Recent Articles

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Whirlwind destroys 3 houses in Bukidnon, causes 21-hour brownout

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 16 Oct) – A whirlwind in Valencia City Tuesday totally destroyed three houses and caused a 21-hour long brownout in parts of Bukidnon.
The Valencia City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council also reported that 31 houses were partially damaged by the whirlwind affecting 33 families.
The CDRRMC report, signed by Mayor Azucena Huervas, blamed “very strong winds” for causing the collapse of trees, some of which landed along the highway, and the destruction of houses in Barangays Dabongdabong and Mailag along the Sayre Highway.
Most of those affected, 25 of the 33 families, are from Purok 8 in Mailag. Damage to houses were estimated at P178,500. No one was reported hurt from among the 156 persons affected in the CDRRMC account.
The CDRRMC, quoting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the incident was caused by a “local thunderstorm.”
Stronger whirlwinds are referred to as tornado.
Elizabeth Ladaga, corporate communications officer of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, said in an advisory Wednesday that the incident toppled two NGCP transmission structures in the area. Power transmission tripped along the Maramag-Malaybalay 69-kilovolt lines at 3:07p.m. on Tuesday, causing a total of 21 hours of power interruption in Malaybalay City and other towns served by the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (BUSECO). Areas covered by First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (FIBECO) were also affected but was restored at 5:05 p.m. on the same day.
Ladaga initially reported that linemen had difficulty doing repairs as they were prevented by flood waters in the Colonia to Mailag area of Valencia City.
Some areas in Bukidnon – including the barangays along the Pulangui River in Valencia – are prone to tornadoes, the PAGASA reported. Anianita Fortich, who used to be the meteorological officer of PAGASA-Bukidnon, said that the whirlwinds recorded in the area were not too strong.
She said tornadoes usually develop in areas with rivers, mountains, and plains. She warned that those who dwell in houses built with light materials and those who live along river banks are most vulnerable.
Fortich, who is now with the regional office of the weather bureau, said that climate change is yet another factor that affect wind movements.
Ma. Leah Barquez, of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council office, said they received no reports from other towns about similar incidents in their areas. - From

GPH-NDF meet in Utrecht won’t take up release of soldiers held by NPA in Bukidnon

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – The release of two Army soldiers held captive by the New People’s Army in Bukidnon will not be taken up in a meeting between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Utrecht in the Netherlands this week, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles said Wednesday.
Deles said the meeting in Utrecht will be “low-key” and will focus on finding ways to resume the stalled peace talks between the government and the NDF.
“There is no ceasefire. The release of the POWs will not be taken up in the meeting,” the official said during a roundtable discussion with journalists in Makati City.
Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang met with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last week to renew their request for a suspension of military operations to pave the way for the safe release of two soldiers held by the rebels in Bukidnon.
Army Privates First Class Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yorong have been held captive by the NPA since August 22.
The military in Bukidnon said the two soldiers were snatched by the NPA while buying food supplies at a market in Impasugong, Bukidnon.
They were scheduled to be released last September but the plan was cancelled for unknown reasons.
Ledesma and Calang have taken up the cudgel of the families of the captured soldiers, and have asked both sides to ensure their safe release. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)  - From

