Monday, March 31, 2014

Ecija teener mauled to death by 4 muggers

SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija -   A 15-year-old out-of-school youth (OSY) met his death here Monday in the hands of four unidentified men who mauled him to death in front of the new public market here.
           Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, identified the young fatality as Jefferson Cortez of Barangay Sto. Niño 3 this city. Cortez, a helper in a nearby slaughterhouse, died of severe head injuries.
          No motive has yet been established behind the attack.
          Police Superintendent Manuel Hidalgo, San Jose police chief, said the incident took place at around 5 am Monday in the public market at Barangay Rueda.
          Hidalgo said local policemen were conducting their routine patrol when  SPO2 Alvaro Mamaril spotted Cortez’s body sprawled on the pavement.
 SPO1 Apolinario Tolentino and PO3 Joel Beltejar, who are investigating the killing , said an hour before his body was found, Cortez was with his elder brother Jayson when he left their house and boarded a tricycle on the way to the slaughter house.
There, they parted ways with his brother when a few moments later, the four suspects came to him and took turns in mauling him.
The suspects fled on foot towards the back of the market.

Cortez was brought to the San Jose City General Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. –Manny Galvez

Sunday, March 30, 2014

PNoy appoints AFP GHQ Support Command head as new commander of Army’s 7ID

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) General Headquarters and Headquarters Support Command head Brigadier General Glorioso Miranda as the 23rd commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division (7ID) which is based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
He replaces Lieutenant General Hernando Delfin Carmelo Iriberri who was promoted as Commanding General of the Army last February.
Both Miranda and Iriberri are members of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983.
The turnover ceremony is set on Wednesday morning of April 2, 2014.
7ID has jurisdiction over Army Brigades and Battalions in Ilocos and Central Luzon Regions and maintains a force in Mindanao. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

PhilRice unveils RICEponsible drive

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija – The Philippine Rice Research Institute launched last Friday its “Be RICEponsible campaign” which intends to sustain the momentum of increased rice production following the success of last year’s National Year of Rice (NYR) drive.

          Hazel Antonio, PhilRice senior science research specialist, said the new rice mantra was presented to the public Friday at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) art museum.

          She said the campaign is a fitting sequel to last year’s campaign which was anchored on President Aquino’s issuance of Presidential Proclamation 494 declaring 2013 as National Year of Rice.

She said in the Be RICEponsible campaign, implementers will be reinforcing the behaviors that the National Year of Rice tried to impart to the public and policymakers. “We continously urge the public to be RICEponsible. That is, not to waste rice, consume brown rice, eat healthier sources of carbohydrates, and value the hard work of the rice farmers,” Antonio said.

          Antonio said the presidential proclamation translated into a 2.3% increase in production in 2013 over that of 2012. “In 2013, palay production was at 18.44 million metric tons which is 2.3% higher than the 2012 output of 18.03 million MT,” she said.

She added that this showed that Filipinos can still accomplish more in spite of last year’s calamities.

          Antonio, the campaign’s director, said some local government units have been contributing their share in the rice conservation campaign with towns in Aklan, Bohol, Ilocos Norte and La Union passing half-rice ordinances.

          In Quezon City, she said the city council passed a resolution calling on  major fast-food chains and restaurants to serve brown rice. – Manny Galvez 

Drilon vows: Bangsamoro Basic Law to stay within Constitution

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law must “supremely respect” the Philippine Constitution, as he vowed to take the forefront in congressional efforts to preserve and guard the nation’s sovereignty amid the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity in southern Mindanao.

Drilon made it clear after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that national sovereignty will be the premiere concern of Congress as they prepare to work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law –which they consider as a legislative priority.

The Senate chief also said that President Aquino will play a big role in pushing the bill forward: “I expect the President to certify it as an administration concern and subsequently certify it as an urgent measure. But more importantly, I expect him to use his political capital as he has used in several crucial legislative matters, when he has perceived they are for the good of the country and of the Filipino people.”

