Sagada bonfire fest hit for marketing culture

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2014

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - Exasperated residents here from Poblacion Sagada through a petition, meetings, and social networking voiced their indignation over a bonfire fest here scheduled December 27 and 28  at Tangeb grounds "showcasing  Igorot tribal dancing and gong playing” among other issues.

In a recent gathering with residents from Dagdag,Demang and Patay barangays at the municipal hall presided by vice mayor Benjamin Capuyan, the heavily questioned marketing of culture as a come-on for the bonfire fest resulted to an agreement in consensus with local officials here that the cultural event be 'modified' and transferred somewhere else.

Along the course of the discussion, 'modified' cultural presentations meant the non-use of cultural attires- gateng and the wanes- and non-conduct of organized cultural group performance following the modification comment from Indigenous Peoples Representative to the Sangguniang Bayan Jaime Dugao.

Councilor  Eduardo Umaming said the endorsement of the SB to the cultural event instructed organizers the conduct of only ‘songs and dances' and non-performance  of rituals. 

Sealed in a formal agreement, said bonfire fest is organized by a travel agency, Manila-based Travel Factor; and the Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS)  with the local government unit of Sagada to raise funds for the  Ganduyan Bucks, a baseball team  composed of  Sagada  athletes who shall be joining the Philippine series come April  2015.

Organizers programmed  December 27 as music night and December 28 as the cultural event.

In said petition, elders Polat Busaing and Guitilen Capuyan forwarded that playing of gongs is prohibited during the scheduled event as gong playing ends after the December wedding celebrations.

Petition of nearly 200 residents of barangays Dagdag and Demang and in a joint barangay assembly demanded that the event be cancelled as it has not taken the consent of the people.

Barangay secretary Ceasar Soliba said there is no permit issued by Dagdag officials for the use of the Tangeb grounds.

Kim Ledesma, administrator of St Mary’s School said endorsements from barangay officials have not been secured by organizers; and besides the school does not allow the staging of the event in the school grounds due to the possibility of alcohol consumption.

Former SMS principal Evangeline Aguilan further said it is the policy of the school to stage cultural events only for educational purposes within any part of the school site.

Priest in charge Constancio Naoy of the Church of  St Mary the Virgin located within the Mission lot covering the school site commented that he received notice for the first night event only.

Celia Baldo, resident of and married to an iSagada said one major issue is the planning of groups outside of Sagada on events that happen and concern the town. 

Manila-based Travel Factor hired four Manila-based music bands who shall be performing during the bonfire fest  with tickets costing P350 and P250 each and tickets sold by the travel agency in Manila.

The  P350 ticket sales are designed to be given to Ganduyan athletes in support to their uniforms, equipment and expense while on Philippine Series games next year; and the P250 ticket sales for SAGGAS who shall be providing "free flowing coffee and wines" during the second night.  

Earlier before the opposition it was learned that  Ganduyan Bucks shall not get all of the P350 ticket proceeds as Ganduyan shall be handling the transportation of the music groups from Manila and their food while  in Sagada.

in said meeting at the municipal hall, Travel Factor representative and SAGGAS member Jurie Yodong said that  Ganduyan Bucks shall be getting all of the P350 ticket sales.

Though Aguilan commented that even without the conduct of the bonfire fund raising, Sagada has been supporting Ganduyan Bucks every year. 

Travel Factor markets the event in four packages- all-in package costing P4,300 covering two nights accommodation, bonfire pass, and transportation to and from Manila to Sagada and vice versa.

Other packages with activities including cave spelunking costing P4,950 to P5,400 per person are arranged in three inns-Churyaa, Gecko and Igorot Inn- as found in the. website of the travel agency.

A thousand persons are expected to join the bonfire-concert with some 500 tickets already sold out it was learned.

Yodong said talent fees, accommodation cost of musicians and sound system hire/cost are handled by Travel Factor.

Sangguniang Bayan tourism  committee chairman and councilor Dave Gulian said a municipal ordinance on the making intends to regulate travel tours and activities including cultural events conducted in Sagada. 

Meantime, business goes on as usual in this tourist town. Hotels and inns are booked during the yuletide season, restaurants are in full swing including souvenir shops and tourist guides are in demand during this heavy tourist arrival season come every December. This, as another issue posed in the use of  Tangeb grounds for the bonfire fest is that the site is a parking space during heavy tourist arrivals.

Very recently, it was learned from SAGGAS  that mayor Eduardo Latawan consented on the use of his lot for the bonfire venue near the road at sitio Mabbay located some two kilometers away from Tangeb.

Now on its 6th celebration, the bonfire activity held every December 28 solely organized by SAGGAS  then collected minimal fee for meals of participants and the event held with gong playing in mountain sites.


AFP, NPA urged: Leave Sagada, respect peace zone

>> Friday, December 19, 2014

SAGADA, Mountain Province – Officials of this tourist town condemned the Nov. 30 clash between the New People’s Army and government troops saying armed elements which included rebel and government military forces should leave Sagada as it was a peace zone.

The municipal council issued a statement against the incident but the NPA’s Leonardo Pacsi Command said in a statement said they ambushed the armed government soldiers as theArmed Forces of the Philippines implemented counterinsurgency Oplan Bayanihan program here.

Two government troopers of the 54th Infantry Battalion were killed while four were wounded in the clash at SitioPegew, Barangay Antadao.

Mayor  Eduardo Latawan and vice mayor  Benjamin Capuyan insinuated the NPAs should leave Sagada while councilor Jane Bawing and provincial board member Francis Tauli told the NPAs and their supporters to  get out from the town.  

Ka Magno Udyaw, spokesperson of the LPC– NPA said soldiers were in uniform and armed with high powered rifles when they left the Sagada Municipal Police Station, contrary to their claims that they were not.

“The ambush is part of our punishment to the 54th IB because of its human rights violations against the people of Cordillera.” said Udyaw.

 “To name a few, the continuous military operations and forcible entry in the houses of residents of Asipulo, Ifugao add up to their long list of crimes against the people. How can we forget the harassment and destruction of the irrigations here in Mt. Province?”

He added the 54th IB started the forest fires and encamped in schools at Aguid, Sagada while six high school students from Mainit, Sagada were beaten up by elements of the 54th IB in 2011.

“And because of their extensive pursuit for Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan Sr., Cordillera People’s Democratic Front spokesperson, their harassment to his father also caused his death,”Udyaw said.

“The 54th IB is also the culprit behind the deaths of William Bugatti, a staunch human rights worker, last March 25, 2014, Artus “KaLibre” TamangenTalastas from Lias, Barlig, Ronelio “Ka Renan” Balatines and Nardo “Ka Dose” Magnanang Gaong from Ankileng, Sagada last June 2 of the same year.”

