Priest asks for unwed teen mom’s forgiveness in handwritten letterBy Ivan Angelo de Lara | INQUIRER.net 1:00 pm | Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Video taken from Jieve Frias’ Facebook page
MANILA, Philippines – After issuing a public apology for berating an unwed teenage mom during her child’s baptism, a Catholic priest in Cebu on Tuesday reached out to the 17-year-old mother through a handwritten letter.
“Allow me to express my deep regret for the painful action I’ve done to all of you and those who witnessed it. I had no intention of saying that in front of all of you. I deeply regret this and I beg you to forgive me for what I did last July 6, 2014 in the chapel of the Sacred Heart,” Father Romeo Obach of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Latin: Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris – C.Ss.R) said in the letter which was written in Cebuano. The young mother received the note on Wednesday.
He wrote that he also wanted to meet the young mom again so that he could apologize to her personally.
The Commission on Human Rights visited the young mother on Wednesday. In a tweet by Cebu Daily News, she said she and her family would no longer pursue a case against the priest.
On Sunday, Obach scolded the teen mom during the baptism of her baby for “sleeping with a man who was not [her] husband.”
“Makauulaw.Magpabunyag ka og walay bana. Nakig dug ka og laki nga dili nimo bana. Wala ma mauwaw Naka dungog ba na nako, dai? Wala ka mauwaw? (How shameful. You come here to have your child baptized without a husband. You slept with a man who is not your husband. Do you hear me, girl? Aren’t you ashamed?)” Obach said. The video of the incident, which was posted by the baby’s grandmother on Facebook, quickly became viral.
On Tuesday, Obach issued a public apology for the “words [he] said and the rude attitude [he] showed” during the baby’s baptism.
“I deeply regret that I have done this. I only later realized how cruel my ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event. I am deeply sorry to the mother of the child, her relatives, the sponsors and the witness of the incident. I am sorry to the Internet viewers, to the media listeners and the viewers for this mistake. I personally admit. I am deeply sorry and I humbly ask your forgiveness. I execute this statement of apology on this 8th day of July 2014 at Cebu City,” he said. Translation provided by Eileen Mangubat, Cebu Daily News publisher and acting editor-in-chief
Zamboanga ‘conjugal tents’ seenPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am | Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
ZAMBOANGA CITY— The city government is thinking of building “conjugal spaces” for couples who lack privacy in their own tents in evacuation centers.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, in a press briefing on Monday, said the building of “conjugal spaces” was being considered to address a “natural” and “urgent need.”
Dr. Marcy Carpizo, director of Peace and Human Security at Western Mindanao State University, earlier suggested the construction of “a tent or a room where couples could express their sexual needs away from their children.”
“The special room or tent will spare the children from witnessing their parents’ sexual activity,” Carpizo said in an earlier interview with the Inquirer.
On Monday, Salazar urged Carpizo, who is also the national president of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking, to be part of the city’s protection cluster for the evacuees.
The idea was commendable for evacuee Isnira Jimlani, except that, she said, she would be ashamed to line up for the “conjugal space.” “What if there’s a long line?” the mother of 14 children asked.
Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, city health officer, said the idea of building a conjugal space was first brought up in October last year, weeks after Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members attacked villages here, displacing hundreds of thousands of residents.
The fighting between government forces and MNLF members left thousands of residents homeless.
But Agbulos said most of the evacuees did not see the conjugal space acceptable. “They said it would not sound and look good to see persons getting in and out of that tent,” Agbulos said.
He said another earlier suggestion was “to give coupons to couples to be accommodated in motels.”
He said some religious leaders were against the plan.
Fatima Pir Allian, program coordinator of Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (Women for Justice in the Bangsamoro), said conjugal spaces could be simply described as “sex tents.”
“The local government should address the situation on sex, rape and whatnot by providing a decent home for the families,” Allian said.
“[A home] that is not shared by more than one family. A home that has division of spaces for the unique needs of children and their parents,” Allian added.
Professor Alih Aiyub, secretary general of the National Ulama Council of the Philippines, said building a conjugal tent would “not be a wise decision.”
“You invite the young to imagine dirty, malicious thoughts as they watch couples come in and out of the tent. The government should instead build temporary shelters,” Aiyub told the Inquirer. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
Rice price hikes: No end seenPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 am | Saturday, June 21st, 2014
SAN JOSE CITY—Millers have been buying husked rice (palay) from traders at P26 per kilogram, which may push the prices of commercial rice in the market even higher in the coming months.
