Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Japan Renews Commitment To Peace In Mindanao

Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura and Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema. (Abdullah Cusain/Mindanao Examiner Photo)


COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 31, 2007) – Japan on Wednesday renewed its commitment to support the peace process in Mindanao island in the southern Philippines.

Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura flew to Cotabato City and met with the local mayor Muslimin Sema, also the Secretary General of the former Muslim rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996.

Katsura also inaugurated a center that offers women training on mat weaving.
“The Ambassador stressed that they are here to help in peace-building and that their assistance is open to all and not just limited to conflict-affected areas. Ambassador Katsura stated his admiration for the natural wealth of this place and said that it could have been richer if not for the armed conflict,” Sema said.

Katsura was also accompanied by Yasunori Nakayama, the Embassy’s political minister; Yoshihisa Ishikawa, the Embassy’s First Secretary and Nagaishi Masafumi, senior advisor for reconstruction and development of Mindanao program and also a member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

Manila is currently negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a strict Islamic state in Mindanao. (Abdullah Cusain)

The Mindanao Examiner Oct. 29-Nov. 04, 2007



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Poll Watcher Killed In South RP

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 31, 2007) – A volunteer poll watcher was found murdered Wednesday inside a gymnasium in Butuan City in the southern Philippines, police said.

Police said Geraldine Cabardo's body was discovered by civilians at around 5.30 inside the gym at the San Vicente Elementary School. The body of the 25-year old Cabardo bore stab wounds, it said.

It was not immediately known if the murder was related to the elections, police said.

Other reports said Cabardo worked for the Bombo Radyo's poll watch during Monday's Barangay (village council) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council).

"We are still investigating the murder. According to the SOCO (scene of crime officers), the body had multiple incise wounds," Police Officer 2 Ethel Labi told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from Butuan City.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the killing, Labi said.

More than two dozen people have been killed in poll-related violence in the country, according to the police, but it said the elections were peaceful compared in 2002 where 49 people had died. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Barangay Chairman, Itinumba Sa Kabunsuan

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2007) – Patay ang isang Barangay captain matapos itong pagbabarilin ng di-kilalang salarin ilang oras ng siya'y tanghaling panalo sa Barangay elections sa lalawigan ng Shariff Kabunsuan sa Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Sinabi ng pulisya na hindi na umabot ng ospital si Samsudin Lumbos dahil sa tinamong balas a katawan matapos itong barilin sa Barangay Balut.

Patuloy naman ang imbestigasyon sa pagkakapaslang kay Lumbos, ayon sa pulisya. Umabot na umano sa 9 ang nasawi sa Barangay at SK polls sa naturang rehiyon.

Ngunit sa kabila nito ay sinabi ng pulisya at militar na mapayapa ang Barangay at Sanguniang Kabataan elections nuong Lunes.

Mahigit sa isang milyong kandidato ang tumakbo para sa 600,000 puwesto sa buong bansa. Huling ginanaop ang elections nuong 2002 matapos na mabalam ng ilang ulit dahil sa kakulangan ng pondo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Alkalde Ng Zamboanga Del Sur, Isinabit Sa Maling Paratang

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2007) – Itinanggi ng pulisya kanina ang balitang 74 mga teenager na umano’y nasa educational tour ang dinetene ng isang alkalde sa lalawigan ng Zamboanga del Sur.

Naunang nabalita na nahaharap sa kaso si Mayor Nestor Loquias ng bayan ng San Miguel matapos na magreklamo ang ilang magulang ng mga bata sa pulisya nuong Biyernes.

Ito rin ang naging laman ng mga pahayagan ditto ngayon, ngunit mismong si Supt. Angelito Casimiro, intelligence chief ng pulisya sa Western Mindanao, ang nagsabing pawing mga tagasunod ng alkalde ang mga teenager.

“Mga followers ni Mayor ang mga yun. Hindi totoo na dinetene niya ang mga teenagers,” ani pa ni Casimiro sa Mindanao Examiner.

Hindi naman mabatid kung sino ang mga kandidato ng alkalde sa Barangay at SK polls.

Ayon pa sa ulat ay nailigtas umano ng mga parak at miyembro ng Department of Social Welfare and Development ang mga teenager matapos na magreklamo ng tatlong magulang ng mga bata na sina Leonardo Balbatro, Emiliano Alcurin Mondido at Leonides Dagaan. Sa bahay umano ni Loquias sa Barangay Tuburan sa Pagadian city natagpuan ang mga teenager.

Hindi naman natagpuan doon ang alkalde ngunit walo umano sa mga tauhan at kasama nito sa bahay ang diumano’y inaresto – sina Bonifacia Urro, Carlos Urro, Rolando Paragas, Leny Rosa Vergas, Ronald Pregino, Analiza Martinez, Alien Sumiling at Leonilo Calinaol – ayon pa sa ulat.

Nagtungo naman sa pulisya sa Pagadian City ang alkalde kasama ang kanyang abogado upang itanggi ang lahat ng paratang. Posibleng pakana lamang umano ng mga katunggali sa pulitika ang nasa likod ng ulat na pinigil nito ang mga teenager. (Mindanao Examiner)

Erap’s Pardon is Cheap Grace: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture

Official Statement of the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture.

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2007) - On the surface, granting former President Joseph Estrada executive clemency may seem like an act of compassion. In reality, it is cheap grace.

A pardon is an act of grace. It is a concept borrowed by jurisprudence from the biblical idea of ‘unmerited favor,’ meaning that the offender is spared the penalty for ‘sin’ or breaking the law, not because of any merit in him nor of any circumstance that might lighten his case, but because the punishment has been paid for in his behalf by someone else – the Son of God himself. For God to forgive, his own son had to be sent to the cross.

The demands of justice had to be met before God could pardon our sins. Because he is just, he did not seek reconciliation by simply sweeping things under the rug. He did not issue a general amnesty and bury our guilt and grievances under a show of bonhomie.

Instead, in his mercy he stripped himself of immunity, took upon himself our humanity, and suffered the full horror of what it means to die the death that we deserve. As the writer to the Hebrews put it: “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is costly. It is premised on repentance, on acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Estrada goes scot-free without bowing to the court’s judgment that he is guilty. We do not expect from our leaders a ‘moral revolution’; only that those who profess to have seen the light should, like Zaccheus, show signs of true repentance by admitting wrong, asking for pardon and making the necessary restitution.

Likewise, we deplore the undue haste with which Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pardoned Estrada, betraying a gross moral callousness over the seriousness of his crime. Hot on the heels of the revelation that the President is implicated in the ZTE scandal, the timing.

Leaders set a moral benchmark for the nation. The President’s free-and-easy pardon, coming just a month after the Sandiganbayan declared him guilty of plunder, mocks our justice system and further erodes faith in the rule of law. It sends the signal that the powerful can commit a heinous crime and run free just because they can threaten mayhem on those who uneasily sit in power.

Justice and mercy go together. This is what the cross tells us. Without justice, compassion becomes collaboration. We call on our people to resist the drift towards indifference and moral corrosion and make our leaders accountable for the corruption of this nation. (ISACC is a research and training organization specializing in development, missiology and cross-cultural studies within an Asian context aimed at social transformation)

US, Philippine City Sign 10-Year Waste Management Program

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2007) – US and Philippine officials have signed an agreement that would strengthen the local solid waste management program.

Mayor Muslimin Sema, of Cotabato city, signed the agreement with representatives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Growth for Equity in Mindanao (GEM) and the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Foremost in the agreement is the reconstitution of the City Solid Waste Management Board for the proper implementation of a Ten-Year Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.

