Lagnada convenes Butuan Watershed Council; Fortun thankful

Butuan City Mayor, Engr. Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada and Agusan del Norte First District Representative Lawrence “Law” Fortun

BUTUAN CTY – The Butuan City Watershed Management Council was finally convened by City Mayor, Engr. Ronnie Vicente “RCL” C. Lagnada in pursuance to SP Ordinance 3928-2012 entitled “An Ordinance Addressing the Protection, Conservation, Rehabilitation and Management of the Watershed within the Jurisdiction of Butuan City, Creating the Water Management Council Therefor, and for Other Purposes” otherwise known as the Butuan City Watershed Code. The convening of the council has been put to sleep by the previous administration in spite of its passage in 2012.

In convening the Council, Lagnada laid out the challenges in protecting the watersheds which are the unabated illegal logging, increasing incursions of illegal settlers in the watershed areas, inability to enforce laws and policies, uncoordinated law enforcement between national agencies and local offices and the collusion among stakeholders. To address these challenges, Lagnada vowed to exercise political will in implementing the laws and policies that will protect, preserve and rehabilitate the watersheds. He also vowed to exact responsibility and accountability across stakeholders, develop agro-industrial, agro-forest and eco-tourism in the watershed areas, adoption of organic method of agricultural production and strong people’s participation and empowerment.

It can be recalled that the administration of former Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. slept on the implementation of the Butuan City Watershed Code for years which mandates the convening of the Watershed Management Council. The said code was principally authored by then Vice Mayor and now Agusan del Norte First District Representative Lawrence “Law” Fortun. The Council, under the provisions of the Code is mandated to “ensure the implementation of all the provisions of the Watershed Code and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.” But since the previous administration failed to convene the council, it rendered the ordinance ineffective and useless.

For his part, Congressman Fortun expressed elation on the convening of the Council which he said as long overdue. “We pushed hard for the passage of that very important legislation when I was Vice Mayor. The Butuan City Watershed Code, which is a product of collective contribution of different stakeholders, became a law in 2012, only to be relegated to the dustbin because of the reluctance of the former administration to implement it,” Fortun said. The solon added that he is very thankful of the Council being convened because it “is the first essential step in the implementation of the ordinance.”

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Convicted former Councilor accuses judges, fiscals as being paid

Convicted former Butuan City Councilor Sergio C. Pascual

BUTUAN CTY – Convicted former City Councilor Sergio C. Pascual made a sweeping allegation against all the judges and prosecutors in the city as being corrupt and can be bought by powerful and wealthy people.

The allegation was made by Pascual in a recent interview with a radio station. Pascual has been known to make sweeping statements which resulted to people filing cases of libel against him which he also admitted. In his recent tirade, Pascual accused Butuan City Mayor, Engr. Ronnie Vicente “RCL” C. Lagnada of making payoffs to the judges and prosecutors to ensure that he will win in his cases. Even before the May 2016 elections, Pascual has been a staunch critic of Lagnada. According to sources, Pascual became bitter with Lagnada when the latter defeated him in several biddings with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Pascual also made a malicious imputation against Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence “Law” Fortun for allegedly being more concerned of “transactions” rather than being of service to the people. Since time immemorial Pascual has been accusing the solon of malpractices but haven’t filed a case up to the present. According to observers, these accusations are just merely hearsays and was only used for grandstanding by the convicted former city councilor. Pascual lost heavily during the last elections by placing a very far third in the race for the Vice Mayorship which according to political pundits is an indication that the people in Butuan is fed up with the “nuisance” Pascual.

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Ombudsman finds ‘probable cause’ to file case against Amante on ‘PET SCANdal’

Former Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr.

QUEZON CITY – The Office of the Ombudsman (National Office) has found probable cause for the filing of a case against former Butuan City mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. for violation of Section 3 (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. This was according to documents obtained by Butuanon Chronicles from the said office.

