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Legaspino

Soroño
Giltendez

 

Grabador

Resureccion

5 members arrested

By Albert T. Mamora and Francis Allan L. Angelo

FIVE suspected members of the notorious Basag Kotse gang were apprehended in Guimbal, Iloilo after victimizing a businessman in San Jose, Antique Sunday afternoon.

Alvin Rodis Resurrecion, 34, of Brgy. Tuklong, Kawit, Cavite; Troy Lacre Giltendez, 33, of Brgy. Nueve de Febrero, Mandaluyong City; Giovanni Soroño Nuevas, 38, of Rosario Subd., Angono, Rizal; George Llorante Grabador, 45, of Kalayaan (V-Town), Angono, Rizal; and Edward Dimen Legaspino, 26, of Brgy., Tuklong, Kawit, Cavite were nabbed in a checkpoint mounted by the Guimbal PNP.

The five suspects allegedly ransacked the Nissan Patrol of an Antique-based businessman past 5pm Sunday near the tennis court of the EBJ Freedom Park in San Jose, Antique.

The victim, who requested anonymity, was playing tennis when the suspects allegedly smashed the left glass window of his car and carted away a bag containing P100,000 worth of checks and cash and P40,000 worth of jewelry and other personal items.

San Jose PNP commander, C/Insp. Gilbert T. Gorero, said several witnesses saw three persons milling around the victim’s car. One of the persons then smashed the glass window using his fist wrapped with a thick piece of cloth.

A witness also saw a white Mitsubishi Montero Sport parked beside the victim’s car. The suspects later fled onboard the Montero Sport with plate number NBI-262.

The San Jose police relayed a flash alarm to police stations in southern Iloilo to intercept the Montero Sport.

But the suspects managed to slip past the checkpoint of the Miag-ao police. A chase ensued until they were apprehended near the Guimbal Elementary School where police officers were already awaiting them.

C/Insp. Almaquer, Guimbal police commander, said they did not find the bag containing the loot.

“Maybe they threw the bag away while escaping from Antique,” Almaquer said.

The suspects were brought back to San Jose, Antique midnight of November 30 for investigation.

Witnesses identified three of the five suspects as the persons who actually smashed the victim’s car.

Nuevas was the alleged lookout behind the Nissan car while Legaspino manned the front portion of the vehicle.

Grabador allegedly smashed open the window and pulled the bag out of the car.

The suspects denied any participation in the car robbery saying they were on their way to Iloilo City to visit a relative of Legaspino. But they failed to identify the person they were supposed to visit.

The suspects also claimed to be natives of General Santos City in Mindanao but later moved to Luzon.

Legaspino said he is a seaman while Resurrecion said he is planning to work abroad soon.

The police found out that Giltendez was the group’s driver while Nuevas acted as back-up driver.

Nuevas, Resurrecion and Grabador further claimed that they were only accompanying Legaspino to Iloilo City. From there, they will proceed to General Santos City to spend  Christmas.

Legaspino and Giltendez said they were planning to proceed to Negros Occidental to visit some relatives whom they did not identify.

Based on the certificate of registration (CR No. 8381619-1 dated, April 1, 2009) recovered from the getaway car, the white Montero Sport is registered in the name of a certain Jose Alberto Hernandez Dilanco, of No. 4 Doña Rita Diaz Street, Phase 1, Fortunato Village in Sucat, Parañaque City.

The getaway car has a special commemorative plate of the 100th anniversary of the Freemasons’ Dapitan Lodge No. 21.

The police also recovered a receipt with Authorization No. 370, signed by Bro. Cesar Ortega, Dapitan Lodge 21 secretary 21. The receipt allowed Dilanco to use the commemorative plate with License No. 0370 and sticker issued on November 11, 2009.

Legaspino said they rented the Montero Sport from Red Wheel Rent-a-Car in Las Piñas City.

Legaspino did not provide the exact address of the car rental service. He said he was paying P3,500 for the car’s daily rent. He said he deposited P20,000 for the car and told the police that he will secure a fax copy of the rent contract if asked by police investigators.

The Bukas Kotse gang has been preying on car owners in Western Visayas, most of them in Iloilo City where more than 30 car robberies were reported to the police.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and various fraternities in Iloilo City sued for peace through a tree planting activity in San Joaquin, Iloilo Sunday.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the activity is designed to promote camaraderie and goodwill among police officers and various fraternities that are sometimes involved in bloody rumbles.

Around 60 police officers and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO) and Scout Royale Brotherhood (SRB) Fraternities went to Brgy. Bolobogo, a village 20 kilometers from San Joaquin.

The tree planting was organized by the ICPO’s Police Community Relations Section. A total of 60 mahogany seedlings were planted in a hilly portion of the barangay.

The participants then ate lunch a la “boodle fight,” a military style of eating with bare hands food placed on a long table covered with banana leaves.

The tree planting activity is the second project initiated by the ICPO involving different fraternities in Iloilo City.  The first one was conducted last July 2009 involving the same fraternities. 

“This endeavor aims to restore our natural resources and to organize our fraternities and to channel their efforts into more developmental and wholesome activities that will promote solidarity, camaraderie and enhance better interrelationships between and among fraternities,” Mongcal said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT’S still Defensor-Garin all the way to the May 2010 elections.

This was the firm assurance of Board Member Oscar Richard S. Garin as regards his tandem with House Majority Arthur D. Defensor Sr. who is seeking the governorship of Iloilo.

Garin cleared the air of the yarn that his father, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin struck an alliance with the Tupases to support the gubernatorial run of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas.

“There is no deal with the Tupases. If ever that is true, it’s unethical. Although my father and Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. have maintained their friendship after running against each other in 2004, there have been no talks or negotiations about our political plans with them,” Garin said after filing his candidacy for vice governor Monday morning.

Stories filtering out of the Tupas camp say the Garins will support Mayor Tupas in the 2010 elections. In exchange, the Tupases, who are members of the Liberal Party, will not field candidates against the Garin group.

BM Garin said that if his wife, Rep. Jeanette Garin and mayors in their camp don’t have opponents in next year’s polls, it’s because of their respective accomplishments and efforts as public officials, not for any political deal.

He said that if his father and Gov. Tupas were seen talking in the past days, “it’s because they get invited to the same occasions aside from maintaining their cordial relationship.”

“If ever my father talks to Gov. Tupas, I never authorized him to talk about my politics. The same thing is true for Gov. Tupas. My father did not even convince me run for vice governor. This is my own independent decision. We, the children of these two political leaders, are mature enough to decide on our political path,” he added.

Garin said they continue to be committed to Rep. Defensor’s gubernatorial run next year.

“I support the candidacy of Rep. Arthur Defensor for governor. Seven months ago, we heard that my father is interested to run for governor. He later clarified that he will not run but he will support Rep. Defensor. Our family including my wife and father are still committed to Rep. Defensor. We will exert our effort to support him,” Garin said.

Garin said his tandem with Defensor “is a combination of a good planner and a good project implementor.”

“Rep. Defensor has a dream of decent, honorable and transparent governance. And I join him in this vision that’s why I am running with him,” he added. 

Defensor and Garin went to the Commission on Elections provincial office in LaPaz, Iloilo City past 10am to formalize their candidacies.

They were accompanied by their candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan – former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Juanito Acanto (3rd district), Rodolfo Cabado (2nd district) and JR Salcedo (5th district).

The Defensor-Garin tandem will carry the Lakas-Kampi-CMD banner although they have a tactical alliance with 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron who is running under the Nacionalista Party.

Dr. Macario Napulan, who is seeking his third term as provincial board member, will team up with former Oton mayor Carina Flores in the 1st district under the Lakas-Kampi banner. They filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC) along with Rep. Jeanette L. Garin.

