Friday, June 30, 2006

Photo: Antiterror Drive, What Do They Think?

ANTITERROR DRIVE, WHAT DO THEY THINK?: A Muslim girl and her brother show off a poster of wanted Abu Sayyaf terrorists handed out by the Philippine military in the southern city of Marawi. Security forces are battling Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terror network in the restive southern Philippine region. (Zamboanga Journal)

Spain Unveils P40-M Grant To Help Filipino Students And Teachers In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 30 Jun) Spain has granted a P40-million, two-year educational project that will benefit Filipino students and teachers in Zamboanga City and nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province, coinciding with the celebration Friday of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, officials said.

Called the Acceso a la Educacion y Mejora de la Calidad Educativa en Colegios de la Peninsula de Zamboanga (Improving the Access and Quality of Education in the Schools of the Zamboanga Peninsula), the project by the Agencia Español Cooperacion International and Fundacion Humanismo Y Democracia, both charity arms of the Spanish government, and the Philippine Business for Social Project (PBSP), is expected to benefit more than 23,000 elementary and secondary students, including teachers and parents-teachers community associations in the three pilot areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

It aims to provide scholarship assistance to more than 2,000 poor and deserving students, and establish a 15-cubicles speech laboratory worth P1.2 million to increase the proficiency of the students in English and also to help promote and preserve the local Chavacano language, a unique mixture of Spanish and other Filipino dialects.

Officials said the educational grant will also include the construction of 30 classrooms and other facilities such as audiovisual production center, tables and chairs and texts books, and supplementary feeding program and remedial reading workshops.

Dr Marilyn Moncada, PBSP's senior regional manager, said they identified the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School in Zamboanga City and 42 elementary schools from the municipalities of Ipil and Titay in Zamboanga Sibugay to be primary beneficiaries.

For instance, she said, the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, which is one of the most populated schools in the southern region, lacks chairs and tables. She said the school, which has a population of more than 7,000, has only
2, 500 chairs for students to share.

"The lack of school materials greatly affected the performance of the students, who have been complaining of back pain since they don't have chairs to sit during classes," she said.

Pilar Rodriguez, representative of the Spanish-aid group, said the project is part of Madrid's humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, a former colony.

Madrid has provided the Philippines with grants and other assistance to help promote social services, education, health, and other projects that included potable water system, agriculture and food security, good governance and environment protection.

"The program will not only promote good relationship among the two governments, but would also address some of the educational concerns in the Zamboanga Peninsula area.

"Basically the project aims to increase the access of children and youth to quality education and make them more productive students," she said.

Rodriguez said the project is part of the 28.5 million euros (roughly P1.8 billion) that will be implemented in a three-year period starting this year.

She noted that Spain has decided to upgrade its cooperation with Manila to help fight poverty not only in Zamboanga Peninsula, but also in Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region and Caraga in southern Mindanao and in Bicol in Luzon.

Last year the Spanish government thru Manos Unidas also granted the Philippines P50-million for the construction of a five-hectare housing project for poor families in Ayala district in Makati City.

Local officials led a small Spanish delegation in celebrating the Philippines-Spanish Friendship Day, which was marked with photo exhibit at the Fort Pilar and simple ceremonies attended by much of the city's elite personalities.

Misamis Oriental Telephone To Introduce Internet Services

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 29 Jun) In a strong bid to stop the further erosion of its subscriber base and give its competitors a taste of their own medicine, the Misamis Oriental Telephone System, Inc. (MISORTEL) is bringing in affordable high-speed data services to its furthest service areas.

Oscar S. Moreno, president of the MISORTEL and governor of Misamis Oriental province, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with DC Tech Micro Services, Inc. that will make 24/7 Internet services available to new subscribers.

Engr. Ryan Sumalinog, DC Tech vice president for operations, who signed in behalf of the firm, said the new value added service called MISORNET will feature a two-tiered service structure: its Ulimited Dial-Up Service will deliver 24/7 Internet services at a minimum speed of 52 kbps (vs. 38 kbps. tops for competitors) for only P399 a month, while its DSL service guarantees a speed of 384 kbps for only P799 a month, but will enable the user to access the Internet and use his voice phone at the same time.

Sumalinog said the 24/7 Unlimited Dial-Up Service is ideal for home and personal use while the DSL service would best serve the needs of small and medium enterprises.

DC Tech is a full complement service provider based in Davao City which is now providing similar value-added services in partnership with Globe-Telecoms to local exchange carriers (LECs) of the Telecommunications Office in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan; Maramag, Malaybalay and Valencia cities in Bukidnon; Cotabato, Pikit, Kabakan, Matalam, Panabo, Tagum and Mati.

Marriz Manuel B. Agbon, DC Tech Sales and Marketing Partner in Northern Mindanao, said the move would provide local businessmen the impetus to invest in ICT.

"With additional investments in ICT, enhanced executive reporting follows, leading to significant cost reductions, revenue growth and increased profitability as a result of improved work efficiency brought by reduced data losses and integrated systems of operations," Agbon said.

Moreno is optimistic the venture would further push MISORTEL's mission to provide modern, adequate, efficient, reliable and affordable telecommunications specially to areas currently unserved and underserved by the company, which is majority owned by the Misamis Oriental provincial government.

"The provision of Voice and Internet applications in remote areas has become a necessity," Moreno said. "In order for us to keep up with other developing nations, our citizens must be aware and knowledgeable to successfully compete in the global market. This is where MISORTEL's partnership with DCTech plays a vital role.

Industry sources estimate Internet users in the Philippines would grow to 20 million by next year and to 41 million by 2014.

"The business sector, being an engine of growth, is also a priority of this venture," Moreno said. "For our economy to be globally competitive, Filipino businessmen, especially those engaged in agri-business, must also be at par technology wise with their global competitors."

Sumalinog said the new venture would also bring in new subscribers to MISORTEL which has seen its former dominance in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental diminish with the inroads made on new and existing subscribers by cellphone service providers.

"Since we shall do the installation, maintenance and collection from MISORTEL, they will gain a steady revenue stream at little or no expense to their present network," he said.

Already, Sumalinog said DCTech provides its value added services to some 60 percent of the Internet cafes in Cagayan de Oro City, offering 1mpbs package for only P8,000 and their 768 kbps for only P4,000. He said they have also successfully increased the total subscriber base of all the Telof LECs they are now serving by 15 percent after only four months of operations.

"We hope we will be able to do the same, or even better, for MISORTEL," he added.

Death Toll Now 21 In Maguindanao Fighting, MILF Rebels, AFP Troops On Full Alert

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

10 Killed In New MILF Fighting In Southern Philippines

MAGUINDANAO (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) At least 10 government militias were killed in fierce fighting Thursday with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, despite a truce and the presence of international cease-fire observers.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said rebel forces have killed at least 10 militias and had overran a military command post in the town of Shariff Aguak, scene of a bomb attack last week that killed 5 people and injured 14 others.

Two rebels were reported wounded in the clashes, said Eid Kabalu, an MILF spokesman. "The fighting is still going, I can hear the sounds of automatic gunfire and explosions from where I am now," Kabalu told the Zamboanga Journal by phone from a rebel base near Maguindanao.

He said the fighting erupted after the army-backed CVO (Civilian Volunteer Organization) militias attacked MILF stronghold since Wednesday, breaking a five-year old truce between rebels and the military.

The military denied the allegations and said rebels fired rockets on an army post, manned by soldiers and militias, in the village of Koloy in Shariff Aguak, sparking a fighting that spread to four other villages.

