Baguio hosts international IP climate meet

November 11, 2010 in environment, Featured, international by emendator


BAGUIO CTIY — Baguio native Jill Cariño, CPA vice chairperson, welcomed local and foreign delegates to the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to Climate Change this morning November 6 to the city.

A participant from Nagaland drinks basi during the opening ritual. Photo by Noel Godinez/

This after Cordillera elders had read omens of good tidings from the early morning opening ritual and offering for the event to about a hundred participants.

According to Samuel Anongos of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), the international indigenous peoples (IP) conference on climate change 6 at the Ridgewood Residence Hotel here will surely be blessed and fruitful as the reading of the chicken bile was “likeb” (covered). He explained that the bile is covered by the liver which is translated as the ancestors protecting the conference and the participants.

Anongos explained that in the traditional practices of most IPs in the Cordillera, all important events or gatherings start with a ritual where butchered animals usually pigs or chickens are offered to the ancestors for their blessings. He added, in the said ritual, the elders read the omens in the liver and bile of the offered animal.

OFFERING. Members of the Cordillera Elders Alliance and CPA butcher the pig offered in the opening ritual of the Intenational Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to Climate Change at the Ridgewood Residence Hotel here. Photo by Noel Godinez/

Cariño, in her welcome address stressed that the conference is a venue for IPs all over the globe to share their experiences, learn from each other and find alternatives and solutions to climate change and other issues related to it. She pointed out that issues on violation of IPs’ collective rights, government neglect and development aggression are inter connected to the climate crisis.

Cariño further said participants should consider the conference as a tongtong. She explained that tongtong is a traditional concensus building process on pressing issues in the community of the Ibaloys.

“This is our tongtong, our conference let us make it fruitful,” she urged the participants.

According to Cariño the Ibaloy, the original peoples of Baguio, were marginalized after the American colonizers took away their lands. She also stressed that the Ibaloy experience is similar to the many indigenous communities in other countries.

Representative from different IP organizations and advocates from 16 countries arrived to attend the conference. Countries represented include Autralia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United State of America, Vietnam, Nigeria, West Papua, Rumbia and Philippines. #

Requisite to CADT registration questioned

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, land rights by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — During the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session on November 3 here, provincial board member Juan Nazarro questioned the need to delineate titled lots within the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) before it can be registered in the registry of deeds.

Nazarro said there is a need to study this requirement in line with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). He believes that a domain includes all aspects of the environment like the water and air.

He added that the people living within the CADT are also included in the domain. Therefore, the segregation of titled lots within the domain is awkward. He believes there is no need to delineate the titled lots or annotate them within the domain before it is registered at the registry of deeds.

The issue raised was is in relation to a proposed resolution in support of the Regional Development Council’s (RDC) resolution requesting the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to waive the delineation requirement for the registration of CADTs in their joint memorandum agreement no 1 series of 2007.

The RDC believes that the segregation process involves steps that are expensive, tedious, and time consuming and unnecessarily and agonizingly prolong the entire registration process. RDC said in their resolution that the final result of the segregation process would be an ancestral domain map that is full of holes and a CADT that is a hundred pages thick.

The SP resolution supporting the RDC resolution was deferred pending the round table discussion with the NCIP regional director and the Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPO) representative specifically Mr Abela of La Trinidad IPO who had wrote the SP a letter requesting the body to file a resolution requesting the NCIP and LRA to waive the above said requirement.

Nazarro said they (SP) will seek clarification on the issue raised and will discuss whether they will push through with a resolution to support the RDC resolution or they will file another resolution questioning the segregation requirement. #

Public servants go for job rights

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, Featured by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — In a forum last November 4, here on the theme “Reinvigorate our ranks, advance our cause”, government employees discussed present issues and concerns in their different lines of work.

Government employees from the city local government units (LGU) as well as regional offices of different government departments and non-teaching staff of state universities and member unions and individuals of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) closed in their ranks to uphold their rights as workers in the public service.

After a long period of silence the local chapter of Courage spearheaded the activity and gathered consensus to reactivate the militant umbrella of government employees’ unions and associations here.

According to the Courage-Cordillera Administrative Region Chapter, government employees here in the region just like their co-government employees in the rest of the country suffer from economic and political marginalization.

Courage explained that majority of them are receiving salaries that cannot cope with the continuous rising of prices of basic commodities and services especially those with a family of six. Courage added that since many of them have no unions and associations, they have no bargaining power through the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) to push through with their labor rights.

The main speaker of the forum, Courage National Chairperson Ferdinand Gaite gave updates on the situation of Philippine government employees. According to Gaite, there is a big difference in the situation of rank-and-file employees and their higher-ups.

Gaite said that while government department bosses receive amazing salaries and bonuses as reported in the news, the rank-and-file employees receive government pegged salaries and benefits.

Gaite said that government employees are threatened by many factors. Among these is the threat to their security of tenure. Though they have given 5 or more years of service they still are not regular employees.

One employee from the LGU cited the case of employees in one of the parks of the city where they still are contractual or casuals. He added that many times, their salary aside from being low is delayed.

According to Gaite, government employees face the threat of displacement because of contractualization, privatization and abolition of some government agencies.

In this direction, he said that aside from thousands of government employees rendered jobless, their families go hungry, and genuine public services are compromised as privatized agencies will be run primarily for profit by private entities and companies.

On the Government Security Insurance System (GSIS) issue, according to Gaite, while the controversial former GSIS czar Winston Garcia was replaced, the unfair policies that stripped off the workers benefits and rights still continue.

He said that Garcia who is the mastermind of the money-making and other scrupulous policies is still not being investigated and held liable for the deprivation caused on GSIS members.

Gaite explained that as provided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions, government employees have the right to organize themselves and form unions and have CNAs.

Gaite said that they have also the right to be represented in the House of Congress so that their particular concerns and demands are integrated into the legislative processes. He expressed regrets over the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying Courage as a partylist to participate in the recent national elections.

Comelec said government employees are not considered belonging to the marginalized sectors. “Ang nakakatawa doon ay sinasabi ng Comelec na hindi marginalized ang mga kawani ng gobyerno habang inaprubahan naman si Mikey Arroyo na napakayaman bilang kinatawan ng mga sikyu (What is ridiculous is that the Comelec says that the government employees do not belong to the marginalized sectors but they allowed Mikey Arroyo who is very rich be the representative of security guards),” said Gaite.

Gaite said that Courage even though denied by the Comelec in the past will push through in the 2013 national elections. He said that Courage will continue to organize public servants uphold their rights and welfare towards the realization of a just social system. #

Benguet urges NCIP to define IPO representation

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, people by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet urges the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to properly identify the indigenous peoples organizations (IPO) to solely represent a community or ancestral domain in the free prior and informed consent process (FPIC).

