Mountain cracks, landslide threaten to bury alive Bontoc folks, 69 houses

>> Monday, October 27, 2014


By Alpine L. Killa

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Mountain “cracks” and landslides along the Digdig Fault here threaten to bury alive villagers and 69 houses, including a “dap-ay or ato” (sacred huts), newly constructed barangay hall and waiting shed at Barangay Gonogon.

Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen had ordered the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to inspect the site following report of Sally Cherwaken of the Provincial Planning and Development Office that Digdig Fault line traverses the village and is susceptible to rain-induced landslide.

Data presented by Cherwaken during a Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council meeting was downloaded from the website of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

PDRRMO personnel led by PDRRM officer Anacleto B. Tangilag, Sally Cherwaken and Bontoc Councilor John Tay-og Peleo recently checked the site after Gonogon barangay captain Rudy Guitalao told them cracks could be seen above the national road.

Below the national road is Sitio Simbugan.

Gonogon folks said they feared they could be buried alive if the crack widens and the landslide continues. 

Guitalao said villagers constructed a drainage canal above all cracks to divert water flow and prevent erosion especially during  rainy season.

However, the slope above the national road eroded even without heavy rain.

Tangilag said the provincial government is now coordinating with Mines and Geosciences Bureau – Cordillera Administrative Region to conduct studies in the area to determine cause of cracks and landslides.

He said the MGB could recommend action to prevent loss of lives and properties if the cracks will widen and erode, burying the houses below the national road.

Five municipalities of this province are traversed by faultlines and epicenters with barangays susceptible to erosion as well as flood prone areas.

This was indicated by the geo-hazard map which bared most roads in the 10 towns of the province, except the eastern municipality of Paracelis, were susceptible to rain- induced landslides.

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P’sinan gov faces graft over illegal sand mining


LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against Pangasinan governor Amado Espino and several provincial government officials for over P10 million in illegal black sand mining trade in the Lingayen Gulf area.

Aside from Espino, the Environmental Ombudsman filed two counts of graft against Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, Cynthia Camara and Lolita Bolayog of the Alexandra Mining and Oil Ventures, Inc.

Also indicted were Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development Coordinating officer Alvin Bigay, Alexandra Mining directors Cesar Detera, Edwin Alcazar, Denise Ann SiaKho Po, Annlyn Detera, Glenn Subia and Emiliano Buenavista and Michael Ramirez, Gina Alcazar and Avery Pujol of Xypher Builders, Inc.

In the joint resolution, the Environmental Ombudsman said that when Espino assumed as governor in June 2007, he crafted the Site Development Plan that would turn the area into an eco-tourism complex, with the development of two 18-hole golf courses at par with international standards.

Immediately after, a negotiated contract was entered into between the local government and Alexandra Mining with soil remediation activities conducted in Barangay Sabangan as pilot area.

On June 29, 2011, a Small Scale Mining Permit (SSMP) was issued in favor of Alexandra Mining. 

Barely three weeks later, Baraan issued a Notice of Cancellation of the SSMP and ordered Alexandra Mining to vacate the area.

A memorandum of agreement was entered into between Espino and Xypher Builders on Aug. 8, 2011 for the removal of metallic materials from the sand pile already vacated by Alexandra Mining.

Upon request for investigation made by residents of the affected barangays, the investigating team of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Region I issued a report on Oct. 18, 2011 recommending that the SSMP in favor of Alexandra Mining be cancelled as it was not issued with an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

It also said that the Alexandra Mining should be penalized for putting up a mineral processing plant sans ECC and that a cease and desist order be issued stopping the mining firm from further extracting beach sand pending the resolution of the issue.

On Oct. 26, 2011, the provincial government issued a gratuitous permit, authorizing Xypher Buildings and the Provincial Housing and Development Coordinating Office to extract and utilize loose and unconsolidated  materials, and recover magnetite sand in Sabangan.

Espino also issued a Mineral Ore Export Permit in favor of Xypher.

