Sunday, July 31, 2011

Philippine Maoist rebels own up attack on army convoy

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2011) – New People’s Army rebels have claimed responsibility Sunday for deadly attack on a military convoy that killed four soldiers in the southern Philippines.

Dencio Madrigal, a spokesman for the Maoist group, said the attack was in retaliation to military operations on rebel strongholds in Davao del Sur province.

Rebels detonated explosives that hit the convoy of the 39th Infantry Battalion in the town of Malita.

“The Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command claims responsibility for the tactical offensive against a military convoy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the 1002nd Brigade in the village of Tikulon, Malita, Davao del Sur on July 29 which resulted in the death of four 39th Infantry Battalion contingents and the wounding of several others,” he said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

He said government offensives against rebel forces in the province is aimed at driving away the NPA and allowing foreign mining companies to operate in Davao del Sur, particularly in areas occupied by indigenous tribes.

“This tactical offensive using command detonated explosives was mounted in defense of the NDF territories in Malita, Davao del Sur which have been under continuous attack by the government troopers in order to clear the area for foreign, large-scale mining interests,” Madrigal said.

“This military operation, which has been going on for months now, is a requisite for ensuring the mining company’s free and easy access into the vast ancestral domain of the B’laan and Kaolo tribes,” he added.

The NPA has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Although there is an ongoing peace talks between rebels and the government, both sides have not signed any cease-fire agreement and sporadic fighting still continue in many parts of the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Fun run raises P200T for Philippine landslide victims

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2011) – Some 1,200 Filipino participated Sunday in a fun run aimed at raising money to help build shelters for victims of a landslide in the southern town of Kapalong, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said the event, dubbed as “Run for Shelter,” was organized by the local government and the military, and raised more than P200,000 needed to build shelters for some 376 families.

The local mayor Edgardo Timbol has provided a four-hectare estate in the village of Maniki which will serve as the relocation site for the June victims of the landslide.

Army soldiers also pledged to help build houses for the victims. “We fully support the local government in this humanitarian activity. We plan to provide additional manpower in building of houses so that more families, victims of landslide, can move in to this new community provided by the government,” said First Lieutenant Ronel Rabot, of the 60th Infantry Battalion. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aquino govt. unveils fresh aid, development package to Sulu

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan gesture as he briefs Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, Mindanao Development Authority head Lualhati Antonino and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo about a housing project in the province. The Aquino government unveils fresh package of aid and development project worth tens of millions of pesos for Sulu province. (Mindanao Examiner Photo).

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2011) – The Aquino government unveiled a package of fresh development aid worth tens of millions of pesos to the southern Filipino province of Sulu, which is one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

Four senior Aquino officials flew to Sulu over the weekend to unveil the projects aimed at helping the provincial government develop key areas and uplift the living standards of poor families there.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo who was among those who visited Sulu said the putting up of the regional police headquarters in the province. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan has provided a building to house the police headquarters.
He also said that construction of a new police station for the capital town of Jolo.

Also with Robredo were Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and Mindanao Development Authority chief Lualhati Antonino.

Soliman brought some 2,200 bags or about 110 tons of rice for distribution to Sulu’s 19 towns. And Deles launched the so-called “Pamana” program or the “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan,” a new government anti-poverty and peace program.

Deles also announced the funding for a road project in Kalingalang Kaluang town and an integrated market in the town of Maimbung where Tan led the officials in a ground-breaking ceremony witnessed by thousands of people who welcomed them.

“These are just some of the development projects we have for the people of Sulu and these projects all come from President Benigno Aquino. And we are happy that Governor Sakur Tan is pursuing a lot of projects for Sulu,” Deles said.

Tan said more housing projects are also underway in many towns as part of his anti-poverty programs in partnership with the Gawad Kalinga foundation and the Aquino government. Tan funded hundreds of houses for the poor in Sulu the past years and is a strong advocate of peace and development in the South.
He also gave a copy of Sulu’s Provincial Development and Framework Plan to the visiting officials.

Antonino, a former lawmaker, praised Tan for his leadership and pledged more projects for Sulu. “I promised you Governor Tan that I will bring to the President and report all these things, these projects that you have undertaken in Sulu,” she said during a program held a public plaza in Maimbung town.

Tan also toured Aquino’s officials in different areas in Sulu and showed them various development and humanitarian projects in Maimbung, Talipao, Jolo and Patikul towns.

Early this year, the Department of Agriculture and the Sulu provincial government have jointly funded the construction of a fish port and cold storage facility in Maimbung town. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine ferry sinks, passengers rescued

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2011) – A Philippine ferry sank off Iloilo province on Sunday and authorities said more than 140 people had been rescued from the ill-fated vessel.

The ferry, MV Trans Asia Malaysia, left Cebu province on Saturday and was on its way to Iloilo when huge waves and strong winds battered and tilted the vessel which eventually sank.