Benguet Vice Governor Crescencio Pacalso said clearer guidelines for the selection of IPOs would help in the conduct of the FPIC. He added that this would make the NCIP’s job easier because they would be talking to just one group instead of having to consult several organizations.

Pacalso suggested that existing council of elders in indigenous territories should be the sole representatives of communities. He said the decision of the council of elders would surely be based on the prevailing community sentiment.

“I believe that the council of elders will make wise decisions based on the position of the majority of community folk,” the vice governor added.

Pacalso explained that in every community there will always be more than one organization with opposing views. He also mentioned that in some cases the NCIP consults with families or clans. He particularly mentioned the case of Bokod where two consultations were conducted with two different groups and with different positions.

“The consultations yielded two different positions because the first group was those who are against the mining exploration while the second group are those in favor. Instances like this would be avoided if the NCIP identifies just one organization to represent the whole domain (community),” he stressed.

The vice governor said that a resolution has been passed in the Benguet provincial board asking the NCIP to create clear guidelines for the selection of IPOs to represent communities. The said resolution is still under study.

According to Republic Act 1703 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, Definition of Terms, FPIC is “Free and Prior Informed Consent – as used in this Act shall mean the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to; be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community.” #

CPA challenges Asian youth vs climate change

November 11, 2010 in environment, international by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — On the opening program of the climate youth camp 2010 hosted by the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN) here on November 3, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) challenged participants to aggressively campaign against the climate crisis.

In his keynote address, Benedict Solang of the CPA advisory council said on the theme of the youth camp, “youth leading with conviction in the climate crisis campaign” requires a common understanding: of indigenous peoples (IP) and the climate crisis; of genuine development and the IP struggle for self determination, and the role of the youth in the face of climate crisis and challenges in advancing IP struggles; and other indigenous peoples concerns.

IPs and climate crisis

According to Solang, the climate crisis highlights the struggles of IPs against development aggression and plunder of their lands and resources. These struggles he said had been branded as “anti development” by the capitalist system and subservient governments who pushed for large scale mining, mega dams logging, mono crop plantation economy, oil projects and other development projects that he said had exploited and ravaged natural resources.

“IPs are one with the land, and they are stewards to the earth’s bio diversities,” Solang said. The climate crisis he said has shown after all that IPs should be supported in their sound and responsible management and nurture of land and resources. This stewardship he added is ingrained in indigenous socio political systems, indigenous knowledge and cultural values.

Moreover, he said responsible stewarship is also seen in the people based, and pro environment systems, values and lifestyle of IPs that have high concern for the welfare of the future generations. These kind of stewardship he said should be strengthened and popularized.

IPs, Solang added should be compensated for being effective stewards of the environment. However, the social systems and aspirations of IPs are anathema to what he called wasteful profit and individual centered nature of the capitalist system.

He told the delegates that the dominant capitalist governments continue to do business and reap profits in the midst of the climate crisis. Instead of directly cutting their energy consumption towards reduced carbon emissions, he said the multinational corporations and subservient governments push for elaborate market based solutions.

Genuine development and self determination

Solang explained that the right to self determination is the right to decide on the social, cultural, political and economic life.This includes, he said “genuine development” of social services and economic aspects like livelihood in forestry, agriculture, fishing, industries, services, and others.

He added that this is linked with the cultural and political aspects of self determination, whether the goal is cultural like language, religion, etc., and politics such as self governance and regional autonomy.

Genuine socio economic development, according to him, embodies the people’s priorities, done at their own pace, and with their full participation. He stressed that there should be access to information from the local to international levels, equal oppotunities for all sectors with special concerns for women, and capacity building with stress on youth empowerment.

Solang further said that in order to achieve genuine development in today’s situation where the market based economy is persisting, the campaign on organic sustainable agriculture against chemical fertilizer and pesticide dependent high yielding crops, shoud be sustained.

Moreover, he said appropriate technologies for agriculture, and village energy are necessary. All this he said will contribute towards meeting the present basic need of building self reliance, and advancing socio economic development that the people control and they truly have ownership of.

The core of genuine development then for IPs according to Solang is the ancestral land and resources which they militantly defended, responsibly managed, and carefully nurtured. “Indeed, land is life,” he stressed. Thus, he said IPs are opposing destructive projects such as large scale mining, mega dams and others.

The role of IP youth

Solang then challenged the youth to really lead the campaign of climate crisis with conviction. “You are in the prime of life with all the positive attributes of youthfulness, energy and time, literacy relatively easy to learn, and open to ideas with aspirations or dreams,” he said.

Solang added that youth has the historical role in the survival and continuity of IPs. He likened the youth to the traditional warriors or the mengor in the Codillera. He further challenged them by saying that they are the 21st cetury organizers and campaign activists and the ones who will continue to defend the land, life and resources.

He also said, the youth are channels in the unbroken transfer of knowledge from elders and who will eventually become elders in the future.

He further challenged them by sharing the words of wisdom from a Bontoc peacepact holder and opposition leader against the Chico dams and Martial law, Ama Mangatam. Mangatam according to Solang has a very high regard for the youth and the role of youth in IP struggles.

“You, our children, youth activists have taught us a lot and widened our world view. Now, we relate our ili to the Cordillera, to our country and even with other peoples overseas. Together, we continue to unite on our struggles and the future of our society, Ama Mangatam once said in a tribal peacepact renewal celebration.” Solang stated.

Solang continued that with international activities like the youth camp, peoples’ solidarity is strenghtened; unity for the promotion of IP rights towards genuine development and self determination is built. #

3 soldiers killed in Abra ambush

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, Featured, insurgency by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Three troopers of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were killed and five wounded in an ambush carried out by New People’s Army-Abra guerillas on October 30 along the Abra-Kalinga Road at Barangay Bonglo-Lengas, Baay-Licuan, Abra.

According to reports released to the media, NPA fighters of the Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC-NPA-Abra) engaged the soldiers aboard a vehicle in a firefight at around 5:00 AM. The ambush was a few minutes away from the 503rd Brigade Headquarters at Barbarit, and the Bacooc Patrol Base in Lagangilang, the Bituen Patrol Base and the Advance Command Post (ACP) of the 41st IB in Bakiro, Baay-Licuan.

The NPA took with them two M16 rifles, one M60 machinegun, some documents and logistics.

