Sunday, November 15, 2009

CNN hero is a Filipino


First Posted 09:23:00 11/15/2009

MANILA, Philippines—Heroes walk among us and they don’t wear costumes. They’re in plain sight, trying to make a difference and inspire others to do the same in a domino effect.

Efren Penaflorida is a 28-year-old teacher and social worker at the Palmridge School in Cavite who is one such hero, doing public service with a passion.

Penaflorida takes his passion beyond the usual five-day work week. During Saturdays he and dozens of other volunteer youngsters teach underserved and out-of-school youths in what he calls “Kariton Klasrum” (pushcart classroom).

‘School on wheels’

Penaflorida and his colleagues fill the custom-built pushcart with all the necessary educational materials like books, notepads, and writing implements. They then take the pushcart to places with many street children and teach them basic English, mathematics, and science.

Knowing that many of the children who “attend” his weekend schools are poor, he also includes lessons in hygiene and gives out soap. Some volunteers also provide free medical examinations and medicines to the underprivileged communities they visit.

He has been doing this for 10 years, starting when he was still a high school student.

Volunteerism

Penaflorida founded the Dynamic Teen Company, a volunteer group aimed at encouraging youths to help underprivileged people, most especially other youngsters, by offering free lessons they would not otherwise get.

The mobile classroom has been replicated in other regions in the country; a version of was also established in Kenya.

The group has expanded beyond their weekend teaching activities and has helped in other youth-oriented support campaigns including counseling, values formation, human rights, and some medical missions.

It has also helped other agencies, including the Department of Education with its annual “Balik Eskwela” (back-to-school) program. The group’s network of volunteers, which has grown to about 10,000 members nationwide, continues to grow.

Selfless passion

For his passion, Penaflorida was nominated early this year as one of the candidates for CNN Heroes, a tribute by the international news organization to selfless humanitarian acts of individuals from different countries.

And Penaflorida is getting a few steps closer to becoming the CNN Hero for 2009. He was recently pronounced as one of the top ten finalists and is closer to winning the $100,000 prize money.

Earlier this month, CNN organized a local meet-and-greet with Penaflorida in Manila to entice people to vote for him at the CNN Heroes website. On November 26, the CNN Hero of the Year will be announced.

But despite his popularity, Penaflorida remains humble. “I don’t doubt there are other heroes among us. What’s important is that we see others doing the same thing. I’m already thankful for everything,” he said.

source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net

Obama sends letter to Philippine Muslim rebel leader


Asia-Pacific News

Nov 14, 2009, 3:44 GMT


Manila - US President Barack Obama has sent a letter to the leader of the main Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, a guerrilla official said Saturday.

The letter to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ibrahim was delivered to rebel peace negotiators by Deputy Assistant State Secretary Scot Marciel, according to Muhammad Ameen, chairman of the MILF secretariat.

Ameen said Marciel and two other US diplomats met MILF peace negotiators headed by Mohagher Iqbal on November 6.

Ameen did not disclose the contents of the letter but said it was a response to a letter Murad sent to Obama after he won the election last year.

On Friday, US State Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the Philippine government and the MILF to conclude a peace deal before the end of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's term next year.

The rebel group was instrumental in the safe release on Thursday of kidnapped Columban missionary Michael Sinnott, who was held captive for over a month by gunmen in the strife-torn southern region of Mindanao.

The MILF is the largest of the Muslim rebel groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao. It first entered into peace talks the government in 1997.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Filipino with 6.145 kilos of cocaine nabbed in Peru


11/13/2009

MANILA, Philippines—A 35-year-old Filipino trying to smuggle in 6.145 kilos of cocaine alkaloid was caught in Cusco, Peru on September 30, the Philippine embassy in Santiago said.

In a statement released through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ambassador to Chile (with jurisdiction in Peru) Maria Consuelo Puyat-Reyes said this most apprehension followed the separate arrests of a Filipina on June 2 in Arica, Chile, and of another Filipina on May 24 in Ecuador, on the same charges of drug trafficking.

“These are seemingly more daring and brazen attempts by drug syndicates in the region to use Filipinos to transport banned substances across international borders,” the ambassador said, describing the use of Filipino drug mules in South America as “especially alarming.”

The newest arrest was made at the Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport, where the suspect had the illegal drugs on both his person and his hand-carry baggage. The suspect, whom the embassy did not name for privacy reasons, was headed for Lima, Peru and to other intermediary points, with Hanoi, Vietnam as the alleged final destination.

The suspected Filipino drug trafficker is now in jail at the Quencoro Men’s Penitentiary at Cusco, where he will begin a prison sentence of six years and eight months, including payment of fines, after accepting a plea bargain agreement with the Peruvian authorities.

Ambassador Puyat-Reyes thus warned Filipinos intending to travel to South America “to be wary of drug syndicates enticing travelers to transport illegal drugs, no matter how lucrative the ‘handling’ fee may appear.”

Veronica Uy


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clinton pushes peace deal between Manila, Muslim rebels

By Manny Mogat0

Friday November 13, 2009


MANILA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Philippines and the country's largest Muslim rebel group on Friday to strike a peace deal before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo steps down next June.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the APEC Summit in Singapore November 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash)

Clinton said she believed Arroyo, whom she met over dinner on Thursday, was committed to ending the decades-old Muslim conflict in the southern region of Mindanao and was prepared to make tough and unpopular decisions.

"I think that the president is committed, she wants to see this done," Clinton said during a televised question-and-answer session with students in Manila, referring to reaching a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"In fact, what I often found is that it is easier to make these difficult decisions when you are on the way out of office because you know what's at stake and you are willing to brave the political fire."

"So strike while the iron is hot, that's an old saying. When people are in the mood and willing to make peace, do not sleep, do not rest until you finally get there.

The government and the MILF have held on-off peace talks for years, but signed a new ceasefire agreement in July and their negotiators are meeting in Kuala Lumper next week. Muslims account for only about 5 percent of the mostly Roman Catholic Philippines' 92 million people but many of them live in the impoverished south.

Forty years of conflict there have killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in the country's most resource-rich region.

The United States, a long-time Philippines military ally, has troops posted in Mindanao, mostly to help in operations against a much smaller and deadlier Muslim rebel group.

read more at http://thestar.com.my/news

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sinnott ‘very sure’ captors not MILF

They’re ‘original nomads’ in Mindanao, says priest By Katherine Evangelista, Marlon Ramos

INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 10:37:00 11/12/2009

Filed Under: Government, Politics, Kidnapping

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) It was not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but “original nomads” from Mindanao that kidnapped Father Michael Sinnott, the Irish missionary himself said Thursday, hours after he was freed by his captors, a month following his abduction.

“They were not MILF. I’m very sure of that,” Sinnott told a press conference at the Villamor Air Base where he was flown by his Philippine Air Force Fokker plane from Zamboanga City.

“Mga grupo ng original nomads ng Mindanao [It’s a group of original nomads in Mindanao],” said Sinnott, who was kidnapped in Pagadian City last October 11.

Sinnott’s statement disputed claims by government officials that it was the MILF that abducted the Irish priest – an allegation denied by the Muslim rebel group.

Sinnott said his captors told him that kidnapping was a way for them to get funds and that this was their way of “getting the message to international media.”

Sinnott said the abduction could not have been staged by the MILF because the Muslim rebel group condemned kidnap-for-ransom activities and this went against the teachings of the Koran.

Sinnott said his kidnappers told him that it was alright for the MILF to condemn these acts because the MILF get funding from international groups.

