Court upholds P736.33 M bond of developer : Possession over Camp John Hay in status quo

>> Wednesday, January 30, 2013

BAGUIO CITY -- A local court denied a motion to dissolve the writ of preliminary injunction filed by the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority since the P736.33 million bond posted by the Camp John Hay Development Corporation to prevent a takeover of the 246-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) from its possession since the bond posted by the latter was sufficient.’

The conflict stemmed from a notice of termination issued by BCDA to CJHDevCo unilaterally terminating the 50-year old lease contract over the 246-hectare JHSEZ because of the developer’s failure to settle its accumulated lease rentals amounting to P3 billion tracing back since the signing of the lease agreement in October 1997.

“The court in the approval of the injunction bond filed found that the bond was sufficient in amount, and that the surety corporation succeeded to justify after compliance by the petitioner with the posting of the injunction bond in the amount of P736,328,465.50, the writ of preliminary injunction was issued,” Judge Cecilia Corazon S. Dulay-Archog of the city’s Regional Trial Court Branch 6 stated in her order dated December 21, 2012.

In its motion to dissolve the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the court on August 23, 2012, BCDA argued that Liberty Insurance Corporation is an “insufficient” surety corporation under Section 7, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court which provides that “the party filing a bond in accordance with the provisions of this rule shall forthwith serve a copy of such bond on the other party, who may except to the sufficiency of the bond, or of the surety corporation or sureties thereon. If the applicant’s is found to be insufficient in amount, or of the surety or sureties thereon fail to justify, and a bond sufficient in amount with sufficient sureties approved after justification is not filed for with, the injunction shall be dissolved.”

Since its net assets are allegedly insufficient to cover petitioner’s injunction bond in the amount of P736.33 million, BCDA casted doubt on Liberty Insurance Corporation’s financial position and on its ability to secure the performance of CJHDevCo’s bond considering that per the surety’s audited financial statements for the year ending Dec.31, 2011, its total assets amounted only to P326,242,935 while its total liabilities amounted to P212,424,471.00.

H67owever, CJHDevCo argued that Liberty Insurance Corporation is a duly accredited and authorized bonding company by the Office of the Court Administrator and that the Supreme Court’s accreditation of the said insurance corporation allows it to transact business involving surety bonds for civil cases from August 1, 2012 to January 31, 2013.

In denying the motion to dissolve the injunction bond, Judge Archog pointed out the injunction was purposely required so that it shall answer for damages that BCDA may sustain by reason of the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction, if later on the court decides that the petitioner was not entitled thereto.

“The court in the exercise of its sound discretion found that the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction was proper. The propriety of the grant of injunctive writ was based on the orders dated April 27 and June 29, 2012 which directed CJHDevCo’s application for a writ of preliminary injunction is granted in part upon the posting by the corporation and the approval by this court of a bond in the amount of P736,328,465.50 executed to BCDA to the effect that petitioner will pay the amount to BCDA for the damages it may sustain by reason of this injunction of this court should finally decide that CJHDevCo is not entitled to it,” the 3-page order of Archog stated.

For the duration of the case before the court until a decision is reached, Judge Archog explained BCDA, its subsidiaries, officials, employees, agents and other third parties, are restrained from committing any act tending to raise control and/or possession of the leased property.

For its part, CJHDevCo had repeatedly stated that it does not owe BCDA that much in accumulated lease rentals considering that it was not able to pursue its desired development because of the failure of BCDA to deliver the actual number of land area to be fully developed and utilized for the establishment of a world-class tourism center and multi-use watershed.


4 soldiers hurt in clash with Cagayan rebs

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Four government troopers were wounded in an encounter with New People’s Army rebels in Cagayan’s northern Gattaran town Wednesday morning.

The Army said members of the 17th Infantry Battalion encountered the communist rebels in remote Sitio Alindayag, Barangay Elizaga, triggering the clash.

Citing residents’ accounts, the Army said the NPA guerrillas, led by one Rolando Ibis, were conducting extortion and campaign activities for the May elections when the government security forces chanced upon them in the area. – Charlie Lagasca


Ecija cities, 2 Mt Province towns tagged poll 'hotspots'

Fifteen of Nueva Ecija’s 27 towns and four of its five cities have been tagged by the Philippine National Police as election hotspots while two remote villages in ParacelisMountain

Province were declared as such by the Commission on Elections.

Barangays Buringal and Bunot, which are probably nearer to Santiago City in Isabela, were identified by Mt. Province election supervisor Ricardo Lampac as “areas of concern” for the coming polls.

The towns' history of election-related violence prompted the Comelec to declare these areas as hotspots.

Since the official start of the election period on Jan. 13, the police have yet to record any case of violence in the areas.

An area is considered “hotspot” or an area of "concern” if it has a history of election violence or rebels and other armed groups are present that may disturb the holding of a peaceful election.

In 2007, unidentified armed men snatched ballot boxes and election returns in barangay Buringal, delaying the proclamation of some of the local winning candidates.

In the country's first automated local and national polls, held in 2010, two armed men burned one precinct count optical scan machine (PCOS) including election paraphernalia in sitioApalis, Bunot, prompting Comelec to declare a poll failure and called for special elections seven months later.

Though still very peaceful, Lampac is worried about the perennial lack of policemen in Mt. Province to be assigned in the 227 clustered polling areas.

Pre-election “disarmament” procedures have been introduced in Abra for the past months including voluntary surrender of license firearms by politicians and the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to convince owners of unregistered guns to surrender their firearm.

Meanwhile, 15 of Nueva Ecija’s 27 towns and four of its five cities have been tagged by the PNP as election hotspots.

Senior Supt.Crisaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said their election watch list includes the cities are Cabanatuan, Gapan, Muñoz, and San Jose.

Also tagged as areas of concern were the towns of Aliaga, Bongabon, Cuyapo, Gabaldon, Gen. Natividad, Guimba, Jaen, Licab, Lupao, Quezon, Rizal, San Isidro, Talugtog, San Antonio, and Sto. Domingo.

Among the cities, only Palayan is not included in the list, and among the towns, those not included are Cabiao, Carranglan, Laur, Llanera, Nampicuan, Pantabangan, Peñaranda, San Isidro, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, Talavera, and Zaragoza.

Nieves said an area is deemed an election hotspot based on the following parameters: the presence of private armies, organized crime groups or other threat groups; intense political rivalries; poll-related violence; shooting incidents victimizing elected officials; and the proliferation of loose firearms.

Cabanatuan, the province’s commercial and trade center, leads the list due to the intense rivalry between re-electionist Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara and board member Emmanuel Antonio Umali, younger brother of re-electionist Gov. Aurelio Umali.

Both camps traded barbs in the run-up to the aborted Dec. 1 plebiscite to ratify Presidential Proclamation 480 converting Cabanatuan into a highly urbanized city.

The mayoral contest in Gapan is considered heated due to the rivalry between re-electionist Mayor Christian Tinio and MaricelNatividad, daughter of former three-term mayor Ernesto Natividad who has gone into hiding for his alleged involvement in the 2006 raid on a cockpit arena of a political rival whose two sons were among those killed.

In Muñoz, come-backing former three-term mayor Nestor Alvarez is facing Vice Mayor Esther Lazaro in a reprise of a brief power grab by the vice mayor who occupied city hall following a brief disappearance of Alvarez’s brother, Mayor Efren Alvarez, over a criminal case.

In the case of San Jose, it will be a rematch between re-electionist Mayor MarivicBelena and her brother-in-law, former vice mayor Mario Salvador, who lost to her in the 2010 polls.

In Palayan City, the contest between businesswoman Rianne Cuevas and come-backing former three-term mayor PacificoFajardo, also a former three-term congressman, is considered not as heated and politically charged.


Rape charges filed vs Isabela mayor by mother, daughter

ILAGAN CITY– A woman and her daughter have filed rape charges against a municipal mayor of Isabela province before the Department of Justice.

The case against Mayor LawrencioZuñiga of Cordon town will be raffled off this week, a DOJ official told media here.

The victims have sought legal assistance and security from Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III.

They said other rape victims are also considering filing charges against the mayor.

Zuñiga could not be reached for comment.

Last year, two men on a motorcycle lobbed a grenade at Zuñiga’s house, destroying its façade and three vehicles parked nearby.

Zuñiga did not pursue the investigation into the grenade blast, saying he is leaving the matter to God.

Police refused to comment if the incident could be linked to the accusations against the mayor.


Abra female NPA head surrenders to lawmen

LACUB, Abra -- A ranking rebel leader heading a group of rebels in this remote town surrendered to authorities on Monday, police said.

Connie Santiago Valera, 29, who took the nom de guerres as “Ka James, Yasser” gave herself up to police and military operatives on Monday dawn in SitioAbubutok, Barangay Lenneng, Licuan-Baay town in Abra.

Licuan Baay is the gateway to Lacub town from Bangued, the province’s capital town.

Valera is a ranking leader of the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong.

She was reportedly listed as number 5 in the 4th quarter “Order of Battle of 2012.

The rebel leader reportedly decided to shun hiding as he could no longer stand the suffering and difficulties while with the remaining rebels in the Cordillera mountains.

“He was used by the rebels in their various criminal activities in order to generate resources to sustain their existence in the mountains. He decided to surrender to start a normal and peaceful life with the community,” Magalong said.

Operatives from the Regional Public Safety Battalion, Provincial Intelligence Branch of the Abra police, Lacub and Sallapadan policemen, Military Intelligence Group, 41st Infantry Battalion and 503rd Brigade of the Philippine Army joined to convince Valera to surrender.

Valera is now with the Abra police for documentation and debriefing.

