Monthly Archives: October 2014

Market thieves who?

“In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress ‘suspects.’” Noam Chomsky

By Alex P. Vidal

SINCE the news broke out early this year that several characters with “strong” connections in the city hall were behind the thievery or unauthorized collections of fees, among other anomalies in the Iloilo Central Market, no names of suspects have surfaced yet.
Officially no one has been identified or charged in any formal report.
Media also failed to zero in on the real identities of the culprits as they were waiting for Councilor Rodel Agado to spill the beans.
Although some names have surfaced in the gossip mill, nobody has owned up to the anomalies and bitterly deny any wrongdoing or culpability.
It boggles the mind why Agado was hard-pressed to mention their names since they were already allegedly identified by witnesses.
In fact, it appears that Agado, a public market habitue even before he became a public official, knows some of them.
Agado, chair of the market committee, who blew the whistle on these unscrupulous city hall employees, have failed to name them in his recent privileged speech in the regular session of the city council.


Agado only exhorted the “suspects” to defend themselves from accusations hurled against them when his committee conducts a formal investigation starting November 13.
In other words, the people will only speculate about the identities of these suspects who will be known only once they are invited in the hearing.
What if none of those to be invited will show up during the committee investigation?
The law cannot compel them to appear and incriminate themselves.
How can they honor any invitation to appear in the committee hearing when there is no formal complaint lodged against them yet?
How can one defend himself if there are no formal charges filed against him?
“Except for one who has already been dismissed for tapping on city power lines to run his dormitory and water business, at least eight of these suspects will be invited to come to that hearing to defend themselves,” said Agado as quoted in a report by city hall beat reporter and columnist Wenceslao Mateo in the October 30 issue of The Daily Guardian.
Mateo’s report said one suspect “is a market official charged for allegedly usurping the power of the mayor to appropriate and approve stall occupancies.”


The guy, Mateo’s report added, “is also suspected of employing dummies at the market after witnesses claimed that he allegedly paid for the rentals of several delinquent stall occupants.”
“Another suspect is a regular employee who allegedly divested some P200,000 in market collections,” added the report.
According to the report, the Commission on Audit has already recommended to the City Legal Office the filing of a graft case against the regular employee.
“The rest of the suspects are job hires who either collected market fees without issuing tickets, failed to remit their collections, or tampered receipt entries to chip off some amount from their collections. Some of the suspects purportedly admitted their guilt to both the executive market committee and Agado,” concluded the report.


We were surprised why Agado had to hold his punches during the privileged speech when it was supposed to be the perfect opportunity for him to skin those rapscallions alive.
For his failure to name names after unloading the “tuklo” (colloquial word for thief) accusation, public criticism has boomeranged on Agado, a former crusading radioman.
No guilty party is stupid to honor any committee investigation if he knows that he will only be lynched and humiliated.
We hope Agado can have a little success in his efforts to lower the boom on these dishonest city hall employees.
The only consolation for him is that he is being reportedly backed up by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is also hell-bent to eradicate his office with undesirable employees.

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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in POLITICS


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193 kids in Yolanda-ravaged Iloilo town get school supplies

“Charity is just writing checks and not being engaged. Philanthropy, to me, is being engaged, not only with your resources but getting people and yourself really involved and doing things that haven’t been done before.” Eli Broad


By Alex P. Vidal

CONCEPCION, Iloilo – Almost a year after the super-typhoon Yolanda devastation, elementary pupils at the Borres-Canong Elementary School in Brgy. Batiti here received early Christmas gifts from a balikbayan member of the Borres-Canong clan October 27.
School principal Ruviespiere Tupas said his pupils, from pre-school to grade 6, received more than 200 sets of school bags containing school supplies and hamburgers from a popular burger store in Iloilo City, from Chicago-based philanthropist Rhea Borres-Canong, who was assisted by Ulanie Salinas Lataquin, Nic Lataquin, and Cathy Borres.
Tupas, eight school teachers led by Leah Z. Declaro and village chief Melvin Obillos witnessed the distribution in a brief program inside the seven-classroom elementary school.


