Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mindanao Business Leaders Sell Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Ulysses Israel / 31 Aug) Zamboanga City takes center stage Thursday as it hosts the 15th Mindanao Business Conference wherein Mindanao’s economic and business leaders will sell Zamboanga Peninsula and the island of Mindanao as the next investment destination for foreign investors looking for expansion in the Southeast Asian Region.

“We would like to strategically position Zamboanga and Mindanao in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines –East Asia Growth Area) region and we would like to project a positive image to the world,” Romeo J. Serra, 15th MinBizCon conference chairman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

“There’s a lot of going in Mindanao, especially in Zamboanga,” he said, as he pointed out that though the region may be suffering from “a negative image”, now is the time to come and see for them selves what the region has to offer.

The three-day 15th MinBizCon celebrates the theme:” Mindanao: The Best of the Philippines”.

Aside from featuring the product winners that Mindanao has to offer, the conference will put forward a more dynamic interaction of key players from both public and private sector on key priorities for Mindanao such as greater awareness for a federal system of government, revitalization of the minerals industry and strengthening the small and medium enterprises.

Expected to attend are business leaders and economic managers from the country as well as foreign investors from Japan, Canada, China, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Italy, and countries of the ASEAN region.

According to Serra, who is also the chairman of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) and the vice-president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for Mindanao, the island can boast of tourism destinations that have never been tapped but are comparable to world-class tourist spots like Boracay.

The business sector, he said, is confident that Zamboanga region will get the attention it deserves being strategically located in the BIMP-EAGA region and rich in mineral resources.

“If you look at the map, you can see that Zamboanga City is strategically located in the BIMP-EAGA region, and the location itself will lure the investors. Add to that is its being a resource rich region,” he said.

He said the MBC is advocating for the revitalization of the minerals industry considered as the “hope of the Philippine economy”.

“We have touched only the surface” as far as exploitation of the vast mineral resources in Mindanao is concerned, he said.

He said Mindanao is host to about 60 percent of the country’s total mineral deposits. Zamboanga Peninsula is currently hosting one of the largest mining operations in the country.

The Canadian-mining firm TVI Resource and Development is currently operating mining gold and silver in Canatuan Mountain in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte. The Canadian firm has been operating since 1997.

He said mining is one of the concerns that will dominate discussions during the business summit.

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Henrie Sutherland will be one of the key speakers in the opening ceremony to be held today in the afternoon.

There are at least three mining-related topics that are scheduled for discussion, namely: Mining Prospects in Mindanao: Where and What by Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. Undersecretary of the Department of Science and Technology; Mineral Development and the Mindanao Economy by Paul G. Domiguez, president of Sagitarius Mines; and Sustainable and Responsible Mining in Mindanao by Florencio Kennedy Coronel, director of Social Commitment of TVI Pacific, Inc.
Another major industry that will be given priority during the business conference, Serra said, is the seaweeds industry.

The Mindanao Business Council has partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, he said, to rehabilitate and strengthen the seaweeds industry in Zamboanga Peninsula.

He said the IFC has put up an office in Davao City to closely work with the stakeholders of the seaweeds industry in Mindanao, including the island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Sulu where seaweed farming has recently been flourishing.

He revealed that IFC has hired a seaweed expert to become the consultant for the project. He said Mindanao supplies 80 percent of the country’s total raw materials of seaweeds and also supplies 60 percent of the world’s total production.

The primary objective of the project, he said, is the ultimate development of the seaweed industry and the setting up of seaweed processing plant in Zamboanga City.

This backward and forward integration of the seaweeds business operations will have to take into account the role of the seaweed farmers who are presently being placed at a disadvantage position.

The concerns of the seaweeds industry will also be one of the major focuses of discussion during the plenary dialogue in the MinBizCon, he said.

Photo: Suspected Bombers Held In Maguindanao

Three suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation arrested for allegedly transporting improvised explosive devices in Maguindanao province are facing criminal charges. Police Supt. Roberto Torres Badian, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, identified the trio as Wahab “Mike” Sandigan, 34, alias Wahab Ramalan, left; Radzak Macarimbang, 46, center, and Sammy Gapong, 26. (Mark Navales)

15th Mindanao Business Conference Opens In Zamboanga City

Donald Dee, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, right, and Celso Lobregat, mayor of Zamboanga City, try out scooters at the booth of the Malaysian motorcycle manufacturing firm, Demak Motor, during the opening Thursday 31 Aug 2006 of the 15th Mindanao Business Conference in Zamboanga City. (Darwin Wee)
Monsignor Chris dela Cruz, influential Catholic priest in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner video)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 31 Aug) Asian trade representatives and Filipino businessmen flocked Thursday to Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines for the 15th Mindanao Business Conference.

The 3-day international conference is expected to generate millions of revenues from its trade exhibits, where dozens of stalls and booths were on display at the convention center of the Garden Orchid Hotel.

"This will promote our products and help put back Zamboanga again in its old glory; a trading hub and tourist destination in this part of the Philippines," Ismael Ajijul, a Muslim trader, who sells hand-woven Yakan cloth, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Mayor Celso Lobregat, of Zamboanga City , boasted of high economic growth the past years, citing government reports, but statistics were not readily made available. He also said the improved peace and order situation here continue to attract investors.

"We have a lot of investments here. Zamboanga has a very sound economy and there are many new establishments. The peace and order is very good and we are happy about these all," he said.

The influential Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Mohammad Pulalun, is also expected to attend the conference to welcome the delegates and promote the Sulu Archipelago, which comprises of Basilan, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi islands as a trading exchange and investment destinations.

"We have a lot to offer. The archipelago is rich in natural resources, like minerals and oil deposits. Tawi-Tawi is a beautiful tourist destination and the whole of the Sulu Archipelago is one place to invest, such as in palm plantation, oil exploration and many more."

"Basilan and Jolo are great places and rich in timber and coconuts and coffee and marine resources; and our culture and heritage are similarly wealthy. We welcome you in our exotic land, " Pulalun said in an interview.

Teresita Sebastian, convention director, said businessmen from Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei arrived in Zamboanga to participate in the international conference.

"Diplomatic officials from the embassies of United States, Canada , Italy, Australia and some other countries are also slated to attend the convention," she said.

She said among the dignitaries that are expected to arrive here are Peter Henrie Sutherland, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines; Jon Linborg, of the United States Agency for International Development.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also invited to grace the closing ceremony on Saturday, Sebastian said.

Donald Dee, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was also in Zamboanga City yesterday and inspected different trade exhibits, including the booth of a Malaysian motorcycle manufacturing firm, Demak Motor, which has an assembly factory here.

"We expect more than 1,000 businessmen from around Asia and others involved in economic activities and studies in this 3-day conference," she said.

The BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia , Malaysia and the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area) Business Council also joined the conference.

Sebastian said the participants will discuss major issues and concerns affecting key Mindanao investments to facilitate and hasten trade within the region, and the BIMP-EAGA with other trading partners.

US Troops Get Warm Welcome In Jolo

Muslims in Jolo island during a joint RP-US military humanitarian mission Wednesday 30 Aug 2006. (Mindanao Examiner)

Lt. Col. Jim McAllister. (Mindanao Examiner video)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 30 Aug) Hundreds of Muslim villagers, many children and women, greeted US and RP soldiers Wednesday as they distribute humanitarian aid in least two towns in Jolo island torn by fighting between security and Abu Sayyaf forces.

