Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bagyong Pedring Patuloy na Umuusad Patungong Isabela at Aurora

BALER, Aurora, Setyembre 26, 2011-Napanatili ng bagyong Pedring ang lakas nito habang patuloy na umuusad papuntang lalawigan ng Isabela at Aurora.

Ayon sa Baler, Aurora-Pagasa, huling namataan ang bagyo sa layong 260 kilometro sa silangan hilagang silangan ng Virac, Catanduanes.

Taglay pa rin nito ang lakas ng hangin na umaabot sa 110 kilometro bawat oras at may pagbugsong hangin na umaabot ng 140 kilometro bawat oras.

Umuusad ito ng pakanluran hilagang kanluran sa bilis na 17 kilometro bawat oras.
Inaasahan na tatama ang mata ng bagyo sa kalupaan Aurora-Isabela bukas  ng umaga araw ng Martes.

Nakataas ngayon ang signal number 2 sa lalawigan ng Isabela, Aurora, Catanduanes, Pilillo Island, Camarines Norte at Camarines Sur.

Signal number 1 naman sa Albay kabilang na ang Burias Island, Sorsogon, Quezon, Quirino, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Mt. Province, Kalinga at Cagayan.

Dahil dito inalerto ng Pagasa ang mga residente na nasa mga lugar na may storm signals na paghandaan ang mga pagbaha at pagguho ng lupa lalo't nasa 10-20 mm bawat oras ang dalang ulan ng bagyo habang may lawak na 600  kilometro. (Bagong Aurora Website ng Bayan) 

Save dying coconut industry-Kiko

MANILA, September 26, 2011-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food bats  the Department of Agriculture and key players in the coconut industry to save the country’s dying coconut industry as he welcomes news from President Benigno Aquino III’s U.S. trip regarding potential foreign investments in the Philippine coconut industry.

“The President revealed that two U.S. companies, Pepsi Co. and Vita Coco, are looking to invest $15 million within the next four years, to meet the surging demand for coco water, saying that the country’s ‘buko’ juice is very rich in electrolytes and minerals and could therefore be a healthier alternative to sports drinks,” Pangilinan said, pointing out that these foreign investments will mean nothing if our coconut industry is dead.

Pangilinan said that earlier this month, he called on the Department of Agriculture to allow five billion pesos from the irrigation budget to help save the coconut industry, because no less than the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) had said that the country’s coconut trees are dying.

PCA revealed that over 44 million coconut trees are already classified as “old and senile” and can no longer bear any fruit, saying that about 27 percent of the total agricultural lands (in the Philippines) belong to coconut. “We have plenty of senile trees, those over 60 years old. Of the 230 million trees, 14 percent are old,” PCA Administrator Euclides Flores quoted.

Pangilinan said that the first order of business is to bring the coconut industry back to life. There is a pressing need to revive this dying industry, invest the necessary government funding to boost coconut production and to ensure the income of the farmers, and develop a roadmap for the sustainability of coconut production.

Pangilinan added that aside from the U.S., let’s also look at other markets for buko juice and other coconut products worldwide, especially now that demand is on an upswing again.

“The bottomline for these efforts would be to lift coconut farmers out of poverty. Vhile The Philippines is known for its coconut products, its coconut farmers earn only P30,000 a year,” Pangilinan pointed out.

“How can anyone live or raise a family on just P30.000 a year, or just P2,500 a month,” Pangilinan asked.  “This is totally unacceptable and unjust. With these new investments, coconut industry should be resurgence and a better life for our coconut farmers. The Government and the private sector should make sure that we don’t lose out on this opportunity,” he said. (Jason de Asis)

Estrada slams Robredo over imported fire trucks probe

MANILA, September 25, 2011-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada slammed the looming fire trucks controversy even as he chided Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo over what he described as his obvious lack of vision to prepare the country during emergency situations especially during fires and natural calamities.

He also took Robredo to task for the continued delay in the purchase of reliable fire trucks which he said are the local government units’ frontline of defense during critical times.

