Volume14 / No. 12                                                                                                                 June 30, 2014
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Antonino mulls suit for link to pork barrel issue

Former Forth District Rep. Rodolfo Antonino denied having certified a list of farmers who allegedly benefited from a P15 million livelihood project in his district in 2007.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, he explained that during an audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) wrote to him to certify the correctness of a list of project beneficiaries that received 7,275 livelihood kits distributed in Gapan City and in the towns of San Isidro, General Tinio, Cabiao, Jaen, Peñaranda and San Leonardo.

He said the signature on the list was not his.

"I wrote them on February 28 and I said categorically that my signatures were forged and I asked COA for help because forgery of signatures is a crime," Antonino said.

He said COA no longer replied afterwards and questioned why the agency did not raise the issue in an exit conference which is a part of the audit process.

Antonino said he usually allocated his Priority Development Assistance Fund to the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (KALAHI-CIDDS) project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He questioned the decision of the Ombudsman to file malversation case against him and several other persons. He said he could have explained the matter beforehand.

"Para bang yung proseso ay hindi kami binibigyan ng pagkakataon para malinaw yan in the soonest possible time," he said.

He said he is thinking of filing charges for damaging his reputation.

"This is a name to be protected that I inherited from my father and mother who were senators in the 60s with Ninoy Aquino. For them, to just come out to make pogi points...why issue a press release when there is still a preliminary investigation," he said.

Antonino is the son of Gaudencio Antonino, senator from 1961 to 1967, and Magnolia Welborn-Antonino, senator from 1969 to 1972. ###

San Jose bishop issues pastoral letter on CARP

Bishop Roberto Mallari of the Diocese of San Jose called on the faithful to act as the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is due to end this month.

In a pastoral letter read in all churches of the diocese that covers the northern half of Nueva Ecija, Mallari said that though billions of pesos have been spent on CARP, the job remains unfinished and must continue.

“I call on everyone to pray collectively to open the heart of those in government to do something to help (the helpless) whose only hope is God,” Mallari said.

He citred the 6,000 hectares of farm lands in Guimba, Cuyapo and Nampicuan and 1,200 hectares in Carranglan that still face distribution problems.

He recalled how the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called on the government to extend the implementation of CARP but to no avail. He also mentioned how lawmakers ignored the many groups pushing for the passage in Congress of the Agrarian Reform Bill calling for the distribution of lands to the landless for free.

“If the government and the lawmakers are blind on the calls to help the poor, who then can they rely on? When will they give importance to the call to help the poor especially the farmers?” the bishop asked.

The bishop called on the faithful to coordinate with the Social Action Commission of the diocese for appropriate actions that must be done to help those "who now rely on help only from God". ###

Aliaga stages 2014 Taong Putik Festival

National and international media descended on Barangay Bibiclat, Aliaga last June 24 for this year's staging of 'Taong Putik Festival'.

The fiesta, held in honor of Saint John the Baptist, features hundreds of devotees clad in costumes meant to approximate those of the patron saint -- banana leaves and vines, smeared with mud. At dawn, the participants went around the barangay asking for candles and alms, then converged in the church plaza for the Holy Mass and blessing officiated by the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Carlos Padilla.

[Photos courtesy of Manila Bulletin and Manila Times.]

WUP Nurse Licensure Exam passer lands in Top 10

An alumnus of the Wesleyan University-Philippines (WUP) College of Nursing made it to the list of Top 10 passers of the Nurse Licensure Examination given by the Professional Regulation Commission last May.

Camille R. Cruz landed in the 10th place, the only one from a school in  Nueva Ecija.

Among local schools, WUP also registered the highest passing rate at 41.73%; followed by Araullo University-PHINMA, 39.53%; Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, 37.41%; M.V. Gallego Foundation Colleges, 27.78%; Nueva Ecija Colleges, 18.92%; and Dr. Gloria D. Lacson Foundation Colleges, 9.30%. ###

Rice millers: More rice price hikes

Nueva Ecija rice millers said consumers should be ready for more increases in the price of rice, especially during the lean months.

