FAA OnLiNe

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ODICTA STILL IN BUSINESS
Bautista: He’s still in our watch list

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HE is still in the drug business.
Senior Supt. Norlito Bautista, Iloilo City Police Office (IPCO) director, yesterday said they have never cleared Melvin “Boyet” Odicta of any involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“As far as we are concerned, Odicta is still in our drug watch list,” Bautista told The Guardian yesterday.
Bautista alleged that Odicta’s base of operation is still in Barangay Malipayon, Iloilo City Proper and continues to be active in the illegal drug trade.
In 2003, then ICPO director Policarpio Segubre cleared Odicta’s name after the latter pledged to cease from peddling illegal drugs.
But the ICPO in a recent report said illegal drugs continue to flood at the Iloilo City Proper area, particularly at Barangays Tanza Esperanza and Malipayon
Bautista said he has not seen Odicta’s oath of undertaking or any document that will prove that he has indeed ceased from trafficking illegal drugs in the city.
The recurring problem of illegal drugs in Iloilo City has forced police and local authorities to put up baby police precincts which will focus on anti-drug operations. The first of its kind is Task Force Bakhaw.
Next month, TF Angel will be put up at the area of Barangays Tanza-Esperanza and Malipayon.
Initially, the headquarters of the newest anti-drug task force will be at Tanza-Esperanza barangay hall.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 will provide a platoon of police officers, mostly new recruits, to TF Angel while the ICPO is still searching for its overall commander.
Bautista said Mayor Jerry Treñas and the Iloilo City Anti-Drug Council already gave their blessing to the new task force.
Odicta remains elusive from the media despite efforts to reach his side.
His wedding godfather, Kagawad Erwin “Tong-Tong” Plagata has even advised him to air his side and clear his name.
Word war
Bautista also dispelled insinuations that he is at loggerheads with Plagata, chairman of the committee on police matters.
“I don’t see any reason why Kagawad Plagata and I would figure in a word war. We are closely working together for our policemen,” Bautista said.
Plagata has become critical of several issues involving the ICPO such as the computerization fund which Bautista sought from the city council.
Two weeks ago, Plagata read an anonymous letter before the city council which accused a city cop of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Plagata even hit the purported bypassing of his committee in the creation anti-drug task forces in the city.
The purported “word war” between Bautista and Plagata was fueled by the latter’s refusal to guest in Budyong Kapehan after learning that he will be sharing the microphone with the ICPO director.
But Bautista said he is in talking terms with Plagata, particularly on programs that could help police personnel.
The ICPO chief credited the doctor-turned-politician for providing free ECG services to the police and the construction of a conference room at the ICPO compound.
“Councilor Plagata has been very supportive of our plans and programs that pass through the city council,” Bautista said.
Interestingly, Bautista saw nothing wrong with Plagata being a godfather to Odicta.
“It doesn’t mean that if you are a maninoy of a suspected drug lord, you are already part of his illicit business. But in the end, only Councilor Plagata can clear the air of any doubts,’ he said. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, November 30, 2005)

‘RESBAK’






ON THEIR TOES. Molo cops keep the peace at Barangay Boulevard to more retributions against Calaparan folks.



Burglar’s death ignites violence
between Molo, Arevalo barangays

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

UNLESS local officials do something about it, residents of two barangays in Molo and Arevalo, Iloilo City might figure in a violent spree over the death of a burglar last week.
Residents of Barangays Boulevard, Molo are exacting revenge on every resident of Zone 10, 11 and 12 in Calaparan, Arevalo to avenge the death of Rodolfo Benosa.
Benosa, 36, of Zone 3 Barangay Boulevard was lynched to death by residents of Barangay Calaparan Friday for allegedly looting several houses in the latter village.
Benosa died of a neck injury aside from bruises and a gunshot wound on the back.
On Sunday evening, several friends and relatives of Benosa from Barangay Boulevard allegedly put up a checkpoint at Crossing Sambag near the boundary of the two villages.
At the checkpoint, the Boulevard folks flagged down every jeepney passing through the checkpoint and asked the passengers if who among them are from Calaparan.
Calaparan native Jomarie Abayon who was on board a Calumpang jeepney presented himself and asked the people at the checkpoint of their purpose.
Without any provocation, one of Boulevard folks stabbed Abayon on the body.
Abayon was brought to the Iloilo Doctor’s Hospital for treatment while the suspects fled.
Around 2am Monday, a certain Robles died at the IDH after being stabbed by the same Boulevard group.
Robles was riding his bicycle to the Fishing Port Area when the suspects ganged up on him.
Aside from Abayon and Robles, four other Calaparan residents were also mauled by the Boulevard residents.
Although Insp. Frankie Lugo, Molo PNP chief, identified a cousin of Benosa as the leader of the Boulevard group, he denied somebody was killed in Sunday night rampage.
Lugo also deployed his personnel to put up a checkpoint at Bangga Sambag in Boulevard to deter further violent incidents.
Meanwhile, Punong Barangays Cecilia Nava of Calaparan and Arlindo Espia already met to discuss the problem.
Espia said he already deployed his tanods to prevent his constituents from harming residents from the neighboring barangay.
But Espia said the suspects outwitted the tanods by putting up their checkpoint at barious points from 2 to 4am.
Espia also said there is the possibility of the Calaparan folks to “invade” Barangay Boulevard thus exacerbating the volatile situation.
Nava urged her counterpart to keep his constituents at bay and prevent more bloodshed.
“I have been swamped with complaints from my constituents so I hope Punong Barangay Espia can do something about this problem,” Nava said.
Nava added Boulevards folks and Benosa’s relatives cannot blame her constituents for killing the alleged burglar “since he is very notorious in our area.”
But who really killed Benosa?
An anonymous letter to Bombo Radyo pointed to a certain SPO2 Rosario Ramos as the one who broke Benosa’s neck.
The letter-writer, apparently a resident of Barangay Calaparan, accused Ramos of steeping on the suspected burglar’s neck despite his plea for mercy.
The unknown author also warned Boulevard residents to spare Calaparan folks “for we will not hesitate to fight back wherever you go.”
Benosa’s family said they are still waiting for results of the autopsy to determine te cause of his death.

LaPaz cops sleeping on the job?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CRITICISM rained on members of the LaPaz district PNP for reportedly sleeping inside the police station on Sunday evening.
But officers of the said station they deliberately slept on their job.
The brouhaha began when two suspects snatched the wallet of Josephine Patriarca, 29, of Aquino-Nobleza Streets, Janiuay, Iloilo 4:45am Sunday in front of the LaPaz public market.
With the assistance of Bombo Radyo reporter Peter John Bayasca, Patriarca went to the LaPaz police station to complain.
But when they arrived at the police precinct, Patriarca and Bayasca said they saw PO1 Alfonso Redonda sleeping on the complaint desk.
Bayasca said he roused Redonda from slumber and told him about Patriarca’s concern.
Redonda and Bayasca then went to the investigation room and woke up SPO2 Wilson Allona, PO2 Wilson Sompio and PO1 Jerry Bayahay.
Bayasca said the trio was sound asleep and even forgot the key to mobile patrol as they were about to conduct a hot pursuit operation.
Bayasca said he had difficulty waking up the police as they were sleeping soundly. He also noticed the TV set was turned on while the cops were in slumber
In an interview with The Guardian, Redonda admitted he fell asleep while manning the complaint desk “but I immediately woke up and attended to Patriarca’s problem.”
Redonda said Allona, Sompio and Bayahay went back to their station around 4am already after doing patrol rounds the whole Saturday evening at the benefit dances in Barangays Lapuz Norte, Sinikway and Railway.
“Naturally, they were very tired after an evening of patrol work. But despite that, we responded to Patriarca’s complaint,” Redonda said.
In fact, the LaPaz cops immediately arrested suspects Alfonso Lim, 28, and Donde Columbres, 28, both of Barangay Rizal.
But the police officers did not recover Patriarca’s wallet containing P480 cash, US$60 and various ID cards.
SPO3 Alex Amable said he gave Patriarca money so she can go home to Janiuay.
LaPaz PNP chief Alejandro Apostol even congratulated his men for the speedy arrest of the suspects.
“Our police officers are also human and we must understand them if they sometimes fall asleep while on night duty. But what is important here is that we responded immediately and solved the crime,” Apostol said.

WHO GOT FERTILIZED?


Six congressmen, 4 guvs received fertilizer fund

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHO among the Western Visayas politicians sources in the Senate and Department of Agriculture (DA) documents, at least nine former and incumbent congressmen and four governors from Region 6 allegactually received part of the controversial fertilizer fund which was released three months before the 2004 elections?
Based on the latest information received by The Guardian from edly benefited from the fertilizer fund through the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) of the Arroyo administration.
Among the incumbent solons who allegedly received the controversial funds were Reps. Arthur Defensor (3rd district, Iloilo) – P3million; Edgar Espinosa (Guimaras) – P5million; and Monico Puentebella (Bacolod City) P5million.
Also getting part of the fund were former Reps. Augusto Syjuco (2nd district, Iloilo) – P5million; Oscar Garin (1st district, Iloilo) – P3million; the late Narciso Monfort (4th district, Iloilo) – P3million; and now Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. (Iloilo City) – P5million.
Only opposition Rep. Rolex Suplico (5th district, Iloilo) was not included in the list.
While the names of former Negros Occidental congressmen Apolinario Lozada (4th district) Alfredo Marañon Jr., (2nd district) and incumbent Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson (3rd district) were also listed in the February 3, 2004 special allocation release order, it has yet to be confirmed if they actually received the funds.
Even Governors Niel Tupas of Iloilo, Joseph Marañon of Negros Occidental, Vicente Bermejo of Capiz and Florencio Miraflores of Aklan also benefited from the fertilizer fund.
During the Senate inquiry into the fertilizer fund controversy last week, Jose Barredo, a self-proclaimed DA runner from Capiz, said Garin, Puentebella, Espinosa and Gov. Bermejo indeed received the fertilizer fund.
In a press con last week, Bermejo confirmed receipt of the funds “but we observed proper procedures and all pertinent documents are with the DA.”
Bermejo said the funds were used for the agriculture development program of the provincial government.
Tupas said he did not receive the fund “as I smelled something fishy from the transaction.”
Garin, Puentebella and Espinosa also denied the allegations and even filed libel charges against Barredo.
Syjuco, who was also challenged by Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada to liquidate the fertilizer fund he received, said he divided the funds to his constituents at the second district
Defensor and Gonzalez were not available for comments.




