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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A LETTER purportedly written by a transport group asked the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to help the victims of alleged graft and corruption inside the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In an open letter addressed to the Coronacion Chiva “Waling-Waling” Command of the NPA, the Independent Alliance of Transport Operators (IATO) asked the rebels to bring justice to the complainants who sued Atty. Rommel Duron, LTFRB hearing officer, and Henry Mamon, former LTFRB driver for corruption at the government office.

The IATO said the transport sector has lost hope and trust in LTFRB Chairman Alberto Suansing and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) whom the group accused of protecting Duron and company.

The transport group said only the revolutionary movement can help the transport sector achieve justice.

Duron and Mamon are facing extortion and graft cases filed by the Alliance of Panay Taxi Operators and Drivers Association and Association of Taxi Operators in Panay.

The complaints stemmed from the allegations of taxi operators Salvacion Ruiz and Tony Caram that Duron and Mamon made them pay P30,000 to P40,000 for their taxi franchise when the regular fee is only P810.

Operators of vans for hire and other public utility vehicles are reportedly preparing to come out and dump more cases against Duron and Mamon.

Duron and Mamon had denied the accusations saying the issue stemmed from his insistence to implement the installation of receipt issuing taxi meters.

Duron said taxi operators, in connivance with LTFRB regional director Porfirio Clavel, opposed the use of the digital meters.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said they will first verify the existence of the letter before reacting on the issue.

“We cannot react on this because we have procedures to follow. And we have to cross check the information with other intelligence units,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said complaints against any person, be it in the public or private sector, should be lodged with the proper forum.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE relief of a controversial police official in Iloilo City is being linked to the death of an anti-drug agent in 2007.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he received reports that the death of PO1 Frederick Capasao may have something to do with the transfer of C/Insp. Musa Amiyong from Iloilo City to Camp Crame.

Cuevas said Amiyong and several police officers were investigated relative to Capasao’s slay almost two years ago.

“Nothing came out of that investigation as no charges were filed against Amiyong in relation to Capasao’s death,” Cuevas said.

Capasao was formerly assigned with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and was responsible for the arrest of some drug personalities when he was still alive.

Capasao was preparing to report to Camp Crame when an unidentified gunman riddled him with bullets while entering their house in LaPaz in the evening of October 23, 2007.

During an investigation conducted by the House committee on dangerous drugs last March, a confidential PNP intelligence report surfaced and pointed to unnamed police officers as the suspects in Capasao’s killing.

When asked if the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force recommended Amiyong’s relief, Cuevas said he was unsure because he only received the relief order from Camp Crame Wednesday morning.

Cuevas said he even called Amiyong and told the latter to immediately report to the national command lest he will be marked absent without official leave.

“With his relief, C/Insp. Amiyong will be given the chance to defend himself from any charges or case,” Cuevas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Iloilo City dismissed the rape charge filed by a housewife against a man in Mina, Iloilo on the grounds that it what happened was consensual sex between two lovers.

Ina decision promulgated last August 10, 2009 but read only yesterday, Judge Gerardo D. Diaz of RTC Branch 68 in Dumangas, Iloilo acquitted Eliseo Pasmala of rape with intimidation lodged by Myrna L. Arguelles in 1999.

The alleged rape happened around 8am of July 22, 1999 inside Arguelles’s house at Brgy. Agmanaphaw, Mina.

Arguelles claimed she was sweeping their floor when Pasmala entered their house via the kitchen and committed the rape.

The complainant said Pasmala threatened her with a kitchen knife which he took from their table.

Arguelles said Pasmala forced himself on her twice and even performed oral sex on her. After the alleged rape, the complainant claimed that the accused threatened her not to reveal what happened lest he will kill her.

But Arguelles said decided to report the incident to chief barangay tanod Ignacio Palisada.

On her way to Palisada’s place, the complainant said she met Pasmala’s wife Melania and told the latter about the incident. Melania then accompanied Arguelles to the tanod and later to the Mina police.

The police later went to the scene of the incident and recovered the knife which Pasmala allegedly used to threaten the complainant.

Pasmala was arrested past 11am inside his nipa hut which is more or less 200 meters from Arguelles’s house.

The medical examination conducted on Arguelles showed traces of sperm in her sexual organ.

Pasmala rebutted the accusation against him saying that it was consensual sex, not rape.

Pasmala said their illicit relationship began in 1995 but stopped for a while upon intervention of Arguelles’s mother. The relationship was renewed in 1999 until the alleged rape July 22 of the said year.

On the day of the alleged rape, the accused said he was inside the nipa hut owned by his employer Pacifico Defensor when Arguelles came over and told him to go to their house to watch over her ducks.

When Arguelles’s children left for school around 8:30am, the complainant proposed to Pasmala that they elope. He refused the proposal.

Pasmala later told Arguelles that he will go home but the latter asked him to stay for a while. After serving him breakfast of hot chocolate drink and rice and egg, Arguelles took a bath.

After the bath, Pasmala said Arguelles went to him and undressed. That episode later led to the sexual encounter between the two lovers.

In siding with Pasmala, Judge Diaz said the prosecution failed to establish that the accused committed rape with intimidation.

Diaz said the prosecution failed to present the knife which Pasmala allegedly used to threaten the complainant. In fact, the prosecutors waived the presentation of the knife and did not explain why it was not included as evidence.

Also, the knife was recovered under the table inside Arguelles’s house, not in Pasmala’s possession.

The RTC also pointed out that Pasmala did not escape from the hut which is several meters away from the complainant’s house.

“If the accused had a guilty mind, he should have fled and hid himself from the authorities. Yet, accused’s actuation does not engender the guilty mind that a criminal could have committed a crime so heinous such as rape,” Diaz said in his decision.

As to Arguelles’s claims that Pasmala performed oral sex on her, the RTC said such act happens between lovers, not in a rape incident.

The court said Pasmala’s refusal to Arguelles’s proposal to elope may have motivated the latter to sue him for rape.

Also the prosecution did not dispute Pasmala’s claim that he maintained an illicit affair with Arguelles.

Pasmala was represented by Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, legal counsel of this paper.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE approval of the Visayas Supply Augmentation Auction (VSAA) program, an interim solution to the power shortage in Visayas, does not bode well to power consumers in Panay.

An energy sector source, who sought anonymity just so he could discuss sensitive matters, said the implementation of the VSAA will also end the arrangement between the National Power Corp. (NPC) and SPC Island Power Corp (SIPC).

SIPC, a subsidiary of Salon Power Corp., recently bought Panay Diesel-fired Power Plant (PDPP) in Dingle, Iloilo for more than US$2 million from the NPC through the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM).

But the sale of the Dingle plant raised fears among electric cooperatives in Panay that SIPC might shutdown the plant for rehabilitation works, thus worsening the power shortage.

The plant’s shutdown will also compel cooperatives with active power supply agreements with NPC to sue the state-owned firm for breach of contract.

If SIPC operates the plant, it will sell electricity at true cost which is expected to jack up the electric bills of consumers.

Last March 2009, SPIC and NPC made an arrangement that the latter will subsidize the fuel for the PDPP to keep the rates at cheaper level. 

The source said the subsidy arrangement will end when the VSAA is implemented in Visayas.

“If the subsidy ends, SPIC will now sell electricity to cooperatives at true cost which will result in higher power rates. Aside from this, the NPC will not be able to fulfill its contractual agreements with the cooperatives because it has no more assets to supply the power requirements of Panay,” the source added.