Valera’s surrender, Magalong said, “is another accomplishment of government forces in their effort to significantly reduce the number of communist rebels operating in the different parts of the region as he called on the remaining rebels to already yield to the government since they will have a better and peaceful life in the mainstream society rather than hide in the mountains and embrace a failed ideology.”

The Cordillera police earlier claimed there is a continuous decrease of NPA rebels in the region placing their number to no more than four dozen.


Noy rejects amendments to Baguio City charter

BAGUIO CITY – President Aquino has rejected amendments to this city’s century-old charter, particularly on tenurial rights and land disposition including provisions which oppositionists said, were contrary to the Philippine Constitution and other laws.

The President did not sign into law House Bill 3759 revising the charter of Baguio City and returned the measure without his signature after vetoing it.

Mr. Aquino said objectives of the bill relating to local governmental powers were covered by the Local Government Code of 1991.

“The proposed measure impinges on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ exclusive mandate over control and supervision of alienable and disposable public lands, and runs counter to the laws governing the disposition of townsite reservations,” he said in the veto.

The President said Section 35 of the proposed amended charter is “ambiguous as to the entity that may dispose of alienable and disposable lands which are part of the townsite reservation.”

The city’s charter was enacted in 1909 under the American colonial government.

Amendments to the charter were first introduced 12 years ago by then congressman, now Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

Former Youth Rep. Edgar Avila in a media interview, said the measure was rejected by the president owing to its unconstitutional provisions and other proposals contrary to law.

But Domogan said those who urged the president to veto amendments to the city charter did not study well its legality.

He did not name oppositors to the measure.

Domogan said the city government will not give up in efforts to have its revised Charter signed into law since it is the only way to totally solve its boundary dispute with the neighboring town of Tuba, Benguet and the disposition of alienable and disposable lands to qualified home lot applicants.

“President Aquino was misled into vetoing the whole Charter of Baguio,” Domogan said, adding that the President’s claim that some provisions of the revised Charter runs counter with national laws is not actually true.

While it is true that the Local Government Code of 1991 provides the procedure on how to settle boundary disputes, Domogan explained it is not clear on how to concretize the settlement, thus, the agreement reached by the city and Tuba officials on how to settle their dispute so that the city will be able to establish its metes and bounds within its 57.4-square kilometer land area was already enshrined in the Charter that was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Reacting to the President’s argument that it is not clear in Section 35 which agency of government will handle the disposition of alienable and disposable lands, the local chief executive pointed out that it is still the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that will be in charge with the disposition of alienable and disposable lands in accordance to existing policies.

According to him, the creation of an inter-agency committee to screen the over 5,600 still pending applications for land titles is to ensure that the screening will be fastracked considering that the DENR-CAR regional executive director will also be a member of the created committee, thus, the power to dispose alienable and disposable lands is still lodged with the DENR.

On the statement of the President that the revised Charter is in violation of the provisions of the Public Land Act that requires all fees generated from the sale and disposal of alienable and disposable lands will accrue to the national coffers, Domogan claimed Section 36 which mandates that proceeds from the sale of the city’s alienable and disposable lands will accrue to the city’s coffers is just a carryover from the provisions of the 1909 city Charter. – With a report from Dexter See



3 fishermen rescued in Cagayan high seas
By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan — Three fishermen floating at sea were rescued by residents of the coastal villages in Abulug, Cagayan Monday morning, police said.

Police identified three as Warlito Ante, 53; EfrenAlviar, 42; and Leonardo Amodo, 32.

It was reported that fishermen left their homes last Jan. for a fishing venture in the high seas.

However, their motorboat was hit and destroyed by big waves.

The fishermen managed to hold on to fragments of their crushed motorboat and float nearer land.

Fortunately, they were spotted by fishermen from Abulug, who rescued them and took them to the hospital.

Police said the three have been declared out of danger.

2 dead in Ilocos trike Partas road accident
TAGUDIN, Ilocos Sur – Two men were killed in an accident along the national highway here in Barangay Libtong Thursday.

Police identified victims as Marlon Lorenzana, 23, driver of the motorcycle and back rider Oliver Partible, 17, both from barangay AlilemDaya, Alilem town, also in Ilocos Sur. They died immediately upon impact with the speeding north-bound Partas bus.

Investigators said the motorcycle riders, who came from a drinking spree, crossed the highway from the shoulder without warning and was directly hit by the bus.

The motorcycle was totally wrecked after it was thrown some 132 feet from the accident spot.

The bus driver, Cresencio Duque, 49, from Bucay town, Abra, is now with the Tagudin police for further investigation.

Cops nab 2 for violating gun ban in Cordillera
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Two “men” working for an Abra town mayor became the first gun ban violators in the Cordillera.

Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said Reynaldo Baruela, 49; and Jun Palecpec, 51; both of barangay Malapa-ao, Langiden have been arrested by policemen led by Supt. Mario Mayam-es and Supt. Virgilio Pascua and seized from the suspects two caliber 45 pistols at a barangay fiesta in Langiden town on Sunday.

The two are “men” of Langiden town, Abra mayor Noel Castillo, formerly Abra province’s provincial jail warden.

Magalong said policemen who were tipped off about the duo, sealed all exits and succeeded in trapping both while they were about to elude arrest.

The duo were the first to fall in the gun ban operations in the province and all over the region ahead of the 2013 polls.

This as Cordillera policemen intensified their mobile checkpoints as early as the first week of December, saidMagalong. “We have an average of 52 checkpoints a day,” the police officer said.

Widow arrested for selling shabu

URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan -- A 36-year-old widow was arrested by operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for peddling methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu here on Jan. 20.

PDEA Director General Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr. identified the arrested suspect as Tarhata Macalaba, alias Tata, residing in Barangay Camantiles, Urdaneta.

Macalaba was arrested by operatives of PDEA Regional Office 1 under Director Jeffrey Tacio after she handed-over a plastic sachet of shabu to a PDEA poseur-buyer during a buy-bust operation in Barangay DilanPaurido.

“Macalaba is the wife of a pusher identified as Asis Hadji Modior, who was killed during a PDEA buy-bust operation in August 2012. After her husband’s death, she continued his illegal drug activities in the area and other neighboring communities,” Cacdac said.

A case illegal drugs is now being prepared for filing in court against Macalaba.

PNP, AFP, Ifugao-LGU plant 400 trees

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- In line with the administration’s greening program, members of the police force, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and employees of the local government of Lagawe planted recently 400 trees in Mt. Banahaw here.

The seedlings were produced by the LGU.

Jenny Marie Ang, land Investigator of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, this is also in line with the plan of the LGU to develop the said mountain into an eco park.

“This is one way of preserving the environment since the LGU will directly supervise the maintenance of the mountain and the preservation of the trees in it,” she said.

One of the programs of this local government is to boost its economy through tourism.

Mayor Ceasario Cabbigat believes that the town will benefit from its numerous natural scenic spots such as the mountains, caves, waterfalls and rivers.

Cabbigat said that his administration is funding the development of these tourists spots. The LGU is coordinating with barangay officials and nongovernment organizations to support such initiatives. -- By Vivencia D. Bulayungan


Ifugao town regulates fund transfer to b’gays

By Marcelo L. Lihgawon

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The Sangguniang Bayan here has enacted a law governing all municipal local government unit funds to be fund transferred to barangays of the municipality.

Known as the “Fund Transfer Ordinance of Lagawe” and authored by councilor Noel Campul, it provides guidelines and limitations in transferring LGU funds to barangay local governments.

Campul said there are projects in the barangay funded by the municipal funds that need close supervision and monitoring for its project proper implementation.

The ordinance explained that the only projects and programs that can be fund transferred to the barangay are livelihood projects and programs, aid to barangays and organizations, and infrastructure projects worth P50,000 below.

Fund transfer will only start when the SB authorizes the municipal mayor to enter into a memorandum of agreement to the concerned barangay specifying both the responsibility of the MLGU and BLGU to ensure the proper implementation of a specific program and project. -- PIA


Environmental case unresolved: Mt Prov, Bontoc execs work out dump snags

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC, Mountain Province – A trash site for this capital town, the object of a case filed by Kalinga officials-- still hounds provincial and town officials.

This, as Gov. Leonard Mayaen, Bontoc mayor PascualSacgaca and vice mayor William Aspilan met barangay officials and lot owners of a prospective landfill to resolve issues on waste disposal considering Kalinga officials charged in their petition garbage from this town had been thrown and flowed to their province via the Chico River.

A pending question hounds the municipality where to put waste with the Caluttit dump site up for closing in accordance with RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 which prohibits open waste dumping.

This, following a case filed for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan filed by the Kalinga Action Group Against Pollution against the Bontoc and provincial government units for having allegedly failed to prepare and implement sound and comprehensive Local Government Solid Waste Management Plans as mandated by RA 9003.

The case filed at the Court of Appeals October last year charges both LGUs for alleged indiscriminate dumping of waste along the Chico River polluting irrigation waters that flows to vast rice fields of Tabuk and downstream Cagayan and Isabela. The case is still unresolved.

Sacgaca cited a lot in Faliling hill for a prospective land fill identified for purchase by the LGU of Bontoc to replace the protested dumpsite currently used by the residents of Bontoc in the Poblacion area.

Lot owners however protested use of their lots to as land fill site citing environmental reasons.

William Aspilan said Poblacion barangay officials shall meet soont to identify another lot.

Mayaen said the provincial government shall provide support for building of an identified landfill for the municipality.

In said KAPAG also charged Secretary Ramon Paje and regional director Clarence Baguilat of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for being responsible for the enforcement of environmental laws and the Environmental Management Bureau officers for not exercising pollution prevention and control.


Crackdown on vs Baguio City night establishments

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan directed concerned offices here to intensify operations against night establishments selling or serving liquor to minors as a means of curbing juvenile violence.

