Radio announcer’s ‘murderer’ nabbed

>> Monday, November 28, 2011

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Police arrested the alleged killer of a radio announcer here Nov. 23 around 5 a.m. at SitioTalak, Barangay Gobgob in this capital city.

Supt. Engelbert Z. Soriano, regional police press information officer identified the suspect as Daldin “Deldin” Guiawan, wanted for the July 3, 2010 murder of Jose “Pepe” T. Daguio, 75, radio announcer of DZRK Radio ng Bayan Tabuk, and former anchorman of news and public affairs program on RadyoNatin-Kalinga.

The victim was also a writer of the provincial Guru Press.

Guiawan was wanted for double murder with a warrant for his arrest issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 25, 2nd Judicial Region, Tabuk.

Soriano said Guiawan carried a reward of P250,000 for his arrest under Department of Interior and Local Government memorandum circular 2011-165.

Regional police intelligence officers who arrested Guiawan detained him here at the Kalinga District Jail.

Records showed Daguio was shot to death by unidentified perpetrators at his residence with the use of a 12-gauge shotgun. Victim was rushed to the Kalinga Provincial Hospital but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

Police investigation and witnesses’ accounts led to the identification and filing of murder case against Guiawan, Edmund Cera Bilod and Willy Cedra Bilog.

A warrant of arrest was subsequently issued for their arrest.

Soriano said background check on the suspects’ activities showed the group was involved in criminal activities such as “gun-for-hire” and they had other standing warrants for their arrest.

Guiawan also had a standing warrant for double murder issued by Judge Marcelino K. Wacas of Regional Trial Court Branch 25 in Tabuk for the killing of GuimpayanTamalay and AyongTamalay at Lapet, Talak, Gobgob in this city on June 2, 2009.


Thousands pay tribute to bishop

By Freddie G. Lazaro

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Thousands of Catholic devotees paid tribute to La Union Bishop Artemio Rillera behind the altar of Saint William the Hermit Cathedral here Tuesday morning.

A concelebrated mass officiated by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas was offered to the prelate before he was brought to his final resting place.

Bishop Rillera, a missionary from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), passed away at the age of 69 because of a severe asthma attack after saying Holy Mass at the Seminary of the Sacred Heart in San Fernando City last Nov. 13.


Eight missing fishermen safe in Fuga; woman dies

By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — Rescuers from the Philippine Coast Guard reported Thursday that eight missing Cagayan fishermen were found safe on Fuga Island in Aparri town.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Ernesto Renon of the PCG station based in Aparri, said the fishermen were left stranded there because of big waves.

He said the fishermen are now waiting for coastal waters to be calm in the area before returning to their village in this province.

The fishermen have been missing off the seas of Sta. Ana, Cagayan afternoon of Nov. 23 even as a woman drowned when the motorized banca she was riding on that day capsized near waters of Alcala town, also in the province.

Lt. Cmdr. Algier Ricafrente, PCG spokesperson, said earlier in the first incident, two of those missing were from Sta. Ana while eight were from Barangay Macanaya, Aparri.

The two missing fishermen from Sta. Ana were identified as Nelson Arquero, 34, and BenimarArquero, 28.

They went on fishing 10 nautical miles off Sta. Ana that afternoon and failed to come home.

The missing fisherfolks from Barangay Macanaya were identified as Mark Cacayuran, 30; Ariel Cacayuran, 25; Bernardo Tricenio, 26; Edgar Siraon, 32; Fidel Carrera, 42; Jun Carrera, 40; Naming Abad, 45; and Julian Nagtaran, 45.

They went missing while fishing in the waters off Fuga Island and Calayan.

Ricafrente said the PCG earlier advised barangay captains of adjacent barangays and other fishermen to be also on the lookout for the missing fishermen.

In the second incident, a 49-year-old female resident of Amulung, Cagayan, among 20 people who had come from a burial, drowned when the motorized boat carrying them capsized amid heavy rainfall off Alcala town Nov. 20, authorities said.

Recto Catuiran, chairman of Barangay Tana in Amulung town, identified the fatality as Dominica Bautista, 49, whose body was fished out by residents of Barangay Maraburab in neighboring Alcala.

The sea mishap occurred as Coast Guard authorities have warned local folk against venturing into the sea due to heavy torrential rains and big waves.

Meanwhile, 20 passengers headed for Camiguin Island in the Babuyan Strait and Maconacon, Isabela have been stranded last week in the ports of Aparri and Sta. Ana towns.


35 food terminals established in Benguet

By Susan Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Thirty five municipal and barangay terminals were established in various towns in this province as food depot and distribution systems offering affordable, safe and quality food products like meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruits.

Marlyn Cosalan of the agri-business and marketing assistance division of the Department of Agriculture –Cordillera said these establishments, formerly known as Bagsakan Centers, were intended to ensure food security and alleviate poverty and malnutrition wherein processed and agricultural products are now sold.

These are also being targeted as Pasalubong Centers where the One-Town-One Product (OTOP) of each beneficiary town will be showcased, according to Cosalan.

She added these would be alternative market for farmers through direct marketing.

The six town-recipients of the project are Sablan, P1.5 million; Tuba, P2M; Amgaleygey in Buguias, P1M; Atok, P1M; Bokod, P1M; and Kapangan, P1M.

Tublay will be included this year and with a P1 million allocation.

The provincial government was also allotted P2 million for its Bagsakan Center in Wangal, this town.


Mayor backs free patent implementation in Baguio

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said he was supporting implementation of the Free Patent Law in the city which will benefit qualified home lot applicants contrary to the insinuations by his critics that he is against the same.

But he added implementation of the law must be within its metes and bounds, especially provisions which clearly state that lands occupied by residents having a land area of 200 square meters or less are covered by the so-called free patent, thus, qualified residents occupying the aforesaid lands must already avail of the free patent.

In the city, there are two ways on how to acquire ownership of lands, particularly the Townsite Sales Application (TSA) and the Miscellaneous Sales Application (MSA) prior to the passage of the Free Patent Law.

Domogan said occupied homelots having a land area of more than 200 square meters must pass other forms of acquiring ownership such as the TSA and MSA instead of trying to circumvent the law by trying to subdivide their properties just to comply with the 200 square meters limitation under the free patent law.

He urged officials of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stick to provisions of the Free Patent Law limiting the land area to be covered by a free patent to only 200 square meters and not to facilitate the circumvention of the law by spearheading the subdivision of their properties so that the same will be compliant to avail of the free patent.

According to him, property owners with more than 200 square meters must follow either the TSA or MSA modes in legitimizing ownership considering that the same will benefit the local government as it will be purchased by the owner unlike in free patent that the recognition of rights over such property will be given out for free.

The local chief executive revealed the city’s land area is now limited and subjecting its lands to free patent will result to rapid urbanization that will be detrimental in sustaining its current status as the country’s undisputed Summer Capital which will lead to the loss of its cool and romantic weather and scenic spots that serve as a natural pull for foreign and domestic tourists to visit the city.

He called on residents with occupied lands measuring 200 meters or less to already avail of the free patent with the DENR but warned individuals trying to circumvent the provisions of the law that the city government will strictly monitor the same so that those that need to undergo the TSA and MSA process will not be subdivided so that they will be able to pass the limitations of the free patent, saying that the local government will be at a loss once they will allow the circumvention of the free patent law just to accommodate everyone.

When the government started to implement the provisions of the free patent law, many TSA and MSA applicants have started to subdivide their respective applications in order to comply with the limitations of the free patent law but the same was prevented by concerned government agencies who were able to observe a drastic move to subdivide existing applications in order to be given out for free.


2 species of costly 'ludong' fish thrive in Cagayan Valley

By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — At least two species of costly “ludong” fish thrive in Cagayan Valley, according to the initial result of the study conducted by the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute.

“Ludong” is a rare type of mullet known for its high price and unique taste. Its buying price in the market is reaching up to P5,000 per kilo.

NFRDI Scientist Mudjekeewis Santos named these two species as Cestraeusoxyrhynchus and Cestraeusgoldiei.

The two ludong fish species discovered based from the findings on DNA analysis on several samples submitted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from Cagayan and also on some available documents.

It is noted that Santos’ study is a component of the “OplanSagipLudong” project launched by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in October 2010

In his report, Santos said the absence of the species Cestraeusplicatilis, which has been regarded as the species of Ludong in Cagayan Valley for a long time, has been noted by BFAR officials.

But Santos cited that it may be due to the limited number of samples submitted for analysis.

It was recalled that the ludong Cestraeusplicatilis species has been identified by J.M. Thompson of the University of Queensland in Australia in his study conducted in 1982. Thompson based his findings on morphological characteristics using samples submitted by Philippine researchers.

Santos disclosed that his findings came from analysis using two different DNA markers.

“We will still have a third and final run using another marker, and likewise, we will cross-check with species from other areas, in order to ascertain the findings,” he clarified.

The fish genetics expert has noted the dearth of reference materials with which to base or counter-check current findings.

“The science concerning mullet is very scarce. It is actually you who will come-up with studies and develop the science for this,” Santos stressed.

For her part, BFAR Cagayan Valley Region Director JovitaAyson told the study is very significant as her office will now enable to set the scientific records about ludong fish to avoid confusion.


P’panga bridge sags due to heavy trucks

APALIT, Pampanga – A 40-year-old bridge linking this town to Macabebe sagged after three trucks carrying gravel and sand passed through it Thursday morning, authorities said.

