Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, June 30, 2006

Raps filed vs ukay-ukay traders

By People's Tonight

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed charges against five officials of three companies for allegedly spiriting out ukay-ukay clothing worth more than a million pesos from the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Olongapo City allegedly with the use of fake documents.

Named in the complaint-affidavit filed by Angelito Navarro, special agent II of the BOC’s Task Force RENDA (Recover of Non-Collected Duties and other Assessments), were Manuel Bergado, president/majority stockholder of Interlink Recyclers Phils., Inc. (ITRP), Lazer Mega Trading (LMTI), and Mytron Security System Inc.(MSSI); Servillano R. Zabal, director/stockholder of ITRP, LMTI and MSSI; Lucilyn C. Bergado, director/stockholder of LMTI and MSSI, Mylyn C. Bergado, director/stockholder of ITRP and MSSI; and Fermin B. Libay, vice president of Interlinks Recyclers, Phils., Inc.

The Bergados were not in their residence on 197 Madrigal Avenue, Ayala Alabang,Muntinlupa City,when People’s Tonight tried to get their side.

A caretaker told Tonight to go to Tustin Agri Farm, Inc., located on 229 National Road, Baya nan, Muntinlupa City, and look for the Bergados’ alleged secretary, Gemma Tambuli.

Tambuli, through security officer F.M. Palabay, said the Bergados were not around.

Meanwhile, Libay, vice president of the Interlink Recycles Phils., Inc., said he resigned from the company on June 1, a day after the BOC filed the case against them.

“Accountant lang nila ako noon. Pero ginawa akong vice president ng Interlink na hindi ko naman alam ang pinag gagagawa nila, tulad ng smuggling. Ginamit lang nila ang pangalan ko, na hindi ko naman alam na ilegal na pala ang tinatahak,” Libay said.

Deputy Commissioner and Intelligence and Enforcement Group (IEG) chief Celso Templo said the respondents utilized their own and other companies allegedly to import used clothing illegally.

The supposedly smuggled clothings were intercepted by Task Force RENDA led by Maj. Isabelo A. Tibayan III in San Fernando, Pampanga.

‘Pag naibenta sa YNN ang Masinloc: Power rate dodoble!

Ni Malou Escudero - Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

Nanganganib tumaas ng halos 100 porsiyento ang halaga ng kuryente kapag natuloy ang bentahan ng Masinloc power plant sa kompanyang YNN-Ranhill.

Ito ang warning ni Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño kaugnay ng nakabinbing kontrata ng bentahan sa pagitan ng Meralco at naturang kompanya.

Ani Casiño, ang prevailing rate ng Masinloc na P2.80 per kwh ay magiging mahigit sa P4 per kwh kung matutuloy ang bentahan.

Nilinaw niya na ang Masinloc ay ma-ooperate na kung ito ay kontrolado na ng isang private company.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang 600-MW Masinloc coal-fired power plant sa Zambales ay pinapatakbo ng Napocor hindi upang kumita kundi para sa pangkalahatang pagbuti ng power sector ng bansa.

Subalit kung ang YNN-Ranhill ang magpapatakbo ng planta, sigurado umanong babawiin nila ang napakalaking investment nila na $561 milyon sa pamamagitan ng pagtaas ng presyo ng kuryente na manggagaling dito.

Ang $561 milyon ay ang bid price ng YNN sa Masinloc na napakataas ayon sa mga experts dahil mas mataas pa ito sa cost of construction ng Masinloc noong 1998.

Hindi lamang ang pagbawi ng investment ang magiging dahilan ng pagtaas ng singil kundi ipapatong din sa electricity rate ang mga interest rates na ipapataw ng mga creditors ng YNN-Ranhill na magpapautang sa kanila upang bayaran ang bid price.

Sinabi ni Casiño na mas mainam na Napocor ang magpatakbo ng Masinloc na isang major power plant dahil mas makatarungan ang pricing scheme nito sa ilalim ng gobyerno.

Kailan lang ay napag-usapan ang tangkang pagkakaroon ng YNN ng isang supply contract sa Meralco sa Masinloc. Kailangan ng YNN ang isang power purchase agreement sa Meralco dahil hindi pauutangin ng mga bangko ang Ranhill kung wala itong kaakibat na supply contract na siyang mag-gagarantiya ng steady income sa Masinloc.

Doctor says Nicole's injuries consistent with rape

MANILA -- A doctor testifying at a rape trial involving four US Marines said Thursday the complainant suffered injuries consistent with a sexual assault.

Dr. Rolando Ortiz II, of the James Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City, west of Manila, told the court he examined the 22-year-old woman -- identified by the court only as "Nicole" -- two days after she was allegedly raped by a Marine while the three others cheered him on.

Asked if her injuries were consistent with rape, he replied, "It is consistent."

He said the woman suffered bruises on her arms, legs and genital area.

The rape charge is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. The Marines have refused to answer the charge, and the judge entered a plea of not guilty for them.

Prosecutors contend the woman was attacked November 1 in a van at Subic Bay, near Olongapo, by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith as Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood, Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier cheered on the assault.

The Marines had just finished counter-terrorism maneuvers with Philippine troops.

Smith had earlier admitted having sex with complainant but said it was consensual.

During questioning by the complainant's lawyer Evalyn Ursua, Ortiz said there were contusions on Nicole's genital area and these were consistent with "blunt injury caused by forcible entry of a cylindrical object."

Among the significant findings of Ortiz was that Nicole's genital had "deep healed lacerations" and the complainant felt pain in her private parts when he examined her two days after the alleged rape.

During cross-examination, Carpentier's lawyer asked the medico legal officer if the contusions could happen even in consensual intercourse, especially if the partners engaged in violent or vigorous sex.

"If you want me to choose between the use of force or consensual sex, I would say it is the use of force," the witness replied.

Ortiz admitted though that the bruises could have been 12 hours to four days old, so they could have been sustained before the alleged rape. They also could have been caused by activities other than rape, Ortiz said.

On the contusions in the complainant's arm and leg, which according to Ortiz appeared from 12 hours to two days before the examination, these were caused by pressure or force using the fingers or a blunt instrument.

When Jose Justiniano, a lawyer for Silkwood, asked if this could have happened when Nicole struggled with law enforcers who were the first to come to her aid after the incident, Ortiz said it was possible.

Justiniano said Ortiz's statement did not conclusively show that the bruises were caused by the alleged rape. Ursua, however, said the medical findings must be seen in relation to other evidence, which all together support the allegation.

The case sparked anti-American protests in the former US colony and is seen as a black mark on exercises credited with helping weaken al-Qaeda-linked militants in the country's restive south.

The men were part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

The US Embassy, which has custody of the men under a treaty with the Philippine government, hasn't released their ages or hometowns. (AH/AP/Sunnex)

Women’s group wants SBMA official probed

By Michael Punongbayan, Bebot Sison Jr.
Phil Star

A women’s party-list group called yesterday for the investigation of a Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) official who allegedly tried to bribe a 22-year-old Filipina into dropping the rape case she filed against four US Marines last November.

"This investigation should lead to more exposés on who else was involved in the settlement attempts as well as if this has something to do with Starex van driver Timoteo Soriano’s disappearance," the militant group Gabriela said in a statement.

Ben Natividad, the SBMA official in question, yesterday denied the allegations of "Nicole’s" stepsister that he had attempted to bribe them.

"I never offered them anything," he told The STAR.

"I was at the IIO Office in close coordination with the SBMA chairman and acting as a liaison. My presence there was to make sure that she got the proper medical, legal and other forms of assistance that the SBMA can provide her with," he said.

Natividad, who is SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga’s executive assistant, said it was unfair of Nicole’s stepsister to have accused him of bribery.

"My participation was limited to making sure the victim got all the help she needed which at that time consisted of medical attention and legal support," he said.

Natividad said whoever told Nicole to settle the rape case with the Americans might have related her case to similar cases that happened at Subic in the past when it was a US naval base.

"Whoever said that maybe was just trying to relate her predicament to other instances wherein the victim would make an out-of-court settlement (offer) with the American serviceman in question," he said.

Natividad said somebody else must have made the statement, which Nicole’s stepsister had alluded to him during her testimony at the Makati City regional trial court.

"Common sense dictates that it would just be plain insensitive to say something like that to a person who has just gone through an ordeal like hers," he said.

On the other hand, the SBMA, without mentioning Natividad’s name, said in an official statement that its management and personnel "do not subscribe to the practice of engaging in matters illegal and immoral in nature."

Armina Belleza Llamas, SBMA public relations officer, said in a statement the agency had extended its assistance to Nicole when she first came out in November last year.

"At the time that Nicole filed her complaint with our Intelligence and Investigation Office (IIO), we extended our help to her through any means possible," she said.

Llamas said several SBMA employees were present to make sure that Nicole got the proper medical, legal and other forms of assistance.

"We sent a team at that time to help out the IIO and make sure that the process of investigation went smoothly, and that Nicole could be assisted by any means possible," she said.

"The SBMA was very concerned with her safety and security… They had even provided Nicole and her party with a housing unit where she could stay which was completely safe and secure for her welfare."

Natividad’s name came up in the testimony of Nicole’s stepsister, who told the court they were offered an "areglo" a day after the alleged rape on the night of Nov. 1, 2005.

Private prosecutor Evalyn Ursua and Benjamin Formoso, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith’s counsel, chose not to comment on the issue. Smith is one of the four US Marines accused of raping Nicole.

The other accused are Lance Corporals Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier.

However, Gabriela said an investigation should be made if any government official is found to have been involved in an attempt to bribe Nicole.

"This investigation should also lead to confirmation of a news report in a daily newspaper on Nov. 7 that the government had tapped someone from Zamboanga known to the victim’s relatives to persuade the rape victim to ‘settle the case’ with the suspects as well as directing others to put the pressure on possible witnesses to recant, or remain silent," Gabriela deputy secretary general Lana Linaban said.

