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2 dead, 4 wounded in four heists

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

INCIDENTS of robbery-holdup in the city and province of Iloilo surged in the final days of 2009.

The latest victim was Alfonso Uy Jr., an egg trader from Passi City who was shot to death at Brgy. Agdahon Wednesday morning.

Uy and his three helpers were on their way back to Passi City proper from Calinog when 16 unidentified suspects onboard 8 motorcycles accosted them at Brgy. Agdahon.

The police said Erwin Alarba and John Paul Gardoce of the Alarba robbery-holdup group led the suspects. 

One of the suspects then shot Uy in the head resulting in his death. The robbers took away an estimated P20,000 cash and two cellphones from the victim.

On Monday morning, two unidentified suspects also tried to rob Gina Pedregoza also at Brgy. Agdahon. The suspects onboard a motorcycle blocked Pedregoza’s path and declared the heist. But Pedregoza fought off the robbers who shot her in her feet.

The suspects, who failed to get their targeted loot, fled from the crime scene.

Uriel Junio, a native of Misamiz Occidental and collector of a lending firm based in Negros Occidental died in the hands of a robber at Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

Junio died of multiple stab wounds in his back and chest, according to the Jaro police.

Police investigation showed that Junio was driving his motorcycle near the Jaro small market at Brgy. Simon Ledesma when his unidentified back rider stabbed him repeatedly.

The suspect took away P30,000 and Junio’s two cellular phones. 

On December 26, a barangay captain from Bacolod City was wounded when robbers attacked his group in front of the Pototan public market.

Punong Barangay Marianito Yelo of Brgy. 35, Bacolod City and his helper Joselito Teñoso were having coffee at the market before buying pork.

Moments later, three persons approached Yelo and Teñoso and declared the heist. The suspects then shot Yelo’s shoulder and Teñoso’s body.

But the gunfire caught the attention of bystanders forcing the suspects to flee. Yelo’s P700,000 cash was intact.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they have identified the suspects in the heist, especially in the case of Alfonso Uy Jr.

Gumban said the robbers may have struck again after several months of hiatus to earn money for the holiday season.

Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. ordered the IPPO to arrest the suspects in the robberies before they could wreak more havoc.

But Tupas has yet to issue a statement on the involvement of his political ally, Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, in the shooting to death of businessman Carmelino Bachoco last December 25.

Bachoco’s cousin, Rally Beljera, tagged Cabangal’s son Peter Paul as the gunman in the incident.

Beljera said Mayor Cabangal was present when Peter Paul shot him and Bachoco some 200 meters from the town’s police station.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WESTERN Visayas’ top cop sees nothing wrong if police officials in Iloilo City receive money from a politician as long as they don’t pocket the cash.

This was the reaction of Chief Supt. Isagani R. Cuevas, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6), to reports that ranking officials of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) received cash from Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. last week.

Among those who went to Gonzalez’s home were ICPO Director Melvin Mongcal and the chiefs of the seven district police stations in the city.

Reports said the police officials received P20,000 cash from Gonzalez during the meeting-cum-Christmas party.  

The report ruffled the feathers of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas who is now mulling a revamp of the ICPO hierarchy.

Treñas, who will run for congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said police officials should refrain from accepting gifts from politicians as these might affect their performance and decisions.

Treñas said he might seek the revamp before the election season begins next month.

But Cuevas said any public official can summon police officers to discuss peace and order matters.

“Public officials like Sec. Gonzalez can meet our officers to give instructions pertaining to peace and order such as illegal drugs and petty crimes. Any public official can do so,” Cuevas said.

As regards the report that ICPO officials received cash, Cuevas said he assumes that the money might be a form of logistical support to the police stations.

“Maybe the money was intended for fuel and other expenses. The station chiefs will have to make liquidation report on how they spent the money given to them,” he said.

But it would be a different story if police officials used the money for personal benefit.

“That’s against our policy especially that we are approaching election season. We prohibit our officers from accepting gifts from politicians,” Cuevas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE sole witness tagged a town mayor’s son as the gunman who shot to death a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day.

Rally Beljera, a cousin and worker of slain trader Carmelino Bachoco, pointed to Peter Paul Cabangal, a son of Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, as the one who shot them.

C/Insp. Herbert Ballego, Banate police chief, said Beljera told them what happened in the evening of December 25.

Ballego quoted Beljera as saying that he and Bachoco were on their way home when a motorcycle overtook and stopped several meters ahead.

Beljera claimed that he saw Carlo Cabangal, another son of Mayor Cabangal, driving the motorcycle while Peter Paul was the back rider.

The witness also saw Mayor Cabangal, his son Jerson Cabangal and several identified persons following behind them.

Beljera said he saw Peter Paul draw a gun and shoot Bachoco in the chest and head.

When the rice trader fell, Peter Paul allegedly trained his pistol at Beljera and fired.

Beljera said he quickly escaped when a bullet grazed his abdomen and left his cousin who was already on the ground.

Ballego said Beljera was not sure if there was another gunman or if Bachoco was able to retaliate at their attackers.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body from what is believed to be two gun calibers, according to the autopsy report of the PNP Criminal Laboratory.

The autopsy report said Bachoco were wounded by bullets compatible with a caliber .45 ammunition and a lower caliber gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson Cabangal were also wounded in the incident. Peter Paul remains at-large, the Banate police said.

The police recovered empty shells of caliber .45 bullets, a caliber .45 pistol near Bachoco’s body and a magazine inside the victim’s pocket.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they are awaiting Beljera’s official statement before they could file charges against the suspect or suspects.

“He has to subscribe to his affidavit so we can use this in the filing of charges,” Gumban said.

An old grudge over the demolition of Bachoco’s business establishment is believed to be the motive behind the shooting incident.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting its own probe on the incident and summoned the police officers who responded to the incident.

The NBI is also looking into an altercation between Bachoco and Peter Paul last December 23.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE proposal to convert provincial and district hospitals into economic enterprise is another stumbling block to the passage of the Iloilo provincial government’s P1.3-billion budget for 2010.

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said they need more time to study the executive department’s proposal to turn the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan town and 5 district hospitals into income-generating entities.

Suplico said the proposal is included in the 2010 budget which he finds strange as they have yet to pass a provincial ordinance allowing the conversion of the hospitals into economic enterprises.

“It’s already in the 2010 budget which is a case of putting the cart before the horse. We don’t have an ordinance on economic enterprises yet. So we need to study this proposal carefully before we can approve the 2010 budget,” Suplico said.

Suplico said the provincial will have to operate on a reenacted budget until they have passed a new budget next year.

The vice governor said provincial Board Members Rodolfo Cabado, June Mondejar and Shalene Hidalgo, who are sympathetic to Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr., agreed to study further the proposed economic enterprise.

The opposition dominated Sangguniang Panlalawigan is wary that Tupas’ proposal will deprive poor patients of health services if hospitals charge fees on all services offered.

Suplico said provincial and district hospitals are supposed to help the poor, not earn profit from their operations.

Earlier, Board Member Arthur R. Defensor Jr., vice chair of the committee on appropriations, said they have no time left to pass the 2010 budget because the extra cash gift and allowances of volunteer health workers consumed their remaining session days.

In a statement, Provincial Administrator Manuel P. Mejorada said money-making is not the ultimate purpose of the plan to convert hospitals into economic enterprises.

“What the province hopes to achieve is empower our hospitals to become self-sustaining enterprises that can vastly improve their infrastructure and medical facilities to better serve the Ilonggo people. The concept of economic enterprises is enshrined in the Local Government Code of 1991. Local government unites are encouraged to embark on income generating activities to help raise revenues aside from taxes,” Mejorada said.

