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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Justice For Maguindanao Massacre Victims; 59 Months Had Passed!


It is 59 months now since the Maguindanao massacre where at least 32 journalists were among 57 people brutally murdered.

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Military will not relent in anti-Sayyaf campaign




ZAMBOANGA CITY - The Philippine military will not relent in its operation against the Abu Sayyaf group in the southern region as security forces continue tracking down militants who are still holding over a dozen foreign and Filipino hostages.

President Benigno Aquino has ordered fresh offensive against the Abu Sayyaf following the safe release of two German hostages Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, who were kidnapped at sea off Palawan province on April 25.

Aquino said the government is carrying out a two-pronged approach in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf. "The government is using military power to crush the rebel group but is also exerting efforts to develop Mindanao. The military and the police are implementing security measures to combat the Abu Sayyaf," he said.

He declined to give details of the ongoing operations, but said the public will see "very significant accomplishments as far as suppressing the Abu Sayyaf is concerned."

He said while military operations are being carried out, the government is also undertaking peace initiatives in Mindanao. "Even before we signed the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), we have been trying to show the people of the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) the benefits of peace," Aquino said.

For instance, Aquino said there are more than 700,000 new beneficiaries in the government health system and that the government's Sajahatra (peace) program is transitioning into a formal institution to give the people livelihood skills so they could participate in the development of Mindanao.

He further said that the Department of Trade and Industry has set up markets for the mangosteen and lanzones produce of Sulu, hoping this would spur economic activity not only in the province, but also in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi as well.

"We will try to change the status quo to get them to buy into the system and be partners in development rather than people who stifle the development activities in the area," Aquino said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Aquino renews commitment to stop media killings

 President Benigno Aquino during the FOCAP forum held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City. (Photo by Michael Rey Baniquet)

 

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino again said his administration will continue to work to stop attacks on members of the press until this number reaches zero.

Speaking to members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Aquino  said things have changed since the martial law years, as the country has returned to democratic rule. "We no longer live in a country where the media is muzzled, or where the government tries to impose its will on journalists," he said.

He said his administration has been in active pursuit of all those who have committed extralegal killings, including those involving media, and the public can already see the effects of the government’s efforts.

"We have made high-profile arrests, recently, most prominently that of retired (army) Major General Jovito Palparan for alleged violations of human rights," Aquino said.

He said there is also a significant reduction of recorded or validated extralegal killings, from a total of 168 during the Arroyo government to 42 in the four years of the present administration.

"Indeed, one could consider this as progress, but make no mistake (because) our administration will not be content until this number reaches zero," he said.

Aquino, in turn, requested the press to protect the truth. "As we continue our efforts to bring to justice all those who have resorted to violence or intimidation to skew or hide the truth, my only request is that the media fulfill its obligation of protecting the truth as well," he said.

He also expressed hope that in making their news reports, the press would exert more effort in defining the problem and describing the situation accurately. "If there was a crime committed, for instance, then media men must be clear about the facts, and the motivations of the culprits to solve the problem," he said.

He also acknowledged that the media are part and parcel of society, and press people must always tell the truth. "That role also means accurately representing the national condition by striking a healthy balance between the positive and the negative," he said.

Aquino also proposed to the members of the press a paradigm shift, saying they could continue criticizing the government but must provide the people uplifting news as well.

"Back then, media taking an adversarial role to government was a symbol of bravery, social responsibility. It was a badge of honor, and rightfully so," he said.

He, however, observed that despite the return of democracy and freedom of the press in the country, some veteran journalists have maintained their jaundiced eyes towards government.

Aquino did not name these journalists, but he said this attitude is no longer compatible with the times, noting that while it is incumbent on the press to tell the truth, it also needs to strike a healthy balance between the positive and the negative news.

"Negativism has driven some members of our media for far too long, and it might one day convince our people that a disproportionate amount of national events are negative; that all is lost and it is foolish to hope," he said.

"By all means, criticize; dialogue has, in many cases, helped accelerate our nation’s development. My only suggestion is for you to make room in your reports for hope. After all, it is also one of the tasks of media to inspire our countrymen with uplifting news."

Aquino said there is no shortage of positive and inspiring news in the country, citing the Mindanao peace process and the performance of the economy as examples.

"Rest assured, the government will do everything in its power to produce even more of these developments to report," he said, appealing to the media to give these stories "their time in the sun."

"Even as you retain a sharp critical eye… still look to inspire and encourage our people along the path to progress," he said. (Mindanao Examiner)


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U.S. Marine in transgender slay detained in Camp Aguinaldo

A Philippine military photo shows AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio P Catapang, Jr., giving orders to his staff officers in Camp Aguinaldo headquarters.


MANILA – A US marine accused in the killing of a Filipino transgender has been transferred Wednesday to a detention facility inside the main headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is being suspected of killing the 26-year old Jeffrey Laude inside Celzone Lodge on October 11.

Laude's body was found inside the bathroom with his head slumped in the toilet bowl and believed to have been strangled to death.

President Benigno Aquino III said Pemberton will undergo a preliminary investigation and will not be accorded special treatment.

