Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aurora ecozone construction of buildings and facilities delayed

CASIGURAN, Aurora, August 1, 2011-Roberto “Robbie” K. Mathay, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) president and chief executive officer revealed that the completion of the P437-million corporate campus and other facilities of the APECO inside this freeport zone has been delayed.

“APECO’s timetable for construction of the corporate campus and other facilities inside the freeport has not been completed,” Mathay admitted, saying that the facilities are 60 percent completed. “Yes there was some slippage,” he said when asked by newsmen.

“The administration building of the Apeco originally set for completion in April, will be completed in September. The corporate campus is being constructed by the New Kanlaon Construction, Inc. which won the bid to construct the project.

NKCI chairman and chief executive officer Antonio Evangelista said that their firm is not to blame for the delay. “The facilities being built are not part of the original design. It’s not our company’s fault that the completion of the corporate campus was delayed,” he said in an interview by phone.

“It started during ground-breaking ceremonies last January 2010, Construction of Phase 1 that involves the corporate campus, which requires development of an initial 24 hectares. It includes development of access roads, installation of underground utilities, water and electrical lines, drainage and sanitation and telephone and cable facilities,” he recalled.

NKCI president Rolly Narciso said that during the ground-breaking rites, they expect the hotel to be finished in March 2011, the telephone facilities to be installed in April 2011 and the administration building to rise in September 2011.         

The corporate campus will house a two-story administration building, a three-star hotel and other amenities. The corporate campus will also have a clubhouse, a dormitory for workers, and service support buildings.

The site is located beside the newly completed airport some 30 minute drive from the town proper, some two hours from the capital town of Baler and six hours from Manila.

“While the buildings have not been completed yet, most of the road networks leading to the corporate campus are already finished. We will soon start construction of the 50-room hotel which will be completed in the first semester of next year. The hotel is supposed to be finished last March,” Mathay said.

Senator Engardo J. Angara and
Congressman Sonny Angara.
Mathay added that Apeco deputy administrator Ramon Fernando has already discussed with representatives of Globe and Smart Communications for the setting up of a telephone system within the corporate campus where a call center is being eyed.

He said that if we have a call center inside the ecozone, we can then sell bandwidth space to the town of Casiguran.            

Senator Edgardo J. Angara along with Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara, authored Republic Act 9490 creating the Aurora Special Economic Zone, said that once the economic zone becomes fully operational, the province will become a hub of development in northeastern Luzon covering Aurora, eastern Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

“The newly finished P157-million airport constructed by Cavacon Corp. will serve as an international airport featuring a two-kilometer runway that can accommodate large aircrafts,” he ended. (Jason de Asis)

P2.4-B international container seaport to rise in Aurora ecozone

CASIGURAN, Aurora, August 1, 2011-Roberto “Robbie” K. Mathay, president and chief executive officer of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) said that a P2.4-billion international container seaport is set to be constructed here by the South Korean government aimed to transform this economic zone into a logistics hub for exportation of agro-fishery, timber and industrial products in central Luzon and northern Luzon.

“The project will be funded through Official Development Assistance of the Korean government with counterpart funding from the national government,” Mathay said, adding that a consortium composed of the Dasan Engineering and DY Engineering companies completed the feasibility study for the international container seaport after three months. The study was funded through a P15-million grant from the Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

“It’s a very huge and important project. The modern container port, which is projected to be finished in four years, will complement the domestic seaport and will attract business locators; thus, spurring economic development not only in Central Luzon but also in Cagayan Valley through the export products of five (5) provinces in Northern Luzon,” Mathay said.

He furthered that the project can accommodate a 50,000-metric ton capacity ship and will have berthing facilities, superstructure facilities such as a multipurpose wharf with storage yards, passenger wharf and fishery wharf for marine products; cargo handling equipment such as 350-ton capacity harbor cranes, forklifts with a maximum 25-ton capacity and sewage treatment facilities.

“This container seaport will serve as alternative gateway for cargo destined for Manila and considerably reduce cargo transport cost and transport time. The current cost of transporting a 20-foot container van from the Manila North Harbor to Casiguran is at P75,000,” he said.

“Imagine if we have a container port here, this will be drastically lessened. The port has the ability to provide more convenient, efficient and cost-effective shipping services for exporters,” he furthered.
Mathay said that instead of unloading marine products such as yellow fin to Navotas, these can be processed in Casiguran, similar to what they do in fish ports in General Santos City and Davao.  

