Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Smile to Risk: The Continuous Use of Amalgam Filling (Investigative Report)

October 19, 2012 1 comment
A Smile to Risk: The Continuous Use of Amalgam Filling
Tesnado, Fatima Abegail H.
Tobongbanua, Aljon F.
Ylarde, Tabitha Andrea V
          Dentistry, one of the noblest professions in the world which offers a chance for its practitioners to touch, treat and even do up one of many people’s asset and obsession – teeth. Many people go to dentists to have their teeth cleaned and fixed, put braces, add dental fillings, etc. But an alarming issue has already started to startle the field of dentistry – the issue concerning the practice of dentistry in the country has something to do with the use of amalgam filling in the restoration processes of our teeth. 
          Dental fillings are used to prevent the removal or extraction of teeth affected by cavities. There are three kinds of dental fillings that dentists use. These are: Glass Ionomer filling, Light Cure filling, and lastly, Amalgam Filing.
         Photo retrieved from amalgam-removal on October 19, 2012.
         Glass Inonomer filling is made up of silicate glass powder which is combined with water-soluble polymer to produce a cement-like mixture that is used to fill in the spaces acquired through the removal of cavities from the teeth. It is said to be the most expensive among the three dental fillings. It releases fluoride ions which are believed to improve the strength of our teeth. Also, it has the same colour of our teeth that makes it looks natural.
          Like Glass Ionomer filling, Light Cure filling or commonly termed as White Composite Dental filling has the same colour of our teeth. Composite cement is treated with light so that the composite filling placed on the teeth will dry faster.
          Compared to Glass Ionomer and Light Cure filling, Amalgam filling is silver in colour. It is made up of pounded silver alloy that is mixed with Mercury (Hg) which binds the silver alloys altogether – a process called trituration. In present, dentists use Amalgamator, a machine used to prepare Amalgam in a faster and easier way. Among these three, Amalgam is the cheapest and most durable. It is said to last up to three years or more.
          As the cheapest amongst the three dental fillings, Amalgam filling ranges from P200-P300 pesos per surface of teeth compared to Light Cure and Glass Inonomer filling that range from P500 to P1, 500 per teeth surface.
          Amalgam filling is said to bring harmful effects to the human body because of its mercury content. It is assumed to affect the mind processing of people, especially on children. Likewise, it can also cause Alzheimer’s disease and is harmful to pregnant women. The big question now is that, does the public know of this issue? And how do the dentists across the country cope up with this concern?
          Rodelio Garcia, 24 years of age and a native of Balete, Batangas, is one of the many patients who undergone amalgam restorations. He said that it was October last year 2008 when he went to a dentist at the town of Balete to put fillings on the two surfaces of his teeth. He let his dentist put Amalgam filling on his teeth as it is the cheapest among the three dental fillings that his dentist offered him.  He was caught unaware of the effects that amalgam may cause to him. 
          Garcia however said in a one on one interview that he hasn’t experienced anything wrong or any side effects of the amalgam fillings used in his teeth. But he wanted it replaced immediately right after he knew about its harmful effects to human health to avoid any complications. 
Six dentists were interviewed and asked about their opinion and insights about Amalgam filling.
          “Even now, I still use Amalgam fillings to my patients,” said Dr. Immacculate Venus Tesnado, a dentist in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. She graduated from Centro Escolar University in 1995 and has been a private practitioner for 11 years.
           “Silver filling (Amalgam filling) is much cheaper compared to composite filling (white dental filling) that’s why people prefer to use it,” Dr. Tesnado said when asked why a lot still use amalgam. She said that for eleven years, she still prefers using amalgam because it is more durable than any other dental filling, and it lasts for a long time.
           Dr. Tesnado did hear about the controversy of amalgam filling but she never encountered any case about amalgam causing certain diseases to her patients yet.  “Even in licensure exams, the government still requires the use Amalgam filling,” she added.
          “Aesthetically wise, it is better to use Composite filling (white dental filling) and Glass Inonomer filling since it has the same color of our teeth. Mostly, yung tumatangkilik ng Light Cure tsaka Glass Ionmer ay yung mas tinitingnan yung aesthetics. Katulad nung mga stewardess na patients namin, mas gusto nila yung kakulay ng ngipin para daw malinis tingnan,” Tesnado said. “But when it comes to durability and strength, mas ginagamit ko talaga yung Amalgam,” Tesnado added.
         Same as Dr. Tesnado, Dr. Anthony Kim Dian M. Ong Jr., a dentist from Oriental Mindoro, said that he still uses amalgam. In his 27 years of private practice, he said that he knew the issue about Amalgam filling bringing harmful effects on human health, but he objects and said that it is not yet proven. 
“I prefer Amalgam filling because it is easy to prepare and handle. At the same time, it is long lasting as to dental restoration is concerned,“ Ong said. “If amalgam is used in proper ratio, it is not harmful and hazardous to our health,” he added.
          Dr. Celestine Mogol Jr., a dentist, also from Oriental Mindoro, also claimed that he still uses and chooses to use Amalgam Filling. He said that he only read the Amalgam controversies over newspapers and has no much knowledge about it. “I prefer Amalgam because it is durable and it lasts for years not like Composite Filling,” he said.
          While Dr. Rizza Cruz, a dentist in Balete, Batangas, who has been a private practitioner for eleven years, said, that she stopped using it a year after she started her practice and Amalgam Filling had been pulled out to her clinic since year 1996.
           She said that Amalgam filling is said to contain Mercury which may cause unwanted side effects to her patients. 
           “Mercury is a heavy metal and it is very possible that it may bring harm to my patients,” Said Dr. Cruz. However, she said that there are a lot of people who prefers amalgam filling than white dental fillers since it’s stronger and cheaper. “When I was still on training (OJT), our Head Dentist doesn’t use Amalgam. From there, I also stopped using Amalgam when I started my practice,” she added. “Tsaka, I don’t want to risk my profession, syempre kahit na wala pang proven na effects yung Amalgam, mas mabuti na yung sigurado,” she explained. 
            Like Dr. Cruz, Dr. Joyce M. Ng, 42, a dentist from Oriental Mindoro,is no longer using Amalgam filling anymore. “I actually didn’t stop (using amalgam) immediately, but I started shifting from Amalgam to Light Cure filling since 2003,” said Ng. “Nabasa ko sya dati sa isang newspaper,” she added.
“I use Light Cure filling because its strength is comparable with Amalgam. Sabi nga nila, pinakamatibay yung Amalgam, pero halos ganon na rin naman yung durability ng Light Cure,” Ng added.
            Dr. Marites Mercene – Custodio, 50, also from Oriental Mindoro, discontinue using Amalgam filling since 1992. She explained that she knew the issue of Amalgam. She also added that Light Cure is better in use than Amalgam, specially, in its aesthetic components where Light Cure feeling looks like a real teeth. 
            Last 2008, the Department of Health (DOH) released an Administrative Order No. 21 about the Gradual Phase-out of Mercury in all Philippine Health Care Centre. 
            Health Care Centres covers hospitals, infirmaries, birthing home, clinics including Medical, Ambulatory, Dialysis, Health Centres and Dispensaries, Surgical, Alternative Medicine, and Dental.
            It described Mercury as highly-toxic that may cause harmful effects to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, immune systems and to the kidneys and lungs. Exposure to mercury can also cause tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood.
            As stated in the Administrative Order, as early as 1991, several European countries like Sweden, France, Denmark and Norway already banned the use of mercury-containing thermometers.