This development will also affect Iloilo City, the political and economic capital of Western Visayas, as it draws a maximum of 15 megawatts from NPC through the Dingle plant.

Randy Pastolero, Panay Electric Co. operations manager, said power from NPC alleviated the supply shortage in Iloilo City aside from lowering electricity rates because of the generation mix and subsidized pricing.

The Daily Guardian tried to confirm the information from NPC and SPIC officials but to no avail.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Wednesday gave the go signal for the implementation of the VSAA.

The scheme seeks to address the power deficit in the Visayas by selling uncontracted capacities from power generators and grid-connected users that have interruptible load.

The Department of Energy (DOE), through the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), which administers the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, filed the VSAA program with the ERC for approval.

However, the authority granted to implement the VSAA is still subject to modifications, particularly on the pricing, the manner of administration and the effect of the rate to be passed on to the end-users.

In April, the ERC gave provisional authority to the DOE for the registration of customers who are willing to participate in the VSAA.

The participants are mostly customers willing to be disconnected from the grid at certain times, especially during peak hours of the day, and generation companies, which have available or uncontracted capacity to generate their own power during these periods.

The Cebu-Negros-Panay grid in the Visayas, which require an average of 925-megawatt (MW) daily and reserves of at least 100-MW, has been reported to already have a 30% supply deficit.

The approved VSAA program will run for a year, with the PEMC directed to submit a review “on the necessity of continuing the VSAA depending on the level of supply in the region.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TASK force dedicated to the fight against illegal drugs recommended the relief of a police official as chief of the intelligence section of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO).

The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) headed by Police Director Raul Bacalzo reportedly recommended the transfer of C/Insp. Musa Amiyong from Iloilo City to the Holding and Accountability Office in Camp Crame.

Amiyong headed the Intelligence Section or S2 of the ICPO for almost two years. His name has been tagged in the alleged pilferage of fuel at the Iloilo Flood Control Project and the death of PO1 Frederick Capasao in 2007.

Two youth also accused Amiyong of frustrated murder after he allegedly shot them in General Luna Street, Iloilo City August 13, 2008.

Amiyong had denied the charges against him saying some people want him out of the ICPO.

Special Order No. 2384, which directed Amiyong’s transfer from ICPO to Camp Crame effective August 1, was issued July 27, 2009. It was forwarded to the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) for transmittal to Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

But the order got snagged at the DPRM and was sent to PRO-6 only last Tuesday, almost a month after its issuance.

Aside from Amiyong, the PNP national command also ordered the transfer of PO2 Rudy Fancubila and PO2 Remy Donasco to Camp Crame.

Amiyong said his relief is part of his job, welcoming the development as he is set to retire next year.

Sources at the ICPO and PRO-6 claimed that Amiyong’s longevity at the ICPO is due to his closeness to a powerful political figure who once held an influential cabinet post.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MICRO, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will have easy access to bank loans sans collateral with the establishment of the Iloilo City Coopreneurs Surety Fund (ICCSF).

The ICCSF is the first credit surety fund (CSF) established by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in an urban center. In the entire country, ICCSF is the seventh CSF established after the provinces of Cavite, Aurora, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo and Monetary Board Member Juanita Amatong led the launching and signing of the memorandum agreement on the ICCSF on Tuesday in Iloilo City.

The CSF is a fund generated from contributions by well-capitalized and well-managed cooperatives with counterpart funding from the concerned local government unit and other donor agencies.

Mr. Guinigundo said the launching of the ICCSF aims to help MSMEs access bank loans without burdening them with collaterals.

“MSMEs still struggle to find access to lending facility because of lack of collateral, unstable income and lack of trace record. Some 60% of MSMEs’ credit needs are unserved and their growth is under utilized. The CSF aims to pave the way for these enterprises borrow from lending institutions,” Mr. Guinigundo said.

Mr. Guinigundo said the CSF will provide surety cover to MSMEs who want to borrow money from banks and other lending institutions. The surety cover will be issued by the ICCSF in favor of the creditor bank.

The fund contributors of the ICCSF are 11 Iloilo City-based cooperatives that will pitch a total of P1.6million.

The Iloilo City government will provide counterpart funding of P2million while the Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund will provide P5million.

The Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) will also contribute to the CSF.

Banks that will extend loans secured by the CSF can rediscount up to 80% of such loans with the BSP.

The fund will be administered by an oversight committee composed of 12 representatives of CSF contributors. The committee will assign a trustee bank as administrator of the fund.

The fund shall be invested in safe and high-yielding instruments such as government securities.

Mr. Guinigundo said the BSP will monitor the operation of the CSF and its working environment aside from providing technical training in screening borrowers.

DBP CEO and President Reynaldo David said that aside from contributing to the fund, DBP is also on the process of simplifying loan processes for cooperatives and MSMEs backed by the CSF.

“Some banks sometimes require MSMEs and cooperatives voluminous paper works. Half way through filling up these documents, the business owner gets tired and gives up. The streamlining will result in less paper works,” Mr. David added.

Mr. David said DBP will also train ICCSF stakeholders assess the credit worthiness of borrowers who seek coverage from the CSF.

Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the establishment of the ICCSF is timely as it will help entrepreneurs affected by typhoon Frank last year and the global financial crisis.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE 18-year-old lad in Leon, Iloilo who allegedly raped a 2-year-old goat over the weekend is now off the hook as the owner of the animal decided not to press charges.

Rogie Calamaan of Brgy. Talacuan, Leon was released from the Leon PNP lockup jail after the 16-hour detention period lapsed without any charges filed against him.

SPO1 Ildefonso Camus said Eliseo Minerva, owner of the raped goat, agreed to amicably settle the issue with Calamaan.

“The owner will not press charges anymore. He will just make the suspect pay for the goat that died,” Camus said.

Minerva caught Calamaan molesting the goat Sunday evening at Brgy. Talacuan.

Calamaan said he was drunk when he abused the animal. But since the goat was “resisting”, he strangled it to death before consummating with his carnal desire.

Calamaan said he was not satisfied because the goat’s owner caught him before he could complete his mission.

The suspect said he did not feel anything unusual while assaulting the goat. He promised not to do it again.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A GRADE 6 elementary pupil from Brgy. Veterans Village, Iloilo City died of dengue fever the other night.

Charles Magallanes, 12, a pupil of A. Montes Elementary School, died after two days in hospital.

Magallanes’ family at first thought he was just suffering from a simple case of fever. But after almost a week of sporadic fever, they decided to bring him to the hospital.

Doctors later found out that Magallanes was suffering from dengue fever.

Magallanes showed signs of improvement after taking some medicines but he later deteriorated until he died.

The Magallanes family and Veterans Village officials said the boy may have contracted dengue from their barangay which abounds with stagnant water, the breeding place for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Based on latest data from the Department of Health, a total of 586 dengue cases, including 17 deaths were recorded in Iloilo from January to August 8, 2009.

Magallanes is the 18th dengue fatality in Iloilo City.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE national directorate of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) will help convince Congress to ease legal limitations to allow local government units (LGUs) to adopt the Salary Standardization Law (SSL-3).

Mayor Ma. Teresa Debuque of Anilao, Iloilo said the LMP national executive committee has recently accepted a position paper which LMP-Iloilo approved relative to the implementation of SSL-3.

