Baguio Benguet declared peace zones of Kalinga warring tribes

>> Sunday, February 28, 2010

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY — Tribal leaders and peace pact holders of feuding tribes in Kalinga have declared that this mountain resort city and the nearby province of Benguet are considered peace zones because of the expected escalation of violence in urban centers in different parts of the region.

They said the the declaration, local residents should not worry about the emergence of inter-village wars the coming days.

The intervention of tribal leaders and peace pact holders to the predicted conflict in the city and Benguet came after reports had it that some erring tribesmen of Lubo in Tanudan town, and Basao in Tinglayan, Kalinga are allegedly planning to bring their conflicts in other parts of the region.

According to the designated peace pact holders, the declaration of this city and Benguet as peace zones so that members of conflicting tribes living outside Kalinga will not be unduly interrupted or disturbed in their works, studies, and businesses since tribal wars are considered as counterproductive to the success of a certain individual.

As this developed, local peace pact holders appealed to their fellow tribesmen in Kalinga to confine their problems in their own respective areas of jurisdiction so that peaceful lives of their fellow tribesmen living outside the province will not be disturbed and interrupted.

During tribal wars, members of conflicting tribes who are living outside the province are required to go home to their respective places and contribute in defending their fellow tribesmen from being hurt by rival tribes.

The past years, some feuding tribes in Kalinga have stopped being involved in conflicts and bloodshed was prevented.

Members of the warring tribes were thus able to be involved in productive activities that helped improve their living conditions.


Killer of Cagayan mayor, three bodyguards nabbed

By Armand Tamaray

RIZAL, Cagayan — One of Cagayan Valley’s most wanted was arrested by elements of the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit in Pateros, Metro Manila, police reported Feb. 24.

Alfredo Alvarez, 54, tagged in the ambush- slay of a town mayor and three others in Cagayan Valley, did not resist when undercover cops led by Chief Insp. Julius Caesar Mana, head of the Bulacan Criminal Investigation and Detection Team, pounced on him inside a cockpit arena along M. Almeda St., Barangay Martinez in Pateros.

Alvarez ranks 5th in the police list of wanted persons in Cagayan Valley.

He was tagged as the gunman in the ambush-slay of Rizal, Cagayan Mayor Raul de la Cruz and three of his bodyguards in December 2008 along the national highway in Barangay Maddarulug, Solano, Cagayan.

Senior Supt. Marvin Bolabola, regional chief of the 3CIDU, said his men had a warrant of arrest against Alvarez issued by Judge Jimmy Lucson Jr. of the Tuguegarao City Regional Trial Court for the crime of murder. The families of the late mayor and the other victims expressed thanks for the fugitive’s arrest.


Bocap slain in Ecija City

By Liam Anacleto

SAN JOSE CITY – A barangay chairman was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen her last week, police said.

Senior Supt. Ricardo Marquez, PNP provincial director, identified the victim as Rogelio Martin here of Barangay Tondod.

Martin suffered two gunshot wounds and died while being operated on at the Heart of Jesus Hospital.

Police Supt. Sydney Villaflor, San Jose police chief, said the victim was shot at the boundary of barangays Sinipit Bubon and Camanacsacan, some 10 km from the city proper when the still unidentified suspects riding an unlicensed Yamaha RS motorcycle shot him at around 11:50 a.m. on Feb. 20.

Villaflor said police have picked up for questioning a certain Julie Pedro, reportedly the president of the tricycle operators and drivers’ association in Tondod who reportedly figured in an altercation with Martin for allegedly attempting to burn the office of secretary to the barangay.

Villaflor said when his men tried to arrange a dialogue between Martin and Pedro to peacefully settle their conflict, Martin struck Pedro’s head with a monobloc chair, the impact of which destroyed the chair. Later, Martin filed a case for arson against Pedro before the city prosecutor’s office.

Villaflor said they have subjected Pedro to a paraffin test, the results of which are still being awaited at the PNP Crime Laboratory in Cabanatuan City.


30 guns issued to bocaps confiscated

By Mar T Supnad

CAMP QUIRINO, Bantay, Ilocos Sur -- As political campaign here heated up, 30 guns composed of calibers 45 and 9mm issued to barangay captains in Sto. Domingo town was confiscated by police authorities to ease political tensions in the town.

Senior Supt. Eduard Dopale, officer in charge of Ilocos Sur police, said they confiscated the guns after former lawmaker and municipal mayor candidate Mariano Tajon filed a complaint.

The issuance of guns to the barangay captains also earned criticism from local newsmen here who said this will exacerbate political tension in the town.

Dopale said, however, that the guns were just "deposited" at the provincial police office and will be released once the election period is finished.

Tajon told the Commission on election officials led by by lawyer Marino “Mar” Salas and police headed by Chief Supt. Constante D. Azares, Jr., Region 1 police director, that the incumbent town of mayor of this town had bought the guns using the municipal government fund, then distributed it to the barangay captains few days ago, which he said was a total disregard to the Comelec gun ban.

“While the Comelec and the PNP are totally implementing the total gun ban, my opponent in Sto. Doming is distributing guns to the barangay leaders,” said Tajon.

He added even during the time of the infamous “Saka-saka” time ( goons in barefoot) he had not experienced holding even as fan knife during election period.
He said that of the 36 barangay captains, 34 got the guns.

But Seniot Insp. Arsemio T. Ramos, chief of police of Sto. Domingo said only 32 barangay captains actually received guns.

He said based on theLocal Government Code, barangay captains can legally possess guns provided these are licensed. “As far as the Local government law is concerned, there is no such illegal possession since they (captains) are allowed to posses guns to protect themselves,” Ramos said.

Azares, for his part, said that they will strictly enforce Comelec rules on gun ban, warning that they will arrest anyone who brings guns outside their residence.

Ramos said, however, that the pace and order situation in his town is peaceful, since there is almost no shooting incident since the start of political season although there are “sometimes word war among the candidates.”


DPWH OKs P117 M for repair of Halsema

TUBLAY, Benguet — The Department of Public Works and Highways central office approved the allocation of P117 million from the P12 billion additional calamity fund last year for immediate rehabilitation and restoration of two major road cuts along the Halsema Highway, the only major road link from Baguio City to other parts of the Cordillera.

The huge road cuts which rendered the road impassable for a few days right after the onslaught of typhoon “Pepeng” late last year are still in a punch through situation awaiting the release of the funds so that project implementers could start working on its restoration prior to the onset of the rainy season.

Engineer Enrico Guilas, newly-installed DPWH Cordillera director, said some P77 million will be used for the rehabilitation of the 300-meter road cut along Kilometer-18, Ambassador, Tublay town, while another P40 million will be spent for the rehabilitation of a smaller road cut along km 31, Atok town, all in the area of jurisdiction of Benguet.

According to Guilas, the agency will be using Japanese technology as recommended by the commissioned consultants, Katahira Engineering, in returning the damaged portions of the Halsema Highway to their original form so that the thousands of motorists and farmers will not be inconvenienced by the road cuts.

The DPWH official said rehabilitation and restoration of the road cuts will be undertaken through a combination of backfilling, construction of state-of-the-art retaining wall, and installation of galvanized sheets so as not to affect adjacent areas which could probably give way during the onslaught of heavy rains during the rainy season.

With the said means, Guilas added there will be no need to touch the slopes of the damaged road sections which are having road-right-of-way problems.

The approval of the funding for the repair of both damaged road sections was based on the snowballing clamor of thousands of local residents and motorists who flooded the agency with numerous letters appealing for support to immediately restore the damaged road sections for the benefit of smoother and safer vehicular traffic. – Dexter A. See


Small scale miners want idle lot claims cancelled

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Thousands of small-scale miners in this mineral-rich province are seeking the immediate cancellation of mining claims by companies that never developed their claims and to allow small miners to exploit and utilize the idle resources.

The Federation of Small-scale Miners in Benguet said claim sitters should not be allowed by the government because they only help deny the declaration of mineral lands as “Minahang Bayan” or public mines pursuant to the Small-Scale Mining Law.

According to the group, concerned agencies should provide a definite time frame for mining claim holders to develop their areas and to revoke the claims if not used for productive purposes.

The group said some mining claims were declared over 50 years ago but were never developed by the concerned mining companies.

Presidential Decree 1899 or the Small-Scale Mining Law mandates the establishment of “Minahang Bayan” but small-scale miners must first obtain the consent of companies holding claims over highly mineralized areas before they could claim the same for their use.

However, the small-scale miners said most large-scale mining companies do not allow their claims to be declared as public mines.

Benguet is one of the highly mineralized provinces in the country because of its highly fractured soil and rock formation that indicates the presence of high grade minerals. It is also a major vegetable producer.

The province hosts two large mining firms, the Philex Mining Corporation and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, and at the same time accommodates over 25,000 small-scale miners spread in mineral-rich communities.

Despite its huge number of small-scale miners, however, the provincial government does not earn from them since almost all of the small-scale miners in Itogon, Tuba, Mankayan, Bakun and Kabayan are operating illegally.

The province has given the 65 small-scale mining associations until February 28, 2010 to register their operations so that government agencies could closely monitor their safety and health procedures.


7 Pampanga towns placed on watch list

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- Although the Philippine National Police described this province as peaceful area during election periods, the provincial police office here said that it would place at least seven towns under its election watch list.

Police Director Gil Lebin Jr., provincial police chief, said the towns of Apalit, Arayat, Candaba, Mabalacat, Mexico, Porac and San Simon would be included on their election watch list following reports of alleged growing tensions between political rivals in the areas.

Lebin said the towns are not hotspots but simply are on the watch list to prevent growing tensions and possible violence.

The provincial police chief said that the towns have histories of election-related violence during previous polls.

“These towns are not hotspots. We have just included them on our watch list to closely monitor the political situations because of intense political rivalries and history of election-related incidents,” Lebin said.

