Lepanto folks oppose grant of exploration permits to mine firm

>> Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MANKAYAN, Benguet – Residents and cause oriented groups urged Malacanang to intercede in their behalf  saying moves of  government agencies to grant mining permits here at Lepanto over ancestral lands would further destroy the environment and destroy farm lands where they derive their livelihood.     

They said Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp., the government’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples were attempting to “convert the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the people into Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) over  82,000 hectares in Lepanto.”

Voting on conversion of the FPIC to FTAA commenced at the municipal hall of Mankayan yesterday (July 27) wherein residents with people’s organizations opposed the granting of an FTAA to the mining company.

These included KAIABANG, Cordillera People’s Alliance Benguet, Bileg ken Urnos Dagiti Agtutubo y Benguet (BUDAY), Save Mankayan Movement (SMM), Mankayan Youth Movement (MYM), Save Tabio Organization (STO) and MADIPO (Mankayan elders organization).
They insisted the voting be moved until proper consultations with the people are done. Discussions on the matter were ongoing at press time.

“The people of Mankayan are concerned on impacts of the FTAA because this will grant the LCMC a mining exploration permit on the 82,000 hectares in Lepanto,” said Vijone Colaling, of the Mankayan Youth Movement. “In particular, the people of Barangay Balili and Barangay Bedbed are concerned with their collective land rights and their environment if the exploration will commence.”

According to residents, severe environmental degradation and countless human rights violations have been effects of corporate mining in Mankayan.

“The people of Mankayan will never forget the sinking of Barangay Colalo and Poblacion and the rape of Isabel by Capt. DaniloLanin of the 86th Infantry Battalion,” Colaling said.

The FPIC on the MPSA001 and MPSA151 areas is a temporary permit reportedly not approved by the community.

“Despite this, the NCIP and the MGB have considered the temporary FPIC as grants to the LCMC to conduct mining activities in the area. The bogus and anti-indigenous people’s permits in Lepanto have not undergone proper processes. MPSA001 is the application grant to the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation in 2000 and the MPSA151 was the permit given to the mining corporation by the NCIP itself in 1990. The conversion of the FTAA into the FPIC will involve converting these bogus permits into mining exploration.

According to oppositionists to mining exploration “attempts to convert the FPIC into FTAA considering the FPIC has not undergone constitutional processes.

“This is a clear violation to the collective rights of the Mankayan community. It seems as if the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, the MGB and NCIP are stupefying the people,” Colaling said. 


Supreme Court allows disqualified mayor to take post

MARCOS, Ilocos Norte -- The disqualified mayor of this town may now temporarily take his seat without his rival clinging on to the top municipal post.

This, after the Supreme Court (SC) granted the plea of Arsenio Agustin for a halt order on the implementation of a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling canceling his certificate of candidacy (COC) in the recent polls due to a residency issue.

In its July 16 session, the SC decided to issue a status quo ante order that effectively allowed Agustin to serve as mayor and ordered Salvador Pillos to vacate the post.

“Acting on the urgent motion to resolve prayer for injunctive relief dated July 3, 2013 filed by counsel for petitioner, the Court resolved to require the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the Comelec en banc resolution dated April 23, 2013,” read the minute resolution signed by SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal.

Agustin and Pillos had been serving as mayors in the same municipal hall since the elections, causing confusion among employees and their constituents.

Pillos was reportedly holding office at the second floor of the municipal building, and Agustin at the accounting department at the first floor.

The two were even attending the flag- raising ceremony but were not allowed to speak before the employees and other local elected officials.

Agustin was proclaimed winner in the mayoral contest after garnering 5,020 votes against Pillos’ 4,216, or a margin of 804 votes.

He took his oath last June 29 before Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, while Pillos took his the next day before a barangay chairman and had never left the town hall since then.

Pillos insisted that he won the mayoral race as Agustin’s COC was canceled, which the Comelec enforced in a writ of execution last June 18.

Agustin’s lawyer Eric Garvida earlier had threatened to file a complaint against Pillos for usurpation of function and using the facilities of the mayor’s office without authority.


Dispute over fishing site: 3 killed, 1 survive Apayao massacre

PUDTOL, Apayao – Three residents died in a massacre here when they were shot to death July 21, their bodies burned along with the house where they were murdered, but one survived to tell the gory tale. 

Senior Supt. Albertlito Garcia, Apayao, police director said the shooting incident happened in Sitio Magabobong, Upper Maton, Pudtol.

He identified the victims as Felix B. Matulot, 75; Jayson G. Acob, 29; Rogelio I. Rupad, 39 and Elevencio Matulot y Pagtan, 44, the lone survivor, all farmers and residents of Lower Maton, Pudtol.

The nine alleged murderers were identified as DionisioBatalao Bernal, TubbanLuban, Beltran Francisco, DivinaDandan, Gerald Daluguis, Marcelo Luban, Alex Luban, Bryan Bernal and Charlie Igwad, all residents of Kabugao town.

Prior to the killing, the victims reportedly went to visit their old house in Upper Maton, on July 19.

The following day, they discovered that their “Lapat” (no fishing area) was allegedly “violated” by the suspects.

Police said it is a tribal custom that lapats should not be trespassed upon by anybody without consent of the owner.