“I expect the President to take a personal stake at this peace process for the Filipino people because this will be his legacy. I believe that the final peace agreement in Mindanao will be among the legacies of President Noynoy Aquino,” he stressed.

Drilon emphasized: “I will be at the forefront in seeing that our sovereignty is respected. I don’t think that the Filipino people will forgive us if we rescind any part of our sovereignty. We must remain as one country, and one nation – as one Filipino people.”

“I am determined to see that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be a policy for harmony and shared development. As long as I am here, it will not be an instrument of capitulation, nor it will be an affront to our constitutional integrity,” he stressed.

In 2008, the former Executive and Justice Secretary was the leading voice of opposition towards the aborted GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which legal experts and political observers criticized to be of dubious constitutionality, and that it would have led to further political schism and security breakdown.   

With the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Drilon acknowledged that questions on the Constitution will take center stage: “While we must give the Constitution its most liberal application, we have to make sure that the basic law must be a unifying and integrating legislation, and not a divisive one.”

The senator believes that their vigilance on the issue is their due responsibility as citizens and lawmakers of the republic: “Whether Moro or Christian, we are all Filipinos. And therefore, it is our moral and legal obligation to preserve our country as one. And that is going to be my guiding principle at this matter.”

“It will not be an easy task – as we say, “The Devil is in the details.” I expect a lot of debates in the Congress,” he further noted.

Earlier, Drilon urged his colleagues to take an active role in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and passionately debate on the most pertinent issues about the peace accord.

“We cannot afford to err on this most-sought piece of legislation which seeks to put an end to the decades-long insurgency. It is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure that the efforts exerted by both panels will not be put in vain, by ensuring that the Bangsamoro Law falls within the four corners of the Constitution and one that can withstand judicial scrutiny,” he said.

Legarda on Earth Hour 2014: Small Acts Create Big Change

MANILA-As Filipinos prepare to join the Earth Hour 2014 on March 29, from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening, Senator Loren Legarda today stressed on the importance of the campaign, which highlights that “small acts can create big, significant changes.”

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change, and Environment and Natural Resources, said that oftentimes people are overwhelmed with the gargantuan task of protecting the environment, without realizing that the small acts ignite greater action and result in significant achievements.

“The Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The following year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched the international Earth Hour. More than 400 cities in 35 countries, including the Philippines, joined the campaign. Now, more than 7,000 cities are involved. We only have to take that one important step, which is to take action, to save and protect our planet,” said Legarda.

According to the WWF, the Earth Hour campaign started by encouraging cities and communities to turn off their lights for one hour during the designated date of Earth Hour. Since then, homes and communities went beyond the hour or have taken greater action towards the protection of the environment.

Legarda noted that the Philippines has been regarded as an Earth Hour Hero Country for registering a high number of participating towns and cities and for its staunch support to the campaign.

In 2009, 647 cities and towns in the Philippines and an estimated 15 million Filipinos participated in the Earth Hour, saving 611 Megawatt-Hours of electricity during the one-hour period.

In 2013, records from the Visayan Electric Company in Cebu alone showed a reduction of 11 MW during the time of the event.

“The Earth Hour campaign shows us what each citizen can do. It tells us that every individual is capable of protecting our planet. Small acts cannot be underestimated because these small acts, when put together, create big change. Saving on electricity, using low carbon technologies, conserving water, eating local food, planting more trees, these are just some of the simple ways by which we can significantly contribute to protecting our Earth. The results of Earth Hour are clear enough to show what people can do when we work together,” Legarda stressed.

15M Filipinos to switch off lights on Earth Hour

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga --- It’s going to be a Black Saturday, literally, on March 29 as more than 15 million Filipinos are expected to “turn their lights off” for an hour, from 8:30-9:30 PM, in support of this year’s observance of Earth Hour, officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced yesterday.

This is the country’s contribution to the global effort of mitigating the impacts of global warming and climate change, explained Francisco Milla, Jr. of the regional DENR office in Central Luzon.

