Zamboanga del Norte Province, Philippines News

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Province of Zamboanga del Norte - Archived News

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Seal of Zamboanga del Norte
Interactive Google Satellite Map of Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
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Zamboanga Peninsula MAP.gif
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Provincial Capitol of Zamboanga del Norte
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Saint James Cathedral in Dapitan City
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City Hall of Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte
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Situbo Falls, Zamboanga del Norte
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Statue of Christ, Pangalalan, Sindangan
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Our lady of the most Holy Rosary, Estaka
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Manukan Mini Museum Landmark


DOT-9 to conduct seminar on Russian topics in Dipolog City

By Allen Abastillas

The Department of Tourism-9 is set to conduct a training-seminar on Rusian language and culture dubbed as “Meet Russia: Russian Lifestyle, Culture and Language Seminar“ on September 26 in Dipolog City.

DOT 9 Director Mary June Bugante said the keynote speaker for the training-seminar is no less than Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn T. Uy.

Among the topics of lectures are: Introduction on Russian History and Culture, Understanding the Russian Market and Basic Russian language.

There will be panel discussion after the lectures.

Delegates and lecturers from Russian Embassy in Manila are Mr. Alexey Illuviev, Ms Yulia Alexandrowa, Consulate of the Russian Embassy Consul Armi L. Garci and Dir. Mari Rica C. Bueno of the DOT Central Office’s Tourism Standards and Regulations.

DOT-9’s Wen Galeza said the training seminar is open to anyone interested to learn the Russian language,culture and tradition.

After the seminar , one can tour Russia where there are many beautiful places and beautiful women.

According to Galeza, touring Russia is not so expensive.

“If anyone have sufficients funds. They can go and tour in Russia,” he said.

Galeza also said that after the seminar, the delegates will be toured to the different tourist spots of Dipolog City like the 2-kilometer boulevard for sunset watching , Eco-Cogon Park and many others.

Dipolog mayor pegs city’s dev’t on Singapore

(Manila Bulletin)

Dipolog City – The Department of Energy (DOE) has recently tapped a private group to conduct a feasibility study on how to utilize the two Dipolog rivers as source of energy for a hydro power plant.

Aside from meeting power demands, Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn T. Uy said this is to improve the city’s appeal as a business destination for local and foreign traders.

Mayor Uy said, “I am targeting to make the city a progressive and peaceful place like Singapore and Switzerland.”

“We have a program to condition the people and all stakeholders to help the development of Dipolog,” Uy said. The program is dubbed “SWIGAPORE 2030.”

She added that they are also educating local residents to curb their habits of spitting in public, as this can be a health hazard.

No smoking zones have also been established.

Uy said the Zamboanga Peninsula, where Dipolog is located, is outside the typhoon belt, and therefore its location must be maximized as both a tourist and investment destination.

5 Beautiful Beaches In Mindanao

By Harly Limlingan Marcuap

Are you looking for an easy beach getaway but tired of all the island hopping frenzy? You’ll be surprised to know that there are great beaches in Mindanao that you can visit even without having to put yourself on a boat!

All these beaches can be reached by land and are only a stone’s throw away from major Mindanaoan cities such as Davao, General Santos, Dipolog, Surigao, and Tandag. So if you’re planning a trip to the Land of Promise and thinking of including some beach destinations in your itinerary, then take a peek at some of these awesome beach spots that are conveniently scattered along the coast of mainland Mindanao.

Dahican Beach (Mati, Davao Oriental, Philippines)

A popular surf spot in the bustling city of Mati in Davao Oriental, the phenomenal white waves of Dahican attract a good horde of surfers and skimboarders from across the country. With its location just a few minutes from Mati, it makes it an ideal hangout spot during weekends especially for vacationers coming from Davao.

If you’re not a surfer, you can just simply enjoy the relaxing view of the azure sky and the inviting turquoise sea that hugs Dahican’s long strip of fine golden sand. You can bring your own tent or hammock and position them under the shade of coconut trees.

You can pass time exchanging light conversations with friends and family while watching surfers perform their heart-pounding stunts. If the conditions are right, you can even try learning the exciting water sport yourself.

•How To Get There

From Davao City Ecoland Terminal, ride a bus going to Mati. Travel time is around 4-5 hours and fare costs roughly ₱250 one-way. In downtown Mati, hire a habal-habal or tricycle to bring you to Dahican Beach.

