Saturday, February 28, 2009

MILF rebels to help secure release of kidnapped Sri Lankan peace worker in Mindanao

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Commuter bus yields illegal drugs in the southern Philippines

DIGOS CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 28, 2009) – Police arrested a commuter bus driver on Saturday after an inspection in the vehicle yielded illegal drugs in the southern Philippines.

Police did not identify the driver, but he was arrested in Digos City after lawmen inspected the bus for contraband and illegal weapons. Police recovered an envelope containing methamphetamine hydrochloride crystal or locally known as shabu.

The driver denied it was his and said the packet came from an unidentified person from Cotabato and that somebody would pick it up. Police said it is investigating the allegation of the driver.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride is a powerful, synthetic stimulant drug. It is more powerful than other forms of amphetamine. It is more pure than the powder form of methamphetamine. (Geonarri Solmerano)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Moro Youth, Campus Journalist Leagues Slam Statutory Right of Reply Bill

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 27, 2009) - Moro youth and student writer groups in Cotabato City in Mindanao have strongly criticized Friday the passage of Right of Reply bill in Congress.

The Liga ng Kabataang Moro and College Editors Guild of the Philippines- Cotabato City chapter made their standpoint after the Senate, by a vote of 21-0, approved the passage of the bill.

The CEGP chapter here expressed their disappointment – believing the said bill would only devastate the essence of freedom of expression in any form - articles or interviews, speech or debate in TV or radio programs.

The Right of Reply Bill would mandate media companies to provide equal space or airtime to anyone who is subject of their critical reports to reply or react as form of the latter’s freedom of expression, thus, the right to reply; be it in television, radio or publications.

The guild believes the bill, which requires or mandates publications like magazines, tabloids, broadsheets and news letter to publish replies in the same space; either front page or inside story, encroaches on the right of the editorial board to determine the content of publications according to the relevance of the issues.

"This will hamper both campus press and the mainstream media in determining what to air or publish. The bill would restrict the media from tackling sensitive issues and prevents the publication of valid criticisms against public figures, organization, company, etc. Even commercialized media would keep away from sensitive subjects knowing they will be obliged later on to provide equal space or air-time to the reply of the respondent. This will completely annihilate freedom of expression, it’s ultra-democracy", Michelle Tirol, CEGP chapter’s spokesperson, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

According to Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) spokesperson Marbawi Edza, the bill will deflate the right of editors and publishers to determine the content of the publications. The group is also apprehensive about its negative implications to the web postings, writings and publications of political views and standpoints and statements of Moro people.

"We respect and advocate freedom of expression in all levels and so the right to reply but the statutory right to reply is another thing. We and the campus press stand with the journalists and publishers in appealing to Congress for the withdrawal of the said bill." Edza concluded.

Various media groups have also opposed the mandatory, legislated, compulsory, court-enforceable Right of Reply on the ground that prior compulsion violates a publication's editorial independence and is thus unconstitutional. Instead it supports a Voluntary Right of Reply through Press Council.

Violations of rights under failing Filipino land reforms

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization with general consultative status.

When the 1988 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) was enacted, there were expectations that landless farmers would be able to obtain land, which they could use to cultivate crops to provide for their subsistence, and build their homes.

However, over two decades after the land reform law was enacted, thousands of hectares of land have yet to be distributed to landless farmers.

A local organization helping the farmers, Task Force Mapalad (TFM), has reported that at least 24,115 hectares of land, all of which are owned by wealthy and influential persons, have not been distributed to farmers. This figure, however, only concerns the lands under the TFM’s area of concern, and does not include the land that for distribution that other local organizations are dealing with. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the agency tasked to implement the land distribution, reportedly has a backlog of at least 1.2 million of hectares of land that needs to be given to farmers.

The government’s failure to ensure that land that was intended for distribution is promptly given to the qualified beneficiaries, has since resulted in conflict, often resulting in violent clashes, between farmers and armed men that the landlords have employed. In most cases, the landlords use violence against the farmers, once the latter begin asserting their rights of ownership of the land they have been provided under the CARL.

In the 21 years of the existence of the CARL, hundreds of land reform and farmer activists have been killed, either in individual targeted extra-judicial killings due to their work in helping farmers to claim land, or in incidents in which violent confrontations took place with armed men that the landlords have employed. Such armed confrontations occur when courts rule that the farmers can occupy the land that they are already allowed to farm.

The failure of the authorities to protect such persons and ensure their rights under the CARL are guaranteed and implemented have led to problems for such farmers concerning their abilities to be able to have, inter alia, food to eat, medication for illness, a house to live in and to send their children to school to receive education, while legal procedures in court concerning their cases drag on for years.

Farmers have engaged in marches that are hundreds of kilometers long to travel to the central government offices in Manila, in an effort to get attention. Others have gone on hunger strike, held daily demonstrations, and have been arrested and been charged in courts for holding such demonstrations.

In December 2008, when the budget and the implementation of the CARL was about to expire, hundreds of farmer beneficiaries, land reform activists and others concerned for the farmers’ welfare, held demonstrations to petition the Congress to have the implementation of the land reform law extended. Although the Congress did extend it for another six months, from January to June 2009, it did not include the provisions concerning Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD).

Under the LAD, the government has the authority to compel the landowners to sell their properties to the government. The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) conducts evaluations to determine the cost of the property that is for distribution and subsequently pays for it on behalf of the farmer.

Since the money used in buying the land comes from budget allocations for this purpose, the farmer beneficiaries are expected to repay the government through a mode of repayment that is affordable to them. The absence of LAD provisions renders the implementation of land reform meaningless in the period in question.

Firstly, there is no more budget to pay to landlords or multinational corporations whose lands are being subjected to land distribution. Even if they are qualified beneficiaries, farmers therefore don’t have the means to acquire the land concerning which they claim ownership. Although the budget for technical support to farmers had been retained, it is not sufficient to ensure that the farmers can acquire the land.

The government, in particular the legislative body, who is supposed to ensure the welfare of these farmers, has therefore decided to use their authority deliberately against these farmers’ interests. It is a common knowledge that several members of Congress own land that is also to subjected to distribution.

Secondly, wealthy and influential landowners have been exploiting the delay in adjudication of cases in court to frustrate the farmers. These also include properties owned by the family of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s husband in Negros province, Jose Miguel Arroyo; the property owned by the family of President Arroyo’s secretary, Francisco T. Duque III in Pangasinan, amongst others. Arroyo’s property has not been distributed to farmer beneficiaries, while the landless tenants in Duque’s property are struggling to claim ownership of the land.

The landlords exploit the judicial process by subverting procedures in regular courts to file charges against the farmers. For example, they have file criminal complaints concerning qualified theft or trespassing. Under such charges, the farmers and their families are effectively being charged for harvesting crops that they cultivate, and charged for trespassing on the land on which they built their homes and have lived all their lives. Such actions are usually taken when the farmers attempt to claim ownership of the land.

In one case, in Bondoc Peninsula in March 2006, villagers occupying the land of a wealthy and influential land-owner family, were charged with numerous questionable criminal offences in court. Although the regular courts are not supposed to have jurisdiction or to adjudicate cases related to disputes in the implementation of land reform, local courts ignore this.

The prosecution service and judicial process has been exploited to attack farmers attempting to claim ownership over the land they cultivate. (AHRC)

Red Cross sends medicines to hostages in the southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 27, 2009) – The International Committee of the Red Cross has sent fresh supplies of medicines to three aid workers kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf is holding Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba in the jungle of Indanan town. The trio was kidnapped in Patikul town after they inspected a humanitarian project at a local prison.

“We know from reliable sources that they received fresh supplies of medicines that we sent them,” said Alain Aeschlimann, the ICRC's head of operations for East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific.

The terrorists reportedly demanded $10-million ransoms for the safe release of the hostages and the pull out of security forces from around an area where they are holed out.

The kidnappers are also considering swapping the hostages with jailed Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the Philippines, according to a report by the Philippine News Service.

It said the Abu Sayyaf could end up swapping Notter, Vagni and Lacaba to any of at least 135 terrorists jailed in Manila. Among those in prisons are Hector Janjalani, elder brother of slain Abu Sayyaf chieftain Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, and other Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya bombers.

The ICRC said it has no contact with the hostages since last week, although, the Abu Sayyaf allowed a television interview recently.

“The three of them made contact with the ICRC and their families a week ago. Since then, we have not had any direct contact with them. In two media interviews, Mary Jean and Andreas said they were feeling weaker and having some health problems. It's hard to confirm what is being reported by the media, but we are concerned about their health and about the fatigue and stress they are suffering,” Aeschlimann said.

