Saturday, October 15, 2011

Philippine Irrigation Fees

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Antonio S. Nangel has heeded requests of local officials as well as farmers groups to exempt local farmers, whose agricultural lands had been ravaged recently by twin typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel," from paying irrigation service fees (ISF) this current cropping season.

Nangel said that there were already existing policies in place to exempt farm tillers from paying their ISFs during force majeure situations such as typhoons.

"Of course, we support their request from exemption from payment of the ISF," he said.

Nangel has direcyed Reynaldo Puno and Josephine Salazar, outgoing and incoming operations manager, respectively, of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (UPRIIS), the operator of the Pantabangan Dam, to validate the damage assessment report on ricelands in the province following the devastation wrought by typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" two weeks ago.

Immediately after the devastation caused by the twin typhoons, local officials led by Gov. Aurelio Umali, Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines led by its president, Peñaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, asked NIA not to collect ISFs from farmers following the trail of destruction left by the twin typhoons in the province where at least P2 billion worth of palay was damaged.

Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines Gives Help

In line with its poverty and disaster alleviation missions, Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines has extended relief assistance to 114 families in Navotas severely affected by the floods and rains spawned typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" last month.

The relief operation took place at a cover court near Tanza National High School in Barangay Tanza last week.

Each of the 114 families relief package contained a thermal blanket, a bag of clothes, a kettle, and a pack of biscuits.

The above-mentioned families were rendered homeless when waist-to-shoulder deep floods struck Tanza and 13 other barangays of Navotas.

Hospital Scandal in Zamboanga

The Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) has filed cases of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition and illegal discharge of firearm against a medical program coordinator of a nursing school in this city.

Senior Insp. Joel Tuttuh, ZCPO's Criminal Investigation and Detective Management (CIDM) chief, said facing charges before the City Prosecutor's Office is Jeffrey Aniñon, 34, head of the National Service Training Program of the Zamboanga Brent Hospital and Colleges located along R.T. Lim Boulevard here.

Tuttuh said the cases against Aniñon stemmed from the recovery of unlicensed caliber .357 Magnum revolver loaded with five ammunition and spent shell following an incident of accidental firing that injured a 20-year-old nursing student last Tuesday inside the premises of the hospital-school.

Tuttuh said that a case for illegal discharge of firearm was included since there was a victim, Faith Ann Vasquez, a 3rd year student who was wounded on her left hand.

Brahminy kite or red-back sea eagle Rescued

Two students from the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College (ZCSPC) recently found what appeared to be a sickly brahminy kite or red-back sea eagle, locally known as "gabilan," and turned over it to Mayor Celso Lobregat.

Lobregat subsequently turned over the medium-sized bird of prey to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Section (PAWS) under the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO)-Zamboanga City for proper care and disposition.

ZCSPC students Benrasid Sarian and Jemar Pula, together with Assistant Professor Randolf Canto, brought the bird to Lobregat after they retrieved it from the roof of the school's covered court.

The two students said the bird accidentally fell on the roof of the school's multi-purpose covered court at around 10:30 Thursday morning.

Luis Lozano of the PAWS said the brahminy kite specie was considered threatened or vulnerable to being endangered.

The mature brahminy kite will be later released to its natural habitat after observation and care on its physical condition at the Pasonanca watershed.

Important maritime conventions and rules

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) in London is urging all seafaring countries in the world to immediately comply with important maritime conventions and rules so that the smooth operation of the shipping and manning industry will not be impeded in anyway.

The conventions which ICS believes that more governments should ratify as a matter of priority include International Maritime Organization (IMO) Ballast Water Management Water Convention, IMO Ship Recycling Convention, IMO MARPOL Annex VI - Prevention of Atmospheric Pollution, and ILO Maritime Labor Convention ICS expresses satisfaction with the recent entry into force of the IMO Anti-Fouling Systems (AFS) Convention and the IMO Bunker Spill Liability Convention.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe said that the above-mentioned conventions were crucial as they involve sensitive matters such as safety, environmental protection, liability and seafarers' working conditions apply to all ships in international trade and that the same laws apply to all parts of the voyage.

ICS represents 80 percent of the world's merchant fleet.

"A global industry requires global rules," he said.

Budget of Dagupan City

Mayor Benjamin S. Lim has submitted the proposed P581-million budget for next year for consideration by the Dagupan City Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP).

The annual budget was transmitted to Vice Mayor and presiding officer Belen Fernandez last October 5, earlier than the prescribed Oct. 16 deadline set under Section 318 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

Under the proposed budget, at least 40 percent will go to the general public services sector, 29 percent to the social services sector, 25 percent to the economic services sector, and six percent for other services.

Those under general public services are programs, projects, and activities on the enforcement of laws and ordinances, development planning, research and statistics, financial and fiscal administration, public and other internal affairs, public personnel development, maintenance of peace and order and public safety, the judiciary, register of deeds, administrative overhead, and the regulatory functions of the city.

Also included is P3.1 million that would be sliced from the 20 percent Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the city to fund development projects.

Space Week Celebration

Following the success of the Space Week Celebration here last Oct. 3 to 6 that marked the 50th year of man's conquest of outer space, a plan is afoot to hold the national Astronomy Celebration in Dagupan City sometime in February next year.

City Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez who co-hosted the Space Week Celebration along with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Fernandez-owned CSI Group of Companies, revealed that they are now discussing to bring the Astronomy Week celebration in Dagupan early next year.

Incorporated with the 2nd Dagupan Children's Congress, the Space Week Celebration marked the first historic foray of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into outer space.

Fernandez said that DOST is again negotiating to bring the Astronomy Week celebration after being encouraged by the huge participation of some 18,000 students from Dagupan, Baguio and Tarlac in the last Space Week celebration.

She said if the project pushes through, the Astronomy Week will feature an outdoor Space Camp to be joined by student participants who want to learn more about the science of astronomy.

Fernandez took the opportunity to thank the public and private schools, parents and teachers in Dagupan for making students and pupils participate in the last 2nd Children's Congress and Space Week Celebration that showcased robotics technology for the first time.

At the same time, she took the opportunity to announce the holding of the Sari-Sari Store Fair at her family-owned CSI Stadia from October 27 to 31 as livelihood and entrepreneurship activity for people of Dagupan, Pangasinan and Region 1.

The fair, to be joined by big suppliers from Manila as exhibitors, will also offer big discounts in the purchases of sari-sari store owners and buyers, especially workers in the government and private sectors.

Success of the first ever renal transplantation

Mayor Celso Lobregat has expressed jubilation over the success of the first ever renal transplantation held at the Western Mindanao Medical Center (WMMC) in this city stressing that it will further boost medical tourism in this part of the country.

