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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WILL Mayor Jerry P. Treñas further his political career or will he call it quits?

This might be the question boggling Treñas’ mind as the 2010 national and local elections approaches.

Treñas said he will announce his political plans October 31 even as various parties are reportedly wooing him.

The mayor is in a bind as he is serving his last three-year term as chief executive of Iloilo City.

If Treñas runs for congressman, he will face his political ally, incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., son of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. who is running for Iloilo City mayor.

Treñas and the Gonzalezes are members of the ruling Lakas-CMD-Kampi party.

Rep. Gonzalez said Treñas has three options should he remain with the administration party: he will run as vice mayor in tandem with Sec. Gonzalez Sr., he will be appointed city administrator; or he will be given a cabinet post if the administration continues its hold on Malacañang.

Rep. Gonzalez said he will still run for congressman next year unless their party decides otherwise.

There have been reports lately that Lakas might rearrange its ticket in Iloilo City: Treñas for congressman, Rep. Gonzalez for mayor and City Councilor Jose Espinosa III for vice mayor.

The reports on the Treñas, Gonzalez Jr. and Espinosa slate got louder after local Lakas leaders had a closed-door meeting with President Arroyo last week here in Iloilo City. Rumors have it the President made the “instructions”.

“That scenario remains a speculation until the party decides,” Rep. Gonzalez’s response to the said proposal.

Aside from administration party, the opposition bloc is also awaiting Treñas’ decision.

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who will run for mayor against Gonzalez last year, said his decision to join Liberal Party (LP) is hinged on Treñas’ political plans.

Mabilog said LP invited him to be their standard bearer in Iloilo City “but I am awaiting Mayor Treñas’ decision if he will run for congressman or not.”

When asked over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo if he will join LP presidential bet Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Treñas said the only time he accompanied Aquino was during cigarette breaks when they were still college students.

Sources close to Treñas said the mayor might opt to quit politics to avoid confrontation with the Gonzalezes.

A source, who sought anonymity to discuss the issue freely, said that while the non-confrontational Treñas wants to occupy a higher post, he is also wary of crossing the Gonzalezes who helped him become mayor.

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Defensor: Panay rehab must be included in P10-B supplemental fund

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. said he will insist that Panay will be included in the resolution allowing President Gloria Arroyo to look for funds for the rehabilitation of areas devastated by the series of typhoons.

Defensor said he will push for the allocation of funds for the post-Typhoon Frank rehabilitation of Panay, particularly his home province of Iloilo.

The House of Representatives is planning to pass a P10-billion supplemental budget to be used for the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had declared the national government’s calamity fund has been depleted and there are no available funds for the P10-billion additional allocation.

The House is pushing for the approval of a joint resolution with the Senate to allow President Arroyo to realign unprogrammed government funds for the supplemental budget.

Defensor said he will block the joint resolution and P10-billion supplemental budget if Panay is not included in the measures.

“We have suffered for more than 1 year since Typhoon Frank hit (Panay) and many damaged bridges, roads and other infrastructure have yet to be replaced or repaired. If Panay is included, I will work hard to pass the resolution and supplemental budget in the House,” Defensor said.

Congress is working to pass the resolution and supplemental budget before it goes on recess October 16. There were also proposals to hold special sessions to fast track the passage of the said measures. 

Right after Typhoon Frank hit Panay, Congress passed the P8-billion supplemental budget, dubbed as Paglaum Fund, for the island’s rehabilitation. But the budget’s accompanying revenue measure, the Simplified Net Income Taxation System (SNITS), is still pending in the Senate reason why the national government has yet to release the funds.

The SNITS is seen to raise some P11 billion, most of which will be set aside for the Paglaum Fund.

So far, the national government has released P481 million for the dredging of the Iloilo and Aklan Rivers and repair of 13 destroyed bridges, roads and other government infrastructures in Panay.

Ilonggo leaders last July asked for another P900 million from Malacañang for Panay.

The DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya had said that out of the P2 billion allocated this year, the calamity fund is now down to P100 million.

The national government now plans to increase the budget of agencies that deal with calamities.

