You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 17, 2009.

Taxi operators, drivers fuming mad on Suansing’s action

By Tara Yap

A GROUP of taxi operators and drivers is not satisfied with the recommendation of an investigating panel of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to just relieve controversial regional officials.

They were seething with discontent that they also charged LTFRB chairman Alberto Suansing of covering up the alleged systemic graft and corruption happening inside LTFRB-6.

This developed as the LTFRB panel headed by Atty. Manuel Mahipus recommended the relief of LTFRB 6 Regional Director Porferio Clavel, regional hearing officer Romel Duron and administrative officer Janet Solinap.

The panel was tasked to investigate the alleged extortion committed by Duron on taxi franchise applicants.

The investigating panel expanded its probe on other purported graft in LTFRB-6, according to Suansing.

But the Alliance of Panay Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (APTODA) is not contented with the panel’s recommendation.

APTODA president Benjie Clavel said Suansing whitewashed the issue.

“Ginatakpan niya lang ang tanan nga kabutigan (He is covering up the truth),” Clavel said.

Clavel said that Suansing is defending Duron when the LTFRB chairman made pronouncements that Duron is not directly involved in the graft and corruption charges.

“Hambal ni Suansing, wala direct involvement si Duron maskin nag testigo si Salvacion Ruiz nga siya mismo naka hatag sang P30,000 kay Duron para sa taxi franchise (Suansing said that Duron is not involved even though Salvacion Ruiz testified that she herself gave P30,000 to Duron for the fee of the taxi franchise),” Clavel explained.

“Kami na ang ga pangita hustisya pero si Duron ang gin hatagan sang hustisya (We are the ones looking for justice, but Duron is one who is given justice),” Clavel pointed out.

Clavel also said that Suansing had to find a reason to relieve regional director Porfirio Clavel to divert attention away from Duron, whom they want to be permanently removed from LTFRB.

Director Clavel was relieved for violating a memorandum which only allows 150 units per year to be granted a franchise. An investigation by a 5-men team found that Director Clavel gave a franchise to more than 150 units.

However, Clavel said that it is Duron’s responsibility as the latter heads the technical working committee and is the regional hearing officer. 

“The applications pass by Duron before (these go) to director Clavel,” Clavel said.

Clavel also said that they do not know why Suansing gave Solinap relief orders as she has nothing to do with the allegations of graft and corruption charges.

Meanwhile, Clavel and the rest of the aggrieved taxi operators and drivers are appealing to Suansing to permanently remove Duron not just from LTFRB 6, but LTFRB itself.

“Wala si Suansing naluoy sa linibo nga ging tonto ni Duron. Dapat, pahalinon  gid si Duron sa LTFRB (Doesn’t Suansing feel sorry for the thousands of people who was fooled by Duron? Duron should be removed from the LTFRB),” stressed Clavel.

Duron could not be reached at his office. Text messages to his cellphone asking for his comment were unanswered.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) must secure permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the clearing of the Dungon Creek banks in Iloilo City, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Treñas said the DPWH, which is implementing the P50-million Dungon Creek dredging, may have forgotten to secure a permit from the DENR to clear the creek of mangroves as part of the project.

Last week, residents of Sitio Sooc in Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao slammed International Builders Corp. (IBC), a sub-contractor of the project, for uprooting 20-30 mangroves and other trees from a portion of the creek in their village.

Members of the Bolilao Empowerment of Neighborhoods Association (BOENAS) fear that the creek banks will be eroded and endanger residents if all mangroves are uprooted.

Initial report by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Iloilo said an estimated P30,000 worth of mangroves were destroyed.

The contractor and the DENR have suspended the dredging project because of the issue. Another factor that delayed the project implementation is the relocation of squatters from the creek’s banks.

Treñas said the DPWH has sent a letter to DENR Sec. Lito Atienza to resolve problem.

The mayor said the project will resume when the snags are resolved to prevent flooding in Iloilo City.

Cenro head Bernabe Garnace said IBC should have used a barge to excavate or dredge the river bank of silt to prevent overrunning the mangroves and other endemic plants in the creek.