Estrada noted that in critical and emergency situations, fire trucks are our first line of defense and are called to respond and to provide assistance to those who are in need.

“So what’s taking him (Robredo) too long in purchasing fire trucks that are supposed to be distributed to our LGUs?” he asked, saying that the country lacks around 1,600 units of fire trucks to be distributed to LGUs nationwide for them to sufficiently and to efficiently respond during emergency situations records showed.

Estrada likewise questioned Robredo’s preference for imported, more expensive and possibly reconditioned fire trucks over locally manufactured ones.

He stressed that Robredo should explain why he is pushing hard to enter into deal that would pay for a more expensive imported fire trucks over locally manufactured units, adding that the importation was actually already rejected by the Arroyo administration for being erroneous, but the deal was suspiciously revived with the takeover of the Aquino administration.

Estrada was referring to the Rosenbauer fire trucks to be imported from Austria which based on records would cost more than P20 million each as compared to Philippine-made fire trucks worth only P9 million each.

The present deal will import 76 fire trucks for P1.3 billion but the actual plan is for BFP to purchase more than 1,000 units, after which every municipality will receive one fire truck each.

“The Austrian government will lend the money to buy the fire trucks, “in as much as it was a loan, therefore it would earn interests,” Estrada noted.

“Although the acquisition cost for each truck is listed at P17.5 million which is already very expensive when compared to local trucks, it would balloon to P20 million each excluding taxes and duties that will amount to around P185 million,” Estrada pointed out.

The BFP has been patronizing the tropicalized Filipino-made fire trucks that were specifically designed to suit the needs, terrain and fire conditions in the Philippines for many years.

Estrada also slammed Robredo for abandoning the Filipino First policy that seeks to protect the interest of local manufacturers and inventors which is specifically outlined in the Constitution.

“If the Rosenbauer deal pushes through, I believe that it would severely dislocate hundreds if not thousands of Filipino workers in the fire truck manufacturing industry, which is against the job generation efforts of the government,” the senator added.  

The BFP has scheduled a public bidding for the supply of fire trucks on Sept. 30 but the specifications are clearly and specifically designed for imported fire trucks which many observers see as in preparation for the acquisition of the Austrian fire trucks thus depriving locally made fire trucks from participation.

Estrada averred that certainly he don’t see the logic behind Robredo’s insistence to purchase expensive and imported fire trucks when we can buy them at a much lower price from local manufacturers. (Jason de Asis)

Friday, September 23, 2011

No mercy for erring soldier says NOLCOM chief

BALER, Aurora, September, 24, 2011-A top executive of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) lambasted the involvement of a soldier including three civilians after they were nabbed by Baler police in the recent drug net operation at Purok 4, Brgy. Buhangin here Wednesday night, saying that no mercy for erring soldier who will be proven guilty.

NOLCOM Chief, Major General Jessie D. Dellosa said that he will not tolerate the wrongdoings of any personnel under his Command if proven guilty following the apprehension of one Private Jovito Virrey, assigned at 18th Special Forces Company under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) based in Hagonoy, Bulacan who was caught in the house of suspected drug pusher identified as Francisco Sotero.

“Let the investigations take its course.  That soldier better explain and justify his presence in that area, otherwise, he will have to face the legal consequences of his actions,”  Dellosa said.  

“The AFP is bent to weed the organization of scalawags and misfits following controversies particularly those involving former officers. “Our Commmander-in-Chief is serious in his "daang matuwid” (straight path) towards genuine reform, and so are we. If some individuals insist in trekking the crooked path,  it is incumbent upon us being their Commander to prevent a few rotten eggs from spoiling the entire organization,” Dellosa said.

