Friday, October 17, 2008

Fire destroys records

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna -- Fire destroyed part of the Cavite Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Barangay Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City, on Sunday, destroying some records, the fire bureau chief of Tagaytay City said in a report on Tuesday.

Supt. Ruel Viray, Tagaytay City fire bureau chief, said investigators were looking at possible arson, but refused to give details describing the case as “sensitive.” Karen Lapitan, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Monday, October 13, 2008

Laguna residents fight off demolition

By Maricar Cinco, Karen Lapitan
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 21:46:00 10/13/2008

Filed Under: Housing and Urban Planning, Protest

CALAMBA CITY, Philippines—Simultaneous with the visit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Luisiana, Laguna on Monday to sign a law that would save 368,535 delinquent housing loan borrowers from homelessness, at least 150 families in the village of Real here stood against a demolition team to defend their homes at around 1 p.m. Monday.

The defiant families were about to lose their homes in Sitio Kabute to demolition ordered by Branch 92 of the Calamba Regional Trial Court on September 11.

The residents, with wood sticks on hand, barricaded the area to block the armed police and security guards and the demolition team.

The demolition team tried to disperse the residents with water cannons after they refused to leave their barricade.

Nante Eclavea, regional staff of Bayan Muna (Country First) Southern Tagalog, said there were around 50 members of the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Group in Calabarzon carrying high-powered guns and about 30 members of the demolition team.

“Those from the demolition team were the first to hurl stones at us and fire water cannons,” said Eclavea.

He added that two residents were injured in the clash.

Glen Malabanan, paralegal officer of Karapatan (Rights)-Southern Tagalog, questioned the absence of name plates on the police deployed in the area and claimed that they violated the 50-meter radius rule of Batas Pambansa 880.

BP 880 restricts the presence of the police to 50 meters away from a rally.

“After the issuance of the demolition order, residents have already put up a protest camp in the area to protect their homes from the demolition and to assert their right to the land now being claimed by the Metrobank,” Malabanan said.

Members of the RMG could not identify their leader and refused to give any comment.

Eclavea said they were told that Sitio Kabute was a property of Metrobank.

A representative from Metrobank, who refused to be identified, said there was already a court order to demolish the area.

He added that the residents' appeals were already dismissed by the court.

"Everything here is legal," he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of

He said Metrobank had the rights to the 2.8-hectare land after the former owner, Gotesco Properties Inc., failed to settle its loan obligation.

"The Gotesco properties only allowed the residents to settle on the land," he added.

Bayan Muna secretary general Arman Albarillo said "the residents have been settling here even before the Gotesco claimed the land. It is not true that they allowed the residents to occupy the land."

He said most of the families settled in the area during the 1960s since no party restricted them from doing so.

Mila Elupre, 54, a resident of Sitio Kabute since 1960s, said the city mayor and the Metrobank conspired to displace the families residing in the area.

“We tried to seek the help of our mayor but he did not render any help. There's a conspiracy taking place," she claimed.

Mayor Joaquin Chipeco said his office has been trying to negotiate with the officials of Metrobank to give the residents a relocation site.

"It's not true that I am not doing something for the residents. I have been talking to the bank's top officials, but after the residents staged a rally at the main office, the chance of having a relocation site seemed not possible," Chipeco told the Inquirer.

Local authorities demolished the residents’ houses for the first time last January 8 but since they had nowhere to go, the people moved back to the area.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

12 hurt in Batangas road accident

By Karen Lapitan
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 18:29:00 10/11/2008

Filed Under: Accidents (general), Transport, Road Transport, Transport accident

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna -- Twelve persons were hurt Saturday morning when a school vehicle fell into a ditch in Barangay (village) Bagumbayan, Tanauan City, Batangas.

According to Superintendent Willy C. Atun-Pese, Tanauan City police chief, the vehicle is owned by the Lyceum Batangas with professors and school staff as passengers.

Atun-Pese said in a phone interview that the vehicle was heading toward Manila when the right rear tire of the vehicle exploded, causing it to fall into the ditch along the Star Toll, Batangas exit at around 7 a.m.

The victims were immediately brought to the nearby Carlito P. Reyes Hospital and Daniel Mercado General Hospital in Tanauan City, and to Mary Mediatrix Medical Center in Lipa City.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Groups denounce criminal raps vs 27 Southern Tagalog activists

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna–Leaders of militant groups on Thursday denounced the filing of criminal charges against 27 activists in Southern Tagalog.

Marlo Timbreza, security specialist of Globe Telecom Inc., filed the complaint at the Batangas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office (BPPO), charging the activists with arson, crimes involving destruction, and conspiracy to commit rebellion.

