Volume14 / No. 14                                                                                                              JULY 31, 2014
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PNoy names Umali RPOC chair

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Governor Aurelio Umali as the new chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC).

“Your role as RPOC Chair of Region III is very significant in the light of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police’s efforts to keep the streets of Central Luzon free from crime and lawlessness.5 Ensuring peace and order and public safety is a common goal that we share, and we look forward to a fruitful and productive partnership with you as we continue to keep the communities of Central Luzon safe and sound,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas told Umali in a message read by DILG Region3 Director Florida Dijan.

Chief Supt. Raul Delfin Petrasanta, police Central Luzon director, was appointed as vice chair of the council.

The RPOC is responsible for the orchestration of internal security operations efforts of civil authorities, agencies, military, and police at the sub-national level.

It is made up of all provincial governors, mayors of highly urbanized cities, chapter presidents of municipal mayor’s league, regional directors of national government agencies, a representative from the mayors of component cities, infantry division commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the area, and three representatives from the private sector. ###

Umali dares PDEA to name officials linked to illegal drugs

Governor Aurelio Umali challenged the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to identify government officials and policemen involved in the operations of illegal drug syndicates in Nueva Ecija.

This was after PDEA Regional Director Jeoffrey Tacio reported on the illegal drug situation in the province during a meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council at the Old Capitol Building in Cabanatuan City.

“You need to name names. Identify the biggest drug pusher. And are there public officials and policemen involved? And is there any clandestine laboratory in Nueva Ecija?” Umali said.

Participants in the meeting were representatives of various government agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Governments, Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, and the Department of Justice, including DILG Region 3 Director Florida Dijan, DILG Assistant Director and concurrent Provincial Director Abraham Pascua, Army Col. Felimon Santos of the 703rd Brigade and Police Deputy Provincial Director for Operations Bernie Ong.

Tacio reported that PDEA had launched 233 anti-illegal drug operations resulting in the arrest of 322 suspects and confiscation of 532 grams of shabu and 9.55 kilograms of marijuana. 

Tacio said Cabanatuan  City has the most number of barangays affected by illegal drugs, totaling 13, followed by Santa Rosa, San Jose City and Santo Domingo.

Umali said that while PDEA has been doing its job, it would be better for the public if the agency would identify the biggest drug pushers. ###

Ecija identified as one of most disaster-prepared provinces

Nueva Ecija is one of the most disaster-prepared provinces in the country.

This was the assessment of Dr. Abraham Pascua, assistant regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Governments, concurrent provincial director and co-chair of the Provincial Risk Disaster Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC).

Pascua and Governor Aurelio Umali gave an update on the province's disaster preparedness in a recent meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council at the Old Capitol Building.

Pascua said they have many equipment on hand that can be used when disaster strikes.

He said rubber boats had been replaced with fiberglass ones for durability in passing through floods with floating debris.

He praised Nueva Ecija as one of only two provinces with a water treatment truck for deployment in isolated communities. The other is Albay.

He said a 15-member group for every town and city is being planned as PDRRMC's quick response team.

For his part, Umali said the province avoided calamities by the release of water from Pantabangan Dam and other irrigation systems before the arrival of a typhoon as in the case of Ondoy where there was zero casualty.

He said he appointed Pascua as co-chair because he wants the DILG to become the province's conduit in disaster mitigation.

He said the Nueva Ecija received a P203.2 grant from the Spanish government in 2011 in recognition of the province's disaster preparedness plan.

Pascua said the plan also involves pre-positioning of evacuation centers and relief goods in five command posts and four advanced command posts in strategic areas.

He pointed out that the disaster mitigation efforts in the province is unique in that it also factors in the water release from Pantabangan Dam. ###

Water summit vs. El Niño

Governor Aurelio Umali has scheduled a water summit of national and local government units to prepare Nueva Ecija for El Niño.

He said the talks aimed at formulating an action plan against a prolonged dry spell will be participated in by the Department of Agriculture, National Irrigation Administration, water districts, local government units and farmers' and irrigators' association representatives.

He said the farmers are included in the  consultation because they will be the ones most heavily affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Umali said the water level at Pantabangan Dam was recorded at 179.05 meters above sea level last week.

The National Irrigation Administration said it will take only 22 days of zero rainfall for the dam's water level to drop to the critical 172 meters above sea level.

Umali said P1 million was released by the provincial government for an initial cloud-seeding, aside from the financial support pledged by First Gen. Corp. and other private entities.

