once served as election officer, believes that Valdez’s killing was politically motivated and a political figure could be behind it.

“(The) group (behind the killing of) is based in Cagayan and is being handled by (a political group) from Cagayan. What I’m trying to say is that the killing is due to politics,” he said in a statement.

Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca said the killing of her province’s election supervisor could have been the handiwork of an armed group based in her province.

“An armed group which becomes more active during election season (may be behind the said incident). We learned about armed groups that roam Isabela and sow violence whenever necessary to the group that hires them,” said Padaca, adding that these “killers (are) being maintained and living in the province’s three or four towns.”

Neither Antonio nor Padaca named names.

Valdez was the chairman-designate of the Cagayan provincial board of canvassers during the last 2007 elections, wherein the hotly-contested and controversy-ridden Cagayan gubernatorial race between Antonio and then governor Edgar Lara was only resolved after a month, with the former being proclaimed by a slim margin amid allegations of election fraud by the latter’s camp.

Also, Valdez was the Isabela provincial election registrar when Padaca and former three-term governor Benjamin Dy slugged it out in 2007, wherein the former was proclaimed for her second term amid the latter’s charges of alleged election fraud. -- CL


Chavit files COC for governor

By Mar. T. Supnad

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur- Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson filed last week his Certificate of Candidacy (Lakas-Kampi) to reclaim his former post as longest serving governor in the province.

Singson was the second to file for the top post after his son reelectionist congressman Ronald V. Singson, (1st district) also filed his COC at the Comelec office here.

Local media men here predicted that the father and son tandem are still the man to beat, if not run unopposed due to their strong mass-based and well-organized political machinery.

Chavit said incumbent Gov. Deogracias Victor “DV” Savellano, his long time and loyal political ally, will slide down to vice governor to be his running mate.

This was the second time that Savellano slid down to vice governor to pave the way for Singson, his mentor.

According to Chavit, former mayor and congress woman Grace Singson, wife of outgoing Rep. Eric Singson, will also be his political partner and candidate in congress for the Second district.

It is not known what position Eric, the longest serving congressman in the Second district, will retire from politics or replace his son Allen Singson as mayor of Candon city.

Chavit was the brainchild of Republic Act 7171 he authored when he was a congressman, where the province and other tobacco-producing provinces in Region 1, are entitled to a share from rxcise tax, worth billions of pesos.

Few days ago, Malacanang announced it is set to release P6 billion tobacco excise tax share for the region.

Ilocos Sur, being the main tobacco-producing province, has been receiving hundreds of millions of pesos since the R.A. 7171 was enacted into law. Ilocos Sur is now a first class province.

The national government is earning an estimated P22-billion a year from the tobacco industry alone in terms of taxes and Ilocanos in Region 1 are thankful to Chavit Singson whom they regard as a living hero, for crafting the law that now benefits millions of farmers in the North.

Chavit and his son Rep. Ronald were also behind the expansion of the Mindoro Airport in this city, and other infrastructure projects such as the concreting of various farm-to-market roads and other major accomplishments.


Pampanga execs, clergy assail casino operations

By George Trillo

BACOLOR, Pampanga — Government officials and the Catholic Church here assailed operations of a casino in a hotel and leisure park in this town.

Local officials, led by Gov.r Eddie Panlilio, are against the operations of the VIP Poker Club and Leisure World casino at the King's Royale Hotel and Leisure Park here, citing “immorality issues.”

“We vehemently denounce the operations of the casino even before it opened in October 17 (2009),” Panlilio said.

Panlilio said the province needs more factories and buildings that would offer jobs to the people of Pampanga.

The Archdiocese of San Fernando and the Archdiocesan Council (ACL) of the Laity here also opposed the casino operations.

The ACL said that the casino would have great impact on the culture of the people as this may attract them to gambling.

The gaming facility is being operated by a Japanese and foreign-backed consortium Blue Chip Gaming and Leisure Corporation, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The operation of VIP Casino came after the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) here unanimously passed Resolution 71 S-2008 on June 24, 2008 that “interposes no objection to the establishment and operation of a VIP Club by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) at the King's Royal Hotel.”

As this developed, Bacolor Mayor Romeo Dungca said that he would meet with the Catholic Church and other individuals opposing the construction of the casino.

“I want to clarify some issues about the VIP Poker Club and I want to discuss with them anything they wanted to be explained,” Dungca said.

Dungca said that the casino is of big help to the economy of his town as five percent of its total earnings would go to the municipal coffers.


New CPLA leaders renew call for peace process talks

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The new leadership of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army has renewed its commitment to peace process talks in the Cordillera between the CPLA and government.

Led by interim chairman Arsenio Humiding together with chief of staff Leonardo Bun-as, CPLA told Office of the Presidential Assistant for Cordillera Undersecretary Thomas A. Killip about this Nov. 23.

Humiding said collective interim leadership has approved new policy directions towards the successful achievement of the CPLA’s 3-point agenda – completion of Administrative Order 18; movement for self-determination; and the implementation of a roadmap to peace and development.

But Kilip told the group “the process of internal cleansing entails honest-to-goodness assessment” saying he could help transform the CPLA as an economic force.

He urged the CPLA to go on with their advocacy and reformation activities.

Kilip lauded the group for its efforts like ridding the organization of misfits. On Oct. 22, a manifesto declaring their loss of confidence in the leadership of Mailed Molina was signed by different zone commands of the CPLA.

Humiding was selected to replace Molina as interim chairman until the CPLA congress to be held next year.

Humiding informed Kilip that a CPLA panel was also created composed of Leonardo Bun-as, Tirso Iwangga, Miguel Assud, Randy Banganan and Arsenio Humiding to negotiate the continuing integration of the CPLA into the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

According to Humiding, the CPLA is set to investigate illegal activities of Molina.

Oplan Dalus Team Leader Tirso Iwangga told Kilip that since the unification of Balweg-Molina factions, Molina did not have a clear vision and agenda for the organization and for the Cordillerans as well but an agenda for his own self-vested interests. “He totally disregarded the homegrown principle of collective decision-making,” Iwangga said.

Bun-as said the command in Kalinga had long signed a resolution declaring Molina persona non grata.

He also mentioned that sometime in 1987, the CPLA actually expelled Molina. The present declaration on loss of confidence therefore concludes the past actions of the Kalinga Command.

Members of the Abra Command, Molina’s perceived strongest ally, said that Molina hindered the organization from moving onwards.

The Abra CPLA members said, “Nagladaw kayo nga nakariing, apay nga tatta lang, ado koma naaramidan yon.” (You woke up late, you should have decided on this earlier. Your group should have done a lot).


Cordillera SONA projects on sked; GMA built more roads, bridges than other presidents says Domingo

BAGUIO CITY – No other president has surpassed President Arroyo’s record of building roads and bridges in the country, according to Dept. Public Works and Highways Sec. Victor A. Domingo.

The newly-appointed Secretary, who traces his roots from Laoag City, said he may be holding his new post a little more than 200 days before the elections but he could still make an impact implementing DPWH programs by building or rehabilitating more roads and bridges like the President.

He said here part of his programs, though these may take longer than his term, includes making the main road from Manila to Laoag a “super highway,” implementing a drainage plan for Metro Manila and Laguna de Bay.

Domingo said under a fast response disaster mitigation program he implemented when he assumed office, the impact of Typhoon Pepeng was addressed.

In the Cordillera, he said roads like the Marcos, Naguillan, Kennon and Halsema highways were opened earlier as there were three shifts of workers 24 hours a day.

This, as contrary to published reports that the Cervantes - Mankayan- Abatan Road project in Benguet is suffering from delays, the DPWH clarified that the road project was ahead of schedule.

In a report, DPWH Philippine Japan Highway Loan Project Director Vicente Perez said that the project is already 39.3% complete, ahead of 17.02% compared to its scheduled accomplishment rating.

“Much of the programmed works are completed even before the inclement weather was experienced in the Cordillera during the past few weeks. We even advised the contractor to take necessary action plan to catch up for the lost of time during the visit of Typhoon Emong in Northern Luzon,” Perez said.

The Cervantes-Mankayan-Abatan Road project is one of the DPWH priority projects as it is considered as a heritage highway linking the historical rich Ilocos Region and the indigenous tourist spots in Cordillera.

This P682 Million project involves the construction of 7.6 kilometers of Portland concrete cement pavement, 17.6 kilometers of asphalt cement pavement, improvement of drainage system, slope protection structures and rehabilitation of 5 existing bridges. The project is jointly funded by the Government of the Philippines and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, it is scheduled to be completed by February 2010.

Meanwhile, the realization of Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao Road Project was established by the DPWH as essential in boosting the economy of affected areas. “It is also considered to be a factor to poverty alleviation since this road is very vital for economic, political, and social interaction within the locality,” said a DPWH report.