Udyaw said the LPC-NPA can’t just stand by while military forces move around freely in Sagada and other towns of Mountain Province.

In an indignation rally held December 1 staged at the municipal grounds mostly attended by high school students of Sagada, former Sagada mayor Tom Killip said the youth should be reminded of the bloody incident in the late 1980s resulting to the death of three youth due to NPA-AFP clashes making the community to declare Sagada as a peace zone with no armed elements entering the town’s territory.

In the latest Nov. 30 clash, PFC Hanzel Onnon from Poblacion and PFC Osias Ing-ingan from Can-eo, both of Bontoc died while PFC Ian Mango, PFC Nathan Focasan, CPL Albert Paleyan and CPL William Agpawan were wounded in the ambush which lasted from 10:30 to 11 p.m. that night.

The soldiers came from a youth leadership training they delivered to high school students of Sagada.

A police report said the ambushed troops were led by Capt. Jefferson M. Somera.

Somera said that they were headed to their camp in Paracelis when they were fired upon by rebels.

Somera said the conduct of the leadership activity which was participated by about 75 youth leaders in the Cordillera was result of collaboration among the Philippine National Police, AFP, Sagada local government and National Youth Commission.

Somera said members of the AFP, PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have been invited as speakers.

Somera said members of the AFP were invited for the leadership youth summit.

He added the ambush site had a history of ambushes perpetrated by the NPA against the military.

As per Somera’s recount, they were fired upon even while they were trying to get away.

The fatalities were reportedly at the back of the second vehicle. The driver of the second vehicle, PFC Nathan Cade Listino Focasan was also hit but continued to drive until they reached Bontoc General Hospital. – With a report from Gina Dizon


Guard kills former town councilor, self

CABANATUAN CITY – A security guard shot dead a former municipal councilor in front of the victim’s wife before turning the gun on himself in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija Dec. 6.

Antonio de Sahagun, 60, and security guard Argie Basan died at the scene from gunshot wounds, said Senior Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director.

The victim was with his wife Anabella when the incident occurred near their house in Golden Meadows Subdivision in Barangay Castellano, where the suspect was assigned, said Chief Insp. Renato Morales, town police chief.

After killing De Sahagun, Basan reportedly pointed his gun, a Cal.38 revolver, at  Anabella and told her to run away.  

Morales said Basan pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger.

Case investigator Police Officer 3 Freddie Sevilla said an old grudge may be among the motives for the killing.

Probers recovered a gun believed used in the killing, two bullets and three bullet shells at the crime scene.


Vigan now one of New 7 World Wonder cities

By Mydz Supnad

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur  –This Heritage City of Vigan was declared Monday one of the New Seven Wonder Cities (N7WC) of the world by Bernard Weber, president of N7WC Foundation.

The announcement earned the cheers from government officials led by Gov. Ryan Singson and Mayor Eva Medina, former governor Chavit Singson residents and tourists who spent a night vigil Dec. 6 in front of the Vigan City hall to wait for the much awaited declaration.

According to Weber, the other cities declared in the N7WC were Beirut, Lebanon; Doha, Qatar; Durban, South Africa; Havana, Cuba; Kuala Kumpur, Malaysia; and La Paz, Bolivia.

A day before the selection, former governor Chavit rushed to Vigan to personally see the occasion being a native of Vigan.

The New 7 Wonders Cities Foundation is the same institution that named the underground river in Puerto Princesa City one of New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Fifteen years earlier, Vigan was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in December 1999, making Vigan as city like no  other.

Medina expressed gratitude to people all over the world who supported Vigan’s bid for the  N7WC, saying this was inspiring and a tribute to a people who has committed to achieve development and make wonderful things in their lives.

 Reports said the New7Wonders Cities campaign began in 2011 with more than 1,200 nominees from 220 different countries.

It was later narrowed down to 21 nominees, and later 14 finalists, until the seven cities were declared winners.


Red tide in Pangasinan: 1 dead, 25 hospitalized

By Eva Visperas and Liezle BasaInigo

BOLINAO, Pangasinan -- The mayor here has ordered a ban on the harvest, sale and consumption of all types of shellfish after a person died and 25 others were hospitalized when they ate  tahong (mussel) here as poisoning victims reached 33 last week in the province. 

Mayor Noli Celeste said he sent copies of the order to barangay captains and ordered the setting up of checkpoints to prevent the transport of shellfish to and from the town.  

He said the fatality was identified as Manilyn Conde, 20, a resident of Barangay IlogMalino. Those who became ill from suspected food poisoning were residents of Barangays Ilog Malino, Zaragoza, Lambes and Pilar. 

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources regional director Nestor Domenden said shellfish samples collected from the waters of Bolinao and Anda were found positive for red tide toxin.

Domenden said they also re-imposed the shellfish ban in Alaminos City, adding the ban has not been lifted in the towns of Bani, Anda and Bolinao.

In Lingayen, Pangasinan Domenden urged fishermen here to refrain from collecting and selling shellfish from the western coast of Pangasinan as food poisoning victims reached 33 last week.

Officially, there was no red tide alert raised as most recent water samples taken from the area were still being examined.

Domenden urged a ban on harvesting of seashells and small shrimps (alamang) from the waters off Alaminos City and the towns of Bolinao, Bani and Anda.

Provincial Health Officer Ana de Guzman warned one woman had died of suspected paralytic shellfish poisoning and Mayor Celeste of Bolinao had instructed police to set up checkpoints to stop any transport of shellfish in the area.


Mayor stops waste station due to residents’ opposition

BY Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the proposed waste transfer station at Camp 7 here will not push through due to opposition of residents, saying it was the contractor and not the city government that pinpointed the site.

The mayor said it was the GC Flores Construction that identified its own location at Camp 7 Kennon Road to comply with the city government’s requirement to provide its own waste transfer site, being the winning bidder for the city’s new waste hauling contract.

The provision of the transfer site was among requirements specified in terms of reference in bidding for city’s garbage hauling service. 

To qualify the site, the city also requires the contractor to submit an affidavit of no objection by the owners of the adjoining properties, endorsement from the barangay and a certification of non-coverage from the EMB.

Company owner Gamaliel Flores proposed his own property at Camp 7 along with a certification issued by Camp 7 punong barangay Constancio Danao that there was no objection to utilize the area for said purpose.

 However, Camp 7 residents expressed opposition to the use of Flores’ lot or any other lot in their barangay as waste transfer station due to health considerations.

The residents wrote the Environment Management Board Cordillera to express their objection and to dispute the certification issued by Danao saying they were not consulted by the barangay head.

In view of the opposition, the mayor said the company will not be allowed to take over the hauling service until it finds a suitable site.

The mayor said Flores assured he will look for another area suitable for the purpose and while this is being worked out, the city will continue to employ the services of the present hauler, M. A. Camilo Freight Services.