“He is not being treated with kid gloves and the Americans - may I reiterate - are conforming to the treaty wherein they have to make this person and others available for both the investigative and the judicial processes that are forthcoming,” Aquino said.

The Philippine military said Pemberton remains in the custody of the U.S. as written in the Visiting Forces Agreement. Local authorities and the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service are jointly investigating the killing.

“The AFP merely provides a detention facility as agreed by both U.S. and Philippine government. Also, the AFP provides security augmentation at the facility. He will stay at this facility while the preliminary investigation is ongoing,” said AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr.

Pemberton, who is part of the U.S. contingent holding a joint military exercises in the Philippines, is being guarded inside a refrigerated bulk container.

Herminio Coloma, a government spokesman, said Manila and Washington will follow the provisions of the VFA in seeking justice for Laude’s murder. The VFA contains specific provisions on the legal processes to ensure that justice will prevail, he said.

Coloma cited Article 5 of the VFA on criminal jurisdiction that the “Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.”

He said Article 5, Paragraph 6 also states that the “custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.”

The U.S. Embassy said: “The United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation.” (Mindanao Examiner)



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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Philippines wants head of Malaysia 'Ponzi King' Manuel Amalilio

 
Manuel Amalilio


PAGADIAN CITY – Manila and Kuala Lumpur is in a tug-of-war over a Malaysian fugitive who is wanted in the Philippines for large scale swindling and estafa.

Scam suspect Manuel Amalilio was arrested in 2013 in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah for using falsified passport after fleeing from the Philippines following the collapse of his company Aman Futures.

Amalilio, who goes by his other name Moh Kamal Sa'aid, was arrested after some of his Filipino victims caught up with him in Kota Kinabalu where he was trying to negotiate with them to pay back their investments.  He was recently released from jail and Malaysia said it will not hand over the fugitive to Philippine authorities because both countries have no extradition treaty.

Amalilio introduced himself in Mindanao as a Malaysian businessman who was into stock trading and money markets and is being accused as behind the P12-billion Ponzi scheme in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province and other parts of the Metro Manila. He operated in Mindanao with his Filipino accomplices who were also arrested and facing criminal charges.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said they will try to convince Malaysia to hand over Amalilio so he can be tried in the Philippines.

De Lima had previously sent a team of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents in Sabah to bring Amalilio back to the Philippines to face criminal charges, but Malaysia refused to hand over the fugitive.

One of his victims in Pagadian, Jerome Luega, said the scam duped thousands of people and affected the local economy. “Many people were affected by this scam. It destroyed the lives of many people who were victimized by Amalilio's scam. We like to see him jailed here in Pagadian so can stand trial and pay his crimes.”

“We know that there is no way we can get back our investments, but to see Amalilio in jail gives us a sense of justice,” Jerome Luega, whose family invested in Aman Futures, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Investors said they put so much money into the trade after its Amalilio promised to pay them as much as 50% profit in just two weeks.

The investment trading began in February 2012 in Pagadian City and news of its high-yield, high-profit spread like wildfire and attracted even street hawkers and tricycle drivers who poured their hard-earned savings into what they believed was an overseas stock and money trading.

During the first weeks of its operation, investors were paid at least 31% and profits increased to 50% in the succeeding weeks – luring not only ordinary citizens, but politicians as well.

The Department of Trade said the people behind the investment trading were able to secure a permit for a business name and that succeeding permits carried various names of owners.

The Securities and Exchange Commission had issued a public warning about the Ponzi scheme, but many investors simply ignored this after being told by the company that they would be paid on time. The Mindanao Examiner was the first to break the news about the scam after some investors complained that they failed to get back their capital.

The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique in 1920. His operation took in so much money that it was the first to become known throughout the United States. Ponzi's original scheme was based on the arbitrage of international reply coupons for postage stamps; however, he soon diverted investors' money to make payments to earlier investors and himself.

It was also the same scheme that American stock broker and investment advisor Bernard Lawrence Madoff – who was arrested in December 2008 - used to lure thousands of clients to invest in his scam. As much as $65 million dollars were believed lost to Madoff’s scam. (Mindanao Examiner)



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Honest cabbie praised



CEBU CITY – A 40-year old cabbie earned praises and accolades after he returned a baggage left behind by his passengers in Cebu City.

Loreto Anthony Zapatalo, who works for the Yudaima Taxi, said three passengers took his cab at the Cebu International Airport in Mactan town and disembarked in the village of Lataban in Liloan town.

The cabbie, a resident of the village of Sambag, said he only discovered the baggage - which was at the car’s compartment - while cleaning the vehicle at the taxi depot. He said he was more worried about the owners of the baggage because he knew how important it was for them.

He said the baggage consisted of a large trolley bag and several doll houses. “Ako ning gi turned-over sa among garahean kay basin naay mangita ani,” he said.

Zapatalo said he decided to turn over the baggage to the Cebu City Public Information Office and sought assistance so the owner can claim them.

The Cebu City Public Information Office said it found a name and an address on the bag and contacted the village officials in Lataban so they can help find the owner of the baggage. And it was only recently that the owner, Mischelle Lusterious, finally claimed the baggage.