Meanwhile, top forensics practitioner Dr. Raquel Fortun will take the stand as an expert witness for the prosecution in today’s continuation of the Subic rape trial at the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Fortun of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine is being tagged by the prosecution as a "superwitness" who will help Nicole’s lawyers prove that she was indeed sexually abused.

Fortun will also answer questions on matters concerning handling evidence, interpretations of medico-legal reports, and other medical findings.

"She will be an expert witness who will be giving her expert opinion," Ursua of the Women’s Legal Bureau told The STAR.

Fortun, the first Filipino woman forensic pathologist recognized by the American Foundation in Washington DC, is a professor at the UP College of Medicine.

She was named Pathologist of the Year in 1996 by the Philippine Society of Pathologists for her outstanding contributions to medical detective work.

Fortun became famous for her involvement in the medical investigations of the Ozone Disco fire tragedy in 1996, where she was tasked to help identify relatives of those who died in the blaze.

She was also asked to help identify children who died in the fire that gutted the Asosacion de Damas de Filipinas settlement house in Manila in 1999.

Fortun was also involved in the Senate investigation into the death of Cebu City Judge Martin Ocampo before she became a forensic pathologist for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor in 2000.

She also became known to the public during the Payatas avalanche in Quezon City in July 2001 where her forensic expertise was again used to identify the dead.

Fortun also had a hand in the investigation of the killing of public relations man Salvador "Bubby" Dacer.

In the Subic rape case, Fortun is expected to clear up matters that concern medical procedure, medical reports, and how the same are interpreted.

Fortun will take the witness stand after Olongapo City medico-legal officer Dr. Rolando Ortiz testifies on Nicole’s medico-legal findings.

Last Tuesday, a bartender of the Neptune Club at Subic Bay Freeport took the witness stand.

It was at the Neptune Club where Nicole, her stepsister, two US Navy men, and all four of the accused allegedly met and got drunk before the alleged rape.

Roger Sanidad, 25, the bartender on duty that night who testified in the trial, gave everyone a crash course on how alcoholic drinks are mixed at the Neptune Club.

He said he used to work for the Hard Rock Cafe in Subic and for the Tabola Italian Restaurant.

Under direct examination, Sanidad awed the audience with his expertise in mixing drinks such as the Vodka Sprite, Singaporean Sling, B52, Long Island Iced Tea and Bull Frog, which Nicole allegedly drank hours before she was carried out by piggyback and loaded into a van where the rape allegedly took place.

AEV presents businesses to Manila investment cos.

Twenty-two fund managers from several Manila-based investment houses recently converged at the Casino Espanol de Cebu to attend a special briefing on Aboitiz Equity Ventures’ (AEV’s) businesses and investment opportunities.

AEV chief operating officer Erramon Aboitiz, who gave a brief history of the company and an overview of its businesses, also shared AEV’s business and growth strategies with emphasis on power and banking.

Power group

Subic EnerZone Corp. president Jimmy Aboitiz talked about the success story of AEV’s distribution utility in the Freeport Zone.

Davao Light and Power Co. and Visayan Electric Co. chief operating officer Alfonso Aboitiz presented Aboitiz Power’s distribution business, focusing on his experience with the country’s second and third largest utilities.

Also present at the briefing were AEV president and chief executive officer (CEO) Jon Ramon Aboitiz, AEV first vice president Luis Miguel Aboitiz, Pilmico Foods Corp. president and CEO Antonio Moraza and AEV senior vice president electricity regulatory affairs Cholo Bernad.

The presentations were well received by fund managers from ATR-Kim Eng, AIG, Asia United Bank, BDO Trust, ING Asset Management, Malayan, Metrobank Trust, MFCP, RCBC Trust and SMC-RET. (PR - Sun Star)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Latiguhin mga recruiter ng Pinoy patungong Iraq!

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon EDITORYAL — Latiguhin mga recruiter ng Pinoy patungong Iraq!

MATAGAL nang ipinagbabawal ng Department of Labor and Employment ang pangangalap ng mga trabahador patungong Iraq dahil magulo pa sa bansang iyon. Sunud-sunod ang mga suicide bombings. Bago pa napalaya ang OFW na si Angelo de la Cruz noong 2004, bawal na ang pagtungo ng mga Pinoy sa Iraq. Lubhang mapanganib.

Pero sa kabila nang mahigpit na pagbabawal ng gobyerno, patuloy pa rin ang mga illegal recruiters sa pangangalap ng mga Pinoy para dalhin sa Iraq. Mataas na suweldo ang ipinapangako kaya naman maraming Pinoy ang natutukso. Sa hirap ng buhay at maayos na pagkakakitaan sa bansang ito marami ang kumakapit na sa patalim at kahit anong trabaho sa abroad ay papasukin. Hindi nila matanggihan ang malaking suweldong inaalok ng mga illegal recruiters sa kabila na mapanganib sa bansang pupuntahan. Katwiran ng iba, mamamatay din ng gutom sa Pilipinas, mabuti pang doon na mamatay sa Iraq at sumusuweldo naman ng dollar.

Nagkalat ang mga illegal recruiters at patuloy na nananagana sa mataas na placement fee na kanilang natatanggap. Noong nakaraang Lunes lamang, isang Filipino-American recruiter ang natimbog sa Parañaque City. Ayon sa report, sa Mactan International Airport idinadaan ng recruiter ang kanyang mga na-recruit na Pinoy. Dadalhin muna umano sa isang bansa sa Middle East ang mga na-recruit na Pinoy at mula roon ay patungo na sa magulong Iraq. Karamihan sa mga trabahong naghihintay ay truck driver at maintenance worker.

Ang OFW na si Angelo de la Cruz ay isang truck driver. Kinidnap siya ng mga militanteng Iraqi at napalaya lamang nang alisin ng Pilipinas ang mga sundalo roon. Matagal ding naging bihag si De la Cruz bago pinalaya. Nang mapalaya si De la Cruz lalo nang naghigpit ang gobyerno sa mga Pilipinong nais magtrabaho sa Iraq. Lubhang mapanganib doon.

Subalit sa kabila ng pagbabawal ng gobyerno marami pa rin ang nakalulusot. Nakapagtataka kung paano nakaaalis ang mga Pinoy gayong mahigpit na ipinagbabawal. Hindi mahirap isipin na may mga kasabwat ang mga recruiter sa airport kaya nakalilipad ang mga Pinoy. Talamak na corruption ang namamayani. Basta pera ang dahilan, walang hindi pupuwede.

Sa dakong huli ang gobyerno rin ang magpapasan ng responsibilidad sakali at mabihag o mapatay ang Pilipinong ilegal na nakapasok sa Iraq. Hagupitin ang mga illegal recruiter.

Tinodas na trader sa SBMA pinabubusisi sa NBI

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Nakatakdang imbestigahan ng mga tauhan ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ang brutal na pagkakapatay sa negosyanteng si Ric Tubig sa loob mismo ng Subic Bay Freeport Zone makaraang hilingin ang tulong nito ng pamilya ng pinaslang na trader noong Biyernes ng gabi (Hunyo 23).

Ang kahilingan ng pamilya ni Tubig ay alinsunod sa makupad na imbestigasyon ng Intelligence and Investigation Office (IIO) ng Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) kung saan hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay blangko pa rin sa nangyaring krimen.

Ibig ng pamilya Tubig na manguna ang NBI sa pangangalap ng impormasyon upang matukoy kaagad kung sino at anong grupo ng sindikato ang nasa likod ng pamamaslang at upang mapadali ang paglutas sa kaso.

Nangangamba ang pamilya Tubig na baka magkaroon ng whitewash ang imbestigasyon at mauwi lamang sa wala ang kaso sa kabila ng kilala ng mga tauhan ng IIO ang pangunahing suspek base sa ibinigay na diskripsiyon nito ng ilang nakasaksi sa krimen na kabilang sa isang malaking armadong grupo na kumikilos sa loob ng SBMA.

Inamin naman ng isang opisyal ng PNP-CIDG na tumangging magpakilala na hindi sila pinayagan ng IIO na magsagawa ng hiwalay na imbestigasyon dahil hurisdiksyon umano ng SBMA ang naganap na krimen.

Samantala, nagpahayag naman ng pagkabahala ang samahan ng mga locators sa freeport zone kung saan sinasabing nabalot ng tensyon ang kanilang pang-araw-araw na negosyo sa naganap na paglikida kay Tubig.

Ayon sa opisyal ng grupong Automotive Re-builders Association of Subic (ARAS) na tumangging magpakilala, ang pagpatay kay Tubig at sa bodyguard nito na si Rommel Pineda ay nagdulot ng sobrang takot sa mga negosyante.

Matatandaang si Tubig, may-ari ng Delki Subic Auctioneers at bodyguard nito ay niratrat ng isang hindi pa kilalang lalaki sa labas ng kanyang opisina sa Boton Area, Subic Bay Freeport Zone kung saan malubhang nasugatan ang in-house security guard na si Dan Garin na ngayon ay ginagamot sa ospital. (Jeff Tombado - Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon)

Registration sa 2007 polls umpisa ngayon

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon
Simula ngayong araw at sa darating na Sabado at Linggo, ay puwede nang magpatala ang mga botante para sa nalalapit na 2007 national elections.

Base sa 3-pahinang resolusyon na ipinalabas ng Comelec en banc, itinakda na rin nila ang araw ng Linggo upang ma-accomodate maging ang mga estudyante, mga empleyado at mga baguhang botante.

Hindi isinama ang araw ng Biyernes dahil inilaan ito para sa beripikasyon at sertipikasyon ng mga registrations.

Nakatadhana sa resolution na magpatala ang mga bago at datihan ng botante sa mga nabanggit na araw nang hindi lalampas sa Disyembre 31 ng taong ito. (Gemma Garcia - PhilStar)

SBMA official denies ‘deal’ offer to sisters in rape case

By Anthony Bayarong, Central Luzon Bureau
Manila Times

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: A Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority official implicated in the Subic rape case denied on Tuesday that he told Nicole, the alleged victim, and her stepsister to cut a deal with the accused American Marines.