Sinnott also said that he was treated “well” despite the “primitive conditions” and “they could not have done more to make it comfortable for me.”

He said the kidnappers assured him that he won’t be killed after his abduction.

Sinnot said that despite what had happened to him, he was still willing to work in the Philippines but has to discuss this with his superiors at the Society of St. Columbans.

Sinnott said he would not file charges against anyone.

He said he was tired and lacked sleep.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Rafael Seguis, chairman of the GRP peace panel, reiterated that “definitely, absolutely” no ransom was paid.

Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino, commander of the West Mindanao Command, said they have yet to gather and collate the information they got from Sinnott and their intelligence on the ground.

He added that law enforcement operations would be conducted against the perpetrators of the abduction but refused to give out their names.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, along with Irish Ambassador Richard O’Brian, welcomed Sinnott whose plane landed Thursday morning at the Villamor Air Base.

Sinnott was aboard a Philippine Air Force Fokker plane with body number 10620.

He was freed early Thursday by his abductors and handed over to the MILF.

Sinnott arrived at the military base around 10:30 a.m. from Zamboanga City, said Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa.

Sinnott was accompanied by Dolorfino and Seguis.

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

3,000 Filipinos in jail overseas—DFA


First Posted 12:13:00 11/10/2009

MANILA, Philippines—Some 3,000 Filipinos are in jail in different countries around the world, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

About 70 percent of the detainees have been facing immigration-related charges and would be "deported after serving their brief sentences,” said DFA spokesman Ed Malaya on Tuesday.

“The rest are in custody for committing common crimes, including theft and drug trafficking,” Malaya also said.

In the Middle East alone, 62 overseas Filipino workers are detained on drug-related charges. Of that number, 43, mostly women, are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

But Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of OFWs, doubted the integrity of the number and said there could be more than 3,000 Filipinos in jail abroad.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, also said 70 percent of the 3,000 cases are actually cases of OFWs abused or maltreated by their employers. He said these are usually women domestic helpers who run away from their employers.

“The DFA failed to include the rising numbers of OFWs temporarily seeking refuge at the embassy-run Filipino Workers Resource Centers (FWRCs), Bahay Kalingas, and safe houses maintained by the regional offices of Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Polo-Owwa),” he added.

Personnel of Philippine embassies and consulates abroad “conduct monthly jail visits to look after the welfare of Filipinos in jail,” the DFA said. “Approval of jail visitation in some countries, however, depends on the host government,” according to Malaya.

The country's diplomatic missions abroad “also maintain workers resource centers in countries where there are large concentration of Filipinos in cooperation with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.”

In Saudi Arabia, the Department of Labor and Employment maintains four Philippine Overseas Labor Offices. They are located in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar and Buraida. Contrary to some published reports, both DFA and DoLE “regularly report (to Congress) the inventory of overseas Filipinos,” Malaya pointed out.

On Monday, the non-government Blas Ople Center and Training Institute asked the foreign office to “conduct an inventory of OFWs in jail and set more frequent visits to monitor their situation and ensure their protection.”

The Pasay City-based center made the call as it also cited the case of an OFW who “has been jailed in Saudi Arabia on a drug-related case without a court ruling.”

“Jason Pineda, a 36-year-old OFW, wrote to the center to seek legal assistance after being jailed for one year and nine months on a drug-related charge without a sentence on his case. He has appeared before the court four times without a lawyer because he does not have the money to pay for one,” said the center.

According to the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, Pineda was “detained at the Dammam jail in March 2008 for allegedly receiving 21.2 grams of methamphetamine (or shabu) and selling them to his fellow OFWs.”

Pineda “allegedly confessed to the commission of the crime,” said the mission, quoting Saudi authorities.

“His case was endorsed by the General Prosecutor to the Grand Court of Dammam. The presiding judge said the case is still under the court's study and review. Mr. Pineda remains in detention since under Saudi laws, bail is not granted to persons involved in drug-related cases,” the embassy reported to the home office.

In a related development, the DFA's Migrant Workers Affairs office is making arrangements for the repatriation of Jose Jonathan Bigas, also imprisoned for a drug-related offense in Saudi Arabia.

“Mr. Bigas finished serving his term in Aug. 2008, but due to administrative procedures involving the Saudi court and the Governor's Office, he remains in jail,” the DFA said.

source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net

950,000 RP jobs lost due to global crisis—ADB

First Posted 14:58:00 11/11/2009

MANILA, Philippines—The global financial meltdown resulted in the loss of 950,000 jobs in the country between October 2008 and March 2009, the Asian Development Bank said in the paper, “How has Asia fared in the global crisis? A tale of three countries: Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand.”

The labor department disputed the number and cited the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the National Statistics Office (NSO) which showed that the number of employed persons rose by 1.458 million from 33.535 million in April 2008 to 35 million in April 2009, decreasing the unemployment rate from 8 percent to 7.5 percent.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the ADB estimate of 950,000 job losses is not supported by the LFS data, which is the official source of statistics on labor and employment in the Philippines.

Nevertheless, both the ADB and the labor department observed that the crisis had little impact on the Philippine employment situation.

“In general, the global crisis had relatively little impact on economic growth and employment in the Philippines. Unlike Thailand, the global crisis has no significant impact on employment by working status in the Philippines,” the paper said.

Noting a significant increase in agricultural employment in April 2009, the ADB paper said “the current crisis has had little impact on the unemployment rate in the Philippines.”

Echoing the paper’s observations, the labor chief said the crisis had such a minimal impact on the Philippine labor situation because of government focus on helping the economy and the Filipino workers, particularly the vulnerable ones, cope with the worldwide recession.

Roque said the government’s pump-priming measures “have tremendously buttressed the country’s capability to cope with the adverse effects of the global crisis.”

Both the ADB paper and the labor chief listed these measures to include investments in public infrastructure projects coupled with the implementation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) and the labor department’s job preservation efforts.

CLEEP, as its name suggests, seeks to provide emergency employment, funding, and livelihood assistance to affected workers.

The labor department, on the other hand, issued guidelines on flexible work arrangements to avoid layoffs in firms affected by the crisis. It also released a registry of skills, set up a hotline that addresses concerns of displaced workers, and provided training, livelihood assistance, job placement referral services and reintegration programs for returning overseas Filipino workers.

source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Join Muslim Asia or perish: Taliban



AN official Taliban publication warns Australia that it will have to assimilate into a dominant Asia or face the prospect of being overpowered and forced to take population overspill from Asia.

The choice is spelled out in the latest issue of the online Taliban monthly magazine, Al Sumud (Steadfastness), whose lead article offers a sweeping view of a post-war order in which a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan becomes a moral pivot for a pan-Asian renaissance that will coincide with the decline of Western power.

"The end of European leadership in the world will place the white settler diaspora in Australia before two choices," writes the author, Mustafa Hamid, a former senior al-Qa'ida member who in 2001 married Australian Rabiah Hutchinson, a Sydney mother with links to Islamic extremists.

"It can either return to its motherland in Europe or reconcile with its Asian surroundings and assimilate into it as a wealthy and active member."

Otherwise, he warns, a lengthy conflict will ensue in which Australia will be overpowered "by Asian waves that are better armed and more numerous".

"There is no doubt that the huge growth in the population of Asia, together with its economic and military development, will make Australia into lebensraum -- to use the European term," writes Mr Hamid. Lebensraum, meaning living space, was a term used by Nazi Germany as a motivation for territorial conquest.

