Sadanga tribe opposes mine in communal forest

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, Featured, mining by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Standing firm on the community’s united decision and indigenous political systems in protecting their homeland, members of the Sadanga tribe of Mountain Province opposed the latest move of a mining company to explore parts of the virgin forest within their ancestral domain, which serves as the watersource for the ricefields and downstream Chico River.

On the other hand, officials of the local government units of Sadanga said that the mining applicant should consult them for them to know whether the people are infavor or against the said exploration project.

Officers and members of the Yumaa-Soysoyan of Sadanga Association Inc. (YUSSAI) filed on Thursday at the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) their opposition to Malibato Mining Company, Inc. exploration plan over their ancestral land.

Malibato had just advertised, in a local paper, its exploration application in compliance to requirement of MGB information to adverse claimants or oppositors to the said mineral application.

“We oppose because the target (exploration) area for Malibato covers the vast watershed of the municipality and the nearby towns, including the lowlands of Tabuk, Kalinga and Cagayan,” stated the YUSSAI position.

YUSSAI added that the area serves as the sources of fresh water for their communities and their rivers which provide water for their ricefields that had sustained them from the past up to the present.

“The same area is one of the remaining virgin forests in the Cordillera which is very rich in bio-diversity and forest resources,” pointed the YUSSAI position.

Meanwhile, Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said that the mining applicant Malibato should consult the stakeholders in the area first.

“They should consult the municipal, barangays, and the community residents. It is the (Sadanga) tribe that owns these lands so it is the tribe that should grant or deny the permit,” said Gangganan when reached for comment on Malibato’s proposed exploration.

Documents from the MGB-CAR showed that Malibato applied for an exploration permit, denominated as EXPA 062, over 2,025 hectares particularly located in barangays of Bekigan and Belwang, of Sadanga town. Gold and and copper are listed as the mineral materials targetted for exploration by Malibato, MGB records added.

Ignacio Pangket, YUSSAI secretary, said that the exploration covered areas are Tungil up to the Kamanlebeng, part of their forests and watersheds.

According to MGB-CAR documents, Malibato has two other applications for an exploration permit. Denominated as EXPA 064, this application covers 4,131 hectares over the municipalities of Sadanga and Besao, both of Mountain Province. EXPA 65, on the other hand, covers 11,158 hectares of lands in Tubo, Abra and Ilocos Sur. These lack area clearance, according to MGB-CAR records.

Like EXPA 062, the two EXPA target gold and copper as revealed by documents from the MGB-CAR.

A check on the regional and provincial offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) show that Malibato, in relation to its EXPA 062, had not yet processed the acquisition of a free, prior and informed consent from the Sadanga tribe.

“As far as I am concerned, being the Community Development Officer for the area, I have not received any paper from the applicant to be acted upon,” said Engr. Andrew Magwilang of the NCIP Mountain Province.

Nordis learned that Noel V. Ferrer, president of Malibato, furnished Mountain Province ‘ Sangguniang Panlalawigan a copy of their proposed exploration program in support of its EXPA 062 application at the MGB-CAR.

But sources in Mountain Province said that the Malibato EXPA 062 application is a “kiss of death” as the SP passed Resolution No. 2011-147 opposing any large-scale mining exploration and operations in the province.

Earlier the SP passed Resolution 2010-129 opposing any grant of permit to large-scale mining exploration and operation within the territorial jurisdiction of Mountain Province, which was reiterated under Resolution No. 2011-147.

“In the occasion of the Cordillera Administrative Day on July 15, we reiterate the historic indigenous people’s opposition against large-scale mining’s destruction of our land and plunder of our resources. We have this as an assertion of our right to self-determination and human rights,” ended the YUSSAI position. #

Taxi calibration starts in CAR, P35 flag down rate implemented

July 17, 2011 in Baguio City, Featured, transport by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — The taxi meter calibration for the new P35 flag down rate has started on July 13.

CALIBRATION INSPECTION. One of the processes in calibrating a taxi unit is the inspection where the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will check if the taxi markings, lights, garbage can and others are in the right places. Photo by Alma B. Sinumlag

Celina Claver, the regional director of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), who was helping in the calibration on July 14 said this will greatly affect the colorum taxis. “Makita nga talagan ti colorum ta haan da nga maselyuan,” (Colorum taxis will be identified because they will not be issued the official seal.) she added.

DOTC set a deadline for the calibration on the 1st week of August. However, they will still be accepting late applicants until mid August but with penalty.

Moreover, Claver said the set quota for calibration per day is 70 units. They will however try to go beyond to accommodate all before the deadline.

According to Benny Dacpano, the vice president of the Samahan ng mga Taxi operators sa CAR (STCAR) the registered taxi units in the city as of 2010 is 2,800.

Arthur Galvan from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) tapped by the DOTC for the inspection explained the process of the calibration. He said:

First, the applicants go to the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to secure and file for their application for calibration with copies of the required documents like: Official Receipt and Certificate of Registration (ORCR), Franchise or case number, business trade name and the receipt of a meter with printer then pay P1,010 which is the fee for application processing and calibration.

Next step is the inspection at the convention center. Taxi units will be checked for compliance to plates, serial numbers, etc. inside and outside the unit, lights, garbage can, etc. Galvan said, advertisements on the windows of the unit are prohibited. “There shall be no unnecessary stickers,” he added.

After the inspection, the unit will be subjected to a road test. The meter with printer will be checked if it is working. After the road test, the unit will line up for the resealing which is the last step.

Meter with printer shall be bought from dealers. It costs P6,500 to P7,500 depending on the brand according to Dacpano.

STCAR he said had a tie-up with Pinoy Roadrunner (one of the meter dealers) wherein STCAR members can avail of the meter with printer at a discounted price of P6,000 from its original price of P7,500.