On July 21, the suspects went to the house of the victims where a heated argument ensued with the suspects that resulted in the killing of the victims.

The lone survivor who was then at the river and about to return to the house was suddenly fired upon by one of the suspects prompting him to run for his safety and while escaping, he heard three successive gun shots coming from their house.

He went to his mother’s house in Waga, Kabugao, and the following day and used a motorized boat to report the incident to Pudtol police.

Early morning of July 22, police with relatives of the victims went to the crime scene and arrived at about 2 p.m. where they found the house was already burned together with cadavers of the victims.

The victims were positively identified by the relatives base on their remains and recovered several fired bullets of shotgun. 


Army denies integration of rebs: CPLA seeks review of MOA with gov't

BAGUIO CITY – A thorough review was sought by the former rebel group Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) it signed with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

The request came after 12 candidate soldiers of the Philippine Army who were sons of former CPLA members being trained for integration were rejected in the middle of the training.  

The Philippine Army has reportedly denied reconsideration of its decision to drop the 12 trainees.

Arsenio Humiding, leader of the CPLA group which signed a closure agreement with OPAPP last year, is seeking a meeting with Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles to discuss the merit of the MOA.

"It seems that we are not headed to the direction which was intended,” Humiding said.

The closure agreement with the CPLA under Humiding ended the group's orientation as an armed movement.

Part of the MOA with government is the integration of 168 willing and next-of-kin CPLA members into the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The clamor for a review of the MOA is resonating within the ranks of the CPLA, Humiding said, adding, “lumalabas na may mga hinaing tayo, may mga frustrations and we are wondering if the government we are talking to is still listening to us.”

Humiding admitted there are lapses in the signed MOA but said the CPLA is not to be blamed for these, saying, “along the way may mag pagkakamali sa peace partners natin.”

Even the infrastructure components of the MOA, particularly the Pamana program needs rethinking, Humiding said as “a policy direction is needed in the implementation of the MOA.”

The CPLA received P242 million to fund various projects all over the region as part of the Pamana program.

The CPLA broke ranks with the CPP-NPA in 1986 and has since joined government forces in fighting rebels in the Cordillera. 

Through the years, the CPLA further splintered into several other factions, one of which was that of Humiding’s which inked an agreement with government while other factions wanted to remain as such.


Bontoc sets programs for dumpsite closure, rehab

By Francis B. Degay

BONTOC, Mountain ProvinceThe local government is now finalizing programs in preparation for closure of the open dumpsite here at SitioMatoytoy-ok, Barangay Caluttit after consultations were conducted.

This, after the Court of Appeals issued a notice of judgment (CA G.R.-S.P. No. 00016) on Feb. 22 for closure and rehabilitation of the dumpsite within six months starting Aug. 22.

Mayor Franklin Odsey earlier reorganized the Bontoc municipal ecological solid waste management council to tackle the issue.

The punong barangay of Caluttit, Bontoc Ili, Poblacion and Samoki already conducted meetings with stakeholders in their respective areas.

The open dumpsite is where the wastes of the 4 Bontoc central barangays (Caluttit, Poblacion, Samoki and Bontoc Ili) were dumped daily since the past years.

According to Roger Agcapen of the Bontoc municipal solid waste management board, the volume of daily wastes being collected and dumped in the open dump site is about 1.5 tons.

In an interview with Bontoc Ili punong barangay Alexander Fana-ang, he said that more than 190 representatives from organizations and sitios including the academe and storeowners attended the meeting last July 15.

The participants vowed to segregate their wastes at source.

Majority of them also agreed to penalize a person or member of a household with P500.00 every offense if found that they didn’t properly segregate waste or was caught disposing waste in undesignated places including community service in the succeeding offenses.

Participants vowed to assist barangay officials in dissemination of the result of the said meetings.  

Another proposed plan bared by Fana-ang was that they will bargain with buyers of recyclables or reusable wastes to include getting other waste materials that are not saleable as part of the trade package.     

Jimmy Cherwaken and John Engngeg, punong barangay of Caluttit and Samoki respectively, said segregation of wastes should be done per sitio.

In Barangay Caluttit, the thrash bin or container of every household shall be assigned with a corresponding number.

If the container doesn’t contain the proper segregation, then the barangay officials or green police can call attention of the source of waste or return immediately the container to the source.   

Paula Acofo of the Bontoc market vendors association (BOMARVA) shared her observations that ambulant vendors who come to Bontoc dispose off their waste at the Chico River bank.

She said they should be monitored and penalized, too.

All private and public schools within the Bontoc central district have also joined the municipal government in its waste management program.

As part of the waste rehabilitation program, the municipal government shall train and organize green police to assist the barangay officials in the implementation of waste management program in the barangay level. 

In an interview with Odsey, he bared that the closure and rehabilitation program plan prepared by the Bontoc municipal engineering office entails about P3.3 million.   


Train system pushed in Baguio to lessen traffic

BAGUIO CITY – Residents may soon have comfortable means of transportation here following a proposal to create a train system.    

Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejojas ordered the Cordillera office of the Department of Science and Technology to fastrack studies to find out the feasibility of putting up a monorail or trolley train in the country’s summer capital to preserveo the city’s cool weather.
Dr. Julius Caesar Sicat, DOST-Cordillera Administrative Region director, met with Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan and other city officials to relay the agency’s plan to establish either a monorail or trolley train which will be an environment-friendly mode of transport that will help the national and local governments reduce pollution of the city’s air through the bad smoke emitted by the rapidly increasing number of motor vehicles.
“The monorail or trolley train in Baguio City is one of the major priority projects of Secretary Montejo to help boost the growth of the local tourism industry and effectively and efficiently address air pollution,” Sicat told Domogan.
Domogan expressed gratitude to Montejo and the DOST-CAR for exerting effort to help the local government in finding solutions on attracting more foreign and domestic tourists while addressing problems on traffic congestions and air pollution that are now besetting the city because of rapid urbanization.
“We will extend to DOST the needed assistance so that the required studies will be completed the soonest so that the appropriate financial and technical requirements could be given utmost attention,” Domogan said.

He added there were initial plants to put up a monorail around Burnham Park which forms part of the overall plant to develop the Baguio Athletic bowl but the same will take a longer time to be realized because of the tedious process involved in the finalization of the plans.
Because of the urgency of completing the feasibility study for the monorail or trolley train project in the city, Domogan instructed Engr. Leo C. Bernardez, Jr., city engineer, to be the representative of the city government to deal with DOST experts in the conduct and eventual completion of the project’s technical component that will be submitted to the DOST central office for the sourcing out of the funds to implement the same.
Sicat assured city officials and residents that the agency will embark on mass-based consultations so that all issues and concerns regarding the project will be addressed before its implementation.

“We thank President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and Secretary Montejo for giving priority to Baguio city6 as the place to build the monorail or trolley train because the realization of the project will surely boost the growth of the city’s tourism industry that will translate to increased employment opportunities and sources of livelihood for the people in the future,” Domogan said, citing that the monorail will also serve as one of the mass transport system in the city that will be one of the solutions to the worsening traffic problems.


Taiwanese conducting illegal black sand mining on islands

By Charlie Lagasca

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Even the fragile islands in the Babuyan Channel along the country’s northernmost coast are not spared from black sand mining.

This, as an environmental group reported that clandestine black sand mining is also being conducted in the Babuyan group of islands, especially along the coastline of Camiguin island in Cagayan.

Citing reports from local communities, the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists Inc. said two big Taiwanese vessels have been alternating in going to Camiguin to siphon off black sand along the coastline using huge and extended hoses.

The Babuyan group of islands in northernmost Luzon consists of four other major islands – Calayan, Dalupiri and Fuga, all in Cagayan, and Babuyan in Batanes Strait.   

Black sand or magnetite, also found on the coastlines of Ilocos and Zambales, commands a high price in foreign markets, as it is used as additive in manufacturing concrete and steel products, magnets, paint, ink, paper, jewelry, and cosmetics.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the region said it has not issued any permits for black sand mining or quarrying especially on the islands. 

“Besides, mining is prohibited on islands as it poses danger to the islanders as well to the marine ecosystem,” said Mario Ancheta, MGB-Cagayan Valley director.

Ancheta though admitted that they had received reports of Chinese vessels frequenting the area before “but they were no longer seen along the coastline.”   
Earlier this month, the MGB-Cagayan Valley ordered two mining firms – Land Wealth Resources Inc. and Lian Xing Philippines Curving Corp. – to stop their black sand mining operations in Cagayan due to environmental violations.

The two firms, Ancheta said, were found operating beyond their respective areas or within the prohibited or protected zone to extract black sand. 

Land Wealth, a Filipino-owned firm, and Lian Xing, said to be Chinese-Taiwanese-owned, reportedly extended their operations along the coast of Barangay Caraoan in Gonzaga town, outside the MGB-authorized mining areas.


BSU foresters surpass license exam pass rate

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Fifteen Benguet State University graduates of Bachelor of Science in Forestry passed the Licensure Examination for Foresters by the Professional Regulation Commission.

They are Albi Franz C. Bagawi, Bernard O. Bawing, Divina S. Calpasi, Jordan L. Canuto, Fely W. Ebes, Emilyn D. Evasco, Jackson B. Guevarra, Dorina S. Kipa-en, Mendil T. Palista, Shiela B. Ramirez, Joval C. Sangcaan, Malou N. Santong, Andy T. Sarac, Felix D. Sigue and Alma Jezrel B. Taligan.

These graduates listed a passing rate of 38.46% surpassing the national passing rate of 29.62%.

This is the 4th time from 1995 to 2013 that BS in Forestry graduates has surpassed the licensure exam national passing rates.

College of Forestry dean, Dr. Vicente T. Wacangan attributed this year’s results to the one-month Summer Group Review of the college. Starting the 2nd semester SY 2013-1014, the college will offer Audit Course I and II for the 4th years in compliance with CHED’s required amalgamation review.

The dean reported an average 5% increase of students at the College of Forestry for the past few years. Freshmen classes have increased from two to three sections.

A study conducted among BS in Forestry graduates from 2007 to 2012 showed an employment rate of 91.58%. Most of the graduates who are respondents of the tracer study are employed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Bamboo Foundation and Cordillera Green Network. A forestry graduate is expected to be knowledgeable in GPS (Ground Positioning System), timber inventory and bio-diversity assessment.

“There is a very high demand for foresters because of the implementation of the National Greening Program under the DENR,” said Dr. Wacangan. He added that while Filipinos keep on planting trees, there is still a felt inadequacy in maintenance and protection.