The 32-year old woman, who presented her identification cards and passport to prove her ownership of the baggage, has praised the cabbie’s honesty and all those who helped in locating her. Lusterious said the bag contains her personal belongings and some documents.

Zapatalo, a father of three, said he was elated that the owner finally claimed the baggage. “Naa man koy anak ug gipadako mi nga tarong, maong ako ning e-uli kay dili man ni ako, dalhon pod ni sa akong konsensya kung dili nako mauli,” he said.

It was not the first time that the cabbie has returned items left behind by his passengers and over a period of 10 years, Zapatalo returned various valuable things from cell phones to laptop computers to their owners. (Greggy Jiggs Senados)

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Titulo sa luna sa 103 ka mga kabus nga pamilya



CEBU CITY - Mokabat sa 103 ka mga molupyo sa dakbayan sa Sugbo ang nakadawat og titulo sa luna nga ilang gipuy-an sa dugay'ng panahon human gipang-apod apod kini sa pagpangulo ni Mayor Michael Rama diha sa ganghaan sa City Hall Legislative Building sa Plaza Sugbo.

Kabahin sa nakadawat sa ilang Original Certificate of Title mao ang mga residente sa Barangay Tinago nga may 16 ka mga benepisyaryo ug Barangay Duljo Fatima nga aduna usab kiniy 16 nga pulos pinaagi sa Residential Free Patent program.

Samtang nakadawat usab sa ilang Transfer Certificate of Titles ang 17 ka molupyo sa Barangays Kasambagan, ingun man ang 34 ka mga residente sa Barangay Bulacao og kini pinaagi sa socialized housing program nga pinaagi sa Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor.

Nakadawat usab ang19 ka mga residente gikan sa Barangay Pasil ug laing tulo gikan sa Barangay Mambaling nga mga benepisyaryo sa slum improvement and resettlement program.

Gipadayag sa pangulo sa Land Management Council nga si Atty. Jade Ponce nga ang maong pagpang-apod apod sa titulo kabahin kini sa pagtuman sa kamanduan sa mayor ubos sa "land to the landless" program nga manghatag og usa ka libo ka titulo karung tuiga ngadto sa mga kabus nga pamilya nga dugay nang nagpuyo sa mga luna nga gipanag-iya sa gobyerno kun public land.

Gibutyag ni Ponce nga aduna pay laing kapin sa 200 ka mga applications ang kasamtangang gi proceso diha sa Department of Environment and Natural Resources ug sa Register of Deeds kinsa mao usab ang partner sa dakbayan sa pagpatuman sa maong programa.

Malaumon si Ponce nga makuha ra ang orden sa mayor nga usa ka libo ka titulo kun walay masugatang mga kakulian sa proseso hilabi na sa mga rekisito niini.

Nidugang si Ponce nga mag-agad usab ang LMC sa kooperasyon sa mga aplikante hilabi na pagbayad sa mga regulatory fees niini sa mga ahensiya ug ubang mga rekisitong gipangayo sama sa approved plan sa maong mga luna.

Nasayran nga nakapang-apod apod na ang dakbayan og 62 ka susamang mga titulo niadtong Pebrero sayo ning tuiga. (Cebu Examiner, Elite)


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Batakang Serbisyo Dalhon ngadto sa Ganghaan sa mga Sugbuanon: Cebu Mayor Rama




CEBU CITY – Kabahin sa misyon sa pang-gobiyerno ni Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama mao ang pagdala sa batakang serbisyo sa City Hall ngadto sa ganghaan o kaugalingong tugkaran sa mga Sugbuanon. Dili man kini literal nga tugkaran sa ilang mga panimalay apan ngadto gayod sa ilang mga barangay.

Agig pag tuman niini, gimandoan ni Mayor Rama ang Frontline Cluster Services sa City Hall sa pagpahigayon ug senemana nga community outreach nga mas nailhang ‘City Hall at Your Doorstep,’ kon 'Piyesta sa Pagpangalagad,' diin matag adlawng Biyernes dalhon ang mga serbisyo sa 22 ka mga departamento sa City Hall ngadto sa mga kabarangayan niining dakbayan.

Kanunay nga gibalik-balik sa Mayor nga: “Ato kining buhaton lukop ning dakbayan, kamong katawhan angay gayod hatagan sa tim-os nga pangalagad sa ngalan sa tiunay nga serbisyo. Ako lang hangyo nga tabangan ko ninyo diha sa pagtul-id sa hiwi, pagnindot sa bati, paglimpiyo sa hugaw, pagwagtang sa baho, ug paghan-ay sa gubot.”

Kahinumduman nga miabot ngadto sa kapin sa 500 ngadto sa liboan ka mga lumulopyo kada barangay ang naka benepisyo ning libreng mga batakang pagpangalagad nga gidala sa maong outreach program.

