Volume14 / No. 10                                                                                                                 May 31, 2014
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
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2014


Aliaga mayor unseated

A court in Aliaga has unseated the town's mayor, Elizabeth Vargas, after voiding some votes cast for her in the 2013 local elections that gave her a 64-vote lead over her rival, Reynaldo Ordanes of the Nationalist People's Coalition.

Judge Virgilio Caballero of the local Regional Trial Court, after examining the11,477 votes garnered by Vargas and the 11,413 votes for Ordanes, concluded that the 72 votes for Vargas should have been considered stray votes.

In his May 28 decision,Caballero also ruled that three of Ordanes' votes which had been rejected by the precinct count optical machine, were valid.

With the recount, Vargas received 11,405 votes after deducting 72 votes while those for Ordanes totaled 11,416 after the three validated ballots were added, or  difference of 11 votes.

Municipal Administrator Emmanuel San Juan said Vargas had appealed the decision. ###


Joson: Napoles scam busted sooner had Ombudsman acted on Ecija PDAF anomaly

Former Vice Governor Edward Thomas Joson said had the Office of the Ombudsman acted on the first reported pork barrel anomaly in Nueva Ecija, the public would have been alerted much earlier to the scams committed by Janet Lim-Napoles.

Joson filed a complaint in 2008 regarding overpriced fertilizers for farmers in Gabaldon and General Natividad but the complaint dragged on for several years.

This involved the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of then Rep. Aurelio Umali of the Third Congressional District.

Joson filed charges for graft and corruption against Umali, now Nueva Ecija governor, for violating government procurement law when P15 million of Umali's PDF was used for the purchase of fertilizers that allegedly cost 15 times their actual price.

Joson said the purchase was coursed through a fake foundation called Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI) that was later discovered to belong to Napoles.

In Joson's complaint, he said the mayor of Gabaldon and the municipal agriculturist of General Naividad received 7,920 bottles of liquid fertilizer with the brand name "Nutro Ocean Fish Liquid Fertiliizer".

He said the fertilizers were for a production assistance project that was facilitated by the regional office of the Department of Agriculture and MAMFI through a memorandum of agreement signed by its president, Marina Sula, now turned whistle blower against Napoles, and Regional Director Renato Manantan.

The fertilizer was valued at P1,500 per liter with P11.8 million worth purchased through Umali's PDF which was released to the DA regional office in 2005, including P120,000 for the MAMFI administrative support staff.

In the notarized affidavits of farmer-beneficiaries Romeo Abesamis, Nathaniel Balajadia, Andy Cando and Ernesto Fernandez, all of Barangay Tagumpay, Gabaldon, they said they paid P50 each for the liquid fertilizer as contribution to their municipal government, knowing that the products cost less than market price of P100 to P150 per liter. They later discovered that the fertilizers were overpriced by 10 to 15 percent.

Meanwhile, Cesario Dayao, Pablo Pangilinan, Nicanor Santos and Crisostomo Soriano, farmer-beneficiaries from General Natividad, said in their joint affidavit that they received free bottles of fertilizers from their municipal agricultural officer.

Joson said that at that time, he did not know that MAMFI was among the fake foundations of Napoles, and added that he will also file charges against Sula.

In another complaint, Joson said Umali's PDF was used for technical assistance for livelihood projects and for the supply of irrigation pumps, implemented through the Samahan ng mga Manininda ng Prutas sa Gabi, Inc. with a fund of P3 million.

He said cost of the water pumps ballooned to P120,000 each, beyond the actual price of P42,000 to P55,000 each.

In his reply to the Ombudsman, Umali denied any involvement in the anomalies, saying that the agreement between MAMFI and DA would reveal that he did not participate or commit any single violation of the law against corrupt practices of public officials.

He pointed out that the only role of a congressman is to recommend priority projects. ###


Manang Josie: PDAF expenditures above-board

Former First District Rep. Josefina Manuel-Joson said projects implemented with the use of her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when she was still a lawmaker were all above board, fully implemented and documented.

Joson was reacting to a report published in Philippine Daily Inquirer mentioning her in the list of congressmen linked to the Janet Napoles PDAF scam derived from the files of whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

Speaking through her lawyer, Joson said that her measly PDAF during her term was allocated for infrastructure, education and medical and social services. ###


47 Ecija private elementary and high schools raise tuition

The Department of Education (DepEd) has allowed 345 private elementary and high schools in Central Luzon, including 46 in Nueva Ecija, to raise their fees this school year.

The number comprise about half of the 689 such schools in the region.

Isabelita Borres, DepEd regional director, said that though private schools are not regulated by DepEd, the agency still holds schools liable when they violate guidelines on tuition increases.