The crowd cheered as the soldiers drove in a convoy of trucks, armored and jeeps to Indanan town, scene of fierce battle since last month. “They are here, they are here, the Americans are here, yeah, welcome Joe,” a teenager shouted, as he flashed a victory sign while the convoy passed.

US troops in full battle gear were untiringly waiving and smiling to the huge crowd as if they had come back from war. “Wow, this is great. The people are friendly and warm. We love them,” one US soldier, said.

Timhar Aluk, a farmer, said he brought along his 7 children and two wives, just to see the American soldiers in person.

American and Filipino soldiers were in Indanan town and they distributed school bags and other supplies to children and women. Senior military and government officials also held a ground breaking ceremony signaling the start of P52-million development projects on the island.

“We heard a lot of good things about the white men. They give medicines and build school and renovate mosques in our land, they say; and they are also active in humanitarian works. We hope they would stay here much longer because we need them to help us and fight the bad people up there in the mountains, the Abu (Sayyaf),” he said.

Soldiers distributing school supplies were overwhelmed by cheering children. Some soldiers even told fairytale stories to the young and the old alike. “We are here to help the people,” said Lt. Col. Mike Halbig, of the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTFP).

Before coming to Indanan, the soldiers, accompanied by the governor of the island Benjamin Loong, inaugurated the area coordination center in Panamao town. A US helicopter also unloaded fresh humanitarian supplies, including sewing machines donated by the Yokohama International Baptist Church in Japan.

“Now that the AFP has assured the security in western Sulu, we can commence these critically needed quality of life improvements for the people of Sulu,” said Col. James Linder, commander of JSOTFP.

In March, a suspected Jemaah Islamiya bomb exploded inside a three-storey Jolo cooperative marketplace, killing five people and wounding 22 others. The US military is now helping in the renovation of the building, Linder said.

“Thousands of citizens will benefit from new roadways, wells, schools and medical center improvements, and the renovation of the Jolo cooperative marketplace,” he said.

Two more area coordination centers will also start construction in the town of Indanan. The centers, funded by the US Pacific Command, offer the community a place for livelihood training, community gatherings and communication hubs.

“It is an exciting time in Sulu. The deserving people of Sulu have chosen peace and prosperity for their future and a better life for themselves and their children. The people see how prosperity can thrive in an environment when it is safe from threat of transnational terrorists.”

“This development will bring jobs, better educational opportunities and better medical care for these communities, something the Abu Sayyaf group and the JI cannot offer,” Linder said.

Lt. Col. Jim McAllister said more projects are underway to help bring back peace on the island. “The people have distanced themselves from the lawless and terrorist elements that once lived in their communities,” he said.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Photo: The Old Man Of Journalism

THE PILLAR: In Mindanao, Avelino Malagiouk Acoymo, a veteran Muslim journalist known widely as “Bapa Vel,” is the chief editor of the newspaper Kota Wato Express in Cotabato City. Bapa Vel started his career in 1967 as radio broadcaster and then worked also in television news and eventually ended as one of the most respected writer in the southern region. Bapa Vel still uses the old reliable typewriter. And in Manila, another senior journalist popularly known as Manong, below, still covers the defense beat in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo. (Mark Navales)

We Are Now Accepting Ads

New website under construction!
The Mindanao Examiner Is Now Accepting Ads

Place your own logo, web sites and links, products and sevices and even advertising video clips online!

The Mindanao Examiner is now accepting advertisements for as low as USD 100 (Php 5,000) a month.
Contact us now for more details

Troops Clash With NPA In Zamboanga

KABASALAN, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Aug) Troops clashed with communist insurgents and killed a still undetermined number of gunmen in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The clash occurred in the village of Napo in the coastal town of Aurora in Zamboanga del Sur province and spread near Durano village in Kapatagan, a town west of Lanao del Norte province on Monday, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, a military spokesman, said.

"Undetermined number of insurgents is believed killed and soldiers recovered a .30-caliber machine gun and four M16 automatic rifles and one M203 grenade launcher," Bacarro said, adding, there were no military casualties.

Maj. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional military commander, on Monday ordered soldiers to intensify their hunt against the New People's Army, blamed for the string of attacks and raids on army posts in the restive region.

Last week, insurgents raided an army detachment in the village of Banlag in Valencia City near Bukidnon province, killed a soldier and seized 30 assorted weapons.

The New People's Army is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The New People's Army boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.

Another NPA faction also raided last week a small village called Buayan in Kabasalan town east of Zamboanga City and took 14 people hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed.

Town officials said the insurgents took food from the locals and ransacked a house before escaping to the hills.

The province is a known lair of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States and the European Union tagged the CPP and the NPA and their political arm the National Democratic Front as foreign terrorist organizations on the Filipino government’s prodding.

Since then, sporadic clashes escalated in the countryside and the rebels said they would only return to the peace talks if the US and European Union removed them from the terror lists. President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA and even set aside one billion pesos for the military and police to help fight insurgency.

Military Tightens Security Grip In Mindanao

Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Edgardo M. Gurrea, left, new chairman of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, shakes hands Von Al Haq, chairman of the MILF-man of MILF-CCCH, as Malaysian Maj. Gen. Dato’ Soheimi Pahlawan bin Abbas, head of the International Monitoring Team, looks on during a recent meeting in Cotabato City. Troops and MILF forces clash Monday in Midsayap town in North Cotabato, leaving one rebel dead, security officials say. (Mark Navales)

MAGUINDANAO (Juan Magtanggol / 29 Aug) The military tightened security in the southern Philippines after a firefight erupted between soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in North Cotabato's Midsayap town, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said one rebel was killed in the fighting that broke out early Monday in the farming village of Polomugin, where MILF forces took at least 18 people hostage. The hostages were freed unharmed later in the day after peaceful negotiations by politicians.

The MILF denied rebels took hostage and said the villagers were trapped in the fighting between rebels and followers of a former guerilla leader. "There were no hostage-taking and the villagers were trapped because of the fighting between the two warring groups," Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said about three dozen rebels swooped down on the Polomugin village and strafed houses, wounding two civilians.

Kabalu said the rebels were fighting the group of former MILF commander identified only as Bab. "The fighting was triggered by old feud and had nothing to do with the military," he said.

The MILF is currently negotiating peace with Manila, but clashes between soldiers and rebels continue sporadically in some areas in the southern Philippines, with both sides accusing each other of violating a 5-year truce.

Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said the military was just protecting the villagers. "The gunmen opened fire on our soldiers who were protecting the villagers, sparking armed clashes that left one attacker dead. The moment the lives of the civilians are at stake, then we will have to take whatever actions to protect the innocent," he said in a separate interview.

The fighting broke out the same day security forces arrested three suspected MILF bombers while about to board a ferry bound for Manila at the Polloc port in Parang town in Maguindanao province. Officials said soldiers seized explosives from the three men.

Reports identified the trio as Sammy Gampong, Razak Macarimbang and Wahad Sandingan, all natives of Matanog town.

Kabalu said Gampong was an MILF member, but denied is a bomber and insisted the evidence against them were planted. "We have witnesses who will tell authorities that the suspects were unarmed. There are no explosives; authorities only planted the evidence for a still unknown reason," he said.

