PLUNDEROUS

China took 2.5M tons of PH magnetite

AT LEAST 2.5 million metric tons of the country’s magnetite were shipped to China from almost five years of controversy-ridden blacksand mining operations in the province of Cagayan, government records showed.

The volume comprised a total of about 331 shipments that got out of Port Irene, the main port of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Santa Ana town.

“All shipment recorded China as port of destination,” said Joyce Jayme-Calimag, public relations chief of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), the government agency that manages the freeport.

Port Irene
A China-registered shipping vessel, docked at Port Irene inside the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, awaits the truckloads of processed magnetite extracted from the coastal areas of Cagayan in this February 2013 file photo.

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EXPLOITED

N. Vizcaya villagers hit Aussie mine firm for ‘broken promises’

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya–Village officials and residents of an upland barangay in this town on Wednesday (May 27) expressed opposition to the planned expansion of an ongoing foreign-owned mining project here, saying they felt shortchanged and exploited in the first two years of its operation.

In a dialogue with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), villagers of Didipio in Kasibu town said they also “vehemently” oppose the renewal of the 25-year mining license granted to OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm, for its gold-copper project here.

“It is really painful for us to be in this kind of a situation now that we seem to be begging for mercy from (OceanaGold), when we are simply asking it to fulfill the promises it made, which led us to give our support in the past,” said Maria Pugong, one of the elders of the predominantly Ifugao community here.

She appealed to the MGB to step in to stop the alleged “exploitation” of Didipio and its people at the hands of a foreign mining company.

Hundreds of hectares of what used to be rice fields and vegetable farms in Didipio village in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya are now buried under toxic mine wastes released by the ongoing gold-copper mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm (click image to enlarge). Photo by Melvin Gascon
Hundreds of hectares of what used to be rice fields and vegetable farms in Didipio village in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya are now buried under toxic mine wastes released by the ongoing gold-copper mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc., an Australian firm (click image to enlarge). Photo by Melvin Gascon

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CASH-STRAPPED

Nueva Vizcaya provincial gov’t can’t pay in full back wages

The provincial government cannot pay in full the back salaries and other benefits of about 70 returning employees who the Civil Service Commission (CSC) earlier ordered reinstated, officials here said.

In a meeting on Tuesday, lawyer Voltaire Garcia, provincial legal officer, told the employees that the province had no sufficient funds to cover about P33.3 million in back wages and other benefits.

“We have already complied with the first part of the [CSC order], which is reinstatement. As for the second part, which is the payment of back wages, we will still try to find the possible sources [of funds],” he said.

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Provincial officials face the reinstated employees to explain that the provincial government cannot fully comply with the payment of back wages, while security personnel keep a close watch. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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ROAD MESS

C. Valley motorists blast DPWH for road gridlocks

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Residents of Cagayan Valley and nearby provinces on Friday assailed the alleged incompetence of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for failure to address the traffic congestion problems in many of its road projects along the national highway.

They complained how DPWH year-round road repairs along the Daang Maharlika, from Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Cagayan have supposedly caused trouble to the traveling public, made worse by the delays and mismanagement of vehicular traffic.

Things came to a head when, for the past three days, thousands of motorists were being stuck on the road for as long as 10 hours due to a road reblocking project in Cordon town in Isabela.

“The government’s failure to address this simple problem very well represents the dysfunction that is plaguing our country. This is criminal negligence,” said Rustico Babaran, Jr., a bank employee from Cagayan.

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Hundreds of vehicle are stuck on the road near the Nueva Vizcaya-Isabela border, due to a trailer truck that conked out at a single-lane portion of a road-reblocking work in Barangay Caquilingan in Cordon. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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REVERENCE

Blind weaver’s masterpiece a tribute to Ifugao heritage

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya

THE HOUSE of Rogelio Guinannoy, which overlooks a road intersection in the upland village of Comonal in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, has become a favorite hangout for his relatives and neighbors. They are his biggest fans, never getting tired of admiring his creations of varied pieces of woven rattan handicraft.

The 48-year-old weaver’s latest creations have become an attraction among villagers—a pair of eight- and seven-foot rattan statues that, by their intricate designs, reveal the maker’s extraordinary patience, creativity and a discriminating eye for detail.

But these works of art are, to them, extraordinary: Guinannoy, their maker, is blind.

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CONTEMPT

N. Vizcaya gov sued for failure to reinstate dismissed employees

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–A group of provincial employees on Thursday filed contempt charges against Gov. Ruth Padilla for her alleged failure to reinstate some 70 of the 180 employees she illegally terminated and demoted in 2013.

In their petition, the group asked the commission to cite Padilla in contempt and that she be meted administrative sanctions for supposedly defying its Sept. 2014 order to reinstate the employees and to pay them their back salaries and other benefits.

“(This) is a crystalline, willful and contumacious refusal and failure on the part of (Padilla) to comply with lawful orders of the honorable commission which she swore to comply (with) and abide (by) when she assumed her position as the honorable governor of the province of Nueva Vizcaya,” the petitioners said.
  
The employees said Padilla allegedly ignored their appeals and did not act on a notice from the CSC regional office which reminded her of the executory nature of the decision, and warned her of possible criminal and administrative liability for failure to comply.

The petitioners said Padilla also did not respond to two letters they sent her–on April 8 and 24–before she left and after she returned from her 12-day travel abroad.

“Instead of complying [with] and heeding the letters, (Padilla)…filed a ‘leave of absence on account of a personal travel abroad’,” the complaining employees said.

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WARNING

CSC to N. Vizcaya gov: let dismissed workers return or face charges

The Civil Service Commission has warned Gov. Ruth Padilla of possible criminal and administrative charges if she continues to defy an order from the agency to let the provincial employees, who she illegally removed from their posts in 2013, return to their work.

In a letter, lawyer Neil Agustin, acting CSC director for Cagayan Valley, sought Padilla for an update on the implementation of the decision which reinstates about 180 permanent employees of the provincial government, who the governor ordered dismissed and demoted upon her assumption to post.

Agustin cited the civil service law, which states: “Any officer or employee who willfully refuses or fails to implement the final resolution, decision or ruling of the (CSC)…may be cited in indirect contempt of the commission and may be administratively charged…or be held criminally liable…”, he said.

The letter of lawyer Neil Agustin, CSC acting regional director.
The letter of lawyer Neil Agustin, CSC acting regional director.

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