In the 5th district, Board Member Jett Rojas will file his candidacy for a second term in the SP along with Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico who will try to recapture his old seat as congressman.

Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan G. Biron Jr. and Dueñas Sangguniang Bayan Member Ronald Cajuya have filed their CoCs for the provincial board representing the 4th district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT WILL be the longest day for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as candidates vying for various posts in 2010 try to beat the deadline 12 midnight today.

Jonathan Sayno, Comelec Iloilo City election assistant, said they are prepared physically and logistically to cater to candidates who will lodge their certificates of candidacy (CoC).

Sayno said their work eased a bit after major political groups in Iloilo City filed their CoCs since the weekend.

Sayno said they have requested police officers to be stationed at their office in Iloilo Terminal Market, also known as Super Market, to keep peace and order.

“The filing is peaceful and orderly and no untoward incident happened along the way. Although candidates brought along their supporters and fun fares, the filing went smoothly as candidates observed proper procedure and friendly competition,” he added.

Mayor Jerry Treñas, who is running for congressman, and his ally Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is seeking the Office of the City Mayor, led their respective groups in filing their CoCs Monday morning.

The group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. will formalize their candidacies this morning. Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. will try to win his last 3-year term against Treñas while Sec. Gonzalez Sr. will run against Mabilog.

The Gonzalezes will carry the banner of Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

The group of mayorable Lorenzo “Larry” Jamora filed their CoCs Friday last week.

City Councilor Erwin Plagata is running for vice mayor while his City Council slate includes incumbent Councilor Perla S. Zulueta and lawyer Edeljulio Romero. They will run as independent candidates.

Atty. Elizabeth Doronila, Comelec Iloilo provincial office head, said they also requested additional police officers to secure their office at Burgos Street, LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Four police officers from the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) and LaPaz police station were assigned to the Comelec provincial office since the start of the filing CoCs.

The group of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul C. Tupas, who is running for Iloilo governor, is expected to file their certificates of candidacy today at the Comelec provincial office. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MUSLIMS in Iloilo City do not tolerate violence and bloodshed similar to the Maguindanao massacre in Mindanao Island a week ago.

This was the reaction of the Muslim community in the city in an interview with weekly TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor by Perla S. Zulueta over Sky Cable Sunday.

Imam Sammy Hadjimanan, spokesman of the Iloilo Islam Community Association, said true believers of Islam do not tolerate the killing of women and children.

Hadjimanan said they condemn the massacre of more than 50 persons, mostly women relatives of a political leader in Maguindanao, allegedly perpetuated by a rival political clan.

“We are saddened by the incident. The Muslims do not harm women and children. The Muslim community prays for the victims and peace in Mindanao and we hope justice will be given to them,” Hadjimanan said.

Imam Abdul Nasser R. Langcao said Islam prohibits the murder of women and children.

“Women are respected and loved, not murdered. The children must be taken cared of. We condemn such acts. You are not a true Muslim if you do that,” Langcao said.

Langcao said killing is only justified in defense of religion or ancestral domain when a jihad or holy war is declared.

“But Muslims are peaceful and God-fearing people. We obey God’s command at all times,” Langcao added.

Hadjimanan said they are concerned with the wrong impression that the massacre might cause on Muslims in areas outside of Mindanao.

“We feel bad about what happened and we condemn such act. Some people might think that all Muslims are troublesome and cruel. But not all Muslims are like that,” Hadjimanan said.

Hadjimanan said the incident has a great impact on their community, especially discrimination by other people.

“We include the victims in our prayers five times a day. We hope that they will not discriminate or think that all Muslims are like those who committed the massacre,” he added.

There are around 1,000 Muslims in Iloilo City, most of them traders.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. told his detractors to stick to the real issues hounding the Iloilo provincial government instead of sowing intrigues and black propaganda.

This was Defensor’s reaction to those who question his health and his alliance with the Garin clan of the 1st congressional district.

Rumors apparently spread by the camp of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. claimed that the Tupases struck an agreement with the Garins to support the candidacy of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas for governor.

Defensor said the story is plain black propaganda as his alliance with his vice gubernatorial bet, Board Member Richard Garin is still intact and continues to grow strong.

“This early the other camp is spreading intrigues because they saw the strength and unity of our group. Our group’s campaign is getting stronger by the day,” Defensor said.

Defensor said those who spread the rumor are getting desperate “and they are looking for ways to put a wedge between me and the Garins.”

He added that the Garins are not double talkers who renege on their political commitments.

“Unlike the others, the Garins don’t double cross or dupe anybody. They are very candid and sincere in their politics which they conducted with honor,” Defensor said.

Aside from the Garins, Defensor said 33 out of the 43 mayors in Iloilo province are supporting his comeback to the provincial capitol.

As regards his age and health, Defensor said he is still in the pink of health.

“I am very healthy for the upcoming campaign. And I am not that old enough. Those are not the main issues as I am alive and kicking,” Defensor said.

The House majority leader said the main issue that must be addressed is change and reform in the capitol.

“What should be answered is: Is there a need for new leadership at the capitol to usher in changes and reform? If we want change, then we must give others the chance to upgrade and change the image of the capitol.”

Defensor is running on the platform of instituting change and reform at the capitol which has been mired with issues of graft and corruption under Tupas rule.

Defensor said he wants to restore honor and decency in the provincial government aside from providing efficient delivery of social services.    

Defensor, BM Garin and their entire slate for the provincial board will file their certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections today.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

BATTLE lines are being drawn in the province and city of Iloilo as major candidates filed their respective certificates of candidacy (CoC) since the weekend.

Today, the groups of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog will file their CoCs at the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Iloilo City office.

Treñas, who will run for congressman under Nacionalista Party, and Mabilog, Liberal Party’s mayoral bet in the city, have allied against the group of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. of Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

The Treñas and Mabilog groups will attend separate church masses before going to the Comelec office. The allies, however, are supporting two different vice mayoral bets – Treñas is for Councilor Jose Espinosa III while Mabilog’s running mate is Councilor Julienne Baronda.

Councilor Erwin Plagata, who will run for Iloilo City vice mayor, also formalized his candidacy Saturday along with lawyer Edeljulio Romero who is seeking a seat in the City council.

Sec. Gonzalez and his son Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. will file their CoCs for mayor and congressman, respectively, also today after a morning caravan from Jaro district.

The group of former Presidential Adviser on Waters Lorenzo H. Jamora, who is also running for mayor, filed their CoCs Friday. His running mate is Dr. Aquiles Hortillosa of LaPaz district.

In Iloilo province, House Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. and Iloilo provincial Board Member Richard Garin will file their candidacy for governor and vice governor, respectively, at the Comelec provincial office in LaPaz, Iloilo City this morning.

Defensor said their candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan from the five districts of the province will also file their CoCs today.

Last Saturday morning, Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron (Iloilo, 4th district) filed his CoC with the Comelec to seek his last 3-year term.

Biron’s opponent, Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. also filed his candidacy Saturday afternoon.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

OPERATORS and drivers of public utility jeepneys in Pavia, Iloilo invited their counterparts in Sta. Barbara town to join their newly-minted group if they want to continue the privileges under the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance (PBO) of Iloilo City.

Sangguniang Bayan Member Otoniel Gonzaga said in an interview over Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla S. Zulueta that the Pavia Jeepney Drivers and Operators Association (PJODA) are willing to accept drivers and operators who ply the Sta. Barbara based jeepneys    

Gonzaga said they have long invited their counterparts in Sta. Barbara to settle their dispute over two major routes in Iloilo City.

The formation of PJODA upset four Sta. Barbara jeepney groups claiming they have lost substantial income because of the new route.