Mejorada said hospitals “will invest in private rooms, state-of-the-art equipment, well-trained hospital staff and efficient laboratories so that patients who can afford the services will patronize them.”

Such upgrading will require heavy investments, and the cost can be recovered through the long term with revenues generated from paying patients.

Poor patients will still enjoy affordable or free hospital services as the expected rise in income will help shoulder the cost for charity services.

2 guns used in rice trader’s slay

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO different firearms may have been used in the shooting to death of a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day, according to the PNP autopsy reports.

Dr. Owen Libaquin, PNP medico legal officer, said Carmelino Bachoco of Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate died of eight gunshot wounds in his body and head.

Based on sizes of the victim’s wounds, Libaquin surmised that Bachoco was shot with two different guns compatible with a caliber .45 pistol and a firearm of lower caliber.

The medico legal officer said the shooter or shooters were at an elevated position as the bullet wounds followed a downward direction.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body while a bullet only grazed his head.

The police only recovered a caliber .45 pistol and 16 empty shells of caliber .45 bullets.

The main suspects in Bachoco’s death are Banate Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his sons Jerson and Peter Paul.

The shooting incident happened past 10pm of December 25 at the Banate town proper, some 200 meters from the police station.

According to police reports, Bachoco was on his way home on board the trisikad of his worker Rally Beljera when the Cabangals allegedly chased him.

The Cabangals claimed that Bachoco was first to draw his gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson were wounded in their feet. How? The police are still looking.

Beljera, who was also wounded in the shooting, is considered a witness in the incident by the police.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo provincial police director, said Beljera has issued his statement on the incident.

“Once the witness is well, we can have him review his statement so he can subscribe and sign his affidavit,” Gumban said.

Bachoco reportedly had an axe to grind with Mayor Cabangal when the latter ordered the demolition of his store in Banate reclamation area.

The Cabangals cannot be reached for comments.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A BEEF stew laced with a chemical used in bleaching laundry killed a woman and downed 14 others in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo Sunday evening.

Elizabeth Borsillo, 27, of Brgy. Balibagan Oeste, Santa Barbara died after eating pochero (beef stew with banana and other vegetables) prepared by another victim Nelida Mabal, 61 also of the said village.

According to Mayor Isabelo Maquino of Sta. Barbara, Mabal prepared the deadly stew to feed those who attended the wake of a relative of one of the victims.

Maquino said they received reports that Mabal seasoned the broth with oxalic acid, which is used in cleaning or bleaching laundry, after mistaking the chemical for salt.

Oxalic acid is used as a cleaning agent, especially for the removal of rust or removal of iron from minerals specimens. It is corrosive and toxic to humans.

Borsillo did not make it to the Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) when she fainted minutes after eating the deadly dish.

The other victims aside from Borsillo and Mabal are Gaudiosa Sumalaay, 49, Justine Sinoro, 11, Jade Sinoro, 8, Edwin Martinez, Philip Tubola, 30, Nenita Tubolo, John Iron Tubola, Rowela Serilo, Baby Serilo, Felix Solinap, Candelaria Sinoro, Leticia Subong and Ponce Tubolo all of Brgy. Balibagan Oeste.

A total of 11 victims are confined at RTMDH while 3 are recuperating at the Iloilo Doctors Hospital.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo provincial government will operate on a reenacted budget next year as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has no time left to pass the 2010 executive budget before 2009 ends.

Board Member Arthur R. Defensor Jr., vice chair of the committee on appropriations, said the extra bonus and allowances of volunteer health workers (VHW) consumed the time of the SP the past weeks.

Defensor said the SP cannot hold sessions and hearings on the 2010 budget in the remaining days of 2009.

The SP held marathon hearings the whole month of December to rush the passage of two supplemental budgets and a budget augmentation for the VHWs’ honorarium and the P50,000 cash gift of capitol regular and casual employees.

The provincial board held its last session for the year December 21 wherein the appropriation ordinance for the VHWs’ allowances was enacted.

The executive department of the Iloilo provincial government is proposing to spend more than P1 billion next year.

In 2008, the provincial government also reenacted the 2007 budget after the Department of Budget and Management declared the twin appropriation ordinances passed by the SP as inoperative.

The office of Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. pegged the executive budget for 2010 at P1.3 billion.

A total of P1.375 million 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 P590.68 million was allocated for personal services which includes salaries and other benefits of provincial capitol workers.

A total of P342.1 million was set aside for the Capitol’s monthly operating and other expenses while P30.065 million was allocated for capital outlay.

At least P230,098,570 was allocated for the 20% development projects while aids to barangays amounted to P1.721 million.

A total of P20 million was 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 last October 15, 2009.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

http://www.bworldonline.com/main/content.php?id=3856

ILOILO CITY — A group of firecracker manufacturers and traders in Arevalo, Iloilo City has passed the quality standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The Sto. Niño de Arevalo Multi Purpose Cooperative (SNAMPC), which is composed of more than 300 fireworks manufacturers and 200 dealers and retailers, has been awarded a license to sell and distribute in the market with the PS (Philippine Standard) Mark.

The DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) issued PS License no. Q-1276 to the cooperative last week. The PS license covers 18 products _ puetes, tambaliti, roweda, fountain ordinary, fountain special, camara, baby camara, triangulo, zapzap, whistle bomb, and tilinabid, among others.

Danilo Gison, general manager of the cooperative, said the PS license is a dream come true for the cooperative. This license shows that Iloilo-made pyrotechnics are as competitive and safe as those made in Luzon and abroad.

“We are the first group in Region 6 and the second nationwide to be granted a PS License. Now, we can manufacture in the open without fear of being apprehended,” Mr. Gison said. The cooperative has a manufacturing complex in Arevalo district composed of five processing structures and a warehouse.

“Being a PS licensee gives us high morale and more self confidence. We have accepted the challenge of having our products certified by the BPS. We thank all our members and the DTI for their support and trust on us,” he added.

The DTI-6 regional office said the cooperative’s 18 products passed the tests and complied with the requirements of the Philippine National Standards 1220-2, series of 1994 (Fireworks Part II Specification).

These products were tested for compliance with the requirements of PNS 1220-2:1994 on labeling, construction and performance. A local DTI team went to Brgy. Sooc, Arevalo, the cooperative’s manufacturing site, to test the products.

DTI regional director Dominic P. Abad also said the members of the cooperative underwent a series of awareness and orientation seminars on the pyrotechnic industry.

Among the seminars attended by the cooperative members were Forum on Fireworks organized by the DTI, Philippine National Police and the Iloilo City Government; Financing Forum for funding purposes; Awareness Seminar on ISO 9001:2008 with focus on Quality Management System; and Product Audit for compliance with the standards set by the BPS on fireworks.

As a requirement of Republic Act 7183 (An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecrackers and other Pyrotechnics Devices), the cooperative’s manufacturing area is located 300 meters away from the nearest residential unit and must be declared by the local government unit as a firecracker zone.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MAYOR in the 4th congressional district is a suspect in the shooting to death of a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo on Christmas Day.

Banate Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal figured in a shooting incident which resulted in the death of Carmelino Bachoco of Brgy. Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate.

The incident happened past 10pm of December 25 some 200 meters away from the Banate police station.

According to reports from the Banate PNP, Bachoco and Cabangal both witnessed a Miss Gay competition at the town plaza before the incident.