In 2004, the DENR reported that the Philippines only have 7.2M hectares forest cover against its total land area of 38M hectares. In the 1700, the Philippines was recorded to have 27M hectares forest cover. -- Jen L. Sabado-Tabangcura


La Union slay suspect falls after another heist

BAUANG, La Union – A man suspected of robbing and killing with 68 stab wounds a female employee of a cable television company here July 20 was caught after robbing another woman who owns a neighborhood store that same day. 

Vice Mayor Bonifacio Malinao said suspect, Julius Federico, was cornered by residents after he ransacked a mini-grocery store.

Federico earlier had robbed and killed Michelle Cabading, 29, customers’ service officer of Umili Cable TV. 

Malinao, quoting the police investigation, said Cabading suffered a total of 68 stab wounds in different parts of the body, as she apparently “fought for her life.”

Investigation showed that Federico barged into the cable TV company’s office at the second floor of the RBBI building in Central East at around 3 p.m. that day. 

The crime was discovered barely 30 minutes after Danilo Hidalgo, the cable TV firm’s technician, went inside their office and found Cabading bloodied on the floor. 

Malinao said Federico initially owned up to the crime but in the succeeding interrogation, said he could not recall what he had done because he was drunk.

Malinao said police have three witnesses who tagged Federico as Cabading’s attacker.

Malinao said the municipal government has put a P80,000 reward – P30,000 from him and P50,000 from Mayor Martin de Guzman to help solve the crime.


Philex allots P74M for Padcal social projects

By TotengTanglao

TUBA, Benguet -- Philex Mining Corp. has a 2013 budget of P74.04 million for Padcal operations’ social projects, information campaign, and research to further develop the mining industry—as approved by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The amount set aside for this year was actually P65.79 million, but an additional P8.25 million was carried over from the previous year, according to a July 3 report submitted by Libby Ricafort, vice president at Philex Mining and resident manager of Padcal, to MGB.

The actual budget is already more than 1.5 percent of the total operating cost of P4.38 billion for 2012, as required by government regulation, according to Philex Mining’s 2013 Annual Social Development and Management Program (ASDMP).

Philex Mining officials said Padcal has adhered to its obligations with regard to the annual allotment of funds for SDMP, Information and Education Campaign (IEC), and Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG).

“This is part of our culture of responsible mining, as we have continued helping in the development of our host-towns—and even outlying communities,” Michael Toledo, senior vice president for Corporate Affairs at Philex Mining, said.

The SDMP projects comprise 75 percent or P49.34 million of the 2013 ASDMP amounting to P65,788,910.00. This year’s total SDMP budget has been placed at P56.1 million, however, including the P6.76 million carried over from 2012.

The biggest chunk of the SDMP fund has been set aside for livelihood activities at about P34 million (including the P5.3 million carried over from the previous year), followed by education at P17.07 million (including P1.46 million from 2012), and healthcare at P5.07 million.

Fifteen percent of the ASDMP budget goes to IEC programs while 10 percent is for DMTG programs, which include research, trainings for industry professionals, and seminars on the development of the sector.

In his report to Fay Apil, OIC-regional director of MGB-Cordillera Administrative Region, Mr. RicafortsaidPhilex Mining spent about P1.93 million for the first quarter of the year for its various social programs, including infrastructure projects.

Feliciano Diso, Jr., manager for Community Relations at Padcal Mines, said his team conducts regular forums with local-government representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders on the implementation of SDMP projects.

The 2013 ASDMP stressed, “Generally, Philex Mining Corporation aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of the host- and neighboring communities by ensuring their maximum participation in implementing and sustaining community development programs.” 


Baguio officials relocate disputed Irisan trash site

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government relocated its ballyhooed waste transfer station from its temporary site at the Irisan Limekiln to another site last week even as negotiations for a more permanent location are on.
General Services Officer Romeo Concio said they made sure that the wastes were removed leaving no remnants and the site was flattened and sufficiently covered with soil. 
He said the city now utilizes a private lot also in Irisan as a “very temporary” garbage transfer and sorting station as the city continues to negotiate for another site which it can occupy for a longer time.
Concio said simultaneous arrangements are being made for two possible locations in La Trinidad and Marcos Highway and the city will go for whichever deal materializes first and which can offer longer tenure.
He said the city is eyeing a site which it can occupy for one to two years in anticipation of the implementation of the waste-to-energy technology currently undergoing review by the National Solid Waste Management Council (NSWMC)

He said arrangements are also being made for the hauler to shoulder the cost of renting and maintaining the site.

The present temporary site is relatively far from the Philippine Science High School Cordillera (PSHS) area.

The city council urged Concio to remove the staging area from the PSHS site as soon as possible to avert health hazard and inconvenience being inflicted on the school population.

In other separate actions, the body also sought an investigation of the quarrying activities near the PSHS area and the immediate concreting of the road leading to the school. 


Ex-cop in slay of former Kalinga vice gov nabbed

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Police arrested a retired policeman tagged as one of the suspects in the 2007 killing of former Kalinga vice governor Rommel Diasen in a police operations in Metro Manila early this week.

Retired policeman Angelito Eyadan Dangli, 68, is currently under the custody of the Tabuk City police after he was arrested in a fast food restaurant in Quezon City.

