Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roadside bombing kills soldiers, 7 more wounded in South RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2010) – Communist rebels killed a government soldier and wounded seven more in a firefight in Davao City in the southern Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Officials said the soldier was killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Sibulan village in Toril District on Saturday. The soldiers were pursuing New People’s Army rebels when the bomb exploded.

“The death of our soldier only embolden the rest of the fighting troops to strive without let-up in bringing to justice those responsible in the attacks against the people,” said Army Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division.

He said troops had clashed with rebels three times earlier in the day after villagers tipped off the military about the presence of insurgents in the area.

“Our troops suffered casualties due to the improvised explosive device which the terrorist blew-up along the way. The use of IED by the NPA shows their treacherous method as a terrorist organization. It is an utter disregard to the safety of non-combatants to place IED along the way where ordinary people might get hurt as in many previous incidents in the region attest,” Garcia said.

The NPA is fighting for decades now for the establishment of a separate Maoist state in the country. Peace talks with manila had collapsed in 2004 after the NPA, the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Arroyo could use MILF peace talks to pursue changes in Constitution

Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers clean their weapons at a rebel base in the southern Philippines. The MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, says any peace deal with the Arroyo government is unlikely. Arroyo is to step down on June 30, 2010. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2010) – Filipino leader Gloria Arroyo may use the peace talks with Muslim rebels to amend the Constitution when she steps down and sits as member of the House of Representatives which is dominated by her political allies.

Arroyo is to step down in June 30 after ruling the country for nine years to yield the presidency to opposition senator, Benigno Aquino 3rd and take her new role as congresswoman of Pampanga province where she ran and won in the May 10 national elections.

Arroyo opened peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, but failed to sign a political deal that would end decades of bloody fighting in the restive region of Mindanao.

The MILF has been fighting for the establishment of a separate Muslim state in Mindanao, once ruled by the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

Manila said a peace deal with the MILF is unlikely before Arroyo steps down, but Arroyo insists she would pursue the peace process in Congress by introducing bills that could lead to the signing of a political accord with the rebel group.

But a rebel commander, Ibrahim, said Arroyo could use the MILF or the peace talks as a reason to amend the Constitution and change the government to parliamentary or introduce federalism similar to Malaysia. And eventually for Arroyo’s allies in Congress to elect her as prime minister and again rule the country to avoid or evade corruption charges anti-Arroyo politicians may file against her.

Arroyo, whose administration was rocked with corruption scandals, among others, was also accused of poll fraud by the opposition in the 2004 elections.

“The MILF signed no concrete agreements with Arroyo and even the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain), which is the future of the Bangsamoro people (Muslims), had failed despite draft agreements signed by the MILF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Ibrahim said.

“We fear that Arroyo and her allies in Congress will use the MILF and the peace process to amend the Constitution and eventually elect her to become Prime Minister and continue her reign of power and that of her political allies to evade possible corruption charges against them by the new administration of (Benigno) Aquino,” he said.

Ibrahim said the new president should pursue the peace process with the MILF to end the fighting in Mindanao. “Aquino should make the peace process in Mindanao his top priority. We will be waiting for his move to pursue the peace talks with the MILF. We are for peace,” he said.

He also expressed fear that Arroyo could order a military offensive against the MILF in Mindanao before she steps down to give her and her allies in Congress more reasons to amend the Constitution and change the form of government when the House of Representatives resumes its session.

“There are many scenarios waiting to happen and one of them is the military offensive versus the MILF in Mindanao and this will give Arroyo more reason to pursue changes in the Constitution in the guise of preserving the gains of the peace talks,” Ibrahim said.

Arroyo had openly campaign in the past to change the Constitution. And her allies in Congress were also proposing a shift to parliamentary government where Arroyo could be elected as Prime Minister. (Mindanao Examiner)

MILF, gagamiting dahilan sa pagbabago ng Konstitusyon

Isang Muslim ang naglalakad malapit sa nisang checkpoing ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front sa Mindanao na kung saan ay aktibo ang rebeldeng grupo. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

MAGUINDANAO - (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2010) – Posibleng gamitin umano ni Pangulong Gloria Arroyo sa pagbaba nito ang bagong posisyon bilang kongresista upang isulong ang pagbabago ng Konstitusyon at isankalan ang peace talks sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front bilang dahilan.

Ngunit ang layunin umano ni Arroyo ay upang mabuksan ang Konstitusyon at isulong ang Federalism o Parliamentary form of government at sa gayun ay mahirang itong Prime Minister ng mga alipores sa House of Representatives, ayon sa isang lider ng MILF na si Commander Ibrahim.

Ito umano ang hinala ng MILF matapos na sabihin ni Arroyo na pupursigihin nito ang peace talks sa rebeldeng grupo sa Congress at Maghahain pa umano ng mga batas upang matuloy ang kanyang agenda.

Ilang ulit ng binatikos ng MILF si Arroyo dahil sa halos 9 taon na peace talks na walang pinatungunahan. Sinabi ni Ibrahim na ginamit lamang ni Arroyo ang peace talks upang maiwasan ang labanan sa Mindanao sa kahabaan ng kanyang termino.

“Walang matibay na kasunduan at maging ang MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) ay walang napatunguhan. Nagamit lamang kami ni Arroyo, pero maghihintay pa rin kami sa susunod na administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino at kung ano ang agenda niya sa Mindanao,” ani Ibrahim.

Sinabi pa ni Ibrahim na hindi papayagan ng MILF na gamitin ni Arroyo ang peace talks upang amyendahan ang Konstitusyon at maging Prime Minister. “Ito lamang ang gagamitin dahilan ni Arroyo, ang MILF, upang maamyendahan ang Konstitusyon at mahalal na Prime Minister ng kanyang mga tuta sa Kongreso,” wika pa ni Ibrahim.

