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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. told Iloilo 5th district Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. to keep off matters pertaining to Iloilo City.

 

Gonzalez reacted to Tupas’ exposé during the congressional hearing on the Balasan Boys issue on four police officers allegedly involved in the killing of PO2 Frederick Capasao two years ago.

 

Capasao was gunned down outside their home at Brgy. Jereos, LaPaz, Iloilo City by still unidentified suspects onboard a van.

 

During the March 6 congressional hearing at Sarabia Manor hotel, Tupas presented a confidential PNP intelligence report pointing to a police chief inspector and three other cops as having a hand in Capasao’s death.

 

Capasao was once assigned to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea-6) and was responsible for the arrest of an alleged drug lord in Iloilo City.

 

Gonzalez said Tupas has no right to intrude in matters pertaining to the city which is the former’s home and political bailiwick.

 

The DoJ chief said politics is the only motive of Tupas in releasing the intelligence report to the public.

 

“He (Tupas) can release any report he possesses but he should not intervene in the city’s affairs,” Gonzalez said.

 

Gonzalez has been tagged in the attempt to unseat Governor Niel Tupas Sr., Rep. Tupas’ father, January 2007. The justice secretary denied the accusation saying it was the Ombudsman that ordered Gov. Tupas’ removal from office for graft charges.

 

SAME GUN

 

Meanwhile, latest ballistic test results from the PNP Crime Laboratory show that the same gun may have been used to kill Capasao and Honda Cars-Iloilo service manager Rustico Vega January this year.

 

The report said slugs recovered from the Capasao and Vega slayings bore the same barrel grooves or markings.

 

Firearms have unique barrel grooves which become the signature of a particular gun, similar to human fingerprints.

 

The empty caliber .9mm bullet casings in both incidents also bore the same bolt or hammer marks, leading to the possibility that these were fired from the same gun, the ballistic report added.

 

The report bolstered assumptions that a gun-for-hire group is operating in Iloilo City.

 

Vega was shot in front of their office along Benigno Aquino Avenue (Diversion Road) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City last January 9. The case remains unsolved.

 

Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City police director, said he has tasked the intelligence section headed by Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong.

 

Mongcal said a group of intelligence officers are tracking down robbery-holdup and gun-for-hire groups in the city.

 

“The special task group even managed to foil an attempt to rob a business establishment in the city last Monday. We are giving special focus on these groups,” Mongcal said.

 

Amiyong earlier riled at reports that he is one of the cops involved in Capasao’s murder.

 

Amiyong challenged his detractors to prove the accusation saying he is willing to leave the PNP if there is solid evidence against him.

Amiyong twits solon on illegal drugs yarn

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE chief intelligence officer of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is willing to lose his job if his detractors can prove that he is peddling illegal drugs.

 

Chief Inspector Musa Amiyong, ICPO intelligence section (S2) head, said he is challenging his critics to show proof that he is a rogue cop in cahoots with drug syndicates.

 

Amiyong in particular dared Iloilo 5th district Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. to buttress the intelligence report linking the former to the illegal drugs trade.

 

“They have an intelligence report then he should prove it. If they have proof, they can charge and have me removed from the service. I am willing to face that if they have sufficient evidence,” Amiyong said.

 

The intelligence report tagged Amiyong in the illegal drugs trade in the municipality of Estancia which is part of Tupas’ district.

 

Amiyong also dared Tupas to pinpoint the drug lords and pushers he is dealing with.

 

“If I am indeed into illegal drugs, I cannot just get shabu from Estancia, throw them to the ground and let drug addicts pick them up. They must prove that I have associates in this alleged illicit business,” Amiyong added.

 

The ICPO-S2 chief also threw the same challenge to his detractors who linked him to the slaying of PO2 Frederick Capasao two years ago.

 

Capasao, who was detailed to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, was shot to death in front of their house reportedly because of his campaign against illegal drugs.

 

Tupas revealed during the congressional hearing on the Balasan Boys controversy two weeks ago an intelligence report linking a chief inspector and three other police officers to Capasao’s murder.

 

But the congressman did not name the persons in the report which came from the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) of the Police Regional Office-6 based in Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City.

 

Amiyong said the PNP should investigate how a confidential intelligence report got into the hands of individuals outside of the PNP.

 

“In the first place, how did it get out of RID? Maybe Rep. Tupas has his own sources reason why he got hold of the document,” Amiyong said.

 

M16 RIFLE VS THIEVES

 

Amiyong also clarified reports that he requested M16 Armalite rifles which they will use to neutralize robbers and thieves preying on Iloilo City.

 

Amiyong said the issue cropped up after he borrowed M16 rifles from the ICPO armory for their operation Monday against a robbery group planning to hit a business establishment in the city.

 

“We borrowed the rifles because the suspects have high-powered firearms while the police only have pistols. We are not allowed to carry M16 because of the one officer-one firearm policy,” he said.

 

Amiyong said he later requested Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, to ask Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. to buy more M16 rifles for the ICPO.

 

Mongcal said he tasked Amiyong to lead a team that will collar thieves and hired killers in the city.

 

“The M16 rifles were issued to the team on activity basis. In fact, we were able to foil an attempt to rob another business establishment because of that operation. Chief Insp. Amiyong has not slept because of their follow operations,” Mongcal said.

 

The ICPO intelligence section under Amiyong’s charge has been criticized for failure to preempt the spate of robberies and killings that happened in the city since late last year.

 

Last year, Amiyong was also charged with criminal and administrative raps for shooting two persons whom he allegedly hired to bomb the equipment of a contractor of the Iloilo flood control project. Amiyong had denied the accusations including the alleged bombing of the Korean contractor’s equipment.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Local Water Utility Authority (LWUA) has no plans to arbitrarily take over the management of Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD), according to presidential adviser on water Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora.

 

Citing his conversation with LWUA chair Prospero “Butch” Pichay Tuesday last week, Jamora said the former may have been misquoted in earlier reports on the LWUA’s threat to manage MIWD because of the water supply shortage in Iloilo City.

 

Jamora told The Daily Guardian Monday evening that Pichay only suggested helping the water firm overcome its problems in terms of water supply and distribution.

 

“He (Pichay) said he was misquoted. Butch said he only offered LWUA’s assistance to MIWD if the management has difficulties solving the crisis,” Jamora said.

 

When asked if LWUA can take over MIWD because of the water supply shortage, Jamora said the problem is not unique to Iloilo City.

 

“There is water shortage in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and other urban centers. What we are suffering here is also happening in other areas. LWUA cannot arbitrarily take over MIWD because of supply shortage,” said Jamora who once headed LWUA.

 

Jamora said LWUA can only assume control of a water district if it fails to pay its loans to the said agency. The water district’s board must also ask LWUA to temporarily manage the firm if the need arises.

 

Jamora cited the case of Metro Roxas Water District (MRWD) which LWUA took over because of financial and operational woes.

 

“In that case, the water district’s board asked LWUA to step in. The takeover is supposed to take effect on a temporary basis but MRWD wants us to stay because of improved performance and political issues,” Jamora said.

 

Earlier, MIWD director Adrian Moncada said they will resist any attempt by LWUA to take over the water firm for lack of legal basis.

 

Moncada claimed the Iloilo City council may have been tricked to declare the metropolis under a state of water crisis which consequently gave rise to the takeover yarn.

 

The MIWD director said the original intent of the council’s declaration was to help expedite the projects of the water firm to improve its services.

 

Jamora said there is no need for LWUA to assume control of the management of MIWD “because I believe that the present crop of directors is aggressive in instituting reforms and projects that will improve the district’s services.”

 

“This is a working board of directors and they are brimming with ideas on how to improve MIWD’s operations. I suggested to the directors that they present a management plan to LWUA so the latter can extend whatever help the district will require,” Jamora said.

 

He added the new set of directors will strike a balance between conservatism and aggressiveness in MIWD’s improvement projects.

 

“Before, the board was conservative and deliberate in undertaking projects which resulted in savings and surpluses. I believe that the present board will use these funds to good use to improve services without burdening the consumers,” Jamora said.   

 

LWUA provides financial, technical, institutional development and regulatory services to local water utilities nationwide.

MIWD to resist LWUA takeover

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) will resist any attempt of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to take over the management of the water firm.

 

Engr. Adrian Moncada, MIWD director representing the professional sector, said LWUA has no legal basis for the reported takeover of the water utility which covers Iloilo City and several towns in Iloilo province.

 

Moncada said they were tricked when LWUA chair Prospero Pichay proposed that the Iloilo City Council declare a state of water crisis in the metropolis.