Travel time is around 20 minutes and fare costs roughly ₱50 one-way.

Mabua Beach (Surigao, Surigao del Norte, Philippines)

If you’re tired of fine white sand beaches which are apparently everywhere in the country, why not break the norm and try experiencing something different?

In Barangay Mabua, a coastal suburb of Surigao City, a long stretch of naturally polished pebbles and cobbles lay gently along the shore. While violent Pacific waves pound the nearby island of Siargao, the sea along the western coast of Surigao Peninsula appears to be calmer. Mabua Beach, Surigao, Surigao del Norte, Philippines

The water is clear and inviting, and every attempt to swim along the shallow portions feels like dipping on a giant pool furnished with smooth pebble flooring.

•How To Get There

From downtown Surigao City, hire a tricycle to take you to Mabua Beach. Travel time is approximately 20 minutes and fare costs around ₱100.

Gumasa Beach (Glan Sarangani, Philippines)

Now if you’d rather stick with the all-time favorite fine white sand beaches, then you can’t go wrong paying a visit to Sarangani’s famous Gumasa Beach.

Situated in the town of Glan on the eastern section of Sarangani, Gumasa Beach is only a short 1-hour ride from Gensan and dubbed as the “Boracay of Mindanao.”

Sauntering along its fine powdery beach, it definitely feels like a slice of Boracay; complete with the spotless turquoise-colored sea and the lengthy strip of white sand that gently grace the shores. Spanning more than a kilometer, it accommodates hundreds to a few thousand people when the Sarangani Bay Festival is held during May.

•How To Get There

From downtown Gensan, ride a habal-habal or tricycle to the van terminal located beside KCC Mall. Take the van going to the town of Glan (travel time: 1 hour, fare: ₱80). From the stop in Glan, it takes roughly 15 minutes to reach Gumasa Beach by hiring a habal-habal (₱50).

Dakak Beach (Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines)

A longtime favorite for many beach goers, the nationally acclaimed Dakak Beach Resort maintains world-class services that when it comes to pampering its visitors, the classic hangout remains top of the rank.

It’s true that people head their way to Dapitan not only to step back in time tracking Jose Rizal’s exiled life. They also come seeking a a quiet spot to relax and meditate. When in the historic town, Dakak Beach might just be the perfect choice. Dakak Beach, Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines

A forested flat-topped limestone hill rising at the edge of a modest white sand beach adds to the resort’s trademark serene atmosphere. And for one to fully appreciate the wonderful landscape, a series of concrete stairs were built on the hillside leading to a viewdeck. Here, a commanding panorama of the beach, the surrounding mountains, and the tranquil cove welcomes every hiker.

•How To Get There Dakak Beach is a private beach where a day trip costs ₱1,000 inclusive of one sumptuous lunch and access to the resort’s swimming pools and topnotch amenities. From Dipolog Bus Terminal, find the bus going to Dapitan. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs ₱20. From Dapitan proper, hire a habal-habal to take you to Dakak Beach Resort. It takes about 30 minutes and fare costs around ₱100 one-way.

White Beach (Cagwait, Surigao del Sur, Philippines)

The horseshoe-shaped White Beach in Cagwait, Surigao del Sur is rapidly gaining popularity among locals and tourists. Owe it to the fine texture of the sand and the sparkling turquoise waters hugging its shores.

Resorts and guesthouses are sprouting like mushrooms, taking advantage of the increasing number of regular visitors as the news of this beach’s astonishing beauty spreads quickly.

Going durring the off-season definitely assures a quieter getaway, leaving one plenty of opportunities to unwind and feel the solitude this side of Mindanao has to offer.

•How To Get There

From Butuan City Bus Terminal, take the bus going to Tandag — the capital of Surigao del Sur. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction going to Cagwait Beach. Travel time is about 4hrs and fare costs around ₱250. From the junction, hire a habal-habal or tricycle to Cagwait Beach for ₱15, 10mins.

If coming from Cebu, take a direct flight to Tandag via Cebu Pacific Air.

From Tandag, transfer to a van or jeepney heading to Cagwait Junction. Travel time is about 1.5 hours and fare costs around ₱30. From the junction, hire a habal-habal or tricycle to Cagwait Beach.

