Thursday, May 31, 2007

Video: CARAT 2007

(Mindanao Examiner Internet Broadcast)

SMS Warns Of Terror Attacks In South RP

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Police doused off public fears of terror attacks in General Santos City in the southern Philippines after cell phone text messages warned of an impending bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya.

It was unknown who spread the text messages, but police assured the public that there was no such threat. Police headquarters here have been flooded by calls about the threats.

The text message warned that a blue motorcycle would be used by terrorists to launch attack in General Santos. The bike, it said, would come from Maguindanao province.

Police said it would be impossible for the motorcycle to pass through layers of security and road blocks in General Santos City.

Officials appealed to the public to stay calm and vigilant. General Santos has been bombed many times in the past that killed and wounded scores of civilians. (Romy Bwaga)

Police, Military Tighten Security In Shariff Kabunsuan Province




COMELEC officers headed by lawyer Jocelyn De Mesa (2nd from left) reads the COC results during the Provincial Canvassing in ARMM Sanggunian Panlalawigan office, at the back are the representatives of the candidates with their Legal Council and watchers. The Provincial Canvassing held inside the Mindanao State University Maguindanao in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan Province.

The military tighten their security during the Provincial Canvassing because before the canvassing there is a grenade launcher explosion and strafing incident happened near the area. Another Gubernatorial candidate Tocao Mastura's and supporters denounce the canvassing because MSU Maguindanao is Datu Bimbo Sinsuat his political opponent territory.

A family walks in the isle were one of the tanks park near the Sanggunian Panlalawigan Office were the Provincial canvassing is on going. The military tighten their security during the Provincial Canvassing because before the canvassing there is a grenade launcher explosion and strafing incident happened near the area at 2am in the early morning. (Mindanao Examiner Photos/Mark Navales)




COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Philippine authorities tightened security in the southern province of Shariff Kabunsuan due to rising tension between supporters of opposing politicians.

Canvassing of votes in the May 14 national and local polls in the province has been disrupted many times by violence.

An explosion on Wednesday in the province sent policemen and soldiers scampering to secure vital government installations.

Army Col. Mario Mendoza, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, said he deployed troops to help local policemen secure the province, one of five under the Muslim autonomous region, from further violence and to allow the canvassing of the Commission on Elections.

Politicians accused each other of fraud and cheating to win the elections, especially in the gubernatorial race.

Regional police commander, Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, said they have put up road blocks and checkpoints to prevent the entry of illegal weapons that can be used to stir more violence in the province.

“I am really dismayed about the election here in Shariff Kabunsuan because of very obvious and rampant vote-buying during the election.”

“I personally saw ballot boxes brought to the Maguindanao provincial capitol before they bring them to the Mindanao State University where the canvassing is done” one village elder, Datu Kali, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Thousands of people held a rally on Tuesday to protest allegations by the opposition of massive cheating and fraud in the province.

Provincial elections chief, lawyer Jocelyn de Mesa, said they would continue the canvassing despite the tension in Shariff Aguak. (Becky de Asis, Special to the Mindanao Examiner)

Photo: Carat 2007




The United States Navy’s USS Harpers Ferry, a 16,500-ton amphibious warfare ship, and two 4,000-ton frigates, the USS Ford and USS Jarrett, and three smaller Filipino ships are participating in the ten-day war games called CARAT 2007 or Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training. Some 2,000 troops are involved in the training that begins Thursday, 31 May 2007 off the Sulu Archipelago where local troops are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya in the Sulu Archipelago. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

Kidnappers Free Hostages To Muslim Rebels In South RP

NORTH COTABATO (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Kidnappers have freed on Thursday four people they earlier seized in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Gunmen released the four to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the village of Balongis in North Cotabato’s Pikit town, said Col. Pedro Soria, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade in the province.

The release of the hostages previously reported as Caucasians came hours after the rebel group, backed by security forces, mounted a massive rescue operation.

But it turned out that only one hostage is foreigner, Thomas Wallart, a German national. Other reports identified the German as Wallraf, from Cologne. The others are Filipinos – May Sharon, the German’s wife; and Diego Daniel, the van driver; and Consuelo San Juan, a friend of the German couple.

"The victims were released to the MILF and they will be turned over to us," Soria told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

The four were heading to North Cotabato from Davao City onboard a van when gunmen flagged down their vehicle.

Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the four hostages were not harmed by the gunmen. “They are all alright,” he said.

Ferrer said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with Manila, offered to help track down the kidnappers.

The MILF has in the past helped the government rescue kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in Mindanao.

A rebel spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said the four would be handed over to the Philippine authorities and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team. “We are glad it’s over,” he said in a separate interview.

One of the hostage, May Sharon Wallart, said they were not harmed by the kidnappers, but shaken by the ordeal. "We are really thankful that they did not harm any of us. We are so tired and probably fly back to Manila to get some rest," she told reporters in Pikit town.

She said the gunmen, clad in military uniform, flagged down their vehicle at a checkpoint and seized them. "We did not think it was a kidnap because they were all wearing uniform like those of the soldiers. They took our belongings and tied our hands and took us away," she said.

The woman said she and her husband were in Pikit on a business trip. "We are into metal trading," she said.

Other reports said the German national is a treasure hunter.

The abductions coincided with the start of the ten-day joint amphibious war games between the Philippines and the United States.
Marine Major General Mohammad Dolorfino, chairman of the government Ad hoc Joint Action Group, said the abductors were bandits operating in North Cotabato.

“The MILF is able to react immediately and rebel forces sealed off the area where the abductors are holding the four victims and recovered them safely,” he said.

It was unknown whether the MILF arrested any of the gunmen. (With reports from Juley Reyes, Mark Navales and Juan Magtanggol)

Four Caucasians Kidnapped In Southern Philippines

NORTH COTABATO (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Unidentified gunmen seized four Caucasians Thursday in the restive region of the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said troops and policemen have mounted a search for the foreigners – two males and two females – who were abducted near Pikit town in the troubled North Cotabato province.

The four were heading to North Cotabato from Davao City onboard a van owned by Filipino businesswoman, Roselyn Timbal. It was unknown if she was with the foreigners or not and whether the driver was also abducted.

“We are tracking down the foreigners and their abductors. We still do not know who are behind the abductions and their motives,” Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Ferrer said the victims were herded to motorcycles that followed the van near the town. “Some people witnessed what transpired,” he said without further elaborating.

Other reports said the hostages were spotted in the hinterland villages of Balongis, Tinutulan and Balatikan, all in Pikit town.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group negotiating peace with Manila, also offered to help track down the kidnappers, the general said.

“The MILF has offered to help and we are closely coordinating with the CCCH and the ADJAG,” Ferrer said. Ferrer was referring to the MILF and the government’s Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities and the Ad hoc Joint Action Groups.

The MILF has in the past helped the government rescue kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in Mindanao.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and our forces are awaiting orders from the MILF about this problem and how we should help the authorities recover the foreigners safely,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said in a separate interview.

Kabalu, quoting MILF intelligence reports, said the four foreigners were flagged down in Pikit town by the gunmen.

The abductions coincided with the start of the ten-day joint amphibious war games between the Philippines and the United States.

And terror warnings by Australia and the United States about an impending attacks and kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya and other rebel groups operating in the southern Philippines. (With reports from Mark Navales and Juan Magtanggol)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Greets Philippines On Its National Flag Day

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Photo by Fox News)


MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 31 May) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cabled a message to his Filipino counterpart Gloria Arroyo to felicitate her, the government and the people of the Philippines on the country's National Day.


“President Ahmadinejad expressed the hope that through mutual cooperation of officials, both countries will witness further expansion and bolstering of relations,” the Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.


The Philippines on Monday celebrated its National Flag Day with parades. (Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gunmen Barge In House, Kill Occupant In Southern RP

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – A farmer was killed after four gunmen barged in his house in Davao City in the southern Philippines, police said.