"CVO elements from (the villages of) Tapikan, Koloy, Nabundas and Pulang Lupa, all of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao were simultaneously attacked by heavily armed group (of rebels)," said Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

Pabilonia said the fighting started late Wednesday, but could not say if there were soldiers killed in the clashes. He said more soldiers were sent to the town to reinforce security forces in the area. "One company from the Army's 75th Infantry Battalion and another from 25th Infantry Battalion proceeded to the headquarters of the 64th Infantry Battalion to strengthen and reinforced the engaged troops," he said.

Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the fighting.
Kabalu warned that the fighting would escalate in other areas and could affect the peace talks if the militias continue to attack MILF forces. "We fear this trouble will worsen if they continue to attack us. We are only fighting back in self-defense," he said.

Police and military have tagged two senior MILF leaders as behind the bombing in Shariff Aguak on June 23. The bomb, security officials said, was intended to assassinate Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, a charged strongly denied by the MILF.

"That's not true; the MILF had nothing to do with the bombing. The military is only using the issue to justify attacks on us," Kabalu said, adding, those who attacked MILF strongholds were allegedly followers of Ampatuan, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Arroyo. "The militias belong to the armies of Ampatuan, there could be hundreds of them," he said.

Nori Unas, the provincial administrator, said one of those killed in the bombing was the nephew of Ampatuan and that the attack targeted the governor who was unhurt in the blast. The bomb was left near a parked vehicle on the market where the politician's convoy had passed. "The governor was obviously the target of the attack," Unas said, adding, Ampatuan's convoy was passing when the bomb went off.

The latest fighting coincided with the failure of government and rebel peace negotiators to sign an agreement last month on the Muslim ancestral domain.

Ancestral domain refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement. In September, government and rebel peace negotiators have signed several agreements centered on the ancestral domain -- its concept, territories and resources, and how the MILF shall govern these places.

The MILF is demanding that large areas in Mindanao be included in the proposed ancestral domain. This include the five Muslim autonomous provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes, but government negotiators disagreed, saying, Manila will not allow the country to be dismembered.

President Arroyo opened peace talks in 2001 with the MILF, the country's largest separatist rebel group fighting for an independent Muslim state in the southern region, in an effort to put an end to more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao.

In February, security and rebel forces clashed for weeks in Shariff Aguak town and left more than a dozen people dead from both sides. The fighting erupted after the MILF opposed a provincial government road construction that rebels claimed would encroach into their territories in the village of Datu Unsay.

Cotabato Environment Chief Survives Ambush

Police investigators examine the bullet-riddled car of a top environment official who survived an ambush in Cotabato City. (Mark Navales)
COTABATO CITY (Mark Navales / 29 Jun) One person was killed and three others wounded in an attack in Cotabato City in the southern Maguindanao province, police said Thursday.

Police said Kahal Kidtag, director of the local environment office, survived the ambush late Wednesday afternoon, but his driver was killed in the attack. Two civilians near the area were also hit and wounded by stray bullets.

The gunmen, police said, opened fire on the car in downtown Cotabato. Police is still investigating the motive of the attack, officials said, adding, Kidtag was heading home when ambushed.

Police said a nine-year old boy and an 18-year old civilian were wounded in the attack.

US Ambassador Tours Grade School In Tondo

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney with Filipino school children in Tondo, Manila.

MANILA -- U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney visited the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education, known as the CENTEX School, in Tondo in Manila on Wednesday.

She also toured several classrooms, visited students, and met with parents and teachers. Later, Kenney aqlso met with Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman of the Ayala Foundation and Ayala Land, which developed and continues to fund the school.

Some of the CENTEX classrooms use a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) teaching program called “text2teach.” The Ayala Foundation and USAID also coordinate on a program to bring Internet access to public schools.

The CENTEX School educates approximately 175 children from kindergarten through sixth grade from economically disadvantaged families. A partnership with the Department of Education and the Government of Manila, the school is chiefly funded by Ayala Land.

Aside from providing free education, CENTEX provides financial support by subsidizing students’ school uniforms, books, transportation, and meals. “What an impressive example of corporate responsibility and giving real opportunities to young Filipinos,” said Ambassador Kenney. “I met wonderful young students who are incredibly motivated, well spoken, and all-around impressive.

The parents are all dedicated to their children’s education, and the teachers are equally remarkable.” Ambassador Kenney noted she was particularly impressed with the special attention given to helping students not only strive for higher education, but also to assisting children and families on issues such as self esteem and nutrition.

Kidnapped Muslim Poll Official Freed In Mindanao

A Muslim woman shows off a sticker with markings "tulungan and tabangan" which literally means "to help" during a recent joint RP-US medical mission in the southern Philippines. Troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels are pursuing Thursday, 29 June 2006, a band of bandits who freed a kidnapped Muslim poll official in Lanao del Norte province.

ILIGAN CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) Kidnappers have freed a Muslim poll official after private negotiators allegedly paid some 100,000 pesos ransom in exchange for his life in the southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.

Officials said gunmen released the 56-year old Disalungan Pulala, of the Commission on Election, after the ransom was paid late Wednesday in the remote village of Ulangu in the town of Balo'i in Lanao del Norte, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Pulala was kidnapped Monday while on his way to mosque in Iligan City. "He was freed alright, but not after negotiators allegedly paid some one hundred thousand pesos," Marine Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ben Dolorfino, deputy commander of the Southern Command, told the Zamboanga Journal.

The payment of ransom violated the government's strict no ransom policy, he said. Government soldiers, backed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces, mounted a joint operation Thursday to track down the kidnappers headed by bandit leader Elias Makil.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said rebel forces were also working closely with the military through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down the kidnappers.

Another group of kidnappers are still holding Kurt Degracia, an 11-year old boy seized June 23 in Parang town in Maguindanao province. Gunmen kidnapped Degracia inside the Landasan Central Pilot Elementary School in front of his horrified teacher and classmates. His family owns a chain of hardware stores, authorities said.

"The MILF is really working very closely with the military to hunt down the kidnappers and we will not stop until they are arrested," Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said in an interview.

Last month, gunmen seized Pala-o Diamla, a court sheriff in Marawi City in Lanao de Sur province on orders from a politician who lost in the May 2004 elections.

Diamla was returning home May 30 when kidnapped by a band of armed men. He was freed a week later after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, backed by government soldiers, threatened to assault the kidnappers' hideout in the province.

The military said a defeated town vice mayoralty candidate, who has a pending electoral protest, allegedly masterminded the kidnapping to force the court to rule on his favor. Even judges in the provinces who were hearing election protests were also under threat.

The MILF, the country's largest Muslim separatist rebel group, forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the MILF is actively operating.

MILF forces also rescued in May a nine-year old girl, Donna May Ramos, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the southern island of Basilan. Rebel forces, led by Bonie Salie, captured two men holding Ramos and rescued the girl May 13 in the hinterland village of Limbo Upas in Tipo-Tipo town.

The fate of the two men Jaid Awalal and Jaljani Isnilon was unknown, but the rebels handed the girl, daughter of Councilor Donnel Ramos who was kidnapped May 10 while playing with a friend in Lamitan town.

Troops Disarm Bomb In Jolo Island

A Muslim woman covers her face from patrolling Filipino soldiers in the southern Islamic city of Marawi in the restive island of Mindanao, where security forces are battling members of the militant Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya terrorists. (Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) Troops disarmed a powerful homemade bomb planted near a government school in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where security forces are battling members of the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya terror network, officials said.

Officials said civilians informed the soldiers Monday about the bomb planted just 50 meters outside the Pitogo Elementary School in Kalingalang Kaluang town. "Troops have secured the area and safely disarmed the bomb," said Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the military's Southern Command.