It is estimated that the container seaport will have a cargo volume of 733,000 tons per year under the feasibility study of the project. The planned jetty-type, 210-meter long multipurpose wharf, will allow berthing at both sides of a maximum size vessel of up to 20,000 dead-weight tons (dwt).

Kent Avestruz, APECO manager for corporate planning said that the passenger wharf is projected to provide a berth of 100 meters which allows 400-gross ton capacity coastal cruise vessels to berth. The fishery wharf will be equipped with a 100-meter berth for small scale ships and ship repair facilities. 

The study revealed the two types of cargo in the area: the cargo produced within the economic zone and the cargo from other ports. It stated that this is where the container seaport will play an important role in handling the cargo from the freeport zone which is located at the rear of the port.
A high-level team from the consortium led by project coordinator Shan Sheonghan Kim conducted an ocular inspection of the site of the container port project in Pagas Point in Barangay Dibacong along the Casiguran Bay last January. Kim was accompanied in the trip by three (3) engineering coordinators Se Wook Yeo, Ji Hoon Lee and Hyuk-Yoon Kwon.

“The container seaport project will accommodate the produce not only of Aurora but also in the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino,” he said. (Jason de Asis)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Central Luzon top cop rules out separate probe on poll fraud whistle-blower

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, July 31, 2011-Chief Superintendent Edgar Ladao, Philippine National Police regional director for Central Luzon have ruled out the possibility of conducting a separate investigation into  allegations of massive irregularities in the 2004 and 2007 elections by Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago, a former provincial director in Zambales.

He said that the allegations made by Santiago on the alleged switching of election returns at the Batasang Pambansa building in the 2004 presidential polls no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the PNP regional office because the ball is now in the hands of the Department of Justice.

“The case is now being handled by the DOJ. Even the PNP leadership in Camp Crame can’t touch it,” he said in an interview after presiding over a command conference with Nueva Ecija police director Senior Superintendent Roberto Aliggayu and provincial directors of Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales at the regional police headquarters in Camp Olivas Friday afternoon.

The revelations of Santiago were made public by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday, two days after she met the police officer and five others.

Santiago claimed four break-ins at Batasang Pambansa in January 2005 in which his team stole 6,000 original ERs and replaced them with fake ones so that then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would still emerge as the winner in the event of a recount. Official poll results showed her winning over closest rival Fernando Poe Jr. by over a million votes.

Ladao also said that he does not have anything to do with Santiago’s relief as Zambales provincial director last July 7.

“We just received the order to relieve him,” he said, without specifying who issued the order. He said Santiago is now assigned in Camp Crame.

Ladao echoed the statement of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. who said he was not privy to the reason behind Santiago’s relief as Zambales provincial director.

Commenting on Santiago’s expose, he said that he supports him and his fellow officers in their quest for truth but not when they followed illegal orders, referring to the switching of the ERs.

Cruz said Santiago is considered on absence without official leave (AWOL) for failing to report to the PNP Director for Operations last July 7 after his relief from Zambales. He said Santiago would be given 30 days to report, apart from the 10 days earlier given him, or face expulsion from the police service.

Senator Tito Sotto.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III, campaign manager of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. in the 2004 Presidential elections, welcomes the revelations of various witnesses attesting to the switching of election returns in the custody of the House of Representatives in favor of then candidate Arroyo, but at the same time regretted that it’s only now that they came out. His statements are directly quoted as follows:

“The public will recall that during the national canvassing of votes for president in the House of Representatives, I  moved to open just one dubious ballot box to determine if it would tally with the election returns, but I was outvoted by those in the camp of then President  Arroyo. Had my motion been granted, we would not have this spectacle of spilling the beans when it is too late,” Sotto stated.

