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Court junks police-military charge against teacher-unionist

By Joseph Cuevas

A municipal court in Agusan del Norte dismissed the case against a teacher and leader of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the Caraga Region.

Citing lack of evidence, the 2nd municipal circuit trial court in Santiago Tubay approved the recommendation of the provincial prosecutor and ordered the dismissal of the attempted homicide charge filed against Rosanilla “Lai” Consad.

Consad is a special education teacher and assistant principal of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City. She is also a member of ACT’s National Council.

The court said, “Finding merit on the counterveilling evidence submitted by the accused Rosanilla ‘Lai’ Consad, the investigating Provincial Prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the case against her for total lack of evidence.”

The court added that the accused proved she was at home on November 21, 2020, the day of the ambush the military alleged she was part of.

Through messages stored on her mobile phone, the teacher proved she was busy with her laundry and was in fact assisted by her son on the morning of the incident.

She was also busy on Facebook and sending messages to her co-teachers and DepEd school supervisor.

Assistant Principal and Alliance of Concerned Teachers national council officer Rosanilla Consad. (Supplied photo)

Consad was arrested last March 17 by a combined team of police and military personnel who later charged her with the crime of attempted homicide for participating in a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush in Sitio Manhupaw in Santiago, Agusan Del Norte.

ACT hailed the court’s decision, adding the “ridiculous case” against Consad was only meant to harass and persecute her for being an ACT unionist.

“This is a clear case of the state’s deplorable weaponization of the law against critics and dissenters,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

The group said that in its press conference after Consad’s arrest, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) falsely claimed she was a high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA officer.

Weeks after her arrest, NTF-ELCAC and DepEd Caraga also held a seminar that red-tagged teacher Lai in one of the presentations, ACT said.

ACT said it is preparing to file counter-charges against those who arrested and unjustly charged her. #

‘Kill-kill-kill mindset’ caused police officer to kill grandmother, rights groups say

Human rights groups expressed alarm at the spate of killings of civilians by police officers, with Karapatan calling for a system change within State security forces.

Following the killing of a 52-year old grandmother by a police sergeant in Fairview, Quezon City Monday night, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said a dangerous mindset ails many among security forces in the country.

“How many more should die, before it is acknowledged that the system that drives State security forces to kill civilians needs to be changed?” Palabay asked.

Palabay added there are more than enough recent cases to indicate that the public killings by police officers are not isolated incidents.

Kaparatan listed the following cases involving police officers, military men and even community security personnel in the last three months:

-On May 31, 2021, a drunk Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan shot 59-year old Lilibeth Valdez in Brgy. Greater Fairview in Quezon City.

-On May 29, 2021, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Reynaldo Bocala, 75, and his 60-year old companion Wilfredo Epago were killed during a police and military raid in Pavia, Iloilo.

-On May 23, 2021, police shot Edwin Arnigo, an 18-year old with autism, during a raid of an illegal cockfighting game in Valenzuela City. Arnigo happened to just pass by the area when executed by a police officer.

-On May 11, 2021, peasant leader Joseph Canlas died after contracting COVID-19 inside a prison in Pampanga. Canlas was arbitrarily arrested during a questionable police and military raid on March 30, 2021.

-On April 19, 2021, 35-year old Retchie Nepomuceno was killed along a road in Cebu City, after accusing a police staff sergeant of raping her while in police custody.

-On April 9, 2021, Ernanie Jimenez died after being beaten by barangay tanod for allegedly violating curfew rules in Calamba City, Laguna.

-On April 2, 2021, 21-year old Darren Manaog Penaredondo died, after being forced to do 300 rounds of pumping exercise in General Trias, Cavite for allegedly violating community quarantine policies.

-On March 7, 2021, nine activists in Southern Tagalog – a fisherfolk couple, a trade union leader, four indigenous farmers, an urban poor activist and a youth leader – were killed in simultaneous police and military raids in three provinces.

Karapatan said police claims that the incidents are “isolated incidents” are simply not true.

“What is clear and apparent is that these violations are brazenly conducted, at many times in full view of an audience. What is clear and apparent is that a governance driven by a kill-kill-kill policy is fostering a environment of insecurity,” she said.

Palabay added that the dangerous mindset of normalizing such killings is deeply ingrained among State forces.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it shall be conducting a motu propio investigation into the shooting of Valdez.

PMSgt,Henzie Zinampan in front of a church building. (Facebook photo)

In a video circulating online, an allegedly drunk PMSgt. Zinampan can be seen grabbing the victim’s hair and eventually shooting her through the neck.

