‘Jueteng whisleblower’ mayor’s house blasted; troops deployed

>> Monday, April 29, 2013

By Myds Supnad

BUGALLON, Pangasinan -- Two more V150 armored vehicles and additional army troops were deployed here and other parts of the province to prevent bloodshed following the grenade attack on the house of mayor Rodrigo Orduna due to reported political rivalry.

Major Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., commandeer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, whose area of jurisdiction is Region 1 and 3, bared this Thursday saying he ordered this to maintain peace. as elections are drawing near.

General Catapang’s action came  after gunmen hurled Wednesday morning a grenade into the house of Orduna, the whistle blower who accused Gov. Amado Espino of accumulating allegedly hundreds of millions of pesos from the illegal game jueteng.

Orduna’s expose triggered the filing of a plunder case against Espino in what he described as lack of merit and politically motivated to destroy his credibility.

Espino said he also wanted the  Philippine National Police to immediately conduct  a thorough and independent investigation of the grenade blast so the truth will come out.

Espino and Orduna were former political allies but their relationship turned sour, after Orduna allied himself with gubernatorial candidate Hernani Braganza, a political rival of Espino.

On the other hand, Espino’s ally also filed a plunder case against Braganza.

The grenade exploded in front of the door of Orduna’s house, but no one was hurt.

Espino said Pangasinan had been known as a  peaceful province with little  track record of political violence for decades.

With the incident, some mayors and provincial officials of Pangasinan recently circulated a signed manifest seeking the ouster of acting provincial police director Marlou Chan, an intelligence expert, on charges of partisan politics and incompetence at preventing and solving  an  increasing number of unsolved shooting incidents in the province since he was assigned here.

Chan denied  he had  been partisan.

Local LP stalwarts said had deplored the grenade attack a “deplorable act” that police must probe.

No one was hurt in the blast which police said damaged the front door, including the gutter wall, in the house of Orduña in the town proper.

Police said the grenade was lobbed at 1:35 a.m.

Chan,  said they were still investigating the incident and could not comment yet on the possible motive behind it.

Chan said they now have to secure the family of Orduña who is running for vice mayor in the May 13 polls.

The mayor refused to be interviewed on the grenade blast.

Orduña, a self-confessed jueteng operator, hogged the headlines when he filed a plunder case at the Office of Ombudsman against re-electionist Gov. Amado Espino Jr. for allegedly receiving about P900 million in jueteng payola.

Espino has denied the allegations. He and Orduña used to be long-time political allies until the mayor joined LP.

 “We are asking the authorities to investigate this deplorable act and arrest whoever is behind the attack,” said former vice governor Oscar Lambino, spokesman and vice chairman of the local LP.

Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, the LP’s gubernatorial candidate, called on the police to beef up security for Orduña and increase police visibility in Bugallon and other election hotspots in the province.

Bugallon is listed as one of the 14 priority areas of concern in the May 13 polls due to intense political rivalry.

“The attack on Mayor Orduña deals a serious blow to efforts to ensure safe and fair elections in Pangasinan. Our law enforcement agencies should conduct more checkpoints and increase police visibility to prevent the outbreak of election violence,” he said.

Espino, for his part, also asked the police to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the grenade blast.

An independent and non-partisan probe of the grenade blast would be the first decisive step to keep it that way, he said. 

“I don’t want anybody to stage-manage violent acts that make it appear that politics has anything to do with crimes in my province,” he said. 


Comelec urged: disqualify Singson

LAOAG CITY -- Two disqualification cases were filed the Wednesday against Ilocos Sur congressional bet Ronald Singson before the Commission on Elections.

In a petition, lawyer Bertrand Baterina, Singson’s rival in the May 13 polls, said under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, the former lawmaker is not qualified to seek a congressional seat because of his conviction for drug trafficking in Hong Kong in February 2011.

Baterina, who is running under the Liberal Party, said Singson should be barred from seeking an elective post within five years “from the service of sentence on or about January 2012 or until January 2017.”

“The crime of drug trafficking is a crime involving moral turpitude which, under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, provides that a person convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude is disqualified as a candidate or to hold a public office,” he added.