May pangamba rin ang MILF na magkaroon ng malaking labanan sa Mindanao bago bumaba sa kanyang puwesto si Arroyo upang bigyan ng sakit ng ulo si Aquino sa kanyang pag-upo. “Maraming maaaring maganap ngayon at gamitin kami bilang war agenda ni Arroyo at ng militar,” dagdag pa ni Ibrahim.

Ilang ulit na rin inilabas ng oposisyon ang plano ni Arroyo na maging Prime Minister kung kaya’t tumakbo ito sa Pampanga bilang kongresista at ang layunin lamang ay palawigin ang kanyang pamumuno at maiwasan ang mga kaliwa’t-kanan na kaso na posibleng ibato sa kanya ng administrasyon ni Aquino. Kabilang sa mga kaso ay ang ZTE scandal, fertilizer scam, korupsyon at iba pang mga anomalya. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lantaka Hotel Still The Best In Zamboanga City

Lantaka Hotel (By The Sea) is still the best in Zamboanga City – from its coffee and sandwiches to different cuisine it offers. Prices of food do not come cheap at Lantaka Hotel, but the quality of food and professional service of its attendants are very good. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Census and Poverty

A census worker puts a marker on a house in Kidapawan City in Mindanao. The Filipino government is currently taking census across the country to update its statistics. While a disabled man begs in the city’s busy road. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)

Davao City's Lispher Inn Still A Place To Stay

Lispher Inn: 13 Juna Avenue, Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City, Philippines 8000 Tel No.: (6382) 299-1610.

As usual, my recent stay at Lispher Inn was good. The hotel has put up additional rooms. The front desk is now a bit larger than it was. I stayed at the ground floor – one of the old rooms, but Wi-Fi access is good, although the room smells like an old cabinet.

The rate is P1,700 a day and free breakfast for two at the coffee shop.

I did not get fresh supply of shampoo and bath soaps, although the house keepers cleaned my room everyday and put new towel in the bathroom.

Outside my room, workers rush to finish the painting of the lobby. It was daytime so the smell of paint was strong.

The coffee shop now offers a variety of coffee mixes. Food is good and cheap. The food attendants are courteous, although some of them are clumsy. There is also not enough supply of daily newspapers, not even magazines at the coffee shop and also at the front desk. The food outlet closes at 10 p.m. which I think is still early, although room service is available.

The front desk people are like zombie. They are stoned-face workers who did not know the importance of being at the front desk. They don’t greet customers whether they come in or go out and seldom say thank you to those who leave their room keys or get back to get their keys.

They seldom smile and converse to customers about their hotel or the amenities Lispher Inn offers. The hotel owner should give these front desk people some training on public relations. From 1 to 10, I can rate the front desk people 3!

I have also noticed some photos which won in recent contest displayed at the lobby. It’s good, but the hotel could have put these winning photos in frames and display them at the lobby.

The day time bell boys are quick in their job. They know their jobs well. But some would not even open the hotel doors to customers, although the private guards once in a while open the doors for customers.

And the good news is that the hotel acquired a generator set and this means continuous supply of electricity, despite rotational power outages in Davao City.

Overall, my stay was good and I will return again in future trips to Davao City. As I previously said, Lispher Inn is my favorite – it is cheap and clean and near the NCCC Mall and SM.

And the exotic fruit Durian, which smells like hell, but taste like heaven, is cheap in Davao City, about P25-30 a kilo (Puyat variety) and there are many grill restaurants in Davao which offer roasted native chicken, stew and fresh seafoods and the roadside restaurants offer a variety of dishes cooked from goat meat such as papait, sinigang, caldereta, kilawin.

The Editor.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Northern Mindanao international airport now 65% complete

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2010) - The construction of the P7.853 billion (US$167.09 million) international-standard airport in Misamis Oriental's Laguindingan town breached the 65 percent completion rate on track to the target completion rate of 72.07% by the time the present administration’s term expires on June 30.

The airport dubbed Laguindingan International Airport is set for completion on the last month of next year and will operate on the first month of 2012.

Engineer Ryan Gico, engineer III, Laguindingan Airport Development Project Project Management Office, said that civil works and buildings construction is already 65% complete as of May 14.

“We have already reached, as of May 14, a 65 percent completion rate of the airport’s civil works,” he said, adding, other requirements for the full operation of airport such as access road was completed last January 2010.

“Land acquisition for the main airport area is 99.24 percent accomplished with 390.95 hectares already acquired,” he said.

The main airport, he said, requires 393.94 hectares of land.

According to Gico, the occupants of the land on the airport site have already been relocated to brand new houses. Each family were also given relocation fees.

He said 370 families have been relocated: 134 families at Phase 1 resettlement site in San Isidro village and 236 families at Phase 2 resettlement site in Tubajon village.

Gico said the Department of Transportation and Communication is now acquiring the needed navigation facilities/equipment component of the project.

Funds for their acquisition are provided by the Korean Export-Import Bank through a loan, he added.

The Laguindingan International Airport sits on a 4.17 square kilometer site in Laguindingan's Moog village. It is located 46 kilometers from the existing Lumbia Airport in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City.

Once completed, it will be the fourth International airport in Mindanao, after Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City; Zamboanga International Airport in Zamboanga City; and General Santos International Airport in General Santos City.

It will also have the distinction of being the first International airport in Northern Mindanao.

The Laguindingan International Airport is the flagship project of the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor Special Development Project, which covers both cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, as well as five coastal towns in Lanao del Norte and twenty-two towns of Misamis Oriental’s first and second congressional districts.

The airport will primarily replace the existing Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City and it also expected to replace Maria Cristina Airport in Iligan City.