The mayor cited city police under Chief Insp. Jesus Cambay Jr. for initiating crackdown on night spots admitting and serving liquor to minors after subsequent reports of brawls involving minors were aired over television news programs.

“We have to do something about these incidents which are harming our city’s image as a peaceful tourist spot and educational center,” the mayor said.

The mayor asked city police to sustain operations and to periodically submit reports on result of raids.

He also ordered the filing of appropriate cases against the owners of the erring establishments and non-renewal of their business permits.

The mayor last year reactivated the city’s inter-agency Anti-Vice Task Force in an effort to intensify the campaign against bad indulgences that compromise the behavior of youth and to restore law and order for the benefit of local residents and tourists.

The mayor also ordered the revival of the conduct of regular inspections of night establishments all over the city to ensure that they are complying with ordinances.

In 2009, the city council strengthened the city’s Liquor Code by providing a limit to the hours of operation of liquor-dispensing establishments.

The ordinance prescribed the time of operation for nightclubs, cocktail lounges, beer gardens, bars with dancing, duly accredited tourism-oriented firms, bar, disco pads and cabarets from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. while ordinary beer gardens without dancing, cocktail lounge or bar without dancing, cocktail lounge, folkhouses serving beer only, restaurants with liquor, bar or coffee shops serving beer or liquor and internet cafes should operate from 3 p.m. to 12 noon.

The prescribed time for liquor dealers or retailers which serve liquor not to be consumed within the premises and for liquor stores which sell by the bottle and consumed within the premises was from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Erring owner, operator, proprietor, manager or person in charge of any establishment will be slapped the following sanctions: first offense – a fine of P2,000 with written warning; second offense – a fine of P4,000 with closure of the establishment and revocation of the business permit; and third and subsequent offenses – a fine of P6,000 with permanent closure of the establishment and imprisonment of 15 days upon discretion of the court or 15 days community service.


Slain drug dealer's widow and vendor nabbed in buy-bust

BAGUIO CITY – Widowed after his husband was killed by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives during a buy-bust operation last year, 36-yeary old Tarhata Malabas alias “Tata” went on with his husband’s illegal drug trade.

Selling methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan and nearby communities for less than a year, she was cornered by PDEA-Region 1 agents on Jan. 20.

PDEA region 1 director Jeffrey Tacio said Tata handed-over a plastic sachet of shabu to a PDEA poseur-buyer in Barangay DilanPaurido, Urdaneta City that day.

Reportedly, Macalaba is the wife of alleged pusher AsisHadjiModior who was killed in August last year in buy-bust operation.

When his husband was killed, she continued with the illicit trade, the PDEA said.

Meanwhile, in Baguio City, a 47-year old shabu pusher who doubles as a “talipapa” vendor and cockfighting “kristo” (bet collector) was arrested in a buy-bust operation on Tuesday afternoon.

Jun Ilarde alias “Buwang”, a native of Occidental Mindoro but resides at Upper Quezon Hill, here reportedly sold about .09 gram of shabu in a heat-sealed, transparent, plastic sachet to an agent of the PDEA–Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), who posed as buyer.

Ilarde traded the dangerous drug for P2,000.

In 2012, at least P1.1 million worth of shabu were seized in various operations all over the Cordillera Region by PDEA–CAR, and other law enforcement agents.

At least 151 drug law violators were arrested in CAR also in that year, 73.51 percent or 111 of them pushers.


City market construction up; CA rules it is legal

By Paul Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY – The long overdue development of the Baguio public market will soon be realized in this mountain resort.

This is how Mayor Mauricio Domogan sees it after the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio Branch 59 rendered on June 28, 2007 dismissing civil cases filed against Baguio City officials.

The mayor said the market which is supposed to be a show window of the city will soon undergo total development so I would be at par with developed cities.

“The city government has already started needed rehabilitation works for Block 3 and 4 due to its dangerous and dilapidated state. Our public market is really problematic and needs to be developed as soon as possible,”

The city council earlier enacted Ordinance 38, series of 1995 that provided guidelines for development of the market and was approved by Mayor Domogan on June 22, 1995.

The essence of the ordinance was for the general welfare for city inhabitants who opted for a design-build-lease (DBL) scheme.

Domogan said, the public market which covers more or less three hectares will be developed phase by phase to minimize losses of vendors during major construction.

Vendors who will be affected during the market development will be relocated at the Slaughterhouse compound on a temporary basis and will not pay rent.

‘It is for the general welfare of the public, we have to understand that we are a highly urbanized city and the city market should be one of our highlights in tourism and commerce,’ Domogan said.

The mayor also said the rehabilitated Blocks 3 and 4 will be the last to be touched as there are more areas of the city market which need immediate attention.

“Hopefully, we can move on with the development, as are already behind comparing to other public markets of other cities,” Domogan said.


Dagupan road works slated to stop floods

By Jennelyn Mondejar

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan — An official of the Department of Public Works and Highways vowed to fast-track the planned upgrading of a major highway in this city to stop flooding while appeasing fears that heavy traffic will hound major events set in the first quarter of this year.

After emerging from a meeting with DPWH Region 1 officials, Mayor Benjamin S. Lim said traffic congestion is expected to build up once upgrading of national roads in the city begins.

Lim said Dagupeños will have to deal with a difficult traffic situation during the celebration of Valentine’s Day and junior-senior proms in February; graduations in March and April; the Holy Week, and even the Bangus Festival.

DPWH District Engineer Rodolfo Dion assured that the special events of the city will not be affected as his office plans to fast-track the construction not just of the entire stretch of A.B. Fernandez Avenue (ABFA), but also the sidewalks and the drainage system.

Instead of a work schedule from 100 to 120 days, the contractor will finish it within 80 days, said Dion.

Dion met with Lim, City Engineer Virginia Rosario and other City Engineering Office staff late last week and discussed the project to elevate by up to 40 centimeters the ABFA, which measures 800 linear meters.

Dion said the construction may start in the last week of February or first week of March with an allocated fund of P49 million from the 4th Congressional District, under Rep. Gina de Venecia.

The DPWH official cited importance of the undertaking. “Dagupan’s streets are obviously lower than sea level,” he said, noting that even without rain, ABFA is flooded.

Based on the observations of the DPWH, the reason for this can be attributed to the following: first, global warming or rising sea level; second, subsidence due to too much extraction of water from the soil; third, liquefaction which is an after effect of the 1990 earthquake; fourth, obstruction of water flow due to dikes and roads that impede water flow back to the rivers; and fifth, due to siltation of rivers.


743 cops get promoted in northern, Central Luzon

By Mydz Supnad

CAMP GEN FLORENDO, LA Union -For devotion to duty, the Philippine National Police Tuesday promoted 743 policemen from Central and Ilocos regions.

A police report said 407 newly-promoted PNP personnel took their oath at Police Regional Office 3 Parade Grounds, Camp Olivas, City of San Fernando, Pampanga on Jan. 22, while a total of 326 got promoted also in Ilocos region.

The oath taking and mass pinning of the newly -promoted PNP officers in Camp Olivas were administered by Chief Supt. Edgardo Ladao, regional director.

Said activity was witnessed and participated by the families and relatives of promotees.

In Camp Gen. Florendo, La Union, Chief Supt. Ricardo Cornejo Marquez, regional police director administered Tuesday oath-taking and donning of ranks of 326 newly-promoted police personnel here at PRO1 grandstand.

In his inspirational message, Ladao said that the PNP always notes that rank and promotion are not a reward of what was done well, but recognition that each PNP personnel has the potential to do more.

Meanwhile, in their acceptance speeches, both Supt. Joel Estaris and SPO3 Ramon Colocar thanked the promotion board and PNP organization for their promotion.

Of the commissioned officers, seven were promoted to superintendent, 12 to chief inspector, two to senior inspector and nine to police inspector.

The noncommissioned officers, on the other hand, were composed of four promoted to Senior Police Officer 4, fifty six to SPO3, 17 to SPO2, 28 to SPO1, 93 to PO3, and 98 to PO2.


Baguio, Beneco pursue light management agreement

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government and the Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc. decided to pursue their long-delayed streetlight management deal even as the city’s Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology venture remains in limbo due to questions on its feasibility.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he signed a memorandum of agreement with the Beneco allowing the power firm to take over the management and operation of streetlights as identified in the MOA.

The MOA was forwarded to the Beneco for signing by general manager Gerardo Verzosaafterwhich, it will be submitted to the city council for confirmation.

As per the MOA, Beneco will take over the management of city’s streetlights and will be paid the equivalent of 12 burning hours of electric consumption for unmetered streetlights in lieu of payment for the services.

By taking over the management, Beneco will assume duties and all liabilities in administering the streetlights and lighting fixtures “including any accidents or untoward incidents arising from the administration of said facilities..., undertake all repair, replacement or maintenance activities on its account and using its own means to include manpower, tools, contraptions, machineries and connoisseurs.”

As per the MOA, Beneco will also convert the metered streetlights into non-metered except the metered park lights, LED streetlights, metered lightings installed along flyovers and overpasses and metered streetlights which are being supplied and served by underground conductor wires located along Session Road, Upper Session Road Extension, Upper Magsaysay Road, Abanao Road, Abanao Road Extension, Harrison Road, Kisad Road and Legarda Road.

To ensure that all streetlights and lighting fixtures are maintained, the city will form an inspection committee which will include all barangay captains who will take charge of reporting busted or faulty streetlights or fixates to the BENECO. The said committee will also identify other public places that need to be illuminated.

The Beneco management deal will continue until the city has contracted out the streetlight management to a private entity for conversion into LED or other forms of power saving devices.

Last Monday, the terms of reference for the LED venture failed to take off at the city council anew as questions remained on the feasibility of the project which is anchored on a cost-savings sharing scheme.

The mayor has maintained that the proposed deal is a workable option for upgrading the city’s lighting system.

