Volume14 / No. 1                                                                                                             January 15, 2014
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
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Supreme Court stops Cabanatuan HUC plebiscite

The Supreme Court has stopped the
January 25 plebiscite for the conversion of Cabanatuan into a highly urbanized city (HUC).

The full-court decision issued on January 14 was in answer  to a petition filed by Gov. Aurelio Umali to stop the plebiscite because, according to him, all registered voters in the province should be allowed to participate since they will be affected once Cabanatuan becomes a highly urbanized city

A provision of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) resolution setting the January 25 plebiscite states that only registered voters of Cabanatuan should take part.

The setting of the plebiscite was contained in COMELEC Resolution No. 1353 after the postponements of the political exercise last year due to the mid-term elections in May and the barangay elections in October, and a case pending in court.

The plebiscite was intended to ratify Proclamation No. 418 that President Aquino issued on July 4, 2012, declaring Cabanatuan a highly urbanized city after it was able to comply with all the requirements for HUC status based on the Local Government Code of 1991.

The requirements include a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the National Statistics Office, an annual income of not below P50 million as certified by the City Treasurer's Office and an approved resolution signed by the Sangguniang Panglunsod and with the support of the city mayor.

Preparations for the January 25 plebiscite would have included the deployment of some 200 policemen as additional security.

Supt. Pedro Soliba, city police chief, said the additional troops would help in ensuring a safe and peaceful conduct of the plebiscite in the city's 89 barangays.

He expressed hope that the electoral exercise would  be smooth and peaceful, saying "’Di naman siguro magiging mainit pa ang labanan dito. Wala nang puwestong pinaglalabanan at tapos na din ang eleksyon."

Meanwhile, a command conference was called by Arsenio Reyes, Jr., acting Cabanatuan City election officer, last January 11 to map out preparations, plans and strategies for the holding of the plebiscite.

Among those who attended were Director Bartolome J. Sinocruz Jr., COMELEC deputy executive director for operations; lawyer Rafael B. Olano, regional executive director-Region 3; Atty. Emmanuel T. Ignacio, assistant. regional election director; lawyer Panfilo C. Doctor Jr., Nueva Ecija provincial election supervisor; Honorio L. Castillo, city DILG officer; Lt. Col. Eugene M. Mata, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Brigade; Senior Supt. Crizaldo O. Nieves, provincial police director; Dr. May B. Eclar, city schools division superintendent; Florida R. Oca, city treasurer; and Renato Villaroman, city prosecutor. ###

Gov gives top priority to Santa Rosa development

The hometown of  Gov. Aurelio Umali -- Santa Rosa -- is on top of his list of development priorities during his final term.

The governor vowed to bring development and progress to his town, saying he could not possibly help develop other municipalities and cities if he could not develop his own town.

He said this during the induction into office of 14 newly elected barangay chairs of Santa Rosa. He was assisted by Vice Mayor Tony Romero, Sangguniang Bayan Member Peter Marcus Matias and allies and supporters of his party Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago.

He said his administration's priority is to improve the infrastructure of the town such as roads and continue the scholarship program that he and his wife, Third Dist. Rep. Czarina Umali, started.

He called on the barangay officials to convey to Santa Rosa officials, particularly Mayor Josefino Angeles, the needs of local residents so they can feel that the he and his wife are helping them.  ###

Cabanatuan condones unpaid real property taxes

The Sangguniang Panglunsod (SP) of Cabanatuan approved an ordinance condoning interests and penalties from unpaid or delayed payments of real property taxes starting January 1.

The reason cited for the move was the devastation that typhoon Santi brought to the city on October 11 last year that lessened the capability of the citizens to pay taxes.

City Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara sought the passage of the measure based on the clamor of residents for a tax amnesty to enable them to update the payments of their real property taxes.

Residents can avail themselves of the amnesty until June 30.

Not covered by the amnesty are real properties that are subjects of court cases involving tax delinquency.