In a press release issued by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PRO-Cordillera) in Camp Bado Dangwa, Benguet, said army troopers belonging to the 41st IB led by a certain Corporal Gonzales on board a KM450 truck had just pulled out from a route security check at Grid Coordinate (GC) – 707502 when they were fired at by an undetermined number of NPA guerillas.

The release identified the soldiers killed as PFC Philip C Balongay, PFC Onofre T Doca and PFC Joel S Suria, their remains were brought to the Baquiran Funeral Homes, in Bangued Abra. The wounded personnel were identified as CPL William Gonzales, PFC Ronald E Siazon and PFC Eulogio I. Mangano, PFC Joey M Balmes, PVT Celso P Kelang. They were brought to the Bangued Provincial Hospital for treatment.

PRO-Cordillera added that around 6:30 AM, reinforcement troops led by Captain Tayaban and 1st LT Capoquian on board of KM450 truck and a V150 armoured vehicle on their way to the encounter site were also fired on by another group of NPA revolutionaries along Barangay Bunglo, Licuan Baay, Abra.

The ABC-NPA statement said, “With the intensification of Internal Security Operations since 2008, the 41st IB has been conducting special operation campaigns in the towns of Lacub, Malibcong, Baay-Licuan, and Sallapadan; it is also involved in joint operations with the 50th IB in Boliney and Tubo.

Tinggian communities have been terrorized with indiscriminate bombings, machinegun straffing, illegal arrests and detention, torture, and murder.

Day Care centers, barangay halls, and homes were used as barracks by 41st IB soldiers in their special operations. Witchhunting is common, civilian mobility and travel were restricted, and agricultural production and small scale mining were hampered.

Womanizing, drunkeness, brawls, and other forms of decadent and public disturbance abound where soldiers of the 41st IB operated,” ABC stated.

The statement added that the 41st IB was also punished for serving as security escorts and mouthpiece for big mining companies. The Province of Abra will be prioritized in counter-insurgency operations because of mining interests in the province as announced by then Secretary of Defense Gilbert Teodoro in 2008.

After this announcement, ABC said the 41st IB immediately deployed troopers to areas where there are approved mining permits and pending mining applications. Municipalities of Tineg, Lacub, Baay-Licuan, Sallapadan, Daguioman, Malibcong, Tubo and Bucloc are covered by the said approved mining permits and pending mining applicatons. The ABC said it is no wonder these places are heavily militarized.

To date, there are around 36 mining applications in Abra filed at the office of the Mines and Geosciences Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR). Mining companies like Rio Dorado, Olympus-Pacific, Sulfotara, Magdaleno/Miguel M.Peña, Abra Mining Industrial Company and the Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. (CEXI) have been issued mining permits by the MGB-DENR under questionable processes of getting the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the communities affected.

The statement said that the latest tactical offensive of the NPA-Abra shows the heightened fighting will a manifestation of the resolve of the revolutionary movement fighting alongside the Abra people against plunderers and land grabbers of their ancestral and agricultural land, large-scale destroyers of the environment and as well as human rights violators.

“Afterall, the ambush near the 503rd Brigade HQ, the ACP of the 41st IB, and 2 Patrol Bases, would not have succeeded if the people are not supportive of the NPA. As history has shown, the people of Abra will unite, in the tradition of the anti-CRC (Cellophil Resources Company) struggle, against common enemies. And the true people’s army, the NPA, will be one with them in this historic fight!” ended the statement. #

CPA stands firm on 3rd Cordillera Organic Act

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, politics by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) has officially issued its stand on the drafting of 3rd Organic Act being pushed by the Regional Development Council (RDC) and supported by some government officials as another misrepresentation of the Cordillera peoples aspirations.

During the study conference of the CPA on genuine regional autonomy and self-determination, the progressive indigenous peoples organization declined to accept the invitation of the committee charged to draft the organic act chaired by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

It was remembered that CPA was the first to popularize regional autonomy as an expression of the right to self-determination in the Cordillera in the 1980s. However, “different interests rode on the popularity of the campaign and sequestered it for their use”.

On the Organic Act and the enabling law that would have created the Cordillera autonomous region approved by Congress in 1987, CPA said the organic act “did not embody the substance of self-governance and indigenous peoples’ control over their resources.” Thus, the CPA called for its rejection which was supported by the people in a plebiscite held on this law.

In the study, CPA representatives have agreed that “regional autonomy” has been used by traditional politicians for their vested interests. Thus, they are firm and continue to uphold their stand that the “government’s regional autonomy” is not genuine.

CPA called the 3rd Organic Act another bogus version of autonomy especially that the same traditional politicians are involved in working the document.

CPA said that “There would be genuine regional autonomy for the Cordillera if it manifests the processes and principles for self-governance and gives full control to the people to their land and resources.”

Windel Bolinget, CPA chairperson, told this reporter earlier that CPA together with the people of Cordillera will always reject the bogus autonomy by the traditional politicians. “It will never served the interest of the people,” he iterated.

In the said study conference attended by different IP leaders and organizations in the Cordillera on October 27, they reviewed the basic problems faced by Cordillera society and reconfirmed that national oppression as a particular problem directed at Ips.

The study meeting also reviewed the alliance’s long experience in the campaign for the recognition of indigenous peoples rights and studied significant events in the Cordillera struggle for genuine regional autonomy.

Meanwhile, Domogan said during his Ugnayang Panglungsod, on October 20, that their time table to finish the working document is before the end of this year. He told the press that for them to have sufficient time to inform the public on the regional autonomy they hope that the draft of the 3rd organic act will be signed by 2011. He added that the autonomy law should be based on the five basic guidelines or principles they have set.

On the other hand, Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat said there is a need to review the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) or an act recognizing, protecting and promoting the rights of the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous people.

Strengthening IPRA first and implementing it the right way could be best preparation for the region for autonomy, Baguilat said. #

Only 4 watersheds left in Baguio — BWD

November 11, 2010 in Baguio City, forestry by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Baguio Water Distric (BWD) watershed officer Joel Wadwadan told media that the city draws its water supply now from only four watersheds.

Engineer Salvador Royeca, assistant manager of BWD, said that the watershed produces lesser water now compared to the needs of the city’s people.

Wadwadan said that the city used to have 7 major watersheds: John Hay, Sto.Tomas, Busol, Buyog, Camp 8, Lucnab and Crystal Cave. However, according to Wadwadan, the BWD is able to draw water only from areas in Sto. Tomas, Busol, Buyog and Camp 8. He said that they were forced to abandon the watershed area in Crystal Cave because it is now totally occupied by residences.