Singson was dropped from the roster of the incumbent House of Representatives following his conviction in Hong Kong.

In the second disqualification case, Baterina accused Singson of violating Republic Act 7166 or the law on synchronized national and local elections concerning the use of police security by candidates.

Last April 20, he said a police patrol vehicle of Vigan City filled with armed Special Weapon and Tactics personnel allegedly served as back-up vehicle of Singson’s convoy.


LP leader shot dead in Abra; suspect nabbed

DOLORES, Abra – A local leader of the Liberal Party here was gunned down here April 20 and one of his four attackers was arrested in a pursuit operation.

Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said investigators were still trying to check if an old grudge motivated the killing of 32-year-old Tirso Cadangan Talledo here of Barangay Libtec.

But he added there were strong indications intense political rivalry in Dolores had something to do with the attack.

Talledo, a leader of Dolores mayoral bet David Guzman of LP, was stopped on his way home along the Cabaroan-Libtec Road and shot at close range by four men, police said.

Investigators found 12 cartridges for .45 caliber and seven for 9-mm at the crime scene.

Police later arrested one of Talledo’s four attackers who yielded a .45-caliber pistol, and seized the two motorcycles used in the killing.

Magalong identified the arrested suspect as Ronnie Cagaid Caray, of Barangay Cabaoan, San Juan town.

The suspect was arrested in Sitio Calading, Barangay Pacac and was found in possession of a Cal. 45 pistol with two magazines loaded with ammunition including two motorcycles used in the shooting.

Prior to the arrest, the victim was travelling heading towards Barangay Libtec riding on a motorcycle driven by Jessie Alagao Caballero when they were stopped by 4 male persons at Sitio Ukiang, Barangay Cabaruan, Dolores.

The suspects suddenly shot the victim several times on the different parts of his body causing his instant death while the driver was left unhurt.

The suspects immediately escaped towards Ukiang.  on board a Yamaha DT and Rusi motorcycle colored black.

The suspect is now under the custody of Dolores police including the firearms and the two motorcycles recovered from the suspect.

Investigation and hot pursuit operation are underway for the identification and arrest of the other suspects who eluded the pursuing police operatives.

“We just received information that one of the suspects tried to kill the local LP leader in 2010 but failed,” said Magalong.

Magalong said he ordered Abra police director Benjamin Lusad to ascertain the motive behind the killing, although he said evidence “indicates it is related to politics.”

Joint personnel of the Abra Police Provincial Office and the Special Action Force were cited for arresting Caray.


Fariñas son withdraws Laoag vice mayoral bid

LAOAG CITY -- With barely three weeks more to go before the elections, a son of Ilocos Norte first district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas has withdrawn from the vice mayoral race of this city.

Accompanied by his family and supporters, Carlos Fariñas went to the city election office Thursday to personally withdraw his certificate of candidacy for the city’s second top post, hoping his move would somehow ease his clan’s widening rift.

Fariñas’ withdrawal leaves the tightly contested vice mayoral race between his cousin, outgoing Mayor Michael Fariñas, and lawyer Christian Ablan, son of former congressman Roque Ablan.

Earlier, former Ilocos Norte governor Michael Keon, first cousin of Gov. Imee Marcos, also withdrew his bid for the city’s mayoral race.

This left the fight between the outgoing mayor’s wife, city barangay league president Shyville Fariñas, and her uncle-in-law, former three-term mayor Roger Fariñas, brother of Rep. Fariñas. 


East MP towns ‘hotspots’; Comelec alerts PNP, Army

By Gina Dizon

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The eastern towns of Barlig, Natonin and Paracelis of  this province were identified by the Commission on Elections as “hot spots” as polls are drawing near.

Comelec provincial supervisor Nicasio Jacob alerted  members of the  Philippine National  Police and the  Philippine Army in a press conference here saying that town here have a history of violence the past elections.  

During the May 2010 elections, a PICOS machine was burned at sitio Apalis, Paracelis.

Seven men were arrested with six guns and live rounds of ammo loaded in three vehicles with one of the captured guns registered to Maximo Dalog.

Paracelis also carries a history of ballot snatching through the years and delayed release of election results.

