Tag Archive: Cagayan

A littoral observatory station. (Navy photo)

A littoral observatory station. (Navy photo)

The Navy plans to upgrade its base in Cagayan and is set to put up more surveillance stations in Northern Luzon to boost maritime awareness, a ranking official said.

Up for development is Naval Base Camilo Osias, the forward operating base in Cagayan’s northernmost town of Sta. Ana, said Captain Albert Mogol, commander of Naval Task Force 11.

“[What will be developed there is] our capability to respond and to monitor whatever activities are happening in that area to protect our interests in the north,” Mogol said in a recent interview with reporters.

The base, which has its own airstrip, was “primarily” for humanitarian and disaster response activities, he said.

Mogol’s remarks came in the wake of reports that foreign poachers increased activities in waters around Cagayan and neighboring Batanes.

Recently, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that even Taiwan Coast Guard ships have been entering waters near Batanes and had engaged its smaller patrol boats in two standoffs.

Mogol said earlier that the Navy has already set up a “littoral observatory station” in Batanes to help monitor the entry of foreign vessels.

Marine troopers are manning the facility, which shares a building with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, he said.

More surveillance stations

Mogol said more littoral observatory stations are set to be put up in different areas of Northern Luzon soon.

“We are expanding, ang concentration natin is ‘yung situational awareness, ‘pag sinabi nating situational awareness, may radar, monitoring stations, kasi ‘yun ang kailangan natin dahil mahaba ‘yung coastline natin,” he said.

“We’ll be putting up several observatory stations in areas na hindi natin masyadong nakikita ‘yung nangyayari,” the official said.

In September 2013, then Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command chief Gregorio Pio Catapang announced a proposal to put up littoral observatory stations in Batanes, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, and Aurora.

The Navy expects to set up six more “fixed” littoral observatory stations in different parts of the country this year in addition to the 20 it already has, according to a brochure it published in 2014.

The force will also use the frigates BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, as well as seven helicopters, as “mobile” observatory stations and link these to the fixed facilities, according to the document. (John Roson)

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Anguib Beach. Touted as Cagayan's version of Boracay with its powdery white sand and clear waters.

Anguib Beach. Touted as Cagayan’s version of Boracay with its powdery white sand and clear waters.

Santa Ana, Cagayan – The prospect of hosting American troops is slowly getting known in this once-sleepy northern town, and hopes are high that such an event would give the growing local tourism industry a further boost.

Santa Ana has not been mentioned before as one of the areas eyed for U.S. troop activities under the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin hinted that the town is among those that are being considered.

“This still to be agreed upon,” Gazmin said in a mobile-phone message.

American troop presence here is seen as advantageous for the ill-equipped Philippine military, which already has its hands full with China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea and also has to check the entry of Chinese and Taiwanese poachers in the north.

Located in the north-eastern tip of Luzon Island, Santa Ana hosts the Naval Base Camilo Osias, which has an airfield that can accommodate military aircraft like C-130 planes.

The base also has a harbor on the Babuyan Channel that links the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, where the Benham Rise – another Philippine territory in need of protection – is located.

Local officials confirmed learning of the possible hosting of U.S. troops but asked not to be named in reports, saying the national government is the one handling the matter.

“Some Americans arrived here recently to make an inspection,” one said.


Patrolers. The Navy gunboat BRP Hilario Ruiz and a BFAR surveillance vessel tasked to patrol the northern seas, docked at Santa Ana's port.

Patrolers. The Navy gunboat BRP Hilario Ruiz and a BFAR surveillance vessel tasked to patrol the northern seas, docked at Santa Ana’s port.

Major Emmanuel Garcia, the Armed Forces’ civil relations officer for Northern Luzon, declined to comment on the possible U.S. troop visits but admitted the need to beef up security in the northern territories.

Only two vessels, a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship manned by Coast Guard personnel and a Navy gunboat, are stationed here to patrol the seas up to the Batanes group of islands bordering Taiwan.

Awareness of the country’s northern territories is also still “not that good,” exposing these to encroachment by foreign poachers, Garcia said.

