Palace exec denies torture raps; many victims recount inhuman, horrifying ordeal

>> Monday, June 24, 2013

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – A Palace official said torture charges filed against his family by alleged victims, were only aimed at discrediting him before the public and President Aquino.

“These are all rehashed and politically motivated charges being highlighted by our political rivals to divert attention from what is really happening in our province,” said Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.

Mamba reacted to the call of families of the alleged torture victims for the Court of Appeals (CA) to order government agencies to enforce its order for their protection amid the pending human rights cases they filed against the Mambas.

Marites Bueno, mother of one of four minors allegedly tortured in 2009 supposedly on the Mambas’ orders on suspicion that they were behind thefts in Cagayan’s Tuao town, said the writ of amparo issued by the CA for their protection has yet to be implemented.

Among the respondents in the torture case are Mamba’s younger brothers, outgoing Tuao Mayor William Mamba, and lawyer Francisco Mamba Jr., now the town’s mayor-elect.

William ran in the Cagayan gubernatorial race but lost to incumbent Gov. Alvaro Antonio. 

The Mambas belong to the Liberal Party, and the PLLO chief is the party chairman in Cagayan.

On the other hand, Antonio ran under the United Nationalist Alliance, one of the political groups comprising Team Cagayan of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

While Enrile is considered the political kingpin of Cagayan, the Mambas continue to keep their hold in Tuao town.

The two younger Mamba siblings are also facing a case for alleged violation of the Custodial Violation Acts, grave illegal detention, grave threats and coercion before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The alleged torture victims, aged 13 to 17 at the time of the supposed incident in 2009, claimed they were beaten up and suffocated with clear plastic bags, and that metal wires were placed in their private parts, and wax from burning candles was made to drip on their bodies while being forced to admit a theft in Tuao.

The elder Mamba, also a three-term congressman of Cagayan’s third district, denied the charges against them. 

“These allegations of torture and other human rights violations hurled against us only aim to discredit me. I’m not even a respondent to these complaints but our political detractors have been trying to link me to these allegations,” he said. 

Mamba said those behind the smear campaign against his family were the ones responsible for unabated illegal black sand mining along the shores of Cagayan and jueteng operations in the province. 

“You know those who have been controlling Cagayan for so many years… those behind the rampant illegal mining, gambling, smuggling and other illegal activities in the province, which have been generating millions of pesos for their pockets,” he said.


3 PNP officers survive Kalinga chopper crash

TINGLAYAN, Kalinga -- A police colonel and two others narrowly cheated death after their Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into a mountain here before noon Wednesday. 

Senior Supt. Froilan Perez, Kalinga police director, identified the three as Supt. Oliver Emmodias, chief of operations of the Cordillera police; and the helicopter’s pilot, Chief Insp. Dexter Vitug, and co-pilot, PO3 Jude Edwin Duque.

According to reports, the three policemen, who were immediately rescued by an Air Force plane, sustained minor injuries and were rushed to a hospital in Tabuk City, the capital of Kalinga.  

The helicopter, according to initial reports, suffered mechanical malfunction, causing it to crash into Mt. Bitulayungan while about to land at the police command post in Tinglayan at 11:15 a.m. on June 19.

Besides mechanical trouble, reports said strong winds and the helicopter’s heavy load were also being eyed as probable cause of the accident.   

The helicopter, which took off from Kalinga police headquarters in Tabuk City, was conducting aerial marijuana eradication survey when the incident happened. 


CA: John Hay hotel sale legal, SEC cease, desist order void

BAGUIO CITY -- The Court of Appeals has allowed the private developer of Camp John Hay here to proceed with the sale of securities for operation of The Manor Hotel, earlier contested by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition of Camp John Hay Development Corp. and permanently enjoined the Securities and Exchange Commission from implementing its cease and desist order against the sale.

The CA also dismissed the complaint filed by the state-run BCDA against the private developer.

The CA said the SEC violated CJHDevCo’s right to due process in issuing the CDO in June last year.

“At the very least, petitioners should have been given the opportunity to explain and answer the allegations propounded to them prior to the issuance of the assailed order,” Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid said in the decision.

Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Edwin Sorongon concurred with the ruling.

In its complaint, the BCDA claimed that the sale of the units of The Manor and The Suites with leaseback or money back arrangements should be regarded as investment contract or sale of securities, which requires prior registration with the SEC.

