Ombudsman suspends Kalinga governor, mayor

>> Thursday, June 22, 2017

TABUK CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman recently suspended the Kalinga provincial governor and  a town mayor  over separate cases
Gov. Jocel Baac of Kalinga province was served a six-month suspension by the Dept. of the Interior and Local Government Tuesday after being found guilty of administrative violations by the Office of the Ombudsman.
After serving Baac the suspension order, DILG-Cordillera Administrative Region director Marlo Iringan administered the oath of Vice Gov. James Edduba to assume the post as acting governor.
Likewise, lawyer Shirlynne Alunday took her oath as acting vice governor.
Last May 30, the OMB issued the memorandum for Baac’s suspension after being found administratively liable for cases of simple misconduct, abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The governor’s suspension stemmed from the previous court case filed against him by former vice governor Allen Jesse Mangaoang who is now Kalinga congressman.
The penalty meted out on Baac stated he was being suspended without pay.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Rizal, Kalinga  was also suspended for 90 days.
Marcelo de la Cruz Jr. was found guilty of simple misconduct, the Office of the Ombudsman said. 
In an eight-page ruling recently approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, graft probers said De la Cruz authorized the release of funds from the savings of the municipal government for the grant of cash gifts and incentives to municipal and barangay employees in 2014 in violation of Section 336 of the Local Government Code.    
The ombudsman said a mayor could not use the savings of the local government to augment an item provided in the municipal budget.

Sangguniang Bayan members Rogelio Lawad, Robert Echalar, Frank Wad-asen, Colin Dalanao and Ponz Anthony Orodio filed the complaint.


DPWH hit over MP bridge; Duterte urged to intercede

Started 4 years ago but still unfinished 

By Gabriel Moguet

SABANGAN, Mountain Province – Officials of this scenic town assailed the Dept. of Public Works and Highways and a contractor for not finishing construction of a bridge here along Halsema Highway started four years ago which they said, had caused much inconvenience among commuters.       
Tired of hearing complaints from their constituents, the Sangguniang Bayan of this town recently passed a second resolution urging the DPWH to expedite construction of Sabangan Jumbo Bridge here at Nacagan, Tambingan which links this province to Benguet and Baguio City.
The resolution was coursed through the Office of the President, since according to SB members, they wanted quick action from the DPWH as its long delayed completion had been subject of unpleasant comments specially in social media.
SB records bared the local legislative body passed a resolution and submitted it earlier to  DPWH  Sec. Mark A. Villar,  through the Mountain Province District Engineering Office in Dec. 6, 2016 urging him to hasten completion of the bridge.
“To the dismay of the SB members, there was no reply coming from the central office of the DPWH or from the MPDEO which is very unusual leaving the SB members wondering what went wrong or what happened to their request,” an SB member said.
The SB said Republic act 6713 established code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees mandating they must respond within 15 days to communication letters and must contain their action taken.
Theodore M. Velasco, SB legal research officer said the MPDEO has not given SB members any feedback on what happened to their resolution.
“As standard operating procedure, the MPDEO should have notified the SB members if they have forwarded the resolution or have thrown it in the waste can labeled “nabubulok” or just simply inform them through text messages if they are too busy with their road works,” Velasco added.
The Nacagang Bridge was abandoned by the contractor and had kept the constituents of Sabangan and daily commuters passing the bridge wondering what happened.
The land owners affected by the project were rumored to have stopped the project but then they have publicly posted in the area and even in social media that there was no problem on the road right of way of the bridge citing instead the poor performance of the DPWH and contractor.
To date, commuters are using a detour road constructed on the river a few meters from the bridge to reach the other side.

But during heavy rains, the detour road could not be used as it is often washed away.  


