Provincial PNP chief sacked: DILG probes P’sinan gov on jueteng mess

>> Saturday, December 29, 2012

PANGASINAN- Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has created a panel to look into the accusations against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino which included getting payoffs of P900 million form jueteng even as the provincial police chief was sacked Wednesday for failure to stop the illegal numbers game.  

Roxas has tapped Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Santos to lead the investigating body with members including Undersecretary for Local Government Austere Panadero and the DILG Legal Service.

Roxas also revealed that the panel has sent a letter of request to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies to check on Espino’s financial records.

 “Well, we can say that there is a lifestyle check. if Gov. Espino’s lifestyle matched with his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). Reports had it that he received P900 million, so where is the money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., who took over as OIC police director last July, was fired from his post and transferred to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

His relief order was signed by Director Elpidio de Asis, personnel and records management chief of the Philippine National Police. 

Verzosa was replaced by Senior Supt. Manolito Labrador, deputy director for operations of the Region 1 police, in an acting capacity.

Sources said the jueteng controversy had something to do with Verzosa’s relief.

Other sources, however, said he lost his post as his daughter Ma. Andrea Verzosa-Meneses is running for re-election as councilor of this capital town.

Last week, Bugallon town Mayor Rodrigo Orduña, a confessed jueteng operator, surfaced and accused Espino of receiving protection money from the illegal numbers game. He subsequently filed a plunder case against Espino before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Following the exposé, Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas was reported to have ordered the relief of police chiefs in this province.    But no official order was received by the provincial police as of Wednesday.

Verzosa could not be reached for comment. Hours before his relief though, he told reporters that police officers like him must be ready to lose their post any time.

In a media forum in Dagupan City Wednesday, Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, from whom Orduña sought help prior to his exposé, said the jueteng issue may be politically motivated because the illegal numbers game is politically tolerated.

Braganza is running for governor under the Liberal Party against re-electionist Espino of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Braganza said it is the most convenient way for an official under attack like Espino to claim that the allegation is politically motivated.

“But to us, when we are under attack by the governor’s supporters, the media included, we roll with the punches,” he said.

He added that Espino should not be onion-skinned about the allegations against him.

Both Braganza and his running mate, retired PNP chief Arturo Lomibao, admitted the jueteng issue against Espino works to their advantage. 

“Ric (Orduña) has a mind of his own, maybe he has matured in politics the way he looks at things. That’s beyond personal consideration so let’s give it to him on what will happen to this issue, so be it. Everybody has a day in court,” Lomibao said.

Braganza said there has been no jueteng in Alaminos for many years. “I am not moralizing on it. It is our own personal conviction,” he said.

Espino has tapped a pool of 12 prominent lawyers not only to defend him in the plunder case but also to run after his political rivals who are behind the “smear campaign” against him.

Lawyer Abraham Espejo, Espino’s lead legal counsel Abraham Espejo, yesterday said Espino instructed them to prepare criminal actions against his “political enemies who bankrolled the smear campaign against him in time for next year’s midterm elections.”

Espino’s camp believes that his “overwhelming election” in previous polls and his “exemplary record” as a government official and police officer could be reason behind the black propaganda linking him to jueteng operations.

 “Recent surveys show that Gov. Espino is leading by a very big margin over his opponent,” Espejo said.

He added that Espino will remain as a loyal member of the NPC and will continue to support the ruling coalition of President Aquino.

Espejo is a known lawyer of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. He is joined in the legal team by lawyers Alexis Medina, Citedina Magno-Zarate, Nancy Ocampo-Omatdo, Madel Villaroman-Fiel, Allen Blair Boy, Janice Regoso, Salvador Medialdea, Loreto Ata, Zann Paolo Pacificador, Lorna Imelda Suarez, and Alexander Poblador, a known lawyer of Sen. PanfiloLacson.

Meanwhile, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) may be out to remove Espino in the wake of accusations he is involved in jueteng, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) said yesterday.

Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian, NPC spokesman, said the allegations against Espino, who belongs to the coalition, could be attributed to politics.

The ruling LP and NPC have forged an agreement to support a common senatorial candidate in next year’s elections. However, such an agreement does not extend to the local level.

President Aquino had advised Espino Jr. to stop complaining about alleged political harassment and just face squarely the plunder charges filed against him over his alleged involvement in jueteng.

Aquino made this suggestion through presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, who also shot down insinuations that the Aquino administration is harassing Espino, a political ally from the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

“As we have said and mentioned, politics is not involved when it comes to this particular case of Gov. Espino. We encourage him to just answer the charges against him in the proper forum,” she said over state-run radio station dzRB. 

This, as Orduña Wednesday urged Espina to show a copy of his SALN to prove that he got his earnings from businesses and not from jueteng payola.