The CA said the SEC erred in its findings noting that the sale of the units with leaseback or money-back arrangement does not include investment of money.


Gov denies 3 guards, 6 others in gun raps his security aides

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Vice Gov. Rodito Albano, now congressman-elect of Isabela’s first district, denied reports that three Isabela provincial guards and six others.charged for illegal possession of firearms were his personal bodyguards.

Cagayan police arrested them following an indiscriminate firing incident last week.

Senior Supt. Gregorio Lim, Cagayan police director, identified the three guards of the Isabela provincial capitol as Gilmar Belleza 29; Vincente Bassig 20; Alvin Chavez, 22. 

Also facing charges for violation of the gun ban, which was lifted last week were Bobby Antonio, 47; Charles Calamba, 35; Gilmon Beran, 33; Pio Agustin, 46; Oliver Pira, 31; Antonio Paguirigan, 53, all from San Pablo town in Isabela.

Seized from them were two .45-caliber pistols, a 357 Smith and Wesson Magnum revolver, an Armscor 9-mm pistol, an M-16 Armalite rifle, and an Ingram 9-mm submachine gun.

He, however, castigated the Cagayan police for being “eager beaver” in arresting the nine men, who, he said, were only responding to an indiscriminate firing incident in his family’s ranch in San Pablo town.

 “Instead of going after those responsible for the firing incident inside our ranch, the police went on to arrest the capitol guards who were just responding to the incident,” he said.

Besides, Albano said the Cagayan police went out of their jurisdiction as they arrested the nine men in San Pablo, which is still within Isabela.

San Pablo lies near the Isabela-Cagayan provincial border. Albano said their ranch where the capitol guards were nabbed is still within the municipal border.

“I think some of the seized firearms even belong to the (Isabela) provincial government,” Albano said.


Two Itogon miners die of gas poisoning

ITOGON, Benguet – Two miners here died of gas poisoning inside a tunnel around 1 p.m. on June 17.

Police identified the victims as Simeon Dulawan, 36, and Roy Kilaas, 23, saying the incident happened inside a private mine in Nagawa Bugayong Mine Portal, Ampucao here.

 Investigation disclosed that the victims with two companions entered the tunnel and around 1:45 p.m, victims’ companions sensed  gas accumulated in the area prompting them to go out and seek assistance.

Itogon police, firemen Philex Mining Corp, employees and barangay officials retrieved bodies of victims around 8:55 p.m. and brought these to Nagawa.


Bontoc gov’t assailed for Chico River trash dump

BONTOC, Mountain Province – An environmental group lambasted the local government of this capital town Bontoc for allegedly dumping garbage beside the Chico River despite issuance of a writ of kalikasan by the Court of Appeals.

The Kalinga Anti-Pollution Action Group (KAPAG) said the local government unit was given six months to close and rehabilitate the dump beside the Chico River.

It said the LGU has not complied with the writ issued on Feb. 22.

Estanislao Albano, a KAPAG official and one of the petitioners at the CA, said they caught a garbage truck owned by the local government dumping garbage at the site on Jan. 14.

Luis Aoas, KAPAG chairman, said there was no signage at the site prohibiting dumping, which was one of the requirements of the writ.

KAPAG filed a complaint against the local government of Bontoc in October last year to protest the continued operation of the open dump.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported to the CA that as of April 31, the Bontoc LGU has yet to comply with the writ.

KAPAG lawyer Cornelius Dannang said the group is planning to file a motion for contempt of court against the Bontoc local government.


Gang leader wanted for Halsema, Vizcaya, Ifugao hold-ups nabbed

CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet - Police arrested the alleged leader of a robbery hold-up and cattle rustling group operating in Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Benjamin B Magalong identified the leader of the “Loloy” Group as Lorenzo Binay-an Laoyan alias Loloy, 39, resident of Tinoc, Ifugao.

Laoyan who carried a monetary reward of P 140,000 for his capture was nabbed by Ifugao and Benguet early morning of June 13 at his hideout at Central Balili, La Trinidad.

Judge Danilo Camacho, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 62 in La Trinidad issued an arrest warrant against him for murder.

 “The group was responsible in the series of robbery hold-up along Halsema Highway in 2007 where a victim was shot to death at close range after their vehicle was held up in Cagam-is, Madaymen, Kibungan, Benguet,” Magalong said.

