By Gina Dizon
SAGADA, Mountain Province -- Members of the Sangguniang Bayan led by Vice Mayor Benjamin Capuyan issued a resolution urging members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deployed at vicinity of Lake Danum to pull out from Sagada.
In their resolution requesting the AFP to pull out from Lake Danum, located within the boundaries of Sagada and neighboring Besao town, the legislative officials said the presence of the soldiers may result in armed conflict endangering the lives of participants of the provincial scout jamboree set Dec. 12-15 at Lake Danum area.
Earlier, Capuyan with some members of the Sangguniang Bayan and officers of the Department of Education visited the soldiers and told them to leave to ensure safety and security of the people of the town especially farmers and tourists trekking the mountainsides.
In an interview with 2nd Lt Col John Chester Dalit, commanding officer of the 503rd company stationed at Lake Danum, Dalit said their presence in the area was up to the decision of officials of higher command when they will leave.
The 503rd Infantry Brigade with headquarters at Lagangilang, Abra is headed by Col Paul Atal.
Other government armed forces are stationed at Lasig at the northern part of Lake Danum and at Ampakaw within the vicinity of the Smart telecom tower site located a few kilometers away at the southern side of Lake Danum.
On Nov. 16, civilian Raymund Bacali and a certain Robin from Bangaan were on their way home from small scale mining at the boundaries of Abra and northern Sagada when they were held as guides by government armed forces to lead their way.
Bacali along with two other soldiers were wounded when New People’s Army rebels sniped at them at Sitio Amtinangad, Ambagiw, Besao.
Earlier, the Sagada local government unit officials led by Mayor Edwardo Latawan entered into a memorandum of agreement with the AFP represented by Lt Col Richard Sibayan of the 50th Infantry Batallion for the local chief executive to take the lead role in internal peace and security operations.
The proposed agreement by the AFP was amended by the Sangguniang Bayan officials with the provision to respect Sagada as a peace zone.
Sagada as a peace zone was established in 1989 by the people of the tourist town following the bloody death of three children – one caught in a crossfire and two caught in gun shooting of drunk soldiers within the market compound October 1988 at the height of insurgency and bloody AFP-NPA encounters .
The 1989 peace zone arrived at by an angry and grieving community who emphasized no armed groups- from both the military and NPA rebels should stay within the territory of Sagada.
By Gina Dizon
BONTOC, Mountain Province -- With the demise of Dr. Eufemia Changat Lamen, president of Mountain Province State Polytechnique College (MPSPC) due to a vehicular accident Nov. 30, along the Halsema Highway in Atok, Benguet, she leaves behind a legacy as a dynamic personality who made things happen.
Educator, accountant and achiever Lamen envisioned MPSPC becoming a university in two years by 2016 in response to conditions provided in Republic Act 10583 converting MPSPC into a state university to be known as the Mountain Province State University.
These conditions are doable, Lamen then said during a press conference July this year with Montanosa Press Club, saying operational requirements provided in the law were achievable for said school to become a university two years from now.
Her plans for the school can be done with the assumption of whoever will take over as MPSPC head to steer the school to its university status.
One condition of RA 10583 cited the school should have gained Level 111 accreditation or equivalent under Commission on Higher Education (CHED) policies for at least four of its undergraduate programs, one in liberal arts, and one in the sciences and two of its graduate programs.
Lamen in an earlier interview said one prioritized course is on agriculture and a liberal arts program. Currently there are two major bachelor programs of MPSPC- College of Arts and Sciences in the main Bontoc campus and the College of Engineering and Technology and Forestry at the Tadian Campus.
Also, adequate library and laboratories are a requirement with a P7 million support fund from Commission on Higher Education (CHED) this year. Lamen said the necessary facilities such as books and laboratory equipment shall be purchased as soon as possible.
Lam-en joined MPSPC in 1980 until she became college dean and resigned in 2007 when she joined and overwhelmingly won in the political race for the Provincial Board for District 1 of Mt. Province in the 2007 local and national elections.
She was the first woman legislator of the SangguniangPanlalawigan for District 1 of Mountain Province.
She was secretary to the Provincial Board in 2010 until she resigned March 2013 and registered her interest to file her application as president of MPSPC.
She won eight votes of confidence of 12 members of the MPSPC Board of Trustees over two other contenders to the position- Dr Zacarias Baluscang, former president of Apayao State College, and Dr. Joel Depalog, dean of the Education department of MPSPC.
She took her oath of office as president of the institution in turnover ceremonies March 20 this year following the Board of Trustees March 18 elections and in simple ceremonies held at the college library, Lam-en accepted the school leadership from acting president Dr. Geraldine Madjaco with the presence of Mountain Province Gov. Leonard Mayaen, Bontoc elder and provincial legislator Alfonso Kiatong and faculty, staff and students of MPSPC.
In said ceremony, Lam-en said her priority projects included furnishing of the library with additional and necessary books and purchase of needed laboratory equipment.
Lack of books and laboratory equipment were major complaints of students.
The former college dean and MPSPC head also said there is a need for an “honest to goodness faculty development plan.”