            Administrative Order No. 21’s General Provisions are the following:
            1. All Hospitals shall immediately discontinue the distribution of mercury thermometers to patients through     the distribution of hospital admission/discharge kits.
             2. All Hospitals shall follow the guidelines for the gradual phase-out of mercury in health care facilities described in this document in the timeline specified. 
             3. All new Health Care Facilities applying for a License to Operate shall submit an inventory of all mercury-containing devices that will be used in their facilities and a corresponding mercury elimination program.
             4. All other Health Care Facilities other than hospital shall make a Mercury Minimization Program based on the guidelines set by this administrative order.
             This order from DOH gave six months of preparation to all health care facilities to gradually eliminate any materials containing mercury. And within twenty-four months from the order’s effectivity, health care centres should remove/minimize these mercurial materials. 
             As Amalgam filling is known to contain Mercury, its usage is still common in dental restoration, nowadays. Here, Amalgam filling falls under those mercury-containing materials that AO No. 21 prohibits.
             During an interview with Engr. Gaudencio T. Twing of DOH, he said that Amalgam filling is the most commonly used mercury-containing material in dental clinics here in the Philippines. “As much as possible, Administrative Order No. 0021 prevents the use of these mercurial products in dental restoration,” he said. “Pati yung mga Amalgamators na ginagamit nila para gawin yung Amalgam filling, kasama dun sa dapat i-phase-out,” he added.
              He also mentioned that Mercury was already banned as a tool for mining. Here, he disclosed that small-scale miners even get mercury supplies from dentists and dental clinics.
              As DOH already released an order of phasing-out materials containing Mercury since 2008, a lot of health care facilities/facilitators should have known about this order. If so, why do a lot of dentists still use Amalgam filling in dental restorations in present?
              In this, phasing-out of Amalgam fillers had already started since 2008, but until now, not all Filipinos are aware that the use of Amalgam fillers is hazardous and poisonous to us.
              The government should take this issue into consideration as this creates a big impact on the health of every Filipinos. Information dissemination and a stricter government should take action on this matter. As they say, “Health is wealth.” So, why risk our health into Amalgam Fillings? 
Categories: Uncategorized

The “Limits” of Freedom: Two Student Editors’ Views On The Campus Press Situation

March 12, 2012 3 comments

Two ladies named Grellyn and Jesusa studied college in a chilly city named Baguio. According to them, they have lived a simple life, trying to balance their academic requirements with their responsibility – responsibility which can be hard for many. These two ladies are students, as well as campus journalist.

It is a tough job to be a campus journalist. Unlike high school days, tertiary student publications can be considered as a microcosm of the practice and the society – they reflect the real – life situations of the people in the community.


In July 1958, Saint Louis University published the White and Blue’s oldest issue which can be still accessed. It was a community newspaper back then – with news, researches, news, articles, poems and essays in English, Filipino, Ilocano and Spanish.

A shift from community to academic newspaper took place in 1959 wherein the paper primarily consisted of news and features from all the sectors of the Louisian community. Literary works served as a way for students to express themselves during this time.

In 1961, innovations such as photojournalism and cartoons served as an improvement presented by White and Blue.

