Friday, December 31, 2010

Maligayang Bagong Taon Sa Lahat!

Isang mainit na pagbati sa lahat...isang mapagpalayang 2011...mula sa pahayagang Mindanao Examiner!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Estrada, Fabian top spenders at Senate, House in 2009: CoA

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" E. Estrada and Zamboanga City Rep. Erico Basilio A. Fabian (2nd district) topped the list of lawmakers who spent the most in 2009, according to data published by the Commission on Audit (CoA) yesterday.

For salaries, foreign and local travels, consultants, equipment, and other office requirements, senators spent a total of P433.38 million, while congressmen spent P1.87 billion from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Aside from Mr. Estrada (P21.80 million), top spending senators were Gregorio B. Honasan II (P21.65 million), then senator now President Benigno Simeon S. C. Aquino III (P21.55 million), Antonio F. Trillanes IV (P21.14 million) and Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. (P21.05 million).

Mr. Trillanes, who until two weeks ago was in jail and has been freed pending an amnesty grant, was the only senator who spent for new equipment worth P135,032.

Those who spent the least were Joker P. Arroyo, P14.61 million; followed by former senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. P15.178 million; Edgardo J. Angara, P16.42 million; and Loren B. Legarda, P17.28 million.

Mr. Estrada paid P11.868 million for salaries and benefits of his staff, P10 million higher than the P1.68 million Mr. Pimentel who spent the least for the same items.

For meetings and conferences, former senator now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo G. Biazon incurred the highest with P1.29 billion; followed by Manuel B. Villar, Jr., P1.13 billion; Mr. Pimentel, P910.58 million, Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, P856.58 million; and Alan Peter S. Cayetano,P845.58 million.

Former senator Richard J. Gordon, Senator Manuel M. Lapid and Messrs. Arroyo and Angara spent the least at P130.58 million.

At the House of Representatives, aside from Mr. Fabian (P8.91 million), other top spenders were Davao del Norte Rep. Arrel R. Olano (1st district) and former South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy (2nd district), who is now governor, with P8.77 million.

Others were Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Cesar G. Jalosjos (P8.715 million); Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque R. Ablan, Jr. (P8.60 million); and Southern Leyte Rep. Roger G. Mercado (P8.59 million).

Those who spent the least were Laguna Rep. Danilo Ramon S. Fernandez with P6.5 million, followed by CIBAC party-list Rep. Cinchona C. Cruz-Gonzales with P6.504 million.

Meanwhile, Guimaras Rep. Joaquin Carlos Rahman A. Nava spent P1.25 million -- the highest among the 270 congressmen in the 14th Congress -- for foreign travels last year.

He was followed by Iloilo Rep. Janette L. Garin (1st district), P916,000; Camarines Norte Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, P851,000; Cebu City Rep. Raul V. fel Mar (1st district), P830,000; and Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro L. Mendoza (4th district), P780,000.

For her part, Ms. Garin, who is a doctor by profession, said: "I was part of the Parliamentary Network on World Bank. I spoke several times in HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) conferences," she said.

Some congressmen were not included as they did not serve the whole 12 months due to delayed proclamation, among others. (Noemi M. Gonzales - Business World)


Negros farmers get P10 additional income in flatbed dryers

Flatbed dryer.

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 30, 2010) - Rice farmers in Himamaylan City and its nearby towns is now enjoying the benefits of the flatbed dryer project of the Department of Agriculture as they get additional P10 for their quality dried harvests.

Amelia E. Panaligan, treasurer of Ginituang Masaganang Ani Cluster Sawangan Farmers Association, said their problem in drying their harvest during rainy season has ended upon receiving the flatbed dryer technology.

Panaligan also added that they now can produce quality dried grains and sell these at prices from P13 to P15 per kilo compared to P5 per kilo without the FBD.

“Before we received the flatbed dryer, most of us sell our harvests to traders at P5 per kilo. Now, we can sell them at P13 to P15 per kilo because we now have the drying facilities and we are quipped with moisture meter to determine the moisture content of our harvests. With these, we are assured of right price for our produce and get additional income,” Panaligan said.

She said that it is not only the farmers who benefitted from the FBD, but the organization as well. At present, they recorded a net income of more than P100,000 from its drying services to its members as well as to non-members of the organization.

Part of the amount was spent in the rehabilitation of some damaged parts of the FBD like the perforated screen.

