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Court junks WPI, clears Romualdo of wrongdoing

January 21, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--A court in Mambajao town in Camiguin has lifted on January 17 the Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) filed by Bahay Bakasyonan sa Camiguin (BBC) against the closure order of former Mayor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo issued on May 8 last year. On May 10 last year, the BBC, represented by its owner Marie Suzette Chan Good filed a WPI as an extension of a Temporary Restraining Order against then Mambajao town Mayor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo's May 8, 2019 order for the closure of the BBC and revoking its license for violating Revised Ecological Waste Management Ordinance of the Municipality of Mambajao, Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. and the Sanitation Code of the Philippines. In her petition, Chan-Good alleged that Romualdo, for issuing the closure order,  acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The Municipal Health Office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), were conducting inspection of the BBC where they found violations of the establishment. DENR issued 6 violations contained in 4 violation notices which was the bases of Romualdo for the closure order and revocation of license of BBC. In his ruling, Regional Trial Court 10th Judicial Region Branch 28 Judge-Designate Bonifacio Macabaya ruled that Romualdo has the power to issue such order. "Closure Order is a valid exercise of a power to issue licenses and permits and suspend and revoke the same for any violation of the conditions upon which said licenses and permits had been issued, pursuant to taw and ordinance granted to the Municipal Mayor under Section 444 of the Local Govermment Code," Bonifacio said in his ruling. RA. No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 provides "SEC. 444: The Chief Executive: Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation allows  Chief Executives to: iv) lssue licerises and permits and suspend or revoke the same for any violation of the conditions upon which said licenses or permits had been issued, pursuant to law or ordinance" Chan-Good also alledged that the "closure order was swiftly issued by the respondent Mayor Romualdo contrary to the Municipal Health Ofice's recommendation of suspension of permits only. The "closure order was issued whimsically, capriciously, arbitrarily and in wanton violation of the constitutional right to due process as she was not given the opportuniy to rebut the Municipal Health Office's findings. Bonifacion says that BBC was not denied due process. The Notice of Violation was duly served upon BBC. BBC, through is Assistant Manager Marie Amora Climaco, responded in writng to the Notice of Violation admitting at least some of the violations observed by the Sanitaion Inspectors. The BBC was, therefore, grarted the right to be heard, and availed of that right. "The essence of due process is simply to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one's side, or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of," Bonifacio said citing Ledesma vs. Court of Appeals. Bonifacio also said that Romualdo did not act with grave abuse of discretion,when he issued the Closure Order.  Bonifacio said that in Neri vs. Yu, the Supreme Court defined grave abuse of discretion in the following manner: "By grave abuse of diseretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdicton. The abusė of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostlity and must be so patent and gross as to amount t an evasion of positive duty or ito a virtual refusal to perfom the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law." "The respondent (Romualdo) issued the Closure Order on the basis of the findings of Sanitation Inspectors from the Municipal Health Office of Mambajao that BBC was in violation of the Revised Ecological Waste Management Ordinance of the Municipality of Mambajao," Republic Act No. 9003 (otherwise known as "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.), and the Sanitation Code of the Philippines. The respondent's act of issuing the Closure Order cannot be considered capricious, whirmsical, arbitrary or despotic," Bonifacio said. "The Court finds that the respondent (Romualdo) acted within the scope of his authority granted by law as the Municipal Mayor of Mambajao when he issued the Closure Order; that the issuance of the Closure Order by the respondent (Romualdo) was not áttended by grave abuse of discretion; and that the BBC was not denied due process," Bonifacio said in his ruling. "It is clear that respondent Municipał Mayor may suspend or revoke licenses and permits when the conditions upon which said licenses or pemits had been issued, pursuant to law or ordinance, had been violated," Bonifacio in his ruling said. Bonifacio further cited that In the case of Gonzalo Sy Trading vs. Central Bank of the Phllippines, the Honorable Supreme Court states that a license is rather in the nature of a special privilege, of a permission or authority to do what is within its tems. A license is not in arý way vested, permanent, or absolute. A license granted by the State is always revocable. As a necessary consequence of its main power to grant license or pemit, the State or its instrumentalities have the correlative power to revoke or recall the same. And this power to revoke can only be restralned by an expicit contract upon good consideration to that effect. The absence of an expiry date in, a license does not make it perpetual. Nobvithstanding that absence, the license cannot last beyond the life of the basic authority- under which it was issued. WPI IS A CONTINUING VIOLATION Bonifacio also added that the WPI issued in this case will cause irreparable injury to the environment and will pose a threat to the health and well-being of the-people who live and work near the BBC's open dumpsite. "By issuing the writ of prohibitory injunction the Court granted BBC license to commit continuing and repeated violations of the Revised Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of the Municipality of Mambajao, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. S003), and the Sanitation Code Presidental Decree No. 856)," Bonifacio said. BBC CONTINUED OPERATIONS Romualdo, who is now the governor of Camiguin said that since the revocation of the license of BBC in May 8, 2019 and the subsequent TRO and WPI filed by Chan-Good, the BBC has been operating continuously albeit without license as there was a WPI. "We waited for the court to issue its verdict, we allowed BBC to operate continuously because they have a WPI," Romualdo said. Romualdo said that since the WPI have been lifted and all allegations issued against him by Chan-Good have been proven false, the closure of BBC will move forward. In a previous interview, Romualdo said that they will re-instate the license of BBC if they will pay their violations (in the municipal and DENR)., "We will re-instate their license if they will follow the law," Romualdo said.