The DBM is also considering a proposal to use collections from the Road User’s Tax to fund relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The Philippines usually racks up P15 billion in calamity costs every year from its average of 20 tropical storms yearly.

Andaya said the government can easily replenish the calamity fund of the various agencies involved in disaster relief and management.

In 2007 and 2008, the government spent more than the money allocated for calamities. In 2008, for instance, it spent around P4 billion.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas dismissed the administrative and criminal cases filed by an Iloilo capitol official against Tesda Director-General Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco and a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) official.

The Ombudsman said Provincial Administrator Manuel P. Mejorada failed to prove that there were irregularities in the purchase of two dump trucks worth P2.9 million sometime in 2003.

The cases, docketed as OMB-V-C-06-0249-E and OMB-V-A-06-0260-E, were filed in 2006.

The money used to buy the heavy equipment was sourced from Syjuco’s Countrywide Development Fund or pork barrel when he was still congressman of Iloilo 2nd district.

Aside from Syjuco, Mejorada also sued Cecil Caligan, former head of the 4th Engineering District which covers the 2nd district and Juanito Tizon, chairman/president of Julian Motors.

Mejorada complained that the purchase was irregular on the ground that the trucks were overpriced at P1.49 million each.

Mejorada also claimed that the trucks were not “reconditioned” and “in good running condition” but were actually rotting and rusting at the DPWH depot.  

He also alleged that the dump trucks were originally owned by the Tawo kag Duta sa Kauswagan Foundation which Syjuco established when he was still running for congressman.

The trucks ended up with Azure after a series of sale between the foundation and another buyer.

Syjuco and Caligan were also accused of pressuring the lowest bidder, Julian Motors, to withdraw from the transaction and give way to Azure Builders Corp.

But the Ombudsman-Visayas said Mejorada failed to prove his allegations, particularly the alleged conspiracy between the respondents and overpriced trucks.

The anti-graft body said the bidding for the heavy equipment were open and transparent as it was specified in the bid documents that the engineering district will buy trucks that are “reconditioned” and “in good running condition”, not brand new items.

The withdrawal of winning bidder Julian Motors from the transaction does not prove that Syjuco and Caligan pressured the supplier to back off.

The Ombudsman said Julian Motors voluntarily withdrew in view of anticipated delays of payment and fund releases.

As regards the issue that Syjuco’s foundation was the former owner of the trucks, the Ombudsman said there was no proof that he used his power as congressman to influence the transaction.

The anti-graft body said Syjuco did not coerce Caligan to buy the dump trucks from Azure Builders.

There was also no overpricing in the purchase even if the original cost of the trucks was P800,000 per unit.

“This could hardly be considered as grossly disadvantageous to the government. If a vendor is able to sell something higher than its acquisition cost, it is not conclusive of the fact that it defrauded the vendee. Any seller for that matter would certainly want to sell his products for a profit,” the Ombudsman said.

Carla Narvios-Tanco, Ombudsman graft investigation and prosecution officer 2, recommended the dismissal of the cases in February 2007.

Then OIC-Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago recommended the approval of the two resolutions on March 20 2007 which were finally approved only on March 25, 2009 by Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro.

Copies of the resolutions were sent to the parties involved October 2009.

Gonzalez will do ‘anything’ for city’s redistricting

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. is willing to sell his soul to anybody if only to realize the redistricting of Iloilo City.

Gonzalez said he is also willing to leave the administration party in order to fulfill his desire to create a second congressional district in the metropolis.

The Iloilo City redistricting bill, which was filed by Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., has hurdled the House of Representatives.

However, its counterpart measure in the Senate is still pending in the committee on local governments chaired by Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Gonzalez Sr. earlier said Aquino gave false hopes to Ilonggos when he promised to deliberate on the redistricting bill.

Aquino denied Gonzalez’s accusation saying the redistricting bill does not satisfy the population requirement set by the 1986 Constitution for the creation of new districts. 

Gonzalez said he is losing hope on the passage of the redistricting bill before the November deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

The former justice secretary said he will do anything to realize the second congressional district in Iloilo City.

“I was willing to sell my soul to them in exchange for the passage of the bill. I feel bad because the bill has been sleeping in Noynoy’s (Aquino) committee for one year and a half. Noynoy promised me that he will schedule a committee deliberation on the bill April 3,” Gonzalez Sr. said.

