Archive for November 14, 2010

Analysis of the Hundred Islands’ Brouhaha


By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA

What is the similarity of a corporation and a Local Government Unit (LGU) like a province, city, and a town?

Both of them are corporate bodies that can sue or be sued.

What is the difference between a corporation and an LGU?

The former brings tens of millions of pesos of profit a year to its share and stock holders.

The latter only brings more miseries to its constituents because its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) cum mayor is either/ both incompetent or/and corrupt.

That’s why it is refreshing to read that Dagupan City – under Mayor Benjie S. Lim and Administrator Vlad Mata-has just breached the 50% barrier in terms of the collection of local taxes and its receipts of the Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA) from the national government.

Half of the allocation of the city for the year 2011 budget of P568 million would come from local revenues.

This is a far cry to other LGUs that are virtually dependent by 70% of their funds from the National government.

CEO of these public corporations should emulate Dagupan how she ekes out more local funds to bolster her wherewithal for the good of the people there.

***

Is the recent acrimonious word-war between Pangasinan governor Amado T. Espino and Alaminos City Hernani “Nani” Braganza a prelude to the gubernatorial race in 2013?

Espino’s TFK accused Braganza

This started when Task Force Kalikasan (TFK) under retired Col. Tom Cabigas made an accusation, in a forum sponsored by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas in Dagupan City, that the famed Hundred Islands in Alaminos has been desecrated.

Cabigas said that illegal fish pens and dikes (made of hundreds of years to grow precious corals) vandalized the sea between the islets. His expose’ was buttressed by aerial photograph and video.

He added too that the already discolored water there emits an obnoxious smell and has a high level of pollution.

It was learned in that forum that three big time fish pen operators are surnamed Braganza.

Any Tom, Dick, and Atung who were there would construe that the fireworks lit by Cabigas were digs against Mayor Nani.

Mayor Braganza rebutted and accused TFK and the governor

But just like Chester W. Nimitz at the war of a coral atoll named Midway, Braganza hurriedly called a press conference and show what he got, too.

Aside from the ocular inspection to the site denounced by Cabigas and company, Braganza emphatically refuted each of the allegations hurled by TFK against him.

Braganza presented maps, witnesses, and his rabble rousing talent to disprove the accusations.

“Exhibit A”: Mayor Nani said the picture disseminated by the province is a hoax. He said the nuisance dikes have been enlarged through a computer Photo Shop by a media man working with the governor.

“Pati iyung dike pina-puti para mag-mukhang coral”.

“Exhibit B”: He had all the lands and water of Alaminos taken through an ortho-photo map that he said the city contracted with renowned contractor FFF Cruz for more than P4 million.

The map is a documentation of each parcel of land and water of the city for tax purposes.

Now he used this to rebuke every square-inch of lies his adversaries peddled against him and the Islands.

He laid out both the photo taken by Cabigas together with the zoomed picture taken by the P4 million technological marvels for everybody to judge.

Sans its white color, he said the dikes have already been there for 20 years.

He explained the legal topography of the islands and the islets owned by a barangay based-Bolo Development Corporation (BOLODECO) through a Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) granted in January 1993. The issuance of the CLOA is still under litigation with the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB). This happened after the Philippine Tourism Authority sued Bolodeco decades ago.

When he brought the media men to the disputed areas, he showed that the dikes there were not made of corrals but of lime stones taken from the mountains’ nearby. The village chieftain of Hundred Islands that includes Bolodeco said that corrals could not be used as dike since they are light and would float.

“Exhibit C”: Both Mayor Nani and his administrator retired Col Elmer Panabang (whom Mayor Nani humorously introduced: “Kung may Col. Pat Orduna si governor, may Col Panabang naman ako”) explained the topography where Hundred Islands National Park (HINP), BOLODECO, and the Braganzas (his kins) and other people’s fish pens are located.

