Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arroyo Elated Over RP's Economic Gains, Power Rates Down

MANILA - Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo said she considers the latest reduction in power rates as a classic example of the country's economic gains flowing down to the people.

In a roundtable discussion Wednesday in Malacanang, the President said the people are finally harvesting the seeds of fiscal discipline and good governance that the government has planted.

"The cut in power rates is part of the great story of economic gains flowing down to the people.
This is a timely harvest on the seeds of fiscal discipline and good governance that we have planted in the field of optimism and hope," she said in a statement.

The President pointed out that this is a clear and compelling reason for all Filipinos to stay the course and not be distracted "by the pullback of destructive politics."

Housewife Cora Gloria, a mother of three, who was among those in the roundtable discussion, told the President that her power rate bill was lower this month (February) compared to last month.

"Itong huling perfect power adjustments, pag mababa ang langis at dolyar bumaba rin iyong tsini-charge, doon nagre-reflect na bumababa ang electric bill, so nararanasan talaga. Lalo na ngayon na itong Napocor ay binabawasan iyong tsini-charge sa Meralco," the President explained.

The President told Gloria that through her village, she could seek micro-finance assistance for her to open up a small business.

Gloria, for her part, thanked the President for launching the "Pamilihang Bayan" and "Botika ng Bayan" where she could buy cheaper products and medicines.

Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Rodolfo Albano, Jr. said that the National Power Corporation (Napocor) power rate reduction by eight centavos per kilowatt-hour (kwh) will apply to the Feb. 26 to March 25, 2007 billing period. The reduction, he said, could go up by 18 centavos in the next 10 months.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said all payments made by Napocor for the importation of oil had been reduced due to the stronger peso.

Lotilla informed the President that the official contract price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Singapore will be reduced by one percent by next month. Kerosene prices, he added, had also been reduced by 30 centavos two days ago.

Consumer and Oil Price Watch chairman Raul Concepcion said the power rate reduction would have significant effect on consumers but extended his appeal to the banks to consider lowering their rates, too.

The President said she is considering the establishment of a credit bureau because the micro-finance system requires no collateral and is becoming very attractive because of its lower interest rates.

She said that while her detractors continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel for old, worn out issues, her administration is concerned with the issue of a modern Philippines fighting for the people and lifting them from poverty.

"I call on all Filipinos to bury past complaints and join the bandwagon of the economy," she said. "This is our only time to break free from the drag of past complaints and move forward. Let us not waste time but use it to grab every opportunity to advance, prevail over our conflicts and doubts and win the future."

Plantation Union Shouts Harassment

DAVAO DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) – Picketing banana workers complained Wednesday that security guards of the Marsman Estate Plantation allegedly harassed them in the town of Santo Tomas in Davao del Norte province.

The workers were demanding immediate release of their union benefits under the so-called Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the remittance of their Social Security System and and Pag-ibig payments.

Domingo Deguma, president of Marsman Labor Association for National Democracy-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno, said the security guards, about 10 of them, allegedly threatened them should they continue their picket in front of the Marsman office.

“We were about to assemble in front of the management building when chief security Jun Dumile came up to us and told us that there will be trouble if we will proceed with the protest,” he said.

Deguma said Marsman up to now have not released the workers’ Spouse and Children’s Christmas Bonuses supposed to be due December last year. Some of the workers were not able to avail of salary loans because the company allegedly failed to remit the workers’ SSS and Pag-ibig payments.

“The guards were already posted in front of the management office before we started the picket. As we were preparing the picket line, they approached us and ordered us to disperse.”

“We were merely exercising our right to redress of grievance…Instead of addressing our concerns, they sent out armed guards to intimidate and force us to endure their capitalist exploitation,” said Deguma, who is also a coordinator for the party list Anakpawis.

Editha Duterte, Anakpawis-Southern Mindanao spokesperson, explained: “Their fear of us mounting the picket stems out from the fact that for the past months, the workers have been successful in pressing for their economic rights though collective action.”

“The workers’ experience taught them that picketing and other concerted actions are their only resort to counter capitalist exploitation. That is the reason why these workers never tire and they become more resolute—of pushing for their legitimate demands,” she said in a statement to the Mindanao Examiner.

There were no immediate statements from either officials or head of security of the Marsman.

Kabataan To Government: Assert And Uphold Court Decisions On Nursing Issue

DAVAO CITY – THE KABATAAN PARTY LIST urged Manila Wednesday to assert the Supreme Court’s decisions on the nursing controversy, and to take highest consideration of the poor majority among nursing graduates in planned moves.

The Philippine government is set appeal to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools’ (CGFNS) refusal to accept Filipino nurses who passed the June 2006 nursing examination.

“We believe that most of the 2006 nursing exam passers come from poor families who tried hard just to finish nursing and pass the exam in high hopes that such would guarantee them of better lives and retaking the exam is already an added burden to them,” Vice President for Mindanao of the Kabataan Party List, Karla Hyasmind Apat, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Apat said the nursing graduates would only be forced to retake the exam in the context of not prolonging their agony over the controversy. She added they would rather spend, borrow perhaps, thousands of pesos just to work in countries were their profession is in demand, rather than wait in vain.

The group believes that the government should start asserting the Supreme Court’s decision to the United States who benefits most from the nursing graduates of the country.

“We stand with the majority of the Filipino nurses who are left with no choice but to succumb to the Philippine educational system’s flaws in order to have a better job and better life that this government could not provide to its own graduates,” Apat said.

Kabataan Party List said there is a dire need to push for the legislative agenda that will change the orientation of the Philippine Education system which currently serves the foreign needs.
“Our educational system right now is very colonial and does not serve the need of the country.

Our teachers and doctors are turning into nurses for the reason that this government can not compensate their needs and benefits and the government through the Department of Labor and Employment even tolerates this trend,” Apat said.

Gabriela Urges Full Implementation Of Anti-Trafficking Law

GABRIELA WOMEN’S PARTY LIST on Wednesday urged the Arroyo government to implement fully the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” or Republic Act No. 9208.

GABRIELA worries over the increasing rate of human trafficking in the country as reports show that there are already 500,000 women and 100,000 minors who have been victimized.

The group also expressed its appreciation for the recently launched Task Force Anti-Trafficking of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport although it believes this is not enough to ensure prevention of trafficking and rescue of the victims.

The women group commends the legislation of RA 9208, co-authored by Rep. Liza Maza of 12th Congress, for being the first law of the Republic of the Philippines that protects women and children from trafficking and which has clear provisions on services for the victims, “But unclear implementation has rendered it futile for almost four years now.”

“There is a big gap between this beautifully crafted law and its implementation,” according to Jeanette Laurel, Advocacy Staff of the Talikala Inc., a GWP network of non-government organizations that protect women and children from sex-trafficking.

Laurel said there are no appropriate facilities for the services for victims, such as livelihood and skills training, emergency shelter or appropriate housing, counseling and rehabilitation, which are stated in the law.

GWP also pointed out the need to educate the people about the said law but this must be done first in the government ranks because it has not yet been popularized even in the local government units.

“Government agencies have not concretized the services mandated by the law. In the city, these services are hard to access and even monitoring systems among barangays are definitely non-existent,” Laurel said.

“Definition of trafficking is still vague for the judiciary. It does not consider an act as trafficking when a victim is rescued in the airport for it has not been consummated yet,” Laurel said.

Most of the cases were downgraded to illegal recruitment disregarding the gravity of human trafficking, she added. “In February last year, we had rescued eight victims from trafficking; five of these cases were treated as illegal recruitment and three were dismissed,” she added.

Talikala Inc. reported that in Davao City, there were 40 victims of sex-trafficking for February to December 2006, youngest of them was 14 year-old, not including cases of other forms of trafficking documented in the city.

“These cases (40) were all unresolved leaving the victims vulnerable for re-trafficking because they remain unemployed and unable to access education,” Laurel said.

Suara Fears Escalation Of Violence In Sulu

THE SUARA PARTY LIST expressed fear Wednesday over a possible escalation of more violence in the province of Sulu as skirmishes between the Abu Sayyaf Group and government troops are rapidly slipping out of hand.

This, as the involvement of members of the Moro National Liberation Front in the fighting is also dreaded as inevitable because government troopers are now hunting down members of the Abu Sayyaf in the areas considered as territory of the MNLF.

Zaynab Ampatuan, national deputy secretary general of Suara, said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf in an MNLF area is an open invitation for a confrontation.

“We think that government troops are teasing the MNLF to shoot at them. The situation in Sulu is very critical now knowing that the government and MNLF officials are still ironing the kinks of the final peace agreement they signed in 1996,” Ampatuan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“We hope that the MNLF will not be ensnared and drag themselves into a situation that will absolutely endanger the peace negotiations,” Ampatuan said.

The military, through Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the joint special operations forces hunting down the Abu Sayyaf, said that they were able to receive information that the MNLF is coddling members of the Abu Sayyaf.

Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, however, said that he has advised Pabustan not to believe in the report as “somebody is trying to get the AFP to the MNLF and start a confrontation again.” At least 13 scout rangers were reportedly hurt while six soldiers were killed in the gun battle that already involved members of the MNLF.