SSL-3, which was approved via Joint Congressional Resolution No. 4, upgraded the compensation of government employees in low-level up to top positions effective July 1. It is expected to benefit the more than 1.5 million government employees by increasing their salaries, which will be given in four yearly tranches starting July 1, 2009 until 2013.

Local government units (LGUs) will implement the salary increase January 1, 2010 while national agencies started the hike July 2009.

Debuque, who is also the secretary of LMP-Iloilo Chapter, said she was the first to raise the possibility that LGUs in Iloilo might not be able to comply with SSL-3 because they will overshoot the personal services (PS) caps on their annual budgets.

The Local Government Code (LGC) sets limitations on PS (salaries and benefits of local employees) on the annual budgets of LGUs.

The LGC provides that total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for PS of an LGU for one fiscal year shall not exceed 45% in the case of 1st to 3rd class LGUs and 55% in the case of 4th class or lower class LGUs.

“We are apprehensive that our employees will not be able to enjoy such rationalization and standardization because of the personal services limitation imposed on LGUs,” Debuque said in a phone interview.

Aside from the salary increase, Debuque said they are also facing difficulties in adjusting benefits such as the representation and transportation allowance (RATA) because of the PS limitation.

With the increase in salaries, indirect PS costs such as premiums for GSIS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig fund are bound to increase as these are adjusted along wage hikes.

Debuque also recalled that all municipalities in Iloilo, including the component city of Passi, received audit observation memorandums and notice of disallowances from the Commission of Audit because they overshot their PS caps.

“If the PS cap is not lifted when we implement the salary increase, we won’t be able to provide other privileges to our employees such as the one-time cash gift in December. Masubo gid ang Paskwa namon sini,” she said.

Debuque said the LMP national directorate received LMP-Iloilo’s position paper during the group’s Visayan Island conference in Subic last Aug 18-20.

Copies of the position paper were also given to Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor, Sr. and Senator Pia Cayetano.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in Western Visayas said only the province of Negros Occidental can comply with the salary increase without overshooting its PS limitation.

DBM assistant regional director Alfonso Bedonia said the PS cap was waived in previous salary hikes provided that LGUs have available funds for the increase.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO and Guimaras will have a “coming out party” of sorts during an investment forum in Metro Manila that will feature the two areas as future investment hubs in Visayas.

The Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILEDF) will host the Iloilo-Guimaras Investment Forum on September 4 at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila. 

The forum will present investment opportunities and prospects in the areas of information technology and communication, tourism and agribusiness in Iloilo City, and in the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras.

The half-day forum opens with a commercial exhibit at 8am.

The keynote speaker is Ramon del Rosario, Jr., new chairman of the University of Iloilo, and president of PHINMA Group which recently acquired the university.

Del Rosario will tackle their company’s belief in investing in education in Iloilo.  

Other speakers who will participate in the forum are Oscar R. Sanez, president of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines; Narzalina Z. Lim, former tourism secretary now president of Asia-Pacific Projects, Inc. Tourism and Hospitality Consultants; and Jesus N. Alcordo, president of Global Power Business Corp., which is presently building a coal-fired power plant in Iloilo. 

Aurelio R. Montinola III, president and CEO of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, will deliver the luncheon address.

In a statement, ILEDF said Iloilo and Guimaras make for an attractive investment proposition because of their development-oriented and business-friendly local governments, backed by a young and highly-educated population, a strong OFW sector, air, shipping and telecoms infrastructure already in place.

The coal-fired power plant project which will be completed in 2010, is expected to solve inadequate and expensive power supply.  The ongoing flood control project which will be completed next year will also ease flooding in the city and its suburbs. 

The good mix of cultural and natural attractions makes Iloilo and Guimaras the tourists’ delight, further highlighting their preparedness for socioeconomic growth.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN 18-year-old lad was arrested for allegedly raping a 2-year-old goat in Leon, Iloilo Sunday evening.

Rogie Calamaan of Brgy. Talacuan, Leon is facing charges for malicious mischief after he was seen having sexual intercourse with a goat owned by Eliseo Minerva.

Minerva said he saw Calamaan abusing the goat while lying on the ground past 6pm Sunday.

Calamaan, who is now detained at the Leoon PNP station, was drunk when the incident happened, according to police investigators.

The goat died after the alleged rape.

Calamaan said this is the first time that he sodomized an animal. He is negotiating to pay for the goat to avoid criminal raps.

ILOILO HAS JOINED San Fernando as the second city to attain business-friendly status under a governance program administered by the Institute of Solidarity in Asia (ISA).

ISA Executive Director Christopher P. Zaens said in a forum yesterday that Iloilo had completed the last of the governance program’s four stages.

San Fernando was earlier this month announced as the first local government unit (LGU) to attain business-friendly status under the program, which has been administered by the ISA since 2005.

Mr. Zaens noted that 34 local government units (LGU) had voluntarily joined the program, whose four stages are: the crafting of a road map by the LGU; development of a score card and its inclusion in the LGU’s planning and budgeting; implementation and monitoring of progress; and the achievement of breakthrough results.

The Western Visayas city, he said, was able to increase its income through improved tax collections and streamlined business registration processes.

From P825.890 million in 2005, Iloilo’s income rose to P917.439 million in 2006; P999.228 million in 2007; and P1.159 billion in 2008.

“We conducted consultations with the business sector and other taxpayers before implementing tax policies and tax increases to make sure that it will be acceptable to them,” Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas yesterday said.

He claimed the city was able to reduce the time it takes to obtain or renew a business license to one day, from seven days previously, through the establishment of a one-stop shop.

The gains, said Mr. Zaens, has started attracting investors, particularly those in the information communication technology sector. The number of business process outsourcing companies in the city rose to 12 last year from zero in 2005.

“Having completed the four stages and implementing changes, the city is now seen as a more attractive destination for investments and businesses,” he said.

http://www.bworldonline.com/BW082509/content.php?id=005

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE law converting the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) into a powerhouse agency will complement the implementation of the Cheaper Medicines Law (CML), according to one of the principal authors of the two legislations.

In an interview with cable TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Rep. Ferjenel Biron (4th district, Iloilo) said Congress passed Republic Act 9711 or the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) Act of 2009 to boost the regulatory capacity of the FDA, formerly BFAD, by mandating the establishment of adequate testing laboratories and field offices; upgrading its equipment and personnel; and authorizing the agency to retain income.

Biron said RA 9711 will make FDA very powerful in terms of ensuring quality of medicines, particularly those covered by the CML, and food sold in the country.

RA 9711 can be used to curb reports on counterfeit medicines such as fake flu vaccines emerging in the market following the implementation of the CML.

The strength of RA 9711, which is a consolidation of Senate Bill 2645 and House Bill 3293, is in the creation of a separate center for every major product category to regulate the manufacture, importation, export, distribution, and sale of any product.

The products under these different centers will be regulated by the FDA in terms of importation, exports, manufacturing, distribution, advertising, marketing, and all the processes in the manufacture of these products

Under the new law, there will be a center for drug regulation and research; a center for food regulation and research; center for cosmetics regulation and research, and center for device regulation, radiation, health and research.

RA 9711 also allowed the FDA to establish a Regulatory Enforcement Unit (REU) to serve executive rulings of the FDA as well as execute and serve search warrants and arrests.

