Sunday, December 31, 2006

Video Of Saddam Hussein Hanging

The complete execution of Saddam Hussein was captured by mobile phone and has appeared on numerous video platforms. An eyewitness documented in graphic details the death of the former dictator.
Saddam is shown falling trough the trap door with the noose around his neck and hanging there for several seconds. The clip ends with a close-up of the dead man´s face. (liveleak.com)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

GMA Mourns Death Of Ex-American President Gerald Ford

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has conveyed her and the Filipino people’s condolences to the family of former United States President Gerald Ford who died Dec. 26 at the age of 93.

"On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of the Philippines, I wish to convey my most heartfelt condolences over the passing of your husband, former President Gerald R. Ford," President Arroyo said in a letter to former US First Lady Betty Ford.

President Arroyo said the "Filipino nation will always remember the late President not only as a true friend of the Philippines, but as a dedicated leader who led the country (the United States) through a challenging period of transition for all Americans."

Ford became the 38th US president after the resignation in August 1974 of then President Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.

In her letter to the former US First Lady, President Arroyo noted that "it was through President Ford’s quiet and dignified leadership that the United States once again gathered the vigor and determination to serve as an inspiration for all freedom-loving peoples of the world."

"Our prayers are with you and your family in this most difficult of times," the Chief Executive told Mrs. Ford.
US EMBASSY IN MANILA, CONSULAR AGENCY IN CEBU, CLOSED ON JANUARY 2, 2007 FOR NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING IN HONOR OF PRESIDENT GERALD FORD

President George W. Bush has declared Tuesday, January 2, 2007 as a National Day of Mourning in honor of the memory of President Gerald R. Ford, who passed away on December 26, 2006.

All U.S. Government Departments and Agencies will be closed that day as a mark of respect for the memory of President Ford.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila and the U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu will be closed for business on Tuesday, January 2. All interviews for U.S. scheduled for Tuesday, January 2 will be re-scheduled on Wednesday, January 3.
The U.S. Embassy is contacting all applicants to inform them of the change.

President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life to serving his country. He was also a strong supporter of U.S.-Philippines relations, and served in the U.S. Navy in support of the landings in Leyte and Mindoro during World War WII.
He visited the Philippines as President in December 1975.

Funeral and memorial services for President Ford are taking place from December 29 through January 3. The United States is honored and delighted to host Vice President Noli de Castro, who will represent the Philippines at President Ford's funeral.

U.S. Military Gets Back Custody Of Convicted Marine In Philippines

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Dec) – The U.S. Embassy in Manila said convicted American soldier Lance Corporal Daniel Smith has been transferred from the Makati City Jail back to U.S. military custody.

It said the transfer of Smith to U.S. authority is consistent with the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), an international bilateral agreement that is binding on both the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.

A local court ordered the U.S. Marine locked up in Makati City jail after he was found guilty December 4 of raping a Filipino woman last year at the Subic. Bay Freeport in Olongapo City.

Judge Benjamin Pozon, of the Makati Regional Trial Court, previously denied a petition by Smith’s lawyers to transfer him to the U.S. Embassy while they are still appealing the case.

Smith, 21, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.


U.S. officials said Article V, Paragraph 6 of the Visiting Forces Agreement specifies: “That custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with the United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.”

They said that Smith is not a private citizen, and therefore the handling of his case is subject to the terms of the VFA.

“Lance Corporal Smith will now return to U.S. military custody in the same facility at the U.S. Embassy which he was previously held for the duration of the trial,” a U.S. Embassy statement said.

“The U.S. Government has complied throughout this case with the provisions of the VFA, which provides the framework for U.S.-Philippines cooperation on legal cases involving U.S. service members. We will continue to adhere to the provisions of the VFA in coordination with the relevant Philippine authorities,” it said.

Filipino government officials took away Smith from the Makati City jail late Friday and handed over to the U.S. Embassy. The woman raped by Smith and militant and women’s groups supporting her were angered by the move and vowed to launch street protests and file charges in court against the Philippine officials.

The U.S. military earlier suspended all joint military exercises scheduled for next year because of the court’s refusal to hand over Smith to the Embassy. (Mindanao Examiner)

Zamboanga's Poor Get Rice, Groceries From Sulu Sultan



ZAMBOANGA CITY (Samuel Tanjil / 30 Dec) - The influential Sultan of Sulu, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, distributed rice and grocery packs to more than 300 mostly poor families in Zamboanga City.
Pulalun visited the village of Lumbangan just recently and handed rice and groceries to some 100 families.

Most of those who received the packs were garbage diggers and scavengers.

"We are grateful to Sultan Pulalun, who, despite being a Muslim, came here in this dirty place to distribute gifts to Christians. May God bless him more so he can help more poor people like us," an old woman, whom everybody called Lola, said.

It was the first time that the Sultan visited the garbage dump and spoke to the poor. He promised them more aid. "These people are poor. look at them, children and women and old men are digging for scraps when they should be together and resting in their house because of the holiday season."

"We will find some ways to help them, especially these poor children. The Sultanate of Sulu Foundation will find a way to bring more aid to this place and other poor Muslim areas in Sulu," Sultan Pulalun said.

One woman, Jacqueline, said her eleven-year old son is suffering from renal disease and appealed to the Sultan for help. "I hope he can help us. We need medicines for my boy," she said, sobbing in between sentences.

From Lumbangan, the Sultan proceeded to Camino Nuevo where he also distributed rice and groceries to about 90 head of families, who were victims of recent fires in Zamboanga.

The Sultan together with village leader Antonio Deles and council member Inday Bunal knocked on doors and handed rice and food bags to poor Christian and Muslim families. "We are lucky that Sultan Pulalun came over and distributed rice and groceries to these poor people," Deles said.

Sultan Pulalun also distributed rice and canned goods to more than 100 poor families in Canelar and met with Rolly Samson, the village chieftain.

"We can't find words to express our gratitude to the good Sultan Pulalun. We pray that Allah give him more blessings so he can continue helping the less fortunate," Samson said.

The Sultan said he will continue helping not only poor Muslims, but needy Christians and indigenous people also. "As long as I live, I will continue this long time tradition that my great, great grandfather, Sultan Mohammad Pulalun, had started. The same tradition continues and now, I also tell my son, Sharif Almunir, to continue this humble legacy," he said.

The 15-year old Sharif Almunir is the heir to the Pulalun throne.


Reference: Sammy Tanjil, spokesman for Sultan Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, Sultanate of Sulu
Mobile: +63921 6641644
E-mail:
sultanpulalun@gmail.com
URL:
sultanateofsulu.org / sultanofsulu.com
Vincent Brossel
Asia - Pacific Desk
Reporters Sans Frontières
5 rue Geoffroy Marie 75009 Paris
33 1 44 83 84 70
33 1 45 23 11 51 (fax)
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s New Year message

We started 2006 with a pay hike for government workers and we will end it with a vow to do it again next year.As soon as Congress comes back from its holiday furlough, I will be sending up a bill that will seek to grant an average 10-percent increase in the base pay of government employees effective July 2007.

This bill governs the usage of the P10.3 billion which we have set aside as the first installment of a merit-based, performance-driven compensation reform package for public sector workers.

I am asking Congress to cap its impressive run of legislation with the passage of this important bill. And come July, when the next legislature convenes, I will stand before our legislators to plead for the speedy passage of the third edition of the Salary Standardization Law, one that will not only increase the pay of state workers but boost the productivity of government as well.

The Secretary of Budget and Management will submit these bills to Congress, which will include our uniformed men and women in these pay increases.

These measures distill inputs from the field, best managerial practices, performance benchmarks and projected revenue streams of the government, all with the interest of the public in mind. When we embarked on our mission to put our fiscal house in order, we asked government workers to share the burden of the people.

Now that we have turned the corner, it is time for their share of the social payback of economic reforms.

