Saturday, July 18, 2009

Only court-named doc should see if Legacy’s owner is fit or not: Rufus

CAGAYAN de Oro City (BONG FABE / Cagayan Journal /July 18, 2009) - ONLY a doctor appointed by a court where he is facing charges should determine whether Legacy Group’s Celso delos Angeles is fit to stand trial.

Nobody else––not the police or even his doctor––should determine whether he is healthy enough to face his accusers, said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro.

Rodriguez, however, said if the court-appointed doctor finds that delos Angeles is not fit enough to stand trial, then “we should not drag him down to Cagayan de Oro for humanitarian reasons.”

“Let him stay and recuperate in the hospital. And when he is fit and has recovered from his sickness, then that’s the time he should face his accusers in a trial. But for now, the RTC in Cagayan de Oro should appoint a doctor to really see to it that he really is sick and cannot stand trial at this time,” said Rodriguez.

Delos Angeles was arrested Monday afternoon at the St. Luke’s Hospital by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) over a charge of syndicated estafa filed by Legacy Group customers here.

Delos Angeles, the mayor of
Santo Domingo, Albay, is the owner of Legacy, which authorities said was behind one of the country’s biggest pyramiding scams that victimized thousands of people.

His arrest came just hours after the RTC Branch 17, 24 and 41 here issued the warrants for the arrest of delos Angeles and other local respondents last Monday.

The courts also recommended no bail for delos Angeles.

Legacy reportedly owes customers at least P14.4 billion, half of which is due to customers who have pre-need claims that amounted to P7 billion.

As of December 2008, Legacy sold 14,579 policies––3,585 for pension; 2,292 for education; and 3,702 for memorial.

Delos Angeles and other suspects are facing at least 31 cases of estafa here.

Of the 31 cases, 26 cases have already been resolved by the City Prosecutor’s Office, which issued the resolution for the issuance of arrest warrants against the accused.

Of the 26 cases resolved, three have already been issued warrants of arrest while the rest could not move on because of the failure of the complainants to pay the docket fee.


Link to Mindanao Gold Star Daily

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The State of the Bakwits (S.O.B.), a joint coverage of Mindanao and Manila journalists held on June 29 to July 1, 2009 was intended to focus public attention on a humanitarian tragedy that we believe has not been given the attention it deserves.

Coming from different media organizations in Mindanao and Manila, we issue this collective statement in view of the disturbing checkpoint incident on June 30 and certain pronouncements of the 6th

Infantry Division’s spokesperson about the organizers and participating journalists.

The coverage was prompted by persistent and alarming reports of alleged human rights violations like food blockades, illegal arrests, disappearances and summary executions; and that non-government and humanitarian organizations, even media, were also reportedly being prohibited from going to evacuation centers presumably to protect them from hostilities between government troops and rebel forces.

We came to validate these reports and to get a solid grasp of the actual situation in the evacuation centers so that concerned authorities will be able to appreciate more fully, and respond appropriately to, the complex problem of internal displacement in Maguindanao.

We found some of the answers even before reaching the evacuation centers.

On Tuesday, June 30, as we were proceeding to the evacuation sites in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, soldiers of the Army's 46th Infantry Battalion stopped us along the Cotabato-General Santos highway in Barangay Bagan, Guindulungan.

Those in the lead car of our nine-vehicle convoy were asked if we were from the media. Not one of the soldiers could tell us why we were being held. All they could say was we would be “released” when they receive “clearance” from Colonel Medardo Geslani, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade.

When contacted within the first five minutes of what turned out to be a 46-minute standoff, Geslani’s superior, Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division, said he would check with Geslani. Cayton said he was informed by Geslani that he ordered the journalists stopped because of ongoing "clearing operations" to ensure our safety from roadside bombs.

A day earlier, an improvised explosive device (IED) blew off in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, killing two persons and injuring eight others.

The checkpoint personnel said nothing about “clearing operations.” Curiously, it was just the media vehicles that were stopped at the checkpoint.

If, indeed, there were IEDs on the roadside, why should media be given ‘preferential protection’?

And if, indeed, security was the main consideration, they could have notified us even before we had left Cotabato City for Maguindanao since the organizers had been coordinating with the military panel of resource persons who confirmed participation in the subsequent forum in the afternoon of June 30.

We also would like to correct pronouncements made by the spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce, who sent out text messages to reporters claiming that the journalists who were participating in the State of the Bakwits coverage were given “pocket money” by one of the organizations involved, which he alleged was connected to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The invitation clearly states who the organizers are.

Efforts to discredit our coverage by attempting to discredit the organizing groups will not be viewed kindly by the public especially since the case of the bakwits is a matter of national and international interest. For did we not rank first among all countries for having the “biggest new displacement in the world,” contributing 600,000 to the 4.2 million total of newly displaced in 2008, according to the April 2009 report of Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre?

We assert that trying to mask the magnitude of this crisis by stifling the free flow of information and the people's right to know can only worsen the current problem.

We agree with, and appreciate the statements of both the government and MILF peace panels during separate interactions with us, that the peace process should be accompanied by transparency.

We also believe that the achievement of a just and lasting negotiated resolution to the generations-old conflict besetting the Bangsamoro is possible only when all stakeholders are granted adequate access to information about and participation in the peace process.

This is why we are saddened that there remain elements of government who are trying to curtail access to information about the problems plaguing the Bangsamoro and the roots of the age-old conflict that continues to cause so much suffering, as well as vilify those who seek to uncover the truth surrounding the situation and explain these to the people.

