Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Korea gives P150M grant for INEC’s voltage upgrading project

(From left) Bosung Powertec Co. president Lim Jae Hwang, INEC general manager Engr. Felino Herbert P. Agdigos, NEA administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong, KEPCO president Go, Jae Han, INEC board president Reynaldo M. Lazo show the terms of references they signed for the INEC project. (INEC photo)

By Dominic B. dela Cruz

Dingras, Ilocos Norte—The Korean government through the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) officially awarded a grant for a distribution voltage upgrading project to the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC).

KIAT formalized the grant in a signing ceremony for the “Terms of Reference” between the Philippines and Korea on January 22, 2018 at INEC’s Dingras main office.

National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong, representing the Philippines being the supervisory agency of the project, signed the document with KIAT Vice President Park Sang-Yi, representing Korea.

Also joining the signing were INEC Board President Reynaldo “Rey” M. Lazo and INEC General Manager Felino Herbert P. Agdigos, representing INEC, the implementing agency.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) President Go, Jae Han and Bosung Powertec Co. President Lim, Jae Hwang, were also on hand during the ceremony.

In his message, Mr. Masongsong highlighted the importance of the project by providing the highest quality of service to the coop’s member-consumers.

He also commended INEC for consistently achieving AAA Category or the highest category of NEA’s yearly performance evaluation.

“This is a product of your good performance and the Korean government wants you to be more effective and more efficient,” he stressed.

The grant totals 3.5 billion Korean won, or PHP150 million if converted to the local currency. The grant represents the industrial cooperation and exchange of industrial technology in the electricity sector between the Korean and Philippine governments.

The project mainly aims to provide support in the engineering, procurement and construction for the voltage upgrading of distribution lines in the northern part of Ilocos Norte from 13.2kV to 22.9kV of distribution feeders 2C and 2D of the Burgos Sub-station of INEC.

The approximately 70 kilometers of existing distribution line supplies the areas of the municipalities of Burgos, Bangui, Dumalneg, Pagudpud except Brgys. Pancian and Pasaleng; and Brgys. Davila and Dilavo of Pasuquin.

Mr. Agdigos said that the project is set for a period of two years.

The Ilocos Times learned that experts have surveyed the project. They inspected and evaluated the project in June, 2017, followed by a 10-day training for INEC engineers in Korea in December 2017.

Relative to this, Mr. Agdigos said INEC already started the preparation of staging and storage area for equipment and materials needed.

He added that the grant is not in cash but materials for the upgrading. This includes the replacement of the existing lines to accommodate higher voltage and the need for the replacement of insulators, sub-station, porcelain, wires, posts and others.

INEC is the 1st electric cooperative beneficiary in the Philippines to receive such a grant from the Korean government. INEC will pay for the import duties and taxes for the materials for the project. This serves as INEC’s counterpart funding for the project.

INEC records show that the project areas, which are located at the coastal areas of the province facing the West Philippine Sea frequently experience voltage fluctuations and unscheduled power interruptions due to the vulnerability of the distribution system to corrosion caused by the salinity of the wind in the area.

Addanto la pannaka-affektar dagiti member-consumerstayo inton i-transfertayo diay old lines into new lines. Actually, dayta iti agdama nga ad-adalenmi tapnu mai-minimize kuma tapnu addanto kuma latta korienteda uray madama iti trabahoda kasi adunto ti interruptionsna. Uray ta kalpasanto met daytoyen ket napintasto ti epektona kaniadan ta pumintasto tay boltahe ti korientedan ken puminpintas iti serbisio,” Mr. Agdigos said.

Mr. Agdigos expressed his deepest gratitude to the Korean government through the KIAT for granting this big project and to NEA for endorsing this project to the Korean government and choosing INEC to be the beneficiary.

Garden show, trade fair kicks off MMSU’s 40th anniversary

Staff reporter
Batac CITY—Rare collections of bonsai plants, high-quality furniture products, creative crafts and souvenir items including processed food products among others are on display on January 18, 2018 at the Garden show and trade fair held at the open grounds of the state-run Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Batac City campus.

With a theme, “Transforming Concepts into Products,” the month-long exhibit participated by public and private stakeholders of MMSU is one of the highlights of the university as it commemorates its 40th foundation anniversary.

As a premiere university in the country, MMSU president Shirley Agrupis took the lead in empowering the lives of Ilocanos through research innovations and knowledge-driven global economy.

Over the years, residents of Ilocos Norte are grateful for having the university as it opened doors of opportunities for them not only in achieving quality education but also on research and extension services.