He said an estimated 15 million Filipinos will join the seven billion people from 154 countries and 1,000 cities and towns around the globe who are expected to join this massive “lights off” campaign to save on electricity, cut down greenhouse gas emission, and send a strong message around the world that every simple act of energy conservation can make a big difference.

Studies showed that the country expects to save at least 738 megawatts of power during the one-hour lights off period, equivalent to cutting down roughly 508 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Records from the World Wide Fund showed that each Filipino emits about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and that each kilowatt hour of electricity consumed is equivalent to 0.50 kilograms of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

In Central Luzon alone, each of the 800,000 registered vehicles pumps into the atmosphere at least 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide per liter of gasoline or 2.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide per liter of diesel.

Milla said the global call for energy conservation measures is led by the Washington-based environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature in cooperation with the Department of Energy, the Green Army Philippines Network, and the SWITCH movement.

This year’s Earth Hour ambassador is the comic superhero “Spider-Man” who epitomizes the power of the individual, inspiring fans to become superheroes for the planet, according to the Earth Hour official website.

The Philippines earned the distinction of being “Earth Hour Hero Country” by consistently registering the most number of participating towns and cities since it first joined the event in 2009.


Earth hour started in Sydney, Autralia in 2007 as a “lights-off” event with 2.2 million . Since then, it has grown to engage more than 7,000 towns and cities worldwide.

JINGGOY: GPH-MILF AGREEMENT HERALDS PEACE, PROGRESS FOR MINDANAO

I am one with the nation in its hopeful anticipation of a more peaceful and progressive Mindanao region as heralded by today’s signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
 
The landmark peace pact is expected to signal long lasting peace and stability in the region, which for many years has been plagued by terrorism, abject poverty and underdevelopment. I hope that the final peace agreement will ultimately realize this cherished goal held not only of our brothers and sisters in the southern Philippines but the entire Filipino nation.
 
This definitely marks a new era in Philippine politics.
 
As described in a roadmap, there is still a long way ahead of us towards the creation of the Bangsamoro. There is a need for the Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and for the people to approve the same through a plebiscite. Nevertheless, I look forward to witnessing the birth of a new Mindanao at the end of it.

STATEMENT OF SEN. ANGARA ON THE SIGNING OF THE COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO

I congratulate the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Hopefully, this would put an end to the decades-old civil war--a war that brought incalculable human cost including displacement of thousands of families and the loss of economic opportunities.

Indeed, this is one of the greatest accomplishments that President Aquino will leave behind. I also congratulate the heads and members of the peace panel particularly Marvic Leonen and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the former and current government chief negotiators, and MILF chief negotiator Mohager Iqbal.

Both parties should make sure that the peace process is as inclusive as possible. Any kind of peace, for it to be lasting, has to be inclusive. May the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro lead to sustainable peace that would bring about genuine socio-economic and political development to the region, and more importantly, equitable growth to the people in Mindanao.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Drilon to Congress: Be active on Bangsamoro basic law debate

MANILA-“Take an active role in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and passionately debate on the most pertinent issues about the peace accord.”

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon issued this call to his colleagues in Congress and urged them to devote time and effort in scrutinizing the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law when it reaches Congress.

“Soon, the ball will be in Congress’ hands. It is the Congress that will ultimately shape and mold the piece of legislation which will breathe life to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” emphasized Drilon, a former executive and justice secretary.

 “We cannot afford to err on this most-sought piece of legislation, if we truly want to secure this peace in Mindanao which we have now realized after decades of hostilities. It is therefore incumbent upon us to make sure that the efforts exerted by both panels will not be put in vain, by ensuring that the Bangsamoro Law falls within the four corners of the Constitution, and  that it can withstand judicial scrutiny,” Drilon stressed.
 
The Senate leader underscored that the law, which should be passed as early as possible, needs “to be responsive to the real and distinct problems and needs of the Bangsamoro people.”

