Volume 16 / No. 3    |   February 15, 2016
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
and updated every 15th and
end of the month.
All rights reserved.

Rosanna Vergara's disqualification
not yet final

Rosanna Vergara is still a candidate for Third District representative.

This was according to her lawyer, Gregorio Larrazabal, former commissioner of the Commission on Elections.

He said the decision of the Cabanatuan Municipal Trial Court (MTC) to remove Vegara's name from the list of candidates due to her void voter's registration and for allegedly being an American citizen is not yet final and awaiting a decision on a motion for reconsideration that they filed.

Vergara is running against outgoing Gov. Aurelio Umali for Third District congressman.

Larrazabal said Vergara's voter's registration was not deactivated when she became an American citizen in 1998. He said she reacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2006 and executed an affidavit of renunciation of foreign citizenship in 2015.

He called the case filed at the MTC a harassment case.

Vergara had said that the disqualification case filed against her by Philip Piccio, a broadcaster of the provincial television station TV 48 and known to be a close ally of Umali, was nothing more than personal and political vendetta.

In a decision dated February 4, Executive Judge Kelly Belino of the MTC in cities, granted the petition for exclusion filed by Piccio as a registered voter of Barangay Kapitan Pepe, Cabanatuan City.

Piccio said that Vergara should be excluded from the registered voters' list because her registration had been nullified by her naturalization as a US citizen on May 20, 1998.

Court records showed that Vergara was registered as a voter of Barangay Bantug Norte on June 21, 1997 and naturalized as a US citizen in May 1998, with an American passport issued to her.

She reacquired her Filipino citizenship in  November 2006 by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003.

In December 2003, Vergara underwent biometric registration and assigned a second voter identification number.

In September 2015, Vergara executed an affidavit of renunciation of foreign citizenship before filing her certificate of candidacy for congressman in October 2015.

In the court's decision, Belino ruled that the very moment Vergara lost her Filipino citizenship in 1998, her eligibility to be a registered voter ceased, rendering her voter’s registration in1997 without legal efficacy.
Similarly, he said, Vergara's biometric registration as a voter in Dec. 2003, is void from the start  because it was contrary to Section 1, Article 5 of the 1987 Constitution as she was an American citizen, who had no right of suffrage when she registered.

The restoration of respondent Vergara’s right to vote in November 2006 cannot cure her void registration done on December 7, 2003, the court said. ###

Suspended Aliaga officials return to posts

Six municipal officials of Aliaga returned to their posts after being suspended by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for one month.

Those reinstated were Vice Mayor Alfredo Domingo and Councilors Cesar Cajucom, Edgardo Soledad, Juanita de Leon, Juanito Martin and Ruth Macalinao -- all allies of Vargas’ rival, Reynaldo Ordanes.

They were suspended after Mayor Elilzabeth Vargas filed a suit complaining about the delay in the approval of the town's annual budget for this year.

The suspension orders were implemented last January 9, a day before the election ban on administrative suspensions took effect.

Sangguniang Bayan Member Erwin Javaluyas, president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen, said the suspension of the six officials lapsed last February 8 and there was no impediment, legal or actual, to their return to their posts. ###

Pantabangan mayor's suspension sought

State prosecutors have asked the Sandiganbayan Second Division to suspend Pantabangan Mayor Lucio Uera for graft, for the firing in 2005 of municipal employees whom he accused of supporting his political rival in the that year's local election.

In a motion submitted to the anti-graft court, they asked that Uera be suspended while the litigation is still pending.

They explained that under the anti-graft law, a public officer against whom a valid information has been filed for any offense defined and penalized under that law should be suspended.

Uera was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty last January 25 of two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. ### 

Local officials of 4 Ecija towns face charges for open dumps

The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) filed charges for operating open trash dumps against the mayors, vice mayors and Sangguniang Bayan members of Cuyuapo, General Tinio, Jaen, Bongabon and San Isidro at the Office of the Ombudsman last February 10.

Aside from the charges, the EMB also ordered the closure of the trash dumps in General Tinio and Jaen.

The EMB said the local officials failed to comply with Republic Act 9003 or  the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act despite repeated demands.

That law prohibits the establishment and operation of open dumps, including the disposal of solid waste by local government units or any person.

Also similarly charged were local officials of Abucay and Mariveles in Bataan; and Paombong and Hagonoy in Bulacan.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, who heads the environmental ombudsman team, have received some 50 complaints filed by the environmental group, EcoWaste Coalition, against 600 local officials for violation of RA 9003. ###

Highlights of 'Banatu Festival 2016'
Celebrating the 66th Charter Anniversary of Cabanatuan  City

[Photos courtesy of WUP Photojournalism students.]

