No. 253 /  November 1-15, 2010
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Umali against HUC status for Cabanatuan

Gov. Aurelio M. Umali opposes Cabanatuan City's bid to become a highly urbanized city (HUC).

He said that the move by the city government under Mayor Jay Vergara is premature and that the mayor never consulted him about it.

“I think that as of now, Cabanatuan cannot yet stand on its own that's why we are against its conversion into a HUC,” Umali said.

Umali did not say whether he would launch a campaign against Cabanatuan City's HUC bid once a plebiscite is called among city residents, just like what the Josons did in 1997.

In the 1997 plebiscite based on Proclamation No. 969 issued by then President Fidel Ramos, the "no" votes prevailed.

Once Cabanatuan is transformed into an HUC, the city's voters will no longer vote for governor and other provincial officials and become independent of the province, with its own congressman in the House of Representatives.

Earlier, Vergara said that they have had enough politics in the past 60 years that Cabanatuan has been a city.

"We are the first municipality in Central Luzon to have gained city status, but we still dwell in the cellar of inactivity. It is about time we get down to thinking about raising the economic stature of Cabanatuan. All these we can do by being independent, free from political interference of self-serving politicians who treat us as pawns for their political pursuits instead of as partners for growth, progress and development,”  he said.

“If we push for either having a lone congressional district, or an HUC status, we get to have congressional representation and for which the priority development assistance funds or ‘pork barrel’ that go with it would surely go a long way towards maximizing economic development and over-all growth not only in Cabanatuan but spread throughout Nueva Ecija,” Vergara explained.

He said that he would present the issue to the city residents in a series of public consultations. 

Meanwhile, Umali dared the camp of Vergara to identify the supposed emissary from the capitol who reportedly approached members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod and offered P20 million in exchange for their rejection of the HUC bid.

In a radio program over the Vergara-owned DZJJ, it was reported that a person said to identified with Umali and Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos allegedly offered P10 million to Vice Mayor Marius Garcia and P1 million to each city councilor to vote against the HUC proposal once this is presented to the council by Vergara.

Vergara hinted that the supposed emissary was a "factor" behind the alleged massive corruption under former Mayor Alvin Vergara.

Umali said that the Vergara camp should prove that the bribe attempt really happened instead of accusing him and Padiernos of attempting to buy the votes of the city council members.

"They should never issue statements without a leg to stand on," Umali said. ###

Gen. Tinio mayor accuses SP of not doing job

General Tinio Mayor Virgilio Bote criticized Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos and the majority bloc in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for not doing their jobs as legislators and their failure to act on resolutions from the municipal governments.

Bote, a former ally of Gov. Aurelio Umali and Padiernos, said that the SP has not acted on a resolution passed by the General Tinio Sangguniang Bayan recommending that the name of the town be reverted to "Papaya".

“They are not doing their job. They seem to be on a vacation mode. And yet they are being paid by taxpayers of the province of Nueva Ecija,” Bote said.

He identified SP Members Eduardo Rey Joson and Juanito Juatco, both from the opposition Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija, as the only ones performing their jobs as provincial council members since they took office in June.

The proposal to rename General Tinio as Papaya was first discussed during a joint executive-legislative meeting on January 14, 2008 by the municipal government led by Bote and the Sangguniang Bayan led by then Vice Mayor Marcelo Abes, Jr. and attended by 13 barangay chairs. The major development plans were laid out, including the possible conversion of the town into a city within 10 years.

On October 13, 2008, the town council, on a motion of SB Member Melvin Pascual, passed Resolution 117 recommending to the provincial council the renaming of General Tinio as Papaya.

General Tinio was originally called Barrio de Papaya under the adjacent town of Peñaranda.  It was officially declared a separate municipality on January 7, 1921. ###

Umali to get P40.8M intel fund

Gov. Aurelio M. Umali is set to receive an allocation of P48.8 million in intelligence fund under the province's proposed 2011 budget.