As this developed, the city council on Monday agreed to summon Flores along with representatives from the general services office, the city mayor’s office and the affected Camp 7 residents for a dialogue in its regular session on Dec. 15.

This is to clarify the issue surrounding the planned set up of the transfer station at Camp 7.


Senate commends nat’l artistF. Sionil Jose, son of Rosales

>> Thursday, December 18, 2014

By Yvonne Almirañez

ROSALES, Pangasinan -- The Senate today adopted Senate Resolution No. 1045, commending National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose for his distinguished contribution to literature and journalism.

Senate Resolution No. 1045, introduced by Sen. Loren Legarda, recognized Sionil Jose’s “artistic and literary genius, and his perseverance to instill national pride through the arts.”

Born in Rosales, Pangasinan, on Dec. 3, 1924, Sionil Jose is considered as one of the country’s most prominent writers in the English language, his works having been translated to twenty-two languages, including Czech, Indonesian, French, Korean, Russian, Latvian and Dutch.

He has received numerous accolades, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Pablo Neruda Award, Chevalier dansl’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for literature, among others.

He was bestowed the title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature in 2001.

“He has been an inspiration to several generations of writers and journalists through his essays, his role as a publisher, his lectures, his iconic bookshop, Solidaridad, and his founding of the Philippine chapter of the PEN, an international organization of poets, writers and novelists,” the Resolution said. 



>> Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad Benguet – A female cadre of the New People’s Army recently surrendered to police ending a life of hardship in the mountains after finding true love.

Cordillera police director ChiefSupt.IsaganiNerez, identified the surenderee as Priscilla Y. Silot Y Degiawe, 44, native of Lamag, Quirino, Ilocos Sur.

Priscilla reportedly joined the NPA November 2001 at Lamag and was assigned as  medical and finance officer of the Kilusang Larangang Guerrilla under the Jennifer Maria Carino Command operating in Quirino, Ilocos Sur area.

 She decided to join the underground because of the harassment she and the members of her family experienced alleged atrocities from military.    

During her stint with the group, she took several trainings and courses and conducted the same among the members of the rebel group.

She reportedly participated in the propaganda/mass work activities to strengthen and expand their mass base, particularly in places where support was dwindling.            

Since 2011, she left the group and sought refuge with her siblings because of health problem.

She reportedly communicated with her comrades but when she transferred to another place she lost communication with them.

Last year, she fell in love with a driver and they lived together where she worked as house helper in Daet, Camarines Norte where her relatives encouraged her to surrender.

Man wanted for drugs cornered
TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A man wanted for drugs was recently arrested here in Barangay Lacnog.

Provincial police director, Senior Supt. Victor Wanchakan, identified the suspect as   Bonny Maggongoy Wacnang, 39, farmer and resident of Lacnog.

He was nabbed by the joint personnel of the Regional Public Safety battalion, Tabuk City Police Office and members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.   

Cordillera PNP chief orders rigid security as Yuletide Season starts
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet – Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Isagani R. Nerez ordered police last week to enhance security operations before, during and after the observance of the traditional Yuletide Season in the region.

This, as influx of people is expected in shopping malls, churches, terminals and other public places.

Millions of catholic devotees are expected to attend the traditional simbang gabi which will start Dec. 16 while tourists, balikbayans, and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) will be coming to the country to visit tourist spots among other places and celebrate holidays with their families and friends.

Nerez said security operations were needed as criminals and other lawless elements may take advantage of this season to conduct their criminal activities.

He said police presence will be intensified through increased foot and mobile patrol operations and deployment of route safety marshalls.

Police assistance areas will also be established in places of convergence.

Nerez said police will intensify the campaign against loose firearms, illegal discharge of firearms, and campaign against  criminal gangs and personalities.

The public’s social responsibility and cooperation is very vital in preventing crime in the community, Nerez said.

He urged the the public to provide  police with relevant and timely information through social media (Twitter-@PNPCordillera or Facebook Page- ProProcor, or through the following numbers: Complaint Referral -094765880 / 09174297628; Regional Tactical Operation Center (074) 422-5515; 09175302679/ 09285591669.

PDEA seizes 40 kilos marijuana at Baguio transport terminal
BAGUIO CITY -- Authorities arrested a fruit vendor for yielding 44 bricks of dried marijuana leaves at a transport terminal here, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said  Wednesday.

PDEA director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. said that the dried marijuana leaves which weighed 41.475 kilograms was confiscated from Antonette Campiwer Churping, a native of Sadanga, Mountain Province and resident of Pinget, Baguio City.

Reports said last Dec.4, around 7 p.m., combined elements of PDEA Regional Office-Cordillera Administrative Region (PDEA RO-CAR) and the local police arrested Churping after she was caught transporting the marijuana bricks in a bus and jeepney terminal in Slaughter Compound, Barangay Sto. Niño, Baguio City.

"The seized illegal drug was neatly concealed inside a multi-colored nylon bag of assorted clothes, a box of ripe bananas and a sack of dried peanuts," Cacdac said.

A case for violation of Section 5 (Transportation of Dangerous Drugs), Article II of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, is now being prepared for filing before the Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office against Churping, who is now in the custody of PDEA RO-CAR.

Igorot cops bag Ilocos PNP awards
Four police officers from the Cordillera who are stationed in San Fernando, La Union were recently honored by no less than Retired Police Director General Ricardo De Leon for seizing the most coveted award by besting 16 others in the competition for the Best Regional Special Training Unit (RSTU) in the country for the year 2014.

Supt. Robert S. Daculan who heads the RSTU for Region 01 based at Camp Brig. General Oscar M. Florendo as Training Manager received the award in behalf of Region 01 and his team during simple rites that coincided with the 9th Founding Anniversary of the PNP Training Service at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Nov. 14.

The other team members and personnel of RSTU1 are SPO3 Hugh Reginald G. Coplat of Tadian, Mt. Province; SPO2 Christopher P. Nebrida of La Trinidad and Buguias, Benguet; and SPO1 Winston T. Litilit of Sabangan, Mt. Province.

Prior to his assignment as Training Manager of RSTU1, PSupt.Daculan was Section Chief of Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development (DHRDD), Team Leader of the National Investigation Unit of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMIT), Deputy CIDG Provincial Officer of Rizal Province, and Special Mobile Group Company Commander for the Police Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Special training units in all the 17 regions in the country are in charge of police training in Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Field Training Program (FTP), SCOUT, Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship Trainings. -  March Fianza

796 Cordillera cops promoted; UC, Cordillera PNP seal MOA
CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- A total of 796 police commissioned officers (PCO) and police non-commissioned officers (PNCO) were promoted to the next higher rank here last week.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez graced the activity together with command group, directorial staff, PNP officers among others.