Dr. Michael Abutazil, a nephrologist and team leader of the Kidney transplant team, together with the renal patient Rufo Paitan and the his donor Virgilio Solito paid a courtesy visit on Mayor Lobregat at City Hall Thursday afternoon to personally inform the Lobregat about the successful operation.

Paitan, who is a native of Calatunan, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, thanked the doctors and is recovering fast from the operation held last October 1.

The critical period has already lapsed and Paitan is back to his normal life but his condition will be under observation for the next few months.

Lobregat commended the kidney team composed of Doctors Abutazil, John Ahalajal (transplant surgeon), Jayson Sangkula (transplant surgeon), Paterno Cabrera III (surgeon for the donor), Henry Ratag (surgeon for the patient), Tatad Kalbit (urologist) and Albert Tan and Neil Gallenegro (anaesthesiologists) for the very good job.

Violation of fair trade law

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has filed charges for violation of fair trade law against 20 business establishments in this city, a DTI official said.

DTI provincial director Rolando Acuña said the charges were filed after the DTI enforcement team inspected different business establishments selling mandatory products, retailers dealing crash helmets, appliances and electrical products.

Among the violation committed by the business establishments were no business license, no price tag on commodity, holding sale promo without DTI permit, and no Import Commodity Clearance (ICC), Acuña said.

Acuña said the violators were undergoing mediation proceedings and given the opportunity to defend themselves before the DTI.

He said the violators would pay a penalty of P20,000 each and comply with the requirements once the charges filed against them were resolved during the mediation process.

However, he said formal hearing of the cases of the violators would take place once it could not be resolved at the mediation process.

The inspection of establishments was in line with the observance of the Consumer Welfare Month, which is being observed every October.

Violations of senior citizens’ privilege

The Office of Senior Citizens Affair (OSCA) here has urged victims or any persons who have knowledge about violations of senior citizens' privilege to report them immediately.

OSCA Davao City spokesperson Luis Moran said the office has been receiving complaints from several senior citizens that they have not been afforded the benefits mandated by law.

Moran said the complaints vary from the 12 percent VAT value-added tax) exemption of senior citizens to the 20 percent discount in the food sector, drugstores, or public transportation, and other services.

He said OSCA has assured to provide assistance to aggrieved senior citizens.

There are also some complaints, particularly on business establishment, as to why some foreigners have senior citizens cards when they are non-Filipinos.

Moran said the Senior Citizen I.D. cards were issued by the previous OSCA head.

Land Conflict in the Philippines

Authorities hinted sibling rivalry over land partition caused the killing of two farmers and the wounding of another in a remote village in the hinterland town of Matalam in North Cotabato Wednesday.

Inspector Elias Colonia, Matalam municipal police chief, identified the dead as Ephraim Parreno, 36, and Junnifer Lumaga, 32, both residents of Barangay Sarayan, Matalam.

The injured victim was identified as Welchie Parreno who, according to staff of a hospital here where he is being treated, is in critical condition.

Colonia said deep-seated sibling conflict about vast portion of land in Barangay Sarayan caused the killings.

Citing initial investigations, Colonia said Ephraim Parreno and his brother Welchie, both armed with pistols, stormed the house of their brothers Norman and Mario Parreno to confront them on how a portion of a land their parents left should be divided.

The confrontation became bloody after both groups, all armed, exchanged fires.

A witness said Mario's life was saved by his brother-in-law Lumaga who died on the spot after he received all the bullets that should have been for the former.

Investigate Parents for Neglecting Kids

Instead of going after barangay peacekeepers allegedly whipping minors violating curfew hours to drive them home, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Davao should instead investigate their parents for placing their children at risk due to parental neglect.

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said it is the parents who should be blamed for neglecting their children by allowing them to roam the streets at night.

CHR Regional Director Alberto Sipaco said his agency would look into reports of minors being whipped, noting the act violated the human rights of the children.

A parent has filed charges against Bucana barangay captain Robert Olan-olan after barangay tanods allegedly whipped the complainant's minor son, while in the street past the curfew hours for children.

But Duterte said the treatment, reportedly carried out by a group tagged by media as the Latigo Gang, is doing good and should be appreciated by keeping the children from harm.

"You let young kids go around at night and either they steal, stab others, get hurt or even get killed. You want that to happen?" he said.

Help the government address the armed conflict problem

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has urged the residents here to help the government address the armed conflict problem in their area through capability building measures directed at uplifting the lives of the people.

DSWD Assistant Regional Director Priscilla N. Razon recently made the appeal on the people of Compostela during the opening of the Workshop for Area Coordinating Team and Municipal Coordinating Team of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (KALAHI-CIDSS PAMANA) project.

Razon said the coordination between the government and the people will pave the way for a better implementation of government programs in conflict-affected areas.

She also urged the participants to convey to the people the importance of implementing the PAMANA project, a KALAHI-CIDSS modality that aims to improve access of conflict-affected barangays (CABs) to quality basic social services and responsive, transparent and accountable local governments. The modality specifies that the focus of KALAHI-CIDSS is not only poverty alleviation but as an instrument in helping achieve peace in CABs.

Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)

Suspected members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) burned heavy equipment at an ongoing government construction project along the national highway in the boundaries of Manjuyod and Bindoy towns in Negros Oriental early Friday.

The heavy equipment, which included a backhoe, a crane, two dump trucks and bulldozer, were parked for the night at the multimillion-peso project site in the adjacent Barangays of Malaga in Bindoy and Sitio Alawihaw, Barangay Bala-as in Manjuyod, specifically at the winding Himampangon Road, police said.

Initial police investigation showed that at least three suspected NPA rebels arrived at the project site and started pouring gasoline on the heavy equipment owned by the LL Construction, a construction company owned by Lawrence Limkaichong, husband of 1st District Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, said Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Sr. Supt. Edward Carranza.

Carranza, who motored to the crime scene immediately after the attack was reported, said none of the workers were injured even as the suspected NPA rebels fired warning shots at them.

Suspects in Robbery

Police authorities have intensified their manhunt against the suspects in a robbery that resulted in the death of a baby girl and the wounding of her parents in a remote village here Wednesday night.

During the robbery incident, police said Nasrudin Odis, 41, and his wife Faidza, 35, were critically wounded, while their three-month-old daughter was killed. The couple's other daughter, Normina, 18, escaped unhurt.

Senior Inspector Donald Cabigas, Pigcawayan police chief, said two to three men armed with hard wood and round bar barged inside the house of the Odis family at about 2 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Simsiman, this town.

"We suspect it was a case of robbery-turned-murder when the father was awakened and fought it out with the suspects," Cabigas said.

Cabigas said the suspects hit the victims with hard wood and round bar before fleeing with P6,000 cash and jewelry amounting to P25,000.

He said the couple's house was made of concrete materials but only has temporary doors and windows where the suspects gained entry.