Ana Liza Franco testified that Ben Natividad, senior executive assistant of SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga, advised her and Nicole to “settle the case.”

In an interview with The Manila Times, Natividad said that he was only in the place “to provide assistance to the victim.”

“I never proposed them anything,” he said.

“Who am I to offer settlement between the victim and the suspect? I was just an aide to the chairman,” he added.

Natividad said that on November 2, 2005, a day after the alleged crime was committed, he received an urgent call from Pyke Torres of the SBMA’s

intelligence and investigation office informing him of the possible involvement of American servicemen in a rape case.

“He [Torres] informed me that they have the victim and one suspect in custody,” Natividad said.

When asked who the suspect was, Natividad replied: “Hindi ko na maalala, pero puti siya [I don’t remember but he was white].”

He disclosed that the suspect was eventually released because it was verified that he was on a US Navy ship when the incident happened.

Natividad said he was there to assist Torres in the case since most of the SBMA top officials were not in Subic.

Once the SBMA lawyers and officials started to arrive, he immediately left, Natividad said.

“That was the first and last time I saw the victim and her sister,” he said.

‘Accused marines may not leave’

THE four American servicemen accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipina in Subic may not leave the country in December because they must stay here for a year starting from the day they were arraigned, an official said yesterday.

“They have to remain in the country until the one-year prescribed period expires, and that will be sometime in May 2007 because we begin counting when they were arraigned,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

He made his statement on the heels of the disagreement between the prosecution and the judge of Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 139 on the interpretation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

Judge Benjamin Pozon has ruled that the one-year countdown on the Subic rape case began on Dec. 27, 2005, when the case was raffled off to the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 73.

But Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez maintains that accused Daniel Smith, Dominic Duplantis, Chad Carpentier, and Keith Silkwood will have to remain in the country until April 28, 2007, exactly a year after they were arraigned.

“The one-year prescription period should begin when we had actual custody of the marines, and that was when they were arraigned,” Gonzalez said.

The military agreement signed in 1999 says the US embassy has no obligation to keep in the Philippines for more than a year any American personnel being tried in a Philippine court.

But the case against the four US marines has prompted Malacañang to order Foreign Affairs to study the possibility of preparing a high-level delegation to Washington to renegotiate the agreement if necessary.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago wants to abrogate the treaty that, among other things, governs the conduct of American troops in the Philippines but has not been ratified by the US Congress.

But Gonzalez claimed the Philippines must first review the treaty before deciding to abrogate it, saying “the doctrine of abrogation does not operate automatically.” Joyce Pangco Pañares - Manila Standard Today

Senate Discussion on mercs issue

To The Point - Emil Jurado
Manila Standard Today

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel—whose double-breasted eyebags betray his penchant for complaining against almost anything, got a lecture from Senator Juan Ponce Enrile over the issue of “mercenaries,” an issue Pimentel wants investigated (what, again?).

According to Enrile, there’s no law prohibiting Filipinos from working as security personnel in Iraq, and that if they have been recruited as such, they cannot be called “mercenaries,” adding that it’s different when they are recruited to fight the war of the US as a paramilitary unit. Only then can they be called mercenaries, Enrile told Pimentel.

Obviously, in an attempt to get media mileage, Pimentel wants to make the reported recruitment of Filipinos by Greystone, an affiliate of American Security firm Blackwater, in Subic and Clark, an issue, forgetting that there’s an Enrile who knows better, having been in the defense department for 17 years.

The problem, as Enrile stated, is that we are too sensitive, too allergic and too scared as a people, losing our sense of balance to assess a situation carefully. Enrile could be referring to Pimentel, whom I believe starts seeing ghosts behind every bush. For one thing, Pimentel seems ignorant about the fact that pilots of foreign governments train in the Philippines. Or is he just seeking publicity?

Palace voiding Masinloc deal, orders new bidding

POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual, Jr.
The Philippine Star

FRESH START: The controversial bidding for the 600-megawatt electric plant in Masinloc, Zambales, won by a company that has no track record in power generation and no capacity to pay would be cancelled.

A new bidding would be conducted, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in Malacañang yesterday as the June 30 deadline drew nearer for the winning bidder, YNN Pacific Consortium, to pay the $227.54-million down payment. It failed to beat previous deadlines.

Ermita was presumably talking on instructions of President Gloria Arroyo, who is on official visit to Spain (at the Vatican and in Italy earlier). Sources said that even while in Europe, the President was on top of Masinloc developments.

Unaware that the rug was being pulled from under them, YNN officials were reportedly negotiating yesterday with the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) a power supply agreement to convince the Malaysian firm Ranhill Berhad it was profitable to rush to YNN’s financial rescue.

The come-on to Ranhill is that if it pays off all YNN obligations ($14.14-million performance bond, $227.54-million down payment, and the balance of the $561.74-million winning bid) and buys out YNN stockholders led by businessman Sunny T. Sun for $8 million, it would take over YNN and its Masinloc contract. * * *
MERALCO CONTRACT: But Ranhill wants to first sweeten the pot. It demanded that before it parts with its money, YNN must deliver by June 30 (tomorrow!) a 10-year Meralco contract that would assure Masinloc a ready buyer for its electricity.

But those are only YNN, Ranhill and Meralco talking. While this wheeling and dealing has been going-on, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm), which oversees Masinloc’s privatization, just looks on approvingly.

Ranhill has nothing to do with the Psalm-supervised bidding. The Malaysians are not a party to it, yet Psalm allowed them to insert themselves. It even leaned over backwards to accommodate their clear moves to grab Masinloc without benefit of a public bidding.

Why is Psalm unusually interested in opening the door to a non-bidder? Has it conveniently forgotten the terms of reference? Upon whose instructions has it been acting? How much money is involved here? * * *

DIRECT BIDDING: If the new bidding pushes through, YNN’s performance bond should be confiscated and Masinloc thrown open again to other interested investors – after the usual pre-qualification process so no adventurer or broker without money can participate.

Ranhill, which has offered to subsidize the cash-strapped YNN in a circuitous route to owning Masinloc, could now try to get the coveted generating asset on its own without having to buy out YNN for $8 million.

The Masinloc plant is considered the best among the generating assets of the National Power Corp. marked for privatization. It is a base-load pulverized coal-fired thermal power plant designed to use imported refined coal from Australia, China and Indonesia.

It has two generators, whose commercial operations began June 1998 with one of them going on line, followed by the other in December. Its plant life-cycle is 25 years.

Resin smuggling in Subic continues

by : Alex T. Silva

SMUGGLING of “resin’” continues to flourish at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in connivance with some “locators” doing business in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Olongapo City.

Hundreds of container vans containing “resin” (raw material used in manufacturing plastic products) were spirited out from a locator’s warehouse inside the Subic Bay Management Authority (SBMA) weekly without paying taxes and duties through the government’s “Customs-bonded warehousing” (CBW) schemes (where imported raw materials used in the production are free of tax provided the said finished products will be re-exported from the country of origin).

In connivance with some Customs officials in the transshipment operation from the Port of Manila (POM) at North Harbor with some freeport officials, the resin smuggling that usually came from China, Korea and the Middle East continues unabated.

People’s Tonight learned that a group of smugglers, identified only as certain Baby, Anits, B.O., Tan, Ruben, Furgo, “uses different locators’ warehouses as their scheme to avoid payment of correct taxes and duties.”

A locator in Subic Bay Freeport Zone doing business under the name “Pearla” was being used as conduit in smuggling activities which include other locators from the different economic zones.

Most of the smuggled resin shipments were consigned to Pearla’s warehouses even if she is not engaged in manufacturing business.

The locators usually applied to import goods such as permits to import raw materials including used clothing which was being to recycled into rugs or carpets, right-hand-drive vehicles which will be converted to left-hand-drive, resin which will be used in manufacturing plastic products such chairs, monobloc, spare parts, imported wines and liquors, RTWs, cigarettes and other highly dutiable products.

With the connivance of some Customs and zone officials and in exchange for huge sum of money, the smugglers using “Pearla” would redirect into another Customs-bonded warehouse outside the Freeport Zone.

The shipments that actually arrived in the South and North Harbors would be diverted to the smugglers’ contact warehouses in Metro Manila.

“Puro papel lamang o dokumento ang nakakarating sa opisina ng Customs sa SBMA at sa bodega ni Pearla at ang tunay na kargamento ay nada-divert sa iba’t ibang bodega na karaniwan ay pag-aari ng mga Intsik sa Kamaynilaan,” Tonight learned.

The shipments, according to the rules, should be escorted by Customs guard from Customs zone to the supposed point of destination but with the exchange of sum of money, the guard’s signature on the documents would be forged to prove that the shipments have reached the real destination.

People's Tonight

Red Crystal

Senator Richard Gordon, who was elected as the Vice-Chairman of the 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) held in Geneva, Switzerland from June 20-21, was instrumental in amending the statutes of the organization to incorporate the additional emblem of the Red Crystal, which now has the same status as the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

The Red Crystal has been adopted as a secular emblem, with no national, religious or cultural associations for the use of national associations that do not wish to use the Red Cross or the Red Crescent. This move ensures additional protection to war victims and humanitarian workers in conflict situations where the Red Cross or the Red Crescent cannot be used.

The adoption of the Red Crystal paved the way for the grant of full membership to the Israeli National Humanitarian Organization, Magen David Adom. Magen David Adom, which in Hebrew means the Red Shield of David, had been denied membership because it refused to adopt either of the IFRC`s official cross or crescent emblems. Since MDA`s founding in 1929 it has used a red, six-pointed star as its emblem.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, which was ineligible for official entrance to the IFRC because the Palestinian territories have not attained statehood, was likewise inducted into the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement after the Statutes were amended.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Martin barges into finals

TUBOD, Lanao del Norte — Power-punching Artist Martin Jr. pummeled Davao City’s Federico Boiser Jr. into submission as he assured Olongapo City of at least a silver medal Saturday night in the National Youth and Women Amateur Boxing Olympic Festival at the Mindanao Civic Center here.

