EVENTFUL. That was 2018. Certainly not dull.
As we welcome New Year 2019, let us look back at the people, places and events that shaped 2018 and made it an exciting period our history.
We bid 2018 goodbye by recalling the movers and shakers, the newsmakers and noisemakers in this part of the country.
The staff of this paper picked these as among the most significant if not memorable. Undoubtedly, there are more.
Here are our picks? What’s yours?
MAYOR ERMELITA SALCEDO OF SARA, ILOILO
On Oct. 17, Mayor Ermelita Salcedo of Sara, Iloilo was arrested while a stepson and a grandson were killed in one of 13 simultaneous predawn police raids against loose firearms in four Iloilo 5th District towns.
Nerio “Ricky” Salcedo, the mayor’s stepson, and Nixon Salcedo Jr. put up a fight so policemen shot them, according to Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police director.
Mayor Salcedo was taken to the Police Regional Office 6 but was later released. She was not the subject of the raid, police explained.
Policemen said they recovered from the mayor’s residence in Barangay Poblacion Ilawod, Sara an M14 rifle, M16 rifle, Ultimax 100 311 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, AK47 rifle, three .45 pistols, and assorted bullets.
The subject of the raid at the mayor’s residence was actually her husband, former mayor Neptali Salcedo, but he was not around.
PMA VALEDICTORIAN JAYWARDENE HONTORIA
This son of a farmer from Barangay Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo is this year’s valedictorian of the Philippine Military Academy.
The 25-year-old Hontoria, already a registered nurse when he entered the country’s premier military school, graduated on March 18 at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.
Hontoria graduated as a nurse from West Visayas State University in 2013 and served the Philippine Coast Guard briefly before entering the PMA in 2014.
It was his dream to be a soldier.
ATTY. EDELJULIO ROMERO
Did the gunmen who shot to death Iloilo City drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. the same group that killed his lawyer Edeljulio Romero on Sept. 28? Known for handling high-profile drug cases, Romero, 50, was gunned down at an eatery outside the seaport in Barangay Culasi, Roxas City.
The lawyer was attacked a day after attending a court hearing of a client, another drug suspect, at the Roxas City Hall of Justice.
An unidentified armed man got down from a grey sport utility vehicle, shot the back of Romero’s head then left.
ASIAD SILVER IN BOXING
Bago City, Negros Occidental’s Rogen Ladon had to contend with a silver medal in the flyweight division of the men’s boxing in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia on Sept. 1.
The referee was forced to call an end to the gold-medal match with just 22 seconds into the second round after a head-butt with Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan opened a cut above Ladon’s left eye.
But while the referee ruled it as a “referee stopped contest due to injury,” the Asian Games website stated that the Uzbekistan boxer won via split decision after garnering the scores 20-18, 20-18, 20-18, 19-19, 18-19 from the judges.
MODERN JEEPNEYS IN ILOILO CITY
On July 31, modern passenger jeepneys started servicing Ilonggos albeit on limited routes initially. These jeepneys are compliant with the requirements of the government’s transport modernization program.
The modern jeepneys are equipped with the following: security cameras, WiFi, Global Positioning System, automatic fare collection system, television monitors, and air-conditioning.
The move to modernize Philippine public transport aims to minimize air pollution and improve public transport safety. Most jeepneys are not compliant with smoke emission standards.
FORMER BARANGAY CAPTAIN GEMMA CALZADO
On Nov. 24 the former barangay captain of Kasing-kasing, Molo district was arrested in a buy-bust operation.
Elected barangay councilwoman in May after completing three consecutive terms as village chief, yielded nine plastic sachets of shabu at her house.
Calzado was placed under surveillance by the regional police office for two months prior to the buy-bust.
In May a few days before the barangay elections, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency national office made public its list of barangay captains and councilmen allegedly involved in illegal drugs. One of them was Calzado – the only barangay official from Western Visayas included in the list. Despite this negative publicity she was elected No. 1 village councilwoman. She denied peddling shabu.
This Ilonggo factory worker from Cabatuan, Iloilo who went missing in South Korea in 2016 had been found dead in April this year. His skeletal remains were recovered in a septic tank of a water purifier plant at the city of Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province.
The South Korean police suspected this to be a murder case and an overseas Filipino worker had been tagged a prime interest.
Claveria may have been hit on the head with a hard object.
BARANGAY CAPTAIN KEITH ‘DABING’ ESPINOSA
Where is the resigned barangay captain of Monica Blumentritt, City Proper? The Police Regional Office 6’s Regional Drug Enforcement Unit confirmed it is looking for the former village chief who took a leave of absence in July prior to resigning on Nov. 25.
According to RDEU chief Senior Inspector Kennith Bermejo, they continue receiving information linking Espinosa to illegal drugs through her husband despite her repeated denials.