Beneco in 2009 offered to take over the operation of the city’s unmetered streetlights from the city engineer’s office and even conducted an experimental management run for nine months to prove the advantages of their set-up.

The experiment proved the advantages of Beneco’s set up with Councilor Joel Alangsab also attesting that 95 percent of the barangay captains expressed preference for the power firm’s management as it was more efficient and effective.

The city council and the local finance committee however then balked at its permanent implementation due to the added cost it will entail due to the adjustment of the billing system from the original ten to 12 burning hours which city officials then saw as prohibitive for the city.

But the mayor reconsidered the offer because of the difficulty in maintaining the facilities causing delays in the replacement of damaged fixtures but sought the inclusion of the metered lights in the set-up.
Beneco refused and even withdrew the offer but the two parties later agreed to meet halfway to realize the venture.

Beneco, in its offer, promised that under its management, the problems presently encountered by the residents particularly the delayed replacement of damaged fixtures and inconsistent switch on and off schedules leading to power wastage will be eradicated.


P770 million revenue from Pampanga quarrying seen

By George Trillo

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Revenue collections from the quarry operations in Pampanga is expected to reach P770 million before June, this year, as the provincial government is set to launch its computerized revenue collections, the governor said last week.

Gov. Lilia Pineda said she is set to sign the approval of the said computerization to maximize the income from the quarrying industry and its potential to provide more jobs to her constituents.

“This computerization will ensure that our collections will be seamless and fast,” she said.

The governor said that her administration aims to institutionalize the process of collections so that “people will benefit more on quarrying.”

Pineda said the system will not only make the quarry revenue collections more transparent, but also help the provincial government’s collections to double with computerization.

The Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office, headed by engineer Art Punsalan, has been pushing for the computerized revenue collections particularly for quarrying operations.

Punzalan said that his office can produce better results once the computerization comes to play.

“We believe that we can add more historic and record-breaking collections if we do it using a computerized system,” he said.

It was recalled that the provincial government posted a record of P650 million last year in quarry revenue collections.

Revenues in December 2012 were recorded at P19,145,000. “With the computerization, we are optimistic that we would get to our projection of P770 million when the term of Governor Pineda and Vice Governor Guiao end June this year,” said Punzalan.


'Anthrax' downs 10 farmers in Abra

LAGANGILANG, Abra -- Provincial health officials are now investigating why 10 farmers here got ill last week.
Suspecting anthrax as the culprit, government physicians with the help of the Abra provincial veterinary office are examining the farmers, who exhibited skin lesions, said SerafinAlzate from the Office of Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin.

Experts suspected that the farmers ate anthrax-infested carabao meat

Anthrax (bacillus anthracisis) is a deadly bacterial disease notoriously used in biological warfare.

Blood samples were taken from the farmers and were brought for verification and detection. Results are out in a week.

Health and veterinary officials of the province are closely monitoring the situation, added Alzate.

In May 2010, at least 41 were infected with anthrax in Villaviciosa town after they ate meat from two dead carabaos that died from the illness. None of them died.


Pangasinan gears for major sportsfest

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- The provincial government of Pangasinan is preparing for the biggest and longest-running sports spectacle in the collegiate level to be held in February.

Around 6,000 athletes, coaches and game officials from 17 regions all over the country will be participating in said event, the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Collegiate Games, slated February 10-16 at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center here.

Gov. Amado T. Espino Jr. expressed elation that the PRISAA had chosen the provincial government of Pangasinan and Dagupan City as this year’s hosts.

The wee-long event is in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) - Region 1, PRISAA member schools in Region 1 and Department of Education through Schools Divisions of Pangasinan 1 and City of Dagupan.

This event will serve as a big break for the province, particularly in terms of showcasing its tourism and industrial assets, after the successful staging of the PalarongPambansa last May 2012 here.

A refresher and accreditation seminar for technical officials will take place on Feb. 6-9, followed by the athletic parade and grand opening ceremonies on February 11 from 2p.m. onwards at NRSCC.

The participating teams and athletes will vie for supremacy in 18 sporting events, namely: Athletics (M/W), basketball (M/W), badminton (M/W), sepaktakraw (M), beach volleyball (M/W), baseball (M), softball (W), volleyball (M/W), football (M), boxing (M), chess (M/W), karate-do (M/W), judo (M), dance sports, lawn tennis (M/W), table tennis (M/W) and swimming (M/W).


No postman in town; folks not aware mails, packages are piling up

By Jennelyn Mondejar

BINMALEY, Pangasinan – This municipality could get the record as the only town in the country which has no postman.

The postal office here has yet to hire a replacement for its two postmen, who retired in October last year.

Merlita Valerio, postmaster of the Binmaley Postal Office said mails and packages are piling up and many Binmaleynians are not aware of the situation.

Valerio said only three chairmen of the town’s 33 barangays volunteered to get their constituents’ mails and deliver them to their houses.

Valerio said she hired an assistant, whose salary she pays from her own pocket, and asked her male household helper to run errands for her at the office.

She said a municipal employee was detailed at the post office but only temporarily.


Philex slapped anew with P92.8 million fee over mine leak

The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) imposed Wednesday gold mining firm Philex Mining Corp. with P92.8-million pollution penalties in connection with the leakage from one of its mine tailings pond in August last year.
PAB, a quasi-judicial body under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that is created for the settlement of pollution cases, also ordered Philex to refrain from using its tailings pond.

The PAB resolution dated January 18 and signed by PAB Secretary Jonas Leones stated that, “after due deliberation and consultation, the Board resolves to order respondent (Philex) to cease and desist from operating and using its Tailing Pond No. 3. This order shall remain in effect until the Tailings Pond No. 3 shall have been completely restored and its structural integrity ensured as confirmed and certified by the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB). The respondent is also directed to pay the initial amount of fines imposable as of 28 November 2012 amounting to P92.8 million.”

The P92.8-million penalty in violation of the Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 is broken down as follows: P15.2 million covering the period of August 3, 2012 to October 17, 2012 the date before respondent complied with the effluent standards or 76 days; P30.4 million covering the period from August 3, 2012 to October 17, 2012 for two counts of violation of the Water Quality Criteria; and P47.2 million covering the period from August 3, 2012 to November 28, 2012 for two counts of violation of RA 9275.

PAB ordered Philex to pay the fines within 15 days from receipt of the resolution.

The amount is separate from the P1.034-billion penalty it incurred in violation of the Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

The mining firm has yet to pay the P1.034-billion fine.

Earlier, the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) denied a request from Philex to use the P1.034-billion penalty for the rehabilitation of areas affected by the leakage.

Philex had asked MGB to allow them to spend P870 million for the rehabilitation of its tailings dam and the cleanup and rehabilitation of Balog Creek and its convergence area with Agno River until April.


Rules set for Panagbenga clean and green contests

>> Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By Julie G. Fianza BAGUIO CITY – Barangays vying for being the city’s cleanest and greenest this coming Panagbenga festival shall be categorized into two, as agreed in a meeting by committee head Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda.

The final guidelines are also being crafted with district officers to be called for a “re-categorization” meeting this week. Other issues such as procedures, time table and awarding date shall also be discussed by barangay and district officials.

Feedback last year as to barangays’ either general lay-out and lack of space for greenery as basis for joining or declining to join the contest reached committee chair Councilor Tabanda, thus the re-categorization.

Some barangays were either “planned” or unstructured; spacious or crowded with buildings; and have ample natural greenery or no space for plants.

Some members of the committee including private citizens’ representative Cathy de la Rosa, however suggested the use of planters on sidewalks, and vertical or rooftop gardens as alternative. Visual appeal would be considered in this level, it was suggested.

Other considerations for the two-category contest are the presence or absence of: waterways which are included in the judging; of main highways or minor roads and alleys; population density; proportion of residential and commercial zone; and parking zones; all within the barangays.

There were apprehensions more barangays would fall under the category with less greenery, more population, with more commercial and parking zones.

The contest would also be more barangay-based as areas within a district may fall in separate categories. Councilor Joel Alangsab who was present during the meeting also cited amount of prizes given out last year: P100,000 for the first prize, P80,000 for the second, P60, 000 and P40,000 for the third and fourth prizes, respectively.

He expressed confidence that with the two categories, the appropriated amount from Panagbenga funds would also be doubled, with assistance from the Association of Barangay Captains office.

Punong barangays as judges in the preliminary level shall also be looked into; with suggestions that the Alay SaKalinisan Inc. take the job. Aesthetic experts would then do the final judging.

Another barangay contest would be the roadside garden category, it was learned.A separate main roadside contest as suggested last year by national tourism officials shall be participated in by barangays along Kennon road, Naguilian Highway, Marcos Highway and Halsema highway, all entrances to the city.


By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis TABUK CITY, Kalinga, Jan. 20 –- Silent drill, acrobatic show, ballet performance and the Gangnam style dance craze will be new attractions in the upcoming 18th Kalinga Province Founding Anniversary and Ullalim Festival 2013 scheduled on Feb. 14-17, in this capital town.

During the Kalinga Provincial Development Council meeting presided by Gov. Jocel Baac at the Grand Zion Hotel, the body was presented with these new attractions for the festival.

Provincial Administrator Grace Kidang-Flores said that the Philippine National Police Academy particularly its Silent Drill Squad and Band has been invited to serve as performers and at the same time will be responsibility.

Flores said that the province invited the PNPA Silent Drill Squad of which 20 of the 160 cadet-members are from Kalinga. He added since Kalinga cadets have residences in the city of Tabuk, they are encouraged to host some of their fellow cadets and try to teach them how the Kalinga live. They would be hosting their accommodation and food with the help of the provincial government and the other municipal government.

Tabuk City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban said the coming of the PNPA cadets will serve as encouragement for the other Kalinga youth who could be future leaders of the province by joining the cadet corps of the PNPA or even the Philippine Military Academy.