 

The council declaration, which was in the form of a resolution sponsored by Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, was meant to expedite procurement processes for the bulk water supply and other improvement works mulled by MIWD.

 

Peñaredondo’s resolution was approved during the council’s regular session two weeks ago.

 

“But that declaration of water crisis later became the basis of Pichay’s statement that LWUA will take over MIWD management if water supply in the city does not improve within a month. That is not the real intent of the declaration,” Moncada said.

 

Moncada, who is also the vice president for commercial operations of Global Business Power Corp., said the planned takeover will not bode well for MIWD after LWUA managed the water firm years back because of unpaid loans.

 

“The first takeover was legally sound because of the loan issue. But at present, what’s the real basis? And MIWD employees had bad experiences about the first takeover,” he added.

 

As regards the P198-million fund of the MIWD, Moncada said some P25 million was used to repair their facilities damaged by typhoon Frank last year.

 

Another P27 million is being used for ongoing improvements and repairs of the distribution lines, the cost of which could increase as the projects continue.

 

“The money does not lay idle. It is being used to improve our services with the entry of new board members. We even formulated a five-year development plan which will encompass our supply and distribution services. The remaining amount is not even enough for our future projects,” Moncada added.

 

Moncada replaced Atty. Eduardo Aguillon who resigned from the MIWD board. The two other new board members are Dr. Danny Encarnacion who represents the academe and Dr. Sergio Gonzalez for the civic sector. The other MIWD directors are Marissa Segovia (women sector) and Celso Javelosa (business sector).

 

Representatives from LWUA will arrive today to meet the MIWD board to discuss the firm’s management and its actions and plans to solve the acute water shortage in Iloilo City.

 

Moncada said they can seek technical assistance from LWUA “but the management of the water district is the responsibility of the board.”

 

BULK WATER SUPPLY

 

The top priority of MIWD’s five year management plan is the adoption of the bulk water supply which is expected to be implemented early next year.

 

Moncada said they are looking at two modes of contracting bulk water from potential suppliers: bidding under Republic Act 9184 (Philippine Procurement Act) or joint venture with a supplier.

 

The MIWD director said there are three possible interconnection points in the water grid which bulk suppliers can tap – San Miguel municipality and Brgys. Ungka and Tabuc Suba in Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

“We are now formulating the terms of reference for the bidding to be participated by potential suppliers. This scheme will spare MIWD of spending for infrastructure projects for its supply lines. We will now concentrate on improving our distribution lines,” Moncada said.

 

Aside from the bulk water supply mode, the MIWD 5-year plan will also attempt to improve water quality, standard pressure, affordable rates, reduction of non-revenue water (water lost to pilferage and distribution wastage), collection efficiency and organizational performance.

 

MIWD is also determining potential customers in the market and the growth rate in the next five years to address the water crisis in the city.

 

The water firm is also looking into underground water supplies “but we are having problems with some local government units who are demanding a portion of our revenues in the form of the so-called national wealth tax,” Moncada said. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

UNANSWERED phone calls and drunkenness are the possible reasons why a father shot his physician daughter to death Saturday night.

 

Gideon Licera Sr. of Jalandoni Estate, Lapuz, Iloilo City is facing possible parricide charges for the death of his 32-year-old daughter, Dr. Gretchen Licera.  

 

Gideon’s wife Jasmin corrected earlier reports that the suspect shot Gretchen when the victim tried to pacify the dispute between the husband and wife.

 

Jasmine said she and her youngest son Gideon Jr. went to a mall Saturday. Gretchen later joined them after attending a medical convention.

 

The trio went home late but Jasmin said she informed her husband that she is with their two children.

 

When they arrived at their house, Jasmin said they found out that their cellphones had several missed calls from Gideon Sr.

 

Jasmin said she tried to explain why they failed to answer Gideon Sr.’s calls but the latter, who was reportedly drunk, was already angry.

 

“He even took a beer from the refrigerator and slammed the bottle on the table. He was angry at us,” she said.

 

The suspect later entered the master’s bedroom and slammed the door. Gretchen tried to explain but her father continued to berate them and even told them to get out of their house.

 

Gideon Sr. later emerged from the room with a caliber .38 revolver and pointed it to Gideon Jr. while saying that he will kill his whole family.

 

Jasmin said Gretchen reacted by telling her father not to point the gun at them “but he looked back at her then shot her in the chest.”

 

The wife said her husband did not even help them carry Gretchen after he shot her.

 

Gretchen, a resident physician of Western Visayas Medical Center, died at the St. Paul’s Hospital despite attempts of her uncle, Dr. Pacifico Dalisay, to save her.

 

LaPaz police investigators said the revolver, which was pawned to Gideon, was unlicensed.

 

Gideon Sr. refused to give his side to The Daily Guardian inside the LaPaz police detention jail.

 

Jasmin said they are awaiting the arrival of their eldest child who is a nurse in London, before they decide whether or not to sue Gideon Sr. for parricide.

 

The wife said Gideon Sr. is a nice person except when he is drunk.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ONLY President Gloria Arroyo can save Panay Island from the worsening power shortage brought about by the privatization of Panay Diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) in Dingle, Iloilo. 

 

Presidential assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias said only the President can order the deferment of PDPP’s turnover to SPC Power Corp. on March 26.

 

Banias, along with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Governor Niel Tupas Sr., will meet President Arroyo in Malacañang 4pm Wednesday to request the deferment of SPC’s takeover of the plant.

 

The three officials will present the resolution passed by the Regional Development Council’s infrastructure development committee asking for the postponement of PDPP’s privatization.

 

“All the other solutions such as the deployment of Power Barge 104 from Davao and the 15 megawatt generator sets are not possible anymore. Only the President’s intervention can save us,” Banias said.

 

Electric cooperatives fear that Panay will lose 54MW of electricity once SPC takes over PDPP next week.

 

Energy sector stakeholders said SPC is hesitant to operate the plant because of pricing issue and the rehabilitation of the decades old plant.

 

SPC does not have transition supply contracts with electric cooperatives, thus they are trapped between the prospects of expensive power rates and lack of electricity.

 

The Singaporean firm’s takeover of PDPP is expected to increase power rates in Panay as it will charge the real cost of power which is higher than National Power Corp.’s (Napocor) subsidized rates.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 2 director, said they will sue Napocor, the former owner of PDPP, if their franchise area is plunged into darkness.

 

Ileco 1 general manager Wilfred Billena said the privatization of PDPP should be deferred for the meantime until there is assurance of stable power supply for Panay.

 

SPC remains mum on PDPP’s privatization although industry sources said the Singaporean-based power firm has filed a petition for rate adjustment with the Energy Regulatory Commission before operating the plant.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE national redistricting bill is nearing approval by Congress, according to a top Ilonggo official.

 

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said the Senate and House of Representatives are reconciling the two versions of the bill which will increase the number of congressmen in the country.

 

The House version, which was authored by Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., proposes 50 additional seats while the Senate wants to add 100 seats.

 

If the bill is passed, the number of congressmen will increase from 238 to as much as 300.

 

Sec. Gonzalez, however, said that filling up the 100 additional seats in the House will depend on the country’s population.

 

The 1986 Constitution mandates that a congressional district should have a 250,000 population.

 

The DoJ chief said the redistricting bill is in keeping with the principle of taxation.

 

“The power to tax is the most potent power of the state. That’s why you need representation in order that taxation can be properly represented for the people,” he added.

 

The national redistricting bill came to fore after the Senate committee on local government headed by Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was flooded with numerous redistricting measures from Congress.

 

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile then suggested that the House lump the individual bills into a single measure to facilitate its passage.

 

Enrile had assured the Gonzalezes that the bill will be passed as soon as possible.

 

Rep. Gonzalez earlier filed a bill creating the second congressional district of Iloilo City.

 

The younger Gonzalez said the creation of the second district will fast track the development of the city as it will mean more pork barrel allocations.

 

But critics of Rep. Gonzalez’s redistricting bill said the city did not pass the 250,000 population requisite in the Constitution as the total population of the metropolis is only more than 418,000.

 

The bill was also seen as way to avert a political confrontation between the Gonzalezes and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who will end his third 3-year term in 2010.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL the Visayas Supply Augmentation Auction (VSAA) program mulled by energy agencies curb the acute power shortage in Panay Island?

 

The VSAA is the only solution presented by the Department of Energy (DoE) to Ilonggo officials who riled at the agency’s failure to look for stable sources of electricity what with the continuing growth in demand of the island and privatization of National Power Corp. (NPC) assets.

