Saturday, July 31, 2010

NPA rebels torch Dole trucks in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2010) – Communist insurgents torched five container vans in an attack Saturday in Compostela Valley province in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the vans were owned by Dole Philippine Incorporated, a subsidiary of Dole Food Company, the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, including cut flowers.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said the attack occurred in the village of Camanlangan in New Bataan town.

“Reports reaching authorities state that about 15 fully armed men led by certain alias Ondo of Local Terrorist Front-27 of the New People’s Army were responsible in burning the containers owned by Dole-Stanfilco. Initial investigation conducted by authorities revealed that the motive is the refusal of Dole-Stanfilco to give-in to the terrorists’ extortion demand,” he said.

Dole-Stanfilco operates the banana plantation and exports the fruits to Japan, Korea, China, Hong, New Zealand and the Middle East.

Major General Carlos Holganza, a regional army commander, said the New People’s Army is engaged in extortion activities in Mindanao.

“This is another proof of the consistency of the terrorists’ decadent deeds in sabotaging our economy and making the people suffer. They do not recognize the right of the people to engage in free enterprise and they do not want our country to progress.”

“The only thing they are interested in is the money they can steal from legitimate businessmen, small enterprises and ordinary farmers. The NPA has proven once again that they are the biggest extortion syndicate in the country,” Holganza said.

He said rebel forces also torched farm trucks and construction equipment in the provinces the past months. “The NPA has been involved in many instances of burning of vehicles and facilities to include commuter buses, construction equipment, farm implements and business structures of individuals and companies which failed to give extortion money to the rebels,” he said.

On Friday, rebels also detonated two improvised explosives in Davao City and wounded four soldiers in Paquibato district. The twin attacks came a month after new Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said he would forge a cease-fire and resume peace talks with communist rebels.

Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebel leaders accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners languishing in jails and to put a stop to extrajudicial killings of political activists.

But the Communist Party of the Philippines warned the Aquino government against using the "immediate ceasefire" line as the premise for the resumption of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said it is ready to immediately resume formal peace negotiations based on previously agreed principles and agenda and without any preconditions. If Aquino insists on having peace talks premised on an immediate ceasefire, he will be reducing his peace declarations to empty rhetoric,” the CPP said.

“The CPP challenged Aquino to immediately commence negotiations and abide by previous agreements, including The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which sets the framework, principles, agenda and sequence of the peace negotiations,” it said.

“For the armed revolutionary forces, engaging in peace talks while their weapons are tied up violates the revolutionary principles and virtually holds us hostage. It would be foolish for us to expect to talk on fair and equal terms regarding life-and-death questions with the other side, when we have our arms dropped while the forces on other side have the barrels of their guns pointed at our heads.”

The rebels are fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Former Moro rebel kills civilian in Cotabato

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2010) – Philippine police is investigating a member of the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front who fatally shot a civilian in the troubled city of Cotabato in Mindanao, officials said Saturday.

Police said Jonel Pandalat attacked Roger Aragona, 50, while buying charcoal on Thursday and escaped after the shooting.

Pandalat was later arrested by pursuing policemen in Cotabato City, officials said, adding, a .45-caliber pistol was also seized from the former rebel, including a Moro National Liberation Front identification card.

The motive of the killing was unknown and Pandalat refused to answer interrogation by policemen. Pandalat is facing murder charges, police said.

It was not immediately known whether Pandalat is involved in other killings in Cotabato. Gun attacks in Cotabato City are not uncommon and many of the crimes remain unsolved. (Mindanao Examiner)

Priest had date with teen before alleged suicide? : ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines - Police in Camarines Sur province are investigating the death of a priest, who allegedly went on a date with a 15-year-old girl before he was found dead last Wednesday morning.

Senior Superintendent Jonathan Ablang, Camarines Sur provincial police director, said the initial report he received was that Father Baltazar Acompañado Jr. died in his sleep and that that the priest may have committed suicide.

"May hawak-hawak na baril sa kananang kamay si Father Acompañado at may gunshot wound sa ulo, kaya lumalabas nag suicide siya (Father Acompañado has a gunshot wound in the head and he was holding a gun with his right hand, which indicates that he committed suicide)," Ablang said.

He, however, said that the suicide angle was not conclusive, based on the initial crime scene investigation by the Camarines Sur Police Provincial Office.

Acompañado, director of the Holy Rosary Preparatory Seminary and Archdiocesan Vocation, was found dead inside his room at the seminary's compound in San Jose town last Wednesday morning (July 28).

Mall date with 15-year-old girl

Ablang said that as the San Jose Police Station probed deeper into Acompañado's death, its investigators discovered that the priest went out with a 15-year-old girl last Tuesday.

He said police have arrested the girl's alleged pimp.

In an interview with ABS-CBN Bicol, the woman denied she was a pimp. She said the priest approached her and asked her to look for a girl who could accompany him to a mall in Naga City.

"HIndi naman ako bugaw. Nilapitan lang ako, pinakiusapan lang ako maghanap ng babae. Nasa bahay lang ako, tumutulong minsan sa sakahan (I'm not a pimp. The priest approached me and asked me to look for a girl for him. I'm usually at home and sometimes helps in the farm)," the woman claimed.

She said that the 15-year-old girl immediately agreed when she asked her if she could accompany the priest to Naga City.

"Sabi sa akin, oo, kasi kailangan niya ng pera (The girl agreed because she said she needed the money)," he added.

The alleged pimp also told ABS-CBN News that the priest tipped her P500 for finding him a girl.

The girl's parents refused to be interviewed.

"Basta sa police na lang kayo magtanong. Kawawa naman ang anak ko, kinse anyos lang ganyan na ang nangyari (You should just ask the police. You should pity my daughter, she's only 15 and yet she already had this kind of experience)," the girl's mother said.

The priest and the girl allegedly returned to San Jose town on Tuesday night.

Good priest

In a statement released by Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi on Thursday, he said that Acompañado was "a good and dedicated priest."

Legazpi said Acompañado first served as parochial vicar of St. John the Evangelist Church in Naga City in 2003 and professor of the preparatory seminary before he was appointed rector.

The archbishop announced that Acompañado's remains lie in state at the Good Sheperd Chapel at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City.

A concelebrated funeral Mass will be offered on Saturday at 2 p.m.. The priest's remains will be buried at the Resurrection Garden, the burial ground for priests in Caceres. (Kate Delovieres - ABS-CBN Bicol)


Friday, July 30, 2010

4 soldiers wounded in roadside bombings in South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 30, 2010) – Four government soldiers pursuing communist rebels were wounded Friday in two roadside bombings blamed to the Maoist New People’s Army in Davao City in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The explosion occurred in Paquibato district where troops were tracking down the rebels, who had been blamed in the spate of attacks on military and police forces in Davao City.

Major General Carlos Holganza, commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, condemned the attacks. “These terrorists have repeatedly ignored and violated every known tenets of International Humanitarian Law and utterly disregarded the safety of civilians who might be hurt by planting improvised explosive devices on road nets just like the previous incidents,” Holganza said.

He said at least 11 people, mostly soldiers, were killed and 30 others wounded last year in Davao region alone.

The twin attacks came a month after new Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said he would forge a cease-fire and resume peace talks with communist rebels. Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebel leaders accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners languishing in jails and to put a stop to extrajudicial killings of political activists.

But the Communist Party of the Philippines warned the Aquino government against using the "immediate ceasefire" line as the premise for the resumption of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines said it is ready to immediately resume formal peace negotiations based on previously agreed principles and agenda and without any preconditions. “If Aquino insists on having peace talks premised on an immediate ceasefire, he will be reducing his peace declarations to empty rhetoric,” the CPP said.

“The CPP challenged Aquino to immediately commence negotiations and abide by previous agreements, including The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 which sets the framework, principles, agenda and sequence of the peace negotiations,” it said.

“For the armed revolutionary forces, engaging in peace talks while their weapons are tied up violates the revolutionary principles and virtually holds us hostage. It would be foolish for us to expect to talk on fair and equal terms regarding life-and-death questions with the other side, when we have our arms dropped while the forces on other side have the barrels of their guns pointed at our heads.”

The rebels are fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Manny Pacquiao, hindi makikialam sa kaso ng kapatid!

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (Mindanao Examiner / July 30, 2010) – Hindi umano kakanlungin ni boxing superstar at Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao ang sariling kapatid na babae matapos na lusubin ng pulisya ang mansion nito sa hinalang operator ito ng pasugalan sa General Santos City sa Mindanao.

Wala naman ang suspek na si Isidra Pacquiao-Paglinawan ng lusubin ng pulisya ang bahay nito, ngunit doon ay nasamsam ang ibat-ibang paraphernalia sa sugal. Arestado rin ang 10 mga tauhan ni Pacquiao na pinaniniwalaang sabit sa Last 2, isang uri ng ilegal na sugal na talamak sa Mindanao.

“Kung may kinalaman siya dito eh...kung kailangan niyang...kung may kasalanan siya, eh di parusahan. Ganoon naman ako, walang pinipili,” ani Congressman Pacquiao sa panayam naman ng ABS-CBN Television.

Halata rin ang pagkagulat ni Pacquiao sa pangyayari ng magtungo ito sa mansion ng kapatid dahil birthday ng kanilang ama na ang bahay ay katabi lamang ng mansion ni Isidra. Matagal ng may hinala ang pulisya sa kinasasangkutan ni Isidra, ngunit kamakalawa lamang nilusob ang bahay nito.

Malaking kahihiyan naman ang dala ng eskandalo dahil sa magandang pangarap ni Congressman Pacquiao sa Sarangani at General Santos City na kung saan ay naroon ang mga bahay at negosyo ng boxing superstar.

Natuwa naman ang pulisya sa inasal ni Congressman Pacquiao at hindi nito pinakialaman ang trabaho ng mga awtoridad. At maging ang abogado nito na si Atty. Giovanni Mata ay nagsabing pababayaan nila ang batas sa kaso ni Isidra.