Drug, harassment suspects fall to police this week

With excerpts from RIO9 reports (Weekly Dipolognon)

It has been a good week for peace and security in the province, aside from the obvious that no extrajudicial killing was reported, the police also collared more and more criminal elements this week.

In Dipolog City, operatives of the Dipolog City Police Station and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted a drug buy-bust operation in Purok Tipo of Barangay Sicayab at about 2 in the morning on September 7.

During the said operation, a certain Brian Suan Ajero was arrested for possession of four sachets of suspected shabu, caliber 22 firearm with three bullets, marked money, and other drug paraphernalia.

The suspect is currently detained at the Dipolog City police station for proper disposition while recovered items were forwarded to the Provincial Crime Laboratory Office for examination.

Then, in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, a motorcycle driver and his passenger were stopped at a checkpoint by the Payao Police in Barangay Kulasian at about 4:10 in the afternoon of September 7 and were arrested when they would attempt to throw away the shabu they were carrying.

The suspects were identified as driver Angelito Arpon and his back rider Jofrey Cuevas.

According to the police, while the driver was being verified of his driver’s license and registration, his back rider was seen crumpling a piece of paper and threw it away.

This did not escape the eyes of the on-duty policemen. They checked the crumpled paper and found two sachets of suspected shabu within it. Both suspects are now detained at the Payao police station for proper disposition.

Meanwhile, in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay, a man who allegedly harassed and threatened his victim was flagged down during the follow-up operation made by Diplahan Police Station in Barangay Diplahan at about 11 in the evening on September 7.

Initial report shows that suspect Ramel Amora Apao together with his other companions Kimbert Amoy Decipulo, Jun-Arm Decipulo Batolina, Roberto Berano Doble and two identified minors, allegedly went in the house of a certain Joe Pearl Jade Murayao de Asis.

De Asis is reportedly the boyfriend of prime suspect Apao’s daughter.

The group allegedly harassed and threatened the victim de Asis with a gun for still-be-disclosed reasons.

The victim subsequently sought police assistance that resulted in the arrest of the above named suspects.

During the said arrest, a caliber 45 pistol loaded with five rounds of ammunition was recovered inside a blue bag that Ramel Apao threw at a grassy portion of the roadside.

Suspects are now under the custody of the Diplahan police for proper disposition.

DOE, PIA conduct multi-sectoral advocacy campaign on downstream oil industry in Dipolog

By Dominic Ilagan Sanchez (FPG/DIS/PIA9-ZBST)

DIPOLOG CITY, Sept. 16 (PIA) – In an effort to raise awareness on the oil industry, its benefits to the local economy as well as its legal implications, the Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) is conducting a multi-sectoral advocacy campaign on the downstream oil industry for local government units (LGUs) of Zamboanga del Norte and local oil industry players at the Ariana Hotel here today, Sept. 16.

The discussions center on the laws, rules and regulations governing sale of liquefied petroleum products (LPPs) and the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) with municipal mayors, treasurers, licensing officers, business licensing issuing officers, and information officers as participants.

Representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are also attending the activity.

Assistant Director Rodela Romero of DOE’s Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) told the participants that the basis for conducting the said campaign is Republic Act 8479, An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil Industry. “This is to ensure a truly competitive market under a regime of fair prices, adequate and continuous supply of environmentally clean and high quality petroleum products,” Romero said.

DOE’s role is mainly monitoring quality, quantity, refining and marketing process, inventory and pricing of the fuels, however, “the local governments have a major role to play in ensuring local oil retailers meet the standards.”

Romero also discussed on certain oil and LPG retail prohibitions. She encouraged LGUs to properly monitor and sanction violations.

Additional topics for the day include the Regulatory Framework on the Business of Retailing Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Liquid Petroleum Products, LPG Regulatory Framework and LPG in Canisters, LPP Retail Rules, Metrology, and Calibration and Sealing of Mechanical Pumps.

At the end of the day, the participants will be brought to a local gasoline station to observe the proper calibration of dispensing pumps. Romero emphasized that it is important for LGUs to know how to properly inspect stations operating within their jurisdiction to ensure that the consumers do not get short-changed.

“Pag kulang ang pag-dispense nila, kakasuhan namin sila (gas stations that fail to dispense properly and accurately will be sued),” Romero pointed out.

The Philippine Oil Industry generates millions worth of revenue not only for the retailers, but also to local government returns every year.

