Volume 16 / No. 11   |   June 15, 2016
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
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DU30 names Ecijano as DAR chief

Rafael Mariano

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte has tapped Novo Ecijano activist-farmer Rafael Mariano as the new secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The 59 year old Mariano -- Ka Paeng to his friends and colleagues -- comes from a poor family of farmers in Quezon, Nueva Ecija. He studied Bachelor of Arts in Agricultural Cooperative at Wesleyan University-Philippines in Cabanatuan City but was forced to drop out when his father got sick and he had to take over the family farm.

He joined a local youth organization called Bisig ng Bayan and became active in organizing fellow farmers. He was elected vice chair of Alyansang Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, a regional farmer organization. He became secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in 1987. He later affirmed that the movement  should continue to rely on its collective action and not collaborate with the government in implementing what they perceived as a fake agrarian reform program.

Now, he is the chair of KMP and president of Anakpawis Party-list.

Anakpawis was formed in 2002 to represent workers and farmers in government. In the 2004 elections,it won two seats in Congress and Mariano became the first farmer ever to become a legislator.

He pushed for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill that aims to distribute land to farmer-beneficiaries for free and provide them with adequate agricultural assistance. He authored and co-authored 377 bills and 966 resolutions during his three terms in the Lower House.

At the end of his term in 2012, he remained the poorest congressman without any record of corruption in his nine years of service. ###

COA 2015 audit report: N. Ecija's projected cash deficit totals P139.99M

The Commission on Audit (COA) warned that the Nueva Ecija provincial government would not be able to meet its expenses and obligations after it incurred a projected cash deficit of about P133.99 million.

In its observations and findings in the 2015 Annual Audit Report of the Province of Nueva Ecija released last June 7, COA noted that the province had P434.76 million in available cash during the budget year but incurred P177.226 million in trust liabilities that include remittances of tax withheld to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and employee contributions to Government Service Insurance System, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth.

Despite the cash balance of P257.531 million, COA said the provincial government had P393.866 million in additional obligations. Among these are P202.533 million in accounts payable, P133.593 million in unobligated calamity funds, P57.74 million in unused Development Fund balance and P3.656 million in deferred credit.        

COA also said the cash deficit forecast meant that its trust fund had been used for unintended purposes in violation of Section 305 (e) of the Local Government Code of 1991 that says such funds can only be spent for their intended specific purposes.  

COA also noted the failure of the provincial government to remit to other local government units their share of the taxes on sand, gravel and other other resources totaling P20.966 million.

The commission also cited the P35.616 million in unremitted government personnel contributions to GSIS partly incurred by the previous administration that may prevent provincial employees from getting loans and other benefits and warned the provincial government of its failure to remit withholding taxes to the BIR with the unpaid dues totaling P63.405 million as of the end of the year.###

P-Noy: Transfer of Bilibid Prisons to N. Ecija unsure

President Benigno Aquino III is unsure about the transfer of the New Bilibid Prisons to a new P50.2 billion facility to be constructed in Nueva Ecija.

The President, during his visit to Cabanatuan City recently to inaugurate  solar farm, said he fears he might be accused of entering into a midnight deal if he approves the public-private partnership project during his remaining days in office.

He said he discovered that documentation for the project would be finalized on June 29, one day before his term ends

“I will step down from office at  noon  of  June 30. Of course, there will be some questions that the project might be a  midnight  deal,” he said.

The President said Novo Ecijanos have already anticipated the project which is expected to create at least 53,800 jobs.

The new prison facility is to be established in a 500-hectare area of Fort Magsaysay in Barangay Nazareth, General Tinio. It will have a maximum capacity of 26,000 inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons and 2,000 from the Correctional Institute for Women.

The contract for the project was supposed to have been signed last April 2015, with the start of the three-year construction scheduled for October 2015. ###

N.E. police officials reshuffled

Fifteen chiefs of police in Nueva Ecija were affected by the reshuffle announced by Sr. Supt. Manuel Cornel, provincial police director, last June 1.

He said the changes aimed to make the "Lambat Bitag" anti-crime campaign more effective, after watching incoming President Rodrigo Duterte's televised press conference last May 31.

Cornel said he began implementing his plan immediately after the May 9 elections. This involves replacing overstaying police chiefs and reshuffling the others to improve priorities and security initiatives.

Among those affected by the reshuffle were Supt. Noli Asuncion of San Jose City who was replaced by Supt., Reynaldo dela Cruz, his classmate at Philippine National Police Academy; Supt. Ponciano Zafra, replaced by Supt. Manuel Hidalgo; and Supt. Lendro Novilla who was transferred from Palayan City to Talavera.