Martin, whose father is a former serviceman stationed at the former American base in Olongapo City, exchanged solid punches against the Davaoeño during their semifinal bout in the middleweight (75kgs) class.

Showing great poise, he floored Boise with a right to the face in the second round and was ahead, 15-9 on points when Boise did not answer the bell at the start of the third.

Martin’s victory highlighted an action-packed day which also saw national team teammates Alice Kate Aparri and Gretchen Abaniel arrange a final showdown for the pinweight (46 kgs) gold in this slugfest held under the auspices of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines headed by Manny T. Lopez and suported by Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo and Rep. Bobby Dimaporo.

The week-long event featuring the country’s leading amateur boxers is sponsored by Pacific Heights. It is part of the Olympic Festival under the auspices of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Aparri of University of Baguio-Shape Up punished Gema Montera, 14-1, while Abaniel of Puerto Princesa City scored a RSC (referee stopped contest, 1:28, first round) win over Anelove Gementiza.

Davao del Norte A and B also stamped their might as (lightfly, jrs) Frolian Saludar, Rolando Saider and Charyno Quiao; (flyweight, jrs) Jaime Quitoriano and Rey Saludar made it to the semifinals.

Veteran Romeo Brin of the Philippine Army beat Marlon Borja of Davao City but he will be tested in the welterweight finals by Wilfredo Lopez of North Cotabato, who at 19, promises to be a bright prospect for the national training team.

The 5-foot-9 Lopez scored an RSC (referee stopped contest, first round, 1:32) win over Leo Militante of Zamboanga City.
Manila Bulletin

Subic rape witness says marines ordered a lot of drinks

By JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, The Manila Times Reporter

The prosecution and defense had one crucial point to settle in the continuation of the Subic rape case on Tuesday: Whether the 22-year-old woman, identified only as Nicole, was drunk or sober when she claimed an American marine sexually assaulted her.

L/Cpl. Daniel Smith, the principal accused, admitted to having had sex with the complainant, but maintained it was a consensual act. The prosecution argued that it could not be consensual if the woman was drunk.

Three other marines stand accused of the crime as coconspirators. The charge sheet said they cheered Smith while he was committing the crime.

At the hearing, bartender Roger Salidad, a prosecution witness, said Christopher Mills, one of the coaccused, had initially ordered a vodka-Sprite cocktail—a mixture of one shot of vodka and three shots of Sprite.

He added this was followed in succession by drinks called "B52," "Singapore Sling," "Long Island Iced Tea" and "Bull Frog."

Salidad, who was tending the bar on the night of Nov. 1, 2005, could not categorically say which drinks went to Nicole or how much she drank.

By bringing in Salidad as a witness, the prosecution sought to prove that Nicole was drunk so could not have consented to the sexual act.

In an interview after the hearing, Evalyn Ursua, prosecution counsel, pointed out that the complainant had taken a quantity of alcoholic drinks on an empty stomach.

"The alcohol made her vulnerable," Ursua said. "She and Franco had only eaten a slice of pizza each for dinner."

The defense lawyers tried to show that the complainant and her stepsister were not drunk.

Jose Justiniano, Smith’s lawyer, asked Franco if Nicole could walk on her own when they left the club.

When Franco replied yes, Justiniano replied: "That means her sister could still take care of herself."

6 ‘Dating Daan’ members drown

MORONG, Bataan - Six members of the religious organization "Ang Dating Daan" drowned on Monday afternoon while three others were rescued when big waves battered their motor boat in the waters off Sitio Panibatoan, Barangay Poblacion, this town here as typhoon "Domeng" exited the country.

Rescuers took overnight to recover bodies of five of the victims who were swept away by underwater current.

Senior Superintendent Hernando Zafra, Bataan police director, identified the victims as Jun Hernandez, 26; Basil Gamotin, 22; Randolf Mercado, 24; Henry Buagayan, 32; Marie Anan Matias, 23; and Patrick Cidro, all of Metro Manila.


Reports said that the victims led by one Cesar Manalo arrived at the Morning Star beach resort allegedly owned by Ely Soriano Monday morning for swimming and "baptism" of the members of the "Ang Dating Daan".


As this developed, Mayor Burt Linao, irked by the incident, ordered the investigation of the resort owner for allowing the victims to swim in the area despite the danger posed by the rough seas and big waves.


A source at the municipal hall here said that the victims were about to be "baptized" in the religious organization when the incident occurred, saying the area is known to be a dangerous swimming place due to the underwater current during the rainy season.


"Bibinyagan daw sana nila itong mga biktima para sa kanilang pagsapi sa kanilang religious organization nang maganap ang insidente," said a municipal employee. (Mar T. Supnad - TEMPO)

3 Filipinos added to ‘Nicole’ ordeal, says witness

Volt Contreras Tarra Quismundo - Inquirer

BEFORE “NICOLE” could formally lodge a rape complaint against a group of US Marines, she encountered three Filipinos who added to her ordeal -- a woman doctor who sneered at her story, an eyewitness who initially denied having seen her, and a certain Ben Natividad who asked her to “just accept payment” for her ordeal.

Anna Liza Franco, stepsister of the complainant in the Subic rape case, gave this testimony when she returned to the witness stand yesterday and delivered an outburst apparently aimed at the four accused American Marines.

“Why can’t you look me straight in the eye? (Bakit di kayo makatingin ng straight?)” Franco, 25, said at one point.

She did not say who she meant, but she was casting dagger looks in the direction of Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, the four accused in the alleged rape inside a van at Subic Bay on Nov. 1.

Franco’s remark was not a response to a question, but sounded more like an expression of rage during her direct examination by Nicole’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua.

Franco had wept when she first testified on Friday, prompting Makati City Judge Benjamin Pozon to cut the proceedings short.

Her narration yesterday mainly dwelled on how her sister’s case reached the desk of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Intelligence and Investigation Office (IIO) and later involved agents of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

The 15th witness for the prosecution was the first to describe Nicole’s body after the alleged rape: Franco recalled seeing Nicole with “contusions” on one arm and on her knees when she changed clothes at the IIO.

Franco recounted that after she and Nicole gave statements at the IIO, “someone approached us” inside one of the rooms on the evening of Nov. 2 and told them to “just accept payment (magpabayad na lang daw po).”

Fear for her life

“I did not agree,” Franco said, describing the person as a heavily built Filipino male.

Judge Pozon asked her to name the man and when Franco hesitated, Ursua asked to approach the bench. Lawyers from both panels spent about a minute conferring with the judge.

After the huddle, Franco said it was a “Ben Natividad.” She could not recall if the man spoke of an exact amount and what precisely the “payment” was for.

Asked by Ursua why she was initially reluctant to identify Natividad in court, Franco said she was afraid for her life.

In contrast to her testimony on Natividad, Franco was livid when she recounted her first meeting with Timoteo Soriano, the driver of the hired van where Smith allegedly raped Nicole.

Franco said that Soriano at first claimed in her and Nicole’s presence that Nicole was not the woman taken on the van by his American customers on the night of Nov. 1.

Pity for Nicole

She said the driver only “admitted that it was my sister” after hearing Maria Fe Castro, another eyewitness, assert that she saw Nicole being carried “like a pig” from Soriano’s van.

Franco said Soriano then admitted “that it was my sister and said he took pity [on her] for what the Americans did to her…”

It was at this point that Franco turned to the accused Americans, her outburst causing a brief break in the hearing.

Calming down, she continued: “(Soriano) said he will help us by giving a voluntary statement. Then he went out of the room.”

Soriano did give a statement at the IIO but recanted later, claiming he had been coerced into signing his original statement which spoke of “gang rape.”

Franco sounded bitter right from the start of her testimony yesterday.

She recalled how Nicole underwent a urine test at the James Gordon Hospital in Olongapo City at around 3 a.m., or shortly after the supposed rape. Her sister was in a state of shock and Franco said it was she who accomplished the forms for Nicole.

She said a certain Dr. Estera, upon learning Nicole was to be tested in connection with a rape incident, snapped at her patient: “Na-rape ka? Baka ginusto mo? (So you were raped? Maybe you wanted it?)”

Nicole in hysterics

When Nicole heard this, she answered back, “Why would I want that?” Franco said. “Then (Nicole) became hysterical.”

As in her testimony on Natividad, Franco only identified Estera by name when Judge Pozon asked her.

Nicole repeatedly cried out in pain while Estera examined her “but the doctor just went on ignoring her,” Franco said in Filipino.

Franco also resented how the hospital attended to a pregnant woman first, despite the fact that Nicole got there well ahead of the woman.

“What happened to us is worse than the death of a loved one. This is a nightmare,” Franco said. “We lost many opportunities. I could have found a job by now. We will grow old with this nightmare and it will not go away.”

She said one of their younger siblings had been forced to stop schooling because “we all had to give priority to (Nicole).”

Franco said it was only on the afternoon of Nov. 3 that Nicole was able to file a formal complaint before the Olongapo City prosecutors office. By then, SBMA Administrator Armand Areza had provided the sisters with a safehouse.

Unflinching witness

Franco did not flinch as the defense panel tried to break her testimony, which the prosecution deemed crucial in proving that Nicole was too drunk to have consented to sex.

Nicole has said that she was drunk when Smith raped her at the back of the Kia Starex van. The Marine had claimed he had consensual sex with Nicole.

Franco aimed a fierce glare at defense lawyer Jose Justiniano as he fired one question after another in a bid to show that the sisters made no effort to refuse the drinks that their American companion, US Navy Petty Officer Christopher Mills, offered them before the alleged rape occurred.

Barrage of questions

Justiniano also questioned Franco about the gaps between the drinks they consumed, as he tried to establish that the sisters had enough time between drinks to diffuse the alcohol content in their bodies and keep them from getting too drunk.

“Did you not suggest to Mills to order drinks that will not make you drunk?” Justiniano asked. Franco said no.

“Did you not tell Mills not to order anymore because you were already dizzy? Did you not suggest to him to just order another type of drink that will not make you drunk? Did you not tell Mills that you were dizzy and that you should go back to the hotel?” the lawyer said.