Philippine Prices After Typhoons

Prices of basic commodities in Iloilo City and Province remain stable despite the flooding in some barangays due to tropical depression "Ramon" on Wednesday.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Iloilo Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist Luisa Garnica said they conducted a daily monitoring of prices on Oct. 11, 12, and 13 per advice of their regional and central offices to make sure that retailers would not take advantage of the tendency of consumers to do panic buying.

"The prices of goods have so far remained stable even as some retailers are complaining about low sales as only few people are buying because of the rain," Garnica said.

She said that a can of sardines has remained at the suggested retail price of P12.60-P12.65.

DOLE's Enhanced on-line Skills Registry System

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here has pushed for the implementation of the Enhanced on-line Skills Registry System (SRS) to strengthen employment mechanisms and to address job-skills mismatch problem in the region and Isabela province.

Director Grace Ursua said that Santiago City in Isabela has launched its SRS recently and was able to record more than 1,000 SRS registrants from the 37 barangays of the city.

Of the 1,000 SRS registrants, 255 were placed in banks, department stores, fast foods, retailing companies and schools.

Ursua said the SRS is an electronic system that captures and updates uploaded data such as workers skills, qualifications, among others, as well as the roster of establishments and vacancies in the cities, towns and barangays in a repository of 'live' register of skills accessible to reflect the relevant labor market information needed in every area in the region.

Under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular in 1994, Ursua said that Public Employment Service Office (PESO) officers, the local chief executives and the barangay officials were enjoined to provide efficient employment assistance to the unemployed through referrals for local and overseas employment, self-employment and livelihood, including skills enhancement training.

Angat River Dangerous

Disaster control officials are closely monitoring the Angat river and its tributaries as the three big dams in province - Angat, Ipo and Bustos - are continuously releasing excess water.

Raul Agustin, special operations officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), said that Angat Dam opened its radial Gate B at 1 a.m. Thursday after its 212 meters spilling level was breached by more than two meters.

Agustin said the Angat Dam started releasing 46 cubic meters (cms) per second of water. The volume of water being released was further increased to 390 cms after dam officials opened gates 1, 2 and 3.

He said Gate 2 reduced its opening from one meter to 0.5 meter following the request of the National Irrigation Administration, operator of Bustos Dam.

As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, Agustin said that Angat Dam has released 319 cm; Ipo dam 231.50 cm; and Bustos dam 280 cm.

The water level at Angat and Ipo Dams was 214.07 and 100.23 meters, respectively. Bustos dam's water level was at 17.47 meters.

Financial Help to Typhoon Victims in the Philippines

The provincial government, through Governor Lilia Pineda, has provided P660,000 in financial assistance to 33 villages for the implementation of post disaster-related activities in their respective communities.

Provincial administrator Atty. Andres S. Pangilinan Jr., together with other provincial officials, on Thursday awarded the P20,000 check to each of the village chieftains.

Benny Ocampo, Buas village chief, said that the financial aid from the provincial government is a big help to their planned clean-up drive in their municipality, one of the heavily-flooded towns in the province.

Ocampo also expressed his gratitude to the governor for her support and assistance to the flood-affected families in the town of Candaba.

The amount sourced from the provincial government funds will be utilized in the conduct of household census, clean-up drive and monitoring of damages in their respective localities.

As this developed, Pineda instructed Pangilinan to ask the village chiefs to submit survey reports on the actual number of senior citizens and children per household for the facilitation of the provision of needed services and intervention, especially in times of calamities like the recent heavy flooding in the province.

Damage to crops of Tropical Depression Ramon

The Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) is monitoring the damage to crops of Tropical Depression "Ramon."

Iloilo PAO chief Dr. Ildefonso Toledo said that he was asking the municipal agriculture officers to submit their reports for proper action.

Dr. Toledo said so far, Estancia, Balasan and San Dionisio towns have already reported the damage to their crops.

He also said that Ajuy town reported that "Ramon" did not incur damage to its crops.

Dr. Toledo said they monitored that in Estancia, Balasan and San Dionisio towns, floods damaged rice crops in various stages, some of which on vegetative stage while others were on reproductive stage.

The PAO chief, however, did not give the number of hectares that have been placed under water or the amount of damage since they are still on the process of consolidating the reports.

Child Labor Orientation Seminar

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here has urged the participants during the Child Labor Orientation Seminar held in Roxas, Isabela on Thursday to help in waging war against child labor.

DOLE Assistant Regional Director Elpidio Atal Jr. told participating members of the various local government units (LGUs), the academe, Philippine National Police (PNP) and businessmen to intensify their agency's commitments in supporting the government's effort on child labor prevention and elimination to ensure the children's rights, welfare and protection.

"This orientation Seminar on Child Labor aims to promote deeper understanding of preventing children to engage in any hazardous work, exploitation and all forms of violence against children including child trafficking," he said.

Topics discussed during the seminar were the Global and National Perspective on Child Labor, Orientation on RA 9231 "An act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child, and role of DOLE and partner agencies in the protection of children against child labor".

Petition for recall filed against Philippine Mayor

The petition for recall filed against Mayor Marcelo Navarro Jr. of Bani, Pangasinan was dismissed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc for failing to come up with the number of signatures required of such a petition.

Atty. Jerpy Erguiza, counsel of Navarro, said the petition filed by former Councilor Hanibal Olores, a defeated mayoral candidate, did not comply with the percentage rule required.

Erguiza said the rule states that the poll body can take cognizance of the petition if the number of signatories meet the minimum 20 percent of the voting population of the town, which is more or less 27,000.

Though the voting population of Bani is more or less 27,000, its registered voters are only around 25,000.

Erguiza was also informed that the petitioner was only able to muster less than 5,400 signatures, or 11 signatures short of those required of the petition.

On the other hand, Erguiza said the recall petition filed by Barangay Captain Marcelo Togas of Barangay Garrita, Bani against Vice Mayor Filipinas Rivera and some town councilors is undergoing more study before the Comelec in Manila.

Phone calls from Globe landline to PLDT

Here's good news for Bulakeños.

There will be no more extra charges for phone calls from Globe landline to any Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), Digitel or BayanTel landline and vice versa.

This after the Globe Telecom and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) have recently launched the local interconnection in the province.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the local interconnection of the two telecom will bring more opportunities and lesser financial costs for Bulakeños.

"Through this, we will be making Bulacan closer to the people and we can assure for an effective, efficient and affordable communications," said Region III National Telecommunications (NTC) Regional Director Azor Sitchon.

Moreover, NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordova explained the benefits of the said interconnection.

Lawyer Froilan Castelo, head for Corporate and Legal Services Group of Globe, on the other hand, said the project would give benefits in terms of investments and additional employment to the province.