"It will also promote regional development such as upland agriculture, tourism, and mining. It will also facilitate lower transport cost of goods and services. White water rafting along the Chico River will be readily accessible upon the completion of the road networks improvement."

Gov. Floydelia S. Diazen of Kalinga earlier said oshe was thankful of the SONA Project because they had been longing for this kind of project for it would link all the municipalities of Kalinga and it would be easier to access the people.

Store-owners Norma and Jaime Gonzeles of BarangayLocug, Tabuk said they were grateful for the concreting of their old road as this has made their business more profitable because travelers have increased in traversing the Bontok-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road instead of taking the long trip via Isabela going to Baguio.

Farmer Alonso Fattit of said the SONA project has made their life easier since all their produce can now be easily brought to the market. Out-of-school youths in their barangay now are making money since the contractor of the project has given them jobs as skilled workers.
Regional Director Roy L. Manao of DPWH-Cordillera is working overtime to complete the project on scheduled, the report said..

Manao with his RPMO-SONA Project Manager Alexander Castañeda and project engineers are reportedly oversee the actual progress of the project trough regular field inspection in compliance with a DPWH central office directive.

Manao said in the report implementation of the project was divided into two sections, the P948.322 million Bontoc-Tinglayan Boundary Road (section 1) having a 12.82 % accomplishment and the P2,340.599 million Tinglayan Boudary-Tabuk Road (section 2) having a 31.12% accomplishment as of April 20, 2009.

The improvement of Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao was envisioned to strengthen east-west link as it will spur economic linkages between CAR and Region II and will hasten a north-south mountain link between mountainous provinces such as Mountain Province, Kalinga and Apayao.
The only problem the DPWH is reportedly encountering is road-right-of-way issues particularly at Bontoc side wherein affected landowners don’t cooperate.

“We are conducting regular dialogues with barangay and local officials in order to achieve smooth implementation of the project,” Castañeda said in the report.

Barangay Captain Mariano Way-yas of Barangay Tocucan, Bontoc, Mt. Province said they were not against the widening and improvement of the road because it will be very beneficial to them, adding they were only asking for a just compensation of their affected lots because those lands were owned by their forefathers. -- AD


Ifugao rice terraces get $50,000 UNESCO fund for rehabilitation

LAGAWE, Ifugao– The Ifugao Rice Terraces, known worldwide for its splendor, got a $50,000 grant from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) for its rehabilitation.

Ifugao Gov. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. bared this here saying the series of typhoons severely affected the rice terraces.

The governor said the fund would be used to rehabilitate rice terraces destroued by tyuphoons which reduced harvest especially when the “Tinawon” rice (a native rice variety that has gained prominence) is open for export.

“In previous years, our ancestors could predict when the rain comes and consider it as a blessing. But now, because of climate change, rains have become destructive to our farmers, even causing pestilence in our rice terraces,” Baguilat said said during the recent Accelerated anti-Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) forum and Barangay Nutrition Scholars Congress at the Lagawe Central School in Barangay Poblacion here.

“While we cannot ascertain yet, definitely it will affect our production,” he added. “In fact, we are asking the Department of Agriculture to repair our irrigation system. And this is the first time that the National Irrigation Administration is assisting us because of the destruction.”

The Unesco grant will onlyh be used for rehabilitation of rice terraces in Banaue, Mayoyao, Hungduan and Kiangan towns.


MRT system to link QC with Bulacan

SAN JOSE DEL MONTE CITY, Bulacan – Good news for Bulakenyos.

The national and local governments have finally started negotiations for the construction of the $2-billion project extending the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system here, City Mayor Angelito Sarmiento said Nov. 17.

Sarmiento said during the consultative meeting held at Pecsonville Subdivision covered court that he expressed full support for the project because this will not only benefit his constituents but all Bulakenyos.

Sarmiento believes construction and the operation of the project could provide employment opportunities to the people in this city and will also enhance business in Bulacan.

Present during the meeting were representatives from the Department of Transportation and Communications, private contractors, officials of the barangays to be affected, particularly in Caloocan City, Quezon City, and San Jose Del Monte City. Also present were Councilors Celso Francisco and Giovanni Capricho, and Superintendent Reynaldo Ramirez, city police chief. -- FV


Ecija vice gov, Robin's brother seal tandem

CABANATUAN CITY– The highly anticipated showdown between the Umalis and the Josons in 2010 has been sealed after incumbent Vice Gov. Edward Thomas Joson and movie actor, Senior Board Member Rommel Padilla were proclaimed here Tuesday as the standard-bearer for governor and vice governor, respectively, of the Joson-led Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija.

Edward Thomas, son of former four-time governor Tomas Joson III and Padilla were named Balane’s bets to challenge the reelection bid of incumbent Gov. Aurelio Umali and his running mate, businessman Gay Padiernos of the Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago.

Edward Thomas, in accepting the party nomination to be the standard-bearer for governor, said that his decision to run against Umali is a fight of Novo Ecijanos who expected to receive the support and assistance of the incumbent governor but who went home frustrated and empty-handed because he (Umali) wasn’t there when they needed him most.

“My candidacy is a fight of many Novo Ecijanos who went to the provincial Capitol to seek the help of the incumbent but who were unable to see him because he was inaccessible. It is a fight of Novo Ecijanos who chanced upon him but could not enter the governor’s office because of red tape. And it is a fight for the poor and helpless people who brought with them medical receipts for health services but who were sadly turned away,” he said in Filipino.

He continued that the fight against Umali is also a campaign against the governor’s civil security unit, considered to be his private army and for the welfare of local government units which failed to get their just share of taxes from the quarrying operations of the provincial government.

Aside from Tomas III, Balane’s chairman emeritus, the proclamation was also graced by first district Rep. Eduardo Nonato, former vice governors Mariano Cristino and Eduardo IV, Mariano Cristino’s wife, comebacking former three-term congresswoman Josie Manuel-Joson; fourth district Rep. Rodolfo Antonino and board members and municipal mayors.

At a press would have won hands-down a second term as vice governor. “It’s a risk for me because if I ran for reelection, I have a 60 to 70 percent chance of winning. But I decided to run for governor because I could no longer bear seeing Umali win a second and third term in the Capitol to the detriment of Novo Ecijanos,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Aurelio Umali and company filed their COCs under the newly-formed Unang Sigaw (Partido ng Pagbabago) in coalition with the ruling majority party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

In a short address before the formal filing of COCs, Umali stated that the newly-coalesced party stands for respect for the rule of law and order, participatory form of government, for utilization of people power, for pursuits of sustainable livelihood opportunities and attainment of progress and tranquility.

He called on progressive and peace-loving Novo Ecijanos to join their continuing crusade for change. -- MG


De Venecia III joins Estrada’s PMP

DAGUPAN, Pangasinan– Jose de Venecia III officially joined the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) Nov. 25 after turning down earlier offers to join other opposition parties.

De Venecia III took his oath as a member of the party founded by President Joseph Estrada, who remains the party’s titular head and candidate for president in the May 2010 elections. “I joined this party because I believe in its pro-poor programs,” the son and namesake of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said. The former speaker could not join the oath-taking of his son because he is down with flu.

Although Estrada defeated his father in the 1998 elections, the young De Venecia said he had always felt welcomed by the former president. “He treats me like one of his sons,” the ZTE national broadband network whistle-blower said.

Private citizen and political neophyte Joey de Venecia has never run or been appointed to any government position. He will be part of the PMP’s heavyweight senatorial lineup which will include reelectionist Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, among others.

Recent surveys show De Venecia III to be a probable winner in the Senate race, with the opposition expected to swamp the administration bets. – JE


Pangasinan provincial board backs PASG chief

By Jennelyn Mondejar

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan– Members of the provincial board of Pangasinan rallied behind their kabaleyan, Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) head Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr. and extended their full support to him over “unfounded cases” filed against him and his agency.

The resolution was passed yesterday Nov. 23 during their regular session held here and was authored by sixth district Board Members Alfonso Bince Jr. and Tyrone Agabas, with the rest of the members of the provincial board as co-authors.

The board came in defense of Villar, their fellow Pangasinense from Sto. Tomas town, and the PASG by citing that this agency and its are the subject of unfounded criticism and baseless charges before head the House of Representatives and even the Ombudsman.

The resolution said that since its inception in 2007 through EO No. 624, PASG has performed magnificently its reason for existence, busting wide-open smuggling operations and other unlawful operations and similar violations against the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and other customs laws.

“PASG has become a major income-generating agency contributing P13 billion in duties and taxes,” Bince said.

For his part, Villar thanked his kabaleyans for their unwavering support to him.

“I am very honored for their love and trust in me. Rest assured I will never let them down and shall always live up to their expectations, waving always with pride the banner of Pangasinan in our strides against smuggling in the country,” he said.

Villar told the attacks against him are orchestrated and meant to discredit him and his agency.

“It’s part of my job. It’s a sign we’re doing well,” he said.

He said those criticizing him are found to have links with suspected smugglers in the country. “They’re hurt and their recourse is to malign us,” he said.