Asia, Mr Hamid writes, is facing a population explosion "while Australia is nearly empty of people, apart from scattered groups of white residents".

Residents of "the Israeli outpost" at the other end of Asia are likewise warned to return to their countries of origin or face an "unequal conflict".

These warnings, however, are marginal to the central vision offered in the article -- the emergence of a vibrant pan-Asian identity in which Islam, and the Taliban in particular, constitutes a powerful moral and cultural force but not an exclusive one. Its emphasis on pan-Asian political identity rather than pan-Islamic sets it apart from al-Qa'ida ideology. The Taliban article does not call for jihad, although it hints at the possibility of "peaceful Islamic expansion" and the linchpin role in the "Asian Age", as the author terms it, is ceded to non-Islamic China.

Western power is fading fast, he writes, "to the benefit of Asian giants, and first and foremost among them the colossal economic and human power of China".

Even Russia, whose invasion of Afghanistan 30 years ago would prove a milestone in the emergence of militant Islam, is depicted as an ally arraigned with Asia against the "arrogance" of the West.

"Today, Russia is taking a defensive position against the Western advance which aims to break (Russia) up into statelets and to cross it on the way to China to break it up as well. Russia desires a coalition with China, with India, with Iran if possible, and even more so with Afghanistan, and even more so with the Taliban movement (which) is a serious, realistic and victorious leadership in that vital country (Afghanistan)."

In the article, "The Return of the Islamic Emirate: A vision of Afghanistan's role in the coming international order", Mr Hamid depicts a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan having a fundamental leadership role in the new Asian order -- "not in the field of finance, industry and interest-bearing banks" but as a moral force.

"This was demonstrated by the ability of Islam to inspire a small, poor people to resist and defeat five military campaigns of the largest armies on earth."

This article was obtained as an exclusive from the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor Project (www.memrijttm.org ) which monitors and translates the 100 most important Islamist sites and blogs around the clock.

source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au

Abu Sayyaf behead Jolo head teacher

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:30:00 11/10/2009

Filed Under: Acts of terror, Kidnapping, Crime, Education

MANILA, Philippines—Abu Sayyaf kidnappers dumped Gabriel Canizares’ severed head stuffed in his own backpack outside a gasoline station in Jolo town before dawn Monday, authorities said.

The body of Canizares, 36, a school teacher who was seized on Oct. 19 on Jolo Island, was found separately five hours later near the main gate of the 3rd Marine Brigade in Patikul town, two kilometers away.

“The kidnappers had demanded a P2-million ransom for Canizares, but his family and friends could raise only P150,000,” said Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of the Western Mindanao Command.

“The demand could not be met,” Dolorfino said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the military and police to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf’s “heinous and inhumane atrocities,” according to her spokesperson, Lorelei Fajardo.

“We shall make them pay for the enormity of this savagery,” Fajardo said.

Canizares had been a teacher for 10 years. The lone non-Muslim teacher in Kanagi Elementary School in Patikul was recently appointed its head teacher.

But because he had been receiving threats, Canizares had asked to be transferred to the division office in Jolo, said his supervisor Eufremio Canaria.

Canizares had gone back to check the situation in Patikul when he was seized in a jeep with his fellow teachers, police said.

Caught off guard

“We were caught off guard. We thought Patikul is peaceful given that a big chunk of the US government support poured in the said town. The school where Canizares taught is a recipient of US AID’s programs and projects,” Canaria said.

Witnesses told authorities that the backpack containing the head of Canizares was thrown by one of two men riding tandem on a motorcycle.

Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa said the arrest on Saturday of Asnawie Addan Salah, a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), could have led to the beheading of Canizares.

“The timing of those two events is very significant,” Verzosa said in a phone interview.

Salah was nabbed on Saturday afternoon at the Zamboanga International Airport for his alleged involvement in the grisly beheading of 10 Marines in Alabarka, Basilan, in 2007.

Canizares’ kidnappers were led by a certain Abu Tarik and Basaron who, Verzosa said, were known to “share their men” with Salah’s MILF unit.

MILF-Abu Sayyaf operation

The Abu Sayyaf commanders, he said, were relatives of another notorious leader of the bandits, Radullan Sahiron.

“The armed men who ambushed the Marine troopers were affiliated with both the MILF and Abu Sayyaf. In a recent encounter in Basilan with the military, they again helped one another,” Verzosa said. “Some of them were members of the same clan.”

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said Canizares was a “great loss to efforts to improve the quality of education of our children in the area.”

Domingo Alidon, president of the Department of Education employees’ union, urged the government to stop negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf. Since the start of this year, the bandits had abducted six teachers who were eventually released.

“We are calling on the President to act on this matter,” Alidon said. “They are not rebels. They are bandits. Government should just crush them.”

Gov’t record ‘abysmal’

Antonio Tino, chair of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, expressed shock and outrage. He said the murder of Canizares showed the administration’s “abysmal record” in protecting teachers in Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. urged Sulu residents to take the defense of their communities seriously into their own hands.

“They should also have an uncompromising attitude against these terrorists,” Teodoro told reporters on the sidelines of the Department of National Defense’s 70th anniversary at Camp Aguinaldo Monday.

Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo, a former kidnap victim, said that “the government, other than lip service, didn’t do anything substantial to save Canizares, maybe because he is just a mere elementary school head teacher.”

Dolorfino dismissed the suggestion, saying that troops on the ground did everything they could.

“We cannot just make public our own efforts so as not to jeopardize the safety of the victim,” he said. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy, Marlon Ramos, Philip C. Tubeza, Christian V. Esguerra in Manila; Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao; and Associated Press

click the source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Thursday, November 5, 2009

COMMENT: Critical but Overlooked, Avoided (1): On Misuari. By Patricio P. Diaz

by Patricio P. Diaz/MindaNews
Saturday, 05 September 2009 07:52

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / September 4) – Two online discussions in Kusogmindanaw were most enlightening and revealing. One centered on Nur Misuari as a major Bangsamoro leader and on his objection to Malaysia as facilitator of the GRP-MILF peace negotiation because of the Sabah question; the other, on blaming the Manila government and the Christian majority for the Moro frustration over the failure to implement the Sharia in Moro communities and to realize the Bangsamoro Right to Self-Determination (RSD).

What is revealing? The Bangsamoro leaders know what they want but they cannot put their acts together and prioritize what they want. This reminds me of Ralph Allison’s commentary on the Negro problem in his novel, The Invisible Man.

I. On Nur Misuari

The discussions on Misuari and the Sabah question in relation to Malaysia as GRP-MILF peace talks facilitator, the GRP-MILF peace negotiation and related issues brought out the critical but sadly overlooked (or, avoided?) issue: The unity of Bangsamoro leaders behind the Bangsamoro RSD.

The discussions also affirmed that Malacanang, other Manila leaders and Christian political leaders in Mindanao have exploited tribal jealousies and differences to keep the Tausugs, the Maguindanaos and the Maranaos divided.

The most primary concern for the Bangsamoro now is how to attain according to their RSD the true self-government -- not necessarily an independent state -- that will fulfill the Bangsamoro political, economic and social aspirations and redress the historical injustices they have suffered.

How can this be attained?

Past Efforts

Efforts in the past to do it did not work.

On July 12, 1975, President Ferdinand E. Marcos instituted Regional Commissions IX and XII to appease the growing Moro discontent and defuse the Moro rebellion. These existed until 1977.

These did not work.