A supplement in the newspaper’s existence came in the first semester of 1968. It was named Sapientia, which means wisdom. Sapientia served as a magazine – featuring students’ lives inside and outside the university.

In 1972, Martial Law impeded the publication of almost all the newspapers in the country – arrested journalists left and right and padlocked printing presses. This did not give exception to the White and Blue. During that time, only the Chronicle was said to be circulating around the campus.

The dark years passed and the restoration of the democracy happened. In 1993, the publication was alleged to be bias, leftists and radicals. The newspaper emphasized their primary duties to the Louisian community – to serve as mouthpieces of the Student Body and venue for exchange of ideas in the university.

However, self – interest and power struggle over the staff made the publication suffered more. With this, the administration decided to discontinue the publication without resolving the issue. For three years since then, SLU had no publication.

In December 1996, White and Blue picked up the pieces and initiated a screening for the staff.

After years of being mum, the Valentines’ day of 1997 marked the re-birth of White and Blue. The new staff members published an issue.

Years passed, White and Blue continued to improve their publication to cater the Louisian community. Supplements like Sapientia, Kwaderno (literary portfolio), Iglap (photography portfolio) and Guhit (comic strip portfolio) came into existence.

Up to this day, the publication still maintains their passion for truth, justice and campus freedom.


According to Batayang Oryentasyon ng UP Baguio Outcrop 2008, the word Outcrop was defined as “a coming out of bedrock to the surface of the ground; also; the part of a rock formation that thus appears.”

The publication started roughly around 1962 as a tri – weekly newsletter which showcases news articles and few student and organizational ads.

The picture above was an Outcrop’s front page in its edition in 1963. (Courtesy of Outcrop)

During the First Quarter Storm, the publication was recognized as an alternative newsletter. Martial Law came and the publication ceased its publication. Despite this, Outcrop managed to release an underground publication.

Later on, the student publication became a mosquito press which served as the mouth piece of the people – writing news and issues which cannot be found on the crony press.

After the dark ages brought by Martial Law, Outcrop came back to continue its tradition and watchdog function – breaking issues about the university and the government and mobilizing movements for students, teachers and employees of UP Baguio.

The picture above was a part of Outcrop’s Edition on 1986. (Courtesy of Outcrop)

Outcrop’s alumni include Chancellor Priscilla Supnet – Macansantos and Professor Rey Rimando.


Fourth year BS Information Technology student Grellyn Paoad defined campus press freedom as having the chance to do one’s functions as a journalist without being harassed or manipulated. She also seen its importance and firmly believes that their publication, White and Blue, has it.

Journalism is already a familiar craft for her. She was former Editor – in – Chief in elementary and former Managing Editor in high school. She also garnered awards from various conferences such as RSPC and NSPC. At present, her only affiliation is SLU’s White and Blue.

“Strenuous yet fulfilling task,” Paoad described her take as a campus journalist. “Mahirap kasi kailangan mo talaga ng time-management skills. At the same time, fulfilling kasi alam mo na may nagagawa ka na kapaki-pakinabang. At marami ka ring natututuhan at nakikilala na mga tao.”

When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said: “Passion ko ang pagsusulat. Atsaka gusto kong ituloy ang nasimulan ko noong elementary.” 


Second year BA Social Sciences student Jesusa Paquibot said that campus press freedom is a critical aspect in one’s university life. Furthermore, she said “Dito [campus press freedom] nagsisimula ang ating tuwirang pagtatanggol ng ating karapatan sa pamamahayag bilang mag kabataan-estudyante.”

Like Paoad, Paquibot also had a taste of publication writing long before entering Outcrop. She became News Editor and Photojournalist during her high school days. In 2009, she also participated in Photojournalism category at RSPC. Currently, her only affiliation is the UPB Outcrop.

Maaring mangahulugan ito ng isang buhay estudyante na may mga karagdagang gawain para sa hinahabol na “deadline” ng bawat nilalabas ng publikasyon.” Paquibot defined what really a campus journalist is.

When asked why she continues to be on the publication, she said, “Upang mahasa sa pagsulat at magkaroon ng kaalaman sa mga pangyayari at isyung kinahaharap ng mga Pilipino.


In terms of the publication process, Paoad claimed than in SLU, it “is case to case basis.” Talks were made between the two parties in order to arrive at an issue’s conclusion which will be published. The publication has an adviser which oversees the publication from time to time.

Answering the issue that private schools were repressed and did not have campus press freedom as much as state universities have, Paoad said: “…hindi naman kami sinisikil ng admin sa pag-release ng mga publication. Kung sakali, kinakausap lang nila kami kung may gusto sila i-clarify. Also, added factor na wala naman kami nareceive na scholarship or benefits sa pagsali namin sa organization kaya wala rin sila panghawak sa amin kung nagkataon.”

She said that there are no forms of repression, as far as she is concerned.

On the other hand, she said past editorial boards experienced harassment but not to the extent that a libel case was slapped against them.

Meanwhile, Paquibot said that there are no consultations happening between them and their adviser in every publication’s issue. The publication believes that Outcrop is an independent institution and thus, members of the publication should choose what articles must be on the paper.

However, Outcrop sees the need of having an adviser. Paquibot said “…ang kahalagahan naman ng Adviser ay hindi rin maikakaila dahil isa sa mga tungkulin ng bawat student institution ay magkaroon rin ng ugnay ang mga ito sa iba’t ibang sektor sa loob ng unibersidad. Ang adviser ng Outcrop ay nagsisilbing representante ng mga kaguruan sa mga maaring gawing hakbang ng student publication sa mga aktibidad nito.”