Senior Supt. Joseph Adnol, chief RPHRDD said promotion was part of 2014 regular promotion program.

Nerez extended his congratulations to the newly promoted officers and expressed his thanks to their families and friends for all the support given to their loved ones. He urged them to continue seeking self and professional improvements.  

Another highlight of the program was the memorandum of agreement between University of Cordilleras (UC) represented by Dr. Ramon C. Cercado, UC president; Ariel Ninio Pumecha, dean, and regional police office represented by Nerez.

Both parties agreed to have criminology students of UC to have their on-the-job training program in police offices and provide training needed by  students. This agreement will begin on third trimester of 2014-2015 and  continue during terms when there are UC Criminology students qualified to undergo the OJT. 

Drug personality cornered in buy-bust 
BAGUIO CITY -- Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera Administrative Region arrested Tuesday night a drug personality six months after his acquittal from a drug case.

William Lina Ibarra, 43, of Middle Quezon Hill here,  was arrested at Happy Glen Loop, Barangay SaludMitra, when he reportedly sold 5.31 grams of shabu to a PDEA agent who acted as buyer.

Seized from Ibarra were seven sachets of shabu weighing19.09 grams worth P122,000, buy-bust money and several drug paraphernalia.

Ibarra reportedly tested positive for use of metamphetamine during the initial drug test.

Charges were filed against Ibarra for illegal drugs who is now under custody of PDEA.

Ibarra was earlier arrested \June 15, 2009 by PDEA agents but the case was dismissed on April 10, 2010.  He was again apprehended on March 2, 2011 by police but was acquired June 3, 2014.

Rebel couple surrenders
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Two alleged members of the New People’s Army surrendered to the authorities in Abra, police reported.

Robert Arciaga and his wife Rochelle told Abra police director Senior Supt. Albertito Garcia that they were tired of fighting and living in the mountains.

Authorities said Rochelle was a medical officer of the NPA’s Kilusang Gerilya.

Robert, who was said to be a member of militant group Anakbayan in Caloocan City, joined the underground movement in 2012.

He served as vice leader of the NPA “Lerio” team operating in Mountain Province until 2013. He later joined the NPA’s “Ambag” team.

Robert said he was trained in individual combat techniques and other rebel-related activities, but denied having participated in any atrocities committed by the rebels.

Garcia said the couple had no firearms when they surrendered.

The couple’s surrender was facilitated by Tubo Mayor Gilbert Ballangan and town police chief Inspector Rodolfo Tubadeza, said Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez.


P1.5-B biz hub in Ecija to generate 13,000 jobs

PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija — As many as 13,000 jobs is expected to be generated in this province once the construction of a P1.5-billion business hub, here, is realized, officials said yesterday.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Gov. Aurelio Matias Umali hailed Alloy MTD, headed by Malaysian chief executive officer Dato Azmil Khalili Bin Khalid and its president Isaac David, an engineer, for taking on the project which he described as another milestone for the province.

Alloy MTD is MTD Philippines, a subsidiary of big Malaysian conglomerate deals with real estate development and infrastructure.

“This company was also the one behind the construction of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Laguna Government Center in Calamba, Laguna.” Umali said.

David said these two buildings will be composed of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Company with the capacity of 2,500 seats for 24 hours of operations, a hotel with 74 rooms, multipurpose building allotted for commercial occupancy and government center.

The main building will be the provincial government building which will be occupied by national offices that are moving from Cabanatuan City to Palayan City.

This is part of consolidating all services, both national and local, in one location, to provide better service to the people.

The construction phase of the business hub will start in January, 2015 and is expected to be completed in 18-24 months.


GSIS policy holders to get cash benefit starting Dec 17

By Marge Jorillo  

State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) today announced that its qualified life insurance policyholders will receive their corresponding yearly cash benefits from December 17 to 22.

GSIS members whose compulsory and optional life insurance policies have been in force for at least one year as of 31 December 2013 are entitled to the payout.

“This year, we have included as additional beneficiaries, holders of compulsory life insurance policies that matured in 2013 and whose agencies were suspended as of 31 December 2013,” President and General Manager Robert Vergara said.

The GSIS, in an unprecedented move in July last year, restored the loan and dividend privileges of members working in suspended agencies.

However, GSIS members whose compulsory and optional life insurance policies lapsed in 2013 are ineligible to receive the benefit.

Compulsory life insurance policyholders whose policies were terminated due to death, retirement, or separation, as well as those with unpaid consolidated loans or premiums for at least 12 months as of 31 December 2013, are likewise excluded.

Optional life insurance policyholders whose policies were terminated due to death, maturity, or surrender in 2013 are similarly disqualified.

GSIS will automatically credit the benefits of qualified GSIS members to their GSIS eCard or unified multipurpose identification (UMID) card.

GSIS is allocating P915 million for the benefit payout to compulsory life insurance policyholders, while P42 million is allotted for optional life insurance policyholders.

In addition, the GSIS is set to distribute cash gifts to pensioners which starting Dec. 10.

For inquiries on the grant of cash benefit, members may call the GSIS contact center at 847-4747.


Noy appoints 11 new judges for Mt Prov, other regions

President Aquino has appointed 11 new judges for Mountain Province, Masbate and for the provinces in the Bicol region.

The judges’ appointment papers, dated Nov. 27 and signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., were submitted to the office of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno early last week.

Judges Jocelyn Pespes-Humiwat was appointed to the second municipal circuit trial court in Buko-Sabangan, Mountain Province; Jezebel Almodal-Espinosa to the third MCTC in San Fernando-Batuan, Masbate, and Joyce GaballoLlacer to the eighth MCTC in San Jacinto-Monreal, also in Masbate.

For the Bicol region, Annielyn Medes-Cabelis was appointed new judge of the Albay Regional Trial Court Branch 12 in Ligao City. 

For the region’s first level court, appointed were Joseph Raymond Borja in Legaspi City, Alfredo Arneil Ramos in Pio Duran, and Cesar Malazarte in RapuRapu, all in Albay; Marlon Bacuno in Camarines Norte; Ammelina Bernadette Corazon Palma-Crescini and Rebecca Obsequio Bagasala in Camarines Sur, and Carlo Martin Adille in Catanduanes.

The appointees were screened by the Judicial and Bar Council prior to their appointments.

The seven-man council, which is mandated to screen nominees for vacant posts in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman, is chaired by Sereno with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as ex-officio members.


300 Dagupan buildings eyed as tsunami shelters

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan — Around 300 high-rise buildings have been pinpointed as possible evacuation centers in case a tsunami hits the city.

Professor Nicanor Melecio, consultant of the city government and head of the Public Alert and Response Management Center, said these buildings will be evaluated by engineers and architects working closely with the city government.