This much we have learned from our experience as a people who lived through and eventually overcame 14 years of dictatorship: you can neither hide the truth forever nor allow it to be hidden.



Mindanao ComStrat and Policy Alternatives






Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD)


Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project


National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)


The Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON)



Secretariat, SOB Coverage Mission

Mobile phone 09209546793


Ben balce's channel/YouTube

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rice trader ‘hangs’ self in Corrales restaurant

CAGAYAN de Oro City (Cagayan Journal / Ben Balce) - A RICE trader allegedly hanged himself using a belt in a restaurant here at dawn yesterday.

Benito Magadan, 47, was found at around 7 am hanging lifeless in the toilet of OIC restaurant along Corrales St., this city.

The victim’s body was seen with a belt around his neck; the belt was attached to a door knob.

“He was already cold when he was found. It looks like he used his belt to kill himself,” said Insp. Joe Martin, chief of the local Scene of Crime Operatives.

Martin said there were no bruises or any other sign of foul play. But he said Magadan’s body would be autopsied.

The reason for the alleged suicide is unclear at presstime but there were unconfirmed reports that Magadan recently lost P300 thousand to a girlfriend who left him.

Magadan’s wife Myrna told radio station DxIF that she and Benito decided to separate about a year

Jhun Ebarle, owner of a house where Magadan had rented a room, said the rice trader left at around 4 am. He said the alleged suicide had financial problems.


Monday, July 13, 2009


Senator Mar Roxas presses President Arroyo to sign the executive order imposing a maximum retail price (MRP) on the 22 most essential medicines in compliance with the Cheaper Medicines Law pending in her desk since June 16. Roxas alleged a presidential adviser is conspiring with multinational pharmaceutical companies to sabotage the signing of the executive order because it would halve prices of these medicines immediately.



Office of Senator Mar Roxas

Suite 512 GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Pasay City

Please refer to:

Ms. Jenny Bugarin

Tel. 832-82-80 /+63920-950-6140

The conspirators, who sought to postpone through a Palace meeting, the signing of the executive order on the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) for 22 essential medicines, boycotted the joint congressional hearing Monday.

This prompted congressional leaders, led by Quality Affordable Medicines Oversight Committee Co-Chair Senator Mar Roxas, to question what seems to be Malacañang’s revival of the curse of Executive Order No. 464, which he described as an unconstitutional instrument of government opacity.

‘Manigas kayo!’ Iyan ang sinasabi sa atin ng Malakanyang. Kakausapin namin kahit na sino, makikipag-usap kami kahit laban pa ito sa interest ng taumbayan.

Inabandona na talaga nila ang kapakanan ng taumbayan, (‘Freeze to death!’ This is what Malacañang is telling us: We will talk with whoever we want to talk to, we will deal with anyone, even if such would compromise public interest),” an irked Roxas blurted out during the oversight committee hearing yesterday into the July 8 ‘confidential’ meeting between President Arroyo and giant pharmaceutical firms in the country.

“Pinawalang-bisa na ng Korte Suprema itong EO 464 na ito. Ano’t hanggang ngayon ay ipinipilit pa rin ito ng Malakanyang? Talaga bang wala ng respeto ang gobyernong ito sa ating mga batas? (The Supreme Court has declared EO 464 as unconstitutional. Why then is Malacañang insisting on invoking it again? Does government no longer respect existing laws?),” he stressed.

“Bakit wala sila para sabihin ang nangyari sa meeting noong isang linggo? May hokus-pokus bang pinag-usapan? Under-the-table deals? Nasaan na ang public accountability? Public office is a public trust. Ito ‘yung sinumpaan nina Secretary Duque at Secretary Favila—naniniwala pa ba sila dito? (Why are they not here to report on the meeting that transpired last week? Were there any under-the-table deals discussed? Where is the principle of public accountability in all this? Public office is a public trust. Do Secretary Duque and Secretary Favila still believe in this?),” the Liberal Party President asked.

His outburst came after Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Trade Secretary Peter Favila did not appear in Monday’s hearing, sending word through DOH Head Executive Assistant Dr. Robert So that they had received verbal instructions not to attend the hearing until they get clearance from Malacañang.

So claimed Duque was already on his way to the Senate when he got the call. Even DOH Undersecretary Alexander Padilla, who was seen at the Senate before the hearing started, left without any word.

There were neither representatives from the office of President Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Lagonera, who have been invited to the hearing. Ermita instead sent a letter claiming that “there was no sufficient time” for them to “adequately and properly” prepare for the hearing.

Industry giant Pfizer Philippines also did not send a representative, claiming that Pfizer managers asked to attend have prior commitments and out-of-town trips that could not be rescheduled.

Testimonies given during the oversight hearing indicated the July 8 meeting was “organized” by Pfizer. There was also a revelation that a meeting between industry players and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was also facilitated by Pfizer last July 2.

“They insist on denying any wrongdoing in the media, but I challenge them to do this under oath. Dito tayo mag-usap. (Let us talk here.) Come here and tell the truth.

Ano ba ang mas mahalaga sa inyo—buhay ng tao, na maililigtas sana ng mas murang gamot, o ‘yung posisyon ninyo sa gobyerno? (Which is more important to you? People’s lives, which can be saved with cheaper medicines, or your positions in government?)” he added.

He challenged: “Mrs. President, kung wala ka namang itinatago, sabihin mo sa Gabinete mo, pumunta dito. (If you have nothing to hide, tell your Cabinet men to come here). Come here and tell the truth.”