Villar has dared suspended Customs broker Agapito Mendez Jr. to explain discrepancies in the payment of duties and taxes covering his 5,414 import transactions.

Villar said the importations were entered through the warehousing entry scheme where Mendez, president of the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines Inc., only paid P300,000 in duties and taxes.

If the importation were entered under the consumption entry scheme, Mendez should have settled the duties and taxes in the amount of P1,435,980,000, he said.


LP gets Pampanga pols under its wing

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Liberal Party (LP) led by Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has sworn in many local aspirants as party members in this province known as a bailiwick of the Arroyo administration.

A group of Kapampangans also launched the Noynoy Aquino for President Movement to support the presidential bid of the LP standard-bearer.

Aquino, who was here Monday to lead the oath-taking of the newest members of the LP in Pampanga, named the LP local aspirants here who will represent the party in the May 2010 elections.

Some of the LP bets in the province are mayoral candidates Norman Lacson (Magalang), Victor Tiglao (Mabalacat), Agnes Yambao (Minalin), Mozart Panlaqui (Sasmuan), Vice Mayor Diman Datu (Bacolor), and Vice Mayor Jing Capil (Porac).

Politicians who are eyeing higher posts are also in the list, including Vice Mayors Bajun Lacap of Masantol and Juvy Navarro of Macabebe who will reportedly run for mayor in their respective towns.

At present, LP has yet to name the gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial bets of the party in the province.

No aspirant has also showed intention to run as representatives for the province’s four congressional districts.

It was reported that the party is eyeing the incumbent Panlilio to run for reelection under the party, but the priest-turned-politician is still undecided.


Game of the generals in 2010 P’sinan polls

By Dexter A. See

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan — The political arena in one of the biggest provinces in the country is expected to be intense in the forthcoming May 2010 elections because of the expected participation of at least five retired generals who want to seek elective positions in the different parts of the province.

Ret. Gen. Leopoldo Bataoil, former head of the Police Community Relations (PCR) of the Philippine National Police, will try his luck in the congressional race in the second district, which covers the towns of Lingayen, Binmaley, Bugallon, Urbiztondo, Mangatarem Bacista, and Labrador.

Transportation and Communications Assistant Secretary and Land Transportation Office chief Arturo C. Lomibao, a former PNP chief, is also aspiring for an elective post in the fourth congressional district, which covers Dagupan City, Mangaldan, Manaoag, San Jacinto, and San Fabian.

He will be facing a stiff opposition from Gina de Venecia, wife of former House Speaker and incumbent Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. in what is expected to be an interesting showdown in politics.

At the same time, former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is the current Presidential Management Staff chief, is aspiring for the congressional post in the sixth district, which is composed of the towns of Asingan, Balungao, San Manuel, San Nicholas, San Quintin, Tayog, Rosales, and Umingan. The district is also the so-called territory of former President Fidel V. Ramos.

Aside from the three retired police and military officials, Director Silverio Alarcio, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Northern Luzon and who is expected to retire by the end of this month, is eyeing the mayoral post in Lawak.

Ret. Rear Admiral Virgilio Marcelo, an official of the San Roque Power Corporation, will run for mayor in San Manuel.

The number of retired police and military officials joining the political scene is inspired by the excellent performance of Gov. Amado Espino Jr., who is also a retired military official.

Bataoil and Alarcio are classmates of incumbent PNP chief Director-General Jesus A. Verzosa in Magilas Class of 1976 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Verzosa himself hails from Dasul, Pangasinan which is located in the first district.

Three-time Burgos Mayor Domingo Doktor, a former military official, too, has already filed his candidacy as congressman for the first district, which is comprise of Anda, Agno, Alaminos City, Dasul, Infanta, Burgos, Bani, Mabini, and Sual.


Baguio mayor orders probe on new Busol watershed buildings

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. has ordered an investigation on new structures being put up at the Busol watershed here.

The mayor said he directed the city buildings and architecture office to conduct an inspection at the site and work out the demolition of the structures in January to March next year.

The mayor said that it is unfortunate that some people have the temerity to take advantage of the situation even while the city and the squatters within the watershed are embroiled in a court battle over the removal of the illegal structures in the subject forest reservation.

Information on the new structures reportedly reached the Busol Task Force after the survey of the illegal structures was completed by joint forces from the task force, the CBAO and the public order and safety division.

The city was efforts to demolish the structures at the forest watershed last July was snagged after the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) issued temporary restraining orders and injunction in favor of the squatters.

For this, the city filed a petition before the Supreme Court to cite NCIP-CAR hearing officer Brain Masweng for contempt for issuing the TROs despite the Supreme Court decision giving due course to the city’s bid to remove the illegal structures.

The Supreme Court in a decision dated February 4, 2009 sustained the city government’s bid to demolish structures within the Busol Watershed in 2006 by reversing an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals which upheld the jurisdiction of the NCIP to issue temporary restraining orders and later a preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the three demolition orders issued by then Mayor Braulio Yaranon.

Masweng last July 28 issued a 72-hour TRO and extended the same for 17 more days on July 31 maintaining that the city government has no power under the NIPAS Act of 1992 “to evict indigenous communities from their present occupancy nor resettle them to another area without their consent.

He also said the owners of the Busol structures “have a clear legal right to be protected against the summary demolition of their houses as the law provides that the Indigenous Cultural Communities and the Indigenous Peoples are presumed to be holders of native titles over their ancestral claims.”

Masweng also later granted the petition for writ of preliminary injunction of the occupants of illegal structures within the Busol watershed.


Mayor peeved over trash news

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. last week decried attacks to his person aired through the media on statements he made on sources of garbage and other problems in the city.

“Government officials, (and their constituents) from neighboring Benguet towns have never been the subject of my statements,” the mayor said. “They are my close friends and advisers.”

The mayor said Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan was an ally, specially with the BLISTT concept, bringing the city together with nearest neighbors La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.

“It has never been my way to put blame on other people for the city’s problems, or mine more so, when it is Baguio’s call to share its blessings with neighbors in the BLIST concept,” he said. It is in the interplay of words that twisted the whole idea, Bautista, Jr. said, adding reports misquoted him while phrases were cut to so Baguio’s neighboring towns or officials would be blamed for the city’s garbage.

Sentiments from Benguet constituents have been aired through the radio, after excerpts of the mayor’s flag ceremony message found its way to sensitive ears.

The mayor made several comments on sources of excess garbage, part of about 300 tons of garbage being collected daily in the city.

He said there was a time when garbage collection was more than a hundred tons, which made the mayor wonder where the excess came from.

The mayor may have made reference for city dwellers to help lessen garbage, through segregation, recycling and re-use which was misquoted.

The BLISTT concept was born out of the need to share problems and blessings alike, the mayor said.

With the city providing tourists and neighboring towns with resources; the city as education center would trigger development in neighboring areas and Baguio could be jump off point for Cordillera tourist spots, he said. – Julie G. Fianza


Man nabbed in shabu entrapment operation

BAGUIO CITY -- Instead of spending Sunday as family day, a young family man went peddling shabu, resulting in his arrest here during a buy-bust operation carried out by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency evening of Nov. 22.

The suspect was identified as Jhay-ar Manding y Esmael, 23 and resident of Km. 3, Botiwtiw, La Trinidad, Benguet.

He was nabbed along Magsaysay Ave., Happy Homes around 8:30 p.m.

Two heat-sealed sachets of shabu, weighing 0.16 grams and 0.03 grams valued at P2,500 were seized from Manding.

One of the operating agents who acted as buyer bought from him one of the sachets of shabu worth P500.

When frisked later by the arresting officers, he yielded the other sachet.
A case for illegal drugs was filed against the suspect who is now incarcerated at the Baguio City jail. by virtue of an order of detention issued by the inquest prosecutor on Nov. 23.

The confiscated drugs were placed at the regional police crime laboratory office for chemical analysis.


PNP, AFP want Abra out of Comelec control

By Dexter A. See

BANGUED, Abra – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines want this conflict-stricken province out of the control of the Commission on Elections in the May 2010 elections because of improvement in peace and order with commitment of local politicians to uphold clean, honest and orderly elections.

Before making the recommendation, ranking police and military officials who visited the province threatened by hard-headed politicians who insist on violent and coercive practices during elections, said they will not hesitate to apply the full force of the law on them once they are found to be employing election malpractices.

Director Eugene G. Martin, head of the PNP’s Directorate for Intelligence, said erring politicians who refuse to comply with lawful practices have no place in the province.

But he added they are giving consideration to the officials’ commitment for a peaceful elections, thus, recommendations are being made to remove Abra from the list of prospective election hot spots next year.

According to Martin, Abra and Maguindanao are included in the nine provinces which are considered as election hot spots because of their history of election-related violence over the past several decades.

