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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR suspected robbers were killed in a shootout with the PNP’s 608th Iloilo Provincial Mobile Group (IPMG) in a resort in San Dionisio, Iloilo 7pm Thursday.

Three of the four suspects have been identified – Eric Alminar, Sonny Madriaga and Reynold Romawak – all of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, said the suspects robbed Chinese trader Tee Wee Zhang in Sara town proper around 6pm.

The suspects took P20,000 cash and cellphones from the store, according to Supt. Ipil Dueñas, 608th IPMG director.

The suspects engaged the 608th IPMG in a resort in Brgy. Nipa, San Dionisio at around 7pm.

Dueñas said they learned of the suspects’ whereabouts through tips from civilians whom the fleeing suspects almost ran over.

Dueñas said the suspects fired at their team, forcing them to retaliate.

Recovered from the suspects were two caliber .38 revolvers, 1 caliber .45 pistol and a hand grenade.

Dueñas said the slain suspects could be members of the Commando robbery group operating in Manila. He based his findings on the musang (mouse deer) tattoos found on the suspects.

C/Supt. Isagani, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said the death of the four suspected robbers validated earlier reports that members of crime groups were spotted in Iloilo.

Cuevas said the information from the tipster and quick reaction of the police led to the neutralization of the suspects.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman will look into the allegations that government-owned heavy equipments were used to construct the house of Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Virginia Palanca-Santiago, assistant deputy Ombudsman for Visayas, said they will gather the facts surrounding the latest accusations against Tupas.

Santiago said they need to see the photographs and video footage of the province-owned dump trucks and bulldozer and grader owned by the Banate municipal government working in Tupas’ house at Brgy. Juanico, Banate.

Santiago said the use of government assets for private purposes is tantamount to misuse of government property and abuse of power on the part of an official.

She said they can initiate a formal investigation if they have enough evidence against the governor.

Tupas has denied using government-owned equipment to construct his house although he flipped-flopped in his earlier statements.

The governor initially told Ray Cabarles of RMN-Iloilo that the equipment have never come near his house.

Tupas later changed his tune when he told Regan Arlos also of RMN-Iloilo that he invited the drivers of the heavy equipment to snacks and coffee. This, after he was given copies of photos showing the Capitol’s heavy equipment working on his house.

Tupas said the truck team was working on a barangay road adjacent to his house.

Meanwhile, Capitol employees in-charge of dump trucks and heavy equipment have started finger-pointing.

Engr. Efren Datoon, a project engineer of the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO), said the green dump trucks in the photographs are indeed owned by the province but these are no longer used.

Datoon said they are now using yellow dump trucks which the provincial government purchased two years ago.

Datoon said he could not recall if they have road maintenance projects in Brgy. Juanico.

It was later learned that the drivers of the green dump trucks were Domingo Ferrolin and Ken Jun Enojas Jr.

Enojas said Engr. Francisco Boy Nobleza, chief of the PEO’s motor pool, ordered them to work on a barangay road in Juanico, 20 to 30 meters from Tupas’ house.

But Enojas could not recall when they were deployed and how long they worked on the said project. He is still looking for the records at the motor pool.

Enojas said the punong barangay of Juanico requested the road project.

But in an interview with Febe Morales of Aksyon Radyo, Nobleza denied Enojas’ claims saying he has no power to deploy trucks and other heavy equipments.

Nobleza said he is only in-charge of repairs and maintenance of these equipments.

Nobleza said provincial engineers assigned to the five congressional districts in Iloilo can order the deployment of heavy equipments.

He added that Dump Trucks Nos. 5 and 11 are detailed to the 5th congressional district which is the jurisdiction of Engr. Ananias Lago.

Nobleza said the trucks are not supposed to be in Banate which is in the 4th congressional district.

Tupas is running for congressman in the 4th district, reason why he transferred his voter’s registration and established a house in Banate.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

DON’T act like clowns.

This was the stern warning of Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to members of the City Council when they hold their session.

Mabilog was reacting to the verbal tussle between Councilors Eduardo Peñaredondo and Antonio Pesina during their regular session Wednesday at the Iloilo City Terminal Market.

Mabilog said councilors should treat each other with dignity, respect and honor being elected officials of the city.

Mabilog, who was the acting mayor when the “word war” happened, said the presiding officer at that time should have stepped by calling for a recess to diffuse the tension.

“The presiding officer can also ask the sergeant-at-arms to remove the councilors from the session if they continue to harangue each other. Such conduct has no place in the council,” he added.

The presiding officer during the Peñaredondo-Pesina scuffle was Councilor Julienne Baronda.

Baronda banged the gavel to bring order to the session but in vain. Councilor Armand Parcon later called for a recess to diffuse the situation.

Parliamentary rules dictate that council members should address each other as honorable, gentleman or lady.

Councilors are also refrained from confronting each other during debates by directing their questions and comments to the presiding officer.

Mabilog said they sometimes allow intimate or endearing names to each other especially when their mood is light.

But he cautioned councilors to check their conduct during heated debates to avoid insults or confrontations.

‘TONY BOY VS KALBO’

The verbal joust between Peñaredondo, who is the majority floor leader, and the diminutive yet feisty Pesina happened when they discussed two agenda in the session.

The first round was when Councilor Julienne Baronda pushed for a committee investigation on the Metro Iloilo Water District’s operations.

Pesina objected to the idea of referring the matter to the committee on environment as there is no environmental concern in the issue.

Peñaredondo later clarified that Baronda’s proposal will be referred to the committees on environment and utilities.

Pesina also contended that the City Council has no power to penalize or investigate MIWD.

But Peñaredondo retorted that the council has the responsibility to look after public welfare, particularly on the issue of water supply.

The next round was during the deliberation on the amusement tax exemption sought by the Graciano Lopez-Jaena Foundation for its fund-raising activities.

Pesina, who chairs the committee on ways and means, had refused to grant the exemption as the foundation’s activities are not included in categories which the Local Government Code exempts from paying amusement taxes.

During the deliberation, Peñaredondo called Pesina “Tony Boy Pesina,” a label which irked the latter.

Pesina retaliated by calling Peñaredondo “Eduardo ‘Kalbo’ Peñaredondo,” which apparently referred to the latter’s balding top.

The verbal tussle extended to the media when Peñaredondo hit Pesina for being a showboat during the session which Political Science students from the University of Iloilo attended.

Peñaredondo said Pesina has the penchant to show off his debate and lawyerly skills when there are visitors during their session. He said “Tony Boy” is an endearing term which he also used in their previous sessions.

Peñaredondo threatened to knock down Pesina’s teeth and jaw if the latter jaunts his balding head outside the session.

Testingan ni Pesina nga ipanghambal ini sa guwa, kay masintak ang apipingig niya (Let Pesina taunt me outside because I will break his jaw),” Peñaredondo said over Aksyon Radyo.

Peñaredondo also taunted Pesina’s “sub par” performance in the bar exams.

Pesina hit back at Peñaredondo’s habit of butting in during a debate without asking the floor.

Pesina said he indeed called Peñaredondo “kalbo” or bald “but there was no malice in that as I was just telling the truth.”

The pint-sized councilor said Peñaredondo is “a big guy but a coward.”

“I behave during sessions…He likes to brag when there are visitors by disrupting a debate without asking permission from the presiding officer,” Pesina said.

Peñaredondo said he is allowed to interrupt discussions being the majority floor leader.

‘CRUSADING ART’  Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

‘CRUSADING ART’ Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Defensor-Garin tandem vows reforms at provincial gov’t

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. wants to restore decency at the Iloilo provincial government and the people’s trust and confidence in government, reason why he wants to return to the capitol.

Defensor proffered this motivation when he formally declared his candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections at Hotel Del Rio Thursday morning before a big group of local political leaders.

Defensor also introduced his running mate, Board Member Richard Garin, but cut short of their lineup for the provincial board.

Defensor said he is on a “crusade for reform and restoration of the people’s faith and trust in government”.

He said he had no plans to return to the provincial capitol “as I felt I have served the people well with honor and dignity.”

But Defensor said there is a need to “put an end to continuity” and restore honor and dignity in the provincial government.

Apparently, Defensor was making swipes at the present administration of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. which has been beset by issues of graft and corruption.

Defensor said he is confident to win the 2010 elections with the support of at least 32 mayors, provincial board members and other political behemoths in the province.

He also basked in his alliance with Garin whom he described as an able ally at the Capitol.

“I fell honored and privileged to have Board Member Richard Garin as my vice governor,” Defensor said.

In response, Garin described Defensor’s nine-year stint as governor as “a time of peace, dedicated and fruitful work, recognizance (sic) of responsibilities and honest transactions and liquidations.”

PROGRAMS OF GOVERNMENT

Defensor said his programs will focus on developing additional sources of power, water and environmental protection.

Defensor will also conduct a reevaluation of the province’s health programs and hospitals.   

“We will also craft a comprehensive development plan to keep up with the changing times in our province,” he added.

Garin said one of his thrusts is on agriculture, particularly the establishment of an animal and plant laboratory.

Garin said he is concerned with the lack of facilities that will help Iloilo farmers diagnose animal and plant diseases.

SHOW OF FORCE

The declaration also served as a show of force, a coalition of major political sectors in Iloilo.

Aside from the Garins, who rule the 1st congressional district, Rep. Ferjenel Biron, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico and former congressman Licurgo Tirador lent support to the Defensor-Garin tandem.

A total of 33 Iloilo mayors have committed to support Defensor’s candidacy even if his chief opponent, Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas, is the incumbent president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Iloilo.

Reportedly, the Syjuco couple – TESDA Director General Augusto and incumbent Rep. Judy – will support the Defensor-Garin tandem despite their falling out with Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin.

Oscar Garin ran for governor in 2001 against Gov. Tupas but lost.

The Garins attributed the defeat to Augusto Syjuco’s sudden change of heart and turned his support to Tupas.

Another “surprise supporter” in the Defensor-Garin tandem is Board Member Rodolfo “Boy” Cabado who has been identified with the Tupas group.

Cabado said there is nothing shocking in his decision to support Defensor as their friendship goes a long way back when they belonged to the same law office before.

Cabado said Defensor has always been his ally throughout his political career.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE two persons believed to be victims of summary killing may have links to criminal syndicates and the spate of assassinations in the city and province of Iloilo, the PNP said.

Records from the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) show that Edwin Salon, 29, of LaPaz, Iloilo and Rolly Portillo of Iloilo City Proper were involved in sensational cases in the city.

Salon and Portillo were found dead at the boundary of Brgys. Bitoon, Jaro and Camangay, Leganes Wednesday.

The victims’ severe wounds indicate they were tortured to death.

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, ICPO deputy director, said Portillo is one of the suspects in the robbery of the Vallacar Transit office in Jaro, Iloilo early last month.

Vallacar Transit, which operates the Ceres Bus Line, lost more than P300,000 cash when armed suspects robbed its office at Brgy. Buhang, Jaro September 7.

Espejo said Portillo is also the alleged lookout in the ambush of the Gulanes family in Brgy. Sambag, Jaro last September 3.

George Gulanes died in the shooting while his wife Ronielyn and their 14-year-old daughter survived. The survivors have reportedly fled the country following the series of death threats from the suspects.

Portillo was also involved in a group of assassins responsible for the killing of former Bureau of Fire Prevention official Casiano del Castillo in Arevalo and the attempt on the life of Danny Gabo in Jaro.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, confirmed Espejo’s information saying Portillo was part of the groups of Roger Palma and Edgar Cordero.

Cordero is the alleged gunman of former Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas in May 2009.

Portillo also figured in a shootout with the police following a robbery incident in central Iloilo.

As regards Salon, Espejo said his house, which also doubles as a restaurant, is allegedly one of the safe houses of the gun-for-hire syndicate.

Salon is believed to be the contact person or mediator between the suspected assassins and those who require their services.

Salon’s family said they have no idea if he is involved in any syndicate as he seldom leaves their home to tend to their business.

Espejo said the victims’ may have been murdered to prevent them from squealing what they know about the assassinations and other crimes in Iloilo.

But Espejo shot down the possibility that a vigilante group is behind the death of Salon and Portillo.

PNP regional director Isagani Cuevas said there are no vigilantes operating in any part of Western Visayas.

Cuevas said he directed ICPO director Melvin Mongcal to focus on the case.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas expressed concern over the incident and instructed Mongcal to conduct a thorough investigation.

Treñas said he does not like a vigilante group operating in this city as judge and executioner at the same time.

2 bodies found at Jaro-Leganes roadside

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO persons believed to be victims of “salvaging” or summary killing were found in the boundary of Jaro, Iloilo City and Leganes, Iloilo Wednesday morning.

The remains of Edwin Salon, 29, owner of Ricky Talabahan at Hechanova Street, LaPaz, Iloilo City and Rolly Portillo of Brgy. Wilson-Jalandoni, Iloilo City Proper were found on the roadside between Brgys. Bitoon, Jaro and Camangay, Leganes 9am yesterday.

A farmer who happened to pass by the area found the bodies of the two victims who were hogtied with wires and handcuffs while their heads were covered with plastic bags.

Salon’s wife Mila identified the victims, particularly through Salon’s tattoos.

According to Mila, the victims were last seen alive around 1pm Tuesday when Salon accompanied Portillo to the corner of Jalandoni Bridge and Gen. Luna Street, Iloilo City Proper after eating at their restaurant.

The victims were also accompanied by two persons – Jake and Warren – Mila said.

She was later surprised when she heard that two persons who matched the profile of her husband and Portillo were found dead in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Based on initial police investigation, Salon’s and Portillo’s remains showed signs of torture.

Salon bore burns possibly from lighted cigarettes aside from hack wounds and contusions in the head. Some portions of his body were skinned while his left ear was sliced.

Portillo suffered hack wounds while his head was pummeled with a hard object.

The Jaro police said the two might be victims of salvaging, Filipino slang for summary killing.

Chief Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro PNP commander, said the victims may have been killed in another area and later dumped in Brgy. Bitoon.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE British government will continue to partner with the Philippines in environmental protection and energy security, according to the United Kingdom’s top envoy in the country.

British Ambassador to Philippines Stephen Lillie said the business partnership between the United Kingdom and the Philippines is focused on climate and energy security.

Lillie said are facing shared challenges in climate and energy sectors which can be addressed through strategic partnerships.

Lillie was the guest of honor during a dinner tendered by Green Power Panay Philippines Inc. (GPPPI) which will construct a 17.5-megawatt biomass power plant in Mina, Iloilo.

GPPPI is a part of Global Green PLC Corp, which is the Philippine company of UK-based Global Green Power PLC.

Global Green is a major investor in renewable energy sources, particularly biomass power plants.

Lillie said the Global Green’s investment in the Philippines, especially in Iloilo, is an indication of the strong bond between the two countries.

Lillie also praised the Philippine Congress for passing the Renewable Energy Law (Republic Act 9513).

“You have a fantastic Renewable Energy Law which could serve as a benchmark for the rest of the world,” Lillie said.

RA 9513 seeks to promote renewable sources of energy by providing perks and other privileges to investors.

Grace Yeneza, GPPPI director, said their Mina project is one of the quickest as they have secured an environmental compliance certificate in just six months.

Yeneza said they have also bidded out the vital equipment, particularly the boiler and turbine generator, to their potential suppliers.

Yeneza said they will buy agricultural residues such as rice stalks which will fuel the power plant.

GPPPI has signed 25-year electricity supply agreements with Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (Ileco) 1 and 2. The agreement will be presented to the Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.

Aside from clean and stable energy source, GPPPI said its investment in Mina will generate 900 direct and indirect jobs in the host community.

To date, the power firm has invested P200 million for the project. The investment could balloon to P2 billion upon commissioning of the plant.

A total of P9 billion will be injected into Iloilo’s economy once GPPPI’s supply agreements with Ileco 1 and 2 are implemented.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO suspects in the assassination of a former mayor of San Joaquin, Iloilo were arrested the other day.

Nemesio Panugot, 51, was arrested at Brgy. Lawigan, San Joaquin while Lino Napao, 59, was nabbed at Brgy. Balabago in the said town.

Panugot and Napao were arrested on the strength of arrest warrants issued by Judge Danilo P. Galvez of the Regional Trial Court Branch 67 in Guimbal, Iloilo.

The two suspects are facing murder charges in Criminal Case No. 925 relative to the killing of former San Joaquin Mayor Jesus Sibya Jr. seven years ago.

Sibya was slain in front of his residence and campaign headquarters three days before the May 14, 2001 election. An aide of the slain mayor was also wounded in the shooting.

The alleged mastermind of the assassination is former mayor Sebastian “Bastik” Serag, brother of incumbent San Joaquin Mayor Ninfa Serag-Garin, the wife of former 1st district Rep. Oscar Garin.

Aside from Panugot and Napao, two other suspects – Rodolfo Talangquines and Dennis Segumalian – were arrested earlier for the said crime.

A total of 20 persons, including three John Does, were charged for the murder of Sibya.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Sibya murder case after the Department of Justice flipped-flopped on the charges filed against the suspects.

The Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office (IPPO) originally filed murder and frustrated murder charges against the suspects.

But then Department of Justice Sec. Hernani Perez downgraded the charges to homicide and frustrated homicide which allowed the suspects to post bail.

In November 2002, Perez reversed his own decision and ordered the IPPO to withdraw the information for homicide and attempted homicide and instead file murder and attempted murder charges against Serag, et al before the Regional Trial Court.

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