Umali defended the allocation saying that  funds included in the yearly budget are always in conformity with existing laws that provide some leeway for the intelligence operations of local government units.

The intelligence fund represents 45 percent of the P89.48-million proposed budget for the Governor's Office for the coming year and is said to be bigger than the combined proposed budgets of the Guimba District Hospital and the Santo Domingo District Hospital.

An Umali ally in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, BM Joseph Ortiz, chair of the committee on finance and appropriations, said that the intelligence fund is meant to give teeth to the provincial government's campaign against illegal drugs. He said that part of the fund will go to the activation of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

The allocation is expected to be approved by the pro-Umali majority bloc in the provincial board. ###

Police seize firearms owned by barangay officials

The Nueva Ecija police seized some 29 assorted guns formerly registered under the names of barangay officials.

The guns are considered "unaccounted for".

Sr. Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, provincial police director, said that the guns in question were among 131 firearms bought by various local government units and covered by certificates of registration issued to barangay chairs.

Among the guns that are being traced are 10 from San Antonio, 10 from General Tinio, five from the Science City of Muñoz and five from Santo Domingo.

Aliggayu said that before the barangay and SK elections, the police conducted an audit of the firearms issued to local officials, including barangay chairs.

“Failure to account for these guns means that we will subject them to police operations,” Aliggayu said.

“They cannot deny ownership of these firearms since they have been registered under their names,” he added.

Police records show that among the towns that bought guns for their security units and barangay officials were Quezon, Talugtog, Cuyapo, Santo Domingo, San Antonio, Carranglan, Gapan City and the provincial government with 10 units each; the Science City of Muñoz, 20; and General Tinio, 15. ###

Election gun ban nets 23 firearms

Some 23 assorted firearms were confiscated by the Nueva Ecija police during the implementation of the gun ban for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from September 25 to November 10.

The guns came from checkpoints and inspections in various establishments.

Sr. Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, provincial police director, warned gun owners that despite the lapse of the gun ban last November 10, the police will continue its campaign against loose firearms. He said that some of these are in the possession of criminal elements while others are owned by those who failed to renew their gun licenses. ###

All Saints Day 2010


San Jose partners with youth for eco drive

Any child in San Jose City who brings just a single piece of plastic trash to City Mayor Marivic Belena gets rewarded with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.

Belena, actively involved in the "Kaya Natin!" advocacy group, said that making children aware of the bad effects of plastic things on the environment would strengthen the city's drive for proper waste disposal, including waste segregation.

"Kung hindi natin makaya sa magulang, sa mga bata tayo mag-umpisa," Belena said while being  surrounded by children with trash in their hands during the recent Agad na Serbisyong Bayan (ASB) program held at the gymnasium of Barangay Pinili. 

Belena said that rewarding children with basic needs such as toothpaste and tooth brush is part of an awareness campaign among the youths on the bad effects of plastic.

For his part, Board Member Joseph Ortiz, who had served as city councilor for three terms, said that the city government has been espousing cleanliness for quite some time.

He said that the city's Diamond Park in Barangay Tayabo is a consistent winner of the "Pinakamaringal na Ecological Park" competition and one of the most visited parks in the province.

Belena said that they also distributed tree saplings to people who sought medical help and other services in the ASB program.

She expressed hope that the city's youth could be effective movers in the ecological campaign. ###

Violago files landmark bills

Second Dist. Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago filed a bill entitled "Poor Litigants Equalization Act of 2010" that provides temporary liberty to indigent first time offenders provided there is no probability of flight upon the determination of a court.

“While the Constitution guarantees that no person shall be denied the equal protection of law, it is evident that in Philippine society, existing laws appear to favor the rich more than those belonging to the lower economic strata,” Violago emphasized in his statement.

He said that said the families of those being charged with felony or a crime punishable with six year imprisonment will benefit from his bill by using the money intended for posting bail for their daily subsistence.