Diasen, 58, who was running for governor under the  Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), was shot dead while campaigning in here in April 2007.

Another suspect in the killing identified as Joel Melod, 24, of Kalinga, then surrendered to the Baguio City police and reportedly admitted his participation in the crime.

Melod reportedly told police that the murder of Diasen was to avenge the killing of his uncle, then Kalinga Judge Milnar Lammawin, in 2004.

Nothing has since been heard about Melod until the reported arrest of Dangli this week. 

Dangli was arrested in an entrapment at a popular food chain in Cubao, Quezon City, the top police official in Cordillera confirmed Monday.

Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera regional police director, said Dangli,  a resident of San Pedro, Laguna, was arrested last July 18.

He will face trial for murder before Judge Marcelino K. Wacas of Regional Trial Court Branch 25 over the fatal shooting of Diasan in Tabuk, Kalinga on April 7, 2007.


PDEA busts village official, four others

By Freddie G. Lazaro

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- A village councilman and four others were arrested by a team of police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives in separate buy-bust operations in Isabela and Cagayan provinces, recently.

PDEA Region 2 director Juvenal Azurin reported the arrest of Barangay Kagawad Joel Martinez in the village of Magleticia in Echague, Isabela.

“Martinez is a priority target list drug pusher,” said Azurin. “Our troops recovered in his possession the two plastic sachets of crystalline substance believed to be shabu,” he added.

Martinez’s arrest comes two days after PDEA, backed up by police in Cagayan, arrested Greg Neil R. Farin, one of the target list drug pushers in a buy-bust operation on Old Centro Provincial Road, Barangay Centro West, Ballesteros municipality.

Arrested along with Farin was his alleged cohort Nino Gunio, who also yielded five sachets of suspected “shabu.”

“In a follow-up operation, another 15 sachets of shabu was confiscated from the residence of Danny Consol,” said Azurin of the 48-year-old businessman who was earlier arrested in Barangay Caprintero, Tuamuini, Isabela.


Mayor pushes proper use of power charges

BAUKO, Mountain Province – Mayor Abraham B. Akilit urged officials of the National Water Resources Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Energy and the Private Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) to formulate rules on effective and efficient utilization of the environment charge incorporated in power bills of consumers so it will include funding of projects to preserve and protect the watersheds.

“We are now in the process of finalizing our municipal annual investment plan that prioritizes the initial fencing of around 600 hectares of the Mount Data National Park but our available resources are not enough to fully implement the fencing project,” Akilit told the Manila Standard, adding that concerned national government agencies must allow the use of the environment charge being collected from power consumers for the implementation of notable projects to protect the watersheds.
Mount Data National Park is the headwaters of the four major river systems, particularly Chico, Agno, Abra and Magat rivers, that spill over to the lowlands, thus, thousands of people are now benefitting from the water from the watershed.
Akilit commended the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for allocating around P250,000 for the fencing of a portion of the watershed which is now protected from the encroachment of farmers, thus, the total fencing of the portion of the watershed that is situated in the town’s area of jurisdiction.
According to him, reforestation activities must not only be confined to the perimeter of the hydroelectric dams but also the upland watersheds that serve as the headwaters of the different systems.
Akilit explained more reforestation projects must be given to communities hosting the watersheds to provide them adequate sources of livelihood so that they will not be forced to destroy and willfully cut the planted trees which would greatly affect the sources of water in the future.
“We need to immediately fence the metes and bounds of the watershed within the municipality’s area of jurisdiction to prevent further encroachments,” he said, claiming that the municipal government is also embarking on a sustainable reforestation program that will guarantee the preservation and protection of the remaining forested areas and expand the same to guarantee continuous water supply for the river systems which will be used for industrial, domestic, agricultural and irrigation purposes.
Akilit expressed his gratitude to most of his constituents for supporting his advocacy on the preservation and protection of the watershed for the benefit of the present and future generations as they already started practicing organic farming instead of the chemical-based farming that poses a serious threat to the state of the environment.

In order to prevent the people from damaging the watershed, the local chief executive asserted the need for concerned government agencies to pool their resources and fund the implementation of various programs and projects that will provide sustainable sources of livelihood for the local residents.


Big marijuana plantation in Benguet raided

KIBUNGAN, Benguet -- Authorities raided again dawn Monday a huge marijuana plantation in this remote town.

The marijuana plantation with a land area of 1,020 square meters valued at P3,191 million was located at sitios Guinawang and Kup-utan between the boundaries of barangays Tacadang and Badeo.

The plantation with about 4,080 fully grown marijuana plants  and 19 kilos of dried marijuana stalks were torched on site by Kibungan town policemen and only brought samples for evidence though no one cultivator was arrested



Gun-for-hire nabbed in Abra
BANGUED, Abra – A “gun-for-hire” wanted for murder and several shootings in this province was arrested July 23 here.

A police report said John Jayson P. Millare, 26 of Barangay Lingtan was arrested by Senior Insp. Nicomedes Angel Olarte III along the junction of Sitio Ambiatriz, Barangay Pagala, Bucay town.

Investigation conducted by Bucay police disclosed the suspect fired his firearm and escaped on board a tricycle prompting police to set up a checkpoint at the said place and flagged down said tricycle.