The REU will run for a period of not exceeding five years upon the implementation of the new law.

Modern and complete testing laboratory facilities will also be set up in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao under the new law. This would allow local registration of products, apart from the existing laboratory at the FDA’s laboratory office.

“With the new powers of the FDA, we can ensure that quality of generic medicines will be similar to branded medicines,” Biron said.

President Gloria Arroyo signed RA 9711 into law August 17.

Meanwhile, Biron said the House leadership is enthusiastic in working for the passage of a bill that will amend the CML.

Biron said the amendatory bill, which he filed last month, will give more teeth to the CML by retaining the maximum retail price mechanism for essential medicines and creating a drug price regulatory body.

These provisions initially pushed for by the House were scrapped in the final version of the law due to opposition from the Senate, particularly by Senator Mar Roxas, chair of the Senate committee on trade.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

REFORMS are underway to further perk up the mining industry in the Philippines, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Speaking before the 7th Mineral and Energy Visayas Summit in Iloilo City Friday, DENR Assistant Secretary Jeremias L. Dolino said there is a need to refocus on the benefits of mining and attracting more investors in the country.

The DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau headed by Engr. Leo Van Juguan hosted the summit at Westown Hotel in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

Juguan said the annual summit is a gathering of key players in minerals and energy that highlighted the experiences of public and private sector affiliated with the mining industry.

Dolino said the mining industry continued its growth despite the global financial crisis since last year.

Dolino said the mining sector contributed 0.95 percent in 2001 to 1.52 percent in 2008 to the country’s gross national product (GNP).

“Mining has plowed in some US$577.25 million in 2008 or a total of US$2.1billion in investments since the start of the revitalization program in 2004,” he added.

The mining sector was also one of the recipients of the US$1.5-billion net foreign direct investments in the country in 2008.

Around 68,310 jobs were generated since the start of the mining revitalization program in 2004, Dolino said.

“As for the energy sector in 2008 the country got close to its 2010 target of 60 percent self-sufficiency, with the achievement of 57.9 percent sufficiency,” he added.

Coal, which is mined in various parts of the country, is one of the largest sources of energy in the country.

According to the Department of Energy, coal-fired thermal power plants remain the number one producer of electricity and account for a total of 3,967 MW or 25% of the country’s total installed powered generating capacity.

Dolino said the DENR will further streamline the processing of mining applications, cleansing of dormant mining claims and stricter compliance and monitoring of permit holders.

“We expect that processing time for new exploration permits(EP)/mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) will be further reduced from 1 year to 6 weeks, excluding the National Commission in Indigenous People (NCIP) certification and the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC),” Dolino said.

The NCIP certification is needed to ensure that the area to be explored or mined is not an ancestral domain of indigenous peoples.

FPIC consists of giving local people a formal role – and some form of veto power – in the consultations and ultimate decisions about local development projects, particularly mining.

The DENR will also shorten the time for EP renewal/exploration period renewal from 3 months to 1 day.

Cleansing of dormant mining claims aims of weed out speculators aside from coming up with a roster of active, serious, capable and competent mining applicants, Dolino said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GUNS for hire continue to be a major threat to peace and order in Iloilo province, according to the top official of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO).

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said the neutralization of hired killers in the province is one of their priorities what with the spate of killings that happened since last year.

“Guns for hire remain to be the biggest threat to Iloilo province and we are working hard to arrest these suspects,” dela Paz said in an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday.

The IPPO chief said they have arrested 12 suspected hired killers involved in various assassinations in Iloilo. Two suspects – Rex Consumo and Edgar Cordero – already died while the remaining 10 are in detention and facing charges in court.

Consumo, the suspect in the killing of Janiuay village chief Jerry Colaja last year, died of natural causes while in detention at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC).

Cordero, the suspected gunman of the late Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, died in a shooting incident in Butuan City late last year. His fellow suspect Dennis Cartagena was arrested and is also detained at the IRC.

“These guns for hire belong to the same group because bullets recovered from one assassination case matched the evidence in another incident,” he said.

Dela Paz said it is possible that guns for hire are under the protection of rich persons or even some authorities “but we have no evidence to confirm such report.”

Meanwhile, the IPPO will file criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives against two suspected thieves of cable and telephone wires.

Suspects William Pacaco and Hadjie Lalan Lalantacon were arrested at Capay-Capay, Dueñas last week following a raid on their group’s hideout.

Pacaco and Lalantacon are linked to the group of Roland Laquihon who steal copper wires used as cable TV and telephone lines.

Laquihon, who was also a subject of the raid, escaped before the police could reach their hideout.

Dela Paz said the Laquihon group is also involved in highway robbery cases in Iloilo.

The raiding team recovered from the suspects a caliber .45 pistol, a homemade 12-gauge shotgun, hand grenades and assorted bullets.

Dela Paz said the group was planning to rob a junkshop owner and poultry supply trader “that’s why we raided their hideouts before they could move.”

PBO bane to Iloilo City’s tourism?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Tourism (DoT) and a tourist bus operator slammed traffic managers in Iloilo City for being “unfriendly” to the tourism sector.

DOT regional director Edwin Trompeta riled at the deliberate refusal of the Traffic Technical Working Group (TTWG) and Traffic Management and Engineering Unit (TMEU) to allow a tourist bus to enter the city and fetch a group of tourism officers.

Trompeta said the Iloilo Tourism Officers Association (ITOA) tried to secure a permit from the TTWG to allow a bus of Philippine Visitors, Investors Services and Assistance, Inc. (Philvisa) to fetch them from a hotel and tour the city and province of Iloilo.

The DoT official said the tour was part of ITOA’s seminar in Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center last week.

But Trompeta claimed the TTWG did not act on the application nor did it inform ITOA on the status of its request for special permit.

Buses and other public utility vehicles are barred from entering the city because of the perimeter boundary ordinance (PBO).

“What happened was that 80 tourism officers boarded passenger jeepneys to the terminal in Pavia where the Philvisa bus was waiting. What happened is not very good for the tourism sector of Iloilo City,” Trompeta said.

Max Sorbito, Philvisa manager, said they learned that TTWG did not act on the special permit because the TMEU lacks personnel that will direct traffic when the bus goes around the city.

Sorbito said the actuation of the TTWG will drive away tourists and investors from Iloilo City.

Trompeta said the millions of pesos spent by the Iloilo City government to promote the city as tourism destination will go to waste if visitors find it hard to go around the metropolis.

The Iloilo City Council, through the committee on transportation and communication, turned Philvisa’s bid to ply the Iloilo airport-Iloilo City route because it runs counter to the PBO.

Taxi groups in Iloilo City opposed Philvisa’s operations in Iloilo City saying it will reduce their passengers.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE police officer who shot to death a Bangladeshi national Thursday morning did not violate the PNP rules of engagement.

PO3 Vicente Silla, pre-charge investigator of the Provincial Internal Affairs Service (PIAS), said PO1 Alvin Alcolea was only protecting himself when he shot Muhammed Zahir Hossain.

Hossain shot dead his second wife Ruby Ann Senato and wounded his mother-in-law Yolanda Senato at Brgy. East Baluarte, Molo, Iloilo City Thursday morning.

Alcolea and two other police officers responded to the incident and cornered Hossain who fled towards Brgy. Timawa, Molo.