In another proposed measure, House Bill 181, Violago wants to exempt private owners who sell their real properties to the government or any of its political subdivisions or government owned or controlled corporations from paying capital gains tax. ###

PhilRice marks silver anniversary

Sen. Francis Pangilinan tries a drumseeder during the PhilRice anniversary.

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Muñoz, celebrated its 25th anniversary last November .5 with Rice Science for Development (S4D) as the highlight.

Guided by S4D, PhilRice's medium and long-term plans will be centered on helping attain and sustain rice self-sufficiency, reducing poverty and malnutrition and achieving competitiveness in agricultural science and technology.

The three day celebration starting November 3 featured spiritual enhancement, the Santiago R. Obien Seminar Series on improving research management  of research and development institutions, a tribute to the agency's benefactors and recognition of the achievements of its employees.

Among the guests and resource speakers were Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture; Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture; retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato  S. Puno; and Dr. Achim Dobermann, deputy director general for research of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

In a message, Executive Director Ronilo A. Beronio said, “It is my honor to lead the PhilRice family in celebrating our 25th Anniversary. Having started at PhilRice in 1986 as its first employee, I have seen PhilRice from its infancy to adulthood… It is our collective desire to see PhilRice remain responsive and relevant to the increasing needs of our country and its people.” 

PhilRice, a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture, was created through Executive Order 1061 issued by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. ###

San Jose diocese set to hold first synod in 2011

The Diocese of San Jose will hold its first synod to assess the church's accomplishments and lay down plans and programs to respond to the changing times.

Called "Sinodo ng Mabuting Katiwala", the gathering of the clergy, religious men and women and selected lay leaders will be held from March 20 to 26, 2011.

The participants will deliberate on the issues of formation of the laity and the clergy, call for more servant leaders, propagation of basic Christian communities called "Damayang Kristiano", the Church's involvement in social change and proper management of the resources of the diocese.

Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, the diocese's third bishop, said that not only did the Catholic faithful increase in the diocese's 26 years of existence. but also the number of homegrown priests serving the 19 parishes.

In the Synod Declaration released in time for his 48th birthday, Vergara cited the outstanding work of "lider-lingkods" in various communities and recognized the important contributions of priests in the propagation of basic Christian communities.

The Diocese of San Jose was created on February 16, 1984 and made a suffragan of the Metropolitan of Lingayen-Dagupan.  It was canonically erected on July 14, 1984, comprising of San Jose City and 13 of the northern towns of Nueva Ecija. ###

Ecija among dumping grounds of fake medicines

Nueva Ecija has been identified as among the hot spots for the sale and distribution of counterfeit drugs.

The Samahan Laban sa Pekeng Gamot (SAMAHAN), a coalition of public and private sectors to educate the public on the proliferation and dangers of  fake medicines, also identified Manila, Cebu, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan,  Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Quezon among the hot spots. 

The Department of Health estimates that one in 10 medicines sold in the market is fake.

SAMAHAN said that the international sources of counterfeit drugs are China, India and Pakistan.

To draw the public's attention to the problem of fake drugs, the group launched the first National Consciousness Week against Fake Medicines last November 15.

The campaign called "Totoong Gamot!" advises consumers to look for the "Rx" symbol and expiry dates on drugs, and be alert when the prices of these are significantly or unusually low. ###

Esquivel placed on watch list, Velardes elated

The family of Ricardo Velarde, former president of the Jaen Association of Barangay Captains who was intending to run as mayor but was slain in 1994, expressed elation over the inclusion of former Mayor Prospero Antonio Esquivel, the alleged mastermind of the killing, in the immigration watch list.

Rosalin Velarde, the victim's widow, expressed hope that justice will be obtained once Esquivel is arrested.

Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras had asked the Bureau of Immigration to place Esquivel in its watch list to prevent him from leaving the country, following an arrest order issued by Gapan City Regional Trial Court Branch 35 Acting Judge Virgilio Caballero.

