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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas will finally lay down his political agenda in the 2010 elections next week.

In an invitation sent by the City Hall Public Information Office via text message, Treñas will declare his intentions in a press conference 9am of November 3.

The presscon will be held at the Treñas-Rubias Law Offices on the second floor of Golden Commercial Center at Iznart Street, Iloilo City.

The mayor’s political plans have been the subject of debates and discussions in the media and every corner of Iloilo City.

Pundits and analysts said Treñas is “torn between two lovers” because of his alliance with the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and the invitation of Vice Mayor Jed E. Patrick Mabilog to run for congressman. But he may also team up with the group of businessman Larry Jamora who is running for mayor.

Gonzalez, who is running for mayor, said Treñas is still with their group amidst calls for the mayor to run for congressman versus incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr.

Rep. Gonzalez is still eligible to run next year for his last 3-year term.

Sec. Gonzalez is reportedly offering the vice mayoral post to Treñas to avoid a “civil war” in their group.

Mabilog said they invited the mayor to run for the lone congressional seat of the city.

Treñas said Wednesday that he is seeking God’s guidance relative to his decision.

“I will decide on the basis of what is good for the city,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

UNLIKE seasoned politicians, Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said he has no intention to cling to power.

This was Mabilog’s reaction to his critics’ claims that he is also a traditional politician what with his numerous posters and token gestures in assisting Iloilo City residents.

If elected, Mabilog, who is 44 years old, said he will serve as city mayor until he reaches age 50.

“I don’t intend to involve our clan in politics,” he said.

Mabilog said there is nothing wrong if he or his supporters hang his banners around Iloilo City.

“Other seasoned politicians hang bigger banners that say nothing. Some of my banners are meant to inform the public of what are my projects for the city,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog said one of his thrusts is to professionalize the city hall workforce “so we can groom future leaders.”

“I am not here to perpetuate myself in power but to serve and help others serve in the future. I am not a trapo (traditional politician) as others are saying because I don’t make politics my source of livelihood. Our family has no intention to put up a political dynasty. The ultimate indication of traditional politics is perpetuation in power,” he said.

Mabilog said he refuses to engage his critics in mudslinging “because that is also a form of traditional politics.”

“I will just talk about my achievements for the city. I will help in whatever way I can and let the people decide,” he added.

Rep. Gonzalez slams monopolistic pension fund

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GOVERNMENT employees can secede from the Government Service Insurance Service (GSIS) which is under fire for delayed remittance of pensions and other problems.

Iloilo City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said he will help public employees who want to break away from GSIS and form their own insurance group that will cater to their needs.

Gonzalez broached this proposal in his letter to the Iloilo City Council which requested the congressman to initiate a congressional inquiry into the inability of GSIS to serve the needs of its members.

Gonzalez believes that GSIS’ monopolistic nature is the cause of its woes.

“I believe that GSIS is inefficient because it is a monopoly. The long-term solution to this problem is to break up its stranglehold on our civil servants by opening up the market to other players,” Gonzalez said in his letter dated October 13, 2009.

The congressman said the 500,000-strong public school teachers, which is 30% of government employees, can break away from the state pension fund and form their own insurance firm.

“The same is true with our uniformed personnel; if our soldiers and policemen want to secede from GSIS, I would lend them my support,” Gonzalez added.

Gonzalez said he already House Resolution No. 1049 last March 2009 which called for an inquiry on the computerization program of the GSIS and purported “glitch” in its system which resulted in poor service to its members.

The investigation focused on why GSIS’ computer system provided by IBM Corp. crashed which delayed the updating of members’ contributions and the retirees’ pensions.

On May 11, 2009, the resolution was referred to the House committee on government enterprises and privatization chaired by Rep. Felix Alfelor Jr. of Camarines Sur.

Alfelor has conducted several hearings which were attended by GSIS and IBM officials and cause-oriented groups such as Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees.

Gonzalez said the committee has yet to come up with its report on the investigation.

The Iloilo City congressman said GSIS only offered short-term solutions such as fine-tuning its software and resolving the kinks in its computer system.

“During our last hearing, the two parties (GSIS and IBM) pledged to work double-time and gave verbal assurances that the current problems will be solved by December 2009 to January 2010,” Gonzalez said.

Several GSIS members have filed complaints against the state-pension fund for delayed pensions and other problems.

The Visyas Ombudsman also asked the GSIS to explain and resolve the delayed remittance of retirees’ pensions.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A THIRD force has emerged in the May 2010 gubernatorial race in Iloilo province.

Former Leganes mayor Josil Jaen said he is 95% sure to run for governor next year versus Rep. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Mayor Raul “Boboy” Tupas of Barotac Viejo.

Jaen announced his plan in an interview with Novie Guazo of RMN-Iloilo Tuesday evening.

Defensor will run under the ticket of the administration party Lakas-CMD-Kampi while Tupas is the standard-bearer of Liberal Party in the province.

Jaen’s announcement, however, complicates the ruling party’s slate in Iloilo as he will support Defense Sec. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro who is Lakas-CMD-Kampi’s presidential bet.

But the former mayor clarified that his decision to run and support Teodoro does not mean that Lakas distrusts its leaders in the province.

“I just want to support him because I believe that he is qualified to become president,” Jaen said.

Defensor earlier dispelled stories that he will support another presidential bet instead of Teodoro.

“I am with the administration party and I will support our party’s candidate,” Defensor said.

Jaen said they will reveal middle of next month their slate which will include candidates for the House of Representatives, provincial board and town mayors.

A source within Jaen’s group who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak, said they eyeing former Iloilo mayors who served in the early 90s in their ticket.

The same source said they are considering former Sara Mayor Neptali P. Salcedo as their congressional bet in the 5th district.

“But these are just preliminaries as we are still negotiating with possible candidates,” the source said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TO run or not to run?

Two days before he announces his political plans next year, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he continues to consult his family and friends on what to do next.

With his family’s help, Treñas, who is serving his last three-year term, said he is seeking the path God set for him.

He said his friends and supporters are praying that he will make a good political decision which is seen to be a major factor in the 2010 elections in Iloilo City.

Treñas earlier said he will announce his decision on October 31.

Treñas is torn between his alliance with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. and those who cajole him to run for congressman under another party.

If he runs for congressman, Treñas will pit himself against Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. who still has one three-year term left.  

No matter what his decision is, Treñas said he will always help Iloilo City which he loves very much.

But he said he will not impose his style of governance on the next city mayor.

Meanwhile, Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said he will announce his own “dream team” on November 3.

Mabilog, who will run for mayor next year, has offered his group’s congressional slot to Treñas.

Mabilog said their slate is multi-sectoral in nature as it is composed of lawyers, medical professionals, incumbent councilors, media practitioner and members of the cause-oriented groups.

“We want to make sure that our dream team will become the real voice of the people that’s why we selected people from various sectors,” Mabilog said.

With or without Treñas in their slate, Mabilog said they will push through with their slate and plans in the 2010 elections.

“We have an alternative candidate should Mayor Treñas declines our invitation,” he added. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FROM hushed conversations in nightspots to loud deliberations in the provincial board of Aklan, prostitution in Boracay Island has caught the attention of government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs).

The thriving sex trade in the island-resort was revealed during a briefing on the effects of tourism on children in Boracay last week.

The Aklan Provincial Technical Working Group and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committees on laws, health, and women sponsored the briefing.

The End Child Labor Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), an NGO that combats child prostitution, presented a report on the extent of child prostitution.