On July 15, 1977, President Marcos in his Proclamation No. 1628 declared autonomy in Southern Philippines and created the Provisional Government which was organized on April 23 following to supplant the Regional Commissions. That failed to attract the MNLF and other Moro liberation fronts despite the three – out of seven – slots allotted to them in the PG including the chairmanship offered to Misuari. This did not work.

On July 25, 1979, President Marcos decreed the creation of Regional Autonomous Governments IX and XII -- also known as LTPs (Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook) -- a unilateral, Marcos version implementation of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976. They existed until 1989. These did
not work.

President Marcos used the RAG or LTP leaders to weaken the MNLF through a divide-appease-and-reward program. That netted Commander Ronnie (Amelil Malaguiok), the KRC (Kutawatu Revolutionary Committee) chairman, and several of his top area commanders. That did not weaken the MNLF.

On August 1, 1989, President Corazon C. Aquino, on signing R.A. 6734, established the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. R.A. 6734, the ARMM Organic Act, was originally crafted by Muslim, Christian and Indigenous People delegates to the Mindanao Regional Consultative Commission. That did not win over the MNLF and MILF. It was inadequate
to fulfill the Bangsamoro RSD.

On September 2, 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos's government signed the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF with Manuel T. Yan (GRP Panel Chair) and Nur Misuari (MNLF Chairman and head of the MNLF Panel) as signatories. The day was hailed as the beginning of lasting peace in Mindanao.

Unfortunately, the expectation turned out not to be so. Except for a few provisions, the 1996 FPA was a rehash of R.A. 6734 and those "exceptions" were either omitted by Congress from R.A. 9054 or, if included, were not fully implemented -- now the subject of a still unfinished Tripartite review. The 1996 FPA has not fulfilled truly the Bangsamoro RSD.

In 1997, the GRP-MILF peace negotiation took off through the initiative of President Ramos.. On July 27, 2008, the GRP and MILF panel chairmen initialed the MOA-AD, a framework for final negotiation in the Comprehensive Compact. Its August 4 signing was aborted. The present troubles in Muslim Mindanao especially in Maguindanao and Lanao Sur are the aftermath.

This brief summary of efforts to establish self-government for the Moros, if read fully, would reveal the paradox: the same efforts have circumvented the fulfillment of a truly Bangsamoro Self-Government according to their RSD. And the more that the same fulfillment is being diverted to other concerns now.

Other Concerns

What are these other concerns?

1. The Senate, through Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, wants the resumption of the GRP-MILF peace talks postponed until some issues are clarified.

2, The ARMM governor wants the ARMM to be involved in the peace talks.

3. The MNLF leaders and sympathizers want the 1996 FPA to be fully implemented first.

4. Misuari has raised the Sabah question to block further participation of Malaysia as facilitator in the peace talks and as the key leader of the International Monitoring Team.

5. Christian political leaders like :Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Pinol and Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat want the peace talks to be localized.

6. Some Tausug leaders say that there is no MILF in Sulu and that the GRP-MILF peace negotiation is centered in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The establishment of the Bangsamoro Self-Government according to the Bangsamoro RSD is completely lost. This primary concern is the challenge of Bangsamoro leaders.

The Leaders

Who are the Bangsamoro leaders?

l. The traditional leaders now ruling the ARMM and representing the Moros in Congress.
They toe the Malacanang line and President Arroyo has made sure they will continue toeing the line.

2. The MNLF now fractured -- a predominantly Tausug faction that together with Misuari loyalists recognizes Misuari as its head and a predominantly Maguindanao and Maranao faction that has Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as its head.

3. The MILF.

The loyalty of the traditional leaders to President Arroyo, factional differences, and the historical traditional Tausug-Maranao-Maguindanao jealousies are keeping these leaders from uniting -- making it easy for Manila and Christian political leaders to keep them divided.

The Challenge

Do these leaders sincerely want to secure for the Bangsamoro people a genuine self-government according to the Bangsamoro RSD? If they do, they must:

1. Forget their differences and pledge their loyalty, first and foremost, to the Bangsamoro people.

2. Realize that the 1996 FPA complements R.A. 6734 but Congress did not fully include all the complementing provisions in the amendatory act, R.A. 9054; and what have been included have not been fully implemented, as complained of by the MNLF.

3. Realize also that MOA-AD complements the 1996 FPA and R.A. 9054. In so doing, the MOA-AD asks for more economic resources, a more comprehensive and bolder political settlement, and the institution of the BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity) which is a much stronger
self-government than the ARMM.

In demanding the expansion of the ARMM as the territorial area of BJE, the MOA-AD essentially reiterates a provision in the 1996 FPA that could have expanded the ARMM according to Art. X, Sec. 18 of the Constitution which Congress ignored in enacting R.A. 9054 as it did in enacting R.A. 6734.

4. Realize further that the MOA-AD is not as unconstitutional and as contrary to law as the Supreme Court has ruled in its Decision. A very close and careful reading of the MOA-AD and the Supreme Court Decision would show that some provisions declared unconstitutional and contrary to law are in RA 9054, the 1996 FPA and the Constitution. One instance is the much-criticized "Foreign trade mission"

The unconstitutional provisions are not indefensible and beyond remedy. Proof of this: The Supreme Court in its Decision suggested a renegotiation of the MOA-AD -- which is what the GRP and MILF panels agreed to do in their July 29 Joint Statement..

5. Unite in one voice and effort to establish the BJE or a BJE-like Self-Government -- whether through the negotiation of the MOA-AD into the Comprehensive Compact or through another instrument. With one voice they can weather opposition to the fulfillment of the Bangsamoro
RSD.

When they have secured a genuine self-government -- not a mendicant and submissive autonomy that the ARMM is -- they can settle their leadership difference, if there are any, and after that tackle the Sabah issue -- an entirely different matter with ramifying issues.

Divided, they only serve their own self-interest and that of their patrons and play into the trap of intriguers and anti-Moro politicians at the expense of Bangsamoro people. Will they respond to the challenge? (Tomorrow: On Blaming)

(“Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to
patpdiaz@mindanews.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Sulu Newspaper in Sabah

Poser over status of Sulu Newspaper
Star online, Malaysia
Published Thursday, August 7, 2008

KOTA KINABALU: A so-called Sulu sultanate newspaper dubbed Suara Tausug has hit the streets of the capital here and is raising eyebrows.

The DAP’s Kota Kinabalu MP Dr Hiew King Cheu, who was given the 12-page newspaper apparently being sold freely in some parts of town for RM1.80, questioned how such a newspaper was given a Home Ministry permit.

“The paper is written in the Tausug (Suluk) language and Malay. It has a Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) permit number 1-20-Julai-KDN:PQ/PP1506(307) and an e-mail address: thenewsulu@yahoo.com,” he said in a statement.

“Why is such a paper permitted to be sold openly in Sabah and why has the Government issued a permit for its publication and circulation,” he asked.

Dr Hiew said the content of the paper was the Sulu sultanate, the status of Filipino refugees holding IMM13 immigration documents and the street kids issue, among others.

He said the ministry must clarify if it had really issued the newspaper a permit to publish.

source: http://thestar.com.my


Find definite solution to Sulu claims over Sabah: Bumburing

Daily Express
Published on: Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kuala Lumpur: The Federal Government must find a definite solution to the Sulu claims over Sabah even if it means bringing it to the International Court of Justice, said Tamparuli MP Datuk Wilfred Bumburing.

He said the answer to his question on Feb 23 for the reason the Malaysian Government continues paying RM5,300 annually to the Sulu Sultanate heirs was that it was a cession money based on the agreement between the British East India Company and Sulu Sultan in 1878.

