Volume 15 / No. 20    |    October 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.
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'Lando' leaves P3.6 billion
in damages

Governor Aurelio Umali and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos said the damage to agriculture and infrastructure brought by Typhoon Lando last October 18 has reached P3.6 billion.

The First Engineering District of the Department of Public Works and Highways reported that P59.5 million worth of roads and flood control projects were destroyed by the typhoon and the resulting floods.

The Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council said a partial damage report indicated at least 134 hectares palay crops and 1,200 hectares of vegetable and high-value crops were destroyed.

The Provincial Agriculture Office said Talavera, one of the hardest-hit rice producing town, lost P268 million in agricultural crops, affecting 3,554 farmers.

Talavera Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez said the calamity affected all 53 barangays of the town, and appealed for help from the national government to enable farmers to recover.

Cabanatuan City sustained P244 million worth of damages; Rizal, P273 million; Guimba, P294 million; Santa Rosa, P204 million; Llanera, P168 million; Gapan City, P188.4 million; Jaen, P120.3 million; Peñaranda, P71.4 million; San Antonio, P140.6 million; San Isidro, P97.9 million; San Leonardo, P69.5 million; Santo. Domingo ,P56.9 million; Talugtog, P94.6 million; Zaragoza, P86 million;l San Jose City, P58.9 million; Science City of Munoz,m P145.8 million; Palayan City, P55.4 million; Cabiao, P51.1 million; Aliaga, P88.4 million; Bongabon, P39.8 million; Carranglan, P39.9 million; Cuyapo, P110.2 million; Gabaldon, P26.1 million; General Natividad, P132.2 million; and General Tinio, P16 million. ###

P-Noy visits Ecija

President Benigno S. Aquino went to Cabanatuan City last October 19 to assess the damage caused by Typhoon Lando and lead the distribution of relief goods to evacuees at the Nueva Ecija High School gymnasium.

He was welcomed by Governor Aurelio Umali and Cabanatuan City Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara.

He was supposed to go to Santa Rosa where house were submerged by flood but the situation there prevented his trip.

Umali later acknowledged the fast response of the President and the national government to help in the relief and rehabilitation efforts.

However, he said that the damage to the province's agriculture sector is too big to be handled by the provincial government alone.

He appealed to the national leadership and all agencies concerned to help in the provincial government's efforts and reassure the people that the full resources of the government would be made available in rebuilding the province.

He said affected farmers can avail themselves of loans at a very minimal interest from the provincial government's "Aning Masaganang Uhay" program which was first launched in 2007. ###

Flash flood hits Cabanatuan

Flood water from the Sierra Madre mountains caused a five-foot high flood along the stretch of the national highway in Cabanatuan City, submerging 60 percent of the 89 barangays of the city.

Governor Aurelio Umali said water from Gabaldon was supposed to drain out to Bongabon and Laur toward the Pampanga River but it did not happen.

On the night of October 18, some 30 families of Barangay Comunal were rescued by personnel of the city search and rescue team and soldiers from the Philippine Army's 525th Engineering Brigade.

Raymond Flores, barangay chair, said he had sent dump trucks as early as 4:00 P.M., one hour before the place was flooded, to evacuate the residents but many refused to leave their houses.

Umali said if the level of the flood water along the national highway would be used as a gauge, then the flood must be much higher in barangays along the Cabu and Pampanga Rivers.

Vehicles were stranded along the highway, with truck drivers, helpers and passengers perched on top of the vehicles for safety.

Umali said those trapped in the upper floors of their houses did not listen to the advice to evacuate as early as the day before, referring to residents of Barangays Calawagan, Comunal, Bagong Sikat, Caudillo and Pagas. ###

DENR denies floods caused by illegal logging

The Department of Environment and Natural resources denied reports that the flash floods and mud flows in wide areas in Nueva Ecija were caused by illegal logging in the province.

Leovino Ignacio, provincial environment and natural resources officer, clarified that the falling of trees seen from the mountains, especially in Gabaldon, was caused by heavy rains and strong winds.

Hindi ito mga troso, kundi mga sanga-sanga ng mga naputol at nabuwal na puno. These are uprooted trees that cascaded from the mountains and brought down by the winds and rains which hit Gabaldon hard. Remember that typhoon signal no. 3 was hoisted in the entire Nueva Ecija during Lando,” he said.

The clarification was due to a televised report that several uprooted trees were seen along highways after the rains and floods and could have been cut by illegal loggers in Gabaldon and Laur.

Earlier, Gov. Aurelio Umali, Ignacio and Wilfredo Pangilinan, the provincial government's environment and natural resources officer, inspected the damages in Barangay Bagting, Baterya, Calabasa and Ligaya in Gabaldon and Barangay San Vicente in Laur where trees, twigs, branches and debris were seen.

Umali said the Provincial Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force has been monitoring the logging operations and has maintained zero illegal logging in the 849 barangays of the province. ###

Gabaldon: A disaster that did not happen

A scientist said the effects of Typhoon Lando on Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija could be compared to what happened in New Bataan, Compostela CValley in 2012 when it was hit by Typhoon Pablo.

Dr. Mahar Lagmay of Project NOAH of the Department of Science and Technology said a disaster did not happen because the people of Gabaldon evacuated early.

He said the mayor of Gabaldon did the right thing in ordering a forced evacuation.Gabaldon residents suffered from landslides and flash floods caused by Typhoon Lando, leaving the town isolated with mud, boulders and trees covering the streets and farms.

