Thousands rally over death of student while in police custody

>> Thursday, November 20, 2014

BONTOC, Mountain Province – More than a thousand folks rallied at the provincial plaza here Nov. 12 calling for an impartial investigation and justice on the death of a student allegedly while under police custody.

Gov. Leonard  Mayaen  including other officials and students of Mt Province Student Polytechnique College joined the rally saying an indepth probe should be done on the matter.
Five policemen of this capital town have been relieved of their posts after being tagged as suspects in the death of Stephen BosnengGalidan, 19 of Bauko town, second year student of the MPSPCwho died at the Bontoc General Hospital while being treated Nov. 5.

This, as Anakbayan, a national cause-oriented group pressed for a speedy, impartial investigation on the case.

A regional police report said investigation was being conducted by Mt. Province police on involvement of SPO4 Rolando K. Bagangan; SPO4 Michael T. Napaeg; SPO3 Lester A. Faba-an,  SPO2 Gaspar M. Suagen and PO3 Raul T. Fagsao  on the death of Galidan.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Isagani R. Nerez said if found guilty, they will be held liable for their actions and appropriate sanctions will be imposed against them. 

The cops were relieved from Bontoc police and reassigned to provincial police office pending investigation. 
Senior Supt. Oliver Enmodias, Police Provincial Office director, said investigation is being handled now by the National Bureau of Investigation.

A police report said the victim together with his two companions identified as RoldanLibangBanwa and Carmelo Charles Battateng Bautista, both 22 years old, students, and natives of Bauko town came out from Virtual Liquor Bar, Poblacion and about to go to Cable Café and Bar but they were prohibited by patrolling tanods (village watchmen) because of liquor ban night of Nov. 4.

The report said while on the road, two patrolling cops observed the victim and his companions creating trouble. One of them was reportedly holding and swinging an empty bottle causing danger to a passerby prompting the policemen to accost them.

The three reportedly argued with the cops prompting the latter to apprehend them particularly the person who was holding the bottle.

Three policemen on board a patrol car responded and assisted the two policemen.

Galidan reportedly resisted the arrest and took pictures of his companion who was holding an empty bottle being apprehended while his two companions ran away.

Galidan asked SPO2 Gaspar M. Suagen, driver of the mobile car to bring him to the police station to file complaint.

But before reaching the station, the victim allegedly jumped out from the police car.

Being injured they reportedly brought him immediately to the  BGHby SPO3 Suagen and PO3 Leonardo Fang-asan.

Other witnesses reportedly said the victim asked forgiveness from the policemen for jumping out from the patrol car.

Another witness reportedly voluntarily gave her statement to the investigators saying she saw a person who suddenly jumped out from the moving patrol car along the road fronting the Bontoc police station.

But one witness, reportedly a relative of the victim said cops allegedly mauled Galidan causing his death.

Based on review of CCTV footage, Galidan was accompanied by two policemen towards the police car before proceeding to the police station.

In said rally, attending rallyists also called for justice for student Sarah Becyagen who died September 2012 in a rape-slay incident.

Case was forwarded to the NBI for investigation by parents of the victim.

In a press conference, other death cases were brought to the attention of Enmodias who said he shall be reviewing cases of Becyagen;and FlorenciaKayohan and another artist from Sabangan who died along the Chico River in recent years during night time under reported mysterious circumstances.

This to include other unsolved murder cases of Elmo Panoyo and Christopher Balicag  in northern Sagada in recent years.  

Meanwhile, Anakbayan,condemned “the police brutality leading to thedeath of Galidan.

King Cris Pulmano, spokesperson of Anakbayan-Cordillera said in a press statement “government and its related authorities must upholdjustice even if it includes prosecuting members and/or officers of itsagencies such as the policemen responsible for the death of Galidan.”

Galidan’s family and friends believe he was mauled by police resulting to his death.

Pulmano said during his arrest, Galidan, together with his companions was already reportedly maltreated and beaten by said policemen.

