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A witness identifies the Rojas slay suspects (from left) Edgar Cordero, Dennis Cartagena and Lindsey Buenavista who was later spared by the prosecutors.

A witness identifies the Rojas slay suspects (from left) Edgar Cordero, Dennis Cartagena and Lindsey Buenavista who was later spared by the prosecutors. (Click to enlarge image)

 

Who ordered Cordero’s assassination?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHO wants Edgar Cordero, the alleged triggerman of the late Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, dead?

This question is now the focus of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) after learning that Cordero was shot dead by two unidentified suspects at Purok 18, Brgy. Mahay, Butuan, City Friday last week.

Based on reports from the IPPO, Cordero and fellow suspect Dennis Cartagena were riding a motorcycle driven by a certain Jose Bajade when they were accosted by two armed men on board another motorcycle.

Cordero succumbed to two gunshot wounds in his chest and back but Cartagena and Bajade managed to flee unscathed

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz said Cartagena and Cordero, who have a P350,000 reward for their arrest, fled to Butuan City more than a month ago. They also brought their family with them, an indication that someone financed their escape.

The two suspects stayed at Brgy. San Francisco in Butuan City and used the false names Dave Panisales (Cordero) and DJ Herrera (Cartagena).

According to Senior Supt. Jun Dumo, Butuan City police director, Herrera introduced himself as the son of a mayor and would plunge in drinking sprees with their neighbors.

The police uncovered the real identities of two suspects when Nema, Cordero’s wife, tried to claim his body from the funeral parlor. When she failed to present proof that she is Cordero’s spouse, Nema revealed their true identities.

Dumo said he coordinated with the IPPO and asked for the pictures and warrants of arrest of Cordero and Cartagena.

Police arrested Cartagena 2pm Saturday at Brgy. San Francisco. He did not resist, Dumo added.

Senior Supt. dela Paz said they will form a security team that will fetch Cartagena in Butuan City to bring him back to Iloilo.

“We will secure him until he reaches Iloilo, by then we will know the real story behind the killing of vice mayor Rojas and Cordero,” dela Paz said.

Dela Paz said they cannot speculate on the suspects and motive behind Cordero’s death.

DENIAL
Cordero and Cartagena hogged the limelight after they were tagged in Rojas’s assassination May this year.

Based on information from the IPPO, Cordero, a native of Brgy. Sibaguan, Lambunao, Iloilo, is the alleged leader of a robbery gang in Iloilo province and a hired gun.

Cordero was a member of the Roger Palma robbery group before the arrest of their leader early this year. It is believed that he betrayed Palma by tipping authorities of the latter’s whereabouts.

The alleged crimes attributed to Cordero made him the province’s “most wanted person.”

Cartagena, a native of Brgy. Braulan, San Enrique, Iloilo, is believed to be the driver of the motorcycle used in Rojas’s killing.

In an interview over Bombo Radyo Saturday, Cartagena denied any involvement in the Rojas slay case saying he and Cordero were making amakan (mats made from bamboo slats) in Lambunao when the vice mayor was gunned down in Ajuy town proper.

“At my young age, I cannot stomach to kill anyone except if my life is in danger,” Cartagena said.

Cartagena said Cordero invited him to Butuan City where the latter has an uncle with a big coconut plantation.

“He said life here was easy and we can work for his uncle,” he added.

Cartagena said he has been staying at Brgy. San Francisco, Butuan City for two months already. They left Iloilo last June and passed by Bacolod City, Cebu, Surigao before reaching Butuan City.

When they reached Butuan City, Cartagena said they told residents of Brgy. San Francisco that they relocated there after losing their livelihood to typhoon Frank.

When asked if he knows Vicente Espinosa, who was earlier tagged as the mastermind in the Rojas slay case, Cartagena said he only heard the latter’s name in the news “but I don’t know him personally.”

The Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office had dismissed the murder charge against Espinosa for lack of sufficient evidence. Only Cordero and Cartagena were made to face the charges before the Regional Trial Court.

Judge Rogelio Amador of RTC Branch 66 earlier issued a warrant of arrest against Cordero and Cartagena for the murder of vice mayor Rojas.

But witnesses in the murder case claimed Cartagena worked as Espinosa’s bodyguard during the May 2007 elections.

Cartagena said he cannot ascertain who shot them at Brgy. Mahay, Butuan City last Friday saying it was dark.

“We were supposed to go to a birthday party that night. Along the way, we stopped to urinate. Then two persons shot us and hit Edgar,” Cartagena said.

Bajade, the driver of the motorcycle, is now considered a suspect in Cordero’s death and remains at-large.

Nema Cordero also denied her husband’s involvement in the Rojas slay case although she admitted that he was involved in robbery cases in Iloilo.

Nema said they fled to Butuan City for fear that the Rojas family will avenge the vice mayor’s death. She also appealed for help to bring back her husband’s body to Iloilo.

Cartagena said he is willing to face the charges against him.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

UNIDENTIFIED suspects bombed the car of Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong, Iloilo City Police Office intelligence section (S2) chief, around 4 am Sunday.

 

According to the Explosive and Ordnance Division, a F26-A fragmentation grenade was used to blow up Amiyong Mistubishi Lancer parked along road at Brgy. Salvacion-West Habog-Habog, Molo district.

 

Investigation by the Scene of the Crime Operatives said the grenade was thrown at the driver’s seat of the car and damaged the seat, windshield and steering wheel.

 

Some of the shrapnel damaged several houses around the blast scene.

 

Amiyong said the motive for the incident is his campaign against illegal drugs.

 

The intelligence chief said he already has an idea of the suspect but he refused to give any detail.

 

Amiyong was recently involved in the shooting to two alleged drug pushers in General Luna Street, Iloilo City.

 

But Michael “Federico” Dolar and Roy Barsote said Amiyong shot them while passing along General Luna Street for no apparent reason.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE regional director of the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP-6) has been relieved following the assassination of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Reports from the BFP said Fire Supt. Allovel Ferrer, BFP-6 director, will be swap places with Fire Supt. Manuel Badoria of BFP-7 based in Cebu.

 

Earlier, reports said Ferrer has been lobbying for his relief from the BFP-6 because of the possible fall out resulting from del Castillo’s death.

 

The Daily Guardian reported over the weekend that aside from del Castillo, who was shot to death at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo, Iloilo City August 22, two other BFP officials are also targets of hired assassins.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City police director, said they are investigating the alleged plot on the two BFP officials.

 

Allegations of graft and corruption and infighting between BFP officials are some of the motives seen in Del Castillo’s death.

 

Ferrer cannot be reached for comment.

 

Del Castillo was buried Saturday at Forest Lake Memorial Park.

 

The Arevalo police have filed murder charges against suspects Michael Mediana of Maasin, Iloilo and a John Doe.

2 more BFP officials in assassination plot

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TWO ranking officials of the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP-6) are also part of an assassination plot which had already claimed the life of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo a week ago.

 

Sources from the BFP and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) said aside from del Castillo, two BFP officials are also targets of paid assassins.

 

The sources said the “wholesale” assassination plot could be an offshoot of the ongoing rift between BFP officials over allegations of graft and corruption.

 

When pressed for more details, the BFP personnel refused to reveal more information for fear of their lives.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. earlier said squabbles within the BFP could be one of the motives behind del Castillo’s assassination.

 

Gonzalez said he has received information from BFP personnel regarding the dispute between del Castillo and Chief Insp. Lester Gimotea.

 

The dispute has led to the filing of criminal and administrative suits between del Castillo and Gimotea.

ICPO director Bartolome Tobias confirmed the information saying they are looking into the information to preempt another killing. 

 

Senior Supt. Aloveel Ferrer was not available for comment.

 

Del Castillo will be buried today at Forest Lake Memorial park after a necrological service at St. Therese Funeral Chapel in Molo.

 

The Arevalo police have filed cases against three suspects involved in del Castillo’s assassination. The Arevalo police named the suspects as Michael Mediana of Brgy. Burac, Maasin and Nelson Sompio, a former Philippine Army soldier. The third suspect, Jerry Curtom, has surfaced to deny any involvement in the case.

 

Curtom said he was at Brgy. Ayong, Cabatuan, Iloilo when del Castillo was shot Friday last week at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district.

 

Curtom also denied knowing Mediana and Sompio.

 

“I can’t stomach killing another person and I don’t have any criminal record,” he added.

CRIME SCENE The Jaro police and Scene of the Crime operatives scour the duplex house of Adelina Palma-Bermejo who was stabbed to death Thursday by a still unidentified suspect. (FAA)

CRIME SCENE The Jaro police and Scene of the Crime operatives scour the duplex house of Adelina Palma-Bermejo who was stabbed to death Thursday by a still unidentified suspect. (FAA)

 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THREE law enforcement agencies are now investigating the murder of Adelina Palma-Bermejo, aunt of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was stabbed to death inside her home at Brgy. Cubay, Jaro, Iloilo City Thursday.

 

Aside from the Jaro police station and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has also joined the investigation on request of Senator Santiago.

 

In a letter to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Santiago said her aunt could have been a victim of robbery.