“This measure should resolve social tensions, poor infrastructure, and lack of economic development in the region. It will demand from our lawmakers their utmost prudence, practicality and political acumen,” he added.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had earlier agreed to include the Bangsamoro Basic Law in their priority agenda, and both chambers committed to pass it by the end of 2014. “That is our target because we want to see 2015 as the year when we can submit this for ratification by the areas covered by the Bangsamoro Basic Law.” 

The Senate leader is optimistic that the historic accord can effectively realize the promise of long-lasting peace and development for Mindanao.

Drilon congratulated the government, the OPAPP, and the MILF panels for having been able to complete “the almost-Herculean challenge of establishing peace in Mindanao,” saying that the whole affair has been made possible by a genuine desire for peace, justice and development by both sides.”

The senator noted that the agreement was defined by effective negotiations where both parties fully articulated their concerns, even against challenging and tensely divisive issues: “Both sides fully refused to walk away, and held on to peace when hate and division seemed the easier option.”     

“We achieve peace when we achieve understanding. And with the Bangsamoro agreement, we show the world that though shaped by our diversity, we are much more defined by our common dreams of peace, equality and prosperity as a nation,” Drilon said.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Legarda on Bangsamoro Agreement: Historic Big Step Towards Lasting Peace

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today described the signing of the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a “historic big step towards just and lasting peace.”

“Everyone deserves to live in an environment of peace and prosperity. The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro today brings us closer to fulfilling peace, not just for our Muslim brothers, but for every Filipino. It is our hope that the initiative can be sustained and that the challenges ahead will be overcome for the sake of the millions of Filipinos who deserve the peace and progress due them,” said Legarda.

The Senator said that the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement today signals the next phase of the process of peace building, as well as the process of social and economic inclusion for all Filipinos in Mindanao—the drafting and consideration of the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro region. 

“I understand that this Basic Law is now being drafted by a Transition Commission. We await the submission of the draft in the Philippine Congress. As a legislator, my guidepost in considering the draft Basic Law would be that of serving the best interest of all Filipinos and the country in general,” said Legarda.

She added that the Comprehensive Agreement and its annexes will be considered as part of Congress’ law-making duties, not to find fault, but to find ways by which these may become instruments to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

“With peace in Mindanao, we can achieve greater national prosperity.  A peaceful and productive co-existence with our Muslim brethren can help promote and facilitate social and economic inclusion that will help guarantee a better future for all Filipinos. Government needs to make sure that every Filipino today understands and becomes a part of the nation’s peace-building process. This is the only way we can ensure lasting peace,” she stressed.

“I urge everyone to help create and nurture an atmosphere conducive to peace. The opportunity presents itself with today’s signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” Legarda concluded.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