A five-person team from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund appraisal mission on LADP-Air Navigation Aid System Supply Project recentl visited Northern Mindanao for a site survey and to conduct fact-finding activities for the sub-project.

The team visited the Lumbia Airport Control Tower in Cagayan de Oro City to appraise the air navigation system equipment there. (Bong Fabe)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Follow Accessibility Law, Building Owners In Northern Mindanao Told

MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 26, 2010) - Only half the number of government-owned buildings and structures in Northern Mindanao and only 25 percent of private buildings and other structures in the region have complied with the Accessibility Law more than two decades since its enactment in 1982, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways said.

Architect Raul Trinidad, of the Maintenance Division of the DPWH in Northern Mindanao, said that only 50% of all government buildings in the five provinces in the region have fully complied with Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 while the other 50% have partially complied.

Trinidad also said that 75% of private buildings in the five provinces have partially complied with the Accessibility Law. There are 275 private buildings all over Northern Mindanao which is composed of the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Camiguin and Lanao del Norte. Most of these buildings are in Cagayan de Oro City.

Some of these buildings that are 100% compliant with BPB344 are SM City Cagayan de Oro, Limketkai Center, Hotel Koresco, Polymedic Plaza and the food establishment Ice Castle.

Architect Richard Tan, district director of the United Architects of the Philippines in Cagayan de Oro, said there is a lack of awareness in the general public about the Accessibility Law, which is why his group is always conducting an updating with its members because they are the ones who design buildings and structures.

“We can’t do anything about the old buildings, but 90 percent of the designs of new buildings are fully compliant with the Accessibility Law,” he said.

Tan also stressed that it is very important to integrate into the construction of new buildings, whether private or public, what is specified in the Accessibility Law and Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities (R.A. 7277) because it will help draw more tourists and therefore more revenue not only for the establishment but for the community.

According to the National Council on Disability Affairs, some of the salient features of a differently-abled or friendly structures or buildings are toilets with grab bars, doors with grab handles, low-installed faucets for wheelchair-bound persons, leveling of curbs at sidewalks, guidance system for blind persons, non-skid flooring, hand showers in bathrooms and movable ramps and lifts.

Dr. Enrique Ampo, chief of the Handicapped’s Anchor is Christ, Inc. and concurrent
director of the City Federation of Persons with Disability Association, said that there really is a lack of awareness in the general public about the Accessibility Law and Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities.

Wheelchair-bound Ampo, a dentist by profession, said that PWDs are basically still being treated outcasts by the general public. He said that when he was at Clark in Angeles City for a seminar, he checked-in to a well-known hotel only to be told that rooms for PWDs are full.

He later learned that occupying PWD rooms are able-bodied guests who prefer to
stay in rooms for PWDs because it is spacious. He also narrated that he asked for a discount after eating in a restaurant only to be told they cannot give him any discount.

He argued that PWDs like him have privileges in the law, but the manager flatly rejected Ampo’s reasoning. Fortunately, the restaurant owner explained that “the manager did not know about the law” and apologized to Ampo.

The law specifically gives 20% discount to PWDs in restaurants; 20% off the prices of medicines; and 5% off shelf prices of groceries.

Mayor-elect Dexter Yasay stressed the key role of the media in raising the awareness
of the public about the laws pertaining to the PWDs.

Joseph Rabanes, vice president of the Opol Federation of Differently-Abled Persons, urged PWDs or DAP not to hide because of their disabilities but to also contribute to society by using their talents and abilities.

Rabanes also urged citizens to stop giving alms to PWDs because “it will only make them lazier and they will not work anymore but depend on the alms of the people.”

“They will now depend on the alms of other people and become lazy. Once they become lazy, they will have no inclination to help themselves anymore,” he said.

Instead of giving alms, Rabanes said that it would be better for able-bodied persons to teach PWDs or DAP the skills that they can use to earn income. (Bong Fabe)

‘Whiners who cry fraud deserve to lose’ - Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Losing candidates who cry fraud and claim to have received offers to cheat in the May 10 automated polls “do not deserve to be elected” for not reporting the cases immediately, according to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s former election lawyer.

Romulo Macalintal, who defended Ms Arroyo against fraud allegations in the 2004 elections, Tuesday described as “impossible” stories of fraud attempts now coming out in Congress.

He scolded the complainants for their “sins of omission” for reporting the cases only after they lost.

“You really deserve to lose the elections if that’s what you did. You do not deserve to be elected. You do not have the right to say that you are looking after the welfare of our nation,” Macalintal said.

“Because if you have concern for our country, that would have been what you did—have them arrested,” he said.

Macalintal did not identify the losers, but those crying fraud and alleging offers from poll cheats included Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers, Laguna Gov. Teresita Lazaro, Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor and Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison.


ParaƱaque Rep. Roilo Golez Tuesday said not all statements of fraud allegations coming out in the House hearing were substantial.

Golez, who won his reelection bid, said during the hearing that he was concerned that the formal inquiry had been beset with statements of hearsay rather than of personal knowledge.

He cited the statements of lawyer Homobono Adaza that he had talked to a person who told him about a supposed offer to rig the elections for P1 billion.

Golez said he preferred that the stories be told in their entirety and not left hanging. Anybody who says somebody told him something should name the person, he added.

“If a story could not be completed, it should not be started at all,” he said.


But Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said it was not hearsay for Adaza to say that he had talked to a person and to ask that that person be summoned to the House hearing.

Macalintal said candidates alleging offers of machine-switching or electronic vote manipulation might well have been victims of scams by syndicates pretending to have the means and connections to cheat in their favor for hefty fees.

“It’s a good thing they did not pay up. If there were some who did, they are stupid. They were just duped,” Macalintal told reporters at a Church-organized forum in Intramuros, Manila.