In a press conference here, Orduña, also dared Espino to undergo a lie detector test along with him.

Orduña stood firm in his allegations that Espino had received as much as P900 million in jueteng payola until his falling out with the governor. He has admitted being an operator of the illegal numbers game.

Orduña said after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy, Espino had been a government employee until he retired as Region 1 police director and got elected as congressman and governor.

He said it is normal for Espino to deny the accusations, adding though that he has other witnesses who could corroborate what he stated in his sworn affidavit in the plunder case he filed against the governor at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Orduña and his supporters paid a courtesy call on Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas before the press conference.

Meanwhile, Braganza advised Espino to “look at the mirror and see who’s to blame for the jueteng mess in Pangasinan.”

In a statement, the LP in Pangasinan quoted Braganza as saying that Espino should stop from blaming everybody for the unhampered operations of jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the province.

“First, he is blaming the mayors of Pangasinan for issuing permits for jai alai which is now the cover of jueteng operations in the province. Later, he started pointing his finger at me as the source of his political problems,” Braganza said.

Citing Orduña’s allegations, Braganza said it was Espino who elevated the status of jueteng activities in Pangasinan from “guerrilla-type” to “province-wide and centralized” operations. 

Orduña, who said he used to be a trusted political lieutenant of Espino, filed a plunder case against the governor for allegedly receiving about P900 million in protection money from jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the province.

Orduña’s allegations were corroborated by Fernando Alimagno alias Boy Bata, the PDP-Laban mayoral candidate in Candelaria, Quezon, who admitted that he was one of the biggest operators of jueteng and jai alai in Pangasinan.

Orduña alleged that Espino cajoled him into forming a partnership so they could take over jueteng operations in Pangasinan immediately after the latter was elected governor in 2007.           

Espino has denied the allegations, which he dismissed as “politically motivated” and “an old issue.”

But Braganza said Espino has the habit of using the term “politically motivated” every time he would be linked to illegal activities such as black sand mining and quarrying or would carry out “anti-people” policies such as the 300 percent increase in real property tax.

On Wednesday, Orduña told media that the governor should also show proof of his business enterprises, if any, from which he has earned his riches.


This, as the Pangasinan Mayors’ League (PML) and the SangguniangPanlalawigan (Provincial Council) expressed Wednesday their full support and confidence in the integrity and leadership of Espino.

The president of the Pangasinan Mayors League, Dasol Mayor Noel Nacar, led those who signed the manifesto during an emergency meeting at the Capitol Resort Hotel here Monday.

Those who signed the manifesto included mayors Alfonso Celeste (Bolinao), Carlitos Reyes (Mabini), John Rodney Arcinue (Sual), Jose Pajeta (Agno), Alberto Guiang (Burgos), AldrinCerdan (Anda), Lorenzo Cerezo (Binmaley), Eduardo Ballesteros (Aguilar), Ernesto Castañeda Jr. (Lingayen), Mark Roy Macanlalay (Calasiao), JulierResuello (San Carlos City) and CarlitoZaplan (Sta. Barbara).

Irene Libunao (San Fabian), Herminio Romero  (Mangaldan),  SilverioAlarcio (Laoac), Manuel Collado (Alcala), Mina Joy Pangasinan (Sison), Amado Espino III (Bautista), Phillip Peralta (Umingan), Eldred Tumbocon (San Nicolas), LeoncioSaldivar III (Sta. Maria) and Teodoro Ramos (San Manuel) also signed the manifesto. 

Vice Mayor Virgilio Vallarta of Infanta town, who filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor with Mayor Ruperto Martinez, who was killed  last Dec. 15, as his running mate, was also present during the meeting. 


Abra politicians surrender firearms

BANGUED, Abra -- Politicians in this strife-torn province  turned in six licensed guns in the second wave of temporary surrender of license firearms ahead of the 2013 elections.
Lacub town Mayor Estelita Bersamina turned in two AKKAR 12-gauge shotguns; Pilar Mayor JajaDisono, a caliber .30 M2 carbine; Tubo  Mayor Wilma Gattud, an AKKAR 12-gauge shotgun; Danglas  Mayor Esther Bernos, a caliber .45 pistol; and chairman Victor Escalante of Barangay Velasco in Tayum town village, a .22 homemade pistol with one magazine.
Bangued Mayor Ryan Luna also surrendered an active and four “potential” members of a private armed group known as the “Vincent Guzman group,” said to be the only existing PAG in the province. 
“It is a breakthrough in our efforts to ensure the holding of secure elections in Abra and the province from being included in the priority areas to be placed under the control of the Comelec,” Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said.
At least 38 licensed firearms were earlier turned over by Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, La Paz Mayor Joseph Bernos and other mayors in a bid to curb violence in preparation for the elections.
The firearms will be returned to the owners after the elections.