However, the PNP official said reduction of election-related violence in May 2007 and the disbandment of the nine private armed groups serving as bodyguards for erring politicians is being evaluated as major grounds for the delisting of the province in the list of hot spots for next year’s elections.

Another factor which is boosting the chances of the delisting of Abra from the Comelec control is the expected low election-related violence since most of local officials in the municipal level are said to be running unopposed.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Romel Gomez, commanding officer of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, warned local politicians it will be dangerous for them to continue to employ the services of hired guns since it might make a backlash on them if they could no longer sustain their demands in the future, thus, it is still best to uphold clan, honest and orderly elections.

He said greed for power is forcing politicians to employ violence just to intimidate and coerce their constituents and their rivals which is not a good example for the present and future generations.

Gomez said delisting of Abra from the list of election hot spots will allow the military to be able to deploy their forces to other areas which need their services.

The AFP official revealed they will not hesitate to deploy more forces in the province if some erring politicians will continue to patronize violent elections in order to teach them appropriate lessons since violence is not a guarantee for good governance and better living conditions for the people, especially in the countryside.


Pangasinan town first to file complete COCs

By Jennelyn Mondejar

STO. TOMAS, Pangasinan – This town recorded the first complete slate of local candidates who filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) among all 44 towns and four cities in Pangasinan.

Municipal election officer Veronica Tabilin told that the entire line up of re-electionist Mayor Vivien Ocampo-Villar filed their COCs at the local Commission on Elections office at 4 p.m. under the Biskeg na Pangasinan (Strength of Pangasinan), the only provincial political party accredited by the poll body since 2006.

Villar’s filing finally cleared the air with regard to reports that she might run for vice-governor after several leaders tried to convince her to consider the position that will be vacated by incumbent Vice Gov. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, who is eyeing a congressional seat in the sixth district.

The mayor kept mum on her political plans until she filed her COC for the same position again Saturday.

Villar is seeking her last term in the 2010 elections. She was mayor for three terms unopposed from 1992 to 2001, then from 2004 to present.

She is the wife of Undersecretary Antonio Villar Jr., head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group who was an unopposed mayor here for 20 years from 1972 to 1992, except in one election.

In the 2004 and 2007 elections, the mayor’s entire slate was unopposed.

Villar’s nephew, re-electionist Vice Mayor Timoteo Villar III, who is her running mate for the second time, was also unopposed in 2007. He was a three-term councilor.
Other re-electionist councilors under Villar’s slate are Wilfredo Pescador, June DC Noces and Miguel Quitan Jr.

Neophyte candidates under her team are Jean Marquez, Estefania Vengco, Tomas Cas-tañaga Jr., Alfredo Eleccion and Dominador Lardizabal.


PEZA investors generate 8,280 jobs in Baguio City

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — Dozens of foreign and local investors in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) here has generated 8,280 jobs in this mountain resort city and Benguet the past several years, an indication that business is slowly growing amidst the global economic crisis that struck the country over the past two years.

Engineer Modesto Agyao, PEZA operations manager, said the number of available jobs required by the foreign and domestic locators is expected to increase before the end of the year due to the expected expansion of several businesses that require more labor.

The investors, he said, are recovering from the global financial crisis and onslaught of typhoon “Pepeng.” PEZA locators include call centers, semiconductor companies, garment factories, and aircraft parts manufacturers, among others.

Agyao added call centers in the zone are expected to hire 700 more workers in the coming days while MOOG Controls Corporation, an aircraft parts manufacturer, is also set to employ additional manpower to attend to their increasing demands after the developed countries like the United States, Japan and Australia have pronounced the global financial crisis is over and there is no way but move up in the economic ladder.

At the same time, he disclosed two local manufacturers, a silver craft producer and garments maker, have already signified their intention to register with PEZA in order to enhance their export products so that they could avail of the incentives which could help their companies grow and help in increasing employment opportunities for local residents.

Among the incentives granted to companies registered in the different economic zones nationwide include income tax holiday for four to eight years, payment of five-percent gross taxes to the national government and host communities, exemption from payment of import and export duties and lesser tax privileges for those engaged in the business for a longer period of time.

The Baguio-based PEZA has one of the best records in terms of collecting the fees due from its locators since the foreign and domestic investments have already established a bonding with their host communities, thus, they are not delinquent in their payments.


Bizmen assail ‘closure’ of Session Road; mayor says careful planning was done

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – Session road businessmen assailed partial closure of the city’s main road, in preparation for its being a “green lane” last week but Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. said traffic experiments were done with careful planning.

“Other roads being outlined for experimental status are being planned by traffic experts, engineers and planners; all technical people,” the mayor added. “The procedures are well-thought of, and not overnight ideas that sprung out from nowhere. The reason for periods of experimentation is to see if the concept would work well.”

Bautista, Jr. earlier announced the experimental partial closure of Session road, particularly the lane for vehicles going up. The experiment with the road being a green lane starts December 1, with only the downward lane to be used by vehicles, also going downwards, thus minimizing traffic and eliminating excessive exhaust smoke.

Vehicles using the upward lane shall be re-routed to other roads.

A bicycle lane within the same area is envisioned next, the mayor said.

The moves are geared towards “pedestrianization” of the city’s main road; less pollution in the area, and a greener environment for the city.

The proposed green lane starts at the Baguio Post Office, with exit points, noted as “orange lanes;” Assumption road and Mabini street. Parking areas, or “yellow lanes” are available along Calderon street, lower Mabini street and the upward lane of Session road.

As for the experimental scheme along UP drive which has been the subject of disapproval from concerned individuals using the area the mayor explained that he shall call for an amendment of the council ordinance. The route being used may be shortened, he said.

The National Bureau of Investigation route may be used for two-way traffic, with the North Drive curve and the area within the Court of Appeals remedied so as not to inconvenience pedestrians and motorists. Sloping areas or portions may be also shaved off or some “road islands” may be removed, to ease traffic, the mayor said.

On complaints due to traffic experiments and re-routing, the mayor encouraged those with concerns to approach the proper body, the city council. “You have a voice,” he said, “and the right to express it.”

As to the opposition for La Trinidad public utility vehicles to use Magsaysay Avenue leading to the Central Business District and unload at Slaughterhouse compound, Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas assured the riding public that a more detailed plan is being prepared for commuters.

Hearing of dissent, the vice-mayor said that a shuttle may be utilized for Baguio City-bound La Trinidad commuters to prevent double rides and with fare expenses fairly within the same level.


Chavit's son first to file COC in Ilocos

By Teddy Molina

VIGAN CITY– Re-electionist Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson was the first and only candidate to file a certificate of candidacy Friday when the provincial Commission on Elections office opened its doors for the first day of the filing of COCs.

A son of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson, the congressman will run as a Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet.

His office said that among his accomplishments are the ongoing upgrading of the Vigan airport to make it accessible to commercial and international flights. It was partially reopened last Wednesday pending the release of P100 million from the national government to continue the upgrade.

In Sto. Domingo town, brothers Lito and Floro Tadena filed their COCs for mayor and vice mayor, respectively, Friday. Floro is on his third term as mayor and is sliding to the vice mayoral post.

Lito served as an executive of a multinational pharmaceutical firm and has been Floro’s chief supporter in past elections.


Technology threatens rice-based ecosystem

Jennelyn S. Tabangcura

KAPANGAN, Benguet -- The traditional rice-based ecosystem of Kapangan is now being threatened by the entry of modern technologies in rice farming and the pressure on population. This has resulted to the alteration of land use and diversification of crops.

This was according to a study by Junalynne B. Ingosan, Jane Rachelle S. Labaro and Judith Ann L. Sally, Bachelor in Environmental Science students of BSU major in Resource Management with their adviser, Dr. Romeo A. Gomez, Jr.

The study titled, “Agri-Ecological Appraisal of Traditional Rice-Based Ecosystem: The Kapangan Experience,” characterized the soil fertility, level of crop productivity, floral diversity assessment, indigenous knowledge system and traditional rice farming practices in Sitio Gadang Proper, Gadang and Sitio Malagyao, Cuba in Kapangan.

These areas are considered two of the few remaining traditional rice-based ecosystems in Kapangan.

The study revealed that in terms of soil fertility, Sitio Gadang Proper and Sitio Malagyao has acidic soil. According to the researchers, this could be attributed to the application of chemical inputs like fertilizers and pesticides which go along with the introduction of Hybrid Varieties of rice and vegetables as an effect of crop diversification.

It was found out that Sitio Gadang Proper has higher organic matter content compared to Sitio Malagyao. The researchers attributed this to the reason that most of the area in Sitio Gadang Proper was devoted to traditional rice production and many farmers still adhered to organic fertilization like incorporation of rice straw and weeds into the soil.

As cited on the research, the decline in soil fertility and soil productivity is associated with the lessening of organic matter in the soil. High organic matter is likewise associated with the long term fertility and productivity of the soil.

The research encourages that traditional rice farming practices be restored like the incorporation of rice straw, weeds, compost and green manures into the soil. When straw is fully decomposed, it will release nitrogen needed by young plants.

