Tag Archive: Northern Luzon


The number of deaths caused by typhoon “Ineng” (international name: Goni) rose further to 15 on Sunday as authorities retrieved more bodies from a landslide-hit part of Mankayan, Benguet, authorities said.

Armando Dayao, Felimon Adcapan, and Jasper Olivarez’s bodies were retrieved from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, after Crispin Ablao was retrieved Saturday afternoon, Benguet provincial police spokesperson Senior Inspector Joyce Ann Dayag said.

All four were among a group of people who went missing after a landslide hit Sitio Elizabeth, Brgy. Taneg, early Saturday.

A landslide washed out shanties used by pocket miners in that area around 3 a.m., Cordillera regional police spokesperson Superintendent Cherry Fajardo said.

After Ablao’s body was retrieved past 2 p.m., residents told police that they were still looking for 18 people.

Search and recue operations had to be halted around 5 p.m. Saturday because of rising water level at the nearby creek, poor visibility, and heavy rain, Fajardo said.

Operations resumed Sunday morning, with 95 policemen from different units deployed, Dayag said.

Dayao, Adcapan, and Olivarez’s bodies were eventually retrieved while Jonie Foster and Marpety Bayagen, who had been among those reported as missing, were found alive, she said.

“Both persons (Foster and Bayagen) were confirmed alive. Accordingly, they went home before the incident happened,” Dayag said.

Thirteen people are still missing in the area as of Sunday afternoon, data provided by the Benguet provincial police showed.

They are Ronaldo Angel, Paulita Angel, Ronald Paul Angel, Hohn Aluyan Jr., Jose Aluyan Jr., Efren Balicdan, Mark Balicdan, Nardo Mocnangan, Marvin Baturi, Harold Baturi, Rocky Mangrubang, Crisanto Ablao, and Ramil Reyes.

Andrew Alex Uy, Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera director, confirmed Ablao, Dayao, Adcapan’s deaths in a report emailed Sunday afternoon.

Olivarez’s death has yet to be included in the regional civil defense unit’s list.

Uy, meanwhile, confirmed a death in Tabuk City, Kalinga.

Julius Gumisa’s body was retrieved 11 a.m. Sunday in Brgy. Suyang, Tabuk, after he went missing in Brgy. Caluttit, Bontoc, Mountain Province, the regional OCD chief said in his report.

Gumisa was the lone fatality of drowning in Cordillera, while the rest died in landslides, according to the report.

Landslides occurred as the mountainous region experienced 721.6-millimeter rainfall, or 78.43 percent of the monthly average 920mm, from August 20 to 23.

“The soil is already saturated,” Uy said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said close to 33,000 persons in Cordillera, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, and Mimaropa fled their homes amid landslides, floods, and tornados at the height of “Ineng.”

Some 12,510 persons went to evacuation centers while 20,407 stayed at the home of relatives. Out of the total number of displaced persons, only 8,426 were evacuated ahead of the storm, the NDRRMC noted.

Incidents caused by “Ineng” also destroyed at least 958 houses in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Batanes, Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Laguna.

The typhoon has also caused at least P124.818 million worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, and Cordillera, according to the NDRRMC. (John Roson)

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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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Foreign poachers are still conducting activities in the Philippines’ northern seas and are now even going closer to the islands of Batanes, officials said Saturday.

“Many of these are Taiwanese fishing boats. Actually they even get near the islands, particularly Itbayat,” Milagros Morales, assistant director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-2 (BFAR-2), said by phone.

“Hindi naman kasing dami as in the past, but they are still there, still visible,” she added.

Morales made the remarks when asked on the status of poaching activities in the Balintang Channel, which borders the Philippines and Taiwan.

Aside from Taiwanese, local fishermen are also reporting sightings of Vietnamese and Chinese poachers, Batanes provincial fisheries officer Angel Encarnacion said in a separate phone interview.

“We don’t know how many there are, but poachers are still coming in even after we arrested one last year,” Encarnacion said, referring to the arrest of Taiwanese Tsai Po off Itbayat on September 3, 2013.

Boats that usually go near the islands are those that catch fish and other marine animals, which are later unloaded to a “mother” vessel lurking far away, he said.

“Local fishermen are reporting the sightings and some have even expressed willingness to go after the poachers, but we remind them not to because we have diplomatic arrangements with Taiwan,” Encarnacion added.

Presently, only one BFAR vessel – manned by Coast Guard members – is patrolling the country’s northern seas.

“Poachers would usually keep out of sight when the vessel patrols and then come back when it’s away,” Morales said.

She said patrols by the BFAR and Coast Guard are still continuing despite “constraining” effects of another incident, where eight Coast Guard personnel were charged homicide after shooting a Taiwanese poacher who intruded Philippine waters on May 9, 2013.

“Dahil sa kaso natin last year, parang helpless tayo, hindi tayo masyadong makagalaw… We have to do it (patrols) because if we will just leave them (poachers) to it, parang nakakasakit naman sa loob na nandiyan lang sila at wala tayong magawa,” she said.