OPINION: “OUR SOLITARY BOAST” by Juan L. Mercado

(New Year’s Day is more than just firecrackers, horn-tooting and booze swiggling. It is also about a Jewish mother, revered over the centuries, by Muslims and Christians alike. And the column is about this Lady, who is specially honored on January 1 – Juan L Mercado)

Time magazine titled a recent cover story “Hail, Mary”. It devotes eight pages to Jesus of Nazareth’s mother. “A Mary for All” was how the Economist bannered an earlier report. Life magazine led off with: “The Mystery of Mary”. And shortly thereafter, Time did a two-page spread: “Mary, So Contrary.”

What’s going on here?

After centuries of “sullen neglect… Christians of all denominations are finding their own reasons to venerate Mary”, Time reports. Families, pastors and theologians, notably within U.S. Protestant churches, are re-discovering the Virgin.

Harvard University minister Peter Gomes pinpoints this trend in a joke about a Protestant pastor at heaven’s gates. “Ah, Professor, I know you’ve met my Father,” Jesus says in making the introductions. “But I believe you don’t know my mother.”

New appreciation of Mary stems from the very arena in which Protestants historically pride themselves most: careful and full reading of Scriptures.

Mary stood by the Cross. And she figures in “a skein of appearances longer and more strategically placed than any other character in scriptures”, Princeton University professor of New Testament literature, Beverly Gaventa, points out.

“She is present in all key situations: at Jesus birth, at his death and in the Upper Room,” Gaventa writes in “Personalities of the New Testament”. Whether in Egypt, Nazareth or Cana, “there isn’t a figure comparable to her”.

The new thinkers are exploring the implications of Mary’s excruciating presence at the crucifixion. “(She) witnesses almost single handedly Christianity through its darkest moment.”
There are critics, Time notes. Southern Baptists Convention leaders complain their colleagues are “guilty of over-reaching”.

That would baffle Muslims. Mary is Islam’s most honored woman, the Economist notes. “(She’s) the only one to have an entire chapter named after her in the Koran. Christians and Muslims alike see in Mary an affirmation that there is no limit to proximity of God that any human can attain,” the report asserts. “Surely, that is reason enough, for people of any faith, to feel reverence for history’s foremost Jewish mother.”

The Economist cites the “wisdom” texts in Jewish and Christian scriptures and the Eastern Church’s lesser-known Gospel by James. It reviews studies by Methodists Hebrew scholar Margaret Barker to Jaime Moran, religion and psychology writer.

Muslim and eastern Christians “cherish the story of Mary’s childhood in a place of supreme holiness. Both name Mary’s guardian as the priest Zechariah or Zakariya.”

“Catholics would tell you, rather firmly, that Mary is not a goddess,” the Economist notes. “She is not worshipped but rather venerated: a human being with a unique role in praying for and protecting the human race.” That hews closely to Muslim belief too.

The wisdom texts speak of a “woman clothed with the sun”. And down the centuries, “heart-stopping turns of phrase” have been applied to Mary, the Economist notes. “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast” was the way one poet put it.

“Shortly after Vatican II, a period of Marian silence descended,” recalls Catalino Arevalo, SJ, of Ateneo University. “We, in the Philippines, did not go through that phase.”

“Churches in former communist Eastern Europe have not experienced the ‘eclipse of Mary’ either,” notes this Filipino theologian. “What strikes a mainland China visitor, who gets in contact with Catholics there, is that veneration of Mary has never been stronger.”

That “Marian silence” and “de-christianization” of Europe led the German theologian Karl Rahner to write: “Many Catholics today are going through a winter of belief.”

Once known as “Christendom” Europe built the Continent’s loveliest cathedrals from Chartres to Notre Dame. Now, Europe suffers from a “vacuum of faith”, Los Angeles Times notes. The Gallup Millennium Survey reveals barely 20 percent of West Europeans attend church services once a week.

“When the new springtime of faith comes…the cult of Mary the Mother of God, will return,” Rahner added. “In fact, it will be its surest sign. Its form may perhaps be different, but if Christian tradition is valid, it will return.”

That was in 1968. Today, Rahner’s comments resound in essays by, among others, Lutheran Carl Braten: “I can’t predict exactly how the (Mary re-discovery) will happen. Some of it will be good, and some may be bad. But I think it’s going to happen”.

Some 38 years after Rahner wrote of this “second spring”, Father Arevalo notes, “this appears a remarkably prophetic text”.

This comeback of Our Lady is seen on the dateline of stories from new Marian shrines: Medjugorje in Yugoslavia; Akita in Japan; Kibeho in Rwanda and Cuenca in Ecuador. “News accounts fueled renewed interest in the Marian movement.”

Then, there was Pope John Paul II. “No pontiff in the entire history of Catholicism has had so strong and articulates a devotion to Mary.” He willed that her logo be carved on his plain cedar coffin.

If Karl Rahner was right, then perhaps the current cover stories may be more significant than they appear, Fr Arevalo says. Are they buds of the “the new springtime of faith,” which, Rahner foresaw, “is about to begin”?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Abu Sayyaf And Khadaffy Janjalani

By Zachary Abuza

Yesterday the Philippine military announced that the body of Abu Sayyaf chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani, had been found buried in the jungles outside of Kabuntakas village in Patikul town, on Jolo Island, an ASG stronghold off south-western Mindanao.

The exhumed body is now undergoing DNA testing. There have been a number of occasions that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has asserted that it had killed a member of the ASG or Jemaah Islamiyah, only to later retract it. If this assertion is true, then it is a very important break in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Janjalani is the younger brother of the group’s founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, an associate of Osama bin Laden’s, who was killed in 1998.

He had worked assiduously since 2002 to bring the group back into the jihadi fold. Since early 2004, the group has shunned its high profile and lucrative kidnappings of foreigners and adopted a campaign of bombings. The most infamous case was the February 2004 bombing of the SuperFerry that killed over 100 people.

It launched the Valentine’s Day bombings across three cities in February 2005 and a host of smaller bombings in Mindanao in 2005-06. Starting in 2002, JI reached out to the ASG and began training with them in MILF camps in Mindanao. In November 2005 the MILF forced Janjalani and the two most radioactive of the JI members out of their territory and they retreated to Jolo.

A show of force of ASG in Indanan town in central Jolo in July 2006 led to the current offensive.The 31 year-old Janjalani has been on the US Government’s most wanted terrorist list since 2001 and has a $5 million bounty on his head for his role in the 2000 and 2001 kidnappings that led to the death of several American nationals.

The (AFP) launched Operation Ultimatum in early August 2006 to finish off some 120-200 militants under Janjalani’s control. In addition, they are thought to be accompanied by six members of Jemaah Islamiyah including the two Bali bombers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek. To date there are well over 7,500 AFP in Jolo.

They are assisted by a small number of US Special Forces who have been training and providing their AFP counterparts with critically needed intelligence. The AFP claims to have lost nearly 20 soldiers and marines, and another 90 wounded in the campaign.

The AFP estimated that some 50 rebels had been killed though only 13 bodies had been found. At one point the AFP claimed that 80 rebels had been killed.

The terrain is very mountainous and covered in a dense jungle canopy. Since August, there have been some successes. In Early September the AFP claimed that Janjalani and Umar Patek had been wounded in the fighting, though offered no proof.

The AFP discovered a bomb factory and seized almost 6,000 blasting caps, ten sacks of ammonium nitrate and other bomb-making materials. They also captured Dulmatin's wife Istiada Oemar Sovie, and two of his children, which led to retaliatory bombings in October 2006.

There were other seizures of explosives, and at least four ASG members who were involved in the 2000 and 2001 hostage taking events in the Philippines and Malaysia were arrested. Amongst the most important arrests was of Uktud Bayro in late October. Bayro, who was based on Tawi Tawi, was a key logistician in getting Indonesians and Malaysian members of JI in and out of Mindanao and Jolo.