 Since January of this year, four other notorious criminals with monetary rewards were also reportedly arrested by police regionwide.

Records showed from January to May, Cordillera police  accounted 522 wanted persons of which 80 were listed as “top most wanted persons” and 442 “wanted persons.”

“They were all arrested by virtue of warrants of arrest issued by different courts for various crimes,” Magalong said.

This, as a certain Cirilo Talaga Alvarez, 58 of Barangay Taping, Lagangilang, Abra was shot dead by unidentified suspects around 10:30 a.m. of June 13 in Sitio Nagsayangan, Barangay Tagodtod, Lagangilang.

Initial investigation disclosed the victim was headed to  Tagodtod on board a motorcycle when, unknown to him, he was followed by three  unidentified suspects on board a single motorcycle.

Upon reaching the crime scene, one of the riders pulled out a firearm and shot the victim several times causing his death. 

The suspects escaped and their identity now being verified.

The victim was taken to Abra Provincial Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr Apolinar L Turqueza, attending physician.

Police recovered three spent cartridges and one slug of Super .38 pistol where Alvarez was shot.


Army officers in Abra open to local peace talks

BANGUED, Abra --- Army officers in Abra remain open to holding local peace talks with the New People’s Army despite recent allegations made by the rebels against their troops.

Brig. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, chief of the Abra-based 503rd Infantry Brigade, said they would continue to support peaceful ways to end the conflict with the insurgents.

“We will welcome local peace negotiations. We will welcome peace talks in line with the new approach of the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process),” Iriberri said in an interview yesterday.

Iriberri also called on NPA guerrillas to abandon the armed struggle and to choose peaceful lives, saying violence and extortion activities would not address the issues they are raising.

Iriberri reacted to an NPA statement that the prospects of peace talks are getting dim due to the military’s operations.

NPA Abra spokesman Diego Wadagan alleged that two minors were hurt in a military air strike last May 31 in Malibcong, Abra.

Iriberri, however, denied that an air strike was conducted in the province. He said the MG-520 helicopter involved in the operation only provided close air support.

He added that he did not intend to use the word “air strike” to refer to the operation.

Iriberri said he merely quoted Malibcong Mayor Benido Bacuyag, who used the word “air strike” in his report to Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista. 

Bacuyag reportedly got the term from the press release of the NPA. 

In a text message to Bautista, Iriberri said he has talked to Bacuyag and “he attested that per verification with his constituents in the said barangays, there was no civilian casualty as a result of the air strike.”

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said the close air support involved the delivery of two rockets to mark an area.

Iriberri said there are about 100 remaining NPA rebels in Abra. He said the insurgents have resorted to propaganda due to their failure to launch offensives against military forces in the northern province.


Ecija police still clueless on grenade attack on PNP post

ALIAGA, Nueva Ecija -- Police are still clueless on who lobbed a grenade at the police station here June 9, wounding a police officer and damaging the car of the town’s police chief.

Chief Insp. Roberto Sena, Aliaga police chief, said they were having a hard time looking for witnesses because the grenade attack took place at around 2:40 a.m. when residents were asleep.

Sena, however, said he has some suspicions on who could be behind the attack, but refused to elaborate pending further investigation.

He said he could be the target of the attack because of the efforts of the Aliaga against guns for hire and drug pushers.

Sena said the grenade landed and exploded at the right side of the Aliaga police station in Barangay Poblacion Centro.

He said one of his men, SPO1 Ramil Sanchez, was hit by shrapnel in the upper thigh, while his Honda Civic was damaged.


PCSO branch opening in Baguio a relief to Cordillera patients

By Ramon Dacawi  

BAGUO CITY -- The recently opened Baguio-Benguet branch of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office near the city post office will stabilize operations soon, to the relief of thousands of indigent patients who no longer have to travel to Metro-Manila or to Urdaneta, Pangasinan for support from the charity service arm of the national government 

Dr. Ernieli Dancel, Urdaneta branch manager who was designated to open and head the branch here, said the local office is into hiring personnel to normalize its operations.The recruitment, especially that of a social worker to evaluate medical support applications, was delayed due to the ban on hiring due to the recent elections. 

She said pending hiring of augmentation personnel, the present staff of six continue to process applications for medical fund support averaging 15 to 20 a day. 

Dancel revealed that the PCSO board is also expected to adopt a policy upping the ceiling of medical support grants that can be approved by branch offices from P10,000 to P50,000 to give substance to the on-going decentralization scheme. 