This is in relation to what Royeca said that because of the lesser produce from the watersheds, the gap in rationing water in the city is becoming bigger. He said that Busol watershed now produces 50,000 to 55, 000 thousand cubic meters and could decline more if the reservation is not protected. He added that the human activities in areas near water reservations contributed to the poor quality of the water although he said Busol still produces good quality of water.

Royeca said that the BWD is willing to fence the water reservation. Erdolfo Balajadia, chair of the Baguio Regreening Movement, said that that there is a P3.5 million stand by fund for the purpose of fencing Busol. He addded that the BWD approved to give additional P3.5 million for the project.

Moreover, the recharging rate is slower in Busol. “We are utilizing energy to extract water underground to replace what had gone to our open sources,” he said. He explained that the more demand in water the more shortage in supply.

In addition, secretary of BRM Dr Julie Cabato emphasized during the Kapihan here the importance of protecting the water reservations and said “there is no substitute for water, even coca-cola cannot take the place of water.” #

Benguet dads urge farmers to organize

November 11, 2010 in agriculture, Cordillera by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — In its efforts to realize a long term plan to harmonize agricultural production and market demand, the Benguet provincial government urges farmers to organize themselves.

Benguet Governor Nestor B. Fongwan iterated that there is a need to program the production of temperate vegetables in the province to suit the needs of the market. He said farmers should assign among themselves what vegetable and how much of it should they produce based on the market demand.

“We should only produce what the market can absorb. If the market demands 10 tons of cabbage then we should produce only that because the extra ton will pull the price down,” he stressed.

Fongwan explained that at present there is an overproduction of certain vegetables and underproduction of some because farmers are not guided by the market demand. He added that the farmers should be in direct contact with suppliers especially the high end market so that they will know how much to produce.

“The government’s role is to link the farmers with the high end market and to organize the farmers into market cooperatives for direct transaction with the suppliers,” the governor said. He further said the farmers will be able to negotiate the price of their produce directly with the suppliers.

The governor also explained that at present the traders or middlemen are the ones negotiating in behalf of the farmers. “With the current set up, the traders or middlemen could manipulate the prices to the disadvantage of the farmers,” he said.

Fongwan disclosed that provincial government already launched a continuing information campaign on the said program.

Meanwhile, Fongwan invites everyone to join the public to the celebration Benguet’s 110th foundation anniversary through their annual Adivay. He said information dissemination on the said program will also be part of the celebrations. #

Abalos suggests strategic study on Busol watersheds

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, environment, land rights by emendator


BAGUIO CITY – In the Kapihan forum hosted by the Baguio Water District (BWD) here, November 4, La Trinidad Mayor Greg Abalos suggests to make a strategic study on Busol watershed to develop a holistic approach at solving the problems connected to it.

Abalos said that there should be strategic study of the Busol watershed to consider the different issues especially of the ancestral land claims of the inhabitants in the area. “ We also want to consider the culture, customs and traditions of the people to have a holistic approach to solve the problem,” he iterated.

But Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional director Clarence Baguilat said that the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) overtaken by the urge to displace the people in the Busol reservation. He said that there should be no development in the area and if possible all cleared. “It should not be the subject of human development and settlement, it should be seen as a forest reserve,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abalos said LT wants to work hand in hand with the city of Baguio to solve the issues in the Busol watershed. La Trinidad covers 224 hectares in Busol and 112 hectares in the city of Baguio.

Earlier, Baguio City issued a demolition order after the Supreme Court denied the motion for reconsideration of the house owners for their eviction in Busol watershed reservation. However, Erdolfo Balajadia, chair of the Baguio Re greening Movement (BRM), said that in the 33 houses as objects of demolition order some are on reconstructing. BRM together with the DENR said the city should make efforts to clear the settlers in Busol. According to them, the contamination of the water from the watershed is caused by human activities of these settlers.

The 112 hectares which Baguio covers in Busol watershed reservation supplies 25% of water needs thru 8,000 connections to 50,000 population of 11 areas in the city. These are the Aurora Hill, Trancoville, Leona Hill, Pacdal, M.Roxas, Rimando Road, Gibraltar, Outlook and Ambuklao Road.

On the other hand, according to Abalos almost half on the La Trinidad Busol was covered by settlers and greenhouses. He told the media that LT will create its own re greening movement to focus on Busol and added that with the governor of Benguet, they are considering fencing the area.

Abalos explained that the inhabitants in the watershed were given humanitarian considerations to their electricity connections but said that the constructing houses now will not be given any considerations regarding to this.

Busol was declared as forest reserve on August 22, 1922 under colonial Proclamation 15. From this, the area is excluded from any settlement.# >

Dads bat for mining moratorium in Benguet

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera, mining by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — A proposed ordinance imposing a 25 year moratorium on large scale mining in the province was filed by its co-authors provincial board members Bernard Waclin and Johnny Waguis during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session on November 3.

In the proposed ordinance, it was recognized that there is a strong and growing public rejection to pending applications for mining permits. Examples cited include the rejection of Bokod folk to the exploration project of Magellan Mining Corporation and the vocal opposition of the people of Bakun and Kibungan to mining exploration application projects of Royalco Philippines Incorporated, Da Gama Minerals Incorporated and Gamban Mining and Development Corporation.

The driving reason for the rejection cited in the proposed ordinance is to protect, conserve and preserve the remaining natural resources of the province not only for the sake of the present generation but most specially for the future generations. The authors agreed, this to be the measure for the protection, conservation and preservation of the said remaining natural resources.

This ordinance will suspend for a period of 25 years all mining exploration, feasibility, development and utilization projects over areas of more than 100 hectares. However, mining rights that are already existing prior to the effectivity of this ordinance shall be subjected to existing laws, rules and regulations.

“These mining rights shall be recognized and respected,” the ordinance read. Waguis specified the said mining rights to Philex Mining Company (PMC), Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) and to Benguet Corporation.

Moreover, penalties for those business entities or persons who are caught violating this ordinance were also included. An imprisonment of not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding to P5,000 will be imposed. It can also be both imprisonment and a fine at the discretion of the court and confiscation and forfeiture of their equipment.

It further stated that a task force shall be created by governor Nestor Fongwan through an executive order to ensure that this ordinance shall be strictly implemented.

On the other hand, governor Fongwan in an interview said mining applications should be reviewed on a case to case basis. According to him, applications for mining exploration or operation can be approved as long as the communities affected register their informed consent for it.

He added that there are areas in the province that cannot be utilized for agriculture therefore he said, mining can be an alternative source of livelihood.

He iterated that as long as the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process is conducted properly and the mining application will not adversely destroy the environment, there will be no problem. #

Dimalanta receives Papal knighthood

November 11, 2010 in Baguio City, Featured, people by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Prominent Baguio religious and civic leader Johnnie Dimalanta was installed Knight of Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester during the mass last Oct. 30 at the Baguio Cathedral.