The Coast Guard said fishing vessels and other boats, including a tanker, passing near the ferry helped in rescuing the passengers. Most of the passengers were brought to the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

In 2009, an overload Trans Asia ferry, the MV South Korea, also sank off Bantayan Island in Cebu after hitting a huge rock and 54 passengers were killed. The ferry, which had a capacity of 600, was carrying more than 800 passengers, authorities said. (Mindanao Examiner)

2 wounded in NPA clash in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 31, 2011) – A Filipino woman was wounded in a cross-fire after government soldiers and communist rebels clashed in the southern city of Panabo, officials said Sunday.

Officials said New People’s Army rebels attacked a military patrol in the village of Dalisay, sparking a 30-minute gun battle that left a soldier and a 60-year old woman wounded.

There were no reports of military and rebel casualties, but security forces continue to hunt NPA fighters blamed for the spate of ambushes and attacks on government and civilian targets.

“The troops returned fire and successfully defended their positions prompting the NPA to withdraw after about 30 minutes. The incident left one soldier and a 60-year-old woman wounded from shrapnel. The wounded elderly was brought to Rivera Hospital in Panabo City while the soldier was treated inside the camp,” said Army Captain Benjie Arciaga, of the 69th Infantry Battalion.

He said the Friday attack could be in retaliation to the capture this week of a major NPA training in Davao City near Panabo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Troops pursue Sayyafs on eve of Ramadan

Security forces mounted fresh operations on Saturday, July 30, 2011 - the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - against Abu Sayyaf militants who killed and decapitated 7 soldiers and wounded 21 more in the southern Filipino island of Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 30, 2011) – Security forces mounted fresh operations on Saturday - the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - against Abu Sayyaf militants who killed and decapitated 7 soldiers and wounded 21 more in the southern Filipino island of Sulu, officials said.

Officials said the operations are aimed at flushing out militants tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya in the island where fighting broke out on Friday that also killed 13 Abu Sayyaf fighters.

Troops also recovered on Saturday the head of one marine in Patikul town, the same area where some 70 militants clashed with security forces. The bodies of soldiers were airlifted to Manila where weeping families waited for the wooden caskets of those who perished in the military offensive codenamed “Wild Finger.”

The operations are aimed at capturing or killing two of Abu Sayyaf most notorious leaders Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon and suspected Jemaah Islamiya militants hiding on the island.

President Benigno Aquino condemned the killings of the soldiers and said pursuit operations will continue against the Abu Sayyaf.

“I condemn these atrocities that are meant to put pressure on the peace process - to derail our efforts to counteract the causes of banditry, rebellion, and terrorism. Let me be very clear: those who want neither peace nor progress are the ones who perpetrated this dastardly act. Mark my words: to those of you, who perpetrated this atrocity, know that you are now number one on my radar. It might take some time, but make no mistake about it: you will be brought to justice to answer for your crimes.”

“I will be letting them know that pursuit operations will go on, and we will not stop until all those involved are captured,” he said on Saturday.

There were no reports of fresh fighting, but the military said it would cut major offensive beginning on Sunday – the first day of the Muslim fasting month – however, law enforcement operations – a military slang for small combat mission - would still continue without let-up, said Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer, who visited troops on the island on Saturday.

“There will be no major offensive against the Abu Sayyaf because of the Ramadan, but our law enforcement operations will continue in Sulu,” he told the the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. (Mindanao Examiner)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Short Film - Sulu

Short Film - Sulu.

Short Film: SULU
Director: Al Jacinto | Producer: Al Jacinto
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2007 | Story Teller's Country: Philippines
Tags: Asia, Conflict, Philippines, Politics, Social Development, War

Synopsis: Born of a Filipino Muslim mother, young story writer Arthur Sakaluran Abasalo decides to visit Sulu province in southern Philippines despite the perceived strife and presence of Muslim rebels and Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

In Sulu, he meets a former Muslim rebel-turned policeman who tells him about his life story and how he got separated from his family for more than a decade. He returns to Sulu to start a new life after being reunited with his family. Arthur returns to Manila after a short stay in Sulu, bringing with him memorable stories and truths about the island feared by many as a dangerous place to go.

Military casualties in Sayyaf clash arrive in Zamboanga

Some of the wounded soldiers evacuated to Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 29, 2011) – The Philippine military evacuated to Zamboanga City government soldiers who were wounded and killed in fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern province of Sulu, officials said.

More than a dozen soldiers were wounded in Thursday fighting in Patikul town where the military recovered the bodies of 5 marines who went missing. A total of 7 soldiers were killed in the clash with about 70 militants under Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon. Some of those slain were decapitated.

Philippine troops have recovered the bodies of five soldiers who went missing during Thursday’s clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern province of Sulu, said Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman.

He said the fighting broke out at around 4:30 a.m. after security forces attacked a lair of the Abu Sayyaf which is believed to be holding a kidnapped Indian and a Malaysian national, and two Filipino fishermen.

It was not immediately known whether the offensive codenamed “Wild Finger” was part of an operation to rescue the foreigners. But Cabangbang said they received reports that the Abu Sayyaf is holding several hostages. "We have reports that the two fishermen are being as held by the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul," he said.