The PCSO recently transferred processing of fund support applications from its office at the Lung Center in Quezon City to its branch and regional offices to bring closer its services to the needy. 

According to a resolution passed by the city council last April, however, the decentralization scheme would be rendered ineffective unless a branch or two are also opened in the Cordillera and in Mindanao where, as per the website of the PCSO, no district or regional office is found. 

The resolution, authored by city councilor Peter Fianza, asked the immediate  setting up of district and regional offices in the two regions, both of which belong the the country’s poorest. 

With this omission, the resolution said, patients from Baguio and the Cordillera had to line up at the Urdaneta branch or in Region II, in the process competing for attention and support with the constituents of the two regions. 

Fianza said “juxtaposed to this inequity is the reality that patients from outside Baguio and the Cordillera, such as those comjign from Regions I, II and III, are drawn to Baguio City for their medical and holspital needs as the city is indisputable the medical center of Northern Luzon”.

The city council resolution noted that regular hemodialysis patients of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center  who were lining up at the Urdaneta branch were told that only three patient applications from the BGHMC  would be approved per week.

This, despite the fact that the BGHMC has the biggest number of dialysis patients, 179 as of last March. 

The resolution came after a letter-appeal from mayor Mauricio Domogan asking increase in allocation for BGHMC patients from Urdaneta branch and the opening of a PCSO branch here. 

Referring to the city council resolution, PCSO director Mabel Mamba wrote city-vice mayor Daniel Farinas, saying “in the province of Benguet, the branch office will transfer to the Post Office Loop, Upper Session Road, Baguio City”. 

Mamber added that “for Kalinga and Apayao, patients are attended to at our Isabela and Cagayan branches while the branch offices in these provinces have not been established yet”.

For patients seeking fund support, the branch office here is actually along Fr. Carlu, corner of Post Office Loop.


Vizcaya folks up protests vs army-aided mine firms

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya - Despite protests, commercial mining operation is now in full swing in upland Didipio in this town and other parts of the province.

Oceana Gold Philippines officials formally declared that the gold and copper project being protested for alleged offenses against indigenous peoples’ rights, has reached the commercial production stage.

The plant has produced 7,251 ounces of gold and 3,866 tons of copper during the first three months of the year, which is on-target with the projected annual production rate of 2.5 million tones after its date of commercial production on April 1.

Mick Wilkes, OGPI’s chief executive director and managing director, said they had shipped their first concentrate from the San Fernando Port, La Union and the second shipment is imminent.

“Commissioning of Didipio continues to advance well and we are beginning to realize the positive cash flow from the operation having made one shipment in early April and the next shipment expected soon,” Wilkes said.

More than 13,000 tons of copper-gold concentrate is in storage in Didipio and at the port and mining activities continue to perform well with a large inventory of ore on the ROM pad, the private mining firm’s official said.

“Our transformation into a multi-national producer with lower costs continues to progress as planned,” Wilkes said.

This, as tribal folk intensified opposition against operation of mining companies in the province even with temporary restraining order (TRO) granted to Royalco Philippines, Inc. by a court against 10 local leaders who led four separate barricades in Kasibu and Dupax Del Norte town.

Defendants of a case filed by the company are anti-mining local leaders who led their constituents in protests since 2006 to stop  mining companies led by Royalco Resources Limited an Australian based exploration company.

Clemented Bautista, national coordinator of
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment bared this saying the company was using
the name of Royalco Philippines Inc. and Buena Suerte Mining Company in its operationa after the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences granted these exploration permits over Kasibu, particularly barangays Muta, Pao and Kakiduguen.

In Dupax Del Norte, affected areas were reportedly barangays Binuangan, Giayan and Yabbi and Nagtipunan town barangays of Quirino namely Keat, Giayan and Mataddi.

Barangay Captain Santos Yonga-an, one of two defendants slapped with a TRO due to barricades in Kasibu said, “There is nothing new with what the mining companies are doing as they are authorized by the state through RA 7942 popularly known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The same thing was done to us by Royalco Resources Ltd. when we set up the barricade in 2006, we were unfazed. No amount of threats, harassments or bribery weakened the people’s stance on mining as proven by our organization KIRED (Kasibu Intertribal Response for Ecological Development). We remain resolute that’s why our barricades in Kasibu remain to be there”.

