No. 237 /  March 1-15, 2010
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PGMA inspects
Guimba irrigation facilities

President Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo inspected irrigation facilities in Guimba last March 1 before attending the PMA graduation rites in Baguio City.

Upon her arrival in Barangay Naglabrahan, she was welcomed by Gov. Aurelio Umali, Guimba Mayor Boyito Dizon, Presidential Assistant for Central Luzon Lorelei Fajardo, PNP-PRO 3 Dir. C/Superintendent Leon Nilo de la Cruz and 7th Infantry Division Commander Brig/Gen. Ireneo Espino.

Also at the inspection site were Agriculture Sec. Bernado Fondavilla; National Irrigation Administration OIC Alexander Reuyan;  Eng. Alexander Coloma, manager of the Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP), and  Eng. Antonio Nangel, operations manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS).

Farmers expressed confidence that the El Niño will have minimal effects on their crops because of the ongoing rehabilitation of CMIPP.

The project involves the rehabilitation of UPRIIS and the development of new areas for irrigation, including San Jose, Muñoz, Talugtug, Licab, Guimba and a portion of the adjacent  town of Victoria in Tarlac.

Francisco Tolentino, president of Glorya sa Bagong Milenyo Irrigators Association assured that Nueva Ecija will not be affected by the dry spell because there is enough water in the Casecnan Dam which supplies water to the irrigation system. 

The irrigation component of Casecnan Dam is a big super region project intended to improve the lives of small farmers in the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle composed of Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley Region, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and the northern part of Central Luzon. ###

Ecija unfazed by El Niño, expects bumper harvest

The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects a bumper rice harvest in Nueva Ecija this dry cropping season with the province hardly touched by the El Niño phenomenon.

Roy Imperial, DA assistant regional director, said that only 3,162 hectares of the 146,770 hectares planted to rice have been affected by drought.

He said that the figure is considered negligible when compared to other provinces suffering from drought.

Imperial said that Nueva Ecija expects to lose P28 million in agriculture to El Niño compared to the billions of income lost in other provinces hit by the dry spell.

He said that only parts of northern towns in the province like Carranglan, Cuyapo, Lupao and Talugtug are affected by drought, with most farms there dependent on small water impounding projects that had dried up.

Imperial said that the effects of El Niño in Nueva Ecija were mitigated by a program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap involving the distribution of flat-bed dryers and repair of irrigation systems that was implemented two years before.

He said that for the dry and wet seasons, a total harvest of 736,023 metric tons each is expected, possibly surpassing the 1.5 million metric tons targeted under the Philippine Rice Master Plan. ###

Company eyes construction of  Balintingon Dam

Concord Pacific Investment Holdings, Inc. has signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for undertaking feasibility studies on the construction of the Balintingon Reservoir Multipurpose Project (BRMP) in General Tinio town.

Jose Utrillo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Concord, said that the dam will provide water to 18,800 hectares of unirrigated farmlands in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan. The project's hydropower component will supply 60 to 80 megawatts of electricity to the Luzon grid. Also, the dam can supply domestic water to Metro Manila at the rate of 10 cubic meters per second.

The reservoir will use pump-back technology to conserve and optimize the use of water from Sumacbao River.

Utrillo said that the project may be completed within four and half years. ###

Ecija irrigation water reaches San Ildefonso

Irrigation water from Nueva Ecija started flowing to the Maasim River in San Ildefonso Bulacan last March 15.

Carlito Gapasin, manager of the engineering and operations division of Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS) said that water from Pantabangan Dam will replace the water coming from Angat Dam for the irrigation needs of San Ildefonso farms. The saved water from Angat, in turn, will be added to the domestic water supply of Metro Manila.

The 46 kilometer channel leading to Maasim River was widened and desilted so irrigation water from Nueva Ecija can be discharged there at three to five cubic meters per second.

UPRIIS Operations Manager Antonio S. Nangel alerted Agriculture Sec. Bernado Fondavilla about the water diversion.

Last March 2, the water level at Pantabangan Dam was recorded at 183 meters, way above the critical level of 172 meters. ###

Gapan public market inaugurated

The new Gapan City public market was inaugurated and blessed last March 7.

Vice Gov. Edward Thomas F. Joson and Baby Natividad, wife of Gapan City Mayor Ernesto L. Natividad, cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The city mayor led the unveiling of a marker at the side of the market's main entrance.

Priests from the various Gapan parishes led by Fr. Onet Mangahas of the Three Kings Parish, and former parish priest Fr. Elmer Mangalinao, now assigned at the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Cabanatuan City, went around the huge complex for the blessing. 

Among the guests were Sr. Board Member Rommel Padilla, Brigida Pili of the Department of Trade and Industry, city and barangay officials and civic and religious leaders.

Noticeable was the absence of Vice Mayor Christian Tinio and his party mates in the Sangguniang Panglungsod.

Joson, in his brief remarks, called the Gapan City market as the best such facility in Nueva Ecija and asked the city residents to help preserve the beauty and cleanliness of the place.

Mayor Natividad, obliquely referring to the feud between him and his vice mayor that stalled the opening of the new city market, asked the audience to forget the past and move on to ensure the further development of the city.