Sta. Barbara jeepney drivers said they lost the “first town” privilege under the PBO because of the presence of Pavia jeepneys traversing the LaPaz and Diversion Road routes.

Under the PBO, 50% of jeepneys operating from towns right next to the city are allowed to ferry passengers into the metropolis.

For second towns, such as Sta. Barbara, only 15% of jeepneys in each association are allowed to enter Iloilo City.

The Sta. Barbara jeepney groups petitioned for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with prayer for injunction against the operation of PJODA.

Executive Judge Antonio Natino granted a 72-hour TRO for the petitioners while hearing the main motion for an injunction. Natino later lifted the TRO and trashed the petition.

Gonzaga said they still have room for Sta. Barbara jeepneys who want to join PJODA.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board granted 100 slots each for the Pavia-LaPaz and Pavia-Diversion Road routes, he added.

“There is still room for more or less 50 units per route. If they want to join us and enjoy the privileges we have,” Gonzaga said.

Gonzaga said the Pavia route has more than enough passengers because several barangays in New Lucena and southern portion of Iloilo City pass through their town.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE alliance between House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. and Iloilo 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron remains intact even if they belong to different parties now.

Biron made the assurance after he formally transferred to the Nacionalista Party (NP) of Senator Manuel Villar Friday morning.

Defensor will run for Iloilo governor in 2010 under the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“My alliance with Rep. Defensor remains even if we are in different parties. He will be my candidate for governor as I believe that he is the only person who can purify and bring decency to the provincial government,” Biron said.

Biron, who will seek his third 3-year term as congressman, said he will also support Board Member Oscar Richard Garin, Defensor’s running mate.

He also clarified reports that the decision of Lakas-Kampi to field Jesry Palmares as its mayoral bet in Passi City is the reason why he jumped to NP.

“I already told Rep. Defensor about this plan a year and a half ago because I have always supported Sen. Villar. And I believe in the senator’s capability and track record to lead the country,” he added.

Biron and Palmares had a falling out after the 2001 election when the latter supported the late Rep. Narciso Monfort despite striking a deal and receiving financial support from the doctor-cum-businessman-turned-politician.

Biron said he already told Defensor about his plan to transfer to NP more than a year ago.

Defensor said Lakas-Kampi will not field a candidate against Biron in the 4th congressional district.

Defensor said his alliance with Biron remains strong even if they support different presidential bets.

He said he will make sure that nobody from the ruling party will run against Biron in the 2010 elections.

“As chairman of Lakas-Kampi in Iloilo and Western Visayas, I have the power to issue certificates of nomination and acceptance to candidates. I will make sure that no one will oppose Rep. Biron,” Defensor added.

Aside from Biron, mayoral candidates under his group also joined NP during the oath taking rites Friday at Hotel del Rio. These are incumbent mayors Hernan Biron Sr. of Barotac Nuevo, Ma. Teresa Debuque of Anilao, Rufino Palabrica of Dingle, Robert Martin Pama of Dueñas, Trixie Fernandez of San Enrique, and Ronaldo Golez of Dumangas,  and Dr. Betita Cobarrubias of Banate and Dr. Hope Palmares-Lapating of Passi City.

Biron’s candidates to the Iloilo provincial board are his brother Hernan Biron Jr. and Ronald Cajuya of Dingle.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. challenged former senator Franklin Drilon to run in Iloilo City and face the former in a debate.

Gonzalez issued the challenge to Drilon after the latter made his “Triple J versus Triple G” statement during the mass oath taking of Liberal Party members in Iloilo City Wednesday.

Drilon was referring to the alliance of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas (congressman), Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog (mayor) and Councilor Julienne Baronda (vice mayor) in the 2010 elections.

With Triple G, Drilon meant “guns, goons and gold”, an apparent swipe at the Gonzalez camp.

Sec. Gonzalez Sr. will run for mayor under Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD while his son Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. will seek a second term. Councilor Antonio Pesina is the older Gonzalez’s running mate.

Sec. Gonzalez said Drilon’s statements were irresponsible for a former Senate president to make.

“Do you know any goons that I hire? Do you know of anyone I hurt or harassed during elections? I don’t have guns and goons. Gold maybe because I also have my own resources,” he said.

He said he is not very affluent “because I don’t have money that Drilon earned from (the airport project in) Cabatuan.”

Sec. Gonzalez said he does not understand why Drilon keeps on sniping at him “when I supported until 2004.”

“In 2001, I urged my supporters to support him also. I don’t know why he is after my head,” he added.

For the older Gonzalez, Drilon hates competition in Iloilo City politics reason why he keeps on criticizing the former.

“He wants to be the only kingpin in Iloilo City. But I’m wondering why he did not run for congressman in Iloilo City in 2007 even if he transferred his voter’s registration here,” Gonzalez said.

Drilon also boasted of his numerous projects in Iloilo City when he was still senator, something the Gonzalezes failed to do in their 15 years of rule in the metropolis.

But Gonzalez said he cannot compare himself to Drilon who had bigger pork barrel when he was still in the Senate.

“Senators have bigger pork barrels than congressmen. And they control their own allocation while the House has to make use of whatever is allocated to them,” he said.

Gonzalez said Drilon should show his true spunk by running for Iloilo City mayor and face him in a debate on projects and Iloilo City politics.

“Maybe you should also ask Drilon if any Ilonggo was able to enter his Senate office. During my time at the Department of Justice, anybody can enter even if they are wearing slippers and short pants. I don’t know with Drilon,” he said.

He said Drilon should think first before opening his mouth “because he does not know what he is saying.”

Biron leads fresh batch of Nacionalistas

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE political figures in Iloilo province will join the Nacionalista Party (NP) headed by presidential bet, Sen. Manuel Villar.

Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron (4th district, Iloilo) will lead the latest batch of political leaders who will take their membership oath before Villar at Hotel del Rio today.

Biron said in a phone interview that he will bring the entire 4th district under NP’s umbrella.

“All the mayoral and vice mayoral candidates in the six towns of the 4th district will also join NP. Our two bets to the provincial board will also take oath as Nacionalista members,” Biron said.

Biron said he believes that Villar is the “most qualified, prepared and experienced” presidential bet in 2010.

“Nobody can dispute his experience of rising from poverty and track record as a leader. I believe that every Filipino should have his spirit of hard work and perseverance,” he added.

Biron said it was hard for him to leave the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD which persuaded him to stay.

“It was painful for me but the more honorable thing for me to do is to get out and join the (NP) party. I have been very close to the Villars ever since,” Biron said.

Last Monday, key politicians in the city and province of Iloilo also jumped to NP. Led by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who will run for congressman under the NP banner, the new NP members were vice mayoral candidate, Councilor Jose Espinosa III and councilorables Roberto Divinagracia, Ronnie Firmeza, Edward Yee and Johnny Young also joined NP.

Iloilo Mayor Romulo Cabana of Leon; Antique Mayors Aser Baladjay of Lauan, Bernard Pesayco of Bugasong, Reynante Lim of Caluya; Mayor Arturo Orosco of Sapian, Capiz and Board Members Patricio Gange and Roy Habaña of Guimaras province have jumped to Villar’s group.

Villar earlier said they are in talks with other political leaders in Iloilo province.

When asked if other Ilonggo officials will follow his move, Biron said it is up to his colleagues to decide.

“I cannot preempt anyone in deciding. As of now, we cannot say they might or might not join NP. My decision is independent of other leaders,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico slammed his uncle Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. for accusing the former of delaying the release of the allowance of volunteer health workers (VHWs) in the province.

Suplico said Tupas made the accusation when he addressed the Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO) Day at the Capitol grounds Thursday.

The allowances for VHWs are embodied in the P180-million Supplemental Budget No. 1 requested by Gov. Tupas in October.