With roads strictly manned by the local folks in Kasibu, explorations were made difficult compelling the mining companies to develop an alternate route through Dupax del Norte.

Such move was not without resistance from the residents of Dupax Del Norte. Two separate barricades were set up with the first on May 9 at Binuangan of Dupax Del Norte and the second one was last May 20 in Baranggay Mataddi Dupax Del Norte.

From then on, two new barricades were maintained  by local organizations AUBD ( Alliance of Upland Baranggay for Sustainable Development ) and ALMUSEGAM ( Alliance of Multisectoral Groups Against Mining) comprising 14 upland Baranggays from Dupax Del Norte and Del Sur including nearby baranggays of Quirino.

The other two previously set barricades were in Kasibu led by KIRED composed of residents of six baranggays.
According to Royalco, the setting up of these barricades brought P2 million loss to the company as they were prevented from delivering supplies, equipment and personnel in Barangay PaoKasibu, not to mention payments to their legal counsel amounting to P150,000.00 per appearance in court and other incurred expenses related to cases filed.

The people of Kasibu including those from Dupax Del Sur and Norte have reportedly sought legal means to prevent mining companies from intruding into their land.

Most recent was a hearing called for by the provincial board of Nueva Vizcaya in May 6 after a complaint was filed by the people of Barangay Yabbi, Dupax Del Norte regarding alleged intrusion of Royalco Philippines Inc into their town in spite of the people’s stand against mining as manifested in their numerous resolutions and petitions.

From the said hearing, the Provincial Board assured those present that they will temporarily suspend operation of the said mining company until the people’s complaints are addressed.

Last May 15, Oceana Gold, one of several foreign companies that gained permit to mine the province, located in the town of Quezon, formally opened and anti-mining personalities were invited.

The event was described by Bishop Ramon Villena the Bishop of the Diocese of Bayombong as the “opening of destruction of Nueva Vizcaya!”

According to Villena, mining companies employed the state’s elements to protect their interest at the expense of the people’s safety and welfare.

Recently, in June 11, truckloads of the Phil Army of approximately 300 soldiers from the 86th IB of the 5th ID arrived in Baranggay Giayan sowing fear among the residents.

The following day, the soldiers threatened to enter and search the houses of the Bugkalots who are the dominant indigenous people in the area, even without search warrants.

However, they were prevented by the people through their strong resistance as led by their tribal chieftain.

At the barricade, joint forces of the Philippine Army and the PNP tried to dismantle the barricade as they served the TRO against the leaders, but with the strong and organized resistance of the people, the state forces failed. 

Paz Balinggan, one of the defendants of the TRO and chairperson of ALMUSEGAM said: “These barricades that we set up against the foreign mining companies are to defend our land which is the source of life not just for us but also for our children who are the next generation.”

She added: “Let us remember our friends from Runruno, Quezon who are still in jail due to their resistance against FCF Minerals Corporations. Also, the leader who died from Didipio, Kasibu due to her anti mining stance against Oceana Gold Philippines Inc. These prove that our fight is not separate from theirs. Let us forge our unity to achieve genuine development.” 


New Cordillera RDC private reps appointed

By Maria Aprila W. Cruz

BAGUIO CITY -- The National Economic and Development Authority-Cordillera has announced the list of new set of private sector representatives in the Regional Development Council for 2013-2016.

Arturo Aro, supervising economic development specialist of National Economic Development Council  disclosed private sector representatives: Voltaire Acosta from the Council for the Restoration of Filipino values;  engineer Tony Caluza from the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers – Baguio Chapter together with  Virgilio Reoma from the Divinity and Diversity Alliance will be the representatives to the infrastructure development committee. Mayet Paragas of CORDNET and  Esteban Pomeg-as from the labor sector will be the PSRs  to social development committee.

For the economic development are Rafael Gayaso from the North Luzon Federation of Cooperatives and Development Center and  Dr. Gil Bautista from the Rotary Club of Baguio.

Dr. Julie Cabato from Shontoug Foundation will continue as PSR  for watershed  and environment management committee.

She will be joined by Ferdie Gonzales from the People’s Organization on Social Transformation.

For agriculture are  John Bugaling from the Agriculture and Fishery Council Foundation of the Philippines and  Gerry Lab-oyan representing the Community-Based Business Cooperation Foundation.