Ang maong programa nagahatag ug batakang panerbisyo sa katawhan sama sa libreng kosultasyon sa rehisro sa pagkatawo, pagpakasal, ug pagkamatay; libreng tuli alang sa mga kabataan; libreng medikal nga konsultasyon, ug pag-ibot sa ngipon; pagpang limpyo sa mga kanal ug drainage; pagpanaod ug pagpang-ayo sa mga street lights; libreng rehistro, kapon ug bakuna sa mga iro ug iring; libreng laboratory services sama sa blood-typing ug blood sugar testing; libreng feeding sa mga kabataan; libreng pagpanghatag ug mga seedlings ug nagkadaiyang mga tambal; ug libreng seminar sa epekto sa pagamit ug ginadiling druga, traffic rules, mga kalambuan sa dakbayan, ug uban pa. (Greggy Jiggs Senados)


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Cops rescue Pagadian teeners from karaoke house



PAGADIAN CITY – Police rescued 6 people, mostly teenagers, who were recruited to work in a karaoke house in Zamboanga del Sur province in southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said the teenagers, who are residents of Pagadian City, were recovered at the bar owned by Gloria Pacatang and Sita Mandano in the town of Pitogo.

The parents of one of the teenagers sought the help of the police after learning their daughter, along with the others, were lured to work in Pitogo town without their consent.

The rescued victims were handed to municipal social workers for counseling before being reunited with their families. Police are investigating the recruiter of the teenagers. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Burglars hit Zamboanga school




ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two burglars carted away a coffee machine and a microwave oven worth over P300,000 from a private school in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said Tuesday.

Police said PO3 Ralph Carpio, a security escort of Crisanto dela Cruz, of the Nuevo Zamboanga School, reported the burglary which occurred on the night of October 19 in Pasobolong village.

A video recorded by a close circuit television camera inside the school showed two men, their faces covered with t-shirt, passed through kitchen of the school’s restaurant and took the coffee machine and oven.

One of the men was also carrying a bolo. Police are investigating the burglary. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Security Officials to ‘Face the People’ in Sulu Province

 A police convoy in Sulu province in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
 

SULU – Top Philippine military and police officials will have their hands full when they attend a public dialogue Friday in Sulu province to answer all allegations that authorities facilitated the payments of ransom to Abu Sayyaf militants in exchange for the release of two kidnapped German yachters.

The dialogue was the offshoot of a meeting on Monday by representatives of various civil society groups and different sectors with Sulu Gov. Toto Tan, who heads the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and its special ad hoc crisis committee handling the hostage crisis.

Among those expected to attend the dialogue are top officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and they are expected to answer questions regarding the October 17 release of Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, in exchange for P250 million ransom.

The ransom negotiations and release of the foreigners were so secretive that the military did not even inform the PPOC and the crisis committee about it. Up to now, the AFP and PNP have not submitted a report to the PPOC.

Gov. Tan said the PPOC and the crisis committee only learned about the release of the hostages after the media broke out the news. “We were not informed about that the hostages were already rescued and it was only through media reports that we became aware that they were rescued Friday night and (already) in the custody of the Armed Forces (of the Philippines,” he said.

The military strongly insisted that no ransom was paid for the release of two German nationals and even dared anyone to come up with evidence that ransom had been paid to the Abu Sayyaf.

An Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Aboo Rami, told Radio Mindanao Network in Zamboanga City, that they freed the two German yachters after getting the P250 million ransoms. The hostages were recovered by policemen, but were whisked away by soldiers and brought to a military base in Jolo town and not even the local mayor was told about the release of the Germans.

The duo was heading to Sabah in Malaysia on a private yacht from a holiday in Palawan province when militants who were returning to the southern Philippines from a failed kidnapping in Sabah spotted the Germans and seized them on April 25.

According to sources, leaders of civil society and sectoral groups in Sulu are preparing their position papers which they would submit – through Gov. Tan – to AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang and PNP Director General Alan Purisima.

Provincial legislators and mayors are also expected to pass a separate resolution in connection with the military’s action that totally ignored civilian authorities when it hid information of the hostages’ release which was cloak in secrecy.

Sources said the position papers may also include suggestions and measures to improve the organizational structures on public order and law enforcement operations that would likely involved participation of community leaders to help authorities curb criminality in the province.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, a military spokesman, insisted the foreigners were freed by their kidnappers due to pressure exerted by security forces – a line which the military have used many times in previous release of foreign hostages by the Abu Sayyaf.

“Just wondering if anyone here personally saw the P250 Million cold cash in the hands of Abu Sayyaf? Let's not believe the word of Abu Rami as if he is Jesus Christ. Di na natin mababawi ang ating pinagsasabi kung mali tayo. Unless, may magsabi dito saksi sya mismo nag abot si Mr You ng pera kay Mr Abu, walang nakakasiguro,” he said in a reaction to Facebook commentaries by “netizens” on the reported payment of ransoms to the Abu Sayyaf.

Sources in Sulu said a private jet delivered 12 trolley bags containing ransoms in Jolo and that several bags full of money had been left in the plane.

Cabunoc branded the Abu Sayyaf statement as “propaganda” and even cited allegations in the past against the military that it delivered ransom to the militant group to buy the freedom of hostages in Basilan province in 2001. He said the military does not negotiate with terrorists.

“Well, I’m used to shooting terrorists. We don't negotiate with those bastards when I was in the frontline. Soldiers like me have died fighting these bandits. Masakit din sa kalooban namin kung gawan ng kwentong ganyan. Kasuhan nyo kung sino may kasalanan. Kahit naman siguro kayo, kung nahuhusgahan sa social media ay di rin matutuwa kung pagtatawanan. Patas lang po. Tinatawanan din tayo ng mga Abu Sayyaf at ng mga kurakot at tiwali na dahilan di maubos ubos ang mga iyan,” said Cabunoc, who was previously assigned in Basilan where he fought the Abu Sayyaf.