Their explanation about the geography of the HINP can be likened to a sock where the toe part leans on the left side. The sock is divided into the upper and lower parts. The upper part is the tattered part composed of the more than 120 islets and Bolodeco that is connected to the peninsula. This area is considered as the National Park under Presidential Decree No. 1173 issued in 1977 that abrogates all leases and canceling land titles and patents covering portions of Hundred Islands National Park.

The lower part is not included under PD No.1173 thus can be explored for commercial purposes. This part is where huge fish pens owned by the Braganzas, Milans, and others are located. These are the areas that were misconstrued by TFK and Rep. Boying Celeste to have been part of the protected area that was averred by PD No.1173.

As Braganza ended his passionate harangue, he concluded it with a snide: “Si Governor Espino and Congressman Celeste and nagpapa-baho ng Hundred Islands.” He accused them of having undermined the sensitive tourism industry of the city.

Espino-Baraan Counter-Counter Accusations

The following day I was monitoring if the Governor, or TFK, or Butch Velasco (Provincial Information Officer) would call a press conference and a tour too for the same media guys who were invited by Braganza earlier to the area to show that TFK has been telling the truth.

But nothing happens. What I saw the following dusk was the governor on TV rebutting what Mayor Braganza has said the day earlier. He disclosed that Mayor Nani could not say he was “nakuryente” (on the huge fish pens bugaboos that Nani said was fed to him by Congressman Celeste).

He said he explained only what Col. Cabigas exposed at the KBP about the presence of illegal structures; He took offense to Mayor Nani’s accusation that “kahit isang singkong duling” he has not contributed to the welfare of Alaminos.

He instead turned the table against Braganza by not inviting him in the city.

He assailed the mayor:“At hindi siya nag-a-attend ng meeting. Siya na ang pina-ka magaling diyan (Alaminos)!.”

In a press release from the province I received via e-mail last Friday, Provincial Administrator Raffy Baraan said that all the islands clustered around the area are part of the Hundred Islands. He assumed that if the big-time fishponds owned by the Braganzas are within the islands, most likely they must be part of the National Park.

The e-mail said also: “The other issue that boggles the mind, according to Mr. Baraan, is the fact that the Bolo Development Corporation (Bolodeco) was granted the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) last January 1993 despite the issuance by then President Corazon Aquino of an Executive Order on February 18, 1992 that excluded national parks and other protected areas from land distribution.”

My Conclusion

For me, as long as TFK could not show to the media men the corpus delicti they took via camera and video, and they could not bring the media men to the site of the “crime” to smell and see the foul smell of a polluted sea water, then they would be suspected to play a mind game that goes pffft.

On Raffy’s statement that big time fishponds owned by the Braganzas are most likely part of the National Park. My analysis hinges on Exhibit C: There are two parts of the HINP. The upper part that is a public domain and beyond the commerce of men, and the lower part that can be explored for commercial purposes and where the Braganzas et al. fishponds are located.

These statements came from Braganza and Panabang themselves.

On the superiority of the CLOA, E.O of February 18, 1992, and PD No.1173 the e-mail contained: They are beyond the power of the provincial government to interpret as the case is being litigated by DARAB.

Any move by anybody to demolish those illegal structures would be construed by DARAB as contemptuous.

Even how one sees the sores these structures at Bolodeco bring, no one can touch them unless the quasi-judicial body that heard them comes with a final decision.

(Send comments to totomortz@yahoo.com)

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November 14, 2010 at 10:52 am 3 comments

HUNDRED ISLANDS MAP


Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza shows a map of the Hundred Islands National Park during a press conference last November 9 at the Island Tropic Restaurant. Braganza said that the fishpond of the Bolodeco has not been operating for years contrary to claims that they were newly-built.CESAR RAMIREZ

November 14, 2010 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

HUNDRED ISLANDS FISHPONDS :Provincial officials to go after DAR, PTA, DENR


LINGAYEN -The provincial government cleared the city government of Alaminos of responsibility of allowing fishponds at the Hundred Islands National Park, and has trained its guns at the different agencies which allegedly allowed the structures to operate in the country’s first national park.

Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan said the fishponds were established long before the city government took over the management of the HINP in 2004 through Executive Order 436.