Lebin said the provincial police would ensure peaceful elections and monitor all reported tensions in the province especially those on their watch list.

“We will field additional police officers in these seven towns and we will put up more checkpoints,” Lebin said.

Meanwhile, the police chief clarified that there are no reports of election violence in Pampanga amid tensions after the Commission on Elections declared that former Senior Board Member Lilia “Baby” Pineda won over Governor Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio in the May 2007 elections.


PMA studying military's new height requirement

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – Brig. Gen. Nonato Peralta, commandant of the Philippine Military Academy here, said officials are studying if they could admit shorter cadets to the PMA after the Armed Forces of the Philippines adapted a new height requirement to enlist shorter soldiers.

The PMA only admits cadets that are 5’4” for males and 5’2” for females.

Peralta said they would review PMA guidelines and if lowering the height requirement won’t affect PMA standards, they might change the required height limit for cadets.

He said the PMA has not completely rejected the idea of admitting shorter cadets and would consider the AFP policy to recruit personnel who are only five-foot tall.

The AFP has defended its decision to start accepting male and female applicants who are only five-foot (1.52-meter) tall.

The Department of National Defense approved the amendment to the height requirement for soldiers in 2009.

The previous minimum height requirement was 5’4” for males and 5’2” for females.
“The lowering of the height requirement for both genders does not mean that the AFP is also lowering its standards in general.

For one, the Filipinos’ average height is shorter than in Western countries,” said Brig. Gen. Francisco Cruz, chief of the AFP-Civil Relations Service.

Cruz said height is no longer a strategic requirement for the military as there could be many shorter Filipinos with the same degree of commitment, patriotism, raw courage and steely resolve as that of any soldier.

PMA superintendent Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon said this year’s PMA graduating class – the 226-strong Masidlak Class of 2010 – has an average height of 5’7” for males and that even the 31 females in the class are tall.

The Masidlak (Mandirigmang Sibol ng Dakilang Lahing Kayumanggi) is one of the PMA batches with the brightest students, including three “Starman” honorees for academic excellence.

The PMA batch last year failed to produce a single Starman and the rare feat of having three Starman honorees in a PMA class was made in the 1990s.


Hotels, restos group hits Baguio execs on Athletic Bowl deal

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- A group of hotel and restaurant owners here assailed city officials over their “undue haste” to enter into deal with a Korean to develop the Athletic Bowl here within the Burnham Park.

The group said they support instead the Burnham Park master plan made by the University of the Cordilleras.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) in statement this week said it “supports the move to rehabilitate and redevelop the Athletic Bowl, a portion of the Burnham Park Reservation in conformity with the master development plan being prepared by the certified architects, engineers, landscape engineers and urban planners from the University of the Cordilleras.”

The HRAB added it “supports the comprehensive master development plan in full agreement with its immediate environment and as a showcase of the City of Baguio to its citizenry and visitors, in the form of better planning, design, management, maintenance and financing its facilities, open spaces and its depleted natural resources.”

However, while it supports efforts by the city in managing the park including the Baguio athletic bowl, it said the undue haste to which the city entered into a memorandum of agreement with a Korean group represented by a certain An Ho Yul was sad.

The HRAB in a note posted in a popular internet based social networking group said it “deplores that the memorandum of agreement was entered into and approved precipitately without prior consultation and concurrence of the Burnham Park Management Authority or any other governing body / bodies for such purpose, and or whether or not it is in consonance with the master development plan of Burnham Park.”

In further said city officials “ignored the very basic detail of governance in awarding of government properties or assets for lease operations.”

It added there should be consultation made including with involved parties like the now defunct Burnham Park Management Authority, no transparent public bidding to interested parties which should be capable to undertake such a project.

The group said the City Council lacked the wisdom in approving Resolution 515 which gave the mayor the authority to enter into a MOA and its subsequent rescission due to public outcry.
“Public office is a public trust, a worthy maxim for the members of the august body to carry out what is expected of the office they hold, to render service honestly and fairly without fear or favor,” the group said.

Meanwhile, former Baguio mayor Bernardo Vergara said he supports the UC Burnham masterplan.

Vergara was in 1981 the Philippine Tourism Authority general manager, when improvements were made on the park.

He was also instrumental in having the park management turned over the city in 1995.

“We need a masterplan for the park, and we will work on its implementation if we will be lucky in May,” said the former three time congressman, who was part responsible in helping the city get back on its feet after the 1990 earthquake.

The UC masterplan was presented to city officials and the public on Feb. 4, during such time the mayor abolished the BPMA and created the Parks and Recreation Bureau.


Sotto: I'm better than other movie stars

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Former senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III flaunted having the most bills authored as compared to other movie personalities turned senators.

“I don’t want to brag about my accomplishment in the Senate, but I can lay claim that I authored most Senate bills, some of which became law as compared to other personalities from the movie industry who became senator,” Sotto said.

Sotto, known for his noon-time show Eat Bulaga, along with partners, Vic Sotto, his brother, and Joey De Leon, was here last week all by his lonesome, wooing local electorate to send him again to the Senate.

“You can include and combine all those bills authored by President Estrada and even starting from (former senator) Rogelio dela Rosa, including (incumbent senators) Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid, but I still have the most number of bills authored in the Senate,” said Sotto, who served as senator for 12 years.

Sotto, one of the only two senatorial bets of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, also claimed that he tops, among other movie actors or actresses-turned senator, the number of bills authored that eventually were enacted into law.

“I don’t want to brag about it, but these were all on record. Sometimes, it’s not all bad to flaunt for something that is true,” he added.

Sotto, who blamed his 2007 failed bid to return to the Upper House due to the administration’s alleged mismanaged campaign, stressed that the bills he authored are not just ordinary laws today as they all have direct effect to Filipinos of all ages.

He mentioned the creation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as one of his milestones in the Senate.

“Because of this law creating PDEA, we have avoided the Philippines becoming like (the drug-laden) Mexico or Colombia. We saved thousands of lives, especially the youth, because of this law,” he said.

Besides the PDEA, Sotto said he was also behind the enactment of laws creating the Family courts, the Optical Media Board and the Calamity Funds for the Local Government Units as well as the Fisheries and Aquatic Code, the Seat Belt Law, the Absentee Voting Law and the Teachers and Students Assistance Fund. – CL


Farm caretaker of Abra gov shot dead

BANGUED, Abra — A farm caretaker of Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin was shot to death by an alleged close aide of Association of Barangay Chairmen president Ryan Luna over an old grudge in Barangay Riang, Penarrubia town Wednesday night.

Police identified the victim as Angelito Badona Siobal, 46, from the same barangay.

The suspected gunman, Roel Bermudes Afroilan, was arrested a few hours after the shooting.

Chief Supt. Samuel Diciano, deputy director for administration of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera, said Siobal and a friend were sitting on the shoulder of the Bangued-Bucay provincial road when the motorcycle- riding suspect appeared and confronted Siobal, resulting in a heated exchange of words.

Afroilan then pulled out a gun and shot Siobal several times before fleeing. The scene of the crime operatives team recovered seven empty shells and two slugs of 9mm bullets. – Dexter A. See


PAF eyes 3 causes of plane crash in Tarlac

CAPAS, Tarlac -- The Philippine Air Force is looking into three possible causes for the crash of the OV-10 Bronco aircraft on Feb. 24 here which claimed the lives of two of its pilots.

PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Gerardo Zamudio Jr. said their investigators are looking into human, material, and environmental factors as the possible reasons for the incident.

“There are three factors that are being considered – human, material, and environmental,” he told newsmen..

Zamudio said human factor pertains to pilot errors while material factor refers to problems in the plane’s structure or its other technical aspects.

On the other hand, the environmental factor includes conditions in the surroundings that may affect the flight such as the weather.

“But the weather was good when the crash happened,” Zamudio said.

The PAF spokesman did not give a definite timetable as to when the investigation will be completed but said that this will be done “as soon as possible.”

“The results of the investigation will depend on the things recovered in the crash site,” Zamudio said.

The casualties of the incident were identified as Capt. Jose Enriquez Leonardo Corpuz and his co-pilot First Lieutenant Apollo Carandang, who were undergoing flight training.

The PAF said the crash happened at 2:40 in the afternoon at the Crow Valley in Capas.
The four remaining serviceable OV-10 planes will be grounded pending investigation by the PAF.

Zamudio said investigators led by Lt. Col. Fredie Conejar have conducted an ocular inspection of the crash site and have collected the aircraft’s debris.

“Latest on-the-ground information reveal that the investigating team has already in its custody the aircraft’s two turboprop engines which were recovered from the crash site,” he said.

Zamudio said the ill-fated OV-10 Bronco Nr 399 was manufactured on June 16, 1971. It was donated by the Royal Thai Air Force to the PAF on May 2, 2004.


Ecija mayoral bet disqualified over residency in city

PALAYAN CITY– The Commission on Elections disqualified Wednesday the mayoral candidate of the ruling Lakas-CMD-Kampi in this city for lacking the residency status required by law.

In a seven-page resolution, the Comelec’s First Division cancelled the certificate of candidacy of Reynaldo Garcia as it gave due course to the petition filed on Dec. 11,2009 by Bienvenido Ramos, a resident of Palayan.

The resolution was signed by Presiding Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and Commissioners Armando Velasco and Gregorio Larrazabal.

In his petition, Ramos sought the cancellation of the COC of Garcia, a reserved Air Force colonel, for containing material representation in stating he is a resident of Barangay Santolan here and a registered voter of Precinct 93-A.

For purposes of circumventing the law, the petition said that Ramos filed his COC stating he is a resident of Santolan for six months already prior to the registration.

Ramos said Garcia failed to meet the one-year residency requirement prescribed by Section 39 of the Local Government Code.

