Baguio signature campaign vs gambling reaches 20,000

>> Monday, June 29, 2015

Officials in quandary whether to allow e-Bingo operations 

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city council is studying its next move on e-Bingo operations in the city even as oppositionists garnered 20,000 signatures to stop all forms of gambling.” 

 The body on Monday tasked its committee on laws under Councilor Richard Carino to study and recommend succeeding actions in the light of the revelation by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. representatives that there is a way to revoke gaming license and that is to cancel the business permits issued by the local government.

The move is protracted to center on the information that another kind of online betting game called e-Games has been allowed to operate in an area within the border of the city and Tuba town.  

The said e-Games is cause for concern in the city because it is known to offer casino-style online gambling.

Casino has been banned in the city by virtue of city council resolutions prodded by massive church-led campaigns.

PAGCOR representatives Gaming Licensing and Development Department remote gaming unit senior manager Nelia Lorenzo and Corporate and Legal Services Department senior legal counsel Arnie Salvosa said that cancellation of the business permit granted an entity by the local government is one of PAGCOR’s bases in annulling the gaming license.

They said this is because based on PAGCOR charter, business permit is proof of the local government’s consent to the e-Bingo operation.  It was only in June 2012 that PAGCOR required a letter of no objection (LONO) from the local governments before allowing bingo joints to operate in a locality. 

The e-Bingo joints in SM Baguio and Baguio Center Mall were granted licenses on November 2010 or before June 2012 and thus were given the go signal on the basis of only the business permits granted by the local government.  The outlets started operating in September 2011 and in December 2010, respectively.

The e-Bingo outlet at the Centerpoint Plaza in Bakakeng Central started operating last year based on an alleged resolution of consent by the city council, the authenticity of which was later questioned. 

Last May, the body formally allowed its operations.

PAGCOR representatives said the licenses are renewed every two years without requirement for a new LONO. 

SM joint’s license will expire on in January 2017, Center Mall in March 2016 and Centerpoint in May 2017.  

When informed of the signature campaign against the e-bingo outlets as presented by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Salvosa stopped short of saying that the signatures numbering 20,000 are immaterial because their sole basis is the go signal of the city officials.

Salvosa said as per their procedure in revoking licenses, the request of the local government is referred to the legal department for study and recommendation to the board of directors. 

The board will decide and the operator will be asked to comment.  

Two more applications for e-bingo outlets in Maharlika Livelihood Center and the Albergo Hotel are currently in the works and both will require LONOs.

Meanwhile, the body asked PAGCOR representatives to verify the location where the approved e-Games outlet will operate in Tuba in the light of the unresolved boundary issue between the city and Tuba.

The named location is included in the unresolved portion, according to Vice Mayor Edison Bilog.

The city’s anti-casino measures include Resolution No. 236 series of 1991 entitled “A Resolution opposing the return of casino to Baguio or the establishment of a new one under any other form or guise,” Resolution No. 122-02 entitled “Expressing the Sentiment of the People of Baguio and the Policy of the City Government against Gambling…” and Resolution No. 446 series of 2008 “Vigorously opposing the establishment of a casino or the conduct of a gambling activities at Camp John Hay and anywhere in the city.”


Bacnotan ABC president slain

BACNOTAN, La Union — The president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) in this town was killed inside the barangay hall by an unidentified gunman Wednesday.

Municipal police chief FredilexMarron said victim Barangay Zaragosa chairman Edwin Cua, 55, was drinking beer and watching TV with two others when the gunman sneaked inside the barangay hall and shot him at close range. Cua, who had six bullet wounds on the body, was rushed to the Lorma Hospital in San Fernando City but was declared dead. The gunman immediately rode the motorcycle driven by another unidentified man who waited for him. -- Erwin G. Beleo


Pres Aquino declares July 15 Cordillera Day

BAGUIO CITY – President Aquino has declared July 15 as a special non-working holiday in the Cordillera Administrative Region in celebration of the region’s 28th Foundation Day.

“It is but fitting that the people of CAR be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies,” read Proclamation 1056 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

CAR was created under Executive Order 220 signed by former President Corazon Aquino on July 15, 1987.

With the theme “Conserving the Environment Toward a Greener Cordillera,” this year’s celebration will be hosted by the provincial government of Apayao, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as head of the Regional Development Council’s Environment and Watershed Management Sectoral Committee.

The activities for the 28th Cordillera Day will start on July 9 in Luna town in Apayao, with a unity gong relay that will be passed around the region’s six provinces and two cities. Now on its fourth year, the unity gong symbolizes the pursuit for a regional autonomy in the Cordilleras.

As part of the unity gong relay, a symbolic tree will be planted in each of the provinces.

A series of activities will also be conducted in Apayao and in other provinces in the region.