Acting municipal administrator Dennis Capulong said no one was hurt but the truck drivers and their companions had to be assisted as two of the trucks fell on their side and the third leaned on the side of the bridge in Barangay Colgante.

Capulong said police could not yet determine whether the trucks, loaded with gravel and sand bound for Macabebe, were overloaded.

“Appropriate charges will be filed if it could be proven the trucks were overloaded,” he said.

Supt. Angelito Esteban, Apalit police chief, said the trucks were part of a convoy of four headed toward Macabebe.

The first truck managed to pass through the bridge, but the other trucks were caught in the middle of the 15-meter bridge, which sagged due to their weight.

Capulong said the bridge has become impassable to all types of vehicles and that local folk traveling between Apalit and Macabebe were advised to take another route via Barangay Sulipan.

He, however, said the route via Sulipan is good only for light vehicles.

He said Mayor Jun Tetangco has asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to immediately repair the bridge, the major link between his town and Macabebe.

DPWH Undersecretary for Regional Operations Romeo Momo said they would investigate the bridge’s collapse.

“There is a specified load limit and they should have followed it. If it would be proven that the Colgante Bridge was damaged because of overloading and these drivers are responsible for it, there is that possibility that the drivers or their companies might be ordered to shoulder the expense for the repair of the bridge,” Momo said.


P710-M‘Divisoria' of Luzon opens in Bulacan

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga— The highly anticipated P710-million North Food Exchange (NFEx), touted as the Food Divisoria of Luzon, opened Nov. 19 in Balagtas, Bulacan, the National Economic and Development Authority here said.

The 130-hectare complex is said to be the strategic, agro-economic, transport, processing, and commercial center envisioned to boost food security, economic bounty, and sustainable agro-industrial development in Luzon.

Accessible through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), MacArthur Highway, and soon the Northrail speed train system, NFEx is an agricultural and fishery product - wholesale and retail center - designed to modernize food transport, storage, processing, and distribution.

NEDA said the NFEx is a one of a kind pioneering economic center adding that its modern food depot terminal, commercial shopping center, agri-processing and storage complex, and export product show window are designed to transform the agriculture and fisheries sector into a strong globally competitive entrepreneurial force for the Luzon regions and the country.

“NFEx is a modern, functional, efficient and comprehensive market processing exhibition complex that will bring beneficiaries under one roof. The project will employ the best strategies and techniques from successful food exchange in Europe and Asia. It is under the direction of expert food and agricultural managers in the Philippines. This will provide complete facilities in trading, food processing, storage and related services,” NEDA reported.

Small-scale farmers and fishermen have been given priority in the trading complex. The involvement of middlemen in the marketing of produce will be removed, improving the income of small industries.

NFExTiangge will be open every Saturday until December 17, according to Balagtas municipal information officer Rolly Danes.

“It is expected that the NFExTiangge will be a venue to show the potentials of the NFEx project that will amplify the level of livelihood of Bulakenyos particular in the sector of agriculture,” said Danes.

Danes said the project was only a dream then but the start of operations proved the realization of the envisioned mega trading center in the country which he tagged as an “expressway to progress.”

“It is the mission of NFEx to increase the income of farmers, fishermen, and small investors; provide and sustain low prices of agricultural products; fortify the agriculture economy; and give a strong position to the masses of the society,” Danes added.

There are talks of replicating the food complex in Visayas and Mindanao.


17 Baguio residents receive financial aide

By Paul Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan last week released a total amount of P161,000 from his Priority Development and Assistance Fund (PDAF livelihood program) when he was still congressman to 17 beneficiaries.

Pinget Women’s Livelihood Organization received a total of P50,000.00 for their micro-lending business while six families received a maximum of P20,000 and a minimum of P5,000 for their soap making, knitting, sari-sari store and other livelihood programs.

Ten individuals were also given P5,000 to P3,000.

The livelihood fund is loaned to low-income and moderate income individuals, organizations and groups from the barangays screened by the Office of the City social Welfare and Development Office without interest.

Its primary goal is for grantees to start livelihood activities.

The project is being implemented by the OCSWADO under City Social Welfare Officer Betty Fangasan.


Ifugao town law to stop illegal sale, transport of cattle

By Mhars B. Lihgawon

ALFONSO LISTA, Ifugao – The municipal government here recently approved an ordinance to regulate illegal transport and selling of cattle in this town.

The local law mandated all cattle in in this town, after reaching prescribed age, shall be branded for distinction and ownership.

The ordinance said all cattle shall be branded upon reaching one to two years old with a registered owner’s brand to The owner’s brand must be registered at the office of the municipal treasurer and strictly for personal use only.

However, any person who borrows the brand of another person for his own cattle must accomplish first the necessary documents showing ownership of such cattle.

Branding of cattle activities should always be done in the presence of representatives from the office of the municipal treasurer for transparency and avoidance of any violations of ordinance.

Meanwhile, the ordinance also set requirements when selling and transporting cattle within and outside the municipality.

Any person who sells large cattle is required to brand said cattle under his name not by the buyer’s name.

For large cattle transported from one place to another within the municipality of Alfonso Lista for commercial purposes and slaughtering, the buyer shall accomplish and process the required documentation with the concerned municipal local government offices only during regular workings days.

No unbranded large cattle shall be transported or allowed to be transported unless the owner presents sufficient and convincing documents including payments of the required fees.

The ordinance further stated that any violation by any individual including local government officials shall penalized of P2,500 or imprisonment of 30 days for the first offense, P2,500 or imprisonment for 60 days – second offense and P2,500 or imprisonment of 90 days or both upon the discretion of the court for the third offense.


3 Tabuk City b’gays win local governance awards

By Larry Lopez

TABUK, Kalinga -- Three barangays here won top awards in the SIGLAT MO search of the Department of Interior and Local Government in the Cordillera.

City Interior officer Julio Barcellano said the DILG handed down the first and third places to Barangays Bulanao and Dagupan Centro, respectively, under urban category, while Barangay Cabaritan won second place under rural category.

SIGLAT MO award gives recognition and incentives to barangays and officials for top performance in local governance and demonstrate initiatives in rural development.

SIGLAT MO is coined from the vernacular attributes on S – aririt or diligence; I-ngel - determination; G-aget – love of work; L-aing – coordinating; A-listo – fast moving; T-araki – good stand; M-adaydayaw – honorable and O- ngaOpisyal – as public servant.

Among the notable achievements of Barangay Bulanao include its persistent revenue generation efforts making it the top revenue-collecting barangay of the town.

On the other hand, Dagupan Centro is recognized for its environmental advocacies and peace initiatives.

The three SIGLAT MO winners will receive cash incentives from P5,000 to P10,000, aside from citations and trophies.

Barcellano said giving honors to barangay leaders pose a challenge to other leaders in higher offices of government where more are expected of them.

If people below can deliver citable performance in the line of work, why not also those at the higher offices who even have more resources,”” Barcellano asked.

Barcellano said 2011 seemed a lucky year for Tabuk which won another national award on GawadsaLahi last September with a P2 million cash incentive.


DMIA to host P900-million casino, hotel

By George Trillo

CLARK FREEPORT— A P900- million casino and hotel is soon to rise inside the aviation complex of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

Information Technology firm Eagle Sky Technology and Amusement and Gaming Incorporated (ESTAG) will construct a six-storey building, airport hotel and entertainment complex all in one.

Estage President Ireneo Alvaro Jr. said the firm’s facility is the first luxury hotel, entertainment, and IT hub within the DMIA aviation complex.

Clark Development Corporation (CDC) President Felipe Antonio B. Remollo, Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, Estage chief executive officer Tony Huang were on-hand during the groundbreaking ceremony last weekend.

The casino-hotel is just one of the many major projects on-going inside the Clark Freeport zone as Remollo said that this premier Freeport is clearly becoming the business and entertainment hub of Central Luzon.

Alvaro said the company aims to break new foundations in the Philippines by combining the most luxurious hotel, gaming facility, IT hub, entertainment centers, high-end boutiques and shops, restaurants and spas, in just one complex.

Other officials who graced the event included Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pag-cor) director EnriquitoNuguid, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) vice president Reynaldo Catacutan, CDC directors Manolo Feliciano and Ricardo “Bong” Alvaro, and others.


ProTech waste collection extended until January 15

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Pro Tech Machinery Corp. (Pro Tech) will continue collection of non-biodegradable wastes from pick-up points in barangays here after Mayor Mauricio extended the authority granted to the waste company until Jan. 15.

The mayor said the direct collection scheme which ran on experimental basis last month helped improve the waste collection efficiency of the city.

It also helped lessen the use of the Irisan dumpsite as a transfer station for nonbiodegradable wastes.

“It is the direction of the City Government to discontinue utilizing the dumpsite as sorting and transfer area and the city government is earnestly trying to locate a possible permanent transfer station for the biodegradable wastes,” the mayor noted in Administrative Order No. 146.

He said the city needs all the help it can get in improving the waste management system and Pro Tech’s direct collection agreement which is free of charge is a welcome move.

Meanwhile, the mayor asked residents to be prepared for the implementation of the mandatory collection of garbage fees in the barangay through a barangay-based collection system.

The mayor said the census of households and computation of present and back fees are now underway so the collection will start anytime soon. Concerned barangay officials have also undergone the necessary training to undertake the collection.

The mayor said the barangay-based collection system will streamline the collection process to make it more efficient with the end in view of helping the barangays generate resources to support their own waste management programs.

