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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A GROUP is gathering signatures for a petition that seeks to prod Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to run for congressman in the 2010 elections.

The signature campaign started September 4, according to a member of the group who sought anonymity for the meantime.

According to the source, they circulated 12 signature folders to each of the 180 barangays in the city. Each folder contains a piece of paper with the heading “Uswag Iloilo! Jerry P. Treñas Congressman Movement.”

The main petition body has the heading “A Petition Urging Mayor Jerry P. Treñas to run for Congressman. The Next Big Thing.”

Each piece of paper can accommodate 60 signatories, which mean each folder can contain a maximum of 180 signatories.

The group expects to gather 5,000 to 10,000 signatures. So far, they have gathered 2,000 signatures even as they eye to reach their target signatures by first week of October.

The source said they circulated the petition forms to common residents, not the barangay officials who are identified with the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr.

Gonzalez’s son and namesake, Raul Jr., still has one three-year term left which he intends to pursue in next year’s elections.

Treñas will graduate as city mayor next year, fueling speculations that he might turn against his political allies.

The Gonzalezes and Treñas belong to the Lakas party.

According to the source, one folder was intercepted by a barangay official, prompting the group to circulate another petition form.

The group said they initiated the signature campaign to convince Treñas to make up his mind and continue his work in the city as congressman.

“When all the folders are filled with signatures, we will submit them to Mayor Treñas to help him decide. Maybe this is the spark that will set his political plans in motion,” the source said.

The group also adopted the popular dance hit “Nobody but you” to stress their advocacy of pushing Treñas to run for congressman.

“For us, Jerry is better than Raul Jr. as congressman that’s why we are mounting this campaign. Nobody came to us, this is our own initiative,” the source said.

Treñas said he has no knowledge about the signature campaign and disowned any link to the group.

When asked if the signature campaign will force him to decide, Treñas’ reply: “Tan-awon ta (We’ll see.)”

Treñas has been elusive with his political plans next year saying he wants to focus on his work as city mayor.

Treñas even jokingly said he might run for president – of the Parents-Teachers Community Association.

Pundits speculate Treñas might be compelled to run as vice mayor in tandem with Raul Sr. who is eyeing the city mayor’s office.

Gonzalez Sr. said he secured a copy of the Treñas for Congressman petition and revealed that Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog, who is said to be eyeing the mayoral post, is behind the campaign.

“This is a move to sow confusion among the people,” Gonzalez Sr. said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

Gonzalez Sr. said he had a long talk with Treñas over the weekend regarding politics “and we have finalized our plans.” He refused to give details.

Mabilog said Gonzalez Sr. is entitled to his own opinion as regards politics in Iloilo City, adding it is natural for the older Gonzalez to link him to the petition.

Some barangay officials identified with Gonzalez said the group might field a “3J ticket” – Jerry (Treñas) for congressman, Junior (Raul Jr.) for mayor and Joe (Espinosa III) for vice mayor.

Earlier, political pundits said Treñas might ally with Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog who is believed to be eyeing the mayoral post and Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda who is being groomed as city vice mayor – another “3J ticket.”

The proposed creation of the second congressional district in Iloilo City was seen as a form of gerrymandering or the creation of another political division to accommodate Treñas and preserve his alliance with the Gonzalezes.

But the proposed redistricting is considered dead after Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III declared that Iloilo City does not meet the required population requirement for the additional congressional district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POLICE have filed criminal charges against the suspects in the robbery of the remittance center of a bus liner operator in Jaro, Iloilo City early this month.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro PNP chief, said robbery in band charges were filed against 10 suspects who connived to rob the office of Vallacar Transit, operator of the Ceres Bus Line, in Brgy. Buhang, Jaro.

The heavily-armed suspects carted away an estimated P300,000 cash from the Vallacar office last September 7.

But Gabinete did not name the suspects saying only the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office (ICPO) can provide such information.

But the ICPO refused to release copies of the charge sheet to the media.

The Jaro police said they want to surprise the suspects whom they are still hunting, reason why they cannot reveal the culprits’ identities.

Police sources privy with the investigation said the heist was an inside job because the suspects were familiar with the scene of the incident.

The suspects knew the remittance office where conductors remit their earnings for the day. The office also houses a safety vault where the remittances are kept.

