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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Environmental changes key to preventing non-communicable diseases, says cardiologist




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 2, 2014) - National Academy of Science and Technology Academician Antonio Miguel Dans said no amount of health education or counseling can make people change their lifestyles to prevent non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and dementia and he has proposed making changes in the environment in order to make a person change his lifestyle and health status.

NAST is an advisory body of the Department of Science and Technology.

“We eat unhealthy because unhealthy food is cheaper. For a cheaper price, you can get a burger while salads are more expensive. We don’t exercise because there is no place to exercise. If you jog (on the street)… you’ll die – you’ll get run over by cars, you’ll get cancer,” Dans, a cardiologist and University of the Philippines College of Medicine professor, said during  a NAST-sponsored round table discussion recently.

Fun Runs, on the other hand, are good but when the running event is finished, there is nothing where people can run safely, comfortably, and regularly for the rest of the year. “Go to UP.  You’ll see how people are thirsty to exercise. They just don’t have a place to do it,” he emphasized.

Dans said instituting environmental changes, such as imposing sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, is one strategy outside healthcare which can lead to a healthier population.

The enactment of the Sin Tax Bill in December 2012 led to a 6 percent reduction in the Philippines’ smoking population.  Specifically, the number of smokers among the 10-19 age bracket dropped by 25 percent, and those in the 70 and above age group had a 34 percent drop. The number of smokers among the poor likewise decreased considerably.

“We are contemplating (on proposing) sin tax on sugar and salt, hoping that it will be as effective as that on tobacco,” Dans said.

Other environmental changes suggested by Dans include the banning of unhealthy foods and creating more P.E. activities in schools, building gym facilities and stand desks in workplaces, and creating more bike lanes, parks and sidewalks with “walkability” qualities such as cleanliness, adequate lighting, and safety.

“We’re not saying that it (health education) does not work,” said Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, executive director of DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development during the open forum.  “But maybe … we should determine the tipping point. Is it legislation? Or maybe it is in community initiatives,” he said.

Cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, renal disease, osteoarthritis, asthma, cataracts, osteoporosis, and diabetes are among the range of non-communicable diseases which caused 34.5 million deaths out of a total 52 million deaths in 2010.

Unhealthy lifestyles as well as aging, an issue that is becoming more difficult to manage, are among the factors leading to the onset of non-communicable diseases which are long-term and costly.

Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board thanks Sulu Gov for support

 Sulu Governor Totoh Tan
 

SULU (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 2, 2014) – The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board praised Sulu Governor Totoh Tan for his huge support during its recent visit in the southern province.

The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board headed by retired police general Lina Sarmiento conducted three days of “claims intake” or documentation of claims of victims of human rights during the Marcos regime in Sulu.

“As Chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board created by RA 10368 to recognize and provide reparation to victims and heroes of Martial Law, I would like to express deep appreciation and thanksgiving for your all-out support to the members of our staff team, our partners in the Regional Human Rights Commission, volunteers from civil society organizations and security personnel from the Philippine National Police during the Claims Intake in Sulu.”

“We thank you for the free use of the Sumadja Hall, the gymnasium, the graciousness of your staff in the Sulu Area Coordinating Center and the overflowing hospitality during the claims process. It was also a delight to meet with you in your office and to listen to the development of Sulu under your energetic leadership. It is very inspiring to hear your stories. We pray for the success of your plans and for peace and security in the two districts of Sulu,” Sarmiento said in a letter she wrote to the Governor.

Governor Tan said the provincial government is all-out in its support to the efforts of the Aquino government to give justice to victims of human rights during the Marcos regime.

He the provincial government, even during the time of then Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, has been actively advocating and protecting human rights and has set up a human rights desk - in coordination with the Commission of Human Rights - to ensure the rights and welfare of civilians in Sulu.

The application for claims started on May 12 this year and will run until November 10. Failure of victims to file claims during the 6-month period - as provided by Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 - will be considered a waiver. The filing of application claims is also free of charge.

Sarmiento has urged all victims of Martial Law to apply in person, including those conclusively presumed as human rights violations victims so the Claims Board will be able to determine appropriate awards, as provided by RA 10368.

RA 10368 recognized as conclusively presumed human rights violations victims the class suit and direct action plaintiffs of cases filed in Honolulu and other US courts against President Ferdinand Marcos, and those recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani. The Claims Board said it can render “motu proprio” recognition to some victims of Martial Law through judicial notice.

The RA 10368 recognizes and provides reparations to those who suffered and sacrificed during Martial Law covering the period from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. The names of the victims will also be enshrined in the Roll of Human Rights Violations Victims that will be turned over to the Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission. (Mindanao Examiner)

Impeachment vs. Aquino ibinasura!


Pangulong Benigno Aquino




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 2, 2014) – Tulad ng inaasahan, ibinasura ngayon ng mga kaalyado ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino ang tatlong impeachment complaints na inihain laban sa kanya ng ibat-bang grupo at sektor kaugnay sa isyu ng Disbursement Acceleration Programo DAP at ang Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sa Estados Unidos.

Maging ang debate sa Kongreso ukol sa mga merito ng kaso ay naging mainit rin sa pagitan ng mga sumusuporta at nagsusulong sa impeachment complaints at mga mambabatas na nasa likod ng Pangulo.

Ibinasura ang mga reklamo laban kay Aquino dahil “insufficient in substance” diumano ang mga ito. Ito rin ang ibinato ng oposisyon kay Aquino sa paglalagda nito sa EDCA na nagbibigay ng malawak na access sa mga tropang Kano sa bansa. Nasa Korte Suprema pa ang isyu ukol sa EDCA.

Sa reklamo kontra kay Aquino, sinabi ng mga naghain nito na isang “culpable violation” sa Saligang Batas at “betrayal of public trust” ang implementasyon ng DAP. Naunang idineklara ng Korte Suprema na illegal at unconstitutional ang DAP na pinalagan naman ni Aquino at ng mga kaalyado nito sa Kongreso na karamihan ay nakinabang doon.

Ang DAP ay brainchild ni Aquino at Budget Secretary Butch Abad at binuo ito upang may dahilan ang Malakanyang na magamit ang mga salapi o pondo na nakalaan para sa ibang bagay sa anumang naisihan ng mga ito.

