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Chus of Ormoc clarifies legal issues against family member

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ORMOC CITY – Following the publication of a “Wanted” notice in the January 27, 2023 issue of SuperBalita Cebu, which sought to “inform the public that a warrant of arrest has been issued against” the couple Lorenzo M. Baltonado, Jr. and Jerlyn Joyce S. Baltonado and Michelle Lim Go whose pictures accompanied said notice, the prominent Chu family of this city whom Michelle married into was quick to speak to EV Mail to clarify the legal issues hounding said family member.

In an exchange with a family member, who asked not to be named, she said in a text message that as much as their family wants to keep Michelle’s legal issues a private matter, the publication of the “Wanted” notice and mention of a pending warrant of arrest against her forced them to come out so they could defend the family and Michelle’s honor. “Michelle’s name has been mercilessly dragged through the mud by the filing of multiple cases against her,” she said, adding that, “the past few days have brought an immense amount of sadness and pain to our family.”

According to the same source, these cases against Michelle are based on the “flimsiest evidence” and “have also been filed in such a manner so as to deny Michelle her constitutional right to due process.”

“In all of these cases, Michelle’s postal address has been consistently mislabeled. Because of the mislabeling of her address, Michelle has been deprived of the opportunity to answer these accusations against her,” she added.

She went on to share that after a thorough consultation with their legal counsel, and with the family’s consent, they now have a pending motion in the “Honorable Court to recall the warrant of arrest issued against Michelle.” “As much as we want justice to prevail, we pray that Michelle be heard first. Michelle is just a victim in this case,” ended the unnamed family member’s text message to the EV Mail. By Jima Zandra J. Vergara (EV Mail January 23-29, 2023 issue)

Mayors Lucy, Nacional among RPMD’s best-performing public officials

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ORMOC CITY – Two (2) mayors in region 8 have been identified and included in the recent list of best-performing public officials in the Philippines by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD) analytics team.

Accordingly, Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres Gomez and Maasin City Mayor Nacional Mercado tied for fifth place with an overall performance of 85 percent. This, after the RPMD analytics team conducted extensive statistical research following the publication of the country’s top national and cabinet officials; and to determine the top public officials in the Philippines, the top performers who scored highest in each region were reordered according to their percentage score based on the data collected from respective constituents.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte emerged as the best performing Metro Manila mayor with a 95 percent approval rating, according to the said survey, and was followed by Candon City Mayor Eric Singson and Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes tied in second place with an identical 94 percent approval rating.

Sta. Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas came in third with an 88 percent rating, and was followed by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who received an 86 percent rating.

The RPMD analytics team, accordingly, successfully identified the best-performing public officials in the Philippines out of 148 city mayors, 253 district representatives, and 81 governors through the conduct of extensive statistical research. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

Mayor Veloso’s brother arrested for illegal possession of firearms

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ORMOC CITY – The brother of San Isidro, Leyte Mayor Remedio Veloso is said to have been apprehended by the Criminal Investigation and Detective Group (CIDG) operatives in the morning of January 19, 2023 in Barangay Paril and Linao in San Isidro, Leyte for illegal possession of firearms.

Arrested were Emmanuel “Wing-wing” Balmoria Veloso, 67 years old, and house caretaker Mark Rio Martinez Castillo, 45 years old, during a raid on two houses owned by a businessman and the brother of a slain municipal administrator of the said town.

The arrested individuals were nabbed by virtue of a search warrant against Veloso for illegal possession of firearms issued by Hon. Judge Carlos Arguelles of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in Baybay City, Leyte.

Recovered from Veloso’s house were one (1) super .38 colt pistol with 7 live ammunitions, one (1) magazine with 10 live ammunitions of the same pistol, and fifteen (15) live shotgun ammunitions.

On the other hand, recovered from Castillo were one (1) .45 caliber pistol with eight (8) live ammunitions, one (1) magazine of the same calibre with eight (8) live ammunitions, and a holster.

According to the police, the said operation stemmed from a complaint from a concerned citizen pertaining to Veloso’s possession of firearms.

Veloso and Castillo are now in the custody of the CIDG and will be charged for violation of RA 10591, the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Law. Veloso, accordingly, is also the younger brother of Juanita Veloso, the former municipal administrator of San Isidro, Leyte. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

Baybay nutrition program boosts rootcrop farmers

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BAYBAY CITY – When the price of copra was at its lowest in 2019, Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari advised the farmers to plant sweet potato instead – not only due to a shorter gestation period but kamote also commands a higher price and will give them a higher income.

