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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THREATS continue to plague the surviving members of the Gulanes family who were ambushed in Jaro, Iloilo City two weeks ago.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said they received reports that unidentified persons continue to send threatening text messages to the daughter and wife of George Gulanes.

Cuevas said the senders of the text messages might be members of a group of hired guns and robbers operating in the city and province of Iloilo.

George died after two gunmen riddled their pickup truck with bullets at the gate of San Paulo Village in Brgy. Bakhaw, Jaro early morning of September 3.

His wife Ronielyn was wounded in her hand and cheek while their 14-year-old daughter was unscathed.

An intelligence community source told The Daily Guardian that the suspects who ambushed the family sent text messages to the daughter and threatened to kill them also.

The daughter has left Iloilo to an undisclosed location for her safety. Her mother Ronielyn, who is recuperating in a hospital in Iloilo City, also plans to flee after what happened to their family.

Police are looking at the family’s lending business as a possible motive for the ambush.

The Gulanes couple was to attend a court hearing on an estafa case relative to their business on the day they were waylaid.

Cuevas said they will validate the information whether the rest of the Gulanes family have fled or are planning to get out of Iloilo.

“We have no information on their plans to hide but we will verify that,” he added.

Apparently, the mastermind and gunmen of the ambush intended to wipe out the whole Gulanes family.

The intelligence source said George told his daughter to get out of the truck when the suspects began firing at the vehicle.

Investigators surmised that George may have gone out of the pickup truck to lead the suspects away from his family.

Cuevas said they have received reports that the plan of the suspects was to eliminate the whole family “but these also need validation.”

“Anybody could come up with such information that is why we will verify that first. We need first hand information on this. Our action is to intensify our intelligence monitoring to pinpoint and arrest these suspects,” Cuevas said.

Asked if the Gulanes family continues to cooperate with investigators, Cuevas said the family gave information on who could be the suspects behind the ambush.

“So far in our investigation, the surviving victims identified one of the gunmen and this could be the probable reason why they are threatening the family in order to compel them to stop cooperating with the police. But our investigators will not stop until we have filed the case and arrested the suspects,” he added.

Cuevas said he has directed S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City police director, to provide security to the Gulanes family.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) gave in to the demands of corn farmers for higher government support price for local yellow corn.

In a press statement, the NFA said it has adopted a two-tiered support price in buying 600,000 metric tons (MT) of yellow corn from local farmers this year.

The grains agency said it will initially buy 300,000 MT of yellow corn at P13 per kilo. The remaining 300,000 MT will be purchased at P10.70 per kilo once the first tranche of the grain is exhausted.

The new buying prices for yellow corn include incentives amounting to 70 centavos per kilo: P0.20 as incentive for farmers to dry their corn within prescribed levels, P0.20 to deliver their corn to NFA warehouses and P0.30 for cooperatives that sell their corn to the government.

The Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Philmaize) earlier warned that DA’s decision to cut the support price for yellow corn from to P10/kg from P13/kg in May is not enough to cover the farmers’ P10/kg production cost.

Philamaize warned that the 2.5 million MT of corn harvest initially projected in the October-March crop season could be cut by a third if farmers are discouraged from planting due to the low price.

The DA/NFA set the new buying price to double the volume of local yellow corn to be bought to 600,000 MT.

Rex C. Estoperez, director for public affairs of the NFA, said the new buying prices were reached during the NFA council meeting last week.

The NFA said Malacañang has approved the supplemental budget for the higher support prices.

The grains agency will allocate for each region how much corn will be bought at P13/kg. After that volume is exhausted, the balance will be bought at 10.70/kg.

Philmaize said the while government enticed farmers to plant through a P13/kg buying price in the middle of this year, it also allowed excessive importation of feed wheat — a substitute for yellow corn in animal feeds.

Executive Order 765, which was in effect from January-June 21, removed the 7% duty on feed wheat. Consequently, private traders then imported some 1.1 million MT of the corn substitute.