On the opening day, students from the different schools in the province will be converging to join the grand civic parade which will be highlighted by the simultaneous dancing of the Gangnam Style dance craze with their traditional Kalinga costumes of g-strings and tapis.

Provincial and municipal o
Performances from the Halili Cruz Ballet Company and an acrobatic group at the Kalinga Sports Complex will close the four-day event.

This will be the first time that a ballet and an acrobatic show will be part of the Ullalim Festival. 'Ullalim' which means a tale, saga or story is either sang or chanted during romantic moonlit nights, Bodong and wedding celebrations or any occasion. Ullalim is the poetic expression of the heroic exploits, romance, joys and travails, and the way of life of the Kalinga from birth to death. Dubbed as the ‘festival of festivals,’ this year’s celebration with the theme “Kalinga Shines,” will be featuring the best of the six municipalities of Kalinga namely – Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pinukpuk, Pasil, Rizal, Tanudan, Tinglayan and its lone city of Tabuk. -- PIA


P775 M projects to boost Baguio tourism, economy

BAGUIO CITY – More than P775 million worth of infrastructure projects are set first quarter of this year which officials said would boost tourism and economic growth of this Summer Capital. Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara bared this saying construction and upgrading of the 21-kilometer Baguio circumferential road with an added appropriation of P300 million would be done beyond first quarter this year.

Vergara said the circuit road which connects the city’s eastern link in Happy Hallow and its western link in Irisan passing through the Kennon road, Marcos highway and Naguilian road will decongest traffic jams at the city’s central business district area as it will serve as an alternate route for motorists.

The lawmaker also disclosed delivery of basic health services at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center will be enhanced following the allocation of P225 million for the purchase of more state-of-the-art medical equipment so that experts will be able to diagnose complicated health problems of patients in the coming years. Vergara collected around P86.8 million from the national government which represents the city’s share from the operation of locators at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in Loakan that was earlier wrongly remitted to the national government.

The city government earmarked bulk of the funds for its solid waste management concerns while P16 million was allocated for the purchase of four new dump trucks in order to improve the garbage collection in the city’s 128 barangays.

“We were also able to lobby for the release of at least P80 million from the national government’s calamity fund for the now on-going rehabilitation of the damaged Irisan dumpsite retaining wall and for its conversion into an ecopark that will serve as an added tourist attraction for our visitors,” Vergara said.

He added another P30 million was sourced out from the Tourism and Infrastructure and Entrepreneur Zone Authority (IEZA) for the phase two rehabilitation of the Rose Garden located within Burnham Park.

To reduce traffic jams along roads leading to tourist destinations such as the Botanical Garden, Wright Park and Mines View Park, Vergara sourced out P24 million from the regular infrastructure fund of the Department of Public Works and Highways to complete the bypass roads along North Drive, Leonard Wood Road and Teachers Camp-Manuel Roxas. To improve the century-old Burnham Park, the congressman also allotted P22 million to dredge the 1.2-hectare Burnham lake to concretize its base and prevent silt from accumulating and destroying the view of the lake’s clear waters so the colorful Japanese fishes will be viewed clearly.

For livelihood of barangay-based associations and cooperatives, Vergara distributed over P4.1 million worth of mushroom production packages while another P4 million was spent for bamboo propagation to help produce sufficient supply of bamboos that will be planted in the city’s denuded watersheds as part of the lawmaker’s commitment to environmental preservation and protection.

He said all major infrastructure projects will be completed prior to the conduct of the Baguio flower festival upon the promise of project implementers to prevent inconveniences that will be encountered by local residents and visitors who will be coming up to the city to witness such activities lined up during the month-long festival.


DFA-Baguio tells clients: Bring genuine documents

By Carlito C. Dar BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Foreign Affairs- Baguio Regional Consular Office urged those applying for passports to check their documents and bring legal and authenticated documents only.

DFA regional director Edgar Canta told a radio program of numerous cases of inconsistent and fraudulent documents in their daily transactions.

Canta said they can easily identify fake documents but, as much as possible wouldn’t want to file cases against such clients.

The documents he said, are automatically confiscated and double-checked with concerned agencies.

He added for passport requirements aside from an official government-issued identification (ID cards) and other supporting papers, applicants must have authentic birth certificate, and marriage contract for married persons. “Our priority is the National Statistics Office-issued documents. If the document is authenticate and entries are clear, we do not require anymore the copy from the Office of the Civil Registrar,’ Canta said.

Relative to NSO documents, Canta and NSO regional director Olivia Gulla maintain an open line in addressing passport requirements and related concerns.

Meantime, Canta reported with the transfer of DFA – Baguio Regional Consular Office inside SM City, it is now more convenient for their clients. “They can visit the mall while waiting for their turn or call time to go inside the DFA office for processing of their application.”

Canta though, called for more patience from their clients while they are still waiting for equipment augmentation. Currently, DFA Baguio set its daily quota to 150 passport application processing per day, the maximum number of application they can process in a day with their present data capturing machines and other (processing) related equipment.

He also reminded the public that only their uniformed DFA guards who issue entry pass numbers (with the call time - on when a client will enter the DFA office). Issuance starts 9 am in Gate E2 (near the grocery) of SM. Canta said they do not make reservations and only accept walk-in applications on first-come, first=served basis scheme.


Foreign, local fighters clash in int’l kickboxing tourney

By Redjie Melvic M.Cawis BAGUIO CITY-- Local athletes clashed with foreign fighters in the first international open kickboxing tournament here at the Baguio Convention Center yesterday to promote kickboxing among the youth.

Bouts were ongoing as of press time whereinEdwin Baten of England, Robert Wats of Canada, and GergelyPeto of Hungary participated in.

Their local counterparts namely Kent Basinga, Hansel Olosan, and Randy Basingaearlier joined the foreign fighters during their public workout together with former Philippine team member George Lusadan, who actedas cornerman of the foreign fighters.

Basinga took on Baten,Olosan mixed it up with Wats, while Randy Basingaslugked it out with Peto in the goodwill matches.

Earlier on Thursday, the foreign and local fighters made a courtesy call to Mayor Mauricio Domogan at the Baguio City Hall followed by the official weigh-in of the athletes and a media interaction.

Lusadan described the matches as exciting bouts because of the reputation of the tough fighters. Edwin Aliong was tournament director.


Philhealth gearing up for nat’l run for ailing kids

By Ramon Dacawi
Running enthusiasts will give their physical fitness exercise a humanitarian dimension when they answer the starting gun simultaneously here in Baguio and in 17 other cities on Feb. 17 in the four-category inaugural “Philhealth Run 2012” being mounted by the government health insurance system.

Philhealth conceptualized the calorie-burning mass run to build up a fund for the country’s ailing children, to boost their chances of recovering from illnesses and of growing up like normal kids.

That’s why registration fees are pegged at P250 for the 3-kilometer fun run, P300 for the 5K, P350 for the 10K and P450 for the 18K that will fire off simultaneously in Baguio, Dagupan, Tuguegarao, Clark, Malolos, Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Legazpi, Iloilo, Tacloban, Cebu, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Koronadal, Marawi and Butuan.

That’s why Philex Mines, one of the country’s major gold and copper producer based in Tuba, Benguet, came in as the first major sponsor of the Baguio-Cordillera leg with a P100,000 donation.

“We hope other companies and institutions would follow suit as the run draws near so, together, we can reach out to more children in need,”said Maggie del Rosario, public relations officer of Philhealth-Cordillera based at the SSS Building along Harrison Rd. here.

Local organizers are optimistic registration will hit the Cordillera target of 3,000 runners to help achieve the nation-wide mark of 90,500 participants.

Half of the nation-wide proceeds will go to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City as the national beneficiary of the run-for-a-cause. Half of what every city/regional leg raises will go to a beneficiary of the regional organizer’s choice.

Helping Hands of Healing Hearts Ministries based at Camp 7 here in Baguio has been selected as the local beneficiary. It is a refuge and recovery home for kids from all over who are undergoing therapy in various hospitals and medical centers in the Baguio-Benguet area.

Among those who stayed in the home established by Claire Henderson, an Irish missionary, was her namesake, Irish Gullitiw, then a 14-year old daughter of a marginal farmer from Nueva Vizcaya who recovered from “dermatomyositis with SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) features” that had left her unable to walk for months.

Among the home’s present wards is 14-year old Ana Fontanilla, another farmer’s daughter from Rosario, La Union who recently received fund support totaling P38,200 to enable her to sustain her dialysis treatment for two months due to kidney failure. She and other wards of the small facility will be the beneficiaries of funds the Philhealth Run will raise through sponsorship and registration fees.

Runners’ registration, which began last Nov. 17, can be either on line ( or through the form being issued by the Philhealth regional office at the 4th floor of the SSS Building along Harrison Rd., Baguio City.

As incentives, top three finishers in both the male and female divisions will receive cash prizes of P3,000-P2,000-P1,000 in both the student and adult categories of the 3K, aside from a P10,000 group prize; P5,000-P3,000-P2,000 in the 5K; P8,000-P4,000-P3,000 in the 10K; and P10,000-P6,000-P4,000 in the 18K.

The “Nationwide Run for Mother and Child Protection” will mark Philhealth’s 18th anniversary. It recalls the spirit of “Children of Heaven”, the 1997 multi-awarded Iranian film about a boy trying to win third place in a long-distance race so he could replace his younger sister’s pink shoes he lost after fetching it from the cobbler. Third place had a pair of shoes as prize. Instead, Ali, the boy runner, ends up first in a bitter race to the finish line after he was tripped by a competitor.

Win or lose, participants, together with sponsors in the Feb. 17 run will up ailing children in their struggle for deliverance from all kinds of illnesses. .