Moreover, Dacpano said they did not receive or hear of any opposition to the fare hike from the riding public. “Sabagay na-Condition dan dagiti commuters ta idi January pay lang daytoy nga issue,” (The commuters are already conditioned because it has been an issue since January) he added.

The official receipt of the of the meter contains the name, address, TIN number, contact number of the taxi operator, the kilometers traveled and the amount of the fare. #

Baguilat hits NLDC

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, Featured by emendator


QUEZON CITY — Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is up in arms over the difficulties securing valuable assistance to his constituents from the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), through which he coursed P5 million of his Philippine Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

According to Baguilat, he allotted P5 million as livelihood assistance to farmers in Ifugao. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) coursed it through NLDC, which then said that the best way to use the precious funds was to invest in an animal dispersal program.

“I thought they would release the checks or the fund which we will then give to the local government units, who will then purchase the animals. But as it turned out, they wanted to purchase and deliver the farm animals themselves,” Baguilat said.

On the day that Baguilat had arranged for the beneficiaries to come together in Ifugao to receive the animals, the supplier only provided 40 piglets, 30 goats and 150 ducks.

“I could not believe that for P5 million, that was all that I got. I was dismayed. To make matters worse, there was no liquidation report, so I do not know how the P5 million was spent,” Baguilat said.

Following his complaints with the NLDC, the agency eventually gave his office the money to buy another 150 piglets, saying they could now buy the piglets themselves.

“They left it at that. There was no accounting. I am really disappointed. This should not be tolerated. This is corruption. And we don’t know if this is happening in other districts, too, or if this is happening in other branches of government,” Baguilat said.

“I have heard complaints from others saying that they got cows for dispersal that were very thin and seedlings that did not sprout. Somebody is earning from all of these,” he added.

Baguilat has thus called on the DA and the DBM to closely study the procurement system and to investigate because it is the people’s money at stake. If findings reveal that there indeed are irregularities in the procurement, those responsible should be held accountable.

“We are doing our part to help our constituents. The other government agencies should respond for the good of our people so that they know that their taxes are going to the right projects,” he said. #

Bontoc SB backs replacement of MPSPC prexy

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — The Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of the Municipality of Bontoc passed a resolution strongly supporting the pressing multi-sectoral clamor for the immediate replacement of Dr. Nieves Dacyon, the president of Mountain Province State Polythechnic College (MPSPC).

The peaceful and quiet community of Bontoc, Mountain Province turned to the streets to a protest rally last week asking the resignation of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College President and Board of Trustees who are allegedly involved in the different issues and problems of the schools for some time now. Photo courtesy of Redjie Melvic Cawis/PIA

Resolution No. 117 series of 2011 states that during the regular SB session on July 11, the faculty and students of the college went to them and requested the August body’s support to their call for the replacement of the college president.

Also, the body received a petition from the certain sectors of the Bontoc community to declare Dacyon ‘Persona non grata’ in the municipality “on the grounds of derogatory utterances against Bontoc people.”

The members of the Sanggunian, it added is well appraised of the issues that has been plaguing the learning institution since Dacyon assumed office in 2005.

Dacyon is accused by certain groups of students and faculty for “gross incompetence which resulted in the desirable mismanagement of the concerned school,” the resolution further reads.

Replacing the president according to these students and faculty will make a room for an abler administrator to come in and repair the tattered reputation of MPSPC. Moreover, it is according to them a consensus observation in the municipality that the school is not being run properly.

It was resolved that the body, other than supporting the clamor of these students and faculty, will try all lawful and peaceful means of persuading Dacyon to step down. This according to them will calm the continuing chaos in the school and will also ease the heated emotions of the faculty, studentry and the Bontoc community. #

Benguet bats for mass participation on autonomy

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — “Haste makes waste.”

This was the statement of Governor Nestor Fongwan during the Benguet Consultation on the 3rd attempt for an autonomous Cordillera region on July 13 at the provincial capitol. The people of the province, according to him, should massively participate on the issue.

He urged the people to put their comments forward on the working draft copy distributed by the Technical Working committee. He reiterated that the draft can be added to, revised or even changed en toto by their participation.

“It is only the people who can decide on whether or not we can be an autonomous region,” he said adding that it is important for more grassroots information and education campaign. He even doubted if the people of Benguet are aware of such.

“Baka nu ibagam kadagiti farmers daytoy nga organic act ket ibaga da nga Organic Farming daytoy,” (The Benguet farmers might think that the Organic Act is about organic farming) Fongwan jokingly said.

Benguet, he said, is given until July 29, 2011 to comment on the draft. “We will be waiting for your inputs on or before the said date,” he added.

On CAR disintegration

It was also shared during the consultation by Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan that if the organic act will be passed by Congress and a referendum will be conducted, the autonomous region can be composed of at least two provinces who voted yes to the organic act and those that voted no will return to their mother region because the E.O. 220 forming the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will self destruct.

However, Benguet Provincial Prosecutor William Bacoling said, “…if it is not the perfect time for us to join the autonomous region, why would we join?”.

Fongwan also said that they are not afraid to go back to their mother region if ever they will vote for no and two or three provinces would vote for yes. He iterated that it is the people who are going to gauge if they are to join an autonomous region or not.

On the other hand, Mayor Ruben Paoad of Tublay said there are legal remedies for us not to disintegrate. He suggested the of repealing E.O. 220 and and issuing another E.O. forming CAR as a regular region already. “I think there is no legal problem with that,” he said.

He also added that if in case only two provinces will be forming the autonomous region, then it can be inserted in the Organic Act that those provinces that will not be joining will be form another region.

Paoad added that the issue of autonomy will be a long process. He also doubts if the issue will be tackled immediately in Congress. “Unless it will be declared as a priority,” he said.

Moreover, on the issue of P10 billion subsidy for the first five years of being an autonomous region, Paoad said, will still be subject to deliberation and budget appropriations by Congress. He however doubts if that will be approved by the national government considering that the tax that the region is remitting is less than that amount.