‘ALL IN THE FAMILY’
Girl, 16, raped by uncle, cousin

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOR more than nine years, a 16-year-old girl suffered in the hands of her own relatives who took turns in raping her at their home at Tapaz, Capiz.
Nene (not her real name) left her home at Barangay San Nicolas, Tapaz after her parents refused to believe her accusations against two uncles and two cousins.
Nene said the five suspects have been “feasting” on her body since she was seven years old.
Nene first suffered in the hands of her mother’s cousin sometime in 1996 at their own home in San Nicolas.
The victim said she did not tell her mother about her ordeal for fear of her life.
For the next four years, two of her uncles and a cousin took turns in raping her in their home whenever they got the chance.
The last time Nene was abused was on November 20 and 22 when a 17-year-old cousin satisfied his carnal desires against her.
Unable to suffer her fate, Nene told her parents what happened to her the past nine years. But her parents did not believe Nene saying it was impossible for their relatives to abuse her.
Last weekend, Nene fled to Calinog, Iloilo to avoid more abuse and also in protest for the lack of concern she got from her parents.
Luckily, Punong Barangay Efren Zerrudo pitied Nene and helped the victim by bringing her to the police.
Nene is now under custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development where she is undergoing counseling.
The suspects, whose identities the police did not reveal, are now at-large.
Reportedly, two already went to Manila, one to Mindanao while the other one is still in Tapaz town. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, Nov. 28, 2005)

Monday, November 28, 2005

PECO SEEKS RATE HIKE?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

PANAY Electric Company (Peco) is revalidating its power purchase agreement (PPA) with Panay Power Corporation (PPC) which could lead to a possible increase in power rates.
Now pending before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is ERC Case No. 2005-043RC for the petition of a new PPA between the two power firms.
ERC sources said a hearing on the said petition is scheduled on December 6, 2005 here in Iloilo City.
The PPA is an agreement between independent power producers and power distributors on the rate of electricity the latter will buy from the former.
But Atty. Romeo Gerochi, Freedom from Debt Coalition chairman and the one responsible for the P2-reduction in Peco rates, said a new PPA between the two firms will give Peco a chance to jack up its power charges.
Gerochi already wrote Mayor Jerry Treñas and Peco regarding the matter.
“It is a source of wonder why Peco and the mayor are mum on this. The consumers should know about this transaction,” Gerochi said.
Gerochi said Peco and PPC assured the ERC that their rates will be equal to or less than the rates of the National Power Corporation (Napocor).
Peco buys power from PPC but the lawyer-activist said under the open market setup Peco can also buy power from other producers.
But Peco and PPC have an agreement that the latter will supply the power requirements of the former.
Peco also cannot rely on Napocor’s supply as Iloilo electric cooperatives are also experiencing power shortage for several months already.
The 100-megawatt Pinamucan diesel fired power plant, which was seen to augment to Panay’s power needs, is still un-operational.
Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, by end of 2005, 70 percent of Napocor's assets will be privatized, which means the abolition of government subsidies for Napocor rates.



ILOILO domestic airport: A war zone?


‘SHOOTOUT AT AIRPORT’

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IS THE Iloilo domestic airport at Mandurriao, Iloilo City becoming a war zone between the security personnel of the Air Transportation Office (ATO) and an airport concessionaire?
On Tuesday evening, Francisco “Paco” Defensor, reportedly a security guard of concessionaire and publisher Bernie Miaque, accused ATO police Nelson Zabala of shooting him while passing by the airport cargo bay.
Defensor said he was on board a motorcycle with a friend when they heard successive gunfire near the cargo area.
Defensor added he saw Zabala pointing a pistol at them but failed to hit him.
During the airport standoff when government agents tried to evict Miaque from his concession area, Zabala was the ATO security personnel who allegedly harassed one of Miaque’s employees.
Zabala was also accused of firing his gun inside the airport area when Miaque’s security force took back his stalls.
But in an interview with Aksyon Radyo yesterday, Zabala turned the tables on Defensor.
Zabala said he was walking by the cargo area to the ATO office when he saw Defensor and another man on board a motorcycle.
Initially, Defensor and his companion only passed by Zabala but made a complete turn some 10 meters ahead and headed back towards the ATO police.
Zabala said he saw Defensor’s companion draw a caliber .38 revolver and shot him three times.
Zabala evaded the shots, drew his pistol and fired back at his attackers.
Aside from Defensor, Zabala also saw eight other people chasing him. He overheard them say “Dakpa, dakpa nyo. Kay parehoson ta kay Cañasares (Catch him so he will end up like Cañasares).”
Zabala was referring to Gerardo Cañasares is also an ATO security personnel who was found dead at Barangay Cabugao Sur, Iloilo last September.
Cañasares showed signs of torture according to medico legal reports.
To prove his claim, Zabala showed the wound on his left leg allegedly caused by a bullet from Defensor’s group.
Zabala espcaed
The Mandurriao polic said a shootout indeed occurred between the two parties. But the only recovered 4 empty shells of caliber .45 pistol in the area. (Published in The Guardian, November 26-27, 2005)

Friday, November 25, 2005

POWER THIEVES

Peco losing heavily to pilferers

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

LEGITIMATE consumers of Panay Electric Company (Peco) are the ones paying for electricity lost to power pilferers in Iloilo City.
In fact, the problem of power theft in the city is deeply rooted in more than 50 percent of barangays in the city which are infested with jumpers and other forms of illegal connections to Peco lines.
Engr. Carlos Borja, Peco assistant vice president for corporate communications, said the ideal systems loss for power distributors is 5 percent. On the average, Peco generates 30million kilowatt-per-hour of power every month.
But computations by Peco showed its actual system loss is pegged at 13 percent, a big chunk of which is brought about by power pilferages.
In order to recoup its losses, Peco is allowed by the Electric Power Reform Act (Epira) to charge to its consumers 9.5 percent of the actual systems loss while the rest will be shouldered by the power utility.
Borja said their actual losses could go up to 15 percent during summer season where power consumption is high.
Borja further said a big chunk of their systems loss is attributed to power pilferers in the city who illegally tap to Peco lines.
“Our actual consumers are the ones footing the tab for these power pilferers which is very unfair for them. If we can only reduce the number of households with illegal connection to our power lines, it will be a big relief to our customers,” Borja said.
Aside from the economic effect, illegal connections are also potential fire hazards, particularly “octopus connections” in heavily populated areas.
The past two years, Peco has been cracking down on power thefts but they continue to devise ways to get electricity illegally.
Last Tuesday evening, Peco personnel along with the National Bureau of Investigation and the City Engineer’s Office scoured several villages in Molo, Jaro and Iloilo City Proper districts for pilferers.
Topping the list of most households with illegal connections is Barangay Infante, Molo with 30; Barangay Hipodromo, Iloilo City Proper with 5 households; and Barangay Flores City Proper with 3 households.
At present, Peco has a subscriber base of 53,000 households.
Engineer Bienvenido Anatan, Peco vice president for engineering, said they are saturating all city barangays to apprehend more power thieves.
“We expect to meet the 9.5-percent systems loss next year if we sustain our campaign against power pilferers,” Anatan said.
Anatan said they are targeting the port area at the Iloilo City proper district where majority of households have illegal connections to Peco lines.
Syndicate
Meanwhile, Borja said power thieves are getting smarter as they try to circumvent authorities.
While most illegal connections are found in slum areas, there are also power thieves in posh subdivisions Iloilo City.
Borja said there is a syndicate operating in the city that approaches household owners who want to reduce their power bills.
Aside from the usual illegal connection to Peco power lines, members of this syndicate tamper with electricity meters of unscrupulous consumers so it will register a lower reading than the actual consumption.
And to avoid detection and the hassle of the usual illicit tapping to electric lines, other power thieves use alligator clips which they can easily detach during daytime.
Apart from crackdown on power thieves, Peco are installing its distribution lines at towering poles which are hard to reach.
Peco has also transferred meter readers outside of residential areas to prevent tampering and illegal connection.
So far, officials of Barangay Hipodromo already showed concern with the growing problem of power pilferage in their village.
The Hipodromo barangay council passed last September 18, 2005 a resolution asking the help of concerned government officials to address the said problem.
The officials cited the big amount of distribution charges they are paying to Peco and the potential hazard that illegal connections may cause in the resolution.
Hipodromo officials even named five residents allegedly made illegal connections to city streetlights: Roger Sabado, Tomas Murillo, Francisco Roquios Jr., Jose Marie Libo-on, and Anthony Macavinta.
Borja said they will also lobby for the passage of an ordinance outlawing unauthorized persons from climbing poles used by public utilities, especially Peco and telecommunication firms.
Anatan added they will immediately persecute violators of Republic Act 7832 or the Anti-Pilferage Act “primarily to protect the interest of our customers and also of the company.”