Matatandaang inakusahan rin noon ng oposisyon si Aquino at Abad na ginamit ang DAP upang isuhol sa mga politiko para sa conviction ni Renato Corona, ang dating pinuno ng Korte Suprema. Binansagan naman ng mga militante ang DAP na siyang “pork barrel” fund ni Aquino, bukod pa ang limpak-limpak na pondo mula sa Presidential Social Fund.

Nagsimula ang DAP noon Oktubre 2011 matapos na aprubahan ito ni Aquino sa rekomendasyon umano ng Development Budget Coordination Committee at ng Cabinet Clusters bilang “stimulus package” ng administrasyon para sa mga sari-saring proyekto.

Bilyon-bilyong pisong pondo ang inilaan ng pamahalaan para sa DAP. Mula 2011-2012, umabot sa P142.23 bilyon ang inilabas para sa mga programa at proyekto - P83.53 bilyon noon 2011 at 58.70 bilyon naman sa 2012. Sa 2011, karamihan sa mga pinaglaanang pondo ng DAP ay napunta sa healthcare, public works, housing and resettlement, gayun rin sa agriculture at iba pa.

At noon 2012, ginamit naman ang pondo ng DAP sa turismo at road infrastructure, school infrastructure, rehabilitation at extension ng kontrobersyal na light rail transit systems, at ang sitio electrification.

Sa taong 2013, umabot naman ang pondo ng DAP sa P15.13 bilyon at ginamit naman ito para sa karagdagang tauhan ng pulisya at bilang dagdag-pondo rin sa modernization ng pambansang pulisya at sa redevelopment ng Roxas Boulevard sa Maynila at maging sa rehabilitation projects sa mga lugar na napinsala ng bagyong Pablo sa lalawigan ng Compostela Valley at Davao Oriental.

Ginamit rin ang DAP para pondohan ang mga proyekto ng mga piling mambabatas at umabot ito sa P142.23 bilyon mula 2011-2012. At karamihan sa mga salaping inilaan para sa DAP ay galing diumano mula sa mga savings ng ibat-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ang ang mga “realignment at unprogrammed” funds na aprubado rin ni Aquino, kabilang dito ang mga pondong mula sa remittance ng dividends ng mga government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions at mga pinagbentahan ng mga government assets.

Hindi naman agad mabatid ng Mindanao Examiner kung gaano kalaking salapi ang nakuha ng DAP mula sa Malampaya Fund kung mayroon man, ngunit ang pondo mula sa Malampaya ay maaari lamang gamitin sa mga proyektong may kinalaman sa enerhiya.

Ipinag-matigasan noon ni Abad at Aquino na legal ang DAP base na rin sa Article VI Section 25 (5) ng 1987 Constitution. “…the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

At ang Book VI Chapter 5 Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code na nagsasabing: “Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act, any savings in the regular appropriations authorized in the General Appropriations Act for programs and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of the President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations….”

Sa kabila nito, sinabi naman ni Aquino na nais niyang maiwan sa bawat mamamayan ang isang legacy ng maayos na pamamalakad ng pamahalaan at magsilbing role model. “If there is a singular legacy that I am leaving and sana, masanay ang kababayan natin na ito ang kaya ng gobyernong pinapatakbo nang matino,” ani Aquino.

Mariing binatikos naman ng Anakbayan at ibang mga grupo ang pagbasura sa impeachment complaints.

“We condemn the railroaded murder of the impeachment complaints. Aquino’s pork gang in congress killed accountability and truth in the name of pork. The shameless act shows Aquino’s desperation. This shows that he is afraid of truth and accountability,”wika ng Anakbayan sa ipinadalang pahayag sa Mindanao Examiner at nagbanta pa ang grupo na dadalhin sa kalye ang protesta laban kay Aquino.

Matatandaang inindorso ni Rep. Neri Colmenarez noon Hulyo 21 impeachment complaint laban kay Aquino.“Ang culpable violation ay nangangahulugan ng wilful and deliberate violation o sinasadyang paglabag. Kung alam ng Pangulo na labag sa Saligang Batas, pero ginawa niya pa rin, iyon po ay willful ant deliberate violation, kaya culpable o sinasadyang paglabag,” sabi pa ni Colmenarez.

Sa ilalim ng DAP, pinagsama-sama ang naturang pondo at inilipat sa ibang pagkakagastusan, lihis o taliwas sa inaprubahan ng Kongreso at ng GAA. Aabot sa P144 bilyon ang pondong DAP na ginastos ni Aquino na siya lang ang nagpasya at labag sa pasya ng Kongreso at ng Batas.

Iginiit ni Colmenarez na sinadyang nilabag ni Aquino ang Saligang Batas na nagbabawal ng transfer of appropriations at nagtatadhana ng paggamit ng savings ayon sa itinakda ng batas. Iniutos umano ni Aquino sa pamamagitan ng National Budget Circular 541 at iba pang memorandum na i-withdraw ang mga unobligated allotments sa kalagitnaan ng taon at idineklara ito kasama ng unreleased funds bilang savings at ginamit para sa ibang proyekto o programa.

“Ang susing tanong ay savings ba ayon sa batas ang unobligated allotments sa kalagitnaan taon? Ang sagot ay hindi savings ang unobligated funds sa kalagitnaan ng taon at wala sa definition ng savings ang unobligated funds sa GAA nooong 2011, 2012 at 2013.”

“Ano ba ang unobligated funds? Ito yung pondo para isang proyekto na hindi pa na-bid at nagkaroon ng kontrata o obligasyon. Walang karapatan si Aquino na hugutin ang unobligated funds bago matapos ang taunang budget,” paliwanag pa ni Colmenarez.

Ayon kay Colmenarez, hindi maipagkakaila at alam diumano ni Aquino na ang ginawa niyang savings ay wala sa definition ng batas. Sa katunayan, gustong pagtakpan ni Aquino ang paglabag na ginawa niya sa panukalang idagdag ang unobligated funds as of June 30, 2015 sa definition ng savings sa 2015 proposed national budget.