“It is very difficult to know precisely where they are. There is a lot of speculation about that. All we can say at this stage is that we know they have been on the move over recent days and that they have had to walk in very difficult conditions, through the jungle and often in the rain. All of this has apparently weakened them.”

Aeschlimann appealed anew to the Abu Sayyaf to free the hostages, one of them Vagni, is reportedly sick.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the fate of the hostages. “They should release the hostages without conditions. The Abu Sayyaf cannot blame the government for what is happening to the hostages. It is them who should be blamed for the kidnapping of the Red Cross workers,” he said.

Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu province, who heads the task force working for the safe release of the hostages, rejected the kidnappers' demand and called on the Abu Sayyaf to free their captives unharmed. Tan said the government will not pay ransom to the kidnappers.

Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim, the Sulu police chief, said security forces are only awaiting orders to rescue the hostages. “We are awaiting orders to rescue the hostages. Security forces have cordoned off the Abu Sayyaf in the hinterlands,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oroquieta Press Club seeks justice for murdered broadcaster in Mindanao

We wish to convey our deepest sympathy and condolence to the bereaved family of Ernesto “Ka Ernie” Rollin. The whole community of media practitioners in Oroquieta City and Misamis Occidental is one with you in the search for justice to his untimely death.

While we understand the utmost risk involved in the nature of our profession, we strongly condemn the brutal and treacherous murder of our fellow journalist who earned his living through his journalistic practice. In this regard, we call on the police to fast track its investigation into the case and pave the way for immediate justice to Ka Ernie and his family.

Likewise, we call on the people to be vigilant in monitoring the conduct and any development pertaining to the investigation currently being undertaken by the authorities.

As a full-time radio commentator, Ka Ernie must have earned the ire from traditional politicians in Misamis Occidental for his fierce attacks and commentaries on corruption issues involving them. Irregardless of his political affiliation and personal belief, he deserves the rights every journalist in the country should enjoy.

Telling the truth to the public no matter how dismal it may seem to the public official involved remains a noble principle of every media practitioner. Besides, it is the public’s right to know every detail concerning the affairs of any government body and the performance of every elected government official.

Killing a journalist cannot kill the truth nor can conceal the official’s misdoings from the public’s eye. In contrast, it only further shows the lack of moral authority to the part of the official.

We understand that the lack of economic security, low income, and political violence have forced several media practitioners into several corrupt practices to include the familiar term of “envelopmental journalism”, among others.

These practices then easily make them frontline targets of political violence. But in Ka Ernie and all other media deaths, there is absolutely no moral and rational justification for murder. Now, Ka Ernie has become a part of the long-list of victims of impunity against journalists in the Philippines.

While justice remains elusive for Ka Ernie and the rest of our fallen journalists, the national government still falls short of providing protection and long-term solution to the issue of media killings. The lack of concrete actions, delay in investigative and judicial proceedings contributes much to the culture of media killings.

The lack of seriousness and sincerity to the part of the police in the pursuit of investigations further denies the media community right to speedy justice. The Oroquieta City Press Club joins hand with other media groups in the country for this common call for an end to media killings.

We at the Oroquieta Press Club reiterate our call for a swift and impartial investigation that will eventually lead towards the delivery of justice to Ka Ernie’s family and the media community as well.

Stop the Killings! Justice to Ka Ernie!

Paul Pastrano Gangoso
President, Oroquieta City Press Club


Stop peddling your lies, peasants tell Army in southern RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Militant farmer's group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Southern Mindanao Region, lambasted Thursday the 10th Infantry Battalion after army officials denied human rights abuses committed by soldiers from the 3rd Special forces against residents of Paquibato District in Davao City.

“We are holding copies of affidavits sworn in by at least six victims of physical injuries, harassment, grave threats and intimidation committed by the military since January this year.

The military is blatantly lying to the public about its crimes against the people. While it tries to save face, the people, the victims themselves are speaking up, demanding justice over the crimes committed against them” Tony Salubre, KMP - SMR Spokerperson said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Salubre said of the victims who approached the help of farmer and human rights groups, four members of the Paquibato District Peasant Alliance (PADIPA) have been subject to physical injuries on January 27 this year while the 10th ID was holding a massive military operation. The victims are residents of Sitio 5 in the village of Mapula.

On a separate incident on January 29, three residents from the villages of Panialum and Paquibato, including a local church leader, were similarly mauled by unidentified elements from the same military unit.

Salubre stressed that no less than Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, himself, chided the military and asked them to leave the area for mauling residents of Panilaum. He said that after the condemnation of the abuses by the local government and rights groups, human rights abuses in the area even worsened.

KMP said that residents of Paquibato complained in writing that on February 7, one resident was subject to strafing by elements of the military while on February 12, two farmers were then again mauled.

“There is no justification for the military's crimes committed against civilians. The military must be held accountable for the cycle of abuses, white washing and escapism that they implement as part of their bloody counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya 2 of which civilians are mainly targeted,” Salubre said.

KMP calls for the Commission on Human Rights and the Davao City local government to hold an immediate investigation of the victims' complaints, challenging the two agencies to act on the long acute problem of “denial of justice” for victims of human rights violations committed by the Philippine Armed Forces.

Philippine Army denies harassing Benedictine nun, 3 others in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - The Army's 10th Infantry Division stood firm in its commitment to serve the nation amidst alleged harassment complaints from a nun and three other civilians in Davao Oriental province from members of the environmentalist group Panalipdan, which involved a nun, Sister Stella Matutina, from the Order of Saint Benedictine, and 3 others - Wenceslao Mapa, Maria Fe Matibo and Gil Centenales.

They complained of being arrested, detained and harassed by members of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Cateel town in Davao Oriental.

As per report, armed men were found in the Barangay Hall of Brgy Taytayan, Cateel. The report also mentioned the presence of a Barangay Kagawad from a different municipality and a nun. This scenario heightened the anxiety of concerned citizens in the area leading them to report the situation to the proper authorities.

Lt. Col. Rolando Bautista, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division of the Army, strongly denied the allegations of harassment against military personnel.

In a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner, he stated that the soldiers responded to a reliable report from local populace by proceeding to the place where the consolidation of the armed group was reported.

The soldiers were surprised to see Sister Stella Matutina in the said place. She was asked some questions as part of the Standard Operating Procedures of the military and was then turned over to the parish priest of Cateel.

The military has continuously struggled to protect the civilians in rebel-infested areas like Cateel. Upon receiving reports of rebel movements or armed elements, it is their primary duty to investigate and probe into such activities. In this case of Sister Stella, the military is relentless in their position that no form of harassment was inflicted on the nun.

It is only but customary for military personnel to bring high-powered firearms when on operation and to be strong in carrying out their missions without the intention of imposing fear on civilians. Operations like this are done to verify reports of unusual or suspicious activities and not to terrorize the people contrary to what is being claimed by some.

In the case of Sister Stella, the 10ID is evaluating several facts. First point was her presence in the area of Barangay Taytayan, Cateel without proper coordination.

It was even reported that Fr. Nestor Morata, parish priest of Cateel, was dismayed when he found out that Sister Stella Matutina and her environmentalist group conducted a meeting/seminar in the area without coordinating with his office.

Second, during the military operation, Sister Stella was in civilian attire which was the reason why she was not identified and recognized as a nun. The military troop who conducted the operation had to wait until they received confirmation that she was indeed a nun.

In her statement, Sister Stella mentioned that nuns do not wear their habit when sleeping. Looking into this, it is even more dangerous that she slept in a barangay hall rather than in a parish convent where she will be safer.

Another fact is that Sister Stella claims that she was arrested along with three other members of Panalipdan which military officials strongly denied and confirmed by Fr. Morata’s statement, “Tama yung sinabi nung military na hindi nila inaresto ang madre. Tinanong lang nila yung madre then tinurn-over na nila dito sa amin.” Fourth, Sister Stella has only been here in the Philippines for almost two years since her last assignment, which lasted 18 years, was in Europe.
On the other hand, Panalipdan, an environmentalist group whose main advocacy is for environmental awareness and protection, was established only April of last year. These are the reasons that brought Sister Stella and Panalipdan members to Brgy. Taytayan for an information campaign on certain environmental issues despite the danger in these areas.

With the very short time that Sister Stella has stayed in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, she has not fully grasped the real threat in these rebel-infested areas.

This could also be true with Panalipdan since as a non-government organization, they have only existed for a while and perhaps, have not experienced or encountered various situations in Mindanao.