PGMA kin detained for Boracay credit card scam

By Jonathan Cabrera

BORACAY ISLAND – A first cousin of Presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Macapagal Arroyo has been detained here since Tuesday along with other suspects, one of them is reportedly the first wife of Tony Boy Cojuangco, for using fake credit cards.
Arrested was Ma. Marietta Quimson alias Maria Sylvia Garcia, 22, reportedly the first cousin of Rep. Arroyo, and Ma. Isabel Quiros, 46, said to be the first wife of Cojuangco.

The two were arrested together with Jung Gwan Seob, Anthony Cruz alias R. Cruz, Mark Mendoza, 41; Sean Eric Pineda, 30; David Pineda Martinez, 24; Jeremy Chun Lopsing, 32; Paolo Soler, 22; Andrew Tan Go, 27; and Jeremy Pineda 28. All of the suspects are residents of Makati and Quezon cities.
Reports gathered by The Guardian said the suspects owed Tourist Center Corporation (TCC) a total of P634,669.82 for various transactions since November 19, 2005 after it was found that the JBC and Amexco credits they used were bogus.
The TCC, which is located near the police station here, facilitates payment of credits incurred by credit-card holding tourists in the island.
The TCC informed the police of the suspects’ modus operandi/
A team from the Boracay Special Tourist Police Office (BSTPO) led by Supt. Remigio Gregorio put the suspects under surveillance until their arrest Tuesday.
The suspects refused to comment to the media but reports gathered by The Guardian showed the group is planning to settle their case with TCC.
Some of the establishments which the selects allegedly hoodwinked using fake credit cards include Boracay Regency Hotel, Mandala Spa, Seawind, Scuba World Diving, Island Surf, La Carmela Resort, Lonely Planet, El Centro Resort, and Aquaventure Whitetip Dive.
A certain Mariano “Nani Almeda,” reportedly the chief of staff of Rep. Arroyo, is the one negotiating for the settlement of the case.
The suspects are still detained at the lock-up cell of the BSTPO. (Published in The Guardian, November 25, 2005)

COUNCILOR IN DRUG YARN





Plagata denies taking money from illegal drugs

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

KAGAWAD Erwin “Tong-tong” Plagata admitted yesterday that he is a wedding godfather of a suspected drug lord in Iloilo City amid reports of a city official involved in the illegal drug trade.
But for Plagata, being a godfather to Melvin “Boyet” Odicta is a moral obligation he cannot refuse and should not be tainted with malice.
“Yes I am his godfather but not for whatever illegal transaction he is reportedly involved in. I just cannot refuse him since I saw it as a big responsibility and also it shows the kind of respect the guy has for me,” Plagata said.
In early 2000, Odicta’s name was on top of the PNP’s list of alleged drug personalities operating in Iloilo City. His “contemporaries” at that time were a certain Levi Zerrudo, Bondjing Paras and Jose Kim “Boy” Cuadra who is presently detained in Aklan for drug trafficking charges.
But sometime in 2003, then Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director Policarpio Segubre deleted Odicta’s name in the order of battle after the latter executed an oath of undertaking to cease from selling illegal drugs.
Plagata, chairman of the committee on police matters, said Odicta invited him to become one the major sponsors to his wedding last April “as he wanted to reform and give his child a decent future.”
“Hearing those words I took it upon myself to help Boyet by agreeing to become one of his maninoys. Maybe that was one way of showing his sincerity in his plan to turn a new leaf over,” Plagata said.
But Plagata said he accepted Odicta’s invitation on one condition.
“I made it categorically clear with him that our relationship is up to his marriage only. Maninoy lang ako sa kasal, wala na iban pa (I’m only his wedding godfather),” Plagata said.
The doctor-turned-councilor decided to admit his relationship to Odicta after learning of rumors linking him to his godson’s alleged illegal activities.
“Since last month, I already heard stories about me coddling a drug lord in the city. Once and for all, I am disclosing my relationship to Boyet (Odicta) to avoid more malicious stories from cropping up. I have nothing to hide and I believe that saying the truth will always help me clear the air of any doubt,” he said.
Whether Odicta continues to peddle drugs, Plagata said he cannot validate such information.
But he confirmed that his godson did pledge in a sworn document to stop selling prohibited substances.
To show sincerity in his desire to change, Plagata said Odicta favors the installation of a special police task force at Barangay Malipayon, Iloilo City Proper where the latter resides.
Plagata has been convincing his godson to clarify his name with the media.
Aside from Malipayon, a similar task force is being mulled at nearby Barangay Tanza-Esperanza.
Last September, the ICPO established Task Force Bakhaw at Mandurriao district, the city’s top drug spot.
However, Plagata revealed before the City Council an anonymous letter lambasting TF Bakhaw for sitting on its job which resulted to the resurgence of illegal drug trade in the village.


More HIV/Aids cases in WV

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HEALTH officials are concerned with the growing number of persons living with (HIV)/Aids (PLWHAs) who might be hiding in the region.
The Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) yesterday presented the “hiding but growing” trend of the Philippine Aids situation during a media forum at the Kabalaka Reproductive Health at the Central Philippine University (CPU).
Since 1998 to 2004, a total of eight persons, including three females and five males, in Western Visayas have died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).
From 1995 to 2002, four commercial sex workers in Iloilo City were tested positive of Aids through serological surveillance conducted by the health department.
As of August 2005, a total of 30 PLWHAs have been recorded by the DOH. Of the number, 13 PLWHAs are located in Iloilo.
Negros Occidental has 12 persons with HIV/Aids, Aklan with 3 cases while Guimaras and Capiz have 1 case each.
The total number of persons with HIV/Aids in the region includes 22 males and 8 females.
Fourteen of the male HIV/Aids patients are married while six out of the eight female cases also belong to the same civil status.
In terms of employment, 14 of the victims are overseas Filipino workers, 4 housewives, 3 waiters/bar tenders, 1 medical doctor and 2 nurses. The rest are lawyer, student, nautical courses graduate, X-ray technician and security guard.
Majority of the patients were infected with HIV/Aids through heterosexual intercourse.
As regards the status of the PLWHAs, 23 patients are already symptomatic or have shown signs of the disease while 7 are asymptomatic.
Of the 23 symptomatic patients, 9 have already died.
Health officials said all of the 23 symptomatic PLHWAs may have died if not for the proper care and education they obtained after coming out into the open.
Due to community preparedness, established management and referral systems and strong collaboration between the government and non-government organizations, more PLWHAs have been disclosed and given appropriate care.
Patients who already came out of the open have been effective peer educators and counselors.
The DOH regional office believes there are more PLWHAs in the region who must be reached for immediate medical attention.
Worse, many of them may not be aware that they already have the virus which can further spread the disease.
On December 1, the whole world will observe World Aids Day to raise awareness that Aids should not be feared and hidden but should be confronted by all sectors of community. (Published in The Guardian, November 24, 2005 issue)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

CAUGHT IN THE ACT





The car in question, folks.


Capitol driver in hot water
for driving car inside motel

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. gave the driver of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office (PTO) three days to explain why he checked-in at a motel in Molo, Iloilo City using a provincial government vehicle.
Tupas said he already sent a letter to erring driver Richard Villanueva to answer the charges filed against the latter by Provincial Planning and Development Office chief Mario Nillos.
Around 9pm Monday, several media outlets spotted the PTO’s service vehicle, a red-colored Mitsubishi Adventure with plate number SGA-448, go inside the Dragon Lodge Motel at Barangay Baluarte, Molo.
Reports from Aksyon Radyo reporters who received a tip on the PTO car inside the motel claimed that Villanueva and an unidentified female companion were on board the government vehicle.
After two hours, Villanueva and his companion went out of the motel to go home. Unknown to the driver, reporters have patiently waited for him tom come out of the lodging inn.
A chase ensued between Villanueva and the mediamen who wanted to get a piece of the story.
One version of the incident said Villanueva left his woman companion in an unspecified area to avoid undue publicity.
Unconfirmed reports said the woman was also a Capitol employee but Tupas and other provincial officials did not confirm nor deny the information.
The chase ended at the provincial capitol where Villanueva parked the vehicle and went out to explain to reporters who followed him.
Villanueva said he only ferried provincial treasurer Melba Sullivan to her home and he has a trip ticket authorizing the use of the vehicle.
Tupas said Villanueva can be dismissed for violating Civil Service regulations on the use of government vehicles and the capitol executive order on austerity measures.
The governor said Villanueva’s act of taking a provincial government vehicle inside a motel for personal use constitutes grave misconduct.
“It is rather unsavory to hear that he used the car for very personal purposes,” Tupas said.
Villanueva is now “grounded” as he will not be allowed to drive any government car for now.
Yesterday morning, Tupas met with all department heads to reiterate the austerity measures undertaken at the capitol to save on fuel and electricity.
Provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna said since this is his first offense, Villanueva can be suspended for six months and one day without pay.
Cabaluna said they will charge Villanueva with simple misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
But Cabaluna refused to comment whether bringing the car inside a motel is an aggravating circumstance to Villanueva’s case “as we have yet to know what really happened.”
If Villanueva fails to answer in three days, Cabaluna said: “We will decide on what to do with him.”

