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MARCH 2014



Bulacan cites the cleanest barangays

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Dec. 23 (PNA) -- Fifty four barangays in the 21 towns and three cities in the province were cited Monday for being the cleanest and greenest communities during the Kalinisan at Kaayusan ng Kapaligiran sa Barangay (KKK) awarding ceremony held at the Bulacan capitol gymnasium here.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the program is part of his administration's seven-point agenda that aims to protect the environment and maintain and ensure the cleanliness and orderliness in the communities.

Winners from District I were Barangay San Nicolas (2nd) and Barangay Balubad (1st) from Bulakan; Barangay Bugion (3rd), Barangay Sergio Bayan (2nd) and Santa Lucia (1st) from Calumpit; Barangay Iba (1st) from Hagonoy; Barangay Tibag (1st) from Pulilan; Barangay San Jose (1st) from Paombong; and Barangay Matimbo (4th), Barangay San Pablo (3rd), Barangay Taal (2nd) and Barangay Bagong Bayan (1st) from this city.

District II winners include Barangay Barangca (2nd) and Barangay Piel (1st) from Baliwag; Barangay Taal (2nd) and Barangay Tambubong (1st) from Bocaue; Barangay Bonga Mayor (1st) from Bustos; Barangay Siling Matanda (1st) from Pandi; Barangay Bulihan (2nd) and Barangay Dampol (1st) from Plaridel; and Barangay Malis (2nd) and Barangay Tuktukan (1st) from Guiguinto.

Winners from District III were Barangay Sta. Catalina (5th), Barangay Bubulong Malaki (4th), Barangay Matimbubong (3rd), Barangay Upig (2nd) and Barangay Basuit (1st) from San Ildefonso; Barangay Sta. Cruz (2nd) and Barangay Sulucan (1st) from Angat; Barangay Bayabas (1st) from Dona Remedios Trinidad; Barangay Partida (1st) from Norzagaray; Barangay Pantubig (4th), Barangay Ulingao (3rd), Barangay Mabalas-balas (2nd) and Barangay Tambubong (1st) from San Rafael; and Barangay Camias (5th), Barangay Sta. Rita Matanda (4th), Barangay Bulualto (3rd), Barangay Sta. Rita Bata (2nd) and Barangay Sta. Ines (1st) from San Miguel.

Meanwhile, District IV winners include Barangay Panghulo (1st) from Obando; Barangay Bancal (3rd), Barangay Longos (2nd) and Barangay Lawa (1st) from Meycauayan; Barangay San Rafael IV (4th), Barangay Francisco Homes-Yakal (3rd), Barangay Ciudad Real (2nd) and Barangay Minuyan I (1st) from San Jose Del Monte City; Barangay San Gabriel (3rd), Barangay Mahabang Parang (2nd) and Barangay Sto.Tomas (1st) from Sta. Maria; and Barangay Loma De Gato (3rd), Barangay Saog (2nd) and Barangay Ibayo (1st) from Marilao.

The winners received a plaque of recognition each and cash incentive worth Php20,000 and material aid worth Php100,000 for the first prize; Php15,000 and material aid worth Php75,000 for the second prize; and Php10,000 and material aid worth Php50,000 for the third up to the eight prize depending on the total number of entry per each town or city.

Provincial Administrator Eugenio Payongayong, head of the Provincial KKK Task Force, said all winners garnered a grade of 85 percent and above and were chosen based on the criteria of 50 percent for cleanliness (kalinisan) and 50 percent for orderliness (kaayusan).

The governor congratulated the winners as he expressed hope for a sustainable cleanliness and orderliness in the communities. (PNA) 

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Bulacan exec urges DENR to train more forest rangers

NORZAGARAY, Bulacan, Dec. 22 (PNA) -- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Monday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to train more forest rangers that are more disciplined, properly compensated and cannot be lured by the color of money coming from illegal loggers and poachers operating at the watershed areas of Bulacan.

The governor made the call upon learning that DENR officials in Bulacan have admitted that they lack logistics and manpower to put under control the unhampered illegal logging activities inside the Ipo Watershed.

Alvarado said that this is quite alarming since the 70 percent of rain forest, including centuries-old trees, at the watershed area of Ipo have been destroyed due to unabated illegal logging activities.

He said that it is high time that DENR, in coordination with local government units (LGUs), become more serious in protecting the rain forest at Ipo dam watershed area by increasing the number of forest rangers with suitable gears and proper equipment.

The governor has earlier suggested the use of drones to monitor the vast watershed areas so they can immediately see if there are illegal activities going on.

“These illegal loggers and poachers are using high tech radio equipment and before our forest guards can come near them, they are already gone. We must address these matters immediately,” he said.

The Ipo Dam on the said watershed is at the downstream dam of the bigger Angat Dam, and both provide 97 percent of the potable water requirements of Metro Manila residents.

Celia Esteban, provincial environment and natural resources officer in Bulacan, together with Roger Encarnacion, community environment and natural resources officer for the DENR-Tabang office, have confirmed to Bulacan reporters that 70 percent of the 6,600 hectares watershed has already been “touched” by human activities like farming, orchard and charcoal making.

Encarnacion said that the reason for these human activities inside the Ipo watershed is the influx of informal settlers on the adjacent side of Rodriguez, formerly Montalban town, in Rizal province who take advantage of its forest cover as a source of livelihood opportunities.

Most of these settlers, who are not Dumagats or indigenous people, are from other provinces who migrated to Rizal and Bulacan and eventually became engaged in illegal logging and charcoal-making activities within the watershed area, Encarnacion said.

He lamented that they only have seven forest rangers deployed inside the 6,600 hectares watershed that requires 132 personnel for the ideal ratio of one forest guard for every 50 hectares of forest.

To address the problem, Esteban said they hired a team of Bantay Gubat composed of residents living within the watershed.

However, Encarnacion noted that their fund request for 30 Bantay Gubat was not fully granted and only a fund for 14 individuals was approved by their central office.

Despite their meager resources, Encarnacion said that they have come out with a long-term framework plan for the protection of the Ipo watershed and also with a three and five-year short term plans.

He also pointed out that the DENR and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are the groups tasked to oversee the protection of Ipo watershed.

He, however, cannot tell what programs the MWSS is implementing for the watershed’s protection. (PNA) 

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Coastal residents of Bulacan subject for relocation – DENR

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Dec. 19 (PNA) -- A ranking government environment officer confirmed that most if not all of residents living along island villages in the coastal areas of Bulacan are considered informal settlers and are subject for relocation.

Roger Encarnacion, community environment and natural resources officer of Bulacan, said that most residents who constructed their houses along fishpond dikes can be considered as “informal settlers” because they are dwelling on lands they do not own.

Encarnacion made the statement during the “ Kapihan para sa Inang Kalikasan” forum on Thursday sponsored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in coordination with the Philippine Information Agency at the Barasoain Hall of the Malolos Club Royale Resort in this city.

It was noted that most if not all of these residents do not own titles on the land which their houses were constructed.

These residents are possible contenders for families to be relocated once the different government agencies that were ordered by the Supreme Court in December 2008 to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, restore and maintain its water classification fit for swimming, skindiving and other form of contact recreation.

Encarnacion also disclosed that relocations of the informal settlers that constructed their house structures along the river systems and waterways leading to Manila Bay are not yet complete.

He said that the relocatees are those from the coastal barangays of Obando, Bulacan, Paombong, Hagonoy and the City of Malolos.

He also said that resettlement of these informal settlers were tasked to the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of the Interior and Local government and the National Housing Authority.

The order was based on the Supreme Court’s decision in line with the principle of continuing mandamus.

In order to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court, Celia Esteban, the provincial environment and natural resources officer of Bulacan explained that plans were laid to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

She said that the plan aims to achieve by the year 2015 50 percent reduction of liquid waste, 100 percent compliance of local government units (LGUs) on solid waste management, and 100 percent relocation of informal settlers together with rehabilitation of habitats and resources.

Esteban said that there are moves by the concerned government agencies to come up with a doable solution to comply with the High Court decision. (PNA) 

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Contractor of Calumpit bridge fails to meet deadline anew By Emil G. Gamos

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, Dec. 14 (PNA) --Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and town mayor Jessie de Jesus nearly blew their tops after learning that the contractor cannot meet its latest December deadline they earlier promised in finishing the new Calumpit bridge along the Macarthur Highway in Barangay Gatbuka here.

The governor said that this is the teenth time that both the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Wing Ann Construction and Development Company have failed to meet their promised deadline.

The construction of the new bridge began in 2013 after Alvarado called the attention of the national government that the old bridge is no longer safe and could collapse like the Colgante bridge in Apalit, Pampanga.

The DPWH awarded the contract to Wing Ann Construction and Development company after making a bid of P166 million on the proposed P210 million budget for the new bridge.

The new bridge was scheduled to be finished by April 2014 but got stalled after workers discovered that there was an old structure beneath the old bridge.

No less than DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson inspected the bridge after failing the April 2014 deadline.

The governor, Mayor de Jesus and Bulacan 1st District Rep. Ma. Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado complained to the DPWH chief about the snail-paced work at the bridge construction site.

The contractor then promised that the bridge will be finished and passable by September, then October and then December 2014.

But until now, the construction of the new bridge is still half-way over the river.

“They nose-dived the bidding and after encountering structural problems, it seems that the contractor is no longer financially capable of finishing it,” the governor said.

Alvarado and mayor De Jesus are once again appealing to DPWH Secretary Singson to step into the picture again and expedite its completion.

“Our people have suffered long enough. They have waited long enough. They have to do something now and they have to make it fast,” the governor, who has to circle the neighboring province of Pampanga everyday to reach his office at the Provincial Capitol in Malolos City.

He also said that many businesses have incurred big losses already since the bridge was closed to traffic in 2013.

The bridge links Bulacan to Pampanga and other northern provinces in Central and Northern Luzon.

Mayor de Jesus said that his constituents have to cross the temporary bridge even during rainy season.

Likewise, motorcycle riders have to pay for their vehicle to ferry to the other side of the river. (PNA) 

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Alpha Phi Omega stages “Freedom Run” at Bulacan State University

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Dec. 10 (PNA)—Loud cheers reverberated at the campus of Bulacan State University (BSU) before noon Wednesday when some 40 members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) International Incorporated run naked during their annual “freedom run” highlighting the celebration of International Human Rights Day here.

After a short run around the campus, the hooded but naked down-waist APO members gathered around their fraternity tree at the campus, and called on the Filipino people to unite and support a collective drive for long lasting peace in the country.

Michael Francia, grand chancellor of APO in the BSU,said "Let us assert our individual and collective human right to peace and contribute to further increase the growing number of Filipinos who have, thus far, responded to the YES FOR PEACE -- Bayanihan para sa KKK (Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan) campaign.

In 1984, the United Nations General Assembly declared peace as a third generational human right.

"We are honored to have been tapped by the organizers of YES FOR PEACE to conduct the campaign among the students, faculty and non-academic personnel of our beloved university." Francia said.

"We shall earnestly conduct the campaign in January 2015 in cooperation with the administration of BSU," Francia continued.

Francia said that APO is one of the government and non-government institutions -- including the Department of Education, the Philippine Postal Corporation, the Philippine Information Agency, the Philippine News Agency, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the Girl Scouts of the Philippines -- that are promoting YES FOR PEACE through the Bayanihan (collective involvement and participation) spirit.

Notably, the campaign has also gained the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and even the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Even former Bayan Muna party list representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño have openly expressed their support for the peace education and advocacy initiative initiated by students of the University of the Philippines System in 1988.

Jerry Villanueva, deputy regional director of APO in its Northern Luzon Administrative Region declared that, "While we have already collectively surpassed the 10 million target, we believe that the call for permanent cessation of hostilities between government forces and armed groups must involve all Filipinos 10 years and older."

More and more Filipinos are responding to the peace initiatives spearheaded by the APO through lead organizer Ernesto A. Alcanzare, a former national executive director of APO. (PNA) 

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Bulakenyos to witness lighting of giant 'Singkaban' Christmas tree By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Nov. 27 (PNA) --Bulakenyos will witness the lighting of the huge Singkaban Christmas tree on Friday in front of the provincial capitol here, signifying the start of the yuletide celebration in the province.

Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the annual traditional Christmas tree lighting aims to put Christmas closer to the hearts of Bulakenyos.

Alvarado also said that the activity will encourage Bulakenyos to celebrate Christmas season with love, joy, peacefulness and forgiveness, which is the true essence of the celebration.

Standing at 50 feet, the gigantic Christmas tree is made from meticulously carved bamboo or "Singkaban", adorned with colorful decors like Christmas balls, lights and flowers.

Aside from the annual traditional Christmas tree lighting to be led by the provincial officials, Bulakenyos will also witness various programs to add color and glow to the festivity.

The first part of the program will showcase the talents of Bulakenyos in the Konsierto ng mga Artistang Bulakenyo featuring BulSU Saringhimig, BulSU Lahing Kayumanggi, Sining Bulakenyo, Talentadong Pinoy Grand-finalist Melbelyn Caluag and many more.

Also, before the countdown to the lighting ceremony, the audience will be serenaded with Christmas carols by different chorale groups.

Meanwhile, Alvarado encouraged all the Bulakenyos to help one another and share the joy and inspiration that the Christmas season brings

"The celebration of Christmas is important to every Filipino because this is the time for sharing and loving. It is nice to remember the important message of Christmas that is to thank our Lord for all the blessings," he said. (PNA) 

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Mayor offers Php300,000 reward for arrest of suspect/s in rape/slay of 14-year-old girl in Bataan town By Ernie B. Esconde

MARIVELES, Bataan, Nov. 26 (PNA) -- Mayor Jesse Concepcion of this town has offered a Php300,000 reward for any information that will lead to the arrest of the suspect/s who abducted, raped, killed and burned a 14-year- old girl here last week.

"I am strongly condemning the gruesome killing of the girl. As a father of this town and for the immediate solution of the crime, I will give Php300,000 from my own pocket as reward for those who could give vital information," Concepcion said.

The mayor expressed hope that his constituents would cooperate to put an end to such kind of crime.

He said the police are working day and night to solve the case.

"Mariveles received a national award as 'most child-friendly LGU' in 2011 and I do not want such image to be destroyed," Concepcion said.

"It is painful for me because the victim was my relative. Aside from that, it happened during my birthday," Concepcion said.

The mayor marked his 60th birthday Thursday last week.

Denielle Fereria, 14, was reportedly abducted from her school, the Llamas Memorial Institute in this town Tuesday noon last week while about to go home.

A police report said that using the victim's cellphone, the abductor/s asked for Php500,000 ransom for her release.

The burned body of the girl was found Thursday morning below a bamboo groove in Barangay Balon Anito here.

She was allegedly raped, strangulated and then placed in a sack and burned.

Supt. Raynold Rosero, Mariveles police chief, said they are on continuous follow-up operations.

“We are in talks with a witness which we hope would cooperate with the police," he said.

A big crowd, many wearing T-shirts marked “Justice for Denielle” with her picture, joined Tuesday the funeral for the slain girl.

From her residence in Barangay Bonifacio, the funeral stopped at the Llamas Memorial Institute where Denielle was in third year high school.

Her classroom was Room 6 where she sat at the first desk, third row right side.

"She was so kind and always happy. What had happened was really painful for us. We are praying that her senseless death will be given justice," said classmate Arlene Ocampo.

Joining the funeral were religious groups from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) of Aglipay, Church of Christ, Methodist Church, students and members of different organizations in the town.

Denielle was an active member of the IFI choir and the youth organization of the church.

"We hope that justice will be given to a youth who was an active member of the church," said Franz Fuentes, president of the Youth for IFI under the Diocese of Bulacan –Bataan.

IFI parish priest of Mariveles Rev. Fr. Roderick Miranda said that through the peaceful march, it shows that the church and government can work side-by-side for the quest for justice.

"The Aglipay is wishing for an immediate resolution of the crime. This is clear violation of the rights of women and youth," said Fr. Jojit Sayas, IFI spokesman.

Former town Mayor Oscar delos Reyes, godfather and relative of the victim’s mother, blamed illegal drugs for the crime.

“This is an accountability of those who are serving. Whoever did this heinous crime should be arrested immediately," he said.

Delos Reyes said the victim’s father died some years ago, leaving wife Vina and children Denielle and a younger son. The mother still refused to be interviewed.

"What had happened is indeed so painful. All of us are seeking justice for my granddaughter," businessman Lito Rubia, a yacht maker in this town, said. (PNA) 

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Palparan presents list of 30 witnesses as against 15 prosecution witnesses in kidnapping case By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Nov.25 (PNA)--The camp of former Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan has listed 30 witnesses vis-à-vis the 15 witnesses of the prosecution in the kidnapping with serious illegal detention case filed against the controversial retired military officer at Branch 14 of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court here.

Both camps presented the list of their witnesses to Judge Teodora Gonzales during the hearing of the case Monday.

Palparan is facing charges in connection with the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan in 2006 when the controversial but bemedalled military officer was then the commanding general of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija.

His co-accused are (ret) Lt. Col. Fleipe G. Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo L. Osorio. A fourth suspect M/Sgt. Rizal O. Hilario is still at large.

Lawyers of Palparan told local newsmen that among the evidences they will present include the Salary Grade 28 of the controversial military general to prove that he was still in active service when the students went missing.

They claimed that Palparan cannot be charged with kidnapping because he was a military officer in active duty during that time.

They explained that Palparan should be charged at the Sandiganbayan and not at the Regional Trial Court.

However, private prosecutor lawyer Julian Oliva Jr., said that Palparan cannot use as defense his Salary Grade 28 because the kidnapping case was filed against him as a private individual and outside the scope of him being in the military service.

The court has set the next hearing on December 8 and will continue in February next year.

Meanwhile, supporters of Palparan and militant groups clashed in front of the Bulwagan ng Katarungan of the Bulacan RTC while the hearing was being heard.

The militant groups destroyed the sound system of the pro-Palparan supporters and even punched one of the ex-general’s “rah-rah” boys.

But before it could get worse, members of the Bulacan police anti-riot squad prevented them from a near “free-for-all” brawl.

The supporters of Palparan said that they will not file any charges and agreed to keep a safe distance from the militant groups every time the former holds rally during the trial of the case. (PNA) 

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BI nabs 11 illegal chinese workers

MANILA, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- Eleven Chinese nationals were arrested by Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives in Bulacan for working in a metal fabrication company without the necessary permits.

Atty. Jose Carlitos Licas, BI Intelligence Division chief, armed with a Mission Order, led the operation at the Greenmiles former SLA Compound, Barangay Sta. Rosa 1, Marilao, Bulacan where they found the foreign nationals last November 18, 2014.

The BI said that the Chinese nationals were in the act of supervising and assisting in the operation of metal moulding and metal fabricating without the necessary visas for engaging in the said acts.

With this, authorities immediately effected a warrantless arrest on the foreign workers who were identified as Wang Zhiming, Chen Zhongji, Sze Chun Ni, Sze Mang Hung, Liu Song, Zheng Kang Yan, Wang Fanjiang, Guo Guosen, Li Chunjia, Wu Hongshun and Chen Jian Shi.

They were brought to the BI Main Office for further verification, booking and proper disposition. (PNA) 

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Bulacan town mayor denies he and his mom were involved in QC road rage

BULAKAN, Bulacan, Nov. 12 (PNA) -- Town Mayor Patrick F. Meneses on Wednesday vehemently denied that he and his mother Priscilla Meneses were involved in a road rage incident that happened along Congressional Avenue in Barangay Pasong Tamo, Quezon City last October 27.

According to a police blotter, a Land Cruiser and an Innova car belonging to the Meneses family were reported to be involved in a road rage incident with the family of UP law professor Elizabeth Pangalangan.

"If I am with them during the incident, it will never have happened, because I will never tolerate that kind of behavior or attitude. As a public servant, I have worked hard to maintain a good reputation and I respect every one, whether a constituent of mine or not. I will never condone any abuse of authority, that's why I felt disconsolate that my name has been dragged into that incident,” Meneses said.

The mayor said that he is very much aware that no one is above the law that is why he will never abuse anyone.

He said that lawmen should conduct a thorough investigation of what really happened.

“Me and my mom were not part of the alleged traffic incident involving my mother’s vehicle and her staff,” he said.

A male passenger of the Innova car, which was tailing the Land Cruiser, later got off the car, hurled invectives at Miguel Enrico, who was driving the Pangalangans’ Fortuner vehicle, and pulled out a gun.

The man was reportedly furious because the vehicle of Pangalangan, had disrupted the convoy.

The man returned to his vehicle — a silver Innova — and fled after the professor yelled at him that children were aboard her vehicle.

The UP professor later filed a complaint against Meneses and his family at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Priscilla Meneses admitted that her family owned the two vehicles involved in the incident — the Innova and a white Land Cruiser, but clarified that she was not riding in any of them at that time.

She also stressed that she and her son were not involved in the traffic altercation.

Mrs. Meneses said she had sent her driver Joel Piñon on an errand in Manila that day but denied he had security escorts with him.

Mrs. Meneses said her son, Mayor Meneses, should be spared because he was at the Bulakan town hall at the time of the incident.

“My son was not on board the vehicle and the convoy was on a personal errand when the supposed traffic incident took place,” she said.

She identified the driver of the Innova that cut the path of the Pangalangans’ vehicle as Joel Piñon.

The Pangalangans believe that the unidentified gun-wielding man was a security escort of the passengers in the Land Cruiser.

But more than a week after the incident and despite the identification of the vehicles as those of the Meneses family, the identity of the gun-toting man remains a mystery.

Recently, the Pangalangan family went to Camp Karingal to identify the suspects in a police lineup.

The lineup included a police escort assigned to Mrs. Meneses and two Bulacan policemen assigned to the Bulacan mayor.

But the Pangalangans said the gun wielder was not in the lineup.

The Pangalangans had already filed a complaint at the NBI against the Meneses --mother and son, Piñon and several John Does.

“We want to make it clear with the family of the Proffessor Pangalangan that we were not in any way involved in that incident and it will have never happened if we were on board in any of our cars during that time,” the mayor added. (PNA) 

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Notorious drug pusher in Bulacan falls

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Nov. 5 (PNA) -- A notorious shabu pusher was apprehended Tuesday by agents of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 3 (PDEA3) and Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group 3 (RAIDTF3) in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Lulumboy, Bocaue, Bulacan.

PDEA3 director Jeoffrey Tacio identified the arrested suspect as Banjo Garcia alias “Gary,” 27, and a resident of Barangay San Gabriel, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Garcia was arrested after selling a transparent heat-sealed sachet containing methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu to a poser buyer of PDEA3 agent, Tacio said.

Confiscated from his possessions were four large sachet of shabu with an estimated weight of 100 grams and street value of Php280,000.

Also confiscated from the suspect's possession are 10 pieces of Php100 bill, Tacio said.

He said that charges for the possessions of illegal drugs are being prepared for filing in court against Garcia.

PDEA director general Arturo Cacdac Jr., commended the operatives of PDEA3 for another high impact operation. (PNA) 

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Bulakenos flock to cemeteries to remember departed loved ones

MARILAO, Bulacan Nov. 1 (PNA) -- Bulakenos has started to flock to the different cemeteries here in the province of Bulacan early Saturday in observance of All Saints' and All Souls' Days.

Local government units (LGUs) here tightened the security as number of policemen and barangay volunteers were deployed in cemeteries.

Likewise, private cemeteries have increased the number of security guards roving inside cemeteries to ensure peace and order in observance of 'Undas'.

Traditionally, Bulakenos visit tombs of their departed loved ones every 1st of November -- rather than November 2 -- despite this day is for the commemoration of saints of the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, prices of flowers further increase Saturday with increments ranging from Php30 to Php100.

A vendor said prices of flowers will start to decline by evening.

Small merchandises also built their stalls inside and outside cemeteries.

However, it was observed that prices of goods they are selling also increased even beyond suggested retail prices (SRPs) particularly for basic goods including candles and bottled water.

Department of Trade and Industry Consumer Protection Group (DTI-CPG) Undersecretary Victorio Marjo A. Dimagiba already reminded retailers and consumers that there should be no increase in prices of goods, particularly for basic commodities.(PNA) 

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Four robbers killed in Bulacan shootout

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Oct. 31 (PNA) -- Police scored anew in the fight against criminal gangs, killing four members of a robbery group during a firefight in front of the “Palayan sa Nayon Cooperative” office in Barangay Ligas here on Friday morning.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina said three of the suspects died on the spot after engaging policemen in a shootout where a local resident and a police officer were wounded.

Divina said the other suspect who was driving the alleged get-away car, a Toyota Vios with plate number PN-TOK 561 was killed after shooting it out with a pursuing police team at the Malolos Crossing in Barangay Guinhawa here.

Divina said the Malolos police headed by Supt. Arwin Tadeo earlier received information that a robbery group will conduct a heist at the said area.

He said Tadeo deployed a team of intelligence operatives to the area and when the armed gangmen alighted from their car with their guns drawn, the operatives asked them to drop their firearms and yield.

However, the gangmen opened fire at them, hitting a police officer on board a police patrol vehicle, prompting the other cops to return fire.

This was the second time in the city this month that armed criminals were killed in shootout with responding policemen.

Last October 14, two suspected motorcycle thieves were slain in a shootout with lawmen.

City Mayor Christian D. Natividad sent a strong message to crime groups that they are not welcome in this city.

“We will welcome them with just force if they tried to do their illicit activities here and try to harm our citizens. They have no place here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado commended the Bulacan police and the Malolos Police for their bravery and vigilance.

"Our policemen are prepared and ready against lawless elements who will create trouble in our province," Alvarado said, adding that the Bulacan police is out to do its job in ridding the province of lawless elements. (PNA) 

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Two police officers wounded in hostage taking incident at NLEX

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan, Oct. 20 (PNA) -- Two police officers were wounded but managed to save the lives of two passengers of a Manila bound bus after a man armed with a bladed weapon took them as hostages along the Sta. Rita exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Barangay Sta. Rita here on Monday morning.

Supt. Ernesto Cruz, Guiguinto police chief, identified the wounded police officers as Supt. Frankie Candelario and Senior Inspector Isagani Santos while the hostage taker was identified as Lauro Sanchez, 35, shoe vendor and resident of Agoncillo, Batangas.

Investigators said Sanchez boarded the Everlasting Transport Corporation bus in Tuguerarao, Cagayan.

When the bus reached the Sta. Rita exit at NLEX, Sanchez suddenly grabbed a male passenger and at knife point held him as hostage.

The bus driver stopped the bus and together with the bus conductor and some passengers were able to left the bus unharmed but 13 other passengers were left inside with the hostage taker.

It was at this point that security personnel of NLEX secured the area and at the same time, called for police assistance.

A joint team from the Guiguinto police headed by Cruz and members of the Bulacan PNP SWAT and Provincial Public Safety Company arrived and began negotiating with the hostage taker.

One of the demands was to bring members of the media.

Cruz said the two officers earlier posed as mediamen but Sanchez changed his mind and instead asked for a car.

It was at this point that the male hostage managed to break lose from Sanchez who then grabbed a female passenger.

The police team circled a bus and one of the passengers signaled that the auxiliary door is open.

The police team managed to get inside and was able to save the female passenger.

Cruz said the two police officers sustained minor wounds when they wrestled the knife from Sanchez

No other passengers was hurt.

Cruz said that the suspect later told investigators that he was receiving death threats and made him to do what he did.

The suspect is now under the custody of the Guiguinto police while appropriate charges are being readied for filing against him. (PNA) 

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Cases of 'hot meat' smuggling in Bulacan decline

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Oct. 9 (PNA) -- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Thursday commended the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) and local government units (LGUs) for significantly scoring against the proliferation of hot meat in the province.

Alvarado said that it is in this time of the year when meats are in high demand for the coming Yuletide celebrations, thus "cases of hot meat smuggling proliferate."

“But those days are gone. I thank our Task Force: Botcha and the support of our local and village officials for doing a good job by being vigilant and always on guard for violators,” he said.

The governor cited that the passage of the provincial ordinance against hot meat has given more teeth in its enforcement as well as the massive information campaign and community participation to neutralize the selling the double dead meats in the markets.

Alvarado also said that the provincial government, through the PVO, has intensified its commitment to ensure healthy and safe meat consumption of every Bulakenyos as part of the celebration of Meat Safety Consciousness Week this coming October 20-24, 2014.

Anchored on the theme, “Kaligtasan ng Mamamayan at Katuwang sa Kalakalan,” the provincial government, in cooperation with the LGUs, are all set to increase checkpoints and conduct series of meat monitoring and inspection in different public markets and slaughterhouses in Bulacan.

Likewise, he said they will conduct series of meat inspection with the help of PVO, Bulacan Provincial Police Office, and Provincial Public Safety Company to assure the Bulakenyos that the meat and meat products they buy are safe, fit for human consumption, and free from any contamination.

“We are working hand in hand to continuously enforce and intensify our battle against the illegal trading of double-dead meat in the province and we will continue to safeguard the public’s health by strict monitoring and inspection of meat and meat products in the markets,” the governor said.

Alvarado said the celebration aims to create public awareness about the government’s vigorous efforts to ensure healthy, sanitary and safe practices in the production and consumption of meat and meat products in the country.

Provincial veterinarian Dr. Voltaire Basinang, meanwhile, confirmed that there was a significant decrease in cases of hot meat smuggling this year compared to previous years.

“There is a significant dive, it’s almost zero this year,” he said.

Basinang said the provincial ordinance otherwise known as the Provincial Hot Meat Ordinance, which prohibits the transport and distribution of double-dead meat, is strictly being implemented with the cooperation of the provincial government.

He also reminded everyone that vehicles carrying meats should have livestock handlers license from the Department of Agriculture and animal traders should also have veterinary health certificate from licensed veterinarians with shipping permits from the PVO.

He also advised the public to look for the seal of inspection and meat inspection certificate before buying from any meat vendor.

The celebration is pursuant to the Proclamation No. 276 signed by former president Fidel V. Ramos, declaring every third week of October as Meat Safety Consciousness Week, which is the stepping stone of the government to fulfill a vision of a healthy and better life for every Filipino. (PNA) 

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Gov’s task force recommends transfer and construction of new Bulacan provincial jail By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Oct. 6 (PNA) -- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Monday said the provincial government is set to seek the help of the national government to decongest the overcrowded Bulacan Provincial Jail (BPJ) as the number of inmates continue to swell to more than 3,000 when it only has a capacity to hold 400 to 700 detainees.

The governor made the move after seeing the conditions of inmates at the BPJ and after reading the recommendation of the task force, he studied solutions to what he described as “a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.”

“The present condition of inmates at the provincial jail is no longer bearable. It is about time we build a new bigger provincial penitentiary,” he said.

Alvarado said that the swelling of inmates at the BPJ is due to the all out campaign of the Bulacan police against crime, thus sending wrongdoers—mostly those with drug related cases—behind bars.

”Even if we continue to pour all-out efforts to make our provincial jail an ideal place for reformation, it is still in vain because of overcrowding. No matter how the five Pillars of Justice doubled their efforts in fast-tracking their cases, it is still not enough because they keep on increasing on a daily basis,” he added.

The governor said he will bring the matter to the attention of the national government, based on the recommendation of the task force he commissioned to address the problem.

Alvarado said that the task force has recommended to search for a new site-- an ideal place to build a more spacious jail where the inmates can exercise, plant vegetables, raise livestock and meditate as part of their reformation.

“Even if they are prisoners, they should be provided with a more humane living condition and not be like sardines," he said.