The MILF on Tuesday protested the arrest and demanded that authorities free the men. "We have filed a protest with the Philippine government about the arrest of the innocent men. This is a violation of the cease-fire agreement and we will bring this matter to the peace negotiators," Kabalu said.

Ando said civilian informants who had knowledge of a supposed terror plot led security forces in the operation to arrest the men. "The informants provided us intelligence and helped us arrest the three men, who were allegedly on a bombing mission in Manila," he said.

Other security sources said the trio was allegedly members of the MILF's special operations group, tagged by the military and police as behind previous bombings in the southern Philippines.

The MILF is the country's largest Muslim rebel group which is currently negotiating peace with Manila.

The ferry was bound for Manila, but is expected to stop in the ports of Zamboanga City and Iloilo to pick up cargoes and passengers.

Kabalu assured the government that the MILF is strictly observing the truce it signed in 2001.

Authorities were also investigating whether the trio had links with the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya. The Abu Sayyaf had previously bombed a 10,000 ton Super Ferry 14 off the Manila Bay while it was heading for Bacolod in the central Philippines on February 27, 2004.

More than 100 passengers from the 900 people onboard were killed when a fire spread to the decks. The Abu Sayyaf group claimed responsibility soon after the incident, but the government initially dismissed the claim as a "propaganda ploy".

In March, however, a group of Abu Sayyaf members were arrested over the incident, including one man who allegedly confessed to planting the bomb.

The latest arrest coincided with earlier warnings of bombings during the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 in the United States. Authorities said the Abu Sayyaf would bomb civilian targets in Manila. The group has been blamed the Abu Sayyaf for some of the worst terror attacks in the country.

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera In Cebu


SA akong pagsulat niining maong column, gikataho nga may dugang 50 ka mga sakop sa Regional Mobile Group (RMG) nga ipuno sa Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) aron ibutang sa mga police stations diin mahisakop ang mga tourist destinations sa dakbayan sa Sugbo.

Matod pa nga ang maong mga RMG naggikan sa Sibonga ug iapod-apod sila sa mga police stations sa dakbayan sa Sugbo ilabi na sa Waterfront police station nga maoy nagbantay sa Basilica del Sto. Nino, Plaza Independencia, Malacanang Sa Sugbo, Fort San Pedro, Colon, Magellan's Cross ug daghan pang uban.

Maayo kining maong lakang tungod kay maghatag kini og seguridad sa mga turista nga mobisita sa dakbayan sa Sugbo. Karong panahona nga ang Sugbo gikataho nga usa sa gitarget nga hasion sa mga terorista, angay gayod nga maneguro kita nga luwas ang mga turista nga mobisita sa Sugbo aron dili sila motagam sa pagduaw sa atong lugar.

Kon tukion gani pag-ayo, kining 50 ka RMG dili pa gayod igo nga gidaghanon. Pero maayo na lang kini kay sa dili gayod mapun-an ang gidaghanon sa mga tinugyanan sa balaod nga makabantay sa seguridad sa katawhan, dili lang sa mga turista kondili sa mga Sugboanon mismo. Niini, magpasalamat kita.


Diha sa Pier 3, naay daghang taxi driver nga mosugat sa mga pasahero sa barko nga mapahimuslanon kaayo sa higayon. Ilabi na gayod kon ang maong pasahero daghan og bagahe, dako ang ilang pangayoon nga bayad bugti sa ilang paghatod niini.

Dili pa lang dugay nakasaksi kog panghitabo nga ingon niini. May usa ka babaye nga pasahero sa barko gikan sa Tubigon nga nagdala og duha ka dagkong bag. Anha ra siya magpahatod sa unahan og diyotay sa Metropolitan Cathedral pero gipangayoan siya sa taxi driver og P150.00.

Nangutana ang babaye kon nganong dili man nila gamiton ang ilang metrohan sa taxi. Nangatarongan ang baga og nawong nga driver nga mahal na ang gasolina. Walay molalis niana. Pero dili kana balidong katarongan aron dili nato sundon ang lagda ug sumbanan sa pagpamasahero.

Kana kay may metrohan ang taxi, angay lang kanang gamiton aron patas ang tanan. Hunahunaa lang ang gilay-on sa Pier 3 paingon sa Metropolitan Cathedral. Duol ra kaayo kana pero P150.00 ang gipangayo sa taxi driver. Maayo gani kay wala gyod magpatonto ang babaye.

Kinsa man ang makapitol niining maong matang sa mga taxi driver. Dili maayong pasagdan lang nga magpadayon ang ilang tinonto tungod kay dili kini makiangayon ngadto sa mga pasahero. Maayong pasabton ang mga driver nga dili nila monopoliya ang pagmahal sa presyo sa mga palaliton.

Monday, August 28, 2006

GMA Visits Cagayan De Oro City In Mindanao

President Gloria Arroyo hands over 11 patrol car keys to Chief Superintendent Florante Baguio, regional police chief, during a ceremony Monday 28 Aug 2006 in Cagayan de Oro City. Below, the President, assisted by Rep. Constantino Jaraula, gives a P5-million check to Estralla Abid Babao, the regional education chief, for scholarship of poor students. (Dante Sudaria)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 28 Aug) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Cagayan de Oro City on Monday and inaugurated the P125-million SM City shopping complex.

Arroyo also led local government officials in the ceremonial hand-over of 11 patrol cars to the regional police. Her visit coincided with the city’s celebration of the local saint.

“The President's visit, which coincided with our fiesta, was a great boost to the city government's drive to showcase Cagayan de Oro as a beautiful and peaceful place to live and invest to the global community,” Vicente Emano, the mayor of Cagayan de Oro, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Arroyo, he said, also witnessed the Lambagohan Festival fluvial parade at the Cagayan de Oro River aboard the River Cruise Restaurant.

"It is a great pride and honor for the Cagayanons to have no less than the President of the country as our guest during the city fiesta celebration," Emano said.

The president assisted by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula, also handed over P5-million to the Department of Education in Northern Mindanao for scholarship of poor school children.

The Asia Foundation Donates Books To 500 Zamboanga, Basilan Schools

Efren Balajadia, director of the Books For Asia, of The Asia Foundation gets books, as Dr Steven Rood, Asia Foundation representative (2nd from left) looks on during the hand-over of some 17,700 books Monday 28 Aug 2006 to more than 500 government schools in Zamboanga City and Basilan island in the restive southern Philippine region. The California-based Asia Foundation has distributed more than 74,000 books in Mindanao since last year. (Darwin Wee)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 28 Aug) The California-based The Asia Foundation on Monday donated close to 18,000 books to more than 500 government schools in Zamboanga City and Basilan island in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said more shipment of books, donated by different publishers from the United States, are on its way to the southern Philippines that would benefit tens of thousands of Filipino students.

"We have no other wish but to help the Filipino children and students to learn more and with these books donated by The Asia Foundation, we hope to spread education in every islands and provinces in the Philippines," Efren Balajadia, director of the Books for Asia, of The Asia Foundation. told the Mindanao Examiner.

Balajadia said some 74,000 books have been distributed to different schools in Mindanao alone since last year. "The Asia Foundation has been actively helping the Filipinos through education and literacy campaigns.

Since 1954, The Asia Foundation distributed more than 14 million books in the Philippines," he said.