“I do not believe that there was such switching of PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines or of memory cards. Could you imagine the phenomenon of doing that in every precinct? There could be a pandemonium of sorts. It is impossible that those syndicates could have done that,” he said.

The candidates should have arranged entrapment operations to catch the syndicates, Macalintal said. That would have been “the best opportunity” for them to do good for the nation, he added.

“But what did they do? They go to Congress and when asked who came to them, they’ll say, ‘I don’t know, I already forgot the number.’ My God, this is a very, very important matter and then you lose the number?” he said.

IT experts

Macalintal also decried IT (information technology) experts coming forward with their own theories about how PCOS machines and memory cards could have been cheated.

During the same forum, one such expert, Roberto Verzola of Halalang Marangal, claimed that the discrepancies in transmitted data and election returns spotted last week by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) indicated that there was a “malicious code” in the PCOS machines that automatically shaves or pads votes for certain candidates.

The PPCRV, however, said the discrepancies were too small to cause concern. Results from 29 precincts of more than 43,000 precincts showed differences in transmitted and printed results.

Can’t be proven

“These types of alleged cheating cannot be proven by anyone who calls himself an IT expert. No IT expert could prove the alleged fraud in this election,” Macalintal said, adding that experts had no evidence to back their claims.

Macalintal said that proving fraud could only be done through a manual ballot count, though he saw no basis to conduct one yet as the validation of election results had yet to uncover major discrepancies. (Tarra Quismundo. With a report from Leila Salaverria)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brigada Eskwela launched in Kidapawan City

Brigada Eskwela launched in Kidapawan City in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 25, 2010) – The Department of Education’ City Division of Kidapawan launched the “Schools Maintenance Week” dubbed as “Brigada Eskwela” in preparation for the opening of classes next month.

The Brigada Eskwela was spearheaded by Omar Obas, the Assistant Schools Division Superintendent, as a venue for the school, the community and stakeholders hand-in-hand in the preparation for opening of the classes.

He said Brigada Eskwela is an annual activity which began in 2005 where the community renders services to help the Department of Education in preparing for the coming school year. (Mary Nina Rodriguez)

Top NPA leader in deadly attacks captured in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 25, 2010) – Philippine security forces captured a senior communist rebel leader tagged as behind deadly attacks in the restive southern region of Mindanao.

Security officials said Renelo Creita had been captured on May 22 in Davao del Norte’s Santo Tomas town. His arrest was made public only on Tuesday because of continued operations aimed at capturing other rebels.

The 41-year old rebel leader allegedly admitted leading New People’s Army attacks in Compostela Valley province that left dozens of people dead and wounded since last year.

Army Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said Creita was also behind the ambush of poll inspectors in Compostela Valley’s Maragusan town on May 11 that left five people dead and a dozen soldiers wounded.

“Creita is behind the spate of terror attacks against innocent people in Compostela Valley province. He is facing a string of criminal charges,” Garcia said.

He said Creita was arrested at a military road block and that soldiers recovered a .45-caliber pistol and a hand grenade from the rebel leader. Creita did not resist arrest, he said.

Garcia gave no other details about the arrest.

There was no immediate statement from the New People’s Army about Creita’s arrest. The rebels are fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

3 soldiers killed, 5 wounded in rebel attacks in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 25, 2010) – Three government soldiers were killed and five more wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in the southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said the fighting broke out in the village of Maputi in Davao Oriental’s Banaybanay town where New People’s Army rebels also attacked government road project on Monday.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the soldiers were guarding the road project when rebels attacked them. “We value the sacrifice of our troops from the 28th Infantry Battalion securing the Mati-Tagum road project who fought back in order to protect the interest of the people,” he said.

He said the rebels fled after the attacks, commandeering three dump trucks and using its drivers as shield from pursuing troops. He said the rebels freed one of the drivers, but held on to the others to help them carry their dead and wounded.

Garcia said the rebel attack was triggered by the failure of the construction firm, Maverick, to pay illegal taxes to the New People’s Army, which has been waging a secessionist war for many decades now.

“Such brutality is intended to sow fear and panic among our people and coerce them to support their large-scale extortion syndicate and prohibit our citizens from cooperating with authorities. Their increased level of attacks not only to soldiers, but against non-combatants is a ploy to force helpless people to bow down to their oppressive anti-people and anti development policy particularly in the countryside which reveals that they are not fighting for any ideology at all,” Garcia said.

But a rebel spokesman, Simon Santiago, said the attack was aimed at a military patrol base in the village. He said rebels raided the patrol base and seized at least 11 high-powered weapons, including machineguns and grenade launchers.

“A composite team of the New People's Army's 3rd Pulang Bagani Company and Front 18 Operations Command in Southern Mindanao raided the 28th Infantry Battalion patrol base. Three were instantly killed and four were wounded on the enemy side, while two surrendered and were freed by the Red fighters,” he said.

The rebel attacks came a day after the military deployed hundreds of soldiers in Davao Oriental province to augment thousands of troops battling communist insurgency in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Maguindanao governor to work hard for province

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 24, 2010) – Newly elected Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife and sister were among 57 people brutally killed last year in the province, said he would not exact revenge to those accused in the mass murders, but called on authorities to pursue the cases against more than 100 people linked to the slayings.

Police and military have linked the patriarch and senior members of the influential Ampatuan clan to the grisly murders.

“I am very lucky because the sympathy of the people and the almighty God is with me now, I am stronger than ever. It is time to work with the people and give them all for the good of the province,” Mangudadatu told reporters.