“P26 had been the buying price offered by the traders. We are forced to buy (the palay at that price) otherwise we will run short of supply for our clients,” said Edgardo Alfonso, president of the 26-member San Jose City Rice Millers Association.
The traders, whose number surged during the peak of the harvest season from March to April, competed with rice millers in buying newly harvested grains, Alfonso said, adding that they are now selling the rice back to the millers after keeping the stocks for weeks.
The fresh palay harvest was bought at a farm-gate price of P19 to P21 a kg. In past harvest seasons, the buying price for the grains was P14 to P15 a kg.
“We were caught by surprise by the high buying price of palay that prevailed during the last harvest season,” Alfonso told the Inquirer.
He said the rice millers here bought only 70 percent of palay during the harvest season for their milling needs. The milled rice will have a high selling price because of the steep buying price of palay, he said.
“The P2 per kilogram price hike of rice now was the result of that (increased palay cost),” he said.
At the current P26 per kilogram price, the wholesale selling price of rice may increase from P39 to P45 a kg for premium commercial rice.
“Based on that simple computation, we will have an idea how much the selling price of commercial rice would be during the lean months,” Alfonso said.
Rice millers here supply about 30,000 bags of milled rice daily to their clients in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog provinces and Cebu.
In Laoag City, the Ilocos Norte garlic growers and processors announced they would expand their garlic plantations from 2,000 to 3,000 hectares.
Mergie Selga, president of the group of local garlic growers and processors, said she believed the high price of garlic in the market was due to low supply.
Selga said garlic growers sold their remaining stocks when prices went up to a high of P260 a kilogram in Ilocos region and P300 a kilogram in Metro Manila.
Following a meeting of the National Garlic Action Team, she said the group may welcome garlic importation in July to augment supply. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Pangasinan mayor killed on eve of anniversary, son’s weddingBy Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo | Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:23 am | Sunday, June 8th, 2014
DAGUPAN CITY – Two armed men shot and killed Urbiztondo town Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr., his police escort and an electrician on Saturday near an area in the town where the mayor was supposed to hold his 25th wedding anniversary party today, Sunday.
Balolong was at the back of the town’s convention center around 8:50 a.m. when armed men in a Toyota Innova drove up and opened fire, police said.
The mayor was inspecting the venue for his wedding anniversary and for the wedding of his son, Urbiztondo Councilor Voltaire Balolong, which were to take place simultaneously.
The gunmen alighted from the Innova and had calmly approached the mayor before they opened fire, according to a witness.
The witness said Balolong managed to scamper away but was felled by another shot. One of the gunmen approached Balolong and shot him at point-blank range, the witness said.
Police said Balolong and his escort, Police Officer 1 Eliseo Ulanday (not Umanday as earlier reported), were the apparent targets of the attack. Edmund Meneses, a supermarket electrician, was caught in the barrage of the bullets.
The attack also wounded Jose Vigilia, an employee of CSI Supermarket, and Rogelio Esguerra, a soy drink vendor.
Balolong was immediately taken to Elguira General Hospital in San Carlos City. But Dr. Samuel Elguira, owner of the hospital, said the mayor was already dead when he arrived in the hospital about an hour later, 9:55 a.m.
“He had 27 gunshot wounds in his chest, his back and his arms,” Elguira said.
Senior Superintendent Sterling Raymund Blanco, Pangasinan provincial director, said investigators found an abandoned dark gray Innova at Barangay Cayaoan Kiling in San Carlos City two hours after the shooting.
Balolong, a member of the Liberal Party, first served as town councilor in 1998. He ran for vice mayor in 2001 and 2004 and lost in both elections. In 2007, he was elected mayor.
In August 2012, the provincial board slapped Balolong with a 60-day preventive suspension over an administrative complaint filed by a former town treasurer.
In March this year, Balolong was again suspended for 60 days for another administrative case filed against him in the provincial board.
But Malacañang set aside both suspension orders.
A month before he was suspended in 2012, police raided Balolong’s house and poultry farm in Urbiztondo and found a cache of firearms. But because the 14 weapons found were all licensed, no charges were filed.
In November last year, National Bureau of Investigation agents raided Balolong’s house and farm. The agents were apparently looking for the weapon used in the killing of a Pangasinan politician and his wife in Manila in 2012.
Balolong was arrested and detained at the NBI office in Metro Manila. But after a week, he was released with no charges filed against him.
Pangasinan town mayor shot dead
Power co-op to refund overpaymentPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am | Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
URDANETA CITY—The Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (Panelco) III said it would return to its consumers the excess of the generation cost it had collected in December last year and in January this year.