‘Corruption allegations at NIA baseless, unfounded’ -- probe body

MANILA- Allegations of massive graft and corruption in the National Irrigation Administration are grossly unfounded and without strong basis, an investigating team tasked to look into the reported irregularities reported yesterday. 
          In a report released by the internal audit services (IAS) of the agency, it said its probe team which conducted an exhaustive investigation unearthed not a single anomaly committed by NIA officials as claimed by the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP).
          Florentino David, IAS manager, said the results of their findings have been forwarded last March 20 to the NIA Board of Directors (BOD) which later instructed Administrator Claro Maranan to furnish the same to the NIAEASP itself and to the Department of Agriculture. It will also be submitted to President Aquino.
          “Based on the results of our investigation, our investigating team found certain minimal lapses in carrying out some projects but overall, we have not discovered massive anomalies as claimed by the NIAEASP,” said David.
          Maranan said the investigation was arrived at after almost two weeks. He said that in spite of what is happening,  the NIA will continue moving forward and perform its mandate of providing irrigation service to Filipino farmers.
          “We are bent on instituting reforms at NIA. Along the way, certain sectors are not compatible with some officials although the complaining groups themselves admitted that “allegations are not synonymous with proof,” he said, quoting from the open letter.
          The IAS came out with its findings after the NIAEASP, together with three other groups came out with an open letter Tuesday calling on President Aquino to investigate alleged irregularities inside NIA involving deputy administrators Modesto Membreve and Lorna Grace Rosario and DA Undersecretary Antonio Fleta.
          In their open letter, contained in a whole-page paid advertisement in a national daily, the concerned officials said they have nothing personal against Fleta and the two other NIA officials but just wanted the irregularities investigated and pending the results, that they be relieved from their posts.           
          The open-letter followed a February 6 letter-manifesto of the NIAEASP to Mr. Aquino where it lamented the “very serious and alarming developments” in the agency.
Rosario was accused by the NIAEASP of allegedly ordering the payment of 50 percent of the billing of a contractor who has a project in Sarangani even if the said contractor almost has no physical accomplishment.
She allegedly issued the note “kindly facilitate the 50% progress billing” of the contractor in the construction of an intake structure in Kiamba, Sarangani last December. The actual physical accomplishment of the project was only 4.83% as of January.
Rosario decried the accusations, saying it was apparently a  demolition job orchestrated by lower-level agency officials to besmirch her reputation and that of her husband, Binmaley, Pangasinan Mayor Simplicio Rosario.
The probe team said based on their investigation, the contractor’s representative Jose Luis Escalona was the one who manipulated the super imposition of the rubber stamp of receipt from Rosario’s office and her supposed notation. She said the contractor was also found to have falsified or bloated his project accomplishment.
 The probe team also found nothing earth-shaking in the allegations against Membreve that he ordered the repackaging of projects from administration works to local minor contracts worth P105 million, purportedly to draw kickbacks.
It said that after looking into the allegations, it recommended to follow the Government Procurement Policy Board resolutions 18 and 7 of 2006 and 2009, respectively limiting administration work of P5 to 20 million but not P105 million.
          The investigating team also cleared          the BOD of allegations it arbitrarily and capriciously issued policies that usurped the powers of the NIA administrator by arrogating to itself the authority to approve the appointment of officials from salary Grade 24 and above.
          “The board does not usurp powers because it is at the top of hierarchy of the corporation,” it said, adding its powers and functions are well-defined in Section 4, Article 3 and Section 8(d) of Republic Act 3601, the law that created the NIA.  
          On claims that the BOD has sown havoc and demoralization through indiscriminate reshuffling of officials, the probe team said all approved high-level reshuffling, reassignment and appointments were made mainly on the basis of the recommendations to the BOD by former and current NIA administrators.
          It cited a letter from BOD member Ismael Tabije who said there was never an instance a reshuffling order was initiated by the board.
          Quoting Tabije, the probe team said the board’s concurrences to the administrator’s recommendations were on the basis of “our collective thinking that he is the Chief Executive of the agency and as such, his recommendations should be given significant weight in the final decision.” – Manny Galvez   


Bangsamoro's minimum annual price tag of P50 B a small price to pay for peace– Recto

MANILA-Government was told to increase the “preliminary figure” of a P20.4 billion 2015 budget for Autonomous Regional Government for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as the region deserves a “bigger peace dividend” for ending civil strife.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto made this plea after noting that the ARMM government’s “indicative budget” as stated in the “budget call” used by the Budget department in drafting next year’s proposed budget grants a measly 4.2 percent increase in ARMM allocations.

The ARMM government’s obligation budget for this year is P19.6 billion. “It gets less than one percent of the national budget,” Recto said.

“In fact if the PDAF hadn't been abolished, it would have gotten a bigger slice in the budget pie than the ARMM government,” Recto said, referring to PDAF’s deleted P25.2 billion funding in this year’s national budget

Recto said that even if nominally ARMM government’s 2015 indicative budget is P840 million bigger than this year’s, “in real terms it is still negative growth.”

This is because if you add the population growth rate and the inflation rate, the sum is bigger than the 4.2 percent hike in the budget, Recto explained.

Still, Recto said President Aquino deserves the highest praise for pushing for the comprehensive peace settlement of a conflict with complex historical and social roots.