Meanwhile, the members of the Daan Banua Rainfed Farmers Association (DBRFA) in Kabankalan City said they were able to improve and extend the shed of their FBD unit; built a mini warehouse for their dried palay and replaced the perforated screen to bamboo slots as flooring which they found as more effective, durable and cheaper.

The use of bamboo slots was recommended by the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija as a low-cost alternative to perforated screens which are too expensive.

“The bamboo slots as flooring are much better compared to the original flooring. The perforated screen of our unit only lasted for two harvest season. The bamboo flooring, aside from its durability, it is available even at our backyard,” said Elizar T. Gelasan, project manager of the DBRFA.

Another beneficiary of the PHilMech FBD in Negros Occidental is the Katingban Dulao Irrigators’ Association in Bago City. The association caters the drying needs of their 86 members with more than 280 hectares of irrigated land area.

The group also made some improvements to their dryer like the use of steel matting instead of perforated screen. Also, they extended the shed of their FBD to serve as storage areas for their dried palay.

Leopoldo S. Gozon, chairperson of the Katingban Dulao IA, recommended the use of FBD for farmers to enjoy it benefits and save their harvests from wastage.

“During rainy season, harvested palay is at low quality and has a high percentage of deterioration due to lack of drying facilities. Farmers like us suffer a lot, but all these problems were solved with the help of flatbed dryer,” Gozon said.

Officials and members of these farmers organization are still requesting for additional unit of flatbed dryer to accommodate more farmers and enjoy its benefits.

“Through the flatbed dryer, we will no longer dry our harvests along the road and we are assured of added income and we can contribute in reducing postharvest losses,” Gelasan said.

The distribution of the flatbed dryer to irrigators’ associations and farmers’ organizations in the country is part of the mechanical drying program of the Department of Agriculture. (Aeron P. Bermudez)

DZIQ: Comelec junks disqualification case vs Sulu gov

Citing lack of merit, the Commission on Elections junked the disqualification case filed by a local official against Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan following the May 10 automated elections, Radyo Inquirer reported Thursday.

MANILA, Philippines – Citing lack of merit, the Commission on Elections junked the disqualification case filed by a local official against Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan following the May 10 automated elections, Radyo Inquirer reported Thursday.

The poll body’s First Division issued the six-page resolution dismissing the case filed by Mayor Ahmad Nanoh who accused Tan of violating the Omnibus Election Code when he suspended the mayor whom he slapped with an administrative complaint for allegedly refusing to support the candidacy of the Sulu governor, the report said.

But Tan countered that the 90-day preventive suspension against Nanoh wasn’t punishment but was part of the normal process so that he would not influence the investigation, the report said.

He said that Nanoh’s suspension was in relation to the Anti-Graft Acts and not part of the prohibition under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code and that there was no need for him to seek the permission of the Comelec.

For the report, listen to Radyo Inquirer, DZIQ 990. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Package bomb explodes in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 29, 2010) – A package bomb sent to a woman on Wednesday exploded inside her house in the Philippine city of Taguig killing her instantly, reports said on Wednesday.

It said the blast late Tuesday also wounded the woman’s husband and child.

It was not immediately what type of explosive was used in the attack, but police claimed the woman, Yvonne Chua, was only a house maker. Her husband, Louie, and son Benson, were rushed by neighbors to hospital.

Police did not say who sent the package or the motive of the attack. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine security forces pursue suspected bombers

Police patrol Sulu province in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 29, 2010) – Security forces were pursuing Wednesday two unidentified men who escaped after leaving behind a mortar bomb near the Sulu provincial capitol building in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said alert provincial guards and policemen securing the building spotted the men before dawn and chased them, but failed to catch up with the duo. “The men fled on motorcycle after they were chased by provincial guards and policemen,” said Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional army spokesman based in Zamboanga City.

He said security forces recovered an 81mm mortar bomb left behind by the men. “The bomb would have been used for another terrorist activity,” he said.

Sulu police chief Amil Baanan said they have deployed more policemen near the sprawling capitol grounds and vital government installations to protect them from terrorism.

“We have deployed additional forces to secure vital installations against possible terror attacks,” Baanan said.

It was unknown whether the bomb was intended for the governor of Sulu, Sakur Tan, who was among 11 people wounded last year after a motorcycle bomb exploded near his convoy outside his office.

Tan also survived a suicide bombing this year outside the airport in Zamboanga City and police blamed his political foes with links to the militant group Abu Sayyaf as behind the attack.