“I understand that the searching team will do their work. They have to continue processing the documentation,” wika ni Atty. Mata sa hiwalay na panayam ng ABS-CBN.

Itinanggi naman ng angkan ni pacquiao na may kinalaman ito sa ilegal na pasugalan. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Turtles for sale, anyone?

An illegally caught South Asian Box Turtles (Cuora amboinensis)from marshy villages of Midsayap town in Mindanao's North Cotabato province sell for 50 pesos each in Davao City. The turtles are commonly found in Ligusan Marsh. The Protected Areas and Wildlife Division says trading of this specie is strictly regulated. (AKP Images - Keith Bacongco)

RP wizards win 31 medals in South Korea math contest

MANILA, Philippines - Young Filipino math wizards won 31 medals including two team gold medals in the International Math Competition (IMC) held in South Korea from July 25 to 29.

Dr. Simon Chua, head of the RP delegation, said a total of 604 elementary and high school students competed in the contest that comprised 151 teams from 26 countries and territories including China, Canada, Thailand, Australia, South Africa, Taiwan, Philippines and host country South Korea.

“We are delighted about the great showing of our Filipino students in the contest,” said Dr. Chua, who is also the president of the Mathematics Trainers Guild-Philippines (MTG), an organization of math experts that trains Filipino students for international math contests.

According to Chua and Rechilda Villame, MTG vice president, the entire Philippine team won two gold medals, one silver, 28 bronzes and 11 merit awards in the contest.

The two gold medals were courtesy of Philippine Teams A and B in the team contest in the Korea Elementary Mathematics International Competition (KEMIC), the contest for the elementary division. Teams A and B also won bronze in the group contest.

Team A is composed of Jason Joseph Fernandez of San Beda College Alabang in Muntinlupa City, Kaye Janelle Yao of Grace Christian College, and Ma. Czarina Angela Lao and Vince Benedict Say, both students of Saint Jude Catholic School.

On the other hand, Team B is composed of Raymond Joseph Fadri of San Beda College Alabang, Andrew Brandon Ong of Chiang Kai Shek College, Austin Edrich Chua of Saint Jude Catholic School, and Nathaniel Joshua Balete of Philippine Institute of Quezon City.

The individual bronze medalists of the Philippine team in the elementary and high school divisions are: all the members of elementary Teams A and B, Miguel Lorenzo Ildesa of PAREF Westbridge School, Shawn Gabriele Cabanes of Zamboanga Chong Hua High School, Camille Tyrene Dee of Immaculate Conception Academy, Sarah Jane Cua of Pangasinan Universal Institute, Brendon Matthew Go of Xavier School, Audrey Celine Lao of Saint Jude Catholic School, Michael Brodeth of Philippine Science High School Main, Mikaela Angelina Uy of Saint Jude Catholic School, Justin Edric Yturzaeta of Jubilee Christian Academy, Kenneth Co of Philippine Science High School-Main and Vance Eldric Go of Saint Jude Catholic School.

Elementary Team D won a bronze in the team and group contests while Team C bagged a bronze in the team contest.

Teams C and D are composed of Magin Benedict Ferrer, Mark Davidson Cua, Miguel Lorenzo Ildesa, Sedrick Scott Keh, Gen Mark Tanno, Miguel Luis Rivera, Ramon Galvan III and Shawn Gabrielle Cabanes.

In the high school division or the Korea Invitational World Youth Mathematics Inter-City Competition, Team A composed of Janssen Lawrence Chan, Michelin Ang, Camille Tyrene Dee and Sarah Jane Cua bagged a silver medal in the team contest.

On the other hand, high school Teams B, C and D composed of Aldrich Aldwin Mayoralgo, Brendon Matthew Go, Julius Vincent Sy, Audrey Celine Lao, Hubert Yao, Keefe Collin Tan, Michel Brodeth, Mikaela Angelina Uy, Justin Edric Yturzaeta, Kenneth Co, Neil Jordan Chua Goy and Vance Eldric Go won a bronze each in the team contest. Team D also won a bronze in the group contest.

The team leaders and coaches of the RP team are Villame, Dr. Eduardo Dela Cruz, dean of the Arellano University School of Education; Robert Degolacion, Joseph Wee, Isidro Aguilar, Jonathan Glorial, Manuel Kotah, Rodello De Asis and Eugenia Guerra.

China was declared overall champion in the contest. Other countries that competed in the IMC are Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and United Arab Emirates.

The Philippine team was scheduled to arrive in Manila on Thursday.

SELDA calls for release of all political prisoners in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 29, 2010) - An organization of former political detainees called the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya or SELDA, urged President Benigno Aquinom III to free all political prisoners in the Philippines.

Selda has welcomed the release of former Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, one of the military officers who were arrested four years ago in connection with a supposed attempt to overthrow President Gloria Arroyo.

It said at least 402 political prisoners are still languishing in jails.

Marie Hilao Enriquez, SELDA Secretary General, said it is but just to release Querubin, as well as the other victims of illegal arrest and arbitrary detention during the past administrations. Political prisoners, whom the government has charged with fabricated common criminal cases, are worse off because most of them suffered torture and inhumane treatment during their arrest.

Enriquez cited the Morong 43, the community health workers and doctors who were illegally arrested last February 6 and are still currently detained at Camps Bagong Diwa and Capinpin; the case of Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and a consultant of farmer organizations in Cagayan; the case of Angie Bisuña-Ipong, the 60-year old lay leader who was abducted and missing for two weeks in March 2005, before she was surfaced in the Pagadian City Jail and is still incarcerated; as well as those of hundreds of others in other jails in the country.

SELDA and Karapatan, the alliance of human rights organizations, said another victim of illegal arrest and detention, Dario Tomada, 51, and former chairperson of SAGUPA Eastern Visayas, an alliance of various peasant organizations in the region, was arrested on July 23, in Laguna province.

Tomada is said to have been among those charged in the supposed mass killing of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Inopacan town in Leyte province in 1985, along with Representative Satur Ocampo.

Ocampo, himself, was arrested and detained in 2007 on the charges, but was freed after filing a petition at the Supreme Court.

Enriquez said the charges against Tomada and Ocampo were fabricated. Tomada is now being detained at Camp Karingal in Quezon City. His family, members of SELDA and Karapatan and supporters have been allowed to visit him only on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court has ruled in 2007 that the regional trial court proceedings should be suspended based on the petition of those being charged elucidating their innocence on the said case. Hence, Tomada should be immediately released,” she said.

Enriquez also urged the government to stop the practice of political persecution of political dissenters and criminalizing political dissent.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comval gidayeg sa NEDA tungod sa nagapadayong tradition of excellence

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Hulyo 28, 2010) - Laing pagdayeg na usab karon ang naangkon sa Compostela Valley province tungod kay namentenar niini ang iyang tradition of excellence nga, basta iya sa Comval seguradong pulido, malampuson, ug taas ang kalidad.

Di pa dugay gipasidunggan na usab ang kagamhanang lokal sa Comval sa mga dagkong opisyal sa National Economic Development Authority, tungod kay giila sa mga ADB Consultants nga sila si Dr. Art Corpuz ug Dr. Norman Ramos, nga "more exceptionally well-crafted" ang bag-o nahumang Provincial Development Investment Program sa Compostela Valley.

Mismong si NEDA Regional Director Maria Lourdes Lim sa NEDA Regional Office XI, ang mipadangat sa iyang dakong pagdayeg ngadto kang Gov. Arturo Uy ug sa Provincial PDIP Committee nga gipanguluhan ni Romeo Celeste ang OIC Provincial Planning and Development Officer sa lalawigan.

Kini tungod sa nagapadayong excellent performance nga ilang nahimo, labi na diha sa Development Planning kalabot sa pagdumala (Governance) sa Local Government Units.

Matud ni Lim nga sila usab napasidunggan sa mga experto sa Physical Planning tungod sa maayong performance sa pipila ka mga probinsiya dinhi sa rehiyon onse labi na sa Comval. Tungod niini dako gyod ang pasalamat sa NEDA Regional Office XI ngadto sa mga opisyal ug mga staff sa Compostela Valley.

Kahibaloan nga sa nakalabayng tuig 2009, giilang modelo ang Provincial Development Physical Framework Plan sa Comval sa 46 ka mga probinsiya sa nasud nga maoy unang nakahuman paghimo niini.

Matud sa mga experto labi na sa mga ADB Consultants, nga Exceptionally prepared gyod ang PDPFP sa Comval gawas nga kini maoy labing unang nahuman.(PIA)

Ex-Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin gihatagan og kasamtangang kagawasan

MAYNILA (Mindanao Examiner / Hulyo 28, 2010) - Nakagawas na sa iyang bilanggoan si kanhi Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin niadtong Miyerkoles sa udto, labaw sa upat ka tuig human nahilambigit sa pakyas nga pagsulay sa pagpukan sa administrasyon ni kanhi Presidente Gloria Arroyo.

Si Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Ricardo David nipirma niadtong Martes sa gabii sa provisional release papers sa nabilanggong opisyal.

Matud pa sa tigpamaba sa AFP nga si Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, si Querubin kinahanglan pang motambong sa tanang hearings sa iyang general court martial ug dili pwede mobiya sa nasud.

Ibutang siya ubos sa custody ni Brigadier General Reynaldo Ordoñez, pangulo sa AFP's Defense Reform Office.

Si Querubin gi konsidera nga ni retiro gikan sa military service human ni dagan apan napildi sa pagka senador niadtong Mayo 10 nga piliay ubos sa Nacionalista Party.

Switzerland, Chile, at Cambodia may bagong ambassadors na sa Pinas

MAYNILA (Mindanao Examiner / Hulyo 28, 2010) - Tinaggap ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III ang credentials ang tatlong bagong ambassador na bumisita sa kanya sa Malakanyang, ayon sa ulat ng Philippine Information Agency.