“The project has been most awaited for. It will serve the interest of the local government of Cotabato City, particularly in the efforts to address environmental problems,” Sema, a former Moro rebel leader-turned politician, said.
Just this year, Sema also signed a 3-year contract worth P40 million for waste management project with Accion Contra El Hambre and Handicap International-Philippines. The project is bankrolled by the European Commission thru its Asia Pro-Eco Programme. (Abdullah Cusain)

US Army Finally Names Dead Soldier In Southern Philippines

Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri, 27, died in an accidental drowning incident at Lake Seit in Panamao town in Sulu province on Oct. 26, 2007. (Army Photo/Mindanao Examiner)


SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2007) – The US Army Special Operations Command has finally released Tuesday the identity of an American soldier who died in the southern Filipino province of Sulu.

It said Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri, 27, died in an accidental drowning incident at Lake Seit in Panamo town on October 26. He was a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha team communications sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Lewis in Washington.

Curreri, a native of Maryland, volunteered for military service and entered the Army in July 2004 as an infantryman. He volunteered for and completed U.S. Army Airborne training, and then volunteered for Special Forces training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

He was assigned to the 1st SFG (A) at Fort Lewis in 2006.

Hundreds of US soldiers under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines are deployed in Sulu province and training local soldiers in various military tactics.

In February, a US Marine, Cpl. Timothy Lewis, suffered a heat stroke and eventually died from cardiac arrest in Sulu. It was the first reported death of a US soldier participating in this year’s joint military drill.

Lewis was part of a contingent from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Forces.

In February 2002, a US MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight American crew and two soldiers on board crashed during a night flight in Bohol Strait in central Philippines. There were no survivors. The American troops were taking part in a joint military training with Filipino soldiers.

The helicopter was on a routine transit from the southern island of Basilan to the island of Mactan where the U.S. maintains a logistics air base.

In October of the same year, a US soldier was also killed after an Abu Sayyaf bomb exploded on a roadside restaurant outside a Philippine Army base in Malagutay village in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, October 29, 2007

OPINION

Rated PG By Ike Seneres
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT

It is interesting to note that even the American companies that are doing business here in the Philippines are bound by their own laws to comply with Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE). America is several thousand miles away, but the power of their laws reach all the way up to here. In contrast, we do not seem to have EOE laws of our own, and if we do, nobody seems to be minding it.

In my work as Chairman of the Inter-Charity Network (ICN), I am always confronted with the challenge of finding jobs for people who are above 30. That’s right, 30 is not really old, but in this country, workers who are above the “calendar days” are already considered “old”, and therefore above the so called “age limits” here.

Again in contrast, even the local employment agencies that are recruiting for American clients from over here do not impose “age limits”, knowing that it is against American laws. The same is true for those that are recruiting for Canadian companies, indicating that these two countries are far more advanced in their respect for equal opportunity.

Imagine that if workers in their 30’s are already discriminated against, how much more for our senior citizens who are past their 60’s? The truth is, senior citizens are not the only ones discriminated against in this country, because the list also includes handicapped persons, cultural minorities and even women, yes women!

In the darkness of these very discriminatory practices, I have seen the light of day in the now booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industries. I think there is a lot of potential in having outsourced services provided by these marginalized sectors, in cooperation with companies that are committed to the fulfillment of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives. Right now, I have a group of handicapped people who are ready to take on jobs as encoders, after being trained by a foreign foundation. Do we have any takers out there from the CSR programs?

For more information about public governance, email: iseneres@yahoo.com

Moro Renegades Still A Big Problem In South RP

Moro rebels show their might in Al-Barka town in Basilan island in southern Philippines. (Mark Navales/Mindanao Examiner Photo)


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2007) - Rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have become a major headache for the armed revolutionary group which is currently stepping up efforts to arrive at a peaceful solution to the centuries-old Moro problem in southern Philippines.

Major Benjamin Dolorfino, in a recent interview here, said renegade guerrillas have resorted to banditry, kidnapping, and extortion, criminal acts which are condemned by the fundamentalist MILF.

"Their devolution into banditry, kidnapping and extortion – all of which often end in murder – is not only and embarrassment to MILF but also undermines everythingit is attempting to achieve," Dolorfino said citing the seriousness of the MILF peace panel to end the conflict in Mindanao.

"That is why the MILF is not merely helping the government tracks down these deserters, but in some cases is actually leading the effort to suppress them," he said.

Dolofino said the MILF also joined government troops in searching for kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi taken from his parish by Moro renegades on Mindanao in June. "They were leading the search," he said.

The MILF is not the only Moro group to be plagued and embarrassed by former members who have turned to crime but also some lost commands of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well, which signed a peace agreement with the government after 30 years of fighting.

Unfortunately, not all of the MNLF unit commanders are ready to give up their arms, including Datukan Samad whom the MNLF refers to as the "lost command."
In May, Samad and nine of his men kidnapped German treasure hunter named Thomas Wallraf, his wife and a Filipino couple they were entertaining, in Pikit town in North Cotabato province.

Even before police could intervene, the MNLF asked rival MILF chief Murad Ebrahim to send his men after Samad who was operating near the MILF territory around Pikit.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the MILF fighters tracked and surrounded Samad near Pagalungan and asked him to surrender his hostage who refused at first but changed mind after MILF fired a rocket-propelled grenade near his position.

Norodin Matalam, vice mayor of Pagalungan town, praised the Moro groups for what he called their "spontaneous involvement" in recovering the hostages.

Samad's Lost Command is but one of many such groups of former guerillas and terrorists that have left their parent organizations to turn independent contractors; they no longer fight for a cause –if they ever did – but for profit and to survive; some, like the notorious "Commander Kiddie," who have turned to be professional kidnapper.

Commander Kiddie, or Abusalam Akiddin, as he is known when he led a Moro guerilla column, has a reputation for taking hostages and holding them for ransom. That reputation is so pronounced that even the Moro leadership believed it was he who had abducted Father Bossi, although the MILF leadership "pointed the finger" at Commander Kiddie, as Agence France-Presse noted, he had since denied playing any role in this particular incident

Major General Nehemas Pajarito, who as commander of forces in the area is well acquainted with the rogue commander, believed Akiddin did not hold the priest saying that authorities are "still investigating his possible involvement" in the kidnapping.

Commander Abubakar leads another Lost Command, lamented an MILF spokesman; Abubakar's group is believed to be behind the bus and bus terminal bombings in May and June.
Major Randolph Cabangbang of the Eastern Mindanao Command told reporters that Abubakar's lost command has sought to extort money from the Weena bus company, a family-owned business that operates at least 200 buses.
Abelerdo Gamilla, the company's operation manager in Davao City, says the group has carried out 17 attacks on his company since 2002; at least nine people have been killed ang 48 others injured in three such bombings since May
In each case, said Major Cabangbang, "extortion was the reason behind the attacks." (Candido Aparece Jr.)

RP Polls Peaceful



President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo casts her vote Monday Oct. 29, 2007 at Lubao Elementary School in her hometown Pampanga province during the Barangay and SK elections. (Rey Baniquet)



ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2007) – Philippine authorities said Monday's polls were generally peaceful in the southern region of Mindanao, although there were some reports of killings and failure of elections over a few areas.


Filipinos cast their ballots for the Barangay (village council) and Sanguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections. More than a million candidates ran for various electives posts for the country's 42,000 villages, but over 600,000 only would be chosen.


The last elections were held in 2002 after several postponements due to lack of funding.


"The elections were generally peaceful and orderly, although there were some reports of violence in Basilan province and a failure of elections in some areas in Sulu and Lanao," Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga city, told the Mindanao Examiner.


He said there was a failure of elections in Panglima Estino town in Sulu province because government teachers acting as poll officers boycotted the elections.


The teachers earlier warned they would boycott the elections to force the Muslim autonomous region to pay their salaries. Thousands of teachers said they have failed to receive their salaries for many months now and others claimed payments they made for state pension were missing.


Supt. Salik Macapantar, Basilan police chief, said one candidate was killed, but his attacker had been arrested after a long chase on Malamawi island. Another candidate was also shot and wounded in Isabela city by his political rival. Both men were running as village chieftain.


Elections in the towns of Al-Barka, Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo, where Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels were active had been peaceful also, Macapantar said.


The three areas were closely guarded by policemen, he said.