Mangudadatu said he plans erect a memorial marker in Maguindanao to pay tribute to all those killed, including at least 32 journalists, who were accompanying the convoy of the politician’s wife when attacked in November 23 by more than 100 gunmen allegedly led by Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

“I want to give tribute to the 57 people – heroes - who shed their lives in order to bring peace not only in Maguindanao but to the whole country. The November 23 had awakened the Filipino people and the whole nation, to the abuses of those who wield power and influence and money over those who had nothing but the truth,” Mangudadatu said.

The Department of Justice has released P55 million to the families of those killed through the Mangudadatu Foundation. (Becky de Asis)

Filipinos demand Congress to ratify Freedom of Information Bill

Members of Right to Know Right Now! Mindanao stage a picket at Freedom Park in Davao City in the southern Philippines on Monday, May 24, 2010 demanding the 14th Congress to ratify the Freedom of Information Bill. (Photo by Erwin Quinones)

More troops deployed in Mindanao to fight insurgents

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 24, 2010) – The Philippine Army deployed more troops in the restive region of Mindanao to contain the growing communist insurgency and attacks on security forces and innocent civilians, a military spokesman said Monday.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, of the 10th Infantry Division, said one battalion of soldiers arrived in Tagum City in Davao Oriental province over the weekend to augment thousands of troops fighting the New People’s Army rebels.

He said more soldiers from the Special Forces and Scout Ranger are expected to arrive in the coming weeks to help defeat the rebel group blamed for deadly attacks in recent weeks in the provinces of Davao and Compostela Valley, a stronghold of the New People’s Army which has been waging a secessionist war for many decades now.

“Davao region has been peaceful in the recent elections until peace is destroyed by the New People's Army in Maragusan massacre; abductions have been committed largely by this terror group. They have been planting bombs on the roads and bridges and recently they ambushed soldiers near a populated place in Toril (District) in Davao City which put the lives of civilians in great danger.”

“We cannot go on like this; we cannot let such despicable acts go on unpunished. The Armed Forces of the Philippines vowed to the clamor of the people to bring these terrorists to justice. It is therefore paramount that the people will be informed that additional troops will be deployed in the region to pursue the terrorists,” Garcia said.

He said just last week, three soldiers were killed in an ambush by rebels in the village of Barakatan in Davao City.

“The ambush showed the treachery and utter disregard of the New People’s Army to human lives, particularly civilians, who might have been hit by bullets as there are houses a few hundred meters away from the soldiers,” Garcia said.

He said at least a dozen people had been killed in rebel attacks the past six months in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

The New People’s Army is also holding three government soldiers Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala and a militiaman Victor Pitogo who were taken prisoners in the town of Mawab in Compostela Valley on May 12. They are being investigated on charges of human rights violations and counter-revolutionary campaign. (Mindanao Examiner)

Silsilah inaugurates Center for Holistic Health Care in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 24, 2010) – The Silsilah Dialogue Movement inaugurated the Center for Holistic Health Care and the Silsilah Dialogue Institute Conference Hall on May 20, 2010 in Harmony village in Pitogo in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

The inauguration also coincided with the launching of the Silsilah Alumni Special Year.

The Center for Holistic Health Care is the result of reflection over time on how to implement an initiative which is aligned with a pillar of dialogue, dialogue with creation, and which will promote a holistic, preventive approach to basic health care.

The Center for Holistic Health Care is the fruit of that reflection, according to Father Sebastiano D’ Ambra, the Silsilah founder.

The inauguration of the Center for Holistic Health Care was graced by the presence of distinguished guests like Doctor Aristedes Tan, the regional director of the Department of Health in Western Mindanao; Doctor Rodelin Agbulos, of the Zamboanga City Health Office; Father Antonio Moreno, the president of Ateneo de Zamboanga University; and members of the Center for Holistic Health Care Board of Volunteer Consultants, among others.

"I am living this great experience of dialogue in the same way I experienced the beginning of the movement. I hope the hope and spirit become bigger as these are what make Silsilah a real movement. For the next years to come, I would like to see Silsilah moving outside Zamboanga by means of many dialogue approaches," Father D’ Ambra said.

"One of such approach would be strengthening the effort in the different Silsilah Forum areas around the Philippines. After 25 years, the dialogue experience has become a reality not only to Silsilah but to other institutions who have understood the spiritual dimension of the essence of dialogue and peace. In the past, religion has been the occasion of conflict; instead religion must be an opportunity for reconciliation giving more attention to the centrality of God in the life of humanity," the Silsilah founder said.

The Center for Holistic Health Care promotes a holistic, preventive approach to basic health care. It seeks to promote healthy diet and the healing properties of herbs and other naturally occurring plants. This philosophy of health is promoted largely through training and health services.

The Center for Holistic Health Care is an expression of care in building a culture of dialogue, path to peace in the society in line with the vision and mission of Silsilah that promotes a style of life guided by the spirituality of life-in-dialogue with God, with self, with other and with creation according to each one’s own religion.

The Center for Holistic Health Care also plans to build linkages with various government agencies and with similar holistic health care centers in the Philippines and other countries. (Jung Francisco and Ramon Deles)

Church, Journalists Celebrate Press Freedom Week in Mindanao

Monsignor Rey Monsanto together with some Cagayan de Oro City journalists light candles at the foot of the Press Freedom Monument as part of the Eucharistic Celebration Monday, May 23, 2010 signaling the start of the city's celebration of Press Freedom Week. (Photo by Bong Fabe)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 24, 2010) - As the local press community celebrates the 28th Press Freedom Week, the canon lawyer of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro urged journalists to always seek and peddle the truth.

Monsignor Rey Monsanto, also president of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines, said media persons are very influential and thus must be responsible in using this influence for the good of the future generation. “Journalism is very important and reporters are very important because you record the present. But as you record the present you record them for the future because that is precisely what it is, you record them for the future,” he said in his homily during the Monday morning Eucharistic Celebration in Cagayan de Oro City.