In leaflets given to consumers, Panelco III said the excess amount would be converted into rebates that would be reflected in the June and July billings.
But it was not clear yet how much the power distribution utility would return to its consumers. Panelco III has some 200,000 consumers in 16 eastern Pangasinan towns and in Urdaneta City.
Jeline Sales, head of Panelco III’s institutional services department, said the adjustment was being computed by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.
On March 11, the Energy Regulatory Commission voided the electricity spot market prices implemented in December 2013 and January this year. It ordered PEMC to recompute the generation charges that distribution utilities had passed on to their consumers.
Sales said about 30 to 40 percent of the generation cost would be refunded for the December billing and about 25 to 30 percent for the January billing.
In December, Panelco III increased its power rate by P5.6 per kilowatt-hour, raising its residential rate from P9.8 per kWh to P15.4 per kWh. The following month, the rate was reduced by only more than P1 per kWh.
Board Member Ranjit Shahani, a Panelco III consumer, said he was happy with the refund but noted that Panelco III might have also miscalculated previous generation costs.
Shahani and his mother, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, had asked a local court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop Panelco III from implementing the power rate increase while the petition was being heard.
“This is just a partial refund. They (Panelco III) will refund more in the future,” Shahani said by telephone.
Coal plant can’t ease power woesPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:06 am | Saturday, May 10th, 2014
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A coal plant that is expected to ease the shortage of power in Mindanao has resumed operations, but the amount of electricity it is generating is barely enough to fill the wide power gap that continues to bring daily brownouts to many parts of the island.
The plant, owned by Steag State Power Inc. (SPI), resumed the running of one of its turbines, which has a generating capacity of 105 megawatts on Wednesday.
But as of Thursday, demand for power across Mindanao was 1,277 MW and supply was only 873 MW, or a deficiency of 354 MW, more than half of what the coal plant owned by SPI is able to produce.
In this city alone, demand is 140 MW but Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Co. is getting only 35 MW, causing up to 12 hours, or half a day, of brownouts daily.
Carsten Evers, SPI power plant manager, said Unit 2 of the SPI coal facility went online around 8:55 p.m. on Wednesday, a day ahead of target.
“We are happy to announce that SPI has added 105 MW to the grid and we hope that this will provide some relief in the precarious power supply condition of Mindanao,” Evers said in a statement.
Evers also said SPI was currently rushing work on the repair of Unit 1 to be able to put it back online on June 1 or earlier.
“We recognize the necessity and urgency of bringing the units back online and rest assured that we are doing our best to restore our full capacity the soonest possible time,” Evers said.
He said SPI employees were working round the clock to complete the repair of Unit 1 to restore the power plant’s full capacity.
SPI’s coal plant went offline on Feb. 27 after its turbines suffered damage. The cause of the damage was not made known.
Evers said preventive maintenance of the plant was ongoing concurrently with repair and restoration works.
SPI’s plant in Misamis Oriental province is the first coal-powered generating facility to operate in Mindanao.
It has two identical generators, each with a net capacity of 105 MW, or a combined net generating output of 210 MW.
Since its full commercial operation in November 2006, SPI has delivered more than 10 billion kilowatts per hour of electric power to the Mindanao grid, accounting for about a fifth of the island’s total power supply. Bobby Lagsa, Inquirer Mindanao
Mindanao power crisis: Crime spike tied to brownoutsPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:04 am | Friday, May 9th, 2014
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Police are seeing a link between the power shortage that is gripping this city and other parts of Mindanao and a spike in the number of crimes in areas plagued by outages that last up to more than seven hours a day.
In this city alone, Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr., city police chief, said the number of crimes that police have recorded has increased by 45 percent, or nearly half, in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.
The city and other parts of Mindanao started to be plagued by brownouts in March as a result of a shortage in electricity that was made worse by the reduced output of two hydropower facilities—Angus and Pulangi—that supply 60 percent of Mindanao’s power.
Danao said by March, when the outages started being more frequent and longer, police started to record at least 58 crimes a day up from the 32 crimes reported daily in the same period last year.
He said in the first three months of the year alone, 4,000 crimes have been committed mostly against persons and property.
Danao said he believed the rotating brownouts are to blame for the spike in crimes.
For instance, he said, the outages are rendering CCTV cameras, which help in crime prevention and investigation, useless.
“Zero visibility,” said Danao. “You cannot see in the dark even if you have a generator,” he added.
He said police had to resort to extra effort, like increased visibility, to fill the gap that anticrime measures being crippled by the outages have left.