For stating he is a resident of Santolan, Ramos said Garcia declared a falsehood constituting a ground for cancellation of his COC.

Ramos attached in his petition the voter’s certification in the name of Garcia, and certifications by the barangay chairman of Santolan, Teresita Sacbayen, city social welfare and development officer Pepito de Fiesta, city assessor Norma Saclolo and city engineer Cesar Estacio. -- MG


Cagayan Valley sounds alarm on looming rice crisis

By Armand Tamaray

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- The Philippines faces a serious rice crisis by September or October if the El Niño drought persists in the next two weeks, Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio warned.

“Cagayan Valley is the country’s rice barometer for production, and if no remedies are in place to save standing crops, we will lose everything,” he said.

Isabela and Cagayan are the country’s leading rice producers.

“Metro Manila, the Ilocos, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions where we send most of our palay will be adversely affected,” Antonio said. “Rice farms already planted are dying up and with no rains all the rice crop will be lost.”

As much as 65 percent of Cagayan’s rice production is distributed to other regions, he said.

“It is imperative that the national government should step in to avert a major rice shortage,” said Jack Enrile, a senior adviser to the provincial government.

“About P10 billion in expected crop harvest nationwide may be lost this year because of the drought caused by the El Niño weather,” he said


2 pupils drown in Isabela river

By Dexter A. See

JONES, Isabela — Two Grade III pupils of a public elementary school here died from drowning after they went swimming with friends in a river in Barangay Sto. Niño last week.

A report from the Jones municipal police station identified the victims as Jomar Vesta, 10, and John Mark Baligod, 9, both pupils of the Sto. Niño Elementary School and residents of the barangay.

Investigation showed the boys, together with four other classmates, went swimming in a nearby river to beat the summer heat.

Witnesses said the children started pushing each other towards the middle part of the river but unknown to them, the two boys fell into a deep portion and disappeared in the rushing waters.

The other children and witnesses immediately sought the assistance of barangay officials and rescuers but their efforts were in vain because of the depth of where the boys drowned.

Their bodies were recovered several hours later, their arms wrapped around each other.

The drowning incident was not the first in the area, but many children still venture into the river from time to time.


Power rates up in Benguet after ERB order to Beneco

By Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Energy Regulatory Commission has authorized the Benguet Electric Coop. to impose rate adjustments in distribution, supply and metering (DSM) as well as reinvestment charges totaling at least P0.27 per kilowatt hour.

However, the rural electric cooperative was only allowed to charge 50 percent of the rate adjustment for the February billing.

The Beneco has over 130,000 consumers in Baguio City and Benguet.

At the same time, Beneco will pass on to its consumers an estimated P0.25/kwh in its generation cost as approved by the ERC because of increasing rates charged by power producers, an offshoot of the onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon which has affected operations of giant hydroelectric plants in Northern Luzon.

The ERC said the adjustments are very minimal considering cost of providing electric service to consumers increased significantly from the time the Beneco rates were determined by the regulating body based on a 2000 experimental period of implementation.

Beneco officials said the rate adjustments which will extend up to 2014 do not mean profit for the cooperative because out of the rate adjustment, P0.2167 will go to reinvestment.

The rural electric cooperative argued the new rate adjustments will redound to the benefit of consumers since it will continue to ensure effective operation and maintenance services.

Gerardo Verzosa, Beneco general manager, said the rate adjustments will not have significant financial impact on consumers classified under the lifeline category or those who consume below 45 kph per month.


P’sinan hospital chiefs defend governor from ‘black propaganda’

By Mar. T. Supnad

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan- Local politics here has heated up with all chiefs of hospitals in the province defending the incumbent governor from “black propaganda” allegedly launched byhis political opponent.

In a media forum, the 14 chiefs of hospital said major health care services of the province took place during the two and a half years of Gov. Espino contrary to the persistent claim of the past administration as aired in their latest radio advertisement that all the developments happened during their tenure.

“All the department heads were one in saying that the full development and transformation of all provincial government-owned hospitals in Pangasinan were done under the administration of Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr.,” said Butch Velasco, public information officer.

Dr. Jackson Soriano, chief of Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, said within the two and a half years since Gov. Espino took over as chief executive of Pangasinan, all hospitals underwent major reforms in terms of infrastructure, health or clinical equipment, diagnostic services and personal services, as well.

“The governor was deeply involved in the planning and implementation of such projects,” he said.

Soriano added as a result, all 14 hospitals increased their bed capacities to accommodate more patients especially from the marginalized sector of society.

This, he added, was the main concern of Gov. Espino since he assumed his post in July 2007 to meet the needs and demands of indigent Pangasinenses.

“Pinakamalaking bagay ang medication services at professionalism ng mga empleyado na pangunahing nag-aatract ng pasyente, pangalawa ang ay orderliness at cleanliness ng ating mga hospitals,” Soriano said.

Contrary to what other quarters say, Soriano said “hindi lang pintura ang nabago kundi nagpatayo din ng bagong structure gaya ng on-going construction ng emergency room complex at diagnostic center sa PPH.”

He also said all community hospitals were already upgraded with the addition of new buildings specifically in Bolinao, Pozzorubio and Dasol.

The district hospitals he said will also undergo major development to serve more indigent Pangasinenses. “The people can see the changes and they can even attest to what is happening at present.”

Soriano’s and Velasco’s action came in the wake of reportedly disinformation campaign launched by Espino’s opponents who tried to mislead the public and belittled the accomplishment of the governor.

Espino is challenged by Rep. Victor Agbayani, whose wife was defeated by Espino last 2007 election.

Provincial administrator Rafael Baraan meanwhile said constituents can avail of basic facilities which are now comparable with private hospitals in the province in terms of facilities.

He added all 14 hospitals have upgraded their bed capacities to accommodate more patients.

Baraan said almost P1 billion was used for improvement of basic infrastructure facilities of hospitals in Pangasinan.


Traffic shouting leads to hacking

BAGUIO CITY -- Cases of frustrated homicide and violation of the Commission on Elections ban on guns and dangerous weapons were filed here against a hotheaded driver and his companion over a traffic altercation last week.

Police said a certain Willy B. Fajardo, 32 and a 17 year old companion, both of Cabanatuan City and residents of Crystal Cave here were on board their motorcycle with sidecar when they had an altercation along Rimando Road with a certain Johnny C. De La Pena, 35 , married, security guard and resident of San Antonio, Aurora Hill here.

Fajardo and his companion reportedly brought out their bolo inside the sidecar, hacked Carrera twice in the head and inflicted lacerations in the hands then fled.

The suspects, accompanied by their brother-in-law later reportedly wnet to police Station 6 and voluntarily surrendered.

Search on the vehicle resulted to the recovery and seizure of the bladed weapon measuring nine inches with blood stains.

The suspects were detained at Station 6 while appropriate cases are being prepared for filing in court for inquest.

Meanwhile, an incident of malicious mischief transpired at about 1:30 a.m. of Feb. 22, at Chanum St. here on complaint of Sofia Falag-ey Afidchao, 42, married, teacher, native of Bontoc, Mt Province and resident of Purok 5, Irisan, Baguio against one Kiyo Aquino Venenciano, 18, single, store helper of Tondo, Manila and resident of San Roque Village here.

The suspect reportedly threw a stone that broke the left headlight of the complainant’s Revo taxi with plate number AYM 975 without any reason.

The damage was estimated at P3,500.00.


5 dead, 24 hurt in Isabela, Kalinga road accidents

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Five people were killed while 24 others were hurt in road accidents in Kalinga and Isabela on Feb. 19
This, as another passenger in the jeepney-truck collision in Cagayan last Monday Feb. 15 succumbed to injuries Monday, bringing to 16 the death toll in the mishap.

In Kalinga, four people were killed after the truck they were riding turned turtle while negotiating a sharp, narrow curve in Tabuk City.

At least 21 others were also injured, two of them critically. The victims, along with 45 others, were on their way to a faith healer in Tabuk when they met the tragedy.

Meanwhile, an Isabela trader, Bill Albert Torio, died from head injuries after his pickup rammed into a Lasam Transit bus in Alicia town night of Feb. 19.


'AFP ready for any probe on Morong 43'

FORT DEL PILAR -- The military has evidence that the 43 health workers arrested during a raid on a rest house in Morong, Rizal last Feb. 6 are communist guerrillas, a spokesman said.

“We are ready for any inquiry,” said Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner II. “We have evidence and ready witnesses (against them).”

But Brawner told reporters at the sidelines of the PMA alumni homecoming here over the weekend that the military cannot present the evidence to the Senate, but “only in formal court proceedings.”

For his part, Armed Forces chief Gen. Victor Ibrado said supporters of the “Morong 43” can file cases if they want to.

“For now, we believe that they cannot prove allegations that the suspects were tortured. They were not tortured and they were handled well,” he said.

Brawner said the military believes it has a “solid case” against the suspects, citing arrest warrants, among other evidence, for murder, multiple murder, and other criminal charges against all of the “Morong 43,” besides several witnesses tagging them in ambuscades, killings of policemen and soldiers, and other crimes.

The military had long been monitoring those arrested, a number of them “for as long as six years,” Brawner said, adding that others in the group had been arrested before.

Families and lawyers of the “Morong 43” are poised to file cases against the military before the Commission on Human Rights tomorrow.

In a forum, Dr. Genevieve Rivera, Health Alliance for Democracy deputy secretary-general, said they are filing cases of illegal arrest, illegal detention and torture against the soldiers and military officials behind the arrest and would press for the “unconditional and immediate release“of the 43 health workers.

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, together with Senators Pia Cayetano and Jamby Madrigal and party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, assailed the handing out of awards to two military officers involved in the arrest.


Two of remaining councilors will ‘return,’FM radio survey bares

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- Two incumbent councilors who opted for reelection will make it on May, while six of their colleagues will find themselves out of City Hall when the new administration takes over on July, according to a radio survey.