Mayor Rolando Bue said a huge portion of a mountain eroded and covered houses and rice fields with rocks, trees and mud. ###

Provincial government cites Red Cross teams for heroism

The Nueva Ecija provincial government cited Philippine Red Cross (PRC) teams for being among the first responders to aid the people of the province hit by Typhoon Lando.Gov. Aurelio Umali thanked the Red Cross teams for risking their lives and limbs to rescue and evacuate people facing imminent death due to strong winds and floods that isolated barangays and destroyed roads, bridges and houses.

Umali particularly cited a PRC rescue team that traversed raging flood to reach a trapped van with seven passengers in Barangay San Isidro, Santa Rosa in the early morning of October 18. The PRC team attached a line to their six-by-six truck to retrieve five passengers but failed to rescue two others before the van was swept away by the flood.

“We want to cite Francis Hidalgo, Rommel Barroga, Ronald Perez, Harold Obaña, John Cacho, Christian Jeoffrey Mariano, Paul Rei Guiang, and Abner Yangwas for their courage and bravery in that particular incident. We also acknowledge the many Red Cross teams who were among the first responders during Lando and who did many other deeds of courage and sacrifice at the height of the storm. Because of their efforts, many lives in Nueva Ecija were saved,” Umali said.

Umali said he called to thank PRC Chair Richard Gordon, who pledged to continue Red Cross relief efforts in Nueva Ecija and other parts of Luzon devastated by Lando. ###

PAGASA: Dams benefited from 'Lando'

The rains brought by Typhoon Lando benefited Luzon dams, according to a hydrologist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).Danny Flores said before October 19, Ambuklao and Binga Dams opened their two gates at one meter high. He said the Ambuklao water level increased by 2.08 meters while that of Binga Dam rose by .16 meters.

San Roque Dam downstream increased by 1.76 meters, just 1.86 meters short of its 280-meter spilling level.

Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija rose by 5.19 meters to 200.37 meters but still way below the 216-meter spilling level.

Magat Dam's water level increased by 1.86 meters, breaching its 193-meter spilling level.

Angat Dam in Bulacan rose to 201.81 meters.but still below its 210-meter spilling level.

The water levels of La Mesa Dam and Ipo Dam also went up. ###

DTI tells merchants to keep prices stable

The regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry called on businessmen in Central Luzon to follow existing suggested retail prices of basic and prime commodities.The DTI has implemented a price freeze in places declared under state of calamity due to Typhoon Lando such as in seven Pampanga towns, Nueva Ecija and Aurora since October 18; and Tarlac, since October 21.

When a state of calamity is declared by a local government, price control can be implemented up to 60 days unless lifted sooner by either the local sanggunian or by the President.

Among the items whose prices are controlled during calamities are processed milk, canned goods, coffee, laundry soap, detergent, candles, bread and salt.

Under the law, the hoarding of goods and profiteering are punishable with fines of up to P2 million and imprisonment of up to 15 years.###

President announces new CL road projects

President Benigno S. Aquino asked Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson to coordinate with local government authorities for the repair as soon as possible of the Pura-Guimba Road connecting Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.Speaking at a thanksgiving celebration in Tarlac City last October 25, the President said he had observed cracks along the 11.44-kilometer provincial road when he visited Nueva Ecija to distribute relief goods to typhoon victims.

He said provincial roads are not covered by the budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways that are limited only to national roads and tourism-related projects.

The President also mentioned the construction of alternative routes to Cagayan Valley, crossing Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Quirino to avoid Dalton Pass which is prone to landslides.

He said there is a plan that willl extend the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) from La Paz,. Tarlac to Zaragoza, Cabanatuan City and up to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija to be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. ###

Sandiganbayan convicts ex-Pantabangan mayor of graft

The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Pantabangan Mayor Lucio Uera of graft for approving a P1.11 million contract with a company affiliated with his wife.

The court found Uera guilty of violatiing Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and issued last October 27.

He was sentenced to a prison term of from six years and one month to 10 years, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The Ombudsman said its prosecutors were able to establish that in Mary 2002, Uera entered into a service contract with Priva Power and Allied Services for the management of the Pantabangan Municipal Electric System for P1.11million.

It was proven during the trial that Uera had direct pecuniary benefit from the agreement since his wife, Ruby, is an incorporator, stockholder and director of Priva as certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Sandiganbayan also noted that without being the mayor and acting in such capacity, Uera could not have facilitated the contract with Priva. ###

Ombudsman reinstates suspended Talugtog mayor, 6 others

After serving a 90-day preventive suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman, Talugtog Mayor Reynaldo Cchuela, five Sangguniang Bayan members -- Flora F. Cinense, Maximo B. Ancheta Sr., Maximo T. Ulzano, Philip F. Bilegra and Leo G. Monta -- and Sanggunian Bayan Secretary Norberto P. Baldovino were ordered reinstated by Regional Director Florida Dijan of the Department of Interior and Local Government.They were earlier suspended for grave abuse of authority and grave misconduct.

Cachuela said their return was peaceful and orderly since the acting mayor, Vice Mayor Benjamin Gamit, Jr., and the acting vice mayor, Sangguniang Bayan Member Alberto Estillore, did not oppose their reinstatement.

Dijan had informed Gamit that the suspension of Cachuela and his companions had been lifted due to the lapse of the 90-day suspension order.

Cachuela and other town officials were suspended without pay last July 22 in connection with the passage last April of a resolution that bore the signature of a councilor who was absent during the deliberations.

Initially, the suspended officials defied the suspension order but later relented. ###

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