“If you plant kamote on a 100-square meter land, you can harvest 350 kilos and earn PHP 8,750 in one harvest,” he said. The idea caught the interest of small farmers.

Since then, a root crop processing center has been established that buys kamote from the farmers while the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) donated an ice cream maker, which makes potato-based ice cream that is sold at the pasalubong center.

Last Wednesday, January 18, kamote takes another leap with the launching of the “Baybay City Delight’s Sweet Potato Baby Food and Milk Drink,” where the lowly root crop, and carabao milk, are the vital components of the city’s nutrition program.

Under the nutrition program, malnourished children in the city will be fed with Baybay Delights Sweet Potato Baby Food for 90 days while lactating mothers who lacks nutrition will be provided with Baybay Delights Sweet Potato Milk Drink for 92 days.

The launching of Baybay Delights’ Sweet Potato Baby Food and Milk Drink was held in Barangay Caridad, a community hosting the most number of pregnant women in the city.

“Our agricultural programs must be connected to our nutrition program to encourage our farmers to produce more,” Cari said.

Cari said the city government will provide funds to sustain the said program. “We will be expecting results, specifically its impact on the nutritional status of the children and the nutritionally at-risk pregnant women,” he said.

Dr. Julie Diamante Tan, a retired professor of the Visayas State University, says kamote is considered a ‘superfood.’ She said it is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, high in antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage and chronic disease, contain fiber and antioxidants, and are rich in beta carotene and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help improve eye health.

DOST Leyte Provincial Director Ocaña said the program is laudable as it aims to eradicate malnutrition using cheap alternatives such as kamote. Ocaña said DOST will provide the necessary technical assistance in the packaging and to extend the shelf life of the product so that mothers may keep them, even without refrigeration, and so that other local government units (LGUs) may be able to replicate it. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

EDC launches BINHI vegetative materials reproduction nursery

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ORMOC CITY – For Energy Development Corporation (EDC) to be able to provide BINHI native tree species to its partners in the region and spread awareness about reforestation as a vital solution to our warming planet, an EDC BINHI Vegetative Materials Reproduction (VMR) nursery located in Brgy. Tongonan, this city, was made possible and, thereafter, successfully launched on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

The nursery uses a state-of-the-art, automated mist irrigation system. Its sensors can be programmed to automatically turn on the mist irrigation at the right time and with the appropriate moisture content, giving off just the right amount of mist to mimic natural forest habitat conditions.

The said automated VMR nursery will assist EDC’s BINHI team in propagating the region’s threatened native tree species, such as Katmon Bayani, Mapilig, Almaciga, and other dipterocarp species. 

The facility, accordingly, is critical to the company’s thrust of mainstreaming native trees as it addresses the non-availability of planting materials or the rarity of tree species due to their threatened status.

BINHI, on the one hand, is EDC’s landmark 15-year-old greening legacy program that has been bridging forest gaps and propagating 96 flagship Philippine native tree species, a number of which have already been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on nature conservation.

Meanwhile, EDC’s 711-megawatt Leyte geothermal facility currently supplies more than 30 percent of the country’s installed geothermal capacity, and is responsible for putting the Philippines on the map as the world’s third largest geothermal producer, providing a reliable supply of clean power to the Luzon and Visayas regions for almost 40 years. Finally, environmental protection is one of EDC’s top priorities, with an extensive environmental program being implemented across all of the company’s project sites, which portfolio includes forest restoration, watershed protection, advocacy and mainstreaming of Philippine native trees, biodiversity conservation, and assistance to local communities in the company’s operating areas in developing social and conservation enterprises. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

Suspects in Veloso slay charged

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CASES OF murder and attempted murder were filed against four suspects in the fatal shooting of Juanita Veloso in Kananga, Leyte last December 21, 2022.

Provincial Director Police Col. Edwin Balles of the Leyte Provincial Police Office (LPPO) said the cases were filed at the Leyte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against James Damayo, Archie Cosinillo and two other John Does last January 18, 2023. Damayo and Cosinillo are both residents of Tabango, Leyte.

Veloso, an older sister of San Isidro, Leyte Mayor Remedio Veloso, was shot to death by the assailant along the National Highway of Brgy. Libongao, Kananga, Leyte at about 4:30 in the afternoon of December 21, 2022 while on their way home from Ormoc City.

Mayor Veloso’s wife Leleena, 61, and driver Edmil Bacay, who were together with the victim in the vehicle, were both unharmed.

