A transport holiday against the never-ending increases in petroleum prices, skirmishes in the island between the New People’s Army and government forces, a manhunt against former officials involved in murder cases, the planned putting up of power plants in the province – these were some of the top stories that made it to the front page last week.
They will continue to be in the news this week.
Drivers, businessmen to hold two-day transport strike
Public transportation is expected to grind to a halt next week during a two-day transport holiday to protest rising fuel prices.
The United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC) will lead the May 16 to 17 protest action that is being backed by business organizations here.
Details of the two-day transport holiday will still be finalized, UNDOC secretary general Jessie Ortega said.
Ortega added that Benjamin Ortega of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry has assured them that will also close their stores if no public transport will enter the downtown area.
This, however, is not assured yet since UNDOC’s affiliates are mostly jeepney organizations outside Bacolod while those within the city belong to the Federation of Bacolod City Drivers Associations (FEBACDA) that is allied with the 1-Utak partylist.
FEBACDA has yet to issue an official statement if it is joining a protest action but its chairperson, Elizabeth Katalbas, had earlier said that they will not join strikes because drivers will suffer from lack of incomes.
She added that they are also backing plans by 1-Utak to put up fuel stations where public utility drivers can avail of discounts.
But even without Febacda, Ortega is confident that the mid-May protest will be widely supported because aside from businessmen, sectoral organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will also be joining them.
The No To Oil Price Hike (No to OPH) Alliance, which is composed of other organizations outside of Bayan is also backing the transport strike.
The demands of the transport strike will include the repeal of the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act that Ortega calls as the “root of all evil” amid the continuing hike in petroleum prices.
They will also be calling for government’s intervention to lower pump prices in Negros Occidental that is higher compared to other places in the country.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Councilor Dindo Ramos said the City Legal Office is still studying options in the filing of a class suit against oil companies for their skewed pricing scheme.
Ramos, who first broached the idea of filing a suit similar to that filed by provincial officials in Cebu, said the CLO will come up with a recommendation.
One of the angles being studied by City Hall lawyers is the joint filing of a case by the provincial and city governments in court against the oil corporations.
Jessie Ortega said UNDOC is not inclined to take part in the class suit because this will restrict their staging of mass actions.
Four guerrillas killed, six more wounded in NPA friendly fire incident
(UPDATED) Four Red fighters of the New People’s Army were killed while six more were wounded in what was described by the Philippine Army as a “misencounter” in northern Negros Occidental.
The incident reportedly took place around 4:30 p.m. of May 5 but was confirmed by the Army to have taken place only last Saturday, May 7.
“Most of those killed were women,” Col. Jonas Sumagaysay, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade.
Sumagaysay, interviewed by local radio station dyEZ Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod, said two units of the NPA clashed by mistake in the border villages of Toboso town and Escalante City.
During the Saturday interview, Sumagaysay said only one rebel was killed but by yesterday, the Army reported the deaths of three more rebels.
He identified one of them as Ka Aiza.
No bodies, however, were recovered by the Army.
The clash was reported by the Army three days after an officer of the Scout Ranger was killed in Sta. Catalina town, Oriental Negros during a firefight between NPA rebels.
Slain was Capt. Wilson Montengro of the 2nd Scout Ranger Company while Private First Class Rocky Javier of the 1st SR Company was wounded in a separate encounter.
Negros Island is one of the strongholds of the NPA in the 80s.
Negros Occidental is considered as the sugar bowl of the islands and continues to be home to big landowners including former Marcos crony Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
Two former generals, one ex-village chief now running men
Special police units and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation are now tracking down two former police generals and an ex-village chief in Silay City.
All are wanted for murder.
Former chief superintendents Vicente Ponteras and George Bajelot, Jr. are two of at least 12 members of the National Police who have been charged for the abduction and death of then Pahanocoy village chief Eleuterio Salabas, his nephew Maximo Lomoljo, Jr. and maritime instructor Ricardo Suganob.
Fresh arrest warrants were issued by Judge Teresa Soriaso of the Manila Regional Trial Court for Ponteras and Bajelot after convicting two of their co-accused – former chief inspectors Jimmy Fortaleza and Clarence Dongail – and another policeman, SPO2 Freddie Natividad.
Twelve policemen have already been named and included in the charge sheet but only Fortaleza, Dongail and Natividad have been tried in court.
Dongail and Natividad were nabbed while Fortaleza surrendered.
The abduction took place August 31 of 2003.
Suganob and Lomoljo were found dead the next day while Salabas’ body was fished off the waters of Ajuy town in Iloilo province several weeks after the abduction.
Ponteras ran for mayor of Bacolod City in the 2007 elections but lost.
He was not seen after an arrest warrant was issued against him.
Capitan Ramon massacre
Lawmen are also hunting for former Capitan Ramon village chief Noel Ayalin who is the lone suspect in the slaying of four village kagawads.
Ayalin is facing a charge of four counts of multiple murder and one count of attempted murder.
The former village chief barged into the barangay hall of Capitan Ramon and gunned down Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson Imee Occeña, 16, and barangay councilors Luzviminda Cotamen, 45, Freddie Juno, 58, and Pedrito Orocio, 52.
They were about to start their council meeting on that morning of March 6.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Maranon has offered an initial reward money of P100,000 for Ayalin’s arrest.
It has now reached P500,000 but Ayalin has not yet been arrested.
This has prompted speculations that a prominent personality has been hiding Ayalin, suspicions that the police said are not probable.
Cops now on the lookout for armed robbers
Bacolod City cops weary by running after illegal gambling operators and bet collectors, mostly after bet collectors, are now on the lookout for armed robbers.
The Bacolod City Police Office said this group is out to target banks in the province.
Butcher who tried to butcher self still in hospital
A butcher tried to kill himself and landed in the hospital, instead.
The family of the victim, whose name we are withholding, did not tell policemen about his attempt to kill himself.
We are also withholding all the other details about him.
The victim’s guts spilled out after he slashed his stomach with a large and sharp knife known here as plamingko. After sensing the pain, he then stabbed his throat.
He was rushed to a government hospital and is recovering from his wounds.