Based on his own investigation, Silla said some witnesses saw Hossain fire at the pursuing policemen. They also heard Alcolea warning the Bangladeshi that he will shoot if the suspect flees.

Silla said Alcolea did the right thing “because the suspect was holding a gun and even shot two persons prior to the hot pursuit.”

A bullet from Alcolea’s caliber .45 pistol fell Hossain who died at the Saviour International Hospital past 8am Thursday.

Silla said Alcolea might have intended to disable Hossain’s arms but the latter got hit in the chest.

S/Insp. Danilo delos Santos, Molo police chief, said Alcolea did not plan to kill Hossain.

“When Alcolea’s team responded, they scattered to corner the Bangladeshi. It so happened that Alcolea spotted Hossain who fired his gun twice. The initial intention was to shoot the suspect’s shoulder but his chest caught the bullet,” delos Santos said.

Muhammed Zahir Hossain

Muhammed Zahir Hossain

Ruby Ann Senato

Ruby Ann Senato

Bangladeshi peppers with bullets Ilongga wife

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE tumultuous relationship of an Ilongga and a Bangladesh national, who is being blamed for the death of a police bomb expert in March, had a bloody ending Thursday morning in Molo, Iloilo City.

Muhammed Zahir Hossain, a Bangladeshi who migrated to Brgy. Calaparan, Arevalo district, woke up early yesterday, took a taxi to Brgy. East Baluarte and waited for his second wife Ruby Ann Senato past 7am.

Ruby Ann and her mother Yolanda, a kagawad of East Baluarte, were to attend the 8am court hearing on the annulment case Ruby Ann filed against Hossain.

When mother and daughter walked out of their house, Hossain approached and pointed a revolver at Ruby Ann and shot her five times.

Ruby Ann fell to the ground while pleading Hossain to stop but the Bangladeshi continued shooting her.

Hossain then turned on Yolanda, who was shocked by the sudden turn of events, and shot her in the chest.

The Bangladeshi national returned to the Light of Glory Taxi and retrieved a plastic bag containing more bullets which he brought with him.

The Molo police responded to the crime scene and chased Hossain who fired back at them.

One police officer hit Hossain in his chest twice. The suspect was rushed to Saviour International Hospital where he died around 8:45 am.

Ruby Ann was declared dead at the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital while Yolanda was in critical condition in the said hospital.

Zaldy Alongares, the taxi driver Hossein hired, said a fellow driver asked him to pick up the Bangladeshi in Calaparan.

Hossain then told Alongares to proceed to East Baluarte. After an hour of waiting by the bridge leading to Baluarte, the Bangladeshi told him to wait then left the taxi.

The driver was later surprised when Hossain approached the two women and shot them. He tried to flee but the car stalled as he got too nervous to drive.

Alongares said Hossain went back to the taxi and retrieved the bullets inside the plastic bag and left.

The driver then went to the Molo police to report the incident.

DOMESTIC WOES

The marital problem of Hossain and Ruby Ann is being blamed for the death of SPO3 Rafael Managuit of the Iloilo City Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) last March 31, 2009.

Yolanda accused her son-in-law of lobbing an improvised explosive made of a hand grenade, rifle grenade and pillbox (dalugdog) at their home on that same day.

Managuit responded to the bomb-throwing incident and retrieved the explosives. He brought back the bomb to their office near a mall in downtown Iloilo to prepare it for detonation.

While tinkering with the hand grenade, it accidentally detonated in Managuit’s hands. He died of massive chest and head injuries.

PO3 Roque Gemino, PO3 Diaz Abundio and PO2 Robert Sardua, who are members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team were injured during the blast.

The Molo police invited Hossain for questioning relative to the blast but no charges were filed against him.

In an interview when he was still alive, Hossain blamed Yolanda for his marital woes. He said he loves Ruby Ann and their two children but his mother-in-law kept on intruding in their lives.

Hossain and Ruby Ann have been fighting for the custody of their children aside from various criminal suits for maltreatment and threats filed by Yolanda against the Bangladeshi.

Ruby Ann also sought to annul her marriage to Hossain which irked the latter.

Yolanda told The Daily Guardian last March 31 that Hossain allegedly hurt her Ruby Ann, reason why she told her daughter to physically separate from her husband.

Yolanda said Hossain threatened to hurt their family if she continued to meddle in their lives.

Sr. Insp. Danilo delos Santos, Molo police chief, said Hossain intended to kill Ruby Ann because of the cases she filed against him. The Bangladeshi complained that he spent a large amount of money in answering the cases.

Delos Santos said he thought the couple already settled their difference when saw Hossain, Ruby Ann and their child eating ice cream together Sunday.

Delos Santos also defended PO1 Alcolea for shooting Hossain saying the latter was considered armed and dangerous. He said the Bangladeshi fired at the pursuing police officer.

Delos Santos said Alcolea shot Hossain in the shoulders to disable him the Bangladeshi got hit in the chest resulting in his death.

Hossain reportedly had a first wife identified as Helen Arellano who worked in Singapore.

Hossain and Arellano met abroad and later married. He then migrated to Iloilo City and put up a pawnshop in Calaparan which Helen financed.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE top official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) branded its regional office in Western Visayas as corrupt, thus, all its personnel must be investigated.

LTFRB Chairman Alberto Suansing said that aside from corruption charges against Atty. Rommel Duron, LTFRB hearing officer, he also received reports on alleged shenanigans of other LTFRB officials and personnel.

“Most of the personnel in LTFRB Western Visayas are corrupt and that is based on the reports we have been receiving,” Suansing said.

Suansing said their investigation will not only focus on the complaints lodged by taxi operators against Duron but also on other officers and rank and file employees.

Suansing said they will also go over inventories of transport franchises and transactions in LTFRB-6.

He said they are also monitoring the actions of Atty. Porfirio Clavel, LTFRB-6 regional director.

Suansing said they might release the initial findings on the complaints against Duron next week.

The Association of Taxi Operators in Panay and Alliance of Panay Taxi Operators and Drivers Associations accused Duron of extortion by charging operators fees in excess of the regular P810 franchise payment.

Clavel said he welcomes any probe on their office saying Suansing was just being concerned with the regional office.

“Like a father to his children, Chairman Suansing is only making sure that everything is in order in the regional office. We welcome the investigation,” Clavel said.

Clavel earlier said he will tell what he knows about the goings-on inside LTFRB regional office at the proper forum.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE chief of police of Mandurriao, Iloilo City was relieved from his post following the probe on allegations that he indiscriminately fired his gun inside a popular restaurant bar in Smallville complex the other day.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, ordered the relief of C/Insp. Salvador Dagoon as Mandurriao PNP station commander effective Wednesday afternoon.

Replacing Dagoon is C/Insp. Elizer Baclagon who was previously assigned at the ICPO headquarters.

Dagoon was required to report to the ICPO headquarters pending the investigation conducted by the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) on his alleged actuations inside MO2 Bar and Restaurant early Wednesday morning.

The MO2 management complained that Dagoon fired his gun inside the establishment after refusing to be frisked by security guards.

Dagoon said he went to MO2 to validate reports that security personnel and waiters maul consumers who don’t foot their bills or involved in melees inside the bar.

Dagoon said he was piqued by the arrogant behavior of the security guard who tried to frisk him. He admitted that he was drunk when he entered the MO2 premises.

