Volume 15 / No. 12                                                                                                               June 30, 2015
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
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Pantabangan mayoralty row results in non-payment of salaries, blackout

The issue of who between Lucio Uera and Ruben Huerta is the true mayor Pantabangan has affected about 200 municipal employees who were unable to draw their salaries and midyear bonuses and a power outage that affected some 100 households.

The Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Uera last March for grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority. Following this, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) installed the vice mayor, Huerta, as mayor to serve the unexpired term of Uera.

On March 24, the Court of Appeals (CA) acted on Uera's urgent motion and issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to maintain the status quo ante for 60 days.

When the TRO expired last May 24, Uera stayed in office while Huerta started to discharge the duties of mayor.

Municipal employees have not received their salaries, including mid-year bonuses, since May. Uera blamed the Philippine National Bank for recognizing the signature of an accountant appointed by Huerta.

Uera said asking the accountant to sign the payroll check, would be an admission that Huerta is the mayor.

Municipal Treasurer Elvira Gonzales cancelled a P7.3 million check signed by Huerta and issued to the town cashier.

Meanwhile, residents of Poblacion East had to endure a power blackout when a transformer that exploded last June 18 could not be repaired. The town's electricity provider, Pantabangan Municipal Electric System, is operated by the local government unit.

A resident said the confusion over who should sign the check for the purchase of a replacement transformer could be the reason for the delay in restoring power.

In a flag-raising ceremony last June 22, Huerta said he would continue acting as mayor until the DILG implements the ruling of the CA. ###

Farmers text PhilRice to learn new agri technologies

Farmers now use texting to learn new agricultural  technologies.

Dr. Roman Zagado, development coordinator of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) central experimental station in the Science City of Muñoz, said farmers have become tech-savvy and access agricultural information through texting.

Among the information disseminated to farmers who text the PhilRice Text Center at 0920-911-1398 are farm advisories, technology updates, market information, tips and other farm insights.

Zagado said the most frequently asked question is about the rice variety that should be grown for a particular planting season.

He said in 2006 when they began the texting project, they received only 11 messages. In 2010, the number ballooned to 100,000 and now they have lost count of the text queries.

He said the information from texting helps farmers get additional income. A PhilRice study showed farmers who used texting to get agricultural information realized an average of P38,730 additional income in 2011.

Zagado's study entitled "Human Agency, Power and Discourse: Accomplishing Farm Work tghough Short Messaging Service (SMS) in the Philippines" received the Thesis Excellence Award at the University of Adelaide in Australia. ###

Palayan farmers seek PNoy's help to prevent eviction by Army

A total of 200 farmers from different barangays in Palayan City have asked President Benigno Aquino III to stop the Philippine Army from taking over a 200-hectare farm that their families have been tilling for generations.

During a forum last June 25,  one of the affected farmers, Paulo Bautista, 78, showed receipts proving that his father had been paying taxes since 1937 for a piece of land in the former Bongabon stock farm.

He said the Army, by taking over their farms in Barangays Caballero and Ganaderia for conversion into a housing area for soldiers, seems to be working against the rice sufficiency program of the administration.

Earlier, a group of 14 farmers went to the Court of Appeals to challenge the decision of Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla of Palayan City Regional Trial Court Branch 40 ordering them to leave the area..

The group consisted of Julius Bautista, Carmelita Manayan, Rufino Flores, Garvacio Aregando and Arsenio Laranang of Barangay Caballero; Florentina Juan, Bienvenido Baldemor, Elizalde Estigoy, Julio Diaz, Wenceslao Bautista, Carmelita Valmote, Jose Ginnodela Merced, Dalisay Gadian and Gideon Acosta

They sued the outgong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Lt. Col. Benito Doniego Jr. and Lt. Col. Alfredo Patarata, claiming that the AFP, through Army soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay, entered their farms in March 2013 without any authority from the Department of Agrarian Reform and the courts. They accused the military of resorting to  “stealth, strategy, force, threat and intimidation” to occupy their farms.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the contested farms, a titled property of the Palayan City government, is a patrimonial property registered in the name of the Philippine government.

Catapang, on the other hand, said the farms form a part of the Fort Magsaysay military reservation created by President Ramon Magsaysay in 1955 through Presidential Proclamation No. 237. ###

'Taong Putik Festival' proposed as int'l pigrimage destination

Organizers of the "Taong Putik Festival" in Barangay Bibiclat, Aliaga are pushing for the declaration of the place as an international pilgrimage destination.