Pabilonia said the bomb was connected to an electric wire and had a firing mechanism. He did not say whether the Abu Sayyaf planted the bomb, but the group is actively operating in the town. "We still cannot say if it was an Abu Sayyaf or not, but the operation against the terrorist group is ongoing," he said.

The military have blamed the Abu Sayyaf group for the spate of killings, bombings and kidnappings in the troubled island, about 950 km south of Manila.

Washington offered as much as $5 million bounty for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group's leaders and their members dead or alive. The US included the group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Laguindingan Town In Misamis Oriental Is Best Site For New Airport In Northern Mindanao

Proposed airport in Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental province.

LAGUINGINDAN, MISAMIS ORIENTAL (Mike Banos / 29 Jun) The Laguindingan site is not only the best but also the only site available on which airport facilities can be developed to adequately meet the objective of improved, international standard air service for Northern Mindanao, including the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC).

Steven Doerr, senior airport engineer for Louis Berger International, Inc. (LBII) the consulting firm which conducted the feasibility study, master plan, initial geotechnical investigations and environmental impact study for the Laguindingan Airport in 1991, said in a report that geotechnical considerations should not inhibit the development of the Laguindingan Airport Development Project (LADP).

Doerr said detailed surveys of the proposed site should be undertaken, and would in any event need to be undertaken, during or before the design phase of the project. He added that the LADP site is the best available site and should be developed due to terrain and other operational constraints at the present Cagayan de Oro Airport in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City.

Lumbia airport's operational capability can't be improved due to its surrounding high terrain which exceeds ICAO-recommended standards. Lengthening the runway would not affect these constraints.

Pending the results of further surveys, Doerr said it is likely that these concerns could be addressed in the design of the airfield pavements.

Since new airport facilities at Laguindingan would provide more efficient, unlimited operations at a higher level of service than an upgraded Lumbia airport, he recommended that further investigations/evaluations should be performed and that the LADP proceed.

Doerr said that at the time of the study in 1991, LBII recommended that detailed surveys and seismic testing be made to locate and evaluate the influence of underground caves and cavities on the design of airport facilities.

Such a study could also take into consideration lessons learned from the construction of the Mactan Airport which has similar soil characteristics as the Laguindingan airport site.

Doerr added that while LBII agrees that there are geotechnical concerns which must be evaluated and addressed, it should be stressed, however, that these concerns do not preclude the development of airport facilities at the Laguindingan site.

Given that the Laguindingan site, in the opinion of the Engineer, not only was the best site but the only site available on which airport facilities could be developed to adequately meet the objective of improved, international standard air service for the region, it was felt that the extent of any possible subsurface problems should be determined and that they could be economically compensated for in the design of the airfield pavements, Doerr's report said.

Another issue which continues to be brought up against the Laguindingan Airport project is that there's no need to invest in a new airport since the present Lumbia airport can be upgraded to handle wide-body jets which are now the standard for long-haul, international flights.

Doerr reiterated the previous findings of LBII that the development of Lumbia Airport as an alternative to a new CIC airport cannot be considered to provide "international standard airport facilities to meet commercial air transport needs," as required by the LADP's Terms of Reference.

While noting that the Lumbia airport can handle the forecast passenger traffic in the medium-term, operationally, night flights or wide-body aircraft operations is impossible and efficient, low-cost cargo operations would be limited.

Doerr noted that general air operations in the Lumbia airport vicinity are restricted by high terrain, with only very limited maneuvering possible south of the airport.

The key constraint in terms of aircraft take-off performance is the high terrain approximately 2,500 meters south of the airport. This piece of land is approximately 70 meters above the runway elevation, which exceeds ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards for the inner approach slope.

According to Philippine Airlines (PAL), this obstacle results in a six ton weight penalty for B737s on departures to the south.

Considering how Lumbia has already been missing out on high value fruit and vegetable shipments that are now shipped through Davao airport due to the bigger cargo capacities of the aircraft operating there, this becomes a very significant constraint on the further development of the fresh fruits and vegetable industry in Northern Mindanao.

The high terrain also affects instrument flight operations. Even with the existence of navigational aids such as the VOR/DME and ILS (Instrument Landing System), PAL restricts low-visibility operations because of the terrain's effect on missed approach and circling operations.

Even at the time of the study in 1991, PAL believed that navigational aids and instrument procedures would not significantly improve the reliability of commercial air service at the Lumbia airport. PAL also indicated they would not assign wide-body aircraft to the Lumbia airport because of the terrain constraints in the airport vicinity.

Doerr noted that this represents an important limitation on Lumbia airport because as passenger levels grow, larger aircraft with lower average cost per seat-kilometer become more economical to operate.

Because of terrain constraints, Doerr said the Lumbia airport has permanent constraints related to 1) range of potential operational procedures; 2) installation of improved instrument procedures, and resulting enhancement of safety and adverse weather operational capacity; 3) operations by larger, more efficient aircraft; and 4) night and adverse weather operating restrictions.

Doerr also noted that while runway extensions for the airport have been proposed and programmed in the past, "it should be noted that such extensions would neither significantly reduce existing operational constraints at the Lumbia airport nor enhance its operational capacity."

In contrast, the operation of the proposed international standard Laguindingan Airport will result to major economic benefits resulting from improved airport operational capabilities, including: a) potential for wide-body jet operations, potential for night commercial flights, instrument operations for both approaches and improved capability for commercial operations during adverse weather conditions.

Doerr said Lumbia airport's operational capability in these respects cannot be improved due to the surrounding high terrain in excess of ICAO-recommended standards. Lengthening the runway would not affect these constraints.

On the other hand, the Laguindingan Airport can accommodate night flights. Due to its location near sea level it is anticipated that weather-related cancellations would decrease over those currently suffered at Lumbia.

Even with the ILS operational, it only serves the south approach and cannot bring in aircraft coming from the opposite direction during adverse weather conditions.
Larger, more comfortable and more economical wide-body aircraft could be accommodated in Laguindingan, and these would make significant amounts of reliable cargo space available to local shippers. Some 75% of all cargo shipped through the Lumbia airport are perishable agricultural products.

In summary, significant benefits can be realized with the development of new airport facilities at Laguindingan which will not be available to an upgraded Lumbia airport. (The author was actively involved in the planning for the Laguindingan Airport in 1995-1997 when he was planning officer for the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor Project Management Office, of which the CIC Airport is a top priority infrastructure project.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Trust Us, Muslim Traders Say To Financial Institutions

BASILAN ISLAND (Darwin Wee / 28 Jun) Businessmen and entrepreneurs in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) expressed concern over the apprehension of some private banks and other financing institutions in providing them substantial amount of loans.

Some 300 Muslim traders, entrepreneurs, and businessmen who attended the region’s business congress in Lamitan town June 26-27 complained that both private and government banks and financing institutions were reluctant to approve their loans, particularly those involving large amount of money.

Datu Harun U. Bandila, ARMM Business Council president, said many banks and lending firms were hesistant to provide loans to Muslims for fear that they would not be able to repay their debts.

"Since there is no substantial capital, many Muslim businessmen are now venturing into trading. They trade goods one after another because less capital is being spent," he said.

He said to win back the trust, the business council is mulling to hold a conference with bank executives and representatives of financing institutions in the country to discuss about the matter. "The ultimate goal here is to assure the banks and financing firms that Muslim businessmen can pay, they have to trust us too," he said.

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera


TUGOTING sublion nako sa pagpadayag ang akong kahinangop sa gihugonhugon nga paghimog lakang aron makabaton na og kaugalingong supply sa kuryente ang dakbayan sa Sugbo. Maayo hinuon aron kon sa usa ka paagi o sa lain, maibanan ang dakong panginahanglan sa mga Sugboanon og kuryente.