Lawyer Nicasio Aliping, Jr. came out on top of the survey held recently by 95.1 Love Radio, while former vice mayor Betty Lourdes Tabanda came in third best among 289 respondents in the FM radio count.

Aliping scored 10.2 percent or 30 of the respondents eye him fit for the job in the 12-men (women) council, while Tabanda scored 7.5 percent or 16 persons were in favor of the second time reelectionist.

Former number one councilor Elmer Datuin appeared to make a good comeback after failing in his bid for vice mayor the last polls. The lawyer scored 8.2 percent.

Nine persons, all newcomers, were tied with seven percent each.

They are, in alphabetical order: Laurence Adube, Carlos Asiatico, Roi David, Reynaldo Diaz, Mabini Maskay, Ronald Perez, Lorenzo Pilando, Lourdes Teliaken and Rafael Wasan.

Those who failed to make the cut are incumbents Erdolfo Balajadia (6.5 percent), Fred Bagbagen, Richard Carino (4.8 percent), Perlita Chan Rondez (3.5 percent), Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. and Nicasio Palaganas, who each garnered three percent.

Failed to make the mark were some of the more famous political names including comebacking Edilberto Tenefrancia (3 percent), former councilors Narciso Padilla (2 percent) and Rufino Panagan (3 percent).

Popular names like Tabora (Cynthia Tabora-Tuason) and Fianza (Peter) did not make it with 2.4 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

The higher positions saw the return of the Big Three from the Timpuyog with former three term congressman Bernardo Vergara whopping it up over his eight other opponents with 44 percent, Mauricio Domogan a run away winner and Daniel Farinas swamping his two other rivals.

Vergara garnered 44 percent as his four strong rivals got 14 percent (Edgar Avila and Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr.), 12 percent for Rocky Thomas Balisong and nine percent for Leandro Yangot, Jr.

Amazingly, former mayor and Vergara archrival Braulio Yaranon got not a single vote and was even beaten by his former secretary Rabindranath Quilala who got seven percent.

Domogan got 67 percent, while most of his rivals got a single digit except Elaine Sembrano who got 17 percent.

Mark Go came in the third best with seven percent, five percent for Jose Molintas and two each from Butch Mandapat and former two term mayor Ramon Labo. The remaining four got zero votes.

Farinas whopped it up with 70 percent, with Faustino Olowan taking in 27 percent and three for Carol Domalsin.

Meanwhile, the Highland Market Vendors which conducted its own mock elections this week with 75 respondents.

Balisong topped all congressional candidates with 24 percent, Quilala came in second with 20 percent, Yangot with 18.67 percent.

The rest was 12 percent for Vergara, 9.33 percent for Avila, 5.33 percent for Yaranon and four percent for Bautista.

Four percent were undecided in the top position.

Domogan came in the top choice anew with 48 percent, Sembrano second with 20 percent, 14.67 for Molintas, Labo getting 9.33 and Mandapat with 5.33 percent.

Farinas even counted good with the highland vendors as he took in 50.67 percent, while rival Olowan was second with 41.33 percent.


Bontoc women peace enforcers

By Francis Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province – A group of women here who help maintain peace and order in this capital town town are the toast of peace loving citizens for going out at night and convincing minors and drunks to go home early.

They are called the Bontoc Women Brigade whose new officers were inducted by Mayor Franklin C. Odsey, on Feb. 22 at the municipal quadrangle.

Sworn to office for the year 2010-2011were Caroline Castaneda, president; Julia Bete,vice president; Nydes Buenafe, secretary; Romana Angawa, assistant secretary; Thomasa Agcalao, treasurer and Josephine Ngodcho as auditor.

Coordinators are Lourdes Buenafe-Bontoc Ili and Poblacion barangays, Florence Ekid-Lower & Upper Caluttit, Angela Falolo-sitio Kefa, Samoki and Caridad Fesway- sitio Sadlan, Samoki.

Yango said despite her age she enjoys working with other volunteer members. She said she feels fulfilled if she goes home after her work especially when no one is hurt due to alcohol related incident or when a pupil or student who does not skip school. She also thanks God for His guidance and giving her bonus years.

Buenafe, a computer technician, said brigada work is a challenging one. She said she feels sad when she sees someone bleeding after a fist fight due to drunkenness.

The brigade through its president Caroline Castańeda received recently the 6th plaque of appreciation from Cordillera police director Chief Supt Orlando L. Pestańo during the 19th PNP day celebration at Camp Bado Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet.

The memento recognized the brigade’s voluntary and strong partnership with the police in crime prevention and maintenance of peace and order by strictly implementing the municipal ordinance on liquor ban and curfew on minors.

To date there are 40 members mostly senior citizens. The oldest is Victorina Yango, 85, of Barangay Samoki here while the youngest is Nydes Buenafe, 26.

The barangay brigade was organized as a civilian volunteer organization by former mayor Louis Claver, Jr. through and executive order on Dec. 18, 2002.


‘Mayor armed barangay captains with guns’

By Mar T Supnad

CAMP PRES. QUIRINO, Bantay, Ilocos Sur- A former lawmaker and municipal candidate accused Wednesday his political opponent of distributing guns to barangay captains in Sto. Domingo town, making the community in panic.

Speaking during the signing of a peace covenant held inside the PNP Headquarters here, former Rep. Mariano Tajon, told Commission on Election officials led by lawyer Marino “Mar” Salas and police headed by Chief Supt. Constante D. Azares, Jr., Region 1 police director including Senior Supt. Eduardo Dopale, Ilocos Sur police director, that the incumbent town of mayor of his town had bought guns of caliber 45 and 9mm, using the municipal government fund, then distributed it to barangay captains a few days ago, which he said was a total disregard to the Comelec gun ban.

“While the Comelec and the PNP are totally implanting the total gun ban, my opponent in Sto. Doming is distributing guns to the barangay leaders,” said Tajon.

He added even during the time of the infamous “saka-saka” time (goons in barefoot) he had not even experienced holding a fan knife during election period.

He said out of the 36 barangay captains, 34 got the guns.

But Senior Insp. Arsemio T. Ramos, chief of police of Sto. Domingo said only 32 barangay captains received guns, saying that based on the Local Government Code, the barangay captains can legally possess guns provided it is licensed. “As far as the Local government law is concerned, there is no such illegal possession since they (captains) are allowed to possess guns to protect themselves,” said Ramos.

Azares, for his part, said they will strictly enforce Comelec rules on gun ban, warning that they will arrest anyone who brings guns outside their residence.

Ramos said that the peace and order situation in his town is peaceful, since there is almost no shooting incident since the start of political season although there are “sometimes word wars among the candidates.”


People power reawakening


The People Power revolution of 1986 that ousted the Marcos dictatorship was supposed to prevent any form of dictatorship from emerging again. That was embodied in the 1987 constitution, also known as Cory constitution or People Power constitution. Article II Section 3 states: “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.”

Evidently, the framers of the 1987 Constitution were wary that another dictatorship might emerge again. In such an event, the military is empowered to act to protect the people and the State. However, it must do so without abrogating the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. This is known as the “People Power Provision” of the 1987 constitution.

It’s a “checks and balances” mechanism intended to safeguard civilian rule and at the same time put a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over it to discourage authoritarian rule. Indeed, just the mere threat of a Damoclean intervention would make the President think twice before contemplating acts that smack of dictatorship. However, there is also a dangerous situation wherein the military would allow itself to be used by power-grabbers in the pretense of protecting the people and the State.

On January 19, 2001, that’s exactly what happened when then Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Angelo T. Reyes together with the Commanders of the Philippine Army, Navy and air Force withdrew their support for President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and joined then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her supporters in their attempt to depose Estrada. Reyes defended their action. He said that the 1987 constitution designated the military as the “protector of the people and the State.” But who was he protecting the people and the State from?

The following day, January 20, 2001, at 11:26 AM, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo faxed a memo to Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. stating:

“The undersigned respectfully informs the Honorable Court that Joseph Ejercito Estrada, is permanently incapable of performing the duties of his office resulting in his permanent disability to govern and serve his unexpired term. Almost all of his Cabinet members have resigned and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have withdrawn their support for Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Civil Society has likewise refused to recognize him as President.

“In view of this, I am assuming the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. Accordingly, I would like to take my oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the Honorable Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., today, 20 January 2001, at 12:00 noon, at the EDSA Shrine, Quezon City, Metro Manila. May I have the honor to invite all the members of the Honorable Court to attend the oath-taking. “Very Truly Yours, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo”.

An hour later, at 12.30 p.m., Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took her oath as President before Chief Justice Davide.

To this day, nobody could explain what Arroyo meant when she said that Estrada “is permanently incapable of performing the duties of his office resulting in his permanent disability to govern and serve his unexpired term.” Estrada was never “permanently incapable of performing” his duties. If there is one term that would explain this, it’s a “snow job.”

The ascension of Arroyo to the presidency was trumpeted by her supporters as the “EDSA II People Power Revolution.” Even the icons of the original People Power revolution of 1986 -- Cardinal Jaime sin and former president Cory Aquino -- were convinced into supporting the removal of Estrada believing that EDSA II was a genuine people power revolution. However, many people believe that it was a power grab -- a coup d’etat.

It is interesting to note that Reyes was appointed by Arroyo to several important Cabinet positions in her administration. And the man who sworn Arroyo as President, Chief Justice Davide, was appointed upon his retirement from the High Court as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations.

Estrada was charged with plunder and after more than six years of prosecution -- or persecution -- was convicted to life imprisonment. However, Arroyo granted him full pardon before he could serve his sentence. Today, Estrada is running for President.