9 Cagayan cops survive mine blast set by NPAs

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Nine policemen narrowly cheated death in a landmine explosion in interior Piat town in Cagayan on Dec. 16, according to belated reports.

The policemen, who belong to the regional safety battalion, were on security patrol along the provincial road in remote Baung village when the blast occurred just near them, said Senior Supt. Gregorio Lim, Cagayan police director.

A barrage of gunfire from suspected communist rebels then ensued, forcing the policemen to run for their safety until they were able to fire back.

The rebels then withdrew toward the hinterlands.


Luzon back-up power site nearly done

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) disclosed on Wednesday that it would soon finish its new Back-up Luzon Regional Control Center (LRCC) located at its Mexico Substation in Pampanga.

Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP North Luzon Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Officer, said the back-up control center will serve as the dispatching and control arena of power supply and demand for the whole Luzon should the main regional control center be unavailable.

It will house the NGCP’s System Operations’ (SO) equipment, including a new projector system, telecommunications, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and Energy Management System (EMS), Gaydowen bared.

According to the system operator, the project, which costs approximately P125 million, will be completed before the end of the year.

The Back-up LRCC now features the new Open 3000 technology – a more advanced software application in monitoring the grid’s operation.

This makes it akin to the Luzon Regional Control Center, also known as the National Control Center (NCC) in Diliman, Quezon City; the Visayas Regional Control Center in Cebu, and the Mindanao Regional Control Center in Cagayan De Oro City, which were refurbished and upgraded earlier this year.

“The advantage of using the Open 3000 software is that the various sub-systems of SO, such as SCADA and EMS, will be integrated and will share the same platform for common services like system administration, data access, and reporting tools which will, in turn, expedite internal procedures.

“Reliability of transmission services will likewise be improved because the grids of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao will now operate on one platform, thereby ensuring consistency and compatibility in operations,” Gaydowen explained.

The SCADA pertains to a set of integrated computer systems used in gathering real-time data regarding power systems operations from remote locations and equipment to monitor and control the grid. These data are being managed and consolidated through the EMS to oversee the grid.


4 Kalinga armed group members yield to cops

TABUK CITY, Kalinga - Four members of Private Armed Groups (PAGS) in Kalinga voluntarily surrendered to law enforcers here last week heeding the call of police and local officials to ensure fair elections during the May 2013 local polls.

 In Camp Dangwa, Benguet, Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, Cordillera police director, said the son and nephew of CosmeBasungitGunnawa, and his wife Grace Pinated Gunnawa surrendered two members of the PAGs on Dec. 8 at Camp Juan M. Duyan, Bulanao, Kalinga police provincial office.

Magalong identified the surrenderees as Cosme Pinated Gunnawa Jr. alias Bongad, the son of the  Gunnawa couple and AsleyPinated, alias Atley, nephew of Ms Gunnawa who are both members of the Virgilio Gunnawa PAG.

Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand B. Tubban, Magdalena Moldero Gumangan Alias Apong Dalen of Radio Natin, PO3 Marvin B. Bocalbos of the Philippine Navy, military officials and Kalinga provincial police officials witnessed the surrender of Bongad and Atley.

During the meeting, Tubban and the other personalities bared involvement of the two PAG members and presented documents regarding their dismissed cases and clearances from the barangay and courts. 

On Dec. 11, two brothers, also members of the Paul Dillaga PAG (formerly GeofreyBanya-ao PAG) voluntarily surrendered at Camp Duyan.

Magalong identified the other two surrenderees as Mark Dacnas who was listed as an active member and his brother Eugene Dacnas, who was previously delisted from the group.

Both individuals presented themselves to Kalinga provincial police officials.

Both brothers were accompanied by Willy Cos-agon and barangay captain Rogelio Polon of Barangay Cabaruan, Tabuk City.

The surrender was witnessed by Aquino S. Perez of DZRK, Radio Ng Bayan, Tabuk City and Pastor SagradoAgdamag.  

Both said they surrendered considering that police launched an all-out campaign to rid the region of PAGs in preparation for the conduct of peaceful and free elections next year. 


Ilocos Norte board suspends mayor

PASUQUIN, Ilocos Norte – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of has ordered the suspension for one month of Mayor Vicky Aguinaldo of this town over an administrative complaint filed against her by the municipal council.

Vice Mayor Peter Felix Aguinaldo and some councilors questioned the alleged questionable projects that Aguinaldo implemented in the municipality.

Last Dec. 10, the provincial board  ordered the four-month suspension of Pagudpud Mayor Maja Sales for alleged abuse of authority.