Barlig has no electronic signal in some parts of the town posing problems in electronic transmission of election results.

Jacob advised political party watchers,  media, police  and  the military  force to  accompany members of the  Board of Election Inspectors  in transport of   election results  from polling centers  to municipal canvassing  places to ensure safe  transport of printed  results and  PICOS machines’ memory cards . 

This, apart from electronic transmission of results to ensure immediate transmission of election results to national and municipal canvassing centers.   

In said press conference hosted by the Montanosa Press Club, Jacob reminded candidates to remove oversized posters, and posters in prohibited areas, further reminding the PNP to arrest and charge violators based on Comelec guidelines.

Comelec guidelines provide for 2 x 3 ft size of posters and 3 x 8 ft streamers in headquarters and during rallies.      

Jacob noted illegal posters in prohibited areas even as these were being removed by Comelec personnel. 

He appealed to candidates to remove oversized posters, taking note of the limited number of Comelec personnel with only four in the provincial office and two per municipality.


Baguio residents awarded land titles

By Paul Rillorta

BAGUIO CITY – The Land Registration Authority (LRA), Registry of Deeds here has awarded land titles to applicants who have been waiting for it for so long.

Around 27 Administrative Patents were awarded, bulk of which were Free Patents, three Townsite Sales Applications(TSAs) and three Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) during Monday’s flag raising ceremony here at city hall.     

Lawyer  Noel Aperocho who heads the Registry of Deeds handed the titles to; Winston Casiwan, German Mendoza, Marietta Sap-ay, Almira Cuyo, Noly Navalta, Teresita Celestino, Delia Alican, Janet Aguilar, Guillermo Ambos, jr., Alice Papcio, Alice La Pena, Dominador Marzan, Concepcion Eusebio, Elvira Deuda, Mariano Bernabe, Jr., Reynaldo Charcogan, Cristina Donglayan, Micielo Gracia Opena, Araceli Nucum, Claire Licawen, Risiambrit Dela Cruz, Alphaniza Manipon, Veronica Santiago, Carmen Kayachen, Generoso Artos, Annie Agkiwing and Erdolfo Ocampo.

He was assisted by Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Vice-Mayor Daniel Farinas and other city officials.

During the distribution of the titles, Domogan said, ‘more titles should have been awarded to actual occupants if the Revised City charter was not vetoed by the president.’

‘The revised city charter could speed-up the processing of pending Townsite Sales Applications in the city now numbering 5,000.”

President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the revision of the 1909 City Charter which local officials said could have addressed numerous land problems in the city including the boundary dispute between Baguio City and the Municipality of Tuba.

“Hopefully, we can find a remedy for it so pending applications will be acted upon,” Domogan said

Some officials here said amending the city charter was long overdue to conform to present situation of the city.


Amid bribery charges: No defection to Espino say P’sinan LP candidates

CALASIAO, Pangasinan – Amid bribery charges, at least 32 candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) in the province have dismissed as part of a disinformation campaign their supposed defection to the camp of Gov. Amado Espino Jr.

In a statement dated April 17, the LP bets said, “We wish to state on record that we never signed a covenant, or any document, supporting the re-election bid of Gov. Espino.”

The denial was an offshoot of an earlier statement from the Espino camp that 17 out of 26 LP mayoral bets in the province had defected to Espino.

The supposed defection prompted LP officials in the province to hold an emergency meeting and came out with their statement.

The signatories re-affirmed their commitment to President Aquino and the Liberal Party’s efforts to help Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza and Arturo Lomibao win as governor and vice governor, respectively, in the May 13 polls.

They said they believe that Braganza is the only gubernatorial candidate who has the experience, track record and moral fortitude needed to transform Pangasinan into a bustling growth center and possibly, the most progressive province in the North.

They also deplored alleged attempts by the rival camp to bribe LP candidates “just to entice them to switch loyalty in the middle of the campaign period.”

They mentioned re-electionist sixth district board member Ranjit Ramos Shahani as among those working for Espino, alleging that Shahani had approached LP candidates, offering them P100,000 each in cash and promising them development projects in exchange for their political support.

But Shahani retorted: “What bribery attempt? Where’s their evidence?”

