City cop coddling cattle-rustlers?
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
A POLICE officer in Iloilo City is allegedly protecting Ramon Chang, the alleged leader of a cattle-rustling syndicate busted in Guimbal, Iloilo last week.
An intelligence officer from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) who requested anonymity claimed that a fellow officer with the rank of SPO1 is coddling Chang’s group.
“Based on intelligence reports, we have heard that Chang has a police protector,” the source said.
But he declined to name police officer pending further validation of the reports.
The source further claimed that Chang may have been getting information from his alleged protector on police operations against the syndicate.
“We have been having a hard time tracking down Chang’s group because they change their modus operandi and base of operations from time to time,” the source added.
Chang along with Arnulfo Pacete, Jikiriz Enojas and Redgie Magdato were caught stealing a cow at Barangay Balantad, Guimbal Monday last week.
The police filed criminal charges against Chang’s group for violation of Presidential Decree No. 533 (Anti-Cattle Rustling Law) and illegal possession of firearms but the suspects managed to post bail for their temporary freedom Friday.
Based on ICPO intelligence reports, Chang allegedly slaughtered stolen cattle at Barangays Guzman-Jesena and Pali in Mandurriao, Arevalo district and Zarraga and Oton towns.
The “hot meat” is then diverted to four meat traders at Jaro Big Market and Mandurriao Market, the intelligence source added.
But Jury Sadiong, market in-charge of Mandurriao, is clueless on the entry of “hot meat” in his jurisdiction.
Sadiong said meat products usually arrive at the market 3am while he reports to office at 8am. Instead, Sadiong pointed to a certain Peter Escarilla, a member of the Iloilo City Task Force Hot Meat, as the one responsible for checking the entry of meat from stolen cattle.
Sadiong said Escarilla has not reported to him about hot meat being sold at the Mandurriao market.
But Sadiong admitted that some traders might be mixing hot meat with legitimate meat products. He also admitted that meat from a cow stolen from Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao was recovered from traders Ted Jor and Edwin Velez.
Jor is said to be Sadiong’s relative. (Published in The Guardian Feb 21, 2006)
Despite the tragedy, residents of Ma. Cristina smile as they scour for valuables among the rubbles.
Jaro village a fire hazard, says BFP
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
BARANGAY Ma. Cristina in Jaro, Iloilo City is a fire prone-area, according to the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP).
BFP personnel who responded to the Sunday evening fire, which gobbled 23 houses in the said village and nearby Barangay Simon Ledesma, said they had a hard time putting off the blaze because the houses were close to each other.
Most of the houses were also made of light materials which caused the fire to spread quickly.
The firefighters also had to negotiate narrow streets leading to the fire scene. The situation became worse as kibitzers who congested the area.
Ma. Cristina Punong Barangay Guillermo Dela Cruz admitted that his village is indeed prone to fire. He also observed that strong winds fanned the blaze to bigger proportions.
As of now, BFP arson investigators have yet to determine the actual cause of the fire although Pastor Ricardo Duran admitted that sparks from his house’s electrical lines may have triggered the blaze.
Latest figures from Kagawad Cherry Lebrillo of Ma. Cristina showed a total of 23 houses totally burned leaving 169 persons from 30 families homeless. She estimated the damage between P15million to P20million “but this is just our unofficial estimate.”
However, BFP investigators made a lower estimate at P5million.
Duran said he lost P140,000 cash to the fire “but I am thankful that we survived.”
Many of the victims who are now staying at the Iloilo Baptist Center gymnasium also failed to save their personal belongings from the conflagration except for the clothes they wore on the day of the incident.
Janet Espiritu, whose house was totally burdened, said the blaze quickly spread leaving her no time to save her belongings.
“We just saved our ourselves and left everything in the house,” Espiritu said.
Lebrillo said the victims need clothes and blanket aside from food which the Iloilo City Social Welfare and Development Office distribute right after the fire.
But several victims also criticized the BFP for its late response to the incident. Although the Jaro BFP was first to arrive at the fire area, firefighting units from other districts came 15-30 minutes later.
But Iloilo City Fire Marshal Nilo Pacifico denied the yarn saying they arrived at the scene two minutes after the residents informed them of the blaze.
“We positioned our firetrucks at interior part of Barangay Ma. Cristina because that is the area where the fire erupted. That is the reason why the residents at Barangay Simon Leadsman did not see us,” Pacifico said.
Pacifico said the close proximity of the houses caused the fire to spread quickly. He also denied that they ran out of water because volunteer fire brigades with water tankers also helped put out the blaze.
The firefighters, particularly those from LaPaz and Molo areas instead blamed the heavy traffic at the Jaro plaza and Washington Street due to public and private vehicles parking on both sides of the road.
Land Transportation Office deputy regional head Gerard Camiña said they will entertain complaints from the BFP against motorists who showed no consideration during the fire.
Camiña said a motorist can be held liable if they delay emergency teams such as firefighters and hospital ambulances from performing their tasks.
The BFP personnel said they saw no traffic personnel manning the plaza area during the fire which caused traffic to bottle neck.
Mayor Jerry Treñas said he will investigate what happened to the traffic personnel assigned at the area.
Treñas admitted that there was poor crowd control at the fire scene which hampered the responding firefighters. (Published in The Guardian Feb 21, 2006)