Peruvian wanted for rape

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THIS should serve as a warning to all ladies who like to male meet friends over the World Wide Web.
After the alleged rape of a Zamboangeña by six Americal soliders in Subic, immigration and deportation officials are hot on the trail of a Peruvian national who allegedly raped a physical therapist in Bacolod City last Sunday.
Initial information from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) identified the suspect as a certain George Felonario, 38, a native of South American nation Peru.
The alleged rape occurred on Sunday inside Felonario’s hotel room in Bacolod City.
Victim Sally, 24, (not her real name) said Felonario is her long time chat mate and email pal.
In fact, the victim made the hotel reservation for the suspect when he arrived at Bacolod City for a vacation.
On Sunday afternoon, Felonario invited Sally to visit him at his hotel room and since this was not the first time they met, the victim consented.
At the hotel room, the suspect overpowered Sally and consummated his carnal desire for the victim.
Sally resisted the suspect but she was no match to Felonario’s superior strength.
Sally said she trusted the Peruvian as he has been to Bacolod City for several times. She even introduced the suspect to her parents during one of his visits.
Results of the medical examination conducted by the Bacolod City Health Office on the victim showed signs of rape.
The Bacolod City police office has filed charges of rape against Felonario in order for the BID to issue a hold departure order against the suspect.
Based on police records, Felonario is also wanted for allegedly raping a doctor, an accountant and a medical representative in various parts of the country. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, November 23, 2005)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

AMBUSH






MOURNING. Relatives of soldiers slain during an ambush in Calinog, Iloilo get comforting words from a member of the Army's Task Force Panay outside St. Therese Memorial Chapel. (FAA)


9 killed, 14 wounded in Calinog ambush

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Philippine Army denounced the New People’s Army (NPA) for using landmines in the Saturday evening ambush in Calinog, Iloilo which killed nine soldiers and wounded 14 others.
"The recent attack by members of the communist NPA using landmines indicates a shift in their usual conduct of combat operations and is a clear manifestation of their terroristic nature," said Army spokesman Major Bartolome Bacarro.
Members of the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion and elite 1st Scout Ranger Company were waylaid at Barangay Datagan, some 7 kilometers from Calinog town proper past 8pm Saturday.
The Army soldiers were returning to their barracks on board two trucks after conducting patrol operations in the mountains of Iloilo and Capiz.
One of the trucks stepped on a landmine planted by the rebels instantly killing six government soldiers.
Remaining Army troops returned fire at 15 NPA rebels in an hour-long gun battle.
Reinforcements from the Army’s Task Force Panay based in Dingle, Iloilo forced the rebels to retreat to the mountains.
Major Lyndon Sollesta, spokesperson of the 3rd Infantry Division in Jamindan, Capiz said the rebels belonged to the NPA’s Central Front Committee.
The casualties were Staff Sgt. (SSgt.) Melquiades Montemayor of Cebu, Master Sgt. Paterno Villarente of Iloilo City, SSgt. Ronel Panes of Passi City, Corporal Rodelo Pacia of South Cotabato, Private First Class (PFC) Nuol Rosbert, a certain PFC Angeles of Davao, PFC Villamor of Davao, Corp. Marlon Cepalle of Bicol and SSgt. Alexander Luis of Ilocos region.
The remains of the dead soldiers were brought to St. Therese Memorial Chapel in Molo, Iloilo City.
Injured were PFC Ervin Gerona, Rodrigo Agud, Nasser Abellar, Ronnie Espiritu, Joel Ryan Delmonte, John William Oñaz, Richard Baslot, Michael Camotojan, James Carlito Rodel Jaud, Corp. Raul Fuentes, Mike Gigante, Edgar Gelito, Adonis Vincent Cabaljin and Mario Pascua.
They were brought to Western Visayas Medical Center and West Visayas State University Medical Center.
Most of the fatalities were on board the truck which stepped on the landmine.
The blast was so powerful it ripped the legs of the fatalities while others were killed by a hail of rebel bullets.
Authorities have yet to report on rebel casualties.
Calinog police investigators said the rebels planned the ambush for some time as several armed insurgents were reportedly spotted at the ambush site four days prior to the incident.
Investigator recovered plastic fragments probably used to wrap the landmine. They also discovered chewed sugarcane stalks in the area which the rebels consumed while awaiting their target.
Major Sollesta denounced the NPA for using landmines “which is no longer authorized under United Nations laws.”
The Army continues to pursue the rebels in the hinterlands of central Panay as of presstime.
Since last month, the NPA has waged sporadic attacks against Army and PNP personnel. (Published in The Guardian, November 21, 2005 issue)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

‘BANDIDO’


Syjuco couple lashes back at Mejorada

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

VISIBLY hurt by accusations thrown against them, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco and wife Rep. Judy Syjuco (2nd district, Iloilo) warned Gov. Niel Tupas of another “political holy war” if the latter fails to stop Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada from besmirching their reputations.
Appearing before Bombo Radyo anchorman Novie Guazo over Zona Libre, the beleaguered couple called Mejorada a “bandit, terrorist, liar, an attack dog and extortionist out to milk money.”
Mejorada accused the Syjucos of abandoning the second district and funneling public funds to the Tagipusuon Foundation.
“Knowing (Boy) Mejorada, I did not take this seriously, as I took it to be his style and standards operating procedure, the kuratong way of attack-and-collect-defend-and-collect kay man malapit na gid man ang paskua (because Christmas is approaching),” Augusto said.
Augusto said he is wandering why Mejorada launched the “personal lynching” against him and Judy “when elections are still over a year and half away.”
While he did refused to justify “the lies and fabrications” made by Mejorada, the Tesda secretary-general enumerated his accomplishments to prove they did not abandon the 2nd district.
“The education for all I started eight years ago has delivered clothes and school supplies to elementary students for many years. This was initially funded by personal money and then with additional government grants both of which amounted to P70million,” he said.
As regards the kabir chicken dispersal which Mejorada labeled as anomalous, Augusto said some 80,000 kabirs were given out for free to some 35,000 households at the second district.
“On the matter of fertilizers, we have given out to a few of the farmers at the second district all that came from the small and inadequate amount provided by the government and we followed government procedures and requirements,” he said.
The former second district representative said even the provincial government received larger amount of fertilizer “which I have not been provided either with a copy of that liquidation report from the provincial administrator.”
Meanwhile, Judy said she has accomplished millions worth of infrastructure projects since she assumed the helm of the second district.
The Syjucos also lambasted Mejorada for going after their finances when the latter refused them to gain access to the capitol financial records.
Augusto also warned Tupas to “restrain his dog from biting.”
“The owner has the responsibility to teach his dog good habits or else my ire will fall upon the owner and not the canine,” Augusto said.
The Syjucos reminded Tupas that “we are the only friends you have left” after all other congressmen in the province joined in the investigation of the Iloilo international airport.
Although the couple was disappointed with “the lack of moral power” of Senate President Franklin Drilon over Tupas and Mejorada, “we still respect him.”
Judy also wandered how her letter to Drilon asking the latter to discourage Mejorada from making more attacks at them ended up at in the hands of the provincial administrator. “That was a privileged communication.”
“We just hope the governor will put an end to all of this mudslinging to keep the peace within the Liberal Party. I can still forgive Mejorada but not for long. And I don’t think he is serious in running for congressman at the second district,” Augusto said.
In a text message, Mejorada expressed disappointment over the Syjucos response to his challenge.
“They should answer what happened to their P100-million pork barrel that went to their foundation, the P3.25-million fertilizer fund and the P4.2-million kabir project,” Mejorada said.

‘LET US MARRY’



Married priests Hector Canto and Jess Siva hold a mass at the Jaro plaza shortly after the Synod mass led by Archbishop Lagdameo.


MARRIED PRIESTS ‘JOIN’ JARO SYNOD

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MARRIED Catholic priests in Iloilo also joined the opening of the 3rd Diocesan Synod of Jaro yesterday as they called for the acceptance of optional celibacy within the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Fathers Hector Canto and Jess Siva held a mass in the middle of the Jaro plaza right after the concelebrated mass at the Jaro Cathedral for the formal opening of the synod.
Canto and Siva are the prime movers behind Kapilya Kita, a gathering of priests and children. The group has been calling reforms in the Catholic Church by way of adopting optional celibacy for priests.
Under the vow of celibacy, Catholic priests are strictly not allowed to marry or bear children in order to give undivided attention to their vocation.
But Siva and Canto said the Vatican must give priests between having a wife and family or living a celibate life.
The two priests added allowing priests to marry is “a gain for the Catholic Church rather than a loss.”
“It will give our priests a more holistic view of their selves and vocation and it will also help stem cases of sexual abuses within the church,” Siva said.
Last year, Kapilya Kita hogged the headlines when it revealed a purported “haven for priests’ children” in Molo, Iloilo City.
A couple also claimed acting as surrogate parents to priests’ children including that of a ranking official in the Archdiocese of Jaro.
Siva and Canto made news with their marriage to two women in the 90s. While they are still considered priests, the Catholic Church bars them from holding mass and administering communion.
Open to change
In his homily, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the purpose of the synod is “renewal of revitalization.”
Lagdameo said the Catholic Church is open to any changes to suit the needs and demans of present times.
“In order to be renewed as a Church, we must leave behind many ways of thinking, speaking and acting which no longer effectively serve and perhaps even obstruct our evangelizing mission. This mean an unsettling pain, a disengagement from what is cherished but is now obsolete or obstructive, a dying to what is sinful, that we may come to newness of life,” Lagdameo said.
Lagdameo said the synod “is an act of looking together in the same direction even if standing in different situations.
“It is an act of journeying towards the same direction, even if coming from different points of departure, like the twelve wise men looking for Jesus,” said the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The synod is composed of 129 participants including Lagdameo, 63 diocesan priests, 51 laity members, nine nuns, and five men religious.
Three non-Catholic representatives responded to attend the proceedings from the Baptist Church, from the United Christian Churches of the Philippines and from the Aglipayan Church.
The 3rd Synod of Jaro will discuss three important concerns – the life and ministry of priests; the life and ministry of women religious; and vocations and mission.
The synod will discuss results of the pre-synod consultations held in parishes and institutions, religious organizations, and religious congregations which are embodied in a paper called Instrumentum Laboris.
The approved proposals will be submitted to the archbishop on Saturday who will turn the same into decrees. Synod decrees will guide the implementation of the pastoral program of the archdiocese. (Published in The Guardian, November 18, 2005 issue)


