Volume 15 / No. 3                                                                                                       February 15, 2015
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
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65th Charter Anniversary
Cabanatuan honors outstanding citizens

Cabanatuan City honored 11 outstanding citizens in the "Gawad Parangal sa Natatanging Anak ng Cabanatuan" last February 3, the highlight of the city's 65th founding anniversary dubbed the First Banatu Festival.

City Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara said, “This is the heart of this year's Banatu Festival as it gives inspiration and motivation to our fellow citizens to aim high and follow the footsteps of these people with humility and love for the city.” 

This year's awardees were Chief Superintendent Ariel Barayuga of the Bureau of Fire and Protection; Rodora Bautista, a certified public accountant; Major General Eduardo del Rosario of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Aurelio Gonzales, an agriculturist; Corazon Reyes, a nurse and philantrophist; Engr. Gene Samson, a  medical services innovator; Sabino Manglicmot, dean and vice president of the Philippine Maritime Academy; Supt. Moises Pagaduan of the Philippine National Police; Dr. Rene Wilson Veneracion, a cardiologist; Dr. Edwin Argonza, a surgeon; and Dennis Scouth Hernandez, a self-made businessman cited as a role model by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The week-long Banatu Festival started last January 30 with a Mass at the Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral followed by a "boodle fight" at Plaza Lucero led by the city mayor.  Other activities were the longaniza cook-off challenge, Palaro sa Parke, Banatu Latin Dance Festival, Sayaw Cabanatuan, Teachers' Night, Tricycle Festival and Kite Festival.

Featured last January 30 were a carabao race, a mass wedding, dog show, Miss Gay Cabanatuan,  barrngay night, song festival, bazaar and job fair.

Last February 1, a fun run, adventure fun race, off-road 4x4 challenge and the Bb. Cabanatuan grand coronation night were held, while the following day featured the zarzuela grand finals.

On the final day of the celebrations, a grand parade was held featuring drum and lyre, street dancing and float competitions; a golf tournament; and the grand celebration night at Plaza Lucero,.

In his message, Vergara said the Banatu Festival marked a significant milestone in the city's rich history.

The city's name was derived from the root word "banatu".

He explained that "banatu" refers to a vine that grows along the river and used to bind fish traps. He said the collective concern and love for Cabanatuan serves as a strong bind in facing challenges to its march to progress and development.

Cabanatuan, a former barrio of Gapan City, became a separate town in 1777 and turned into a chartered city on February 3, 1950 through Republic Act 526. ###

Puregold acquires 9 Ecija supermarkets

Puregold Price Club, Inc. expanded its presence in Nueva Ecija and adjoining provinces with its acquisition of supermarkets and commercial properties of NE, Inc.

Puregold acquired nine supermarkets owned by NE in Cabanatuan City and San Jose City; Baliwag, Bulacan; Baler, Aurora; and Santiago, Isabela.

The second largest grocery chain in the country said the additional stores will make it the dominant retail player in Nueva Ecija.

Aside from the supermarket chain, Cosco Capital, the investment vehicle of retail tycoon Lucio Co, also bought five commercial properties of NE located at Zulueta Street and San Juan ACCFA, Cabanatuan City; San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; Baler, Aurora and Santiago City, Isabela.

Puregold President Leonardo Dayao said the properties in Baler, San Jose City and Cabanatuan City will be redeveloped into community malls.

In March 2014, Puregold acquired NE Pacific Shopping Centers Corp., the company that owned and operated the 35,000 square meter NE Pacific Mall, the largest commercial mall in Nueva Ecija. ###

Wesleyan students win 11th SWEEP Awards grand prize

Students from the College of Engineering of Wesleyan University-Philippines (WUP) bested teams from nine schools to win the grand prize in the 11th Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP) Innovation and Excellence Awards for their mobile application that can check the prices of agricultural crops, calculate  travel distance and fuel consumption and buy and sell products online.

Their winning innovation is called Smart Market Assistance and Product Trading (S-MART).

For the feat, the students won a cash prize of P500,000 and an equivalent amount in grant for their school.