Agnes Asuncion, a former domestic helper turned farmer entrepreneur is now enjoying the fruits of her labor as she was a recipient of various seminars and training workshops of MMSU such as on soap and fruit wine-making among others.

“I am thankful for MMSU because of their tireless commitment to improve the life of others. I learned a lot of things from them,” said Ms. Asuncion as she is among the regular exhibitors of the university, selling essential oils, dragon fruit soap, and fruit wines.

As part of promoting the milestone achievements of the university, the garden show and exhibit features unique goods and commodities MMSU had helped improved through the years.

BSP, Ilocos Norte gov’t to share financial info with Ilocanos

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter
LAOAG CITY—The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is partnering with the Provincial Library under the Ilocos Norte government to share more information with Ilocanos on money matters.

The BSP program known as Knowledge Resource Network (KRN) aims to enhance the public’s understanding of economic and financial concepts and issues. By reaching out to the LGU libraries, more stakeholders will be able to appreciate more what is economic development and how it can bring in opportunities to local communities.

To formalize this undertaking, members of the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) unanimously approved Draft Resolution No. 2017-11-121 on January 15, 2018, authorizing Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos to enter a memorandum of understanding with the BSP for the implementation of the KRN.

Senior SP member Matthew Joseph Manotoc said BSP publications such as books, reports, guides, manuals, primers and brochures, as well as online publications and research assistance services are now available to the public in a small corner of the provincial library located at the Centennial Arena, this city.

PrimeWater Ilocos Norte-INWD partnership launch first ‘Grand Walk the Line’ activity

PrimeWater Ilocos Norte employee repairing the leaking meter set up.
By Dominic B. dela Cruz

The dedicated partnership of PrimeWater Ilocos Norte and the Ilocos Norte Water District (INWD) launched its first ever Grand Walk the Line (GWTL) activity on December 29, 2017.

This activity is an intensified street-by-street leak detection program aimed to combat non-revenue water (NRW). Around 25 employees from both PrimeWater Ilocos Norte and the INWD walked along the water main lines to check for any irregularities relating to water services: from leaks to illegal connections, which form part of the partnership’s NRW.

The partners held the GWTL activity on a designated “Supply Zone 5”, which covers the southern part of Laoag: Brgys. Nangalisan A & B, Buttong, Darayday, Raraburan, Tangid, Nalbo, Bengcag, Cabungaan A & B, Araniw, Zamboanga, Gabu Norte & Sur, Cavit, Mangato, Balatong and Balacad. They found a total of five leaks, one illegal connection, and 56 for meter standardization during the said activity. The partnership then immediately applied appropriate actions to each of the findings.

NRW is the water loss due to variety of factors but is mainly attributable to leakages. These NRW were supposed to be consumed by the concessionaires in the served areas, however, lost mainly because of leaking pipelines. The aforesaid GWTL Activity greatly helped the partnership not only in identifying leaks but also in identifying other irregularities pertaining to its water services, which are all crucial in combatting NRW.

The result of low-level of NRW, which is the aim of the above said activity, are increased water supply and higher pressure in the served areas of the partnership. This, in turn, will benefit the people of Ilocos Norte. The partnership also plans to continue the conduct of this walk the line activity in order to address NRW.

PrimeWater Ilocos Norte and the INWD employees who participated in the
Grand Walk the Line Activity, at Brgy. Gabu, Laoag City.
With this initiative, and all the future projects in line, PrimeWater Ilocos Norte and the INWD are optimistic that the partnership will be able to achieve its goal of providing quality and sustainable water supply and services to its service areas, all for the betterment of life of the people of Ilocos Norte.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

DOTr oks P128M LIA upgrade

Staff reporter
LAOAG CITY—Following the upgrading of facilities at the Laoag International Airport (LIA), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has granted the released of about PHP128 million for its expansion and improvement.

Provincial legal officer, Atty. Herme Labayog confirmed this as he said the Ilocos Norte government represented by Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” Marcos and the DOTr represented by Undersecretary for legal Affairs and Procurement, Atty. Reinier Paul Yebra already signed a four-page memorandum of agreement.

After the MOA signing, Mr. Labayog reported that they expect the release of at least 15 % of the total amount at the soonest possible time to kick-off the Laoag expansion project.

As cited in the MOA, the DOTr shall fund the acquisition of affected lots and the improvements found in the area including administrative costs, disturbance compensation, assistance to displaced people, transfer and registration of land titles, procurement of the services of an independent property appraiser or a government financial institution and for purposes of property appraisal.