The supplemental budget includes the honorarium of day care workers amounting to P3.314 million, BSPOs P4.25 million, barangay health workers P14.756 million; and barangay nutrition scholars P1.692 million.

The supplemental budget is still pending with the committee on appropriations chaired Board Member JR Salcedo.

Suplico said he gave up the appropriations committee because of his heavy workload and political plans.

“I can join the discussion but I cannot vote on any measure because I am not with the committee anymore. I can only vote during the plenary discussion of any appropriations when there is a tie,” he said.  

Suplico said the governor is barking up the wrong tree.

“That’s a lie. I am not a member of the committee on appropriations anymore. And we have been releasing these particular allowances in the last two years,” he added.

Suplico said Tupas is the one guilty of violating the ordinance pertaining to the release of the VHWs’ allowances.

“Gov. Tupas violated the ordinances which directed him to send the allowances to the municipal treasurers who will release the money to VHWs in their respective towns. This was meant to spare the workers of added expenses and effort to go to Iloilo City and claim their allowances from the Capitol,” the vice governor said.

Suplico said Tupas has politicized the release of the allowances by requiring the workers to attend political rallies at the Capitol and Barotac Viejo where his family and allies spoke.

He said the volunteer workers ended up spending part of their allowances on their fares and food in going to the city.

“I call upon to Gov. Tupas to be truthful. It’s bad to lie. The allowances are not your family’s personal funds, but public funds. Don’t fry the volunteer workers in their own lard,” Suplico said.

Comelec, PNP validating risk areas

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP will start identifying so-called election hotspots in the region.

Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec director in Western Visayas, said the move is to prevent another poll-related incident similar to the Maguindanao massacre. As of yesterday, 52 persons were confirmed killed in the gruesome incident.

Ausan said the PNP is helping them validate the lists of possible election areas of concern in the region after these were submitted by provincial and city police offices in Western Visayas to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they will release the final list after they have studied and assessed the reports of their subordinate units.

The list of hotspots is normally made public during the start of the campaign season but the Comelec and the PNP might publicized it early after what happened in Maguindanao.

The election period officially starts January 10, 2010.

Election hotspots are identified in two categories: Category 1 pertains to areas where the possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high; Category 2 areas have a history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and high probability of occurrence of ERVIs with participation of private armed groups and rebel groups.

ERVIs are incidents which could affect or disrupt the electoral proceedings in the area or create a form of political tension that could eventually upset the electoral process, not only in the site of the incident but also in the surrounding areas during election days.

Aside from drawing up the election areas of concern, the PRO-6 is also keeping tabs of politicians who hire private armies and horde illegal firearms.

Cuevas also advised journalists who will cover areas with intense political rivalries to coordinate with the PNP so they can be provided protection.

“The police will be ready to provide them with security personnel if our media practitioners make the request,” Cuevas said.

At least 18 journalists were confirmed killed in the massacre allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan against members of the Mangudadatu family.

The journalists were supposed to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan, Maguindanao who will run for governor versus Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE alliance of candidates from varied political parties in Iloilo City is the antidote to the reign of the so-called triple G in local politics, according to former senator Franklin Drilon.

Drilon, LP national chairman, led the oath taking of Liberal Party members in Iloilo City led by Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog Wednesday.

Mabilog, who will run for mayor, has allied with Mayor Jerry Treñas who will run for congressman under the Nacionalista Party.

Mabilog will run against Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul Gonzalez Sr. while Treñas will face incumbent Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr.

The Gonzalezes are members of the ruling Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Mabilog’s vice mayoral bet is Councilor Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda while Treñas is fielding his brother-in-law Jose Espinosa III for the second highest post in the City Hall.

“It’s triple J (Jerry-Jed-Jam) versus triple G (guns, gold and goons). The alliance of various parties in Iloilo City is an alliance against the politics of intimidation and oppression,” Drilon said.

Mabilog’s slate can be considered a salad of political parties.

Baronda has joined the Partido of Masang Pilipino (PMP) along with their City council bets Erlinda Liberiaga, former Bombo Radyo anchorman Rodel Fullon-Agado and lawyer Plaridel Nava. PMP is the political party of ousted president and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada.

Another “councilorable” under the Mabilog-Baronda tandem is former councilor Joshua Alim who is with PDP-Laban party while Leftist Jory Porquia is with Bayan Muna.   

Mabilog also pledged to support Treñas’ candidacy in the May 2010 elections to continue the politics of change that the mayor initiated in 2001.

“Many local and international investors came into the city because of their trust in our leaders. I promise to continue these changes and development that Mayor Treñas started if ever I am elected mayor,” Mabilog said.

Aside from Mabilog, Councilor Lyndon Acap and lawyer RLeonie Geroche also formally joined LP yesterday.

The oath-taking rites also became a dance party of sorts as supporters and LP stalwarts danced to the tune of the pop dance song “Nobody But You.”

Crossing party lines, Drilon also endorsed the candidacy of Jerry P. Treñas, the NP city chairman, as their common candidate for congressman.    

Treñas appreciated the LP endorsement and said that Drilon is a well-respected leader in the city and in the country.

“It is the beauty of democracy where everyone can run in the elections and it is with distinct pride and honor to be endorsed by Senator Drilon,” Treñas said.

The city mayor said the LP endorsement will not affect his political standing with NP due to the fact that city electorates do not go for straight voting in any election.    

Drilon said straight party voting is not anymore effective in the city. This was confirmed by the results of the 2004 and 2007 elections where Ilonggos voted their leaders from different political parties, he said. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MEMBER of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was shot Tuesday evening in Jaro, Iloilo City.

PO3 Job J. Lujan, 36, of Sitio Little Janiuay, Brgy Tabuc-Suba was wounded in his nose after a gunman shot him with a caliber .38 revolver around 8:30pm the other day.

He was rushed to St. Paul’s Hospital for treatment.

Lujan was standing outside their house gate when he was shot. According to a son of the victim, Lujan was talking to three persons before the incident.

Lujan’s colleagues at the CIDG said the shooting may have something to do with their recent operation against an illegal video karera operator in the city.

Jaro police investigators recovered a live caliber .38 bullet from the crime scene.

Reports from the Iloilo City Police Office identified the gunman as a certain Rusty Jablo of Brgy. Cubay, Jaro.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, ordered the Jaro police and the Iloilo City Mobile Group to chase and arrest Jablo.

MACHINE PISTOL RECOVERED

A BOUNCER of a popular nightspot in Iloilo City turned over a machine pistol to the Mandurrio police Tuesday afternoon.

Glen Erezuela, 28, bouncer of MO2 Ice Bar in Smallville complex called the Mandurriao police to report that an unidentified person left a firearm in his custody.

PO2 Ariel Eres of the Mandurriao PNP went to the area around 2:30pm in response to the call.

Eres then took custody of a caliber .9mm machine pistol with serial number 360495. The gun also bore the markings “Cobrayo, Macio RPB Engram .9mm Military Armament Corp. Marrieta GA  30082 USA.”

The gun, which will be submitted to the Crime Laboratory for ballistic tests, has a steel magazine with Cobrayo marking and seven live bullets.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MEDIA groups and local officials expressed indignation over the November 23 Maguindanao massacre of more than 30 persons including 12 journalists.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it demands justice to the victims of the massacre who were mostly female relatives and associates of a gubernatorial candidate in Maguindanao and reporters from various outlets.

“The Ampatuan massacre, which the military has confirmed, was perpetrated by Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and police Sr. Inspector Dicay, goes beyond the issue of freedom of the press and of expression and strikes at the very foundations of democracy.”

The family and lawyers of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor when they were kidnapped and slain by 100 armed men in Ampatuan town.

The military said the suspects are believed to belong to the group of Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who is planning to run for the governor’s office now occupied by his father Andal Sr.