CPLA group now member of Cordillera peace council

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

BAGUIO CITY-- A former armed group in the region that  started the pursuit of Cordillera regional autonomy was accepted as a new member in the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council.

The Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) now known as the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD) was accepted in the council during the fourth quarter RPOC meeting here recently.

The CFPD has been requesting to become member of the RPOC after the CPLA-Cordillera Bodong Administration  signed a memorandum  of agreement with the Philippine government last year  towards the group's  final disposition of arms and forces and its transformation into a socio-economic force.

CFPD chairman Arsenio Humiding earlier presented the  RPOC documents including registration to the Securities and Exchange Commission of their group proving that they have been transformed into a socio-economic group pursuant to the provisions of the MOA.

RPOC chairman, Ifugao Gov. Eugene Balitang,  said that the application of the CFPD to be a member of the RPOC was put on hold in previous meetings due to process  they have been undertaking on their transformation  as unarmed force.

The Philippine Army battalions based  in the Cordillera namely the 501st, 502nd and 503rd Infantry Brigades  were reportedly supportive of the move of the former rebel group to join the RPOC and help in peace and order efforts in the region.

The past months, the CFPD conducted profiling of its members in Cordillera provinces.

At present, more than 1,000 members have been profiled.

Through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Police Regional Office – Cordillera also  conducted  inventory and valuation of  firearms and explosives  of the CFPD members.

The turn-over was conducted in six provinces in the region but the police are still waiting for the final turn-over of firearms and explosives after only 386 were valuated out of the more than 600 which were previously reported by the CPLA.


Gov’t, NDF OK 27-day nationwide ceasefire

By Mar T. Supnad

PALAYAN CITY – The government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) have agreed on a 27-day nationwide ceasefire.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the ceasefire started Thursday and will end Jan. 15.

This, after a top military general urged Monday the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army to  declare bilateral ceasefire in geo-hazard prone areas in the country  “to prove their real concern to the Filipino people.”
Brig. Gen.  Gregorio Pio Catapang, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, aired the appeal to rebels following statement made by the CPP/NPA in Mindanao they were declaring ceasefire in provinces severely hit by Yyphoon Pablo recently.    

 “I am challenging them (rebels) to also declare bilateral ceasefire to all geo-hazard areas throughout the country to let the government forces extend more assistance to the people without being harassed by the armed groups of CPP/NPA,” said Catapang.
By doing so, the Army general said, the public in such areas can be given assistance without fear of encounter between  government forces and rebels.
“Bakit kailangan pang antayin  natin na may mga mamamatay muna sa kalamidad bago ideklarang mga rebelde ang ceasefire sa mga lugar natatamaan ng matinding bagyo; dapat ideklara nila ang tigil-putokan din sa lahat na identified na geo-hazard areas sa boung bansa para walang sagabal ang pagtulong sa mga calamity areas sa bansa,” said Catapang.

The area of responsibility of Catapang includes  Central Luzon, Region 1 Northern Luzon and parts of Davao where a battalion of his men are deployed.

Dubbed “living hero” for his heroism during the EDSA 1 revolution, Catapang said people need economic development, decent jobs and a peaceful community as the  insurgency problem in the country is waning.

Government data showed that the death toll brought about by typhoon Pablo in Mindanao reached to more than 1,000 while more than 800 persons were missing and presumed dead.


Arenas substituted by mom in Congress bid

DAGUPAN CITY – Ending months of speculation, philanthropist Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas Thursday substituted for her daughter, Rep. Ma. Rachel Arenas, in the third district congressional race in Pangasinan.

Mother and daughter went to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections here yesterday morning for Rep. Arenas of the Liberal Party to officially withdraw her candidacy for what could have been her third term and for her mother to substitute for her.

The elder Arenas, a director of the Manila Economic Cultural Office, would run unopposed, making her a virtual winner in the congressional race next year.

“Serving my much-loved people here in the third district of Pangasinan has brought me joy unlike any other. My life has been made more meaningful because you allowed me to be a part of yours. Together, we have shared the tribulation of tragedies and calamities and the joy of progress,” Rep. Arenas said.

She said she drew “examples of true public service” from her mother. “I tried to live by the virtues she has taught me from the womb and to give back to this community in a manner that would make her proud.”

She said it would be a great sacrifice for her mother to give up the “relative peace of her private life to venture once again in public service.”

Rep. Arenas, meanwhile, denied that she was offered an appointive position. In the meantime, she said she would help her mother in the third district.

Lawyer Marino Salas, provincial election supervisor, said the basic requirement for substitution is that “the substitute should come from the same political party as the one substituted.”

“There should be a withdrawal and there should be substitution on or before Dec. 21,” he added.