Ironically, in a standard declaration among police officers, Zinampan has condemned fellow PMSgt. Jonel Nuezca who was also caught on video shooting and killing mother and son Sonia and Frank Gregorio during an altercation in Paniqui, Tarlac Province last December 21.

“This incident is gravely concerning as we expect our police to ‘serve and protect,’ and not be at the frontlines of violating rights, let alone arbitrarily curtailing one’s right to life,” CHR executive director and spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

De Guia also said the CHR urged the PNP to translate commitments of internal cleansing into actual reduction of cases of human rights violations on the ground after a string of recent deaths and killings attributed to police officers.

“One death is one too many. We urge the government to address these violations with the larger view that the protection of human rights is primarily a State obligation,” de Guia said.

Newly-installed Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar has ordered the Quezon City Police District to file murder and administrative cases against Zinampan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

DOLE rejects one of Debold’s last schemes; KMU hails stoppage of ‘evil attempt’

General Debold Sinas may not get everything he wants after all as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) rejected the implementation of one of his last projects as outgoing chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In a letter, DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello III dismissed as additional red tape Sinas’ proposal for the imposition of the National Police Clearance System (NPCS) on everyone who wishes to transact with the department.

“[R]equiring DOLE’s clientele to secure a police clearance issued by PNP’s national headquarters to avail of our services will do more harm than good,” Bello told Sinas.

The labor secretary explained that in a rapid survey he ordered in response to the general’s request, 94 percent of employers and workers are not in favor of the PNP’s latest scheme.

“It is a form of red tape to all and an additional financial burden to many,” Bello said.

The labor secretary also explained that the NPCS has no legal basis and may in fact violate the Constitution, the Labor Code and other laws.

Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III’s rejection of police chief Debold Sinas’ proposal.

Sinas, controversial for his violation of the government’s pandemic lockdown protocols during his 55th birthday celebration in 2020, retires on Saturday, May 8, on his 56th birth anniversary.

Sinas’ tenure as PNP chief has also been widely condemned for brutal counter-insurgency drives nationwide that killed civilian activists and arrested scores of others with unvarying illegal weapons and explosive charges.

Despite numerous complaints however, President Rodrigo Duterte refused to have his PNP chief investigated and has in fact publicly exonerated the controversial general.

‘Revenue generation’

In a March 10 letter, Sinas informed Bello of the PNP’s NPCS and proposed that the DOLE require a national police clearance for all who wish to transact with the department.

Sinas justified the NPCS scheme as the PNP’s effort to make police clearances more effective.

“For the longest time, the PNP has been issuing Local Police Clearance (LPC) nationwide to determine if an individual has any record. In the issuance thereof, however, the same has little impact on the aforesaid primary mandate of the PNP considering that more focus is being made on income or revenue generation,” Sinas said.

The controversial police chief revealed that only the local government units benefit from the revenues collected from issuing LPCs.

Sinas’ controversial NPCS proposal rejected by 94 percent of workers and employers.

Sinas also admitted that the sources of information, scope, period of validity, processing time and format of the LPC vary in every local police station nationwide.

“Since the record checking is localized, an individual may be cleared in one jurisdiction although he has criminal records in other places,” Sinas further admitted.

‘Blatant transgression’

Labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed appreciation for Bello’s decision, noting however the labor department should not have dignified Sinas’ proposal with a survey.

“It is uncalled for. It should have been junked outright and immediately at an early stage. It is incorrect for the DOLE to even subject the matter to a survey,” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog told Kodao.

Labog said the PNP’s attempt to require workers to seek clearance prior to being able to transact business with DOLE is a “blatant transgression” of workers’ rights that included the right to privacy, self-organization and freedom of association.

“It reeks of arrogance and…militarization of the bureaucracy,” Labog said.

The survey ordered by Bello.

“The…proposal is a slap to these (are basic worker’s rights). Why must we ask for permits from the PNP? What are those ‘transactions’? It is vague like any other fascist scroll such as the Anti-Terror Law. [It is another] tool for harassment at intimidation of the workers,” KMU said in an earlier April 21 statement.

The KMU said workers actively rejected Sina’s proposal through Bello’s survey.

“We laud workers for standing against this directive and using the survey to pressure Bello to junk Sinas’ proposal,” the labor group said.