“We believe in our hearts that FPJ won the elections for president in 2004, but the election returns appeared to be telling us another story.  Now that we have the operatives themselves coming out to reveal their participation in this fraud on the Filipino people, let us hear them out, as we wish that they came out 7 years earlier in May of 2004.   Truth-telling must be timely to be beneficial. ‘Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo,’ is an appropriate Filipino saying, Sotto concluded. (Jason de Asis)

PDEA intel officer nabbed by Nueva Ecija cops for robbery

SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija, July 31, 2011-Police Supt. Edgar Alan Okubo, chief of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) revealed that they arrested inside a subdivision here last Friday afternoon an intelligence officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency who is wanted for robbery and has pending warrants for grave coercion and for repeatedly failing to attend hearings involving drug-related cases where he is identified as Sherwin Holgado, 32, of Christianville Subdivision, Brgy. Abar 1st here, who is now detained at the PPSC stockade.

The PPSC team led by Inspector Alexander Reyes arrested Holgado inside the subdivision at around 2 in the afternoon Friday.

Okubo said that the arrest of Holgado was carried out by virtue of four warrants of arrest separately issued against him on April 29, May 16, July 12 and July 18 by two regional courts (RTCs) and a municipal trial court in cities (MTCC) in Cabanatuan City.

The warrants were issued by RTC Branch 27 Judge Angelo Perez for                Holgado’s failure to attend two hearings of drug-related cases, by RTC  Branch 25 Judge Teresita Cativo for robbery and by MTCC Branch 1 Judge Ana Marie-Joson Viterbo for grave coercion.

No bail bond was recommended for the warrants issued in connection with Holgado’s failure to attend the hearings while bail bonds totaling P112,000 were recommended for robbery and grave coercion.

San Jose City down town in Nueva Ecija.
Okubo said that the cases for robbery and grave coercion stemmed from an incident last February 19 when Holgado, accompanied by three others, barged into the house of businesswoman Zenaida Bustamante at Purok 1, Brgy MS Garcia, Cabanatuan City without any search warrant and stashed  away cash worth P16,000.00 and four cellular phones.

As they left Bustamante’s house, the suspects fired three shots to scare on-lookers. They even dragged a by-stander, Teresita Abergas inside their get-away vehicle looking for additional money. The two victims separately filed a case of robbery and grave coercion against Holgado’s group.

Okubo said that the two other warrants were in connection with his failure to appear in scheduled court hearings after taking part in two buy-bust operations of the PDEA last June 10, 2010 and September 20, 2010 which led to the arrests of several drug pushers in Cabanatuan City.  

Okubo said that Holgado has other pending cases for illegal possession of firearms and grave threats in the cities of Muñoz and San Jose stemming from his having drawn his gun following a traffic altercation with members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo who were directing traffic in front of the sect’s church along the Maharlika Highway in Muñoz last June 27, 2010. (Jason de Asis)

100 hectare forest land to be developed as Aurora tourism zone

MARIA AURORA, Aurora, July 31, 2011-Michael Palispis, chief of the provincial tourism office (PTO) revealed that a 100-hectare forested area spanning sitio Canili, Barangay San Juan in this town is being eyed as a premier sports adventure and eco-tourism zone by the provincial government which plans to put up tourism facilities, including a 700-meter zipline.

“The zipline project, which has been identified as a priority project by Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, is integrated in the proposed Aurora Forest Recreation and Rest Area, Park Development (AFRRAPD), a provincial tourism blueprint which his office is submitting to the Department of Tourism for inclusion in the National Tourism Master Plan,” Palispis said, including the construction of a hotel, conference hall and recreational facilities for water sports activities such as wakeboarding, jet skiing, kayaking, rappelling, and mountain trail.

Palispis said that cables for the installation of the zipline are already available, stretching from the Aniao islet - a known dive site - to the site of the weather forecasting system of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration.

“The zipline is similar to the one in Davao which - at 700 meters - is the longest existing zipline ahead of similar facilities in Cagayan de Oro and Subic,” he explained.      

Palispis said that the Tourism Industry and Enterprise Zone Authority led by its general manager Mark Lapid is also looking for a five-hectare area in the province which it intends to declare as a tourism enterprise zone, the tourism equivalent of a special economic zone with tax incentives for locators.

Palispis said that as a tourism enterprise zone, it will get state funding from Tieza which will construct the building, access road, water systems and related facilities, adding that the establishment of these tourist facilities is expected to further increase tourist arrivals in the province which registered a 300 percent jump over the last five years.

PTO records showed that visitor arrivals in the province reached a record-high of 68,395 in 2010 from a measly 11,534 in 2006. The province lured 10,778 tourists in 2007; 27,935 in 2008 and 52,316 in 2009.