The ECPAT report – Situational Analysis of the Effects of Tourism on Children in Boracay – claimed that six bars and resorts in Boracay Island are tolerating child prostitution.

ECPAT also said that some of these alleged child prostitutes are residents of the island who are driven to sell their bodies due to poverty.

The study found that the girls frequent nightspots in the island bars and show themselves off to potential clients through sexy or dirty dancing or simply hanging out in the bar.

“While it is a fact that tourism in Boracay has obviously brought in money for the government, it too has its social costs. Boracay attracts not just responsible tourists who compose the majority, but also visitors whose purpose to travel is to exploit and engage in sexual activities involving children. This situation in turn makes other children in Boracay highly at risk due to exposure to the trade,” the ECPAT report said.


Another study on commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Boracay cited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) identified 11 young women and three boys most of whom were actively involved in the sex trade.

Of the 11, five were minors, aged between 14 and 17, at the time of the interview. All 14 of them claimed they were sold by a pimp to a foreign client. All children said their first sexual abuses happened when they were 11-15 years old.

Some 337,666 tourists arrived in Boracay January to May 2009, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

Koreans constitute the largest number of these tourists at 30,369. They are also among the most frequent sex tourist clients based on ECPAT’s interview with child prostitutes.

Other foreign sex tourists come from Japan, France, Germany, England, China and the United States. The study, however, showed that there were also Filipino sex clients and even foreign gay tourists who seek young boys as sexual partners.

The “lady boys” was coined here to refer to prostituted males and boys dressing and acting like girls. The study showed they were more prone to violence and discrimination.

The CSEC victims interviewed claimed that payment for their sexual services vary depending on the time the client wants to spend with them.

On the average, they get P1,500 to as much as P5,000 from 30 minutes to a whole night of service. These alleged child prostitutes identified in the study claimed they have at least one to two customers per night. Peak season in Boracay also spells more customers for the minors.


The ECPAT report prompted government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), DSWD, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to put a rescue mechanism in place in the Island resort.

DOLE 6 Regional Director Aida M. Estabillo directed their provincial office in Aklan to monitor and conduct inspection of establishments that are allegedly tolerating child prostitution.

Estabillo said she directed the Provincial Sagip Batang-Manggagawa Quick Action Team to joint efforts with law enforcement agencies and other entities to rescue child prostitutes in the island.

“This situation needs to be addressed immediately before it balloons and gets out of hand,” she added.

DOLE 6 said it regularly inspects establishments in Boracay but found no information on the existence of child labor. Night operating establishments are yet to be inspected, the agency said.

The PNP also asked help from other stakeholders to help in the campaign against child prostitution.

C/Insp Eugene Rebadomia, Boracay police chief, said they have no facility where children rescued from the sex trade can temporarily stay.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE former village chief accused of being part of the Bukas Kotse gang posted bail for his temporary liberty.

Sergio Dava, former punong barangay of Zaragoza, Bugasong, Antique, posted bail after he was charged with robbery in IS Number VI-10-INV-095-606 dated October 24, 2009.

Dava was arrested October 22 for allegedly robbing the car of Ava Delgado inside the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Dava quit his post as barangay captain for alleged malversation of public funds.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, warned the public to be wary of Dava now that he is out of detention.

“The public, particularly car owners, are advised not to leave valuables inside their parked vehicles such as laptops, cellphones, big amounts of cash and the like as these attract robbers,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said leaflets with tips on “How not to fall victims to Basag Kotse” were distributed to the media and to the public.  

The Bukas Kotse gang has victimized 28 cars since February 2009.

Meanwhile, the LaPaz police headed by S/Insp. Alexander Rosales nabbed one of the most wanted persons in the district.

A team of LaPaz police led by SPO2 Reynaldo Tanchinco arrested the person of Anthony Porto, 34, of Brgy Aguinaldo Monday morning.

Porto has a pending arrest warrant for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

Judge Victor Gelvezon of the Regional Trial Court Branch 36 issued the warrant on Porto.

According to Rosales, Porto is the 5th most wanted person in LaPaz district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MEMBERS of the 6thRegional Mobile Group (RMG) who were dispatched to Jolo, Sulu are heroes, not bad eggs.

This was the reaction of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) to a report in a tabloid (not The Daily Guardian) that the RMG contingent sent to Sulu was composed of cops with “various infractions.”

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, denied the report in a statement Tuesday.

“Most of our contingents were neophyte police. They have just finished their course on Special Counter-Insurgency Operations Unit Training (SCOUT) when the national headquarters directed us to send one company to augment the forces in Mindanao,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said the RMG personnel were sent to Jolo on April 10, 2009 when the Abu Sayyaff Group (ASG) kidnapped three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“They are heroes, not bad eggs,” Cuevas said.

The RMG contingent also formed part of Task Force Bandit in Jolo from April 10 to October 22.

The 75 cops arrived in Iloilo Sunday evening with tears welling in their eyes after their “tough” 6-month assignment in Mindanao.

Police Director Ray Roderos, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas, and Cuevas led the welcome party for the cops.

On Monday, Roderos and Cuevas awarded medals to the RMG contingent for their achievements in Mindanao.

S/Insp. Jerry H. Abrogina, the contingent’s team leader, and four other officers received the Mindanao Campaign Medal and Medalya ng Kasanayan.

The 70 Police Non-Commissioned Officers (PNCOs) got Medalya ng Papuri (PNP Commendation Medal) “for their participation in weakening the Abu Sayyaff Group (ASG) forces which eventually led to the release of the kidnapped ICRC volunteers, destruction of ASG camps in the area, recovery of various firearms  and ammunitions, and confiscation of several motorboats and vehicles used in kidnapping activities.”

Roderos considered the contingents as heroes for their showing of dedication and bravery in risking their lives in the service of the people of Mindanao and of the country.


PRO-6 also recognized the late PO1 Jonel C. Aficionado who died last June 14 while in Sulu.

Aficionado’s wife Lenne Beth received the Medalya ng Papuri.

After Mindanao, the PRO6 contingents will continue its anti-insurgency campaign with the 6RMG in Negros Occidental.

“Most of the contingents have yet to finish the two-year minimum service in the mobile group,” Cuevas explained.

Neophyte police officers, including graduates of Philippine National Police Academy, are required to render duty for at least two years in mobile groups.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Guimaras issued a preliminary injunction against an order of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) banning passenger pumpboats from plying their route when Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 is hoisted.

In a writ of preliminary injunction issued October 21, 2009, Judge Merlyn Deloria of Guimaras RTC Branch 65 ordered the PCG to stop the implementation of Paragraph 6(a) of Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 01-09.

Issued in February 5, 2009, the PCG circular prohibited vessels of 1,000 gross tons or below, such as passenger pumpboats, from sailing when Storm Signal No. 1 is hoisted “within the point of origin or route or point of destination.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Guimaras headed by Atty. John Edward Gando filed a petition for declaratory relief against the PCG policy.

The petitioners claimed that the circular stranded more than 1,000 passengers and affected the economy of the island province when a typhoon struck last June 24-25.

IBP-Guimaras said MC 01-09 also “brazenly violated the due process requirement, right to property, the liberty to travel and equal protection of the law under the Constitution.”

The writ of preliminary injunction also ordered the commander of PCG-Iloilo City station to exercise “sound discretion” if pumpboats can travel despite the storm signal No.1 raised in the departure and destination points.