There are some 200 faculty members of the college teaching some 5,000 students yearly enrolled in two campuses - the main campus in Bontoc and the Tadian site.
Lamen said research and extension was a priority program to slice 15 percent of the P100 million plus budget of the school.
She assigned Depalog as Vice President for Research, an appointment she sees as one fitting for the job and the challenges that the school faces.
Depalog unfortunately met an untimely death in a vehicular accident August this year.
Research and development output of practical application to the community is specially cited as a condition in MPSPC becoming a university.
In an interview with Lamen she said a review of the researches already done for application was most needed.
A consistent honor student, Eufemia Changat Lamen graduated in elementary grades of Easter school as valedictorian in 1969 and valedictorian in Easter High School in 1973.
She graduated cum laude in her degree Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Accountancy at the University of Baguio in 1977.
She passed the Accountancy board exams in 1979 and won Gawad Pitak Award for Most Outstanding Coop Auditor nationwide in 1997.
She was the coop auditor in 1984 and member of the Board of Directors of All Saints Credit Cooperative from 1984-1988. She served as bookkeeper of the Rural Bank of Bontoc from 1997 to 1979 after her graduation in college.
She was married to Alfredo ‘Binky’ Lam-en Jr former vice governor Mountain Province, and blessed with six children.
Lam-en turned 57 May 26 this year and died Dec. 1 while being treated at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, following the accident, Cordillera police said.
Passenger Bernabe Ngipol Lablabong from Purok 3, San Dionisio in Nagtipunan, Quirino Province earlier died at another hospital.
The ill-fated van with plate number AYG 645, driven by Jimmy Babanga, reportedly plunged into a 50-meter ravine in km 58, Calasipan, Cattubo, Atok.
Babanga told policemen that he dozed off while driving.
Homicide and multiple physical injuries are awaiting Babanga, authorities added.
SPO3 Rolex Sabyat, 40; TinoNgosi, 45; Melvin Danilo, 15; Victoria Licwasen, 33; Bernadette Dinisia, 32; Elena Salipen, 65; Jake Bantasan, 29; Tito Ingosan, 57; Rachel Bacte, 16; Ben Bayas, 17; Dona Jane Dinisia, 1; Marietta Pagnas, 51; Charlene Calabson, a certain female only named as Taro; were all rushed to the hospital for their head and body injuries.
Pagnas, Cordillera police spokesman Supt. Davy Limmong said, was still recovering at the Pines City Doctors Hospital in Baguio City, while the other victims, except the driver, have been sent home.
It was not known if the van's owner will also be charged over the mishap.
SANTIAGO CITY, Isabela – At least five police officers in this city are facing charges of robbery and grave misconduct for their alleged illegal raid on a “Bingo Milyonario” retail outlet sanctioned by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) recently.
Those in hot water are Supt. Zaidee Daculug, head of the public safety company; and Superintendents Juan Aggasid and Victorino Valdez, PO2 Pedro Furigay and PO1 Claynard Ballad, all of the city police.
Lawyer Joy Cacatian-Barangan, legal counsel of Michelle Martinez, authorized retailer supervisor of the PCSO’s online games here, said charges of gross incompetence and robbery with force and intimidation were also filed against the five policemen.
The charges were reportedly filed with the Internal Affairs Office of the regional police at Camp Adduru in Tuguegarao City.
The PCSO here is also considering filing the same charges, to include Mayor Joseph Tan and city police chief Senior Superintendent Leon Rafael, before the city prosecutor’s office for the criminal aspect of the case.
The five policemen, allegedly acting on Tan’s order, swooped down on the PCSO outlet in Barangay Centro East here and seized its machines and other gaming paraphernalia as well as mobile phones and online facilities last Nov. 14.
Barangan said the raid was conducted without any court order or search warrant, as the police allegedly merely relied on the mayor’s verbal order.
Tan said he ordered the closure of the gaming outlet for allegedly having no business permit and other pertinent papers issued by the city government.
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya – Another batch of descendants of former members of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) has been accepted to undergo extensive training for possible enlistment in the Armed Forces.
According to the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, the trainees – 57 males and 12 females – represent the last batch of children or nearest relatives of former CPLA rebels who will be integrated into the military.
The 5th ID, which is conducting the training at Camp Melchor de la Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, said the trainees have been undergoing military exercises since last week after passing the regular screening process.
2Lt. Charmaine Leonero, of the division’s public affairs office, said the soldier-candidates will undergo six-month training on jungle warfare and marksmanship before they are enlisted as regular members of the Army.
Last September, 79 children and relatives of former CPLA members were officially recognized as organic members of the military following six months of extensive training,bringing the number to more than 400.
The integration is also part of President Aquino’s Executive Order 49, mandating the implementation of the closure agreement toward the CPLA’s disposition of its arms and forces and its transformation into a potent socio-economic partner of the government.
Aquino’s order was also an offshoot of the peace agreement forged by his mother, then President Corazon Aquino, and the CPLA in Bauko, Mt. Province in September 1986, which led to the cessation of hostilities between the military and the revolutionary group.