Even with Janjalani eliminated, there are still a number of ASG leaders at large.
They include:

• Jainal Antel Sali Jr. @ Abu Soliaman
• Isnilon Hapilon @ Salahuddin
• Radullan Sahiron @ Commander Putol
• Osman aka Usman @ Rizal
• Abu Jumdail @ Dr. Abu
• Albader Parad
• Wahab Opao @ Abu Fatima
• Jundam Jamalul @ Black Killer
• Borhan Mundus
• Ustadz Hatta Haipe
• Jeqi @ Zaqqi
• Suhod Tanadjalan @ Commander SuhodJainal Antel Sali (Abu Soliaman), Isnilon Hapilon, and Radullan Sahiron (Commander Putol) are thought to be the three most important leaders. One Philippine press outlet has already reported that Radullan Sahiron had been elected to take over the ASG.

Previously, there were unconfirmed reports that Isnilon Hapilon had returned to the nearby island of Basilan. Little is known about the inner dynamics of the ASG.

The ASG is not a cohesive organization with a clear command and control. The various commanders have significant autonomy, though they have displayed the capacity to coordinate activities and operations. While the death of Janjalani would be an important morale booster to the Philippine armed forces, it alone will not lead to the end of the ASG, which will continue to be a low-level threat to Philippine security.


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

2 Injured In New Bombing In South RP

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Dec) – Two people were injured in an explosion inside a shopping mall Thursday in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat, authorities said.

Authorities said the afternoon blast at the Kensan Mall in Tacurong City was the second in three months to hit Sultan Kudarat, where rebel groups and extortion syndicates are actively operating.

Six people were also killed and dozens injured in a string of bomb attacks in Tacurong blamed by the police and military to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya and other criminal groups.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack. Police did not say what type of explosive was used in the Kensan bombing.(Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine Combat Copter Crashes In Zambo

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Dec) - A Philippine Air Force helicopter crashed Thursday while landing at the Zamboanga International Airport in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the two unnamed pilots survived the crash, but the accident briefly stalled airport operations. "The pilots are okay and the chopper was removed from the runway and the airport operation is now back to normal," said Supt. Ybar Padao, chief of the airport security.

The helicopter, an MG-520, crashed at around 8.45 a.m., he said.

Padao did not say the cause of the crash, whether it was pilot or error or mechanical failure, but the chopper was on a routine flight when it plunged. Radio reports quoted unnamed airport sources said that one of the pilot was a woman, assigned with the Philippine Air Force's Edwin Andrews Air Base here.

Local pilots usually fly their air crafts in the morning as part of a routine maintenance. The small MG-520, equipped with rocket launchers on both side and machine gun on its nose, is often used in anti-insurgency operation in the southern Philippines. It was part of a security package that came from the United States. (Mindanao Examiner)

RP Soldiers Dig Body Of Top Terror Leader Killed In Jolo Island

MANILA (Mindanao Examienr / 27 Dec) - Philippine soldiers dug up a decomposing body believed to be that of a top terror leader linked to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya who was killed in fighting in the southern island of Jolo, officials said.

Officials said body of Khadaffy Janjalani, leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, was exhumed Wednesday from a shallow grave. A civilian informant led troops at the gravesite in the hinterlands of Kabontakas village in Patikul town, said Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippine said.

"We cannot confirm whether it was really Janjalani or not, except for the words of the informant. We have ordered DNA testing to confirm if the body really belongs to Janjalani," he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Bacarro said U.S. and Philippine authorities were conducting the DNA test.
Janjalani was believed killed in September in clashes with soldiers.(Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Photo: Filipino Girl Shakes Hands With U.S. Commander


After receiving gifts from Santa, a young girl shakes the hand of Col. David Maxwell, commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines at the Dangpanan Sa Kabataan Center as Iligan City Mayor Laurence Lluch looks on. Santa was played by Master Sgt. Oster Manongsong, Chief Administrative NCO, of the Philippines’ 8th Marine Battalion Landing Team, during "Operation Santa Claus," which included a visit to an orphanage and the Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital. (Photo by Sgt. Tim Meyer, Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines Public Affairs.)

Commie Killed In Clash In South RP

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Dec) – Troops shot dead a member of the communist rebel group New People’s Army in a clash Tuesday in the southern Philippines, the military said.

The fighting erupted in the town called Monkayo in Compostela Valley province, a known rebel stronghold in the troubled region.

The military said the soldiers were patrolling when they spotted a group of armed rebels and a firefight ensued.

The clash occurred just a day after a government unilateral truce ended. The NPA celebrated the 38th founding anniversary of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The CPP said it was stepping up recruitment of fighters to carry out fresh offensive against government targets.

"We must expand and intensify the tactical offensives of the people's army against the enemy. We must seize more arms from the enemy in order to form more platoons of the New People's Army and build more guerrilla fronts," the CPP said Tuesday.

"We must strive to advance from the early to the middle phase of the strategic defensive by multiplying the platoons and the guerrilla fronts, and improving command at the levels of the region and guerrilla fronts."

It called for the recruitment of tens of thousands of new members, emphasizing its importance in advancing the level of revolutionary struggle. And to take advantage of the intensifying struggles to expand its ranks.

"The intense and widespread armed and legal forms of struggle are providing a continuous flow of fresh highly motivated and militant Party recruits," it said.

Rebel leaders broke off peace talks with the Filipino government two years ago after the United States listed the CPP and its political wing the National Democratic Front and NPA as foreign terrorist groups on Manila’s prodding.

The NPA has been fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Kapitolyo Ng Cebu, Sunog!

CEBU CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Dec) – Limang gusali sa Cebu Provincial Capitol compound ang nasunog matapos na umano'y magliyab ang loob ng tanggapan ng Capitol Security Unit sa ikalawang palapag.

Ayon sa Bureau of Fire ay nagsimula ang sunog dakong 1.30 ng madaling araw ng Martes at kumalat ito sa iba pang mga tanggapan. Kabilang sa mga natupok ng apoy ay ang mga tanggapan ng Vice Mayor's League, isang cooperative ng Cebu Court of First Instance, General Services Office, Cebu Provincial Planning and Development Office at ang Philippine Information Agency.

Patuloy ang imbestigasyon sa sunog ngunit malaki ang hinala ng Bureau of Fire na posibleng faulty electrical wiring ang dahilan nito. Ngunit sinisipat rin ng mga awtoridad kung sinadya ang sunog upang pagtakpan ang anumang katiwalian sa mga tanggapan.

Nasunog rin umano ang bahagi ng tanggapan ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines, ayon sa isang bumbero. Hindi pa mabatid kung magkano ang pinsala sa sunog, ngunit tinatayang aabot ito sa mahigit P10 milyon.

Walang inulat na nasawi o sugatan sa sunog sa Cebu, subalit sa lungsod ng Ormoc ay 24 na katao ang kumpirmadong patay matapos na sumabog ang isang pagawaan ng paputok sa kaarawan ng Pasko.

Nasunog rin ang katabing department store nito kung kaya't na-trap umano ang maraming tao.Tinanggka pa ng mga ibang tumakas sa banyo ngunit nabigo ang mga ito.

Mahigit sa isang dosena rin ang nasaktan at nasunog ang katawan at ngayon ay nasa dalawang pagamutan sa Ormoc. (Mindanao Examiner)

CPP Steps Up Recruitment To Carry Fresh Offensive In RP

PAMPANGA (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Dec) – The outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it was stepping up recruitment of fighters to carry out fresh offensive against government targets.

"We must expand and intensify the tactical offensives of the people's army against the enemy. We must seize more arms from the enemy in order to form more platoons of the New People's Army and build more guerrilla fronts," the CPP said during its 38th founding anniversary Tuesday.