The research also documented indigenous farming practices in the area including organic farming practices that do not use synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. It also included sound principles of soil replenishment, biodiversity and ecological balance.

Another factor seen to affect the productivity of the soil is the change in cropping patterns of farmers. An elder in the community said that before, majority of the community are planting traditional rice varieties while at present only 66% of the farmers are planting. In additional, rice is often followed by vegetables that consume large quantities of nutrients.

The different indigenous farming practices such as butchering of pig or chicken before planting have partly undergone modifications because of the introduction of Christian Religion as well as with formal education with the present generations. Some farming practices such as man-alado is being replaced by modern technological instruments such as fuel-driven machines.

The conclusions and implications of the study read, “Over-all, these directions seem to lead, albeit slowly, to the future loss of the threatened traditional rice-based ecosystems, which are very fragile by their nature. Something should be done to preserve this rich showcase of human and environment dynamics, before they are forever gone.


Pinococ, gateway to Cagayan Valley

By Francis Degay

PINUKPUK, Kalinga. Pinococ is one among the 23 barangays of this town with 133 households. Majority of its constituents belong to the Pinukpuk tribe while the rest are Tulgao tribe of Tinglayan and Itaois of the Cagayan valley.

The major source of livelihood of its people is rice with corn farming as the secondary crop. Most of the farmers raise backyard chickens, goats, vegetables and fruit trees to supplement their income. Recently, the Pinococ Communal Pastureland Association composed of 44 members converted about 1,000 ha. into a pasture land with 200 heads of cattle.

Sometime last year, the local government unit of Tuao, Cagayan wanted to take over Pinococ as one of its barangays but its constituents fought back. Settlement of the case is still ongoing.

To local folk, life is just fine with the town as part of Kalinga. Resident “Totik” Sangdaan said rural development projects of the Central Cordillera Agricultural Programme (CECAP) 1 and 2 have helped the people.

The potable water system is still being used, the paper and acacia that grow robustly serve as shed and the fruits trees that were distributed to some individuals are bearing fruits.” Although we are from the center, we enjoy healthy and peaceful lives, he said.”

Each household water user pays P10.00 and P20.00 as monthly payment and annual due respectively. The money being collected is used for water system maintenance.

The farm- to-market roads are maintained through the free labor or “gratis” scheme. According to some people interviewed, the distance from the barangay to the center of government at Pinukpuk is too far and it took a long time for the government to deliver its services to the barangay.

The government center at Poblacion takes about 2-3 hours ride through Piat and Tuao, Cagayan. Passenger jeepneys are used in the transportation which are scheduled 2 to 3 times a week. Another shorter route may be utilized but it is too dangerous because one has to ride a bamboo raft along the Chico river.

From the barangay to the nearest town of Piat, the fare of jeepney is P10.00 per person while the use of a cart driven by a hand tractor engine (kuliglig) is P15.00 per passenger.

It has a pre-school and elementary school. High school students attend their studies at Piat, Tuao, Tuguegarao City and at Poblacion, Pinukpuk junction.

Pinukpuk SB member Roger Caymo, a three-term councilor, has perception that the barangays of Pinukpuk and other places nationwide will have fast development if local chief executives and sangguniang bayan members unite and come up with important and synchronized programs/projects. And self interests must be set aside. He said “chaos arises when the public servants have no political will and transparency.”

Pinukpuk is a first class municipality. It is endowed with rich natural resources and fertile soil conducive for agriculture.

The municipality is unique because it has two municipal halls, one at the Pinukpuk junction and the other at Taga, further up the Saltan river. Saltan river is one of the cleanest river nationwide. It has been used to transport products from Pinukpuk to Tuao through the use of bamboo rafts before the bridge was constructed that connects Piat and Tuao.


Media groups’ statements on Maguindanao massacre


(The Northern Philippine Times prints the following statements from media colleagues in solidarity on outrage over the massacre of more than 50 persons composed of lawyers, journalists, supporters of an aspiring candidate and innocent civilians in Maguindanao)
November 23 was a dark day for the media community, civil society and the Philippine nation as a whole. The violent incident in Maguindanao did not only desecrate our continuing struggle for press freedom but it desecrated all levels of democracy such as right to life.

The carnage that claimed lives of 22 people -- journalists, women and civilians, only mirrored how rich was the culture of violence that was being carried out by people who continue to abuse their powers, and how poor our government was in securing our rights as ordinary people.

While election related violence is not new in the Cordillera region where political warlords and dynasties exist, and where private armies are utilized at a maximum to prove that they are in command, we do not stay afloat to seek an end to the supremacy of corruption of wealth and abuse of power.

Let us open our eyes to these harsh realities because the moment we shut ourselves from these realities, a bullet may strike anytime in our midst soon…ignorance is an ally of perpetrators of violence.

Being silent in these times when all sectors of society are calling for swift justice for those who were killed, would be an exercise in futility. The carnage did not only send a message that bloodshed was necessary for those who wanted to exercise their might, it also sent us a message that anyone across sectors of society would not be spared in senseless killings and threats of blood bath.

While we demand for swift justice for those who departed and accountability from Arroyo administration, we also call for rage! Let us not be silenced by the sound of gunshots, instead, let us express our rage to start an end to the culture of violence which only perpetuates political warlords. We call for people from various sectors of society to speak up and let your voice be heard. Let us be vigilant. Let us not falter in our vigilance. – National Union of Journalists in the Philippines
We, members of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) join the international community in condemning in the strongest possible terms the brutal massacre of 48 persons, including 13 journalists from different national and local media outfits, in Maguindanao Monday morning. The recent blood bath committed against journalists who were simply performing their duties and responsibilities in delivering the news to the people is uncalled for and deserves the highest denunciation since such barbaric act of insensitive, unscrupulous and irresponsible politicians in Maguindanao have no place in its world.

We call upon President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to exert all possible efforts within their powers to arrest the perpetrators of the heinous crime and let them suffer the consequences of their criminal acts that led to the loss of lives of innocent people, including women, journalists and lawyers.

We sympathize with the relatives of the murder victims, especially their children, who rely on them as a source of living. It is unfortunate that the Philippines has again been placed in the limelight for making history in journalism with the murder of 13 journalists in a short span of time thereby making the country as the most dangerous place for journalists in the global village.

The recent Maguindanao massacre should be a wake up call to the government in teaching the armed bandits that no one is above the law, thus, appropriate resources must be poured by concerned agencies in strengthening the country’s weak military, abandoning the politicized police and crushing the warlordism in the area.

Let be the massacre a wakeup call for all journalists nationwide to continue the love for their work by being advocates of peace and order through the exposition of truth in all avenues to serve as the government’s guide in the enforcement of appropriate laws and regulations to curb violence in the countryside. -- BCBC


Electioneering /Comelec injustice

Alfred P. Dizon

Good news for political wannabees vying for elective positions, particularly those with the moolah. Aspirants for elective posts can no longer be liable for premature campaigning after the Supreme Court ruled that that offense has already been removed from the statute book.

Reversing its previous decision disqualifying Santa Monica, Surigao del Norte Mayor Rosalinda Penera, the SC said the Poll Automation Law has already repealed the provision on premature campaigning of the Omnibus Election Code.

SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez told newsmen the new SC ruling has removed the rule on premature campaigning. “In layman’s language, this means that a candidate is liable for an election offense only for acts done during the campaign period, not before,” read the SC decision.

“The law is clear as daylight – any election offense that may be committed by a candidate under any election law cannot be committed before the start of the campaign period for which he filed his certificate of candidacy.”

Based on the new ruling, infomercials and other advertisements of politicians are now considered as “exercise of freedom of expression,” Marquez said.

Last Sept. 11, Penera was removed from office for premature campaigning after the SC upheld the Commission on Elections.

With this new decision, the SC ordered Penera restored as mayor of Sta. Monica in Surigao del Norte.

In her motion for reconsideration last Oct. 11, Penera reiterated her argument that she could not be disqualified for leading a motorcade in the municipality a day before the official campaign period. “Ms. Penera was not yet a candidate at that time of the incident under section 11 of R.A. 8436 as amended by section 13 of R.A. 9369,” read her motion for reconsideration.

Penera said the Omnibus Election Code has been repealed by the Poll Automation Law as to the definition of a candidate and the rule on disqualification for premature campaigning.
Related to this, the Commission on elections should extend registration of voters to enable those who were not able to do so exercise their right of suffrage. The Comelec had been saying voters had all the time to register earlier and if they were not able to do so, it is their fault.

The Comelec may want to discipline this Banana Republic’s constituents on virtues of being early but then, that is not its job. The job belongs to other government bodies or Congress which could enact laws to penalize or discipline late registrants.