Cabangal stayed in the kiosk of his cousin Edgar Omes while Bachoco and his worker Rally Beljera was at the kiosk of Nenita Basa near the police station.

At around 10pm, Bachoco set out to go home on board Beljera’s trisikad as the victim’s motorcycle conked out.

At that moment, Cabangal, who went to the town hall to check on a rumble involving several persons, and his sons Peter Paul and Jerson spotted Bachoco.

The Cabangals then chased the victim in an attempt to confront him about his “attitude” toward Peter Paul and Jerson several days before.

The mayor’s family claimed that Bachoco drew a gun as they chased him. Seconds later, gunfire erupted.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body and head while Mayor Cabangal and son Jerson were wounded in there right feet.

The Cabangals are confined in an undisclosed hospital in Iloilo City.

A total of 16 empty shells of caliber .45 bullets and a caliber .45 pistol were recovered from the scene of the incident.

According to S/Insp. Herbert Ballego, Banate police chief, Bachoco has been taunting the sons of Cabangal days before the shooting incident.

Bachoco also reportedly had an axe to grind with Cabangal after the latter ordered the demolition of his store in the town’s reclamation area.

Ballego said they consider Cabangal a suspect in the incident. He said it remains unclear who fired the first shot.

“Mayor Cabangal said he is willing to undergo paraffin test,” Ballego said.

Cabangal is also facing charges for grave coercion and grave threats filed by his cousin, Engr. Noel Bagsit.

S/Supt. Renato Gumban, Iloilo provincial police director, said they have identified who shot Bachoco.

Gumban said Beljera will also issue his statement regarding the incident today.

“Beljera witnessed the incident. Let’s wait for his statement because he has his own lawyer. We might file charges against the suspects today,” Gumban added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) has moved the awarding of contracts to three bulk water suppliers next year after the post qualification process of the bids and awards committee.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta over Sky Cable Sunday, Engr. Adrian Moncada, MIWD director, the bulk water supply contracts will be awarded January 2010.

Moncada said they expect the contractors to start working on their facilities by February 2010.

“Six months after we awarded the contract, we can expect 20,000 cubic meters of additional water from the suppliers,” Moncada said.

Maynilad Water Services Inc., Solerex Water Technologies, Inc. and Abejo Builders Corp. offered the lowest bid for four injection points where the bulk water supply will be transmitted.

Maynilad won the contract for the Pavia injection point, which has a capacity of 10,000 cu m, at P11.98 per cu m.

Solerex got the Leganes injection point (2,000 cu m) at P14.28 per cu m.

Abejo will supply 8,000 cu m of water through the San Miguel and Ungka (Jaro) injection points at P13.98 per cu m.

Dr. Danilo Encarnacion, MIWD director, said the suppliers can draw water from surface or underwater sources depending on the location of the injection points.

Encarnacion said the winning bidders will have to construct their own facilities such as water treatment facility.

The MIWD also clarified the issue raised by a municipal councilor of Pavia who claimed that they were bypassed in the bidding process.

Moncada said the bidding was internal to the MIWD and there is no need to seek clearance from the host towns.

“Once the winning bidders start constructing their facilities, they will have to seek regular permits and other clearances from the municipal government concerned,” Moncada said.

Moncada reiterated that they will not jack up water rates after the bulk water supply is implemented.

Treñas, Gonzalez word war escalates

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas should look at his actions before accusing them of claiming Iloilo City as their kingdom.

Sec. Gonzalez told The Daily Guardian Wednesday that Treñas ate his own words when the mayor said that Iloilo City is not a kingdom.

“He is eating his own words. I ask you, who is oppressing people in the city? Who sacked hundreds of casual employees at the City Hall? Me? Who is using their power to harass barangay captains and casuals who don’t support him? Me? Who lays off employees then call their spouses and make them pledge their support for a candidate in exchange for employment? Isn’t that blackmail? I’m challenging Treñas on a debate on this any time,” Gonzalez said.

The word war between the former political allies erupted when reports surfaced that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file plunder charges against Treñas relative to the anomalous P130-million housing project in Pavia, Iloilo.

The Gonzalezes denied having a hand if ever the Ombudsman has resolved the case. But Sec. Gonzalez Sr. said he once influenced the anti-graft body to go slow on the case to protect Treñas who was just elected to his first term as city mayor in 2001.

Treñas, who is running for congressman against incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said the Gonzalezes are experts in harassment and intimidation in the city.

Treñas said the housing scam issue keeps on surfacing during election season to malign him.

Sec. Gonzalez said Treñas was wrong in insinuating that he can influence the Ombudsman to file the charges against him.

“The fact is he has a case and he must answer that. The one in control of the case is not Raul Gonzalez, (but) the Ombudsman. Is he insinuating that I can dictate the Ombudsman?” he added.

But Gonzalez also claimed he convinced the Ombudsman not to prioritize the housing project scam to protect the mayor.

“I was the one who made him mayor. I used my influence as a congressman at that time, especially during budget hearings, to ask the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case. I did not tell them not to attend to the case but just to prioritize other cases swamping their office. That was done in good faith, for his own protection,” he added.

Sec. Gonzalez said Treñas is not entirely blameless in the housing scam because the latter signed the plans for the project which are part of the contract.

He also rapped the mayor for releasing the P17-million initial payment a day after issuing the notice to proceed to winning bidder Ace Builders Enterprise.

“Is there a carpenter or architect who can accomplish P17 million worth of project in one day? Is the construction of the foundations alone worth P17 million?” Sec. Gonzalez said.

Sec. Gonzalez also likened Treñas to a sinner who seeks refuge behind the phrase “politically motivated.”

“That is the refuge of sinners when you say it’s politically motivated. In Spanish ‘refugio peccatorum.’ Whether it’s politically motivated or not, the fact remains that there is a case. It’s a fact they have not explained,” he added.

The Gonzalezes yesterday played Sta. Claus to 205 casual employees who lost their jobs the past months.

The former employees, who mostly served the city government for more than 10 years, received a bag of rice and P1,000 cash.

Sec. Gonzalez said he used his personal money to help the employees who are facing a bleak Christmas.

He said he has yet to receive any formal response from Treñas relative to his remaining P5-million pork barrel fund which he gave to City Hall when he was still congressman.

“From our own accounting, my remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund is still a little over P5 million. I asked for liquidation from City Hall because I intend to give the money to the sacked casuals,” Sec. Gonzalez.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE P24-million honorarium of volunteer health workers (VHW) will still be released at the Capitol and in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo despite a provincial ordinance mandating that the funds will be disbursed through the municipal treasurers.

Iloilo Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. said the district presidents of the VHWs agreed that the same mode will be used in the release of the allowances.

Tupas met the district presidents at the Capitol Wednesday to discuss the release of the P2,000 honorarium to each of the 12,000 VHWs.

This development runs counter to the desire of majority of VHWs who attended a public hearing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last week that they want their allowances to be coursed through the treasurers of their respective towns.

Merlyn Figueroa, VHW federation president, said the new set up in the release of the allowances will be implemented next year.

Figueroa said their members agree to stick with the old setup this year. Free lunch will also be given to VHWs who will claim their allowances in Barotac Viejo.

Tupas said they are concerned with the security of the money that will be transported to the towns.

VHWs from the 1st district will get their allowances in the morning of December 28 at the provincial capitol while the afternoon is reserved for those from the 2nd district.

The release of the allowances of VHWs from the 3rd district will be held at the capitol in the morning of December 29 while those from the 4th district can claim their honorarium in the afternoon.