 

“My aunt was a retired nurse, a balikbayan from the United States. She was living on her US pension. She was separated a long time ago from her husband. I believed that she was alone and defenseless when she was stabbed in the back. Presumably, the motive was theft, because of her pension,” Santiago said.

 

Bermejo was found dead Thursday in her house at Road 1, Kahirup Village in Barangay Cubay. She lived alone in a duplex house. The other unit was occupied by her son, Dr. Adino Bermejo of Iloilo Doctors Hospital, Santiago said.

 

 

Santiago said a neighbor of Bermejo heard her say, “Come in, Robert,” prior to the murder. Robert is the name of the houseboy of Bermejo’s sister, Liberty Ledesma who lives in Hechanova Street, LaPaz district.

 

 

Santiago said “Robert” was “sometimes sent on errands to the house” of Bermejo.

 

Bermejo was found dead by her sister Rosalina Cinco and brother Victor Palma. A stainless steel knife was still stuck in the victim’s back. She was declared dead on arrival at the West Visayas State University Medical Center past 12pm Thursday.

 

Gonzalez said he has ordered the NBI to help investigate and immediately resolve Bermejo’s case.

 

“Normally we allow the police to do their work but in cases like this the NBI must enter the picture. The NBI has more resources and expertise when it comes to crime detection and investigation,” Gonzalez said.

 

As of late Thursday afternoon, the NBI has identified the suspect who is a native of a central Iloilo town but refused to elaborate pending their hot pursuit operations.

 

Eddie Peñaflor, caretaker of Kahirup Village, said a certain “Robert” asked him around 11am the other day if Bermejo was home.

 

Peñaflor said he asked Robert his purpose for visiting the victim.

 

“He said he wanted to apply as driver but I told him that Bermejo’s car is under repair after it went under floodwater last June,” Peñaflor said.

 

Peñaflor said Robert proceeded to Bermejo’s house and knocked on her gate. When the victim learned that her visitor was Robert, she invited him inside her house.

 

The village caretaker then heard Bermejo raise her voice at Robert saying “You always ask for cash advances but you don’t pay back.”

 

“The scolding went on for some 30 minutes and after that the house went quiet. I was later surprised when Rosalina Cinco shouted for help saying her sister was stabbed,” Peñaflor said.

 

The Jaro police and the Scene of the Crime Operatives led by Chief Insp. Arnold Bancaya said the drawers and closets in Bermejo’s duplex were ransacked by the suspect.

 

WHO IS ROBERT?

Liberty Palma-Ledesma, a sister of the victim, confirmed that Robert is her househelp.

 

Ledesma said over Aksyon Radyo that Robert sometimes ran errands for Bermejo. He also recommended a cousin to work for the victim.

 

Ledesma also recounted that Bermejo once ran into trouble with a former househelp identified only as Evelyn. But the dispute, which involved alleged maltreatment of the helper, was amicably settled.

 

Ledesma said the motive for her sister’s death may be robbery or retaliation by her former workers.

 

“She’s very strict and does not easily trust strangers,” Ledesma added.

 

Dimpna Palma-Defensor, mother of Senator Santiago, said her sister was very security cautious and had a tendency to fight back.

 

Dimpna said the victim did not keep large amount of money in her house.

 

“Maybe she only has P10,000 with her but for a poor man that is a large amount,” she added.

Neighbors carry the wounded Adelina Palma-Bermejo to the Jaro police car. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)

Neighbors carry the wounded Adelina Palma-Bermejo to the Jaro police car. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AN aunt of Ilongga Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was stabbed to death shortly before noon Thursday.

 

Adelina Palma-Bermejo, 74, of Kahirup Subdivision, Brgy. Cubay, Jaro, Iloilo City died at the West Visayas State University Medical Center despite attempts by doctors to save her life. Initial findings of the Jaro police station show the victim suffered four stab wounds in her body.

 

 

Rosalina Palma-Cinco, a sister of Bermejo, found the victim bathed in her own blood with a 12-inch stainless steel knife still sticking in her back.

Cinco, who lived three houses away from the victim, said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo she was supposed to bring lunch to the victim when she discovered the crime.

 

Responding Jaro police officers and neighbors of the victim rushed her to the hospital onboard the police patrol.

 

According to witness Eddie Peñaflor, who is now in police custody, said a man asked him around 11 am if Bermejo was inside her home because he wants to apply as driver. But Peñaflor told the man that Bermejo’s car is under repair.

 

Still, knocked on Bermejo’s gate. When the victim asked for the visitor’s name, the man answered “Robert.”

 

Peñaflor then heard Bermejo invite “Robert” inside her house.

 

A brother of Bermejo, who asked not to be identified, said they saw bloodstains in the second and ground floors of the house. The victim’s room was also in disarray indicating that the suspect may have robbed some valuables.

 

“She once hired a driver named Robert. Maybe the motive is robbery because her room was ransacked,” the brother said.

 

The brother said Bermejo lives alone in her two-storey house although they have been warning her to be careful and not to be complacent with strangers.

Bermejo and Senator Santiago’s mother are sisters.

 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday went to the home of a suspect but he was nowhere to be found.

 

According to NBI sources, the suspect once worked for Bermejo but left after one week. The suspect is a resident of central Iloilo, the sources added.

 

Senior Insp. Harry Decena, Jaro police chief, said Bermejo once sought their help after an unspecified spat with her former househelp.

 

“That problem was resolved later but we assured that we will check on her from time to time,” Decena said.

 

Bermejo’s murder is the latest in the series of killings happening in Iloilo City the past months.

IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)
IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)

 

PNP inspector laments shabby ICPO offices

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

LAW enforcers of Iloilo City are not safe even in their own backyard.

 

A member of the PNP general inspection team presently doing rounds on PNP field offices in Region 6 raised the hazardous situation of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) compound in General Luna Street, Iloilo City proper district.

 

The inspector, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, is part of the group conducting the Annual General Inspection-Operational Readiness Security Inspection and Test Evaluation (AGI-ORSITE).

 

The AGI-ORSITE team from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame tests and evaluates the preparedness and skills of police offices in carrying out their tasks.

 

The inspector, who is also a ranking police official, said the top problem of the ICPO is the structural stability and safety of its own headquarters.

 

“It’s a fire hazard. The floors are creaking and the roofs are leaking. We don’t know what will happen with that place. It might burst in fire because of its substandard structure,” the inspector said referring to the ICPO buildings.

 

The inspector particularly pointed out the Old Constabulary Building (OCB), which houses the Traffic Management and Engineering Unit (TMEU) in the second floor and the Crime Records Section (CRIS) in the ground area, as one wobbly structure in the compound. “When I stepped inside the building, the floor was making crazy noises, they creak, a sign that it is weak already. Repairs might not suffice. What it needs is rehabilitation,” he added.

 

TMEU personnel reached by The Daily Guardian affirmed the observations of the ORSITE inspector saying their office sometimes shake when they move around.

 

TDG photojournalist Tara Yap also noticed twisted electrical wirings which are potential fire hazards, and holes on the wooden floor and walls of the TMEU office. 

 

During heavy rains, ICPO personnel said they catch water leaking from the roof using plastic pails.

 

Aside from the TMEU and CRIS, the compound also houses the Iloilo City proper police station and ICPO administrative sections in the right portion of the OCB.

 

There is also an old house near a star apple tree which serves as sleeping quarters of ICPO personnel and another structure beside the OCB used by the Regional Mobile Group deployed in the city.

 

The Women and Children’s Concern Section, Iloilo City Jail and center for the mentally-challenged were constructed recently.

 

Citing the situation in other urban areas, the AGI-ORSITE inspector said other police offices strictly observe fire safety standards in their respective offices.

Pag hindi nasunod yun, tatamaan ang Bureau of Fire (Protection) at ang police mismo. It would be ironic that we are law enforcers but we cannot keep up with regulations,” he said.

 

Aside from the safety of the police officers occupying the compound, the inspector is also concerned with the comfort of ordinary people transacting business with ICPO offices.

 

“If we want good public service, the environment must be safe and comfortable to our clients,” he said

 

The ORSITE inspector said the sorry state of the ICPO headquarters will not only reflect on the PNP personnel and organization but also on the city government.

 

“In Guimaras, the municipal halls and police stations are in better conditions. We don’t want to criticize the city government or hurt the feelings of our officials. We just want to let everybody know the problem with the offices here because the national headquarters is willing to fund the rehabilitation provided the local government will donate the lot as its share in the project,” he said.

 

The inspector said they will incorporate in next year’s AGI-ORSITE the condition of police offices so they can keep up with safety standards.

DEED OF USUFRUCT

The ICPO compound sits on a lot owned by the Loring family.

 

City Councilor Erwin “Tongtong” Plagata, committee on police matters chair, said the Lorings allowed the ICPO to use the property through a deed of usufruct.

 

Usufruct is the legal right to use and derive profit or benefit from property that belongs to another person, as long as the property is not damaged. In many legal usufruct systems of property, such as the traditional ejido system in Mexico, individuals or groups may only acquire the usufruct of the property, not legal land ownership.

 

“As long as the ICPO uses the lot, they can stay there. It would be better to check if the deed of usufruct allows development in the property such as improvement of buildings,” Plagata said.