The Comelec’s job is to ensure that all constituents of voting age would not be denied the right to vote and therefore, should extend registration of voters. Comelec officials and workers only work at least six months every three years before elections and they still don’t want to do the job of entertaining late registrants?
In the Cordillera, the Comelec’s regional office in Baguio bared the six provinces and one city in the region has 300,000 new voters, exceeding the earlier predicted 200,000 additional voters in the region.

Lawyer Julius Torres, Comelec, regional director told the media the number is expected to increase or decrease depending on the outcome of the ongoing validations being done by the poll body on those who availed of the registration of new voters.

Torres said the poll body expects to come out with the final list of voters for the May, 2010 elections in Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Baguio City by the end of this month.

During the May 14, 2007 local elections, Cordillera had 789,837 registered voters that participated in the political exercise. Torres said additional voters are composed of new voters, those who have activated their names, and those who transferred their place where they intend to cast their votes during next year’s first-ever political exercise.

Torres admitted there is still a long way to go in educating old and new voters relative to the implementation of the automated elections, thus, they are trying their best to complete and clean the voter’s list before working on the massive information and education campaign on how to use the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
The regional Comelec office is still awaiting arrival of PCOS machines from its central office so they could go around the region to educate the people on how the machine works.

Torres said once posted in Comelec offices, voters lists are considered properly cleaned and clustered since one precinct can accommodate 1,000 voters instead of the original 200 voters for the previous manual elections.

Is this the reason the Comelec doesn’t want to extend registration of new voters? So they can “cluster” the names of voters come election day? What about those who were disenfranchised of their voting rights on account of this Comelec law not to extend registration of voters? Are their salaries not being paid by the people they disenfranchised from exercising their right to suffrage? Such arrant arrogance and injustice!


Games political butterflies play

Perry Diaz

A certain political game has become fashionable among candidates in the Philippines. It’s called “paro-paro politics” where a candidate for political office fly -- like a “paro-paro” (butterfly) -- from one party to another looking for the one that is attractive to the candidate. That candidate is known as a “political butterfly.”

“Paro-paro” is popularized by the Tagalog folk song, “Paro-parong Bukid” (butterfly in the field). The song is about a young woman glamorously- dressed walking down the street with her hips swaying flirtatiously.

Several weeks ago, Sen. Loren Legarda launched her vice presidential bid with all the fanfare of a political campaign. But what was strange is that she didn’t name her party mate, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, as her presidential running mate. Since both Loren and Chiz -- who had indicated that he would run for president -- were members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), it would be presumed that the two would form a tandem under NPC. Wrong!

Instead, Loren disclosed that there were five presidential aspirants who wanted her to be their vice presidential running mate. Amongst them were Manny Villar and Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro of the Nacionalista Party and Lakas-Kampi- CMD (LKC), respectively.

Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Chiz bolted from NPC. With Chiz seemingly out of the presidential derby, Loren focused on pairing with either Teodoro or Villar.

Meanwhile, NPC was trying to forge an alliance with LKC. It would have been an ideal “marriage” if Gibo and Loren had teamed up. But Gibo picked showbiz celebrity Edu Manzano for his vice presidential running mate, leaving Loren and NPC out in the cold.

Last Nov. 17, Loren’s “butterflying” finally paid off -- Villar picked her as his vice presidential running mate. However, Loren insisted that she remains affiliated with NPC; thus, making her only as a “guest” candidate of Villar’s Nacionalista Party. Does that mean that NPC would eventually coalesce with the Nacionalista Party? If not, who else would NPC support?

Three days later, on Nov. 20, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) forged an alliance with the Nacionalista Party. KBL’s leader Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said that the alliance was like a “wedding” and said that it’s a “marriage” he’ll never forget. As a result of that “marriage,” Villar decided to include Bongbong in his party’s senatorial slate.

But Bongbong is also included as a “guest” candidate in the senatorial slate of Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s Puwersang Masang Pilipino. In addition, Bongbong is also a “guest” candidate in NPC’s senatorial line-up.

It is interesting to note that prior to Bongbong’s alliance with the Nacionalista Party, he tried to coalesce with the Liberal Party. In a press conference, Bongbong announced then that he’d be willing to run for senator under the Liberal Party if Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III -- the party’s standard bearer -- invited him to join.

Sounding sure of himself, Bongbong said that he was just waiting for Noynoy’s phone call.

Apparently, that phone call never came; thus, forcing him to hurriedly go to the Nacionalista Party.

With Loren teaming up with Villar, and KBL coalescing with the Nacionalista Party, Villar has fashioned a political machine that would equal or surpass LKC.

But LKC is showing signs of structural distress. According to a party leader, 30-40 percent of the members have jumped ship and more are prepared to leave the party. Needless to say, the beneficiaries of the massive desertions are the Nacionalista Party and Liberal Party.

Speculation is rife that Gibo Teodoro -- whose 2% rating in the latest survey could doom his presidential bid -- might abandon his candidacy and throw his support behind his cousin Noynoy Aquino. If that happened, would LKC put up another candidate? But who?

Or would Gloria cut her losses and forge a tactical alliance between LKC and the Nacionalista Party; thus, creating a formidable political machine capable of thrashing all the other parties in the 2010 elections… including the Liberal Party?

Some political insiders are also saying that Erap might abandon his quest for a second presidential term. If he did, he would most likely endorse Noynoy and the Liberal Party.

And how about Chiz? He said that he’s going to announce his plans -- again -- soon. The word is that Chiz was able to get the financial support of several Filipino “taipans,” who unquestionably are some of the richest people in the country. But his problem is that he doesn’t have a political party and campaign machine to run an effective campaign. Would Chiz eventually decide to forego his presidential bid? If so, whom would he support -- Villar or Noynoy?

All things considered, it is beginning to dawn upon us that the 2010 presidential election will be a battle between the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party, the two parties that dominated the political scene from the days of the two-party system more 60 years ago until the late president Ferdinand Marcos imposed his authoritarian rule and created a political party -- KBL -- that held absolute power until the day he was deposed in the People Power revolution of 1986.

Today, the Nacionalista- Liberal rivalry has come to a full circle. However, the ideological divide that distinguished the two parties from each other is gone. The electoral process today is no longer about ideology; it is all about personal glory -- or gain -- and political power which tends to protect their economic interests and perpetuate their grip on power.

At the end of the day, the 2010 elections will, once again, be influenced by a combination of party machinery, command votes, campaign finances, and… election cheating. With the implementation of the new automated election system for the first time in 2010, there are grave concerns that the system might fail and throw the entire electoral process into chaos. Then what?(PerryDiaz@gmail. com)


Heroes everywhere

Ramon Dacawi

Last Monday provided us the greatest headline in years. Not the other Monday, after Manny Pacquiao demolished Puerto Rican Rafael Cotto to establish himself the greatest among the current bunch of prizefighters.

It’s about teacher Efren Penaflorida being proclaimed the CNN Hero of the Year. For years, Efren and other volunteers have been quietly pushing a cart loaded with books, chalk, eraser and blackboard to deliver education to children of the poor from where he came and still is from.

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney, who admitted being heart-broken over leaving the Philippines where she served so well, must have cried and punched the air in jubilation over Efren’s victory. After all, she was there to rally for on-line votes for the 28-year old pushcart educator.

My eyes blurred reading the headline, aptly written without the quotation marks, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: RP pushcart educator CNN hero of the year.

Heroism, as Penaflorida taught us all, means innovating within one’s givens just to be of help. Mustering his creativity and the power of one, he fleshed out Mother Theresa’s advice about feeding one if one can’t feed a hundred or 10. If you can’t have a classroom, then turn a pushcart into a mobile one. In doing so, he keeps alive the message of “Pay It Forward”, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel. It’s about a boy’s formula of asking people he helped to pay forward, by helping others.

Penaflorida finished school because of support from Club 8586, a volunteer group in Cavite City, and from World Vision, a group that matches sponsors of needy children. His pushcart classroom formula is now a movement. So is “Pay It Forward”.

“Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes,” Francis noted in his acceptance speech.

Among them and with him were his nine fellow finalists and fellow ordinary people with extraordinary deeds. They were introduced to the whole world last Thursday -Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. - on CNN’s television premier of the awards event.

Among the world’s heroes was Brenden Foster, an 11-year old boy from Bothell, Washington. Early this month last year, he was watching TV while he was in pain and dying of leukemia. Seeing the homeless trying to cope with the coming winter cold, he made a last wish to feed them. His wish reverberated across the United States where groups and individuals served thousands of meals. He saw their spontaneous response on TV before he passed on – in triumph.

As Penaflorida noted, this troubled world is not wanting of heroes. Many are unknown outside the communities they serve, as he and his fellow winners from thousands of nominees would have been if CNN didn’t launch the search for heroes.

Indeed, this planet is full of heroes that we need not look far for them. It’s been my luck to have met or known some of them over the years, giving me the joy of writing about their culture of caring that is now Baguio’s centennial theme.