He said that it would entail a bigger budget to build a new penitentiary with better facilities but the present situation shows that it has to be done.

Aside from looking for a new site to build a more spacious provincial jail, Alvarado also said that the task force is also considering the proposal of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan to build district jails in the four congressional districts of the province.

“We are studying all possibilities but we need the help of the national government in constructing a new jail with better facilities which the provincial government will manage,” he added. (PNA) 

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Colorful floats, street plays to highlight Bulacan's 'Singkaban Fiesta 2014'

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Sept. 6 (PNA) -- Street plays depicting the province’s glorious past and colorful floats will highlight the opening ceremonies of the annual week-long Singkaban Festival also known as “Linggo ng Bulakan” on Monday.

The festival also coincides with the feast day of the Immaculate Concepcion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint at the Basilica Minore (formerly the Malolos Cathedral) here.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the festivity will kick-off with a flag ceremony and prayers at 7 a.m. on Monday in front of the provincial capitol.

He said that Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV will be present to grace the occasion, which is being held every second week of September and will culminate on September 15 to commemorate the anniversary of the historic Malolos Congress at the Barasoain Church.

Alvarado said that this year’s “Singkaban Festival” will carry the theme “Arkong Kawayan Sagisag ng Sining at Kalinangan ng Bulacan.”

The opening program will be followed by a civic parade that will be highlighted by street plays depicting the rich historic past of the province.

Colorful floats will also pass through the historic streets of Malolos from the Basilica Minore to the provincial capitol.

At 10 a.m., Alvarado, Aquino and Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando will formally open the “Dakilang Bulakenyo at Lakan Sining Exhibits”, Regional Trade Fair, Bulacan Food Festival Exposition (BUFFEX), and the Expanded Bulacan Pasalubong Center at the Gusaling Gat Blas Ople, Hiyas Pavilion, Bulacan Trade, Tourism and Business Assistance Center at the capitol compound here.

Alvarado also said that the Singkaban Festival will also be formally opened simultaneous in the different congressional districts of the province.

The governor is inviting everyone to witness and be a part of the celebration of the grand history and colorful tradition of Bulacan.

"Let us reminisce the colorful and historical past of our noble province and we will do this as our guide towards bountiful future," Alvarado added. (PNA) 

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Escudero alarmed by series of kidnappings; wants PNP to explain

MANILA, Sept. 2 (PNA) – Alarmed by the rising cases of kidnapping in the country, Sen. Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero on Tuesday said he will verify the reports in the Senate hearing on the proposed Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) budget for 2015.

”I will verify if the reports are true that the kidnapping is on the rise in our country, specially in Metro Manila,” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said in a Senate media interview.

Escudero has also put to task the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up its campaign to arrest the perpetrators in order to allay fears of a restive public.

Escudero said crimes brazenly done in broad daylight is an indication of the criminals’ contempt for law and order and a clear mockery of police authorities.

“Why are criminals so emboldened nowadays to perpetrate their crimes in public? Why do these things happen under the noses of our police authorities?” Escudero asked.

“I have received feedback from friends who have witnessed kidnappings or relatives of victims who have been subjected to abduction and have paid ransom for their releases. There’s a segment of the community who is already in panic and there must be a concrete action to abate these crimes and prevent the spread of alarm among the public,” he said.

Recent incidents of kidnap-for-ransom have been reported with the perpetrators even killing their victims, according to the senator from Bicol.

Last week, Chinese-Filipino businessman Benito Chao was snatched in Bulacan and was found dead hours after. The kidnappers were reported to have asked for a P20-million ransom but a series of negotiations by the family has brought it down to P15 million.

Just last Monday, a photo went viral showing a group of heavily-armed men appeared to be forcing passengers of one vehicle at gun point to get out while in the middle of EDSA. When police authorities arrived, they gunmen were gone.

“These are crimes that do not even hide under the cloak of darkness anymore. It is very disturbing. These are the reported ones, but I am sure there are more which have remained unreported by the victims and their families out of fear of retaliation from their aggressors,” Escudero said.

“I ask the PNP to intensify its campaign against criminals and beef up security to protect the public. The people need to be assured that they can walk our streets to and from their homes,” he added. (PNA)

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Bulacan gov creates special committee for improvement of jail management system

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Sept. 1 (PNA) -- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado has created a special jail oversight committee that would assess the implementation of the penitentiary guidelines and programs at the Bulacan Provincial Jail (BPJ).

The governor said that the provincial government is determined to improve the jail facilities and to develop standards for jail operations in line with the noble crusade of the institution to enhance and strengthen its reliability.

“We are in a battle for a good cause of upgrading the provincial jail and the strict implementation of the regulations is the best way to improve the management system,” Alvarado said.

He also said that the provincial government, BPJ and the Five Pillars of Justice work hand-in-hand in the criminal investigation and immediate movement of the cases of almost 3,000 prisoners incarcerated in the provincial jail.

Meanwhile, BPJ warden Lt. Col. Pepito Plamenco, together with the committee head, provincial administrator Eugenio Payongayong have examined the penitentiary guidelines and assessed the implementation of additional security measures such as the Task Force Droga and Task Force Magdalena that are against the entry of illegal drugs and prostitution in the jail premises.

“We are implementing the penitentiary guidelines based on the seven point agenda of the administration and this is our strategy for an organized care and treatment program for inmates to have a chance of a meaningful life after imprisonment,” Plamenco said.

He also said that they conduct livelihood trainings like the abaca and buntal hat weaving that serves as the source of income of the inmates for their SSS Alkansya Program.

He said that there are also regular lectures and seminars on drug rehabilitation, dental and medical missions, sports activities and worship programs intended for the inmates.

“We are strictly implementing our guidelines, we conduct weekly searching in different cells and we are focused on the implementation of security measures,” Plamenco added.

The governor, meanwhile, is encouraging all sectors of the provincial government to support the ongoing enhancement of the provincial jail. (PNA) 

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Pre-trial of Palparan’s case moved to Sept. 8

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Sept 1 (PNA) -- The pre-trial of the kidnapping case with serious illegal detention against retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan was reset by the court Monday next week pending the hearing of the two motions filed by the lawyer of the controversial military officer last Friday.

Bulacan RTC Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales on Monday said the court will first decide on the “motion for reconsideration for change of custody” and a “motion to quash information” filed by Palparan’s camp last week.

Militant groups and pro-Palparan supporters were again present at the Bulawagan ng Katarungan compound here.

A phalanx of government security forces, including civil disturbance units of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office, were also deployed to prevent tension and untoward incident, according to Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina.

Palparan is facing charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention in connection to the missing UP students Karen Empeño and Shierlyn Cadapan.

Palparan said he is requesting the court to transfer him to the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) where he said he will safer.

He said he is more comfortable there because he and the AFP has common enemy -- the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Palparan stressed that the threat to his life is real and insisted that he is an “easy target” because it was confirmed by his camp that there are at least communist rebels also detained at Bulacan Provincial Jail (BPJ) here.

Aside from this, Palparan said that the SWAT team from the Philippine National Police (PNP) assigned to secure him has other important obligation in the maintenance of peace and order.

Palparan was committed to the BPJ after Judge Gonzales junked his earlier motion to stay detention at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) shortly after he was arrested and presented in court more than a week ago.

In filing the motion to quash information, Palparan said that they are requesting the court to conduct preliminary investigation because the kidnapping with serious illegal detention is wrong.

He explained that the allegation that he kidnapped the two students was filed when he was still in active military service.

He said that the case of kidnapping should not be filed to an active member of the military but only to individual citizen.

Palparan also said that there was no ransom money demanded based to the testimonies of the families of the missing UP student, thus, there is no case of kidnapping.(PNA) 

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Palparan files two motions before Bulacan RTC - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 30 (PNA)--More than a week has passed since retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan was detained inside the Bulacan Provincial Jail but the controversial military officer continues to fear for his life.

The once fierce general said that the threat to his life continues to grow every day prompting his lawyers to file Friday a “motion for reconsideration for change of custody” and a “motion to quash Information” before the sala of Bulacan RTC Judge Teodora Gonzales.

Palparan is facing charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention in connection to missing UP students Karen Empeño and Shierlyn Cadapan.

Palparan said he is requesting the court to transfer him to the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) where he said he will be safer.

He said he is more comfortable there because he and the AFP has common enemy—the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Palparan stressed that the threat to his life is real and insisted that he is an “easy target” because it was confirmed by his camp that there are at least communist rebels also detained at the provincial penitentiary.

Aside from this, Palparan said that the SWAT team from the Philippine National Police assigned to secure him has other important obligations in the maintenance of peace and order.

"I am safer at the AFP headquarters and the policemen assigned to secure me can do their other tasks," he said.

In filing the motion to quash information, Palparan said that they are requesting the court to conduct preliminary investigation because the kidnapping with serious illegal detention is wrong.

He explained that the allegation that he kidnapped the two students was filed when he was still in active military service.

He said that the case of kidnapping should not be filed against an active member of the military but only against individual citizens.

Palparan also said that there was no ransom money demanded based on the testimonies of the families of the missing UP student, so there is no case of kidnapping. 

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PRO-3 joins the 11th Police Service Anniversary celebration

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- The Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) on Tuesday joined in the commemoration of the 113th Police Service Anniversary held at the parade ground here.

Aurora Governor Gerardo A. Noveras served as the guest of honor and speaker in the celebration with a theme “Pulisya Kaagapay ang mamamayan para sa patuloy na Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran” which aptly manifests the Philippine National Police's (PNP) and PRO3’s continuing partnership with the community for sustained proficiency and excellence in law enforcement towards a stable peace and order particularly in Central Luzon.

The activity was highlighted with the giving of recognition to deserving PNP personnel and best units in the region as well as special awards to local government officials, AFP counterparts and civilian sectors, including the tri-media who have contributed vastly to the upliftment of PNP-PRO3.

Among the awardees were Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves of Nueva Ecija Police provincial director, Achievement Award in the Field of Police Administration (PCO Level); SPO1 Ma Catalina D. Manarang - Achievement Award in the Field of Police Administration (PNCO Level); Chief Inspector Melvin Montante, Chief of Intelligence Division, Achievement Award in the Field of Police Operations (PCO Level); SPO1 Rhodora D. Cortez -Achievement Award in the Field of Police Operations (PNCO Level); Inspector Napoleon Cruz - Achievement Award in the Field of Criminal Investigation (PCO Level);

PO3 Rodel M Borja - Achievement Award in the Field of Criminal Investigation (PNCO Level); Superintendent Roldan Luna- Achievement Award in the Field of Intelligence (PCO Level); SPO1 Dominador M. Canlas - Achievement Award in the Field of Intelligence (PNCO Level); Inspector Alipio Villavicencio- Achievement Award in the Field of General Support (PCO Level); PO3 Augustine M. Ingaw - Achievement Award in the Field of General Support (PNCO Level); NUP Cynthia Q. Placido - Achievement Award in the Field of General Support (NUP Supervisory Level); and, NUP Nestor H Soro - Achievement Award in the Field of General Support (NUP Non- Supervisory Level).

Other PNP personnel who were awarded with Medalya ng Kagalingan are Superintendent Roginalda Francisco; PO3 Mylin G. De Guzman; SPO3 Rommel L Manansala; and, PO1 Ronnie G. Tamalian Jr.

The awardees for best police units include the following: Gerona Municipal Police Station - Recognition for the Unit with Notable Accomplishment Beyond the Rating Period (CPS/MPS Level); Meycauayan City Police Station - Achievement Award for the Solution of Sensational Criminal Case (MPS/CPS Level);

Tarlac Provincial Public Safety Company - Achievement Unit Award in the Campaign Against Insurgency (PPSC/CPSC Level); Regional Crime Laboratory Office 3 - Achievement Award in the Field of Forensic Investigation; Regional Health Service 3 - Best Regional Administrative Support Unit; Regional Highway Patrol Unit 3 - Best Regional Operations Support Unit;

Bulacan Police Provincial Office - Recognition for the Unit with Notable Accomplishment on Disaster, Rescue and Relief Operations (PPO/CPO Level); and Nueva Ecija Police Provincial Office - Recognition for the Unit with the Most Number of Firearms Accounted during the Election Period (PPO/CPO Level) and Recognition for the Unit with Notable Accomplishment in the Campaign against Illegal Drugs (PPO/CPO Level).

Noveras, in his message, lauded the men and women of PRO3 for continuously doing their jobs efficiently.

After the ceremony, a simple gathering was held at the PRO3 Multi-Purpose Hall which was attended by PRO3 Police Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers, non-uniformed personnel and guests. (PNA) 

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PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, Interpol-HK police probe “cyber sextortion” operations in Bulacan - By Emil G. Gamos

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan, Aug 24 (PNA)--The Interpol-Hong Kong police is closely coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in investigating the alleged multi-million dollar money laundering operation of a Bulacan-based international ‘cyber-blackmail’ and extortion syndicate that has raked in more than $ 100-million using minors.

Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, Central Luzon Police Regional director, said that this cropped up after the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PACG), in coordination with Interpol-Hong Kong police busted the gang with the arrest of eight suspects, including its female leader in a series of operations conducted in several suspected lairs in San Jose Del Monte City and Norzagaray town.

Petrasanta identified the gang’s leader as Ma. Cecilia Caparas-Regalachuela, who owns two Western Union branches in the province of Bulacan.

Also arrested was Regalachuela’s daughter, Marcel Jing.

Sr. Supt. Gilbert Sosa, PNP-PACG chief, tagged Regalachuela as ‘queen’ of the ‘sextortion’ syndicate after they rescued five minors, all gays, from the gang’s lair in San Jose Del Monte City Thursday night.

Based on the complaint of Interpol-Hong Kong Police Loue Kwan, the group has victimized 477 and has netted some $ 4 million Hong Kong dollars last year alone.

In Macau, 375 cases have been reported.

Their modus: A suspect will pose as an attractive female on Facebook and request a prospective victim to add her as ‘friend’.

After establishing acquaintance through private messages with their ‘target’, the suspect will lure him to use video call softwares such as Skype, Viber, among others.

During the video call, the victim is enticed to get naked and provoked to perform lewd acts in front of the web camera which are, unknowingly, recorded by the syndicate.

After capturing sufficient lewd video footages, the call will be terminated.

Thereafter, the victim will receive threatening messages in Facebook that the videos will be posted in his wall or sent to his friends and relatives unless he shells out cash to the suspect.

The victim would then be instructed to deposit an initial amount of HK$ 3,000 (P135,000) through the Western Union or the video will be uploaded.

Sr. Supt. Ferdinand Divina, Bulacan PNP provincial director, said seized from six separate houses being used by the syndicate were 13 laptops, several cellphones, passports, pocket wi-fi devices, several storage and network devices and at least 11 motor vehicles.

Divina said the arrested suspects will be charged with robbery/extortion, violation of RA 10364 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act) in relation to RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The police described the latest operations against internet-based criminal syndicates as “Strikeback II – Codename Goya”.

Goya is a colloquial term among gays meaning chocolates, sweets, to allure prospective and gullible male-victims who are easily attracted to sexy Facebook accounts.

According to Kwan, the syndicate has already been in operation even prior to the passage of the cybercrime law in the country.

It was estimated that more than $ 50 million has already been scooped by the gang from victims all over Hong Kong, Taipei, Macau, Singapore and the USA. (PNA) 

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Aftermath of drowning tragedy: Old folk believe river in San Miguel, Bulacan is “enchanted” - By Emil G. Gamos

SAN MIGUEL, Bulacan, Aug 24 (PNA)--Alluring, mystical and deadly.

This is how old residents in this historic town describe the mystical beauty of the mountains of Biak-na-Bato and its pristine crystal clear rivers.

Old folks here still believe that the pristine beauty of the Madlum river and the mountains at the Biak-na-bato national park are enchanted and still inhabited by “super natural beings” who were angered by the massive destruction of the mountains due to irresponsible mining and illegal logging operations.

These legends and tall tales cropped-up anew after seven tourism students of the Bulacan State University died when they were swept away by raging waters cascading from the mountains while trekking the pristine but dangerous river Tuesday last week.

Residents in the area said that this was not the first time that the river claimed the lives of people.

In 2004, eight youths also died while exploring the scenic river.

Like the tragic incident that befell the ill-fated tourism students last week, the victims in 2004 were also swept away by the sudden avalance of raging waters from the mountains.

"According to the old folk, the fairies are crying and when they are crying, the strong rains are pouring that result to the rampaging waters," said veteran Bulakenyo journalist Cecilio Franista, president of the Bulacan Press Club and a native of this town.

Franista said he still remembers the warnings of his grand parents.

"My grandparents told us before that we should always pay respect when we are in that area and be cautious because the rivers were claiming lives," he said.

He said that he cannot comment if the legends are true but he believes that the raging flashflood can also be the result of the wanton destruction of the rain forest in the mountains of Biak-na-Bato due to intensive mining and illegal logging activities.

He said that the mountains of Biak-na-Bato is gifted with deposits of the rare but expensive tea rose marble that can only be found in the said mountains.

The mining of the tea rose marble was only stopped after Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado issued an executive order banning the extraction of mineral deposits in the area, Franista added.

Biak-na-Bato National Park is a protected area of the country that extends to the nearby municipalities of San Ildefonso and Dona Remedioas Trinidad covering a total area of 2,117 hectares.

It was declared a national park in 1937 by President Manuel Luis Quezon by virtue of its association with the history and site of the Biak-na-Bato republic.

The park consists of a cave network and a system of rivers and trails of both historical and ecological importance.

Situated only 80 kilometers northeast of Manila it is fast becoming a popular weekend eco-adventure destination for the city dwellers.

Biak-na-Bato National Park is centered on a mountain gorge sliced by the Balaong River in the Sierra Madre mountain range.

More than a hundred caves of varying sizes and crystalline mineral formations are spread across the park.

Among the most explored caves are the Aguinaldo Cave, once the headquarters of President Emilio Aguinaldo, and the Bahay Paniki or Bat Cave, said to be home of at least six species of winged mammals: kabag-kabag, ngusong kabayo, bungisngis, sibsib, bayakan and pakibu.

In wake of the recent tragedy at the river, Alvarado issued an executive order banning field trips at the said river, especially during rainy season.

He also said that plans are underway to put a range gauge warning system where sirens will blare when surge of rain waters begin cascading to the river.

He also said warning signs will place in the said areas.

Police are still investigating the recent drowning incident at the Madlum river. (PNA) 

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'Sextortion' syndicate busted in Bulacan 
By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Aug. 22 (PNA) -- Operatives from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) together with other law enforcement agencies have successfully neutralized a "sextortion" syndicate during operations in San Juan Del Monte and Norzagaray, Bulacan Thursday.

Eight suspects were arrested in the operation called "Operation Strikeback 2" which was spearheaded by the ACG along with Police Regional Office 3, Special Action Force and Interpol. Recovered from the former were 106 pieces of electronic devices reportedly used in their illegal activities.

Also rescued in this law enforcement operation were five minors, ACG spokesperson Chief Insp. Jhoanna Gracia Manlapaz-Fabro said.

"Strikeback2" is a follow up operation of "Strikeback" which took place last April and resulted in the arrest of 58 suspects.

It highlights a strong international cooperation, collaboration and coordination in dealing with cybercrime.

She added that the operation stemmed from the complaint received by ACG from sextortion victims based in Hong Kong.

A series of surveillance operations were conducted in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte Bulacan and confirmed the existence of such illegal activities.

Fabro said two of the arrested suspects were identified as Ma. Cecilia Caparas-Regalachuela, the reported ringleader, and her daughter Marcel Jing Caparas-Regachuela, the owner of two Western Union branches in Bulacan which the syndicate uses as remittance agency for their "sextortion" money. (PNA) 

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Senior house officer seeks criminal probe into BSU field trip tragedy - By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Aug. 22 (PNA) -- Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo on Friday has called for criminal and administrative investigations into the drowning of seven Bulacan State University (BSU) students during a school-sanctioned excursion.

“We are counting on the authorities to get to the bottom of the horrible tragedy, and to take the appropriate actions against those accountable for possible criminal negligence,” said Romulo, chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education.

“We want answers. Just like the parents of the victims, we want to know why their sons and daughters were recklessly exposed to such extreme danger in the course of what should have been a trouble-free school outing,” he pointed out.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” he added.

The seven BSU students drowned on Tuesday when a flash flood swept them as they were crossing the Madlum River during a field study at the Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan.

The victims were part of group of about 180 BSU Tourism students on the school jaunt.

“Way back in September 2004, eight people on a picnic, mostly children and teenagers, were also swept away when the Madlum River suddenly burst its banks due to rapid flooding,” Romulo pointed out.

“The river and its banks are clearly unsafe, especially during the rainy season. The students should not have been there at this time of the year,” he stressed.

The veteran lawmaker urged universities to exercise effective guardianship of their students during off campus educational activities, saying their safety should be assured at all times.

A Commission on Higher Education official earlier said those found responsible for the tragedy may face criminal, civil and administrative charges.

The dead students were identified as Mikhail Alcantara, Philip Rodney Alejo, Maiko Bartolome, Michelle Ann Rose Bonzo, Helena Marcelo, Madel Navarro and Jeanette Rivera.

The BSU has already formed a committee “to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy.” The school has also vowed “to take decisive measures” based on the panel’s findings.

The University has expressed its condolences to the bereaved families and offered them immediate assistance. (PNA) 

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Bulacan State University officials to help probe into drowning incident - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug 22 (PNA)--Officials of the Bulacan State University (BulSU) will help in the investigation of the drowning incident that killed seven of their tourism students in San Miguel town last Tuesday afternoon.

BulSU president Dr. Mariano De Jesus said that a committee was already formed to help in the ongoing probe.

At the same time, De Jesus said that BulSU will give full support to the victims and survivors of the field trip that turned into a tragedy.

“We will help in the investigation of this unfortunate incident. Meantime I am calling every one to pray for our beloved students,” he said.

Students and faculty members of BulSU will hold a prayer vigil where they will light candles after a holy mass in a show of sympathy for the victims.

On Thursday, the body of the seventh fatality, ex-EB Babe Maiko Eleva Ison Bartolome was found under a big rock where she might have been trapped and covered with logs.

Rescuers could not easily penetrate that location because of a deep portion of a Madlum cave surrounded by trees.

The bodies of students Mikhail Alcantara, Phil Rodney Alejo, Michelle Ann Rose Bonzo, and Helena Marcelo were recovered on Tuesday afternoon. The following day, the remains of Jenette Rivera and Madel Navarro were found.

Two other students who also crossed the river, identified as Daniel Cunanan and Thea Hernandez, were rescued and survived.

The victims were among the tourism students who joined a field trip at the historic Madlum cave where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo established the headquarters of Filipino Revolutionaries during the Philippine-Spanish war.

It is now being investigated why no teachers accompanied the students who trekked the then calm river before a torrent of cascading water swept them away at the height of a sudden down pour.

The Commission on Higher Education said BulSU may have been careless in following procedures when conducting a field trip.

It said the school failed to submit the proper paperwork, which includes a risk assessment of the educational trip.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, who personally supervised the search and rescue operation since Tuesday, has issued an executive order banning field trips at the scenic but accident prone tourist spot until the local government can ensure that it is safe for the public. (PNA) 

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(Update) Death toll in Biak na Bato drowning rises to 5; search continues for 2 missing - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- The death toll in the Monday drowning incident at the Madlum river in San Miguel town rose to five Wednesday morning as rescuers continue to search for the two other missing tourism students of Bulacan State University.

The first year tourism students of Bulacan State University were swept away by raging waters triggered by a sudden downpour on Monday afternoon.

Latest reports from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said that the body of Janet Rivera was retrieved around 10:20 am Wednesday several miles away from where the students were swept away by the rampaging current.

As of press time, two others are still missing, according to Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado who cancelled previous engagements to personally lead the search and rescue operations since Tuesday.

The subject of the search and rescue operation are Madel Navarro and Maico Bartolome.

Meanwhile, the four students whose bodies were retrieved Tuesday afternoon were identified as Michael Alcantara, Michelle Banzil, Helena Marcelo and Sean Alejo.

In the wake of the accident, Alvarado issued an executive order banning field trips and trekking activities at the said river.

“While the pristine waters within the Biak-na-Bato national park continues to allure tourists, we must not discount the dangers that sudden rains in the mountains could bring,” the governor said adding, that warning signs and precautionary measures should be put in proper places to ensure that accidents would not happen again.

Residents in the area said that the river always become “wild and raging” every time heavy rains fall in the mountains of Biak-Na-Bato, where massive extraction of the rare but expensive tea rose marble took place more than four years ago.

The mining of the expensive marble was only stopped when Alvarado assumed post as governor in 2010.

Initial reports received by the PDRRMO said that four buses carrying tourism students of the BSU went on a field trip at the historical Biak-na-Bato caves.

PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said that while trekking the river near the Madlum cave, the river suddenly rose and swept away the students.

The river is full of big boulders and limestone that are highly dangerous when the river gets swollen with strong raging current. (PNA) 

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4 Bulacan students drown, 2 rescued, 2 missing at Biak-na-Bato park - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan Aug.20(PNA)-- Four students of the Bulacan State University drowned while two were rescued and two others missing after they were carried off by strong currents while crossing the river at the Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel town Tuesday afternoon.

Reports received by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said that four tourism buses carrying tourism students of the BSU went on a field trip at the historical Biak-na-Bato caves.

PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said that while trekking the river near the Madlum cave, the river suddenly rose and swept away eight students.

Mungcal said rescuers were able to find six of the students but four of them were already dead while the two others were given first aid treatment and were then brought to the nearest hospital.

Rescuers are still trying to find the two other students.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that additional rescue teams from the San Miguel MDRRMO, Army Scout Rangers and Bulacan rescue are now also helping in the search and possible rescue of the two missing students.

Local residents said that water cascading from the mountains of Biak-na-bato occasionally triggers flashfloods with strong currents when heavy rains pour .(PNA) 

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Palparan “sleepless” on his first night at the Bulacan Provincial Jail - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 19 (PNA)--A tired and weary-looking retired Army major General Jovito Palparan on Tuesday said he still fears for his life inside the Bulacan Provincial Jail (BPJ).

In an interview inside his cell, Palparan said he has a hard time sleeping on his first night at the BPJ.

“The threat to my life is real. I still feel that I would not last here long. I hope the court will reconsider my request to stay at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention cell where I feel comfortable,” he said.

Palparan was committed to a cell at the BPJ that he now shares with 72- year old inmate Edgardo Franscisco after Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales junked his petition to allow him to stay at the NBI detention cell during his arraignment Monday morning.

The court entered a “not guilty” plea after Palparan did not make a comment because according to his lawyer Narzal Mallares, his client is still assailing the charges filed against him.

Palparan is facing charges in connection with the disappearance of Univeristy of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan in 2006 when Palparan was then the commanding general of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija.

His co- accused are (ret.) Lt. Col. Felipe G. Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo L. Osorio Anotado and a fourth suspect M/Sgt. Rizal O. Hilaro who is still at-large.

Palparan said he is sad that the court made a hasty decision on his petition to stay at the NBI detention cell.

He said his camp knew that there are at least four alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels detained in the same jail.

After his arraignment Monday morning, Palparan narrowly escaped being lynched by an angry mob of militant groups who charged towards the rear entrance upon learning that Palparan will be committed to the BPJ.

The militants showed their anger and were determined to “attack” the retired army general but a heavy phalanx of heavily-armed government security forces prevented them.

Bulacan Provincial Jail Warden Pepito Plamenco, on the other hand, said that eight members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit from the Bulacan Police Provincial Office were sent by Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina to augment the jail guards in securing the controversial retired army general who earned the monicker “Berdugo” or butcher for his relentless campaign against insurgency and alleged involvement in killings of political activists.

Plamenco also said that their “high profile” detainee can order the foods that he wants to eat.

As of press time, Plamenco said that the retired general’s health condition looks okay.

"He (Palparan) said that he was not able to sleep well," he said.

The next hearing of Palparan's case is on September 1. (PNA) 

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Bulacan court enters plea of 'not guilty' for Palparan - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 18 (PNA) -- The Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 entered a plea of “not guilty” for retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan after his camp did not make a comment on his arraignment Monday.

Palparan, who was captured in Manila last week after three years in hiding, is facing a case of kidnapping with serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Shierlyn Cadapan.

Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales also junked the “urgent ex parte motion to stay detention” at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and ordered the court bailiff to commit Palparan at the nearby Bulacan Provincial Jail where a solitary cell was prepared for the bemedalled but controversial retired Army general.

Palparan asked for consideration, saying that his life will be in great risk at Bulacan Provincial Jail.

After listening to the comment of NBI representatives who claimed that they cannot hold Palparan at their holding area for a long period of time, Judge Gonzales denied the retired general's motion.

Aside from this, the court said the Bulacan Provincial Jail is ready to keep Palparan safe while under detention.

The judge said that “it is more prudent, expeditious and less expensive for his travel every time there is a hearing for his case.”

Bulacan jail warden Pepito Plamenco said that they have added security measures to ensure that Palparan will be safe while under detention.

Meanwhile, the Hall of Justice at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court here became a virtual “war zone” as militant groups and supporters of Palparan met at the same ground while the captured former military officer was being arraigned at the sala of Judge Gonzales.

The frail-looking Palparan narrowly escaped being lynched by an angry mob of militant groups as he was being whisked toward the Bulacan Provincial Jail but was saved from harm by the composite heavily armed security forces of the NBI, Bulacan police, Philippine Army, Navy and Air Force.

Palparan will share the cell with 72-year-old inmate Edgardo Francisco who told local mediamen that the fomer Army general should not be scared at the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

He said he is excited to share his cell with Palparan adding that he will tell him Bible stories once the controversial military officer is committed at the jail.

”The facility is orderly and comfortable. It is my honor to be with the general in one cell," Francisco said.

He also jested that Palparan should bring an aide to cook, fetch water and clean the cell because there is nobody there to do that except the two of them and he is too old to do those chores for the former general.

During the arraignment, various militant groups led by the “Desaparecidos” (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) took turns in lambasting Palparan shouting “It is only the court, not only the government but the public will ask you to repay your sins."

While they were holding their rally in front of the Hall of Justice, a pro-Palparan group was also holding a vigil at the rear entrance of the Bulacan RTC where Palparan was earlier whisked inside the heavily guarded court compound at around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The pro-Palparan group, numbering about 40 persons, belongs to the Guardians, Bantay Partylist, Wildcat Association and the AFP retirees association.

They claimed that Palparan is a “patriot and a hero.”

The militant group charged towards the rear entrance upon learning that Palparan is being brought to the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

The militants showed their anger and were determined to “attack” the retired Army general but a heavy phalanx of heavily-armed government security forces prevented them.

Earlier, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado instructed Plamenco to beef up security at the Bulacal Provincial Jail as per instruction of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas.

Plamenco said that they are ready to secure Palparan adding that they have previously held “high risk” detainees like James Chua, Dominguez brothers, Alfred Mendiola and Central Luzon CPP-NPA secretary general Efren De Guzman.

"Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Division has already provided additional team from the Provincial Public Safety Company,” Plamenco said.

The court scheduled the next hearing on September 1, this year. (PNA) 

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Palparan arrest show government commitment to bring all wanted people to justice

MANILA, Aug. 18 (PNA) -- The arrest of retired Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is wanted for the alleged abduction and disappearance of two UP coeds, is a clear manifestation of the government's commitment to bring all people wanted by the law to the bar of justice.

This was stressed by 1st Civil Relations Group commander Major Emmanuel Garcia on Monday.