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Casualties of peace

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 17 Dec) – Police have filed charges against one Macmod Manibpil as a suspect in the December 9, 2014 bombing of a bus in Maramag, Bukidnon which killed 10 people and injured 42 others. Manibpil, who reportedly bolted the Kidapawan City Jail, is also a suspect in the 2006 bombing in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Inspector Jiselle Longakit, spokesperson of the Bukidnon provincial police office, said Manibpil belongs to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Let’s try weaving together the facts presented by the police. If Manibpil really belongs to the BIFF, it is implied that he was with the MILF at the time he allegedly carried out the Kabacan bombing. The BIFF only came about as fallout of the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain fiasco. Before the BIFF, authorities were quick to point an accusing finger at the MILF (almost) every time a bombing occurred in parts of Mindanao even if a ceasefire between the government and the rebel group was already in place.
Police claimed a sketch based on the description made by two witnesses matched the photo of Manibpil photo in the rogues gallery. Nonetheless, they added that aside from “furtherance of their (BIFF) cause”, they are also looking at extortion and business rivalry as the other possible motives. That’s another way of saying they’re not 100-percent sure as yet of BIFF involvement for reasons other than the BIFF’s denial they had a hand in the incident.
Meawhile, Maj. Christian Uy of the 4th Infantry Division said that an official from Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. told the Regional Peace and Order Council that the company received text messages demanding P50,000 monthly or one of their buses would be bombed. Such story tends to give credence to the extortion angle except that the amount being demanded seems too small compared to the degree of brutality of the act.
Why the supposed extortionists only demanded P50,000 a month – just a drop in the bucket of RTMI’s daily revenues – raises more questions than there are answers. If it was indeed extortion, why settle for a pittance? Why not P500,000 or even a million pesos a month? Would a real extortionist take the risk of carrying out a bombing for a measly sum? The pieces simply don’t fit. - From

Families bury kin, demand justice for Bukidnon bus bombing victims

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/20 December)– Expressions of love and calls for justice highlighted today’s burial of two Central Mindanao University (CMU) students who were among the 10 people killed in the December 9 bombing of a passenger bus of Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) near the university’s main gate.
Families and friends held solemn and emotional burial rites in two separate sites– Malaybalay’s Shepherds Meadow Memorial Park for Marielle E. Achacoso and Barangay Cabangahan Public Cemetery for Kim Lloyd Valiente.
In both funerals, there was a common call for acceptance of their fate and a cry for justice.
Ricardo Achacoso recalled his daughter’s achievements and attributes and called for the acceptance of her fate, even asking for prayers so that her soul may rest in peace.
“I am sure she lived a happy live here on earth. Let us allow her (with our prayers) to be happy in heaven,” he said after the funeral mass at the cemetery’s chapel filled with relatives and friends.
He said she was “a sweet, respectful girl and made the family laugh.”

Family, relatives, classmates and friends of December 9 bus bombing victim Marielle E. Achacoso, 17, a first year accountancy student of Central Mindanao University, show their love as they cry for justice during her burial onSaturdayat the Shepherd’s Meadow Memorial Park in Malaybalay City. MindaNews photo by Walter Balane
Her uncle, Rene, who described her as a good girl who was “ fond of jamming,” believed that God has a plan for the family.
Her friends recalled Marielle’s strong personality and encouragement in times when they were down.
The Achacosos and many of those in attendance, including Marielle’s classmates, wore white t-shirts printed in the front with “We love you Marielle E. Achacoso” super imposed with a photo of the 17-year old first year accountancy student of CMU.
Others wore shirts printed in the front with “Justice for Marielle E. Achacoso” and a graphics of a black ribbon next to the words.
At the back of the shirts, there is also a mix of print: “We love you Marielle E. Achacoso” and “Justice: 12-09-14” also next to a graphics of a black ribbon. - From

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bukidnon politics 2014: 3 mayoral successions