Meanwhile, the Ilocos Norte government shall facilitate the acquisition of affected lots and resettlement with the affected persons in support of the national government project.

To conform with the International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommendation Practices and with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Manual of Standards for Aerodromes, the national government included the Laoag airport development among its priority projects of the for this year.

Two years ago, LIA officials increased rental fees of stall occupants at the Laoag airport to infuse more funds for various improvement projects of the airport.

Ronald Estabillo, Civil Aviation Authority terminal manager for the Laoag airport earlier said the existing rates for the developed and undeveloped portions occupied by stall owners here were very minimal considering that the last increase was during the latter part of 1990s.

From a rental fee of PHP20 per square meter for undeveloped parts outside the Laoag airport and PHP30 per square meter for stalls occupying inside the airport, the rental fees increased by more than a hundred percent.

PVO intensifies vaccination of stray dogs in Pagudpud

Staff reporter

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte–The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) intensified the monitoring of stray dogs in this town to control rabies.

Dr. Loida Valenzuela, PVO chief said one patient here diagnosed with rabies recently alerted them.

According to Ms. Valenzuela, Ilocos Norte is eyeing a “rabies-free province” declaration; however, with this recent case, the declaration will likely not come yet.

The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) through the Provincial Rabies Control Council (PRCC), in partnership with the PVO and international organization Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), has eradicated rabies cases for the past three years.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and warm-blooded animals, with dogs being the most commonly involved. Early signs include fever and tingling at the bite site, usually followed by violent excitability, a fear of water, paralysis in some parts of the body, or loss of consciousness. Once symptoms appear, the disease is nearly fatal. They usually show one to three months after the bite.

The PRCC record shows that from nearly 20 canine rabies cases in 2011, cases of both human and canine rabies have been at zero standstill since 2014.

As of this posting, the PVET has tapped the Bantay Rabies sa Barangay Volunteers (BRBV) organized since 2015 to monitor such cases.

Ms. Valenzuela reiterated to residents to care for their pets properly and ensure that they are free from stressful situations such as exposure to hot daytime temperatures or confinement to a leash or cage all day.

Eco-friendly Solsona school inspires students, community to heal the earth

Staff reporter

Solsona, Ilocos Norte—Students and visitors entering the Solsona National High School will have a renewed spirit the moment they are out of the school campus in Brgy. Manalpac in this town.

Nestled at the foot of the mountain overlooking a green corn fields, the SNHS offers a breath a fresh air with its clean environment, well-kept rooms akin to a 21st century school with wide and flat screen television sets, cheerful students, and a model of recycled plastic and tin materials converted into pocket vegetable gardens and ornamental plants.

As an alumna of this school, Rose Baja says her face always lit up every time she visits her school with so many improvements now since she graduated 30 years ago.

Ms. Baja said she takes pride of her alma mater for nurturing its students and for caring the planet.

Inside the enormous compound of the school are beautiful landscapes of potted and hanging plants that adorn the pathway.

Inspiring and catchy signages that advocates call for saving Mother Earth are on flowering trees of the school’s front lawn.

Here are just some of the statements that ring a bell to every visitor when entering SNHS. “We heal the earth, we heal ourselves”, “The call is urgent, Save Mother Earth,” and “It is our duty to save environment’s beauty.”

At the back and sideways of the school, green leafy vegetables such as pechay, radish, malunggay, ampalaya and string beans among others fill the area.

They also planted Dragon fruit plants in between concrete posts including a greenhouse of assorted plants. The school also maintains vermiculture project for their own composting of biodegradable materials which they convert into organic fertilizer.

The healthy plants are being well-maintained by its students and teachers as each classroom takes charge of their own yards.

After a school tour, Guillerma Bareng, SNHS head teacher reported their school placed second in the regional search for sustainable and eco-friendly schools in Region 1.

Initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the search aims to encourage academic institutions to become more actively involved in environmental issues and to develop skills and understanding among students and employees on proper waste management, paper conservation, energy efficiency and conservation, pollution prevention and greening program.

Apart from the award, Ruby Paguyo of Brgy. Bagbag shared her happiness and gratitude to her former teachers and classmates at SNHS for molding her spirit of volunteerism and for inspiring her as a steward of nature where ever she may go.

“My alma mater taught me everything about the importance of caring for the only planet we live in and I would gladly pass this on to the younger generation,” she said beaming with smile.

