Monday, February 27, 2006


Tupas: I will disobey Proclamation 1017

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GOVERNOR Niel Tupas is keen on defying Presidential Proclamation 1017 by allowing protest rallies at the Capitol grounds.
Tupas said President Gloria Arroyo can always put the country under a state of national emergency for economic reasons “but she cannot curtail the Bill of Rights.”
“Presidential Proclamation 1017, which put the country under a state of emergency, cannot justify a warrantless arrest of those suspected of waging a coup against her administration. It also cannot justify curtailment of our civil liberties because we are still covered by the Bill of Rights despite the proclamation,” Tupas said.
Also a lawyer, Tupas said a state of national emergency only pertains to economic concerns.
Citing the pronouncements of Proclamation 1017 critics, Tupas said Ms. Arroyo must first ask Congressional approval before declaring national emergency “just like what happened during the time of former president Fidel Ramos when we were saddled with power problems.”
“She even need not issue Proclamation 1017 because she has enough powers,” the governor said.
When asked about anti-Arroyo rallies at the capitol, Tupas said he will allow cause-oriented groups “to release their tensions against the government.”
“If I allowed these groups to lambast me in my own backyard before, why not now? Their rights are still intact. Even Mayors Rudy Duterte of Davao City and Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City allowed rallies in their jurisdictions,” Tupas said.
Right after issuing Proclamation 1017, the President suspended all rally permits and ordered the PNP to disperse all protest actions around the country.
Even the media was not spared with the PNP raid on the editorial office of the Daily Tribune in Manila. PNP chief Arturo Lomibao said he will recommend to the President the taking over of the operations of the Daily Tribune.
Earlier Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Iloilo chapter president Hans Sayno said Proclamation 1017 is martial law.
“The government is just too shy to call it martial law. When the government starts to censor the media and to arrest people without warrant, that is martial law already,” Sayno said.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said he fears that a prolonged state of national emergency will result to grave abuses of human rights.
Lagdameo also called Proclamation 1017 an overreaction on the part of the President. (Published in The Guardian-Iloilo City February 28, 2006)

Protesting Marines officer an Ilonggo

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ONE of the Marine officers who figured in the standoff at Fort Bonifacio Sunday evening is a native of San Joaquin, Iloilo.
In fact, Lt. Colonel Archie Segumalian, who led a platoon of heavily-armed Marine soldiers into their headquarters at Fort Bonifacio, is a cousin of San Joaquin Mayor Ninfa Garin.
Segumalian, 52, is the third of ten children born to Casiano Segumalian and the former Altagracia Sta. Cruz who is an aunt of Mayor Garin.
Segumalian finished his elementary education at the Cataan Elementary School in San Joaquin and high school at the former Lapuz Norte High School (now Jalandoni National High School).
He earned his degree in Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iloilo but was unable to take the board exams due to hearing problems.
He later joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps with the rank Provisionary 2nd Lieutenant.
Segumalian entered the Marines after passing its qualifying exams and immediately saw action in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu. His exploits in Mindanao led to his promotion to lieutenant colonel and designation as commander of the Marine brigade in Lanao Del Norte.
Segumalian was one of the officers who joined Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin in protesting the relief of Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda.
Querubin even asked protection from civilians for their cause which led to a three-hour standoff at Fort Bonifacio.
The standoff ended when newly-installed Marines commandant Brigadier-General Nelson Allaga asserted his command over Querubin and his subordinates. (With reports from Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo)
(Published in The Guardian-Iloilo City February 28, 2006)


IBP, CBCP lambast state of national emergency

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

President Gloria Arroyo’s Proclamation 1017 which put the country under a state of national emergency is martial law, no more, no less
This was the personal view of Atty. Hans Sayno, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Iloilo Chapter, as regards the controversial edict Ms. Arroyo issues last week following coup jitters in Metro Manila.
Sayno said the President’s use of the military “to prevent or suppress rebellion” as commander-in-chief of the AFP is a declaration of martial law.
“This is martial law because the President called on the AFP to quell the supposed coup plot. They only used the term state of national emergency because the constitution set many limitations in the declaring a martial law,” Sayno said.
Among the limitations for the declaration of a martial law, Sayno said, is for the President to ask Congressional approval and to report within 48 hours the justification and conditions of the country under martial rule.
“But three days after, President Arroyo has yet to report to Congress why she mobilized the military which a characteristic of martial law,” Sayno added.
The IBP chief said a state of national emergency can only be declared for economic reasons where the President is authorized to take over public utilities to protect public welfare.
Threats of physical takeover against media outlets that report “critical and seditious” events and information are also a form of overkill and overreaction on the part of the administration.
“Even if martial law is declared, the Constitution still guarantees that civil liberties will remain intact – the media will continue to report and people can still express their grievances in a peaceful manner,” Sayno said.
Sayno said various sectors will question Proclamation 1017 before the Supreme Court today.
Jaro Archbishop and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Angel Lagdameo said Presidential Proclamation 1017 is “an overkill and an overreaction” on the part of the President.
Lagdameo said the state of national emergency may lead to serious violations of human rights and eventually plunge the country into martial law.
Lagdameo said he urged all Filipinos to “pray so that the state of national emergency will not last long.”
The CBCP head also reminded Ms. Arroyo that former president Cory Aquino did not put the country under a state of national emergency despite the series of coup attempts against the latter’s administration.
Even former president Fidel Ramos called Proclamation No. 1017 an “overreaction” on the part of President Arroyo.
He said that his support for the Chief Executive is “waning.”
After the declaration of state of national emergency, several personalities have been arrested like retired general Ramon Montaño, party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran while Brigadier General Danilo Lim, commander of the Army's elite First Scout Ranger, is restricted at Camp Aguinaldo.
Even media outlets were warden against reporting “seditious” information and to observe balanced journalism.
As if to show their seriousness in padlocking “anti-Arroyo” media outlets, PNP chief Arturo Lomibao said he will recommend to the President the taking over of the operations of the Daily Tribune, a staunch critic of the present administration. (Published in The Guardian-Iloilo City February 27, 2006)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