While the charges of his co-accused were dismissed for lack of merit, the court found that only Amante was the only official to be blamed for such a disadvantageous transaction against the city government. According to court documents, “while there may be truth to respondent Amante’s assertion that the cost of acquiring the equipment is nothing compared to the immense benefit that may be gained from it, the same did not turn out into fruition, and mainly due to his failure to ensure that the machine – a 2003 model, not brand new, and partly rusted and scratched – was fully functional and pre-tested before allowing its importation into the country.” The court added that “the huge public expense could have been avoided had respondent Amante, as the local chief executive exercised such care and diligence warranted by the situation.” Finally, the court said that “the fact the WMRI is willing to replace the machine is beside the point, and even if true, it has yet to materialize despite respondent Amante’s claim that it would arrive by the end of April 2016.”

It can be recalled that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), after its thorough investigation, had filed a case against Amante and some other officials of the city government stating that on November 28, 20012, respondent Amante, in representation of the City Government of Butuan and Butuan City Medical Center (BMC), accepted from the World Medical Relief, Inc. (WMRI), by way of donation, one (1) unit Mobile Seimens Biograph PET-SCAN machine with accessories. The Sangguniang Panlungsood authorized the donation through SP Resolution No. 544-2011 and No. 745-2012 enacted on August 8, 2011 and December 2012, respectively; transported all the way from Michigan, USA in the final destination at the BMC. The City Government shouldered the customs duties, freight and other incidental expenses of the said donation.

Amante was a two-termer City of Mayor of Butuan which ended last May 2016 elections after he was beaten by landslide by an unknown businessman-candidate. During his two terms as Mayor, his administration has been marred by controversies such as the PET-SCANdal, construction of a highly overpriced poly sports complex, attempted purchase of overpriced heavy equipment and many more.

 

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Another Butuanon is making waves in the music scene

reasonMANILA – He was a typical student who, aside from being a football enthusiast and an excellent visual artist, has loved music which he obviously got from his equally talented parents. Reason Pious Fontanilla Fortun, a true-blooded Butuanon and currently a graduating student in Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, is now making it big in the music scene as lead guitarist and vocalist of the group called LaLuna.

It was in summer of 2016 that a group of young students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and one coming from Far Eastern University (FEU) grouped together and formed themselves a band which they called LaLuna. Although the members were coming from different genres, but like magic, they blended well when they first sang together. Rarely do we know of a band who portrays blues rock surf chill music, but it became a hit among the youngsters. Reason said that they started doing gigs with even as small as five people in the audience. He added that originally they wanted to call their band as Ear-rotic, similar to how erotic means. But they realized that it may not sound good to some. After much of brain storming, they arrived at the name LaLuna because their music usually is about sexual desires and romance which usually occurs when the moon is out, thus LaLuna (Spanish for Moon). Coincidentally, when they released their first single it was on a full moon.
lalunaThe group is composed of Reason as lead guitarist and vocalist, Joshua Docena (drums and percussion), CJ Garcia (rhythm guitars) and Joshua Angeles (bass guitars). Never giving up on their dream of making it big in the music scene, they went gig after gig until they had an opportunity to play during UST’s biggest event, the UST Paskuhan. When they sang their original composition, surprisingly the audience sang with them in apparent show of approval and admiration. It was then that they were noticed and was demanded in almost every gig in the big city. Their original composition “Hawak Bitaw” became a big hit which they later recorded as their first single.

hirayaOn February 25, they will be performing again during the Hiraya Music Fest 2017 at the SSS lot at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig together with other upcoming bands and artists such as Silent Sanctuary, Deuce Manila, Mars Miranda and SUD.

You may follow them on Facebook at: LaLunaMusicPH

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Ex-lover may have a hand in mining firm’s non-closure

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Shown in this photo are Ryan Culima (SRMI VP), Eric Guetierez (SRMI Head), President Duterte and Agusan del Norte Governor Angelica Rosedell M. Amante. Photo was taken in Malacanan Palace shortly after the elections.

TUBAY, Agusan del Norte – Rumored ex-lover of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Agusan del Norte Governor Angelica Rosedell M. Amante may have a hand in the non-inclusion of San Roque Metals, Inc. (SRMI) in the order of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez’s closure order of at least 23 mining firms in the country recently.