Monday, February 26, 2018

St. Therese pilgrim relics visits Ilocos Norte anew

The Laoag City government welcomes the pilgrim relics of St. Therese from Lisieux, France. The visit is part of the St. Therese’s four-month visit to the Philippines.  (Doms dela Cruz)

Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Hundreds of devotees swarm the pilgrim relics of St. Therese as they offered prayers and roses to venerate the saint.

Touching down at the Laoag airport on January 15, 2018 via military plane, a crowd of local government, school, church and religious leaders welcomed the relics on its fourth visit to the Philippines.

Enclosed in a golden reliquary some bone fragments of St. Therese, personnel of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office carried the relics while members of the Knights of Columbus helped in crowd control.

From the airport, organizers conducted a motorcade all the way to the St. William Cathedral in downtown Laoag.

On the same day, Monsignor Leo Ruiz led the concelebrated welcome mass, attended by hundreds of Catholics, mostly from Laoag and its neighboring towns.

The pilgrim relics also made stops in front of the Laoag City Hall, Ilocos Norte Provincial Jail, and at the Provincial Hospital.

Record shows that she is one of the most popular Catholic saints. As a doctor of the church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study, and as an appealing young woman, whose message has touched the lives of millions, she remains the focus of much-popular devotion up to this day, said in a primer of the pilgrim relic’s visit.

For Rosita Macalipis of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, she said the life of St. Therese as a nun when she was still alive inspired her “to live simply with great devotion to God amidst all trials.”

From Metro Manila, the pilgrim relics will be in the Diocese of Laoag until January 18 and to over 40 dioceses from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao until May 31.

After an overnight stay and veneration at the Carmelite Monastery on the evening of January 15, 2018, Father Rey Magus Respicio reported the pilgrim relics’ transfer to the Mary Cause of Our Joy College Seminary in neighboring Bacarra, Ilocos Norte on January 16, 2018 for an overnight vigil with the seminarians and then at the Capuchin Monastery before moving it to Baguio City.

The pilgrim relics of St. Therese have visited the country in 2000, 2008 and 2013.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also called Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, was born on January 2, 1873, in Alençon, France. She died at the age of 24.

Ilocos ‘black gold’ sustains livelihood of Burgos residents

Staff reporter
Burgos, Ilocos Norte—Gamet, a pricey seasonal seaweed that grows on sharp and slippery coral stones in the coastline of this town continues to sustain the livelihood of residents here.

From November to March, seaweed pickers brave the cold breeze and strong waves to collect gamet akin to a Japanese nori. Ilocano salad, soups and omelet dishes often feature gamet.

For Burgos town residents, they consider this a “black gold” as it commands a high price in the market. A square foot size when dried costs an average of PHP500. Because of its nutritious content and light weight, mostly balikbayans and tourists buy this for take-home or pasalubong to friends and relatives.

For 58-year-old Natividad Parica of Brgy. Bayog, she said gamet picking has already been a way of life for her family.

Mrs. Parica recalled that at the age of 10, she already started joining elders to pick gamet to help earn a living.

During the gamet season, she and her husband would go to the coastal rock formations where gamet grows.

At one time, she recalled a huge wave crashed down on her almost dragging her to the sea her while picking gamet.

Though many consider gamet gathering as “death-defying”, the Parica couple acknowledged it helped them a lot in sending their children to school.

“We are thankful for having this gift of nature. We were able to send our children and finished a degree in college because of gamet,” said Mrs. Parica.

Another gamet picker, Gelacio Vila, 57, also shared how gamet picking improved his family’s lifestyle.

With nine growing children, Mr.  Vila said it was through gamet picking that his children were able to finish college.

Now, the Vila couple enjoys traveling abroad courtesy of their children.

As a tribute to this town’s ‘black gold’, the Brgy. Poblacion government led by barangay chairperson Joegie Jimenez annually celebrates gamet festival every end month of December as a way of thanksgiving.

One of the major highlights of the festival is to recognize the “skills and expertise” of gamet pickers which have uplifted the economic condition of residents in the area.

According to Mr. Jimenez, the gamet industry forms part of the rich culture and tradition of the Burgos townsfolk hence, it is just fitting to recognize the gamet pickers for their immense contribution to the local economy.

Making great strides: INWD-PrimeWater breaks ground for water project

Ceremonial Opening led by Ilocos Norte governor Imee R. Marcos and other Guests—Engr. Fe Rebancos, GM John Teodoro, Dir. Zenaida Mariano, Dir. Rodrigo Pagtulingan, Dir. Nicetos Campos, Dir. Norman Rabago, Dir. Ameurfina Respicio and BM Jan Joseph Sta. Barbara.