Salas said it is only in the third district that there is a substitution.


Aboitiz pays P83.56M taxes: Dev’t for villages near Benguet dams hastened

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - Development in villages hosting the 105-megawatt Ambuclao dam in Bokod and the 125-megawatt Binga dam in Itogon will be hastened following the advance payment of at least P83.56 million real property taxes to the municipalities and barangays hosting the two power plants.

 Emmanuel Rubio, president and chief executive officer of SN Aboitiz Power Benguet, turned over to Bokod Mayor Mauricio Macai a check worth P61.35 million representing the company’s advance payment for realty property taxes to the municipal government for the facilities of the Ambuclao dam.

He also turned over to ItogonVice Mayor Noel Ngolob and Councilor Norberto Pacio a check worth P22.21 million also as advance payment of the company’s real property taxes next year for the facilities of the Binga dam, which is currently undergoing rehabilitation and operating at around 62.5 megawatts.

 “50 percent of the two payments which is equivalent to P30.675 million and 11.105 million, respectively, will be equally divided by the provincial school board and the concerned municipal school board purposely to build more school buildings and sports facilities as well as hire additional teachers,” Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan, who witnessed the turnover ceremonies Thursday at the Ben Palispis hall of the Benguet Capitol, said.

He added the remaining 50 percent of the payment will be divided pursuant to the provisions of the Local Government Code of the Philippines.
Under Republic Act (RA) 7160, the prescribed sharing of real property taxes shall be 45 percent for the municipal government, 35 percent for the barangay concerned and 20 percent will accrue to the coffers of the provincial government. Barangay Ambuclao in Bokod town hosts the Ambuclao dam while barangay Tinongdan in Itogon hosts the Binga hydroelectric power plant.

Last year, SNAP also paid its real property taxes amounting to around P61.3 million in advance to the Bokod municipal government in order to provide concerned local governments with added income that could be used to bankroll the implementation of more development projects and improve the delivery of basic services to the people.

 “SNAP Benguet wants to witness the growth of its host communities simultaneous with its existence in the areas where our power facilities are situated and leave a worthy legacy for other businesses to emulate,” Rubio stressed, adding that the company is inclined to maximize the utilization of the province’s rich water resources and simultaneously guarantee economic growth and provide more employment and livelihood opportunities for the people.
According to Fongwan, the province’s share from the 50 percent advance payment of real property taxes were used to sustain the hiring of 100 teachers paid by the provincial school board and the building of more than 10 school buildings in the different towns and the construction of a P5 million gymnasium in Kabayan town.

He added that this year’s share from the advance real property tax payment will be used to construct more school buildings in other municipalities that need added classrooms and the hiring of more teachers who will be asked to teach in far flung communities and bring education closer to the people.


Benguet forest protection pushed

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Results of the biodiversity assessment conducted by the Benguet State University – College of Forestry (BSU) in partnership with the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc (JVOFI) indicate that the floral and faunal diversity of Benguet is still rich and needs to be sustainably managed.
The biodiversity assessment was conducted under the European Union project “Saving the Benguet Watersheds for Water” last April to May 2012 in the six demonstration sites of the project, namely: Tublay (Ambassador); Bokod (Poblacion); Atok (Poblacion); Kibungan (Sagpat); Buguias (Loo) &Sablan (Banangan).

During the assessment, faunal species like the Philippine Hawk-Eagle, classified to be endemic and vulnerable were seen in Sablan and Atok. Proof of existence of the endangered deer or Makawas in local term was derived by the researchers in the communal forests of   Kibungan and Sablan. Also, the endangered Philippine Palm Civet or the Musang/Mutit which is known to produce the expensive Alamid coffee was seen copious within these communal forests.

Floral species, such as the wild raspberry and pinit (wild berry) which are also listed as near threatened can still be found thriving in these communal forests. Dr. Marissa Parao, Faculty of the BSU College of Forestry said that the results of the assessment are indicative of Benguet’s rich biodiversity with Benguet Province still a key biodiversity area. She also added that there are so many forests in Benguet that are very healthy and intact.

With these, Dr. Parao recommended that the resources in the areas should be carefully and sustainably utilized to preserve multiple functions of the forest. The community should learn about the mating season and migrating season of the faunal species to regulate or prevent hunting of birds and other animals. They should also relay the use of species to younger generations for them to value and safeguard their resources. The community should do rehabilitation and fire protection activities while the Barangay LGUs are encouraged to enact local ordinances   on protection & conservation.

Kagawad Allan Mainim, member of the Barangay Banangan Committee on Environment said that the existence of the Philippine Hawk-Eagle in Sablan is proof that their forests are still healthy. “We will continue to protect our forest that serves as habitat for these species as well as for all the other animals and floral species that are present in our forests”, Mainim added.