 

Former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao had pledged P10 million for the ICPO rehabilitation provided the city government gives the lot to the ICPO.

 

But the deed of usufruct and uncertainty on whether the lot owners are willing to give the property to City Hall stalled the planned rehabilitation.

 

Plagata said the city government can enter into a land swap deal with the ICPO lot owners or the PNP can look for other locations.

 

“The usufruct is the reason why we implement piecemeal repairs at the ICPO. Camp Crame must also look for a possible location if the usufruct disallows major developments. But the city government is also doing its part to resolve this matter,” Plagata said.

 

Plagata also said he does not believe that the OCB cannot be touched because it is considered a heritage building.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MURDER charges will be filed this week against the alleged gunman of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, said they are refining their case against the triggerman who is believed to be a resident of Iloilo province.

 

Tobias said eyewitnesses identified the suspect through his photographs.

 

The ICPO chief said they also provided security to the witnesses after receiving reports that they are being threatened.

 

“As a matter of procedure, we secure the witnesses to prevent the suspects from harming or influencing them. We will file the case as soon as possible,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said they continue to check the background of the gunman, particularly his criminal records.

 

Del Castillo was walking towards their home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district Friday afternoon when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him with a caliber .45 pistol.

 

Tobias is still cautious to reveal the motive for del Castillo’s murder “but we are continuously liaising with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the victim’s family.”

 

“There are a lot of angles and until the investigation is finished, we cannot speculate,” he added.

NOT YET ALARMING

Tobias also allayed fears of local leaders and the business community of the reported presence of hired killers in Iloilo City.

 

“I don’t think the situation is alarming but we advise our people to be vigilant against suspicious looking persons. Please report to us any unusual event or strange persons in your communities,” he added.

 

Intelligence operatives of the ICPO are now monitoring the reports and movements of alleged assassins in the city, Tobias said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHO among the police officers in Iloilo City will be banished to war-torn Mindanao for alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade?

 

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he has a list of policemen allegedly protecting drug lords in the city. The names included in the list are likely candidates for a tour of duty in Mindanao, he said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo yesterday.

 

Gonzalez said he will submit the list to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno for possible reassignment of the purported drug lord coddlers.

 

Most of the police officers included in the list are Senior Police Officers 3, Gonzalez added.

 

The DOJ chief earlier said he will recommend to Puno and PNP Director General Avelino Razon the transfer of cops suspected to be in cahoots with illegal drug traders and other criminal syndicates.

 

Gonzalez said the prospect of facing Muslim rebels in Mindanao might convince erring cops to reform.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said Gonzalez has yet to coordinate the latter’s proposal to transfer some Iloilo City cops to Mindanao.

Cuevas said it is up to the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame to order the reassignment provided it is necessary. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TOP Ilonggo officials challenged the Iloilo City Police Office to solve the rash of killings in the city even as they assured that the metropolis remains peaceful and orderly.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he is concerned with the recent spate of murder cases in the city the past weeks.

 

The latest incident is the assassination of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo who was gunned down in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

Del Castillo was walking home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him to death.

 

Prior to del Castillo’s killing, American national Daniel John Chabra was stabbed to death inside his apartment also in Arevalo.

 

Eddie Pedrajas, believed to be a relative of a suspected drug lord in the city, was also gunned down in Jaro district more than a week ago.

 

Gonzalez said he has directed Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, to heighten their operations and resolve the three incidents.

 

“I want results when I come back next Saturday. I will not allow the peace and quiet of the city to be disturbed,” Gonzalez said.

 

The justice department said he will also discuss the peace and order situation in the city with Police Regional Office-6 director Isagani Cuevas.

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the metropolis is still peaceful and orderly despite the gruesome killings.

 

Treñas said it is up to Tobias to do his best to solve the cases.

DEL CASTILLO CASE

Meanwhile, the Arevalo police continues to deepen their investigation on the del Castillo slay case.

Chief Inspector Federico Silvestre, Arevalo police chief, said one of the angles they are following is del Castillo’s spat with his colleagues at the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

 

Silvestre said the del Castillo’s wife revealed some information to them relative to the intra-office dispute involving the slain fire official.

 

The Arevalo police have profiled del Castillo’s shooter based on eyewitness accounts. The suspect is believed to be a former security guard and a native of Maasin, Iloilo who has standing warrants of arrest of various criminal charges.

 

But Silvestre said they are continue to establish the identity and involvement of the suspect in the slay case “because this is a heinous crime and we want to make sure of our case.”

 

“If we make a mistake, it would be hard for us to start from square one,” he added.

 

Secretary Gonzalez said he also received information on the squabble between del Castillo and other BFP officials.

 

Gonzalez said issues of corruption, personal grudge and professional rivalry may have something to do with del Castillo’s death.

“I already gave the lead to Cuevas, Tobias and the National Bureau of Investigation. It is up to them to develop their case,” Gonzalez added. 

President Gloria Arroyo pays respect to slain Lt. Colonel Angel Benitez at their home in Remonville Subdivision, Jaro, Iloilo City. (Rey Baniquet/Malacañang photo)

President Gloria Arroyo pays respect to slain Lt. Colonel Angel Benitez at their home in Remonville Subdivision, Jaro, Iloilo City. (Rey Baniquet/Malacañang photo)

The family of Marine Corporal Angel Abeto – sister Annie Grace, mother Sonia, wife Daisy and uncle Gerry Casandra – talk to the media before meeting the President. (FAA)

The family of Marine Corporal Angel Abeto – sister Annie Grace, mother Sonia, wife Daisy and uncle Gerry Casandra – talk to the media before meeting the President. (FAA)

Benitez’s widow to Gloria: Help our kids’ education

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

JUSTICE for the slain soldiers and modernization of AFP equipment were the main messages the bereaved families of two slain soldiers relayed to President Gloria Arroyo yesterday.

 

President Arroyo arrived in Iloilo City from Cebu to pay respect to slain Lt. Colonel Angel Benitez at their home in Remonville Subdivision, Jaro district.

 

Clad in black blouse and pants, the President was met by Benitez’s widow, the former Ma. Elena “Kooky” Antenor-Cruz. The media was barred from covering the meeting inside the Benitez residence.

 

Aside from financial and livelihood assistance, Mrs. Benitez said she asked the President to give justice to her husband’s brutal death in the hands of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members.

 

“I asked the President to give justice to my husband because he was brutally killed. Justice is enough for us. They are saying that he died a hero but I lost my husband and the kids lost their papa,” Kooky said.

 

Benitez’s widow said she hopes the government will do its best to eliminate the MILF “for the peace of our country.”

 

Mrs. Benitez said she was concerned with the education of her four children who are still in high school and elementary.

 

“I talked to the President about the education of the children. That’s the most important thing right now. I want them to finish their college education so they will have a good future,” Mrs. Benitzez said, adding Mrs. Arroyo assured them that she will help.

 

“I told her that I don’t want to be assured verbally because with what happened to my husband, the children deserve a better future right now,” she added.  

 

Lt. Col. Benitez and Kooky have four children – Twinkle, 15; Carlo Luis, 13; Vincent Jaime, 11; and Mark Angelo, 9.

 

“The children were happy because the President went here to visit us and pay respect to their father. They were surprised that she came over.”

MODERNIZE THE AFP

The family of Corporal Angelo Abeto of Mandurriao, Iloilo City was also present at the Benitez residence to meet President Arroyo.

 

Corporal Abeto’s wife Daisy, mother Sonia, sister Annie Grace and uncle Gerry Casandra were in tow to see the President.

 

Daisy said her husband’s death should serve as a lesson to the government to immediately respond to soldier’s wounded in the battlefield.

 

Abeto, who was wounded in a skirmish with the MILF last August 11, waited for four hours before he can be airlifted to Cebu for treatment. He died of massive blood loss and was buried Friday last week.

 

Abeto’s plea for help was aired by a giant TV network covering the Mindanao conflict.

 

“I feel bad because it took a long time before he can be flown to the hospital. It’s okay if we lost him as long as he was given immediate attention,” Daisy said.

 

Annie Grace, who is blind, said she asked the President to help her finish her political science course because her slain brother was the only one who supported her studies.

 

Annie Grace is a member of the Philippine track and field Paralympics team.

 

Casandra said his nephew’s death should prod the national government to modernize the AFP assets to facilitate evacuation of wounded soldiers. He also asked the President to eliminate the MILF in an “all out war” lest more families will lose their relatives to the Mindanao conflict.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said the Abetos will receive a house and lot from the Gawad Kalinga project.

 

Gonzalez accompanied the President during the meeting with the Benitez and Abeto families to hear their requests.

 

“All the benefits will be given to the bereaved families. In fact, part of it was already given to them. What is important is that we will pursue the killers of our soldiers,” Gonzalez said.

Two motives eyed in del Castillo slay;

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PERSONAL grudge and his work as Iloilo provincial fire marshal are two of the possible motives seen by the police in the murder of Supt. Casiano del Castillo in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

This, even as the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) claimed they have identified the triggerman who shot del Castillo five times resulting in his death.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said witnesses were able to identify the gunman through his picture.