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2 village officials gunned down, police manhunt on

January 21, 2020

TALAKAG, Bukidnon--Two village officials were gunned down by a lone unidentified gunman in the hinterland village of Dominorog, Bukidnon, the police reported here. The victims were identified as Lawrence Pidayanon and Mauricio Guinto, both senior citizens, and members of the barangay council of Dominorog. Police Capt. Dominador Orate Jr., chief of the Talakag Police Station, said that witnesses told police that a lone gunman shot the village officials on their way to attend the weekly session Monday morning. He said that the suspect reportedly pretended to get a Community Tax Certificate (Cedula) Monday morning and asked for the whereabout of the Village Chief. Orate said that the village treasurer Angeli Vercide told the suspect that the Village Chief  was attending a seminar and was not in office. “Vercide saw a gun tacked on the suspect’s waist prompting her to be suspicious,” Orate said. He said that the gunman went out of the Barangay Hall and wait outside, as if waiting for someone, until the two village council officials arrived where they shot and killed by the gunman. According to Orate, there is no signal in Dominorog, about 54 kilometers, from the nearest police station in Talakag, which resulted in the delay of the police response. “Operatives used handheld radio whenever a patrol is conducted in Dominorog,” he said. He said that a police manhunt was launched to pursue the suspect who escape using a tricycle toward the mountains of Pangantucan, Bukidnon. The police are looking at the “politics” as the possible motive of the shooting because the husband of the incumbent village chief was also gunned down by unknown suspects in 2017, Orate said.

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Two NPA leaders, 5 others surrender

January 17, 2020

MALAYBALAY City--Two top leaders of the New People's Army (NPA), and five others, surrendered to the local officials of Valencia City in Bukidnon, the military said Thursday. In a press statement, Capt. Ryan D. Layug, 403rd Civil Militay Officer, identied the rebel returnees as Ryselyn Q. Pardo, aka Jamby; and her husband, Reynante Tumbalang, aka Jigger. Layug identified the other five rebel returnees as Regine Pardo, Shairyl Pardo, Mark Jayzone Pardo, Angelito Tundag, and Roger Gonzales. He said Jamby is the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) Guerilla Front 6 (GF6) while Jigger is the commanding officer of GF6 operating in southern Bukidnon. He said GF6 was the NPA political organization that radicalized and turned militants some residents in seven Bukidnon towns namely: Valencia City, san Fernando, Kitaotao, Maramag, don Carlos, dangcagan, and Quezon. "We concede to government's CSP," said Jamby apparently referring to the intensified Community Support Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Jamby also said that the soldiers treat them well contrary to the statements of their senior cadres that they will be raped and tortured if they surrender. In a statement, Major General Nemesio Gacal, commander of the 4th Infantry division, said: "Our war is not focused on winning battles through the barrel of guns, ours is a peaceful war involving communities in conflict affected areas." Gacal added: "we together with local leaders and our constituents join hands and committed to battle land issues, poverty, and other problems through dialogue with the right people, organization and agency." "we commend the 403rd Brigade and the 88th, and the local government unit of BUkidnon for winning the peaceful war," said Gacal. “Nagpapasalamat po kami sa provincial government ng Bukidnon at sa City Government ng Valencia dahil sila ang naging bukas na pinto para sa pagbabagong buhay ng mga kapatid natin na naligaw ng landas," said BGen Edgardo De Leon, the Commander of 403rd Brigade covering the Provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin, to include Cagayan de Oro City. De Leo said: "Ito ay isang patunay na mas epektibo ang local level na usaping pangkapayapaan, halos isang linggo lang ang negosasyon, nagbalik loob na sila. Ang national level peacetalks, nagumpisa nung 1986, hanggang ngayon wala pa ring kapayapaan sa ating bansa. Ito pong local integration program ay sang-ayon kagustuhan at utos ng ating Commander-in-Chief President Duterte at ito po ay nagtatagumpay. Nagpapasalamat din po kami sa tulong at inisyatiba ni Congressman Neil Roque at sya rin ay naging daan sa pagbabagong buhay ng mga rebelde.” On one hand, Layug said the local government of Valencia City was key to the surrender of the couple. He said the couple initially sought the help of City Councilor Saliezer A. Dejos and Valencia City Mayor Azucena Huervas. The local officials of Valencia turned over the former rebels to Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. zubiri, chair of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) committee, during a press conference held at Valencia City on January 16. Layug said the former rebels were formally turned over to the 88th Infantry Battalion and the 403rd Infantry Brigade fo enrollment into the enhanced comprehensive local integration program of the government. He said the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office will determine the package of assistance that would suit the need of the former rebels which the military now calls "kauban sa kalinaw ug kalambuan."