Shahani admitted though giving P100,000 to his fellow LP candidates from his personal funds “because I am worried they may have money for their campaign but it’s very lacking because LP has no funds.”

He said the money came from her mother, former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, as help for his vice gubernatorial bid. The board member, however, did not get the LP nomination for his vice gubernatorial plan and instead sought re-election.

“It’s not a dictation (on who they should support), it’s consultation,” he said.

“Remember, there is a LP-Braganza wing and LP-Shahani-Espino wing,” he said, adding that he is openly supporting Espino although Braganza is his cousin.

“You tell Nani (Braganza) to stop bribing decent Pangasinenses with his lies, deceit, falsehood and character assassination,” he said.

“This is election, not revolution,” he added.

He said Braganza is his mother’s favorite nephew and he the favorite son, “but Espino is my mother’s favorite governor.”


Vizcaya officials quizzed on use of P130-M fund

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– Officials of Alfonso Castañeda town this province have yet to fully account for the municipality’s P130-million real property tax (RPT) share from last year’s operation of the Casecnan multi-purpose and irrigation project by a American firm.

The Commission on Audit (COA) said the municipal government of Alfonso Castañeda has yet to settle its expenditures from the multimillion-peso fund, contrary to claims by the town’s officials that they have resolved their disallowed transactions with state auditors.

In fact, COA auditor-in-charge Rey Acosta refused to issue a certification clearing the municipal government of its expenditures, which state auditors had disallowed due to supposed deficiencies and questionable spending.

“We readily issue notices of settlement if indeed those disallowed and suspended transactions have already been resolved. But the problem is, (they have failed to comply with) even the simplest deficiencies noted by the COA audit,” Acosta said.

COA’s finding of alleged fund misuse against the municipal government became the basis of the decision of Gov. Luisa Cuaresma to withhold the RPT share of Alfonso Castañeda for the third quarter last year.

For partly hosting the Casecnan project of US firm California Energy, Alfonso Castañeda is entitled to receive quarterly RPT share, and for the third quarter last year, it was expected to receive some P50 million.     

Cuaresma, however, withheld the release of the town’s RPT share unless the COA would issue a certification clearing the town officials of alleged misspending.

Earlier this month, some 200 placard-bearing residents and municipal employees of Alfonso Castañeda picketed the capitol compound here to press Cuaresma to release their town’s RPT share.

The rallyists, who were transported by municipal government vehicles all the way from the mountain town to the capital, failed to meet Cuaresma though.

Cuaresma said she cannot simply ignore the town’s apparent misuse of funds by allowing it “to further recklessly spend” hard-earned taxes “without at least having an idea as to how the previous taxes” had been utilized.

“I will be remiss in my duties if I will turn a blind eye to the seeming lack of care in the manner by which the (town) utilizes these taxes which we have worked long and hard to collect,” said Cuaresma in her letter to Alfonso Castañeda Mayor Jerry Pasigian.


Four treasure hunters die in tunnel cave-in

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya– The decomposing bodies of four suspected treasure hunters, two of them minors, were recovered on Tuesday or three days after they were reportedly trapped in a tunnel in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

Reports identified the victims as Eduard Asuncion, 46; Jefrey Binoha, 17; and Gilbert Asuncion, 16, all from Lasam town; and Christopher Valencia, 18, of Alcala town.

The victims, according to reports, were digging a tunnel in a 10-hectare private lot supposedly to hunt for treasures when the tunnel caved in night of April 20.

A lawyer reportedly owns the lot.


Tublay eco-tourism farm now a popular tourist destination

By Susan Aro

TUBLAY, Benguet -- An eco-tourism farm in this town  is fast  becoming a popular destination among foreign and local visitors.

Located in Acop, Caponga, the ENCA farm, coined after spouses Enrique and Carmen Cosalan, was established in 2006 and is managed by their daughter Marlyn.

Adventurists and nature lovers can go trekking, camping, and be coached on organic farming.

The place is also ideal for retreats due to its natural ecology. They say the place is relaxing and experience nature at its best, Cosalan quipped.

