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Relieved NBI exec uses

Facebook to air his side By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---An official of the National Bureau of Investigation, who has been relieved following allegation he was part of the group that kidnapped and killed a Korean businessman last year, took to Facebook to air his side and explain to his friends why the allegation against him is not true. Lawyer Ricardo Diaz, a native of Calabanga, Camarines Sur and former NBI regional director of Bicol, posted series of status statements since Feb. 1 explaining why he is innocent of the allegation that he is part of the group that kidnapped and killed Korean businessman Jee Ikc Joo while branding his accuser Supt. Rafael Dumlao a liar. With his permission to publish his Facebook statements, Diaz, who started a career as broadcast journalist in this city in the 1980s, said Dumlao “is akin to a drowning man who would grasp at anybody to bring down with him.” “I have to defend myself from lies, falsehoods and malicious concoctions of Supt. Rafael Dumlao despite the agreement between the NBI and PNP (Philippine National Police) to make way for a joint investigation,” he said. Diaz said he did not know Dumlao nor his lawyer-wife serving at the NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division until lately and that he first only saw Dumlao at the start of the Senate hearing in the last week of January. “Funny and pathetic is this Supt. Rafael Dumlao who alleges that he is scared because there are ‘high officials involved in the Jee Ikc Joo kidnapping case which the PNP cannot match’ as parroted by Bato de la Rosa despite the creation of the joint NBI-PNP investigation group who just started its investigation and jumping the gun on them,” he commented. He said Dumlao “who is lying through his teeth is afraid of his own shadow since the evidence points to him as the mastermind.” Diaz said Sta. Isabel pinpointed Dumlao, his boss, as the one who ordered the surveillance and arrest of the victim allegedly for drugs. He said the wife of Sta. Isabel, Jingky, executed a testimony that Dumlao tried to convince her to go with the scenario that they will kill Angeles City policemen making it appear that they are the ones involved and acquit SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel. Diaz said there is also the testimony of Agent Darwin Lising that his friend Supt. Rafael Dumlao kept texting and calling him by phone looking for the missing Jerry Omlang. In a report of the Inquirer.net on Feb. 3, Omlang, one of those tagged in the abduction and killing of South Korean national Jee Ick Joo, said only cops, and not National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents, were involved in the crime. He was tagged as the former errand boy at the NBI. Diaz also cited the extrajudicial confession of Omlang that Dumlao was present before the surveillance operation and was calling Sta. Isabel during the kidnapping and was present at Camp Crame when Jee Ick Joo was brought there and was the one who ordered him to withdraw money from the victim’s ATM (automated teller machine). He said the owner of the Gream Funeral Parlor, where the body of Jee Ikc Joo was brought, also testified that Dumlao called him by phone and arranged for the cadaver to be brought to his funeral parlor. “Then, he would point to the NBI officials too late in the day in his statement that not even under oath and not in affidavit form and complete hearsay which has no evidentiary value in court?” Diaz said he hopes Dumlao can still sleep well after destroying the reputation of innocent people who have “served the NBI with nobility, bravery and integrity.” ”The case of the missing Korean named Jee Ikc Joo was assigned to the NCR (National Capital Region where Diaz was relieved as the NBI regional director) for investigation on Nov. 15, 2016. I assigned it to Team 4 headed by Nestor Gutierrez with the directive to contact the wife and set possible entrapment since we were informed the Korean is still missing and there is a second demand for ransom,” he narrated. He said after the team talked to the wife of the Korean businessman, he was informed that the case was already investigated by the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group and a criminal case was already filed against SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, SPO4 Villegas, and Jerry and several others. “I directed the team to continue looking for the missing Korean. Then I have learned that SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel sought custody at the Bureau thru ARD Roel Bolivar, chief of the Task Force on Illegal Drugs. It was the agents under ARD Bolivar who took custody of him (Sta. Isabel) and not the NCR; as a matter of fact, I did not even try to talk to him,” he further narrated. Relocation of all Bicol regional

offices in Legazpi pressed By Manly M. Ugalde LEGAZPI CITY --- More than 40 years after the presidential proclamation designating a regional center in every region, scores of vacant lots at the sprawling 20-hectare Regional Center here remain unfilled with more than 30 regional offices still in their original locations, which observers said is prejudicial to the transacting public. Still housed in Naga City and Camarines Sur are the regional offices of the Department of Agriculture, National Irrigation Administration and the National Bureau of Investigation while more than 30 other regional offices are contented renting costly private-owned facilities scattered in barangays in Legazpi and nearby Daraga town which inconvenienced clients especially those coming from the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate. Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said funding of respective agencies to build their offices at the regional center remains the reason for the defiance to relocate but that should not be the case after more than 40 years of the presidential proclamation. He wonders why many small agencies such as the National Police Commission and the National Telecommunication Commission have long been relocated to the regional center with their own building facility. “I can’t imagine more than 30 regional offices are still outside the highly developed relocation regional site,” lamented the Albay governor adding that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had long relocated to the site including its Mines and Environmental Bureaus with separate facility, except for its Land Management Bureau that remains settled at its old Albay District office. Then President Marcos issued the proclamation in early 70’s instructing all regional offices to be housed in one location as a one stop shop in every region in aid of the public to facilitate their transactions with the government with Legazpi City declared as the regional center in Bicol. National Bureau of Investigation Regional Director Tomas Enrile said that anytime this month of February they are already bound for relocation from Naga City to Legazpi. Among the regional offices renting office facilities in Legazpi outside the regional center are the Department of Labor, Land Management Bureau, Civil Service Commission, National Economic Development Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippine National Police, Office of the Presidential Peace Process, Philippine Information Agency, Presidential Management Staff, Fiber Development Authority, Department of Agriculture, NBI, National Food Authority, Pag-ibig, GSIS, SSS, Department of Trade and Industry, National Irrigation Administration. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, National Labor Relation Commission, National Census and Statistics Office, Bureau of Treasury, Maritime Industry Authority, Philhealth, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare Administration, National Housing and Regulatory Board, Professional Regulation Commission, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Commission on Human Rights, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. DOH is located in Daraga town while DSWD is at the upper-hill Barangay Buragwis outside the city poblacion. More than a decade ago, rumors flew thick that some regional officials had no intention of relocating to the regional center because of the alleged payback certain officials received from pwners of the private pacilities/buildings they were renting. In 2006, then Albay 3rd district congressman Joey Sarte Salceda announced his proposal to have the regional center transferred to Naga City from Legazpi saying that Legazpi was in constant threat of flooding because of Mt. Mayon. He made the announcement during the commencement exercise of the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City where he was the guest speaker. Salceda’s announcement, however, strongly drew flak from local officials in Albay and his political allies such as then Gov. Fernando Gonzalez and Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal. Gonzalez and Rosal said the pronouncement of Salceda could affect prospective investors in the province that was soon to be home of the Bicol International Airport. Asked if he’s still insisting his earlier proposal to relocate the regional center in Camarines Sur from Legazpi, Rep. Salceda (2nd District) said he made the announcement to say the truth that the regional center is a flooded prone area citing previous major Mayon eruptions that buried roads with lahar along the Arimbay-Padang route towards the first district. Barangay Arimbay is less than a kilometer from the regional Center facing Aquinas University of Legazpi which is 500 meters from the city commercial district. PCSO: No word yet on