Gunmen kill cop

By Bong Garcia

A POLICEMAN was killed by riding in tandem gunmen in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, the police reported Monday.

Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula Information Officer-in-Charge Inspector Dahlan Samuddin said the incident took place around 3:35 p.m. Sunday in the village of Polo, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.

Samuddin identified the fatality as Police Officer 3 Ardie Galleposo, 43, who was assigned in the Municipality of Mutia in the same province.

Investigation showed the victim was standing outside the store when he was repeatedly shot at close range by one of two men riding in tandem in a motorcycle that stopped in front of the store.

"One of them was wearing blue baseball cap, stripe blue and white T-shirt," Samuddin said.

The gunmen fled while the victim was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

Investigation continued Monday to establish the motive of the incident and unmask the suspects, said Samuddin.

Cops arrest extortionist

By Bong Garcia

THE police have arrested an alleged member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in an entrapment for extortion in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, the police reported Thursday.

Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula (PRO-9) Information officer-in-charge Inspector Dahlan Samuddin identified the arrested suspect as Aberin Pulalon, 39, an alleged MILF member base in the village of Datu Tumanggong, Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Samuddin said Pulalon was arrested around 2:50 p.m. Wednesday in the village of Poblacion, Tungawan town.

The suspect is a resident of Sitio Kasanyangan, Nonoyan village, Baliguian, Zamboanga Del Norte.

Pulalon was arrested by combined police forces from Tungawan and Baliguian, Zamboanga del Norte, Samuddin said.

He said the entrapment operation was carried out after the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) received information that a resident of Baliguian, Zamboanga del Norte sent a protection money to the suspect through a private money transfer firm around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

He said the arresting team of policemen have confiscated from the suspect’s possession the following: P1,320 cash money in different denomination; payout form send by the victim address to the suspect; two identification cards (voter’s and provincial IDs); and a mobile phone.

He said that investigation showed the suspect had been allegedly collecting protection money since July 2013 from prominent businessman in Baliguian, Zamboanga Del Norte and that the money is being sent through a private money transfer firm.

The suspect is detained and appropriate charges are being readied to be filed against him, Samuddin said.

PBCom’s acquisition

(MST Business)

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has approved Philippine Bank of Communications’ acquisition of Banco Dipolog Inc.

PBCom said Banco Dipolog would add 13 rural bank branches to its branch network.

These branches are located in various cities across Visayas and Mindanao and would brings PBCom’s rural bank footprint to 19 branches, following the bank’s earlier acquisition of the Rural Bank of Nagcarlan.

“Expanding our footprint across the country through our acquisition of rural banks allows us to reach underserved and unbanked segments, thus contributing to the development and strengthening of small businesses,” said PBCom president and chief executive Nina Aguas.

Aguas said PBCom planned to expand its branch network through acquisitions and organic growth.

She said the bank aimed to have 140 branches by mid-2015, up from the current 75 branches.

Shinyo Maru incident in Sindangan remembered

By Allen Abastillas

The municipality of Sindangan in partnership with the Department of Tourism-9 and the Zamboanga del Norte provincial government will commemorate on Sunday, September 7, 2014, the 70th anniversary of the Shinyo Maru incident

DOT-9 explained that the commemoration is a recognition of the Shinyo Maru incident during the World War II that happened on Sept.7,1944 wherein the Japanese warship Shinyo Maru carrying 750 prisoners of war mostly American survivors was torpedoed by the American submarine USS Paddle SS263 about a mile or two away from Sindangan point.

The US submarine was not aware that there were 83 American soldier-prisoners on board the vessel, according to the accounted numbers during the attack. Eighty-two survived and one died. The 82 survivors swam to shore. They were fed by the local residents who took care of them.

The commemoration will pay tribute to the bravery of the American survivors with the heroism of the Filipinos whose bravery, kindness and generosity prevented the recapture of the prisoners of war by the Japanese Imperial sailors.

Sindangan officials have invited United State Embassy and the families of the Shinyo Maru survivors to the Sunday event. A commemorative marker has been constructed in Barangay R. G. Macias where the survivors were picked-up by another US submarine. The unveiling of the marker is the highlight of the commemoration day.