He said, “It is admitted that the (structures) were there before Alaminos took over, so Alaminos has nothing to do with allowing structures to be constructed in Hundred Islands.”

“ (But) we wanted to dig deeper into problems such as how the structures came about, and why such activities were allowed in an area supposedly protected under the national integrated protected areas law,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.

Mayor Hernani Braganza said the city government could not act on the structures because they are covered by titles and are therefore private properties. But they still had to conform with the environment laws of the city for them to be granted permits to operate, he said.

Provincial officials last week held a press conference on November 4 announcing that new structures have proliferated inside the Hundred Islands, but later backtracked and said the structures were actually the 46-hectare fishpond of the Bolo Development Cooperative (Bolodeco).

Several agencies are responsible for the establishment of fishery structures inside the park. It was the Philippine Tourism Authority that granted a contract of lease to the Bolodeco on November 3, 1980, for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.

The Department of Agrarian Reform granted the Bolodeco a certificate of land ownership in 1993. The PTA asked the DAR adjudication board to nullify the CLOA in 1999.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also issued fishpond lease agreement to private persons covering 45 hectares since 1973, while 70 hectares are operated without any tenurial instrument issued by the government, he said.

“How come over a very long period these structures are still there? Why are they being operated as fishpond concessions, and why they look more improved than before?” Baraan said.

He said the provincial government is going to ask the Department of Agrarian Reform’s adjudication board (DARAB) why after more than 10 years, it has not decided yet on the petition to nullify the CLOA.

It will also inquire from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources why it allowed fishpond operation in the park which is a protected area.

In another press conference, Braganza said he welcomed the investigation of the problem which “has been here even when I was still a college student.”

“So nagtataka ako why biglang pumutok ang’ hundred islands vandalized’, as if it only happened during my watch as mayor,” he said.

A press release of the provincial government quoted an official of Bolodeco saying four Braganzas own fishponds at the islands. It also quoted an Inquirer story dated September 9, 000 that mentioned two Braganzas as fishpond operators.

“Not true. My relatives are not bad people. They own fishponds but these are located at the mainland, not at the HINP, and they have been operating those fishponds for decades already,” he pointed out.

He claimed that even a member of the provincial government’s Task Force Kalikasan, retired police office Tommy Cabigas, owns a fishpond in the city, but outside of the islands.

Braganza also showed an ortho-photo map of Alaminos showing the positions of the private fishponds. “I know the map of Alaminos by heart. I know where the problems are, including balding mountains.”

“There is no way you can see the fishponds when you go to the Hundred Islands, so yong sasabihin nila na mabaho ang Hundred Islands, imposible yon,” he said

A media tour at the Bolodeco site showed that there were no activities there, and a dike has been breached where water freely flows in and out of the pond.

November 14, 2010 at 9:53 am Leave a comment


November 14, 2010 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Congress can make village polls non-partisan– Castañeda


By Mortz C. Ortigoza

LINGAYEN – Mayor Ernesto Castaneda said that it is up to Congress if it wants to change the non-partisan clause of a law that bars political parties to meddle in the barangay election.

He was reacting to observations that elective officials in other towns and cities in the country interfere in the village poll.

Section 38 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that the village election shall be non-partisan and shall be conducted in an expeditious and inexpensive manner.

“Lahat ng mga leaders and elective officials naman while its true na non-partisan ang election makikita naman nila na besides meron mga pulitiko na nagsusuporta, may mga anak ng kandidato, may mga relatives, mga close friends,” Castaneda said.

The law stresses that “No person who files a certificate of candidacy shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party or any other organization; and no political party, political group, political committee, civic, religious, professional, or other organization or organized group of whatever nature shall intervene in his nomination or in the filing of his certificate of candidacy or give aid or support, directly or indirectly, material or otherwise favorable to or against his campaign for election.”

The Code exempts however a member of a political party as long as he is a member of the family of a candidate within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.