controversial betting stations By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) branch office in Albay has yet to receive the order from their central office about a directive from the latter to stop the numbers game operation by Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) that compete with the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) in Albay, a PCSO official here said yesterday (Wednesday). Nelly Loyola, PCSO Albay branch manager in an interview on Wednesday said her office has not yet received a communication from the central office concerning a news published in a national paper stopping the operation of MVGC, a private firm that was only authorized to operate in areas covered by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) in Cagayan province. Loyola said that once she received the order she would refer the directive to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their immediate enforcement. MVGC is rumored to be owned by businessman Charlie Atong Ang. Loyola clarified that the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) is not yet operating in Albay as the PCSO-STL operation is still at the “post approval” stage and firming up its operational requirements. She said STL operation was test run by the PCSO in 2008 in Albay. Loyola, however, explained that “the operation was short lived due to some corporate issues it had to address.” Asked if the MVGC is authorized to operate in Albay, Loyola said she is not aware of any PCSO approved gaming outlet to operate in the province. “Meridien is not in anyway connected with the PCSO,” although she admitted that the PCSO has already approved a franchise of a corporate gaming entity to operate STL in the province, Loyola said. She, however, begged off to name the franchise holder pending the corporate post application approval and the submitted legal requirements are still being processed by the PCSO Central. Meanwhile, Lawyer Gelo Santos, MVGC counsel, in a text message, said it is not true that the firm is presently engaged in illegal number games. While its principal gaming operation of Jai-Alai is actually based in Cagayan, satellite offices located in various provinces are merely betting stations, governed by and under the control of local government concerned, he said. Santos said the license obtained by Meridien enables it to exclusively operate Jai-Alai, its variants and derivatives in the CEZA and Freeport and in support thereof, to set up wagering stations anywhere in the Philippines as may be allowed by law. Santos said the betting stations or off-frontons have secured corresponding Mayor’s permits. The secured permits are good for one year from Oct. 31 2016 to Oct. 31, 2017, he added. Santos said presently the government has already assailed the legitimacy of the business operation of MVGC before the courts of law and the status of the cases remains to be pending. Unless and until the courts have decided the said issue with finality, the gaming operation of MVGC, through the permits and licenses secured from CEZA, remains to be valid and effective, as it carries with it the presumption of regularity. Games and Amusement Board also issued permit to MVGC to operate without prejudice to the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court, Santos pointed out. As this developed, Police Chief Inspector Arthur Gomez, PNP Albay spokesperson, in an interview said their (PNP) hands are tied in arresting bet collectors of the MVGC due to a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) the firm secured pending the resolution of the case in the Supreme Court. Gomez even cited policemen in Camarines Sur who conducted anti-illegal gambling operation are now currently facing charges for not heeding the TRO. 89 killed as ‘Tokhang’ ends By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY----After eight months of the anti-illegal drug campaign “Tokhang”, a total of 89 suspected pushers and users laid dead in police operations and more than 86,000 surrenderers have been documented, according to Bicol’s top police official. Chief Superintendent Melvin Buenafe, Bicol police regional director, announced the “accomplishment” of the police office in the region during the launching of the multi-sectoral group called Bicol Region Against Drug (Brad) in Goa, Camarines Sur last Monday. The anti-illegal drugs campaign by the Duterte administration was terminated after police officials were tagged in the kidnaping of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo who was killed inside Camp Crame in October last year. Buenafe said the organization of Brad indicated that the great majority of the Bicolanos are already fed up with the drug problem and they are openly supporting the campaign against drugs. He said even though the anti-drug campaign has been suspended, the Brad will continue with information dissemination and awareness campaign against illegal drugs and conduct of medical and dental services in the barangays. Buenafe said Brad is comprised by representatives of local government units and schools that support the campaign against illegal drugs. “We want to continue the anti-illegal drug campaign with less violence and more on persuasion with the help of the LGUs and schools,” he said. Buenafe said part of the activities of the Brad is the holding of youth camps where young people who had been into drugs will be given “worthwhile” activities to change their perspective and ways. He added the Brad will also provide series of lecture regarding drug addiction and other information to encouraged the youth to do away with drugs. Urgent Motion for Reconsideration