Also because of continuous poaching, the BFAR ordered the construction of a customized boat that would help its vessel conduct patrols, Encarnacion said.

The boat, worth about P1 million, is being fashioned after Taiwanese fishing boats to withstand rough sea conditions in the Balintang Channel and is expected to be launched in June, he said.

The provincial fisheries office also gave a local fishermen’s association another boat, binoculars, navigational equipment, and communication devices so they can help monitor poachers, Encarnacion said.

“We are doing this while waiting for the multi-mission vessels that the national [BFAR] office will send to Batanes,” Encarnacion said.

BFAR director Asis Perez announced earlier this year that the bureau will acquire more than 40 units of 30-footer and 40-footer multi-mission vessels to strengthen visibility and patrols in different parts of the country. (John Roson)

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Camp Aquino, Tarlac – The Armed Forces plans to put up four more radar stations in Northern Luzon to prevent more intrusions into the country’s territory, a top military official said Friday.

“What we want is to have a system where the Navy can detect illegal entries from as far as Batanes to the West Philippine Sea,” Maj. Gen. Gregorio Catapang, chief of the AFP Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), said in a press briefing here.

Catapang said he is now “fine-tuning” a proposal to build radar stations in Batanes, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, and Aurora.

The facilities, called “littoral observatory stations” (LOS), will be helpful in preventing incidents like those that happened in Batanes and Scarborough Shoal, he said.

Capabilities of the existing LOS in Zambales and Pangasinan are “very limited,” he said.

In April 2012, a Navy ship caught Chinese fishermen poaching in Scarborough Shoal off Zambales after being alerted by a reconnaissance plane.

The incident resulted in a “standoff” at the shoal between Philippine and Chinese authorities, before the former withdrew and the latter intensified its presence.

Last May, Coast Guard members tried to apprehend a Taiwanese fisherman poaching off Batanes, but the incident resulted in the latter’s death.

Meanwhile, Catapang said he is considering proposing that Filipino fishermen who can’t fish anymore at Scarborough Shoal because of Chinese authorities be transferred to the Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean.

“Wala tayong kalaban dun,” he said, adding that sea farming could also be considered for the displaced fishermen.

Catapang said the military does not prevent the fishermen from going to Scarborough Shoal, though it’s best not to.

“They are allowed to fish, kaya lang medyo critical ‘yung area (Scarborough), we don’t want them to be in harm’s way,” he said.

Varying numbers of Chinese law enforcement ships, sometimes reaching as high as five, are still being monitored at the shoal, he said.

Seventy-five concrete blocks, which Defense Secretary Voltaire had called a “prelude to construction” by China, are still also scattered around the shoal.

“We don’t intend to remove them, wala namang order sa amin. Ang Armed Forces ninyo kung anong inutos, ‘yun ang gagawin namin,” Catapang said. (John Roson)

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Camp Aquino, Tarlac – The Armed Forces plans to declare the “end” of insurgency in Northern Luzon next year to be able to focus on territorial defense, a top military official said Friday.

Maj. Gen. Gregorio Catapang, AFP Northern Luzon Command chief, made the remark as he reported a “low” number of violent incidents involving the New People’s Army (NPA) in his area.

Violent incidents involving the three main NPA committees in Northern Luzon only totaled to 29 from January 1 to August 31, Catapang said in a report presented to media here.

“Non-violent” activities, on the other hand, totaled to 2,361.

Catapang did not say how many rebels are still left in his area of responsibility, but said they were “negligible.”

“We call them NPA remnants because they are manageable or negligible… The only way for them to survive is through extortion and impeding progress” he said.

“The remnants are in areas like Bulacan, but when we hunt them they go to Solcom (Southern Luzon Command) area, Rizal.”

Catapang said Nolcom is also presently pushing for civil projects that will help “end” insurgency.

Among the projects are a network of farm-to-market roads, bridges, port expansions, and schools that amount to more than P70 billion.

Catapang’s presentation on proposed farm-to-market roads had the slogan, “Insurgency ends where road construction begins.”

“The experience we will have here in Central Luzon is it is where insurgency began and where it ended,” Catapang said.

“We will declare Nolcom peaceful and ready for further development next year so we can shift to territorial defense,” he said. (John Roson)

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Three men suspected of being involved in activities related to illegal drugs were found dead inside a tricycle in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, Friday night, after being shot by still unidentified assailants, police said.

The fatalities have already been identified as driver Napoleon Paraan, 45, of Mangaldan; Reynaldo Martinez, 47, and Mamerto Penuliar Jr., 49, both of Sta. Barbara, Senior Insp. Ryan Manongdo, Pangasinan provincial police spokesman, said.

The three were found lying lifeless inside a tricycle along the road leading to Sitio Silungan, Brgy. Bonuan Binloc, around 9 p.m.

“Witnesses said they heard several gunshots in the area before they discovered the trio,” Manongdo said.

Responding policemen recovered a sachet of shabu inside the tricycle, he said.

Investigators are still trying to determine the assailants’ identities and motive, but are looking at a possibility that the killings are related to illegal drug activities.