Sagada trash still a problem; MRF soon to be functional

By Gina Dizon
SAGADA Mountain Province -- A grinder is set to be bought for the non-functioning materials recovery facility built here a year ago at SitioMakamkamlis of Poblacion barangay.

Mayor Eduardo LatawanJr, in an interview said purchase of a pulverizer was budgeted for 2013. The need for a pulverizer was specially identified by PoblacionPatay barangay captain Billy Baldo during a meeting of barangay chairmen last week with the Sangguniang Bayan.

Latawan also said necessary repairs to make the MRF functional including cementing of the immediate surroundings of the MRF shall be considered to make the MRF functional.

To address the garbage problem especially in the Poblacion, Latawan said jobs shall be created for waste management. It had been observed that at the center of the town, plastic wrappers were strewn on the streets and a nearby dumpsite where waste was indiscriminately dumped for burning posing threat on the environment.

It was noted that rivers were dumped with plastic bags of solid waste eventually flowing to Uud creek towards southern Sagada.

Constituents of the southern barangays have complained of contaminated river waters which found their way to irrigation and drinking source for carabaos.

In the same interview, the mayor was asked his action on the closure of the dumpsite at Calvary Hill by the Church of St Mary the Virgin following a letter to the mayor informing him of indiscriminate dumping.

Latawan urged the Vestry to give ample time for the location of another site.

The town executive also called for cooperation of all constituents of the town with the local government in managing the town’s waste.


‘Pinakbet’ takes center stage in Pangasinan fest

VILLASIS, Pangasinan – It was a unique barrio fiesta in this town as hundreds of residents partook of pinakbet, a popular Ilocano dish, cooked by 21 barangays in different ways as a highlight of the annual Talong (Eggplant) Festival last week.

Barangay folk gathered in front of the town hall to prepare pinakbet with eggplant, ampalaya, okra, and tomatoes that are abundantly produced here.

Romy Abrenica, barangay captain of Barraca and president of the town’s Liga ng mga Barangay, took part in cooking his community’s unique pinakbet mixed with ampalaya leaves before serving for better nutrition. Abrenica, chairman of this year’s Pinakbet sa Kawa cookfest, said each barangay was allowed to draw P5,000 from their respective funds to buy other ingredients to make their dishes tastier.

The municipal government under Mayor Dita Abrenica provided each barangay with 30 kilos of eggplant, 10 kilos of ampalaya, 10 kilos of tomatoes, four kilos of okra, and two kilos of sili.

After the dishes were judged, the barangay folk had the pinakbet for lunch along with other meals prepared by their respective cooks.

Earlier in the morning, students competed in a street-dancing contest clad in their costumes resembling the eggplant. This year, a new feature, the Talong Mosaic Art Design Contest, participated in by elementary and high school students, became an instant hit, as indigenous materials, vegetable seeds and bamboo were used to make them.


NGCP warns public on electricity line violations

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet - The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said it is having a hard time solving right-of-way (ROW) problems that affect its field operations, especially in delivery of power from the generation companies to the distribution utilities, in the different parts of the country.

In an interview with NGCP spokesperson Atty. Cynthia P. Alabanza, she identified the various ROW violations that hamper the maintenance of NGCP’s transmission facilities. “Common ROW violations we encounter are planting of trees within the ROW corridor, grass fires at or around our facilities, squatting and putting up of structures under our transmission lines, and kite flying. All of these activities can disrupt the transmission of power and cause power outages. More importantly, these activities damage our lines and compromise the safety of the public,” Alabanza said, adding that cooperation of the public and local governments will greatly help in significantly reducing the road-right-of-way problems being encountered by the transmission company. ROW issues have been a concern of the transmission business even before NGCP took over the operations and maintenance of the country’s transmission facilities in 2009.

“In fact, the bulk of our ROW concerns were inherited from the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo).Last year, in North Luzon alone, there were eight (8)outages or line trippings caused by ROW violations. A national total of 44 incidents were recorded last year for such ROW violation-related outages. Apart from being the cause of the problem, some ROW violators compound the problem by preventing our people from coming in and fixing damaged lines. The net effect of all this is that so many residents relying on our speedy delivery of electricity suffer for the actions of a few,” Alabanza stated. “These problems also made it more difficult for our NGCP linemen to efficiently and effectively maintain the lines because, in addition to maintenance works on the actual transmission facilities, they devote a substantial amount of time to clearing the land first of vegetation,” she stressed.

Alabanza said, “ROW violations imply additional cost to the company because we have to clear the land of vegetation and structures before we can perform maintenance work. In cases where the ROW violations cause damage to facilities, the cost implication multiplies. There is the cost of repairs and restoration, in addition to the cost of additional manpower and man hours which could have been utilized for more inspection and maintenance activities.”

In addition to operational problems, NGCP also warned the public of the safety hazards for ROW violators. Transmission lines are open lines that carry a minimum of 69,000 volts and a maximum of 500,000 volts. “You don’t even have to touch the lines to be electrocuted. Electricity induction may occur once the safe clearance is breached. In other words, if you get near enough, even without touching the lines, you are in danger of being electrocuted,” Alabanza explained. “Our lines carry electricity that is more than 300 times the power of the electricity flowing in our households, which is just 220 volts. Breaching our safety clearances can be fatal,” warned Alabanza.


BCDA asks fiscal to inhibit in libel case

BAGUIO CITY -- The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority filed recently a motion to inhibit Pasig City Prosecutor Jacinto G. Ang from acting on any matter concerning the libel case against BCDA as it questioned the impartiality of the chief Pasig City prosecutor in handling the case.

The BCDA filed the motion to inhibit based on a previous case that involved and favored Robert John L. Sobrepeña the complainant of the libel case against the BCDA. The MOI stemmed from an 11-page resolution approved by City Prosecutor Ang as ruled by investigating/reviewing prosecutor Assistant City Prosecutor Dennis R. Pastrana that the BCDA Board be charged with libel in connection with a published notice in a national broadsheet.

The libel complaint was filed by CJHDevCo chairman Robert John L. Sobrepeña A similar libel complaint, based on the same published Notice, was also filed in Baguio City by the Sobrepeña-led CJHDevCo and was dismissed by Acting City Prosecutor of Baguio City Elmer Surot last year. Last 10 April 2012, BCDA published a “Notice to all owners, lessees and buyers in Camp John Hay” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The notice was made to inform the public of the pending estafa case which BCDA filed against CJHDevCo and of the questionable business practices within Camp John Hay. The published material disclosed that CJHDevCo paid its shareholders P928 Million in the same years it refused to pay lease rentals to government allegedly because the lessee was suffering business losses.

BCDA’s MOI cited the case of spouses Chua v. Hon. Jacinto Ang, where the Supreme Court ruled that the public prosecutors, chief of whom was City Prosecutor Jacinto G. Ang effectively shied away from the duty to prosecute when they dismissed a criminal complaint that was filed against Robert John L. Sobrepeña, among others, on the ground of prematurity. In the case of the Spouses Chua, the Supreme Court ruled that City Prosecutor Ang and Assistant City Prosecutor Dennis R. Pastrana “acted on the case in a manner outside the contemplation of law. This is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction.”

BCDA’s MOI stated that “The Supreme Court’s findings gives rise to justifiable doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Honorable Office in the present case which involves Robert John L. Sobrepeña.”

BCDA further asked that “the investigating prosecutor and the city prosecutor should inhibit themselves from further acting on any matter concerning the case and hearing the Motion for Reconsideration.” The BCDA maintains that there was no malice, everything published in the ad was true, and that it was done to protect public interest. In a similar libel complaint based on the same published notice filed in Baguio by the Sobrepeña-led CJHDevCo, Acting City Prosecutor of Baguio City Elmer Surot ruled last year that the published notice is not defamatory nor malicious. He stated that the notice was made in furtherance of the public trust reposed upon BCDA Directors and was supported by public records. City Prosecutor Surot found nothing defamatory about the published material as these were fair and true reports of the fact that indeed BCDA filed an estafa complaint against CJHDevCo for having previously sold a property eventually used as payment to the government.

The resolution stated that it was a fact that the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) issued a notice of violation against CJHDevco last 14 March 2012, that CJHDevCo paid its shareholders dividends in the years it claimed losses and asked to defer rental payments to government; and that there are recorded complaints of business malpractices of CJHDevCo within Camp John Hay. “A close reading of the articles clearly showed that respondents were just stating a fair and true report of [the facts],” stated the resolution.

The resolution also stated that the statements made by the BCDA directors were made to protect the corporation and the investing public. The Prosecutor agreed that as a government agency, BCDA is justified to make such statements. Such call is an exception to the presumption that every defamatory imputation is deemed malicious since it is “a fair and true report made in good faith without any comments or remarks … of [an] act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.” Prosecutor Surot said that since the notice contained statements based on public records and communications, this can hardly be considered to have been made with reckless disregard of whether they are false or not.


Gun control

There is no doubt stricter gun controls should be imposed by the government as wayward elements are seemingly becoming bolder and brazen ignoring gun laws and are using deadly weapons to kill with impunity or forward their illegal interests. There is supposed to be an election gun ban but still. Just by looking at news reports, killings are on the rise with the use guns.

In the Cordillera, two men working for an Abra town mayor became the first gun ban violators in the region. Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said Reynaldo Baruela, 49; and Jun Palecpec, 51; both of barangay Malapa-ao, Langiden were arrested by policemen led by Supt. Mario Mayam-es and Supt. Virgilio Pascua who seized from the suspects two Cal/ 45 pistols at a barangay fiesta in Langiden town on Jan. 20. The two were reportedly “men” of Langiden town, Abra mayor Noel Castillo, formerly Abra province’s provincial jail warden.