Borres-Canong Elementary School lost its main building during the November 8, 2013 super typhoon known internationally as Haiyan.
“We were inside the school when we saw the ceiling of the building fly away,” Obillos said.
Since November 8, 2013, people in Barangay Batiti, with a population of 950 as of 2013, have recovered eighty percent, Obillos averred.
Tupas, meanwhile, thanked some of the non-government organizations (NGOs) that extended help to the school led by Save the Children, GMA Kapuso Foundation, OSM Shipping Company, and Iloilo Central Elementary School.
Leopoldo Borres, older brother of Rhea’s mother, Aurea, said the lot where the school stands, was donated by his parents Rosendo Borres and Consejo Posadas.

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in EDUCATION


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Ilonggos avail IPV as world fights Ebola

“At no time in history have we succeeded in making, in a timely fashion, a specific vaccine for more than 260 million people.” Laurie Garrett

By Alex P. Vidal

While the whole world is in mad scramble to avail doses of experimental Ebola vaccines, Ilonggos can now avail of the inactivated injectable polio vaccine (IPV).
Also known as the Salk vaccine, IPV contains inactivated strains of polioviruses 1-3.
Department of Health (DOH) officials assured IPV has no risk of vaccine-related polio.
The introduction of the use of IPV in Western Visayas came as drugmakers around the world plan to work together to speed up the development of an Ebola vaccine and hope to produce millions of doses for use in 2015.
IPV does not stimulate antibody in the gut, so less effective against wild poliovirus, Dr. Alain Bouckenooghe, Sanofi Pasteur associate vice president for clinical research and development and medical affairs told Iloilo reporters in a press conference at Bantayan Resort in Guimbal, Iloilo October 24.
IPV protects only the immunized person and there are no community benefits, he added.
“We are almost near (in our campaign to eliminate polio),” assured DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin, who spearheaded the celebration of World Polio Day in Guimbal, Iloilo.
The Sanofi Pasteur official explained that IPV is given as the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis/polio vaccine (using a lower diphtheria dose, and without the haemophilus component, in this age group).
The primary course (for those not previously immunized) comprises three doses given one month apart.


A booster dose is given three years after the primary course (the three-year interval can be reduced to one year if the primary course was delayed).
A second booster dose is given 10 years after the first booster (usually given during the teenage years).
The 10-year interval can be reduced to five years if previous doses were delayed.
The DOH and its private partners, Sanofi Pasteur and Rotary Club, jointly announced the introduction of the use of the IPV in Iloilo province.
Oscar De Venecia of the Rotary Club said they will help sustain the campaign to eradicate polio and the clubs’ 24,000 members nationwide are committed to assist the DOH.
The use of IPV will cover the entire Western Visayas and the National Capital Region this year.
The rest of the country will follow suit next year, De Venecia disclosed.
The DOH said the country became the first developing country in Eastern Asia to introduce IPV in routine immunization, following the universal recommendation issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier in 2014.
It is also the biggest developing country in the world to introduce IPV and is expected to be watched closely by many countries which have already announced their intention to introduce IPV, it added.


The universal introduction of IPV, a vaccine that has been used in the majority of the developed world for years, is a necessary step toward achieving a polio-free world by 2018, said Garin.
In her video presentation inside the jampacked gymnasium, Garin explained the Filipinos have an emotional attachment to zero polio that stretches back to the start of mass polio epidemics in the world in the last 19th century.
The first prime minister of the Philippines and a hero of the country’s anti-colonial struggles, Apolinario Mabini, was a polio survivor who lived with lifelong disabilities caused by the disease, she emphasized.
According to the DOH, the last polio case in the Philippines was recorded in 1993.
With the DOH’s sustained effort on the polio eradication initiative, in October 2000 the Western Visayas region of the WHO and all member countries have been certified polio-free.
For a region to be certified as polio-free, there should be no reported cases of indigenous polio three years preceding the certification.