They’re bankers, pony boys, toddlers like Brenden, nurses, businessmen and women, students and pupils, teachers, expatriates, nurses, lawyers, doctors and such. Some were seriously ill patients supporting other patients. Others were or are inmates of the city jail reaching out from their prison bars.

It’s been an honor communicating with architect Freddie de Guzman, a Baguio boy living in Canada and a stranger to donor fatigue. It’s been rewarding listening to folk musicians the likes of Conrad Marzan, Bubut Olarte, March Fianza and the rest of the pioneers in the concerts-for-a-cause they had mounted over the years.

Those years of their living out the humanitarian message of their songs drew recognition the other Friday evening from the Baguio-Benguet Bankers Club..At their annual night, the BBBC headed by Albert Lopez paid tribute to the pioneer Baguio folksingers. The bankers likewise honored the veteran rescue and motorist assistance group Baguio-Benguet Public Information Civic Action Group (BB-PICAG), and former city councilor Dionsio Claridad Sr. who, in 1972, founded the bankers association.

Together with a plaque, the bankers handed an amount to support the folksingers in their humanitarian cause. The sum, together with a P1,000 from a banker, will help pay for the insurance premium for 16-year old Mika. She’s the daughter of Mike Santos, the ageless folksinger with a heart who passed on last September.

The citation for the singing heroes, signed by Lopez and BBBC Centennial Committee Chair Emil Ruff, read: “Heeding the call from various individuals who were in idre straits due to terminal illnesses, emergency medical procedure requirements, calamities and accidents, they organized concerts to raise funds that helped alleviate their plight.

Through their vocal and musical talents as well as their support from the media, they have made it possible for the needy and the generous to meet. They have touched the lives of many and they continue on. They truly are our unsung heroes.”

There’s also this youth group in the United States that spurred into action after watching the recent typhoon devastation here. Two of them attended mass three times on a Sunday. At the end of each mass, they stood by the church door with a donation box. Their inspiring story will be shared at the proper time. (e-mail: mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments).


Monster killers unleashed in ‘vote-rich’ Maguindanao

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- As of this writing, the headcount in the Maguindanao massacre of harmless civilians last Monday reached 57, composed of two female lawyers identified as indigenous peoples’ rights advocates Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, over 30 journalists representing different radio, TV and print outfits, and seven women members of the Mangudadatu family, including the wife, sisters and aunt of Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, who were all reportedly raped.

The victims were on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu for Maguindanao governor at the Comelec office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao when they were stopped by some 100 armed men allegedly led by mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.
The mayor is being pitted by the Ampatuan clan against Vice Mayor Mangudadatu of Buluan for the provincial gubernatorial post in the 2010 polls.

The victims, including their cars and vans, were by design buried in a mass grave at Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town immediately after they were shot at like sitting ducks. Friends from Mindanao say the number might reach more than 60.

The suspects in the monstrous slaughter were none other than the main victims’ political rivals – the Ampatuans namely, Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan.

The lead perpetrator was suspected to be with around a hundred men to include practically the entire local police force, para-military forces and senior police officials. The Ampatuans have under their command a private army of more than 300 armed civilian volunteers, including Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU) that the government detailed to the provincial governor aside from government soldiers assigned in units outside of Maguindanao.

A simple assessment of last Monday's (Nov. 23, 2009) massacre in Maguindanao is that it was premeditated. I asked an equipment operator if a backhoe can dig in just a few hours a big hole that could accommodate six motor vehicles, and he told me that it would take around a day and a half to do that.

When the first batch of police investigators arrived at the killing fields of Maguindanao, they came upon a backhoe. They assessed that it was already in the area days before the Monday massacre. Hence, the graves were ready in advance while the gun men waited for their victims.
Barring any report by the police that again the incident is isolated, which is their usual statement in moments of crisis, media friends from the area say that it may not be so isolated considering that there were instances of disappearances in the past.

For example, more than a hundred people were murdered during the 2007 elections, including those who were at that time tallying votes. The police reported that the 2007 election was relatively peaceful compared to that of 2004, even as records showed that 189 people died in the latter election year. Your response to why nobody was brought to justice in the past is as good as anybody’s.

Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen said, many weeks ago there was already a confrontation between the Mangudadatus and the Ampatuans. He said, “I do not know if the police reported this. The local police know the situation in Maguindanao. They know who are carrying guns but what are they doing?”

Dilangalen, of course, knew the answers to his questions. It is publicly known that politicians in Mindanao and in some other parts of the country, especially those allied to the administration, get special favors.

In fact, the Ampatuans were beneficiaries in a memorandum issued by DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno in 2006 authorizing the civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) in Mindanao to bear arms.

The CVOs became a private army who were then supplied with guns and ammunition by the military to help fight the enemies of the state. They were used as the counter-force against secessionist groups in Mindanao . In other words the government helped give birth to a monster, made use of it but it grew so big until it could not be controlled.

Malacanang was quick in creating the Maguindanao Crisis Committee which resulted to the “arrest” of mayor Andal. Malacanang also ordered the military to disarm the private armies which resulted to the confiscation of 443 “old rifles.”

Expectedly, the firearms that were surrendered were not the ones used in the massacre. According to earlier reports, M-50s, shotguns and other high-powered guns were used. But since, the military and police dilly-dallied, pending the orders from Malacanang, the firearms that were actually used in the massacre were possibly disposed off in the marshes somewhere.

Apparently, something else happened within the three days that Malacanang did not immediately order the arrest of the perpetrators. Of course, GMA was immediately informed of the heinous crime committed by her political allies, and the normal thing to do is to immediately reach by phone whoever she thought would enlighten her.

But things turned out the other way. No immediate arrests were made and the suspects were able to get rid of important evidences that could link them to the crime. Remember too, the Ampatuans are very close political allies in Maguindanao.

The Ampatuan clan had a role in the 2004 elections that gave GMA another six years in power, where Maguindanao gave Fernando Poe Jr. who was known to be a many a Muslim’s big hero – a big zero. In his hello Madam conversations in the phone, Mr. Garci could have been talking about the Ampatuans and Maguindanao.

The “quick” creation of the Maguindanao Crisis Committee led to the “arrest” of Andal Jr. He was brought in to Manila as a VIP (very important perpetrator) as proven by a government official who said that Andal “is properly restrained,” although on TV, the plain view was that he was held loosely on the arms by two men, no handcuffs.

A standard statement of condemnation from Malacanang was also made, but when it came, I thought it was better for the Philippines and the world that was watching if they condemned themselves instead.

Thinking of holding a plus against the administration and noting that not one was jailed for the 2004 election fraud in Maguindanao, the Ampatuan warlords became bolder in their move, violently waylaying every opponent because of perceived reassurances of support from their allies in Malacanang.

The incident also resulted to the Ampatuans being kicked out as members of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, but what effect does that have when close to 60 people were massacred. Pa-pogi laeng dyta.

There were even newspaper reports about Malacanang’s attempt to stop Esmael Mangudadatu from running against Andal Jr., meaning, the administration party already knew about a political disagreement.

With that, how come no one was ordered to be disarmed? Was someone thinking that with the Ampatuans still armed, unleashed and continuously unrestrained, a repeat of the 2004 and 2007 zero-vote could happen again? In whose favor? – marchfianza777@yahoo.com


Democratizing technology

Ike Señeres

MANILA -- From God comes our intelligence, and from our intelligence comes the technologies that are meant to benefit mankind in general, up until the concept of private property came along. At that point, the concept of intellectual property rights (IPR) was also born, and so the technologies that came out of human intelligence entered the private domain, made available only to those who could afford to buy the products derived from them.

I first entered the realm of science policy when I became a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), at the time when Development Diplomacy was considered an important thrust of the foreign relations process. I started with Science & Technology (S&T) policy, but I eventually got involved with Information & Communications Technology (ICT) policy, because at that time, ICT policy was still considered to be a subset of S&T policy.

In the practice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), officers assigned to do substantive work are not assigned administrative work, and vice versa. Due to another practice that only officers could handle sensitive positions, duty prevailed upon me to head the communications and computer services unit of the DFA, an administrative assignment that was on top of my substantive work in S&T policy and ICT policy.

Given the nature of Development Diplomacy, my superiors at the DFA trained me to always look for technologies from abroad that would serve the interests of our country. Every officer of the DFA will tell you that the purpose of the Department is to pursue and protect the national interest, and indeed, it was in the best interest of the nation to acquire the technologies that would solve our national interests.

My experience at the DFA prepared me for my later assignment as the Director General of the National Computer Center (NCC). The work of the NCC is both substantive and administrative in nature, a balanced blend of ICT policy work and ICT service provider work. It was at NCC where I saw the need to democratize technology, so that more people could take advantage of technologies, both the rich and poor people alike.

Many years after my stint at the NCC, I am still challenged by the cause of democratizing technology. This is the challenge that inspired me to write about soliciting and reformatting old computers for distribution to the barangay level, an idea that gave birth to the organization of Our Barangay, Inc. OBI is now a very active advocacy group led by my friend Ms. Elsa Bayani, aiming to connect all the 42,008 barangay units to the internet.

