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Month: June 2017

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Beleaguered businessman Roberto V. Ongpin has offered bulk of his shares in Philweb Corporation, 49% out of his total 53.76% stake, to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for free or for a measly P1/share.

In his letter to Pagcor CEO Andrea Domingo dated August 17, Ongpin said that his 771 million shares in Philweb has a market valuation of about P20 billion “under normal conditions”.

He said that there are five bidders who wanted to buy his shares from Philweb.

“However, due to reports in the media that under no circumstances will the Philweb license be renewed, I have decided that it is not appropriate, nor fair to the bidders, for me to award my shares to any of the bidders. As you know, the bid is contingent on the renewal by Pagcor of Philweb’s license and the reports in the media that the license will not be renewed under any circumstances render the auction process moot and academic,” Ongpin said.

Thus, Ongpin said, his focus now is on how to save the job of 700 Philweb employees plus about 5,000 others who are employed by the Pagcor operators in 286 e-Games sites. The businessman claimed that the employees have been out of work since Philweb’s license expired last August 10.

For this, Ongpin offered to donate 49% of his shares to Pagcor or sell them at P1/share. The remaining 4.76% will meanwhile be donated to the Ateneo de Manila University JVO Scholarship Fund (named after Ongpin’s late brother) which supports several hundred public elementary school graduates who could not otherwise afford to go to Ateneo.

“I am of course assuming that if Pagcor would own 49% of Philweb, it would renew the license to itself and thus, save the jobs and livelihood of about 6,000 employees and their families. I also wish to point out that this donation to Pagcor comes with no strings attached. Thus Pagcor can decide whether to retain it as a permanent investment, or auction all or part of it off to the highest bidder,” said Ongpin.

It was learned that Philweb contributes an estimated P2.5 billion each year to Pagcor. It also has P1.6 billion a year cash flow.

“This has not been an easy decision for me to make, but I can only face reality. It is not easy to lose P20 billion of your net worth in two weeks time but it is clear I have no other choice. I hope and pray that Pagcor will seriously consider the offer contained in this letter. My only objective and consolation is that if Pagcor agrees to accept this donation, I would have saved the jobs and livelihood of some 6,000 people, including Philweb employees many of whom have worked diligently and loyally for me in Philweb over the past 16 years,” said Ongpin.

Ongpin’s debacle started when President Rodrigo Duterte publicly named him an “oligarch” and vowed to destroy him. Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of Philweb after Duterte’s statement.

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If you are a resident of Mt. Hamiguitan Range in Davao Oriental and has any lead to the person who killed Philippine Eagle Pamana, then you could be P100,000 richer.

This after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources offered the reward money to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Pamana.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje made the announcement on Thursday, August 20, a day after Pamana’s death was confirmed.

Aside from the national government reward, TV personality Kim Atienza is also offering a reward money for the same purpose.

The provincial government of Davao Oriental is also thinking on giving the same reward money.

Local authorities in Davao Oriental have meanwhile ordered an all-out manhunt against the person/s responsible for killing the 3-year old Philippine Eagle Pamana inside the Mt. Hamiguitan Range that lies in the borders of Mati City, and San Isidro and Governor Generoso towns.

Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon said she already ordered the provincial police to conduct a thorough investigation and run after whoever is responsible for shooting Pamana with an airgun.

Metal fragments recovered inside the body of Pamana indicated that she was shot with an airgun.

Mati City Mayor Carlo Rabat meanwhile expressed regret for the death of Pamana. He appealed to the residents of barangays Lanca, Luban and Cabuaya in the Mt. Hamiguitan Range to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and immediately relay to the authorities if they have information of people who may possess airguns in their area.

Governor Malanyaon said she will discuss with the police the viability of offering a reward money for anyone who could give information that would lead to the identification and arrest of the culprit.

TV personality Kim Atienza has also offered reward to anyone who has information.

Pamana’s body was retrieved last August 16 in Mt. Hamiguitan.