‘TRUTH HURTS’
Syjucos afraid of what I know

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada has earned the ire of the Syjuco couple at the second district whom he plans to challenge in the next congressional race.
Mejorada yesterday revealed how Rep. Judy Syjuco, wife of former Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, has successfully barred him from attending two important activities at the second district.
A day before the opening of the 2nd Congressional District Sports Association (CDSA) meet last Saturday, host Mayor Rigor Brazas of Zarraga went to Mejorada to convince the latter not to show up at the opening salvo.
Brazas said he received pressures from Rep. Syjuco not to invite Mejorada to the sports event.
“I was ready to go to Zarraga since the province gave a hefty P150,000 financial aid to the CDSA meet aside from the P50,000 contribution of 2nd district Board Member Cecilia Capadosa. From what I heard, for the first time in the history of the Syjuco congressional reign at the second district, the couple also doled out P50,000,” Mejorada said.
Mejorada said he agreed not to attend the opening rites “as Mayor Brazas might find himself between two clashing rocks.”
“But in the evening during the fellowship night, I went to Zarraga since Rep. Judy already went home after the opening,” Mejorada added.
Yesterday morning, Mejorada received a call from Sta. Barbara Mayor Isabelo Maquino who also asked the latter not to show up at the opening of the 107th anniversary of the Cry of Sta. Barbara and Kahilawayan Festival today.
“I told Mayor Maquino that I will be at the sidelines only. I will be there but I won’t share the stage with Rep. Syjuco. Again, I don’t want Mayor Maquino to get caught in the middle,” Mejorada said.
Mejorada added he will accompany Gov. Niel Tupas today to the airport site in Cabatua-Sta. Barbara area after the Kahilwayan opening.
“But what do all of these actuations of Rep. Syjuco mean? Is she afraid to share the stage with me because the people will recall the questions I have raised against them as regards various funds that did not reach their constituents at the second district?” he said.
Earlier, Mejorada alleged that the P47-million pork barrel fund for the town of Alimodian was reverted to Syjuco’s Tagipusu-on Foundation. He also made the same claim in the P10-million skills development fund released to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) regional office.
Recently, Mejorada also divulged Rep. Syjuco’s alleged receipt of the controversial fertilizer fund worth P3.25million and the purported irregularities in the P4.2-million kabir chicken dispersal project granted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the Tagipusuon Foundation.
Mejorada alleged that more than 2,000 kabir breeder stocks were “illegally and improperly” turned over to a commercial breeder.
The provincial administrator said he already called the attention of the DA and the Commission on Audit to the alleged irregular transactions.
Mejorada also hit Rep. Syjuco for trying to drag Senate President Franklin Drilon into their fray.
“Apparently, instead of answering my questions, Rep. Syjuco wrote Senator Drilon asking him to bar me from making offensives against her and her husband. Unfortunately for her, the good senator deferred from directly involving himself in the issue,” Mejorada said.
In his letter-reply to Syjuco dated November 9, 2005, Drilon said “(Boy) Mejorada is acting on his own and I have nothing to do whatsoever with his attacks against you or (Boboy).”
“I certainly value our friendship, and as you have put it, would want to ‘keep peace in the family.’ I will talk to Boy Mejorada, but please understand that, at the end of the day, I cannot control or dictate what he will do,” Drilon replied to Syjuco.
Mejorada said with the way Rep. Syjuco is acting, “I consider my presence a threat against her and his husband. Any maybe they are afraid of the truth.” (Published in The Guardian, November 17, 2005 issue)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

‘THE DOCTOR IS OUT’



More physicians want to
work as nurses abroad


By Francis Allan L. Angelo

More than 4,000 doctors are bound to leave the country in search for greener pastures abroad, a dilemma which will result in utter degradation of the public health system.
Concerned with the continuing exodus of their colleagues to foreign countries to work as nurses, government doctors in the region banded together to address “the public health hemorrhage.”
Dr. Lydia Depra-Ramos, regional director of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) and founding president of the Philippine Association of Government Physicians, Inc. (Pagpi), expressed alarm over the growing number of public doctors leaving the country to earn more as nurses in Western nations.
Pagpi, which was conceived in September 2004, aims to “guarantee opportunities to government physicians for professional and personal growth, development and advancement and also to maximize their potentials and give recognition to their services.”
Government doctors include physicians working at rural health units and local government and DOH hospitals.
From November 18-19, 2005, Pagpi will hold its first annual national convention to discuss possible solutions to the continuing mass departure of Filipino doctors abroad
Ramos fear the migration of doctors to US and other foreign nations will result to less nurtured Filipinos.
“Before, the idea of a doctor becoming a nurse was unthinkable. But because of the present situation where doctors are not well paid with lots of works and responsibilities and so many social expectations, they are tempted to leave the country for better-paying jobs,” Ramos said.
Ramos added “we should start nurturing our doctors or else the Philippine health system will suffer. That is the purpose of Pagpi.”
“Pagpi will give a face, a voice and a group to government doctors so they will feel assured that whatever problems they encounter will be addressed,” Ramos said.
Lack of opportunity
Behind these alarming number of doctors mass migrating for better pastures abroad (see related front page story), Ramos said the real reasons are “low pay, lack of opportunity for personal and professional advancement, demoralization over poor hospital facilities and lack of support from the government for proposed solutions.”
“Dissatisfaction is spreading among government doctors. Despite the years they spent to prepare for their profession and their workload, their pay is lower compared to a Supreme Court clerk. A clerk receives P20,000 monthly while our doctors only get P15,000 a month,” Ramos said.
Ramos proposed to exclude government health workers from the salary standardization policy of the government just like the judiciary to address the concern of low wages among heath workers.
“Just imagine drivers and clerks of the judiciary earning more than our doctors and nurses. This is really lopsided appreciation of physicians in government. Our efforts might be late, but it’s better than doing nothing,” she said.
Aside from an independent salary scheme, Pagpi will also lobby with the government to allow government doctors to engage in private practice.
“As we try to increase the salaries and benefits of our health workers, they can earn extra income by moonlighting as medical specialists,” Ramos said.
Pagpi will also try to inject fresh blood into the public health system by attracting more students to enter medical schools by way of scholarships.
“But we will require our scholars to work for two years for every year of scholarship they enjoyed. Even if more doctors come out, we will ensure that much more will come in,” Ramos said.
Another way of enticing more medical students is to relax requirements for residency programs of hospitals and attractive compensation package upon employment.
The DOH also urged local government units to allow and help public doctors and nurses to go on trainings and seminars “to hone their skills.”
“In most towns and cities, the doctors and nurses are all work because some mayors complain that no one is left to attend to patients at hospitals when they go on training. But the medical profession is an ongoing training given its scientific background. That is the problem with devolution of health services. The politicians speak a language different from that of medical professionals,” Ramos said.
The DOH regional chief further said: “The lack of state of the art equipment in hospitals also demoralizes physicians as they feel inadequate in practicing their expertise. But if you have these modern gadgets to help our doctors, they will be inspired to serve.”
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque, Cong. Francis Escudero and former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan are among the speakers of the two-day event which will be held Amigo Terrace Hotel.
The theme for the first Pagpi annual convention is “Nurturing Government Physician Practice in the Philippines. (Published in The Guardian, November 16, 2005)