On Christmas day, Abu Sayyaf rebels also bombed a Catholic church inside a police base in the capital town of Jolo which left 11 people wounded, including a priest.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the string of terror attacks not only in Sulu province, but other areas in Mindanao. Police and military said Indonesian terrorists who are members of the Jemaah Islamiya are aiding the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)

Kontrabandong bala nasamsam sa Zamboanga City

Isang angulo ng Port of Zamboanga na kuha mula sa isang ferry. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 29, 2010) – Nasamsam ng mga awtoridad sa Zamboanga City sa Mindanao ang isang cargo ng mga bala at patalim mula sa ferry na patungo sana sa lalawigan ng Tawi-Tawi sa katimugan ng bansa.

Nadiskubre ang cargo matapos na magsagawa ng inspeksyon ang mga kawani ng Coast Guard sa Port of Zamboanga nuong Martes ng gabi matapos na walang umako sa mga ito. Inupuan umano ng isang K9 ng Coast Guard ang naturang kargamento sa M/V Magnolia Fragrance kung kaya’t lalong itong nagpatibay ng hinala na may pulbura ito sa loob.

At ng buksan ito ay doon na bumulaga ang sari-saring bala mula machine gun hanggang .45 kalibre pistola at mga patalim. Hindi naman agad mabatid kung sino ang may-ari nito, ngunit pangkaraniwan na sa mga barko sa Zamboanga City ang makapagkarga ng mga kontrabando dahil hindi naman mahigpit ang pagsisiyat sa mga cargos na isinasakay sa barko.

Sira rin ang mga x-ray machines ng Port of Zamboanga kung kayat lalong hirap ang pagbabantay. Malimit rin na pumapasok sa Port of Zamboanga ang mga pribadong sasakyan na may mga kargamento ng hindi dumaraan sa inspeksyon. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reds celebrate anniversary with masses in Mindanao

Communist rebels led by Jorge Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, meet with members of the Philippine press during a recent clandestine interview which coincided with the 42nd founding anniversary of the New People’s Army in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)
MINDANAO, Philippines (Dec. 28, 2010) - Several thousand people joined Monday celebrations of the 42nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines in a what was described as "one of the biggest celebrations of the revolutionary victories of the Filipino people exhibiting the continuing growth of the revolutionary movement led by the CPP."

At the same time, the CPP denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police "for setting-up checkpoints along the route to the site of the assembly to harass participants and dissuade them from proceeding to the site of the celebrations in violation of the spirit and intent of the 19-day ceasefire."

The whole day celebration was hosted by the National Democratic Front-Mindanao.

According to NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos, a few more thousand people failed to join the celebrations because of the checkpoints setup by the military and police. "Checkpoints were setup by the 4th Infantry Division all over the Caraga region in a desperate attempt by the AFP to prevent the people from joining the celebrations of the CPP anniversary."

At around eight in the morning, traffic built up to around two kilometers along the main highway leading to San Agustin town, Surigao del Sur, as military and police operatives blocked scores of vehicles carrying participants. According to Ka Oris: "The military and police unreasonably blocked the people's free movement insisting on listing all the license numbers of vehicles, asking for registration papers and checking the license of drivers."

The military and police checkpoints only relented when reporters and cameramen from local and international media outfits arrived and witnessed the harassments.

"The attempts to stop people from joining the celebrations of the CPP violated the spirit and intent of the simultaneous ceasefire which, among others, aim at allowing personnel of both sides to be with their families and friends to hold celebrations during the holidays," added Ka Oris.

"Despite the harassments, the celebrations pushed through and was carried out successfully," added Ka Oris. Thousands of peasants and lumad people, fisherfolk, as well as workers and students from town centers joined a company of New People's Army Red fighters in a field surrounded by coconut trees and rice paddies. "This shows the deep and widespread support of the people for the Communist Party and the revolutionary movement."

The occasion also served as an opportunity for Red fighters to be joined by their families.

According to the CPP, scores of other smaller assemblies were carried out in guerrilla fronts all over the country, as well as in factories, schools, offices, private homes and communities in cities and town centers. (Marco Valbuena)

Sulu police chief sacked over failure to prevent Abu bombing

Members of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police patrol the province of Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 28, 2010) – The Philippine police sacked its commander in the southern province of Sulu three days after Abu Sayyaf rebels bombed a Catholic church wounding a priest and 10 other people.

Sulu police chief Shepard Reyes was immediately replaced by Superintendent Amil Baanan, a decorated officer who was the operations chief of the local police force.

