Thursday, April 7, 2011

Four women shop-lifters nabbed by cops in Ecija bust

GAPAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 8, 2011-Police Supt. Samuel Sevilla, city chief of police in this town reported that four women suspected shoplifters were arrested by police the other day after trying to smuggle products out of the Walter-Mart shopping complex who have  successfully sneaked grocery items from big malls in Tarlac City and inside the Clark Special Economic Zone.  

Sevilla identified the four as Nanette Kindipan, 24, of La Trinidad, Benguet; and Marilyn Serami, 39; Racquel Esteban, 39 and Jackilou Torral, 28, all of Baguio City.

Sevilla said that the four were arrested inside the Walter-Mart parking lot where their get-away vehicle identified as a Kia Pregio van with license plate AHA-567 was parked. Police also found several assorted grocery items supposedly part of the loot they took from malls in Central Luzon.

Sevilla said that prior to the suspects’ arrest, the mall’s two security guards alerted his men on the presence of the four women at the parking lot, apparently on their way to escape after looting some of the items at the mall. Earlier, mall personnel monitoring a Close Circuit Television camera spotted the four who were suspiciously roaming around the supermarket inside the mall.

A police team led by SPO4 Francisco Sudla was dispatched to the scene and immediately sealed off the exit points and arrested the four. Also arrested was driver Arnel Saguid, 41, also of Baguio City.     

Sevilla said that the arrest of the four shoplifters was no mean feat considering that they have also successfully carried out their illegal activities in Benguet, at the SM mall in Tarlac City and at the Puregold mall inside Clark.

He said that the suspects normally hide the items they loot inside their underwear to avoid detection.

“Prior to their arrest, they have virtually mastered the art of shoplifting. Imagine inside Clark where security and monitoring is tight, they were able to sneak out grocery items. We were fortunate that they were spotted at a CCTV camera installed inside the mall,” he said.

Sevilla estimated that at least P30,000 worth of groceries was loaded inside the van used by the suspects. (Jason de Asis)

NIA denies DENR official’s report of coliform pollution at Pantabangan

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 8, 2011-Engineer Reynaldo Puno, National Irrigation Administration, UPRIIS operations manager yesterday slammed the findings of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources  (DENR) that fecal coliform bacteria has polluted the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems which supplies irrigation water to the Pantabangan Dam.

“The water at the dam is proven of good quality and is even used as potable water by local residents,” Puno said, adding that the reported presence of coliform at the system is far from accurate, saying they have quarterly tested samples of the water quality  of the Upper Pampanga in the towns of Pantabangan and even in Rizal to disprove it.

“The report on coliform contamination as cited by DENR regional forestry division chief Sofio Quintana is grossly unfounded insofar as the UPRIIS is concerned,” he furthered, saying that it is not factual. “That is not true,” he said, explaining that the water quality at the UPRIIS is so good and it is even used by residents in Pantabangan where the dam is located as potable water source.

In a recent water conservation forum, Quintana said that a test conducted last year on water quality of 15 rivers in Central Luzon showed various stages of fecal coliform contamination from human and animal wastes.

Quintana said that the bacteria, which is hazardous to people is found midstream and downstream of rivers from the watersheds of the UPRIIS, Dingalan in Aurora, Angat-Maasim and Angat-Ipo in Bulacan; Porac-Gumain in Pampanga; Pinulot in Bataan; Bulsa Moriones, Camiling and O’Donnel in Tarlac and Bucao, Cabaluan, Caulaman, Nayom and Sto. Tomas in Zambales. 

These river systems provide irrigation to thousands of hectares of farmlands in the region, led by Pantabangan Dam which – as the country’s biggest dam – irrigates 102,000 hectares in the region.

Quintana said that local government officials should build community toilets and should strengthen the enforcement of solid waste management laws.

But Puno said several water quality tests conducted by First Gen. Corp., the power generation arm of the Lopez group, at the Aya reservoir in Pantabangan showed zero contents of fecal coliform. He showed a copy of the report which states that generally, water quality is good enough and only need some treatment processes such as chlorination and sedimentation for potable water supply.