IN HOT WATER

Suspected robber pulls rug
under Barotac Nvo police

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Barotac Nuevo police force is in hot water over the escape of a robbery suspect from the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) Sunday afternoon.
Insp. Avelino Natal, Barotac Nuevo PNP chief, and his personnel have a lot of explaining to do with their superiors as to why Johnny Balsomo, 24, of Barangay Concepcion-Duran, Iloilo City Proper slipped past their guard at the WVMC.
Balsomo is one of the suspects in the November 6 robbery attempt on businessmen Simeon and Aida Rubuin at Fiammetta Subdivision in Barangay Tabuc Suba, Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.
The Rubuin couple and two of their children were on board an Anfra van when Balsomo and two other suspects chased the family on board a motorcycle.
The suspected robbers shot the van with an unknown firearm which damaged the vehicles right front wheel and windshield.
The chase continued at a heavy populated area of the subdivision until gunshots flared in the area.
Balsomo, who drove the motorcycle, felt the bullet from the unseen gunman hit his abdomen.
The suspects immediately fled and brought Balsomo to the Passi District Hospital but he was later transferred to WVMC at Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
When investigated by police, Balsomo said he incurred the wound during a shooting incident at Dumarao, Capiz.
On Sunday, Balsomo’s mother Rosini reported to the Mandurriao PNP that her son was nowhere to be found.
Based on the blotter report, Rosini said her son asked for permission to have snacks at the WVMC cafeteria past 3pm Sunday.
After several minutes, Rosini fetched her son from the cafeteria but he already vanished from the hospital’s vicinity.
UNGUARDED
What made Balsomo’s escape controversial is the failure of the Barotac Nuevo police to guard the suspect while in confinement at the hospital.
Right after he was confined at the Passi City hospital, Shiela Rubuin, daughter of Simeon and Aida, positively identified Balsomo as one of the suspects who waylaid their vehicle on November 6.
Despite the identification of the victims, the Barotac Nuevo police only decided to guard Balsomo on November 9 after Senior Supt. Efren Quintos, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, ordered them to secure the suspect.
PO3 Rio Estilo, Barotac Nuevo PNP investigator, said they cannot handcuff Balsomo to his hospital bed since no warrant of arrest has been issued against the suspected robber.
Estilo said they still have to wait for the provincial prosecutor to resolve the attempted robbery with homicide charges against Balsomo and his cohorts.
Supt. Cornelio Defensor, IPPO deputy director for operations, said they will investigate the whole Barotac Nuevo police force why they failed to guard Balsomo.
But Defensor said they also have to follow procedures on the issuance of warrants of arrest.
As to Balsomo’s case, Defensor said the principle of hot pursuit did not apply anymore since they only ascertained the suspect’s involvement in the case more than three days after the incident.
“We have to follow the process or else our police will bear the brunt of their actions,” Defensor said.
Defensor added Natal has no liability over Balsomo’s disappearance since the latter was not under arrest “but if he violated a direct order from our provincial director, then he (Natal) is liable for insubordination.”
The Rubuins were disappointed to learn of Balsomo’s escape.
Lawyer Evary Tupas, counsel for the Rubuins, told Aksyon Radyo that his clients were surprised to learn of the escape since “we trusted the police to guard him at the hospital.”
Equally distraught was Balsomo’s mother who is now in a quandary on how to pay her son’s P9,000 hospital bill.
Natal admitted his failure to deploy his personnel to secure Balsomo.
Doctors and nurses who took care of Balsomo said Natal asked them to inform the latter if the suspect is discharged from the hospital.
WHO’S THE GUNMAN?
Based on latest investigation by the IPPO, one of the Rubuins may have shot Balsomo.
IPPO sources said the suspects planned to kill an unidentified son of the Rubuins for personal reasons.
“Ang holdup pag-patalang lang ato. Ang motibo amu nga patyun ang anak sg mga Rubuin (The holdup angle is just a deception. The real motive is to kill the son of the Rubuins),” the IPPO source said.
The source added “it was easy for the victims to hit Balsomo since the suspects were driving close to the van.”
The Rubuins had denied carrying a gun during the incident. (Published in The Guardian, November 15, 2005 issue)

Monday, November 14, 2005

CATTLE RUSTLERS

Police say suspects are members of syndicate in Iloilo province

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

CATTLE rustlers are having a field day in a village in LaPaz, Iloilo City with more than 30 cows already stolen since January.
Around 1am Saturday, Angelico Juntado of Barangay Banuyao, LaPaz lost his 1-year old cow to unidentified suspects.
Juntado’s case is the latest in more than 30 cattle rustling incidents this year which have remained unsolved.
Residents of Banuyao said their village chief Arturo Magbanua and tanods are helpless against animal robbers.
“We have been complaining with our Punong barangay but the stealing of our livestock continues. The police have not done any action against the suspects,” Juntado said.
Juntado added they have resorted to guarding their livestock “since we cannot rely on our officials and police.”
Aside from Juntado, the latest victims were identified as Henry Mabilos, Agustin Ofealta, Margie Delilla, Rodolfo Genallos and Antonio Petiño.
Even residents of nearby barangays of Ticud and Gustilo and areas of Jaro have fallen victims to cattle rustlers.
Barangay Kagawad Boyet Fernandez said they have instituted security measures to stave off cattle thieves.
But Fernandez said their barangay tanods are no match to the poachers who are “heavily-armed and well organized.”
Based on reports from residents, Fernandez said the cattle rustlers transported their loot on board a container van and accompanied by motorcycle-riding lookouts.
“Our tanods who only have nightsticks (batuta) cannot do anything against these heavily armed suspects. We are afraid that some of us might get killed if we run after these robbers,” Fernandez said.
However, Punong Barangay Magbanua blamed the police for his village’s peace and order problem.
“The police just told us to be vigilant against cattle rustlers. But what can we do when the suspects are brandishing long firearms. We expected the police to help us but we received nothing,” Magbanua clamored.
Magbanua added they have passed a resolution urging the city government and the police to carefully inspect cattle brought to the slaughterhouse at Molo district to ascertain if the animals are stolen or not.
Magbanua said they have also requested the police to put up a detachment in their area “but it has remained a request.”
The village chief although he understood the lack of police personnel to cover the whole district, “all I am asking is for our authorities to act in order to stop these suspects from stealing our animals.”
But Senior Insp. Alejandro Apostol, LaPaz police chief, said they have been helping Banuyao residents and officials “but the suspects are hard to catch.”
Apostol said cattle rustlers operate in the village at the most unexpected time.
LaPaz police intelligence officers said the poachers are members of a cattle rustling syndicate from Iloilo province.


Blue guard in Calzada
shooting at-large

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Mandurriao police is still looking for the whereabouts of a security guard who shot the son of an Iloilo town mayor Saturday morning.
Senior Insp. Kim Legada, Mandurriao PNP chief, said they have yet to locate Eladio Prior of Bingawan, Iloilo and security guard of Calzada Bar and Grill at Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
Prior is the suspect in the shooting of Rodgen Balasico, 21, son of San Rafael Mayor Ronnie Balasico, around 1am Saturday at the said nightspot.
Police reports said Rodgen was having a drinking spree with his friend James Belleza prior to the incident.
As Rodgen and Belleza were about to go home, the former argued with the bar’s management over their bill.
When Rodgen went rowdy, Prior allegedly shot him on the chest with a caliber .38 revolver.
The victim was rushed to the Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital and went under the knife to for his wounded heart.
Legada said Tomas Chua, owner of the said bar, had no idea about Prior’s whereabouts.
But Prior’s agency, R & E Detective & Security Agency, has been coordinating with the police to facilitate his surrender.
Mayor Balasico admitted his son is “immature” despite his age.
Palalagaw ina sya kag mahilig mag gwa kung gab-i para mag-inom. Amo na gain nga ang iya balon sakto lang para di sya mag kadto kung diin-diin (He likes to go out at night to have drinking sprees. That is why his allowance is only enough for his necessities so he won’t stray at night),” Balasico said.
The mayor also admitted his son may have failed to pay his bills which resulted to the shooting incident.
Rodgen is also involved in a shooting incident during their town fiesta last month. (Published in The Guardian, November 14, 2005 issue)

Friday, November 11, 2005

SEX SLAVES

Three minors accuse fratmen of rape

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IN A period of five days, two minor-aged girls allegedly became sex slaves of three fraternity members in Cabatuan, Iloilo.
Records from Cabatuan police identified the victims as Sherlyn, 15, and Shiela Fe, 14, (not their real names), all of the said town.
According to Vanessa, 14, a friend of the two victims, last October 29, 2005, a certain Jovie Pelonia, 25, invited them to go to his home at Barangay Acao, Cabatuan for a party on November 2.
The three girls agreed and they met each other outside of the Cabatuan Catholic Cemetery and boarded a jeepney bound for Acao.
After a 30-minute ride, the trio arrived at Jovie’s house only to find out that there was no party after all. Instead, Pelonia invited them to the house of Joey Line at Barangay Salacay, Cabatuan.
Police said Pelonia and Line are members of an unidentified fraternity in Cabatuan.
After two hours of walking, the three girls and Pelonia arrived at Salacay around 7pm of November 2.
By 7:30pm, Line arrived and accommodated his visitors.
The victims’ ordeal began on the evening of November 3 when Rodolfo Cerego, also a friend of Pelonia and Line, allegedly abused Shiela Fe and Sherlyn.
Vanessa, the only girl who was not raped, alleged that Cerego, Pelonia and Line feasted on her two friends from November 3 to 6.
Vanessa added the suspects kept them locked inside the house and only gave them rice and sugarcane to eat.
On the evening of November 6, Jason, another friend of the suspects, and two unidentified women fetched the victims at Julie’s house.
From Salacay, Jason and the two women brought the victims to 95 Place, a videoke bar at Barangay Bolong Oeste, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. But the management of the bar refused to accept the victims saying they were minors.
Jason planned to bring them to Boracay Island but failed.
While at Sta. Barbara, the victims asked Jason’s women companions to free them which they did.
Early this week, the family of the victims filed cases of rape against Line, Pelonia and Cerego.
Cerego remains at-large while the two suspects are now detained at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center.
But Pelonia denied the allegations saying the three minors asked for his help to look for jobs.
Pelonia accommodated the three to his house but he transferred them to Line’s house at Salacay.
The three minors stayed at Salacay with Pelonia, Line and Cerego.
Pelonia said that for three days nothing happened to the three girls but Cerego admitted to the former having sex with Sherlyn. (Published in The Gaurdian-Western Visayas, November 12-13, 2005)