 

The implementation of VSAA was directed pursuant to DoE’s Department Circular No. DC 2009-01-001 dated January 16, 2009. The circular ordered “DOE attached agencies, all electric power industry, participants, consumers and various stakeholders to adapt and implement contingency measures to ensure adequate and reliable electric power supply in Visayas Grid particularly in the islands of Cebu, Negros and Panay.”

 

VSAA was an offshoot of the DoE-led energy summit at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel January 14-16.

 

The summit confirmed the shortage of reserved electricity in the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) power grid.

 

As of December 17, 2008, 7pm, Panay Island lacks 53 megawatts (MW) while Negros is short by 57MW.

 

Panay is suffering from rotating brownouts ranging from 30 minutes to 9 hours. Negros needs 240MW by 2010 on top of its present capacity of 109MW.

 

Cebu province lacks 291MW with Mactan Island accounting for about 65MW while the power deficit in Bohol reached 38.70MW.

 

The Leyte-Samar enjoys a 352.70MW surplus but it is not enough to fill in the 439.7MW total power deficit of Visayas region.

 

WHAT IS VSAA?

 

The VSAA will be administered by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC).

 

Eric Niño Louis, PEMC training officer, said VSAA is a day-ahead market which would allow embedded generators to sell their un-contracted capacity and grid-connected customers to sell an interruptible portion of their loads through an auction process.

 

The VSAA is a form of demand-management as it would allow participants to manage their loads as well as to run their self-generation facilities, as means to ease the supply deficit and augment supply in the region, Louis added.

 

The embedded plants, which include generators of private businesses, should register with PEMC before they can participate in the auction.

 

The VSAA is expected to provide relief to electricity consumers in the Visayas region from rolling blackouts due to supply deficits within the region.

 

Even with cost recovery, the economic impact of the VSAA is seen to be positive as business and commercial establishments benefit from clean, uninterrupted and reliable electricity supply.

 

This increase in economic activity can spur new jobs, products and services – offsetting any effect of a marginal increase in electricity prices, when looked at the overall socio-economic perspective.

 

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will establish and enforce the pricing mechanisms of the auction. It will also act on recovery and return on demand-side management projects.   

 

Due to the financial incentive to supply into the region, it is hoped that companies would then be encouraged to maintain their generating capacities at an optimum level, thereby decreasing occurrences of forced outages.

 

Louis said they have identified 110 power generation units embedded in Visayas area, mostly diesel-fired generators.

 

But the PEMC has yet to determine the capacity of the said generators pending their registration with VSAA.

 

“Once the interested generators register, we will determine their capacity,” Louis said.

 

Under the VSAA, power generators who sacrificed their own supply to fill in the deficiency of the region will be compensated to recover cost of plant operation or load interruption.

 

The acute power problems of Visayas, particularly Panay, took a worse turn with the looming takeover of NPC plants in Dingle, Iloilo and Bohol Island.

 

SPC Power Corp., which bought the Dingle and Bohol facilities for more than US$5 million, has yet to categorically assure that it will run the plants after the March 26 turnover.

 

Electric cooperatives in Iloilo are riling at the privatization of the Dingle plant as SPC might not run the facility if cooperatives don’t agree with the true cost of power which is more expensive than NPC’s subsidized rates.

 

The Regional Development Council’s infrastructure development committee headed by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has issued a resolution asking President Gloria Arroyo to defer the turnover of the Dingle plant to SPC.

 

CHALLENGES

 

The current power supply situation in Visayas “is at a critical level as the current levels of electric power supply in the Visayas grid is inadequate to meet the demand in the region,” the VSAA primer said.

 

In the Power Development Plan (PDP) of the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) showing the supply-demand outlook for 2006-2014, it is reported that Visayas electricity demand requirements should be addressed immediately to prevent power outages in the Cebu, Negros and Panay islands.

 

The consumers in these regions are presently suffering from looming power shortage during peak hours resulting in increasing incidents of outages until sufficient new base-load capacity is put online.

 

Energy officials already declared the Visayas grid to be in a status of “red alert” indicating that the current available capacity is inadequate to meet both demand and reserve requirements.   

 

New generation plants that will operate in the Visayas are expected to be operational by the years 2010 and 2011.

 

The development of generation capacity, however, is hampered by prevailing regulated electricity rates that are below the cost of production for most generators. In the absence of transparency in the true cost of power, private sector generators are not encouraged to operate nor invest in new capacities.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE death threats against four top officials of Ajuy, Iloilo can be resolved if the two feuding political families in the town settle their scores peacefully.

 

This was the recommendation of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, regarding the alleged plot on the lives of Ajuy Mayor Juancho Alvarez, Sangguniang Bayan Members Pepe Dumayao and Pepe Baterna and Iloilo fifth district Board Member Jett Rojas.

 

Rojas alleged that their cousin Vicente “Etik” Espinosa is behind the plot.

 

Espinosa is also being tagged as the mastermind of the assassination of the late Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas last year.

 

Cuevas said the feud between the Rojas and Espinosa families could be the reason for the alleged assassination plans against the four officials.

 

Cuevas said it would be best if the two families settle their scores in peaceful manner instead of resorting to violence means.

 

The PRO-6 chief is also willing to hold a dialogue with the personalities involved in the issue.

 

“I advise the four officials of Ajuy to be extra careful because of the reported plot on their lives,” Cuevas said.

 

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) earlier revealed that four officials in northern Iloilo are the targets of a gun-for-hire group.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO chief, said they have prepared security measures to protect the four officials from the alleged assassination plot.

 

Sec. Gonzalez: Don’t look at me

FORMER Mayor Alex Centena is mayor again of Calinog, Iloilo.

A close aid of Salvador Divinagracia told The Daily Guardian that the ousted mayor has stepped down and gave way to Centena who filed an election protest against him for the vice mayoralty in the May 2007 elections and was declared by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as the winner last Jan. 26.

Divinagracia decided late yesterday afternoon when Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. stepped in and brokered a dialogue between his camp and Centena’s camp and along with the town’s barangay captains.

Divinagracia’s decision to step down ended tensions that began last Mar. 6 when his supporters trooped to the town hall to block the delivery of Comelec’s cease-and-desist order and writ of execution, both of which ordered him to vacate the office of the vice mayor.

Last Mar. 9, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) recognized Centena as the lawful town mayor. However, Divinagracia and his supporters continued to stay at the town hall and refuse to yield.

Divinagracia has repeatedly said the writ of execution was “defective”, stressing he was no longer serving as vice mayor following the death of then mayor Teodoro Lao last year. He and his legal counsels maintained that the writ specifically stated he stopped from performing his functions as the vice mayor.

Meanwhile, Divinagracia vowed to continue his legal battle. He hopes the Supreme Court favors him.

GONZALEZ DENIES ROLE

DON’T blame me.

Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. objected to insinuations that he is the reason for the political upheaval in Calinog, Iloilo.

Gonzalez said he laments the penchant of some people to tag him in controversies in Iloilo, particularly political feuds.

Gonzalez in particular took exception to the statements of ousted Calinog mayor Salvador Divinagracia who said that prominent people are behind his rival, newly-installed mayor Alex Centena.

Divinagracia also hit Gonzalez for commenting on the political feud in Calinog since he is from Iloilo City.

It was Gonzalez who confirmed last week that the Commission on Elections has ordered the installation of Centena as Calinog mayor.

Centena’s visits to Gonzalez during the pendency of the former’s election protest also stoked insinuations that the DoJ chief was involved in the Calinog issue.

Centena lost to Divinagracia in the 2007 vice mayoralty race but the former filed an election protest with the Regional Trial Court which upheld the latter’s victory.

Centena elevated his case to the Comelec which reversed the RTC. But while the protest was being heard, Calinog mayor Teodoro Lao died of sickness, catapulting Divinagracia to the mayor’s office.

The Comelec en banc declared Centena the winner of the 2007 elections and ordered Divinagracia to vacate the mayor’s office.

The Department of Interior and Local Government consequently recognized Centena because of the Comelec order.

Gonzalez said Divinagracia might be sour graping because he lost his case.

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-6) is disappointed with the refusal of ousted mayor Salvador Divinagracia to give way to installed mayor Alex Centena Tuesday.

 

This, as the standoff in Calinog, Iloilo continues after Divinagracia ignored the DILG decision recognizing Centena as the legitimate mayor of their town.

