Thursday, July 13, 2006

"No room for death squads"

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Acenas hits Xavier over Carp failure

COUNCILOR Ian Caesar Acenas has blamed the Jesuit-run Xavier University for the failure of the government to give farmers some 300 hectares under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

The 300 hectares are part of 1,968.75-hectare government property that extends from Upper Tablon to Puerto. The property is presently being used by Ramcar as a ranch under the pasture lease agreement. Local officials said Ramcar’s lease agreement has already expired.

Acenas said the government could have long given the 300 hectares to the city’s farmers had it not been for Xavier’s opposition.

Of the 300 hectares, Xavier is reportedly claiming ownership of 109 hectares.

Acenas said Xavier even went to the extent of seeking a court order to stop the government from giving the land to impoverished farmers.

Acenas pointed to Xavier as the cause of the delay after Councilor Reynaldo Advincula raised a question on the status of 300-hectare agricultural land that was supposedly set aside from the 1,968.75-hectare government property.

Acenas said he could not understand why Xavier was forcing the issue when several decisions favored the farmers. He said even the environment department favored the farmers.

Meanwhile, Councilor Advincula accused Ramcar of ‘‘overstaying’’ in the property. He said Ramcar has applied for the renewal of its lease agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for another 25 years.

Advincula said he feared Ramcar might seek ownership of the land.

"Twenty-five years are enough, no need for an extension," Advincula said.

He called on Ramcar to yield to the city’s poor farmers.

City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Cenro) Ronald Gadut said Ramcar’s lease agreement allowed it to have control over 1,968.75 hectares. Some 1,517.75 hectares of this property is located in Cagayan de Oro while the remaining 451 hectares are situated in neighboring Bukidnon.

"Ramcar did not violate any law," said Gadut.

Ramcar has been leasing the land since 1984.

But Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said the Ramcar could be held liable for not giving the land up.

Nacaya said the city council might be forced to declare Ramcar’s owners persona non grata.

That can be read at Gold Star Daily

The new PHP 5.00 bill


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ocon blows whistle on 11 consultancy deals

OPPOSITION Councilor Zaldy Ocon yesterday accused the Emano administration of wasting public funds to pay 11 ‘‘consultants.’’

Ocon blew the whistle after the PaDayon Pilipino-dominated city council approved on Monday Ordinance no. 2006-251 that renewed city hall’s 11 consultancy contracts.

The consultants have been receiving fees ranging from P15 thousand to P20 thousand a month.

At P15 thousand each for the 11 consultants, city hall has been spending P165 thousand a month.

The ordinance renewed the contracts from July 1 to December 31. The consultants are lawyers Noel Guibone, Ramon Tabor, Reynaldo Llego, Pureza Ramos, President Elipe, Virginia Plaza, Marvin Pacheco, Armando Pomar, Dulcesimo Ytem, Cipriano Paasa and Engr. Jose Belen.

Four of the consultants––Tabor, Ramos, Elipe and Ytem––used to serve as elected councilors of the city.

Aside from Guibone and Tabor who have been serving as ‘‘overseers’’ of the City Economic Enterprise Department (CEED) and the Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA), respectively, there is no immediate and clear explanation for the renewal of the contracts of the other consultants. Neither are their functions clear.

Ocon questioned the passage of the ordinance, saying it did not specify the functions and duties of the consultants.

Ocon called on the Commission on Audit (COA) to start reviewing the approved ordinance.
"The COA should look into it (ordinance), even question it... City hall has no basis in getting consultants," Ocon said.

Ocon also urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to disallow the release of public funds to pay the consultancy fees.

Earlier, DBM declared the incentives for some 2,588 city hall employees illegal.

DBM director for northern Mindanao Romeo Melad, who disallowed city hall’s 2006 budget due to a projected overspending, said city hall should stop giving bonuses that were ‘‘without legal basis.’’

Ocon lashed at Mayor Vicente Emano for allegedly certifying the ordinance on consultancy contracts as urgent. He said there ordinance was approved without 1st and 2nd readings.

Ocon said Emano and his allies in the council violated Republic Act No. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act. He said this law applies to consultancy services.

Based on this law, he said, there should have been a public bidding to ensure competitive prices for consultancy services, and transparency.

"Why is it that Emano wants to spend another million for 11 people when the DBM disallowed the release of allowances to city hall employees?’’ asked Ocon. ‘‘The employees are complaining yet they (Emano and his allies) have been wasting public funds for consultancy services.’’

"What I know is that the consultants would be receiving P1 million, more or less, during the remaining months of this year," Ocon said. ‘‘I can’t say eaxactly when city hall started paying these consultants.’’

