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SB member files criminal raps vs mayor

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE mayor of Banate, Iloilo is facing criminal suits for grave coercion and grave threats filed by a municipal councilor.

Sangguniang Bayan Member Noel O. Bagsit filed the complaint against Mayor Carlos “Insik” Cabangal with the Iloilo Provincial Police Office Tuesday.

The case stemmed from a confrontation between Bagsit, who is the No.1 SB member in Banate, and Cabangal outside the office of the Banate Water District (BWD) last September 28.

In his complaint affidavit, Bagsit said he went to the office of his brother Felex Bagsit, general manager of the water district, around 3pm. He parked his Isuzu pickup truck in front of the Banate Fire Station which is in front of the BWD office.

Bagsit said he told a certain Fire Officer Poral to call him when there are emergencies so he can move his pickup from the drive way.

When Bagsit was about to leave the BWD office, he saw Cabangal, who was wearing a light blue shirt, on a motorcycle talking to another person outside the motor pool of the fire station.

A few moments later, Bagsit said he saw Cabangal alight from his motorcycle, approached the Isuzu pickup and smashed its right tail light thrice.

Cabangal then fled on board his motorcycle only to return to the scene of the incident minutes later wearing a dark blue shirt.

Bagsit said he saw something bulge from inside Cabangal’s waist which he suspected to be a handgun.

Bagsit said Cabangal confronted him why he parked his pickup truck in front of the fire truck.

The SB member said he asked permission from the fire station.

Bagsit said Cabangal alighted from his motorcycle and was about to draw from his waist presumably a handgun but police officers stopped him.

Before the incident, Bagsit said the municipal council denied the P600,000 supplemental budget requested by Cabangal.

The council also tackled the town’s unliquidated cash advances discovered by the Commission on Audit.

Bagsit said the brewing political situation in the town and Cabangal’s resentment on the SB’s refusal to approve the supplemental budget may have sparked the incident last September 28.

A witness, whose identity is withheld for security reasons, supported Bagsit’s statements in a sworn affidavit.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FLOODS continue to hound President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even in Iloilo City.

Portions of Jaro district went under water Wednesday morning after the Jaro River overflowed due to heavy rains in Iloilo province since Tuesday evening.

The water level of the Jaro River peaked at 5.5 meters past 8am yesterday, enough to inundate Brgys. San Isidro, Tacas and Tabuc Suba in Jaro.

The Iloilo City Crisis Management (ICCM) team sent a flood alarm around Jaro district by dispatching fire trucks blaring horns.

Engr. Jose Papa, ICCM head, said heavy rains in the towns of Maasin and Alimodian raised the water level of the Jaro River which serves as the outlet of the Tigum and Aganan Rivers.

The flood occurred when Mrs. Arroyo left the flooded Metro Manila area for Iloilo City to attend the start of the canonization process of Mother Rosario Arroyo de la Visitacion in Molo Catholic church.

The President and her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, attended a mass officiated by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and five other priests.

Mother Rosario Arroyo de la Visitacion is a great-grand aunt of the First Gentleman and the Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary in the Philippines.

The Central Philippine University and elementary and high schools in the flooded villages cancelled their classes as flood waters rose.

The flood receded around noon when the President went back to Metro Manila.

During her visit to Iloilo last July, President Arroyo experienced the so-called “abortion roads” in the second congressional district under the jurisdiction of Rep. Judy Syjuco.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO detainees of the LaPaz police station in Iloilo City escaped early Wednesday morning under the very nose of a sleeping jailer on duty.

Alberto Doronila of LaPaz, Iloilo City and Mark Anthony Cahandig of Brgy. Caingin, LaPaz bolted from the LaPaz PNP jail by cutting the cell’s iron grills with a guitar string.

The two detainees escaped around 2am when they sensed that SPO2 Nestor Alipao was  in deep slumber.

The other detainers inside the jail cell claimed they failed to notice the plan of Doronila and Cahandig to escape.

Doronila is facing robbery charges while Cahandig was arrested recently at Brgy. Divinagracia, LaPaz for illegal possession of firearms.

Cahandig is also accused of frustrated homicide aside from being suspected of robbing and attacking lovers in LaPaz plaza.

S/Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said Cahandig planned the escape because of the numerous cases he is facing.

Rosales said a cohort of Cahandig may have slipped the guitar string inside the jail by inserting it in the waist band of an underwear.

Rosales said Alipao will be facing criminal and administrative charges for the incident.

SP probes Tupas’s ‘misuse’ of Capitol’s heavy equipment

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will investigate the alleged misuse of government heavy equipments in the construction of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.’s house in the town of Banate.