The suspect was frisked and found in possession of a Cal. 9 mm handgun loaded with three bullets.

Millare is now in jail at the Bucay police station while charges were being prepared against him.

Police said Millare has standing warrants of arrest for murder and frustrated murder both issued by Judge Corpus Alzate.

Millare was ranked No. 2 top most wanted person in Abra.
Millare was the suspect in the shooting to death of one Ronnie Barbosa and wounding of four other persons on Sept. 21, 2008 in Tupengs Panciteria at Zone 1, Bangued.

The suspect was arrested following a call from a concerned citizen after he fired his gun then tried to escape with his tricycle.

Suspects in series of Baguio taxi heists fall
BAGUIO CITY -- Police on Wednesday arrested two men suspected of having involvement in at least eight armed robberies in Baguio City.

Senior Supt. Jesus Cambay Jr., Baguio City police director, identified the suspects as Reynaldo Tabanao Ramos alias “Rey/Negro” and Mark Joseph Fernandez Manaois, alias  “Patog/Macmac”, 20, both residents of Binmaley, Pangasinan.

Cambay said that the two are suspects in a series of taxi robberies and house break-ins in the city.

He said that the most prominent case where the suspects are involved in is the robbery-slay of 55-year-old Salvador Sab-it, known around the city as a very amiable and jolly cab driver.

Cambay said that they have evidences against the two suspects. Charges are being prepared against them, he added.

Wife dead; husband, kids hurt as van falls off cliff
BONTOC, Mountain Province – A 40-year-old woman was killed while her husband and two children were injured when their van fell from a cliff in Bontoc, Mountain Province July 19.

Novie Bongengngeng, of Barangay Aguid, Sagada, died on the spot while her husband, Joseph, 40, and children – Ariza, three; and Alex, one – were taken to a hospital for treatment.

SPO1 Jessie Lopez said Joseph was driving the van when its front tire exploded, causing him to lose control of the wheel.

Reports said the family was on their way home from Baguio City when the incident happened in Sitio Mogaw, Alab Proper, at past noon.

Nine wanted men in Cordillera arrested
CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Police arrested the No. 4 top most wanted person in the region while eight others were also arrested in different parts of the region last week.

Police Chief Supt. Benjamin B. Magalong, regional police director the suspect as Conrado Ampoy Gudaden alias “Condring”, 57, and a resident of Sitio Cabacab, Balili, Mankayan, Benguet.

Judge Agapito K. Laoagan, Jr. of the Regional trial Court (RTC) Branch 64 in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet issued his warrant of arrest for kidnapping.

Joint personnel of the PNP-Intelligence Group, Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU-14), Mankayan and Buguias Municipal Police Stations (MPS) and Benguet Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) arrested the suspect at his residence.

Eight other wanted persons were also nabbed in their respective residences.

Two were arrested for robbery identified as Jimmy Ballong Batang-ay, and Hitler Atumpa Ballong, both of Nambaran, Tabuk City, Kalinga.

Both were arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Felipe Jesus Torio II of the RTC Branch 22, Cabagan, Isabela.

Another two individuals were arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Iluminada Cabato.

They were identified as Wilson Casagan Mondejar, 41, and a resident of San Narciso, Zambales charge for the crime of 2 counts of RA 7610 known as The Special Protection Against Child Abuse and 5 counts of Acts of Lasciviousness and Perry Claro Castulo, 43, Bombo Radio employee, and a resident of Lourdes Subdivision, Baguio City who was arrested for violation of RA 9262 also known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women and their children (VAWC).

Four individuals were arrested for estafa.   They were identified as Maritess Felipe Dupingay, 30, and a resident of Delos Reyes St, Outlook Drive, Baguio City; Joe Reauno Verzosa, 34, and a resident of San Antonio Village, Baguio City; Lagmayan E. Malinga, 39, and a resident of Antamok Tram, Ucab, Itogon, Benguet and Rosely Dukitan Ramos, 30, and a resident of Brgy Turod Luna, Apayao.

All arrested persons are now under the custody of the municipal police stations concerned prior to their turn-over to the issuing courts for proper disposition except Dupingay, Verzosa, Malinga and Castulo who were later released after posting their respective bail bonds.

2 nabbed in Tayum, Bontoc for illegal guns
CAMP BADO DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Two men were nabbed in the Cordillera last week for illegal possession of firearms.

In Abra, Tayum town cops arrested Jerry Bagorio Coloma, 39, married, tricycle driver at their resident in Sitio Palpal, Barangay Basbasa, Tayum, Abra on the evening of July 14, 2013.

Coloma was arrested when a text message from Andrew Credo, a resident of the same place informed police that the suspect was roaming around at their barangay carrying a firearm.

Upon arrival of the police at said place, the reportee (Andrew Credo) personally pinpointed the suspect who at that time was fixing a tricycle.

An inspection on the tricycle own by the suspect resulted to the recovery of a Cal. 30 M2 Carbine one magazine loaded with seven bullets.

Meanwhile,Hazim Gomer Kedawen Pangod, 26, married, Instructor at Xijen College, native of Demang, Sadanga, resident of Poblacion, Bontoc, Mountain Province, was arrested by Bontoc police  July 14.