Police said the attack occurred at around 5 a.m. Tuesday in the village of Pangyan in Calinan district in the city’s outskirts.

The man, Roselio Naypa, was shot in the head, police said.

“The victim was sleeping inside his house when the suspects knocked on the door of his house. When the victim opened the door, the suspects then shot him repeatedly with a .45-caliber pistol,” a police investigator said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on the so-called Davao Death Squad, a group of anti-crime vigilantes largely blamed on the spate of extra-judicial killings in the city.

Relatives and families of the gang’s victims have blamed the police and their private goons as behind the vigilante group. Carlito Perez, village chieftain, said Naypa had criminal records. (Romy Bwaga)

TVI Mining Firm Disputes Report!

MANILA – Canadian mining firm TVI announced on Wednesday that, while it applauds the mission and objectives set out in the recently published Rights & Democracy Report, entitled "Human Rights Impact Assessments for Foreign Investment Projects", the company is very critical of the flawed execution of the Philippines Case Study contained in the report.

TVI Pacific voluntarily participated in the Philippines Case Study, as the company is proud of its achievements in advancing human rights in the communities in which it is active in the Philippines.

The company believes that further progress in relation to human rights and the development of indigenous peoples is attainable with the benefit of an open dialogue involving interested parties and constructive input from objective third parties.

TVI Pacific is supportive of the Rights & Democracy goal to develop and test a methodology for human rights impact assessments for foreign investment projects and proposes to adopt a modified Human Rights Impact Assessment Methodology to augment the existing Social Impact Assessment approach for project scoping and development.

However, the Philippines Case Study included in the Report is, in the company's view, seriously flawed and factually incorrect in a number of important respects.

The case study was prepared not directly by Rights & Democracy, but rather by a "research team", which consisted of well-known opponents of the mining industry in general and TVI Pacific's Canatuan project in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte province in particular.

Predictably, the case study evidences a biased view of TVI Pacific's operations in the Philippines and completely ignores the positive effects of its numerous initiatives to improve the well-being and standard of living of the indigenous population in the area surrounding its Canatuan mine and its efforts to minimize the environmental impact of mining operations at the area.

"We expect it is more than simple coincidence that the conclusions and recommendations set out in the Philippines Case Study coincide with positions advocated by members of the "research team" over the past decade", noted Cliff James, President and Chief Executive Officer of TVI Pacific.

"Those organizations have consistently taken positions adverse to TVI Pacific over an extended period of time and the Philippines Case Study included in the Report provided them with another forum to propagate their agenda.

A central feature of that agenda is the prevention of new foreign financed mining projects in the Philippines, such as TVI's Canatuan project, and the repeal of the Philippines Mining Act, which certain of the members of the "research team" unsuccessfully challenged before the Philippines courts.

Not surprisingly, the "research team" largely ignored the very positive benefits that our presence in the Philippines has produced in the areas of human rights, health, education, security, employment, standard of living, culture, housing and freedom of association, all of which would be adversely affected if we were to suspend our operations at Canatuan as they wish.

In the report, Rights & Democracy indicated that it is not in a position to verify the facts stated in the case studies and disclaimed responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information set out in those case studies.

Having regard to the ideological and economic agendas of the groups comprising the Philippines "research team", a biased approach to the Philippines Case Study was foreseeable and we are disappointed that Rights & Democracy did not take steps to ensure a balanced, objective approach."

A more objective review of the human rights impact of the project would have included an assessment of the following initiatives introduced by TVI in the following areas:

Right to Health: Including the provision of a hospital; Operation Smile (that repaired a widespread harelip affliction); prevention of maternal and infant mortality; sanitation programs; and many more

Right to Education: Nine company-paid teachers teaching in six schools; 19 college scholars; 12 students receiving educational assistance; have provided schools and classrooms, and school supplies, computers and other instructional materials and equipment, continuing Indigenous People capacity building

Right to Life and Security: The security force has served as a deterrent to attacks from armed groups operating in the area making residents more mobile and safe even at night

Right to Work: Reference the large number of Subanons in active employment; the employment multiplier in the area; the on-the-job and pre-employment training

Right to an Adequate Standard of Living - In addition to wages and employment: the livelihood programs, the entrepreneurial developments, the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, transportation, and more

Right to Culture: Reference the program of Subanon cultural promotion, art workshops, youth camp focusing on cultural promotion, community museum

Right to Self-determination: The representatives of the majority of the indigenous community, supported by the majority, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement that provides a Royalty of 1% of gross revenues and many other benefits and rights

Right to Housing: The company is constructing the new Tanuman village and other housing projects

Respect for the Right of Freedom of Association: Recognition of both new and traditional institutions and the dignity of the indigenous leaders: the Council of Elders, the Siocon Subanon Association Inc., the Siocon Subanon Women's Association Inc., the Community Youth Achievers

It is also important, from a human rights perspective, that the presence of TVI has intensified and is continuing to increase the presence of government and government services in a location where the State was previously absent.

Among the mechanisms to achieve this goal has been a partnership of TVI and the local government to deliver a number of joint projects for the benefit of the community, including a spillway to facilitate transportation to the Municipality, and the promotion of sports and community projects.

”That said,” James said, “our activities are a work-in-progress and we have made significant advances since the time of the study. Our interaction with the Canadian team from Rights and Democracy has strengthened our implementation of rights sensitive programming.“

“In addition, we share the sensitivity of all right-thinking people to the issue of conflict and armed security in Mindanao; we are working to implement the principles of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and we are working in a number of ways to contribute to demilitarization of the region - from the provision of economic development and jobs, to rethinking security management.”

Among other things, TVIRD recently appointed a Vice President of Social Commitment, Feliece I. Yeban, who was previously a professor of Human Rights Education and was once deputy chair of Amnesty International Philippines.

Yeban has complete responsibility for all of TVIRD's social development and community relations initiatives in the Philippines.

The company's social commitments program is being fashioned within a human rights paradigm in keeping with the Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights (the "UN Norms for Business").

TVI Pacific noted that its disappointment with the Report also extends to a failure on the part of Rights & Democracy to uphold its commitment to TVI to provide a draft copy of the Report to the Company for comment, and to arrange a meeting with the Philippines "research team" for discussion, prior to finalization of the Philippines Case Study.

Allowing interested parties to comment on a draft report is also identified as an essential component of the methodology described by Rights & Democracy in the Report.

Step 7 of that methodology, as set out in the Report, reads, in part, as follows: "The draft report will be circulated for comment among all parties.

The nature of unresolved disputes and should be clearly articulated and included in the final report, but the research team maintains responsibility for the final content."

Despite repeated requests, TVI Pacific was not provided with a draft copy of the report for comment, but rather received a copy of the final report on May 28.

TVI Pacific Inc. is a publicly traded Canadian mining company focused on exploring for and producing precious and base metals within district scale systems in Asia.

In the Philippines, TVI's most advanced project, the Canatuan Mine (the first foreign-invested, new, mining project in the Philippines since the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995) began mining and milling operations in mid-2004, producing gold and silver dore through its affiliate TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Ltd. ("TVIRD").

In 2006, TVIRD received a completed NI 43-101 feasibility study on the Canatuan Sulphide project prepared by Norwest Corporation.

The report has been filed with certain securities regulatory authorities in Canada and is available at the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. The Norwest study addresses the copper-zinc bearing massive sulphide zone, or lower portion of the Canatuan Deposit. Construction of the Sulphide Project at Canatuan is now underway.

In addition, TVIRD holds a 2.5% NSR on the Philippine-based Rapu Rapu project operated by Lafayette Mining Ltd. Exploration in the Philippines is being conducted at Canatuan, in an effort to expand TVIRD's mineral resource base and to find new deposits, at Balabag and at other areas which management of TVI view as compelling exploration properties.

TVI also has a Drilling Segment consisting of Exploration Drilling Corporation ("EDCO"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TVI Pacific Inc. based in the Philippines, and Hunan Pacific Drilling ("HPD"), a segment of HPGEI based in China, which generates revenue from contract drilling.