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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in HEALTH


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Ilonggos fear poverty more than Ebola

“Given the scale of issues like global warming and epidemic disease, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a can-do attitude to science rather than a can’t-afford-it attitude.” Martin Rees

By Alex P. Vidal

Amid reports that 4,877 of 9,936 patients have died of Ebola worldwide and there is a possibility that the deadly disease might spread in Asia, Ilonggos are unfazed.
“Poverty is more to be feared than Ebola,” thundered sidewalk vendor Ricardo Jerez of La Paz Public Market in Iloilo City.
Jerez, 52, is a father of three kids aged 16, 14 and 9.
He sells fruits and vegetables outside the public market.
Jerez’s 39-year-old wife is seven months pregnant to their fourth child.
“We don’t fear Ebola even if it will spread in the Philippines,” said Jerez while watching a “flash” report about Ebola on a small television.
“We worry about our foods every day, where to enroll our children and how to feed them on a day to day basis.”
Jerez, a former fishing vessel crew member, said his sister, a health worker in Saudi Arabia, was adamant to come home for the Halloween and Christmas vacations for fear of Ebola contamination.


“She must have received a false report about Ebola,” Jerez surmised. “There is no Ebola in the Philippines yet. Only poverty and graft and corruption committed by our politicians.”
Siomai and fruit juice stall attendant Jennifer Amigable, 27, of Tubungan, Iloilo said if given the chance, she is willing to work abroad even in Africa “to make both ends meet.”
“Ebola does not scare me. What scares me most is my bleak future here,” sobbed Amigable, a single parent and commerce graduate.
Money remittance security guard Rodolfo Junco of Tibiao, Antique said the threat that Ebola might spread in the Philippine if health authorities are not alert and don’t have the expertise to prevent it, does not alarm him.
Like Jerez, Junco watched the Ebola news on TV inside the money remittance center.
“I am more alarmed by the threat of our landlady (in a boarding house in La Paz district, Iloilo City) that she would evict us if we can’t pay our monthly rental fees for August, September and October,” Junco said in jest.


Newly-wed Junco, a former karate instructor, admits his salary as a security guard is not enough to sustain a baby and a housewife.
“Poverty remains to be the number source of our depression and anxiety,” Junco said in a Karay-a dialect. “Ebola is nothing compared to poverty which is like a slow death.”
According to the United Nation’s public health body, 9,936 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone–the three countries at the epicenter of the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic–have contracted the disease.
Reports said 4,877 people have so far died in total.
Researchers around the world are scrambling to beat the tropical fever, for which there is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine, with experts warning the rate of infections could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in HEALTH


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Capitol identifies checks scam artists

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” James Lee Burke

By Alex P. Vidal

By signifying interest to pay a partial amount of P5 million to the Panay Electric Company (PECO) out of the total P80 million arrears, Iloilo City Hall has restored the faith of other private utilities with pending collectibles from the city government.
The partial amount appropriated for payment of electric bills consumed since the time of former mayors Mansueto Malabor and now Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas may be peanuts, but P5 million is P5 million in whatever dialect.
The biggest power consumption was recorded by the city public markets with bills reaching P30 million, including the P26 million in unpaid bills that mounted last year.
Although there was no available date mentioned for the next payment, at least city hall can now be given assurance that PECO will not disrupt its power lines this Yuletide season.
So many programs and activities in public plazas and other venues (gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc.) maintained by the city government have been lined up this Christmas.


One sure way to sabotage these programs and activities is to cut off the power lines in these areas due to non-payment of the gargantuan PECO bills.
The P5 million check is expected to protect all the Christmas-related programs and activities.
The move to pay PECO with the initial amount emanated from the City Council committee on appropriations chaired by Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo.
The windfall could be timely since Iloilo City is also scheduled to host segments of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2015.
By the end of 2014, city hall’s power bills are expected to increase now that the city government has installed several street lights and lampposts in the Diversion Road where some of the recently inaugurated state-of-the-art infra and road-widening projects are located.
Both city hall and PECO are studying some mechanisms on how to further reduce the bills without the need to slice a big chunk of the city budget intended for the employees’ benefits and the people’s basic needs.