The biodiversity assessment is one of the important aspects in the devolution process of forest management from the DENR to LGUs under the framework of existing legislation (RA7160, DENR-DILG Joint Memorandum Circulars 98-01 & 2003-01 and DENR DAO 30). The results of these activities shall be used for the preparation of the forest management plans which will include appropriate conservation and sustainable development strategies to preserve biodiversity.

With the support of the European Union, a manual of the biodiversity assessment results in the mentioned areas will be produced for the communities & host LGUs.

This will serve as reference for the community in preparing their comprehensive forest management plans.


Enrile, Mamba to battle for Cagayan gov

TUGUEGARAO CITY – The Liberal Party (LP) has finally laid down its card in the Cagayan gubernatorial race, fielding three-term Tuao town mayor William Mamba against Enrile-backed re-electionist Gov. Alvaro Antonio.

Cagayan election officer Catherine Allas said Mamba filed his certificate of candidacy as LP candidate last Dec. 18, or three days before Friday’s  deadline for substitution of candidates.

Mamba is running in place of Apolonio Serrano Valleros, said to be a close aide of his elder brother, former three-term congressman Manuel Mamba, now the presidential legislative affairs adviser. 

“We have stronger chances this time with the many controversial issues haunting the provincial administration such as black sand mining,” said the elder Mamba. 

The former congressman was defeated in the 2010 gubernatorial race by then second-term-seeking Antonio of the Team Cagayan of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who hails from Gonzaga town. 

Team Cagayan comprises various political parties such as the Nationalist People’s Coalition and United Nationalist Alliance under whose banner Enrile’s son, first district Rep. Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr., is running for senator.

The elder Mamba, whose wife, former presidential youth affairs adviser Mabel Mamba, was appointed by President Aquino as director of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, expects the full backing of the administration party for his brother.

The younger Mamba’s vice gubernatorial running mate is former OIC governor Melvin Vargas, brother of second district Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso. The Vargas siblings are children of the late long-time governor and congressman Florencio Vargas. 

Vargas is up against three-term-seeking Vice Gov. Leonides Faustino, a relative of the Mambas but whose ties with the clan soured when he opted to side with Antonio in the 2010 polls.


No cash, but groceries for two holdup men

By George Trillo

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – They mapped out a daring daytime holdup for a bagful of cash, but carted off a bagful of coffee and canned goods instead.

City police chief Ric David said his men are now hunting down two motorcycle-riding men who held up CelestinoSimbulan, 40, and relative ZenyMallari, 54, as they were about to board their Nissan sports utility vehicle after withdrawing cash from a bank in Barangay Dolores here last Monday.

The victims though first dropped by the supermarket before they went to the bank.

When the two men announced a holdup, Simbulan put up a fight and was hit on the head.

Mallari grabbed the bagful of grocery items and gave it to one of the two men, who immediately fled thinking they got the cash.


Driver arrested for log transport

By Jennelyn Mondejar

UMINGAN, Pangasinan -- With the continuing campaign to protect the forests, the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office confiscated recently log bolts of acacia tree loaded on an Isuzu Forward truck in Barangay Dakit, here, police reported.

From a tip by a concern citizen, police located the truck with license plates RDA-302 and arrested its driver, Marlon Busalpa, of legal age, and a resident of Gen. Tenio, Nueva Ecija. The 20 log bolts of acacia tree were about to be transported to Madrigal Woodcraft in Plaridel, Bulacan, when police intercepted and seized the hot logs.


Trike-riding men kill Ilocos villager

By Jerry Padilla

BANNA, Ilocos Norte- Riding-in-tandem assassins shot dead a 53-year-old villager last week in this remote town.

James Gapar was reportedly sitting along the national highway afternoon of Dec. 17 in Barangay Caribquib when the assassins stopped, the gunman unloaded from the motorcycle and pumped bullets into him.

A caliber 45 pistol was used in the killing, police said after finding several shells of the said firearm in the crime scene.

Until now, investigators face a blank wall as to what prompted the killing, but initially are theorizing that it maybe related with Gaspar being a brother-in-law of Barangay Chairman Alfred Arce of Fortuna, Marcos.

Arce's house was raided recently for chemicals used in making explosives.


No witness has approached the police yet. 


14 wanted persons nabbed in Cordi PNP operations

CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – The intensified operations of policemen against wanted persons is gaining ground in the region following the successive arrest of 14 wanted persons last week. 

In Itogon, Benguet, police arrested a 28-year old security guard on Dec. 7 at Caltex Gasoline Station, Barangay Tuding in the town for theft.