In recognition of the feat, Palispis was adjudged provincial tourism officer for 2010 by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Palispis also revealed that the number of visitor arrivals recorded in the province was even a conservative estimate since this did not include those who checked in “home-stay” facilities. Palispis said that two of the major hotel facilities in this capital town are always fully booked because of the on-rush of in-bound visitors.

“Since 2011 to 2016 that have been declared as the country’s “Homecoming Years for Pinoys,” the provincial government has also launched its own “Balik-Aurora” campaign where balikbayan tourists are fetched at the airport and brought to various destinations in the province,” he added.

Prior to this, to boost tourism by attracting balikbayans to reunite with their families in the country anytime of the year, President Aquino issued Proclamation 181. (Jason de Asis)

CBCP launches website for World Youth Day

MANILA, July 30, 2011―The Filipino youth who are unable to participate personally in forthcoming World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid will have the opportunity to join the youth day celebrations in a virtual manner.
The Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has launched a website that will provide young Filipino Catholics the chance to participate in the various WYD activities in Madrid from August 16-21.

The online portal will provide a continuous update of events and activities as they happen for the entire duration of WYD celebrations.
The site will enable young people who were not able to go to Madrid as well as parents of pilgrims to follow closely the events as they unfold and will be able to communicate interactively with delegates as they post their sharings and testimonials online.
WYD Media Team
April Frances Ortigas, Web Administrator of YouthPinoy will be heading the YP Media Team for the WYD 2011.
Ortigas said that their presence in cyberspace is a response to the call of Pope Benedict XVI to make use of digital media and social communications and to make God visible in cyberspace.
“The media team is the 1st media delegation consists of six journalists [to] be sent to Spain to document what is happening with the Philippine delegation during the duration of the celebration of WYD,” she said.
“We will put personal sharings/reflections, updates on what the Filipino young people are doing, in the website as it happens. That is the reason why there is a WYD website,” explained Ortigas.
Ortigas also said that families and friends of the pilgrims will have first hand information on WYD events in Madrid as they unfold in real time.
Even if they are in the Philippines, friends and families of the pilgrims will feel the presence of WYD in Spain here in at home through the website, she said.
Opportunity to animate co-pilgrims
According to Maria Lea Dasigan of the National Secretariat for Youth Apostolate Filipino delegates will have the opportunity to animate co-pilgrims during the celebrations.
“As for the Philippine delegation, we have special participations such as the animation of a catechetical site, next is the opportunity to animate the Eucharistic Adoration of the overnight vigil with the Pope where three Filipinos are chosen to [seat] near the Pope in WYD stage. The vigil will be on the last day of the celebration,” she said.
Dasigan also explained that this World Youth Day celebration is not exclusive to young Catholics but also open to other religions.
One of the delegates who will be joining their delegation is a Muslim, she said.
Avenue of past, present and future WYDs
Jan Perlas of the Salt and Light EDSA Shrine Community expressed her gratitude for establishing a website solely intended for the World Youth Day celebration.
Perlas added that the website will be a place where events and activities in Madrid will be well documented as they unfold.
“This website is a living testimony of our firm faith, wherein it will be an avenue of the past, present and future World Youth Days and will be the central page of the youth where we can celebrate the WYD,” Perlas also said.

The website ( is a joint initiative of the CBCP Media Office Director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III and the CBCP-ECY Chairman and Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon and ECY Executive Secretary Fr. Conegundo Garganta.
It will be maintained and managed by the YouthPinoy team of 6 journalists. (Jandel Posion/CBCPNews)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 towns in northern Aurora to be declared under state of calamity

CASIGURAN, Aurora, July 29, 2011-After the heavy continuous rains and floodings brought by typhoon ‘Juaning’ in northern Aurora, the towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag are now on the process to be declared under the state of calamity today.

Rommel Angara, chief of staff of Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said that the proclamation of the 3 towns under the state of calamity would enable the provincial government and the congress to help the affected villagers in northern Aurora.

Although sporadic heavy rains have stopped, nearly 1,000 villagers in northern Aurora were evacuated due to tropical storm ‘Juaning” which caused flash floods last Wednesday.

Angara said that last night, they reached Dinalungan town and they are now proceeding to Casiguran and Dilasag after the department of public works and highways has cleared the main route. “The offices of the congressman and the provincial government have already given relief goods in Dinalungan,” Angara said.