He added: "Some of the consultants are reportedly bedridden. How can some of them help city hall when they are already weak due to old age?"

Ocon said he stepped out of the council’s session hall to protest the ordinance’s passage.
"I didn’t want to be part of their corruption," Ocon said.

"That can be read at Gold Star Daily>Link

Bishops doubt impeach drive is way to truth; Nix poll scrapping, propose con-con

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Misamis Oriental to pursue alternative to GMA's All-Out War: A War to Win the Hearts of the People

PROVINCIAL CAPITOL, MISAMIS ORIENTAL - (MIKE BAÑOS / July 10) - Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar S. Moreno revealed in his 2nd State of the Province Address (SOPA) delivered yesterday before a special session of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Board that the province will be pursuing a different tack from the national government in its bid to address the communist insurgency.

"The national government has to adopt a policy it can implement to demonstrate its resolve and decisiveness to address the insurgency once and for all," Moreno said. "Being the national government, it has to implement a policy that is applicable in all areas."

"But here in Misamis Oriental we are adopting a strategy which we hope will prove better and that is to bring government closer to the people," Moreno stressed.

Moreno cited the "threshold case" of Sitio Lantad in Bgy. Kibanban in his hometown of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental as a showcase of how teamwork between various agencies of government and a resolute commitment to bring peace and prosperity to the people has successfully converted the former enclave and regional headquarters of the New People's Army (NPA) into a growing, vibrant community of forward looking and optimistic residents.

"It is easier to make war than peace," Moreno told media at a press conference following his 2 nd SOPA. "I hope we will exert every effort to achieve peace that is lasting, fulfilling and satisfying."

He also thanked Maj. General Cardozo Luna, 4th Infantry Diamond Division commanding general and the highest ranked military officer in the region, "for giving us the lead in local strategy and acknowledging the constitutional guarantee that civilian authority at all times remains supreme."

Moreno said the provincial government would be fighting a different kind of war. "It's a war to win the hearts of the people."

Two years ago, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also pushed for peace talks at the local level, ordering the implementation of the terms of a peace pact with a splinter rebel faction, the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade. However, the peace process with the RPA-ABB and another splinter group in Northern Mindanao, the Rebolusyonarying Patrido ng Mamamayang Pilipino (RPMM) have continued.

National Democratic Front (political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines) negotiating panel chairman Luis Jalandoni called for renewed peace talks July 5 after President Arroyo's declaration of an all-out war against the NPA last week. Arroyo released P1 billion war chest to finance the renewed campaign against the NPA.

The NDF, the political arm of the communist insurgents which groups the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army, and 13 other underground organizations, pulled out of the peace talks in August 2004.

"In repudiation of the regime's all-out war policy and the extra-judicial killings and involuntary disappearances of political and leftist activists, we call for the resumption of formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDF as soon as possible," Jalandoni said.
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KBP to Advincula: File plaint vs. Ocon

THE Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) called on Councilor Reynaldo Advincula to file a formal complaint against opposition councilor cum radio commentator Zaldy Ocon.

Jonas Bustamante, KBP chairperson for Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, said his group would look into Advincula’s complaint against Ocon only if he (Advincula) makes it official.

Advincula has accused Ocon of using his public affairs program at Radio Mindanao Network’s DxCC station to advance his political interests at the expense other city hall officials. He said Ocon cannot be a credible broadcaster because of his being a politician.

Advincula also appealed to KBP to punish Ocon for his alleged violations.
But Bustamante said Advincula should specify the issues he has against Ocon and file a formal complaint.

If Advincula files the complaint, he said he would forward it to the local KBP’s grievance committee chaired by veteran broadcaster Frank Mendez. He assured that KBP would act on any complaint against the councilor-broadcaster.

"We don’t tolerate our members who have conflicts of interest,’’ Bustamante said. But he said if a complaint is filed, Ocon would be given the opportunity to defend himself.

Bustamante said Ocon can be subjected to disciplinary actions if proven that he violated the KBP’s code for broadcasting.

"Truth won’t come out if there are conflicts of interest,’’ said Bustamante, adding a broadcaster cannot serve two masters at a time.

"That can be read at Gold Star Daily"

Maguindanao's bloody clashes traumatize villagers

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanaop (JOHN UNSON / July 9) - In armed conflicts, poor people become poorer and their hearts are scarred with wounds so difficult to heal.

More than 4,000 people are now languishing in evacuation sites in Maguindanao’s neighboring Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano and Datu Unsay towns, nowhere to return to since their houses have been razed in the violent skirmishes between Moro Islamic Liberation Front and local militia units.

