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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.

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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 http://jotorres.wordpress.com, 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.

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