December 30 is reserved for VHWs from the 5th district who will troop to the house of Tupas in Barotac Viejo.

The opposition-dominated SP wants the allowances released through town treasurers to insulate it from political gimmicks.

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said the release of allowances turn into political rallies as allies of Tupas are made to speak before the VHWs.

Tupas said the provincial board members can witness the release of the allowances and will also be given the equal chance to speak before the workers.

Treñas scores Gonzalezes for harassments

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“ILOILO City is not a kingdom.”

Mayor Jerry Treñas issued these words of caution to his political rivals amidst reports that the Office of the Ombudsman will file charges against him relative to the anomalous P134-million housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

Treñas, who is running for Iloilo City congressman, said the housing project issue keeps on resurrecting during election time to put his name and administration down.

He said he was surprised why his political nemeses, Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., have been discussing the developments of the case which has been gathering dust in the Ombudsman central office.

“My conscience is clear and I have done what I thought should have been done in that case. And if charges will be filed against me, so be it. We don’t flee from such things anyway. But this only shows that other people are experts in what we call waslik poder (abuse of power). The people will analyze and decide on the basis of what they are doing,” the mayor said.

Treñas said the Gonzalezes are experts in “harassments, intimidation and pressure.”

The mayor also reacted to the so-called “Three Kings” in the Gonzalez camp who have been criticizing his administration.

“The city of Iloilo is not a kingdom owned by anyone. This is our city and all of us have a stake in our city, its growth and development through the years and that bickering and intrigues spawned by our enemies should not affect the city’s growth,” Treñas said.

The Gonzalezes said they have nothing to do with any action of the Ombudsman relative to the substandard housing project.

But Sec. Gonzalez Sr. told the Iloilo media Monday that we was responsible for telling the Ombudsman to hide the case so that Treñas will not face charges and get suspended early in his administration.

Sec. Gonzalez also said he was responsible for Treñas’ election as mayor and he only protected the latter.

Treñas said Sec. Gonzalez might be taking too much credit for the mayor’s political career.

“Damu na nga tomboy sa akun. Hasta ako mapatay siguro tumbuyon man niya ako gihapun. You all know the situation in Iloilo City. When I ran for reelection, my votes were higher than his son’s (Rep. Gonzalez Jr.). But they keep on harping that they helped me,” Treñas said.

IMPLEMENTED

Treñas also denied the claims of Rep. Gonzalez Jr. that he signed the housing project contract with Ace Builders Enterprises.

The mayor said he only implemented the contract which was signed and approved during the administration of former mayor Mansueto Malabor.

“There was already an initial payment to the contractor by the previous administration. During my watch, I only paid for services rendered. I did not sign the contract because it was already ratified by the previous administration.

Despite the word war, the mayor said he wishes the Gonzalezes well for the upcoming holidays.

“I want to greet them a very Merry Christmas this season and may the good Lord touch their hearts,” Treñas said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said he is mulling to ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to put the city under its control if armed men and political harassments continue.

Treñas broached the “Comelec control” measure following the gun firing incident outside the house of a political leader of Vice Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog in Calumpang, Molo Sunday evening.

Mabilog, who is seeking the mayor’s office, and Treñas, who is running for congressman, are allies in the 2010 elections despite belonging to rival political parties.

Unidentified suspects fired a gun outside the house of a certain Digoy Pragados in Calumpang village Sunday night.

The Molo police recovered nine empty shells of caliber .9mm pistol outside Pragados’ gate.

Treñas said he has directed the Molo police headed by S/Insp. Danilo Delos Santos to investigate and submit a report to his office not later than the end of 2009.

“I view this incident as politically-motivated. I am just watching the situation. But if this continues, I might be asking that the city will be placed under Comelec control,” the mayor said.

Treñas said he is worried by armed men tailing candidates around Iloilo City during this campaign season.

Mabilog said Pragados has been his loyal supporter since 2004.

“According to Digoy, this is the first time that this happened to him. He cannot recall any enemy or previous grudge that could be the reason for the incident,” Mabilog said.

The vice mayor said he also urged the Molo police to probe deeper into the incident and assure that no similar incident will happen.

“If worse comes to worse, I would also call for Comelec control of the city because people might get hurt or killed in subsequent incidents,” Mabilog said.

The Comelec can place an area under its control if there are verified serious armed threats to the smooth implementation of the elections.

Once an area is put under Comelec control, the poll body’s officials will serve as the acting provincial governor or mayor during the election period.

Law enforcement agencies and the military will also be placed under the Comelec’s control and supervision should it take over a local government unit.

Gonzalezes deny influencing Ombud on Pavia housing scam

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“DON’T look at us.”

THIS was the reaction of the Gonzalez camp to reports that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file a plunder case against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas for the P134-million housing project scam.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. denied influencing the Ombudsman to “move” the case after Treñas broke away from their group last month to run for congressman.

“We have nothing to do about any prospective resolution of the Pavia housing case. It is easy for our enemies to attribute to us things that go against them,” Sec. Gonzalez said.

But Sec. Gonzalez said he told the anti-graft body to hide the housing scam case because he was responsible for Treñas’ election as city mayor.

“I did not want any issues to be raised against Treñas because he has just been elected mayor (in 2001). I told the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case,” he added.

Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said they are not surprised if the Ombudsman has resolved the case as it has been languishing in the anti-graft agency for sometime now.

But Rep. Gonzalez, who is seeking re-election against Treñas, denied any hand in any decision of the Ombudsman relative to the anomalous housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

“We even wrote the Ombudsman regarding the status of the case because it was not moving. If the Ombudsman has approved the filing of the case, it is because the issue is long overdue and ought to be resolved,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

The housing project, which was financed by a P130-million bond flotation, began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed in 2003.

But in 2002, Rudy Gonzales, a sub-contractor of ACE Builders Enterprises (ABE), the winning contractor of the project, exposed the alleged substandard materials and engineering of the housing units after the ABE failed to pay his services.

Rep. Gonzalez Jr., then a city councilor, led the investigation on the housing project as chairman of the committee on good government.

In 2003, the committee on good government released its findings and recommended the rescission of the contract and the filing of criminal and administrative charges against ABE, Treñas and other City Hall officials.

The committee also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dig deeper into the anomaly.

Three administrative cases relative to the project are docketed as OMB-V-C-03-0715-K, OMB-V-C-03-0716-K and OMB-V-A-03-661-K.

Rep. Gonzalez said the City Council did not approve the committee report, reason why they submitted a copy of the report to the Ombudsman for further investigation.

He said Treñas was included as one of the respondents in the case because he signed the contract with ABE without authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“It was former Mayor Mansueto Malabor who was authorized to sign the contract. Mayor Treñas also failed to endorse the signed contract to the City Council for ratification,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

Rep. Gonzalez added that officials involved in the case should face the charges instead of blaming their group.

“They should answer the issues instead of blaming us,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MEMBER of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will not receive the P50,000 cash gift from the provincial government as he believes that the grant is irregular.

Third district Board Member Arthur R. Defensor Jr. said he ordered his staff to have his name deleted from the cash gift payroll.

“I will not receive any amount of this cash gift because I believe it is illegal and will be later disallowed,” Defensor said. 

Defensor said he already voiced his objection to the additional P40,000 cash gift on top of the P10,000 Productivity Enhancement Incentive mandated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Defensor was present in the initial discussion of the extra cash gift during the SP’s marathon hearing Friday last week. But he did not attend the final discussion and approval of the grant in the afternoon as he attended a speaking engagement in Guimbal town.

