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Another suspect in OFW slay charged



BACOLOD City — Another suspect in the murder of Negrense domestic helper Maribel Alpas had been charged.

Senior Insp. Eric de Venancio, police chief of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, identified the suspect as Roginald Samson alias “Jojo,” brother of Dennis Samson, employer of Alpas.

De Venancio said a murder case was filed yesterday with the Nueva Ecija Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Cabanatuan City.

Other suspects in the killing who had been charged earlier were Dennis, his brother-in-law Elcielo Valdez and a John Doe.

Roginald was the caretaker of the house of Dennis and his wife, Girlie, in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija. He was also a known drug pusher and addict, De Venancio said.

Alpas, 31, of Brgy. Asia, Hinobaan, Negros Occidental, had been decapitated. Her head was found by a farmer in a bucket in an irrigation canal in Brgy. San Fernando Sur, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, on March 25.

She was identified through the passport and some documents found with her head.


Meanwhile, Hinobaan Mayor Ernesto Estrao had said Scene of Crime Operatives have confirmed that the ashes and bones found at the Samson compound in Sta. Rosa belonged to the body of Alpas.

Police were able to secure a warrant to search the Samson house for Alpas’ body after the case was filed against Dennis and Valdez.

A neighbor told investigators that he had heard a woman’s scream from the compound around the time when Alpas was possibly killed, de Venancio said.

He said they also found documents owned by Alpas in the PVC pipe of the house’s septic tank and drug paraphernalia inside the house.


De Venancio said the murder could have been a crime of passion; one of the suspects may have had feelings for her and did not want her to return to London.

It could also be that the suspects, who may have been high on drugs, raped the victim before beheading her and burning her body, he said.

Police were still determining the identity of the John Doe, who could be the driver of the vehicle Valdez used to fetch Alpas upon arriving in Nueva Ecija from Negros on March 20.

Estrao said Alpas’ family will wait until the charges are filed in court before having the victim’s head cremated to be brought home for a proper burial.

Police had temporarily buried Alpas’ head in the Cabiao cemetery./PN


Direct flights from Japan to Negros eyed



BACOLOD City — Officials from Ibaraki, Japan have proposed to Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. to have direct flights from the prefecture to Negros Occidental.

Led by Ibaraki Vice Chairman Kikuchi Toshiabe, they presented the plan to Marañon in a courtesy call at the Provincial Capitol on Tuesday.

Toshiabe said there are currently 7,900 Filipino workers in Ibaraki prefecture alone.

Marañon welcomed the plan, saying the flights would be a big boost to Negros’ economy and tourism. He said the Japanese officials were looking for an airline that will take the route.

“Ibaraki is 80 kilometers from Tokyo, and [the use of] facilities [at the Ibaraki airport is] cheaper compared to Japan’s main Narita International Airport,” he said.

The governor said the estimated travel time from Negros Occidental to Ibaraki is four hours and 30 minutes.

Traveling from Ibaraki to the capital city of Tokyo is cheaper, too, with bus fare at only 500 yen, compared to moving from Narita airport (65 kilometers) also via bus at 3,000 yen, said Marañon.

Also, the landing fee at the Ibaraki airport is one-third of the cost at Narita airport, he said.

Marañon said the Bacolod-Silay Airport is ready to accommodate direct flights from Japan despite its lack of immigration facilities, citing flights from Russia and South Korea the airport already takes in.

Ibaraki officials who were with Toshiabe were Okabe Hideaki, Masahiro Aoki, Sato Nobuo and Dr. Terunuma Hideya.

Toshiabe said the prefecture government also plans to hire domestic helpers, construction workers and nurses from Negros Occidental.

Public-Private Partnership Center executive director Cosette Canilao earlier said the government plans to roll out 15 projects worth a total of $14 billion, or roughly P630 billion, including the $208.98-million operation and maintenance contract for the Bacolod airport.

Contracts for the airports in Laguindingan, Bohol, Puerto Princesa, Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo, will give to the private sector the operation, maintenance and commercial management of the facilities, including future investments for capacity expansion, Canilao had said./PN


Mall commits to protect nature



BACOLOD City — The SM mall here has hosted various activities in celebration of the Earth Day the other day.

Joining the Earth Day celebration was the mall’s way to commit to environmental protection, said George Jardiolin, SM-Bacolod manager.

One of the earth-friendly initiatives the mall is continuously pushing through is the solid waste segregation, which should be complied with by all tenants of the mall, said Jardiolin.

May Castro, the mall’s public relations manager, said their Earth Day celebration started early this month with song and art contests.