“I myself go on patrol,” said Danao.
Col. Casiano Monilla, head of the anticrime Task Force Davao, said soldiers, too, have been deployed to strategic areas in the city to help police fight crime amid the brownouts.
He said 17 members of the task force are to roam the city aboard motorcycles as a crime prevention measure.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the city government plans to hire at least 1,000 watchmen to help law enforcers keep peace and order.
Each watchman would be paid P6,000 per month and get training on peacekeeping, said Duterte. They may also be issued firearms, he said.
“We have to give them more police power,” said the mayor.
In Cotabato City, police and military authorities said they were also bracing for a surge in criminality, particularly kidnappings, because of the outages.
“This is a united effort to quell lawlessness and terrorism that may occur at night while we are experiencing brownouts,” said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.
Hermoso said Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Cotabato City police chief, agreed to conduct weekly meetings on the anticrime campaign to keep authorities updated.
Ramil Masukat, head of the Radio Emergency Communication Network (Recon), an anticrime watchdog, said his group would help authorities fight crime in Cotabato City.
Recon members are armed with VHF radios that they can use to report crimes, he said.
The outages are also disrupting the ongoing registration of new voters in Kidapawan City, which is being plagued by up to six hours of brownouts daily.
Diosdado Javier, Kidapawan election officer, said the outages are slowing the processing of voter applications.
Javier said his office has requested for a generator from the Commission on Elections main office in Manila but there has been no response yet. Reports from Allan Nawal, Williamor Magbanua, Charlie Señase and Eldie Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao
Bomb scare sends Letran students homeBy Maricar Cinco | Inquirer Southern Luzon 7:00 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines—A text message threatening an explosion in a private college in Calamba City, Laguna, prompted school officials to cancel the afternoon classes on Tuesday.
Supt. Marvin Saro, Calamba City police chief, in a phone interview, said an employee of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, before noon, reported receiving an anonymous text message that a bomb would explode.
“The message said something about a bomb that would go off between 1 and 2 p.m.,” Saro said.
He said this prompted school officials to suspend the afternoon classes and send the students home.
As of 4 p.m., Saro said bomb experts were still conducting a “clearing operation” but had not found any explosive by then.
Midterm examinations were also scheduled for Tuesday as announced on the school’s website.
Bomb scare hits UP Baguio; campus evacuated
Bomb scare hits UST, this time
3 cops wounded as 2 bombs explode in North CotabatoBy Williamor A. Magbanua | Inquirer Mindanao 6:46 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
MAGPET, North Cotabato, Philippines—Three policemen assigned with the North Cotabato Provincial Police Office were injured when communist rebels set off an improvised explosive device (IED) here around 9 a.m. Tuesday.
In a report, Capt. Manuel Gatus, spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, said the policemen were responding to a reported harassment by New People’s Army rebels in Barangay Bagumbayan when the bomb exploded.
“There were two IEDs that exploded, which resulted in the slight wounding of the PNP members,” Gatus said by phone.
The wounded policemen were rushed to a hospital and were already declared safe and in stable condition, he added.
8 persons hurt in North Cotabato blast
Cotabato highway rocked by explosion
Sunken ferry jointly owned by DOTC, DPWHBy Danilo V. Adorador III | Inquirer Mindanao 6:44 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
SURIGAO CITY, Philippines – A sister ferry of the ill-fated MV Maharlika 2 has been barred from sailing, raising questions about the seaworthiness of the government-operated fleet.
MV Maharlika 4 was suspended from operating Monday because it was found to have poor safety systems and its chief engineer’s license had already expired, said Emmanuel Carpio, regional director of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in Caraga Region.
According to Carpio, in an interview, their records show that MV Maharlika 2 is jointly owned by two government agencies— the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Its operator, a partnership between Philharbor Ferries and Port Services Inc., has been operating three other inter-island vessels, two of which were already sold, and one currently in the dry dock, Carpio said.
Built in 1984 in Mariveles, Bataan, the sunken vessel was already 30 years old when it sank in the Surigao-Leyte channel Saturday, the Marina
official bared. He said the complete history on the sunken ferry’s ownership could be traced in their headquarters in Manila.
Carpio declined to discuss the possible sanctions facing the management of MV Maharlika 2, although he acknowledged the glaring violations pertaining to the huge discrepancies in its official passenger manifest, as well as the failure of its shipmaster to submit an incident report as of this writing.
“I don’t want to preempt the investigation, although we can initially point out some violations,” Carpio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding that Marina investigators have already arrived in this city to begin a marine inquiry.