Their task is to determine the structural stability of these buildings eyed as possible evacuation centers.

The city government will initiate a dialogue with owners of these structures in the hope of signing a memorandum of agreement with them to open their buildings and houses to evacuees in the event of a tsunami or high-intensity earthquake.

Earlier, experts revealed that a tsunami as high as eight meters may hit coastal areas of this province, particularly this city, in the event the Manila Trench that starts offshore of Bolinao town triggers a magnitude 8 earthquake.

Since this revelation by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Dagupan City government has strengthened its linkages with the agency and sought the conduct of a series of seminars that will equip city disaster risk reduction and management officials with more knowledge on how to save lives when a tsunami strikes.

Corollary to this, the mayor ordered Melecio to see what nearby municipalities the people of Dagupan can run to for safety since it would take only 14 minutes from the moment an undersea earthquake strikes before big waves hit the shores.


Baguio mayor: ‘Nullification of spurious CALTs proper’

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan said nullification of three Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) covering key areas in the city by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) was proper, adding these CALTs were issued irregularly. 

“We are glad that the NCIP nullified these titles and we hope that they will do the same with other areas in the city which are similarly situated (covered by spurious CALTs),” the mayor said.

The NCIP reportedly canceled CALTs 301, 302 and 303 covering tracts of land claimed by the heirs of Cosen Piraso particularly the the Casa Vallejo property along Upper Session Road, Josephine Abanag at Wright Park and Botanical Garden in Pacdal and Lauro Carantes at South Drive.

The same CALTs have been sought for annulment by the city government since 2009 as the lots covered are within forest and park reservations and therefore inalienable.

The city is also working with the NCIP and the Office of the Solicitor General for the cancellation of CALTs over Loakan Airport and the Dairy Farm at Green Valley.

The NCIP last August expressed readiness to cancel three of the five CALTs being questioned by the city after finding irregularities in them.

In its resolution voiding the three titles, the NCIP declared as missing the documents supporting the CALTs thus invalidating the same.

The NCIP move was assailed by ancestral land claimants who tagged the act as an orchestrated “effort to disenfranchise” them.

The mayor however said the annulment of the titles benefits the city because the titles were spurious right from the start and the lots needed to be preserved as forest reservations for the benefit of the people. 

He said the city will continue to respect ancestral land applications as long as these are legitimate Igorot claims qualified for disposition as ancestral land under existing laws.

He said what the city is opposing are bogus ancestral land claims that seek to undermine protected areas like the Forbes Park, Wright Park and other forested areas that put the interest of the city and its people in peril.

The mayor said legitimate claims are Igorot claims classified as alienable as ancestral land as per section 78 of Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.

The said section provides a special provision that the city of Baguio “shall remain to be governed by its Charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation shall remain as such until otherwise reclassified by appropriate legislation..” 

Section 78 also provides an exemption that “prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of this Act shall remain valid…” which means that Igorot claims recognized before November 1997, the date of IPRA implementation, are qualified as ancestral claims.

Among those recognized are Igorot ancestral claims screened under Special Administrative Order No. 31 and Dept. Administrative Order No. 02 issued by the Dept. and Environment and Natural Resources.

The mayor said all claims that fall under these circumstances are recognized by the city.


MP tax collection down; info campaign pressed

By Tcherwai A. Taguiba

BONTOC, Mountain Province – This province’s real property tax (RPT) collection rate is down prompting the provincial government through the provincial treasurer and assessor’s offices to hold information campaign on RPT for barangay officials.

This campaign was held at Bontoc multi-purpose hall Dec. 3 where assistance of barangay officials was sought enhance revenue collection.

Gov. Leonard  Mayaen said “taxation is the lifeblood of the government and whatever amount collected, no matter how small, will provide additional revenue not just for the barangay but also for the municipalities and the province.”

He told barangay officials not to look at the small amount of funds they receive from RPT but to concentrate on how they can use it.

Provincial assessor Marjorie Kiat-ong said cooperation of  barangay officials was needed as it is them who do legwork for verification of tax declarations aside from providing certifications.

Kiat-ong said proper verification must be done prior to providing certifications to prevent duplicate tax declarations which can cause problems in collection of RPT.

Provincial treasurer Cawed Gammonac said “no government can exist without tax,” adding, “development will stop if cooperation between the local government unit and barangay officials is absent.”

He urged barangay official not to rely on their share from the IRA but also to look into other opportunities to provide funding for their own barangays one of them being the strengthening of collections on RPT.

Gammonac said legal and judicial remedies for delinquency and non-payment of RPT could be done. But he said legal options should only be used only as last resort.

He added it is better that barangay officials reach out to affected residents and explain to them  importance of RPT collection.

Local revenue collection officer Gemma Teresita Fateg provided information and data regarding current RPT collection per municipality which was collected and compiled recently, and as of Sept. 30, no municipality was within target percentage rate for RPT collection efficiency with the highest percentage of uncollected taxes going to Paracelis at -79.08 percent and lowest percentage of uncollected RPT going to Sabangan at -31.22%.


4 injured as car rams checkpoint

PUGO, La Union – Four persons were injured including two police officers when a car crashed into a checkpoint here Dec. 5.

Senior Police Officers 1 RoelBriones and Napoleon Balungkas were rushed to a hospital along with Ian Jenet Santos and  Edgar Morales.

Case investigator SPO 1 Eduardo Larroya said Briones and Balungkas were accosting a motorist identified as Johnny Opilando when the car driven by Santos rammed the checkpoint in Barangay Aspiras.

Opilando, who was driving a motorcycle with Morales, was reportedly found carrying a Cal. 45 pistol.

He reportedly escaped leaving the gun behind.



Three motorcycle drivers killed in Cagayan mishap
SOLANA, Cagayan -- Three motorcycle riders were killed here last week when they were rammed by a Suzuki Vitara driven by Marcelino Balao, 32, of Tuguegarao City at Barangay Nangalisan.

The Tuesday collision killed Marcial Diaz, Steven Peña, and Bubut Agustin, all residents of Amulung, Cagayan.

SM Baguio employees give Christmas treat to street sweeper
BAGUIO CITY -- A street sweeper received an early Christmas gift as she was chosen by the SM Baguio employees to receive gifts in the annual share-a-joy even sponsored by mall workers.

Jacinta Buclig, 62, a widow, received gifts and cash amounting to P15,000 from the human resource Department, which collected voluntary contributions from workers.

Buclig, a park attendant (street sweeper) for 30 years, was surprised when mall employees visited her at the Children’s Playground of Burnham Park and treated her to a short musical program.

A mother who works to single-handedly raise and send four children to school, Buclig came to tears as she was given a tribute and told that she and her children have a free pass and lunch at SM Baguio.