Alvin Escobar, member of the winning team, said the online application will level the playing field among sellers or buyers of agricultural products in Cabanatuan City and Nueva Ecija.

Galille Villar, WUP professor and the team's mentor, said this can get rid of the role of the middleman in business deals since the buyer or seller can go direct via the website, opening opportunities for farmers to sell their produce online.

During the awards night last February 13, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Companies Chief Executive Officer and President Napoleon Nazareno said the competition is designed to encourage students from different schools to develop innovative applications and devices that address various needs of people and organizations.

“SWEEP awards can open the door not only to a successful professional career, but also to opportunities for setting new tech start ups that can become successful business,” Nazareno said.

He said the program is part of the corporate social responsibility of PLDT and Smart Communication, and is intended to promote technopreneurship in the Philippines.

“We want SWEEP to become a vital part of the ecosystem for promoting innovation. This is much more beneficial not only for students, but also for the schools, our economy and the country,” he explained. ###


Military okays use of Fort Magsaysay as Ebola/SARS quarantine area

The chief of the 7th Infantry Division based at Fort Magsaysay welcomed the proposal by Governor Aurelio Umali to set up a quarantine area inside the military camp for persons afflicted with Ebola and SARS.

Maj. Gene.Glorioso Miranda, 7trh ID commanding general, said his answer will always be yes.

"Ang bottomline, kung ‘yan ang makakabuti sa atin, then so be it, we will always be a part of the solution. We don’t want to be a part of the problem,” Miranda said.

The general, however, gave a pre-condition that the 7th ID must first be equipped with the capability and the facility for isolating Ebola and SARS patients.

Ealrier, Umali proposed that a part of the military camp be used to construct isolation facilities for Ebola-afflicted patients where soldiers can readily provide security assistance in case of an outbreak.

Umali aired the proposal during a meeting of the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council where he said that isolating patients in the military camp would be better than putting them in hospitals that could cause the spread the deadly disease.

Dr. Hubert Lapuz, director of the Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center (PJGMRMC), told Umali that the province needs a quarantine area outside that hospital.

The health department has identified PJGMRMC, tghe Bataan General Hospital and the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital in Pamapanga as possible isolation sites for Ebola patients in Central Luzon. ###

DA urged to create alternative jobs for farms workers affected by mechanization

Mayor Leonido de Guzman of Santo Domingo urged the Department of Agriculture to create alternative livelihood for farm workers who lost their jobs because of farm mechanization.

“I am not against mechanization. It helps us to produce more, but we must also take responsibility for those people who rely on being farm workers,” the mayor said.

De Guzman said the high unemployment rate among farm workers has increased the risk of crimes. ###

5,000 unlicensed firearms threaten Ecija peace

The proliferation of more than 5,000 unlicensed guns is making it difficult for policemen to successfully enforce the peace and order campaign.

This was according to Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director.

“Possession of loose firearms is a crime in itself. More than that, murders, some homicide cases, robbery and forcible taking of tricycles and motorcycles, were attributed to the use of loose firearms,” Nieves said.

He said records show that most violent crimes are committed by men armed with unlicensed firearms who use motorcycles to flee more quickly and ski masks to hide their identities.

He said some residents keep unlicensed firearms believing that having guns is a form of protection against crimes.

He bared that 191 murder and 193 homicide cases were committed in the province last year, may carried out with the use of guns.

Nieves has assigned one policeman to each of the 849 barangays in the province to strengthen efforts to maintain peace and order. Each policemen will coordinate with barangay officials to keep a record of people keeping firearms in that place. ###

NPA members torch construction gear

Five men who introduced themselves as members of the New People's Army burned a crane used in the construction of a bridge along the Bongabon-Rizal Provincial Road at Barangay Palomaria, Bongabon last February 13.

Chief  Insp. Florentino Cueves said that at about 12:15 A.M., a certain Rizaldy Las Pinas Wagayen, 43,  Bantay Bayan chief, reported the incident to the police.