 

Reports from Calinog said Divinagracia tore a copy of the DILG certificate of recognition which Centena sent to Chief Insp. Gerry Castillo, municipal police station chief.

 

Divinagracia’s actuation was contrary to the executive order he issued Monday that he will step down on orders of the DILG.

 

Divinagracia said he will not obey the DILG order because it was based on a “defective” writ of execution issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last week.

 

DILG-6 legal counsel Ferdinand Panes said they are disappointed with the actuation of Divinagracia because the latter vowed to follow their decision.

 

“We are surprised by his stand because we thought the DILG already settled the matter last Monday. We presumed that Divinagracia will follow our orders based on his executive order. The DILG already made its stand and we stand firm on that – we have recognized Alex Centena and he is clothed with the power and functions of the municipal mayor,” Panes said.

 

Panes said they sent a copy of the certificate of recognition to the Calinog municipal hall through DILG-Iloilo provincial head Eliseo Orendez.

 

“We sympathize with the supporters of Divinagracia and we believe that emotions are running high now. But we have recognized Centena. If the Supreme Court favors his petition, the DILG-6 will re-install him. For the meantime, he should vacate the municipal hall and let Mayor Centena assume office,” Panes said.

 

Some 200 Divinagracia supporters were holed up at the Calinog town hall upon learning of the recognition letter and Centena’s assumption to the mayor’s office.

 

Centena, who reported to work 9:30am, is temporarily holding office at the Calinog Water District building to avoid confrontation with Divinagracia supporters. His first official act was to issue an executive order informing all municipal department heads that he is the legitimate mayor.

 

Centena attached to the EO the DILG certificate and the report of Comelec provincial head Elizabeth Doronila who served the writ of execution and cease and desist order to Divinagracia. He also signed several business permits and identification cards.

 

The newly-installed mayor said even if Divinagracia refuses to vacate the town hall, he will continue to discharge his function as mayor regardless of the location of his office.

 

Centena told The Daily Guardian he will let the Comelec, DILG and PNP decide whether or not to forcibly remove his rival from the municipal building.

 

“I want to avoid a violent clash that’s why I’m holding office in the water district,” he added.

 

Panes said they will submit a report to DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno regarding the events in Calinog.

 

“This will reach the attention of the secretary of Interior and Local Government then we will decide whether to forcibly remove Divinagracia or not,” Panes added.

 

Divinagracia supporters continue to flock the town hall as they urge him not to step down.

 

Iloilo provincial police director Ricardo dela Paz has formed Task Force Calinog to monitor and maintain peace and order in the town.

 

The Calinog police are also on their toes as they keep watch on supporters of the opposing politicians.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) cannot sue the police officers allegedly involved in the death of a police officer who was at the forefront of the anti-illegal drugs campaign in Iloilo City.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they have no witnesses who can tag four police personnel in the death of PO2 Frederick Capasao more than two years ago.

 

Capasao, who was once assigned at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea), was gunned down in front of their home in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

 

An intelligence report pointed to four police officers – one chief inspector, two police officers 2 and a police officer 1 – of having a hand in Capasao’s death.

 

The report dated February 16, 2008 came from the Regional Intelligence Division headed by Senior Supt. Cornelio Defensor.

 

Cuevas said he read the intelligence report which became the basis of an investigation mounted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

 

“I had the report validated by ordering the CIDG to investigate the case in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation which was able to get some witnesses,” Cuevas said.

 

But none of the witnesses, Cuevas said, was willing to execute sworn affidavits which can be used as evidence against the four police officers.

 

Even the wife of Capasao, Marisol, was afraid to issue her sworn statement, the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Cuevas said they cannot determine if the four police officers indeed killed Capasao or were just accomplices.

 

Capasao is one of the police officers responsible for the arrest of suspected drug suspect Cairoden Abdullah in 2005.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TRANSPORT groups have until Friday to secure from the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB-6) office the new fare matrix reflecting the 50-centavo reduction on jeepney fares.

 

LTFRB regional director Porfirio Clavel said they received late Monday evening an order from their central office which approved the fare rollback. The fare cut took effect Tuesday.

 

The new LTFRB order cut the minimum fare for public utility vehicles from P7 to P6.50.

 

The 50-centavo rollback on the current P7 fare will only be for the first five kilometers. There will be no rollbacks for the succeeding kilometers.

 

Discounted fare for students and senior citizens will decrease from P5.60 to P5.20.

 

Clavel advised jeepney operators and drivers to get the new fare matrix from his office until Friday lest they will be fined for non-compliance with LTFRB regulations.

 

The fare matrix, which can be obtained for free, should be posted in conspicuous parts of the jeepney, Clavel said.

 

Since the LTFRB national board already approved the rollback, Clavel said drivers should charge the new rate even if they don’t have the matrix.

 

“Starting Tuesday, the minimum fare for jeepneys will be P6.50. Passengers should report to us any driver who will not follow the new charges for appropriate action,” the LTFRB head said.

 

Nick Dalisay, Iloilo City Alliance of Drivers’ Association president, said they went to the LTFRB office Tuesday to secure the matrices in behalf of their members.

 

“We don’t want any confusion or dispute between drivers and passengers that’s why we took the cudgels of getting the fare matrix. We will make sure that our members will follow the new fare rate,” Dalisay said.

 

Dalisay also advised his fellow drivers to prepare coins, particularly 25 centavo coins, so they can give the exact change to passengers.  

 

Dalisay said they agree with the fare rollback because of economic crisis and successive oil price rollbacks in the world and domestic markets.  

Alberto "Tito" Relucio-Lopez

Alberto "Tito" Relucio-Lopez III

 

THE Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office (ICPO) has elevated to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) charges for grave threats filed by Francis Allan Angelo, The Daily Guardian’s executive editor, against a scion of the Lopez clan.

 

In a resolution dated February 2, 2009, Assistant City Prosecutor Honorio Aragona recommended the filing of the case filed against Alberto “Tito” R. Lopez III with the court.

 

ICPO chief Peter Baliao approved the resolution and elevation of the charges to the RTC.

 

The case stemmed from a confrontation between Angelo and his lawyer friend Joseph Anthony Lutero and Lopez in the evening of October 31, 2008 inside Flow Superclub at Smallville complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Angelo claimed that Lopez, for no apparent reason, approached and threatened to kill him.

 

Lutero backed Angelo’s allegation in his sworn affidavit.

 

Lopez denied the accusations in his counter-affidavit saying the charge was a “fabrication, a lie and a misrepresentation.”

 

Lopez presented the sworn statements of William Magahin, Jupiter Maldecir, Deneb Olivar, Elben Leonida, Fernando Aspero and Rodney Aurelio to support his defense.

 

Magahin and Maldecir are bouncers of Flow Superclub while the other witnesses are Lopez’s companions during the incident.

 

After careful examination of the plaint and Lopez’s defense, Aragona said there is probable cause to elevate the case in court on several grounds.

 

“There is no evidence in the record sufficient to hold that the accusation against the respondent (Lopez) was made by the complainant (Angelo) simply ‘just to impute imaginary statement in order to portray him as a bad and a mean person,’ as the respondent would like to impress,” the resolution said.

 

Aragona further resolved: “The complainant and the respondent are not personally known to each other. Notwithstanding the denials of the respondent and his witnesses, complainant positively and categorically asserted that the respondent threatened his person (and that his family) on the night of October 31, 2008. The complainant surely realized that the respondent belongs to an influential family, but notwithstanding the odds and consequences against him (brought about by the filing of this instant complaint), still insisted that this incident complained of did happen.”

 

The prosecutor said Lopez’s stand and that of his witnesses “are matters of his defense which could be better appreciated in a full blown trial.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL Mayor Salvador Divinagracia of Calinog, Iloilo give way to his rival, Mayor Alex Centena today?

 

This, after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-6) regional office officially recognized Centena as Calinog mayor Monday afternoon.

 

DILG-6 Evelyn Trompeta said they recognize Centena in keeping with the writ of execution issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

 

Trompeta said they issued a certificate of recognition informing Calinog municipal department heads, the Iloilo provincial government and national government agencies that Centena will discharge the office and powers of municipal mayor.

 

The certificate came out after Centena filed his oath office with the DILG regional office.

 

The Comelec writ ordered the installation of Centena as vice mayor after he won his election protest against Divinagracia.

 

Divinagracia won the 2007 vice mayoralty race and he was catapulted to the Office of the Mayor after then mayor Teodoro Lao died of illness last year.

 

The Comelec en banc later reversed Divinagracia’s election victory in a decision dated January 26, 2009 and ordered him to vacate the Office of the Vice Mayor.