“Mills was the one who went to the bar … How can I talk to Mills when he was going around the bar?” Franco replied.

By its questioning, the defense apparently sought to portray that Nicole was sober enough to have consented to sex with Smith, disputing the prosecution line that she was too drunk to have agreed to sex. But Ursua said the defense tactics established nothing.

Franco resumes her testimony today.

The Inquirer sought Natividad’s reaction but he refused to take five calls after he was told in a text message what the Inquirer wanted to ask him about.

SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga said Natividad was “referring the issue to his father-in-law, the lawyer Oliver Lozano.”

Salonga said he could not recall if Natividad was part of the SBMA group he had directed to assist the rape victim. He said his instruction to the group was to provide her with medical and legal help, and a house to keep her away from the “usiseros (kibitzers).”

Salonga said Natividad was a consultant at the SBMA, not his “senior executive assistant,” as Natividad had previously identified himself to the Inquirer.

Salonga also said he did not remember his office being asked to facilitate any offers of money for Nicole.

He said that “in fairness to the US Navy,” American authorities had told him “that they will abide by the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement).” With a report from Tonette Orejeas, Central Luzon Desk

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Subic investors wary over killing of businessman

By Allan Macatuno
Philippine Daily Inquirer

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—A group of investors has expressed alarm over the recent ambush-killing of a businessman and his aide inside the freeport, saying it has caused tension in the business community.

Jimmy Vicente, secretary general of the Automotive Rebuilders Association of Subic (Aris), said the murder of Uldarico Tubig, 45, and his security aide, Rommel Pineda, had frightened Subic locators.

Vicente said Tubig worked as a broker for at least 85 percent of companies selling used vehicles here. “Anybody here has a reason to be wary and fearful,” Vicente said.

The victims were killed on Friday by five gunmen in Tubig’s office on Boton Highway. Another security aide, Dan Garin, survived the attack.

Police investigators are eyeing business rivalry and personal grudge as possible motives for the attack.

Jose Calimlim, senior deputy administrator for operations of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), said port security had already been beefed up.

“We have intensified security measures as we continue to hunt down the suspects,” Calimlim said. “We have deployed more mobile patrols.”

He said police had identified the suspects but declined to give details.

The license plate number of the car used by the assailants had also been identified, he said.

“SBMA security personnel reported that the getaway car never exited the freeport and it is likely that it is still here,” he said.

PhilStar EDITORIAL — Stop the recruiters

A Filipino-American recruiter was arrested yesterday in Las Piñas for sending workers to Iraq. Legitimate recruiters also say the Mactan International Airport is increasingly being used by workers leaving for a secondary country before flying to their final destination, Iraq. The Philippine government has banned citizens from leaving for the strife-torn country, but the lure of a quick, big buck is irresistible. With numerous reports of Filipinos managing to make their way to Iraq, the government ban is surely being defied.

This is possible only because there are unscrupulous recruiters who know their way around the Middle East and how to go around deployment bans. These recruiters’ principal concern is not the reconstruction of Iraq but merely to earn fat job placement fees, with little regard for the safety of workers. Sending Philippine troops to that country was dangerous enough. Civilians take more risks, and the ones at greatest risk are those who enter the country without having been apprised of the dangers and without the knowledge of the Philippine government.

If Filipinos are determined to work in a country where security risks make salaries among the highest in the world, they should at least know what they are getting themselves into. If the Philippine government truly wants to put a stop to the illegal deployment, it should crack down on the illegal recruiters and their foreign partners. Any recruiter or company found to have defied the deployment ban must be meted harsh punishment.

Iraq can certainly use international help in reconstruction work. Any such help, however, cannot be done surreptitiously. Violating deployment bans and sneaking around the Middle East to enter Iraq will raise the security risks for anyone entering a war zone. There are many jobs around the world for skilled Filipino workers. In the Middle East alone, the Arabs continue to funnel their petrodollars into massive development projects. The jobs in these sites may not warrant the kind of pay being offered in one of the most dangerous countries in the world. But at least workers in these more peaceful areas have a good chance that they will be able to return in one piece with their earnings to their families. Illegal recruitment for jobs in Iraq must stop.

Recruiters for Iraq criticized

A RECRUITMENT firm yesterday slammed the government for sending Filipino workers to Iraq despite its ban on worker deployment to that country.

Nicanor Arcilla, executive vice president for operations of Anglo-European Services Inc., said allowing Filipinos to work as security men on American facilities in Iraq violated the ban that had been in force since 2004.

“Why is the government allowing the deployment of ex-military and police personnel to Iraq?” he said.

“Why not lift the ban on [Filipino workers] to avoid the proliferation of illegal recruitment agencies?”

Arcilla claimed that Subic-based Sateless Solution was recruiting hundreds of former military and police personnel to be trained for security job in Iraq.

He said Mactan International Airport in Cebu was the gateway for Filipinos leaving for work in Iraq.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration had earlier admitted that Filipino security men were being sent to US bases in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Rio N. Araja - Manila Standard
= = = =



Recruiter of ex-soldiers to Iraq nabbed

The Philippine Star

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested a Filipino-American tagged in the illegal recruitment of more than 100 retired soldiers for work in US facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joint elements of the NBI and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) nabbed Mark Rae Villacruzes, of Zapote, Las Piñas over the weekend after eight retired military men complained that the suspect gave them their $1,000 monthly salary, but failed to give them the agreed $9,000 "war compensation" to cover their six-month stint in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The NBI said Danilo Besa, president of recruitment agency Armstrong Resources Corp. located in Mandaluyong City, eluded arrest.

Since March 2004, Villacruzes has reportedly been recruiting retired or AWOL soldiers as well as former SWAT officers to work at the US facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government earlier banned the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq.

NBI Acting Director Nestor Mantaring said ex-soldiers were hired as "mercenaries."

Villacruzes claimed he represents Blackwater USA and Triple Canopy Group Inc., a security agency based in Chicago, Illinois. However, POEA records that the two companies were not accredited principals with their office.

Assistant Regional Director Vicente de Guzman III, of the NBI-Special Action Unit (SAU), said Villacruzes hired people "with combat experience."

"In their application, they were hired as fixed site security officers. They are tasked with securing buildings, oftentimes a US installation," he said.

Director Noriel Devanadera, of the POEA Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch (AIRB), said eight retired soldiers who joined the tour in Iraq and Afghanistan went to their office to complain that Villacruzes failed to pay them "war compensation."

Among those who complained before the POEA and NBI were Leonido Battaler, Romeo Borela, Avelino Dimacutac, Wilson Flores, Romeo Kalaw Jr., Nestor Mora, Efren Poster, Benjamin Rempis Jr., and Richard Saplala.

The complainants received information that Villacruzes was back in the country and was again recruiting for a second batch of soldiers to be deployed to the two countries.

"We therefore warn the public in dealing with persons who are engaged in similar activities. They should weigh the consequences of promises of high pay versus the danger of their lives and families." Mantaring said.

He added that the soldiers were able to circumvent the government’s strict deployment ban to Iraq and Afghanistan by first traveling to Thailand, then taking a flight to Jordan and finally to the country of destination.

The NBI filed charges for large scale illegal recruitment against Villacruzes. However, he was ordered released by the DOJ for further investigation. — Evelyn Macairan

Rape victim 'was offered money for her silence'

By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Gulf News
A 22-year old Filipina was offered money to withdraw the filing of a rape case against four US servicemen in central Luzon last year, said a step-sister who testified in a lower court in Makati City yesterday.

"A man, identified as Ben Natividad, told my sister to accept a settlement money and not to file rape charges," said Ana Lisa Franco.

She did not say if Natividad represented the American servicemen. She also did not say how much money was being offered to the rape victim, who was identified as "Nicole".

The witness recalled that her sister went missing after she danced with a US serviceman in Club Neptune, in Subic, last November 1.

A friend, another US serviceman, whom they met in their restaurant inside the Southern Command in Zamboanga City, had invited her, Nicole and their 12-year old sister to Subic in November, said Franco.

"After my sister went missing, three policemen brought her to our hotel at 2 in the morning of November 2, and told me that she was found on the road, that she was dumped by a speeding van," said Franco.

Admission

Franco said that when she and her sister went to a hospital to report about the rape incident, a doctor told her sister, "You must have liked it."

A certain Timoteo Soriano, the driver of the van where Nicole was allegedly raped, went to the police station when the victim reported about the alleged rape incident.

"He denied that Nicole was the one who was inside the van that he drove together with the four US servicemen. But later he admitted that Nicole was the one who was brought inside the van by US serviceman Daniel Smith," said Franco.

Victim’s stepsister claims SBMA official intervened

Subic rape case
Victim’s stepsister claims SBMA official intervened

By Jefferson Antiporda, Manila Times

THE stepsister of the 22-year-old Filipino woman who accused four American Marines of rape claimed an official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority had offered to settle the case.

In her continuing testimony, Ana Liza Franco said a certain Ben Natividad had separately talked to her and her stepsister, the complainant identified only as Nicole, and made the offer by saying, “Magpa-areglo na lang kayo [let’s just have this settled],” while they were undergoing investigation at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority intelligence and investigation office on November 2.

Franco said she and Nicole rejected Natividad’s proposal.

Although Franco did not categorically say so, a man of the same name served as executive assistant to SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga.

She also said that during the investigation, Timoteo Soriano at first denied Nicole was the same girl the four servicemen had with them in the Starex van he drove in the evening of November 1.

“I approached him [Soriano] and said, ‘I hope this will not happen to your children,’” Franco told the court. After that, she added, Soriano admitted that it was indeed Nicole who was with the servicemen. She said Soriano also promised to help them pursue the case.

Nicole, in her complaint, claimed that on November 1, L/Cpl. Daniel Smith sexually assaulted her while the van was being driven around SBMA by Soriano. She said Smith was with three other Americans at the time.

In an interview after the hearing, Evalyn Ursua, the prosecution lawyer who conducted the direct examination, said Nicole’s rejection of the offer only proved that she and her family wanted justice.