"We must strive to advance from the early to the middle phase of the strategic defensive by multiplying the platoons and the guerrilla fronts, and improving command at the levels of the region and guerrilla fronts."

It called for the recruitment of tens of thousands of new members, emphasizing its importance in advancing the level of revolutionary struggle. And to take advantage of the intensifying struggles to expand its ranks.

"The intense and widespread armed and legal forms of struggle are providing a continuous flow of fresh highly motivated and militant Party recruits," it said.

The NPA, armed wing of the CPP, is fighting the past three decades to topple the government and install a Maoist state in the country.

Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels collapsed following the pullout of the National Democratic Front (NDF) from the talks due to its inclusion in the terror lists of the United States and the European Union.

Rebel leaders demanded that Manila asks the United States and the European Union to strike them off from the terror lists before they resume peace talks. (Mi
ndanao Examiner)

Monday, December 25, 2006

OPINION: POST CHRISTMAS "BURPS" by Juan L. Mercado

POST CHRISTMAS "BURPS" by Juan L. Mercado

Amidst the litter of a Noche Buena dinner table, empty bottles and ripped gift wrappers, the guest burped: "Christmas is indigestion". Want another viewpoint? Try walking, on Christmas morning, through the children’s charity ward of a government hospital. The wife and I did.

Star lanterns and wreaths deck "Pediatrics" at the Cebu City Medical Center. But it's a different universe of match-stick limbs, emaciated features and whimpers. Each of the over 30 beds are crammed with two ill kids each – plus an anxious parent or sleepless watcher squeezed in between.

Like other fund-short and over-crowded public hospitals, CCMC serves the poorest. Patients limp in from dengue-infested slums where clean water, unlike shabu, is hard to come by. Others come from hunger-strapped barangays. This ward reminds one of what the deaf and sightless educator Helen Keller (1880-1968) once said: "The only really blind person on Christmas day is he who does not have Christmas in his heart."

Half of Bed 19 is occupied by a skin-and-bones infant, attached to an IV tube. Even the untrained eye can see the kid may not pull through. The mother grips a stack of heavily-creased prescription slips for urgently needed medicines. But the hospital pharmacy is perennially short of drugs. And she has exactly twenty pesos.

Across the aisle, the other half of Bed 8 has a four year old boy, down with pneumonia. He needs anti-biotic. "He hasn't gotten a single injection," the distraught father, a jobless laborer, explains. The little money we share with patients in Beds 19 and 8 is all we have, we explain to five others who desperately cluster around.

Yet, this is a country with of persons with great wealth. "If you know how rich you are, you are not rich," Imelda Marcos once said. "But me, I am not aware of the extent of my wealth. That's how rich we are." But our definitions of what is “necessary” are changing, says an earlier UNDP Human Development Report. "Distinction between what is luxuries and necessities is blurring." Is Viagra a necessity while anti-biotic turns into a luxury? What is human can be overwhelmed by appetites not shaped by the Christmas vision….

But "trend is not destiny". It is also possible to correct. Our distorted priorities which cause food, medicine, supplies, and even human warmth, to perennially run short. "There is enough for man's needs," Mahatma Gandhi pointed out. "But there is never enough for his greed."

A Christmas morning visit gives a "human face" to sawdust-dry data you've glanced at, between Inquirer deadlines. In infants, up to two years of age, anemia "continued to increase and is alarmingly high" (53 percent) the 6th National Nutrition Survey says – a study crippled by congressional fund cuts. Out of every ten infants, six months to one year old, six suffered from debilitating anemia.

Most of these kids are here because they lack what we take for granted: three square meals a day, clean water, a roof over our heads, schools -- even reserved plots in grass trimmed memorial cemeteries. Our children are routinely vaccinated against TB, measles, hepatitis, etc. and have orthodontists squeeze in "tin-grin" braces. Can the Christmas manager teach them to share with those who lose out in this "ovarian lottery"?

Stemming from poverty, chronic hunger unleashes anemia among pregnant and breast-feeding mothers. Almost half (44 percent) of women, on the family way, are anemic, the nutrition survey found. So, are 4 out of every 10 who breastfed. You saw them in Bed Nos. 11 and 18.

"Four times now, I've poured the water of emergency baptism on dying kids in Pediatrics, I wrote in August 1988.”I'm afraid they'll not be the last." Yesterday, a mother, by Bed No. 14, urgently tagged at my sleeve: "Please, sir. My child is very ill". Ego te baptizo….Her son was the fifth.

"Like runners, generations pass on the torch of life," Lucretius once wrote. But they also hand on the frailities. Lack of Vitamin A, iron and iodine, in mothers, saps intelligence quotients of the babies in their wombs or suckling at their breasts. IQs of poorly nourished children can be whittled down by 10 to 14 percent says the Asian Development Bank. "Cognitive loss" is 10 percent for stunted individuals and "4 percent for iodine deficient victims". Worse, that loss can not be recovered. It is irreversible.

Reduced mental capacity is not visible. So, it rarely trigger alarm bells but doors in the future slam shut for children as their learning capacities are stunted. "Their elevators don't go all the way to the top floor," the wry comment goes. But it's no laughing matter when our kids come in 37th, out of 38 countries that signed up for the International Mathematics and Science Examinations?

Exiting from "Pediatrics" into the Christmas morning sunlight, we recalled an earlier visit where we chanced across an almost totally-blind girl, singing softly to herself. She was all of five – too young to sing "of old unhappy far off things and battles long ago." Early treatment could have saved her sight, the emaciated mother explained.

But somehow, they could never scrape up enough coins for the jeepney fare to bring her to the hospital. One eye had given way; now, the second was now in danger of going.

"Christmas is the day that holds all time together", Alexander Smith writes. It also helps lift our eyes to see beyond our narrow lives. For nothing is more pathetic than those unable to see the difference between pebbles and diamonds. (We are happy to announce that Mr. Juan Mercado accepted our invitation to write for the Mindanao Examiner. He also writes for the Bohol Chronicle and many other reputable newspapers in the Philippines. Ed)

White Christmas For Zamboanga's Poor

Poor children pose for photograph 24 December 2006 in Zamboanga City's Rio Hondo village.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Al Jacinto / 25 Dec) - It’s been a year now, but nothing has change in Lumbangan. It is a village, about 10 kms east of Zamboanga City, where the government garbage dump is located.

As in the previous Christmas Eve, scavengers - men and women and children too - are so busy digging for scraps. Nothing has change, except the poor people in the village are more desperate for food and shelters, and education for the children too.

And the situation is worse than it was a year ago. Today, scavengers complain that government security guards are scaring them away to protect the interests of unscrupulous junk dealers who are cornering the garbage business in the village.

Children, some as young as three years old are already picking rubbish, helping their family earn a living. There was no help from politicians, not even on Christmas day, scavengers say.

The cycle goes on every year. And the same story is told to us every Christmas eve.

Young scavengers wait for Santa to come, but he never showed up, they say. Santa - to many of the scavengers - are the people they voted to serve them. “They never came here, never. There is no help from them,” says Felicito, whose son and wife also help him dig for scraps.

On Christmas Eve, we decided to distribute books to children right at the garbage depot.

The books, about two boxes of them, were donated to the Mindanao Examiner by The Asia Foundation after we told them about the situation in Lumbangan. It was the second batch of books given to the village. The Lumbangan Elementary School also got books this year from The Asia Foundation.

We also gave out bread and small amount to each of the more than 100 children and adults too.

An old woman they call Lola (granny) cried to us as she tells her story and hardship of raising a poor family by digging for scraps on mountains of garbage in the village of Lumbangan.

“There is no one to help us. Please help us and tell the whole world that we need food and shelter and education for our poor children,” Lola says.