 

The Comelec writ and cease-and-desist order (CDO) were served Friday to Divinagracia who refused to receive it saying he already left the vice mayor’s office after Lao died.

 

The service report submitted by Iloilo provincial election supervisor Elizabeth Doronila, who served the writ and CDO to Divinagracia, with the DILG also became the basis of the recognition certificate.

 

Trompeta also explained the situation to Divinagracia who sought clarifications from her office yesterday.

 

Before the DILG recognition came out, Divinagracia issued an executive order directing municipal department heads he is still the legitimate mayor.

 

The EO also ordered the processing of the performance bonuses of municipal hall workers.

 

Trompeta said transactions and documents which Divinagracia signed before the DILG officially recognized Centena are still deemed legal.

 

Centena delivered yesterday a copy of his certificate of recognition to the office of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. at the Iloilo provincial capitol.

 

When asked if he will recognize Centena, Tupas did not make any categorical statement even as he pointed to the DILG as the agency that can resolve the matter.

 

Tupas said his office received Centena’s certificate but he has yet to talk with the DILG regarding the standoff.

 

Divinagracia said he will only vacate his office if the Comelec specifically orders him to leave the mayor’s office.

 

Divinagracia is also pinning his hopes on the petition for review, which assailed the Comelec decision favoring Centena, pending with the Supreme Court.

 

But the SC has yet to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the Comelec decision.

 

Some Divinagracia loyalists at the municipal hall were seen wearing red armbands to signify their support to the beleaguered mayor.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

COMMUTERS in Western Visayas has one small consolation in this time of crisis as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory (LTFRB-6) is set to reduce jeepney fare by 50 centavos anytime this week.

 

Lawyer Porfirio Clavel, LTFRB-6 regional director, said he is awaiting official orders from their central office before they could slash the minimum fare for public utility vehicles from P7 to P6.50.

 

The 50-centavo rollback on the current P7 fare will only be for the first five kilometers. There will be no rollbacks for the succeeding kilometers.

 

Clavel said discounted fare for students and senior citizens will decrease from P5.60 to P5.20.

 

The fare decrease was prompted by continuous drop in the prices of oil products in the world market, Clavel added.

 

The LTFRB-6 chief said the decrease is only provisional because of the volatility of prices of oil products.

 

He said the reduction in Western Visayas was delayed because consultations conducted among stakeholders.

 

Earlier, majority of transport groups in Western Visayas, particularly in Panay, are not amenable with another round of fare rollback because they want the price of diesel fuel to hit P22-24 per liter.

 

Diesel fuel, which is used by public utility jeepneys and buses, presently costs P26-28 per liter.

 

The Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Association (FEBACDA) has agreed to a 50-centavo rollback while the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center said they would agree to a reduction if the LTFRB issues an official order.

Coops rile over PDDP sale

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE privatization of the National Power Corp.’s, (Napocor) Panay diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) in Dingle, Iloilo would be disastrous to electric cooperatives and their consumers if they fail to forge agreements with the new owner.

 

This was the contention of Engr. Wilfred Billena, Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco-1), over cable TV talk show Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday.

 

Billena said they get 66% of their 30 megawatt power requirement from PDPP which was sold to SPC Power Corp. for more than US$5 million.

 

Earlier reports said SPC might not operate PDPP after March 26 for two reasons – rehabilitation of the plant and uncertainty over the price of power it will produce.

 

Worse, the power supply agreements between Napocor and Panay electric cooperatives which are good until December 2010 were not included in the sale to SPC.

 

“This is disastrous because we don’t know where to get the electricity we will lose if that happens. The Northern Negros geothermal production field is not performing as expected,” Billena said.

 

Billena said if they negotiate a new power supply agreement with SPC, the price of electricity will surely increase because the new owner will have to offer the true cost of power from a diesel-fired power plant.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, Ileco-3 director, said they will sue Napocor if it fails to deliver electricity under their supply contract.

 

“Negotiating with SPC is one possibility but Napocor must fulfill their part to deliver power to the cooperatives because we have live contracts with them,” Ventilacion said over The Daily Guardian on Air Saturday program at Aksyon Radyo.

 

Ventilacion said the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) lacked foresight when it failed to include their contracts in the PDPP sale.

 

“We don’t care if PDPP was sold to SPC but we will demand the power we contracted with Napocor until 2010,” Ventilacion said.

 

Ventilacion, meanwhile, said their new power supply agreement with two renewable energy producers and two coal-fired power plants will be available January 2011. 

 

Even Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in Iloilo City, will also be affected by the looming shutdown of PDPP.

 

Engr. Randy Pastolero, special assistant to Peco president Miguel Cacho, said they have a standing contract with Napocor to get 15MW from the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid. Presently, Peco only gets 8-9MW of the contracted electricity.

 

“Hopefully, Panay Power Corp.’s plants will not experience problems because if they do, we will suffer from brownouts because we don’t have reserve power which we ought to get from Napocor,” Pastolero said.

 

Presidential adviser for Western Visayas Raul Banias said the problems of the cooperatives and Napocor will be discussed during the March 13 power summit in Iloilo City.

 

Banias said among the proposals to address the problem is to rehabilitate Peco’ diesel-fired power plant and draw electricity from private generators.

 

“But it would take four months to rehabilitate Peco’s power plant and we have to inventory the amount of electricity we can get from private establishments,” Banias said.  

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE tough but soft-spoken head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) used diplomacy to convince suspected drug syndicates in Iloilo City to stop their trade and live through honest means.

 

Pdea director general Dionisio Santiago said alleged drug lords in the city should turn to legitimate businesses instead of selling substances that destroy mostly the youth.

 

Speaking at the sidelines of the congressional hearing on the Balasan Boys issue Friday, Santiago pointed to a certain Prevendido and a certain Odicta as the alleged drug lords in Iloilo City.

 

“It’s common knowledge that these two are being tagged in the illegal drugs trade although it would be hard to arrest them red-handed because they don’t handle the stuff. And Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. has been very vocal against their operations,” Santiago said.

 

Santiago said they learned that these syndicates have diversified to legitimate businesses because of their alleged illicit operations.

 

Kumikita na sila, why don’t they focus on their businesses instead of continuing with their illegal trades,” Santiago averred. 

 

When asked if narco-politics has already encroached Western Visayas, Santiago said they have received reports of government officials getting support from drug lords “but these must be validated again and again because it would be hard to get evidence against them.”

 

“These are just reports, raw information. We have to get evidence. Knowing is different from proving kasi eh,” he added.

 

The Pdea chief said they are proposing some amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Law so they can pry into the resources and bank accounts of suspected drug lords and their associates.

 

“It’s very circuitous just to take a peek into their bank accounts. If only we could relax some regulations without trampling the right to privacy, we can go a long way in our fight against illegal drugs,” Santiago said.

 

Santiago said they are very careful in releasing information on government officials in cahoots with drug syndicate “because we don’t want to be used during the election season.”

Centena takes oath of office but Divinagracia won’t budge

 

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CALINOG, Iloilo has two municipal mayors.

 

Mayor Alex Centena took his oath of office before Regional Trial Court Judge Rene Hortillo around 4pm Friday.

 

Centena was sworn in as mayor after Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial election supervisor Elizabeth Doronila served the cease and desist order and writ of execution on Mayor Salvador Divinagracia at the Calinog municipal hall.

 

Centena filed an election protest against Divinagracia’s victory in the May 2007 vice mayoralty race.

 

But then Mayor Teodoro Lao died of sickness while the protest was pending.

 

Last January 26, the Comelec en banc declared Centena as the winner of the 2007 vice mayoralty race in the town.

 

Divinagracia filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court and asked for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Comelec en banc decision.

 

But the TRO never came until the Comelec issued the writ of execution and cease-and-desist order directing Divinagracia to stop functioning as mayor. 

 

Divinagracia said he remains municipal mayor as cannot accept the writ of execution and cease-and-desist order.

 

Divinagracia averred that the writ is defective as it only refers to the Office of the Vice Mayor.  He said he is no longer vice mayor as he assumed the post of mayor when then Mayor Lao died last March 2008.

 

“I will not receive the said writ of execution, as I cannot legally comply with the same considering that I had long vacated and stopped performing the duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Vice Mayor after the death of then incumbent mayor Teodoro Lao,” Divinagracia said

 

Divinagracia further said he has a petition pending before the Supreme Court. He said the Comelec was directed to submit a written report, but has yet to do so.