 

Tobias refused to name the suspect although he said the gunman is a native of Iloilo province.

 

The ICPO chief said they looking into del Castillo’s work at the Bureau of Fire Prevention and previous disputes to determine the motive for his assassination.

 

“We are carefully eliminating other motives and we are now focusing on these two angles,” he added.

 

In several radio interviews, the victim’s wife Rose del Castillo told her about his falling out with a colleague although she did not elaborate.

 

Rose said her husband advised them to be careful after receiving death threats days before he was gunned down.

 

Del Castillo was walking to their home at Landheights Subdivision in Arevalo district when two motorcycle persons waylaid him with a caliber .45 pistol. The victim died at the Saviour International Hospital in Mandurriao district.

 

The victim recently exposed several anomalies at the BFP, particularly missing high-powered firearms, repair of fire trucks sans competitive bidding and questionable recruitment of firefighters.

 

Del Castillo traced the alleged anomalies to his predecessor, former provincial fire marshal Edga Gimotea, who also happens to be his wedding godfather.

 

In the middle of exposé, del Castillo criticized Gimotea for allegedly maintaining a lending business inside the BFP regional office in Aduana Street, Iloilo City proper.

 

The word war prompted Gimotea to file perjury cases against del Castillo.

 

Before he was shot last week, del Castillo went to the Iloilo Hall of Justice to file his counter affidavit to the perjury case.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he also received last August 19 a letter from Gimotea detailing his dispute with del Castillo.

 

Gonzalez said he is willing to order the National Bureau of Investigation to probe del Castillo’s death if the latter’s family seeks his help.

 

The Bureau of Fire Prevention has condemned del Castillo’s murder.

 

Fire Sr. Inspector Bartolome Billaran said they were shocked with the incident even as they assured to help their fallen colleague’s family.

HIRED KILLERS

Tobias said it is possible that the suspects in del Castillo’s death are hired killers.

 

This piece of information jived with the investigation of the Jaro police that paid assassins gunned down Edgar Pedrajas a week ago. Pedrajas is a relative of a suspected drug lord allegedly operating in Iloilo City.

 

According to the Jaro police, the gunmen stayed and planned the killing in a house in Iloilo City.

 

Tobias said they also received reports of the purported team of assassins in Iloilo City although he allayed fears raised on their presence and the series of killings.

 

The AFP also released reports that sparrow hit men of the New People’s Army were spotted in Arevalo plaza, not far from the area where del Castillo was killed.

 

Tobias said the whole ICPO force is on alert against any incursions by the assassins spotted in the city.

 

Since he assumed the ICPO helm, Tobias was confronted by a series of killings including the case of American Daniel John Chabra, Pedrajas and del Castillo.

A man lights a candle on the spot where Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo fell after two suspects shot him in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday afternoon. (Photo by Tara Yap.)

A man lights a candle on the spot where Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo fell after two suspects shot him in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday afternoon. (Photo by Tara Yap.)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

UNIDENTIFIED assassins gunned down a top official of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP-6) late afternoon Friday in Arevalo, Iloilo City.

 

Senior Supt. Casiano del Castillo, Iloilo provincial fire marshal, was walking towards his home at Phase 2 Landheights Subdivision in Brgy. Quezon, Arevalo around 5 pm yesterday when two masked persons on board a motorcycle approached and shot him with a pistol.

 

Witnesses said the gunmen slowed down some five meters from del Castillo and shot the victim five times.

 

Punong Barangay Oscar Montaño said del Castillo was hit in the nape and the back. He also tried to chase the suspects but he changed his mind lest he will be shot too.

 

Montaño said he heard one of the suspects shout “Alleluia” after shooting the BFP official.

 

Del Castillo died at the Great Saviour International Hospital in Brgy. Tabucan, Mandurriao, Iloilo City past 6 pm. He succumbed to four gunshot wounds in the abdomen, chest and nape, according to initial information from the hospital.

 

The Arevalo police and Scene of the Crime Operatives recovered four spent shells of caliber .45 ammunitions.

In an interview over Aksyon Radyo, Del Castillo’s wife said the victim already warned her to be careful after receiving threats from unidentified parties. The victim and his neighbors also noticed suspicious looking persons staking out the del Castillo house in Landheights Subdivision past months. 

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office director, said it is possible that hired guns shot del Castillo because of the swiftness and precision of the hit.

 

Del Castillo hogged the headlines the previous months after exposing the alleged loan shark business and other irregularities inside the BFP office in Aduana Street, Iloilo City proper. His exposé implicated retired provincial fire marshal Edgar Gimotea as the owner of the alleged lending business.

 

The slain BFP official also claimed that four Armalite rifles, two Carbines and two 12-gauge shotguns went missing while Gimotea was still the provincial fire marshal.

 

Gimotea hit back at del Castillo by revealing the latter’s purported anomalies as incumbent provincial fire marshal. The exposés led to the filing of criminal and administrative cases from both sides.

 

Prior to the shooting, Del Castillo filed his counter affidavit with Prosecutor Jeremy Bionat at the Hall of Justice relative to the perjury case filed by Gimotea.

 

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, Gimotea’s counsel, said he was shocked with del Castillo’s killing even as he defended his client from any involvement in the case.

 

“There was nothing personal between them and we were shocked with what happened,” Romero said.

 

Incidentally, Gimotea is del Castillo’s wedding godfather.

DENR Secretary Jose "Lito" Atienza

DENR Secretary Jose Atienza

But DENR Sec. Atienza vows to act on it pronto

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assured Ilonggos that no foreign interests can influence its decision relative to the proposed construction of a coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

 

DENR Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza said he has finished his personal assessment of Global Business Power Corp.’s (GBPC) application for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the coal-fired power plant proposed at Brgy. Ingore in LaPaz district.

 

Atienza said it took his office some eight months to decide on the ECC application because “we studied very, very closely all the details and the requirements for the environmental clearance of this project.”

 

The DENR secretary said his decision “will be on the basis of what is good for us, not on what is being dictated from the outside.”

 

Ayaw ko nung pinakikialaman tayo ng mga banyaga dito sa anuman ang kailangan natin sa ating bansa. In our country, available ang coal. Tinitingnan natin papano natin magagamit ito sa ating pakinabang, but foreigners are telling us not to use them because it will pollute the world. But I say to them, they are the ones polluting the world, why don’t we look at them rather than them looking at us,” Atienza said, apparently taking a swipe at environmental groups opposing the project.

 

When asked on when he will act on the application, he said “immediately today.”

 

“I already heard all the positions. This is the last step in my own personal assessment. I will act on it as soon as I get back to Manila. Talagang strong proponent kayo for the project,” Atienza said when asked if he will approve the ECC.

 

The DENR chief arrived in Iloilo City Friday for the regional launching of the People’s Hour at the Department of Education Social Hall.

 

The People’s Hour gives the public the chance to face top DENR officials and air their problems and concerns relative to the agency’s programs and activities. 

IN-DEPTH STUDY

Atienza said his office made sure that the process and technology that will be used in the proposed coal-fired power plant will not harm the environment.

 

“I have to make sure of the data submitted to us. I have to make sure that the process and technology will be an environment-protecting one. I have to make sure that it will be good to the economy. And I have to be doubly sure that it will be good for Iloilo residents. Lahat ng ito nagpapatagal ng desisyon,” he said.

 

He also cited the economic benefits of the coal-fired power plant in considering the ECC application of GBPC.

 

“Coal-fired power plants are technologies that have given Europe and America a big advantage in world economy. You may not know it but 500 to 600 power plants in the US are run by coal that’s why their cost of electricity is very cheap,” he said.

 

Atienza said he also went abroad to study coal-fired power plant technologies, particularly the type being proposed by GBPC.

 

“I went all the way to Taipei on my own, not on the invitation of anyone, just to make sure that the technology that they are offering here works in Taipei. What I saw was impressive. There is a coal plant in an industrial zone producing microchips. The production of microchips requires a totally pollution-free surrounding. If the coal plant is polluting, all semi-conductor and microchip plants in the surroundings will close down. In short, there is such a thing as a pollution-free coal-fired power plant. If that is the technology that we are going to use in Iloilo, definitely I will be impressed. But if the technology does not pass our judgment, then we will not approve it,” he said.

 

The DENR secretary said he also heard the side of anti-coal groups who raised concerns on the perceived environmental effects of the project.  

 

As far as protecting the environment is concerned, we are one with all the advocates for environmental protection and those who are against this project. But as far as the welfare of our people is concerned, the national economy and the welfare of the Iloilo residents are concerned we are going to be on their side all the time. We will consider both sides – environmental protection and welfare of the Iloilo residents who are in bad need of additional power source,” he said.

Norberto Manero

Norberto Manero

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL the Ilaga vigilante group have its second coming and fight Muslim rebels who went on a rampage in Mindanao lately?

For convicted priest killer and former Ilaga leader Norberto “Kumander Bucay” Manero Jr., such a scenario is very possible if members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continue to sow violence.

Manero arrived in Iloilo City the other night to visit the wake of the Lt. Colonel Angel Benitez who was killed in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte Monday morning.