He said more than a dozen Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in the fighting, but there were no reports whether their leaders had been killed or wounded.

The Abu Sayyaf is said to be harboring members of the Indonesian and Malaysian terrorists from Jemaah Islamiya and Kampulan Malaysia and Filipino authorities have previously reported that among those being protected by the militants were Zulkifli bin Hir, Mauiya and Quayem.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed by Philippine authorities to the spate of terrorism in the volatile southern region, where security forces are battling Muslim and communist insurgencies the past four decades. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine Army accused of torturing civilian

Photos taken by a nongovernmental organization in Basilan province show torture victim Abdul Khan Ajid.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 29, 2011) – The Philippine military on Friday ordered an investigation into the reported torture of a Muslim man who was arrested by soldiers in the southern province of Basilan, officials said.

Army rangers were accused of torturing Abdul Khan Ajid into admitting he is member of the militant group Abu Sayyaf. Military interrogators allegedly poured gasoline on the man’s face and body and private parts and lit him up. A small gas bottle was also inserted in his anus, his sister Haniba Musaddam said.

“We are now investigating this report of torture. I have ordered the Western Mindanao Command human rights officers to submit a report of their investigation in three days,” Army Colonel Domingo Tutaan, the head of the human rights office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Anybody involved in this torture regardless of their ranks, units and position will be dealt severely if they are found guilty. We will look into their culpability and the actions we are going to take against them depend on the outcome of the investigation. There will be due process in this investigation,” he said.

Ajid’s family denied all accusations against him. They are seeking justice for the 39-year old baker now languishing in jail despite his critical condition due to third degree burns he suffered from the torture.

“We need immediate help to save the life of my brother whose condition is now critical due to his burns. We need to bring him to the hospital. We are appealing to President Aquino to help my brother and give us justice,” Musaddam said.

Troops arrested Ajid on July 23 in his house in the village called Libug in Sumisip town and detained him at an army base in Isabela City where he was tortured for four days.

Ajid was handed over to prison officials after his family filed a petition to a local court for writ of amparo, a remedy for the protection of constitutional rights of citizens.

The victim’s family said the soldiers had mistaken Ajid for Kanneh Malikil, who was the subject of a local arrest warrant. Soldiers were also spotted near the family’s house and were believed to be spying on them.

The Commission on Human Rights in Zamboanga City said it is also investigating the torture and would send a team on Saturday to Basilan to look into the condition of Ajid.

In February, a video uploaded on the social networking site Facebook showed soldiers in Basilan beating up four men whose faces were covered and hands tied behind their back.

The video was believed taken by one of the soldiers from his cell phone and showed about a dozen marines at a coconut farm taking turns in punching and kicking the still unidentified men as they lay helpless on the ground.

Some of the victims were crying and begging the soldiers to stop the beatings, but it continued more with some of them threatening to execute the four men. It was unknown whether the men were civilians or rebels, but security officials who watched the clip said the video was probably taken between 2008 and 2009.

It was not immediately known when the video was taken and whether the four men had been killed by the soldiers. The clip ran for almost 2 minutes and can be accessed on this URL

Two soldiers also kicked one of the men on the face after he was told to stand up, but he could hardly walk because of the beatings. “Walk, you animal, walk,” one soldier shouted at the man, whose face was covered with a hood just like the others.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also ordered an investigation into the torture, but has not release any finding since then. (Midnanao Examiner)

Indigenous peoples visit TVI mining site in Zamboanga del Norte province

From left, Barangay Captain Edgar Rusiana of Pangandaw hopes that the progess and development in Canatuan should likewise happen in his barangay; Patagan Barangay Captain Abraham Magawa says he is impressed with the services of the company clinic. Subanon chieftain Timuoy Sotero Catipay expresses his thanks to TVIRD for giving his fellow Subanons in Canatuan progress and development through responsible mining.

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines - Barangay Captain (village chief) Edgardo Rusiana is a native Subanon from Pangandaw, a farming village in Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Recently, with 35 other tribal and village leaders from Pangandaw and neighboring Patagan village, he went to visit Canatuan in Siocon town, site of the Copper-Zinc mine operated by TVI Resource Development (Phils.) Inc. (TVIRD).

Their mission: to witness for themselves the operations and socio-economic developments introduced by the mining company in the ancestral domain of their fellow Subanons.

They were not disappointed. “I thought all the while that large-scale mining destroys the environment but that’s not what I saw in Canatuan,” Rusiana said. “This company even protects the environment and at the same time provides development to the community. I can’t wait for TVIRD to come over and operate in our place.”

The village chief cannot help but compare how good life has been for the Subanons in the mining community they visited -- a far cry from the hardships his people have to endure back in Pangandaw. “Life is hard in our place; our people barely survive through coconut and corn farming. I am happy to see the progress of my fellow Subanons here as they are being taken care of by the company. They, too, take care of the environment while mining the area. I would like the same thing to happen in our barangay,” he added.