Defensor said it would be awkward for him to receive the grant when he opposed it in the first place.

He also described the grant as “dead on arrival” as it exceeds the 45% personal services (PS) cap of the 2009 annual budget.

“The DBM and the Commission on Audit (CoA) will disallow this grant and the employees will have to refund the amount if it overshoots the PS cap,” Defensor said.

The PS cap refers to the maximum budget for the salaries and benefits of a local government unit in a given fiscal year.

Board Member Richard Garin of the 1st district said he also believes that the extra cash gift is illegal.

Still he will receive the entire P50,000 but will keep the extra P40,000 so he can refund the amount in case the DBM and CoA disallows the grant.

“I will receive and use the P10,000 because I am entitled for it but I will keep the P40,000 just in case we are required to refund the amount. I will give the P10,000 to my constituents,” Garin said.

Garin was on leave when the SP deliberated and approved the extra cash gift last week.

Other SP members who were not present during the approval of the grant were Jesus “JR” Salcedo and Jeneda Salcedo.

The DBM had advised the provincial government to wait for the agency’s review of the appropriation ordinance granting the extra cash gift.

But Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. said they will take the risk and release the money to the employees so they can enjoy a bountiful holiday amidst the economic crunch.

The provincial accounting and treasurer’s office are working overtime to release the cash gift before Christmas break this week.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo has approved the P24-million honorarium of the more than 12,000 volunteer health workers (VHW) in the province.

The allowance was approved after Board Member Jesus “JR” Salcedo, committee on appropriations chair, delivered his report on the allocation during the SP session Monday afternoon.

A total of 12,006 VHWs will receive P2,000 each from the provincial government for their honorarium.

The breakdown of VHWs who will receive the allowance are: Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO) – 2,125, day care workers – 1,657), Barangay Health Workers (BHW) – 7,378 and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) – 846.

The committee on appropriations included conditions for the release of the allowances.

The money must be released through the municipal treasurer’s offices instead of herding the workers at the capitol or the house of Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

VHWs based in northern Iloilo said they prefer to get their allowances from their respective towns instead of going to Barotac Viejo to minimize expenses for their fares and food.

The recipients must be included in the provincial master list of VHWs. “Double receipt” of the honorarium is not allowed, which means volunteer workers who hold two functions (BNS and BHW) will only receive P2,000.

Barangay officials who also work as VHWs are excluded from receiving the allowance.

VHWs who died in the last quarter of the year are entitled to the allowance. Their next of kin (husband or child) will receive the allowance in behalf of the deceased worker provided they present the death certificate, marriage certificate (for the spouse) and birth certificate (child).

A special power of attorney must be presented by representatives of VHWs who are unable to receive their allowance.

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said the condition of releasing the allowances through the municipal treasurers is to avoid VHWs from incurring expenses when claiming their honorarium.

Suplico said the releasing of allowances has been tainted with politics because the VHWs are made to listen to the speeches of the governor and his political allies before they get their allowances.

Tupas said only the executive department can decide on how to release the money to the workers, not the SP.

But Suplico said the power of the purse of the legislative department includes the disbursement of funds.

Doctor’s appointment to MIWD board in order

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

THE appointment of a director of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) is in order based on documents secured by The Daily Guardian, contrary to the claims of a group of employees of the water district.

Dr. Danilo Encarnacion said he was appointed to the MIWD board in December 2008 by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas after satisfying the requirements, particularly his nomination from the West Visayas State University (WVSU).

Encarnacion was appointed as MIWD director as representative of the academe.

The Metro Iloilo Water District Employees Union claimed in a letter to Treñas dated November 17, 2009 that Encarnacion’s appointment was not in order as there were two nominees from the academe. The other nominee is a certain Atty. Jose Gelacio Castro.

Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Acting Administrator Daniel Landingin intervened in the issue by declaring Encarnacion’s appointment “null and void.”

Documents show that Encarnacion’s nomination was signed by Dr. Pablo Subong, WVSU president and Dr. Emiliana Carmona, WVSU College of Medicine dean.

Castro’s nomination paper was signed by Dr. Ramon Zarceno, WVSU vice president for academic affairs. Interestingly, somebody else signed Castro’s papers in behalf of Subong, not the WVSU president himself.

“It appears that it was not Dr. Subong who signed Castro’s papers but somebody else in behalf of the university president. The signature was affixed on the nomination paper ‘for’ the president, not Dr. Subong himself,” Encarnacion said.

Encarnacion said he submitted his nomination papers to the MIWD corporate secretary on November 1, 2008, last day of the filing of all nominations.

Encarnacion said he was the only nominee from the sector to appear before the board to submit his paper.

The documents also show that Castro submitted his papers to the MIWD on November 14, 2008, which is 13 days past the deadline.

Atty. Florecita Gelveson, MIWD corporate secretary, said in her letter to LWUA that Lira’s nomination papers were “filed out of time.”

Even Landingin conformed with Encarnacion’s nomination based on the LWUA official’s letter to the MIWD director dated May 11, 2009.

Encarnacion also questioned LWUA’s intervention in the issue because the only appointing authority they recognize is the city mayor.

“Only the city mayor can appoint or sack members of the board of directors. We are wondering why LWUA entered the picture despite confirming my appointment early this year,” he added.

Celso Javelosa, MIWD board chairman, said in a press statement that Encarnacion is still a member of the water firm’s board.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) will order the Provincial Treasurer and Accounting Offices to start collecting the disallowed 14th month pay handed out to Iloilo capitol employees in 2002.

The audit agency will send a letter to the accounting office today (December 21, 2009) directing the office to take up in the Capitol’s books of accounts as “receivables from employees” the 14th month pay.

Accountants of all district hospitals will also be included in the CoA directive.

The CoA letter will require accountants to start recording in their books all refunds of the 14th month pay in 2002 which the CoA disallowed.

The audit agency said in its 2002 annual audit report that there was an anomaly in the release of the 14th month pay, amounting to P21,001,364 to Capitol employees and officials last December 2002.

According to COA, the province exceeded the 45% Personnel Services (PS) limitation provided by the Local Government Code (LGC). PS refers to the component of the annual budget for the salaries and benefits of employees of a local government unit.

The provincial government then filed before the Supreme Court a petition for review against CoA’s findings.

But the SC backed CoA’s findings and ordered the provincial government to refund the 14th month pay it released to the capitol employees.

CoA will also ask the Iloilo provincial treasurer to comply with the Notice of Final Disallowance and Final Order of Adjudication issued earlier by the audit body after the SC’s en banc decision became final and executory.

The Final Order of Adjudication instructed the treasurer to withhold payment of salaries or any money due to capitol employees if they fail to refund the 14th month pay.

The CoA said any payment of salaries or any money due them (capitol employees) in violation of the final order of adjudication “will be disallowed in audit and you (provincial treasurer) will be held liable therefore.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 16 Iloilo towns and a component city are included in the “hotspot” list of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, PRO-6 regional public information officer, said the towns are included in their election watchlist of areas of concern (EWAC) which is being validated by the regional command.

The areas included in the EWAC are classified in two categories: Category 1 for places with high possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high while Category 2 areas have history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and active movement of armed rebels.

In Iloilo, Category 1 areas include Anilao, Dueñas, Estancia, Maasin, Passi City, San Enrique and Tigbauan.

The towns of Bingawan, Calinog, Guimbal, Igbaras, Lambunao, Leon, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, and Tubungan are classified as Category 2 areas.

