Volume14 / No. 7                                                                                                               April 15, 2014
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Ecijanos to mark
La Divina Pastora's
50th Coronation Anniversary

A rare photo of the original miraculous Divina Pastora image wiithout vestments.

All roads lead to Gapan City in Nueva Ecija on April 26 for a historic religious event – the 50th Canonical Coronation Anniversary of La Virgen Divina Pastora, the object of the biggest Marian pilgrimage in Central Luzon.

Coinciding with the Canonical Coronation Golden Jubilee is the 28th anniversary of the declaration of the Three Kings Parish church as the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora.

Rev. Father Antonio Mangahas, Three Kings Parish priest, said five bishops and some 50 priests from the Diocese of Cabanatuan and Diocese of San Jose, will concelebrate the Golden Jubilee Mass to be officiated by Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud at 2:00 P.M. in the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora.

The other bishops include Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, San Jose Bishop Roberto C. Mallari, Tarlac Bishop Florentino F. Cinense and Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio.

Villegas, current president of the Catholic Bishops Conference, will be the guest homilist and will re-enact the coronation rite.

After the Mass, a grand procession will be held featuring the 49 patron saints of Gapan City’s barangays and sitios. Capping the event is the unveiling of the Golden Jubilee marker and a fireworks display.

Expected to attend the event are top government officials led by Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio M. Umali and Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos.

This year’s Divina Pastora fiesta hermano and hermana are Dr. Janette Valmonte de Leon-Padiernos, wife of the Vice Gov. Jose Gay G. Padiernos, and retired Maj. Gen. Ruperto R. Pabustan

The devotion to the Divina Pastora was started by Dona Juana Valmonte in the late 1700s with the arrival of the original miniature image from Spain. Not long after, stories of miracles attributed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary through the image began to circulate. What was supposed to be a family thanksgiving fiesta for abundant harvest held every May 1 began to be joined by pilgrims who would show up uninvited to pray before the image to ask for favors or give thanks for those granted. In time, the Gapan parish, noting the popularity of the devotion to the image, adopted the Divina Pastora as its second patron saint after the Three Kings.

In the 1950s, the Church enthroned the Divina Pastora as patroness of the Diocese of San Fernando that used to encompass the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan and Nueva Ecija.

On December 19, 1963, Pope Paul VI issued a papal bull for the canonical coronation of the image of the Divina Pastora of Gapan. The honor is bestowed by the Church to a Marian image that is historically old, acclaimed in a certain locality and, in times of need, serves as beacon of faith and hope among the people. The coronation rites took place on April 26, 1964, officiated by the first bishop of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, Mariano Gaviola. On that occasion, Divina Pastora was declared as patron saint of the newly created diocese that, at that time, covered the whole province of Nueva  Ecija.

On April 26, 1986, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines through its president, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, declared the Gapan church as the National Shrine of La Virgen Divina Pastora.

On that occasion, the Valmonte family donated the original image of the Divina Pastora to the Three Kings Parish, where it is now permanently enshrined at the altar of the left side chapel. ###

Early preparations for rainy season underway

Though the summer season has just begun, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has already in place a preparedness program for the rainy season, including over P28 million in quick response fund.

The council, presided by Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Regional Director Abraham Pascua as co-chair, approved the P93.97 million local risk reduction and management fund investment plan that provides for over P28 million as stand-by fund for relief and recovery program for areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics and other complex emergencies.

Pascua said that climate change is the reason for the early preparations.

He said that under the program, the local council will procure early warning systems, disaster preparedness equipment, medical supplies and relief goods.

He said trainings and seminars for relief and rescue teams will be held, including simulation exercises and drills at all levels.

The PDRRMC will also rehabilitate flood-mitigating infrastructure like the Santa Monica Dike Phase II in Aliaga costing  P21.9 million and the Luyos-Buliran Overflow Bridge in San Antonio costing P13.3 million.

At least five gymnasiums, serving as multipurpose facilities, will be constructed soon to serve as evacuation centers during calamities. The modified structures with a total cost of P17.6 million will have toilets for men and women, kitchen, laundry area, facility for proper disposal of human waste and water pumps.