Earlier, police anti-drug operation led by Police Chief Inspector Edgardo D. Togonon, Baler PNP chief of police resulted to the arrest of Private Virrey, his brother Reginal both native of Sitio Virrey, Brgy. Pingit, Ricardo delos Santos of Sitio Baclaran, Brgy. Suklayin, and Francisco Sotero of Brgy. Buhangin

The suspects are now in the provincial jail after the Aurora Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory examined them and confirmed that they were all positive in the drug test aside from having confiscated one (1) heat sealed transparent sachet containing Methamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as “SHABU” weighing 1.20 grams, all in all 15 drug paraphernalia in the possession of Sotero. (Jason de Asis)

Army seized 2 high powered firearms in a clash with Ilocos Sur rebels

CERVANTES, Ilocos Sur, September 24, 2011-Soldiers of Charlie Company, 50th Infantry Batallion under 1st Lt. Dan Michael Milan and 2nd lt  Randee Alog seized 1 M16 rifle with magazine and 1 M14 rifle with magazine in the yesterday firefights with rebels at around nine o’clock in the morning in  Barangay Remedios, Cervantes,  Ilocos Sur after it was tipped off by concerned residents here.

Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Chief Major General Jessie D. Dellosa said that Ilocos Sur is one of the provinces scheduled for handover to the PNP and local government unit because of the improved security situation. 

“It happens that in areas declared insurgency-free, the New People’s Army (NPA) simply refused to acknowledge the fact that the populace even the NPA former mass bases do not want this armed conflict (among Filipinos) to continue anymore. The NPAs go out of their way to make their presence felt by regrouping with ragtag elements from other areas in order to show the people that they still have the number,” Dellosa said.

In Ilocos Region, two provinces namely La Union and Pangasinan were already declared insurgency-free.  “It is just a matter of time before Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte will follow suit because the AFP and PNP here joined efforts in addressing all peace and security concerns in the region with the full support of the local governments unit of course”,  Dellosa explained.

As of this report the firefights still ongoing.  “The exact number of casualties on the enemy side cannot be determined yet.  On the government side, Private First Class Jessie Camacho was slightly wounded on his back,” says Delloso. (Jason de Asis)  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trillanes sought Senate probe P 1.15 Billion DOTC procurement scam

MANILA, September 23, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Chair of the Senate Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement sought for a Senate probe on the alleged anomalous procurement of P1.15-billion worth of equipment by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) during the time of former Secretary Leandro Mendoza where he filed senate resolution number 609.

Trillanes measure directs the Senate Blue Ribbon panel and the Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement and other relevant committees of the Senate to conduct a joint investigation into the alleged irregularities in the DOTC’s purchase of oil spill response equipment and lighthouse or aids to navigation (ATON) spare parts intended for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in 2007.

“It is very alarming over allegations that those purchases were attended by numerous irregularities such as blatant violation of Republic Act 9184 – otherwise known as the Government Procurement Act of 2003 – as well as overpricing, falsification of documents, the use of fraudulent bank certifications and a tainted bidding process,” Trillanes said.

The young legislator said that his call for investigation is not only to determine compliance with RA 9184 but also to enact remedial legislation to strengthen said act and other relevant laws of the land.

Trillanes noted the allegations that the agency had used lapsed special allotment release orders (SAROs) for the purchases in the case of the questioned transactions.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued three SAROs amounting to P250 million, P300 million and P400 million, respectively, as funding for the upgrading and repair of various light stations in the country, and to cover the requirements needed for the PCG’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).

Trillanes said that under the NOSCP, the DOTC invited prospective parties to participate in the bidding of the Aids to Navigation (ATON) spare parts for the repair and maintenance of lighthouses nationwide and the Marine Environmental Protection Equipment (MEPE) and supplies.

Trillanes said that the DOTC proceeded to utilize the intended SAROs despite the fact that their validity had already lapsed in both cases, adding that the DOTC did not even bother to ask the DBM to extend the SAROs before pushing through the procurement process.