At total of 48 towns and cities in Western Visayas are included in the PRO-6’s EWAC.

Demiar said some of the areas might be removed from the list depending on the outcome of their validation.

Last Monday, former Estancia mayor Rene Cordero went to the office of PRO-6 Director Isagai R. Cuevas to seek assistance against alleged harassment by his rival, incumbent Mayor Restituto Mosqueda.

Cordero is seeking to recapture the mayorship of Estancia in the May 2010 elections.

Cuevas said he advised Cordero to gather evidence to prove his claims so that the PRO-6 can assess his request.

“They have to show proof before we ca provide security personnel to him,” Cuevas said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant Raul Banias warned politicians against hiring members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) in partisan political activities.

Banias said RPA-ABB members who work as bodyguards of politicians are liable for violating the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel group.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO members of the Mandurriao police station were relieved for failure to arrest a scion of a wealthy business family who allegedly pointed a gun at a customer of a popular night spot in Iloilo City Thursday.

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) officer-in-charge, said he ordered the relief of SPO3 Enrico Sontillanosa and PO3 Antonio Salazar from Mandurriao PNP effective Thursday afternoon.

Sontillanosa and Salazar responded to the commotion at SandPipers KTV bar after businessman Kenneth Chua allegedly pointed a gun at a classmate of lawyer Plaridel Nava 3am Thursday.

C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Mandurriao police chief, immediately implemented Espejo’s order but he refused to comment on the issue for the meantime.

Espejo said he has ordered an investigation into the incident and why Sontillanosa and Salazar failed to arrest Chua.

The two cops said the security guards and manager of the KTV bar stalled their entry in VIP Room No. 2 where the altercation happened.

But Atty. Nava claimed that the two cops went inside the KTV room and talked to Chua.

“After a while, I saw the smiling Chua walk down the stairs, boarded his car with his bodyguard and drove away. The police came out later,” Nava said.

The police later arrested the KTV manager and guard for alleged obstruction of justice and detained them in the police station. But the investigator later ruled that they did not obstruct the police.

Nava said he will file criminal charges against Chua for illegal possession of firearms, grave oral defamation and grave threats.

“Many of our common friends have been asking me to settle the case with him. But we have to do something about this so that Kenneth will change his ways. Maybe if we see that he has changed for good, we will withdraw the charges,” Nava added.

The lawyer said he is certain that there was a conspiracy between the two Mandurriao police and a colonel who called Chua after the incident so that the suspect can escape.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of Sandpipers will also sue Sontillanosa and Salazar for illegal detention.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo provincial board unanimously approved Thursday the P69-million supplemental budget which will entitle Capitol workers to an extra P40,000 cash gift on top of their regular P10,000 Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI).

Earlier, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the P36-million budget augmentation where the P10,000 PEI will be sourced. The additional budget was obtained from savings culled from unfilled plantilla positions in the Capitol.

Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. then submitted the supplemental budget to increase the PEI by P40,000.

In sum, the 2,200 capitol workers will receive P50,000 each for their PEI or popularly known as cash gift.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had advised the provincial government to wait for its review of the augmentation and supplemental budget before releasing the cash gift.

Alfonso Bedonia, DBM assistant regional director, said they need to review the additional allocation to find out if the Capitol did not exceed the budgetary cap on personal services (PS).

The personal services (PS) cap refers to the maximum salaries and benefits for employees of a local government unit (LGU).

The Local Government Code provides that total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for personal services of an LGU for one fiscal year shall not exceed 45% in the case of 1st to 3rd class LGUs and 55% in the case of 4th class or lower class LGUs.

DBM’s Budget Circular 2009-5 issued this week provided the guidelines for the release of the PEI/cash gift to government employees.

Citing Administrative Order No. 276, the DBM circular said “government employees in the Executive Branch, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs), whether hired on permanent, temporary, casual, or contractual basis, are entitled to receive a one-time grant of a maximum of P10,000 each” as long as they have not received any additional year-end benefit in Fiscal Year 2009 over and above the benefit authorized under Republic Act 6686, as amended by RA 8441.

Bedonia said if the Capitol exceeded its PS cap due to the extra cash gift, they will disallow the allocation and require the recipients to refund the excess benefit.

Bedonia said LGUs must seek clearance from the Office of the President if they intend to hand out cash gifts in excess of what is stipulated in the DBM circular.

During their session yesterday, members of the provincial board also raised the concerns on the legal problems posed by the extra cash gift.

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said they decided to approve the P50,000 cash gift to give capitol employees a bright Christmas.

The P50,000 cash gift will be released Monday next week.

Tupas earlier said he will take the risk of any disallowance in handing out the extra cash gift.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A BUSINESSMAN is under fire for allegedly brandishing a gun inside a night spot in Mandurriao, Iloilo City Wednesday evening.

Lawyer Plaridel Nava accused his former client, Kenneth Chua, of pointing a caliber .380 to one of his classmates inside a VIP room of Sandpipers KTV Bar at Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao.

Chua’s family owns Iloilo Society Commercial which is a popular retail chain of assorted merchandise in Iloilo.

Nava said their high school class was holding a Christmas party inside Sandpipers when the incident happened.

A classmate of Nava, who knows Chua, invited the businessman inside the VIP room to join the bash.

Nava said he also personally knows Chua as he represented the latter in a gun-firing incident in Arevalo district several years back.

One of Nava’s classmates, a certain Roberto Celiz, was discussing his experiences in the US when Chua suddenly rose from his seat, drew the revolver and pointed it to Celiz.

Another classmate of Nava told Chua to lower his gun but the latter allegedly punched him.

Nava later intervened and told the businessman to calm down and put away his gun.

Chua obliged but it did not prevent Nava from calling the police for assistance.

Two Mandurriao policemen – SPO3 Enrico Sontillanosa and PO3 Antonio Salazar – went to the KTV bar in response to the call up.

The two cops claimed that the bar’s management and security personnel prevented them from proceeding to the room where the altercation happened.

Worse, the police officers said, the manager pointed them to the wrong room. When they reached the scene of the incident, Chua was nowhere to be found.

The police officers brought the manager and security guards to the Mandurriao police station for alleged obstruction of justice. But they were later released after the investigator found no ground to sue them.

Nava said the bar’s management may have delayed the entry of the police to give Chua time to sneak out of the night spot.

He also complained that the police did not arrest and detain the manager and security guards for obstruction of justice.

Based on records of the Firearms Explosives Security Agency and Guards Supervision (FESAGS) Office, Chua previously owned an caliber .9mm machine pistol, a caliber .9mm pistol and a caliber .45 pistol, all of which have expired permits.

The FESAGS record did not indicate that Chua owned a caliber .380 revolver.

Chua and the management of Sandpipers are not available for comments.

Chua and PO3 George Sermonia of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group were also involved in the mauling of three waiters of Luis Linaga-an, a popular restaurant in Iloilo City, two weeks ago.

The businessman reportedly settled the case with the waiters while Sermonia is under investigation by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Extended voters list-up pose problems

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the city and province of Iloilo is foreseeing many problems with the latest decision of the Supreme Court to extend the voters’ registration period.

Atty. Elizabeth Doronila, Iloilo provincial election supervisor, said election officers in the province flocked her office yesterday to express their apprehensions about the SC decision.

In a nine-page unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the high court en banc granted the petition filed by Kabataan party-list seeking to declare null and void Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 8585, which shortened the deadline of voters registration to October 31, 2009, instead of December 15, 2009, as previously fixed by Comelec Resolution No. 8514.