Paquibot also commented about the presence of repression in UP Ang mga insidenteng masasabing may porma ng represyon ay hindi palaging nararanasan sa loob ng unibersidad, lalo pa’t ang UP ay isa sa mga institusyon sa ating bayan na nagtatanggol dito.” However she also added, “Sa kabila nito, hindi lubos na buo ang seguridad na hindi maranasan ng mga publikasyon sa loob ng pamantasan, gaya ng Outcrop, ang represyon maging sa UP. Sa tuwing dumadating sa puntong tila nagiging magkaiba o magkabaligtad ang interes ng administrasyon at ng mga institusyon ng sangkaestudyantehan, halimbawa.”

When asked if she already experienced harassment, she says “Nagpapasalamat ako kung gayon dahil sa ngayon, hindi pa naman ako nakararanas ng harassment. Kinalulungkot ko naman na ang iba kong kakilala na ginagawa rin ang aking mga tungkulin sa loob ng UPB at mula sa iba pang unibersidad ay direktang nakaranas na ng harassment, at kadalasan dahil hindi din madaling ipagtanggol ang ating sariling karapatan kung minsan dahil sa mga limitasyon, hindi agad-agad na nahaharap ang mga ito.”

Philippine Daily Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau Chief and CAC Professor Rolando Fernandez tackled in Journalism 107 class the essence of campus journalism in colleges and universities. Sir Rolly, as students and faculty members call him, argued that UP has campus freedom – for the members of Outcrop can freely choose and write topics which can voice out the interest of the students. However, private schools such as Saint Louis University may not have this will exercised – as the publication was confined to the stories that were purely positive and favorable to SLU’s administration.


A popular quote said that “With freedom comes with responsibility.” These two concepts cannot be separated from one another, based on a existentialist point of view. In spite of the issues surrounding these two newspapers – Paoad and Paquibot claimed that their respective student publications have campus press freedom. However, are they responsible?

Quoted from Paoad “Responsableng pamamahayag – wala kang kinikilingan, walang prinoprotektahan, at katotohanan lahat ng sinulat mo. Oo, sinisigurado namin na nasusunod ang Code of Ethics ng mga mamamahayag, dahil dapat din mabalanse mo ang mga karapatan mo bilang isang mamamahayag sa mga responsibilidad mo.

On the other hand, Paquibot said “Ang responsableng pamamayahag ay pamamahayag nang matapat, walang sinusundang pansariling interes, nagtatalakay sa isyu ng mamamayan, at gumagamit ng kritikal na pag-aanalisa sa mga isyung ito. Ang mga nabanggit, sa totoo ay, ay kulang pa upang buong mailarawan ang responsableng pamamahayag. Sa huli at simpleng sagot, ang responsableng pamamahayag ay hindi paglalathala ng bulag na kagustuhan kundi matapang na paglalathala ng mga katotohanan, gaano man kabigat ang mga ito.

In addition, she said “Ang Code of Ethics ay sinusundan ng mga mamamahayag ng publikasyon sa abot ng makakaya at rasyonal na pagpili ng mga hakbangin… At gaya ng lahat ng nagpapatuloy na institusyon, hindi maiiwasan ang mga pagkakamali, ngunit ang mga pagkakamaling, kung mayroon man, ay pinanghahawakan bilang dahilan ng pagbabago at patuloy na pag-unlad.”


One optimistic college student may infer some idealistic perspectives on viewing himself and the world. An example of a perspective being idealistically seen upon is the concept of freedom.

What really is freedom? Like any ideology believed in, there is no such thing as absolute ideology. According to Ms. Sabrina Nikki Ramos, a former UPB Social Sciences instructor, there is no such thing as absolute freedom. We are all free, yes, but we are grounded by rules. And these rules restrict individuals in doing acts that are not socially acceptable. It is because grave consequences may follow if these rules are not pursued.

Going back, do these publications have Campus Press Freedom? Yes, as stated. However, again, it is not absolute. #


A Notice to the Public: Baguio City Road Construction

March 12, 2012 30 comments

by Shiela May Aballa, Shekinah Angiwan, and Kimiyo Meadows

The Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (DPWH- BCDEO) stands by three principles:

(1) Right Cost – reasonable and fair budget allocation
(2) Right Project – constructions, rehabilitation and improvement where most needed
(3) Right Quality – durable and safe roads

Right Quality: Complaints on Road Construction

Salamat DPWH – Baguio is new “bungkal city” of the Philippines – Instead of the official page of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Baguio, this page is the first to appear if you search for “DPWH Baguio” on Facebook.

There are only two posts on this page. The first one is by Mark Anthony Molina. On August 27, 2011, he wrote:

can i know who is the officer in charge of the DPWH baguio!!! because last night i have accident i was running 20kph with my motor then suddenly i struck a gap on the road it is deep now my motor and my self flown away on the road my question is why do the DPWH construct a gap on the road and didnt coverd with cement that gap on the road is located at burnham road infront of ganza restaurant im the 3rd motorist who got accident in that area im lucky to survive and only minor bruises on my body is what ive got!!! can the damn DPWH fix that road u make people die!!!! im concern not only i got accident but im concern to my fellow motorist who are riding in that area!!!! baguio is on heavy traffic ryt now because of construction everywhere why do DPWH construct it on rainy season and during class season why dont they do it on summer times where baguio is not totally populated!!! WHY DPWH i need an answer!!! freaking road construction!!!