The ferry’s official manifest placed the passengers at 58, less than half of the 119 recorded passengers as of Tuesday morning, consisting of 110 rescued passengers and crew, eight recovered bodies and one missing person who was listed on the official manifest.
With the ferry’s manifest clouded in doubt, however, the actual number of missing persons could not be independently established as search and rescue officials merely rely on the accounts of rescued passengers and the claims of relatives.
Meanwhile, Captain Joseph Coyme of the Philippine Coast Guard identified the remains recovered on Monday as belonging to Ramon Molato, Betty Bahi, Arlita Puyales, 2-year old baby girl Tiffany Saberon and Nelson Custodio, who served as marine chief engineer of the ill-fated ferry.
The bodies were separately recovered by two Philippine Navy littoral ships off Hagakhak Island in Basilisa town, Province of Dinagat Islands.
Two of the first three recovered bodies on Sunday were identified as Rahiman Ismael, 20, and retired army colonel Armando Mosqueda. The third fatality, a female, remains unidentified as of this writing.
Coyme said two Navy ships, two Coast Guard vessels and a Huey helicopter were involved in the search and retrieval operations that started Tuesday morning, a shift from the search and rescue efforts.
Officials coordinating the search and rescue operations, in a meeting Monday evening, decided to shift to search and retrieval effort.
Captain Joseph Coyme of the Philippine Coast Guard said no timetable was given for the retrieval operations, in part because rescuers have been unable to determine the exact number of missing passengers.
Coyme said they would make an assessment every 24 hours.
NDRRMC clarifies earlier report: 3 dead due to ferry sinking
Red Cross issues initial list of 68 survivors from ferry sinking
Sereno has no heart ailment, says aideBy Tetch Torres-Tupas | INQUIRER.net 6:06 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was not hospitalized and has no heart problem contrary to a newspaper report, her Chief of Staff said in a statement.
“Contrary to a false report, the Chief Justice was not hospitalized and does not have a heart problem. She has in fact returned a day early from the annual wellness leave each Justice is entitled to, the first time she availed herself of the leave in four years she has been with the Court,” Sereno’s chief of staff Ma. Lourdes Oliveros said in a statement Tuesday.
The report said Sereno was hospitalized during her 15-day wellness leave due to heart problem. The report further stated that the chief justice suffered palpitations due to stress and visited her cardiologist at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig.
The stress, according to the report, started with her run-in with Associate Justice Arturo Brion, who, in his separate opinion accused her of manipulating the result of the Judicial and Bar Council voting to kick out newly appointed Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza from the shortlist.
“Such fabricated gossip has no place in professional journalism. The wellness leave is the time the justices undergo their executive check-ups. That does not count as hospitalization unless you have a malicious mind,” Oliveros said.
Sereno: SC is an independent court
Chief Justice Sereno accused of manipulating JBC selection
Purisima’s absence in Senate hearing due to miscommunication, says PNPBy Julliane Love De Jesus | INQUIRER.net 6:00 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima did not snub the Senate hearing. A miscommunication happened.
This was the defense of the PNP on Purisima’s absence at the Senate committee on public order hearing on Tuesday, which almost prompted two senators to suspend the proceeding.
”PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima did not snub the hearing. There was some minor miscommunication but he will definitely attend in case there will be another invitation,” Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP Public Information Office (PIO) chief, told the media.
Purisima got a dressing down from Senator Grace Poe, the chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, for not showing up at the hearing.
Sindac said that in the Senate invitation for the hearing sent to Purisima’s office, it was indicated that “you or [your] representatives” could be sent to attend the Tuesday proceeding.
He said this made the PNP chief believe that he could send other police officials who are “equally competent to discuss modernization plans of the PNP with the senators.”
As proxy, Chief Superintendent Alexander Ignacio, PNP Directorate for Plans head, attended the senate hearing.
This irked Poe, who pointed out that if the President himself could answer the issues raised against his office, Purisima should do the same.
“We wanted to hear directly from chief Alan Purisima. We were expecting him at least to give us a plan on where the PNP is heading in light of the current crime situation in our country and to defend the institution and the majority of police officers who are doing their jobs,” Poe said after suspending the hearing.
“He has gone far too long, relying on his spokespersons to speak for him. The President himself answers issues that are asked by the public of his office. I don’t see any reason why the PNP chief should be exempt from having to directly address the people.”
Purisima a no-show at Senate hearing on rising criminality
Poe: Senate hearing suspended until Purisima makes self available