 

The legal battle between Divinagracia and Centena temporarily affected the services of the municipal government Friday. 

 

As Divinagracia’s supporters flocked to the municipal hall in an attempt to block the delivery of the writ, a number of employees chose to go home early for fear of violence erupting.

 

Supporters of Divinagracia are thankful that the delivery of the writ was peaceful and orderly.

 

Centena said he will issue an executive order to other government offices informing them that he is now the municipal mayor.

 

Centena said the order will be forwarded to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

 

Doronila said she will make a report to their central office regarding Divinagracia’s refusal to accept the writ.  

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT did the congressional hearing on the so-called Balasan Boys controversy accomplish?

 

The first hearing held at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center was led by the House committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Rep. Roque Ablan Jr.

 

The House spent P170,000 for the five-hour hearing which started 2pm to 7pm.

 

The congressmen present in the hearing were Ferj Biron, Elpidio Berzaga, Niel Tupas Jr., Antonio Cuenco, Roilo Golez and Jeanette Garin.

 

At the end of the inquiry, the committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. came up with three initial recommendations.

 

The first recommendation made by Garin is to put up a rehabilitation center for drug users in the region.

 

The second recommendation is to assign a special prosecutor who will handle drug cases while the third recommendation is to hold seminar for prosecutors regarding latest rules and regulations.

 

Ablan said they will include the proposals in the committee report on the Alabang and Balasan Boys probe conducted by the committee.

 

Instead of focusing on the Balasan boys, the hearing started off with the white paper circulated by so-called “concerned court employees” at the Hall of Justice. The paper assailed the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office and the Department of Justice (DoJ) for allegedly bungling cases it handles.

 

Rep. Cuenco brought up the issue when he read the banner story of The Daily Guardian on the reaction of Iloilo City chief prosecutor Peter Baliao to the contents of the white paper.

 

Cuenco said he was “perplexed by the mysterious” outcome of drug cases that are lodged with the DoJ, particularly the case of Cairoden Abdullah.

 

“I am perplexed with what is happening at the DoJ. These are mysteries that call for justice,” he said.

 

Baliao clarified he had no part in the Abdullah case as this happened before he was appointed chief prosecutor. He also reiterated that the prosecution petitioned the court to dismiss the case on orders of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr.

 

When the hearing focused on the Balasan Boys – O’Henry Caspillo and Noli Tiope – Rep. Biron asked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) about the piece of paper found in Caspillo’s wallet. The paper contained the names Lusaban and Obsequio which were linked to two members of the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office (IPPO).

 

IPPO chief Prosecutor Bernabe Dusaban and Ricaflor Obsequio attended the hearing to air their side on the cases.

 

Atty. Ronnie Delicana, Pdea legal officer, said they did not include the piece of paper in the case against Caspillo “because there is nothing in that paper.”

 

“We are very neutral about the paper. We cannot imply anything from it that is why we did not include it in the evidence. We were only pressured to release the paper when the media started asking about the names of the prosecutors,” Delicana said.

 

Caspillo, who was present during the hearing, said he was surprised about the presence of the paper in his wallet.

 

Caspillo also denied knowing Dusaban or Obsequio.

 

That piece of paper was prominently featured in the letter of Iloilo provincial administrator Boy Mejorada and the resolution of Cong. Tupas serving as “evidence” of some link between the mentioned prosecutors and the drug suspects.

 

COPS KILLING COP?

 

The hearing also yielded two confidential intelligence reports saying that four police officers were involved in the death of SPO2 Frederick Capasao two years ago.

 

Capasao was once detailed to the Pdea before his death. The intelligence report said Capasao’s death was drug-related because he was active in arresting top drug pushers in the region.

ICPO cheif Peter Baliao

ICPO chief Peter Baliao

Baliao shreds authors of white paper

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A BIG pack of lies.

 

This was how Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office (ICPO) chief Peter Baliao described the “white paper” circulating at the Iloilo Hall of Justice.

 

The white paper dated February 25, 2009 was authored by the so-called “Concerned Iloilo Court Employees” and addressed to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

 

The letter accused Baliao, Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. and assistant city prosecutor Gonorio Aragona of neglecting cases filed against suspected drug lords.

 

One case cited by the letter is that of suspected drug peddler Cairoden Abdullah who was arrested almost 5 years ago in LaPaz by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea).

 

The letter claimed that Baliao and Aragona, on orders of Gonzalez, forced prosecutor Raymund Javier to file a motion to dismiss the case against Abdullah.

 

The motion to dismiss was filed with Regional Trial Court Judge Evelyn Salao, who was hearing the case, before the defense could present its last witness.

 

“Without even consulting the Rules of Court, Judge Salao caved in as she too was subjected to pressure by Sec. Gonzalez, Baliao and Aragona. The motion to dismiss, by the way, was not approved by regional state prosecutor Domingo Laurea as required,” the letter said.

 

The author/s of the letter said they were ready to supply documents to prove their allegations.

 

Baliao told The Daily Guardian that Abdullah’s case was filed and elevated to the RTC before he was appointed chief city prosecutor.

 

“Abdullah appealed the ICPO’s resolution to file the case in court with the DoJ secretary who eventually reversed the decision. We had no choice but to follow the decision of the secretary who is our superior. Even the judge agreed with the reversal because there was no probable cause in the case. The case was only dismissed after due course,” Baliao said.

 

TESTIMONIAL DINNER

 

The white paper also questioned the dismissal of the serious illegal detention and physical injuries charges filed by a certain Villalon against a certain Mr. Ong who owns restaurant bars and a hotel inside Smallville complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

The cases, which were non-bailable, were “mysteriously dismissed” by Aragona.

 

“After two weeks, Pros. Baliao proudly hosted a testimonial luncheon in that restaurant (all expenses courtesy of the owner) with about 50-75 persons in attendance including the DoJ Secretary,” the letter said.

 

But Baliao said he does not know Ong nor did he take interest in that particular case.

 

“A lot of cases are filed with my table and I examine the merits, not the persons involved,” he added.

 

As regards the luncheon held at MO2 Hotel in Smallville, Baliao said he paid for the food using his own money. He presented two receipts issued by the hotel to his wife to prove that they paid for the event.

 

The first receipt with number 11534 was issued October 2, 2008 for the P10,000 down payment for the luncheon. The second receipt with number 11549 was issued October 4, 2008 for the balance of P4,475.

 

“That luncheon was tendered for Sec. Gonzalez to show our gratitude because he gave a new air-conditioning unit to our office. The secretary offered to pay for the event but I told him that I will shoulder the expenses. I don’t use my office to get free lunches,” Baliao said.

 

LAST WARNING

 

The letter also claimed that Baliao and Aragona are treating the illegal recruitment cases against Singaporean Vijay Singh with kid gloves.

 

Singh is out on bail after the ICPO did not oppose the Singaporean’s motion to bail with the RTC.

 

Baliao said he already signed the motion to withdraw bail which they will file with the RTC so that Singh can be detained while his cases are being heard.

 

“A lot more cases are being filed against the Singaporean and we are focusing on them. I don’t even know the personal circumstances of this Singaporean,” Baliao averred.

 

The last accusation of the white paper is the failure of the ICPO chief and Aragona to object or comment on the inhibition of two RTC judges to handle the case of John Rey Prevendido who was arrested by the Pdea in an illegal drugs buy-bust operation January 2009.

 

“Is it because Pros. Baliao whose middle name is Dosado is a relative of Prevendido’s grandmother? Now the case is raffled to a sickly judge who had dismissed an equally controversial case against John Rey Prevendido two months earlier. Coincidence? No. it is an arrogant display of manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence,” the letter said.

 

Baliao laughed off the accusation “because I don’t personally know Prevendido.”

 

“How can the author discover our names and relations? I haven’t met Prevendido and I don’t know that we were related,” he said.

 

Baliao also said they cannot question the decision of the two judges to inhibit from Prevendido’s case because it is there right.

 

“Who am I to dictate the judge? It is their discretion. It’s a matter that concerns the courts and the Supreme Court. Anyway, the case has been assigned to RTC Branch 37,” he said.

 

The ICPO chief also doubts if court employees wrote the letter “because every detail here pertains to the prosecution.”

 

“For sure, the author of this letter is one of us. That person even ate chicken drumsticks at our luncheon at MO2 hotel, so why is he questioning the affair? This is my warning to the author: These are the last lies you will fabricate against me. If you have questions with the way we run things here, come out in the open and talk to me directly. Don’t hide behind fictitious names or groups,” Baliao said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. accused the political nemeses of a former Iloilo mayor as the persons behind the white paper accusing him and the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office (ICPO) of manipulating cases.