“So if the water is not safe as Quintana claims, local residents would have gone sick and farm animals would have perished because they drink water from the river. And even fish species would have died and there would have been a massive fish kill. But none of these exist,” he said, as he belied Quintana’s report.

Manuel Collado, NIA regional irrigation manager for Central Luzon, said that so far, none of the farmers and irrigators’ associations have filed a complaint regarding the coliform pollution reportedly affecting the Angat-Maasim and Angat-Ipo rivers in the region.

“So far, no one has reported damage to crops related to the coliform bacteria,” Collado told newsmen as he downplayed the DENR report.

Angat-Maasim falls under the jurisdiction of Collado’s office which also covers the merged provincial irrigation management offices of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Aurora whose office is situated in Barangay Tambubong, san Rafael, Bulacan operates the 39-year-old Angat-Maasim Rivers Irrigation System that runs the Angat after bay Regulator Dam that irrigates 30,000 hectares of farmlands in 16 towns in Bulacan and four towns in Pampanga.

Collado said that the reported coliform pollution is not being felt in their areas of operation. (Jason de Asis)

First Phl industrial corporation liable for violation of clean air and water act

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April, 8, 2011-In the recent investigation on the Makati gas pipeline leak, Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources said that the Senate has found that the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) liable for possible violation of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act should give compensation package to affected residents.

In his presentation of the draft Senate Committee Report to the media, Zubiri said that the fuel leak brought about by the mongo-sized holes on the surface of the FPIC pipeline undoubtedly caused undue damage and prejudice to the residents of West Tower Condominium and adjoining areas in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City.

Zubiri said that this is a test case of environmental degradation. Kailangan po umaksyon na po ang korte dito at ang ating iba't ibang executive offices like the DENR and other agencies tasked by government to implement the laws, saying that there is a need to implement these laws, if not, the Senator is worried that more industries might abuse their powers, abuse their reach among our friends in the different agencies concerned and therefore more abuses like these could happen in the future.

The villagers of West Tower cheered on Zubiris statement that’s flocked at the Senate and thanked Zubiri who stood by his promise to be fair and impartial throughout the investigation where the Senate recommended for the inspection of the whole stretch of the 42-year-old pipeline which transports approximately 60% of petroleum requirements of Metro Manila and parts of Bulacan, Laguna and Rizal.

Zubiri’s committee report stated that the fact that the FPIC failed miserably to discover the cause of the leak despite an existing maintenance and inspection system raises a cause for alarm. There is therefore an imperative need to inspect the whole stretch of the FPIC pipeline to ensure that the same does not pose threat to the lives of many Filipinos.

In this connection, Zubiri filed Senate Bill 2788 or the act creating a National Pipeline Board that will oversee the maintenance of oil and gas pipelines in the country to address the seeming lack of law regulating pipelines.

"Ang problema po wala po tayong batas na nag-su-supervise dito sa ating oil pipelines kaya po nagfile tayo ng panukalang batas sa araw na ito na nagbibigay ng clear cut guidelines sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno dahil nagtuturuan din po ang ahensya ng gobyerno nuong nagsagawa tayo ng pagdinig. This measure already puts in place the different standards required for companies that are involved in this type of industries. Napakahalaga po nito may standards na po na inilagay natin at mayroon po tayong penalties na napakabigat kapag hindi sila sumunod dito," the Bukidnon solon explained.

The Senate also recommended that the FPIC should shoulder the expenses for the clean-up operations within the West Tower Condominium and adjoining areas affected by the fuel leak. Necessarily, FPIC should forward the appropriate reimbursements for the amount already expended by the West Tower Management in the conduct of the same; FPIC must present a detailed and specific clean-up plan that must contain a definitive statement as to the steps and strategies to be taken which must be strictly followed and observed; and, appropriate action must be undertaken by concerned government agencies as regards possible violations of the Clean Air Act and/or Clean Water Act. (Jason de Asis)


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