The older Gonzalez said he is willing to support the Liberal Party if the redistricting bill hurdles Aquino’s committee.

Aquino is the LP’s presidential bet in the May 2010 elections.

Gonzalez had accused LP stalwarts, particularly former Senate President Franklin Drilon of impeding the redistricting bill.   

But Drilon had denied Gonzalez’s allegation saying the city is not qualified for another congressional district under the 1986 Constitution.

Gonzalez said Aquino and Drilon have no sense of gratitude.

“I helped Noynoy’s father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, when he was facing cases during the Marcos dictatorship. I also helped Drilon when he ran for senator,” Gonzalez said.

The redistricting bill is seen as a mechanism to prevent a clash between Rep. Gonzalez and Iloilo City Jerry Treñas for the lone congressional district of Iloilo City.

Treñas is currently serving his last three-year term but he has yet to announce his plans for the 2010 elections. (With reports from Bombo Radyo-Iloilo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE new transport group in Pavia, Iloilo will shorten the travel time and cut expenses of passengers from said town, said Sangguniang Bayan member Otoniel “Bing” Gonzaga.

In an interview with cable TV show Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Gonzaga said he helped form the Pavia Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (PJODA) because of the clamor of their constituents.

Gonzaga, chair of the committee transportation committee of the Pavia municipal council, said some of their townmates take 2 to 3 rides each day to reach their destinations.

“Students who take the Sta. Barbara jeeps have to alight at SM City and take another ride or two to reach UP, Iloilo Doctors College (IDC) and John B. Lacson Maritime University in Arevalo district. With the Pavia-Iloilo City jeeps, they will cut short their trips,” Gonzaga said.

With the establishment of PJODA, public utility jeepneys from Pavia can travel all the way to IDC and the Iloilo Terminal Market area under the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance of Iloilo City.

Jeepneys based in Sta. Barbara are opposing the new jeepney group as it will affect their own trips and income.

PJODA members are formerly Sta. Barbara-Iloilo jeepneys who applied for amendments to their franchises.

Pavia jeeps are entitled to traverse the Pavia-LaPaz and Pavia-Hiway (Diversion Road) routes.

Gonzaga said a total of 39 jeepneys were assigned to the Pavia-LaPaz route.

Iloilo City Councilor Erwin Plagata, committee on transportation chair, said they conducted hearings on Pavia route and invited representatives of Sta. Barbara jeeps to get their sentiments.

Plagata said the City Council has the responsibility to assign specific routes to jeeps from other towns “to protect the city loop jeeps and give order to our traffic.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO is projected to produce 942,000 to 1 million metric tons of rice this year, according to Iloilo provincial agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo.

In 2008, Iloilo yielded 942,286 MT, or 42% of Western Visayas’s total rice production of 2.117 million MT.

Iloilo enjoyed a 164% rice sufficiency last year because of its high production rate, according to the National Food Authority (NFA).

Authorities foresee a rice shortage in the country after Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng battered Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary.

Toledo said the absence of major weather disruptions, such as Typhoon Frank in 2008, bodes well for Iloilo’s rice production.

“Last year, we managed to produce almost 1 million metric tons of rice (even with) Typhoon Frank. This year, we expect to breach the 1 million mark because of favorable weather conditions and the use of hybrid seeds,” Toledo said.

Iloilo has been a posting production growth of 14.44% since 2007 due to intensified use of location specific interventions (LSI), active participation of agricultural extension workers and favorable weather condition which increased the number of rice areas planted.

Larry Nacionales, Department of Agriculture regional director, said Iloilo was sending rice to Tacloban and Cebu last year to augment the two provinces’ production deficit.

Nacionales said rice production in Western Visayas has been on the upswing since 2007.

Last year, Western Visayas contributed 12.52% to the national rice production last year and raised its rice sufficiency level from 110 in 2007 to 116 percent in 2008.

Nacionales said that from 1,992,426 MT in 2007, Western Visayas produced 2,117, 598MT, an increase of 125,172MT.

“Overall, Western Visayas has contributed 18.10% to the national rice production growth rate,” he added.