In December 2008, at an event where Cory and Estrada were present, Cory publicly apologized to Estrada for supporting his removal from office. Cory told Estrada, “I am one of those who feels guilty for the 2001 [Edsa Dos revolt]....Lahat naman tayo nagkakamali, patawarin mo na lang ako [We all make mistakes. Please just forgive me].” In one fleeting moment, the false façade of EDSA II collapsed. It never was like the EDSA I People Power revolution. EDSA II was a coup d’etat legitimized by the “People Power Provision” of the 1987 constitution.

With the jitters created by a looming “failure of elections,” there are talks of the military invoking the “People Power Provision” in the event that no President, Vice President, and Senators are proclaimed winners in the elections on May 10, 2010. But it would be unlike EDSA II in the sense that the military would oust President Arroyo before her term ends and install her as a caretaker president until things return to “normal.” Some people call it, “self-coup.”

If such would be the case, would the people rise again? According to a SWS survey held on October 24-27, 2009, “Half (49%) of adults sense that people power will happen if the 2010 elections fail.” Behold, People Power is reawakening.


An open letter on rising school tuition

Alfred P Dizon

(Here is an open letter to students, stakeholders, school administrators of higher educational institutions by Adrian Galang of Kabataan Partylist Cordillera.)

We are the voice of the youth. As a catalytic part of this nation, we are again reaffirming our vital role in nation building and asserting our rights especially that of our right to quality and accessible education. In these turbulent times we ask you, public servants and educational leaders to do the same thing and adhere to our calls.

During Kabataan Partylist’s nine-month work in the House of Representatives, we had put forth bills for the youth that have not even attempted by the many who came before us. We lobbied for the approval of House Bill 6799 that prompted the Commission on Higher Education to set up an anti-no permit, no exams policy among schools. Truly, another gain for the students but has been denied by universities and colleges locally.

Baguio has taken its role as a university town wherein education sure comes with a high price. Now more than ever, we need the culture of caring and concern that the city drumbeat as we face difficult challenges to come. Surprisingly, there was no development in the so called education capital of the north in terms of its services to its student constituency,

This coming academic year, we brace ourselves for increases of five percent and up on our tuition and miscellaneous fees. At Saint Louis University, a five percent increase in tuition will strike freshmen who have nothing but high hopes for their education. Not only that, but all other students shall have miscellaneous fees subject to a six percent.

The University of the Cordilleras likewise increase tuition by 10 percent in tuition for all of their students together with the University of Baguio with 15 percent. Disappointingly, this year’s round of increases has even reached 556 percent on miscellaneous fee.

Today we support our colleagues in the student councils as they lobby and face administrators in local table battles in the universities and colleges where the fight is at the toughest. We support freedom loving students who continue to conduct information drives and activities to raise awareness on the issue.

Also, we give recognize the academic and non-academic personnel, who like us, do not receive what is due to them and continue to seek it along with us. Lastly, we give gratitude to our parents and families who will be receiving most of the weight of the coming increases that are supporting us.

We believe that as educators and leaders, it is your imperative to nurture the youth;s minds and to provide them a venue for growth. This cannot happen when education costs a limb to acquire. This cannot happen when profit becomes the primary objective.

To the administrators of higher educational institutions who propose a new round of increases we urge you then, in the name of Filipino education, to bring an end to tuition increase and exorbitant fees. We call for true and democratic consultations to be implemented in schools.

We challenge the Baguio city council and concerned local government units to go out and let us experience a bit of the city’s culture of caring and concern. We urge the council to show and their support for House Bill 2440 or the Tuition Moratorium Bill by intervening and convincing school administrators to withdraw their proposals.

Also, we appeal to the Baguio city police officers to protect the rights of students to peacefully organize and assemble. We also urge the local media to propagate issues of youth and students and support us in facing these challenges.

We call for the active concern of our leaders, both present and future, as stakeholders for the youth’s prospects. We compel you to make the necessary improvements to the educational system and allow students from all walks of life to realize their dreams and to serve the country and the people. Leadership cannot be exercised from high places. We, the youth, call for transparency and compassion. We call for an accessible and quality education.


House of Arroyo

Perry Diaz

In July this year, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to be chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. And four other members of the Arroyo dynasty will be Representatives: Gloria’s two sons, Mikey and Dato; her brother-in-law Iggy; and her sister-in-law Lourdes. The House of Representatives will soon be known as the "House of Arroyo".

But for Gloria to become Speaker, she must first win the election in the 2nd Congressional District of Pampanga. Well, if you listen to Gloria’s rival, Adonis Simpao, it looks like she will have the fight of her life. It’s going to be like the biblical battle between David and Goliath. Yup, it’s going to be Adonis vs. Gloriath.

Recently, Gloria announced that she was going on a “charm offensive” around the country because she wants to change the people’s impression of her by promoting her “legacy.” What legacy? Well, let’s see: legacy of corruption, legacy of poverty… Yup, she sure is going to leave a lot of legacies behind. Wah wah we!

But according to Gloria’s Exec Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, Gloria wants to reconcile with her enemies and detractors before she steps down. Gloria said she didn’t want to step down with a heavy heart. Or perhaps she’s scared that her enemies and detractors would file plunder charges against her when she steps down. Like they say, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. told Gloria bluntly: “Admit first you erred.” Whoa! If Gloria would admit that she erred, then she should also return her “loot” to the people, and as Bishop Oscar Cruz -- who threatened her with excommunication -- told her: “Confess your sins.” Now, these are tall orders and I doubt if Gloria would comply to their demands.

But somebody took her up. Former House Speakers Joe de Venecia reconciled with Gloria. Why not? With De Venecia’s perceived influence over 50 congressmen, Gloria needs Joe in her bid for the Speakership in July.

But what’s in it for Joe? For one thing, Joe’s wife, Gina, was tickled pink when the couple reconciled with Gloria. Happy days are here again! Now, they can all go golfing in China again and hobnob with high Chinese officials. They should bring their caddy with them, former Comelec Chairman and “fixer extraordinaire” Benjamin Abalos.

He’s good at making deals at the golf course. Remember the ZTE/NBN scandal? Well, the project didn’t go through but somebody high up pocketed a huge non-refundable commission -- or “tongpat” -- from the Chinese. But, hey, the Chinese are pretty smart, you can’t fool them a second time.
Gloria’s “anointed” candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro put his foot in his mouth when he vowed to “put the economy in order once he is elected by working for a sustained annual growth of 8%.” Well, last year’s economic growth was 0.9% under Gloria, his mentor. Since he promised to run the government the way Gloria ran it, how could Gibo expect to increase growth to 8% annually and sustain it? Back to the drawing board, Gibo... or better, back to school.

Gibo has been winning in mock polls in university campuses. Well, the students probably thought that he was running for president of their student council. With an anemic 4% rating in recent poll surveys, perhaps Gibo should enroll in a university and run for student council president. In six years, he can try again to run for president of the country.

Meanwhile, Gibo’s cousin and presidential frontrunner Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III challenged his closest rival, Manny “Money Villarroyo” Villar, to a debate. Villarroyo accepted the challenge with one condition: “no hitting below the belt.” Huh? I don’t know if asking Villarroyo to explain the C-5 corruption scandal would constitute “hitting below the belt”? It’s not. But it sure would hit him where it hurts most: his character. But why would he care about his “character” when he has lots of moolah to buy the presidency? What Manny wants, money gets.

The other day, Gibo and another presidential wannabe, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada attended the 25th Feast of the “Tabernacles of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name,” hoping that the charismatic and influential Pastor Apollo Quiboloy would endorse one of them.

A few weeks ago, Pastor Q said that during the 2004 campaign, the Almighty Father revealed Gloria to him. He said that the Divine Providence told him that Gloria was the anointed leader of the country when she was running for president in 2004. No wonder Gibo and Erap are competing for Pastor Q’s endorsement.(PerryDiaz@gmail. com)


Sustaining an ailing boy’s dream

Ramon S. Dacawi

Ailing 12-year old Baguio boy Mark Anthony Viray will have to use up his treatment fund against cancer to undergo two CT scans to determine whether the disease hadn’t spread to his chest and abdomen.

The tests, to be done this week, will determine the chemotherapy treatment protocol to be prepared by his pro bono doctors at the Baguio General Hospital for his second bout against Hodgkins lymphoma.

The younger of two surviving kids of a widower and taxi driver, Mark Anthony looked like he had licked those pesky mutant cells that swelled his neck lymph nodes in May the other year. Soshin Kinderhilfe, a small humanitarian foundation established in southern Germany by a Igorot karate teacher Julian Chees, worked on his corner for that initial round.

With other Samaritans coming in, it looked like a knockout victory of sorts for the boy who dreams of one day flying an airplane. Months after he completed his initial six rounds of chemo, the lump never returned.

The swelling, however, reappeared last January. His father, Ernesto, was advised to have him undergo three CT scans and prepare him for another six rounds of chemo session. Shoshin will use up over P20,000 for the three scans that started with the neck the other week. It will be left with nothing for the boy’s return to chemotherapy.

Moved by the boy’s courage Chees appealed to others for the six additional chemo cycles. It’s pegged at P9,300 per round, and should start as soon as it’s financially possible. He met the boy the other August, when the karate master came home to visit his own ailing mother.

Chees treated Mark Anthony to pizza and wrapped some for the boy’s sister, Kristine. He then left behind P20,.000 to begin the treatment. Pupils of Brent School then raised P5,000 by staging a fashion show of clothes made out of trash they recycled into gowns, coats and belts. Businessmen friends of international car racing champion matched the amount. Led by punong barangay Narcisa Laguitan, the village council of DPS here added what they raised through a concert mounted by Baguio folksingers.

Expatriate Cordillera couple Paul and Jenelyn Paclayan sent a little cash, aside from a vest and a toy airplane to keep the boy’s dream alive. Another expatriate, architect Freddie de Guzman, who grew up at DPS, also reconnected with support.