They may have known of the environmental threats in the area but in that short span of time, they may have been unaware of the intensity of danger caused by the rebel groups.

Lastly, Panalipdan released a statement that the Army is protecting the large-scale mining companies operating in the area of Davao Oriental. Military officials have reiterated that the presence of military troops in the area is mainly to neutralize the threats of rebel groups.

At the same time, the Army was deputized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to monitor the extortion activities of these lawless groups against mining companies and corporations operating in the area.

The incident in Cateel, along with the alleged harassment complaints against military personnel, prompted the military institution to once again emphasize their obligation to protect the Filipino people at all costs.

The military cannot stop civilians from coming in and out of these rebel-infested areas but they would like to appeal to the general public to make all the necessary coordination with the proper authorities.

Continuous military operations are conducted in these areas and it will be of great help if every person coming in could be monitored along with the activities they engage in.
To ensure the security situation of certain areas in Mindanao, the 10ID cannot risk being lenient especially when civilians’ lives may be put in danger.

Finally, the 10ID takes a firm stand that if indeed their soldiers have violated the human rights of Sister Stella and the three other members of Panalipdan, then, they should file a case and allow the involved members of the Armed Forces to have a fair trial. They will respond to these complaints in the proper forum.

Sarangani province unfurls Philippines' largest flag

Filipinos pose on a replica of the Philippines’ largest flag laid across a two-hectare field near the Capitol building in Sarangani province in Mindanao on Thursday, February 26, 2009. The flag is second only to Israel as the world largest flag in the Guinness Book of World Records.
(Photo by Cocoy Sexcion)

Ground Breaking Sa Roro Port Sa Zamboanga del Norte

Si Zamboanga del Norte Governor Rolando Yebes. (Photo contributed by Nonoy Lacson)

KATIPUNAN, Zamboanga del Norte (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 26, 2009) - Gihulagway nga usa ka makasaysayanon nga adlaw ang nahitabo sa lungsod sa Katipunan dungan sa ilang pagsaulog sa ika-95 ka adlaw nga kasumaran gikan sa pagkahimugso sa maong lungsod.

Gihimo ang ground breaking sa Roll-On Roll-Off port nga anaa sa New Tambo sa lungsod sa Katipunan. Sa hamubo nga programa, gipahayag ni Governor Rolando Yebes nga gikan karon pagatawgon na ang maong lungsod ug bag-ong Katipunan ug kini ang pagasugdan na karong panahona.

Gawas sa tabang sa probinsiya alang sa katumanan sa maong proyekto iyang gipanghinaot nga mo-ayuda usab niini ang Philippine Ports Authority. Gihatagan ug gibug-aton sa gobernador nga ang proyekto nga roll-on roll-off port sa Katipunan kini ang haom kaayo sa maong lungsod.

Hinungdan nga iyang gitambagan si Mayor Cris Eguia nga dili na kinahanglan pang hulaton ang PPA alang sa katukoran sa maong proyekto. Kinahanglan nga manghulam ug kuwarta ang lungsod ngadto sa bangko alang sa maong katuyuan gumikan kay ang provincial government ang anaa kanunay magpaluyo.

Ang nahisgutang proyekto kini usa lamang ka damgo kaniadto, apan pinaagi sa pagpaningkamot sa mga kadagkuan sa Katipunan ug sa probinsiya sa Zanorte ug Negros kini ang hinay-hinay karon nga natuman.

Gipahayag ni Governor Yebes nga ang roll-on roll-off port sa Katipunan ang gikinahanglan na pag-ayo karon ilabina nga aduna nay mando si Presidente Arroyo nga anhi mo-agi dinhi sa atong probinsiya ang train gikan sa Davao pinaagi sa Mindanao Railway System.

Bisan ang pantalan sa Dapitan dili na ma-akomodar ang ubang mga sakyanan nga nagdala ug daghanang mga produkto paingon ngadto sa probinsiya sa Negros pinaagi sa Roll-On Roll-Off tungod sa kadaghanan niini nga gikan pa sa General Santos City ug uban pang dapit dinhi sa Mindanao.

Kini timaan lamang sa nakitang kahigayunan nga magmalamboon ang atong probinsiya basta anaa lang ang panaghi-usa ug pagtinabangay. Matod pa ni Governor Yebes nga ang RoRo Port sa Katipunan maoy usa sa mga lugar nga makatabang sa probinsiya nga maoy mag-una diha na sa pagpalambo sa ekonomiya.

Kini maoy usa ka sakyanan nga magdala ug kaayohan ngadto sa probinsiya sa Negros ug balik dinhi sa atong lalawigan. Samtang gipahayag ni Congressman George Arnaiz sa probinsiya sa Negros nga miduyog sa maong ground breaking nga dugay ra kaayo ang maong tinguhang pagtukod ug RoRo Port sa maong lungsod.

Hinungdan nga mismo sila ang apil gayud sa naningkamot nga matuman ang maong proyekto, tungod kay ilang nakita nga apil ang probinsiya sa Negros sa kalambuan nga mahatag sa maong Puerto. Iyang gipasalig nga kutob sa iyang mahimo iya gayud nga paningkamutan nga matabangan ang lungsod sa Katipunan alang sa kahumanan sa maong proyekto.

Samtang gipasabot usab ni Congressman Henry Teves kung unsa ka importanti ang maong proyekto sa Katipunan. Ang Mindanao ang abundo kini sa mga nagkadaiyang produkto nga gikinahanglan sa Visayas ug Luzon. Gani ang factory nga gipanag-iyahan sa ilang pamilya anhi pa sila dinhi sa Mindanao mangumpra ug cassava.

Bisan sa kabahin sa mga torista nakita nga sayon ug dali ra unya ang pagtabok-tabok niini gikan sa Negros paingon dinhi sa Zamboanga del Norte sama sa mga produkto nga dali ra ang pagtumod niini ngadto sa mga merkado sa Visayas gamit ang RoRo Port sa Katipunan.

Gidugang ni Congressman Teves nga atol sa budget hearing sa kongreso sila ni Congressman Arnaiz gi-ayo nila ug sukit-sukit ang kabahin sa pundo sa PPA alang sa RoRo Port sa Siaton ug sa lungsod sa Katipunan sa kantidad nga 60 milyones pesos.

Alang kaniya nga kung anaa ang panaghi-usa sa mga opisyales siguradong maangkon ang kalambuan. Daw sa na e-motional si Congressman Teves sa iyang gipaambit nga mensahe kung unsa ka importanti ang pagserbisyo ngadto sa katawhan mintras anaa pa kita sa kalibutan.

Alang kaniya kariyot ra kaayo ang kinabuhi ug niining atong kinabuhi walay sapayan kung unsa ang atong makuha. Ang pinaka-importanti mao ang mga maayong nabuhat nga ikabilin sa mga katawhan sa dili pa kini mopanaw.

Mahinumduman si Congressman Teves ang biktima kini kaniadto sa nahitabong pagbuto sa bomba sa kongreso nga gikamatay sa iyang staff nga si Maan Bustalino nga taga dinhi sa dakbayan sa Dipolog.

Si Congressman Teves ang nakalingkawas kini sa maong hitabo nga nakaangkon ug pagkadaot sa iyang duha ka mga kamot nga pabilin niya karong gihambin. Pareho usab nga mipabati sa ilang dakong pagpasalamat sila si Mayor Cris Eguia, Vice Mayor Patchi Eguia ug Mayor Vincent Emil Arbolado sa pagpaningkamot ug suporta nga gilugway sa mga nahisgutang opisyal sa Negros ug Zamboanga del Norte alang sa maong proyekto sa Katipunan.

Ang RoRo Port sa Katipunan maoy magdugtong sa probinsiya sa Negros nga diin anaa lamang sa duha ka oras ang biyahe paingon ngadto sa Visayas gikan sa lungsod sa Katipunan.


Daw sa nakita nga walay interest nga motabang karon si 2nd District Cong. Dodoy Labadlabad sa katumanan karon sa RoRo Port sa lungsod sa Katipunan nga gihimo ang ground breaking niini kagahapong adlawa.

Sila si Cong. Teves ug Cong. Arnaiz ang parehong mipabati sa ilang panawagan nga gikinahanglan ang panaghi-usa sa mga opisyales niini dinhi sa Zamboanga del Norte alang sa kaayohan sa katawhan.

Ang maong proyekto ang dugay na kining gipangandoy ug karon hinay-hinay na kining gisugdan.
Sa interview, gipahayag ni Cong. Teves nga kaniadto sa dihang anaa pa siya sa Provincial Board ug gobernador pa si Cong. Arnaiz dugay na na kaayo nilang gitinguha ang maong proyekto nga magdugtong ang Katipunan ug probinsiya sa Negros.