Manuel O. Olanday, regional rice program coordinator in Western Visayas, said the region has an average yield of 3.28 MT/hectare and posted a 7.41% increase in the total area planted from 601,595 hectares in 2007 to 646,197 hectares in 2008.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) continues to oversee the operations of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 despite the reported pressures from a politician to reinstate the board of directors to their full functions.

In a phone interview, Ed Adlao, NEA project supervisor tasked to administer Ileco 3 management, said he continues to discharge his functions until the NEA Administration Committee (AdCom) has concluded its probe on the alleged bribery of the cooperative’s board of directors.

NEA “deactivated” the Ileco 3 board headed by retired judge Mateo Baldoza when the latter alleged that he received a total of P150,000 cash from Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. and officials of Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

The alleged bribe was meant to convince Ileco 3 directors to approve and sign a 25-year power supply agreement with Artech using diesel and biomass power plants.

NEA has recommended the rescission of the PSA and the conduct of a formal investigation on the alleged bribery.

With the NEA takeover of Ileco 3, the board of directors was reduced to an “advisory council” and was stripped of any power to approve or sign documents relative to Ileco 3 operations and policies.

The takeover is also meant to prevent the directors from influencing the investigation or tampering with documents needed in the AdCom probe.

“I was designated here to cool things down and pave the way for the investigation on the issues at hand,” Adlao said.

Reports surfaced yesterday that Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (5th district, Iloilo) is pressuring NEA to restore the Ileco board to their normal status. 

Rep. Tupas is the son of Gov. Tupas.

Adlao said he did not receive any call from Tupas or any politician to pressure him to reinstall the board.

Adlao said he was supposed to act as overseer for three months since July “but the AdCom has yet to finish the investigation so I am still the project supervisor.”

“The directors themselves asked if the takeover will end because it’s already three months since we took over. Until the AdCom concludes the investigation, we will continue to oversee Ileco 3,” Adlao said.

Adlao said the AdCom has received the position papers of the complainants and the Ileco 3 board of directors.

“The AdCom has scheduled a public hearing in the coming days as part of their investigation,” Adlao added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas ordered the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to sift non-performing police officers from its rank following the escape of two detainees from the LaPaz police station.

Treñas said he ordered S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, to gather the names of cops with sub-par performance for possible reassignment outside the city.

The mayor issued the order to the ICPO when he learned of the daring escape of detainees Alberto Patpat and Mark Anthony Cahandig from the LaPaz PNP jail cell last Wednesday.

SPO2 Nestor Alitao, jailer on-duty when the jailbreak happened, is facing possible administrative and criminal cases relative to the incident.

Alitao reportedly was asleep when Cahandig and Patpat sawed the cell’s iron grills with a guitar string.

Treñas said he expects city police officers to perform well during their duty as they are receiving ample allowances and other assistance from City Hall.

The mayor said he increased the honorarium and allowances of ICPO officers from P800 to P1,000 per month.

“In 2010, their allowances will again be increased to P1,200 per month,” Treñas said. 

As regards Mongcal’s supposed relief from the ICPO, Treñas said he still trusts the latter.

“I have not heard of any report that he will be relieved from the ICPO. The PNP regional command did not (give) hint (on) any plan to transfer him to other units,” he added.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, former Iloilo provincial police director, is reportedly being touted to take over the ICPO helm.

Meanwhile, Susan Patpat of Calaparan, Arevalo said her son Alberto will soon surrender to the police.

Susan said her son sent surrender feelers to her and will surface when the right time comes.

She said Alberto was involved in a simple mugging case which she is trying to settle with the complainant.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

SENATOR Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III rebutted claims that he gave false hopes to those who support the redistricting of Iloilo City.

In a press conference at the provincial capitol Friday, Aquino, Senate committee on local government chair, said he promised to conduct a hearing on the bill seeking to create a second congressional district in Iloilo City.

“Tuloy ang hearing but my position follows two criteria set by the Constitution – population and territory. In the case of Iloilo City, the population requirement was not met,” Aquino said.

Aquino was referring to the provision of the 1986 Constitution which states that each congressional district must have at least 250,000 population.