Manero, a native of Brgy. Madong, Janiuay, Iloilo, once led the Ilaga group, composed mostly of Ilonggos based in Mindanao, which fought off Muslim rebels in the 1970s to the mid 1980s.

Manero and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for the brutal murder of Italian priest Fr. Tullio Favali. Favali, then parish priest of Kidapawan, North Cotabato was shot to death by Manero and his gang April 11, 1985 in La Esperanza, Tulunan, North Cotabato.

The gang boasted of killing Favali as an example to other church people accused of supporting the revolutionary movement.

Manero, who supposedly ate the brains of Favali, was pardoned and released from jail early this year.

In several radio interviews, Manero said it is possible that the Ilaga group will emerge from the doldrums and avenge innocent Christians who died in the hands of MILF members.

He added the Ilaga are ready to regroup to avenge the slain Christians.

“If the MILF does not control the situation, the Ilaga can always rise,” Manero said in Hiligaynon.

Manero, however, did not confirm if he will return to his old group and lead the fight against the MILF rebels.

Yesterday, a photograph of armed Ilaga members led by a certain Kumander Toothpick was seen in a national daily.

Malacañang has warned the Ilaga or any vigilante group to refrain from joining the fray with the MILF lest they face criminal charges. 

The Ilaga group, according to popular accounts, was born in the 1960s primarily to protect Christian settlers against Muslims resisting the government’s settlement program.

The group was organized by the so-called Magnificent Seven, a group of seven Ilonggo mayors in Mindanao. However, the Ilagas became as notorious as their Moro adversaries. Among the noted personalities associated with the Ilaga were Leonarda “Kumander Inday” Lacson, Manero’s wife, and Feliciano Luces alias “Kumander Toothpick” who was from Antique.

The Mindanaoans branded the “Ilaga” (Hiligaynon for “rat”) as an acronym for “Ilonggo Land Grabbers Association.”

In the 1972 elections, Col. Carlos B. Cajelo of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo — who nurtured the Ilaga Movement, defeated Datu Udtog Matalam as governor of Cotabato in Central Mindanao, and served as the longest elected governor of the province for 12 years.

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico ushers his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. inside the session hall before the executive meeting on the supplemental budget. (FAA)

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico ushers his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. inside the session hall before the executive meeting on the supplemental budget. (FAA)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE much-hyped meeting between Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and Vice Governor Rolex Suplico Wednesday did not break the budget standoff between the executive and legislative departments.

But the meeting somehow gave the top officials probable options to prevent the provincial government from running out of funds for the salaries and wages of employees.

The closed-door executive conference was held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall past 3pm with Alfonso Bedonia, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assistant regional director, as the main resource person.

Capitol department heads who accompanied Tupas in the meeting were provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna III, provincial treasurer Corazon Beloria, provincial budget officer Elena Lim and provincial planning and development officer Mario Nillos.

Also present were board members Jeneda Salcedo, Jett Rojas, Macario Napulan, June Mondejar, Richard Garin, Rodolfo Cabado and Shalene Hidalgo.

The main topic of the meeting was the augmentation and supplemental budget Tupas submitted to the SP to replenish funds for Capitol operations.

A budget impasse is gripping the provincial government after the DBM declared as inoperative the 2008 budget approved by the SP.

Thus, the Capitol is now operating on the reenacted 2007 budget which is limited only to appropriations for salaries and wages of existing positions; statutory and contractual obligations; and essential operating expenses authorized in the annual and supplemental budgets for the preceding year.

Suplico said the Local Government Code prohibits approval of augmentation or supplemental budgets under a reenacted budget.

But Bedonia said the DBM might agree with a supplemental budget for the salaries increase of capitol employees since it is part of the mandatory expenses allowed under a reenacted budget.

The national government recently approved a 10-percent salary increase for all national and local public employees.

Bedonia said DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya will review the supplemental budget once it is approved by the SP.

Suplico said they have two options to make to solve the problem – pass the entire supplemental budget or approve the appropriations for the salaries and wages of workers.

The vice governor said they will carefully study the issue so that they will not be charged with illegal disbursement of funds.

HER FALLEN HERO Cookie Benitez tends to the remains of her husband, Lt. Col. Angel Benitez, at their home in Jaro, Iloilo City. Benitez was the highest ranking officer killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Lanao del Norte since 2005.  (Photo by Tara Yap)

HER FALLEN HERO Kooky Benitez tends to the remains of her husband, Lt. Col. Angel Benitez, at their home in Jaro, Iloilo City. Benitez was the highest ranking officer killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Lanao del Norte since 2005. (Photo by Tara Yap)

 

 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

LT. COLONEL Angel Benitez of Naguillan, La Union province had always been a high flier during his entire military career which began at the Philippine Military Academy.

The 40-year-old Benitez, a member of PMA Bigkis Lahi Class 1990, was the highest military official killed by Moro rebels since Col. Dennis Villanueva of the 53rd Infantry Battalion was killed in Panamao, Sulu in 2005.

Benitez died in an ambush staged by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte Monday morning. He was on his way to report as the new intelligence officer of the military’s anti-terrorist Joint Task Force Tabak.

Military reports said Benitez, who was previously assigned as executive officer of the Army’s 102nd Brigade, died of a gunshot wound in the forehead. Two of his security escorts died and two others were injured in the ambush.

Benitez is married to the former Ma. Elena “Kooky” Antenor-Cruz, 37, of Jaro, Iloilo City.

Kooky said her husband always strived to excel in his schooling and trainings because of his dream to go up the military establishment.

“He even joked that I would become the first lady of the AFP because he will become chief of staff,” Kooky said.

Benitez finished No. 1 in the Scout Ranger and military intelligence and psy-ops courses. He also finished at the head of his class at the General Staff College (GSC) this year after taking a course required for promotion to full colonel.

Kooky said her husband last went home (their house is at Remonville, Brgy. Balantang, Jaro) last July 31 and returned to Mindanao August 10.

Angel and Kooky were married for 17 years and have four children.

The last message Kooky received from her husband was around 4:37am Monday asking about their situation. By 4:45am, she learned that her husband was in the middle of an ambush.

Kooky said she did not want Angel to be assigned to Mindanao “but he has a career pattern to follow because of his dream to succeed.”

Angel’s brother Roy said the former always wanted to become a soldier and took inspiration from their father who fought in World War 2.

Roy said he last saw Angel July 29 during the burial of an uncle.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Army chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado visited the wake of Benitez Wednesday evening.

Teodoro said Benitez is a modern day hero who did not shirk from his duties and responsibilities to the country.

Ibrado facilitated the transfer of Benitez’s remains from Mindanao to Iloilo.

The Benitez family is waiting for their mother to arrive from the Unites States before burying the fallen soldier end of this month. (With reports from Aksyon Radyo, RMN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ileco 1 general manager Wilfred Billena (right) and Ileco 2 president Dennis Ventilacion explain the purpose of the Panay Guimaras Power Consortium. (FAA)

Ileco 1 general manager Wilfred Billena (right) and Ileco 2 president Dennis Ventilacion explain the purpose of the Panay Guimaras Power Consortium. (FAA)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ELECTRIC cooperatives in Panay and Guimaras are racing against time in their search for power suppliers that can provide stable electricity by 2011.

The seven electric cooperatives in Panay-Guimaras said they are facing very serious power shortage with the looming expiration of their contract with the National Power Corp. (Napocor) after 2010.

This problem prompted the cooperatives to form the Panay Guimaras Power Consortium (PGPC) that will represent their interests, especially their increasing demand for electricity.

Engr. Wilfred Billena, Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 1 general manager and interim consortium president, said they have been looking for power producers that can supply stable and cheap electricity to their franchise areas.

Billena yesterday led the opening of the bids submitted by five independent power producers in Panay-Guimaras areas.

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, Ileco 2 president, said they cannot extend their power supply contract with Napocor because it is being privatized by the national government.

“They (Napocor) will not anymore renew the contract because of the privatization. We are now looking for other sources of electricity for our requirements from 2011 onwards,” Ventilacion said. 

Ventilacion said the Napocor contracts of Aklan and Capiz electric cooperatives will expire December this year “and they will have to look for their suppliers.”

“What they have now is a transition supply contract which will sustain the electricity supply to their consumers. The contract however is very limited because Napocor cannot anymore expand its capacity. This limited contract will mean a community cannot grow because of limited power supply,” Ventilacion added.

Billena said another problem besetting the cooperatives is the “assignability clause” which favors buyers of Napocor assets.

“Let us take for example the Dingle power plant. Under the assignability clause, the contract of a cooperative will be assigned to the new owner of the Dingle plant which might yield higher power rates because the plant is purely diesel. That is causing fear among the cooperatives,” Billena said.

Billena said another purpose of the consortium is to stabilize the price of electricity in Panay-Guimaras area once the proposed power plants are operational.

“To ascertain the future prices of electricity, we formed the consortium which will look and negotiate with power producers. We don’t want prices of electricity to be erratic that’s so we can plan our future growth.

Billena said they are looking for power producers that can provide electricity “24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.”

“We need a base plant considering the growth rate of the Panay-Guimaras area. That is why we are conducting the bidding so that we can get steady power supply at the cheapest cost,” he added.