The collection will be based on guidelines pursuant to the provisions of the city’s tax ordinance.

As per the guidelines, barangays will be empowered to collect garbage fees from households availing of the solid waste management service on a monthly basis.

The collected fees will be subject to a sharing scheme between the city and the barangays at 70-30 percent. Incentives will also be given to barangays with high collection levels. Proceeds can be used by the barangays in their waste management programs and other related projects.

“A household refers to a core family that includes parents, minor and unmarried children and limited extension to househelp and grandparents… Doubled up households include married children living with their parents, married brothers/sisters and boarders living with the landlord. Each married child, brother or sister will be treated and charged as separate households. Every four boarders shall be considered a household and also to be charged separately,” according to the guidelines.

The billing dates will be during the first ten days of each month subject to discounts for early payers.

Barangays will also be required to monitor the compliance to the city’s non-segregation-no-collection policy, indiscriminate dumping and anti-littering laws with the following penalty; warning for first offense; P500 for second offense and P1,000 third offense.


Six road projects undergo tests: Mt Prov contractors warned on sanctions

By Pamela F. Dungala

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The provincial Department of Public Works and Highways office will enforce sanctions against contractors whose infrastructure projects have defects and failed to follow contract specifications.

Provincial DPWH officials bared this even as they said six infrastructure projects under the DPWH have undergone quality assurance program on Nov. 17 through inspection and quality control rating as per instruction of Sec. Rogelio L. Singson.

The QAP assures all projects are implementedin compliance with existing engineering rules and regulations to stop graft and corruption.

This is implemented through project inspection and evaluation by a unit composed of engineers from DPWH Bureau of Research and Standards, Bureau of Construction and the regional DPWH office.

Construction engineer Benedict Matib said projects included road upgrading of Dantay-Sagada National Road, rehabilitation of Mt. Province-Ilocos Sur Road via Kayan and Bontoc-Cadre Road and Baguio-Bontoc Road, construction of Bayudan flood control and PC-Barracks Road under LAB General Engineering.

The QAU team assessed project accomplishment reports and conducted project inspection and field testing while giving instructions to field engineers and contractors to ensure improvement of project implementation for quality projects.

“While defects may have been noted on these projects, the concerned contractor will be notified of these defects and will be directed to undergo rectification and corrections at their own expense,” said Charles Sokoken, assistant district engineer.

Projects are also subject to quality control rating of the Central Office as per instruction of the Secretary in a memorandum dated Oct. 28.

“We are hopeful that these projects will pass, hence, we are further geared up to closely watch on these projects for the immediate correction of the defects to avoid further damage,”Matib said.

The district office is optimistic that contractors will adhere to the guidelines on the implementation of infra projects as per memorandum of OIC district engineer to contractors.


Benguet ratifies MOA for Japan internship training

By Susan Aro

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Qualified skilled farmers in the province may have the chance to undergo internship training with compensation to Japan upon the forging of memorandum agreement of the provincial government with Ehimei Prefecture.

The MOA authorizing Gov. Nestor Fongwan with the Farmer’s Cooperative of Ehimei Prefecture represented by Chairman Tsukuru Kuramoto on the Technical Intern Training Program was ratified through a resolution by the provincial board.

Under the program, the provincial government will be sending skilled and qualified agricultural farmers to Japan for the internship program paid on salary basis, provincial agriculturist Lolita Bentres said.

“The trainees who will be working will be treated as co-equal time workers and are paid on an hourly rate unlike before where they are given only allowance.”

Prior to their training-employment, interns will learn Niponggo for one to two months, she added.

The partnership program with a number of Prefectures in Japan had been going on for several years now.

It has reportedly contributed to the agricultural development and effective technology transfer both to the province and Japan.


Mayor: Baguio’s fiscal condition remains good

By Aileen. P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government’s fiscal standing remains stable despite the recent calamities and the impending reduction of the city’s share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) next year, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said last week.

The mayor said the city has remained debt-free with an outstanding credit standing that make the city eligible for loans from banks and credit institutions should it seek fund sources to finance large-scale development projects .

The mayor, however, said that despite this bright financial condition, city executives opted for a conservative increase in the 2012 budget in anticipation of the IRA cut.

The mayor said that the executive budget is expected to be pegged at just “a little more than P1 billion” to make it realistic in view of the expected reduction of around P30-P40 million from the IRA share.

The city’s current budget is P1,092,095,000.

He said the budget cut is expected to affect the 20 percent development fund that finances the city’s development projects including those in the barangays prompting the City Development Council that undertakes the screening of the projects to select only the very important and immediate ones out of the pool of projects submitted.

The mayor however said that the city hopes to offset the IRA cut when it finally collects its P125 million tax share from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) operations along with its share from the lease rental of Camp John Hay which is currently in the works via a new restructuring agreement between the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo).

The mayor said the executive budget along with the Annual Investment Plan (AIP) will soon be submitted to the city council for approval.

The IRA shares of cities had been reduced with the inclusion of 16 new cities into the fold following the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Republic Acts converting the 16 municipalities into cities last April.

The mayor said the 2012 budget framework will be anchored on the thrusts set for 2012 by the city government as aligned with the programs of the national government.

The said thrusts as spelled out by Domogan during his State of the City Address were maintenance of integrity of the environment; sustained economic growth; poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable; accountable and participatory governance; and safe and resilient city.


BPO industry growing fast, gov’t focuses on manpower

By Lito Dar

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet-- The Philippines is now number one in the world as far as the call center industry is concerned, and the country’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) is now gaining up with India in a fast pace, for the top spot.

Department of Budget and Management Sec. Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad bared this during his visit here last week to meet with the presidents of state universities and colleges of Cordillera and Region I here at Benguet State University.

“Gaining the top spot in the BPO industry is highly achievable for the country but we must firstly assure that we can also cope with the manpower demand of such fast growing local industry,” Abad said.

According to Abad, BPO as well as electronics/semiconductor, tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture, fisheries and forestry are top five sectors the Aquino administration is now focusing on to boost the country’s competitiveness in investments and economic development.

He said the country’s BPO industry is increasing by about 20 percent yearly which could still improve by 25 percent in the succeeding years and that the industry projects continuous investment in the country even beyond the term of President Aquino.

Abad added in consultation with BPO companies, there is also a concern that the country’s supply of manpower for the industry is also already reaching its plateau and the quality of our graduates for the said industry is deteriorating, which could result in BPO companies looking outside of the country for investment.

“Presently, the BPO industries offer about 65,000 job opportunities and I just came from Bacolod, wherein there is a need for about 3,500 Call center agents, but the city can only supply about 1,250,” Abad said.

For the government’s part, Abad added they are now investing heavily on basic education including pre-school, to put up a better educational foundation for Filipino children and strengthening of technical-vocational skills of the students in basic education, as well as the government’s program for tech-voc education and training.

According to Abad, the government has just put up P1.2 billion investment for tech-voc education and training and P500 million of the said investment were initially invested for the training of 72,000 possible BPO workers or near-hires, in which the BPO industry also committed to hire 58,000 of these trainees, as well as to recruit and train faculty members from the country’s SUC, that will then serve as trainers for such purpose.

Abad also called on SUCs to partner with them for such objective, as he also assured that the government, as well as the BPO industry, is willing to invest on them for such purpose.

“The ultimate objective here is to provide our graduates and even those in school, opportunity for employment and livelihood,” he said.

“That is what we really want to achieve. So it is just logical that the government will invest in areas it foresees that will be making huge investment for the country and its people, because that is the requirement of the market, abroad and domestic, which is in line with the government’s objective of alleviating poverty and boosting the country’s economy.”


Spain awards P203-M grant to Nueva Ecija for disasters

GUIMBA, Nueva Ecija— The Spanish Government has extended a 3.4-million-euro (around P203 million) grants to the Nueva Ecija provincial government to further strengthen its capability to respond to disaster and calamity situations and implement rehabilitation programs.

The grant, the first of its kind involving disaster risk reduction, was extended by the Spanish Cooperation Agency for Development (AECID).

AECID entered into a project partnership agreement with the Local Government Academy, an attached agency of the DILG, to strengthen local governments' disaster preparedness and response.

Gov. Aurelio Umali said the grant is now being used to fund the training component, infrastructure and livelihood components of the program in select cities and municipalities of the province.

Umali said the province’s systematic handling of irrigation systems has earned for it recognition as a role model of disaster management and risk reduction among local government units (LGUs) in the country which prompted the Spanish government to extend the said grant.

In a related development, Umali said that he is not keen on the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the spill gates of the giant Pantabangan Dam here, saying this is not the best way to monitor the rise in flood waters in the province’s waterways.

The Governor told newsmen that the history of the dam is the most important factor in the release of water so people could prepare for floods instead of relying on CCTVs.

Umali was commenting on plans in other areas hosting various dam systems to put up CCTVs as monitoring mechanisms to prevent overflowing that trigger floods.

Earlier, Bulacan Governor WilhelminoSy Alvarado raised the possibility of installing CCTVs at the spill gates of Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams and major rivers of the province with the monitoring systems to be set up at the operations center of the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRDMO) at the capitol compound.


DPWH identifies structures encroaching into CL rivers

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Department of Public Works and Highways here has finished a study revealing that a total of 3,807 structures, including houses, factories, and fish pens, illegally encroach into various waterways in Central Luzon.