"This is also a chance for Major General Palparan to defend himself at the proper forum and at the same time seek medical help due to his age and health condition," he added.

As it is, Garcia said the case of Palparan must be left to the court to hear and decide.

Garcia's unit is attached to the Tarlac-based Northern Luzon Command.

Palparan was arrested last Aug. 12 in Sta. Mesa, Manila after a three-year flight from authorities.

Palparan went into hiding after the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 issued a warrant arrest for him, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr., Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and Master Sgt. Rizal Hilario in 2011 for the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26, 2006.

Anotado and Osorio voluntarily surrendered. Hilario remains at large.

Palparan's last assignment at the Army was commander of the Nueva Ecija-based 7th Infantry Division. He retired from the service in Sept. 11, 2006. (PNA) 

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Palparan camp asks Malolos RTC for client's stay under NBI custody - By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, Aug. 14 (PNA) -- The camp of former Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan on Thursday asked the Malolos City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to make their client remain under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) due to security threats.

Atty. Narzal Mallares, the counsel of Palparan, filed the "Urgent ex-parte motion to stay in detention at the NBI detention facilities, Manila" before the Malolos City RTC.

The camp of the former general argued that the RTC should take into consideration the security of their client.

The motion also cited that there are "intelligence reports" in the possession of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stating that the New People's Army (NPA) has formed a liquidation squad which is planning to execute Palparan.

As of Thursday, there is an existing "commitment order" issued by the Malolos City RTC directing that Palparan should be detained at the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

Meanwhile, the arraignment of the former general has been set on August 18 at 10 a.m. for the case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention allegedly committed against University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26, 2006. (PNA) 

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Palace commends AFP, NBI on Palparan's arrest By Lilybeth G.Ison

MANILA, Aug. 12 (PNA) -- Malacanang lauded on Tuesday the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the arrest of retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, who was wanted for the disappearance of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.

"We commend the AFP and the NBI for their steadfast doggedness in pursuing all leads to find and capture Jovito Palparan. Today, this resolute determination has paid off, the long arm of the law has finally reached Mr Palparan," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a statement sent to Palace reporters via SMS.

He said President Benigno S. Aquino III has promised that the government will go after those who evade the law.

"That promise to capture General Palparan has been fulfilled today," Lacierda said.

After close to three years in hiding, Palparan was arrested by the NBI Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division in a rented house in Sta. Mesa, Manila at around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Arrested with him were Grace Roa and Reynaldo Ladao, who will be facing charges for violating Presidential Decree No. 1829, or the "Decree Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders," for harboring Palparan.

Palparan is facing kidnapping with serious illegal detention charges before the regional trial court in Malolos, Bulacan for the abduction and subsequent disappearance of U.P. students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in a press conference at the NBI headquarters where the retired army general is temporarily detained, said Palparan would be arraigned on August 18, when he will also be presented to the court trying his case.

His two co-accused -- Army Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio -- were earlier denied bail by the court. Another co-accused, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, is still at large.

Palparan went into hiding in December 2011 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. (PNA) 

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High tide submerges Obando town, classes in 8 villages suspended By Emil G. Gamos

OBANDO, Bulacan, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- It is a sunny Monday in the entire province of Bulacan but heavy flooding caused by high tide prompted local officials in this town to suspend classes in all levels in eight of the 11 villages here.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said that classes were not suspended in the villages of San Pascual, Lawa and Paco where flooding due to high tide were minimal.

PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said that heavy flooding have inundated the villages of Panghulo, Catanghalan, Pag-asa, Paliwas, Hulo, Tawiran, Binuangan and Salambao.

These villages were submerged under 4 to 4.56 feet of flood water brought by the high tide.

Mungcal said the flooding was also aggravated by the breaching of an earth dike located along the fishing village of Barangay Pag-Asa.

She said that local officials are still in the process of repairing the damaged earth dike which was destroyed when typhoon "Glenda" hit the country last month.

"They are having difficulty in repairing the breached earth dike due to high tide," Mungcal said.

Town mayor Edwin Santos said that aside from the suspension of classes, many areas are now isolated as many roads were rendered impassable to light vehicles.

He said that even the municipal building was not spared as employees have to brave floods .

"We have decided to suspend classes because the students from those flooded areas would have hard time in going to schools," Santos said.

He also said that floods have become a way of life for the people of Obando.

He said that their dilemma was answered by the national government who planned to construct a dike to address the perennial planning but it was mothballed because of the controversy hounding the issuance of disbursement acceleration program (DAP).

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado have instructed Mungcal to closely monitor the situation and coordinate with the MDRRMO of Obando.

"We have asked to closely monitor the floods there. The villages in Obando are always experiencing perennial flooding. But this time, it is worse due to the damaged earth dike," the governor said. (PNA) 

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Environmentalists, outdoorsmen bare rampant illegal logging at Ipo dam watershed area

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 6 (PNA) -- Environmentalists, outdoorsmen and mountaineers on Wednesday appealed to concerned authorities to look into the alleged illegal logging activities along the Ipo dam watershed area.

Bro. Martin Franscisco, chairperson of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc. (SSMESI), said their group together with members of the University of the Philippines mountaineers and other outdoor groups have documented cases of illegal logging and how the poached timbers are being transported outside of Ipo dam.

He said that the national government should send a team to investigate why timber poaching is still rampant along the watershed of Ipo dam despite pronouncement of officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that primary forests like those in the watersheds are protected areas.

"The illegal logging activities inside the Ipo dam Watershed is a big blow to the government, particularly DENR that said that no one is allowed to cut down trees on primary forests that are considered as protected areas,” Francisco said.

Fred Ochavo, a volunteer of the University of the Philippines Mountaineers (UPM) that has a reforestation project inside Ipo Watershed, disclosed that several planks of hard wood, believed to have been cut by illegal loggers, were recently monitored to be in the process of being transported out of the watershed.

Ochavo said that the illegal transport of wooden planks that were documented being moved through the river system-- piled beside the docking area for the boats beside a PLDT reforestation site signage; being loaded on a boat; carried by illegal settlers and piled along the road inside the Ipo Dam compound-- were monitored to have taken place inside Ipo Watershed on July 11, 13, 19, 26 and 31 this year.

Michelle delos Reyes, education subcommittee head of UPM environment committee, also bared that she was able to document the illegal transport of the wooden planks on July 11 and 31 as she tries to settle everything that are needed for their upcoming tree planting activity such as quality check of seedlings, tree planting site selection and to instruct UPM's caretaker for hole digging.

Francisco, together with several members of UPM, Sagip Kagubatan and other outdoorsmen, said that they wrote President Benigno Aquino a letter, dated April 29, 2014 and received by Malacanang Records Office on May 5, 2014.

The letter that stated that “As outdoorsmen, we have access to remote areas of Ipo Watershed and stood witness to illegal activities which gravely threatens the continued viability and stability of the water supply of 12 million residents of Metro Manila (2010 Census).”

The letter senders have also submitted sworn statements, documentary evidence and copies of reports and documentation “prepared by their organizations to furnish intelligence and information that may help in the government’s forest protection initiatives.”

They noted that they are “greatly alarmed that despite the existence of a legal framework to impose a total ban on the harvesting of forest products from Ipo Watershed, and despite the country’s commitment to international agreements such as the Millennium Development Goals which seeks to ensure sustainable access to safe drinking water, concerned agencies and officials have not taken concrete steps, and sustained effort to address the destruction of the only viable water source of Metro Manila’s 12 million residents.” (PNA) 

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Bulacan gov urges 5 Pillars of Justice to fast track pending cases of inmates at provincial jail

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Aug. 4 (PNA)-- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Monday called on the “Five Pillars of Justice” to continue working as team and work double time to fast track the pending cases of some 3,000 inmates at the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

"I am expecting that every pillar of justice will help each other and serve for the speedy resolution of the cases of our constituents which we should be given attention," the governor said in his message during the opening ceremony of the “Five Pillars of Justice” month at the Capitol Gym Monday morning.

Alvarado said that by fast tracking the cases of the inmates, it will not only speed up the delivery of justice but will also help decongest the provincial penitentiary.

He said that “it is vital to make a strong foundation of the justice system and this will need the cooperation of all sectors to execute laws with fairness and respect to human rights in accordance to the mandate of the Philippine Constitution.”

The opening ceremony which carries the theme “Katarungan: Gabay at Patnubay tungo sa Pagbabagong Buhay” was graced by the attendance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief lawyer Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, who stressed the importance of free legal assistance to wrongfully convicted persons.

"If you committed sins, you must rot in jail but if you are innocent, I will defend you up to the Supreme Court," Acosta, the youngest ever lawyer to head the PAO, said.

She said that public attorneys are sworn to uphold only the truth and provide free access to courts in order to ensure social justice as part of the country’s sustainable development.

The 5 Pillars are composed of the Prosecutor’s Office headed by Renato Samonte Jr ; Philippine National Police headed by acting Bulacan Police Director PS/Supt. Ferdinand Divina; Regional Trial Court headed by Executive Judge Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega; Probation and Parole Office consisted of CPPO Teresita Mascuñana, CPPO Cezar Lopez Jr., and CPPO Ramon De Leon; and the community which is composed of the Provincial Government of Bulacan. (PNA) 

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DOST chief urges Bulacan LGUs to propagate 'calamity foods' By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 31 (PNA)-- Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo has urged local government officials and community leaders in the province to propagate the use and production of the so-called “calamity foods” or “compressed foods” not only to combat malnutrition but also as survival intervention in times of natural disasters like typhoons and floods.

Montejo made the call during the culminating program of the nutrition month at the provincial capitol gym here Wednesday afternoon.

The program carries the theme: “Kalamidad Paghandaan: Gutom at Malnutrisyon Agapan”.

Montejo said the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of DOST has been propagating “compressed foods” because of the yearly floodings and storms hitting the country.

He said that “compressed food” are ready to eat and made with “cereal-legume” and fortified with milk, vegetable fat and sugar.

The DOST secretary said that “compressed foods” are ideal for relief goods because it is easy to produce, healthy and can be immediately distributed.

He also said that villages in the Philippines are abundant with vegetables and plants that can be added to processed foods like the “malunggay.”

Montejo also lauded the successful programs of the provincial government headed by Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Governor Daniel Fernando in combating malnutrition in the province.

He said Bulacan has always been emerging as the best province with an efficient food and nutrition program.

Alvarado, chair of the Provincial Nutrition Council and concurrent chairman of the Central Luzon Regional Development Council, on his part, said that healthy people is vital in propelling growth and development.

“Everyone has the right for nutritious foods and the provincial government is actively supporting the nutrition and feeding programs of local government units. The nation will become more vigor and stronger if there are healthy, active and mighty citizens," he said.

Fernando, for his part, encouraged community leaders to propagate the planting of backyard crops like malunggay and other healthy endemic plants.

Montejo, together with Alvarado and Fernando led the awarding of the bet nutrition program with the mountain town of Dona Remedios Trinidad garnering the first place.

Dona Remedios Trinidad mayor Ronaldo T. Flores and the municipal council received a plaque of recognition and Php100,000 cash incentives for their anti-malnutrition and feeding program.

The town of Calumpit headed by Mayor Jessie de Jesus received the second place award while San Rafael mayor Cipriano Viloga obtained the third place award.

Vilma M. Oronce of barangay San Miguel, Calumpit was adjudged as “Natatanging Lingkod Lingap sa Nayon” awardee.

Likewise, the provincial government distributed some 5,000 malunggay seedlings to barangay community leaders. (PNA) 

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QC to deploy 360 traffic personnel for Pres. Aquino's SONA on Monday

MANILA, July 27 (PNA) -- Quezon City Mayor Herbert M. Bautista has ordered the deployment of some 360 traffic personnel from the city’s Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) to complement the police and traffic management force mobilized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in ensuring public safety during the State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) of President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday.

Deployment of QC traffic personnel for the President's fifth SONA at the Batasang Pambansa Building in Quezon City will start at 5 a.m., said Dexter Cardenas, DPOS traffic operations chief.

Meanwhile, the city government has also fielded some 50 barangay public safety officers (BPSOs) to provide assistance to participants of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) centennial celebration Sunday.

The city’s BPSO men deployed in the Bocaue area in Bulacan form part of the public safety legion that has been mobilized by the MMDA for the INC event.

The QC contingent has been sourced by the DPOS from Barangays Talipapa, Sangandaan, Sauyo, Tandang Sora and Pasong Tamo, Novaliches.

As part of the MMDA public safety legion, the QC government is also sending three mobile patrol cars, two ambulances, a fire truck and two dump trucks during the INC celebration.

The MMDA constituted the public safety legion to maintain peace and order, implement a comprehensive traffic management plan and undertake post-activity clean-up operations.

Meanwhile, regular traffic personnel are also deployed by the DPOS to ensure the orderly movement of vehicular traffic in the Balintawak area and along Mindanao Avenue which lead to the North Luzon Expressway. (PNA) 

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Succesful INC Centennial anniversary celebration ends smoothly By Emil G. Gamos

BOCAUE, Bulacan, July 27 (PNA) --The centennial celebrations of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) held on Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Ciudad Victoria here ended smoothly.

Except for at least 140 people who were given first aid due to the intense heat Saturday when multitudes of INC delegates began arriving here, there were no reported incidents even minor crimes.

The grand anniversary celebration, a thanksgiving of faith, was highlighted by a colorful show of aerial fireworks that illuminated Ciudad Victoria giving it a more spectacular ambiance before midnight Saturday.

More than one million INC members and guests attended the grand celebration that also featured the brief history of the Church of Christ in the last days from 1914 to 2014 to reminisce and recollect how God help Brother Felix Y. Manalo and the Iglesia Ni Cristo as fulfillment of His promise.

"I am so proud to be a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo. The Philippine Arena and Ciudad Victoria are blessings that resulted to the trust and faith to the leaders of the Iglesia and love of God to those who believe in Him," an INC member from Malolos City said.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the celebration was a success with no crime reported within the vicinity of Ciudad de Victoria.

He commended the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the traffic and security force for achieving the “Herculean Task” of aiding and ensuring the safety of more than one million people.

Alvarado and MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, who was tasked by President Benigno Aquino to head Task Force Sentenaryo, personally supervised the deployment of traffic and security forces last Saturday.

Aside from ambulances and emergency rescue personnel from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the governor said that the Philippine National Red Cross also sent 13 ambulances and set up more than 20 first aid stations for medical emergencies.

Alvarado also announced that Monday, July 28, will be a holiday for the entire province of Bulacan to make way for clean-up and other post-INC centennial operations.

The flow of traffic along the North Expressway started getting heavy at around 9 a.m. Sunday when delegates began leaving the Philippine Arena. (PNA) 

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LTFRB to truckers: Avoid NLEX, other roads during INC centennial celebration By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, July 26 (PNA) -- The Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Saturday reminded truckers to avoid passing through North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and several other roads, from July 26-28 for the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) centennial celebration in Bulacan.

The LTFRB in a statement, said they arrived at the decision after due consultation with the Task Force Sentenaryo which is in charge of government actions and responses in connection with the INC celebration.

“…All trucks-for-hire that will pass through NLEX from Balintawak Tollgate-Angeles City Exit and vice versa, McArthur Highway, Cagayan Valley Road from Sta. Rita Exit and all provincial roads in the Province of Bulacan that will be used as parking areas for the buses and utility vehicle (UV) are hereby advised to refrain from passing through these roads on July 26, 27 and 28, 2014 in view of expected heavy volume of traffic before, during and after the INC Centennial Celebration at the Philippine Arena on July 27, 2014 except those carrying perishable goods and food items,” LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said in a statement.

The LTFRB, however, stressed that the advisory was not a truck ban.

“This is an advisory to all Trucks-for-Hire to avoid certain affected areas in Bulacan from June 26-28. This is not a truck ban,” the Board stressed.

Preparations for the INC anniversary is already in full swing in various areas in the country including arranging transport services to bring its members to the event, the LTFRB earlier said.

The INC’s anniversary will be held in the largest domed facility in the world, the Philippine Arena, located in Bocaue, Bulacan. (PNA)

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Military to help cops in securing INC 100th founding anniversary

MANILA, July 26 (PNA) -- An estimated 3,000 military personnel from the National Capital Region, Bulacan and Pampanga will be joining the Philippine National Police in securing the 100th year founding anniversary of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on Sunday, January 27.

This was disclosed by Major Emmanuel Garcia, 1st Civil Relations Group commander, in a message to the PNA.

"Three thousand troops (coming from the NCR, Bulacan and Pampanga) will be helping in the security operations Sunday," he added.

An estimated one million INC followers are expected to join in Sunday's festivities in Bocaue, Bulacan where the group's 55,000 capacity stadium, the Philippine Arena, is located. (PNA) 

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MMDA chief, Bulacan guv supervise deployment of traffic and security forces for INC centennial rites on Sunday By Emil G. Gamos

MARILAO, Bulacan, July 26 (PNA)--As the countdown to the centennial anniversary celebration of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) reached its penultimate day on Saturday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino and Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado personally supervised the deployment of 3,200 traffic and security forces along the North Luzon Expressway and the stretch of MacArthur highway from Meycauayan City to Calumpit town to ensure the safe and orderly arrival of an estimated 1.5 million members of INC and their guests at the Philippine Arena in Ciudad Victoria in Bocaue town.

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, buses that ferried INC delegations from Tarlac and other parts of Central Luzon have began occupying the north-bound lane of MacArthur highway in Barangay Tikay here.

“We have been preparing for this (INC centennial anniversary) and we will now implement our contingency plans to ensure a safe and orderly arrival and departure of INC delegations and their guests,” Tolentino, who was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III to head “Task Force Sentenaryo,” said.

Tolentino was joined by Alvarado in Marilao town for the strategic deployment of peace keeping forces as well as traffic aides.

Public and police assistance centers were also put up in key areas along the MacArthur highway from Meycauayan City to Calumpit town and along portions of the Cagayan Valley road from Guiguinto to the towns of Plaridel, Pulilan and Baliwag.

Alvarado said that public traffic advisory have also been sent through the media and social media so that the public may know where the converging points of the vehicles will pass through.

"The plan is perfect. The Philippine National Police and the MMDA have conducted a thorough study and plans for the influx of our INC members," Alvarado said.

The governor said that the world will be watching the Philippines, particularly the province of Bulacan where the Philippine Arena in Ciudad Victoria is located.

"This would happen only once in a period of 100 years and we are lucky that this historic celebration of the INC will take place in our noble province of Bulacan," he said.

He also said that Philippine Army troopers from the Northern Luzon command will also augment the security forces.

In Guiguinto town, police chief Supt. Ernesto Cruz said that Governor Alvarado has allowed them to use the sprawling compound of the Provincial Engineer's Office in Barangay Tabang as a “contingency parking zone.”

Cruz said that the sprawling parking area of a closed super market in Barangay Tuktukan will also be used as a “contingency parking zone”.

He also said that at least 400 buses will parked in Guiguinto.

"We have also put up public assistance centers in every barangay along the MacArthur highway to help and assist the INC delagations and their guests,” Cruz said.

Cruz also assured business companies and local trucking firms that their operations and parking will not be affected.

"There are designated parking areas for them. We will ensure that the flow of vehicles along MacArthur highway and Cagayan Valley road will be orderly," Cruz said as he inspected the different public assistance centers in his areas.

He said that the by noon of Saturday, the influx of the buses and vans of INC delegations will start arriving.

In Malolos City, hundreds of motorcycle-riding INC members with INC flags flying were seen heading towards the Philippine Arena before Saturday noon. (PNA) 

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Bulacan ready for INC’s grand centennial celebration on Sunday By Emil G. Gamos

BOCAUE, Bulacan, July 25 (PNA) -- Police teams are now being deployed within the vicinity of the mammoth Philippine Arena to ensure security and safety of an expected 1.5 million members and guests of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) who will converge here on Sunday for their centennial anniversary celebrations.

Since last week, teams from the Provincial Engineers Office have also been sprucing up villages around the Philippine Arena in Ciudad Victoria for the week-long INC centennial celebration that kicked-off last Monday with President Benigno S. Aquino gracing the inauguration of the biggest sports and multi-purpose indoor coliseum together with INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the Bulacan Police Provincial Office headed by Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina have also deployed maneuver platoons from the Provincial Public Safety Company to augment local police teams in providing security and police assistance centers to the multitude of INC followers who are expected to flock at the Ciudad Victoria starting on Friday and Saturday for the grand INC celebration on Sunday.

Officials of the North Luzon Expressway have earlier said that they were expecting heavy traffic on Sunday with at least 82,000 vehicles expected to be heading to the Philippine Arena, touted as the biggest indoor coliseum in the world with a sitting capacity of 55,000.

Alvarado said that tens of thousands of Iglesia Ni Cristo members are expected to arrive in more than 10,000 buses and 2,800 vans.

"Congratulations to the Iglesia Ni Cristo on their 100 years anniversary as well as for showing to the world that they can build world class structure like the Philippine Arena in Ciudad Victoria in Bocaue town,” Alvarado said.

He said that after the centennial celebration, more crowd-drawing activities will be held in the Philippine Arena and the adjacent Philippine Sports Stadium inside Ciudad Victoria.

International events are also expected to be held in the area, which is now being tagged as the “New face of Bulacan.”

"This will be a big help for our province and the whole region to be recognized and this will pave way to attract more investors that will give more opportunities to our provincemates. This is a good example that if there is a unity and cooperation, we can achieve our goals," Alvarado said.

The governor, who was with President Aquino and top leaders of the INC, during the inauguration program, said that “the Philippine Arena is not only the centerpiece of the Iglesia Ni Cristo centennial anniversary but is also gem of pride of the people and the province of Bulacan and the entire nation as well.”

The governor said that the opening of the Philippine Arena will further spur growth and economic boom not only in Bocaue but will also spread to the neighboring towns of Sta. Maria, Pandi, Balagtas and parts of Marilao.

“This will usher in a new look for Bulacan which is now on the threshold of growth and development. The Philippine Arena is not only a beacon of strong faith to God but also heralds the dawn of bright future for the province due to its world class characteristic,” he said.

Meanwhile, July 28 (Monday), will be a special non-working day in Bulacan to allow the orderly exit of members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo from the venue of its centennial celebration in the province.

Proclamation 837 dated July 24 indicated that Bulacan province requested the holiday proclamation.

"In order to ensure an orderly procession of the attendees out of the venue, and to facilitate the flow of traffic, the province of Bulacan requests that Monday, 28 July 2014, be declared a special (non-working) holiday," according to the proclamation signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (PNA) 

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LTFRB issues traffic advisory on Iglesia ni Cristo's centennial event

MANILA, July 24 (PNA) -- The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has advised all trucks-for-hire to avoid certain roads in Bulacan province due to expected heavy traffic as the Iglesia ni Cristo holds its centennial celebration on July 26 to 28.

In an advisory coursed through the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the LTFRB said trucks-for-hire should refrain from using the following roads and exits: NLEX from the Balintawak Tollgate-Angeles City exit and vice versa; McArthur Highway; Cagayan Valley Road from the Sta. Rita exit; and all provincial roads in Bulacan that will be used as parking areas for buses and utility vehicles.

The LTFRB said it expects heavy traffic before and after the Iglesia ni Cristo's celebration at the Philippine Arena on Sunday (July 27).

The board however exempted trucks carrying perishable goods and food items, allowing them to use those roads to bring cargoes to Metro Manila.

The LTFRB issued the traffic advisory after consulting the Task Force Sentenaryo in charge of government actions in connection with the Iglesia ni Cristo's centennial event. (PNA)

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PNP all set for INC Centennial celebration on Sunday By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan

MANILA, July 23 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) is all set to provide security coverage and public safety measures in Bocaue, Bulacan on Sunday (July 27) for the Centennial Celebration of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief PNP Public Information Officer (PIO) said on Wednesday.

According to Sindac, the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO 3) led by Police Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta said that the PNP will provide at least 3,200 personnel for security coverage and traffic assistance in addition to the 200 AFP and 1,500 MMDA personnel, and more than 2,000 force multipliers.

”The security coverage is to ensure the safety of the delegates for the INC centennial anniversary. Hoping to attain zero incidents in the conduct of this major event,” Sindac said in press briefing held at PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City

He added the coordination being done since December 2013 and the PNP has been planning the security coverage and of course, the PNP are enjoining support of this desire for the peaceful conduct of the event.

”Assist and supervise outer perimeter, the PNP security coverage, crowd management and traffic assistance,” he said.

Sindac also said that as of this moment, he has not received any significant threat to the incident but the PNP are working on possible scenarios.

”We continue to validate the information received by our intelligence community,” he explained.

The said activity will be held at the Philippine Arena, Ciudad de Victoria, Bulacan where an approximate of two million INC members from different Ecclesiastical Districts nationwide and church congregation from almost 112 countries are expected to attend.

“The safety of the delegates and participants on the centennial celebration of INC is the primary concern of the PNP” said Petrasanta.

Signed on July 2, 2014, President Benigno Aquino III issued Proclamation No. 815 declaring year 2014 as Iglesia Ni Cristo Centennial Year which is the largest home-grown Christian church in the Philippines established in 1914 by Brother Felix Y. Manalo.

The PNP asks for the active support of different public and private organizations to help in the successful and peaceful celebration of the event.

SIndac said that all units and offices of the PNP will be placed on heightened Alert Status effective at 3 p.m. on Friday (July 25) for all the upcoming events in particular to INC Centennial Celebration on Sunday, State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino on Monday (July 28) and Eid-al-Ftr on Tuesday (July 29).

”The Unit Commanders are reminded to secure all vital installations, economic key points, as well as places of convergence, and ensure high state of operational readiness to deter unlawful activities,” Sindac said.

He said the alert status of PROs 3, 4A, NCRPO and Special Action Force (SAF) will be upgraded to Full Alert Status effective 5 a.m. on Sunday (July 26) for the SONA.

“The PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima has directed the safety and security of all those that will be part of the sona while exercising SONA,” Sindac said.

Regional Directors of PROs are given the discretion to upgrade their alert level depending on the prevailing peace and order situation in their respective areas of responsibility. (PNA) 
CTB/CLTC/with trainee Elsha Joy I. Soriano (EJIS) and Floraldel G. Flora (FGF)

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‘Task Force Sentenaryo’ firms up traffic, security measures for INC centennial on Sunday

MANILA, July 23 (PNA) -- Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolenitno on Wednesday announced its readiness for the upcoming 100th year anniversary celebration of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on Sunday (July 27) in Bocaue, Bulacan.

In a meeting held in Manila with Bulacan officials, Philippine National Police (PNP) and local governments, Tolentino said all the necessary traffic and security measures have been finalized to ensure the peaceful and orderly commemoration of the Iglesia Centennial Year, which is expected to be attended by up to three million INC members.

“In coordination with concerned government agencies, provincial municipal government of Bocaue, Bulacan, and the INC leadership, we have finalized our preparations for this big event,” Tolentino said, who was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III to head the task force.

The traffic management measures firmed up by the task force cover the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), MacArthur Highway, Mindanao Avenue Extension and adjacent roads.

MMDA has formed the 2,000-strong Metro Manila Public Safety Legion that will be deployed in Bocaue to maintain peace and order, implement a comprehensive traffic management plan during the event and do a post-activity cleanup at the site.

The legion is composed of traffic constables, rescuers and policemen coming from the 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

Two MMDA headquarters will also be set up in Marilao, Bulacan to respond to any type of emergencies, according to Tolentino.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, will send a company-sized military personnel for additional security, four M35 trucks, explosive and ordnance experts, and K-9 units.

“With all these preparations and contingency measures, we can assure our brothers and sisters in INC that their centennial celebration will be smooth and orderly,” Tolentino said.

Aside from the 2,000-strong Metro Manila Public Safety Legion, Tolentino said 500 traffic personnel will also be deployed to assist delegates coming to and from the venue to augment elements from the PNP Region 3 and the Northern Luzon Command of the AFP.

The contingent will be dispatched Saturday morning Sunday night.

”So yung kick off natin yung initial activity which will commend on the 26th of July 9:00 a.m., operational na lahat. Nandun na rin kami hanggang 28 na yun, so all plans in motion. Ready na very Ready na. Ang DOH nandun na sa loob. Ang LTFRB is issuing advisory in joining trucks to refrain from utilizing NLEX from 26, 27, and 28 except perishable items,” Tolentino told the reporters after meeting.

The MMDA will also field its own rescue teams, mobile patrol and motorcycle units, and personnel from the Metro Parkways Clearing Group and Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group to strategic locations.

“INC will also put up medical booths inside the Philippine Arena for its members,” Tolentino added.

Tolentino said they expected INC members to arrive at the newly inaugurated Philippine Arena in Bocaue, the venue of the anniversary, a day before the event in at least 10,000 buses, 2,400 vans and Asian Utility Vehicles, and private vehicles.

The following areas have been designated as parking areas: Sta. Maria bypass; and Balagtas bypass along MacArthur Highway from Monumento to Calumpit, Bulacan. A portion of the Mindanao Avenue Extension will also be closed for parking purposes.

In case of traffic gridlock along NLEX, a “zipper lane” will be put up to enable northbound vehicles to counter-flow on the opposite lane and ease up traffic flow. Three areas have been already prepared for this with the help of NLEX authorities.

Tolentino said the task force has also suggested to the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to dedicate toll booths for Bocaue-bound vehicles and “prepaid toll fees” to hasten the entry of vehicles at NLEX.

He pointed out the possibility of heavy traffic at the SMART-connect interchange and NLEX towards the Arena, especially in the morning rush hours.

In preparation for the big event, Task Force Sentenaryo conducted a “Contingency Planning and Tabletop Exercise” on July 11 at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

For his part, Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado suggested the use of Bulacan Medical Center and Rogacian M. Memorial Hospital for medical emergencies.

General Carlito Romero of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has been designated as crisis/emergency commander Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta of PNP Region 3 will act as traffic ground commander.

Tolentino likewise designated Chief Supt. Ricardo Marquez of PNP headquarters at Camp Crame as overall operations officer.

The National Capital Regional Police (NCRPO) will help secure the routes to Bocaue and the billeting areas of INC members, according to NCRPO Regional Director Carmelo Valmoria.

Providing additional muscle for traffic management and securing of staging and parking areas are the PNP-Region 3, 13 municipal governments of Bulacan, NLEX, and other private groups and volunteer associations, Tolentino said.

President Aquino has signed Memorandum Circular No. 66 creating Task Force Sentenaryo for the July 27 celebration of the religious group, with Tolentino as head.

Task Force Sentenaryo has been tasked to handle all actions and responses in connection with the INC event.

Among its members are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista, and PNP Director Alan Purisima.