We are glad that Roxas City Hall has released the business permit of Kapis Mansions owned by businessman Joaquin “Toto” Diaz Dumagpi, a Capiz-based friend of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Sr.
Mayor Alan Celino may have interfered and did not want anymore to further inflame the issue after the delay was linked to Dumagpi’s friendship with the vice president.
Dumagpi had fought tooth and nail since early this year to compel city hall to release his hotel’s business permit, insisting his papers were complete and properly documented.
In a press conference last month, Dumagpi scored the repeated refusal of the city licensing division to release the business permit, lamenting that the delay had cost Kapis Mansions millions of pesos of losses since the hotel was supposed to host the Department of Health (DOH) national convention.
Lawyer Leobeth Deslate-Delicana confirmed recently her client did not pay any penalty or surcharge to the city government.
There was no immediate explanation on the part of the city hall why it suddenly released Kapis Mansions’ business permit, which happened after the media extensively tackled the issue.


Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor is ready to lower the boom on Capitol checks scammers upon his return from a three-day trip in South Korea.
Fact finding committee chief, Atty. Suzette Mamon, has completed the investigation and Defensor was already informed about it.
The Iloilo provincial government had been defrauded with P170,345.21.
This was after Provincial Accounting Office found alterations in 17 disbursement vouchers and checks for the payment of medicines, drugs and medical apparatus.
The Provincial Treasurer’s Office issued P1,652,379.48 check to Diomar, more than the amount due which is only P1,482,034.27.
The transaction was made through Diomar Trading, a longtime supplier of the Capitol, it was learned.

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in POLITICS


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No ‘movement’ for cold Frank Drilon

“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.”Mao Zedong

By Alex P. Vidal

THE LAUNCHING of several “for president movement” slogans in and outside the social media has become a fad among political organizers from various regions nowadays.
The Ilocanos have launched the “Bongbong Marcos for President Movement”; “Jojo Binay for President Movement” for the people of Makati; “Rudy Duterte for President Movement” from Davao; and “Mar Roxas for President Movement” for the people of Capiz, and so on and so forth.
But we have yet to hear the Ilonggos mount the “Frank Drilon for President Movement” battle cry.
Some remnants of the People’s Reform Party (PRP), however, have started to inch their way to various universities and colleges and re-echo the “Miriam Defensor-Santiago for President Movement”.
Defensor-Santiago and Drilon are two of the most battle-scarred and prominent politicians from Iloilo touted by experts as “presidentiables” or potential candidates for the highest office of the country.
Only Drilon, however, does not have a known “movement” or group of supporters pushing for his presidential candidacy in 2016.


We remember a mysterious “movement” that emerged several years ago when Drilon was still the labor secretary and subsequently the justice secretary under the Cory government.
This was the “Movement Again Drilon” or MAD.
Whatever its objective, how it all started and who were its organizers, it failed to derail the senate big man’s meteoric political rise.
Drilon is supposed to be the most senior among politicians queuing for the presidency.
The senate president is supposed to be among the closest to President Benigno “Nonoy” Aquino III.
Long before DILG boss Mar Roxas earned President Noynoy’s trust and confidence, Drilon was already working with the Aquino clan during the post-EDSA Revolution.
On July 28, 2005, Drilon’s fellow “Hyatt 10” mutineers were already prepared to hand him the vice presidency on a silver platter and install then Vice President Noli De Castro as president.
This was when they called for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation in the heels of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
Drilon has served as cabinet official for five presidents in a row, and must have also been salivating for the presidency ahead of Roxas and Binay.
Only Drilon himself can confirm if he is really interested to run for president or vice president.


Ideally, the interest to run should come first from Drilon himself, not from any “movement”, in the event there is one.
But Drilon has been incoherently passive.
Even his body movements are formless in as far as the presidential derby is concerned.
Although both Marcos and Duterte have not yet confirmed they were interested to eye the presidency in 2016, their respective ”movements” have already started juxtaposing and combing the entire archipelago at fever-pitch these past months.
The Ilonggo votes are a force to reckon with in the national elections.
We are the third biggest voting population next to Luzon and Cebu.
There is an age-old political wisdom that says if you want to win a national office–for president, vice president and senator—you must win first in Western Visayas.
With all the support of political bigwigs in Western Visayas allied with the ruling Liberal Party, we are puzzled why until now no “movement” has snowballed to endorse Drilon’s bid in 2016.
If he is not really interested to run, no “movement” is necessary to push him.
Politics is not a game of coercion.
We can bring the horse to the river, but we can’t force it to drink.