Among the places already identified as location for the gyms are Barangays Padolina and Pias in General Tinio; San Roque and Tambo North Elementary School in San Leonardo; Gabaldon Integrated School in Barangay Gabaldon, Science City of Muñoz; Barangay Casongsong, Guimba; and Cama Juan, San Antonio. ###

NIA-UPRIIS ensures delivery of Pantabangan Dam water to farms

National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (NIA-UPRIIS), operator of Pantabangan Dam, is building dike bypasses to ensure that irrigation water will reach the tail-end of its service areas, specifically in southern Nueva Ecija and parts of Bulacan.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the agency has begun the construction of bypass canals after thousands of farmers complained of losses when irrigation water failed to reach their farms despite the abundance of impounded water in Pantabangan. He said the bypass canals will start operating on April 15.

Alcala was in Talavera for the town's harvest festival and the opening of the rehabilitated 60-year old Murcon Dam.

NIA-UPRIIS Operations Manager Josephine Salazar said that areas in Bulacan and Gapan City and Cabiao in Nueva Ecija serviced by the system's Division 4 primarily source their irrigation needs from the Peñaranda River System which normally provides 31 cubic meters of water per second. However this dry copping season, it is able to generate only three cubic meters per second.

This forces the division to get water from Pantabangan Dam which had to pass through the Rizal-Bongabon Irrigation Ssytem, Cabanatuan City, Santa Rosa and San Leonardo where there is no longer any need for that much water.

Salazar said the building of by-pass canals was a long-term solution to the problem. ###

Fort Magsaysay area shrinking

Fort Magsaysay has been shrinking at an average rate of  460 hectares a year due to the issuance of presidential proclamations and intrusion of thousands of informal settlers.

Captain Robert Reyes, adjutant of the 7th Infantry  Division based in the military reservation, said the camp is now only 45,837 hectares from its former area of 73,000 hectares when it was established on December 19, 1955.

He said the Army is now looking into ways to recover and retain its land area by reviewing different presidential proclamations and directives. He said areas that can no longer be recovered are referred to the Office of the Solicitor General.

He cited the case of 3,100 hectares in Laur which have been set aside as settlement for victims of the Mount Pinatubo eruptions.

He said the situation is worsened by the proliferation of informal settlers who now number 15,000. He said two relocation sites have been proposed for them.

Reyes said there is  a plan to use portions of the reservation for agricultural production, including 3,000 hectares for bamboo plantation.

A proposed land use plan, meanwhile, intends to set up a logistics center, economic and industrial zone, eco-tourism area, reforestation area, livestock and vegetable area and 240 hectares for the proposed transfer of the National Bilibid Prisons to the portion of the camp in Barangay Nazareth, General Tinio. ###

Processing of titles of Barangay Militar settlers starts

Palayan City Mayor Adrienne Mae Cuevas said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR) can start the processing of land titles for more than 5,700 residents of Barangay Militar.

Cuevas said the residents are no longer considered squatters after the land they have been occupying were separated from the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation by the late President Corazon Aquino in 1991.

Engr. Roberto Quizon, the surveyor in charge of the DENR's Land Management Services, said the agency would start processing the titles based on the subdivision plan.

He said Barangay Militar is titled under the Republic of the Philippines as part of Fort Magsaysay and declared a basic political unit under Proclamation 708 of President Aquino.

Barrio Militar was created on March 20, 1960 under General Order 58 of the Headquarters of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division.

A barrio captain was appointed by the commanding general of the Army, and the first barrio council was organized with an Army officer designated as administrator until March 1991 when the place was separated from the military reservation. ###

Army holds boodle fight for Lions World Lunch Relay Event

The 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division of the Philippine Army under Brig. Gen. Glorioso Miranda and the Nueva Ecija Cardinals Lions Club headed by Jing V. Fernando fed 625 Army personnel in connection with the Lions World Lunch Relay Event last April 4.

A simple program was held before the boodle fight,  with Col.Amuerfino Datu, assistant chief of staff for CEIS G6, giving a message.