The RTC also ordered the PCG-Iloilo City station to coordinate with weather bureau PAGASA as regards the forecast position, radius of wind and route of the storm subject of PSWS No. 1.

The PCG must also coordinate with the motor banca association on the responsibility of the crew when sailing during typhoons.

The court, however, required the petitioners to post a P100,000 bond before the writ is enforced.

“The order means that the PCG can allow passenger pumpboats can sail despite a storm signal No. 1 if the sea is clear and the wind is calm. If the weather is very rough despite the absence of a storm signal, the PCG can prohibit boats with 1,000 gross tons or below from plying their route. The PCG is trained on sea navigation thus they are experts in determining the situation,” Gando said in a telephone interview.

Gando said the preliminary injunction will take effect while the court discusses the constitutionality of the PCG memorandum circular which is the main issue raised by IBP-Guimaras in its petition.

“If the court sees that the circular violates our constitutional rights, it can issue an injunction against the MC No. 01-09,” he added.

As regards the P100,000 bond, Gando said he will meet with Guimaras Gov. Felipe Hilan Nava on how to raise cash for the said bond.

Gando said Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, had promised Guimaras Rep. JC Rahman Nava to issue a new memorandum circular that will address the case of the island-resort “but it has yet to be realized.”

“If that circular is issued, we will withdraw the petition as the case will be considered moot and academic,” Gando said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE feud between the mayor and a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Banate, Iloilo, who happen to be first cousins, continue to heat up.

This developed as SB Member Noel Bagsit accused Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his son Peter Paul of threatening the former with pistols Saturday evening.

Bagsit said he and his two companions on board his pick up truck were about to leave the Banate Ecopark behind the municipal hall when Cabangal’s vehicle blocked their path.

Bagsit said Cabangal went out of his car and confronted the former about the cases he filed against the mayor.

Bagsit filed grave threats and grave coercion against the mayor when the latter allegedly smashed the right tail light of the town councilor’s pickup truck.

The councilor said he then heard Cabangal say “Tapuson ta ini (Let’s finish this),” while brandishing a caliber .45 pistol.

Bagsit said he also saw Peter Paul Cabangal holding a pistol during the confrontation.

The argument ended when Cabangal’s family intervened.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Cabangal denied Bagsit’s allegations saying it was the latter who instigated the quarrel.

Cabangal said Bagsit was drunk when he tried to talk with the councilor regarding their conflict. He said he tried to express his feelings to Bagsit about their quarrel since they are cousins.

The mayor said Bagsit moved towards his pickup and retrieved his gun.

Both town officials reported their own versions of the incident to the Banate police.

The falling out between Bagsit and Cabangal started when the former exposed the P11-million unliquidated cash advances of the mayor.

The cash advances were the subject of the annual audit report of the Commission of Audit on Banate’s financial standing.

Bagsit said the rift worsened when he voted against the approval of the P600,000 supplemental budget Cabangal requested from the municipal board.

PDEA warns bizmen on undiluted product

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will crackdown on manufacturers, distributors and retailers who fail to dilute their toluene-based contact cement, popularly known as “rugby.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Paul Ledesma, PDEA regional director, said rugby sans the 5% mustard oil is now classified a dangerous drug.

“This pursuant to Board Regulation No. 6-2007 of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) due to the prevalent use of rugby as one of the top abused drugs in the country. This regulation covers all importers, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and handlers of the adhesive,” Ledesma said.

Toluene is also included in the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

Cheap and available even in sari-sari stores, rugby has toluene which attracts drug users for its aromatic and addictive properties.

The DDB said there are more than 357 contact cement abusers confined in government and private rehabilitation centers nationwide, with the youngest at 9 years old.

Shabu, marijuana and inhalants, particularly contact cement are the top three abused drugs in the country, according to the 2004 National Household Survey and 2007 rehabilitation facility-based studies conducted by the DDB.

The DDB said habitual users of toluene-based contact cement will suffer brain damage, kidney and liver failure, sight and hearing loss, muscle weakness, leukemia, and death.

Mustard oil is a colorless to pale yellow pungent irritating oil that is obtained by distillation from the seeds, usually of black mustard, after expression of the fatty oil and maceration with water, or through chemical synthesis. It consists largely of allyl isothiocyanate, a volatile compound with a characteristic of pungent odor capable of inducing eye tears

Ledesma said mustard oil dampens toluene’s attractive smell making the contact cement pungent and less desirable to abusers.

“The 5% mustard oil will discourage rugby users from sniffing the contact cement and similar products,” Ledesma said.

The DDB regulation said “the obnoxious odor of the contact cement with at least 5% mustard oil shall be present and maintained from the time of manufacture or importation of the product until the same is utilized by the end-user, and/or the volatility of the mustard oil shall be less than that of the toluene content of the product.”

Ledesma said they will begin the crackdown after they observed that some hardware stores are still selling undiluted rugby.

Atty. Ronnie Delicana, PDEA-6 legal officer, said PDEA can conduct test buys on stores suspected of selling undiluted rugby.

Under the DDB regulation, all contact cement manufacturers who want to be exempted must secure a permit from PDEA.

Manufactures who will violate the regulation will be charged with violations of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) which has penalties ranging from life imprisonment to death, and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

The regulation also orders manufacturers to place the 5% mustard oil additive on product labels, cartons and containers.

“We will be conducting random checks on hardware stores and other establishments selling toluene-based contact cement to find out if they are following the law. Anyway, we have informed them of the new regulation the past two years,” Ledesma said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THERE is no need to increase taxes to gain financial independence and implement projects, according to a mayoralty hopeful in Iloilo City.

Presidential adviser on water Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora said he will improve tax collection in the city to fund projects that will solve prevalent problems in the city such as bad roads and clogged drainage.

Jamora, a former administrator of Local Water Utilities Administration, said other urban centers such as Quezon City were able to jack up their revenues by improving their collections.

“We don’t need to increase taxes, we just have to improve collection efficiency. There is a need to look at how much we spend to collect P1 tax. If we are spending P5 for every P1 tax, then we are at a losing proposition,” Jamora said.

Jamora said he will also adopt “financial engineering” by offering more incentives to investors such as business processes outsourcing (BPO) firms.

He said incentives will entice investors to set up business in Iloilo City and generate jobs and increase the purchasing power of Ilonggos.

As regards the high cost of power and water shortage, Jamora said tax incentives will lessen the burden of investors who have to pay more for utilities.

Public markets managed by the city can be improved and generate more income through the build-operate-transfer scheme or public-private partnership, Jamora said.

“If we partner with the private sector, the city government will not spend a dime to improve our markets. We will even earn more from the market rentals,” he added.

Jamora will also bat for the revival of the Villa Beach area by reclaiming part of the sea and construction of a coastal road.

He said the projects can be implemented via public-private partnership to ease the City Government of possible financial burden.

“There is also no need to relocate the squatters in the Villa Beach area if we put up a coastal road and revive the beach. We have to reclaim the beach because we are depriving our children of a popular tourist spot that was very popular before,” he added.

On garbage disposal, Jamora said there is a need to close down the Calajunan dumpsite and put up a landfill outside the city.

“The trend nowadays is to find local government units that are willing to host landfills as these could generate income on their part,” he said.

Jamora said the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance (PBO) failed to loosen traffic congestion in Iloilo City. Instead, he proposed a selective color coding scheme to regulate the number of vehicles in the city.

“We can give window time to the color coding scheme by allowing private cars to go out on certain time of the day,” he said.