Mongcal said the relief is not a penalty on Dagoon but is only meant to ensure a smooth and fair investigation on the incident.

The RIAS initiated a motu propio (on its own initiative) investigation on the incident because it involved indiscriminate firing.

PO3 Vicente Silla of RIAS, who is spearheading the initial investigation, said they can subject Dagoon to summary hearing if they find probable cause to file administrative charges against him.

Mongcal also ordered an investigation on the incident.

By Seth Mydans/Int’l  Herald Tribune 

MANILA — When former President Corazon C. Aquino died this month, Filipinos filled the streets in mourning and in celebration of the golden moment in 1986 when she led them in a peaceful uprising that some called a revolution.

The nation’s dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos, had fled as masses of people faced down his tanks, and democracy was restored after 20 years of repressive rule. Mrs. Aquino, the opposition leader who became president, ushered in wide-ranging political reforms.

But the weeks since Mrs. Aquino’s death at the age of 76 have been a period of self-examination and self-doubt among many Filipinos, as they consider how little has really changed since then.

“The legacy is the mess we are in,” said F. Sionil Jose, 84, the nation’s most prominent novelist, pointing to continuing poverty, inequality and political disarray as evidence that the nation failed to capitalize on its moment of possibility.

“We have a word for it — sayang — ‘what a waste,’” he said.

In schools, coffeehouses, rice fields, churches and offices around Manila and in the countryside, there seemed to be a shared sense that the people of the Philippines had failed themselves.

“We thought all we needed to do was remove the dictator and do nothing about it,” said Teresita I. Barcelo, president of the Philippine Nurses Association. “We thought the problem was just the dictator. I say the problem is us. We did not change.”

Sister Dory Reyes, 61, a former Roman Catholic nun and teacher in the farming town of Santa Maria, said: “The poverty is still there. The corruption is still there. Unemployment is still there. I don’t see improvement.”

The Philippines, with a population of 92 million, is one of the most vibrant nations in Asia, with a flamboyantly free press and a creative, assertive body of independent organizations and interest groups.

But it has not managed to tame its Communist and Muslim insurgencies or its restive military, which seems constantly to be plotting coups. The military has regularly been accused of human rights abuses and disappearances.

And the political arena sometimes seems more like a form of mass entertainment than a place of governance.

Since Mrs. Aquino left office in 1992, there have been three presidential elections, two attempts at impeachment, two apparent attempts to stay in power through constitutional change, one popular uprising that ousted an elected president and another that failed.

“We keep coming up with new ways to describe the country,” said Sheila Coronel, director of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University in New York, who for years was a leading journalist in the Philippines.

“Democracy in decay, a nonfunctioning democracy, a challenged democracy,” Ms. Coronel said, listing some of the epithets. “There was a time when the phrase ‘illiberal democracy’ was fashionable.”

Almost nothing in the Philippines escapes politics, and Mrs. Aquino’s funeral procession on Aug. 5 has been widely seen as a protest against the unpopular incumbent president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose term is scheduled to end next May.

“When Cory’s term ended, she did not seek to extend her stay,” said Consolacion Paje, 53, a housewife, as she stood in the rain with tens of thousands of people to view the funeral cortege, referring to Mrs. Aquino by her common nickname. “That’s what makes her different from Gloria. Cory was honest. She had integrity.”

Mrs. Arroyo is barred from running for a second six-year term as president. But the nation is transfixed by the possibility that she could amend the Constitution and stay in power as prime minister in a parliamentary system, a concern she sought to tamp down last month during her state of the nation address.

Despite constant attacks on her, Mrs. Arroyo is a ferocious politician, and she has already used her majority backing in Congress to turn aside attempts at impeachment.

With so much energy expended on political theater, not much progress has been made in improving the lives of ordinary Filipinos in a nation where 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

“Things get harder and harder every year,” said Ernesto Policarpio, 74, a farmer in Santa Maria, 20 miles northeast of Manila, who sells snacks and supplies from a stall by his rice field for extra income.

He paused to sell a single cigarette to a young man who lighted it with a lighter hanging from a string.

“But here in the province you don’t feel the hard times as much as in the city,” he said. “Here if you have nothing to eat you can always go to the neighbor and ask for food.”

Mr. Policarpio said he had worked abroad for a while, as many Filipinos have, earning $2,000 a month as a security guard in Los Angeles until the economy stumbled and he headed home.

Eight million Filipinos work overseas, or 25 percent of the country’s work force, its leading export. They send home about $17 billion a year, accounting for 13 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, according to the World Bank.

Before the financial crisis, the Philippine economy was growing by an average of more than 5 percent a year, World Bank figures show. But even that was not fast enough to outpace some of the world’s worst corruption or a birthrate that will bring the population to an estimated 101 million by 2015.

Many families here depend on remittances from abroad, and an overseas job can be one of the highest ambitions for the upwardly mobile.

“I’m optimistic,” said Danica Canonigo, 16, a high school student in Santa Maria. “I’m looking forward to another future in another country.”

This umbilical connection to the outside world may come in part from the history of the Philippines, which was an American colony for half a century, until 1946, after spending 400 years as a colony of Spain.

“We are not yet a nation,” said Mr. Jose, the novelist. “This is the whole problem. We have all the trappings of a modern state, but we are not yet a nation.”

The Philippines remains a collection of fiefdoms and oligarchies and political dynasties that include the children of Mr. Marcos and of Mrs. Aquino. She was herself elected as the widow of a prominent politician, Benigno S. Aquino Jr.

“I’m for Noynoy,” said Win Rico, 25, who serves coffee at a Starbucks outlet in Santa Maria, referring to Senator Benigno S. Aquino III. Mr. Aquino’s name has become a hot item in next year’s presidential election maneuvers since his mother’s funeral.

“I think Noynoy is a person who will put our country first,” Mr. Rico said, “the same as his father and his mother.”

In the Philippines, witnesses to journalist murders face extreme pressures and risk

New York, August 19, 2009—Journalist murders continue to go unpunished in the Philippines in large part because of witness intimidation, the Committee to Protect Journalists says in a new report. The government’s witness protection program, while valuable, is underfunded and beset by numerous shortcomings, CPJ’s Shawn W. Crispin writes.

 CPJ’s report, “Under Oath, Under Threat,” spotlights the 2008 murder of radio broadcaster Denis Cuesta, who was shot while walking with colleague Robert Flores along a main road in General Santos City on the island of Mindanao . Flores came forward to identify a senior police official as one of the assassins—despite threats against him and his family. He and his family now live in a safe house with little money or freedom as the delay-plagued case slowly proceeds to trial. “I have sacrificed my family, my job, everything for justice,” the 49-year-old Flores told CPJ. “When the case is over, we will have to start a new life somewhere else.”

 The  Philippines is sixth on CPJ’s 2009 Impunity Index, which ranks countries worldwide in which journalists are regularly slain and their murders go unsolved. According to CPJ research, at least 24 journalist murders have gone unsolved in the Philippines over the last decade. CPJ has also documented numerous instances in which witnesses have been threatened, assaulted, or bribed. In one of the most shocking cases—the 2002 murder of radio journalist Edgar Damalerio—two witnesses were killed before they could testify, and a third survived an assassination attempt.

 Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, traveled to General Santos City and Manila in July to research this report.