Aside from the schools, the Asia Foundation also partnered with the online newspaper the Mindanao Examiner ( to help poor and street children in Zamboanga City and other areas in Mindanao.

"We have read your article entitled “No Feast For The Lumbangan Children”. As response to your request, we would like to help by way of donating books to the children of Lumbangan (in Zamboanga City) through your organization."

"Your concern to improve the literacy of your community children is greatly appreciated. We want to include your organization as part of the beneficiaries of this books donation," said Reynald Ocampo, assistant program officer for the Books for Asia.

The Asia Foundation included the Lumbangan Elementary School as one of its benefiaciaries and pledged to send more books to the Mindanao Examiner next month for distribution to day-care centers in Zamboanga City.

"We have allocated a box of new books for the Lumbangan Elementary School. We will allocate new books in our next shipment to your constituents with Mindanao Examiner as our media-based partner. We are waiting for a new shipment sometime in September," Ocampo said.

The Mindanao Examiner, maintained by journalists, is actively involved in helping the poor and street children in Zamboanga and other areas in Mindanao.

In the Philippines alone, Books for Asia Program has distributed over 14 million books and journals to public and private institutions as part of international understanding, national development, and English language literacy.

Donations of books for this program are largely made possible through the tax deductible contributions of American publishers, libraries, bookstores and individuals, Ocampo said.

The Asia Foundation’s current programs in the Philippines promote better governance to support economic growth, strengthen rule of law, and foster peace and development in Mindanao, he said. "Building on years of support, the Foundation is helping government, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to strengthen democratic institutions and create sustainable economic growth," he said.

Dr Steven Rood, representative of The Asia Foundation, said more books will be distributed in poor areas in Mindanao, particularly the Muslim autonomous region.

"We will help the children and we will provide books for them," he said. "We are providing wide access to books for learning in a variety of communities -- rich and the poor, Christians and Muslims -- in solidarity with leaders and citizens in the struggle for development against poverty and disruption of peace and order."

The donation was part of Books for Asia's work under The Asia Foundation's Transparent Accountable Governance (TAG) project, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according Ocampo.

"The provision of books and other educational resources serve as a joint commitment in the campaign against poverty. Books are vital to learning and rehabilitation in areas critically affected by poverty, armed conflict, emergencies, disasters and poor quality of life," he said.

Aside from donating books, The Asia Foundation currently supports Mindanao-­based research institutions and non-government organizations in investigating the dynamics of clan violence.

The studies provide comprehensive conflict maps showing the scope and magnitude of clan conflicts in Mindanao.

It also highlight specific cases of conflict, exploring their root causes and conditions for escalation and recurrence, their interaction with state-related conflicts, and the potential for conflict resolution. The Asia Foundation also regularly brings together groups of experts to discuss and address issues of conflict management throughout Asia and recently hosted a workshop with experts focused specifically on conflict in Mindanao, to discuss key issues, priorities, and strategies for resolving the conflict.

"The U.S. government is very proud to support the work of dedicated organizations like The Asia Foundation and committed schools and communities across Mindanao to help improve educational opportunities for school and young scholars. Education forms the foundation for all prosperous and democratic societies," said Steven Edminster, USAID governance officer.

Southcom is Gone, WestMinCom is Here!

Major General Eugenio Cedo, commander of Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, top; and Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon, center, and Major General Gabriel Habacon, former Southern Command chief. (Darwin Wee)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 28 Aug) Two decorated army generals were named as commanders of two newly formed military commands in the southern Philippines, officials announced Monday.

Officials said Major Generals Eugenio Cedo and Rodolfo Obaniana were named to head the Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao Commands.

"With these new commands, we hope to crush terrorism and insurgency and bring back peace in our land where citizens can live free from fear from terrorists and insurgents," the Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon told the Mindanao Examiner.

Esperon on Monday formally deactivated the Southern Command more than 30 years after it was formed to fight Moro insurgency in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon relinquished his post on Monday as Cedo, former commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Zamboanga del Sur province, took over as chief of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City. Obaniana will assume his post Tuesday as commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.

Habacon retires on 28 September after serving more than a year as Southern Command chief.

Esperon said the split of the Southern Command will effectively address the insurgency and terrorism problems in the restive region. "We can now operate more effectively because of the two new military commands that will take care of terrorism in Western Mindanao and communist insurgency on the side of the region," he said.

Habacon said the split was purely tactical on the part of the military. "This is purely tactical and operational and the split of the Southern Command into two is a big boost to the government anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign in the southern Philippines," Habacon said.

Brig. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of military forces in Basilan island, is reported to be Cedo's replacement as chief of the 1st Infantry Division.

Cedo said he would meet with his commanders and plan a new strategy to defeat the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo island, where security forces are battling militants. "The Abu Sayyaf is on the run and troops are pursuing them on the island," he told reporters.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Photo: Makasag Shoot Festival In Maguindanao

A range officer times Lt. Col. Jorge B. Lomboy III, commander of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Army’s Light Armor Brigade, as he aims for a target with a .40-caliber pistol during a ceremonial shoot at the opening of the 2nd Mechanized (Makasag) Infantry Brigade Standard Division shoot festival on their 7th Anniversary celebration held recently at Kampilan firing range in Camp Siongco in Awang town in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao. (Mark Navales)

New Press Group Formed In Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Aleih Saiburavoc / 27 Aug) A small group of local journalists have organized themselves into what is tentatively called the Zamboanga Journalists Group.

The ZJG aims to fill in the need of an organization comprising mostly of full time journalists whose main source of livelihood is their profession.

It has been observed that some press organizations started with full time journalists but have ended up with non-journalists getting into the ranks and eventually taking over the organization.

The ZJG organizers also noted that some journalists association have been tainted with unsavory activities of some of their members to include pseudo ones masquerading as journalist when actually they are not practicing their profession anymore.

Elected president of the ZJR is Liza Jocson of TV-11 while Sheila E. Covarrubias of Radio ng Bayan was elected Vice President.

The other officers are Jomeleth Tabotabo of TV-11. – Secretary, Baby Macapagal Santos of DXMR –Treasurer and Andy Navarro-Auditor.

The officers will constitute themselves into a screening committee to process interested applicants who would like to affiliate or become members of the group.

The officers agreed to undertake activities to enhance their respective profession to include conducting in-service training and in house education of their respective crafts.

Photo: Drug Problems In Zamboanga City

A man sniffs chemicals Sunday 27 August 2006 to get high near a police camp in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Washington Released $85-M Grant For Restive Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 27 Aug) Washington released some $85-million (P4 billion) in grant to support a five-year program that will help improve the educational system in Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, a top US official said.

US Chargé d' affaires Paul Jones, who visited here over the weekend to inspect several Washington-funded projects, said the $85-million fund aims to improve the quality of education and enhance skills of Filipino youth in the mineral-rich, but dangerous region.

Manila is fighting communist insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao.
But Jones said educational program started this year and it will help alleviate the educational status of thousands of elementary, secondary and government teachers in Mindanao.

He said that there is a need to present a range of opportunities to help young people in Mindanao to develop skills that are needed tobecome more active participants in a productive economy."It is fair to say that with stronger educational foundation such as in English language skills, and computer literacy, we can expect to seemore prosperity, more jobs, and more opportunity for the young people throughout Mindanao," he told the Mindanao Examiner.