Sinabi pa nito na mawawalang saysay ang poder ng Kongreso na magpatibay ng taunang batas sa budget kung tatanggapin ang pinalawig na depinisyon na savings dahil kalagitnaan ng taon maaari nang baguhin at ilipat-lipat ni Aquino ang appropriations ng mga unobligated funds gamit ang maskara ng savings.

“Malinaw na sinasabi sa Saligang Batas “no law shall be pass allowing transfer of appropriations”; ang tanging exception ay ang pag-augment ng items sa respective offices mula sa savings na itinakda ng batas. Hindi savings ang unobligated funds sa kalagitnaan ng taon, ito ay appropriations na may kalahati pang taon na nalalabi para isakatuparan, bawal itong ilipat ng gamit. Kung bawal sa Konstitusyon na magpasa ng batas sa transfer of appropriation lalung bawal na ang presidente maglabas ng utos sa transfer of appropriations,” ani Colmenarez.


Sinabi naman ni Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, na transparent ang proseso ng dismissal ng impeachment cases laban kay Aquino.

“The Committee on Justice of the House, after a thorough review of the allegations in terms of its substance, has dismissed the complaints against the President. We take note that the process took place with transparency, not just according to the rules, but to give the proponents every opportunity to make their case,” ani Valte.(Mindanao Examiner)

Kahero ng bar, tinambangan sa Zambo



ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 2, 2014) – Patay ang isang kahero ng night club matapos itong tambangan kahapon ng madaling araw ng mga di-kilalang salarin na nakasakay sa motoriklo sa Zamboanga City.

Ayon kay Insp. Dahlan Samuddin, ang regional police spokesman, ay pauwi na sana sa kanyang bahay si Richard Ong Lozada, 46, ng ito’y ratratin ng riding-tandem sa intersection ng Estrada St. at Don Toribio St. sa Barangay Tetuan.

Kahero ng El Bonita Bar sa Barangay Tetuan ang biktima at nabatid na bago umuwi ay nakipag-inuman pa itong si Lozada kasama ang mga kaibigan sa Veterans Avenue. At mag-isang umuwi sakay ng sariling motorsiklo ng ito’y buntutan ng dalawang lalaki at saka pinagbabaril.

Agad rin tumakas ang dalawang salarin matapos ng pananambang. Nabawi naman ng pulisya ang tatlong basyo ng bala ng .45-kalibre sa lugar ng krimen.

Sinabi ni Samuddin na isinugod pa sa pagamutan si Lozada, ngunit namatay rin habang nasa operating table. Hindi pa mabatid ang motibo sa pagpatay o kung may kinalaman ba sa babae o away ang krimen, ngunit patuloy ang imbestigasyon sa kaso.

Talamak ang barilan sa Zamboanga dahil na rin sa mga naglipanang hired killers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Aquino launches mass vaccination program




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 1, 2014) - President Benigno Aquino led the launching Monday in Manila of the mass immunization campaign against measles and polio.

The nationwide vaccination campaign targets children and is a follow-up to the 2011 Measles Rubella Supplemental Immunization. Some 13 million people in the country are at risk from measles, polio and rubella (German measles).

Aquino has urged the public to cooperate in eradicating the diseases. He said the Department of Health (DOH) is carrying out the initiative aimed at preventing outbreaks.

"Ito na nga ho ay mga pagbabakuna para mailayo sa kapahamakang madudulot kung tatamaan ng polio o pati na ng measles, lalo na ang kanyang mga komplikasyon," he said. "Ngayon, ang Department of Health po ay talagang nakagayak na at binigyan ng sapat na pondo para maipaitupad ‘yung hinahabol nga nating 95 percent na vaccination."

Aquino said the DOH will try its best to reach remote communities to carry out the vaccination program. He also emphasized the importance of coordinating with local government units throughout the country to ensure the program’s success.

He called on parents to take it upon themselves to have their children vaccinated. "Pakiusap po sa lahat, itong ‘Ligtas sa Tigdas’ na programa natin ay ating suportahan. Doon sa mga hindi pa nakakarinig nitong programang ito, makidamay na po tayong ipaalala sa kanila ang obligasyon natin sa kabataang ito," he said.

Although there has been no reported case of polio in the country, the DOH is implementing the anti-polio campaign in compliance with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulation on polio as a public health emergency.

The campaign intends to maintain the county's polio-free status. The mass vaccination campaign will run until September 30 and all health centers throughout the country will serve as vaccination posts.

OFWs stop working to protest labor violations by Saudi employer

Despite under unimaginable distress, these protesting OFWs still managed to give a big smile during a break in a dialogue with Migrante-Middle East in Saudi Arabia. 


MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 1, 2014) – Hundreds of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia have accused their employer of breaching their contract and other labor violations and appealed to Manila to help them after the Philippine Labor Overseas Office failed to safeguard their rights, according to Migrante-Middle East.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator based in Riyadh City, said at least 950 Filipinos working for Al Mojil Group of Companies, a contractor of Saudi Aramco, have stopped working for three months now to protest the violations after negotiations failed.

Monterona said the OFWs from 5 various job sites have stopped working since July - those at Jubail Camp 2 with 500 OFWs; Yanbu Camp site with 100 OFWs; WASIT SK Camp 150 OFWs; Shaybah Camp site 100 OFWs, and those at Dharan Camp site with 100 OFWs.

“The 950 OFWs were victims of contract violations such as delayed payment of salary, working without Iqama or residence identification card; and others who have been working for 10 or 15 years were not given entitlement like the end of service benefits, and they were not even allowed to go on vacation although they already successfully completed their one-year contract. Some of them were deployed, but no actual job assigned as per their respective job applied,” he said.

He said the complaints have been endorsed to the Philippine Labor Overseas Office in Al Khobar since June, but there was no prompt or timely intervention until the distressed OFWs were forced to stop working the following month to press their employer to honor the terms and conditions of their signed contract.

“The Aquino government through the Department of Labor and Employment its labor offices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration have failed to safeguard the labor contracts of the OFWs despite rampant labor violations and also failed to provide assistance to distressed OFWs,” Monterona said.

Migrante-Middle East has been assisting the distressed OFWs and monitoring the situation of other Filipinos in Saudi.