The DPWH has recommended the partial or total demolition of these structures as they apparently had contributed to widespread flooding in the region during recent typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel.”

Engineer Ethel Manalo, DPWH Manila Bay project coordinator, said the inventory of the illegal structures was also done in line with the order of the Supreme Court for various government agencies to clean up the Manila Bay.

Manalo said the identified structures all encroach into public channels or bodies of water that flow into Manila Bay.

“In the Manila Bay cleanup, rehabilitation and restoration program, as per the Supreme Court order, the DPWH is mandated to remove and demolish these structures built along water bodies in the five provinces in Central Luzon – Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Bataan and Nueva Ecija,” Manalo said.

Manalo cited though the need for a relocation site where the displaced settlers could be resettled after the demolition.

The DPWH inventory revealed that 406 structures in four barangays in Balanga City, Bataan encroach into the Talisay River, while 114 houses were found to have impeded the flow of water in the Pentor-Balsic River through Dinalupihan and Orani towns, also in Bataan.

In Bulacan, 528 illegal structures were found along the Labangan Cut-Off Channel that stretches through Calumpit, Paombong and Hagonoy towns.

Also in Bulacan, 960 more structures, including factories and houses, were found along the Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando river system which traverses 12 barangays in Meycauayan and nine barangays in Marilao.

In Pampanga, illegal structures, including fish pens, were found to have encroached into the Guagua-Pasac River, the Pampanga Bay, the Guagua River and the Abacan River.

In Tarlac, 548 structures, also a mix of houses and commercial establishments, were found constricting the Lucong River in Concepcion and Parua towns and the Tarlac River in Tarlac City.

In Nueva Ecija, the DPWH inventory found 140 houses encroaching into the Marinal Creek in Laur, Palayan River in Palayan City, Nabao Creek in Cabanatuan City, and the Dupinga, Asan and Danglan creeks in Gabaldon, and 593 more houses along the banks of the Talavera River.


Northern Luzon targeted: OMB intensifies anti-piracy campaign

By Redjie Cawis

BAGUIO CITY -- The Optical Media Board has intensified their campaign against CD, VCD and DVD piracy in the country.

OMB Chairman Ronnie Rickets said they have started operations targeting illegal copying machines used to reproduce music, movies and other audio video materials and being sold and distributer as pirated goods in and out of Metro Manila.

Rickets, who was a guest during the IMPAKABSAT opening in the Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City last week, said that they have seized illegal copying machines based on a tip from informants and they have closed down several establishments around the Metro Manila area the past week.

He said that at the moment they are only doing this in the National Capital Region but they will soon be conducting several anti-illegal piracy operations in key cities including Baguio City.

Rickets said that they have conducted a successful operation in Baguio City last year and they will be doing another as soon as they establish a new OMB officer in the city.

Baguio City is one of the areas being eyed by the OMB since it is considered as one of the largest producers of pirated discs being distributed in the North-Central Luzon area.

Meanwhile, Rickets said they earlier intensified their operations in Manila before the fight of boxing champ Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez to prevent the illegal copying and distribution of the match.

They warned vendors against distribution and sale of the boxing match.

He admitted the OMB is hard up tracking the illegal download and recopy of the boxing match with the use of the Pay-Per-View in residences.

Rickets also warned the people not to buy and support pirated CD, VCD and DVD and instead get original copies.


Businessman nabbed with shabu, hashish

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- A 28-year old businessman engaged dealing lard and eggs was reportedly caught red-handed with shabu and marijuana hashish when agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives entrapped him here at Windy Hill, Barangay Buyagan.

Christopher B. “Bojo” Patiag of Binalonan, Pangasinan, and resident of Camp Dangwa in this capital town was arrested in an anti-drug buy-bust operation at around 12:30 after midnight Nov. 23, said a PDEA report.

Patiag allegedly sold .06 gram of shabu in one heat-sealed plastic sachet for P1,500 to a PDEA agent of PDEA.

Patiag also yielded marijuana hashish contained valued at P275.00.

A Sniper 135 H/C model Yamaha motorcycle which Patiag used for the deal was seized as evidence against him.

Criminal cases for illegal drugs were set to be filed in court against the suspect.

Patiao’s residence and shop are located just a few meters away across the main gate of the Cordillera regional police headquarters, PDEA agents said.

His illegal drug customers, at times, allegedly would go buy the stuff from him directly at his residence, where they also use the illicit drug right there and then.

Patiao allegedly supplies illegal drugs mostly to students, specifically gang members and party girls.

They reportedly order the illegal drugs from him online, then meet later at a nightspot for the exchange.

Further investigations revealed his illegal drug turf stretches from the Nevada Square in Baguio City to Windy Hill.


Episcopal brotherhood holds dental missions

By Francis Degay

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The brotherhood of St. Andrew of the All Saints Cathedral chapter of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines recently held dental missions in barangays here.

Patients who benefited in the dental extraction were 41 in Tocucan, six in Dalican and 54 in Mainit.

Another mission was held in Guina-ang yesterday while another was set at Bontoc Ili next month.

Tooth extraction and blood typing are among the programs outside the chapter’s jurisdiction but within the diocesan coverage.

The BSA conducts annual prison visit, mass and giving of second hand clothings at the Mt. Province provincial jail “Bilibid” and visits the sick at hospitals and homes.

Drugs particularly the anesthesia and pain relievers were donated by the All Saints Multi-purpose Cooperative.

The medicines were unused during the dental mission conducted by the coop during its regular annual assembly early this year.

Dr. Norton Comafay, Mt. Province Department of Education dentist and BSA member, led the dental missions. He urged good Samaritans to donate dental drugs so more patients shall benefit from these.


Dog digs up grenade in Pangasinan; 6 hurt

LAOAC, Pangasinan -- A 38-year-old woman and her five children were seriously injured after their dog accidentally set off a grenade buried under their nipa hut here.

Police identified the wounded victims as Sarah Padaoan, 38 and her children Fredalyn, 13, Grade 5 pupil; Simon, 11, Grade 2; Alfredo, 10, Grade 1; Roderick, 8 and John Carl, 3.

All the victims were initially brought to the Manaoag Community Hospital in Manaoag town and then transferred to the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital in San Carlos City.

Investigators said the victims were hit by shrapnel from a grenade the exploded under their nipa hut.

Police said that aside from grenade fragments, crime scene investigators also recovered an unexploded hand grenade near the blast site.

A dog's lifeless body was also recovered near the blast site.

Police theorized that the dog dug up the grenade and accidentally set it off.


P211 million allotted to fix Baguio roads

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- This mountain resort city will be getting a huge chunk from the Aquino administration’s infrastructure budget next year following the inclusion of eighteen road repair projects having a total amount of P211 million in next year’s P1.816 trillion approved national budget which will guarantee better road condition in the coming months.

However, The Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineering Office will be bidding out the projects next month pursuant to the revised rules and regulations in the implementation of infrastructure projects to make sure the rehabilitation of roads will be done the earliest time so people will not suffer the inconvenience they have experienced during the simultaneous implementation of projects during the rainy months.

“We will do better in the implementation of our approved projects next year. We want most of the projects done during the summer months so that we will not be criticized for failing to do our homework,” Engr. Ireneo S. Gallato, DPWH-BCDEO district engineer said.

Despite having started late this year in the implementation of their 14 programmed projects under the agency’s regular fund in the amount of P208 million, Gallato disclosed most of their awarded projects will be completed by next month with only one project which will be extended and will be completed by early next year.

“We will implement the projects in such a way that our people will not suffer from tremendous inconveniences. We will try to do it the best way we can so that we will be able to reduce inconvenience vis-à-vis infrastructure development,” he said.

The city has a total of 95 kilometers of national roads and secondary arterial roads which needs repair and rehabilitation although all the roads have already been paved but requires continuous repair and maintenance.

“People should understand that we are mandated to ensure that all our national and secondary arterial roads have good surfaces in order to ensure convenience to the motoring public. We are strictly following standards being imposed by our higher authorities,” Gallato added.

The city roads which are expected to undergo facelift next year includes Abanao Road, Gov. Pack road, Kayang Street, Leonard Wood road, Naguilian road, Harrison road, Abanao extension road, Chanum Street, Kisad road, Andres Bonifacio Street, Government Center Road, Manuel Roxasroad, PMA cut-off road, PMA road and Loakan road.

According to him, the reasons for the simultaneous implementation of road improvement projects nationwide this year which was done during the rainy months was the review of all the programmed projects to conform with the standards of the Aquino administration of having the right projects at the right cost and at the right time.

After the bidding of projects, the DPWH will be awaiting for the release of the supporting Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to ensure the availability of funds for the projects before the contracts will be awarded to the winning contractors.


Army, Paracelis LGU hold med mission for 353 folks

By Andrew Doga-ong

PARACELIS, Mountain Province -- Some 353 indigent villagers in remote barangay Palitud here were beneficiaries of a recent medical and dental mission by the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and municipal government here.

Of the 353 beneficiaries, 304 were provided with medical services such as consultation and circumcision while 45 others were given dental services mostly on tooth extraction.

The Army’s skilled “soldier-barbers” also provided free haircut to some of the residents.

The Philippine Army provided the medical and dental doctors coming from its 5th Infantry Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Rommel Gomez while the local government unit of Paracelis provided medicines.

The LGU of Paracelis saw the need to collaborate with other sectors such as the military to realize one of its programs of bringing health services to its barangays.