He said whatever the end result of the government peace deal with the MILF would be “the central government has the obligation to give more funds to a region which though poor is rich in potential.”

“We don’t know what will happen to the ARMM regional government. It can be replaced by another entity. If next year is ARMM government’s last hurrah, then the best goodbye gift we can give it is a bigger budget which in turn benefits the successor government because it will be using a higher base in asking for subsequent funds,” he said.

Under the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the ARMM will continue to function until a Bangsamoro Government has been elected by residents of areas which voted in a plebiscite to join it, in a manner provided by a Bangsamoro Basic Law passed by Congress.

Once formed, the Bangsamoro Government will receive an annual "block grant" from the government, the amount of which, in the words of the GPH-MILF peace deal, “shall in no case be less than the last budget received by the ARMM.”

In computing the latter, it is not just the ARMM government’s budget which will be reckoned, Recto explained “but all the funds spent in the region.”

This include the P15.7 billion Internal Revenue Allocation to ARMM’s five provinces, three cities, 116 towns and 2,490 barangays; the “Bottom Up Budgeting” allocation of P4.6 billion; and other “regionalized” spending of the national government.

In all, the amount would be in the neighborhood of P44 billion to P50 billion, he said. “If you want to pin a price tag then that would be the minimum,” he said.

“Hopefully, this amount will be reduced in the future, as the new government will be financially self-reliant because fiscal independence is the hallmark of autonomy,” Recto said.

Recto stressed that “budgetary allocation” remains government’s “most effective equity” in the peace project.

“There are costs in pounding swords into plows,” Recto said.

“Yes, peace has a price but from a funding point of view an imperfect peace is still less costly than a just war,” he said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Palace urged to add .3 M seniors in pension program

MANILA-Government was told to enroll more sick and poor elderly in the social pension program for indigent seniors as the current program only covers 77 year olds and above.

The call was made by Sen. Ralph Recto who wants the number of senior citizen pensioners increased to 770,804 next year from this year’s 479,080.

The increase will allow those in the 65- to 76-year-old category to be included in the program for the first time since the law authorizing the grant of the stipend was passed 4 years ago, Recto said.

An estimate made by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which administers the program, said that 274,804 seniors in the 70 to 76 years old age bracket will be enrolled together with 16,920 in the 65 to 69 age bracket once the number of beneficiaries is raised to 770,804.

Adding almost 300,000 “senior pensioners” will, however, increase the program’s budget from P2.87 billion this year to P4.62 billion next year, Recto admitted.

But Recto said that the additional P1.75 billion can be easily absorbed in the P2.6 trillion “indicative budget ceiling” of the 2015 budget, the preparation of which is now in full blast in the executive branch.

“I think there is budget space for the amount needed to expand the beneficiary base of the senior pension program,” Recto said.

He said that government should start reducing its backlog of commitments under Republic Act 9994, which expands benefits senior citizens are entitled to.

While a 2012 census by the DSWD had identified 1,315,584 poor 60 year olds and above who could qualify for the P500 monthly pension, the government has so far limited its grant to seniors who are 77 years old and above.

“Overall, there is a 5-billion-peso funding gap. We can reduce this gradually by bringing more seniors into the fold of the program,” Recto said.

RA 9994 defines an “indigent senior citizen” who may qualify for the P500 monthly social pension as someone 60 years old and above who is “frail, sickly, or with disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his relatives to support his needs.”

In its "National Household Targeting" census, the DSWD included other economic, social, health, housing information to better identify the indigents truly deserving of the pension. 

POLICE ARRESTED 2 FOR ILLEGAL DRUGS

CAMP OLIVAS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga- Under the directives of PCSupt Raul D Petrasanta , Regional Director, Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) to all his City/Provincial Directors to to eradicate the proliferation of illegal drugs in the region and map out stricter security measures and triple their efforts in trimming down crime incidents within their respective areas of responsibilities thru the conduct of intensified police focused operations and implementation of  search warrants and  warrants of arrest as well,  two (2) drug pushers were toppled during a buy bust operation and a hand grenade was confiscated during the Implementation of Search Warrant in the afternoon of March 20, 2014.