Wagayen said he was with two barangay security men and two caretakers of LRTIQWUI Builders, when five armed men arrived and warned them not to interfere.

The alleged NPA members splashed gasoline on the heavy equipment and set it on fire. ###

Jaen barangay chair killed

The chair of  Barangay Dampulan was shot dead in front of the barangay hall last Feruary 9, by a gunman riding an SUV

Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, identified the victim as Herminigildo Eduardo, 55.

Eduardo, a former police officer before becoming barangay chair in 2013, was reported to be a supporter of Mayor Santiago Austria. 

Chief Insp. Alexander Aurelio, town police chief, said Eduardo was talking to a constituent in front of the barangay hall at about 7:20 A.M. when a grey Mitsubishi Montero with plate number AAQ-8603 drove by.

The suspect fired several times at Eduardo from inside the vehicle, killing him instantly.

Police recovered from the scene 20 cartridge cases for caliber .30 carbine.

The motive for the killing is still being looked into. ###

Fire hits Jaen Methodist church

Fire destroyed a Methodist church in Barangay G.E. Antonino at dawn last February 13.

Gutted was the Blessed Hope Church of the United Methodist Church. 

The loss from the fire was estimated at P350,000.

Sr. Fire Officer 2 Rufino Castro of the Jaen Fire Station said the fire started at a canteen near the church at about 4:20 A.M.

The fire caused by an overheated electric fan destroyed the kitchen, computer room and roof of the church.

Firetrucks from the adjacent towns of San Isidro and San Leonardo helped to put out the fire.###

San Isidro drug pusher shot dead

An alleged drug pusher was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen riding a motorcycle in tandem.

The victim was identified as Edgardo Pangilinan, 546, of Maria Cristina Subdivision, Barangay Malapit.

He was hit thrice in the head and chin and died instantly.

Police said the victim was number one in its drug watch list.

Investigation showed that Pangilinan was driving a black motorcycle along Policarpio Street in Barangay Poblacion at about 3:50 P.M. when shot.

The victim was declared dead on arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital in Gapan City. ###

2 Muñoz brothers hacked

For spreading rumor that their neighbors stole rice seedlings from their landlord's farm, two brothers were hacked and wounded.

The victims were Renaldo Saguiped, 44 and his brother Carlito, 40, both of Purok Parang, Barangay Maligaya, the Science City of Munoz.

The suspects were Felizicimo Navarro, 59, and his three sons Ricky, Arjay and Richard, all of whom were arrested after the incident.

Supt. Michael Angelo Zuñiga, city police chief, said the incident happened at about 3:20 P.M. last February 3 while Reynaldo was planting rice in the farm of his boss, Fernando dela Cruz. The suspects Ricky and Arjay arrived armed with a wooden club and a crow bar, followed by Felizicimo and Richard, armed with a shovel and a grass cutter.

Felizicismo hacked Reynaldo in the left leg. Carlito, who saw his brother being attacked, came to help him but was also ganged up by the suspects.

Barangay tanods arrived, arrested the suspects and brought them to the police station. The two victims were rushed to the city halth office for treatment.

Zuñiga said the motive the attack was the victims' having spread the rumor that two of the suspects were stealing and selling seedlings from the their landlord's farm. ###

Brother shoots brother

A man is in serious condition after he was shot by his elder brother after an altercation over a lot inherited from their parents, at Zone 2, Barangay Palestina, San Jose City.

The victim was identified as Narciso Obra Batugal, Sr., 58, of Escobar Street, Barangay Don Canuto Ramos. The suspect was his elder brother Menelio, Sr. 77, of the same place.

Investigation by SPO1 Apolinario Tolentino showed that at 7:25 A.M., the victim, together with his siblings Pablo and Felomino, son Christian and niece Jovylyn were building a fence around the inherited lot when the suspect arrived and stopped them.

A heated argument followed until the suspect went to his house and returned with a gun with which he shot the victim.

The victim wa wounded in the shoulder and rushed to the Heart of Jesus Hospital.

The suspect was immediately arrested and charged with frustrated homicide. ###

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