In its report, the 54th IB based in Mt. Province under Lt. Col. Steve Crespillo, said medical-dental outreach programs of the Army in partnership with LGUs and other sectors was a way of expressing the Army’s concern in promoting and supporting programs that enhance living condition of the populace.

Captain Victor Leopoldo, Civil Military Operation Officer said the 54th IB participated in about eight medical-dental missions mostly conducted in far-flung barangays of the province.

Meanwhile, Leopoldo said the Sagip Kapamilya of ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. together with the Philippine Army will distribute this month relief goods to about 1,000 typhoon affected families in the towns of Natonin and Paracelis.


5,000 runners nationwide to join Unilab Baguio run

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – At least 5,000 runners from the different parts of the country are expected to join the Baguio leg of the Run United regional race which will be held in the city on Dec. 4.

The race, which is geared towards actively promoting health and wellness among people, is sponsored by the Unilab Active Health and is done nationwide in order to entice more individuals to run for good health.

The categories of the race will include 21K, 10K, 5K, 3K and a 500-meter dash exclusively for children aged 5 to 12 years old.

Registration period for the Unilab Baguio race could still be done Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

Organizers of the event encouraged interested runners to register early so that they will be able to avail of attractive race kits which will be given out for the purpose.

Interested runners could either register on line at or Existing registration centers are the Baguio Timex at SM City Baguio and the Baguio Country mart.

Attractive prizes await the winners of each categories while finisher’s kits will be given out to all the runners who will be able to complete the categories which they participated.

Aside from participating in the different categories of the race, runners could also win more prizes in various games offered for them just after the race for the promotion of the products of Unilab and that the same will be done at the Baguio Athletic Bowl which is the finish line of all the races.

According to the organizers of the Run United regional race Baguio leg, runners from different parts of the country have already signified their intention to actively participate in the executing and challenging Baguio route which is characterized by steep ascending and descending roads unlike the other race routes in the flatlands.


Investing in education


The Aquino administration will be investing P238 billion in basic education for 2012, the largest budget ever allocated for such purpose.

Department of Budget and Management Sec. Florencio ‘Butch’ Abad affirmed this in a meeting with presidents of state universities and colleges from Cordillera and region I at Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet last week.

According to Abad, who was once Education Secretary, the country’s education system is in crisis because it has long been neglected.

About half of the children are not in school and those who entered basic education – elementary and secondary, have poor achievement level and only less than 15 percent eventually get a college diploma while less than five percent finish a science and technology degree.

Such problem reflects also on tertiary education in the country, not only on SUCs “because the foundation is very weak and logically the tertiary education output, except in some or few universities/colleges if of inferior based from quality of graduates as we can see in the passing rate of our board exams.”

The reason, Abad added, why the government is investing heavily in basic education, including pre-school through the new ‘K to 12’ program. According to Abad, studies show that the children who were properly prepared to enter formal school have higher rates to finish up to secondary and even up to their tertiary level given ample support of government.

Another reason Abad pointed out is that we are now living at a very competitive world that the country needs to work hard to grow as an economy, and yet the education sector – our human resource development program, has not able to supply the current manpower that the growing industries need especially by the fast growing BPO sector.

Abad also announced that President Aquino gave them a directive to assure that before the end of 2014, the country should have been able to close the classroom gap in which the government is also bringing in the private sector to help build the needed classrooms.

“By next year, the target is for us to build 45,000 classrooms, which is far away from the average classroom of about six to 10,000 a year. The President also gave an instruction to hire the corresponding requirements, in terms of teachers, textbooks and other school facilities.”


Throwing the kitchen sink at ‘sick’ GMA

Alfred P. Dizon

Almost everything except the kitchen sink is being thrown against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Her detractors earlier wanted her out of her luxurious bed at theSt. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City, where she was served with a warrant of arrest in connection with the electoral sabotage case filed by the Commission on Elections on Nov. 24.

Her quarters were being tidied up at the city jail including a little bed for her “sickly” body, but then, the administration relented to hospital arrest while they figured out if she was really that sick
Now they want her seat. An activist lawmaker said GMA should give up her seat at the House of Representatives as she would not be able to use this."Sa daming kasong nakahayin sa kanya ay hindi na siya makakapag-function," Bayan Muna Rep. TeodoroCasiño said.

Casiño said Ms Arroyo would be doing her constituents in Pampanga's 2nd District and her colleagues in the House a favor if she will allow another lawmaker to act as caretaker of her seat.

He however said they can only ask Ms Arroyo to resign, not force her because she has not been convicted of any charge.

He added that the charges filed against Ms Arroyo are all alleged violations committed when she was still the country's president.

“There is a rule that what you did in your previous term could not be used as basis for your expulsion. The House leadership cannot expel her without conviction."
The former president is also facing six plunder complaints filed before the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman.A report by GMA News, quoting Presidential Political Affairs Adviser Ronald Llamas, said Malacañang is eyeing at filing 20 cases against the former president.

Casiño said with all the charges against Ms Arroyo, she will be incapable of functioning for her constituents in Pampanga."Mae-engross na siya sa pagharap dito sa isang kaso pa lang na pinag-uusapan natin na electoral sabotage."
House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said he would propose that Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo be named caretaker of Pampanga’s second district while Ms Arroyo is under arrest.

Tañada said that the House leadership cannot expel the former president prior to her conviction on the charges leveled against her.

“Mikey is the former representative of that district. He is the logical choice for caretaker,” he said. Like his mother, Mikey is a member of the House, representing security guards and tricycle drivers grouped under the party-list organization Ang Galing Pinoy.

Mikey left for the United States before his mother was arrested. The naughty are saying he actually went there to fix bank accounts and possessions of the former First Family. He himself is facing charges for alleged tax evasion.
Tanada said the filing of an electoral sabotage case against GMA cannot be the basis to expel her. She is presumed innocent until proven guilty or until she pleads guilty to the crime.

House Speaker Sonny Belmonte had thumbed down proposals to force GMA out of her congressional seat saying it was a personal matter on her part if she wanted to resign.

From the looks of it, the former president who had been tagged as “Iron Lady” by Time magazine still projects the willpower to fight for her survival even if no rallies are being held in her behalf. Despite her steely persona, television footages have shown her apparently dismayed and frightened at not being able to leave the country before her arrest warrant was served.
Except for her immediate family and some close friends, it seems she is alone in her long lonely fight, considering the string of cases lined up against her.

The pundits are talking on TV that after she gets well, she may not be able to endure sitting on her congressional seat while her colleagues and the media train their eyes on her.

Such a dilemma for the once most powerful person in the country. People say it is karma.


The BSU leadership / Media ‘grants’ Gloria’s wish

March L. Fianza

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Discussions on who should be the next president of the Benguet State University does not seem to die and continues to be the talk among circles concerned with the deteriorating state of affairs of the government school.

On another front, students could have heard of these things but just let the issues be blown away by the BSU breeze because there are more urgent matters to worry about like finishing their courses.

Certainly members of the faculty, the non-teaching sector and those working in the administration building have knowledge about these things, but just like the rest of us, our stomach grumbles louder than our conscience.

That is why the dirty things that need cleaning in the university that carries the name of Benguet just lie on the wide gardens of the school and the corners of properties being rented out year in, year out.

The issues being raised in conversations of informal circles in the vegetable fields, in the park, the barbershops and canteens and wherever, ranges from collections of rentals from the lot properties of the school to unpaid or uncollected rentals of buildings.

I wonder why such things happen in schools such as BSU. Is it because of outside elements that influence the decision-making of school officials? Is it because some people do not care about what will happen to the future of the BSU – anyway they are not from Benguet and they only care about enriching themselves by milking the school?

By the way, I was also told that in the list of BSU workers qualified to participate in the drawing of lots for a segregated housing project, many were surprised why the name of a member of the board of regents who is not an employee or faculty member of the school was included. But that is another story.

Those tasked to pick out the next BSU leader should consider that their choice should have the burning desire to remove the irregularities that have been prevalent in the school.

A new president should not perpetuate the existence of illegal activities of people in BSU. An honest to goodness accounting of the properties being leased out to private persons should be made, and collections should be done.

Those who have utang should pay. But wait. How can these anomalies be removed if one of the candidates for BSU president has been seen in a restaurant in Baguio mingling with a member of the board of regents and a property lessee who has more than a million pesos utang?
Wittingly or unwittingly, the media that covered GMA at the airport in her attempt to leave the country, fell into the trap. The media coverage turned into a mini commotion of photographers fighting for the best photo angle of GMA.

The former president garbed in her hospital “costume” that looked like an astronaut’s headgear, together with Atty. Mike Arroyo, was being pushed on a wheelchair after airport and immigration officials stopped her from boarding her flight to Singapore.

On the sides, we saw airport guards and immigration officials just watching by as if nothing was happening, while the not so natural hullabaloo went on.

That may be exactly what GMA and his spin directors wanted to happen – for the media to go out of control at the airport tarmac and win the sympathy of televiewers.

The expected scenario could be for media to highlight her not being able to leave the airport on an airplane flight to anywhere and shift the sympathy of televiewers to her, and that was exactly what happened.

What if she was not stopped? GMA could have launched her flight to “outer space” like an astronaut, and who knows if she would ever be seen again? A prominent lawyer in Baguio believed that once GMA left the country, she would never come back.

She could ask her co-accused to go with her but will they have the means to stay outside the country for a long time? They may be supported by GMA but not for long. Isudatikaasi.