“Sinas leaves his post with bloody hands and even attempted to leave something evil against workers behind. It’s good that a united workers’ voice stopped him,” KMU said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Hijack

Cartoon by Crisby Delgado, PUP/Kodao

After red-tagging the community pantry phenomenon, the Philippine National Police ordered its station commanders to put up their own versions. The PNP said their pantries must employ pre-designated beneficiaries in the rollout of their Barangayanihan initiative. “Respective beneficiaries will take pictures of the activity and post in their respective FB accounts. These netizens can be planted beneficiary civilians so as to manifest community’s appreciation,” read the police project brief. #

‘TANIM PILA’: Memo instructs police to use ‘planted’ beneficiaries at community pantries

AlterMidya

A memorandum and attached project brief from Philippine National Police (PNP) Cagayan de Oro are instructing cops to employ pre-designated beneficiaries in the rollout of their Barangayanihan initiative, which is inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry.

Under the said project, police precincts will serve ‘breakfast lugaw’ to select constituents in respective barangays. They are required to cite the Maginhawa Community Pantry as inspiration and make it clear that the effort is a partnership between the precinct and barangay donors and stakeholders.

“Respective beneficiaries will take pictures of the activity and post in their respective FB accounts. These netizens can be planted beneficiary civilians so as to manifest community’s appreciation,” read the project brief.

Although the project brief is attached to the said PNP Regional Office 10 memo, it mentions implementation by almost all precincts in Manila Police District and “possibly the whole NCR and other regions” in the rollout phase from April 21 to 25. Moreover, the next phase from April 26 to May 2 instructs nationwide Barangayanihan.

During this phase, the police are likewise instructed to “ask or plant civilian beneficiaries to take pics/selfies and posting in respective [Facebooks] with appreciation captions and standard MANDATORY hashtags.”

The objectives of Barangayanihan, according to its project brief, include forging stronger ties with the grassroots through the “basic unit of society”, the barangay.

The police directive also explicitly states that “The more we manifest collaborations with the barangay citizenry, the more we gain grounds in the fight against insurgency”, confirming the suspicion of several critics that state forces are planning to use the community pantry against the progressive movement.

Hijacking community pantries?

A portion of the project brief reads “Respective beneficiaries will take pictures and post in their respective FB..”

The said memorandum listed among its references the PNP’s guidance and compliance under Executive Order 70, which institutionalized the whole-of-nation approach against insurgency and established the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Just last week, NTF-ELCAC executive director Allen Capuyan in a leaked Viber message encouraged the task force’s different clusters to partner with the public and private sectors to initiate community pantry-related activities.

Capuyan’s message read that the task force is encouraging its clusters, including the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support (PLEDS), the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Empowerment Cluster (PRLEC), etc. to start their own community pantry activities.

The PNP memo to organize precinct-run community pantries seems to come from this directive from NTF-ELCAC. Former Bayan Muna party-list representative Teddy Casiño said that the task force’s latest approach follows the controversial red-tagging of community pantries by NTF-ELCAC officials Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., which drew huge flak from the public.

“Ok sana kung gustong magtayo ng community pantry ng mga pulis. Pero naman, pati ba ito tataniman nila?” Casiño tweeted.

“Clearly, after failing to discredit and intimidate the community pantry movement, the NTF-ELCAC, police and military establishment are poised to hijack it due to their paranoia that it’s all a communist plot,” he said. “They simply can’t leave a good thing alone.”

In a statement, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said that the huge budget of the PNP should instead be rechannelled to cash aid for the poor. The Barangayanihan, it said, is a “publicity stunt” that hijacks pantries and attempts to conceal the government’s failure in addressing the pandemic.

“Desperadong hakbang ito gamit ang buwis ng mamamayan,” KMU leader Jerome Adonis said.”Ideretso nyo na ang pera sa mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng P100 daily wage subsidy at P10k ayuda.”

With reports from Ratziel San Juan

Curfew violator dies after ‘cruel police punishment’

[UPDATED, 7:08 AM, April 6, 2021] A man died in General Trias, Cavite after being punished by the police for violating the pandemic lockdown curfew, an activist organization reported.

The League of Filipino Students (LFS)-University of the Philippines in Los Baños chapter said a certain Darren Manaog Peñaredondo died on Easter Sunday, April 4, as a result of being ordered to perform about 300 cycles of an exercise routine.

The LFS said the victim stepped out of their house Thursday evening to buy drinking water but was apprehended by Barangay Tejero security personnel and turned over to the police

Facebook page Go Cavite also reported the incident, saying Peñaredondo and fellow arrestees were ordered by the police to perform 100 “pumping” exercises but were told to repeat them twice as they were not in sync.

“Pumping” is a series of punishing exercises that may include air squats, sit-ups and push ups.

The incident happened at the vicinity of the General Trias Municipal Hall, Go Cavite said.