By Dominic B. dela Cruz

PrimeWater Ilocos Norte, in partnership with the Ilocos Norte Water District (INWD), made another great stride as the joint venture celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the pipelaying project at Brgy. Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte on January 16, 2018.

This project is a 2,200-meter Pipelaying of 350mm diameter pipe along the national highway, from Sitio Tamucalao to Sitio Liwliwa, Brgy. Buyon in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Bacarra.

The project will benefit the people by providing an increased pressure of water, availability of water supply to 5,000 concessionaires of Laoag and Bacarra, and availability of water supply during the hot summer season.

Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos led the groundbreaking ceremony.

Joining her were other government officials including Engr. Nestor Pasion of the DPWH Ilocos Norte District 1; Dingras Water District general manager Corazon Guira; Batac Water District general manager Maria Dohna Sagun; and Sarrat Water District general manager Florence Gelacio.

INWD and PrimeWater officials were also in attendance during the said event: chairperson Zenaida Mariano of the INWD Board of Directors, together with Dir. Norman Rabago, Dir. Ameurfina Respicio, Dir. Nicetos Campos, Dir. Rodrigo Pagtulingan; INWD general manager John Teodoro; Engr. Fe T. Rebancos, President of PrimeWater; Engr. Olim Gusi, PrimeWater Senior Consultant; and Engr. Jan Joseph Sta. Barbara, PrimeWater Ilocos Norte Branch Manager.

Guests of the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the 2,200-meter pipelaying of 350mm Diameter Pipe at Brgy. Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. (from left) Engr. Jan Joseph C. Sta. Barbara, Mr. John Teodoro, Engr. Fe. T. Rebancos, Hon. Imee R. Marcos, Chairperson Zenaida Mariano, Dir. Ameurfina Respicio, Engr. Nestor Pasion
Ms. Marcos said she is grateful to the INWD-PrimeWater partnership for its efforts in improving the water supply and services of Ilocos Norte. According to her, finally after some years, these cooperative efforts of both partners can now assure the people of Ilocos Norte of a more progressive and improved quality of water service, which in turn translates to a better quality of life.

This project is an initiative of the partnership that makes crystal clear its dedication of providing quality and sustainable water supply and services to its concessionaire. With this enterprise, and the future projects in line, the INWD and PrimeWater are enthusiastic that their partnership will be a huge success and will be for the benefit of the people of Ilocos Norte.

On November 2017, the INWD commenced partnership with PrimeWater. As front-runners of robust economic development and growth, the partnership envisaged to provide standard based water supply and services and to balance the future water supply and demand requirements, as well as septage management services, of the Province of Ilocos Norte.

PGIN eyes revival of 50% discount on student fares

Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—With the expected increase prices of oil and petroleum products and other basic commodities due to the recently implemented tax reform law, the Ilocos Norte provincial government is eyeing the revival of subsidized public transport services to students from marginalized families.

As one of the pilot projects of the Ilocos Norte government, they launched the Sirib transport service for students last year, giving gas subsidy to public utility jeepneys and buses.

In return, these registered PUJs and buses shall give 50% discount on student fares.

For students to avail of discounted fares, they only need to show their valid identification cards.

As of this posting, Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos said they are still finalizing with the Commission on Audit (COA) the arrangement since COA intensified the auditing rules.

“We want to maintain high school attendance and not to fall back from so many out of school youths. We want to comply with COA pero minsan hindi masyadong maliwanag ang mga rules,” said Ms. Marcos.

On January 8, 2018, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan unanimously approved Draft Provincial Resolution No. 2018-01-131, granting authority to the provincial government of Ilocos Norte to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the different jeepney operators and drivers’ association for the provision of transport service and subsidy for students.

Provincial officials expect the Sirib transport service to benefit student-commuters in far flung areas mostly covering the second district of the province.

Organized by the Metro Ilocos Norte Council, they are now finalizing a memorandum of agreement for signing.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Americans first, not illegal aliens first

What country in the world puts the welfare of illegal aliens ahead of its own citizens? The federal government was partially shut down for three days early this week because the Democrats in the U.S. Senate did not want to vote for a spending bill to get the government going unless the bill included a provision giving amnesty to alien children who were brought to the United States illegally. The Senate Democrats were sacrificing the interest of the American people for the benefit of illegal aliens. The Democrats were putting the welfare of illegal aliens first, rather than the welfare of Americans first.
Even the liberal, pro-Democratic party newspapers printed denunciations of this political misconduct.