Balles formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident, which the public perceived to be politically motivated. In less than a month, the SITG wrapped up its investigation with the filing of criminal cases against the suspects.

“I commend the efforts and dedication of our police operatives in making an effective case-build up against the suspects,” Balles said.

He said the cooperation of the members of the community as well as the witnesses, supported by the CCTV footage recovered in the course of the investigation, played a vital role in the effective information gathering, which eventually led to the successful filing of criminal charges. 

“The Task Group was able to successfully gather pieces of evidence coupled with the sufficient information, proper coordination with other law enforcement units,” he added. Balles said the formal filing of the criminal cases against the suspects is a relief for the family, relatives, and friends of Veloso. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

DAR-8 to distribute 2.5k land titles in Eastern Visayas

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TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agrarian Reform in Eastern Visayas (DAR-8) is set to distribute over 2,500 of land titles to individual agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) whose lands are still covered by collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CCLOAs).

DAR-8 regional director Robert Anthony Yu said 2,591 electronically generated titles (E-titles) covering an aggregate area of 3,922 hectares will be distributed to 1,839 agrarian reform beneficiaries next week. DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III will lead the distribution of land titles.

Yu said the distribution of individual land titles to ARBs is made possible through DAR’s Support to Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project. The project, funded by the World Bank, aims to fast track the parcelization of agricultural landholdings that are covered by CCLOA but are not collectively farmed or operated in an integrated manner by the beneficiaries.

The SPLIT project intends to cover around 139,000 CCLOAs involving 1.38 million hectares of landholdings in 77 provinces and 1,252 municipalities all over the country. These landholdings were supposed to be subdivided among around a million ARBs when the titles were issued in the 1990s.

A DAR study published in February 2020 shows that the unsubdivided collective titles for more than 20 years has resulted to issues like boundary conflicts, susceptibility to encroachment by non-beneficiaries, impediments in land amortization payments and second-generation land transfers to heirs of deceased ARBs, among others.

“These issues negatively impact on the ARBs’ ownership of their awarded lands and left them eventually holding insecure and unstable property rights,” the study said.

In Eastern Visayas, Yu further said that 220,473 hectares of agricultural lands situated in different parts of the region covered by 17,496 collective CLOAs are included in the World Bank-funded SPLIT project.

He added that DAR-8 has so far validated about 67,601 hectares with CCLOA, while 3,922 hectares have been issued with E-titles. President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., in one cabinet meeting, ordered DAR to speed up the distribution of lands to potential ARBs. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

FROM MATALOM W/ LOVE 2: Wealth Fund

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Dear Atty. Golo,

Ngano daghan mang mo reklamo sa “Sovereign Wealth Fund” nga para man sa katawhan. Mo “believe” jud ta sa ato mga “leaders” kay da best gud na sila. Ang mga “congresista” maoy “watchdog.” Mag “unite” na ta aron mobalik pag-asenso ang Pilipinas. Kakita jud ko sa Tiktok. Hayahay kaayo ang Pinas pag Martial Law. Way record sa pangurakot ang ato governo. Daghan lang Marites karon, kusog magduda. Pareha sa akong asawa, kon dugay ko mouli magduda nang “chicks” ko, simhoton hasta ang ako pundijo.

31 Milyon gud me, Edie,

Dear Edie,

Sa Malaysia, na bangkarota ang ila “wealth fund” kay gibulsa sa ila Prime Minister. Di ka maka basol sa mga tawo nga mapaaw kay sila ang tag-iya sa kwarta. Ang record sa ato mga leader kadudahan, dili mobayad og buhis, og binilyon ang kwarta gihakot ngadto sa Switzerland niadtong Martial Law (G.R. No. 152154). Korte Suprema ang nag-ingon, dili Tiktok. Ang 31 million nailad na, ang 80 million ilaronon pa. Ayaw’g salig sa mga “watchdog” nga buaya. Pasalamat ka ang misimhot nimo asawa, dili buaya.

Imo amigo, Manny G. Golo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

THE PASSERBY: The making of the self-righteous

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WHAT IS to be self-righteous? It’s when we base our idea of what is right and wrong, good and bad on our own estimation of things with hardly any reference to God. Or there might be some references to God, as usually the case, but in the end, it is our own ideas that would prevail. In other words, when we make ourselves our own law.