Paoad even questioned the political maturity of the region to enter such kind of government. It is notable he said that other provinces are not yet politically mature. Abra for instance is still popular with private armies (goons).

Historical oppression will be addressed by autonomy

Dr. Peter Cosalan during the consultation presented how the region had been exploited of natural resources and the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) violated for the sake of national development.

“In Benguet province by the year 1994, the giant mining firms have extracted billions of US dollars worth of gold, copper and silver since 1904 when mining started in the province aside from the billions they got from Benguet’s pine forest,” he said.

However, he added that for some reasons the families in the province remained among the poorest in the Philippines along with families in the other provinces of the region. The region still is a member of the Club 22 (regions that have high incidence of poverty).

Some of the reasons he said are a meager share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and lack of control over natural resources.

In 1957 – 1960, he said Benguet sources of food for centuries in Ambuclao and Binga were flooded out of existence by large dams. Benguet families therefore were also flooded out of existence without relocation. Cosalan even likened this to the “Jews diaspora”.

These and other development projects have plundered the region. These he added can be addressed through regional autonomy. Moreover the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) that recognizes IP rights over their territory will accordingly be strengthened by the autonomy charter.

The IPs he said will now govern themselves. “We can already have control over our natural resources,” he added. #

Tublay mayor hits MGB on copper plant

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, environment, social concerns by emendator


TUBLAY, Benguet — Mayor Ruben Paoad of this town said that the recommendation of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on the construction and establishment of a copper concentrate processing plant is ironic.

The MGB, he said, recently furnished them a copy of the result of the agency’s landslide assessment and mapping in the municipality that says, Sitio Suyoc which is also the subject for the establishment of a copper concentrate plant is prone to land slides.

“Residents within the area are advised to be alert and vacate their homes during heavy and prolonged rains or typhoons in anticipation for a possible further occurrence of landslides,” the MGB findings read. It further stated that the findings shall serve as a Threat Advisory to the local officials.

However, Paoad said it is ironic for them to recommend to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Boards (HLURB) that it is possible to construct a processing plant and a one storey bunkhouse in the subject area despite the aforementioned findings.

The MGB recommendation states that, “considering that the building to be constructed within the lot is semi-permanent and made-up of light materials and based from the foregoing findings and observations, the lot could be utilized for its intended purpose”.

Moreover, it added that there is a strong possibility that the building to be constructed will be affected by creeping causing cracks along concrete walls and floorings in the long run.

Based on the MGB recommendation, HLURB then issued the proponent a locational clearance. This however, does not allow them to construct yet because they will need a building permit from the local government. But prior reports stated that the proponent has already installed most of their copper plant equipment and two tailings ponds.

On July 11 however, the proponent, Merry Ann Francisco wrote a letter to Paoad with a copy of the MGB recommendation and HLURB locational clearance reiterating their desire to have the building permit.

On the other hand, Paoad is still firm on his position not to allow the said plant on the basis that the area is not stable and possibly hazardous. He added that he will file a motion for reconsideration before the HLURB relative to their issued clearnace. #

Benguet SP asks LRA, NCIP to amend joint circular

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, land rights by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) here on July 11 approved on 2nd and final reading a resolution requesting the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to amend their memorandum circular requiring the segregation on titled lots within the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).

It can be recalled that the memorandum circular no. 1, series of 2007 by the said agencies requires that all titled lots within the ancestral domain will be segregated from the survey plans. It was also repeatedly stated by the regional director of the NCIP that this is the reason why most of the CADTs in the province are not yet registered at the Registry of Deeds. Those with unregistered CADTs are Bokod, Buguias, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan and Tublay.

The SP in 2010 passed a resolution requesting both agencies to waive the said requirement with a suggestion to merely annotate prior titled lots to save time and money.

In one of the provincial fora attended by the NCIP Chairperson, Zenaida Hamada – Pawid, she mentioned that both agencies are willing to comply with the demand of the province. Thus she suggested the committee on legal matters to sponsor a resolution requesting the LRA and NCIP to issue another memorandum circular deleting the portion of the previous memorandum that is being questioned.

However, during the session, Vice Governor Crescencio Pacalso suggested that instead of requesting both agencies to have another memorandum, they will be requesting them to amend their previous memorandum, deleting the portion that requires the segregation of prior titled lots with in the CADT.

Moreover, it was mentioned in the SP resolution that nowhere in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) can be found of such a provision that requires the exclusion of titled lots in the CADT survey plan. “…Subject joint circular went beyond what is provided in the IPRA,” the resolution further reads. #

Bringing Balili back to life

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, environment by patnugutan


BAGUIO CITY — Believing that rivers are important to the ecosystem, the La Trinidad local government unit (LGU) and the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) revisited the Balili River as part of their joint efforts to rehabilitate it.

Drainage clean up at Sanitary Camp treatment plant. Photo by Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol

On July 12, La Trinidad Mayor Greg Abalos, UPB Chancelor Prescilla Macansantos and UP Dean of the College of Social Sciences Raymund Rovillos conducted an ocular inspection of Balili from upstream Baguio City down Km. 6 La Trinidad.

Abalos said the inspections which they dubbed as A Walk through Balili will help them in planning the rehabilitation program of the river. He added that the proponents have to see for themselves the state of the river to be able to draw up concrete measures to save it.

The mayor reiterated that Balili like any other river is a source of life. He said three La Trinidad barangays particularly Alno, Alapang and Bahong rely on it as source of irrigation for their crops. He stressed that these barangays are among the main sources of cutflowers.

Abalos further urged both concerned parties to participate in this endeavor.

Macansantos explained that the rehabilitation of Balili is part of the Climate Change mitigation concerns of the university as she also pointed out that rivers have a major role in the environment.

She reiterated that there is a need to inform and educate the wider public about the importance of Balili vis a vis its current state, especially those live along the river. “Maybe they do not realize yet the harmful effect of their activities like throwing garbage to the river. When they realize the importance of the river then they would help in saving it,” she said.