Chief Insp. Fernando Botangen, Itogon police chief led the team that arrested Richard Botis Guimpatan, of Binga, Itogon, Benguet.

He said Guimpatan who had a recommended bail bond of P68,000 was nabbed after an arrest warrant was issued against him by Judge Danilo P. Camacho of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 62 in Benguet.       

Still in Itogon police arrested Danilo Bantiw Codmos, 36,  of Camanggaan, Virac in the town on order of Judge Marybelle Demot Marinas of the Rregional Trial Court Branch 8 in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Demot recommended bail of 34,000.

After the arrest of Codmos, a 30-year old laborer was  arrested by police at Tebteb, Balili, La Trinidad, Benguet for rape.

Jomel Antoin Wagayan, of Mankayan, Benguet and a resident of Shamolog, Pico, La Trinidad, was nabbed following  arrest warrant issued by Judge Danilo P. Camacho of the RTC Branch 62, La Trinidad with no bail recommended.

A separate warrant for Wagayan’s arrest was also issued by issued by Judge Francis A. Buliyat of RTC Branch 09, La Trinidad who recommended a P20,000 bail bond.

The following day, three wanted persons were also arrested by Benguet and Mountain Province police.  

Members of Tuba, Benguet police led by Chief Insp. MarloGasinganEvasco arrested a 29-year old laborer on Dec. 11, at Bejajeng, Taloy Norte in the town following a warrant for his arrest issued by Judge Maria Clarita Casuga-Tabin, of Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Branch 4, Baguio City.

Roy Labbot Dalus, of  Bejajeng, Taloy Norte, Tuba for reckless imprudence resulting in 0serious physical injuries.

Tabin recommended bail of P6,000 for his temporary liberty.

In Paracelis, Mountain Province, police arrested a driver at around Dec. 11 at a checkpoint operation in Dagawe, Poblacion in the town for grave threats.

The team led by Senior Insp. Philip M. Liwan, identified the suspect as Drake Gumanab Cadchan, 22, of Poblacion, Natonin, Mountain Province.
Judge Luis A. Daoen of the Natonin-Paracelis Municipal Circuit Trial Court issued the warrant for his arrest.

On the same day, police arrested a 24-year old private miner at Balatoc, Virac, Itogon.

Chief Insp. Botangen, identified the arrested person as Alberto WacnangBananao, of Botbot, Lacnug, Tabuk, Kalinga.                 Jose S. Encarnacion, MTC Judge Antamok Tram Sub-Office, Ucab, Itogon, Benguet issued aa warrant for his arrest for violation of Presdiential Decree 581 (highgrading) and recommended bail of 10,000.

The following day, La Trinidad police arrested a 60-year old employee of the Department of Education at Justice Hall Kesbeng, La Trinidad, Benguet for Violation of B.P. 22 or Anti- Bouncing Check Law.

Judge Marina Gaerlan- Mejoradaofthe Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 70, Pasig City issued arrest warrant against Julius WanasBangnan, of Tadian, Mountain Province.  

The following day, elements of the Regional Special Operations Task Group, Abra Police Intelligence Branch, Provincial Investigation Division Management Branch, Provincial Public Safety Company and Special Action Force  arrested a 29-year old man at the residence of former Vice Mayor Jesus Valencia in Tineg, Zone 1, Bangued, Abra. 

This, after Judge Corpuz B. Alzate of the RTC Branch 2 in Abra, issued an arrest warrant for Bernie TaguibaoBanganan, married and a resident of Barangay Collago, Lagayan, Abra for murder.  

On Dec. 9, two wanted persons were arrested by La Trinidad, Benguet police,

Rhigina S. GuisdanSamidan, 44, married, businesswoman, of Buguias, Benguet, and of Puguis, La Trinidad, was arrested following an arrest warrant issued against her by by Judge Delilah N. Gozales of the Municipal Trial Court in La Trinidad, Benguet for violation of Batas Pambansa 22 or Anti-Bouncing Check Law with no bail recommended.

In Tabuk City, Kalinga, police led by SPO2 John Balcanao arrested a minor on Dec. 9 for theft after by Judge MarcelinoK.Wacas of the RTC Branch 25 of Bulanao, Tabuk issued a wearrant for his arrest with a recommended bail of P150,00.           On Dec. 10, three wanted persons were arrested in different police operations conducted by members of Abra and Benguet province.

A wanted person of Lagangilang, Abra was also arrested by a team of the RSOTG led by Chief Insp. Lou Salvador Claro in the town for homicide.

Senior Supt. Roberto Quinto Soriano, RSOTG commander identified the arrested person as Joel QuiacosanManangbao, 40, of Barangay PoblacionLagangilang.  

Judge CharitoB.Gonzales of RTC Branch 1 in Bangued, isdsued the warrant for his  arrest.