“The testimony of Franco is a proof that the victim and her family is not after the money as rumors have it,” Ursua said. “It showed that they are not interested in any kind of settlement and they wanted justice.”

When his turn at cross-examination came, Jose Justiniano, counsel for Keith Silkwood, one of the three servicemen accused as co-conspirators, asked Franco how long she and Nicole consumed their drinks before the alleged rape took place.

Franco said they had 10 to 15 minutes intervals between drinks, to which the lawyer suggested that the complainant, at that pace, could have stayed sober. As to the claim Franco made in a previous testimony that she and Nicole started feeling dizzy from too much alcohol, the lawyer said she should have stopped Christopher Mills, their host, from buying more drinks.

“I find it unusual that two persons who were already drunk did not even ask their companion to stop ordering drinks or requested that they be brought home,” Justiniano added.

At this point, Judge Benjamin Pozon adjourned the hearing and ordered that the cross-examination continue on Tuesday.

SUBIC RAPE: NICOLE'S U.S. MARINE BOYFRIEND BACKS HER CLAIM OF RAPE

SUBIC, June 27, 2006 (STAR) By Michael Punongbayan - The American boyfriend of the Filipino woman who filed rape charges against four United States servicemen has backed her claim and vouched for her character.

"I would describe (her) as a trusting and very honest person. (She) and her family are faithfully religious Roman Catholics," Sergeant Bryan Dalembertian Goodrich of the US Marine Corps said of his 22-year-old girlfriend, who was allegedly raped by his fellow US Marines at the Subic Freeport in Zambales last November.

The STAR learned that Goodrich was among the first to learn how his girlfriend, identified only as "Nicole," was allegedly raped on the night of Nov. 1.

In his statement to a US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) investigator, Goodrich, of the 12th Marines Operations Platoon based at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, stood behind Nicole and even defended her from rumors that his girlfriend worked in a bar.

"She works in her family’s store and she is a hard worker. She has a very close family. To my knowledge, she has never worked in a bar before, only in her family’s cantina," he said.

Goodrich, whose affidavit is now being utilized as written testimonial evidence against Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Dominic Duplantis, Keith Silkwood, and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, said he met Nicole in July 2005 when he went to Zamboanga City for the "Operation Enduring Freedom" joint military exercises.

"We were friends at first but later became girlfriend and boyfriend. I would usually go to the cantina for lunch and visit her," he said in his statement to NCIS agent Douglas Robinson at Camp Hansen.

"We actually became boyfriend and girlfriend on Aug. 27. Just before I returned to Okinawa, we agreed to keep in touch after I left the camp," Goodrich added.

Goodrich said he and Nicole kept in touch through telephone calls and e-mails on an almost daily basis, while also sending letters by post.

About two weeks before the alleged rape, Goodrich said Nicole informed him that she was going to Subic with her sisters along with a certain Carlos, a sailor on the USS Stalkholmes.

He said he even called her two days before the night of the alleged rape and eventually learned about the incident the following day by e-mail and was asked to call.

"When I talked to her, she appeared to be timid, scared and confused. She was also crying. She said that she didn’t know what to say or how to tell me, but she was raped the previous night," Goodrich told the NCIS.

"While she told me this, she continued crying. When she told me this, I was shocked," he said, adding that he consoled Nicole and told her to calm down, but she continued to cry throughout their conversation.

During the weeks following the alleged rape, Goodrich said he and Nicole did not talk much about the case but they continued to communicate. For developments, he relied on the news.

But during this period, Goodrich said Nicole told him about how a nurse in the hospital where she was brought on the night of Nov. 1 treated her badly and told her "something along the lines that maybe she deserved this."

Goodrich told the NCIS that they started talking about the details of the alleged rape in late November, and Nicole told him she was with her sister and Carlos at a club.

Carlos, during the past few hearings at the Makati City regional trial court, has been identified as Carlos Ocasio of the US Navy while the club was Neptune Club.

Nicole, Goodrich said, spoke of a certain Gerald, who accompanied them and with whom she drank alcoholic drinks as if they were competing.

Goodrich said Nicole told him she danced with a guy who was later identified as Smith, one of the accused and the one tagged as the person who allegedly had sex with her.

Nicole told her boyfriend that Smith wanted her to dance with her back against him and added that "she did not like dancing that way."

She also told Goodrich that she drank something called Bull Frog and that after drinking the same, she no longer knew or remembered what was going on.

"I asked her if she blacked out or passed out and I explained the difference. She said she blacked out. She said she might have been carried piggyback to the van," she told Goodrich, referring to the Starex van where the alleged rape took place.

Nicole, not mentioning anything about the actual sex, told her boyfriend that Smith’s weight overwhelmed her and that there was heckling inside the van.

"Other than the heckling that was going on by others in the van, (Nicole) never mentioned anyone else raping her. (Nicole) stated that the next thing she remembered was lying in the streets with her pants down," Goodrich told the NCIS.

Goodrich’s affidavit has been tagged as one of the strongest evidence to be presented by the prosecution since he does not doubt Nicole’s claim of rape.

"She has never told me that she is making this up. I think she is being honest about the incident, given her character," he told the NCIS while even referring to Nicole’s mother, Susan — whose name he spelled as Suzzane in his affidavit — as an outgoing, friendly, and hardworking person.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Smuggling ring eyed in Subic killings

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga -- The name of a former Bureau of Customs (BoC) official has surfaced as among the possible suspects in the murders of a businessman and his aide at the Subic Bay Freeport on Friday, reports reaching the Inquirer said.

A former official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said the name of the former BoC official has cropped up in talks within the local business circles owing to that official’s supposed business transactions with the slain businessman, Uldarico Tubig.

The victim worked as a broker for several companies selling used vehicles at the freeport.

Accounts by security guard Don Garin, a survivor in the 7 p.m. attack, showed that one of the gunmen was known to be a trusted man of the BoC official, the source said.

Investigators from the Central Luzon police have not yet included the BoC official in the list of suspects.

“We’re still checking on that angle but it’s unlikely because it’s been long that they have not had a transaction,” regional police director Chief Supt. Ismael Rafanan said on Sunday.

SBMA senior deputy director for operations Jose Calimlim said reports showed that Tubig, 45, used to work for the former BoC official. It was not yet clear if the official hired him to work at the BoC or in another business he was known to operate.

The Inquirer had tried contacting the BoC official through his three mobile phones, but these were either turned off or out of coverage on Sunday.

A police investigator said the former BoC official should not be dragged in the case because he is being used as a cover by another set of suspects.

Tubig, according to the investigator, was a victim of a group that has wrestled control in the processing of imported cars through the freeport.

Tubig, described to be “good at moving papers at customs,” was removed and later returned by that group when his replacement proved to be ineffective.

Taxes and duties paid for motor vehicles imported through or bought from companies at the freeport grossed P373.5 million from January to August in 2005, making these the second biggest revenue-earning items after oil for the BoC, a report from the agency showed.

The regional trial court branch 72 in Olongapo City issued on March 10, 2004, an injunction sought by the Motor Vehicles Importers Association against the implementation of Executive Order No. 156.

EO 156, which was issued on Dec. 12, 2002, banned the importation of all types of used motor vehicles, parts and components into Subic as part of a comprehensive industrial policy and directions for the government’s motor vehicle development program.

The RTC ordered the Subic customs collector and the SBMA chair to allow the importation and entry of used motor vehicles, the Land Transportation Office to process the registration of the imported vehicles and “in general, to allow the unimpeded entry and importation of used motor vehicles to the Philippines subject only to the payment of the required customs duties.”

The Court of Appeals in February last year affirmed the RTC decision and declared the EO unconstitutional and illegal.

The CA said only Congress can make such prohibition and it was not consistent with Republic Act No. 7227 or the base conversion and development law of 1992.

The Office of the Solicitor General filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court, where the case is pending.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pinoy recruitment for Iraq confirmed

Filipinos recruited by American security firms are training in Clark Field, Pampanga, to improve their shooting skills, the owner of a firing range at the former US air base said Wednesday.

Rosanto Labayog, owner of Unified Sport Inc., told Magandang Umaga Pilipinas that most of the recruits are retired policemen and soldiers.

"We got a chance to talk to the people (recruits) and they are hoping that they would be [deployed] to Afghanistan [or] Iraq," Labayog said.

Labayog said American recruiters are training the Filipinos at his facility. He did not mention how many recruits are using his range.

Labayog also did not identify the firms using his facility but Blackwater USA, Triple Canopy and Dynacorp are reportedly hiring Filipinos through their local agencies.

Blackwater is reportedly paying Filipinos half of the US$60,000 to US$80,000 a year that American recruits get.

The job allegedly includes securing US diplomats and military officials in Iraq and escorting supply convoys.

The recruiters reportedly prefer men with military background or special forces training.

Last week Sen. Rodolfo Biazon revealed that Blackwater and Greystone had recruited 300 Filipinos for deployment in Iraq.


Biazon said he wants the matter investigated by Senate. He said, however, he has to gather more information about the recruitment.

He said his investigation will focus on the constitutional implications of the recruitment activities.

Pinoys free to work as security in Iraq — JPE

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday there was no law that would prohibit Filipinos from working as security men in Iraq.

Neither can they be called "mercenaries," he added.

Enrile said Filipinos who were reportedly being recruited for security work in Iraq by a US firm cannot be called mercenaries.

Asked what he thought of the report that a firm called Blackwater USA was recruiting Filipino mercenaries for the Iraq war, Enrile answered: "Mercenaries, are these people going to war? You know when you talk of mercenaries, my understanding of mercenaries are people of another country or within the country being recruited to do a military work to fight in a war. Now if they are being recruited to perform a job like security, I don’t think they can be called mercenaries."

Blackwater, an American firm reportedly engaged in security services in Iraq, was reportedly recruiting Filipinos at the former US naval base in Subic to serve as mercenaries in Iraq. However, the report was denied by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Feliciano Salonga.