The DPWH is the first government agency that comes to mind when the topic is road construction. This is typical because the word “highways” is in the name and a responsibility of the department. But does this department accommodate complaints such as Molina’s?

Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato explained that many complaints were addressed to their department, but actually some complaints were not in their area of responsibility. Engineer Gallato clarified that their office’s concern is only the national roads in Baguio City. The Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) is not responsible for the complaints about the local roads, so not all traffic-related problems are their fault.

Engineer Gallato claims that they receive a lot of complaints, but when asked for the records of complaints, he said that they require a formal letter. Assistant District Engineer Romelda Bangasan did not show any record of complaints either, but she offered copies of the procedural response to complaints. The same reply can be found in local newspapers, they said.

When a taxi driver, who asked to remain anonymous, was asked to comment on the road construction in Baguio, he said that negative feedback is pervasive because of traffic and repetitive and simultaneous construction of the roads. He added that although they are upset, they cannot do anything about it. BCDEO claimed that they inform relevant agencies, like transportation offices such as the Traffic Management Branch (TMB), before a project is implemented, but the public utility drivers are not aware of this. The drivers also said that even if they were informed, it would still be an inconvenience.

Most of the time, “nagkikibit-balikat na lang kami,” one of the taxi drivers said. They passively live and work with what the higher offices implement.

“Paulit-ulit ginagawa ang Bokawkawan, halos yearly. Pero sabi ng engineer na kakilala ko, ‘pag concrete, tumatagal naman nang more than 10 years,” said another taxi driver. It is all about money because there are millions in the roads, he added.

BCDEO explains that they use a machine, Highway Development Management (HDM-4) System, to examine the roads and they base potential and ongoing projects on the results of the database. The treatment of the road depends on the level of damage to the road. Some roads need only a concrete or asphalt overlay. Others must be reconstructed completely.

One of the projects of the BCDEO for 2012 is to rehabilitate the bus terminal on Governor Pack Road. To accomplish this, the bus terminal will have to be transferred temporarily to the vacant lot beside Baguio Convention Center. One taxi driver said that the space in that vacant lot is not enough to use as a bus terminal and as far as he knows, that lot is property of another government agency.

Despite the criticisms that DPWH, especially BCDEO, faces, they still receive positive feedback. For example, Ayra Batore Laguitao’s post in the previously mentioned Salamat DPWH Facebook page from August 21, 2011, says “Please know first d reason behind it.” In addition to this, a taxi driver praised the contractor of the Marcos Highway project for finishing earlier than expected. He added that Marcos Highway is better now than before.

Many of the citizen’s complaints should not be directed to DPWH-Baguio. The residents and drivers are at fault as well in assuming that the DPWH is simply not doing its job.

Right Project: The Road Construction Process

When the public hears ‘DPWH’, they immediately think of Photoshop and shame, incompetence, and most of all, inconvenience. For the people of Baguio especially, because of the simultaneous road constructions during the rainy season, 2011 was both challenging and frustrating, resulting in what may have been maximum inconvenience for the travelling public. This is a fact, but maybe it’s time we understand the process involved in road construction, and maybe it might result in lenience for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) if it happens again.

The DPWH operates on national roads only. To most of the public, as long as it is a road construction, DPWH is behind it. But actually, the local roads are handled by the local government, under the City Engineer’s Office, with a totally separate process and budget.

DPWH gets its budget from the Regular Infrastructure Fund, which is supposed to be released at the start of the year. Last year, the Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (BCDEO) received a lot of complaints concerning the simultaneous road constructions conducted by DPWH-Baguio. The road constructions that were most disruptive, being simultaneous and in close proximity to each other, were on Bokawkan Road, Ferguson Road, and Quezon Hill Road. Not only were the road constructions simultaneous in the busiest parts of the city, they started the road constructions in June, which is the start of classes, and also the start of the rainy season.

There were articles about the typhoons delaying the road constructions, but then why start the road constructions at a time that is known to be prone to strong rains and typhoons? For last year, the problem lies in the release of the budget. The DPWH budget for 2011 was released in March, instead of January. According to Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato, it takes up to two months to finish processing all the papers required to start the road constructions. It is easy to put the blame on the national level, but Gallato and his office acknowledge that they were at fault as well.

DPWH had 10 projects in Baguio City last year. They were two projects at Magsaysay Avenue, Quirino Highway, Major Mane Road, Outlook Drive, Ferguson Road, two projects at Loakan Road, Bokawkan Road, and Quezon Hill Road. They have all been completed by the end of last year. Compared to last year, the minimum inconvenience and speed with which the road constructions this year have been finished is commendable. DPWH has 18 projects in Baguio City for 2012. They are the roads along the stretch of Abanao Road, Kayang Street, Harrison Road 1, Governor Pack Road, Government Center Road, Leonard Wood Road, and Marcos Highway. By February, seven road projects have already been completed. What made the difference between this year and the last?

Road construction is not an easy job. It is a long process and is never appreciated by the travelling public while it is ongoing, sometimes even after. Aside from allocating budget, DPWH has to do a public bidding for the contractors, and once a contractor has won the bid, they need a month for implementation, which requires testing the road and processing the contract and other papers.