KNIGHTHOOD. Civic and religious leader Johnnie Dimalanta gets a congratulatory pose with Bishop Carlito Cenzon who represented Pope Benedict XVI in bestowing on the Baguio boy the Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester during the mass last Oct. 30 at the Baguio Cathedral. Photo courtsey of Angel Villaralvo

Bishop Carlito Cenzon of Baguio acted in behalf of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI who conferred on Esquire Johnnie Dimalanta the Papal Knighthood last April 20.

The Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester, pope and martyr of the 4th century, is a church institution created on Oct. 31, 1841 by Pope Gregory XVI with his Papal Brief entitled “Quo Hominem Mentes,”

The honor is bestowed on lay persons for outstanding, consistent and enduring involvement in the life and mission of the church, who express and exemplify this in the exercise of their profession and mastership of the different arts.

Among the recipients of the honor were Bob Hope, a Japanese envoy to the Holy See Ken Harada, Guam Gov. Joseph Flores and then Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Leonida Laki Vera.

Dimalanta, from the parish of the Immaculate Conception, Aurora Hill, is the first from the Cordillera to be so honored.

Dimalanta, now 88, is married to Dr. Irene Dimalanta, with whom he has four children: Maria Mita Angela, Francis Xavier Daniel Anne Marie and Edmund Gregory, and three grandchildren: Katrina Isabel, Gabriel Ignacio and Jaime Agustin.

Dimalanta started out as an altar boy at the Baguio Cathedral. His love for the mass and his consistency and reliability to show up for service faithfully carried on into adulthood.

He became a member of the Knights of Columbus and a leader of different church organizations such as the Holy Name Society, Cursillo, the Lay Ministers of the Holy Communion. He was a charter organizer, president, board member of the Baguio Red Cross, the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Apaches, Jaycees, the Supermarkets and Groceries Association, Personnel Management Association of the Philippines and the Hotel and Restaurant Association.

He lives by the motto: “Give your all to God and to life”. #

Baguio Roundup: Oct. 31 to Nov. 6, 2010

November 11, 2010 in Baguio City by emendator

STL public hearing reset

BAGUIO CITY — The public hearing on the proposals to operate Small Town Lottery (STL) outlets here has been reset to November 10, 2PM at the Sangguniang Panlungsod session hall. Originally set for October 15 it was cancelled due to typhoon “Juan.” Richard Carino, chairman of the committee on laws, said the hearing aims to gauge the pulse of the public on the issue and guide the body on what action to take.

There are four new applications raising the number of proposals to 12. The new applicants are: the Saskia Royale Corporation , Pine Estate and Gaming, Logistics Pointers Trading and Management Corporation and Golden Sun Gaming Corporation; Paul the Montanosa Tribal Leisure and Gaming Corporation; Halls Entertainment Inc.; Southern Cocoland Holdings and Gaming Corporation; Batangas Enhanced Technology Systems Inc.; PWF Gaming and Lottery Corp.; Trivectra Corp.; Technological Partners Management and Enterprise Inc.; and Lipa Everbest Inc.#

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Suspension of zoning exemptions urged

BAGUIO CITY — Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr. is urging Mayor Mauricio Domogan to temporarily suspend the grant of zoning exemptions in the city while the city is in the process of updating the Comprehensive City Land Use Plan (CLUP). Cosalan stressed that the city’s Zoning Ordinance that allows the grant of exceptions, variances or deviations “is based on the CLUP which provides for the districting of areas in the city for certain uses to harness development or construction activities, maintain urban order and to sustain the character the city is known for.”

However, the CLUP is currently undergoing updating as the same has already outlived its set schedule of implementation and its effectivity until 30 March 2010.” Cosalan said the because of this, it is imperative that the city implement a temporary moratorium on the acceptance and processing of applications for exemptions, variances or deviations from the Zoning Ordinance pending the finalization of the updated CLUP “to avoid or minimize the proliferation of non-conforming uses and structures, that may cause inconsistencies of zoning/land use in the new CLUP.” #

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MGD designates NPC’s for barangays

BAGUIO CITY — Mayor Mauricio Domogan this week signed Administrative Order No. 163 enhancing the implementation of the Barangay Nutrition Scholar Program (BNSP) and designating the city’s Nutrition Program Coordinator (CNPC) and District Nutrition Program Coordinators (DNPC). This in line with Presidential Decree No. 1569 which “strengthens the barangay nutrition program by providing a barangay nutrition scholar in every barangay.”

The Nutrition Program of the city is undertaken by the nutrition personnel of the Nutrition Office under the Health Services Department composed of 1 Nutrition Officer and 13 full time Community Nutrition Coordinators or Day Care Workers. Presently, there are at least 136 BNS covering all barangays in the city. #

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Tramline transport for the City

BAGUIO CITY — In a meeting last week with transport groups and drivers, mayor Mauricio Domogan intimated plans to set up a tramline or cable cars to ply the Central Business District (CBD) with base at Camp John Hay. The CBD would be a promenade area once the tramline is in place, he said. He added the tramline is conceptualized to serve not only the city but the BLISTT (Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay) area as a whole. Other alternative routes within the area would also be looked into. #

Cordillera This Week: Oct. 31 to Nov. 6, 2010

November 11, 2010 in Cordillera by emendator

VP Binay adopted son of Bucay
By Maritess Beñas/PIA-Abra

BUCAY, Abra — Mayor Victorino Baroña, Jr officially declared the adoption of Vice President Jejomar Binay as a “Son of Bucay” during the town fiesta  last October 30 where  the Vice President was the honored guest and speaker.  The declaration is by  virtue of a municipal resolution “adopting VP Binay was made in grateful appreciation for his generous and unparalleled support to the municipality since Bucay became a sister municipality of the City of Makati”.

In his message before luncheon with the people of Bucay, Binay impressed upon  his audience the value of being prepared.  As a Boy Scout to the fullest sense, with the motto “Laging Handa” (Be Prepared) he challenged the local chief executives to put up housing projects so that when typhoon victims are rendered homeless, they have somewhere to go instead of bringing them to an evacuation center where all kinds of health and economic problems confront them. #

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Bioengineering answer to landslide prone areas?

MANKAYAN, Benguet — Bio-engineering technology may yet be the solution to the recurring problem on landslide prone areas such as the province and the Cordillera Region as a whole. This technology combines the use of grass, shrubs and trees to control soil erosion and maintain soil stability.