"Clearly our investment is in education. One of the things we do well is to help teach English and that provide opportunities for people toparticipate in industries like call centers, back office processing, and other businesses that requires English language skills. In theglobal economy if you have those skills you can easily have more opportunities, and more jobs will be created," he said.

Jones said the program will result also to increase community-based learning opportunities, expansion of teacher capabilities in the areasof Math, Science, and English, and school reform within the Mindanao region.

He said the educational program which will be in partnerships with different Mindanao-based organizations will also develop livelihood skills and increase access to quality education for the thousands of out-of-school youth in Mindanao, which have been victims of war and poverty.

"The funds will address the educational and job training needs of out-of-school youth, and enhance opportunities for employment andentrepreneurship. Education is something we believe deeply. We got a history with education here, a hundred years ago Thomasites came here to Mindanaoas well as other parts of the Philippines to introduce education to the Filipino people, and it is something we would like to continue inthe present generations," he said.

Jones said the program would benefit strife-torn and poverty-stricken areas in Mindanao."There is a great desire and enthusiasm here in Mindanao to improve education and make education modern and relevant to the world we leavein," he said.

He said about 60 percent of the bilateral program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is allocated toMindanao to initiate several programs which includes the implementation of projects related to livelihood, infrastructure, family planning and health; environmental governance and development of renewable energy, and the enhancement of local governance, especially in conflict areas.

This year alone the US government pledged a total of $70 million in grants to the Philippines, and a huge bulk allocated for the development of Mindanao, according to Jon Lindborg, USAID mission director.Over the past years, USAID assistance to the Philippines has averaged $90 million per year.

Southern Command Chief Vows Out Of Service

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon during a lunch break with soldiers in Zamboanga City Sunday 27 August 2006. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Aug) Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon is to relinquish his post today to Army Maj. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, who will take over as commander of the new Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City.

Habacon retires on 28 September after serving more than a year as Southern Command chief. The Southern Command, formed in May 1976 to address the growing Moro insurgency in Mindanao, will be divided into two.

The Armed Forces split the Southern Command into Western Mindanao Command and the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City to effectively address the insurgency and terrorism problems in the restive region.

"This is purely tactical and operational and the split of the Southern Command into two is a big boost to the government anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign in the southern Philippines," Habacon told the Mindanao Examiner on Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of military forces in Basilan island, was reported to be Cedo's replacement as chief of the Army's First Infantry Division in Zamboanga del Sur province.

Habacon on Sunday met with military officers and had lunched with soldiers at the Southern Command. "It was both happy and sad. We are happy because we are together for the last time with the general, but we are also sad because he is retiring and will leave us soon. He is a good man and like a father to all of us," said Army Pvt. Joselito Pascual.

Habacon, who turns 56 years old next month, is the last commander of the 30 year-old Southern Command, the largest military installation outside Manila. "This is the call of the times and as the saying goes, all have their end and so Southcom has to be deactivated to give way two new military bases. That is the best way to defeat terrorism and insurgency," he said.

The general was largely credited for the capture of many Abu Sayyaf militants and leaders of the New People's Army in the southern Philippines and it was during his term that the Southern Command embarked on a massive medical and humanitarian mission in partnership with the US military forces.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Documentary-MTV On Poverty In Zamboanga

(double click link or logo,if video does not play, go to bottom page of this site)

We would like to thank film director Patrick Almaden and film editor Paco Almaden (El Amor di Pilar), Ateneo de Zamboanga University and Kit Studio in Zamboanga City and Monad Studio in Manila and our partner in Los Angeles, the L.A.-Zamboanga Times of John Shinn; and the Major Chords, the group which sung Zamboanga Hermosa, for the music score that we used in our documentary. The song was written by a well-known Zamboangueño poet Vicente Orendain.

Nocot Bags 5 Golds In Isuzu Boxing Tourney

NORTH COTABATO boxing team bagged 5 gold medals in the 1st Governor’s National Amateur Boxing Circuit (GNABC) Isuzu Invitational Amateur Boxing Tournament winning the over-all team championship award.

The team was composed of Pinweight Rommel Asenjo, Flyweight William Belandres, Bantamweight Larry Villanueva, Lightweight Reynaldo Belandres and Welterweight Wilfredo Lopez. They garnered a total of 42 points to claim the tourney’s P20,000.00 top prize.

Reynaldo Belandres was too strong for his opponent, Jason Pagaran of Misamis Oriental province. Pagaran retired in Round 3 with 1 minute 15 seconds left.

Asenjo won with 15-8; Villanueva 21-18; William Belandres 19-12; while the tourney’s best boxer, Wilfredo Lopez recorded a 20-5 final score against Nonito Penida of Tulunan town, also of North Cotabato, to win the P5,000.00 cash incentive.

Meanwhile, Ruly Boholts of the Misamis Oriental team bagged the gold in the Featherweight division beating Rey Juntilla of North Cotabato with a 25-11 count.

Misamis Oriental won the 1st runner-up award and went home with P15,000.00 cash prize. Light flyweight gold medallist Johnny Cadigal of Tulunan outscored Reginald Isunga of NorthCot, 25-17 to power his team to a second runner-up finish with 15 team points. They won P10,000.00 cash prize.

Paperweight champ Conrado Tañamor of Universidad de Zamboanga in Zamboanga City outfought Romulo Ramayan of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

Tañamor’s team, gathered 8 points to claim the tournament’s 3rd runner-up award with a P5,000.00 cash prize.

Jerson Barato of North Cotabato and Rodolfo Cartin of Zamboanga won the Best Judge and Best Referee awards respectively and each went home with P3,000.

His Excellency, Jaroslav Ludva, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines, led the awarding ceremony with Governor Emmanuel Piñol and Isuzu Davao President and General Manager Milton Liu.

The 1st Governor’s National Amateur Boxing Circuit (GNABC) Isuzu Invitational Boxing Tournament is a project of the League of the Philippine Provinces’ (LPP) Guv’s for Gold” program and is part of the celebration of North Cotabato’s 92nd foundation anniversary.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Restoration of Sulu Sultanate is best solution to unrest in South RP

Map of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (AKI / 25 Aug) The restoration of the ancient Islamic Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo would be the best solution to unrest in the southern Philippines unrest, a local historian told AdnKronos International (AKI).

Professor Emmanuel Mangubat, a member of the Sulu Restoration Movement, argued that a return to monarchial and Islamic tradition is exactly what the conflict-ridden region needs
.(Read more)

U.S. To Pour More Aid In Zamboanga

Paul Jones, US Chargé d' affaires to Manila, donates Friday 25 Aug 2006 a wheel chair to an 11-year old Muslim student Gazpar Salem in Zamboanga City, where he also inspected Washington-funded health facility projects. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Aug) The US Chargé d' affaires to Manila Paul Jones on Friday inspected several Washington-funded projects in Zamboanga and vowed to pour more development and humanitarian aids in the southern port city.

Jones also visited an HIV/AIDS facility in Zamboanga funded by Washington and spoke with local health officials led by Dr Rodelyn Agbulos, who briefed the official about the local AIDS program.

"We promised to provide more assistance to help local health authorities embark on a robust HIV/AIDS education, outreach and control program," he said.

Agbulos said they have recorded at least 9 local AIDS cases since 1995 and most of the victims were Filipino workers who returned home from abroad. Some of them came back from Malaysia. Five AIDS victims had died in Zamboanga City.