Reyes was relieved over his failure to prevent the Christmas day attack on the church inside the police base in the capital town of Jolo.

Baanan said they have tightened security in Jolo and other areas in the province to prevent similar attacks. “We have tightened our security and we don’t want a repeat of the Abu Sayyaf attack, not in Jolo and not in Sulu,” he said.

Reyes was acting police chief when the bombing occurred. He replaced Superintendent Joseph Ramac, who was ordered removed after a bungled anti-drug operation in Jolo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tindahan ng paputok, naabo sa Sibugay province

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 28, 2010) – Naabo ang isang pamilihan ng mga paputok sa bayan ng Ipil sa lalawigan ng Zamboanga Sibugay matapos na masunog ito dahil rin sa paputok na aksidenteng naihagis doon.

Ayon sa pulisya ay wala naman nasaktan o namatay sa sunog na naganap Kamakalawa ng gabi sa mismong poblacion. Nabatid na nahagip ng paputok ang naturang tindahan kung kahat ito’t nasunog.

Natupok rin sa sunog ang ilang mga stalls na nagbebenta ng mga kung anu-anong paputok at pangregalo sa pasko.

Ilang oras rin nagtagal ang sunog bago ito naaupula ng mga bombero dahil sa kakulangan ng tubig. Wala rin fire hydrant diumano sa nasabing bayan dahil pahirapan ang tubig doon.

Nuong 1995 ay nasunog rin ang buong Ipil dahil sa pagatake ng mga Abu Sayyaf sa nasabing bayan.

Mistulang piyesta naman sa Ipil sa tuwing uulan dahil libreng makakakuha ng tubig ang mga residente. (Mindanao Examiner)


A lighthouse in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Zamboanga City Market Trespasser

An unidentified trespasser crawls under the closed gate of a market in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

4 bilanggo ng CIDG sa Zambo, misteryosong nakapuga!

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 26, 2010) – Isa sa mga suspek sa bagong asasinasyon kay Sulu Governor Sakur Tan ang diumano’y nakatakas, kasama ang tatlong iba, mula sa bilangguan ng Criminal Investigation and Detection Group sa kampo ng pulisya sa Zamboanga City.

Ayon sa pulisya ay nakapuga si Sulaiman Muin, na itinuturong sangkot sa pambobomba sa convoy ni Tan nuong nakaraang taon sa bayan ng Patikul na kung saan ay sugatan ang pulitiko at 10 iba pa. Ang tatlong nakapuga ay nakilala naman sina Khadaffy Askalani, Salipao Pulalun at Nadzmie Amerul.

Pasko umano ng makapuga ang apat, ngunit malaki ang hinala na sila’y pinatakas ng dalawang bantay na pulis na Muslim na nakilalang sina PO1 Renoman at PO1 Algemar Sahiron.

Posibleng nabayaran diumano ang dalawang bantay ng mastermind ng bigong asasinasyon at nag-utos na ang pamunuan ng pulisya na imbestigahan ang dalawa upang mabatid kung may kinalaman nga ang mga ito sa pagtakas ng apat na bilanggo.

Nabatid na sinira diumano ng apat ang kisame ng kanilang selda at rehas na kahoy dakong madaling araw ng Sabado, subali’t hindi naman ito pinaniniwalaan ng mga bikitma ng pambobomba sa Patikul. Hinihiling ng mga biktima na patawan ng kaparusahan ang dalawang pulis upang makulong agad sa lalong madaling panahon.

Nagaalala naman ang mga iba na posibleng magkaroon ng whitewash sa imbestigasyon dahil sa salaping ikinalat ng mga nasa likod ng terorismo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sayyaf frees kidnapped Basilan trader

Photo released by authorities to the Mindanao Examiner shows freed kidnapped Filipina trader Rose Baranda while she is being assited by Basilan province Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul shortly after the Abu Sayyaf released the woman late on Saturday, December 25, 2010.

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 25, 2010) – Kidnappers have freed late Saturday a Filipina trader after 13 weeks in captivity in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said Rose Baranda was released at around 7:45 p.m. near the town of Tipo-Tipo. “Mrs. Rose Baranda was released by her abductors through Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul, the head of the crisis management committee. Mrs. Baranda is now reunited with her family,” said Army Colonel Nicanor Dolojan, commander of military forces in Basilan.

Dolojan did not say if ransom was paid for the safe release of Baranda, but the kidnappers originally demanded P3 million ransom and lowered this to P700,000.