The NUJP said the massacre reinforces the Philippines’ image not only being the most dangerous country for journalists in the world, outside of Iraq, “but a candidate for a failed democracy.”

“Running for office and voting are as much exercises of free will and expression as covering and reporting the news,’ the group said.

The NUJP added: “We expect nothing less from this government than the swift apprehension and punishment of everyone involved in this gruesome assault on the national body politic, including the masterminds, regardless of who they might be. Anything less would mean that the impunity that has emboldened those who would silence the press, staining this administration with the worst record of murdered journalists, has spread to embolden those who would subvert our democracy for their own selfish interests,” the group said.

Nestor Burgos, NUJP national chair, said the incident should not discourage journalists from doing their work, particularly the 2010 elections.

The Iloilo Police and Defense Press Corps (IPDPC) headed by Nony Basco of ABS-CBN-Iloilo extended its sympathies to journalists who were killed in the massacre.

“We strongly condemn the merciless killings of our media colleagues in Mindanao. We are also calling the government to enforce the full force of law in order to give justice to the victims,” the IPDPC said.

Iloilo media practitioners wore black shirts Tuesday to protest the massacre of Mindanao journalists.

SENSELESS AND INHUMANE

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, who is the chairman of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), also condemned the massacre.

“As chairman of the LCP, I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Maguindanao massacre which affected relatives of politicians and our media practitioners who are innocent and only covered the filing of a certificate of candidacy,” he said.

Treñas said the “senseless and inhumane” incident must be probed deeply and the culprits brought to the hands of the law.

“Politics is part of our democracy and I don’t see any reason why violence should be used. No one has the right to impose political vendetta. We hope that in this election, all senseless political killings will be stopped,” he added.  

Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the massacre is contrary to the principles of democracy and humanity.

“Politics should not be a reason to take anyone’s life, especially women and media practitioners who are only doing their work. We condemn what happened and we commiserate with the families of the victims,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog said the government should use the full force of the law to give justice to the victims and prevent more bloodshed in Mindanao.

“We should not look at political alliances or leanings on this incident. Those who are responsible for what happened should be made to answer so that democracy and compassion for humanity will continue,” he added.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Iloilo headed by Joshua Alim also denounced the massacre especially that two female lawyers – Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo – were among those killed.

Brizuela and Oquendo are members of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and the NUPL.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RAPE and child abuse cases were filed against two suspects who allegedly raped and killed a 16-year-old lass in San Jose, Antique early this year.

Nestor Pagura and Santiago Patiño are facing rape and homicide charges and violation of Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination) before the Antique Provincial Prosecutors Office.

Pagura and Patiño are the prime suspects in the rape-slay of Kirsten Mejica of San Jose, Antique.

Mejica was found half-naked and barely conscious at a vacant lot in Brgy. Funda-Dalipe on January 31. She died a few hours after she was taken to Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital.

Mejica and her boyfriend were on a date at the scene of the incident when the suspects pummeled their heads with a blunt object.

The suspects allegedly raped Mejica and stuffed plastic, sand and wood in her sex organ.

Atty. Mario Sison, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-6) director, Mejica’s boyfriend identified Pagura as one of the suspects.

Sison said the semen found in Mejica’s vagina matched that of Patiño based on the DNA test requested by the NBI.

The NBI also filed extortion charges against a certain Manuel Espartero who tried to mulct Mejica’s family in exchange for the speedy filing of the rape with homicide case.

Villar cites humble beginnings, Ilonggo roots

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

SENATOR Manuel Villar, standard bearer of the Nacionalista Party, pointed out why he is better than his closest rival in the 2010 presidential race.

Villar said he understands poverty in the Philippines compared to his rivals who were born with silver spoons in their mouths as he came from a poor family.

Apparently, Villar was making potshots at Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas who were born to well-off and landed families.

Aquino and Roxas are presently leading poll surveys on the presidential and vice-presidential races.

“I understand poverty that’s why the centerpiece of my platform is to end that poverty gap. We cannot end poverty in six years but we can do a lot by lessening its effects,” Villar said prior to the mass oath-taking of NP members in Western Visayas Monday.

He also cited his leadership and managerial skills, highlighting his stint as a former House Speaker and Senate President.

Villar claimed that he is the only political leader after World War 2 who was elected to head both chambers of Congress.

Because of his political experience and achievements, Villar said he will not waste his time learning the ropes of governance.

“There is no more time for on the job training. We must hit the ground running and working as we have a lot of things to be done,” he said.

One issue raised against Aquino is his experience and capability to handle the Office of the President given his lackluster performance as a 3-term congressman and senator.

Villar also questioned his rivals if who among them love the Ilonggos like he does.

“This is the only chance for Ilonggos to have their very own president. Now is the time for an Ilonggo president,” he said.

The NP standard bearer traces his descent to Cabatuan and Iloilo City as his grandfather and father are Ilonggos.

Villar also extolled his own mother who worked hard to raise them from poverty. It was an apparent effort to compare her to former President Corazon Aquino whose death and the consequent outpouring of sympathies from the nation catapulted Sen. Aquino to the presidential race.

“My mother sold shrimps in Tondo to raise nine children. There are times when we have no money for our tuition fees and food but she kept on working. Now that we have a better life, she shirks from spending the money we give her. She is not used to spending too much money. I see problems of the poor in my mother, the problems of people who don’t have good-sounding last names. If a mother’s integrity is the basis to be elected as president, then I am sure that my mother has more integrity,” he added.

As regards the recent polls survey, Villar said Aquino’s lead went down from a high of 40% to 17% only.

“The euphoria (over Pres. Aquino’s death) has gone down and people are asking what he can do when he governs,” Villar said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who will run for congressman under NP banner, also cited a recent survey he commissioned.

The survey, which has a 5% margin of error, showed Aquino ahead of Villar by 3 percentage points only.

“Sen. Aquino has 34% while Sen. Villar got 31%. If we consider the margin of error, they are statistically tied. That is why we in Iloilo City must make sure that Sen. Villar will win,” Treñas said.

 

 

 

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Nacionalista Party (NP) continues to strengthen its hold in the city and province of Iloilo and the rest of Western Visayas by wooing top Ilonggo leaders to its fold.

NP president and standard bearer, Sen. Manuel Villar, said they are in talks with more prominent political leaders in Iloilo who are members of other parties.

First to jump from Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD was Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who formally joined the NP Monday, taking his membership oath before Villar at Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center.

Treñas will run for Iloilo City congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. of the administration party.

Aside from Treñas, Councilor Jose Espinosa III, Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia, Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office head Ronnie Firmeza and businessmen Edward Yee and Johnny Young also joined NP.

Espinosa will run for Iloilo City vice mayor while Divinagracia, Yee and Young will run for councilors under Treñas’ group.

Other prominent leaders who took their membership oath with NP were Iloilo Mayors Romulo Cabana of Leon, Matt Palabrica of Bingawan; Antique Mayors Aser Baladjay of Lauan, Bernard Pesayco of Bugasong, Reynante Lim of Caluya; Mayor Arturo Orosco of Sapian, Capiz and Board Members Patricio Gange and Roy Habaña of Guimaras province.

A total of 300 political candidates and party leaders joined the mass oath-taking Monday.

Joining Villar in the mass oath-taking were members of the NP senatorial slate – Gilbert Remulla, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Martin Querubin representing Marine Col. Ariel Querubin.

NP spokesperson and former congressman Gilbert Remulla said they continue to reach out to Iloilo congressman to convince them to join NP.

Among the officials being wooed by NP are House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. (3rd district), Reps. Jeanette L. Garin (1st district) and Ferjenel G. Biron (4th district) who are all Lakas members.