Among these are the eco-tour of Apayao, agri-trade fair, technology and job fair, biodiversity and environmental forum and public consultation on the proposed House Bill 4649 or An Act Creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

The celebration will culminate on July 15 in Luna with Sen. Koko Pimentel, a supporter of the Cordillera autonomy, as guest of honor and speaker.

To start the series of activities a media forum was held June 24 at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources compound in Pacdal, Baguio City.  

Activities include forum on declaration of principles on environmental governance July 3 in University of the Philippines Baguio, and biodiversity exhibit and an autonomy forum in Luna.

Guests shall also be treated to tours that showcase Apayao’s prime ecotourism sites: Marag Valley, Lussok Caves and Nagan River. 

The Unity Gong Relay, the Cordillera Month mainstay activity that highlights unity among Cordillerans, will begin in Apayao, proceed to Kalinga, then to Ifugao, Mountain Province, Benguet, Baguio City, Abra and back to Apayao.  

There will also be a job fair, an agri-trade fair to feature the best of the region’s coffee products.

A “stakeholders night” and “Search for Dayagti Cordillera” will be held July 14, followed by culminating program and parade the next day. 

The public, government and private sectors, are invited to participate in the festivities.  

The regional Cordillera offices of DENR (074 443-9406) and NEDA (074 442-3232) can be contacted for more details on schedule of activities.

The “Secom on watershed and environmental management,” in partnership with Apayao provincial government, is heading this year’s Cordillera Month celebration.   

The CAR Regional Development Council sectoral committees and provinces take turns in coordinating and hosting Cordillera Month an annual regional event that started in1988.  


AIDS cases rising with 21 afflicted per day

Men having sex with men top cases 
By Carlito Dar

BAGUIO CITY – ADIS/HIV cases are still rising with one HIV case diagnosed per 24 hours since 2008.

Department of Health records from January to April 2015 showed around 21 new HIV cases a day -- mostly males having sex with males.

Dept. of Health Cordillera OIC regional director Dr. AmelitaPangilinan bared this here saying the DOH, local government units and stakeholders are collaborating on programs and policies to address alarming rise in HIV-AIDS.

Data from Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center showed from May 2006 to May this year,179 HIV cases were recorded including two children ( aged 2 and  4 years old  inflicted by HIV virus from their mother).

Records bared not  all patients afflicted with AIDS/HIV were residents of Baguio. 

During the DOH-led AIDS candlelight memorial ceremony at Prince Plaza Hotel here recently, Pangilinan said much has yet to be done to curb the menace.

Christian (not his real name), a 27- year-old male living with HIV (PLHIV) who attended the ceremony in honor of those who died of the disease, urged young adults like him, to practice healthy lifestyle, be wary of risky sexual behavior and learn more about sexual/reproductive health.

“We are suffering from an illness, fear of death in each day of our life and what we need most is compassion and support,  not stigma or discrimination, for us to go on with our lives like anyone else in our society,” he said.

“There is still life even with HIV, we have learned our lesson, but we still have a life to live in which we need your support.”

He urged ceremony participants to join advocacy against HIV/AIDS to lessen deaths.

Christian is among the PLHIVs who are not only fighting to stay alive and have a normal life, but are feeling stigma, discrimination and rejection from the public especially from their families.

HIV/AIDS has become an alarming concern in the country and worldwide that the DOH has included it in its five priority health issues in its newly launched High Impact (HI – 5) Program.

Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Testing and Treatment Center head Dr. Maria Lorena Santos, in the same forum, said like any health illness, prevention through the practice of healthy lifestyle and better health awareness especially on reproductive health and proper sexual behavior is essential.

“HIV/AIDS has no cure yet. Being faithful or not engaging in multiple sexual partners or other risky sexual behavior are means to prevent HIV infection,” she said.

She bared the DOH ABCDE advocacy against HIV/AIDS in  which A stands  for abstain from Sex, B for  be faithful to your partner, C for practice  safe sex through the use of comdom, D for not using drugs,  and E for Educating yourself.


600 trees due for massive cutting despite opposition

By Jun Ramos Guiang

CURRIMAO, Ilocos Norte--After several months of opposition by some environmentalists and militant groups, a foreign-owned solar company has obtained  go-signal from government authorities to cut many trees for construction of multi-million-dollar solar energy plant project in the sunny barangays of Bimmanga and Paguludan Salindeg of this coastal town.

Town Mayor Gladys Go-Cue confirmed to the media that the municipal government of Currimao under her administration and the Department of Natural Resources (DENR)  had officially permitted the foreign firm to cut the estimated 400 to 600 old trees including century-old ones, all found in the aforesaid two villages of Currimao where the proposed solar power plant will rise  in a 60-hectare land.

Report said a letter of consent for the aforesaid massive cutting of trees was signed  by the concerned government authorities after a public hearing was held and attended by multi-sector members of the community in this town.