Other police stations affected by the changes are those in Lupao, Pantabangan, Santo Domingo, Laur, Santa Rosa, Aliaga, Peñaranda, General Tinio, Jaen, San Antonio and.Gapan City.

Six members of Cornel's staff were also transferred.

The chiefs of police who were relieved but were not given new assignments were ordered to report to the provincial police office. ###

PhilRice identifies 6 flood-resistant rice varieties

The Muñoz-based Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has identified six varieties of rice that can last up to two weeks submerged in flood water during the rainy season.

Dr. Novie Manigbas, head of the Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division, named the flood-tolerant rice varieties as PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9, Rc222, PSB Rc18 and NSIC Rc194.    

He said PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9 and Rc222 grow to maximum height of 100 centimeters, with strong stems that can resist winds from 40 to 60 kilometers per hour. 

Manigbas said rain-fed farms are prone to flooding and the varieties recommended for planting are PSB Rc18 (Ala), which can withstand five to seven days of complete submergence; NSIC Rc194 (Submarino 1), which can survive, grow and develop even after 10 to 14 days of complete submergence; and PSB Rc68 (Sacobia), a variety able to withstand both flood and drought.

The phenomenal thing about the new rice varieties, he said, is that when submerged during the vegetative stage, they can recover and still produce maximum yield. ###

Pantabangan experiences power cut off

Pantabangan, site of a major hydroelectric facility, has been experiencing a power blackout since May 30.

Mayor-elect Roberto Agdipa said the town's power supply was disconnected by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines for the unpaid obligations of the power utility distributor, Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (PAMES).

PAMES gets its power supply from First Gen Hydro Power Corp., operator of the 112-Megawatt Pantabangan-Masiway hydroelectric plant, and distributes it to 14 barangays,.

Agdipa said the power blackout has also affected the town's water system, forcing them to get potable water from nearby towns through commercial suppliers.

Incoming Sangguniang Bayan Member Bienvenido Reyes said there is enough money to pay PAMES' obligations but the town's leadership crisis has compounded the problem.

He said the town has two mayors. Outgoing Mayor Lucio Uera had been suspended by the Ombudsman and replaced by outgoing Vice Mayor Ruben Huera as ordered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, but Uera was able to get an order from a regional trial court allowing him to retain his position.

As a result, the town's depository bank is confused as to the real mayor and is unable to release any amount requested by either of the two sitting mayors.

Agdipa said the problem will be fixed when he assumes the post of mayor on July 1. ###

Veloso family asks for Duterte's help

The family of Mary Jane Veloso, the Novo Ecijana sentenced to death in Indonesia, is calling on incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to act for her  speedy release.

Celia, Veloso's mother, said “We know his strong sentiments against drugs. We also know that he is fully informed of Mary Jane’s innocence. I know he will help her.”

Mary Jane was arrested in Jogjakarta, Indonesia in 2010 for allegedly carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. Her family insists that she was  victim of human trafficking and the death sentence imposed on her was due to lack of legal assistance from the Philippine government.

On April 29 last year, Mary Jane was the only death convict spared when Indonesia executed several persons convicted of drug-related cases, following a world-wide campaign to save her.

The cases of human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa against Mary Jane's recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, continue to be heard at the Santo Domingo Regional Trial Court in Nueva Ecija. ###

Drug suspect found dead in Cabanatuan

The body of a top suspect in the illegal drug trade in Cabanatuan City was found in a vacant lot in Barangay Aduas Centro at about 6:30 A.M. last June 16.

The victim, Jimbo Ponce, had a deep cut in the neck with his hands tied with electric wire and his feet, with packaging tape.

Sr. Supt. Manuel Cornel, provincial  police director, said Ponce was Number 21 in the police list of drug priority targets.###

Drug suspect shot dead in San Isidro

A 40-yewar old drug personality was shot dead while driving a motorcycle with his brother last June 9.

The victim was identified as Nestor Reyes, jobless, of Barangay San Roque. He was hit twice in the body, killing him instantly.

The attack happened along the Gapan-Olongapo Road in Purok 4, Barangay Malapit at 4:50 A.M.

Investigators said the victim was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with his brother, Lorenzo, on their way to Gapan City when they heard two gunshots.

Loreno first thought that their tire had burst when their motorcycle skidded but he later discovered that his brother had been shot.

Investigators are looking at illegal drugs as the motive for the shooting as the victim is  in the police watch list as pusher/user. ###

2 suspected drug pushers killed in Cabiao, San Antonio

Two suspected drug pushers were killed separately in Cabiao and San Antonio last June 14.

In Cabio, Efren Damian, 60, was in his sari-sari store when fired upon at around 9:00 P.M. He died instantly while his girlfriend, Angeline Dar, 20, was hit in the arm.