Other Samaritans may follow suit by calling up Ernesto’s cellphone number 0916 8560455 or visiting the boy at DPS barangay where his dad is rents a room for his orphaned children.
Mark Anthony and his father vowed that when his ordeal is over, he would go on with his studies towards one day becoming a pilot. When his condition has improved, he may yet take on the invitation of Menchu Sarmiento, executive director of Philippine Airlines Foundation, for a simulated flight.

As this was being written Thursday afternoon, Ernesto sent a text message: Kristine had just been released after three days hospital confinement for pneumonia. (e-mail: for comments).


Unida primer

Ike Señeres

The high incidence of hunger in the Philippines is directly related to the high incidence of poverty. We believe that as we graduate people away from the poverty line, they will have the means to buy the food that they need.

Home based farming is an UNIDA program that encourages people in a community, under the leadership of the cooperatives, to grow any fruit or vegetable, or any animal product, for their own consumption, and for the purpose of selling their surplus production to the buying stations.
The buying stations will serve as the nearest location where the local people in a community could sell their fresh crops or harvest. After these are purchased by the buying stations, the crops or harvests may be passed on to the cooperative processing facilities, where these are converted into processed goods with a higher value added.
Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) is an international barter trading system that will enable local community members to trade in or barter anything of value in exchange for value points. These value points may in turn be redeemed in exchange for goods or services of any kind, including food items. As earlier mentioned, all recyclables could also be sold to the buying stations under LETS.
Connectivity is the common denominator of all UNIDA infrastructures. Good connectivity is the critical resource that is needed to deliver and sustain eCommerce, eLearning and eHealth.
UNIDA defines connectivity as the availability of the means to connect to computer networks, mobile networks and television networks. Under this definition, the Internet is considered as a computer network. Cable TV and satellite TV are both considered as television networks.
Productivity is the common denominator of all the UNIDA solutions. We envision livelihood as the main engine of productivity, complemented by education because people could not be productive if they are not educated, and by health, because people could not be productive if they are not healthy.
Higher productivity could not be achieved without connectivity, since good connectivity is the critical resource that is needed to deliver and sustain eCommerce, eLearning and eHealth.
On the political side, convergence has to be achieved between industry, the citizenry and the bureaucracy. On the environmental side, convergence has to be achieved in the restoration and preservation of our land, air and water resources.
The political convergence has to be spearheaded by the citizenry, led by the academe. The academe is in possession of the sciences and technologies that are needed for productivity. The cooperation of industry and the bureaucracy has to happen at the community level, by way of projects.

Watch KA IKING LIVE! Thursdays 7pm to 8pm in Global News Network (GNN), Channel 21 in Destiny Cable. Email or text +639293605140 for local cable listings. Visit


2010 elections 'unacceptable', Burmese activists call Junta for dialogue

By Gina Dizon
(2nd of 2 Parts)

THAILAND- Burmese revolutionaries and activists say the 2010 elections is not the answer for a democratic change in Burma, nor will it lead to national reconciliation. Instead, they ask for a dialogue with the junta-led State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for a review of the 2008 Constitution, release of all political prisoners, and recognition of the 1990 elections.

Khun Myint Tun, Labor Minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) of the National League of Democracy (NLD) considers the 2010 elections as 'unacceptable' with the non-recognition of the 1990 election winners. He agrees with NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who stated, “Holding a new election without recognizing the 1990 election results is like playing a dangerous game with the country’s future. That is why we cannot accept a new election.”

The transfer of power to the Members of Parliament who won the 1990 elections is a top demand of the NCGUB.

The NLD won 82% of seats in Parliament during the 1990 elections but their legitimacy was not recognized with the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. State Law and Order restoration Council (SLORC) then did not convene the Parliament 60 days after the elections. The NLD then met two months after the 1990 elections and passed the Ghandhi Declaration calling for the transfer of power to the NLD as the winning party and convening of the Parliament.

Yet, Khun Myint Tun who is also Member of Secretariat of the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) says, “The SPDC never granted a dialogue up to now despite repeated requests. It is obvious that they want to continue their own military rule. In November 11, 2009, NLD reminded General Than Shwe on the calls of the Shwe Gon Daing Declaration. Up to now, we did not get a response”, he said.

NLD issued the Shwe Gon Doing Declaration in April 1009 which demands release of all political prisoners, review of the 2008 Constitution, and a dialogue. The dialogue calls for the recognition of the 1990 elections and transfer of power to the elected members of Parliament.

“The minimum that we demand from SPDC is to review and amend the 2008 Constitution. But if there is no release of political prisoners and no review of the Constitution, NLD will boycott the 2010 elections”, Khun Myint Tun said.

Release of all political prisoners is a top demand of the Shwe Gon Daing Declaration.

In 2007, there were only a thousand plus political prisoners. Now, there are 2200 political prisoners. “This means, the democratic movement is growing and the people are restless and hopeful”, Secretary General Naw San of the Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB) said.

The Burmese militants and activists are one in saying the democratic movement inside Burma is increasing with more people getting informed and enlightened of their rights.

Democratic activists call for international support “not to support the 2010 elections if meaningful dialogue is not granted”.

National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson and Secretary General Min Bone Kyew said, "We ask the international community including the UN, ASEAN and the European Union to apply more effective pressure upon the SPDC. We urge the international community to ask the SPDC to cease its acts against ethnic nationalities, impose UN arms embargo, block capital investments, impose sanctions, and call on SPDC to hold an inclusive political dialogue for national reconciliation.”

“At the same time, we are calling for legal action against the SPDC in the US Federal Court and UN’s International Criminal Court (ICC). Military abuses of persons in power are separately dealt with from the call for meaningful dialogue from the SPDC”, Khun Myint said.


Cash-a Vallejo Hotel /Macho lady at City Hall

Rudy Garcia

BAGUIO CITY -- As I write this column, all is set for the opening of Casa Vallejo Hotel in Baguio this month. This property has been a subject of controversy when reports came out that this was allegedly sold to a private entity by the city government of Baguio despite an earlier plan to save it as one of our heritage sites.

Whether true or not, it is but proper for the city officials particularly the city mayor to issue an official public statement to deny or affirm the reports, and explain why the renovation and development was seemingly not made public, and even its opening is exclusively for the few.
Lo and behold, if concerned officials continue to behave as if they know nothing, the public would start asking what’s real, and I bet they would not be able to explain the stench of smell of a done deal if there is!

I have been calling the attention of the honorable officials to shed light on this Casa Vallejo issue but it seems they are too busy to answer or are there some reasons why? Is there some cashsunduan for them to set aside this Casha Vallejo issue?

Could this be another Forbes Park scandal in the making wherein the “heroes” are trying hard in their acrobatics to please the public?

They are now trying to cure the wound that they should have prevented earlier. Hay yay yay! Where have all the good men gone? Happy Casha Vallejo hotel opening! Welcome to Baguio Atienza and Bagatsing! Ano say ninyo Meyor Bautista at ex-DENR Boss Peñafiel? Happy?
The Baguio City Government through the Alay sa Kalinisan committee conducted a cleanliness drive by flushing out dirt at the city market evening of Feb. 24. The committee representatives like the sanitary department heads and staff were there and they were assisted by the Baguio City Fire Department and public order and safety office division personnel.

It was not clear however of how many drums of water were consumed in this cleanliness drive. However it makes one wonder why they made the flushing at this time when we have a water crisis.

Nonetheless, I would like to commend Mrs. Alu Meneses of the Alay sa Kalinisan for her unending efforts to save Baguio from being called a dirty city. I could witness how this civic minded woman exercised her social responsibility as a Baguio citizen -- from garbage problems, barangay assessments and evaluation to cleanliness drives and so forth. To Mrs. Alu Meneses a two hands salute to you from this column!
How true is it that that this top official of the city buildings and architecture department is applying for a promotion and vying for a high position at CEPMO? If this is true, I will place my last centavo bet that she could not get what she wants for the reason that she is now in hot water for charges filed against her by a woman whom she allegedly violated of her rights and due process.

I suggest that this lady who is trying hard to be “macho” be transferred to the city hail to guard the inmates who are really siga, and let us see how far she could be arrogant. Baka maging tunay na siyang babae this time! Hehe!


Couple’s sentence

Jhunie B. Wahayna

Marriage is a life sentence, a trial without a judge or jury. That day, the courtroom was filled with witnesses, sponsors, and guests. Instead of the usual defendant versus the plaintiff with their respective lawyers, there were six couples together with their respective parents waiting for their sentence from the judge.

I was a witness to the six couples and one of them is my cousin. I used to watch my sisters, brothers, cousins, and friends walking down the aisle with their bunch of entourage while the music plays and the bell rings after the ceremony but this time it was a different experience. It made me reflect of the events that happened.

It was like watching a stage play blended with drama and comedy wherein after each scene the audience will clap their hands. Some scenes made the audience laugh, nod their heads to agree with what was said, and vocally expressed their comments.

The long wait has finally ended. The moment has come; the honorable judge entered the courtroom. She started calling names of the six couples. Everyone was smiling when the first name was called. The judge even asked the couple, “anong palayaw”? The name was unique. It was a native name and I’m sure he was bullied during his younger years because of his name. Someone commented “indigenous talaga”.

The couples were asked to go out of the courtroom if they want to back out but no one did. So they really have planned to get married. Finally they will be together for lifetime, expressing their love for each other and have children sooner or later.

They were prompted with the question from the judge: “bakit gusto ninyong magpakasal?” Here are their answers: magkakaanak na po kasi kami, gusto po naming dalawang magpakasal na, may mga anak na po kami, para maging legal ang aming pagsasama, mahal po naming ang isa’t isa.

After hearing their answers, I thought this (marriage) is one of the most important phases in life that requires a lot of thinking before one should plunge into it. This is a serious matter, a lifetime commitment. No rewind. No turning back. Is having a child enough reason to get married? Or you get married because you both like it? Is marriage a must? It is not even a solution to emotional, social or financial stability, right? Well, I can’t argue, object or oppose to whatever reasons they have though I am a witness in the courtroom.