Father Gets Life For Abusing Own Girl In Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – A Filipino court has convicted a father to serve jail time for life after he was found guilty of raping his daughter in the southern Philippines.

Judge Pelagio Paguican, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 12, handed down the decision and ordered the man, Juanito Jayin, a construction worker, to compensate her 16-year old daughter with some P125,000 in damages.

The girl was she was sexually abused by her father in 2003 and hid the crime for fear that she would be killed.

She said her father poked a knife at her throat and threatened to kill her if she would not undress and have sex with him. She was raped inside their own house.

She eventually told her mother about the rape and went to the police to tell her harrowing ordeal from a man of her own blood and flesh.

The father has repeatedly denied the charges, saying, it was all made up by his wife after years of quarrel over family matters.
The judge said the victim's testimony was straightforward and more credible than her father. “The prosecution was able to convincingly prove the guilt of the accused in the case,” he said. (Romy Bwaga)

And The Struggle Continues...

NORTH COTABATO - Peace talks between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been sidelined by the recent national and local elections. A story published on the newkerala.com reports about struggle of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Mindanao.

Since the age of 15 Muslim rebel Datumanong Lumanggal has fought countless battles against government troops in the southern Philippines to defend his peoples' rights and identity.

Through the years, Lumanggal said he saw numerous friends and relatives killed in clashes with soldiers on the hills of Carmen town in North Cotabato province, 960 km south of Manila.

Now, the 54-year-old father of three grown-up children is waging a different kind of battle aimed at uplifting the lives of men who fought with him as commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which used to be the largest Muslim separatist rebel group in the southern Philippines.

Lumanggal and his wife are leading a group of close to 300 MNLF fighters turn the battlefields of Carmen into a bountiful field of mango, banana and corn plantations in the village of Kitulaan.

"We lost money in our first mango harvest but our bananas and corn are doing well," Lumanggal said.

"But through the help of GEM (Growth with Equity in Mindanao) technicians, we hope to improve our mango harvest and make a profit during the next fruiting season," he added.

Lumanggal and his men are among 28,000 of an estimated 70,000 MNLF combatants who have received financial and technical support from the US-funded GEM programme aimed at helping them reintegrate into the mainstream of society.

The GEM programme was started after the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in September 1996, raising hopes of development in the southern region of Mindanao, where decades of strife has hampered economic and social growth.

Aside from livelihood projects, the GEM programme also built basic infrastructure as farm-to-market roads and bridges in communities, affected by the conflict in Mindanao.

While Lumanggal said he was thankful for the assistance from GEM, he was worried of the larger number of MNLF fighters who have yet to reap the benefits of the 1996 peace pact.

"The help is not enough," he said. "A lot of MNLF fighters are still waiting for help. Some of them are getting desperate. I hope their plight could be addressed soon or else trouble might start again."

In the mountains in nearby Shariff Kabunsuan province, more than 200 MNLF fighters gathered in a show of force to a group of journalists.

Commander Magid Bantu said his group of more than 1,000 fighters continues regular military training, but was not engaged in recruitment activities since it is not allowed under the peace agreement.

Bantu pointed to thatched houses in various degrees of decay, the unpaved dusty feeder road and the dilapidated school building, as proof of the continued poverty among the country's Muslim minority.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "We are still living in poverty and government services are few and far between. We are tired of fighting but how else can we be heard. Our options are very limited."

Bantu, 56, expressed serious concern that the continued neglect would force MNLF fighters to go back to the hills and renew their armed struggle.

The Philippine government has admitted that lack of funds has hampered the implementation of the agreement with the MNLF, but stressed that it was doing everything to help spur development in Mindanao.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has in fact placed the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF on the top of her administration's agenda.

"Maybe the government thinks that we are already past our prime as fighters," he said. "But it has to remember that a new generation of disillusioned young Muslims are growing and they would not hesitate to continue our struggle, even if it means going back to the hills."

Extreme Poverty Drives Woman To Kill Self In South RP

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – A Filipino woman, despondent over the family’s extreme poverty condition, committed suicide in the southern province of Davao Oriental, police said on Wednesday.

Police said the 44-year old Berlita Cahilig was found dead inside her room next to a bottle of pesticide in the village of Mahayag in Lupon town on Tuesday.

Investigators said the woman had been telling her neighbors about their poverty and the failure of government to help the poor.

Many Filipinos live below the poverty line and the lack of government livelihood programs have aggravated the situation in many areas in the Philippines’ poorest provinces. (Romy Bwaga)

Tropa, Ibabalik Na Sa Metro-Manila!

QUEZON CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Inirekomenda ni Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region Command (AFP-NCR) Chief Major General Mohammad Dolorfino ang pagbabalik ng tropa sa kalakhang Maynila.

Sa kanyang isinumiteng ulat kay AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., ipinunto nito ang pangangailangan ng presensya ng militar sa Metro Manila bunga na rin ng nananatiling banta ng insurhensya at terorismo sa rehiyon.

Mandato aniya ng militar ang protektahan ang lipunan bukod pa sa naging epektibo ang pakikipag-ugnayan nito sa mga barangay para magsakatuparan ng mga proyektong makakatulong upang masugpo ang insureksyon at kriminalidad na bumubulabog sa National Capital Region.

"The National Capital Region is not spared from the threats of insurgency, the terrorism so we have to do something in order to be proactive in confronting the threats," ani Dolorfino.

"As far as we concerned, we see to it that we will continue or CMO (civil-military operation) activities. Our view is we should continue our peacetime role as an active partner of local government units," dagdag nito.

Una nang na-pull out dahil sa eleksyon ang tinatayang 260 sundalong kabilang sa civil military operations sa 19 na barangay sa Manila, Quezon City at Caloocan City matapos ang anim na buwan na pananatili ng presensya nito.

Binanggit rin ni Dolorfino sa after operations report nito kay Esperon ang sinasabing accomplishment tulad ng pagsuko ng walong miyembro ng terorista sa Tondo, Maynila.

Natapos na ang refresher training ng mga sundalo at naghihintay na lamang ng go-signal buhat sa AFP Chief kung babalik ang mga ito sa komunidad. (Juley Reyes)

Armas Nasamsam Mula Sa NPA Sa Mindanao!

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Philippine troops clashed Wednesday with communist insurgents in the outskirts of Gingoog City in the southern province of Misamis Oriental, officials said.

The fighting erupted in the village of Kalipay at around 8.15 a.m., Major Samuel Sagun, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said.

He said there were no military casualties. It was unknown if there were gunmen killed or injured in the clash. He said patrolling troops clashed with about a dozen members of the New People’s Army.

“The fighting lasted about ten minutes,” Sagun told the Mindanao Examiner.He said troops recovered two automatic rifles and munitions left behind by retreating gunmen.

Other officials said a suspect in the killing of a government soldier also surrendered in Davao del Sur’s Don Marcelino town. The man, Nestor Cawa, brother of a notorious bandit leader Danny Cawa, turned himself in to the Philippine Army.

Cawa was chief suspect in the murder of Corporal Reynaldo Tubongbanua, of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion. Officials did not say when the soldier was killed. (With a report from Juley Reyes)

2 Ex-Aide Ni "Garci" Nasa PDEA Na!

QUEZON CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Nabigyan na ng bagong posisyon ang mga nagsilbing security aide ni dating Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commission Virgilio Garciliano makaraang makaladkad ang mga pangalan sa sinasabing mga akusasyon ng dayaan noong nakalipas na May 2004 elections.

Kinumpirma ng mapagkakatiwalaang source na nakatalaga ngayon sa Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) sina Army Captains Marlon Mendoza at Valentino Lopez.

Diumano'y tinangka ni Lopez na suhulan ang opisyal ng Comelec sa Western Mindanao na si Atty. Helen Aguila-Flores nang halagang P50 milyon upang matiyak ang pagkapanalo ni Pangulong Gloria Arroyo at isang kandidatong alkalde sa Zamboanga.