The others are Winston Ginez, chairman of LTFRB; Juan Sta. Ana, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA); Jose Angel Honrado, Manila International Airport Authority general manager; Edmundo Reyes, executive director of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB); and a representative from the INC. (PNA) 
LAM/CLTC/with Elsha Joy I. Soriano/Floraldel G. Flora-OJTs

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President Aquino to inaugurate 'world's largest indoor arena' Monday

MANILA, July 20 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III will inaugurate on Monday (July 21) Iglesia ni Cristo’s (INC) Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory), a 50-hectare tourism enterprise zone located in Bocaue, Bulacan established by the congregation in time for its centennial celebration on July 27 (Sunday).
President Aquino along with INC executive minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo will lead the unveiling of the marker at the gazebo, signaling the formal public opening of the state-of-the art architectural complex to the public.
The President will then deliver a speech inside one of the site’s major construction, the Philippine Arena, which is considered as "the world’s largest indoor stadium" given its reported 55,000-audience capacity.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and other INC officials will accompany the President at the inauguration ceremonies with around 50,000 INC members expected to witness the event.
Manalo once said during the groundbreaking of Ciudad de Victoria in August 2011 that the arena and its other massive architectural marvels had been designed to bring glory to God and honor to the country.
Other major structures expected to be completed in the area in the near future are the Philippine Stadium, New Era University, Eraño G. Manalo Medical Center, and some soon-to-rise shops, hotels, and leisure parks.
Meanwhile, Malacañang has declared July 27 as a special non-working holiday by virtue of Joint Resolution No. 2 signed by President Aquino to commemorate the 100th founding anniversary of INC.
INC is considered as the third largest religious denomination in the Philippines with its members comprising 2.3 percent of the population based on the census of Year 2000 conducted by the National Statistics Office. (PNA)

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INC set to inaugurate Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Monday - By Emil G. Gamos

BOCAUE, Bulacan, July 19 (PNA)--Banners, flags, stickers bearing the colors of red, white and green has engulfed every town and city as the province braces for a momentous event-- the inauguration of the Philippine Arena.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, together with Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Governor Daniel Fernando will join the occasion on Monday for the inauguration of the world's largest indoor-domed arena situated at the sprawling 75-hectare eco-tourism zone in Ciudad de Victoria here.
With a capacity of 55,000 seats, the Philippine Arena is owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo and operated by its educational institution--the New Era University.
An eye-catching imposing structure, which is built on a 99,200 square meters of land and has a dome of 36,000 square meters, the Philippine Arena is touted as “the centerpiece” of the many centennial projects of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) for their grand celebration on July 27, this year.
Thousands of INC followers led by its executive minister Eduardo V. Manalo are expected to converge at the country’s biggest coliseum in a former riceland here as they usher the start of celebrating their centenial anniversary literally “with a bang.”
Alvarado said that some 3,000 policemen are now strategically being deployed in the area and nearby vicinity.
He said that since Friday, the Bulacan police headed by Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina have already been conducting security rehearsals and deployment.
“The Philippine Arena is not only the centerpiece of the Iglesia Ni Cristo centenial aniversary but is also gem of pride of the people and the province of Bulacan and the entire nation as well,” he said.
The governor said that the opening of the Philippine Arena will further spur growth and economic boom not only in Bocaue but will also spread to the neighboring towns of Sta. Maria, Pandi, Balagtas and parts of Marilao.
“This will usher in a new look for Bulacan which is now on the threshold of growth and development. The Philippine Arena is not only a beacon of strong faith to God but also heralds the dawn of bright future for the province due to its world class characteristic,” he said.
The arena will not only hold major church gatherings, it will also operate as a multi-use sports and concert venue, capable of holding a range of events from boxing and basketball to live music performance.
The overall vision of the masterplan will eventually see inclusion of shopping centers, a hospital and large scale residential developments
The Philippine Arena was also designed to withstand natural disasters like earthquake and typhoons. (PNA) 

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'Glenda' death toll jumps to 77 -- NDRRMC

MANILA, July 19 (PNA) -- The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), on its Saturday update, announced that the death toll for Typhoon "Glenda" nationwide has now reached 77.
In its 6 a.m. bulletin, the agency reported that five persons are still missing with the number of injured now up to 220.
Previously, fatalities for "Glenda" was placed at 64 with 103 injured.
The NDRRMC also added that 330,433 families or 1,600,298 people were affected in Ilocos, Central and Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Metro Manila.
The NDRRMC also added that areas under a state of calamity include Obando, Bulacan; Cavite; Laguna; Albay; Camarines Sur; Tigaon and Bula, Camarines Sur; Naga City and Samar.
Around 97,055 families or 518,764 people are being served in 1,264 evacuation centers.
Damage to property stood at PHP5,860,756,042.28, including PHP1,049,931,600 in infrastructure and PHP4,810,824,442.28 in agriculture.
The NDRRMC added that PHP10,683,944.33 in relief goods and medicines has been extended to affected families.
Some 27,874 houses were destroyed while 83,498 were damaged.
Power has been restored in Legazpi and Naga Cities, while the Luzon and Visayas grids are now interconnected.
Seventeen roads and three bridges in Cagayan Valley, Central and Southern Luzon, Bicol and Cordillera are still impassable to traffic. (PNA) 

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'Glenda' destroys many houses in Bulacan towns; 1 dead, 2 hurt - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 17 (PNA) -— The strong winds whipped up by typhoon "Glenda" left a swath of destruction in some parts of the province, damaging many houses as well as leaving one dead and injuring two others, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRM) reported on Thursday.
The two injured persons were identified as Arnold Catajan, 35, married, a resident of Barangay Tumana, Sta. Maria and Jersey May Magpayo, 9, resident of Barangay Tabang, Guiguinto.
Catajan suffered injuries when a big Camachile tree fell on him while Magpayo was hurt when the van she was riding was hit by a falling tree.
The PDRRMO earlier identified the lone fatality in the province as Reynaldo Meneses, a 49-year-old vinegar vendor who was crushed to death after a giant Acacia tree fell on his makeshift store at the height of the typhoon Wednesday morning.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Thursday said that many areas in the province have been cleared of debris while damages to crops, infrastructures and properties are still being assessed.
Alvarado said that the PDRRMO has initially reported that 76 houses in Sta. Maria and four houses in Plaridel were totally damaged by powerful winds.
He also said that 204 houses were partially damaged in some villages in the towns of Paombong, Hagonoy, Pulilan and Plaridel.
The PDRRMO also said that a total of 649 families from nine municipalities and in this capaital city were evacuated.
The coastal towns of Obando and Hagonoy experienced flooding due to high tide, but these incidents were not severe.
The typhoon also failed to replenish the dwindling water supply at the giant reservoir of Angat dam.
As of 12 noon Thursday, the water level at Angat dam only reached 165.64 meters, which is still way below its critical level of 180 meters and to its spilling level of 210 meters.
The water level at Ipo dam was 99.55 meters (spilling level is 101.00 meters) while the water level at Bustos was 17.34 meters (spilling level is 17.70). (PNA) 

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(Update) 2 killed, 2 others hurt in Central Luzon due to typhoon 'Glenda' - By Zorayda S. Tecson

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, July 16 (PNA) -- Two persons were killed while two others were injured as typhoon Glenda on Wednesday unleashed its fury in Central Luzon.
Based on the latest report from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council-3 (RDRRMC-3), the fatalities were identified as Reynaldo Meneses Hernandez, 49, a resident from Barangay Tabang, Plaridel, Bulacan and Mario Paulo, 52, of Barangay Burgos, San Antonio, Zambales, who were both hit by fallen trees.
Those injured were Francis Patawaran of Limay, Bataan due to electrocution and a certain Cruz, also from Limay, Bataan, who was hit by a falling tree.
Both of them are now in stable condition after being given immediate treatment.
The RDRRMC also reported that there are 801 families or 3,164 individuals from the flood and landslide prone areas in the region who were brought to the various evacuation centers.
In Aurora, a total of 50 families or 195 persons from Barangays Ibuna and Aplaya in Dingalan town were transferred to safer areas.
In Zambales, 72 families or 315 individuals from the towns of Castillejos, Sta Cruz, Masinloc and San Marcelino were also brought to the various evacuation centers in the province.
In Pampanga, a total of 67 families or 187 persons from the landslide prone Barangay San Juan Bano, Arayat were evacuated to the clubhouse pavillion in the said town.
The Pampanga PDRRM also implemented forced evacuation to those residents living in the coastal towns such as Sasmuan, San Simon, Macabebe and Lubao due to storm surge threat.
In Bulacan, a total of 46 families or 198 persons in Barangay Salambao, Obando town were also brought to the evacuation center.
In Bataan, some 566 families or 2,269 individuals from the towns of Limay, Pilar, Orani, Samal, Mariveles and Balanga City are now in various evacuation centers.
"Aside from the pre-emptive evacuation implemented by the local officials and disaster councils in the region, forced evacuation were also enforced to ensure the safety of the residents," Josefina Timoteo, RDRRMC chairperson and Office of Civil Defense regional director, said.
The RDRRMC also reported that the water elevation in the major dams in Central Luzon is way below the spilling level despite the stormy weather.
Power interruption also hit some parts in the region due to the tripping off of some lines and feeders as caused by strong winds.
At present, the electric power supply in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Aurora have already been restored. (PNA) 

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Central Luzon braces for tropical storm 'Glenda'

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, July 14 (PNA) -- The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Monday alerted all provincial and municipal disaster councils in Central Luzon on the possible effects of tropical storm "Glenda" as it is seen to bring more rains in the region and nearby areas due to enhanced southwest monsoon.
Based on the latest weather bulletin issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the seven provinces in the region, namely Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bataan, Zambales, and southern Aurora are now under signal No. 1.
Josefina Timoteo, chairperson of the RDRRMC and regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 3, said although the effects of "Glenda" have not yet been felt throughout the region, all concerned members of the disaster councils have been ordered to undertake precautionary measures and other disaster response activities.
Timoteo said the RDRRMC has already alerted the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC) in the seven provinces in the region to implement preparedness measures.
She said rescue and emergency response teams are on standby as well as the pre-positioning of search-and-rescue equipment and personnel have already been put in place.
She also said that local government units (LGUs) in the region have prepared food supplies and disaster response equipment and teams in anticipation of evacuation and other emergencies.
”Local officials are conducting meetings to plan their response on the possible effects of tropical storm Glenda,” she said.
Likewise, Timoteo said the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division has also alerted its disaster response units (DRUs) in anticipation for the conduct of disaster rescue and relief operations at areas to be affected by the tropical storm.
Meanwhile, she asked the public to keep monitoring on the weather reports.
She also advised residents in the low-laying areas to voluntarily leave their houses prior to the issuance of evacuation operations.
”Although the residents along the riverbanks and coastal areas have been properly warned on the possible flooding, it is advisable if they would evacuate earlier and go to higher areas,” she added. (PNA) 

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Bulacan to hold media seminar on disaster preparedness

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 12 (PNA)--After enhancing the disaster response capabilities of town, city and village officials, the provincial government, through the Provincial Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Office (PDRRMO), is now set to conduct a “crash course” on how to report and dissiminate pertinent announcement for media practitioners and users of social media.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, who is also the concurrent chairman of the PDRRM Council and Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Luzon, said that the provincial government will also distribute flyers containing information on how to cope with natural calamities and man-made disasters.
“We are now preparing informative and educational materials on what to do when disster struck and we will distribute it,” Alvarado said.
“Our constituents should know what to do and where to go every time there is a disaster," he added.
The governor said that media and users of the social network are vital in times of calamities and the fast way to disseminate important communications aand announcements.
The seminar will be held on Monday at the Hiyas convention center.
PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said that the seminar is part of the disaster preparedness program of the provincial government.
The PDRRMO has already conducted seminars of map-hazards, trainings of various barangay, municipal and city emergency response teams. (PNA) 

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Bulacan to hold mobile passport service - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 9 (PNA) --The provincial government, in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), will once again conduct a Mobile Passport Service to help Bulakenyos acquire passports in a more convenient and easy way.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the move is part of its continuous effort to bring services closer to the people.
"This project offers convenience to Bulakenyos allowing them to save time and money," Alvarado said.
Elizabeth Alonzo, head of the Provincial Youth, Sports, Employment, Arts, Culture & Tourism Office (PYSEACTO), said that passport applications and submission of the duly accomplished forms and all other requirements will run from August 1-15 this year.
The appearance and final evaluation by the representatives of DFA, on the other hand, will be at the Bulacan Capitol gymnasium on September 13 to process the passport applications, she said.
The release of passports will be announced at a later date, she added.
Alonzo also said that the project will be on a first come, first serve basis.
According to the DFA, new applicants need to submit birth certificate (BC) in security paper (SECPA) issued by National Statistics Office (NSO), two valid identification cards (photocopy) and NSO authenticated marriage contract for married women as requirements.
Moreover, applicants for renewal of passport are required to submit old passport, photocopy of the first, last & all pages with marks in the passport, and marriage contract (MC) in security paper (SECPA) issued by National Statistics Office (NSO) for newly married women. (PNA) 

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32,000 sacks of adulterated rice seized in Bulacan raid - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 7 (PNA) -- Government law enforcement units once again swooped down on a rice mill and warehouse owned by a Chinese businessman at the First Industrial Center in Barangay Tikay here over the weekend and seized some 32,000 sacks of adulterated imported rice
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said that the broken rice residue intended for animal feeds from Vietnam was being mixed with the Blue Diamond rice imported from Thailand and then repacked and being sold as “Golden Bee” Premium Sinadomeng rice.
Roxas, who was accompanied by Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Vice Governor Daniel Fernando, Malolos City Mayor Christian D. Natividad and CIDG director Benjamin Magalong Jr., inspected on Monday the sprawling warehouse and showed to mediamen how the adulterated rice was being processed.
He said the owner of Purefeeds could face multiple violations of Philippine trade laws.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the raid was part of the government’s campaign to neutralize rice hoarders and unscrupulous rice traders.
Roxas also said that the discovery of the adulterated rice inside the warehouse of Purefeeds Corporation was the result of the National Food Authority’s (NFA) right to inspect rice mills and warehouses in coordination with the Philippine National Police -Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
He said the raid at the Purefeeds was the 18th operations conducted by the CIDG and NFA.
Of the 18 raids, he said only four was found to be engaged in illicit trading of rice.
"They have violations with the NFA, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Internal Revenue and even to the Bureau of Customs," Roxas said.
The DILG secretary said that operations of the said rice mill will be temporarily suspended.
He stressed that the government is making sure that Filipinos will eat safe rice and can buy quality grains at government-imposed price.
"We will not allow to prevail the illicit activities of some unscrupulous businessmen to the public. We will not stop in pursuing them and not let our citizens to eat such kind of rice," Roxas said.
Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina, Bulacan acting provincial director, said two trucks loaded with 450 sacks each of the adulterated rice was also held at the compound of the ricemill warehouse.
He said that NFA officials are investigating why the said trucks have the logo of NFA complete with licensed number.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue-Bulacan office is also investigating probable violations of Purefeeds Corporation.
Lawyer Sulpicio Agapon, BIR regional district officer, said that Purefeeds was registered with a business address in Sta. Cruz, Manila when it should also have registration to the Bulacan BIR office due to the large scope of their operations.
“I think they (owners) will have a problem with that too, aside from adulterating rice products with animal feeds,” Agapon said.
The owner of the rice mill identified as Jojo Suliman however, said that all their importation permits are legal and that their operations are legitimate.
He, however, acknowledged that they are not registered at the Bulacan BIR office.
But the evidence found inside their warehouse is enough for the raiding team to file appropriate charges against the owners of Purefeeds Corporation, according to Bulacan CIDG provincial officer Chief Inspector Reynaldo Magdalayo.
Governor Alvarado, for his part, said that the government is sincere in apprehending rice hoarders and unscrupulous traders.
He said that NFA rice should be sold at affordable prices and not be diverted.
Mayor Christian D. Natividad said that he suspects that this nefarious operation could have been going on for a long time and this kind of activity must be totally stopped.
This was the second raid conducted by the NFA-CIDG in Bulacan.
Last Thursday, the raiding team seized 5,000 sacks of rice containing rice grains from NFA that were switched to sacks of premium commercial rice at Jommaro rice mill in Barangay Abanagan Sur, Marilao town. (PNA) 

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Government confiscates 4,000 metric tons of NFA rice from private trading company

MANILA, July 6 (PNA) -- The government’s effort in battling overpricing, manipulation and cartel-like activities has led to the confiscation of an estimated 4,000 metric tons of rice, a Palace official said on Sunday.
Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has seized this much from three out of 12 warehouses they investigated.
“Tatlong bodega ang natagpuang may paglabag sa batas dahil hindi makapagpakita ng dokumento ang mga tinuring na rice traders at ang mga ito ay ipinadlock (padlock) na ng CIDG,” said Coloma in a press briefing over radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
“Ayon sa ulat ni NFA (National Food Authority) Administrator Arthur Juan, mula lamang sa tatlong bodega na siniyasat, may natagpuang 80,076 na bags ng bigas na kung tig-50 kilo ang laman, may kabuuang humigit-kumulang 4,000 metrikong toneladang bigas,” Coloma added.
In a similar development, Coloma said Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan reported that the Malolos Prosecutor’s Office has filed a case against a rice trading company.
The company was found violating Presidential Decree No. 4, for diversion of price and facing price manipulation charges under the Price Act, where they can face five to 15 years imprisonment.
Coloma also said NFA Administrator Juan reported that NFA-Bulacan Provincial Manager and NFA-Region III Director were both tasked to explain how NFA rice found its way to the hands of a private company when it should only be traded by cooperatives.
“Pinapatunayan lang nitong pagkilos ng ating pamahalaan na totoo ang hinala na meron talagang mga nagsasamantala at nagsasagawa ng mga paglabag sa batas na hoarding at pag-manipula ng presyo. Kaya ngayong nabulabog na sila, at nahulihan na ng konkretong ebidensya ang ilan sa kanila, at nasampahan na rin ng kaso ng ating pamahalaan, inaasahan nating luluwag na ang supply sa merkado,” said Coloma. (PNA)

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MMDA prepares for INC centennial celebration, President Aquino’s 5th SONA

MANILA, July 6 (PNA) -- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has started preparing for two big events this month -- the centennial celebration of the religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on July 27 and the fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno S. Aquino III on July 28.
According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, President Aquino has formed a task force to oversee the centennial celebration of the religious group and the task force will also help instill order when the President delivers his SONA at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
The MMDA chief was appointed by the President to head the Task Force Centenario.
The members of the Task Force include Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima, as well as the heads or representatives of the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and INC. 
Tolentino said the INC celebration is expected to be a big event since it will be attended by at least three million of its members around the world.
The celebration will be held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Tolentino said an MMDA team headed by Neomie Recio of the Traffic Engineering Center will conduct an ocular inspection on Monday to adjust the traffic flow in the Bulacan area.
“Sa Lunes, may ocular inspection, kasama si Recio at babaybayin ang mga munisipyo ng Bulacan para maiayos ang daloy ng traffic,” Tolentino said. (PNA) 

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Thousands join Bocaue fluvial festival - By Emil G. Gamos

BOCAUE, Bulacan, July 6 (PNA)--The grandeur of an old tradition is back at the Bocaue river.
In a strong show of faith, thousands of people flocked to the Bocaue river here as they celebrated the feast day of the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa” in a much safer and colorful fluvial rites on Sunday.
"It is colorful again and the devotion and love to the patron can be felt again," said newsman Ramon Lazaro, a native of this town.
He said that the nine straight nights of novena and prayers was completed without any untoward incident because of the good coordination of the organizers, the local parish of St. Martin of Tours, the police, local government units (LGUs) and the provincial government of Bulacan.
The Holy Cross of Wawa and the image of St. Martin of Tours were placed at the main altar of the three-tiered Pagoda, which has a loading capacity of more than 500 people.
Organizers, however, only allowed 150 to 200 people to ride the Pagoda and everyone was required to wear lifevest.
A more coordinated preparation focusing on safety and security was conducted and implemented in a bid to prevent a repeat of the tragedy where 300 people perished when the three-tiered overcrowded Pagoda tilted and sank in the murky waters of the river on the night of July 2, 1993—the penultimate night of the nine-day novena.
This time, the voyage of Pagoda ran smoothly, signaling a revival of the crowd drawing fluvial festival in Bocaue.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the strong devotion of the people has rekindled the “leap of faith” and trust to God as well as the crowd-drawing fluvial festival, which, he said is just one among the many age-old traditions still being practiced and observed in Bulacan.
But this year, he said that peace keeping and emergency response units have properly coordinated with the organizers to ensure a peaceful and safe celebration of the feast day of the venerated Holy Cross of Wawa.
“It is joyful but you can feel the sacredness of the tradition and the fervent devotion of the people. And due to cooperation and deep devotion of the people, the colorful festival in this town of Bocause has been rekindled," Alvarado said.
The governor also said that since the old grandeur of the fluvial festival is once again revived, he said the town of Bocaue is now known for its crowd-drawing “Three Ps”—namely the Pagoda festival, the Pyrotechnic industry and the soon to be inaugurated Philippine Arena.
He said that several days before this year’s Pagoda sailed on the Bocaue river again, he met officials of the provincial police, representatives of the municipal government, fiesta organizers and members of the emergency response teams from the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council.
He said that the Bulacan Police Provincial Office headed by Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina has deployed additional police teams from the Provincial Public Safety Managemnt Company to augment local policemen to ensure order and safety of the people.
He also said that the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office headed by Liz Mungcal have also deployed two jet skis, ambulance and divers as part of safety-keeping force of the fluvial festival.
Divina said that some 200 bancas joined the procession of the Pagoda.
He said all bancas, including the Pagoda always undergo pre-inspection, before they were given the go signal to sail.
He also said that rescue and paramedics teams from the Provincial Government were backed up by members of the Riverine troops of the Philippine Army, divers from the coast guard and navy and volunteer rescue teams from various civic groups.
Divina also said that policemen are strictly checking every participants and did not allow anyone under the influence of liquor to board any bancas or the Pagoda itself.
“We were also strictly monitoring the participants if they have deadly weapons that might start violence. We also prohibited the throwing of water put in plastic which we used to be doing before," he said.
The Holy Cross of Wawa, a replica of the wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, is set on a pagoda, which is paraded on the Bocaue river with several bancas, as well as devotees swimming alongside the colorful structure.
The festivities also include a nine-day novena, which celebrates the rescue of the Holy Cross of Wawa from the Bocaue River.
Legends also said that a woman was saved from drowning by a floating cross which is presumed to be the Holy Cross of Wawa.
Earlier Fr. Mar Evangelista, parochial vicar of the St. Martin of Tours Parish here, said that they have agreed to revive the fluvial rites after organizers convinced them of the safety measures that will be enforced to ensure public safety.
Fr. Evangelista said that to make the fiesta more lively on the feast day, 11 marching bands circled the 18 barangays of Bocaue. (PNA) 

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President Aquino creates task force for Iglesia ni Cristo centennial celebration

MANILA, July 4 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III has formed an interagency task force to maintain peace and order for the centennial anniversary celebration of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) on July 27 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
In a Memorandum Circular No. 66 issued on July 3, the President directed the creation of “Task Force Sentenaryo” headed by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino which would be in charge of all actions and responses in connection with the event.
The task force is also composed of Secretaries of the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health and Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Other members of the group are Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Chief of Philippine National Police, Chairman of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, General Manager of Philippine Ports Authority, General Manager of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Director of Toll Regulatory Board and a representative of Iglesia ni Cristo.
President Aquino said the task force may call upon any department, bureau, office, agency or instrumentality of the government, local government units, non-government organizations and the private sector for assistance.
The President on July 2 also issued Proclamation No. 815 “Declaring Year 2014 as Iglesia ni Cristo Centennial Year.”
Proclamation No. 815 was issued to enhance public awareness on the contributions of the INC to national development.
The same proclamation also directed the Postmaster General to cause the design, printing and issuance of a special postage stamp to commemorate the said event.
INC is the largest home-grown Christian church in the Philippines, with ministries in at least 102 countries. (PNA)

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Police kill 2 suspected motorcycle thieves in Bulacan shootout

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, July 3 (PNA) -- Two suspected motorcycle thieves were killed in Balagtas, Bulacan on Thursday as the Police Regional Office-3 (PRO-3) intensified efforts against criminality in Central Luzon.
In a report reaching here, an armed encounter between the elements of the Balagtas Municipal Police Station and the three suspected thieves took place along Bypass Road, Borol 2nd, Balagtas, Bulacan.
Prior to the encounter, a female victim reported to police that her black Yamaha Mio with plate no. 3354 OG was forcibly taken from her at gunpoint by the unidentified suspects.
With this, the elements of Balagtas Municipal Police Station immediately chased the suspects who were spotted heading towards the Bypass road.
An exchange of gunfire ensued between the suspects and police which resulted in the instantaneous death of the two suspects while the other suspect managed to elude arrest.
One of the policemen was wounded and is now undergoing medical treatment.
The identities of the suspects are still being verified as the Bulacan Police Crime Laboratory Office conducted scene of the crime operations.
Police Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, PRO-3 regional director, commended the operating troops for a job well done.
He also assured the public that PRO-3 will continue its campaign to eradicate all forms of criminality within the region. (PNA) 

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Update: Food security Czar Kiko Pangilinan orders law enforcers to step up crackdown against nefarious rice traders and hoarders - By Emil G. Gamos

MARILAO, Bulacan, July 3 (PNA)--National food security czar Sen. Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday called on law enforcement units to step-up their campaign against hoarders and unscrupulous rice traders following the arrest of 20 persons caught switching National Food Authority (NFA) rice into sacks of commercial rice.
Pangilinan, who arrived at around 2 p.m. Thursday at the Jomarro Star Rice Mill in Barangay Abangan Sur here, was briefed by Bulacan PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Team provincial officer Chief Inspector Reynaldo Magdaluyo that the owners of the rice mill and warehouse managed to elude arrest but they were able to nab a certain Juan San Luis, who was allegedly the rice mill manager and 20 workers switching the NFA well milled rice to sacks of commercial rice.
Magdaluyo also told Pangilinan that at least 5,000 sacks (50 kilos each) of NFA rice are being brought and switched inside the rice mill warehouse daily.
Pangilinan said that when computed the daily earnings of the rice miller could reached at least P6.7 million a day.
He said that a kilo of NFA well milled rice commands a market price of P25 to P27 pesos and when switched to sack of commercial rice it will be sold much higher to P47 up to P50 per kilo.
Pangilinan said that he has already instructed the Bulacan PNP-CIDT and the Marilao police headed by Senior Supt. Marcos Rivero to padlock the rice mill.
Police are also digging deeper into the possible involvement of a rice cartel.
"This is just one. There might be others involved in this nefarious activity. Thus, we ordered our police to intensify their campaign in order to avert this kind of scrupulous activity. We want to give our citizens good kind of rice at cheaper price but there are businessmen who arer taking advantage," he said.
Joint operatives of the Bulacan PNP-CIDT and the Marilao police station raided rice mill/ warehouse and arrested 20 persons repacking 100 sacks of NFA rice into the sack of commercial rice in Barangay Abangan Sur here on Thursday morning.
The PNP-CIDT agents led by Magdaluyo and Marilao policemen led by Supt. Marcos Rivero also intercepted two 10-wheeler trucks each loaded with 5,000 sacks of NFA rice inside the warehouse compound.
Rivero identified the owners of the warehouse as spouses Roberto and Regina Paulenco, who were not in the area when the raiding team swooped down.
Appropriate charges, ranging from violation of Price Regulation Act and economic sabotage are being readied against the couple, the manager and the 20 workers repacking the NFA rice into the sacks of commercial rice. (PNA) 

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Bulacan cops nab 20 persons switching NFA rice into sacks of commercial rice - By Emil G. Gamos

MARILAO, Bulacan, July 3 (PNA) -- Law enforcers on Thursday foiled a nefarious activity of a rice trader here engaged in the switching of government rice into commercial rice.
Joint operatives of the Bulacan PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Team and the Marilao police station raided a warehouse and arrested 20 persons repacking 100 sacks of National Food Authority (NFA) rice to be sold as commercial rice in Barangay Abangan Sur here.
Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina said that Bulacan PNP-CIDT agents led by Chief Inspector Reynaldo Magdaluyo and Marilao policemen led by Supt. Marcos Rivero also intercepted two 10-wheeler trucks each loaded with 5,000 sacks of NFA rice inside the warehouse compound.
Rivero identified the owners of the warehouse as spouses Roberto and Regina Paulenco, who were not in the area when the raiding team swooped down in the area.
Rivero also said that the raiding team arrested a certain Juan San Luis, who claimed to be the warehouse manager.
Divina said that appropriate charges, ranging from price regulation act and economic sabotage, are being readied against the couple, the manager and the 20 workers repacking the NFA rice into the sacks of commercial rice.
Upon learning of the incident, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado condemned the nefarious business practice, saying that government rice should not be altered and must be sold at affordable price to the public.
Alvarado also instructed the police to intensify their operations against rice hoarders.
"Those behind these nefarious activities should be held responsible. The objective of the government to provide enough supply of food and cheap rice to the citizens is nice. However, there are indeed unscrupulous businessmen. They should face the consequences of what they did," he said.
The governor also said that once the NFA rice was switched, it will be sold as commercial rice at a higher price. (PNA) 

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Bulacan conducts simultaneous “quake drills” - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 2 (PNA) -- With sirens blaring from all directions, occupants of the Bulacan Medical Center (BMC) here systematically rushed-out from the “shaking” building as firefighters and rescue teams started arriving during a simultaneous “earthquake drill” on Wednesday.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the provincial government, through the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) , is constantly conducting drills to prepare personnel to properly respond to any given situation, including worse-type scenarios like a powerful earthquake.
“We cannot predict earthquakes but it is better to be ready than to be caught flatfooted. We are training our emergency response teams to be swift when such situation occurs. We are also training medical personnel what to do and how to evacuate patients,” Alvarado said.
The simultaneous “earthquake drill” kicked-off at exactly 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Dr. Protacio Badjao, BMC medical director, said that each floor of the three-story hospital has their own section chiefs that will “shepherd” them out of the building to a designated safe area within the hospital compound.
He said that hospital personnel have been debriefed on their tasking when emergency situation arises and know what agency to call.
Dr. Paul Camina, planning section chief of BMC emergency response team, said they are also assessing the response time in evacuating patients and people inside the hospital which caters to at least 2,000 patients every day.
"We are determining on how fast the firetrucks and other rescue units could arrive and as we saw, it is faster and there a system on how to coordinate with the hospital officials," Camina said.
PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said similar drills are also being conducted in crowded areas like schools, malls and other places of convergence.
She added that rescue teams from the province’s 21 towns and cities are also undergoing trainings on the use of modern equipment in saving lives in times of emergencies. (PNA) 

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Bulacan joins National Disaster Consciousness Month

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, July 1 (PNA) -- The provincial government has joined the nation in the observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month this July that would promote public awareness on natural hazards and disseminate information on the steps to be undertaken to mitigate the adverse effects of calamities.
With this year’s theme “Kahandaan at Kaligtasan ng Pamayanan, Pundasyon ng Kaunlaran”, the kick-off activity was held during the Monday's flag raising ceremony where the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) distributed 100 whistles to provincial capitol employees.
“The province has always been doing efforts to heighten the province’s awareness and the need to implement mitigation measures. Proper steps on how to deal calamities should be in place because of its direct connection with the planned development in the province," Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said.
As part of its efforts to strengthen preparedness and response, the provincial government has lined up various activities that include the month-long distribution of IEC materials and the implementation of the “Ang Bote Mo Kaligtasan Ko, Buong Taon Na Ito” program.
On Wednesday, there will be an earthquake drill at the Bulacan Medical Center.
There are also training on first aid/CPR on July 2 to 4 and water safety and fire suppression on July 7-9 at Malolos Resort Club Royale.
Likewise, a 10-day first aid and /BLS-CPR refresher course are set on July 10-11, 14-19, 21-22 at the Bulacan provincial capitol gymnasium.
Other activities are the 11th Central Luzon First Aid and Basic Life Support Olympics on July 23-24 at Malolos Convention Center; Multi Hazards Maps Information, Education and Information Campaign in 569 barangays on July 7 at the Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center and July 14-15 at 8 Waves Waterpark in San Rafael, Bulacan.
An ambulance management training will also be held on July 28-29 at Balagtas Hall, HBCC in Malolos while the much-awaited 4th Bulacan Rescuelympics is scheduled on July 31 at the Bulacan Sports Complex and Capitol Gymnasium.
“We know that disasters, when they occur, hit the poorest and the most vulnerable the hardest. And while we cannot fully control the occurrence and the impact of disasters, the provincial government has already focused on improving its capacity to respond to disasters and public health emergencies by making a concrete disaster contingency planning in anticipation to diverse set of threats due to disasters and crises of all magnitude” the governor added. (PNA) 