It was also based on the 1939 McKaskie Judgement in the North Borneo Court, he said in his debate on the motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's policy speech in Parliament here.

However, Bumburing asked the relevance between the 1878 agreement and formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

"Is it a kind of lease? Is this a recognised lease and inherited by Malaysia?

The answer given to me is that the (McKaskie) judgement was purely civil and has no effect on the sovereignty of Sabah in the Federation," he said.

But, he said, if the Government continues to pay the so-called annual cession money of RM5,300, Sabah's total sovereignty in Malaysia is still questionable.

He said the Sulu Sultanate heirs are still claiming Sabah and now they had issued birth certificates to their people in Sabah, while a Home Ministry-approved newspaper in Tausug language is also in publication in Sabah.

"We want a definite solution to this matter. If necessary, bring it up to the International Court of Justice.

"Sabahans together with the Sarawakians have decided in 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia and, therefore, no quarters from outside the country can deny this," he said.

He said Malaysians in Sabah would fight for the sovereignty till the end and that they were fortunate to have made the right decision to be together in Malaysia.

Bumburing also said the issue of social contract was not really relevant to the people of Sabah and Sarawak but rather the Malaysia Agreement, which was the basis for the formation of Malaysia.

He said after 50 years of independence, the leaders should be basing the discussion on the people's problem in the whole country and not only focusing on Peninsular Malaysia.

"Sometimes we in Sabah and Sarawak feel like we are merely audiences watching operas being acted out by the races in Peninsular Malaysia," he said, adding that misleading statements like "in all Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak" was always being used.

"That is why we cannot be blamed when MPs from Sabah and Sarawak sometimes are too vociferous in voicing out problems from Sabah and Sarawak," he said.

In another note, Bumburing urged the relevant authorities, particularly the police, to leave no stone unturned in the investigation of the land dispute in Tingkayu, Kunak that saw one man being murdered and claims of illegal immigrants being involved.

He also appealed to the Education Ministry to fulfil its promise to build a secondary school in Pekan Nabalu as they was talk that the site had been shifted elsewhere due to the unstable land in Nabalu.

source: http://www.dailyexpress.com.my

Monday, November 2, 2009

Visayan Army Returns Home After Sulu Campaign



156 RMG troopers return
IN VISAYAS
BY GILBERT BAYORAN

The 156 Regional Mobile Group troopers, among them the 75 from Negros Occidental, who were dispatched to Mindanao at the height of government campaign against Abu Sayyaf bandits, are now back in the Visayas.

The 75 6 th Regional Mobile Group troopers who arrived at the Iloilo Port last night, were welcomed by Director Ray Roderos, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas, and Region 6 police chief Isagani Cuevas.

The 81 other RMG troopers assigned at the Police Regional Office 7 in Cebu returned with zero casualty, but the 6 th RMG of Western Visayas had one, who died in a gun duel with his colleague in Jolo, Sulu, four months ago, police records show.

The return of 75 RMG troopers to Negros Occidental was timely, some police officers said, because of the May 2010 elections.

Rodero and Cuevas congratulated the 6 th RMG troopers for a job well done in Sulu, where the 6 th and 7 th RMG troopers had been assigned for almost five months.

The company-sized 6 th RMG unit headed by Senior Insp. Jerry Abrogina is expected to arrive in Negros Occidental from Iloilo today.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, meanwhile, got two additional police commissioned officers, Inspectors Reina Protacio and Vanessa Gayle Dura.

Protacio and Dura were among the 6 th RMG police officers downloaded to various police units in Western Visayas, police records show.*GPB

source: http://www.visayandailystar.com

Peace Agreement Collapses

Mindanao violence to escalate anew
ARMED conflict in the war-weary South is expected to escalate anew with the declaration of a top commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that the peace agreement it signed with the government in 1996 “had already collapsed.”

A press statement posted yesterday at www.luwaran.com., the website of another Moro separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said the collapse of the peace agreement was prompted by the alleged military offensive of more than 2,000 Philippine Marines at the main camp of the MNLF in Bgy. Baubo, Kalinggalan, Luuk, Sulu, at dawn yesterday.

The Marines’ offensive, said the report, is backed by at least 3,000 civilian militias (Cafgu) and occurred as the country’s Catholic majority is celebrating “All Souls’ Day” in remembrance of their departed.

Lt. Colonel Ed Arevalo, spokesman for the Philippine Navy, which has the Marines under its command, however, denied the charge.

“There was no military operation yesterday,” Arevalo told People’s Tonight, quoting his talk with Marines chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad “Ben” Dolorfino. “What transpired is a “law enforcement action a day earlier,” he said.

The declaration of the nullification of the peace agreement signed in Tripoli, Libya, between representatives from the MNLF and the Philippine government was made by Ustaj Haber Malik, “a top brass military officer” of the MNLF, identified with group founder Nur Misuari.

source: journalonline.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuna ban 'justified' by science

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Bluefin tuna (SPL)
The bluefin is highly prized for many dishes, notably sushi

Banning trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna is justified by the extent of their decline, an analysis by scientists advising fisheries regulators suggests.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas' (ICCAT) advisers said stocks are probably less than 15% of their original size.

The analysis has delighted conservation groups, which have warned that over-fishing risks the species' survival.

ICCAT meets to consider the report in 10 days' time.

The analysis was triggered by Monaco's recent proposal to ban international trade in the Atlantic bluefin under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) - a proposal that has gathered support from several other European countries.

ICCAT's track record isn't too good, but they could surprise us
Dr Sue Lieberman
Pew Environment Group

"What's needed to save the stocks is a suspension of fishing activity and a suspension of international commercial trade," said Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries with the environmental group WWF for the Mediterranean region.

"We must stop mercilessly exploiting this fragile natural resource until stocks show clear signs of rebound and until sustainable management and control measures are firmly put in place."

The body charged with regulating catches of the southern bluefin, a closely related species, has just approved 20% quota cuts across the board.

Quota excesses

For a number of years, ICCAT has set quotas higher than scientists' recommendations.

The pressure this puts on stocks has been compounded by illegal fishing for this valuable species, which according to some estimates adds 30% to the official quota.

Last year, an independent report concluded that ICCAT's management of tuna was a "disgrace", blaming member countries for not accepting scientific advice and for turning a blind eye to their fleets' illegal activities.

Green Room logo (Image: BBC)

The report recommended interim closure of the Mediterranean fishery, where most bluefin are caught - a measure that won backing from the US.

Frustrated by what it saw as ICCAT's inability to control the problem, Monaco's government - supported by conservation groups - submitted its CITES proposal.

The proposal will be heard at the CITES meeting in March. If enacted and enforced, it would severely hamper the trade.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are mainly caught from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, but most of the meat is consumed in Asia, particularly Japan.

Japan has previously argued that commercial fish species should be controlled by bodies like ICCAT rather than CITES.

"The right thing would be to impose a zero quota," said Sue Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group.

"It wouldn't be forever - stocks will recover, but not at current rates of catch."

Purse seine net (G. Parsons/Greenpeace)
The bulk of the catches come from purse seine boats in the Mediterranean

ICCAT's scientific committee considered different ways of analysing the decline - whether to start from estimates of how many bluefin there were before industrial fishing began, or from the largest stocks reliably recorded, and according to different rates of reproduction.

They concluded that whichever way the data is cut, it is 96% likely that numbers in the east Atlantic and Mediterranean are now less than 15% of their pre-industrial-fishing size.