The chancellor also said they will mobilize UPB students, educate and expose them to the problems that confront Balili to help in the campaign.

“We hope to sustain the campaign, there had been earlier efforts to rehabilitate Balili River but it looks like it was not sustained,” she said as she encouraged media outfits to help in the information and education campaign.

According to Rovillos, Balili is already considered a biologically dead river but stressed there is still hope. He mentioned that there had been two studies, the 1993 study conducted by the UPB and the 2004 study conducted by the Benguet State University (BSU), that confirmed that Balili is already biologically dead.

Rovillos said UP is planning to do another study to update the past studies. He added that new study will not just look into the environmental aspect but would include the social and economic aspects of the problem.

In line with the campaign, Rovillos disclosed that they are coming up with a documentary film on Balili that would be shown in communities, schools and other venues to educate and inform the widest possible audience. He added that the project is also in partnership with Smart. #

Itogon seek clarification on Ampucao ESL

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, environment, social concerns by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Itogon Mayor Oscar Camantiles forwarded a letter to the provincial governor, who at the same time chairs the Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB) to conduct a dislosure presentation relative to the Engineered Sanitary Landfill (ESL) in barangay Ampucao.

In the said letter, it was stated that one of the municipality’s major component in their ten – year Municipal Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan (MESWMB) was a mandatory establishment of an ESL. Also, it was identified that the main location of the said ESL was a 440 vein open pit mining area of the Benguet Corporation in Luneta, Loacan.

However, the municipality learned that the province through the assistance of a Korean firm is currently negotiating with the barangay government of Ampucao, shifting the initially identified site.

Thus, Camantiles in his letter said they are requesting the PSWMB and the Korean firm to have a disclosure presentation to the MESWMB.

On the other hand, Governor Nestor Fongwan in an interview said the Korean firm had been negotiating with the municipal government of Itogon relative to the establishment of an ESL in the original location for so long.

“The Korean firm could no longer wait for the original plan to be materialized,” he said. And because the barangay government of Ampucao has a proposal, Fongwan said the firm ventured to the latter proposal.

Moreover, he said, Itogon could still continue establishing an ESL in the original location however, they have to look for another funder.

The Korean firm, Fongwan added, will be starting from zero. “They have to follow all the processes before starting the project,” he said.

With regards to the request disclosure presentation, the governor said they have already talked to the Ampucao Solid Waste Management Board to handle the request since they are one of the project proponents.

Earlier reports also stated Ampucao folk petition for the conduct of a free prior and informed consent (FPIC). It does not mean however that they are opposed to the said project. They said it is an assertion of their rights as provided in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

They want to be informed of the project’s pros and cons and decide on whether or not to allow the establishment of said ESL with in their ancestral domain. #

Baguio-Benguet sheriffs protest power punching

July 17, 2011 in Ilocos by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Court sheriffs in Baguio and Benguet went for a day in court donning “black eyes” to protest the punching incident in Davao they said is “a black eye” to justice.

Sporting supposed hematomae-colored left eyes liked to that of their brother-sheriff in Davao, Abe Andres attacked by Mayor Sara Duterte, at least 25 sheriffs from all the Regional Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Offices of Clerks of Court in Baguio and Benguet let their left eyes blackened by brother-sheriff Albert Tolentino with a black eyeliner to show their disgust and ire over the incident.

“Kaming mga ordinaryong sheriff ay hindi bugok, sila ang mga bugok”, (we,the ordinary sheriffs are not the rotten, they are the ones rotten) said Baguio Municipal Trial Court Branch 6 Sheriff Marani Bacolod, referring to the feisty comment of Mayor Duterte’sfather former Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“We are wearing these black eyes for the whole day,” Sheriff Wilfredo Mendez also said.

The sheriffs’ action Thursday is yet among the protest activities members of the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines (SCOPHIL) are initiating in Northern Luzon and all over the country to demonstrate against the mauling incident. “The humiliation and damage done to our brother-sheriff in full view of mediamen cannot be tolerated much less ignored in a civil society,” they said in a manifesto being circulated all over Northern Luzon decrying the incident.

Sheriff Mendez said, “a thorough investigation must be launched and cases be filed and a commensurate penalty be given to those found guilty.”

Sheriffs in Dagupan City in Pangasinan also gathered to denounce Duterte and her actions while the black-eyed Baguio and Benguet sheriffs seemingly shocked onlookers and court attendees, even Judges, in a rather unfamiliar “protest atmosphere” at the Baguio and Benguet court’s Thursday. #

Int’l mission visits Lepanto laborers

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, international by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — The International Solidarity Mission on Mining (ISMM) visited the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) in Mankayan, Benguet on July 12 to 13 as part of their mission to investigate the state trade union rights in the mining industry.

The ISMM was organized by the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) and Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) to look into the violations of trade union rights in the mining industry in line with International Labor Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The mission also aimed to look into the impact of mining operations on the people’s livelihood and on the environment. The group will be visiting communities hosting mining operations and activities particularly in the Cordillera and in the CARAGA region. The whole mission was in the country from July 11 to 16.

LCMCo workers and affected communities hoped that the mission would help them come up with resolutions and recommendations that will step up the campaign against destructive mining operations in the Philippines.

The results of the ISMM investigation will be submitted to the House of Representatives and Senate after the team collates them. #

Tuba enacts water safety measures

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera by patnugutan


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Tuba officials recently enacted an ordinance aimed at ensuring a safe water source for the municipality, free from chemical pollutants. The municipality hosts the Philex Mining Corporation.

The municipal ordinance sponsored by Councilors Maria Carantes and Roger Kitma forwarded to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) during their regular session, July 11 was requesting Philex Mining Corporation to allot budget from its Social Development Management Program (SDMP) fund for a quarterly chemical examination of all domestic water sources affected by its mining operations.