“This is our fourth year. Instead of having a Christmas party, we decided to give joy to someone,” Karren Nobres, SM Baguio manager for information said.

This year’s theme of the project is “KriSMiles, United We Give.”

Blackouts hit Ilocos Sur
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – Power interruptions will hit several towns in Ilocos Sur Wednesday and Thursday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said.

The towns of San Ildefonso, Sto. Domingo, Magsingal, San Juan, Cabugao, Sinait and Bantay dad no power from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The outage was due to repairs at the substation of Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative  (ISECO) in Sto. Domingo.

Power interruptions affected the towns of Sta. Maria, Narvacan, Burgos, Nagbukel and Santa due to repair of ISECO’s substation in Narvacan. --  Ariel Tejada

MP gov’t workers told: enhance family planning 
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- – Some 75 employees of the provincial government underwent responsible parenting (indigenized – culture sensitive) and family planning seminar headed by the provincial population office here Dec. 5.

Provincial population officer Shirley A. Chiyawan said the seminar was aimed to empower families through responsible parenthood by making couples aware of their basic responsibilities as parents with the inclusion of culture. Chiyawan added that seminar aimed to educate participants on family planning method which allows couples to attain their desired number of children and determine spacing of pregnancies. 

On behalf of Gov. Leonard G.  Mayaen, provincial administrator Johny V. Lausan said responsible parenthood is being able to provide the physical, psychological, social, moral and spiritual needs of our children.  He added that children need both parents to create an atmosphere of security that will give them the confidence they need to give meaning to the world. “Providing a harmonious and healthy environment does not rest with only one parent, but is the outcome of a shared parenting task and responsible parenthood from both parents”, Lausan  said.

Dr. Imelda A. Sabog of Bontoc General Hospital said family planning enables couples to decide  number and spacing of their children based on decisions to achieve desired family size based on their social and economic capacity.

Among family planning methods discussed by Sabog were pills, oral contraceptives, injectablea, condom, billings ovulation, basal body temperature (BBT), sympto-thermal method, lactation amenorrhea method (LAM), standard day method, intrauterine device (IUD) insertion, vasectomy and bilateral tubal ligation (BTL).

Thomasa O. Sangayab lectured on responsible parenting with  culture plaing a major role like in teaching children values.  Pastor Patrick Fegckan discussed selfless love and service to people without expecting a reward in return. -- Alpine L. Killa

Baguio night workers join AIDS Day parade
BAGUIO CITY -- Hundreds of night workers in colorful costumes joined a parade, here, in commemoration of World AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Day last week.

The event, with the theme “Getting To Zero, Zero New Infection, Zero Discrimination, and Zero AIDS,” was also marked with a prayer and a releasing of doves by members the Baguio Association of Bar and Entertainers Society (BABES) during their program at the Baguio Convention Center, here. Health officials led by City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo graced the program.

PMA cadets visit historic Pangasinan
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — A total of 195 cadets from the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City recently toured this town to learn the vital role it played in history, particularly in World War (WWII). The tour is part of the PMA “Salaknib” Class of 2017’s Interdisciplinary Tour, during which they will visit provinces and towns in Luzon that played a vital role in WWII.

The cadets visited Pangasinan’s Veterans Park where the memoirs of the landing of Allied Forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to liberate Luzon Island from the Japanese occupation are displayed, and paid a courtesy call on Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. – himself, a PMA alumnus – who hosted their lunch. -- JojoRiñoza

DA packaging highland  veggies  for intl market
By Carlito Dar
BAGUIO CITY - - Ready to eat “Chopsuey” dish and processed “Sayote” byproduct and as meat extender readily available in groceries and supermarket and possibly in the international market.

These are just among the post-harvest processing products on Benguet vegetables that the Department of Agriculture is planning, as bared by DA Secretary Proseso Alcala in a press conference last week.

Alcala said that DA is set to implement the Philippine Rural Development Program, whose primary purpose is for farmers to maximize their income from their agricultural produce.

He disclosed the plan to process Benguet’s semi-temperate vegetables into chopsuey dish in ready-to-eat tetra-packs. He said there are already talks with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to include it  in their family packs for their relief operation in times of calamities or disasters.

Another Benguet agri-product the DA is looking into is the “Sayote”. According to the Secretary, the sayote has a very big potential in entering the international market as what seen in the supermarkets and groceries of Dubai and Abu-Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“We are looking into the market and processing of Sayote which is a very good meat-extender, whether on chicken, pork or beef,” Alcala said.

“At the end of the day, aside from the additional market that ASEAN Integration 2015 will bring, our population of 100 million is already a very big market so what we need to do is to increase the productivity of the farmers, improve the quality of their agricultural produce and look into other byproducts that we can process at the Agri-Pinoy Trading Center”, he said.

The Agri-Pinoy Trading Center in La Trinidad, Benguet  which is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2015, include a processing center  so that farmers from Benguet and even Mountain Province can maximize their income from their yields.

Alcala was on official visit here in Baguio and nearby La Trinidad last week for the anniversary of DA’s Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Program and for a site inspection and meeting with local partners and stakeholders of the P600 Million Agri-Pinoy Trading Center. (JDP/CCD – PIA CAR)

DTI pushes  cacao industry in Abra
BANGUED, Abra -- Efforts to level up the cacao cottage industry in Abra is being pushed by the Department of Trade and Industry to cope with ASEAN 2015.
DTI-Abra director Arell F. Banez,  regional coordinator for cacao industry promotion in the Cordillera, invited DTI cacao industry national coordinator Director Edwin Banquerigo  and Valente Turtur, Executive Officer of the CACAO Industry Development Association in Mindanao  to conduct training on cacao  development Nov. 19 – 21.

The training was attended by the cacao producers and processors from the provinces of Abra, Apayao and Kalinga.

The first day was forum on cacao investment promotion at Coopmart of the  Abra Diocesan Teachers and Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Bangued.

The second day was the hands-on training on production in Bucay where   cacao production is a cottage industry for many residents there.  They have been growing cacao and producing the popular tablea, a locally-produced chocolate out of cacao.

The third day was  planning workshop where the local producers planned activities to promote the industry and adopt it as their alternative livelihood on a commercial scale guided by the challenges of ASEAN 2015 to be able to cope with the demands of the world market.

Other municipalities in Abra are now involved in growing cacao to sustain this future industry in Abra. – Maria Teresa Benas

Kalinga agri extension  ‘worker wins national award  
PASIL, Kalinga --  An employee of Pasil Municipal Agriculturist Office won this year’s top award in the search for National Agriculture Extension Worker for Organic Agriculture Category by the Department of Agriculture.
Provincial rice program coordinator Joe Casibang reported Rowena Gunnay   bested other  55  national nominees  for the award which  recognizes excellent performance of agriculture extension workers under DA’s program in promoting organic farming in the country.