Lynn Madalang of Ebgan and  Marcelo Abela from the Regional Agriculture and Fishery Council were chosen for indigenous peoples.

According to Aro, the law provides that one fourth of the membership of the RDC should come from the PSR including one from the labor sector.

The RDC is reorganized every three years following the election of a new set of local officials. 


Philex ready to resume Padcal, Tuba operations

By Butch Franco

TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp. is prepared to resume formal operations at its Padcal Mine, as it has put in place urgent measures to rehabilitate a tailings pond that accidentally leaked water and sediment in Itogon, Benguet last Aug. 1.

 “We are well prepared and well equipped to return to our normal production at Padcal, as our tailings pond has been stabilized,” the company’s senior vice president for Corporate Affairs, Michael Toledo, said.
He stressed, however, that Philex Mining is still continuing with the rehabilitation of Padcal’s Tailings Storage Facility No. 3 (TSF3), so it could withstand even the heaviest downpour and worst typhoons and earthquakes.
The open spillway being constructed as part of TSF3’s rehabilitation is on track for completion by the end of June while Padcal has produced significant amount of fresh tailings for the filling and beaching process required to further stabilize the pond.
Libby Ricafort, vice president of Philex Mining and resident manager of Padcal Operations, said the second of the spillway’s three chutes would be completed by the end of the month while the third will be undertaken during the next dry season.
“With two chutes we are already very confident of the stability of TSF3,” stressed Mr. Ricafort, who said Philex Mining would ask for a four-month extension of TSF3 rehabilitation should government not allow it to resume formal operations yet.
Government regulators had allowed Padcal to resume operations temporarily for four months until July 8.
Ricafort said that once completed, the P327-million open spillway can channel as much as 1,000 millimeters of rain over a 24-hour period. This would be equivalent to morethan twice the amount of rainfall brought about by typhoon “Ondoy,” which in 2009 dumped 455 millimeters of rain over 24 hours.
He told reporters who visited Padcal Mine over the weekend that the company has so far produced 2.4 million cubic meters of fresh tailings to fill up the conical void in the pond as a result of the leak as well as to create a beach that would push accumulated water away from the pond and into the spillway.
Ricafort joined reporters and Philex Mining employees on Saturday in planting vetiver grass at Balog Creek, which was affected by the tailings-leak accident but has now been cleaned up by Padcal employees, although its rehabilitation is ongoing.

A tropical plant that grows naturally and endemic to India, vetiver absorbs pollutants in water and cleans algae to regulate oxygen for fish and other aquatic life in a pond. With its deep, thick root system that spreads vertically, vertiver is also good in preventing soil erosion.

Philex Mining earlier said it was also well prepared to start pumping the sediment that accumulated at Balog Creek’s convergence area with Agno River back to TSF3, but was still awaiting the necessary permits from local governments and the National Power Corp., which has jurisdiction over some areas concerned, for the installation of its pumping system.

Ricafort said the presence of excessive water in TSF3, which was built to hold solids, could breach the offset dike and cause the crest of the main embankment to slum and trigger the unnecessary release of water and sediment into the surrounding area.

He added that TSF3 has now been stabilized, but another 1.1 million cubic meters of fresh tailings are needed to bring it to its previous condition before the accident on Aug. 1,2012 that followed historically unprecedented rains brought about by two successive typhoons.

The spillway is designed to replace TSF3’s underground drainage system, whose Penstock A and Tunnel A were condemned following the accident. The pond’s Penstock B and Tunnel B may still be used if needed, even after the completion of the open spillway.


DPWH urged: Clear Kennon, other roads of illegal structures

BAGUIO CITY – The city council urged the Department of Public Works and Highways to remove all obstructions including structures built by squatters on road-right-of-ways of all national roads in this city.
The body asked the department to submit a list of structures along Kennon Road including buildings that are newly constructed or being constructed.
This came on the heels of the inquiry conducted by the body on squatter infestation on roads.

The inquiry attended by regional DPWH lawyer Maria Dionesia Guillermo and city department heads bared one cause of delayed action on the problem was redundant and unclear procedure on removing these obstructions.
Councilor Perlita Rondez said DPWH Department Order No. 52 series of 2003 mandates district engineers to “immediately remove or cause the removal of all obstructions and prohibited uses within road right-of-way of all national roads within their respective jurisdictions” and this should he enough basis for action from the department.