In San Antonio, Antonio Reyes, Jr. was shot and killed by an unknown gunman as he sat on a bench by the side of the road. ###

8 drug pushers arrested, 20 grams of shabu seized

Elements of the Drug Enforcement Unit of tge Nueva Ecia police arrested eight drug pushers in separate operations in San Jose City and Santa Rosa last June 2.

Supt. Reynaldo dela Cruz, new San Jose City police chief, identified one suspect as Michael Bunag, 36, of Bacal 2, Talavera. Her was arrested after selling drugs to a police agent posing as buyer.

Seized from the suspect were four plastic sachets of shabu weighing 15 grams with en estimated street value of P35,000.

In Santa Rosa, a man said to be among the Top 10 drug personalities in the town, was arrested in a buy-bust operation.

Seized from the suspect, Michael Livingstone, 30, of Barangay Soledad, were 12 plastic sachets of suspected shabu.weighing 4 grams.

Other illegal drug peddlers arrested during the operations were Marcelino Verdillo, also of Santa. Rosa; Emiterio Perez and Aldrin Cadael, both of Jaen; Crispin Santos of Gapan City; Mildred Manio of Cabanatuan City; and Francia Hinco of Malabon City. ###.

Talavera drug suspect killed

A female drug suspect and her brother-in-law were shot and killed in Talavera last June 10.

The victims were identified as Sheryl Santos, 31, who died on the spot, and Pedro Santos, 45, who died while being treated in a hospital.

Police investigators said the woman and her three children were in a tricycle driven by her brother-in-law when a red car without plates blocked them.

The gunmen ordered the victims to lie prone on the ground and then shot them in the head.

Sheryl was in the drug watch list of the Talavera police. ###

Fake cops arrested

The San Jose City police arrested a couple who pretended to be policemen and tried to extort P30,000 from a woman in exchange for the release of her husband detained for possession of illegal drugs and gun.

Sr. Supt. Manuel Cornel, provincial police director, identified the fake cops as live-in partners Oliver Sauro, 39, and Dianna delos Santos, 32, vendors, of Zone 4, Barangay Santo Niño 1st, San Jose City.

The two were arrested by joint operatives of the Provincial Intelligence Branch and the city police after a complaint for extortion was filed by Jennifer Logmao, 46, government employee, of Zone 1, Barangay Baloc, Santo Domingo.

Logmao said that after her husband was arrested, she received a text message from somebody who introduced himself as SPO4 Mendoza, allegedly one of her husband's arresting officers.

She said the man demanded P30,000 for the release of her husband.

Logmao sent P8,000 to the suspect as advanced payment, remitted through Smart Money Remittance Center in Talavera.

Police later learned that the money was received at Fone Kingdom, a Smart Money Remittance outlet at Tierra Building, Barangay Rafael Rueda, Sr..

Cornel ordered an entrapment after the suspect sent another text message demanding another P5,000.

Logmao remitted only P200 and forwarded the tracking number to the unwary  suspects.

When arrested, the couple yielded the remitted P200 and their mobile phone containing the remittance transaction and exchange of text messages with the victim.

Charges of robbery-extortion and usurpation of authority were filed against the couple. ###

FB post results in arrest of carnapping leader

A Facebook post looking for buyers of second-hand cars resulted in the arrest of the alleged leader of the "Oliver Vargas Carnapping Group" operating in the province.

The suspect, Oliver Bagan Vargas alias Ver, 35, of Barangay Ganaderia, Palayan City was arrested in a hotel room near the Cabanatuan City Central Terminal in Barangay M.S Garcia last May 31.

Vargas, together with his accomplice, Diosdado Sarmienta, Jr., stole unattended vehicles by using pick locks and other tools.

Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Police Regional Office 3 acting director, said they had been monitoring Vargas' whereabouts through his Facebook posts where he was seen with different luxury vehicles.

The suspect was arrested after a series of investigations and follow-up operations by joint  operatives of PNP-Highway Patrol Group 3 (HPG3) Nueva Ecija led by Senior Inspector Renato L. Tabilisma, deputy team leader, and the General Natividad and Bongabon municipal police stations. ###

Taiwanese man killed in Rizal robbery

A 60-year old Taiwanese national was stabbed dead while his wife was hurt in a foiled robbery in their home in Barangay Macapsing, Rizal last June 4.

The suspect, a 15 year old boy, stabbed businessman Pai Chi Fu in the chest with a kitchen knife when the Taiwanese tried to stop the intruder from attacking his wife Erlinda Cheng, 58.

Investigators said Cheng discovered the suspect in the bathroom at 1:00 P.M. when she and her husband arrived home, and was stabbed several times.

She is being treated at a hospital in Cabanatuan City.

Her husband was declared dead on arrival at the Bongabon District Hospital. ###

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