Rappler Special Coverages

SPOTLIGHT LUZON: Daily news and latest updates from northern Philippines

SPOTLIGHT LUZON: Daily news and latest updates from northern Philippines


Luzon is the most populous of the Philippines’ three island groups, whether counting the National Capital Region or not. Luzon’s population is almost equal to the combined population of the two other major islands, Visayas and Mindanao. It is home to 38 provinces – seven of which are among the 10 most vote-rich. 

SPOTLIGHT LUZON compiles developing stories and special features from the seven administrative regions outside of Metro Manila. These are, from the north down: Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol.   

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Sandiganbayan junks graft case vs Catanduanes governor

The Sandiganbayan dismissed a graft case filed against Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua for lack of jurisdiction.

In a resolution, the anti-graft court’s 7th Division said it cannot handle the case unless the amount involved is at least P1 million, since Republic Act No. 10660 states that cases involving amounts smaller than that must go to regional trial courts.

The graft case, filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2021, alleged that Cua allowed a construction firm to use a government property for free in 2017. Prosecutors, however, did not specify the amount related to the allegation.

The Sandiganbayan returned the documents to the Ombudsman “for appropriate action and disposition,” letting it decide what to do next.


PANGASINAN: Over 100 health workers in 14 hospitals down with COVID-19

A total of 123 health workers in 14 provincial government-run hospitals in Pangasinan have COVID-19, according to provincial health officer Dr. Anna de Guzman. This, however, has not affected the operations of the hospitals.

The sick health workers have been jabbed with their booster dose, and they are either asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms.

De Guzman said that “90% of our sick healthcare workers are under home isolation, while five are currently confined due to their comorbidities.”

Ahikam Pasion

Another Camarines Sur town mayor denies supporting Marcos Jr.

“Hinding-hindi ko tatalikuran ang pinunong subok ang kakayahan sa lahat ng panahon lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya,” says Sipocot Mayor Tomas Bocago, as he reiterates his support for Vice President Leni Robredo.

Read more.

Jairo Bolledo

Fisherman allegedly forging vaccination cards caught in Cavite entrapment

REAL ONE. A sample of authentic COVID-19 vaccination card issued in Cavite. Photo by Dennis Abrina/Rappler

A man was caught forging a vaccination card in an entrapment operation conducted by intelligence operatives in Rosario town in Cavite on Thursday, January 20.

The 48-year-old suspect, fisherman Roy Marquez of Barangay Wawa 1, was the subject of a complaint filed by Dr. Noriel Emelo, the municipal health officer of Rosario. 

Read the full story here.

Dennis Abrina

CAVITE: Tanza records 1st Omicron case

RESTRICTION. A resident shows his vaccination card prior to entering the municipal hall of Tanza, Cavite, according to the ‘No Vaccinated Card, No Entry’ ordinance, on January 21, 2022. Dennis Abrina/Rappler

The coastal town of Tanza in Cavite recorded its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant on Thursday, January 20. According to the Tanza Rural Health Office under Dr. Ruth Punzalan, the patient is a 44-year-old man with no travel history.

Mayor Yuri Pacumio encouraged local folks who have not been vaccinated to get inoculated against COVID-19, especially now that the highly transmissible Omicron has been detected in the locality.

As of January 20, Tanza has fully vaccinated 157,217 individuals or 74% of its expanded target population of 212,441. The town increased its original target population for COVID-19 inoculation from 185,000, based on the projected total population for year 2022.

Dennis Abrina

Omicron detected in Baguio as city tallies record-high cases

The Philippine summer capital also has 246 children under the age of 12 infected with COVID-19, prompting new mobility restrictions

Read more.

Sherwin de Vera

Sorsogon mayor in anti-trafficking case sent to jail

Mayor Antonio Alindogan of Juban town in Sorsogon surrenders after learning of his arrest warrant.

Read more.

Rhaydz Barcia

ALBAY: Bishop Baylon limits church capacity as COVID-19 cases rise

Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi has reduced church capacity in Albay from 50% to 30%, and prohibited children 12 years and younger from entering churches as among the new precautionary measures of the church against the further spread of COVID-19.

Read Diocesan Circular No. 2, Series of 2022, issued by the bishop this week:

Rhaydz B. Barcia

5,000 travelers stranded by Matnog Port’s damaged ramps

At least 5,000 individuals traveling from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao have been stranded at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon over the last 24 hours due to damaged vessel ramps for roll-on roll-off and fast craft vessels.

Around 800 cargo and passenger vehicles idled on the highway leading to the Matnog Port as they awaited ramp repairs from 11 pm Tuesday, January 18, to Wednesday, January 19.

Matnog Port is considered the last point in Luzon for travelers on land-and-ferry trips to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Read more here

Lance Lim

Stop red-tagging our colleagues – Baguio, Benguet media

Media workers in Baguio and Benguet on Tuesday, January 18, demanded a halt to the red-tagging of colleagues and activists after Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC) president Aldwin Quitasol received a summons to an anti-insurgency “dialogue”.

DEFIANT. Activists in Baguio City protest red-tagging activities by the police and the military in the Cordillera region. Courtesy of Northern Dispatch

The BCBC and the National Union of Journalists Baguio-Benguet (NUJP-BB) chapter released a joint statement, warning against renewed efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement a Tokhang-like program in the area.

“The measure aims to harass and intimidate activists. This includes members of the media, which state authorities presume [to have] links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA),” the statement said. Read more.

Joann Manabat, Sherwin de Vera