Many visitors visited the farm  and learned the organic way of farming. It has also become a venue in sharing experiences such as those who already have acquired techniques they learned especially in other countries, she said. 

Other visitors come to enjoy nature.

According to Cosalan, foreigners who visit  learned about the farm through the Lonely Planet travel guide. An organization in Washington, DC in the United States of America also established friends of ENCA link, she added.

“But for now we are limiting the number of visitors. We could only accommodate 15 people at a time,” she said.

The farm was not spared during Typhoon Pepeng in 2009 and part of it still needs to be rehabilitated, Cosalan said.

She disclosed efforts are being worked out  to improve and to  accommodate  more visitors. 

Cosalan said they want to incorporate culture in the area for visitors to appreciate and a  home stay program is currently being worked out such that from the terminal station in Baguio,  visitors  could go directly to Acop.

“There are suggestions that we cook food for visitors but we are still considering,” she  said.

With the passage of the Tublay Tourism Code, the local government unit  is planning to step up efforts in protecting and sustaining tourism such as the establishment of a Tourism Information Center to guide visitors in going  to   places of interest in the area  like ENCA.


SC clears military on activist’s kidnap, torture

The Supreme Court has cleared the military in the alleged kidnapping and torture of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas in May 2009 in La Paz town in Tarlac.

In a three-page resolution released earlier this week, the SC affirmed the findings of the Court of Appeals that there was no ample evidence to prove Roxas’ claim that soldiers were behind her ordeal.The SC adopted the CA’s recommendation for the dismissal of charges “against all the public respondents who, despite the newly presented evidence by the CHR (Commission on Human Rights), are still not shown, much less proven, to be liable or accountable for the abduction and torture of petitioner, without prejudice, nonetheless, to any evidence that may surface or be eventually discovered in the future against any of them.”

It ordered law enforcement agencies to conduct further investigation into the case, affirming the CA report.

But the SC modified the recommendation of the appellate court, which heard the amparo petition of Roxas, for the provisional dismissal of the case.

The SC held that the petition must instead be archived “pursuant to Section 20 of the Rules of the Writ of Amparo” pending further investigation.

In February 2011, the CHR said there was “insufficient evidence” to support Roxas’ claim that soldiers held her in captivity and subjected her to physical and mental maltreatment in a house in Tarlac in May 2009.

In the same resolution, the CHR said it has received information “that indicates the possibility that members of the NPA (New People’s Army) committed the kidnapping and other human rights violations on Roxas.”

The military earlier had welcomed the CHR’s findings on Roxas’ kidnapping, while the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has direct leadership over the NPA, had denied any involvement in the incident.

Even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who chaired the CHR at the time Roxas’ case was investigated, attested to the lack of evidence against the military in this case.

“There is no showing or proof that the military was involved so practically military involvement was ruled out. But there is also no categorical finding as to who did it. There is insinuation or indication that it could be the NPA but there’s no categorical proof, that’s why the CHR wants the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to pursue the investigation,” she said.


Padaca brod running for governor no-show in campaign trail

ILAGAN CITY– With barely three weeks before the elections, a younger brother of Commission on Elections Commissioner Grace Padaca who is running for Isabela governor has yet to be seen in the campaign trail.

Marlo Angelo Padaca, 49, is neither in his residence in District 1, Cauayan City, hometown of the Dy clan, nor anywhere in the province conducting his campaign sorties.

Padaca is pitted against incumbent Gov. Faustino Dy III, his sister’s arch-rival. However, political experts dismissed him as politically unknown unlike his sister.

Commissioner Padaca had been expected to give a good fight against Dy until she was appointed to the Comelec last year. She lost to Dy in the last elections by a slim margin, spoiling what could be her third and last term as governor.  

Commissioner Padaca rose to political prominence in the 2004 elections when she defeated Dy’s elder brother, then incumbent governor Faustino Jr., by an unprecedented 42,000-vote margin. It was the first time the Dys lost the governorship which their family had held for over three decades.

Today, however, the Padaca residence has no posters or streamers on Marlo’s gubernatorial bid.

Maridel Justo, secretary to Padaca’s eldest brother Carlito, said Marlo has just left “somewhere.” 

The boy who delivers newspapers to the Padacas said he was told that Marlo is in Mindoro.