Thanks to another friend Dr. Benji Teodosio, I had the opportunity to meet several leaders from the indigenous tribes and from the rural settlements of former armed rebels. To my pleasant surprise, all of them had a longing to gain access to technologies that could possibly improve the quality of life of their communities, by way of improving their livelihood on one hand, and their productivity on the other hand.

While most of us are fascinated by the new high tech gadgets that come our way through a steady stream of advertising and promotions, these leaders only needed a means of being able to communicate with each other using any affordable means, and to be able to reach out to the rest of the world to sell their products, using these same means.

As agreed with these leaders, I am now going to introduce them to OBI, so that they could get their share of the reformatted computers for their trading offices and cooperative stores. On top of that, I am going to build a system for them that would enable them to submit production data to a central server, using ordinary cell phones as data input devices.

As they told me about their need for farm-to-market roads, I suggested to them the idea of using asphalt that is produced as a by-product of the process of recycling used engine oils. Using their own local community labor, they would now be able to build their own roads without relying on anyone else. As an added advantage, they could also make asphalt shingles for roofing.

We discussed many other technologies that they could use, but I have no more space to write about it. The point is, we were able to prove to each other that there is always a technological solution to each economic problem, and the use of these solutions would make life better for them.

Watch my business show 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in Global News Network (GNN), Channel 21 in Destiny Cable. Email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639293605140 for local cable listings. Visit senseneres.blogspot.com


Press freedom and the Maguindanao massacre

Gina P. Dizon

The recent massacre of 57 persons led by suspect-mastermind Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, is the most gruesome and bloodthirsty incident ever! Among the ones killed were 27 journalists, two lady-lawyers out of 14 women, and other men.

As of this time, the most viable motive of the massacre is that Ampatuan Jr does not want any opposition to his candidacy in the gubernatorial race for May 2010 elections. The convoy was on its way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town for governorship of Maguindanao.

The Maguindanao killing sends the message that it is “politically motivated” for how else could such a barbaric and desperate act of one who wants to wield power to himself and his family be justified? Gov. Ampatuan Sr had been grooming his son Andal to take over as governor of Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu who did not join the convoy was spared from the killing although his wife, two sisters and an aunt were killed in the bloody massacre. The presence of journalists, including women, must have been seen as a protective shield for the convoy to proceed smoothly to file Mangudadatu’s candidacy with the Commission on Elections.

The convoy and its composition sends the message that things are not fine without the presence of the candidate to personally file his certificate of candidacy and says something is definitely wrong . Long time politicians of Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao have had their own private armies to protect themselves and ensure their power.

The recent case in Mindanao has demonstrated the selfish and inhuman arrogance of one who thinks that he is free from the rule of law. This kind needs to be banished for they see the world according to their narrow and selfish interests that they own the world and that no one should mind their own business. Surely, the obvious practice of this barbaric thinking is best discarded much more that they hold public responsibility.

And for Mangudadatu and his obviously unarmed convoy, it says that private armies and warlordism is not the way to be. The obviously unarmed convoy was a costly trip. It cost their lives.

It also cost freedom of the press and expression a downturn in southern Mindanao. Two of the murdered journalists are reporters of a five-year-old pioneering local newspaper. Ten of the journalists came from General Santos City; two from Davao City, another ten from Koronadal City; four from Tacurong City; and one from Cotabato City. Five are freelance writers; 13 print journalists; three on radio DZRH, Bombo radio and DZRO; and two on UNTV.

When journalists as opinion makers are silenced, it is a dangerous world.

The powerful and the corrupt will further become corrupt and powerful. The oppressed and the helpless will be silenced and exploited.

Journalists and opinion makers compose the lot how information flows from the source to the world. From information, people know how to address and analyze issues to make a better world. For what is life for but to make it better?

So we go down memory lane and note that information was shared by blowing the horn, drumming the drums and floating bottles on the seas, scribbling or tapping on the walls in order to get the news through.

In the present world, writers, journalists, columnists send the news and commentary through the internet, radio, TV, and print and help shape public opinion, like condemning a gruesome act.

Yet, in the line of duty, journalists face danger every day. The Nov. 23 killings have increased the number of journalists killed numbering up to 81 already killed in the Philippines since 1986. Press Emblem Campaign reports 59 journalists around the world were killed this year. This, apart from those killed in Maguindanao.

Meantime, Andal Ampatuan Jr who is currently detained and charged for multiple murder frantically pointed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as the one behind the massacre. The MILF told the public that Ampatuan’s claim was ‘absurd’.

Definitely absurd!


‘Cashsunduan’ at city hall / Djanggo cop

Rudy Garcia

BAGUIO CITY -- I wonder how this new building at Tabora Park (Formerly Rabbit Sink Hole) was constructed without a building permit. The lot where this structure was built is owned by Baguio councilor Galo Weygan. A report by my bubwit said several establishments are now occupying the building and operating without business permits.

Several notices were given to the building owner/s by the city building and architectural office but to no avail. One insider who is a barangay official in the area revealed to my bubwit that a case is now pending and not being acted upon by the city council.

I don’t want to think that Weygan has something to do with this. I have known this old man then. He was strict on violators and I wonder now why something smells fishy. I am not saying that the good councilor is now rubbing elbows with his colleagues in the council, reason why this building on his lot seems to be “untouchable.”

“Ano sey mo Councilor Weygan at Punong Barangay Apo Amagen? “How about Mr. Cristio Lagyop of the City Permits and Licensing Office? Did he make an inspection on these establishments in the building? If no, why? If he did, then I wonder, again. Why?
Now that Dr. Hayden Kho has been stripped off of his license to practice his profession as a doctor by the Philippine Regulations Commission because of that controversial sex video with actress Katrina Halili, he can shift to other professions if he still fails to overturn the decision in court.

Of course, Hayden Kho cannot just play the game of Hayden sick (hide and seek) but he could excel more on making sex videos as his business or he could be a good actor or a director for a cheap pornographic film. If he could not still make it then, there are a lot of gay bars out there who are always on the run to have his service. From a doctor to a macho dancer perhaps this makes a good story for a biographical film.
I thought a while that our cops in uniform are now behaving like what we expected them to be now that the Philippine National Police ordered their commanders to implement strict discipline.

But it turns out there are still bad eggs among the police and it’s a disgust to note that those who are rookies or newcomers in lowly ranks are the ones who most often abuse their position. Take for example what my bubwit witnessed last Nov. 23 at about 10 p.m. at the intersection of Upper Burgos and Lower Magsaysay Ave. in front of the adjacent beer houses.

A certain PO1 Jackson Ninjeňa of the Chaplain Service Dept. at Camp Dangwa who was reportedly drunk tried to draw his gun to shoot a companion whom he had an earlier altercation in full public view.

Luckily, his gun was locked and did not fire when he pulled the trigger. Attention regional police director Chief Supt. Orlando Pestaňo Jr. Maybe you can do some good whipping on this stupid cop who thought he is the resurrected Django of the old Wild Wild West.
How true is it that there is a peryahan at Aurora Hill near the intersection of Bayan park and Brookpoint in Baguio? Nothing wrong perhaps, but my bubwit said there is illegal gambling goin on there likecolor game, drop ball, pulley and so forth. According to my bubwit people there told him there is a “blessing” from top officials at City Hall. Is this true?

I also wonder how this activity could operate when it is only few meters from a police precinct and stone’s throw away from the barangay outpost. Another cashsunduan?
The recent massacre at Maguindanao that killed around 50 civilians including colleagues in media is horrifying and should be condemned by all sectors. Concerned authorities should now exercise their powers to go after the perpetrators and punish them the soonest possible.

If reports are true that the reason for the massacre is political and no other than political and the Ampatuans, a warlord family are the ones behind, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines should order the immediate arrest of the perpetrators and disarm their private army including police and military that are being used as security personnel of the Ampatuans.

Those who survived should be given tight protection and given moral support so they can spill the beans on the truth. Again, this column condemns the incident and urges the authorities to punish these berdugos who don’t have the right to live in this world even for a minute. Better still, hang these criminals in a public plaza and let the public beat them the pinikpikan (an indigenous way of killing chicken in the Cordillera by beating it black and blue then singeing its feathers)..
Filipino’s have an additional pride in the person of Efren Peňaflorida who was the CNN hero of the year 2009. After Manny Pacquaio, educator Penaflorida brought pride for the Pinoys because of his Klasrum Karitun. If he runs for presidential the coming election, I guess he would be far ahead than any presidential aspirant up to the finish line.

This, considering that it’s not yet clear if Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio would be as lucky as Penaflorida on politics. I guess everybody loves Manny being a boxing hero and not as a politician. If he decides to enter politics, he could become a punching bag on the arena of dirty politics and worst, could be a knockout victim, wanna bet?


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