This came after the scout rangers conducted a hot pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits who fled and allegedly sought refuge in MNLF camp in Jolo’s Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza.

Ampatuan said they were able to receive reports that a number of civilian Moro families have left their homes again for fear of being caught in the crossfire.

“Evacuation seems to be a never ending affair of the Moro people as the government continues to advance its misplaced policies like the antiterrorism law which, in the end, only hurt the civilians more than their supposed targets,” Ampatuan said.

“We fear that civilians will again be the casualties of this recent clash as it did before. The fighting has to stop for the sake of the civilians—the children, the elderly and women,” Ampatuan added.

Party List Group Assails Gov't For Failing To Help Pinoy Nurses

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) - The party list Kilusang Mayo Uno assailed Wednesday the government’s failure to address the growing problems facing the Filipino nurses.

The U.S. Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) banned Filipino nurses who took the June 2006 licensure examination tainted with cheating and scandals that nearly damaged the integrity of nursing schools and review centers in the Philippines.

Government officials said they will appeal the decision of the CGFNS and a group of Filipino lawmakers are also going to the United States to meet with officials of the agency. Some nursing review centers were involved in the cheating, authorities said.

"The handling of the government on the nursing leakage mess remains to be absolving the criminals who orchestrated the leakage while putting extra burden on our already stressed-out nurses. We are yet to see people made accountable for their role in the test leakage,” said Elmer Labog, national chairman of the KMU’s Labor Center here.

The KMU fears that other countries may also ban Filipino nurses because of the CGFNS decision.

Labog said: “Unless justice is served and the culprits made to pay for their actions, the possibility of other countries banning our nurses is very possible. Other countries will always notice a shadow of doubt hovering over the nurses who took the June 2006 licensure examination and this will place unjust burden on them.” (Mindanao Examiner)

MAAS starts countdown for aerial spray ban

DAVAO CITY - The Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Mass) has started its own countdown for the full implementation of the ordinance banning aerial spraying.

The ordinance will take effect on March 22, the day when the whole world is celebrating World Water Day. The same day will be the start of the three-month phase-out period given to banana plantation companies to shift from aerial spraying to manual spraying. By June 22, no spray planes should fly over banana plantation in the city.

“The timing is just perfect with the celebration. We all know that one of the reasons why we pushed for the banning of aerial spraying in banana plantations is because we wanted the open bodies of water protected from the deadly drift of the chemicals,” said Dagohoy Magaway, spokesperson of Maas.

The group -- composed of various non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, academe, church and some individuals—also pushed for the banning because of the danger and destruction that the chemical drift causes to the health of the people and crops.

Magaway said their group, a wide coalition, is anticipating and watching the implementation of the ban as the day close by. “Yes we are excited but we are watchful. We are not letting our guards off until we will see no airplanes hovering over us, sprinkling all that are underneath with deadly chemicals,” Magaway said.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the ordinance Feb. 9, a move that signaled the end of the 30-year practice in banana plantation. The signing also came two years after the ordinance was lodged in the city council.

“We know that the banana plantation companies have been affected by the ban and we are expecting that they will still try to block the implementation. But we are here, with the same strength and passion, to stop whatever they desire,” Magaway said.

“Before the ordinance was signed into law, banana companies unleashed their most trusted lobby person—Agriculture Arthur Yap but it did not work. Whoever will be sent out to block the implementation, we are ready for that,” Magaway said. (Jeff Tupaz)



Kids’ school uniforms, flapping on clotheslines, don’t raise eyebrows. Except when they’re strung in ghettos of indigenous tribal people, like Atis in Sitio Bolabog on glitzy Boracay. “That’s something I didn't see before,” emailed former World Health Organization’s Rabin Sarda.

“Those uniforms are indicators of hope,” says Dr Sarda, who shuttles between Miami and Boracay, yet wedges time to help the once-nomadic Atis. Those clotheslines say: “More Atis are now in school --- and getting a chance to break out of penury.”

Progress inches forward despite relentless pressure, by tax-declaration waving claimants, to shove out Atis from what they say is home. The Catholic Church’s commission on indigenous peoples backs the Atis’ December 2001 claim for a certificate of ancestral domain title. And Senator Jamby Madrigal blasted those shoving Atis out with threats and P2,000 handouts and feet-dragging by government agencies.

“The beautiful white beaches can not disguise the disgusting reality of a concentration camp being built among Boracay’s tourist attractions,” she wrote. Daughters of Charity nuns, who live among the Atis, were “judiciously using a medicine fund provided by private citizens", Dr Sarda noted.

They first use donated drugs, before drawing from the fund “More individuals and organizations contribute time and in kind,” including help to repair typhoon damaged homes. “Contributions to a feeding program, to tamp down malnutrition, have stabilized. An informal education program for youth is ongoing. In school year 2007/2008, two Atis will enter college with scholarships from self-effacing benefactors.”

A February bonus was a mass wedding for 18 couples. An upscale hotel even provided the banquet.”If we keep sprigs of hope in our hearts,” the Chinese say, “the singing bird will come.”

From Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Georgia, Patrick H. O'Brien reacts to an earlier Inquirer column (“Reading beyond Labels”) that reported: A US Food and Drug Administration study, on the military’s $1-billion medical stockpile, found drugs remained effective even 15 years beyond expiry dates.

(I’m) a US pharmacist who worked with eight medical / surgical missions to the Philippines,” O’Brien emailed. “Two were to Tagbilaran City in 1992 and 1994. And I applaud the common sense and non-political approach to the issue of expiration dating on medications in this unbiased column.

"As with most things, expiration dates are simply guidelines to be used. Medications are more affected by storage conditions than by a simple date. How many of us have gotten relief from a headache from a Tylenol that passed its expiration date? How many of us actually look?”

"The well intentioned Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) advises that medicines, imported by foreign medical missions, must have at least a one year expiration date. That may be appropriate for international pharmaceutical companies' imports. But it puts an enormous burden on medical mission donations. They receive most of their donated drugs with a short expiration date of two to six months. How can I request donations, and then demand a one year expiration date?

"Our mission group will leave for a surgical mission to Roxas City. We accumulated medicines that are not expired but lack BFAD's one year required dating. Worse, efforts to contact BFAD to arrange an inspection, by e-mail, regular mail and phone, all went unanswered. Maybe they're busy dreaming up other rules?

From Las Vegas, Nevada, Bunny Arville emailed: A recent lead story, on TV Patrol newscast on Filipino Channel, was a beauty pageant that shocked: a beauty pageant of grandmothers or Lolas in a province.

A few did not apparently have bathing suits. So, they wore skimpy materials that seemed, from my vantage point, like underwear. Many in the audience were seen ridiculing this spectacle. “It was despicable beyond belief. It certainly didn't speak well for those responsible for this project. But then, isn't ratings (translation: money) always the deciding factor in lousy decisions?”

”In Pilipino culture, calling someone ‘Lola’ is a sign of respect -- unlike the Western world that holds getting old is a negative thing. Age comes with honor in our culture. Our grandmothers are those who toiled and loved us. They deserve better.

“In TV, the line between news and entertainment has long vanished. News isentertainment and the death of Anna Nicole Smith (or Kris Aquino’s heartbreak?) Is more entertaining maybe a higher IQ is better than a bigger bosom. To idolize people who use cleavage, as a tool to get ahead in life, is really sick.”

From Elizabeth, New Jersey, Dr Jose Chua writes: “I read the Inquirer column “Mixed Bag”. Here is my experience: I left the Philippines in 1974 as a 27-year old youngster. Now, I’m almost 60. And it is not yet possible for me to return or retire. I’m still doing everything to ensure my family’s welfare. “I am a doctor. I enjoy financial stability. However, my nephews are already college graduates. Yet, they can not support their families, even if they have jobs. So, they still get a subsidy from me.

Probably I am an enabler. But they’re still hard-up. “That was the same plight I found myself in then. At that time, I was already a physician. In addition, I taught in the medical school of a major Manila university. Yet, my income then could hardly support my family. Is there any chance the Philippines will improve?

AND THE GOOD NEWS: Asia America Initiative Donates P25-M Worth Of Medicines For Sulu Hospital

THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION, Asia America Initiative, based in Washington, D.C. and the Philippines, will bring 25 million pesos [$500,000] of vital medicines to the Integrated Provincial Hospital in Jolo as part of the ongoing Development for Peace Program on the southern Sulu Archipelago, the Asian Journal said.

The medicines, donated by US-based MedPharm, Inc. are to be distributed starting March. The shipment includes a broad spectrum of vital antibiotics, burn ointments, oral re-hydration salts, and anti-parasitic medicines for 50,000 elementary and preschool children.

The medical support is an ongoing component of the DPIS, which was founded in 2002 by Albert Santoli in partnership with the governments of the Philippines and local social, religious and educational leaders.

The program is credited with reducing violence and furthering the peace process in Jolo and surrounding communities by integrating health, education and livelihood efforts as a means of building Hope.