House Committee Chair on Public Works Congressman Ronald Cosalan stressed in an  earlier meeting here  of the Infrastructure Monitoring Advisory Group (IMAG) for the Cervantes-Mankayan-Abatan road project  that bio-engineering is now a requirement in road construction projects. He added that this is a must for national roads but admitted that the technology has not yet been tried in the region and requires further study. #

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Kalinga child growth standard seminar
By GG Dumallig/PIA-Kalinga

TABUK, Kalinga — In line with the adoption of the World Health Organization-Child Growth Standards (WHO-CGS) to assess the nutritional status of children with ages 0-5 years old, the provincial government here held a seminar for some 60 midwives from the eight municipalities of  the province. Provincial Health Office Nutritionist Frances Sebastian said that the activity aims to update the province’s health providers involved in supervising the measurement and assessment of children’s growth on the implementation of WHO-CGS. She added that being the ones directly involve with the mothers and the babies, midwives should be trained on gathering and interpreting data on growth indicators.

The WHO-CGS  was developed as a world-wide standard measure to reduce death and disease in infants and children and provide parents, doctors, health workers including policymakers to know and understand the healthcare needs of children and to detect and address at an early stage growth-related conditions of their children providing them better chance to develop normally. This program, Sebastian  said uses breastfeeding as a normative growth model to evaluate the physiological, nutritional status and motor development of children. The new standards also proved that the differences in children’s growth are more influenced by nutrition, feeding practices, environment, and healthcare rather than genetics or ethnicity. #

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Dog meat seized in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — More than 200 kilograms of dog meat were seized by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group(CIDG) last Friday morning at the Dangwa Terminal, Kagitingan Barangay. According to Police Chief Inspector Jun Rodriguez of CIDG Baguio, at around 5:00AM Friday, the operatives spotted a white Tamaraw FX where five individuals were getting sacks to deliver at a local restaurant in the area. The sacks content according to Rodriguez were dog meat and carcasses.

In the police investigation, the dog meat came from a slaughter house in Pangasinan for local restaurants serving dog meat in the city and in La Trinidad. The seized contraband will be turned over to the National Meat Inspection Service for disinfection before burying. The five men including the driver will be facing charges of Republic Act 8485 or the Anti Rabies Law, Animal Welfare Act of 2006 and Consumer Welfare Act. #

Editorial: Obama and PNoy in the same boat?

November 11, 2010 in editorials, opinion by emendator

After the Obama administration suffered a huge setback in the recently concluded US midterm elections, some pundits have advanced the idea that a similar fate awaits the PNoy administration: a midterm repudiation by the electorate. Their basis for such a projection hinged primarily on the fact that the two presidents campaigned on a platform of change and, so far, both have failed to deliver.

But a Malacanang spokesperson was quick to dismiss such comparison as premature claiming, among other things, that the situation obtaining in the two countries are vastly different. Aside from the fact that the American economy continues to reel from the effect of the financial crisis, the Philippine economy has proven more resilient, registering modest growth during this global recession. Besides, she pointed out that Obama has already spent two years in office while PNoy has just completed his first 100 days in office or a little over three months.

In short, there is no reason why the citizens of this country would reject the Aquino administration as shown by the continuing high popularity rating of PNoy.

But a well-known think thank, the Pacific Strategies and Assessments (PSA) has projected that it is just a matter of time before the PNoy administration starts to falter in its agenda for change. They base their estimate in the less than laudable handling of the August 23 hostage crisis where 8 HongKong tourists were killed and the ineptness of the Aquino administration in crisis situation was displayed in all its inadequacies.

While a single incident as dramatic as the hostage situation may not be enough to judge the capacity of the current administration to lead this country, PSA pointed out the huge challenges that a reformist government will have to confront for it to succeed.

For one, there is the deeply entrenched political elite that continues to exercise dominance in the political economy of the country, defying time and again efforts to restrain or contain their long-running influence, if not control, of the country’s politics and economy.
These are the trapos who are able to reinvent themselves from one crisis to another thus allowing dynastic rule for generations to prosper. The system that has breed and posted them into power is the same that has brought PNoy to Malacanang, so we expect very little from PNoy to dismantle a system that favors a few at the expense of the nation and the majority of the people.

Thus, real change would not really be forthcoming during PNoy’s term in office. Like Obama, he has learned that high-sounding rhetoric can move people to support you, even if in the end you really do not deliver on your promises. What matters is you get yourself into power and look after the interest of your clan or family as in the case of the Hacienda Luisita issue.

Meanwhile, a well-oiled media team is needed to blunt any serious criticism of the PNoy administration and to promote the illusory hope that change is forthcoming even if the realities on the ground show otherwise. A friendly mass media network like during the elections would be helpful in maintaining this illusion.

But like the American electorate, the Filipinos can also see through the pretensions and realities of politicians of all stripes. And like the Americans, the Filipinos have no real choice among the leading political parties in the country today as they are all in the hands of the trapos.

The American Republicans may have their tea-partyers, but they do not really inspire confidence among those really looking for meaningful change in the country’s political life. At most they are at the fringe of the American conservative right that suffers from the impact of the deepening financial and economic crisis America is going through now.

The Tea Party is a curious, but irrelevant experience as far was we are concerned. They may be able to put some people into power; but can they really provide the solutions the American people are clamoring for? #

Advocate’s Overview: Farewell to our batchmate: William A. Comicho

November 11, 2010 in columns, opinion by emendator


“Amid untold of beauties highest hills,
And gardens work of loving hearts and hand,
Upon the mountains high in mystic glory
Upon the rocky slopes Saint Mary’s stands………”

This hymn of Saint Mary’s School reverberated in the air on the night of October 25. It was sung by city based members of SMS batch ’82 on that last night wake of manong William A. Comicho, 51 years old. It was our way of saying farewell to him, as agreed earlier. We sung it almost perfectly, because our ladies, Beatrice Calangad Chumapoy and Beatrice Bayang Gumabay sung the hymn with feelings, as if they had practiced it for days to perfection. Aside from the Beatrices, Gary Pekas, Lloyd Ngina, Monico Asitan, Michael Umaming, Antonio Lalwet and myself delivered our farewell message through that hymn. The audience were impressed and as a result requested us to sing it again. We, instead, begged for another song. Hence the “Aud Lang Syne” as our next song which failed to get an impressing reaction like that of the Saint Mary’s hymn. The hymn, I believe, had a sentimental effect among the audience who are mostly from Bontoc and Sagada.