Unang bumisita si Ivo Sieber, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ng Swiss Confederation, na sinundan ni Roberto Mayorga Lorga, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ng bansang Chile.

Huling dumating sa Malakanyang si Hos Sereythonh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Cambodia.

Ang tatlong foreign dignitaries ay ginawaran ng arrival honors sa Palace grounds bago ang private meeting kasama ang Pangulo. Kasama ni Aquino na humarap sa mga ambassador si Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

2 bodies turn up in Zamboanga villages

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 28, 2010) – The killings never stopped. Two corpses had been found in Zamboanga City in Mindanao where the spate of gun attacks and murders continue to hound the locals the past months.

The bodies had been recovered Tuesday in the villages of Tumaga and San Roque and remain unidentified. One of the corpses had a severed head and both were believed to be victims of extrajudicial killings.

The discovery of the bodies came about the same day local government officials called for a peace and order council meeting to assess the security situation in the villages of Mampang, Arena Blanco and Talon-Talon where most of the spate of attacks had been reported in recent months.

More than two dozen people had been murdered in the three villages in what police claimed was all connected to clan war or vendetta killings. Since early this year, more than 100 people had been shot and many of these cases remain unsolved. Most of the murders were carried out by hired assassins.

One of the suspects in the attacks in Mampang, Nur Abdulsamad, had been arrested in Mindoro province after fleeing Zamboanga to evade criminal charges against him, but many of those accused in the murders are still at-large.

There was also a proposal to declare a state of lawlessness in the villages of Mampang, Arena Blanco and Talon-Talon. Extrajudicial killings in Zamboanga are not uncommon and over the years, dozens of corpses had turned up in remote villages and those unclaimed were buried in common graves. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, July 26, 2010

CA orders GIs to explain death of interpreter

MANILA, Philippines – American soldiers implicated in the death of a Filipino interpreter in Mindanao have been ordered by the Court of Appeals to shed light on the incident by filing verified returns to writs of amparo and habeas data issued by the Supreme Court.

The CA’s Special Seventeenth Division noted that Captain Michael Kay of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTFP), Lieutenant Junior Grade Theresa Donelly of the US Barracks, 103rd Infantry Brigade, a Captain Boyer and Master Sergeant Gines, as well as Tomas Rivera of Skylink Security and General Services, had still not filed their returns despite a Supreme Court order that accompanied its granting the petition for the writs filed by the family of interpreter Gregan Cardeño.

Cardeño was an interpreter hired by the American military through Skylink. He was found dead inside his room at JSTOFP headquarters in Marawi City February 2.

Authorities ruled his death a suicide but his relatives and human rights groups suspect he was murdered.

During the hearing on the petition for the writs last July 7, 2010, the US soldiers and Rivera failed to appear before the CA.

Aside from the US soldiers and Rivera, the petition also named former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Versoza, Western Mindanao Command chief General Ben Dolorfino, General Rey Aldo and Colonel Felix Castro of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, Senior Police Officers 3 Ali Rangiris and Mayaman Angintaopan of the Marawi City police, and a police intelligence officer surnamed Mago.

The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy, life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.

The writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated and threatened with violations by unlawful act or omission or a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. (Dateline Philippines)


Maguindanao has new justice advocates

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - As an indication of its active pursuit of sustaining justice and peace in the province, Maguindanao has recently mobilized 24 new Barangay (village) Justice Advocates or BJAs in the Municipality of Datu Abdullah Sangki.

BJAs are community volunteers trained in mediation and counseling who help in the resolution of petty conflicts that could possibly escalate into violence. These new BJAs completed the Basic Certification Course and graduated in Marbel City on July 22.

These BJAs from DAS are among the 244 other trained BJAs in Maguindanao to date. The training was conducted by the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies and supported by DILG Director Isa Romancap and DAS Mayor Datu Akmad S. Sangki, who was represented by Vice Mayor Samsodhen Sangki during the BJA graduation ceremonies.

After a rigorous community selection process, the new BJAs became recipients of the basic certification training under the Barangay Justice for Peace Project funded by USAID and implemented by the Gerry Roxas Foundation.

The project aims to promote community justice and peace by helping de-clog the KP and court dockets of petty issues through mediation and counseling. BJAs will work side by side with the Katarungang Pambarangay, barangay captains and other local officials, as well as tribal, traditional and religious leaders in their respective communities.

The project was successfully launched in the province last November 2009 at the height of the controversial "Maguindanao Massacre". It has steadily gained support from a growing peace constituency at the community level, spurred by the active involvement of the barangay captains of Banaba, Guinibon, Mao and Talisawa in the project.

This basic certification training is also being conducted simultaneously on 14 other municipalities in Maguindanao, which will have 500 trained BJAs by the end of September 2010. The project also aims to produce a total of 3,000 new BJAs with seven other provinces in Mindanao by the end of the year.(Abhoud Syed M. Lingga)

Mindanaon visual artists in ManilART 10

Mindanao's Pride.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - While cosmopolitan Manila enjoys the reputation of being the Philippines’ arts and culture capital, there are actually thriving art scenes across the archipelago.

Various art communities in Zamboanga, Davao, Cotabato, Butuan and even as far as Sulu are emerging – proof that Mindanao with its melting pot of cultures and people generate expression released in visual arts form. And most often the works of art only get to be appreciated within the island…

But from July 29-August 1, 2010, Mindanaoan visual artists will get to invade Manila through the country’s biggest visual arts fair, ManilART 10 at the Mall of Asia’s SMX Convention Hall 4.

Now on its second year, ManilArt is an initiative of the Bonafide Art Galleries Organization and co-sponsored by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts. The sophomore year boasts of 1000 art works by 500 visual artists participated in by 56 of the country’s finest galleries nationwide.

Representing the roster of Mindanaoan artists is Gallery of Davao which is located within the Davao Crocodile Park Complex in the Davao City. It houses talented artists and beautiful artworks from all over Mindanao.

Dr. Abdulmari Asia Imao – Mindanao’s first National Artist - joins the roster of artists. Imao, a native of Sulu province, is exhibiting his 2010 sari-fish series and his trademark sarimanok wood sculptures and a sculptured narra table.

Presidential Medal of Merit awardee Tomas Concepcion who is Marawi born - Italy based artist contributes paintings from his bondage series and a bronze sculpture.

Also included in the line-up are the works of Rameer Tawasil – Sulu’s pride and peace advocate; Davao City’s public artist the very prolific Kublai Ponce-Millan; Davao Del Norte’s Joel Geolamen; Cotabato’s Raymond Malicay; and Anoy Catague from Butuan.

Fullbright scholar and multi-media artist Toym Imao pledges support to the Mindanao booth with two of his artworks. And from the famous Ayala artists family of Davao - Cynthia Ayala Alexander completes the foray.

State of the Nation Address of President Benigno S. Aquino III

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. (Photo by Rey Baniquet)

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay; Chief Justice Renato Corona; Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; my fellow workers in government;

Mga minamahal kong kababayan:

Sa bawat sandali po ng pamamahala ay nahaharap tayo sa isang sangandaan.
Sa isang banda po ay ang pagpili para sa ikabubuti ng taumbayan. Ang pagtanaw sa interes ng nakakarami; ang pagkapit sa prinsipyo; at ang pagiging tapat sa sinumpaan nating tungkulin bilang lingkod-bayan. Ito po ang tuwid na daan.

Sa kabilang banda ay ang pag-una sa pansariling interes. Ang pagpapaalipin sa pulitikal na konsiderasyon, at pagsasakripisyo ng kapakanan ng taumbayan. Ito po ang baluktot na daan.

Matagal pong naligaw ang pamahalaan sa daang baluktot. Araw-araw po, lalong lumilinaw sa akin ang lawak ng problemang ating namana. Damang-dama ko ang bigat ng aking responsibilidad.

Sa unang tatlong linggo ng aming panunungkulan, marami po kaming natuklasan. Nais ko pong ipahayag sa inyo ang iilan lamang sa mga namana nating suliranin at ang ginagawa naming hakbang para lutasin ang mga ito.

Sulyap lamang po ito; hindi pa ito ang lahat ng problemang haharapin natin. Inilihim at sadyang iniligaw ang sambayanan sa totoong kalagayan ng ating bansa.

Sa unang anim na buwan ng taon, mas malaki ang ginastos ng gobyerno kaysa sa pumasok na kita. Lalong lumaki ang deficit natin, na umakyat na sa 196.7 billion pesos. Sa target na kuleksyon, kinapos tayo ng 23.8 billion pesos; ang tinataya namang gastos, nalagpasan natin ng 45.1 billion pesos.
Ang budget po sa 2010 ay 1.54 trillion pesos.

Nasa isandaang bilyong piso o anim at kalahating porsyento na lang ng kabuuan ang malaya nating magagamit para sa nalalabing anim na buwan ng taong ito.

Halos isang porsyento na lang po ng kabuuang budget ang natitira para sa bawat buwan.

Saan naman po dinala ang pera?

Naglaan ng dalawang bilyong piso na Calamity Fund bilang paghahanda para sa mga kalamidad na hindi pa nangyayari. Napakaliit na nga po ng pondong ito, ngunit kapapasok pa lang natin sa panahon ng baha at bagyo, 1.4 billion pesos o sitenta porsyento na ang nagastos.

Sa kabuuan ng 108 million pesos para sa lalawigan ng Pampanga, 105 million pesos nito ay napunta sa iisang distrito lamang. Samantala, ang lalawigan ng Pangasinan na sinalanta ng Pepeng ay nakatanggap ng limang milyong piso lamang para sa pinsalang idinulot ng bagyong Cosme, na nangyari noong 2008 pa.