During the past four years, AAI has delivered more than 150 million pesos [$3.5 million] worth of medical supplies to Sulu and for emergency relief to populations affected by war in Maguindanao province on the main island of Mindanao. “Development for Peace has been a true partnership between the local community in Sulu and Asia America Initiative,” said AAI Director Albert Santoli.

“Our Philippine staffs, Muslims and Christians, have proven the power of people of different cultures, religions and languages working together in common humanity to build bonds of trust and friendship,” he said.

Finally, Special Courts On Extra-Judicial Killings...

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) - The Supreme Court has started selecting the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the Philippines that will hear and decide pending murder cases involving extra-judicial and political killings in the country.

SC administrator Christopher Lock issued Order 14-0755 compelling courtrooms in the country to inform the High Court on the pending charges involving extra-judicial and political killings.

Lock said they will select which courtroom will handle cases involving extra-judicial and political killings based on the data to be provided by these RTC branches.

The administrator gave the judges in the country until Thursday to send the information needed by the High Tribunal.

Militant groups said more than 800 mostly political activists were killed since 2001 and they accused government soldiers as behind most of these murders. The Armed Forces of the Philippines denied the accusations. (Romy Bwaga)

Akusadong Marine Colonel, Naospital Dahil sa Malaria

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) - PINAYAGAN na ng liderato ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na malipat ng pagamutan si Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin na nakararanas ng malaria.

Kinumpirma kanina ni AFP Public Information Office (PIO) Chief Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro na sa Fort Bonifacio General Hospital pansamantalang mananatili si Querubin.

Kinakailangan aniyang sumailalim ng follow-up treatment si Querubin at hindi muna dadalhin sa bagong detensyon nito sa Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal kasama ang mga opisyal ng Army Scout Rangers na dawit sa bigong planong kudeta hanggat hindi tuluyang gumagaling sa karamdaman.

"The chief of staff has approved the transfer of Colonel Querubin to the Fort Bonifacio General
Hospital. He will undergo some follow-up treatment," ayon kay Bacarro.

"He [Querubin] will stay there until his treatment is finished," dagdag nito.Buhat sa Makati City hospital ay dinala na si Querubin sa naturang ospital ng Philippine Army sa Fort Bonifacio.

Ayaw namang ipaliwanag ni Bacarro kung bakit hindi dinala sa Navy hospital sa loob rin ng Fort Bonifacio si Querubin sa halip na sa Army headquarters.

Itinanggi rin ni Bacarro na mas malala pa sa mga piitan sa Maynila ang kalagayan ng detensyon sa Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal.

"That is not true… We can assure you that we are treating them like our own," depensa ng opisyal.

Samantala, pinabulaanan rin ng AFP ang pagpapakilos sa mga tauhan ng militar upang mangampanya kontra o pabor sa sinumang kandidato.

Binigyang-diin ni Bacarro na maliwanag ang mandato ng militar na hindi makikialam sa pulitika.
Umano'y naglunsad ng kampanya ang AFP upang iboykot o huwag iboto ang mga kandidatong partylist group na iniuugnay sa Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

May mga ulat rin na nagsasagawa ng pangangampanya ang militar para iboto ang ilang kandidato ng administrasyon tulad sa Camarines Sur na kung saan ay napabalitang tatakbo si Diosdado Arroyo, anak ng Pangulo, sa Kongreso.

Sa kabila ito ng umiiral na memorandum of agreement sa pagitan ng Department of National Defense (DND) at Commission on Elections (Comelec) na naglilimita sa papel ng militar sa mga halalan sa bansa.

Sinabi ni Bacarro na pinaninindigan ng AFP ang prinsipyo ng non-partisan politics upang hindi makaladkad ang mga sundalo sa pansarili at pulitikal na interes ng anumang grupo o indibidwal.
Ayaw na rin umano ng AFP na maulit pa ang kontrobersya ng "Hello Garci" na naglagay sa alanganin sa kredibilidad ng mga miyembro ng institusyon. (Juley Reyes)

RP Military Denies Death Of Sayyaf Leader

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) – The Philippine military on Wednesday denied published reports that a senior Abu Sayyaf leader was killed in a firefight in the southern island of Jolo.

Philippine media reported that Albader Parad was killed during a firefight with troops in Jolo’s hinterlands. The report was attributed to Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, commander of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

Cedo denied confirming Parad’s death, but admitted they have unverified intelligence reports that the terror leader was injured in the fighting and may have died from his wounds.

“We are not confirming Parad’s death, but we are trying to verify the reports,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Troops have earlier killed the chieftain of the Abu Sayyaf, Khadaffy Janjalani and his lieutenant Jainal Antel Sali, in separate clashes in Jolo island.

Philippine forces, backed by U.S. military intelligence, were battling the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya on the island. Washington blacklisted both groups and offered as much as ten million dollars bounty for the capture of Jemaah Islamiya bomber Dulmatin, who is hiding in Jolo with Umar Patek.

Jakarta linked the duo to the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Authorities said more than 80 Jemaah Islamiya militants are hiding on the island. (Mindanao Examiner)

Coup Plotter Nag-Sori, Pero Humirit Na Payagang Mangampanya Sa Halalan

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) - HUMINGI ng tawad ngayon ang isa sa mga nasangkot sa bigong kudeta noong Pebrero ng nakalipas na taon kasabay ng paghirit na mapayagang mangampanya sa halalan sa Mayo.

Partikular na inihingi ng paumanhin ni Army Scout Ranger Captain Dante Langkit kay Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. ay ang naging pagkadismaya ng heneral matapos siyang makisangkot sa nabigong planong kudeta.

"I am truly sorry if I have caused you disappointments and I sincerely thank you for your personal concern of which I have been aware," ayon kay Langkit sa kanyang isang pahinang liham.

Hiniling ni Langkit na mapahintulutan itong makalabas ng kulungan upang makapangampanya sa kanyang lalawigan na mahigit isang taon na rin nitong hindi nabibisita bunsod ng pagkakakulong.

Ang kakambal ni Langkit na si Danzel ang nagdala ng sulat sa tanggapan ni Esperon.

Si Langkit ay dating naging security aide ni Esperon at parang ama na ang turing nito sa AFP leader.

Sinabi pa ni Langkit kay Esperon ang kahandaang tumugon sa demokratikong proseso sa pamamagitan ng pagkandidato.

"In this regard, may I respectfully ask your permission that I be allowed to campaign in my province during the election period. I give you my word and honor that I will not grant any interview or make statements save on issues locally affecting my province which I feel to be relevant in the election process," ani Langkit.

"Above all, I will report to you (Esperon) after the election period…(and hoping for a) favorable action hereon and reiterating my gratitude as ever, I remain steadfast to the chain of command," dagdag pa nito sa liham.

Si Langkit ay miyembro ng Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1995, at mista ni dating Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV na tumakbong senador sa ilalim ng tiket ng oposisyon. (Juley Reyes)

Cops Rescue Minors From Cotabato Bar

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Feb) - GOVERNMENT prosecutors indicted a ranking policeman, his wife and two others for allegedly hiring two minor girls from Davao City to work in a karaoke bar in Cotabato City.
The four were charged for violating Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking of Women and Children before the Regional Trial Court by Chief City Prosecutor Raul Bendigo.

Bendigo filed the charges based on the resolution of investigating prosecutor Trinidad Cardona. In her investigation, Cardona found probable cause the four connived in hiring the girls, ages 14 and 17 to work as guest relations officer at the bar owned by the policeman and his wife on February 18..

The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) earlier filed charges against the suspects. The victims said they were promised jobs at a family entertainment center, not in karaoke bar.

The girls said they arrived in Cotabato City and started working a day after they were recruited. On February 20, operatives of the PNP-CIDG rescued the two girls and brought them back to Davao where they narrated their ordeal.

It was unknown how the police tracked down the girls. (Romy Bwaga)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Arroyo Cites RP's Strong Fiscal Showing

PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO on Tuesday cited the strong fiscal performance of the national government, particularly its strict implementation of programs on improving cash flow and revenue collection, for the lowering of the budget deficit which resulted in the "freeing up" of funds that can be used for priority projects nationwide.

The President extolled the Philippines’ "rosy economic outlook" during a round table discussion in Malacanang with some members of her economic team on "the strong performance of the national government as well as the improvement on operational efficiencies of government corporations and what they mean to the poor."

Among those present were Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., Presidential Chief of Staff Joey Salceda, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Head Efraim Genuino, and outgoing Government Corporate Counsel and incoming Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera, said a government statement.

"Maraming konkretong hakbang ang ating isinusulong upang makamit natin ang mas magandang estado ng ating ekonomiya ngayon. Kasama na dito ang patuloy na pagliit ng ating budget deficit," the President said at the beginning of the discussion.

According to Andaya, the amount of money the government was supposed to borrow to bridge the country's deficit was halved from P125 billion to roughly P62 billion for 2006 due to the "overachieving" performance of the government on its fiscal reform programs.

He said that because of the lowering of the budget deficit, the government is now able to deliver a strong social payback to the people, among which are:

* An additional P200 billion has been added to the 2007 national budget that will be used to fund priority projects concerning education, health and infrastructure;* P13 billion has been released to the more than 1.2 million government employees in the form of the P1,000 increase in their Cost of Living Allowance (COLA);* Additional teachers and policemen can now be hired; and* The 10 percent salary increase for all government employees will proceed as planned starting July 2007.