Tumestigo naman si Mendoza sa imbestigasyon ng Senado noong Agosto 2005 na naghayag na nagyabang diumano noon si Garcillano sa isang inuman na nagbigay ng P300 milyong kontribusyon ang isang jueteng lord para sa kampanya ng Pangulong Arroyo.

Si Mendoza ay magugunitang nahaharap sa court martial dahil sa umano'y pamemeke ng P8 milyong halaga ng ID ng Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Si Lopez ay sinasabing nakaposisyon ngayon sa complaint reaction unit ng PDEA.

Katwiran ng source, bagamat may kasong kinakaharap ang mga dating aide ni Garcilano, hindi pa naman ito natutuldukan at wala pang parusang ipinapataw.

Dagdag pa ng source, si Lopez ay agaran rin umanong naitalaga makaraang maipuwesto si dating AFP Chief of Staff General Dionisio Santiago sa PDEA.

Hindi naman agad makumpirma ang naturang impormasyon at lahat ng alegasyon ukol sa dalawang opisyal. (Juley Reyes)

Filipino Activist Risks Life, Liberty To Air Protest vs. Human Rights Abuses

Dennis Maga protested on Monday in a steel cage outside Parliament in Wellington. (Photo by Mark Mitchell)



MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – The militant trade union, Kilusang Mayo Uno, on Wednesday said local authorities are to arrest a Filipino political activist who led an anti-Arroyo protest in New Zealand during a state visit by the Philippine leader.

It said it uncovered a plot by the Philippine government to arrest Dennis Maga, spokesman for the “Free Ka Bel Movement” and a senior KMU member.

Maga’s protest during President Gloria Arroyo’s state visit in New Zealand drew international media attention after he was joined by hundreds of unionists in denouncing the spate of political killings in the Philippines and the continued detention of a militant lawmaker Crispin Beltran, also known as Ka Bel.

In Wellington on Monday, Maga stood in a cage outside The Beehive as Arroyo and Prime Minister Helen Clark held a media conference.

Maga said his country needed to stop human rights abuses and free Beltran who has been in prison for more than a year on what his supporters said were spurious coups plotting charges.

“Arroyo is known for her vindictiveness and we will not be surprised if she personally instructed the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) to arrest Dennis Maga once he gets into the country,” Elmer Labog, KMU national chairman, said in a statement sent to the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Labog said they were informed by BID sources that an arrest order has been issued for Maga once he arrives home Sunday.

“Dennis even e-mailed us and verified the information from his own sources inside the BID. He said in his email that they would create trumped-up charges and arrest him.”

“The case of Maga will serve as a litmus test on whether Arroyo’s word to New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark on respect for human rights will hold water. Any harassment on Maga will erase Arroyo’s ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ strategy when it comes to human rights,” Labog said.

Labog group also appealed to Clark to issue a statement against the possible arrest of Maga.

“Many of our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement in New Zealand have expressed concern on Maga’s safety and have made commitments to pressure their own government to uphold human rights," he said.

The National Distribution Union on Wednesday also said that supermarket distribution workers in New Zealand have walked out in support of Maga after learning news of his possible arrest in Manila.

It said Maga was calling his one-year old son, Elijah, to say happy birthday when he learnt that his house was under surveillance by police and that he faces arrest on his return.

Maga was invited by the NDU and Unite Union to talk to workers about the repression and killings of trade unionists, journalists and church leaders by the Filipino military and police.

Two-hundred previously locked out NDU Progressive distribution workers gave Maga a standing ovation and walked out to mount a spontaneous show of solidarity on the same spot where they held their pickets last year.

NDU site delegate Daniel Patea said that Filipino workers and unions had supported the locked out workers.

“Filipino workers helped us when we struggled during our lockout last year and so giving support to Dennis who faces arrest and even assassination is the least we could do.”

“President Arroyo has told Helen Clark, your government and the interfaith dialogue that she is addressing human rights violations in our country,” Maga said. “But here I am, facing arrest for simply exposing the continuing abuses by our military and police.”

The NDU and the Council of Trade Unions said they would ask the Prime Minister to get assurances from Arroyo that Maga will not be arrested.

Maga told reporters in New Zealand that he feared he would be assassinated or arrested for his stand. He said human rights abuse was continuing in the Philippines.

"I am really worried for my family's safety because they might invent a charge against my father and my wife and my family just to pressure me to return to the Philippines," he said.

The Filipino leader ended her three-day state visit in New Zealand and Presidential Assistant Heherson Alvarez said Arroyo is bringing home at least $1.22 billion in investments.

From this amount, the biggest beneficiary is the environment sector with $1 billion going to a reforestation project, $150 million in a gold mining deal, $40 million for the local wood processing industry, and $30 million for the export of Philippine tropical fruits to New Zealand.

Alvarez said the $1 billion reforestation project which Arroyo announced during the meeting with the Filipino community in Auckland would be financed by CK Tan of Shannolane, based in New Zealand.

The reforestation project in Prosperidad town in Agusan del Sur province in Mindanao is scheduled to start as early as October this year.

After the New Zealand visit, Arroyo headed for Australia, the first Philippine President to visit the country in over ten years. Australia is a major ally and strong economic partner of the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Militar Balisa Kay Trillanes!

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Umaasa ang ilang opisyal ng militar na hindi magsisilbing inspirasyon sa mga batang sundalo ang napipintong pagkapanalo ni dating Navy Lieutenant Seniorgrade Antonio Trillanes sa Senado.

Ayon kay Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres, Jr. hindi malayong may mga mag-idolo ngayon kay Trillanes at subukang gayahin ang isinakatuparan nitong pagrerebelde at kahit na nakakulong ay may tsansang maging senador.

Isa si Trillanes sa nangunang junior officers nang isagawa ang nabigong mutiny sa Oakwood Hotel, Makati City noong Hulyo 2003.

Si dating Senador Gregorio Honasan umano ang nagsilbing halimbawa ng mga batang opisyal ng militar sa kanilang hangaring ipaglaban ang kalagayan ng mga sundalo at linisin sa korupsyon ang sistema ng gobyerno at Armed Forces.

Si Honasan ay magugunitang dating Colonel na nakisangkot rin sa ilang insidente ng pagrerebelde sa pamahalaan subalit paulit-ulit na nailuluklok sa gobyerno.

Gayunman, malinaw naman aniya ang itinatadhana ng regulasyon ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Articles of War laban sa sinumang magiging pasaway sa hanay ng militar at walang sinuman ang makakalusot dito.

Iginigiit pa ni Torres na may proseso o sistema sa militar para sa pag-aksyon ng anumang hinaing o problema sa institusyon.

Ngunit ayaw man ng militar na sumikat si Trillanes ay hindi makakaila ang kagustuhan ng maraming mga sundalo na magwagi at maupo ito bilang senador.

Maraming sundalo rin ang sumuporta kay Trillanes nuong nakaraang halalan sa kabila ng banta ng kanilang mga commander na nangangampanya diumano laban sa failed coup leader.

Sa Zamboanga City lamang ay nakapaskil ang campaign poster ni Trillanes sa loob mismo ng Edwin Andrews Air Base ng Philippine Air Force. Siguradong gagawan ng paraan umano ni Trillanes na makulong ang mga tiwaling opisyal ng militar at pamahalaan sakaling manalo bilang senador at isulong ang interes ng Armed Forces.