“So far, there was no complaint of water contamination from our constituents,” Vice Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan said in an interview. However, she added that they want to be proactive.

The resolution also stated that the community has fund constraint thus, it cannot afford to shoulder the expenses for a chemical examination. That is why they are requesting the firm to shoulder it under their SDMP.

On the other hand, another resolution was passed requesting the aforementioned mine firm to furnish the August body of their five – year compilation of their approved SDMP and those that were already implemented.

This is accordingly to avoid the duplication of government funded projects along the areas affected the firms operations. #

Baguio council thumbs down Loterya ng Bayan

July 17, 2011 in Baguio City, social concerns by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — In support to city government’s effort to cleanse the city of gambling, the City Council voted 10-4 in favor of a proposed resolution opposing the entry of ‘Loterya ng Bayan’ here.

According to Councilor Edison Bilog, the resolution’s proponent, the Loterya ng Bayan despite being a legal form of gambling, could not be allowed as it might end up as a front for illegal gambling activity such as ‘jueteng’ and may become a source of corruption in the city government.

Majority of the city councilors also opposed the guidelines set by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) that the Loterya ng Bayan franchisee does not need the confirmation or ratification of local government unit (LGU) to operate.

Various sectoral groups, supporting the council’s resolution, outlined moral issues in opposing the entry of Loterya ng Bayan in the city.

According to them, there is no assurance that legalized gambling will address the problem of poverty or the financial/economic issues of the Filipino people.

City’s Anti-illegal gambling group, Task Force Jupiter head and City Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer Evelyn Trinidad, in an interview, also stressed her support to the city council’s position. According to Trinidad, even with such PCSO guidelines, any Loterya ng Bayan franchisee or operator still needs a business permit from the local government where he plans to put up his establishment or business.

Trinidad also stressed that from the previously proposed Small Town Lottery, Loterya ng Bayan is not different – it is still a form of gambling that though legal in nature does not assure that it will address the problem of illegal gambling and may only add to the problem of promoting a gambling environment or society.

Trinidad also reminded the public that if there will be no bettors, then legal or illegal gambling will not survive.

This is why aside from monitoring and running after illegal gambling activities in the city, they are also focusing more on educating the public on the ill-effects of gambling. #

Ilocos Norte health workers undergo training

July 17, 2011 in Ilocos by emendator


LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — If you’re experiencing foul odor urine, perspiration or a bad breath, you are most likely a candidate of kidney disease, said experts from the Renal Disease Control Program (REDCOP) of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).

A renal disease is asymptomatic, said Dr. Antonio Paraiso, program director of the REDCOP which means, many people who have chronic kidney disease may not know it because the early signs can be very subtle. According to Paraiso, this happens “when the kidney, which serves as filter of the body no longer have enough kidney function to maintain a normal state of health.”

With this, the REDCOP-NKTI has been conducting a series of training workshop among health workers in provinces like Ilocos Norte to train doctors including barangay health workers on how to prevent renal disease at early stage.

Based on a health study, Paraiso said renal disease has been considered as the 10th leading cause of mortality having 200 in a million people, suffering from kidney disease.

He added the danger of undiagnosed and untreated diabetes and hypertension could lead to the development of kidney failure. He then urged concerned health workers including the media to help in the information and education campaign to let people aware of this disease and be observant of the early warning signs and symptoms of kidney diseases such as recurring urinary tract infection and a foul body odor.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and eating the right food is still the best way to avoid diseases, the adult Nephrology consultant stressed.

Studies  show that patients who have been diagnosed with Chronic glomerulonephritis have  to undergo dialysis treatment to live and to have kidney transplant for the patient to have a chance to live a normal life. Said medical treatments and laboratory procedures would require a patient to have at least P500,000 to a million pesos to avail of the required medical procedures.

Kidneys perform five main functions which are to clean waste material from the blood; retain or excrete salt and water; regulate blood pressure; stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells; and to control the amount of calcium and phosphorous absorbed and excreted. Doctors say that the best way to take care of the kidney is by eating healthy foods and to limit food intake especially those with too much salt. #

LT dads bat for stopping salisi during wake

July 17, 2011 in Cordillera, social concerns by emendator


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – “Give due respect to the dead”.

This was the statement of councilor Jim Botiwey on July 12 during their regular session with regards the proliferation of salisi (form of illegal numbers game) during wake. His forefather a Kankana-ey he said was always telling them to respect the dead and participating in salisi or any kind of gambling is a disrespect to the deceased.

He added that this moral value is not only of Kankana-eys but even to all Igorots. Thus, he said in order for that value not to be eroded, the council has to pass a resolution requesting the municipal mayor to direct the chief of police (COP) to stop the conduct of the said game during wake. The said resolution is sponsored by Botiwey, Von Ryan Tauli and Henry Kipas.

In the resolution, it stated that “vigils in wakes are turning out to be the reason or justification for gambling instead of being the oppurtunity to pay last respect to the departed and sympathy to the family of the deceased”. Moreover, gambling particularly salisi it said causes noise and disturbance. The wake Botiwey added is becoming some kind of a festival with the presence of this game.

“…Gambling is tolerated to support the bereaved family financially via percentage or tong paid however, it cannot absolve the absence of appropriate symphathy that the gamblers exude in joining the vigil,” the resolution further reads.

Salisi raid in the name of the council

It was shared during the council session that there was a raid of the said numbers game during a wake in barangay Buyagan on July 11. The said raid was made by the police and they were allegedly telling the people that the raid was an order by the council.

Thus, rumours Tauli said is spreading that the council has a share of P20,000 with the money from the said game and because they were not given their share, they (council) collaborated with the police and raid the wake.

Botiwey then suggested the body to invite Chief Inspector Richard Albon, the COP, in their next session to explain. The actions of the police he said should be based on their mandate and not on who ordered them.

Tauli said, the council already passed a resolution against all forms of gambling in the town last year. However, he added that it is not working therefore, as a chairman of the committee on peace and order, he had to make a move by passing the above said resolution.