As regards his political party, Jamora said he can run as an independent if complications arise from his membership in the administration group.

Jamora is a member of Kapatiran ng Mamayang Pilipino which is in alliance with Lakas-CMD where Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. is also a member.

Gonzalez will also run for city mayor.

“I have talked to Sec. Gonzalez about this. He said the matter will be referred to the arbitration committee to settle the issue. Whatever is the result, I will still run even as an independent,” Jamora said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. may be liable to pay penalties to the Iloilo City government for constructing a house worth P3.5 million sans necessary permits.

Engr. Jose Tenco of the Iloilo City Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals said Tupas will be fined P5,000 for failure to secure locational clearance for the 2-story residential building being constructed beside his mansion at MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Based on a copy of Tupas’ application for locational clearance, the residential building has a total project cost of P3,540,154.50. It is constructed on a 320-square meter lot inside the governor’s compound in Jaro.

Tupas admitted over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that the construction of the 2-story building has already begun for more than a week. He also said that they only submitted the application for locational clearance last October 19.

Tenco said they investigated the project site and found out that the construction has begun sans the locational and building permit.

The locational clearance is a pre-requisite to the building permit which must be secured from the Iloilo City Engineer’s Office (CEO).

Tenco said that aside from paying fines to the zoning board, CEO can also fine Tupas.

The CEO can also order Tupas to stop the construction until he has secured the necessary permits. Worse, the city government can file charges against the governor for violating the building code and relative local ordinances.

Incidentally, Tupas youngest son, Nielex Tupas is an Iloilo City councilor.

The new house being constructed in the Tupas compound was the subject of an investigative report by The Daily Guardian’s photojournalist Tara Yap.

Yap went to MV Hechanova to verify the information and take pictures of the construction project.

But caretakers of the Tupas mansion accosted Yap before she could take pictures and confiscated her camera, cellphones and bag.

The caretakers also detained Yap inside the Tupas mansion for more than 20 minutes.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR suspects armed with pistols snatched more or less P80,000 cash from a construction firm in Mandurriao, Iloilo Friday afternoon.

Personnel of JJM Builders at Brgy. Hibao-an Sur, Mandurriao were preparing the payroll for their employees when they noticed a motorcycle stop in front of their office past 4pm.

Jude Landar, JJM administrative officer, said he locked the office’s front door as he was suspicious of the motorcycle.

But he was surprised when the three persons entered the backdoor and ordered them to give their money.

When Landar looked at the direction of the men, he was already staring at the barrel of a caliber .45 pistol.

Landar said the suspects then went to his officemate who was counting the payroll money and grabbed the cash.

The suspects also took Landar’s P3,000 personal money and cellphone.

A fourth suspect, possibly the lookout, entered the office and told the other suspects to flee.

They boarded two motorcycles towards the town of Pavia.

Landar said the two of the suspects wore bandanas around their head while another was wearing a jacket.

The suspects were between 30-40 years old.

The robbery happened a day after C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo assumed the helm of the Mandurriao police station.

The Iloilo City Police Office reshuffled the chiefs of city police precincts following the rash of bukas kotse and robbery incidents.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A FORMER village chief in Antique resigned from his post and ended up as a car thief.

Sergio Dava, 31, ex-punong barangay of Zaragoza, Bugasong in Antique, was arrested Thursday evening by security guards of the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Dava was caught entering a room at the 3rd Floor of the Nursing Building of the said university which is hosting the 14th University Games.

According to the Jaro police station, Dava is believed to be behind 10 cases of thefts in the said university.

Dava’s latest victim was Ava Delgado, 49, of Brgy Dungon A Jaro, Iloilo City who lost her valuables inside her cars.

The police recovered from Dava’s possession assorted credit and ATM cards and the wallet owned by Delgado.

Also recovered from Dava were bank and identification cards of a certain Mannin F. Cordero.

Dava said he quit as punong barangay of Zaragoza, Bugasong in Antique for alleged malversation of funds.

Dava said he was forced to steal to pay for pension houses and hotels in Iloilo City where he is staying.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro police chief, led follow-up operation in four pension houses where Dava stayed.

Gabinete said they recovered more personal belongings owned by Dava’s victims.

The Jaro police believe that Dava is a member of the notorious Bukas Kotse gang operating in Iloilo City.

But Dava said he is not a member of any criminal gang preying on cars. He said he only picks the lock of cars, unlike the Bukas Kotse gang which smashes car windows to carry out the heist.

Dava is presently detained at the Jaro police station.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARE car robbers smarter than Iloilo City cops?

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said members of the Bukas Kotse Gang study their tactics reason why they elude arrest.

Cuevas said the gang, which is responsible for 28 car heists in the last eight months, does it homework and are always a step ahead of the police.

Cuevas said the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) should also adopt the same attitude to finally neutralize the group.

Cuevas has directed the ICPO to double its efforts against the Basag Kotse syndicate by gathering more intelligence information and pinpoint the identities of the suspects.

The PRO-6 also wants city cops to observe the 7-9-7 duty scheme instead of the three-day work, two-day off system.

The duty scheme, which Cuevas implemented in 2008, requires policemen in a station to render duties in three rotating shifts. The first shift starts at 7am to 5pm while second shift starts 9am to 7pm. The last shift is from 7pm until 7am of the following day.

Cuevas said the scheme ensures that policemen are present at the station and their assigned posts.

The ICPO cracked the whip on its personnel by reshuffling the chiefs of three police precincts starting Thursday.

After more than two years, C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo was transferred from the Iloilo City Proper police station to Mandurriao district.

C/Insp. Elizer Baclagon was moved from Mandurriao PNP to Arevalo district while C/Insp. Federico Silvestre III took over the Iloilo City proper police station.

The chiefs of police in Jaro, LaPaz and Molo will remain in their posts for the meantime.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, gave an ultimatum to the Jaro and Iloilo City police stations to crack the three basag kotse incidents that happened last October 12-13, 2009.

Mongcal said they also organized the Task Group on Anti Theft and Robbery composed of Intelligence and Investigation and Detective Management Section (IDMS) personnel of ICPO.

The task group will focus on the gang and other robbery incidents in the city.

The ICPO also sought help from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to track down the gang members.

Mongcal said they have noticed that suspects transfer to Bacolod City after operating in Iloilo.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MALACAÑANG continues to intervene in Iloilo City politics by trying to strike a compromise between Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. who is running for mayor in 2010.

Sources both from the Gonzalez and Treñas groups claimed that President Gloria Arroyo convened the two leaders to a meeting at the Palace Thursday.

Apparently, the administration is trying to maintain its foothold in Iloilo City by keeping Gonzalez and Treñas in the same group.

Treñas, who is serving his final three-year term as mayor, is being cajoled by the Jerry P. Treñas for Congressman Movement to vie for the lone district of Iloilo City. The movement submitted to Treñas last Tuesday some 10,000 signatures of persons who claim they support the mayor’s candidacy for congressman.

Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., the son of Sec. Gonzalez, still has one term left.

Rep. Gonzalez said he intends to finish his term.

A punong barangay identified with Gonzalez confirmed the Malacañang meeting but refused to give details.

In a text message to The Daily Guardian, Treñas denied the Malacañang meeting with Sec. Gonzalez. But he refused to divulge the purpose of his trip to Metro Manila.

“Secret,” the mayor said in his text message.

A likely compromise is for Treñas to run for vice mayor alongside Sec. Gonzalez so that Rep. Gonzalez can finish his term.