"Overall, elections in Basilan are peaceful and there were less poll-related incidents. The people have been very active in guarding the elections to ensure honest polls and that's what we had in Basilan," Macapantar said in a separate interview.


Elections were also peaceful in central Mindanao, but there were reports that gunmen harassed poll officers in some areas in the region, according to Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division.


"We are waiting for reports, but so far, there have been few poll-related incidents," he said.


Philippine police chief Avelino Razon said the polls were successful with few election-related incidents. He said there were only 29 reported deaths compared to 75 in 2002. And only 48 poll-related incidents from 159 five years ago. (Mindanao Examiner)

Rebels Free Captured Soldier In South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 29, 2007) – Communist rebels on Monday freed an army soldier after more than three weeks in captivity in the southern Philippines.

Aris Francisco, spokesman for the New People’s Army (NPA) Alejandro Command in Southern Mindanao, said rebels freed Sgt. Raul Reyes at around 12 p.m. in the remote village of Casoon in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province.

“The decision to release POW Sgt. Raul Reyes is based on humanitarian grounds particularly the request of his family. Also the investigating body of the NPA found no grave crimes that are individually attributable to the said prisoner of war,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Reyes was seized with two other militiamen Glorieto Mahumas and Ruddy Villaflor, also a village chieftain, in October 7 after NPA forces raided a government post in the village of Canidkid in Montevista town. The rebels carted 16 assorted automatic weapons.

The two militias had earlier escaped from rebels.

Francisco previously said the three would be tried for crimes committed against civilians. He said the two militias were active in local paramilitary recruitment and had been instrumental in putting up military detachments in the Montevista villages.

“The Philippine military units deployed in the area - the 72nd and the 60th Infantry Battalions had been notorious in committing grave human rights abuses and violations,” Francisco said.

He said Reyes was released to representatives of Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy and Rep. Manuel Zamora.

The rebels earlier sought a suspension of all military offensives in the province in exchange for the release of the hostages, but this was flatly rejected by the government.

“The refusal of the Eastern Mindanao Command-Armed Forces of the Philippines to implement a suspension of military operations is a clear manifestation of its negligent treatment towards their own rank-and-file personnel, paramilitary elements and non-commissioned officers captured as POWs and to the demands of their families. Had the SOMO been implemented, the POW would have been released earlier,” Francisco said.

There were no immediate statements from the military.

The rebels are fighting the democratic Filipino government for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Juan Magtanggol)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Philippine Media Identify Dead US Soldier

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 28, 2007) – US authorities have finally released late Sunday the name of an American soldier who died after he went diving in a lake in the southern Philippines.

Local media identified the soldier as Master Sergeant Joe Curreri. The US military has not issued any press statement about the soldier's death.

The Southern Californian soldier was reported missing on Friday in Seit Lake in Panamao town. His body was found the next day.

Curerri belonged to the JSOTF-P, in-charge of training Filipino troops in southern Philippines.

The cause of the death remains unclear and it was unknown whether the soldier drowned or had a heart attack. (Mindanao Examiner)

Christian Clergy Murdered In Southern Philippines

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 28, 20070) – A Christian clergy was brutally murdered near his church in the southern Philippines, the Salem Voice Ministries said.

It said Pastor Martin Ambong, of the Jesus Is Lord Ministries, was killed on Friday in the village of Perez in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province. He was stabbed at least 16 times and that his face was also flogged by a hard object.
Villagers discovered the body of the 48-year old Ambong near his church. “Villagers have seen his body first lying near the church on Friday morning,” it said.

It said police is still investigating the murder.” The Pastor was staying at mission house. Mostly he used to spend his time over there,” it said. “Pastor Martin Ambong has no known enemies. Such a good and humble man he was.”

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the murder, but extra-judicial killings are rampant in the Philippines.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines said at least 12 clergy and lay members were killed since 2004. Others were abducted or arrested and most of them were human rights activists, members of progressive political parties and vocal critics of logging, mining, militarization and other destructive projects in the various provinces. (Mindanao Examiner)

AFP, PNP Handa Na Sa Barangay At SK Polls

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 28, 2007) – Handa na umano ang militar at pulisya sa Baranbgay at SK elections sa Mindanao sa Lunes.

Sinabi Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, tagapagsalita ng militar sa central Midnanao, na nakikipagtulungan ang Armed Forces sa pulisya upang masigurong tahimik ang halalan.

“Naka-deploy na yun mga tropa natin sa ibat-ibang lugar, partikular sa mga areas na may mga rebelde, upang masigurong hindi maantala ang eleksyon. We are working closely with the police to ensure peaceful elections,” ani Ando sa Mindanao Examiner.

Ito rin ang sinabi ni Supt. Salik Macapantar, hepe ng pulisya sa Basilan. “Handa na rin tayo at katunayan ay nasa kanya-kanyang lugar na ang mga pulis natin. Ready na tayo at sana ay maging matahik ang Barangay at SK elections,” wika naman ni Macapantar.

Nuong nakaraang lingo ay isang kandadato sa Barangay polls ang tinambangan ng mga di-kilalang aramado sa Barangay Bohe Sapa sa lungsod ng Lamitan. Sugatan si Joseph Manuel ngunit nasawi naman ang utol nito ng tamaan ng mga bala.

Ang masakit pa ay inatake rin sa puso at nasawi ang kanilang ama na baranagay chairman sa nasabing lugar matapos na makita sa pagamutan ang bangkay ang anak at kalagayan ni Joseph. Walang umako sa atake. (Mindanao Examiner)

US Anti-Terror Soldier Dies In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 28, 2007) – A US soldier training Filipino troops in anti-terrorism warfare was found dead after diving in a lake in the southern province of Sulu.

The soldier, whose identity was not made public, was missing since Friday after he and several other soldiers went diving in Seit Lake in Panamao town. His body was found the next day after a massive search in the lake by US and Filipino soldiers.

US military officials did not give any statement and ignored calls from journalists.

Police has confirmed the death of the US soldier, but officials did not release the name of the victim.

The cause of the death remains unclear and it was unknown whether the soldier drowned or had a heart attack or was attacked by rebels.

Hundreds of US soldiers under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines are deployed in Sulu province and training local soldiers in various military tactics.

In February, a US Marine, Cpl. Timothy Lewis, suffered a heat stroke and eventually died from cardiac arrest in Sulu. It was the first reported death of a US soldier participating in this year’s joint military drill.

Lewis was part of a contingent from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Forces.

In February 2002, a US MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight American crew and two soldiers on board crashed during a night flight in Bohol Strait in central Philippines. There were no survivors. The American troops were taking part in a joint military training with Filipino soldiers.

The helicopter was on a routine transit from the southern island of Basilan to the island of Mactan where the U.S. maintains a logistics air base.

In October of the same year, a US soldier was also killed after an Abu Sayyaf bomb exploded on a roadside restaurant outside a Philippine Army base in Malagutay village in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

300 Poll Candidates Attend Forum In South RP

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 28, 2007) – At least 300 candidates running for the local village and youth council elections attended a forum in the southern Filipino town of North Upi as the Church calls for a peaceful polls on Monday.

The forum, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines (EDSP), was dubbed as “Boto Mo, Kinabukasan Mo! Lumahok sa halalan at iboto ang magtataguyod sa kapakanan ng mamamayan” under the Philippine Episcopalians Action for Clean Elections” (PEACE) program.

“Despite the issue of corruptions and anomalies enfolding the country, we are hopeful that through our renewed and committed youth and barangay (village) officials, we can make a change,” Rev. Fr. Francis Imperial, parish priest of North Upi, said.

The forum, held recently, paved the way for interactive and responsive governance for the people of North Upi, the priest said.

One of the forum’s resource people, Bai Ali Indayla, national secretary-general of the non-government organization, Suara Bangsamoro, gave ample and valuable insights on the role of youth on politics of change.

She also discussed the present situation of the Filipinos on politics, economic and cultural aspect.