Esquivel was identified by the suspected gunmen, Rufino Manuel and Edgardo Santos, as the one who allegedly hired them to kill Velarde

Natutuwa po kami at nakamit na namin ang aming minimithing katarungan sa pagpapalabas na po ng arrest warrant kay Esquivel,” Rosalin said. She has been living abroad but returned home to closely monitor the progress of the case. ###

Santa Rosa contractor arrested for illegal gun, video game machines

A Santa Rosa contractor was arrested after a raid on his houses resulted in the confiscation of a caliber .45 pistol, gun accessories and 14 "fruit game" machines.

Supt. Edgar Alan Okubo, chief of the provincial Police Peace and Security Company (PPSC), identified the suspect as Danilo Bautista, 54, of Barangay Luna.

Elements of  PPSC and the Santa Rosa police station simultaneously raided Bautista's houses in Barangays Luna and Gomez last November 11 based on a search warrant issued by Judge Ramon Pamular of Regional Trial Court Branch 32 of Guimba.

Also found in his house were 77 rounds of bullets and silencers for M16 Armalite rifle.

The searches were witnessed by barangay officials and the suspect.

Bautista was charged with illegal possession of firearms and illegal gambling. ###

San Antonio man found dead in Arayat

The decomposing body of a Novo Ecijano was found floating in a river in Arayat, Pampanga last November 9.

The victim was identified as Benigno Magat, 28, of San Antonio town.

His father, Benjamin, who positively identified him, said the victim had told him that he would go to the dike in Barangay Luyos but failed to return after several days.

He said that the victim worked in a bar in Nueva Ecija and acted as a pimp.

Supt. Elbert Pagente, officer-in-charge of the Arayat police, said that the body had been floating in the river for three or four days and the local police coordinated with the Nueva Ecija police to establish its identity.

Police are still investigating the cause of death. ###

Gapan rice mill driver arrested for misspending P3M  in casinos

A 44 year old driver/collector of a Gapan City rice mill was arrested for squandering his P3M collection in casinos.

Supt. Ricardo E. Villanueva, city police chief, identified the suspect as Zaldy Santos Espinosa of Camino Street, Barangay San Nicolas, driver/collector of Brilliant Gains Rice Mill owned by Dominga Garcia of Barangay Bayanihan.

Elements of the Gapan City police led by PO3 Albretch Von Ferrer arrested him at 9:00 P.M. last November 10 after the victim complained that the suspect failed to remit his P3 million collection from delivering 4,000 sacks of rice to Olongapo City.

It was learned that after every delivery, the suspect would go to the casinos.

Before he was arrested, the suspect confessed to Garcia that he squandered his collections in various casinos in Olongapo City.

Charges of qualified theft have been filed against the suspect. ###

San Leonardo truck helper killed in motorcycle accident

A 31 year old truck helper died after he was hit by a passenger bus while driving a motorcycle along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Tabuating, San Leonardo last November 1.

Chief Insp. Francisco Mateo III, town police chief, identified the victim as Soreto Matalos Jolongbayan, a native of Alitagtag, Batangas. He was declared dead on arrival at Gonzales General Hospital.

Investigation showed that the victim was bumped by Manila-bound Ballesteros Bus. The impact threw the victim a few meters away and rendered him unconscious.

The bus driver surrendered to the police and was charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. ###

3 San Isidro voyeurs arrested

Three men were arrested while peeping at a teenage girl who was taking a bath, even taking cell phone video of her last November 10 in Barangay Poblacion, San Isidro.

Those arrested were identified as Chris Bernard Bongcayo, 18, native of Negros Occidental; John Paul Berdijo Evangelista, 21, originally from Catanduanes; and Alfredo Alva Francisco, 25 of Barangay Poblacion, all working as helpers at Zedric Feeds.

The victim, Emily Calanoc Nakamura, told investigators that she was busy bathing when she noticed the suspects peeping, with one of them using a cell phone to take a video of her. She hastily wrapped herself with a towel, went out and confronted the suspects.

With the help of the police, the three were later arrested and charged with violation of Republic Act 7610. ###

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