Another scenario is for Rep. Gonzalez to slide to the mayoralty post and give way to Treñas.

The second option surfaced when President Arroyo spent a night in Iloilo during her visit to Iloilo last September 24-25. The President reportedly met the two political leaders to discuss their ticket next year.

Treñas earlier said he will go on vacation next week to reflect on his political plans next year.

“I am agonizing over this,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RESIDENTS of more than 40 houses damaged by a tornado in Pototan, Iloilo the other day are appealing for help from the local government and private sector.

Reports from the Iloilo Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) said the twister destroyed 44 houses in Barangay Pajo in Pototan, Iloilo 3:30pm Wednesday.

A total of 16 houses were totally destroyed while 28 were partially damaged.

The tornado, which struck for 20 minutes, also destroyed electric distribution lines, streetlights and farms.

Two minors were among those injured during the twister attack.

According to radio reports, the residents heard a whirring sound before the tornado struck. They were surprised when the roofs of their houses were dismantled by an invisible force.

Jerry Bionat, executive officer of the PDCC, said tornadoes have occurred in the towns of Pototan, Leganes and Estancia before.

“These areas are prone to tornado strikes,” he added.

Pototan town officials are verifying the number of residents affected by the twister before declaring the area a state of calamity and provide aid to the victims.

Weather bureau PAGASA observed the spiking number of tornadoes in the country due to easy communication and reporting of the incidents.

PAGASA also observed that tornadoes that struck the country had intensities of F1 and F2 on the Fujita scale which is used to rate the intensity of a tornado by examining the damage it causes after passing over man-made structures.

F1 is a “moderate tornado” with wind speeds reaching between 117 and 180 kilometers per hour. This means the tornado can peel the surface off roofs and push cars off roads.

F2 means it is a “significant tornado” with wind speeds reaching from 181 to 252 kilometers per hour. This means it can tear off roofs from house frames, snap or uproot large trees and generate light objects as missiles.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory, a division under the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said tornadoes usually accompany tropical cyclones.

Before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed produce a horizontal spinning column of air in the lower atmosphere.

When the thunderstorm comes, rising air within the system tilts the rotating air from a horizontal to a vertical position, forming a tornado.

PAGASA describes tornadoes as “small weather systems,” which could be unpredictable and could form and vanish quickly. They can also be accompanied by lightning, thunder and hale.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Audit (COA) stopped three fund releases of the executive department of the Iloilo provincial government for lack of approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and other requirements.

These releases involved financial aids to a group of non-government organizations (NGOs) and two multipurpose cooperatives in Iloilo.

The audit body was able to sift out the questionable releases because of the pre-auditing procedure conducted on all provincial capitol transactions.

In a letter to Governor Niel Tupas Sr., Haydee O. Pasuelo, COA state auditor 4 based in Iloilo, returned Disbursement Voucher No. 100-09-09-12615 dated August 15, 2009 for the release of P500,000 to the Iloilo Coalition of Non-Government Organizations and Peoples’ Organizations (ICON).

Pasuelo said in her September 16, 2009 letter that the disbursement papers released by the Office of the Governor bore the following violations and deficiencies:

–         lack of proof that the project to be implemented by the NGO/PO is made public via newspapers, agency websites, bulletin boards and the like, at least three months prior to the target date of commencement of the identified projects;

–         non-submission of accreditation of the NGO/PO as project partners by the GO through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), or a committee created for the purpose;

–         non-submission of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA);

–         Lack of proof that the NGO/PO have complied with the equity requirement equivalent to 20% of the total project cost, which may be in the form of labor, land for project site, facilities, equipment and the like, to be used in the project.

Despite the COA advice, the Office of the Governor tried to release a total of P600,000 to two multipurpose cooperatives based in the towns of Banate and San Enrique, Iloilo.

A total of P400,000 loan was to be released to the De La Paz Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Brgy. De La Paz, Banate.

The governor also tried to release another P200,000 loan to the District of San Enrique Public School Teachers and Non-Teachers Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

But Pasuelo said the financial aids were defective as these were not concurred by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as prescribed by Section 36 of the Local Government Code.

NGOs/POs that seek funding assistance from local governments must first submit several documents as embodied in COA Circular No. 2007-001 before they can receive money from the capitol.

Some of these requisite documents include certificates of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cooperative Development Authority and Department of Labor and Employment; authenticated copy of the latest Articles of Incorporation or articles of cooperation; financial report audited by and independent certified public accountant.

In a letter dated October 7, 2009, Tupas sought authority from the SP to enter into loan contracts with seven cooperatives that want to borrow a total of P1.5 million.

Among the seven cooperatives were the cooperatives in Banate and San Enrique whose disbursement vouchers were nixed by COA.

Tupas’ letter was included in the agenda of SP’s regular session Tuesday and has been referred to the committee on appropriations.

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they will strictly scrutinize the standing of the cooperatives.

Suplico said they will determine if the cooperatives satisfied the documentary requirements set by COA.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHAT path will the bearded Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas follow as the 2010 elections get near?

Treñas said he will take time off starting next week to reflect on his political.

Treñas broached his plan for a retreat after receiving more than 10,000 signatures from the Jerry Treñas for Congressman Movement (JTCM) the other day.

“I will go on vacation starting next week so I can think things over,” he said.

Rudy Eslita, JTCM convenor, submitted Tuesday to Treñas’ office the folders containing the signatures of individuals who urged the mayor to run for congressman.

Treñas, who earlier told the media he will announce his plans on October 31, said the gestures of the movement will be a big factor in any decision he will make.

Treñas is in a bind as he stands to break up from the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. should he run for the lone congressional seat of Iloilo.

Gonzalez’s son and namesake, Raul Jr., is still eligible to run for congressman in 2010.

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who has already declared his candidacy for mayor next year, has invited Treñas to join his group and run for congressman.

Mabilog’s declaration to run for city mayor was the first crack to surface in the Gonzalez-Treñas bloc.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta last Sunday, Mabilog said the rift began when a certain person who also eyed the vice mayor’s office entered Gonzalez’s group.

“Since then, that person began to spread rumors about my sexuality, my wealth and other nasty stories. I did not instigate the friction. It was the Gonzalez group who distanced from me,” Mabilog said.

Meanwhile, a village chief in Iloilo City said they are hopeful that the Gonzalez-Treñas group will remain intact.

Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia of Brgy. San Agustin, Iloilo City Proper said there is 60% chance that Rep. Gonzalez Jr. will give way to Treñas and will run for mayor instead.

The group’s vice mayor could be Gonzalez Sr. or Iloilo City Councilor Jose “Joe” Espinosa III.

“Mayor Treñas and Sec. Gonzalez are still talking about their plans next year. We will wait for the outcome of their conversation.” Divinagracia said.

But if Treñas runs against Rep. Gonzalez, Divinagracia said he will just sit down at his home and watch TV.

“I will not campaign for any of them if they run against each other. They are both my idols,” Divinagracia said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE executive department of the Iloilo provincial government is proposing to spend more than P1 billion next year.

In an endorsement letter dated October 15, 2009 sent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Office of the Governor pegged the executive budget for 2010 at P1.3 billion.

A total of P1,375,221,778.55 was set aside for the province’s Annual Investment Program (AIP) next year which will be funded from the 20% Internal Revenue Allocation Development Fund, general fund and other funding sources of the province.