Clearly, this is another case of human rights abuse perpetrated by government authorities even to the youth. Even if Galidan committed violations as what the policemen claimed, this does not justify thebrutal actions he suffered from the said policemen.”

Torture, force or violence against a person under investigation is a violation ofArticle III, section 12, paragraph 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Section 14 of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 provides authorities should be prosecuted andpunished for such acts.

Anakbayan said Galidan’s death was not an isolated case of human rights violations bymen in uniform saying this was rampant in the Cordillera.

Last September, members of 41st Infantry Battalion reportedly tortured and massacred two civilians during one of their military operations in Lacub Abra.

Recently, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reportedly filed a court case against another student of MPSPC, accusing her as member of the New People’s Army. 

“As if this is just a joke for the AFP, they never showed their faces during hearings as the victim remains in jail while case hearing continues. These cases are in addition to the massacre of the Ligiw family, also in Abra, and the extra-judicial killing of William Bugatti in Ifugao this year. Until now, their family, relatives and their communities are still seeking justice on these violations committed by the AFP,” Anakbayan said.

Meanwhile, Nerez, urged other witnesses to give their statements for documentation to determine other circumstances related to the incident. 

“Despite the incident, PRO-Cordillera assures the public that this incident is an isolated case and the PNP organization extends its condolences to the family of the victim and vows to seek justice for Galidan’s untimely death,” Nerez said. 

An autopsy on Galidan’s body was conducted by medico-legal officer of NBI-Cordillera while regional police doctor observed. Results have not been released yet.

“PRO-COR leadership reiterates to all personnel to act and behave like a true police officer.” As the primary law enforcer agency in the country, it is our duty to uphold the law at all times and not the other way around,” Nerez said.

He urged the public to help the Philippine National Police by reporting rogue police officers as well as providing relevant and timely information through social media (Twitter-@PNPCordillera or Facebook Page- PioProcor, or through the following numbers: Complaint Referral -094765880 / 09174297628; Regional Tactical Operation Center (074) 422-5515; 09175302679/ 09285591669. – With a report from Gina


‘Blatant errors, abuse in disposition of Baguio lots’

By Julie G. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY – “Blatant errors and brazen abuse of authority in the disposition of public lands” have been happening and are still being done in this summer capital.

This, according to councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr. who recommended several moves to recover lands, some pegged for barangay and city needs, in a speech delivered during city council session at city hall.

These include:

      -Passing a resolution urging the AO 504 Regional clearing committee to cancel some Townsite Sales Applications (TSA);
        -A resolution for the rejection of TSAs within lands for public use; and that applicants be notified;
     -A joint undertaking of the Local Government of Baguio and partner agencies, of clear-cut guidelines to forestall future irregularities;
        -Revocation of building and fencing permits, and demolition of illegal structures;
        -Funds for additional staff of AO 504 as lands clearing committee;
        -A clear-cut meeting with concerned personalities and agencies as to city land concerns, and for cases to be filed against erring personalities;
        -An “honest-to goodness review” of city and barangay land titling applications;
        -The passage of the City Lands Use Plan (CLUP) and Zoning ordinance; and the city legal office to institute appropriate action as to a road-right of way lot claimed for other purposes by a private individual.

The move stemmed from observed cases displaying “blatant errors and brazen abuse of authority in the disposition of public lands in the city of Baguio.”

The need to cancel some TSAs is due to these being within a road lot, or its being commercial in nature, but should only be residential. There are also applications approved, due to “a clear case of grave abuse of discretion,” Yangot said.     

 One applicant is allegedly involved in a case … “now at the center of investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,” the councilor added.

 There are also conflicting issuances as to the process being followed in the awarding of titles, thus the need for the agencies to set procedures and conform to it.

The speech should serve as “a wake-up call to all concerned government agencies,” with a call for suggestions and inputs. 

Another privilege speech is being prepared for delivery at the council session as to ancestral land claims in the city, the councilor said.