Dinalungan, Aurora.
“The provincial government and GMA7 Kapuso foundation trucks with relief goods were brought to the Philippine Navy in barangay Dinadiawan to transport them by the sea for the immediate response to the victims of typhoon in the towns of Casiguran and Dilasag,” Angara added, although the LGU’s prepositioned their relief goods in advance for immediate response.

The provincial government teams of 48th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, police and rescue volunteers were sent to flood-prone areas in northern Aurora.

“Assessment on the damage to infrastructure and agriculture are still on-going; however, we will declare the 3 towns under the state of calamities today and progress report to follow,” Angara said in a telephone interview.

Casiguran, Aurora.
Earlier, it was reported   that 942 families involving 4,635 persons were evacuated in the towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag which have been isolated after landslides struck the landslide-prone Sitio Pimpolisan, Barangay Dianed and Barangay Abuleg in Dinalungan.
In Dilasag, 450 families were evacuated, followed by Dinalungan with 340 and 152 families in Casiguran.

The DPWH started clearing operation together with the army troopers yesterday and projected to be finished today. (Jason de Asis)

Quirino under state of calamity

QUIRINO, province, July 28, 2011-The entire province of Quirino has been declared under a state of calamity due to the devastation wrought by typhoon ‘Juaning’ in agriculture.

“There is a pressing need to give fullest assistance to our farmers in the province that was whipped by ‘Juaning’; thus, we declared the entire province under the state of calamity,” Governor Junie Cua said.

Cua told newsmen that a large portion in agriculture such as banana and corn fields among others which were at flowering stage have been destroyed by heavy rains and strong winds due to the storm.

Quirino Capitol Mart.
“The department of public works and highway already stopped in clearing the main route provincewide due to early operation of cleaning the area toppled by trees,” Cua said, adding that they are still conducting assessment on the damage in infrastructure and agriculture brought by typhoon in order to make a rehabilitation program to the affected villagers.

Prior to the declaration, other provinces such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes were already under the state of calamity.

Partial reports from the national disaster risk reduction and management council revealed that the death toll caused by tropical storm ‘Juaning” jumped to 35 Thursday afternoon with more than 146,000 families affected by floods and heavy rains.

25 people were still missing including the 19 fishermen from Masbate who disappeared last July 27, 2011. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(Update) Typhoon “Juaning” wrecked northern Aurora towns

BALER, Aurora, July 28, 2011-A close to 1,000 families were evacuated forcibly by the provincial government as heavy rains dumped by tropical storm “Juaning” Wednesday which caused flash floods in northern Aurora, stranding hundreds of commuters.

Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo said that they are still assessing the extent of the damage to properties, infrastructures and agricultures by the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council who is out today exerting fullest effort to help Auroran’s.

“All relief goods were already pre-positioned to the affected families for the immediate response,” Angara-Castillo said.

Erson Egargue, chief of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said that 942 families involving 4,635 persons were evacuated in the towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag which have been isolated from this capital town after landslides struck the landslide-prone Sitio Pimpolisan, Barangay Dianed and Barangay Abuleg in Dinalungan.

Egargue said that Dilasag accounts for almost half of the number of families evacuated with 450, followed by Dinalungan with 340 and Casiguran (152 families).

Mud flowed and rocks littered the Baler-Casiguran-Dilasag national road which was closed to vehicular traffic. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started road-clearing operations today morning.

Elmer Dabbay, DPWH district engineer in the province, said that they expect to open the road at the soonest time possible.

Some Portions of the Baler-Bongabon road in Barangay Villa, Maria Aurora town was also closed when a makeshift bridge was washed away by floods. Also destroyed was the approach of the Dimalang Bridge in Barangay Culat, Casiguran.  

Disaster officials have advised against traveling through the Pantabangan-Canili road, the main route to the province because of continuous heavy rains.

Toppled trees in Dinalungan, Aurora.
(Photo Courtesy: LGU Dinalungan)
In Casiguran, almost chest-deep floodwaters buried nine (9) barangays when the Minanga, Muntay and Tabas rivers overflowed Wednesday.  

Rommel Angara, chief of staff of Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said that the flood affected barangays were Culat, Dibacong, Dibet, Esperanza, Estevez,  Poblacion 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Tabas.