Gunnay received her trophy  and  P30,000 cash incentive  during the National Organic Agriculture Convention in Davao City, recently.

What made Gunnay won the prestigious award, according to Casibang, were her efforts in organizing, training and empowering upland farmers in Pasil on organic farming technology that boosted their production of Kalinga’s vaunted upland Unoy Rice.

Because of her efforts, Pasil Unoy farmers had increased and sustained their export of Kalinga’s pure organic upland Unoy Rice to the US. She maintains a library of all her works, which she shares as reference materials to farmers.    

Alternative organic farming technology advocates use of indigenous and natural inputs, which are proven environment-friendly and less cost in place of commercial inorganic implements, Casibang explained.

The technology applies in the production of rice, corn, high-value crops and adapted in the integrated farming system now practiced by many farmers in the province. 

In 2013, eleven agriculture extension workers from Kalinga had won national awards from DA.  – Larry Lopez

Ifugao PCPC trained on non-violent  discipline
LAMUT, Ifugao -- Twenty five members of the Provincial Council for the Protection of Children were trained last week for the promotion of positive discipline through non-violent communication.

The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office said CPC members, being lead implementors in children related laws, must realize that positive discipline through non-violent communication, and not the infliction of pain or fear work best.

Infusing non-violent communication helps children develop appropriate thinking and behavior; it guides them to develop their self-discipline and confidence in harmony with self and other, the PSWDO added.

Participants were oriented on   non-violent communication, its process and barriers; the Department of Education’s protection policy, Lagawe town’s ordinance on positive discipline, handling disclosure.

The second day was devoted  the simulation of the non-violent communication process by groups and planning for the council’s activity in terms of information advocacy for the promotion of  NVC province wide.

The 25 trained PCPC members will act as trainers and communicators on positive discipline or no corporal punishments in the society.

Based on PSWDO  reports, from January to June this year, three cases of child abuse were committed by teachers, 28 were sexually abused by various perpetrators and 12 are children in conflict with the law.  -- Marcelo Lihgawon

Kalinga is Cordillera’s bet in  nat’l rice achievers award
TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Kalinga province  is  once  again  Cordillera region’s entry to the 2014 National Rice Achiever’s Award of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-CAR.

Kalinga is the only province in the Cordillera Region that has posted positive growth rate in rice at 3.99%, according to Kalinga Rice Program Coordinator Joe Casibang.

DA holds annual search to promote the country’s rice industry as component under the National Food Sufficiency Program.

Winners in the annual search are given cash incentives to finance projects that enhance rice production growth.
For Kalinga, the P4 million cash incentive it received in 2012 was used for the improvement of the farm-market-road leading to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist’s (OPAG) demo-farm  while that for 2013  was  allocated for the planned construction of the farmers’ academy at the OPAG compound. – Larry Lopez

Six Ifugao schools vie for   nutritionally friendly school
LAGAWE,Ifugao -- Six schools in the province are vying for the 2014 search for Best Nutritionally Friendly School.
The search for BNFS is one of the local initiatives of the provincial government to ensure safe, nutritious snacks to pupils. It advocates for nutritious foods for Filipinos, and promotes the choice of selecting native delicacies with high nutritive value.

According to Provincial Nutrition Office,  contest aims to encourage school management help provide supplemental feeding to identified very low nutritional status as part of the process of the canteen.
Members of the PNC technical working group will be going to the different schools  from  December 1-8.  Three  of these  schools are for elementary category and three for central school category.

The criteria for the contest are : school canteen (nutrition) -  30 percent;  school garden – 40% and health and sanitation of the school -  30 percent. -- Marcelo Lihgawon

Kinuday Burger’’ wins  in Adivay cooking competition
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The Benguet people  showcased their innovativeness in  cooking their traditional smoked  meat  called “kinuday”  in the on-going Adivay Festival  with the “Kinuday Burger” setting its own identity.

The Department of Agriculture and Benguet Provincial Veterinary Office  awarded best in Kinuday cooking award to Mila Opino from Pipingew Women’s Association of La Trinidad, Benguet   for her  “Kinuday burger”   recently here at Wangal Sports Center here.

Other winners included Freddie Basilio  from TopdacMulti Purpose Cooperative in 2nd place,  Rebecca Noces  from Taloy Sur Farmers Association of Tuba, 3rd place, and Victoria Flores from Tawangan  Agrarian Reform Community Cooperative of Kabayan,  Benguet, 4th.

Meanwhile,  the top five awardees for the “Kinuday” making competition were the municipalities of Bokod, La Trinidad, Kabayan, Tuba and Atok.

The criteria for judging for the cooking competition were:  presentation (10%), Texture (10%) Flavor ( 10%) and taste 20 (%). In the kinuday making  contest,  criteria were  aroma ( 10 %), color (10 %), packing (20 %), and presentation  (10 %) . 

Dr. Ruben L. Cayad-an, Provincial Veterinarian  head,  said the  Kinuday cooking competition   was aimed to highlight the capability of Benguet people to showcase the native product of the province. It was  set to promote the product and to organize market outlet as a way to assist livestock backyard farmers in the province.

This year’s Kinuday making contest was co-sponsored by the Provincial Government of Benguet, and Solane Gas.  -- Sonny Cosme

Ilocos Norte’s Christmas celeb to highlight fourth “tupig” cookfest
LAOAG CITY -- Ilocanos will again pay homage to their traditional Christmas rice cake in line with PaskuaMiDitoy (This is how we celebrate Christmas), the province’s annual series of activities to celebrate the Holiday season, Dec. 13.

Dubbed as the “Fourth Solid North Tupig Cook-off”, the event aims to boost the market the native delicacy and preserve the culinary heritage. "Tupig" is a sticky rice cake which makes use of glutinous rice as base and is usually cooked over a coal fire. 

The traditional recipe includes seasoning the base with coconut gratins, butter, and molasses before it will be wrapped in a banana leaf.

Though the cooking process usually follows the recipe mentioned above, the cook-off aims to introduce flavor variations in making the said delicacy. Previous winning contingent from the town of Sarrat used “latik” or coconut meat and roasted peanut as toppings.

Other ingredients explored by previous contestants were cheese, “langka” (jackfruit) bits and a more surprising twist, the Ilocano black gold “gamet”, an expensive black seaweed which sporadically grows in the rocks and coral reefs along the shorelines of the town of Burgos.

Elaine Lubguban of the Communications and Media Office revealed that this year’s competition will be held beside Paseo de Paoay, a world-class multi-purpose commercial building beside the UNESCO heritage Paoay Church.  

Lubguban also said that there will be 14 contingents joining the competition which is composed of representatives from various local government units as well as tertiary and secondary schools in the province.