"We are embarking on an aggressive program to educate our people, especially the bar workers, about the dangers pose by HIV and AIDS," he said.

Agbulos said the center has a massive HIV/AIDS counseling and testing program in Zamboanga, aside from an agressive information and education campaign about the deadly disease and how to manage it.

He said they were also promoting the use of condom and safe sex to prevent the spread of HIV and advocating HIV/AIDS policy here. Local bar girls, he said, also regularly undergo HIV examination.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, while AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

While in Zamboanga, Jones also donated a wheelchair to a Muslim grade school student Gazpar Salem and spoke with students of the Culianan Learning Center.

Jones toured the school in January, when he met Salem, a Grade 5 student, in a wheelchair that was broken and ill-fitting. He promised the boy a new wheelchair. "I would like to thank Mr. Jones for the wheelchair and now I can go to school with my new wheelchair," the 11-year old Salem, who sought Jones' help in January through the local press, the Mindanao Examiner.

Salem sought the help of then Zamboanga Journal (, now Mindanao Examiner ( in January to tell Jones that he needed a wheelchair.

The online newspaper followed Salem's request with Yolanda De Guzman, a Filipino staff working for Jones' at the US Embassy. "(I) would also like to thank the media and those who helped me," Salem told reporters at the school.

During his visit, Jones also met with local officers of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce to discuss the business climate and economic prosperity and said the US Embassy would send a delegation to the 15th Mindanao Business Conference here later this month.

He then spoke to students at the Ateneo De Zamboanga University and toured the American Studies Resource Center.

Jones later attended the culmination of teachers' training here under the Tudlo Mindanao Project conducted by the US Peace Corps and US Agency for International Development. More than 100 teachers received free training on how to teach academic subjects in English, as well as learned information and communication technology.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

MAGHUSAY TA! By Uriel Cruz Vallecera In Cebu


ANG gitukod nga Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) sa Mandaue City maoy magsilbing "magnet" ug "generator" aron labing madani ang mga investor pagtukod og dagkong mga establisamento sa palibot niini.

Gibutyag ni Konsehal Carlo Fortuna nga karon pa lang gani nga gisugdan pa sa pagtukod ang maong proyekto nagsugod na usab ang pagsaka sa presyo sa mga luna sa yuta nga kasikbit sa gitarokan sa CICC.

Midugang si Fortuna nga ang CICC dakong garbo alang sa mga molupyo sa Mandaue tungod kay nagpakita man kini nga ang dakbayan sa Mandaue dili na mapiri sa ubang mga sikat nga lugar sa kalibotan.

Husto si Fortuna. Pinaagi unya niining CICC, seguradong mosamot kapopular ang Cebu partikular na ang Mandaue City tungod kay usa man kini sa mahimong venue sa ASEAN Summit busa dili gayod malalis nga mapopular dayon kini sa tibuok kalibotan.

Pero gikabalak-an lagi kon mahuman ba ang maong proyekto nga hangtod karon sa akong pagsulat niini, mga haligi pa man ang napabarog. Ug kon atong iphon sa atong tudlo, pipila na lang ka bulan ug moabot na ang gitakda nga summit nga anhi himoon sa Cebu.
Mao nga manghianot kita nga mahuman sa pagtukod ang CICC segun sa gitakdang panahon sa pagtapos niini. Sa laing bahin, kon mopalpak ang maong proyekto, usa kini ka dakong kauwawan sa Sugbo.


Daghan kaayong kabalayan ang gibanlas sa dagkong mga balod nga milampurnas sa Dumlog ug Tangke, mga barangay nga sakop sa Talisay City. Dako kaayo ang kadaot nga namugna sa maong dagkong mga balod tungod kay kapid-an ka mga pamilya ang nawad-an sa ilang mga panimalay.

Maoy gibasol sa daghang mga molupyo sa maong dapit ang pagkatukod sa South Reclamation Project (SRP) sa Cebu City. Maoy ilang pagtuo nga tungod kay natabonan na man sa yuta ang dakong luna sa kadagatan nga maoy gilanakan sa SRP, mao kiniy hinungdan nga ang mga balod sa dagat modako ug adto na mohapak sa ilang lugar.

Apan wala hatagig bili sa PAGASA ang maong teyoriya tungod kay dili kuno kini kabasehan. Ang labing lig-ong hinungdan sa pagdagko sa mga balod nga nakadaot sa kabalayan sa Dumlog ug Tangke mao ang pagdako sa taob sa dagat ug ang kakusog sa hanging habagat.

Mao usab kini ang akong gituohan. Pero dili sab nato mabasol ang mga Talisaynon kon maoy tumbokon nilang hinungdan sa kadaot nga ilang nasinati ang katukoran sa SRP. Karon pa man god kini nahitabo sa ilang dapit. Labaw sa tanan, mas nasuheto sila sa kahimtang sa ilang lugar labaw ni bisan kinsa.

Sayyaf Man Killed, 4 Soldiers Injured In Jolo Fighting

Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon speaks to a soldier who is wounded in clashes in Jolo island. Four soldiers are wounded on Thursday 24 Aug 2006 in clashes with Abu Sayyaf on the restive southern island. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Aug) Government forces killed an Abu Sayyaf militant in fierce fighting before sunrise Thursday in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, officials said.

Officials said four soldiers were also wounded in the clashes in the mountain village of Darayan at around 4 a.m. "The fighting is raging and four soldiers are wounded in Patikul this morning," Marine Brig. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, deputy chief of the Southern Command here, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Troops were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf when it clashed with the militants, killing one of them. "One Abu Sayyaf is dead and we recovered his M16 automatic rifle," Lt. Col. Susthenes Valcorza, a spokesman for the Southern Command, said in a separate interview.

He said more Abu Sayyaf militants were believed killed in renewed clashes since Wednesday. Two soldiers were killed and 17 more wounded on Wednesday's clashes that also left two Abu Sayyaf gunmen dead.

"We have human intelligence reports saying there were many Abu Sayyaf casualties and that those who died had been buried in shallow graves in the hinterlands by their companions," he said.

Security forces were relentless in the hunt for leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and two Jemaah Islamiya bombers Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who were believed with the group of local terrorists on Jolo island.

"There is operation going on in Jolo island and troops are pursuing the terrorists. The government offensive will not stop until we destroy the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and two Jemaah Islamiya bombers," said Army Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, commander of military forces in the southern Philippines.

Habacon was referring to Umar Patek and Dulmatin, tagged as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in the Indonesian island resort.

The Philippine military tightened security in Jolo island after troops last week seized 6,000 blasting caps and ten sacks of ammonium nitrate used by the Abu Sayyaf group to manufacture improvised explosives.

The military said a man, Mujahiri Malik, who was allegedly transporting the explosives, was arrested, but his companion, a woman, had escaped and is being hunted by security forces.

The United States offered as much as $10 million bounty for Dulmatin and $1 million for Patek's capture and another $5 million for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, its chieftain. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group's leaders and their members dead or alive.

The Mindanao Examiner Is Now Accepting Ads

Place your own logo, web sites and links, products and sevices and even video clips online!
The Mindanao Examiner is now accepting advertisements for as low as USD 100 a month for its new website.

Contact us now for more details:

Christian And Islamic Leaders Plan Activities At Regional Meeting In South

ALABEL, Sarangani (UCAN / 24 Aug) Bishops and Islamic scholars from Indonesia and the southern Philippines have agreed to collaborate to build peace in their region.