Salceda, meanwhile, said that aside from the lowering of the budget deficit, the economy grew by 5.4 percent last year, a record of sorts for the country.

He also said that the country's debt service had decreased considerably and this allowed for more funds to be used for the government's priority projects.

"Our debt service last year was pegged at P864 billion but due to Secretary Andaya's brilliant leadership at DBM and because of the strong overall fiscal performance of the government, it was lowered to just only P601 billion," Salceda said.

Genuino, on the other hand, said that under the leadership of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, PAGCOR's profit had doubled and allowed more "social projects" to benefit more and more Filipinos.

Genuino said that a big chunk of the increasing PAGCOR income is being used to fund social payback projects for the people, including the administration’s "Patubig ni PGMA."

During the discussion, Tess Lumactud, chairperson of Barangay Baseco in Manila, and one of her constituents, Rosalie Cabinan, said the "Patubig ni PGMA" has at least 250 beneficiaries in their area.

Cabinan said that by being assigned as caretaker of the water project in Baseco, she is able to earn enough and send her children to school.

Devanadera, meanwhile, said that under the directive of President Arroyo, she was able to aim for "Zero Backlog" in the delivery of legal services to government corporations which need the services of the office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

Under the Zero Backlog scheme, all requests of corporations for legal opinions and contract reviews are undertaken with dispatch so that the requesting corporations will have no downtime in fulfilling their mandate.

Devanadera said she managed to double her agency's output of providing legal assistance and legal opinions and was able to reach 100 percent accomplishment in 2006.

The President reacted happily on the report of Devanadera, saying this would further help in eliminating red tape in government transactions.

The President has been extolling the strong cash flow and revenue collection of the government's revenue generating agencies due to her administration’s implementation of radical fiscal measures such as the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law and the National Attrition Law.

The EVAT Law increases the VAT imposed on goods and services from 10 percent to 12 percent, while the National Attrition Law imposes fines and other penalties on the revenue collection agencies such as the Bureaus of Customs, Internal Revenue and Immigration if they fall short of meeting their specified collection targets.

Gov't Blamed For Woe Of Pinoy Nurses

MANILA – “The decision of the CGFNS to disallow visa application for June 2006 Nursing Board Exam can only be blamed squarely on the government’s tolerance on the masterminds of the test leakage. There was indeed no closure, only cover-up”.

This was the reaction of Elmer Labog, of the party list group Kilusang Mayo Uno, on the ongoing problems the nurses are facing as the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), a US government agency handling the entry of foreign nurses declared a ban for nurses who took the June 2006 exams.

“Despite the public outrage about the leakage, no one was made accountable and everything was just swept under the rug. The R.A. Gapuz Review Center which according to witnesses was in the center of the leakage had not been investigated, along with the rest of the 19 individuals who were implicated as culprits of the leakage,” Labog said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“Although we have great faith on the capacity and credibility of our nurses, we cannot speak the same for the Professional Regulations Commission, the Board of Nursing and the government who neglected the leakage case filed by the nurses themselves,” Labog said.

“We cannot blame our workers seeking greener pastures outside the country since unemployment and underemployment here are running at double-digits. The trend of our medical workers going out of the country should and can be reversed. The budget for health care should be increase to accommodate more nurses and doctors and entice them to stay,” opined Labog.

“In the first place, our country is dire need of health practitioners, particularly nurses and doctors. Massive brain drain occurs because the present wages of health workers could not even make the healthy. If a doctor receives P 7,000 take home pay, then how can you expect them to stay?” Labog said.

“The Barinaga-Beltran Bill seeks to address this in part by increasing pay for private workers by P125/day while another bill pushes for a P3,000 across the board salary increase for government employees which medical workers can benefit from if approved. This should’ve been the priority of the legislators, along with the Baringa-Beltran Bill seeking for P125 wage increase rather than the Anti-terrorism bill,” Labog said.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) already waved a red flag on the continuing hemorrhage of our medical workers and proposed a substantial increase in benefits for medical professionals to make them stay,” he said.

AFP, Hugas-Kamay Sa Pagkawala Ng Isang CPP Leader

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) - ITINATANGGI kanina ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na dinukot o itinago nito ang isa sa itinuturing na mataas na lider ng Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) na si Leo Velasco.

Binigyang-diin ni AFP Public Information Office (PIO) Chief Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro na isang propaganda lamang ng komunistang grupo ang pagdidiin sa militar na nagtago umano sa gerilya.

Sinabi ni Bacarro na wala sa kanilang kustodiya ang rebeldeng lider batay na rin sa impormasyon ng military commanders nito sa Cagayan de Oro City.

Katwiran ng tagapagsalita, isang high ranking personality si Velasco at kung totoong hawak na nila ito ay agarang ilalantad sa publiko.

Hinahamon na ng rebeldeng grupo ang militar at pulisya na ilutang si Velasco na ayon kay CPP spokesman Gregorio Rosal ay dinukot ng mga tauhan ng gobyernong Arroyo.

Nagpadala na rin ng liham si Luis Jalandoni, chief peace negotiator ng National Democratic Front (NDF), kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo upang ilabas si Velasco na mayroong immunity dahil sa paggiign accredited consultant ng mga rebelde.

Puwersahan umanong tinangay ng mga operatiba ng PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group si Velasco noong Lunes at isinakay sa isang L300 na may plakang LCV 513 sa Cagayan de Oro.

"We have received information that they were summarily executed after being severely tortured," babala ni Rosal.

Ilang ulit na rin inakusahan ng mga militanteng grupo ang militar na umano’y nasa likod ng pagpatay sa daan-daang mga aktibista mula ng umupo si Pangulong Arroyo nuong 2001.
Itinanggi ng militar ang lahat ng akusasyon.

Nag-alok naman ng tulong ang Estados Unidos sa mga awtoridad ng Pilipinas upang siyasatin ang serye ng extrajudicial killings na ibinibintang sa AFP.

Sa panayam sa Kampo Aguinaldo, sinabi ni US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney na handa ang Amerika na makiisa sa mga paraan upang maresolba ang mga insidente ng political killings at mapanagot ang tunay na responsable.

"We'll certainly be delighted to do more. The sovereign nation of the Philippines needs to let us know how we can help," ani Kenney.

"If we can share ideas and thoughts on how to investigate, we're delighted to do so," dagdag nito.
Itinuturing ni Kenney na seryosong problema ang extrajudicial killings bagamat tinukoy na nito ang mga hakbang ng pamahalaan tulad ng magpapalakas ng pagpapahalaga sa human rights upang matigil ang naturang mga insidente.

"The key now is to follow up, to investigate, to fortify the institutions that investigate, to hold people responsible, therefore the innocent, declare them innocent," pahayag pa ng envoy.

Iminungkahi rin ni Kenney sa gobyerno na magbigay ng sapat na proteksyon sa mga testigo upang mapabilis ang proseso ng kaso.

Tikom naman ang US ambassador sa resulta ng pagsisiyasat ni UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston na iniuugnay sa militar ang 800 kaso ng pagpatay mula noong 2001. (Juley Reyes)

Coup Plotters Nakapuntos Sa Court Martial Hearing

TANAY, RIZAL (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) - BUMIGAY ang special General Court Martial ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sa matagal ng hirit ng mga abogado ng pinaparatangang nagplano ng bigong kudeta noong Pebrero ng nakaraang taon.

Kasunod ito ng ipinag-utos na pamamahagi ng sipi ng resulta ng pre-trial investigation na naging batayan ng mga kasong isinampa laban sa 28 opisyal ng Philippine Marines at Army Scout Rangers.

Gayunman, nabigo pa rin ang military court na mabasahan ng sakdal ang mga akusado bunsod ng patuloy na pagkuwestyon ng depensa sa legalidad ng panel na pinamumunuan ni Southern Luzon Command Chief Lieutenant General Alexander Yano.
Mahigpit ang pagtanggi ng mga opisyal na ma-arraign hanggat hindi nakukuha ang kopya ng pre-trial report.

Kasabay nito'y itinuturing ni Atty. Frank Chavez, tumatayong abogado ni dating Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda, na isang maliit na panalo sa kanilang panig ang desisyon ng general court martial.

"Finally, they capitulated. We do not crow on this petty development but in a way, yes," ani Chavez kanina.

Mayroong 15 araw ang mga abogado ng coup plotters na maghain ng reply o mosyon sa sandaling makuha ang kopya ng PTI report.

Samantala, naninindigan naman si Yano sa legalidad ng military court at magpapatuloy ang proseso nito hanggat walang atas ang Korte Suprema o Court of Appeals na ipatigil ang mga paglilitis. Ipagpapatuloy ang susunod na hearing sa Marso 16.
Samantala, ipinag-utos naman ng AFP ang paglilipat ng piitan ng mga opisyal ng Philippine Marines upang pag-isahin na ang mga dawit sa bigong kudeta.
Hindi na pinalabas ng Kampo Capinpin ang 9 opisyal ng Marines at si Army Captain Dante Langkit buhat sa Fort San Felipe, Cavite at Intelligence Security Group (ISG) detention facility at Naval detention sa Fort Bonifacio, Taguig kasunod ng isinagawang pagdinig ng General Court Martial sa kanilang mga kaso.