On reporting of the matter, al-Jazeera, the Arab online news service, commented, "There are fears in the country that such an activity would prove dangerous to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos working in the Middle East. Many Filipinos apply for any type of work just to work abroad and earn money."

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Javier, Cojuangco win in Subic

OLONGAPO CITY — Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mark Javier of SUDAC (Siliman University-Dumaguete Archery Club) trimmed Paul Marton dela Cruz, 108-104, in the men’s Olympic Round finals Friday to emerge as national target champion in the Philippine Olympic Festival’s archery competition at the Subic Bay Freeport Football Field here.

Javier, a member of the 23rd SEAG champion Philippine squad, also dominated the elimination round of the recurve division in clinching the title won last year by Marvin Cordero.

Veteran Christian Cubilla settled for the bronze medal.

Newcomer Enrique Cojuangco Jr. of IPK2 pulled a big surprise by winning the men’s bow compound division gold medal. He nosed out comebacking Fermin Barrenchea, 108-107, in the finals.

Gil Gabriel was third.

Carlos Carag ruled the compound event last year, but he did not compete this time.

After his victory, Javier thanked the sponsors, his coach Rowell Merto and archery president Dr. Lenora Fe S. Brawner "for the support and valuable suggestions.’’

Dela Cruz and Barrenchea emerged Masters recurve and compound champions, respectively. Dela Cruz tallied 101 points to beat Cubilla (93) and Gerard Laguardia, while Barrenchea carded 105 to topple Cojuangco (101) and Earl Benjamin Yap.

The other winners were Jose Mari Vargas in Masters recurve division, Vicente Luis Sandoval (Masters compound), Ariel Cuevas (Standard), Markjo Vincent Velora (Junior), Marco Limcauco (Cadet-compound), Elijah Bismark (Cadet-recurve) and Jhoon Rhee Hongitan (Novice).
Manila Bulletin

Lifting of breeding ban on white shrimp sought

The Philippine Shimp Industry Inc. yesterday called for the lifting of the ban on the breeding and culture of Litopeneaus vannamei or white shrimp, an exotic species believed to hasten the industry's goal to increase shimp production.

PHILSHRIMP president Roberto Gatuslao told the DAILY STAR that representatives from all sectors of the shrimp industry across the country, including hatchery operators and feed millers, supported the resolution calling for the Department of Agriculture's approval for the culture of white shrimp in the country.

We are asking the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to facilitate the lifting of the ban, he said at the conclusion of the 5th National Shrimp Congress in Bacolod yesterday.

BFAR, headed by Director Malcolm Sarmiento, had recommended the local breeding and culture of white shrimp after research on hatchery and grow-out conducted in farms in Pangasinan and Zambales yielded positive results as presented by Interim Executive Director Westly Rosario of the National Fisheries Research Development Institute at the Congress.

This will enable us to produce more shrimps, Gatuslao said.

He said that the industry continues to search for established technologies designed to promote better production with consideration on resources conservation, and new markets to sustain and enhance its growth to augment income of farmers, traders, exporters, processors and feed millers.

Sarmiento said on Wednesday that years after the ban on L. vannamei in the country, Agriculture Secretary Artemio Panganiban had made the "big, bold move" of allowing experts to proceed on the research on white shrimp culture. BFAR is adapting a five-year development plan for the shrimp industry that will be implemented from 2006 to 2010 to achieve higher production

Sarmiento said that the shrimp development plan and the culture of L. vannamei are two the components that will bring profitability, sustainability and global competitiveness in the shrimp industry. DA has created a Shrimp Task Force and is implementing a comprehensive action plan to control diseases like the White Spot Syndrome Virus.

The agency has also intensified training and extension operations and now have established standards in bacteriology, fry quality assessment, and water and soil quality.*NLG - Daily Star

Pimentel wants probe on entry of Malaysian firm in consortium

By MARIO B. CASAYURAN, Manila Bulletin

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. sought yesterday a hearing by the Congressional Oversight Committee on Power on the questionable entry of a Malaysian firm into the YNN Pacific Consortium which reneged on its contract with a state-owned power firm following its successful 1.7-million bid last December for the coal-fired Masinloc power plant in Masinloc, Zambales.

Pimentel said the committee should also look into the hand of former President Fidel Ramos in the proposed entry of Ranhill Berhad, a Malaysian power utility firm, into the country’s power sector.

He sought the revocation of the sale of the 600-megawatt Masinloc plant to YNN which reneged on its payment of the $ 277-million upfront fee to the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp.

Pimentel, a former Senate President, did not elaborate on why the committee should look into Ramos’ hand on the proposed entry of Ranhill.

The congressional oversight committee is cochaired by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

The political opposition had criticized the controversial contracts entered into by Ramos during his administration in 19921998 with independent power producers (IPPs) as monthly power bills of consumers increased dramatically.

The IPP contracts were signed by the Ramos administration to solve the acute power shortage that hit the country starting at the later part of the Aquino administration.

Ranhill was recently quoted as saying that it, through its board of directors, entered last June 15 into a share sale agreement to acquire the entire equity interest in YNN for a total of $ 8 million from the existing shareholders of YNN and to subscribe for new shares in YNN.

Sen. Joker Arroyo, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said YNN appears to be incapable of honoring its purchase agreement with PSALM as it does not even have a decent office.

Pimentel said YNN Pacific’s performance bond — originally amounting to $ 11.2 million and later increased to $ 14 million — should be forfeited in favor of the government in accordance with the terms and conditions of the sale agreement.

"YNN Pacific’s agreement with PSALM should be cancelled and its bond should be confiscated," Pimentel said.

Arroyo had stressed that the PSALM-YMM Pacific contract must be rescinded because YNN has apparently no technical or financial capability to implement the project.

Pimentel said a new bidding should be held since the frantic efforts of YNN Pacific to look for a new partner for the infusion of much-needed capital only confirmed the criticism that the winning bidder does not have the financial muscle or technical expertise to run the coal-fired power plant.

"Ranhill Berhard should be treated as a new offer if qualified, it should be taken seriously by PSALM. The law on failed bidding should be applied on the projected Masinloc sale to YNN," he added.

Pimentel also said that other considerations should be imposed in the entry of any new investor so that the pollution emanating from the Masinloc operations are reduced or eliminated under the new management.

Provisions or the disposal of coal dust should be provided for in the new agreement, he said.

Sen. Magsaysay cites father’s formula in fighting insurgency

SEN. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. on Saturday urged the Arroyo government to provide livelihood assistance in the countryside to dissuade people from joining the communist New People’s Army.

Magsaysay said that part of the P1-billion fund to fight communist insurgency should be used by the Armed Forces to free the people in the countryside from the shackles of poverty if the government wants to be successful in its campaign.

“The AFP should provide the farmers security. It’s like getting the hearts and minds of the people in rural communities by giving their economic needs, provide them social justice, food, shelter and education,” Magsaysay said in a radio interview.

He said that when his father, the late President Ramon Magsaysay, was the defense chief in 1950, he was successful in dealing with the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) which organized the People’s Liberation army using both military and political solutions.

“Social justice is an important issue that government should take note of. My father approached the people and gave them lands. He also talked to landowners and was successful in making the production sharing to 50-50 from 70-30 in favor of the landlords,” Magsaysay said.

President Magsaysay’s campaign was considered as one of the most successful anti-guerilla efforts, since the Hukbalahap realized they cannot survive without the support from the people who received lands and tools for supporting the government.

Magsaysay, who had just returned after a successful prostate surgery abroad, said his father also ordered the soldiers to treat the people with respect.

“There should also a reorganization in the armed forces if it wants to win the battle against the communists. If they failed to do so, if they failed to provide social justice, they will never win,” he said.

Magsaysay urged the government to continue peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front and the Communist Party of the Philippines as part of the solution to address communist insurgency. “It’s better for them to talk, than to shoot.” Manila Times

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Grudge, business rivalry eyed in Subic slays

By Allan Macatuno - INQ7

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT-- Police are looking at personal grudge and business rivalry as among the possible motives behind the killing of a businessman and his aide here on Friday night.

Inspector Lolito Tejada, police Sation B commander in nearby Olongapo City, said businessman Uldarico Tubig, 45, who engaged in the importation of used vehicles, was shot dead by one of five assailants at around 7 p.m. as he was about to board his car.

His security aide, Rommel Pineda, was also killed when he exchanged fire with the assailants, who fled aboard a black car. Another security officer working for Tubig, Don Garin, was wounded in the shooting.

Jose Calimlim, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority senior deputy administrator for operations, said Tubig was seen talking to some people at around 5 p.m. in a restaurant in Olongapo City.
Quoting SBMA police investigators, Calimlim said Tubig went to his office at the Delki Auto Corp. on Boton Highway here at about 6 p.m. after an apparent transaction.

At around 7.p.m., the five men approached Tubig and one of them shot him from close range.
"This was the first time that a businessman was killed inside the freeport zone," Calimlim said.
Senior Pollice Officer 4 Primo de Ocampo, a technician at the Olongapo City crime laboratory, said police recovered 17 empty M-16 rifle shells from the crime scene. Stray bullets also hit a Mitsubishi Pajero parked outside the victim's office.

Calimlim said Tubig's employees recognized one of the suspects, naming him by the alias "Vanguard."

"But we still do not know how the (assailants) were able to elude our police officers. It is most likely that they are still inside the freeport since we have intensified our security in all entry and exit points," Calimlim said.

Earthquake Drill

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Chairman of the City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC), Mayor James "Bong" Gordon, Jr. arrives on scene and immediately took charge in the earthquake disaster simulation/drill held at Olongapo Wesley School last June 20, 2006.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

In another photo, Angie Layug, Head of the Disaster Management Office maps out plans to safely evacuate the students and gives instructions to field supervisors to properly respond to various scenarios given by evaluators from the National and Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils

Call Center Job Opportunities and Training for Work Scholarship Program

The “PGMA-Training for Work Scholarship Program” are now accepting candidates from various regions of the country to undergo a free “Call Center Finishing Course


The government had allotted P500M for this project which will benefit 100,000 worker-applicants.