 Click URL for full story: http://cpj.org/ reports/2009/ 08/philippines- impunity- under-oath- under-threat. php

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

PERSONALITIES involved in the alleged irregularities at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) exchanged taunts and accusations when taxi groups mounted at picket at the agency’s regional office in Jaro, Iloilo City Wednesday.  

Atty. Rommel Duron, LTFRB hearing officer who is accused of extorting P33,000 from a taxi operator, went out of his office, flashed a V sign at the protesters while smiling.

Whatever the V sign meant was not clear but protesters belonging to the Alliance of Panay Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (Aptoda) and Association Taxi Operators of Panay (Atop) said Duron might be expressing victory against the cases against him.

Genie Primalion, Aptoda spokesperson, said Duron might be bragging that he will survive the slew of criminal and administrative cases filed against him because of his closeness to LTFRB national chair Alberto Suansing.

Duron said he was happy to see the taxi drivers and operators outside their office. He even advised them to eat well drink lots of water because they might get exhausted in the middle of the rally.

Duron also challenged taxi operators Perfecto Yap and Joseph Vincent Go to join the protesting drivers to show that they are also concerned with their personnel. He said the protesters were given money to join the rally.

Go, who joined the rallyists, said the taxi transport sector is united in their crusade against the alleged excesses of Duron. He also hit Duron for calling them “Intsik” (Chinese) when the latter challenged them to join the rally.

Around 40 taxi units joined the picket and noise barrage at the LTFRB office.

TAXI METER

Meanwhile, Duron said LTFRB regional director Porfirio Clavel should also be investigated for his refusal to implement the installation of digital taxi meters that issue receipts.

Duron said the LTFRB central office did not defer the new metering policy.

“It is only here in Western Visayas that Director Clavel acceded to the request of some taxi operators to delay the use of taxi meters issuing receipts. I have proof that he gave in to the operators instead of enforcing the law,” he said.

Clavel said he is willing to be investigated because he is the head of the LTFRB regional head.

Clavel said any complaint against him is welcome, particularly in relation to the controversy raging in his office.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AFTER a mother in San Enrique, Iloilo delivered all-girl quadruplets, another woman on Capiz gave birth to triplets early Monday morning.

Josephine Badoles, 39, of Brgy. Butacal, Panay, Capiz gave birth to three boys at their village through the help of a midwife.

But the triplets were confined at the Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital because they are suffering from pneumonia aside from being underweight.

Badoles, who already has three children, said she did not expect to give birth to triplets because she did not feel anything unusual. She also did not undergo ultrasound examination during her pregnancy.

Badoles also sought financial help via Bombo Radyo for her children because they cannot foot the hospital bills.

Earlier, Rosalyn Agrabio, 30, of Brgy. Abaca in San Enrique, Iloilo gave birth to all-girl quadruplets via caesarean section last August 11 at the Western Visayas Medical Center.

Agrabio said she named her daughters Mary Antoinette, Mary Rose, Diana Rose and Sheena Marie.

Agrabio said expected triplets but were surprised when four baby girls came out from her womb.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE top police officer in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City is under investigation for allegedly firing his gun inside a bar in Smallville complex early morning Wednesday.

C/Insp. Salvador Dagoon is the subject of a motu propio investigation by the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) spearheaded by PO3 Vicente Silla.

The probe was triggered by an altercation between Dagoon and security personnel and staff of MO2 Bar and Restaurant around 1am Wednesday.

According to the blotter report filed by the MO2 personnel, Dagoon, who was wearing civilian clothes, resisted when a security guard tried to frisk him as part of their security measure.

After some discussion, Dagoon entered the bar and fired his gun twice. He then proceeded to the MO2 Ice disco club and ordered some drinks.

The MO2 personnel said Dagoon ordered his subordinates to take security guard Fredinel Lobaton into custody for lack of appropriate licenses.

Lobaton, who was released yesterday, works for the security agency owned by the son of C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PNP regional director.

Dagoon said he resisted the security guard who tried to frisk him because of the guard’s arrogant approach.

“The guard was arrogant when he approached me. They even mobbed me. We have been orienting them to be courteous in dealing with their customers,” he said.

Dagoon said he went to MO2 to conduct a covert investigation on allegations that the bar’s security personnel and staff maul customers who don’t pay their bills or involved in rumbles.

He said he did not introduce himself to the security guards to avoid blowing his cover.   

“We have been receiving a lot of reports regarding the actuations of the security guards and waiters. Some of their victims are professionals who don’t deserve to be maltreated. My presence was part of my work as a police officer,” Dagoon added.

Dagoon said he already had several drinks before he entered MO2.

PO3 Silla said they are conducting the investigation sans a formal complaint because one of the charges against Dagoon is indiscriminate firing of his issued firearm.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal advised Dagoon to face the investigation even as he assured that the probe will be fair to all parties involved.

Mongcal also cautioned police officers to maintain decorum and proper behavior whether they are on or off duty.

“Disorderly acts are prohibited by existing regulations. Any violation will be subject to administrative charges,” he added.

DoH to use info-tech to monitor drug prices

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Health (DoH) will use the information highway to monitor prices of medicines sold in giant retail outlets.

Dr. Ariel Valencia, DoH regional director in Western Visayas, said they are about to complete the orientation of pharmacies on the Electronic-Essential Drugs Price Monitoring System (e-EDPMS).

The e-EDPMS provides a system and procedure for the data collection on prices of selected essential drugs.

The monitoring system requires pharmacies to use e-EDPMS computer software that is linked to the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD), DoH Information Management Service and Centers for Health Development around the country.

Data generated by the e-EDPMS will be uploaded daily to the EDPMS website at http://umis.doh.gov.ph/edpms.

The e-EDPMS is part of the National Drug Policy-Pharmaceutical Management Unit (NDP-PMU 50) or Pharma 50.

The Pharma 50 unit was established to operationalize, manage and monitor the implementation of all DOH initiatives, programs and projects, whose paramount objective is to achieve the reduction of the price of drugs and medicines.

Valencia said e-EDPMS will help the DoH keep track of prices of medicines, particularly the five molecules that are subject of mandatory drug retail price (MDRP) set by the Cheaper Medicines Law (CML) and its implementing rules and regulation.

Valencia said drug stores must follow the 50% slash in prices of medicines included in the MDRP list of the DoH.

The medicines covered by the MDRP include anti-hypertensives, anti-thrombotic, anti-diabetic/antihypoglycemic, and antibiotic/antibacterial.

“Big drug stores such as Mercury and Watsons have complied with the law already. Smaller pharmacies should talk with the main suppliers and manufacturers so they can get rebates for products they bought before the implementation of the law last August 15,” Valencia said.

Drugs stores with stocks bought before the implementation of the CML have until September 15 to fully comply with the law.

Valencia said consumers should report violators to the BFAD regional office with telephone number 3210204. He also advised consumers to keep receipts issued by drug stores as proof of their violations.

In Capiz, Jessie Contreras, Capiz Emmanuel Hospital (CEH) administrator, also urged consumers to keep receipts of their medicine purchases to help identify drugstores that don’t follow the CML.

Contreras, who is also the executive vice president of the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines (PHAP), complaints against erring drugstores maybe lodged with his office at the CEH.

“It is better that there are complaints so that I could bring these to Department of Health Secretary Duque during our PHAP meeting in Manila on Aug. 24,” Contreras said.