He said the summit will also look for other sources of irrigation water to lessen the dependence on Pantabangan Dam. ###

Cabanatuan learns from lessons of 1990 quake

The lessons learned from the July 16, 1990 earthquake that flattened the Christian College of the Philippines and trapped over 300 students, teachers and other school personnel has prompted Cabanatuan City officials to prepare for a similar event or other natural tragedies.

Eugene Mintu, coordinator of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara formed the Cabanatuan Emergency Search and Rescue Team as far back as 2004.

"He hired people, trained them and equipped them with the expertise to carry out exigencies attendant to such a big tragedy," he said.

For the CDRRMO, Vergara hired, on a permanent basis, people ready to respond to disasters round-the-clock.

Mintu said the mayor provided funds for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment needed for search, rescue, retrieval and relief operations.

Officer-in-charge of the office is Ronnie Punzal.

The office, soon to become a regular department under the Office of the City Mayor, conducts training on incident command system, integrated planning, camp management, basic life support, standard first aid, ambulance operation, water safety and boat management, water search and rescue and other aspects of disaster response.

"We now have lifting bags that can move 85 tons of debris, hydraulic equipment, forcible entry tools, medical equipment, automated external defibrillator, scoop stretchers, spine boards, communication equipment, a number of rubber and plastic boats and ambulances, and others,” Mintu said.

The city government has also constructed a gym-type evacuation center near the city hall and a building as permanent office of the CDRRMO.

Ambulance-type vehicles were purchased and distributed to each of the city's 89 barangays for mobility in case of emergencies.

Mintu said training is being given to more than 15,000 tricycle drivers in the city, including first aid, so they can be tapped for search and rescue operations. ###

NBP transfer to Ecija will create 50,000 jobs

The plan to transfer the New Bilibid Prisons to Nueva  Ecija will mean more than 50,000 jobs for Novo Ecijanos.

These include 40,000 workers, 4,800 custodial and rehabilitation officers and 9,000 persons for prison maintenance.

The P50.2 billion regional prison facility was presented during a public hearing called by Governor Aurelio Umali following concerns aired on the project's environmental and socio-economic impact on the province.

Architect Armando Alli, adviser of the Public Private Partnership Center, said the project will be jointly undertaken by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

The two-story prison facility will be constructed under the build-operate-transfer scheme on a 552 hectare land inside the Fort Magsaysay Reservation in Barangay Nazareth, General Tinio.

Teodora Diaz, BuCor assistant director, said the facility is designed for 26,000 prisoners.

A total of 20,000 inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City and 2,000 from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City will be transferred to the Nueva Ecija facility.

The bidding for the project is scheduled for February 2015, contract signing in April 2015, and start of construction in October 2015, with the project expected to be completed in 2018. ###

General Tinio mayor welcomes NBP transfer

Mayor Virgilio Bote of General Tinio welcomes the impending transfer of the National Bilibid Prisons to a P50.2 million regional prison facility to be built in Barangay Nazareth.

Welcome dito ang basura at preso. Lahat welcome, huwag lang ang jueteng," the mayor said.

Bote said a trash dump in his town is also negotiable but not jueteng and illegal logging. ###

Palayan mayor asks Fort Mag leaders to consult city on NBP transfer

Palayan City Mayor Adrianne May Cuevas asked Army officials to consult the city government on the transfer of the New Bilibid Prisons from Muntinlupa City to the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation.

She said the Army's 7th Infantry Division scheduled a public hearing last July 24 on the transfer but did not invite Palayan City officials to the affair.

“They need to consult us Palayeños on the planned transfer. In the first place, people from other places who will travel to the proposed NBP site in Laur [sic] will pass our place. So our voices will have to be heard,” Cuevas said.

She said she does not oppose the project but wants residents in impact areas to participate in the consultations, noting that in past months, officials of the 7th ID had been making moves not coordinated with the city government.

.“My only concern is the welfare of my constituents,” she said. ###

'Glenda' rains still insufficient for Pantabangan hydro-power generation

The water level of Pantabangan Dam rose by more than a meter after the rains brought by typhoon Glenda but this was not enough to enable First Gen Hydro Power Corp. to resume generating electricity.

First Gen stopped generating power more than two weeks ago after the water level of the dam fell to 177 meters above sea level.

The power firm funded a cloud-seeding operation over the Pantabangan reservoir to increase the water level.

Despite the dam's low level, the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS) has continued releasing water at 70 cubic meters per second.