Castaneda commented on those high elective officials who are members of political parties: ”Pero nakikita ko naman na hindi sila nagpupunta sa mga nag-ka-campaign. Maybe if they (village’s bets) are asking assistance somehow para di lang mapapahiya iyung lumalapit meron naman siguro na kaunting maiibigay din. Hindi naman magta-tampo kung sino ang matalo.”

After the conclusion of the village polls, the mayor advised the protagonists to extend an open arm to each other for the sake of the welfare of the community.

He said that almost all of the village chiefs here who won the October 25 poll are his allies.

He added that he would remain at the sidelines in the forthcoming election of the president of the Association of the Barangay Captains in this town.

November 14, 2010 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

Rosales VM Pajela cites accomplishments


By Virgilio Sar. Maganes

ROSALES- After four months in office as the second top local executive in this town, Vice Mayor Dominador “Jojo” E. Pajela, Jr. cited various accomplishments that helped in alleviating the lives of his town mates.

The projects, Pajela said, were either funded by the municipal government through the municipal development fund (MDF) of the Office of the Vice Mayor and out of his personal funds from July to October 2010.

“ There were many projects that were requested in my office from various schools and barangays . With limited funds, I have to prioritize their funding in order to accommodate them particularly those needing immediate action,” he said.

The completed projects range from funding the improvement of barangay halls and day care centers, installation of shallow wells for barangays and schools, regravelling of barangay roads, sports development support to the youth composed of basketball balls, volleyball balls and nets and donations of wall clocks to schools.

Barangays that were benefited from the installation of shallow wells were Carmen East, Carmen West, Tomana West, Zone I, Cabalaoangan Norte, Cabalaoangan Sur, San Vicente, San Pedro East, Rabago, Pangaoan, Camanggaan, San Bartlome, San Luis, San Angel, Sation District and Casanicolasan. Shallow wells were also installed in Palakipak Elementary School and Guiling- Coliling National High School.

Barangays San Isidro and Tomana East had their barangay roads regravelled.

The barangay halls and day care centers of Carmen East, Zone II, Zone III and SDn Antonio Village were also improved through materials support and repainting.

Sports equipment were provided in barangays Carmen West, Carmen East, San Pedro East, Pangaoan, San Bartolome, Zone I, Zone III, Zone IV and Rabago.

“ The bulk of cash donations are solicitations from indigent families and those needing burial assistance. I cannot help but to give them financial assistance from my own funds as part of my social obligation to them as their municipal official, “ Pajela said.

Being a medical practitioner, Pajela conducted medical and dental missions during every third Sunday of the month in the town with services composed of free X-ray, ECG, urinalysis, dental tooth extraction and minor surgeries.

He said that these medical- dental services are funded out of his personal funds to defray expenses for medicines, professional fees, x-ray films, medical mobile van, food and accommodation of the volunteer medical staff.

“ During my four month-period in office, I have already spent P 240, 000.00 for the medical-dental missions in easing financial burdens of the Rosalenians seeking medical services and consultations, “ he said.

Pajela’s campaign platform in the May 10, 2010 elections was H.E.L.P.S , an acronym for Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Order and Sports.

“ I have to live up to that platform of service to our people. Kailangang tayo ay “ Gumawa, Hindi Ngawa ng Ngawa”,” Pajela further said.

November 14, 2010 at 9:21 am Leave a comment

Work ethics of public officials


In my work as a roving news reporter in the 5th and 6th districts of Pangasinan, I am very observant on the work ethics and attitudes of local executives. I regularly monitor their work habit not only in their dealings with media people and their constituents but also on how they perform their job as elected officials.

Many local executives in these parts of the province (that include vice mayors and councilors) who are not supposed to be in their positions. They are either regularly absent in their office or you could hardly meet them for interviews. They have many alibis and excuses that sometimes becoming irrational and at most irritating for a media man like me.

I don’t have to name names here who are the “lazy” local executives, for they know who they are. How many times that I’ve been in their offices only to get information that the mayor is out or in official business and nobody attends to the many constituents in their offices. The only thing you will hear from a staff is “ bumalik na lang kayo”- a statement that you will never know when or when you return you do not know if you will have the liberty of taking a minute or so for his presence and attention..