Baranda was kidnapped on November 2 by rebels led by Nur Hassan Jamiri, who is believed holding another trader, Larry Tam Delos Santos, in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Delos Santos was seized in his farm resort in Isabela City on December 16. The abduction came two days after Abu Sayyaf rebels freed a kidnapped school principal Cecilia Sosas, who was seized on November 15, after negotiators paid P200,000 ransom.

Kidnappings-for-ransom are not uncommon in Basilan where dozens of people had been seized over the years and most of them freed in exchange for huge ransoms. (Mindanao Examiner)

Catholic church bombed in the southern Philippines

The aftermath of the bombing Saturday, December 25, 2010 of a Catholic church in the largely Muslim province of Sulu in the restive southern Philippine region. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Nickee Butlangan)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 25, 2010) – At least 6 people were wounded in a bomb attack on a Catholic church in the largely Muslim province of Sulu on Christmas Day, Philippine military officials said.

Officials said an improvised explosive was planted at the church roof inside a police base in the capital town of Jolo. “The explosion occurred at around 7:15 in the morning while the mass was going on. Six people were slightly wounded in the explosion,” said Army Lieutenant Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman, adding among those wounded was a priest.

The blasts damage the ceiling of the church, he said.

The motive of the bombing is unknown and no group or individual claimed responsibility for the latest attack. Security officials would not say whether the militant group Abu Sayyaf was behind the bombing, but rebels had been blamed for many similar attacks in Jolo which in the past targeted the Catholic Cathedral in the town.

It was not immediately known how the bomber was able to scale the roof of the church and plant the explosive undetected by the police, but the building is surrounded by civilian houses in the village of Asturias. It was the second time in recent years that a bomb exploded inside the police base.

The mayor of Jolo, Hussin Amin, chairman of the local crisis management committee, could not be reached for comment, but Cabangbang said security had been tightened in the town.

The bombing came just a week after a US court sentenced an Abu Sayyaf co-founder Madhatta Haipe to 23 years in prison for his role in the kidnappings of 16 tourists, four them Americans, in the southern Philippines in 1995.

Haipe, who escaped military operations in the Philippines, was arrested in Malaysia in 2006 and later extradited in the United States where he pleaded guilty in July. (Mindanao Examiner)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Philippine Muslim rebels praise Saudi Arabia

Philippine Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters patrol a village in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2010) – Muslim have praised Saudi Arabia for joining an international group supporting the peace talks aimed at ending decades of bloody fighting in the Philippines.

“We are happy that Saudi Arabia has finally joined the International Contact Group which is supporting the peace talks between us the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government,” said Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the rebel group which is fighting for self-determination in the largely Catholic country.

Kabalu said aside from Saudi Arabia, which is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan are also members of the International Contact Group alongside with four international organizations - The Asia Foundation in the United States; Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Switzerland; Muhammadiyah in Indonesia and Conciliation Resources in the United Kingdom.

Philippine and MILF peace negotiators last year signed the agreement for the formation of the International Contact Group, which would open the way for the participation of countries, particularly from the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Conference, in the peace process.

The International Contact Group serves as guarantee that both the Filipino government and MILF comply with all signed agreements.

President Gloria Arroyo opened up peace talks with the MILF in 2001 in an effort to end decades of bloody Muslim secessionist war in the restive, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

A Muslim homeland deal initially signed by peace negotiators, but declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, sparked a series of rebel attacks that killed and wounded dozens of civilians in Mindanao. When Arroyo stepped down in June, President-elect Benigno Aquino said he will resume peace talks with the MILF with negotiations likely to begin in January 2011.

The successful outcome of the peace process hinges on proper leverage by ICG countries.

Murad Ebrahim, the secluded leader of the MILF, praised Saudi Arabia for joining the International Contact Group. “The participation of Saudi Arabia in the ICG is not only a big boost to the peace undertaking in Mindanao, but also gives it a greater personality and legitimacy,” he said.

Last year, the Philippines and the MILF also signed an accord ensuring the protection of civilians in areas in Mindanao where there are fighting.

The Agreement on Civilian Protection was signed in Malaysia, which is brokering the peace talks.

The two groups have designated humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations, both international and national, with proven track record for impartiality, neutrality and independence, to carry out the civilian protection functions.
The agreement on civilian protection component is incorporated into the Terms of Reference of the International Monitoring Team composed of Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Libya and Japan.

Under the civilian protection deal, the MILF and the Philippine government agreed to refrain from intentionally targeting or attacking non-combatants, prevent suffering of the civilian population and avoid acts that would cause collateral damage to civilians.