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Bocaue Pagoda organizers ensure public safety, say 1993 tragedy will never happen again - By Emil G. Gamos

BOCAUE, Bulacan, June 29 (PNA) –“No lifevest, no ride!”
Authorities and organizers of the Bocaue fluvial festival in honor of the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa” are strictly implementing safety measures on the “voyage” of the “Pagoda” on the Bocaue river to avoid a repeat of the July 2, 1993 Bocaue Pagoda tragedy where 300 people died.
Ruben Mercado, president of this year’s fiesta committee, said a prominent daily newspaper has donated 250 lifevest for the fluvial rites that they revived 21 years after the overcrowded Pagoda tilted and sank in the murky waters of the Bocaue river on the penultimate night of the nine-day Novena.
“Everyone who will board the Pagoda is being provided with a lifevest. Aside from this, various rescue teams, including well trained divers, are also circling the river to ensure public safety,” Mercado said.
He said that the new pagoda has a capacity to carry at least 300 people but they were only allowing 150 people to board the boat carrying the altar of the Holy Cross of Wawa.
The nine-day novena is now on its 3rd night and so far, the river voyage of the Pagoda is going smoothly, Mercado added.
He thanked provincial and municipal officials for helping them revive an old tradition in honor of the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa”.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the people of Bocaue has moved on and it only shows that their faith to God has become more stronger.
The governor also said that rescue and medical teams from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office have been deployed and will provide assistance until the fluvial festival is over.
Alvarado added that the Bulacan police under Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina have also deployed maneuver platoons from the Provincial Public Safety Company to ensure security during the festival.
Earlie, Fr. Mar Evangelista, parochial vicar of the St. Martin of Tours Parish here, said that they have agreed to revive the fluvial rites after organizers convinced them of the safety measures that will be enforced to ensure public safety.
The Holy Cross of Wawa, which is a replica of the wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, is set on a pagoda, which is paraded on the Bocaue river with several bancas, as well as devotees swimming alongside the colorful structure.
The festivities also include a nine-day novena, which celebrates the rescue of the Holy Cross of Wawa from the Bocaue River.
Legends also said that a woman was saved from drowning by a floating cross which is presumed to be the Holy Cross of Wawa.
Fr. Evangelista said that there is now a growing clamor among multi-sectoral groups and the local government to resurrect the old grandeur of the fluvial rites prior to the tragedy where 300 people perished when the three-tiered overcrowded Pagoda tilted and sank in the murky waters of the river on the night of July 2, 1993—the penultimate night of the nine-day novena.
He said that to make the fiesta more lively on the feast day—first Saturday and Sunday of July—11 marching bands will circle the 18 barangays of Bocaue town. (PNA) 

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Bocaue fluvial festival sets maiden 'voyage' Friday

BOCAUE , Bulacan, June 27 (PNA) -- After 21 years, the stigma of the Pagoda tragedy still lingers but the “leap of faith” and adoration of the people here on the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa” have never wavered and continue to grow stronger.
And while the century old fluvial rites is slowly reemerging in past several years, the Catholic church here wants to maintain the solemnity of the tradition and at the same time revive its old glory.
Fr. Mar Evangelista, parochial vicar of the St. Martin of Tours Parish here, said that the nine days novena is still being observed and the the venerated Cross is still being paraded.
The Holy Cross of Wawa, which is a replica of the wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, is set on a pagoda, which is paraded on the Bocaue river with several bancas, as well as devotees swimming alongside the colorful structure.
The festivities also include a nine-day novena, which celebrates the rescue of the Holy Cross of Wawa from the Bocaue river.
Legends also said that a woman was saved from drowning by a floating cross which is presumed to be the Holy Cross of Wawa.
Evangelista said that there is now a growing clamor among multi-sectoral groups and the local government to resurrect the old grandeur of the fluvial rites prior to the tragedy where 300 people perished when the three-tiered overcrowded Pagoda tilted and sank in the murky waters of the river on the night of July 2, 1993, the penultimate night of the nine-day novena.
He said that to make the fiesta more lively on the feast day, first Saturday and Sunday of July, 11 marching bands will circle the 18 barangays of Bocaue.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the provincial government is actively supporting the preservation and promotion of old traditions in Bulacan.
He said that there are many festivals in the province but many have learned from the tragedy and they are making sure that it will never happen again by deploying additional well-trained emergency response and rescue teams.
“Like in Bocaue, there are also fluvial rites in Calumpit known as “Ligiran”. We saw the faith to God of our townmates are continuously getting stronger. Even though there was a Pagoda tragedy that happened in Bocaue, the festivity is continuously being observed and the patron saint is still being paraded, a tradition that testifies the strong faith of our constituents to our Lord," the governor said.
He said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office headed by executive officer Liz Mungcal has already briefed rescue teams and will be deployed on the different parts of the river to ensure that the fluvial festival will be safe.
Alvarado also instructed Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina to augment the Bocaue police and ensure public safety.
Meanwhile, newsman Ramon Efren Lazaro, a Bocaue resident, said that preparations are being done to make the first “voyage” of the Pagoda on Friday night safe.
“The security and safety of the devotees are strictly being monitored. They will no longer allow too many devotees to get into the pagoda. There will be limits. However, the pagoda will still go around the river," he said.
He said that a “Save the Bocaue River” campaign will also be launched to clean the river and save it from getting severely polluted. (PNA) 

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Earthquake prompts new call for rehab of aging Angat dam  By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, June 26 (PNA) -- The magnitude 5.7 earthquake that jolted Batangas and nearby provinces, including parts of Bulacan Wednesday night, has once again prompted provincial leaders here to urge the national government to immediately start the repair and strengthening of the 46-year-old Angat dam in the mountains of Norzagaray town.
Experts said that the Angat dam is sitting along the West Valley fault line and could collapse if jolted by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.
Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado reiterated the call during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Summit held on Thursday at the Hiyas Pavilion here.
Alvarado said an earthquake is different from other equally devastating natural disasters.
“It comes like a thief in the night, without warning and cannot be predicted unlike typhoons. The magnitude 5.7 earthquake that jolted many parts of Luzon, including some areas in Bulacan might be a wake–up call to make our national leaders realize that as days pass by, the aging Angat dam is becoming a ticking time and a virtual ‘sword of Damocles,” the governor said.
He said the dam has a life span of 50 years and was built in a period when modern technology was only starting to grow.
The repair of the dam has been approved by President Benigno Aquino III, who allocated P5.7 billion for the structure's repair and strengthening.
The rehabilitation got stalled, however, after the Supreme Court declared as “constitutional” the bid of a Korean firm (K-Water) to operate the 46-year-old dam with a Filipino company controlling the majority shares.
Under its contract with the Philippine government, K-Water should shoulder the repair and rehabilitation of the dam but until now it has yet to happen.
Alvarado said that the provincial government through the PDRRMO is regularly conducting drills, seminars and massive information drive on disaster control awareness.
“A little preparation is better than no preparation at all,” he said.
During the Provincial DRMM Summit, experts and resource speakers from Project Noah, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (NDRRMO) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) briefed participants from various emergency rescue teams and the municipal and city DRRMO on gaining resiliency through mitigative measures and the Yolanda experience.
The summit was attended by Vice Governor Daniel Fernando, OCD-3 regional director and Central Luzon DRRMC Chair Josefina Timoteo and Bulacan DRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal. (PNA) 

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Bulacan cops commended for capture of fugitive

BALIWAG, Bulacan, June 23 (PNA) -- Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Monday commended the Bulacan Police Provincial Office for capturing an armed and dangerous fugitive as he reiterated his call for the police and other peacekeeping forces to step up the war against criminal gangs and lawless elements.
The governor said that Bulacan is now on the threshold of becoming the booming growth center in the region and that criminal elements has no place in the province except behind bars.
Last Friday night, police operatives swooped down on a house in Barangay Concepcion in this town and arrested a man wanted for murder and several cases of heinous crimes.
Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand O. Divina identified the arrested felon as Edilberto Santos, 47, married and a resident of Barangay Sulivan, Baliwag town.
The accused is isted as the no. 1 Most Wanted Person in Baliwag and also as the no. 10 Most Wanted Person in the province.
Divina said that Santos was arrested by joint operatives of the Baliwag police station headed by Supt. Enrico Vargas and the Regional Intelligence Unit at a house in the said barangay.
He said the police team served two warrants of arrest against the suspect, one for murder and one for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
Santos was turned over to the court and is now detained at the Bulacan provincial jail. (PNA) 

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PNP steps up monitoring of sales of explosives, ingredients

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan, June 14 (PNA) -- The Explosive and Management Division of the Firearms and Explosive Office (EMD-FEO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has stepped up its monitoring and accounting of explosives and explosives ingredients in every region of the country to ensure that they do end up into the wrong hands.

Senior Supt. John C. Bulalacao, chief of the EMD-FEO, said that the move was in accordance with the directive of PNP Civil Security Group Director Melito M. Mabilin to ensure that the procurement of explosives and its ingredients are properly accounted and that no laws are being violated by legitimate end users, particularly those engaged in the fireworks and pyrotechnics industry.

In a letter addressed to Lea Alapide, acting president of the Philippines Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc (PPMDAI), Bulalacao said that the accounting of explosives and its ingredients was prompted by series of reports that dealers and purchasers are colluding with alleged personnel of the explosive division in some regions to violate certain provisions of pertinent laws.

He said that during one of their inspections of explosives storage facility in Central Luzon, they found out that an applicant to purchase explosive ingredients still uses a non-existing project or project that was already completed as purpose for their request.

“We are investigating the possible involvement of some police personnel. Since the dealers and purchasers are in collusion with them, they have arbitrarily endorsed the request, unmindful of the possible consequences,” Bulalacao said.

To avoid the occurrence of these procedure, Bulalacao said they are requiring manufacturers and dealers of pyrotechnics to set aside copy of all receipts of delivery of explosive ingredients from their dealer and submit them to the office of the EMD-FEO not later than June 30, 2014 and every 5th day of the following months.

He said that this will help the EMD-FEO to strictly monitor and account the movement and sales of explosives and its ingredients and their end-users.

In response, PPMDAI chairman emeritus Celso C. Cruz said that they will help the EMD-FEO by disseminating the procedures to all manufacturers and dealers of pyrotechnics in the country to ensure that all their members are complying with the new Implementing Rules and Regulations being enforced by the PNP. (PNA) 

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Fire destroys Bulacan school for boys founded by 'Papal Knight'

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, June 13 (PNA) -- A prominent Catholic school for boys beside the historic Basilica Minore (Malolos Cathedral) here founded by a ”Papal Knight” was gutted by a big fire that broke out amid heavy downpour early Friday morning.

Firefighters from all over the province helped put out the fire at the Immaculate Concepcion School for Boys (formerly Immaculata Academy) which began around 3 a.m. and spread rapidly, the Malolos City police said in a report.

As of 7 a.m., firefighters were exerting efforts to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent Malolos Cathedral, which served as the Palacio Presidential of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo after he was inaugurated as President of the First Philippine Republic on January 23, 1899.

Initial reports said that the big fire has razed to the ground the old building of Immaculada Academy that used to host the Chapel of German nuns known as the “Holy Spirit Sisters”.

Also destroyed were the school library, auditorium and the high school department classrooms.

Several vehicles serving as school transport service were also burned, police said.

Police and arson probers are still investigating the early morning fire that gutted one of the prestigious Catholic Church-run private schools in this historic city.

Residents said that they were awakened by the peeling of old bells which made some think that a Holy Mass will soon start at the Basilica Minore.

However, thick smokes and raging fire greeted early risers within the vicinity of the historic church.

The Immaculate Concepcion School for Boys was founded by Archbishop Cirilo Almario and founding-school principal Rodolfo Bagay in 1989 before it was transformed into an exclusive school for boys.

Like the Don Bosco school, the institution was formerly known as the Immaculata Academy, which was transferred in Barangay Sta. Isabel and renamed “Holy Spirit Academy.”

Bagay was conferred a “Papal Knight” (Order of St. Silvester) by then and now St. Pope John Paul II in 1987. (PNA) 

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President Aquino leads commemoration of 116th Philippine Independence Day

NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur, June 12 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday led the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites held at the Plaza Quince Martires in this province to commemorate the 116th Philippine Independence Day.

Plaza Quince Martires was chosen by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), with the President’s approval, as the venue for this year’s Independence Day celebration to honor the 15 Martyrs of Bicol whose travails helped ignite the revolution in 1896.

Taking off from the Independence Day theme of “Pagsunod sa Yapak ng mga Dakilang Pilipino, Tungo sa Malawakan at Permanenteng Pagbabago," President Aquino paid tribute to the country’s martyred heroes, who sacrificed their lives to free the Filipinos from the oppression of Spanish conquerors, leading to the proclamation of the country’s independence and the declaration of the First Philippine Republic.

“Ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan, sama-sama po tayong nagbibigay-pugay sa mga bayaning ipinaglaban ang tama. Gamitin natin silang inspirasyon sa patuloy nating paglalakbay sa daang matuwid,” President Aquino said before hundreds of Nagueños who gathered at the plaza.

“Isapuso natin ang iniwan nilang aral: ang malasakit sa ating kapwa ang maghahatid sa atin sa mga inaasam natin bilang isang lahi. Sa ganitong paraan lamang po natin masasabing tunay tayong karapat-dapat sa kanilang mga sakripisyo; sa ganitong paraan lamang po natin maitataguyod ang isang Pilipinas na ganap na makatarungan at malaya.”

President Aquino was joined by NHCP chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, Naga City Mayor John Bongat, Camarines Sur Representative Maria Leonor Robredo, National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, and other local and military officials during his activities here.

Representative Robredo, for her part, thanked President Aquino for choosing to be in Naga City to celebrate this year’s Independence Day and for acknowledging the sacrifices rendered by their forefathers.

“Ikinagagalak po namin, Mahal naming Pangulo, ang inyong kapasiyahan na dito sa aming lungsod ipagdiwang ang 116 na araw ng kasarinlan. Ikinalulugod po namin na matapos ang mahabang panahon, nabigyan din ng kaukulang pagpapahalaga ang mga pamana at papel na ginampanan ng mga tinitingala naming mga bayani. Mula ngayon, hindi na lamang sila mga martir ng Bicol, mga bayani rin sila ng buong Pilipinas,” she said in her message.

Apart from the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites in Camarines Sur, other Independence Day-related activities were simultaneously held at the Rizal Park in Manila, Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Cavite, Barasoain Church in Bulacan, Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine in San Juan City, Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City, Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion at the North Cemetery in Manila, and the Pamintuan House in Angeles City.

President Aquino was also slated to meet with members of the diplomatic community for the traditional Vin d’Honneur at Malacañang Palace to celebrate the occasion. (PNA)

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Police save wounded kidnap victim in Bulacan

CITY OF SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, Bulacan, June 11 (PNA) -- Quick response of the police has saved a wounded kidnap victim here who, together with his brother in-law, were abducted and intended to be executed by their abductors Monday afternoon, a belated police report said.

One of the two kidnap victims survived while the other died on the spot when six suspected members of a kidnap-for ransom gang brought them in Barangay Kaypian here and repeatedly shot them.

Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand O. Divina identified the survivor as Noah Corpuz, 36 , married, jobless, native of Baguio City and presently residing at Block 14, Lot 12, Barangay Sta Cruz II, Dasmariñas, Cavite.

He sustained a gunshot wound on the back of his body when found by responding policemen.

His brother–in-law who was identified as Edwin Orsal died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Divina said that, earlier, elements of Police COMPAC 1 Of the San Jose del Monte City police station received a telephone call coming from Patrol 117 stating that a robbery hold-up transpired in Kaypian Road, Barangay Kaypian, City of San Jose del Monte.

Immediately, upon receipt of the information, Divina said that elements of COMPAC 1 were dispatched to validate the report.

Upon reaching the place of occurrence, instead of a robbery hold-up incident, they saw the wounded Corpuz who was rushed to the district hospital for treatment.

Initial investigation based on an interview conducted on Corpuz revealed that he and his brother-in-law Orsal were abducted by the unidentified suspects last June 2 in Dasmarinas, Cavite.

This, after the suspects pretended as customer and rented the L-300 van owned by Corpuz.

The victim also told police investigators that on the night of June 9, the suspects blindfolded them and loaded them in a taxi cab and brought to Barangay Kaypian, City of San Jose Del Monte where they were shot several times by the suspects with the use of a shotgun and .38-caliber revolver.

Corpuz, who sustained five gunshot wounds at the back of the body, managed to ran away while his brother-in-law died on the spot.

A SOCO team from the Bulacan Provincial Office led by Chief Inspector Gina Ledesma recovered from the crime scene a spent cartridge of a 12-gauge shotgun.

Divina said they have already coordinated with the Cavite police on the incident.

He said that further investigation and follow-up is presently being conducted.

He added the survivor revealed there was ransom demanded. (PNA) 

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Bulacan ready for school opening on Monday 
By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, June 1 (PNA) --Its all systems go for the opening of classes in this province as schools are now spic and span and smiling policemen are ready to secure the various schools to ensure safety of students and teachers during the school opening on Monday.

Provincial officials headed by Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado made last minute inspections of school campuses in the province to ensure that everything is in order as students troops back to school.

Alvarado said that public schools in the 21 towns and three cities of Bulacan have already been spruced-up for the Monday's opening of classes.

He also said that the Bulacan Police Provincial Office under acting provincial director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina has deployed maneuver platoons from the Provincial Public Safety Company to augment police assistance centers that were set up in various schools.

He said that Divina has also instructed the policemen to always be respectful and smiling.

“First impression lasts. That is why we wanted our new batch of school kids as well as all students to start their classes on a good note. Teams have already been deployed to provide security and assistance to students, teachers and parents,” Alvarado said.

The governor also commended students, teachers, parents and community leaders for rekindling the Filipino virtue of “Bayanihan” during the recently concluded “Brigada Eskwela”.

Alvarado said that 457 public elementary schools and 85 secondary schools have already been spruced and are now ready for the school opening.

Teachers and students along the so-called University Belt in this city also thanked the governor and his wife Bulacan 1st District Rep. Ma Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado for the pedestrian overpass along the busy Macarthur highway, partuclarly those located at the Bulacan State University and at the junction in Barangay Dakila where several public and private schools are located.

They said that the pedestrian overpass will help prevent accidents from now on and ensure the safety of many students who have to cross the busy MacArthur highway. (PNA) 

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Former Baliwag mayor offers P.5M for whereabouts of kidnapped bodyguard 
By Emil G. Gamos

BALIWAG, Bulacan, May 31 (PNA)--Former town mayor Romy Estrella on Saturday announced that he is offering half million pesos for anyone who could provide information on the whereabouts of his close-in security Joselito Hizon.

Hizon was forcibly taken at gunpoint by a group of heavily armed men wearing military uniforms that stormed the Crystal Lodge in Barangay Bagong Nayon here Thursday afternoon.

In a live radio interview during the Saturday morning program of broadcaster Rommel Ramos, Estrella said he and his family are keeping a prayer vigil hoping that Hizon, whom they fondly called “Nitoy”, will return safe.

Hizon and Estrella were having a coffee break at the former mayor’s office at the Crystal Lodge together with former provincial board member Enrique Viudez and Ruben Delfoso last Thursday afternoon when a group of heavily armed men arrived at the said lodge.

Estrella said the men told the lodge’s staff that they are looking for the owner—who happens to be the ex-mayor—and that nobody would be harmed.

A secretary of the mayor immediately informed the mayor and told him to hide.

Estrella said he was able to hide at a nearby room before the armed men barged inside his office where they hogtied Viudez and Defoso.

Initial police reports said that the suspects took cash and jewelries before taking at gunpoint Hizon.

Estrella said that when he managed to hide, he was able to call the town’s police station and informed a duty policeman that armed men have stormed his office and need immediate police assistance.

The former mayor, however, said that a police team arrived an hour after the suspects have fled.

Police said that the incident was a case of robbery hold-up but the former mayor insisted that it is politically motivated because the men were looking for him and they could have taken him instead of his security aide if he was not able to hide.

"I am their target because recall petition was already been filed against the incumbent mayor because of lost of confidence, worsening peace and order condition and abuse of authority," Estrella said.

Before the incident at Crystal Lodge, Sonia Estrella, wife of the former-mayor, filed a recall petition at the local Comelec's office Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado instructed Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina to speed up their investigation and double their efforts to locate and save Hizon.

He also told Divina to investigate the slow response of the Baliwag police even if they were already informed of a serious situation that requires immediate police assistance. (PNA) 

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PRO-3 requires personnel manning checkpoints to wear reflectorized straps/vests

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, May 27 (PNA) -- The Police Regional Office-3 (PRO-3) has required police personnel manning checkpoints to wear reflectorized straps/vests.

Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, PRO regional director, issued the order so as to avoid similar vehicular accident that killed Police Officer 1 Mark Stewart Martinez.

Martinez, 28, a member of Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB3), was overran by a dumptruck along Quirino highway in Barangay Maharlika, City of San Jose Del Monte, over the weekend.

The victim was crossing the highway when he was overran by Hyundia dump truck (UQY-774) being driven by Reany Acob, 33, a resident of Barangay Sta. Lucia, Angat, Bulacan.

The victim was taken to Sapang Palay Medical District hospital but expired while undergoing medical treatment.

The driver of the dump truck was arrested by San Jose Del Monte Police Station.

Senior Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, deputy regional director for operations, said Martinez was performing his duty as sentinel in Anti-Hijacking Control Point when accidentally overran by the speeding dumptruck loaded with coal.

“All PNP personnel manning checkpoints and anti-hijacking checkpoints especially those wearing camouflage uniform shall wear reflectorized straps/vests when on duty on the streets doing nighttime to avoid accidents,” Gaerlan said. (PNA) 

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Bulacan guv urges Central Luzon PNP to step-up drive vs. crime 
By Emil G. Ramos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, May 27 (PNA) --Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Tuesday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 3 to step up and strengthen its campaign against criminal gangs and lawless elements.

Alvarado, chairman of the Regional Peace Advisory Council (RAC), said it is evident that public security and maintenance of peace and order is one of the vital concerns of society and a booming region like Central Luzon.

He said combating crime and law offenders are both the concerns of the police, military and the local government units (LGUs).

“It is part of our duties to work hard and be aggressive in fulfilling the reform agenda and the fight against criminalities in the region," Alvarado said.

Meanwhile, police regional director Chief Supt. Raul Delfin Pentrasanta lauded Alvarado for the support and cooperation of RAC in the implementation of Integrated Transformation Program-Performance Governance System that aims to make good governance a shared responsibility between the PNP and the stakeholders.

RAC is composed of prominent personalities in Central Luzon with a common goal to further sustain and improve the PNP peace and order agenda with deeper commitment in curbing criminality in the region.

“If we do work toward the realization of this hope and find ways that may transform the way we understand others, we can achieve peace as it is the first necessity of human progress,” the governor said.

Alvarado also cited the efforts of newly installed Bulacan police acting provincial director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina in increasing police presence as well as improving the quick response of police teams in assisting the public.

“I also told Col. Divina to solve unsolved cases and step up their campaign against criminal gangs and lawless elements,” the governor told members of the local press here. (PNA) 

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Calumpit bridge collapse a 'blessing'

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, May 24 (PNA) -- A regional official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Central Luzon on Saturday described the collapse of the Calumpit bridge Friday noon along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Gatbuca here where two workers were injured as a “blessing and a favor.”

Engineer Jess Obordo of DPWH-Region 3 said in a live radio interview wit broadcaster Rommel Ramos that the collapse of the mid-section of the old Calumpit bridge is a big favor that will hasten the pace of work.

Obordo explained that the bridge collapsed when they were begging to demolish the old structure to pave the way for the launching of the girder or base support for the new bridge.

“The construction firm is now demolishing the old structure. It just happened that it collapsed, thus saving us many days to hasten the removal of the steel trusts,” he said.

He also said that they already knew that the section of the bridge will soon fall and that workers are already demolishing it when it collapsed Friday noon.

Two workers identified by the police as Jerry David and Robert Baydelbaid sustained injuries and were immediately rescued and brought to the nearby Sta. Cruz hospital for treatment.

"That's why there was a crane operating there when the bridge collapsed because they were demolishing the old structure. The crane operator got scared and jumped, causing him to get a sprain," Obordo said.

Asked if DPWH will give sanction or investigate the construction company, Obordo said "no because the collapse of the bridge is expected."

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, on the other hand, said that the bridge -- like the public -- has also became impatient and decided to fall by itself.

The governor, together with town mayor Jessie de Jesus asked DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson to strictly implement safety measures at the construction site to prevent accidents from happening again.

They also asked DPWH to speed up the pace of construction of the new bridge and the strengthening of the temporary bridge before the onset of the rainy season.

The bridge, which links northern part of Bulacan to Apalit, Pampanga, was scheduled to be finished last April but was delayed after engineers found old structures under the river and has to be bored for its support base. (PNA) 

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Calumpit Bridge collapses, 2 workers hurt 
By Emil G. Gamos

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, May 23 (PNA) -- Two workers were injured when the middle portion of the old Calumpit bridge which is under construction collapsed before Friday noon.

The incident happened around 10:30 a.m. Friday while construction was going on at the bridge. Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson recently ordered to expedite works on the bridge due to long delay.

Police identified the injured as Robert Baydelbaid, 30, crane operator and Jerry David, 40, construction worker.

Police said the two victims were working on the middle portion of the bridge when it suddenly collapsed.

They were immediately rescued by the teams from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Calumpit Emergency Rescue Unit and brought to the nearby Sta. Cruz Hospital here.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Calumpit Mayor Jessie de Jesus immediately went to the site and talked with construction engineers and Provincial Engineer Glen Reyes and discussed measures to prevent accidents from happening again.

The two local officials also appealed to the DPWH to fast track the construction before the onset of the rainy season.

“The general welfare and safety of the public and the workers must be given priority consideration. The construction company must strictly implement safety measures to ensure that nobody will get hurt while the construction of the new bridge is being done,” Alvarado said.

The governor also said that Mayor de Jesus has deployed village watchmen in both ends of the bridge to ensure public safety 24 hours a day.

He also said that teams from the municipal government are no longer allowing fishing boats to pass under the bridge while construction is going on.

He also called on the regional office of DPWH to speed the construction of the temporary bridge where thousands of people cross everyday.

“The people can no longer bear the inconvenience caused by its delay. Everyday, thousands of people has to cross the river over a hanging bridge, which is now alarmingly becoming a disaster waiting to happen because its wear and tear has now become imminent. The delay has affected businesses and has already cost too much to the economy of the affected towns,” the governor said.

The bridge links the northern villages of Calumpit and provinces in Central and Northern Luzon to Malolos City and Metro Manila.(PNA) 

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'Brigada Eskwela' rekindles 'Bayanihan' spirit in Bulacan - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, May 19 (PNA)--The Filipino virtue known as “Bayanihan” was rekindled in school campuses all over the province on Monday morning.

Armed with brooms, mops, water pails and grass cutters, teachers, students and parents were joined by provincial officials community leaders as they trekked back to school campuses in this province as part of the nationwide repair and cleaning of schools known as “Brigada Eskwela.”

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said “Brigada Eskwela” does not only make school campuses spic and span for the school opening but also instill to the students the spirit of “bayanihan” or working together for a good cause.

“A clean school will give students an environment that will enhance their studies as they seek knowledge for better future. It is nice to see that all are helping one another to ensure that schools are clean and safe for students this coming school opening," Alvarado said.

At the same time, the governor said that the concerted effort of students, teachers, parents and community leaders is also very helpful in destroying the habitat of disease carrying mosquitoes and prevent germs that may cause sickness from spreading.

“In spite of the hot weather, it is indeed very inspiring to see our people working together to repair and clean our schools. This is a labor of love for our children and their good future,” he said.

The “Brigada Eskwela” program also brings to young students the values of unified efforts and instilling to them at an early age they have important roles in protecting the environment, he said.

Alvarado also said that providing quality education is among his administration’s seven-point agenda.

He said that at present the province of Bulacan has now zero back log in the construction of classrooms in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).

Education officials have earlier hailed Alvarado for consistently supporting the government’s goal of creating more educational facilities and providing quality education for the young people of Bulacan.

Since he assumed post as governor, Alvarado and the provincial government in partnership with DepEd has already built 900 classrooms all over Bulacan.

Meanwhile, the DepEd has issued a list of things people can do to help make schools clean and safe in time for the opening of classes.

These are to coordinate with DepEd division; identify and communicate support that will be provided to schools; secure a copy of school preparedness checklist; signify interest to assist school during preparation for class opening; participate in school preparatory meetings for Brigada Eskwela; attend disaster risk reduction and management orientation; assist in the conduct of risk profiling and support the school preparedness strategies. (PNA) 

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Guv orders new Bulacan PNP OIC to step up war vs. crime - By Emil E. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, May 17 (PNA)--Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Saturday reiterated his marching order to the new officer-in-charge of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office (BPPO) to increase police presence and intensify its crackdown against criminal elements.

Alvarado also told Senior Supt. Ferdinand O. Divina to review and solve previous cases and prevent crimes from happening.

The governor said that Divina is a hardworking police officer and a competent partner in the maintenance of peace and order in the province.

“The province of Bulacan is now booming. While we, at the provincial government, are creating an environment conducive to business investments, we are also creating an environment not conducive to criminals and other lawless elements. Those lawless elements are not welcome in Bulacan, the only place for them here is behind bars,” Alvarado said.

Divina called Friday his first command conference at the provincial headquarters at Camp Gen. Alejo Santos here.

It was attended by Supt. Rolando Santos, Deputy Provincial Director for Operation (DPDO) and Supt. Jesus Reyes, Deputy Provincial Director for Administration (DPDA).

Also present in the command conference were the Bulacan PPO Command Group, Provincial Staff, Provincial Public Safety Company, PO Support Units and all chiefs of police (COPs) in the different towns and cities of Bulacan.

The COPs from San Jose Del Monte (SJDM) City Supt. Joel Estaris; Malolos City PNP Supt. Donato Bait and Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT) Chief Inspector Manuel de Vera presented brief descriptions of their area of responsibility (AOR) crime situation and deployment for crime solution.

Preparations for the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) in May and Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Centennial Celebration were also discussed in the meeting. (PNA) 

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Obando’s fertility dance: Where devotion, festivity 'collide'

MANILA, May 17 (PNA) -- What's the best way to end summer besides swimming, traveling and partying? Join a memorable festival!

The province of Bulacan has long been known for having grand festivities including Sto. Nino Festival, Pulilan Festival, Luyang Dilaw Festival, Plaridel Horse Festival, and so much more.

For the last wave of summer heat, Bulacan is kicking-off its Obando Fertility Festival.

Formerly known as Kasilonawan Festival, the so-called “Sayaw sa Obando” is celebrated annually from May 17 to 19. The celebration is known to make miracles for those longing to have a child, those searching for mates, and farmers who would like to have a good harvest.

To prove its authenticity, Jose Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere wrote that Dona Pia Alba (Maria Clara’s mother) was said to have danced in Obando in order to have a child.