GMA’s spokespersons have accused DOJ Leila De Lima of rushing to have her arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant, but the accusation was thrown back at them.

Atty. Topacio said they were not given the due process and that immediately after the Comelec filed the case of election fraud against GMA with the court, a warrant of arrest was immediately issued.

But apparently, who was rushing things? Even before a TRO on the hold departure order was issued by the SC, the lawyers on the side of the government learned that GMA’s camp was already arranging flight bookings.

How the hell could GMA and her cohorts know that a TRO was to be issued by the SC in their favor, unless someone from the SC told them?

Maybe the conversation could have gone this way: “Hoy Rene, aalis na ako papunta Singapore saLunespero wala pa namanyung TRO.” And the answer was: “Yes madam, di bale, pwede na kayo mag-book ng flight.” –


Freedom of expression

Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- November 23 marks the International Day to End Impunity. This Day specially marks to dignify and uplift freedom of expression and brings to light the very acts which kill and suppress freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression is a vital human right enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further than that, freedom of expression is a divine right that lets one freely express one’s thoughts and feelings and knows that he or she is fully alive. Article 19 of the UDHR provides: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers...

The right to freedom of expression too is recognized as an international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice".

It is unfortunate that this very basic right is snatched from social activists and journalists most especially who in their profession exercise this very basic right to let the public know what is happening in society. From the pen and lips of journalists often spill forth news and events and analysis of issues. In most cases, journalists worth their salt who express injustices happening in government are either harassed or worse killed. The very violations of human rights, oppression, exploitation, injustices are oftentimes the meat of what journalists talk about as they dig what is behind a politician’s pronouncements and what excesses in government an officer may be doing.

Issues are unearthed of their truth and let known to the public so to make local governance transparent to the public who deserve every public transaction legitimate and proper enough to be known.

There were 146 cases of media killings in the Philippines since 1986. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) reported eight journalists killed during the year. The CMFR claimed that four out of the eight were killed in the line of duty. On July 21this year, radio broadcaster Jovelito Agustin in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte was shot and killed and murder charges filed against a local government official.

A radio broadcaster was also shot and killed in Nabua, Camarines Norte. Still on June 14 this year, local broadcaster and anti illegal logging activist Desiderio Camangyan was shot and killed in Davao Oriental. Murder charges were filed against a local police officer and a village chief.

In the very exercise by journalists of their right to freedom of expression and what constitutes their very basic framework in their profession to inform, this very basic human right, as divine and as legal a right, is silenced obviously by wrong doers who do not like their acts- corruption, land grabbing, and other irregular and corrupt acts-made known to the public.

We cannot forget Marcia Garcia-Esperat, columnist for a local newspaper in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao who was shot and killed for exposing the fertilizer scam and other corruption in the Department of Agriculture in which former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was implicated. Maria Len Somera of DZME radio was also gunned down for criticizing land grabbing.

We cannot forget radio commentator Juan Pala who had been vocal against death squads and corruption in Davao. Radio talk show host Gerardo Ortega likewise was killed for speaking against destructive mining in Palawan and corruption of Malampaya Oil funds.

Cordillera had its share with the whacking of a microphone by Kalinga governor JocelBaac on local Radio ng Bayan announcer Jerome Tabanganay for criticizing the governor’s local governance.

It is on the basis of upholding freedom of expression that November 23 was declared as International Day to End Impunity by the global International Freedom of Expression Exchange. It is a day that marks to demand justice for those who have been killed for exercising their right to freedom of expression. It is a crucial day to let people know the ugly face of impunity where masterminds on media killings go unexposed and unpunished. Let this practice end.

November 23 was chosen as the International Day to End Impunity for the killing of 32 journalists when on this unfortunate day two years ago along with other 26 civilians, the journalists were killed in Maguindanao by the Ampatuan clan reportedly led by Gov. Andal Ampatuan.

In the following two years, those responsible for the horrible crime remained scot-free. There are remaining 101 suspects on the loose, with 95 already jailed of 196 accused. News reports say 10 former policemen, four former soldiers, 10 Ampatuan clan members, seven of the clan’s allies, and 70 members of a private armed group remain targets of search.

Impunity as Wikipedia notes refers to the "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. It constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice.

Impunity is common in countries that lack the practice of the rule of law, suffer from corruption or that have entrenched systems of patronage politics, or where the judiciary is weak. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists 2011 Impunity Index, Iraq ranked the highest in terms of unsolved murders 92 in the past 10 years. Somalia and the Philippines joined Iraq at the top of the index. The two countries showed either no improvement or worsening records.

With the declaration of International Day to End Impunity, its very intentions remain to be the call of the day and the days to come. It is a day to stop impunity as every killing means stopping the flow of information which impedes the right of the public to know and be informed of the very acts of their own government. Killing journalists means killing freedom of expression which definitely, should not be tolerated.


Commemorating Andres Bonifacio’s birthday

Vicente C. Dilem

BAGUIO CITY -- In commemoration of the 148th birthday anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, the Kilusang Mayo Uno will be conducting an educational forum on Nov. 29 at the BBCCCC conference hall (near University of Baguio), Assumption Rd, from 1 to 5p.m.

Gat Andres Bonifacio’s ideals and aspirations for the Filipino people are very much alive in today’s generation as the majority of Filipinos are experiencing worsening poverty, oppression and injustice.

The Filipino people are still yearning for freedom from the current enslaving situation: widespread hunger, homelessness, unemployment, low wages and others.

The continuing rise in commodity prices, amid the scanty increase in minimum wages essentially exposes the failure of the regional wage boards in fulfilling their avowed mission of ensuring a “decent standard of living for workers and their families.”

This also points to government neglect of its constitutional duty to recognize “the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production” as stipulated in Sec. 3 Art. XIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

In the Cordillera, the estimated family living wage as of April 2011 is P947- far cry from the P272 minimum wage and even miserable with its real wage value of P156.

The ILO’s “Global Wage Report,” which was released last December 2010, states that the country is among Asian countries which registered one of the highest cuts in the real value of wages.

This means that wages decreased in relation to total income, that there is growing wage inequality, and that the purchasing power of workers has been severely reduced. The current wave of price increases continues that further erode the real value of wages and workers’ purchasing power.

Alongside, the severe financial and economic crisis now wracking the world capitalist system has brought labor “informalization” sharply into focus. Loss of jobs, widespread contractualization, multi-skilling, retrenchments and working-hour cuts and the shift towards “self-employment” became the most marked symptoms of one of worst global recessions.

Among countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has one of the highest – if not the highest – levels of informalization. Statistics show that out of a total 35 million employed, 48% or 16.8 million belong to the informal.

Contractualization is also extensive, with 7 out of 10 firms implementing combinations of flexible work arrangements. It is quite safe to presume that the overwhelming majority of the country's formal sector workers are now contractuals.

This reflects how large numbers of employers have exploited the desperate situation of workers and forced greater flexibilization of work arrangements alongside lower wages, low levels of self-organization, lack of social security, and extremely hazardous working conditions.

Left without an ever-expanding industry to absorb peasants continuously displaced by increasing land monopoly in the countrysides, an abnormally-large labor surplus then becomes an enduring feature of the underdeveloped /export-oriented and import-dependent Philippine economy.

In this circumstance, we will mark the day with a multi-sectoral forum to call for significant wage hike and demand to end contractualization, hunger and poverty. It shall provide a venue for sharing of real situations of the different groups in the marginalized sector that would result to a united stand and sustained campaign against contractualization.

Some 150 participants from the workers, urban poor, youth and students, teachers, government employees, non-government organizations and the church in Baguio City and Benguet Province are expected to join in this forum. Speakers will be invited to provide inputs to the forum.

The forum aims to sustain and strengthen unity among workers and sectors as they renew their commitment to promote and defend the dignity and rights of Filipino workers. The theme for the day is “ Manggagawa at mamamayan magkaisa, palakasin ang laban sa makabuluhang dagdag sahod at seguridad sa paggawa.”You may contact Nida (09165711286) or Daisy (09209198424) for further details.(Vicente C. Dilem is the regional coordinator of Kilusang Mayo Uno Cordillera)


Cordillera anti-gambling task force formed, 3 nabbed; PNP officers involved in jueteng investigated

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet– Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong has created a special task force to stop illegal gambling in the region and probe alleged complicity of police officers who have reportedly acted as “protectors” of jueteng “lords” in exchange for grease money worth millions of pesos.

Magalong’s directive said the Regional Anti-illegal Gambling Special Operations Task Force will oversee, direct and supervise anti-illegal gambling operations regionwide.

A report from the regional police headquarters at Camp Dangwa here said despite several directives to intensify the campaign and eradicate all forms of illegal gambling, regional police still received numerous complaints from the citizenry regarding unabated existence of illegal gambling particularly jueteng.

“Our campaign to address illegal gambling falls short of the public expectation,” the report said. “The public has persistently denounced the continued and unhampered operations of illegal gambling and the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the Philippine National Police to stop this illegal activity.”

The report added: “Reports that some police personnel are involved in this illegal activity as protectors aggravate the situation and affects the whole PNP organization when reports like this are taken in sweeping generality. Hence, a more aggressive and sincere campaign to eradicate all forms of illegal gambling region wide is extremely necessary and therefore, a need to further intensify and sustain this campaign.”