Ang isa pang Marine officer na si Lieutenant Colonel Januario Caringal ay naka-confine pa rin sa Manila Naval Hospital dahil sa sakit nito.

Isasama na ang Marine officials na kinabibilangan ni dating Marine Commander Major General Renato Miranda at Colonel Ariel Querubin sa kulungan ng 18 Scout Rangers kung saan ay nakakulong rin si Brigadier General Danilo Lim.

Pumalag naman si Querubin sa naturang hakbang ng AFP leadership na aniya'y hindi makatarungan para sa hindi pa convicted na inaakusahang opisyal ng militar.

"Ayaw namin," ani Querubin.

Hindi rin umano nagawang makapag-impake ng kanilang mga gamit ang 5 opisyal ng Marines na nakaditine sa Cavite bagamat naihanda naman nina Miranda ang kanilang paglipat.

Kasunod nito'y dumipensa si AFP Public Information Office Chief Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro sa direktiba ni Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. na aniya'y bukod sa ginhawa na maidudulot sa mga akusado ay mahalaga ang seguridad ng mga ito kaysa sa ibinibyahe pa mula sa Cavite at Maynila patungong Rizal. (Juley Reyes)

Zamboanga Firms Join National Trade Fair

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Several companies from the Zamboanga Peninsula region have confirmed their participation in this year’s National Trade Fair in Manila.

The Department of Trade and Industry said among the firms which will participate in the trade fair are YY Sea International, Mega Fishing Corporation, Tito Mike’s Food Company, Revil Crafts and Fashion Accessories and ADS Bamboo Craft.

These firms are regular participants to the NTF and are consistent top sellers in the categories of food, gifts, toys and house wares. The regional participants were also recipients of the coveted Best Dressed Booths awards in the previous NTF competitions.

The NTF 2007, according to its organizers, will highlight the country’s unique warmth and color through a fascinating array of arts and crafts made by Filipino artisans across the whole breadth of the Philippine archipelago.
“NTF 2007 is expected to depict and to celebrate the unique Filipino lifestyle”, said executive director Fe Aragoncillo, of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

This year’s trade fair will occupy three huge exhibition halls at the SM Megamall from March 14-18 and is expected to draw thousands of local and foreign buyers.

NTF is considered as the most important domestic marketing activity in the Philippines spearheaded by CITEM, an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). It provides the perfect venue for the country’s small enterprises to get noticed by exporters and distributors, both local and foreign.

NTF bridges the SME exhibitors to buyers through pre-arranged business matching sessions thereby opening vast opportunities for them to create or expand their market niches here and abroad. With NTF’s help, many SMEs have graduated to become big, profitable ventures according to CITEM.

This NTF 2007 will also highlight products produced under the so-called One Town, One Product (OTOP) program of President Gloria Arroyo.

To further entice buyers and visitors to the fair, other activities will be conducted side by side with the fair. These include livelihood seminars to be conducted in cooperation with the Cottage Industry Technology Center (CITC) and Philippine Chamber of Handicraft Industry (PCHI).

Also, the ASEA Japan Center (AJC) will conduct a packaging seminar for the exhibitors. This is to introduce new packaging ideas and technologies that will further boost the global competitiveness of Philippine-made products.
The DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade (BDT) will create special raw materials setting for seashells, woody vines, and climbing bamboo.

The setting will also include new process and applications of said raw materials. For those searching for suppliers of raw materials, BDT personnel at the fair site can help them access the Bureau’s extensive database of reliable raw materials suppliers in the country.

NTF 2007 is expected to surpass the P82.44 million sales and 20,000 visitors generated in last year’s NTF.
Aragoncillo said those interested to join the trade fair can go to the nearest DTI office or call the Special Projects Division, CITEM at Tel: (632) 8312336 and 831-2201 extensions 261 and 263; or fax them as (632) 832-3985 / 834- 0177. (Lowell Vallecer)

Photo: Central Mindanao police commander, Chief Superintendent Felizardo Serapio

STAY VIGILANT. Central Mindanao police commander, Chief Superintendent Felizardo Serapio speaks to policemen in Cotabato City. Serapio orders policemen to stay vigilant and work closely with local government leaders to ensure good coordination in maintaining peace and order in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service/Mark Navales)

“Against the Toxic Shower” Video Now In YouTube

DAVAO CITY - The roller-coaster ride of the people who pushed for the banning or aerial spraying in Davao City is now told in a clip featured in YouTube, a popular video hosting service in the internet.

Called Batok sa Makahilong Ulan (Against the Toxic Shower), the video traces the experience of the people—the communities affected by aerial spraying and various support groups—from the moment they started the campaign, the difficulties they hurdled, and their triumph.

The five-minuter video, created by an independent video producer who also shared the same advocacy, is being considered to be developed into a much lengthy video material which will also tackle in depth specific issues that confront people living within and around banana plantations.

The video was also recently shown some students of the Ateneo de Davao University during an environmental forum. Currently, copies of the video are being circulated among non-government organizations, people’s organizations, communities and schools.

A brief description of the video says the video was for the victims of aerial spraying and all victims of chemical poisoning. “The shower of toxic chemicals in banana plantations in the Philippine City of Davao has finally been put to stop by an ordinance passed by the city council and signed into law by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in February 9, 2007.

A lot of heartwarming and disheartening stories dense the struggle of the victims of aerial spraying and the people in various communities within and around the areas affected by the shower of toxic chemicals,” the description read.

“Aerial spraying is oppressive as it is destructive to the environment and deadly to animals and people,” it added. The video can be viewed using the tag “Batok sa Makahilong Ulan.” (Jeff Tupaz)

Iniwan Ni Mister, Ginang Nagpatiwakal!

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) - DAHIL sa sobrang pagdamdam sa paglisan ng kanyang mister ay winakasan ng isang 29-anyos na ginang ang sarili nitong buhay sa harapan mismo ng limang-taong gulang nilang lalaking anak sa Cagayan de Oro City.

Kinilala ng Cagayan de Oro police ang biktima na si Cresilda Hanayan na umano'y nagbigti sa isang puno ng langka sa harapan ng kanilang bahay sa Barangay Kauswagan gamit ang isang nylon cord. Dakong alas 5 ng madaling araw kamakalawa ito nagpatiwakal.

Sinabi ng pulisya na umakyat sa puno ang babae at binigti ang sarili habang inosenteng nakatingin ang kanyang anak. Nagulantang na lamang ang bata ng biglang tumalon ang ina at doon na ito humingi ng saklolo sa mga kapit-bahay.

Masama umano ang loob ng biktima nang iwan ito ng sariling mister. Hindi naman malinaw kung ano ang dahilan kung bakit hiniwalayan ito ng kanyang mister. (Romy Bwaga)

Kampo Ni Opposition Senator Villar, Inireklamo Ng COMELEC sa Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) - NAHAHARAP sa posibilidad na mapatawan ng parusa si opposition reelectionist Senator Manny Villar matapos itong kasuhan ng Comission on Elections sa Northern Mindanao dahil sa umano’y nagkalat nitong posters at streamers sa mga lugar na hindi designadong poster areas.

Ayon kay Cagayan de Oro Comelec officer Atty. Stalin Baguio ay ipinadala na nila sa tanggapan ni Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos ang mga ebidensiya laban kay Villar.

Bukod kay Villar kinasuhan din ng comelec nang parehong kaso ang party list group na Anak Mindanao. Ngunit karamihan sa mga naglalagay ng posters ng mga pulitiko ay mga bayaran rin. Kinuwestyon rin ng iba ang pagpapatupad nito dahil pede itong gamitin upang mana-botahe ng mga kalaban sa halalan.

Para hindi mahirapan ang Comelec sa pagpapatupad ng batas sa eleksiyon humingi na ito ng tulong sa Department of Interior and Local Government para magamit ang mga barangay kapaitan sa pagpapatupad ng Fair Elections Act. (Romy Bwaga)

Investment Risk Remains High In Philippines Due To Growing Terror Threats

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) – The Dublin-based Research and Markets warned Tuesday of possible terror attacks in the Philippines because of the alignment between the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya groups, blamed for the spate of bombings in the country.

“Terrorist strikes in the Philippines are likely to become increasingly frequent over the next 16 months. The alignment between the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah is expected to fuel terrorism as is the growing relationship between these organizations and the Rajah Solaiman Movement,” it said on its website

Rajah Solaiman was established in 2002 with the ostensible aim of creating a theocratic Islamic state across the Philippines—supposedly to rectify what it views as the artificial influx of Catholic and Christian influences that had been first introduced by the Spanish and then consolidated under the United States.

It represents a highly fanatical fringe element of Balik Islam — a legal movement of Christian converts or reverts as they like to be known to the Muslim faith.