Sa pinakahuling partial and official tally ng Commission on Elections, nakapako sa ika-11 puwesto si Trillanes o pasok pa rin sa Magic 12 ng senatoriables. (Ulat nina Jukey Reyes at Juan Magtanggol)

Making a lasting IMPACT: Flexible teaching system transforms public elementary schools





LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER. Incoming grade 4 student Lemuel Ian Cua of Culianan Learning Center helps his classmate solve a mathematical problem on fractions. The Culianan Learning Center has been implementing the electronically enhanced Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers (e-IMPACT) system – a revolutionary, non- traditional, and flexible learning program supported by USAID’s Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) project that trains students to become peer group leaders while teachers facilitate a class of more than 80 students ranging from grades one to six.
A MIX OF EVERYONE. Tom Crehan, Chief of the Office of Education, USAID/Philippines talks to incoming grade six students in Maasin Learning Center. With him is Edsel Francisco, the school principal. In the background, a teacher oversees a peer group leader practice a reading exercise for grade one pupils. The electronically enhanced Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers (e-IMPACT) system allows one teacher to handle 80 to 100 students clustered according to grade levels in one classroom.
EAGER LEARNERS. Elementary students of Maasin Learning Center in Zamboanga City take advance lessons on math to prepare for their role as peer group leaders in the coming school year. An in-service training on math was given to their teachers this summer by USAID ‘s Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) project to help them develop the higher order thinking skills of students in concepts such as fractions, geometry, whole numbers, and pictograph.
ALL READY. All geared up for school. A total of 4,100 teachers including master teachers and supervisors from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were trained on teaching beginning reading during a summer training series held in 63 venues from April 9 to May 5. The wide-scale capability building activity was jointly sponsored by the USAID's Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) project and the BEAM project of the Australian Agency for International Development. When the school year opens in June, a reading program based on the training will be piloted in 18 schools in ARMM. In the Philippines, predominantly Muslim populated region has the lowest student academic achievement owing largely to the poor competencies of teachers. (Photos contributed by EQuALLs)


ZAMBOANGA CITY - Incoming Grade 4 pupil Joshua Bue and some of his schoolmates go to school even on summer to take math lessons from their newly trained teachers.

When Joshua returns to school in June he will assume the role of a peer teacher. Last April, teachers from the Maasin Learning Center, a public elementary school tucked within canning plants and other industrial plants in this city, had an intensive training on math to help them develop the higher order thinking skills of students on basic concepts such as fractions, geometry, pictograph, and money.
Passing on new strategies to students like Joshua is crucial in a non-traditional school like Maasin Learning Center where students learn while they teach and teachers act as instructional managers.

Maasin Learning Center is one of two schools in Zamboanga City that operates under the electronically Enhanced Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers (e-IMPACT) system – a revolutionary, non- traditional, and flexible learning program supported by USAID’s Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) Project.

In this set-up, the teacher, known as the instructional manager, facilitates the class and gives advance lessons to students who teach their peers.

e-IMPACT was designed by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Education Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) and adapted in the late 70’s by the Department of Education (DepEd) to help deal with insufficient classrooms and to taper off the incidence of drop-outs in public elementary schools.

But budget limitations forced the DepED to suspend the program’s implementation in the early 1980’s, with only one of the three pilot schools—the Culianan Learning Center in Zamboanga City— continuing to execute the project.

In the opposite side of Zamboanga City, away from the canning factories and into small fishing villages lies Culianan Learning Center, the e-IMPACT pilot school now fast becoming a resource hub for other schools and organizations wanting to implement the system.

In Culianan as in Maasin, there are no specific room assignments per grade level, such that some Grade 1’s share a room with Grade 3 and Grade 6 students especially if they are siblings or they come from the same neighborhood.

Believing that education is the process of learning and not merely the acquisition of facts, lessons in a mini-class, composed of up to 15 pupils per grade level, are taught by a peer group leader or program teacher like Joshua and other classmates who take their turns teaching one subject.
“We found IMPACT to be very effective in improving our students’ academic performance especially when they go to high school. Our graduates always top their class once they are out there! This inspired us to push through with it even without much government support,” said Josefina Lacastesantos, Culianan’s school principal.

She was among the first batch of teachers trained to efficiently handle the multiple mini- classes under the non- traditional set-up. In June 2006 after three decades of toiling on their own, USAID, through its EQuALLS project, assisted Culianan in revising and then reprinting 600 learning modules—equivalent to the traditional school’s textbooks—based on a culture-responsive Revised Basic Education Curriculum.

As two of the more than 800 EQuALLS-assisted schools in regions 9, 12 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Culianan and Maasin enjoy the benefit of having continuous teacher and administrator training, intensive on-site mentoring; and advocacy support from EQuALLS.
Assistance for the conduct of monthly meetings, contributions for materials for classroom refurbishment, provision of additional books and other learning materials, as well as Math and Science kits were also extended. For the past decades or so, Maasin’s community of multi-cultural groups of Sama, Tausug, Yakan, Badjao, and Christians rarely concerned themselves with school matters.

Maasin Learning Center adopted e-IMPACT only last school year. But already it has successfully transformed its physical as well as academic status in the region. It now has ten classrooms that cater to more than 800 students. A two-classroom building was donated by the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

“At first, it was quite difficult to explain to the parents why the school needs to adopt the system, but we were quick to let them see the benefits. We have even just completed an in-service training on math this summer which we are now testing on our students,” said the school principal Edsel Francisco.

e-IMPACT combines traditional, teacher-based instruction, peer tutoring and self-paced learning as it strengthens the participation of parents and the community in improving quality and access to education.

“This is a better experience for me because I learn a lot from my classmates and they also learn from me,” said Lemuel Ian Cua, who was formerly enrolled in a nearby traditional school, but moved to Culianan in the middle of the school year.

By passing the periodical tests, he was able to catch up with the lessons and enjoyed being a peer group leader during his afternoon class for the rest of the last school year. e-IMPACT’s focus on self-paced learning allows for the multiple entry and exit of students who are in challenging situations.
This virtually eliminates the incidence of student dropout particularly those located within Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas. It allows one teacher, or instructional supervisor to efficiently manage up to 100 students clustered according to grade level under one roof.

Drawing from the success of Culianan, EQuALLS chose the first school in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Baas Learning Center in Lamitan town in Basilan island to implement the innovative education system.

According to Saudi Daud, Baas instructional coordinator (principal in traditional school), barely six months after adopting the e-IMPACT strategy in June 2006, the number of non-readers and slow-readers has noticeably dwindled from 55 to 20.

“e-IMPACT was devised to address the problem on classroom shortage and the high incidence of dropping out especially in economically- deprived areas,” explained Dr Teresa Mukamad, area coordinator for the EQuALLS2 Project. In the case of Lamitan, drop out rates have considerably trimmed down from as high as 20 to zero. It was a welcome development for a community of at least 3,000 predominantly Yakan Muslims, who used to see some of the fiercest fighting between government troops and rebel groups.

Overall, Daud said, the new strategy has helped solve classroom and textbook shortage. From having a single textbook for every 20 students, Baas Elementary School now has learning modules for all its 406 students.

It was not until late last year that the 30-year-old school produced its first distinction when a student won the provincial level Essay Writing Contest.

“Under e-IMPACT, children are more interested to go to school because they are given a chance to actively participate in the learning process. Instructional supervisors told me to prepare the school as we anticipate higher enrollment this coming school year,” Daud said.

RP, US War Games Starts Off Sulu Archipelago

The USS Harpers Ferry is surrounded by Filipino trawlers off the southern Philippines where some 2,000 U.S. and Philippine troops are to begin Thursday, 31 May 2007, a ten-day joint amphibious warfare called CARAT 2007, Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training, in the Sulu Archipelago, where local security forces are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya. About 6 ships from both countries will participate in the war games. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)



ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – The Philippine military on Wednesday tightened security at sea in the restive southern region where some 2,000 U.S. and Filipino troops are to begin a joint amphibious training.

Locals on Wednesday cheered from the sea coast as they waved at the USS Harpers Ferry anchored off Zamboanga City.

The ship is one of three that the United States sent to participate in the ten-day war games called CARAT 2007 or Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training starting on Thursday in the Sulu Archipelago, where local troops are battling members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiya.

The ship is being protected by U.S. and Philippine patrol boats. Filipino trawlers were also spotted near the USS Harpers Ferry.

The Philippines is also sending three smaller ships in the war games which will be held off Basilan island.