Alang sa kongresista nga ang USA nga pagpaningkamot maoy mas maayo nga buhaton. Sila sa Negros nga human nagkahi-usa sila tanang mga opisyales atubangan sa managlahi nga partido misugod paglambo ang ilang lalawigan.

Giklaro ni Cong. Teves nga ang gusto unta nila nga mahitabo nga naa si Cong. Labadlabad sa panahon nga mo-follow-up sila alang sa maong proyekto ngadto sa DOTC ug ngadto kang Presidente Arroyo tungod kay ang Katipunan nahisulod sa distrito ni Cong. Labadlabad. ( Nonoy E. Lacson )

Church people denounce nun’s continuing harassment

As the bible says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and the needy (Prov. 31:8-9). But in this obscene climate of oppression, those who live up in this prophetic role become the foremost target of persecution.

Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB is the latest victim in the escalating threats against human dignity in the region. As if her detention by the soldiers of the 67th Infantry Battalion last February 16 was not enough, surveillance and harassment against her and her congregation have also occurred.

The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) strongly condemns this blatant disrespect and persecution of fellow church people. We strongly criticize the continuing persecution and Sr. Matutina’s saga and quest for justice against the arrest, arbitrary detention and harassment of the 67th Infantry Battalion.

Sr. Matutina has opted to live for the poor by being in solidarity with them in their struggle in the defense of the environment and life. Outside the confines of her convent, she, along with other advocates, went to the outside world, in the vastness of Davao Oriental hinterlands, where logging activities and mining explorations thrive posing threat to the environment and to God’s people.

Her vocation has brought her even closer to God’s people, risking the ire of the military establishment which apparently protects big business interest in the areas where she serve.

We are disheartened with the chilling truth that even us, church people, can fell prey to the hostility of the supposedly protector of our people. But it is not surprising though for this is only a part of the extensive design of the OPLAN BANTAY LAYA, the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program that principally targets civilians, human rights defenders and advocates.

We wholly support Sr. Matutina and her quest for justice. We call on our fellow church people to continue the ecumenical praxis for the defense, promotion and upholding of people’s rights and the integrity of creation.

We also enjoin our fellow church people to assert and to defend the integrity of the church people response to the challenges posed by the struggle of the Filipino people.

“Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32). Tell everyone, therefore, who is discouraged: Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your adversaries!”

Rev. Jurie Jaime
Promotion of Church People’s Response

Zambo Sur Medical Center, andam na mopahimutang sa mga pasyente nga mopailawom sa surgical operation

PAGADIAN CITY - Andam na ang mga kawani sa Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center, dao ning dakbayan nga mopahimutang sa mga pasyente nga ipailawom sa libre nga surgical operation sa mga espesyalistang doktor gikan sa kauluhan.

Kini maoy tipik sa giluwatang pamahayag ni Dr Atilano Jesus A. Ocampos, Provincial Health Officer ug hepe sa nasangpit nga balay-tambalanan atol sa gihimo nga interview sa Philippine Information Agency.

Matud pa ni Dr Ocampos nga gi-andam na nila ang walo ka mga kuwarto nga kapahigayon sa surgical operation sa mga pasyente nga human nakapailawom sa pre-screening nga gihimo duha ka semana ang nakalabay.

Himoon ang color coding aron mahatagan ug kasayon ang mga pasyente nga mopailawom sa nasangpit nga surgical operation diin ang matag-gidestino nga kuwarto adunay naghinungod nga numero aron sayon matultulan sa mga pasyente ang kuwarto nga gidestino nganha kanila.

Ang libre nga medical ug surgical outreach mission nga gipasiugdahan sa kagamhanang ning lalawigan pinaagi ni Gobernador Aurora Cerilles, giabagan sa Renal Disease Control Program -National Kidney and Transplant Institute (REDCOP-NKTI), Department of Health-Center for Health and Development, Zamboanga Peninsula (DOH-CHDZP), ug Philippine Information Agency, gitakdang ipahigayon karong Pebrero 27-28 sa Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center diin ang gipunting nga mga benepesyaryo nga makapimulos sa nasangpit nga programa mao ang mga kabus ug timawa nga mga mulupyo sa mga kalungsuran sa Zamboanga del Sur.

Gipahayag ni Dr Ocampos nga sugdan na karong adlawa (Miyerkoles), pagpasulod sa mga pasyente nga nahumana nakapailawom sa pre-screening aron nga mapasayon ug mapahimutang pag-ayo ang ilang pagpailawom sa nasangpit nga operasyon.

Ang mga espesyalistang doktor gikan sa kaluluhan nga mahidangat dinhi sa dakbayan, panguluhan sa lumad ug tubo sa Pagadian nga si Dr Enrique Ona, Executive Director sa NKTI, Dr Remedios de Belen-Uriarte, National Program Manager sa REDCOP, nephrologists ug urologists nga mopaambit sa ilang medical expertise kabahin sa sakit nga kidney, pagpahibalo sa mga preventive measures, ug uban pang mga susamang isyu nga may kalabutan ang maayong panglawas kini sa ipahigayon nga Lay Forum on Renal Disease Prevention and Organ Donation nga pagahimoon sa Pebrero 27, 1-5 ang takna sa hapon sa Amusement and Event Center (AEC), Provincial Capitol Compound ning dakbayan.

Ang Lay Forum gitakdang pagatambongan sa mga Municipal Health Officers, Sangguniang Bayan officials nga chairman sa Committee on Health, empleyado sa kagamhanan, mga magtutudlo, estudyante, ug uban pa, gikan sa mga kalungssuran sa Zamboanga del Sur ug dakbayan sa Pagadian.

Campaign against bill making right of reply obligatory

MANILA, Philippines - Reporters Without Borders supports Philippine journalists who are campaigning against a bill that would force news media to publish or broadcast the response of anyone claiming to have been unfairly criticized in that media.

The press freedom organization believes the right of reply should be respected but not imposed by force, and urges parliamentarians to throw out the bill.

The House of Representatives is due to vote soon on the Right of Reply Bill (RORB), which would impose heavy fines and censorship on news media that fail to comply, or even jail terms on the staff responsible.

The bill was described as an “act of terrorism against the media” by journalists’ organizations when they gathered yesterday to press their demand for its withdrawal.

The bill says anyone “accused of a crime or criticized for any lapse in behavior” shall be given the right to reply in the media that printed or broadcast the accusation.

A lawyer said the bill would violate a constitutional ban on laws that restrict free speech, freedom of expression and press freedom. As the country’s press councils already allow people to claim the right of reply, the proposed law is seen as way to pressure the media.

Editors and media executives fear candidates in next year’s elections will use it to harass journalists.

More than 130 journalists and media executives have already signed a petition against the bill.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Student activists hold anti-Arroyo protest in Mindanao

Photos released by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines show students and activists during an anti-Arroyo rally on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 in Cotabato City in Mindanao.

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 25, 2009) – Student writers in the southern Philippines held a rally on Wednesday to protest government profiling of political activists and militarization in universities in Mindanao.

The rally, spearheaded by Mindanao chapters of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), was held in Cotabato City. It was attended by students from the CEGP chapters in Cotabato and Kidapawan cities; Midsayap and Kabacan towns in North Cotabato province and Maguindanao province.

The CEGP labeled Arroyo as “defector” of EDSA people power uprising for having approved and implemented various anti-people policies such as the calibrated preemptive response, EO 464 and Human Security Act among others that muzzled the rights of citizens to free expression.

EDSA people power refers to the civilian-led, military-backed revolution that toppled President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and catapulted Benigno Aquino’s widow, Corazon Cojuanco, to the presidency.
“Student writers are one with the country’s journalists denouncing insecurity and disrespect to press freedom under GMA administration. Philippines has been listed as the second risky place for journalists in the world. Even in the campus level, campus press is continuously experiencing harassments from different perpetrators,” CEGP’s Michelle Tirol said in a statement.

Tirol also vehemently condemned the malicious “profiling” of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to Bai Ali Indayla, former chief editor of the TORCH student publication in Cotabato City State Polytechnic College.

She said a government agent “collected” information about the student publication, including its literary folio and personal background of Indayla for a still unknown reason.

“The CEGP laments that despite the attacks to mainstream media and even to campus writers and leaders, Arroyo’s administration still has no political will to cease and resolve these problems. Nobody should be blame if one would be subjective that there is Malacańan consent on the attacks to press freedom,” Tirol said.
The group also counted the recent killing of broadcaster Ernie Rollin, of dxSY radio, in Oroquieta City in Misamis Oriental province.

