Two tea rose marble slabs seized in Angat, Bulacan

Marje Pelayo   •   January 21, 2019   •   2001

Blocks of tea marble confiscated by Bulacan Environmental and Natural Resources (BENRO)

BULACAN, Philippines – Two blocks of tea marble measuring 5.3 cubic meters each were confiscated by members of the Bulacan Environmental and Natural Resources (BENRO) on Saturday (January 19) in Angat, Bulacan.

According to BENRO Head Elizabeth Apresto, a tipster informed them of the suspicious movement of goods in Barangay Kalawakan, Donya Remedios Trinidad involving two dump trucks.

“Noong time na na-intercept sila, wala pa ang PNP pero tinawagan ko ang tao ko na puntahan ang PNP Angat,” Apresto said.

BENRO personnel immediately positioned at possible exit points and eventually intercepted the contraband.

Among the convoy of the two trucks was the vehicle of a certain ‘Sy’ who introduced himself as an official of Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporation.

According to initial report, the two tea rose marble slabs were among the 257 slabs confiscated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2008 in Barangay Kalawakan.

The slabs were formerly owned by Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporations but the DENR awarded the ownership to the provincial government in 2015.

Apresto added that the transport permit Sy presented dated January 11, 2010 was already expired and rebooked.

“Inaakala nila kanila pa rin pero hindi napo dahil kanselado na. Dapat ito sa provincial government na po dahil na-i-award na nga po ito sa amin. Wala po silang karapatan na ibyahe po ito dahil kanselado na po ang kanilang Mineral Production Sharing Agreement,” Apresto explained.

Meanwhile, Sy escaped on the way to Camp Alejo in Malolos, Bulacan to surrender the confiscated slabs.

“Noong time na dadalhin na namin sila dito at na-impound na namin dito sa kampo, sumusunod naman po siya. Siguro po ang pagkukulang namin ay dapat nalagyan ng pulis doon sa sasakyan niya,” the environment official said.

BENRO will file a case for violating R.A 7942 or the Mining Act of 1995 and the Provincial Ordinance C-005/ 2011 of the Revised Environmental Code against the two drivers of the trucks identified as Dennis Villarin and Jenel Dagon as well as the owner of the dump trucks Michael Lee.

Sy will also be held liable for the incident.

Kung may papel sila ayusin nila para kami po hindi po kami madamay. Kasi nagtratrabaho lang kami. Akala namin okay. Kami trabaho lang, hindi namin alam ang ganitong sitwasyon na mahalaga pala ang karga naming,” lamented Dagon.

Meanwhile, Apresto revealed that 160 of the 257 tea rose marble slabs owned by the provincial government were already purchased by a Chinese national named Charley Ang for US$500 per cubic meters.

Ang was the winning bidder during the public bidding held last year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nestor Torres)

Bulacan Congressman Villarica contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 27, 2020

Bulacan Fourth District Representative Henry Villarica

MANILA, Philippines – Bulacan Fourth District Representative Henry Villarica has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), House of Representatives Secretary-General Atty. Jose Luis Montales confirmed Thursday.

Montales said Villarica last reported for work at the House on March 4, and was admitted to the hospital on March 18 for pneumonia.

On March 8, he attended an event hosted by Baliuag, Bulacan Mayor Ferdie Estrella, who was earlier reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.

The secretary-general said Villarica is now in stable condition, while none of his staff have manifested any symptoms.

Montales said the Medical Department of the House of Representatives is now tracing all those who may have had contact with the virus-infected solon.

Villarica is the latest lawmaker to have contracted the viral disease.

ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Go Yap earlier tested positive for coronavirus, as well as Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Sonny Angara.

Aside from Estrella, local officials who got infected with the virus are Rizal Governor Nini Ynares, and Naic, Cavite Mayor Junio Dualan.

The Department of Health on Thursday reported 71 new cases, bringing the total confirmed infections to 707. The number of fatalities also rose to 45 while 28 have recovered. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

ERRATUM:
The House of Representatives issued an erratum on the date of Rep. Villarica’s confinement which was on March 18 instead of March 12 as previously reported. Revision has been made accordingly.

ASF scare vexes pork meat vendors, lechon makers in Bulacan

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

BULACAN, Philippines – The pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF) has so far affected five barangays in the municipality of Guiguinto.