The majority of indigenous people residing in barangays Pangandaw and Patagan had given their consent for TVI Minerals Processing, Inc. (TVIMPI) to conduct exploration activities in their areas. TVIMPI, an affiliate of TVIRD, has a pending application for Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) with the Philippine government. Aside from Pangandaw and Patagan, this application covers 39 other villages in the municipalities of Katipunan, Roxas, Manukan, Jose Dalman and Sergio Osmeña all in Zamboanga del Norte.

The Subanon visitors began their day-long tour at the company medical clinic where they were apprised of the services the clinic extends to the community. They, too, experienced some of the services first-hand as a number of them took turns to have their blood pressures checked even as while others were given medicines and vitamins.

They learned from Dr. Jayson del Cruz, the company physician on duty, that aside from taking care of the health of employees and their dependents, the clinic likewise serves the health needs of neighboring communities with patients coming from as far as Siocon town proper, Baliguian and Sirawai in Zamboanga del Norte and RT Lim and Tungawan in adjacent Zamboanga Sibugay province.

Aside from the basic medical, dental, laboratory, lying-in and emergency room services it provides, the TVIRD clinic is also a partner of the government in the implementation of health programs and initiatives such as immunization and pre-natal checkup for pregnant mothers. This prompted Barangay Captain Abaraham Magawa of Patagan village to say that the company “works even better than the government in this particular case.”

At the open pit, Mine Manager Pete Remoto explained the mining process being employed in the Canatuan facility. The sight of heavy equipment milling around the 30-hectare mine area prompted a visitor to ask if the company plans to plant trees after the area has been mined.

Remoto replied that planting trees is just one of the sworn obligations of the company after the mine life. “Our Environment Department will be left behind after we decommission the mine. Their duty is to reforest and rehabilitate the area,” he explained.

The group then proceeded to the reforested area south of the mine site. There, they were further enlightened by saw Remoto had just pointed out. In the 11-hectare expanse of what was once a ‘waste dump’ area are arrays of growing mahogany and acacia mangium seedlings that in a few years will become fully grown trees and transform the area into a forest.

Gemma Dandana Tolentino, the company forester and a Subana, herself, explained that they have prepared an additional 73,000 seedlings of various tree species for the progressive reforestation and rehabilitation of the area.

The visitors saw more trees at the nursery of TVIRD’s Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO). “We have prepared around 32,000 rubber tree seedlings and 15,000 seedlings of fruit trees for distribution to our host communities in the Subanon ancestral land,” said Carlos Tuerco, CReDO’s senior agriculturist. “This initiative is part of the company’s sustainable agriculture program for residents of Canatuan and neighboring areas.

The group likewise went to the Sulphide Dam where mine tailings are impounded. They admired the beauty of the dam, which one visitor described as resembling a serene lake amidst a backdrop of lush forest.

They were visibly awed when told that the company spent some 700 Million Pesos to build the structure. Ed Nercuit, TVIRD Canatuan Civil Engineering Services department manager and a native of Siocon, explained that the dam was built following international standards. “We constructed this dam for the sole purpose of ensuring that no waste from our mining operation will pollute the rivers and water tributaries downstream.”

After the tour, Subanon Timuay Sotero Catipay expressed his admiration for everything he has seen. Now, he knows what responsible mining is and what it can contribute to the community. “The Subanon people here are very happy because of the development that the company has brought to them,” he said. “Now, I know that TVI will take care of my land and provide for my community’s development.”

During the exit conference, TVIRD Canatuan General Manager Ely Valmores assured the visiting indigenous people that that, as in Canatuan, where many of the company’s employees are Subanons, the residents of Pangandaw and Patagan will be given employment priority once the company begins operating in those areas.

Before this mine tour, the provincial office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) supervised the consensus building among Subanons in the areas covered by TVIMPI’s application. While a number of indigenous communities like Pangandaw and Patagan had given their consent, the NCIP has recently issued a suspension on the processing of Certification Precondition, which is an integral part of the ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’ (FPIC) process.

The Certification is a requirement of the Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA) before any project in an ancestral domain is given government approval. The suspension order was released following complaints by several Subanons in the area who were threatened and harassed by a group identified with a Cebu-based syndicate of businessmen and former military personnel which is said be interested to mine in the same area being eyed by TVIMPI.

The mine visit of the Subanons from Manukan gave fresh hope that, like their fellow Subanons in Canatuan, they can also benefit from a brighter future that responsible mining can bring. The visitors now believe that the promise of a better life is no longer impossible.

“We were right all along when we gave our nod of approval (to TVI),” Rusiana said. “We are now hopeful that our approval will usher in a secure future for us.”

Today in Philippine History July 29

On July 29, 2005, Forbes Magazine listed then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the "fourth Most Powerful Woman" in the world, with United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice topping the list and beating out presidents, celebrities and businesswomen.

Also in the list were Chinese Communist Party leader Wu Yi (#2), newcomer Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (#3), and eBay chief executive Margaret Whitman (#5).