Ibinigay po ang pondo ng Pampanga sa buwan ng eleksyon, pitong buwan pagkatapos ng Ondoy at Pepeng. Paano kung bumagyo bukas? Inubos na ang pondo nito para sa bagyong nangyari noong isang taon pa. Pagbabayaran ng kinabukasan ang kasakiman ng nakaraan.

Ganyan din po ang nangyari sa pondo ng MWSS. Kamakailan lamang, pumipila ang mga tao para lang makakuha ng tubig. Sa kabila nito, minabuti pa ng liderato ng MWSS na magbigay ng gantimpala sa sarili kahit hindi pa nababayaran ang pensyon ng mga retiradong empleyado.

Noong 2009, ang buong payroll ng MWSS ay 51.4 million pesos. Pero hindi lang naman po ito ang sahod nila; may mga additional allowances at benefits pa sila na aabot sa 160.1 million pesos. Sa madaling sabi, nakatanggap sila ng 211.5 million pesos noong nakaraang taon. Beinte-kuwatro porsyento lang nito ang normal na sahod, at sitenta’y sais porsyento ang dagdag.

Ang karaniwang manggagawa hanggang 13th month pay plus cash gift lang ang nakukuha. Sa MWSS, aabot sa katumbas ng mahigit sa tatlumpung buwan ang sahod kasama na ang lahat ng mga bonuses at allowances na nakuha nila.
Mas matindi po ang natuklasan natin sa pasahod ng kanilang Board of Trustees.

Tingnan po natin ang mga allowances na tinatanggap nila:

Umupo ka lang sa Board of Trustees at Board Committee meeting, katorse mil na. Aabot ng nobenta’y otso mil ito kada buwan. May grocery incentive pa sila na otsenta mil kada taon.

Hindi lang iyon: may mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, at Financial Assistance. May Christmas bonus na, may Additional Christmas Package pa. Kada isa sa mga ito, nobenta’y otso mil.

Sa suma total po, aabot ang lahat ng dalawa’t kalahating milyong piso kada taon sa bawat miyembro ng Board maliban sa pakotse, technical assistance, at pautang. Uulitin ko po. Lahat ng ito ay ibinibigay nila sa kanilang mga sarili habang hindi pa nababayaran ang mga pensyon ng kanilang mga retirees.
Pati po ang La Mesa Watershed ay hindi nila pinatawad.

Para magkaroon ng tamang supply ng tubig, kailangang alagaan ang mga watershed. Sa watershed, puno ang kailangan. Pati po iyon na dapat puno ang nakatayo, tinayuan nila ng bahay para sa matataas na opisyal ng MWSS.

Hindi naman sila agad maaalis sa puwesto dahil kabilang sila sa mga Midnight Appointees ni dating Pangulong Arroyo. Iniimbestigahan na natin ang lahat nang ito. Kung mayroon pa silang kahit kaunting hiya na natitira – sana kusa na lang silang magbitiw sa puwesto.

Pag-usapan naman po natin ang pondo para sa imprastruktura. Tumukoy ang DPWH ng dalawandaan apatnapu’t anim na priority safety projects na popondohan ng Motor Vehicle Users Charge. Mangangailangan po ito ng budget na 425 million pesos.

Ang pinondohan po, dalawampu’t walong proyekto lang. Kinalimutan po ang dalawandaan at labing walong proyekto at pinalitan ng pitumpung proyekto na wala naman sa plano. Ang hininging 425 million pesos, naging 480 million pesos pa, lumaki lalo dahil sa mga proyektong sa piling-piling mga benepisyaryo lang napunta.

Mga proyekto po itong walang saysay, hindi pinag-aralan at hindi pinaghandaan, kaya parang kabuteng sumusulpot.

Tapos na po ang panahon para dito. Sa administrasyon po natin, walang kota-kota, walang tongpats, ang pera ng taumbayan ay gagastusin para sa taumbayan lamang.

Meron pa po tayong natuklasan. Limang araw bago matapos ang termino ng nakaraang administrasyon, nagpautos silang maglabas ng 3.5 billion pesos para sa rehabilitasyon ng mga nasalanta nina Ondoy at Pepeng.

Walumpu’t anim na proyekto ang paglalaanan dapat nito na hindi na sana idadaan sa public bidding. Labingsiyam sa mga ito na nagkakahalaga ng 981 million pesos ang muntik nang makalusot. Hindi pa nailalabas ang Special Allotment Release Order ay pirmado na ang mga kontrata.

Buti na lang po ay natuklasan at pinigilan ito ni Secretary Rogelio Singson ng DPWH. Ngayon po ay dadaan na ang kabuuan ng 3.5 billion pesos sa tapat na bidding, at magagamit na ang pondo na ito sa pagbibigay ng lingap sa mga nawalan ng tahanan dahil kina Ondoy at Pepeng.

Pag-usapan naman natin ang nangyari sa NAPOCOR. Noong 2001 hanggang 2004, pinilit ng gobyerno ang NAPOCOR na magbenta ng kuryente nang palugi para hindi tumaas ang presyo. Tila ang dahilan: pinaghahandaan na nila ang eleksyon.

Dahil dito, noong 2004, sumagad ang pagkakabaon sa utang ng NAPOCOR. Napilitan ang pambansang gobyerno na sagutin ang dalawandaang bilyong pisong utang nito.

Ang inakala ng taumbayan na natipid nila sa kuryente ay binabayaran din natin mula sa kaban ng bayan. May gastos na tayo sa kuryente, binabayaran pa natin ang dagdag na pagkakautang ng gobyerno.

Kung naging matino ang pag-utang, sana’y nadagdagan ang ating kasiguruhan sa supply ng kuryente. Pero ang desisyon ay ibinatay sa maling pulitika, at hindi sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan. Ang taumbayan, matapos pinagsakripisyo ay lalo pang pinahirapan.

Ganito rin po ang nangyari sa MRT. Sinubukan na namang bilhin ang ating pagmamahal. Pinilit ang operator na panatilihing mababa ang pamasahe.

Hindi tuloy nagampanan ang garantiyang ibinigay sa operator na mababawi nila ang kanilang puhunan. Dahil dito, inutusan ang Landbank at Development Bank of the Philippines na bilhin ang MRT.

Ang pera ng taumbayan, ipinagpalit sa isang naluluging operasyon.
Dumako naman po tayo sa pondo ng NFA.

Noong 2004: 117,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply ng Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 900,000 metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit pitong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra pa rin ang binili nila.

Noong 2007: 589,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply sa Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 1.827 million metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit tatlong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra na naman ang binili nila.

Ang masakit nito, dahil sobra-sobra ang binibili nila taun-taon, nabubulok lang pala sa mga kamalig ang bigas, kagaya ng nangyari noong 2008.

Hindi po ba krimen ito, na hinahayaan nilang mabulok ang bigas, sa kabila ng apat na milyong Pilipinong hindi kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw?
Ang resulta nito, umabot na sa 171.6 billion pesos ang utang ng NFA noong Mayo ng taong ito.

Ang tinapon na ito, halos puwede na sanang pondohan ang mga sumusunod:
Ang budget ng buong Hudikatura, na 12.7 billion pesos sa taong ito.
Ang Conditional Cash Transfers para sa susunod na taon, na nagkakahalaga ng 29.6 billion pesos.

Ang lahat ng classroom na kailangan ng ating bansa, na nagkakahalaga ng 130 billion pesos.

Kasuklam-suklam ang kalakarang ito. Pera na, naging bato pa.

Narinig po ninyo kung paano nilustay ang kaban ng bayan. Ang malinaw po sa ngayon: ang anumang pagbabago ay magmumula sa pagsiguro natin na magwawakas na ang pagiging maluho at pagwawaldas.

Kaya nga po mula ngayon: ititigil na natin ang paglulustay sa salapi ng bayan. Tatanggalin natin ang mga proyektong mali.

Ito po ang punto ng tinatawag nating zero-based approach sa ating budget. Ang naging kalakaran po, taun-taon ay inuulit lamang ang budget na puno ng tagas. Dadagdagan lang nang konti, puwede na.

Sa susunod na buwan ay maghahain tayo ng budget na kumikilala nang tama sa mga problema, at magtutuon din ng pansin sa tamang solusyon.
Ilan lang ito sa mga natuklasan nating problema. Heto naman po ang ilang halimbawa ng mga hakbang na ginagawa natin.

Nandiyan po ang kaso ng isang may-ari ng sanglaan. Bumili siya ng sasakyang tinatayang nasa dalawampu’t anim na milyong piso ang halaga.
Kung kaya mong bumili ng Lamborghini, bakit hindi mo kayang magbayad ng buwis?

Nasampahan na po ito ng kaso. Sa pangunguna nina Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares at Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, bawat linggo po ay may bago tayong kasong isinasampa kontra sa mga smuggler at sa mga hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.
Natukoy na rin po ang salarin sa mga kaso nina Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio at Miguel Belen, tatlo sa anim na insidente ng extralegal killings mula nang umupo tayo.

Singkuwenta porsyento po ng mga insidente ng extralegal killings ang patungo na sa kanilang resolusyon.

Ang natitira pong kalahati ay hindi natin tatantanan ang pag-usig hanggang makamit ang katarungan.

Pananagutin natin ang mga mamamatay-tao. Pananagutin din natin ang mga corrupt sa gobyerno.

Nagsimula nang mabuo ang ating Truth Commission, sa pangunguna ni dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Hahanapin natin ang katotohanan sa mga nangyari diumanong katiwalian noong nakaraang siyam na taon.

Sa loob ng linggong ito, pipirmahan ko ang kauna-unahang Executive Order na nagtatalaga sa pagbuo nitong Truth Commission.

Kung ang sagot sa kawalan ng katarungan ay pananagutan, ang sagot naman sa kakulangan natin sa pondo ay mga makabago at malikhaing paraan para tugunan ang mga pagkatagal-tagal nang problema.