Filipino authorities linked the Rajah Solaiman group to the 2004 bombing of the SuperFerry 14 off Manila that killed more than 100 passengers and the synchronized bomb attacks in February 2005 in Manila, General Santos City and Davao City that left scores of people dead and wounded.

The Research and Markets said the threat of terrorism will be further attenuated by weakening governance and increasing political and social instability.

The Philippines is to hold national elections in May, but this early the opposition fear that massive cheating may mar the polls to favor the administration candidates.

“Terrorism, political instability and social instability will undermine economic stability. Economic growth is likely to be much weaker than expected in 2006 and 2007 as personal consumption expenditure weakens and private investment continues to contract. Weakening economic growth will push the public sector borrowing requirement and the debt stock higher,” it further said.

It also said that the deteriorating economic and credit fundamentals are likely to trigger significant capital outflows from the Philippines, led by the country’s banking sector, which has turned increasingly toward exchange rate arbitrage for generating profits.

“Condor Advisers expects the peso to depreciate sharply in 2007 while the stock market, domestic fixed income market and international bonds all suffer serious corrections. Investment risk in the Philippines is high and will remain high through 2007,” it said.

Research and Markets is a leading source for international market research and market data, whose clients include major research publications from most of the leading publishers, consultants and analysts. (Mindanao Examiner)

Acclaimed Filmmaker To Hold Workshop On Video Documentary Production For Culture And Development Workers In Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) The workshop, from March 30 to April 15, is special hands-on intensive course designed for culture and development workers who wish to study the art and craft of the video documentary as an information and communication tool.

Participants shall learn strong foundation skills through carefully crafted modules aimed at focused learning, hands-on production, and the opportunity to make fully-realized short video documentaries.

They are expected to learn story development, scriptwriting, directing, lighting, editing and sound recording with emphasis on values that lead to social and environmental responsibility, community capacity building and empowerment, sustainable growth, and lasting peace.

The Workshop runs from March 30 to April 15, 2007 with the following phases:

1. March 30, 31 and April 1: Lecture and seminar on video production
2. April 2 to 14: Video Production Project
3. April 15: Screening and analysis

Lecture and seminar will be held in Davao City. Participants shall then be divided into small groups. These groups shall decide on the topic that they want to tackle and produce the video which shall be assembled into a short documentary.

The workshop shall be conducted by Bidadali House with Gutierrez Mangansakan II as main lecturer and facilitator.

Mangansakan is a development worker, heritage conservationist and educator, and an award-wining documentary filmmaker. His documentaries have tackled issues on health, women, education, the Bangsamoro problem, and conflict mediation and resolution.

Workshop fee is PhP 3,200 (inclusive of modules, certificates and snacks).

For information, please contact: Gutierrez Mangansakan II, Bidadali House or e-mail:,

Mobile: 0920.904.9336

Banana Workers Up In Arms vs Plantation Owner In South RP

DAVAO DEL NORTE – Banana plantation workers and members of the militant party list group, Anakpawis, picketed in front of the firm’s office and demanded payments of labor union benefits.

Workers from the Marsman Estate Plantation, Inc. said the firm was allegedly delinquent in the payment of their benefits under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA.

They also accused Marsman of non-payment of social security remittances and other government taxes.

Banana worker Doming Deguma, who is also the Anakpawis coordinator in Santo Tomas town, alleged that Marsman has been delinquent in giving their benefits as prescribed in the CBA.

"What frustrates us more is that the officers of the union that negotiated the CBA continue to be the purveyors of this capitalist exploitation. Instead of protecting our rights and demanding the release of our benefits, these officers are the first ones to tell us there's nothing we can do," Deguma said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

In 2001, the officers of the Davao Marsman Labor Union (DAMLU) negotiated the CBA that expired March last year. Deguma said that these officers are "parrots" of the management's interests, adding that such kind of leadership is called "yellow unionism."

Currently, the workers of MEPI are trying to establish their genuine union, the Marsman Labor Association for National Democracy-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (MARSLAND-NAFLU-KMU).

Deguma is also the president of MARSLAND-NAFLU-KMU.

But Deguma and the rest of the officers of their union are adamant. He said contrary to DAMLU's puppet claims, there is something that the workers can do.

In December of last year and early this month, Deguma said, the workers were able to force the management to release their wages following a series of successful pickets and lobbying.

"The workers now know that through these collective actions, we can assert our demands and secure our economic rights," Deguma said.

MEPI failed to release two consecutive payrolls in November last year and two more consecutive payrolls in January this year.

Editha Duterte, spokesperson of Anakpawis in Southern Mindanao, said yellow unionism is prevalent in the workers movement in the country.

"While genuine unions like MARSLAND-NAFLU-KMU campaign for higher wages, job security and the workers' democratic rights, yellow unions bow down to the whims and caprices of capitalists such as MEPI," Duterte said.

Last January 16, a certification elections (CE) was held among the workers which resulted to a run-off since none of the three contending unions garnered majority of the votes cast. The CE determines which union shall represent the workers in their CBA negotiations.

Deguma claimed that during the campaign period of the CE, the management of MEPI allegedly gave money to influence the workers into voting for DAMLU. "In effect, the unbridled and appalling connivance of the management and the yellow union DAMLU deprived the workers of establishing their genuine union," he said.

There were no immediate statements from Marsman executives or DAMLU officials.

Photo: Wounded Soldiers In Jolo Get Medals

Southern Philippine military chief, Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo comforts Tuesday 27 Feb 2007 one of 13 soldiers wounded in weekend clashes with a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front in the southern island of Jolo. The soldiers received medals from the general. The military accused the MNLF, which signed a peace agreement with Manila in September 1996, of aiding Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda terror network. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

Ama Inakusahan Ng Child Abuse!

ANTIQUE (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) – Nahaharap sa kasong kriminal ang isang ama matapos na umano’y pagmalupitan nito ang sariling anak sa bayan ng San Jose.

Ayon sa pulisya ay sag alit ng amang si Lyndon Capistrano Sr., ay binato nito ng pamalong may pako ang anak na si Junior at bumaon ito sa bungo ng 12-anyos na bata sa kanilang lugar sa Barangay Durog kamakalawa.

Kasalukuyang nasa pagamutan ang bata at pinagaaralan ng hustoi ng mga duktor kung paanong aalisin ng hindi malalagay sa panganib ang utak ng biktima.

Nagalit um,ano ang ama sa anak ng ito’y tawagin upang kuman ng tanghalian. Naglalaro sa tabing-ilog ang bata kasama ang mga kaibigan. Sa takot na magulpi ay tumakbo ito ngunit hinabol naman ito ng ama at ng hindi maabutan ay ibinato ang pamalo.

Sising-sisi naman ang ama sa naganap at nadala lamang umano ito ng kanyang galit. Sinabi ng ama na mahal na mahal niya ang sariling anak at pulos dasal ang ginagawa upang maligtas ang bata sa kapahamakan. (Mindanao Examiner)

Vigilante Killings Sa Cebu Natigil Na?

CEBU (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Feb) – Matapos ng halos 200 kaso ng sunod-sunod na pamamaslang ng mga umano’y vigilantes sa Cebu sa loob ng 2 taon ay buong tapang naman na sinabi ng pulisya wala ng magaganap na summary killings.

Ito’y matapos na batikusin ng United Nations at Estados Unidos ang walang habas na pagpatay sa mga political activists at mga inosenteng sibilyan sa bansa.

Umabot na sa mahigit 800 ang mga aktibistang napapatay at hindi pa kabilang ditto ang mga diumano’y vigilante killings sa Cebu, Davao at Zamboanga.

Sa Cebu ay ibinibintang ng mga kaanak ng bitkima ng pamamaslang sa mga awtoridad ito. Ilang ulit naman rin itong itinanggi ng pulisya.

Ngunit kamakalawa lamang ay dalawang lalaki ang itinumba ng mga di-kilalang armado gamit ang .45-kalibre sa Cebu.

Sinigurado naman ni acting Cebu City police chief Patrocinio Comendador na wala ng vigilantes sa lungsod. Karamnihan sa mga pinapatay sa Cebu ay pawing may mga criminal records na karamihan ay mga magnanakaw.
(Mindanao Examiner)

Mindanao Journalists Assail AFP, PNP For Spying On Free Press

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Filipino journalists expressed alarm Tuesday over spying activities of military and police agents on members of the media in the southern Philippines.

Journalists labeled the spying as "a graphic demonstration of the culture of impunity which has led to killings of a growing number of leftist militants and journalists in the Philippines."

The surveillance started February 14 in Salay town in Misamis Oriental province when armed soldiers identified as members of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Battalion took full-face photos of five journalists who were covering the burial of peasant leader Dalmacio Gandinao, the second militant leader slain in Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao.

Local newspapers have published the photos of soldiers involved in the surveillance of journalists, but the chief of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Jose Barbieto, denied his men were involved in the spying.

Manila Bulletin and Agence France Presse photographer Gerry Gorit said soldiers also took photos of him. This caused anxiety and sleepless nights, saying, he was violated.

The burial of the slain peasant leader was also attended by Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo and other regional and local leaders of Karapatan, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and the Misamis Oriental Farmers Association.