It was unknown what role the military played in the ransom negotiations, but Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said: “The AFP has no information on that (ransom payments) but suffice to say that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security forces do not and will not negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers.”

The release of the Germans came hours after security forces launched an operation in an effort to capture Abu Sayyaf militants holding foreign hostages in Sulu.  Officials said police and military, armed with arrest warrants, are presently intensifying law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen are hiding in civilian communities and have moved their hostages from different hideouts and making it extremely difficult for security forces to track them down of rescue them.

Another Abu Sayyaf faction also threatened to kill Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was kidnapped along with a Filipino worker on June 16 this year from a fish farm in the town of Kunak in Tawau District. The militants are demanding 3 million ringgits (P41 million) for the safe release of the fish breeder.

It is also holding captive a Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was seized on June 12 also this year following a clash in Sabah that killed another policeman. The militants are demanding 5 million ringgits (P68.3 million).

The militants are still holding hostage a 64-year old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; and two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were taken captive in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in the southern Tawi-Tawi province in 2012. And several Filipinos kidnapped in other provinces and brought to Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner)



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Munisipyo ng Sirawai nasunog




ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE - Naabo ang munisipyo ng Sirawai sa Zamboanga del Norte province matapos itong lamunin ng apoy kaninang madaling araw at short circuit umano sa electrical connection ang sinisisi ng awtoridad sa naganap.

Nagsimula umano ang sunog sa tanggapan ng Department of Social Welfare and Development at kumalat ito sa naturang gusali hanggang sa madamay ang munispyo. Nasunog rin ang ibat-ibang sasakyan, kabilang ang isang dump truck at isang police patrol car at tatlong motorsiklo.

Nabatid na nasunog rin ang isang caliber .30 machine gun at walong M16 automatic rifles at isang shot gun, kabilang ang dalawang M203 rifles at isang grenade launcher sa himpilan ng pulisya. Nadamay rin sa sunog ang bahay na pagaari ni Benjamin Caragan na dating parak sa naturang lugar.

Nagtagal ng higit sa dalawang oras ang sunog. Tumulong rin ang mga sundalo upang ma-secure ang kapaligiran habang inaapula ng mga bumbero ang apoy na kumalat sa iba pang mga gusali sa sentro ng bayan. (Mindanao Examiner)





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Droga nasabat sa Cotabato checkpoint

Todo-bantay ang sundalo at parak sa isang checkpoint sa Cotabato City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)


COTABATO CITY – Hawak ng mga awtoridad ngayon ang tatlong katao matapos silang mahulihan ng mahigit sa isang kilong shabu sa checkpoint sa Cotabato City.

Nadakip umano ang tatlo na sakay ng isang truck nitong Oktubre 20 ng gabi matapos na makatanggap ng impormasyon ang Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency na may kargang droga ang sasakyan. Hindi pinangalanan ng PDEA ang mga suspek dahil may follow up operations pa ito.

Hindi naman sinabi ng PDEA kung saan galing at patungo ang naturang droga at patuloy ang imbestigasyon sa mga suspek. Nabatid na kabilang sa iniimbestigahan ay mag-asawa, subali’t walang impormasyon kung ang mga ito ba ay drug dealer or courier ng isang drug syndicate.

Kasama ang pulisya ng Cotabato sa naturang operasyon ng PDEA. (Mindanao Examiner)



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Politician implicated in murder of journalist surrenders, denies allegations



DAVAO CITY - The local chapter of the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines welcomed the surrender Monday of former Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas who is being accused in the murder of journalist Nestor Bedolido in 2010.

Cagas, accompanied by his lawyers and supporters, surrendered to the police and denied all accusations against him.

“This is, indeed, a positive development in the quest for justice for our fellow journalist, Bedolido.  Governor Cagas, despite being implicated in Bedolido’s murder, continue to maintain his innocence and he has his day in court to prove that he has nothing to do with the killing. Though Cagas’ surrender does not mean guilt on his part but we should keep an eye on the case to ensure that justice would be served for our slain colleague and the guilty should be punished,” the media watch dog said in a statement.
The NUJP urged journalists and media workers to remain vigilant and follow the progress of the Bedolido case.

Bedolido, who was 50 years old when killed by motorcycle gunmen, worked as a consultant for the weekly tabloid Kastigador. He was fatally shot along Quezon Avenue in Digos City on June 19, 2010.

Television network GMA 7 also reported that Cagas maintained his innocence and this is the reason why he submitted to the authorities.

Quoting a report from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), GMA 7 said Bedolido, who previously worked for a provincial magazine of Cagas, transferred to the Mt. Apo Current magazine which was allegedly controlled by the political rival of the former governor.

It said the alleged gunman, Voltaire Mirafuentes, surrendered to the police in October 2010 and implicated Cagas, but prosecutors said testimony was not admissible as evidence in court. A witness to the murder, Ritchie Manapol, pointed to Mirafuentes as the gunman, but he was also shot in Davao City.