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Posted by on October 23, 2014 in POLITICS


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We can’t survive without mangroves

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

By Alex P. Vidal

We are glad that during the ceremonial mangrove planting 15th Pista sang Kakahuyan in Ermita, Dumangas, Iloilo last Sept. 27, 2014, Iloilo Governor Arthur D. Defensor Sr. exhorted the residents to plant mangroves for protection.
The activity, held 15 kilometers north of Iloilo City, was replicated in four coastal towns of Iloilo.
Environmentalist and lawyer Teopisto Melliza, who joined the activity, emphasized that it highlighted the tremendous benefits Iloilo will reap by regreening its coasts on one hand, and the grave dangers it faces if its near-decimated mangroves and beach forest went unchecked.
It’s heart-warming to learn that some 500 volunteers from government offices and private groups joined the planting on prearranged areas –three bakhaw proeagules laid beside each pre-dug hill.


Defensor emphasized: “When I was small, I didn’t value mangroves. They were cut down in wide areas not only in Iloilo but in the whole country.”
Saying he learned to appreciate mangroves only in his adult years, Defensor added: “We only learned lately that they are habitat and breeding ground of fishes.”
Melliza said the governor cited Molocaboc Island, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
“Mangroves transformed the lives of its people: they no longer resort to illegal fishing; they are no longer hungry, and they are now able to send their children to college,” Defensor said.
We actually need a collective effort to save our mangroves by hook or by crook.
When nature is hurting, humans will end up the biggest losers.
There’s no escape for us, living creatures, if nature suffers from neglect, abuse, and man-made sabotage.
When mangroves are dead and we did nothing to help revive them, the future won’t be happier for our children who will inherit the earth.
Mangroves are important in our ecology. Biologically, they adapt to low oxygen, limit salt intake, limit water loss, and nutrient uptake.
Mangroves are always considered as nature’s special gift to mankind.
For mitigation of climate change which generally involves reduction in human emissions of greenhouse gases, scientists suggest a need to increase mangroves.


For instance, the gradual demise of mangroves in the river at the back of the Iloilo Sports Complex in Brgy. Magsaysay, La Paz stretching the adjacent barangays Bakhaw and Bolilao in Mandurriao, has been blamed for upsurge of pollution and other environmental and social issues like erosion, squatter and lack of government programs.
This prompted City Hall, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) to embark on a joint mangrove reforestation project to regreen the riverbanks of the 15-kilometer Iloilo River last year.
The public-private partnership (PPP) in protecting the river is committed to enhance the biodiversity of the Iloilo River and improve the eco-tourism potentials of the area.
While this was developing in the metropolis, it was reported that at least four hectares of old-growth and reforested mangrove areas in Batad, Iloilo were “heavily oiled” bunker fuel.


The oil spill containing 200,000 liters of bunker fuel leaked into the shores of Estancia after the 35-megawatt National Power Barge 103 slammed into the rocky coast of the northern town at the height of super typhoon Yolanda last November 8. Monstrous winds and waves dislodged the barge from its mooring about 200 meters from the coastline of Brgy. Botongon, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.
Dr. Rex Sadava, University of the Philippines Visayas’ oil spill program coordinator, has expressed alarm that bunker fuel can severely affect mangroves because it coats the trees and blocks their breathing pores.
The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed the presence of high levels of the toxic substance benzene in the air, thus a mandatory evacuation had been called by provincial and municipal authorities.
Scientists say mangrove swamps are crucial as they protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge like the one wrought by Yolanda, and tsunamis. They explain that mangroves’ massive root systems are efficient at dissipating wave energy and slow down tidal water enough so its sediment is deposited as the tide comes in, leaving all except fine particles when the tide ebbs. In this way, add the scientist, mangroves build their own environments.


Mangrove ecosystems are often the object of conservation programs, including national biodiversity action plans, because of their uniqueness and the protection they provide against erosion.
Scientists claim that the unique ecosystem found in the intricate mesh of mangrove roots offers a quiet marine region for young organisms. In areas where roots are permanently submerged, the organisms they host include algae, barnacles, oysters, sponges, and bryozoans, which all require a hard surface for anchoring while they filter feed. Shrimps and mud lobsters reportedly use the muddy bottoms as their home.

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Posted by on October 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


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