“There will also be joint medical mission in Zamboanga and Basilan (island),” Ensign Annaleah Palad, spokesperson for the Philippine Navy, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippines is a staunch ally of the United States in the so-called global war on terror. Hundreds of U.S. troops are currently deployed in Zamboanga and Jolo island and other parts of Mindanao to help the Philippine military defeat local terrorist groups, blamed for the spate of bombings and kidnappings of foreigners in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Maguindanao Folks Denounce Opposition, Threaten To Stage More Rallies!

Some of the protesters in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Fidayen Ramos)


MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Muslim villagers on Wednesday have threatened to stage more street rallies to protest what they say is “undue” allegations that there was massive cheating in the recently held national and local polls.

On Tuesday, more than 20,000 Muslims from across the province held an indignation rally and condemned the opposition for tagging Maguindanao as an area where fraud and cheating had catapulted President Gloria Arroyo’s 12 senatorial candidates in the polls.

Opposition bets have failed to gather enough votes in Maguindanao.

“We supported our leaders and the President and our supports spelled victory for all the TEAM Unity senatorial candidates,” Hakim Abubakar, a farmer, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Abubakar said his family voted straight for the TEAM Unity after the governor of the province, Andal Ampatuan, and his son, Zaldy, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), appealed for their support.

“It was a vote of confidence to the datus, the “knights in shining armor” of the Lakas-Christian, Muslim Democrats,” said another party leader, Hashim Lisondra.

He said they would go to street again if the opposition continues to accuse the Muslims of cheating in the polls.

Ustadz Farid Solaiman, chief of the ARMM Madaris Education Bureau, said the gathering of voters at the provincial capitol was also a “tacit indication” of a strong belief by ethnic Maguindanaons to religious teachings espousing “obedience” to leaders.

Solaiman said it is the verse in the Koran, “atiy Allah, wah atiy or rasul wa umil amri ingkom’ (obey Allah, obey the Messenger (Prophet Mohammad) and obey those who lead over you) that catalyzes the political solidarity of the datus in Maguindanao, a known hotbed of Islamic militancy.

“Of course, this political solidarity comes through the concept of shura, or consultation among the people the datus lead,” Solaiman said in a separate interview.

Organizers of the rally, which lasted for five hours, denounced what they described as “classic stereotyping” of the Moro voters in Maguindanao with allegations there was cheating in the province in favor of the Team Unity senatorial ticket during the May 14 polls.

All of Maguindanao’s 22 mayors, almost all of them virtually unopposed during the elections, joined the rally together with thousands of supporters.

“So immense was the show of support to us that if we allow all of our followers to come along, shops will close in the town centers, flow of traffic in the province will stop for the whole duration of the rally,” said Mayor Shamer Uy of Datu Piang, Maguindanao’s oldest town.

The elder Ampatuan, who is also chairman of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat party in Maguindanao, said he cannot understand why the opposition simply cannot accept the reality that as early as 2004, all of his constituent-mayors already declared the province as “GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) country” to project their patronage of MalacaƱang as a “center” of government power.

Ampatuan said that during the 2004 Presidential and national elections, mayors in the province gave some 200,000 votes for Arroyo, with her closest rival, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr., trailing far behind with only more than 60,000 votes.

Ampatuan drew a long applause from the protesters when he said in jest that while he was an avid fan of Poe, he did not support his bid for the presidency for fear he could no longer appear in the movies once elected president.

“I want to see more of his action films. He was a good actor and was so loved by the Moros for his being an actor. Letting him sit in MalacaƱang as president would also mean an end to his acting career,” Ampatuan said.

Sulu’s newly-elected governor, Sakur Tan, said the opposition should learn to accept defeat in Moro communities, which are known for a strong “block” voting tradition.

Tan and Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali, both political allies of the Ampatuans, agreed one reason for the overwhelming loss of the opposition senatorial candidates in many areas in the ARMM is the absence political leaders that openly campaigned for them.

“Campaigning for opposition senatorial candidates in the ARMM would be like selling costly water in sealed containers to the people dwelling in the surroundings of the vast Lake Lanao where water supply is free,” Tan said. (Fidayen Ramos)

6 Insurgents Yield In Southern Philippines

Col. Alexander Dicang, deputy commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, assisted by Lt. Col. Emmanuel Sison, commander of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, receive assorted weapons from six New People’s Army rebels on Monday, 28 May 2007. (Photos by Allan June Molde)



PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 30 May) – Six communist insurgents have surrendered to the Philippine military after a series of negotiations that took security officials three months to finish, the local Philippine Information Agency said on Wednesday.

The six men – all Subanen tribesmen – also surrendered their weapons to the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion in the village of Diplo in Zamboanga del Sur’s Kumalarang town early this week.

“After one year and eight months in the underground movement, the six Subanen folks who joined the CCP-NPA finally decided to return to the mainstream of society and start a new life with their families,” said Army Lt. Col. Emmanuel Sison.

Sison presented the insurgents, members of the New People’s Army, to Col. Alexander Dicang, deputy commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, based in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

The surrender of the six coincided with the Army’s medical mission in Diplo and was witnessed by hundreds of villagers led by the town’s Mayor Allan Damas.

Those who surrendered were identified as Salibutan Balibes Jr, Julindo Hapitan Gias, Lumambo Lagungan Damo, Junjie Gon Supring, Jen Ligisan Giginan and Arnel Papahan.

The six claimed to have operated under the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) Front Committee Kara under Commander Palis in Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.

One of the rebels, who acted as leader of the group, said he was a former gold miner in Bayog town in Zamboanga del Sur and was recruited by the NPA in exchange for a monthly pay of five thousand pesos. He was then earning only three thousand pesos, not enough to sustain his family.

“But like the rest, I was deceived and did not receive any money from the NPA and I made a mistake and wanted to correct it and so we all decided to return to the folds of the law. There are still more who wanted to yield, but are afraid that the rebels will kill them or harm their families. We need to help them,” he said.

He said his group wanted to defect from the underground long before but it was not easy to escape from the organization.
“As we became enemy of the government, we have to be in a constant move to evade getting caught, but we also can no longer withstand living a life with a bleak future in the mountains – away from their loved ones,” he said. (With a report from Allan June Molde)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Photo: Mangrove Used As Firewood



A village store in Jolo island sells mangrove. Illegal cutting of mangrove in the southern Philippine island of Jolo (top photo) in Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga City in Mindanao continues unabatedly and authorities do nothing to stop the locals from destroying the marine habitat of many animals and fishers. The wood is used as firewood and sells five pesos ($0.10) a bundle. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

Gunmen Kill 2 In South RP

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Gunmen shot dead two people in separate attacks in the troubled region of the southern Philippines, police said Tuesday.

Police said armed men barged in a house in the village of Magsaysay in Compostela Valley’s New Bataan town and killed Gloria Magalon.

The 54-year old woman was preparing breakfast fro her family when the gunmen shot her in the head. The woman, police said, died instantly in the weekend attack.

Gunmen also shot dead the 15-year old Randy Bilinario inside his house in the village Cogon in Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur province.

Provincial police said the victim was just resting inside the house when the suspects barged inside and shot him with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The motives of both attacks are still unknown, police said. Just last week, a motorcycle gunman also shot dead a young woman, Venus Maquiran, in a broad daylight attack in Panabo City in Davao del Norte province.

Police said the woman was heading for work on her motorcycle when the gunman drive by her side and shot her in the head.

Extra-judicial killing is common in the dangerous region of the southern Philippines, where murder can be contracted for as low as one hundred dollars. (Romy Bwaga)

Philippines To Get 28 Patrol Crafts From Australia

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Manila is to benefit from Australia once a security pact is signed between the two countries, a Filipino defense deputy said.

Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor said the Philippines is to receive 28 patrol crafts wort some four million dollars from Canberra once the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) has been signed.

The defense cooperation agreement, he said, is expected to be signed soon.

