Volume 15 / No. 14                                                                                                                 July 31, 2015
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Nueva Ecija Journal is published in
Gapan City, Nueva Ecija,Philippines
and updated every 15th and
end of the month.
All rights reserved.

Antonino blames Umali
for Ecija political violence

Former 4th Dist. Rep. Rodolfo Antonino decried what he described as an increase in politically motivated killings and violence in the province allegedly victimizing opponents of outgoing Gov. Aurelio Umali.

He said at least 15 shootings have happened in the province in the past few months, causing the death of at least nine persons, most of them his allies and political leaders.

Antonino, who is running for governor in 2016 against outgoing 3rd Dist. Rep. Czarina Umali, the governor's wife, said the killings started shortly after the May 2013 elections and increased in recent months. This year, he said five officials have been shot dead.

Among the fatalities were barangay chairs, three Sanggunian Bayan members, a municipal accountant and a barangay kagawad.

He identified them as barangay officials Romeo Linsangan and Mario Trillana and municipal accountant Noel Gamboa, all of Cabiao; Nick Apan of Llanera; Rodrigo Miranda of Aliaga; Rodante Garcia and Antonio de Sahagun of San Leonardo; Herminigildo Eduardo of Jaen; and Roger Pascual of Cabanatuan City.

“There is a disturbing pattern of murders and we are witnessing here the unfolding of a political reign of terror in our midst,” Antonino said.

Among the survivors were Linsangan’s successor, Rogelio Cunanan; Gapan Councilor Danilo de Guzman; San Antonio municipal coordinator Erlinda Reyes; Arsenio Santos of Jaen; and Councilors Armando Abiog and Wilfredo Abesamis of Peñaranda.

Antonino said Cunanan has transferred to the camp of Umali, possibly out of fear of  reprisal.

He said Abiog and Abesamis were attacked after they bolted the camp of Umali’s ally, Peñaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, to join Vice Mayor Fermin Francisco, who is preparing to challenge the mayor’s reelection bid.

Antonino urged authorities to look into the incidents.###

Umali answers Antonino's allegations

Governor Aurelio Umali, who was linked to alleged politically-motivated killings and violence in the province by former 4th Dist. Rep.Rodolfo Antonino, said it was the former congressman who had been involved in high-profile political violence.

Umali said Antonino had been involved in such incidents after the 1988 and 2007 elections.

He cited the incident in 1988 when Antonino lost to Nicanor de Guzman, Jr. in the congressional elections. He said Antonino and his men stormed de Guzman's home in Gapan City, claiming that he was cheated.

In another incident before the 2007 elections, Umali said Antonino's men assaulted the compound of his then congressional rival Jose Gay Padiernos and fired at the latter's supporters.

In yet another incident in 20087, Umali said Antonino's security escorts shot it out with a group of supporters of former Jaen Mayor Antonio Esquivel in Jaen, killing four, including a policeman, and wounding 12 others, among them Esquivel's two sons. That incident, Umali said, prompted the Commission on Elections to place the province under its control.

Umali said President Aquino and DILG Sec. Mar Roxas appointed him chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council in Central Luzon because he has no known record of involvement in political violence. ###

Ombudsman suspends Talugtog mayor, 6 officials

The mayor of Talugtog who assumed the post only recently after the Ombudsman  dismissed the mayor elected in 2013, was suspended for 90 days together with five members of the Sangguniang Bayan  and the council secretary for alleged grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and dishonesty.

Ordered suspended were Mayor Reynaldo Cachuela;Councilors Flora F. Cinense, Maximo B. Ancheta Sr., Maximo T. Ulzano, Philip F. Bilegra, and Leo G. Monta, all of the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (BALANE); and Sangguniang Bayan (SB) secretary Norberto P. Baldovino

The suspension order was served by Dr. Abraham Pascua, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assistant regional director and concurrent Nueva Ecija DILG provincial director. It was based on a directive by DILG Regional Director Florida Dijan.

Dijan issued a separate order directing Vice Mayor Benjamin Gamit, Jr. and SB Member Alberto Estillore to assume the posts of mayor and vice mayor.

The suspensions resulted from complaints filed last April 11 by now acting Mayor Gamit, Acting Vice Mayor Estillore and SB Member Gerry Agpalo, all of Unang Sigaw Partido ng Pagbabago of Governor Aurelio Umali.

At that time, Cachuela was the vice mayor, becoming mayor in May after the dismissal of then Mayor Quintino Caspillo for nepotism.

The complainants said the appointment of Rhea Jasmine Tobias as municipal budget officer was endorsed by Caspillo to the SB for confirmation last April 20. On motion of SB Member Ulzano, the SB deferred action on the appointment pending the resolution of an appeal made by Dante Enipto, another aspirant for the position.

The complainants said that two days later, an SB resolution denying the appointment of Tobias was suddenly presented to all the councilors for their signatures.The resolution, the complainants said, did not reflect matters agreed upon by the councilors in their April 20 session.

They said that despite their demand for the correction of the resolution, the respondents ignored them and even falsified the document to make it appear that Councilor Cinense participated in the deliberation to meet the required number of votes.

Cinense admitted she was absent during the session but said there were 10 councilors present out of a quorum of five. ###

Suspended Talugtog mayor hangs on to post

Talugtog Mayor Reynaldo Cachuela continued to perform the functions of mayor despite his suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Vice Mayor Benjamin Gamit, Jr., who was designated as acting mayor, holds office in the Sangguniang Bayan session hall.

Cachuela said he is protesting what he described as lack of due process in the issuance of the suspension order against him and the other officials.

He pointed out that the cases were filed on May 11 and the suspension order came out on June 29. ###

DILG optimistic on resolving Pantabangan mayoral crisis

The Department of the Interior and Local Government hopes to resolve the issue of two mayors running Pantabangan.