“They are all good friends of Sen. Villar and we hope that they will join NP in the coming days,” Remulla said.

PATCHING UP

Meanwhile, Remulla said they are talking to the Makabayan group of partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo who threatened to leave their tactical alliance with NP following the entry of Rep. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Ocampo, a victim of human rights abuses during Martial Law under former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and Rep. Liza Masa of Gabriela are seeking Senate seats next year.

One of the conditions laid down by the group of Ocampo is for Villar to pursue corruption and human rights violation cases not only against Marcos but other past administrations as well.

Mr. Remulla said they are confident that Ocampo and Masa will reach a common ground relative to their coalition.

“Sen. Villar respects the independence of the courts. He will let the courts work without his interference. We want to focus really on our commonalities, rather on the differences. We want to heal the wounds of the past. Madami ng mga sugat na hindi pa rin gumagaling e. Let us heal that by resolving this problem as soon as possible,” Remulla said.

Villar said that while he respects the ongoing court cases against the human rights violations and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family, he advocates national healing and unity to further his programs and policies.

“I will not interfere with the judiciary relative to the Marcos cases. I will respect the decision of the court to ensure that justice will be served to all parties involved,” Mr. Villar said.

Marcos said he is comfortable working with Ocampo’s group.

“We coalesced with NP because we are comfortable with Sen. Villar’s visions. We did not lay down any condition. I don’t mind allying with Rep. Ocampo,” Marcos said.

Marcos said he did not raise any issue against NP’s alliance with the leftist groups as he sees no problem working with them.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) turned on human rights groups who are against the random drug testing on students.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA-6 director, questioned why human rights groups are opposing drug tests in schools when these cannot be considered violations of human rights.

Ledesma said the proliferation of illegal drugs is a threat to national security which must be confronted with resolve.

“One of the solutions is to conduct random drug tests in schools to prevent the youth from using illegal drugs. The young people are the main target of drug syndicates,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma also urged private institutions and organizations to adopt their internal drug control policy for their own welfare.

The policy will also prevent human rights groups from intervening in random drug tests and other anti-illegal drugs measures of private and public institutions.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Department of Health (DOH) have started conducting this month random drug tests on students in Region 6.

Dr. Rex Casiple, CHEd regional office officer-in-charge, said random tests began among students in Aklan and Antique provinces since October 16.

This week, CHEd-DOH teams conducting the tests would be in Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Capiz and Guimaras.

Health and education officials would conduct the testing in 64 schools in Western Visayas – 30 in Panay Island and 34 in Negros Occidental.

Tests were also conducted in five universities in Iloilo City last November 9.

The testing complies with the national government’s directive to heighten the government’s campaign to ensure that all public and private high schools and colleges are drug-free.

The CHEd-DOH teams pick out randomly 10 students from each school from the list of students prepared by school officials. Those tagged for the tests were required to get their parents’ written permission.

The test results are confidential and the results would be forwarded to the CHEd’s national office.

Latest data from PDEA show that 150,000 persons are using illegal drugs in Western Visayas out of the 6.7 million users in the country. (With reports from Bombo Radyo-Iloilo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 50 officers of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) underwent random drug testing Monday morning.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, led the 56 police commissioned and non-commissioned officers in submitting their urine samples to PNP Crime Laboratory personnel at the ICPO conference room starting 8am.

Insp. Herbert A. Tunac, Insp. Maria Cecilia H. Gonzales and SPO1 Ruben T. Bonaobra of the Crime Lab conducted the random drug test.

Of the 56 police personnel who underwent the test, 12 are police commissioned officers (with ranks of Inspector to Senior Superintendent.

A total of 44 police non-commissioned officers (with ranks of Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4) underwent the drug test.

Mongcal said the purpose of the random drugs is to ensure that police officers are not drug users.

“We hope to correct the notion that there are some members of the Philippine National Police who are allegedly using illegal drugs,” Mongcal added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Supreme Court affirmed its decision to dismiss five court sheriffs for illegally confiscating and auctioning 675 heads of pigs from a hog farm in Banate, Iloilo sometime in 2007.

In its decision dated October 13, 2009, the SC junked the motion for reconsideration filed by sheriffs Rolando Somosa, Edgar Cordero and Rodolfo Jaro of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities and Gani Lacatan and Camilo Divinagracia Jr. of the Regional Trial Court.

The SC said it found no reason to reverse its August 13, 2009 en banc decision to dismiss the five sheriffs.

The sheriffs were charged with grave abuse of authority amounting to grave misconduct for confiscating and auctioning 675 heads of pigs from a hog farm in Banate, Iloilo sometime in 2007.

The latest SC order makes the sheriffs’ dismissal final and executory. They stand to lose all their benefits and privileges, except accrued leave credits.

The confiscation of the pigs stemmed from a bouncing checks case filed against Mary Ann Ng, president and CEO of Nueva Swine Valley Inc., by Lita Gamboa representing Keylargo Commodities Trading before the MTCC Branch 2 in Bacolod City court.

The sheriffs carried out the order of the MTCC-Bacolod City to levy Ng’s properties when she failed to comply with the agreement that she will pay Keylargo through post-dated checks.

The MTCC issued on August 4, 2006 a writ of execution requiring Ng to pay her liabilities and to levy her properties if she failed to pay.

The Iloilo sheriffs were directed to serve a copy of the writ of execution to Ng at the Nueva Swine farm in Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate.

When the sheriffs arrived on May 31, 2007, Ng was not present. They confiscated 675 heads of pigs and delivered them to Keylargo for safekeeping.

Ng’s legal counsel Hector Teodosio acquired a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) from RTC Branch 66 in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, barring the removal, transfer and disposal of the pigs from the farm.

The TRO was later extended to 20 days by the RTC.

Despite the TRO, the sheriffs auctioned the pigs June 5, 2007 at the Victorias Milling Corporation farm site in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

Teodosio later filed a complaint before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), questioning the manner the writ of execution was implemented.

Dr. Matis Donglal Jr., Nueva Swine production manager and veterinarian, claimed that the sheriffs ordered the slaughter and roasting of one pig.

The SC upheld the findings of the executive judge of the Iloilo RTC and the OCA that the sheriffs violated procedures under the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure governing the implementation of execution of judgments for money.

But while both the investigations recommended the suspension of the sheriffs for six months without pay, the high court upgraded the penalty.

“The recommendations…that respondents be suspended from the service for six months without pay are not commensurate to the gross misconduct committed. Their act of appropriation is a grave offense that may even subject them to criminal prosecution,” the SC said in the August 13 decision.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will mount an information drive relative to its plan to tax campaign expenses of political parties and candidates during the 2010 elections.

In an interview with cable TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Commission of Elections (Comelec) regional director Dennis Ausan said the BIR will brief candidates and parties as regards the 5% campaign tax.

Ausan said the 5% campaign tax is in keeping with the three-decade-old provision of the National Internal Revenue Code.

The 5% campaign tax is embodied in BIR’s Revenue Regulations 8-2009 issued in October 2009, which amended RR 2-98 and imposed a creditable withholding tax (CWT) of 5 percent on the following:

–         Income payments made by political parties and candidates of local and national elections of all their campaign expenditures; and

–         Income payments made by individuals or juridical persons for their purchases of goods and services intended to be given as campaign contribution to political parties and candidates. 

The withholding agents who will collect the 5% tax are “all individuals, juridical persons and political parties, with respect to their income payments made as campaign expenditures and/or purchase of goods and services intended as campaign contributions.”

“The BIR will require parties and candidates, including the independents, to register as withholding agents who will collect the 5% campaign tax,” Ausan said.

While Republic Act 7166 (Synchronized Elections Law) provides that campaign donations reported to the Comelec are not subject to gift or donors tax, Ausan said the 5% tax will only cover income payment to third parties such as tarpaulin printers and broadcast and print media.