Peñaredondo’s death was first reported by his cousin Adrian Luceña who also wrote on his Facebook page the victim was allowed to come home on Friday morning at about eight o’clock in the morning but already had difficulty walking.

“At dawn of Saturday, he (Peñaredondo) suffered repeated convulsions and was revived. But he eventually became comatose until he died at 10 o’clock (on Saturday evening),” Luceña wrote in Filipino.

Luceña added that Peñaredondo told him he collapsed several times as they were being punished.

He said they will demand justice for Peñaredondo’s death.

Luceña’s post has gone viral on various social media platforms.

A video taken by the victim’s common law wife Reichelyn Balce was posted by GMA Network showing Peñaredondo unable to stand up and rolling on the floor in agony.

The news report said the victim was taken to a hospital where he died.

The LFS said the victim’s death was a case of police brutality.

The Gen. Trias police chief Lt. Col. Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Solero meanwhile denied they punish curfew violators and said they only lecture those arrested.

He added the police only order some sort of community service to those they have apprehended for curfew violations.

Gen. Trias Mayor Antonio Ferrer said an investigation has been launched. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Laborer rebuffs PNP’s order to spy on KMU; reveals assassination plot vs NDFP consultants

A construction worker said police intelligence operatives tried recruiting him to spy on labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and help in the planned abduction and assassination of remaining National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants.

The laborer however rejected the offer and reported the incident to his former KMU colleagues.

James (an alias), a construction laborer and a former KMU driver, said two men who identified themselves as Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group members allegedly tried to intimidate and bribe him agree to be a police spy on KMU.

In a press conference, James said he was fetched by barangay security personnel (tanod) and was taken to Barangay Banaba Hall in San Mateo, Rizal last Friday, March 19, on the pretense he needed to secure a permit for a construction project.

The victim was working at a renovation project at KMU secretary for human rights Eleanor de Guzman’s house at the time of the incident.

At the barangay hall, he was isolated in a room with the two police personnel who ordered him to return as KMU staff driver and spy for the police.

Makipagtulungan kang maayos, pagkatapos naman ay peace-peace tayo. ‘Yang pagtatrabaho mo, kayang-kaya naming ibigay ang pangangailangan mo, basta bumalik ka lang sa Balai para mag-spy,” the alleged police officers told James. (You cooperate properly, and then there would be peace between us. We will give you what you need as long as you return to Balai to spy for us.)

Balai is KMU’s national headquarters formally known as Balai Obrero (Workers’ House).

The unnamed officers told James they are particularly interested with de Guzman and her father, NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis.

Assassination of peace consultants

The police told James they intend to abduct and assassinate all remaining NDFP peace consultants.

“Matagal na naming kayong minamanmanan, buti nga kami ang kausap niyo kasi may isang unit naming ang dudukot sa inyo,” James quoted the officers as saying. (We have you under surveillance for a long time. You should be grateful it is us who are talking to you because we have one unit tasked to abduct all of you.)

“Uubusin daw nila ang mga consultant,” he added. (They said they will finish off all consultants.)

James said the two officers took photos of him and demanded to reveal his phone number.

He also noticed at least eight other men on board motorcycles and heavily-tinted cars who followed him to his next destination. All vehicles did not have license plates, he added.

De Guzman and KMU national chairperson Elmer Labog said they condemn the police’s “criminal act” as direct and dangerous attacks against labor unionists and other human rights defenders.

The KMU said they are reporting the incident to the Commission on Human Rights to ask for an investigation.

Labog also called on the Supreme Court, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice to use their powers to put a stop to the killings and unjust arrests of workers and human rights defenders. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PNP letter reveals ongoing profiling of lawyers

The police are going after human rights lawyers representing suspected communist sympathizers, a letter from an intelligence officer revealed.

In a letter to the clerk of court of the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Police Lieutenant Fernando Calabria Jr, requested for a list of lawyers representing CTG (communist terrorist groups) personalities in proceedings.

Calabria’s letter said the request is in compliance with directives from “higher PNP (Philippine National Police) offices.”

The letter, dated March 12, was printed on an officer Calbayog City Police Station letterhead.

PNP’s letter request to the Calbayog RTC.

The request also came with a table that seeks information on the lawyers’ names, affiliations, clients’ names, “modes of neutralization”, cases filed and status.

Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Hosaka said the Calbayog RTC has confirmed receipt of the request on Friday afternoon, “but no action has been made by them on the request.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines quickly condemned PNP’s action, saying the letter is “improper, deplorable, and alarming.”