Sometimes I am thinking what kind of officials we have in the province. They’re not true to their promises during the election campaign that they will serve their people with promptness and good service.

Who will not feel frustrated seeing a municipal mayor who’s in his office taking a nap with two feet raised on top of his table? Who will not be irritated waiting for almost an hour when his staff assured you that you can talk to him and afterwards tell you that he is busy attending to paper works? The mayor has been a perennial winner in his town. He’s been a vice mayor and he took over the rein of the town when the term of his brother-mayor expired. Or, may be this mayor is suffering from “ media pruritis,” an intense itchiness whenever he will see a media man especially belonging to the “ media kuno” group with large media IDs hanging over their breasts. To think it deeper, this mayor might have suffered nasty experience from these “ media-mediahan” that he thinks all media people are not worth to talk with. Gising Mayor! Otherwise I will let your name be printed here in the next issue.

Be that as it may, there are also municipal mayors in the 5th and 6th districts who are worthy of commendation. Aside of their being accessible to media people, they have work ethics worthy of emulation by their peers and other local executives. These are the mayors who are true to their calling for genuine public service.

Top in my list is Urdaneta City Mayor Amadeo Gregorio “ Bobom” Perez IV. He is a hands-on local executive who reports to his office before 8:00 am and leaves at 12:00 noon. He returns to his office at 1:00 pm and the last one to leave after 5:00 pm. All callers are being attended to with smiles on their faces after leaving the mayor’s office.

Bobom exudes leadership dynamism. His name plate is devoid of the word “honorable” before his name with his position written not as city mayor but a mere “ public servant”. “I am a public servant. I want to serve our people,” he said in one of my interview with him why the word “public servant”.

Hs critics during the election campaign were wrong when they claimed that Bobom will be working in the shadow of his father then City Mayor Amadeo R. Perez, Jr. He is indeed his own man. Every time I asked about his father Bobom has to say: “ I have no knowledge of his whereabouts as he is busy with his own work as Chairman of Manila Economic and Cooperation Office (MECO).” Indeed, he leads by example to his staff and city employees by wearing also his ID in attending his office work.

Who will not be mesmerized with the transformation of Urdaneta City now? Go there and see for yourself.

Second in my list is the neophyte mayor of Villasis Libradita Go-Abrenica. Like Bobom, she proved her critics wrong during the election campaign that she will just be in the shadow of her husband three-termer Mayor Nonato S. Abrenica. Like Bobom, this lady mayor has her own brand of leadership- approachable and hands-on in her approach to development.

Of course, Mayor Dita is my town mate and I might be branded as biased. But no sir! If I don’t believe in her leadership, I will be the first one to throw criticisms at her. But then, she did not fail us in the town. She really deserved the mandate give by the Villasinians.

With the nine years service of her husband Nato, Villasis has been transformed to what it is today.- a first class town with eye popping and awe inspiring edifices. Who will not be inspired of the newly renovated Catholic and municipal cemeteries in Villasis? It took Mayor Dita the political will to implement a project which has not been tried by many of her predecessors (except Mayor Nato). Last All Saints” Day, many cemetery goers have only good words to the new administration of Villasis. The cemeteries’ transformation is just one of the lined-up projects. Soon, Villasis will have a livelihood training center and dairy farm.

The next election in 2016 is still far away and I know Mayor Dita will have more surprises to offer to her town mates in terms of projects and human development.

In 6th district, the same brand of leadership could be attributed to Asingan Mayor Heide Ganigan-Chua, San Nicolas Mayor Leoncio “Jangget: Saldivar III, Natividad Mayor Rodrigo “Cocoy” Rafael and San Quintin Mayor Romulo “Mulong” Antolin. I will be writing about them too in my next columns.

To my readers, be observant of your local officials. I will offer this corner to be your link to your town mates. Please give me feedbacks about what they are doing. We deserve good governance and genuine public service.

(for comments, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com

November 14, 2010 at 9:20 am Leave a comment


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