of the Ceasefire Termination By Soliman M. Santos, Jr. Naga City, 5 February 2017 This Urgent Motion for Reconsideration (UMR) pertains to the mutual terminations of the respective unilateral ceasefires first by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) effective 11 February 2017, on one hand, and followed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This UMR is personally occasioned by haunting visions of coming sad homecomings of fallen rebels and soldiers returning for the ultimong last time to Naga City, and other hometowns in Camarines Sur and the Bicol region. This UMR is addressed to both sides, but mainly the CPP-NPA leadership for initiating the ceasefire termination, with the GRP only reluctantly following suit as it is the side clearly more keen about the ceasefire but of course cannot allow its troops to be just on the defensive receiving end of NPA tactical offensives. In a manner of speaking, the main ground for this UMR is “prematurity” – if we may adopt this term which was the ground used by the Supreme Court in recently dismissing the petitions of PHILCONSA and others relevant to another peace process, that between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The petitions questioning the constitutionality of the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro were deemed “premature” without the implementing Bangsamoro Basic Law. But that is another story. It is in our view premature or too early to terminate the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires of the CPP-NPA and GRP-AFP. First of all, “it does not compute,” so to speak, in relation to the recently concluded “successful” third round of formal peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Rome last January 19 to 25 where the parties achieved on six major issues listed on their January 18 common agenda. In their Joint Statement, the parties noted that their unilateral indefinite ceasefire “remain in place” although “there are issues and concerns related thereto.” And so, the two ceasefire committees (CFCs) were to meet again on February 22-27 to tackle an interim bilateral ceasefire, for which the GRP CFC had already submitted a draft Agreement to the NDFP CFC which “said that it will seriously study the proposal, submit comments and may provide its own updated version of its proposed draft agreement for an interim bilateral ceasefire.” It is such an interim bilateral ceasefire – with clear definitions and parameters – that precisely would address what the CPP-NPA cited as its loaded second reason for terminating its unilateral ceasefire: “The GRP has treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.” As GRP Panel Chairperson Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III said, without clear definitions and parameters, “you won’t know the violations.” Both sides have however submitted to each other documented complaints of ceasefire violations, the NDFP typically submitting more complaints than the GRP. But despite all of those complaints, it is fair to say that the reciprocal unilateral ceasefires have held since last August. At least between the AFP and NPA, there have been no notable armed hostilities and consequent casualties. Ironically, these have happened only since the time of the Rome talks, starting with the January 21 Makilala, North Cotabato clash where one rebel was killed (with the NPA claiming eight soldiers killed) and leading up to encounters after the CPP-NPA declaration terminating the unilateral interim ceasefire and where at least six soldiers were killed. That looks just like a morbid preview that the worst is yet to come. And if it is the AFP that the NPA says has “waged offensive operations,” why are there disproportionately more soldier casualties? (Of course, we know that that does not always follow, as most notably shown in the Mamasapano encounter.) Such encounters that may violate the ceasefire can be sorted out and reduced by a good ceasefire agreement (which is necessarily bilateral) but will also need more trust and confidence-building, or as Art. 19 of the Civil Code provides, “observ[ance] of honesty and good faith.” The CPP-NPA’s framing of the second reason for its ceasefire termination shows the strong residual lack of trust in the GRP by saying that it “has treacherously taken advantage.” It also speaks of GRP “encroach[ment] on the territory of the people’s democratic government…. at least 500 barrios [the present term for this is barangays] within the authority of the revolutionary government.” The NDFP or the CPP-NPA cannot expect the GRP to take sitting down or let pass that assertion of another government in the country. But the experience in the peace process with the MILF shows that there are mutually acceptable ways to get around such assertions without the rebel side necessarily dropping them, as well as ways to build trust between two erstwhile mortal combat enemies of different religions at that. The first reason for the CPP-NPA’s ceasefire termination – that “The GRP has not complied with its obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners” – strikes us not only as premature but also not enough reason to terminate the ceasefire. The matter of amnesty and releases was in fact covered by the Rome Talks Joint Statement with certain specific measures. Notably, both “Parties agreed to continue to study the issuance of an amnesty proclamation consequent to the substantial progress of the peace negotiations” (underscoring supplied). Actually, in the normal course of armed conflicts and under international humanitarian law (IHL), amnesty is granted “at the end of hostilities.” In this concept, the termination of the unilateral interim ceasefire in fact tends to make any grant of amnesty premature, if we may use this word again. The negotiations are not yet at the stage where the fate of the envisioned comprehensive agreements on socio-economic reforms (CASER) and political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR) is clear, one way or the other, and that may take about two years yet, according to remarks by some NDFP personalities. But the Rome talks achieved a breakthrough in the discussion of socio-economic reforms, achieving understanding on its first four items, including the most crucial item of agrarian reform. The initial exchange of drafts and initial discussions on political and constitutional reforms were said to “have advanced ahead of schedule.” So, what gives? If the ceasefire were to be terminated, let it be mainly due to failure to achieve the CASER and CAPCR, and not non-substantive agenda matters like amnesty and releases. Various NDFP personalities have remarked that the release of all political prisoners should not be tied or held hostage (used as “aces” or bargaining chips) to the forging of an interim bilateral ceasefire but it is the NDFP and the CPP-NPA that appear on the other hand to have tied or held hostage a ceasefire (even its unilateral one) to the release of all political prisoners. The latter do represent about 400 lives who seek to regain their lost freedom. On the other hand -- and we are not counter-posing different lives that matter -- how about the thousands who will likely lose no less than their very lives with the resumption of armed hostilities? Is the GRP’s not (yet) complying with its obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners reason enough to terminate the ceasefire with all the morbid consequences of that? As it is, the Rome Talks Joint Statement indicated at least three commitments of the GRP relevant to the release of political prisoners: first, facilitating the release of three remaining NDFP consultants; second, expeditiously processing the release of all the political prisoners listed by the NDFP starting with the 200 qualified prisoners; and third, filing immediately the necessary manifestations in support of the motions for temporary liberty of the NDFP consultants and staff granted bail and released last August. These all need reasonable time to do. Surely, that time has not yet lapsed so soon after the Rome Talks. So again, what gives? But President Duterte for his part should not also prejudge the matter by saying that the rebel demands “are too huge that it is impossible to meet, or even work out a compromise.” Try hard first. The matter of amnesty and releases – and for that matter ceasefire -- can and should be addressed parallel to but separately from the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations. The latter are or should be the main concern of the two Negotiating Panels and the Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs), while there are already the two CFCs to focus on the ceasefire where violations may be also dealt with by the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) -- for which Supplemental Guidelines are among the achievements of the “successful” Rome talks. The JMC or better still some other special lawyer-heavy joint committee can focus on amnesty and releases. Following the framework of the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, amnesty, releases and ceasefire can be treated as “specific measures of goodwill and confidence-building to create a favorable climate for peace negotiations” as distinguished from “the [four-item] substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations.” Goodwill and confidence-building are crucially important for the substantive negotiations to prosper. The premature termination of the unilateral interim ceasefire has already cast a dark pall (or is it a dark spell?) over the peace negotiations. Witness President Duterte’s pessimistic remark that “I guess that peace with the communists cannot be realized during our generation.” The CPP-NPA and a number of personalities associated with it – and strangely, in fact, some AFP spokespersons -- say, as if to console us, that “it is possible to negotiate while fighting.” But the mode of “talking while fighting” has been tried for decades without much progress beyond the first substantive agenda item on human rights and IHL (with the CARHRIHL) often because substantive talks are sidetracked by certain hostile acts, notably by arrests of NDFP-claimed consultants, on the ground. It will be the same old dynamic again where the revival of the JMC will only reprise a deluge of complaints for violations of human rights and the subsequent investigations that partake of a propaganda war that matches the intensity of the fighting on the ground. We might as well throw goodwill and confidence-building out of the window. This is in stark contrast to the trust between the MILF and then President Aquino which was acknowledged to be the key factor that carried to completion the substantive negotiations on that Moro front. The CPP-NPA says that “We oppose the use of interim ceasefires as basis for a protracted or indefinite ceasefire without substantial benefit for the people and their revolutionary forces and for laying aside peace negotiations on substantive issues such as social, economic, political reforms. Such is tantamount to the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary people and forces.” Again, it is too early to pronounce that this has come to pass. The Rome Talks Joint Statement certainly does not lay aside, but on the contrary advances peace negotiations on substantive issues such as social, economic, political reforms. Surely, substantial benefit for the people in terms of those reforms will take some more time, at least to make a definitive pronouncement either way. NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili himself was cited in the media in the build-up (or build-down?) to the Rome Talks as saying that a peace pact was unlikely before 2019. NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison for his part envisioned a CASER and CAPCR approved within the first two years of the Duterte government so that these agreements can be implemented for at least two years before the end of his term. This for Sison would “lay the full basis” of the last substantive agenda item agreement on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces (CAEHDF) “as early as 2020-21.” All these also in the context of a CPP policy of alliance and struggle with the Duterte regime. So, finally, what gives? Given how the CPP-NPA Declaration terminating the unilateral interim ceasefire does not seem to square with the “successful” Rome Talks and the remarks of certain NDFP Panel personalities, perhaps the answer can be gleaned from a media report of Agcaoili saying that the decision to continue the unilateral ceasefire did not rest with the NDFP Panel alone but with the leadership of the revolutionary movement, a.k.a. the CPP Central Committee and the NPA National Operations Command, whose spokesperson at least in the person of Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos who announced the Declaration is based in Mindanao, also the President’s home region where he admittedly had good relations with them. Only last December 26, on the 48th anniversary of the CPP, its Central Committee stated among others that “The Party must further strengthen its leadership of the people’s war by firmly directing the New People’s Army in waging revolutionary armed struggle…. The Party continues to support the peace talks and other means for possible agreement with the Duterte government on cooperation to realize basic patriotic and social reforms…. The unilateral ceasefire of the CPP and NPA has become increasingly untenable…. Thus, the termination of the CPP’s unilateral ceasefire declaration becomes inevitable…. Nonetheless, the Party and the NDFP remain open to forging a bilateral ceasefire that would take effect simultaneously with the release of all political prisoners…. The revolutionary forces estimate that negotiations on socio-economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms can be completed in one or two years. This will give the Duterte government and the NDFP at least four more years to implement the agreements and help improve the situation of the people.” While alliance and struggle can indeed go together, it is hard to imagine the viability of armed struggle against one’s ally. It appears that, for the CPP-NPA leadership especially in-country, a protracted or indefinite ceasefire of even just five to six months is untenable for the primacy of waging the revolutionary armed struggle of the protracted people’s war (PPW). For this strategy, a return to arms must be called even at the risk of jeopardizing the peace negotiations and its envisioned reforms, even at the additional costs in terms of more thousands of lives lost (and they will no longer be around to benefit from the substantial reforms in case the negotiations succeed after all), AND even if Sison himself as well as especially the MILF experience has pointed out or shown that ceasefires do not necessarily blunt armed capacity and readiness in case it is needed. Apparently, there is still no CPP-NPA paradigm shift about armed struggle and people’s war – in a subjective sense, as distinguished from an objective sense, this might be said to also be among “the roots of the armed conflict.” It is of course understandable for the CPP-NPA to keep reaffirming its long-time PPW strategy which is responsible for its revolutionary gains and degree of its politico-military strength. Short of a paradigm shift, surely two years or so of giving ceasefire a chance to accompany substantive peace talks is a manageable revolutionary calculated risk compared to possible political, military and human losses due to a premature return to arms. Please reconsider urgently and well your terminating the unilateral interim ceasefire. Dios mabalos. -- ______________________ SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR. is presently a Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City, Camarines Sur. He is a long-time human rights and IHL lawyer; legislative consultant and legal scholar; peace advocate, researcher and writer, whose initial engagement with the peace process was with the first GRP-NDFP nationwide ceasefire in 1986, particularly in his home region of Bicol, a long-time rural hotbed of the communist-led insurgency. He is the author of a number of books on Philippine peace processes, including his latest How do you solve a problem like the GPH-NDFP peace process? (Siem Reap, Cambodia: The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, 2016). HR group sees rise in rights violation

with gov’t-Reds peace talks cancelled By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---A human rights group associated with the Left is anticipating the rise of rights violations after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines following the killing of unarmed soldiers in Mindanao last week. Nida Barcenas, secretary-general of Karapatan-Bicol, anticipates busy days ahead of them documenting and conducting fact finding missions should the fighting between the government security forces and the New People’s Army escalates. Barcenas said that at present there are 37 political detainees all over the region who were detained because they are suspected supporters or members of the communist rebel movement or the NPA. She said the 34 political detainees are charged in court with criminal offenses that range from illegal possession of firearms to murder. Barcenas said that President Duterte did not fulfill his promise to release all political detainees even those who are sickly and elderly. Mr. Duterte, who initially promised to release all political detainees before the start of the peace talks last year, said recently he cannot release some 400 political detainees because the military and the police are against it. Upon the announcement of the NPA last week to terminate the unilateral ceasefire on the grounds that the military has been violating its own unilateral ceasefire, the President immediately terminated the government-declared unilateral ceasefire and then canceled later the on-going peace talks with the NDFP. Mr. Duterte branded the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA and the NDFP as terrorist groups. Barcenas said the military has continuously violated the ceasefire in Bicol citing instances in the towns of Ragay and Del Gallego in Camarines Sur province and the province of Masbate that she said Karapatan has documented through fact-finding missions. She said in the towns of Dimasalang and Cawayan in Masbate violations of the human rights by the military against local folks were intense. “The villagers experienced interrogation by the military which made them flee their homes and camp out at the municipal halls for one week,” Barcenas. She said the fact-finding mission in Masbate was witnessed by NDFP consultant Renante Gamara who attended the first and second round of peace talks. Barcenas said they held a dialogue with the administrators of Dimasalang and Cawayan before the villagers returned to their homes. “The villagers have become victims of civil-military operations,” she said. Barcenas said one civilian victim of civil-military operation was Ramon Arjente, who was allowed to post bail on Dec. 15, 2016 because of his illness. She said another one is Jose Andaya who was arrested for multiple murder that happened in 2013 when he was 69 years old. Barcenas said it was impossible for Andaya to participate in the multiple murder the military was accusing him of because he was already sickly since 2006 after he suffered stroke that keep him confined in their house in Ragay. She said Andaya was detained in April 2015 in Tinangis Provincial Jail and the year after in May 2016 he died in jail. Barcenas said that even the participants from Catanduanes in the rally to support President Duterte were harassed by the military when they went back to their villages. She said the human rights violations can rise after President Duterte cancelled the peace talks and tagged the NDFP-CPP-NPA terrorist groups. 2 soldiers wounded in clash;