The agreement contains key elements such as the basis of visits, entry and departure conditions, how training and exercises are to be conducted, carriage of arms, security and criminal jurisdiction, provisions, importation and exportation regulations and environmental protection

The accord is aimed at enhancing military capabilities of both the Philippines and Australia in fighting terrorism and transnational crimes, he said.

The Philippine Army is likely to get most of the boats which would be used in patrolling Mindanao’s huge marshlands, used by rebels to launch terror attacks.

Aside from patrol crafts, Australia would also spend four million dollars annually to train Filipino troops in anti-terrorism warfare.

The Philippines is also working for a similar military cooperation with Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. Manila is currently holding joint anti-terrorism training with the United States. (Juley Reyes)

Attend Last Session Days, Solon Tells Colleagues

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) - Barely five days to go before the 13th Congress resumes again for the last time, Senator Mar Roxas once more called on his fellow legislators to attend the last three plenary session days and the forthcoming meetings of the Bicameral Conference Committee, to help push the approval of a bill seeking quality and affordable medicines.

“This is a very important piece of health legislation. Providing quality and affordable medicines to our people is a moral imperative. It should no longer be delayed, he said in a statement sent Tueasday to the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.

“I ask my colleagues in both houses of Congress to exercise political will and pass this bill into law before the session ends,” he said.

He noted that next week would be the last chance for legislators who belong to the 13th Congress to address the urgent need of ordinary Filipinos for quality and affordable medicines.

Congress will resume on Monday, June 4, after almost a four-month break, and is expected to adjourn sine die on June 6.

Roxas, who is primary author and sponsor of the bill, also welcomed the active engagement of stakeholder groups in making sure that the landmark legislation is passed within the 13th Congress.

These groups include British aid agency Oxfam, the 3CP Net (Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network), AGAP (Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-kayang Presyo), Third World Network, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) among others.

“I greatly appreciate the activities being organized by stakeholders in support of this bill. These vigilant efforts are very helpful in preventing those who are blocking this bill from succeeding.”

“This snowballing of support makes the quest for cheaper and affordable medicines more worthwhile,” he added.

The Liberal Party stalwart also ensured that a consolidated version of the bill is already underway, as constant communication among the technical staff and with the concerned sectors is being held.

“Even before the bicameral meetings are held, we’ve been in constant communication with our counterparts in the House, with government agencies involved and stakeholder groups, and our staff are doing consolidation of drafts of the bill,” he said.

Provided there is a quorum, the House is expected to pass the bill on 3rd reading on Monday. The Bicameral Conference Committee will then convene to iron-out the disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill.

After which, a Bicameral Conference Committee report proposing a consolidated version of the bill will be transmitted to both Chambers for ratification.

The consolidated version will then be sent to the President for signature. The Senate has approved Senate Bill 2263 on Third Reading on January 31, 2007.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has passed its version—House Bill No. 6035—on Second Reading last February 20, 2007.

8 Wounded In NPA Ambush!

QUEZON CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Communist insurgents ambushed a military patrol and wounding at least eight soldiers in Aurora province, north of the Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the attack occurred late Monday and sparked a gun-battle that lasted more than 30 minutes.

The army soldiers repulsed the New People’s Army gunmen and officials said a still undetermined number of ambushers were believed killed and wounded also.

But the military report about the enemy casualties was difficult confirm and troops failed to recover any corpses from the area.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been fighting to topple the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the mainly Catholic country.

Peace talks between Manila and rebels collapsed in 2004 after the CPP and NPA and the National Democratic Front, its political arm, were included by Washington on its list of foreign terrorist organizations on the government’s prodding.

President Gloria Arroyo has declared an all-put war on the NPA, numbering about 8,000 scatter across the country.

CPP leader, Jose Maria Sison, and other senior communist leaders are in exile in The Netherlands. (Mindanao Examiner)

Power Struggle Patuloy Sa RPA-ABB!

BACOLOD (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Patuloy ang power struggle sa pagitan ng mga lider ng Revolutionary Ploretarian Army-Alex Bongcayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) sa Bisayas at posibleng samantalahin ito ng New People’s Army (NPA) upang tuluyang mawasak ang pundasyon ng break-away group.

Umiikot ang kapangyarihan ng RPA-ABB sa dalawang kilalang lider na sina Lualhati Carapalli, na siyang chairman ng partido at Nilo De la Cruz, na nagsasabing siya ang tunay na pinuno ng rebeldeng grupo.

Inakusahan ni Dela Cruz ng kung anu-ano si Carapali at ilang mga commander nito at sinabing tinanggal na ng RPA-ABB ang grupo.

Ngunit pinasinungalingan naman ito ni Carapali at sa katunayan ay si Dela Cruz umano ang siyang nag-traydor sa RPA-ABB at posibleng arestuhin upang litisin.

Ikinatuwa naman ng NPA ang kaguluhan sa loob ng RPA-ABB at binansagan traydor ang nasabing grupo dahil nakipagsabwatan umano ito sa pamahalaang Arroyo upang was akin ang NPA.

Matindi ang hidwaan ng NPA at RPA_ABB at madalas magsagupaan ang dalawang grupo sa Bisayas at ibang bahagi ng bansa. (Mindanao Examiner)

Protests, Rallies Shame Arroyo In New Zealand





Anti-Arroyo protests in New Zealand. (KMU photos contributed to the Mindanao Examiner)

MANILA - Delegates to the interfaith dialogue hosted by Prime Minister Helen Clark at Waitangi in New Zealand, were left in no doubt about the real issues of peace, security and tolerance that should be on their agenda, the National Distribution Union said on Tuesday.

Banners reading "Stop the Killings Gloria" and "Stop the Killings in the Philippines" highlighted the appalling record of human rights violations under President Gloria Arroyo, a co-host of the forum, it said.

Dozens of white wooden crosses were planted in the ground at the entry to the treaty grounds to symbolize the 858 extra judicial killings during the Arroyo regime.

Photographs of slain protestant Bishop Alberto Ramento and other victims showed the human face of this travesty.

Renowned New Zealand law professor Jane Kelsey said that crosses planted at the entry to the Copthorne Hotel made it impossible for Arroyo to miss the protest when she arrived to address the conference.

"Our noisy reception sent President Arroyo a clear message to stop the killings, for which the UN rapporteur holds her ultimately responsible," she said. "Equally, Helen Clark was challenged for hosting someone with a proven record of gross human rights violations.

"It's no longer acceptable for our Prime Minister to claim that she has raised these issues with President Arroyo. Past assurances have been shown to be worthless. The time has come for the New Zealand Government to put its money where its mouth is. Instead of channeling 'technical assistance' funding to the Philippines government that is responsible for the violations, it should direct that money to the churches and other independent human rights advocacy organizations."
A local Maori leader, Arthur Harawira, also led a protest on his ancestral grounds.

"I challenge the hypocrisy of the New Zealand government for holding this event on the sacred grounds of Waitangi in an attempt to give legitimacy to an illegitimate occasion,” he said.

Harawira drew links between the struggles of Maori with the struggles of the indigenous peoples and workers in the Philippines.

Dennis Maga, spokesman for the "Free Ka Bel" movement, urged inter-faith participants not to sit at the table with governments, like that of President Arroyo, who are responsible for gross human rights violations in their own countries.

"Yesterday, another UCCP pastor Berlin Guerrero has been abducted and found tortured by the Philippine National Police and charged with inciting to sedition dating back to 1991 and 1992."

"This reality flies in the face of President Arroyo’s assurances repeated at the press conference yesterday that her Government was fighting to improve its record in the killings," he said.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno said Tuesday President Arroyo humiliated herself in New Zealand by not telling the truth about state of human rights in the Philippines.

It also said that Philippine authorities are planning to arrest Maga as soon as he returns to Manila from New Zealand for leading the protest against Arroyo’s visit.

"Reliable sources have informed us that the Philippine government is planning to arrest Dennis Maga upon his arrival from New Zealand on June 2. Obviously, Arroyo was embarrassed in New Zealand that's why Malakanyang is posing to arrest Maga and further suppress the advocates of democracy," Maria Theresa Dioquino, KMU International Affairs Secretary, said in a statement sent to the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Maga was among the protesters who rallied against President Arroyo at the Parliament during her state visit to New Zealand.