This city started celebrating its own Press Freedom Week in 1982 when then Mayor Aquilino Pimentel Jr issued Executive Order 241 declaring every last week of May as Press Freedom Week. That year’s celebration put this city into the annals of journalism as the first city in the entire Philippines to celebrate Press Freedom Week.

Twenty-six years later, in 2008, the Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental passed a resolution declaring the last week of May as Provincial Press Freedom Week.

Spearheaded by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC), this year’s 28th Press Freedom Week celebration carries the theme “Ang Kamatuoran Naglada og Paglaum Padulong sa Katumanan (Truth Ushers in Hope Towards Fulfillment).”

“If you want fulfillment in your work, if you want fulfillment for society, if you want fulfillment for humanity, then actively seek the truth whatever it may cost,” Monsanto urged the media.

The Eucharistic Celebration was also held in honor of fallen journalists who died in the fulfillment of this sacred duty of journalists. “We hope that they did not die in vain,” Monsanto said, adding: “We know that they did not die in vain if they died for the truth, if they died for what is right.”

According to Monsanto, a confessed journalist by heart, the primary duty of journalists is to “peddle the truth.”

“When we work for the truth, we are actually serving God because God is truth. When we peddle the truth, we are actually following Jesus, praising God in society. In short, we are glorifying God,” he stressed.

“For journalist, there is no other way to give that glory to God but to tell the truth,” he added.

Sadly, because of the state of the press in some communities today, journalists are forced to succumb to temptation of “yellow journalism” and engage in unethical behavior and tell lies for monetary consideration. To those who fell to such temptation, Monsanto simply said: “Be careful about that” as there is no fulfillment in such practices.

He stressed that it is only in serving God “by peddling the truth” that journalists can best serve humanity. “And that is where fulfillment is all

“We will never have fulfillment in life until we live in truth. As long as we live with a lie in our life, our dreams will never be fulfilled,” he said. “Only the truth will set us free and only the truth will usher in the hope of fulfillment.” (Bong Fabe)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pinoy sailors sent home $888M in 1Q

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino sailors on foreign ocean-going vessels wired home a total of $888.949 million in the first quarter, up 11.04 percent or $88.414 million from the $800.535 million they remitted over the same three-month period in 2009, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported Sunday.

TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said the 11.04 percent growth in the money sent home by sailors was nearly double the 5.96 percent increase in the cash remitted by land-based migrant Filipino workers in the first quarter.

"We remain bullish overall about the potential growth in remittances from Filipino sailors in the months ahead," said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

"However, we are also deeply worried about Greece's lingering debt crisis, which could depress economic conditions as well as shipping activity in Europe," added Herrera, whose labor center includes the Philippine Seafarers' Union.

Of the 10 biggest sources of remittances from Filipino sailors, six are European countries, Herrera pointed out.

The top 10 sources of Filipino sailors' remittances are the United States, Japan, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Greece, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Cyprus, according to Herrera.

Remittances from Filipino sailors based in Greece were still up 18 percent in the first quarter to $34.7 million versus $29.3 million a year ago.

However, Herrera also noted that remittances from Filipino sailors based in Norway, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden were actually down an average of 20.81 percent.

Last week, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that total remittances from all migrant Filipino workers, whether based on land or at sea, reached $4.339 billion in the first quarter, up 6.96 percent from $4.057 billion over the same period in 2009.

In 2009, Filipino sailors sent home a record $3.4 billion, up $366 million or 12.06 percent from $3.034 billion in 2008. Remittances from Filipino sailors have more than doubled since 2005, when they sent home only $1.669 billion.

Quezon City Fire Victims Cry Foul

Fire victims stay on side streets during a conflagration in Quezon City's San Roque distrcit, particularly in the village of Bagong Pag-asa, at around midnight Saturday, May 22, 2010. Residents say the fire was deliberately set after a failed demolition of illegal houses in the area. (AKP Images - Buck Pago)

DepEd neKhaeZahwsaHw saH Jejemon pEhNnohmEYhna!

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 23, 2010) – Pinakikialaman ng Department of Education ang binansagang “Jejemon” texting style ng mga teenagers sa kabila ng mas maraming suliranin na hinaharap ng ahensya sa pagbubukas ng klase sa susunod na linggo.

Naging tanyag ang “Jejemon” texting dahil sa ibang spelling ng mga SMS nito na pinauso ng mga teenagers.

Hindi naman mabatid kung ano ang pakialam ng Department of Education sa naturang texting style ng mga kabataan ngayon, ngunit dapat umanong pagtuunan ng ahensya ang kakulangan ng mga libro, upuan, at kuwarto at paaralan sa buong bansa, partikular sa Mindanao.

Sinabi ni Department of Education Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya na dapat ituwid umano ng mga “Jejemon” texters ang kanilang mga SMS upang mas madaling maintindihan ng mga bumabasa ng kanilang mensahe sa cell phone.

“They should be able to send communication in a manner that is comprehensible…the Department of Education has to make a stand. The teachers should teach students the right way to communicate,” ani Malaya.

Isang halimbawa ng “Jejemon” texting ay: “'e0wSsZz pOwhhZzmUsZtAhH nUah pOwhHzz kEowHsz?” na kung iintindihin lamang ay ang ibig sabihin: “Hello po, musta na po kayo?”

Isang “Jejemon” texter ang nagsabing dapat napuna rin ng Department of Education ang kanta ng Sex Bomb Dancers na “Bilog na Hugis Itlog” dahil kahit saan angulo tignan ang hugis ng itlog ay hindi ito bilog kundi oblong.