Indayla also challenged youth candidates to prove that the Sanguniang Kabataan is no haven for corruption, but a venue to explore and substantiate that youth has a significant function to promote good governance.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bomb Blasts Add to Journalists' Risks: IPS

KARACHI, Oct 26 (IPS) - When TV cameraman Arif Khan added to the list of over 140 people who died in the bombings that targeted the welcome procession for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, on Oct. 18, it highlighted the many risks that journalists in Pakistan now face.

Bhutto took special notice of Khan in her press conference the following day, while paying homage to the 'shuhada' (martyrs) and expressing sympathy for their families: "I did see the cameraman who lost his life. He was on the police van next to us, and I could see that he was very active."

Enthusiasm for his work and a propensity for being near the centre of activity cost Khan his life, as colleagues noted at a condolence meeting at the Karachi Press Club last week. "Arif Khan has become a symbol for the freedom of expression, for which he gave his life," observed Javed Chowdhry, secretary general of the Karachi Union of Journalists.

Perched on the police van next to the Pakistan Peoples’ Party chairperson’s armoured vehicle, Khan, a father of six, typifies the journalist killed in the line of duty in what is an increasingly violence prone country.

"Most stories now involve a certain amount of risk. The subjects either try to play to the camera or break it," said Syed Talat Hussain, executive director of news and current affairs at Aaj TV.

Hussain has first-hand experience of such violence. Armed gangs prowling the streets to prevent the then suspended Chief Justice from coming to Karachi attacked the Aaj office on May 12 this year as the channel provided live coverage of the situation.

Television viewers were shocked to see Hussain continuing to feed information to the anchor as he and his colleagues ducked behind desks to save themselves from a continuous hail of bullets.

There have been such attacks before but this was the first to be broadcast live. Attackers have included police, who smashed their way into the Geo TV office in Islamabad earlier this year, as well as armed gangs with various affiliations.

Media offices have been fired at and set ablaze. For good measure, rampaging mobs have smashed the windows of journalists’ cars parked outside, unhindered.

The risks have multiplied manifold over the last few years. A report in the U.S. weekly ‘Newsweek’ of Oct. 20, 2007 terms Pakistan the most dangerous country on earth -- Iraq notwithstanding -- and lists a series of contributing factors such as political instability, a network of radical Islamists, widespread anti-Western anger and the country’s nuclear-armed status.

Journalists face the same dangers as any other citizen -- and more, because their profession thrusts them into high-risk situations. In this they are like policemen and security guards, but unlike security personnel they have no weapons, safety equipment or specialised training. This makes them increasingly vulnerable in case of bomb blasts, for instance, where they are not the direct target, but can become victims.

"Bomb blasts will happen. We are professionals, we have to get out and do our job," said Munizae Jahangir, who reports for NDTV, an Indian TV channel. She was climbing up Bhutto’s armoured vehicle when the first blast happened. Expecting a second blast, she and her cameraman fled and, seconds later, another blast went off right where they had been standing.

Unharmed, but shaken and spattered with blood and bits of human flesh, she told IPS: "You know the risks. You know you can die. But what if you lose a limb or become incapacitated in some way? That’s the worst thought."

Besides killing Arif Khan, the blasts seriously injured two other journalists, both from CNBC Pakistan. Salman Farooq, a cameraman, received serious leg injuries while a reporter, Shehzad, is still lying in a critical condition in a Karachi hospital.

"If the blasts had happened when Benazir’s vehicle was near a media truck, many more journalists would have been injured or killed," conjectured Mazhar Abbas, secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and one of this year’s International Press Freedom Awardees as announced by the New-York-based media freedom watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists.

Talking to IPS on telephone from Islamabad, Abbas said the tremendous growth of the electronic media in Pakistan has made cameramen and reporters more susceptible. For one thing, their numbers have drastically increased; 100 to 150 journalists are present at any function. Secondly, the pressure to obtain exclusive visuals pushes cameramen and television reporters closer and closer to the centre of the unfolding story.

This vulnerability became starkly apparent in April 2006 when a bomb ripped apart a wooden stage set up for a prayer meeting at Karachi’s Nishtar Park. Over 50 people were killed, including most of the top leadership of the religious organisation, Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat, which had set up the meeting.

Among the scores injured were a dozen journalists. Shoaib Khan, a photographer for a local Urdu-language daily, lost an eye. He was left partially paralysed, bereft of speech. His situation highlighted the issue of insurance for journalists covering risky events: it is practically non-existent.

"His organisation dumped him. They didn’t even pay that month’s salary," said Abbas. "Medicine is expensive. Even the eye operation he still needs has been delayed due to financial problems."

"We have to wake up to the reality that Pakistan is a dangerous place, and this is not going to end," said Tahir Ikram, director of programmes at CNBC Pakistan. "We need to provide specialised training to our journalists."

Pakistan has no foundations to look after journalists like Shoaib Khan or their families. A few large media groups in Pakistan do provide some life and accident insurance, but most do not provide special training or safety equipment to correspondents.

Some 21 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf took over power in 1999. "An explosion in the number of independent TV channels boosted pluralism and the quality of news," noted the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its annual report of 2007.

"But the security forces radicalised their methods of repression: a score of journalists were kidnapped and tortured by the military. The situation is worst of all in the tribal areas (along the border with Afghanistan)."

The murder of tribal reporter Hayatullah Khan in June 2006 after being kidnapped six months earlier by ‘unknown’ men brought the media situation in Pakistan under sharp focus, provoking protests in the country and around the world.

"The case underlined the brutality of security forces towards journalists who take too close an interest in what goes on in the tribal areas and in Baluchistan," noted RSF.

Cameraman Munir Sangi, was shot dead in May 2006 while covering tribal clashes in the southern Sindh province. In July, two more TV cameramen were seriously injured on the first day of the military’s onslaught on Islamabad’s Red Mosque where militants were holed up.

Rushed to hospital, one of them, Javed Khan, died during surgery. The other, Israr Ahmed remains in critical condition with spinal cord injuries.

Given this situation, Talat Hussain, from Aaj TV, told IPS that journalists will have to modify their recording and shooting techniques. "We’ll have to use distant lenses, wireless microphones, and the reporter will have to go in, get the quote and get out," he said.

With elections coming up the situation can only worsen. "There will be stages, rallies, meetings… and journalists have to be there," said Mazhar Abbas.

He reiterated PFUJ’s demands for media owners to provide life insurance, safety equipment and specialised conflict-reporting training. "When they’re already spending so much, media organisations should spend a bit more and do this too."

Indi Film Kubrador Reaps Awards

MANILA, Philippines - Another big local award for Kubrador, making the film a recipient of ten local awards with 11 international awards on the side.

Kubrador (illegal gambling bet collecter) was hailed by the 29th Catholic Mass Media Awards for best cinema last Thursday evening at the Marie Eugenie Theater of the Assumption, Assumption College.

It was the film's lead actress Gina Pareño who received the award on behalf of MLR Films. Producer Atty. Joji Antonio was still in Spain, attending the 26th Valencia International Film Festival where Kubrador itself was being screened.

Director Jeffrey Jeturian could not get away from work, finishing the day for a soap. So it was Gina who was around (with daughter Raquel driving her there and acted as escort).

Again Gina was ecstatic knowing that the CMMA is a prestigious award-giving body for the whole of media and they single out only few in each field each year.

This is the 10th accolade to this small movie with a big heart, the most awarded this year with 5 from Urian, three from Tanglaw and the Star Awards for best actress.

The awards caravan isn't through yet for Kubrador. There are still two award-giving bodies here which haven't held theirs. And it has been invited to more than 50 film festivals with a few more to go.

In fact, the Geneva invitation for its Festival de Films des Autres Mondes, the movie Kubrador is in competition for distribution prize in Switzerland.

This 18th edition of this film festival will be on February 1 to 10 next year.(Billy Balbastro/Abante)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Presbyterian Church Holds Forum On RP's Human Rights Violations

Peace & Justice
SIERRA ARDEN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST 890 Morse Ave., Sacramento CA 95864.(916) 483-5501.

FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
(Including a United Nation’s Report)

All Are Invited Sunday, November 4, 2007


10:00 AM Church Service 11:30 AM Lunch (donations will be gratefully accepted – RSVP to 483-5501) 1 PM Speaker is the Reverend Larry Emery.

November 4 ~ The Reverend Larry S. Emery, Pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church, Walnut Grove, will speak on human rights atrocities in the Philippines as part of the Sierra Arden United Church of Christ Peace and Justice Forum at 1 p.m.

Rev. Emery served as an observer at the Philippines General election earlier this year and represented the Presbyterian Church USA at last year’s Ecumenical Human Rights Summit in Manila.

A recent United Nations report to the General Assembly pointed to the systematic and arbitrary execution of hundreds of activists who are hunted, tortured and killed. The report notes a “death squad” operates in Davao City in which children and others are killed in broad daylight.

Rev. Emery’s talk will be preceded by a church service at 10 a.m. and an 11:30 luncheon (donations gratefully accepted) at the Sierra Arden United Church of Christ, 890 Morse Avenue.

Further information contact Ann Kohl: (916) 482-5218 or the Reverend Ginny Curringa: 483-5501.

Violence Erupts Ahead Of Local Polls In Southern Philippines

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 26, 2007) – Police tightened security in the southern Philippine island of Basilan following an ambush believed connected to the upcoming village and youth council elections.

Police said gunmen ambushed a group of campaigners late Wednesday in the village of Bohe Sapa in Lamitan City. The ambush killed Liezel Manuel and wounded her brother, Joseph, who is running for the village polls.

The victim's father, Telesporo Manuel, the village chieftain, who rushed to hospital suffered a heart attack when he saw the body of his daughter.

Police earlier said that the woman was a candidate for the Sanguniang Kabataan elections, but corrected its report after investigators claimed that she was only campaigning for her brother.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said the ambush was probably connected to the October 29 synchronized Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections.

Superintendent Salik Macapantar, the island’s police chief, said there is an ongoing investigation into the killing. “We are investigating the ambush. Police forces have been deployed and we have tightened security in Basilan to prevent any poll-related violence,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the slain woman was working with the Lamitan government.

On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen also killed a Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, Donna Cateral, in Iloilo province, reports said.

Police said dozens of people had been killed and injured in poll related incidents in the country since last month. And more than 150 illegal weapons were also seized since the imposition of gun ban. (Mindanao Examiner)

Airliner Overshoots Runway In Southern Philippines

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 26, 2007) – A Philippine Air Lines (PAL) Airbus A320 carrying 148 passengers overshot a runway in the southern Philippines on Friday, injuring several people.

The plane, which came from Manila, overshot the runway at the Butuan City airport just short of a row of houses at around 6.07 a.m. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Witnesses said the plane landed in the middle of the runway and overshot the runway. “I saw it touched down in the middle of the runaway and the plane went straight and overshot the runway.”

“There were houses on the other end of the runway and it’s just lucky the plane stopped right in front of those houses,” one witness Israel Palero told the radio network dzRH by phone.

He said rescuers rushed some of the passengers to hospitals as smoke billows from inside the immobilized plane. “I saw liquid leaking from the plane. I saw the pilot and he appeared dazed and telling us to evacuate from the plane,” another witness said.

Rolly Estabillo, PAL spokesman, said there is an ongoing investigation into the accident.

“We are asking for apology. We don’t want this to happen. There is an investigation going on,” he said.

The weather was cloudy and windy in Butuan at the time of the accident. “There is low pressure in the area and it could be a factor in the accident. We really don’t know. Let’s wait for the outcome of the investigations,” Estabillo said.

He said the airline would shoulder all the hospital expenses of the passengers. “We are taking care of them,” he said.

PAL currently flies two aircrafts from Manila to Butuan City.

It was unknown whether the accident involving PAL’s A320 was the first in the Philippines, but there had been several accidents worldwide since 1988. Below were some of the recorded crashes involving A320 airplanes, according to the website airsafe.com

June 1988; Air France A320; near Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport, France: The aircraft crashed into trees during an air show maneuver when the aircraft failed to gain height during a low pass with the gear extended. Three of the 136 passengers were killed.

February 1990; Indian Airlines A320; Bangalore, India: Controlled flight into terrain during approach. Aircraft hit about 400 meters short of the runway. Four of the seven crew members and 88 of the 139 passengers were killed.
January 1992; Air Inter A320; near Strasbourg, France: Aircraft had a controlled flight into terrain after the flight crew incorrectly set the flight management system. Five of the six crew and 82 of the 87 passengers perished.

September 1993; Lufthansa A320-200; Warsaw Airport, Poland: Aircraft landed with a tail wind. Landing performance and aircraft design led to a late deployment of braking devices. Aircraft overran the runway. One of the 6 crew and 1 of the 64 passengers were killed.

August 2000; Gulf Air A320; Near Manama, Bahrain: The aircraft was making a third attempt to land at the Bahrain International Airport after a flight from Cairo when the aircraft crashed into the sea about three miles (4.8 km) from the airport. All eight crew members and 135 passengers were killed.

May 2006; Armavia Airlines A320; near Sochi, Russia: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Yerevan, Armenia to Sochi. At the time of the crash, visibility was limited due to darkness, a low overcast cloud layer, and light rain showers. The crew reportedly abandoned the first landing attempt due to the weather conditions. While the crew was maneuvering for a second landing attempt on a different runway, the aircraft crashed into the Black Sea about 6 km (3.8 miles) from the airport. All eight crew members and 105 passengers were killed.

July 2007; TAM Linhas Aéreas A320-200; São Paulo, Brazil: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Porto Alegre (POA) to the Congohas Airport in São Paulo (CGH).

According to the airline, one of the two thrust reversers had been deactivated prior to the flight. The aircraft landed at a higher than normal speed and departed the runway. After the aircraft crossed a major road to the left of the runway, it crashed into a concrete building and caught fire. All six crew members and 181 passengers were killed, as well as several people on the ground. (Mindanao Examiner)

Youth Poll Candidate Killed In Southern RP Ambush

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 26, 2007) – Gunmen ambushed a candidate for the upcoming youth polls in the southern Philippine island of Basilan, police said on Friday.

Police said the gunmen attacked a group of campaigners in Bohe Sapa village in Lamitan town late Wednesday, killing Liezel Manuel and wounding her brother, Joseph.

The victim’s father, Telesporo Manuel, the village chieftain, who rushed to hospital suffered a heart attack when he saw the body of his daughter.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said the ambush was probably connected to next week’s synchronized Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections.

On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen also killed a Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, Donna Cateral, in Iloilo province, reports said.

Police said dozens of people had been killed and injured in poll related incidents in the country since last month. And that more than 150 illegal weapons were also seized since the imposition of gun ban. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Truck Rams Parked Bus In South RP, 27 Injured

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 25, 2007) – At least 27 people were injured when a dump truck rammed a parked mini-bus on a remote village in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga, police said Thursday.

The accident occurred in the village of Cabaluay on Wednesday and nine children were among the injured, police said.

The driver of the truck fled, but policemen were searching for the man. Police said the bus was parked on the side road when the truck rammed it from behind.

Most of the passengers are still recuperating in hospital here. Police is investigating the accident. (Mindanao Examiner)

Deposed Philippine President Estrada Is Pardoned; Filipinos Angry

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 25, 2007) – Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo on Thursday pardoned former President Joseph Estrada who was convicted of plunder only this year.

Pardoning Estrada, whom Arroyo deposed in 2001, drew angry criticisms from many Filipinos and various political groups.

“The Executive Clemency granted to former President Joseph Estrada by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a clear sign, not of mercifulness on her part, but of weakness in her rule and it smacks of political pragmatism, a survival instinct for her dying regime,” the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), one of the country’s largest said.

“This Arroyo regime is continuously being isolated due to massive human rights violations, widening of poverty among the populace and massive corruption. Again and again, multi-million scandals are being exposed and all strings are leading to the Malacañang-based mafia."
"This recent move is made to buy her more time against the growing calls of resignation from the Filipino people,” Prestoline Suyat, KMU spokesperson, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Arroyo, whose presidency ends in 2010, also restored Estrada’s civil and political rights.

The disgraced former leader was held under house arrest since his fall, but he enjoyed privileges that other political detainees never had. Estrada, 70, has been granted pardon because of his age, according to Secy. Ignacio Bunye, Arroyo’s spokesman.

But the KMU criticized Arroyo’s pardon of Estrada, saying, militant lawmaker Crispin Beltran, who was arrested and detained for more than a year on suspicion he was plotting to oust the President, was never pardoned despite his old age and health condition.

“Gloria should also pardon the criminals who are languishing in jails because of injustices. Release also those who are old and sick. Estrada should not be freed. This is a country of lies and deceit,” Anselmo Cunanan, a private employee in Manila, told the Mindanao Examiner. (Mindanao Examiner)

Film Writing Seminar Held In Zamboanga City






Accomplished Filipino filmmakers Gutierrez Mangansakan II and Sheron Dayoc during the film writing seminar held in Zamboanga City.



ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 25, 2007) – The Canadian-funded Local Governance Support Program in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has ended Thursday a three-day film writing seminar in Zamboanga City.


Accomplished Filipino filmmakers, led by Gutierrez Mangansakan II, conducted the seminar which was attended by dozens of participants from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces. Noted independent film director Sheron Dayoc was one of three who will shoot the films in the provinces.


Also invited in the seminar were Al Jacinto, of the Mindanao Examiner Production and Arthur Sakaluran-Abasolo, one of the company’s video production editors. The Mindanao Examiner has finished its second film Sultan just this year. Last year, it also produced the short film called Pobreza en Zamboanga. It is currently filming a tourism video of the exotic Sulu Island.


The seminar was aimed at developing the writing skills of the participants to tell true stories about their communities and people through short films, which would be shown on November 25 during the Mindanao Film Festival in Davao City.


The participants were chosen from members of the communities in the three provinces.


Mangansakan’s first film House under the Crescent Moon (2000) won Best Video Documentary at the 15th Gawad CCP Para Sa Alternatibong Pelikula At Video. He is a writer, documentary filmmaker and heritage conservationist from Pagalungan town in Maguindanao province.


The LGSPA covers the whole of the ARMM. In the five years of LGSP II support to ARMM were initiatives to improve the delivery of basic services, computerize tax collection, and strengthen community participation in governance.


Highlights include the establishment of several peace zones and community peace radios in conflict-prone areas, assistance to municipalities in village development planning and strengthening of village justice systems using traditional conflict resolution methods.


After the 2004 elections, the program supported LGUs in formulating and implementing their respective Executive and Legislative Agendas (ELAs) through a participatory process. LGSPA officially started in March 2005 and is a five year (2005 - 2010) P821.5 million, capacity development program funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in partnership with the Filipino government through the ARMM Regional Government.


It is managed by Agriteam Canada Consulting Ltd. in association with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). The program works with all ARMM municipalities, Marawi City, and the 6 provinces of Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It involves different levels of local government units (LGUs), government agencies, civil society organizations (CSOs), support institutions and peace networks.


To increase effectiveness in local governance, LGSPA focuses on five key areas: leadership and management, service delivery, resource generation and management, participatory governance and peace-building. LGSPA recognizes the importance of strengthening the enabling environment for local governance.


The program works with stakeholders at the regional level to help develop policies and programs that support local governments and local peace building efforts. This will include capacity development assistance to the Autonomous Regional Government (ARG), peace networks and other supporting institutions such as CSOs, academic institutions and LGU leagues.


The program strategy includes mainstreaming four crosscutting themes in order to ensure that these important concerns of poverty reduction, gender equality, cultural integrity and environmental sustainability are considered throughout the implementation of the program and to increase the capacity of the ARG and ARMM LGUs to mainstream these themes within their policies, programs and plans.


LGSPA builds upon the successes of LGSP I and II by furthering the dissemination of information and replicating good practice, promoting the use of knowledge products developed and by drawing on the lessons learned. (Mindanao Examiner)

Photo: President Gloria Arroyo Swears New Palace Photo-Journalists

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo swears in the new officers of the Presidential Photojournalists Association (PPA) led by its president Jack Burgos (third from right) of Police Files during oath-taking ceremonies Thursday, October 25, 2007 at Malacanang's Rizal Hall. Other officers are (second row, stading, from left) Julius Reyes of PCPO, Lino Santos of Manila Standard Today, Reny Pampolina of PCPO, Gerardo Carual of PCPO, Rolando Mailo and Rey Baniquet of the News and Information Bureau/Office of the Press Secretary, and (first row, standing from left) Carlito Arenas of Abante, Melyn Acosta of PCPO, Edwin Bacasmas of Inquirer, Tony Pionilla of Manila Bulletin, and Richard Vinas, also of the Manila Bulletin. (Exequiel Supera)

Manila, MILF Agree To Resume Peace Talks

COTABATO CITY, Philippine (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 25, 2007) - Philippine peace negotiators and Muslim rebels ended two days of talks in Malaysia with both sides agreeing to resume a stalled negotiations aimed at ending more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao.

Peace talks have been stalled since September last year after both sides failed to agree on the issue of ancestral domain, which refers to the rebel demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland.

It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

Government and MILF peace negotiators also held secret talks in Kuala Lumpur early this month, but they failed to arrive at an agreement that would end Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines.

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

The latest round of talks ended on Wednesday with negotiators from both sides agreeing to resume formal peace talks next month, according to a joint statement released Thursday in Malaysia.

The state-run Bernama news agency also said that the Philippines and MILF have expressed readiness to resume the next round of peace talks by the middle of next month.

“Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiators ended their two-day peace talks here on a high note with both sides expressing deep satisfaction over the successful resolution of major issues that broke the September 2006 impasse regarding the ancestral domain issue.”

”The process is firmly back on track towards holding formal talks before the end of the year, thereby concluding the negotiations,” it said, quoting a joint Philippine-MILF statement.

Malaysia, an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Conference, is brokering the peace talks between Manila and the MILF, but it has threatened to pull out its contingent from the International Monitoring Team if the talks remain stalled.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia wanted progress in the seven-year old peace talks between the rebels and the Arroyo government.
“We are glad that the talks were fruitful and the MILF is looking forward for the resumption of the peace negotiations. We wanted peace to reign in Mindanao,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner on Thursday.

The MILF earlier warned that hostilities may erupt in Mindanao if the peace talks fail or if Malaysia pulls out its truce observers from the International Monitoring Team in the strife-torn region of 16 million populations, four million which are made up of Muslims.

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

The MILF said Libya also wanted to help in the peace talks and has offered to host the negotiations in Tripoli. Former Libyan ambassador Salem Adam has met with MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim on Wednesday and has assured the rebel group of Tripoli’s support to the peace talks.

“Tripoli has offered to host the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF and we welcome this development. Libya has been very supportive of our struggle to have peace in Mindanao,” Kabalu said.

President Gloria Arroyo has opened up peace talks with the MILF, the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state, in 2001. (Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Constitution Européenne En Contrebande: Exigeons Un Référendum!

Faire ratifier le nouveau traité européen par les Assemblées, et cela dès le mois de décembre, tel est le projet de Nicolas Sarkozy. Le Président veut aller vite et priver le peuple français du droit élémentaire de décider souverainement de son avenir.

Son clan prétend que le vote majoritaire qui l’a élu en mai tient lieu de referendum ! Comme si les électeurs lui avaient donné un blanc-seing sur un texte qui n’était pas, alors, rédigé et donc inconnu ! En fait, les commentateurs politiques doivent reconnaître que le refus de donner la parole au peuple est motivé par la « prudence », c’est-à-dire la crainte d’un nouveau scrutin de rejet.