Moreover, for the resolution to be strictly implemented, Councilor Roderick Awingan suggested to furnish a copy to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

On the other hand, Councilor Robert Namoro said Salisi is being conducted in almost all wakes in town and barangay officials were always reporting to the police. However, there was no action coming from the police until July 11. This he said led people to think that maybe, the council has a share from the gambling. #

Baguio Roundup: July 10 to 16, 2011

July 17, 2011 in Baguio City by emendator

Alderman ask the public to re-circulate the coins
By Joseph B Zambrano (PIA CAR)

BAGUIO CITY — City dads are enjoining the public to re-circulate coins in their possession and use them in the purchase of goods and services to avert coin shortage.

People continue to be shortchanged by many department stores, groceries, retail stores and the transport groups because of the lack of coins. Cashiers sometimes  would offer candies in lieu of the lack of coins telling them apologetically of the lack of loose change.

The city council through a resolution is also requesting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to make available twenty-five centavos and one peso coins to address the problem of shortage. #

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Tree planting, blood letting to remember 1990 quake
By Joseph B Zambrano (PIA CAR)

BAGUIO CITY — The media in this resort city is commemorating the 21st anniversary of July16, 1990 killer earthquake by planting trees and donating blood which exemplify life for the generations to come.

According to Ramon Dacawi, past president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC), they have invited the Boys Scouts to plant in the precipitous area of the Busol watershed, which are still barren.

School children  will plant various tree seedlings in the “Muyong” a memorial area and a “Mambunong” (native priest) will offer a native pig for “Kabunian” and pray to spare the city from any kind of disaster. #

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Breastfeeding focus of Nutrition month
By Lito Dar (PIA CAR)

BAGUIO CITY — “Isulong ang Breastfeeding – Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo (TSEK)”, this is the theme for this year’s celebration of nutrition month which aims to advocate breastfeeding as a key strategy in ensuring proper nutrition and good health for both mothers and their babies.

National Nutrition Council (NNC-CAR) Regional Coordinator June Falancy, in a kapihan media forum Wednesday, stressed that this year’s nutrition month celebration focuses on breastfeeding because statistics show that the country still has poor breastfeeding practices. Only 36 out of 100 babies are exclusively breastfed from birth up to their sixth month.

Falancy also outlined the importance of breastfeeding, both to mothers and their babies, physiologically, psychologically and even financially as studies show. Breastfeeding could give to both mothers and their babies, health wise and also psychological as it promotes better attachment or bonding between them, plus the financial benefit as their family can save as much as P2,000 per month from buying formula milk.#

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BRM, SNAP Benguet sign MOA for env’t
Joseph B Zambrano (PIA CAR)

BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio Regreening Movement(BRM) and SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet Incorporated (SNAP-Benguet) signed a Memorandum of  Agreement (MOA) for seedling production, reforestation and environment information campaign.

The MOA was signed by Dr. Julie Cabato, BRM’s secretary-general and Atty. Mike Hosillos, SNAP-Benguet’s vice president for corporate services.

Under the MOA, SNAP Benguet will provide P750,000 for nursery and saplings production of which 15,000 seedling  will be planted in Baguio City and adjacent towns of Itogon and Bokod in Benguet. #

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POPCOM responds to UNFPA’s call
By Annie Calimquim (Popcom/PIA CAR)

BAGUIO CITY — The Commission on Population – Cordillera Administrative Region responds to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities’ (UNFPA) call to 7 Billion Actions as it joins in the observance of the World Population Day on July 11, 2011, and at a time when the whole world is about to reach its 7 billion population on October 31 this year.

As the world observes the 21st Population Day, with the first ever celebration in 1990, the Regional Population Office (RPO) chose to celebrate this special population event with the young people in partnership with Baguio City National High School (BCNHS).

On July11, around 200 4th year students and teachers of BCNHS were gathered to participate in the interactive discussions on the 2011 World Population Day theme and its core messages on humansexuality, dynamics of human fertility,life skills and the salient features of House Bill 4244 and its contentious issues. #

Editorial: The Constitution of the autonomous region

July 17, 2011 in editorials, Featured, opinion by emendator

One nationally recognized economist qouted a report that said the Philippines was seen as owning to the lowest level of foreign direct investment in East Asia, and the reasons, “A major explanation is the very constitution of the Philippines, which restricts or prohibits foreign investments in strategic sectors of the economy.” Other reasons are our notoriety for corruption, the high cost of electricity and the generally poor state of infrastructures.

If the Constitution is the mandate of a nation to exist, it protects the sovereignty of its people, its territory, etc. Then why should it allow selling-out the nation, or all its resources to other people or nation? It maybe that a peoples’ constitution must also protect the nation’s resources for its population’s security and support.

The notoriety of corruption is most of all upon the ruling class of bureaucrats, compradors and big landlords. People in position that feed on the corrupt system with continued impunity. The high cost of energy a cost calculated and decided by the companies and government regulating it poorly. The poor state of infrastructures, people have heard about the so called SOP. It was said the last national leadership demanded a 50% cut from the governors so that means 50% of the fund was used to implement infra projects.

This poor public perception of government grows clearer for the Juan dela Cruz everyday, so why should the Igorot or Cordillerans for that matter trust that the autonomy organic act will deliver them from this difficult and imposed poverty, and save the ancestral lands and domain and its resources from being sold out? After all that organic act when passed is like a constitution for the region. Why do not they trust that drafted organic act would ensure the recognition and respect for their right to self determination?

At the consultation in Benguet where for the first time the printed working draft for the proposed organic act was distributed, there was a clear show of this sentiment and mistrust. In many ways and perceptions it was raised as an issue or suggestion. Like they had been repeating in the earlier discussions and consultations. These seemed to have gotten the goat of the people in the drafting committee who threw their usual fears or cloaked threats that sounded like 10 billion and 5 billion, lost opportunities, etc.