first in Bicol since end of peace talks By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- Two soldiers were wounded in a firefight between New People’s Army rebels and government troopers in Casiguran, Sorsogon at dawn Monday (Feb. 5), the first encounter to be reported between the two combatants since President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Gil Perez, spokesman of the South Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the wounded soldiers, identified as Cpl. Jerome T. Tu and Pfc. Mart Maximo M. Odsinada of the 31st Infantry Battalion, were on patrol at about 6:30 a.m. Monday in Sitio Kabungahan, Barangay Trece Martires, Casiguran town when they chanced upon a band of 15 NPA guerillas. He said it was the first firefight in Bicol after the CPP terminated its unilateral ceasefire with the government a few days ago. Perez said the firefight lasted for more than 10 minutes before the rebels fled towards the remote villages in Casiguran town. The wounded soldiers were brought to Sorsogon Doctors Hospital for medical treatment. President Duterte terminated the government’s ceasefire with the CPP-NPA on February 3 after the NPA announced its own lifting of its unilateral ceasefire with the government on Feb. 1. According to the CPP-NPA the President failed to release all political prisoners and pull out government troops in communities in the countryside. Lt. Gen. Ferdinand F Quidilla, Solcom commander, in a statement said Sorsogon and Masbate in the Bicol region and Quezon province in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region are the priority areas of the military. During the first Bicol Regional Peace and Order Council meeting, which was presided over by Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi early in January 2017, Maj. Gen. Manolito Orense, commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, stressed that insurgency has remained a potent threat to national and local security. He stated that “many government officials are sleeping or supporting the NPA” even as he pointed out that local government units have a big responsibility to address insurgency. Orense said there are about 217 NPA combatants in Bicol where some 312 barangays are affected by insurgency. “The provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Masbate posted the highest number of atrocities committed by the rebels in 2016,” he added, citing a military report. Quidilla, on the other hand, said AFP troops will continue to conduct tactical operations within the bounds of its rules of engagement and will respect human rights and the rule of law at all times. He assured the people in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions that the military will continue to heed the clamor for peaceful means to resolve the over 40 years of conflict with the CPP-NPA. Quidilla said the AFP will continue to implement the government’s development programs as well as the campaign to support the law enforcement operations of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and PNP. CANAMAN VS CAMALIGAN ON TRIKES Injunction hearing deferred By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- The hearing on the application of preliminary injunction between the municipalities of Canaman and Camaligan in the province of Camarines Sur as plaintiff and defendant, respectively, has been deferred indefinitely because of an emerging compromise settlement that, however, still has to be finalized and put into effect, according to Regional Trial Court Branch 61 Judge Soliman Santos Jr. It should be recalled that last January 17, as reported in this paper, Judge Santos, with the issuance of a temporary restraining order has ordered the authorities of Camaligan to stop apprehending tricycle drivers of nearby Canaman town who pass by the road in the former town while going to their true destination. The deferment of the hearing, according to Judge Santos, was also occasioned by the TRO Extension and/or Quo Agreement submitted by parties and their counsels to the case, which the court accordingly approved. Judge Santos furthered that as reflected in the aforementioned agreement and as discussed and agreed in principle during the scheduled hearing last Feb. 2, the court-preferred compromise settlement of the case envisions and depends on the two defendant municipalities executing and putting into effect a memorandum of agreement (MOA) governing the plying of tricycles by members of the SIMSDTODA of Dugcal Road, Camaligan connecting Barangays Sua and Del Rosario in Canaman. He stressed that the emerging key terms of the settlement which nevertheless be subject to the local government processes of the two defendant municipalities is for the SIMSDTODA drivers to be allowed to pass through and unload passengers on Dugcal Road but not to pick up passengers unless for an emergency situation. As suggested by Provincial Prosecutor Richard Cu, the two defendant municipalities’ representatives, namely Mayor Henry Ragodon of Canaman and Councilor Jonathan Azutillo of Camaligan as in behalf of Camaligan Mayor Marilou Hiroshi, were directed to take the matter back to their respective Sanggunian (municipal council) to get the sense of the local government unit regarding the envisioned MOA and to report them back to court within two weeks from issuance of the deferment order. If however the two defendant municipalities’ representatives report back with a negative response to the proposed MOA, the case will be referred back to the hearing on the application for preliminary injunction, as well as on the main case for a permanent injunction, Judge Santos warned. According to records of the case, members of the Camaligan Deputized Traffic Enforcers (Cadete) conducted series of apprehensions of tricycle drivers with franchises approved by the Municipality of Canaman while they pass by Dugcal Road from Barangay Sua to Barangay Del Rosario, the latter belonging to Canaman town. There is no other road that connects Sua to Del Rosario but Dugcal Road which is located within Camaligan town. It was argued that no local government can prohibit the passage of any vehicle, public or private, along a national road,referring to Dugcal Road. TYPHOON NINA REHAB Bicol DA releases initial P72M By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Releasing early last week some P72M worth of palay, corn and assorted vegetable seeds, seedlings of various fruit trees, and “drugs and biologics” for animals, the Department of Agriculture starts its rehabilitation efforts of the more than P5B worth of agricultural losses left by Typhoon Nina late last year. DA Director Elena B. de los Santos said the initial rehabilitation assistance to affected farmers was drawn from the calamity fund savings of the regional office of the DA here which the Department of Budget and Management has released only recently. De los Santos said additional assistance to the affected farmers and fisherfolks are still to come upon release of the P500M rehabilitation assistance fund committed by President Rodrigo Duterte when he came over to Catanduanes and Camarines Sur on Dec. 28 last year, three days after Typhoon Nina pounded the three Bicol provinces, including Albay province. She said the agricultural items intended for the rehabilitation of the agriculture industry in Bicol had been turned over to local government units of the three hard-hit provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes on Monday (Jan. 30). De los Santos said Camarines Sur received 5,000 bags of certified palay seeds; 4,226 packs or 20 kg of hybrid palay seeds; 19,770 packets of assorted vegetable seeds; 250 kg of mungbean seeds; 1,500 bags of hybrid yellow and white corn seeds; 1,085 assorted grafted seedlings of pili, cacao and lemon; and 13,942 doses of drugs and biologics for animals. Albay province, she said, got 5,000 bags of certified palay seeds; 12,500 packs of assorted vegetable seeds; 1,000 bags of hybrid yellow and white corn seeds; 10,600 grafted cacao and pili seedlings; and 2,500 pieces of assorted garden tools. De los Santos said the DA has also delivered to Catanduanes 3,000 bags of certified palay seeds; 12,500 packs of assorted vegetable seeds; and 17 bottles and boxes of various drugs and biologics for the treatment of animals affected by the typhoon. She said additional rehabilitation assistance of 10,000 bags of certified palay seeds will be released this week to Camarines Sur where 75 percent of the agriculture losses were incurred while Albay province will get additional assistance of 435 bags of hybrid palay seeds. In Catanduanes where abaca plantations in the island-province incurred heavy damages when Typhoon Nina made landfall on Christmas Day, De los Santos said the proposal for its rehabilitation has been submitted to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. She said proposed abaca rehabilitation project will be funded by the Philippine Rural Development with the Philippine Fiber Development Authority to implement it. FOR INSURGENCY - AFFECTED BICOL TOWNS DILG allots P691M for PAMANA projects By Samuel M. Toledo LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has allocated P691.63M for projects in pre-identified conflict-affected areas (CAA) across the Bicol region where various construction works were completed in 2015 and 2016 under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program. Engineer Renato Bolon, head of the special projects being implemented by DILG-Project Development and Management Unit in Bicol, said the infrastructures, which were built in places in the countryside described as insurgency-affected, ranged from road networks to water system facilities. PAMANA is the national government’s flagship program aimed at strengthening peace-building, reconstruction and development in CAAs in the country’s so-called “priority regions.” Of the 54 PAMANA projects, 23 are in Camarines Norte, 14 in Masbate, seven each in Sorsogon and Camarines Sur, and three in Albay. The towns in Camarines Sur, which have PAMANA-funded construction work projects, are Baao, Bato, Bula, Del Gallego and Garchitorena. “These are either road networks, bridges or water supply systems,” he said. Bolon said the PAMAMA-funded projects in Camarines Norte, located in the towns of Basud, Capalonga, Labo and Sta. Elena, are either road sections, bridges or water supply facilities. He said in Masbate, road sections or water system projects were built in the remote villages of Cawayan, Milagros, Mobo, Monreal, Palanas, San Pascual and Uson. In Sorsogon, road sections, bridges or water supply facilities were constructed in CAAs of Barcelona, Casiguran, Gubat, Juban, Magallanes and Prieto Diaz. “Guinobatan is the only town in Albay with Pamana-funded road sections,” said Bolon. He disclosed that only Catanduanes has no pre-identified insurgency-affected village. Six memos to Bikol writers By Marne L. Kilates Conclusion from last week Therefore make lexicographers of yourselves, writers. Make it a parallel career or a major project. Or organize a collective. Get representatives from all the major users, geographically, the livelihoods, the professions, and all the power domains. Use all the extant dictionaries as reference and starting points to create the modern Bikol orthography. I will not prescribe how to do it, or pretend to know what specific elements it should contain, but use all the references possible, local, national, and from abroad. Orthography is not a new thing. But it is a legitimate branch of language studies. And a practical necessity for a growing and modernizing language. Orthography is the first step in codifying a language. Why do you need it? For three reasons mainly: standardization, modernization, progress. Standardization is not only for uniformity’s sake. It is for the ‘recognizability’ of words and for the differentiation between shades of meaning especially if two words sound the same. Or, if one word is used for two or several meanings. Before I give examples, I would like to shift to the third but parallel task for Bikol writers at this stage of the Bikol literary renaissance. Modernization and progress would be the objectives of the third parallel task which is to 3) Unify the Bikol Lexicon. As writers and main users of the language, you are in the pivotal position to write dictionaries. The linguists or linguistic scientists would like to arrogate to themselves the task of writing dictionaries but I would insist they not do it without the involvement of the primary users of the language, the writers. Now for the examples—which I remember mentioning similar examples in my similar role as speaker for an earlier group of Bikol writers in the past. That seems like a lifetime ago. Unification of lexicon would mean the stock vocabularies of the two groups of users of what we refer to as the Bikol language—Legazpeño and Nagueño. Even before that maybe you writers and other users of the language should decide what to officially call these two components of language based on the geographical capitals of the region. —Eño is, of course, a Spanish formation or suffix. Would you like a more “native” manner? That should be one of the more basic things to consider. Again to the examples. I remember I gave two pairs years ago, but right now I can recall only one pair: pandok and lalaogon. In the unification of lexicons this represents what we can do with existing words as a means of enriching the language. Why not use pandok to refer to the physical and visible face, and lalaogon for a “deeper” or more meaningful term to describe the face as a manifestation of the soul, which is, in fact, what it is. Thus we can say, for example, that dai ko masabutan ang pandok niya for an impenetrable facial expression, and sarong mahamis na gigidom an bumisita sa saiyang lalaogon. Isn’t that, perhaps, a richer Bikol we are speaking and writing? The way I observe in many written examples is the use of saldang and aldaw, with the former referring to the heavenly body (the sun) and the latter to the day or time period. That to me is a practical way of assigning denotations and not having to constantly distinguish between the name of the heavenly body and the name of the day if we have only one term, aldaw. And that is one way of growing the language. I am sure there are still many examples for unifying the Bikol lexicon and this is also another way we can import words from other Bikol languages or dialects to continually enrich and make practical and usable what we call the Bikol language. And borrowing is of course one of the main means of language building, but borrowing from related languages is always better than borrowing from foreign ones for quicker absorption into the mainstream and readier understandability by users. In Filipino, the classic examples are kalayaan and katarungan. You probably know the story about how Rizal got wind of at the time a neologism from Marcelo H. del Pilar, the word kalayaan. Rizal wrote his brother Paciano, while he was in Germany and translating Schiller’s play, William Tell, that he had no Tagalog word for the German freiheit (freedom) and could only think of the Spanish word libertad. But Rizal remembered Del Pilar’s Tagalog translation of one his essays where he first encounters kalayaan. The root word is extant, laya, which is related to layas and has to do with wildness. But when you reassemble the word with the prefix and suffix, kalayaan seemed just right for Rizal to translate the rather abstract German ideal of freiheit. Layas, which is familiar to us Bikols, is related to the Visayan word ilahas which is the relatively new Filipino word for wild as in wild animals, to distinguish it from the usual term mailap (elusive literally) which can apply to both humans and animals. The other early modern example I cited because it has become so familiar is katarungan, which did not exist before Lope K. Santos’ Balarila. We know the root tadong or tarong, which both mean straight and uprightness in Bisaya. Again, with the Tagalog affixes at the beginning and end of the root it performs a very formal purpose of denoting justice so we do not have to borrow the Spanish justicia. As recent as ilahas is the Ilocano rabaw and the Bikol lawas. Rabaw and lawas have been adopted into Filipino to technically denote the physical surface and body instead of just saying ibabaw and katawan. Note how easier it is to use them to designate the material surface (ang kahoy na rabaw ng mesa) and geographic bodies of water (ang malaking lawas ng tubig tulad ng Dagat Pacifico). The precision is very useful instead of incurring unintended humor as in saying ang katawan ng tubig. Our languages (Tagalog, Bikol, Bisaya) all belong to the bigger Austronesian language family of the vast Pacific area. From the examples above the wisdom of borrowing from native Filipino languages instead of from English or Spanish, with the former being of the Anglo-Saxon Germanic family and the latter a Romance language, an offshoot of Latin. It is said that an Ilocano or Kapampangan can live for one week in Naga City and learn at least conversational Bikol, but a child must make a triple or quadruple leap from his his native Bisaya or Bikol when being taught English. (Of course the proliferation of English in media lessens the difficulty, but so it does for Filipino which has become the archipelago’s incontrovertible lingua franca.) This internal borrowing must happen if we must strengthen Bikol as as literary and technical language for our region. Again, there is none more practical and empowered than writers, you and me, who can accomplish this. You might want to organize a Bikol academy for the propagation of the Bikol language, and send out researchers on Bikol terms for livelihoods, industries, and commerce, but the lead and vanguard is still the writers. 4) The fourth task is to translate, translate, translate. Perhaps one of the proofs of the maturity of a language is its ability to translate the best from any other language. The Bikol we are working on must translate between and among the other Bikol languages, must translate into or from Filipino, the national language, and into foreign languages like English or any of your preference. That is the only way you can converse with our archipelagic nation and with the world. So become translators as well, Bikol writers. Make it another parallel career. Translation has always been denigrated as a second-class citizen of sorts in literature, a parasite of the original work, an imperfect art that is always in progress. Some of great writers had their share of bad words for it. Rumi said that “Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.” Or as the poet Yevegeny Yevtushenko, who is not always politically correct, said: “Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.” Praise is given grudgingly. “Translation is the art of failure,” the semiotician Umberto Eco said. There is the classic Italian adage, “Traduttore, traditore.” Translator, traitor—for betraying to us the meaning of a language we do not know or do not speak. On the other hand, the literary philosopher Walter Benjamin called it the “afterlife” or resurrection of the original work, its recreation in a new language, not necessarily the translating or target language but a greater or ideal language which I suspect used the universal grammar imagined by Noam Chomsky. Perhaps one of the most sober descriptions comes from the leading theorist of translation today. Lawrence Venuti says, “To read a translation as a translation, as a work in its own right, we need a more practical sense of what a translator does. I would describe it as an attempt to compensate for an irreparable loss by controlling an exorbitant gain.” Well, he only means we gain more than we lose in translation. We gain understanding, we engage in the conversation between languages, we close the gulf between cultures. Imagine if there was no translation, would we know Sophocles or Aeschylus or Virgil or Dante? Would we enjoy the exquisite quatrains of Omar Khayyám’s Rubaiyat if there were no Edward FitzGerald? 5) Rethink role of language—and Bikol—in the dichotomy between science and the humanities. If we knew that Khayyám was in fact a mathematician and an astronomer while being a poet we might have to rethink the role of language in the painful divorce between science and the humanities. We must start start looking into how the Bikol language itself is or might be used in teaching or studying the sciences, technology, economics, engineering, mathematics, and all the so-called technical fields—the STEM in the curriculum—or how it can open more windows through the use of the “local imagination,” i.e., the Bikol language, in elaborating technical and scientific theories and subjects. If you must know, there several pioneers and practitioners of teaching the sciences in Filipino in Manila. One of them, wrote dictionary of economic terms in Filipino, and continues to teach the subject in a university, became KWF’s Dangal ng Wika awardee. Another, a young man, teaches math in Filipino and does so in the most sophisticated style you can imagine, with fantastic effects on students. A group of medical practitioners are compiling a dictionary of medical and surgical terms in Filipino, while a leading engineer and OFW is writing a similar dictionary for engineering and holds conferences on the use of Filipino in their profession. That is only glimpse of what is happening to the national language. Something similar must happen to Bikol if it must fulfill its responsibility in this part of the archipelago. Every language must test itself against the realities of a changing world and face the challenge not just of conveying new ideas and the intricacies of science and technology but the possibilities and risk of the loss of humanity in, for example, the complexity of astrophysics where human consciousness is nowhere considered in interplanetary travel; or closer to home, in the continuing atomization and fragmentation in global capitalism. We live in the cusp of this domination of science and math and technology in human affairs. Language, perhaps the highest manifestation of humanity in the world of the technical and abstract, must bring back that humanity, must restore the place of human consciousness now missing in the mechanistic universe and reduced mainly to being a ghost in the machine. Obviously, the last task I can see for writers is 6) To open once more the links or synaptic channels between the interior and exterior life of the people. This, for me, is the basic function of language. It is not just self-expression, nor communication, but everything brought together to enflesh the soul of a people. And in that incarnation the interior and the exterior come together, the repository of social and historical experience, of values and aspirations, becomes the self-aware and self-respecting created and creative image of the individual and society. Thus the Bikol writer shapes himself through his language. Unlike Umberto Eco’s speech-challenged character but who became a hero nevertheless, Baudolino, for whom time was an “eternity of stammers,” the Bikol writer will be an articulate voice describing and inscribing the wholeness, the memory and future of the Bikol soul. (With apologies to Italo Calvino) 8,000 athletes compete