The AIP serves as the blueprint for the programs and projects of the provincial government. It mainly covers five sectors: general public services, social services, economic services, institutional services and other services such as infrastructures.

Based on the breakdown furnished by the executive department, a total of P590,683,429 was allocated for personal services which includes salaries and other benefits of provincial capitol workers.

A total of P342,103,262 was set aside from monthly operating and other expenses while P30.065 million was allocated for capital outlay.

Some P230,098,570 was allocated for the 20% development projects while aids to barangays amounted to P1.721 million.

A total of P20 million will be set aside for loan amortization and P65 million for the 5% calamity fund.

The budget for election reserve is pegged at P3 million while the allocation for terminal pays amounted to P17,328,739.

The 2010 budget has been referred to the committee on appropriations for deliberations.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex Suplico on Tuesday condemned the harassment of The Daily Guardian’s photojournalist at the multi-million peso mansion of Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. Friday last week.

In a privilege speech delivered during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s regular session, Suplico said the caretakers of Tupas mocked Tara Yap’s rights under the 1987 Constitution after they forced her out of a taxi, snatched her personal belongings and detained her inside the mansion for more than 20 minutes.

The Daily Guardian dispatched Yap to verify reports that a new structure is being constructed inside the compound of Tupas’ mansion.

She was also instructed to take pictures of the compound to serve as visuals for a series of reports on the lifestyle of public officials.

Yap was about to leave the area when she did not see any activity inside the compound.

But caretakers under the employ of the Tupas household barred Yap’s taxi from leaving and ordered her to alight from the vehicle.

The caretakers also confiscated Yap’s personal belongings even if she identified herself as a member of the media.

They also ordered Yap to go inside Tupas’ mansion where she was held against her will for more than 20 minutes.

Suplico said Tupas’ caretakers are liable for the crime of kidnapping when they harassed and detained Yap.

The vice governor also likened the incident to areas where journalists are killed.

“What gets the gall is the fact that the victim was no other than a journalist. I thought that these can happen only in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq or some country where there is complete breakdown of peace and order. But this cannot happen here in peaceful and laidback Iloilo, the home of Graciano Lopez Jaena, the founder of the La Solidaridad. Our revolutionary hero from Jaro District must be turning over in his grave,” Suplico said.

Suplico also asked the Sanggunian to pass a resolution condemning Yap’s harassment at Tupas’ mansion.

The proposed resolution will be deliberated in the SP’s regular session next week.

Award-winning photojournalist Joe Torres Jr. said Tupas should discipline his employees for harassing Yap.

In his blog, Torres said Yap’s harassment is a cause for alarm.

“It is alarming that a politician would resort to harassing a photojournalist, even detaining her against her will, confiscating her personal belongings and even suing her for doing her job,” Torres said.

Torres said the act of Tupas’ caretakers “was pure and simple harassment and a violation not only of Yap’s rights but of press freedom.”

“With the elections coming, politicians seemed to have this penchant of harassing media practitioners who are out to expose possible irregularities. Media groups like the National Press Club and the PCP should not stop by just condemning the incident. Appropriate charges should also be filed against the men of Tupas. To Governor Tupas, you should look into this incident and start disciplining your men and tell them to just keep off their hands from the media,” Torres said.

Torres is a Manila-based journalist and a two-time recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Journalism for his books “Unholy Nation: Stories from a Gambling Republic” (2004) and “Into the Mountain: Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf” (2002).

Joe was conferred the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowships for Professional Development by the Benigno Aquino Foundation and the US Embassy in Manila in 2005. He was also a fellow at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines-Iloilo said the confiscation of Yap’s personal belongings was uncalled for as she already identified herself as a photojournalist.

“Even law enforcers cannot do this except with the necessary search warrants or when they have enough proof to investigate or apprehend a person,” the group said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A CONSORTIUM of electric cooperatives in Panay Island will begin negotiations with an independent power producer to purchase electricity from a 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant based in Iloilo City.

The negotiation kicked off with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Panay Power Supply Consortium (PPSC) and Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC).

PEDC, a subsidiary of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) under the Metrobank group, will operate the coal-fired power plant being constructed at Brgy. Ingore in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

The PPSC is composed of Aklan Electric Cooperative, Antique Electric Cooperative, Capiz Electric Cooperative and Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (Ileco) 1, 2 and 3.

The negotiation is seen to culminate in a 25-year electric power purchase agreement (EPPA) between PEDC and PPSC member cooperatives.

Adrian Moncada, GBPC assistant vice president for commercial operations, said once they have concluded the negotiations, the EPPA will be submitted to the Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.

The PPSC was conceptualized in 2008 to address the worsening electricity shortage in Panay.

The looming expiration of the cooperatives’ power supply contracts with the National Power Corp., which is presently being privatized, in 2010 also prompted PPSC to look for potential suppliers.

The coal-fired power plant is expected to be operational in the last quarter of 2010. It is composed of two units each with a capacity to generate 82MW. The plant has a net production of 144MW

Engr. Wilfred Billena, Ileco 1 general manager and PPSC president, said they bidded out a total of 72MW for their power requirements starting 2011.

A total of 36MW was awarded to two renewable energy companies – Global Green Power and Asea One – while the remaining 36MW was awarded to GBPC.

GBPC has set aside 72MW, or 75% of the coal-fired power plant’s net generation for Iloilo City’s electricity needs.

The remaining 36MW of the coal plant will be allocated to 5 electric cooperatives in Negros Occidental and Oriental.

Engr. Gil Altamira, GBPC commercial operations manager, said their price per kilowatt-hour will be lower than the ERC-approved rate of P4.30/kWh in the EPPA between Central Negros Cooperative (Ceneco) and Korean Electric Power Corp., (Kepco) which will also operate a coal-fired power plant in Cebu.

“We will try to reduce our price from that of the Ceneco-Kepco deal. The advantage of the GBPC-PEDC plant is that it is embedded in Panay Island which could save us from additional transmission cost,” Altamira said.

Billena said their contract with GBPC and other suppliers might not be enough because of their unpredictable consumer growth.

“Our consumption is pegged at 30MW but sometimes we are surprised because we hit 32MW on certain days. The supply instability in the Visayas grid makes it hard for us to predict our growth. When these new capacities operate, we expect our connections to increase. Apparently, the supply that we are about to contract might not be enough,” Billena said.

Billena said an embedded power plant in Panay is advantageous compared to sources outside the island because it is “more stable and cooperatives here will be given priority.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE head of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the Iloilo provincial capitol denied any irregularity in the purchase of two hematology analyzers worth P2.9 million each for two district hospitals.

Atty. Salvador Cabaluna III, provincial legal officer and BAC chair, said the two analyzers supplied by Crestline Scientific Corp. conformed with the specifications in the request of the two hospitals.

The heads of Federico Roman Tirador Sr. Memorial District Hospital (FRTMDH) and Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) refused to accept the two hematology analyzers as it did not follow the purchase orders aside from being defective. 

Drs. Noel Roy Gigare, FRTMDH head, and Levi Osea, RTMDH chief, said the machines lack vital components and produced unreliable and erroneous results.

Cabaluna said the BAC’s technical working group found out that Crestline’s machines followed what the two hospitals requested.

“The concerns of the two hospital chiefs were addressed during a meeting with the technical working group. The advantages of the machines were also discussed with them,” Cabaluna said.

Cabaluna said they will also submit their findings and justifications to the Commission on Audit (COA) which has been inquiring into the transaction.