            Based on reports that reached this Office, on said date, joint elements of Police Intelligence Branch-Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office/PAIDSOTG, Carranglan Police Station and NECIDT3 conducted Buy-Bust operation at Sitio Kamanggahan Brgy. Joson, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija which resulted to the arrest of the: Randy Vitug y Carasco a.k.a Randy , a resident of Brgy. Joson, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija and Joseph SUMANDE y Dela Cruz a.k.a Atcho, a resident of Sitio Bucot Brgy Tambo Adorable, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.
 
            Confiscated from the suspects were the following: one (1) piece Heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing suspected Shabu  and one (1) piece Five Hundred Peso Bill with serial number DR956327 with markings “RV’’ used as marked money.
 
            After the Buy-Bust operation, the Search Warrant was implemented against Randy Vitug y Carrasco a.k.a Randy. which resulted to the confiscation of the following:  One (1) pc. Fragmentation Hand Grenade; one (1) pc.inside holster for Cal. 45; one (1) pc. outside holster for Cal. 45; two (2) pcs. heat- sealed transparent plastic sachet containing suspected Shabu; one (1) pc. digital weighing scale; three (3) pcs. Lighter; three (3) pcs. scissors; one (1) pc. Tooter tube; seven (7) pcs. Aluminum foil; one (1) pc. Improvised burner; twenty five (25) pcs. Transparent plastic sachet with suspected shabu residue; one (1) pc. Plastic spoon; one (1) pack transparent plastic sachet; one (1) pc. Improvised crusher (Pandurog).
           
            The arrested suspects were brought to Carranglan Police Station for proper disposition. However, one of the arrested suspect Joseph Sumande has an existing Alias Warrant of Arrest for the crime of Slight Physical Injuries with CC Nr. 13-13 issued by Hon Rixon M. Garoy, MTC Judge, San Leonardo, NE dated February 13, 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014

NIA exec decries demolition job as power struggle rocks agency

MANILA-A senior official of the National Irrigation Administration yesterday decried the alleged demolition job supposedly orchestrated by lower-level agency officials to besmirch her reputation and that of her politician-husband as power struggle continues to rock the agency.
          Deputy administrator for finance and management Lorna Grace Rosario said the alleged corruption implicating her and another NIA official was clearly a smear campaign to destroy her name and that of her husband,  Binmaley, Pangasinan Mayor Simplicio Rosario.
          “It’s pure and simple black propaganda to destroy my name and my husband. They are trying to provoke me,” Rosario said.
          The NIA official identified assistant administrators Vicente Galvez and Virginia Atienza as behind the smear campaign. She said the campaign was apparently well-funded since the NIAEASP has no funds to finance the demolition job.
          Rosario was reacting to an open letter which came out in a national daily yesterday calling on President Aquino to investigate alleged irregularities inside NIA involving her, deputy administrator for engineering and operation Modesto Membreve and Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta.
          The letter was signed by officials of the NIA Employees Association of the Philippines (NIAEASP), the Association of Regional Directors and Operation Managers (Ardoma), the National Confederation of Irrigators’ Association (NCIA) and the National Federation of Employees of the Department of Agriculture (NAFEDA).
          The concerned officials said they have nothing personal against Fleta and the two other NIA officials but just wanted the irregularities investigated and pending the investigation, that they be relieved from their posts. They claimed the Board has been meddling in the functions of NIA Administrator Claro Maranan.           
Rosario said her accusers have no strong evidence against her. “In fact, the NIA Board of Directors have cleared me of any wrongdoing,” she said.
She said that the issue is politically motivated as a flood of text messages circulated in Binmaley that the wife of the mayor was supposedly involved in irregularities.
Rosario vowed to fight off the allegations against her. “I have to protect my name and that of my family,” she said.
Turning the tables on Galvez and Atienza, Rosario said they are the ones who are corrupt. “Look who’s talking,” she said.
Last month, the NIA Board denied the allegations of its own employees’ association of massive corruption in the agency but nevertheless directed the internal audit services of the agency to look into the allegations.  It described the accusations as “untrue, malicious and unfair.”