It's possible says MGB, RDCC heads

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO provinces in Western Visayas, particularly a village in Antique, are prone to landslides, similar to what happened to Barangay Guinsaugan, St. Bernard in southern Leyte, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
MGB regional director Lee Van Juguan said Antique and Aklan are “moderately susceptible” to geo-hazards due to a fault line in northwestern Panay. He cited the towns of Hamtic, Antique and Nabas, Aklan as potential geo-hazard areas.
In the case of the Guinsaugan tragedy, Juguan said Leyte has always been considered “high risk” to landslides and mudslides as the Philippine fault line passes right through the middle of the province.
A fault is a crack in the crust of the earth and causes earthquakes and land movements.
“In Region 6, we also have areas that are prone to geo-hazards but if we compare them to Leyte, we have to consider the geologic setting. Our setting is different is not the same as that of southern Leyte because the Philippine fault passes through the province,” Juguan said.
The MGB chief said the presence a fault line in a location affects the quality and stability of soil, rocks and even land formations such as mountains.
Constant movement in the earth’s crust result to loose and fractured rocks and land formations which get weaker during continuous rains, Juguan added.
“Fractured rocks cannot withstand continuous flow of water and eventually it will collapse. That’s what happened in Leyte. In fact the same event occurred in 2003,” Juguan said.
Other factors that can cause landslides are the slope or inclination of the area and type of soil and rock.
Even a thick forest cover is not a guarantee against landslides.
“There are areas in the country where a whole forest disappeared because of the avalanche. The roots of the trees cannot reach and hold the crust. If the area is porous, the trees cannot hold back soil from sliding onto the plain,” Juguan said.
Juguan said there are signs which may serve as warning of an impending landslide such as soil creeping or mini-avalanches.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 6 director Rosario Cabrera said about 23.49 percent of Region 6 is highly susceptible to avalanches.
Based on the OCD landslide susceptibility map, 39.12 percent of the region is classified as non to very low susceptibility areas while medium susceptibility areas cover about 28.32 percent.
Cabrera, who is also the director of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), was concerned with Barangay Pasu-Jungao in Hamtic which experienced several landslides since the 60s.
An estimated 70 hectares of soil has slid to the lower portion of Pasu-Jungao as a result of the avalanches. The latest recorded landslide at the said village was in 2004.
Although Pasu-Jungao is sparsely populated, Cabrera said a major avalanche will affect 11,000 people from 11 surrounding villages.
But the RDCC chief said they are constantly preparing for any eventuality and prevent the Guinsaugan tragedy.
“In the case of Pasu-Jungao, the Antique Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, which was hailed as one of the best DCCs in the country in 2004, is capable of responding to a landslide. We have already evacuated the residents Pasu-Jungao aside from information dissemination campaign,” Cabrera said.
The impending La Niña phenomenon is also a cause of concern for the RDCC and the MGB. But Juguan said Western Visayas will only experience a weak La Niña.
The MGB will also conduct examinations on several towns near the mountain range of central Panay to determine if the area is prone to geo-hazards. (Published in The Gaurdian February 22, 2006)

Doctors rap hospital chief for negligence

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 20 doctors at the Iloilo Provincial Hospital (IPH) at Pototan, Iloilo complained with Governor Niel Tupas the state of neglect of the hospital and alleged inefficiency of their medical chief.
In a letter complaint, the 24 doctors asked Tupas to investigate Dr. Noel Icamina, IPH chief, for alleged mismanagement.
The complainants said that the hospital pharmacy lacks medicines forcing patients to go to private drug stores. They also slammed the lack of X-ray films which entailed additional cost for the patients.
Even the laboratory is short of chemicals and equipment for basic tests. The complainants also pointed to the substandard operating room (OR) which was repaired last year using of coco lumber. Aside from being substandard, the OR also lacked anesthesia and facilities.
The doctors also complained that they were evicted from their quarters and transferred to a cramped and hot room. Casual nurses also bore the brunt of hospital work as the nurse-to-population ratio is 1:60.
Even the brand new van which was intended as ambulance became Icamina’s personal vehicle. While they lacked facilities and medicines, Icamina allegedly bought a chandelier which he installed at the hospital lobby.
“It seems that Big Brother has neglected us,” the complainants said.
Yesterday, a fact-finding committee went to IPH to validate the complaints against Icamina. The five-man team is composed of representatives from the Provincial Health Office, Provincial Legal Office, Accounting Office and the Human Resource Management Office.
The team is expected to submit its findings within this week.
The Guardian tried to get Icamina’s side but to no avail. (Published in The Gaurdian February 22, 2006)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


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)