Napakarami po ng ating pangangailangan: mula sa edukasyon, imprastruktura, pangkalusugan, pangangailangan ng militar at kapulisan, at marami pang iba. Hindi kakasya ang pondo para mapunan ang lahat ng ito.

Kahit gaano po kalaki ang kakulangan para mapunan ang mga listahan ng ating pangangailangan, ganado pa rin ako dahil marami nang nagpakita ng panibagong interes at kumpyansa sa Pilipinas.

Ito ang magiging solusyon: mga Public-Private Partnerships. Kahit wala pa pong pirmahang nangyayari dito, masasabi kong maganda ang magiging bunga ng maraming usapin ukol dito.

May mga nagpakita na po ng interes, gustong magtayo ng expressway na mula Maynila, tatahak ng Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, hanggang sa dulo ng Cagayan Valley nang hindi gugugol ang estado kahit na po piso.

Sa larangan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas:

Mayroon po tayong 36,000 nautical miles ng baybayin. Ang mayroon lamang tayo: tatlumpu’t dalawang barko. Itong mga barkong ito, panahon pa ni MacArthur.

May nagmungkahi sa atin, ito ang proposisyon: uupahan po nila ang headquarters ng Navy sa Roxas Boulevard at ang Naval Station sa Fort Bonifacio.

Sagot po nila ang paglipat ng Navy Headquarters sa Camp Aguinaldo. Agaran, bibigyan tayo ng isandaang milyong dolyar. At dagdag pa sa lahat nang iyan, magsusubi pa sila sa atin ng kita mula sa mga negosyong itatayo nila sa uupahan nilang lupa.

Sa madali pong sabi: Makukuha natin ang kailangan natin, hindi tatayo gagastos, kikita pa tayo.

Marami na pong nag-alok at nagmungkahi sa atin, mula lokal hanggang dayuhang negosyante, na magpuno ng iba’t ibang pangangailangan.

Mula sa mga public-private partnerships na ito, lalago ang ating ekonomiya, at bawat Pilipino makikinabang. Napakaraming sektor na matutulungan nito.
Maipapatayo na po ang imprastrukturang kailangan natin para palaguin ang turismo.

Sa agrikultura, makapagtatayo na tayo ng mga grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, maayos na road networks at post-harvest facilities.

Kung maisasaayos natin ang ating food supply chain sa tulong ng pribadong sektor, sa halip na mag-angkat tayo ay maari na sana tayong mangarap na mag-supply sa pandaigdigang merkado.

Kung maitatayo ang minumungkahi sa ating railway system, bababa ang presyo ng bilihin. Mas mura, mas mabilis, mas maginhawa, at makakaiwas pa sa kotong cops at mga kumokotong na rebelde ang mga bumibiyahe.

Paalala lang po: una sa ating plataporma ang paglikha ng mga trabaho, at nanggagaling ang trabaho sa paglago ng industriya. Lalago lamang ang industriya kung gagawin nating mas malinis, mas mabilis, at mas maginhawa ang proseso para sa mga gustong magnegosyo.

Pabibilisin natin ang proseso ng mga proyektong sumasailalim sa Build-Operate-Transfer. Sa tulong ng lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno at ng mga mamamayan, pabababain natin sa anim na buwan ang proseso na noon ay inaabot ng taon kung hindi dekada.

May mga hakbang na rin pong sinisimulan ang DTI, sa pamumuno ni Secretary Gregory Domingo:

Ang walang-katapusang pabalik-balik sa proseso ng pagrehistro ng pangalan ng kumpanya, na kada dalaw ay umaabot ng apat hanggang walong oras, ibababa na natin sa labinlimang minuto.

Ang dating listahan ng tatlumpu’t anim na dokumento, ibababa natin sa anim. Ang dating walong pahinang application form, ibababa natin sa isang pahina.

Nananawagan ako sa ating mga LGUs. Habang naghahanap tayo ng paraan para gawing mas mabilis ang pagbubukas ng mga negosyo, pag-aralan din sana nila ang kanilang mga proseso. Kailangan itong gawing mas mabilis, at kailangan itong itugma sa mga sinisumulan nating reporma.

Negosyante, sundalo, rebelde, at karaniwang Pilipino, lahat po makikinabang dito. Basta po hindi dehado ang Pilipino, papasukin po natin lahat iyan.

Kailangan na po nating simulan ang pagtutulungan para makamit ito. Huwag nating pahirapan ang isa’t isa.

Parating na po ang panahon na hindi na natin kailangang mamili sa pagitan ng seguridad ng ating mamamayan o sa kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak.

Oras na maipatupad ang public-private partnerships na ito, mapopondohan ang mga serbisyong panlipunan, alinsunod sa ating plataporma.

Magkakapondo na po para maipatupad ang mga plano natin sa edukasyon.
Mapapalawak natin ang basic education cycle mula sa napakaikling sampung taon tungo sa global standard na labindalawang taon.

Madadagdagan natin ang mga classroom. Mapopondohan natin ang service contracting sa ilalim ng GASTPE.

Pati ang conditional cash transfers, na magbabawas ng pabigat sa bulsa ng mga pamilya, madadagdan na rin ng pondo.

Maipapatupad ang plano natin sa PhilHealth.

Una, tutukuyin natin ang tunay na bilang ng mga nangangailangan nito. Sa ngayon, hindi magkakatugma ang datos. Sabi ng PhilHealth sa isang bibig, walumpu’t pitong porsyento na raw ang merong coverage. Sa kabilang bibig naman, singkuwenta’y tres porsyento naman. Ayon naman sa National Statistics Office, tatlumpu’t walong porsyento ang may coverage.

Ngayon pa lang, kumikilos na si Secretary Dinky Soliman at ang DSWD upang ipatupad ang National Household Targetting System, na magtutukoy sa mga pamilyang higit na nagangailangan ng tulong. Tinatayang siyam na bilyon ang kailangan para mabigyan ng PhilHealth ang limang milyong pinakamaralitang pamilyang Pilipino.

Napakaganda po ng hinaharap natin. Kasama na po natin ang pribadong sektor, at kasama na rin natin ang League of Provinces, sa pangunguna nina Governor Alfonso Umali kasama sina Governor L-Ray Villafuerte at Governor Icot Petilla. Handa na pong makipagtulungan para makibahagi sa pagtustos ng mga gastusin. Alam ko rin pong hindi magpapahuli ang League of Cities sa pangunguna ni Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

Kung ang mga gobyernong lokal ay nakikiramay na sa ating mga adhikain, ang Kongreso namang pinanggalingan ko, siguro naman maasahan ko din.
Nagpakitang-gilas na po ang gabinete sa pagtukoy ng ating mga problema at sa paglulunsad ng mga solusyon sa loob lamang ng tatlong linggo.

Nang bagyo pong Basyang, ang sabi sa atin ng mga may prangkisa sa kuryente, apat na araw na walang kuryente. Dahil sa mabilis na pagkilos ni Secretary Rene Almendras at ng Department of Energy, naibalik ang kuryente sa halos lahat sa loob lamang ng beinte-kwatro oras.

Ito pong sinasabing kakulangan sa tubig sa Metro Manila, kinilusan agad ni Secretary Rogelio Singson at ng DPWH. Hindi na siya naghintay ng utos, kaya nabawasan ang perwisyo.

Nakita na rin natin ang gilas ng mga hinirang nating makatulong sa Gabinete. Makatuwiran naman po sigurong umasa na hindi na sila padadaanin sa butas ng karayom para makumpirma ng Commission on Appointments. Kung mangyayari po ito, marami pa sa mga mahuhusay na Pilipino ang maeengganyong magsilbi sa gobyerno.

Sa lalong madaling panahon po, uupo na tayo sa LEDAC at pag-uusapan ang mga mahahalagang batas na kailangan nating ipasa. Makakaasa kayo na mananatiling bukas ang aking isipan, at ang ating ugnayan ay mananatiling tapat.

Isinusulong po natin ang Fiscal Responsibility Bill, kung saan hindi tayo magpapasa ng batas na mangangailangan ng pondo kung hindi pa natukoy ang panggagalingan nito. May 104.1 billion pesos tayong kailangan para pondohan ang mga batas na naipasa na, ngunit hindi maipatupad.

Kailangan din nating isaayos ang mga insentibong piskal na ibinigay noong nakaraan. Ngayong naghihigpit tayo ng sinturon, kailangang balikan kung alin sa mga ito ang dapat manatili at kung ano ang dapat nang itigil.

Huwag po tayong pumayag na magkaroon ng isa pang NBN-ZTE. Sa lokal man o dayuhan manggagaling ang pondo, dapat dumaan ito sa tamang proseso.

Hinihingi ko po ang tulong ninyo upang amiyendahan ang ating Procurement Law.
Ayon po sa Saligang Batas, tungkulin ng estado ang siguruhing walang lamangan sa merkado. Bawal ang monopolya, bawal ang mga cartel na sasakal sa kumpetisyon. Kailangan po natin ng isang Anti-Trust Law na magbibigay-buhay sa mga prinsipyong ito. Ito ang magbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga Small- at Medium-scale Enterprises na makilahok at tumulong sa paglago ng ating ekonomiya.

Ipasa na po natin ang National Land Use Bill.

Una rin pong naging batas ng Commonwealth ang National Defense Act, na ipinasa noon pang 1935. Kailangan nang palitan ito ng batas na tutugon sa pangangailangan ng pambansang seguridad sa kasalukuyan.

Nakikiusap po akong isulong ang Whistleblower’s Bill upang patuloy nang iwaksi ang kultura ng takot at pananahimik.

Palalakasin pa lalo ang Witness Protection Program. Alalahanin po natin na noong taong 2009 hanggang 2010, may nahatulan sa 95% ng mga kaso kung saan may witness na sumailalim sa programang ito.