in Palarong Bicol 2017 By Connie B. Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- Almost 8,000 athletes from various public elementary and high schools who represent 13 school divisions from the six provinces and seven cities of the Bicol region are competing in the ongoing competitions in 22 events of Palarong Bicol 2017. The games are being held in various venues in this until the final day on February 10. During the opening ceremonies last Sunday, February 5, contingents from school divisions in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Sorsogon and Catanduanes and the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco, Iriga, Naga, Ligao, Masbate and Sorsogon formed a rainbow of colors that carpeted the Albay Sports Complex at the Bicol University (BU) compound here, which was also the site of last year’s Palarong Pambansa. According to Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal and officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol, there are 7,800 athletes, coaches and school representatives who arrived in this city for this year’s regional games. “There are around 12,000 visitors if you include the families of the visiting athletes,” said Rosal. Albay sent the most number of delegates while Catanduanes had the least number of delegates. They are competing for top spots in basketball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, badminton, athletics, archery, chess, billiards, football/soccer, arnis, sepak takraw, swimming, volleyball, boxing, taekwondo, futsal, wrestling and wushu. Noriel Rodejo, tournament manager for table tennis/secondary schools and a participant in the past regional and national Palaro games since 1991, said wrestling and wushu used to be demonstration sports but are now included as “regular sports events” affective this year’s games. During the kick-off ceremonies rites on Sunday, the 12,000 delegates to Palarong Bicol 2017 were given warm welcome at the BU grounds here with majestic Mayon Volcano as inviting backdrop. At the oval grounds, the young athletes and sports officials, in their respective colors and uniforms beamed as the afternoon sun glowed. A Holy Mass at St. Gregory Cathedral in Albay district and a parade that started from Penaranda Park to the university compound, preceded the opening ceremonies that started at 3 p.m. The host city paraded mascots representing the famous heroes of the Ibalong epic--Bantong, Handyong and Baltog while the drum and lyre groups of various schools in Legazpi City and the Philippine National Police-Bicol band struck jubilant rhythms as the banner of the Palarong Bicol was unfurled in the air. Mayor John Bongat of defending champion Naga City and Palarong Bicol 2016 host, turned over the Palarong Bicol banner to host Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, who was in a red, white and blue outfit that defined Legazpi City’s official delegation color. Rosal urged fellow local officials to invest in their athletes who may someday become Olympic gold medalists. He said it will be a fun week for the city, which will be sharing some facilities like the BU Oval, that were used during last year’s Palarong Pambansa. “We want to share them with our fellow Bicolanos, especially our young athletes, so they can experience national standard facilities,” he said. DepEd Assistant Regional Director Tolentino Aquino and Engineer Ronald Asis hoisted the Palarong Bicol banner while the Legazpi City flag was unfurled by members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Legazpi. Philippine Asian female powerlifting champion and Legazpi City born Ma. Betina Bordeos did the honor of carrying the Palarong Bicol Torch 2017, and lighting of the friendship urn, which were followed by the release of friendship doves. DepEd-Bicol Director Ramon Fiel Abcede declared the formal opening of the Palarong Bicol 2017 that was followed by a unity dance and fireworks display. Helping him welcome the various contingents were School Division Superintendent for Legazpi City Cecille Bernadette P. Rivera, Bicol University President Arnulfo M. Mascarinas, Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda, and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara. IN CLARK, PAMPANGA Naga joins int’l hot air ballon fiesta