 Guillermo told the forum that the DPWH’s power in dealing with such concern is limited as per DO 52 prompting them to refer such reports or complaints to the city government.
The city government through the legal office acts on said concerns based on its established anti-squatting procedures which take time due to the required investigation process.
But Rondez said DO 52’s provision for district engineers to act on these structures is specific and clear.

Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia sought action on the mushrooming structures along Kennon Road starting with the conduct of a census of the illegal structures along the stretch. 


Ifugao sets educational fund for poor SK execs

By Vency D. Bulayungan

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The provincial government has established an educational assistance program for poor but deserving Sangguniang Kabataan officials enrolled in state colleges  in the province.

Board member Robert Humiwat, co-author of the ordinance establishing the educational assistance program,  said P2,000.00 per semester shall be paid to the grantee upon submission of proof of enrollment in a state college or university in the province.

“The assistance may be able to help the SK officials cope up with the increasing prices of school supplies, boarding house rentals, and other student needs,” Humiwat said.

There shall be one SK grantee per municipality who shall be selected by the officers of the SK in the municipality.

The name of the grantee shall be forwarded to the Office of the Provincial SK Federation for approval and endorsement to the provincial governor through the human resource management officer.

The financial assistance shall be terminated on the following grounds: when the grantee has ceased to be an SK official,  failed to pursue his  tertiary education,  has a failing grade, dropped or shifted course, has not enrolled the full or maximum required subjects for the semester, and  committed unlawful  or immoral acts.

The fund shall be charged under the 20 percent development fund of the provincial government. 


Mt Prov allots cash for winning athletes

By Juliet B. Saley

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- The provincial government here has started giving cash incentives to athletes who won medals in regional and national competitions in recognition of their good performance,

Provincial Ordinance No. 98, provided an annual budget of P220,000 from the provincial government for the specific purpose under the Office of the Provincial Sports Coordinator.

The ordinance provides that  under individual events, each winning athlete and the coach receives a cash incentive of P1,500.00 for gold medalist; P1,000.00 for silver medalist ; and P500.00 for bronze medalist in the regional competition.

For events of more than one player and team events composed of 12 players, cash incentives will be given per individual.

Each athlete of a team and the coach is given a cash incentive of P1,500.00 for gold medal, P1,000.00 for silver medalist and P500.00 for bronze medalist.

In events where there are more than one coach, the cash incentive shall be divided among them.

Based on the data provided by the Department of Education Mt. Province Division Office, in the 2013 Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association  held in Apayao, there  were  33 athletes who received  cash incentive of  P1,500.00 each, 44 athletes- P1,000.00 each, and 105 - P500.00 each.

Rosendo  Cacap of the DepEd Division Office here said the province sent 46 delegates  who joined the other delegations of the CAR which  represented the region in the 2013 PalarongPambansa held in Dumaguete City.

Three of the province’s athletes garnered medals.  Janburk Mark Chengay got a gold medal in arnis sparing and silver medal in ArnisAnyo in the elementary boys level.

Lorena Realis Tabiando got a bronze medal in taekwondo sparing in the elementary girls while and Erol Lyn Manggayo got a silver medal in arnis sparing in secondary girls level.

As provided in the ordinance, athletes who garner medals in national competitions are also entitled to cash incentives.

Under individual events, each winning athlete and the coach receives a cash incentive of P2,000.00 for gold medalist,  P1,500.00 for silver medalist  and P1,000.00 for bronze medalist.


NGCP ups drive vs powerline pilferage

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines  has intensified its campaign against pilferage of transmission line materials through an information drive in secondary schools in Zambales and the Ilocos region.

NGCP North Luzon Spokesperson Lilibeth P. Gaydowen said the series of talks on its anti-pilferage advocacy was held recently in five schools in Zambales; two in Ilocos Sur; and two more in Ilocos Norte.

She said the discussions delved on “the impact of transmission line pilferage on power service delivery and public safety.” -- Freddie G. Lazaro


Globe, CCT ‘create forests’ in Vizcaya, Ifugao, Benguet

This year promises to be even busier for the forest builders of the Cordillera mountain range as Globe Telecom and the Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT) gear for the creation of 21 mother forests and the establishment of 30 seedling nurseries in remote schools around Mt. Pulag in Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, and Benguet.

Funding for the nurseries will come from the P1.3 million in donation made by some 500 bikers who joined the Globe Cordillera Challenge 4 in May as well as from Globe employees and concerned individuals who want to save the Cordilleras from further denudation.