Sitio Silungan gained infamy after reports indicated that it is a haven for drug traffickers, Manongdo said.

Friday’s killings came two weeks after five men also suspected of engaging in illegal activities were stabbed and shot dead inside a hut in Bugallon town. (John Roson)

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The mayor of Luna, Apayao, and her aide died while her vice mayor, driver, and another companion were injured after the sports utility vehicle they were riding crashed into a tree in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, early Saturday, police said.

Luna Mayor Betty Versola and companion Marlon Taclibon, of Pinili, Ilocos Norte, expired while being brought to the Bangui Hospital, Chief Supt. Ricardo Marquez, Ilocos regional police director, said.

Vice Mayor Josephine Bangsil, driver Jun Ildefonso, and companion Milet Agustin, of Luna, were also taken to the same hospital for treatment, Marquez said.

The incident occurred around 1:20 a.m., while Versola’s group was passing through Brgy. Pasaleng, Pagudpud, on a red Montero Sport (SKP-730).

Initial investigation showed that the vehicle’s driver avoided a carabao along the way, but slammed into a tree in the process, Marquez said. (John Roson)

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(Update) Twelve people were killed while seven others were injured when the utility vehicle they were riding fell into a ravine in Buguias, Benguet, on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Twenty passengers were found at the crash site, but 11 died while being brought to the hospital, Supt. Davy Vicente Lim-mong, Cordillera regional police spokesman, said.

The 11 were identified as Biana Olsim, Manuel Langbis, Bino Waclin, Melania Madiano, Alfredo Pattian, Ferdilyn Igualdo, Arnaldo Madiano, Kimberly Waclin, Ema Tosay, Melanio Igualdo, and Melin Dasdas, all residents of Brgy. Poblacion, Buguias.

One passenger, Marrieta Gaspil, was brought to the Benguet General Hospital (BGH) but she expired while undergoing treatment, Lim-mong said.

Seven others, including driver Ambrocio Menzi, passengers Basilio Baldos, Oronio Agyapas, Nicole Waclin, Wela Waclin, Braille Waclin, and a still unidentified man are being treated at the BGH, he said.

Another passenger, identified as Jerry Bisaya Atas, was not hurt as he was able to jump off the vehicle when he noticed that it was going the wrong way, Lim-mong said.

The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. along the Halsema Highway in Bayoyo, Brgy. Buyacaoan.

Menzi was driving the Ford Fiera utility vehicle (AAD-874) towards Brgy. Abatan when it fell into a ravine more or less 80 meters deep, Lim-mong said.

Initial investigation showed that the driver lost control of the vehicle due to a sudden downpour and heavy fog, he said. (John Roson)

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post updated. see update here

Ten people were killed while at least 10 others were injured when the utility vehicle they were riding fell into a ravine in Buguias, Benguet, on Saturday afternoon, police said.

Twenty passengers were pulled out of the crash site, but 10 died while being brought to the hospital, Supt. Davy Vicente Lim-mong, Cordillera regional police spokesman, said in a text message, citing initial field reports.

The injured are still undergoing treatment at the Abatan and Lutheran hospitals, with some being recommended for transfer to medical facilities in Baguio City, he said.

The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m. in Brgy. Bayoyo.

The Ford Fiera utility vehicle (AAD-874) was heading towards Brgy. Abatan when it fell into a ravine more or less 80 meters deep, Lim-mong said. (John Roson) post updated. see update here

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Five men allegedly involved in criminal activities were found dead after being hacked and shot by still unidentified assailants in Bugallon, Pangasinan, early Saturday, police said.

Romel, 38, Jomer, 17, Ronald, 34, Ernesto, 49 – all surnamed Ramoran – and Albert Martinez, 25, were found dead inside a shanty beside the Grand Royale Subdivision in Brgy. Poblacion, Senior Insp. Ryan Manongdo, Pangasinan provincial police spokesman, said.

The five, all natives of Sual, were eating around 12:30 a.m. when they were killed by about 10 armed and bonnet-wearing men, Manongdo said.

Investigation indicated that the armed men first held the five at gunpoint, tied up the hands and feet of Jomer and Albert with plastic straps, then hacked the duo’s heads with a bladed instrument, he said.

“When Rommel, Ernesto, and Ronald attempted to fight back, they were shot on the different parts of the body. As a consequence, all victims died on the spot,” Manongdo said in a text message.

Responding policemen found 16 empty shells and five slugs of caliber-.45 pistols and 14 plastic straps at the scene. A fan knife and a cellphone were recovered from Rommel and Albert’s bodies, respectively.

Investigators are looking at a possibility that the killings are related to the victims’ alleged involvement in criminal activities.

Information gathered from the area indicated that the five were engaged in robbery (akyat-bahay), cattle rustling, and theft, Manongdo said.

It was also learned that Rommel had been convicted for a case of robbery with acts of lasciviousness but was granted parole last April, the provincial police spokesman added.

Members of the Bugallon Police are still conducting an “in-depth investigation” to determine the assailants’ identities, he said. (John Roson)

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