In the case of Iloilo City, it needs a total of 500,000 population to qualify for another congressional district. But the latest population survey shows that the city only has more than 418,000 residents. 

Earlier, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. earlier lambasted Aquino for giving false hopes to Ilonggos on the redistricting bill.

Gonzalez said Aquino promised to hear the bill when it reaches the Senate but the latter simply sat on it. 

“I assured the good secretary that we will hear the bill but at the end of the day, I am constrained by the Constitution,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the Supreme Court decision Gonzalez’s cited to push for the redistricting is still debatable.

The SC decided in Mariano vs Commission on Elections last March 7, 1995 that the legislative district of a city or province can be increased if it has met the minimum population requirement of 250,000.

“I just want to be fair. Proportional representation ang pinag-uusapan. The actual basis should be proportion: if Iloilo City has 250,000 population, it can have a district. If the population is less than the requirement, we cannot create another district. Dapat pantay-pantay lang because we all have equal rights,” Aquino said.

The senator said the redistricting bill will be useless as the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy is already near.

THE 14th Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Alimodian-Leon-San Miguel today ruled that Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada is validly registered as a voter in Barangay Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo, saying he has met all the requirements and the case was apparently filed with malicious ends.

In a 14-page decision handed down by Judge Alpha Sanglap-Delgado, the court noted the glaring inconsistencies in the testimonies of the petitioners and their witnesses and expressed its distaste for a dangerous precedent of a “no house, no vote” scheme to disenfranchise voters.

“Let the name of Manuel Pichay Mejorada be retained by the public respondent, the Election Registration Board of Alimodian, Iloilo and that his name remain in the list of voters of Precinct No. 0100A Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian, Iloilo,” the court declared.

Mejorada was served a copy of the decision at around 8:45am by 14th MCTC clerk of court Eli Cordero.

A triumphant Mejorada hailed the decision, saying it publicly repudiated the means employed by TESDA Director-General Augusto Boboy Syjuco to remove him as a threat in the May 2010 elections.

Mejorada said the court’s ruling sends a positive signal that powerful men like Syjuco cannot break the law at will and torment those who dare go against them.

Mejorada expressed his gratitude to Judge Sanlap-Delgado for upholding the law.

Her decision, he said, put to rest any doubts about his right to claim Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian as his place of domicile.

The petition for exclusion against Mejorada was filed by TESDA employee Ireneo A. Mondero and the barangay secretary, Netch Flavio.

Mejorada is convinced the attempt to get his name removed from the list of registered voters of Precinct No. 0100A at Brgy. Pajo was made upon orders of Syjuco.

The decision said “it is deeply disturbed by the events that transpired in this case.”

The court noted that in the petition, Mondero claimed the nipa hut built by Mejorada had an “inner dimension of only six feet by four feet.”

“But when he (Mondero) testified, (it) was about eight feet by eight feet and was not sure anymore of the exact dimension,” the court observed.

The court also found that Mondero dismantled the house of Mejorada just so he can claim that the latter no longer had a house in that place.

“This is a dangerous precedent that may lead to mischievous consequences which are: ‘no house, no vote’ or ‘lose your house, lose your vote,” it said.

The court said that “the real purpose for the act of destruction of the house was for the instant petition and not for the flimsy reason of non-compliance of respondent Mejorada of the lease contract.”

“Whatever disagreements petitioner Ireneo A. Mondero had with the private respondent Manuel P. Mejorada does not give him the license to destroy the latter’s nipa hut and to put the law in his hands,” the court said.

The court made it clear that the demolition of the house does not strip Mejorada of his residence in Sitio Balogo, Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian.

“The nipa hut exists no more to protect the private respondent from the scourging heat of the sun by the very act of petitioner Ireneo A. Mondero but the Spirit of the Law lives on to let this man Manuel Pichay Mejorada have his place under the sun,” the court emphasized.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) urged the Iloilo City government to act on its application for waiver of excavation and restoration fees so it can start its project that will lessen leakages and losses.

Engr. Adrian Moncada, MIWD director, said they are ready to start their P28-million Non Revenue Water (NRW) reduction project but they have yet to secure a permit to excavate and restore from City Hall. NRW is water lost to leakages and pilferages.