Likewise included in the list were TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey (#9), Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates (#10); imprisoned Myanmar leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi (#15), U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (#26), British author JK Rowling (#40), and U.S. First Lady Laura Bush.

Philippine News Agency

Did Van Gogh die from cutting off his ear?

Did Van Gogh die from cutting off his ear? No. Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter who cut off his own earlobe in 1888, died on this date in 1890, two days after shooting himself in the chest with a pistol.

The postimpressionist painter suffered from depression and epileptoid seizures; to try to overcome the depression, he left home and moved to Arles, France. He was joined there for a time by Paul Gauguin.

Though he was a prolific artist — he completed nearly 900 paintings, over 1,000 drawings, and 150 watercolors, plus letter sketches and graphic designs — Van Gogh succeeded in selling only one painting in his lifetime.

Since his death, his paintings have been sold for many millions of dollars, including the Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which went for $82.5 million in 1990.

Quote: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." — Vincent Van Gogh

Troops recover bodies of missing soldiers in Philippine clash

Nurses attend to some of the wounded soldiers at a military hospital in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 28, 2011) – Philippine troops have recovered the bodies of five soldiers who went missing during Thursday’s clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern province of Sulu, officials said.

Officials said a total of 7 soldiers had died and 21 more were wounded in the fighting that erupted in Patikul town. “We have recovered the bodies of the five soldiers who were missing-in-action in Sulu,” Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.

Twelve of the wounded soldiers who were marines had been evacuated to a military hospital in Zamboanga City late Thursday. And the bodies of slain soldiers are expected to arrive on Friday from Sulu. There were reports that those killed had been decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf.

He said the fighting broke out at around 4:30 a.m. after security forces attacked a lair of the Abu Sayyaf which is believed to be holding a kidnapped Indian and a Malaysian national.

At least 70 gunmen were involved in the fighting.

It was not immediately known whether the offensive codenamed “Wild Finger” was part of an operation to rescue the foreigners.

There was no immediate reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties, but another security official said the target of the offensive were Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the militant group who are believed to be harboring members of the Indonesian and Malaysian terrorists from Jemaah Islamiya and Kampulan Malaysia.

Filipino authorities have previously said that among those being protected by the Abu Sayyaf were Zulkifli bin Hir, Mauiya and Quayem.

Umar Patek, a suspect in the deadly 2002 Bali bombing, was previously hiding out in Sulu with the Abu Sayyaf before his capture in Pakistan in March. And also Dulmatin, who was tagged as among those behind the Bali bombing that killed 202 mostly tourists, was killed by security forces in Indonesia after fleeing Philippine military offensive in Sulu province.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed by Philippine authorities to the spate of terrorism in the volatile southern region, where security forces are battling Muslim and communist insurgencies the past four decades. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lutong Pinoy Culinary Show

Lutong Pinoy

Mindanao Examiner TV Channel 54 Zamboanga City

Basilan Beloved

Music by Tranquilino Gregorio
Video by Mindanao Examiner
Editing by Mindanao Examiner

Filipino Catholics want Butuan Bishop out

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 28, 2011) – A Catholic bishop who asked an expensive car from then President Gloria Arroyo as his birthday gift is now the subject of a petition by Christian devotees in the southern Philippines, reports said Thursday.

The Catholic-run Cathnews Philippines reported that members of the Knights of Columbus and officials of Class 1961 of Father Saturnino Urios University were asking the transfer of Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of the Diocese of Butuan City.

The report can be accessed on this URL:

It said the petitioners also planned a rally to dramatize their protest to the continued stay of Pueblos, but did not push through. Instead they would send a letter and a copy of the petition asking the Vatican and the new Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto to transfer Pueblos.

“There were plans to hold a mass protest rally for the transfer and ouster of Bishop Pueblos, but it was cut short because the Class ’61 leadership fear it cannot sustain many participants of the rally. And so, they decided to just write the papal nuncio of the Philippines and probably copy the Vatican requesting the transfer of Bishop Pueblos,” said Elmo Montilla, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus.

The Catholic news agency said Montilla belongs to influential clans of Butuan City, whose members include prominent politicians, businessmen and local government officials.

Pueblos was among many bishops and priests who were provided funds by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in 2009 for various health and medical programs for the poor. But most of those who received the funding used the money to buy vehicles which they claimed were used in community outreach missions.

Cathnews said that in 2009, Pueblos wrote Arroyo asking for a sport utility vehicle as his birthday gift which he will use in his community works and health projects under the so-called Caraga Conference for Peace and Development.

Pueblos used the money to purchase an expensive Mitsubishi Montero, but he and six other bishops were forced to return their vehicles after new PCSO officials discovered the donations made to the Church which is critical to the government’s gambling operations.

Cathnews said: “Attempts to get comments from Bishop Pueblos by phone and by a visit to his home in Ampayon village were unsuccessful.”

There were also reports that many Church leaders have invested hundreds of millions of pesos in various business and mining corporations in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

Who is the Gershwin Prize named for?