The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed Mayor Lucio Uera last March 24 for grave misconduct and abuse of authority. He was replaced by Vice Mayor Ruben Huerta.

The Court of Appeals subsequently issued a 60-day temporary restraining order on the Ombudsman's decision, leaving the town with two mayors to the confusion of local government employees and town residents.

DILG Undersecretary for Local Governance Austere Panadero said they want to clear up the issue but they first have to ask for the court's advice, expected to be released by July 29.

He said they are hopeful they can address the issue after receipt of the court's advice. ###

DTI turns over machines for bamboo production

Farmers engaged in producing bamboo products received machinery from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under its Shared Service Facility (SSF) program.

Brigida Pili, DTI provincial director in Nueva Ecija, said the machines, expected to boost production of school desks and other materials made of bamboo, were turned over to Pamayanang Nagkakaisa Producers Cooperative in Llanera

The machines consisted of pole cutters, twin rip saw, treatment vat, kiln dryer, jointer planer, thickness planer, dust collector, laminating press with pneumatic cylinder, single spindle moulder, arm saw, band saw, circular saw with sliding table, bench drill, wide belt sander, air compressor with spray gun, universal sharpener for circular saw, and grinder for planer knives.

Pili said the move is in recognitions of the need to improve bamboo products because those are the trend today. She said the forests need to be preserved by using bamboo as an alternative to wood.

She said the SSF aims to provide small and medium enterprises, especially farmers' cooperatives, with the capability to improve their products and be more competitive. The DTI also helps widen their market.

Aside from home furnishing, the Llanera cooperative also produces bamboo node for bamboo slats used in engineered bamboo desks and bamboo panels, among others.

With the use of the machines from DTI, PNPC is expected to generate employment among Llanera residents and uplift the lives of its members. ###

Bangko Sentral, Ecija gov't help MSMEs

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the provincial government of Nueva Ecija launched the Nueva Ecija Credit Surety Fund (Nueva Ecija CSF) last July 29 at Harvest Hotel in Cabanatuan  City.

A memorandum of agreement was signed by stakeholders headed by BSP Monetary Board Member Felipe M. Medalla, Gov. Aurelio Umali and representatives of participating cooperatives and institutions.

CSF is a program designed to increase the creditworthiness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that encounter problem in accessing bank credit because of lack of acceptable collateral, credit knowledge and credit track records.

The Nueva Ecija CSF, the 40th to be established in the country, will pool contributions of well-managed and well-capitalized cooperatives, the provincial government and partner institutions like the Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund, Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines from which participating cooperatives and their MSME members may obtain loans from banks even without hard collateral, with the surety agreement issued by the fund serving as alternative loan collateral.

The CSF program, launched in 2008, is expected to help under-served and unserved MSDMEs gain access to bank credit. ###

Pigmented rice to control obesity

The Rice Science Museum opened an exhibit at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Muñoz to highlight the value of pigmented rice in solving obesity in the country.

The exhibit called "Colors of Rice" aims to raise awareness on the health and nutritional value of pigmented rice through interactive displays of brown, purple, red and black rice varieties.

“In this exhibit, we focus on the traditional pigmented rice varieties and their comparison with white rice, and the impact of rice on our health, in our life, and in our communities,” said Sophia Maria Cuevas, exhibit curator.

According to the results of the 8th National Nutrition Survey released recently, three out of 10 Filipino adults are obese due to consumption of too much food rich in carbohydrate, including white rice.

Dr. Marissa Romero, a food scientist, said pigmented rice is a good alternative to white rice, having loads of antioxidants that fight cell-damaging agents.

The exhibit at the Rice Science Museum, a tourist facility accredited by the Department of Tourism, will run until February 2016. ###

Palayan cop linked to robberies arrested

A policemen assigned in Palayan City who has been linked to hijackings in Nueva Ecija was arrested together with an accomplice while another policeman escaped and is being hunted.

A fourth companion, said to be a military informant, was killed.

Sr. Supt., Manuel Cornel identified those arrested as PO1 Alvin Belmonte, 38, assigned in Palayan City, and Reynaldo Gozun, 45, of Barangay Cabucbucan, Rizal.

They were nabbed after a shootout in Barangay Ligaya, Gabaldon last July 30.

The two, together wiuth PO3 Benito Marquez, were aboard a hijacked cigarette delivery van when accosted by patrolling policemen who had been told by a salesman about the hijacking of his vehicle.

In the ensuing chase and shootout, Raymond Reyes, allegedly a civilian agent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a resident of Barangay Balaring, General Natividad, was killed.

Marquez took an undetermined amount of cash with him when he fled.

The suspects yielded a caliber .38 revolver, two caliber .45 pistols and about P20,000 in cash. ###

Suspect in Bongabon stabbing spree arrested

Baguio police arrested the suspect in the killing of  a 12-year-old girl and the stabbing of her family members in Bongabon.

The suspect, Isidro  Bulandos, was arrested at a bus terminal at Engineer's Hill in Baguio last July 29 based on a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla of Regional Trial Court Branch 40 of Palayan City.

Bulandos faces charges of murder, four counts of frustrated murder, child abuse and illegal use of firearms.

He allegedly killed a 12 year old girl by stabbing her 16 times in Bongabon last July 3.

He also stabbed the girl's two siblings and grandmother but they survived.

The mother of the children were in Saudi Arabia when the crime happened.

Before the stabbing spree, Bulandos had been charged with acts of lasciviousness for molesting the 12 year old victim and her elder sister.

He was also involved in a drug-related case in 2012.

When arrested, Bulandos yielded a hand grenade. ###

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