The implementation of the said interconnection services was made possible through the certified Resolution 2011-04 that aims to fast track the implementation of the interconnection services among major telecommunication operators in the province.

Use modern technology in the prevention and solution of crimes

A ranking police official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) national headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City said the organization wants to use modern technology in the prevention and solution of crimes.

Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo, deputy director, Directorate for Investigation Division Management (DIDM) of the PNP, stressed this on Friday during the closing ceremony of the one-month criminal investigation course for 62 police investigators of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office.

Monteagudo pointed out that criminals are already using modern technology to commit crimes like cyber sex, cyber recruitment, detonating bombs with the use of cellphones and the like.

He said the police would like to exploit this technology to effectively arm policemen in crime prevention and solution.

Aside from the Integrated Fingerprint Investigation Sytem (IPIS), the PNP has also acquired the Integrated Ballistic Identification System for cross-matching of evidences, electronic rogue gallery and new booking systems.

It is also propagating the electronic blotter system or the crime incident reporting system where information are stored in the computer for future references.

Former Negros Oriental provincial director Sr. Supt. Augusto Morales Marquez, Jr. is charged with coming up with a protocol and procedure on this matter, Monteagudo said.

Police anti-narcotics crack team arrests drug suspect

A police anti-narcotics crack team collared on Thursday the leader of an illegal drug syndicate operating in Camarines Norte, police officer said in an interview Friday.

Arrested was Arnold Zantua alias Dodong, suspected leader of the Dodong Zantua drug syndicate, who was collared at his residence at Hollywood St. in Daet town, Camarines Norte, said Police Senior Supt. Roberto B. Fajardo, Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial director.

Fajardo said the arrest of the suspect was the result of intensified surveillance operation carried out by his police intelligence unit in close coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Anti-narcotics operatives swooped down on the suspect's residence around 6 a.m. Thursday on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by a local court.

The suspect did not resist arrest. The police operatives found in his house a 45 caliber handgun, 9mm pistol, .38 revolver, a grenade, two air rifles, 20 grams of shabu and P313,770 cash believed to be drug money, and several drug paraphernalia.

Bill criminalizing cyber-bullying

Ako Bicol (AKB) Party List solon Rep. Rodel Batocabe filed recently filed a bill criminalizing cyber-bullying in the country and providing penalties of fine, imprisonment or both.

Batocabe, author of House Bill 5391, criminalizes cyber-bullying and imposes stiff penalties against violators.

The Bicolano solon said the bill was in response to the lack of protection and legislation addressing the issue.

"We were surprised to learn that out of all the bills filed and laws passed in the country, no bill was filed to address this scourge of society, except for bills filed against bullying," he said.

He said even bills filed on cyber crimes do not include and define cyber-bullying.

He also noted that the need to prosecute cyber-bullies has been discussed extensively among psychological and information technology experts; but, unfortunately, these are futile attempts at institutionalization.

"This bill is an answer to the call for action," he said.

A recent slew of cyber-bullying cases are evident of the need to protect people, especially Internet users, of the dangerous effects of cyber-bullying.

Chinese Tourists Injured in Bus Accident

Eleven Chinese tourists were injured in a freak accident when the bus they were riding collided with a truck in Barangay Habana, Nabas, Aklan on Friday morning.

The victims were identified as Jin Yang Wang, 35 years old; Lin Na Kaw, 52; Quin Kan Soon, 54; Yu Hue Zhu, 54; Shin Long Song; Ying Yin Sew, 38; Quin Qin, 39; Li Min Lian, 42; Min Fang, 30; Ping Chin, 52; and Jia Mai Chen, 68. They were currently confined at the Ibajay District Hospital.

Bus driver Zaldy Panagsagan, 31, and tour guides Jeffrey Wong Lee and Fritsy Flores of the Island Star Bus were confined at the nearest Caticlan Hospital.

SPO3 Jose Ituralde of Nabas PNP said that based on their initial investigation, the truck was speeding in the national highway when it accidentally hit the tourist bus.

Truck driver Edwin Nemis, 25, immediately surrendered to the police authorities after the incident.

The Chinese tourists were supposedly headed to the Kalibo International Airport to fly back to China when the incident happened.

Best and safest city in the Philippines

Davao City has just gained its biggest endorser so far in the person of no less than the Honorable Donald Lee, Taiwan's Ambassador to the Philippines.

Lee, who was in the city recently to join the Chinese community in the local celebration of the China centennial, said Davao City is the best and safest city in the Philippines.

"With the peace and security in the city, Davao City has a special place in my heart," said Lee, on his tenth visit to the city.

His statement was expected to echo positively on Taiwan investors eyeing the city as investment area. The city has a vibrant Chinese community -- key economic players in the city's growth years before World War II -- with their contribution institutionalized by the local government in the creation of Davao Chinatown, a 50-hectare area in Sta. Ana district, for long an enclave of Chinese businessmen.

What highly impressed Lee is that Davao City is alive 24/7.

"Unlike other cities in Mindanao, where stores and business establishments close at 6 p.m., Davao City has a lot to offer to visitors even beyond that hour, he told the local media. "You can walk, and go out even at night and you can feel that you are safe here," Lee said.

Telephone Bill Scandal

Unpaid telephone bills amounting to P40,000 and registered under the name of former Iloilo Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada are now under review by the Iloilo Provincial Treasurer's Office.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. said he asked for the review to know if these telephone bills being charged by the Globe Telecom Company from the provincial government was indeed used officially or for personal calls.

Defensor said if the investigation shows otherwise the province will not pay the bill and instead advise Mejorada to pay it himself.

The governor recalled a similar instance where a city-based company engaged in the sale and repair of cars also sent the provincial government bills for its services rendered under the administration of then Gov. Niel Tupas, Sr.

The bills amounting to P225,000 were purportedly for the repairs and car parts of three Nissan Patrol vehicles that were used by Tupas and his bodyguards.

The car company also sought the court assistance to collect the money borne out of the transactions from November 2007 to October 2009.

Crimes can never be totally prevented

Crimes can never be totally prevented and the best deterrent is the certainty of arrest and conviction of suspects, according to a top official of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Chief Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo was guest of honor in Friday's graduation of 62 newly-trained police investigators of the province.

Monteagudo, a cavalier awardee, stressed this can only be achieved if police investigators are armed with the right skills in identifying and locating the suspects and gathering evidence for prosecution.

Of the Philippines' more than 7,000 police investigators, more than 80 percent is already trained in the PNP's efforts to create a pool of investigators and that it intends to continue with the training program for the remaining 20 percent.

Monteagudo told the graduates one of the weaknesses in the investigation of crimes is in the gathering of information.

It is for this reason that he required the graduates to visit the jails when crimes are committed because vital information can be found inside jails by befriending suspects of similar incidents.