The robbers also struck at the time when two of the four security guards were having dinner. They also timed the strike when the bus conductors have remitted their collections.

“The suspects got information about their target from someone who is familiar with the area,” the police sources said.

The investigators also believe that a person with knowledge of police or military operations directed the heist which was over in 5 minutes.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in Iloilo City, are preparing contingencies to avoid power outages during the 2010 elections.

This after Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Angelo Reyes warned last week of nationwide power interruptions next year – a problem that could affect the conduct of the May 2010 automated polls.

Engr. Randy Pastolero, Peco operations manager, said they will finish the construction of a 50MVA power substation in Baldoza, LaPaz.

An electrical substation is a subsidiary station of an electricity generation, transmission and distribution system where voltage is transformed from high to low or the reverse using transformers.

A power substation typically does two or three things:

– It has transformers that step transmission voltages down to distribution voltages;

– It can split the distribution power off in multiple directions.

– It often has circuit breakers and switches so that the substation can be disconnected from the transmission grid or separate distribution lines can be disconnected from the substation when necessary.

The substation also protects the distribution lines from sudden power surges or failures in power plants.

Peco’s new power substation in LaPaz will replace the 15MVA facility which the distribution firm retired recently.

Pastolero said they will also install new feeders around Iloilo City to optimize their distribution system and avoid massive outages. The distribution utility also continues to replace old posts with newer and stronger poles.

The 50MVA substation is also in preparation for the commissioning of the 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) in LaPaz.

The new substation is also in anticipation of Peco’s participation in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

Pastolero said they are concerned with the looming expiration of Peco’s supply contract with the National Power Corp. (NPC) next year which could result in a 15-megawatt power shortage in the city.

Peco currently draws around 8-9MW from NPC plants in the Visayas grid in keeping with an order of the Energy Regulatory Commission to draw part of its power requirements from other sources.

The distribution utility obtains 72MW from Panay Power Corp., which is operated by GBPC. 

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they will install generators in voting precincts which can be used in cases of brownouts.

Jimenez said they also used generators for three days when blackouts hit areas of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao where the first automated polls were held two years ago.

POWER CRISIS

Based on the DoE’s Power Supply and Demand report covering 2008 to 2017, the Philippines is staring at challenges in power supply development.

Sec. Reyes said Visayas and Mindanao have been suffering from rotating brownouts, while Luzon would enter a “critical period” next year.

The Luzon grid has been experiencing transmission congestion problems in North Luzon since 2008.

Luzon needs 3,000 megawatts of power during the 10-year period. However, there are only around 600 MW of committed projects and 3,380 MW of indicative projects so far.

The Visayas sub-grids (Cebu-Negros-Panay-Bohol) are still dependent heavily on the interconnection lines to transmit the power generated from the geothermal plants in Leyte.

The Visayas grid reached critical period last year due to a 500MW deficiency. The grid has a required additional capacity of 500 MW for the years 2008-2017.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman in Western Visayas denied violating the red plate policy it is implementing by allegedly misusing its official car.

The issue on the alleged misuse of the Ombudsman car surfaced when the vehicle was spotted in Cabatuan last September 10. The town was celebrating its annual patronal fiesta on the said date.

Reports surfaced that Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Pelagio Apostol attended the fiesta after leading the strategic planning and assessment of Ombudsman-Western Visayas.

The alleged use of the Ombudsman car to attend the town fiesta is a violation of the red plate policy which mandates that government vehicles should be used for official purposes only.

But in a text message to The Daily Guardian, Ombudsman graft investigator Evangeline Nuñal said they observed proper procedure when Apostol used the office car.

Nuñal said Apostol led the Ombudsman strategic planning in Iloilo City on September 10.

The following day, Apostol was to attend the anniversary celebration of Ombudsman Western Visayas office in Iloilo City. 

Apostol decided to go home to his in-laws in Cabatuan instead of staying in a hotel.

“He normally stays there instead of a hotel. The trip (to Cabatuan) was official and we have properly accomplished the trip ticket which is open to scrutiny by the public,” Nuñal said.

Nuñal said the Ombudsman is not exempt from laws governing the use of government resources.

“We encourage people to report whenever they feel that the law is being violated especially by the Office of the Ombudsman. We always welcome feedbacks from the public.” She added.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman is set to charge five public officials in Western Visayas for alleged misuse of official vehicles.

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