Zamboanga school principal, 2 others fall in drug sting




ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 1, 2014) – Police arrested a school principal and two other men in a drug sting operation in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

Police said the trio was busted after they allegedly sold methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as shabu to an undercover agent in the village of Quinipot.

The Department of Education has confirmed the arrest of the principal on August 31 and that an investigation has began.

Police said it recovered several packets of shabu and drug paraphernalia and other pieces of evidence needed to build the criminal case against the three men.

The confiscated drugs were handed over to the police laboratory for examination to determine whether the seized crystalline granules were shabu or not.

It was not immediately known whether the principal sold drugs to students. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

Zambo airport naghigpit na rin

 Abala ang ground crew sa pagbababa ng mga bagahe mula sa isang eroplano sa Zamboanga airport.(Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 1, 2014) – Naghigpit ng siguridad sa Zamboanga City airport matapos na pumutok ang balita na isang car bomb ang natagpuan kahapon sa parking area ng Ninoy Aquino International Airport na kung saan ay apat na katao ang dinakip.

Todo-bantay na rin sa Zamboanga at bukod sa mga pribadong security guards ay may mga parak na sa entrance ng airport bilang paniguro na walang makakalusot na pampasabog o armas.

Matatandaang binomba ang Zamboanga airport noon Agosto 2010 at target nito ay si dating Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan at ang kanyang pamilya. Isang sibilyan rin ang nasawi at mahigit sa 2 doseang katao ang sugatan sa naturang pagsabog sa arrival area ng airport. Sumabog ang backpack ng karpenterong si Reynaldo Apilado matapos itong ipadala sa kanya ng kalaban ni Tan sa pulitika.

Nagdagdag na rin ng patrulya sa Zamboanga at maraming mga parak sa sentro ng naturang lungsod bilang bahagi na rin ng nalalapit na paggunita sa atake ng Moro National Liberation Front dito.

Hindi naman sinabi ng mga awtoridad sa Maynila kung anong grupo kabilang ang apat na nadakip kaugnay sa pagkakadiskubre ng car bomb sa Terminal 3. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

HIV infects over 300 OFWs




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2014) - A total of 379 overseas Filipino workers - 334 males and 45 females - have been found with human immunodeficiency virus from January to July this year, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said.

The latest figure represents an increase of 23 percent, or 70 cases, versus the 309 OFWs found HIV-positive over the same seven-month period in 2013, according to TUCP president Ernesto Herrera.

Herrera said 378 of the stricken OFWs acquired the infection through sexual transmission, including 152 cases via male-to-male sexual contact.

“There was one case wherein the OFW was an intravenous drug user, and was infected by a tainted needle,” Herrera said.

HIV causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS and while the disease that destroys the immune system does not have any known cure, the World Health Organization says “huge reductions have been seen in rates of death and suffering when use is made of a potent antiretroviral regimen, particularly in early stages.”

“The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. should see to it that every OFW found HIV-positive is able to avail of cost-free Anti-Retroviral Therapy in accredited treatment hubs,” Herrera said.

“We are also urging Malacañang to certify the proposed new AIDS Prevention and Control Law, or Senate Bill 186, introduced by Sen. Miriam Santiago,” he added.

The bill seeks to improve the living conditions of HIV-positive people through greater access to treatment, care and support. It also sets tougher penalties for entities and individuals who discriminate against HIV-positive people as well as those who violate their rights to confidentiality.

An aggregate of 3,017 OFWs with the median age of 34 now comprise 15 percent of the 19,915 cases in the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry as of July 31, 2014. The Registry began passive surveillance of the disease in 1984.

According to the Registry, some 98 percent of all HIV-positive OFWs, or 2,951 cases, acquired the virus on account of sexual contact. Some 81 percent of all HIV-positive OFWs, or 2,456 cases, are males, and 834 of them, or 28 percent, were infected due to male-to-male sexual contact.

HIV is being spread primarily through sexual contact, predominantly male-to-male sex, and secondarily via needle-sharing among injecting drug users or the transfusion of contaminated blood, according to the Philippine National AIDS Council.

Aquino itching to sign Anti-Dynasty Bill




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2014) - President Benigno Aquino said he is ready to sign into law the bill that seeks the abolition of political dynasties in the country.

“Kapag naitapos ho nila ‘yan, ako’y handang-handa pirmahan ang batas na ‘yan,” he told radio station Bombo Radyo.

Aquino said that the Anti-Dynasty Bill is already gaining traction in Congress, with House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte favoring the initiative.

He said he favors the abolition of political dynasties in the country as dynasties control the economic, political and even the judicial component of communities.

Political dynasties also hamper the conduct of a fair and democratic election in a locality, he said.

One of those who filed the Anti-Dynasty Bill was Congressman Edgar Erice of Caloocan. The 1987 Constitution calls for an enabling law against political dynasties, but Aquino's clan members also sit in Congress and control much of his hometown in central Luzon.

Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights clashed with Syrian rebels

 Philippine military and defense officials are jubilant after Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights escape from their embattled positions following a clash with Syrian rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda. (Photo by Corporal Palima)


MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2014) – Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights have clashed with Syrian rebels and managed to flee from their embattled position to a more secure area at Camp Ziuani, Philippine military chief General Pio Catapang said Sunday.

He said the rebels under Al Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, attacked the peacekeepers on-board several trucks, but the Filipinos fought bravely in self-defense.

“Syrian rebels initiated an attack on Position 68. Our troops defended their position. The Syrian rebels attacked on-board pick-up trucks. Our peacekeepers returned fire in self-defense. Our troops fought back bravely and successfully held their positions. This attack prompted UNDOF to re-position our troops to a more secure position within the mission area,” Catapang said.

“The governments of Syria and Israel are supporting our troops to uphold the integrity of the area of separation and to deescalate the situation. The teamwork demonstrated by our fellow UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) troop-contributing countries and the UN is exemplary. Other governments including the United States and Qatar also played a role in the safeguarding our peacekeepers,” he added.

He said the Philippines and the UN will not compromise the safety and security of the peacekeepers while in the pursuit of their duties.