Abra rep: Let police probe ex-vice governor's murder

BANGUED, Abra – Rep. Joseph Bernos has urged his constituents not to jump to conclusions on who killed former Abra Vice Gov. Rolando Somera  who was slain by assassins in Marikina morning of June 17.
Somera was reportedly appointed to the National Tobacco Administration before he was killed prompting gossip the killing may be related to his upcoming position.
 “Let us wait for the result of the police investigation,” Bernos said.
He added jumping to conclusion that “politics of old mired with violence” is behind the killing will not help the province.
 Somera is said to have been picked to replace NTA Director Erasto Castaneda, who died in April.
Flanked by two aides, Somera had just stepped out of the San Roque cockpit arena in Barangay San Roque around 1:15 a.m. and was walking toward his vehicle when his killer shot him at close range with a pistol.
 The former vice governor was shot three times in the back and twice in the chest. He died on the spot.
 Aides Reynaldo de Luna, 46, and Wilfredo Apalisoc, 59, were hit by stray bullets and brought to different hospitals.
 Police have ruled out robbery in the killing as no valuables were reported taken from the former vice governor.
 Recovered from the crime scene were five .45-cal shells.
 Rep. Bernos, admitted that he and Somera were political rivals, but pointed out that the murder was done outside Abra to dispel politics as an angle in the crime. 
 He said that Abra, which has been trying to move away from its old image as “Cordillera’s Killing Fields”, will only suffer in the end if murders and incidents are attributed to political rivalries, Bernos said.
 “We’ve also been a victim of such, so it will not help to conclude unto things,” the congressman, whose older brother was killed while town mayor of La Paz in the 1990s, said.
 He said the last elections had not been marred by violence and deaths like in years past.
Somera’s political career ran for almost three decades.
He was also a former provincial board member and then mayor of Pilar town for nine months.
 He served as Abra vice governor from 2010 to 2013.

 He ran for Congress in 2013 but lost, and again for vice governor in 2016 under the Nacionalista Party.


KP men soliciting favors for barangay appointment

By Larry Madarang

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – The lead convenor of Kilusang Pagbabago assailed KP members soliciting favors from persons for appointment in barangay positions. 
“We condemn all KP members soliciting favors for barangay appointment,  said Cris Lopez during KP oath-taking here Monday.
Lopez, the Pangasinan KP lead convenor of the Kilusang Pagbababago-Lead Organization Inc. said the group has no mandate or authority to appoint barangay officials.
A Kilusang Pagbabago (Movement for Change) statement said it is a “people’s movement for true change towards a peaceful, safe, developed and progressive society in a federal republic of the Philippines.”
Lopez said there are individuals going around the province and in northern Luzon claiming they could facilitate appointments for barangay positions. 
Said individuals are reportedly collecting facilitation fee based on position.
 It was gathered that prices range from P300 to thousands of pesos/
 “Aside from fees collected. it has reached our attention that some individuals are using the Kilusang Pagbabago saying that they must be members of KP to be appointed as OIC barangay officials,” Lopez said.
“There is no truth to this as these individuals are out to sow false hopes and destroy the organization.”
Earlier, President Duterte called for postponement of barangay elections this October.
On June 8, the national leadership of Kilusang Pagbabago issued a warning.
The warning urged the public to beware of people who collect money supposedly for KP. “We are not collecting any amount from members or from the public. If you come across such people, please get his or her name, take a picture, and report the incident to our KP Hotline: (0995) 619 1171.” 
In Lingayen, more than 600 people took their oath as KP members at the Narciso Ramos Gym on June 5.

Majority of those who took their oath were from the 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts of the province namely the municipalities of :Aguilar, Basista, Binmaley, Bugallon, Labrador, Lingayen, Mangatarem, Urbiztondo,  Binmaley,  Mangatarem, Urbiztondo , and San Carlos City.


Vizcaya ‘little ex- governor’ charged

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya -- Former Acting Provincial Administrator Manuel Nilves Tabora, who was also Nueva Vizcaya’s Budget Officer, has been slapped with a graft and breach of conduct charge before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division for receiving money in exchange of his services as a local government official.
Tabora was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Section 7(d) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Sergio Duke Villar.
On the charge sheets filed against him, Tabora reportedly received P250,000 on April 12, 2011 from Steven R. Shieldkret, representative of International Minerals Marketing and Advising Inc. (IMMAI).
The money was in exchange for his assistance in securing the required permits for IMMAI for one of its ore trading business.
These permits are the Ore Transport Permit and the Mineral Ore Expert Permit, which are issued under the authority of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), where the provincial governor sits either as chairman or member.
His bail bond has been set at P60,000.

Shieldkret will serve as a witness in the case against Tabora.