“The backhoe should have been placed in one barge while the other barge will haul the excavated materials. Placing a backhoe in the easement area will destroy the mangrove areas,” Garnace said.

The main contractor of the project is Cebu-based WT Construction which won the bidding conducted by the DPWH regional office.

Garnace said if proper procedures were observed, minimal destruction was done on the mangrove areas.

He added that the environmental destruction caused by the incident is bigger compared to the commercial value of the damaged mangroves.

“The environmental assessment is still ongoing in the affected mangrove site. What happened is uncalled for,” Garnace said.

Garnace said the DENR will call a technical conference to determine IBC’s liabilities on the destroyed mangroves. (With reports from PNA)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) has provided security personnel to surviving members of the Gulanes family who were ambushed in Jaro, Iloilo City two weeks ago.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, confirmed reports that Ronielyn Gulanes and her 14-year-old daughter continue to receive threatening text messages.

The threats were believed to be sent by suspects who ambushed the Gulanes family at San Paulo Village in Brgy. Sambag, Jaro around 7am of September 3.

Ronielyn’s husband George died in the ambush after two gunmen fired at their pickup.

“In fact, right the incident we sent police officers to the hospital where the wife is recuperating. We also continue to check the safety of the child who is now in a safer location,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said the persons who sent the threats might be trying to dissuade the family from cooperating with the police and pursue the criminal cases that will be filed against the mastermind and the gunmen.

Mongcal said the family is still cooperative with the police as the wife has identified one of the gunmen.

“We are just waiting for the wife to sign her sworn affidavit which will become part of our evidence in the filing of the case,” he added.

Mongcal said only close family members are allowed to visit Ronielyn at the hospital. Strict inspection and verification of the visitors’ identities are implemented as part of the security measures.

The Gulanes’s family’s lending business is believed to be the motive for the ambush, according to police investigators.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO persons died while three others were wounded when officials of two barangays in San Remegio, Antique clashed Tuesday afternoon.

Reports from Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said barangay kagawad Ronald Beriong of Banbanan, San Remigio and tanod Emilio Tañaquen of Lumpatan, San Remigio died of gunshot and hack wounds.

Injured were punong barangay Jimmy Ambrosio, his cousin Escolastico Ambrosio, both of Lumpatan and Antonio Calmacio of Banbanan.

The Antique police said the encounter happened between the officials of Banbanan and Lumpatan when Beriong and his four companions went to Lumpatan late afternoon Tuesday.

A conflict has been brewing between officials of the two leaders after Lumpatan officials accused Beriong as the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers who stole a carabao owned by Ambrosio.

The two groups exchanged shots and hacks when they crossed paths at Brgy. Lumpatan.

Beriong’s companions, who are suspected cattle rustlers, fled after the incident.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than P240,000 terminal fees was discovered missing inside the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City, Negros Occidental Wednesday.

Reports reaching the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said unidentified suspects filched a total of P240,400 cash from a steel cabinet at the second floor of the airport.

According to the Silay City police headed by Supt. Jerry Bartolome, the theft is an inside job as the suspects knew where the money was hidden.

The police have established the identities of the suspects but they refused to give details pending further investigation and filing of charges.

Antonio Alfonso, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority based at the airport, said they will impose severe penalties on any airport employee involved in the incident.

The airport management will also inspect the facility and revise security measures to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman in Western Visayas will ask the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to explain and resolve the delayed remittance of retirees’ pensions.

This after the Ombudsman received complaints from GSIS pensioners in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo about the 8-month delay in their monthly pensions.

Evangeline Nuñal, Ombudsman graft investigator, said 79 pensioners from Bacolod City and 40 pensioners in Iloilo sent their complaints to the People’s Graftwatch in their respective areas. The Graftwatch then forwarded the complaints to the Ombudsman-Western Visayas office for investigation.

Nuñal said the case was assigned to her through a raffle by their office. Her first move is to send a letter to the GSIS regional and national offices asking for an explanation and resolution to the pensioners’ problem.

If GSIS does not respond to their first letter, Nuñal said they will send two more letters of the same nature.

If the state pension fund does not respond after three letters, the Ombudsman will launch a formal investigation which could lead to the filing of administrative and criminal cases.