Militant groups accuse Filipino leader of rights violations, etc.

Twenty-three years after President Ferdinand Marcos was deposed by the Filipino people, militant groups led by Bayan are again clamoring for the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo. Bayan accused Arroyo of failing to improve the standards of living of Filipinos and the government rampant violations of human rights that it said even surpassed the 20-year Marcos regime's record of human rights violations.
(Contributed by / Photo by Jonald Mahinay)

RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement helps build a strong republic, says Foreign Affairs

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 25, 2009) - The Philippines' Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States is indispensable to the nation’s security.

It released this Fact Sheet containing information on gains that accrue to the Philippines through the VFA.

* The RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is crucial to building a strong Philippines and maintaining a stable Asia-Pacific.

As an integral part of the network of alliances in the Asia-Pacific, the VFA helps preserve peace and stability in an era of uncertainty brought on by the emergence of non-traditional threats to security.

The VFA implements the Philippines’ only military alliance and its most effective deterrent against any potential aggressor.

By increasing interoperability between Philippine and US forces, the VFA enhances Philippine national security and helps create a stable environment conducive to economic development.
The VFA helps ensure that the AFP is kept abreast of new military strategies and technologies, as well as best practices of the US military, increasing its capacity to respond to both traditional and non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters and transnational crime.

In 2006, Philippines was assisted in the training and equipping of one (1) engineering company, three (3) Infantry battalions, one (1) Marine battalion, and three (3) Light Reaction Companies (LRC).

Last year, through a total of 25 major exercises under the VFA, Philippine armed forces personnel obtained enhanced training, assistance and support on defense capacities including surveillance, intelligence, reconstruction, communications, and mobility.

Through the VFA, the AFP is provided with the necessary materiel to effectively carry out its mandate of ensuring the nation’s security.

* The VFA is essential to RP-US cooperation in the Philippine Defense Reform Program.
As a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA), the Philippines enjoys priority status in sourcing Excess Defense Articles.

The United States has already provided the AFP with 8 helicopters in 2000; 20 of the 30 committed UH-1H (Huey helicopters) in 2007; 1 cyclone; 6 fast anti-terrorism boats; 433 M-35 trucks; 30,000 M-16 rifles; 1 C130; 2 Point Class navy cutters; night vision goggles; navigation equipment; and protection equipment such as vests and helmets.

In addition to being the Philippines’ largest source of foreign military financing, valued at an average of $ 30 million annually in grants, the United States has also committed to share in the expenses for the implementation of the Joint Defense Assessment (JDA), costing approximately $ 400 million over a ten-year period. The US National Defense Authorization Act also allocated $ 12 million and $ 16 million to the Coast Watch South Project in 2007 and 2008, respectively, to strengthen security at our borders.

* The VFA generates income for the country

The VFA, through the 5-year RP-US Mutual Logistics Support Agreement that facilitates reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies and services during military exercises, provided revenues for the AFP amounting to US$706,425.28 from seventy (70) recorded transactions.
United States ship visits to the Philippines have brought in $ 5 million and $ 9.5 million in 2006 and 2007, respectively, as proceeds from the replenishment of supplies and logistics.

* The VFA facilitates RP-US cooperation eliminating the scourge of terrorism and in rebuilding in times of disaster.

In 2008, the aircraft carrier USS Reagan assisted in relief activities following typhoon Frank. Its 13 cargo aircraft and helicopters have flown 316 sorties delivering 479,105 Ibs. of relief supplies.
Through logistic and intelligence assistance received from the United States, Philippine forces have captured 38 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and killed 127 others, including Khadafy Janjalani, ASG spokesperson, Abu Solaiman, and ASG sub commander, Ismin Sahiron.

The civic-humanitarian component of VFA-related exercises also form the backbone of the soft approach to combating terrorism and fosters inter-faith cooperation between Christian and Muslim communities.

This was clearly evident when United States Senator Daniel Inouye, the incumbent chairman of the US Senate Appropriations Committee, visited the Philippines and was touched when he saw both Christian and Muslim Filipinos in Zamboanga cheering on US troops and waving the flags of both countries.

He commented that RP-US joint community cooperation “under the guidance and leadership of the Philippine armed forces, has played great dividends.”
* The VFA directly benefits the Filipino people through its civil-military and humanitarian component.

In the 2008, Balikatan, 17,209 patients were treated through the medical civic action program (MEDCAP), and 10 schools were repainted or rebuilt through the engineering civic action program (ENCAP).

In Puerto Princesa City, Balabac town Mayor Shuaib Astami expressed gratitude for the “blessings received by his town” through a five-day humanitarian and civic assistance program that formed part of Balikatan 08. About 2,500 residents were able to avail themselves of free medical and dental services, and joint RP and US forces were able to construct a two-room school building. The US forces also donated school supplies and athletic gear for elementary and high school students.

In Sulu, RP and US forces conducted a joint two-week medical mission in 19 towns in the province. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan noted that the humanitarian missions “will help a lot of people and we are supporting these efforts and we appreciate what the United States is doing in Sulu.”

The Governor praised Balikatan 08 for “paving the way for peace and a progressive Sulu” and attributed the fact that Sulu is the most peaceful of Muslim provinces in the South due to “the presence of American forces” there.

Balikatan 09’s Civil-Military Operation (CMO) activities are scheduled to be conducted in Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon and would benefit 11,000 Bicolanos through MEDCAP and 9 barangays through ENCAP.

In a press briefing for Balikatan 09, the governors of the three provinces welcomed the medical and engineering missions as an extension of the US tradition of humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian mission ships, such as the USNS Mercy which visited Mindanao and Western Samar, helped 32,981 patients and 4,468 animals under the MEDCAP valued at $2.068 million. A total of 7 ENCAP projects, valued at $165,500, were also undertaken.

* The VFA is a concrete manifestation of the enduring alliance between the Philippines and the United States.

"The United States is perhaps the Philippines’ most important bilateral partner. It is the Philippines’ largest export market, its largest trading partner, its largest investor (cumulative basis) and the largest source of Official Development Assistance (ODA) grants. It is the only country with which the Philippines has a defense alliance, and which provides the Philippines with much-needed military equipment and training," the Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
"Clearly, the strategic defense relations, with the VFA as its anchor, have been instrumental in strengthening the country, securing its stability and in ensuring its continued prosperity," it added.

Anti-US protesters said the accord violated the sovereignty on the Philippines.

Sister Estella Matutina Speaks


Good morning, friends in the media, and my fellow religious and church workers. Today, I speak to all of you my thoughts on the unfortunate incident, as a servant of God has to go through. At the same time, to pose a challenge to everyone to overcome evil and continue to heed God’s calling.

I am Sr. Stella Matutina, a member of Order of St. Benedictine (OSB) assigned in Dawan Parish, Mati, Davao Oriental.

This year will be my second year of staying here in the Philippines. Previously, I was assigned abroad, in Europe , particularly, for 18 years, doing religious formation for foreign missions.

Reaching out to communities especially to poor ones is part of our congregation’s mission; we believe it is a way of exemplifying the real meaning of being a Christian, of being a follower of Christ.

My stint in Davao Oriental showed me the beauty and the abundance of the province with natural resources and mineral- rich lands. These resources are best to be utilized and benefited by the people themselves, for the development of their communities.

In my current assignment, I am mainly a trainor on sustainable agriculture. We want to promote sustainable agriculture as an alternative to mining. Large-scale mining as practiced by big mining corporations in the name of profit and greed is detrimental to our environment and people.

I am assigned in a socio-pastoral community in Mati where community-building activities are being conducted to help the people with their livelihood and welfare. We respond to different parish areas who invite us to provide educational trainings about sustainable agriculture.

The creation of Panalipdan, in April last year, was very timely with the intrusion of different mining companies in Davao Oriental. Panalipdan, of which I am an officer, is a multi-sectoral alliance for environmental awareness and protection and at the same time for the defense of our lands from the exploitation of big capitalists.

Since Panalipdan’s formation, we documented different mining operations and activities in Davao Oriental. We were able to conduct forums and film showings, and even attended barangay consultations regarding the entry of mining companies.

Our advocacy on anti- mining became well-known in Davao Oriental. In fact, one of our success stories is in Barangay Isidro, Lupon where equipment for mining operations of one company were prevented entry because of the people’s resistance.