“We are not still that aware of our northern territories, even myself, I don’t know what’s happening there now. Especially in the seven uninhabited islands of Batanes,” he said after launching a dragon boat race with local officials here Friday.

The boat race, participated by soldiers, will be followed by similar activities and tourism campaigns in Batanes to raise that awareness, Garcia said.

Charlotte Collado, public affairs officer at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), said they welcome the possible entry of US troops and hope to benefit from it.

“We welcome it, especially if it will benefit the local community. We just hope that our protected areas will remain as they are now,” she said.


Standing tall. Lighthouse at Cape Engaño in Palaui Island where "Survivor: Cagayan" was mostly filmed.

Standing tall. Lighthouse at Cape Engaño in Palaui Island where “Survivor: Cagayan” was mostly filmed.

Previously known only for a port where one can buy imported second-hand cars and a hotel with a casino, Santa Ana now also banks on a newfound strength in tourism brought by its hosting of a season of American reality show Survivor.

The show’s 28th season was filmed mostly in Santa Ana’s Palaui Island and Anguib beach from July to August 2013, with preparations starting as early as April.

“Survivor: Cagayan” aired from February 26 to May 21 this year.

“After Surivivor, we were overwhelmed with the influx of tourists. Now even the locals are coming in,” Collado said.

Some 21,000 tourists have already visited as of May, more than thrice of only 6,000 last year, she said.

Gaudencio Fronda, organizer of a group of fishermen ferrying tourists to Palaui and Anguib, said boat rentals also jumped because of the reality show.

“Many visitors want to see the places where the ‘castaways’ were taken to,” he said.

Boat operators have already earned P2.7 million from “castaway” tours as of May, up from P1.2 million for the whole of 2013, Fronda said.

“Our fishermen are now leaving that industry for tourism, they now only fish for extra income,” he said. (John Roson)

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Eight policemen were killed while seven others were injured in an ambush by New People’s Army (NPA) members in Allacapan, Cagayan, early Monday, police said.

Killed were PO3 Vladimir Tabarejo, PO2 Dexter Cubilla, PO2 Angelbert Mateo, PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated, PO2 Jonnel Bowat, PO2 Ronald Castulo, PO1 Eric Brioso, and PO1 Jerome Sanchez, all members of the Special Action Force’s (SAF) 24th Company, Senior Insp. Cesar Orlanes, Cagayan provincial police spokesman, said in a phone interview.

PO2 Ronald Gomez, PO2 Jeopano Adang, PO2 Ricky Monay, PO2 Jeofrey Amilagan, PO2 Jeofrey Elasco, and PO1 Ephraim Dolete, also members of the SAF’s 24th Company, were still being treated at the hospital as of this writing.

The policemen were passing through the boundary of Brgys. Cataratan and Centro West around 8:30 a.m., when a landmine explosion hit their troop carrier, Orlanes said.

After the blast, about 30 fully-armed rebels fired upon the police team, which was heading towards the town proper to undergo electrocardiogram (ECG) tests, a requirement for an upcoming physical fitness test, he said.

“Some of them (policemen) were even in their athletic uniforms because they were supposed to undergo ECG,” he said.

Despite being injured, some of the policemen engaged the rebels in a firefight, but it was still unknown if the rebels also suffered casualties, Orlanes said.

“Firearms were also reportedly taken from them (policemen), but we have yet to receive information what types these are,” he said.

After the incident, additional policemen arrived at the area to reinforce the ambushed troops and brought the wounded to the Ballesteros District Hospital.

Castulo was among those who were brought to the hospital, but he expired while undergoing treatment, Orlanes said.

Other policemen were still pursuing the rebels as of this writing. (John Roson)

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15 provinces under election watchlist

Authorities have placed 15 provinces placed under a watchlist for possible violence in the upcoming midterm elections, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said.

In a press briefing, Roxas identified the provinces as Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

The provinces, which are home to intense political rivalry, history of armed violence, loose firearms, and private armed groups, are like a “powder keg,” Roxas told reporters.

“Ang mga ito ang may pinaka-high risk na magkaroon ng karahasan,” he said.

More cops on duty, jails checked

Roxas said police task forces will be sent to each of the provinces to help policemen already assigned there in securing the elections.

