No. 240 /  April 16-30, 2010
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List of COMELEC-controlled areas out on May 3

The Commission on Elections said that it will announce the list of areas to be placed under its control -- possibly including Nueva Ecija -- on May 3, one week before the elections.

Earlier, the COMELEC, sitting en banc, held hearings on petitions to place some areas in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Abra and Zamboanga del Sur under COMELEC control.

The requests were made by Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, Abra Mayors Edwin Crisologo of Tineg and Dominic Valera of Bangued and Zamboanga del Sur Vice Mayor Wilson Nandang.

Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said that the local officials cited the history of election-related violence in their areas as basis for placing them under COMELEC control.

This means having the COMELEC commissioner to be assigned in a province serve as the acting governor with all the law enforcement agencies in the area under him.

At the hearing, Nueva Ecija Provincial Election Supervisor Grace Velasco said that the province had always come to mind when people talk about political violence.

"The reality is that Nueva Ecija has a long history of political violence as stated by our police director," Velasco said.

She cited the case in 2007 where a newly elected mayor and vice mayor in Lupao town were shot dead in a cockpit in front of hundreds of people.

But Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal called it "quite unusual" that an incumbent government official like Umali would be asking for COMELEC control over his province.

"Historically, elections in Nueva Ecija have been quite interesting," he noted.

Larrazabal served as provincial election supervisor in adjacent Bulacan province in 2007.

He asked personnel from the Philippine National Police to issue comments regarding the petitions. ###

Ecija COMELEC official: Automation can't stop vote buying

An official of the Commission on Elections in Nueva Ecija conceded that while automation would simplify this year's elections, Filipinos should not expect that it would eliminate vote buying.

Lawyer Fernando Cot-om said that the participation of concerned sectors is needed to address the issue of vote buying to fulfill the dream of having an honest election.

He said that he has been receiving complaints about vote buying, with candidates allegedly giving rice, noodles and canned goods. However, no one has filed a formal complaint and submitted evidence.

"We need written complaints and hard evidence," he said, adding that complaints should be filed directly with the COMELEC law department or the provincial prosecutor's office.

Cot-om said that COMELEC officials in Nueva Ecija are hopeful that the automated elections would go on without a hitch.

He said that the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines started arriving in the province last April 25. The machines would be stored in a warehouse in Jaen and distributed to different precincts three days before the elections.

Cot-on said that members of the boards of election inspectors were attending reorientation seminars to familiarize them with their duties and the automation process.  He said that security concerns have also been addressed. ###

Foreign elections observers to monitor Ecija polls

A total of 28 foreign election observers from the group Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections (Compact 2010) will be monitoring the May 10 elections in seven areas of concern in the country, including Nueva Ecija.

Compact is a consortium of non government organization, people's organization and people’ society group led by the Active Citizens Foundation to address perennial problems of electoral fraud and violence.

The monitoring activities will also be conducted in Pampanga, Pasig, Isabela, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao and Misamis Oriental.

Many of the areas were chosen based on their long-established records of political violence, entrenched political families and election cheating.

Aaron Molina of the Compact 2010 national secretariat said that they wanted to cover all provinces in the country but did not have enough resources.

He said that the mere presence of the foreign observers will deter probabilities of election fraud and violence.

He said that they will come up with an International Observers Mission Report to highlight the findings and recommendations of the foreign observers and a political report that will contain an overall appraisal of the 2010 elections. ###

Former military/police officials running for Ecija posts

A total of six military and police officials and a reservist from the Air Force are running for local positions in Nueva Ecija.

Making up the group are retired Chief Supt. Ricardo Padilla, ex-Senior Supts. Virgilio Fabros, Antonio Tanchoco and Tomas Hizon, retired Chief Insp. Ignacio Garcia, retired Rear Admiral Abraham Abesamis, retired police Senior Insp. Rodolfo Rivera and reservist Col. Reynaldo Garcia.

Running for mayor under Gov. Aurelio Umali's Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago are Fabros in Guimba; Tanchoco in San Isidro; Garcia in Palayan City; Hizon in Quezon; Padilla in Bongabon; while Abesamis is running under the Liberal Party (LP) in Gen. Tinio; and Rivera in Cabanatuan City. Retired Chief Insp. Garcia is running for vice mayor in San Leonardo.

Hizon, younger brother of National Printing Office Director, retired police general Servando Hizon, is running against Mariano Cristino Joson of Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (BALANE), a former mayor of Quezon and former vice governor of Nueva Ecija.

Padilla is challenging incumbent Bongabon Mayor Amelia Gamilla of BALANE whose late husband also served as mayor.

Rivera, running under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, is fighting former Mayor Jay Vergara and incumbent Mayor Alvin Vergara and two others in the mayoralty race. ###

DENR task force saves trees from election posters

A task forced formed by the local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been going around Cabanatuan City and adjacent areas to remove campaign posters that have been nailed onto trees.

Joselito Blanco, community environment and natural resources officer, said that the nailing of campaign materials on trees is not only harmful to the latter but also a violation of elections laws.

Environmentalists have noted the unabated nailing of campaign posters on trees and the ill effects of the practice on them.

"Wala itong pakundangang pananakit sa puno," a resident commented. ###

Gapan City's 'Paseo 2010'

The traditional parade -- locally called "paseo" -- held the day before the fiesta of Gapan City's patron saint, the Divina Pastora, became one long rally for politicians of all colors running in the May 10 elections and thousands of their supporters. Guess who joined the parade:

Photos by Ramon R. Valmonte. All rights reserved.