P100-K bounty for arrest of Ilocos mayor’s killer

By Freddie G. Lazaro

LAOAG CITY -- The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) – Ilocos Norte Chapter raised a P100,000 reward for anyone who could provide pertinent information that will lead to the identification and arrest of the gunman in the brutal  killing of Marcos town Mayor Arsenio Agustin on June 3, 2017.
Agustin, 61 and Rusmar Valencia, 35, a backhoe operator were shot dead by a still unidentified suspect at an irrigation dam project site in Sitio Cabua-an, Barangay Mabuti, Marcos town.
Two other individuals, laborers Camilo Vasquez, 60, and Nolan Valencia, 18, were wounded in the attack.
Dingras Mayor Ergio Valenzuela LMP – Ilocos Norte Chapter president, said that the reward money was raised by the national and local LMP leadership.
Earlier, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos condemned the attack and ordered the law enforcement authorities to probe and arrest those behind the killing of Agustin, one of her close political allies.
“We condemn this heinous act.  We will spare no effort to find and punish the killers, said Marcos.
“I extend my prayers and sympathy to his family and friends, who have, over his time as mayor, become close to us,” added Marcos.

Meanwhile, Chief Insp. Dexter Corpuz, spokesperson of the Ilocos Norte police office, said a thorough probe on the incident is ongoing.


Benguet gov: Smuggling, Baguio truck ban killing veggie industry

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said smuggling and the Baguio City truck ban are killing the province’s vegetable industry which supplies around 75 percent of Metro Manila and the country’s vegetable supply.
He assailed the Baguio City council for not exempting Benguet vegetable traders and farmers from the city’s truck ban saying farmers are losing money due to this.
Following this, a public hearing on the proposed amendments to Baguio City Ordinance No. 5 series of 2017 or the truck ban ordinance has been scheduled on June 20 at 9 a.m. at Sangguniang Panlungsod session hall.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan earlier submitted an administrative order to the city council which said this has to be discussed first in a public hearing.
Vice Mayor Edison Bilog proposed an amendatory measure imposing exemptions to some affected delivery trucks out of necessity.
 The proposed revisions were consolidated in a proposed amendatory ordinance introduced by the committee on public utilities, transportation and traffic legislation headed by Councilor Benny Bomogao.
 “The City Council deems it necessary to provide a regulated exemption to trucks loading perishable goods, mineral ores, those used in the implementation government projects and water delivery trucks.  There is also a need to amend the references of the truck ban to maximize the use of the circumferential roads,” the proponents noted.
 As proposed, heavy vehicles, trailers, dump and other freight trucks with gross weight capacity of more than 4,500 kg. shall not enter, traverse, park, load, unload or pass through main streets in Baguio from 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 9 p.m.
But according to farmers, these were prime time when they had to pass city streets so they could catch up with market time to unload fruits and vegetables in the lowlands so these will not wilt.           
Farmers and farmers’ organizations also lamented proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the local market, which had adversely affected the province’s vegetable growing industry.
The farmers and traders raised the alarming issue during a recent visit of Sen. JV Ejercito here.
Ejercito, who authored Republic Act 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural smuggling law, said that he visited Benguet to enhance cooperation and consult local farmers on effects of the law on local agriculture and farmers.
Pacalso welcomed the Senator during his visit along with La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, Kabayan Mayor Gideon Tadiano, Kibungan Mayor Manny Fermin, Itogon Mayor Victor Palangdan and Atok Mayor Peter Alos and local government officials to discuss the matter.
The Senator said the issue on smuggled vegetables will have a strong opponent in the passed RA 10845,
“We know that smuggled vegetables kill our farmers who are already burdened by the high cost of production,” Ejercito said.
He said for a nation where 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture as  sole means of livelihood, there is need for government to look after welfare of farmers and agricultural sector.
“I know that there are hard times in the agricultural sector, and any existence of smuggling of agricultural products will add insult to the already burdened economy to all of you, who live as subsistence farmers,” Ejercito said in addressing the farmers and the local government officials with regards to the issue.
He said he will call the attention of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to go after and cause prosecution of smugglers.