The hostilities, sparked by the June 23 roadside bombing here which let seven people dead and nearly killed Maguindanao Gov. Datu Andal Ampatuan, also left many farming communities without power due to the destruction of P10.8 million worth of solar electrification facilities built by a non-government organization using foreign grants.

Ramon Santos, chairman of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, and his counterpart in the MILF, Von Al-Haq, the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, and the Department of Social Welfare in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, are now initiating extensive relief missions in the affected towns.

The ARMM’s social welfare secretary, Ruby Sahali-Tan, said with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than three-fourths of the 4,134 families have been provided with relief supplies.

“The evacuees still refuse to return to their communities. They are so traumatized and are so afraid of a repeat of the hostilities,” Sahali-Tan said.

ARMM Gov. Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, chairman of the regional peace and order council, said there is a need to deploy enough soldiers, as “peacekeepers” in the five war-devastated villages.

Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza, who has ministerial control over the government’s ceasefire committee, said the conflict here has scarred the hearts of the protagonists --- the rebels and the militia forces --- and the innocent civilians trapped in the crossfire.

“It is easy to rebuild houses, facets of government service, roads, but difficult to heal the wounds in the hearts of all the people affected by the conflict,” Dureza said. (JOHN UNSON)

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Mission Impossible Accomplished: Government Restored to Lantad, Misamis Oriental

SITIO LANTAD, BGY. KIBANBAN, BALINGASAG, MISAMIS ORIENTAL – (MIKE BAÑOS / July 10) - Nineteen years after reaching its nadir as the center of the communist insurgency in Northern Mindanao, government was officially restored to this enclave with the re-opening of the Kibanban-Lantad provincial road Saturday, July 8, 2006.

Spearheaded by Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, the inter-agency government task force returned in triumph aboard a 16-vehicle convoy to link up with elements of the Philippine Army's 8 th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Andrelino Colina which has earlier secured the sitio from the New People's Army latest effort to wrest it back.

"When I arrived here this morning, I shed tears of joy at the realization we have fulfilled our promise to you, and together we have accomplished what everybody said was impossible," an emotional but jubilant Moreno told a crowd of around 500 residents and visitors at simple rites to turn over a brand new multi purpose dryer and P30,000 worth of livelihood assistance to barangay officials led by Kibanban Bgy. Chairperson Adelina Santua.

The sitio was earlier identified by the Moreno administration as a high-profile target for development. "We focused on bringing government back to Lantad because it was the symbol of past neglect, the province's wealth in agriculture, especially abaca, and not the least, Lantad's role in history as the symbol of the communist insurgency," the governor told the Star.

In 1987, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army set up a shadow government in Lantad headed by "Mayor" Conrado Castillo. It became the NPA's Front Committee 4B, North Central Mindanao Command's guerrilla base which supplied logistics to communist guerillas in present day Northern Mindanao and the Caraga Region. All former government services were taken over by the rebels including health and education. A cooperative store was even set up to ostensibly serve the residents but in reality served as the logistics center for arms, ammunition and supplies for the rebels.

"We had up to 200 guerrillas training here in 1990," recalls Bgy. Kibanban Kagawad Bruno Lindahay, himself a former NPA guerrilla. "Our comrades would come down every week to buy around P30,000 worth of food and supplies from our cooperative store."

Lindahay, like 95 percent of Lantad's 400 residents, is a Higa-onon. The NPA used their native bushcraft and knowledge of the local terrain to effectively isolate Lantad from the rest of the province using indigenous booby traps such as the abo-abo, batik and gahong. They also used land mines making the enclave impregnable from military and police forces who had no recourse but to bomb and strafe the area from the air using MG-520 helicopter gunships, and the prop-driven T-33 "Tora-Tora" COIN aircraft and OV-10 Broncos.

The CPP-NPA functioned as the de facto government in Lantad from 1987-1990 and control of the area see-sawed back and forth between the NPA guerrillas and military troopers until late last year when the 8IB under Colina effectively wrenched control of the area from the insurgents.

Moreno, with Misamis Oriental Mayor's League Chairman and Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental Mayor Yevgeni Emano, first attempted to reach Lantad on foot during Holy Week in 2005. The Capitol team finally reached the enclave during the Lantad fiesta celebrating the feast of Sto. Niño in October 24-25, 2005 after which the decision was made to bring back government to the place through the restoration of the Kibanban-Lantad road.

During the team's latest visit previous early February 2006, , they had to trek the 11-kilometer stretch from Bgy. Kibanban's poblacion on foot and back due to inclement weather which turned the road into an impassable morass of mud.

"I promised you the next time I would come back, I would arrive here with no mud on my shoes," Moreno recalled. "I myself did not expect this would be realized so soon and I share this moment of victory of our commitment, unity and teamwork as members of the team which brought back government to Lantad."