The audience response sounded like, so what if there was a large budget or a large cut from the national government? The people and sustained resources are a thousand fold more important.

In one of Ifugao roots was glad to support a statement expressed by a representative of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, that it was what he as a Cordilleran had been trying to articulate for the past 30 years (or something like that), on the 2nd Baguio consultation. A one time labor leader and scion of Tublay looked for a provision that ensures the protection of the land and resources of the Cordillera region. A former governor wanted the right to self determination secured in the people’s hands. Another former governor looks at the Cordillera provinces as “one for all and all for one.” One Congressman refuses to support a proposed act that does not have the support of his constituents.

How shall people rush into this again especially when the proponents of this draft throw cloaked threats that billions could be lost and those that do not support this year’s proposed organic act shall revert to the old regional subdivisions.

The ancestral land and domain are key to this mission. Corruption and impunity should never be given room here. What protection does Cordillera have for its resources for energy, for water, for its forest and minerals? For where do the people identify life to? Where does the culture draw its beginnings? For whom do we live and work for but the continuity of support for the generations?

So far like the mothers, protective and nurturing, the people of the Cordillera have articulated in several of their gatherings in the region that it is improtant to them that a true autonomous region must reflect their vision to revive and strenghten indigenous knowldedge, institutions and practices that enhances food security; increase land productivity through sustainable agriculture and improve balance in biodiversity.

How to ensure this in the Law of and by the people, will take many, many consultations, real discussions, solid, truthful data and prior information. #

Crossroads: Dr. Bugnosen: healer, singer, shepherd

July 17, 2011 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


Today I beg your indulgence while I pay tribute to a friend and a spiritual giant of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, not only here in Baguio but in the whole Philippines. Doc Andy had been an inspiration even as a young girl. Maybe my ambition to be a doctor in my early years was partly because of him and Dr. Viduya of Bethany Hospital who were selflessly what family doctors ought to be. They were missionary doctors not only to the pastors and their families but to those who sought their medical expertise be they sick or healthy.

Doc Andy did not separate his profession from his evangelism. While he healed the sick, he preached to those who were seeking salvation. He evangelized to both Christians and non-Christians as he preached sermons, ministered to the sick and sang gospel songs in every endeavor he did. Even when he was elected an official and then Governor of Benguet, he was forever preaching and evangelizing. He preached the Good News of Christ even in his capacity as a civil servant.

The marvel and devotion the erstwhile family doctor had for his profession up to his last serving days was exemplary. As my brother said, he would have been a very very rich surgeon had he chosen but he chose to serve. For the longest time he was a doctor to the barrios of Benguet serving in the Abatan Lutheran Hospital. Even when he was a consultant for hospitals in Baguio City, he still served as surgeon to Abatan. Even when the term doctor to the barrios became fashionable, he was already THE doctor to the barrios. He chose to serve the Philippine poor even if he could have gone abroad for money and fame. He chose to serve as a doctor to the people of Benguet when he could have made millions by his expertise.

Doc Bugnosen was not only a healer and a preacher. He was a very good singer. His baritone he maximized with his preaching as he began or ended sermons with gospel songs. He was always ready to sing at weddings, church activities and family gatherings and he roused the congregations to sing lively songs of praise to the Creator. He can sway the choirs or cause tears of joy with his songs.

He was also a story teller. For those of you who remember the stories and parables he narrated, Debbie, his daughter is writing a book about him as a gift for their anniversary. Please write them and give them to Debbie to add to her collection. Too bad he will not be able to read it now. But I am pretty sure he has those stories by heart and by now is recounting those stories in the heavenly mansion prepared for him.

To all of us whose lives he has touched, we know he is a great loss. To the family especially to Auntie Lydia, we join you in prayer for a wonderful man who showed us compassion, service and devotion to his Master and to the people. #

From Under This Hat: Ban the plastic

July 17, 2011 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


When I go to the Baguio market for the week’s supply because of the usual packaging system I bring home more than a dozen plastic bags of different sizes. As is practised at home each clean bag is rolled and folded and kept in its usual bag. Of the dozen or so, during the week after, my household would be able to re-use only 2 or three of those bags as garbage bags. Most of it are added to a sack full of other plastic bags that would be sent off to the garbage truck that visits our barangay only once a week.

From the house to the jeepney stop I would walk some one hundred meters, pass by about a dozen houses and some 20-35 pieces of plastic bags strewn along the road. Each house clean their frontage every morning still in the afternoon one would see it littered again with candy or food wraps and other plastic bags. If this streetside garbage is left alone to nature to dispose, in my side of town, it would eventually go down the Gallano river and somehow finally end up in the Lingayen Gulf. If it does not get caught along the way to pile-up by the riverbank. It is said that it takes some 65 years for polyethelene to biodegrade. Plastic in the ground also adds to other accumulated toxins there.

Just think if every single person in Baguio, say some 200,000 thousand people throws away five plastic bags a day, that would make 1,000,000 pieces a day. If it was a very irresponsibe 200,000 people, none of them should complain about clogged drainage, flooding (5000 feet above sea level) leukemia, cancer or poisoning.

On the northside of town, is the Balili river, out on the southside is the Bued river and on myside is the Gallano. If like the Mayor of La Trinidad we would have a walk through these rivers just by the sight of it, Baguio and the adjoining Benguet is fast losing its beauty and sweet piney air that a million tourists a year come for.

On the other hand, the drainage of our City is again on the peak of its use now – the rainy season. The time our road caretakers have the penchant to do regular highway repairs at this most difficult time is a curse. This time people pray they would also repair and improve the road drainage system too, regularly, because it is on this season that our roads become rivers when it rains. Then the newly rehabilitated road shall then become a river bed. When that happens every driver and commuter lets out a curse. Please direct this complaint or ‘unintentional’ curse to our government especially where they decide to do the road works during the rainy season.