Palace, Cordillera officials doubt special region legality

By Dexter A. See 

BAGUIO CITY -- Some Palace and Cordillera officials are now questioning the legality of the proposed creation of a special region in the Cordillera over and above the snowballing clamor for regional autonomy.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said there will be no compelling reason to create another Cordillera Special Region that will be in lieu of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), thus, the need for political leaders, civil society groups and the autonomy advocates to get their acts together and ascertain the proper direction of the region.

 “Cordillerans must continue conducting more consultations in the grassroots level in order to ascertain what would be the appropriate direction of the region, whether to push through with the clamor for autonomy, to establish a special region or to maintain the CAR,” Secretary Abad stressed.

The DBM Secretary said if the intention of the creation of the Cordillera Special Region is to be able to secure more funding support from the national government, rules and guidelines are already in place on how local governments will be able to access more funding support from the government, thus, there is no longer need for the establishment of an added layer of bureaucracy.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan branded the latest move of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera to establish a special region as illegal and unconstitutional considering that a mere executive order to be issued by the President for such purpose cannot amend Executive Order No. 220 which created the CAR during the revolutionary government.

Domogan said orders and issuances of former President Cory Aquino when she was exercising both executive and legislative powers during the revolutionary government are considered part of the laws of the land but under the present set up where the law making powers of the government are lodged with the legislative branch, specifically the House of Representatives and the Senate, amendments of previously issued laws belong to both chambers of Congress.

“In the case of the proposal to create a special region in the Cordillera through the mere issuance of an executive order, we believe that such strategy is not in accordance with the present set up. Such proposal must still pass through deliberations of Congress,” Domogan said.

Domogan said the only remedy for the region to be able to get more funding support from the national government is for the passage of House Bill (HB) 4649 which seeks to establish the autonomous region in the Cordillera that will put an end to the 27-year struggle of Cordilleras for self-governance.

Abra Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin, who is also the RDC-CAR chairman, claimed the clamor for a special region in the Cordillera is without prejudice to the passage of the desired autonomy law.

“We will still work out the passage of the autonomy law and the subsequent ratification of the law by our people to achieve the dream of those who fought for the establishment of our region.”Bersamin said.

Bersamin said the special region will serve as a transitional region in reparation for the quest for autonomy and will be abolished as soon as the six provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao and the cities of Baguio and Tabuk shall have ratified the autonomy bill to be passed by Congress in the future.

La Trinidad Mayor Edna C. Tabanda said she has been always open open for the establishment of an autonomous region but there is a need to sustain the aggressive information and education campaign for the people to understand the benefits of self-governance.

Tabanda said the proposed special region might complicate the region’s quest for regional autonomy and would result to further confusion among the people who are now being slowly updated and informed on the true essence of autonomy vis-à-vis development in the countryside.


5 riders die in one day in Cagayan, Ilocos Sur

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur — A total of five motorcycle riders were killed in separate road accidents in this province and Ilocos Sur last Wednesday, prompting police authorities to warn motorbike riders to take extra precaution along national roads.

Senior Police Officer 1 Ronald Pasual, chief investigator of the Iguig Municipal Police Station (MPS), said three riders on one motorcycle were killed instantly in an accident the other day in Barangay Salamagui.

Pasual identified the fatalities as Santiago Buquel, Benigno Buquel, and Jerry Paleg, whose motorcycle allegedly veered to the opposite lane and run smack into an oncoming van.

Van driver Fredolyn Oñate and two of his occupants were injured in the head-on collision, the prober added.
In Candon City, Ilocos Sur, another motorcycle figured in a road accident with a passenger bus, killing its two riders.

Police identified the fatalities as Albert Soliven and RonelSagun, who had allegedly sped off from a police checkpoint on the national highway prior to the collision.

Probers noted that the southbound bus, driven by Jonel Gubatan, 40, was slow moving when it collided with the motorcycle.