CITES guidance suggests this would trigger a trade ban for a slow-reproducing fish species.

For the western Atlantic stock, subject to much smaller catches, the figure is 93%.

At its forthcoming meeting in Brazil, ICCAT delegates will decide whether to place new restrictions on catches.

"ICCAT's track record isn't too good," commented Dr Lieberman, "but they could surprise us."

Usually, ICCAT makes reports such as this one publically available.

But because of its "controversial and politically-charged nature", the commission asked members to "consider refraining from distributing this report" before the Brazil meeting, and it is not clear if and when it will be posted on the organisation's website.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

Dead 'butanding' found in Manila Bay

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:25:00 10/28/2009

Filed Under: Environmental Issues, Animals


MANILA, Philippines— A whale shark, locally called “butanding”, was found dead on Manila Bay by local fishermen on Wednesday morning, according to the local arm of conservationist group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

WWF Philippines information officer Gregg Yan said the possible causes for the butanding’s death include disease, gear entanglement, exposure to organic pollutants and ship strikes.

Measuring 15-feet long, the female whale shark bore a few scars, including small cuts on its tail possibly caused by a rope and strange injuries to both eyes, with the eyeballs missing when the carcass was found along the South Harbor at 1:30a.m., said Yan.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Manila Ocean Park and WWF went to the site where the dead whale shark was found to document the carcass.

A necropsy will be conducted to examine its cause of death, while the carcass will be immediately buried in the town of Dagupan in Pangasinan province, where the remains of other large sea creatures are buried.

The whale shark is the third largest marine animal to have died in Manila Bay over the past three years, said Yan. The first two include a dead baleen whale found floating beside a passenger ship moored in Manila Bay on December 2008 and another baleen whale carcass was found floating on August 2007.

Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long, with a maw wide enough to swallow a person. However, they feed only on planktons, acting as living filters to improve overall water quality in the seas.

Classified as a vulnerable species or close to being endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000, the global population of whale sharks continues to decrease, said Yan.

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thailand crisis is the result of democracy

Gwynne Dyer | Arab News

The Thai media have been silent on the question of what happens after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. But the king is 81 years old and he has been in hospital for a month now, so there are widespread fears that he is dying. Last week the Bangkok stock market fell by 8 percent in a day on rumors that his health is worse than the palace admits.

Bhumibol has been on the throne for 63 years and he is universally revered. Thailand is three years into the worst political crisis it has seen since it became a more or less democratic country two decades ago, and the king is just about the only unifying and stabilizing factor that remains. His death would make matters much worse.

The crisis is the result of democracy. Thailand has become a semideveloped country — average income has risen forty-fold since Bhumibol came to the throne — but most of the population is still rural and quite poor. Their votes used to be bought by powerful local politicians and delivered to whichever urban-based party paid the highest price, but no more.

As the people of the overwhelmingly rural north and northeast acquired more education and sophistication, they started using their votes to back politicians who promised to defend their interests and not just those of the Bangkok-based economic elite. In 2001, they elected a populist politician of humble origins called Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister.

Thaksin had made a fortune in telecommunications, and he probably couldn’t have won the elections if he wasn’t rich.

But he did govern in the interests of the poor, and he was re-elected with an increased majority in 2005. It was how you would expect a maturing democracy to work, for the poor always outnumber the rich.

But you would also expect a backlash from the traditional ruling elite, and it came in the form of the People’s Alliance of Democracy (PAD), a yellow-shirted movement that actually aimed to roll back democracy. By provoking confrontations in the streets with Thaksin’s supporters (who took to wearing red shirts), the PAD created a pretext for its allies in the army to seize power in a military coup in 2006. Since then, Thailand has been in permanent crisis.

The PAD’s urban, middle-class supporters can control the streets of the capital (with some help from the army) and even overthrow governments they don’t like, but they cannot force the rural majority to abandon its own loyalties. The country is dangerously polarized and politically paralyzed — and many Thais believe that only King Bhumibol can hold the country together.

Maybe it’s true, although there are suspicions that he actively supported the 2006 coup rather than just acquiescing in it. (Again, that cannot be openly discussed in Thailand. A well-known former journalist, Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison after she suggested in a public speech that the king had backed the coup.) At any rate, the king’s death would greatly deepen the crisis, for his likely successor is not loved.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has led a turbulent personal life, including three marriages. His attitude has probably not been improved by living for 57 years in the shadow of his father. He would be a perfectly serviceable constitutional monarch in normal times, but the Thai people have decided, fairly or unfairly, that they do not like him very much.

Vajiralongkorn is so lacking in the respect that has enabled his father to play a mediating, calming role that there are those who quietly suggest that his sister, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, might perform the duties of the monarchy better. It’s not impossible. Thai law has been changed to allow women to occupy the throne, and the constitution leaves the final right to designate an heir to the 19-member Privy Council of senior advisors to the king.

They are unlikely to change the succession, but the mere fact that it could happen introduces another element of uncertainty and potential conflict into the equation. Which gives Thais another reason to pray for Bhumibol’s recovery.

The almost daily reports from the palace on the king’s condition are always upbeat, but there have been references to a “lung inflammation,” which is a delicate way of saying pneumonia. That is potentially a killer in a man of his age, and the worries of the Thai public are justified.

source: http://arabnews.com

Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights

Poland ends 35-year presence First Posted 13:04:00 10/25/2009

CAMP ZIOUANI, Israel—(UPDATE) The Philippine flag has been raised for the first time over the Golan Heights as Manila formally established its peacekeeping presence here, taking over from Poland which has recently decided to end its 35-year involvement with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (Undof).

In ceremonies held here Friday, Poland lowered its national colors while the Philippines raised its own to signal the formal assumption by the 1st Philippine Battalion of peacekeeping responsibilities in the southern sector of a United Nations-controlled zone that has kept Israeli and Syrian forces apart since the end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1974.

Lieutenant Colonel Mariusz Jurek, commander of the Polish Battalion, also handed over to Lieutenant Colonel Milfredo Melegrito, commanding officer of the Philippine Battalion, the symbolic key to Camp Ziouani in the ceremonies that were presided over by Undof Force Commander Major General Wolfgang Jilke and attended by Undof officials as well as members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from Israel.

The Philippine Mission to the United Nations said there will be a total of 336 Filipino troops in the Golan Heights by the end of the month when Poland completes its withdrawal from Undof, which it has been a part of since it was established in 1974.

The Philippine Contingent will form part of the 1,023-strong Undof peacekeeping force that also includes troops from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India, and Japan who have been tasked by the Security Council to maintain the ceasefire and supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and the so-called Areas of Separation and Limitation between the two parties.

Philippine Ambassador to Tel Aviv Petronila Garcia, who represented Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. in the ceremonies, said in her remarks that the deployment to the Golan Heights is the biggest and most challenging peacekeeping operation for Manila in almost a decade and is in line with the country’s obligations as a charter member of the United Nations.

“We also see our presence here in the Golan as our own little way of contributing to peace in the region,” Ambassador Garcia said. “As a friend to both Israel and Syria, it would be to the interest of the Philippines that peace reigns in all of the Middle East where many of our countrymen are based.”

Garcia said that in making its decision to accept the UN invitation to deploy an infantry battalion to the Golan, Manila also took into account the fact that in the 35 years of Undof’s existence, the ceasefire and disengagement between Israel and Syria has been observed and not a single serious incident has shattered the peace in the area.