Of course the drain waters of Baguio run down the Balili, Bued, and the Gallano. Along with the rushing waters are all those plastic bags and garbage. If it gets clogged, water will always find the way out and as usually happens the escaping water would flood or dig out a landslide wherever it is held back. People call this event a disaster, for lack of foresight.

Sewage, that stink and the black water that carries all that pee and the poo along with the grime and the goo generated by a city full of people. Some forty years or so ago the Japanese “aid” planners gave Baguio funds to repair the sewage system and build a sewage treatment plant. People were harshly displaced from their gardens and homelots and a large round cement cystern was built then put to sleep for about twenty years or so. Then the city decided to ask for funds again to pick up the project and finish it. One Japanese engineer assigned to see that it gets done (I believe they did not trust the politicians too so they watched it.) one time announced that the treatment plant was to serve 90% of households in the City. That was twenty years ago when the number of households was but one third or lesser of what it is now. Just imagine where the rest of that pee and poo, grime and goo of the present population go now, especially with the present capacity of the waste management system in the city.

That muck may get caught with all that plastic we throw out every day to fill the drainage system and overflow along the road-river-canal when it rains. Yuuckh! Let us stop using plastic bags now and greatly reduce the non-biodegradable garbage we bring out every day, and help stop adding poison to our environment, and help protect our river banks from eroding. Support our city council ban the use of plastic bags in groceries and in the market. #

Pathless Travels: Which will be “the next internet”: Google or Facebook?

July 17, 2011 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


Of course there is only one Internet. Yes, it is composed of many parts and there are many ways of “surfing it.” But it is just one big whole, in the same way that there is only one global ocean even if it, too, is composed of many parts and there are many ways of travelling through it.

So, why must the question be asked at all? Why should we be concerned whether the Internet takes this or that shape?

It is because the technology for delivering Internet resources to people is constantly changing, and if you are an Internet user, you must at least have some idea of how these changes affect your online usage – your access to information, your ease of use, and your privacy.

Let us put it this way: If I were an Internet user back in 1994 (which I was), when the online world had a very different shape, I would be using a very different set of tools to navigate its waters and utilize its resources. It was a time when users accessed the Net through Unix-like “shell programs” so they could send and fetch email, access remote sites (through telnet), download files (through FTP), and do limited multi-site searches (through such ancient tools as Gopher and Archie).

Internet use in those years was, in the words of a 17th century philosopher, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” The World Wide Web was then unknown or inaccessible to many users, as it was just a flimsy layer growing in dispersed patches of the Net – a mysterious part of the cyber-ocean that only the most intrepid explorers could reach.

From 1995 onwards, however, the Web rapidly grew until it became the dominant interface through which more and more online users “surfed the Net” with increasing ease and speed. The old and terse Internet sites that could not (or opted not to) shift to the Web receded into obscurity – even if they were very useful to users, such as and and, to name just a few – to be replaced by their more user-friendly Web counterparts.

The more basic online services were still there – mail and ftp, for example. But increasingly, they retreated into the background, mere islets in the vast and expanding universe of Web-based services. Websites proliferated instead, from simple personal home pages and well-maintained institutional sites all the way to huge commercial sites with thousands of subscribed users and high volume of daily traffic. Indeed, for the next generations of users, the Web was THE Internet.

Now, 15 years later, the Web-atop-the-Internet is at a similar crossroads. This time, however, two Internet behemoths are battling it out to decide whose platform is going to shape hundreds of millions of Web users’ online usage and habits, whose platform is going to redefine the Internet. These two giants are busy growing in size, acquiring more and more internal organs and external appendages with which to encompass the whole of cyberspace.

Facebook wants to be the “next Internet,” in the sense that it wants you, the average Internet user, to step on its platform, to ride its trains all day long, and to contemplate the rest of the online world from its point of view. In short, it wants you to wear FB eyeglasses most of the time, if not permanently. If you find yourself opening FB as your first daily ritual online, spending long hours there compared to other sites, then you have in fact chosen the FB train, enjoying your window seat, seatbelt and all.

Like FB, however, Google wants to be the “next Internet” too. It also wants you to step on its platform, ride its trains all day long, and see the rest of the online world from its point of view – wearing its own customized eyeglasses of course. Google offers its users a somewhat different mix of services: it specializes in bringing you categorized information and email, while FB specializes in connecting you to other people you might know or want to know.

Thus, because Google and FB specialized in different services in earlier years, they could coexist and even complement each other in people’s minds. As Eric Mack of PCWorld put it, “Perhaps one day Google+ will be the place I go to get things done, while Facebook remains a destination for socializing. Nobody ever said my relationship with social networking had to be monogamous, after all.”

But in the past year or so, the two have increasingly stepped on each other’s turf and toes, forcing more and more users to rethink their loyalties. Facebook launched its own mail, chat and low-profile search, while its rival launched its own FB-like Google+. Meanwhile, Yahoo – Google’s old rival – has fallen behind in many respects. So it is now mainly a two-way race between FB and Google.

FB is not a weakling, as it boasts of a 750-million user base that can provide clout when push comes to shove. It taps into the natural need for people to check on family, meet friends, share tidbits of information, play games and pass the time in a relaxed and casual way. It is the online equivalent of a huge park-playground-outdoor café complex, and many Internet users will find that dumbed-down atmosphere as their perfect escape from work. FB wallows in the least common denominator.

Google, on the other hand, feels like an extension of the workplace or classroom, offering countless new ways to explore and exploit the expanding cyberspace. It is where you go when you want to do no-nonsense communication and cloud-computing, to check facts, to search maps, and to browse through news. In my opinion, Google hews more closely to the original spirit that drove the explosive growth of the Internet and the Web.

Not that Google is the perfect platform for this decade’s increasingly intelligent Internet users, because it is not. I sure hope that a still better platform comes up. But I am betting that in this particular battle, Google will win and Facebook will lose. #