According to CMFR, Cagas was cleared by the Prosecutor General and Investigating Prosecutor, but Justice Secretary Leila de Lima reversed the resolutions. (Mindanao Examiner, with additional reports from GMA 7, NUJP and CMFR.)


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Basilan cops lose bomber in chase



BASILAN PROVINCE – A suspected bomber managed to flee from the police after he was intercepted in Isabela City in the restive province of Basilan in southern Philippines, officials said Monday.

Officials said the unidentified man abandoned a bag containing three 60mm mortar bombs, parts of a cellular phone and other bomb paraphernalia. He was spotted by members of the 15th Special Force Company at a cemetery in the village of La Piedad.

Policemen fired warning shots but the man continued running and disappeared inside the cemetery.

A series of bombings have been reported in Isabela City in recent weeks and police largely blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the attacks. But in one attack, the bomber fled on board a pick-up truck which was unlikely the handiwork of the militant group.



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Monday, October 20, 2014

Filipino farmers begin campaign to complete agrarian reform program




BACOLOD CITY - Hundreds of farmers belonging to national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad kicked off a series of campaigns for the continuation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) with implementation reforms.

The campaign is part of a nationwide drive to push Congress and the present administration to speed up and complete the distribution of all agricultural landholdings to landless tillers nationwide before President Benigno Aquino steps down from office in June 2016.

Dubbed “Pangatok sa Puertahan Sang Congressmen,” the Negros Occidental leg of the campaign was launched October 20 with TFM farmers’ march starting from the Bacolod Capitol to the residences and district offices of members of the House of Representatives in the province and a door-to-door delivery of appeal letters to the lawmakers to vote for the immediate passage of House Bill 4296 and House Bill 4375.

House Bill 4296 seeks to renew the Department of Agrarian Reform’s authority to issue notices of coverage and provide funding for agricultural landholdings that have not yet been placed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). 

The HB 4296 was certified as urgent by Aquino four months ago but has not yet been passed by the House on third and final reading. The Senate has already done its part by approving last September its counterpart Senate Bill 2278 authored by Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

House Bill 4375 seeks to create an independent Agrarian Reform Commission with legal powers of subpoena and contempt that would review the actual accomplishment of CARP and investigate circumvention and violations of the CARP Law. 

The same proposed measure would protect the interest of farmer-beneficiaries by compulsorily acquiring and distributing agricultural landholdings found to have circumvented the program. The HB 4375 was only passed by the House on second reading and needs a counterpart bill from the Senate.

“Sa kabila ng sobrang paghihirap na aming dinaranas dahilan sa kawalan ng karapatang ariin ang lupang aming pinagyaman at magtamasa ng bunga ng aming pinaghirapan ay hindi pa rin po kami nawawalan ng pag-asa. Ito po ay dahil sa alam naming may mga mambabatas na katulad n’yo na magtatanggol sa aming karapatan,” reads a portion of the letter that was delivered to Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia and Negros Occidental 4th District Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer.

“Ang pagsang-ayon po ninyo at pagboto na ma-aprubahan ang House Bill 4296 na inihain nina Congressman Teddy Baguilat and Cresente Paez at House Bill 4375 na inihain nina Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao at Leni Robredo ay isang napakalaking hakbang po para matupad ang aming pangarap na ariin ang lupang aming sinasaka,” TFM told the lawmakers in the appeal letters.

The farmers will deliver the same letters either to the residences or district offices of the following Negros representatives: Franz Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District); George Arnaiz (Negros Oriental, 2nd District); Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District); Leo Rafael Cueva (Negros Occ., 2nd District); Manuel Iway (Negros Or., 1st District); Julio Ledesma IV (Negros Occ., 1st District); Alejandro Mirasol (Negros Occ., 5th District); Pryde Henry Teves (Negros Or., 3rd District); and Mercedes Alvarez (Negros Or., 3rd District).

Also, a separate letter with the same appeal was sent by the Social Action Center-Diocese of Bacolod to the same Negros lawmakers, which was signed by the SAC’s Director Fr. Ernie Larida.


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Philippine military dares anyone to come out and show proof ransom was paid to Abu Sayyaf

 An army soldier in Sulu province in southern Philippines (Library File - Mindanao Examiner Photo)


MANILA – The Philippine military has strongly insisted that no ransom was paid for the release of two German nationals kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf and dared anybody to come up with evidence that ransom had been paid to militants in Sulu province.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Aboo Rami, told Radio Mindanao Network in Zamboanga City, that they freed the two German yachters - Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55 – on October 17 after receiving the ransom. The Abu Sayyaf demanded P250 million ransoms from Germany in exchange for the freedom of the hostages.

The duo was heading to Sabah in Malaysia on a private yacht from a holiday in Palawan province when militants who were returning to the southern Philippines from a failed kidnapping in Sabah spotted the Germans and seized them on April 25.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, a military spokesman, insisted the foreigners were freed by their kidnappers due to pressure exerted by security forces – a line which the military have used many times in previous release of foreign hostages by the Abu Sayyaf.