San Jose bishop dismayed by absence of some candidates in peace covenant signing

The bishop of the Diocese of San Jose expressed disappointment with the absence of some candidates running for top posts during the signing of the peace covenant for safe and secure elections this year.

Bishop Roberto Mallari said he was unhappy with the turn-out of candidates in the event held last February 11.

Among those who failed to show up for the covenant signing were Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos, running mate of third district Rep. Czarina Umali; the contenders in the First Congressional District congressional race, incumbent Rep. Estrellita Suansing and former four-term Rep. Josie Manuel-Joson; Second District congressional candidate Micaela Salvador Violago; and Fourth District congressional candidate, Gen. Tinio Mayor Virgilio Bote.

Padiernos, who could not attend because of a prior commitment, was represented by his nephew, Jon Padiernos,

Present during the ceremony were Rep. Umali, outgoing Gov. Aurelio Umali, former Sangguniang Bayan Member Emmanuel Antonio Umali, former Rep. Rodolfo Antonino who is running for governor, and Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara and his wife, Rosanna, who running for Third District representative. ###

Peñaranda holds peace covenant signing

Candidates running in the May elections in Peñaranda held a peace covenant signing in the Saint Francis of Assisi church last February 7, aimed at removing the town from the province's election watch list.

Among the other signatories were Police Sr. Inspector Jeffrey Alivia; Army 1Lt. Rolando Rivera IV of the 48th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division; the parish priestr, Fr. Jessie Salac; Commission on Elections officer Le-ann Sta. Ines; Department of the Interior and Local Government officer Elinda Gamboa; Department of Education Peñaranda Supervisor Emiliana Velasco and members of the parish pastoral council. ###

Muñoz police chief cited for rejecting P100k bribe

Various sectors in the Science City of Munoz have praised the city police chief, Supt. Ponciano Zafra, for turning down a P100,000 bribe from a gun ban violator at a checkpoint.

The bribe was reportedly offered by a relative of Roberto Roque Silva, 36, who had been arrested at the checkpoint for carrying a caliber .45 pistol with four bullets.

Insp. Ronaldo Gamit, leader of the checkpoint team, said when Silva was brought to the police station, his relative offered Zafa P100,000 to let him go but the police official rejected the offer.

City Mayor Nestor Alvarez said, "With what he did (turning down the bribe), it only shows that Zafra is not only an efficient and dedicated officer but also a decent and honorable policeman. 

For his part, Zafra said, “In my almost 20 years in the service, I have never accepted bribe money from any person we have arrested. It is against my principle."

It was the second attempt to bribe Zafra, a member of Batch 1998 of the Philippine National Police Academy. Four years ago, he turned down a bribe of P200,000 from the owner of a truckload of kamagong and narra confiscated in Gerona, Tarlac. ###

8 Muñoz cops honored

Eight policemen of the Science City of Muñoz who shot it out with five suspected car thieves early this February were given the "Medalya ng Kagitingan" by Philippine National Police Director General Ricardo Marquez at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Awarded for heroism were Supt. Ponciano Zafra, Muñoz police chief; and SPO4 Edwin Batulay, PO1 Manny Apuyao, PO1 John Gerald Tugas, PO1 Victor Galaites, PO1 Wifredo Castro and PO1 Isee Loyd Corpuz.

Zafra and his men were manning as COMELEC checkpoint when they chanced upon the suspects who were all killed in the ensuing encounter. Two stolen vehicles were recovered from them.

Zafra was appointed Muñoz police chief only thee months ago. ###

DPWH engineer survives gun attack

An engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) survived a gun attack by two mnotorcycle-riding suspects last February 3.

Sr. Supt Manuel Corel, provincial police director, identified the target as Amado Guevarra, 57, married, of Barangay Pulong San Miguel, Talavera, chief of the construction section of the DPWH First Engineering District.

Guevarra sustined wouinds in the arms and right side of his body and was rushed to Premiere Medical Center in Cabanatuan City.

Supt. Roginald Francisco, Talavera police chief, said Guevarra was attacked at 5:15 P.M. near a road leading to the cemetery along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Poblacion Sur.

Guevarra was driving home in his Mitsubishi Montero when the suspects riding a black Yamaha motorcycle at the opposite lane stopped and the backrider repeatedly shot the victim's vehicle.