Une fois suffit, considère l’oligarchie qui accapare le pouvoir et qui est hostile à une France libre. La propagande officielle, relayée par les médias, presque tous aux mains de la finance mondialisée, avance un second argument : cette fois, il ne s’agit plus de constitution. L’accord signé à Lisbonne par les dirigeants des 27 Etats de l’Union européenne ne serait plus qu’un ‘mini traité’, ‘simplifié’ par surcroît (le texte compte 256 pages …), qui ne porterait que sur son organisation administrative.

Ses symboles, tels le drapeau étoilé et son hymne, ont disparu. Pour rassurer davantage, on prétend mensongèrement que la référence au «marché libre et non faussé » est passée à la trappe. Cette mise en scène vise à désintéresser les citoyens et à semer la confusion : ‘Circulez, il n’y a rien à voir!’.

La vérité est autre. Tous les gouvernements fédéralistes et tous ceux qui refusent la souveraineté populaire et qui avaient encensé le projet de constitution (Giscard d’Estaing, en tête), se déclarent plus que satisfaits du texte élaboré à Lisbonne. Ils ne cachent pas qu’ils y voient une revanche aux Non français et néerlandais de 2005.

De leur point de vue, ils ont raison. Tous les traités signés depuis Maastricht, ceux d’Amsterdam, de Barcelone, de Lisbonne déjà, demeurent la pierre angulaire de la politique économique et anti-sociale de l’Union européenne.

Le « marché libre », « la concurrence » à tout va, la réduction du coût du travail et toute l’idéologie néo-libérale restent le fondement du nouveau traité, véritable constitution européenne en contrebande. Tous les peuples d’Europe en font les frais : la pauvreté, la misère même, gagnent chaque année du terrain.

L’accord de Lisbonne permettrait, s’il était appliqué, d’accentuer le processus : par une centralisation accrue (un Président de l’Union qui parlerait au nom de tous), et un système de vote majoritaire au sein des instances qui serait imposé aux nations récalcitrantes.

Ainsi, le Pouvoir en France, chaque jour plus autoritaire, voudrait priver les citoyens de leur droit imprescriptible de décider de leur avenir. Le Comité Valmy, estime qu’il est de l’intérêt du peuple de France d’ imposer sa consultation par un nouveau referendum.

La voie parlementaire dans ce cas précis, c’est le moyen par excellence de museler la voix des Français.
La majorité automatique acquise, par la manipulation des Français, au parti du Président, tant à l’Assemblée nationale qu’au Sénat, fausse toute représentativité réelle de notre peuple.

Forces républicaines et progressistes, Français fidèles à la souveraineté populaire et nationale, unissons nous pour exiger un referendum.

RP Troops Clash With NPA Rebels In South

DIPOLOG, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 24, 2007) – Government soldiers captured a communist rebel after a clash in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Occidental, officials said on Wednesday.

Officials said the captured rebel was wounded in the fighting Tuesday in Tudela town and had to be rushed to hospital by soldiers.

The fighting broke out after a government patrol spotted a band of New People’s Army rebels in the village of Namut.

Troops also recovered an M14 automatic rifle and munitions, including blasting caps left behind by retreating rebels. The wounded rebel also provided information to soldiers about an M60 machine gun hidden by the NPA in the village. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mindanao's Panditas Seek Recognition

MARBEL CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 24, 2007) - Panditas, or Muslim Indigenous priests in Mindanao, gathered in Marbel City for the 2nd Pandita Mindanao Assembly to call on the government to carry the preservation and promotion of their practice.

The Panditas perform religious rituals and ceremonies for the Muslim communities in the southern Philippines such as the proper slaughtering of animals for food, administering weddings and cleaning the dead before burial.

In a manifesto signed Sunday by the Panditas, they sought recognition from Manila, claiming their vital role in encouraging sobriety and religious solidarity among theMuslims and other peoples of Mindanao for centuries.

But, the Panditas claimed, this did not prevent extremists from subjecting them to harassment and repression.

Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan, Agriculture Undersecretary and convener of the Pandita congregation, exhort the Panditas' role as antidote to religious extremism expressed in terror acts.
"In the settlement of family disputes, causing most of the fighting in Central Mindanao, the Panditas are also instrumental", Ampatuan told the Mindanao Examiner.
Ampatuan, who is an advocate of Moro culture and traditions preservation, said the assembly in Marbel was an opportunity for the Panditas to again shine as icons of peace and unity among peoples in Southern Philippines.

"Panditas strongly proposes resolving injustices in society by peaceful; and non-violent means," Ampatuan said. (Candido Aparece Jr.)

OPINION

Abused Democracy By Karib J. Muhalli

The Congress should now focus to reforming the government, more than the talks on the ZTE broadband deal scam principally implicating President Arroyo and the First Gentleman in the kickback; the administration proposed 2012 Charter Change road map apparently instigating the Malacañang bribe some congressmen with stashes of cash gifts for their majority supports of the proposal; the ousted President Estrada withdrawal of motion for reconsideration of his plunder case before the Sandiganbayan unconditionally seeking presidential pardon; and the Glorietta Mall explosions, and related incidents that may usually erupt obviously aggravating or diverting the coupled controversies that rocked the Arroyo administration and the country.

If there is a move to urgently reform public office/s, it should be the Commission on Elections (Comelec), one of the main pillars of Democracy — thus, abusing the Comelec is abusing the Democracy, they say. This is if the government are decisive in overhauling our electoral system, the most troubled office under the executive branch. This is if they are to avoid the repeat of the like of the “Hello Garci” polls scam involving Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Elections Director Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano allegedly rigged the election retruns in the 2004 Presidential Polls in favor of her over close rival Fernando Poe Jr, now deceased (may he rest in peace).

To reckon, few months prior to elections in 2004, incumbent President Arroyo issued Garcillano ad interim appointment as Comelec director in Northern Mindanao. The issuance of appointment was done while the Congress was on recess or vacation, so, said appointment bypassed the scrutiny of the Senate-Congress Committee on Appointment (CoA). Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and former Rep. Didagen Dilangalen of Maguindanao, along with few of their colleagues, questioned said appointment, nagging that Garcillano’s shady past having been taunted as votes manipulator in Mindanao in the previous elections in 1992 and 1998; hence, Garcillano is unfit to hold again electoral post. Their inquiry, however, was to no avail.

The lawmakers should revise and amend at all costs the Wire Tapping Law that the use of the high-tech cellular phones with built-in camcorders or video cameras and similar electronic devices should be legalized if only to spy the political activities of politicians, candidates or political wannabes. The duration of nationwide surveillance works should be set at the start of campaign sorties until the conduct and canvass of elections to eradicate poll frauds, election-related violence, political killing, and jail the violator thereof.

To effectively implement this law and for transparency and accountability, however, there should be created non-partisan body, election watchdog composed of persons preferably of unquestionable integrity and personality duly authorized and tasked to constitute the espionage operations and inspections especially in the canvassing centers or the Comelec offices. Such electronic means and the wire-tapped or photographed election-related violations and crimes should be exclusively used as strong evidence before the proper court in this special case, as long they are obtained by operatives of the election watchdog.

Early this year, the Congress already passed the election reform law, which is more on the proposed implementation of modernization of vote counting and canvassing starting 2010 National Elections, and the strict penalization of crime upon any one violating the law.

Now the Comelec under acting Chair Resurrection Borra is readying to file charges against Lintang Bedol, elections supervisor for Maguindanao. Bedol is alleged of votes compromise for the Administration’s senatorial candidates in 2006 national and local elections. Bedol is allegedly instrumental in Miguel Zubiri’s winning for the 12th senatorial slot after the re-canvassing of ballots although in the preliminary canvassing it was Luis “Chavit” Singson led the votes in Maguindanao.