And to refrain from targeting or intentionally attacking civilian properties or facilities such as schools, hospitals, religious premises, health and food distribution centers, or relief operations, or objects or facilities indispensable to the survival of the civilian population and of a civilian nature and take all necessary actions to facilitate the provision of relief supplies to affected communities.

The two sides also agreed to take all precautions feasible to avoid incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and danger to civilian objects and to ensure that all protective and relief actions shall be undertaken in a purely nondiscriminatory basis covering all affected communities.

They would also issue orders to their respective military units or security forces, including paramilitaries, associated militias, and police units to conduct their operations consistent with their obligations and commitments described in the accord. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Justice For Maguindanao Massacre Victims; 13 Months Had Passed!

It is 13 months now since the Maguindanao massacre where at least 32 journalists were among 57 people brutally murdered.

Santa's Tanks

A Filipino boy plays his skateboard Wednesday, December 23, 2010 in front of two army tanks in Kidapawan City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)

Candies for change in Zamboanga City

A grocer on Thursday, December 23, 2010 shows a piece of candy as change for eighty cents given by a cashier at a branch of the Joan's Pharmacy in Zamboanga City in Mindanao. The Department of Trade and Industry warns shops to give exact change to customers instead of candies, but despite this, the illegal practise is still rampant in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Zambo Sur farmers OK flatbed dryer performance

PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 23, 2010) - Farmers who are recipients of the Department of Agriculture’s flatbed dryer project here said the technology helped them dry their harvest easily and save them from wastage.

Ronald Pepito, president of Mantiliba Irrigators Association in New Basak, Dumingag, Zamboanga Del Sur said their one unit of flatbed dryer is now serving its 255 members with 670 hectares service area.

“It has a good performance. With the flatbed dryer, we can dry immediately and store it the next day. However, the quality of the grains does not only depend on the dryer. The kind of seeds used is also a factor in the end product of the grain,” said Pepito.

The association charged P10 drying fee per sack for farmers who avail of the services of the flatbed dryer. They will also provide the laborer and rice hull as fuel for the biomass furnace.

Today, the group already earned P30,000 for its drying services. It has dried around 4,000 cavans of palay since they received the technology in 2009.

Producing quality dried grains will assure farmers of added income. Moreover, problems with the traders who took advantage of the situation of the farmers will now be eliminated as they are equipped with moisture meter to test the moisture content of their harvests.

Bonifacio Corpuz, president of the Dalapang Irrigators Association in Dalapang, Labangan and Alfredo Orque of Upper Salug Daku Integrated Development Multi-purpose Cooperative in Upper Salug, Mahayag said the technology is being useful to many farmers in the area.

Corpuz said before they acquired the technology many of its members dry their harvests along the roads. This is why according to Corpuz, the association needs additional unit of flatbed to accommodate more farmers.

In a study conducted by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija revealed that highway drying results to 2.3 percent physical losses during the wet season and 1.3 percent losses during the dry season.

On the other hand, Orque said the dryer is a great help especially during rainy season. “We will no longer fear the coming of rainy days because we now have drying facilities,” he said.

The province of Zamboanga Del Sur received 124 units of flatbed dryer. The distribution of the flatbed dryers to irrigators associations and cooperatives is part of the mechanical drying program to farm cluster of the DA through PHilMech. (Special to the Mindanao Examiner Erwin S. Embuscado)

Philippine police rescue kidnapped Fil-Chinese student

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 23, 2010) – Police rescued a kidnapped Filipino-Chinese student after two months in captivity in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Thursday.

Officials said Kenneth Lao, 21, was rescued in the village of Langhob in Patikul town late Wednesday after police forces surrounded the kidnappers’ hideout. But Lao’s captors were able to escape under cover of darkness.

“Kenneth is okay and reunited with his family,” said Senior Inspector Amil Baanan, operations chief of the provincial police force.

He said policemen also recovered rice, cassava, cooking pans and clothes left behind by the kidnappers. “Police forces are tracking down the kidnappers,” he said.

Lao was lured out of his school by a friend whom he was texting and then snatched by armed men in October. His family told police that a man phoned them later to say that they are holding Lao captive.

It was unknown whether the Abu Sayyaf, a notorious rebel group blamed for the spate terror attacks and kidnappings-for-ransom, has anything to do withy the abduction.