“Ang dami pong problema namin mga estudyante tulad ng libro, desk at silya, silid-aralan, pero ang pagte-text ba namin ng Jejemon ay panghihimasukan pa ng DepEd? Yun nga pong kanta ng Sex Bomb (Dancers) na Bilog na Hugis Itlog ay mali po, bakit hindi nila pinansin? Bilog po ba ang hugis ng itlog?,” tanong pa ni Jejemon Rhea. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dagdag tropa ikakalat sa Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 23, 2010) – Nagdagdag ng malaking bilang ng mga sundalo ang militar sa Mindanao para sa isang malaking opensiba laban sa New People's Army na siyang nasa likod ng maraming atake sa ibat-ibang bahagi ng magulong rehiyon sa katimugan.

Sinabi ni Army Captain Emmanuel Garcia, spokesman ng 10th Infantry Division, na dumating kahapon ang 71st Infantry Battalion at ikakalat ang mga ito sa Davao Oriental at isa pang battalion ng Special Forces at Scout Ranger ang nakatakdang dumating sa Mindanao upang tugisin ang mga rebeldeng komunista.

"Davao region has been peaceful in the recent elections until peace is destroyed by the New People's Army in Maragusan massacre, abductions have been committed largely by this terror group. They have been planting bombs on the roads and bridges and recently they ambushed soldiers near a populated place in Toril (District) in Davao City which put the lives of civilians in great danger."

"We cannot go on like this, we cannot let such despicable acts go on unpunished. The Armed Forces of the Philippines vowed to the clamor of the people to bring these terrorists to justice. It is therefore paramount that the people will be informed that additional troops will be deployed in the region to pursue the terrorists," pahayag ni Garcia sa Mindanao Examiner.

Nuong Sabado lamang ay 3 sundalo ang napatay ng NPA sa ambush sa Barangay Barakatan sa Toril District sa Davao City.

“The ambush showed the treachery and utter disregard of the New People’s Army to human lives, particularly civilians, who might have been hit by bullets as there are houses a few hundred meters away from the soldiers,” dagdag pa ni Garcia.

At sa loob lamang ng 6 buwan ay pitong katao ang nasawei at 12 iba pa ang sugatan sa atake ng NPA sa bayan ng Maragusan sa Compostela Valley at bayan ng Boston sa Davao Oriental.

Walang pahayag ang NPA ukol sa mga bintang ng militar, ngunit bihag pa rin nito sina Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala at militiaman Victor Pitogo matapos na madakip sa bayan ng Mawab sa Compostela Valley nuong Mayo12 habang nasa isang birthday party. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aspiring photogs finish workshop in Davao City

Professional photographer Rene Lumawag conducts photojournalism workshop in Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City in Mindanao. Assisting him is Keith Bacongco. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 22, 2010) - Aspiring photographers and photojournalists finished a seminar and workshop in photography in Davao City in Mindanao.

Seasoned photojournalist and professional photographer Rene Lumawag conducted the workshop. Lumawag, known in the media community as Tatang Rene or Tatay, has been contributing photographs to various wire agencies, local and national newspapers.

He retired in 2008 but was later hired by a local daily newspaper as photo consultant and lifestyle photographer. At 65, Lumawag still has the passion to help mold young photographers who wanted to be photojournalists.

Lumawag was assisted by Keith Bacongco. Both have a Diploma on Photojournalism at the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. (Geo Solmerano)

3 Soldiers Killed In NPA Ambush In Davao City

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 22, 2010) – Communist rebels ambushed Saturday a group of government soldiers, killing three infantrymen and wounding another in Davao City in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The attack occurred in the village of Barakatan in Toril District where New People’s Army opened fire on soldiers and government militias, said Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division.

He said there were no reports of civilian casualties. “The ambush showed the treachery and utter disregard of the New People’s Army to human lives, particularly civilians, who might have been hit by bullets as there are houses a few hundred meters away from the soldiers,” Garcia said.

He said troops fought back and forcing the rebels to retreat. It was unknown whether there were casualties on the rebel side.

Garcia said rebel forces also killed 7 people and wounded at least a dozen other in separate attacks the past 6 months in Maragusan town in Compostela Valley and Boston town in Davao Oriental provinces.

There was no immediate statement from the rebel group about the attack, but it is still holding three soldiers and a government militia in Compostela Valley’s Mawab town.

The prisoners, Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala and militiaman Victor Pitogo, were seized by rebels on May 12 while at a birthday party in the village of Sawangan.

The rebel group said the four prisoners are safe and well, but warned that an ongoing military rescue operation could endanger the lives of the hostages.

The New People’s Army is the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a secessionist war for decades now. (Mindanao Examiner)

Journalist injured in attempt on his life

MANILA, Philippines - Police have yet to arrest the gunman and accomplice in the attempted killing of a Kalinga-based radio broadcaster in Tabuk City in Kalinga province, on May 15.

Tabuk City is approximately 317 kilometers north of Manila.

The alleged gunman chased Jerome Tabanganay, radio anchor for the government-run DzRK Radyo ng Bayan-Kalinga, inside the radio station compound and shot him four times in the legs. Initial police investigations said the incident was work-related.

Tabanganay said the gunman, who was waiting inside the radio compound, approached him as he arrived for his morning program at around 6:45 a.m. (local time) and asked for his name. Sensing danger, he ran inside the radio station, but the gunman chased and shot him, hitting his knee and the back of his right leg. The wounded Tabanganay was able to reach his radio booth, and cried for help.

The gunman escaped on board a motorcycle outside the station driven by another unidentified man. Another of the station's employees took Tabanganay to the hospital where he is currently recuperating.

Although Tabuk City Police say the crime is work-related, they are not disregarding other possible motives for the attack on Tabanganay.