Sa pagsulat niini, gipaabot nga makapahimulos og mga modernong kahimanan ug pasilidad nga mas barato usab ang bayranan sa makonsumo nga kuryente ang tanang mga magpapatigayon nga mobubo og puhonan sa South Reclamation Project (SRP) sa Cebu City.

Gikataho nga pormal nang gipahibalo ni Mayor Tomas Osmena ang mag-produce og kaugalingong supply sa kuryente sa Cebu City. Kon walay modangat nga kakulian, posibleng magsugod sa bulan sa Septiyembre ang paggamit sa kaugalingong supply sa kuryente ug kini gamiton sa pamatigayon sa SRP.

Nunot niini, gipadayag ni Osmena nga usa ka European scientist ang gikuha nila aron maoy modugtong sa kable nga gamiton sa pagkuha og supply sa kuryente nga gproduce gikan sa biogas.

Gipaabot usab nga makahatag kini og supply sa kuryente nga 5 megawatts alang sa SRP ug kini dako na kaayong tabang alang sa mga magpapatigayon nga mobubo og puhonan sa maong proyekto sanglit makagarantiya man kini nga dili mapiang ang ilang patigayon sa panahon nga mahitabo ang lapad ug dugay nga brownout.

Ang 5 megawatts nga kuryente dako na kaayog ikatabang sa operasyon sa pamatigayon sa SRP. Nindot gayod bitaw kon adunay kaugalingong supply sa kuryente ang SRP aron nga magpadayon ang hapsay nga pamatigayon bisan pa kon may mahitabong pag-brownout. Mao nga manghinaot kita nga matigayon gayod kining maong plano.

Pipila na lang ka bulan ug ASEAN Summit na gyod. Gipadayon gihapon hangtod karon ang pagpangandam sa Sugbo alang sa umaabot nga 12th ASEAN Summit. Daghan na ang gihimo sa lokal nga kagamhanang lokal agig pagpangandam sa maong dakong hitabo.

Nasuta nga ang pagpahigayon sa ASEAN Summit dako kaayog matabang aron mapatahom ang Sugbo. Gipangtapakan ang libaongon nga kadalanan ug gipatahom ang mga dapit nga maagian sa mga delegado sa summit. Labaw sa tanan, gitukod ang Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) nga human sa summit, seguradong magamit pa sa laing dagkong kalihokan sa umaabot.

Angay lang nga pangandaman gayod og maayo ang pag-host sa Cebu sa ASEAN tungod kay ang pagduaw sa mga bisita nga mga delegado sa Summit posible man nga maoy maggahas og dalan aron madugangan ang mga turista nga makabig sa pagduaw sa Sugbo.

Importante gayod nga pangandaman, labaw sa tanan, ang bahin sa seguridad. Ilabi na karong panahona nga gikataho nga ang Sugbo gitarget sa mga terorista, kinahanglan gayod nga maseguro nga luwas ang mga bisita nga moduaw sa Sugbo.

Alang nako, ang Sugbo dili hingpit nga luwas gikan sa mga terorista. Daghan kaayog mga lutsanan ang mga terorista nga buot moanhi sa Sugbo. Maarang-arang na lang nga duna nay gipakatap nga mga polis sa lainlaing dapit kay sa ingon, posibleng moiklam og diyotay ang mga terorista.

Mas angay pa gayod unyang hugtan ang pagbantay sa seguridad atol sa ASEAN Summit. Delikado kon pahimuslan sab sa mga terorista ang hiagyon ug mabulabog na hinuon kita sa ilang pagpangatake atol sa maong higayon. Kinahanglang alerto kita kanunay.

NIADTONG miaging pipila ka semana, nabaniog ang balita nga may mga sparrow unit sa New People's Army (NPA) nga bag-o pang nakahuman sa ilang pagbansaybansay nga anaa na sa ilang test mission sa pagkakaron.

Ang misyon niining maong sparrow unit, matod pa, mao ang paglikidar sa mga kurakot nga mga opisyal sa gobyerno ug ang kapolisan. Ang kapolisan nga mibutyag niining maong kasayoran miingon nga higpit na nilang gi-build-up ang ilang intelligence network sa kabarangayan aron pag-monitor sa kalihokan niining maong mga sparrow unit.

Ang akong baroganan niining maong balita mao nga makalibog pa kini sa pagkakaron. Alang nako, dili dayon ko motuo sa maong balita tungod kay daghan karon ang mga binuang nga estorya nga gipakatap ilabi na nga hapit na ang ASEAN Summit.

Dunay akong nadunggan nga kuwarta gihapon ang nagpaluyo niining maong isyu tungod kay dunay gustong manguwarta ginamit kining maong isyu. Hinuon, dili usab gayod angay mokompiyansa ang atong kapolisan kay basin tinuod usab nga may sparrow unit gayod nga gipalihok ang mga NPA.

Hinuon, ang angay mahadlok sa giingong mga sparrow unit mao kadtong mga tawong kurakot tungod kay mao man kaha kini ang target sa maong mga elemento. Kadtong walay gibuhat nga daotan dili angay mabalaka niini.


Husto ang lakang sa pagpakatap og tourist police ug traffic police sa Cebu City ilabi na karon nga giingong may mga terorista nga gustong magmugnag kadaot ug kasamok sa maong lugar.

Importante kaayo nga maseguro nga luwas ang atong kaigsuonan bisan asa sila maglakaw. Angay usab proteksiyonan ang buotan natong mga turista aron dili sila motagam sa pagbisita sa Sugbo.

Hapit na ang ASEAN Summit. Ug samtang nagsingabot na ang maong dakong kalihokan nga anhi ipahigayon sa Sugbo, daghan usab ang nabalaka nga tingalig lawgawon sa mga badlongon sa katilingban ang maong kalihokan aron paghatag og buling sa Sugbo sa kalibotanong mapa.

Mao nga nalipay kaayo ko nga makakita na kitag daghang traffic police ug tourist police kay pinaagi niini, sa usa ka paagi o sa lain, mabatyagan nato nga safe kita sa usa ka lugar nga sama sa Sugbo.(Columnist Uriel Vallecera is based in Cebu province)

Muslims Flock To Islamic City Of Marawi To Avail Free US-RP Medical Mission

An American soldier during a joint RP-US medical mission in the Islamic city of Marawi on Wednesday, 28 June 2006. More than 1,500 poor Muslims flock to Marawi to avail of the free medical services, under the Project Bayanihan. (Zamboanga Journal)

MARAWI CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 28 Jun) More than 1,500 poor Muslims flocked Wednesday to the southern Islamic city of Marawi where U.S. and Philippine military doctors held a free joint medical mission.

Local dentists and dozens of volunteer health workers also helped in the medical mission, the 16th since last year conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in central Mindanao.

"We are so happy to help many poor Filipinos and we hope to do more in the future," Lt. Dave Nava, of the JSOTF-P, told the Zamboanga Journal.

He said more than 1,500 people benefited from the medical mission. "This joint undertaking is part of the Balikatan's Project Bayanihan. It is a partnership between the U.S. military, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and local government officials and nongovernmental organizations," he said.

At least 11 doctors from the provincial health office, including four from the JSOTF-P and destroyer USS Momsen, of the United States Navy, joined the medical mission held inside the Philippines' 1st Marine Brigade base.

"They are kind and they gave us medicines and told us to take care of our health. We hope they come more often and help the Muslims here," Kani Abdurahim, a 27-year old fisherman, said in a separate interview.

More than 10,000 mostly poor Filipinos have benefited in the past joint medical missions in central Mindanao, under the Project Bayanihan.