Who is the Gershwin Prize named for? The Gershwin Prize is named for the two brothers who wrote some of America's most famous tunes, composer George and lyricist Ira Gershwin.

Together they wrote songs like "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," and "An American in Paris," and the operetta Porgy and Bess. Ira Gershwin continued writing songs for many years after his brother's death. The Gershwin Prize is given to a composer or performer for his lifetime contribution to the world of music.

This year's recipient is Paul McCartney, who was feted at an all-star concert that will be televised tonight on PBS. President Barack Obama presented McCartney with the award at the White House ceremony last month.

Quote: "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise." — George Gershwin

Philippines mounts fresh offensive vs. Sayyafs, JI

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 28, 2011) – Two government soldiers were killed and 21 others wounded in fierce clashes Thursday with Abu Sayyaf militants tied with Al-Qaeda in the southern Filipino province of Sulu, officials told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said a military officer and four other soldiers were reported missing in the fighting that broke out in the town of Patikul at around 4:30 a.m. after security forces mounted fresh offensive against the militants believed to be holding a kidnapped Indian and a Malaysian national.

It was not immediately known whether the offensive codenamed “Wild Finger” was part of an operation to rescue the foreigners. Filipino troops, aided by US military intelligence, were fighting some 70 Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

There was no immediate reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties, but a security official said the target of the offensive were Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the militant group who are believed to be harboring members of the Indonesian and Malaysian terrorists from Jemaah Islamiya and Kampulan Malaysia.

Filipino authorities have previously said that among those being protected by the Abu Sayyaf were Zulkifli bin Hir, Mauiya and Quayem.

Umar Patek, a suspect in the deadly 2002 Bali bombing, was previously hiding out in Sulu with the Abu Sayyaf before his capture in Pakistan in March. And also Dulmatin, who was tagged as among those behind the Bali bombing that killed 202 mostly tourists, was killed by security forces in Indonesia after fleeing Philippine military offensive in Sulu province.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means “bearer of the sword,” has been blamed by Philippine authorities to the spate of terrorism in the volatile southern region, where security forces are battling Muslim and communist insurgencies the past four decades. (Mindanao Examiner)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bandits swap abducted villagers for jailed wife in Zamboanga Sibugay

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examimer / July 27, 2011) – A bandit leader, whose wife was arrested by the police for carrying illegal weapons, seized five people in Zamboanga Sibugay province in the southern Philippines and demanded authorities for a prisoner swap.

Police said the gunmen led by Munib Aukasa originally seized six people on Tuesday in the village of Tigbanuang in Tungawan town, but freed one of them Kennymarie Dalagan, 24, to bring his demand to local authorities.

The remaing hostages were later released after police freed Aukasa’s wife for a still unknown reason.

The woman was earlier arrested after police searched their house and found an unlicensed shot gun owned by the bandit leader.

Police identified those freed as Merlinda Luchavez, 5; Mae Jane Luchavez, 15; Enriqueta Perjes, 45; Anabelle Luchavez, 31; and Bader Luchavez, 26. (Mindanao Examiner)

Aquino sets new tone for good governance, clean government

President Benigno Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 27, 2011) - President Benigno Aquino III has set a new tone aimed at promoting good governance and curbing corruption after almost one year of doing serious house cleaning, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Karen Davila on ANC’s “Headstart,” Ochoa said President Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) adequately laid the groundwork for realizing the goals of a “clean government.”

“(President Aquino) fully emphasized that there’s no other way for this country to go but to have a good government, a clean government. He demonstrated his strong resolve and his firmness in really adhering to his principles in cleaning up the government,” Ochoa said, sharing his perspective on the SONA.

“Because to him (Aquino), he’s trying to convey to us the real meaning of what public service is. And public service is public trust, so therefore he wants to encourage everybody to believe again in our government,” the Executive Secretary added.

Ochoa said the administration believes that if it can establish a clean government and good governance, “everything else will follow.”

“Like for instance in our economic development and goals, there are policies that are polluted or so corrupted before. They got and get in the way of progress so marami tayong economic development programs that can only be achieved kung ang mga nagpapatakbo nito is not motivated by any other personal agenda,” he said.

Ochoa also defended the President for not including the controversial responsible parenthood (RH) and freedom of information (FOI) bills, Hacienda Luisita and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects in his SONA.

He said the RH bill was excluded in the speech because there are still ongoing discussions on the proposed measure and “the President would want to reconcile his views with that of the Catholic Church.”

Ochoa, however, clarified that the Aquino is not softening his stand on the RH bill. The President has been very consistent in his support of responsible parenthood, which is the essence of the RH bill.

“Hindi naman ibig sabihin softening. He (Aquino) is just opening the doors for negotiations para hindi maging adversarial ‘yung issue na ito,” Ochoa said.

As regards the FOI bill, Ochoa said there are provisions in the measure that still need to be clarified. He added that the President has some reservations on the potentials for misuse and abuse of the proposed legislation.