Dipolog police station hurdles PGS ‘Initiation Stage’

By Mary May A. Abellon (PNA), LAM/TPGJR/R.G. ANOTNET A. GO/UTB

DIPOLOG CITY – The City Police Station here recently received a Performance Governance System (PGS) certification for passing the initiation stage of the program.

PGS serves as the foundation for the said police station to evaluate its performance and to set its direction toward achieving its ultimate vision of making the city a safer place to live, work, travel and do business.

“The hardships in achieving our goal is not really a challenge but rather an intangible evidence of our brave heart and vision of having a world-class police station by the year 2030,” said PSupt. Ranie P. Hachuela, the city police chief, before the City Advisory Council (CAC).

This program started during the leadership of former city police chief PSupt. Joven R. Parcon, and is being continued by PSupt. Hachuela.

The city police station with its 116 police officers has adopted the PNP PATROL (Peace and order Agenda on Transformation and upholding the Rule Of Law) Plan 2030 as basis of its PGS, which requires the identification and realization of administrative and operational flaws including the personal, professional and technical constraints.

As part of the initiation stage and to push for the implementation of the PATROL Plan, the Technical Working Group (TWG), City Police Strategy Management Unit (CPSMU) and CAC were created and organized.

The CAC is a special multi-sectoral body that serves as a consultative and advisory arm to evaluate operational strategies and administrative processes, and to recommend plans and programs aimed at improving police services to the community.

CSC names Zamboanga del Norte veterinarian Dangal ng Bayan Awardee


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Sept. 4 (PNA) -- A veterinarian from Zamboanga del Norte has been adjudged as the regional Dangal ng Bayan Awardee as he bested the other 23 nominees from the region, an official announced Thursday.

The search for the Dangal ng Bayan Award is being held in line with the anniversary of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

The CSC is celebrating its 114th anniversary this month. It is anchored on the theme: “Tapat na Serbisyo Alay Ko, Dahil Lingkod Bayani Ako.”

CSC Assistant Regional Director Alvin Araneta named the regional Dangal ng Bayan Awardee as Dr. Alfred Mel P. Dagayloan, the Veterinarian I of the Municipal Agriculture Office of Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte.

Araneta said Dagayloan, as the regional awardee, is set to receive P200,000 and a gold medallion in a ceremony to be held this month in Malacañang.

President Benigno Aquino, III will lead the awarding ceremonies, the schedule of which has yet to be determined.

The Dangal ng Bayan Award is conferred to an individual for the performance of an extraordinary act or public service and consistent demonstration of exemplary ethical behavior on the basis of his/her observance of the eight norms of behavior provided under Republic Act 6713 otherwise known the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”

The CSC anniversary celebration is aimed to promote, showcase, and celebrate heroism in public service.

Liloy prides corn harvest festival, 2014

By I. Cabeguin (DA9)

Some 58 farmers came to harvest the 22-hectare corn field in Barangay Banigan, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte recently. The harvest festival was initiated by the Local Government Unit (LGU) thru Ordinance No. 234-2014 Series of 2014 otherwise known as Sagip Program in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Atty. Felixberto C. Bolando, Liloy Municipal Mayor said the primary purpose of passing the ordinance is for the Local Government Unit of Liloy to directly engage in farming by cultivating available farms and plant corn and other crops. He encouraged the farmers to go back to their farms and utilize idle areas in the municipality using effective farming techniques to increase food supplies and to generate employment. The ordinance was also passed for the LGU to provide continuing assistance to the farmers and their families.

The LGU hired 58 farmer-applicants as Job Order (JO) employees last May to plant corn and other crops and maintain the farms until the plants are harvested. The JOs received P250.00 per day in 3-month employment.

The local government utilized its existing farm tractors to cultivate and prepare the farms. On the other hand, the DA provided assistance through the seed exchange program (SEP), and distribution of natural supplements and biological controls like Bio-N and Trichogramma.

The farms used by the LGU of Liloy consisted of agricultural lands owned by the government and private agricultural lands after the execution of a Usufruct Agreement by and between the Local Government and the land owners.

They were able to harvest 4-5 tons of corn grains per hectare using the NGR 800 variety which will be disposed at P20.00 per kilo in the barangay market.

Zamboanga Peninsula Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-ZAMPIARC) Chief Engr Roger Bagaforo introduced the best practices in agricultural farming like conducting soil testing, following the 20 x70 cm planting distance and using a suitable variety for high yields. He also encouraged the farmers to intercrop for a sustainable and productive output.