He was hosted by the National Distribution Union of New Zealand, also supporting for the release of Anakpawis solon Crispin Beltran, who has been tagged by the Philippine military as an alleged supporter of the Maoist rebel group, New People’s Army, the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines.

"We are just stating facts about the Arroyo government's grave human right violations. It is Arroyo who embarrassed herself when she flagrantly lied about the state of human rights in the Philippines.

The young labor leader was 'caged' outside the New Zealand Parliament as his symbolic protest against the Philippine government's continued detention of Beltran.

The incident stirred huge media attention from New Zealand and the Philippines and the international media.

The protests countered Arroyo's boasting of her 'exemplary' human rights record in the Philippines.

Labor unions and progressive groups in New Zealand which are allied with the KMU and FKBM condemned Beltran’s continued illegal detention and the spate of political killings in the Philippines.

While activists criticized President Arroyo, Malakanyang issued a statement boasting her strong pitch for the promotion of interfaith dialogue to bring about lasting peace, political stability and economic growth in Asia.

"In Mindanao, we have taken steps to bring interfaith forces to bear upon a peace process that has resulted in a three-year ceasefire and monumental strides in economic growth," she said.

Extolling New Zealand’s role in the Mindanao Trust Fund, President Arroyo hailed the key role Prime Minister Clark plays in fostering interfaith dialogue in the resolution of conflicts, the promotion of peace and economic growth.

The Mindanao Trust Fund is intended for the development of Mindanao.

"I am here as a follower and participant to promote interfaith collaboration in education, security, social development and media," she said.

The President said that apart from its assistance to Mindanao, New Zealand plays a major role in East Asia’s "determined journey of consolidation since last year."

"As chair of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), I have witnessed the warming of ties between ASEAN, China and Japan within the context of common prosperity and collective security," she said.

She pointed out that "East Asia is coming of age in this millennium as a global leader for equitable trade with a clear social dividend and solid security with a soft touch. Our relations with New Zealand are incorporated in this paradigm."

Noted for its commitment to human rights, protection of the environment, peace and interfaith dialogue, New Zealand brings to East Asia, the "soft strategies that guarantee peace, reinforcing the hard elements such as joint military training and law enforcement operations that we share with allies like Australia and the United States," the President said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Leprosy, Kalat Sa Negros!

NEGROS ORIENTAL (Mindanao Examiner / 29 May) – Alarmado ngayon ang Department of Health sa lalawigan ng Negros matapos na mapansin ng mga eksperto ang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga taong may sakit na ketong o leprosy.

Nagbabala na rin ang DOH sa publiko na maging maingat sa kanilang sarili at kalusugan upang mahawa sa nasabing sakit. Base sa records ng DOH ay may mahigit sa isang dosenang kaso ng ketong sa Nagros Oriental ngayon taon.

Nuong 2006 ay 11 kaso lamang ang naitala. Ngunit posibleng mas malaki pa ang bilang ng mga hindi naitatala o yun mga taong may ketong ngunit natatakot na lumantad.

Karamihan sa may ketong ay mistulang kandilang nauupod dahil ganito rin ang nangyayari sa part eng kanilang katawan, partikular sa mga paa at kamay. May mga bukol rin ang katawan ng isang may ketong.

Ang ketong ay sanhi ng “mycrobacterium leprae” at matagal ang gamutan nito at kadalasan ay taon ang ibinibilang. Noon ay inihihiwalay ang mga may ketong sa publiko dahil sa takot na ito’y kumalat, ngunit ngayon ay marami ng gamot upang labanan ang sakit.

Kabilang sa mga ito ay ang antibiotics na rifampin, dapsone at clofazimine. Ngunit ang prescription nito ay tanging sa mga eksperto o duktor lamang makukuha. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, May 28, 2007

HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS By Hurricane Harry

This brief blog entry takes you through a series of negotiations over time between peacemakers and terrorists:

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of a line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker introduces himself. The terrorist kills him.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker asks, "why did you kill my friend?" The terrorist kills him and rapes his wife.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker says, "Stop that!" The terrorist kills him, rapes his daughter and kills his wife.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker says, "I'll pay you $1000 if you stop attacking us." The terrorist agrees to the deal, takes the $1000, and kills him.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker appeals to the United Nations. The United Nations says the peacemaker is at fault. The terrorist kills him.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker now has a gun, and threatens to use it. Other peacemakers start chanting the old 60's whine, "Can't we all just get along?" The peacemaker hesitates. The terrorist kills him.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker tries to convince his peacemaker friends that the terrorists aren't going to respond to negotiations, but they insist that if he kills the terrorist it'll just make the other terrorists mad. The peacemaker reluctantly agrees to try negotiating again. The terrorist kills him., his entire family, and his neighbor's family.

A heated debate now ensues between the peacemakers who want to be nice to the terrorists and the peacemakers who believe that there can never be peace until the terrorists are all dead. While they are debating, the terrorists kill 15 more peacemakers.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker asks himself, "Which is more important: being liked by everyone, or protecting my family?" The terrorist pulls a knife to kill the peacemaker, but the peacemaker pulls a gun and kills the terrorist first. The United Nations condemns the peacemaker's use of unproportional force. Many of his peacemaker friends turn against him.

A peacemaker walks up to the left side of the line. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line. The peacemaker apologizes for what his friend did to the other terrorist. The terrorist kills him, his entire family and his neighbors, and threatens to destroy the city as soon as they develop a bigger weapon.

A peacemaker refuses to meet at the line because every time a peacemaker goes to the line the terrorist kills him. A terrorist walks up to the right side of the line and fires rockets into the peacemaker's town. The United Nations condemns the way the peacemaker provoked the terrorist by refusing to come to the line and meet with him.

Generations pass and not much changes until one day when the son of a peacemaker decides that the old strategy simply won't work. He walks up to the left side of the line a little early. As the terrorist approaches the right side of the line the peacemaker shoots him. Another terrorist approaches to replace the first, and the peacemaker shoots him too. This scene plays out several more times.

Then a terrorist approaches carrying a white flag, but he also has weapons. The peacemaker shoots him. A terrorist next approaches with a ceasefire resolution from the U.N. The peacemaker shoots him also. A large group of terrorists approach and the peacemaker shoots them all and drops a nuclear bomb on the city they came from. The peacemaker continues killing the terrorists until the terrorists are all dead.

There is finally peace on earth and the United Nations takes the credit. (http://hurricaneharry.blogspot.com)

MILF Rebels To Hunt Down Jemaah Islamiya Terrorists In Mindanao!

A young MILF fighter aims his M4 automatic rifle during a routine combat training in southern Philippines. The MILF says it will help Filipino authorities hunt down members of the Indonesian terror group, Jemaah Islamiya, hiding in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Mark Navales)



MAGUINDANAO (Mindanao Examiner / 28 May) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said it would help Filipino authorities hunt down members of the Jemaah Islamiya hiding in the restive southern region of Mindanao.

A rebel spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said the MILF and the Philippine military are closely working for the arrest of Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and other JI militants, especially Dulmatin and Umar Patek.

Jakarta tagged both Dulmatin and Umar Patek at behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 mostly Western holidaymakers.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has authorized a new reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Zulkifli bin Hir, who was believed to be involved in multiple deadly bomb attacks in the Philippines.

Zulkifli bin Hir, who allegedly heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization, has been added to most-wanted list of the Rewards for Justice Program, administered by the Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

The U.S. State Department said Zulkifli bin Hir has been present in the Philippines since August 2003, where he is believed to have conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf.

His younger brother, Taufik bin Abdul Halim, Dany, was involved in the 2001 Jakarta Atrium Mall bombing, and currently is in detention in Indonesia. (With reports from Mark Navales and Juley Reyes)