A total of five power suppliers tendered their bids to PGPC including Trans-Asia Oil and the Global Business Power Corp.-DM Consunji Inc. consortium which will use coal to produce electricity.

The other bidders include firms using biomass and hydroelectric power but their bids may only be for peaking, not baseload.

Atty. Salvador Cabaluna, Ileco 1 director, said the PCPC members will evaluate the bids before they reconvene next month.

“We will evaluate the bids not just in terms of their prices but also their capability to provide stable electricity supply,” Cabaluna said.

Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong

Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE intelligence section (S2) chief of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) will be investigated for his role in the shooting of two persons in General Luna Street, Iloilo City early morning Sunday.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said the investigation on Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong will determine whether or not Amiyong was involved in the shooting of Federico Dolar and Roy Barsote around 2am Sunday near the Infante flyover.

According to the Iloilo City Police Station 1 blotter reports, Amiyong said he and a certain Lito were trying to nab Dolar and Barsote in a buy-bust operation but the duo shot him while he was approaching.

This certain Lito turned out to be Lito Jimena, a former media barker for politicians during elections.

Amiyong said it was Jimena who developed the operation against Dolar and Barsote since last week.

A running gun battle ensued which wounded Barsote in his back while Dolar was unscathed.

Dolar, who is now detained at the ICPS-1 jail, said they were passing by the flyover area when Amiyong and Lito shot them with a caliber .45 pistol.

Barsote was brought to the Iloilo Doctors Hospital where he is fighting for his life, the bullet was still lodged in his body as of presstime.

ICPS-1 investigators recovered from the scene of the incident a caliber .38 revolver with two spent shells and four live ammunitions and two spent shells of caliber .45 bullets.

No illegal drugs and marked money, however, were found in the possession of Dolar and Barsote.

Yesterday, radio reports came out accusing Dolar and Barsote as part of a syndicate that pilfers fuel from the heavy equipment of Hanjin Co., contractor of the ongoing Iloilo Flood Control Project.

The reports also implicated Amiyong to the alleged pilferage of Hanjin equipment based in Brgy. Balabago, Jaro.

Dolar and Barsote were also tagged in a grenade throwing incident at the tanod (auxiliary police) detachment of Brgy. Balabago, which is believed to be related to the pilferage controversy.

Tobias said he has knowledge of the allegations against Amiyong “that is why we will initiate an investigation on the matter.”

“These are very sensitive information involving one of our officers and we want to give him the chance to explain his side. We can’t conclude anything as of now because all these are still unconfirmed reports,” Tobias said.

If Amiyong is found to be involved in the alleged rackets, Tobias said they will be compelled to relieve the S2 chief pending the administrative investigation against him.

Tobias said their investigation is aimed at gathering facts surrounding the Sunday shootout and the allegations against Amiyong.

“We can then proceed with the administrative investigation on Amiyong if the facts merit so,” he added.

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, ICPS-1 chief, said they are still waiting for Amiyong to undergo paraffin test by the PNP Crime Laboratory.

Legit buy-bust

Amiyong said their operation against Dolar and Barsote was legitimate although he refused to answer accusations of pilferage against him.

Amiyong said Dolar is included in the watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

TDG tried to verify with PDEA officials if Dolar was indeed in its list of suspected drug pushers but their records were not available since it yesterday was a holiday.

“Everything that happened last Sunday and the other allegations against me I will answer in my affidavit which I will provide the media soon,” Amiyong said.

Jimena said over dySI-Super Radyo that the allegations tagging him in the pilferage of Hanjin equipment are “diversionary tactics.”

“That was a legitimate operation on our part,” Jimena said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A FACTION of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) said one of their former members killed in a shootout with the police was on a “death mission” in Oton, Iloilo.

In a statement sent to The Daily Guardian, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas-RPA-ABB spokesperson Rosa Nava said Rexel “Macky” Vallejo of Ibajay, Aklan was a gun-for-hire.

Vallejo was killed in a four-hour shootout with the Oton police Sunday morning at Brgy. Manwe in the said town.

The Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) later found out that Vallejo was part of the RPA-ABB splinter group headed by Stephen Paduano alias Carapali Luwalhati, Rafael “Ka Rebo” Tidula, Ramel Farrol and Veronica Tabara.

The other RPA-ABB faction where Nava belongs is headed Nilo dela Cruz.    

Citing their own investigation, Nava said Tidula dispatched Vallejo and two other companions to kill a money lender based in Oton.

Nava also accused Farol and Tidula of extortion and the bombing of the heavy equipment of a construction company in Alimodian, Iloilo last year.

“They also served as guns-for-hire resulting in the death of Brgy. Captain Eleuterio Tabion of Jamog, Tigbauan and many others and syndicated land transaction with the landlord against the poor famers of Aklan,” Nava added.

The Daily Guardian tried to get the side of Paduano’s camp but none of them were available.

The RPA-ABB was split into two splinters following disputes over party funds and projects granted by the Philippine government under the December 2000 peace agreement.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT is up to the family of slain vice mayor Ramon Rojas of Ajuy, Iloilo to decide on the next legal step they will take after the Provincial Prosecutors Office (PPO) dismissed the murder case filed against the alleged mastermind of the assassination.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz said he directed Ajuy police chief Ariel Artillero to coordinate with the Rojas family so they can discuss the next move relative to the dismissal of the murder charges against Vicente “Etik” Espinosa.

The PPO junked the charges against Espinosa and fellow accused Lindsey Buenavista for lack of sufficient evidence.

In a resolution issued August 12, the PPO said the statements of nine witnesses gathered by the Ajuy police would not suffice to charge Espinosa and Buenavista with murder before the Regional Trial Court.

But the PPO said another case can be filed against Espinosa and Buenavista if a “new quantum of evidence” can prove their participation in Rojas’ assassination.

The prosecutor also resolved to elevate to the RTC the murder raps against alleged gunmen Edgar Cordero and Dennis Cartagena.

Dela Paz said they were disappointed with the decision of the PPO “but we respect our prosecutors on this matter.”

“We will just coordinate with the Rojas family whether they want to file a motion for reconsideration with the Department of Justice where the resolution might be reversed. We are disappointed because have nine witnesses under our protection who identified Espinosa and Buenavista as part of the conspiracy against Rojas,” dela Paz said.

Atty. Edeljulio Romero, one of Espinosa’s legal counsel, said the dismissal of the charges against his client proves that the latter has no part in Rojas’ murder.

Romero also slammed the police for filing the murder case against Espinosa which were based on hearsays.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT WAS a scene straight from the action movies.

A member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) was killed in a four-hour gunfight with the police of Oton, Iloilo Sunday.

Rexel “Macky” Vallejo of Brgy. Aparicio, Ibajay, Aklan succumbed to four gunshot wounds in his leg, shoulder and head.

Vallejo is believed to be a member of the RPA-ABB wing under Carapali Lualhati, said Iloilo provincial police director Ricardo dela Paz.

The shootout began 3am Sunday when the Oton police and the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO)-Special Operations Group responded to reports that Vallejo was harassing the customers of Chow Yummy Refreshment at Mabini Street, Brgy. Poblacion West, Oton.

“In fact, he pointed his gun to one of the customers who was identified as Mark Carvajal of Oton, Iloilo,” dela Paz said.

As the police approached the refreshment, Vallejo fired his gun and fled towards a dark, grassy portion of CM Recto Street.

The initial exchange of fire wounded PO2 Roldan Boron of Oton PNP and damaged the butt of his M16 Armalite rifle.

The chase continued until the suspect plunged into a swamp covered with tangkong plants.

Knowing that the suspect will not give up without a fight, the police surrounded the area and waited until the sun came up.

At around 7am, the police convinced the suspect to surface and surrender peacefully. But as he emerged from the swamp, he began firing his gun and ran towards a coconut tree where he was finally overpowered and shot to death.

“He was hit in his left foot, left leg, shoulder and head. He died on the spot,” dela Paz said.

The Oton police led by Senior Insp. Vicente Castor recovered from the suspect a caliber .45 pistol (Colt) with serial number 843887, four spent caliber .45 shells, two live caliber .45 ammunitions and a spare caliber .45 magazine with two live bullets.

The police was able to identify Vallejo through the identification papers found in his possession.

Dela Paz said they are still investigating Mark Carvajal why Vallejo threatened him with a gun.

“Maybe the incident was triggered by drunkenness but we are still looking into the motive of the incident,” he added.

The report on the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring at Smallville business and leisure park has spurred police to heighten security in the area even as the PDEA is requesting establishments to submit their workers to drug tests. (Photo by Tara Yap)

The report on the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring at Smallville business and leisure park has spurred police to heighten security in the area even as the PDEA is requesting establishments to submit their workers to drug tests. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WORKERS of establishments at Smallville business and leisure complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City will be asked to undergo drug tests, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6).

Senior Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional head, said he personally asked the owners and managers of Smallville to have their employees checked for illegal drugs during their meeting with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas Friday last week.

Sanchez said they cannot avoid entertaining the idea that some of the Smallville employees might be using illegal drugs considering that most of them work from night until the wee hours of the morning.