 

Gonzalez said the enemies of former Calinog mayor Alex Centena may have spread the letter because they suspect him of helping the latter’s electoral protest against incumbent Mayor Salvador Divinagracia.

 

Gonzalez said his decision to dismiss the illegal drugs cases against Cairoden Abdullah was being used against him because of the political squabble in Calinog.  

 

“I already dismissed that case (of Abdullah) in 2006 for lack of evidence but it is surfacing once more because they think I am helping Centena. Maybe they released the letter because of what’s happening in Calinog,” the DoJ chief said. (See banner story for the details of the letter against Gonzalez and ICPO chief prosecutor Peter Baliao)

 

Gonzalez said he attended the ICPO’s luncheon at MO2 Hotel last October 4, 2008 because it marked the oath-taking of Baliao.

 

“I have nothing to do with that. I was just invited there because he took his oath as chief city prosecutor. Even the judges were there,” Gonzalez said.

 

When told that the House committee on dangerous drugs might investigate the white paper during the Balasan Boys hearing today, the DoJ secretary said he welcomes the move.

 

The Balasan Boys hearing involves the dismissal of non-bailable cases against two suspected drug peddlers arrested in northern Iloilo.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

POWER generators in Cebu and other parts of Visayas will share their excess electricity to Panay to ease the tight power supply situation of the island.

 

This is the primary purpose of the power supply augmentation program being prepared by the Department of Energy (DoE) to address the power shortage in Panay, according to DoE Undersecretary Roy Kyamco.

 

Kyamco was in Iloilo City Thursday to present the DoE report during the Economic Briefing mounted by the Investor Relations Office of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center.

 

Kyamco said the augmentation program is being prepared by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC).

 

PEMC is the autonomous group market operator (AGMO) that shall undertake the preparatory work and initial operation of the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). Its primary purpose is to establish, maintain, operate and govern an efficient, competitive, transparent and reliable market for the wholesale purchase of electricity and ancillary services in the Philippines

 

Under the said program, Kyamco said power generators in Cebu and other areas will be allowed to share their excess electricity to Panay during peak hours.

 

“The PEMC is working on the details of the program, particularly the power producers that will join, the amount of power they can share and the time when the excess electricity are available. But you will have to pay for the power given you. The program will be completed by end of April,” Kyamco said.

 

The DoE official said that aside from base-load power generators, sugar centrals in Negros Island are also willing to share their excess electricity to Panay.

 

Kyamco even cited the case of Cebu when it was saddled with short power supply.

 

“Private businesses used their own generators so that households could use electricity from the plants. You can just imagine the sacrifice of the business sector,” he added.

 

Panay’s power situation became more precarious because of the perceived uncertainty of SPC Power Corp. to operate the Panay Diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) come March 26.

 

SPC, according to energy industry sources, indicated that it will only supply power to Panay cooperatives if they agree to pay the real cost of electricity which is more expensive than the subsidized rates of the National Power Corp.

 

SPC will have to set its own rates to recoup its investments in PDPP.

 

But Kyamco said Ilonggos should not be apprehensive about the looming turnover “because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will make sure that prices of electricity here will be reasonable.”

 

“Don’t be apprehensive. Think positive. Let us wait for the ERC to decide on this,” said the former military general-turned-bureaucrat.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE turnover of Panay Diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) in Dingle, Iloilo to SPC Power Corp. will go on as scheduled.

 

Presidential adviser for Western Visayas Raul Banias said the national government will not delay the March 26 turnover of the plant to SPC despite apprehensions that it will worsen the power crisis in Panay Island.

 

Banias said delaying the PDPP turnover is one of the proposals they presented to President Gloria Arroyo and the Department of Energy (DOE) to prevent the power shortage from deteriorating.

 

But Banias said Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes rejected the proposed solution as the sale was already consummated.

 

Reyes also disapproved the transfer of Power Barge 104 in Davao City as it is scheduled for maintenance and repair.

 

“Secretary Reyes instead pushed for power augmentation program which they expect to arrest the looming shortage,” Banias said.

 

The DOE will mount an energy summit with the National Power Corp. (Napocor), SPC and other power sector stakeholders in the island to discuss and solve the energy crisis.

 

SPC Power Corp. (SPC), formerly Salcon Power Corp., won the bidding for the 146.5-megawatt (MW) Panay and 22-MW Bohol diesel power plants.

 

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), which oversees the sale of government’s power assets, said SPC outbid two other firms after submitting the highest offer of $5.86 million for the two plants.

 

Atty. Conrad Tolentino, PSALM spokesman, allayed fears that SPC will not operate PDPP after March 26.

 

Tolentino said while there is no assurance from SPC, it is more logical for the firm to operate the plant so it can recoup its investments.

 

“SPC will lose more if it does not run PDPP,” Tolentino said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo.

 

Tolentino also said that SPC must first seek the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission before it can jack up prices of electricity. 

 

Energy industry sources said SPC is hesitant to operate PDPP because of the price of electricity.

 

SPC will only run the plant if electric cooperatives agree to pay for the real cost of power which is more expensive than Napocor’s subsidized rates.  

By Francis Allan Angelo

 

IS Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. the “prominent person” behind the bid of former mayor Alex Centena to reclaim the top post of Calinog, Iloilo?

 

No less than Gonzalez confirmed reports that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has issued a writ of execution relative to its January 26 decision declaring Centena as the winner of the 2007 vice mayoralty race in Calinog.

 

Gonzalez said Comelec chair Jose Melo has signed the writ after the poll body’s en banc session Tuesday.

 

“Normally, the writ of execution is directed to the court where the case originated. Since the election protest was filed with the Regional Trial Court in Iloilo, it will be the one to implement the installation of Centena,” Gonzalez said.

 

Why is Gonzalez the one announcing this latest development in Calinog politics?

 

Gonzalez earlier said he will not dabble in Calinog politics although he believes that Centena won the elections and has a strong case in his protest.

 

Last year, Centena was spotted at the Gonzalez residence in Brgy. Quintin Salas, Jaro, Iloilo City during the birthday of the justice secretary.

 

Incumbent Calinog Mayor Salvador Divinagracia had said that prominent persons are helping Centena get a favorable ruling from the Comelec.

 

Divinagracia, through his lawyer Roberto Catolico, have appealed the Comelec decision upholding Centena’s victory pending the motion for certiorari they filed with the Supreme Court.

 

Aside from the certiorari, Divinagracia also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order against the Comelec decision.

 

But the high tribunal has yet to issue any TRO and only asked the Comelec to comment on Divinagracia’s motion.

 

Divinagracia said the SC’s order to the poll body to comment on his plea is a “TRO of sorts” against Centena’s looming assumption to the Calinog municipal hall.

 

Divinagracia succeeded then mayor Teodoro Lao who died last year of a lingering illness.

DILG, COMELEC READY

 

While they have yet to receive a copy of the supposed writ from their central office, Comelec regional director Dennis Ausan said they are ready to implement the order.

 

“It all depends on the tenor of the writ. If the central office directs the RTC to install Centena, it will be court’s call. If the RTC seeks our assistance, we are ready to do so,” Ausan said.

 

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional legal officer Ferdinand Panes said their role is to administer Centena’s oath of office before he is installed.

 

Panes shared Ausan’s point that the RTC will implement the Comelec decision “although the court can deputize the Comelec regional office or the DILG.”

 

“Even the PNP is ready should there be an order to install Centena,” Panes added.

 

Ausan said they don’t expect violence to occur when they implement the writ citing his previous experience in other areas.

 

“Everything will be given due course. We will convene both parties to lessen or eliminate friction,” Ausan said.  

Mayor orders crackdowns on heists

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT is the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) doing to curb down cases of car thefts and robberies in Iloilo City?

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has ordered the ICPO to prevent more robberies and “Basag Kotse” incidents in the city following the spate of heists over the weekend.

 

Treñas said he directed ICPO chief Melvin Mongcal to conduct more checkpoints daily and nightly around the metropolis.

 

The mayor also told the police to strictly implement the no plate, no travel policy on motorcycles and cars.

 

Treñas said eight more patrol cars will be issued to the ICPO to improve its mobility and responses to incidents.

 

Unidentified suspects have been feasting on cars parked in front of establishments in broad daylight Saturday.