There were art exhibits around the city, including the mall, and a tree-planting activity and a citywide cleanup, she said.

An “Earth Walk” was also held from the Provincial Capitol Lagoon, passing by the city public plaza, toward the SM transport hub. An “Earth Jam” capped the celebration, said Castro.

On the days prior to the highlight on Tuesday, SM-Bacolod displayed organic produce in an eco-exhibit at SM East Bridgeway and SM’s reusable shopping bags.

It also hosted a mini exhibit of “eco-inventions” by students of the Negros Occidental National High School.

The “artificial leg” invention of David Collins Alvanez, who used chicken feathers to make the fiber mat, and the “pedal shredder” of Nicole Tajanlangit, Ruth Nombre and Kathleen Presquito, were displayed.

Activities on art were spearheaded by Pastor Arthur Bayles, president of Christian Artists Negrense Visual Arts Society, or Canvas, through the office of Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue.

Mayor Monico Puentevella, who led the ribbon-cutting that opened Earth Day at SM-Bacolod, thanked the mall for hosting the event.

“Let us celebrate Earth Day by preserving the Earth and helping mitigate climate change,” Puentevella said.

This year’s local Earth Day celebration had the theme “Kalibutan Amligan, Aton Suguran.”

Accompanying Puentevella during the opening were Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya and Emilta Balinario, administrative officer of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Jardiolin said all SM Supermalls simultaneously observed the Earth Day./PN


Negros MERS-free



BACOLOD City — Two remaining Negrenses quarantined for possible Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) infection tested negative for the virus.

Now, Negros Occidental is “MERS-CoV-free,” Provincial Health Officer Ernell Tumimbang yesterday declared.

Six Negrenses had been called in for swab tests to determine if they had been infected by the virus after boarding an Arab airline carrying a Filipino nurse who earlier tested positive for MERS-CoV.

The nurse had come into contact with a Filipino paramedic who died due to the virus in United Arab Emirates, but did not show any symptoms, Tumimbang said.

He was already with his family on Etihad Airlines flight EY 0424 bound for Manila when the result indicating he was infected came out. When he underwent a retest in the Philippines, the result was negative, said Tumimbang.

“We need to monitor the cases in Manila,” he stressed.

MERS-CoV is communicable via close contact with a carrier. It has an incubation period of 10–14 days. Symptoms may include fever, coughing, sneezing and runny nose two weeks after exposure./PN


‘Secure biz permit or face penalties’ Bacolod resort mired in controversy


BACOLOD City — All establishments in this city that do not have a business permit yet must secure one within two weeks. Failure to do so will get them penalized, warned Mayor Monico Puentevella.

A task force headed by Atty. Caesar Beloria is making inspection rounds in all businesses in the metro, Puentevella said, adding that the campaign for the acquisition of business permit will be “comprehensive and aggressive.”

He said the city government is doing its best to beautify the city and improve traffic and solid waste management, so it would only be fair for businesses to operate legally.

Puentevella made the announcement amid the controversy involving Villa Iska beach resort in Brgy. Punta Taytay here.

The resort, owned by Rey Francis Cabuga, Cathy Cabuga and Jessamine Daclizon, and boasts of a two-storey building and swimming pools, was allegedly operating without a business permit.

A source from the resort said they started a “dry run” of their operations during the Holy Week.

The resort opens daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an entrance fee of P150 for four years old and above and P75 for three years old and below.

Puentevella said he ordered the closure of the resort and disallowed its operation until it secures a business permit.

Aside from lacking a business permit, it appears that the resort is in for more trouble.

It had encroached at least 30 meters of property prohibited for occupation under the Foreshore Lease Agreement, based on a report from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), the City Council committee on laws and ordinances said.

It also said that, according to the City Legal Office (CLO), the resort’s two swimming pools, cottages and concrete fence have reached the sea and thus were on a State property, and that its reclamation project at the sea had no permit from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Philippine Ports Authority.

The owners applied for a certificate of non-coverage with the Environmental Management Bureau, but the agency said they should have applied for an environmental compliance certificate, said the committee.

They also admitted that they failed to secure a building permit for the swimming pool and the cottages and got only a building permit for a restaurant, not a resort, the Office of the Building Official (OBO) said.

The CENRO, OBO and CLO will investigate and issue a notice of violation, which would also serve as a work stoppage order.

Council Caesar Distrito, the committee chair, said the resort’s operation without a business permit was “a clear defiance of our law, an insult to the (City Council), [and] a slap on the face of the mayor and other city officials.”

The management of Villa Iska will be required to explain the basis of their operation, Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya said./PN

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