“The letter disregards the very basic principle that lawyers are free and duty-bound to represent those accused regardless of political or ideological persuasions so that their rights are protected, due process is observed, justice is done, and that the rule of law is upheld,” the IBP through its national president and board chairman Domingo Cayosa said in a statement.

Cayosa asked government authorities to investigate the incident and exact accountability to ensure that lawyers can do their job without threats, harassment, intimidation, or retribution.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said the incident is an assault to the administration of justice.

“The letter-request shows the barefaced disregard of the PNP for human rights, particularly the right to access lawyers and legal services. It is an affront to the right and duty of lawyers to exercise their profession without fear as well as the administration of justice,” the NUPL said in a statement.

The lawyers’ group said the police have no right to profile lawyers on the basis of their clients’ personalities or ideologies.

Under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, lawyers must “not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions,” the group explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Four other Southern Tagalog massacre victims identified

Four other massacre victims in last Sunday’s brutal police operations against activists have been identified, all of whom were accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives like the other five.

Human rights group Karapatan Timog Katagalugan said Dumagat Sierra Madre members Puroy Berhemedo dela Cruz and Randy Berhemedo dela Cruz were shot dead by the police in Sitio Mina, Barangay Sta. Inez, Tanay, Rizal.

Urban poor activists Abner Damas Esto y Mendoza and Edward Damas Esto y Mendoza were also killed by the police in sitio Macaingalan, Barangay Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal as part of the Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants dubbed COPLAN ASVAL by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines across four provinces last March 7.

In a separate alert, Gabriela Youth Laguna said the dela Cruzes were killed separately but in a similar fashion.

Quoting Puroy’s wife Minda, Gabriela said the raiders arrived between three to four o’clock in the morning and ordered them to surrender with their alleged firearms.

But even before the dela Cruzes were able to comply the raiders shot at the victim four times and killed him, the group added.

Gabriela added that Randy’s family was violently roused from sleep an hour later when the raiders kicked their door down, ordered his wife Violy and their children out and walk 50 feet away.

As soon as the Randy’s wife and children turned their backs, the victim was shot multiple times, killing him instantly.

No details were provided as to how the Estos were killed.

Like the two others killed in Rodriguez, Rizal at what media groups dub as “Bloody Sunday”, the Esto siblings were members of the red-tagged urban poor group San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD-K3).

The PNP earlier bragged it killed nine persons last Sunday in a “big score” against alleged communists.

The five other massacre victims earlier identified by Karapatan Timog Katagalugan were:

  • Michael Dasigao and Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno in Rodriguez, Rizal;
  • Manny Asuncion in Dasmarinas, Cavite; and
  • Couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

The police also declared it arrested six others of the same charge as illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Karapatan Timog Katagalugan said among those arrested was Joan Ignacio Efren of Sitio Lukuang Malaki, San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal.

Earlier identified as arrested were:

  • Steve Mendoza and Elizabeth Camoral in Cabuyao, Laguna;
  • Nimfa Lanzanas in Calamba, Laguna;
  • Eugene Eugenio in Antipolo city.

The PNP refuses to identify the nine other target of its operations but human rights groups said one Lito Baez of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Batangas missed being killed or arrested as he was not home when the police raided his house. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CHR: Duterte’s kill order emboldens impunity

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order “to shoot and kill right away” may have encouraged the massacre and mass arrest of activists in Southern Tagalog on Sunday, March 7.

CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said the national human rights institution expresses concern on Duterte’s statement on Friday, 5 March, to not only kill communists but to “ignore human rights.”

De Guia said: “Words matter and such words can embolden some to act with abuse and impunity.”

The mass killing and arrests of prominent activists and unionists in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas in an operation called Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants was launched two days after Duterte ordered the police and military at a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill! Kill them! Don’t mind human rights! I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” the President said.

‘Brutal deaths’

Reacting to the brutal deaths of nine activists across three provinces, however, de Guia said, “CHR finds the number of deaths most concerning in light of the pattern of prevalent red-tagging and escalating attacks against activists,” de Guia said.

De Guia said the government is primarily obligated to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of everyone.

“Where the right to life is concerned, the government has the utmost obligation to fulfil its obligation—no matter which side of the political spectrum one belongs,” the lawyer added.

The CHR called on the government to urgently investigate, “given the brutal nature of the deaths and allegations of irregularities in the said law enforcement operations. “

De Guia also reminded the government to honor its domestic and international commitment to uphold, respect and protect human rights.

“We have yet to see concrete response to our repeated plea for tangible reduction of violence on the ground,” she said.

De Guia added that its Region IV-A (CALABARZON) office CHR is pursuing independent probes into the bloody operations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)