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Emano orders probe on ‘oil spill’ off Misor shorelines

January 16, 2020

MISAMIS Oriental--Provincial Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano ordered a probe about alleged “oil spill” off the shorelines of Misamis Oriental. The alleged oil spill took place in the shorelines of Jasaan, a coastal town, west of Misamis Oriental, where a “fish kill” involving thousands of milk fish fingerlings were reported. Provincial Board Member Gerardo Sabal, chair of the provincial committee on the environment, said that in response to Emano\s directive, a committee hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2020. He said that initial reports reaching the provincial board committee were conflicting because the shorelines were not blackened, which normally takes place in an oil spill. Sabal said that the fishermen and residents reported of “white bubbles” were observed in the stretch of Jasaan’s shorelines. He said that fish cage owners complained that thousands of fingerlings were killed because of the “white bubbles.” Sabal said that the committee has invited various stakeholders, including the management of a Japanese-owned oleo chemical company, to shed light of the spill. “The committee on environment interested if the spill was that of a used “oil” or a “chemical” or whether it was “toxic,” Sabal said. According to Sabal, the probe would also start a large-scale investigation of the methods adopted by various industries in the disposal of the waste materials in the area.

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Dad checks N95 face mask sold in Oro

January 14, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--A city councilor made a surprise inspection at various stores selling N95 masks in the city. Councilor George Goking, chair of the City Council committee on trade and commerce, made the surprise inspection following reports that prices of disposable face masks have dramatically increased after the Taal volcano eruption. Goking said his committee will investigate the alleged shortage  of supplies of N95 face masks. As of 1 p.m. yesterday (January 14), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that Taal volcano’s eruption has been characterized by continuous magmatic and hydrovolcanic activity. "Lava fountains generated 800-meter tall dark gray steam-laden plumes that drifted to the general southwest," the Philvolcs said in a post. It said new fissures or cracks were observed in Sinisian, Mahabang Dahilig, Dayapan, Palanas, Sangalang, Poblacion, Lemery; Pansipit, Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5, Talisay and Poblacion, San Nicolas. A fissure was also documented across the road connecting Agoncillo to Laurel, Batangas. The Philippine Seismic Network recorded a total of forty-nine (49) volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. on January 14. "Seven of these earthquakes were felt with intensities ranging from Intensity II to IV in Tagaytay City," said the Phivolcs, adding "the intense seismic activity coupled with fissuring on the caldera region likely signifies continuous magma intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity." Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano. This means that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days. DOST-PHIVOLCS strongly reiterates total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and areas at high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami within a 14-kilometer radius from Taal Main Crater. Areas around Taal Volcano are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall. Civil aviation authorities must advise the aviation industry to avoid the airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircraft. DOST-PHIVOLCS is continually monitoring the eruption and will update all stakeholders of further developments.

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Oro dad to investigate shortage of face mask

January 14, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--A legislator is set to investigate why the city is experiencing shortage in the supplies of disposable face masks. Councilor George Goking, chairman of the committee on trade and commerce, said he will meet with establishments that sell face masks so he will know directly from them why stocks of N95 face masks in the city have run out. Goking said he will also look into possible overpricing of medicines and other essential commodities. He said he noticed that supplies of the N95 masks were no longer available in hardware stores and pharmacies since Monday. The city councilor said he wants to be prepared and will not wait until the smoke and ash reach Mindanao before he will buy the protective masks.  “As chairman of trade and commerce, I will call them for a meeting, especially the pharmaceutical associations, and I will let them answer the question why are run out of supply of N95 masks,” Goking said. During the meeting, Goking said they will also remind these business operators not to overprice or hoard essential items such as medicines or they will face penalties if proven that they are guilty of doing it. “We cannot allow businesses to deprive people of important commodities such as N95 face masks or medicines in the time that they need them the most,” he added. He said the meeting will take place anytime this week as soon as the establishments have already been notified. Reporters who went to some pharmacies and stores have noticed N95 face masks were no longer available. A salesperson at a pharmacy said a lone customer bought all their N95 face masks on Monday, and they no longer stocks to sell to their other customers. In that store, they sell N95 masks at P65 each.

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