The judge then proceeded with her sermon and pieces of advice. Finally he said to the couples, “I hope you realize that today I am giving you a life sentence.”

Now comes the ceremony. The couples were instructed to stand before the judge, held both hands, face their partners, and looked eye-to-eye to each other. We thought they will do it at a single session to save time but each of the couple was given the chance to do their act.

Some of them were ashamed to do what was instructed but the audience told them to do so. Some could not decide which hand to hold and which position will do.

It was also obvious that they could not look eye-to-eye for long. Some looked at the forehead, chin, chest, and some simply looked down. Wonder if they are still ashamed to their partners? I wanted very much to tell them this, “hey, this is your day, a once in a lifetime experience, no more retakes… make it memorable! It could have been more romantic and meaningful if they have looked eye to eye while clearly saying their pledges. Perhaps they were too shy to do a PDA (public display of affection)?

But one couple readily faces each other held both hands firmly, looked eye to eye, and clearly stated their pledges. Does it mean that they are ready to face their life as married couple?
And finally to seal their vows, the most awaited part - the kiss. Some did at the forehead and on the cheeks but were asked to do it on the lips. One couple covered their kiss with their hands! The courtroom was filled with more laughter.

The judge finally dismissed and presented the couples and as they happily went out of the courtroom, they were given rounds and rounds of applause.

Blessings will come but as they say marriage is not a bed of roses. There are heaps of trials and sacrifices along the way. Marriage is what and how you make it. It is a lifetime investment. It requires everything you have and everything you can give. There is no “mine” only “ours”. Most especially, there is no “I” only “we”.

Marriage is a vow. A solemn pledge or promise agreed upon by willing persons to commit their lives to the one they wanted to live till death. A commitment that claims not only their breath but also their whole being. It is not a ratio and proportion arrangement neither a fraction contract. It demands the whole giving of self to one’s partner.

The scripture says that, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Being joined together in the bond of marriage becoming one flesh is a lifetime sentence that a couple should talk about for a length of time so to produce a fruitful and rewarding relationship.

The doctrine of a church wedding has no marriage expiry or a renewable marriage contract that will be renewed for every period of ten years. Marriage is a no turning back position.


Wanted: Peaceful elections

Grace Bandoy

(Here is a contributed column by somebody who wants to identify himself only as JC)

Sa darating na eleksiyon ngayong Mayo, taong kasalukuyan ay gagamit ang bawat Pilipino ng makabagong pamamaraan ng pagboto. Ipinatupad ito ng Commission on Election upang maiwasan ang anumang anomalya at para na rin mapabilis ang pagproseso at pagbilang ng ating mga boto. Ang bagong sistemang ito na hawak ng Smartmatic Corp. – Total Information Management (Smartmatic TIM) ay nagsasagawa ng mga preparasyon upang tiyakin na magiging maayos ang gagawing halalan ngayong taon lalo na sa mga probinsya dito sa Pilipinas.

Ngunit sa kasamaang palad, may mga ibang malalayong lugar ang halos hindi na narating ng nasabing grupo dahil sa pagpigil sa kanila ng mga NPA (New People’s Army). Tinatakot ng armadong grupo ang mga surbeyor sa pamamagitan ng pagtutok sa kanila ng matataas na kalibreng baril.Haharangin ng mga NPA ang mga kawawang sibilyan hanggang sa sila ay pumayag sa isang kasunduan na kung saan ang mga rebeldeng sundalong ito ay humihingi ng kabayaran. Nakakalungkot isipin na ang mga sibilyang ito ay nagsasakripisyong malayo sa pamilya at malalagay pa sa panganib ang buhay.

Mahirap unawain ang ipinaglalabang ideyolohiya ng mga NPA kung ito naman ay nagnanais na hindi umunlad ang sistema ng ating halalan. Inaalis nila ang pagkakataong makaiwas tayo sa mga mandarayang politiko.

Hindi ko rin maintindihan ang dahilan ng mga taong patuloy pa ring sumusunod sa uri ng pamumuhay ng mga NPA. Ano ba ang nakita ng mga ito sa kanila? Madahas ang uri ng pamamalakad ng armadong grupong ito pero bakit mayroon pa rin sumusunod sa kanila. Ang ipinapatupad lamang nila ay ang mga dinidikta ng kanilang pinuno at hindi ang nakabubuti sa mas nakararami. Hindi ba’t kasamaan, takot at walang saysay na pagsasakripisyo at pagpanaw ng mga mahal sa buhay ang dulot ng pag-anib sa grupong ito? Yan ba ang landas na gusto nating tahakin?

Maaari bang magtulong-tulong na lang tayong lahat para mas mapadali ang pag-unlad ng ating bansa? Tulungan nating magbagong buhay ang mga kapatid nating NPA. Tulungan natin silang buksan ang kanilang mga mata. Ipakita natin na hindi karahasan ang solusyon sa problema ng bansa. Tapusin na natin ang dahilan ng takot ng mga tao. Tapusin na natin ang digmaang ito.


Don't make hasty decisions in hiring

Romelda Ascutia

When making your first hire, decide exactly what kind of help you want and how long you'll need it.

You take pride in having started your business from scratch and then seeing it take off without help from anyone. But as the orders grow, you find yourself devoting longer and longer hours to the tasks at hand and often setting up camp in the office to cope with demand. It's time to make your first hire.

Of course, getting help doesn't come without a price. You'll have to spend money on salary, taxes, social security and other benefits, and once the employee has settled in, you'll have to start supervising him and checking on his performance. On the brighter side, hiring someone frees you up to do more important things--and perhaps to get a life.

"The one thing I hated when business finally turned around was the amount of paperwork I had to do and the list of payables that I had to follow up," says Peter Renante, a businessman who hired the first of his two all-around assistants in 2003, a year after he set up his store in Munoz, Quezon City. "It was a relief to let go of those tasks."

So how do you tell if it's time to get help? These guidelines may help: Are you working 10 to 12 hours a day and even on weekends? You may need to pass on some of the workload before you collapse.

Are you forced to turn down work? Compute how much extra income you can make if you accept more work and see if it can cover the cost of a full-time worker. Are there tasks that waste chunks of your time, such as accounting, ordering or answering customer questions? It might be better to train someone else to take over.

Are you backsliding on your delivery commitments? Maybe you're overwhelmed and need an assistant. Are family and friends complaining about your workaholic ways? If your kids no longer recognize you, or your wife is shocked to find you home early, an extra pair of hands may do you good.

Still, don't post that want ad yet even if you've nodded to all five questions. Lyna Esmeralda, a country manager of retail strategist A.S. Louken International Inc., recommends some "forward planning." Make a forecast of your business growth in the next one to three years to get an idea of your manpower requirements.

Once you've decided you need help, define the responsibilities of your new hire. Writing a job description will help you select the right candidate and know exactly what he'll be doing.

Next, identify the traits you need in an assistant. If you want an accountant, look for someone analytical; if you want a human resources manager, pick someone who's people-oriented. "You really need to know your requirements to find the person you need," says Esmeralda. "Of course, in the end you don't really know if he'll stay, but at least you've justified your need.

A common mistake most entrepreneurs make is hiring in a rush. "Forecast demand to see if it will sustain your business" and allow you to pay for extra hands, suggests Lyrna L. Esmeralda of A.S. Louken International Inc. Get temporary help if you'll be needing assistance only for a while or if you think you can afford to pay wages only for so long. But hire a permanent employee if you can't do all the work and your business is making enough money to get him aboard.

And if you can, try to go through the first year without hiring to familiarize yourself with your business' up and down cycle. You may also use that period to boost your savings to carry you through lean times.


Pangasinan board approves nuke plants

>> Sunday, February 21, 2010

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Provincial board members voted 7-1-2 during their plenary session Monday afternoon to adopt a resolution on the construction of nuclear power plants from South Korea along the province’s coastline.

Sixth district board member Alfonso Bince Jr., who was designated chairman of the ad hoc committee created to study the resolution, told local media they “thoroughly discussed” the draft resolution proposed by fifth district Rep. Mark Cojuangco, as he belied reports that they fast-tracked its approval.

The resolution “expressed the sense” of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “to invite the national government to locate, under certain conditions, the KEDO nuclear plant assets or other equally modern nuclear power plants within the boundaries of the province, most specifically along the coastline areas.”

Those who voted in favor of the resolution were Bince and fellow board members Angel Baniqued, Romeo Dadacay, Danilo Uy, Tyrone Agabas, John Agerico Rosario, and Amadeo Espino.

Two abstained, namely board members Von Mark Mendoza and Alicia Pulido, while Raul Sison was the lone opposition.

Bince said the ad hoc committee met to listen to Cojuangco and asked him questions for further explanation.

He said he then prepared a committee report, which was submitted to the plenary “where we voted either to adopt or not adopt it with the corresponding resolution.”

“We had it for first reading, then the ad hoc committee was created. Discussions were made, and then we voted. So (there was) no fast-tracking,” he added.

Bince said there will still be geological studies done by the University of the Philippines and the International Atomic energy if the coastal areas are safe as sites of nuclear power plants.

He said lower electricity rates of P3 to P4 per kilowatt-hour from P9 to P10, assurance that making Pangasinan will be blackout-free and the influx of potential investors are among the prime interests that the board members considered in approving the resolution.

Cojuangco, in a letter to the board members dated last Feb. 7, said the Philippines is finding itself at the cusp of a power crisis.

“We all remember, I hope, what happened to our country then. This time, it threatens to be much larger and worse than (what) hit us during the Cory and Ramos administrations,” Cojuangco said.

“If we, as a society, do not act and act fast, then I am sure that the repercussions to our economy, our people’s jobs and our very hope for prosperity will be dire, if not devastating,’ he added.