Mel Malang of Bibiclat's Saint John Parish said the festival has been drawing local and foreign tourists and devotees and more people join the Mass and the procession every year.

Board Member Joseph Ortiz wants to push it further -- have the Guinness World Records recognize the festival for having the most number of people bathed in mud.

He said the festival has enhanced the image of Aliaga as a tourist spot.

The church of Bibiclat has been declared a diocesan shrine by the Diocese of Cabanatuan.

It was noted that fewer devotees joined the festival this year compared to last year.

The youngest participant was a three year old child while the oldest was a centenarian woman. ###

Click-right on a photo and choose "View Image" for a larger view:

[AP photos by  Bullit Marquez]

Proposed Rizal hydro plant to supply power to parts of NE

PNOC Renewable Corp.(PNOC RC), the renewable energy arm of Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has sought the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to supply electricity to parts of Nueva Ecija from a one-Megawatt hydroelectric plant to be built in Rizal town.

PNOC RC and Nueva Ecija II Area II Electric Cooperative (NEECOII-Area II) are seeking the ERC's approval for their power supply agreement.

The Rizal hydroelectric facility is expected to increase the percentage of households provided with electricity and increase the level of energy self-sufficiency.

The project will tap the flow of water from the main canal of the Pampanga River Irrigation System located downstream from Rizal Dam.

PNOC RC will sell the electricity produced to NEECO II-Area 2 under an eight-year agreement effective upon the start of the project's commercial operation.

The proposed basic energy rate is P4 per kilowatt-hour covering a capital recovery fee of P2.38 per kilowatt/hour; fixed operation and maintenance costs of P1.04 per kilowatt/hour; and variable operations and maintenance costs of P0.58 per kilowatt/hour.

NEECO II-Area 2 covers the towns of Santa Rosa, San Leonardo, Peñaranda, General Tinio, Rizal, Bongabon, Laur, Gabaldon, Llanera and General Natividad, and Palayan City. ###

Army, UST group build Bongabon school building

Soldiers from the Army's 7th Infantry Division and 703rd Brigade and a school organization completed the construction of a single-classroom building in Barangay Ariendo, Bongabon.

Col. Felimon Santos, Jr., commander of the 703rd Brigade, said the Thomasian Youth Builders of the College of Accountancy of the University of Santo Tomas provided the construction materials while the Army's 522nd Engineer Construction Battalion and 56th Infantry Battalion and volunteer workers from the barangay provided the equipment and manpower.

In line with the Army's Internal Peace Security Plan Bayanihan, the project was completed on the target date.

A medical and dental mission was also held to help the barangay residents. ###

ASKI's spring water system project recognized in German confab

Receiving the Certificate of Merit from Mayor Gabriele Luczak-Schwarz are
Erwin Embuscado (left), ASKI corporate communications head and Dexter Ong, acting ASKI regional manager.

A spring water system project for indigenous peoples by the Nueva Ecija-based non-government organization Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI) was recognized in the 2015 Global Sustainable Finance Award in Karlsruhe, Germany, recently.

The awarding ceremony was a highlight of the Global Sustainable Finance Conference.

ASKI received a Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Sustainable Project Financing for the success of the spring water system development project aimed at providing safe drinking water to indigenous communities in Palale, General Tinio.

The project benefits more than 2,000 Igorots from different tribes such as Applai from the Mountain Province, Bago from the Ilocos Region, Ifugao, Kankana-ey and Ibaloi.

According to the organizers, ASKI was recognized for its success in long-term financing of exemplary industrial/commercial or infrastructure projects that benefit local communities, protect the environment and ensure reliable returns to investors and lenders.

The awarding was sponsored by the City of Karlsruhe, dubbed as the Green City, and co-presented by the European Organization for Sustainable Development (EOSD) and the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP).

Aside from ASKI, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines also received recognition for their respective projects. ###

BIR raids Talavera establishments selling illegal cigarettes

Bureu of Internal Revenue (BIR) agents raided establishments in Talavera allegedly selling cigarettes without the required internal revenue stamps.

The team was headed by Assistant Commissioner Nestor S. Valeroso of the Large Taxpayers Service and Executive Assistant Teresita M. Angeles of the Excise Tax Division.

Three teams checked stores at the public market to validate the confidential information received by the BIR about the sale of illegal cigarettes and check the authenticity of new BIR stamps on the products.