Pangod was arrested on complaint of Romeo Agsisiyo Aladino, 54, carpenter, native of Tue, Tadian and presently residing at Poblacion, Bontoc who said the suspect entered their boarding house intoxicated and carrying a short firearm tucked on his back.

Recovered from the possession of the suspect was a Cal. 45 pistol with magazine loaded with four bullets.

Both suspects were brought to the respective police stations concerned for documentation and filing of appropriate charges against them for Illegal Possession of firearm and ammunition.

Girl dies after being bumped by Land Cruiser
ATOK, Benguet – Charges for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide were filed against the driver of a Toyota Land Cruiser pickup truck last week for bumping a 5-year-old girl which resulted to her death. 

A police report said the incident happened July 9 at km 58 Barangay Calasipan here when the truck driven by Efren Sapalong, 24 of Pulag, Gambang, Bakun town bumped Reigina Ventura Gante, 5, pre-sSchool student of Calasipan Elementary School, Atok.

Investigation disclosed the victim and his father were at the side of a road curve when the victim suddenly ran to the opposite side where her mother was waiting for them but was bumped by the  vehicle going up to Buguias.

The victim was rushed by her parents to Atok District Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

The driver was jailed while the vehicle was impounded by police.

Miner nabbed for stabbing three men
BAGUIO CITY – A miner is now in jail after stabbing three young men here July 8 at around 2:30 a.m. in front of Padis Point, Fernando G. Bautista Street.

Police identified victims as Israel Pullay, 18, student, of Upper Tabuk, Kalinga and Denver Degay, 22, both of Tabuk kalinga and residents here of Barangay Holy Ghost Extension and Bernardo Betao Jr.,  24, of Lubuagan, Kalinga and resident here of Barangay Honeymoon.

They were allegedly stabbed by Joel Bay-ong, 23, of Hingyon, Ifugao and resident here of Purok 5, Barangay Kias.

Investigation disclosed ,  the three victims were about to go home after coming from a drinking spree at the said bar when one of them had a verbal altercation with the suspect leading to a fistfight.

The two other victims tried to pacify but in doing so, the suspect swung his knife several times against the victims.

Pullay sustained multiple injuries on his body, Bernardo Betao was slashed on his right cheek and back of his head while Degay was slashed on his right hand and  below his right eye.

Responding police of Station 7 arrested the suspect while the knife six inches reportedly used in the incident was turned over to them by the bar security guard of the pub identified as Rex Licos Valdez.

The victims were brought to Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

Hooded men hold up Buguias gas station
BUGUIAS, Benguet – Two hooded men held up a gas station here on July 8 at around 5 a.m. and fled with P14,000 cash.
A police report said the gas refilling station was owned by Florante Astudillo located at Bad-ayan, Baculongan Sur.
Investigation disclosed the men held up gasoline attendant Harold Andayan, 19, a resident of Kapangan, Central Buguias.

The perpetrators, one of them armed with a shotgun reportedly fled on foot towards Central Buguias, Benguet. 

Cousins caught with P3.2M marijuana 
BAGUIO CITY – Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera seized more than P3.2 million worth of marijuana blocks about to be shipped.

A PDEA report said 47 kilos of marijuana were seized from a repeat offender and his cousin during a buy-bust operation here last week.

Ten large blocks of dried fruiting tops and nine oval or tubular packs of dried stalks wrapped and bound in a tan-colored packaging tape and placed in a sack bag and traveling bag were supposed to be shipped to the lowlands by cousins Kenneth Lagadeo, 28 and Melchor Lagadeo, 25.

The contraband was valued at P3,208,000.00.

PDEA-Cordillera spokesperson Emily Fama said Kenneth was a repeat drug law violator.

During the arrest, Lagadeo identified himself as Ardie Ramos.

The cousins, who are natives of a known lair of marijuana cultivators in Badeo, Kibungan, Benguet, were collared at around 4 a.m. in Barangay San Roque, where they sold the marijuana bricks to an undercover PDEA agent.

PDEA added that Kenneth was arrested on April 5, 2009 along with a certain Jerry Adiwang with 2,909.90 grams of dried marijuana fruiting tops in bricks.

The two were acquitted two years after and released.

Satur Dayao, a cousin of Kenneth and Melchor, had been convicted and sentenced to a life term on Dec. 12, 2011 for the same offense.

Meanwhile, anti-narcotics agents also busted two marijuana suppliers from Bakun town in Benguet.

Nabbed were Olibrum Canias, 30 and J-pee Pacuz, 19, residents of Sitio Barbarit, Barangay Bagu in Bakun.

They were caught selling four huge blocks of marijuana bricks weighing 17,293 grams.

Miner dies of poison gas inside Benguet tunnel
MANKAYAN, Benguet -- A miner was killed here after inhaling poisonous gas inside a mining tunnel in Sitio Bagwit, Barangay Suyoc July 12.

Police identified the victim as Sonny Cobcobo, 44, a resident of Barangay Guinaoang, Mankayan,

Investigation revealed a team of miners entered the tunnel that reeked of a strong odor which knocked Cobcobo unconscious.

This prompted them to come out and rush the victim to the Lutheran Hospital in Barangay Abatan, Buguias, Benguet, where he was declared dead on arrival. The type of poisonous gas is still under investigation.