Sanchez said the drug test will ensure that none of the workers in the popular leisure strip are using prohibited substances.

Smallville hogged the headlines the past weeks after PDEA confirmed the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring inside the area.

Citing two successful test buys and intelligence reports, PDEA officials said shabu, Ecstacy and marijuana are the substances most popular among Smallville patrons who are mostly teenagers and young professionals.

But Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, denied the proliferation of illegal drugs inside Smallville.

Despite their clashing statements, Cuevas, Sanchez and the Smallville establishment owners and managers met at Treñas’ office to discuss possible measures to prevent illegal drugs from proliferating in the popular night spot.

Cuevas said they will put up checkpoints around Smallville even as they will deploy more intelligence personnel to monitor pushers and other criminals.

Councilor Ely Estante, chairman of Task Force Adams Apple which monitors night spots in the city, said it is possible that illegal drugs is circulating inside Smallville.

Estante, who was present in the meeting, said it would be better for the police and PDEA to keep an eye on the leisure park instead of bickering over intelligence reports.

Treñas said Smallville establishments are willing to cooperate with the police in keeping peace and order inside their businesses.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO provincial employees are planning to hold a sit down strike in the event that the 10 percent salary increase they are asking is not implemented.

The reported sit down strike circulated among capitol workers loomed ahead as the executive department and Sangguniang Panlalawigan have yet to reach a compromise on how to allocate additional funds for the salaries and wages of employees.

Several capitol workers reached by The Daily Guardian said they might resort to protest actions if the two departments don’t meet eye-to-eye.

“Why can’t they sit down and talk about this instead of exchanging legal views? We will go hungry if this continues,” a Capitol clerk said.

The Iloilo provincial government is staring at a P22.8-million deficit brought about by the aborted approval of the 2008 budget.

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said they might run out of funds for salaries and wages for the month of October.

The Department of Budget and Management recently declared the 2008 budget inoperative due to technical flaws. The Capitol is now using the reenacted 2007 budget which is not enough to cover the salaries, wages and other benefits of provincial employees.

Some P4.9 million is also needed for the food of Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) inmates after their allowance was increased from P30 to P40.

The Provincial Engineering Office needs P2.5 million for fuel and lubricants of heavy equipment following the series of oil price hikes.

Tupas has submitted a P95.4-million supplemental budge to the SP to cover the pay hike and additional funding of other Capitol departments.

But during the committee on appropriations hearing Friday, Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the Local Government Code, particularly Section 321, prohibits the approval of any supplemental budget under a reenacted budget.

Suplico, committee on appropriations chair, said Tupas should instead submit a new proposed executive budget to arrest the fiscal deficit.    

“While we feel for the welfare of the workers, we cannot make a shortcut of the law. If the executive department submits a new proposed budget, we will act on it immediately. The Sanggunian is a passive institution and we will only act on things submitted to our attention,” Suplico said.

The hearing was also attended by Board Members June Mondejar, Jett Rojas and Shalene Hidalgo.

Department heads who were present included provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna III, budget officer Elena Lim, treasurer Cora Beloria, planning and development officer Mario Nillos, social welfare and development officer Neneth Pador, IRC warden Ricardo dela Paz and other Capitol executives.

Rojas broached a “peace talk” between the executive and legislative departments to iron out the budget war.

“Maybe we can sit together, talk in the vernacular instead of legalese. I believe we can come up with a compromise,” Rojas said.

Tupas and Suplico are at odds with each other after exchanging harsh accusations against each other in the 2007 elections.

Capitol employees earlier signed and circulated an open letter addressed to Tupas and the SP urging them to break the budget impasse and provide additional funds for their salaries and wages.

Yesterday, two more white papers were posted in the SP session hall and prominent spots of the Capitol urging employees to sign the petition.

The white papers also outlined the possible fund shortage for salaries and wages should the 10 percent pay hike is implemented.

Tupas said he will discourage employees from sitting on their work “but they should vent their grievances to the SP.”

“They have the right to express their grievances but not at the expense of our operation and public service,” Tupas said.

PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

HOW do you infiltrate a group of affluent drug pushers and users frequenting a popular leisure strip in Iloilo City? 

For more than a year, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6) has been trying to penetrate the illegal drugs ring operating in Smallvile business and leisure park in Mandurriao district.

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional director, said they have confirmed the selling of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana and Ecstasy, at Smallville after two successful test buys.

Sanchez said they tried to go deeper into the syndicate’s operations “but their modus operandi defied our usual approaches.”

“They only deal on the basis of familiarity. If they don’t know you, they will not even talk to you. And they scrutinize if you have the capability to buy or a rich guy,” Sanchez said.

Another problem that hindered PDEA from busting the illegal drug ring is the presence of spotters who monitor intelligence officers.

Sanchez said Smallville pushers maintain a big network of waiters, security guards and employees who help smoke out authorities conducting surveillance operations.

“Unlike our usual operations where we can use just any asset, the case of Smallville needs someone who is familiar to these suspects and a young professional. But who among our professionals is willing to work for us?” Sanchez added.

The PDEA confirmed to the City Peace and Order Council the other day that illegal drugs is changing hands inside Smallville.

Shabu is sold in the popular leisure strip at P10,000 to P12,000 per gram while a gram of marijuana costs P30 or P15,000 per kilo.

The designer drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) commonly known as “Ecstasy” can be bought at P1,800 a tablet.

Smallville is home to numerous bars and hotels that have become “hot night spots” in the city. The area is frequented by teenagers and young professionals.

The leisure strip is usually active on weekends and holidays although two to three establishments are considered the most popular.

Smallville is located near suspected drug havens in Brgys. Bakhaw and Taft North also in Mandurriao district.

Sanchez said the sale usually happens inside the establishments or in cars parked in dark portions of the strip.

The PDEA chief said they released the information on the Smallville drug ring “para mabulabog sila (to smoke them out).”

“We can consider the problem as a bit rampant but we continue to monitor and try to bust them,” he added.

Another major problem the anti-illegal drugs agency encountered is that syndicates are also trying to identify or profile their personnel and assets.

“We have new personnel here but we are not exposing them too much in the field because the other side is also trying to profile us. They even have blown up pictures of some PDEA personnel,” Sanchez averred.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will meet with the management of Smallville establishments today to discuss the problem and hammer out possible solutions.

Treñas said admitting the presence of the drug ring will help the city government and law enforcement units address the menace before it worsens.

“I don’t think this will setback the growth of that area,” Treñas said. 

The Iloilo Hotels Restaurants and Resorts Association headed by Robert Ferrer also assured that their members are doing their share to prevent illegal drugs from penetrating into their businesses.

2 persons invited over American’s death

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROBBERY and old grudge are among the possible motives for the murder of an American citizen inside his rented apartment in Arevalo, Iloilo City the other day.

Chief Insp. Federico Silvestre, Arevalo police chief, said they are focusing their investigation on the twin leads as they try to crack the case of Daniel Zhabra, 65, who died due to multiple stab wounds.

The bloodied remains of Zhabra, a former security guard in the US, was found 10am Wednesday in the sala of his apartment at Brgy. Sto. Nino Sur, Arevalo.

Police investigators and neighbors of Zhabra said the victim was almost naked when found. Initial investigation showed that the victim succumbed to more than 10 stab wounds in various parts of his body.

Silvestre said the victim’s DVD player and undetermined amount of cash were missing but his laptop was found in his room.

The number of stab wounds Zhabra suffered also indicate that the suspect or suspects bore a grudge against the victim.

Based on the initial profile gathered by police investigators, Zhabra is a retired security guard and an expert arnis fighter.

“Zhabra’s big body and combat expertise makes it impossible for anyone to attack him singlehandedly. It would take more than one person to tackle him down,” Silvestre said.

Zhabra is married to Chona, 25, of Patnongon, Antique. The apartment he rented for six years is owned by his wife’s family.

Neighbors and friends of Zhabra described the American as “friendly, generous and very open,” especially teenagers of Sto. Nino and nearby villages.

Former Sto. Nino village chief Tony Lanceta said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that Zhabra was “medyo silahis” or effeminate reason why he hangs out with young boys inside his apartment or restaurants.

Neighbors of Zhabra said the victim went home past 11pm Wednesday after eating dinner at Villa Bora resort in Arevalo.

Narcisa Agustin, who lives next door to the victim, said she noticed two persons knocking on Zhabra’s door at about the same time he arrived home. But she failed to see their faces because her son barred her from going out of their house.

Agustin and several residents also noticed a commotion inside the victim’s house. Two more witnesses who passed by Zhabra’s house on board a motorcyle said they also saw two persons at the victim’s front door.