with ‘Grow Negosyo’ enterpreneurs By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Mayor John G. Bongat is sending to Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga a group of 12 micro and small entrepreneurs from the GrOW Negosyo program for them to be able to benefit from various business opportunities as the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia began to reel off there today, February 9, this year. Regarded as the country’s highly anticipated aviation event, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival, now on its 21st year, continues to be an effective tool for entrepreneurs in the production, retail and service industries to promote and sell their products. In a letter sent to Bongat, the organizers of the event said that with the holding of the event “spectators can once again enjoy ‘a weekend of everything that flies’ like hot air balloons, airplanes, helicopters, ultralights, skydivers, paragliders, kites and other surprise performances.” Johanna Tan, an events marketing specialist, said that such activities are being undertaken to make the skies alive for everyone to enjoy aside from those being held on the grounds which include the exhibits organized by the aviation schools such as fly markets airplane displays and a mouth-watering food court highlighted by Kapampangan cuisine. “The event is a gathering of aviators and spectators from around the world for 4 days of non-stop flying action. From hot air balloons to aerobatic exhibitions, formation flying to radio-controlled aircraft, paragliding, skydiving, and dozens of on-ground activities, visitors are always guaranteed to have unforgettable weekend,” says Tan. Ederlina Buendia of LGU-Naga’s Metro Public Employment Service Office said the event and its extraordinary number of foot traffic that will last for 4 days would surely help to expand the market reach of the GrOW Negosyo micro and small entrepreneurs who are being assisted by the local government unit in raising their income levels. Growing Opportunities for Wealth (GrOW) Negosyo is a brainchild of Mayor Bongat which is aimed at raising the barangay level employment rate, improving the household income levels, giving way to the development of more proud barangay-owned products, and attaining the city’s vision for economic empowered communities. The city government has been pursuing its projects with the GrOW Negosyo entreps with assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other government line agencies. Among the locally-produced merchandises that this city will promote and sell during the event that will last until February 12, this year: wine and vodka, pili products, tablea, cocoa, banana chips, turmeric and other organic beverages, accessories, native bags and accessories, and furniture and house decors. Buendia said Metro PESO is also providing the local entreps with strong back up for their products to be accommodated, displayed and sold at local and Manila-based malls. Avenue Hotel is Travelers’

choice awardee once more NAGA CITY --- The world’s largest travel site named Avenue Plaza Hotel as one of the winners of TRAVELERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, joining the top 1% hotels worldwide recognized for remarkable service, value and quality. The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award is the highest honor the world’s largest travel site can bestow to businesses based on reviews and opinions from travelers around the world. “TripAdvisor relies on the experiences and opinions of our travel community to determine the winners of the Travelers’ Choice awards for hotels,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “Travelers planning 2017 trips can find inspiration for some of the best places to book around the world from this diverse group of outstanding accommodations.” Trivia This is not the first time that Avenue Plaza made it to the elite group of TripAdvisor awardees. It first received the Travelers’ Choice Awards Best Hotel Service in 2013, ranking 15 out of 25 top winners aside from consistently receiving the Certificate of Excellence since 2011 and Hall of Fame Award for Excellence in 2015. “At the Avenue Plaza Hotel, we strongly believe in doing more, in creating more, and in being more.” said Allan S. Cu, President and General Manager of the multi-awarded and internationally recognized homegrown hospitality brand. “This is a principle enshrined in our Avenue Service Culture, our service standards. We believe it, and we live it.” Officially rated as the only 4-star accommodation in Naga City accredited by the Department of Tourism, the whole Avenue Plaza team takes pride in delivering a five-star world-class service right in the heart of Bicol. To date, Avenue Plaza Hotel has an average of 95% thumbs-up with hundreds of “excellent” rating on TripAdvisor and currently the top #1 rated hotel not just in Naga City but in entire Bicol Region. More than just an icon for transforming the urban landscape and hospitality industry with its cosmopolitan ambiance and ground breaking celebrations, Avenue Plaza Hotel has consistently made a mark in the lives of their guests by showcasing the best of Bicol’s genuine and warm hospitality through its professional staff. The hotel is now on its 10th year of operation and its staff and operators are delighted to share that Avenue Plaza Hotel has become the avenue for business and leisure where leaders gather and meet, a cozy home away from home where families and friends celebrate. A living testament to this is one of one of our most loyal guests who frequently travel to Naga, Mary Jane Au, who wrote more than 12 reviews since 2014. “They are extraordinarily courteous and amazing! A frequent traveler will surely note the difference. I can vouch on that superb personalized service. If you’re travelling to Naga City, go for the best!” she enthusiastically stated on her TripAdvisor review. Avenue Plaza Hotel is indeed becoming the preferred hospitality destination in South Luzon while continuing to showcase the very best of Bicol hospitality and becoming one of world-class Philippine homegrown brands that every Bicolano can be truly proud of. “We are grateful for this wonderful recognition of our work; it is really enlivening being acknowledged for our everyday job—- giving and doing our best at all times.” Mr.Cu expressed as he emphasized his gratitude to all the guests who serve as inspiration for his team to consistently deliver the Avenue Signature of Service. Why ‘Ma Rosa’ did not