Timbreza also alleged that they were involved in burning a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas, on Aug. 2.

Asked by the INQUIRER to elaborate on his charges, Timbreza refused to answer and instead directed it to call his superiors at the head office, without specifying who.

Bani Combrenero, regional coordinator of the party-list group Bayan Muna, claimed that the government was behind the filing of the complaint as part of its anti-insurgency campaign and crackdown on activists.

“After failing to silence militant organizations through extrajudicial killings, the Arroyo [administration] has resorted to filing trumped-up charges,” Cambronero said.

He said eight of the 27 respondents were abducted and detained in Silang, Cavite, by the Calabarzon police on Aug. 31 but were released after they failed to file charges against them.

Cambronero is among the 27 respondents. The rest are Rolando Mingo, vice president of PISTON (Pinag-isang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide); Noriel Rocafort, secretary general of Bayan-Batangas; lawyer Remigio Saladero, founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL); Agaton Bautista, Anakpawis-Batangas provincial coordinator; Renato Baybay, Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite chair; and Isabelo Alicaya, haligi ng mga Batangeñong Anak Dagat chair.

The BPPO formally released on Aug. 12 the memorandum of preliminary investigation through assistant provincial prosecutor Esmeralda Andaya.

The 27 claimed, however, that they had not received a subpoena informing them about the complaint.

Cambronero said the group “learned about the complaint by accident” on Sept. 30. He said he got the information from a Bayan Muna member who had inquired about another complaint filed with the prosecutor’s office.

Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, a member of the NUPL who the 27 respondents had consulted, said the documents pertinent to the case should have been sent to them immediately after the memorandum of preliminary investigation was released.

Cambronero said they were “clueless as how the initial investigation was conducted since they were not even notified.” Karen Lapitan, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Saturday, October 4, 2008

MMDA posters 'out of place' in Laguna, says youth group

By Karen Lapitan
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 17:04:00 10/04/2008

Filed Under: Politics, Youth

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna -- A youth group denounced on Saturday the presence here of posters of Bayani Fernando, chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, saying they were "out of place."

"This is just a form of early electioneering -- a tactic of traditional politicians to deceive their voters," said John Paulo Bautista, deputy secretary general of Anakbayan-Southern Tagalog.

He added that these posters were out of place since the town is not under the area of the MMDA and the motive behind this act is questionable.

Leaflets about Fernando have also been distributed in the town.

Bautista challenged Fernando to fulfill his duties first before promoting his personal interests and political ambitions.

Since last week, posters of Fernando have been seen along Lopez Avenue, Barangay (village) Batong Malake.

Cop shoots cop

By Karen Lapitan, Alcuin Papa
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 14:40:00 10/04/2008

Filed Under: Laws, Crime

MANILA, Philippines (Update) -- An angry Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa on Saturday ordered administrative and criminal charges filed against a policeman who allegedly shot dead another cop in Bacoor, Cavite, over a traffic incident.

In a statement, Verzosa said he ordered a thorough investigation into the killing of Senior Inspector William Pelicano of the Las Piñas police.

Superintendent Mario Reyes, Bacoor police chief, said Pelicano was driving his passenger jeepney with his wife on Marcos Alvarez Road in Barangay (village) Molino 3 at around 8 p.m.on Friday when their vehicle was bumped by a Daihatsu multicab driven by Hermogenes Gagan.

With Gagan in the van was Senior Police Officer 2 Alfie Madrid of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Reyes said.

He said that after his jeepney was hit, Pelicano, who was in uniform, approached the van and had an argument with the people inside.

Suddenly, Madrid shot Pelicano several times, Reyes said.

Pelicano was rushed to the Molino Doctors Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Police found two 9-mm Beretta pistols, bullets and magazines for .45-cal. and 9-mm handguns, and Gagan’s license to carry firearms in the van.

Gagan was arrested by Bacoor police who responded immediately, while Madrid was arrested in a follow-up operation.

“This incident will not be taken lightly. I have directed the NCRPO to file the corresponding administrative case, aside from criminal charges, against subject PNCO (police non-commissioned officer, Madrid),” Verzosa said.

PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome said Verzosa was angered by the incident where a minor traffic altercation resulted in the breakdown of discipline between two policemen.

“The PNP chief has ordered a massive value formations seminar to be conducted for all PNP personnel,” Bartolome said.

He said Madrid was placed under restrictive custody by NCRPO chief Director Jefferson Soriano while the investigation was proceeding.