Just this month, the United States Navy hospital ship Mercy had treated more than 60,000 mostly poor Filipino patients in separate medical missions in Zamboanga City and the islands of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi, as part of the Project Bayanihan.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rubber Now Part Of DA-DAR-DENR Convergence Program

NORTH COTABATO (Carlos Bautista / 27 Jun) North Cotabato’s advocacy for a refocused agriculture with rubber at the helm took on added impetus with the inclusion of rubber in the crops to be given attention in the convergence program implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Jesus Emmanuel Paras, DA Undersecretary, and Manuel Gerochi, DENR Undersecretary, were both convinced by North Cotabato Governor Emmanual Piñol that rubber would effectively enhance the country’s agriculture and economic development program, as well as ensure a more effective reforestation program.

Gov. Piñol gave a presentation on the positive prospects that rubber production has for Philippine agriculture, environment, and the economy as a whole during a meeting with the two undersecretaries to discuss the launching of the convergence program in Macabenban, Carmen next month.

“It is now time for us to decide which major crops we want to focus on, and I agree that rubber should be one of them,” Usec. Gerochi said.

“In areas where they can be grown, we should plant rubber intercropped with jetropa,” he added.

Usec. Paras for his part said that the 10 pilot areas proposed by Gov. Piñol for rubber production outside Mindanao could be adopted by the program.

These include the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Ilocos Sur, Nueva Viscaya, Camarines Sur, Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Antique.

“We have already conducted technical studies on the possibility of planting rubber in these areas,” Gov. Piñol said.

“In fact, we have already established rubber nurseries in Palawan and Negros Occidental in cooperation with local governments in both provinces,” he added.

Gov. Piñol was also able to get the support of DA, DAR, DENR and the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) in funding 45-day national training program for rubber involving agriculture personnel of the 10 pilot provinces and DA regional coordinators at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

The agencies will contribute P800,000.00 each to bankroll the training program which will start on July 1, 2006.

Basilan Traders Complain Of Poor Power Supply, Bad Publicity

BASILAN ISLAND (Lowell Vallecer / 27 Jun) SME and industry leaders in Basilan got their chance to speak with Undersecretary Carissa Cruz-Evangelista, of the Department of Trade and Industry - Regional Operations Group on pressing issues and concerns they said were affecting business on the island province, south of Mindanao.

In the Philippines, an SME is defined as any business activity or enterprise engaged in industry, agriculture, or services whether single proprietorship, cooperative, partnership, or corporation.

Evangelista was in Lamitan as guest speakers in the 5th ARMM Business Conference which ended Tuesday. She requested for an audience with SME and other industry leaders on Basilan to know their sentiments on issues affecting their business.

Among the concerns raised by the groups were the frequent blackouts and power fluctuation most on the island, and the negative image Basilan is often associated with -- the Abu Sayyaf.

Andy Anoos, a local trader and former councilor of Lamitan town, said the erratic power supply is affecting the business on the island. He said many processing plants were operating well below the optimal level and that public and private offices were also largely affected by the poor electric supply from an offshore power barge.

"The long term solution if Basilan is to realize its full economic potential is to connect the island to the Mindanao power grid via a submarine power cable. Basilan right now gets its electricity from a power barge," Anoos said.

Evangelista said she would bring the matter to the attention of the national government.

Jann Jakilan, of the Autonomous Basilan Chamber (ABICCI), and Datu Haron Bandila, of the ARMM Business Council Foundation, also raised the issue of bad media publicity about the island and both expressed concern of the lingering image of the province as a haven for terrorists, despite its current peaceful situation.

"This bad image of Basilan is one of the primary reasons why many businessmen shy away from investing here," Jakilan said.

Many traders also complained of high shipping and freight rates for products, such as rubber and copra, from Basilan to Zamboanga City. Dick Brown, a councilor in Isabela City, said the high rates of shipping and freight charges have affected many traders and urged the DTI and other agencies to look into the matter.

U.S. Library of Congress Supports American Historical Collection in Manila

Lee McClenny, (fourth from left), U.S. Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs, hands over a microfiche card. From left: Doyle Stout, Chair, AAP American Historical Collection (AAP-AHC) Committee; Nora Conti, Acting Director, U.S. Embassy’s Thomas Jefferson Information Center; Robert Lane, AAP-AHC Committee; U.S. Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs Lee McClenny; Glendon Rowell, President, AAP; Leslie Ann Murray, AAP-AHC Committee; Reynaldo de Jesus, AAP-AHC Committee; and Waldette Cueto, Librarian-in-Charge, American Historical Library, Ateneo de Manila University.

On behalf of the U.S. Library of Congress, the U.S. Embassy recently gave a complete microfiche set of the collected works of the American Historical Collection (AHC), which is located at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University.
With this donation, future AHC patrons will be able to search and use its contents via microfiche and CD-ROM rather than by using the original documents, which will make conservation and preservation of the collection’s valuable contents much easier.
The AHC, which has been described as “unique and priceless” by Library of Congress experts, was created in the aftermath of World War II through the efforts of then-U.S. Ambassador Myron Cowen. He called upon private citizens to donate their books, maps, photographs and movies about the American colonial and commonwealth period to a single collection that could be accessed by all.
The 206-volume collection is owned, in trust, by the American Association of the Philippines (AAP) and is managed on a day-to-day basis by the staff of Ateneo de Manila, who make its contents available to students, researchers and members of the general public.

Motorcycle Gunmen Kill Civilian In Jolo Island

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 27 Jun) Motorcycle gunmen attacked and killed a 28-year old Muslim man in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, where security forces are fighting members of the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya, a regional military spokesman said.

Air Force Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia said at least 6 gunmen in three motorcycles were involved in the attack that killed Fauzi Araji in downtown Jolo at the weekend. "The victim was shot with .45-caliber pistol and did not reach the hospital alive. Authorities are investigating this matter," he told the Zamboanga Journal.

Little was known about the man or why he was killed, but the spate of attacks on civilians on the island the past months have been largely blamed to the break down of peace and order and the proliferation of illegal weapons in the hands of the private armies of politicians, rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants.

The absence of governance, corruption and habitual travel of local town officials to Manila or abroad have add up to the worsening situation in the dangerous island of Jolo, about 950 km from Manila, where troops are battling the Abu Sayyaf and renegade members of the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front.

Kidnappings-for-ransom, largely blamed by authorities to the Abu Sayyaf, and clan war are also rampant in Jolo.

Muslim Election Officer Kidnapped In Restive Mindanao

MARAWI CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 27 Jun) Unidentified gunmen snatched a Muslim election officer while on his way to pray at a mosque in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte province in the restive island of Mindanao in southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said Disalungan Pulala, 56, was seized before sunrise by 5 gunmen in the village of Mahayahay on Monday. Pulala was dragged into a waiting van with markings "Fox Boy" on its side, but the vehicle had no licensed plates, said Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the military's Southern Command.

"We still don't know the motive of the abduction, but the victim is an officer of the Commission on Election in Lanao de Sur province," Pabilonia said, adding, security forces were dispatched to track down the hostage.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said rebel forces were also working closely with the military authorities through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down and recover Pulala and Kurt Degracia, an 11-year old boy also kidnapped last week in Parang town in Maguindanao province.

Gunmen kidnapped Degracia Friday inside the Landasan Central Pilot Elementary School in front of his horrified teacher and classmates. His family owns a chain of hardware stores, authorities said.

"We are coordinating and working closely with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to track down the kidnappers and the two hostages," Eid Kabalu, the group's spokesman, told the Zamboanga Journal.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the latest abduction, but previous kidnappings in the two provinces were politically motivated.

Last month, gunmen seized Pala-o Diamla, a court sheriff in Marawi City in Lanao de Sur province on orders from a politician who lost in the May 2004 elections.