Last year, Globe was able to raise P800,000 for 21 seedling nurseries under the Roots & Shoots program of CCT in order to produce seedlings for tree planting purposes with the end goal of creating a mother forest in each of the site.

“We are excited to see more seedling nurseries in the Cordilleras.  It takes time to rebuild the forests but slowly, we would be able to help resuscitate the mountains after having suffered from prolonged environmental destruction.  For Globe, supporting the environment is an integral part of doing business that is why we continue to invest in the environment and its protection and preservation,” said Yoly C. Crisanto, Head of Globe Corporate Communications Division.

Right now, the volume of water efficient trees is not sufficient for the requirements of the mountain range.  Added to this problem is the huge cost of buying and hauling saplings to remote areas, thus, the decision to come up with seedling nurseries within the communities themselves.

The seedling nurseries are in support of the enhancement of community watershed and a way to prevent landslides in critical areas in the Cordillera mountain range.  They will, likewise, provide a possible livelihood source for the public elementary schools and the communities where they will be housed.

Labey Elementary School in  the remote province of Bokod, Benguet was almost wiped out of existence when it got buried under tons of mud after the devastation caused by Typhoon Pepeng in 2009.  Upon repair and rehabilitation, the school was chosen to house the first seedling nursery under the Roots and Shoots program of Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT) two years later.

“Back when typhoon Pepeng hit us, we really felt down. The school was covered in mud and we also had to repair most of what was broken. Then Globe and CCT came along and gave us the seedling nursery. Up to now, we take care of the seedlings that were planted. We made it a project of the community including all the students, parents, teachers and officials of the barangay. We thank those who have thought about this,” said Beatrice Perez, Tanod of Barangay Ambuklaw and one of the caretakers of the seedling nursery in Labey.

The creation of the Roots and Shoots nurseries was three fold. First to produce seedlings for forest building; second to educate the young on the importance of the forests and have them play an active role in the rebuilding and maintaining of these forests; and third, to create protected mother forests around the community from which they would obtain seeds to propagate the next generation of forests.

“In 2012, we have in some ways achieved the first two of these objectives so this year, the creation of protected mother forests will become a primary area of work. We look forward to further streamlining this system and implementing improvements from the learnings of 2012.It will definitely be a busier year but even now we are already starting to see more of the green,” said JP Alipio, Executive Director of CCT.

 The Cordillera mountain range is currently in a critical state as rampant deforestation massively reduced the forest cover to about 42 percent.  This increased the local communities’ vulnerability to disasters and also reduced their capacity to sustain livelihood. The situation prompted Globe to come up with the Globe Cordillera Challenge four years ago to raise the much-needed funds for reforestation activities.


DOST installs weather instruments in Mt. Prov

By Andrew Doga-ong

BONTOC, Mountain Province -- Weather conditions and real-time weather disturbances in this province can now be forecast more accurately with installation of modern weather tracking instruments in strategic areas.

Department of Science and Technology provincial director Norberto Cobaldez said four  units automatic rain gauges (ARG) were installed in the towns of Bauko, Bontoc, Besao and Paracelis while one  automatic weather station (AWS) was set up at sitio Keffha, Samoki, Bontoc.

Financed by the Philippine Council of Industry, Energy, Research and Development, the locally-developed weather equipments were installed with the joint effort of the DOST, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Advanced Science and Technology Institute.

This was in coordination with provincial and  host municipal government units and local disaster risk reduction and management offices in the province.

Cobaldez said the ARG records rain intensity and  amount of rainfall while the AWS also measures rain intensity, volume of rainfall, temperature, humidity and wind speed, direction and velocity.

Real-time data gathered by the two weather instruments are automatically transmitted to a central base station which will also send the data via short message service (SMS) to a server that is readily available to the public.

The data or information recorded by these instruments could serve as basis for the local government units to plan their disaster preparedness and mitigation measures or guide of the local chief executives in coming up with vital decisions or announcement such as suspension of classes or works and evacuation in case of heavy rains, said Cobaldez.

The setting up of these weather instruments particularly in disaster –prone provinces have enabled DOST and PAGASA to provide a comprehensive warning system.

The DOST director encouraged the public to access Project NOAH or log on at or websites to know weather conditions or track weather disturbances that may hit the province. 


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