Another woman, Jacqueline, begged for help and money for her eleven-year old boy who is suffering from renal disease. “My boy comes and goes to hospital. We don’t even have money to pay for the jeep that will bring us to hospital,” she tells me.

Christopher Navarra, a video editor of the Manila-based Monad Studio, our partner, broke into tears. “It’s hard man, life is hard,” he whispers.

His assistant, Hader Glang, a freelance video man, is also witness to the difficulty of every people digging for trash in Lumbangan.

They were lucky because aside from us, a Muslim man they call the Sultan of Sulu, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, also visited the garbage depot for the first time since he was proclaimed in 2004.

The 50-year old Sultan Pulalun distributed rice and canned sardines and noodles and promised to bring more. He later distributed more rice to victims of two huge fires in the villages of Camino Nuevo and Canelar.

From Lumbangan, The Mindanao Examiner team headed to a slum area where we distributed some 400 packs of Trust and Frenzy condoms to men at the tough neighborhood. It was all over in 10 minutes.

The condoms were donated to us by Aida Masuhod of the Family Planning Office of the Philippines in Zamboanga City.

The Mindanao Examiner, led by our publisher, Maritess Fernandez, went to Rio Hondo, a poor Muslim enclave, to give to children 75 packs of steamed rice and halal chicken adobo (cooked in soy sauce and vinegar, virgin olive oil with lots of onion and garlic).

Thanks to Swift Foods Inc. for the chickens. A village councilman Alibbon Asakil and his wife helped us in the distribution of the meal and it was over in half an hour. It was not enough, so we went to the nearest store and bought 100 kilos of premium rice and gave out one kilo for each poor family.

It was the first time, villagers say, that they received food and rice from a private group. Not even politicians go and visit them, according to Usman Ibrahim, a fisherman.

“They don’t like poor Muslims. We are discriminated and they are also afraid to come here and see our poor situation in Rio Hondo and Mariqui (villages). We don’t even have water and electricity, not even a descent health center,” he says.

The Mindanao Examiner and our international partner, the California-based L.A.-Zamboanga Times and its chief editor John Shinn; and the Monad Studio wanted to help more poor people, but we are only small players here.
We hope that more private individuals and civic groups, NGOs and other countries would be able to help the poor of Mindanao, especially the Muslims who are most neglected in this part of the country.

Nagpapasalamat rin ang Mindanao Examiner sa lahat ng mga taong tumulong sa amin upang mapaligaya ang halos 250 mahihirap na Pilipino sa lungsod ng Zamboanga.

Nais rin naming pasalamatan ang mga sumusunod: Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, ng Sultanate of Sulu; Swift Foods Inc.; Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils; Asia Foundation, Cecille's Pharmacy; Flavorite; Village de Zamboanga; Aida Masuhud ng Family Planning Office of the Philippines at mga miyembro ng Peace and Conflict Journalism Network o PECOJON.

Maraming pong salamat sa lahat ng mga sumusuporta at patuloy na tumatangkilik sa Mindanao examiner. Mabuhay!

Christmas In Mindanao


An unidentified scavenger stands dangerously close to a bulldozer at the edge of a mountain of rubbish 24 December 2006 in the government garbage depot in Lumbangan village, about 10 kms east of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Hundreds of scavengers, including women and children, some as young as three years old, dig for scraps in the village. They complain about the lack of livelihood opportunities for the poor and government support for their children's education. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Dec) – For many people in Mindanao, Christmas is just one ordinary day. They go hungry just the same, but despite the poverty situation in many parts of the island, south of the Philippines, Filipinos expected a happy Christmas.

According to the survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), three out of five or 62 percent of Filipinos expected a happy Christmas. Most Filipinos also say they are thankful that they are still alive and have good health. The survey was conducted last November 24 to 29 with 1,200 respondents.

But not all news is good. The SWS says expectations of a happy Christmas are down from a high of 82 percent in 2002 to 77 percent in 2003 to 64 percent in 2004 and 62 percent in 2005, the same as this year. The number of those anticipating a happy Christmas has been declining in all areas since 2002.

In Zamboanga City, many of the poor say they slept without food on the table on Christmas Eve. “We slept hungry and we woke up hungry also. Christmas is just an ordinary day. For people like us, who needs a celebration? We are worried on how we are going to survive this harsh life,” says the 38-year old Joel Quimpo, who lives near the government garbage depot in the village of Lumbangan.

The village, about 10 kilometers east of Zamboanga City, is dump for tons of garbage that could be anything from a harmless piece of rubber ducky to more toxic materials, such as computer and television parts and even bottles of poisonous pesticide and expired food products.

Quimpo says: “Many of us garbage diggers feel hopeless by this situation and there is no help either from the government or the politicians. It’s good that few people who have kind heart still come here once in a while and give us little help, but our children need education for them to have a good future.”

Hundreds of people, many women and children, brave the heat in search for scrap.The area is a paradise for many jobless people in the village, but it is equally as dangerous and unhealthy, and many scavengers are suffering from respiratory diseases.

Last Christmas Eve, many had waited for Santa Claus to arrive at the dump site, but there was no sign of him. It is Christmas again and another year will soon come to pass, but Santa did not show up for the children who waited for him to visit. That Santa was not the great gift-giver from North Pole, but local politicians the villagers call their own Santa Claus.

On Christmas Eve, the Sultan of Sulu Archipelago, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Muhammad Pulalun, came unannounced at the garbage depot and distributed rice and food. “We are just helping the poor here, whether they are Christians or Muslims,” the Sultan tells the Mindanao Examiner.

While many of Zamboanga’s poor say they are unhappy, the sane was the situation in the Muslim autonomous region. Many in the region’s five provinces complain about the lack of government projects and livelihood opportunities for Mindanao’s 4 million Muslims.

But Mindanao is also home to about 13 million Christians and most of them are also without jobs.

President Gloria Arroyo, in her Christmas message, promised more jobs to fight poverty. “This is our mission: to build prosperity for the greatest number of our people,” she says.

While many people in Mindanao suffer in poverty, in contrast, many Filipino and foreign holiday-makers in the central Filipino province of Cebu celebrated Christmas in lavish styles – partying in posh hotels and spend Christmas in beaches like Boracay Island and El Nido Lagen Island, the most luxurious resort in Palawan Island.

According to Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye, with the economy on a roll, Filipinos have every reason to be upbeat not only this Christmas but in 2007.

Bunye says that the "markets have been surging to record highs, investments are up, the purchasing power of the pesos is steady and all indicators support a bullish 2007."

He says the Filipinos have witnessed the government's decisive action to "move the economy to bear social fruit in terms of better-paying jobs, enhanced social services and a reduced incidence of hunger and poverty."

"Good governance and the people's enterprise are making things happen in the Philippines," he says. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Troops Alerted Over Recovery Of "Motorcycle Bomb" In Mindanao

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Dec) – The Philippine military on Sunday raised the alert in the southern region of Mindanao after troops discovered a motorcycle laden with explosives near a government checkpoint.

A military report said the bike’s gas tank was filled with explosives when troops discovered it parked Saturday near their checkpoint in Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat province, where the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya bombers were known to previously operate.

Military bomb experts also found picric acid inside the gas tank, which was rigged to an electronic timer and a blasting cap.
Picric acid is a poisonous, explosive yellow crystalline solid used in explosives, dyes, and antiseptics.

Aside from the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and communist rebels were also operating in Sultan Kudarat.

“We have alerted our soldiers about this discovery,” the Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon, said by phone from Manila.

On Thursday, President Gloria Arroyo approved a four-day unilateral Christmas truce in military offensive against the communist New People’s Army (NPA), but the military ordered soldiers to remain in alert for threats of attacks against civilian targets across the country during the holiday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines recommended the cease-fire as a yuletide gesture. The truce took effect Sunday until Monday and December 31 to January 1.
Government forces remain in alert for possible attacks by other rebel groups or the Abu Sayyaf, which had been blamed for the spate of terrorism in troubled Mindanao.