For example, if a party or candidate pays P110 (P100 cost + P10 income/profit) to a tarpaulin printer, the party or candidate will withhold the 5% tax on the P10 income and remit the same to the BIR.

“The tax will not be exacted on campaign contributions but on income payments for election related materials and services. It is up to the BIR to explain to political parties and candidates how this new regulation works,” Ausan said.

Ausan said the Comelec will provide BIR the list of candidates and political parties and their statements of contributions and expenses submitted to the poll body.

PREMATURE CAMPAIGNING

Meanwhile, Ausan advised candidates who already filed their certificates of candidacy to remove any material or advertisement that are laden with campaign messages.

“All bloctime programs, streamers and banners that campaign for or against any candidate must be removed lest they will face disqualification and criminal cases,” Ausan said.

Ausan said the Comelec central office will issue the rules and regulations as regards premature campaigning.

“If there is a banner of a candidate found hanging in a public place, we will write that candidate asking him or her to remove the material within three days or else they will face charges,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THEY may belong to different parties but they consider each other allies in the 2010 elections.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will formally join the Nacionalista Party today while Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is set to join the Liberal Party.

Treñas said he was supposed to take his membership oath before NP head, Sen. Manuel Villar Saturday but it was moved to today.

Treñas, who will run for congressman next year, said Councilor Jose Espinosa III, Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia, businessman Edward Yee and Johnny Young will also join NP.

Espinosa will run for vice mayor under Treñas’ banner while Divinagracia, Yee and Young will gun for seats in the City Council.

Treñas, who will run against incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said he is also in talks with other potential council bets.

Mabilog said he is still awaiting final instructions from the LP executive committee as regards his membership.

Mabilog will run for mayor against Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.

His running mate is City Councilor Julienne Baronda who will run for vice mayor.

Despite their different choices for vice mayor, Treñas said he will support Mabilog as city mayor.

The conflict over a common choice for the vice mayoral race has been the cause of delay in the forging of the Treñas-Mabilog tandem.

Eventually, they chose their own bets and went ahead with the alliance.

Artech admits contract with Ileco-3 defective

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

NO less than the vice president of Applied Research Technologies Phils. (Artech) admitted that their power supply agreement (PSA) with Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) is flawed.

Atty. Ramil Naciongayo, counsel for complainants Gerardo P. Panes and Evelyn P. Peñaflor, said Artech vice president for administration and business development Domingo Beltran admitted the defects in the 25-year contract before the National Electrification Administration (NEA) investigation committee looking into the alleged bribery and onerous provisions of the Artech-Ileco 3 contract signed last April 21, 2009 in Iloilo City.

The story hugged the headlines after Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza claimed that he received cash-laden envelope from Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. during a meeting with Artech officials at the governor’s house last April 17.

The cash, Baldoza assumed, was meant to facilitate the negotiations and approval of the power supply agreement offered by Artech.

Naciongayo said Atty. Xerxes Adzuara, NEA probe committee chair, discovered the flaw when they went over Beltran’s affidavit.

Beltran claimed in his affidavit that the contract is beneficial to Ileco 3 because Artech will construct the transmission facility to link the cooperative to the power producer’s proposed diesel and biomass plants.

Beltran said Artech will shoulder the construction so that Ileco 3 will not charge transmission fees on its consumers. The cooperative will only maintain the transmission facility.

But Section 9.2 of the PSA provides that Ileco 3 will construct and maintain the transmission facility.

Beltran told the panel that they are willing to amend the contract in keeping with Artech’s commitment to put up the facility.

He added that Artech prepared the contract which the Ileco 3 board later approved and signed through Baldoza.

Naciongayo said the defect only shows that the Ileco 3 directors did not study the contract which Artech prepared and offered to them.

“The board did not study the contract before approving it because they missed the discrepancy between what was agreed verbally during the negotiation and what is written in the contract. Had they taken time to read the provisions, they could have found it beforehand. And Beltran admitted that there was a flaw in the contract,” Naciongayo said.

IS ARTECH CAPABLE?

Naciongayo also pointed out the conflicting interpretation of Beltran and the contract on when the agreement will take effect.

Section 3.3 of the PSA provides that the contract shall become effective upon its execution and when the plant is ready to deliver electricity.

But Beltran told the NEA panel that commercial operations will only start once the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the PSA.

Beltran said they have yet to submit the PSA to the ERC because it is Ileco 3’s job.

Naciongayo said Beltran’s interpretation of the contract’s effectivity is disadvantageous to the cooperative as it will be at the mercy of Artech.

“What if Artech does not do anything? Ileco 3 will be left hanging and that will endanger the power needs of its consumers,” the lawyer said.

Naciongayo also cited Artech’s contract with Capiz Electric Cooperative (Capelco) which took seven years to commence.

He said the Artech-Capelco contract was signed in 2001 but it was only approved in 2008.

Artech later formed another corporation, Enervantage, by partnering with a prominent family in Capiz in order to fulfill its contract with Capelco.

“Right now, Artech has no contract with Capelco, its Enervantage. This is a question of Artech’s capability to deliver its commitment,” Naciongayo said.

NO DISCOUNT

Naciongayo also hit Beltran’s justification before the NEA panel why Artech did not include the prompt payment discount in the 25-year PSA.

“Mr. Beltran said the discount is just a decoration in supply contracts as they have not encountered any cooperative that pays their bill within the 3-day period. In this case, Artech is assuming that Ileco 3 cannot pay its bills on time. Artech actually does not trust the cooperative to fulfill its part of the contract. So why is Artech doing business with Ileco 3 if there is no trust and confidence between them,” he said.

The discount, which is usually pegged at 3%, is an incentive to cooperatives that pay their suppliers within three days upon receipt of the monthly billing. The discount is a feature of power supply contracts to encourage power distributors to pay their suppliers promptly.

BALDOZA CONFESSION

Last Tuesday Ileco 3 board President Baldoza admitted before the NEA panel that Gov. Tupas gave him money in exchange for his approval of Artech’s offer.

Naciongayo said he suggested to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to secure copies of the transcript of Baldoza’s admission.

He said the transcript could be a basis for the filing of criminal cases against personalities involved in the Artech-Ileco 3 bribery scandal.

“The NBI said they will request the NEA administration committee to provide the transcript of Baldoza’s admission. The NBI has been investigating this case as regards the bribery angle,” Naciongayo said.

Naciongayo said there is also a chance that the 25-year PSA might be rescinded or annulled because of the onerous provisions.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) board president Mateo Baldoza, a former court judge, has no credibility, according to Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr.

This was Tupas’ reaction to Baldoza’s admission that the governor gave him an envelope with cash inside to favor independent power producer, Applied Research Technologies Phils. Inc., (Artech).

The alleged bribery, Baldoza told the National Electrification Administration investigating committee, happened April 17 during a meeting with Artech officials at Tupas’ mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Tupas said in an interview with Bombo Radyo that Baldoza has no credibility because he kept changing his statements.

“At first he claimed that I gave him money then denied it. Now, he is saying that I did it. He always changes his story. He has no more credibility,” Tupas said.

The governor said Baldoza is the only person claiming that there was bribery in the Ileco 3-Artech deal while the other directors have nothing to say.

Tupas said Baldoza is being used by persons who want to besmirch his name and reputation as the 2010 election period nears.

“The election fever is here and these are just efforts by some groups to malign me. I pity Baldoza,” he said.

Tupas had admitted summoning Ileco 3 and Artech officials to a meeting in his house to discuss the looming power crisis in the cooperative’s franchise area.

But the governor denied handing out money to the Ileco 3 directors.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GO renewable, get tax perks.