Eng. Josephine Salazar, UPRIIS operations manager, said this is to meet the needs of farmers in the dam's service area. ###

Ecija farmers out to win rice production tilt

Farmers in Nueva Ecija will try to beat the record set by Isabela farmers in the dry cropping season of "Palayabangan", a national search hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the best practices that can produce a harvest of 10 tons per hectare at a production cost of P5 a kilo.

PhilRice says the current rice production cost is at P11 a kilo while the average national yield is approximately 4 tons per hectare.

For this year's dry cropping season, Syngenta Philippines was declared the regional winner in Isabela with a harvest of 10.54 tons per hectare produced at P4.94 a kilo.

No winner was declared in Nueva Ecija since no one was able to meed the so-called 10/5 standard.

PhilRice said most of the 15 participants in Nueva Ecija this year are first timers, including Gem Agrologic, Inc. which said it wants to showcase its technology called "Gemsaka". ###

Goodbye, Sonia Lorenzo :-(

Former San Isidro Mayor Sonia Lorenzo died of cancer last July 18.

A three-term mayor, she promoted socio-economic development with the cooperation of the town residents. She succeeded in expanding the delivery of social services, partnering with Gawad-Kalinga to build better housing for the poor. She is also known for her work on public health, increasing the number of poor residents covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)

She was a Senior Fellow on Local Governance at the Ateneo School of Government and one of the founders of Kaya Natin Movement for Ethical Leadership and Good Governance, together with the late Jesse Robredo, Grace Padaca and Fr. Ed Panlilio.

In June 2009, she spoke at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government to show how San Isidro's 47,000 residents, mostly farmers, were working together to improve education, health and economic programs though what she termed "bottom-up governance".

She later served as executive director of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

Lorenzo finished Chemical Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas.

She was originally from Davao City and relocated to San Isidro with her husband, former 4th  Dist. Rep. Victorino Lorenzo.She entered politics in 1998 when residents pleaded with her to do so after a candidate was disqualified from running.

Upon learning of Lorenzo's passing, the Davao City council passed a resolution expressing sympathy to the Lorenzo family.

The council praised her for winning the presidential award for best performing local government against illegal drugs, for being a Bridging Leadership Fellow of Asian Institute of Management and for “sharing her experiences and knowledge with other leaders who are aiming to bring change to their communities.” 

Lorenzo's remains were cremated and her ashes brought to San Isidro, then later to Davao City for interment. ###

'Marcos treasure' fraud in Jaen

Jaen Mayor Santiago Austria quickly acted to prevent the activities of a group enticing town residents to apply to become beneficiaries of "Pantawid Gutom Program" allegedly funded by Marcos wealth deposited in Hongkong or China.

The mayor said he had received information that pastors and ministers of various sects were going around the town selling application forms for cash cards from CTBC Bank and alleging that two grandchildren of the former dictator wouild be the ones to distribute the money..

A check with the bank based in Global City, Taguig showed that it did not give anyone any permit to engage in such recruitment activities.###

Cabiao barangay chief killed

A barangay chair was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Purok 5, Barangay San Roque, Cabiao last July 22.

Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, identified the victim as Mario Trillana of Barangay Bagong Sicat, Cabiao.

He was killed  while driving his Mitsubishi Strada pickup.

Investigators recovered from the victim P50,500 in cash and various identification cards.

They also found deformed caliber .45 slugs from the crime scene. ###

San Jose couple shot dead

A businesswoman and his wife were shot dead by a gunman in front of their restobar in Barangay F.E. Marcos at around 11:35 P.M. last July 29.

The victims were identified as Andy Cailing Esteban, 41, and his wife, Leah, 36, owners of Pick-a-Pica restobar and residents of Villa Esteban, Encarnacion Subdivision, Barangay R. Rueada, Sr.

The two were drinking in front of their restobar when the suspect appeared and fired at them.

Leah died on the spot from bullet hits in the face and neck while her husband died of multiple gunshot wounds at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Hospital. ###

Cabanatuan pusher nabbed

An alleged big-time pusher of illegal drugs was arrested by anti-drug operatives in a buy-bust operation in Barangay San Juan ACCFA, Cabanatuan City before midnight last July 18.

Supt. Pedro Soliba, Jr., city police director, identified the suspect as Mario Joson, 57, of Barangay San Isidro, Zaragoza.

The suspect was found to be carrying 70 plastic sachets of suspected shabu with a street value of P150,000.

Soliba said Joson was subjected to surveillance after his name was included in the police drug watch list.

A follow up investigation is being done to discover the source of the suspect's shabu. ###

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