A week before our forum in Taytayan, we went to Brgy. Surop, Governor Generoso to document and interview one person, whose brother, a miner of Sinophil Mining Corporation in Governor Generoso, died during a mining-related activity.

The forum in Barangay Taytayan, Cateel last February 15 is only one of our usual information- drive campaigns about environmental awareness and protection. As their invitation letter indicated, Barangay Taytayan experienced waist-high floods in the month of January which alarmed the residents and posed real danger on their lives.

We arrived in Cateel around 4:30 a.m. Then, at 5 o’clock I went to mass and after the mass, I informed Fr. Nestor Morata, the parish priest there, that I was there because I was invited to give a film showing in Taytayan and I even told him that I wanted to see Aliwagwag falls. He even invited me for coffee which I gently refused because my companions were waiting for me.

After the forum last February 15, my colleagues and I decided to pass the night in the Barangay Hall. At around 3:30 am, while sleeping at the second floor, we heard a noise from the first floor, as if somebody wanted to barge into the door.

Before we could manage to rise from our makeshift beds, we could see through the glass door silhouettes of several armed men hurriedly climbing the stairs and running toward us. They held us at gunpoint. I was still lying down when I raised my two hands and asked them what the matter was.

They asked for our names and at the same time reported it over their handheld radio device. They demanded to see the documents and materials we used during the training. We insisted that they give their names but our effort was futile. We peeped through the window and saw several soldiers outside and realized we were surrounded.

Truth to tell, I am furious with the incident. If the military can do such harassment to a nun like me, how much more to ordinary people who cannot defend their rights? I am more angered with what Lt. Soriao told me: that nuns like me should stay in the convent praying, and should not be in Barangay Taytayan, that nuns are just feigning to be religious but later on, they will organize the people to make them turn against the government.

Is this how peacebuilders like us should be treated and be accused?

When I raised my two hands, I remember I made the same gesture when I accepted my vow as a nun. As a nun, a church worker, a peacebuilder, as an environmental advocate, my life and those who are into the same profession and advocacy are constantly in danger as we thwart the evils of exploitation, greed, and corruption against our fellowmen.

My passion to serve my fellow human beings brought me to my journey in Cateel. If it is because of my passion to follow Christ that I will die, then let it be.

I may liken my plight to that of a tiny ant facing a big elephant. Actually, this is a story shared to me by a Sister in Africa . An ant may be tiny, and an elephant enormous and its trunk is a mighty weapon. But an ant knows where to hit the weak spot of an elephant. And when many ants bite an elephant, this huge beast will fall from the pain, and die. I may be a tiny ant in this journey, but together with other ants, we can face whatever adversary and overcome them.

But I am not afraid, and I pose this as a challenge: that we should not all be afraid. In the Bible, 1 Peter 5:8, the word of God says, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him be solid in your faith.”

Human Rights Groups Denounce Military Harassment

Statement on the Harassment, Illegal Arrest and Detention of Sister Stella Matutina,
Maria Fe Matibo, Wenceslao Mapa and Gil Sentimales

We, members of the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPS-HR) in British Columbia, Canada, express our outrage and disbelief at the harassment, illegal arrest, and detention of Sr. Stella Matutina of the Missionary Benedictine sisters and of Maria Fe Matibo, Wenceslao Mapa, and Gil Sentinales, all environmental advocates, last February 16, 2009 in Davao Oriental. Sr. Stella and her companions are members of the Panalipdan, a multi-sectoral alliance for environmental awareness and protection, firm in its anti-mining position and defense of the people's lands.

According to the Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), Sr. Matutina and her companions were invited by the local officials of Taytayan, Cateel, Davao to talk to the community about environmental awareness and protection.

It is unfortunate that just when entire communities, institutions and individuals all over the world are searching for and working on solutions to environmental problems like global climate change that threaten our very survival as a nation and as a planet, the Philippine military, steeped in paranoia and shortsightedness, once again raises the “terrorist” or “communist” specter to justify detaining Sr. Matutina and company. In this case, officials of the 67th Infantry Battalion alluded to “fake nuns organizing people against the government,” and going as far as to say, “a nun’s place is in the convent.”

We are aware of the backdrop on which this overzealous defense of the government by the military is being played. Mindanao, like the rest of the Philippines, has been and continues to be sold one hundred per cent to foreign big business, foremost of which are mining and logging interests.

With their local partners, among them political and military bigwigs, and the Presidential family, these profit leeches reap the bonanza of the plunder of the national patrimony and could not care less about the pollution of the Philippine lands and rivers, and the deprivation of the people 's right to life and their resources.

We commend Sr. Matutina and her companions for fearlessly standing up for and with the people in the pursuit of justice and genuine development, in spite of the state’s terrorism that they face every single day. We give them our full support as they tread the dangerous path of working with the people in defense of their land and life.

We denounce the culture of impunity that is the hallmark of the government's Oplan Bantay Laya. Touted as the Arroyo regime's “counter insurgency” weapon, it is intended to silence dissent, terrorize the people, trample on their civil rights and liberties and eliminate (or disappear) activists, community organizers and nationalists. The Arroyo regime, its military and agents must be made to stop these gross human rights violations and be held accountable for them.

Justice for Sr. Stella Matutia, OSB and environmental activists. Stop Military Persecution of Church People. NO to large-scale Mining and Militarization.

Filipino Catholics Observe Ash Wednesday

Catholic worshipers line up at a gym inside the Notre Dame School in Kidapawan City in the Mindanao province of North Cotabato on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 that signals the beginning of the Lent. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Geonarri Solmerano)

Ateneo de Zamboanga Presents "El Legiendo del Carne"

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 25, 2009) - Can you ever think of yourself as nothing more than just flesh to be fed on when time comes? When all hope is gone, will you be ready feed on your own flesh and blood to survive? Can you imagine yourself never knowing what love means?

These are but some of the many questions asked in Layeta Bucoy’s apocalyptic play “El Legiendo del Carne.” Set in the future, the play deals with the most complex human emotions in the most unnerving situations possible.

People are brought face to face with the consequences of their deeds in the past and are made to choose between surviving and living.

El Legiendo del Carne is a production of the Theater Production Class of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University Mass Communications Department and will be directed by instructor and celebrated director Marko Alfino “Kiko” Miranda.

The play, which is also part of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ celebration of the Arts Month, will run from February 26, 27 and 28 at 6 p.m. at the ADZU Brebeuf Gym at Ateneo de Zamboanga University in Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

Tickets are sold at the ADZU MassComm Office at the 3rd floor LRC Building at P30 each. For inquiries, please call 0905-3174689. (Amilbahar S. Mawallil & Sheri Gay P. Catague)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

IBON Survey: 7 Out Of 10 Filipinos Want Arroyo Removed As President

Anti-Arroyo protesters. (AKP Images)

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 24, 2009) - Majority of Filipinos do not want President Gloria Arroyo to remain as the country's chief executive, according to the latest results of the IBON nationwide survey.

Even as Arroyo announced Tuesday that the "world would not forgive another People Power", 66.7% of respondents believe that she should be removed as president, while 19% said she should stay.

Arroyo made the statement during a ceremony commemorating the People Power Revolution that deposed President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

The IBON January 2009 Survey was conducted on January 7-16 among 1,500 respondents across various sectors nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. Below is the tabulation of results of the respondents' perception on whether Arroyo should remain as the country's president.

In your opinion, should President Gloria Arroyo be removed as the country's president?
And the answers were: Yes - 66.67; No - 19.07; Don't Know - 13.40; No Answer - 0.87.

MILF, Militias Clashed In South RP

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 24, 2009) – Moro rebels clashed with pro-government militias in the restive region of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front said at least 2 militias were wounded in the fighting that broke out Monday in the village of Santa Clara in Sultan Kudarat’s Kalamansig town.

The fighting also forced civilians to flee their homes. It was unknown what triggered the clashes, but the two groups had been fighting in the past over huge track of lands Muslims claimed their ancestral domain. (Mindanao Examiner)

Western Mindanao State University Pursues Agri Project For Zamboanga Peninsula

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 24, 2009) - The Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) on Tuesday said it is vigorously pursuing an agriculture project with other stakeholders in an effort to sustain for security in Zamboanga Peninsula.

It said the project, dubbed “Enhancing the Demand for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Graduates Through Science and Technology,” has three phases –the Baseline Survey of Zamboanga Peninsula Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources (AFNR) Graduates; the Institutional Capability Enhancement; and the Support to Income Generating Projects and Diploma in Agriculture Technology – Bachelor of Education (DATBED).