Zamboanga News - Explosion in Zamboanga City, Philippines

An explosion rocked Thursday night a slum village when an unidentified man tossed a fragmentation grenade at the residence of a former barangay official, the police reported.

No one was killed or injured in the attack but the corrugated roof sheets on the residence of former Sta. Barbara Barangay Chairman Harun Dimarunsing were partially damaged.

Two vehicles, an Isuzu Crosswind and a Toyota Lancer, owned by the Dimarunsing family were also damaged in the explosion that took place around 11 p.m. Thursday, the police said.

Josua Annan, 19, a "sikad-sikad" driver, told the police that the grenade thrower was his passenger who he picked up at the interior portion of Barangay Sta. Barbara after he fetched another passenger.

However, the police said Annan failed to recognize his passenger who ordered him to proceed to the highway, since the suspect was wearing bonnet and jacket.

The suspect was described as five feet and five inches in height, with fair complexion, thin and sporting short hair.

Investigation showed that the suspect, while on the way to the highway, ordered Annan to stop some 20 meters away from Dimarunsing's residence.

Young People with Physical Disabilities

The future will be brighter for the young people with disabilities in the province of Antique as they will soon be able to pursue high school education with the creation of secondary school at the SPED (Special Education for Disabled) Center in San Jose starting next school year.

Governor Exequiel B. Javier announced the creation of a high school at the SPED Center, which he also created a few years back, during the recent awarding ceremony of the 1st Antique Disability Excellence Awards at the EBJ Sports Complex.

The awarding ceremony served as the highlight of the Persons with Disability Provincial Congress 2011 in recognition of the programs and efforts of the municipal governments in the province and that of non-government organizations, individuals and business establishments in support of persons with disabilities.

"The mark of the society is on how it cares for the disabled, the aged and the less privileged citizens," Governor Javier said. He added that as governor of Antique he is giving the mentally and physically disabled Antiqueños especially the out-of-school youths more opportunities.

"Disabilities are not hindrances in reaching greater heights in life," Gov. Javier told the disabled persons who gathered for the congress.

Malaysian Businessman Missing

Police authorities in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have launched a land and sea search and rescue operations for a Malaysian fish breeder believed to have been abducted by his business partner.

Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, police director in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, has ordered Chief Supt. Raul Boac, chief of PNP-ARMM sub-regional office in Sulu, to ensure the safety of the Malaysian trader whose alleged abduction was reported in the Malaysian newspaper The Star Wednesday.

According to The Star, fish breeder Pang Chong Pong, 47, was reported to have entered the country illegally through the Sitangkai island in Tawi-Tawi, the island town closed to Philippine-Sabah sea border.

He was reported to have gone to Sitangkai on October 5 to buy fish when four men, one of whom was his business partner, seized him.

Police said he was reported in the Sitangkai police as "missing."

Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali has already ordered the provincial police office to conduct search operations but to date, the efforts yielded negative reports.

Ilagan Isabela to Become a City

Officials here are hoping that Congress will soon pass the cityhood bid of this capital town.

Municipal information officer Antonio Montereal said the proposed bill was already submitted to the House of Representatives sponsored by Isabela First District Rep. Rodolfo Albano Jr.

Montereal said town officials led by Mayor Jose Marie Diaz followed up the proposal last week at the Batasan office of Albano who told them that the bill is already on second reading at the House committee on local government.

Montereal said local officials are confident that the cityhood bid of Ilagan has a great chance of being passed in the plenary as all the requirements for its cityhood have been met like population and income. If approved, Ilagan will also become the second biggest city in the country in terms of land area next only to Davao City.

"Ilagan town officials are confident that the cityhood bid of Ilagan will soon be realized as it is already moved for second reading at the committee on local government", Montereal said.

Church of Latter Day Saints Burglarized

Even a sacred edifice is not spared by robbers nowadays as the church of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Barangay Lawa-an in Roxas City was ransacked by burglars who carted away some P25,000 worth of equipment last Wednesday.

The Roxas City PNP said the robbers took advantage of the heavy downpour Wednesday evening spawned by Typhoon Ramon that lashed out in Roxas City and other towns of Capiz under storm signal number 1.

Police said the suspects carted away four microphones, two extension wires, an amplifier and a DVD player.

A member of the church congregation, Jemehias Nunez, said he discovered the robbery incident after he conducted a routine check on the condition of the church following Ramon's heavy rainfall.

Philippine Rebels Back to Government Arms

Former members of the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) in the province of Benguet have become among the most economically-active members in their respective communities since 2000.

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said this as several local leaders including that of the CPLA are taking part in the final deliberations on the proposed autonomy act of the Cordillera region.

Prior to 1986, the CPLA, a renegade group from the New People's Army (NPA) was formed by the late renegade priest Condrado Balweg.

Balweg later entered into a peace pact with the government through the late President Corazon Aquino in order that they would be participants in the region's counter insurgency as well as economic activities.

Afterwards, many of the qualified former CPLA guerillas were integrated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while the rest were given livelihood opportunities.

Fongwan said that with government's efficient integrated rehabilitation, many of the former rebels settled to work and become small entrepreneurs.

Who Bombed Zamboanga City?

The two bomb explosions that took place one after the other and injured 11 people in this city last Sunday were the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

This was disclosed by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-9 (CIDG-9) director Senior Superintendent Generoso Bonifacio, whose agency was tasked to handle the investigation and the filing of cases.

Bonifacio disclosed that two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were seen minutes before the explosion at the cockpit arena in Barangay San Roque around 12:25 p.m. Sunday that injured five cockfighting aficionados.

Bonifacio said the person who checked-in at the Red Palm Pension House in Barangay Guiwan where a bomb exploded around 12:30 p.m. Sunday and injured six people is one of the two suspects.

The identities of the two suspects were established through the artist's sketches derived from the description of witnesses which matched with the photos of Abu Sayyaf bandits at the CIDG rouge gallery, Bonifacio disclosed.

NPA Encounter in Sarangani

A soldier was killed following an encounter with New People's Army (NPA) rebels Thursday morning in Sitio Lanao Kapanglao, Barangay Datal Bukay in Glan, Sarangani.

A belated report reaching the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion in Camp Panacan here, did not identify the fatality pending information of his family.

The report said members of the 73rd Infantry Battalion and the 102nd Division Reconnaisance Company were conducting a security patrol when waylaid by more or less 40 heavily armed men which led to several minutes of firefight.

The soldiers recovered one Armalite rifle, one improvised explosive landmine, a hand grenade, one radio transceiver, an improvised scanner, solar charger with battery and several documents.

Lt. Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division, said the patrol was preceded by information on the presence of the rebels allegedly mulcting on the residents.

Government-contracted project in Negros Oriental

The Philippine Army is looking at all possible angles and motives in Friday's sabotage of heavy equipment at a government-contracted project in northern Negros Oriental.

Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the Philippine Army's 302nd Infantry Brigade and the mother unit of all Army battalions in Negros Oriental, Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the Philippine Army's 302nd Infantry Brigade and the mother unit of all Army battalions in Negros Oriental, airred this as police and military authorities initially suspect that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) were behind the attempts to burn down dump trucks and blow up a bulldozer, a crane and a backhoe owned by LL Construction Company shortly after midnight Thursday at the Himampangon Road in the boundary of Manjuyod and Bindoy.

Patrimonio admitted that while witnesses claimed to have heard the perpetrators shout "Mabuhay ang NPA" (long live the NPA) before withdrawing from the crime scene, there are certain indications lacking to prove that it was, indeed, the rebel group that carried out the attack.

For one, the NPA has not come out yet with a statement claiming responsibility for the incident, something unusual compared to the recent attacks perpetrated by the NPA, such as that of a mining site in Surigao, Patrimonio said.

According to Patrimonio, nobody at press time informed him yet of any statement issued by the NPA.

Furthermore, the way by which the plan was carried out by the perpetrators to sabotage the multi-million peso project in Himampangon lacked the usual trademarks of the NPA when conducting similar tactical offensives, Patrimonio said.

Although he declined to elaborate, Patrimonio said the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police were closely coordinating to dig deeper into the incident.

The Army commander said that there could be other motives for the assault, considering that the contractor, LL Construction Company, is owned by a politician, Mayor Lawrence Limkaichong of La Libertad town, and whose wife is Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong of the 1st district of Negros Oriental.

Changing the Philippine Constitution

A Negros Oriental solon is in favor of changing the Constitution and not just its economic provisions.

Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Pryde Henry Teves said this is the right time to craft a new Constitution while President Benigno S. Aquino III enjoys high ratings.

He said the present Constitution was crafted in so short a time that it contains many vague interpretations.

"Originally, it was made to fit a parliamentary form of government, and then suddenly we have a bicameral form with the Senate and the House of Representatives," he said.

Personally, Teves said, the present Constitution contains very vindictive provisions, something made out of emotions or anger, to go after the elite "who have ravaged our resources", among others.

"It's time to call for Charter change because President Aquino III is so popular and people see he has no personal interest in mind," Teves pointed out.

As to the term limits for politicians, Teves is in favor of extending the number of years per term, but also reduced number of terms, like three to five years for one term and one reelection.

No Lesson Plan Policy in DepEd

The "no-lesson plan" policy of the Department of Education (DepEd) is gaining grounds with the possibility of its implementation in the next school year.

Negros Oriental DepEd schools division superintendent Dr. Milagros Velez is in favor of the no-lesson plan policy but only for really good teachers who have mastered their lessons just like the back of their hands.

But for teachers who are still struggling, the lesson plan should serve as their guide, otherwise they will be lost, she said.

Rep. Pryde Henry Teves of the 3rd district of Negros Oriental said he was assured by DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro that the order will come before June in time for the next school year, on condition that only those with good performance in the last three years will be automatically exempted from preparing lesson plans.

To make Teves' advocacy stronger, he has requested teachers in his district to submit a position paper, stating among other their reasons this policy should be implemented.

Affected by Typhoon in the Philippines

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) here is asking the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to allocate P2 billion for the rehabilitation of infrastructure and agriculture damaged by the recent typhoons in the province.

The PDRRMC proposal include flood mitigation projects, restoration of infrastructure such as bridges and roads, small water impounding projects, dredging of Cagayan River and Magat dam, watershed development, riverside control protection, vegetable seed subsidy and farm inputs, fingerlings and fishery inputs, and rice and corn seeds.

Governor Faustino Dy III said typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" devastated some major infrastructure projects in the province, agricultural crops and flooded large areas particularly near the rivers due to strong winds and heavy rains.

Some P500 million is needed for flood control projects, P200 million for small water impounding projects, P1.2 billion for dredging, and P250 million for watershed development and riverside control protection.

The rehabilitation of provincial roads needs P21.5 million, P62.8 million for provincial bridges, and another P1 million for other bridges that were destroyed by the two typhoons.

On agriculture, the PDRRMC has proposed the allocation of P37 million for the purchase of vegetable seeds, planting materials and farm inputs to be distributed to calamity-affected farmers in the province.

Cash Rewards for Barangay Officials

The local government unit here recently gave financial incentives to its three-termer barangay officials who were cited as awardees during the recently-concluded "Pagbiagan" Festival.

"This is an innovative program outside the Local Government Code and we hope to institutionalize it but we need complementation of funds," said barangay councilor Eddie Tiongson of Poblacion North here.

Tiongson was one of the guests during the press conference conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently.

He was referring to the granting of financial incentives to three-termer barangay officials who were also cited during the "Pagbiagan" Festival.

The awarding was one of the highlights of the festival and one of the relevant activities of the local government unit in support of the 20th Celebration of the Local Government Code of 1991 this month.

Investors in Davao City, Philippines

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said investors in the city should share in helping resolve dislocation of informal settlers who were evicted from areas where their businesses are to be located.

Duterte said investors could assist the city government in confronting the problem of providing relocation sites for the illegal settlers by adding funds in their investment plan for the purpose.

"I am asking the investors to provide a budget in their investment plan for relocation of the informal settlers. Many businesses here are put on hold due to illegal occupants on their proposed factory or plant site or subdivision projects," he said.

Duterte said relocating the informal settlers ordered evicted by the court, takes a heavy toll on local finances even as the local government has resettlement areas for displaced urban poor. Davao City has an active Urban Land Reform Program that provides relocation sites for displaced informal settlers who are resettled in new homesites on city-owned land at the outskirts of the city proper.

Duterte's advice came as investors -- mostly in property development and housing projects -- gobble up lands for multi-million peso investments.

NIA Officials Revamped

Fifteen top-ranking officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), including the deputy administrator, were relieved from their posts in a sweeping top-level revamp ordered by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The revamp affected three officials from the NIA central office, eight regional managers, one operation manager and one project manager.

NIA administrator Antonio Nangel told this reporter that the reshuffle was meant to vigorously implement the rice self-sufficiency program (RSSR) and the food self-sufficiency program (FSSR) of the Aquino administration.

Nangel said the redistribution of subordinate NIA personnel was also intended to better achieve the mission, vision and predicate objectives of the NIA as spelled out by President Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

The overhaul was ordered by President Aquino after NIA accomplished only 25 percent of its target of 30,958 hectares while spending over 60 percent of its P14.88 billion budget.

Relieved in the NIA central office through Board of Directors Resolution 7708-11 were deputy administrator for engineering and operations Democratico Grana Jr., internal audit services department manager Robert Suguitan, operations department manager Gregorio Dumandan and Region 7 engineering and operations division manager Dexter Patrocinio.