The decision, which is immediately executory, will extend the voters’ registration period to January 9, 2010.

The Comelec earlier set the deadline for voters’ registration to October 31 due to the demands of poll automation.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the people’s right to suffrage “is at the heart of our constitutional democracy.” It said the Comelec has no valid ground to justify its non-compliance to the system of continuing voter registration mandated under Section 8 of Republic Act 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.

Under the said provision, the registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the election officer during regular office hours, except during the period starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election.

“In the present case, the Court finds no ground to hold that the mandate of continuing voter registration cannot be reasonably held within the period provided by R.A. 8189, Section 8 – daily during officer hours, except during the period starting 120 days before the May 10, 2010 regular elections. There is thus no occasion for the Comelec to exercise its power to fix other dates or deadlines therefor,” the Court said.

Doronila said the SC order will compel election officers to undo the final list of voters culled from the latest registration period which ended last October 31.

“Our election officers have already finalized their list is (which is) ready for sealing and submission. If the registration period is extended, the election officers will have to make a new list of voters which is a tedious process,” Doronila said.

Aside from registering first time voters, Doronila said they foresee problems in transferees from other areas outside Iloilo.

“The mailing of the documents of transferees take some time which will surely delay things,” she added.

Jonathan Sayno, Iloilo City election assistant, said their timetable will be set back by the high court’s ruling as they are supposed to hear exclusion petitions against registered voters next year.

Sayno also echoed Doronila’s sentiments on undoing the final list of voters which the city Comelec office has already completed.

“We also lack registration forms. During the last day of registration, we even asked for 1,000 extra copies to accommodate those who tried to beat the deadline,” Sayno said.

Sayno added that they expect 5,000 additional registrants to take advantage of the extended registration period.

Sayno said the most practical period for the extension of the registration period is from December 21 to 29 to avoid disrupting Comelec’s timetable for the automated elections.

“Everything really depends on the Supreme Court. Since the decision is immediately executory, we are just awaiting guidance from our central office,” Sayno said.

PCOS allocation

Doronila said the allocation of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in clustered precincts will also be affected with the extension of the registration period.

Doronila said the Comelec increased the number of precincts per cluster from five to seven because of the number of voters.

Based on Comelec’s calculation, the city and province of Iloilo need 2,392 PCOS machines for the same number of clustered precincts.

There are a total of 1,257,661 voters in the city and province, according to Doronila.

Registered voters in Iloilo City totaled 242,033, lower by 1% compared to 245,734 registered voters during the October 2007 barangays election.

“If the number of registered voters increases with the extension of the registration period, the number of clustered precincts and PCOS allocation will also increase which poses logistical problems to the Comelec,” she said.

Doronila said the extension might not be practical for areas in the province.

“Most municipal election officers said nobody else went to their office on the last day of registration on October 31. Maybe because the voters were informed through the media not to flock the election offices on the last day of registration. Except for Iloilo City which was swamped by last day registrants, our offices in the towns did not face such predicament. This is the first time that we will register voters after the deadline for the filing of candidacy,” Doronila said.

But Doronila and Sayno said their offices are ready for the extension.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. said he is willing to face charges that may result from his plan to give P50,000 in cash gift to each of the more than 2,000 Capitol employees.

The cash gift, which will total P105 million, is embodied in two budget requests the governor asked from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Tupas requested for an augmentation in the 2009 budget amounting to P36 million and a supplemental budget totaling P69 million.

Instead of the usual P15,000 cash gift to each capitol employee, Tupas is planning to hand out P50,000 to each worker “to help them in these trying times”.

The governor said he will face any notice of disallowance or charges that may arise should they overshoot the personal services cap in the 2009 budget.

The personal services (PS) cap refers to the maximum salaries and benefits for employees of a local government unit (LGU).

The Local Government Code provides that total appropriations, whether annual or supplemental, for personal services of an LGU for one fiscal year shall not exceed 45% in the case of 1st to 3rd class LGUs and 55% in the case of 4th class or lower class LGUs.

“If they disallow it, we will face it. We will not let the workers suffer,” he said over RMN-Iloilo.

The augmentation and supplemental budget requests are now pending with the SP’s committee on appropriations.

The SP is also deliberating the P23.8-million financial assistance to volunteer health workers for 2009.

Earlier, the Commission on Audit (CoA) had directed the provincial government to refund the P71-million extra cash gift given to Capitol employees in December 2008.

The audit agency said the extra cash gift exceeded the Personal Services cap or limit of the capitol budget amounting to P118.5 million.

The CoA said the allowable PS level of the capitol is P380.1 million. But Capitol disbursement for PS in 2008 including the extra cash gift amounted to P546.4 million.

The next PS cost incurred in 2008 totaled P427.6 million, which is already P47.48 million over the PS cap, the CoA report said.

The provincial government disputed the CoA’s findings saying their own computation showed that they only exceeded 8% of the PS cap amounting to P8 million.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

VOLUNTEER health workers (VHW) in northern Iloilo would rather receive their honorarium in their respected towns than trooping to the house of Iloilo Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. in Barotac, Viejo town.

This was the sentiment VHWs who attended the public hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committee on appropriations in Balasan and Sara towns Wednesday.

The fifth district is composed of the towns of Sara, Balasan, Estancia, Batad, Carles, San Dionisio, San Rafael, Concepcion, Ajuy, Barotac Viejo and Lemery.

The VHWs said they will be spend more than P300 for their fare and food before they could lay their hands on the P2,000 honorarium from the provincial government.

In their own reckoning, the VHWs will spend a total of P220 for their fare to Barotac Viejo and back to their respective towns.

Another P100 will be spent for their lunch and snacks while waiting for the release of their allowances.

The volunteer workers said it would be more practical and convenient if they collect their honorarium from the municipal treasurers in their respective towns.

The committee on appropriations chaired by Board Member Jesus “JR” Salcedo is conducting hearings on the P180-million Supplemental Budget No. 1 which includes the allowances fro VHWs.

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.

Last year, the SP provided “riders” to the appropriation ordinance which authorized the release of the VHWs’ allowances, specifically the release of the money through municipal treasurers.

It has been a tradition under the Tupas administration to release the VHWs’ allowances at the capitol and his house in Barotac Viejo but not after a series of statements from the governor’s political allies.

Tupas defied the SP’s codicil by insisting that only the Office of the Governor can decide on how to release the money.

The VHWs also agreed to an increase in their allowances from P2,000 to P2,400 per year.

But Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico said the workers will have to write Tupas so he can include the increase in the 2010 budget.

“If the allowance is embedded in the annual budget, there would be no more delays and no politics in the release,” Suplico said.  

Tupas’ gift?

Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico slammed text messages which accused him of stalling the release of the VHWs’ honorarium.

Suplico said he is neither the chairman nor a member of the committee on appropriations.

“The release of the allowances is being rushed by the Sanggunian. I have no hand in this alleged delay,” Suplico said.

Suplico said the text messages claimed that the allowance is the Tupases’ gift to the VHWs.

“Correction, this money is from the provincial government, not Gov. Tupas. The governor is only using the money to further his political plans and expand their clan’s (political power),” he said.

Barangay captains trade barbs

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A PUNONG barangay identified with the group of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. said village chiefs loyal to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas are the real political robots.

Brgy. Captain Love Joy Hosenilla of Buntatala, Jaro said his fellow village chief Jonas Antonio Bellosillo is the one acting under the orders of Treñas.

Hosenilla, who replaced Bellosillo as president of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC)-Jaro, issued the statement after Bellosillo accused pro-Gonzalez village chiefs as political robots.