“I think there are still a lot of discussions going on about it because there are issues and provisions that I think the President would want to be cleared about,” Ochoa said.

He said Aquino has to balance these provisions “with his own concerns about the certain or potential abuses that might be resulting from the (proposed) Freedom of Information Act.”

On Hacienda Luisita, Ochoa said the land dispute has been a subject of court case and it would be proper for the President to let the court decide on the matter.

“Hacienda Luisita is in the court. So whatever he says is subjudice. And of course it is a no-win situation for him because he’s personally connected (with the case). Whatever he says there will be taken as if he’s taking sides. There will be a conflict of interest,” Ochoa said.

Although he admitted that there was an apparent slowdown in the implementation of PPP projects because of some investors were initially hesitant to embrace the program, Ochoa said this flagship program of the Aquino administration is now ready to go full swing.

Ochoa said it was only natural for investors to be hesitant during a transition period and given the reputation of the previous administration among foreign investors.

“The foreign investments are still there. In fact, they are giving up for our PPP programs. Nagkaroon ng konting adjustments sa policies on how to go about it, but I understand from our economic managers that we will be bidding out most of our PPP programs that we have initiated in the past year,” he said.

He said the different departments involved in PPP are now ready to bid out some of the projects.

Today in Philippine History July 27

On July 27, 1914, Ka (Brother) Felix Manalo founded Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), largest homegrown Christian Church in the Philippines, in Punta Sta. Ana, Manila.

Brother Manalo, whom followers and members recognized as God’s messenger, professed to the reestablishment of the original church founded by Jesus and claimed that the original church was apostatized.

The INC began with a handful of followers with Manalo as its head minister propagated his message within his local area, subsequently growing its INC members and converting members of other religions.

As membership increased, he delegated others to spread the teachings of the INC and it eventually spread throughout the Philippines and to other countries.

After Felix Manalo's death in 1963, his son Erano took over duties as executive minister and Eduardo V. Manalo was the deputy executive minister.

By 1988, INC has grown to about 2,635 congregations called locales, in which 220 of them cover 67 countries outside the Philippines.

According to various sources, including the 1997 Britannica Book of the Year, INC had a worldwide population of over one million members by the early 1980s.

2000 census of the Philippine National Statistics Office indicated that 2.3 percent of the population in the Philippines was affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Membership in the INC is conferred through baptism. People who wish to be baptized in the INC must first submit to a formal process taking at least six months.

Once someone officially registers with their locale, the person is given the status of Bible Student as they are called within the Iglesia ni Cristo and taught the 25 lessons concerning fundamental beliefs of the INC.

Thursday and Sunday are its days of worship.

On July 27, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared this day of every year as the “Iglesia ni Cristo Day.”

The declaration was in keeping with Republic Act 9645, signed into law by the President on June 12, 2009, which designated the said day as a special working holiday in recognition of the founding anniversary of the INC in the Philippines.

Philippine News Agency

A beggar's life in Zamboanga

Shoppers walk past a beggar sleeping on a sidewalk Tuesday, July 26, 2011 in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga. Beggars continue to roam downtown Zamboanga despite a strict local government anti-mendicancy ordinance. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Who won the Korean War?

Who won the Korean War? After three years of fighting, there was no clear victor in the war between North Korea (and its Communist-backed allies) and South Korea (and its UN allies).

The armistice that was signed at Panmunjom on this date in 1953 brought an uneasy truce and a divided Korea, which still exists today. Because President Truman never asked Congress to officially declare war on North Korea, in America it was called a "police action."

Truce negotiations lasted some two years; by then, the presidential baton had been handed by Truman to Eisenhower, who approved the decision to draw the final battle line at the 38th parallel, marking the boundary between the two Koreas. Years later, on this date in 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, by US President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young-sam.

Quote: 'We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Troops, NPA rebels clash in Davao City

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 27, 2011) – Communist rebels killed a government militia and wounded another in a clash in Davao City in the southern Philippines, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said the fighting erupted after troops caught up with a group of New People’s Army rebels who were preparing to train recruits Tuesday in the village of Gumitan in Marilog district.

“We call on the New People’s Army to stop exploiting the youth whom they teach to take arms against the government. We also call on to the communities to help in preventing the youth from being exploited through recruitment by the New People’s Army,” said Captain Harold Ho, of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.

Davao City has become a base for the communist group over the past years and rebels have repeatedly attacked troops and police forces in broad daylight.

“The soldiers responded to the reports and complaints of civilians that allegedly an armed group, led by Rudy Saballa hiding under the name Egor, a resident of Brgy. Malamba, Marilog District, Davao City, consolidated in order to train the youth that were recruited to become members of the New People’s Army in a training camp in Marilog district,” the army spokesman said.

He said the fighting lasted some 30 minutes and troops recovered two improvised explosives left behind by rebels.

The NPA is fighting for decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today in Philippine History July 26

On July 26, 1969, United States President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon arrived in Manila for a state visit, the same day Gloria Diaz left for New York en route to Manila via Honolulu for her homecoming after winning the Miss Universe pageant.

