Acid test

PNP dared: Stop ‘jueteng’ to regain public trust

SANTIAGO CITY–If the Philippine National Police were serious in instituting reforms in the organization to bring back the trust of the public, it should start by eliminating illegal gambling.

Officials and residents here gave this challenge to the PNP leadership in reaction to pronouncements from PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Jesus Verzosa that his administration will try to win back the trust of the public, following the latest scandal to hit the police organization.

Gov. Grace Padaca said Verzosa’s statement comes as a positive sign, especially in times that people have grown wary about the sincerity of the PNP to live up to its mandate as the country’s primary law enforcement agency.

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Senate coup stirs debate among N. Vizcaya dads

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The political heat triggered by the ouster of Sen. Manuel Villar as Senate president has reached even the halls of this province’s legislative body.

Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) belonging to Villar’s Nacionalista Party on Wednesday questioned the proposal of Board Member Santiago Dickson for the passage of a resolution congratulating newly-installed Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“Is there really a need for such a resolution? Will there be an effect if we congratulate the new Senate president?” asked SP member Edgardo Balgos, interpellating Dickson.

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Hard evidence

COA bares ‘cement scam’ in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The Commission on Audit (COA) has uncovered the provincial government’s illegal use of public funds to buy construction and agricultural supplies amounting to P24.2 million. 

In its 2007 audit report, the COA disclosed that the province bought building and farm materials, mainly bags of cement, from only two suppliers, without subjecting the transactions to public biddings as required by Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003.

“(The lack of bidding) was not in conformity with RA 9184, which resulted in the failure of (the provincial government) in attaining a more transparent system of procurement,” the report said.

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CA voids N. Vizcaya gov’s order vs mine firm

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The Court of Appeals has nullified an order issued by Gov. Luisa Cuaresma stopping the operations of a foreign firm, saying this was issued with “grave abuse of discretion”.

In a 16-page decision, the CA’s fifth division upheld the petition filed by OceanaGold Philippines Inc. to enjoin Cuaresma from further enforcing the cease-and-desist order (CDO) on the firm’s operations in Didipio village in Kasibu town, site of its US$117-million gold-copper project.

The appellate court likewise voided the tax assessment issued by Perfecto Martinez Jr., provincial treasurer, collecting more than P27 million in sand and gravel fees from the company.

“The assailed CDO and assessments were issued without basis as the activities of OceanaGold which are sought to be enjoined and taxed by (Cuaresma and Martinez) do not fall squarely within the coverage of the law,” said Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando, the CA’s fifth division chair.

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Mining moratorium pushed in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Leaders of tribal communities here on Tuesday called for the declaration of a moratorium against large-scale mining in the province, citing the struggles that residents in various ore-rich communities here have suffered from foreign mining companies.

Peter Duyapat, chair of the Nueva Vizcaya People’s Organization Task Force (NVPOTF), said the group is launching a massive campaign against the ill-effects of large-scale mining to drive out the foreign firms attempting to start operations in Nueva Vizcaya.

“This movement seeks the help of the provincial council to declare a moratorium against planned foreign-funded mineral exploration and extraction activities, and eject those that are already here,” he said.

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N. Vizcaya lawyers take on tribe’s fight vs mining firm

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The province’s team of lawyers has formally taken on the legal battle of a tribal community in  upland Kasibu town over the alleged harassment supposedly employed by a foreign mining company that is attempting to start mining operations there.

The team, led by lawyer Angelito Baclig, acting provincial legal officer, expressed concern over the complaints aired by officials of Didipio village against OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., whose personnel, they said, continue to employ abuses against residents despite its suspended operations.

“We are bringing these matters to the court. We will assist (the residents) and file the necessary charges and follow up those that have remained pending,” Baclig said.

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