Mayor Cue explained that as corporate social responsibility of the solar firm, it pledged to offer jobs for the local residents, grant scholarships to poor but deserving students, help build more school classrooms, donate one unit of firetruck as well as support other laudable projects of the municipality.

On the other hand, Engineer Juan de los Reyes Jr., provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the solar company had allocated at least P25 million fund for reforestation project in Currimao.

For every cut tree, its replacement will be 300 growing trees of one meter in height, he said. They will be planted in any public places in Currimao such as plazas, school lots and even timberland if needed, he added.  

It was learned that the solar company will start the project this June 2015 to be funded at 40 million US dollar. It is expected to be completed by January 2016.

When operational, the solar project targets to generate some 20-megawatt electricity enough to supply  some 8,000 households in this town, report said.


Mayor’s aide charged for vice mayor’s slay

By Raymund Catindig

JONES, Isabela -- A security consultant of the municipal mayor here was among four men charged for the murder of the vice mayor last June 19.

Seventy one year old retired Army Col. Reynaldo Tapia, admitted to journalists that he is a security consultant of Jones Mayor Leticia Sebastian.

The charges against Tapia and three others were filed Tuesday with the office of the Department of Justice in Ilagan City, Isabela.

Provincial police director Senior Supt. Amorsolodela Cruz said they have documents supporting charges against Tapia.

Dela Cruz said among the pieces of evidence they submitted to the police cybercrime laboratory were mobile phones seized from Tapia said to contain messages to Sebastian.

Dela Cruz said they would invite Sebastian to shed light on the matter. Sebastian was unavailable for comment.

Tapia and former Army Cpl. Michael Deocariza reportedly helped the assailants, who shot dead Vice Mayor Florante Raspado and Marc Anthony Agarin, escape.

Tapia and Deocariza were arrested at a checkpoint in Aglipay town in nearby Quirino province an hour after the killing that occurred at the Jones municipal hall.

Also charged was Victor Funtilara and another suspect who has yet to be identified.

The victims were at the session hall of the municipal building when the assailants, whose faces were covered with masks, shot them June 19.

Funtilara was arrested in Barangay Sinaoangan Sur in nearby San Agustin town hours after the killing.

The arresting team recovered a .45 caliber pistol and a sling bag containing two loaded magazines, a mobile phone, a wallet, a mask and a hat from the suspect, according to regional police director Chief Supt. ReinierIdio.

Funtilara, Tapia, 71, and Deocariza – were subjected to paraffin tests.

Idio created Special Investigation Task Group Raspado to handle the case.  –


PENROs mandated to issue patents on school grounds

By Roger Sacyaten

BONTOC, Mountain Province – School sites nationwide may now be titled in the name of schools.

This was learned during a press conference at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office here.

PENRO officer in charge Octavio Cuanso said recent DENR administrative order made it easier for schools to apply for documentation including issuance of titles over school sites at provincial levels.

The order is in compliance to Republic Act 10023 “An Act Authorizing the Issuance of Free Patents to Residential Areas,” specifically promulgating guidelines for the public school sites.

Cuanso said Administrative Order 2015-1 dated March 4, 2015 covers alienable and disposable public lands agricultural lands actually possessed, occupied and used for public schools of all levels and classification under the supervision and control of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education regardless of period of possession.

All lands devoted to providing education and education related services such as, but not limited to, those used for offices, canteens, gardens, athletic fields, sports complex, sports courts, clinic, gymnasiums, car parks, science centers, nature parks, and other related areas are also covered, he said.

It was also learned that school sites with existing proclamations but are still untitled are also covered under this Order for issuance of Special Patents.

Special Patent is a public instrument issued by the government confirming the grant by the State of ownership over a parcel of agricultural land in favor of a grantee.

Assistant Schools Division superintendent Nestor Bolayo said 90 percent of school sites in the province, mostly donations, are undocumented.

It was gathered that the present problem in school sites is the penchant of previous donors or their relatives in taking back donated lots, either in part or in whole.

Details on this concern were not secured as the responsible people holding the records were not in the office at the time of this writing.

“It is good that the processing and documentation of the schools sites is now downloaded to the provincial level,” Bolayo said.

Under the guidelines, the Schools Division superintendent or any authorized officer at the DepEd central office may request for the issuance of a school site Special Patent.

For school sites under the jurisdiction of the CHED, any authorized officer of the CHED or higher educational institution may request for the issuance of the special patent.

The requirements provided in the guidelines are the request for the issuance of Special Patent, historical background of possession, recent photographs showing the panoramic view of the area, and certification of no pending land registration application over the area.

Applications may be filed at the office of the PENRO or Community Environment and Natural Resources Office.

The CENRO will conduct ocular inspections, related investigations, mapping and survey of the area before the approval of said application.

The order signed by DENR Secretary Ramon Paje provided forms needed and the flowchart of the processing and issuance of the Special Patents.

Bolayo said many schools will avail of this opportunity for them to document the school sites.


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