Dr Grace Rebollos, WMSU President, said the project being implemented thru the College of Agriculture (CA) under Dean Teresita Narvaez, is in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development, the Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST); the Western Mindanao Agricultural Resource and Research Development Council (WESMARRDEC); and three other state colleges and universities (SUCs) in Western Mindanao.

WMSU was one of the four short-listed SUCs from a long list of over a hundred SUCs which vied for funding by the PCARRD-DOST last year, according to Dr Albert Aquino, Director for the Socio-Economic Research Development of the PCARRD-DOST.

Aquino said that in granting the funding to Western Mindanao SUCs with WMSU as the lead institution, PCARRD is optimistic in the competence and track record of the university’s project management.

He also praised a group of WMSU experts headed by Dr Teresita Narvaez, Dean, CA; Dr Chona Sarmiento, Dean, Research Development and Evaluation Center; and Dr Frede Moreno, Director, Policy Planning and Budget Office, who wrote the project proposal.

Other SUCs that are collaborating in the project are WMSU Dumingag; Jose Rizal Memorial State College (JRMSC) in Dapitan City; JRMSC in Tampilisan town in Zamboanga del Norte province and the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) in Zamboanga City.

The WESMARRDEC, through Dr Emilie Enriquez, the Consortium Director, was tasked to help monitor the progress of the project.

Representatives from WMSU and PCARRD-DOST held an inception meeting in Zamboanga City recently for the second and third phases of the project.

The PCARRD-DOST, led by Aquino, was impressed at the readiness of the university for the project after his team made an evaluation visit of the WMSU-College of Agriculture facilities in San Ramon campus.

Aquino was joined by teammates Dr Melvin Carlos, Project Manager for AFNR Programs 2 and 3; Tomas Cabagay, Assistant Project Manager; and Richard Caite.

Zamboanga Peninsula is composed of Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte provinces. (Evelyn Luceño)

Military threaten Filipino nuns

Filipino nuns. (CathNews)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (CathNews / Feb. 24, 2009) - A Filipino Benedictine nun has accused government soldiers of harassing herself and other environmental activists after they held a forum on mining and sustainable agriculture in a southern Mindanao village, according to a report by the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).

UCAN reported that Sr Stella Matutina said armed soldiers wearing camouflaged uniforms harassed her and two environmentalists after they organised a village forum on mining related issues.

"Armed men barged in and roused all of us at gunpoint," Sister Stella Matutina, 40, said in a recent press conference in the southern Davao City. "They demanded to see the documents and materials used during the forum."

The group, invited by local officials, had finished an "anti-mining forum" and talk on sustainable agriculture in Taytayan village on February 15. They were sleeping in a village hall when the incident allegedly took place.

The Sisters' Association in Mindanao condemned the incident. "The Armed Forces of the Philippines is sending out the chilling message that no religious can disrupt their plans of protecting the interests of logging, mining and big businesses," read their statement presented at the press conference.

Sr Matutina, together with Panalipdan, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples' organizations, has helped in documenting mining activities in Mindanao's Davao Oriental province, including those of the world's largest mining company BHP Billiton.

Panalipdan's Davao Oriental chairman Wenceslao Mapa and Councilor Maria Fe Matibo from the provincial capital of Mati joined Sister Matutina to conduct the forum.

However, masked gunmen wearing camouflaged military uniforms woke them up before 4 a.m. the next day.

Sr Matutina said the men introduced themselves as soldiers and told her she was not supposed to be there. The nun and the environmentalists were held for hours, until Mati diocese sent Father Edmundo Escobal to negotiate for their release.

Major Randolph Cabangbang, regional military spokesperson contacted by telephone, denied any harassment had taken place and described the incident as propaganda by groups linked to Maoist rebels.

He said soldiers went to the area "to check reports of suspicious looking and armed men."
"Our soldiers did not know the nun was there," he said. "What was she doing there? She was supposed to stay in the convent. What she did there wasn't related to her Church work."

At the news conference, Mapa told reporters the gunmen had pointed two rifles at him and he felt "traumatized." Matibo said she felt embarrassed about the way the nun and Mapa were treated.

Sister Matutina said the incident infuriated her, but she was most concerned about how soldiers would treat "ordinary people who cannot defend their rights."

Panalipdan reported it documented more than 100 applications for mining exploration permits submitted to the provincial government as of December 2008.

Davao Oriental gets 100 housing units for poor families

Governor Corazon Malanyaon of Davao Oriental province congratulates housing recipient Romeo Roberto during the turnover ceremonies in the village of Tubaon in Tarragona town. Looking on are Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang, Social Welfare Director Ester Versoza and Tarragona Mayor Samuel Uy. (Photo contributed by Carmela Duron)

DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 23, 2009) – Governor Corazon Malanyaon of Davao Oriental province lauded local officials and the housing recipients during the turnover and inaugural rites of the 100 shelter units in Tarragno town.
“Your cooperation and unity largely played a great role in making these housing units possible,” she said.
Malanyaon also urged the housing beneficiaries to prove that they deserve the project and encouraged them to be self-sufficient particularly with respect to food production. “Let us be competitive and let us strive to make our community and our province a major producer of main crops such as rice, corn, abaca, rubber and even cassava,” she said.

The ceremony held Wednesday in the village of Tubaon was also joined by Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang, of the First District of Davao Oriental, Social Welfare Director Ester Acebedo-Versoza and her assistant Priscilla Nidea-Razon, Tarragona Mayor Samuel Uy, Provincial Board Members Nestor Uy and Ronald Lara, among other personalities.

Tubaon village chieftain Romeo Roberto appealed to the recipients: “Magtinabangay kita alang sa uban pang mga proyekto ug aron samot mapalambo ang atong probinsya (Let us work together to pursue more projects for the improvement of our province).”

Neighborhood Association for Shelter Assistance (NASA) President Expedito Dampiganon expressed his gratitude to the proponents and supporters of the housing project.

Currently, the national government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development facilitated the construction of some 1,401 housing units throughout the Davao Region under the Core Shelter Assistance Program (CSAP).

The CSAP is granted to individuals or families left homeless by disasters. The project is a community development initiative utilizing the principles of community organizing, convergence of services and capability building. (Carmela Duron)

Spare Davao's Tamugan-Panugan River

A nursery basks under the Malagos sun as part of seed propagation efforts of the Davao City Water District. Since last year, at least 20 kilos of Dao and Mahogany seeds were collected inside the 235-hectare Malagos Watershed Reservation. Over the last several months, the DCWD has propagated over 12,000 seeds in the reservation alone, in line with its mandate to preserve nature and ensure the city's stable water supply. (Edmarson Sola)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 24, 2009) - Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials of the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts gathered here to sign a manifesto declaring the importance of water over electricity.

The officials declared that "We need water over electricity."

In a recent forum sponsored by the Watershed Management Coordinating Council, 81 out of 89 SK officials supported the campaign of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) to spare the Tamugan River from any commercial use that could compromise the future's reliable water supply for the city.

DCWD said it has launched a Tamugan Surface Water Development (TSWD) Project precisely for this purpose.

DCWD spokesperson Imelda Magsuci said that the TSWD Project is a "proactive measure in response to the city's looming water crisis."

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB ) identified Davao City as one of the "nine water-critical areas in the Philippines where water is consumed intensively."

Magsuci stressed that the Tamugan - Panigan river is the city's last resource of potable water that has the quality and the quantity that could supply the city's future demands.

In a study conducted by independent experts such as Cest Incorported showed only the Tamugan -Panigan river met the primary factors such as large flow rates and high quality.

The experts' findings further revealed the following: Lipadas River has superior quality but has a relatively small flow rate; Talomo River has a high risk on contamination and has a small quantity due to a hydropower plant; Davao River is highly turbid and has very high operational costs.

The SK officials' manifesto was issued following Magsuci's explanation about DCWD's objections to co-exist with a private corporation's power plant project along the Tamugan-Panigan River.

Aboitiz-owned Hedcor, Inc. has signified its intention to establish such a facility, and has been moving rapidly to lay its social and physical infrastructure in the contested area.

Magsuci explained that the river cannot afford to simultaneously meet the technical requirements of both utilities. "Aside from the technicalities we cannot compromise the environmental threats that would be caused by HEDCOR's proposed power plant," she added.

Magsuci also pointed out that according to the plan showed by Hedcor, it has to divert the natural terrain of the river in order to augment the flow rate of water needed to operate the hydro power plant. "The operations of Hedcor will affect the availability of water for DCWD," she added.