“For this, we are thankful not only for the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by UN peacekeepers but also for the excellent cooperation exhibited by both Israel and Syria,” she told her audience who included Major General Carlos Holgaza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; First Secretary Elmer Cato, Peacekeeping Officer of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York; Colonel Gregory Cayetano, Commanding Officer of the AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center; and officers of the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Ambassador Garcia also paid tribute to Poland, saying that “the success story that is Undof would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of men and women of the various Polish contingents that have been at the forefront of the UN peacekeeping effort here during the past 35 years.”

“Poland’s contributions to the cause of peace will never be forgotten and the Philippine Contingent can be expected to continue and build on the good work Warsaw has started here in the Golan,” the lady envoy said. “Although the Philippines is a small country with limited means, it takes its responsibility in United Nations peacekeeping very seriously.”

“Like Poland, the Philippines is proud of its strong peacekeeping tradition that dates back to the 1960s when the Philippines first sent an Air Force squadron to support UN operations in the Congo,” she said, adding that Filipino peacekeepers have since served in Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Kashmir, Kosovo, Nepal, Sudan, and Timor Leste.

When the rest of the Philippine Battalion arrives here at the end of the month, Philippine presence in the Golan Heights will bring to almost 1,000 the total number of military and police personnel serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

source: http://globalnation.inquirer.net

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Honest Filipino (Lark Michael B. Colegado) returns SR1.2m to its owner

Onie Espanto | Arab News

JEDDAH: A Filipino has been felicitated for returning around SR1.2 million that he found outside a cash machine to its rightful owner in Tabuk last week.

“I’m very happy. I am proud of myself that in spite of it being such a huge amount, I didn’t feel like taking money which does not belong to me,” said Lark Michael B. Colegado, 34, from Tacloban and Misamis Oriental in the Philippines.

Colegado, a maintenance technician in Jeddah, said he was sent to Tabuk on Oct. 6 to carryout maintenance. It was when he was looking for a place to sit at an ATM machine to carryout work that he found a small box containing the cash.

Colegado immediately informed his superiors and the money was returned to its owner.

“I could have been richer if I kept that money, but I was raised by my family to be an honest person so it did not enter my mind, although I was really scared when I found the box,” he said.

He also informed his Pakistani helper who was with him about the incident and told his bosses on returning to Jeddah. In an e-mail from his managers, Colegado was told that they were proud to have him in their team and thanked him for doing what is right.

The Filipino community invited Colegado to a function at Laparilla restaurant to felicitate him. Leaders of different Filipino organizations also attended the event and handed Colegado a certificate of appreciation.

“What Colegado did is very timely. At this point in time when we have lots of Filipinos facing financial problems in this country, here comes a man returning a very big amount of money he found with no regret,” said Filcom leader Jauhari Usman.

“Honestly speaking, the huge amount found was really tempting. If anybody finds such an amount, I do not know what he or she would do. What Colegado did is really admirable and has boosted my morale as a Filipino,” he added.

“In spite of the very bad situation in our country, we can still see some people like Colegado doing a great thing and it is a real honor for all Filipinos. It shows the world that we are a trustworthy people,” said Rudy Castro, chairman of the Overseas Filipino Workers Cooperative Council.

“We are proud of you and, on behalf of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) and the Filipinos here in Jeddah, congratulate you. Your kindness shines in spite of the flood left by Ondoy and Pepeng ... I proudly tell you that I’m proud to be a Filipino because of you,” said Joey Villanueva, chairman of PICPA.

source: http://arabnews.com

Sinking feeling in the Philippines

By Joel D Adriano

MANILA - As the flood waters recede and Filipinos count their extraordinary losses, analysts are weighing the political damage accrued to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's legacy and her anointed successor's electoral prospects at next year's polls.

Her government's response to tropical storm-induced flooding in Manila and nearby provinces has been widely criticized as inept and inadequate, drawing harsh parallels in the former American colony to past US president George W Bush's mismanagement of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that disproportionately affected poverty-stricken areas.

Two tropical storms, known as Ketsana and Parma, have caused a series of landslides and extensive flooding that have killed at least 700 people across this island nation. An estimated four million people have lost their homes to the disaster, but only one million have found sanctuary in government-provided emergency shelters, according to some relief agency estimates.

Storm-related damage has already reached US$540 million, with mounting health, farm and business losses expected to push that figure to over $1 billion. As much of the infrastructure and business damage has been concentrated in the economically important Metro Manila area, some analysts believe the disaster will take a significant toll on the already weak national economy.

Pleae read more at http://www.atimes.com

Joel D Adriano is an independent consultant and award-winning freelance journalist. He was a sub-editor for the business section of The Manila Times and writes for ASEAN BizTimes, Safe Democracy and People's Tonight.

Ondoy dumped more rains than Katrina


By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:53:00 09/27/2009

MANILA, Philippines -- "Katrina" was no match to "Ondoy."

The 15th weather disturbance that hit the Philippines in 2009 dumped a total of 455 millimeters of rain in Quezon City alone in 24 hours, compared to the 250 millimeters of rain that Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans in Louisiana in the United States in 2005.

This was the report presented to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by Dr. Prisco Nilo, the chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) at a briefing of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday.

"We had more rains than Katrina," Ms Arroyo quipped.

Nilo said that in Tanay, Rizal, the total amount of rainfall last Saturday was 312 millimeters.

Nilo also told the President that cloud developments in the Pacific Ocean were being monitored by PAGASA.

"It has the potential to become a Low Pressure Area and might develop into another storm in the next few days," Nilo said.

The cloud developments may also take the path towards Luzon similar to "Ondoy."

Nilo said PAGASA had already issued warnings of possible flooding as early as September 24 and even raised storm signals the following day.

In a separate interview, he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it was also the responsibility of people to heed the warnings issued by government.

"Instead of just watching the soap operas on TV, they should also watch the news," Nilo said.

Nilo said that at present, PAGASA could detect through satellite the strength of a rain band but not the intensity of rain, or the amount of rainfall.

He said that in contrast, a Doppler radar "can more or less accurately estimate the intensity of a rainfall per hour as well as the wind strength of a storm or a typhoon."

Nilo also explained that last Saturday's rains caused flash floods in Metro Manila because the area was a "small basin" compared to the amount of rain that "Ondoy" dumped in the capital in a few hours.

"It doesn't matter whether the rain is strong, if the basin is large then it would take several hours [for the flooding to take place]," Nilo said.

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Malacanang Calls Killing of US Soldiers 'Barbaric Act' But not the Eid Bombings

"A barbaric act"

Malacañang, meanwhile, condemned Tuesday’s attack, which was believed to be perpetrated by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

“We are very sad and we mourn the death of the soldiers. The act was very shameless because they are doing a humanitarian mission. We deplore this kind of barbaric act," said deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez.

Golez said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the blast and find out if it particularly targeted US soldiers.

He, however, said the Philippines would continue to receive additional foreign troops despite the bomb attack.

Under the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, American troops are deployed to the Philippines for purposes of training their local counterparts in the fight against terrorism.

source: http://www.gma news

Filipino Soldiers Feared Encounters in Sulu

Last Monday’s ambush by the Abu Sayyaf bandits that killed eight Marine personnel had prompted the military in the southern Philippine province of Sulu to exercise extra caution especially in traveling by land.

Medyo umiiwas na kami sa vehicular movement sa ngayon. Kung sila ay magrere-supply, tsina-chopper na muna namin," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command.

(We are limiting our vehicular movement. We are now using choppers to bring supplies to our units.)

He also said they have fortified some possible targets in the province - including military installations - to prevent such attacks by the Abu Sayyaf, a loosely organized band of Islamic fundamentalists with links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network.