COMELEC-Ecija notes campaign material violations

Lawyer Fernando Cot-om, provincial election supervisor, said that his office is documenting violations of the Omnibus Election Code in terms of oversized campaign materials and the posting of these in unauthorized areas.

He invited concerned citizens to file cases against candidates committing such violations.

Cot-om said that the cases can be directly filed with the prosecutor's office. ###

Aliaga farmer awarded for hybrid rice feat

Rolando Acain, a mechanical engineer-turned-farmer of Barangay San Juan, Aliaga was cited as one of the model farmers during the Grand Harvest Festival held in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and hybrid seed producer SL-8H last April 16.

Agriculture Sec. Joel Rodinas said that Acain harvests 11 to 12 tons of rice  -- equivalent to 221 sacks -- per hectare.

He noted that Acain uses new technologies like the proper use of irrigation water that resulted in water conservation and effective and easy harvesting.

Acain said that the production of hybrid rice would entail increase in cost from 20 to 30 percent but said that it is worth it since there is more than 100 percent increase in yield.

He also agreed with irrigation officials that aside from the unbearable temperature, El Niño can be considered a non-event in Nueva Ecija, particularly in Aliaga and nearby towns because of adequate water supply from Pantabangan Dam. 

Roy Imperial, agriculture regional technical director for operations, said that the Arroyo administration had invested a huge amount of money in rehabilitating and constructing irrigation facilities in Nueva Ecija in the past few years.

Henry Lim, owner of SL-8H and dubbed the father of hybrid seeds in the country, said that they expect the areas planted to hybrid rice would increase to 100 hectares in the next summer planting season. ###

Roque named 'Agricultural Journalist of the Year'

Veteran journalist Dr. Anselmo Roque was named as the "Agricultural Journalist of the Year" in the 2008-2009 Binhi Awards of the Philippine Agricultural Journalists, Inc. (PAJI).

For having won the same award three times, he was elevated to the PAJI  Binhi Hall of Fame during rites held last April 16 at the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall in Quezon City.

Roque has written extensively on agriculture related issues in Nueva Ecija.

In 1989, he was installed in the Binhi Hall of Fame as "Agricultural Journalist in Filipino". ###

46th Divina Pastora Coronation Anniversary marked

The Three Kings Parish of Gapan City marked the 46th Canonical Coronation Anniversary of La Virgen Divina Pastora last April 26. Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud led a concelebrated Mass that was highlighted by the re-enactment of the coronation ceremony. A grand procession featuring contingents of street dancers capped the celebration.

Photos by Ramon R. Valmonte. All rights reserved.


Electric vehicle plant to open in Cabanatuan

Premiere Entertainment Philippines, Inc, a gaming company, plans to open an electric vehicle plant and show room in Cabanatuan City.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange last April 20, Premiere Entertainment said that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Cabanatuan City government to establish an electric vehicle plant as part of the city's bid to attract green technology manufacturing.

Premiere Entertainment started as a film company, then underwent corporate restructuring in 1996 to take advantage of the booming gaming, entertainment and leisure industry in the country. ###

Ecijana teen weightlifter qualifies for Youth Olympics

Patricia Llena, teenage weightlifter from San Antonio town, became the first Filipino athlete in an individual event to quality for the First Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

She bagged the berth after winning three bronze medals in the recent Asian Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championship in  Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

"Masaya dahil nabigyan ko ng karangalan ang bansa," Llena said after her name was announced.

She will join the RP Youth 3-on-3 boys' basketball team in the Singapore games for athletes 17 years old and below, from August 14 to 15.

Earlier, Llena won three gold medals and a bronze in the 2009 World Sub-Junior and Junior Championships in Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

She also placed 10th in the World Youth and Junior Weightlifting Championship in Chang Mai, Thailand last year.

Llena is also set to compete in the Asian Powerlifting Championships from May 1 to 6 at the Central Palace of Art and Culture in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

She is coached by her father, Leonard, a former national weightlifter. ###

10 minors rescued from Muñoz bar

Operatives of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office rescued 10 minors who were allegedly forced to work in a bar in the Science City of Muñoz and arrested five persons who recruited them.

Chief Supt. Arturo Cacdac, Jr., Central Luzon police director, commended the Nueva Ecija police for the operation that resulted in the neutralization of the suspected human trafficking gang in the region.

Arrested were Elpidio del Valle, alias “Pidiong,” 53, and Pablito D. dela Cruz, 23, both of Muñoz; Charlene C. Campus, 22, of Fairview, Quezon City; and Justin C. Pineda and Wendy Pajardo, 22, both of Caloocan City.

The rescued minors consisted of five girls from 15 to 17 years old, and five boys aged 17 to 18. They were recruited from Caloocan City and promised good pay. Some wound up as entertainers for male customers in the disco pub.

Supt. Edgar Allan Okubo, Muñoz police chief, said that the five suspects will be charged with violating the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2003. ###

Gapan suspected pusher nabbed

The Gapan City police arrested a suspected drug trafficker during a buy-bust operation last April 29.

Supt. Ricardo E. Villanueva, city police chief, identified the suspect as Andres Genses alias Andy, 43, of Barangay San Nicolas.

Police said that the suspect is a notorious pusher who has been engaged in the illegal drug trade since 2000.

Genses was arrested by anti-drug operatives led by PO2 Bobby Oamil, PO1s Jeff Bunag, Cris Tolentino and Mark Ordoñez at the Kyoto Hotel along Irrigation Road in Barangay Bayanihan.

He yielded five plastic shabu sachets and two marked P500 bills.

The suspect was charged with violating RA 9165. ###

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