“The ATON spare parts were apparently procured even without any request and without the knowledge of the supposed end-user, the PCG.  Because of these, hundreds of millions worth of equipment and spare parts are rotting in the DOTC’s stockroom for over a year now.  Clearly, those responsible for wasting over a billion of the people’s money should be held accountable.  The money could have gone a long way in enhancing the capabilities of the PCG, if said money was spent properly.  This is clearly unforgivable.  If this is true, this is even bigger than the P728 Million fertilizer scam,” Trillanes explained. (Jason de Asis)

Agri fund ghost borrowers discovered by Drilon

MANILA, September 23, 2011-Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee revealed Thursday that several “ghost” borrowers were extended loans by the Department of Agriculture have been granted billions worth of assistance under the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) in 2010, a special purpose fund intended to help farmers and cooperatives, saying that the government will no longer be able to collect a total of P2.5 billion worth of loans.

Drilon cited the latest Commission on Audit (COA) report stating that hundreds of companies were extended loans by the Department of Agriculture from 2000 to 2009, a majority of which were done during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but the state auditing agency cannot locate what appeared as “ghost” borrowers.

“Since borrowing does not require collateral and has no interest, I suspected that business ventures were opened just to advance from the multi-billion government credit line, pointing out what appears as collusion between previous DA officials and recipients of the agricultural support fund,” Drilon said, saying that the government is clearly prejudiced in this case because the amount could not be collected anymore since these are clearly ghost borrowers.

The COA report on the agency noted that letters of confirmation were sent to the borrowers but these yielded negative results. Of the 264 confirmation letters sent to the borrowers, 140 did not reply for balances totaling P2.1 billion and 27 with balances of P370 million returned the letters to the COA due to various reasons.

“Beneficiaries that borrowed a total of P66.4 million, meanwhile, failed to pay back their loans due to closure of the companies affected by typhoons and firms that no longer exist. The audit agency said that P1 million in loans may not be collected anymore because of death, insufficient address or unknown identity of the borrower,” Drilon said.

During a budget hearing of the Agriculture department last year, Lyndon Tan, owner of Basic Necessity who is closely identified with former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, has been identified as recipient of the P38 million loan under ACEF. He, however, was only able to pay, at that time, about P2.5 million. Later, Tan, who requested that the DA restructure his loan, was appointed as member of ACEF Executive Committee in 2008, under Yap’s watch.

“We do not want to see a repeat of this again,” Drilon said, adding that he may include the matter in the impending investigation to be conducted by the Senate regarding the alleged irregularities in farm-to-market projects executed during the latter part of the Arroyo administration.

Newspaper reported that P10 billion in ACEF funds has already dissipated, apparently due to the irregularities committed by previous Agriculture officials, politicians and businessmen supposedly favored by the Arroyo administration.

The coverage of the fund was expanded to include micro, small and medium scale agricultural enterprises, aquaculture and fisheries sectors, young entrepreneurs, out-of-school youths, graduates of agriculture-related courses, and agricultural cooperatives, among others.

In 1996 the ACEF was enacted and served as a special purpose fund created by Republic Act 8178 or Agricultural Tariffication Act which comes from all duties of the importation of agricultural products. The program was supposed to fold up in 2007, but in 2008, Congress extended the program’s implementation until 2015. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

1 Army and 3 civilians nabbed by Aurora cops in a drug net

BALER, Aurora, September 22, 2011-By virtue of search warrant number 2011-1 issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 96 Judge Corazon D. Soluren, Aurora cops arrested one army and three civilians at around 6:50 Wednesday night after they conducted anti-drug operation to allegedly known drug pusher at Brgy. Buhangin.

Police Chief Inspector Edgardo D. Togonon, Baler PNP chief of police led the operation which resulted to the arrest of Army Pvt Jovito Virrey, Special Forces of the AFP Southern Luzon Command based in Bulacan, his brother Reginal both native of Sitio Virrey, Brgy. Pingit, Francisco Sotero of Brgy. Buhangin and Ricardo delos Santos of Sitio Baclaran, Brgy. Suklayin after caught in the act of using shabu.

The team seized one (1) heat sealed transparent sachet containing Methamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as “SHABU” weighing 1.20 grams, all in all 15 drug paraphernalia in the possession of suspect Sotero.