Festival, prayerful appeal

The Obando fertility dance is both a festival and a prayerful appeal for devotees.

It is a festival where a number of couples hoping to be blessed by children gathers and performs on the street in a long procession. This old-age tradition to the present day has attracted a lot of tourists from around the world.

Since pre-Spaish times, Obando, Bulacan has hosted this festival which has been part of the tradition even before the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Before, childless native couples dance in front of idols to request for children. When the Spanish arrived, they persuaded the natives to keep the Fertility Dance, but would dance to images of saints instead of idols.

Nowadays, the celebration is held in honor of San Pascual de Bailon, Sta Clara, and Nuestra Senora Immaculada Conception de Salambao. Prayers are offered to the patron saints for religious virtue, for the childless, and for a bountiful catch for fishermen.

Every year, it is observed that a huge number of childless couples, thankful parents, and grateful fishermen clad in colorful traditional costumes, dancing to the deep, sensual and eccentric affair beat of musical instruments made out of bamboo materials.

This tradition of dancing, along with images of patron saints carried by participants, is done to bring to life the mysterious forces of reproduction.

Evidently effective

Locals claim that the "ritual" is evidently effective, saying that one proof would be the population growth in the province of Bulacan.

Whether true or not, the fertility dance is a timeless tradition that bounds people into prayer of both thanks and pleas. People in the country believe that taking part in the festivity every year is one of the best ways to enjoy life.

With an unrestrained enthusiasm in the celebration, Filipinos show to visitors from different parts of the world that it is “more fun in the Philippines.”

So, if you are really looking for the best way to end your summer, brace yourself for the pure tradition of “Sayawan sa Obando” that the Philippines offers. (PNA) 
KMC/Ma. Louisa D. Mazon (OJT)

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Bulacan officials closely monitoring impact of dry spell as Angat dam water level continues to dip 
By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, May 13 (PNA) -- As the water level at Angat dam continues to plunge below its critical level of 180 meters, provincial officials are now closely monitoring farmlands in this city and in the towns of Bocaue and Bulakan where irrigation supply is badly needed to save rice plants not yet ready for harvest.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said teams from the Provincial Agricultural Office are now bringing water pumps to rice lands being hit by the dry spell.

He said that while the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has assured that it will still release six cubic meters per second of water from Bustos dam for 10 days, the provincial government is also now assessing the impact of the impending “El Nino” weather phenomenon and coming up with mitigation plans.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the water level at Angat dam was 179.45 meters which is now way below the critical of 180 meters.

Provincial agriculture officer Gloria Carillo said that there are still less than 5,000 hectares of farmlands planted with palay that have yet to be harvested.

He said that rice lands in the province's first district can still bear the dwindling irrigation supply.

However, she said they are also monitoring the so- called “Habol Tanim” or newly planted rice plants in the towns of Balagtas and Bulakan.

Carillo also said that they are focusing on the impact of the dry spell on land preparation that usually takes place in the last week of May or early days of June.

She said that if the water supply at the dams continues to dry up, at least six hectares of rice fields in the coastal town of Bulakan will be bereft of irrigation supply.

"There will be difficulty in reaching the ricefields there if NIA stopped the releasing of irrigation water," she said.

Last Sunday, the National Power Corporation (Napocor) announced that it cut off its water supply for irrigation for Bulacan and Pampanga to prioritize potable water supply to Metro Manila.

Napocor president Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita said that water supply for Metro Manila remains at 42 cubic meters per second (cms) until May 21.

Sta. Rita said the National Water Resources Board is set to meet to discuss if water supply to Metro Manila will be reduced.

Napocor said that with a rate of reduction of 32 centimeters per day, the water level is expected to reach 170 meter above sea level (masl) after 29 days.

Though rains are expected to come by then as per forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Angat dam can still supply water to Metro Manila even if it reaches 170 masl level.

Napocor has reiterated its call to the public to conserve and use water wisely.

It was in year 2010 when the lowest water level was recorded at Angat Dam at 157 masl, way below the dam’s minimum operating level of 160 masl for water supply.

Sta. Rita also reiterated the Bureau of Soils and Water Management’s statement that cloud seeding operations at Angat dam and the watershed area will commence once the clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is secured.

Meanwhile, the cultural minonity group known as "Dumagat" tribe performed on Tuesday the traditional "subkal" to ask their god “Makedepat” for rains.

The Dumagat tribe, which lives within the Angat watershed, are the first ones that will be affected should the dam level continue to decrease because it is one of their major sources of livelihood. (PNA) 

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Bulacan steps up measures to get rid of rice black bugs

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, May 9 (PNA) -- The provincial government, through the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO), is stepping up efforts to control the infestation of rice black bugs (RRB) which have been sighted in four municipalities in the province.

Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said that the PAO headed by Gloria Carrillo is strictly monitoring the reported sightings of the pest in the towns of San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael and Baliwag.

"Our farmers should not get worry with the RRB sightings as the provincial government is doing all possible ways to control and get rid of the pest in our crops, particularly in palay, which is the major source of income of the Bulakenyos," Alvarado said.

Carillo said that although the RBB situation in the province has not yet reached the distressing stage, their office is implementing some precautionary measures to prevent possible infestation.

"We do massive information campaign. We included the topic about RBB in the Integrated Pest Management Seminar for our farmers and agricultural workers for them to gain knowledge on how to control pest," she said.

According to the Philippine Rice Research Institute’s (PhilRice) Crop Protection Division, the RBB, which was reported to have infested some countries in Asia in the past years, are small, cryptic and highly invasive pest species attacking all growth stages of the rice plant, but which can be controlled naturally.

Carillo said that one of the PhilRice's recommended technique is to use light traps.

PhilRice experts said that light trapping of insects should start five days before and after the full moon and to use 2000-3000 watts or super light during outbreaks and set them up every night to obtain the most number of bugs.

The effective light trapping is from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m.

Carillo said that flooding, herding of ducks in the field, and sanitation also prevent pest infestation.

Aside from those techniques, she said PhilRice experts are also encouraging farmers to minimize the use of insecticide so as not to kill the natural enemies of RBB which include wasps; ground and coccinellid beetle; wolf, lynx, and long-jawed spider; red ant; and damsel bug.

"Weeding to destroy the habitat of RBB can also help exterminate the said pest," she added. (PNA) 

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25 hurt as bus falls into ravine in Aurora 
By Marilyn E. Galang

CAMP RAVINA, Aurora, May 9 (PNA) -– Twenty-five passengers, four of whom youngsters and an elderly couple, escaped death aboard a bus that fell off into a ravine in Maria Aurora town Thursday morning.

Senior Superintendent Elmer Bantug, provincial police director, said the passengers were on board a Papin bus liner with license plate CWC-847 cruising along the road in Sitio Dimutol, Barangay Dianawan, Maria Aurora at around 6:30 a.m. Thursday when its driver Celestino Marzan lost control of the steering wheel.

The bus, which was bound for Cabanatuan City, then skidded and fell into a 15-feet deep ravine.

Senior Inspector Victor Morales, Maria Aurora police chief, identified those injured as conductor Charito Pajela, 29; Linda Gutierrez, 53, of Dianawan, Maria Aurora; Francisco Josue, 40, of Alicia, Isabela; Reynaldo Apilado Jr., 37, of Florida, Maria Aurora; Joanne Tangonan, 34, of Barangay 1, Maria Aurora; Leonida Valdez, 37, and children Joyce Valdez, 10, and Lloyd Valdez, 7 and Daisy Baldove, 28, all of Ditale, Dipaculao, Aurora; Rodelio Abero, Pacita Romero, 59 and Kim Cedric Romero, 9, of Mejares, Dipaculao; Rodrigo Dagdag, 57 and wife Martina Dagdag, 56, both of Buenavista, Dipaculao;

Amelita Ordonia, 45, of Ipil, Dipaculao; Donalyn Licad, 40, and daughter April Krizzia Licad, 13, both of Dipaculao, Aurora; Noriel Briones, 22, of Sapang Kawayan, Dipaculao, Aurora; Marivel Montanez, 47, and Rodgievel Montanez, 18, both of Mucdol, Dipaculao; Erwin Suarez, 28, of Ligaya, Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija; Arcadio Mendoza, 58, Coral na Bato, Bulacan, Bulacan; Arceli Ramirez, 71, of Dimanpudso, Maria Aurora, and MJ dela Cruz.

The injured passengers were brought to the Aurora Memorial Hospital in Barangay Reserva and to the Premiere General Hospital for treatment.

PO3 Jaquel Sigua, duty investigator of the Maria Aurora police, said before the accident, the passengers heard something snapped and the driver tried to apply the brakes to no avail and the bus dived into the cliff.

Sigua said the area where the accident happened is not considered accident-prone.

“In fact, it was the first time such accident happened there,” he said.

Marzan has been detained at the Maria Aurora police stockade. (PNA) 

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Interpol lauds PHL police for busting int'l cyber extort group

MANILA, May 3 (PNA) -- The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has lauded the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its recent busting of an international syndicate engaged in cyber extortion.

This was revealed by Chief Supt. Rueben Theodore Sindac, PNP public information office chief, in a statement Saturday.

This came in wake of the PNP's arrest of 58 "sextortion" suspects and confiscation of 250 pieces of electronic evidence in simultaneous raids in Bicol Region, Laguna, Bulacan and in Taguig City on April 30.

The Interpol acknowledged the Philippine National Police and its Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) for the success of Operation “Strikeback”.

Following the Interpol Case Operational Plan (COPlan) “Strikeback”, a campaign against the prevalence of sex extortion activities in the Philippines, the PNP led the said multi-agency operation against sex extortion which was joined by representatives from Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Department of Justice, Police Scotland, Interpol, Hong Kong Police, Singapore Police, U.S. Homeland Security Investigation, Child Exploitation Online Protection and Australian Federal Police.

“I would like to thank them (PNP and ACG) for their professionalism and dedication, and without whose cooperation and efforts we would not be here today and this Operation would not have been successful,” Interpol Director Sanjay Virmani said.

“It is also important to highlight that while the arrests made this week were made here in the Philippines, these crimes are not limited to any one country and nor are the victims," he added.

Virmani also encouraged international cooperation in investigating "sextortion" as this is massive and run with just one goal in mind -- to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims. He also assure that Operation “Strikeback” shows that no matter where criminals carry out their crimes or try to hide behind the anonymity of the internet, law enforcement is equally determined in their efforts to track them down and bring them to justice. (PNA) 

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PNP bags 58 'sextortion' suspects in series of raids, 250 electronic gadgets seized

MANILA, May 2 (PNA) -- The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) on Friday announced that its operatives have arrested 58 "sextortion" suspects and confiscated 250 electronic gadgets during a series of raids in Bicol, Laguna, Bulacan and Taguig last April 29.

PNP ACG commander Senior Supt. Gilbert Sosa, in a statement forwarded to the Philippines News Agency Friday, said the operation is dubbed "Strike Back".

He said they were aided in the series of raids by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Department of Justice, Scotland police, Hong Kong police, Singapore police, US Homeland Security Investigation, Child Exploitation Online Protection and the Australian federal police.

The operation stemmed from the 1st Interpol Eurasion Working Group Meeting in Singapore in November 2013 that highlights the growing number of sextortion victims in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States with potential victims in Australia, Korea and Malaysia.

The meeting resulted in the formulation of a joint investigation model to combat the increasing sextortion cases worldwide. This was followed by intelligence sharing between cybercrime departments of Hong Kong, Singapore, Scotland UK, Australia, Philippines and others through Interpol that linked victims and cybercrime cases among these countries.

Hence, a 2nd Operational Meeting in Singapore was held on March by the Interpol Digital Crime Centre, also participated by payment systems and judicial representatives.

The joint operation was divided into three groups, the Bicol Group led by Senior Supt. Elmo Francis Sarona, Laguna and Taguig Group led by Senior Supt. Bernardo Yang and Bulacan Group led by Senior Supt. Arnold Gunnacao.

The three groups were augmented by the Police Regional Police 5, Regional Public Safety Battalion 3, and San Jose Del Monte Bulacan Police Station.

A Tactical Operations Center was also established in the main office of PNP ACG to receive reports from the ground during the implementation of search warrants and serve as the focal coordinating office for all 15 teams that were strategically deployed with Sosa as the overall officer-in-charge.

There are four target establishments in Bicol region particularly in Naga City, Libmanan and Nabua in Camarines Sur, and in Legazpi City. The Money Maker Portal Solutions, Money Magnet Portal Web Solutions, Money Builder Marketing Web Solutions, and Mocha Bytes Web Solutions are located in the places mentioned earlier are linked together validated during actual surveillance.

On the other hand, Laguna and Taguig Group successfully arrested Vincent Regori Bravo, Jomar Palacio alias Park Jiman and Gian Tolin. These suspects are responsible for financial sextortion of victims mostly from UK.

Bravo was arrested in Binan, Laguna at around 1:30 am while Tolin was arrested at around 5:00 am of April 30, 2014 with Palacio who was then sleeping in his place at Barangay Hagonoy, Taguig City.

Bulacan Group arrested employees of Alfredo Gacasa Jr. of Barangay Muzon, San Jose Del Monte Bulacan at 4:00 a.m. on May 1. They are Aldrin E. Villamonte, Jemuel C. Matuguina and Emuross O. Dela Cruz.

Seized from the joint operation were assorted mobile phones, identification cards, assorted documents, laptops, network and storage devices, assorted SIM cards, assorted credit and ATM cards, pornographic materials, cameras, CCTV equipment, live ammunition, tablets, telephone sets, desktop computers, assorted cards believed to be used in their illegal activities.

These pieces of digital evidence will be analyzed by the forensic team of PNP ACG with the help of experts from involved countries to identify any additional victims and for follow-up investigations.

Sextortion is defined as sexual blackmail to a person to whom sexual information or images are extracted through social media, mobile phones or other online services. These images or information are then used to extort sexual favors or money from the victim with the threat of sharing these to others if not favored.

Operating in this kind of online scheme or “sex extortion” by agents as they call themselves, is making money ranging from 22,000 to 90,000 pesos per successful client. They also get bonus incentives during holidays, cash or mobile phones for reaching financial targets.

Suspects arrested in Laguna and Taguig City were charged for Violation of Access Devices Regulation Act (RA 8484) and Anti-Child Pornography Act. Suspects in Bulacan were charged for Violation of RA 8484 and Robbery/Extortion. For those arrested in Bicol, charges are being readied for Violation of RA 8484 and Violation of Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, particularly for cybersex.

Operation “Strike Back” provided the opportunity for information-sharing and continuous collaboration, cooperation and coordination among our international and local partners in cracking down cybercrimes around the world. (PNA) 

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P1-M worth of 'shabu' seized, 16 persons nabbed in Bulacan dope raids

MEYCAUAYAN CITY, Bulacan, April 30 (PNA) -- Government anti-narcotics operatives arrested Tuesday 16 persons and seized methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" estimated to be worth more than P1 million during a series of raids in Northville, Barangay Bayugo here.

Senior Supt. Joel Orduna, Bulacan police director, said joint operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Regional Intelligence Division of PNP Regional 3, Provincial Public Safety Company and the Meycauayan City Police Station swooped down on five houses in the said village where illegal drug sessions and trade were being held.

Orduna said the raiding team was armed with a search warrant issued by Olongapo City RTC Branch 72 Judge Richard Paradeza.

He said that at least 16 persons engaged in pot sessions and illegal drug trade were arrested.

The team also seized plastic sachets containing shabu and drug paraphernalia.

Meycauayan City police chief Supt. David N. Poklay said that based on intelligence information, the said houses were being used as dope dens and suspicious persons were frequenting the area.

The arrested suspects are now in police custody while appropriate charges are being readied against them.

Earlier, Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado gave a marching order to the Bulacan police to step-up their operations against drug dealers and criminal gangs.

He said that there is no place in Bulacan for lawless elements except in jail. (PNA) 

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(Update)31 persons dead, 123 hurt during Holy Week observance -NDRRMC

MANILA, April 21 (PNA) -- The death toll during the Holy Week rose to 31 due to various incidents, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Monday.

In its update, NDRRMC said of the 31 fatalities, 16 were due to drowning, 13 from vehicular accident, one from gunshot wounds due to shooting incident and one by fire incident.

NDRRMC also said that 123 were injured from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4-A, 5,10and CAR.

NDRRMC said that as of Monday, a total of 50 incidents were monitored in Regions I (Ilocos), II (Cagayan Valley), III (Central Luzon), IV-A (Calabarzon), IV-B (Mimaropa), V Bicol), VIII (Eastern Visayas), X (Northern Mindanao), XI (Davao), National Capital Region (NCR), and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

The incidents involved the following:

19 vehicular accidents (1 in Santiago, Ilocos Sur; 1 in Bani, Pangasinan; 1 in Sto. Tomas, La Union; 1 Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; 1 in Pulilan, Bulacan; 2 in Bocaue, Bulacan; 1 in Plaridel, Bulacan; 1 in Nasugbu, Batangas; 1 in Mexico, Pampanga; 2 in Sariaya, Quezon; 1 in Maragondon, Cavite; 1 in Bacoor, Cavite, 1 in Libmanan, Camarines Sur; 2 in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental; 1 in Pinukpuk, Kalinga and 1 in Baguio City.

•1 Maritime Incident in Odiongan, Romblon

•2 Hazardous Materials Incidents in Nasugbu, Batangas and Catbalogan City

•7 Fire Incidents (1 in Tumauini, Isabela, 1 in Bauan, Batangas, 1 in Binangonan, Rizal, 1 in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, 1 Pantar, Lanao del Norte, 1 in Tatalon, Quezon City and 1 in Grace Park, Caloocan City)

•16 Near Drowning and Drowning Incidents (1 in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, 1 Aglipay, Quirino, 1 in Cabagan, Isabela, 1 in Echague, Isabela, 1 in Cauayan City, Isabela, 2 in Ballesteros, Cagayan, 1 in Maragondon, Cavite, 1 in Sariaya, Quezon, 1 in Infanta, Quezon, 1 in Ternate, Cavite, 1 in Nasugbu, Batangas, 1 in Real, Quezon, 2 in Tabuk City, Kalinga Province and 1 Pinukpuk, Kalinga)

•2 Flooding Incidents (1 Tagum City, Daval del Norte and 1 in Carmen, Davao del Norte)

•1 Shooting Incident in Nagtipunan, Quirino Province

•2 Vehicle Fire Incidents in Atimonan, Quezon and San Jose, Batangas. (PNA) 

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Divine Mercy Shrine a place for prayer, inner peace and healing (Feature) 
By Aerol B. Patena

MARILAO, BULACAN, April 18 (PNA) -- Groups of pilgrims have flocked to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Santa Rosa I, Marilao, Bulacan because they believe it is a place for prayer, healing and inner peace.

The pilgrimage site draws a regular attendance of around 5,000 churchgoers which usually peaks during the Holy Week.

As early as the evening of Holy Wednesday, people from all walks of life coming from nearby towns of Meycauyan, Bocaue, Santa Maria, to name a few, visit the church to pray and spend time with their families as well.

Young devotees in groups prefer to walk while the elderly ride on their bicycles and motorbikes on their way to the shrine.

The devotees bring along food and water to help sustain themselves amidst the scorching heat of the sun.

Foreigners were also taking pictures and videos of the religious icons at the shrine.

One of the most popular attractions to visit in the shrine is the Guadalupe Chapel at the church basement where the picture of Our Lady is enthroned with its flowing water that many pilgrims consider healing.

Mrs. Manalo, a longtime devotee of the Divine Mercy, shared that her son used to suffer from an acute viral infection which affected his speech, mobility and cognitive skills.

"My son was suffering of an acute viral infection which affected his speech and mobility. Thus, I really prayed hard to God that He give me a sign which would give me courage that my son will be able to recover," Mrs. Manalo said in an interview.

Eventually, she accompanied her son to visit the shrine to pray for his full recovery and that was on a Good Friday seven years ago.

"Several months after, doctors have noted a remarkable improvement on his condition. Up to this very moment, he continues to recover ," according to her.

"From then on, my family and I made a personal vow to visit the shrine as often as we could without missing a Good Friday," she added.

Meanwhile, among the shrine's other features include a model of Calvary with life-sized statues from the Stations of the Cross at the back of the church, a Little Poland museum which features a replica of the house and basement where Pope John Paul II lived, a chapel where the vision of the Divine Mercy appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska and the prison cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe was martyred.

It was elevated to the status of National Shrine by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on November 30, 2002.

As pilgrims made their way home, they never miss to buy native delicacies such as bibingka, suman, puto, cuchinta, among others, where Marilao is noted especially for foreigners. (PNA) 

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5 die, 7 seriously injured when passenger but hits cargo truck

LEGAZPI CITY, April 16 (PNA) -- Five passengers died while seven others were seriously injured when a bus hit a parked truck loaded with scrap materials along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay Bikal, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, on early Wednesday morning.

A police report identified the casualties who did not reach the Libmanan District Hospital alive as Alexander Belen, of Bacacay, Albay; Jayson Purita, 23, single, of San Miguel Island, Tabacao City; Cindy Garcia, 17, single, of Concepcion, Marikina City; and Arneli Dacullo, and his son, Mark Kiven, 2 , residents of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

Being treated at the hospital were Jeric Buelia of Bacacay, Albay; Pamela Brozo, 33, of Ifugao Province; Dennis Brozo, 37, of Mandaluyong City; Pablo Dacullo, of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan; Alicia Frimesta, 51, of Concepcion, Marikina City; Vicente Magdaraog, 55, of Barangay Calzada, Taguig City; and Michael Ochoa of Caloocan City.

The report said the accident happened at about 4:00 a.m. while the Bragais Liner bus driven by Joey Bermas, 42, of Tabaco City, was negotiating the highway when it rammed the rear part of the parked mechanically troubled cargo truck owned by Pacific Royal Basic Foods Inc. of Pasong Tamo, Makati City, and loaded with scrap metals.

The passenger bus was on its way to Tabaco City from Metro Manila where it left Tuesday night, carrying the victims who would take their vacation with their relatives in Albay.

Residents of the place and authorities rushed the victims to the hospital.

On investigation, police concluded that the passenger bus might have been speeding and did not see the parked cargo truck which it hit, damaging the bus' front part.

Authorities are now holding the bus driver who faces a case for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries. (PNA) 

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Thousands join Bulacan’s 'March for Faith, Walk for Jesus'

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, April 12 (PNA) -- Thousands of Bulakenyos on Saturday woke up early and joined the early morning “March for Faith, Walk for Jesus”, a unified prayer rally for the blessing and protection of the province and its leaders.

Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and provincial capitol employees joined various religious groups in the “prayer walk” that started at 5:30 a.m. from the activity center of Bulacan State University to the provincial capitol gymnasium.

“We are always praying and we will keep on doing it to ask the guidance, the blessings and the protection of the Lord. And since the Lenten season is now in our midst, I am thankful that many woke up early and joined us in this prayer rally,” Alvarado said.

"Although we belong to different religions and have different beliefs, we are unified in one goal and faith in God that He will guide and protect us from any dangers," he also said.

The governor said that placing faith in Jesus Christ have the benefits of being at peace with God and that the people can surpass everything, including trials and problems.

Bishop Rufino “Bernie” Malitao IV, national chairman of the March for Jesus movement, said that the “prayer walk” which was also dubbed as “Sama-samang Pananalangin at Pag-aayuno para sa lalawigan ng Bulacan” is already a part of history of Malolos City.

“Today, this historic city witnessed the love and strong faith in God of the people of Bulacan. It is high time to have unity among Bulakenyos and this is a good start for continuous development of the province and the strengthening of the faith of the Bulakenyos," Malitao said.

Different religious leaders also offered prayers for the success of the seven-point development agenda, namely health, education, nature and environment, good governance, peace and order, livelihood, history and culture of the administration of Alvarado.

The different religious leaders -- Rev. Cesar Sacdalan (Alliance for Values Formation in Bulacan); Rev. Joel O. Lombos (Cadence-Bulacan); Pastor Oscar Luarca (Unida Evangelical Church), Fr. Gino Hererra (Roman Catholic Church); Bishop Ephraim Perez (Inter-Faith Bulacan); Rev. Fr. Reynaldo Tallara (Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Aglipayan Church) and Bishop Ted Malangen (Jesus Christ the Deliverer) -- also administered a pray over on Alvarado and the people of Bulacan.

Some 5,000 people joined the early morning “prayer walk,” according to a police officer who also participated the event. (PNA) 

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Bulacan has new provincial police chief

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, April 11 (PNA) -- Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante on Friday was installed as officer-in-charge of Bulacan Police Provincial Office, replacing Senior Supt. Joel S. Orduna.

Senior Superintendent Agripino Javier, chief of the Directorial Staff (CDS), officiated the simple turnover ceremony held in this camp.

Bustamante said his first order to his chiefs of police in Bulacan is to intensify the campaign against motorcycle riding criminals.

He also ordered the deployment of more policemen to areas where crime incidents, particularly robbery/holdups occurred.

“I also directed all my chiefs of police to personally visit areas prone to crime incidents so they can supervise his personnel,” Bustamante said.

He said he will also activate the radio communications because it is a faster mode of communication than cellular phone.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’89.

Prior to his new assignment, Bustamante was the chief of the Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Division at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He said that this is the first time that he will be assigned in Central Luzon.

Orduna served more than a year as provincial director of Bulacan police.

He was relieved from his post following the reported increase in the number of crimes perpetrated by motorcycle riding criminals.

He will be assigned at the PNP National Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City. (PNA) 

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Chief of staff of Bulacan senior board member slain

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, April 10 (PNA)--The chief of staff of the province senior board member was killed on Thursday by two unidentified gunmen along the MacArthur highway near the gate of NorthFields Subdivision in Barangay Longos here.

Police identified the victim as Edwin Inocencio, 40, resident of Barangay San Sebastian, Hagonoy and chief of staff of board member Michael Fermin of the province’s first congressional district.

Initial investigation showed that Inocencio was driving their service van on his way to the house of the provincial legislator at the said subdivision when his path was blocked by two men on board a motorcycle near the subdivision gate.

Witnesses said that the suspects who were both wearing helmets drew short firearms and opened fire on the victim.

The burst of gunfire killed Inocencio on the spot, whom police said sustained seven gunshot wounds in the head and different parts of his body.

A witness told police investigators that one of the suspects even approached the already lifeless body of the suspect and again shot him.

Fermin told local newsmen that the killing could be politically motivated.

The board member said he could be the target because in the last few days he and his aides have been receiving threats through text messages from unknown senders.

It was learned that Inocencio has been serving Fermin since 2010.

Meanwhile, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado condemned the killing and ordered the Bulacan Police Provincial Office to track down the suspects.

He also told Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel S. Orduna to leave no stone unturned until the suspects are arrested to shed light on the motive behind the killing.

Alvarado also instructed Orduna to increase police presence along major highways and places of convergence to thwart or deter criminals from doing their nefarious activities.

Orduna said police are still investigating the incident while a special team is now tracking down possible suspects. (PNA) 

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2 alleged gun-for-hire gangmen killed in Bulacan shootout

SAN MIGUEL Bulacan, April 7 (PNA) -- Joint operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Provincial Intelligence Branch of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office killed two alleged members of a gun-for-hire gang in a running gunfight in Barangay Tibagan here over the weekend.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna said the two suspected gangmen were being pursued by police intelligence operatives when one of them opened fire at the pursuing lawmen.

The two, who remain unidentified, died on the spot.

No casualty was reported on the government side, the report said.

Police recovered one cal. 45 pistol, one cal.38 pistol, several rounds of ammunition and one hand grenade from the slain suspects.

Orduna said that the two were riding-in-tandem and believed to be on a liquidation mission when they were spotted by the joint intelligence operatives who were then conducting surveillance operations.

The encounter took place late Saturday night three days after Governor Wilhelmino M Sy-Alvarado gave a marching order to the Bulacan police to intensify their campaign against criminals and other lawless element

Orduna said the San Miguel police headed by Supt Fitz Macariola are still conducting investigation. (PNA) 

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Bulacan declares 'all-out war' against crime groups, lawless elements

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, April 6 (PNA) -- The provincial government, together with the provincial police force and other law enforcement units, has declared an "all-out war" against criminal groups and lawless elements in this province.

Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the move is aimed at deterring crime groups from operating in the province, which is now experiencing growth and economic boom.

“Use all police units and logistics in preventing crime and in ensuring public safety in the booming province of Bulacan,” Alvarado told provincial police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna as he issued a marching order to step up the campaign against crime prevention and strengthen police capabilities in the maintenance of peace and order.

Sitting as chairman of the provincial peace and order council, the governor said that “we must implement all resources in our disposal to ensure public safety and send a strong message to criminals and lawless elements that they are not welcome here and have no place in Bulacan except in jail.”

Alvarado said the provincial government has declared an “all-out war against criminals and lawless elements” who, he said, are going to Bulacan due to the rapid growth now being felt in the province.

He also said that “much as the local government units are doing their share in creating an environment conducive for businesses to attract investors to come and create employment, we are also working -- together with the provincial police, other law enforcement units and the Philippine Army -- in creating an environment not conducive for criminals.”

The governor said he convened the provincial peace and order council in the wake of reports over the series of crimes in recent weeks in several towns of Bulacan.

Alvarado also bared that he has issued an executive order requiring all commercial establishments, especially banks and money exchange providers, to put up closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras inside and outside their areas and immediately allow police to have access on them in order for the law enforcers to gain leads in case of robberies or any other criminal activities.

The governor said he has also urged the Sangguniang Panglalawigan to certify as urgent the executive order and strengthen it with a penal clause for those who will not comply.

He said he will summon bank executives and their security officers this coming week to tackle measures in further beefing-up the campaign against criminals and crime prevention interventions.

“We will not allow criminals to make our province their haven. They are not welcome here and they will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

Alvarado also called on all local and village executives and every citizen as well to join him in this crusade and help in making Bulacan an ideal place for investors and a safe place for all.

He also instructed Orduna to upgrade all communications equipment and mobile vehicles so that they can swiftly respond at any given time.

Orduna, for his part, said that the Bulacan Provincial Police Office has already beefed up its communications equipment and upgraded their radio networks.

“We have installed tracking systems in our police vehicles so that we will know where to locate the nearest mobile units and create a dragnet when there is a crime being committed,” he said. (PNA) 

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NOLCOM declares Bulacan “peaceful and ready for development”

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, April 5 (PNA)--The Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has declared Bulacan as a peaceful and progressive province that is ready for more growth and development.

In validating this declaration, NOLCOM awarded a plaque of recognition to Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado during its 27th founding anniversary held Tuesday at Camp Servillano A. Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac City.

Alvarado was recognized for his active cooperation to the NoLCom’s Internal Peace and Security Operations that gives security to the Philippines, particularly the Central Luzon region.

The governor said that the province is always ready to help and cooperate in the projects of the AFP to protect and secure the Filipinos.

"The province of Bulacan is always ready to help the projects and goals of our military and police forces especially if the security and peace of our nation is concerned," Alvarado said.

The governor thanked NOLCOM and the Philippine National Police for their internal security measures that is keeping Bulacan a peaceful province and a magnet for investors and other business prospects.

He said that a peaceful environment is needed to further spur economic growth and stability in the province.

NoLCom Chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang said he is thankful for the cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) to accomplish their goals in securing the people against criminals, terrorism and even during disasters and calamities.

“The end of war against terrorists does not rest on military alone but to the concerted efforts from the local government units, different private sectors down to the grassroots level of society,” Catapang said. (PNA)

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Two big malls in Bulacan switch-off lights for 'Earth Hour'

MARILAO, Bulacan, Mar 30 (PNA)--It's light out and what a sight to behold for the sake of the world.