Kailangang repasuhin ang ating mga batas. Nanawagan po akong umpisahan na ang rekodipikasyon ng ating mga batas, upang siguruhing magkakatugma sila at hindi salu-salungat.

Ito pong mga batas na ito ang batayan ng kaayusan, ngunit ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ginagawa natin ay ang prinsipyong wala tayong mararating kung walang kapayapaan at katahimikan.

Dalawa ang hinaharap nating suliranin sa usapin ng kapayapaan: ang situwasyon sa Mindanao, at ang patuloy na pag-aaklas ng CPP-NPA-NDF.

Tungkol sa situwasyon sa Mindanao: Hindi po nagbabago ang ating pananaw. Mararating lamang ang kapayapaan at katahimikan kung mag-uusap ang lahat ng apektado: Moro, Lumad, at Kristiyano. Inatasan na natin si Dean Marvic Leonen na mangasiwa sa ginagawa nating pakikipag-usap sa MILF.

Iiwasan natin ang mga pagkakamaling nangyari sa nakaraang administrasyon, kung saan binulaga na lang ang mga mamamayan ng Mindanao. Hindi tayo puwedeng magbulag-bulagan sa mga dudang may kulay ng pulitika ang proseso, at hindi ang kapakanan ng taumbayan ang tanging interes.

Kinikilala natin ang mga hakbang na ginagawa ng MILF sa pamamagitan ng pagdidisplina sa kanilang hanay. Inaasahan natin na muling magsisimula ang negosasyon pagkatapos ng Ramadan.

Tungkol naman po sa CPP-NPA-NDF: handa na ba kayong maglaan ng kongkretong mungkahi, sa halip na pawang batikos lamang?

Kung kapayapaan din ang hangad ninyo, handa po kami sa malawakang tigil-putukan. Mag-usap tayo.

Mahirap magsimula ang usapan habang mayroon pang amoy ng pulbura sa hangin. Nananawagan ako: huwag po natin hayaang masayang ang napakagandang pagkakataong ito upang magtipon sa ilalim ng iisang adhikain.

Kapayapaan at katahimikan po ang pundasyon ng kaunlaran. Habang nagpapatuloy ang barilan, patuloy din ang pagkakagapos natin sa kahirapan.

Dapat din po nating mabatid: ito ay panahon ng sakripisyo. At ang sakripisyong ito ay magiging puhunan para sa ating kinabukasan. Kaakibat ng ating mga karapatan at kalayaan ay ang tungkulin natin sa kapwa at sa bayan.

Inaasahan ko po ang ating mga kaibigan sa media, lalo na sa radyo at sa print, sa mga nagbablock-time, at sa community newspapers, kayo na po mismo ang magbantay sa inyong hanay.

Mabigyang-buhay sana ang mga batayang prinsipyo ng inyong bokasyon: ang magbigay-linaw sa mahahalagang isyu; ang maging patas at makatotohanan, at ang itaas ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso.

Tungkulin po ng bawat Pilipino na tutukan ang mga pinunong tayo rin naman ang nagluklok sa puwesto. Humakbang mula sa pakikialam tungo sa pakikilahok. Dahil ang nakikialam, walang-hanggan ang reklamo. Ang nakikilahok, nakikibahagi sa solusyon.

Napakatagal na pong namamayani ang pananaw na ang susi sa asenso ay ang intindihin ang sarili kaysa intindihin ang kapwa. Malinaw po sa akin: paano tayo aasenso habang nilalamangan ang kapwa?

Ang hindi nabigyan ng pagkakataong mag-aral, paanong makakakuha ng trabaho? Kung walang trabaho, paanong magiging konsumer? Paanong mag-iimpok sa bangko?
Ngunit kung babaliktarin natin ang pananaw—kung iisipin nating “Dadagdagan ko ang kakayahan ng aking kapwa”—magbubunga po ito, at ang lahat ay magkakaroon ng pagkakataon.

Maganda na po ang nasimulan natin. At mas lalong maganda po ang mararating natin. Ngunit huwag nating kalimutan na mayroong mga nagnanasang hindi tayo magtagumpay. Dahil kapag hindi tayo nagtagumpay, makakabalik na naman sila sa kapangyarihan, at sa pagsasamantala sa taumbayan.

Akin pong paniwala na Diyos at taumbayan ang nagdala sa ating kinalalagyan ngayon. Habang nakatutok tayo sa kapakanan ng ating kapwa, bendisyon at patnubay ay tiyak na maaasahan natin sa Poong Maykapal. At kapag nanalig tayo na ang kasangga natin ay ang Diyos, mayroon ba tayong hindi kakayanin?
Ang mandato nating nakuha sa huling eleksyon ay patunay na umaasa pa rin ang Pilipino sa pagbabago. Iba na talaga ang situwasyon. Puwede na muling mangarap. Tayo nang tumungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pinangarap.

Maraming salamat po.


Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chief Justice Renato Corona, Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps;

My beloved countrymen:

Our administration is facing a forked road. On one direction, decisions are made to protect the welfare of our people; to look after the interest of the majority; to have a firm grip on principles; and to be faithful to the public servant’s sworn oath to serve the country honestly. This is the straight path.

On the other side, personal interest is the priority, and where one becomes a slave to political considerations to the detriment of our nation.
This is the crooked path.

For a long time, our country lost its way in the crooked path. As days go by (since I became President), the massive scope of the problems we have inherited becomes much clearer. I could almost feel the weight of my responsibilities.

In the first three weeks of our administration, we discovered many things, and I will report to you some of the problems we have uncovered, and the steps we are taking to solve them.

This report is merely a glimpse of our situation. It is not the entire picture of the crises we are facing. The reality was hidden from our people, who seem to have been deliberately obfuscated on the real state of our nation.

In the first six years of this year, government expenditure exceeded our revenues. Our deficit further increased to PhP196.7 billion. Our collection targets, which lack PhP23.8 billion, were not fully met, while we went beyond our spending by PhP45.1 billion.

Our budget for 2010 is PhP1.54 trillion. Of this, only PhP100 billion - or 6.5% of the total budget – can be used for the remaining six months of the current year. Roughly 1% of the total budget is left for each of the remaining month.

Where did the funds go? A calamity fund worth PhP2 billion was reserved in preparation for anticipated calamities. Of this already miniscule amount, at a time when the rainy season has yet to set in, PhP1.4 billion or 70% was already spent.

The entire province of Pampanga received PhP108 million. Of this, PhP105 million went to only one district. On the other hand, the province of Pangasinan, which was severely affected by Typhoon Pepeng, received a mere PhP5 million, which had to be used to fix damages inflicted not even by Pepeng, but by a previous typhoon, Cosme.

The funds were released on election month, which was seven months after the typhoon. What will happen if a typhoon arrives tomorrow? The fund has been used up to repair damage from typhoons that hit us last year. Our future will pay for the greed of yesterday.

This is also what happened to the funds of the MWSS. Just recently, people lined up for water while the leadership of the MWSS rewarded itself even though the pensions of retired employees remain unpaid.

The entire payroll of the MWSS amounts to 51.4 million pesos annually. But this isn’t the full extent of what they receive: they receive additional allowances and benefits amounting to 81.1 million pesos. In short, they receive 211.5 million pesos annually. Twenty four percent of this is for normal salaries, and sixty six percent is added on.

The average worker receives up to 13th month pay plus a cash gift. In the MWSS, they receive the equivalent of over thirty months pay if you include all their additional bonuses and allowances.

What we discovered in the case of the salaries of their board of trustees is even more shocking. Let’s take a look at the allowances they receive:
Attending board of trustees and board committee meetings, and you get fourteen thousands pesos. This totals ninety eight thousand pesos a month. They also get an annual grocery incentive of eighty thousand pesos.

And that’s not all. They get a mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, and financial assistance. They not only get a Christmas bonus, but an additional Christmas package as well. Each of these amounts to eighty thousand pesos. All in all, each member of the board receives two and a half million pesos a year exclusive of car service, technical assistance, and loans. Let me repeat. They award themselves all of these while being in arrears for the pensions of their retired employees.

Even the La Mesa watershed wasn’t spared. In order to ensure an adequate supply of water, we need to protect our watersheds. In watersheds, trees are needed. Where there should be trees, they built homes for the top officials of the MWSS.

We cannot remove them from their positions quickly because they are among the midnight appointees of former president Arroyo. We are investigating all of these things. But if they have any shame left, they should voluntarily relinquish their positions.

Now let’s discuss funds for infrastructure. The DPWH identified two hundred forty six priority safety projects to be funded by the motor vehicle user’s charge. This needs a budget of 425 million pesos. What they ended up funding were only 28 projects. They disregarded 218 projects and replaced these with seventy projects that weren’t in the plans. The 425 million pesos originally asked for became 480 million pesos, increasing because of projects allocated for a favored few.

These projects make no sense: unstudied and unprepared for, sprouting like mushrooms.

The era of such projects is at an end. Under our administration, there will be no quotas, there will be no overpricing, the funds of the people will be spent for the people.

There’s more. Five days before the term of the previous administration ended, they ordered 3.5 billion pesos to be released for the rehabilitation of those affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. This was supposed to fund eighty-nine projects. But nineteen of these projects amounting to 981 million pesos didn’t go through public bidding. Special Allotment Release Orders hadn’t even been released and yet the contracts were already signed.

It’s a good thing Secretary Rogelio Singson spotted and stopped them.
Instead, they will all go through the proper bidding, and the funds will be used to provide relief to those who lost their homes due to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Let’s discuss what happened in Napocor. From 2001 to 2004, the government forced Napocor to sell electricity at a loss to prevent increases in electricity rates. The real motivation for this is that they were preparing for the election.

As a result, in 2004, NAPOCOR slumped deeply in debt. The government was obligated to shoulder the 200 billion pesos it owed.