Troops were tracking down Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani and two Jemaah Islamiya bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who were believed hiding in the southern Philippines.
(Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

An Open Letter To President Gloria Arroyo

Open letter to the Philippines' President: Act now to dismantle culture of impunity

Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines

Email: opnet@ops.gov.ph

Dear President Arroyo,

On December 20, Laoag City radio broadcaster Andres "Andy" Acosta was stabbed to death in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Acosta's brutal murder now brings the total up to 48 journalists killed since you came to power in 2001.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), as the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, implores you to take immediate action and put an end to the senseless bloodshed, and ensure those responsible for these deaths are brought to justice.

According to IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), a police official interviewed on radio station dzBB said the Acosta's murder was most likely related to Acosta's "line of work".

Acosta reportedly worked for Laoag radio station dzJC Aksyon Radyo (Action Radio), an affiliate of the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC). It is the same station where Roger Mariano, a broadcaster killed on July 31, 2004, worked.

The 12th journalist killed this year, Acosta's murder adds to an already appalling record and sends a strong message to the world that your administration does not place any value in the lives of journalists or in an independent media and informed public.

What is even more terrifying about these figures is that the perpetrators of these brutal crimes remain unpunished, and despite the establishment of the Melo Commission, journalist killers still walk free, while journalists continue to be fatally silenced.

The NUJP's tireless efforts, including their latest information campaign for journalists safety - "20 steps to safety", in campaigning for a free and safe media, while admirable, also highlights the terrible reality for journalists in the Philippines.

The IFJ echoes the NUJP's calls for your government to act now to end the culture of impunity and show the world your nation protects its citizens, punishes criminals, and values press freedom and democracy.This has gone on far too long, and too many lives have been wasted, for your government to remain idle.

Yours sincerely,


Christopher Warren
President
International Federation of Journalists

Friday, December 22, 2006

TVI Completes Canatuan Social Dev't Plan



In the area of Community Infrastructure,TVIRD hopes to complete the Tanuman Settlement Area that the company will build together with the indigenous people. Under the SDMP Education Program, TVIRD will strengthen the Functional Literacy Program for Canatuan; expand the College Scholarship Program; and continue to provide daycare and elementary schoolteachers in nearby villages. TVIRD will strengthen and expand its livelihood program, which will now include, among others, the production of medium to long-term crop like abaca and rubber.




ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Rochell Hilario / 22 Dec) - After many months of consultations with residents of communities within and around its gold-copper project in Mount Canatuan in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte provice, TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) has completed the approval process for its Social Development and Management Plan (SDMP) from the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The approval enables the TVI to build on the gains of its social development initiatives in its host and impact communities since it began production in 2004. This will be done through the enhancement of ongoing initiatives with the introduction of various organizational and program mechanisms that are responsive to the needs identified by these communities.

“While we have endeavored to fulfill our initial community development objectives in the first two years of our operations, we have also been working hard to finalize this important document that would formalize our commitment to the sustainable development of Canatuan and its neighboring barangays,” said Eugene Mateo, TVIRD president.

“We are glad to have finally accomplished this requirement, and we thank the MGB for acknowledging the tangible projects we have done for the improvement of the quality of life in our host community prior to the approval of our SDMP.”

Felice Yeban, TVIRD Community Relations and Development Organization director, said the consultation process and amount of time taken to produce many iterations resulting from feedback from the community and accommodating the community’s wishes took a while to complete the SDMP. "We are happy with the result but we view the Plan as a living document, a work in progress. We intend to do more and, as can be gleaned from our concrete development initiatives in the first phase, that is, from mid-2004 to mid-2006, our actions will speak louder than our words,” Yeban said.

These initiatives, Yeban said, include the cleanup of mercury and cyanide tailings left by illegal small-scale miners that previously operated in Canatuan and the planting of more than 62,000 trees in 2 ½ years. And the building of roads, health clinics, and schoolhouses, as well as the provision of livelihood projects, employment, and previously inaccessible basic services like water supply, electricity, including housing to the Subanon ancestral domain owners of Canatuan.

“TVIRD’s approved SDMP provides the framework that will serve as the company’s guidebook, as it continues to support the welfare of the people in its immediate and secondary affected communities,” MGB Western Midnanao regional director Constancio Paye, Jr., explains. “We now have a document that captures the many good things the company has done and will continue to do for its host communities in the areas of livelihood, basic services, health and environmental safety, their socio-economic enhancement and sustainability on and beyond the mine life.”

According to the TVIRD SDMP, the company will principally strengthen and expand first phase programs in the second phase (mid-2006 to 2008) through socio-economic projects and services spelled out during the community consultations.

These include a livelihood program that will focus on the production of medium and long-term crops like abaca and rubber; the formation of farmer instructor technician team that will spread the sustainable food security and environmental protection technology to other small farmer groups; the establishment of cooperative-operated trading center in strategic marketing locations; as well as the continuous upgrading of technical skills in upland farming of FIT and clients on upland crop diversification.

Included in the Health and Sanitation Program are the provision of a potable water system to five needy immediate impact barangays; the completion of a community hospital; and the establishment of herbal gardens.Under the SDMP Education Program, TVIRD will strengthen the Functional Literacy Program for Canatuan; expand the College Scholarship Program; and continue to provide daycare and elementary schoolteachers in nearby villages.

In the area of community infrastructure, the company hopes to complete the Tanuman Settlement Area that TVIRD will build together with the IPs.
TVIRD will implement five distinct but interrelated strategies to achieve the second phase: Sustainable Community Development; Organizational Development; Information, Education & Communications; Institutional Networking/Advocacy; and Resource Accessing.Following the provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, TVIRD allots a minimum of 1% of the direct mining and milling costs annually – over and above the royalty equivalent to 1% Net Smelter Revenue that Subanons have been receiving from the company.

Of this amount, 90% is appropriated to implement the SDMP, and the remaining 10% for the development of mining technology and geosciences, as the well as the corresponding manpower training and development.In 2005, the Subanons of Canatuan received a total of P5 million in royalty payments from TVIRD. From January to September 2006, they earned P10 million, and are expected to get P4 million more by yearend.

TVIRD’s SDMP was revised in two timeframes. In April 2005, the company employed the services of the Green Earth Multi-Purpose Cooperative which touched base with the Canatuan Project’s impact areas, particularly those communities covered by the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.

In the first quarter of 2006, TVIRD’s Community Development Office – recently reorganized as CReDO – initiated individual community profiling and consultations in 11 villages affected by the project, namely: Tabayo, Pisawak and Bulacan in Siocon town; Kilalaban in Baliguian town (both towns of which are in Zamboanga del Norte Province; and J.S. Perfecto, Malubal, New Sagay, San Fernandino, and San Antonio, all in R. T. Lim town in Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

So What Else Is New? Filipinos Remain Poor, Hungry Under Arroyo

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) - The Arroyo government said the Philippine economy is improving, jobs are many and poor families lesser since she became President in 2001.

Her political allies also say the same; they sing in unison and applause their own. But the latest reports of the independent Social Weather Survey speaks the truth.

Here is the Fourth Quarter 2006 Social Weather Survey: Hunger at new record-high 19.0% of families; 52% are Self-Rated Poor, 40% are Self-Rated Food-Poor!

The proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months reached a new record-high of 19.0%, or an estimated 3.3 million households, according to the final 2006 Social Weather Survey, last November 24-29.

The previous record-high incidence of household hunger was 16.9%, reached in both March 2006 and September 2006. Hunger has now been at double-digits for the past eleven consecutive quarters, since June 2004.

The new SWS survey also found 52% families reporting themselves as Poor in general, and 40% reporting themselves as Poor in terms of Food.