“It is in our national interest to prioritize their safety without abandoning our commitment to international security. We commend our soldiers for exhibiting resolve even while under heavy fire. This manifests their determination to fulfill our commitment to the community of nations,” Catapang said.

The rebels have already seized 43 Fijians peacekeepers after luring them to surrender their weapons in Golan Heights. They also demanded the Filipino peacekeepers to surrender their weapons, but the soldiers flatly rejected the demand and stood bravely to protect their position. (Mindanao Examiner)

Special Forces commander dies in Basilan clash




ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2014) – A Special Forces commander, who was wounded in clash with Abu Sayyaf militants in the troubled Basilan province in southern Philippines, had died before dawn Sunday while being airlifted to hospital in Zamboanga City, officials said.

Officials said Captain Mark Gamboa, of the 14th Special Forces Company, clashed at around 7 p.m. on Saturday with militants led by Halang alias Commander Jeck in the village of Calusugan in Lantawan town.

The fighting lasted only 10 minutes and it was unknown if there were enemy casualties. Gamboa was hit in the arm by a bullet that penetrated his body organs.

Soldiers, who reinforced the officer’s unit an hour later, brought him to the army headquarters in Isabela City where US troops provided him first aid while waiting for a helicopter to transport Gamboa to Zamboanga City.

Gamboa was airlifted shortly midnight to the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, but died before reaching the military hospital there. The Western Mindanao Command did not release any statement about the fighting and the death of Gamboa.

US troops were training Filipino soldiers in anti-terrorism warfare in southern Philippines, including Basilan, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, since 2002. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc.)

Police kill arrested Sayyaf man in Sabah kidnappings

 Mobin Hailil. (Photo from The Star Online)


ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 31, 2014) – Policemen killed a key Abu Sayyaf member arrested in the southern Philippine province Tawi-Tawi in connection to the spate of kidnappings and murder in Sabah, Malaysia, reports said.

Malaysia’s The Star Online reported that Mobin Hailil alias Kahumbo, who was arrested in Bongao town on August 26, had been shot dead allegedly after grabbing the gun of one of his escorts while on their way to jail from a court appearance on August 29.

The 44-year old Hailil was charged with illegal possession of firearm and explosives after police commandos and soldiers seized a pistol and a grenade from him during his arrest.

Hailil is also being linked to the killing of a Malaysian policeman Kpl Rajah Jamuan, 32, on Mabul Water Bungalow Resort during an Abu Sayyaf raid in July this year. Rajah’s companion Kons Zakiah Alejp, 26, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf and is being held for ransom in southern Philippines.

The Star Online exclusive report said Tawi-Tawi police chief Joe Salido has ordered an investigating into the killing of Hailil.

Quoting from a police report it obtained, The Star Online said that Hailil was killed when he allegedly tried to escape while being escorted under heavy guard in Bongao town.

The police report said “the suspect pulled the firearm of a security team member and resisted. That gave reason for the security team to shoot Kahumbo, resulting in his instant death. Team medics immediately applied first aid and brought Kahumbo to the hospital but he was declared DOA (dead on arrival).”

The Star Online also quoted an unidentified intelligence source from Tawi-Tawi that claimed Hailil was killed to prevent him from bailing out of prison.

“They said that it would have been difficult to find him guilty in court as he had the protection of someone influential in southern Philippines. It would be difficult to find him guilty on either illegal possession of weapons or kidnapping. Security forces know that he would eventually be freed and that is why they executed him,” the source said.

It was unknown whether police and military had completed its interrogation on Hailil, or whether he was killed to silence him. Abu Sayyaf prisoners are usually transported to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City while charges are being prepared or for further interrogation, especially those involved in high profile cases such as the Sabah kidnappings.

Eastern Sabah Security Command Intelligence Director Datuk Ahmad Nadzer Nordin said at least 14 groups from southern Philippines were involved in cross-border kidnappings in Sabah.

The Star Online also quoted a report by former Abu Sayyaf hostage and Mindanao State University lecturer Octavio Dinampo as saying that Hailil was “an intelligence gatherer for Abu Sayyaf, whose main duty is to identify possible targets for the gunmen to kidnap.”

“As an urban operative, he would be familiar with places like Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Semporna,” Dinampo, who was kidnapped in June 2008, told The Star Online, adding that Hailil would blend in with the Tausug and Yakan communities in these districts.

“These operatives use their knowledge to identify possible kidnap victims and watch their movements as well as the fast boats to be used in the abductions,” he said, adding, any information from Hailil would enable Philippine security officials to know the inner workings of the Abu Sayyaf.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abd Rahman earlier tagged brothers as Nilson and Badong Muktadil as among those involved in kidnappings in Sabah. The two brothers were also linked to the raid on Mabul Water Bungalow Resort.

Malaysia’s Star Online also quoted Jalaluddin as saying that the brothers were part of a kidnap-for-ransom group based in Tawi-Tawi province. They were believed to be involved in the April 2 kidnapping of Chinese tourist, Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino worker Marcy Darawan, 40, from the Singamata Reef Resort off Semporna in Sabah. Both women had been freed in exchange for a huge ransom. (Mindanao Examiner. With a report from The Star Online.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Philippines monitors embattled Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights

 Philippine Defense and military officials during a video conference with Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights.


MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 30, 2014) – The Philippines continues to monitor the situation of dozens of embattled Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights following attacks Saturday by Syrian rebels at their enclave.

Filipino defense and military officials said there were no reports of casualties, but the attacks added to the already grave situation of the peacekeepers. Rebels earlier seized 43 Fijians peacekeepers after luring them to surrender their weapons.

Syrian rebels also demanded the Filipinos to surrender their weapons, but the soldiers flatly rejected the demand and stood bravely to protect their position.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces Chief General Gregorio Catapang were able to speak via video conference with Lieutenant Colonel Ted Damusmog, commander of the Filipino contingent, who briefed them about their situation in Golan Heights as the stand-off with rebels continued.

The Filipino and Fijians peacekeepers are part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Golan Heights which is now surrounded by rebels allied with al-Qaeda.

Catapang has expressed concern for the safety of the Filipino peacekeepers and the Fijian hostages, but said the “peacekeeping contingent has the right to defend its positions and their units in line with UN protocols and rules of engagement.”