She explained that the tuition hikes were approved on condition that 70 percent of the amount collected will go to to the salary of teachers while the remainder will be used for improving school facilities.

Pampanga has the most number of private schools that will raise tuition, totaling 82; followed by Bulacan, 76; Tarlac, 72; Nueva Ecija, 47; Aurora, 40; and Zambales, 38. ###


Bam Aquino cites Jollibee-KALASAG partnership

Senator Bam Aquino, speaking at the Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions 2014 Summit in Cebu City last May 24, cited how large corporations are including the poor in their growth plans as a way for development to reach the poorest sectors of society.

He mentioned as an example how the fast-food giant Jollibee has improved the lives of the KALASAG Farmers Producers Cooeprative of  San Jose City, Nueva Ecija and said such a success story can easily be replicated around the country.

Jollibee Foods Corporation buys its supplies of onions from Nueva Ecija farmers.

Through a project bridging the farmers to the Jollibee food supply chain, members of KALASAG -- abbreviated forms of the names of Barangays Kaliwanagan and San Agustin -- are now benefiting from the value chain system project.

KALASAG was organized in 2008 with 30 members. Now, the coop has 53 members.

It is remarkable to that a small farmers' organization can supply the huge onion requirement of Jollibee. In 2009, they were asked to produce 60 metric tons but were unable to meet the quality requirements because of heavy rains.

The following year, they were requested 197 metric tons of fresh and peeled onion and delivered 236 tons. The coop had an overproduction during this period.

In 2010, the coop earned P251,000, aside from the individual earnings of is members. ###



7ID holds first Santa Rosa youth summit

The 7th Infantry Division (7ID) of the Philippine Army, through the 1st Civil Military Operations Company of the 7th Civil Military Operations Battalion, hosted the First Youth Leadership Summit in Santa Rosa town.

Some 100 youths from different barangays of the town attended the summit held at the 7ID headquarters in Fort Magsaysay.

Capt. Mark Anthony Ruelos, public affairs officer, said the four-day activity emphasized the role of the youth in nation-building and served as a platform for the discussion of issues like environmental protection, drug abuse, human rights and spiritual values.

Problem-solving exercises were also held to test the participants' teamwork. ###


5 Palayan barangays go dry

Five barangays in Palayan City have reportedly been relying on rationed water after the shallow wells in those areas dried up due to the severe heat.

The Palayan City Water District delivers water to Barangays Manggahan, Pinaltakan, Aulo, Singalat and Imelda using a tanker provided by the family of City Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas.

Cuevas has activated a multi-agency task force to develop new water sources for the affected communities and improve irrigation service. ###


NIA, DENR to rehabilitate Ecija watershed areas

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will team up for the rehabilitation of 14,133 hectares of watershed areas in Nueva Ecija.

NIA Administrator Claro Maranan said a memorandum of agreement will be forged with DENR, represented by Director Ricardo Calderon of the Forest Management Bureau, to rehabilitate denuded forests in the Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed under the Forest Management Project.

He said they will also tap the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines as a project partner.

Covered by the plan are Barangays Salazar and Burgos in the Barat watershed;  Barangays Bunga, R.A. Padilla, Burgos, San Agustin  in the Seguim watershed; Barangays Gen. Luna, San Agustin, and Burgos in the Pinagloriahan watershed; and Barangay Conversion, Nueva Vizcaya in the Diaman watershed.

The project is considered crucial since the watershed areas surround Pantabangan Dam which irrigates more than 100,000 hectares of farms in Nueva Ecija and parts of Pampanga and Bulacan. ###


No biometric data, no vote

The Cabanatuan City office of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) warned thousands of the city's registered voters still without biometric records as mandated by Republic Act No. 10367, that they may be disqualified from voting in the 2016 national elections.

Meanwhile the elections officers of Cabanatuan City, San Jose City and San Leonardo were shuffled earlier this month.

Lawyer Arsenio Reyes, Jr. was transferred from Cabanatuan to San Jose City while Leonardo Navarro of San Leonardo took over the Cabanatuan post.

Navarro said COMELEC will go full swing in voters' registration and the updating of voters' records in preparation for the 2016 elections.

He said he plans to campaign in various barangays, especially those in remote areas, and put up satellite offices to bring COMELEC closer to the city residents.

He said the registration of voters, validation and updating of registration records started last May 6 and will end on October 31, 2015.

Navarro pointed out that 65,673 registered voters in Cabanatuan, or 29 percent of the total 226,190 registered voters, still have no biometric data.

He sad those without biometric data will be deactivated or removed from the precinct book of voters.