The suspects were brought to Baler PNP station and later on to Aurora PNP Crime Laboratory for drug test.

Togonon said that the arrest against the culprits was carried out after several days of intelligence build-up.  

“This morning charges will be filed against the suspects in violation of republic act 9165 commonly known as the comprehensive dangerous act of 2002 at the provincial prosecutor’s office before inquest at the provincial jail,” Togonon said. (Jason de Asis)



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

De Lima should explain VIP treatment to former FG says Trillanes

MANILA, September 21, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV urges Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to explain her apparent selective application of the law and her VIP treatment to former First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo.

Trillanes reacted on media reports that Mr. Arroyo left the country via Munich, Germany for medical reasons, saying that De Lima must explain why she decided not to place former FG Mike Arroyo in the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) watch list despite of the plunder charge filed by the Criminal Investigation Detective Group (CIDG) against him, in the same manner she has placed others with similar charges in the watch list.

“This is clearly contrary to the position she took in earlier cases, like the case of former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino and his children, who were all placed in the watch list on the basis of plunder charges filed against them,” Trillanes said. 

The senator recalled that two or three weeks ago, Sec. De Lima said in a press conference that she is studying the possibility of placing FG in the watch list.

“As usual, it was all just a press release.  Now the horse walked out of the barn because she left the barn door wide open,” Trillanes stressed, pointing out that by not placing former FG Arroyo in the watch list, she is allowing him to flaunt the law and leave the country unchallenged despite of the serious charges against him.

“De Lima should explain and take responsibility in case he does not return anymore to face the charges against him,” Trillanes added.    

Trillanes earlier demanded for the resignation of Sec. De Lima because of the supposed failure of the latter to pursue the numerous cases filed against former President and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo despite of the fact that she has been in office for more than fourteen (14) months. (Jason de Asis)

Aurora ecozone official bats to revoke architect Palafox’s license

MANILA, September 20, 2011-The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) calls to speed up the hearings on high-profile architect Felino Palafox, Jr. who has been accused of violating the code of ethics for architects and environmental planners and sabotaging the development of Aurora ecozone being developed in Eastern Central Luzon.

The APECO filed complaints last May 2011 with the two Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) board, stating that Palafox’s license to practice should be suspended if the Boards of Architecture and Environmental Planning under the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) find him guilty of breaching the code of ethics for architects and environmental planners.
  
APECO fired Palafox as master planner after the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) declared the plans he prepared for the ecozone unusable.

“Palafox, nonetheless, charged and collected P32 million for the unused plans,” APECO President Robbie Mathay said.

“Palafox did not only rob APECO blind, but also the communities that stand to benefit from the development,” said Mathay. “The lesson we have learned here is this: self-proclaimed gold is oftentimes dross,” he said, saying that Palafox’s sloppy work is proof that he is hardly the conscientious architect he pretends to be.

APECO awarded and signed a design services contract with Palafox Associates, which won the bidding for the master plan development of the ecozone last November 2008.

Last March 2009, Palafox Associates requested a supplemental contract from APECO covering hydrologic study and hydraulic design allegedly not covered by the original contract. Both parties signed the supplemental contract in June of the same year.

“A month later, Palafox Associates informed APECO of its outstanding balance amounting to almost P8.5 million in professional fees,” Mathay said.

APECO responded with a memorandum supported by the OGCC stating that the surveys under the supplemental contract were already covered by the original design services contract.

The CAAP and PPA also issued an opinion stating that Palafox Associates’ design placing the seaport in close proximity to the airport was ill-chosen, rendering the design useless.

APECO asserted that Palafox acted in bad faith when it insisted on a supplemental contract even before the original contract was fully completed, the complaint stated.

“Palafox claimed that the original contract could not be accomplished without the supplemental studies and surveys. However, Palafox Associates eventually submitted reports without actually conducting the surveys and studies it proposed, resulting in unusable and defective plans,” Mathay said, explaining that not content with the damages he had already caused APECO, Palafox still divulges information he acquired during his service to APECO, in clear violation of the confidentiality of information between the client and contractor.