make it as Oscar nominiee By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Despite earning the best actress award in Cannes for Jacklyn Jose last year, Brillante Mendoza’s film ‘Ma Rosa’, Philippine entry to the 89th Oscar Awards, failed to make it to the nomination with the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts and Sciences announcing five nominees for Foreign Language from Australia (Tanna), Denmark (Land of Mine), Germany (Toni Erdmann), Iran (The Salesman) and Sweden (A Man Called Ove). With the Oscar Award for the Foreign Language film due on Feb. 26, why did Ma Rosa failed to make it to the nomination? Mendoza, who came here on Thursday (Feb. 2) to promote the run of his films in cinemas, cited “a very big challenge” to surmount not only for the filmmaker but also for the country sending an entry before being nominated to the Oscar’s. He said he went to the United States to campaign with the help of the Film Academy of the Philippines and the Film Development Council of the Philippines that provided him P1M for Ma Rosa’s film promotion. “Binayad yon sa isang publicity team sa Amerika, pero hindi po yon enough. Yon po ang tulong ng ating gobyierno. (It was paid to one publicity team in America, but it was not enough. It was the assistance from our government.),” Mendoza quipped. He said the P1M budget was not enough because the campaign process to promote the film in the Oscar’s is a long one. Mendoza said a small country like the Philippines must learn not only on how to choose a film entry to the Oscar’s but as well as how to promote and campaign for the chosen film entry. He said the competition in the Foreign Language category does not only involve one, two or three entries but more than 80 entries from different countries. “It is like the Ms. Universe contest. This is the Ms. Universe contest for the films with every participating country having their own way of campaigning and promoting their films in order to be shortlisted,” Mendoza said. He said there are some 5,000 members of the Academy for Motion Pictures and Arts and Sciences to vote for the film nomination and every one of them must be reached out. Mendoza said there are three stages in the nomination process and Ma Rosa had only reached the first stage. “In these three stages your film must reach the 5,000 Academy members so that they may understand and know what is your film. You need to produce so many promotional materials like DVDs and reviews of your film and where has it been shown already. It must be shown in America for the Academy members to watch,” he said. Mendoza said hiring a publicity team is a must in order for the film entry be watched by the voting members of the Academy. “The publicity team in America is unlike here in the Philippines where you can just request media people to help you promote the film.” He said the minimum budget for an Oscar entry to get enough exposure to earn nomination is P5M. Mendoza said the idea of the film Ma Rosa came up four years ago when he became indirectly involved in a situation like the film story of small-time drug pusher in a poor community. “It captures my interest to tell this story because it shows a unique but also disturbing characteristic of a common Filipino family. That a family member is backed against the wall for the wrongdoings that he or she made you will do everything to keep them out of trouble even if it means violating the basic virtues. In a society where survival of the fittest is a fact that we have to live with, family becomes amoral,” he said. SSS assures lawyers of meaningful benefits Manila---Speaking before his fellow members of the legal profession during the 30th Anniversary of the Philippine Constitution held at Manila Hotel on February 02, 2017, Social Security Commission Chairman Dean Amado D. Valdez strongly encouraged his fellow members in the legal profession to continue being vanguards of the law while assuring them that they have a financial fallback with the pension fund. Dean Valdez said that social security provides dignity for lawyers who fight for the rights of people. He vowed to maximize the strength of the SSS Law to provide more meaningful benefits to its members especially upon retirement. Photo shows Dean Valdez discussing his plans and programs for the pension fund. Also present during the celebration were former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (in blue) and officials of the Vanguards of the Philippine Constitution Inc. Standard admission test for