Grana was designated as overall chief of the project inspectorate and advisory group. He was replaced by Suguitan whose post was taken over by Dumandan who in turn was succeeded by Patrocinio.

Also replaced were regional managers John Celeste (Region 1), Manuel Collado (Region 3), Efren Roqueza (Region 4-A), Modesto Membreve (Region 7), Alberto Lacuaren (Region 9), Julius Maquiling (Region 10), Felix Razo (Region 11) and Alejandro Aberca (Region 13); operation managers Mariano Dancel and Reynaldo Puno and project manager Reinerio Irinco.

PNP Policemen Engaged in Illegal Activities

Police Chief Superintendent Franklin Jesus B. Bucayu, Region 1 police director, has warned his personnel against engaging in illegal activities after a policeman and two suspected robbers were killed in a shootout with authorities in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan last Tuesday.

Bucayu reiterated he will not tolerate any wrongdoing by any member of the police organization under his command.

"Disciplinary actions will be imposed immediately against erring police personnel in keeping with the 10-Point Action Plan of the PNP chief, particularly on Strengthening the Reward and Disciplinary System," he said.

The three slain suspects were identified as Police Officer 1 Munib K. Dalimbang, a member of Malasiqui Police Station in Pangasinan; Jonald Almirol; and Larry Villamiro.

The police said the suspects were pursued by Pozorrubio policemen after Jeffrey E. Marayag, 28, of Barangay Cablong, Pozorrubio reported that he was held up at gunpoint by the suspects who took his wallet containing P3,020 then fled on board a motorcycle.

A firefight ensued at around 1:45 a.m. along Sitio Limmansangan in Poblacion, Pozorrubio, after one of the suspects jumped off the motorcycle and fired his gun towards the responding policemen.

Drug Pushers in Urdaneta City

Investigators are still facing a blank wall in connection with the the shooting to death of two notorious drug pushers in sitio Abot, Barangay Dilan Paurido in Urdaneta City on the night of Oct. 13.

The fatalities were identified as Disdado Mina, alias "Dado", and Ronnel Pinlac, whose respective home addresses are still unknown.

The incident happened at 9:30. p.m. The gunmen escaped immediately after the shooting and are now the object of police manhunt.

The two were tagged by the Urdaneta police as notorious drug pushers and long time wanted in their watchlist.

Found in their possession was one sachet of heat-sealed crystalline substance called shabu and several drug paraphernalia.

Police said the gunmen used a Cal .45 pistol as evidenced by five empty shells found at the crime scene.

Cebu Pacific Plane Accident

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officials on Saturday clarified that the accident involving Cebu Pacific plane at Cotabato airport on Friday was very minor and isolated.

Leon Masalta, CAAP-Cotabato manager, said the Cebu Pacific Airbus 320 did not figure in an accident but only a minor incident when it hit a soft portion of the Awang runway and suffered no damages to aircraft or caused injuries to passengers, although Masalta admitted the incident triggered a two-hour delay on the Manila-Cotabato-Manila flights of Cebu Pacific.

No one was injured in the incident, the second in two years and the second for Moro National Liberation Front chair and Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimen Sema.

Masalta said the plane was slowly negotiating a turn-around when its left wing suddenly lowered, sending the plane to a halt.

"It was a pilot error," Masalta said, adding that all airline companies using the Awang airport have been notified not to turn-around half-way of the six-kilometer runway because there were soft portions in the middle.

He said the left plane's tires stuck and could not move.

Cebu Pacific terminal personnel had to use private vehicles and airport vans to fetch passengers from runway 28 of the Awang airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

"Everyone in the aircraft deplaned safely although the Cotabato-Manila flight was delayed," he said.

CCTV on Dam

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) will put CCTV (closed-circuit TV) cameras at the spill-gates of Angat, Ipo and Bustos dam and major rivers to monitor in real time the actual releases of water from the dams and the rise of rivers during typhoon season.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the provincial government is now consulting with technicians that will put up the CCTV cameras and the monitoring systems that will be put up at the operations center of the PDRRMO at the capitol compound here.

"Through this, we will see the actual release of water from the dams and its flow to Angat river and some low-lying towns, including the increase of water level in the major rivers in Bulacan," Alvardo said during his weekly radio program "The Governor's Hour," which he co-anchors with Bulakenyo broadcaster Rommel Ramos every Saturday morning over DWSS 1494 khz on the AM band.

The governor said that CCTV cameras will also be put up at the Angat river and Sta. Maria river so that the PDRRMO can monitor and act fast during stormy weather.

The PDRRMO reported that the spill-gates of Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams are still open as of 8 a.m. Saturday. The three dams have started releasing water since Thursday afternoon after the water level at Angat dam reached 214 meters, which is four meters above the dam's spilling level of 212 meters.

Crime in Pangasinan, Philippines

By Demetrio G. Gapasin

BALUNGAO, Pangasinan - Three teenagers, all boys, were massacred by still unidentified armed men using powerful weapons after coming from a wake in Barangay San Raymundo here at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday.

Inspector Rodolfo Olinda Jr., deputy chief of police of Balungao, identified the fatalities as Paul Brian Villapa, Brian Villapa and Mike Sapiil, all 14, and third year high school students of the Balungao High School.

The trio, together with their companion, Argie Sobrepilla, 16, who was able to run away and was unscathed, were walking home towards Barangay San Miguel, after attending a wake in Barangay San Raymundo when they were ambushed.

Olinda said the ambushers were armed with high-powered weapons as evidenced by 20 empty shells of M-16 armalite rifle, one shell of M-14 rifle and three shells of Carbine near the crime scene.

Initial investigation showed the ambushers waited for the victims at the boundary of Barangays San Raymundo and San Miguel.

Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) from Urdaneta City were called to the crime scene to retrieve some pieces of evidence that possibly identify the perpetrators.

All the dead were brought by the police to the Gonzales Funeral Homes in adjacent Rosales town where they were autopsied.

Olanda said the police are still facing a blank wall in connection with the incident but are continuing with their probe with the cooperation of other police units.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reporting situations of violence and other emergencies

By Ben Cal

More than 50 senior editors and media executives from the Asia-Pacific region will gather here on Friday for a daylong discussion on reporting situations of violence and other emergencies sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This will be the first time such conference will be held in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss reporting on situations of violence and other emergencies.

This conference entitled "Reporting on Violence and Emergencies" will be held on at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

One of Asia's best-known journalists, Veronica Pedrosa, a Filipina, of Al Jazeera English, will deliver the keynote address on "The role of social media in contemporary conflicts."

Media representatives will come from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

The purpose of the high-level discussions is to share best practices and provide recommendations on three themes: reporting on violence and emergencies; role of media in protecting vulnerable people; and the safety of journalists.