Police did not say if the kidnappers demanded ransom for Lao’s safe release. (Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pili Nut

A Filipino boy eats raw pili nut (Canarium ovatum) which fell from a tree in Kidapawan City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)

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2 kidnapped Malaysians freed in Tawi-Tawi

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 22, 2010) – Two Malaysian seaweed farm workers kidnapped in Sabah have been freed in the southern Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said the duo - Tsen Vui Chung, 42, and his cousin Lai Wing Chau, 33, - were recovered in Bonggao town late Tuesday and were immediately flown to Manila by authorities.

Philippine police chief Raul Bacalzo also reported the release of the foreigners.

“They are freed,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman, also said quoting military reports.

He said the pressure of government operations against the kidnappers contributed to the safe release of the foreigners. “The pressure of the operations contributed or played a big part for the release of the two Malaysians,” Cabangbang said.

Authorities did not say who was behind the kidnapping, but the captors who were believed to be members of the militant Abu Sayyaf group, demanded two million ringgits in exchange for the safe release of the hostages.

The duo was seized in February from their farm in the island of Pulau Sebangkit in Sabah and was taken to Tawi-Tawi province.
Malaysian authorities initially said the kidnapping was connected to a labor dispute among workers in the seaweed farm and that the hostages are being held in Sabah.

The Abu Sayyaf had also kidnapped 21 mostly Western holidaymakers in Sabah’s resort island of Sipadan in 2001. The hostages were then ransomed off to Libya, which negotiated for their release, for millions of dollars. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sayyaf militant captured in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 21, 2010) – Security forces captured a member of the militant Abu Sayyaf group blamed for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the southern Philippines, officials said on Tuesday.

Officials said Abu Isaac did not resist arrest when he was cornered at the city’s central market on Monday afternoon. “Isaac is facing charges of kidnappings and serious illegal detention in Basilan province,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman.

It was unknown whether Isaac was planning a terror attack or kidnappings, but the spokesman said the militant is being interrogated at an air force base in Zamboanga City.

No details were made available by the military about the background of Isaac, but the Abu Sayyaf had previously bombed civilian targets in Zamboanga City and had kidnapped wealthy trader and foreigners in the past.

The Abu Sayyaf, tied by authorities to the Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, is still holding a Japanese national, two Filipino trader and a Filipino-Chinese student in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Political violence threatens peace in Zambo town

Policemen inspect burned houses in Labangan in Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao where political violence is threatening the peace and order in the town. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Mark Navales)

ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 20, 2010) - Villagers have called for more security in the town of Labangan in Zamboanga del Sur province in Mindanao following the spate of political violence in the area.

Just recently, four houses owned by Mayor Wilson Nandang, were burned under mysterious circumstances. There was suspicion that the fire was deliberate and police said it was investigating the cause of the blaze.

“We are still investigating what triggered the fire,” the town’s deputy police chief, Lito Insong, told the Mindanao Examiner.

A journalist, Edison Flamiña Sr, who doubled as an electrician, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman shortly after he inspected one of the burned houses. Before he was killed, he told villagers that the house was probably burned deliberately.

Journalists who went to the area said they were tailed by suspicious motorcycle men who asked them about their coverage. Several men also asked them about their routes.

Villagers said the political violence in the town had resulted in the deaths of many people over the years, but witnesses were afraid to come out in the open for fear they would be killed.

“We want more protection. We want more policemen and soldiers to maintain peace and order and to dismantle private armies in our town. We are all scared,” one villager said.

Town and security officials were not immediately available to make comment on the prevailing situation in Labangan. (With a report from Mark Navales)

US troops stationed in Southern Philippines threaten journalists

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 20, 2010) - Filipino journalists have denounced Monday the arrogance of US troops guarding an American forward military base in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

Journalists said they had been threatened by the soldiers during an official coverage inside the Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command headquarters where Edilberto Adan, Executive Director of the Visiting Forces Agreement, visited.

The media watchdog National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has condemned the arrogance of the US troops. “The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the arrogant and totally illegal manner in which supposedly visiting American soldiers ordered Zamboanga City-based journalists to stop taking footage while covering a visit by retired general Edilberto Adan, executive director of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission, on Monday.”

It said Adan’s visit, which included the headquarters of the US military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines inside the Western Mindanao Command, is in line with Section 3c of Executive Order 199 mandating the VFA Commission to monitor the activities of foreign military and civilian personnel covered by the defense agreement.