“Our soldiers are prepared, trained, and capable of dealing with these situations and will take risks to fulfill our commitment to international security and peace,” he said.

He said the Armed Forces and the Department of National Defense are closely coordinating with UNDOF about the safety of the peacekeepers.

“We are in direct communication with our peacekeepers and with the UN Force Headquarters in the Golan Heights as options and contingency plans are being drawn and considered. The safety and security of our peacekeepers remain to be our paramount concern as they remain steadfast on their commitment to their mission,” he said, adding, they are exerting all efforts to ensure the safety and security of the peacekeepers.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino is also closely watching the situation in the Golan Heights. She said the President also worries about the safety of the peacekeepers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Teenager rapes girl in refugee shelter in Zamboanga City

 A policeman stands guard as a government truck hauls war refugees and transfer them to a government school converted into temporary shelter in Zamboanga City . Thousands of war refugees are still languishing in filthy evacuation centers since September 2013 following attacks by Moro National Liberation Front rebels. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)


ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 30, 2014) – A 16-year old boy was caught sexually abusing a seven-year old girl at a refugee shelter in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said Saturday.

Police said a protection volunteer Ricky Amisali caught the teenager abusing the girl at a comfort room inside the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex which is being used as a shelter for villagers affected by rebel attacks in Zamboanga city last year.

Amisali was patrolling at the shelter when he spotted the teenager abusing the victim on August 28 and arrested the young felon and subsequently handed him over and the girl to social worker Abner Mandanagan, who reported the abuse to the police.

The teenager was turned over to the custody of the Center for Children in Conflict with Law while the girl is under the care of her parents. It was not immediately known if the victim’s mother would pursue a criminal case against the teenager.

Rape and sexual abuses are not uncommon at the sports complex and despite the presence of social workers and protection volunteers these incidents still continue and in some cases involving relatives or family members.

In June this year, a six-year old girl was repeatedly abused by her 12-year old neighbor at the sports complex and was not even reported by her family to authorities for a still unknown reason.

Thousands of refugees remain in the filthy sports complex as the government continues to rebuild communities destroyed by three weeks of fighting in September where more than 400 people were killed and wounded in the violence. The clashes displaced over 120,000 people.

Those in the evacuation areas were villagers affected and displaced by rebel attacks mounted in September by the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari. The attack sparked three weeks of street battles that killed and wounded over 400 people and displaced some 120,000 villagers.

More than 170 refugees had died from diseases in the evacuation centers due to lack of sufficient medical and emergency facilities there. The United Nations has expressed alarm over the poor conditions of refugees still at different evacuation centers and transition sites here.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar has been going around refugee sites to personally see their condition and assured them of the government’s rehabilitation efforts. She is frequently spotted in transitory sites and in housing projects supervising ongoing works in those areas. (Mindanao Examiner)

Kidnappers free 3 people in Southern Philippines



PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 30, 2014) – Kidnappers have freed 3 people before dawn Saturday after two weeks in captivity in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, an army spokesman said.

Captain Franco Suelto, of the 1st Infantry Division, said troops were closely working with the police in tracking down the kidnappers after they released their hostages – Engineer Francisco Enot and his wife Loida Enot, and Danilo Bariga.

The trio was freed to businesswoman Johairah Macabuat near the town of Madalum and escorted them to the 51st Infantry Battalion in Balindong town and subsequently brought to the hospital for a routine medical examination.

“The victims have undergone medical checkup and reunited with their families at the Provincial Guest House,” Suelto told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The trio was kidnapped by 5 gunmen on August 15 in the village of Paraaba in Lanao’s Ganassi town and it was unknown if ransom was paid in exchange for their freedom.

Their kidnapping was not reported in the media and it was not immediately known if Macabuat negotiated for their safe release. Lanao is one of five provinces under the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

3 dead, 8 wounded in failed Zamboanga jailbreak



ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 30, 2014) – Three people were killed and 8 others wounded in a failed jailbreak in Siocon town in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, police said Saturday.

Police said a prisoner shot Jail Officer 1 Ryanbell Bagon after grabbing his gun while opening the door of a cell on Friday evening to let another prisoner inside. Two prisoners, Precioso and Rowel Homoc, were also killed in the shootout that followed shortly.

Eight others, including four prisoners, were also wounded in the exchange of fire.

Police identified the wounded as Police Officer 3 Rommel Intud Jay Hachuela, Police Officer 1 Paul Oliver Tomboc, Jail Officers 2 Roldan Felizarta and Jail Officer 1 Patrick Galvez, and prisoners Lito Magsayo, Wilmark Canunyo, Reneboy Homoc and Zanaida Inso and were all brought to the Siocon District Hospital.

Jail authorities were investigating the incident. (Ely Dumaboc)

'Abu Sayyaf'

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Customs intercept 'Balikbayan' boxes


 
MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 29, 2014) - Over 400 watches worth some P4 million were seized by customs officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines after the cargoes which came from Dubai were declared as chocolates and groceries.

The watches, all Casio G-Shock, arrived in six Balikbayan boxes sent through cargo companies Forex and Filex, and were immediately seized by Customs officials during an inspection.

“We are closely monitoring all packages coming in or going out of the country. We have received reports that certain individuals are trying to use various cargo forwarding companies to try and smuggle items into the country,” said NAIA District Collector Edgar Macabeo.

Macabeo said they have stepped operations at the airports in an effort to thwart the entry of illegal cargoes. “These smugglers will now have difficulty in their illegal operations with our continued vigilance against these scalawags,” he said.

288 tons of African oranges seized in Manila




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 29, 2014) - The Philippines seized 288 tons of oranges illegally shipped here from South Africa after its consignees failed to show proper documents to Custom authorities, officials said Friday.

Officials said the fruits arrived at the Manila International Container Port in ten 40-footer container vans which came from Cape Town. The shipments, according to the Bureau of Customs, would be forfeited in favor of the government.

The Bureau of Plant Industry and the Department of Agriculture earlier asked the Bureau of Customs not to release any shipment of agricultural products from Africa without prior clearance due to health concerns.

Importing fruits without the proper permits is a violation of Quarantine Law.