Aspirants are cordially invited to a “Pre-Assessment for Call Center Agents” presently being conducted by TESDA in cooperation with the Local Government of Olongapo City headed by Mayor James Gordon, Jr.


The appraisal is conducted for free and it is a simple 7-minute verbal test using an ordinary telephone with long distance capability. Scoring is fully automated and computerized. After the
test, applicants will be categorized as “Hireables,” “Near-hire,” and “Not qualified.” Test results are available within ten minutes after taking the evaluation.


Hireables” will be immediately endorsed for employment to a call center;


Near-hires” shall be given a scholarship certificate (worth P5,000) to a Finishing Course for Call Center Agents in a TESDA-registered center;


Those who will be assessed “Not qualified” can still avail of the aptitude test to be given by TESDA to determine in which other jobs may be suited for them, and for which will likewise be given a training scholarship certificate.


For more information, please visit or call the Office of Councilor Edwin J. Piano at 222-2661, 222-3301, 222-3022, 222-2206, 222-2845, 223-8016, 224-8390 or 222-5401.


Have two pieces of 2x2 pictures ready and bring a valid ID. This opportunity is until JUNE 29, 2006 only, so please act promptly.



"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy."


Dale Carnegie


Please share this information with your contacts . . .

SC ruling on motorcycle ban gets varied interpretations

By ARIS R. ILAGAN, Manila Bulletin

Officials of several motorcycle groups in the country recently expressed two interpretations of the Supreme Court decision on an order that bans all types of motorcycles from limited access highways such as the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways. The order was issued years ago by the Department of Public Works and Communications (DPWC).


While one group expressed dismay over the SC ruling that affirms the validity of the ban, another group interpreted the order to mean that the expressways have been de-classified as "limited access highways" and therefore motorcycles can now use its roads.

In the first group, Retired Police Director Fernando Pace, founder of the Law Enforcers Riders Association of the Philippines (LERAP), was surprised over the decision of the SC, adding that the government authorities should recognize the growing number of motorcycle riders as an off-shoot of the never ending rise of fuel costs.

Pace, along with other top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who are still in active service, joined the graduates of the PNP Traffic Management Group (TMG) riding school for their graduation rites in Subic Bay Metropolitan Area (SBMA) last weekend.

The convoy of about 50 motorcycles with engine displacements from 400cc to 1200cc passed through the North

Luzon Expressway amid news reports that the SC, in a full court decision written by Justice Antonio Carpio, upheld the old DPWC ruling that bans all kinds of motorcycles along the Limited Access Highways.

Among those who joined the motorcycle convoy were Chief Superintendent Errol Pan, director of the PNP-TMG; Chief Superintendent Isidro Lapena, chief of the PNP Directorial Staff ; Bureau of Customs commissioner Ralph Lantion; and Transportation and Communication assistant secretary and concurrent Land Transportation Office-National Capital Region (NCR) regional director Reynaldo Berroya.

Deputy Director General Oscar Calderon, PNP deputy chief of staff for administration, who was supposed to ride with the convoy, also has expressed concern on the effects of the Supreme Court ruling on motorcycle enthusiasts.

Berroya, who is president of the Lawin Motorcycle Club, was saddened with the decision of the Supreme Court but refused to comment on the issue. "I do not want to pre-empt the move of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) under Secretary Leandro Mendoza being chairman of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB)," he said.

Sources said that officials of the TRB will meet with the management of the NLEX and the SLEX with regard to the recent SC ruling.

On the other hand, another group, the Motorcycle Philippines Federation (MCPF), interpreted the same SC ruling in a different light. They welcomed the High Tribunal’s move of "voiding the DPWC Order Nos. 74 (1993), 215 (1998) and 123 (2001) and the TRB’s Revised Rules and Regulations on Limited Access Facility (1997).

"With this sweeping decision, the North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and Manila-Coastal Toll Road and other highways have been declassified as Limited Access Highways, paving the way for all motorcycles to legally ply these roads," Frank Woolf, MCPF director of administration, said in a published statement.

The MCPF represents some 150,000 motorcyclists in 650 motorcycle clubs throughout the country.

The MCPF claimed that Department Order Nos. 74, 215 designated the SLEX, NLEX and Coastal Road as Limited Access Highways administered through the DPWC’s Administrative Order No. 1 (1968). Under AO No. 1, the MCPF explained that motorcycles are banned from Limited Access Highways.

On the other hand, the DPWH Department Order No. 123 banned motorcycles with engine displacement below 400cc while allowing those with large displacements to use the Limited Access Highways. Also, Department Order 123 was twice declared illegal by the Makati Regional Trial Court prior to the Supreme Court decision.

Last September 21, 2005, President Arroyo ordered DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza to look into the problem of motorcycles banned from tollways and to bring the Philippines in line with international standards.

"The motorcycle community has for many years been fighting the ban, put in place by misconceptions and lack of understanding. This forced riders out of the safer roads and into alternative roads that are some of the most dangerous in the country, which have been estimated to be 200 times more dangerous than the tollways," the MCPF said.

Based on their understanding of the SC ruling, the MCPF said that the High Court voided the old DPRC regulation on motorcycles and it gave the DoTC the authority to decide on whether or not to allow motorcycles to use the expressways.

The DoTC, they added, will also determine whether all motorcycles will be allowed access to the tollways or only to a certain range of engine displacement.

The MCPF, which has been asking government authorities to allow the motorcycles with engine displacement from 100cc and above provided they are wearing the required safety gear, has sought an audience with the DoTC officials with regard to the issue, sources said.

Friday, June 23, 2006

ROTARY CLUB INDUCTION of OFFICERS

ROTARIANS: Ang mga bagong halal na opisyales ng Rotary Club of Olongapo kasama si Mayor Bong Gordon sa kanilang isinagawang Induction of Officers nitong ika-20 ng Hunyo 2006 sa Max’s Restaurant.


INDUCTION of OFFICERS ng
ROTARY CLUB OF OLONGAPO, TAGUMPAY

Naging matagumpay ang Induction of Officers ng Rotary Club of Olongapo na ginanap nitong Hunyo 20, 2006 sa Max’s Restaurant.

Dinaluhan ito ng District Governor ng RI District 3790 na si Florentino “Bishop” Cinense, ang kauna-unahang obispong namuno sa distrito ng Rotary International, na siyang nagsagawa ng panunumpa sa katungkulan ng mga bagong opisyales. Kinilala ang mga bagong opisyales ng Rotary Club of Olongapo sa pangunguna ng Presidente nitong si “Ute” Urbano. Dumalo din dito si Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. na isa sa mga Past Presidents ng organisasyong ito.

Ang Rotary Club of Olongapo ang pinaka-unang Rotary Club sa lungsod na naitatag noon pang 1959. Kinikilala ang Rotary Club sa buong mundo bilang isang mapitagang civic organization kung saan binubuo ito ng mga miyembro na karamihan ay mga negosyante o propesyonal na naglalayong tumugon sa mga pangangailangan ng lipunan. Kaya nga’t buhay at totoo ang “Service above Self” na siyang international motto sa bawat proyektong pinag-uukulan ng panahon at pondo ng Rotary Club.
City Public Affairs Office

OLONGAPO CITY NATIONAL AWARDEE SA PEACE AND ORDER

PEACE & ORDER AWARD: Tinanggap ni Mayor Bong Gordon at Kgd. Elmo Aquino mula kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang 2004 Best Peace and Order Council Plaque of Recognition para sa Olongapo nitong ika-21 ng Hunyo 2006 sa Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace.


OLONGAPO CITY NATIONAL AWARDEE SA PEACE AND ORDER

Tinanggap ng Lungsod ng Olongapo ang minimithing Plaque of Recognition para sa 2004 Best Peace and Order Council buhat kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sa Rizal Hall ng Palasyo ng Malacañang nitong ika-21 ng Hunyo 2006.

Sa isinagawang awarding katuwang ng Pangulong Arroyo sina DILG at National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) & National Police Office Commission (NPOC) Chairman Ronaldo V. Puno at NAPOLCOM Vice-chairperson & Executive Officer and NPOC Secretary General Commissioner Imelda M. Crisol-Roces.

Isa-isang ipinakilala ni Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita ang mga awardees kabilang si City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. kasama si Kgd. Anselmo Aquino na tumanggap ng plake para sa lungsod.

Matatandaan na matapos makamit ng lungsod ang Peace and Order Council Award for Highly Urbanized City category sa buong Region 3, ay naging pambato ang Olongapo para sa mas mataas na level ng kompetisyon.

Bagamat unang pagkakataon pa lamang na mapabilang ang lungsod sa prestiyosong council award partikular na sa national level ay naka-bangga na nang Olongapo ang mga malalaki at progresibong siyudad ng Makati, Bacolod, Davao at Naga.

‘’Katulad ng ating slogan na Fighting for Excellence ay hindi titigil ang lungsod sa paglaban. Dapat ay Fight to win at Fighting for excellence. Ipakita natin na ang Olongapo ay tahimik at ligtas na lugar,’’ wika ni Mayor Bong Gordon.

Ang City Integrated Area/Community Public Safety Plan (IA/CPSP) ng taong 2004 ang isang pinagbatayan ng mga hurado, kung saan dito nakasaad ang partisipasyon ng ibat-ibang ahensiya ng lokal na pamahalaan tulad ng Philippine National Police (PNP) para sa crime prevention, law enforcement at counter insurgency.

Kabilang rin ang Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Dept. of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Dept. of Health (DOH), Dept. of Social Welfere and Development (DSWD) Bureau of Fire Protection, City Disaster Management Office (CDMO) at ang mga barangay para sa civil defense.

‘’Ang pagkilalang tinanggap buhat sa Malacañang ay nagpapakita lamang na ang mga proyekto at programa ng lungsod sa peace, law and order, public safety at security ay epektibo partikular na sa pamamahala ni Mayor Gordon at sa pagkaka-isa ng mamamayan ng Olongapo,’’ wika ni Kgd. Aquino sa tinanggap na pagkilala.
City Public Affairs Office


 

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