Rosario said her accusers were against the reforms they are trying to implement within NIA. She said Galvez and Atienza were disgruntled because they were among those relived from their posts as part of the reforms being undertaken in the agency. – Manny Galvez

Sunday, March 23, 2014

JINGGOY TRUSTS THAT THE OMBUDSMAN WILL BE FAIR

MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada trusts that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will be fair to him and to his other colleagues in the Senate in relation to the ongoing investigation on their alleged involvement in the so-called pork barrel scam.
 
Sen. Estrada hopes that the sitting Ombudsman will stay true to her widely-referenced statement in relation to her appearance before the impeachment court where she said she “is impervious to influence.”
 
“I wish that the Ombudsman will not give in to the tremendous pressure and unfair publicity generated by this controversy with extreme prejudice against me and my two colleagues. I also hope that she will not be rushed into making decisions and that she observes the proper legal processes, including the rights of the respondents during preliminary investigation,” Jinggoy said.
 
“We were continuously crucified and demonized in various forums, mass media, cyberspace, including the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. I sincerely hope that the Ombudsman will do better,” he stated.
 
Jinggoy also expressed confidence in the counter-affidavit that he submitted before the Ombudsman, as it already adequately answered the charges levelled against him by his accusers.
 
“I hope that the Ombudsman reads my formal written response to the allegations and finds that truly there is no plunder case or any case to speak of,” Jinggoy asserted.
 
Nevertheless, Sen. Estrada said he is ready for any eventuality, including the unfortunate event that an information be filed before the Sandiganbayan. “I am ready to defend myself. My lawyers are aware of this possibility and they know what to do,” Jinggoy said.

Drilon: Bangsamoro signing crucial for peace not only in Philippines, but in entire ASEAN

MANILA-Senate President Franklin Drilon today hailed the forthcoming signing of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro as a “remarkable triumph of the Filipino towards unity and progress,” while saying the government will ensure that the historic accord can effectively realize the promise of long-sought peace and development for Mindanao. 

The Senate leader expressed elation over the scheduled signing of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro made between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, ending nearly four decades of intense insurgency by one of the country’s biggest secessionist movements. 

“The signing of the Bangsamoro agreement is not only for our country, it is also a testament to our Asian neighbors and to the whole world that though shaped by our diversity, we are much more defined by our common dreams of  peace, equality and prosperity as a nation,” Drilon said.

“This is a moment of immense pride, relief and joy throughout the entire Philippines, where we have arrived at a new era of understanding, security and opportunities now available for every Filipino – be they Muslim, Christian or members of our indigenous groups,” he added. 

Drilon said that the country can now better devote its efforts towards social, economic and political development, amid growing aspirations for regional strength and inter-state solidarity throughout the entire Southeast Asian region.

“The success we have made are not limited within our nation, as the Bangsamoro plays an ever- crucial role in ASEAN regional security. The Bangsamoro shall be a beacon of cooperation and tolerance among the major Muslim constituencies in Southeast Asia, where it will be an example of what can be achieved when we shun extremism and violence in its every form,” he explained.   

Drilon said that for the peace to last, the government must “build upon this spirit of reconciliation with policies that will ensure good governance, social equity and the thorough rule of law which the people of Mindanao have long sought for.”    

He then said that Congress “looks forward to scrutinizing the proposed Bangsamoro law that will institute the necessary reforms called for in the Agreement,” and that the law will be given utmost priority in the Upper Chamber.

“The Senate is more than ready to work on the new Bangsamoro basic law – one that would be universally fair, practical and Constitutionally-consistent. The public can expect our commitment to the Bangsamoro not only for the sake of national progress, but also for the welfare and future of the entire Southeast Asian region," Drilon concluded. 

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