Cabaluna said he will provide a copy of the letter once it is finalized and submitted to COA.

The purchase of the two hematology analyzers is part of the 2008 Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) which has a total funding of P33 million.

Cabaluna said the machines have no defects “and these were explained to the two hospital chiefs.”

Cabaluna said they cannot exclude Crestline from the transaction because it passed the BAC evaluation aside from offering the lowest bid.

“We cannot skirt around the procurement laws, especially if the supplier is qualified and offered the lowest bid. If the lowest bidder failed to satisfy the requirements, then we can consider the next lowest bidder,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE photojournalist of The Daily Guardian is mulling criminal raps against the household of Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. for detaining her and confiscating her personal belongings Friday afternoon.

Tara Yap said she was detained for more than 20 minutes inside the luxurious compound of Tupas in MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Yap was on assignment to verify reports that another structure was being constructed inside the compound.

She was also instructed to take pictures of the mansion and new structure as part of the investigative report on lifestyles of public officials.

Yap took a taxi to the Tupas mansion bringing along her camera and personal items.

When they were some 150 feet away from the gate of the Tupas mansion, Yap said she did not notice any activity, thus she decided to leave.

She told the driver to go back and leave but a long-haired man dashed towards the taxi. The man knocked on the taxi’s window, opened the door on the right passenger’s side and ordered the driver not to leave.

Yap said she identified herself as member of The Daily Guardian by showing her ID card.

Then another man came over the taxi and ordered Yap to hand over her digital camera (Canon 350D) which she laid on the taxi seat.

The long-haired person who first accosted Yap then grabbed and searched her bag. Both men accused Yap of taking videos of the Tupas mansion.

Yap told the two men that she did not take any video or photograph and even showed the files in her camera to prove her point.

Yap said the long-haired man made a call in his cellphone and later gave his cellphone to Yap saying that Nielette “Tweety” Tupas-Balleza wanted to talk her.

Yap said Balleza, the only daughter of Gov. Tupas, accused her as the person who took videos and photographs of government-owned heavy equipment seen working in the governor’s house in Banate town.

But Yap repeatedly denied Balleza’s accusation.

After her conversation with Balleza, the long-haired man seized Yap’s two cellphones, Blackberry 8700 and Nokia 3310, and told her to go inside the governor’s mansion.

Yap stayed inside the compound where she noticed several men working on a new structure right beside the Tupas mansion.

Yap was later released after talking to Atty. Joenar Pueblo of the Provincial Legal office over the cell phone.

Yap said Pueblo acknowledged that her presence there was part of her work as a journalist.

“Atty. Pueblo told me to tell the men who accosted me that I was just doing my job as a media practitioner,” Yap said.

The two men later returned Yap’s belongings and released her from detention.

But she was later surprised when she learned that a certain Rey Balleza De Ramas, 33, a caretaker at the Tupas mansion, went to the Jaro PNP station and reported her presence at the mansion.

De Ramas alleged in the blotter report that Yap committed unjust vexation and violated Tupas’ privacy by taking pictures of the mansion sans their permission.

Yap said the incident caused in her fear, anxiety, prejudice, and violation of her human rights, reason why she is mulling criminal raps against Tupas and his caretaker.

As regards the Banate video and photographs, these were handed to The Daily Guardian by a source who took the said materials several months ago.

Yap went to Banate last month to verify the existence of Tupas’ house in Banate. She only took pictures of the finished house but these were never published.

Yap said her Canon digital camera can only take still photographs and has no capability to take videos.


The Tupas camp accused Yap of being a spy for another politician.

“I was illegally detained.  I did not commit any crime,” Yap said

Yap said she never resisted the orders of Tupas’ male caretakers. She said she could have been physically hurt if she resisted.

The Tupas camp alleged that Yap is a spy and in the payroll of 4th district Rep. Ferjenel Biron.

“I was never paid and I am not a spy.  Besides, a journalist cannot masquerade as a spy. I have an integrity to maintain,” she added.

Yap is also a correspondent of Manila Bulletin and international news wire service Agence France-Presse (AFP).

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHAT’S wrong with taking photographs of a public official’s property?

A legal luminary and former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said Tara Yap, photojournalist of The Daily Guardian, did not violate any law when she went near  the mansion of Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. in MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Atty. Hans Sayno said Yap did not violate Tupas’ privacy as she was outside the governor’s multimillion peso mansion while working on an investigative report assignment.

The Daily Guardian assigned Yap to check reports that a new structure was being constructed beside Tupas’ mansion. The building is believed to be the house of Nielette “Tweety” Tupas-Balleza, the governor’s only daughter, who works as an executive assistant at the Office of the Governor.

Sayno said the Constitution guarantees the people’s right to information, particularly the conduct and lifestyle of public officials and employees such as Gov. Tupas and Tupas-Balleza.

Sayno said if Yap took pictures of the Tupas residence outside its gates, “I don’t think she violated the privacy of the household.”

“Taking pictures of a house is just like looking at the building. In the case of a camera, the image is registered in the memory chip of the instrument. There is nothing wrong if you take pictures of a house, especially that of a public official,” Sayno said over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

Sayno said the extent of the right to privacy of a public official is less compared to a private individual.

“The penumbra of a public official’s right to privacy is lower than that of a private person. Public officials should expect public scrutiny of their lifestyle and conduct. In the case of Tara Yap, she is a media practitioner and the Constitution guarantees her right to expression and press freedom,” Sayno said.

Sayno said Yap could have intruded the governor’s privacy if she went inside parts of the house which are normally not considered public.

“If Ms. Yap went to the bathroom of Gov. Tupas’ house and took pictures of his toothbrush and how he brushes his teeth, there might have been invasion of property. But if she was situated outside the house, she did not intrude the privacy of the house,” he added.

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, legal counsel of The Daily Guardian, said Yap was working as a journalist when she went to the vicinity of Tupas’ mansion.

Ventilacion said public officials are subject to scrutiny, particularly their lifestyle, and must allow the public to look into their wealth as mandated by Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

RA 6713 also mandates that “public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.”

Ventilacion said the acts of Tupas’ caretakers to grab Yap’s belongings and bring her inside the mansion against her will can be considered theft and illegal detention.

“If you restrain a person in a certain area against her will, that is illegal detention. If you grab her personal things without her permission, that is theft,” said Ventilacion who is a member of the IBP board of directors.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO district hospitals refused to accept two units of blood sample analyzers for reasons that the purchased equipments did not match the requirements in the purchase request.

The managements of the Federico Roman Tirador Sr. Memorial District Hospital (FRTMDH) and Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) said the hematology analyzers bought by the provincial capitol lack necessary components and are unreliable.

The two hematology analyzers were supplied by Crestline Scientific Corp. as part of the 2008 Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) which has a total funding of P33 million.

The HFEP is meant to upgrade hospital equipments in the province and is funded out of the Department of Health budget.

The hematology analyzers are used to examine blood samples.

Based on the purchase orders, each machine costs more or less P2.9 million.

The machines were delivered in September to FRTMDH and RTMDH but the chiefs of the two hospitals refused to accept the analyzers.

Drs. Noel Roy Gigare, FRTMDH head, and Levi Osea, RTMDH chief, sent letters to the Bids and Awards Committee headed by Atty. Salvador Cabaluna III why they cannot accept the machines.

The two hospital officials said the hematology analyzers delivered by Crestline lacked built-in mixers which were specified in the purchase request.