"Heroism is ingrained in the social consciousness of the7ID Troopers, and we thank you for impressing this virtue among your members. Once again, thank you to Lions Club of Nueva Ecija headed by Ms. Jing Fernando for feeding a total of 625 soldiers and for promoting 7th Infantry (KAUGNAY) Division as one of the tourist destinations here in Nueva Ecija. Together, let us craft the legacy of a fully revitalized 7ID and create a profound difference in the lives of the Kaugnay Troops," Col Datu said .

The program also featured a yo-yo exhibition by Spyro Marco, Ultimate Talentadong Pinoy Champion 2013. ###

Murder cases filed against employer of beheaded OFW, brother-in-law

Two men suspected of killing a female overseas Filipino worker whose head was found in a plastic bag in an irrigation canal have been charged with murder.

Dennis Samson and his brother-in-law, Elcielo Valdez, both of Barangay Lourdes, Santa Rosa were charged at the Provincial Prosecutor's Office.

Samson was identified as the employer of the victim, Maribel Alpas, 30, single, of Hinona-An, Negros Occidental, who worked as a domestic helper for his family for two years in the United Kingdom.

Chief Insp. Eric de Venancio, Cabiao police chief, said the victim was last known to be alive last March 20 when she texted her sister that she would go to her employer's house and that someone was going to pick her up at the bus stop in Barangay Lourdes, Santa Rosa.

A CCTV camera installed at a gasoline station near the bus stop captured Alpas getting into a multicap.

De Venancio did not say if the man driving was Samson or Valdez, but it was the last time Alpas was seen alive.

Five days later, a plastig bag containing the head of the victim was fished out of an irrigation canal in Sitio Saint Joseph in Barangay San Fernando Sur, Cabiao. The rest of the body has yet to be found.

De Venancio said that despite the filing of murder charges against the suspects, the motive for the killing was still under investigation. ###

6 girls rescued in Cabanatuan, 2 pimps arrested

Police arrested two alleged pimps and rescued six young women, most of them minors, in Cabanatuan City.

Reports reaching Camp Crame said the suspected pimps, Shan Sanchez and Jessielyn Aquino, were arrested after offering the services of the girls for P4,000 each to undercover agents of the 3rd Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit undertaking anti-human trafficking operation.

The rescued women  were turned over to the local social welfare and development office. ###

Former army soldier killed in Talavera

A former Philippine Army soldier was shot dead by unidentified men in Barangay Minabuyok, Talavera on the night of April 11.

Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police office chief, reported to Camp Crame that the victim  was Carolito Rcohermoso, 47, a former member of the Army and a resident of the barangay.

The victim was on his way to harvest palay at the farm of Boyet Vinculado and while walking along an irrigation dike, he was shot several time by the suspects. The victim died on the spot due to severe gunshot wounds in the body.

Policemen later recovered two caliber .45 cartridges at the scene.

Nieves said he had ordered the Talavera police chief to conduct hot pursuit operations and identification of the suspects, and uncover the motive for the killing. ###

Ex-police asset shot dead

A former police asset was shot and killed by armed men who had barged into his home in Barangay Bantug Norte, Cabanatuan City last April 11.

The victim was identified as Angelo Lucas, 39, married.

The victim's body with gunshot wounds in the head was found at 7:00 A.M. by a certain Rolan Lucas who informed the police about it.

Investigators believe the persons responsible for the killing were members of a syndicate that Lucas had tipped to the police. ###

Pa, daughter killed in San Leonardo traffic accident

A father and his daughter were killed when the tribike they were riding collided with a passenger bus along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Tabuating, San Leonardo on the night of Apriil 1.

Chief Insp. Renato Morales identified the victims as Andy Zaragoza Tigao, 47, and his daughter Angeliine Alguarte Tigao, 6, both residents of Barangay Tabuating.

Investigation showed that at about 8:00 P.M. the victims were on their way home aboard a tribike when they were bumped by a Baliwag Transit Bus (CXM-910) driven by Luisito Bundoc Ortiz, 56, of Barangay San Roque, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. The driver surrendered to the police.

The victims were rushed to Gonzales General Hospital but were declared dead on arrival. ###

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