Members of the Abra Police Provincial Office also arrested a 29-year old man Dec. 12 for violation of RA 9262 known as the Violence against Women and their Children. By virtue of a warrant of  arrest issued by Judge Corpuz B. Alzate of the Regional Trial Court Branch 2, Bangued, Abra.

Saturnino Javier Princena, a resident of Maleta, Bangued, was arrested in Barangay Agtangao in the town.

He had a recommended bail bond of P24,000.

On Dec. 13, Tuba police arrested an out of school youth for two counts of rape.

He was arrested in his residence at Poyopoy, Taloy Sur, Tuba on order of Judge Francis A. Buliyat of RTC Branch 9.

Another wanted person was also arrested by the joint personnel of the Provincial Intelligence Branch, and Tabuk police for violation of RA 9208 or Anti-Trafficking in Persons.         

Suspect identified as Telson Bommugas Changlapon, 26, who was arrested at his residence in Barangay Calanan, Tabuk.

Judge Marcelino K. Wacas of RTC Branch 25 in Bulanao, Tabuk issued the warrant for his arrest.

All arrested persons were turned over to courts concerned prior to their detention except Codmos and Dalus who later posted bail bond.


23 anti-drug Cordillera cops cleared of drug use

CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – The leadership of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera disclosed all the 23 members of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group and other anti-drug operatives are clear on the presence of THC-Metabolites and Methamphetamine both dangerous drugs in their systems after the conduct of an unannounced random drug testing recently.

Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, PRO-COR regional director, said Cordillera police must be straight in their functions and duties regardless of how deep operations are being made especially in anti-drugs operations.

“Gone are those days when operatives have to be with drug pushers and even have to use dangerous drugs to penetrate deeper in the underground activities of lawless elements that greatly affect their performance of their assigned duties and thereby compromising their operations,” Magalong said.

Senior Superintendent Dalmacio W. Magantino, head of the Regional Crime Laboratory Office-Cordillera, confirmed that all of the 23 anti-illegal drugs operatives, twenty are from RAIDSOTG, two are from Benguet PPO and one in La Trinidad MPS were all negative of any illegal substance in their body thereby indicating their non-use of illegal drugs.

According to him, All operatives were randomly called last Dec.10, for drug testing aside from the regular quarterly drug testing being implemented by the PNP in order to check whether or not they have been using illegal drugs while conducting operations or during the regular course of discharging their assigned duties.

Magalong said that the PNP through RAIDSOTG as the primary law enforcement agency of the country, shall continue to support the campaign against illegal drugs to conduct forceful, intensive and unrelenting campaign against drug trafficking and use of illegal drugs region wide and accept its mandate under RA9165 as significant partner of PDEA in the campaign against the proliferation of illegal drugs in their respective areas of jurisdiction.


Giant lanterns wow 30,000 folks; Ballsy awards winners

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — A host of high-profile personalities led by presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz hailed the lantern-making tradition of this city as they judged last week this year’s “Ligligan Parul (Showdown of Lanterns)” witnessed by over 30,000 spectators.

“Indescribable. You have to see it yourself and the program is getting better and beautiful” said Aquino-Cruz shortly after awarding Barangay Del Pilar for ruling this year’s Giant Lantern competition.

Barangay Del Pilar took home a giant star-shaped trophy and the P120,000 grand prize, while Barangay Telebastagan came in second place with P60,000 and Barangay San Jose as third placer, winning P40,000.

Electrician Antonio Manaloto from Barangay Del Pilar said their team was preparing almost every night in the past two months to experiment with the right color combinations in a bid to topple perennial Lantern December Festival winner, Barangay Sta. Lucia.

Equally elated at awarding held at Robinsons Starmills was champion lantern-maker Rainier de Vera Turda. “We used 8,500 bulbs worth P300,000, which is lesser compared to our P500,000-worth entry in 2011 when we ranked fourth. Also, we have nine rotors and none of it was broken.”

One of the 12 judges – KumikoKoroda, a musician and wife of the president of Asian Development Bank (ADB) – revealed that she wanted to bring some of the lanterns in her hometown in Japan.

“Paper lantern” is common in parts of East Asia for over 300 years now.

To highlight the enduring tradition, City Tourism head ChingPangilinan bared plans of constructing a lantern museum that would house the best made crafts.

The LigliganParul, is believed to have started in 1908 when Francisco Estanislao pioneered the lantern-making industry in San Fernando.

Estanislao is said to have built a giant lantern for a Christmas procession during that year.

However, it was only in 1931 when the first lantern competition was formally organized. The inaugural contest was in honor of Aurora Aragon Quezon – wife of former president Manuel Quezon.


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