“Palafox Associates acted in bad faith,” Mathay said. “They took advantage of APECO’s trust, inducing it to enter into an unnecessary supplemental agreement and practically robbing it blind, adding that Palafox failed to protect APECO’s interests as its client and even caused incalculable harm to the ecozone’s development.

“Until now Palafox continues to make malicious allegations and libelous statements against APECO; thus, Palafox must be disciplined and penalized once and for all,” Mathay ended. 

Prior to this, international architect Jun Palafox filed graft and corruption against Senator Edgardo J. Angara and 4 others in connection with the creation of the ecozone in Aurora. (Jason de Asis)

Angara slams graft raps filed by Palafox

BALER, Aurora, September 20, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara slams international urban planner and architect Felino “Jun” Palafox in the creation of the economic zone in Aurora province accusing Palafox for violation of ethics for architects and environmental planners and sabotaging the development of the ecozone that is being developed in Eastern Central Luzon.

“When Palafox and Associates was awarded the design contract for the master plan of the Aurora ecozone after a public bidding in November of 2008, we welcomed what we thought then was a piece of good news.  From his many TV interviews, Felino Palafox Jr. appears as a conscientious architect imbued with a civic spirit,” Angara said.

“How wrong we were,” he asked, saying that for a fee of P32 million, Palafox and Associates came  out with a master plan that was declared useless by three government agencies: the Philippine Ports  Authority (PPA), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).

“It was a sloppy piece of design work that proposed a seaport very near an airport. That shabby piece of architecture would endanger the whole project, according to the agencies that evaluated the technical and environmental soundness of the Palafox master plan,” Angara said in his statement. 

The veteran Senator said that instead of correcting the design of Palafox, the self-proclaimed “internationally-known architect” engaged in an accusing binge after the rejection of his master plan. He called the ecozone project—that was initiated to lift underdeveloped areas on the coastal areas of Central Luzon into the 21st century—a “scam”.

“He accused us of benefitting from the project, which belongs to the government and where our participation is a requisite of the law creating the ecozone, a project that has been considerably derailed by the faulty and shabby design work of Palafox,” Angara said, explaining that if there was anybody that benefitted from the project it was Felino Palafox Jr.

“Palafox useless design work with a billing of P32 million, the administrators of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority have decided to take action against Palafox Jr. They have had enough of this phony,” Angara said. 

Angara said that Palafox was accused of violating the code of ethics of architects before the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and violating the code of ethics of environmental planners before the Environmental Planning Board under the commission.

“The two charges seek to strip him of his license, which, hopefully, would strip of him of the moral perch he has been using as platform for his professional bankruptcy and phoniness,” Angara ended.

Prior to this, Palafox Jr. has filed in a 5-page graft and corruption complaints against Angara and four others for allowing the creation of the ecozone in Aurora before the Ombudsman.

It was stated in his complaint that Angara allowed the creation of Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) even if the area was prone to floods and landslides.

Palafox also raised the conflict of interest issue where the Angara’s relatives are supposedly members of the APECO board. (Jason de Asis)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kiko calls to unmask masterminds of P7.5B farm to market probe

MANILA, September 20, 2011-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Foods calls to unmask the mastermind of P7.5B farm to market roads.

Pangilinan said that his committee wants to investigate the enormous amount released from the Department of Agriculture (DA) during 2010’s election period supposedly to be used in constructing farm to market roads without a work program.

“If found true that no farm-to-market road was constructed when this amount was released from January to June 2010, then those responsible for this anomaly must be held accountable and must explain themselves to those who toil their farms relentlessly yet remain below the poverty line,” Pangilinan said.

“I will file a resolution calling for an investigation into the anomaly, especially considering COA reports that funds to be used in constructing farm-to-market roads in Maguindanao were mostly spent for gas purchases from service stations owned by former President Arroyo’s known allies the Ampatuans,” he added.