“What we’re trying to do is to restore the quality ingredients of the old heritage recipe and at the same time forge new pioneering recipes of fusion and less confusion,” said Governor Imee Marcos.

In Ilocos Norte, the said delicacy has evolved from a hearty dessert during Noche Buena (Christmas Eve meal) to a well-known all-year round street food and a popular “pasalubong” (take home). It has also become a livelihood particularly among women.— Grazielle Mae A. Sales

New roads changing lives for Ecija’s farming folk
PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija — Fifty-eight years after its declaration as a city, residents of 19 villages here can now enjoy a walk to their destination with the concreting of roads in 19 barangays that will serve 37,219 residents.

For as long as residents here can remember, they had to walk or motor through the rough road with difficulty. But not anymore, as Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas launched last week the P10.8-million concrete roads.

Cuevas said that for people in urban areas, a road concreting project is just an ordinary development, but for residents here, it means a shift from years of hardships.

“The local residents have suffered long enough waiting for the road networks to be connected. It has been a long wait. Now, they finally cross the road of all these barangays without having to worry about the bad road condition” said Cuevas. This city was declared as a city in the year 1956.

The 19 barangays that benefit from the project are agricultural areas with almost 4,000 hectares of the total land area devoted to farming, making it easier now for them to bring their products to the market.

Funding came from the 20 percent development fund that the city received as part of its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) in 2013 and from the cash award when the city was recognized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with a “Seal of Good Housekeeping” in 2012. --  Sheen Crisologo

Magat NIA Dam optimizes water power up north
San Mateo, Isabela — The Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (MARIIS) has launched what are said to pre-emptive measures to cope with climate change and the projected power crisis in the country next year.

After three decades of operation, NIA-MARIIS Dam in Ramon town irrigating 83,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela and Quirino Province, will soon undergo optimization works. The irrigation dam is located just after the Magat hydro-electric plant operated by SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP).

The MARIIS Reservoir Optimization Project (MROP) is a joint undertaking of the NIA and SNAP that aims to increase the storage capacity of the MARIIS reservoir.

“With the addition of another set of stop logs on the MARIIS Dam, it is expected to create an additional 8 million cubic meter-storage capacity for the MARIIS reservoir which certainly helps NIA store more water and makes both irrigation and power generation flexible,” said Atty. Michael Bon  Hosillos, SNAP Vice President for Corporate Services.

The project will include full automation using digital controls of the irrigation dam to ensure accurate water management fully funded by SNAP at no cost to the national government.

“With an expected average production of 100 cavans per hectare at 54 kilograms per bag at P19 sums up P1,026 a sack of palay that is equivalent to P102,600 per hectare,” said NIA-MARIIS operations manager Mariano Dancel.

While Dancel’s group was able to irrigate rice lands in Isabela including Santiago City and Quirino Province regularly covered by MARIIS, the agency has managed to come up with a number of diversion dams that can catch waste water from farms upstream.

“After painstaking years of thorough research we were able to construct seven mini diversion dams that could preserve waste water from creek tributaries that normally exit to the Cagayan River downstream but now being recycled and used to irrigate towns formerly deprived of farm water,” informs MARIIS engineering operations manager Wilfredo Gloria.

Recently inaugurated, the Patanad Diversion Dam in San Isidro, Isabela that tapS water from Patanad Creek was designed to irrigate some 200 hectares of farmlands in town.

With an area of 200 hectares it can irrigate, the diversion dam is expected to yield an average of 1,900 metric tons of Palay per cropping season benefiting 235 farmers from the village,” said MARIIS Division II Manager Pedro Dalawampu.

After irrigating 81,000 hectares of rice lands with an estimated production value of P8.3-billion from the rice harvests last cropping season in the Province of Isabela and the rest of the Cagayan Valley Region, NIA-MARIIS has announced the operation of a 45-kilowatt mini hydro power plant in San Mateo, Isabela.

“We don’t tap water just for irrigation, we also run mini hydro-electric plants that could generate power to maximize our resources in serving both our farmers and people in the countryside,” said NIA Administrator Florencio Padernal during a recent visit here. -- Ceasar M. Perante

Manang Imee’s Capitol Express supports farmers
LAOAG CITY -- A new initiative has been integrated in ManangImee’s Capitol Express (CapEx) this December  as the program continues to bring frontline services of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte more accessible to  Ilocanos.

‘Kadiwa (rolling stores) ni Manang Imee’, the name aptly given to the new program “aims to sell basic goods and food items much lower than the prevailing market rates,” said Mr. Edwin Cariño, head of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) office in the province.

The new initiative is led by Gov. Imee R. Marcos launched during CapEx in Pagudpud on Dec. 9.

 During the launching, the ‘Kadiwa ni Manang Imee’ sold grocery items, namely rice, noodles, sugar, sardines and coffee, as well as vegetables like squash, mango, papaya, among others.

“This ‘Kadiwa ni Manang Imee’ is an experiment, a project that we are launching here in Pagudpud because I have heard that existing market rates of grocery as well as food items here are high,” said Governor Imee R. Marcos.

She also added that the project “does not mean to break the businesses of the sellers in the public market but to support the local farmers and less-fortunate Ilocanos.”

“The grocery items are sourced out directly from the manufacturers so it is guaranteed that prices will be lower compared to the market ones while the vegetables are supplied by Ilocano farmers who are being supported by the provincial government,” noted Cariño.
“I am so grateful that I was able to purchase rice at the Kadiwa ni Manang Imee’ with its price lower than its market rate,” said Rolida Abendanio, 55, of Barangay Saud, Pagudpud.

Known as the ‘Kadiwa Project’ during the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, it was one of the noble projects of the former First Lady Imelda Marcos which sold basic goods and food items at lower prices to solve the rising prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, the provincial government started to distribute cash incentives during the CapEx on December 9 to the members of several communities in the province who rendered work during the Oplan Pakni of the provincial government.

“The OplanPakni is a cash for work program of Governor Imee for the people who were hard-hit by typhoon Mario and living on high dengue risk barangays of Ilocos Norte,” said Eric Pascua, head of Provincial Investment Office.

Oplan Pakni has employed a total of 1,473 workers from the different municipalities of Ilocos Norte and they were tasked to help in the cleaning brigade during the aftermath of typhoon Mario. “The OplanPakni aims to respond to the economic impact of the typhoon and to address sanitation issues due to debris and stagnant water,” Pascua added.

Manang Imee’s Capitol Express is set to visit the following municipalities and cities this December: Pagudpud (December 9), Badoc, Banna and Batac (December 10), San Nicolas, Dingras and Sarrat (December 11), Bacarra, Vintar, Tamdagan, Laoag City (December 12), Piddig (December 18) and Burgos  ­–J Michael Mugas


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