TUPAS DEFENDS
MONTESCLAROS

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“SO what’s wrong if Montesclaros does business at the airport project?”
Short of defending his balaye, Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas said the contract between Montesclaros Construction and the Taisei-Shimizu Joint Venture (TSJV), contractor of the new Iloilo international airport project, “is their own affair.”
Tupas issued the statement after the House committee on good government chaired by Rep. Arthur Defensor (3rd district, Iloilo) learned on Wednesday that Montesclaros is the one supplying crushed rocks to TSJV and not Estancia-based businessman Melvin Requinto who is the permitee of the rock crusher at Barangay Caigon, Maasin, Iloilo.
Requinto claims he leased the crusher from Montesclaros who is based in Bukidnon province in Mindanao.
But Rep. Ferj Biron (4th district, Iloilo) said Requinto is a mere dummy of Montesclaros.
However, Tupas said there is nothing wrong with such setup.
“The committee is trying to connect me to the issue (since my balaye is involved). But that is the internal arrangement between Montesclaros and the Japanese contractor,” Tupas said.
The governor added Requinto already secured a permit to operate the crusher and “it is wrong to say that Montesclaros is the one supplying crushed rocks to the project.”
“The Japanese is only paying for the use of the crusher which is owned by my balaye. There is no need for Monteclaros to get a permit since he has no transaction with the provincial government,” Tupas said.
To dispel insinuations that only the family of the wife of his son Mayor Raul Tupas is operating a rock crusher for the airport project, Tupas said two other plants owned by Metro Alpha Construction and a certain Edgar Comoda are also running at Sta. Barbara town.
“It’s all politics. We should not wonder if they keep giving malice to this issue and at the same time link me to it. We all want the airport to be finished soon but look at what other people are doing,” Tupas said.
Already fed up with threats of House inquiries against his administration, Tupas said “they have alleged a lot of things (against me) but nothing has happened.”
Lately, Akbayan representative Risa Baraquel-Hontiveros passed a resolution to investigate alleged irregularities in the construction of the new capitol building.
But Tupas said he welcomes the investigation “so the people will know.”
As regards the delay in the airport project, Tupas said it is unlikely for the national government to rescind the contract with TSJV “since it would take more than four years to look for a new contractor.”
“What is important is that this airport will be finished as soon as possible. The original completion target was October 2006. But under present circumstances, the project might be over in the middle of 2007,” Tupas said.
Earlier, Rep. Rolex Suplico, who is Tupas’s nephew, called for the rescission of the contract with TSJV due to the 55 percent slippage of the project which is a grievous mistake for government infrastructure projects. (Published in The Gaurdian-Western Visayas, November 12-13, 2005)

‘DUMMY’




Who’s earning from Maasin rock crusher?

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO Ilonggo representatives are wondering why two different entities are running the operations of the controversial rock crusher plant at Barangay Caigon, Maasin, Iloilo.
During the penultimate leg of the Iloilo international airport investigation the other day, Reps. Arthur Defensor (3rd district, Iloilo), and Ferj Biron (4th district, Iloilo) found out that while Estancia-based merchant Melvin Requinto got the permit to run the plant, the Montesclaros family from Bukidnon province in Mindanao is the one earning from its operation.
The rock crusher plant “refines” filling materials for the airport project at the Cabatuan-Sta. Barbara area per requirements of the Japanese contractor Taisei-Shimizu joint venture (TSJV).
Requinto, a gasoline dealer and general merchant from Estancia town, got a permit from the provincial government to operate the plant in Maasin.
Requinto claimed he rented the plant from the Montesclaros family, the in-laws of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas who is the son of Governor Niel Tupas Sr.
But during the investigation on Tuesday, TSJV representatives, through legal counsel and former Iloilo vice governor Roberto Maroma, admitted they are actually doing business with the Montesclaros family and not with Requinto.
Maroma confirmed to the House committee that the Montesclaroses entered into a contract with TSJV to supply crushed rocks to the airport project.
“What is clear now is that while Requinto is the permitee to run the plant, Montesclaros is the one who has a contract with the Japanese firms to supply crushed rock to the project,” Defensor said.
But Defensor added: “We will evaluate this development further. The committee will look into the implications of this setup to our existing regulations.”
Biron said Requinto “is purely a dummy of Montesclaros.”
“Why will Montesclaros, who is not a quarry permitee, deliver filling materials to the airport site? It is strange that Requinto, who has the permit to operate the plant, does not engage in actual sale of the products that he was licensed to process,” Biron said.
The committee also required TSJV to provide a copy of the contract and all purchase receipts issued by Montesclaros Construction in the next airport project hearing.
In a separate interview with The Guardian, Maroma said the contract between TSJV and Montesclaros may have been part of their internal arrangement.
“According to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, there is nothing wrong with such setup if that is the internal agreement between the contractor and the supplier. Requinto was given a permit because he was capable of putting up the plant,” Maroma said.
Maroma clarified the contract between Montesclaros and the TSJV is not exclusive.
But during the April leg of the airport investigation, the committee found out that Requinto was not registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to engage in construction and quarry business.
Requinto only registered his business with the DTI as a quarry firm in December 2004, three months after getting his permit from the provincial government.
SLIPPAGE
Meanwhile, Defensor said they have required Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza to appear in the next hearing to explain the 55.60 percent slippage in the airport project.
“We demanded no less than the presence of Secretary Mendoza since there are matters which his emissaries cannot answer,” Defensor said.
Biron said the Japanese contractor admitted the slow progress in the groundwork of the new airport site has affected the project.
“Maybe because there is only one rock crusher that is operating, the contractor cannot go full scale in the groundwork,” Biron said.
Maroma said the delay in the airport cannot be attributed to the TSJV.
“The four-month delay in the awarding of the contract to the winning bidder, in this case the TSJV, also affected the progress of the project. The initial plan was to start the construction in January last year but due to problems in the bidding, actual works began in April 2004,” Maroma said.
Maroma also cited problems of the remaining tenants and residents at the airport and burrow pit sites as factors which delayed the airport project.
Even the quality of filling material from the burrow pit in Sta. Barbara impeded the construction, Maroma said.
“The soil from the burrow pit has high moisture content so the contractor has to wait for a long time in order for the soil to dry before resuming with the construction. The contractor decided to mix sand with soil from the burrow pit to solve this problem,” Maroma said.
With the regulation of heavy duty trucks passing through Cabatuan and Maasin areas, Maroma said the project will be delayed even more.
“But the actual delay is only 10-11 percent according to the explanation of the Japan Airport Consultants,” Maroma said.
Gov. Tupas also attended the committee investigation but he has yet to return to the capitol as of yesterday morning. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, November 11, 2005 issue)

DRYING UP




Maasin watershed deteriorating

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ASIDE from management dilemmas, the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) is also in danger of losing its main source of potable water at the Maasin watershed due to lack of comprehensive planning.
Based on the latest feasibility study of the Kahublagan sang Panimalay Foundation, Inc. (KSPFI), the absence of a central body that will handle preservation efforts and conflicts in strategies have resulted to the gradual withering of the watershed.
The KSPFI also conducted a study on the rehabilitation of watershed in the early 90s, the period where the Maasin watershed was already 92 percent denuded due to human activities.
The watershed has a total area of 6,150 hectares and provides water for agricultural, domestic and industrial uses.
In 1990s, the MIWD sourced 72 percent of its water requirement from the Maasin catchment until it began to explore other sources like surface and deep wells. But the latter sources have also diminished due to continuous diggings of private wells within MIWD’s concession area.
Aside from the lack of reliable water source, the MIWD is also suffering from old and defective pipelines aside from numerous cases of water pilferers.
In 2000, the projected demand of water for all uses from the Maasin watershed was at 62,468,380 cubic meters per year but the projected water supply was only 5,298,048 cubic meters, a staggering gap of 57.17million cubic meters per year.
Although the KSPFI recommended reforestation and preservation programs to save watershed, it continued to deteriorate particularly this year when the Maasin dam and Tigum River dried up.
The KSPFI and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) even conducted an ocular inspection of the watershed to investigate its status.
Dr. Jessica Salas of KSPFI found out that their recommendations were not followed to the letter.
“Because of different and irreconcilable goals of the earlier feasibility study and the actual implementation, two strategies recommended in the study have not been implemented namely the improved production practices and increase productivity/efficiency. The former was for the conservation of resources and the latter the development of farm livelihood,” Salas observed in her study.
Salas also noticed the lack of coordination among the MIWD, environment department and the local government to solve the problem.
In a meeting of the Iloilo Watershed Management Council this year, Salas noted “finger pointing between the MIWD, DENR and the local government.”
“The MIWD blamed the DENR for not properly protecting the watershed. The local government blamed the MIWD for getting more water that it should. The DENR said it was climate change. The non-government organizations said the massive plantation and exotic species in the rehabilitation project siphoned available water during distinct dry season. And all the council did was to listen,” Salas said.
Non-implementation
On the other hand, Local Waters Utilities Administration (Lwua) chief Lorenzo Jamora said the takeover of the MIWD is necessary “to protect our consumers and the interest of the Lwua.
The Lwua is the regulating body of all water utilities in the country.
Jamora said they are concerned with the slow implementation of the MIWD’s rehabilitation project.
“The takeover stemmed from purely management problems. It has been two years since we approved the loan for the project but not much has been accomplished. We are concerned with the very slow pace of the rehabilitation,” Jamora said.
Jamora clarified the slippage in the project is 80 percent “which is already a case of non-implementation of the project.”
“The MIWD owes us money so we have to protect our interest. And in the end the consumers themselves will suffer,” Jamora said.
Jamora added interim MIWD general manager Engr. Edwin Reyes will only stay on a temporary basis “until we have finished the internal audit of the project.”
“Engr. Le Jayme Jalbuena is still the general manager but for the meantime, he is giving way for our people for the audit. This is purely a managerial matter since it was the MIWD board of directors that requested for our help,” Jamora said. (Published in The Gaurdian-Western Visayas, November 10, 2005 issue)