In far Cebu, a former Canadian journalist, on trial for malicious mischief for threatening a doctor with a gun, managed to enter a courtroom Tuesday with not just one but two guns. John Holdridge Pope fatally shot the doctor who sued him plus his lawyer. Pope then left the courtroom and was reportedly trying to shoot more people before he was shot and wounded by a policeman. Pope, reportedly despondent over personal problems, then shot himself and died later in a hospital. Pope was reportedly frisked before entering the courtroom on the fourth floor of the hall of justice. But the frisking failed to detect the gun hidden in his sock and another in his bag. There is no metal detector in the hall of justice. After all the deaths from gun violence since the Christmas Season and with a gun ban in place, there is supposed to be tighter enforcement of gun control.

The series of incidents involving guns resulting to deaths should lead to a review of security systems and review of the enforcement of the ban on carrying firearms outside homes during the election period. More effective law enforcement is needed.


LT engineer develops PNP E-learning system / Book on Ifugao culture out


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet–The Philippine National Police’s efficiency is now a notch higher with a software called e-Learning Project and Geographical Information System-Based Crime Analysis (GIS-BCA) now being implemented by the Philippine National Police in Baguio City, La Trinidad and other major municipalities in the Cordillera. The Center for Police Strategy Management in Camp Crame is set to adapt the project for implementation in police offices nationwide.

Nathaniel Vincent Lubrica, an engineer and project coordinator of the University of the Cordillera and his students developed the software module. Congratulations!

It is not surprising as Nathaniel’s father Jose or Bong as he was fondly called, who passed away a few months ago, earlier created another software, along with his sons, that would monitor graft and corruption in government and improve services.

Shortly before the Creator called him up, Bong, an architect, said they tried introducing it to some government offices but the reception was lukewarm, I guess for obvious reasons.

Being neighbors in La Trinidad, I know the Lubricas as a family of academicians. Nathaniel’s grandparents, uncles and aunts have been long-time professors of the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet. Now his mother Persyveranda is the BSU’s vice president for academic affairs.

Anyhow, in the Cordillera where E-Learning or GIS-BCA was introduced, PNP personnel can now cope with fast changing information and communication technology and render genuine service or “Serbisyong Makatotohanan” being advocated by PNP Director General Alan La Madrid Purisima following the launching the project by police in the region. Regional police director Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong revealed this saying e-Learning was designed to ensure comprehensive understanding of the PNP’s Integrated Transformation Program (Patrol Plan 2030) and CODE-P, the strategic focus of the new PNP chief.

Initially, 22 policemen composed of police commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and non-uniformed personnel took initial examination for the project before it was expanded to other police officials. Magalong said the Patrol Plan 2030/CODE-P e-learning is divided into six modules. After each module, personnel are required to take an exam to test their level of comprehension before they will advance to succeeding modules to allow them to internalize lessons within each of prescribed modules.
In another news on accomplishment, Ifugao writer Juan B. Dait, Jr. has published a book on Ifugao rituals and cultural practices which may be a rich source of information for scholars, researchers and students of Ifugao culture. A former OIC governor of Ifugao, Dait has compiled in his book his writings about Ifugao cultural traditions which were published in national magazines in Manila since 1957. His feature articles include death and burial rituals and the prestige feasts of the Ifugao elite which they perform to attain the pinnacle of the social ladder in Ifugao society. These include the “Uya-uy and “hagabi” Fetivals which are marked by day –long community feasting, ricewine drinking and native dancing.

Entitled “Ifugao Rituals and Cultural Practices and Other Stories,” the book also features the mythological origin of the Ifugao people in the ancient village of Kiyyangan located 39 kilometers south of Banaue within this town. The village still exists and is often visited by the researchers and tourists. The proclamation by the UNESCO in 2001 of the Ifugao Hudhud epic chant as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and intangible heritage of Humanity” is related in detail in Dait’s book, supported by photographs of Hudhud chanters and a legend that tells of the origin of the Hudhud.

The Hudhud is a celebration of Ifugao wealth and prestige and is embodiment of Ifugao cultural values. The chant is composed of around 200 stories which tell of the exploits of Ifugao heroes and heroines who represent high standards of behavior. An article in the book describes the informal surrender of Gen. Tomoyoki Yamashita, commander of the 14th Area Armyof the Japanese Emperial Forces, at the Home Economics building of the Kiangan Central School and his formal surrender the following day in Camp John Hay in Baguio City after being flown from the Bagabag Airport in Nueva Vizcaya.

Four outstanding catholic and Protestant missionaries in Ifugao are also featured in the book, namely, Rev. Fr. Jerome Moerma, Bishop Emiliano Mdangeng who was the first Ifugao priest, Father Patricio Guyguyon and Miss Lottie Spessard, an American Nurse who selflessly served the IfugaopeopleinWold War II. Colored pictorials of the ordination of a native Ifugaopriest(Mumbaki) and the “Kolot” hairtrimming ritual for a boy’s rite of passage towards manhood are special features in the book that dramatized the uniqueness of Ifugao rituals. Interested buyers of Dait’s book may call the author at 09278292681 or email


Impunity of lawlessness


Once again, gun violence has taken center stage in public opinion. I’m not talking about gun violence in the United States but halfway around the world in the land of the morning sun – the Philippines. The recent killing of 13 people under questionable circumstances in Atimonan in the province of Quezon has ignited a firestorm of controversy on gun control legislation.

Many people believe that the time has come for a permanent gun ban, not just the 150-day ban that takes effect every election time. This year, as mandated by law, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) enforced a gun ban from January 13 through June 12 to prevent gun violence during the campaign for the May 13 mid-term elections. However, it is debatable whether a “gun ban” is really effective in stopping or mitigating gun violence during election seasons.

Take for instance the worst election-related violence occurred in November 2009 in the province of Maguindanao when 58 people – including 32 media workers – were massacred allegedly masterminded by the powerfulAmpatuan political dynasty in the region. Although the heinous mass murder occurred before the gun ban took effect, it would be unimaginable to disarm the Ampatuan’s private army.
Last November, it was reported that the Philippine National Police (PNP) identified about 60 suspected “private armies” that could cause problems in the upcoming mid-term elections. According to PNP, these “private armed groups” as they’re officially referred to, “consist of government-supported militiamen, insurgents, rogue police or soldiers or armed thugs who do the bidding of politicians to help them stay in power.” It’s interesting to note that a previous police study conducted in 2010 showed that there were 112 “private armed groups” ranging from a handful of men to hundreds in numbers.

Does this mean that more than 50 of these groups were disarmed in the past two years? The police said that some of these groups broke up while others voluntarily disbanded. But did they surrender their weapons to the police? Dismantling these private armies was one of President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s reform goals when he was elected in 2010. And if indeed more than half of them were broken up, then that’s a commendable achievement.

Or could it be possible that these political dynasties were doing a better job of keeping their “private armies” out of police sight and hiding their arsenals of weapons? In a culture where politicians who are better armed win elections, dismantling one’s private army is tantamount to capitulation or surrender. And that’s not going to happen without a fight. With more than half a million unlicensed firearms in the hands of civilians, violence is bound to happen despite the Comelec’s 150-day gun ban. That’s why the PNP has to mobilize its 140,000-strong police force on “high alert” on Election Day.

A key element of the Comelec’s gun ban is the suspension of all permits to carry firearms in public areas. Exempted from the gun ban are top officials, on-duty troops and police officers, and people who are facing threats. Violators could be sentenced to six years in jail. But a few days before the gun ban took effect, P-Noy applied for a personal exemption before the Comelec. Several senators and congressmen did the same, which is understandable because they are on the campaign trail. But P-Noy is not running for any office.

And if he campaigns for his party’s senatorial and congressional candidates, he is protected by a phalanx of heavily armed bodyguards. Besides, I don’t recall any instance when a sitting president carried a gun when traveling. Simply put, a gun-toting president doesn’t project a positive image of someone who leads by example.
In the aftermath of the Atimonan massacre, calls for the imposition of total gun ban are gaining momentum. But guess who was one of the first to step forward to signify his opposition to total gun ban in the country? P-Noy. P-Noy was reported to have cited some areas in the United States where there “were marked drops in criminal incidents in places where certain states liberalized the ‘concealed carrying weapon permits’ while crimes in areas that tightened their gun measures went up.”

But what P-Noy failed to mention is that the U.S. has the highest per capita rate of firearm-related murders of all developed countries. According to data compiled by the United Nations, the U.S. has four times as many gun-related homicides per capita as do Turkey and Switzerland, which are tied for third.

The U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average for all other developed countries. That means that Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country. (Source: The Washington Post, Dec. 14, 2012)
But things are about to change in America. After the Newtown, Connecticut mass murder of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school, there is a clamor to ban the sale of military style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Last January 15, a month and a day after the gruesome Sandy Hook massacre, the state of New York passed the toughest gun control law in the United States. Other states are now following the lead of New York. Finally, a national movement for gun control is growing.

The following day, January 16, President Barack Obama unveiled a package of gun control proposals. These proposals were the results of the study made by a task force panel led by Biden whom Obama assigned to develop proposals to deal with gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. With Biden behind him, Obama laid out his plan, which includes a call on Congress to renew a ban on military style assault-weapons sales that expired in 2004, a requirement for criminal background checks on all gun purchases, a 10-round limit on magazines, closing a loophole for gun show sales, and a new federal gun trafficking law, which has been sought by big-city mayors to keep out-of-state firearms off their streets.
In so many ways, the gun cultures in the United States and the Philippines have strong similarities. American and Filipino men love guns. With the proliferation of firearms in the two countries, gun violence in America and the Philippines has become a pandemic… a disease, a cancer. It should therefore be treated like a disease. The cancer must be surgically removed lest it would spread further.