USA Today, quoted Thomas Hicks Jr. of The Hill, as saying:

“Never before in American history has a major political party put the interests of lawbreaking foreign nationals ahead of the interests of law-abiding Americans. Yet that is exactly what the Democrats have done in holding the government hostage to extract special favors for illegal immigrants. . . They call Americans ‘deplorables’ and illegal immigrants ‘dreamers.’ That tells you everything you need to know about the Democrats’ upside-down worldview.”  USA Today 01/22/28 p 7A.

USA Today also quoted Michael Velsmid of Nantucket, Mass. who said:

“The government shutdown is the ‘Schumer shutdown.’ Non-essential government workers will probably not be going to work any time soon. Since they are non-essential, perhaps they can spend more time with their families for good – including politicians from both parties. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, with crocodile tears, tried to explain why he needed to tie a ‘dreamer’ legislative issue to the budget, knowing full well that a stand-alone dreamer bill would not get enough votes to pass as written.

“Schumer’s obvious ulterior motive is to get 800,000 new Democratic voters in the pipeline, as many of the dreamers have reached voting age. Nice try, trying to fool the new sheriff in town.”  USA Today 01/22/28 p 7A.

The following day the Senate Democrats capitulated and voted for the spending bill without a provision giving amnesty to illegal aliens.

Promote and protect national interest
America’s immigration laws are intended to promote and protect the national interest. What is the “national interest” in giving amnesty to illegal aliens? Our immigration laws prohibit aliens from entering the United States without a visa unless they are covered by the visa waiver program. Apparently none of these children are covered by the visa waiver program which covers mainly countries whose dominant population is white.

The claim by certain illegal alien coddlers that these children are not at fault has no merit. Fault or lack of it is not the test for being allowed to enter or remain in the United States.

There was an Asian woman who bought green cards from an immigration officer in California for herself and her children. When they were found out, they were ordered deported. The children were not at fault.

There were a number of Filipino children who were brought illegally by their father to the United States. Their father had misrepresented to the U.S. Embassy that the children’s grandfather (who had petitioned their father) was still alive. Somebody reported them to immigration authorities and they were all placed in deportation proceedings. The Immigration Judge asked one of the children whether he knew that his grandfather was dead and that it was illegal for them to come to the United States since their grandfather who had petitioned their father was dead. The child said that he knew his grandfather was dead but did not know that it was illegal for them to come to the United States. The child said that when his father told the children that they were coming to America he did not ask questions. The Immigration Judge ordered him deported anyway, apparently not believing him. The other child was asked the same question and gave the same answer. The Judge also ordered the child deported. We appealed the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and asked that they be granted cancellation of removal. We did not ask for amnesty. We pointed out that the Immigration Judge had granted relief to their father, so why should not the children be given relief? We won on appeal.

The immigration laws provide relief for aliens who enter or remain in the United States illegally. Why should not these illegal alien children (reportedly numbering 800,000) seek to avail of the relief provided by existing laws? Why should they be treated differently and more favorably than other children who came to the United States illegally? Each of them should be treated on a case by case basis rather than be given amnesty on a wholesale basis. Otherwise, there would be denial of the equal protection of the laws.

Amnesty breeds contempt for law
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 gave amnesty to more than three million illegal aliens. The law was premised on the hope that it would stop the flow of illegal aliens. Thirty years later there are an estimated eleven million illegal aliens in the United States. If amnesty is given to them, in another thirty years there will be thirty million illegal aliens. Giving amnesty to lawbreakers breeds more law breakers. Potential lawbreakers will say to themselves “I don’t give a damn about breaking the law, anyway I will be given amnesty if I am caught.”

Amnesty unfair to law abiding
Giving amnesty to lawbreakers is very unfair to the tens of thousands of law abiding immigrants who have been petitioned by their relatives in the United States and whose visas have been approved. They are just waiting for their visas to become available since their quota has been filled up. Many, like the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, have been waiting for more than 23 years.

If compassion is to be the primary consideration for allowing aliens to come to the United States, America should take care of these law abiding people first. Law abiding people should be treated better than lawbreakers.