Edgardo Alfonso, president of the San Jose City Rice Millers Association, said they bought dried palay at P25 per kilo and P20 to P21 per nkilo for fresh harvest. He said they cannot be expected to sell well-milled rice at lower than P38 a kilo.

He said rice millers deliver their products to wholesalers, who then pass them down to retailers who also need to earn by increasing their prices.

“We agree that there is a thin supply of rice in the market due to the unattained target (in the government's) rice self-sufficiency program and that’s why the government imported rice. But we don’t see that the price of commercial rice can be pushed down as that would mean losses for those engaged in the grains business,” he said.

He said the millers’ association supplies wholesalers in Metro Manila, Cebu province and Southern Tagalog provinces with at least 30,000 bags of  rice daily. They price their commodity without the influence of any group or individual, he said. 

Alfonso questioned the Department of Agriculture's move of allowing rice millers and traders to offer very high farm gate prices. He said the agency should have intervened.

"It was okay that farmers earned much, but how about the consumers now? They are crying because of the high price of milled rice,” he said. 

He said the government should consult with leaders of the rice industry to draw up proper strategies to handle the situation. ###

Rice hull prices go up

Rice hull -- ipa -- a by-product of rice milling, now commands high prices.

The waste material once posed a major environmental problem as they were simply dumped and burned anywhere, even on roadsides.

Edgardo Alfonso, president of the San Jose Rice Millers Association, said rice hull has become an expensive commodity because it is used by cement manufacturers.

He said the material, also used to run electric power plants, now sells for 80 centavos up to P1 a kilo.

Alfonso, chief operating officer of San Jose I Power Corporation, said his company will soon buy rice hull at P1 per kilo from the 26 rice millers in San Jose City once the power plant becomes operational in the last quarter of the year.

He said the plant will be using 100,000 to 120,000 metric tons of rice hull every year -- about 70 percent of the annual volume produced in the city.

He said his company plans to build another power plant and will buy the needed rice hull even from  neighboring towns.

Meanwhile, a similar rice-hull-powered plant that can generate 12 megawatts of electricity is being built in Talavera, with the rice hull coming from a big local rice mill. ###

77 nabbed in Gapan shabu 'tiangge'

Authorities arrested 77 persons during a raid on an alleged shabu tiangge in Gapan City at 5:00 P.M. last June 28.

Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said the shabu market was located at Sitio Riverside, Barangay San Vicente.

The raiding team was composed of elements from the Gapan City police under Supt. Diosdado Iniego, Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Chief Insp. Roger Sebastian, Provincial Intelligence Branch, 3rd Regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Provincial and Regional Public Safety Battalions and the Provincial Task Force on Operation Shabu Tiangge.

The raid was done based on four search warrants issued by Palayan City Regional Trial Court Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla.

Among the items seized during the raid were a caliber .38 revolver with four bullets, shabu paraphernalia and an undetermined amount of the illegal drug.

Those named in the search warrants were Glen Garcia; Michael Manalastas, who was included in the target list for neutralization by the PDEA-Region 2; Andrew Garcia alias “Bona”; and Emilito Palad alias “Milet”. They all eluded arrest.

May Andres, Palad's alleged live-in partner, suspected drug user Rafael Malang and 75 others were brought to the Gapan City Police Station for processing. ###

2 die in Jaen vehicular accident

Two siblings were killed when a car crashed into an oil tanker in Barangay Santo Tomas, Jaen.

The victims were identified as Aries dela  Cruz, 28, and his sister Arlene, 31, eight months pregnant.

Their two companions survived.

Investigation showed that the siblings were on their way home to Jaen from Pampanga when their car tried to overtake another vehicle and collided with the oncoming oil tanker.

The tanker driver claimed that the car was was running fast. ###

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