These are barangays Tiaong, Kut-Kot, Malis, Tabe and Pritil.

Hog raisers are already complaining over huge loss of income.

Even pork meat vendors and lechon makers in the province are also hurt by the ASF outbreak.

Based on records of the Municipal Veterinary Office, over a hundred pigs have already died in these areas since August 16.

Authorities suspect that the pigs delivered from Rizal may have been the source of the spread of ASF in Guiguinto.

“Dinadala dito. Doon sila humahango (The pigs are brought here from there [Rizal]) ,” said Guiguinto Municipal Veterinary Officer Eduardo Jose.

“Pagdating dyan naunang nagkaroon ng report sa Rodriguez. Nag-suspect ang provincial veterinary office na nadala dito sa Pritil, (The report first surfaced in Rodriguez. The provincial veterinary office suspected that the virus was brought here in Pritil)” Jose said.

Hog raisers are starting to complain over huge loss of income due to ASF outbreak.

“Dito po namin inilibing ang labinlimang baboy na namatay kahapon. Affected po ang Pritil, (This is where we buried 15 pigs that died yesterday. Pritil is also affected),” said hog raiser Sofia Verde.

Verde said she already lost more than 100 pigs including a sow.

Barangay Pritil for now does not accept delivery of pigs from Rizal and Batangas due to ASF outbreak.

Aside from pork meat vendors, lechon makers in Bulacan are also hurt by the outbreak as buyers of the Filipino pork delicacy have become fewer.

“Matumal talaga. Nasasabay pa yung balita na (African Swine Fever) sa baboy, (Sales have been slow, and news about African Swine Fever is making it worse),” noted lechon maker Minda Atim.

Some pork meat vendors whose products were certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) said they were not exempted from the impact of ASF scare.

They blame the media for fueling the flames when it comes to ASF.

“Ang nangyari kasi malakas rin ang (impluwensiya) ng media, (The influence of media is strong),” said Lisa Apolinario, a pork meat vendor.

“Napapakita, napapanood na akala nila ganun na lahat ng paninda. Maayos ang paninda namin kasi may certificate naman kami (When people see it on TV they think all pork being sold in the market are affected. Our products are safe because we have certificates),” Apolinario argued.

Meanwhile, some consumers prefer to be safe by buying other sources of protein instead of pork meat.

 “Mga seafood na lang binibili namin and chicken, (We prefer to buy seafood and chicken),” said Paula Angeles.

“Mas maganda mag-ingat na lang po ngayon, (It’s better to be cautious,)” another consumer, Jane Art said.

“Kapag wala na siguro yung case ng swine (fever) saka na lang siguro magbaboy, (When the case of (African) Swine (Fever) is cleared, that’s the time we could buy pork again),” she concluded. – MNP (with reports from Nestor Torres)

DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak; call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in a press release admitted that the current African Swine Fever (ASF) episodes in Rizal and Bulacan may be considered an outbreak but not yet an epidemic.

The Department assured, however, that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

The agency, through Secretary William Dar, stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country thus it appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed that the cases of pig deaths in Rizal and Bulacan have been at outbreak level since August this year.

“Basta na-confirm na ito’y tumaas doon sa normally expected na nagkakasakit at normal na bilang ng namamatay, outbreak na iyon. August po iyon,” Director Ronnie Domingo said in an interview on Monday (September 16) when asked as to when the outbreak started.

(If the confirmed number of pig deaths goes beyond the normal number of expected deaths, that’s outbreak already. That was the case in August.)

The agency, meanwhile, doesn’t want to confirm what the Quezon City government announced regarding ASF-positive pigs amid culling operations in the city.

According to Domingo, they are still conducting laboratory tests on the pig samples including those that floated in a creek in Bagong Silangan as well as those recovered in Marikina River.

The official echoed Secretary Dar’s call on hog raisers to report pigs that had gone sick in order to prevent the spread of the deadly swine virus.

“Sana makalaya tayo kaagad in the shortest possible time (We hope to end this (problem) in the shortest possible time),” Domingo said.

“Pero pagka may nagtatago at ganyan na hindi nakikisama, mae-extend ang control measures na ginagawa (natin) (But if there are some who conceal [their hogs], we need to extend our control measures),” he added. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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