The RAIG-SOTF is headed by the deputy regional police director for operations, Senior Supt. Soriano while Senior Supt. Joseph Adnol, chief of regional police investigation detection management division is assistant task force commander.

Task force members include Supt. George D. Daskeo, officer in charge of regional operations and plans division as secretariat while Supt. Anselmo E. Andayan, chief of regional police legal office and Senior Supt. Virgilio M. Laya, chief of regional police community relations division whose office will serve as spokesperson of the task force.

The RAIG-SOTF will conduct operations against all forms of illegal gambling specifically jueteng anywhere in the region in conformity with Presidential Decree 1602 as amended by Republic Act 9287 increasing penalties for illegal numbers g.

The scope of the RAIG-SOTF encompasses supervision over provincial and city anti-illegal gambling special operation task group and will investigate/validate information on alleged involvement of PNP personnel in illegal gambling activities.

Regional director for operations Senior Supt. Soriano as task force commander will personally supervise implementation of this project regarding the operational and administrative activities at regional, provincial, city and municipal levels.

Following creation of RAIG-SOTF three suspects were arrested while in the act of collecting bets on Nov. 11 by, joint operatives of La Trinidad town and Benguet provincial police.

Nabbed were John BalistoWaywaya and Zenaida C. Antonio.

The suspects were reportedly arrested at Junction, Tomay, La Trinidad and at the Alumpit Compound, Km 6, Poblacion, in the capital town.

The suspects were brought to La Trinidad police station while a case for violation of RA 9287 was being readied for filing at the Benguet Provincial Prosecutors Office agasint them.

The following day, Mankayan town police in Benguet also arrested Ben P. Gawed, 39, of Barangay Cabiten at Barangay Guinaoang.

Gawed was nabbed while collecting jueteng bets. Confiscated from his possession were P250 and jueteng paraphernalia.

To date illegal jueteng operations were still being conducted by “lords” of the illegal numbers game not only in the Cordillera but other parts of northern and Central Luzon at press time, according to informants.

Identified areas where juetengwere prevalent in the Cordillera included Baguio, and the provinces of Abra and Kalinga and Benguet. Towns in Benguet where jueteng was prevalent were La Trinidad, Itogon. Tuba, Tublay, Mankayan and Buguias.

In Baguio, jueteng draws have reportedly increased from three to four draws daily with bets being taken from nearby Benguet towns like Itogon and Tuba.

In Mankayan and Buguias, jueteng had reportedly been unhampered despite reports about the illegal numbers game in the two mining and vegetable towns respectively.-- AD


President Quirino's life, works recalled

By Freddie G. Lazaro

VIGAN CITY - The life of the late President Elpidio R. Quirino was remembered in a simple rite on his 121st birth anniversary held at Plaza Salcedo, Vigan City on Wednesday here.

After the reading of the late president’s autobiography, Quirino’s grandson Eddie Quirino and Provincial Board Members JeremiasSingson and Orlino Tesoro led other local officials, students and employees in a floral offering ceremony at the foot of the former president’s statue erected at the Plaza Salcedo.

As part of the observance of the birth anniversary of late President Quirino, the province is declared special non- working holiday every November 16 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1927 dated November 15, 1979 issued by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Similar Quirino Day celebration was held in President’s hometown in Caoayan town led by Mayor Germelina Singson – Goulart. The Quirino Day rite culminated the annual town fiesta of Caoayan town.

Meanwhile, the Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral offered a mass for late President Quirino on Wednesday afternoon.

In a press interview, Provincial Board member Singson told that remembering the significant highlights of life and works of late President Quirino drew inspiration among the youths, students and future leaders of the province and nation.

The colorful life story of late President Quirino, who was the 6th President of the Philippine Republic, started when he was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on November 16, 1890. His parents were Don Mariano Quirino of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur and Doña Gregoria Mendoza Rivera of Agoo, La Union. He was a native of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur although he was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Quirino spent his early years in Aringay, La Union. He studied and graduated his elementary education to his native Caoayan, where he became a barrio teacher. He received secondary education at Vigan High School, and then he went to Manila where he worked as junior computer in the Bureau of Lands and as property clerk in the Manila police department. He graduated from Manila High School in 1911 and also passed the civil service examination, first-grade.

In 1915, Quirino earned his law degree from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law, and admitted to the bar later that year. After obtaining a law degree from UP, he practiced law until he was elected a member of the Philippine House of Representatives in 1919-1925 and a senator in 1925-1931.

In 1934, he was a member of the Philippine independence mission to Washington, D.C., headed by Manuel Quezon, which secured the passage in Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, setting the date for Philippine Independence as July 4, 1946.

He was also elected to the convention that drafted a constitution for the new Philippine Commonwealth. Subsequently he served as secretary of finance and secretary of the interior in the Commonwealth government.

After World War II, Quirino served as secretary of state and vice president under the first president of the independent Philippines, Manuel Roxas. When Roxas died on April 15, 1948, Quirino succeeded to the presidency.

Quirino assumed the presidency on April 17, 1948, taking his oath of office two days after the death of Manuel Roxas. His first official act as the President was the proclamation of a state mourning throughout the country for Roxas' death. Since Quirino was a widower, his surviving daughter Vicky would serve as the official hostess and perform the functions traditionally ascribed to the First Lady.

The following year, he was elected president for a four-year term on the Liberal Party ticket, defeating the Nacionalista party candidate.

ElpidioQuirino's six years as president were marked by notable postwar reconstruction, general economic gains, and increased economic aid from the United States

The Quirino administration was generally challenged by the Hukbalahaps, who ransacked towns and barrios. Quirino ran for president again in the 1953 presidential elections, but was defeated by Nacionalista bet Ramon Magsaysay.

After his term, he retired to his home in Novaliches, Quezon City, where he died of a heart attack on February 29, 1956.


Magat releases water; hundreds evacuated

By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan— Gatekeepers of the 350-megawatt Magat Dam in Ramon, Isabela province confirmed Thursday it had started releasing excess water from its reservoir since Wednesday due to continuous rains in the Cagayan Valley region.

Provincial disaster management officials reported that 43 out of the 910 families affected by continuous heavy rains and floods in Cagayan province have already been evacuated.

This is over 200 evacuees in Bagao and Sta. Teresita towns since Wednesday.

Releasing of water from the dam began when it registered a water elevation at 192.95 cubic meters, which was already near its spilling level of 193 meters.

Engineer Wilfredo Gloria of the National Irrigation Administration – Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS), said the dam had also registered an inflow of 1,173 cubic meters per second (cm) and outflow at 983 cubic meters per second.

“The dam has already registered an inflow of more than one thousand cubic meter per second as of 12 noon last Wednesday and had opened two of its spilling gates at five meters each in anticipation of the incoming rainwater from the dam’s watershed areas,” Gloria said.

Last Tuesday, the dam management recorded heavy rainfalls in the dam’s watershed areas such as in Santo Domingo with 5 cm; Dumayup with 12 cm; Halong with 17 cm; and Magat with 22 cm.

Meanwhile, overflowing of water at three bridges in Isabela province had rendered them impassable last Wednesday.

The swelling of water flooded Alicaocao Bridge in Cauayan City as well as the bridges connecting Santo Tomas and Cabagan towns, and Sta. Maria and Cabagan.

Gloria said there was an abrupt increase of water level along the Cagayan River and creeks, caused by the prevalence of heavy rains in the region.
In Aparri, Cagayan, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended all travel of shipping vessels from this town to the island towns of Cagayan and Isabela provinces because of the big waves.

PCG Chief Petty Officer Ernesto Renon based in Aparri, Cagayan said the cancelled ferry schedules were those going to the coastal towns of Maconacon and Divilacan in Isabela province; and Camiguin and Calayan Islands in Cagayan province.

He said the journey of shipping vessels along the shorelines of Cagayan province is considered risky due to big sea waves. He also warned that fishing venture at sea in Cagayan is not safe.

He also warned local residents to take extra precaution on possible flash floods and landslides that might be caused by rainshowers and thunderstorms over Cagayan Valley provinces.


3 nabbed for shabu in Baguio inn

BAGUIO CITY -- Three alleged shabu dealers were nabbed here by anti-narcotics agents in different operations inside an inn along Marcos Highway last week.

Nestor G. Amonte, alias Vic, 25, of Cotabato City, was caught red-handed during a buy-bust operation by Philippine Drug enforcement Agency agents Nov. 10, 8:30 p.m. in a rooms at the Peak Blossom Inn along km 4, Marcos Highway while selling a a sachet of .17 gram shabu for P2,500 to a PDEA agent who posed as buyer.

Amonte was found using shabu, in which paraphernalia for the dangerous drug such as improvised glass tube, scissor, lighters and improvised tooter were found on the table in his room, as he even invited the undercover agents to join him and try his stuff.

Consequently, a urine sample taken from Amonte gave positive test result for shabu.

Cases for illegal drugs were filed in court against Amonte last Nov. 14.

Earlier, on Nov. 9, Harold Hunter S. Espina, 27 of Barangay Hillside and Jemaicah A. Tuazon, 21 of Barangay Gen. Luna were arrested while selling two sachets of shabu, weighing .12 gram, for P2,000 to a PDEA agent in a buy-bust operation at about 10. p.m. also in one of the rooms in another floor of the Inn.

Moreover, seized from the two suspects were two other plastic sachets with shabu residues, one improvised aluminum foil tooter with shabu, a roll of aluminum foil, two lighters and a scissor.