Peace building was the focus of the First Indonesia-Mindanao Bishops-Ulama (Islamic scholar) Network (IMBUN) preparatory meeting last week in Alabel town in Sarangani province in the southern Philippines, 1,045 kilometers southeast of Manila.
The delegation from Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, comprised three Catholic bishops, three Islamic scholars, a Protestant theologian and a Protestant pastor. The southern Philippines was represented by seven Catholic and Protestant bishops, three Islamic scholars and a Protestant laywoman.
The Philippines, which has the largest Christian population in Asia, also has a Muslim minority concentrated in Mindanao. Participants from each country met first in separate groups of Catholics, Protestants and ulama. Next the delegates from both countries joined together in these same three groupings. All then came together for a plenary session.
Asked to discuss "key trends" in their countries, they examined social justice, failure of democracy, religious fanaticism and failure of governments to take care of the poor. They also shared experiences of how "outdated" constitutions in their countries lead to government restrictions and how multinational ventures with "elite" in their countries cause problems.
Philippine Catholic bishops described Basic Ecclesial Community programs aimed at forming Church members to help uplift their communities. Archbishop Aloysius Sudarso of Palembang, South Sumatra, reported on a parallel program in Indonesia to form Basic Human Communities that involve and serve Muslims and Christians.
During the plenary, Shari'a (Islamic law) judge Ali Alonto of Marawi City, north of Sarangani, reported that the ulama group spent most of its time discussing causes of poverty and the need for continuing dialogue between Ulama League of the Philippines and its counterpart, Majelis Ulama Indonesia.
He said the ulama agreed to explore how to develop commerce between their two countries and would look into including Muslim women in dialogues with businessmen in both countries.
Bishop Emeritus Hilario Gomez of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, reported that discussions of the Protestant leaders stressed the role of education in eradicating poverty and building peace. He said Christian leaders proposed to seek funds for media productions promoting the ideals of peace, reconciliation and development in the two countries.
The leaders believe new approaches to education are needed to demolish "old stereotypes that cause hatred and hurt" among people of various religions, Bishop Gomez explained.
Aside from Archbishop Sudarso, the Indonesian Catholic delegation comprised Archbishop Johannes Liku-Ada of Makassar and Sacred Heart Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina (Ambon).
Islamic scholars from Indonesia included Nur Fahdil Lubis, H. Muhammad Mgoddas and Atho Mohamad Mudzar. Indonesian Protestant theologian Robinson Radjagukguk of Sekolah Tinggi Theologi Jakarta, who is teaching in Silliman University in the central Philippines, attended the meeting with Reverend Krise Golsal of the Evangelical Church in North Sulawesi, the lone female Indonesian delegate.
Philippine Catholic delegates included Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) convener Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines vice president Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, and Bishops Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel and Edwin de la Pena of Marawi.
Aside from Bishop Gomez, Protestant convener of the BUC, Bishops Danilo Bustamante of the Philippine Episcopal Church and Felixberto Calang of the Philippine Independent Church in Davao City, represented southern Philippine Protestants, along with Purita Bahande from the UCCP in Lanao del Sur province.
Local Islamic scholars included Mahid Mutilan, president of the Ulama League of the Philippines, who led the local ulama delegation, which included Alonto and Professor Shariff Jullabi, of Zamboanga City.
"We are for peace and we are building hope for everybody. Peace is important to everyone and without peace there will be no harmony and unity," Jullabi told the online newspaper the Mindanao Examiner.
The delegates also toured spots in Marbel diocese, which covers General Santos City, all of southern Cotabato province and Sarangani, as well as parts of Sultan Kudarat Province. Archbishop Liku-Ada told UCA News he was impressed most by the visit to Archbishop Capalla's residence in Davao City.
"I saw people of all faiths not only sitting and eating together, but they also stayed overnight in the bishop's house," the archbishop of Makassar said. "You would never see that in Indonesia," the prelate remarked. "It was wonderful."
After the IMBUN meeting, the Indonesians stayed as observers at the Aug. 18-19 BUC General Assembly in General Santos City. Archbishop Ledesma, who chairs the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, told reporters at the end of the assembly that the Philippine bishops and ulama at the meeting planned for the annual Mindanao Week of Peace and Youth Camp held the last week of November.
He reported that the BUC invited Indonesian bishops to send six youths each from Christian and Muslim groups to this year's commemoration. The prelate explained that the religious leaders agree "there is a need to work with and prepare young leaders" for peace movements in Indonesia and the Philippines.
The archbishop said a second IMBUN meeting has been set for February 2007.The U.S. Church's Catholic Relief Services and The Asia Foundation sponsored the meeting as a follow up to recommendations of the 2003 Asian Gathering of Muslim Ulama and Christian Bishops. That gathering in Manila resolved to work on developing a region-wide forum for interreligious dialogue.
The Asia Foundation, an NGO based in San Francisco, California, says it promotes the development of peace and justice in the Asia-Pacific Region.According to, Indonesia is home to more than 182 million Muslims, 88 percent of its 207-million population. The 2000 census in the Philippines recorded 70.4 million Christians living in the country. (With a report from Mark Navales)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Please Donate To The Poor. Help The Children In Zamboanga.

For its residents, Lumbangan is a man-made hill of poverty, a symbol of a struggle for many who brave the heat and cold in search of scrap.

The village, about 10 kilometers east of Zamboanga City, is a dump for tons of garbage that could be anything from a harmless piece of rubber duck toy to more toxic materials such as computer and television parts or even a bottle of pesticide.

“Welcome, Joe, this is our place,” said Rodel Cabayacruz. At age 13, he has spent half of his lifetime scavenging for scrap—papers, tin cans, and even rotten food—just to be able to help his family.

“I come here every day and I don’t mind the stench. What is important to me is I bring a little money for my brother’s milk. We are so poor that my mother cannot even send me to school,” he says.

Rodel earns around P50 a day and he is only one of many dozens of children, some as young as two years old, who regularly go to the dump.

On Christmas Eve, Rodel needs to take home some money, not for the traditional feast, but to buy medicines for his kid brother. “You know the kids, they get sick often,” he says.

“What’s for Christmas, let’s see. Well, it is just another day for us. No feast for sure. Just last night we had a rice and fish sauce for supper, and the other day, salt, and earlier, we had a dinner of fish paste,” he says.

His father and mother also scavenge for scrap. “And my kid brother stays in the house alone and sometimes with the neighbors,” says Rodel, the eldest of the three siblings. Another brother, aged 12, helps him scavenge.

The dump is a place of opportunity for many jobless people in the village, but there are dangers to face as well.

Many scavengers are suffering from respiratory diseases. One man says he has tuberculosis. “I am always feverish and I cough a lot.”

But for many, life must go on. “There is no help here. We struggle here every day so we can also eat at least once a day. We are appealing to the government to help the poor by providing us with sustainable livelihood programs,” says Marilyn Solis, a 29-year-old.

“It will be very lucky if can take home P50. Most of the time I get only 20 pesos from the scrap I pick up here,” Marilyn says. Another scavenger, Victoria Alejandro, even brought her baby as she scrounges for fresh garbage. “Not much today, look around you, there is nothing, and if there are some, the others have already got them,” the 39-year-old mother says.