“Just wondering if anyone here personally saw the P250 Million cold cash in the hands of Abu Sayyaf? Let's not believe the word of Abu Rami as if he is Jesus Christ. Di na natin mababawi ang ating pinagsasabi kung mali tayo. Unless, may magsabi dito saksi sya mismo nag abot si Mr You ng pera kay Mr Abu, walang nakakasiguro,” he said in a reaction to Facebook commentaries by “netizens” on the reported payment of ransoms to the Abu Sayyaf.

Sources in Sulu said a private jet delivered 12 trolley bags containing ransoms in Jolo and that several bags full of money had been left in the plane.

Cabunoc branded the Abu Sayyaf statement as “propaganda” and even cited allegations in the past against the military that it delivered ransom to the militant group to buy the freedom of hostages in Basilan province in 2001. He said the military does not negotiate with terrorists.

“Well, I’m used to shooting terrorists. We don't negotiate with those bastards when I was in the frontline. Soldiers like me have died fighting these bandits. Masakit din sa kalooban namin kung gawan ng kwentong ganyan. Kasuhan nyo kung sino may kasalanan. Kahit naman siguro kayo, kung nahuhusgahan sa social media ay di rin matutuwa kung pagtatawanan. Patas lang po. Tinatawanan din tayo ng mga Abu Sayyaf at ng mga kurakot at tiwali na dahilan di maubos ubos ang mga iyan,” said Cabunoc, who was previously assigned in Basilan where he fought the Abu Sayyaf.

It was unknown what role the military played in the ransom negotiations, but Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said: “The AFP has no information on that (ransom payments) but suffice to say that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other security forces do not and will not negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers.”

The release of the Germans came hours after security forces launched an operation in an effort to capture Abu Sayyaf militants holding foreign hostages in Sulu.  Officials said police and military, armed with arrest warrants, are presently intensifying law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf, which recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Officials also said troops have recovered abandoned encampments in Sulu’s Patikul town used by the Abu Sayyaf in hiding the German hostages. It was unknown why the military failed to take immediate actions against the Abu Sayyaf shortly after the release of the Germans and this gave the militants ample time to split into several groups and escaped despite the thousands of troops that surrounded their lairs.

The military also kept the Sulu crisis committee and provincial leaders in the dark and was not even informed about the release of the hostages. The Germans were recovered by policemen near a checkpoint, but were immediately taken away by soldiers and brought to a military camp in Jolo town.

The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) which formed a special ad-hoc crisis committee headed by Governor Toto Tan was not even informed by the military of the release of the hostages and no security officials have briefed the PPOC about it.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen are hiding in civilian communities and have moved their hostages from different hideouts and making it extremely difficult for security forces to track them down of rescue them.

Another Abu Sayyaf faction also threatened to kill Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was kidnapped along with a Filipino worker on June 16 this year from a fish farm in the town of Kunak in Tawau District. The militants are demanding 3 million ringgits (P41 million) for the safe release of the fish breeder.

It is also holding captive a Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was seized on June 12 also this year following a clash in Sabah that killed another policeman. The militants are demanding 5 million ringgits (P68.3 million)

The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a 64-year old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; and two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were taken captive in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in the southern Tawi-Tawi province in 2012.

The Abu Sayyaf group now has hundreds of members in the southern Philippines, particularly in the Muslim autonomous region. The military failed to stop the growing influence and violent campaigns of the militant group because it did not sustain the combat operations needed to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf in the restive region.

The US military is assisting the local military in anti-terrorism operation against the Abu Sayyaf, which previously attacked and killed American soldiers in Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner)


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New act proposed to better combat terrorism in Malaysia




THE HOME MINISTRY has proposed the creation of a new act to replace the existing laws to combat terrorism more effectively, said its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the proposed new act would further strengthen the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) and the Prevention of Crime Act.

"Such a new act would not only further facilitate the fight against terrorism but would also enable early measures to be taken to prevent the recruitment of volunteer militants."

Ahmad Zahid said this at a news conference after attending the Gempur Magic programme organised by the Selangor Youth Council and National Civics Bureau at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, here, today.

He said the spread of Islamic militant activities to this country must be stemmed immediately, what more with the attempts by militant groups to recruit school students for such activities through the social websites.

The minister said there would be continuous monitoring of social websites by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the social media monitoring units of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) to curb militant activities.

He said there would also be sharing of information with the MAF if there were militant training nests for recruits detected.

"We are confident of arresting more people and gathering information which all this while was very much needed to ensure that Malaysia is not turned into a training ground by militant groups for jihadists to be sent to fight in Syria, Iraq and other turbulent countries."

He also said that hopefully, the meeting between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could resolve problems in the southern Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, thus also checking the recruitment of future jihadists there.

On the United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur reportedly putting pressure on Malaysia to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, Ahmad Zahid said the US should respect Malaysia's political and legal systems. (Bernama)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Philippine rebels say military detains humanitarian worker



DAVAO CITY – Philippine rebels have accused the military of detaining a humanitarian worker after being tagged as a member of the communist front in Mindanao.

The Eastern Mindanao Command said security forces captured Dominiciano Muya on October 16 after policemen and soldiers intercepted him in the village of Mankilam in Tagum City. Muya was travelling alone on a motorcycle when security forces stopped him at the checkpoint.