Cojuangco urged the board members to do all they can to prevent this looming power crisis from happening.

He said Pangasinan, which is near the sea and has established and substantial electrical transmission infrastructure, is in an excellent and enviable position to participate in attaining a workable solution to the energy needs of the Luzon grid.

He said the Luzon grid faces a shortfall of 3,000 megawatts by the year 2012.

“The province may accomplish this good for the Filipino people while at the same time doing a good turn for the Pangasinenses,” he added.

Cojuangco, whose move in Congress for the reopening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant did not push through, said the South Korean government has started disposing of its Korean Energy Development Organization-Nuclear Power Plant (KEDO-NPP) assets.

These assets, he said, are identical to the KSNP type of nuclear power plants currently operating in South Korea.

He said these power plants are the backbone of Korea’s nuclear power-generating capacity, accounting for 12 of the 20 power plants currently operating in South Korea.

Cojuangco said nuclear power is recognized throughout the world as the power-generating technology with the lowest carbon footprint, thus a non-contributor to the growing problem of global warming and climate change.


Kalinga tribal war averted over slay of two jail guards

By Dexter A. See

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — Peacepact holders and law enforcers in this province averted a brewing war between two tribes over the recent murder of two jail guards by holding negotiations for the surrender of the suspect in the crime and putting in place security operations.

Officials said the immediate intervention of peace pact holders, tribal leaders and concerned law enforcement agencies after the murder of the guards from two influential tribes in the province and the wounding of another from Mountain Province prevented the aggrieved tribes from avenging the loss of their members.

Senior Supt. Virgilio Laya, director of the Kalinga provincial police office, said the prime suspect in the murder of Jail Officer 1 Roel Martinez of Lubo, Tanudan town and JO1 Patricio Lungao of Luplupa, Tinglayan town, both in Kalinga, is the son of a punong barangay in this city who belongs to one of the two Kalinga tribes involved in the case.

He said efforts are being undertaken to facilitate the surrender of the suspect to prevent tribal war.

Police investigation showed Martinez, Lungao and another jail guard, JO1 Marcian Afawag of Bontoc, Mountain Province, were having their break in a store fronting the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology compound in Barangay Bulanao here when they were shot by the gunman who positioned himself in a canal near the store for a full view of his targets.

Members of the scene of the crime operation team recovered 20 spent shells and one bullet from an M-16 rifle at the scene.

Kalinga had been known for bloody tribal wars in the past. But tribal leaders have recently realized the serious effects of such fratricides and resorted to more peaceful means of settling differences.


15 dead in Cagayan town road collision

By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The death toll in the tragic head-on collision of a passenger jeepney and a trailer truck along the national highway in Barangay Villa Rey, Piat, Cagayan last Monday has reached 15, according to provincial police director Senior Supt. Moro Lazo.

Lazo identified the latest fatality as Reggie Tannug, 24, a government employee and resident of Sto. Niño, Cagayan.

He died while being treated at the St. Paul Hospital in Tuguegarao.

The other fatalities were identified as Renz Paula Lazo, 20, a graduating midwifery student and a resident of Sto. Niño, Cagayan; Roselle Valiente, 19, and Jinky Ramos, 21, both students of Saint Louis University in Tuguegarao City; Eduardo Oarle, 18 and Fatima Daliuag, 19, students of the Central Colleges Tuguegarao.

Other fatalities were Lindsay Ramirez, 21, student; Roda Mae Daloza, 18, student of the Cagayan State University; Armand Cadeliña; Pepe Artida, 55, an employee of the provincial government; Randy Dumas, 33, company driver; Rogelio Ibarra, 59, of the Department of Public Works and Highways; Princess Belen; and Faustino and Corazon Arguero, both ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo and residents of Burgos, Ilocos Sur.

Eleven more victims, mostly passengers of the passenger jeepney, were still undergoing treatment.

The two drivers are now facing charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple serious physical injuries.


PMA officials ban poll campaigns on campus

By Dexter A. See

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – The administration of the Philippine Military Academy here Thursday warned national candidates who intend to join the traditional alumni homecoming of the Academy this week to refrain from openly campaigning but instead make the celebration as a time to mingle with their classmates.

The premier military school in Asia is celebrating its annual alumni homecoming festivities which will commence Saturday with the traditional parade of classes.

Vice Admiral Leonardo Calderon Jr., PMA superintendent, said no politician or their supporters will be allowed to campaign inside the hallowed grounds of the academy as well as distribute own campaign materials so that they will not disrupt the smooth flow of the activities prepared for the alumni homecoming celebration.

Numerous national candidates who are either members or adopted members of PMA classes are expected to visit this mountain resort city this week purposely to join the annual alumni homecoming of the academy and campaign in various parts of the Cordillera.

In previous elections, PMA authorities have been successful in banning open campaigning inside the Academy although there were some supporters of candidates who were able to sneak in campaign materials and distributed the same to the audience which created commotions among them and the military enforcing the ban.

Calderon explained the institution needs to uphold its non-partisan stature since the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are considered apolitical.

While there are efforts in the past to try to influence and infiltrate the military and the police into siding with a certain national or local candidate, the PMA official claimed they have always been firm and decisive in turning down such efforts so that it will not become a precedent for the coming generation of military leaders.


Panlilio appeals ouster by Comelec

By George Trillo

Ousted Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio Wednesday sought reconsideration of the Commission on Elections ruling nullifying his 2007 victory.

In a 30-page motion, Panlilio urged the Comelec to set aside and not immediately execute the ruling declaring his rival, Lilia Pineda, the duly elected governor of Pampanga.

While claiming that he was not surprised by the verdict of the Comelec Second Division ruling favoring Pineda, Panlilio said the decision was erroneous and must therefore be rectified.

“In its 11,685-page decision, the Second Division rejected all the ballots where the name that was clearly written, placed, entered and filled out was ‘Among’ only,” Panlilio said.

“The erroneously rejected votes, more or less 2,496, are more than enough to overturn (Pineda’s) win,” he added.

He said the 2,496 ballots were ruled as stray ballots and thus were not counted and credited to him.


Ilocos Sur PNP intel chief sacked for release of suspect in illegal guns

By Mar. T. Supnad

CAMP QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur- A police superintendent (equivalent to colonel in the army) was sacked Tuesday after he was held responsible for the mysterious release of a suspect who was caught with a cache of illegal guns and live bullets.

Chief Supt. Constante D. Azares, Jr., Region 1 police director, ordered the removal of Supt. James Mangili, as investigation officer of the PNP headquarters here, for allegedly mishandling a case of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions that was filed against a top official of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Senior Supt. Eduard Dopale, Ilocos Sur police officer in chagre, said Mangili was replaced by Supt. Cornelio Comila.

The relief of Mangili stemmed from the case of one Saturnino Vagay, reportedly a top official of San Juan town, who was caught Feb. 10, with four high-powered firearms, 220 various bullets and 120 empty shells confiscated when the police conducted a pre-dawn raid on his house in Barangay Caronoan, San Juan.

But Vagay was immediately released by the office of the provincial Prosecution for the failure of the arresting team headed by Mangili to present the inventory of confiscated evidence before the prosecution’s office, said Supt. Eduard Dopale, officer in charge of Ilocos Sur police.

“How come that Mangili did not present the list of evidence to the prosecution office when this is a must; he should answerable for this gross neglect if not dereliction of duty,” said the visibly-irked Azares.

A member of the operating team who raided the house of Vagay said right after they discovered the cache of guns inside the house of Vagay, he (suspect) immediately called a number of top government and police officials to make arrangement on his case.

The police officer who requested his name be withheld said there was a big possibility there was a grand design to shelve the suspect from his case so as not to be immediately imprisoned.
Dopale said that usually, if a suspect has been subjected for inquest he should be immediately jailed.

But in the case of Vagay, he was not jailed due to the lack of evidence presented to the prosecution. “Nandyan pa rin yong kaso, pero hindi nga lang siya agad makukulong dahil regular filing na lang yong kaso,” said Dopale.

Confiscated in the house of Vagay were one carbine Cal. 30M1, one Cal. 22 rifle, one Remington browning shot gun, one smith and Wesson Cal. 357 and bullets for Cal. 9mm, carbine, super 38, shot gun, Cal. and spent shells.

Two of his guns, however, were reportedly covered by a temporary permit.

The raid, that was ordered by Judge Franciso Ante of the Regional Trial Court here, was led by Supt. Panfilo Racho, intelligence officer of the Ilocos Sur police command.

Dopale said, however, two of the guns confiscated from Vagay with temporary license will be checked first at Camp Crame whether these two guns have really been registered.


Ilocos Sur clergymen hit political murders

By Freddie Lazaro

VIGAN CITY — All members of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia condemned the recent killings of two candidates for councilor in Ilocos Sur this May elections.

A statement issued by Most Reverend Ernesto Salgado, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia in Vigan City, said the killings were acts of brutality and abuse of power and authority.

The statement was simultaneously read during Mass celebrated in all churches in the diocese last Sunday.

“Killings, cruelty and threatening the people to win power are against God’s laws. This will showcase the invaluability of life, a gift from God, and the disrespect to people’s life,” the statement said.

“We were deeply saddened when we learned recently that two of our brothers, who were both candidates for councilor in their town, namely Artemio Tugade of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur and Cecilio Tolentino of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, were brutally killed by still unidentified suspects,” the staement added.

Tugade was shot and killed in a daylight ambush in Barangay Poblacion Norte, Sta. Maria town last January 6 while Tolentino was also shot in broad daylight in front of his house in Barangay San Vicente, Magsingal town last Jan. 28.

The priests appealed to law enforcement agencies to conduct impartial investigations to give justice to Tugade and Tolentino and to put the masterminds behind bars.


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