The CPLA broke away from the New People’s Army and formed its owned armed force led by Catholic priest-turned-rebel Conrado Balweg in the 1980s.
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Authorities are still searching for four fishermen reported missing since Nov. 27.
Desiderio Bondal Jr., DaniloBayale, Joey Bondal, and Rudolfo Caoile, all from Barangay Uli, Dasol, Pangasinan, set out to fish in the vicinity of the West Philippine Sea on two motorized bancas,but failed to return.
Office of the Civil Defense personnel, with police, have launched a search to locate them.
The state weather bureau had given an advanced warned against the bad weather condition for fishing the day they went missing. -- Freddie G. Lazaro
By Carlito Dar
BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional Development Council has set into motion preparatory activities which include consultations and IEC (information, education and communication) in preparation for a regional autonomy summit set first quarter of 2014.
Last Nov. 17 and 18 at Asin Tuba Benguet, the Philippine Information Agency led media practitioners and national government agencies and local government information officers for a “media powwow” dubbed “Cordillera autonomy, A revisit”.
The activity included, lectures and presentations on autonomy as catalyst for regional development, exchange of views, sharing of past surveys and studies on autonomy, as well as workshop activities.
On Nov. 19, the RDC in cooperation with the Cordillera Association of Regional Executives (CARE) conducted an autonomy forum for Cordillera executives here at Teachers Camp.
Cordillera RDC acting chair and National Economic and Development Authority regional director Milagros Rimando said similar activities will be conducted for local government offices and sectoral groups in the region.
Through the pre-summit activities, they aim to provide more awareness on the pursuit for regional autonomy and development as well as to gather sentiments and inputs for the proposed autonomy bill which they hope to be re-filed in Congress by 2014.
Rimando said the RDC has set pursuit of regional autonomy as Cordillera’s main development thrust, as aside from the historical, cultural and legal mandate or basis, the council believes autonomy can address development problems in the region.
On the regional development context, she said that after 19 years as an administrative region, Cordillera lags behind in socio-economic development compared to the rest of North Luzon regions.
The RDC believes that the pursuit of regional autonomy is the best strategy to accelerate development in the region as decisions on development policies, programs and projects will be crafted on the regional level, in such way that it can address actual needs and priorities of the people.
Rimando said through autonomy, the region will have better control over its natural resources that would bring in additional revenues such as income tax revenue sharing and fees.
She added the region can also use alternative planning standards that are suited for Cordillera’s mountainous terrain and settlement pattern and address poverty reduction.
Rimando said social development infrastructure programs could be more effective as the region can consider local customs and traditions, terrain aside from climate that are unique in the Cordillera.
By Gina Dizon
BAGUIO CITY –The controversy over the granting of titles to ancestral land claimants here who have staked their claims even over forest reservations and parks is far from over.
Former Baguio City mayoral aspirant Jose Molintas has joined the fray urging issuance of CADTs (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles) instead of CALT (Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles) in claims for ancestral lands in the city.
One fifth of the city’s land areas cover ancestral claims posing threats to public use and enjoyment and city officials have to address this, Molintas, a human rights lawyer and indigenous peoples advocate said.
These include lands covering public parks, playgrounds, roads, reservations, forests in lands covering CALT claims filed before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on areas found at Wright Park, the land fronting the Mansion House, the Speakers Cottage area, the Forbes Park as well as portion of the Botanical Garden, parts of Busol Watershed, and the land owned by the City of Baguio near the mansion house, portion of the Loakan Airport, portion of the Philippine Military Academy, Casa Vallejo at Session Road among others.
Molintas said by way of CADT, claimants shall determine the use and development of the land claim as a collective community and not for wrong intentions as personal sale.
The city council Monday called on the Cordillera Administrative Region joint regional steering committee to look into the titling of government lands by the NCIP.
The resolution authored by Councilors Leandro Yangot Jr. and Karminn Cheryl DinneyYangot as adopted by the council recommended to the joint regional steering committee the taking of immediate and appropriate action for the cancellation of all CALTs issued over government reservations, parks and properties “so that Baguio City will not lose its parks and playgrounds and everyone may enjoy what Baguio City has to offer,” the resolution stated.
Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan issued Administrative Order 114 creating the formation of a technical working group to evaluate applications for CALTs in Baguio City on those which do not qualify under section 78 of the Republic Act 8371 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
The section provides that the City of Baguio “shall remain to be governed by its Charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation shall remain as such until otherwise reclassified by appropriate legislation.”
Section 78 also provides an exemption that “prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of this Act shall remain valid.”
Among those recognized are ancestral claims screened under Special Administrative Order No. 31 and Dept. Administrative Order No. 02 issued by the Dept. and Environment and Natural Resources.
The first nullification case against a state-issued ancestral land title was filed by the national government through the Office of the Solicitor General averring that the NCIP overstepped its authority when it titled a Baguio forest owned by the city government.
Forbes Park issued to heirs of LauroCarantes represented by Itogon based family of Antino Carantes of Benguet. The Court of Appeals called to restrain the NCIP, the Baguio register of deeds, and the family from developing, selling or transferring the properties covered by the CALT.