The teams discovered the sale of imported brands such as RGD, D&B and Farstar that have not been registered with the BIR for distribution and sale in the country.

The illegal cigarettes were confiscated and the stores issued apprehension slips.

The erring establishments face administrative penalties and criminal charges. ###

P42,000 honoraria for Talugtog barangay officials lost to 'salisi gang'

A woman who withdrew P43,386 from a Land Bank of the Philippines branch in Guimba, intended for the honoraria of Talugtog barangay officials, lost the amount to suspected members of a "salisi gang".

Supt. Bernie Orig, Guimba police chief, said the victim, Majalilia Bagtas of Barangay Santa Catalina, Talugtog, discovered the loss of the money when she returned home.

The money was for the honoraria of Barangay Santa Catalina officials led by Chair Reden Ireneo.

Ong said the victim, accompanied by Ireneo, left the bank at noon on board a barangay service tricycle.

Upon discovering of the loss, the two returned to the bank at 3:45 P.M. but were not allowed to enter because the bank was already closed.

After reviewing the bank's CCTV video, Orig said it was discovered that the woman was victimized by "salisi gang" members composed of three women, with one accompanied by a child.

The suspects surrounded the victim while one of them picked the money from the victim's bag and passed it on to a cohort.

Orig said the child accompanying the suspects was used as a distraction. ###

Female carnapper arrested in Peñaranda

A suspected female carnapper was arrested during an "Oplan Lambat-Sibat" operation in Peñaranda last June 21.

Chief Insp. Ariel Romasanta, town police chief, identified the suspect as Charissa Lacuna, 25, single, of Barangay San Josef, tagged as at the top of the Oplan Lambat-Sibat priority list and the town's Number 4 most wanted person.

Policemen led by PO! Jeffrey Pineda arrested Lacuna based on a warrant of arrest for carnapping issued by Presiding Judge Celso Baguio of Regional Trial Court Branch 87 of Gapan City, with a recommended bail of P180,000. ###

Marine, accomplice nabbed for arson

A member of the Philippine Marines and his accomplice were arrested after allegedly burning a house in San Jose City formerly rented by a sister who had a grudge with the landlord.

Supt. Manuel Hidalgo, chief of police, identified the suspects as Roel Sarucam, Marine solider, 26, single, of Zone 1, Ayala, Zamboanga, and Cerelo Sarucam, 32, married, of Sitio Sinanggu-yan, Don Carlos, Bukidnon.

They were arrested inside the Sinagtala Hotel in Barangay F. R. Marcos, three hours after allegedly setting on fire the house owned by the couple Ernesto and Zenaida Macugay in Zone 2, Barangay Tondod  at 2:20 A.M.last June 18.

Police were able to trace the suspects after an attendant at a Petron gasoline station confirmed that a six-liter plastic container of gasoline was found at the fire scene came from them. Also recovered at the fire site were a deformed plastic container of gasoline.and  three Molotov bombs wrapped in a plastic bag marked "CNC Shopping Center, Poblacion, Don Carlos, Bukidnon.".

Hidalgo said the two cased the house for five days aboard a motorcycle, looking for the right opportunity to burn it.

He said the suspect's sister,m Maricris Gabuyo ,formerly rented the house a year ago. She bore a grudge against the house owner because of a land dispute and after charges of frustrated murder were filed against her.

The suspects were charged with arson at the City Prosecutor's Office. ###

Plot to kill Ecija trader foiled

A plan to kill a Nueva Ecija-based businessman was thwarted when five members of a gun-for-hire gang were arrested by the Dagupan City police.

The target was identified as Alvin Talplacido, a Novo Ecijano trader.

The arrested suspects were Rodericl Orjalo, 26; Lawrence Orjalo, 36; Bernie dela Cruz, 36; Jojo Lacayan,32; and Joynel Jamin, 33.

The two Orjalos, riding a motorcycle in tandem, fired at Talplacido while he was in the middle of a business transaction in Dagupan City. The shot missed him.

The suspects were arrested by patrolling policemen. Seized from them were a caliber .45 pistol, sachets of suspected shabu and a photo of Talplacido.

Follow up operations resulted in the arrest of dela Cruz and Lacayan, said to be the middleman and mastermind. They yielded two hand grenades, a caliber .38 revolver, a caliber .22 handgun, ammunition and drugs.

Jamin, who was also allegedly involved in the planning, was arrested in another operation. ###

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