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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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BENECO union hails NEA removal of general manager

Sherwin de Vera

VIGAN, Philippines — The workers union of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) called the removal of general manager Ana Maria Rafael “an initial victory” that gives them room to work with the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

NEA administrator Antonio Almeda on Wednesday, January 11 announced the removal of the cooperative’s current Board of Directors (BOD). He also recalled the appointment of lawyer Rafael as BENECO’s general manager.

Almeda likewise suspended union ally and former general manager Melchor Licoben, who had been chosen by majority of the board to lead the cooperative.

Read full story here.

Plunder, graft cases vs former Masbate lawmaker to proceed


The plunder and graft cases filed against former Masbate congresswoman Rizalina Seachon-Lanete will proceed after the Sandiganbayan 4th Division said prosecutors were able to present “sufficient” evidence.

The anti-graft court denied Lanete’s motion for reconsideration, which sought to reverse the November 2022 rejection of her motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence.

Lanete is accused of involvement in the pork barrel scam. Prosecutors allege that she conspired with businesswoman Janet Napoles to divert P112 million to bogus nongovernment organizations.

The ex-lawmaker has been out on bail since April 2016.

3 Chinese arrested in Cavite for kidnapping fellow Chinese

Dennis Abrina
ARRESTED. The rescued victim (right) on January 5, 2022, identify the three fellow Chinese citizens who kidnapped her and held her for a month in Barangay Molino 4, Bacoor, Cavite. Photo courtesy of Cavite PNP

Three Chinese men were arrested in Barangay Molino 4, Bacoor, Cavite, on Thursday night, January 5, for allegedly abducting a female data analyst who is also Chinese. 

The 28-year-old victim, whom the police referred to by the alias Lady Wu, is a data analyst and a resident of Neijiang City in Sichuan, China. She told the police that she came to the Philippines because the suspects promised her a job and a salary of P150,000. When she arrived, however, the suspects kidnapped her.

Read the full story.

Floods destroy bridge, block feeder roads in southern Palawan

Inday Espina-Varona
CUT OFF. Strong currents and high water on January 4 destroyed a bridge in Sitio Tamlang, Barangay Saraza, Brooke’s Point, Palwan. SAR 1 PDRRMO PALAWAN

Floods destroyed a bridge in Barangay Saraza, Brooke’s Point town and blocked a spillway and some feeder roads, the municipal government said Thursday afternoon, January 5.

Rescue operations continued late afternoon in the southern Palawan town, the local government said, noting that around 2,000 families were affected by heavy rain since Wednesday, January 4, due to a low pressure area.

Read the full story.

Comelec disqualifies defeated 2022 Palawan gubernatorial bet Joel Reyes

Dwight de Leon
FORMER Palawan governor Joel Reyes is escorted by CIDG,PNP and Airport Police LRS upon his arrival at the NAIA on September 25, 2015. Czar Dancel/Rappler

Eight months after the May 2022 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified Joel Reyes from the Palawan gubernatorial race that he had lost by a substantial margin.

The three-member 2nd Division of the poll body said that Reyes – a murder suspect with an arrest warrant – evaded prosecution, making him ineligible for the local race that saw him garner more than 147,000 votes.

The Comelec explained that the case did not deserve to be declared moot just because Reyes suffered an electoral loss, because there was a “justiciable issue” at hand.

Read the full story.

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Manila suspends classes, local gov’t work for Feast of the Black Nazarene

Manila suspends classes, local gov’t work for Feast of the Black Nazarene

FAST FACTS: Cavite 7th District special election for post vacated by Remulla

Dwight de Leon

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to conduct a special election in the 7th District of Cavite province on February 25, a Saturday.

This is to fill the congressional seat vacated by now-Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla.

Here are the things you need to know about the electoral exercise – from the list of aspiring successors, to what D-day would look like.

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Mt. Pico de Loro in Cavite to reopen on January 12

Mt. Pico de Loro in Cavite to reopen on January 12

New Clark City Central Park bags Singapore architectural award

Joann Manabat

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Philippines  –  The New Clark City (NCC) Central Park’s sustainable and inclusive design recently bagged the 2022 SEMEC Gold Award for the Analysis and Planning Category in the biennial Singapore Landscape Architecture Awards.

A press statement on Tuesday, January 3 by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said judges commended the NCC Central Park for its exciting design with the potential to integrate various stake-holding communities. They also gave credit for the extensive workshops and engagements with the community.

The Singapore awards recognizes projects that set new benchmarks and designs, and best practices.

Global architectural firm Broadway Malyan Asia Pte. Ltd. accepted the award in Singapore on December 12, 2022.

The proposed 44.8-hectare Central Park project at the New Clark City was envisioned to become one of the largest urban parks in the country.

Read full story here.

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Coast Guard patrols La Union beaches after series of accidents

Coast Guard patrols La Union beaches after series of accidents