What the public thought they saved from electricity, we are now paying for using public coffers. Not only are we paying for the cost of electricity; we are also paying for the interest arising from the debt.

If the money we borrowed was used properly, then there would be added assurance that constant supply of electricity is available. However, this decision was based on bad politics, not on the true needs of the people. The people, after having to sacrifice, suffered even more.

This is also what happened to the MRT. The government tried again to buy the people’s love. The operator was forced to keep the rates low.

In effect, the guarantee given to the operator that he will still be able to recoup his investment was not fulfilled. Because of this, Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines were ordered to purchase the MRT.
The money of the people was used in exchange for an operation that was losing money.

Let us now move on to the funds of the National Food Authority (NFA).
In 2004: 117,000 metric tons (of rice) was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they (the government) bought were 900,000 metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than seven times the amount of shortage, they still bought more than what was needed.

In 2007: 589,000 metric tons was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they bought were 1.827 million metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than three times the amount of shortage, they again bought more than what was needed.

What hurts is, because they keep purchasing more than what they need year after year, the excess rice that had to be stored in warehouses ended up rotting, just like what happened in 2008.

Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are 4 million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day? The result is NFA’s current debt of 177 billion pesos.

This money that was wasted could have funded the following:

- The budget of the entire judiciary, which is at 12.7 billion pesos this year.
- The Conditional Cash Transfers for the following year, which cost 29.6 billion pesos.
- All the classrooms that our country needs, which cost 130 billion pesos.

This way of doing things is revolting. Money was there only to be wasted.
You have heard how the public coffers were squandered. This is what is clear to me now: change can only come from our determination to stamp out this extravagance and profligacy.

That is why starting now: we will stop the wasteful use of government funds. We will eradicate projects that are wrong. This is the point of what we call the zero-based approach in our budget. What used to be the norm was every year, the budget merely gets re-enacted without plugging the holes.

Next month we will be submitting a budget that accurately identifies the problem and gives much attention on the right solution. Those that I have mentioned were only some of the problems we have discovered. Here now are examples of the steps we are undertaking to solve them.

There is a case of one pawnshop owner. He purchased a vehicle at an estimated cost of 26 million pesos.

If he can afford to buy a Lamborghini, why can’t he pay his taxes? A case has already been filed against him. Through the leadership of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, every week we have new cases filed against smugglers and against those who do not pay the right taxes.

We have also already identified the suspects of the cases of Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio and Miguel Belen, 3 of the 6 incidents of extralegal killings since we assumed the Presidency.

Fifty percent (50%) of these incidents of extralegal killings are now on their way to being resolved.

We will not stop the pursuit of the remaining half of these killings until justice has been achieved.

We will hold murderers accountable. We will also hold those who are corrupt that work in government accountable for their actions.

We have begun forming our Truth Commission, through the leadership of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide. We will search for the truth on the alleged wrongdoing committed in the last nine years.

This week, I will sign the first ever Executive Order on the formation of this Truth Commission.

If the answer to justice is accountability, the answer to the dearth in funds is a new and creative approach to our long-standing problems.
We have so many needs: from education, infrastructure, health, military, police and more. Our funds will not be enough to meet them.

No matter how massive the deficit is that may keep us from paying for this list of needs, I am heartened because many have already expressed renewed interest and confidence in the Philippines.

Our solution: public-private partnerships. Although no contract has been signed yet, I can say that ongoing talks with interested investors will yield fruitful outcomes.

There are some who have already shown interest and want to build an expressway from Manila that will pass through Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, until the end of Cagayan Valley, without the government having to spend a single peso.

On national defense:

We have 36,000 nautical miles of shoreline, but we only have 32 boats. These boats are as old as the time of (US General Douglas) MacArthur.
Some had this proposition: they will rent the Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard and the Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio.

They will take care of the funding necessary to transfer the Navy Headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo. Immediately, we will be given 100 million dollars. Furthermore, they will give us a portion of their profits from their businesses that would occupy the land they will rent.

In short, we will meet our needs without spending, and we will also earn.
There have already been many proposals from local to foreign investors to provide for our various needs.

From these public-private partnerships, our economy will grow and every Filipino will be the beneficiary. There are so many sectors that could benefit from this.

We will be able to construct the needed infrastructure in order to help tourism grow.

In agriculture, we will be able to have access to grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, orderly road networks and post-harvest facilities.

If we can fix out food supply chain with the help of the private sector, instead of importing, we will hopefully be able to supply for the needs of the global market.

The prices of commodities will go down if we are able to make this efficient railway system a reality. It will be cheaper and faster, and it will be easier for travelers to avoid crooked cops and rebels.

A reminder to all: creating jobs is foremost on our agenda, and the creation of jobs will come from the growth of our industries. Growth will only be possible if we streamline processes to make them predictable, reliable and efficient for those who want to invest.

We make sure that the Build-Operate-and-Transfer projects will undergo quick and efficient processes. With the help of all government agencies concerned and the people, a process that used to take as short as a year and as long as a decade will now only take six months.

The Department of Trade and Industry has already taken steps to effect this change, under the leadership of Secretary Gregory Domingo:
The never-ending horror story of registering business names, which used to take a minimum of four to eight hours depending on the day, will be cut down drastically to fifteen minutes.

What used to be a check list of thirty-six documents will be shortened to a list of six, and the old eight-page application form will be whittled down to one page.

I call on our local government units to review its own procedures. While we look for more ways to streamline our processes to make business start-ups easier, I hope the LGUs can also find ways to implement reforms that will be consistent with the ones we have already started.

All will certainly benefit from this streamlining -- be it businessmen, soldiers, rebels and ordinary Filipinos. As long as the interests of Filipinos will not be jeopardized, we will explore all available avenues to make this a reality. We must start now, and we should all help achieve this and not stand in each other’s way.

The time when we will no longer be made to choose between our people’s security and the future of our children is upon us now.

Once we implement these public-private partnerships, we will be able to fund public service in accordance with our platform.

This will enable us to fund our plans for education.

We will be able to expand our basic education cycle from seven years to the global standard of twelve years.

We can build more classrooms, and we will fund service contracting under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE).

Conditional cash transfers that aim to lessen the burden of education on parents will also be funded if this partnership becomes a reality.
Our plans for improving PhilHealth can now be within reach.

First, we will identify the correct number of Filipinos who sorely need PhilHealth coverage, as current data is conflicting on this matter. On one hand, PhilHealth says that eighty-seven percent (87%) of Filipinos are covered, then lowers the number to only fifty-three percent (53%). On the other hand, the National Statistics Office says that only thirty-eight percent (38%) of Filipinos are covered by Philhealth.

Even as we speak, Secretary Dinky Soliman and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are moving to implement the National Household Targeting System that will identify the families that most urgently need assistance. An estimated 9 billion pesos is needed in order to provide coverage for five million poor Filipinos.

Our country is beginning to see better days ahead. The private sector, the League of Provinces headed by Governor Alfonso Umali, together with Governors L-Ray Villafuerte and Icot Petilla, are now ready to do their share when it comes to shouldering the financial burden. I know that the League of Cities under the leadership of Mayor Oscar Rodriguez will not be far behind.

If the local governments share in our goals, I know that I can surely count on Congress, the institution where I began public service, to push for our agenda for change.

Our Cabinet has already showed it skill by identifying not just problems but also proposing solutions in a matter of three weeks.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Basyang, we were told by those in the power sector that we would be without electricity for four days. The quick action of Secretary Rene Almendras and the Department of Energy resulted in the restoration of power to almost all those affected within twenty-four hours.

The so-called water shortage in Metro Manila was quickly attended to by Secretary Rogelio Singson and the Department of Public Works and Highways. Secretary Singson did it without prodding, which alleviated the suffering of those affected.

We also witnessed the competence and initiative of those we appointed to be part of our Cabinet. It is but just that they not be forced to go through the eye of a needle to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

Should this happen, competent Filipinos will be encouraged to help our country by becoming public servants.

In the soonest possible time, we will convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to discuss the important bills that need to be addressed. Rest assured that I will keep an open mind and treat you honorably.

We will push for the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which will limit spending bills only for appropriations that have identified a source of funding. We need 104.1 billion pesos to fund those laws already passed but whose implementation remains pending because of lack of funds.

We will re-evaluate fiscal incentives given in the past. Now that we are tightening our purse strings, we need to identify those incentives that will remain and those that need to be done away with.

We will not allow another NBN-ZTE scandal to happen again. Whether from local or foreign sources, all proposed contracts must undergo the scrutiny of correct procedures. I now ask for your help with amending our Procurement Law.

According to our Constitution, it is the government’s duty to ensure that the market is fair for all. No monopolies, no cartels that kill competition. We need an Anti-Trust Law that will give life to these principles, to afford Small- and Medium-Scale Enterprises the opportunity to participate in the growth of our economy.

Let us pass into law the National Land Use Bill.

It was in 1935, during the Commonwealth, that the National Defense Act was passed. There is a need to amend for a new law that is more responsive to the current needs of national security.

I appeal to our legislators to pass the Whistleblower’s Bill to eradicate the prevalent culture of fear and silence that has hounded our system.
We will strengthen the Witness Protection Program. We must remember that from 2009 to 2010 alone, cases which involved the participation of witnesses under the program resulted in a ninety-five percent conviction.

There is a need to review our laws. I call on our lawmakers to begin a re-codification of our laws to ensure harmony in legislation and eliminate contradictions.

These laws serve as the basis of order in our land, but the foundation of all rests on the principle that we cannot grow without peace and order.
We face two obstacles on our road to peace: the situation in Mindanao and the continued revolt of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Our view has not changed when it comes to the situation in Mindanao. We will only achieve lasting peace if all stakeholders engage in an honest dialogue: may they be Moro, Lumad, or Christian. We have asked Dean Marvic Leonen to head our efforts to talk to the MILF.