Diamla was returning home May 30 when kidnapped by a band of armed men. He was freed a week later after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, backed by government soldiers, threatened to assault the kidnappers' hideout in the province.

The military said a defeated town vice mayoralty candidate, who has a pending electoral protest, allegedly masterminded the kidnapping to force the court to rule on his favor. Even judges in the provinces who were hearing election protests were also under threat.

The MILF, the country's largest Muslim separatist rebel group, forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the MILF is actively operating.

MILF forces also rescued in May a nine-year old girl, Donna May Ramos, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the southern Philippine island ofBasilan. Rebel forces, led by Bonie Salie, captured two men holding Ramos and rescued the girl May 13 in the hinterland village of Limbo Upas in Tipo-Tipo town.

The fate of the two men Jaid Awalal and Jaljani Isnilon was unknown, but the rebels handed the girl, daughter of Councilor Donnel Ramos who was kidnapped May 10 while playing with a friend in Lamitan town.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cebu Pacific Now Flies To Historic Laoag In Ilocos Norte

Cebu Pacific, the country's low cost carrier, recently inaugurated its thrice weekly flight to historic Laoag in Ilocos Norte province in northern Philippines. Travellers from Zamboanga and other parts of Mindanao can now fly to Laoag via Manila on Cebu Pacific for that long thought of vacation which includes the nearby Heritage City of Vigan.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., 2nd from left, welcomes the Cebu Pacific inaugural flight and receives the Cebu Pacific A319 Die-Cast Plane from Candice Iyog, center, CEB’s director for marketing, in ceremonies at the Laoag International Airport. Also shown are Mayor Michael V. Fariñas, left, with CEB director of sales and passenger service Edwin Bautista and Charlie Palpalatoc, right.

Natural Resources Top ARMM Business Confab In Basilan

BASILAN ISLAND (Darwin Wee / 26 Jun) Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Monday began to discuss the region's most important industries -- rubber, seaweeds and aquamarine products, and poultry and agro-marine -- in an effort to further improve its quality and production.

Speaking before hundreds of delegates to the two-day ARMM 5th Business Congress in Lamitan town, Muslimin Jann Jakilan, the region's Labor and Employment chief, said three national experts on agribusiness have been invited to give the businessmen and investors an overview and the benefits of the identified priorities industries in ARMM.
He said Dr Eugenio A. Alcala, executive director of Philippine Rubber Board, Inc., will give an insight on how to invest in rubber planting with regards to the region's favorable soil and agro-climatic condition.

For seaweeds, Atty. Malcolm J. Sarmiento, Jr., director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, will also discussed how to intensify seaweed production to meet the increasing demand both in local and foreign markets.

Vicente Lao, chairman of the Maharlika Agro-Marine Venture Corp., on the other hand is expected to tackle the region's potential to be the country's Halal poultry production center, which will be incorporated into the crafting of the ARMM's Halal Development Framework at the end of the congress Tuesday.
Ishak Mastura, ARMM's Trade Secretary, express optimism that rubber, seaweeds, and Halal poultry production will lift the region's current economic status. "From being the poorest region in the country and a known site of decades-old Moro rebellion, ARMM is gradually transforming into an investment destination. And we would like to focus our directions in seaweeds, rubber, and the Halal poultry production," he told reporters.

He said the ARMM is currently the country's top producer of carrageenan. "We supply 70% of the country's total seaweeds production. A total of 332,881 metric tons of dried seaweeds of the euchema specie alone were produced in the year 2000 for domestic consumption and export to countries like the United States, Japan, and Europe, generating a significant share of the country's export earnings," he said.

Carrageenan is any of a group of closely related colloids derived from Irish moss and several other red algae, widely used as a thickening, stabilizing, emulsifying, or suspending agent in industrial, pharmaceutical, and food products.
Data from the ARMM also showed that the region has recorded a total fish production of 408,086 metric tons last year. Fish production comes from three sources: commercial fishing, municipal fishing, and aqua-culture.
At present, the Muslim region has 89 municipal sea and fishing ports and strategically located all over Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, which comprise the ARMM.

Mastura noted that the ARMM is hosting one of the biggest ports in the country –- the International Port of Polloc -- which serves as a facilitator of commerce and trade into the region and its neighboring areas.
"In the BIMP-EAGA trade framework, the Polloc port has been identified as one of the country's important hub enters for the movement of goods and people within the growth polygon," he said.
ARMM has a total land of 1.4 million hectares or 4.5% of the Philippines total land area, teeming with vast reserves that offer excellent opportunities for resource-based processing industries. Of this total land area, about 70% are classified as prime agricultural land or about 803 thousand 763 hectares; 22% as forest lands or about 320,832 has., and about 102,248 hectares; 5% are classified as wetland, built-up area and other land uses 3%.
Mastura said investments in ARMM for the first quarter of this year grew by 10 percent, with P146 million compared to last year's first quarter earning of only P131.4 million. "This only shows that the region is now starting to pick up in terms of investors," he said

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera


SAGOPON ug ipatuman ni Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena ang calibrated preemptive response (CPR) dinhi sa dakbayan sa Sugbo. Kini ang nahunahunaan sa mayor aron pakigbatokan ang nagkagrabe na gyod nga suliran sa mikatap nga cybersex diha sa mga internet cafe.

Apan ang sentro sa kampanya karon ni Mayor Osmena mao ang pag-ban sa mga menor-de-edad nga makasulod sa mga internet cafe aron makalikay sila salaw-ay nga buhat.

Aron gayod maseguro nga mokooperar ang mga tag-iya ug tagdumala sa mga internet cafe, i-revoke sa mayorang mga businesspermit ug pasirad-an ang internet cafe nga magpasulod og menor-de-edad.

Dili ko mosupak niining maong lakang kon ipatuman man gayod kini kon ang tumong mao ang paglikay sa kabataan gikan sa makadaot nga impluwensiya diha sa internet.

Pero maayo tingaling tun-an unag maayo kon unsay mamahimong resulta kon ihinayon gayod ang pagsagop ug pagpatuman niini kay tingalig adunay tiil sa atong kaigsuonan nga atong matumban tungod niini.

Nakasulti kog ingon niini tungod kay segurado man gayod nga maapektohan niini ang negosyo sa mga tag-iyag internet cafe. Seguradong makunhoran ang ilang kita tungod kay daghan ra ba kaayo ang mga bata nga suki na sa mga internet cafe.

Ang labing maayo tingaling buhaton mao ang pagsusi sa mga internet cafe kon wala ba silay private rooms. Dili na tingali kinahanglang did-an pa ang mga menor-de-edad pagsulod og internet cafe kon maseguro lang nga walay private rooms ang internet cafe nga ilang masudlan.

Kuwang kog pagtuo nga madasig lang gihapon ang mga menor-de-edad sa pag-perform og cybersex kon anha sa daghang mga kustomer sa internet tungod kay makauuwaw man gayod kiining maong buhat.


Nagpagawas og kapin sa P2 million nga gahin ang lokal nga kagamhanan sa Cebu City alang sa computerization sa blotter system sa Cebu City Police Office (CCPO). Gitinguhang mapatuman na kining computerization system sapolice blotter sa CCPO sa dili pa ang ASEAN Summit nga ipahigayon sa umaabot nga Disyembre.

Si Konsehal Jun Pe sa dakbayan sa Sugbo maoy nakahunahuna sa computerization blotter system sa tuyo nga mahimong masepektibo ang kapolisan sailang trabaho.

Nindot baya kining maong laraw. Pero wala kini makapakombinser nako nga ang maong sistema makapausab sa mentalidad sa tapolan nga mga polis. Hinuon, sa usa ka paagi o sa lain, makatabang gayod kini aron mahimong epektibo sa pagpangalagad ang kapolisan.