If issued with the permit, the MIWD can dig city roads and sidewalks to repair leaks in its distribution pipes in the city.

The City Government, through the City Engineer’s Office, will restore the excavated areas using the excavation and restoration fee pegged at P350 per square meter.

Moncada said they filed a waiver of excavation and restoration fees with the Office of the City Mayor to cut on costs and maximize their resources on other improvement projects.

Moncada said they initially allocated P10.031 million for the NRW reduction project in Jaro and LaPaz districts. Based on their computation, MIWD will have to pay P5.877 million for the excavation and restoration fee alone.

Moncada said their application for waiver is still pending in the City Legal Office, which is delaying their NRW reduction project.

“The City Engineering District of the Department of Public Works and Highways has acceded to our request by reducing the excavation and restoration fee to P50 per sq m. If we can secure the permit from the City government soon, we can start the project and bring better service to our consumers,” he said.

City Hall sources said the City Treasurer’s Office is not amenable to the waiver as it will a reduction on substantial revenues.

Moncada said if the City government is not amenable to exempt MIWD from paying the fee, they are willing to pay P50 per sq m and restore the excavated areas.

“We will still pay the fee at a reduced rate and at the same time we will fix the roads we dug for the project. This project will redound to the benefit of Iloilo City residents anyway. And we will also use our savings on other projects,” Moncada said.

After the completion of the Jaro and LaPaz phase of the NRW Reduction project, Moncada said MIWD will fix its distribution lines in other districts.

Aside from the NRW reduction project, MIWD is also set to bid its bulk water requirement to five bidders.

The bulk water supply aims to improve water pressure, quality and quantity of MIWD’s supply.

“We foresee that 80% of our consumers will enjoy water supply with the right pressure, quality and quantity once the bulk water project is implemented in the next 4-6 months,” Moncada said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE central office of weather bureau PAG-ASA will investigate one of its personnel in Iloilo for working while under the influence of liquor.

Nathaniel Cruz, officer-in-charge of operations and services of PAG-ASA, said they will look into the actuations of Pons Garcia of PAG-ASA Iloilo for drinking while on duty Wednesday evening.

An apparently drunk Garcia delivered the weather forecast over RMN Patrol 774 anchored Regan Arlos Wednesday evening.

Garcia admitted on-air that he was drunk even if his duty was to end 11am Thursday.

Nakainum-inum man dyutay. We have to accept the truth,” Garcia said.

Cruz said they will make Garcia explain his actions even as he admitted that they are short in personnel reason why some forecasters follow a two-day duty, one-day break schedule.

Cruz said they also plan to transfer PAG-ASA Iloilo to Guimaras Island.

PAG-ASA Iloilo is holding office at the Iloilo Sports Complex in Lapaz.

Cruz said their present office is not suitable for their weather instruments that help them study and forecast the weather.

“The area affects the accuracy of our instruments. We will transfer to Guimaras as we already have a lot there. We also have the money to construct the building,” Cruz said in an interview with Rhod Tecson of RMN-Iloilo. 

PAG-ASA will also establish a regional forecasting center in Mactan, Cebu for easier transmittal and dissemination of their reports.

“The regional forecasting center will also be capable of forecasting the local weather situation without relying on our Manila office,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A FORMER barangay captain-turned-kagawad of Brgy. Pali, Mandurriao, Iloilo City is facing expulsion initiated by his fellow barangay officials.

In a letter to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, Pali officials led by Punong Barangay Noel Obregon wants Kagawad Ramonito Gratis to leave his office for failure to attend their regular session.

The complainants said Gratis has incurred more than 20 absences since they assumed office in 2007.

Worse, Gratis continues to receive his honoraria even if he seldom attends their sessions.

According to Article 124 of the implementing rules and regulations of the Local Government Code (LGC), a Sangguniang Barangay member who incurred unauthorized absences from four consecutive sessions may be subjected to disciplinary action.

A verified administrative complaint may be filed with the Sangguniang Bayan or Sangguniang Panlungsod against the alleged absentee barangay official.

Mayor Treñas has referred Gratis’ case to the City Legal Office.

Gratis is a fierce ally of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr.

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