Both Zubiri and Singson were running for senator under the Administration’s Team Unity, a party that had made public announcement for the first time of proliferating Command Votes (a coerced or paid votes or votes obtained by hook or by crook). In fact, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales and Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan even campaigned to give P10 thousand and P100 thousand, respectively, to local leaders who could deliver a sweep of 12-0 vote for TU’s senatorial lineup.

Their poll scheme, allegedly to buy voter's suffrage, overwhelmingly worked only in Maguindanao, a home province of the ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, Chavit’s real buddy. But to bring Bedol to justice is not enough. While we appreciate such initiative, we are appalled to think that those of his accomplice or occasional bosses are moving scott-free and lurking in out there. Toughest and untouchable. They’re used to giving bribery and bonanzas as part of their gimmicks to reign forever in politics. They can buy-off or pressure witnesses to recant testimonies against them (political Mafias) in court.

Worse, having mastered the loopholes of the law, they keep on abusing it (law) for their own advantages. Awful. Our law seems not working in penalizing the Big Fish in the country. Their influence is above the law, thereby making our law in part ineffective, of course with the exception of the Pres. Joseph Estrada’s mere plunder case. Estrada— after being f----d up [Judased] by his best gambling pal-turned-worst political foe Chavit, backed by the same Big Fish, Estrada’s political rivals— has been started serving his sentence.

Still a lot of personalities including Church leaders are also receiving Jueteng or gambling kickbacks, but Erap is singled out here. Of the Juan de la Cruz, a symbolic name to describe poor Filipinos — there’re lots of Juans and Juanas within us willing to accept even petty gifts. Perhaps out of abject poverty where they have been languishing in, they are desperately resorted to receiving bribery from politicians.

It is a common practice especially during campaign period to elections day in the Philippines. Vote-buyers and –sellers, flying voters and politicians alike, like hopping buzzing moths, are scampering around and flocking for money and promises of landslide votes. Trails of bribery go on up to the Comelec doors and Malacañang Palace. Sometime it takes more days, weeks and months to finish canvassing of ballots, and proclaim the winners later if not earlier. How cunning is the network of this same Administration Party in maneuvering events ranging from the switching of election results to the evading of impeachment attempts logged by the opposition camp.

See. We are even smudged a country of having longest period in counting votes. Shameful and shocking but we must simply accept the reality— that this oddity also adds to the country’s already bad records: the most corrupt country in the world, and second only to Iraq in term of greater numbers of killings of leftists, journalists and political opponents. Can we then expect reform for our government starting from the highest down to the lowest echelon in our society? We cannot for it is hard to reform Apo Trapos (traditional politicos), our mortal Gods up there dominating in the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial Bodies.

Critics say the Abu Sayyaf Group is the creation of the C.I.A. in coordination with the Philippine's toughest thugs, a network of few personalities among the AFP top officials, businessmen and politicians, to carry out sabotage mission in Muslim-dominated places in Mindanao particularly in Sulu, the center of economic-political conspiracy in the country. It seemed that they have intensified their operation and fiddled on sabotaging peace and business deals and other development in the archipelagic Sulu, an internationally known province for its vast deposits of mineral resources such as offshore raw oil or deuterium reserves in Sulu deepest sea.

Their clandestine plan is to keep on depriving the Moros— whose forbears religiously and patriotically defended from the very start this Morolandia, now Philippines— from the waves of foreign aggressors: Spain, Japan and America. Nevertheless, barely a numbers of the local Abu Sayyaf recruits, who are not embed themselves in criminal activities of kidnapping and beheading of the innocent and helpless captives, will be turning out the "newly self-proclaimed heroes", analysts warned.

The emerging of ASG was significantly started in 1995, during the mid-incumbency of the Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos—an Amboy— who obtained his military career at West Point, U.S.A. Hitherto, the doppelgangers of imperial America and sycophant Philippine governments are doubling efforts to sophisticate their ploy to establish US-bases in Sulu Sea, before China will hold domination of the region, as independent muckrakers speculated.

And this will temporarily work by orchestrating again similar notorious 911 Holocaust, but this time perhaps in the sea to blast luxury ship of the Asian Liner cruising across the Asia Pacific polygon as the U.S.'s justification to meddle in the region's affairs, and, as usual, to vigorously implicate the ASG along with the Jemaah Islamiya, Al-qaeda terror network of ex-CIA Osama bin Laden operating in Asia the culprit.

Dubya's war doctrine is to "eradicate terrorism" as new war of the century having toppled Communism of the stronger Russia. Obviously this time is singling out Islam —the fair religion that pioneered civilization with modesty— being regarded the only remaining strongest power critical of Democracy.

Vent on pursuing the ultimate mission: Global Re-positioning and Crusade Against Islam as their New World Order and over-confident with their highly advance weapons, they believe to win this stupid war in a snap over Islam; nay they are but edging to premature Armageddon-- a curse to their own doings.

How could the bond of dudes in this ephemeral world crush Islam— a universal religion-- which forces and protectors include angels and the elements of matter: water, air, soil and fire? Unless they deny salient Islamic history and Qur'anic verses regarding the Islamic defensive wars, they will surely be doomed to fiasco, Allah wills.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Muslim Rebels Resume Talks; Warn Of Renewed War In Mindanao If Negotiations Fail

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 23, 2007) – Muslim rebels negotiating peace with Manila resumed talks Tuesday with Filipino negotiators, but warned hostilities may erupt in Mindanao should the talks fail.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels are fighting for a separate homeland in Mindanao, whose 16 million populations included about 4 million Muslims.

Rebels and government peace negotiators are holding talks in Malaysia in an effort to sign a deal on the Muslim homeland.

Peace talks have been stalled since September last year after both sides failed to agree on the issue of ancestral domain, which refers to the rebel demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

“The issue on ancestral domain must be resolved first before we can resume formal peace talks. We cannot have perpetual peace negotiations,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said hostilities may break out if peace talks fail or if Malaysia pulls out its truce observers in Mindanao.

Malaysia, an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Conference, is brokering the peace talks between Manila and the MILF, but it has threatened to pull out its contingent from the International Monitoring Team if the talks remain stalled.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia wanted progress in the seven-year old peace talks between the rebels and the Arroyo government.
Kuala Lumpur has shortened the stay of the IMT in Mindanao, from one year to only three months. Members of the Malaysian Defense Forces had been in Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines, since 2004 as part of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

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

“We want to resolve this problem. The peace talks have been stalled since last year and we cannot have a perpetual cease-fire with the Philippine government. A cease-fire without any political settlement is not a guarantee that there is peace. The Muslims need real peace,” Kabalu said.

The strife-torn, but mineral-rich Mindanao had been embroiled in political dispute and power struggle between the government and rebels for more than three decades. But the MILF also blamed political warlords and big businessmen of exploiting the region’s natural resources.

“Without a real peace, exploitation by political warlords and big corporation and influential businessmen will continue unabated and will leave the Muslims without lands of their own, without natural resources to call their own and not even a descent livelihood for everyone. The ancestral domain is the only answer to these problems and the road to peace in Mindanao,” Kabalu said.

Philippine and MILF peace negotiators also held secret talks in Kuala Lumpur early this month, but both sides failed to arrive at an agreement that would end more than three decades of insurgency in the southern Philippines.

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

Manila has previously offered the MILF the whole of the Muslim autonomous region, which is composed of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi which are among the poorest in the country torn by strife and clan wars since its creation in 1989. The rebels rejected the offer. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pirate Killed In South RP Clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 22, 2007) – Government soldiers killed a pirate in a clash on a remote southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, officials said on Monday.

Officials said troops raided a hideout of suspected pirates in the village of Batu Pantan in Lagayas town, sparking a firefight that killed one gunman.

“One pirate was killed in the fighting and none on our side,” said Army Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

He said soldiers also recovered two speedboats called “jungkong,” which is typically used in Sabah.

Batara did not say if the gunmen were allied with the Abu Sayyaf or not, but the military said pirates have been victimizing fishermen in the province. (Mindanao Examiner)