Road constructions this year started in January. Some of the ongoing projects have been delayed due to the Panagbenga Festival and the anticipation of graduation, but unlike last year, DPWH was very much prepared for 2012 because of so much negative feedback from the travelling public. As early as November 2011, they conducted detailed engineering pre-construction activities, where they identified the projects that have to be done for 2012. In December 2011, they had already finished the papers for pre-construction, advertisement, notice of award, and notice to proceed. So come January 2012, when the budget was released, they started immediately.

DPWH can also be commended for the informational boards that they have put up at the sites of ongoing and impending road constructions. Now, not only do the public know the budget for the road construction, they also know who the contractor is, where the road construction starts and ends and how long the project might take. Apparently, the road signs and traffic signals are part of the budget given to the contractors, so the public can make a formal complaint if the site lacks these.

So why do we only now notice the effort that DPWH is making? While the road constructions are ongoing, DPWH gets so much negative feedback, but after the roads are done, they get practically no praise. DPWH has done a lot for our city. It cannot be denied that they could have done so much better last year, but it is apparent that they quickly learned from that and recovered. For example, they anticipated how their projects would affect traffic, so they finished the smaller constructions before the Panagbenga Festival. All that’s left now are their projects in Governor Pack Road, Abanao Extension, Chanum Street, Kayang Extension, Kisad Road, A. Bonifacio Road, two projects in Quirino Highway, M. Roxas Road, PMA Cut-off Road 1, and PMA Road.

If DPWH-Baguio can do it fast and with less inconvenience, why did they not do it that way in the first place? There are other factors that affect their efficiency. Some of them are: they do not control the release of the budget, or sometimes the contractors have to re-bid because they cannot comply with the government’s requirements, or there might be some unforeseen complications like the soil eroding or a sewage breaking, or sometimes the problem lies with the contractors, like if they lack materials or manpower.

Speed and minimum inconvenience may have developed late on the part of DPWH-Baguio, but as the saying goes, it’s better late than later.

Right Cost: Budget Allocation

The concerned public often asks, “Where do our taxes go?” This is justified by the fact that funds for government projects are partly comprised of citizens’ taxes, and naturally, these citizens want reassurance that they will get their money’s worth. In the case of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), budget allocation is a matter given much serious consideration.

In the year 2011, the budget allotted to the DPWH amounted to Php 208 million. This year saw an increase of Php 3 million, bringing the total up to Php 211 million. The sum of money that the department receives yearly is based on a proposed amount from the central office of DPWH, but the amount given will not necessarily match the proposal. Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether as much as is being asked is actually needed, based on the gravity and number of projects the department will undertake and the inflation of costs of raw materials and equipment.

How, then, is the money actually spent? For each project of the DPWH, a contractor must commit and sign an official contract before beginning actual road work. Contractors are not randomly chosen but enjoined in a bidding process for the project. The DPWH aims for the lowest price of labor and materials without sacrificing the quality (especially for safety and longevity) of road work. Once bidding is finished, the project is awarded to the winning contractor and the manual labor can begin. In sum, pre-construction activities take only one month.

For the year 2012, Engineer Gallato said, “We are allowed to conduct a pre-detailed engineering … as long [as] naidentified na ang project …. Last 2011 … I think that was October, we started the detailed engineering of this project, and … by the end of December, almost all our projects, natapos na ang bidding. Ready for implementation. Hintayin lang namin ‘yong pagdating ng pondo, ‘tsaka namin inaward dahil hindi kami pwede magaward ng project sa contractor kung wala pa ‘yong pondo.”

In the interest of the public who will use these roads, the payment for the contractor is withheld until the project is completely finished. However, if there is a lack of materials, the contractor may ask for partial payment in order to continue working without interruption. Complete materials and equipment of good quality are also important to road quality, hence the allowance of partial advance.

Another scenario in which the payment might be docked is if the team does not finish the job on time. Because of the urgency of their task, they may be asked for liquidated damages if they exceed the deadline agreed upon. The amount deducted depends on the contract. This is also the protocol for any other shows of poor performance. Contractors must rectify unsatisfactory jobs at their own expense.
Once the project is completely done, the contractor is asked to submit an accomplishment report to the Department of Budget Management for billing. This must include the statement for work and other supporting documents. Given that there are no discrepancies or any kind of problem with the paperwork, the full payment will be released 20 to 25 working days after submission. Savings from DPWH projects are utilized for the continuation of still ongoing projects or starting of new ones.

It is not commonly known that the DPWH-BCDEO is responsible only for national roads. Hence, not all road constructions going on in the city are under their command. Their efforts and funds are dedicated only to national roads. Any construction on roads besides national roads is the work of local government: the City Engineering Office (CEO). Both offices manage road construction, but because of the differentiation, the budget of the DPWH-BCDEO is separate from that of the CEO. Each agency also has its own set of officials and, depending on its scope, its own projects.

Readdressing Jueteng in Baguio

March 12, 2012 47 comments

by Christer John Familara, Stella Garce and Christine Joy Prestoza

Jueteng Mornings

Early morning,while walking along the street, passing through a waiting shed near the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Upper Session Road, a takatak boy wearing rugged clothes and a pair of slippers, suddenly approaches a jeepney driver who is waiting for his passengers, greeting the latter, “16,32.” The jeepney driver greets back, “11,3”, with a 20-peso bill on his hand.