“We are now exercising greater security measures to avoid a repeat (of the ambush). We are hardening up isolated detachments," said Dolorfino.

To assist them, the official said they have deployed civilian emergency forces to "enhance our internal defense" especially in Jolo, a known bailiwick of the bandits.

“So starting yesterday [Monday] afternoon, we have deployed civilian emergency force [members] in Jolo so that they [terrorists] won’t be able to enter Jolo," he said.

Members of the 4th Marine Battalion Landing Team were headed back to their base from a seized Abu Sayyaf camp in Indanan town when attacked by the bandits.

One of the eight Marine fatalities was an officer identified as 2nd Lt. Benhur Mudjilon, who was posthumously conferred with the Gold Cross medal for his bravery in leading his men to stand their ground during the ambush.

Dolorfino, citing intelligence reports, said the bandit group’s sub-leader, Ustadz Muktar, reportedly a cousin of senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, was among the 15 fatalities on the enemy side. - GMANews.TV

source: http://www.gma news

War-Displaced Civilians In Sulu

The following pictures were from taken from tausugnet.com. It was posted by one of its members that goes by the name 'takbir'. Takbir is one of the few human rights advocate in the mainland of Sulu.



O ALLAH, POUR PATIENCE ON US


MAKE OUR FOOTHOLDS STRONG


AND GIVE US VICTORY OVER THE UNBELIEVERS!



RABBANAA AFRIGH 'ALAYNAA SABRAA
WATHABBIT AQDAAMANAA
WANSURNAA 'ALAL QAWMIL KAAFIREEN.

WASALLAAHU 'ALAA SAYIDINAA MUHAMMADIN
WA'ALAA AALIHI WASAHBIHI AJMA'IN

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Darul Ifta sets caravan, prayer for peace

Darul Ifta sets caravan, prayer for peace

Monday, October 19, 2009

MAJOR General Benjamin Mohammad Dolorfino, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), is fully supporting the Darul Ifta group in Sulu province, a military official said Monday.

Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Hayudini, chief of the 4th Civil Relations Group (CRG), said the Darul Ifta is convening for four days from October 22 to 25 in the island province of Sulu.

Sun.Star accepts donations for victims of Typhoon Ondoy

Among the activities scheduled to be held starting Thursday are the holding of the peace caravan and prayer for peace by the religious group known as “Tablig,” Hayudini said.

He said the gathering of the religious leaders is aimed to promote peace in the province of Sulu, which had been battered by violence perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf bandits.

He said the Tablig intends to spread peace in its own ways as this is the best way to achieve the longing peace and progress, especially in the province of Sulu.

He said the Wesmincom is providing security to the participants during the conduct of the religious activities purposely to prevent and protect the religious leaders and participants from any threats or incident that may happen while their activities are ongoing.

Dolorfino said the Wesmincom will also provide Navy boat to transport the hundreds of participants from the province of Sulu back to Zamboanga City.

Hayudini said the Wesmincom is hopeful that the four-day event will help positively in the promotion of peace, in the conflict areas. (Bong Garcia)

source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph

Sulu School Principal Abducted

"Suspected extremists abduct Jolo school principal"

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 10:07:00 10/20/2009

ZAMBOANGA -- Suspected Muslim extremists abducted a school principal on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, scene of the recent killing of two US soldiers, a military spokesman said on Tuesday.

About a dozen gunmen stopped a minibus carrying officials of the local school in Patikul town on Monday and took principal Gabriel Canizares, 36, Major Ramon David Hontiveros said.

"Mr. Canizares was with his co-teachers in the jeep, and he was the only one abducted," said Hontiveros.

"There is an operation going on to track down Mr. Canizares," he added.

The kidnappers are believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group that intelligence agencies have linked to the Al-Qaeda network.

Abu Sayyaf militants have been blamed for various bombing and kidnapping-for-ransom attacks including the abductions of school teachers.

The group has also been blamed for a roadside bombing late last month which killed two US troops and a Filipino soldier on Jolo.

Small groups of US military advisers are stationed on Jolo and elsewhere in the southern Philippines to train troops in how to combat the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf, set up in the 1990s allegedly with money from al-Qaeda, has been fighting for an independent Muslim homeland on Jolo and other areas of the southern Philippines.

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Politicians scored over storm relief disguised as campaign

AFTER CALLING attention to the victims of tropical storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), Patrollers shifted their attention to politicians who have allegedly used disaster relief operations to engage in so-called premature campaigning.

In particular, Boto Patrollers singled out deposed president Joseph E. Estrada and Senator Manuel B. Villar, Jr.

In his relief distribution activities, Mr. Estrada gave claim stubs to victims holed up in schools in San Mateo, Rizal east of Metro Manila, where 10 residents died and 19,524 families or 97,620 individuals were affected by Ondoy as of Sept. 28. This as the former leader has announced plans to run again for the presidency next year. A photograph of a stub, which bore the former president’s slogan, signature and picture, was uploaded on botomoipatrolmo.multiply.com by user urbanfinds.

Responding to the post, Eddieracho, another Multiply user, said: "All politicians take advantage of the situation. They do not choose the time..."

Multiply user hanspotterd13, meanwhile, said: "To the politicians — this is not the time to campaign."

Distribution system

In response, Estrada spokesman Margaux Salcedo told Boto Mo iPatrol Mo (BMPM) that the stubs were meant to maintain order in the distribution of relief goods. "This way, the goods will be given to those who are really in need instead of to those who line up repeatedly to receive aid...," she added.

The former president, Ms. Salcedo said, has been conducting such relief operations since he was mayor of San Juan in the 1970s. She added: "Everyone who gives out stuff also have their names on the stuff they give out," naming other individuals and groups, including ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya.

Villar’s rice

Another presidential aspirant, Mr. Villar, was also criticized for distributing food, rice and mineral water with orange stickers that either bear his name or photograph.

Patroller Hans Kristian posted on the BMPM Multiply group page a photograph of a rice pack with the Villar sticker that were distributed in Biñan, Laguna.

He noted that such efforts might have an impact on choices in the May 2010 elections. "It will be ingrained in the minds of those who got the relief goods that the rice which they ate after [storm] Ondoy came from [Mr. Villar]."

He further said: "I also want my fellow Filipinos to know that even if [Mr. Villar] is genuinely helping out, they shouldn’t have a debt to pay because to help is part of being a leader."

In a statement sent to abs-cbnNEWS, Mr. Villar hit back at critics of his initiatives to help Ondoy victims. "Distributing relief packs with my name and picture on it is not something I should be ashamed of or make excuses for," he said. "Besides, if the victims knew where the relief goods came from they would be assured that the contents are safe to eat or to use."

Big help

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, Patrollers have conceded that the politicians’ aid went a long way for those in dire need of assistance.

Hans Kristian said: "No matter who it’s from, we will accept [the help] with open hearts no matter if [the giver’s] intentions were clean or not because in times like these, our need supersedes all."

Multiply user edleedreams said Mr. Villar should be commended for his effort unlike other politicians whose tarpaulins don every street corner but are conspicuously absent during calamities. "Let us just accept [the assistance now but the elections is another thing]," he said.

Multiply user cesar26lag also said as much in Filipino in a post he wrote on Oct. 2. "It is okay even if they are engaged in politicking... at least they are helping. The others who engage in politics do not help in any way at all." — Julie Javellana-Santos, abs-cbnNEWS.com

source: business world online.com