Recalling their previous conversations the past months, Hosenilla said Bellosillo shifted his allegiance from Gonzalez to Treñas because the mayor was pressuring Bellosillo.

Treñas is running for congressman against Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., son of Sec. Gonzalez Sr.

“At first, he said he was for Rep. Gonzalez Jr. for congressman and Sec. Gonzalez Sr. for mayor. Then he changed his tune and will go for the Treñas (congressman)-Gonzalez (mayor) ticket. Jonas again changed his mind and will go all out for Treñas only because the mayor was pressuring him,” Hosenilla said.

The ABC-Jaro ousted Bellosillo as president after signing a resolution expressing lack of confidence in the latter’s leadership last December 10, 2009.

The resolution also declared the presidency of ABC-Jaro vacant, which paved the way for Hosenillo’s assumption of the top office being the group’s vice president.

A total of 23 Jaro barangay captains signed the resolution, a copy of which was given to the The Daily Guardian

Hosenilla said Bellosillo’s constant change of allegiance disillusioned other village chiefs of his capability to lead ABC-Jaro.

Hosenilla also claimed that Treñas also told Punong Barnagay Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin, City Proper to withdraw his resignation as president of ABC-Iloilo City proper.

“They are the political robots because they bow to Mayor Treñas’ wishes,” he added.

Hosenilla also objected to Bellosillo’s statement that the village chiefs who signed the resolution are ignorant.

“Many of our members are businessmen, professionals with college degrees while another studied law. Why would he call us ignorant? Well, I would prefer to be called ignorant because I will still learn than being labeled a balimbing (turncoat) because that is synonymous to being a traitor,” he said.

Not recognized?   

Hosenilla said Treñas also contradicted his own statement that he will not recognize ABC presidents who replaced his allies when the mayor issued Executive Order No. 53, series of 2009.

The EO designated Bellosillo as manager of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair in connection with the 2010 Jaro fiesta celebration.

While she does not question Treñas’ power to appoint people who will manage the fair, Hosenilla said the EO recognized Bellosillo’s ouster as ABC-Jaro president.

Hosenilla quoted the second whereas clause of the EO which says: “Whereas, regrettably with the replacement of Punong Barangay Bellosillo as President of the Association of Barangay Captains of the District of Jaro, there is a need to revoke Executive Order No. 14, series of 2009 in order the maintain the continuity of the success of the Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair under the able leadership of Punong Barangay Bellosillo.”

“The mayor himself already admitted in his order that Bellosillo was already replaced, so why will he not recognize us?” Hosenilla said.

Hosenilla said they will assist Bellosillo in running the Jaro fiesta fair “provided the same working committees in this year’s fair will remain.”

“We will help him as long as he does not make changes in the working committees,” Hosenilla said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILLEGAL drug operations may have shifted to Iloilo province following the decline and operations and apprehensions of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Iloilo City.

Paul Ledesma, officer-in-charge of PDEA-6 office, said they reported fewer anti-drug operations and arrests in Iloilo City because of the declining illegal drugs trade in the metropolis.

As of November this year, PDEA mounted 67 anti-drug operations in Iloilo City compared to 113 in 2008.

The number of arrested drug pushers and users also declined to 82 this year from 322 in 2008.

Ledesma said drug syndicates may have shifted their operations to Iloilo province following the series of anti-drug operations in the metropolis.

“The situation in the city became too hot for these syndicates to handle and may have transferred to other places. We continue to monitor their activities wherever they transfer their operations,” Ledesma said.

The PDEA also noticed increased sales of marijuana due to increasing prices of shabu.

Ledesma said the shabu price hike is a result of their operations against the entry of shabu in Western Visayas.

Shabu is now being sold at P10,000 per gram, lower than last year’s price of P15,000 per gram. Marijuana is sold for P40-45 per gram.

Ledesma said they have neutralized 11 of 23 drug dens in the region aside from arresting members of five drug syndicates in Western Visayas.

The PDEA chief said they will intensify their operations to prevent drugs from flooding the region during Christmas season and Dinagyang and Ati-Atihan festivals.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Lydia C. Pendon

THE “proxy political war” between two political behemoths in Iloilo City through punong barangays continues.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, who is running for congressman versus incumbent Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., said he will not recognize new district presidents of three Associations of Barangay Captains (ABC) in the city.

Punong Barangays Carlos Guarin of Aguinaldo, LaPaz and Jonas Bellosillo of Simon Ledesma, Jaro lost the ABC district headship following the coup d ‘etat staged by their colleagues.

Roberto Divinagracia of San Agustin resigned the presidency of ABC-Iloilo City proper district.

Guarin, Bellosillo and Divinagracia are supporting Treñas’ candidacy for congressman.

Punong Barangay Ernie Poral of Ingore replaced Guarin after 16 of the 25 barangays captains voted Poral as ABC-LaPaz head.

Romualdo Jalandoni of Gen. Hughes took over Divinagracia’s post.

Barangay Captain Lovejoy Hosenilla of Buntatala, Jaro replaced Bellosillo after 22 of 42 punong barangays in Jaro ousted the latter.

But Treñas said he will continue to support and recognize the three ousted ABC presidents.

Treñas said he is still the city mayor and the barangay captains are under his jurisdiction.

He said that development projects will be coursed trough the incumbent barangay captains and ABC district presidents he recognizes.

“Lest they forget, I am the only one chief executive of this city and this chaos at the barangay level shows a dangerous pattern of local politics,” he said.

The mayor said barangay leaders should be left alone and they should remain non-partisan.

“They should stand firm and not follow unjust instructions from persons claiming to be powerful,” he said.

Treñas said the barangay leaders should be left alone and must remain non-partisan. They should stand firm and not follow unjust instructions from persons claiming to be powerful.

The Gonzalez camp claims 144 of the 180 barangay captains in seven city districts are loyal to their group.

Last Saturday, the ABC-LaPaz faction headed by Poral tried to hold an assembly at their office in LaPaz plaza but failed as the office was closed,

Poral said Guarin has yet to turn over the keys to the ABC-LaPaz office.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WESTERN Visayas recorded the second highest number of firecracker-related injuries in the 2009 New Year’s revelry, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

Dr. Victoria Concepcion Mansilya of DoH-6 said 86 cases of firecracker injuries were reported and treated at the Corazon Locsin Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City and Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurriao, Iloilo City when Ilonggos bid 2008 goodbye.

Mansilya said Western Visayas is second to the National Capital Region (NCR) which topped the number of firecracker injuries with 451 cases.

Some 59% of the blast cases in Western Visayas were treated without amputation while 13% of the injuries resulted in amputation of limbs. Twenty four cases or 28% suffered eye injuries due to firecracker blast.

Most of the victims are males 11-20 years old.

The top five firecrackers that caused the injuries were camara (12%); “triangulo” (10%); “piccolo” (9%); homemade firecrackers (23%); and unknown (17%).

Two cases of stray bullet injuries were reported in Arevalo and Molo districts in Iloilo City.

The DoH is intensifying its campaign against the use of firecrackers during Christmas and New Year as recent data show a downtrend in the number of injuries.

In 2008, the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center (NEC) recorded an all-time low incidence of firecracker-related injuries compared to the previous four years.

The total 733 firecracker-related injuries recorded from December 21, 2008 to January 5, 2009 were 28% lower compared to the previous four-year average, according to the NEC.

Mansilya said they encourage the use of alternative noise producers in meeting the New Year such as torotots or horns.

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