Hunger increased especially in Metro Manila and the Balance of Luzon
Hunger rose by almost five points in Metro Manila, from 12.8% in September to 17.7% in November. It rose by three points in the rest of Luzon, from 14.7% in September 2006 to 17.7% in November.

Hunger rose by only one point in Mindanao, from 21.3% to 22.3%. It declined slightly in the Visayas, from 19.7% to 19.0%.

Moderate Hunger at record high 15.1%

Moderate Hunger, defined as households experiencing it involuntarily “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, rose from 12.3% in the previous quarter to a new record-high 15.1%, surpassing the previous record of 12.9% in August 2005.

Severe Hunger, defined as households involuntarily hungry “Often” or “Always” in the last three months, declined somewhat, from 4.6% in September to 3.9% in November.

Moderate Hunger rose by over 4 points in Metro Manila (from 8.2% to 12.7%) and in the rest of Luzon (from 10.3% to 14.7%). It rose by less than 2 points in the Visayas (from 13.7% to 15.3%), and remained steady at 17.3% in Mindanao.

Severe Hunger went up in Metro Manila (from 4.6% to 5.0%), and in Mindanao (from 4.0% to 5.0%). However, it declined in the balance of Luzon (from 4.3% to 3.0%), and in the Visayas (from 6.0% to 3.7%).

Self-Rated Poverty

Overall Self-Rated Poverty hardly changed at the national level, being 51% in September and 52% in November [Chart 3]. It hardly changed in Mindanao (from 53% to 54%), and in Luzon outside Metro Manila (from 45% to 48%).

Self-Rated Poverty declined by 11 points in the Visayas, from 66% to 55%. On the other hand, it rose by 8 points in Metro Manila, from 46% to 54%.

Median Self-Rated Poverty thresholds

The Median Self-Rated Poverty threshold, or the median monthly budget in peso-terms that poor households say they need to escape poverty, rose in Metro Manila, from P10,000 in September to P12,000 in November.

It remained steady in Visayas, at P6,000, and in Mindanao, at P5,000
The Median Self-Rated Poverty threshold went down in the balance of Luzon, from P6,000 to P5,000.

Self-Rated Food Poverty

Forty percent of Filipino households consider themselves as Poor based on the type of food their family eats. Twenty-seventy percent put themselves on the Borderline, and 32% consider themselves as Not Food-Poor.

Self-Rated Food Poverty declined in the Visayas, from 55% in September to 42% in November, and in Luzon outside Metro Manila, from 40% to 37% [Chart 7]. It barely changed in Mindanao (from 40% to 41%).

However, it rose by 7 points in Metro Manila, from 38% in September to 45% in November.

Self-Reported Poverty and Hunger are consistent

Long survey experience shows that household heads’ reports about poverty in general, poverty in terms of food, and hunger are internally consistent.

In the November 2006 survey, the proportion of households experiencing hunger in the past three months is 30% among the Self-Rated Food-Poor, compared to only 13% among the Not Food-Poor,and 10% among those on the Food-Borderline.

The said survey has hunger at 25% among the Self-Rated Poor, compared to only 13% among the Not Poor, and 12% among those on the Borderline.

As a concept, poverty allows for various degrees of deprivation. A rise in hunger while poverty is flat, over a period of time, implies a worsening of deprivation among families at the lower end of the poverty spectrum.

Survey Background

The SWS survey questions about household poverty and hunger are directed to the household head. They are standard non-commissioned items in the Social Weather Surveys. By using the phrase “nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain” or “experienced hunger without anything to eat,” the hunger item specifically refers to involuntary suffering.

The Social Weather Surveys referred to in this release used face-to-face interviews of a national sample of 1,200 statistically representative household heads (300 each in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao), from 240 geographical spots selected from all regions. Error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for regional percentages should be applied.

The area estimates were weighted by the National Statistics Office’s medium-projections for 2006 to obtain the national estimates. (SWS)

Photo: Sunset In Zamboanga




Sunset in Zamboanga (Mindanao Examiner)



ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Dec) – A violinist of the group Psalm of David performs at a beach front in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines to raise money for charity.

The group, composed mostly of teenagers who are out of school, is based in General Santos City, but many of them have ventured to other places and raise anti-poverty awareness through their talents and music.
(Mindanao Examiner)

Arroyo Oks Holiday Truce With Reds

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) – Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo approved Thursday a four-day unilateral Christmas truce in military offensive against communist insurgents, but security forces remain in alert for threats of attacks against civilian targets across the country.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines recommended the cease-fire as a yuletide gesture, said General Hermogenes Esperon. He said the truce against the New People’s Army will take December 24 to 25 and December 31 to January 1.

“This (truce) is all in the spirit of the Yuletide season,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The AFP celebrated its 71st anniversary on Thursday with Arroyo as guest inside the tightly guarded Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Arroyo praised the AFP and soldiers for their loyalty and dedication to service.

Government forces remain in alert for possible attacks by other rebel groups or the Abu Sayyaf, which had been blamed for the spate of terrorism in troubled Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines.

There were no immediate statement from the NPA, but the rebel group traditionally reciprocate government cease-fire during Christmas.

The NPA is fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.
(Mindanao Examiner)

Prostitusyon Sa Dumaguete, Talamak Na!

DUMAGUETE CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) – Naalarma na umano ang maraming mga civic groups at NGOs sa patuloy na paglaki ng bilang ng mga prostitute sa Dumaguete City.

Lubos na kahirapan at problema sa pamilya ang mga pangunahing dahilan kung bakit maraming mga babae ang naliligaw ng landas.

Ngunit mas matinding problema rin ang dala nito sa lokal na pamahalaan – ang pagkalat ng mga sakit tulad ng AIDS at HIV at pagkalulong sa droga at alak ng mga prostitute – ang ikinakatakot ng marami.

Tinatayang aabot sa mahigit 350 mga prostitute ang ngayon ay naglipana sa ibat-ibang lugar sa Dumaguete, na minsang naging tanyag dahil sa kumalat na sex video na tinuguriang Dumaguete Scandal.

Maging mga estudyante ay napipilitan na rin na magbenta ng kanilang laman upang maituloy ang kanilang pagaaral. Ang masakit nito ay sa halagang P300-P500 ay maari ng makakuha ng babae sa lansangan ng magulong lungsod ng Dumaguete. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sinulog Festival, Tiyak Na Daragsain Sa Cebu

CEBU (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) – Inasahang daragsain na naman ng mga dayuhang at lokal na turista ang lalawigan ng Cebu, hindi dahil sa ASEAN Summit, kundi sa tanyag na Sinulog Festival.
Naudlot man ang ASEAN Summit nitong buwan dahil sa bagyo at banta ng terorismo ay siguradong walang atrasan ang Sinulpg Festival – bumagyo man hindi – dahil sa naging tradisyon na ito tuwing sasapit ang Enero, ayon sa mga organizers nito.
Alay ito sa Sto. Nino at sa tuwing Sinulog Festival ay libo-libong mga deboto ang tradisyonal na nagtutungo sa Cebu upang magbigay ng pasasalamat at magdasal. At sa mga turista ay kasiyahan naman ang naghihintay sa kanilang pagdating at tipong Rio Carnival at mardigras ang tema ng Sinulog Festival.
Sinabi rin ni Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama na inaasahan aabot sa mahigit 1,000 naman ng mga taga-Cebu ang babalik mula sa ibang bansa, parikular sa Estados Unidos. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mga Dinosaur Susugod Sa Negros

BACOLOD CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) – Magandang balita sa mga Negrenses! Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon sa Bisayas ay dadalhin ng isang international amusement firm ang mga dambuhalang robotic dinosaurs bilang bahagi ng educational tour nito sa ibat-ibang bansa.

