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‘EXHAUSTIVE PROBE’ (From left) NBI agents Mark Blancaflor, Aries Bañares, administrative officer Ernesto Lim, NBI regional director Mario Sison and agent John Katipunan discuss the case they filed against the suspects in the Julife Balbanida murder case. (Inset) Fe Balbanida holds the photo of her late daughter. (Photos by Tara Yap)

‘EXHAUSTIVE PROBE’ (From left) NBI agents Mark Blancaflor, Aries Bañares, administrative officer Ernesto Lim, NBI regional director Mario Sison and agent John Katipunan discuss the case they filed against the suspects in the Julife Balbanida murder case. (Inset) Fe Balbanida holds the photo of her late daughter. (Photos by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE employers and co-worker of Julife Balbanida connived to murder the lady accountant inside Uni-Eco Steel Industries, Inc. on Valeria Street, Iloilo City last February 4.


This was the finding of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which became the basis for the filing of murder charges against Teofilo Ko, Uni-Eco owner; his son Raymond Ko, Uni Eco manager; and Uni-Eco employee Albert “Ike” Panganiban.


The NBI filed the case with the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office at the Hall of Justice past 11am Friday. It was supposed to be filed Thursday but the investigators who were supposed to sign the case file were dispatched to Antique to investigate the James Ardaña kidnapping case.


The NBI team that investigated the incident are special investigator (SI) John Katipunan, special agent (SA) Ernesto Lim, agent Arnold Diaz, SA Jeremiah Sargado, SI Rojun Hosillos and SI Modesto Orestes Cajita.


Atty. Mario Sison, NBI regional director, said they conducted an “exhaustive investigation” on the mysterious death of Balbanida, who was found inside the Uni-Eco comfort room with a bullet wound in her head.


Sison said their conclusions were based on circumstantial evidence and findings of the Iloilo City Police Station 1 and PNP Crime Laboratory.


Based on the final NBI investigation report, Balbanida’s death was not a case of suicide as claimed by her employers.


Lim said Balbanida was killed after the Kos discovered the tampered check worth P60,000 which they entrusted to the victim being the accountant and trusted employee.


The altered check surfaced after bank employee Paul Albert Javian brought it to Uni-Eco to verify Teofilo Ko’s signature.


The Kos wondered why the check was marked “paid to cash” instead of indicating the name of the payee.


“The situation worsened when the employers alleged that they discovered more tampered checks after conducting their own investigation. The killing emanated from the discovery of dishonesty, deceit and fraud allegedly committed by the victim when she was entrusted huge amounts of money. Another reason is the alleged abuse of confidence by the victim who virtually ran the finances of the company. When they discovered the anomaly, they erupted. These are the crystal clear motives of the respondents,” Lim said.


While they cannot determine who shot Balbanida, the NBI said the Kos and Panganiban were the only persons with the victim before she was found dead inside the CR.


“Panganiban is not part of management and he claimed that it was day off when the incident happened. But he was there after he was summoned by his employers. Why was he there when he had nothing to do with money matters? He is too obedient,” Lim said.


The NBI also noted that the lack of blood splatters on the CR’s wall is inconsistent with the purported suicide case.


“If indeed the victim committed suicide using a handgun while standing or in sitting position, why are there no blood stains on the wall? We have to consider that the bullet entered her right temple and exited in the left portion of her head,” Lim said.


The six empty bullet shells recovered inside the CR and the position of Balbanida’s body blocking the door also cast doubts on the suicide angle, the NBI report said.


“The door could not be opened without changing the position of the cadaver because it blocks the door. One has to move the body in order to open the CR,” the investigation said.


The remains of the victim also showed signs of struggle because her hair was in disarray.


“This finding is further substantiated by the discovery and retrieval of slug found in the floor where her head lies. The victim may have been shot while her head was pressed down on the floor by her attackers. And no one will commit suicide while lying inside a comfort room. This is contrary to wisdom and common sense,” it added.


The victim’s mother, Fe Balbanida, said she was thankful to the NBI for thoroughly investigating her daughter’s death.


“The findings confirmed our suspicions that she was killed. The three (respondent) are my suspects,” Fe said.


Fe said she hopes that they will achieve justice now that the murder case has been filed.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE service provider of the wireless landline phones issued to the Iloilo City Council cut off their lines after incurring “excessive” bills.


Why? Because of texting promos in a television show.


During the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s session Wednesday, Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog announced that Bayantel cut off their wireless landline phones because they exceeded the P8,900 monthly allocation for their phone bills.


It was found out that the total phone bills of the council reached more than P11,700. The City Accounting Office refused to approve the payment of the total phone bills.  


Mabilog said he checked with Bayantel why they exceeded their usual usage. He later found out that some of the lines were being used to join text promos in a popular TV show.


Councilor Armand Parcon told the council that one of his household members might be using his wireless landline to join such text promos.


Perla Zulueta said their lines were reconnected Thursday.


“Maybe somebody paid for the remaining amount so that our lines will be restored,” Zulueta said.


Mabilog said they asked Bayantel to restore the lines pending their payment.


Mabilog said he will ask for the itemized phone records from Bayantel to determine if which line frequently joined text promos.


The vice mayor and the city councilors, except for Antonio Pesina, were issued wireless landline phones so they can be easily reached by their constituents and staff.


Pesina did not avail of the phone.

Got a new blog guys,, which will focus on economic issues in the region. It’s time we discuss thoroughly the economic climate of Iloilo and the rest of Western Visayas.


Some of the items were published in The Daily Guardian and Businessworld.


Enjoy! Ciao!



CONTRICTED  The banks of Iloilo River are dotted with buildings and development which could trigger floods. (Photo by Tara Yap)

CONTRICTED The banks of Iloilo River are dotted with buildings and development which could trigger floods. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


AN environment official warned the Iloilo City government to check unbridled developments on the banks of the Iloilo River to prevent pollution and flooding.


Engr. Edwin Domingo, assistant director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said they noticed that many buildings and land developments are sprouting on the river banks.


“From what we saw in satellite images, a lot of your buildings and structures have been developed practically on the bank of the rivers. There should be allowances between the buildings and the river banks,” Domingo told The Daily Guardian.


Domingo said unchecked developments could constrict the river which could trigger floods.


“Your river system (Tigum-Aganan) follows a straight line from the mountain. But when it reaches the lower area, the river becomes winding. When the portion of the river in the lower plain is constricted, it would be hard to contain the rushing water which could lead to flooding of Iloilo City which sits on a river delta,” Domingo said.


Domingo added: “In urban areas, the more establishments and people you put near the river, chances are they are going to use the river as garbage dump.”


The Iloilo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) had said that the 180 barangays in the city have virtually made the once beautiful and majestic Iloilo River as giant septic tank.


Cenro chief Noel Hechanova said household wastes and wastewater discharges from hospitals, hotels and commercial establishments are polluting the river.


Fishkills have become a regular occurrence at the river because of the unabated pollution it absorbs.


“There’s a problem of low dissolved oxygen caused by organic load from human wastes. The impact is fish kill and death of aquatic animals and plants. Septic tanks should serve as partial treatment of human wastes considering the city has no centralized sewage treatment facility,” Hechanova told The Daily Guardian in an earlier interview.


Domingo also stressed the need of a good drainage in the city saying some local government units build roads and pavements without a viable drainage system.


“Even if you get flooded, it will recede quickly if there is good drainage system,” he added.


Domingo arrived in Iloilo City along with officials from the National Disaster Coordinating Council, PAG-ASA, Philvolcs, Office of the Civil Defense, Red Cross, Namria and MGB-DENR to launch READY Project.


READY Project aims to map hazard zones in the country to prepare for disaster and avoid losses in lives and properties.


Domingo said the local government should work on its comprehensive land use plan which should jive with the geo-hazard maps which will be produced by READY Project.


“With the geo-hazard maps, the local officials will know where to locate residential, commercial and industrial zones,” Domingo said.  


By Albert T. Mamora and Francis Allan L. Angelo


THERE seems to be no end in the twists and turns in the kidnapping of a businessman in Antique.


Investigators are now leaning towards the angle of business rivalry as the motive for the abduction of businessman James Ardaña in Sibalom, Antique Holy Thursday last week.


This, after the Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO) “arrested” one of the suspects who faked a motorcycle accident and forcibly took Ardaña at Crossing Aldea in Brgy. Udyong, Sibalom.


Ardaña’s borther June positively identified a certain Dionisio Pajarito of Brgy. Nagdayaw, Sibalom as one of the alleged kidnappers.


June said Pajarito posed as the injured person in the fake motorcycle accident.


The police did not file charges against Pajarito, whom they later freed, for they still need more evidence.


But the National Bureau of Investigation took custody of Pajarito and brought him to Iloilo City.


Pajarito is believed to be a right-hand man of a businessman who is also in Antique politics.


Pajarito’s patron is believed to be a former business partner of Ardaña before they had a falling out which spawned a bitter rivalry.


Antique police director Ren Darroca said they invited the former business partner of Ardaña for questioning but the latter referred the investigators to his lawyer.


Police officials in Camp Delgado said this business rivalry could be the motive for Ardaña’s kidnapping.


The mastermind may have also used the rape case filed against Ardaña in order to cover their tracks, PRO-6 officials said.


Another angle being considered by the police is “kidnap me” so that Ardaña will evade the pending warrant of arrest against him.


Antique Governor Salvacio Perez said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo that Ardaña’s kidnapping is an isolated case.


“Based on the investigation of the Antique provincial police, the most likely motive in the case is business rivalry. This is a work of amateurs and it is possible that the suspects are from Antique,” Perez said.


The police, with help from the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Anti-Crime Emergency Response, released the cartographic sketch of the suspects based on June Ardaña’s descriptions.


The whereabouts and condition of Ardaña remains unknown as the kidnappers have not called his wife Gloria to discuss any demand.


The kidnappers earlier demanded a P15-million ransom for the safe release of Ardaña.


As regards the report that a businessman engaged in construction and hardware trading is the original target of a kidnap-for-ransom group, the Antique police said this information first surfaced in January 2009.


APPO sources said a group of Hiligaynon speaking men was monitored in Antique but they later left.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex Suplico assailed the latest edict of his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr. authorizing the release of the P38.8-million Community Direct Action Program (CDAP) contained in the 2009 annual investment program (AIP).


Suplico said Executive Order No. 67 issued April 7, 2009 is questionable because it did not follow the conditions set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).


The vice governor was referring to the results of the DBM review on the 2009 annual budget dated March 20, 2009.


One of the conditions set by the DBM is the itemization or breakdown of allocations in the 2009 AIP.


But in EO 67, Suplico said they noticed that objects of expenditures such as construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects were lumped together.


The vice governor said the governor should show which municipality will receive a certain amount of money to fund their projects.


The CDAP is considered one of the “pork barrels” of the Office of Governor which aims to help municipalities through various socio-economic related infrastructures.


In the project resumé attached to EO 67, CDAP funds are in the form of fund transfer or donation to the component local government unit to finance small infrastructure projects.


Suplico fears the release of the CDAP will be abused sans the itemized appropriation.


The vice governor said they are mulling to file more charges against the governor for violating the DBM conditions.

April 2009

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