Contreras said pharmacies of Capiz-based private hospitals are compliant with Executive Order 821 which mandates a 50% cut on the prices of five essential medicines. (With reports from PIA-Capiz)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 61 cases of Influenza A(H1N1) virus infection were recorded in Western Visayas from May 18 to August 1, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

The cases were confirmed by laboratory results from the Research Institute for

Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The DoH data said the patients ranged from a 9-month-old baby to a 54-year-old adult. The median age of the patients is 20 years old.

Most of the cases belonged to the 10 to 19 age group. A total of 33 patients, or 54%, are male.

Ninety three percent (94%) are Filipinos while the rest are Americans and Japanese.

A total of 30 cases (49%) have traveled outside the country while the remaining cases were close contacts of confirmed Influenza A H1N1 cases.

Of the patients who traveled to countries affected with A(H1N1) flu, 12 cases (40%)

came from United States, 5 cases (17%) from China, 4 cases (14%) from Japan, 3 cases (10%) from United Kingdom, 2 cases (7%) from Saudi Arabia while 4 patients came from Australia, Panama, Singapore and Sweden.

Majority of A(H1N1) cases in Western Visayas were recorded in Iloilo province (15) and Roxas City (13).

Bacolod City has 12 cases while Iloilo City has 11.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE city of Iloilo and neighboring municipalities should combine their efforts and resources to respond to natural calamities and disasters.

This is the approach adopted by the World Bank (WB)-assisted Disaster Risk Management (DRM) project of Iloilo City which kicked off last week.

Jorge Ebay, WB consultant and DRM coordinator, said Iloilo City should forge strategic partnership with its immediate neighbors in responding to disasters.

“If we want to pursue disaster risk reduction (DRR) objectives, we should focus not only in Iloilo City but on neighboring areas as well so that we can have an integrated approach” Mr. Ebay said.

Ebay said Iloilo City was caught off guard when typhoon Frank hit June 21, 2008 and flooded the city and its neighboring towns.

“Typhoon Frank made the city government realize its incapacity to manage the impact of big disasters,” Mr. Ebay added. 

The DRM project, dubbed “Technical Assistance to Support Planning for Recovery and Reconstruction of Iloilo City”, aims to identify major hazards and risks within Iloilo City; assess its capacity in responding to hazards and risk; build its capacity for DRM and enhance strategic partnerships with neighboring municipalities.

The project will also validate the damages and losses incurred by Iloilo City after Typhoon Frank and identify gaps in the recovery and reconstruction plan of the city. 

The WB’s Global Facilities for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) allotted US$250,000 assistance to Iloilo City’s DRM project.

Last week, representatives from Iloilo City and members of the Metro Iloilo Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC) underwent a seminar on hotspot assessment.

The MIGEDC members are the municipalities of Oton, Pavia, Sta. Barbara, San Miguel, Cabatuan, Maasin, Alimodian, Leganes, Leon, and province of Guimaras

“The city government and neighboring towns looked into Iloilo City’s human and built environment characteristics vis-à-vis the potential impact of climate change and natural hazards. This is to facilitate coordination and possible collaboration and resource sharing for projects that will jointly reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, such as the environmental protection of the watershed area,” the DRM project brief said. (With reports from PNA)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

PERSONNEL of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are refrained from issuing any statement relative to the alleged graft case filed against a ranking official.

Atty. Porfirio Clavel, LTFRB regional director, said the LTFRB central office issued the gag order after ordering a probe on Atty. Rommel Duron, regional hearing officer and technical services department chief.

“Maybe the central office is already conducting an investigation on the allegations against Atty. Duron reason why it issued the gag order,” Clavel said.

Clavel earlier said he will reveal everything he knows regarding Duron’s case at the proper forum.

Duron is facing administrative and criminal cases filed by taxi operator Salvacion Ruiz and the Alliance of Panay Taxi Operators and Drivers Associations (Aptoda).

Ruiz claimed that Duron made her pay P33,000 for her franchise application when the regular fee is only P810, based on the official receipt issued to her.

Another taxi operator, Tony Caram also surfaced and alleged that he paid P35,000 to casual driver Henry Mamon for his franchise application.

Caram said Mamon is detailed to Duron’s office and may have an involvement in the alleged racket.

Caram’s statement became the basis of administrative and criminal cases filed by the Association of Taxi Operators (Atop) in Panay against Duron and Mamon.

Duron had denied the allegations against him saying he did not directly deal nor meet the complainants.

Mammon claimed in his affidavit that Atop officials pressured him to pin down Duron in the administrative and criminal cases.

Clavel said he did not renew Mamon’s appointment as casual driver for conduct unbecoming, act of dishonesty and insubordination.

Clavel said Mamon’s continued interviews relative to Duron’s case was basis for the non-renewal of his appointment.

Aptoda and Atop began Tuesday its series of protest actions against Duron by tying yellow and black ribbons in taxi units of their members.

Genie Primalion, Aptoda liaison officer, said the ribbons symbolize their despair on the slow development of the complaints filed against Duron and Mamon.

The taxi groups will also mount a protest rally and noise barrage at the LTFRB regional office.

3 brgys face constant landslide threats

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE municipality of Tubungan, Iloilo might declare three barangays as danger zones because of possible landslides in the future.

Tubungan Mayor Victor Tabaquirao said they are planning to declare Barangays Igtuble, Molina and Igpaho as permanent danger zone areas because of continuing threats of another landslide.

The three villages were affected by a massive landslide last week which triggered the evacuation of more than 2,000 residents to the town proper of Tubungan.

Human activities and structures are not allowed in a permanent danger zone.

While the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has allowed affected residents to go back to their homes, Tabaquirao said they were warned to be careful and alert for possible landslides and other disasters.

Tabaquirao said the MGB recommended that residents should be alert in the event of prolonged heavy rains which might trigger movement of rocks and soil from the mountains to the plains.

The mayor said the soil in the three villages is soft which can easily slide when drenched by water.

The MGB had previously discovered cracks in  Igtuble which is classified as highly susceptible to landslides.

Engr. Leo Van Juguan, MGB regional director, said while the landslide debris did not cover the barangay propers of Igtuble and Molina, “access roads to and from these villages are hampered during landslides.”

Juguan said the landslide started in an area called Bato Ritak which is characterized with unconsolidated rocks and soil.

“These loose materials can easily be eroded during heavy rains and slide towards the barangays. These unconsolidated rocks and soil are mainly caused by the presence of cracks which are considered part of the West Panay fault line,” he added.

Juguan said he would suggest the permanent evacuation of residents in upland sitios which are on the direct path of landslides.

“During summer, the situation might be relatively stable because of the absence of heavy rains. But their condition becomes precarious during rainy season. Instead living perpetually on the edge of uncertainty and moving them in and out of the sitios, we might as well permanently relocate the residents to other areas,” Juguan said.  

The MGB also recommended the permanent evacuation of residents from Maslog Creek where most of the soil fell during the landslide.

The agency said the landslide in Tubungan is considered “huge and active” because some 2 kilometers of the mountains slid to the villages.

Tabaquirao said some of the evacuated residents return to the affected barangays of Igtuble and Molina during the day but they return to the evacuation centers at nighttime.

The municipal government is also preparing the construction of a hanging bridge that will serve as exit route for residents if another landslide happens.

Earlier, the Sangguniang Bayan of Tubungan has declared the town under state of emergency even as they sought help for the evacuees.

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