The Environmental Ombudsman discovered that both Alexandra Mining and the Xypher Builders are not registered contractors with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board.

It also found out that the ECC was issued later in favor of Baraan for the Lingayen Golf Course Project only on Jan. 2, 2013.

Alexandra Mining is not registered as a legitimate business establishment in Lingayen.

Aside from the criminal indictments, Baraan and Bigay were found administratively liable for grave misconduct and meted with the penalty of dismissal from the government service.

Meanwhile, the complaints against Lingayen mayor Ernesto Castañeda, Jr., Sabangan Barangay chairman Hector Fabiana, Estanza barangay chairman Mario Navarro, Malimpuec barangay chairman Delfin Velasco and provincial consultant Eric Acuña were dismissed for lack of merit.

Ombudsman ConchitaCarpio-Morales re-activated the Ombudsman Environmental Team in  May 2012 to handle cases filed with the office against government officials and individuals accused of violating environmental laws.

The team is headed by Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera as Environmental Ombudsman.

The provincial government has remained mum, as of press time, on the indictment of Espino, Jr. and 13 other officials by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) in connection with the alleged operation of unlicensed mining firms extracting black sand on government property in the province.

“Wala pa dahil wala pa naman kami narerecieve na kopyang joint resolution (There’s no comment yet because we have not yet received a copy of the joint resolution),” said Provincial Information Officer Butch Velasco, when asked about the case filed by the OMB.

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Man takes 13 bus passengers hostage


CAUAYAN, Isabela – Police arrested a man who got on the Everlasting bus here Wednesday morning and when they were along North Luzon Expressway in Guiguinto, Bulacan, took hostage 13 bus passengers, including a four-year-old boy.

Hostage taker Lauro Sanchez, 35, of Agoncillo, Batangas, was subdued following a two-hour hostage drama, Police Regional Office 3 director Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta said.

All passengers taken hostage by Sanchez, who was initially identified as Larry Miranda, were released unharmed.

Two police officers, identified as Supt. Frankie Candelario and Senior Inspector Isagani Santos, were hurt when they subdued Sanchez, who was armed with a knife.    

The bus carrying 45 passengers was headed for Cubao, Quezon City. 

When the bus reached the expressway’s Sta. Rita toll exit at around 6:30 a.m., Sanchez grabbed a male passenger and held him hostage at knifepoint.

The bus driver and conductor along with the other passengers managed to get off the bus.

The 13 passengers were trapped inside with the suspect.

Bulacan police chief Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina said he formed a team to negotiate with Sanchez, who appeared to be mentally unstable.

The suspect, who claimed he wanted to clear his name of robbery charges, asked for journalists to be present and a car with a driver.

When negotiations failed, a Special Weapons and Tactics team from the Bulacan police entered the bus at around 8:40 a.m., said deputy regional director for operations Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe.

Policemen were able to pin down the hostage-taker after grappling for his knife.

Sanchez was detained at the Guiguinto police detention cell.

Teresita Ramos, mother of Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos, said she told Sanchez that her son was a reporter when the hostage-taker demanded the presence of journalists.

Ramos said she and her niece were seated by the window while the hostage taker was beside them.

She said she was left behind when the other passengers got off the bus and saw the suspect poke a knife at a man.

She said she told the suspect that she saw her son’s car outside and that she should go out to talk to him.

The suspect allowed her to go out. Minutes later, two police officers posing as journalists entered the bus and subdued the suspect.  

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NGCP: Sufficient power supply for Luzon grid


By Peter Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said there is sufficient supply of power for Luzon provided no force majeure happens affecting the energy industry.

Lawyer Cynthia Alabanza, the corporation’s spokesperson,  said NGCP’s gross power supply reserve is sufficient to fill in the needed supply for Luzon as projected in their weekly power outlook.

NGCP’s Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 weekly power outlook showed 1,437MW gross reserve on Oct. 1 which is  high against a possible occurrence of a power crisis from projection of 600MW shortage in Luzon in 2015.