Villagers from barangays of Culat, Dibacong and Esperanza were moved to higher grounds for safety with the help of Bravo Coy of the 48th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army (PA) led by Captain Ronaldo Ferrer and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

LTC Kurt Decapia, chief 48th IB, PA said in a telephone interview that the soldiers are now helping our government in clearing the main route from Baler going to Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag, adding that they are now bringing the relief goods donated by GMA7 Kapuso foundation for the affected villagers who were whipped by ‘Juaning’.

Strong winds blew off the roof of 30 houses at barangay Estevez and toppled the town’s century-old tree at Ermita Hill, Poblacion.

Heavy rains and winds toppled electric posts and trees, cutting off power last Tuesday night. (Jason de Asis)

Typhoon Juaning wrecked northern Aurora towns

CASIGURAN, Aurora, July 28, 2011-Rommel Angara, District chief of staff of Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara revealed that continues heavy rains starting Tuesday due to typhoon Juaning which struck Wednesday resulted to the flooding of nine (9) barangays here.

The Tabas, Minanga and Muntay river overflowed and the latter’s drainage culvert was damaged that caused the flooding in the barangays of Culat, Tabas, Esperanza, Estevez, Dibet, Poblacion 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The strong winds blew off the roof of 30 houses at barangay Estevez, including the falling of the town’s century tree at Ermita hill, Poblacion here.

Villagers of the affected barangays in Dibacong, Esperanza and Culat yesterday moved to the hills to escape the strong river current and rising floodwaters at past 10 in the morning which reached chest deep in this town.

“Casiguran was battered by strong heavy rains, winds and the town’s coastline was struck by strong waves,” he said.

Strong winds toppled electric posts and fallen trees hit the power lines that resulted to total black out Tuesday night.

Heavy strong winds blew off the roof of the school building in barangay Lawang in Dilasag.

At least 340 families along the riverside of village zone 1 in Dinalungan were evacuated Wednesday morning.

Effect of Juaning in Poblacion Dinalungan, Aurora.
(Photo Courtesy: LGU Dinalungan) 
“The local government units, police, army are already in the place and exerting fullest efforts to evacuate families in the flooded areas,” Angara said, adding that the relief goods were prepared to distribute to the victims of typhoon that hit northern Aurora to include the municipalities of Dinalungan, Dipaculao and Dilasag aside from Casiguran.

Angara said that clearing operations are on-going to fix landslides at Brgy. Dianed, Dipaculao. “The DPWH is in-charge in clearing the mud and rocks that blocked various portions of the Baler-Casiguran road,” he added.

“The provincial government is ready to give assistance to the affected families and the military and police are there to rescue them including the reported hundred of stranded vans and bus passengers in the barangays of Dianed and Dinadiawan,” he furthered.

Retrieval operations in the affected villages are still on-going to include the assessment of the damages on crops, livelihoods, properties, buildings among others. (Jason de Asis)

PhilRice developed rice hull gasifier that reduces irrigation costs by 44%

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija, July 28, 2011-To reduce irrigation costs by up to 44 percent and environmental hazards, a new rice hull gasifier engine-pump system was developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

PhilRice executive said that farmers who use gasoline to run irrigation pumps in their farmlands can now heave a sigh of relief.

The facility was developed by a PhilRice team composed of Arnold S. Juliano, Joel A. Ramos, Leo B. Moliñawe, and Dr. Eulito Bautista. The team, led by Juliano, said that running the engine-pump with rice hull will only cost farmers less than a peso to generate a cubic meter of water while using gasoline-fueled pumps costs about P2 where the local mobile gasifier engine-pump system reduces irrigation costs up to 37 percent when using gasoline and 44 percent when utilizing diesel.

“A four kilogram rice hull load could run the engine for 90 minutes at a maintaining speed of 2000 rpm and discharges an average of five liters per second water from a ground water table of 2.15 meters.  Field tests also showed the gasifier can run up to 100 hours with minimal problems,” Juliano said.

He said that during the 24th National Rice R&D Conference at the institute’s central experiment station here and during the 61st Annual National Convention of the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers in Zamboanga del Norte, the study on the development of a mobile ricehull gasifier engine-pump system won best paper.