Molo robbery confuses cops, too

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

EVEN the police are confused if what really happened during the Monday evening robbery of a collector of a chain of gasoline pump stations at Barangay East Timawa, Molo, Iloilo City.
Inspector Frankie Lugo, Molo PNP chief, said they are also wondering why collector-cum-driver Anthony Biscayda (not Viscaya as earlier reported), 34, of Escarilla Subdivision, Mandurriao, Iloilo told two versions of the heist.
Biscayda is the collector of the Santos chain of Shell gas stations.
Worse, the person whom Biscayda recognized as one of the robbers is presently detained for possession of illegal drugs.
Lugo said they are carefully investigating the two versions of the incident by Biscayda.
In several media interviews right after the incident, Biscayda said one of the suspects already held him at gunpoint after getting the day’s collection at their outlet at Ledesma-Mabini Streets, Iloilo City Proper.
The suspect then told him to proceed with his collection chores at Ledesma-Jalandoni and East Timawa outlets.
Biscayda said the robbers carted away more than P100,000 in cash.
But in the Molo police blotter report, Biscayda said he was already on his way to the East Timawa pump station when the robbers on board a white taxi blocked his path near the Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital.
One of the suspects armed with a caliber .45 pistol forcibly opened the van and told Biscayda to proceed to the Timawa station.
At the said gasoline outlet, three more suspects emerged and took away all the collection money.
The suspects even forced the station attendants to go under the benches to prevent them from fighting back.
The four robbers fled from the scene on board the same white taxi.
Biscayda said he failed to take note of the taxi’s plate number since it was parked at a dark portion of the crime scene.
At the Molo PNP yesterday, Biscayda recognized a certain Gilbert Hortillas from the rogues’ gallery as one of the suspects.
Hortillas is a resident of Barangay San Vicente, Jaro, Iloilo City. But his relatives said it is impossible for Hortillas to join in the robbery since he is presently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) district jail in Barangay Ungka, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Hortillas was arrested last October for possession of shabu at Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
Chief Insp. Amelito Fuentes, BJMP district jail warden, confirmed Hortillas is one of their inmates.
“He has been detained at Selda 1 since last week so it is impossible for him to get out of prison without any court clearance. Maybe the suspect in the robbery was just a look alike of Hortillas,” Fuentes said.
In an interview with Bombo Radyo reporter Edwin Laruan, Hortillas denied involvement in the heist “since I am here inside the jail.”
Hortillas added he has never been involved in any robbery case before.
Insp. Lugo said they will dig deeper into the case particularly on the inconsistencies in Biscayda’s statements.
Police have also identified other suspects but Lugo declined to name them pending their investigation.
Lugo said they make Biscayda identify Hortillas in person to ascertain the former’s claim. (Published in The Gaurdian-Western Visayas, November 10, 2005 issue)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

MIWD IN CRISIS


What's bugging the MIWD which forced Lwua to takeover its operations?

Two GMs head water firm

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AFTER the looming power crisis in Iloilo, it’s now the turn of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) to hog the limelight as management problems has forced the Local Water Utilities Administration (Lwua) to partially takeover its operations.
The takeover has also given MIWD the dubious reputation of having two general managers serving at the same time.
Since October 11, interim general manager Engr. Edwin Reyes took over sensitive operations of the MIWD from Engr. Le Jayme Jalbuena after Lwua administrator Lorenzo Jamora ordered the takeover.
Reyes is the management adviser of Lwua and also served as interim manager in several areas in Tarlac, Vigan, Palawan, Ilocos Sur and other water districts in Luzon.
Reyes said the takeover stemmed from the negative 20 percent slippage in the P207million Small Towns Water Supply Structure Project (STWSSP).
Covering the towns of Oton, Sta. Barbara, Maasin, Cabatuan, San Miguel, Pavia and Iloilo City, the STWSSP aims to upgrade water supply systems in MIWD areas of operations.
The Asian Development Bank granted a loan for the said project which is set to be completed next year.
The Guardian secured a copy of a Lwua report which outlined the problems of the rehabilitation project.
The report said MIWD systems losses remain high due to old pipes, illegal connections and low revenues. It also cited the slow increase in additional household connections as another problem besetting the MIWD management.
MIWD records showed only 22,000 households out of more than 300,000-population in Iloilo City have service connections with the said water utility firm due to expensive charges and dragging flow of paperworks.
The MIWD is also having problems with its potable water source due to private wells existing within its area of concession.
The problems caught the attention of the MIWD board of directors which in turn reported the matter to the Lwua, thus the takeover.
Although Jalbuena is still the general manager, Reyes has assumed sensitive functions like entering and signing contracts and other vital transactions of the MIWD.
“The interim management will be here from three to five months only after we have settled the problems. This is a usual process every time we see problems in water districts under the Lwua’s jurisdictions. We are focusing on Iloilo because this one of the biggest water districts in the country. Operations will go on as usual and we see no water crisis in future here in Iloilo,” Reyes said.
However, Reyes declined to comment on allegations of corruption at the MIWD which has resulted to the delay of the rehabilitation project and the takeover. “It is up to the local board to tackle such problems.”
To solve the problem in the STWSSP, Reyes said they will bid out the project to the private sector to fast track its completion.
Reyes said they plan to hold the bidding on January 6, 2006 to complete the project within eight months.
The interim MIWD manager said they will make affordable their connection rates while reducing bureaucracy to increase their consumer base. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, November 9, 2005 issue)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

‘GHOST GUNMAN’

UNSEEN SHOOTER NAILS ROBBER

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A BUSINESS couple and children in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo survived a robbery attempt past 6pm Sunday after one of the suspects was mysteriously shot in the chest.
Simeon Ruben, 60, and his wife Aida, 56, along with their daughter Sheila and an unidentified son were on their home to Fiammetta Subdivision, Barangay Tabuc Suba, Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo on board their Anfra van when three motorcycle riding men chased them at Barangay Tabuc Suba in the said town.
During the chase, the suspect right behind the driver opened fire at the van and hit the vehicle’s windshield and left front tire.
Aside from the trio, the Rubens also saw two more men on board another tricycle cruising from a distance.
The pursuit continued until they ended up in a heavily populated area of the subdivision.
Several residents came out when they heard the Rubens shout for help. Out of nowhere, gunshots erupted which hit one of the suspects on the chest.
The trio quickly fled from the scene and brought their wounded companion, who was later identified as Johnny Balsomo of Zerrudo Street, Barangay Sto. Rosario, Iloilo City Proper district, to the Passi District Hospital.
Balsomo was later transferred to the Western Visayas Medical Center. At the hospital, Sheila positively identified Balsomo as the one who drove the motorcycle.
Balsomo denied involvement in the Barotac Nuevo incident saying he was shot during an altercation at Dingle then later at Dumarao, Capiz.
However, police from the said areas denied the occurrence of any shooting incident in their area on Sunday.
According to the National Bureau of Investigation, Balsomo, a former Army member, was one of the suspects in robbery of Chicken Sari-Sari restaurant at Commission Civil Street, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Aida said she noticed something unusual while closing their grocery store at Barotac Nuevo town proper before going home to Fiammetta Subdivision.
Last June, Aida claimed receiving information from a friend that they are the target of a robbery gang.
The wife also denied that he husband shot Balsomo since “he has no weapon with him.”
“Maybe one of the residents who went out shot the suspects. My husband had no gun. It is impossible for him to shoot at the suspects,” she said.
The Rubens will file charges of attempted multiple homicide against Balsomo and his companions.
Barotac Nuevo police said they are still boggled by Balsomo’s shooting. (Published in the November 8, 2005 issue of The Guardian)

Friday, November 04, 2005

‘INADEQUATE’


POWER CONCERNS. Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. listens as Engr. Nelson Homena (2nd from left), plant manager of the Dingle power plant of Napocor, discusses the activation of additional power capacity for Iloilo in time for the Christmas season yesterday.

Pinamucan can’t supply power to Panay

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

BRACE for a possible bleak Christmas and New Year's Day.
Residents of Panay cannot rely on the Pinamucan power plant to supply the growing energy needs of the island, particularly during the Yuletide season.
This was the admission of National Power Corporation (Napocor) officials during a meeting with Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. the other day.
Aside from the Napocor, Tupas also convened officials from the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) and the three Iloilo electric cooperatives after learning of the problems besetting the Pinamucan facility.
Provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said the governor discussed with energy officials and electric cooperatives preparations for the coming Christmas season.
‘We wanted to make sure that there is enough power during the holidays,” Mejorada said.
But Engineer Nelson Homena, plant manager of the Dingle power facility, said the 110-megawatt Pinamucan diesel-fired power plant alone is not enough to satisfy the power demands of Panay.
Earlier, Napocor sources said the Pinamucan plant experienced problems during initial testing.
Tupas said the facility “is very old” and was only resurrected to augment the energy requirements of Panay after being deactivated several years back.
The Pinamucan plant has eight engines but only half are operational due to unspecified defects.
Capitol sources said Napocor personnel “cannibalized” several parts of the Pinamucan plant to replace busted instruments.
But Homena said they will try to operate one unit of the plant by December in preparation for the holidays when demand for electricity is expected to reach its highest peak.
The Napocor will also try to reactivate the two power barges from stationed in Iloilo to add to the capacity of the Pinamucan facility.
Homena said the Pinamucan plant can only used as “voltage capacity building” and not for full power generation.
Aside from defects, the Napocor executive also said it would be costly for them to fully operate the said plant with the rising prices of fuel in the world market and the recent implementation of the revised Value Added Tax.
It takes ¼ of a liter of diesel to generate one kilowatt-hour of electricity. Presently, a liter of diesel costs P34.
For fuel alone, the Napocor said they will spend P8.50 per kilowatt-hour.
“If we add other expenses like labor, our generation cost might reach more than P20 per kilowatt-hour,” Homena told Tupas.
Meanwhile, Transco officials promised to increase their transmission capabilities for Panay.
Mejorada said the Pinamucan plant is only a “band aid” solution to the growing power needs of Iloilo and other provinces.
“The best solution we can have is to put up baseload plants like coal-fired plants,” Mejorada said.
The national government spent more than P600million just to transfer the Pinamucan plant from Bataan to Iloilo.
Because of its weight and size, a specially-designed bridge was built just to transport the whole facility from the Naluoyan port in Dumangas to Dingle. (Published in the November 5-6, 2005 of The Guardian-Western Visayas)