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
SC stops activities in Mt. Santo Tomas forestBy Jerome Aning | Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:04 pm | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court issued on Tuesday a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) stopping development projects in the Mt. Santo Tomas forest reserve along the border of Pangasinan and Benguet provinces.
The court en banc, presided by Acting Chief Justice Renato Carpio, granted the TEPO and referred to the Court of Appeals the writ of kalikasan case filed last Sept. 12 by residents of Baguio City and Tuba in Benguet, and San Fabian, Pangasinan.
Among the petitioners were Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas and Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon
The Court ordered one respondent, Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. and his agents to cease and desist from performing acts to develop or enhance the property located at M. Santo Tomas forest reserve which he has claimed to be his or his brother’s.
The acts include the improvement of the old building standing on the land, the building of any structure thereon, continuing with any road activities and concreting any part of the road.
The Court ordered Aliping to immediately take steps to mitigate the contamination of the Amilang dams due to the erosion emanating from his road opening project.
The Court also ordered the Tuba municipal government, led by Mayor Florencio Benitez, to cease and desist from accepting applications for the issuance of tax declarations over lands within the forest reserve, from processing applications that have already been filed, and from issuing tax declarations that have already been processed and approved.
According to the petitioners, the development projects could affect the Mount Sto. Tomas watershed and threaten residents’ water supply, particularly Baguio, a high-altitude city which has been having difficulty obtaining potable water.
They sought to stop activities that they believed contributed to the degradation of Mount Santo Tomas, namely: illegal tree cutting and man-made erosion due to a road opening on the mountain side; deforestation due to expansion of vegetable gardens and residential areas; and illegal small scale mining activities.
The high tribunal noted that the petition invoked the principle of intergenerational equity, which imposes on the present generation the duty to protect the environment and to pass on its bounty to the coming generations.
The court required all the respondents in the case to file their comments to the petition within 10 days. The Court of Appeals will accept the comments, conduct hearings and receive pieces of evidence after which it would render judgment.
There have been complaints that the activities in the watershed disrupted springs there, turning the water muddy and unfit for distribution to water consumers. The petitioners also said the project initiated by Aliping, which involved the construction of a road connecting several villages in Tuba to the Mount Kabuyao Highway, could also endanger Amilang Creek, which flows into dams that act as water reservoirs.
Trillanes willing to undergo lifestyle check with BinayBy Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:59 pm | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said on Tuesday he would be willing to undergo a lifestyle check along with Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Trillanes said he was prepared to subject himself to the same challenge being demanded of Binay, who has been the subject of allegations of pocketing kickbacks from Makati City’s infrastructure projects.
“I’m willing to undergo a lifestyle check with VP Binay at the same time. I don’t need to conceal anything because I’m not even being accused of stealing government money, whether its PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) or DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program),” Trillanes said in a statement.
He also said statements daring him to undergo such a check were just intended to divert attention away from the Vice President, who has been unable to effectively counter allegations of corruption hurled against him by his officials when he was Makati mayor.
The United Nationalist Alliance, Binay’s party, earlier said Trillanes and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who have been spearheading the Senate blue ribbon inquiry into Binay’s contracts when he was mayor of Makati City, should get off their high horses and undergo lifestyle checks first.
The two senators have particularly zeroed in on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City parking building.
Earlier, Cayetano dared Binay to waive the secrecy of his bank accounts if he was willing to subject himself to an authentic lifestyle check, one that was not just for show.
Cayetano dares Binay to bare bank accounts
Mar Roxas: Lifestyle check to include Purisima
Incentives, instead of pay hike, set for gov’t workers in 2015—DBM chief AbadBy Christine O. Avendaño | Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:57 pm | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—There will be no pay increase for the 1.4 million government workers in 2015 after this year’s typhoons prevented the government from completing a survey on salary and benefits for them, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has said.
But Abad told the Senate finance committee looking into its P1.4 billion budget for 2015 on Tuesday, that in lieu of the salary increase, government workers would be given a performance enhancement incentive (PEI) that could be “as much as one-month pay and a minimum of P5,000 depending on how you perform as a public servant.”
Government employees do receive PEI but it has just been “P5,000 flat for all,” according to Abad.
Abad told Senate finance committee chair Francis Escudero that the one-month PEI would be equivalent to an eight percent increase in pay for public servants.
Abad disclosed the policy of no-salary-hike for government employees after Escudero asked why the DBM’s proposed budget for its Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund for next year of P118 million was a big jump from last year’s P53 million.
The budget secretary revealed they had allotted more money for the PEI after realizing that the government could not provide for a salary increase in 2015.
Abad said that the typhoons had prevented them from completing a survey that was needed as basis for considering another salary increase. And that was why in lieu of a salary increase, they would provide for a PEI instead.
“Since we don’t have a basis, what the President thought of is providing a one-month performance enhancement incentive, which used to be P5,000 for all,” he said.
Abad said that on top of the PEI, government workers would get a Performance Based Bonus and their 13th-month pay.
In the end, Escudero approved the P1.4-billion budget of the Department of Budget and Management, saying that the proposed P2.606 trillion budget of next year was more “compliant” following the Supreme Court’s decision voiding the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Escudero said the budget proposal had measures to ensure that funds would be disbursed immediately.
Roxas denies ties with group pushing for Aquino’s term extensionBy Marlon Ramos | Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:49 pm | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II distanced himself on Tuesday from the group pushing for President Benigno Aquino III’s second term through a constituent assembly that would amend the 1987 Constitution and lift the single-term limit on presidents.
“I don’t have anything to do with it,” Roxas told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, after speaking at the Liga ng mga Barangay (village) regional assembly at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here.
“That’s the initiative of some individuals. That’s all I can say. I actually only learned it from you,” he said.
The Movement for Reform Continuity and Momentum or More2Come placed full-page ads in major dailies calling for 8 million signatures for President Aquino’s reelection bid.
Melvin Matibag, a former government official and Ricojudge “RJ” Echeverri, the son of Caloocan Rep. Recom Echeverri, a Liberal Party member, emerged as the lead convenors of the group.
75% favor Aquino term extension
What is the reason in proposing an Aquino term extension
Palawan bishop slams Aquino for downplaying media killings in PHBy Aries Joseph Hegina | INQUIRER.net 8:44 pm | Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—“Very irresponsible.”
That was how Puerto Princesa bishop Pedro Arigo described the remark of President Benigno Aquino III stating that not all “media killings” in the country are job related.
“That statement is really very irresponsible. It’s like adding a salt on the top injury, particularly to the family of the victims,” Arigo said over Radio Veritas on Monday.
Arigo added that Aquino is only fabricating “alibis” and “more excuses” on the supposed failure of his administration in solving “media killings”.
In a forum organized by Egmont Institute in Belgium last September 16, Aquino said that not all “media killings” are job-related.
“For instance, in the media killings, some who used to work in media died. Did they die because they were investigative journalists? Were they exercising their profession in a responsible manner, living up to journalistic ethics? Or did they perish because of other reasons?” Aquino said.
During the forum, Aquino admitted that justice is slow in the country and his administration is said to be “trying its best” to resolve human rights violations.
Aquino confronted on human rights record in Belgium forum
Aquino defends human rights record