In a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) on May 17, PO3 Benjamin Cawilan said that Tabanganay's work as a commentator in his radio program might have been related to the incident. In his news commentary program "Agenda", which airs daily from seven to nine in the morning and at 12 noon, he discusses topics related to his advocacy on good governance and reads messages from listeners about local issues such as corruption and crime.

Tabanganay told CMFR in another phone interview, also on May 17, that he had been receiving death threats through text messages that say, "I will kill you", and other similar warnings prior to the incident. He speculates that his commentaries might have hurt certain political figures in the province.

However, Tabanganay also mentioned that a local candidate who lost an election had accused him of being biased towards his rival. He said this might also have been a possible motive for his attacker. Tabanganay opted not to disclose the name of the candidate as he is waiting for the outcome of the police investigation and has yet to file a complaint.

Elections have always been a dangerous time for Filipino journalists. On November 23, 2009, a local politician, who is a member of a political clan in Maguindanao, allegedly led a hundred men in killing 57 persons including 32 journalists and media workers who were part of the convoy led by his rival politician's wife to file his Certificate of Candidacy at the regional Commission on Elections office. The attack, known as the "Ampatuan Massacre", was the worst attack on journalists and media workers in recent history. (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility - International Freedom of Expression and Exchange)


ABS-CBN reporter harassed by policemen in Oriental Mindoro: The Manila Times

MANILA, Philippines - A Manila-based ABS-CBN radio reporter was harassed and threatened by members of the local police in Pola, Oriental Mindoro Thursday night on account of taking unsolicited video footage and political partisanship issue.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Press Corps President Noel Alamar of DzMM said that his camera was snatched by Pola Chief Inspector Telesforo Domingo, together with his men, clad in civilian clothes and sporting high-powered firearms around 9:30 on Thursday night.

Alamar told Camp Crame reporters in a teleconference on Friday that he was tipped by townmates in Pola of political leaning among the Pola police, which violates the order of Chief PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa about remaining a political days before the May 10 elections. Verzosa also gave directions not to follow illegal orders from politicians.

After checking the veracity of the tip, Alamar was surprised when Chief Insp. Domingo visited him early on Thursday at their ancestral house as they were commemorating the first death anniversary of his mother.

Apparently drunk, Chief Insp. Domingo asked him, “Sino ka ba?” [“Who are you?”]

The radio reporter immediately informed Mimaropa Regional Police Director, Chief Superintendent Paul MascariƱas and Oriental Mindoro Police Chief, Senior Superintendent Sonny Ricablanca what transpired, and they agreed to look into the complaint against Domingo.

Later on Thursday, Alamar went to the house of Pola Mayor-elect Panganiban. There, the DzMM reporter saw a mobile patrol vehicle parked in front of the house of Mayor-elect Panganiban at Barangay Zone 2 around 9:30 in the evening.

Chief Insp. Domingo was at the front seat and Alamar noticed that he and two other policemen in the vehicle were carrying guns while wearing only civilian clothes—a clear violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

Alamar took out his camera to videotape and document what he saw, but Chief Insp. Domingo spotted him and reportedly threatened to shoot him after snatching his camera.

Furthermore, Chief Insp. Domingo ordered his men to arrest Alamar for “obstruction of Justice” and also ordered his men to open fire at the civilians trying to protect the reporter.

Alamar voluntarily gave up resistance and entered the police vehicle but Pola residents took him out and
brought him inside the house of Mayor-elect Panganiban.

Additional police were sent in the area and barricaded the house but hundreds of people prevented them from arresting the Manila-based ABS-CBN reporter by forming human barricades.

Cooler heads intervened led by outgoing Mayor Alex Aranas and other policemen from the provincial mobile group, including Provincial Dir. Sr. Supt. Ricablanca, who ordered a full investigation of the incident.

In 2008, Chief Insp. Domingo was sacked as the town police chief of Victoria, also in Oriental Mindoro, after figuring in the shooting of a man in Mabini town in Batangas.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina told Crame reporters in an interview that PNP Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa has ordered the removal of Domingo pending investigations. (Sammy Martin and Roselle Aquino)


Friday, May 21, 2010

Operations launch to rescue 3 soldiers held by rebels in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 21, 2010) – New People’s Army rebels on Friday warned that continuing military operation to rescue 3 soldiers and a government militia could endanger the lives of the prisoners.

The four – Army Corporals Marcial Bawagan, Ariel Asumo, Eduardo Alcala and militiaman Victor Pitogo – were seized by rebels on May 12 while at a birthday party in the village of Sawangan in Compostela Valley’s Mawab town.

Anvil Guinto, a rebel spokesman, said the prisoners are facing various charges from human rights violations to counter-revolutionary operations aimed at defeating the New People’s Army in the province.

He said the military launched rescue operations to free the hostages, but it was unknown if troops clashed with rebels.

Guinto said the prisoners are safe and well. “Their rights are respected under the protocols of war and international humanitarian laws, and the inherent rules of discipline strictly adhered to by the NPA,” he said.

“The rescue operations-cum-offensive military operations of the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command-Armed Forces of the Philippines to retrieve the detained AFP and paramilitary personnel will only achieve two things: First, it will only prolong the on-going investigation and custodial detention of Corporals Bawagan, Asumo and Alcala and Pitogo. And second, more and more civilians will only become victims of human rights violations in villages subjected to offensive combat operations of the desperate 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command-Armed Forces of the Philippines reeling from defeats due to the active resistance of the people and the revolutionary movement,” Guinto said.

Army Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said the local community is seeking the help of the Catholic Church to intervene in behalf of the victims after one of the soldier’s wife, Jenny Bawagan, consulted with Father Christopher Segura, the village parish priest, who appealed to the rebels to free the prisoners.

The New People’s Army is the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines which is waging a secessionist war for decades now. (Mindanao Examiner)