The ordinance also stopped the public auction of delinquent real properties during the amnesty period. ###

Ecija, 28 other provinces declared 'insurgent-free'

Nueva Ecija and 28 other provinces in the country have been "normalized" or freed from the influence of the New People's Army (NPA)

Lt. Col. Ramon Zabala, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said normalization means that the military will transfer to local government officials and civilian agencies the lead role in maintaining peace and security in the area.

Aside from Nueva Ecija, Zabala said the list includes Cavite, La Union, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Quirino, Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet in Luzon; Cebu, Guimaras,bohol, Leyte, Aklan and Antique in the Visayas; and Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Davao Oriental, Sarangani and Camiguin in Mindanao.

He attributed the normalization to the military campaign called "Bayanihan" which sought to end insurgency by removing its root causes, particularly poverty and lack of basic services.

The 44-year old insurgency waged by the NPA is considered the longest in  Asia and the Pacific. ###

... but Bongabon residents want return of Army to stop rebel activities

Residents of Bongabon have asked local officials to ask for the re-posting of a Philippine Army brigade in the town because of the widespread fear of the resurgence of activities of the New People's Army (NPA).

Mayor Allan Gamilla said he has been negotiating with Army officials to relocate the 702nd Infantry Brigade to Barangay Calaanan from Binmaley Pangasinan where it is now based.

The Army unit had been based in Barangay Calaanan -- once a known NPA stronghold -- for 25 years until it was pulled out in 2012 when the owner of the site of its camp wanted to sell the property.

Gamilla said they are negotiating with the landowner to have him donate a parcel of his land for the Army camp.

He said the clamor for the return of the 702nd IB was growing not only in his town but in nearby areas as well because of increasing attacks by the NPA. ###

Ecija LGU, personality, association cited as most PDW-friendly

The Regional Council on Disability Affairs (RCDS) recently cited the town of Jaen as "Most PWD-friendly Municipality" in Central Luzon in 2013.

Also awarded were Marivic Alcantara of San Jose City as "Most PWD-friendly Leader" and the Nueva Associatiion of PWDs Multi-Purpose Cooperative's desk-making project as "Most PWD-friendly Community Project".

The other awardees were Bulacan as "Most PWD-friendly Province" and Olongapo as  "Most PWD-friendly City".

Meanwhile, the new officers of the Central Luzon Federation of PWDs were inducted.

Among them were Rodolfo Mendoza of Nueva Ecija as president and Marivic Alcantara of San Jose City as one of the public relations officers. ###

Ecija NGO receives USAID, NetHope grant

Alalay sa Kaunlaran (ASKI), a non-government organization in Nueva Ecija dealing with microfinancing, has been chosen as one of only three organizations worldwide that will receive a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and NetHope under the Electronic and Mobile Payment Implementation and Evaluation Grants Program.

The grant from the two agencies is aimed at supporting leading development organizations committed to testing electronic payments, and comparing and documenting the costs, challenges and benefits of using cash versus electronic payments.

The $42,000 grant will be used to demonstrate the potential uses of electronic payments in relief and development programs, provide insights into procedures for making the transition to the system and encourage the adoption of electronic payments by other implementing partners.

Besides ASKI, the other grant recipients were Concern Worlwide in Malawi and Mennonite Economic Development Associates in Tanzania, both in Africa.

ASKI will use the grant to evaluate the mobile banking platform that it has implemented in partnership with BPI Globe BanKo, the Philippines' first mobile phone-based microfinance-focused bank.

In 2012, ASKI and BanKo entered into an agreement to introduce the mobile banking platform in its micro-agri loans for rice farmers.  This was tested with farmers receiving a crop management recommendation from Rice Crop Manager, a web-based tool developed by International Rice Research Institute, that provides rice farmers with a fertilizer recommendation matching the nutrient needs of their crops.

ASKI will document the continued expansion of the transition of its loan disbursement from check to the cashless mobile platform not only for farmers but also for other microentrepreneurs.