Apparently, these numbers do not mean “good morning”. These might be the jeepney driver’s source of extra income. “11,3” might even change his life.

Existence of Jueteng

SPO3 Ray Ekid of the Investigation Unit of BCPO Main Office, said that jueteng is a tradition, a custom, a common, continual practice. People engage in jueteng not as a game but as a business where they invest their money expecting to earn big income.

“Sino ba ang nagsabing may jueteng?” This was the most clichéd sentence used by five out of six policemen who were interviewed. They used the same question as their initial response when they were asked about jueteng. Not only the policemen said the following statement but also the municipal trial court clerk Armand Ydia and DILG City Director Evelyn Trinidad. This results in speculations that they might know something about the existence of jueteng. Does jueteng still exist or they are just hiding the fact that it is still existing.

Manang Emma, 50, was born in Isabela and went to Baguio to work until she had her own family. She is a mother of five, and was able to send her children to school through working as a vendor of banana-cue and junk foods near a known university.

Manang Emma admitted that apart from being a vendor and a part-time laundress, she is also a cobrador for almost 6 years. She said that there is still jueteng in Baguio City, and that is undeniable. They are found mostly in crowded area like the market.

People who usually bet on her are university employees, construction workers, taxi and jeepney drivers, and others who happen to pass by her stall.

Manang Emma said, “isa lang ang nagmamay-ari ng jueteng sa La Trinidad at Baguio pero taga-Tarlac yung nagpapabola. Marami silang baranggay na pinupuntahan. para hindi sila mahuli. Wala silang permanenteng lugar. Pag makikita sila, mahuhuli.” Though she said that if authorities will see the bolahan or the draw itself , the “nagpapabola” will get caught. But then she answered the question about the legality of jueteng with “hindi illegal ang jueteng, kasi ang tawag diyan jai-alai.” She claimed that jai-alai and jueteng are the same. And one of her kumares is a cabo (supervisor whom the collectors report to), who influenced her to get involved in the illegal numbers game.

“In fact, the city does not even have a single operator of the legal small-town lottery”, Baguio city mayor Mauricio Domogan said. “Baguio residents know this very well”, he added. Manang Emma, being a resident in Baguio, contradicts Domogan’s statements.

In an interview with SPO3 Erwin Flores, a chief clerk of BCPO Station 7 said, “Walang jueteng dito kasi walang bolahan. Ang bolahan ay ginagawa sa La Trinidad o sa Tuba, Benguet.” The existence of jueteng in a community depends on where the draw is conducted, regardless of where the bettor is. Where the ball draw is conducted, jueteng is present. So, technically, there is no jueteng in Baguio.

The statements of BCPO Public Information Officer Karissma Sta. Juana somehow agree with Flores’. According to her, originally, there was no jueteng in the city.

“Walang jueteng pero we are affected by other municipalities na may jueteng kasi dumadayo sila dito para magpataya,” says Sta. Juana. Jueteng operators and cobradors entered and proliferated in Baguio City that the residents were just influenced by them and got involved in the illegal numbers game. The cobradors originally came from outside the city.

On the other hand, SPO3 Ekid proved that even some law enforcers are involved in the said illegal activity. He confessed that he bets on jueteng to the cobradors outside their police station, and in fact, he just won last January. “Jueteng exists regardless of where the draw is conducted”, he said. “Where there are bets and bettors, there is jueteng. Kung saan-saan lang nagbobola. Walang permanenteng lugar ng bola. Kahit nga sa loob ng sasakyan pwede. Pati yung mga nangongobra walang alam kung saan. Hindi rin pwedeng sumama yung mga cabo sa bolahan unless payagan sila ng operator,” he added.

According to Ekid, “Minsan pa nga wala ng bolahan. Pipili na lang ng dalawang numbers yung operator tapos itetext sa cabo yung winning numbers. Yung cabo yung magsasabi sa mga kubrador nya kung ano yung mga numbers, tapos sila ng bahalang magbigay ng panalo sa nanalo.”

Jai-alai as a front to Jueteng

Manong Mike, 68, despite of his age can still go around jeepney terminals in Bayanihan to collect bets from jeepney drivers, barkers, and even passengers. He has been a jai-alai supervisor for five years. He said that, “limang taon ng walang jueteng.” He shifted from being a cobrador of jueteng to jai-alai since jueteng was banned nationwide.

According to Sta. Juana, both jueteng and jai-alai exist in Baguio City. “The case of jai-alai is still under dispute, thus making it illegal in the city,” she said. In her statement, Sta. Juana said that they have been receiving reports from the intelligence information about jueteng and jai alai. “Most of the people thought that jai-alai is legal because they have been permitted in the national level. But, having no permit from the city government will still make jai-alai illegal,” Sta. Juana said.

On the contrary, SPO3 Ekid clarified that jai-alai does not exist in Baguio. “It is only used to cover the operation of jueteng inside the city,” he said.

Jai-alai is more exposed to the public, and can be seen especially in jeepney terminals and marketplaces, than jueteng. We noticed that the cobradors of jai-alai, who are using the game to front jueteng, are not afraid to bring out the illegal activity to the public because they are not aware that it is illegal.

Cabo in a jeepney terminal

Jai-alai was first introduced as basque pelota games in 1899 in the Philippines. Through the Proclamation Decree No.810, Marcos granted the operation of Jai-alai in1975, but was cancelled during the Aquino administration in 1987. In 2009, the government says that a company must have a legislative franchise to operate jai-alai.