The Arevalo police has invited two persons for investigation but Silvestre declined to identify them.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARMED vigilantes will not be tolerated even if the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) has its hands full of robbery cases and other incidents.
Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, made this statement to clarify his earlier pronouncements over radio stations that he is encouraging vigilantes to run after criminals.
Dela Paz said what he meant was a civilian volunteer group that will help the police through information and tips on the whereabouts of criminals.
“In everything we do, the rule of law must be followed. Armed vigilantes are out of the question because their existence and mode of operation are against the legal system,” dela Paz said.
The IPPO chief said they want to stress the role of the public in crime fighting by way of reporting presence of suspicious individuals and untoward incidents in their communities.
“We meant vigilance, not vigilantes,” he added.
Meanwhile, the IPPO yesterday said nine suspected robbers were arrested by various municipal police stations in the past two weeks.
The suspects were presented the suspects in a press conference Thursday at the office of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in the provincial capitol.
The arrested persons were:
– Jonathan Paniza (robbery) arrested in Cabatuan, Iloilo August 6;
– Democrito Miro (robbery in band) arrested in New Lucena, Iloilo August 7;
– Jonnel Mallo (illegal possession of firearms, highway robbery, and robbery) arrested in New Lucena August 7;
– Ivan Apruevo (highway robbery in band and illegal possession of firearms) arrested in Lambunao, Iloilo;
– Ludovico Consumo Jr. (robbery) arrested on August 14;
– Jerry dela Cruz (robbery) arrested in Janiuay, Iloilo August 4;
– Darry Bravo (robbery) arrested in Cabatuan August 14;
– Bernie Manajero and Victorio Luis.
Dela Paz said the arrests were part of their intensified campaigns against criminality following the spate of robberies victimizing lending collectors in the province.

Smallville with its numerous bars and hotels give much needed break to weary Ilonggo souls. But allegations of an illegal drug ring operating within the complex persist and have reached the attention of authorities. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Smallville with its numerous bars and hotels give much needed break to weary Ilonggo souls. But allegations of an illegal drug ring operating within the complex persist and have reached the attention of authorities. (Photo by Tara Yap)

 

Rich strangers run illicit trade

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Jeehan Fernandez

 

MONEYED outsiders are allegedly peddling high-end drugs in a popular leisure complex of Iloilo City, according to a source involved in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Information received by The Daily Guardian from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) officer said drug pushers operating in Smallville business and leisure complex at Brgy. San Rafael, Mandurriao district are not from Iloilo.

The source, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the pushers came from another province in Western Visayas and belong to affluent families.

This information somehow confirmed the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) report that Smallville is gradually becoming the illegal drugs hot spot of the city.

“We were surprised to discover that the persons we were looking are not the ordinary street pushers that we usually chase and arrest. They belong to classes A and B. These guys are very rich and can afford to stay in posh hotels in the city when they ply their stuff in Iloilo. And their clients are also from the upper class,” the source said.

The informant said rich drug users will only buy from their peers “because they cannot trust ordinary street pushers wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.”

During the CPOC meeting the other day, authorities from the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) confirmed that the illegal drug trade is thriving in Smallville.

Based on the CPOC report, shabu is sold in the popular leisure strip at P10,000 to P12,000 per gram while a gram of marijuana costs P30 or P15,000 per kilo.

The designer drug Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or commonly known as “Ecstasy” can be bought at P1,800 a tablet.

Ecstasy is considered the most popular “sex trip” drug among teenagers and young professionals.

Also known as “X-TC”, “Adam”, “Eden Tablet”, yuppie drug and hug drug, Ecstasy was first developed as an appetite suppressant in 1914 by the German company, Merck. In the 1970’s, US therapists led by biochemist Alexander Shulgin used the drug to help patients explore their feelings.

The TDG source affirmed the CPOC report saying Ecstasy is the most in-demand stuff in Smallville.

“We are now profiling the identities of these pushers. They have no records here and even in their place of origin reason why had difficulties spotting them. We are now focusing on the upper level of the illegal drug trade, not just the street pushers,” the source added.

Aside from illegal drugs, Smallville has allegedly become a pick up point for prostitutes in the city.

“Some female drug users need money to sustain their addiction and they resort to prostitution to satisfy their cravings,” the source added.  

Smallville is home to numerous bars and hotels that have become “hot night spots” in the city. Most of the patrons who frequent the area are teenagers and young professionals.

The leisure strip is usually active on weekends and holidays although two to three establishments are considered the most popular.

Smallville is located near the suspected drug havens at Brgys. Bakhaw and Taft North also in Mandurriao district.

Aside from the illegal drug trade, the leisure park’s image has been tarnished by shooting and mauling incidents between rival groups and drunken individuals. The commotions usually begin between 11pm to 2am when the parties are just starting to heat up.

SPECIAL TASK FORCE

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) OIC-director, said they have been receiving reports on the thriving illegal drug trade at Smallville “but we are continuously verifying such information.”

“As regards the volume, extent and modus operandi of the syndicate, we are still digging into that. Our intelligence operatives are constantly verifying the reports. We cannot yet say if the place is indeed a haven of illegal drugs because we have yet to ascertain its extent,” Tobias said.

Tobias said they are coordinating with the PDEA and the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) in verifying the report and identifying the source and pushers who bring illegal drugs in Smallville.

When asked about the possibility of outsiders running the illicit trade at Smallville, Tobias said such scenario is always possible given its popularity.

The ICPO will form its own special anti-illegal drugs task force to deal with the drug menace, Tobias said.

“This problem cannot be solved by the usual police works. Special operations are needed to root out the problem. The Mandurriao police has been vigorously campaigning against illegal drugs in the area but they will need more help,” he added. 

Tobias said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas is willing to help the task force in terms of logistics and finances.

VILLAGE HEADS RILE

But Punong Barangay Azucena Tabuyoc of San Rafael, Mandurriao denied the existence of the illegal drug trade at Smallville which is included in their village.

Tabuyoc said she and barangay tanods have been helping the police monitor the peace and order in the area.

“We stay up until 1 am to watch over the place. So far, we have not noticed anything unusual in the place,” Tabuyoc said.

Tabuyoc said the CPOC should have first verified the supposed illegal drug ring in Smallville before releasing the information to the public. She said they were insulted by the information “because it will reflect on our community and residents.”

“Not one of the CPOC members or the police came here to verify the information. Nor were we invited to the meeting,” she added.

The TDG source said the information on the Smallville drug ring was raised by one of the paticipants in the meeting which the PNP and the PDEA also confirmed.

“The information was relayed to the council after the presentation of the illegal drugs scenario by the PDEA,” the source added.

Tabuyoc said she will convene the barangay council to consolidate their stand on the issue and the possible measures they will take.

Tobias said they will coordinate with barangay officials in verifying the information “since they are our partners in this campaign.”

“We will also meet with owners of establishments inside Smallville to discuss possible security measures against the proliferation of illegal drugs there. We would need the cooperation of the community on this and the public must be vigilant also,” Tobias said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-6) believes that relatives of businesswoman Claire Nueros may have some information on her murder last August 3.

Senior Supt. Renato Gumban, CIDG-6 regional director, said they are probing deeper into the possible involvement or knowledge of Nueros’ kinfolks in her death.

“We are probing deeper into this because we want to pin down the suspect. Her family might have some information,” Gumban said.

Nueros, 34, was found dead inside her home at Savannah Subdivision in Brgy. Abilay, Oton, Iloilo.

Charmaine Larupay, Nueros’ househelp, said two masked men wielding long firearms entered the house in the evening of August 3 and tied them up.

Larupay said she thought that the suspects were plain robbers but she was surprised when she found her lifeless employer inside the master’s bedroom.

According to the autopsy report of the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Delgado, Nueros succumbed to a severe head injury caused by a blunt object and strangulation. Worse, the suspects may have also raped the victim.

The robbers carted away Nueros’ laptop computer, two cellphones and undetermined amount of cash and jewelry.

Nueros, according to her lawyer Cornelio Panes, was engaged in the lending business aside from a photocopy service near a university in Iloilo City. She was also into dog breeding and egg supply business.

Gumban said the victim’s business is also another angle they are following, especially that the suspects took away her laptop computer which is believed to contain records of her lending venture.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Panes said his client’s murder may have something to do with her businesses.

“Her laptop records her transactions, particularly the lending business,” Panes added.

Panes handled Nueros’ annulment case against her first husband Salvador Baleña which was granted November 2007. She then married her present husband Dr. Michael Nueros who works abroad.

Dr. Nueros has requested the CIDG to lead the investigation on his wife’s death.

Earlier, the police invited Nueros’ former househelps to shed light on the incident. Investigators also received information that the victim refused to loan money to a relative.  

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

EIGHT Philippine Navy members cheated death after their twin-engine plane went on emergency landing Panay, Capiz yesterday due to mechanical problems.

Lt. Commander Ed Linpuna said they were forced to land on Roxas City after one of the two engines of their 10-seater Norman High Wing Navy Plane stopped running some 37 nautical miles from the airport. They were forced to land on a fishpond at Brgy. Agoho, Panay, damaging the plane’s left wing.

Linpuna said they left the Ebuen Airbase in Mactan, Cebu for Sangley Point in Cavite.

The other passengers of the plane were Capt. Antonio Indab, Lt. Sr. Grade Paul Hechanova, Lt. Sr. Grade Antonio Bosch, Lt. Sr. Grade Rodiart Babera, Lt. Sr. Grade Joseph Lauron, ATC Chris Buctil and ATC Vic Santoc.

All Navy members are in safe condition except for Babera who suffered a minor injury in the upper portion of his left eye. 

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