Two of the province's leading supermalls, SM City Marilao and SM City Baliwag, simultaneously switched off lights as they joined the world in celebrating the annual "Earth Hour" Saturday night.

SM City Marilao mall manager Bernadette Velasco said that “Earth Hour” at SM City Marilao and SM City Baliwag was even bigger as the two Bulacan malls solidified their commitment to protect and save the environment by switching to LED (Light-Emitting-Diodes) lighting.

Citing the significant energy-saving and awareness-raising benefits of using the lighting alternative, celebrations at both malls were highlighted by light shows of LED brilliance with literally millions of color combinations.

“ 'Earth Hour' is an opportunity to show how our imagination can inspire and engage our shoppers in saving the environment," Velasco said.

“Today, we would like to promote energy-saving alternatives” she said.

The activity was highlighted by the glow in the dark TRON dance or better known as “ElecTRONica” dance movement inspired this year’s theme "Use Your Power".

Performers reinforced the statement of "Be a Superhero for the Planet" by the precisely timed sequences and carefully coordinated LED-luminescent light suit choreography.

Because each of the performers donned custom-designed LED outfits that can be controlled remotely, dancers can immediately appear and disappear in a pitch-black stage providing a super-hero and futuristic-stop motion component as well as amazing visual impact.

Following the TRON dance performance in SM City Marilao, over 300 LED balloons were likewise given to guests and participants during the blackout.

At exactly 8:30 pm, both malls simultaneously switched off the buildings’ logo including external signages, bill boards and lampposts.

Preceded by the 10-second countdown, stores and car park lights were set at the minimum level to conserve energy while ensuring the safety of mall customers.

As soon as the lights were off, a dramatic lighting of LED candles followed at SM City Marilao.

Local government units, guests as well as SM executives turned up the candles forming the symbolic 60 minutes to show solidarity with the worldwide campaign of saving the earth.

At SM City Baliwag, LED-powered strobe lights and the 60+ walk of fame adorned the 50-meter stretch of the mall.

With Spiderman as the 2014 Earth Hour ambassador, youngsters dressed as superheroes led the lighting ceremony of the “Walk of Flame”.

Guests also used colorful glowsticks in a festive performance to brighten the mall grounds.

The ceremonial switch off of lights was led by Mayor Carolina Dellosa together with Rotary Club president Jayjay Ponce Gonzales and SM City Baliwag mall manager Andrew Cristobal in SM City Baliwag.

WWF Philippine project development officer Paul Saludar, who shared the advocacy to protect the environment, on the other hand, headed the ceremonial switch off in SM City Marilao.

Beverly Bernardo Cruz, public relations officer of SM City Baliwag, said that “with hundreds of millions of people, each making small commitments to living sustainably, SM City Baliwag and SM City Marilao along with all SM Supermalls hope to inspire as many individuals to use one’s power in making a difference and saving the earth.” (PNA) 

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Bulacan PNP ties with LTO in enforcing traffic safety and campaign vs road offenders

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, March 28 (PNA) -- The Bulacan Police Provincial Office (BPPO) has joined hands with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in a bid to step-up the campaign against traffic violators and riding-in-tandem criminals.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna said a one day training seminar on “Land Transportation and Traffic Enforcement Deputation” was conducted Wednesday at the Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center here.

This was in coordination with the Malolos District Land and Transportation Office headed by Rufino W. Carpio, chief LTO, Malolos District Office and Rolando F Casilan, chief, LTO Bulacan Licensing Center.

Orduna said that the seminar was attended by 71 police personnel coming from different subordinate units of the BPPO.'

“The participants will be subsequently deputized by the Land Transportation Office in the enforcement of traffic laws all throughout the province. The participants were also briefed on how to enforce traffic rules and regulations and encouraged to develop other innovative counter-measures that will intensify police operations against motorcycle-riding criminals,” he said.

Earlier, some 30 policemen underwent crash training on motorcycle riding to beef up police mobile teams in operations against criminals and ensure public safety on the road.

“They were also trained to ride in tandem to counter motorcycle-riding criminals,” Orduna added. (PNA) 

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Hostage taker stabs 4- year old boy on board police car - By Emil G. Gamos

SAN JOSE DEL MONTE CITY, Bulacan, March 23 (PNA) -– A four-year old boy was stabbed to death by an alleged “hostage taker” while on board a police car along the Quirino Highway, in Barangay Maharlika here Saturday morning.

The suspect was subsequently shot dead by policemen when the former began stabbing the boy while on board a police patrol car that responded after concerned citizens reported that a man was holding a boy at knifepoint along the Qurino highway.

Police identified the victim as Dennis Sibbaluca Jr., a resident of Barangay Gumaoc here.

The suspect, on the other hand, was identified as Jose Puyo Jr., a native of Camarines Sur.

The boy sustained five stab wounds on different parts of his body and was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

Police said that earlier the victim’s father noticed something strange on the behavior of the suspect, his niece, who was working as a helper at a towing service.

He then decided to take the suspect home.

When they reached their house in Barangay Maharlika, the two had a heated argument that led to the suspect’s grabbing the boy, poked a double-bladed knife at his neck.

The suspect, who was carrying the boy, then reached Quirino highway and was shouting that he will kill the boy if someone tries to get near him.

It was at this juncture that the responding police team arrived.

The responding lawmen was taken by surprise when the suspect suddenly boarded the patrol car and repeatedly stab the boy prompting policemen to shot him.

Bulacan police director Sr. Supt. Joel Orduna said investigators from the Bulacan Police Provincial Office are now investigating the incident. (PNA) 

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Devotees flock as mysterious image of Jesus Christ caught in CCTV at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Marilao

MARILAO, Bulacan, March 18 (PNA) -- A number of devotees has started to increase at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy here days after the image of Jesus Christ was caught in one of the newly-installed closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs).

Parish priest Fr. Prospero “Pros” Tenorio said it still cannot be called a miracle nor an apparition of the Lord Jesus Christ but can be hailed as a blessing and radiant sign of God's never-ending love for mankind.

“I still cannot say if it is a miracle or an apparition of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is for the bishop to decide and after an investigation the final say will be the Vatican,” Tenorio said.

The parish priest said that he was the one who discovered the mysterious image, a radiant white streak of light similar to the image of the Divine Mercy, at around 11 p.m. on March 3.

He said that the first image was caught by one of the CCTV camera at around 9 p.m. where workers were putting a purple curtain at the back of the image of a crucified Jesus Christ—the centerpiece holy icon at the main altar of St. Faustina hall at the Divine Mercy Shrine.

He said that what makes the footage mysterious was when the lights were shut off at around 10:30 p.m., the radiant image still remain and recorded up to 6 a.m. of the following day (March 4).

Tenorio also showed the footage to video expert Clyde Villegas, who admitted that he was also amazed on what he saw.

Villegas said he looked for possible sources of light that could have produced the image but it was pitch dark in the area during that time.

He said that he looked at the back of the altar where a mosiac of tainted colored glass featuring the image of St. Faustina, Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Divine mercy Image of Jesus Crist was located.

“It was already impossible for a light to penetrate the tainted glass at night time and it is definitely impossible if it was also covered by a thick purple curtain, the image is really a mystery,” he said.

When asked what the mysterious image meant to the Catholic faithful, Tenorio said that it could be that the Lord is sending as a message of love and hope as well as calling the people to repent and get closer to God.

Since then, he said the number of pilgrims has gone up from the regular 3,000 attending the Holy Mass every Sunday to more at least 5,000.

Upon learning of the incident, Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that this may be a sign –“a radiance of God’s love and mercy.”

The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy is one of the crowd-drawing sites during the observance of Holy Week where thousands of devotees flock to fulfill their Lenten vows.

The other popular Lenten sites are the Catholic Chapel in Barangay Kapitangan in the coastal town of Paombong where hundreds of bare back penitents and faith healers perform bloody rites by getting crucified at a wooden cross at a man-made Golgotha and the Grotto Shrine in San Jose Del Monte City where giant images of the Station of the Cross continues to draw big crowds during Holy Week. (PNA) 

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Mother who stabbed dead then burned her four children in Bulacan to undergo psycho test

MEYCAUAYAN CITY, Bulacan, March 17 (PNA)—-Police authorities on Monday said they will recommend psychological test to the 32- year old mother who stabbed dead then burned alive her four children at their rented apartment in Barangay Iba here Sunday morning.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna identified the suspect as Marie Durlucio, a resident of said village.

The fatalities were identified as nine- year old Karyl Franz, Seth Benedict, 7; Zane, 3; and York Joshua, 1.

Their charred bodies were found on the second floor inside their rented apartment.

Orduna said that the suspect later admitted to police investigators that she stabbed each of their children , locked them inside the room at second floor and set them ablaze.

Orduna said at first, even arson investigators thought the four children were just victims of a fire that razed the second floor of the apartment but were shocked when the suspect openly admitted to the police that she killed her children and then burned them because of her husband, whom she claimed has neglected them.

“No one in his right mind, especially a mother at that, will kill her children just like that. We will recommend that she underwent psychological test,” he said.

When asked by journalists, she said she had no regrets for what she done and blamed her husband for committing mistakes against them.

Charges of multiple parricide will be filed against Durlucio, Orduna said. (PNA) 

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Bulacan receives another Agri-Pinoy achievers' award

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, March 15 (PNA) -- This province, through the initiatives and programs of the provincial government headed by Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, has again reaped the "fruit of the good seeds" it has sown in the field of agriculture.

This after Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala presented the Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers' Award to the province of Bulacan which was adjudged as one of the top 12 rice producing provinces in the country.

Alvarado received the award during the Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ awarding ceremony held Friday at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City.

This is the second consecutive time that the province was conferred the award.

"I am so happy that the programs that we implemented for the development and progress of our province, especially in the field of agriculture, was again recognized," the governor said.

Bulacan, together with Nueva Ecija, North Cotabato, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Bukidnon, Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna and Lanao del Norte emerged as the outstanding provinces in the country with bountiful rice harvests and good farming programs.

In addition, the town of San Rafael was also hailed as one of the outstanding municipalities while Provincial Agriculture Officer Ma. Gloria Carrillo and Provincial Agriculture Office Staff Cynthia Nunez also bagged the agricultural extension workers (AEWs) category award.

Alvarado said that 19 Bulakenyo agriculturists from San Ildefonso, Bustos and San Rafael also got recognitions in the agricultural extension workers category.

Aside from trophies, Bulacan province received P4 million worth of agricultural project grants; San Rafael town got P1 million worth of project grants; and the AEWs also received cash incentive worth P20,000 each.

Alvarado said that the award only shows that Bulakenyo farmers are at par with other farmers here and abroad when it comes to high yield production of rice.

The Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Award is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture to identify the top 10 rice producing communities in the country.

The competition is divided into three categories - Local Government Units (LGUs), Agricultural Extension Workers and Irrigators Associations for the regional level and national level.

Alcala said the awardees contributed 97 percent of the rice production for 2013. (PNA) 

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DPWH chief orders 24/7 work at Calumpit Bridge

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, March 13 (PNA) -- Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson has ordered the DPWH regional office in Central Luzon to speed up the construction of the new Calumpit Bridge along the Macarthur Highway in Barangay Gatbuca here and see to it that the contractor do a 24/7 non-stop work in order to make-up for the long delay.

Singson issued the instruction after Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Rep. Ma Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado and Calumpit Mayor Jessie de Jesus called his attention on the snail paced work being done on the bridge which is scheduled to be completed in April this year.

Singson also instructed the strengthening and improving of the temporary hanging bridge which, the governor said, has already become a “daily punishment” to the thousands of people, especially students and workers, who have to cross the river while the new bridge is being constructed.

Alvarado said the DPWH Secretary, the owner of the construction firm and the DPWH regional officials called his office upon learning of the status of the bridge.

“The Secretary understand the plight of the thousands of people and has ordered the construction firm as well as the regional office of DPWH to speed up the construction and make sure that it will be completed before the onset of the rainy season,” Alvarado said.

The governor told Singson that the people of Calumpit and nearby areas are getting angry because of the daily ordeal they have to bear due to the delay of the completion of the bridge.

“The people can no longer bear the inconvenience caused by its delay. Everyday, thousands of people has to cross the river over an hanging bridge, which is now alarmingly because its wear and tear has now become imminent. The delay has also affected businesses and has already cost too much to the economy of the affected towns,” the governor said.

The bridge links the northern villages of Calumpit and Northern Luzon to Malolos City and Metro Manila.

He also said the construction firm encountered a problem when they found out that there was a concrete structure under the river.

“There was an old bridge that the Japanese Imperial Army destroyed to thwart the reinforcement of US and Filipino soldiers during World War II. The construction firm has to bore through the concrete structures to fortify the base of the bridge which will now cause them more money and since they have made a low bid on the project they are now in a dilemma,” he added. (PNA) 

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New police chief commits self to Baguio City

BAGUIO CITY, March 10 (PNA) –- Appointed Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) officer-in-charge (OIC) P/Sr Supt Rolando Miranda vowed to fulfill the dream of his superior, P/Chief Supt Isagani Nerez to make Baguio City a peace and order role model of the Philippines.

Introducing himself formally in front of the Baguio City council members, Miranda said he will not disappoint his superior officer’s trust.

The appointment in an OIC capacity is more difficult as it will not complete a required tour of duty and the proof of burden will be on his shoulder.

Miranda, replying to the question of his availability, said he is at present residing in Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet but considered renting an apartment in Baguio City to be able to offer his 24-hour attention.

Miranda hailed from San Miguel, Bulacan and belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class 1996. He performed police duties in Metro Manila, the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and finally in the Cordilleras. (PNA) 
LAP/Jojo Lamaria/utb

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DPWH asked to probe snail-paced construction of bridge in Bulacan

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, March 10 (PNA)--Local officials as well as the residents in the province on Monday appealed to the national government, particularly to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to probe the snail-paced construction of the new Calumpit Bridge along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Gatbuka here.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the slow-paced work is not only worsening public inconvenience but has also been hampering progress in the northern towns and provinces of Central and Northern Luzon.

"It is also now triggering adverse effect on the economy of affected towns and villages," Alvarado said.

At present, the residents are using the hanging bridge that was temporarily constructed so as not to cross the the river.

The bridge links the northern villages of Calumpit and provinces in Central and Northern Luzon to Malolos City and Metro Manila.

With the slow pace construction, the governor said the bridge is expected not to finish within its scheduled completion this coming April.

Alvarado said he and his wife 1st District Rep. Ma Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado has set an appointment to meet DPWH Secretary Ronald Singson to personally ask him to intervene in behalf of the people of Bulacan and the neighboring province of Pampanga.

“The people can no longer bear the inconvenience caused by its delay. Everyday, thousands of people have to cross the river over a hanging bridge which is now in a state of wear and tear. The delay has affected businesses and has already cost too much to the economy of the affected towns,” he said.

The governor said he will also bring to the attention of the DPWH Secretary the circumstances behind the delay which, he said, might have been triggered after the Regional Office of the DPWH awarded the contract to a construction firm that bid very low.

Alvarado disclosed that the project was worth P210 million but the winning bidder made a bid that nosedived to P166 million.

"The government has saved P40 million. But, if you are going to look at it, it is only now that they have started working on the bridge while the temporary hanging bridge is starting to weaken due to thousands of our constituents are crossing there daily," he said.

He said the construction firm encountered a problem when they found out that there was a concrete structure under the river.

“There was an old bridge that the Japanese Imperial Army destroyed to thwart the reinforcement of US and Filipino soldiers during World War II. The construction firm has to bore through the concrete structures to fortify the base of the bridge which will now cause them more money and since they have made a low bid on the project they are now in a dilemma,” Alvarado said.

He said he is optimistic that Secretary Singson will act swiftly to resolve the problem.

"I will also ask Secretary Singson to inspect the temporary hanging bridge and strengthen it to ensure the safety of the thousands of people crossing it everyday. (PNA) 

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Three alleged members of white slavery gang in Bulacan arrested

MEYCAUAYAN CITY, Bulacan, March 7 (PNA) -- Police arrested three suspected members of a “white slavery” gang and rescued a 14-year-old girl during a raid in Barangay Tugatog here Thursday afternoon.

Police identified the arrested suspects as Crisalto Calderon, 67, married, jobless, a resident of No. 193 Moises Buning Street, Barangay Hulo, Meycauayan City; Luningning Osorio alias “Neneng”, 47, married, jobless, and Artemio Osorio Acuna, 48, married, electrician, both residents of No. 013 Rosales Street, Barangay Tugatog, Meycauayan City.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna said a police team from the Meycauayan City police station swooped down on a house located at Rosales Street, Barangay Tugatog, after the victim’s mother Julie Ann Adajar, 31, a resident of No. 086 Jasmin Street, Barangay Bancal, Meycauayan City personally appeared to Meycauayan City Police Station and sought police assistance for the rescue of her daughter whom, she said was being held inside the house of the suspects.

Orduna said that the police team arrived in the nick of time and were able to rescue the victim safe and unharmed.

Initial investigation conducted by Meycauayan City Police Station disclosed that the victim was invited by the suspects for a drinking session at the house of Artemio Osorio, who was then celebrating his birthday.

The celebrant reportedly informed the victim that they already booked her to a customer.

Orduna said the victim might have sensed that she was in danger and went to the comfort room where she called her mother through her cellular phone and sought for help.

While talking to her mother, the victim told investigators that she overheard the suspects in loud voices that if the victim became tipsy and sleepy, they will mate with her one at a time in exchange of money.

A team of social workers is now helping the victim while charges for violation of Republic Act 9208 (Anti-Trafficking of Persons) are now being readied for filing against the suspects who are now detained at the Meycauyan City jail. (PNA) 

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Dope gang leader, 2 cohorts killed in shootout with Bulacan cops

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan, March 6 (PNA)-- Three alleged members of a notorious drug syndicate, including its suspected leader, were killed in a running gunbattle with law enforcers during a raid at the gang's suspected lair in Franscisco homes, Barangay Yakal, San Jose del Monte City Thursday noon.

Initial police reports from the San Jose del Monte City police station identified one of the slain suspects as Wilson Paramio, a resident of said area and alleged leader of a local drug gang.

The two other slain suspects remain unidentified as of press time.

Bulacan police director Sr. Supt. Joel Orduna said a team of SJDM City policemen were out to serve an arrest warrant against Paramio when two of his alleged cohorts opened fire at the approaching lawmen.

A brief firefight ensued that resulted to the deaths of the two unidentified suspects while Paramio tried to escape towards the house of his father Ernesto.

Instead of yielding to the pursuing policemen, Paramio opted to shoot it out but was hit in the ensuing gunfight.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Paramio is the the subject of a warrant of arrest issued by the Bulacan Regional Trial Court for previous drug offenses.

Police recovered from the two slain suspects one hand grenade, and a homemade paltik .38 caliber revolver, several plastic sachets of suspected shabu and drug paraphernalia.

Orduna said the police team also recovered a .45 caliber pistol and a .38 caliber revolver from the body of Paramio, whom police said is a notorious drug ring leader in the area.

Police are still searching the house of Paramio since there were reports that high powered firearms and ammunition as well as illegal drugs were buried before the law men came.

Orduna said the raid is part of the unrelenting operations of the Bulacan police in response to the call of Central Luzon Police Director Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta to conduct no-nonsense and intensified operations against the proliferation of illegal drugs and other criminal activities.

Orduna said investigation is still going. (PNA) 

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Arrest of CIDG head shows PNP’s determination in cleansing its ranks, Palace says 
By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, March 4 (PNA) -- After the arrest of Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Pampanga Chief Bienvenido Reydado, Malacanang on Tuesday lauded the PNP for its effort to ‘cleanse its ranks’.

“(This) shows the determination of the PNP in cleansing its ranks of people who are on the wrong side of the law,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a Palace briefing.

“Bahagi din po yan ng pagpapahusay ng kapasidad ng PNP sa pagpapatupad ng batas,” he added.

Aside from Reydado, reports showed that six civilian agents were also arrested for alleged involvement in illegal activities.

These illegal activities included the recycling of seized illegal drugs. Because of this, all CIDG members in Pamapanga were relieved.

Raids were done last Monday in two CIDG offices in Pampanga and Bulacan, where the regional unit is headquartered.

Recovered during the raids were five high-powered firearms, 11 pistols, a rifle grenade and assorted magazines for different calibers of firearms. (PNA)

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DENR Bulacan gets 'excellent' rating in public service

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, March 3 (PNA) -- Two field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bulacan received “excellent” ratings for public service during a recent report card survey of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Maximo Dichoso, executive director of DENR in Central Luzon, disclosed on Monday that DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENRO) in Guiguinto and San Rafael were rated “excellent” in the CSC Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) survey.

In the survey, CENRO San Rafael got 94.42 percent for the ARTA provision, and 98.37 percent for overall client satisfaction, or an average rating of 96.52 percent.

CENRO Guiguinto, on the other hand, received 91.62 percent for the ARTA provision, and 89.20 percent for overall client satisfaction, or an average rating of 90.34 percent.

Aside from the excellent ratings, the two CENROs each received the “Citizens Satisfaction Seal of Excellence Award” for public service.

The ARTA Report Card (RC) is based on Republic Act (RA) 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 which aims to curb red tape and eliminate graft and corruption in government.

The Report Card is composed of two components, namely the ARTA provision and the frontline services satisfaction.

The ARTA provision include the “anti-fixer”, “no hidden costs”, and “no lunch break” campaigns, while the frontline services satisfaction consist of service quality, physical set-up, basic facilities, and respondent-client satisfaction.

"I hope that CENROs San Rafael and Guiguinto would serve as models of public service for all DENR field offices in the region," he said. (PNA) 

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Bulacan lines up activities for Fire Prevention Month

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Mar. 1 (PNA) --The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) has lined up various activities in line with the celebration of the National Fire Prevention Month this month.

With the theme: “Isulong ang Kaunlaran, Sunog ay Iwasan, Kaalaman at Pag-iingat ang Kailangan,” Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said the activities are part of the provincial government's continuing effort to increase public awareness and encourage a proactive approach to fire safety.

The month-long celebration kicked off on Saturday with a motorcade and a fire awareness run.

The PDDRMO staff will distribute flyers and leaflets during Monday's flag raising ceremony at the Bualcan capitol gym on March 3.

A raffle draw of Ang Bote Mo, Kaligtasan ko, a successful project of PDRRMO will also be held wherein rescue tools/equipment for different rescue teams will be given out.

The continuous distribution of paracord and light stick and hanging of tarpaulins will also be held as part of the information drive.

Through the help of the Malolos Bureau of Fire Protection, the PDRRMO will also conduct building inspection in the provincial capitol, in different municipalities and private establishments to ensure compliance of fire safety requirements.

On the second week of March, the Bulacan rescue team will do a lecture and demonstration or a 20-minute fire talk on fire suppression and the proper way of using the fire extinguisher for the capitol employees.

On March 13-14, there will be a training/seminar for all the local government units and non-government organizations' response teams about fire suppression and basic life support CPR and First Aid while a bloodletting activity will be conducted on March 18.

A fire earthquake orientation drill will also be conducted at Marcelo H. Del Pilar High School in Barangay Sta. Isabel on March 21.

The celebration will also feature Aero Marathon, PDRRMO’s new activity on March 28 wherein participating individuals can register and claim a raffle ticket by submitting two 1.5 litre plastic bottles. (PNA) 

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Central Luzon cops hold anti-hijacking summit

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Feb. 27 (PNA) -- Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta has urged operators and owners of trucking companies to work hand-in-hand with police authorities in its campaign against hijacking in Central Luzon.

In an anti-hijacking summit held Wednesday, Petrasanta said the gathering aims to minimize, if not eradicate, criminality in the region, particularly highjacking.

He said one of the salient points of the summit is the revival of the issuance of pass cards to all drivers of cargo trucks plying various routes and main highways in the region.

Being issued a pass card means the cargo of the truck has been inspected and verified by a police control point, to be submitted to another control point, where the vehicle is to exit within the region.

The move, according to Petrasanta, is in line with efforts to curtail the rising cases of highjacking in Central Luzon, wherein Pampanga has the most recorded number of incidents with 13 cases followed by Bulacan with 10 in 2013.

He said the police regional office has deployed more than 900 personnel to man 130 checkpoints around Central Luzon, which serves as a deterrent to prevent highjacking and other crimes in the region.

As this developed, Senior Supt. Ferdinand Noel Villanueva, officer in charge of the Regional Highway Patrol Unit, said there will be more mobile patrol cars in the campaign against highjacking.

Aside from the owners and operators of truck companies, the summit was also attended by media personalities and different police officers in the region concerned with the anti-carnapping and highjacking .

During the forum, anti-highjacking PNP personnel as well their checkpoint locations and contact numbers were given to the truckers as part of the proactive measure being carried out by the regional office. (PNA)

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Malacanang turns over 257 blocks of rare but expensive tea rose marble to Bulacan

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 26 (PNA)-–The controversy over the rare but expensive tea rose marble might have been finally settled four years after the administration of Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado banned its extraction from the mountains of eastern Bulacan, particularly within the hallowed grounds of Biak-na- Bato national shrine in the boundaries of San Miguel and Dona Remedios Trinidad.

This, after the Office of the President granted the request of Alvarado that some 257 blocks of wire-sawed tea rose marble blocks be turned over to the provincial government.

In a letter from the Legal Affairs Department of the Office of the President signed by Lawyer Michael Aguinaldo, Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs of the Office of the President, Malacanang has given full authority to the provincial government on what to do with the 257 blocks of tea rose marble subject to the terms of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The DENR confiscated the blocks of marbles after the administration of Governor Alvarado ordered the banning of the extraction of the very rare but the most expensive type of marble in the world that can only be found in the mountains of Bulacan.

"When you visit in Las Vegas or even in the luxury hotels in Beijing, China, you would see tea rose marble that can only be found in the mountains of Bulacan. The question is how those expensive marbles reached there? Are those marbles flew over there or illegally extracted in the sacred mountains of Biak na Bato?,''the governor said.

Alvarado banned the extraction of tea rose marble shortly after assuming post in 2010.

Aside from the degradation of the forest and mountain, the illegal mining process has also been desecrating a sacred place in Philippine history, the national shrine of Biak-na-Bato.

It is the site of the Biak-na-Bato Republic which is one of the three republics born in Bulacan during the Philippine revolt against Spanish colonial rule.

The governor said that it will be used for the best interest of the province and people of Bulacan.

The mining of the rare and expensive tea rose marble became controversial because aside from fierce court battle, the pinkish slab of red stone has also been blamed as the cause of many deaths including those of prominent people.

In his daily morning radio program veteran Bulakenyo journalist Dino Balabo on Wednesday said that among the prominent persons that died over the controversial red marble were Rodante Marcial, who was killed by communist rebels; Constantino Pascual, a nephew of Dr. Lourdes Pascual, the owner of Roosmore mining company and later Dr. Lourdes Pascual himself, who were both gunned down.

Balabo said that aside from the violent deaths, fierce court battles, the tea rose marble have also enticed some politicians into embarking into the illegal mining trade before Alvarado made a firm stand in banning it and the illegal extraction of other mineral deposits in the mountains of Eastern Bulacan. (PNA) 

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Pampanga town residents trained to fight calamity hazards

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Feb. 20 (PNA) --–The Save the Children group started Wednesday the conduct of a three-day seminar on family hazard prepared planning and training on global warming which is aimed at preparing residents in the province in reducing the risks brought by hazards and in saving lives during calamities.

The three-day capacity-building on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) seminar are being participated in by the officials and community members of at-risk barangays in Minalin town.

Save the Children gathered 50 chairmen, councilors and community members of Barangays Sta. Rita, Sta. Catalina, San Pedro, and San Francisco I, four identified barangays identified as the most prone to flooding, the main environmental hazard in Minalin town.

Among the topics that were discussed include climate change and global warming; hazards affecting Region 3 (Pampanga, Bulacan, Aurora, Tarlac, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, and Zambales); coping with the impacts of hazards; getting to know the vulnerable population groups in the communities; mitigate and cope with the impact of disaster; and identifying strategic activities to build resilience of families and communities to disasters and climate change.

In the seminar, the four barangays identified as the most flood prone villages in Minalin also trained and formed a group to lead the community in times of emergencies.

“Building the capacity of local officials and community on disaster risk reduction and management is one key element in saving lives because they are the people directly making decisions and implementing the disaster risk reduction and management activities,” Save the Children Philippines Director Ned Olney said.

Olney also said that aside from building the capacity of children through their school-based disaster risk reduction efforts, they also aim at building the capacity of the barangay officials, of every family on how to manage and respond to hazards and emergencies.

"Our precious children are the most vulnerable in any disaster, and the tremendous impact of disasters could leave severe consequences. We don’t want this happen, and this is the core reason why we are building the capacity of our local partners on disaster risk reduction and management,”Olney said.

Save the Children is also continuously providing early recovery assistance to children and families affected by the southwest monsoon enhanced by tropical storm in August 2013.

The three-day capacity building is part of the organization’s early recovery assistance to typhoon-hit communities in Pampanga.

Save the Children also provided assistance to the officials of Milanin town in organizing the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council which has not been organized and activated since after the election last year. (PNA) 

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Nueva Ecija gov suspends classes in all levels on Feb. 21-22 INC event

PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- Governor Aurelio Umali has ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in the province as thousands of delegates and members of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) are expected to arrive for its "Lingap sa Mamamayan," in Barangay Maligaya here on Friday and Saturday.

In issuing Executive Order No. 1, Umali affirmed the recommendation of Nueva Ecija police director Sr. Supt. Crizaldo Nieves to suspend classes in all levels both public and private schools to help efforts in securing traffic and "public safety."

About 4,000 delegates and members of INC from the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan and Aurora "are expected to attend to the activity and will start arriving from all entry points to Nueva Ecija," Umali said.

"Based on experience in similar activities of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the past in other places, huge traffic congestion is expected by reason of the said activity," the governor said.

Nelson Mañebog, INC district minister in Nueva Ecija, said that the Lingap sa Mamamayan, an activity under the "Kabayan ko, Kapatid Ko" program is spearheaded by FYM Foundation Inc., to help people especially victims of calamities and the less fortunate.

"This is to help our fellowmen especially those ravaged by the calamities and the less fortunate by providing them with the free medical and dental services and the basic needs like food and clothing," he said.

He said the main activity will start at 5 a.m. on Saturday. (PNA) 

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Bayanihan Summit launched in Bulacan

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 18 (PNA) -— The young people of this historic province have responded to the call of President Benigno Aquino III on solidifying the "bayanihan" spirit to address the different challenges being faced by the nation, including the effects of climate change.

The youths as well as different organizations in the province joined the launching of the Bayanihan Summit and One Bulacan Movement held at the provincial gymnasium here Monday afternoon.

The Bayanihan Summit is being spearheaded nationwide by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) via the Pilipinas Natin movement and through the Public –Private Partnership which is being supported by various civil society groups and the private sector led by Pilipinas Natin, Gawad Kalinga (GK), Yes Bulacan, One Bulacan Movement and other parties.

Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado thanked Undersecretary Jose Mari Oquinena, head of the PCOO Office for Special Concerns and concurrent director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), for making Bulacan the launching pad of this great undertaking which aims to inspire and instill among the youths the spirit of volunteerism or bayanihan.

Alvarado said the strength of the young generation will be a major factor in spreading the programs and ways on how to cope with the effects of climate change.