Provincial Board Member James Caiña, chairman of the Misamis Oriental Infrastructure Committee, said he fielded practically the entire complement of the Provincial Engineer's Office under Engr. Roland Pacuribot to restore the 18-kilometer road from Kibanban to Lantad.

"I consider this project only 50 percent finished since we still have to upgrade it to provincial road standards of 6-8 meters from its present 4-5 meters," Caina, known as "Mr. Infrastructure" to his fellow board members and capitol department head said. "So far, we have spent some PhP1.5 million in fuel and other supplies, and quarried the gravel and sand we needed from the creeks below."

Although they have already fielded three dump trucks, a payloader, a road roller and a road grader in addition to the original bulldozer deployed earlier, Pacuribot admitted their work has often been delayed by the weather since it usually starts raining in the afternoon in Lantad, situated some 890 meters above sea level.

Already, Kibanban Bgy. Chair Adelina Santua said motorcycles for hire, know locally as habal-habal , have started plying the road since May. A one way trip from the national highway in Balingasag costs P150 and takes less than two hours, though residents have petitioned operators to bring it down to P70-100 since the road is constantly being improved. Previously, it took residents a three hour walk to reach the poblacion of Bgy. Kibanban, some 11 kms. away and the only means of transporting their farm produce was on horseback, which cost P120 and took 2-3 hours.

"Since the road was restored in May 2006, our people have been encouraged to plant more coffee, banana, abaca and corn," Lindahay said. "Our greatest need now is for electricity but we are hesitant to approach Gov. Moreno for this since he has already done so much for us and also needs to take care of other areas in the province."

Moreno concurs there's not time for resting on their laurels. "Caina's army is here in tandem with Colina's army," he said. "This is a teamwork I hope will be replicated in other areas of the province; a partnership that can become a showcase for others to follow. It is difficult to attain peace through peaceful means, but it is more rewarding."

As he addresses the capitol hierarchy Monday morning in his annual State of the Province Address, Moreno has a showcase that not only Misamis Oriental, but other similarly situated sitios and barangays all over the country can emulate as well.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Davao-born former adult film star throws hat into Nevada politics

Davao-born Melody Damayo a.k.a. Mimi Miyagi shows her stuff. (


Sunday, July 09, 2006

40 city hall workers to lose houses; Ocon faults Dongkoy

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - (Cagayan de Oro Journal / July 8) - SOME 40 city hall employees would likely lose their houses for good due to the alleged failure of the local government to remit payments made for their loans to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

The houses would be auctioned off at the Hall of Justice on Aug. 10 after the GSIS subjected the properties to foreclosure.

Opposition Councilor Zaldy Ocon yesterday sought an investigation, saying he has reasons to believe that the legal proceedings were initiated by GSIS, the creditor, to repossess the properties because the employees’ loans were in default.

Ocon said he would raise the matter during the city council’s session next week.
Lino Daral, the city treasurer, said he also received a complaint from a group of employees. However, he denied it was city hall’s fault.

Daral said the foreclosed properties were that of city hall employees’ who opted to directly pay GSIS. He said their payments to GSIS were not automatically deducted by city hall.

"We (councilors) should look into this," said Ocon, adding that city hall officials responsible should be punished.

Ocon showed a letter from a group of city hall employees that complained about the failure of the local government to remit their payments to the GSIS. It blamed the foreclosure on city hall.

The group alleged that this has been going on for two years already.
Based on the complaint, Ocon said surcharges and penalties accumulated, and the debts of some employees reached to some P400 thousand each apparently as a result of the non-remittances.
Many of the foreclosed properties are in Canitoan, according to Ocon.

Ocon opted not to disclose the identities of the employees, saying they feared the mayor and his subordinates would get back at them for going public with their complaint.

Ocon said he would try to get evidence of the non-remittances including receipts and other related documents.

"Why is it that city hall is not remitting the payments to GSIS? How is this possible when the payments made by the employees for their loans were automatically deducted?’’ asked Ocon.
He said the unremitted payments could easily amount to millions of pesos.

A GSIS executive earlier confirmed to this paper that city hall has not been remitting contributions and payments for loans on time. The official said city hall was also into ‘‘underremittance’’––meaning, payments are not made in full.

Ocon has been accusing the Emano administration of corruption. Over DxCC where Ocon is a commentator, the opposition councilor has repeatedly demanded that Mayor Emano show the public a financial statement.

Ocon said he suspected city hall was having problems with its cash flow because of alleged corruption.

‘‘Our funds are drained out,’’ he said. ‘‘The GSIS is not at fault and neither is it the fault of the employees. It’s the fault of the Emano administration.’’

"that can be read at Gold Star Daily"