 

Practical nursing Rowena Paderes of Cabatuan, Iloilo was shocked to discover Saturday the shattered glass window of her Mitsubishi Lancer parked inside a mall in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Paderes lost her laptop and other personal items inside her car.

 

A female physician also lost her cellphones, iPod music player and other valuables to unidentified thefts who also broke the window of her car parked outside Iloilo Medical Society compound on Luna Street, LaPaz district.

 

Napoleon Sinecida parked his Nissan Terrano on Quezon Street, Iloilo City proper to have lunch in a restaurant.

 

When Sinecida returned, his window was also shattered to pieces. He lost assorted magazines of his caliber .45 pistol.

 

Rice trader Vicente Dago of Pavia, Iloilo lost P30,000 cash to armed suspects at Brgy. San Isidro, LaPaz.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said the license plate of the motorcycle used by the robbers was covered by dark plastic material.

 

Rosales said the suspects covered the plate to prevent investigators from tracing the owner of the motorcycle.

 

Rosales said he dispatched intelligence operatives to look for witnesses who saw the suspects who robbed Dago.

 

A photojournalist also lost his Samsung cellphone to hold-uppers in Jaro district.

 

Mongcal said he gave police precinct commanders in the six city districts the onus of preventing more robberies and arresting the suspects.

Iloilo City at night. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Iloilo City at night. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO City and the rest of Panay Island are facing another debacle in the worsening power problems of the region.

 

Energy industry sources said SPC Power Corp., which bought the 146.5-megawatt Panay Diesel Power Plant (PDPP) operated by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) at Brgy. Tinocuan, Dingle, Iloilo, is hesitant to operate the plant because of the price of electricity.

 

The problem surfaced during the meeting Saturday of power industry stakeholders in Panay initiated by Dr. Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas.

 

Banias said SPC will negotiate with electric cooperatives in Panay regarding the new price of electricity once the firm takes over PDPP operations March 25 from Napocor.

 

“As a merchant power producer, SPC will not be able to sell power at subsidized rates which Napocor offered to cooperatives. SPC will have to negotiate with the cooperatives regarding the price after the turnover of PDPP. The cooperatives will agree with Salcon’s price, well and good. If they cannot agree on the terms, SPC will not operate the plant and we will have bigger problems,” Banias said.

 

NPC sells electricity to cooperatives at around P2.80 per kilowatt-hour, which is cheap for power produced by a diesel-fired plant because of government subsidy.

 

Prevailing industry rates peg electricity from diesel-fired power plants at P8 to P9 per kWh depending on the fluctuations of oil prices in the world market and the peso-dollar exchange rate.

 

Engr. Edgar Mana-ay, who worked in the energy sector for more than 20 years, doubts if SPC will operate if the firm follows NPC’s subsidized rates.

 

“If the price is doubled or tripled up to P9 per kWh, maybe they (SPC) will continue the operation of the dingle diesel plant,” Mana-ay said.

 

If SPC does not run PDPP, Banias said Panay Island will lose some 50-60 megawatts of power, compounding the power woes of the island which is already reeling from 9-hour rotating brownouts.

 

The dilemma will trickle down to Iloilo City which draws 15MW from Napocor through its interconnection with Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the metropolis.

 

Mayor Jerry Treñas said Peco is only getting 8MW out of the 15MW it contracted from Napocor.

 

Iloilo City’s main source of power is Panay Power Corp. (PPC) whose mother company, Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC), plans to construct a 164-MW coal-fired power plant.

 

“As we all know, demand for power in Iloilo City increases during summer season. It’s a critical period for the city. If there are problems with GBPC’s plants, where shall we get power when PDPP is not running?” Banias said

 

Banias said they came up immediate solutions to SPC’s problems but he doubts if these are feasible.

 

“One, we can opt to delay the turnover of PDPP to SPC but this is not possible. Another option is to transfer Power Barge 104 from Davao City but residents and politicians there will certainly object,” he added.

 

Another solution is the deployment of 15 units of generator sets in Iloilo City which Napocor promised to Mayor Treñas.

 

Treñas will ask President Gloria Arroyo to expedite the transfer of the gen-sets, which have a total capacity of 15MW, and avert a power shortage in the metropolis.

 

The President will arrive in Iloilo City today to inaugurate the expansion of a call center.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, president of Iloilo Electric Cooperative-2, said their power purchase contracts with Napocor are good until December 2010.

 

Ventilacion said they expect SPC to assume Napocor’s contracts with the cooperatives “but the price would reflect the true cost of power.”

 

“We expect electricity rates to increase once SPC takes over PDPP operations. Another problem is when SPC withdraws some of the plant’s capacity from the market because SPC might not rehabilitate some of the engines for economic reasons,” Ventilacion said.

 

SPC Power Corp. (SPC), formerly Salcon Power Corp., won the bidding for the 146.5-megawatt (MW) Panay and 22-MW Bohol diesel power plants November 12, 2008.

 

The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) said SPC outbid two other firms after submitting the highest offer of $5.86 million for the two plants.

 

PSALM oversees the sale of government’s power assets which is mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

 

The other bidders for PDPP and Bohol plant were Therma Power-Visayas, a Philippine corporation owned by Aboitiz Power Corp., and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. of Philippine Investment Management Inc. (Phinma).

 

Organized in 1994, SPC also won the contract for Napocor’s 203.8-MW Naga power plant complex in Cebu under a rehabilitation, operation, maintenance and management (ROMM) agreement.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CHIEF Inspector Leroy Rapiz heaped a slew of administrative and criminal charges against Mayor Restituto Mosqueda of Estancia, Iloilo following their near duel Friday last week.

 

Rapiz, former deputy chief of the 608th Iloilo Provincial Mobile Group, sued Mosqueda for attempted murder, grave threat, grave oral defamation, grave abuse of authority, gross dereliction of duty, betrayal of trust, grave misconduct and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Official and Employee.

 

The charges will be filed with Ombudsman for the military, according to initial reports.

 

Rapiz alleged in his complaint affidavit that Mosqueda pointed an unidentified pistol at the former for 30 seconds when they met inside the barangay hall of San Roque, Estancia.

 

The controversial police officer said he greeted Mosqueda as a show of respect but the latter gave him dagger looks.

 

Rapiz said he could have been dead if not for their companions inside the barangay hall.

 

Barangay Kagawads Ricardo Anthony and Fred Crispino of San Roque backed up Rapiz’s statements.

 

Atty. Tranquilino Gale assisted Rapiz in preparing the case.

 

Mosqueda refused to comment on the incident saying he has filed a complaint with the Police Regional Office-6.

 

What could be the cause of the confrontation between Rapiz and Mosqueda?

 

Rapiz said over Bombo Radyo that he once refused to provide security to Mosqueda aside from his operations against illegal fishers.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PANAY Power Corp. (PPC), the sole power producer in Iloilo City, has reduced its generation charge by more than P4 since August 2008 because of successive oil price rollbacks in the world and domestic markets.

 

Based on data obtained by The Daily Guardian, PPC’s generation charge in January 2009 was pegged at P8.4119 per kilowatt-hour, down from P13.223/kWh in August 2008.

 

In September 2008, PPC reduced its generation charge to P12.805/kWh. It was further reduced to P12.106/kWh in October 2008.

 

In November 2008, PPC’s generation charge went down to P9.8737/kWh before plummeting to P8.5222/kWh December 2008.

 

Generation charge is the cost of producing energy charged by PPC to Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the city. Peco passes on the generation charge to its consumers.

 

PPC and Peco vowed late last year to lower power rates because of the oil price rollbacks.

 

PPC operates a 72-MW diesel-fired power plant located on a 40-hectare property at Brgy. Ingore, LaPaz, Iloilo City.

 

Global Business Power Corporation, mother company of PPC, plans to put up a 164-MW coal-fired power plant to augment the city’s power supply.

 

The coal-fired power plant is expected to further lower power rates in Iloilo City aside from providing stable power supply.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROBBERY, old grudges and love triangle are the three motives seen in the shooting to death of two female lovers in Dumarao, Capiz Sunday evening.

 

Marlyn Jawili, believed to be a lesbian from Capiz, and her partner Delia De Dios of Passi City, Iloilo died of multiple gunshot wounds in their body.

 

Masked suspects shot the victims at Brgy. Codingle, Dumarao. The suspects took away P70,000 cash and Jawili’s caliber .45 pistol.

 

The victims were alighting from their vehicle when the suspects approached and shot them with caliber .9mm pistol.

 

The Dumarao police said love triangle is one of the possible motives in the incident because de Dios left her husband to live with Jawili.

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