The data include photograph, fingerprints and signature, aimed at establishing a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters pursuant to Republic Act 10367. ###


NSO-Cabanatuan swamped with document seekers

People who transact with the National Statistics Office in Cabanatuan City have been complaining of the long waiting hours before they can secure vital records such as birth certificates, wedding registrations and other civil records.

It was learned that only three collection officers were attending to the long queue of document seekers.

NSO Provincial Officer Elizabeth Rayo explained that the situation could not be eased because people normally flock to their offices during the peak months of May and June to secure birth certificates needed for school enrollment.

Rayo blamed the people's"mañana habit" -- waiting for the last hour before acting -- for the woes they are experiencing.

"You know, people are really like that. They wait for the deadline before making their move," she said. ###


UP summa cum laude grad named outstanding citizen of Talavera

Alexander John Cruz who graduated as one of the 19 summa cum laudes of the University of the Philippines last April, was named "Natatanging Anak ng Talavera".

The 21 year old B.S. Chemical Engineering graduate was one of only six people given the award by the municipal government headed by Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez, in connection with the "Linggo ng Magsasaka" festivities in honor of the town's patron saint, San Isidro Labrador.

Martinez said Cruz’s scholastic achievements, having entered UP as a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology, serve as inspiration among the town residents.

The other awardees were Aquilino Ferrer for agriculture; Judith De Vera, spiritual field; Jonnie Payoyo, youth leadership; Carlito Fernando, finance; and Ricardo Buenaventura, cooperative. ###


RDC project monitoring group visits Palayan integrated city health office

The Project Monitoring Committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC) visited the newly opened Integrated City Health Office (ICHO) of Palayan City in Barangay Caimito.

Severino Santos, RDC presiding officer and National Economic Development Authority regional director, said the ICHO is an upgraded facility funded by the Department of Health under the Health and Facilities Enhancement Program at a cost of P2.5 million.

A total of P1.5 million was used for the improvement of the labor, dental and delivery rooms while the rest of the amount was for the purchase of medical equipment to provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care.

Dr. Victoria Shiela Flores of ICHO said the enhancement of quality health services and provision of well-equipped facilities will enable them to cater to majority of the community residents, particularly indigents. ###


Ecijano invents 'ipa' stove

Engr. Alexis T. Belonio, a Novo Ecijano inventor, has developed a stove that uses rice husks as fuel but works like a normal LPG stove.

It is composed of a burner, a gasifier reactor, a char chamber, a fan and a control switch.

The ideal is to limit the amount of air when burning the rice husks, allowing the stove to produce a luminous blue flame similar to that of an LPG stove.

Belonio said the use of firewood causes forest denudation, while LPG is expensive. He said these made him think of producing stoves with low-cost fuel that could help even poor families in rural areas.

The stove is not only environment-friendly but also cost efficient. A kilo of riice hull costing around P2 a kilo -- even free in some areas -- lasts for one hour while the electric power consumption of the fan is about P1 per hour. With the rice hull stove, cooking costs only P3 per hour compared to P17 per hour for LPG stoves.

Belonio sells the single burner version for around P2,000 to P3,000, depending on the design.

His stove has won various local and international awards. This year, it is the national winner for the Philippines of the Energy Globe Award 2014, an annual prize given by the Energy Globe Foundation through the Austrian embassy.

Rice husk stove technology was introduced in 1986 under the Department of Agriculture-International Rice Research Institute Program for Small Farm Equipment to replace wood and charcoal for domestic stoves. ###


Cabanatuan drug trafficker nabbed

A suspected drug trafficker was arrested by anti-illegal drugs operatives near a motel along General Tinio Street Extension, Barangay Hermogenes Concepcion, Sr., Cabanatuan City  last May 16.

Arrested was Alvin Razon alias Alvin, 31, single, of Barangay San Miguel, Quezon.

He yielded 21 pieces of plastic sachets containing alleged shabu with a market value of P80,000, marked P500 bill and a red motorcycle.

Supt. Pedro Soliba, city police chief, said the suspect was arrested within 10 minutes after his men negotiated a drug deal through text messages.

After being arrested, the suspect told the police that he was forced to leave Quezon and continue his drug-pushing activities in Cabanatuan because arrested drug pushers in the city get jailed while those in his hometown allegedly "disappear". ###


Two ladies get robbed while taking shelter from rain

Two women were robbed of their bags and motorycle while shielding themselves from a strong rain in Barangay Santa Cruz, Gapan City last May 28.

The victims were identified as Marilyn Villanda Yñigo, 38 and Monette Macrohon Gonzales, 34, both married of Barangay San Roque, San Isidro.

It was learned that the victims were traveling on board their motorcycle at about 7:45 P.M. when it rained hard, forcing them to take shelter at a sari-sari store.

Two armed men suddenly appeared, threatened the victims and took away their bags and motorycle. ###



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