Ejercito also promised to dig deeper into reports that smuggled vegetables are laden with formalin to extend shelf life. – With a report from Aileen P. Refuerzo


2 NPA leaders surrender to army brass in Ilocos

By Freddie G. Lazaro

SANTA CRUZ, Ilocos Sur — Two ranking members of the New People’s Army surrendered to officers of the 81st Infantry Battallion last week.
Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, 81st IB commander, said the identities of the names of the NPA were withheld for security reasons.
“Through our persistent efforts, we were able to convince the NPA rebels to surrender,” said Osias.
Both surrenderees were team leader of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang Guerilya (KLG) Montes that operates in the tri-boundaries of Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur.
Both of them also turned over their firearms.
One of the surrenderees said that what drove him to surrender was the ‘purposeless’ battles and wars which have affected the lives of thousands of young people for the past five decades.
He added that the government’s development projects are now gaining momentum under the Duterte administration.
Osias said his unit will continue to advocate peaceful resolution of the internal security problem.

“Despite the on-going crisis in Mindanao, we will not cease our efforts in neutralizing the NPA rebels here in Northern Luzon in any way we could,” Osias said.


IP group alarmed over state agents harassing organizer

By Aldwin Quitasol

BAGUIO CITY — The biggest alliance of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera expressed alarm on stalking and harassing of one of its youth organizers by suspected military or police agents.
Early morning of June 3, Rina Mangili Libongen, secretary general of Bileg ken Urnos dagiti Agtutubo nga Ybenguet (Strength and Unity of the Benguet Youth-Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance) was reportedly accosted by one of two men who clasped her forearm.
He only let go when shopkeepers started opening the doors to their stores. 
The two men fled.  But later that day, they tailed her again.
According to the Kabenguetan Agkaykaysa nga Ilaban ken Aywanan ti Biag, Daga, ken Kinabaknang-CPA Benguet Chapter (Benguet Unite to Defend and Nurture Life, Land, and Resources or KAIABANG), Libongen has been organizing youth and children for the theater arts and Cordillera people’s movement since her college days at the Benguet State University in the early 2000s.
The organization added that Libongen was instrumental in establishing the youth group BUDAy in 2010.
“Since May 27 this year, Rima has been stalked and harassed by two men whom we suspect to be military or police agents.  The two have been tailing her both in Itogon and in Baguio City.  On May 30, one of these men monitored the proceedings of a youth assembly that Rima facilitated in the Itogon Training Center in Bua, Tuding, Benguet,” reported the CPA.
On the afternoon of June 3, Libongen received a text message on her cell phone saying “Marami ka palang pinupuntahang lugar” (Oh, so you go to many places).  To avoid getting harassed again by text messages, Rima changed her number.  But on June 8, she received a new message saying, “Tukoy ka na” (You’ve been pinpointed).”
“We, Rima’s colleagues in KAIABANG-CPA Benguet Chapter believe that the two men who have been stalking and harassing Rima are doing so to intimidate her.  They want instill fear in her so that she will give up her activities as a leader and organizer of the Benguet youth movement.  We also fear, however, that their agenda might include more than harassment and intimidation, and so are anxious for our colleague’s safety especially since Rima remains stubborn in her commitment to our shared cause,” CPA stated.

Libongen is a 35-year old mother of three.  She is a member of the music group Salidummay, She is also a member of the IP music group Salidummay singing songs of Cordillera peoples’ struggle to defend their land and heritage.


OFW files concubinage case against husband

HINGYON, Ifugao – An overseas foreign worker filed a case for concubinage against her husband here last week for allegedly having a paramour and bearing two children with her.  
The OFW, whose name was not disclosed reported to police here Tuesday that her 36-year-old husband who was not also named was having an illicit relationship with a certain Janice N. Mariano of Poblacion East, Lagawe.
 Investigation disclosed that the victim went to Hongkong as an overseas foreign worker on Oct. 24, 2012 leaving their 9-year-old son under the care of her husband and his sister. On November 2012, the husband reportedly started to have an affair with Mariano who later bore a child. Victim was informed about her husband’s affair but the latter denied that he was the father of the child.
 Later, the victim forgave the husband who promised stop his relationship with Mariano. But after a year, word reached the victim that her husband was the father of another child of Mariano.
The husband denied this and urged the victim not to believe the information. But the OFW reportedly saw a Facebook photo showing Mariano, her husband and their two kids. Due to this, the victim came home and stayed at their house. She tried to accept her husband and what he did but after more than a month of staying together, her husband was often out for many days and victim suspected that he was visiting his paramour.
 Police arrested the suspect who was reportedly instilling fear on his children. A case of concubinage was filed at the prosecutor’s office against the husband


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