She said that based on other scientific and independent observations, Hedcor's plan to divert the natural terrain of the Tamugan-Panigan river "will dry up the Talomo River which is a recharge area for Dumoy – this is a source of ground water."

Unlike Hedcor which has the choice of relocating its hydro power plant to some other areas in Mindanao, Magsuci explained to the SK officials that DCWD is limited only within the territory of Davao City. (Edmarson Sola)

Proposal to revive RP's nuclear plant opposed

BATAAN, Philippines – Residents in Bataan province in Luzon opposed to the revival of the country’s nuclear plant held a protest outside the Saint Joseph Parish in the capital town of Balanga.

Members of the Network Opposed "NO" to Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Revival and the Ecowaste Coalition asked members of the House of Representatives not to support House Bill 4631 which calls for the revival of the mothballed nuclear plant.

Environmental and Civil society groups question the safety of nuclear power plants and instead call for the full implementation of the recently passed Renewable Energy Bill. (AKP Photo / Gigie Cruz)

Popular radio journalist gunned down on Mindanao island

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by today’s murder of Ernesto Rollin, a presenter on local radio DxSY-AM in Ozamiz City, in Misamis Occidental province (on the southern island of Mindanao).

He was the first journalist to be killed this year in the Philippines, but the 99th since the return to democracy in 1986.

Aged about 40, Rollin was gunned down at close range at about 5:30 a.m. in a service station in nearby Oroquieta City by two men in caps and ski masks aboard a motorcycle, who checked to see he was dead before they drove away. Rollin had been on his way to host his 7:30-9:00 a.m. programme.

“We firmly condemn the murder of Rollin, the latest victim of a culture of violence and impunity that has ravaged the media in the Philippines for too long,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The motive has not yet been established but the modus operandi indicates it was a contract killing ordered by Rollin’s enemies and carried out by professional hit-men.”

The killers clearly knew that Rollin was in the habit of parking his car in the service station before catching a bus. His companion, Ligaya, said she heard the shots before seeing Rollin lying face-down on the ground. She rushed to him and tried to lift him up, but one of the triggermen fired a last in the back of his neck. This was almost certainly the fatal shot, Ligaya said, adding: “I had not expected that Ernie would be targeted.”

According to his colleagues, including the Ozamiz City representative of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Rollin was well-known for being outspoken. In recent programmes he had covered a controversial decree concerning health workers and the use of cars by officials in Misamis Occidental province.

Under-secretary for justice Ricardo Blancaflor announced that police superintendent Leonilo Cabug had been put in charge of a special unit tasked with identifying and arresting the suspects. “As of this moment, elements of the task force headed by Leonilo Cabug are investigating the incident to determine the possible motive behind the killing,” Blancaflor said.

Rollin had been a journalist for the past 10 years or so. His outspoken comments on his prime-time current affairs programme on DxSY-AM had made him popular in the province.
Reporters Without Borders is outraged by today’s murder of Ernesto Rollin, a presenter on local radio DxSY-AM in Ozamiz City, in Misamis Occidental province (on the southern island of Mindanao).

He was the first journalist to be killed this year in the Philippines, but the 99th since the return to democracy in 1986.

Aged about 40, Rollin was gunned down at close range at about 5:30 a.m. in a service station in nearby Oroquieta City by two men in caps and ski masks aboard a motorcycle, who checked to see he was dead before they drove away. Rollin had been on his way to host his 7:30-9:00 a.m. programme.

“We firmly condemn the murder of Rollin, the latest victim of a culture of violence and impunity that has ravaged the media in the Philippines for too long,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The motive has not yet been established but the modus operandi indicates it was a contract killing ordered by Rollin’s enemies and carried out by professional hit-men.”

The killers clearly knew that Rollin was in the habit of parking his car in the service station before catching a bus. His companion, Ligaya, said she heard the shots before seeing Rollin lying face-down on the ground. She rushed to him and tried to lift him up, but one of the triggermen fired a last in the back of his neck. This was almost certainly the fatal shot, Ligaya said, adding: “I had not expected that Ernie would be targeted.”

According to his colleagues, including the Ozamiz City representative of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Rollin was well-known for being outspoken. In recent programmes he had covered a controversial decree concerning health workers and the use of cars by officials in Misamis Occidental province.

Under-secretary for justice Ricardo Blancaflor announced that police superintendent Leonilo Cabug had been put in charge of a special unit tasked with identifying and arresting the suspects. “As of this moment, elements of the task force headed by Leonilo Cabug are investigating the incident to determine the possible motive behind the killing,” Blancaflor said.

Rollin had been a journalist for the past 10 years or so. His outspoken comments on his prime-time current affairs programme on DxSY-AM had made him popular in the province.

Media Watch Dog Condemns Killing Of Broadcaster In Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The National Union of Journalists of the Philippine Zamboanga Basilan Sulu-Tawi-tawi Chapter is condemning another media killing which is the second case to occur in 2009.

Ernesto Rollin a radio broadcaster of DXSY Times Broadcasting Network in Ozamis City is the second journalist murdered this year and the 64th victim under the Arroyo's administration.

Rollin of Oroquieta city was on his way to report to Ozamis City for his morning's public affairs program at Times Broadcasting Network at 5:30 a.m. on February 23 when two suspects on ski-masks shot him several times.

The first victim for this year and the 63rd under Arroyo's administration was Badrodin Abas a block timer broadcaster of DxCM in Cotabato City.

Abas who was also the secretary general of the United Bangsamoro Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) was gunned down on January 21 around 7:40pm by two unidentified assailants riding on tandem on motorbike when the victim was driving a multicab.

The NUJP ZAMBASULTA Chapter is demanding fair and just investigation to both slay cases (Abas and Rollin).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Anti-kidnapping awareness launched in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 23, 2009) – With the spate of kidnappings-for-ransom in western Mindanao, the Social Awareness Community Service Involvement (SACSI) office of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University has launched a public awareness campaign for its students in Zamboanga City.

Brian Bango, Human Rights and Gender Task Force Program Officer, said the campaign is aimed at the safety of the students. “The importance of information dissemination must be stressed,” he said.

The campaign started off with posters pasted in several corners of the campus. The posters included information on kidnap-for-ransom and some safety tips. Along with the posters were brochures on “Making Sense of Kidnap for Ransom,” he said.

The brochure included the definition and history of kidnapping in the country that may be basic but truly helpful to clarify things better. The probable “why’s” or the probable reasons for having kidnapping rampant nowadays were mentioned.

More to it are the “Kidnapping Modus Operandi” or how the kidnappers take their targets and some measures to deter abduction.The tips also discouraged students from displaying cash or wearing expensive jewelries in public places.

A student forum on how to prevent abduction was also held recently in Zamboanga City.

“The campaign does not only make the students more vigilant as they are the most plausible targets of kidnap-for-ransom, but also makes them realize in what manner they have helped sustain a non kidnapping-free climate. It helps them not only to protect themselves but to also make them think of how they can best help even in their own simple ways how they can put kidnapping in the city to a stop,” Bango said.

He said, however, that the campaign is not a sure tool for preventing kidnapping-for-ransom. SACSI’s campaign is a follow-up of the previously released safety guidelines by the Office of Student Affairs of the university.

Last year, a nursing student of Ateneo de Zamboanga University was kidnapped and another last month. (Michelle Angela Araneta)

Homemade bomb explodes prematurely in southern Philippines

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 23, 2009) – A blasting rigged to a powerful improvised explosive went off prematurely Monday night in Kidapawan City in the southern Philippine province of North Cotabato, officials said.

Officials said there were no casualties in the explosion and soldiers recovered an 81-mm mortar bomb left at a public square near a row of commercial establishments. “The blasting cap exploded; however, the main charge, an 81-mm mortar, did not detonate,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the mortar was rigged to a cell phone designed to detonate the bomb.

Ponce blamed the foiled attacked to the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is fighting for self-determination the past three decades now.

“This terrorist act is perpetrated by the MILF to sow terror in central Mindanao,” he said without further elaborating.

It was unknown whether there were pieces of evidence that linked the MILF to the failed bombing. But the MILF blamed unnamed politicians as behind the failed bombing, saying, it was aimed to discredit the rebel group.

“Authorities should investigate this (foiled bombing) thoroughly because this could be a scenario perpetrated by politicians opposed to the peace process and the MILF,” Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said in a separate interview.

North Cotabato was among the provinces included in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which opposed the government’s Muslim homeland deal with the MILF in August last year.

The Supreme Court ruled the deal was illegal. The accord would have granted homeland to some four million Muslims across more than 700 villages in Mindanao. (With a repor from Geo Solmerano)