I suggest that the United States government allow such alien relatives with approved visa petitions to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa and await their immigrant visas to become available here so that they can be reunited with their families sooner. Such non-immigrant visa may be called “X visa”
(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School where he specialized in Constitutional Law. He has also a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He placed third in the Philippine Bar Examination in 1956. His current practice focuses on immigration law and criminal defense. He writes law books for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. He has a radio show in Honolulu, Hawaii with his son Noel, senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon law firm, where they discuss legal and political issues. Office: American Savings Bank Tower, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 2305, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: Website: He served as a U.S. Immigration Officer. He is co-author with former Judge Artemio S. Tipon of the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws” and co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. Atty. Tipon has personally experienced the entire immigration cycle by entering the United States on a non-immigrant working visa to write law books, adjusting his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, and becoming a naturalized United States citizen.)

Ilocos Norte gov’t gets P2M more for Chinese garden development

Ilocos Norte governor Imee R. Marcos receives the check from Chinese consul Wang Jianqun. (Alaric Yanos photo)

Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—The Ilocos Norte provincial government is currently developing a Chinese garden overlooking the legendary Paoay Lake as an added attraction for tourists.

This is strategically located near the Malacañang of the North, former residence of the Marcos family turned into a presidential museum and a favorite venue for wedding receptions.

In a recent meeting, the People’s Republic of China represented by Wang Jianqun, consul and head of post of the Chinese Consulate based in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, turned over around PHP2 million more to Ilocos Norte governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee’ R. Marcos for the provincial government for the development of the Chinese garden which broke ground in January last year.

With the increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting the province, the People’s Republic of China and the Ilocos Norte government previously signed a 2017 memorandum of agreement for the development of a Chinese garden. The total project cost is worth PHP4 million.

Engineer Cecilia Gagarin of the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) said the implementation of the project was supposed to have begun last year but numerous activities delayed its completion.

Once completed, provincial officials expect the Chinese garden to boost the local attractions as this can become part of the travel itinerary of mostly Chinese tourists visiting the province all year round.

On January 14, 2018, the 13-storey Superstar Virgo resumed its route again to the Port of Currimao ferrying passengers en route to Manila, Taiwan and Japan.

The Chinese Consulate office established since 2007 in the province has sustained its friendly ties with the Ilocos Norte government, assisting the latter particularly on agriculture, trade and tourism development.

LGBTs decry discrimination in Mr. Laoag

Laoag City could be one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the Philippines. A third of its elected councilors are openly and proudly gay. There’s Rbee Ablan who comes from a prominent political family, businessman Handy Lao, and Mikee Fariñas who happens to be a daughter of the power couple—the Laoag city mayor and vice mayor. All three city councilors ran on a platform of gender equality and promised to promote gender-sensitive legislation. True to their promise, they pushed for the passage of The Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Laoag City which is currently under review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Moreover, Laoag mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas is known to be friendly with the LGBT community, and she has placed gay people in prominent positions in her administration. Gender discrimination was unheard of at the Laoag City Hall…

Until lately. It comes as a surprise that there is much resentment among members of the local LGBT community at this time because of an issue surrounding an event spearheaded ironically by Mr. Lao—the Mister Laoag pageant.

Some believe organizers rejected one aspirant on account of his suspected relationship with a gay person. The basis? A photo of him in an intimate pose with a transgender. Note that the picture showed no nudity or any taint lewdness, but did give event organizers a hint that the aspirant could be in a same-sex relationship. During the interview held open to the public, the seven-member panel asked the controversial aspirant (CA) if it is true. Out on the spot, he denied it. The panel also felt at liberty to ask CA what roles he played in bed. Note that they did not ask these questions to all candidates.

Thirty-six applicants vied for 16 slots, and CA did not make the cut. In an interview, Mr. Lao explained to me that they assessed every aspirant holistically and that they also assessed the total personality of each aspirant. While Mr. Lao believed that they did not rate CA rated based on one issue alone, the councilor did not deny that the issue could have, indeed, hurt his chances. It was a hairsplitting decision. Of the seven members of the selection panel, 4 voted to reject CA while 3 wanted him in. Mr. Lao was with the minority.

According to insiders, the organizers were worried at how having CA would affect the reputation of the show. Mr. Lao said they also wanted to protect the candidate from possible bashing and ridicule. They felt it was not time to have a candidate like CA in Mister Laoag.

There was outrage among LGBT members in Ilocos. Feeling insulted and rejected, they cried foul. They were quick to point out about hypocrisy and double standards. They felt betrayed by the bigoted act, especially because friends committed them. Those friends send the messages loud and clear: Having a same-sex relationship will deny you opportunities; LGBT relationships ruin credibility.