Board Member Richard Garin triggered the investigation when he presented a copy of the video showing province-owned dump trucks and bulldozer and grader owned by the Banate municipal government working in Tupas’ house at Brgy. Juanico, Banate.

Garin said the video, which has been labeled “Iloilo Capitol Video Scandal,” has been spreading in the Internet via YouTube, a video hosting site.

Copies of the video can be viewed in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnShzHtGqsU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R_gwWu3iMg.

Photos and videos of the heavy equipment were also posted in two blogs: http://krusadakontrakurakot.wordpress.com and http://kontramakawat.blogspot.com.

Garin said the investigation should clarify why the dump trucks and other heavy equipments are working in Tupas’ house.

The committee on infrastructure chaired by Board Member June Mondejar was initially tasked to lead the investigation along with the committees on good government.

But Capitol sources said Mondejar, a known Tupas ally in the provincial board, refused to handle the issue.

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the committee of the whole, which he also chairs, will investigate the issue to involve all provincial board members.

Suplico said they will invite officials of the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO), the provincial motor pool and Banate municipal government to explain their side on the issue.

Truck driver Ken Jun Enojas Jr. said he and Domingo Ferrolin were ordered by Engr. Francisco Boy Nobleza, chief of the PEO’s motor pool, to work on a barangay road in Banate.

But Nobleza said he has no authority to deploy trucks, particularly Trucks No. 5 and 11 which are under the jurisdiction of the PEO’s 5th district office in Barotac Viejo under Engr. Ananias Lago.

Banate belongs to the 4th congressional district where Tupas will run for congressman.

The Office of the Ombudsman will also look into the issue saying it will examine the pictures and videos spreading in the Internet.

Gonzalez: Aquino gave Ilonggos false hopes on redistricting

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. accused Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of giving false hopes to Ilonggos as regards the redistricting of Iloilo City.

Gonzalez Sr. said Aquino assured him thrice that the latter will hear the proposed creation of the second congressional district in the city.

Aquino chairs the Senate committee on local governments which hears redistricting bills filed in Congress.

Iloilo City Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. filed the redistricting bill last year and breezed through the House of Representatives.

The bill is still pending in Aquino’s committee after the senator questioned the qualifications of Iloilo City to a second congressional district.

Gonzalez Sr. said Aquino went to his office when he was still justice secretary to assure him that the committee will deliberate the redistricting measure in April 2009. 

“But nothing happened to Senator Aquino’s promise. He gave us false hopes,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez recalled Aquino as saying that he will block the redistricting of Camarines Sur and Cavite but will give due attention to Iloilo City’s case.

“The barangay captains in Iloilo City were willing to go to the Senate to attend the hearing but nothing happened until now. The redistricting bills of Camarines Sur and Cavite were passed, why not Iloilo City? We are more than qualified for another district,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he wrote Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Miriam Defensor-Santiago to protest the delay in the hearing of the redistricting bill.

Atty. Daniel Cartagena, the chief oppositor to the redistricting bill, defended Aquino by recalling their previous conversation.

Cartagena said Aquino went to Gonzalez’s to “politely inform” the latter that the Iloilo City redistricting bill does not satisfy constitutional requirements.

“To show respect to the man who helped his father Benigno Aquino Jr., Senator Noynoy Aquino went to the Department of Justice to formally inform Sec. Gonzalez about his refusal to hear the bill,” Cartagena said.

Cartagena said the senator believes that Iloilo City’s population of more than 418,000 is short of the requirements set by the 1986 Constitution.

The Constitution provides that a congressional distinct must have a minimum population of 250,000.

Cartagena even challenged Gonzalez to a debate on the redistricting bill.

“Now that he is not the justice secretary, maybe I can challenge him to a debate regarding this issue,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

PASSENGERS from Sta. Barbara, Pavia and other towns in Iloilo were stranded after the Sta. Barbara-based public utility jeepneys held a five-hour strike Monday morning.

The Sta. Barbara Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (SBJODA) are protesting Municipal Ordinance 2009-04 of Pavia which set the guidelines for the application of franchise for Pavia-Iloilo City route.

The ordinance sanctions the creation of the Pavia-Iloilo City route, which Sta. Barbara drivers believe will affect their income.

SBJODA president Oting Jallorina said the Pavia-Iloilo City route will diminish their passengers and even cut short their route.

The new route will traverse Pavia, Diversion Road in Mandurriao district to Iloilo Doctors Hospital in Molo, Iloilo City. The Pavia jeepneys will then pass by Iloilo Fishing Port Complex and go back to Pavia.

Before the creation of the new route, Sta. Barbara jeepneys ferried passengers from Pavia and those bound for Diversion Road and LaPaz area.