The Iloilo City Council approved Wednesday an ordinance that entitles residents using renewable energy to real property tax (RPT) incentive.

The ordinance seeks to encourage households to use renewable sources of energy in exchange for 20% discount on RPT payments.

Councilor Eldrid C. Antiquiera, author of the ordinance, said the measure is in keeping with the country’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol which seeks to minimize global carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate global warming.

“This ordinance shall cover incentive on real property tax imposed on residential units where renewable energy as a source of electric power is used or consumed,” Antiquiera said.

 Antiquiera said households can avail the RPT discount regardless of the capacity or volume of renewable energy consumed.

According to the ordinance, those qualified for the tax perks are households who own (in whole or in part) and lease/rent residential units as classified by the Iloilo City Planning Office.

Applications for the tax incentives must be submitted to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) which shall coordinate with the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) which shall inspect if a house is using renewable energy sources and issue a certification of compliance to the applicant.

The household owner must present the certification and an endorsement from CENRO to the City Treasurer’s Office to avail of the 20% discount.

The house owner must renew its application every year to continue availing the tax perk.

The 20% RPT discount is non-transferable, the ordinance states. 

Aside from environmental benefits, Antiquiera said the measure will also reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels such as oil.

“To a certain degree, we can help reduce our oil imports and the savings can be used for social and infrastructure programs,” Antiquiera added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THERE’S a 50-50 chance that Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Augusto Syjuco will reclaim his old seat in the 2nd congressional district of Iloilo.

Syjuco said one of the factors that might compel him to run for congressman in 2010 is the health of his wife, incumbent Rep. Judy Jalbuena-Syjuco.

Syjuco said the congresswoman underwent hip surgery recently which affected her mobility.

“Her condition will definitely be a factor. But we have not decided yet. Everything is still 50-50 as of this time. Rep. Syjuco is getting stronger by the day,” he said.

Syjuco was reportedly being eyed to run for Senator under the Partido Lakas-Kampi-CMD but he was not included in the slate during the party’s national convention Thursday.

Executive Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday said Syjuco will quit Tesda to run for congressman in the 2nd district.

Political observers said Syjuco will run because of the candidacy of Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta and Ramoncito “Citoy” Arenas for congressmen.

But Syjuco said he is not threatened by Gorriceta and Arenas even as he taunted the capabilities of his potential rivals.

“I guess the Arenases should do some studying first because they have many things to know about the 2nd district. Imagine Mr. Arenas saying that Pototan is in the 2nd district when it is in the 3rd district. He also said that Panay Electric Co. is the distributor of power in our district when it’s Iloilo Electric Cooperative,” he said.

Syjuco added that Arenas is more of a threat to the people of the 2nd district than to his political career.

As regards Gorriceta, Syjuco said the mayor is losing Pavia to Lucille Villanueva.

Villanueva’s name surfaced as Syjuco’s mayoral bet in Pavia when candles bearing her name and the Syjuco couple were distributed in the town last All Souls’ and Saints’ Days.

ON MEJORADA

Syjuco also clarified his side on the exclusion of Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada from the voters’ list of Alimodian, Iloilo.

Mejorada accused Syjuco of instigating Ireneo Mondero to destroy the former’s nipa hut at Brgy. Pajo, Alimodian and to file the exclusion case to prevent the capitol executive from running in the 2nd district.

“I admit that Ireneo Mondero is my friend for 13 years. But our friendship is not the issue but Boy Mejorada’s debt to Mondero. The reason why his so-called house was destroyed is that he failed to pay for the lot of Mondero,” he added.

Syjuco also described Mejorada as an “aswang” (flesh-eating ghoul) for transferring his address from one place to another.

“He flew from Capiz to Sta. Barbara but he never landed. He transferred to Pavia but he was excluded. He tried to go to Alimodian but he was also excluded.”

Mejorada initially hurdled past the exclusion case filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC)-Aleosan.

But the Regional Trial Court reversed the MCTC’s decision and ordered Mejorada’s deletion from the voters’ list of Brgy. Pajo.

In an interview with Bombo Radyo-Iloilo, Mejorada said the Syjucos should allow him to run if they don’t perceive him as a threat to their rule in the 2nd district.

Mejorada said he does not mind being called an aswang because it connotes that he is a genuine Ilonggo.

“The Syjucos landed on Iloilo from Makati,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HALF a century of history and memories were lost after more than 40 pieces of various tree species were cut to give way to the second vehicular flyover along Gen. Luna Street, Iloilo City.

A total of 42 trees, including 12 old grown pine trees, were turned to stumps when personnel of the City Engineer’s Office cleared the center island of the street starting from the University of San Agustin.

Other tree species that were cut down include eucalyptus, gmelina and mahogany, according to Punong Barangay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin village.

Divinagracia said the pine trees were part of Iloilo’s history since these were planted sometime in 1955 right after the construction of Gen. Luna Street.

Divinagracia said the fallen trees are stockpiled near their barangay hall and will be made into furniture and other items they could use.

“During December, some of these trees grow red flowers and are decorated with lights and ornaments. These trees evoked fond memories among former students of San Agustin and old Ilonggo residents. But these had to be cut to give way to development,” he said.

Iloilo City Jerry P. Treñas said the trees will be replaced by planting more trees in the Maasin watershed.

“For every tree that was cut, three more will be planted as replacement,” he said.

Treñas said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which will undertake the flyover project, consulted the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) as regards the cutting of trees.

“The DPWH sought clearance from the DENR and CENRO before cutting the trees and that was granted,” the mayor said.

Bernabe Garnace, CENRO-Iloilo City chief, said they allowed cutting of the General Luna trees as the species involved are not endangered or regulated by the DENR.

As regards the rehabilitation of Gen. Luna Street, Treñas said the CENRO and city nursery have started a seedling bed of pine trees which will be planted along the highway stretch.

The mayor said the old pine trees were found to have hollow trunks already and should be cut down to pave the way for the planting of new trees.

Gen. Luna Street, which connects Iloilo City proper to Molo and Arevalo district, was the first concrete highway built in Western Visayas during the time of the late mayor Rodolfo T. Ganzon.

Built along the swamp lands near the Iloilo River, the highway was planted with pine trees and ornamental plants in the center aisles to aesthetic color to the avenue. 

The road soon ushered development in the southern part of the city as commercial buildings, schools and posh residences sprouted along the highway. (With reports from Lydia C. Pendon)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR fraternity members are suspects in the death of a teenager in Leganes, Iloilo a week ago.

C/Insp. Rogelio N. Ortigas, Leganes police chief, said a witness surfaced and testified that he saw four persons come out of the Leganes cemetery where victim Roland Heria was found dead November 10.

Ortigas said they have the names of the suspects, who are members of the Zigrab fraternity in Leganes, but refused to identify them pending the filing of the case.

Heria, 18, was found hanging inside the Leganes cemetery in the morning of November 10. He is a native of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo but stays with his uncle while studying at the Leganes National High School.

The Leganes police initially ruled suicide in Heria’s case but the autopsy showed that the victim died of massive blows to his head and chest.

Investigators also found blood in a tomb near the area where Heria was found.

Ortigas said they need more witnesses who will pin down the suspects as they only have circumstantial evidence.

“The first witness to come out only saw the suspects come out of the cemetery but we need someone who knew or saw the crime,” he added.

Ortigas said two of the suspects are brothers – one is involved in a homicide case in Dumangas, Iloilo while another is facing robbery charge.

The police chief said fraternity rivalry might be the motive in Heria’s death.

Heria was once a member of the suspects’ fraternity but he later transferred to another group, the SBR fraternity, Ortigas added.

“We hope to reach more witnesses who can shed light on what happened so we can file cases against the suspects,” Ortigas said.

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