We will learn from the mistakes of the past administration, that suddenly announced an agreement reached without consultations from all concerned. We are not blind to the fact that it was done with political motivation, and that the interest behind it was not that of the people.

We recognize the efforts of the MILF to discipline those within its ranks. We are hopeful that the negotiations will begin after Ramadan.

To the CPP-NPA-NDF: are you prepared to put forth concrete solutions rather than pure criticism and finger-pointing?

If it is peace you truly desire, then we are ready for an immediate cease-fire. Let us go back to the table and begin talking again.

It is difficult to begin discussions in earnest if the smell of gun powder still hangs in the air. I call on everyone concerned not to waste a good opportunity to rally behind our common aspiration for peace.

Our foundation for growth is peace. We will continue to be shackled by poverty if the crossfire persists.

We must understand that now is a time for sacrifice. It is this sacrifice that will pave the way for a better future. With our freedom comes our responsibility to do good unto our fellows and to our country.

To our friends in media, especially those in radio and print, to the block-timers and those in our community newspapers, I trust that you will take up the cudgels to police your own ranks.

May you give new meaning to the principles of your vocation: to provide clarity to pressing issues; to be fair and truthful in your reporting, and to raise the level of public discourse.

It is every Filipino’s duty to closely watch the leaders that you have elected. I encourage everyone to take a step towards participation rather than fault-finding. The former takes part in finding a solution; from the latter, never-ending complaints.

We have always known that the key to growth is putting the interest of others beyond one’s own. One thing is clear: how do we move forward if we keep putting others down?

How will those without education secure quality jobs? How will the unemployed become consumers? How will they save money for their future needs?
If we change all this, if we prioritize enabling others, we will open a world of opportunities not just for ourselves but for those who direly need it.

We have already begun the process of change, and we are now able to dream of better things for our country. Let us not forget that there are those who wish us to fail, so that they will once again reclaim power to do as they please at the expense of our people.

My firm belief is that our fate is in the hands of God and our people. While we focus on uplifting the lives of our fellow men, I have an unshakeable faith that Almighty God will give us His blessings and support. If we remain firm in our belief that God is on our side, is there anything impossible for us to achieve?

The mandate we received last May 10 is testament to the fact that the Filipino continues to hope for true change. The situation is not what it was before; we can all dream again. Let us all become one in achieving a fulfilment of our hopes and aspirations for our country.

Maraming Salamat Po!

Troops searching for kidnapped Japanese clash with Sayyaf in the Philippines

Sulu police chief Elmer Escosia holds the passport of a kidnapped Japanese, Toshio Ito, which was recovered in Pangutaran Island in the Sulu archipelago where gunmen seized the Hiroshima native on July 16, 2010. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 26, 2010) – Philippine soldiers searching for a kidnapped Japanese man in the Sulu archipelago clashed Monday with Abu Sayyaf militants in the town of Patikul, officials said.

Officials were also investigating whether the militants were involved in the kidnapping of Toshio Ito, 63, who was captured by gunmen on July 16 in the town of Pangutaran.

“We have no reports of casualties, but troops are still in the area and searching for the kidnapped Japanese,” said Marine Brigadier General Rustico Guerrero, commander of military forces in Sulu.

He said troops were tracking down Ito on the town when they clashed with a band of Abu Sayyaf fighters. The fighting erupted a day after security forces arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf member – Mustakin - in Zamboanga City while awaiting for a ferry bound for Malaysia.

Authorities accused Mustakin as behind previous kidnappings in Sulu, but it was unknown whether he had a hand or involved in Ito’s disappearance.

Police last week said it recovered a letter allegedly sent by Ito, but details of its contents were not made public. It said Ito’s passport was also recovered by the police in Pangutaran town and had contacted the Japanese embassy in Manila about this.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Ito, a native of Hiroshima who moved to Pangutaran in 2004 where he established a pharmacy and a gravel business. Police said Ito is also a treasure hunter.

He previously lived in Marawi and Zamboanga cities and had a pending court case in the town of Plaridel in Misamis Occidental province where he is facing charges of trespass to dwelling.

Authorities were suspecting Abu Sayyaf militants with links to Jemaah Islamiya could be behind the kidnapping.

The Abu Sayyaf last year kidnapped three international Red Cross workers – Two European and a Filipino – in Sulu and had been ransomed off. The group was also behind high-profile kidnapping cases; including 21 mostly Westerners in Malaysia’s Sipadan Island in 2000 and three US citizens in 2001 in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan Island in the Philippines.

Police earlier said it put up a task force that will handle the investigation of the kidnapping under supervision of the crisis committee headed by Mayor Amilhamja Taib, of Pangutaran Island. (Mindanao Examiner)

Filipinos praise Japan for health support in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 26, 2010) - Filipino villagers praised Japan for its support to rural health programs in North Cotabato province in Mindanao.

Japan funded the upgrading of a rural health unit in Libungan town and would hand it over to the local government on Tuesday. Tomonori Kikuchi, Embassy of Japan’s First Secretary, is expected to attend the turnover ceremony.

The project is funded through the Embassy of Japan's Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects) with a grant of 72,469 US dollars or approximately 3.4 million pesos.

The Libungan Regional Health Unit was constructed in 1976 and, prior to the assistance, it was one of the oldest health facilities in the Province of North Cotabato. The RHU was dilapidated and did not have enough space and basic medical equipment for providing quality health services for the residents. Since patients also come from adjacent municipalities of Alamada, Banisilan and Pigcawayan, they were forced to wait for a long time to be provided health services.

Now, with the grant assistance, a newly renovated health facility has been constructed, and medical equipment was also provided. "This is a great initiative of Japan and we are lucky that we have now an upgraded rural health unit," one villager said.

This project has been implemented under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development. The Government of Japan launched the J-BIRD in December 2006 as part of its commitment to support peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

The J-BIRD has assisted the construction and rehabilitation of school buildings, training centers, health centers and water supply systems through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. As of March 2010, 40 grassroots projects have been implemented under the J-BIRD with a total amount of approximately 2.8 Million US Dollars. (With a report from Geo Solmerano)

Ready-to-eat meal

A man sells steamed rice and chicken meat wrapped in banana leaf for P7 at a stall in Kidapawan City. The ready-to-eat meal is popular among students and office workers because it is delicious and cheap. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Geonarri Solmerano)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kano, sobra na!

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / July 25, 2010) – Banas na umano ang maraming mga opisyal ng militar at pulisya sa kayabangan at ka-arongantehan ng mga Amerikanong sundalo na nasa Mindanao.

Ito ang ibat-ibang sinabi ng mga sundalo at parak na naka-trabaho o kasama ng mga dayuhang tropa ng Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines na naka-base sa Zamboanga City.

Ilang beses na rin umanong muntik magkapikunan at magsuntukan at nagkaroon rin ng tutukan ng baril sa ilang mga pagkakataon dahil sa pangaabuso ng mga Kano at hindi pagrespeto sa mga alituntunin ng mga kampo ng militar sa Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga, Marawi at iba pang lugar sa Mindanao na kung saan ay naka-deploy ang mga dayuhan.

“Mayayabang yang mga Puti at kung umasta eh akala mo Amerika ang Pilipinas. Mga arogante at parang mga hudyo, akala mo kung sino,” ani ng isang sundalong Pinoy.

Madalas rin umanong utus-utusan ng mga Kano ang mga sundalo na mistulang mga alila sa kanilang mga kampo na kung saan ay off-limits rin ang mga opisyal ng militar maliban lamang kung may passes ito.

“Kaya hindi na kami (nagulat) ng pumutok yun balita sa media na kahit may flag ceremony sa WestMinCom (Western Mindanao Command sa Zamboanga City) ay hindi man lang tumigil ang sasakyan ng mga Kano upang i-respeto ang ating watawat at ang (flag) ceremony. Bastos talaga ang mga yan,” dagdag pa ng sundalo.

Na-eskandalo rin kamakailan ang mga Kanong sundalo sa Basilan matapos na mambastos doon ng mga sundalong Pinoy sa kasagsagan ng selebrasyon ng Philippine Marines.

May balita rin na madalas pagtakpan ng ilang matatas na opisyal ng Philippine Navy at Western Mindanao Command ang mga pangaabuso ng mga Kano dahil sa tulong na ibinibigay ng JSOTF-P sa mga sundalong Pinoy.

Bihira na ang training ng mga Kano at Pinoy, ngunit nasa Zamboanga ang mga dayuhan mula pa nuong 2001 at nuong 2006 ay Naglagay pa ito ng dagdag na kampo sa bayan ng Jolo sa Sulu at gayun rin sa Basilan, Marawi at iba pang mga lugar upang tumulong sa militar sa paghahanap ng mga terorista tulad ng Abu Sayyaf at kasama rin sa operasyon kontra sa New People’s Army at Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quakes jolt Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 24, 2010) – Four earthquakes shook Mindanao on Saturday morning, but there were no reports of injuries or serious damage to structures in the southern Philippine region, the United States Geological Survey said.

It said the earthquakes hit in quick succession in the Moro Gulf. The magnitudes of the earthquakes were recorded at 7.3 at a depth of a little over 604 kilometers whose epicenter was located 102 kilometers southwest of Cotabato; 5.4 at a depth of 594.8 kilometers and the epicenter was located 95 kilometers west-southwest of Cotabato.

The third earthquake, whose magnitude was 7.6, occurred at a depth of 576.3 kilometers. Its epicenter was traced 115 kilometers southwest of Cotabato and the fourth had a 7.4 magnitude at a depth of 616.7 kilometers and epicenter was located 121 kilometers southwest of Cotabato. It was felt in several areas near Cotabato.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center based in Hawaii said the earthquake did not generate tsunami.

The Philippines sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometer area where large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It has more than 400 volcanoes and sometimes called the circum-Pacific seismic belt. (With a report from Mark Navales)