Pavia Sangguniang Bayan Member Otoniel Gonzaga, chairman of the committee on transportation, said they created their own jeepneys group and route to serve their own constituents.

Gonzaga said they observed that their townmates get stranded when other provincial jeepneys go on transport strike.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) regional office has approved the creation of the new route.

Atty. Porfirio Clavel, LTFRB regional director, said drivers of 69 jeepneys that previously operated on the Sta. Barbara route applied for amendments on their franchises to Pavia-Iloilo City route.

Jallorina said the municipal council of Pavia and LTFRB did not invite their group to deliberate on the new route.

Clavel said they don’t hold consultations or public hearings on amendments to existing franchises.

Gonzaga said they invited Sta. Barbara jeep operators and drivers during the hearing on the ordinance.

Jallorina said the new route will also strip them of the car pass privilege under the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance (PBO) of Iloilo City.

The PBO’s car pass system allows 50% of jeepney groups in towns adjacent to the city to ferry passengers to within the metropolis.

Jallorina said if the Pavia jeeps operate, only 15% of Sta. Barbara jeeps can avail car passes and enter the city.

“That will mean reduction of trips and passengers which will affect our income,” Jallorina said.

The conflict was eased when the municipal government of Pavia agreed to review the ordinance by referring it back to Gonzaga’s committee.

Police hunting syndicate’s Iloilo connection

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) is hunting the associates of the four suspected robbers who were slain in a shootout Thursday evening in San Dionisio, Iloilo.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, outgoing IPPO director, said the four suspects might have links in Iloilo as they are all from Luzon.

Eric Alminar, Sonny Madriaga and Reynold Romawak – all of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City – and a still unidentified suspect were killed in a shootout with the 608th Iloilo Provincial Mobile Group (IPMG) in Brgy. Nipa, San Dionisio.

The four suspects were tagged in the robbery of a Chinese trader in Sara, Iloilo an hour before the shootout.

Businessman Tee Wee Zhang and his helpers positively identified the suspects as the persons who carted away P20,000 cash and cellphones from the store in Sara town proper.

The 608th IPMG led by Supt. Ipil Dueñas learned of the suspects’ whereabouts in a resort in Brgy. Nipa based on tips from several civilians who saw the alleged robbers.

The IPMG was forced to shoot the suspects after they fired the first volleys.

Dela Paz said the slain suspects cannot stay nor operate in Iloilo if they didn’t have contacts in the province.

It was learned that the four suspects were members of a prison gang in Metro Manila whose members are hardened criminals. The suspects bore tattoos of a musang which is the trademark of the so-called Commando gang.

“We will look for their cohorts if they are still in here. And we believe that their associates are also locals who are involved in robberies and other criminalities,” dela Paz said.

Intelligence sources said the Commando gang members might have transferred to Iloilo to avoid the “heat” in Metro Manila.

It is also possible that they were sent to the province for “election-related” activities in the city and province of Iloilo.

The search for the partners of the four Commando gang members will be high on the list of S/Supt. Renato Gumban, who will take over the IPPO helm today.

Gumban, who once headed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 6, was appointed officer-in-charge of the IPPO after dela Paz finished his two-year tour of duty in the region.

Gumban might become full-fledged IPPO director if Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. chooses him.

Dela Paz will be transferred to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and might be assigned to the Regional Personnel and Human Resources Development Division.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

THE Iloilo Dinagyang festival was inducted in the Hall of Fame during the 10th Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippine (ATOP) convention in General Santos City October 1-3.

Iloilo’s premiere festival won the Hall of Fame plum after winning the best tourism event crown from 2006 to 2008.

Dinagyang is celebrated every third week of January and highlights the Ilonggos’ veneration to the Sto. Niño and their culture.

The festivity culminates in the Ati-ati dance competition which pits ati tribes from various schools and barangays. A streetdancing and merrymaking also brings the festival to fever pitch.

Aside from Dinagyang, ATOP also hailed the Paraw Regatta Race as the best sports tourism event in the country.

Paraw Regatta, a race of wind-driven outrigger boats, is held every February to celebrate Ilonggos maritime tradition and skills. It is considered the oldest and one of the grandest regattas in Asia.

The Pamahaw (Search for Ilonggo breakfast) won the nod of judges when it won 3rd place in the best culinary tourism event category.

The awarding was held in General Santos City last Saturday.

Iloilo City Tourism Officer Benito Jimena said the triple victories of Iloilo City in the ATOP convention is the fruit of their efforts to make the city “more than Dinagyang.”

“We have established our status as a place of colorful and meaningful festival, good food and rich culture and tradition,” Jimena said.

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