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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.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE rehabilitation of Iloilo in the aftermath of the destructive flood spawned by typhoon Frank last June 21 will begin next year as the House of Representatives committee on appropriations has approved the P8-billion Panay rehabilitation fund.

 

Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. (3rd district, Iloilo) said the rehabilitation fund is in the form of a supplemental budget which was approved by the committee on appropriations chaired by Antique Rep. Exequiel Javier.

 

Defensor said bulk of the funds will go to the city and province of Iloilo which were severely damaged by the typhoon.

 

“In my district alone, a total of 10 bridges were affected, four of which were totally damaged. There are no specific allocations in the supplemental budget but we have a tentative list of probable projects. We will evaluate these probable projects and prioritize those that must implemented. Then we will make the program of works for the projects,” he said.

 

Defensor, who is the House majority floor leader, said the funds will be taken from the simplified net income tax system which is expected to raise P12 billion.

 

The supplemental budget will have to hurdle past the House plenary before it is transmitted to the Senate for approval.

 

Defensor said he will ask President Gloria Arroyo to certify the passage of the budget as urgent so the rehabilitation can start.

 

“Hopefully the House can pass the budget in the plenary before we go on break next week. And we expect the Senate to pass it January 2009 so we can start the rehabilitation March or April,” Defensor said.

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