PhilRice, a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), is in the forefront of  developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies as part of its mandate to ensure that farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

“The machine is designed to be compact, mobile, and affordable and reduces green house gases emissions as rice hull is converted to power the machine. The wastes produced after rice hull burning within the system can be used as soil conditioner in seedbed, mulching material, and ingredient in producing organic fertilizer,” Juliano explained, adding that the machine has been improvised to be more movable by reducing machine components to 40 percent, cutting its volume weight from 500 to 400 kilogram. More significantly, he said with less parts, the cost is reduced from P86,000 to P65,000.

He said that by continuously improvising the machine, we hope that more farmer cooperatives will invest not only to save, but to help reduce the contribution of burning rice hull in global warming.

“I advised farmers who will use the machine to clean and dry the rice hull load to produce quality gas that can run the engine with high speed and maintain good water pumping performance. After an 80-hour operation, oil should also be changed,” Juliano ended. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Senate approves Senator Chiz bill on enforced disappearances

In white T-shirt (L): Fr. Francis Lucas, CMN Chairman and
Senator Chiz Escudero at CBCP-CMN Forum.

MANILA, July 27, 2011-The Senate yesterday approved Senator Chiz Escudero’s senate bill no. 2817 that penalizes perpetrators of enforced or involuntary disappearances.

The bill is also known as “an Act defining and penalizing the crime of enforced or involuntary disappearance,” which imposes a jail term of 20 to 40 years on perpetrators of involuntary disappearance.

“Involuntary disappearance refers to the deprivation of liberty committed by state authorities such as the military, police or other law enforcers or by persons or groups of persons bearing authorization or the consent and support of public officers.”

Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, explained that there is no law at present that defines and penalizes enforced disappearances, saying that at present, complaints filed against perpetrators of involuntary disappearance are lodged as kidnapping, murder or illegal detention.

“The measure, in tandem with the recently approved Anti-Torture Law, provides strong “muscle” against abuse of state power,” Escudero said, adding that the crime of involuntary disappearance is not yet considered a crime under our laws so we are endorsing this bill to institute mechanisms and to strengthen existing policies in favor of human rights.

“The enactment of the bill will guarantee that the person under detention can immediately inform his/her family, relatives, lawyer or human rights organization of his/her whereabouts and condition,” he furthered.

The proposed bill prohibits the issuances of “orders of battle” or other similar issuances by the police, military or any law enforcement agency to justify an enforced or involuntary disappearance under Section 5.

Since the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, human rights advocates revealed that the rate of enforced disappearances has steadily increased.

Escudero cited the Franciscan International (FI) an organization founded by the Franciscan Order which revealed that the United Nations’ Working Group on Disappearances transmitted to the Philippine government a total of 781 cases of disappearances since it was established.  

Out of the 781 documented cases, 35 have been clarified based on the information received from the source, 126 cases have been clarified based on the information received by the Philippine government while 620 cases remained unsolved.

FI said that the majority of the targets were left wing and community activists who expressed criticisms against government policies and programs, especially those related to economic, social and cultural rights, including land issues.

Karapatan, a human rights advocates revealed that there were more than 900 activists, journalists, street children, petty thieves and outspoken clergy who were victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings last 2009.

“The imposition of penalties on perpetrators of enforced disappearances would drastically reduce the number of involuntary disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the country,” Escudero believed.

Section 14 of the proposed law also states that persons who directly force, instigate, encourage or induce others to commit the act of involuntary disappearance will be meted life imprisonment.

Life imprisonment will be meted to officials who allowed involuntary disappearances or those who abetted in the consummation of enforced disappearances when it is within their power to stop or to uncover the crime. Persons who cooperated in the execution of enforced disappearances by previous or simultaneous acts will also be meted life imprisonment.

The bill stated that those who attempted to commit the crime of involuntary disappearance as well as those who assisted the offenders by destroying evidence to prevent its discovery will be subjected for imprisonment of 12 years to 20 years awaits.

Persons who defy, ignore or unduly delay compliance with any order duly issued or promulgated pursuant to the writs of habeas corpus or amparo on their respective proceedings will also be subjected to imprisonment from six to 12 years.

Senators Escudero, Villar, Defensor-Santiago and Pangilinan filed SBN 2872, consolidated version of legislative measures. (Jason de Asis)


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