Late September, NGCP’s gross reserve for Luzon was pegged at 1,658MW; Sept. 29 at 1,573MW, Sept. 30 at 1,469MW; and Oct. 2 at 1,407MW.

Alabanza said the power outlook is subject to change depending on actual power system conditions. “What also changes decision particularly on the part of government is the condition of power generation plants like if one or two plants collapse or are undergoing repair,” she said.

To ensure power supply reliability, Redi Allan Remoroza, transmission planning department head, said construction of towers and power lines of the 118 km 230KV Santiago-Tuguegarao Line 2 project is ongoing and would be done in 2015 He said there is also plan for a 64 km. Tuguegarao-Magapit 230 KV Line Project targeted completed in 2017.

“The 230KV power line serves as a buffer in the event that 69kV lines collapse as a result of calamity damages.

Another NGCP project is to increase capacity of sub-stations with the ongoing installation of 100 MVA transformer at Tuguegarao City targeted to be completed in December 2014. The long term transmission development is the North Luzon 230kV Loop.

NGCP said replacement of destroyed and rotten poles along  its  69kV power line between Solana, Cagayan and this city is a continuing activity to ensure reliability of power for consumers.

Alexander Alvarez, operations and maintenance head of Cagayan Valley area that covers the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao, said they have replaced 20 percent of wooden posts to steel along said stretch.

“This is a continuing project and we assure our consumers that reliability of power is our utmost goal along this plan,” he said.

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Tuguegarao PNP chief sacked over crime rise


TUGUEGARAO CITY – The chief of police here was relieved from his post amid rising criminality in the city. 

Chief Supt. Miguel Laurel, Cagayan Valley police director, confirmed the relief of Superintendent Julius Ordonio on Tuesday. 

“He failed to maintain peace and order in his area of jurisdiction,” Laurel said. Supt. Jessie Tamayao took over Ordonio’s post in an acting capacity. 

Ordonio’s relief came in the wake of the killing of Chinese-Filipino trader Andy Chua and Gyorgy Tong, aide of Cagayan Rep. Randolph Ting, on Oct. 2. 

Laurel also cited the wounding of two college students in a reported shootout with police along Balzain Avenue.

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Apayao DENR exec hurt in LU mishap


BAUANG, La Union -- An official of the environment and natural resources office in Apayao was injured when a truck hit his car here Monday.

Raul Castro, community environment and natural resources officer of Luna town, was reported to be in critical condition at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City.

Castro’s four companions were unhurt in the incident.

Reports said the victim and his companions were in a car parked along the road in Barangay Paringao when a 10-wheeler truck driven by Rogelio Rasco rammed them.

Case officer Senior Police Officer 1 Marlon Panitan said the group was going to Baguio City for a seminar.

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Mayor urges Baguio folks: Avail of Comelec offsite registration


By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan encouraged residents here to avail of the offsite registration activities currently being undertaken by the Commission on Elections in various venues in the city.

Comelec Baguio City election officer John Paul Martin sought the mayor’s assistance in disseminating the registration schedule to reach out and encourage more qualified citizens to avail of the registration process.

Martin said the registration is in line with the provisions of Republic Act 10367 which mandate that “registered voters with no biometrics (digital photograph, digitally captured signature and fingerprints) will be deactivated.”

“While they have been able to vote in the past, they will no longer be able to participate in the 2016 elections if they do not have their biometrics taken by the end of the current registration period,” Martin said.

The offsite registration was piloted at City Hall last July 7 and has since been conducted per barangay district.

Registration started Sept. 7 in some barangays.

On Oct. 26 (today) , registration will be held at district 11 at Lualhati barangay hall.

Other schedules: Nov. 9 – district 6 at MRR Queen of Peace barangay hall; Nov. 16 – district 13 at Camp 8 police station; Nov. 23 – district 18 at Kayang Hilltop barangay hall; and Nov. 30 – district 4 at Phil-Am barangay hall.

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