Tiyak na mamangha ang lahat kapag nakita nila ang mga robotic dinosaurs na mistulang Jurassic Park ang dating kapag dinala sa susunod na taon ng Dino World Theme Park ang ilang sa lalawigan ng Negros Occidental, kabilang na ang lungsod ng Bacolod.

Unang bubuksan ng Dino World ang P350-milyong theme park sa Maynila ngayon linggo. Ito ang una at sa ngayon ang tanging dinosaur theme park sa Southeast Asia at pangalawang pinakamalaki sa buong mundo bukod sa Florida sa Estados Unidos.

Aabot sa 28 robotic dinosaurs at mahigit sa dalawang daang fossils nito ang itatampok sa nasabing theme park na malaki ang maitutulong sa edukasyon ng mga bata. (Mindanao Examiner)

Demak Motors Making Names In RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) – The Malaysian Demak motorcycles continue to make names in the Philippines, a year after it opened its first manufacturing plant in Zamboanga City, west of Mindanao island.

And K Servico Trade Inc, a company involved in retailing and motorcycle sales in the Philippines, is expected to place its first order for Demak motorcycles soon, says a senior official of the Malaysian motorcycle manufacturer headquartered in Kuching, Sarawak.
Just recently, top K Servico officials led by Alfredo L. Llennes, its President and Chief Operating Officer, visited Demak's second motorcycle plant in the Philippines located in Metro Manila, the Malaysian news agency, Bernama, said Thursday.
Ma. Socorro F. Cipriano, marketing officer of Demak Motor Mfg. Phils Inc, briefed Llennes group on the latest range of motorcycle models.

Hu Ying, executive director of DNC Asiatic Holdings Sdn Bhd, the parent company of Demak Motor, told Bernama that the visitors discussed plans to promote Demak motorcycles in Luzon and the Metro Manila cities.

Luzon is the biggest island in the Philippines while Metro Manila is the metropolitan area that contains the city of Manila as well as 16 surrounding cities and municipalities, including Quezon City, the capital from 1948 to 1976.

K Servico Trade Inc. and its sister company, Emcor Inc., were established by Jesus V. Del Rosario in 1971 and 1957 respectively as a nationwide retail network selling motorcycles and home appliances.
Emcor operates 180 stores in the Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan islands and is already selling Demak motorcycles while K Servico Trade operates 102 stores in Metro Manila and in Luzon.
Demak opened its first factory at the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (ZamboEcozone) and since then had been cited many times by different Filipino business groups because of its quality motorbikes.

It also participated in this year’s Mindanao Business Conference in Zamboanga City where the local mayor, Celso Lobregat, led visitors in touring the Demak show room at the Garden Orchid Hotel, where the summit was held. (Bernama, with a report from the Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kenney Leads U.S. Troops In Gift-Giving In RP's Poor

Brig. Gen. Medina (2nd from left) and Ambassador Kenney (center) pose with U.S. Marines and children at Our Lady of Peace Mission in Paranaque City.


MANILA - Ambassador Kristie Kenney led U.S. Marines in distributing gifts to poor Filipino children at the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission in Paranaque City.
U.S. Marines have been distributing more than 22,000 pounds of food, clothing, health care items, sporting goods and toys, as well as more than 400,000 pesos, to communities and organizations in Northern Luzon, Manila, and Palawan during the first part of "Operation Goodwill Delivery".
Members of the Japan-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and their families provided all donated funds and items for hundreds of Filipino children in need and the institutions that care for them, an embassy statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner said.

The soldiers have visited the Philippines for joint military training and exercises.

The Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission provides support for nearly 600 children, most of whom live on the streets or in shelters around Metro Manila.

At today’s event, U.S. Marines served a holiday meal to the malnourished children the foundation assists while U.S. and Filipino Marines played Christmas music and soldiers dressed as Santa Claus handed out candies.
Kenney distributed toys and gifts and visited children in the hospital. Brigadier General Joseph Medina, commander of the U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, also attended and helped serve the luncheon meal.
The U.S. Marines created “Operation Goodwill” in 2003 to show appreciation to the children and families of the Philippines for welcoming them during annual bilateral exercises. Each year, the U.S. Marines volunteer with their families to gather donations from colleagues in Okinawa and then deliver the toys and supplies to Filipino children over the holiday season.
This month, the soldiers have visited different areas in the Philippines and donated to Philippine charitable organizations and communities. In Puerto Princessa City in Palawan island, U.S. Marines gave toys and supplies to military and community families living near Antonio Bautista Air Base.
In Angeles City in Pampanga province, U.S. Marines also donated both money and goodwill items to Duyan Ni Maria (Mary’s Cradle Orphanage). They also delivered toys and supplies to the Aeta Resettlement and Rehabilitation Center and in Basco island in northern Philippines, the U.S. Marines delivered 2,200 pounds of food, healthcare items, clothes, sporting goods and toys. In Manila, they donated P157,000 to the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission, Inc., to assist in charitable works.
The Marines will return in mid-January for the second part of the operation, during which they will deliver goodwill items to communities and organizations in Zamboanga, Negros, and Leyte.

MILF Firm On Demand, Ready To Resume Peace Talks With Manila

MAGUINDANAO (Juan Magtanggol / 20 Dec) – The Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), on Wednesday reiterated its demand for self-determination in the troubled, but mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao as peace talks with Manila are to resume early next year in Malaysia.

Malaysia is brokering peace talks between the Filipino government and the MILF, but negotiations ended in September in Kuala Lumpur with both sides failing to sign any agreement on the most contentious issue -- ancestral domain.

"Our position remains the same. We expect to resume peace talks by early next year, probably January, in Malaysia. The MILF is always optimistic about the peace process and we hope to discuss the issue on ancestral domain," Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from a rebel headquarters in Mindanao.

Iqbal said the MILF peace panel has been meeting the past days in preparation for the resumption of the talks with Manila. He did not elaborate.

Ancestral domain refers to the rebel demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

Manila opened up peace talks in 2001 with the MILF, which is fighting for independence in Mindanao island, whose 16 million populations includes about 4 million Filipino Muslims.

Iqbal said government peace negotiators previously offered the MILF the Muslim autonomous region, which is composed of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi which are among the poorest in the country torn by strife and clan wars since its creation in 1989.

The ancestral domain, on the other hand, covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. And even Palawan Island in central Philippines.

Peace talks between the government and MILF started in January 1997, but the absence of a neutral third party bogged down the initiative.
It was only on March 24, 2001, after the all-out war against the MILF declared by former President Joseph Estrada that Malaysia, at the behest of the Philippine government, facilitated the talks.
However, in February 2003, despite the avowed all-peace policy of President Gloria Arroyo, an all-out war was again declared against the rebels, but both sides later agreed to resume talks.

President George Bush said the United States is willing to pour more development aid in Mindanao should the MILF signed a peace deal with Manila, a key U.S. ally in the global war on terrorism.
The MILF also praised Bush for his commitment to Mindanao.

But despite the peace talks and a fragile truce signed five years ago, sporadic clashes between soldiers and rebels still continue in Mindanao. However, the presence of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) prevented the clashes from further spreading.

The IMT is composed of 41 officers from the Malaysian Defense Forces, the Royal Malaysia Police, and the Prime Minister's Department and is also supported by 10 military officers from Brunei Darussalam and 5 from Libya.

Iqbal praised the IMT, saying, the truce observers play a vital role in the preservation of peace in the southern region."We appreciate the efforts of the IMT in promoting peace and stability in Mindanao and they play a very important role in the peace process. Everybody in the IMT is working hard to achieve peace in Mindanao," he said.

He also praised Brunei for its role in the Mindanao peace process. "Brunei is tiny country, yet it plays a big role in the IMT. Its truce monitoring group is working effectively and they deserve all the praises," he said.

Three IMT groups have been in Mindanao the past 3 years, monitoring the cease-fire between the Philippine military and the MILF. (Mindanao Examiner)