Before the hymn, we reminisced with those present the best moments shared with manong William. Most remembered about him was his role as an elder brother. He was five to six years older than his batchmates, he never abused that moral authority entrusted to an older brother and the position he was traditionally entitled too. Take for instance the Citizens Army Training (CAT) where he was a platoon leader. He never punished any of the trainees under him despite their intentional and conspiring not to follow their officers’ commands. He remained cool unlike the highest CAT officer who gave up and left the trainees in exasperation because of their hard headedness.

Manong William was most remembered by our batch as sportsminded. His free time was spent on his favorite basketball games. As long as he had a ball in hand, he would be in the court playing, shared Gary to the audience. But this guy was a dancer too. He got a patented move: his toes – the right first then the left -touch the ground and then with the rhytmn of modern music slowly swing his body up, his hands up clapping or his thumbs and forefingers producing sounds, and his eyes seductively stucked on his partner.

From his Kiltepan peers, we learned from him how to determine whether an indigenous artifact is real antique or not. We thought after all that an antique artifact is full of soot but he corrected such misconception by sharing tips at identifying real antiques. It was infact from his involvement in the antiques business that he dropped out of school education but later decided to join us in our batch.

Manong William failed to continue to college education. After our SMS graduation, he and manang Dalingding Latawan decided to establish their family. He continued his antiques business while supervising his public utility jeepney when he decided to give up driving. His wife worked for 19 years, if my memory is right, as a nurse in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

William is survived by his wife, five children, and 3 grandchildren. His father originated from Bontoc while his mother who was from Tetep-an. Both his parents passed away when he was teenager.

To Manong William, we say farewell. Your SMS batch 82 will remember you. #

Daang Tuw’d: Will RDC accept Baguilat’s suggestion on corporate mining?

November 11, 2010 in columns, opinion by emendator


Congressman Teodoro Baguilat of Ifugao suggested to the Regional Development Council (RDC) to make a declaration against corporate or large-scale mining saying it is not environment friendly and it is contrary to the RDC vision of making Cordillera the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon. Baguilat said he already filed a resolution in Congress to put a moratorium in the region on the activities of large-scale mining, which accordingly has filed Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to almost the whole of the region.

Baguilat’s move should heighten the debate on corporate mining, which actually had been resolved in various communities of the region if only the corporate mines can forget the luster of the gold and respect the people’s decisions.

I am more interested how the RDC will respond to Baguilat’s challenge. With all its inutileness, it can probably contribute its influence given that it counts among its members all governors of the region, some mayors, and regional directors of government line agencies (most can choose to ignore the RDC).

I am curious what RDC would tell the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which incidentally is headed by Clarence Baguilat, a cousin of the congressman and a geologist who rose from MGB.

Already, MGB was forced to come up with a press statement about a memorandum from its head office to ignore anti-corporate mining resolutions and ordinances by Local Government Units (LGU). The memorandum could not have gone public if Congressman Baguilat did not create ripples.

But how exactly had the RDC been behaving on the issue of corporate mining at least before congressman Baguilat entered Congress? I gathered the following information:

• There was no extensive discussion on corporate mining at the RDC full council. Only the committee on Indigenous People’s Concerns (IPC) did, which asked the MGB to present its program on mining. With the IPC position later, it was obvious MGB was not able to make a positive impression even on a government committee.

• A member of IPC revealed that the committee came up with a position on corporate mining similar to that of Baguilat’s documents. That position got lost in the final official document.

In support to Baguilat’s position, the IPC should look into what happened to its position on mining. Baguilat should also try to make contact with members of IPC who share his sentiment.

• There used to be a chapter in the earlier draft of the Regional Development Plan (RDP) on making the region a mineral producer. The RDP is prepared by RDC through its secretariat the NEDA-CAR. The NORDIS story pointed out that this portion was deleted in deference to the strong anti-corporate mining sentiment of the people.

• There were other discussions at the committee level particularly on small scale mining vs. large scale mining. The discussion is usually very much in favor of large scale mining and a chance to pounce on a weak industry as dangerous, unregulated, and small-scale miners not paying taxes (While these maybe true, they miss the point of why government is not regulating small scale mining to make it safer, less tedious and more productive and thus more taxes?).

• There were anti-corporate mining sentiments by some RDC officials especially with the campaign on regional autonomy like the mines are paying more to Makati and leaves very little to the communities where their activities are being done.

• The RDC repeatedly stated a safe and naïve position on mining. For as long as it is responsible – meaning it passed an environmental impact assessment by the DENR and the Free and Prior Informed Consent of the NCIP. However, it never really cited an example of a mining company in the region that it can call responsible.

• The RDC are like the three monkeys who hear nothing, see nothing and speak nothing on community issues against corporate mining. It heard nothing, saw nothing and spoke nothing on the issue of Gambang, Bakun, Benguet against the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Royalco Philippines Mining Incorporation even if the issue reached a point where the people of Gambang traveled all the way to the city to air their grievances.

But let me dream on and wish that RDC would indeed follow Baguilat’s suggestion followed by that feeling of “dyahe naman, kailangan kong maging totoo sa aking mga binibitiwang prinsipyo.” The first is its vision of a Cordillera as watershed cradle of Northern Luzon which Baguilat already pointed out. The second is RDC being today’s leading proponent of Cordillera Regional Autonomy. #

From Under This Hat: Ibaloy head hunters

November 11, 2010 in columns, opinion by emendator


This was the first time I heard of this practice, and my source hoped his memory is right when he said, “ Yes, I think it was it was called Tapiyo.” It would take sometime for me to reconfirm, at least to myself, that the ceremony he narrated about was practiced.

We were in a meeting and the topic was on the deteriorating cultural practices and traditions of the Ibaloys in Baguio. Then we came to the practice of head-hunting which is today more attributed to the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera than to any other peoples of the Philippines. We were noting the entry in one of the books of the late William Henry Scott about the peoples north of Manila before any colonizer landed in the country, were all described as practicing head-hunters.

One of the Ibaloy men in the group said, “Yes, even us, the Ibaloys, practiced it at that time, I believe we did because when I was very young I had an uncle who was central in the performance of the so-called tapiyo.”

He told us that as a young boy he witnessed the ritual (if it was a ritual) of satisfying the need to mangayaw (head hunt). From what he remembered, it was solemn and restricted and was attended only by the men of the village. He could not remember what was said in the prayer, the call, if there were gongs or even what was offered, as is usually done in other rituals still practiced today. But what was still clear in his memory until today were the several human like images made from the ativangdal (giant ferns) and the frenzy the men led by his uncle, went into in the middle of the ceremony, cutting off the round tops and beating down the ativangdal structures to the ground.

Shocked and surprised at the shouting and beating he was glad when food was served and whiled among the men participants his grand uncle mambunong (priest) told him that it was a head-hunting party ritual and they must now celebrate the successful hunt, give offering and express gratitude to the ancestors for the success. The old man also told him that they can now expect a good and bountiful harvest.

One other member in the meeting said, maybe the head hunting then was believed to be related to bountiful harvest, successful hunt, or fruitful mines making it necessary to our forefathers. The Baguio natives must have lost the practice earlier than the rest of the Cordillera because of the entry of the Spanish then American religions, etc. that is why there is no longer any memory or souvenir from that period of our history. The rest of us just smiled.

Shouldn’t one be proud? On one side, is a head-hunting Igorot great grand ancestor who goes head hunting before planting season, and on the other side, a Japanese samurai great grand ancestor who fought for the Tokugawa. #

Labor Watch: The benefit of aspiration

November 11, 2010 in columns, opinion by emendator


“The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only for itself but the whole society.” — Martin Luther King Jr. (Speech to the Illinois state convention AFL-CIO, Oct. 7, 1965)

The rank-and-file workers of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) are again facing a new disaster courtesy of their management’s effort to lessen the number of regular employees and replace them with contractual laborers. According to the Lepanto Mine Division of LCMCo, they are going to remove 140 workers effectively on November 15. As usual, as every employer does to justify the retrenchment of regular workers, they always find a reason to do so.

While the management says that they are removing their workers for inefficiency from whatever fault they based it on, the union has all the reason to say that the move of the company is part of their effort to weaken the union especially that seven of their officers (four elected and three appointed) are included in the retrenchment list.

Yes, imagine removing 123 regular workers who are entitled to accumulated benefits from their years of service and who have the right to enjoy their Social Security System (SSS) benefits; and in a way reducing the number of the members of the union aligned with Genuine, Militant and Nationalist Unionism. The retrenchment is but a way to lessen the hindrance to the continued accumulation of scandalous profits.

It is to the union members’ advantage that they agreed to file a Notice of Strike (NOS) to halt the retrenchment, hopefully. And it is a courageus move from the rank-and-file employees if a strong majority, if not all of them will take the option to strike once management refuses to concretely respond to their demands. And if they file their NOS, the National and Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and Employment (NCMB-DOLE) will call the two parties to talk and try to settle their issues. Issue of retrenchment, unfair labor practices, union-busting among many others.

But history of the Lepanto workers’ struggle tell the people that the miners gained their recognition from their determination to do what is right thing: to fight as one in the picket lines as needed. They can expect encouraging words and the support of their communities around the mine site as well as from the wider communities national or international. They can also heed an advise to sue the company for estafa for not remitting their SSS and for not paying them their full wage. That is a good advice though.

Still, the ball is in the hands of the workers themselves. As they survived more than three months of their strike in 2005, with the help of reliable allies of the working class, the peasants, and the support of the rest of the open-minded peoples of the world, they can withstand the consequences of whatever actions they choose to safeguard their rights and welfare.

In every step of the struggle of the Lepanto workers, is a noble and concrete contribution to the struggles of workers of the world and the nation as well. As said, they have nothing to lose but the chains of slavery. As said over and over, “Only when the workers of the world unite can they mold a better society.#

Weekly Reflections: Confession of a retired army colonel

November 11, 2010 in columns, opinion by emendator


“By means of his faith Abel still speaks even though he is dead.” — Hebrews 11:4

Remembering the dead

At the beginning of this week we’ve set aside at least two days to remember the dead and to fellowship with them in spirit and in truth. We do believe that death is not really the end but a beginning of a new life and that our dead loved ones are still very much with us and continue to speak to us through the living memories of the life they lived. The Book of Hebrews says, “By means of his faith Abel still speaks even though he is dead” (Heb. 11:4).

This faith can be meaningfully illustrated by the confession of a retired army colonel, Allan Sollano, as reported in the national dailies. Col. Sollano was the leader of the Army Explosive and Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit that rushed to the Glorietta Mall in response to the explosion on October 19, 2007 that killed 11 people and injured 100 others.

According to the report, Col. Sollano believed then as now that an improvised explosive device, and not a methane gas, had caused the blast. He said his belief was reinforced by a purported cover-up by the military and police leadership. The remark of a police investigator to him after his discovery that “no matter how large this bomb is, when Malacañang says it’s just a firecracker, it’s just a firecracker” the first sign that things were not going right.

The newspaper report further that about a year ago, Sollano was bedridden and sure that he would die soon due to a condition that caused bodily swelling and extreme pain in his joints and bones. He felt ill after he reluctantly signed the official statement saying that the blast was caused by a methane gas. Sollano said that he thought long and hard about the matter until he felt ill.

Sollano’s confession

Sollano confessed, “Maybe it was the souls of the dead who made me sick. I don’t know. Why was there a whitewash? There were lives lost. If we made our report, we would have said it was a high explosion. Any good EOD would know the difference between large and small explosions. I am 100 percent sure.”

After his deathbed confession before a priest on his birthday on August 1, 2009, Sollano recovered. He suddenly felt better. He claimed, “There must have been divine intervention. My sickness gave me the courage to say the truth in the open. Because I became a coward, I thought only of my family. I told my wife that I would stand by the truth.”

The dead speaking

The dead of the Glorietta blast speak with their innocent lives, and only a Sollano, a person with high moral conviction can hear such voice seeking for justice. Col. Sollano heard the voice of the innocent, but he was too coward and too selfish to respond to it. Yet, he could not escape from the truth. His moral conscience disturbed his inner self, and thus his physical self gave in.

What happened to Col. Sollano has material explanations, not only spiritual. Medical doctors talk about psychosomatic illnesses. These are diseases caused by inner tensions, emotional stress, and guilty conscience. Almost all the killer diseases, like cancers, heart ailments and high blood pressures, are psychosomatic illnesses. No wonder Col. Sollano recovered after he made confessions before a priest about what was deeply bothering him. No wonder we have cancer patients who would recover from their ailments after being prayed over.

Col. Sollano said that his call for a re-investigation of Glorietta blast was his chance to clear his name: “I want to face all of them who said I was a fake. I hope the case will be reopened so we can all be cleared about what happened, so all the doubts and lies told against me are cleared, so the truth in this part of our history comes out. Justice must be done for the victims. So we may know why they died.”

Indeed, it is our fervent hope and prayer that all the other colonels in the army who have been involved in one way or another in crimes against the people that have been whitewashed or covered up, to follow Col. Sollano’s example and make their own solemn confessions of the truth, before the pangs and horror of death overcome them. For like the Biblical Abel (Heb.11:4), innocent victims today, though they are dead, continue to speak to the living, seeking for truth and justice. #