The mixers are necessary to provide correct proportion of blood and anticoagulant ratio, minimize destruction of the blood sample and eliminate manual agitation or mixing which might affect the result.

The delivered machines also lacked micro-cap inlets which was included in the purchase request.

Osea and Gigare said the micro-cap inlet is advantageous as it is convenient to use in blood samples of pediatric or child patients. There is no need to use anticoagulant tubes and syringes for specimen collection.

Also, small amount of blood is needed because it requires fingertip pricking aside from providing easy and fast results.

The machine also showed defects when tested by medical technologists of the two hospitals.

Gigare said in his letter that Crestline’s machines delivered unreliable and erroneous results.

Osea complained his letter that Crestline did not provide a procedure manual for the machine.

The machines also needed more calibration and require more time and longer orientation and supervision to perform various examinations.

Osea has reportedly resigned from his post but not because of the controversy but due to his application for a US immigrant visa.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GOOD enough.

This was the reaction of C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Proper police chief, with the filing of homicide charge against the suspects in the death of an office accountant and secretary early this year.

Carganillo said the filing of the case confirmed their investigation that Julife Balbanida did not commit suicide but was shot to death.

Balbanida, a native of Arevalo, Iloilo City, was found dead February 4 inside the comfort room of Uni Eco Steel Corp. on Valeria Street, Iloilo City.

The Iloilo City Prosecutors Office (ICPO) has approved the filing of homicide charges with the Regional Trial Court against Teofilo and Raymond Kho, owners of sang Uni Eco Steel and employee Ike Panganiban.  

The suspects initially claimed that Balbanida committed suicide inside the CR but the Iloilo City Proper police discovered evidence that point to foul play.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) originally filed murder raps against the Khos and Panganiban April 2009 but the ICPO lowered the charges to homicide.

Carganillo said they sought the help of the NBI in gathering more evidence and statements of witnesses and suspects “because we have no subpoena powers.”

“The NBI can summon any person for investigation through a subpoena. We were able to gather more proof of foul play with the help of the NBI,” Carganillo said.

Carganillo said they are contented with the decision of the ICPO “as it proves that Balbinada was killed and did not commit suicide.”

“We are vindicated. At least, the prosecutors were able to find probable cause to sue the suspects for homicide.” Carganillo said.

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

NBI Special Agent (SA) Ernesto Lim said Balbanida was killed after the Kos discovered the tampered check worth P60,000 which they entrusted to the victim being the accountant and trusted employee.

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

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

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

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

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

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE alleged fake priest soliciting for money in exchange for prayers for the dead visited two government offices based in Iloilo City.

Edwin Trompeta, Department of Tourism regional director, said a certain Charles Lobaton went to their office on Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City last week and introduced himself as a member of the Franciscan Missionaries in Quezon City.

Trompeta said Lobaton first called his office two months ago to invite him to view antique furniture he is selling.

“But I had no time to visit his place as I was very busy. He called our office three times to invite me. I even learned that he also went to the offices of the Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Trompeta said.

The DILG is headed by Trompeta’s wife, Evelyn.

Last Friday, Lobaton appeared at the DOT office with an image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Since Trompeta was out of town, DOT employees entertained Lobaton who distributed envelopes for prayer intentions and donations.

“He even sold religious frames to the employees. He even told our employees that the DOT is very lucky because our office was the last place to be visited by the image which is bound to return to Barcelona, Spain,” he added.

On Sunday, Lobaton called the Trompetas’ residence and asked for an audience with the DOT chief even for just 15 minutes.

Lobaton finally met Trompeta and they discussed about the relief efforts and donation drive of the Franciscan Missionaries.

“Lobaton told me that their school in Pangasinan was damaged during the flood and they are asking for donations,” Trompeta said.

Trompeta said he asked for Lobaton’s address and contact number “but he kept changing the details he gave me.”

When Trompeta verified Lobaton’s identity and affiliation with the Franciscan Missionaries, he learned that the religious order was composed mostly of nuns.

“They only have a handful of priests whom they know by heart and they cannot recall any member by the name of Charles Lobaton. That’s when I became suspicious of this person,” Trompeta said.

The Franciscan Missionaries also told Trompeta that their members bear ID cards and authorization letters to conduct religious activities.

Trompeta said he referred the matter to the Archdiocese of Jaro which later released an advisory on the alleged fake priest.

‘Maybe we should be wary because we have the tendency to be respectful of persons who claim to be priests. A little caution won’t harm,” Trompeta said.

But city police releases him

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A SUSPECTED car robber surrendered to the Iloilo City Proper police station after he was tagged in Bukas Kotse incident last Tuesday morning.

Francisco Tamayo of Brgy. Monica, Iloilo City Proper is one of the two suspects who allegedly smashed open the Isuzu Crosswind of Wilfredo Lim at Burgos Street in the City Proper district near the Social Security System office.

Lim lost more or less P100,000 worth of gift checks and P25,000 cash.

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Proper police chief, said Punong Barangay Lilliane Sorioso of Monica convinced Tamayo to surrender after a witness identified him as a suspect in the incident.

According to Carganillo, Tamayo was the person who asked helped from two charcoal haulers who were near the crime scene to push his stalled car near Plaza Libertad.

“Tamayo allegedly drew the haulers’ attention to Plaza Libertad so his cohort can break open Lim’s car and steal the bag containing the gift checks and cash. When his companion was finished with the heist, Tamayo told the haulers that his car was okay then picked up the other suspect,” Carganillo said in a press conference at the Iloilo City Hall.

Carganillos said Tamayo denied the allegations against him and has refused to speak to investigators.

Tamayo was released after questioning by authorities as he cannot be arrested under the “hot pursuit” rule as the incident happened two days ago.

The police also convinced the two charcoal haulers, who remain unidentified, to testify against Tamayo but they refused to cooperate.


Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office OIC-director, said the car robbers who struck last Monday and Tuesday are “new faces.”

“We don’t have their photographs in our rogues’ gallery and they speak Tagalog, Waray and Cebuano which mean they are not from Iloilo,” Espejo said.

Three car heists happened around Iloilo City since Monday.

The first incident happened Monday evening outside a restaurant owned by the family of Mayor Jerry Treñas. Journalist Florence Hibionada and lawyer Joviel Edama lost two laptop computers and more or less P5,000 cash.

The second incident involved Lim’s car near SSS office.

The third incident happened outside a grocery store in Brgy. Quintin Salas, Jaro where businessman Margarito Parcon of Pototan lost P610,000 cash and a caliber .45 pistol with three magazines.

Espejo said the suspects may have passed by Iloilo to test their modus operandi and raise funds for their operations in Bacolod City which is celebrating the Masskara Festival.

Citing their previous investigations, Espejo said the Bukas Kotse syndicate operates in 10 teams composed of 2-3 persons per team.

Espejo said the suspects use three cars as surveillance, cover and getaway vehicles.

“We tried to trace the registration plates of the cars allegedly used by the syndicate but we encountered dead ends,” he added.

Espejo said they have information on the leader or leaders of the gang but he refused to give details for the meantime.

Acting Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog assured that the police are doing their job in tracking down the suspects who are tagged to 28 car robberies since February 2009.

Mabilog said the Bukas Kotse operation is not exclusive to Iloilo City “as it also happens in Bacolod, Cebu, Metro Manila and even other parts of the world.”

“These crimes could be happening because the city is developing. As we develop, we encounter many crimes that go along with progress. But the city government, the police and other law enforcement agencies are working together to solve this problem,” he added.

October 2009

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