Rolando Victoria, ASKI executive director, said that since the implementation of the program, there has been no comparative study to look into the benefits of going from cash-based to cashless transactions. ###

Talavera barangay  councilor killed, tanod hurt in gun attacks

A barangay kagawad was killed while a barangay tanod was hurt in two separate shooting incidents in Talavera on the night of January 5.

Killed was Kagawad Ruferto dela Cruz, 62, married, of Barangay Mabuhay.

Dela Cruz had just attended a barangay session and was on his way home when trailed by two unidentified motorcycle-riding men who shot him repeatedly.

In the second case, Barangay Tanod Bernardo Matias, 39, of Barangay Collado was allegedly shot in the left thigh by Jonathan dela Cruz, 28, who was later arrested by the police.

The gun that he used was surrendered to the police by his father.

Dela Cruz was charged with frustrated homicide. ###

San Isidro man arrested for illegal firearm

A man with a gun tucked in his waist was arrested as he emerged from a chapel in Baranagay Santo Cristo, San Isidro last January 4.

In a report submitted by Supt. Ricardo Villanueva, Provincial Public Safety Company commander, to Sr. Supt. Crizadlo Nieves, provincial police director, the suspect was identified as Rolando Vicencio dela Cruz, 54, of the same barangay.

Dela Cruz had just gotten out of the chapel when policemen noticed him with gun tucked in his waist and acting suspiciously,.

When accosted, dela Cruz could not present the required documents for his gun and was immediately arrested. ###

4 nabbbed for illegal mineral ore

Four men were held in San Jose City after they were found transporting several sacks of mineral ore for which they could not present the required documents from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay  Tayabo were Alexander Espiritu, 37, driver; Dave Arvin Felipe, 23, trader; and Felizardo Espiritu, 36, helper, all of Bgy. Anyatam, San Ildefonso, Bulacan; and Xyrix Bryan Galang, 25, of Centro Poblacion, Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya.

Supt. Ricardo Villanueva, commander of the Provincial Public Safety Company, said the four were riding an Isuzu van when flagged down at the checkpoint at 6:00 A.M. last January 8.

Found in the van were 85 sacks of mineral ore valued at P45,000 allegedly taken from Sitio Banban, Barangay General Luna, Carranglan, and to be delivered to a buyer in Metro Manila.

The four were charged with theft of mineral ore and their vehicle was impounded. ###

Cabanatuan 'shabu queen' nabbed

Cabanatuan City's "shabu queen" with a pending warrant of arrest for illegal drugs was arrested by anti-narcotics police agents in a buy-bust operation last January 9.

Supt. Pedro Soliba, city police chief, identified the suspect as Perla Magno, 46, of Barangay Imelda District.

She was arrested by members of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Enforcement Unit of the local police in a sting operation in Barangay D.S. Garcia at about 3:30 P.M.

Found in her possession were 54 sachets of shabu worth about P120,000.

Magno was found to have a standing warrant of arrest for violations of sections of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Act issued by Judge Ana Marie Joson-Viterbo of Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court Branch 23.

During the interrogation, police learned that Magnoks husband and son are also detained for illegal drugs at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Center in Barangay Kalikid, Cabanatuan City. ###

Hot lumber seized in San Leonardo raid

A combined team of policemen and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)  personnel raided a lumberyard and seized about 8,000 board feet of illegally sawn timber worth around P400,000 during an anti-illegal logging operation in Sitio Tumana, Barangay Malloca, San Leonardo last January 3.

Raided was the Jose Longalong compound at around 9:00 A.M.

Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said the DENR team under Ariel Mendoza, community environment and natural resources officer, joined forces with the San Leonardo policemen under Chief Insp. Renato Morales in the operation that resulted in the seizure of 8,000 board feet of ordinary and yakal lumber flitches worth around P396,000.

Leovino Ignacio, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said he and Nieves personally supervised the raid after Mendoza received a letter-complaint about the stock of illegal lumber in the area.

Ignacio said the site was remote and somewhat dangerous to venture into, thus the joint operation with the local police.

The seized lumber were brought to the DENR facility in Palayan City for proper disposition. ###

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