On Friday, the surveillance was repeated in a larger scale when at least ten military and police personnel in civilian attire and identified to be members of the 4th Infantry Division Civil Affairs Unit, the Philippine Army's Civil Relations Group and the Philippine National Police-Intelligence Division, trailed the indignation rally against the "Culture of Impunity" led by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club all the way from its starting point at the Misamis Oriental Capitol Gardens to the Cagayan de Oro City Amphitheatre in Plaza Divisoria.

"Again, we want to know what these shots are for. The next time it might just be another shot but of a deadlier kind," said COPC president Hugo Orcullo.

"They have been taking pictures of us since we started the rally," said DXCO station manager and former Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas-Cagayan de Oro chapter president, Jonas Bustamante. "I am coming forward to tell them that we know what they are doing and that we will not be cowed."

However, the Army's Press Corps director Vic Cabanag assured the military did not issue any orders ordering soldiers to conduct surveillance of journalists.

But he was quick to say: "If photos were taken and surveillance is being conducted on these media men, it is because they (soldiers) too are taking photos and doing surveillance works."

"As far as we are concerned, we guarantee the safety of all media within the 4th Infantry Division's area of responsibility," Barbieto added.

A police intelligence woman based in Cagayan de Oro City even went around brazenly taking photos of journalists who covered the burial.

The Army's 4th Civil Affairs Unit commander Maj. Samuel Sagun denied his group was involved in the surveillance. "4CMOU man yan, no longer 4ID. Headquarters Phil. Army na yan. Wala ako tao diyan. We're in a democratic country.You are in the AOR (area of responsibility) safest for journalists. Quote me," he said.

But soldiers who were confronted by journalists admitted taking orders from their superiors and said it was a routine surveillance.

Police Press Corps president Michael Angelo Bustamante said he was assured by Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan that protection would be afforded to Cagayan de Oro media.

Among those who attended the Friday's rally were Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) vice chairman and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and Monsignor Elmer Abacahin, Vatican Press Corps Representative and members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club.

Bishop Ledesma said the Church is one with the media in calling on government to stop the killings against media practitioners and give justice to the relatives of the victims.

"We join the media in condemning these killings and calling on government to resolve them in order not to (allow this) climate of suppression of freedom of expression," he said.

The rally was held on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the murder of Muhammad Yusop, the first journalist killed during the incumbency of Pres. Gloria Arroyo.

The anniversary coincided with the publication of the findings of the Melo commission and an investigation by the United Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Philip Alston.
Former COPC President Uriel Quilinguing noted it also marked the declaration of Proclamation 1017 last year that marked the start of a crackdown on media outlets. (Contributed by Rene Banos/


VOTE WISELY By Chris Navarra

Vote wisely is a decade old rallying cry whenever election time approaches. But come to think of this…how many do you think cares about this?

Hindi lingid sa ating kaalaman ang mga kamalian nitong mga nakaraan eleksyon. Ang masaklap pa nga ay baka bahagi tayo ng mga kamalian sa paglalagak ng mga karapat-dapat na tao upang maglingkod sa gobyerno.

Saksi tayo sa magkakasunod na mga rali at panawagan upang patalsikin si ganito, tutulan ang ganyan, ibagsak ang ganoon at iba pang sentimyentong nagpapakita ng pagkadismaya sa gobyerno sa kabuuan. Ang lahat ng ito ay nag-uugat sa eleksyon.

Isinasaad ng ating saligang batas ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino sa malayang pagboto. Pinagtitibay din ito ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 21 “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” Saad pa rito na “ The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of the government.” Ibig sabihin, kung ano ang mga hakbangin ng gobyerno ay repleksyon ng ating nais na mangyari sa ating bayan.

Anong punto? Simple lang nagpapakita tayo ng pagkadismaya sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon ng ating bayan at isinisisi natin ito sa gobyerno ngunit naisip ba nating ang boto natin ang nagbigay sa kanila ng kapangyarihang maupo sa gobyerno?

In 2 months time, eleksyon na naman. Pipili uli tayo ng labindalawang senador, gobernador at lokal na mga opisyal sa ating mga munisipalidad. So I believe it’s proper for us to come up with certain guidelines to avoid making the same mistakes again. History should not repeat itself this time.

Ngunit paano nga ba tayo pipili ng mauupo sa gobyerno? Ano ba ang maaari nating maging basehan upang mapili ang karapat-dapat na maupo sa posisyon?

Ngunit bago natin sagutin ang mga ito, dapat muna nating malaman kung ano ba ang hinahanap natin sa isang kandidato. The first step in choosing a candidate is for you to decide what particular issues you are concern about and what qualities you do want in a leader. Are you looking for a leader who is intelligent, famous, honest and credible, or just someone who has the ability to communicate?

Alamin din natin kung sino-sino ba ang mga tatakbong kandidato at ang partidong kanilang kinabibilangan. Maaaring meron nito sa peryodiko, telebisyon, radyo o kahit magasins. Makabubuting gumawa tayo ng listahan ng mga pangalan ng mga ito.

Magiging epektibo rin kung tayo ay magkaroon ng mga materyales na may mga write-ups patungkol sa mga tumatakbong kandidato upang pag-aralan. Maaari nating makuha mga ito sa mga peryodiko at internet. Suriin din natin ang kanilang mga TV ad upang magkaroon tayo ng ideya sa kanilang mga isusulong na reporma at programa sakaling manalo.

Suriin din natin ang posisyon ng mga ito sa kasalukuyang mga isyu o pangunahing problema ng bansa o lokal. We should go for candidates na may malinaw na plataporma at solusyon sa isyu ng edukasyon, kalusugan, benepisyo, sahod at iba pa na direktang nakakaapekto sa ating lahat.

Araling mabuti ang track record ng mga tumatakbong kandidato. Hindi kailanman dapat maging batayan ang pagiging artista o sikat upang makuha ang ating boto. Kung ito naman ay re-eleksyonsta o iyong nakaupo na at kakandidato muli,balikan natin ang mga pangakong binitiwan nito noong nakaraan at paglaanan natin ng oras na aralin kung ang mga ito ba ay kanyang nagawa o natupad. Sa ganitong paraan,nakakapili tayong kandidatong hindi puro salita at pangako lamang.

Piliin natin iyong hindi aabuso sa kanyang kapangyarihan. Iyong hindi gagamitin ang posisyon para sa kanyang sariling interes o ganansya. Meron kasing iba na tumatakbo lamang upang protektahan muna ang negosyo o negosyo ng angkan bago protektahan ang iba. Ibang isyu rin siyempre iyong gumagamit ng posisyon upang makapaghiganti sa iba. Lalo pa nga at talamak ang mga political killings sa bansa.

Let us also try to look for a candidate who gets priorities straight… one who is sensitive of the people’s need and those who won’t waste OUR money. Those candidates who have better judgment when it comes to spending priorities should be a plus. Iyong ibinabalik sa taong bayan ang buwis na binabayad nito at hindi sa pambayad utang ng bansa na hindi naman pinakinabangan ng mga mamamayan. Dapat ding maging prayoridad ng mga ito ang edukasyon na siyang isinasaad ng saligang batas.

As soon as we are able to accomplish all of these, there is definitely no doubt we can now make the right decision in choosing deserving candidates.

Pero hindi nagtatapos sa simpleng pagboto ang tungkulin natin bilang mamamayan. Dapat pa rin tayong maging mapagbantay sa lahat ng desisyon at hakbangin ng mga binoto nating kandidato. Hindi tayo dapat mangiming magrehistro ng mga hindi natin nagugustuhan sa kanilang pamamalakad lalo pa’t tayo ang direktang naapektuhan nito. Di ba sabi nga, “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of the government?” Ibig sabihin, tayong mga mamamayan ang dapat na magtakda kung ano ang gusto nating mangyari.

Elections present people with vital choices. Whether it’s a local race that will affect your community or a national race that could change the direction of the country, it is about time you consider the issues you care about.

In these trying times, the will of the majority of the people should take a valiant stand in this coming election. Ang ating kinabukasan ay nasa sarili nating mga kamay. Huwag nating hayaang agawin ito sa atin ng mga ganid at bogus na lider. Remain vigilant as we again face the danger of being ruled by the numbers.

Photo: Chiang, Patel and Yerby, Inc. Donates Books To Philippines' Water Environment Association

Chiang, Patel and Yerby, Inc., an international consulting engineering firm with headquarters in Dallas, Texas, recently donated books on water and wastewater treatment plants to the Water Environment Association of the Philippines (WEAP).
Commercial Attaché Thomas Brennan of the U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service (2nd from left) turned over the books to WEAP President Adonis Marinay (3rd from left).
The books, which were co-authored by Chiang, Patel and Yerby executive staff, present step-by-step procedures for the planning, design, and operation of municipal water treatment facilities and medium-sized wastewater treatment plants.
Bebe Montesines of the U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service and WEAP Board of Directors members Atty. Lyn Volante and Art Baylosis witnessed the turnover of the book donation.
Chiang, Patel and Yerby offers environmental, transportation, transit, aviation and specialty engineering services to municipalities and industries.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Militants Hold Rally, Demand For Release of Ailing Solon

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Feb) – The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno held a rally Monday outside the Philippine Heart Center in Manila to protest the continued detention of Rep. Crispin Beltran, who is facing rebellion charges.