Police officials that have relatives or classmates who will run for posts in those provinces will be transferred to other areas.

Roxas said jails in the 15 provinces will also undergo a “judicial audit” so authorities can keep tabs of prisoners during the election period.

“Ito’y dahil madalas sinasabi na ang mga preso pinapalabas para gumawa ng karahasan tapos ipapasok lang uli,” he said.

‘The heat is on’

Meanwhile, Roxas said police have already recorded 35 election-related incidents nationwide, including the 15 watchlisted provinces.

“Ngayon pa lang nagkakainitan na,” he said.

In Maguindanao alone, six government officials have already been killed and at four private armed groups were monitored, Deputy Dir. Gen. Alan Purisima, commander of the national police’s election Task Force SAFE, said.

Eighty-five barangays in the province are affected by “threat groups,” Purisima said.

Roxas said 60 active and 47 “potential” private armed groups are being monitored nationwide.

There are 25,065 “loose firearms,” or those in the hands of criminals and rebels, while there are 552,338 firearms whose licenses have not been renewed, he said.

“Kabilang ang mga ito sa mga baril na maaring magamit sa halalan,” he said.

MILF help welcome

Meanwhile, Roxas said he is “open” to suggestions that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which just signed a “framework” peace agreement with the government, be tapped to help secure the elections.

However, Roxas said he still has to consult Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Teresita Deles and chief peace negotiator Marvic Leonen on the matter.

“You have to understand that there’s also been years of mistrust, gaps, but this could be a good confidence-building measure,” he said. (John Roson)

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Rescuers on Saturday were still searching for a former police chief of Baggao, Cagayan, and his companions after the van they were riding on fell off a cliff and into a creek.

“Hanggang ngayon wala pa rin kaming makita doon, ang huli naming na-recover ay ‘yung sliding door ng van noon pang umaga,” Insp. Gerry Roque, Baggao Police deputy chief, said in a phone interview 5 p.m.

“Sana nga (nakaligtas sila)… pero kung makikita mo ‘yung pinangyarihan saka ‘yung itsura ng van, ipe-pray na lang natin na ma-recover ‘yung bangkay,” he said.

Retired Chief Insp. Dominador Serquinia’s van fell off the cliff at Sitio Goloran, Brgy. Bitag, around 6 a.m. Friday.

“Gumulong-gulong, nabasag ‘yung windshield niya at pagkatapos ay nayupi-yupi… malalim (ang kinabagsakan), more or less 30 meters kasi bundok ito. Bumulusok ‘yung sasakyan pababa, hanggang dumiretso dun sa may creek,” Roque said.

The creek’s water level and current were higher and stronger than usual because of the heavy rain that fell the night before, according to the police official.

Serquinia’s son, who is also a policeman, confirmed that the van found at the creek was his father’s, Roque said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Managment Council reported that seven people were in the van but Roque said “witnesses” only saw four, including Serquinia.

Businessmen in Baggao sent heavy equipment to assist rescuers in lifting the van. (John Roson)

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4 rebels killed in Cagayan clash

Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members got killed while three civilians, including a young boy, were injured as government troops clashed with the rebel group in Baggao, Cagayan, early Thursday.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said members of a reconnaissance platoon encountered about 10 rebels in in Sitio Bariwanay, Brgy. San Miguel, around 5:30 a.m.

The troops recovered the bodies of four slain rebels, two M16 rifles, and a shotgun after the clash, Ortiz said in a text message.

No casualties were reported among the soldiers, who are now pursuing the other rebels with additional troops and K9 units, he said.

Meanwhile, Capt. Jovily Cabading, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command, said three civilians, including a young boy, were injured in the crossfire between the rebels and troops of the 17th Infantry Battalion.

Cabading identified the three as Zaldy Durado, 25, Arnold Pasion, 30, and Arnolito Durado, 4, whose finger is slightly wounded.

The soldiers eventually had to stop firing as the rebels sought refuge at a civilian’s house, she said.

Senior Supt. Mao Aplasca, Cagayan provincial police director, said he has sent men near the encounter site to block the rebels’ withdrawal routes. (John Roson)

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