As a result prices of corn dictated by private traders have dropped to as low as P8-P8.90/kg late last week from P12/kg in December last year.

As of end-August, NFA data show the agency had bought 33,530 MT of corn at P13/kg, about 5% of its full-year target. (With reports from BusinessWorld)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) apologized to persons and groups who were offended by an intelligence report blunder on the operations of the Bukas Kotse gang.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, issued the apology to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo Chapter, the business community and the tri-media in a press conference in Camp Delgado Monday.

The apology stemmed from a news item which quoted S/Supt. Edgar Layon, PRO-6 chief directorial staff, as saying that a lawyer, a businessman and a journalist were coddling car thieves.

Cuevas issued the apology after learning that IBP-Iloilo headed by Atty. Marven Daquilanea is set to send a letter to PRO-6 protesting the statements attributed to Layon.

“I am sorry. We apologize to the IBP, the tri-media and other personalities who might have been offended by that information. If there were misquotations, we apologize to those we offended because we have no intention of hurting anybody,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said the PRO-6 has no official report on the allegations of the news item that quoted Layon.

“That information was volunteered to S/Supt. Layon. We have no report on the involvement of those personalities mentioned,” he said.

Layon had said he was misquoted in the news item and he did not give the information to the media.

Layon said he was asked a leading question whether the aforementioned persons were in cahoots with the Bukas Kotse gang.

Daquilanea said the PRO-6 pronouncement was unfair since it did not identify the lawyer who is allegedly protecting car thieves.

Daquilanea said the information also undermines their profession which is to provide legal assistance to complainants and suspects alike.

Wife’s statement vital in murder raps vs killers

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is awaiting the statement of a woman who was ambushed along with her husband and daughter in Jaro, Iloilo City two weeks ago.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the statement of Ronielyn Gulanes is vital to the case that will be filed against the mastermind and gunmen who waylaid her family September 3.

Ronielyn’s husband George died after they were ambushed at Brgy. Sambag, Jaro. They were supposed to bring their daughter, who was unhurt in the incident, to school when two suspects shot their pickup truck.

Mongcal said Ronielyn has yet to execute her affidavit as she is still recuperating at the Iloilo Mission Hospital.

Mongcal said the Jaro PNP has established the identity of the mastermind and the four persons who monitored and ambushed the Gulanes family.

“When we have the statement of the wife, we will file murder charges against the suspects,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) helped identify the gunmen who are believed to be hiding in Iloilo province.

According to ICPO sources, the mastermind is a person who lent money to the victim to start their own lending business.

The Jaro PNP said the ambush may have something to do with the couple’s lending business.

IPPO sources said the gunmen of the Gulanes family were also involved in the robbery of Vallacar Transit remittance center in Brgy. Buhang, Jaro a week ago.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman in Visayas has begun its probe on the controversial power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 and an independent power supplier.

Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Pelagio Apostol said they have formed a fact-finding body that will gather information on the agreement between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Philippines, Inc. (Artech).

Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza claimed last May that he received P75,000 from Governor Niel Tupas last April 17 when they met Artech officials at the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Artech was offering a 25-year PSA to Ileco using diesel-fired and biomass power plants when the alleged bribery at Tupas’s house happened.

Tupas and Artech officials have denied Baldoza’s allegations.

Apostol refused to give the details and coverage of their investigation saying the proceedings are still confidential.

“When we find in the fact-finding investigation that there is probable cause to investigate any public official involved in this issue, we will start the formal probe. For now, we are gathering more information relative to this issue,” Apostol said.

Apostol urged persons who have knowledge about the transaction to share their information with the office of the Ombudsman.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) Legal Department has submitted a copy of its own fact-finding investigation on the Ileco 3-Artech deal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The NEA fact-finding team has recommended the rescission of the power supply deal citing onerous provisions.

NEA also took over the Ileco 3 management and deactivated its board of directors pending the investigation on the alleged bribery.

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