A subordinate of the victim, Jomo de Vera, who was on his way to Cabanatuan City saw Guevarra's vehicle suspiciously parked along the highway, checked and rushed the him to the hospital.

In the hospital, Guevarra said he had not received any death threat and had no known enemies.

Recovered from the crime scene were six caliber .45 shells and a bullet. ###

Cabiao barangay chair killed

A barangay chair was shot dead and his wife and sister-ini-law were wounded in a gun attack by motorcycle-riding men in Cabiao last February 6.

Chief Insp. Rico Cayabyab, Cabiao police chief, identified the fatality as Rolando Bautista, 42, chief of Barangay San Carlos, who was hit in the left cheek.

Bautista's wife, Lydia, and sister-in-law, Alicia Alveos, were grazed by stray bullets on the shoulders.

The victim's granddaughter, who was in the front seat, was not injured.

Investigators said the attack happened at noon on the second day of the Paistima Ka sa Kabyawan Festival marking the town's 168th founding anniversary.

The victims were on their way home on board a jeep and stopped over for a while at the place of the barangay official's sister-in-law. His wife was talking to her sister at the right side of the jeep when the suspects arrived and fired repeatedly at Rolando.

The suspects then fled in the direction of Barangay Palasinan.

Concerned citizens rushed the victims to Cabiao General Hospital in Barangay San Ferando Sur where Bautista was declared dead on arrival. ###

INC deacon accidentally shot dead

A deacon of the Iglesia ni Cristo died when the caliber .45 gun that was being toyed with by the owner accidentally went off, hitting him.

The victim was identified as Jay Bondoc Bulacso of Barangay Santo Tomas.

Investigation showed that at about 7:00 P.M., the victim was with Nico Martin Sta. Maria, Richard Soro, Jewel Bautista and the gun owner, Ferdinand Miguel Soro, 38, in Barangay Magsaysay, Aliaga.

Ferdinand Soro reportedly toyed with his gun until he accidentally pulled the trigger, hitting Bulacso in the neck.

The victim was rushed to Nueva Ecija Doctors' Hospital in Cabanatuan but he was declared dead on arrival.

The suspect escaped but was later arrested by elements of the Provincial Public Safety Command. ###

3 die in Santa Rosa road accident

Three persons, including a pregnant woman, were killed in a traffic accident in Barangay Soledad, Santa Rosa last February 1.

Sr. Supt Manuel Cornel, provincial police director, identified the victims as Mary Jane Garcia, 38, three months pregnant, anbd her daughter Juby Ann, 14, both of Barangay Bagong Silang, Cabiao; and Mark Anthony Gabriel,. 22, tricycle driver, of Barangay Soledad, Santa Rosa.

The accident happened along the Santa Rosa-Dingalan Road at 4:15 A.M.

The black Kawasaki Bajaj tricycle with the mother and daughter on board, was rammed by a Mitsubishi Montero driven by Army Capt. Jose Reyes, Jr. of Barangay Batitang, Zaragosa.

The Montero then crashed into the wall of Barangay Soledad Elementary School but the driver was unharmed.

The impact of the collision severed the motorcycle from its side car.

Charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide with damage to property were filed against the driver. ###

Partially burned body found

Police still face a blank wall in the case of a partially burned body of a man found last February 12 along the shoulder of Emilio Vergara Highway in Purok 2, Barangay Santa Arcadia, Cabanatuan City.

The gruesome find was reported to the police by Florencio Sumang, 58, Bantay Bayan chief of Santa Arcadia.

The body was totally burned from head to waist.

Scene-of-the-crime operatives are looking into the identity of the victim and the motive for the killing. ###

2 die in motorcycle collision

Two motorcycle drivers were killed and two back riders injured in a collision along the highway in Llanera last February 15.

Sr. Insp. Jaime Ferrer, town police chief, identified the fatalities as Crispin Nartatez, 56, of Barangay Santo Tomas, Llanera; and Reymark Valenzuela, 19, of Barangay Pargas, Guimba.

Crtitically injured were Virginia Nartatez, 45, of Barangay Bantug, Science City of Muñoz and back rider of Nartatez; and Givners Valdez, 21, of Barangay Caridad, Llanera, back rider of Valenzuela.

The head-on crash happened in Zone 1, Barangay Santo Tomas at 2:30 P.M., when Valenzuela swerved to the left lane hitting the oncoming Nartatez.

The inured were rushed to San Jose City General Hospital. ###

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