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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.

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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.

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