It was President Nixon who said: "The US conquered the moon but the Philippines has conquered the universe," as Ms. Gloria Diaz won Miss Universe pageant on July 19, 1969, the same day the first man (astronaut Neil Armstrong) landed on the moon.

Díaz was only 18 when then she was crowned Miss Universe after outshining - and outsmarting - other candidates on the question on how to welcome the first men that had just landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, as soon as they return to planet Earth.

The final question was: "If the man from the moon should come down to earth and visit your hometown, what would you do to entertain him?" Gloria’s winning answer was: "Why, I guess I would do for him what I always do. Since he has been on the moon for so long, he would want a change."

Also on this same day in 1762, Diego Cerra del Carmen , famous recollect friar who constructed the famous Las Pinas Bamboo Organ, was born in Ville de Graus, Spain.

Philippine News Agency

Who was the first actress to be nominated for three Golden Globes acting awards in the same year?

Who was the first actress to be nominated for three Golden Globes acting awards in the same year? Happy birthday to Helen Mirren, who was nominated in 2006 for her roles in The Queen, Elizabeth I and Prime Suspect: Final Act.

She is especially known for her roles as Queen Elizabeth (I and II), Tolstoy's wife (in The Last Station) and Prime Suspect's homicide detective Jane Tennison.

Quote: "The trick in life is learning how to deal with it." — Helen Mirren

Monday, July 25, 2011

Asia Foundation, USAID donate books to Southern Philippines

SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 25, 2011) - The Asia Foundation (TAF), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently launched a series of five book distribution events in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and in the cities of General Santos and Tacurong in Southern Philippines.

The donations were made by TAF’s Books for Asia’s program and distributed in Mindanao through the Transparent Accountable Governance (TAG) project, a partnership between USAID and TAF.

In each separate book distribution ceremony, TAF and USAID donated brand new educational materials to public elementary and secondary schools and colleges as a continuing commitment to promote education and literacy in Mindanao.

Boxes of reference materials were distributed to public libraries in host provinces, municipalities and cities; and partner non-government organizations.

Provincial and city government officials, regional officials of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, and representatives of the recipient schools, colleges, universities and NGOs graced the events.

Mission Director Gloria Steele affirmed USAID’s assistance to improve the quality of education in Mindanao. “We are proud to work with TAF in providing textbooks and other learning materials to Mindanao public schools. We believe that enhancing the quality of education, especially basic education in remote and conflict-affected areas, is an investment not only in the brighter future of Mindanao youth, but also in peace and development in the region,” Steele said.

USAID’s education program is providing over two million textbooks and other learning materials to elementary school students and out-of-school youth in remote communities in Mindanao.

“As we strive for a peaceful, democratic, just, and prosperous Philippines, a key emphasis is to address education. Schoolchildren have to be enabled to become thinking individuals so that they could become a driving force in efforts for peace and progress. Education is central to this process, and books are vital to allowing students to learn about the wider world,” said TAF’s Country Representative, Dr. Steven Rood.

Michelle Ann Jaboneta, Sanguniang Kabataan Federation President of South Cotabato, said: “It would be a great leap forward for our young learners that would really benefit this donation, thus they would be equipped with more knowledge and skills through reading. Reading plays an important role in molding the minds of our future leaders.”

The donation of books was done in collaboration with provincial and city governments, and private partners, and is intended to enhance the school libraries and communities as part of a wider effort throughout Southern Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines. For more than 56 years, The Asia Foundation has supported local communities to improve education for students.

For his part, Books for Asia Director, Efren Balajadia explained that the Foundation’s Books for Asia activities will continue throughout the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.

He said, “We are trying to reach all communities in the country to bring the books – even to the remotest schools. We are thankful to American publishers like Pearson Education and McGraw Hill companies for generous donations of brand new books to our program.”

TAF acknowledged the unrelenting support of partners in this endeavor; namely; the Provincial governments of Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, and the City Governments of General Santos and Tacurong for encouraging activities that promote education and literacy, and USAID for generously supporting the Books for Asia’s special focus on Mindanao.

The Books for Asia is a well-known program that regularly distributes books and other reading materials for all educational levels in over 15 countries.

Since it was started in September 1954, The Books for Asia program has distributed more than 40 million books and journals to more than 50,000 academic and non-academic institutions throughout Asia.

The Philippines alone has been a recipient of 14 million books and journals to public and private institutions across the country. More than 95 percent of Books for Asia’s donations are new textbooks, donated by U.S. publishers.

The reading materials range from the elementary level to professional level, covering such fields as government, business, health, environment, information technology, social science, and international relations.

Books for Asia have made a significant contribution to education here in the Philippines especially since resources for instructional tools and facilities are scarce.

All educational levels have benefited from this program. Basic textbooks and supplementary reading materials have been donated to schools throughout the country. NGOs are also recipients of valuable resource materials from Books for Asia.