Soldier kills his superior during spat

By A. Perez Rimando

DIPOLOG CITY, Zamboanga del Norte—An Army soldier shot to death his superior last Friday afternoon at their camp in Barangay Dona Cecilia, Sirawai town, this province.

A belated police report received by Supt. John E. Enguerra Sr., provincial police chief, at Camp Hamac, identified the fatality as Sgt. Romeo D. Piedad, 33, married, a resident of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur, and head of Charlie company’s mechanical unit, and the assailant as Cpl. Greggy R. Patpat, 30, married, a native of Barangay Pinamunggahan, Cebu City, also of the same unit.

Both troopers belong to the Army’s 10th Infantry Battalion of the 101st Infantry Brigade based in Mutia town.

Sirawai Municipal Police Office, Esguerra and Patpat, together with three other soldiers, were reportedly working at the vehicle shop when, for still unknown reason, the they got into a heated argument.

In the report of the Sirawai Municipal Police Office, Patpat allegedly took his M-16 Armalite rifle and fired several times at his superior killing him on the spot.

Investigators recovered at least 21 pieces of empty shells from the crime scene.

The report said that Patpat voluntarily surrendered his company commander, 1st Lt. Chesler Mastino, who turned him over to the town police authorities.

Don't allow Estrada to conduct Senate hearings, court told

By Buena Bernal (

The prosecution says the Supreme Court has set precedents on this, citing the cases of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution team in Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada's plunder and graft cases opposed on Monday, September 1, his move to be allowed to conduct Senate deliberations on pending bills while in detention.

"All told, the intended committee hearings to be conducted by accused Estrada will be a precedent-setting exercise which is not sanctioned by the law and the rules," the prosecution's comment filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan read.

Citing the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the prosecution argued that the Supreme Court had previously denied a detainee's request to be allowed to attend Senate committee hearings.

"The Supreme Court rationalized the limitation on Senator Trillanes' movements and performance of his elected post by citing a host of cases that has consistently upheld the limitation and curtailment on the freedom and liberties of a detainees," the comment-opposition read.

The prosecution likewise cited the court's issuance of a 90-day suspension order against Estrada.

On August 18, Estrada asked the anti-graft court to be allowed to conduct committee hearings inside Camp Crame or any other place the court deems appropriate "to expedite the passage of much-needed laws," including those on the rights for seafarers and call center agents.

The detained senator cited 12 priority bills pending with the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, of which he is chairman.

Estrada is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame over plunder and graft charges.

He is accused of financially gaining from and knowingly allowing the diversion of millions from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of fake non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

'No precedent'

In arguing for his request, Estrada cited as precedent the committee hearings he said was conducted at the Marine Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio and at Camp Crame in the years 2007 and 2010, respectively.

This was when Senator Trillanes was detained over coup d'etat charges.

But the prosecution said "the reference is misleading," as Trillanes was simply visited in detention by his fellow senators.

Quoting a newspaper report, the prosecution said Trillanes was visited by senators Gringo Honasan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and Vicente Sotto III on August 19, 2010, to get "inputs on how to improve coordination with other committee members."

"Thus, whoever allowed Senator Trillanes to conduct the alleged committee hearings had no authority or legal basis to do so," they argued.

"To deny the motion of accused Estrada will effectively give meaning to the precept that ours is a government of laws not of men.... Indeed, the current persuasion is towards holding high-ranking public officials accountable to a degree slightly higher than the regular public servant," the prosecution argued.

Jalosjos case

The team also cited the case of former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos, who was later on convicted in 1997 by a Makati court for raping an 11-year-old girl.

"The issue of the performance of law-making functions by a detained legislator was squarely met in the case of People vs Jalosjos. The Supreme Court frowned upon the idea of allowing then Congressman Jalosjos to attend the proceedings in the House of Representatives," the prosecution claimed.

In the subject ruling, the SC said Jalosjos' attendance to congressional proceedings "will virtually make him a free man."

"The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison... Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law," the ruling read.

The SC further ruled that "Congress continues to function well in the physical absence of one or a few of its members."

Estrada's plea, however, seemed to be one step ahead.

His appeal before the court was for him be allowed to conduct the hearings inside his place of detention and not necessarily be allowed to leave the police camp premises.

Zamboanga del Norte Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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