“This is plunder. Our people were deprived of the opportunity to improve their lives with the help of these much-needed roads,” he furthered.

Pangilinan said that theft of government money through anomalous transactions must be ended. The people particularly the farmers should be given justice from their overlong plight. There is a need to trace where the said enormous funds went and the culprits and their accomplices should be punished. (Jason de Asis)

Senate approves Geology Profession Law

MANILA, September 20, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, author of Senate Bill No. 2941 was approved on third reading of the senate that seeks to repeal the 46-year-old geology profession law and replace it with a new measure that will govern the practice of geology
profession and education in the country.

Trillanes has been pushing for a new law to make it attuned to the present conditions and global standards and at the same time protect the practice of profession in the country from unqualified foreign nationals.

Trillanes said that geology profession has grown and has become even more vital in our society as well in our economic activities in order to address our country’s present needs in areas such as the continued search for energy sources, mineral resources, land development, mitigating natural hazards, geotechnical and geothermal studies for infrastructures, and environmental planning and monitoring.

Trillanes, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization said that the existing law which covers the geology profession has become completely out-dated, if not obsolete, in the context of developing nation and globalizing world.

The proposed measure stated the following salient features such as; to wit, it redefines and expands the coverage of the practice of geology, and delineates the scope of the practice vis-a-vis other allied fields such as mining and metallurgical engineering; It establishes the creation of a board which shall be named the Professional Regulatory Board of Geology and shall supervise, control, and regulate the practice of geology. It states the Board’s authority
in the conduct of education, examination and licensing of geologists; It provides for a guideline in issuing the certificates of registration and identification card, as well as the certificate of specialization to our professionals; It provides for a mandatory continuing professional education for geologists in order to ensure that they would be up-to-date on the latest development and innovations in their profession; and the bill includes a foreign reciprocity clause which prohibits the practice of foreign geologist in the country unless the country of the foreigner geologist grants the same or similar privileges to Filipino
geologists in their country.

The other version of Trillanes bill is House Bill No. 380 which is still pending with the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation. (Jason de Asis)

P500 thousand pesos awarded to Abra former rebels

BANGUED, Abra, September 20, 2011-A total of five hundred thousand pesos was given as financial assistance by the Department of social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to ten former rebels at the provincial Capitol.

The former New People’s Army (NPA) were awarded 50,000 pesos each by the government through the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) identified as Igan B Luebyang, Jaime P Luis, Samuel C Gamsawen, Jimmy C Monlingit, Vilma S Valera, Viado S Cayyong, Junjun G Sibalo, Ariel B Sibalo, Joel J Fransisco, Villamor T Bringas and Carmelita B Balweg, the wife of Jovencio Balweg, a former NPA commander and the brother of the late rebel priest Fr. Condrado Balweg.

Governor Eustaquio Bersamin of Abra advised the former rebels to spend their money wisely and invest it in business or livelihood venture for it to be sustained.

Col Eliseo Posadas, the commanding officer of 503rd Brigade and Lt. Col. Noel T Baluyan, the commanding officer of 41st IB, Philippine Army witnessed the ceremony.

“We have called it Local Peace Talk (LPT). We are asking the remnants of NPA here in Abra to go down and surrender. In our level in the military, we will give 15,000 pesos to rebels who will surrender with their arm. We will then turn them over to the DSWD for guidance counseling and then to Gov. Bersamin for them to avail the financial livelihood assistance that will be given to them by the Governor.” Posadas said.

The Social Integration Program (SIP) is a government program that involves a set of intervention for ex-rebels and their dependents. SIP is under the supervision of the National Committee on Social Integration under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) The committee was created by virtue of Administrative Order 172; Creating the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) tasked to implement the SIP for rebel groups.

“The goals of SIP are both short and long term. The immediate goal of the SIP is the improvement of security condition (restoration of peace and security) to allow for peaceful social and economic activities, while the long term goal is the sustained social and economic re-integration of former rebels into a peaceful society,” Posadas said. (Jason de Asis)

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