Beltran, who repeatedly denied accusations against him, is under medication at the Philippine Heart Center. It was his first year of detention Monday, which coincided with the 21st anniversary of the People Power revolution.

Beltran’s supporters in the Philippines and progressive groups allied with KMU in Germany, Australia, Japan and the United States also held a similar rally to protest the politician’s illegal detention. KMU and another party list group, Anakpawis joined the “Free Ka Bel Movement” to demand Beltran’s release. Ka Bel is Beltran’s nickname.

"We will not abandon the fight for Ka Bel's release. Not even the malicious tagging of the AFP against our organization will stop us from campaigning for Ka Bel's release.”

“The campaign for his release is among our top priorities right now," KMU secretary general and Anakpawis Party List nominee, Joel Maglunsod, said in a statement.

Maglunsod visited the ailing politician early this week and they have discussed ways on how the solon can campaign for the Anakpawis party list despite his detention.

"Anakpawis Party List have filed petition for Ka Bel to campaign outside the PHC. We are expecting that Ka Bel can join as Anakpawis nominees officially file for candidacy at the Commission on Elections early next month."

"As of now, we are exhausting all legal means to free Ka Bel. But the government's stance on his case shows that Arroyo is very much afraid of Ka Bel and his capacity as a legislator and leader of the progressive people's movement," Maglunsod said.

In Davao City, the militant Bayan Muna party list, also criticized Arroyo and likened her to former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Arroyo was catapulted to power in 2001 after a people power-backed bloodless revolution toppled President Joseph Estrada, accused of pocketing illegal gambling money.

Arroyo said she would not run anymore, but broke her promise and in 2004 ran against Fermando Poe Jr., and won another 6-year term in a poll tainted with accusations of massive cheating and vote-buying. She said she won fair and square and denied allegations of cheating.

"She is delusional, ambitious and insolent. Never would the people tire from braving the streets of EDSA so long as Mrs. Arroyo stays in power and continues to employ Marcosian strategies in incessantly suppressing the people's cry for justice and genuine freedom," Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador said. (Mindanao Examiner)

U.S. Tennis Ambassadors Bring their Love of Sport to Filipino Children

U.S. Ambassador to Manila Kristie A. Kenney, P.J. Tierro, and young tennis enthusiasts from Ateneo de Manila University.

MANILA - Three American tennis professionals from the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) visited the Philippines recently to conduct tennis clinics for Filipino children and teenagers.

They held a Manila clinic at Ateneo de Manila University; other clinics were in Naga City, Butuan, Gingoog, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Cebu.

The USTA Goodwill Tennis Ambassadors, which were supported by the U.S. Embassy, also held instructor training workshops for local pros.

Students attending the youth tennis clinic at Ateneo de Manila on February 23 were treated to an exhibition match featuring P.J. Tierro, the top-ranked amateur tennis player in the Philippines, paired with U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney.

The pair challenged two of the USTA professionals to a rousing match cheered on by Ateneo de Manila students.
The USTA Goodwill Tennis program was developed to enhance the skills of local tennis trainers, coaches, and professionals using the newest techniques in coaching, motivating, and high-impact drills.

The USTA professionals take time off from their jobs to teach for free at local tennis clubs.

The Goodwill Tennis Tour first visited the Philippines in 1999. This year’s sponsors were the U.S. Embassy, Chris Sports, Head Philippines, Philta Northern Mindanao Region, and Fiesta Brands, Inc.

Militants Denounce Arrest Of Muslim Farmer In Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Feb) – The militan party list group, Suara, on Monday urged the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the illegal arrest of a Muslim farmer in the southern Philippine port city of Davao.

It said security forces arrested Nahar Darawi, 20, for a still unknown reason. It condemned the arrest that occurred Friday in Purok 5 in the village of San Isidro in Bunawan District.

"We have been warning about this and it is coming; the Moro people suffering the deadly effects of a law anchored on paranoia and the desire to curtail the basic rights of the people," said Zaynab Ampatuan, national deputy security general of Suara.

"We condemn this incident and all the incidents where the Moro people, the national minority, end up being victims of an oppressive government. What happened to Nahar Darawi is an additional proof that this government can tag any individual as terrorist, make unlawful arrests and detain without filing charges against the person," Ampatuan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Ampatuan said the farmer was arrested just after Friday’s Muslim prayers. Police and military operatives barged into the houses, even without search warrants, and seized Darawi and interrogated for hours, his relatives said.

"The military and police wanted some information from Nahar Darawi and they wanted it pathetically that they took him even without proper court documents. This just shows that civilians barely can trust their lives and freedom from very people who are supposed to secure them and assure them of free space for the exercise of this freedom," Ampatuan said.

Abubakar Uy, the party list’s secretary general in Mindanao, denounced the arrest.

"We also call on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate. This is not just a simple case of questioning and wanting to get information from a farmer. This is about the Moro people being the usual suspects. This is about harassment and profiling," Uy said.

Uy said the occurrence of this incident, along with other similar cases in Mindanao is one of the reasons why their group has consistently registered their opposition to the enactment of the anti-terror bill.

He said if such violations to basic human rights of the Moro and the rest of the national minorities are prevalent now, "how much more if such a hasty and vague legislation is implemented soon."

Last year, Rakman Camili, from Tagum City, was allegedly abducted by the military and had never been seen since then. Authorities linked Camili to the bombing of Sasa Wharf in April 2003 that left scores of people dead and wounded. (Mindanao Examiner)

Bagong Coup vs GMA Hindi Uubra: AFP

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 26 Feb) - HINDI papayagan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na maligalig ang posisyon ng Pangulong Gloria Arroyo at tiniyak na matatapos nito ang termino hanggang 2010.

Sinabi kanina ni AFP Public Information Office Chief Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro na matibay ang paninindigan ni AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., na walang makalulusot sa planong kudeta sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan.

"As long as the AFP remains committed sa mandate, well I think we will not resort to such extrajudicial undertaking," ani Bacarro.

Kumpyansa pa ito sa mga hakbang na ginawa ng liderato ng militar upang masigurong walang magiging sanhi ng demoralisasyon sa hanay ng mga sundalo.

Ipinauunawa na aniya sa mga miyembro ng AFP ang kasalukuyang mga pangyayari upang hindi agarang makaladkad o magamit ng mga grupong may pansariling interes.

Sa isang taon nang nakalipas matapos ang nabigong kudeta noong Pebrero ng nakaraang taon, sinabi ni Bacarro na lalong tumatatag at nananatiling buo ang institusyon.

Bukas ay ipagpapatuloy ng General Court Martial ang pagdinig sa Tanay, Rizal laban sa 28 opisyal ng Scout Ranger at Philippine Marines. (Juley Reyes)

Davao City Promotes Organic Agriculture, Dads Throw Support

DAVAO CITY - The Davao City government is now throwing its all-out support to organic agriculture, a timely move with the growing demand for safe and healthy food products and the consciousness for environmental-friendly farm practices.

Councilor Condrado Baluran, chairperson of the city council committee on agriculture, said the local government is supportive of organic agriculture farmers and in fact encourages other farmers to also practice the alternative agriculture.

“We know the dangers, all the harmful effects of these synthetic chemicals to people’s health and the environment and because of this, the city government is supportive of organic agriculture…we would like to see more and more farmers shifting from their current practice to the safer one,” Baluran said.

There are currently around 2000 organic farmers all over Davao City with around 300 hectares of farmlands all devoted to organic food production.

In a resolution passed recently in the city council, Baluran urged the city government to “promote, support and strengthen organic agriculture.”

The resolution calls on the city government to strengthen capacity building programs on organic agriculture to increase production of organically grown crops; enhancement of marketing and promotion strategies for organic products.

And development of policies in support of organic farmers; building of people’s organizations-nongovernmental organizations-government organizations institutional mechanism for wider collaboration of efforts in organic agriculture.

The resolution implored the policy of the state to protect and promote the right of the people to health and the duty of the state to provide the people with a balanced and healthful ecology.

It also quoted the government policy to “promote agriculture development, conserve environmental resources and promote social equity and product access to foreign and domestic markets of agriculture and fishery commodities.”

In December 2005, the national government issued executive order 481 or the Promotion and Development of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines. The said order aimed at promoting organic agriculture as a farming scheme especially in rural farming communities.

The same order also aimed at giving guarantee to food and environmental safety through ecological approach to farming.

“Consumer awareness of the environment cost of environment agriculture, such as deteriorating quality of drinking water and soil and the impact of agriculture on landscape and wildlife is increasing,” Baluran noted in the resolution.

In various organic farmer gatherings and consultation, one of the problems that confronted organic agriculture includes the lack of government support and mechanism to ensure the sustainability of the production.

Other problems identified were the lack of regular supply of organic products in the market; lack of marketing strategies and market facility for organic products; lack of farm-to-market roads; lack of consumer consciousness on organic products and farming practices. (Jef Tupaz)