Many have waited for Santa Claus to arrive at the dump, but it was already Christmas Eve and there was no sign that the great gift-giver would come.

“Santa is not coming, I guess. Maybe it is because of the smell and the garbage. You know the place is really dirty,” says Emong Patrocino. “We want to ask our Santa some food for the kids, not for us.”

Like Patrocino, the rest also waited for Santa, but many Christmas eves had passed without his showing up.“You know who is our Santa? They are the people we voted in the past elections, and we always pray that for just once, they would come and visit us here and see our plight and have pity on our children, even on Christmas Day,” Emong says, wiping his tears with a piece of tattered rag.

And for Rodel, his only wish this Christmas is for Santa Claus to come. (This story was written in December 24, 2005 and since then, no politicians had visited the children. Ed)

The Good News: MinBizCon Trade Fair Expected To Generate Millions In Revenues

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / August 23) Some P30 million in revenues are expected from a three-day trade fair, a side event of the 15th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon), which will begin August 31 in Zamboanga City, Filipino trade officials said Wednesday.

Hermie B. Cuevas, a division chief of the Department of Trade and Industry in Western Mindanao, said the upbeat projection came after hundreds of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) have confirmed their participation in the international conference.

"We are confident that we can go beyond P30-million in trade exhibit sales,to include product orders and negotiations," she told the Mindanao Examiner.
The DTI and some major sponsors to the conference are expected to put up at least three different kinds of booths to cater to the various needs of MinBizCon participants and potential buyers.
The three booths arefor international showcase, investment and services, and other souvenirs and food items, among others.
Cuevas said half of the more than 100 SMEs, which signed up to join the exhibition and trade fair are local manufacturers. She said among the best selling products Zamboanga has to offer include canned and bottled sardines, fashion accessories made from sea shells and other marine resources.

She said entrepreneurs in Zamboanga Peninsula are now venturing into new products such as bottled calamansi juice, vacuum packed-dried fish, furniture and home furnishing products and assorted souvenirs, from jewelry boxes made from mother of pearl and sea shells to the more intricate, hand-woven Yakan cloth.

Zamboanga Peninsula's entrepreneurs came out on topof the SME's in Mindanao after posting a significant sale of P19 million worth of products during the Yamang Mindanao Exhibit held in General Santos City,in July.
Cuevas said Zamboanga Peninsula has at least 17,000 existing SME's and up to 70% of them are into food processing.
Sitti Amina Jain, DTI assistant regional director, said government agencies, including the Department of Science and Technology,Technical Education of Skills and Development Authority agreed to help assist existing and emerging SMEs in product development program.

The program has already assisted at least 41 local entrepreneurs, who are also expected to showcase their own products during the business conference here.

2 Soldiers Slain, 17 More Wounded In Fierce Jolo Clashes

Government soldiers patrol Jolo island, where troops are battling Abu Sayyaf militants. (Mindanao Examiner)

JOLO ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Aug) At least 2 soldiers and 17 more were wounded in fierce fighting in Jolo island on Wednesday as security forces battled Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to the Jemaah Islamiya, officials said.

“Two soldiers are dead and 17 are also wounded in today’s clashes. Fighting is raging in Patikul (town’s) hinterlands,” Marine Brig. Gen. Mohammad Dolorfino, deputy commander of the Southern Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Soldiers were battling Abu Sayyaf forces in Patikul town since early this morning. A militant was reported killed earlier in the day, but security officials said there could be more Abu Sayyaf casualties.

“We have reports of many casualties. We have intercepted radio reports indicating more Abu Sayyaf were killed and wounded in the fighting,” said Lt. Col. Susthenes Valcorza, a military spokesman.

The fighting began last month after troops attacked suspected lairs of the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo, where two Jemaah Islamiya bombers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, were believed hiding with the group of Khadaffy Janjalani, chieftain of the Abu Sayyaf.

Commies Attack Military Post In Bukidnon Province

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Aug) New People’s Army rebels raided an army detachment in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon and seized more than two dozen assorted weapons, a military report said Wednesday.

The report said the attack occurred before midnight Tuesday in the village of Banlag in Valencia City.
Other reports said one soldier was killed and a militia wounded in the raid.

It said troops were sent to the town to hunt down the rebels, who fled after the raid, said Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. “Troops are in the area and pursuing the rebels,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The NPA is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The NPA boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.

NPA Raids Zamboanga Town, Holds 14 People Hostage

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / 23 Aug) Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a small southern Philippine village Wednesday and took at least 14 people hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed, officials said.

The hostages were freed on a remote village called Buayan in the outskirts of Kabasalan town, according to Freddie Chu, the local mayor. “All 14 hostages are already free. They were not harmed,” he said.

It was unknown why the rebels detained the civilians, who were mostly students and workers at the Baptist Bible Church in the town. But Chu said the gunmen had earlier asked for food. “They only wanted food,” he said.

Pastor Manolo Gorbe, one of the freed hostages, said the rebels arrived on their school and herded them.

“They asked if we had weapons and they also asked for food, medicines and money. We cooked food for them and they held us for more than two hours before releasing us. They did not harm us,” he said.

Gorbe said the rebels also searched a house near the school for weapons, but they found nothing. “They searched for weapons and found nothing and then they ransacked the house,” he said.

He said the rebels fled after releasing him and 13 others. Security forces were sent to the town to pursue the rebels, officials said.

Police also heightened security in the town and put up checkpoints and road blocks and soldiers were patrolling villages.

“We are in heightened alert right now,” police officer Mike Canda, of the local police force, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The province is a known lair of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States and the European Union tagged the CPP and the NPA and their political arm the National Democratic Front as foreign terrorist organizations on the Filipino government’s prodding.

Since then, sporadic clashes escalated in the countryside and the rebels said they would only return to the peace talks if the US and Eu removed them from the terror lists.

President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA and even set aside one billion pesos for the military and police to help fight insurgency.
The rebels branded as pretentious bragging Arroyo's release of additional P1 billion to crush communist insurgency in the country.

"The additional P1 billion allocations to fund President Gloria Arroyo’s pipe dream of crushing the New People’s Army in two years is nothing but a display of fascist braggadocio typical of swaggering generals and dictators. It reveals the depths of Arroyo’s ignorance of the dynamics of revolution and the heights of her counter-revolutionary fantasy, which proves to be a costly yet deadly misadventure," Rubi del Mundo, a spokesman for the NDF in Mindanao, said.

Arroyo also ordered security forces to protect businessmen from NPA extortion and at the same told authorities to investigate and file criminal charges against those who are supporting the rebels. Traders have complained the rebels were extorting "revolutionary" taxes from them and those who refused to pay are threatened with harm.

“Arroyo is committing the same mistakes of past Philippine presidents: raising the ante for a militarist strategy under conditions of extreme poverty, social discontent and political polarization favors the revolutionary movement more than anything else,” said Del Mundo. “Martial Law and recycled presidential proclamations of “all-out-wars” thereafter failed to halt the advance of the revolutionary movement, much less defeat it.”

Del Mundo said the new anti-insurgency funding would only breed more corruption in the military and the police.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police generals are having a heyday under an embattled Arroyo regime whosepolitical survival they almost exclusively determine on a daily basis.
With billions of pesos at their disposal, corruption at the highest level of thereactionary regime and police officers corps shall continue without letup."The NPA is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The NPA boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.