NUJP Director Julie Alipala, who is based in Zamboanga, quoted a local television reporter as saying one of six American soldiers guarding the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines headquarters told the news crew: “I am ordering you not to take footages.”

When one of the reporters asked what the basis for the order was, the American replied: “I don’t understand you but don’t make me take your camera.”

The news crew was taking footage because they were invited by the Philippine military to cover Adan’s visit.

“We maintain that foreigners still have absolutely no authority to tell Filipinos what we can or cannot do in our own country, much less threaten to confiscate their property. If they had any issue, they should have conveyed it to their local counterparts who could then have relayed these concerns to the journalists concerned.”

“As far as we are concerned, even the task force headquarters is not sovereign American territory but Philippine territory visiting foreign troops are allowed to use as part of a defense agreement,” the NUJP said.

It also urged the VFA Commission to conduct an investigation into the incident. It was not the first time this incident occured. US troops stationed in Zamboanga City and Sulu province had previously harassed journalists covering their activities. Some journalists were even arrested for taking photos and videos of patrolling US troops and visiting American military vessels and aircrafts.

US troops also discriminated local journalists and gave special treatment to foreign media covering American military propaganda in the southern Philippines.

“We believe that ultimate authority over the facility resides in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine government, unless they have conceded this authority to what would then essentially be foreign occupiers. We ask the VFA Commission to conduct an investigation into this matter for this arrogant behavior of foreign visitors goes beyond mere security concerns and strikes at the very heart of our sovereignty as a nation and a people. We also demand that the VFA Commission put the Americans in their proper place and warn them against any repetition of this arrogance. To let this incident pass is to abrogate our rights and liberties to foreigners,” the media organization said.

There had been a lot of complaints against US troops stationed in Zamboanga City, Sulu province and other parts of Mindanao because of their arrogance and cases of human rights violation. But many of these complaints had not been acted by the VFA Commission for a still unknown reason, but Adan, who was a former commander of the Southern Command headquarters now called Western Mindanao Command, is reportedly sympathetic with the American forces.
Hundreds of US troops are deployed in the southern Philippines since 2001 and have been helping the local defeat terrorism.

Morong 43 photos surface on the Net

Purported photos of the so-called Morong 43 which surfaced on the Internet.
MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 20, 2010) – Purported photos of members of the so-called Morong 43, who were captured and accused by the military as communist rebels, but ordered freed by President Benigno Aquino III, have surfaced on the Internet.

The pictures posted on the social networking site Facebook showed some of them conducting first aid training with members of the communist rebel group New People’s Army. It can be accessed on this URL:

Along with the photos was a statement saying that five of the Morong 43 admitted to be members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a bloody secessionist war for decades now.

It also linked Filipino-American Melissa Roxas who was allegedly abducted and tortured by government soldiers into admitting she is a communist rebel. Roxas, who denied all accusations against her, was eventually freed. The military denied abducting her and security officials accused the New People’s Army as behind the abduction.

“They Morong 43 should renounce violence if truly they are not New People’s Army rebels. The Morong 43 should be grateful because their rights are protected by the same democratic government they wanted to overthrow in exchange for an autocratic system using the Marxist, Leninist and Maoist thinking,” said one senior army official, who declined to be identified, because he is not authorize to speak for the military.
“Communist leaders have been using the revolutionary front to collect illegal taxation in the country and enrich themselves abroad while rebel forces are fighting an unjust cause and unnecessary wars. The New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front are all front of the nefarious activities of communist leaders who are blinded by greed,” he said.

Members of the Morong 43 were captured by soldiers in February 6 in the town of Morong in Rizal province allegedly while manufacturing improvised explosives, an accusation they strongly denied, saying, they were only conducting health training and seminar on a village when security forces arrested them.

The release of the Morong 43 came after rebels demanded Aquino to free the health workers before Manila can resume stalled peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines. Aquino said he would also free political prisoners. Many soldiers and military officers said they were disgusted over the release of the Morong 43.

Last week, military forces also arrested a senior member of the New People’s Army Pedro Codaste and four others in Agusan del Sur province and rebel leaders have demanded for their immediate release.

Rebel leader Jorge Madlos said the arrest of the five were illegal. “The illegal arrest of Codaste and four others clearly constitute a breach and shows the the utter lack of sincerity on the part of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Armed Forces of ther Philippines towards its declared 18-day mutual truce with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,” Madlos said. “Their continued incarceration gravely undermines not only their declared current ceasefire but also gives glitches to the very future of the talks as well.”

Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after rebels accused then President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)