Pero dili kita makapaabot nga makatampo kinig dako sa mas malungtaron, mas dali ug mas epektibong pangalagad gikan sa atong kapolisan. Bentaha na lang gayod hinuon kon computerized na ang blotter sa kapolisan.(Columnist Uriel Vallecera is based in Cebu province)

Troops Capture MIndanao NPA Base, Seize Explosives

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 26 Jun) Government forces occupied a huge jungle encampment of the New People's Army (NPA) in the southern Philippines after fierce fighting that left one soldier dead and at least a dozen soldiers wounded and a still undetermined number of communist rebels, officials said Monday.

Officials said troops also recovered 120 sticks of dynamites and anti-government propaganda inside the camp in the mountain village of Busdi in Malaybalay City after weeklong clashes that began June 18. "Troops have occupied the enemy camp and recovered the explosives. We are clearing the area," Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, spokesperson of the Southern Command, told reporters.

He said the NPA base has 164 bunkers and used by rebels for training.

Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, described the rebel camp as heavily fortified and surrounded by dangerous terrain. He said military helicopters were used to flush out the rebels. "The enemy camp is well fortified so we have sent more soldiers, backed by aircrafts, in the area to neutralize the NPA forces," he told the Zamboanga Journal.

Fighting in the countryside have escalated after peace talks between communist rebels and the government collapsed in 2004 after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front pulled out from the negotiations because of its inclusion to the terror lists of the United States and the European Union on Manila's prodding.

Rebels demanded that President Gloria Arroyo asks the United States and the European Union to strike them off from the terror lists before they resume peace talks. Manila rejected the demand and suspended safety and immunity guarantee for rebel peace negotiators following the collapse of the talks.

President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP-NDF, and set aside one billion pesos for the military to help fight insurgency and terrorism.

25 People Killed In Clan War In Southern RP

BUKIDNON (Zamboanga Journal /26 Jun) At least 25 people were killed in a weeklong gun battle between Muslim farmers and Lumad tribesmen, triggering an exodus of civilians from a remote southern Philippine town, officials said Monday.

Officials said the fighting, which began June 20, was triggered by a long time land dispute between the two groups in the farming town of Talakag near Bukidnon province. "Military reports said 25 people had been killed in the clashes because of land dispute between Muslims and tribesmen in the town," Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the military's Southern Command, told the Zamboanga Journal.

Security forces have already arrested 2 people connected to the fighting, latest military reports said.

Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, Southern Command chief, said troops were deployed in the area to break up the fighting and arrest those involved in the clashes. "I have directed the commander in the area to stop the fighting and disarm the protagonists and arrest those responsible in these senseless killings," he said.

The military said the two groups were fighting over a vast track of land, which is also being claimed by a former government official Abdulkair Alonto.

Clan war is common in the southern Philippines and vendetta killings are rampant and fighting between protagonists sometimes lasts for years and even decades, until a pact is reached or blood money is paid by both sides.

Photo: A Fisherman Off Basilan Island

A lone fisherman speeds off Basilan island in the southern Philippines. (Zamboanga Journal)

Media Urged To Promote Agri News In RP

MAKATI CITY (Vivien Bautista / 26 Jun) North Cotabato Governor Emmanual Pinol urged print media publishers to help magnify the call for a refocused agriculture in the Philippines.

Speaking before members of the Publishers’ Association of the Philippines, Incorporated during the PAPI annual conference at the Makati Sports Club at the weekend, Pinol said "it is time that we shed off our “Bahay Kubo” mentality."

“The image of a nipa hut with a variety of plants growing around it is romantic, but it will not give Filipinos the prosperity they long for," the governor said.

Referring to Malaysia as an example, the governor said Philippine agriculture should be focused on marketable crops with global demand.

“Malaysia has only two major crops, oil palm and rubber, but it is number one in both in terms of production and technology, and has gained greatly from the strong market demand for both commodities,” he said.

“Our own experience in North Cotabato proves that a market-oriented agricultural development program is a potent tool in combating poverty in the countryside,” he added.

North Cotabato was recently included by the National Statistics Board in the list of Philippines provinces with the least poverty incidence, ranking 30th next to Pangasinan and a notch above South Cotabato.

The province was listed in 1997 as the fifth poorest in the country.

“Our focus on market-oriented agriculture has improved the economic situation of our people, and this means only one thing – that we are on the right path in our efforts to improve the lives of our people in North Cotabato,” Piñol said.

The politician has been encouraging agriculture officials led by Department of Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban to give more attention to globally in-demand commodities like coconut, oil palm and rubber. “Our friends in the media can do a lot in popularizing this advocacy and in showing Filipinos that there is hope for our beloved Philippines.”

Affordable Computer Courses Now Available at E-World Career Centre Zamboanga

What is E-World Career Centre Corp?

E-World is one of Zamboanga City’s global providers of computer education. It is an educational training institute that aims to help individuals achive their educational and career goals. We build futures and careers one success story at a time.

What are the services that E-World offers?

E-World offers a variety of short courses designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills in Information and Communication Technology.E- World courses are also intended for corporate clients who have specialized training needs. Courses can be customized and tailor-fit to the specific requirements of the company or organization.

What makes us different from other computer learning institutions?

Instructors undergo regular training in the different technologies offered by E-World.

State-of-the-Art Facilities
E-World has well equipped laboratories, classrooms and state-of-the-art facilities. Affordable I.T. Courses courses are high-end yet affordable.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

5 People Electrocuted In Zamboanga Fish Port

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 25 Jun) Five men were electrocuted and killed Sunday while working on a fishing port complex in the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga, police said.

Police said the five were working on a water treatment facility in the village of Sangali, about 45 km east of Zamboanga, when they were electrocuted.

Police gave no details of the tragedy, saying, investigators were still working on the case, but other reports said the accident was caused by a submersible water pump.

Local radio reports said one of the five men cleaning the water treatment plant was first electrocuted and his companions who rushed to help him were also electrocuted. A sixth worker survived the accident, it said.

The busy port hosts several factories manufacturing fishballs and fishing companies.

Aussie State Adviser Urges RP Media To Be Sensitive On Reporting About Muslims

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 25 Jun) An Australian state adviser on Muslim affairs has urged the Philippine media to be more sensitive in reporting about Muslims, particularly when associating the word "Islam" to"terrorism," as this may lead to another wave of conflict and discrimination against the social acceptance of Muslim minorities in the community.
"The media shape perceptions, attitudes and public opinion. They can,therefore, influence public views and policies towards Muslim," said Dr. Ameer Ali, head of the Muslim Community Reference Group in Australia, who went here recently to
speak his insights on the situation of the Muslim minorities in the world.
Speaking at a forum in the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, he said Philippine media should "behave responsibly when reporting about Muslims because too much negative portrayal of Muslims in the media will create a general climate of suspicion and increased hostility against Muslims."
Dr. Ali's call was in response to the observations of Zamboanga City's Muslim academicians in their protest regarding how the media, particularly some national newspapers, used the word Muslim or Islam as a prefix in associating with extremist, fundamentalist,secessionist, rebel, lost command, gangster, terrorist, smuggler, hold-upper, and kidnapper and other derogatory terms.
According to one Muslim professor of Western Mindanao State University, some national papers tend to neglect positive news — "as good news does not sell papers".
"They [editors and publishers] are more focused on the reports about radical Islam, and the threat it poses to Philippine appear to be much more 'newsworthy'," Prof. Ali T. Yacub said.
"We don't want the stereotypical picture of the Muslim as the radical, the fundamentalist -- or worse, the terrorist. Media should be persuaded to carry stores, too, that show Muslims as citizens or residents who are discriminated against and faced with racism," he added.
Dr. Ali, on the other hand, said that since the Philippine is a democratic country just like Australia, the government does not control the media, and even a mild regulation will "raise the specter of impinging on freedom of expression."
However, he noted the Philippine government could replicate what the Australian's government did to address the problem."
One thing the [Australian] government did both on the state and commonwealth levels was to provide free media training to Muslim community leaders.
Several such training sessions were provided to enable Muslim community leaders to confront the journalists head on.