Officials said four other shipments of contraband oranges from South Africa have been placed under alert by the Bureau of Customs in the ports of Manila, and Davao.

In reporting crime, Incident Record Form is important - Police




MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 29, 2014) - Police have urged citizens, especially those filing complaints or reporting a crime, to secure a copy of Incident Record Form which contains data provided by the Desk Officer pertaining to the complainant, victim or suspect, and including the narrative details of the incident.

It said the IRF becomes an official document once it is signed by the investigators and the reporting person in which the information contained will be immediately recorded in the police blotter, uploaded to the Crime Incident Reporting System (CIRS) database, and becomes the first document included in the case folder.

CIRS is an electronic database system that facilitates crime documentation and systematic data storage and retrieval. The system presents a quick, fast and reliable transmission of crime information from lower police units and offices to the National Headquarters.

Police Director General Alan Purisima said the use of IRF is implemented in all police stations and offices with investigative functions.

“The implementation of Crime Incident Reporting System will ensure the gathering and inclusion of all crime data that are reported in the police station into the said database. This is why the Incident Record Form is very important to both reporting citizen and to us in the PNP,” he said.

“All police stations and units with investigative functions is equipped with CIRS-installed computers which will be the source of a nationwide database of crime incidents. It is part of our efforts to further provide our people with ‘true crime reporting’ this is why IRF is very important to be kept by both complainant and our investigators,” he added.

He said in the case of crime incidents which was reported to the police, but referred back to barangay authorities, the report must clearly indicate whether the case is amicably settled, under investigation or referred back to the police with a certification to file action.

Letters to the Editor: Withdraw House Bill 4807




THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines urges the authors of House Bill 4807 to withdraw the measure and members of the House of Representatives to vote it down should they fail to do so.

While we will concede that the measure, also known as “An Act to Provide Protection From Personal Intrusion for Commercial Purposes,” may have been filed with all the best intentions in mind, it poses an all too real threat not only to freedom of the press but on the very right to free expression.

The bill’s avowed aim, to “curb acts of trespassing and other intrusions on personal privacy committed by any person in order to capture visual or sound impressions of an individual, with intent to gain or profit,” is overly broad as are the provisions that list the ways by which violations may be committed.

We agree that people are entitled to privacy and, in fact, the Constitution guarantees as much, in all matters that are personal and have nothing to do with the public interest.

But the measure’s intent is so broad it is likely to be used as another weapon for the criminal and the corrupt to escape accountability should it become law.

That the measure would punish even “the fact that no visual image, sound recording or other physical impression of a person was actually sold for gain or profit,” makes it even more insidious.

We are sure that the authors of the bill know only too well that media outfits are essentially “for profit” enterprises. But the institutional media aside, the measure could end up stifling citizen journalism and even simply taking pictures or videos for personal pleasure.
In an era where technology is quickly breaking down the obstacles that hamper the flow of information and expression, which are the bedrock of democracy, HB 4807 could return us to the dark ages and worse, be used as a weapon of suppression and repression.

While at it, we are equally disturbed at how the bill has swiftly made its way through the legislative mill to be approved on second reading without any of the sectors its passage would impact on informed about it, much less invited to discuss its implications.

The authors of the bill and the House of Representatives as a whole would do the nation a truly great service to the nation and the Filipino people by discarding this and any similar legislation and instead pouring their energies into passing and enacting the Freedom of Information bill. (nujphil@gmail.com)

Now That The Guns Have Been Silenced by Dr. Alon Ben Meir



THE NEW CEASEFIRE between Israel and Hamas has immediately raised the same old question: will it last, or is it merely just another pause, providing the prelude for the next round of fighting à la previous ceasefires? My reading of the situation that brought both sides to agree to suspend violence on an open-ended basis suggests otherwise. I believe the current ceasefire is different as it was achieved under completely different circumstances and may well last.

To begin with, there are no winners or losers. Hamas scored a significant political victory as it maintained its ability to fire rockets at Israel up to the last minute before the ceasefire was put into effect, but also suffered massive losses in men and materials.

Israel decisively won the military campaign by inflicting huge pain and destruction incomparable to the previous two violent encounters with Hamas, but lost politically by creating the perception that Hamas achieved its objectives even though it fell far short of its original demand to lift the blockade altogether.

That said, what has made the ceasefire possible is that both sides have concluded that the continuation of violence will not improve their positions and may well make it considerably worse. The impact of the Israeli and Palestinians’ public outcry and the insurmountable pressure on their respective governments was critical to bring an end to the seemingly unending war.

Prime Minister Netanyahu did not want to keep bombarding Gaza, incur huge collateral damage, and subject Israel to mounting international condemnation as the inadvertent civilian death toll was escalating.

The invasion and reoccupation of Gaza could have ended Hamas’ provocations, its ability to fire thousands more rockets, and terrorizing of the Israelis, but the cost would have been enormous in blood and treasure.

Netanyahu was correct in rejecting calls from several misguided extremist right-wing members of his cabinet, Bennett and Lieberman in particular, to invade Gaza, who failed to grasp the enormous dire ramifications of such reckless adventure.

They foolishly ignored the fact that Israel cannot maintain the occupation indefinitely; instead, it would only help galvanize the rise of a new generation of Palestinian extremists and set the stage for more blood and tears.

Conversely, other than depleting Hamas’ stock of rockets by two-thirds, tens of thousands of houses were destroyed and entire neighborhoods lay in ruins while over 250 fighters and over 1,400 civilians were killed.

I maintain, however, that this latest round of hostilities has ironically produced a positive effect in that both sides have come to the realization that neither can defeat the other both politically and militarily with impunity, and that other options must now be explored to end the vicious cycle of violence.

The fact that the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas has assumed an important role in facilitating the ceasefire and planning to place its security forces to guard the crossing to Gaza from Israel and Egypt, as required by the terms of the ceasefire, bodes well for the future.

The PA has infused new life into the unity government and strengthened the moderate Palestinian voices, which has significant implications for future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Another important development is the renewed realization that Egypt’s role now and in the future is indispensible. Notwithstanding the enmity between Hamas and Egypt under President Sisi, Hamas’ leaders understand anew that their political relevance in the Israeli-Palestinian context and their prospect for a better future depends, to a large extent, on Israel’s and Egypt’s willingness to cooperate.