Mr. Lao was well-aware of the outrage, and, in an interview with me, he confessed to have shed tears over the controversy. While he stands for the collegial decision of the screening panel, he accepts that shortcomings and excesses they may have been committed. These, he said, they will seriously address in the next editions of Mister Laoag. As of our time of interview, the councilor is yet to reach out to CA or the members of the LGBT community. He said he was still collecting his thoughts and planning how to proceed.

“Needless to say, yes, something like that happened,” remarked Ms. Fariñas, promising to look closer into the matter. As an advocate for equality and respect that is due all human beings in the city, the councilor says the issue disturbs her. “I don’t think anybody should be judged based on their relationships because acceptance and respect inspire human persons to perform better and do well.” He said that the mayor will gather parties concerned to shed light on the unfortunate controversy.

Mr. Ablan, for his part, stressed that he will never tolerate discrimination. “I, for one, suffered from discrimination almost all my life. I know how it feels and I know what a person in this situation goes through,” he shared before asking, “Do we all have to have the same lives to enjoy the same rights?”

Aian Raquel, provincial tourism officer, makes this sad note, “Everybody knows what’s happening. No amount of sugarcoating and euphemism can hide homophobia even within the bakla circles.”

It is my fervent and sincere hope, dear karikna, that all concerned will properly address this issue so that we can honestly advance the right of individuals to freely affirm their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

As for Laoag City and its illusions of LGBT advancement, the bubble has burst. Only if we successfully shrug off the medieval, parochial, bigoted tendencies of people—especially those who make decisions that bear an impact on our collective consciousness—can we truly move forward.

We wish the Mister Laoag pageant well, and its pure, immaculate, unsullied reputation, and I seriously pray that they settle this issue in the soonest time. There should be no place for hate and hurt, not only because we will be celebrating the Laoag City Fiesta and Ilocos Norte’s bicentennial in the next days, but more because every day we struggle in a world already filled with manmade misery and conflict, to live and let live.

Laoag City gets own science high school

By Dominic B. dela Cruz

Laoag City—The city will soon have its own national science high school following the signing of the law creating it, Laoag vice mayor Michael V. Fariñas announced.

The vice mayor disclosed that President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the law creating the science high school in December last year.

He added that the Senate also approved the school’s name after Rodolfo C.G. Fariñas Jr., the late son of Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” C. Fariñas (Ilocos Norte, 1st district).

The city government planned to place the science high school in front of Vira Elementary School near the bypass road. The school’s design will follow Philippine Science High School model.

Mr. Fariñas divulged further that the bidding for the project happened on December 27, 2017. He expressed hopes that construction will start soon.

The city government originally owns part of the 1.8-hectare lot for the school, they later purchased the rest of lot using the city’s School Board Fund.

The lot is the city government’s contribution for the school while the Dept. of Education will shoulder the funding for the construction of the school.

Mr. Fariñas also revealed that as per a text message from Rep. Fariñas, the master plan for the school includes a gymnasium and dormitories. The buildings and classrooms, he added, will have “21st century type” design.

He added, however, that with the inclusion of a gymnasium and dormitories, the city government will have to buy the surrounding lots on the proposed site to accommodate the addition.

He said the project has an initial budget of PHP102 million.

Rep. Fariñas authored the bill calling for the establishment of a Laoag City National Science High School.

The Laoag DepEd will oversee the school’s staff.

Earlier, the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a certification approving the proposed site of the school.

The proposed Laoag science high school will be the second in Region I following the Philippine Science High School in San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

DTI: No price control of prime commodities

Staff reporter
LAOAG CITY— Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial director Benjamin Garcia clarified that there is no need to impose price controls of prime commodities following a hike in prices of manufactured goods due to the expected round of oil price increases.

In view of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, Mr. Garcia said the cost of basic and prime commodities are likely to increase by five percent on its distribution costs due to increase in fuel.

In Laoag City, the DTI is on top of monitoring price increases of basic and prime commodities but as of now, Mr. Garcia said there is no price increase yet.

He clarified that DTI gives “suggested retail prices” and if someone goes overboard without necessary justification, these erring individuals could be charge with profiteering.

“As of the moment, manufacturers are still reviewing how much to be charge. So, as far as basic commodities like coffee, milk and soap among others are concerned, there is no increase yet,” Mr. Garcia said.

The TRAIN law is the first package of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) envisioned by the administration of President Duterte, which seeks to correct several deficiencies in the tax system to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient.