EVENTFUL. That’s 2018. Certainly not dull.
As we prepare to 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 this year 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 OSCAR GARIN AND CONG. RICHARD GARIN
The father and son were charged criminally and administratively just this Dec. 27 by a policeman before the Office of the Ombudsman with for assault upon a person in authority, grave coercion, grave threats, physical injuries, slander by deeds, serious illegal detention, alarm and scandal, grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of public officials, oppression, abuse of authority, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the public.
According to Police Officer 3 Federico Macaya Jr. of the Guimbal police station, the congressman mauled him, slapped and spit on his face before dawn on Dec. 26 near the town hall while the mayor was training a .45 pistol at him.
Despite the congressman’s apology, the Philippine National Police recalled his two police escorts. On the other hand, the National Police Commission revoked Mayor Garin’s deputation authority over the Guimbal police force.
BORACAY ISLAND’S CLOSURE
The country’s top tourist destination was closed to tourism activities for six months beginning April 26 for a massive cleanup and rehabilitation due to years of neglect and abuse.
President Rodrigo Duterte called Boracay a cesspool.
The island reopened on Oct. 26 but its rehabilitation is not yet complete. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the rehab may take two more years.
PANAY ELECTRIC COMPANY / MORE ELECTRIC AND POWER CORP.
Congress has unanimously approved the franchise of More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) to distribute power in Iloilo City replacing Panay Electric Company (PECO).
PECO’s renewed franchise is set to expire on Jan. 19, 2019.
Ilongga senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee, believed MORE Power would deliver efficient service that Iloilo City residents longed for.
“There were many complaints that PECO failed to give good service, their assets did not improve, and even the power distribution which triggered brownouts. They have also been charging high rates which were not appropriate,” Poe said.
On the other hand, she said, senators “found MORE Power very much capable of providing and supplying the electricity needed by the Ilonggos.”
Now, only the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte is needed for MORE Power’s franchise bill.
BARANGAY CAPTAIN REMIA PREVENDIDO GREGORI
This sister of slain drug lord Richard Prevendido, the barangay captain of Bakhaw, Mandurriao, Iloilo City, was shot by armed men at her beach resort in Barangay Igcadlum, San Joaquin, Iloilo on June 24.
Gregori, a high-value target of the Mandurriao police in the campaign against illegal drugs, died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Five to seven armed men barged into Gregori’s Crystal Beach Resort.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Region 6 described Gregori’s Barangay Bakhaw as the go-to place of drug pushers and users.
JOANNA DANIELA DEMAFELIS
The bizarre death of this Ilongga domestic helper in Kuwait in February had shaken President Rodrigo Duterte. For a time, the government stopped the deployment of workers to Kuwait.
The 29-year-old Demafelis of Sara, Iloilo was found stuffed in a freezer in an abandoned apartment. Autopsy showed she was beaten to death.
Her employers, a Lebanese and Syrian couple, have been charged with murder in Kuwait.
7 REBELS KILLED / ‘ATABAY MASSACRE’
SEVEN suspected New People’s Army rebels were killed in a firefight with policemen and soldiers at an abandoned village church in Purok 7, Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique on Aug. 15.
Extortion letters, a sub-machinegun among other firearms, explosives, mobile phones, laptops, and tablet computers were recovered, according to the police.
“These are proof that the rebels engage in criminal activities,” said Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director.
Families and supporters of the seven persons, however, denied the police’s claim and insisted that their loved ones were massacred.
CONG. JERRY TREÑAS
Who’s quitting politics? Not this Iloilo City congressman. He claimed over 170 barangay captains want him to run for city mayor in next year’s election, and so in March he took back a declaration he made in December 2016 that he was quitting politics for good in 2019.
His decision did not sit well with his bilas, Mayor Jose Espinosa III whom he endorsed for mayor in December 2016. Both are running against each other for mayor.
AMBUSH ON SAMUEL AGUILAR
This Small Town Lottery (STL) operator in Iloilo province was ambushed in Barangay Buyu-an, Tigbauan town on March 13. He died a week after.
Aguilar, 47, was on his way to Iloilo City from Guimbal town aboard a Toyota Hiace Grandia van when attacked.
Aguilar, whom Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office director Sandra Cam linked to illegal gambling and illegal drugs, died of six gunshot wounds.
NEGROS RIGHTS LAWYER KILLED / SAGAY MASSACRE
A human rights lawyer helping farmers in what has been dubbed as the “Sagay massacre” was shot multiple times by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on Nov. 6.
Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos Jr., 56, was declared “dead on arrival” at the Holy Mother of Mercy Hospital in Kabankalan City. He had three gunshot wounds on the chest.
The Sagay massacre was the killing of several farmers in a Sagay City hacienda by armed men just a few weeks before Ramos was killed.
Tarug was the run-to pro-bono lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners, and mass organizations in Negros.
Months prior to the shooting, Ramos was a victim of red-tagging. Public posters tagged him as a member of the New People’s Army.
ILONGGA FROM PAVIA OUTSTANDING FILIPINO
An advocate of reading from the municipality of Pavia, Iloilo was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Filipinos this year.
Pavia National High School’s Alma Janagap, Ed.D., is an English teacher and remedial reading adviser who developed an innovative school-based Reading Clinic—a first of its kind in Western Visayas and is now being replicated in 149 other schools in the region.
On Sept. 7, Janagap was conferred with the prestigious award of the Metrobank Foundation that annually recognizes responsible citizens, exemplary public servants, and agents of positive change in their communities.
Janagap believes reading is the backbone of all wisdom and learning. (To be continued/PN)