“It is a great honor of our province that such kind of undertaking was launched here because this program aims to mold, prepare and unite the youths so that they can face and respond the challenges of the modern times and the ill effects of climate change," the governor said.

Oquinena, for his part, said that the patriotic spirit of the Bulakenyos is an inspiration that will spread to the youths of the country.

He said that through the Bayanihan Summit, the young people of this nation will help build an environmentally stable Philippines.

"We launched in Bulacan the Bayanihan Summit because we saw before in some parts of the province where family, neighbors and friends gather to literally move a house. From this province of the noble heroes, the movement that unite the Filipino youth will grow to jointly face the challenges of the modern times and climate," the PIA director general said.

At the same time, Jun Joson of PCOO and operations chief of the Pilipinas Natin movement disclosed that the Bayanihan Summit will play a big role in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 7 or ‘Environmental protection and conservation’ program.

He also said that the Aquino Administration has issued Executive Order 26 or the National Greening Program of 2011 encouraging various sectors to plant trees to boost the environment conservation program.

Some 200 participants sang and danced after taking their pledge of allegiance to the Bayanihan Summit

Mainstream Bulacan bands like Mojo Rising, composed of guitar artists Moi Aniag, Joel bagay and Julian Cruz, made the event more exciting as the young crowds jammed and danced with their rock and roll strums. (PNA) 

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7 nabbed for hunting wild ducks 
By Magtanggol C. Villar

PANTABANGAN, Nueva Ecija, Feb. 15 (PNA) -- Seven individuals were rounded up Friday by a combined team of town policemen and army personnel for allegedly hunting migrating wild ducks with the use of shotguns at the center island of the Pantabangan dam reservoir here.

Seized from the group of duck hunters were 46 dead wild ducks, and 36 decoy wild ducks.

Taken in for questioning at the town police headquarters were Wilfred Puzon, 62, a resident of Barangay Plainview, Mandaluyong City; Ildefonso Padigos Jr., 50, a resident of Barangay Tabang, Plaridel, Bulacan; Romulo Torres Jr , 60, of No. 28 Legaspi Street, Philam subdivision, Quezon City; Jack Pineda, 21; Urado Del Carmen, 41; Anthony Aglipay, 23; and Anthony Pineda, 14; all residents of Barangay West Poblacion here.

The police also confiscated a a 12-gauge Benili shotgun from Padigos; a 12-gauge Benili shotgun from Puzon; and a 12-gauge Remington shotgun from Torres.

The suspects were unable to present necessary documents or permit or authority from any agencies of the government to undertake such activities, including permits to carry firearms outside residence.

One of the firearms is said to have expired last June 26, 2013.

Charges for violation of Republic Act 9147 otherwise known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and Republic Act 10591 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunition were filed against the suspects. (PNA) 

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Bulacan honors CLRAA champs

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 13 (PNA) -- The provincial government headed by Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado on Thursday honored the young athletes of Bulacan who once again dominated the 2013 edition of the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association (CLRAA) in Zambales last December, where they emerged as the over-all champion.

Alvarado, together with Elizabeth Alonzo, head of the Provincial Youth Sports, Education, Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office, personally congratulated the athletes, coaches and educators who brought pride anew to the province.

The governor also asked for a one minute of silence and offered prayer to young boxer Jonas Joshua Garcia, 16, who died after getting beaten in a boxing match.

He said that instead of being gloomy, the Bulacan athletes was driven to fight well and made the sacrifice of Garcia as their rallying point and inspiration.

Alvarado also recalled a remark of the late Bulakenyo statesman Blas F. Ople who once described Bulakeno fighters as “poetic warriors” because they sing and dance while in the midst of battle.

“In behalf of all Bulakenyos, I would like to congratulate all the athletes, coaches, chaperons and officials on their great performance at the CLRAA meet. We are so proud of your efforts. Each of you embodies the never-give-up spirit of our great race and because of that, you have the admiration and gratitude of the people of Bulacan,” he said.

He encouraged the young champions to be always at their best and pursue their studies too.

“Remember that champions work hard, champions live a good and clean life in order to succeed and champions serve something greater than themselves in life that makes them a whole person,” Alvarado said.

“It is my hope that the lessons learned and skills developed through these sports events will help you prepare and lead your lives with passion and meaning and help each of you to become your very best. Congratulations and I want you to know that this day is precious to all Bulakenyos,” he added. (PNA) 

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Gov’t doctors keep tight watch on condition of conjoined twins born at Bulacan Medical Center

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 10 (PNA) -- Doctors at the Bulacan Medical Center (BMC) here are praying and doing the best they can to save the conjoined twins who were born prematurely Sunday.

Attending physician Dr. Grace Alvaran told Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado that “the twins are weak and we are trying to stabilize their condition before we could transfer them to the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.”

The governor visited the Neo- Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the BMC on early Monday morning to personally check the condition of the baby twins, who are both girls.

Alvaran also told the governor that they have already conducted a series of tests to examine the functions of their vital organs.

“The twins are still weak and have a fifty-fifty chance of surviving but we are praying and doing everything to help them,” Alvaran said, adding that coordination has also been made for the possible transfer of the twin baby girls who were born attached to the chest facing each other.

The twins’ mother, Catherine Lovenario of Barangay Tabing Bakod, Sta. Maria town, and her husband are asking help for their conjoined twins.

Alvarado said that in case the twins will be transferred, they will rent an ambulance with ventilator so that the condition of the twins will not be compromised during travel.

At present, there are five brand new ambulances at the disposal of the government run-hospitals in Bulacan.

Alvaran accompanied the governor at the airconditioned nursery room where the twins are being monitored inside a modern incubator.

She also told the governor that x-ray test has also been conducted but they are still awaiting the results.

She said that the twins must be separated as soon as possible.

The governor, who is constantly working to equip government-run hospitals in the province equipped with modern facilities and provide quality health care, also took the time to check on the improvements being made at the BMC.

He said the NICU of the BMC will undergo an extension to accommodate more pregnant mothers.

“The doctors said the twins are weak, let us pray that their conditions will stabilize so that our doctors can save them. In any case, we would extend help to them and their parents," Alvarado said. (PNA) 

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Strong show of faith engulfs “Bulacan Prayer Rally for Angat Dam Rehabilitation" 
By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 8 (PNA) -— A strong show of faith has fortified the belief of the multitude of people that joined the “Bulacan Prayer Rally for Angat Dam Rehabilitation” at the mini-forest park here Friday afternoon.

A mammoth crowd joined provincial officials led by Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Governor Daniel Fernando and different religious leaders in the biggest prayer rally the province has ever seen where the Muslim community also offered prayers and support for the event aimed at asking divine intervention for the protection of the province and the nation as well.

The prayer rally became more meaningful when two evangelists from different religious sectors took the stage and led the series of prayers and pray-over after provincial chaplain Fr. Gino Herrera officiated the holy mass that kicked-off the “Day of Prayer” in Bulacan.

Fr. Herrera reminded the “faithful” that people nowadays “tend to forget that God made us stewards of life and life is short that is why we should remember to call on Him and help us in our purpose in our every life.”

“We failed to be stewards because we tend to abuse ourselves and many of us forget that we are stewards of nature and it seems that we do not feel that we have responsibilities, " he said.

Herrera said that Bulacan is blessed because of its leaders who are working “under God’s banner” , seeking His guidance, love and protection for the safety and good life of its people.

After the holy mass, Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr, minister of Gospel and senior pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and Ministries, led the prayer asking the Lord to protect the province and the country from natural and man-made calamities.

Abante, who is a former congressman, thanked Governor Sy-Alvarado for spearheading a God-oriented gathering which he said is a best way of forming a strong bond between God and the people.

Renato D. Carillo, spiritual director of Jesus is Our Shield, on the other hand, said that he was set to go to some Southeast Asian countries for prayer rallies but instead landed at the prayer rally at the mini-forest park of the provincial capitol.

"I felt that as if someone is pulling me to here. I am not from Bulacan but I considered this province as my second home because 19 years ago, our Lord told me that He will bless this province. This is it, I can now see God's promise," Carillo said.

He said that every municipality and city in the country should emulate what the Bulakenyos and their leaders are doing.

Carillo also execute a pray-over to the governor and vice governor, asking God to guide them and give them the strength and wisdom they need to lead the people of Bulacan.

He also led the prayer asking God to expedite the immediate repair and rehabilitation of the 45-year old Angat dam that experts claimed is sitting along the West Marikina faultline and could collapse if jolted by a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

Alvarado said that the prayer rally is a continuous undertaking.

"Ever since, there were some disasters that occured but the love of God always prevail.We are not asked to do an ark like during Noah's time. What God is asking us is so simple, that is to be humble, ask for forgiveness and always pray. Thus, we will continuously do this initiative," the governor said.

The prayer rally was also attended by Pastor Kenneth Lagman of “Dakilang Katapatan”, Bishop Danilo Agpoon of Liberty Tabernacle, Bishop Bert Chan of the Four Pillars of Bulacan and local officials from the province’s 21 town towns and three cities.

The affair ended with the singing of “Lord Heal Our Land” led by singer Rino Castro and the Himig ng Bulakenyo. (PNA) 

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Bulacan remembers Blas F. Ople’s birthday

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Feb. 3 (PNA) -- Provincial officials led by Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Governor Daniel Fernando on Monday paid tribute to one of the province's illustrious son, the late statesman Gat Blas F. Ople.

Alvarado, during the commemoration of Ople's 87th birth anniversary at the provincial capitol compound here, emphasized to the young generations of Bulakenos the greatness of Ople, who was born at a simple house in a far-flung barrio in the coastal town of Hagonoy.

“His humble beginnings from a remote town where he was born was never a hindrance for Ka Blas to put his name in the social, political and economic fields not only in his own town, but also in the Southeast Asia and even to the whole world," he said.

The governor said that both in life and in death, Ople's legacy continues to glitter like gold.

He said that the life and times of Ka Blas will always be a shining inspiration to Bulakenyos.

"Ka Blas is a rare jewel of Bulacan that can be considered as one of the great minds of the 21st century," he said.

Alvarado said that while Ka Blas was a simple man, he can be one of those great men mentioned in a classic poem that goes “walking with kings without losing the common touch.”

Veterans from World War II also remembered Ka Blas, who was a guerrilla fighter under the Del Pilar regimen of the Bulacan Military Area.

An octogenarian woman veteran from the Malolos Post even became teary-eyed when singer Rodolfo Arellano sang the patriotic song “Bayan Ko”.

Board member Felix “Toti” Ople thanked the provincial officials and fellow Bulakenyos for remembering his “Tatang”.

From a dock helper, Ople became a journalist, a public relations practitioner, technical adviser, special assistant of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, commissioner of the Social Security System, a cabinet secretary, President of the International Labor Organization, acknowledged father of the Overseas Employment, an assemblyman of the Batsang Pambansa, member of the Constitutional Commission, two-term senator, president pro-tempore of the Senate, Senate President and a high caliber diplomat and statesman.

Ople was born on February 3, 1927 in Hagonoy, Bulacan. (PNA) 

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Malolos mayor‘s bodyguard dies; mayor, 2 others hurt in Pulilan road mishap

PULILAN, Bulacan, Feb. 1 (PNA) — A close-in security detail of Malolos City Mayor Christian D. Natividad died while the city executive and two other companions were injured when the vehicle they were riding in was rammed by a 14-wheeler trailer truck in Barangay Sto. Cristo here Thursday night.

Police identified the fatality as Roderick Santiago, 30, a resident of Barangay Canalate, Malolos City.

Aside from the mayor, the two others injured were identified as Nicanor Reyes, driver, and Maverick Jake Perez, another bodyguard.

The driver of the trailer truck, identified as Roger Garces of Tandang Sora, Quezon City, is now under police custody while appropriate charges are being readied against him for filing in court.

Initial police report reaching Bulacan Police Director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna showed that the Mitsubishi Montero SUV of Mayor Natividad was cruising the road heading towards Plaridel town when it was rammed by the incoming trailer truck from the Plaridel bridge.

Santiago, who was seated at the portion of the car where it was struck hard, died while being treated at the Bulacan Medical Center. He sustained injuries in the neck and body.

The driver of truck told police investigators that the mayor's vehicle suddenly appeared in front of his truck at the intersection near the Plaridel bridge.

The side of the Mitsubishi Montero was crumpled like paper due to the impact.

The city mayor and the other two injured are still being treated at an undisclosed hospital.

Meanwhile, broadcaster Rommel Ramos called the attention of Department of Public Works and Highways District Engineer Ruel Angeles on the said road intersection, saying the place is highly accident-prone. (PNA) 

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Bulacan gov appeals for DPWH's intervention on the construction of new Calumpit bridge

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, Jan. 31 (PNA) -- The ongoing construction of the new Calumpit Bridge along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Gatbuka here has now become like “a bridge over troubled water.”

This, after provincial engineers inspected the ongoing construction and found out that workers have stumbled upon an old heavily fortified concrete structure under the river that they have to bore to lay the foundation of the new bridge.

The everyday delay due to the extra boring that the workers have to do has already taken its toll on motorists and the general public.

Due to the public inconvenience, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado is appealing to Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio L. Singson to intervene to make the construction fast and meet its completion date.

Alvarado said that the new bridge being constructed at the Calumpit river will replace the post-war steel trust bridge which links the province of Bulacan to Pampanga and other parts of Central and Northern Luzon.

The governor said the people of Bulacan are very thankful to President Benigno Aquino III for ordering the immediate replacement of the old bridge and building of a new one after engineers said that the old bridge might collapse.

Alvarado said the construction of the new bridge started on June 18, 2013 and its expected completion is on April 13, this year.

However, reports from reliable sources indicate that the project will not be duly completed on time due to several reasons aside from the seemingly turtle-paced construction on the site.

The governor said that based on a recent inspection of the bridge by government engineers, the project implementer apparently failed to trace the old structure underneath the river.

He said the construction method presently being done at the bridge has resulted in the installation of bored piles which is more difficult to execute.

“This predicament could have been avoided had the construction company conducted soil testing prior to the reconstruction schedule,” Alvarado explained, adding that during World War II the Japanese Army destroyed the bridge to prevent the reinforcement of US and Filipino troops to Bataan.

Aside from this, it was also learned that the contractor’s bid amounting to P166,721,096.98 is 20 percent lower than the approved budget cost of P211,000,000 which could also be the reason the construction firm is having difficulties in shouldering the contingencies such as the cost of drill bit.

The governor also observed that the elevation of the temporary foot bridge along the river unduly endangers the safety of the people and puts their lives in unnecessary jeopardy, especially during rainy season when the water level rapidly rises up.

Alvarado said he is courteously seeking the timely intervention and assistance of Secretary Singson in this pressing matter.

Since the construction of the bridge began, motorists going to Manila or going to Pampanga have been using the San Simon exit of the North Luzon Expressway. (PNA) 

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Bulacan cops steps up campaign against riding-in-tandem criminals

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan, Jan. 24 (PNA)--The top police official in this province on Friday said that it will need a drastic solution to neutralize the activities being perpetrated by the dreaded riding-in-tandem criminals.

“Drastic times need drastic measures,” said Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna during an interview with this reporter on the riding-in-tandem issue at the provincial police headquarters here .

Orduna said that police are making studies and plans to come up with a solution and one of these is to ban backriders on motorcycles.

“It may sound absurd but this is one way that could possibly neutralize the menace of the riding-in-tandem criminals,” Orduna said, adding that there are some proposals being considered to neutralize the riding-in-tandem criminals.

He said that once the back rider is gone, it will be difficult for the motorcycle driver to drive and shoot at the same time.

He said that while increased police presence can deter the commitment of a crime, the riding-in-tandem has evolved in recent years as an effective method for criminals, particularly gun-for-hire gangs and holdup-men as they are now obliged to wear helmets.

“There was a time when crooks have to wear ski masks to cover their faces, but not anymore. Now they can freely hide their face because motorcycle riders are now obliged to wear helmets for their safety, and it is for their own good too, for their protection if there will be accidents” Orduna said.

He also said that while there are instances of riding-in-tandem cases in Bulacan, it has not yet reach an alarming stage.

Orduna also said at the moment, the police are facing the challenge by deploying their own version of the riding-in-tandem style.

He said that the police patrol capabilities of the Bulacan police has been boosted with the arrival last month of some big bikes, which are now being mobilized to augment police mobile cars.

”There are few isolated incidents that were happening but there are more criminals that were also arrested by our police, aside from riding –in-tandems. Our policemen never remiss from their tasks to neutralize criminals even to the point that they were getting hurt or killed,” he added. (PNA) 

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SC chief to grace 115th anniversary of 1st Philippine Republic in Malolos City

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Jan. 22 (PNA) -— Philippine flags are flying proudly along major streets leading to the historic Barasoain Church as the province prepares for the commemoration of the 115th anniversary of the First Philippine Republic on Thursday.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the occasion will be more significant because no less than the country’s top magistrate Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno will grace the event as the guest of honor and speaker.

Alvarado said that this year’s celebration with the theme, “Ang Diwa ng Saligang Batas ng Malolos at ang Kabuluhan nito sa Kasalukuyang Panahon,” will be simple yet meaningful and will focus on how unity and justice which have served as instrument in achieving democracy hundreds of years ago, still remain vital in maintaining freedom and attaining progress.

"Let us all commemorate this important chapter of the history of our country in order to relive in the minds and hearts of every Filipino citizen the significance of freedom and equality. Because without justice, we cannot be considered with total freedom," the governor said.

He said the program will start at 8 a.m. with a flag raising ceremony and wreath-laying activity at the life size statue of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the First Philippine Republic.

The program also aims to present our noble province of Bulacan as a place of our heroes and raise the level of awareness, especially the youth about the colorful and significant events in the history of the Philippines," the provincial chief executive said.

He said that they will also be putting flags and tarpaulins along the roads to inform Filipinos to join the celebration.

The First Philippine Republic, popularly known as the Malolos Republic, was the first republic in Asia.

It was inaugurated on January 23, 1899 at the Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo took his oath of office as President of the Republic.

City Mayor Christian D. Natividad said that various activities have been lined up to make this year’s celebration more meaningful and actively participated by Malolenyos.

“We are again presenting the noble city of Malolos as one of the sacred places not only in the Philippines but also in the whole world because this was where one republic was born. come, join and savor the fruit of heroism and sacrifices of our heroes,” Natividad said. (PNA) 

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116 informal settlers given new homes in Bulacan

PANDI, Bulacan, Jan. 22 (PNA) -- Some 116 informal settlers who are living along the so-called “danger zone” or “home along the riverbanks” in the province were given a fresh start to rebuild their lives through their new homes.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy Alvarado said the new batch of informal settlers formerly living in the high risk areas along the Angat River were relocated Tuesday at the Pandi Heights in Sitio Bitukang Manok in Barangay Cacarong Matanda here.

Earlier, more than 100 families were already transferred to Pandi Heights.

Pandi Mayor Enrico Roque, who is also the president of the League of Municipalities-Bulacan Chapter, presented the keys for the new housing units to the recipients.

The event was witnessed by some local leaders and officials, representatives from the National Housing Authority, non-governmental organizations and other religious groups.

The new settlers were also given groceries that are good enough for one-week consumption.

Alvarado said the project is a joint venture of the provincial government of Bulacan and the National Housing Authority (NHA) with a mission to build decent housing units for more than 3,000 families who are living in places declared as high risk danger zone.

"There should be no informal settlers in this noble province of Bulacan. Charity begins at homes. We will accept relocatees from other areas but priority should be given to our provincemates especially those living along geo-hazard areas," he said.

He said the other towns that will also benefit from the Angat Riverbank Settlements are Baliwag, Norzagaray, San Rafael, Hagonoy, Calumpit, Angat and Paombong.

"The informal settlers in those said areas will also be moved to safer residential houses, the governor added. (PNA) 

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Top 2 Bulacan officials help contain raging grassfire in Malolos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Jan. 18 (PNA) -— The top two provincial officials of Bulacan had to skip a speaking engagement to contain a raging grassfire along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Confradia here that took firefighters more than six hours to contain Friday afternoon.

Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando established a command post in a residential area threatened by the grassfire that also emitted thick smokes that engulfed the village.

Alvarado and Fernando were on their way to the Bulacan Sports Complex in nearby Barangay Sta. Isabel when they encountered the raging grassfire that, according to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), was sparked by either a recklessly thrown lighted cigarette butt or children playing fire in the marshy area swamped by fully-grown reed locally known as “balangot.”

The governor immediately directed Bulacan PDRRMO executive officer Liz Mungcal to scramble firefighters from as far as Baliuag, Calumpit and Balagtas since the fire had already eaten a large part of an open field across the Radio Veritas transmitter station along the MacArthur Highway.

Acting as “ground commanders” and wearing goggles and surgical masks, Alvarado and Fernando, together with village officials, directed firemen and rescue volunteers in containing the wildfire that had nearly engulfed several houses.

“The smoke was so thick that there was zero visibility. Somebody had to lead to contain the fire because residents were already panicking. The swift response of city and village officials, firefighters and even grass cutters was so overwhelming to watch as everyone acted in synchronized motion to contain the raging bush fire,” Alvarado said.

A rare wild bird that looked like a crane was also rescued, Alvarado said.

The PDRRMO said the fire started raging at around 3:30 p.m. Friday and was contained at past 9 p.m.

In order to avoid a repeat of the incident, Alvarado instructed Confradia village chief Celso Asilom and Mabolo village chief Carlos C. Vistan that they should cut the reed grass at least a hundred meters away from residential areas.

He also called on the public not to throw lighted cigarette butts or play fire near grassy areas because the grasses are now drying and highly combustible. (PNA) 

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Alleged carnap gang leader, 5 others fall in Bulacan raid 
By Emil G. Gamos

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan, Jan. 11 (PNA) --Good coordination among different police units led to the arrest of an alleged leader of a notorious carnapping gang during a brief firefight in Bocaue town Thursday night.

Central Luzon police regional director Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta on Saturday said that five other gang members were also arrested during an operation against the dreaded Mark Lester Reyes carnapping group.

The operation also resulted to the recovery of six stolen vehicles, assorted pairs of vehicle plate numbers and tools believed being used in stealing cars.

Police identified the wounded alleged gang leader as Pablito Gumasing Jr alias “Jurie”, believed to be the second in command of the Mark Lester carnapping group.

Gumasing was wounded after he opened fire on lawmen who was chasing him when he got cornered along the MacArthur highway in Bocaue town.

He was brought to a hospital for treatment and is being guarded by policemen.

Petrasanta said Marilao policemen headed by Supt Marcos Rivero augmented a team from the Valenzuela City police station who were chasing Gumasing who was driving a stolen Hyundai Getz car.

He said the pursuing mobile team from the Marilao police station led by Supt. Marcos Rivero radioed other police teams from the Highway Patrol Group and the anti-carnapping unit from the PNP-National Capital Region Police Office.

Police also recovered a plastic sachet of shabu weighing approximately 50 grams from Gumasing’s possession.

Petrsanta said that arrested gang members are also engaged in drug pushing activities as evidence by the seizure of drug paraphernalia, including weighing scales when the combined police teams raided the gang’s hideout on San Miguel Street, Marilao town.

Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel Orduna said that gang members are using high- tech equipment based on the accounts of one of the owners of stolen cars.

He said that the victim told police investigators that his car, a Honda Hunchback, was parked infront of his house in Quezon City when it was stolen.

He said that his car has a removable wheel and equip with sensors and alarm.

He also said that he is still being puzzled why the alarm sensors did not sound.

Orduna said that a special team from the PNP-HPG, the Bulacan Police Provincial Office and the anti-carnapping unit of the PNP-NCRPO are still conducting pursuit operations against the other suspected gang members.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado commended the Bulacan police for neutralizing a criminal syndicate that has managed to establish a short-lived lair in Marilao.

“Lawless elements has no place in this province. Our police units are now better equipped and are highly capable in locating and neutralizing them. The combined efforts of the police units has resulted to a job well done,” the governor added. (PNA) 

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RDC-3 to make “bullet train project” a priority in 2014 
By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Jan. 5 (PNA) --The year of the Wooden Horse is seen to bring great expectation as it is said that this is the year for leaders who want to make a difference and make it happen.

Astrologers and geomancers said that in the Year of the Wooden Horse, there are only two choices—”either you join the race or you get left standing by the rails.”

In the booming area of Central Luzon, local executives who are also holding positions at the Regional Development Council (RDC) are expecting a bright future for the region.

An official of RDC-3 announced on Sunday that their ardent intention is to push for the construction of fast mass rail system that will link the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) to the international airport at the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) in Angeles, Pampanga.

Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said that the RDC will push for either the rehabilitation of the mothballed Northrail mass transport system or the building of the first rapid train system –like the famous “Bullet Train” of Japan—that will ferry goods, cargo and people from Manila to Clark and vice versa via a modern and fast mass transport facility.

He said there were plans to put a new airport in the region and planners are eying the coastal towns of Bulakan and Obando along the Manila Bay but since there is already an existing international airport at the CSEZ, the RDC is proposing to maximize the use of existing facilities at Clark by building the first “bullet train” in the country that will haul cargo and ferry people.

He said the proposed bullet train system, the first of its kind that will be built in the country, will not only further boost the economy of the region, particularly in the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Zambales, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Aurora, but will also change the lifestyle of the people in the central plain of Luzon.

Alvarado said that domestic and international products as well as the public will have the opportunity to reach their destination in a fast mode , thus speeding the progress of economic growth in the region.

He also said that the proposed bullet train project will have a positive and booming effect on business, economy, society, environment and culture in the busting growth corridors in Central Luzon.

The bullet train, he added, will have coaches for economy class, business class and executive class aside from its freight lines.

“The lifestyle of the people in region 3 will be revved up and travel time will be lessen. This project will surely change the landscape and business will definitely boom—in speeding fashion in our region,” the governor said.

Alvarado said that during a RDC meeting in the province last October, Deo Manalo, director of the project development service of the Department of Transportation and Communication, disclosed that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is keen on rehabilitating the mothballed Northrail project and other railways of the Philippine National Railways (PNR), that would also link this historic capital city to Calamba, Laguna.

Alvarado said that if this will push through it should not be only from Manila to Malolos but also to the Clark area to maximize the use of the airport and other existing facilities there.

“The rapid growth in Bulacan and other parts of Central Luzon is now taking place and if the fast mass transit system be revived, it should connect Clark airport to Metro Manila. Lets be realistic, investors are now looking north of Metro Manila, since the Calabarzon area are now full.

"If the mass transport system will be put up, this should be placed in an area which it can be more useful. What we are talking here is the viability of the Clark international airport and the booming businesses in the region,” he said.

Alvarado said the RDC will make a recommendation to President Benigno S. Aquino III to approve the bullet train project that will link Metro Manila to Clark airport a priority undertaking this year. (PNA) 

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Service firearms of Bulacan cops inspected; no cops fired guns during Yuletide celebrations

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan, Jan. 3 (PNA)-- Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Joel S. Orduna on Friday said that no policemen in this province fired their “tape-sealed” service firearms during the Yuletide season.

Orduna, together with other ranking officials of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office, inspected the firearms of provincial policemen during a formation at the provincial headquarters here.

The guns were sealed and signed by Bulacan police officials before New Year’s eve to ensure that no policemen will fire their service firearms.

Orduna was very firm when he told Bulacan policemen that he would not hesitate to throw the books at erring cops who will indiscriminately fire their guns during the New Year celebration.

Following the inspection of the sealed firearms, the Bulacan police director said that he was glad that his men followed the orders of PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.

He, however ,called on witnesses who might shed light on a case of “stray bullet” piercing the house of Arvin Santos, 28, of Barangay San Sebastian, Hagonoy town.

The wayward bullet hit Santos on the head but he was declared “out of danger” by his attending doctors.

Santos told that he was lucky because the bullet grazed only his head as he tried to kiss his wife to greet her "Happy New Year" when the stray bullet fell inside their house.

Orduna said that the Hagonoy police are still looking for the owner of the gun. (PNA) 

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3 persons hit by stray bullet, 209 others hurt due to firecrackers in Central Luzon

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Jan. 2 (PNA) -- At least three persons were hit by stray bullet while the number of injured persons in Central Luzon due to firecrackers rose to 209, police said Thursday.

Those wounded due to stray bullet were identified as Alieya Sto. Domingo, 6, of Barangay Bertese, Quezon, Nueva Ecija; Marvin Santos, 23, a resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan and Mary Joy Macapagal, 16, a resident of San Ilmanio, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija.

Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, Police Regional Office-3 (PRO3) director, said that based on the report they received those injured were from Bulacan, 69; Pampanga, 44; Tarlac, 27; Nueva Ecija, 23; Bataan, 18; Zambales, 14; Angeles City, 12; Olongapo City, 1 and Aurora, 1.

Petrasanta, however, said that there were no policemen reported who have discharged their service firearms during the New Year’s celebration.

Superintendent Raul Aganon, chief of the Regional Public Information Office-3 (RPIO3), said that although the number of firecracker victims in the region is higher by at least 26 percent as compared to last year, those injured suffered only minor injuries.

"Most of the injured were victims of small pyrotechnic items," Aganon said.

He said the PRO-3’s campaign against illegal firecrackers has been effective following the strict monitoring conducted by task force to manufacturers, dealers and users of firecrackers. (PNA) 

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36 persons injured in Bulacan’s New Year celebration - By Emil G. Gamos

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan, Jan. 1 (PNA) --At least 36 persons were injured in the province as big revelers seem to ignore the "Iwas Paputok" campaign of the Department of Health (DOH).

A thick smoke and the stench of cordite filled the air in many parts of the province as revelers lit volume of fireworks as early as 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) reported the 36 victims were brought to different hospitals in Bulacan.

However, the PDRRMO said that there were no fatality and big fire reported.

There was also no report of victims of stray bullets, the PDRRMO said.

PDRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal said that 25 of the victims were holding firecrackers while 11 persons were simply watching or participating in lighting firecrackers.

As of 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, the PDRRMO reported that 16 of the victims, mostly children, were injured by the toy firecracker called “Picolo”; seven were blasted by oversized firecrackers; six were by “kwitis” or skyrockets; four by sparklers, two by the killer firecracker known as “pla-pla; ” and one by five star firecracker.

Mungcal said at least 22 of the victims were treated for burn injuries, three for lacerated wounds, two for avulsion while the others were treated for contusions and abrasion.

Dr. Paul Ruel Camina of the Bulacan Medical Center said that two male victims have lost fingers after getting blasted by an exploding “crying cow,”a type of firecracker that emits obnoxious fumes while mimicking the sound of a crying cow and a “whistle bomb, a smaller version of the firecracker known as “baby dynamite”.

The victims were identified as Allan Balmes, a resident of Banga 1st, Plaridel and Wilfredo Vegas Jr, of Guiguinto town.

Balmes was holding the baby dynamite (whistle bomb) when it exploded, damaging the fingers in both hands and part of his back.

Vegas, on the other hand, was injured when the seemingly harless “crying cow” suddenly exploded while being lighted.

Camina said that finger bones were already protruding when the victims were brought to the BMC.

Despite the big volume of fireworks that were ignited on New Year’s Eve, the number of firecracker victims in the province was still low as compared to 40 victims last year.

The PDRMMO said that the decrease in the number of victims can be attributed by the preparedness and awareness campaign on the proper handling of firecrackers by the provincial Government , the Bulacan police and other concerned agencies.

Mungcal said that a week before Christmas, PDRMMC chairman Gov. Willy M. Sy-Alvarado has already placed emergency teams, firefighters as well as medical teams on a 24 hours alert status, ready to help at any given instance. (PNA) 

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