Officials urge gun muzzling in Abra
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Local officials are calling for an extension to the mandatory muzzling of firearms of law enforcers in Abra to ensure that the peace enjoyed in the province during the midterm elections that culminated last May carries over until the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.

Abra politicians concurred to the proposal of Bangued Mayor Valera, which was endorsed by Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, that the move to secure guns from indiscriminate firing must be continued. Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Police Regional Office-Cordillera Administrative Region director, said Abra’s officials have shown solidarity in nurturing peace and order initiatives.

Benguet police seize illegal lumber
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet - The intensified campaign by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine National Police against the destruction of our few remaining forest product resulted to the confiscation of 1, 324 of board feet of illegal pine lumbers with a total market value of 38, 912.00.
Senior Supt. Rodlofo Jun Azurin, Benguet provincial police director several pine lumber were confiscated in separate places.
Ampucao, Itogon Benguet police and Philex Mines Corp. workers confiscated 414 board feet with a market value of P11,592 in Sitio Sedwing, Ampucao.
In Bokod town, 910 board feet valued at P27,320 were also confiscated at Sitio Taal, Jangjang, Ambuklao.
No suspects were arrested.

2 men held up in Apayao; P8K taken
KABUGAO, Apayao – A certain Jayson Enciso and a minor identified only as Austin, both residents of Barangay Lenneng here, are now the object of a police manhunt after they reportedly forcibly took P8,000 from two victims. 
A police report said the robbery happened 12:30 p.m. of July 12 along the national road, near the boundary of Kabugao-Conner towns in Barangay Lenneng, Kabugao.

Victims were identified as Mauricio Dulnuan, 33, miner, of Piiwan, Hungduan, Ifugao, now residing at Dipipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and Julius Guay, 35, also a miner, of Maggoc, Hungduan, Ifugao and now residing at Tukod, Cabaroguis, Quirino.

Investigation revealed that the victims were on board on  motorcycle on their way to Conner, Apayao when suddenly, suspects also boarded on a motorcycle chased them and blocked their way.

Enciso allegedly drew a handgun and pointed to the victims and declared a hold–up.

He then commanded his companion, a minor, to take the wallet of Dulnuan, containing P 8,000.00 and important documents.

Also taken from his pocker were unaccounted bills. from his pocket.

Suspects escaped towards Lenneng.

Drunkards jailed for not paying bar drinks  
BONTOC, Mountain Province – Two drunkards are now in jail here for failing to pay P1,2000 worth of drinks they incurred in a bar.

Police said the incident happened about 9:55 p.m.of July 13 at Plaza View Sing-Along, Engngeg Building, at the public market, Poblacion.

Investigation disclosed that Yankee Tabling Dao-angan, 25, construction worker, native of Bekigan, Sadanga town and his unidentified companion had a drinking spree at the establishment and tried to leave without paying their bills prompting the manager identified as Shirley Bagawi Gittabao, 18, of Poblacion. to call for police assistance.

The drunks reportedly created commotion and broke a bottle of beer and uttered unsavory words against  Gittabalo when she demanded payment.

Responding police apprehended the suspects.

Van falls down Bontoc road; driver injured
BONTOC, Mountain Province – The driver of a van was injured when he bumped his vehicle to an electric post causing it to fall down the road about 5:30 a.m. of July 14 along the national road at Sitio Bawi, Barangay Gonogon.

Police said the Pregio Kia van bearing plate number WDN- 444, was owned and driven by Justin Kitongan, aka Paksay, 31, small scale miner, resident of Fedilisan, Sagada town

His passenger was identified as Bernard Addogan, 27, helper, resident of Ambagiw, Besao town.
Investigation disclosed the dark blue van was on its way to Baguio City when the driver lost control of the steering wheel due to loose brake.

The driver sustained minor injuries and was brought to the Bontoc General Hospital for medical treatment while his passenger was unhurt.

The vehicle’s windshield was broken, its front left tire detached, while the axle was also broken.

Four hurt as van truck collide along Kennon 
TUBA, Benguet – A passenger van ascending towards Baguio City skidded, bumped pavement of the wet road then collided with  a Forward Truck descending towards La Union here about 3 p.m. on July 14along Kennon Road here at Sitio Tokang, Camp 3.

The passenger van was driven by Edgar De Guzman, 39, of Binalonan, Pangasinan, while the Forward truck was driven by Jerry Picpican, 39, of Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Four passengers of the van sustained injuries and were rushed to Baguio General Hospital for treatment.
They were identified as  Almar Valerio,  22, of 215 Military Cut Off, Baguio City; Realyn Iglisia,  17 of Inoman, Pozorrubio, Pangasinan; Angelita Estuesta, 22, of Engineers Hill, Baguio City and Japhet Calica, 19, of Sison, Pangasinan.
All injured passenger were discharged after treatment. The van incurred heavy damages on its front portion while the the truck was damaged on its left side.

Both drivers agreed to settle the case amicably. 

Officials push muzzling of firearms in Abra
BANGUED, Abra -- Local officials urged extension to the mandatory muzzling of firearms of law enforcers in Abra to ensure that  peace during the May elections carries over until the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.

Abra politicians concurred to the proposal of Bangued Mayor Valera, which was endorsed by Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, that the move to secure guns from indiscriminate firing must be continued.

Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, regional police chief  said Abra’s officials have shown solidarity in nurturing peace and order initiatives.


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