Later, vendors and marketgoers armed with camera phones had a field day posing with Joson and Padilla, and were treated by the city government to free lugaw and puto. ###

Ecija has over 32,000 double registrants

Records of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) shows that Nueva Ecija has 32,030 voters who had registered more than once.

Nueva Ecija ranked fourth among the areas with the highest number of multiple registrants. Topping the list were the National Capital Region (156,133), Cavite (47,016) and Davao del Sur (34,557).

The COMELEC is set to issue a watch list against some 700,000 double or multiple registered voters nationwide.

"Voting more than once is an election offense and is punishable by law," said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

He said that based on COMELEC Minute Resolution 09-0696,  the latest records of multiple registrants will be retained if they are listed in different districts, cities or municipalities, while those with multiple registration in the same district, city or municipality will be allowed to voter using their original registration. ###

SP member sends SOS to San Jose bishop

A Sangguniang Panglalawigan member called on the bishop of the Diocese of San Jose to help end the worsening corruption in Nueva Ecija.

Board Member Raquel Agapito said that it is truly devastating that Nueva Ecija has been dubbed as the "corruption capital" of the country.

Agapito called on Bishop Mylo Hubert C. Vergara to take steps to restore the good image of the province.

"This is very alarming, hindi po natin masukat isipin na ang aming probinsya pala ang kinikilalang corruption capital. Nakikiusap po ako sa aming mahal na Obispo, kailangan po ng mga Novo Ecijano ang inyong gabay at kaliwanagan," Agapito said. ###

PhilRice warns farmers vs. 'biofertilizers'

The Muñoz-based Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) warned farmers against using so-called "biofertilizers" after tests conducted by the research agency showed that these substances do not increase yield as advertised.

Ronilo Beronio, PhilRice executive director, said that tests in ten provinces covering both the wet and dry months showed that biofertilizers are not effective in promoting growth and increasing rice and corn yield.

There are claims that biofertilizers contain microorganisms that fix atmospheric nitrogen and add minerals and other nutrients to the soil, produce growth promoting hormones and fight pests and diseases.

Beronio clarified that biofertilizers provide only a small amount of nutrients, or none at all.

The study was conducted by Michelle Castillo and Cezar Mamaril, PhilRice science research specialist and senior consulting expert, respectively, in collaboration with PhilRice branch stations, regional Department of Agriculture agencies and state universities and colleges. ###

Nueva Ecija-Cagayan toll way in the works

Two more expressways will be built in North Luzon -- one that will connect Nueva Ecija to Cagayan and the other, La Union to Laoag City.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last March 3 inspected a portion of an 88 kilometer expressway in Rosales, Pangasinan which will form part of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.

The President said that San Miguel Corporation (SMC) will be submitting plans to construct under the bulid-operate-transfer scheme the expressways that will link Nueva Ecija to Cagayan and La Union to Laoag City.

SMC is on the final stage of talks to acquire up to 67 percent of the infrastructure company Ausphil Tollways Corp., the main proponent of the North Luzon East Expressway (NLEE).

NLEE is a four lane toll road project that will connect Commonwealth Avenue in La Mesa, Quezon City to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija. ###

City council feud with Vergara worsens

The Sangguniang Panglunsod of Cabanatuan City castigated Mayor Alvin Vergara for allegedly violating the Local  Government Code by entering into a contract without the council's approval.

Eight city council members filed SP Resolution 025-2010 criticizing Vergara for buying two parcels of land for the setting up of a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Barangay San Isidro worth P2,105,900.00 without the approval of the SP.

Those who signed the resolution were SP Members Froilan Valino, Ariel Severino, Francisco Tolentino, Cristina Paulino, Jonjon del Rosario, Johnero Mercado, Joselito Roque and Angelito Saclolo, Jr. 

They also criticized the chiefs of the city's Budget, Accounting, Development and Planning and Engineering offices for approving the purchase.

Vergara reportedly asked for the SP's approval of the purchase of the lots when the MRF was already operating. ###

Robbery ring head, member arrested

Two alleged members of the Cunanan robbery group were arrested at a police checkpoint along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Bayanihan, Gapan City last March 9.

Before the arrest, joint elements of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office, Tarlac Provincial Police Office and the 3rd Regional Public Safety Management Battalion closely monitored the group reportedly responsible for robbery-holdups in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan.

Chief Supt. Arturo Cacdac, Jr., newly appointed Central Luzon police director, identified those arrested as William Saraos Gaor, 40, of Narra St., Barangay Narra, Malabon City, and Alfredo Villanueva Cunanan, 59, of Barangay Mallorca, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija and alleged leader  of the group.

Last March 4, the group victimized Godofrego Tangonan, a Sangguniang Bayan member of Paniqui, Tarlac who lost a vault during a burglary in his house.

Elements from the Gapan City police recovered from the suspects one .9mm pistol, a caliber .38 revolver, one crowbar, two big screw drivers and assorted tools.

The suspects were charged with robbery and illegal possession of firearms in relation to the Omnibus Election Code. ###


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