This is the sentiment of most of the local anti-mining advocates in Agusan del Norte, particularly in the Municipality of Tubay. It can be recalled that the DENR has ordered the suspension of operations of 23 mining firms in the country after a rigid mining audit which was headed by no less than Sec. Lopez. Of the 23 mining firms, at least 14 of these are located in the Caraga region and SRMI was not included.

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Pres. Duterte shown in this photo parading photos of SRMI’s alleged environmental violations during a campaign sortie.

In 2012, SRMI’s environmental clearance certificate (ECC) was revoked by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for violations of its small-scale mining permit, limiting its extraction of nickel ores to 50,000 metric tons per year.  This decision by the EMB which was appealed by SRMI, was affirmed by the Supreme Court in its ruling later. Residents of Tubay as well as local officials have long been complaining about the SRMI’s operation which they claimed to have destroyed their mountains and coastal areas. Earlier during the campaign, then Presidential candidate Duterte also expressed his disgust over SRMI’s operation and vowed that if he will win, he will close down the company because of its massive environmental violations.

Amante has been rumored to have a past intimate relation with the President when the latter was still a Mayor in Davao City. In a Facebook comment of Ryan Culima, SRMI’s Vice President, he admitted that indeed Amante was the President’s “ex-lover”.

Culima's Facebook comment

Culima’s Facebook comment

Although Amante was aligned with Duterte’s opponent, many observers have seen Amante to have frequented Malacanan after the elections accompanied by Eric Gutierrez, SRMI’s head. It is common knowledge in the province that Amante is a staunch supporter of SRMI and vise versa.

Gutierrez’s group has been tagged as untouchable during Pres. Aquino’s time as one of the owners of the company is a close ally of Aquino, Caloocan Rep. Edgardo Erice.

 

 

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Lagnada, Plaza eyes Butuan IT Park

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Butuan City Mayor, Engr. Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada

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PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza

BUTUAN CITY – In what could be one of the most ambitious project so far, former political adversaries, Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito B. Plaza has forged an agreement and eyed the conversion of the idle Libertad Sports Complex into an I.T. Business Park.

In a recent round-table discussion between the two Butuanon leaders which was also attended by officials of Butuan LGU, Plaza announced that PEZA has approved the conversion of the old sports complex in Brgy. Libertad which has been idle for years into an I.T. Park. For his part, Lagnada committed to lead the crafting of a feasibility study to convert the area into an IT park that will house IT, data and commercial buildings that is expected to generated thousands of jobs.

Plaza strongly supported Lagnada’s opponent in the last elections. But setting political differences in the past, they agreed to work hand-in-hand to help generate jobs for all Butuanons.

According to some reliable sources, the IT Park is just the beginning that will lead in the establishment of more economic zones in Butuan. Sources say that an agri-aqua processing zone will also be established in Brgy. Taguibo and another industrial zone in Brgy. Tungao. However, the two leaders are still mum as to the truthfulness of these zones but have committed to fully cooperate with each other in order to establish more job-generating projects in the city.

 

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Duterte approves Agusan river dredging

MANILA – Acting on the recommendation of Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved last night the dredging of the mighty Agusan river which is heavily silted that have caused severed flooding especially in Butuan City.

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A look at the mighty Agusan river (Credits to the owner of the photo)

Butuan City which has become the catch basin of the the river, has suffered severely in the past damaging millions worth of crops and properties.

The President has already directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to work closely with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the implementation of the dredging project.

According to Sec. Pinol the Agusan river flows from the mountains of Davao and ends up in Butuan City which recently overflowed its banks and damaged an estimated 50,000 hectares of farmlands. Pinol added that the dredging project is a stop-gap measure “to avert flooding in the areas where the rivers pass through.

“The long-term solution agreed by the DENR, DA and DILG during our meeting last Monday was to implement the President’s directive of a total log ban in the headwaters of the rivers and to re-forest the mountains.” Pinol said. Pinol said that just two weeks ago, heavy floods hit the Agusan river basin, Davao del Norte and Central Mindanao causing heavy damage to agriculture.

 

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