La Union declares slain officer hero

BACNOTAN, La Union – A young Army officer killed in an ambush by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sumisip, Basilan was declared by La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega and members of the provincial board a hero Monday due to his bravery and dedication to service.

The provincial board, headed by Vice Governor Aureo Nisce, unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the courageous act of 2nd Lt. Jun G. Corpuz, 22, who died along with five other soldiers after an ambush by Abu Sayyaf bandits while guarding a government project in Basilan.

“Sayang, sana nakita niya kung papano siyatin ang gap ng maraming kababayan niya bilang bayani (My son should have seen how he was welcomed back by his townmates as a hero),” said Cresencio, father of Corpuz, at their residence where the fallen hero lies in state. The soldier’s burial is tentatively scheduled on Nov. 29.

Before Corpuz was placed in a white casket – with a Philippine flag draped over it, his remains were met by a huge crowd that included Bacnotan and barangay officials.

The flag in the municipal hall was flown half-mast as well as in public schools.

Army sentries were posted as sympathizers and onlookers passed by the coffin. Faculty members and students from his school, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University where he took up BS Engineering course before going to the PMA, lined-up the street to welcome back their esteemed alumnus.

“It’s the first time to have a momentous incident like this in the barangay,” said barangay chairman George Hernandez, who is Corpuz’s grandfather.

Cresencio has also allowed his other son, 17-year-old Christian, to follow in the footsteps of his brother in the
PMA despite the dangers of the job.

Corpuz, was the fourth among the eight children of Cresencio and Elizabeth. He was a fresh graduate from the Philippine Military Academy and reported for duty as a platoon leader of the Alpha Company, 64th Infantry Battalion in the tragic encounter with the ASG.


Former Abra rebel raises pigs for ‘peace development’

CAMP JUAN VILLAMOR, Bangued, Abra—Happy to receive remuneration for a surrendered firearm, a former rebel said for peace and development, he plans to start raising pigs from the money he received last week.

 Wilson Balansi, a member of the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development (CFPD), formerly known as the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), said he plans to buy two to four pigs this month to start his hog-raising project to augment his salary.

This will bring extra income to my family and will help prepare my children for better education, he said.

Balansi belongs to the last batch of former rebels in Abra to receive their financial remuneration this year. Other CFPD members received their payment earlier.

Balansi is now employed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a forest guard under the Bantay Gubat project of the government.

Employment under the Bantay Gubat project is one of the options open to former rebels under the Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2011 by the government and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army-Cordillera Bodong Administration (CPLA-CBA).

The objective of the MOA or the closure agreement is "towards the CPLA's final disposition of arms and forces and its transformation into a potent socioeconomic unarmed force."

Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Albertlito Garcia, provincial police director, told the former rebels to choose how to spend their money. The view was echoed by Decimia Cabang of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, saying the money should be enough to start a small business.

Both Garcia and Cabang were witnesses to the remuneration turnover conducted by representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. 


Onion farmers seek summit on ASEAN integration

By Sheen Crisologo

BONGABON, Nueva Ecija — In the interest of onion farmers, Mayor Allan Xystus Gamilla of this town has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to call a summit on the forthcoming integration of the member-economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Leading a town known as the country’s onion capital, Gamilla said local farmers are apprehensive of what he termed as the apparent lack of prior strategic planning of the DA with regards to the integration’s effects on the competitiveness of the country’s onion industry.

Gamilla said the DA should draw up a comprehensive road map to make onion farmers competitive amid the expected entry of imported onions with the economic integration in 2015.

“As of now, the DA has no clear plan to prepare our onion farmers for the coming integration. That’s why I think we need to hold a summit and discuss how onion farmers could cope with  the coming integration,” he said.

Gamilla said Bongabon remains as the country’s top producer of onions yet local farmers’ fear being unable to compete with their counterparts from other member economies. “We might be placed at a disadvantage unless there are interventions in place. Maybe, the government should consider subsidizing us,” he said.


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