Aside from the complainants in Bacolod and Iloilo, some pensioners in Antique and Capiz are also planning to send their own complaints to the Ombudsman through the Social Action Center of the Catholic Church.

GSIS pensioners recently complained that they did not receive their September pensions on the designated date.

Fe Panes, GSIS-Iloilo assistant manager, said the delay was caused by the “migration” or transfer of pensioners’ records to their new computer system.

GSIS is implementing an overhaul of its computer system after the software of its technology provider crashed.

Panes said GSIS sent text message broadcast to pensioners informing them about the delay in the remittance of their pensions.

But some pensioners said they did not receive any word from the state pension fund.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo chapter accepted the apology issued by the region’s top police official over reports that a lawyer was coddling the Bukas Kotse gang.

In a statement emailed to The Daily Guardian, IBP-Iloilo President Marven B. Daquilanea praised C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, for clarifying the issue and apologizing for the report.

“In behalf of the IBP Iloilo Chapter I am expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the reported apology of PNP Regional Director Isagani Cuevas,” Daquilanea said.

Daquilanea said the IBP will continue to work with the PNP in law enforcement and administration of justice.

“We reiterate our admiration and support to the PNP leadership in Region 6, and we hope that we can work with them in their law enforcement efforts for the better and more effective administration of justice. Thank you, Chief Supt. Cuevas, for clarifying a sensitive matter which would have been unnecessarily derogatory to the members of our organization,” he added.

Daquilanea said he sent the statement after reading TDG’s report on Cuevas’s apology to the IBP, the tri-media and the business community Tuesday.

“I hope this will help us maintain our good relationship with…Director Cuevas,” Daquilanea said.

Cuevas made the apology following a news item quoting a PRO-6 official as saying that a lawyer, a mediaman and a businessman were protecting car thieves.

Cuevas said the information did not come from the PRO-6 but was a leading question asked to S/Supt. Edgar Layon, PRO-6 directorial staff, during a press conference.

The PRO-6 director said he apologized as the report may have offended some personalities.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo Hall of Justice (HoJ) has implemented stricter rules to prevent employees from loitering during office hours.

Judge Antonio Natino, Regional Trial Court executive judge, issued a memorandum enforcing the gate pass rules on court, prosecution and probation employees of the HoJ.

The memorandum, which took effect September 7, requires employees to present gate passes to HoJ security guards before getting out of the building.

The gate passes must bear the approval of the heads of offices before an employee can get out of the building.

Aside from the RTC and the Municipal Trial Court in the Cities (MTCC), the HoJ houses the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office (RSP), Iloilo City and Provincial Prosecutors Office, Public Attorneys Office (PAO) and Pardons and Parole Office.

The RTC memorandum also mandates HoJ employees to wear proper uniform and ID cards inside the building.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo, Natino said the purpose of the gate pass policy is to make sure that employees don’t loiter during office hours.

It has been observed that some HoJ workers go out of their offices during working hours to do extracurricular activities.

On the part of the courts, gate passes are limited to process servers and sheriffs with assignments outside of the HoJ.

Also, private individuals with official business at the HoJ such as hearings and filing of cases are required to wear shoes and decent clothes. Short pants, slippers and sleeveless clothes are banned from the building premises.

Natino said they allotted shoes, pants and blazers for private persons who are not wearing the proper attire when entering the HoJ.

The office uniform rule seeks to implement decency and formality among HoJ workers, Natino added.

But some prosecutors who asked not to be quoted said the gate pass policy is “paranoid” and overlaps the functions of other offices.

The complaining prosecutors said the prosecution, pardons and parole office and PAO are under the Department of Justice (DoJ), not the RTC or Supreme Court.

The prosecutors said the DoJ should be the proper office to issue rules regarding the conduct of employees under its attached agencies, not the RTC executive judge.

“DoJ officials at the Hall of Justice are being treated like lowly subordinates,” said a prosecutor who sought anonymity.

Natino said the purpose of the new policy is to maintain peace and security and decency in the HoJ.

September 2009

Blog Stats

  • 235,494 hits

Top Clicks

  • None

Flickr Photos