I am convinced that the war and its suspension is a wakeup call resonating differently than in previous times. To be sure, I believe that in the wake of the Gaza war and the basis on which the ceasefire was established, a new momentum for peace negotiations might have been created.

Netanyahu and the Israeli public, in particular, recognize that regardless of how formidable the Israeli army may be, the use of force has its limits. They are now more likely to be disposed to negotiate in earnest than at any other time since Netanyahu came to power.

For that to happen and produce real progress, the two outside  players to the conflict, the US and the Arab states, must now use their leverage on Israel and the Palestinians respectively to move the peace process forward.

Without too much fanfare, the Obama administration ought to quietly exert pressure on the Netanyahu government to begin serious bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians.

Equally, Abbas, in my view, has emerged from the latest Hamas-Israel conflagration as the ultimate winner. He demonstrated his unwavering commitment to peace and remained above the fray throughout the violent campaign.

Abbas’ enhanced political stature and strength, buttressed by domestic and international support, provides him further leverage in determining the Palestinians’ future political agenda, the centrality of which is the establishment of a Palestinian state by political means.

Abbas might heed the US’ advice, with the support of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to postpone his decision to turn to the UN seeking international support for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He is in a better position to do so as he can now negotiate with Israel from a position of strength in the context of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) by insisting on commencing the negotiations over borders.

Given the turmoil throughout the Middle East, which is affecting every Arab state in the region, there is no better time to reintroduce the API.

The greatest threat to the Arab states today is not Israel but Islamic extremism, i.e. ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and Shiite Iran, which Israel also fears greatly.

What is needed today is a grand gesture by Egypt, who has assumed anew its leadership role in the Arab world, developed close relations with Israel and successfully mediated the ceasefire.

As there is tremendous support for the API in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia should formally put the Initiative back on the table and invite Israel to embrace it and begin comprehensive negotiations to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, making the Gaza war the catalyst for peace.

I am happy to be accused of having pipedreams time and again. But it is unforgivable to let over 2,100 Palestinians (including nearly 500 children) and 69 Israelis die in vain, only to prepare for the digging of new graves for those who are yet to be senselessly slain. (alon@alonben-meir.com)                

Pinoy seamen remittances seen hitting $5.5B this year



MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 29, 2014) - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Friday said it expects Filipino sailors aboard foreign merchant ships to send home via bank wire a record $5.5 billion this year, mainly on account of increased deployment to Europe.

“A growing number of Filipino sailors are being dispatched to Europe, especially to the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Greece, and The Netherlands,” said TUCP president Ernesto Herrera said.

He said remittances from Filipino sailors already hit $2.746 billion from January to June this year, an increase of $223 million, or 8.84 percent, versus the $2.523 billion that they wired home in the same six-month period in 2013.

Cash transfers from sailors grew twice faster compared to the remittances from land-based migrant Filipino workers in the first semester, according to Herrera.

“The remittance growth was due to a boost in hiring. Some of the increase may also be attributed to rising inflation here at home, prompting sailors to send more money to their families to enable them to cope with the surge in food and other consumer prices,” he said.

TUCP has been batting for the aggressive deployment of sailors, nurses and other surplus skilled workers to foreign labor markets, to help ease domestic joblessness and promote a rising standard of living for Filipino families.

“We prefer the deployment of highly skilled surplus labor because they tend to enjoy superior conditions of employment. Since their skills cannot be easily replaced, they are treated well by employers,” Herrera said.

The Philippines has been the world’s chief supplier of sailors since 1987. Some 375,000 Filipinos comprise one-fourth of the estimated 1.5 million merchant mariners worldwide.

The top 10 sources of remittances from Filipino sailors in the first semester were: the United States ($1.326 billion); the United Kingdom ($237.583 million); Germany ($194.844 million); Norway ($183.529 million); Japan ($149.295 million);  Greece ($141.452 million); Hong Kong ($123.084 million); Singapore ($110.194 million); The Netherlands ($45.726 million); and Italy ($23.511 million).

The $223-million jump in remittances from sailors accounted for 36 percent of the aggregate increase in cash transfers from all overseas Filipino workers, both on land- and sea-based, in the first semester.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously reported that remittances from all OFWs hit $11.421 billion from January to June, higher by $621 million, or 5.75 percent, versus the $10.800 billion that they sent home over the same semester in 2013.

Land-based OFWs transferred $8.675 billion from January to June, up $399 million, or 4.82 percent, from the $8.276 billion that they remitted in the same six-month period last year.

Deadly fish

 Ito ang tinatawag na needlefish mula sa website na chesapeakebay.net


COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 29, 2014) – Sugatan ang isang mangingisda matapos itong matuhog umano ng needlefish habang sumisisid sa karagatan di-kalayuan sa Bongo Island na sakop naman ng bayan ng Parang sa Maguindanao province.

Nabatid na nangingisda si Alim Amping, 44, ng ito’y matuhog sa kanyang dibdib habang hinahabaol ang mga kumpol ng needlefish. Bumaon sa katawan nito ang matulis na nguso ng isda kung kaya’t agad itong isinugod sa pagamutan ng mga kasamahan.

Mabuti umano at hindi napuruhan sa kanyang puso ang mangingisda kundi ay baka nasawi ito.

Noong nakaraang Setyembre ay isang mangingisda na si Jesus Guererro, 63, ang nasawi matapos itong matuhog ng needlefish sa kanyang lalamunan sa Zamboanga city.

Kasama ni Jesus ang anak at kapatid at nangisngisda sa karagatan sa Barangay Talabaan ng lumukso ang isda at mahagip ito sa lalamunan. Sa kanyang takot ay bigla umanong hinila ni Jesus ang isda sa leeg at nasawi ito sa dami ng dugong lumabas sa lalamunan.

Bihira ang ganitong mga kaso, ngunit nagaganap lalo na sa mga oras na hindi inaasahan. Sa kabila nito ay lubhang masarap na ulam ang needlefish dahil sa maputing laman nito. Kalimitan ay sinigang o tinola ang pangunahing luto sa needlefish. (Mindanao Examiner)