“He (Marlo) is not campaigning; maybe he realized the futility of running against Dy,” said 63-year-old businesswoman Soccoro Mananquil.

Mananquil added though that should Marlo fight it out, she would help him in his campaign.

A Management graduate, Marlo, lost in the barangay elections in November 2010.

There were speculations that his sister would substitute for him at the last minute last December, but this did not happen.

Marlo filed his candidacy for governor under the Aksyon Demokratiko party founded by the late senator Raul Roco.


26 nabbed for jueteng operations in Benguet

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Lawmen arrested here Tuesday 26 persons allegedly involved in jueteng operations in renewed drive against illegal gambling.

Cordillera regional police director Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, said town police and elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Cordillera nabbed the suspects at km. 4, Barangay Balili, La Trinidad around 12:30 p.m. April 23.

He said 20 of the arrested individuals were revisadors, two kobradors, two drivers, a cashier and a farmer.
The operating team led by Senior Insp. Davis Antero Locloc of La Trinidad police and Chief Insp. Larry D. Buansi of  the CIDG identified the arrested persons, all revisadores and natives of Quezon province: Roberto L. Magadia, 34; Roel M. Ramos,32; Lester M. Mercado, 25; Arjay Sumig, 19; Johnray F. Bathan, 21; Ronald H. De Castro, 38’ Ronald C. Magnaye, 37; Kirby M. Cruz, 19; Rolando R. Sumagi, 25; Bernardo R. Bakal, 43; Ronnie M. Gonzalez, 44; Rodel R. Masangkay, 39; Jesson R. Macatangay, 39; Carding D. Alvarez, 42; Darwin R. Aquino, 29; Jeffrey M. Azul, 43; Rodel C. Limbo, 33; Kenneth G. Garcia, 23 and Donato F. Bautista, 36.
A certain Roberto A. Rebang, 34, of Calauan, Laguna and revisador was also arrested.
Meanwhile, the arrested kobradors were identified as  Joseph N. Galang, 47, a resident of Upper San Carlos Heights and Rodolfo A. Corona, 31, Rose Alley Gibraltar, both in Baguio City.
The arrested drivers were identified as Uri R. Elezaldy, 44 and Raffy R. Palma, 61.
The cashier was named as Joel A. Untalan, 35 while the farmer was JD A. De La Cruz, 29, all natives of Quezon.
A police report said a concerned citizen informed the operating team that there were people engaging in illegal numbers game in the area.

The lawmen responded, arrested all suspects and seized gambling paraphernalia.
Items confiscated were ballpens, calculators; rubber bands, stamp pads, illustration boards, plastic coins, ledger books, glycerine cups, columnar pad and cash amounting to P285.

Also confiscated were papers with marking “Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation.”

The firm’s name was reportedly being used as front for jueteng operations wherein jai alai results were allegedly being propped as winning numbers.  

Two utility vehicles with Plate No. DNF-242 and DPL-301 which were reportedly used in transporting and delivering of cash bets were also confiscated.   

All arrested persons and the confiscated items were brought to the CIDG office in Baguio City while cases for illegal gambling were filed against them.


Baguio City council lobbies for PCSO Cordillera office

By Ramon Dacawi 

BAGUIO CITY -- If this looks and sounds more of an opinion piece than a straight news item, it’s so intended, to catch your attention and convince you to help the city council lobby for what it pushed last Monday.
By unanimous vote and “on motion of all and seconded by all”, the city council, acting with a deep sense of urgency, adopted a resolution authored by city councilor Peter Fianza for the setting up of district and regional offices of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in the Cordillera and in the Autonomous Region in Mindanao to serve thousands of indigent and seriously ill patients in the two regions.