We are reminded of this danger in that gospel episode where Christ asked some Pharisees if it was lawful to cure a man with a withered hand on a sabbath. (cfr. Mk 3,1-6) What should have been an easy, common-sensical answer to make turned the Pharisees mad, even thinking of how to eliminate Christ. Their position typifies the rigidity of a self-righteous mind.

The common phenomenon of self-righteousness can be considered as the irony of ironies. That’s because one can earnestly pursue the path of holiness, of what is good and right, and yet ends up the opposite of what he wants. He can practically have the trappings of goodness and holiness and yet misses the real root of righteousness who is God. It can be so self-deceiving that one becomes fully convinced he is righteous.

The main problem with self-righteousness is when one’s search for holiness does not go all the way. His relation with God, his understanding of God’s will and ways only goes to a certain extent. Usually it stops at that point where he feels he already knows everything. In other words, he makes himself the ultimate judge of things, discarding the many other things of God’s will and ways that may still be hidden in mysteries.

This was well personified by the Pharisees, scribes and other elders during the time of Christ. They preferred to stick to their own ideas of goodness and holiness, their own laws and traditions, and went all the way not only to be suspicious of Christ, always finding fault in him, but also to finally crucify him.

This danger of self-righteousness usually affects people who are considered intelligent, gifted, talented. They often regard themselves, either in an open way or in a hidden way, superior to others.

If one is truly righteous with a righteousness that is a participation of the righteousness of God, then he should include in his idea of goodness and holiness the essential virtues of humility, compassion and mercy. He always defers to the ultimate judgment of God. Whatever judgment he makes is always open to God’s judgment.

He should have the love that God manifested in Christ, the God made man to offer us the way, truth and the real life meant for us. And that love includes love of one’s enemies. It’s a love that can go all the way to offer one’s life not only for his friends but also for his enemies. This is the real test of a truly righteous person.

Yes, it’s true that Christ said that that there can be no greater love than when a man lays down his life for his friends. (cfr. Jn 15,13) But St. Paul said that “God proves his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5,8)

In other words, even if we consider ourselves enemies of God because of our sins, God continues to love us. For God, we are all his friends, his beloved, no matter what the circumstances are. We have to reflect this kind of righteousness of God! If there are those who do not love us in return, that’s their problem, not ours. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)

R&D BUZZ AND BYTES: Knowing animal emotions

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WE CAN NOW decode pigs’ emotions. Using thousands of acoustic recordings gathered throughout the lives of pigs, an international team of researchers is the first in the world to translate pig grunts into actual emotions.

Researchers recorded 7,414 sounds from 411 pigs in different scenarios, from birth to death. A machine learning algorithm was trained to decode whether pig calls can be classified as a function of positive or negative emotions.

With this study, it has been demonstrated that animal sounds provide great insight into their emotions. It also shows that an algorithm can be used to decode and understand the emotions of pigs, which is an important step towards improved animal welfare for livestock.

The researchers recorded pig sounds in both commercial and experimental scenarios, which based on the behavior of the pigs, are either associated with a positive and negative emotion. Positive situations included, for example, those when piglets suckle from their mothers or when they are united with their family after being separated. The emotionally negative situations included, among others, separation, fights between piglets, castration and slaughter.

In experimental areas, the researchers also created various mock scenarios for the pigs, designed to evoke more nuanced emotions in the middle of the spectrum. These included an arena with toys or food and a corresponding arena without any stimuli. The researchers also placed new and unfamiliar objects in the arena for the pigs to interact with. Along the way, the pigs’ calls, behavior and heart rates were monitored and recorded when possible.

The researchers then analyzed the audio recordings to see if there was a pattern in the sounds as a function of the emotions, and if they could discern the positive situations and emotions from the negative ones. As already shown in previous research, the researchers collected more high-frequency calls (such as screams and squeals) in negative situations. At the same time, low-frequency calls (such as barks and grunts) occurred both in situations where the pigs experienced positive or negative emotions.

The situations between the extremes were particularly interesting. With an even more thorough analysis of the sound files, the researchers found a new pattern that revealed what the pigs experienced in certain situations in even greater detail.

The study of animal emotions is a relatively new field that has come about over the last 20 years. Today, it is widely accepted that the mental health of livestock is important for their overall well-being. Nevertheless, today’s animal welfare focuses primarily on the physical health of livestock. Indeed, several systems exist that can automatically monitor an animal’s physical health for a farmer. Will this kind of research catch on in the third world? Not here yet, since we are still busy catching crooks and cash for research funds. By Manny Palomar, PhD (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)