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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A REPRESENTATIVE from the Legacy Group of Companies will arrive in Bacolod and Iloilo cities to confer with investors following the closure of 10 rural banks affiliated with the company.

 

An Iloilo City-based investor of Legacy, who asked to be identified only as Lady for the meantime, said an unnamed lawyer representing the company will arrive in Iloilo December 20.

 

Lady, who claimed to have invested more than P15 million in Legacy, said they are anxious to find out the real status of their investments after the rural banks were put under receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC).

 

Lady said she and other investors have been trying to reach Mayor Celso delos Angeles of Sto. Domingo, Albay, who founded Legacy.

 

“We just want to be clarified if our investments are still there and if we can pull them out. Our group is trying to know if what will be the bargaining this Saturday. We are also asking the help of the government in this matter,” Lady said in a text message.

 

The investor said delos Angeles sent a text message to their vice president assuring them that their capital will be returned.

 

Lady also forwarded to The Daily Guardian a text message reportedly sent by delos Angeles to his investors in the country.

 

The mayor said the “global financial crisis and persecution from government regulators brought Legacy and its banks to its knees.”

 

Delos Angeles said he has divested his interest in Legacy after he won as mayor.

 

He added the investors’ money went to the bank clients and marketing program of the company and he should not be blamed for what happened.

 

“I will still work to ensure that you get your principal back over time,” delos Angeles said.

 

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ONE of the search and rescue vessels (SARV) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) needed rescuing after it suffered engine trouble amidst giant waves off the coast of Antique Wednesday. 

 

BRP Davao del Norte (SARV 3504) lost contact Wednesday morning after it helped rescue the crew of cargo vessel M/V Ma. Lourdes which sank three miles off Bisay Island in Caluya, Antique.

 

M/V Lourdes, which was loaded with more or less 22,000 bags of cement from Iligan City, was en route to San Jose, Romblon when it was battered by big waves.

 

BRP Davao del Norte, which is based in Romblon Island, has 12 crewmembers, according to Commander Harold Jarder, PCG-Iloilo station chief.

 

Army air assets and Navy ships helped search for Davao del Norte. It was later found near Boracay Island following an aerial survey by the Air Force.

 

Jarder said Davao del Norte’s crew are safe and sound while the ship was brought to Lipata port in Culasi, Antique.

 

Jarder said the ship suffered power failure after it was battered by big waves.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AFTER the hospitals equipment scam, the Iloilo Sangguniang Panlalawigan is set to investigate the purchase of plants for the landscaping of the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center façade in Pototan, Iloilo after the Commission on Audit (COA) found alleged irregularities in the transaction.

 

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they will base their investigation on the COA Audit Observation Memorandum dated November 4, 2008.

 

The memorandum signed by Haydee Pasuelo, COA audit team leader, and Maria Glenda Lim, COA regional cluster director, covers the purchase of landscaping plants worth P144,750.

 

The purchase was requested by the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) headed by Ildefonso Toledo while the supplier was Cleafar Enterprises.

 

The COA memorandum found out that the purchase order (PO) for the landscaping plants was “paid in full despite the incomplete delivery in the amount of P127,950.”

 

COA inspection of the deliveries of the plants conducted October 27, 2008 and November 4, 2008 showed there was partial delivery amounting to P16,800 only.

 

But per acceptance and inspection report (AIR) from the PAO, there was complete delivery February 14, 2008.

 

The COA said Toledo confirmed there was indeed incomplete delivery because the IRC area to be planted with the 150 square feet of Bermuda grass, 200 sq ft of Carabao grass and other ornamental plants was not yet ready.

 

“The area has yet to be filled with garden soil. All other plants included in the PO were also not delivered. It appears that there was an advance payment to the supplier in the amount of P127,950,” COA observed.

 

Section 88 of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines strictly prohibits advance payments on government deals unless the goods and/or services were fully delivered by the supplier.

 

While the transaction happened in 2008, the budget was taken from the reenacted 2007 budget of the PAO for agricultural products worth P1.5 million.

 

The COA also found out in the bidding documents that owner of the winning supplier, Cleafar Enterprises, is a certain Ma. Cecilia Buenconsejo with business address at Brgy. Inagdangan Norte, Zarraga, Iloilo.

 

But in the delivery paper and receipt of payment, charge invoice and official receipt, the proprietor of Cleafar was identified as Jose Benjamin Pama with office address at Commission Civil Street, Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

Suplico said the discrepancies in the proprietorship and business address of the winning bidder “smells fishy.”

 

“Why is it that the owner and business address of the supplier in the bidding documents were different from the delivery and acceptance papers? We must find out what happened. And where are the rest of the undelivered items?” Suplico said.

 

The vice governor, who is at odds with his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr., also questioned the proposed landscaping of the IRC.

 

“What we need at the IRC are barbed wires, not ferns, grasses and ornamental plants. It would have been better if they bought vegetable seedlings for the inmates to plant and eat,” he added.

 

COA has issued a notice of disallowance on the landscaping plants transactions because of the incomplete delivery.

 

Among those cited as liable are General Services Office chief Ramie Salcedo and Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada for certifying that the delivery was complete; PAO chief Toledo for certifying that the items delivered conformed to the specifications and quantity stated in the purchase order; Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for approving the deal; Buenconsejo as payee; and Danny Baldemor and Rosario Catalan.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHO is at fault for the delay in the discussion on the financial assistance for barangay volunteer workers in the province of Iloilo?

 

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan was supposed to discuss during its session Monday the financial aid for more or less 10,000 barangay volunteers worth P23 million but the matter was not included in its calendar. Each volunteer will receive P2,000 under the aid package.

 

Governor Niel Tupas Sr. submitted a supplemental budget for the financial aid last week and he expected the SP’s committee on appropriations chaired by Vice Governor Rolex Suplico to act and approve the measure.

 

Suplico said he was not able to act on the supplemental budget because of the non-submission of the master list of barangay-based volunteers.

 

The vice governor said he needed the data to determine who will receive the financial aid given to volunteer workers annually.

 

But Marina Imperial, president of the province-wide Federation of Barangay Health Workers, said in a radio interview that she and other volunteer workers brought to Suplico’s office the thick folders containing the master list of volunteers Friday last week.

 

“But he declined to receive the documents,” Imperial told Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

 

Imperial’s statement was backed by Edith Judicpa, barangay health worker from Pavia.

 

Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada was quick to chastise Suplico for “distorting the truth” and “deliberately prolonging the anxiety” of these volunteers.

 

“This is a clear case of foot dragging as Suplico and his allies are looking for lame excuses not to approve the honorarium for the volunteers,” Mejorada said. “The big lie being peddled by Suplico was uncovered.”

 

Mejorada said Suplico and his allies could have granted the appropriation for the honorarium when the Sanggunian approved Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-06 containing the 2008 annual budget.

 

Suplico clarified the issue with The Daily Guardian to dispel insinuations that he lied on the real reason why the approval of the supplemental budget was stalled.

 

The vice governor said while it is true that Imperial showed him the list last week, he returned the same for various reasons.

 

“There is only one list and I don’t want to lose it. The keeper of that list by law is the Provincial Health Office (PHO) which has jurisdiction over the barangay health workers. The PHO has to clean the list of those who died, those who left the country, those who ceased to be BHWs and those who are BHWs while at the same time are barangay service point officers, day care workers and barangay nutrition scholars,” he said.

 

Suplico said the PHO has to encode the list in a form that may be attached to the appropriation ordinance.

 

“As of noontime Wednesday, the PHO was still busy cleaning up the lost together with the officers of the BHW provincial federation. The allegation that I lied about the real reason for the delay in the approval of the financial aid is a malicious insinuation. It is a lie,” Suplico said.

 

The SP will again discuss the financial aid during its special session Friday.

 

Suplico said they will attach conditions to the appropriations ordinance especially the manner by which the aid will be released.

 

“We want the aid to be released in the towns, not here at the Capitol to avoid politicking and additional expenses on the part of the workers. Although we expect the governor to repeat what he did last year by vetoing the conditions then release the funds before we could override the veto,” Suplico said.

 

Mejorada said the volunteer workers prefer to get their financial aid at the Capitol “so they can go shopping after getting their allowance.”

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

THE Yuletide season is supposed to be a time for joyous celebrations and brisk business but lantern makers and firecracker makers are not exactly in a joyful mood.

 

Danilo Henson, president of the Arevalo Firecracker Makers Association, said there has been a major slowdown in firecracker sales.

 

“In previous years, retailers have been buying from us as early as October. But today it’s already December but the movement of goods is very slow and sales are very low. Gamay-gamay lang baklanay,” Henson said.

 

Henson said the slowdown could affect production of pyrotechnics “because the capital of manufacturers is dependent on their sales to retailers.”

 

Arevalo firecracker makers usually start manufacturing their stocks June or July but this year their production period began only in November due to lack of capital and materials.

 

This is the reason firecracker manufacturers put up a cooperative to help finance their members.

 

Another factor that affected the production and sale of Arevalo firecrackers is the lack of gunpowder supply in the market after the Chinese government regulated the sale of the item prior and during the August 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Henson said the Chinese tightened the gunpowder supply to prevent terrorists and criminals from making bombing operations during the international sports spectacle.

 

“Because of low supply, gunpowder is expensive and not all of us can afford because most manufacturers are household based,” Henson said.

 

The entry of pyrotechnics made in Bocaue, Bulacan and China is also eating part of the market once enjoyed by Arevalo firecracker makers.

 

But Henson said they continue to innovate their products to keep up with the quality of “imported” firecrackers.

 

SAFETY ISSUES

 

Henson admits that most firecracker makers operate on a guerilla-type basis due to lack of government permits.

 

Oftentimes, these underground manufacturers are the cause of fatal explosions that kill their own workers and neighbors.

 

Henson said they are now pushing for the establishment of a manufacturing complex away from residential areas to avoid accidents.

 

The complex will be designed according to specifications provided by the PNP Firearms and Explosive Division and the Iloilo City government.

 

As regards the employment of minors, Henson said they are trying to convince their members to make their children stay in school instead of working in the factory.

 

“But we cannot avoid that some manufacturers will employ their children because this is basically a household industry. But we remind them not to let the children pack firecrackers or mix gunpowder which are dangerous part of our work. Maybe they can let their children cut the wrapping materials which is safer,” he said.

 

DIMMER SALES

 

Ilonggo parol or lantern makers also noted a decline in their sales this Christmas season.

 

Mas daku-daku sang una amon nga benta (Sales were much bigger previously),” said Rolyn Lindong of Aldren’s Parol Maker along Luna Street, La Paz, Iloilo City.

 

He said compared to the past three to five years, this year’s sales has not surpassed the profit the store made previously. 

 

Lindong cited the effects of typhoon Frank and the financial global crisis as to why Ilonggo consumers are on tight budget these days.

 

Unahon na ya nila ang pang adlaw-adlaw nila nga kinahanglanon (They will always prioritize their daily needs),” Lindong added.

 

With each lantern sold at P3,500, he said an Ilonggo consumer would rather spend the money for food instead of buying a four-foot parol.

 

Still, their sales are enough to sustain their three-month operation which began September.

 

He said Aldren’s biggest customer this year was the Atrium, which purchased 24 pieces of its four-foot parol.  The 24 colorful Filipino lanterns are currently on display inside the shopping arcade.

 

Lindong is hoping to dispose the remaining 20+ pieces of 4-feet parol before Wednesday next week.

 

Stores selling Christmas decorations and Christmas lights along J.M. Basa St. also noted big dip in sales this Yuletide season.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory (LTFRB) will crack the whip on public utility jeepneys and buses that refuse to implement the 50 centavo fare reduction which took effect Monday.

 

Atty. Porfirio Clavel, LTFRB-6 director, said they will be forced to run after erring jeepney and bus drivers who will not follow the reduction. Clavel made the threat after several passengers complained that some drivers still collect the P7.50 minimum fare instead of P7.

 

Clavel noted only a handful of drivers obtained the latest fare matrix from their office despite earlier announcements on the fare reduction.

 

Gaspar Grejarte of the Iloilo City Alliance of Jeepney Owners and Drivers Association (Icajoda) said many of their members did not implement the reduction because the LTFRB did not send any letter informing them about the fare decrease.

 

Grejarte said many of their members did not hear LTFRB announcement over the radio “because they leave their home early to pick up passengers.” 

 

But Clavel said the fare reduction was widely disseminated in print and broadcast media, thus it is impossible for drivers to be unaware of the new fare rate.

 

“Tell that to the marines. We have been discussing this for sometime already,” Clavel added.

 

Clavel said the new fare matrix is free of charge “thus there is no reason for the drivers to have difficulty getting a copy from my office.”

 

“They can even photocopy this,” he said.

 

Nick Dalisay, president of the Iloilo City Alliance of Drivers Association (Icada), said their members agreed to implement the fare reduction even without the matrix.

 

“We are policing our ranks against erring drivers. If some of our members don’t observe the new policy, they can refer the name and plate number of the jeep to me so we can act appropriately,” Dalisay said.

 

Clavel said he will give drivers until this week to get the matrix before directing the Land Transportation Office to inspect jeepneys and buses plying the city and province of Iloilo.  

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CASES of children in conflict with the law (CICL) in 2008 decreased compared to last with the implementation of Republic Act 9344.

 

Department of Social Welfare and Development regional director Teresita Rosales said they only recorded 260 CICL cases this year compared 706 cases in 2007.

 

“This is a significant decrease which we can attribute to the implementation of RA 9344 which stipulates a diversion program for child offenders,” Rosales said in a press conference Tuesday.

 

Among the salient points of RA 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006) is the creation of a welfare council under the Department of Justices administrative supervision and headed by a DSWD undersecretary.

 

The law also provides that children 15 years and below will be criminally exempt while youth offenders aged 15 to 18 years old can only be criminally charged if they acted out the crime with discernment. It also outlines the immediate turn over of children in conflict with the law to social workers upon apprehension.

 

The highest number of 128 CICL cases were involved in theft and shoplifting while robbery/attempted robbery was the second highest with 34 cases.

 

Rape/attempted rape accounted for 13 CICL cases while 10 CICLs were involved in murder.

 

Rosales said they did not record any case or incident that the CICLs, particularly those involved in theft, were employed by criminal syndicates.

 

“There is no trend that they were used by syndicates. They did it on their own because of extreme poverty and serious family problems. Many of these children came from broken families,” she added.

 

Presently, the DSWD is helping 45 CICLs go through the diversion program in a rehabilitation center in Guimaras. The diversion program helps the children prepare and reform before entering mainstream community.

 

There is also a community-based program for CICLs involving their parents, kin, local social worker and even the community.

 

CICLs in the community-based program also interact with youth organizations and are exposed to alternative learning systems, skills training and values inculcation.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) will prod the PNP national headquarters to scrutinize suppliers of bullets and magazines to the police force.

 

This will be the main agenda of PRO-6 director Isagani Cuevas when the whole PNP organization holds its national command conference December 18.

 

Cuevas said he will recommend to the national command stricter assessment and accreditation of ammunitions suppliers after broaching the possibility that the bullets used by Regional Mobile Group (RMG) based in Negros Occidental were expired.

 

A team of RMG members were ambushed by suspected members of the New People’s Army December 3 at Brgy. Estado, Victorias City.

 

The ambush resulted in the death of PO1 Jean Tacadao and wounded police officers Anilou Patricio, Melanie Tupas, Marife Cantomayor and Jocelyn Quebar.

 

RMG-6 director Remus Zacharias Canieso said they tried to fire back at the rebels but their bullets did not fire. The magazines also failed to feed the bullets into their M16 Armalite rifles.

 

The dud bullets and defective magazines prompted the PRO-6 to investigate the quality of ammunitions issued to the RMG.

 

Cuevas said tighter assessment of the suppliers and their goods will ensure that the bullets they will use are not substandard and will not endanger the lives of police officers.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the bullets and magazines are purchased by Camp Crame and delivered to the regional offices which in turn distribute the items to field units.

 

Some of the bullets were supplied by Chinese manufacturers aside from local accredited suppliers, Cuevas added.

LEGACY BANKS’ WOES WORRY ILONGGO INVESTORS

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

SINCE Saturday, Lady (not her real name) thought of committing suicide after learning that seven banks under the Legacy Group of Rural Banks declared bank holiday.

 

Lady, a merchant in Iloilo City, is just one of the hundreds of investors of Legacy Group of Co. owned by a certain Celso de los Angeles, incumbent mayor of a town in Bicol region.

 

Her more than P15-million investment is in danger of going down the drain after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) placed 10 rural banks affiliated with the Legacy group under the receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC).

 

The banks that were taken over were:

 

1. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank (PCRB) with branches in Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Liloan in Cebu,

2. Bank of East Asia based in Minglanilla, Cebu

3. First Interstate Bank in Tacloban City.

4. Rural Bank of Paranaque

5. Rural Bank of Bais in Negros Oriental

6. Pilipino Rural Bank (with branches in Mandaue and Argao in Cebu and Tagbilaran City in Bohol)

7. Rural Bank of San Jose in Batangas.

 

The BSP said in a statement that it had been monitoring these banks well before the global financial crisis began, because of potentially unsafe and unsound banking practices.

 

Lady asked not to be identified for the meantime to protect her family and avoid embarrassment.

 

Lady said she was convinced to invest more than P15 million in Legacy group sometime in 2002 after De los Angeles enticed them with the “double your money” scheme in three years.

 

The investment went into Legacy Scholarship Pension Plans, Inc. which acquired two other pre-need companies, All Asia Plans, Inc. and Consolidated Plans, Inc. in 2002.

 

Lady said she has to mortgage her properties in order to come up with a capital for Legacy group and enjoy the “double your money” scheme.

 

When she heard that Legacy rural banks folded and taken over by the government, Lady feared that her hard-earned money in the last 29 years would go up in smoke.

 

Lady said her investments and that of more than 100 investors might go down the drain since the banks are tied to Legacy plans and its affiliate company, One Card, which specializes in credit card services. 

 

“I was thinking of committing suicide because of what happened. They assured that the banks were liquid with P500 million in trust funds. But why did this happen? We felt like pigs that were fattened for six years only to be slaughtered in the end,” she said.

 

Lady said she cannot transfer some of her earnings to other banks for fear of money-laundering charges aside from the assurance of Legacy that business was solid.

 

Legacy also retained Lady’s certificate of time deposit with the rural banks as part of the investment agreement.

 

The interest on her investment came not in form of cash but items offered by Legacy such as cars, Lady added.

 

“My child also tried to commit suicide when we learned what happened. We even heard stories that another investor who forked P100 million to Legacy already committed suicide. But that is not confirmed,” she said.

 

Yesterday, Lady said she and other investors in Iloilo and Negros received assurance from a certain Edgardo Cando, Legacy senior vice president for Visayas-Mindanao, that their principal investments will be returned to them.

 

Top brass from Legacy will also arrive in Iloilo and Negros on December 19 and 20, respectively, to confer with the investors on how to return their money.

 

“What I want is to get back my money because we have nothing left. If Legacy cannot make good of their word, then we will come out and sue them. We ask the government to help us,” she said.

 

The Legacy banks folded a week after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on enforcement of lower court rulings that favored the so-called “Legacy Group banks.”

 

The high tribunal’s decision effectively gave the BSP the green light to act on adverse findings made during their last examination of the 10 financial institutions scattered around the country.

 

The financial institutions covered by the SC ruling are Rural Bank of Parañaque Inc., Rural Bank of San Jose (Batangas) Inc., Rural Bank of Carmen (Cebu) Inc., Pilipino Rural Bank Inc., Philippine Countryside Rural Bank Inc., Rural Bank of Calatagan (Batangas) Inc. (now Dynamic Rural Bank), Rural Bank of DARBCI Inc., Rural Bank of Kananga (Leyte) Inc. (now First Interstate Rural Bank), Rural Bank of Bisayas Minglanilla (now Bank of East Asia), and San Pablo City Development Bank Inc.

 

Except for San Pablo City Development Bank, all were found by BSP examiners to be undercapitalized during their latest audit done on July 31, 2007.

 

Banking sources say the 10 rural banks hold a combined P12 billion in deposits, comprising 11 percent of the P108.1 billion in deposits held by the country’s 2,011 rural banks.

 

They were found to have an aggregate capital deficiency of P2.5 billion. The banks all operate under the aegis of the Legacy Group, which is primarily involved in selling pre-need plans.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE New People’s Army (NPA) bombed a cellsite of Globe Telecom in Negros Occidental over the weekend to force the firm to pay P88 million in “back revolutionary taxes.”

 

The latest bombing happened at Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City Saturday afternoon which destroyed P2-million cellsite tower of Globe.

 

Based on police reports from Escalante City, the NPA has threatened to bomb the Escalante cellsite if the telecom giant fails to pay revolutionary taxes. The threats came true over the weekend.

 

Escalante police chief Santiago Rapiz said the rebels used an improvised explosive device on the cellsite.

 

The blast wrecked the power room and the perimeter fence of the cellsite, investigators said.

 

This is the second time that the Escalante City cellsite was bombed, the first one was in 2003.

 

Capt. Lowen Gil Marquez, chief of the AFP Civil Relations Service in Western Visayas, confirmed the P88-million demanded by the NPA from Globe.

 

Marquez said the bombing is also part of rebel operations relative to the upcoming anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front December 26.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE homeowners of Metropolis Subdivision in Jaro, Iloilo City are willing to talk with officials of Brgy. Bito-on regarding the curfew imposed on the gated community.

 

The daily curfew, which takes effect 10pm to 5am, was imposed by the Metropolis Homeowners Association (MHA) for security purposes.

 

In an interview over Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Atty. Perla Gauzon, MHA president, said they imposed the curfew after several commotions involving non-Metropolis residents happened in their community the past months.

 

Gauzon said they imposed the curfew because the developer Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. has yet to finish the perimeter wall of the subdivision.

 

The curfew prompted some residents to blockade the subdivision’s south gate leading to the coastal road area last December 2.

 

The residents said the curfew barred them from using the Metropolis Avenue when going towards coastal road and back.

 

Barangay officials led by Punong Barangay Raymundo Juntado dismantled the barricade with the help of the Jaro police.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, MHA immediate past president, said they are now fine tuning their curfew regulation to accommodate the residents who want to use the subdivision’s road.

 

The homeowners are also talking with Sta. Lucia Realty to finish the perimeter wall for the security of the residents.

 

Gauzon said they also had issues with the residents of Brgys. Bito-on and Tacas before “but we were able to resolve things through dialogues.”

 

(Serbisyo Publiko airs live over Sky Cable Channel 13 every Sunday, 10 am to 12 noon. Replays are: Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday – 8 to 10 pm; Thursday – 12 noon to 2pm)

‘Consumers can expect interest on their money’

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PANAY Electric Co. (Peco), Iloilo City’s sole power distributor, will start refunding the meter deposits, amounting to some P26 million in principal alone, of almost 50,000 consumers January 2009.

 

But how much will the consumers receive from the distribution utility?

 

Engr. Randy Pastolero, executive assistant to Peco president Miguel Cacho, said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) set three formulas for the computation of meter deposit interest outlined in ERC Resolution No. 8-2008.

 

Residential customers as well as non-residential customers who paid their meter deposits prior to the implementation of Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) Resolution 95-21 will earn 6% percent interest per year. ERB Resolution 95-21 is the standard rules governing electrical power services promulgated September 22, 1995.

 

The second formula was based on Resolution No. 95-21 when the ERB validated that meter deposit and the interest rate at that time was 10% per year. The ERB is the predecessor of the ERC which regulates power producers, distributors and other players in the energy industry.

 

When the ERC was created, the commission issued the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers and the Distribution Services which pegged the interest rates for meter deposits at 6% per year starting year 2005.

 

Pastolero said they have no choice but to refund the meter deposits of their consumers “because we were ordered by our regulator to do so.”

 

Consumers have three options on how to avail the refund – cash refund through a check issued by Peco; application of the refund on outstanding accountability of the consumer; or use the refund for future billings. 

 

What if a consumer already died? To whom will the refund go?

 

Pastolero said the heirs of the dead consumers are entitled for the refund provided they present the death certificate of the consumer and identification documents.

 

The Peco executive said they will schedule the release of refund to avoid consumers from crowding their office.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Civil Service Commission (CSC) altered the decision of the Iloilo provincial government to sack a jail guard for the shooting to death of a man in Badiangan, Iloilo six years ago.

 

In Resolution No. 081982 promulgated November 4, 2008, the CSC modified the April 12, 2005 decision signed by Governor Niel Tupas Sr. finding Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) Provincial Guard 2 Eliazar Elisan guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service and dismissing him from government service.

 

The commission instead indicted Elisan for simple neglect of duty and suspended him for three months without pay.

 

The resolution was signed by CSC chair Ricardo Saludo and commissioners Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza and Cesar Buenaflor.

 

Elisan, who was represented by lawyer Dennis Ventilacion, was charged with the administrative case before the Office of the Governor for the shooting to death of Alex Collado during a benefit dance at Brgy. Cabanga-an, Badiangan last December 31, 2002.

 

The shooting incident happened around 11pm when a commotion broke out between a certain Allan Ahumada and Angot Adorador inside the basketball court where the affair was held.

 

Elisan at that time was off duty and stayed at the sari-sari store of Collado some 15-20 meters from the scene of the commotion.

 

Punong Barangay Vivencio Villa then asked Elisan to pacify the fracas which the latter did by going near the scene and fired his caliber .45 service pistol thrice.

 

Collado was hit resulting to his death. Alejandro Adorador was also wounded in the shooting.

 

After Collado’s wife filed a formal complaint, Tupas ordered a fact-finding investigation on the incident the result of which became the basis for the filing of administrative charges against Elisan January 23, 2003.

 

On the same date, Tupas also placed Elisan under 60-day preventive suspension.

 

The hearings on the case stretched from January 2003 to January 7, 2005. On April 12, 2005, Elisan was found guilty and ordered dismissed from service.

 

The IRC guard filed a motion for reconsideration June 6, 2005 but it was denied. He then filed his appeal with the CSC June 25, 2005.

 

The commission said Elisan’s act of firing his gun during the commotion “does not constitute grave misconduct as the firearm of Elisan was aimed directly or directed not to a particular person, being warning shots only, but to the air.”

 

“It was not proven that Elisan fired directly at Collado. Neither was it proven that the bullet from his firearm caused the wounding of Adorador. Thus, the negligent act that can be attributed to Elisan was the indiscriminate firing of his gun, which although not shown to be the proximate cause of the fatal incidents, was nonetheless uncalled for and dangerous considering the many people present during the incident and possibility that the bullets fired may hit somebody once the same fall back to the ground,” the CSC resolution said.

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IS love triangle the likely motive behind the brutal murder of a 16-year-old high school student of Central Philippine University (CPU) last week?

 

The LaPaz police initially eyed plain robbery as the reason for the death of Buenaventura “Ben-Ben” Peregil Jr. of Petalsville Subdivision, Jaro, Iloilo City who was found dead with 13 stab wounds in his body inside LaPaz public plaza Wednesday last week.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said it is probable that the suspects were high on drugs.

 

But based on information gathered by The Daily Guardian, Peregil’s death may have something to do with a mysterious female text mate he was supposed to meet at the public plaza that fateful Wednesday evening.

 

According to a witness of the LaPaz police, Peregil received a warning from his girl text mate not to stay any longer at the plaza because “they will kill you.”

 

Peregil’s grandmother Gloria said that was the information they got from police investigators during their conversation Thursday.

 

The identity of the text mate remains unknown because Peregil’s cellphone is missing until now.

 

Rosales said they are pursuing all angles to the case now that they have found several witnesses who related what happened to the victim.

 

Peregil was the only son of Lilibeth Peregil, who works in Hong Kong as a domestic helper. He was raised by his grandmother Gloria and Aunt Anita since a toddler as his mother would send money from Hong Kong to sustain his needs. 

 

Months before his death, the victim almost got robbed also at LaPaz plaza but did not tell his grandmother and aunt about it.

 

Peregil’s remains now lie at their home in Petalsville Subdivision.

Grandma: Why was my grandson slaughtered like pig?

 

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

“ANO sala sang bata nga daw baboy pag patay sa  iya?” (What did the child do that he was slaughtered like a pig?) Gloria Peregil asked while holding back her tears.

 

The 70-year-old grandmother of Buenaventura “Ben-Ben” Peregil Jr. is shocked at the manner of his untimely demise.

 

The senior high school student of Central Philippine University (CPU) and resident of Petalsville Subdivision, Jaro died from 13 stab wounds in La Paz Plaza Wednesday night. 

 

Mrs. Peregil remains to wonder why Ben-Ben was in La Paz plaza Wednesday night when he sent a text message to his aunt Anita past 6:30pm informing that he was in Bankers Village in Jaro district studying with classmates for their 3rd grading exams. 

 

Mrs. Peregil added she couldn’t understand why her grandson was there in La Paz Plaza again when he almost became a victim of a holdup months earlier. Ben-Ben apparently kept quiet about the incident but told close relatives while on vacation in Silay City, Negros Occidental last November. 

 

However, the family also speculates the involvement of Ben-Ben’s mysterious girl text mate, whom he supposedly met that night. The grandmother believes this mysterious text mate can shed light to what happened.

 

Mrs. Peregil told The Daily Guardian that Ben-Ben was a good kid and had no enemies.  She said he was very friendly and treated his friends with sincerity.

 

She also remembered Ben-Ben’s heroism during typhoon Frank that saved her and her 72-year-old husband. She said Ben-Ben made a makeshift rope out of blankets to tie around their waists unto a reclining bed, which rescued them from drowning or swept away by the strong current.

 

The victim planned to take up a course in culinary arts or train in cooking as he wanted to work as cook in an international cruise liner. His grandmother recalled that he was fond of cooking sinigang na bangus, puchero and guisado.  

 

Ben-Ben was the only son of single mother Lilibeth Peregil, who works in Hong Kong as a domestic helper.  He was raised by his grandmother Gloria and Aunt Anita since a toddler as his mother would send money from Hong Kong to sustain his needs. 

 

The La Paz police said they have identified the suspects in Peregil’s murder.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said several witnesses have surfaced and helped them identify the culprits.

 

Rosales said it is possible the suspects were drug crazed as indicated by the 12 stab wounds in Peregil’s body.

 

“Based on our investigation, the victim left Gaisano City Mall to meet his friends at the plaza. We continue to conduct follow up operations so that we can arrest the suspects as soon as possible,” Rosales said.

 

Rosales said he has assigned two police officers to patrol LaPaz plaza at night to prevent crimes from happening in the area.

 

Most of the lights in the plaza were destroyed by typhoon Frank last June although Rosales said the City government and Panay Power Corp. pledged to replace the damaged lights.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL another call center investor pull out from Iloilo City because of expensive electricity?

 

Reports came out yesterday that Callbox, Inc., the first business processes outsourcing (BPO) investor in the city, is planning to transfer its Iloilo operations to another location.

 

The main reason is the expensive power rates of Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the city.

 

Top Callbox officials headed by chief executive officer Rom Agustin met Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to discuss their concerns regarding the city’s power situation.

 

Treñas confirmed the meeting with Callbox executives who raised their concerns about the city’s expensive power rates.

 

“Namahalan na gid sila (They find it very expensive). But they did not broach the possibility of relocating to other areas,” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he will try to help resolve the issue to save the employment generated by the BPO firm.

 

Callbox sources said they are also wondering why brownouts continue to happen despite Peco’s high rate of electricity presently pegged at P13 per kilowatt-hour.

 

But Glen Norris, Callbox chief operating officer, said the report on their plans to leave Iloilo is “interesting but not true.”

 

“We are not leaving,” Norris said in a text message.

 

Expensive power rates is one of the main stumbling blocks to Iloilo’s investment growth as pointed out by previous Philippine Cities Competitiveness surveys conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

 

According to its official website, Callbox is a full service sales and marketing firm that provides outbound and inbound sales solutions, creative marketing support, and database services.

 

Callbox complements the sales process of businesses, enabling them to accelerate revenue growth and market capture with its global database and cutting-edge service delivery systems. By providing valuable insight on best practices and top notch sales support, Callbox allows businesses to focus on developing their products and services.

 

Launched in Los Angeles, California, Callbox provides global market access to leading industries such as software and technology services, financial, medical and business services from its offices in the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

 

Callbox is operating in the cities of Iloilo, Davao and Makati.

City Hall bought phony rifles – manufacturer

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A US-based manufacturer said the five rifles bought by the Iloilo City government for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team might be fakes, according to a city councilor.

 

Councilor Perla Zulueta said she received transcripts of email exchanges between her undisclosed source and a certain George W. Holloway who is in-charge of Law Enforcement and Government Sales of gun manufacturer Olympic Arms, Inc.

 

Zulueta said the emails indicate that the supposed K23B “Stubby” rifles acquired to beef up the SWAT have different specifications from what Olympic Arms manufacture and sell.

 

Holloway said a factory K23B would have a 1×7 twist barrel. The rifles the City Government bought from R. Espineli Trading had 1×9 twist barrel.

 

“If they are in fact 1×9 (twist barrel) they are fake,” Holloway said in his email message dated December 6, 2008.

 

A barrel twist of 1×7, which is also similar to “1 in 7”, means a projectile traveling down the barrel rotates one complete turn around its own axis in 7 inches. The twist barrel stabilizes the bullet when fired from a gun.

 

Holloway’s statement backs the contention of Zulueta that the SWAT rifles did not follow Olympic Arms specifications.

 

“The discrepancies lie on the different twist barrel which is 1×7 in the original firearm while the rifles bought by the City Government had 1×9. The rifles must be full automatic while the fakes are semi-automatic, Zulueta said.

 

As regards the purchase and export of firearms from Olympic Arms to the Philippines, Holloway said orders must be made through an export company like ETSS or World Wide Sports.

 

“They are able to handle the export/import of these weapons and are on file with us as dealers. We are not able to directly send product to the PI (Philippine Islands) because of the policies of the US State Department,” Holloway said.

 

The Olympic Arms executive said all firearms exported from the US are full automatic unlike the ones purchased by City Hall which are semi-automatic.

 

The serial numbers of genuine Olympic Arms items, Holloway said, have a “DE # # # # serial number range.”

 

“There may possibly some that have a ‘E # # # # number range’, but anything more than four numbers is for sure a fake,” Holloway added in another email dated December 10.

 

Zulueta said the serial number is another indication that the rifles purchased by City Hall are fake because their serial number starts with the letters BPNP instead of the DE or E number range.

 

The City Government through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) headed by Atty. Edgardo Gil, city legal officer, bought the five rifles from Espineli for P675,000.

 

The Bacolod City-based Espineli, which was represented by a certain Roberto Herbolario, claims to be an accredited distributor of Olympic Arms in the country.

 

Herbolario reportedly returned the City Government’s money after the controversy was exposed in the media.

 

The firearms have also been returned to the supplier but Zulueta said the City Council will still investigate the issue in an executive session with the key BAC members.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IF you can’t follow orders, quit.

 

This is one advice that Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, conveyed to Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena after the latter decried his relief from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) because of sexual harassment charges.

 

A fuming Cuevas said Buena’s relief from the ICPO and transfer to the Iloilo Provincial Police Office is part of due process the PRO-6 is observing relative to the charges against him.

 

Buena is accused of fondling and inducing a female casual employee of the City government detailed at the LaPaz police station, charges which he denied.

 

Buena had earlier said that he was relieved abruptly based on unfounded accusations spreading via text messages. He also hit the culture of harassment within the ICPO and the PNP which demoralizes lower ranking cops.

 

The former ICPO operations officer even urged non-commissioned police officers to unite against this culture of harassment in the disorganized ICPO.

 

Cuevas shot back at Buena calling the latter an abusive officer for his involvement in numerous controversies.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the decision to remove Buena from ICPO is not his alone but a policy imposed by the PNP organization if one of its officers in facing charges or involved in controversies.

 

Cuevas said Buena should have been relieved by his superior officer, ICPO officer-in-charge, Supt. Eugenio Espejo.

 

“Everybody is covered by this policy and Buena knows that. It’s part of due process because his superior did not act immediately. If he wants due process, he should attend the hearings if a case is filed against him. If he cannot stand the policies of the PRO-6, he can leave the PNP,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said it is normal to relieve police officers who are facing charges so they cannot influence the outcome of the investigation and also to protect the complainant.

 

“It would be hard for the complainant to pursue the case if the accused is keeping a watchful eye on the investigation,” he added.

 

TREÑAS: SHUT UP

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas told Buena to shut up and stop criticizing the ICPO and the PNP where he belongs.

 

“Whatever he is saying will not help his case. Ang maayo pa maghipos na lang siya (It would be better for him to shut up),” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he is reviewing the program of assigning casual employees at police stations to do clerical works.

 

The mayor said he wanted policemen to concentrate on their law enforcement duties by patrolling the streets instead of staying in their stations to do office ordinary work.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IN LaPaz, Iloilo City, a 16-year-old high school student of the Central Philippine University was found dead inside LaPaz plaza past 7am Wednesday.

 

The stab-riddled body of Buenaventura Peregil of Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro was found near the pond inside the plaza.

 

Peregil was rushed to the West Visayas State University Medical Center where he was declared dead on arrival.

 

A stainless steel knife was recovered from the crime scene allegedly used by three suspects.

 

The LaPaz police are eyeing robbery-holdup as motive for the crime because Peregil’s cellphone was missing.

 

Before he was found dead, Peregil informed his aunt that he was still in LaPaz working on an assignment with a classmate.

 

ALARMED

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas met with punong barangays of LaPaz to discuss Peregil’s case and possible security measures to deter crimes in the area.

 

Treñas said Peregil’s killing was a very unfortunate incident. He ordered the police to investigate the matter and conduct high police visibility by patrolling the plaza every night.

 

The 25-member Association of Barangay Captains-La Paz district headed by Carlos Guarin assured the city mayor of their full cooperation and support in maintaining peace and order in the district and near the plaza.

 

Treñas said he has also directed the city engineer’s office electrical division to inspect the streetlights and to add more lights in the plaza.

 

Panay Power Corporation (PPC) will also help by giving five units of 1,000 watt floodlights which will be installed at the plaza.

 

The district plaza, which includes a covered gym, lagoon and football field, was the subject of complaints by La Paz residents because it is very dark at night as only a few lampposts and streetlights are functioning. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IT started with an altercation. Then a brawl ensued. Later, a man fell to the ground after he was shot by a lone suspect.

 

Niño Vera succumbed to gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by suspect Jeremy Albacete, 24, inside Savannah subdivision around 11pm the other day.

 

Police said Vera and Albacete harbored grudges over a basketball game in the past.

 

Witnesses said that after the fisticuff, the suspect’s brother, Dr. Noel Jerome Albacete, arrived onboard a Toyota Revo and gave Jeremy a gun.

 

Jeremy then chased Vera and shot the victim about five times. The victim was hit in the back and fell to the ground.

 

Concerned residents rushed Vera to the nearest hospital but died on arrival.

 

Jeremy surrendered to the Oton police in the follow up operation while his brother-doctor was confined in a hospital.

 

Dr. Albacete, according to Oton police investigators, might be included in the case for giving the gun to the suspect.

 

S/Insp. Buena decries relief

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A RANKING officer of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) urged his fellow cops to unite and resist harassments directed against them. 

 

This was the reaction of Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena after he was relieved as ICPO operations officer Tuesday and transferred to the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO)

 

Buena is facing sexual harassment charges from Mika, an Iloilo City Hall casual employee detailed at the LaPaz police station. He had denied the charges saying he was just “joking” with the complainant.

 

Buena’s relief order was issued by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) headed by Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas.

 

Buena said he felt bad over his relief because he was not afforded due process by his superior officers.

 

He added the charges against him were circulated via text messages but no formal complaint has been filed against him.

 

Buena even urged non-commissioned police officers (those with ranks Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4) to unite against harassments of police officers while discharging their duties.

 

Cuevas said transfer of police officers is a normal procedure in the PNP and should not be misinterpreted as a form of harassment.

 

Cuevas added Buena’s transfer to the IPPO is necessary since he is under investigation by the ICPO.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, has tasked Chief Insp. Graciano Zapanta to probe the allegations against Buena.

 

Also under investigation is PO1 Joan Cepeda for allegedly dissuading Mika from suing Buena.

 

PULLOUT

 

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said he is contemplating the withdrawal of casual employees assigned to do clerical work and non-police duties at seven police stations.

 

Treñas also expressed disappointment with what happened at the La Paz police station involving Buena and a lady casual employee.

 

The city mayor said he will not tolerate unruly behavior by police officers as this will tarnish the PNP image.

 

Treñas said he is considering the recall of 12 casual employees detailed at district police stations to prevent similar incidents.

 

He said he approved the posting of casual employees at the police stations last month so that police officers can concentrate on peace and order operations.

 

“The idea was to have the policemen patrol the streets and add strong police visibility while the clerical work including driving of patrol vehicles will be done by civilian employees,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

SEVERAL Iloilo City barangays are being monitored by the City Health Office (CHO) after cases of typhoid fever this year increased by more than 800% compared to last year.

 

Based on CHO data, a total of 289 Iloilo City residents were stricken by typhoid fever January to October 2008. A total of 10 persons died of the said illness.

 

Last year’s record for the same period was only 33 cases with no fatality recorded.

 

The most number of typhoid fever cases occurred February with 85 persons affected and 3 fatalities. The month of March saw the second highest number of typhoid cases, 54.

 

Dr. Urminico Baronda, CHO chief, said the sudden surge of typhoid cases could be attributed to the contamination of sources of drinking water in the aftermath of the flood brought about by typhoon Frank June 21.

 

Baronda said they are constantly monitoring typhoid fever incidence in the city, particularly the Waterfront barangays where the most number of cases occurred.

 

The Waterfront area is suffering from lack of potable water supply after the typhoon damaged the facilities of the Metro Iloilo Water District.

 

Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, or commonly known as typhoid, is an illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. Common worldwide, it is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces from an infected person.

 

Typhoid fever is characterized by a sustained fever as high as 40 °C (104 °F), profuse sweating, gastroenteritis, and nonbloody diarrhea. Less commonly a rash of flat, rose-colored spots may appear.

 

Typhoid fever in most cases is not fatal. Antibiotics, such as ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, Amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin, have been commonly used to treat typhoid fever in developed countries.

 

Prompt treatment of the disease with antibiotics reduces the case-fatality rate to approximately 1%. When untreated, typhoid fever persists for three weeks to a month. Death occurs in between 10% and 30% of untreated cases.

 

Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission is only from human to human. Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water. Careful food preparation and washing of hands are therefore crucial to preventing typhoid.

 

DENGUE CASES DOWN

 

If typhoid fever incidence in the city surged, the number of dengue victims this year decreased.

 

From 431 dengue cases including 20 fatalities recorded in 2007, only 121 cases with 6 fatalities were monitored this year.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

REGULAR capitol workers have reason to smile after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Tuesday the resubmitted 2008 budget which includes their 10 percent salary increase from June to December 2008.

 

But barangay volunteer workers will have to wait if the SP will approve a supplemental budget from the Office of the Governor allocating funds for the volunteers’ financial assistance amounting to P23 million.

 

The approved 2008 budget is embodied in Appropriations Ordinance No. 2008-06.

 

Of the P1.136-billion resubmitted budget for this year, the SP only approved P275 million to cover the provincial government’s expenses for the whole month of December and the 10% salary hike.

 

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they limited the approved budget to December 2008 expenditures only since the year is already ending.

 

Suplico said they deleted the financial assistance to more than 10,000 Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO), Barangay Health Workers (BHW) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) because Governor Niel Tupas Sr. did not make a specific request for the said allocation.

 

But in the resubmitted budget, the financial assistance for barangay volunteer workers was lumped in the maintenance operating and other expenses of the governor’s office.

 

Suplico said his uncle-governor can submit a supplemental budget for the allowance of volunteer workers as they still have several days left to hold sessions.

 

Two Suplico allies – Board Members Macario Napulan (1st district) and Mariano Malones (3rd district) – voted for the approval of the financial assistance for the volunteers. Joining them are BMs Rodolfo Cabado, June Mondejar and Shalene Hidalgo.

 

Those who voted against the allowance were BMs Richard Garin, Arthur Defensor Jr., George Demaisip, JR Salcedo, Jett Rojas, Jeneda Salcedo and Karl Giuseppe Gumban.

 

NOT GIVING UP

 

Tupas yesterday approved AO No. 2008-06 to pave the way for the release of the long-delayed 10-percent salary adjustment of provincial officials and employees.

 

But Tupas is not about to give up on the P2,000 yearly honorarium for some 12,000 barangay-based volunteers that he described as the “frontline soldiers” in the province’s health, population and early child education programs.

 

Tupas said he will submit today a request for a P23-million supplemental budget to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to fund the “token of appreciation” for these volunteers and help them cope with the hardships caused by the global economic crisis.

 

“The province wants to show its appreciation for the hard work and dedication shown by these volunteers who make do with minuscule allowances given by their barangays and municipal governments to serve as frontline soldiers for our programs,” Tupas said.

 

In approving the appropriations ordinance, Tupas said he ignored the technical deficiencies in the ordinance that would have been valid grounds for a veto just so the much-awaited salary adjustment can be released in time for Christmas.

 

For instance, the “annual budget” enacted by the Sanggunian appropriated only P275 million to cover expenditures of the province from Dec. 1 to 31, 2008 and neglected to incorporate the actual expenditures of the province while operating on a re-enacted budget, he said.

 

“I will take the risk of implementing this despite the glaring deficiency to avoid any further delays in the release of the salary adjustment,” he said.

 

Tupas expressed misgivings that the Sanggunian slashed the amount of P23 million that he had included in the 2008 Executive Budget for the honorarium of the volunteers.

 

“These volunteer workers are victims of politics,” Tupas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR-6) will assist a non-uniformed personnel assigned at the LaPaz police station in Iloilo City in her case against a ranking official of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

 

CHR-6 director David Bermudo said they are willing to help Mika in her quest for justice should she file charges of sexual harassment against Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena.

 

Bermudo said they will investigate if Mika (not her real name) lodges a formal complaint with the commission.

 

“If her rights were violated based on our investigation, we can recommend appropriate actions against the police official involved,” Bermudo said at the sidelines of the National Human Rights Consciousness Week celebration Tuesday.

 

Bermudo said police officers should respect and preserve human rights being persons in authority.

 

Buena, ICPO operations officer, is accused of allegedly fondling Mika’s hair, neck and waist inside the office of Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police officer-in-charge, last week.

 

Buena denied the allegations before his superior officer, ICPO OIC-director Eugenio Espejo, saying he was just joking.

 

The Office of the Regional State Prosecutor-6 assured it will keep tabs of Mika’s case against Buena since it involves a police officer.

 

Assistant regional state prosecutor Virgilio Garcia said they will make sure that no whitewash will happen if Mika sues Buena before the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office.

 

The Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has ordered Espejo to investigate the allegations against Buena.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, chided Espejo for trying to shun his responsibility to investigate the case by forwarding the matter to the regional headquarters.

 

“That’s not how you lead a unit. He should take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates,” Cuevas said.

 

Espejo said he has ordered Rosales, Buena’s classmate at the PNP Academy, to file an incident report relative to Mika’s complaint.

 

Espejo said Buena has been relieved as operations division chief pending the investigation.

 

The PNP Regional Internal Affairs Service is also investigating PO1 Joan Cepeda for allegedly trying to dissuade Mika from suing Buena.

 

Cepeda denied the allegations saying she was just explaining to the complainant the possible consequences of her complaint against Buena.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WAS the alleged threat by the suspected terrorist cell Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to bomb malls in the country for real or just a hoax?

 

As of this writing, intelligence agencies continue to verify the text messages saying that a JI leader interviewed by a radio station in Metro Manila issued threats to conduct simultaneous bombings on malls all over the country.

 

The threatening text messages quoted a certain Kumander Arcing-Diro of JI that they will mount mass bombing of one branch of a popular mall chain in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao at exactly 2pm of December 8.

 

The Police Regional Office (PRO-6) headed by Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas said they have yet to ascertain the veracity of the information.

 

Upon receiving the information, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) dispatched its forces to conduct checkpoints and security on malls around the city.

 

Emergency ambulances of the Iloilo City Crisis Management Center and bomb-sniffing dogs were also deployed to a mall right after authorities received the text messages.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, said they did not take chances and decided to send their resources to the bombing target.

 

“We assure the safety of our malls and people should not be apprehensive with going to malls,” Espejo said.

 

A check with military intelligence sources said they have yet to receive confirmatory reports on the purported JI threat.

 

“But we cannot take chances. It is better to be cautious,” an intelligence source told The Daily Guardian in a text message.

 

Cuevas said similar response was also made in other cities in Western Visayas as a precautionary measure.

 

Aside from malls, the Philippine Coast Guard also doubled the security at strategic ports in Region 6.

 

PCG-Iloilo station chief Harold Jarder said they deployed bomb-sniffing dogs to make sure that no bombs and contrabands get through the ports.

 

The PRO-6 director said the PNP is now on alert with the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebration. The police are also gearing for incursions by the New People’s Army (NPA) when the Communist Party of the Philippines celebrates its anniversary December 26.

 

Cuevas said they have received intelligence reports that the NPA will attack six Iloilo towns – Bingawan, Calinog, Lambunao, Tubungan, Leon, and San Joaquin.

 

PRO-6 orders probe on ranking cop

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has ordered the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to conduct a full-blown investigation on the alleged sexual harassment charges leveled at Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena.

 

The order of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, is in contrast to the plan of Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, to ask the regional headquarters to conduct the probe on Buena to avoid perceptions of a “white wash.”

 

Cuevas said the ICPO should take the cudgels of investigating the case because it involves one of its officers.

 

The PRO-6 chief said the allegations against Buena are grave offenses which must be investigated.

 

Cuevas said Buena could be dismissed from service and lose his benefits if the charges against him are proven.

 

Buena, the ICPO operations division chief, is facing sexual harassment charges filed by a certain Mika, a City Hall casual employee detailed at the LaPaz police station.

 

Mika claimed Buena fondled her hair, chest and waist 9am of December 4 inside the office of Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police officer-in-charge.

 

Buena, in his conversation with Espejo over the weekend, admitted touching Mika’s hair and chest but denied squeezing her waist.

 

Buena also told Espejo that it was meant for a joke.

 

Cuevas also ordered the ICPO to investigate PO1 Joan Cepeda of the Women and Children’s Desk for allegedly trying to convince Mika not to sue Buena.

 

The Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) is also conducting a parallel investigation on Cepeda, according to Senior Supt. Robert Page.

 

Page said Cepeda’s action is considered a serious offense.

 

“They should investigate the case and gather evidences for the filing of cases if there are complaints filed with their office,” Page said.

 

Buena was also involved in the alleged tampering of evidence following the drug-bust and shootout by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency against suspected drug peddler Noel “White” Dineros more than a year ago.

 

Buena allegedly retrieved Dineros’ cellphone and deleted text messages which might have proved vital to his case. The allegations against Buena, however, remain unresolved.   

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) yesterday dispatched its personnel around the city following reports that a terrorist group will conduct bombings in the country, particularly in Visayas.

 

The information on the planned bombings by the Jemaah Islamiya (JI) circulated through text messages saying that a top leader of the suspected terrorist cell told an international news network about their attacks.

 

The text message said JI will target malls and commercial areas in their bombing operations.

 

The ICPO quickly dispatched the Iloilo City Mobile Group to mount checkpoints near malls and business areas.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, confirmed the existence of the text messages although he hoped it is just a hoax.

 

Cuevas said the ICPO movement is a normal reaction to threats to prevent untoward incidents.

 

PRO-6 said it continues to verify the text messages by counterchecking the information with other intelligence agencies.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo said the checkpoints are preemptive in nature although they have been conducting such operation as part of their anti-crime drives and to implement traffic-related regulations.

 

 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHO should be blamed for the sudden power outage in Iloilo City prior to the “Dream Match” between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya Sunday morning?

 

The management of Panay Electric Co., the sole power distributor in the city, denied any responsibility for the two successive brownouts past 10am the other day.

 

Engr. Randy Pastolero, executive assistant to Peco president Miguel Cacho, said their substations and distribution lines did not experience any glitch hours before the match began.

 

What Peco noticed, Pastolero said, was the sudden disconnection of their substation linked to the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

 

Pastolero said the problem could have been with the Napocor facility or the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) connection.

 

“As far as Peco is concerned, we did not encounter any problem in our system. It could be connected to our providers,” Pastolero said.

 

Pastolero said he also received information that several areas covered by the three Iloilo Electric Cooperatives also suffered power outages at the same time the brownouts occurred in the city. 

 

In a statement, Transco management also denied experiencing any problem which led to the brownouts.

 

Transco said it was on normal operation Sunday and that it has not experienced any power interruption on said day.

 

“This is to clarify conflicting reports aired on radio stations regarding the real cause of power interruption in Iloilo City,” Transco said.

 

Panay Power Corp. (PPC) said the brownout was caused by external faults either from the TransCo and/or Peco transmission lines.

 

Engr. Adrian Moncada, Global Business Power Corp. assistant vice president, said PPC engines did not break down and all its feeders were back on-line at 10:56 am.  

 

Representatives from Peco, Napocor, Peco and Panay Power Corp. met yesterday to discuss the problem and prepare measures for the Holidays.

 

Pastolero said Peco does not want a repeat of the brownouts during the Christmas and New Year ’s Eve celebration last year.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada yesterday scoffed at what he described as a “desperate effort” of Suplico to gain sympathy and support in the face of a humiliating defeat over the province’s 2009 annual budget.

 

“He fails to understand that the basic flaw lies in him, and not in the veto exercised by Governor Niel Tupas over Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-05,” Mejorada said.

 

Suplico yesterday sent a text message requesting Tupas to withdraw his veto on the P55-million hazard pay for public health workers.

 

Suplico said the governor should be concerned with the welfare of health workers who have been expecting what is due them.

 

The issue is the legality of the insertion of P55 million that Suplico “set aside or reserved” for the hazard pay of provincial health workers in the event the courts rule in their favor in civil cases filed against the Province, Mejorada said.

 

“Clearly, this issue is pending before the civil court, and it does not meet the definition of a statutory obligation as contemplated in the Local Government Code,” he said.

 

Mejorada said Suplico is trying to stir up emotions of health workers in a “desperate effort” to avoid blame for yet another legal debacle over the annual budget of the province.

 

He described Suplico’s move as “clutching at straws to prevent crashing down from a humiliating fiasco.”

 

Besides, the proper procedure is an override of the veto, and not for the governor to withdraw his veto, he added.

 

Mejorada said Suplico wants to “camouflage the rudimentary blunder” made as chairman of the Committee on Appropriations in crafting the 2009 annual budget of the province.

 

In his veto message, Tupas thumbed down the appropriation ordinance for not being in accordance with a basic requirement that appropriations must be clearly spell out the figures according to the allotment class.

 

What happened was that the ordinance lumped the entire amounts for each department without classifying the budget for personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay, he said.

 

“This is very embarrassing,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A JOKE may turn out to be a serious problem for a ranking Iloilo City police official who is facing sexual harassment charges lodged by a non-uniformed personnel assigned at the LaPaz police station.

 

Alias Mika (not her real name) claimed that Senior Insp. Virgilio Buena, operations chief of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), touched her hair, chest and waist inside the office of Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police officer-in-charge last week.

 

Mika, who is a casual employee hired by City Hall and assigned to do clerical jobs at the LaPaz PNP station, said Buena even asked her personal questions and offered to send her to school.

 

The complainant said she ran out of the office for fear that things will go out of hand.

 

Mika filed her complaint with the Women and Children’s Concern Desk even as her family prepares to lodge formal charges with the prosecutor.

 

Over the weekend, Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO officer-in-charge, said Buena admitted touching Mika’s hair and mole in her chest but denied squeezing or fondling her waist.

 

“Buena also said that what he did was just a joke, lahug-lahug lang,” Espejo said.

 

The Daily Guardian tried to get Buena’s side but he cannot be reached.

 

In an interview over Aksyon Radyo, Mika said Buena did not mention that he was only joking when he made the alleged advances to her.

 

The complainant said they will pursue her case against Buena despite reported efforts by some quarters to amicably settle the incident.

 

Espejo said he will recommend that the Police Regional Office-6 will investigate Buena instead of the ICPO taking the cudgels “to avoid perceptions of a white wash.”

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