While total gun ban in the Philippines might not be doable at this time, there are so many ways that gun violence can be reduced. And this is where presidential leadership is needed. And like Obama, P-Noy must take the bull my its horns and directly deal with the problems of gun violence. At the end of the day, gun violence can only lead to one thing… lawlessness. And when there is impunity of lawlessness, then we are no different from Somalia. (


New Baguio charter vetoed; SM reps ‘praning’


I suspect there must be something that is causing the paranoia recently displayed by representatives of the business giant atop Luneta Hill when members of PS182 or the Save 182 Movement and thousands of anti-tree cutting supporters marched from Igorot Park to Session Road and through the old public road Luneta Drive, yes, that’s right - a PUBLIC ROAD, last Monday afternoon. The night before, Baguio musicians held a concert at the Post Office park to mark the first year anniversary of last year’s anti-SM tree cutting rally. Paranoia is an unreasonable suspicion of unfounded motives of other people.

I define it as the form of illness by people who are afraid of their own shadow. The day was the first year anniversary of the first monstrous parade rally against the plan to kill and earth-ball some 182 Benguet Pine and Alnus trees at Luneta Hill behind the SM building to give way to a new parking lot extension. I remember saying that last year’s parade rally could land in the Guinness pages as the parade rally that quickly gathered around more than 5,000 marchers in the shortest notice. In both rallies; love for trees, for nature and the green environment, and hatred for greedy people connected with SM were the main elements that pushed people to join the environmental protest.

Last Monday, the participants of more than a thousand paraded with the beating of 182 Igorot brass gongs that according to PS182 co-founder GidsOmero, “the gongs reverberated so loudly, the city cops cannot find the volume controls to tone them down…. SM's top-of-the-line sound systems were like transistor radios compared to our gongs!” SM Baguio did it before in one of the rallies last year. As environmentalists were speaking out their minds, loud speakers were directed to the rallyists. They did it again last Monday. Whoever brought up that idea of attempting to drown what was being said in the pro-environment speeches and performances was simply unintelligent and has further eroded an already damaged SM persona. It only reveals the kind of character people who connect with SM have.

At first the environment protesters were prevented by our very own government police from passing through Luneta Drive, a public road. Accordingly, the police manning the entrance to SM on Luneta Drive were sticking to the order of police traffic czar James Logan not to let the peaceful protesters passage because the parade rally permit only allowed them to pass through Session road then proceed to the Post Office park. This was what the police recommended to the authorities who issue the parade rally permits, but it was eventually scrapped as the permit issued by city administrator Carlos Canilao finally approved the protesters’ request to pass through Luneta Drive. It was obvious that some of the police officials that were assigned here from somewhere were getting orders from a wealthy squatter at Luneta Hill.

The other week, Bishop Carlito Cenzon pleaded to fellow Baguio citizens to let their voices be heard by city hall and by SM by speaking out against the killing of trees. In his pastoral address that was read in many Catholic churches, he said, “this is one moment when we hear reechoing God’s instruction to our first parents: fill the earth and subdue it (Gen.1:28). Let us join up in taking care of our corner of the world.” This after the court ruled in favor of SM and dismissed all three environmental cases. Just like many of us, the bishop disagrees that the mall extension and the earth-balling of trees at Luneta Hill will “not cause irreparable injury to the environment or the constituents of Baguio City.” The bishop further said, SM may claim they bought that hill on which the trees stand even if they cannot show a title to that property, which makes it subject to doubt on its legality or authenticity, but in the name of civic-mindedness, they cannot just do what they want with that property. True, because as I was starting this article last Friday morning, Ted Failon on DZMM caught my attention to a news report that a TRO was just handed down to stop the construction of another SM mall somewhere in Pasay City.

It turned out that the real landowners of a more than half a hectare property complained that their lot was allegedly “illegally acquired” by SM. It looks like a familiar modus operandi is in the works. The procedure is to construct on any property then solve the controversy later. It is familiar in a way that those who assisted SM, particularly people from the DENR, in acquiring Luneta Hill in Baguio and the lot in Pasay, applied similar processes. By the way, Ted Failon mentioned about SM Baguio in his program. He said, “tanungin niyo kung ano sinasabing mga tiga Baguio tungkolsa SM,” apparently referring to how SM acquired the Luneta Hill property where the former Pines Hotel stood.
Last week, President Noynoy vetoed the law revising the old 1909 Baguio Charter. I am happy with that. Ask me why. It is not only because I am an Ibaloi who feels that the rug is being stolen from under my feet by HB 121 but the other few reasons are that the legislation has not been widely opened for consultation with Baguio-born and Baguio-raised boys and girls. Hence their sentiments were not heard. The legislation manufactured by Honorables Domogan and Vergara favors more the illegal squatters or informal settlers who can now easily own titles to the lands they actually occupy, to the detriment of honest land applicants who chose to follow legal processes sans squatting.

Furthermore, the legislation does not have a provision for a plebiscite. In the proposed bill, it makes Baguio the owner of the city’s townsite reservation. It therefore gives the city the right to dispose away lands, which is the primordial duty of the national government through the DENR. Should this be allowed? If yes, then all the remaining townsite lands would all be disposed off in accordance with how one votes. Since 1909, townsite lands in Baguio were sold through government auction under the supervision of the DENR Secretary, land management bureau director in the region and the city mayor.

This simply says that the legislation seizes and assumes the power of the President through the DENR and the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) national government agency to issue regular land titles or ancestral lands titles. I heard Honorable Vergara say that land applicants in the city who settled on untitled lands were not squatters or informal settlers. I respectfully disagree. All migrants who occupied Baguio lands without first having them formally processed are all informal settlers. The Carino Doctrine as respected by the Americans who issued the Baguio City Charter explains that Baguio lands never became public lands in the first place, because before the colonizers came, there were already private occupants. Is that hard for HonorablesDomogan and Vergara to understand? –


Identity crisis/humor


BAGUIO CITY -- Labels hurt when applied with derision and condescension. As one Black or African-American pointed out, he loves hearing his wife greeting him, “Good morning, my sweet Nigger”.

It’s different, he says, when he’s on the job and a fellow worker acknowledges him with a sneer dripping with racial slur: “Hello there, Nigger!”.

It’s in the pronunciation, intonation and inflection. It’s in the syllabic stress. “Igorot” is more acceptable. “Iggorot” is contemptuous.

Tagging hurts when it tends to encompass and to stereotype. When he was mayor of Sagada, Mt. Province, former Presidential Assistant Thomas “Champag” Killip was suddenly swamped one morning by text messages demanding him to rectify a national news headline.

It was about the arrest of suspected robbery gang members who were poking their guns on tourists along the Halsema National Highway, also known as the Mountain Trail.

The news headline and story identified them as the “Sagada-Kalinga Gang”. The label was coined by the police who tagged them as such when the suspects were presented to the media.

Killip verified and then called for a press conference at the Mandarin Restaurant along Session Road. There, he clarified that while the suspected gang leader was born in Sagada, he never grew up there. As the other suspects were born in Kalinga, the police tagged them collectively as the “Sagada-Kalinga Gang”.

The Baguio media took the police report hook, line and sinker. They used the police-issued tag in their news dispatches to the national papers. It’s as unfair and unwarranted – and embarrassing to Igorots like me. I shrink each time I read or hear a news report that identifies suspects in an anti-marijuana buy-bust operation or robbery case as “Igorots”. Curiously, the tagging does not apply when the culprits are Tagalogs or Manilenos.

Then Chief Supt. Victor Luga had just assumed command of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera when he learned of the tagging committed before his assignment here. An officer and a gentleman, he issued a public apology.

I recall that time a high school principal approached me after she visited Kiangan, the old capital of Ifugao province. She said it was a surprise to find the place so clean, free from red beetle nut chew spittle, contrary to what she thought. She apologized, perhaps knowing I’m her fellow Igorot who traces his roots to Hungduan, Ifugao. The debate lingers on whether we, the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera mountain range, should collectively call ourselves and be called by others as “Igorots”. Despite its derisive connotation stressed by its bastardized pronunciation as “Iggorot”, it means “one from the mountains”.

The negative derivatives of “Igorot” were borne out of the equally lingering ignorance of those who do not know us. Some of us up here in the Cordillera are as guilty as those who continue to believe – and mouth – that we are descendants of an inferior race (“slight”, according to a former cabinet secretary), born with tails and who climbed down from their tree abodes only recently.

In the same token, some of us Filipinos still swear by our ignorance that some women from Capiz are of the “manananggal” type who detach themselves from the waist up and, with their bat wings and fangs, fly out against a partly cloudy sky on a moon-lit night, in search of blood to suck.

Some of us still attempt to detach and distance themselves from the term “Igorot” as our collective identity as indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. Despite its connotation of subjugation, however, we don’t mind being called “Filipinos”, after King Philip of Spain at the time his army colonized these islands in his name.

Perhaps our denial of being Igorot and our acceptance of being Filipinos are both reflective of our colonial mentality or, as wags would have it, our mental coloniality.

The least we can do is to turn the tables when the occasion of ignorance presents itself. That’s what Igorot anthropologist Ike Picpican did that time some students from the tropical flatlands visited the St. Louis University Museum of which he’s the curator.

The students were instantly amused seeing some wooden spoons and ladles among the items on display. Their giggles broke into hearty laughter when one quipped in wonder, “Ang laki siguro ang bunga ng ang mga Igorot, ano?” “Bakit wala ba kayong nakitang ganyan sa bayan n’yo,” Ike asked after approaching them.

“Wala, sir.” “Wala kayong nakitang kutsarang mga ninuno n’yo sa museum n’yo?” “Wala, sir, dahil wala kaming museum.” “Meron naman siguro.Alangan namang hindi gumamit ng kutsara ang mga ninun on’yo.” Had I been there, I would have asked: “Tanga-saanba kayo kasi?” - ( for comments)


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