At the same time several government ministers urged the journalists to pay heed to the potential damage they may cause to Australia's economy and image abroad by sensational reporting on Islam and Muslim," he said.
Dr. Ali explained media should be the partners in promoting peace rather than discrimination."Positive coverage in the media can lead to a more positive attitude towards a diverse and inclusive society.
And I know from experience that not all journalists always want to report the bad news. Seeing the odd glimmer of light can also be a good story," he said.
Last year, several Muslim groups here in Mindanao joined the global furor after a Danish cartoonist illustrated a drawing depicted Islam's holiest figure with a bomb in his turban.
The "obscene cartoon" eventually caused so much violence and destruction in Europe and Great Britain.

New RP-US Medical Mission To Benefit Hundreds Of Poor Muslims In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 25 Jun) Hundreds of poor Muslim villagers are expected to benefit from an upcoming joint Philippine and U.S. military medical mission in the southern Filipino city of Marawi on the main island of Mindanao, officials said Sunday.

The medical mission Wednesday under the so-called Project Bayanihan would be the 16th since last year conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in central Mindanao, said Commander Kathy Wright, a spokesperson for the Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines.

More than 10,000 mostly poor Filipinos have benefited in the past joint medical missions in central Mindanao.

"Project Bayanihan, a partnership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 1st Marine Brigade, Central Mindanao government organizations and Joint Special Operations Task Force - Philippines, will be conducting a medical civil action project at Kampo Ranao.

"The MEDCAP is part of a continuing series in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago that brings medical and dental care to the Philippine people. The MEDCAP provides the Philippine Armed Forces an opportunity to build upon a long-standing friendship and humanitarian assistance partnership with U.S forces," Wright said.

Major General Gabriel Habacon, Southern Philippines military chief, said the medical mission would benefit many poor Filipinos and that soldiers and nongovernmental organizations would conduct more humanitarian undertakings in remote areas in the region.

"We are working now to provide more humanitarian assistance, like this medical mission, to remote areas in the south so we can help more poor people and provide them the necessary medical attention," he told the Zamboanga Journal.

At least 7 Filipino doctors from the provincial health office and four other U.S. doctors from the JSOTF-P and destroyer USS Momsen, of the United States Navy, would join the medical mission, aside from 3 dentists and several nurses and numerous medical assistants, Wright said.

"Volunteer staff from the provincial health office will also be on site to provide support and assistance with registration, health screening, translation and the distribution of medication," Wright said.

She said Col. Ramiro Alivio, commander of the First Marine Brigade, has coordinated extensively with the Marawi municipality for the medical mission.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Zamboanga Journalists Condemn Abuse On Local Broadcaster

PRESS FREEDOM IN ZAMBOANGA: Top photo, Bong Simbajon, president of the Zamboanga Press Club, shows Saturday, 24 June 2006 a manifesto signed by journalists in Zamboanga City condemning the abuse by a local councilor on broadcaster Jun Feliciano, who was publicly berated and nearly assaulted by a bodyguard over a news story last week inside the City Council.(Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 24 Jun) Journalists in Zamboanga City condemned Saturday the abuse on a local broadcaster of an influential Muslim politician, who publicly berated the writer for a story he wrote for a weekly tabloid here.

Jun Feliciano, a broadcaster for the state-owned Radyo ng Bayan and who writes for the Zamboanga Star, was confronted by Councilor Abdurahman Nuno after he felt alluded by the story about an unnamed politician who was allegedly lobbying for his wife to be included in the list of the Laban ng Demokrating Pilipino party for next year's elections.

“We are not questionming the credibility of anybody involved in the incident but we strongly denounce the arrogance and unjust verbal and near physical attack on our colleague while the Council was in session,” Bong Simbajon, president of the Zamboanga Press Club, said.

Nuno's name was not even mentioned in Feliciano's story published on the Zamboanga Star. Feliciano was covering the session when he was berated by Nuno, who is also the chairman of an association of village chieftains here.

Television news footage also showed an unidentified man trying to attack Feliciano inside the session hall of the Zamboanga City Council after the journalist and Nuno had a heated argument. Nuno was seen pointing fingers at Feliciano's face and later shouted at him in front of many people, but other officials and reporters pacified them and prevented what could be a brawl.

”I was berated and reprimanded by the official, who felt alluded by the story. I respect him very much, but he should also respect my person. We are only doing our job here, there's nothing personal," Feliciano told reporters.

The Zamboanga Press Club also demanded from the City Council to investigate the incident. Feliciano has filed a complaint to the police for grave threats after he allegedly overheard the politician telling his bodyguard to attack him.

Vice Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco said she would ensure that the incident will not happen again.
"The session was briefly halted by the commotion and we don't want this incident to happen again. There will be more security men inside the session hall," she said.

Nuno apologized Thursday to the City Council for the incident, but not to Feliciano. He said he is ready to face any charges from Feliciano.

Nuno was in the news after he accompanied a failed independent mayoralty candidate Lepeng Wee for a meeting with Mayor Celso Lobregat. The meeting, Nuno said, was all about business that Wee is planning to put up in Zamboanga City.

Lobregat, the leader of the local LDP party, and Wee, a wealthy businessman, were political rivals.

Friday, June 23, 2006

ICRC Holds First Burn-Management Seminar In Southern RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 23 Jun) The first-ever burn-management seminar to be held in the southern Philippines opened Friday at the Zamboanga City Medical Centre.
The two-day training course was organized at the initiative of the International Committe of the Red Cross to enhance the medical response to indiscriminate acts of violence causing severe burns and to improve coordination between health professionals, said ICRC doctor Jean-Pierre Revel in his opening remarks.
The idea of holding the seminar was conceived following recent bombing incidents involving improvised explosive devices on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao and Jolo island in the Sulu archipelago.
Several people were killed in the blasts and others suffered burns covering between 40 and 60 per cent of their bodies, a percentage that not long ago would also have resulted in certain death.
Only today a bomb blast killed at least five civilians and injured others in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao province, also in Mindanao.
"Our ability to save lives depends on the availability of emergency air transport, quick care in the first few days and good coordination with the Mindanao Burn Center in Davao City," said Dr Revel.
The center, which has taken a special interest in this seminar, is now the only referral burn unit for the 18 million people living on the island. The seminar will deal with specific aspects of clinical care and public health and review the procedures for responding to mass casualties involving large numbers of burn victims.
Twenty-eight doctors, nurses, other specialists and public-health professionals attached to six different civilian and military medical facilities and Red Cross chapters in Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu are attending.
"We need to improve the manner in which we respond to burns in the first 48 hours," said Dr Michelle Marie Aportadera, of the Mindanao Burn Center. "Everything done in those first two days will strongly impact the patients' overall chances of survival. We are grateful for this initiative because we want to harmonize the work of front-line doctors. Only in this way can we hope to improve the care we give to burn victims."
Since it set up its delegation in the Philippines in 1982, the ICRC has been working to protect and assist those affected by armed conflicts, internal disturbances and other situations of internal violence.
To this end, it cooperates extensively with the relevant authorities and government departments, with other humanitarian organizations and with the Philippine National Red Cross and its network of chapters throughout the country.
Local officials praised the ICRC and have pledged to support its programs in Zamboanga City.