ICRC said a joint declaration from the participants may be expected at the conclusion of the conference with the aim of addressing opportunities and challenges for the media in their coverage of violence, emergencies and humanitarian issues.

"The media in East Asian, South-East Asian and Pacific countries represent a major and continuously growing source of influence worldwide, and we want to hear their views," said Alain Aeschlimann, the ICRC's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific.

Philippine Government Auditors Should Uncover Anomaly

Vice President Jejomar Binay is encouraging government auditors to report any irregularity that they may uncover in the performance of their duties.

"Never hesitate to bring an irregularity to our attention, regardless of who your most thorough findings reveal to be at fault. If you need the mantle of the government's protection, come to us and we will stand for you as you heroically stand for the law," he said to some 500 internal auditors and officials and employees from different government agencies attending the Association of Government Internal Auditors' (AGIA) Annual National Convention in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Moreover, the Vice President supported the AGIA's call to institutionalize the Internal Audit Service (IAS) across all government units, saying "the taxes and funds paid freely by a trusting public deserve no less than the most diligent care as outlined by law."

"I urge all the members of the AGIA to further spur the adoption of the IAS by all agencies, through continuous exchanges with agency heads on how the IAS can effectively be setup and implemented," he said.

Binay said "a system of checks and balances is the hallmark of democracy and the prerequisite of good governance" and added that good governance was "a product of efficient and effective internal auditing."

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PNP Chopper Scandal of Mike Arroyo

By Lilybeth G. Ison

In view of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the chopper controversy, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said the House of Representatives is leaving it up to the proper body to decide on the fate of Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo in connection with his involvement on the helicopter sale controversy to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"If they (Senate Blue Ribbon) have the evidence, they can include them in the case... Here in the House, what is important is what did you do (in) this Congress and not what you did in the last years," said Belmonte in a news conference.

Senators Teofisto Guingona, Koko Pimentel, and Panfilo Lacson earlier filed a complaint against former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo and some Philippine National Police (PNP) officials before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly conspiring when second-hand helicopters were sold as brand new to the PNP in 2009.

In a three-page letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the senators referred for preliminary investigation the findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Guingona, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, also asked the Ombudsman to investigate Mike Arroyo's brother Iggy Arroyo for criminal liability for allegedly covering up the former First Gentleman in the chopper controversy.

Hostage Drama in a Cavite Bank

A four-hour hostage drama ended peacefully shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday after four armed robbers released eight hostages at a bank in Bacoor, Cavite and surrendered peacefully to policemen, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said the suspects already surrendered at 2:44 p.m. and all hostages were safely released.

Cruz said the four gunmen robbed the Masuerte Rural Bank near a police station in Bacoor, Cavite at 11 a.m.

Taken hostage were five bank employees and three depositors. Negotiations were earlier held between the PNP and suspects who have demanded for a getaway car.

Training Day - Manny Pacquiao vs Marquez

World Boxing Organization welterweight kingpin Manny Pacquiao begun picking up what he started in the Philippines by plunging in serious training both inside the gym and on the road.

After two days at the Wild Card Gym, owned by trainer Freddie Roach, consisting of sparring Monday and stamina-building conditioning regimen, Pacquiao, who is readying himself to defend his 147-pound belt against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez next month visited the mountainous Griffith Park Wednesday where he will do his daily road grind to makeup for what typhoons denied him in Baguio City.

Supervising the early morning run was strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza with assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri assisting.

Also joining the 20-minute early morning run was younger brother and former fighter himself Bobby Pacquiao, who met the pound-for-pound king and his favorite pet Pacman atop the hill.

"It was a good run. Manny showed no sign of rustiness despite four days of inactivity on the road starting when we left Manila last Saturday," Ariza said in an overseas interview with this writer.

"He's in high spirit. I really don't see any problem putting him in a very fighting shape comes November 12," the 26-year-old former baseball player in his hometown Bogota Colombia, said. "He's always ahead of everybody even in scaling the hills."

"As Freddie and I have been saying, the purpose of this L.A. phase of preparations is to pickup on strength training we were not able to achieve in Baguio, but as I see Manny responds to what we've lined up for him to do, we'll have no problem," Ariza, who claimed he used to box an amateur but didn't excel in it, asserted.

Separation Pay for PAL Workers

Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it will start releasing the P2.6-billion separation package on Friday for its workers from three non-core units whose functions were outsourced to third-party service providers last October 1.

In a statement, PAL said the first batch to receive the package are employees who did not join the September 27 wildcat strike and are now working for PAL's service providers.

To follow are those who declined the job offer but did not participate in the work stoppage – they will receive their checks starting October 15.

"Per instructions of PAL management, we will give priority to employees who heeded PAL's appeal for a smooth and orderly implementation of the spin-off/outsourcing program," Cielo Villaluna, PAL spokesperson said.

"Management is grateful for their dedication and loyalty and for honoring calls for cooperation during the transition period," she said.

Of the more than 2,300 recipients of the retirement package, more than 600 transferred to the service providers while nearly 1,700 workers chose not to join PAL's third party contractors.

Majority of the workers shall receive an average of close to P800,000 in separation pay, which includes 125 percent of their monthly salary for every year of service, P100,000 gratuity pay and 100 percent converted-to-cash accrued vacation and sick leaves.

Per PAL Huma Resource Department records, more than 28 percent will receive P1 million and above; 37 percent will get between P750,000 and P1 million; and 22 percent below P500,000.

The highest package reached P2.4 million, while those who only served PAL for a minimum of one year will receive about P120,000. The cash component of the benefits will be tax-free.

Freshwater sardine solely sourced from Taal Lake

by Catherine Teves

Researchers discovered the same morphological and genetic make-up for 'tawilis' (Sardinella tawilis) - the world's only known freshwater sardine solely sourced from Taal Lake in southern Luzon's Batangas province - and the Sardinella hualiensis fish inhabiting marine waters off northern Luzon's Aparri municipality in Cagayan province and harvested there as food.

"Our team's morphological and genetic findings indicate 'tawilis' and S. hualiensis are one and the same specie," said National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) scientist Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos who reported the discovery this week during the agency's scientific conference in Metro Manila.

He's convinced the evidence already warrants classification of both sardines as one specie only but acknowledged this matter is still open to scientific debate.

The discovery is fueling hope for better managing the commercially important but dwindling 'tawilis,' however.

"That's the initial reaction to our discovery as 'tawilis' is under fishing pressure already," Santos said.

National Fisheries Biological Center, Officer-in-Charge Frederick Muyot presented during the conference data showing that 'tawilis' production continuously shrank after 1998, dipping to some 107 metric tons (MTs) in 2010.

Last year's 'tawilis' production volume is merely about a tenth of the peak 1,120 MT output for this fish in 1998, the data also show.