The PDEA Cordillera operatives were assisted during the operation by members of the City Public Safety Company of the Baguio City Police Office and the crew of the “Bitag” show of TV5.

Espina and Tuazon were also charged in court for illegal drugs.


Leptospirosis cases in Pangasinan up 400%

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan– Provincial health authorities have expressed alarm over the 400 percent increase in lep¬tospirosis cases mostly among farmers across the province.

Dr. Anna de Guzman, provincial health officer, said last year, there were only four leptospirosis-related deaths but this rose to 11 this year.

From January to October last year, De Guzman said there were 22 cases compared to 100 cases so far this year.

Her team recently confirmed 10 out of 16 suspected cases of farmers reportedly afflicted with leptospirosis in Rosales town, most of them suffering from renal failure.

Aside from Rosales, those with the highest number of leptospirosis cases are Dagupan City and Mangaldan and Malasiqui towns, she said.

Malasiqui Mayor Armando Domantay earlier said he has put up a special assistance desk for residents afflicted with leptospirosis for immediate financial help.

De Guzman said farmers are prone to the disease due to the presence of dagangbukid (field rats) in their farmlands. Working barefoot in rice fields exposes them to rat urine, she said.

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called spirochete. It can be transmitted by many animals such as rats and through contact with contaminated soil or water.

People contract the disease by either ingesting contaminated food or water or through broken skin or mucous membrane (eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth).

De Guzman advised patients to seek early consultation after four or five days if they manifest flu-like symptoms.


Sagada folks press peace zone concept

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- This tourist town declared as a peace zone since the late 1980s has learnings some folks shared during the peace zone consultation held here in Barangay Aguid, Nov. 16.

In this northern part of the municipality frequented by members of the New Peoples Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, elder Alipio Daluyen of Fidelisan barangay said both the NPA and the government’s military forces should stop fighting.

Daluyen’s pronouncement saw earlier position of Fidelisan villagers in February 2008 when they forwarded their resolution letting concerned authorities know that they didn’t want NPAs or government military soldiers stopping by their homes to rest or eat.

They called on 5th ID commanding General Rommel Gomez for the immediate pullout of the military.

Villagers of the northern barangays of Fidelisan, Pide, Aguid, Bangaan, and Madongo also forwarded a petition calling for the demilitarization of their communities in 2010. Experience of the people tell of their hesitance tending to their farms on the presence of both armed groups for fear of being caught in cross fires or get harassed.

During said peace consultation last week, peace advocate and former Sagada mayor Tom Killip said peace zones get evolved in an ‘ili’ (community) as to how the people define their peace keeping efforts.

Sagada as a peace zone dates back in the dark days of the later years of 1980s. The people of Sagada cannot forget October 28, 1988 when drunk soldiers of the 50th IB shot four year old Hardy BagniJr and 17 year old Kenneth Bayang at the town’ s Poblacion area.

Following this bloody incident, a letter on Nov. 8, 1988 from the people of Sagada led by the people’s town officials, church authorities, and town’s folks was sent to both the AFP and the NPA calling for immediate ceasefire and demilitarization meaning, pull out of all armed groups to include no operations, patrols, harassments, meetings, and carrying of firearms inside the territory of Sagada.

Barely three days after the letter was sent to the AFP and NPA, 12 year old Ben Tumapang Jr. was shot on Nov. 11, 1988, the bullet not established where it came from whether from a machine gun of a government soldier or an NPA when both armed groups had a clash near Bomabanga Central School in the town’s central area.

A resolution from the people was further forwarded in Feb. 10, 1989 calling for Sagada to be a designated area for peaceful negotiations and venue for safe conduct for all wounded and medical treatment.

Sagada as a peace zone was eventually recognized in 1993 by Senate in a resolution forwarded by Senator Rodolfo Biazon which identified Sagada as a special development area along with six other SDAs in the country, and each area allotted a P5 million development fund allotted for waterworks.

Comes now the proposal of the Provincial Peace and Order Council headed by Gov. Leonard Mayaen to declare Mountain Province as a peace zone with the operational framework that both armed groups referring to the NPA and the AFP leave the Province at the same time and both direct and indirect activities such as indoctrination cease; except the Philippine National Police which shall serve as the peace keeping force.

In the said consultation in Aguid attended by some 400 individuals, 148 participants from government personnel and members of the police force and some members of the community voted Yes while 35 voted No with esults of the secret balloting revealed during said activity.

Peace zone consultations attended by government officers, barangay officials and some villagers had already been conducted in Sabangan, Sadanga, and Bontoc.

Consultations held in the municipalities of Sabangan and Bontoc favored that the province be declared a peace zone while Sadanga overwhelmingly voted No.

Question arose on how to maintain a peace zone within the territory of Mountain Province where fightings happen between the two armed groups in the boundaries of the Province and an adjacent province.

Adjacent provinces are Abra, Ilocos Sur, Benguet, Ifugao and Kalinga.

Mayaen said the people shall be the ones to decide on whether to have a peace zone in their communities.

It would be the will of the peple when the military shall leave should or come back if there are reports that NPAs are noted to be in the territory of the Province, Mayaen said.

Newly installed Philippine National Police regional director Gen. Benjamin Magalong who attended said activity, said the PNP force and its facilities are not enough to maintain peace and keep both the NPA and the AFP out of the province.

Magalong called on the people to help keep peace in their communities.

Elder and board member Alfonso Kiat-ong of the SangguniangPanlalawigan said members of the NPA should instead come home and lay down their arms instead of leaving the province.

While that is so, a standing question persists on the assurance of the NPAs or even the government military leaving the territory of Mountain Province should it be declared a peace zone.

It was also learned last year that some public buildings including schools were used as quarters by military soldiers of the government despite Sagada being a peace zone.

This, despite provisions of RA 7610 that school buildings shall not be used for any military purpose, Bangaan National High School principal Patrick Pooten noted.

As history showed in 2006, the town saw operations of the armed groups when NPAs ambushed military soldiers along Pegew junction in the road boundary of Sagada and Bontoc scaring people nearby off their farms.

Military encampments were noted in Lamag, Qurino; Dandanac in Tamboan, Besao; and Mt Labayan and Mt Datacan north of Sagada.

This led the MP-based Peace Ecumenical Council to call for the immediate demilitarization of Bontoc, Sagada, and Besao; and the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 2006.

As to what causes insurgency should be addressed by the government including lack of water, roads, social services, and employment Sagada vice Mayor Richard Yodong said.

Mayaen said a P5,000 allowance per month is given to rebel returnees who do some work in their respective communities.

Currently, 37 rebel returnees availed of monetary assistance from the provincial government.

Insurgency being a national issue, Sagada elder Jaime Tigan-o Dogao and Cordillera Peoples Alliance officer Marcelo Daweg pushed for the continuance of peace talks between the NPA-Communist Party of the Philippines and the Philippine government.

Mayaen said the motion, duly supported by Sagada Councilor Francis Kilongan shall be accordingly taken in the next meeting of the PPOC.

The PPOC holds meeting every month.


Three NPA rebels surrender in Abra

LACUB, Abra -- Three New Peoples Army rebels voluntarily surrendered to authorities here last week and availed of the govenrment’s Social Integration Program.

They were identified as Renato Bernal, a.k.a. Recto/Alex/ Linggon 37, of Lacub; Leomar A. Barbero, a.k.a. Whisky/Brando of Lagangilang town and Winston B. Gaano, a.k.a Jun/ Warner/Sin, 21, of Mataragan, Malibcong, all in the province.

Bernal surrendered without firearm on Nov. 15 to elements of the Joint Armed Forces and Police Intelligence Community composed of personnel from the 41st Infantry Battalion(IB), 503rd Brigade, Military Intelligence Company (MICO), 50Infantry Battalion (IB), Special Operation Team (SPOT 1-5), MIG-1, ISAFP, Regional Intelligence Division (RID) and Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU-14) of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, and the 24th Special Action Company (SAC) of the PNP-SAF at Barangay Paganao, Lagangilang, Abra.

Bernal was listed Number 7 in the Order of Battle of Abra and also the medical officer of SangayngPartidoPampulitika South Central (TAHOMA) operating in the Bucloc, Daguioman and Sallapadan (BUDASA) area.

The former rebel is now under the custody of the 503rdBrigade for tactical interrogation.

On Nov. 14, Barbero also voluntarily surrendered without firearm to joint elements of 503rd Brigade; 51st IB 5ID PA; 53rd MICO 5ID PA; 50 IB 5ID PA; SPOT 1-5; MIG-1; ISAFP; Malibcong Municipal Police Station and Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of Abra Police Provincial Office; Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU-14) and the 24th Special Action Company (SAC2) and Special Action Battalion (SAB) of the PNP-SAF.

Barbero who surrendered at Tagodtod, Lagangilang town was identified as the supply officer of the NPA’s Team DOS, SPP South Central (TAHOMA) and he is now under the custody of the 41st Infantry Battalion.

Also on Nov. 14, Gaano, also voluntarily surrendered without firearm to joint elements of earlier said law enforcement units.

Gaano, who surrendered at Pitao, Tayum town was identified as assistant political officer fo same NPA group. The surrenderee is now under the custody of the 503rd Brigade.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong cited the Abra Police Provincial Office under Provincial Director Senior Supt. Armando Lagiwid, members of the Philippine Army based in Abra and provincial and local officials for the surrender of the NPA rebels.


  © Blogger templates Palm by 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics