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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROUND up the “callboys.”

 

This was the latest order of Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) as they try to crack the case of a foundation executive who was found dead inside his hotel room Tuesday morning.

 

Cuevas said they suspect that the culprits in the death of Epi Ramos of Cabatuan, Iloilo might be callboys or male sex workers who either work in nightspots or as freelancers.

 

Ramos, a native of Cabatuan, Iloilo, succumbed to 21 stab wounds in his body, according to the autopsy report of the PNP Crime Laboratory. He was found dead inside room 44 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel Tuesday morning.

 

Ramos was the chief executive officer of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the Department of Health. 

 

The victim checked in the hotel January 24 for a seminar on diseases identification mounted by their foundation in behalf of the DOH.

 

Cuevas said a syndicate preying on homosexuals is behind Ramos’ death.

 

The group takes advantage of their victims’ sexual preference in order to rob and kill them, Cuevas added.

 

Cuevas ordered the Iloilo City Police Office to resolve the case immediately even as he advised hotels to implement stricter security measures.  

 

ICPO officer-in-charge Eugenio Espejo said they will try to trace callboys in the city.

 

The suspects in Ramos’ death are nowhere to be found, according to the Iloilo City police.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City proper police station chief, said the two culprits cannot be found in their respective addresses.

 

Carganillo said they were able to establish the identities of the suspects through the testimonies of witnesses who recently surfaced.

 

The police also came up with a facial sketch of one of the suspects based on the witnesses’ statements.

 

Police investigation said Ramos and the suspects went inside Room 404 past 8pm Monday.

 

If there is one glitch in the investigation of the case, it’s the scant information police gathered from security guard Jeffrey Lagayan who was on duty at the hotel Monday evening to Tuesday morning.

 

Carganillo said they did not get enough details from Lagayan as regards the suspects’ profiles because there was no record of their movement in the hotel.

 

Lagayan earlier said he can only recognize the suspects, who went out of the hotel past 1am Tuesday, through their body build.

 

The security guard said he failed to see the faces of the culprits when they went out of the hotel.

 

Scene of the crime operatives recovered latent fingerprints inside the room which Carganillo said could help in solving the incident.

 

Robbery remains the motive for Ramos’ death after police found out that the P100,000 registration fee of the seminar participants was missing from his room.

 

Also missing were the victim’s two laptop computers, two cellphones and his wallet containing undetermined amount of cash.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE illegal drugs syndicates are also feeling the pinch of the global economic crisis, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6).

 

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional director, said shabu sold on the streets are laced with chemicals such as tawas or alum and naphthalene after raw materials for the “poor man’s cocaine” increased.

 

Naphthalene is the main ingredient of insect repellants.

 

Sanchez said the increase in prices of shabu chemicals could be attributed to the global financial crisis and intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

 

The PDEA chief warned drug users that shabu sold nowadays are more dangerous because of tawas and naphthalene.

 

Based on their monitoring reports, Sanchez said shabu is sold at P12, 000 to P15, 000 per gram.

 

Drug users have now shifted to Ecstacy and cocaine which are relatively cheaper than shabu.

 

Sanchez said they are also monitoring the entry of prohibited substances in Jaro, Iloilo City which will celebrate its annual fiesta Monday.

 

The PDEA chief said several drug personalities were spotted in Jaro district.

 

REWARD

 

The Iloilo provincial Capitol will allocate P1 million in support of the “all-out-war” against the illegal drug trade.

 

Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. yesterday directed all chiefs of police in 42 municipalities and one component city to “wipe out” illegal drugs in the province, which he described as the biggest menace to society.

 

“Illegal drugs pose the biggest threat to our people,” Tupas told a command conference held at the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) at Camp Sumagaysay, Sta. Barbara.

 

“We have to throw everything we’ve got at these drug syndicates,” he added.

 

Tupas said he will accept no excuses for failure because the perennial problem of inadequate resources will now be addressed by the Iloilo provincial government.

 

The P1-million fund will be utilized for a system of rewards, training and transportation needs of the PNP working in tandem with the PDEA, provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said.

 

Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. (5th district, Iloilo) vowed to secure more budgetary funding for the operations of the PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board in the 2010 budget.

 

Describing the present appropriations for PDEA and DDB as “puny”, the younger Tupas said the government is only showing that it is not serious about defeating the drug problem in the country.

link: http://travelpinoytravel.multiply.com/journal/item/260

Here is the unedited blog entry:

Panay News is a local newspapaer based in Iloilo City.

As a newspaper, it is just expected from them to provide news reportage that is fair honest and credible.

But how can Panay News become fair and honest when in the first place all they do is just copy imaes on the internet and use it on their paper without even giving credit to the rightful owners of the photograph?

I myself is a victim of this. Last January 25 issue of the newspaper, I was apalled to see that not one but four of my photos were used in this newspaper without even mentioning my name or Byahilo.com

This is not the first time that Panay News did this to me.

Last year HUBLAS, their Ilonggo paper also used my two photos.

Now, when I sent them email, demanding for compensation for the images they used, they just simply ignored it. Until now the manangement has not responded to my email. Only the writer has contacted me, which I told him to ask his boss to contact me.

How dare this news paper make income by selling this newspaper while grabbing copyrighted materials. This is not fair. What they did is stealing. And this is against the journalistic ethics which they all are bound to abide to.

IF YOU BELIEVE IN MY FIGHT, PLEASE REPOST THIS IN YOUR FRIENDSTER, MULTIPLY, MYSPACE OR FACEBOOK OR FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR FRIEND.

It’s time to tell the world that Panay News is not worthy of being called a newspaper.

IT IS TRASH.

Enrico Dee
byahilo.com

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MORE than 300 employees in Western Visayas will lose their jobs because of the looming shutdown and retrenchment of some businesses in Iloilo and Negros Occidental this month.

 

Amy Judicpa, public information officer of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole-6), said they received notices of permanent closure from six companies while six more firms will downsize their manpower.

 

Judicpa said two of the companies that will shutdown are based in Iloilo,  four are in Negros Occidental.

 

The businesses that will retrench some of their workers are all based in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City.

 

A total of 320 workers will be affected by the closure and retrenchment of these businesses.

 

But Judicpa said the figures this month are not very alarming compared to January 2008 where 21 establishments closed shop while 13 others laid off their employees.

 

Judicpa said the shutdowns and retrenchments of businesses in the region were not caused by the global financial crisis which resulted in mass layoffs in other parts of Luzon and Visayas.

 

“Western Visayas is primarily service, agriculture and tourism-oriented economy unlike other areas in Luzon which are manufacturing- and export-based economies, thus, they are vulnerable to the crisis. The number of displaced workers in Luzon and other areas are bigger compared to Region 6,” she added.

 

Up to 300,000 people could lose their jobs in the Philippines over the next six months as the global financial crisis deepens, warned Dole Secretary Marianito Roque.

 

Some 15,000 have been laid off over the past two months while 19,000 others had their work week cut to four days or less, Roque said.

 

The labor department chief said a “worst-case scenario” would see the number of jobless rise to between 250,000 and 300,000 by the end of June.

 

He described the job cuts so far, which include more than 10,000 in the Calabarzon industrial belt south of Manila, as being within the “manageable level” in relation to a nationwide work force of about 37 million.

 

Unemployment in the Philippines currently stands at 6.8 percent.

 

INTERVENTIONS

 

Dole-6 director Aida M. Estabillo yesterday met with the heads of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in the region to discuss measures that will cushion the effects of the crisis on the labor sector.

 

The meeting focused on forms of assistance to workers affected by the global slowdown, Estabillo said.

 

“It is not ‘business as usual’ in the department because of the urgency of the situation. We urge all concerned agencies to give the affected workers the necessary interventions as fast as they can,” Estabillo said.

 

The initial action of the labor department is to profile the displaced workers and assess possible assistance such as job placement through the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) for local employment and the POEA for overseas work.

 

TESDA was tasked to provide training for skills upgrading/retooling while Dole and OWWA will extend help for displaced local and overseas Filipino workers.

 

Estabillo said Dole has three livelihood programs under its Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs (CLEEP): Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement of Fisherfolks (ISLA), and Financial Assistance and Micro-Finance for Expatriates (FAME).

 

The three programs will benefit not just the displaced workers but also the long-term unemployed individuals, out-of-school-youth and fisher folks.

 

TUPAD shall be implemented in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), PNP, TESDA and PhilHealth.

 

ISLA shall be undertaken with LGUs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). FAME shall be implemented by the OWWA.

 

Estabillo said Dole-6 has earmarked P8.578 million for the initial implementation of TUPAD and ISLA in Region-6 in the first quarter of 2009.

 

OWWA-6 head James Mendiola said their help desk in their office at General Luna Street, Iloilo City, is now operational.

 

“In fact, the Help Desk has already assisted 16 displaced overseas Filipino workers from the region,” Mendiola said.

 

OWWA-6 has a 24-hour hotline number – 0917-8963111 – where OFWs can call or text for assistance.

 

 

TESDA 6 will install an on-line program at OWWA’s Help Desk to immediately capture the profile of workers who wish to avail of its training programs.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A THREE-man panel will investigate the alleged involvement of two Iloilo provincial prosecutors in the illegal drug trade.

 

Regional State Prosecutor Domingo Laurea said Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. ordered the probe following the controversial “Balasan Boys” exposé of top Capitol officials against Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (IPPO) chief Bernabe Dusaban and Prosecutor Ricaflor Obsequio.

 

Laurea said he will head the investigating panel with members Capiz Provincial Prosecutor’s Office chief Rodolfo Beluso Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office chief Peter Baliao.

 

The investigation will begin Wednesday next week and will focus on the discovery of the names of Dusaban and Obsequio in a piece of paper inside the wallet of suspected drug pusher Henry Caspillo.

 

Laurea said they will also probe the failure of the IPPO to submit to his office the drug cases against Caspillo and Rolly Tiope for review. The DOJ requires automatic review of all dismissed drug cases handled by prosecutors.

 

Dusaban and the IPPO got flak from Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for dismissing the non-bailable charges against Caspillo and Tiope who were arrested for alleged drug pushing in Balasan, Iloilo last year.

 

Tupas also revealed the names Dusaban and Obsequio were found inside Caspillo’s wallet.

 

The Capitol then sent a letter to Dusaban threatening to withdraw the P1.7-million financial aid to the IPPO.

 

Iloilo Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. (5th district) also called for a congressional inquiry on the “Balasan Boys” controversy which will begin next month.

 

Dusaban said he is ready to face the congressional probe to clear his name of any involvement in the illegal drug trade.

 

UNCONVINCED

 

But Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said he remained “unconvinced” that DOJ secretary Raul Gonzalez is dead serious about uncovering wrongdoings in his own backyard.

 

“I think that Secretary Gonzalez is just forced by circumstances and the revelation that Provincial Prosecutor (Bernabe) Dusaban violated DOJ regulations that require an automatic review of dismissals made on drug charges that are non-bailable,” Mejorada said in a statement.

 

Just the same, Mejorada said the directive issued by Gonzalez is a “vindication” because it acknowledges that transgressions of the law have been committed in the handling of the so-called “Balasan Boys” cases.

 

The question now that should be asked is why there was apparent haste on the part of Dusaban to hand down the resolutions that allowed Caspillo and Tiope to post bail despite the strong evidence for non-bailable offenses, Mejorada said.

 

He said he finds it hard to believe that Dusaban could carry out the questioned acts “right in the backyard of the justice secretary.”

 

“It boggles my mind to think that a provincial prosecutor would be bold enough to do such wrongful acts unless he had the blessings of the boss,” he said.

 

Mejorada said the exposé has already caused a dramatic about-face in the manner by which Dusaban’s office is handling drug cases.

 

Just two weeks ago, Dusaban approved a resolution finding probable cause against a suspected pusher arrested for selling marijuana in Leon, Iloilo in just one week after the case was filed before his office, he said.

 

“We will continue to monitor the performance of the provincial prosecutor’s office in its disposition of drug cases,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TWO groups of New People’s Army rebels reportedly clashed in the highlands of Central Panay yesterday.

 

Maj. Antonio Tumnog, spokesman of the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion in Aklan, said residents in the boundary of Calinog, Iloilo and Tapaz, Capiz reported hearing gunfire in their area.

 

Tumnog said members of the 47th IB patrolled the boundary and later confirmed that two groups of communist rebels led by Kumander Mayok and Kumander Tonying clashed.

 

The Army spokesman said internal conflict within the rebel group could be the reason for the shootout.

 

Tumnog said they are also entertaining the possibility of a mis-encounter between the two groups.

 

More Army soldiers were sent to the area to secure the villages where the clash reportedly happened.

 

Twin encounters between the Army and NPA also happened in Tapaz, Capiz and Negros Occidental resulting to the death of two rebels and the wounding of three others.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TOP energy officials and stakeholders confirmed the power shortage besetting Visayas region, particularly Panay and Negros Occidental.

 

The energy scenario in the region and the necessary actions that must be taken to avert the shortage was presented during the energy summit initiated by the Department of Energy at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel January 14-16.

 

The summit was attended by officials of the National Power Corp. (NPC), National Transmission Corp. (Transco), Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), independent power producers, distribution utilities and other stakeholders in the energy industry.

 

In a summit brief obtained by The Daily Guardian, Crispin “Bingbong” Lamayan, Transco assistant vice president for System Operations-Visayas, confirmed the shortage of reserved electricity in the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) power grid.

 

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

 

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

 

The Transco official also said that Cebu province lacks 291MW with Mactan Island accounting for about 65MW while the power deficit in Bohol reached 38.70MW.

 

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

 

The supply coming from geothermal plants in Leyte, where the grid also gets its power needs, is also decreasing, Lamayan said in several news items last year.

 

The power crisis is attributed to the burgeoning business climate in the region while power sources remained the same.

 

What needs to be done to avert the power crisis by 2010?

 

Mario Pangilinan, PEMC vice president for market operations, presented the Supply Augmentation Plan which is being finalized and will be operational within the period the CNP grid is expected to suffer low electricity supply. This crisis period includes the present until 2010 when new power plants in Visayas are expected to be operational.

 

The summit also came up with action plans based on the needs and peculiarities of each island in Visayas.

 

In Panay, energy officials proposed the deployment of more NPC modular units (generator sets) to augment the island’s power supply. Another solution presented was the uprating of the Negros-Panay transmission by middle of 2010.

 

Another proposal is the possibility of granting renewable energy initiatives before the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9513 (Renewable Energy Law) are finalized.

 

Ilonggo business executive Rex Drilon, president of the Iloilo Local Economic Development Foundation who attended the summit, called for the declaration of a state of emergency in Panay given its power shortage problem.

 

For Negros, the development of the biomass market was encouraged.

 

It was also proposed that incentives will be given to renewable energy investors before the implementation of RA 9513. The rehabilitation of existing power plants in Negros must also be covered by the said incentives.

 

The consortium of the five electric cooperatives in Western Visayas is also seen to develop the subtransmission line and loop and improve electricity supply.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City police are gathering more information on the identities of the suspects who stabbed to death a ranking official of a Department of Health (DOH)-affiliated foundation.

 

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City police station 1 chief, said they are looking at two suspects in the murder of Epi Ramos, chief executive officer of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the DOH.

 

Ramos, 37, of Magallon Street, Cabatuan, Iloilo, was found dead inside Room 404 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel on Jalandoni Street, Iloilo City proper Tuesday morning.

 

He succumbed to more than 20 stab wounds in his chest and head.

 

The victim checked in the hotel January 24 for a seminar on diseases identification mounted by their foundation in behalf of the DOH.

 

Citing the initial information they gathered from the victim’s associates, Carganillo said the Ramos knew the suspects because he allowed them inside his room between 8:30 pm and 9 pm Monday.

 

Carganillo said robbery is the main motive in the crime because of the missing items and cash from Ramos’ room.

 

Missing from Ramos’ room was more than P100,000 registration fee of the seminar participants, two laptop computers, two cellphones and the victim’s wallet containing undetermined amount of cash.

 

Carganillo said they have yet to get more information from security Jeffrey Lagayan who was on duty at the hotel entrance Monday evening.

 

Lagayan said he saw two young males leave the hotel premises around 1am Tuesday. One male wore a brown shirt while the other was clad in a black shirt.

 

Lagayan said he can only identify the two persons by their body build as he failed to clearly see their faces.

 

Carganillo said their investigation could have been easier if the hotel management had records of their guests’ visitors.

 

But investigators are pinning their hopes on the fingerprints found be scene of crime operatives inside Ramos’ room.

 

Ramos graduated valedictorian from Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School in 1988. He once worked as a medical technologist of the Cabatuan Rural Health Unit.

PERSONNEL of a funeral parlor move the body of foundation official Epi Ramos from the premises of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel. (FAA)

PERSONNEL of a funeral parlor move the body of foundation official Epi Ramos from the premises of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel. (FAA)

 

Foundation officer stabbed to death inside room

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT drove two unidentified suspects to stab to death a foundation officer inside a hotel in downtown Iloilo Tuesday?

 

The stab-riddled body of Epi Ramos, of Magallon Street, Cabatuan, Iloilo, was found in Room 404 of Eon Centennial Plaza Hotel on Jalandoni Street, Iloilo City proper.

 

Ramos is the chief executive officer of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation Inc., a partner organization of the Department of Health (DOH).

 

Edmund Valencia, Centennial general manager, said their housekeeping staff at first noticed water coming out of Ramos’ room.

 

Valencia said Ramos checked in the hotel January 24 to attend a seminar sponsored by his foundation.

 

Fellow workers of Ramos also wondered why the victim failed to get out of his room to attend their seminar that morning.

 

Valencia said they tried to call and knock on Ramos’ room to ask if he left the water faucet open but he did not respond. The management later decided to open the room to check on their resident.

 

The hotel staff found the lifeless Ramos on the bathroom floor.

 

Police investigators said Ramos’ room was in disarray, an indication that the suspects may have rummaged through his personal belongings.

 

The victim’s laptop computer was missing but the police have yet to come up with the final inventory.

 

Scene of the crime operatives said Ramos succumbed to more or less 20 stab wounds mostly in his chest.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office officer-in-charge, said Ramos last entered his room with two male companions 8:30pm Monday.

 

Espejo said Ramos introduced his companions to the hotel guard as his visitors. The victim’s nephew who also works as his driver also entered his hotel room but later left after a short conversation.

 

“We are looking at two to three suspects in the case. Our investigators are looking at robbery as the motive,” Espejo added.

 

Atty. Plaridel Nava, Centennial Hotel legal counsel, said Ramos knew the suspects reason why he allowed them inside his room.

 

Valencia said they only allow visitors to enter the guest rooms until 10pm. Visitors are also required to indentify themselves at the front desk for security purposes.

 

Valencia said they will cooperate with the police for the speedy resolution of Ramos’ case.

 

“This is the first time that an incident like this happened in our hotel. But it’s still business as usual for us. The management will cooperate with the authorities,” Valencia said. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AN Ilonggo who allegedly masterminded the so-called “text scam” was arrested in Cavite province the other day through the efforts of one of his victims.

 

Gilbert Tuliba, a native of Tigbauan, Iloilo fell in the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents for an estafa charge.

 

A certain Olive, one of Tuliba’s victims, worked on his arrest with assistance from SPO2 Ramon Oblemar of the Regional Intelligence Office (RIO-6) and the NBI.

 

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo, Olive said Tuliba owes here more or less P700,000 worth of groceries. When she tried collecting his debt, the suspect suddenly disappeared.

 

Olive was able to trace Tuliba after she enticed him to get more items from her grocery on credit.

 

The complainant claimed she later found a logbook in Tuliba’s old apartment containing the names of his victims in the text scam racket.

 

Under the fraudulent scheme, a text message is sent to the victims informing them that they won a car or money via electronic raffle. The prize can only be claimed if the “winner” deposits P5,000 in the message sender’s bank account.

 

Olive said Tuliba, who uses numerous aliases and addresses, may have raked in some P4 million because of the scam.

 

Police records show that Tuliba has a string of swindling cases in Dingle, Tigbauan, Janiuay and Passi City. His brushes with the law started when he was only 12 years old.

Members of Tribu Paghida-et parade their championship trophy Monday afternoon. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Members of Tribu Paghida-et parade their championship trophy Monday afternoon. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TRIBU Paghida-et, the 2009 Dinagyang Ati-ati dance champion, of the LaPaz National High School (LPNHS) is raring to represent Iloilo City to the annual Aliwan Festival.

 

Paghida-et choreographer Ramil Huyatid said Aliwan is one of the most prestigious competitions where they can showcase the country’s best tourism event.

 

The Aliwan, which is mounted by the Manila Broadcasting Corp., is considered the “festival of festivals” in the country.

 

Huyatid, who won the best choreographer award in the last two Dinagyang festivals, said they are willing to join the Aliwan with the support of the City government and other sectors.

 

“It would be a dream come true for us and the city if we win the Aliwan championship,” Huyatid said.

 

Huyatid also thanked the LPNHS Parent-Teachers Association, sponsors and dancers for retaining the Dinagyang tiara this year.

 

He also congratulated other tribes for mounting impressive performances during the Ati-ati competition which further elevated the status of Dinagyang.

 

Azucena Falales, LPNHS principal and Paghida-et manager, said even the parents of their dancers stayed up late at night during their practice.

 

“It was the cooperation of everybody from the teachers, dancers, parents and the LaPaz community that inspired us to do our best and retain the crown,” Falales said.

 

Huyatid said their performance could have been better if the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation did not reduce the number of dancers in each participating tribe.   

 

“Our style this year suited a tribe with more dancers. But we did our best even if we only practiced for a month,” he added.

 

Huyatid said he continues to study and train in seminars to improve his craft “just like other choreographers before us.” 

 

Members and sponsors of Paghida-et held a motorcade around Iloilo City Monday afternoon to celebrate their victory this year.

STILL THE CHAMP The colorful and energetic Tribu Paghida-et of LaPaz National High School is still the best in this year’s Dinagyang Festival. The tribe is supported by The Daily Guardian.  (Photo by Tara Yap)

STILL THE CHAMP The colorful and energetic Tribu Paghida-et of LaPaz National High School is still the best in this year’s Dinagyang Festival. The tribe is supported by The Daily Guardian. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TRIBU Paghida-et of LaPaz National High School (LPNHS) retained the championship in the 2009 Dinagyang dance competition held January 25 during the awarding and closing rites capped by fireworks display and circus performances.

 

Paghida-et romped with the special awards for best in head dress and costume and the minor awards for best in costume during performance, music, performance, choreography.

 

Ramil Huyatid of Paghida-et won the best choreographer award.

 

Paghida-et is managed by Azucena Falales, LPNHS principal. The champion tribe will represent the Dinagyang festival to the Aliwan festival in Metro Manila later this year.

 

Returning Tribu Bola-Bola of Iloilo National High School settled for the first runner-up honors aside from winning the best in street dancing award.

 

The 2nd runner-up is Tribu Ilonganon of Jalandoni Memorial High School in Lapuz, Iloilo City while 3rd runner-up went to Tribu Silak of Iloilo City National High School

 

The 4th runner-up honors went to first timer Tribu Himal-us of Guimaras.

 

Tribu Kasag of Banate, Iloilo won the championship in the Kasadyahan festival. It also garnered the special awards for best in production design, choreography and performance. 

 

Tribu Sa-ad of Leganes, Iloilo got first runner-up honors aside from winning the best in street dancing special awards.

 

Second runner-up is Tribu Madya-as of Mandurriao National High School. Tribu Bayluhay of San Joquin won third runner-up honors and the best theme concept award.

 

The fourth runner-up honors went to Tribu Tultugan of Maasin, Iloilo.

 

DSS Fireworks from the Dumaguete City retained the crown in the “Luces in the Sky” Dinagyang pyrolympics held Janaury 23-24.

 

Iloilo City’s Scorpion Fireworks won first runner-up honors while the entry of Laguna province won second runner-up honors.

 

In the drum, bugle and lyre contest, Alibango Elementary School of Alimodian, Iloilo won first place, Arevalo Elementary School landed on second place while Baluarte Elementary School won third place 

 

In the sponsors Mardi Gras held in the afternoon of January 24, Colegio de San Jose cornered the best in costume, street dancing and discipline plums.

 

M. Lhuliller pawnshop won the best float award.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

DEPARTMENT of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. will appeal the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) Board of Governor to the Supreme Court to suspend the former from the bar for one year.

 

Gonzalez will also file a disbarment case against Elly Pamatong, a perennial presidential candidate, who filed a complaint with the IBP resulting in the recommendation.

 

The IBP recommended the suspension of Gonzalez for allegedly distributing money to help in the campaign of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s allies during the May 2007 elections.

 

The IBP’s commission on bar discipline approved the “suspension from the practice of law for obstruction of the electoral process for his reprehensible conduct of openly and publicly offering P10,000 to any barrio captain in his area of political influence who can give a 12-0 vote in favor of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s senatorial candidates and taking into consideration his previous professional misconduct.”

 

Gonzalez’s said the P10,000 to each punong barangay in Iloilo City was an incentive for them to encourage their constituents to vote for administration’s senatorial bets.

 

The money came from his own pocket, he added.

 

The justice department chief downplayed the new IBP ruling and referred to Pamatong as “the complainant here is a nut.”

 

“The IBP resolution is not executory. It is only recommendatory. The final say belongs to the SC. I’m not worried about these things. Anyway, the complainant here is a nut. The things he does borders on him being either a genius or a nut,” he said.

 

Gonzalez slammed the leaking of the IBP resolution saying disbarment cases are confidential.

A police officer guards Rammy Moquete, one of Iloilo province’s most wanted persons, after he surrendered Monday. (Photo by Tara Yap)

A police officer guards Rammy Moquete, one of Iloilo province’s most wanted persons, after he surrendered Monday. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A NOTORIOUS group of robbers and gun-for-hires operating in Iloilo province is unraveling after one of their members was arrested and spilled everything to the police.

 

Rammy Moquete, a native of Dingle, Iloilo, surrendered to Mayor Bienvenido Margarico Monday after he was tagged as the leader of the so-called Moquite gang, a group engaged in robbery-holdups and assassinations.

 

Moquete’s name surfaced after Willy Lopez was arrested by the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) Special Operations Group at Brgy. Liboo, Dingle over the weekend for theft charges.

 

Lopez said he is a member of the Moquite group that robbed a lending firm in Maasin, Iloilo last year.

 

Lopez also admitted their group’s role in the botched heist of the delivery van of an Iloilo City-based feed mill in San Miguel town December 23, 2008. He was wounded in a shootout with police officer Hernando Saguan who responded to the robbery incident. He escaped from the crime scene until his arrest.

 

Lopez had also admitted to the shooting to death of Eddie Pedrajas, a cousin of suspected drug lord Richard Prevendido, in Jaro, Iloilo City August 2008. He said their target was Prevendido but the gunmen mistook Pedrajas for their actual mark.

 

Lopez said he was the one who conducted the surveillance operations on Prevendido and even gave details of their plan to IPPO investigators.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said a certain “Boyet” ordered the hit on Prevendido for P200,000.

 

Dela Paz said he has the full name of the alleged mastermind in the Prevendido/Pedrajas case but refused to reveal it until they have filed appropriate charges against the suspects.

 

Lopez also tagged their group in the killing of Honda Cars supervisor Rustico Vega January 9 after he was asked by their leaders to drive one of the two getaway motorcycles used in the hit.

 

But Lopez refused because he was still recovering from his wounds during the foiled San Miguel robbery.

 

Lopez also revealed that drivers of a taxi fleet in Iloilo City either delivered the guns used in their operations or transported them to their safe houses. He also mentioned the names of a certain Gabriel Poblacion and “Henry” as other members of their group.

 

Margarico said he fetched Moquete at Brgy. Pangilihan, Janiuay near the boundary of Lambunao municipality.

 

Margarico said Moquete, a native of Dingle, Iloilo, surfaced upon hearing Lopez’s allegations in the media.

 

Margarico brought Moquete to the IPPO headquarters in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo for investigation and verification of his police records.

 

Moquete, according to court and police records, has two standing warrants of arrest for robbery and assault. He also has two pending robbery in band cases lodged in Lambunao and a robbery case in Cabatuan.

 

During the tactical interrogation, Moquete also owned up to the San Miguel highway robbery and robbery-holdup of another lending firm in Pototan. But he denied any involvement in the Pedrajas and Vega slay cases.

 

Moquete said the Vega contract was Lopez’s own transaction and he has no hand in the hit. He added

that he does not engage in assassinations as what Lopez claimed.

 

Moquete said the contract on Vega’s head was offered to their group but he did not participate in the planning and execution.

 

WELL-ORGANIZED

 

According to the IPPO intelligence records, the Moquete group is an offshoot of the Roger Palma robbery group. Palma was arrested last year by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and is now detained at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center.

 

Edgar Cordero, the alleged gunman in the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, took over Palma’s gang until his death in Butuan City September 2008.

 

After Cordero’s death, the Moquete group has figured prominently in the intelligence holdings of the police.

 

Moquete and his group were also accused of robbing an ukay-ukay collector last year. He also has a pending case for assault in Lambunao but he was able to post bail.

 

Dela Paz said the Moquete group has contacts within the firms they target reason why they manage to accomplish some of their operations.

 

In the case of the Maasin lending firm heist, a cook within the company gave the Moquete group vital information on the establishment’s operations and the movements of its collectors.

 

A helper of the feed mill’s client in San Miguel tipped the gang members of the delivery van’s routine, dela Paz said.

 

“This group is well-organized and equipped because they have motorcycles and guns at their disposal. And they have good intelligence network,” the IPPO chief said.

 

Dela Paz said they will relay the information they gathered from Lopez relative to the Pedrajas and Vega slay cases to the concerned police units for their evaluation. (With reports from Tara Yap)

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE best friend of a farm worker from Lambunao, Iloilo is suspected of beheading the latter in Dumangas, Iloilo January 1.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office director, said they have pinpointed the culprit in the beheading of Eduardo Lozarito, 18, of Brgy. Cayan Oeste, Lambunao.

 

Dela Paz said witnesses fingered John Sandoval of Sitio Buhang, Brgy. Ilaya First, Dumangas as the one who severed Lozarito’s head in the evening of January 1.

 

Lozarito’s body was found in a rice field January 2.

 

Dela Paz said Sandoval is Lozarito’s best friend. The suspect even allowed the victim to stay in his house while working in Dumangas.

 

Aside from Sandoval, the police also tagged brothers Reagan and Raymond Silva and Elpidio Legaspi, all residents of Ilaya First, as suspects in the grisly incident.

 

According to Dumangas police investigation, Lozarito earned Sandoval’s ire after the victim had a relationship with the suspect’s sister.

 

Lozarito was last seen alive in the evening of January 1 while answering a call in his cellphone. He then went out of Sandoval’s house until he was found dead the following day.

Honda shooting suspect denies charges but confirms offer

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE person tagged in the shooting to death of a manager of Honda Cars-Iloilo confirmed being offered the contract on victim’s head last December 2008.

 

Rodolfo Reconquista, 50, of Poblacion, Pototan, Iloilo relayed this information to Senior Insp. Ronaldo Palomo, Iloilo City Mobile Group (ICMG) deputy chief.

 

Reconquista was “picked up” Friday afternoon at brgy. Poblacion, Pototan by members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Mandurriao police station and the ICMG.

 

Reconquista said a certain Dolfo hired his services to kill Rustico Vega, service manager of Honda Cars-Iloilo along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City. The offer came before Christmas Day last year.

 

But Reconquista said he turned down the offer because he could not carry out the mission. He was later surprised when he heard in the news that Vega was gunned down January 9.

 

Reconquista said the plot on Vega’s life was planned at Brgys. Bolilao and Bakhaw, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

But he could not ascertain the gunmen and mastermind of the assassination plot even as he denied having a hand in the crime.

 

Palomo said Reconquista was later released from NBI custody Saturday because he was arrested after “hot pursuit operation period”.

 

The Iloilo City Prosecutors Office advised the PNP and the NBI to release Reconquista to avoid legal complications.

 

Palomo said they were able to link Reconquista to Vega’s case based on the testimonies of a witness and the facial sketch of the alleged gunman.

 

The facial sketch was based on the statement of a witness who saw Reconquista in Molo, Iloilo City minutes after the shooting. The witness said Reconquista was wearing a black jacket and held a helmet which fit the police’s description of Vega’s gunman.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said it has identified the suspects in the robbery and killing of a retired Australian police in Ajuy, Iloilo last January 6.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they will reveal the names of the suspects in the killing of Australian national Werner Holz once they have filed criminal charges against them.

 

As to the motive, dela Paz said this will be known in the case that they will file anytime soon.

 

Dela Paz said they are carefully putting together important details in the case to come up with an airtight case against the suspects.

 

Dela Paz said members of Task Force Werner did not rush the investigation so that they can study every piece of information that cam their way.

 

“We want to make sure that we have all the right information so we can put up a strong case against the suspects,” he added.

 

Three suspects barged inside the room of Holz and his wife Vivian nee Posadas, early morning of January 6.

 

The suspects stabbed the victim 24 times and took away more than P1 million worth of cash and jewelry.

 

A P100,000 reward is offered to persons who can provide information on the suspects in the Holz’s death.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

POLICE arrested Friday afternoon a suspect in the shooting to death of Honda Cars-Iloilo service manager Rustico Vega last January 9.

 

Combined forces of the National Bureau of Investigation, Mandurriao PNP, Iloilo City Mobile Group and Pototan PNP arrested Rodolfo “Liit” Reconquista, 50, of Pototan, Iloilo on the strength of a “pickup subpoena.”

 

Police brought Reconquista to the police station for questioning and identification by the witnesses.

 

An unidentified witness positively identified Reconquista as the person sitting behind the driver of the motorcycle used in Vega’s shooting.

 

The witness said Reconquista was wearing a black jacket and helmet and held a gun.

 

He claimed seeing the suspect’s face when the latter removed his helmet after Vega was shot in front of their office along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Reconquista, who is reportedly involved in criminal activities in the 3rd district, is detained at the Mandurriao police station.

 

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office OIC-director, earlier said a witness came up with a facial sketch of the shooter of Vega.

 

Vega had just alighted from a passenger jeep when he was shot by two motorcycle-riding suspects in front of their office around 8am of January 9. Vega died at the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital an hour later.

 

WORK RELATED

 

Espejo said they are training their sights on Vega’s work as the reason for his death.

 

The ICPO chief earlier said they were looking into the altercation between Vega and the owner of a black Honda CRV involved in a hit-and-run incident in Banate, Iloilo October 24, 2008.

 

Based on the investigation report cobbled by the police, the owner tried to have his car fixed at Honda-Iloilo ahead of other vehicles but Vega insisted on their “first come, first serve” policy.

 

An altercation erupted with the owner allegedly threatening Vega.

 

On October 27, 2008, members of the Banate police went to Honda Cars to inquire if a black Honda car was brought for repair which Vega confirmed.

 

The victim narrated the altercation between him and the owner of the CRV which was then reflected in the Banate police blotters.

 

The hit-and-run case in Banate was settled out of court.

 

On December 19, 2008, a woman went to the house of Vega and discussed with the victim her plans to buy a Honda car. But the victim suggested that she inquire with their office about sales concerns.

 

In the evening of the same date, the woman sent text messages to Vega inviting him out

to dinner which the latter refused. Later, the same woman asked him to meet her at Buhang Bridge in Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

On December 20, Vega received a text message from the same woman inviting him to chat and drinks at Smallville complex in Mandurriao.

 

The victim left their office Christmas party and confronted the woman why she was

acting that way. The woman said she happened to like Vega reason why she kept on inviting him out.

 

Vega revealed the woman’s “advances” to his wife who later narrated everything to investigators after the victim was killed.

CRIME SCENE. A scene of the crime operative investigates the parking lot of Honda Cars Iloilo along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City where repair supervisor Rustico Vega Jr. was gunned down Friday morning. (Photo by Tara Yap)

CRIME SCENE. A scene of the crime operative investigates the parking lot of Honda Cars Iloilo along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City where repair supervisor Rustico Vega Jr. was gunned down Friday morning. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Honda Cars supervisor shot dead

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TWO unidentified suspects gunned down a manager of a car dealer branch along Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City in a broad daylight shooting 8am Friday.

 

Rustico “Rusty” Vega Jr. of Happy Homes Subdivision, Poblacion Ilaya, Zarraga, Iloilo has just alighted from a passenger jeepney in front of Honda Cars-Iloilo where he worked as service manager when the motorcycle riding suspects shot him with what is believed to be a caliber .9mm machine pistol.

 

Fellow workers rushed Vega to Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital where he underwent surgery. He died an hour later, according to his attending physicians.

 

Initial findings by investigators said Vega succumbed to seven gunshot wounds in his back.

 

A certain Jinky Pedrajas, 40, of Villa Carolina Subdivision, Arevalo district was also wounded while waiting for a passenger jeepney after bringing her child to St. Joseph School which is just across the crime scene.

 

Pedrajas suffered a gunshot wound in her left leg and is now in stable condition.

 

Scene of the Crime Operatives and the Mandurriao police recovered from the crime scene 19 empty shells of .9mm bullets and a badminton racket case where the suspects hid the gun.

 

Witness Mark Guites who also works for Honda said he heard a burst of gunfire right after Vega alighted from the jeepney.

 

Guites then saw the suspects board a black motorcycle. He failed to see the faces and build of the gunmen because they wore safety helmets and jackets.

 

The witness said the suspects fled towards Iloilo City Proper.

 

The security guard on duty at Honda Cars said he also heard a burst of gunfire outside the establishment. He later saw the bloodied Vega and Pedrajas lying on the ground.

 

Some of the bullets damaged the car outlet’s glass door and paneling and two cars parked outside the building.

 

WORK AND PERSONAL GRUDGES

 

Chief Insp. Orley Gabinete, Mandurriao police chief, said they are following two angles in Vega’s death – personal grudge and conflicts related to his work.

 

Based on initial background information gathered by the police, Vega figured in an altercation with a car owner who wanted to have his car fixed after it was involved in a vehicular accident two months ago.

 

Fellow workers of Vega also recalled the victim receiving a call from a woman during their Christmas party December 20, 2008.

 

The caller asked Vega to meet her but the latter refused sensing danger in the invitation.

 

Gabinete said the suspects, believed to be guns-for-hire, may have followed the victim from his home to Mandurriao before making the hit.

 

The Honda management has yet to issue a statement on Vega’s death.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE family of murdered Australian national Werner Holz has asked for protection from the police.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said Vivian Posadas-Holz requested police escorts from the Ajuy PNP station for fear of their lives.

 

Dela Paz said they will assure the safety of Holz’s family even as he expressed satisfaction with Vivian’s cooperation in their probe.

 

Meanwhile, the IPPO chief said they need to fill in the missing link in Holz’s murder in order to resolve the case.

 

Dela Paz said they have been receiving many tips from their own informants that are shedding light on the incident.

 

Task Force Werner, which is spearheading the investigation, is pursuing 3-4 suspects in the Holz slay case.

 

Three armed men barged inside Holz’s residence at Brgy. Pili, Ajuy, Iloilo past midnight Tuesday and stabbed the victim 24 times.

 

The suspects also took away P1.2 million worth of cash and jewelry from Holz’s safe inside the master’s bedroom.

 

Police are eyeing personal grudges, domestic problems and business management as possible motives in the case.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE brutal murder and robbery of a 62-year-old Australian last Tuesday may have been set up by a member of his household, the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are eyeing “inside job” in the murder of Werner Holz, a former policeman believed to be from Melbourne, Australia.

 

“We are focusing on the possibility of an inside job in this case because the suspects were very familiar with the Holz residence. The suspects knew every nook and cranny of the house and which room to enter,” he said.

 

Cuevas said somebody from Holz’s household may have tipped off the suspects about the victim’s movements and on possible points of entry into the house.

 

“Based on our investigation, the suspects entered the house through the emergency exit in the bathroom of the master bedroom. Apparently, someone told the suspects about the emergency exit,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said they are also investigating relatives of Holz’s wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, who used to work for the family.

 

He said several persons related to his wife used to work for Holz “but they left because of some conflicts.”

 

“That might explain why the suspects wore masks because they are familiar to the victim,” the PRO-6 chief said.

 

Cuevas said investigators are also looking into Holz’s relationship with his wife and her relatives in Ajuy and business management.

 

“We have gathered information that the Holz couple are always arguing. Holz also regained control of their business from Vivian,” he said.

 

Cuevas said the hesitation of the house helps to respond to Vivian’s cry for help thinking the couple is fighting again proves that they were not in good terms.

 

Holz and his wife had been living in Ajuy for 10 years and were engaged in money-lending, pig farming and trading.

 

The Australian national reportedly transferred ownership of their businesses and properties to his youngest daughter from his first marriage.

 

“Everybody is a suspect here, including the family and household staff. We are looking into every personality and angle involved in this case,’ Cuevas said.

 

Aside from Vivian, the other companions of the victim inside the house at the time of the incident were their 7-year-old son Kevin; Elizabeth (Holz’s daughter from his first marriage); Kevin’s nanny and the house help.

 

To recall, three masked men forced their way into Holz’s bedroom Tuesday and stabbed him 24 times in the chest, back and neck.

 

They then forced Vivian Posadas-Holz to open a safe from which they took P1.2 million pesos in cash and jewelry.

 

Investigators are baffled with the immaculately clean crime scene which did not yield any latent fingerprint of the suspects.

 

A police officer in Task Force Werner who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the case said the crime scene may have been swept clean before scene of the crime operatives arrived.

 

Or the suspects may have used hand gloves, the investigator added.

 

The Ajuy police headed by Senior Insp. Ariel Artillero also found it difficult to extract more information from Vivian.

 

Meanwhile, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra said it was providing consular assistance to the Holz family.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. owns more than P25 million worth of properties, based on his latest statement of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN) submitted to the Human Resource Management and Development Office (HRMDO).

 

Tupas’ SALN for 2006 also shows that he is liquid having no liabilities or debts. His SALN for 2007 is unavailable.

 

The 2006 SALN show that he owns P22,000,080 worth of residential and agricultural properties.

 

The properties include five residential houses and lots in the town of Barotac Viejo; Las Palmas Subdivision in Jaro, Iloilo City; and Purdue, Quezon City in Metro Manila. His agricultural lands are located in Barotac Viejo.

 

In terms of personal and other properties, Tupas owns P1.14 million worth of furniture and fixtures while his jewelry amounted to P1.39 million.

 

The governor also owns five vehicles of various makes with a total value of P1.047 million.

 

Tupas reported in his SALN P300,000 worth of agricultural produce and improvements, his growing crops valued at P351,175.

 

The governor’s cash-on-hand in 2006 amounted to P447,316.

 

In sum, Tupas is worth P25,662,771.01 after accumulated depreciation amounting to P2,134,720.

 

As regards his sprawling residence in Hechanova, Jaro, records from the Iloilo City Assessor’s Office show that Tupas bought the property for P6.5 million via bank auction in 2005.

 

Ownership of the Hechanova property was transferred to Niel and Myrna Tupas December 19, 2008.

 

The property has a total land area of 1,894 square meters with an assessed value of P2,462,200. The house is valued at P3,935,550.

 

The HRMDO is set to release the governor’s 2007 SALN not later today.

 

Tupas nephew, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico has urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to ask the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a lifestyle check on the governor.

 

Suplico said he cannot recall any prominent person who paid Tupas a handsome fee for his legal services before the latter entered politics, debunking Tupas’ claims that the money he used to purchase the Hechanova property came from his legal fees.

 

The vice governor also scoffed at Tupas’ failure to answer the checks the former issued from 1998 to 2001. The checks represented the financial assistance Suplico extended to his uncle at P70,000 a month.

 

Suplico said Tupas cannot own multimillion properties on his P29,000 monthly salary.

 

But Tupas corrected the vice governor saying his salary is P34,939 a month aside from his representation and travel allowance amounting to some P10,000 monthly.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ROBBERY, old grudges and business rivalry are the possible motives being eyed in the murder and robbery of an Australian national in a coastal village of Ajuy early morning Tuesday.

 

Werner Holz, 62, a retired police officer from Australia, died of more than 20 stab wounds in his chest, back and neck.

 

Holz’s stab-riddled body was found past 4am yesterday in his bed inside his 1.5-hectare beach front residence at Brgy. Pili, Ajuy.

 

Based on the testimonies of Holz’s Ilongga wife, Vivian Posadas-Holz, her husband went outside their house past 12 midnight to urinate.

 

Five minutes after he returned to bed, three masked men wielding pistols and a knife barged inside their room.

 

Two of the suspects immediately overpowered the 6-foot, 5-inch Holz and repeatedly stabbed him. Dr. Noel Martinez, PNP medico legal, said Holz died of 24 stab wounds in the body and neck.

 

The third suspect then ordered Vivian to open the safety vault inside the master’s bedroom. According to the initial count by investigators, the suspects took away an estimated P200,000 cash, US$5,000 cash and P800,000 worth of jewelry from the vault.

 

The suspects then tied up Vivian and locked her inside the comfort room. When the suspects left, the wife cried for help but the nanny of their 7-year-old son only responded to her plea around 4am.

 

The unidentified nanny said she did not mind Vivian’s cry for help thinking that the couple were arguing inside their room. But when the nanny entered the master’s bedroom, she saw the bloodied Holz on the bed.

 

The Holz household then asked help from their neighbors who called Pili barangay officials and tanods to the crime scene.

 

PROFESSIONALS

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, immediately went to Ajuy to personally lead the investigation on the incident.

 

Dela Paz described the case as a work of professionals as indicated by their manner of entry and the swiftness of the operation.

 

“Initially, the motive is plain robbery but we are digging deeper into the background of the victim so we can include other motives that led to the incident,” dela Paz said.

 

To ensure that their intrusion will not rouse attention from Holz’s neighbors, the suspects fed the victim’s two pet dogs with food laced with tranquilizers.

 

“It is possible that the suspects forced their way inside the house or they were already inside the residence. Or maybe they sneaked inside while Holtz was urinating outside their house,” dela Paz said.

 

Punong Barangay Emmanuel Asumbra of Pili said the dogs drooled and appeared dazed hours after the crime was discovered, an indication that the animals were drugged.

 

Their initial investigation indicated the culprits wore masks and gloves to avoid leaving their fingerprints in the crime scene.

 

The fact that they had no remorse in killing Holz also indicates that the suspects were professionals, dela Paz added.

 

The police also noticed that only the front and back yards of the Holz’s residence was lighted at night.

 

The main house and the adjoining guest houses, which are facing the sea, are made of nipa and wood. The master’s bedroom is air-conditioned, thus the noise from within is muffled.

 

Dela Paz said the couple’s companion inside the house were their 7-year-old son, Holz’s daughter from his previous marriage, the nanny and househelp who is also a sister of Vivian.

 

“The suspects patterned the movement of the victims by conducting surveillance on the couple. The hit was systematic and fast. We continue to investigate the case until we have ascertained the motive and the suspects are identified,” the IPPO chief said.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AUSTRALIAN national Werner Holz, who was stabbed to death by three robbers inside his home early morning Tuesday, was a generous but strict person.

 

After retiring from the Australian police service, Holz and his Ilongga wife Vivian Posadas-Holz, moved to Brgy. Pili, Ajuy more than 10 years ago. The couple then purchased a 1.5-hectare beachfront lot in the said village.

 

Iloilo 5th district Board Member Jett Rojas said he encountered Holz on several occasions when he was still mayor of Ajuy.

 

Rojas said the Holz couple lends money to farmers aside from engaging in piggery and buy-and-sell ventures. The couple also bought a property in Iloilo City.

 

Rojas recounted previous issues involving Holz, particularly the Australian’s confrontations with residents and local officials of Ajuy.

 

“There was a time when he went to my office to complain about the fishpens in front of their beach property which he considered as eyesores. He wanted to remove the pens which the owners resisted because it is their only means of livelihood,” Rojas said.

 

The board member also recalled a confrontation between Holz and a punong barangay over the Australian national’s piggery.

 

Rojas said Holz closed a road-right-of-way which traversed the piggery to the chagrin of the residents.

 

“The local officials then asked my help to negotiate with Holz if he can donate a portion of his property for the right-of-way. It was resolved in the end but the road was not as convenient as the old path,” Rojas said.

 

Rojas said he noticed that Holz was very hard to deal with and “used very harsh words.”

 

“He was very strict and particular with his properties. But he was also generous to his neighbors and the community,” he added.

 

The provincial board member also noticed that the Holz were seldom invited to parties hosted by other expatriates in Ajuy.

 

“He seems to be an outcast. I was invited to these parties and I noticed that Holz was not present,” Rojas said.

 

Punong Barangay Emmanuel Asumbra of Pili said Holz was “a very generous soul.”

 

“He also participated in some of our activities, especially-sports related events. He even sponsored one basketball team with complete uniforms,” Asumbra said.

 

Asumbra, however, confirmed Holz’s strict ways when it comes to his properties.

 

Rojas said the police should consider in their investigation old grudges.

 

“This is the first time that this kind of crime happened in our town. And we are concerned that this will drive away prospective investors, particularly expatriates who want to reside and do business in Ajuy,” Rojas said.

Suplico asks Ombudsman to probe Tupas, GSO head

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex continued his counteroffensive against his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. by calling for a lifestyle check on the latter and other provincial officials in the light of the spate of alleged anomalies at the Capitol.

 

In a privilege speech delivered during the first regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for 2009, Suplico asked the provincial board to pass two resolutions urging the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct lifestyle checks on Tupas and his family and members of the provincial Bids and Awards Committee, especially General Services Office head Ramie Salcedo.

 

Suplico questioned how the Tupas family won several elections even if they don’t have viable sources of livelihood.

 

Suplico also questioned the mansion owned by Tupas at Brgy. Hechanova, Jaro reportedly worth more than P20 million.

 

“He has built a mansion in Jaro on a salary of around P29,000 per month. Yet, the truth is that he has no visible means of livelihood, one that is commensurate to their lifestyle. Where did he get the money for such a lavish lifestyle?” Suplico said.

 

The vice governor claimed that graft and corruption at the capitol “has increased by leaps and bounds and in greater amounts as the Tupas administration nears its end in 2010.”

 

He cited alleged anomalous transactions at the capitol including the P1.3-million autoclave sterilizer in Passi City, anesthesia machine scandal in Calinog and the purchase of landscaping plants for the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center in Pototan, Iloilo.

 

“These scams cannot be perpetrated without the connivance of certain officers and employees of the Capitol, such as but not limited to the General Services Office and its head, Ramie Salcedo,” he added.

 

To further prove that his uncle cannot support himself outside of politics, Suplico narrated how he and Rep. Ferjenel Biron financially supported Tupas from 1998 to 2001.

 

The vice governor said he gave four vehicles to Tupas and funded the latter’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign in the 5th congressional district.

 

Suplico also recalled giving an Omega wristwatch to his uncle governor at a Japanese restaurant in a Mandaluyong City hotel.

 

“After his defeat (in 1998), I gave him support equal to twice my salary as congressman – P70,000 per month. I practically carried the entire family on my back. I still have the 32 returned checks representing three years, from 1998 to 2001, at P70,000 per check. These checks were payable to Atty. Niel D. Tupas,” he added.

 

During the 2001 elections, Suplico claimed shelling out P40 million of personal funds for the gubernatorial campaign of Tupas.

 

Biron, upon Suplico’s request, contributed P6 million to Tupas’ campaign kitty.

 

“My friends, I never told Gov. Tupas to keep the change. And until now, I am still waiting for the change. Basi bala my sensilyo pa ako!” he said.

 

POLITICAL SURVIVAL

 

Suplico said the recent order of Tupas to use the reenacted 2008 budget this year is only meant for the political survival of his family.

 

The vice governor claimed that seven members of the Tupas family are rumored to run for various positions in the city and province of Iloilo come 2010.

 

“My question is: Where will they get the money? I am afraid that we have to do everything to protect the provincial public funds. I fear that the money in the coffers of the provincial government will be used once again, not for the general welfare of the Ilonggos, but for the political survival of Gov. Tupas and his family in 2010,” Suplico said.

 

Aside from the lifestyle check on Tupas, Salcedo and other Capitol officials, also asked the SP to pass a resolution condemning Executive Order 01-2009 which ordered Capitol departments to operate under the 2008 reenacted budget.

 

Suplico said he is also studying other executive orders of Tupas for possible filing of criminal raps against the latter.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. is using “strongman tactics” to impose his will on the annual budget of the provincial government by bending the law in his favor.

 

This is Vice Governor Rolex Suplico’s reaction to his uncle’s first executive order this New Year directing Capitol department heads to use the reenacted 2008 annual and supplemental budgets and 20% development fund instead of the P1.180-billion 2009 annual budget approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan November 18, 2008.

 

Suplico said Tupas’ order violated the Local Government Code (LGC) and budget rules issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to local government units.

 

Citing Section 323 of the LGC, the vice governor said Tupas cannot reenact the 2008 budget because the provincial board passed the 2009 budget before January 1, 2009.

 

“A reenacted budget will only take effect if no new budget was passed by January 1. In our case, we were able to enact a new budget, thus the move of the governor is illegal,” Suplico said.

 

Even if Tupas vetoed the 2009 annual budget December 2, 2008, Suplico said the new budget must be implemented after the veto was overridden by two-thirds of the SP membership last December 19, 2008.

 

Suplico said the mere filing of a declaratory relief with the Regional Trial Court against the 2009 budget cannot impede the implementation of the new appropriations ordinance.

 

“Unless the governor secures a temporary restraining or injunction order from the court or the DBM declares the entire 2009 budget as inoperative, he has the ministerial duty to implement the new appropriations ordinance intended for this year. Governor Tupas has no power to reenact the budget while a new appropriations measure is in effect. Even if the budget is under review by the DBM, the executive must implement it until told otherwise,” he added.

 

Suplico also questioned the reenactment of the 20% Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) development fund because the LGC and the DBM only allows the following appropriations to be reenacted: salaries and wages of personnel, contractual and statutory obligations such as loans and essential operation expenses such as water and electricity bills.

 

“The Local Government Code and the DBM prohibits the reenactment of the 20% IRA development fund. Governor Tupas has arrogated upon himself the power to appropriate public funds which is the work of the provincial board,” he said.

 

The vice governor likened his uncle’s move to Amendment No. 6 of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos which empowered the latter to issue laws, decrees and executive orders to the detriment of Congress.

 

“This is a Marcosian tactic. Governor Tupas might be the only governor in the whole world who wants to exercise the power to appropriate public funds. This executive order will imperil the hazard pay of health workers, the financial aid to barangays, and development projects in the province,” Suplico said.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

FIVE armed men posing as cops robbed a resident of San Miguel, Iloilo late Sunday evening.

 

Farmer Elpidio Sencil was startled when he heard somebody knocking on the front door of their shack at Brgy. St. Niño, San Miguel past 11pm the other day.

 

When he peeped outside, Sencil told the San Miguel police that saw five persons wearing Fatigue uniforms and bearing long firearms and pistol outside of their house.

 

When Sencil asked his unexpected visitors about their purpose, one of the men claimed they were police officers looking for a wanted criminal.

 

Sencil allowed the men inside his home thinking they were authorities but was surprised when they declared the heist.

 

The victim said the uniformed men threatened to kill him if he resisted. The suspects took away a Kubota motor he used for his farm equipment, six native chickens and a rechargeable flashlight. The five suspects then boarded an unidentified vehicle and fled towards Iloilo City.

 

Senior Insp. Dennis Pamonag, San Miguel police chief, said Sencil was uncertain whether the clothing the suspects used were similar to the green Fatigue uniforms issued to Army soldiers or the purple-and-blue uniform issued to PNP personnel.

 

Pamonag said the firearms carried by the suspects might be homemade shotguns fashioned as M16 Armalite rifles.

 

“They (suspects) might be members of an organized crime group or rebels. We have no idea about their identities yet,” Pamonag said.

Village chief raps CIDG for closing down feria

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is under fire from a village chief in Jaro, Iloilo City for raiding their feria Saturday evening.

 

Punong Barangay Abelardo Salting of Benedicto, Jaro accused the CIDG of conducting an “illegal raid” on the feria at the Jaro plaza and “pocketing” some P80,000 cash confiscated from several stalls.

 

Salting said the feria, which featured the “six-color game”, has a permit from the City Hall, thus it cannot be considered a form of illegal game.

 

The barangay captain also rapped the CIDG for not coordinating with his office before conducting the raid.

 

“Many of our residents can attest to what the CIDG did, particularly the money they took away,” he added.

 

Salting registered his complaint in the blotter reports of the Jaro police right after the raid.

 

The village chief said he does not question the CIDG’s authority to conduct the raid but he did not like the manner by which it was conducted.

 

The CIDG did not record the raid in the Jaro police blotter as what is usually done after their operations, Salting said.

 

Col. Luisito Ruiz, CIDG-6 deputy regional chief, denied Salting’s accusation saying they only confiscated more than P3,000 from the feria.

 

Ruiz said they also arrested four operators of the six-color games. He insisted the games in the plaza were illegal because the operators failed to present valid permits from the local government.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE executive department of the Iloilo provincial government will draw first blood in its continuing dispute with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan over the 2009 annual budget. 

 

Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. said he will issue today, Monday, his marching orders to the Iloilo provincial government bureaucracy: Operate under a re-enacted budget for the fiscal year 2009.

 

In a statement to The Daily Guardian, Tupas said he will not implement the 2009 budget approved by the opposition dominated provincial board headed by his nephew, Vice Governor Rolex Suplico.

 

“We strongly believe that the annual budget enacted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is null and void, and we will proceed as we have done last year – operate under a re-enacted budget,” Tupas said on the eve of the first working day for 2009.

 

The governor said he will issue an executive order today to make official this policy even as his lawyers are set to file a case for declaratory relief before the Iloilo Regional Trial Court to seek a judicial ruling on the nullity of the appropriation ordinance.

 

On December 22, 2008, the SP voted 10-2 to override Tupas’s veto on Appropriation Ordinance No. 2008-08 embodying the province’s 2009 annual budget.

 

A vetoed ordinance is deemed valid once the legislature succeeds in overriding the chief executive’s objection with a two-thirds vote, or 10 members in favor.

 

Only board members June Mondejar and Shalene Palmares Hidalgo voted against the override.

 

“Ordinarily, an ordinance becomes valid and enforceable upon a veto override,” provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said.

 

However, as this is an appropriation ordinance, the measure requires review by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which has the power to declare it operative or inoperative, Mejorada said.

 

Unless the DBM says that the ordinance is valid and operative, then the provincial government can’t be compelled to enforce the appropriation measure, he said.

 

Tupas said he is invoking his authority as the official primarily responsible for the implementation of the annual budget in ordering that the province adopt a re-enacted budget.

 

“It is clear that the 2009 annual budget as approved by the Sanggunian Panlalawigan is a tool for destruction and obstruction,” Tupas said.

 

“Under the circumstances, I would be violating my sworn duty if I carry out this kind of annual budget,” he said.

 

Mejorada said the provincial government will not shrink from the prospect of operating under a re-enacted budget.

 

He described the appropriation ordinance as a “decimation” of the executive budget and will only serve to block the province’s efforts to bring progress to its one component city and 42 municipalities.

 

More than that, as pointed out by Tupas in his veto message, the ordinance does not adhere to the statutory requirements for the enactment of an appropriation ordinance.

 

For one thing, the ordinance does not break down the funds into the major allotment categories such as personal services, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay, he said.

 

Secondly, the ordinance violates the prohibition against increasing any item in the budget or inserting new items except for those considered as statutory or contractual obligations of the LGU, he added.

 

Mejorada said the majority bloc in the Sanggunian led by Suplico “is much too arrogant to admit having made elementary blunders.”

 

“What happened is that the Sanggunian, with the exception of board members Mondejar and Hidalgo, threw these legal flaws aside in a brute display of tyranny of numbers,” he said.

 

Board Member Rodolfo Cabado was absent during the December 22, 2008 special session when the veto override was taken up.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT drove the suspects to behead a farm worker from Lambunao, Iloilo?

 

The Dumangas police is eyeing love triangle as one of the major motives in the murder of Eduardo Lozarito Jr., 18, a native of Brgy. Cayan Oeste, Lambunao.

 

Lozarito was found dead January 1, 2009 in a rice field at Brgy. Ilaya First, Dumangas where he worked as a rice reaper. His severed head was found 1 meter from his body which bore hack wounds.

 

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, said two persons who were last seen with Lozarito have been invited to the Dumangas police station for investigation. The two were identified as John Sandoval in whose place Lozarito stayed  while working in Dumangas, and Ernesto Jallorina, according to the Dumangas PNP. Several persons were also invited to shed light on the incident.

 

Dela Paz said it is possible that Lozarito’s rival to his female textmate may be responsible for his grisly death.

 

Initial police investigation said Lozarito went to the house of his textmate on New Year’s Eve.

 

But Dela Paz said they have yet to identify Lozarito’s textmate.

 

On January 1, the victim received a call in his cellphone from an indentified person. He then went out of Sandoval’s house and never returned.

 

Dela Paz said the suspect might be a native of Dumangas who harbored hatred against Lozarito.

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