law schools gets mixed reactions By Connie B. Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- A memorandum from the Legal Education Board (LEB), that pilots a standard admission test in any law school in the Philippines beginning school year 2017-2018, drew mixed reactions from law students, deans, professors and government officials here. Some welcomed the move, saying it will raise the bar of law education while those opposing it believe the measure is impractical as it will kill law schools in the provinces. In a statement recently issued by LEB, it said aspiring law students must take and pass the Philippine Law School Admission Test or PhilSAT before they could be admitted in law schools for school year 2017-2018. According to LEB’s Memorandum Order 7 that was issued on December 29, 2016, PhilSAT is a one-day aptitude test that intends to measure the academic potential of an examinee pursuing the study of law. “It will test a potential student's communication and language proficiency, critical thinking skills, and verbal and quantitative reasoning,” read the memorandum. The first PhilSAT examination to be conducted on April 16 will be held in seven sites across the country: Baguio City, Metro Manila, Legazpi City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City. According to LEB’s memorandum, while school year 2017-2018 will be the pilot year for PhilSAT, law schools in the country will still be allowed to enroll students who took the exams but did not meet the passing score of 55 percent. LEB requires all law schools to comply with the provisions of the new regulation or they will be subjected to sanctions and a fine of up to PHp 10,000. Section 7 of the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993 or Republic Act 7662 has empowered LEB to administer the legal education system and supervise law schools in the country. The law also vests LEB with such powers and functions as setting the standards of accreditation for law schools and prescribing the minimum standards for law admission. Rhondon Ricafort, incoming third year law student of Bicol College in Daraga, Albay said he approves of the LEB move as it “all the more defines the regulatory functions of LEB over all law schools in the country today.” Atty. Fiona Mae Corral-Bobis, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Albay chapter and law professor of Aquinas University of Legazpi and Bicol College, said PhilSAT will be of great help. “Those who come and attend our classes at least have the qualifications to be in law school and have been vetted, medyo konti ang babagsak (it will decrease the number of those who will fail),” she said. Bobis said PhilSAT is really intended to raise the bar of the quality of students taking up law because “law school and the Bar is not a walk in the park.” “Only the dedicated and those armed with a strong educational foundation can pass,” she added. Atty. Ian Macasinag, dean of Bicol College, School of Law, however, believes the new regulation of LEB will spell the death of provincial law schools. He said they will oppose the measure as small provincial law schools could hardly cope now because of the limited number of enrollees they get each semester. “What more if admission tests will be given,” Macasinag said. Jeffrey Louis Llagan, a student of San Beda College of Law who took the 2016 Bar exams, however, believes PhilSAT is a “great step in elevating the standards of the legal profession.” “At least early on, an institutionalized entrance exam would serve as a "mini-Bar (exams)" prior to law school, which would screen those who are truly dedicated to the legal profession and those with the aptitude for it,” he said. In a text message, Albay second district Rep. Joey Salceda said reforms in legal education should emanate from the schools and should not be borne by the students. “Reform the schools not the students so why shift the burden to aspiring students, they (LEB) should instead focus in the regulation and accreditation of law schools,” he said. A working law student in this city, Ella Mae San Jose, believes PHILSAT is "redundant and counter-productive.” She said law schools in the Philippines are already effectively administering their own admission procedures. “If passing the bar exam is the prime consideration for PhilSAT, is it not best assessed through the students’ performance during his years in the college of law and not before it?” San Jose asked. Ateneo HS ’72 fetes 45th reunion NAGA CITY --- Members of the Ateneo de Naga High School 1972 are preparing for a memorable, nostalgic 3-day homecoming, their 45th since their graduation, on Friday ‘til Sunday this week, Gary Castro, this year’s reunion chairman said. The event, where the former high school students are senior citizens now will remember their adventurous, dangerous, and colorful memories, especially when “our age was at the gate of grim military rule,” as classmate Tito Valiente, now professor, socio-anthropologist and respected film critic, wrote. During the reunion’s business meeting after the mass and lunch on first day (Feb. 10), to be attended by Ateneo President PrimitivoViray, class members Luis Ruben General and Joe Perez will formally present the batch’s proposal to erect a memorial for the martial-law victims and martyrs from Ateneo de Naga (see the column SeldaNumero 10 in this issue for more details) who shed their blood for liberty and freedom during those dark years. Of course, there will also be fun and merriment as they relive the sounds of the Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Woodstock, Joey Smith and the Juan de la Cruz Band, among others, in a night of folksongs and rock and roll by local live bands inside the Biggs Diner and Bistro across the BMC compound, according to Castro. On second night, after a round or two of golf at Haciendas de Nagaand outreach visit at Boys’ Town earlier in the day, the batch will be attending a joint ball and dinner hosted by their counterpart from then all-girls’ high school, CSI, at Royale Emelina hall. The third day will be an all-boys’ all-day long revelry at Casa Ofelia, the venue courtesy of Roger Carino, a fellow Atenean who belongs to a younger batch. It has been a long journey (and yet they are still kicking, hopping, and trotting) when many of the class members have carved niches of their own, raising family, helping the community, and becoming part of nation-building. Some of the notable batchmates are James Jacob (congressman and 3rdplacer in the Bar), Totoy Borja (former Casureco II GM who is now based in Ney Jersey working in an energy supply company there) Cesar Federizon (Metro Naga Water District GM), Mario Genio (barefoot doctor in Mindanao), Filomeno Aguilar (dean and socio-anthropologist at the Ateneode Manila), Manny Guballa (a children’s physician in QC), VirgilioBreboneria (also a doctor in Manila), jeweler-entrepreneur SenenTorralba, businessman Noel de Leon, lawyers ArdyObias and Roque Rosales (not to mention Ruben General), dedicated NGO worker Joaquin Olitoquit, the late Virgilio Prado (businessman and Gawad Kalinga collaborator), and retired generals Roger Diaz and Jaime Milla. Others have ventured abroad and made their own marks there: Jerry Paranal (a Desert Storm veteran), Jess Ces (WB executive and 3rdplacer in the national Voice of Democracy oratorical contest), Vincent Guballa (an LAPD investigator), Gerry General and Jose Pavia (practising doctors), Pete Marquez, HerveAbiog,ArnelLapiz, and the late Leonardo Soltes (retired US Navy servicemen), Bert Pablo (interstate truck driver), Peping Palma (industrial safety engineer), Jerry Berina (basketball coach and consultant) and the engineers and workers in the Middle East who have expressed their solidarity with the homecoming event sans their physical presence. The high school class, which dubbed itself as “The Last of the First Quarterstormers” will not forget to offer prayers to some 30 of their members who had been called to the Great Beyond, including their two fallen classmates who fought martial law and died for their Motherland: Elmer Pereda and Homer Aquilino. But on the other hand, their classmates would say, they (the departed) are actually “our angels up there, praying for us who have been left behind.” jbp 12 barangays in Iriga cleared of drugs By Paulo DS. Papa IRIGA CITY---Out of 36 barangays in the city, 12 were already officially declared as “drug-free”. The feat was achieved because of the cooperation extended by the community to local government and barangay officials, members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)), Department of Justice, media and the regional and provincial Intelligence Group, local authorities here said. The 12 identified barangays are San Juan, Perpetual Help, Sta. Cruz Norte, Sta. Cruz Sur, San Roque, San Agustin Sur, La Porisima, San Francisco, San Miguel, San Isidro, Prancia, and Sto. Domingo. As of the period July 1, 2016 to the present, at least one casualty each were reported in the barangays of San Roque and San Juan, the names of the victims kept in confidentiality for strategic reason, according to SPO4 Liza Jane Alteza, the public information officer of the Iriga City Police Station during an interview conducted last Monday afternoon. Operations in the remaining 24 barangays were halted after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last week ordered to temporarily shelve Oplan Tokhang for the government to focus on corrupt policemen following investigations on the kidnapping dead of a Korean national. Alteza hinted that “all the crimes against persons (murder, physical assault, etc.) and crimes against property (lrobbery, hold-up, etc.) reported in the city were drug-related.” Of the suspected 1,291 persons associated to illegal drugs, Alteza said 969 had surrendered voluntarily while 32 more were arrested during the period mentioned. Alteza pointed out that Iriga Mayor Madelene Yorobe Alfelor is in full support of the campaign as the city hall provides financial support and further training of law enforcers. “While we have 103 to 110 police personnel that look after the 140,000 residents of the city, we always need the support of the people; we have to clear all the barangays [from drugs]to keep our city safe,” the lady mayor said. Kabayan partylist offers free

wheelchairs, walkers, stands NAGA CITY --- Kabayan partylist thru its Representative Ron P. Salo is slated to distribute free wheelchairs, walkers and stands to qualified indigent-beneficiaries. This was announced yesterday by Kabayan Partylist Consultant Jennis I. Nidea, a member of the Kabayan Partylist National Board of Directors who said that to qualify for the free wheelchair, walker or stand, he or she must submit: 1) certificate of disability, 2) certificate of indigency, 3) valid ID, and 4) whole body picture. The Free distribution of wheelchairs, walkers and stands is a project of the Department of Health (DOH) and Kabayan Partylist. “Our group (Kabayan) remains true to its mandate of being the people’s conduit with the gov’t in ensuring that the people are able to avail of gov’t programs and projects”, Rep. Salo pointed out. Salo said that the number of wheelchairs, walkers and stands are limited so he encouraged those who would want to avail of them to submit the requirements early at their Bicol Office of the Kabayan Partylist at the residence of Mr. Nidea at Block 17, Lot 39, Progress Homes, Bgy. Del Rosario, Canaman, Camarines Sur. “In short, it will be on a ‘first-come-first-serve basis,’” Salo stresses. Idyllic Gainza town has a new lady architect THE very recent Architecture board examinations last January 27 & 29, 2017 to which professional results were released on February 3, 2017 yielded ecstatic news for one lowly employee of the provincial government of Camarines Sur in the person of Roseller Ricario wherein he religiously monitored accessible Internet sites constantly browsing snippets of news awaiting if his beloved daughter, Kathleen Nikka Revilla Ricario successfully passed the rigid professional board examinations. Lo and behold! This devoted father’s tenacity and persistence paid off handsomely when the good news sneaked in that indeed, Kathleen aced her exams and is now a full-fledged architect! Born on September 23, 1992 in Gainza, Camarines Sur, she is the second child and eldest daughter in a brood of 9 children of Roseller and Helen Revilla of Naga City. She studied at Gainza Central School for elementary and at Naga City Science High School for secondary. She took her architecture studies at Bicol State Applied Sciences & Technology (BISCAST). Kathleen was a working college student where she spent years gaining valuable experience at LPC Engineering Services in Naga City, a surveying, building, and construction company owned and managed by Engr. Ledwina P. Chavez. During her review and preparations for the board exams, she worked at Makati Development Corporation where she is still connected at present. Newly-minted Architect Kathleen Nikka R. Ricario is a granddaughter of the late Roberto Revilla, a geodetic engineer in his heyday. JMTS-MMEC 9ID Staff goes revamp

By Luis Eli San Jose

WITH the arrival of the new field grade officers, the 9th Infantry (SPEAR) Division conducted reorganization in its key staff positions through a simple Joint Turnover of Office Responsibility held at the 9ID Conference Room here, in Camp Elias Angeles, Pili, Camarines Sur last January 26.

These movements were executed in order to ensure that the unit’s mission is being carried efficiently and effectively and more responsive to the current thrust set forth by the higher headquarters.

In line with the said activity, the command designated two of the six newly assigned Command and General Staff Course (GSC) graduates to key staff positions.

Lt. Col. Omar V. Orozco assumed as the new Assistant Chief of Staff for Operation (G3) replacing Lt. Col. Eric H. Culvera who was re-designated as the Acting Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operation (G7). Prior to the said revamp the G7 office is under the watch of Capt. Ronnie M. Madrinian as the officer-in-charge.

On the other hand, Lt. Col. Sofronio G. Abadier Jr. took the helm of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Training and Education (G8). He replaced Maj. Armado T. Benito who served the office in acting capacity.

Meanwhile, Maj. Amadeo L. Saturnino relinquished his post as the Command Adjutant to Capt. Marjorie Pamela P. Panesa. The former adjutant is set to take key position at the brigade level.

With these adjustments, Maj. Gen. Manolito P. Orense, Commander 9ID, awarded the relieved officers with Military Merit Medal for the exemplary performance in their respective stints as staff of the command. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the outgoing officers for the professionalism they displayed and for the job well done that contributed to the overall accomplishments of the command.

He further stressed that reliefs and designations are integral to and part of dynamism of the service. With the designation of GSC qualified officers, the commander said that he is confident that the Spear Division will have a higher rating on readiness condition and the tradition of excellence will be continued.

He once again reminded the officers and men to keep the spirit of unity and esprit de corps in order to have harmonious working relationship and deliver better output for the benefits of our people.