Espinosa’s whereabouts remained unknown as of this writing. Her husband Jesus was, in 2016, ranked No. 2 in the Iloilo City Police Office – Police Station 1’s list of suspected drug personalities in the City Proper. He is currently detained at the Iloilo District Jail in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo serving an eight-year prison sentence as accomplice in a frustrated murder case 12 years ago.
In 2016 Espinosa was investigated by the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the proliferation of illegal drugs in her barangay. It found her liable for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty. Still, she was reelected in this year’s May barangay election.
P18-M SHABU AT DUMANGAS SEAPORT
The seizure of P18-million worth of shabu in Dumangas, Iloilo on Jan. 28 showed that the municipality’s seaport remained a transhipment point of illegal drugs. Prior to their arrest, suspects Alberto Pinaga and Maebelle Belmonte twice used the port – last December 2017 and in early January 2018 – to transport shabu to Negros Occidental, police said.
What happened to Task Force Puerto that the local government of Dumangas formed to bolster the porous security at the port in Barangay Sapao?
ATTY. RAFAEL ATUTUBO
This lawyer handling illegal drug-related cases was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen outside his house on Galo Street, Barangay 20, Bacolod City on Aug. 23.
Police launched a “dragnet operation” but failed to catch the two shooters, who were riding in tandem on a black Kawasaki Rouser without plate number.
Atutubo, 62, was hit on the head. He was taken to the Bacolod Doctors’ Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
FIRE TRAGEDY KILLS 4
A predawn fire totally gutted a policeman’s house and killed four members of his family in Barangay San Isidro, La Paz, Iloilo City on May 6.
Senior Police Officer 2 Richard Gerafusco Sr. of the La Paz police station was on duty when the fire struck his house around 4 a.m. He lost his wife Evangeline, 40; son Richard Jr., 15; mother-in-law Elvira Avelino, 64; and aunt Christina Dolente, 75.
Four other family members survived the fire but sustained burns.
All household members were asleep when the fire struck the two-storey house built of wood and concrete.
SENIOR SUPT. CORNELIO SALINAS
The Court of Appeals (CA) declared as wrongful the dismissal of the former Iloilo Police Provincial Office director and ordered his reinstatement.
In its 17-page decision released on Jan. 30, 2018, CA’s 13th Division reversed a 2015 Office of the Ombudsman ruling dismissing Salinas for grave misconduct in relation to the procurement of Philippine National Police (PNP) rubber boats in 2009.
That year Salinas was a member of the PNP Maritime Group’s Bids and Awards Committee that approved the emergency purchase of rescue coastal crafts following a series of typhoons.
He was dismissed from the service by the Ombudsman on June 2, 2015.
FORMER ILOILO CITY MAYOR JED PATRICK MABILOG
He may have left the city and the country in 2017 but he still remains in the news, thanks to – according to supporters – his continued demonization by the Duterte administration.
According to President Rodrigo Duterte’s then spokesperson, Mabilog’s leaving the country won’t end his legal problems.
There is an ongoing investigation on Mabilog whom the President linked to illegal drugs, according to Roque.
The former mayor is believed to be in Canada. Roque said the government may request for Mabilog’s extradition.
PCSO STOPS STL IN ILOILO
In May, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) terminated Small Town Lottery (STL) operations in Iloilo province. Franchisee Eagle-Crest Gaming and Holding Corp. failed to pay its Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts (PMRR), according to Manuel Fraginal, chief of PCSO’s National Inter-Branch Security Monitoring.
PMRR is the amount determined by PCSO as the presumed minimum monthly sales of an authorized agent corporation or STL franchisee.
The PMRR arrears of Eagle-Crest reportedly reached millions of pesos.
FORMER BARANGAY CAPTAIN NOEMI JABLO
The former barangay captain of Desamparados, Jaro, Iloilo City was arrested in a buy-bust operation of the police in Barangay Ungka II, Pavia, Iloilo on July 10. Shabu was recovered.
Jablo was one of the three village chiefs in Iloilo City that the Sangguniang Panlungsod investigated for suspected links to illegal drugs in 2016. The two others were Barangay Monica Blumentritt’s Keith Espinosa and Barangay Bakhaw’s Remia Prevendido Gregori.
Jablo’s arrest came two weeks after Gregori was shot to death.
Jablo sought reelection in the May 14 barangay election. She lost.
3 KILLED IN HOUSE FIRE
On Nov. 2, a 74-year-old woman and her two grandsons died in a fire that struck their house in Zone 2, Barangay M.H. del Pilar, Jaro, Iloilo City.
The blaze – suspected to be from an unattended candle – started at the house Natividad Fanunciano also spread to four other houses.
Fanunciano’s house was made of mixed materials.
The victims were unable to escape from the burning house. The gate and main door were locked. The fire started at the ground floor and the victims were on the second floor. Their windows had iron grills so they had no way of escaping the house./PN