Jose Lechoncito of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 11 Wildlife Section said that Pamana’s global positioning system (GPS) transmitter went into a “mortality mode” on August 10.

Mortality mode, he explained, is when the GPS transmission is no longer moving in one place. The following day, August 11, the Philippine Eagle Foundation readily formed a team and searched for Pamana.

On August 16, the carcass of Pamana was retrieved. Lechonsito said that the body was already in the advance state of decomposition.

Pamana was released into the wild last June 12, 2015 by the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the government of Davao Oriental province to commemorate the 117th celebration of Philippine Independence Day.

The ceremony was held at at the buffer zone of the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Barangay La Union in San Isidro town.

Pamana was rescued three years ago as an eaglet surviving two gunshot wounds. She was found in mountain range of Gabunan in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.

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Authorities are calling for the registration of motorized bancas for easy monitoring and prevention of the vessels from being used in the perpetration of crimes.

The call arose from the kidnapping incident in the Island Garden City of Samal where three foreigners and a Filipina were abducted at a resort and brought to Sulu onboard a motorized banca.

The banca was said to have been purchased in Samal for P300,000.

Police Regional Office 11 spokesman Supt. Antonio Rivera said they are now checking the information. He however refused to give any details.

Philippine Coast Guard Davao Commodore Joselito dela Cruz meanwhile suggested for the registration of motorized bancas. He said that like carnapped vehicles, boats can also be used in criminalities thus the need to have a system for easy identification and monitoring.

He also called on the local government units to be aggressive in the registration of motorized bancas in their respective AORs.

Commodore dela Cruz said that they are presently conducting seaborne operations with Task Force Samal to secure the resorts in Samal after the September 21 kidnapping.

He said the resort owners themselves are now initiating the implementation of tight security measures in the island to ensure that the kidnapping incident would not happen again.

Dela Cruz said that prior to the kidnapping, resort owners are hardly coordinating with the authorities in the security measures of the island.

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The recently-installed farmers inside the Lapanday-controlled banana plantation in Tagum City, Davao del Norte are now crying harassment from guards allegedly hired by the Lorenzo-owned company whose three facilities were attacked by the New People’s Army rebels last month.

The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) claimed that, over the weekend, Lapanday guards have started fencing some of the 154-hectares area given to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform.

Nante Mantos of UMA said that three blocks of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries’s area consist of about 20 hectares were fenced off by Lapanday guards since Saturday evening.

MARBAI spokesperson Antonio Tuyac said that when they demanded the guards to leave, the guards would say, “You are not the ones who hired us. Our employers Lapanday ordered us to stay here.”

Company guards also brandish their firearms when MARBAI members question their presence.

Last May 18, DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano led the installation of 159 farmers inside the Lapanday-controlled banana plantation in Purok San Isidro, Barangay Madaum.

The 159 farmers were allotted with 145 hectares of land by the government thru the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. But so far only 108 hectares have been made available by Lapanday as the remaining 37 hectares are still being contested.

On the same day of the installation, Lapanday Foods Corporation filed graft charges against Sec. Mariano before the Ombudsman.

Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao meanwhile belittled the graft case filed by Lapanday Foods Corp.

“It is a desperate measure, as clearly, Lapanday is already isolated, they are seeking an ally with the Office of the Ombudsman, and we urge them, especially Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, not to allow the institution to be used as an instrument for the feudal interest of the Lorenzo family,” Casilao said in a press statement.

In a released statement, Lapanday maintains that it owns the fruits coming from the San Isidro area despite the reentry of former members of the cooperative it is in contract with.

The Company stressed that its contract with the Hijo Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (HEARBCO-1) shall continue.

“The reentry of its former members into the farm does not modify the existing agreement where HEARBCO- 1 is obligated to deliver and sell the fruits from the whole plantation to Lapanday,” Lapanday stated.

Lapanday said that it shall take all necessary steps for its contract
with HEARBCO-1 to be strictly enforced and complied with. The company warned that it shall file criminal and civil cases against any person or entity who shall interfere with the agreement.