Capt. Alberto Caber, an army spokesman, said troops seized a pistol and a hand grenade from Muya, who is included in the government’s most wanted list for various murder cases that included the killings of policemen Marito Correos and Rey Ejercito in Agusan del Sur province in June 2004, and Lt. Lucresio Julampong, Jr, in Davao Oriental province in 2009.

He said Muya, who has a P4.8 million bounty on his head, is a regional staff member of the New People’s Army Executive Committee and was a former staff of the New People’s Army in North-eastern Mindanao Regional Committee and former Secretary of Guerrilla Front 18 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

But the NPA has strongly denied the military allegations. “The New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Command assails the malicious and fake charges imputed against Dominiciano Muya who was presented to the media by the 10th Infantry Division as a high ranking NPA official in the region,” said Rigoberto Sanchez, who spoke for the rebel group.

“The orchestrated arrest in Tagum City - in an outrageous story line replete with standard planted grenade and .45 pistol in Muya’s possession - was not only implausible, it also showed the AFP’s mercenary scheme to siphon off the P4-million reward money at the expense of an NGO worker who had a legitimate profession as an educator and agriculture expert for indigenous peoples schools.  Muya’s arrest was a shameless money-making plot of a corrupt Army unit,” he added.

He said the military manufactured the criminal charges based on pure imagination - it accused Muya as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Regional Committee to portray him as its enemy in order to discredit his work in the countryside as a committed educator of sustainable agriculture among indigenous peoples schools.   

Sanchez said the arrest and detention of Muya is part of the military’s crackdown against peace advocates, educators and nongovernmental workers who are serving poor and neglected tribes and peasants in Talaingod and Kapalong towns and other parts of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and other provinces in Mindanao.

“Muya’s capture is the handiwork of a desperate Army that is fast running out of dirty tricks to harass NGOs who are closely working with the masses for basic education and other social services. The 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command is hell-bent in closing down indigenous peoples schools which it wantonly labels as NPA structures in order to stop genuine development in these areas.”

“The military is allergic to far-flung private schools and any mass undertaking, seeing these endeavors as impediments to foreign large-scale mining and capitalist incursions in the resource-rich forests and ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. By arresting, detaining, or harassing teachers in the countryside, they are scheming to instil fear among NGOs, activists, advocates and civil libertarians.  The masses should see to these anti-people machinations and struggle against these gross human rights abuses,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Eastern Mindanao Command headed by Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, but he earlier commended security forces for Muya’s capture. He also ordered army forces to intensify the campaign against the rebel group which has been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate communist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)


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Sayyafs escape with loot after release of 2 kidnapped Germans

A US Navy Sea Hawk chopper lands in Sulu province in the southern Philippines. (Library File - Mindanao Examiner Photo)


SULU – The Philippine military has virtually allowed Abu Sayyaf militants to escape with their loot following the release of two German nationals in exchange for a huge ransom in the southern Sulu province.

Officials said troops have recovered an abandoned encampment in Patikul town used by the Abu Sayyaf in holding Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55. Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Aboo Rami, said they freed the two German yachters late Friday after receiving the ransom.

The military also kept the Sulu crisis committee and provincial leaders in the dark as ransom was being delivered to the Abu Sayyaf for the safe release of the Germans. They were recovered by policemen near a checkpoint, but were immediately taken away by soldiers to a military camp in Jolo town.

The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) which formed a special ad-hoc crisis committee headed by Governor Toto Tan was not even informed by the military of the release of the hostages and no security officials have briefed the PPOC about it.

In a television interview in Manila, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, a military spokesman, insisted the foreigners were freed by their kidnappers due to pressure exerted by security forces – a line which the military have used many times in previous release of foreign hostages by the Abu Sayyaf.

Security forces have not launched an immediate operation against the Abu Sayyaf following the release of the hostages which gave the militants ample time to split into several groups and escaped.

The Abu Sayyaf demanded P250 million ransoms from Germany in exchange for the freedom of the hostages. The militants were returning to the southern Philippines from a failed kidnapping in Sabah in Malaysia when they spotted the yachters and seized them on April 25. The duo was heading to Sabah from a holiday in the Philippines.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen are hiding in civilian communities and have moved their hostages from different hideouts and making it extremely difficult for security forces to track them down of rescue them.

Another Abu Sayyaf faction also threatened to kill Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was kidnapped along with a Filipino worker on June 16 this year from a fish farm in the town of Kunak in Tawau District. The militants are demanding 3 million ringgits (P41 million) for the safe release of the fish breeder.

It is also holding captive a Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was seized on June 12 also this year following a clash in Sabah that killed another policeman. The militants are demanding 5 million ringgits (P68.3 million)

The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a 64-year old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; and two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were taken captive in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in the southern Tawi-Tawi province in 2012.

The Abu Sayyaf group now has hundreds of members in the southern Philippines, particularly in the Muslim autonomous region. The military failed to stop the growing influence and violent campaigns of the militant group because it did not sustain the combat operations needed to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf in the restive region.

The US military is assisting the local military in anti-terrorism operation against the Abu Sayyaf, which recently pledged allegiance to the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.   (Mindanao Examiner)


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