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)


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