Now, it is only in Sta.Ana, Cagayan where the jai-alai is being operated.
It started its comeback operation under the jurisdiction of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), at Racat-Rapuli, Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley by Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation in 2010, after being banned by the government many years ago.

The section 5 of Republic Act No. 954 states that, “No person, operator, or maintainer of a fronton with legislative franchise to conduct basque pelota games shall offer, take or arrange bets on any basque pelota game or event, or maintain or use a totalizator or other device, method or system to bet or gamble or any basque pelota game or event outside the place, enclosure, or fronton where the basque pelota game is held.”

This law means that basque pelota games or jai-alai is not allowed to be operated in Baguio City, or in places other than in Cagayan Valley. That is why policemen say that there is no jai-alai operation in the city.

Jai-alai paraphernalia are seen all around marketplaces, particularly in Hilltop, and jeepney terminals, held by bet collectors who are waiting for their usual bettors. However, the operation is still jueteng. The bettor who was walking along the Hiltop bets on jueteng, but the bet collector showed him the jai-alai sheet.

Both games use the same sets of numbers from 1 to 38. The cobrados in jai alai will give a piece of paper to the bettors that serves as their receipt. The receipt contains the numbers bet by the bettor which will be their proof to the cobrador if they win. Unlike in jueteng, the cobrador lists down the name with the bettors bet numbers in a piece of paper and there is no receipt given to them. Jai alai requires the bettor to use three different numbers while jueteng only requires two.

List of betting numbers

Manong Mike, the jai-alai supervisor, stayed in one corner of Juliana Apartment along Otek Street. He was a jueteng cobrador for 25 years, and  he currently works as a jai-alai supervisor for five years. He has four children and had sent them, including some of his relatives, to finish college, by working only in these illegal numbers games.

Manong Mike earned more in jueteng/jai-alai than in lotto. He also bets, aside from being a bet collector. He receives P100, 000 – P300, 000 whenever wins in jueteng, occasionally. Aside from his winnings, he also gets 10% as his commission.

The BCPO has cases where jai-alai was used as a front to jueteng. Sta. Juana said that during the last quarter of 2011, there were 37 of these cases.

Manong Mike while listing the bettor’s bet numbers

Operations against jueteng

Jueteng operation has been reaching its normality as a usual form of gambling. This kind of illegal gambling which has become a big issue nationwide is said to be done in public places in Baguio. Despite this, police officers were reported that they do not conduct any investigation or even give warning to the jueteng operators.

A vegetable vendor from Hilltop, who also works as a cobrador said that policemen often ignore those bettors and cobradors that they see. SPO3 Flores and Ekid proved this statement . “Yun lang ang pinagkakakitaan nila kaya minsan, hindi na namin sila hinuhuli dahil nakakaawa”, these policemen said.

Since jueteng is still very prevalent in the city, most people thought that the authority is not doing their part to eradicate gambling.

But, Sta. Juana confirmed that Baguio policemen are always in action against jueteng and that it will never be tolerated. “Para maalis ang jueteng, kailangan munang patayin yung ugat na pinagmulan nito. Kahit pulitiko man yan o police officer, there are punishments that should be done,” she said. Bettors are not being arrested, only the cobradors, cabos, and facilitators of jueteng are captured.

DILG City Director and Task Force Jupiter Action Officer Evelyn Trinidad explained how the police officers conduct their operations. According to her, the officers of the task force are continuously investigating on the alleged existence of jueteng in Baguio. Task force Jupiter was directed by the Mayor Mauricio Domogan to intensify the campaign against illegal gambling through monitoring, arresting and involving the public especially in its advocacy campaign. It is composed of different agencies like DILG, NBI, CIDG, and PNP.

Monitoring and surveillance are led by the BCPO. Sta. Juana said that limited number of policemen adds to the reason why it is difficult to eliminate jueteng. One policeman to monitor 500 people is ideal. But now, the city has only one policeman for 1, 700 people. A policeman is assigned to monitor one to three barangays. They will first send a police group to cover and survey the place if they receive a report from a concerned citizen. Once they have confirmed the existence of the illegal activity in the area, then, that is the time when they will do the raid and arrest.

The advocacy campaign against jueteng is done in different colleges, in Baguio City but now, they also involve elementary and high schools. This advocacy will inform the public, through the students, about different forms gambling and the effects at large. The advocacy against illegal gambling has established a network to colleges through the National Service Training Program (NSTP). The students will share what was taught to them to the community where they will be deployed.

In fact, in November 2010, one case of jueteng was recorded that resulted in the arrest of three people. While in January to September of 2011, the Task Force Jupiter conducted 24 illegal gambling operations, and 12 of these cases were of jueteng. From these 12 operations, 40 people were arrested and had confiscated P12, 831.25.

The continuity of jueteng in Baguio city, since it had started decades ago, is being stopped not only through police operations, but now, through campaign. Aside from arresting gamblers, the city government currently conducts a new way to fight illegal gambling by educating and informing the people through their advocacy. This advocacy increases the awareness of people on the positive and negative preferences of gambling; making it known to people before they get involved and caught.

As long as jueteng continues, the next generations will also be saying what Manang Emma claimed, “Patay na ang lolo ko, buhay na buhay pa rin ang jueteng.”