As councilor Fianza explained, the PCSO recently decentralized the processing and approval of fund assistance applications to cash-strapped patients, from its office at the Lung Center along E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City to the district and regional offices.  
While the decentralization brings closer PCSO’s services to the people, it serves better the needs of other regions than those of the people of the Cordillera and the Autonomous Region in Mindanao.
The poorest regions in the country notwithstanding their wealth in natural resource, the Cordillera and  the Autonomous Region in Mindanao are the only two among the 17 regions in the country that do not have a district or regional office of the PCSO.     
Residents of the two regions now have to go to the nearest regions with district or regional offices. Patients coming from the Cordillera now have to apply for medical support at the PCSO Region 1 office  in Urdaneta, Pangasinan which is already swamped by patients coming from the Ilocos.
Curiously, some regions have more than one district or regional offices. Region 3 has four, in Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. So does the Bicol Region, whose four offices are located in Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
For the Cordillera, Fianza asked that a regional office be established in Baguio and a district set up in other parts of the region. He noted it would be practical to have an office in the city as Baguio serves many patients from other parts of Luzon, it being  the top medical center north of Metro-Manila.

A case in point, he pointed out, is the continuously increasing number of end-stage kidney failure patients from within and outside the Cordillera being served by the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center because of its open policy, the quality of its service and its lower rates.

As of last January, the number of kidney patients being treated twice or thrice-a-week at the BGHMC  was 169. By March, the figure increased to 179, a trend which is surely to continue.  

Despite their huge number, dialysis patients being served by the BGHMC used to avail of PCS0 support three to four times a year when the processing for applications was still centralized at its office in Quezon City.

At the Urdaneta office, the quota for kidney patients coming from the BGHMC was initially three per week. Acting on the clamor of patients, the quota was increased to four a week. If not increased, BGHMC patients would be able to avail of PCSO support only once a year.
Fianza’s resolution will be transmitted to PCSO chair Margarita Juico and the PCSO board of directors for their appropriate action, with copies furnished President Aquino and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.
Likewise, the resolution will be transmitted to the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao, with the request for it to adopt a similar resolution.

City mayor Mauricio Domogan also recently wrote PCSO chair Juico to air the plight of patients from within and outside the Cordillera because of the reduced  medical support from the government’s humanitarian arm  as a result of its decentralized operations.

Readers of this paper who  have connections to top national government agencies or get the chance to talk to senatorial candidates in the May polls, are urged to ask them to help lobby for the opening of regional and district offices of the PCSO here and in the Autonomous Region of Mindanao.

Likewise, local government units in the Cordillera can follow suit with similar resolutions.


Geologic tests, FPIC pushed for Sagada windfarm project

By Gina Dizon 

SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Vice Mayor and  mayoral candidate  Richard Yodong  wants the proposed windfarm in this tourist town to undergo  geologic  tests to determine effects of  the wind turbines vis a vis water tables so local folks could be fully appraised of the matter before it is implemented.

Yodong bared this in a press conference hosted by the Montanosa Press Club in the capital town of Bontoc.

The Manila based- Philcarbon wants to construct the windfarm.  

Residents have been asking how the project would affect  springs and watersheds.

Hundreds of households  here in the  central and northern barangays of  Sagada and   eastern and  central Besao source their  domestic and  irrigation water from water springs  cradled by the Pilaw-Langsayan ridge where locates the proposed site to  build  the windfarm.

At least 10 wind turbines measuring 80 feet are projected to be installed along the ridge with an area of 20 meters by 20 meters and rotor blades measuring some 70 meters in length.  

No studies have been presented to the public by Philcarbon  even as  hydrology tests are  being asked by some  residents of whether this has been conducted or not.

During the  press conference, Gwen Longid, speaking for  Katribu nominee Beverly Longid said  free prior and informed consent(FPIC)  is an essential requirement  in the  proposed windfarm project. 

Longid noted that   FPIC process in its entirety should be fully facilitated  to let people be consulted and  informed on what the project is all about and thus have an informed decision on whether the project proceed or not.

Longid said  the conduct of FPIC process  is a major call of KATRIBU  in its platform and program to let indigenous peoples be consulted and informed  on projects being proposed and implemented in their own territories.          

Meantime,  mayoral candidate Geraldo Lamaton of Barlig said he wants the watersheds of  Barlig to stay protected  taking note of the fact that Barlig has  profuse supply of water due to its mossy  forests.

Lamaton  said Barlig also supplies  the capital town of  adjacent Bontoc with water and noted that pipes leading to Bontoc are leaking and need maintenance. 


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