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 01 January) — An ambush, an ailment, and a case conviction forced three successions among Bukidnon mayors in 2014.
In Maramag, ailing Mayor Alicia Resus was succeeded by vice Mayor Jose Obedencio, a former three-term mayor.
Citing poor health, Resus, 56, resigned effective March 8.  She passed away on March 11.
Resus, who had a Master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from Araneta University Foundation, was elected mayor in 2010 and reelected in 2013. She was vice mayor from 2001 to 2010.
By rule of succession, Obedencio, a partymate of Resus and Zubiri at the Bukidnon Paglaum Party (BPP) assumed the post of mayor. Obedencio was mayor from 2001 to 2010 when Resus was vice mayor.
Maramag’s number 1 municipal councilor Jose Joel Doromal, a lawyer who belongs to the Aksyon Demokratiko party, assumed the post of vice mayor.
In Impasug-ong, Mayor Mario Okinlay, killed in an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) on July 2 was succeeded by vice mayor Anthony Uy, who belongs to a rival party.
Okinlay and other officials were in Bontongon and were scheduled to return to the town proper that day. He had police and military escorts but was driving his motorcycle when attacked in Barangay Kinapuntan.
The NPA admitted responsibility for the ambush of Okinlay who died while being treated for gunshot wounds.
Police said the assailants fired at the convoy hitting Okinlay on the stomach and left arm at around 8 a.m. Okinlay’s police and military escorts reportedly gave the mayor first aid before bringing him to the Malaybalay Polymedic General Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 11:23 a.m. that same day.
Okinlay, a graduate of Xavier University, was first elected mayor in 1998. When he completed three terms in 2007, he fielded his wife Julia to run for mayor, but returned to the mayoralty in 2010.
Okinlay was the first mayor killed in an ambush by the NPA in Bukidnon. Valencia Mayor Absalon Catarata, elected in 1980 and 1988, was killed by an unknown assailant in front of his residence on April 21, 1988 while waiting for his service vehicle to fetch him.
In June 2014, Valencia mayor Jose M. Galario Jr. was also succeeded by his vice mayor, Azucena Huervas, after he was convicted by the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3f of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Galario, a former police chief, has been declared a fugitive. The police could not serve the warrant of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan that found him guilty of graft.
The anti-graft court declared Galario guilty for refusing to comply with a Civil Service Commission (CSC) order to reinstate now retired city budget officer Ruth Piano whom he repeatedly relieved and transferred to other positions in City Hall.
In 2001, Galario relieved Piano and transferred her to different offices. She filed constructive dismissal complaints against Galario before the CSC regional office in Cagayan de Oro City and won, resulting in the issuance of a reinstatement order on May 5, 2003. - From

Over 300 flee as rivers swell in Bukidnon; more evacuations set as Seniang sweeps N. Mindanao

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 December) – Over 300 individuals from at least six villages in Bukidnon have fled as water levels in rivers and streams connected to the Pulangi River started to rise as tropical storm Seniang continued to dump heavy rains across the province, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said at noon Monday.
Ma. Leah Barquez, focal person at the Bukidnon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said Valencia City accounted for most of the evacuees with 275 individuals or 34 families.
She said these families left their homes in response to orders for a preemptive evacuation by the local DRRMCs.
The PDRRMC reported that in Valencia, 150 individuals came from Barangay Batangan, 20 families or around 100 persons from Barangay Catumbalon, 12 families or around 60 persons from Sitio Hinauan, Purok 5 in Barangay Poblacion, and two families or 10 persons from Barangay Sugod. These villages are along the Pulangi River.
In Cabanglasan, the Municipal DRRMC said the water level in Mandahican River has risen and threatened some areas in Barangay Iba. The council had scheduled a preemptive evacuation of at least 196 families in a cluster of villages around 3p.m. today.
In Malitbog, the MDRRMC reported a landslide past 8a.m. Sunday that partially destroyed a house in Barangay Sumalsag. The incident prompted a preemptive evacuation of 21 families in Barangays Sumalsag and Patpat.
In Sumilao, the MDRRMC also reported a landslide early Monday morning in Damay, Barangay San Vicente, along the Sayre Highway. But Barquez pointed out that the highway had been cleared as of 9:45a.m. Monday.
In various points, the water levels have doubled as monitored by stream gauges provided by Project Noah of the Department of Science and Technology.
Water level in Lumbayao Bridge over Pulangi River in Valencia rose from 1.22 meters as of 10:40 a.m. Sunday to 2.35 meters as of the same time Monday.
In downtown Valencia, water rose from 10.33 meters to 13.11 meters during the same time frame as monitored from Valencia City Bridge near Batangan.
In Malaybalay City, water level also increased from 0.83 meters as of 10:50a.m. Sunday to 1.207 meters by 10:40a.m. Monday.
In Libona town, water level in Bubunawan River, which flows into Cagayan River, increased from 4.7 meters to 6.2 meters within the same time frame.
In Baungon town, water level also increased in Kabula Bridge, also over Bubunawan River, from 45.75 meters to 47 meters as of 11a.m. Monday.  - From